Monday, December 28, 2015

DO NOT GIVE UP

 December 28, 2015
The amount of cars I almost get run over by everyday is amazing. My angels are probably like "Hermana Israelsen is walking in the middle of the road again nose goes!"
On the bright side I managed to lose both my water bottle filters this week but then I found one of them again, then I lost that one again, but then I found it again!
My companion things I look like Miley Cyrus and the other day we were walking back from lunch but we have to climb this huge hill and everytime I just stare at the top like... dang it... So I started belting "The Climb," by Miley Cyrus. My companion was just laughing because I was getting so into it but then I had weirdly had a spiritual experience singing this song. Hahaha so the lyrics go "You may not know it but these are the moments that I'm going to remember most yeah just gotta keep going!" Seriously though how many days do you spend looking forward to the weekend or tomorrow or the next break from school. How many days do we spend looking forward to the next. In the mission it's easy to think "Ok, I just have to make it through this transfer or the first 6 months and then I will be happy." If we focus our time waiting for the "big" things to happen we miss out on all the little things. It's those little moments that make life so enjoyable. The note from your 5 year old kid that you need spell check or google translate to help you understand what on earth they wrote you?! It's that you came home and mom made your favorite dinner! Or the lady who bagged your groceries told you she liked your shoes. It's the little moments of every day that make you smile. THOSE are the moments that you are going to remember. Those little moments will one day become the BIG moments.
Have you ever had someone jump on your back and want a piggy back ride but you don't want to give them one so they are just awkwardly hanging on your neck because you will not grab their legs? This is how I feel everyday with Satan. He's like that annoying little kid who keeps jumping on your back and won't get off. Somedays I am so tempted to just give into his voice. Somedays I feel like I am just barely holding on. But the point is that YOU DO NOT GIVE UP! That little tiny voice that says "but what if it gets better?" LISTEN TO IT! HOLD ON TO THAT VOICE WITH ALL THAT YOU HAVE! Sometimes we just have to hold on tight and out last the Devil. At one point that annoying kid always gets bored and jumps off your back. Satan doesn't want us to pray because he knows it limits him. It's not about smiling 24/7 and pretending "everything is GREAT!" It's about having faith, hope, and finding the good in everyday. Writing down in your journal at night those little moments throughout the day that made you smile. I promise if you think really hard you laughed at least ONCE today!
"There's always going to be another mountain. You are always going to want to make it move. There is always going to be an uphill battle. Sometimes you're going to have to lose. Ain't about how fast you get there, it's about what is waiting on the other side. It's the CLIMB!" (I have this entire Hannah Montana song memorized but I can't remember to put my sweater on right side out?) It really is true hahaha I still can't believe I made something spiritual come out of this. Anyway it's not about winning the race it's about completing the race. It's about getting up every time you fall. It's about finding the tender mercy's in everyday and ALWAYS thanking Heavenly Father for the beautiful life you have been given even though it doesn't always seem so beautiful it is, you just have to look for it.
When times get tough BELT IT'S THE CLIMB by Miley Cyrus and imagine me sweating and climbing hills in Ecuador while my companion talks to me in Spanish and I pretend to understand "si si si" :)
Don't forget that you are NEVER ALONE!

Con amor, 

Hermana Israelsen

DO NOT EAT THE FRUIT!

