Sunday, February 23, 2014

Apeldoorn Unitl I Die! Grandpa Israelsen and President Van Rij, My Last Zone Conference and The Power of Prayer

Oh my goodness. This week has definitely been interesting.  The week before transfers is always a little weird because you never know what is going to happen.  We have been super busy and just having a fun time.  We taught 7 lessons with a member present this week, that may not sound like a lot to some of you...but it is.  We have four progressing investigators as of right now and the work is starting to pick up here in the Belgium/Netherlands mission. 
So, I just want to fill you all in on what is going down.  The mission is starting a facebook and campaign.  They have been given permission from Salt Lake to start their own facebook page and they are also making a separate and sort of lds.orgwebsite for just Nederland.  They have been seeing a lot of success in Gent, Belgium with this idea and it is coming to a Nederland near you!!  It is amazing to see how the Lord is using the internet to do His work.  I am always amazed at the people and referrals that come from this campaign and I am excited for the future that the mission has.  Nederland is ranked third in the world when it comes to internet usage so the fact that we are now reaching out through the devices that everyone uses everyday, the work is going a lot faster.  I love it!!  And it is also cool because I am learning ways that I can continue to be a missionary when the time comes that I will no longer wear a name tag.
This week, I met a President Van Rij.  Grandpa Israelsen, he served with you and Earl here in the mission 60 years ago.  He only had good things to say about you and loves you very much!!  I was supposed to do the groetjes!!  It is such a privilege to be able to meet people that you have served with.  They all love you and remember you.  It is a wonderful thing!!
I also had my last Zone Conference this week.  That is weird to say....and I don't really like it.  But I learned a lot.  Specifically from Sister Robinson.  She talked about the doctrine of simple things.  I have been learning a lot lately about how we, as missionaries, are really just the tools in the Lords hands to do His work.  I am a small and simple thing.  I am not very good at being a sales woman, I am not good at a lot of the things that are asked of us as missionaries, but that is the sweet, sweet thing about small and simple things.  They are small, simple and do not have much significance.  Small things are not always recognized by people on the street or given much attention.  Small things are not meant to be flashy, perfect and shiny.  Small things are there and the Lord will never forget about them.  Small things are the means by which He is able to work because those things that are small and recognize that they owe everything to God are those who become great.  It has been really cool to be able to look back at the time that I have had here in Apeldoorn and love every moment of it.  But also to recognize that I really did not do a thing.  All I did was try.  All I have done is my best and the Lord has been able to use me and my personality to touch the lives of many others.
I have learned a lot about the power of prayer this week.  I love prayer.  I don't think that I have ever been able to say that more than I have on my mission.  But specifically this last week.  We have been studying humility together as a mission this week in the Book of Mormon and it always amazes me how the prophets are able to know their limits and to rely on the Lord and on others.  I decided that I was going to consciously rely on the Lord this week.  I have been carrying around a lot of...I guess you would call them...guilty feelings.  I can't really describe what I have been feeling.  But it seems like through the entire time I have been here, I have not been able to accomplish a lot because I have not been able to do things perfectly.  It's like I have tried to get straight A's all of my life or something.  But here, there is no such thing as an A.  There is only my best effort.  But because we, as people, try to hold ourselves to perfection, or because we compare ourselves with others around us who have more skills than us, we feel inadequate.  I have been able to really kneel down and have a personal conversation with my Heavenly Father.  I was able to tell Him all of the things that I feel like I have not been able to do well, or the things that I am still struggling with.  But I have also bee able to talk with Him about those things that I have been able to see that have brought success.  I have felt His love as He has assured me that everything I have done and been through in my time here has been worth it and for a purpose.  And just because I may not be able to see my success as other missionaries may be able to see theirs, I have still been able to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord.  I was blessed with the remembrance of many instances that I was able to say or do small and simple things that really made a big difference to those that I was serving.  And, in sacrament meeting, I was able to feel those feelings of guilt or inadequacy leave.  I know that I am not perfect, but I also know that since I have been here, I have given it my all.  I have put forth my best effort.  I only know that because I was able to really see the power of prayer in my own life. 
What was beautiful, is that I have also really been able to see that change, or that realization come into the lives of a few of our investigators.  We had two investigators say their first prayers ever this last week.  What an amazing experience it is, to sit there and listen as someone offers up their first, simple prayer to God.  What is beautiful is that God works through simple things, and simply because they are willing to try, He is able to make a big difference in their lives.  I have seen them feel the spirit.  They have received a confirmation that God is there and that He cares about them. 
I challenge you to think about your life.  Do you feel alone?  Inadequate?  Lost?  Do you feel as though no one cares?  Or that you are not doing anything worth while?  Do you have other feelings of anger, hatred, depression etc?  How could prayer help you?  It has helped me to let go of the fact that I am not perfect, to realize that all I can do is my best and that God loves me enough to pick up the slack.  That is what I have been struggling with the most and I have felt the relief and peace and happiness that comes from the power of prayer.  Pray you guys!! 
We also celebrated some Valentines Day goodness.  Sister Brophy and I spent many nights after the hours of 9.30 cutting out hearts.  We spent our Valentines day Heart attacking the members in Apeldoorn.  We got caught a few times...sad day...mostly by the little children (aka Mikki and Kevin)  But it was a party.  We also were able to set two baptisimal dates with two of our investigators.  We were feeling the love for the members and also from God!!! :D I have been waiting until the end to tell you guys what is happening with transfers.................drum roll please........

I AM STAYING IN APELDOORN UNTIL THE DAY THAT I DIE!!!!  I am so grateful for this opportunity!!  I love this place and can't wait to see what the next six weeks hold in store!! 
I love you all!!  I hope that you have a great week!!  Don't have too much fun!!
Zuster Israelsen

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