 December 21, 2015
My first full day with my companion went something like this.. We were walking by this store when my companion saw this fruit! She told me we absolutely had to buy it because it was so DELICIOUS! I was like "okay yeah you can buy it?" Then she told me I had to eat it! I am using exclamation marks to show how enthusiastic she was about me eating this fruit. It was the weirdest looking fruit but I ate it anyway. She started laughing after I ate it and I was confused? Until about 8 minutes later when I found out why she was laughing..... I have never had to go to the bathroom so bad in my entire life... we were contacting and no where near a bathroom. I turned to her and just gave her the WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME FACE?! She was busting up laughing while I could barely walk. We luckily got to this members house but she is super old and takes like 3 minutes to unlock the door. I was DYING!!!! 3 minutes might seem short but in that moment it was a freaking long 3 minutes! I made it to the bathroom. Don't worry all was well. Moral of the story if someone seems way excited to give you fruit like weirdly excited DO NOT EAT THE FRUIT!
So basically I have gotten even better at staring at peoples house decorations and noticing what wall colors brighten a room or darken a room. And if Jose shrugs his shoulders more than 3 times he feels uncomfortable. If Anna picks her finger nail polish it means she is nervous about something. If Isabella stares at the ground it means she's bored. All the pros being in a foreign country where everyone speaks a language that you still can´t speak or understand. I have become super observant of peoples body language, facial expressions, and staring at their house decor like it is the first time I have seen it even though it's like the 16th time I have been in their house.
So if my pictionary skills don't work out for me I can be a detective or an interior house decorator.
This week I hit an absolute low. We were in the middle of a lesson and I couldn't understand anyone and I was so discouraged! I was sad but that made me even more angry because I didn't want to cry because it was the first time in weeks that I put on make up and I just didn't want to cry so I kept doing that yawn thing where when they looked at me like are you crying? Oh no see I am just yawning and its making my eyes water. Oh look I yawned again see that’s why ha no I am not crying! So after I had my little temper tantrum I realized I can either remain in self pity and discouragement or trust in God and his decision to send me here. 
In the midst of our trials we have a choice. To remain in the darkness (where I PROMISE you, you will never find an answer), or take a leap of faith and trust that something good can come out of all this pain. When we feel like life is overwhelming or our trials are just too hard! Stop, and think "Am I making this way more complicated than it has to be?" The scriptures say over and over again that we need to "become like a child." That use to confuse me so much! Like I have worked so hard to become who I am why would I go back to being 4 years old. When you are 4 blue is blue and purple is purple. There is no baby blue, navy blue, aqua marine, lavander, magenta, plum, flower petal shaded lemon yellow orange. Idk that last one 100% isn't a color but you get my point? Do you know God loves you? And do you love God? If you know those 2 things then smile because everything else will fall into place. Don't make it more complicated than it has to be! If it's Satan than pray will all our heart to cast Satan out of your heart and your mind. Sometimes we have to pray to even have a desire to pray. Sometimes we just have to believe in something or someone that we HOPE is there. And that's okay. The point is that you DO NOT REMAIN IN DARKNESS!!! It will become comfortable and the longer you are there the harder it is to come out. Trust me I get it. I was in the dark for several years and I PROMISE YOU THE LIGHT IS SO MUCH BETTER! It's way more fun too :)
Be patient. Trust that God's plan is WAY better than yours. "To believe in God is to have wonderful surprises." I promise you it's never as bad as you think. I live with someone who doesn't speak my language who gives me magical fruit that makes me have to use the bathroom for way longer than the actual lesson we gave them.
Remember you are NEVER alone!
Con amor,
Hermana Israelsen

It´s How We Handle the Challenge that Provokes Growth


December 14, 2015
my comp found bird poop in my hair no idea how long it had been there for haha, "you look like you are getting fatter!!", finding spiders in my laundry basket "oh how sweet of you to decide to lay your eggs in my bed sheets."
I have my first Latin companion! We spent the morning talking, well she talked and I just nodded and said si si si and awkward laughed here and there when she made long pauses. After a solid 2 hours I broke down in tears in front of her but because she only speaks Spanish I couldn´t even explain to her why I was crying. And it wasn’t that pretty cry some people are capable of doing with one or two tears and a little sniffle. It was that snot coming out of your nose, weird noises coming out of your throat, red puffy face cry. So if I didn't win for best first impression of your new comp I want to meet the missionary who did better than that!

In life we get into a routine where we feel comfortable. It might not be easy but it´s familiar? It´s normal for us. In the mission that doesn't exist. The moment you think "hmm, yeah I think I can do this?" WA-BAM something changes. You seriously can't be a successful missionary or a disciple of Christ if you aren't completely relying on the Lord.
It's not the trial we experience that makes us strong. It´s not depression that makes us deep. It isn´t sin that makes us appreciate the atonement. It´s how we overcome sin, depression, and our trials that makes us strong. The thing itself does nothing for us. It´s how we handle the challenge that provokes growth. It´s how we overcome adversity and how we help others overcome their own battles that makes the darkest moments the most precious. That is why the Atonement is the MOST precious gift! Because it wasn´t the actual afflictions, temptations, and pains of the world that he suffered that make the Atonement so wonderful. It was that he CHOSE to endure it. He chose to overcome the sins of the world. Not just feel the sins of the world, but he OVERCAME them.
So what does "being strong" mean to you? Buff, fearless, doesn´t cry easily (haha not me), can bench 200 lbs, can carry 2 hermanas suitcases down the stairs at ONE TIME?! How many more descriptions of strong would you have named before you said the word love?
Jesus was the strongest person to ever walk the earth. But he cried openly. He mourned with those that mourned. He wouldn´t carry suitcases for the hermanas so he could casually sneak it "yeah, I benched more than this at home." He gave his literal life for us. He who could have been born in a cradle made of gold was born in a manger with barn animals and probably wouldn't complain if he had bird poop in his hair or if spiders laid eggs in his sheets. "The greatest among you will be your servant."
So yeah am I nervous do I kind of feel nauseas about this next change. Yes. I am terrified! But He is with me. I know that I am not alone and neither are you.
Con amor,
Hermana Israelsen
PS there is this kid who is like 2 and he always sits by me in Sacrament. We are like super tight and he shares his toy cars with me and we basically understand the same amount of Spanish :)

How Do We Handle Disappointment and Discouragement?


 December 7, 2015
This last Wednesday we called our Zone leaders to report our day when they asked my comp, "Are you guys going to find a new family tomorrow?" My comp said "yeah!" He asked for specifics, so I yelled "a family of 4! A mom, a dad, a son, and a daughter!" He asked, "who is older the son or daughter." I just yelled again, "uhh the DAUGHTER!" (I really was yelling). He said, "I can't wait to find out their name tomorrow."
My comp hung up the phone and we just looked at each other like uhh ok well let's start praying :) In the prayer I apologized for the randomness and should have counseled with him first but I believe in miracles!
The next day when we were contacting we found this guy. My comp asked how many people were in his family and he said 4! He said he has a son and daughter and then my comp asked which is older he said his daughter. We got his information and has an appointment scheduled 2 days later. We even fasted the day before the appointment to make sure all would go well!
I kept telling myself that miracles really do happen after a trial of our faith! The day arrived when we decided to call and verify the address a man answered the phone. I asked "is this Jose?" the guy who answered was like "no." Then he hung up. So I called again and asked "is this Jose?" and the guy said "no." Then he hung up again. I refused to believe this is how our MIRACLE would end so I called again. I said "Hi, this is the missionaries from the Church.." The dude hung up again.
You know that feeling when the waiter comes out with your food and it's just like PURE JOY!! And they are coming closer and closer and your mouth starts watering and all is right in the world. And they set it down at the table next to you and you're just like nooooo wait please stop that's mine!! But it's actually not yours... and you’re just like super sad. Or when you bring home leftovers from Texas Roadhouse because you ate 10 rolls waiting for your food to come and now that your food has come you're full so you bring it home and put it in the fridge to eat later. But then later you go to get your chicken tenders that you saved and wrote "DO NOT EAT!" all over the box and when you go to open the box there is like half a fry and the crumbs of the chicken and your just like "WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE!" Well the moment that we realized that guy, OUR GOLDEN family, gave us the wrong number it kind of felt like that.
So how do we handle disappointment and discouragement? How do we overcome frustrations within ourselves and within others? Why are we so quick to judge or to find fault in others? Why is it that when bad things happen to us we so quickly want to play the victim? We all want the same thing in this world. I mean isn't happiness a universal desire? Today we bought pizza because it's our last pday before changes. We were SO PUMPED to eat this pizza, and I obviously got a little too excited because I dropped it.. It landed face down on the road. And there were like 6 seconds where my eyes legit started to water. We spent 6 DOLLARS on this pizza and I was NOT going to let it go to waste. So I just started picking all of it up and putting it back in the box. My companion just looked at me like "what are you doing?" Then this lady who saw the entire thing happen starts telling us it was the evil spirits that made me drop the pizza but I was too focused on saving the rest of the pizza to listen to her talk about the evil spirits that forced me to drop our pizza.
We got back to the house and I started eating the pizza. My comp said "you're going to get sick!" and I said "no it's fine you just have to pick out the road it's still good." I have NO IDEA how but this little scenario made me think of our last week. Our individual lives are like the pizza. Sometimes we fall flat on our face or in this case dropped flat on our face. But instead of crying about it or complaining about it or giving up and seeing all the negative you can LAUGH pick out the chunks of tar and keep fighting! God doesn't give us trials and obstacles so we can sit and cry about them. He gives them to us because he knows and understands the JOY we will feel when we overcome them. So yeah missionary work is hard. Life is hard!!! Finding investigators is hard!! Staying active in the church, forgiving, repenting of our sins, being kind to others that hurt you it's ALL hard! But that's what makes life so precious. That's what makes all these moments leading up to the day when we are standing face to face with God and he asks us "how did you love me?" And we answer "I didn't give up. I never stopped fighting!"
Be a little kinder, a little more caring, and little more understanding. This life is easy for none of us. Not you, not me, and especially not for the beautiful pizza I dropped today on the street. But the bits of tar and rocks in the pizza I think gave it an extra kick. You are who you are because of what you have been through. You are someone great. When was the last time you looked in the mirror and smiled :)?
You my wonderful friends who are still reading this extremely long email are NOT ALONE!
Con amor,
Hermana Israelsen




What Would Jesus Do?

November 30, 2015
Sometimes other people can be harsh. They can be judgmental and say things that make me say, "Dude, why?" Do we truly understand that none of us are perfect? Like haha we are all just trying our little hearts out. Trying to be the best versions of ourselves. I have been here for 4 months and I still don`t know a lot. Ha I am not the best teacher, the best with Spanish, or knowing what to do or say. But the more we focus on what we can`t do the more IMPOSSIBLE life is going to feel. I like to focus on the little things. I can give up my seat on the bus to a woman and her tiny baby. I can carry my companions bag when we are going up a steep hill. We can buy roses and hand them out to people on the street. We make really really buttery cookies and give them to the Bishop and Relief Society president and their families (actually that might not have been service because they tasted so bad). But the point is that it`s the little things we do that make the big differences. I find myself during the day thinking "Oh no, what would the other missionaries do in this situation? Or what would President do?" When in reality the only person I should be thinking about is "What would Jesus do.. What would he really do?"
I wrote in the front of my planner, "What kind of missionary does my mom think I am?" I know that if I am the missionary my mom thinks I am and can be then I am doing just as Jesus would do. He stops for the one. This week my companion and I pushed an old lady in a wheel chair up a giant hill. At first I was like my CALVES ARE ON FIRE I CAN`T DO THIS ANYMORE! I was thinking about me. This hurts me. I am tired. I am hungry. I miss my family. I want to be home for Christmas. I want turkey on Thanksgiving. WA WA WA WA!! It was all about me. But then I looked at the face of this cute little old lady who I tried so hard to understand but she had about 3 teeth, but with those 3 teeth she had the biggest smile on her face. In that moment all the mean comments people make, all the homesick feelings, and Ugh I just want DORITOS or PIZZA feelings went away.
So what would Jesus do? What would he really really do? Now get off your toosh and do it! Stop for the ONE! Make cookies for your neighbor just because. Write your bishop a letter and say thank you!! Tell the lady bagging your groceries to have a freaking awesome day!!! It`s the little tiny things we do that make the biggest difference to God.
I promise with all my freaking heart that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! But there are people out there who might feel alone. So STOP thinking about yourself and start thinking about what Jesus, the person who has endured ALL and still loves, the person who`s love for us is on the palms of his hands. What would he do?
Con amor,
Hermana Israelsen

Monday, November 23, 2015

Our Life is Like a Staircase

November 23, 2015

A member saw us on the street the other day and he said he was so confused because it was pouring rain outside and we were smiling and laughing and eating ice cream in the freezing cold? and I said "We just really really love ice cream!"

Me: Do you want this quarter?
Member: Yes
Me: Ok (I put it on my head) get it without touching me, or the quarter
Member: (stares at me with a confused look on his face)
Me: Get it
Member: I can´t? You won't let me touch it?
Me: Well why didn't you just ask if you could have it? In the scriptures Christ tells us over and over again. Ask and you shall receive. Knock and it shall be opened unto you.
Member: Can I have the quarter?
Me: No…sorry we are poor missionaries and that quarter can buy us chocolate.

This week I managed to tell one of our members that I murdered my dog when I was 11 years old, that I have many lovers, and I kept forcing another family to eat chocolate for the purpose of an object lesson but they kept yelling we are on a diet! But I didn't understand them so I kept looking at them like guys eat the chocolate you are ruining the object lesson!

Sometimes it`s hard to see our progression. In the mission I go day to day and think "Ok wait, I am still just as immature as when I first got here? Am I even improving in the language? Why haven`t I had any cool stories like my parents, sisters, or friends of CRAZY COOL miracles?¨ It´s easy to feel like you aren`t progressing. But then if you think of our lives like a stair case and that every day is another step it´s easy to feel like you’re not progressing, but then every so often you look back at that first stair whether it was the day you were diagnosed with Lung Cancer, the day you decided to quit an addiction, the first day of school, the day you found out you were pregnant, or the day you said goodbye to your family in the SLC airport and accidently left your rain jacket there and your mom didn´t know until this very moment when I decided to write it in my group email.. haha. But the point is we all have these firsts. That lead us to different stair cases in our lives. It`s so EASY to feel like you`re not progressing, and maybe you took a few steps backwards but that doesn`t mean you should just quit. Because every step is one step further to the end goal. Looking back at my first day in the CCM I was throwing up and straight up said a prayer thanking Heavenly Father for a wonderful 24 hour experience of what a mission is like but that I thought it would be better for me just to go home. Hahaha I literally said that! I wanted OUT! But I kept taking those steps and now I am a couple months in and a few floors up on my stair case and I am like ¨Hey look what I can do? Look what I am doing!¨

I literally don`t know why my emails are so RANDOM. But I really appreciate your guys love and support. Life is not easy for ANY of us. And sometimes you just need to look yourself in the mirror and say ¨Hey you`re awesome!¨ We have all come so far. Why stop now? Why throw in the towel now? 
I really love my mission. I thought it would be MONTHS before I could say that but the other day my comp told me that by the end of my next change (not this one but the next one) I will have 6 months and I was like. No? No?! I just got here like literally I am a child I don`t know anything??! It got me thinking of life after the mission and I wanted to throw up it sounds terrible like no offense I am sure you guys are having a good ol’ time in Utah but I LOVE ECUADOR! I love being Hermana Israelsen. I love accidently hitting people with my name tag and having chocolate all over my teeth as I say ¨BUENAS!!¨ I love my mission even though it`s sups dups hard. ¨Finding Joy in the Journey.¨

Remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Con amor,

Hermana Israelsen

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Pictures

Hermana Israelsen claims this is how she does exercises every morning

The Hermana Israelsen we all know and love 

Hermana Israelsen and her trainer

First Baptism

Colombia MTC

 MTC companion

P-day


It´s always the same sky, the same heaven, and the same God

November 9, 2015

Last week for lunch we walked in and they were playing music. I turned to my comp and said, "Spanish rap music? That´s so cool! Do you understand what they´re saying?" My companion just looks at me, "Hermana it´s English, it´s Rihana."

It´s weird to think that before my mission I didn´t share the gospel with every human I walked past? During a lesson the other day with a family of recent converts the dad said to me, "Hermana ISRAEL, when are you going to paint your face and do your hair like you did in your Facebook photos?" During church yesterday I was thinking about how weird it is that I speak English in my head but when I speak it comes out in Spanish and in the middle of all of this, this child comes up to me and gives me a spider man toy. He was the cutest little boy and I would kidnap him if I could but he has a mom so I can´t. Anyway it made my day because he was so stinking adorable.. until I realized what he had done. Now 3 other children saw I had this spider man toy and all wanted the toy. We are in the middle of the Sacrament meeting when 3 more kids all start trying to grab the Spider Man toy from my hands and all yelling, "Que es esto?" I was trying to hide it in my jacket but it didn´t work. Their moms had to take them all out because they were crying. I just looked over and the little boy who gave me the toy was just smirking... the kid is going to be a world leader some day mark my words.
We found 7 new investigators this week who just moved here! They don´t speak any Spanish.. to be honest Idk why they are here? But I am pumped! They don´t quite understand the difference between Satan and Santa and during our last lesson we were talking about how to recognize the temptations from Satan and one of them said "Oh ya Santa!" and we were like "No, Satan."... "Ya Santa Santa!" "No Satan... Satan. Not Santa they are very different you do not want to get them confused." As of right now they still believe that the enemy to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is Santa Clause.. it´s safe to say we are going to wait on their baptismal date until we can get that straightened out.
One of our Investigators was baptized on Saturday!! It was such an incredible experience!! She is definitely one of God´s elect and in most our lessons she ended up teaching us! 
This week I learned that the only way to win in this life, is to lose it. It´s about finding joy in the journey and not just enduring to the end but enjoying to the end! Sometimes I wonder.. do we really understand The Atonement? I mean do we really think about it every Sunday when we take the Sacrament, what he suffered. Every single pain. Every single temptation. Every desire, every doubt, every loss, lonliness, confusion, hurt.. EVERY SINGLE THING HE FELT! I just can´t put into words how I feel about The Atonement of Christ. I feel SO alone sometimes! When you take away every comfort from home, friends, family, social media (Shout out to Brooke Anderson totally understand your wanting pinterest on the mission.. the food I could make and lesson ideas!) anyway it takes away everything because when you are down to nothing you trust in the Lord with all your heart. You give him your all because it´s the only intelligent thing to do! He will not leave us comfortless. I mean we say that all the time but do we really believe that? In our trials are we truly trusting him with everything we have or do we still have moments of doubt. Give it up then. Trust him! During those quiet lonely times that’s when the spirit is the loudest. Sometimes I like to look up at the sky when we are walking home at night and think "It´s always the same sky, the same heaven, and the same God."Every missionary has a thing. The one who is an incredible teacher, the scripture mastery elder, the robot sister (you can be obedient and not be a robot it´s possible), the funny one, the really really happy one sometimes almost too happy that it´s creepy?, the stylish sister, the one with a powerful testimony, the one with a beautiful accent, the hard worker, the strong one, the future prophet, etc. I want to be the Hermana who laughed a lot and loved a lot. I want everyone to know they are loved!Remember you are NEVER alone!

Con amor,
Hermana Israelsen

As of right now I am the hermana who can´t eat anything without spilling it all over her clothes :)

You Are Not Replaceable

November 2, 2015

We had a taxi driver this week named Flabio how cool is that?! We said "buenas," to some guy on the street the other day and he started following us saying "HELLO, MY PRECIOUS! COME TO ME!" We ran. Shout out to Veggie Tales for helping me remember bible stories here on the mission.
Every day here is a battle with myself. Before I came on my mission I tried so hard to prepare myself that "Hey this is going to be really hard!" And I thought yeah but because I know it will be hard I will know how to handle it. The truth is I know it´s Satan but that doesn´t always make it easier. The moment it gets hard I think ok I just need to pray and it will be over. I expect this instantaneous resolution to my struggles. I thought because I knew it was going to be hard I can tell myself in those moments what to do, because I know what to do I need to lose myself in the work. But if I don´t struggle now how will I grow? How can we desire growth if we aren´t willing to have patience during our struggles? Sometimes I feel like I am blind folded running as fast as I can, like full on sprinting! But I keep tripping over things and running into poles and I have days where I fall flat on my face and I am like "ow" and to be honest sometimes I think I don´t want to do this anymore! (That was a terrible example but you get what I mean).Ok wait I have a new example. We are all in a giant soccer game. Sometimes I want to sub out because I am like sweating and breathing super hard and I think I don´t want to play anymore. But then I hear Coach (Heavenly Father) from the sidelines (heaven) and he says, "Hermana Israelsen you are not replaceable." We all have positions. We all have strengths and weaknesses. But we have to remember we are wearing his Jersey! So we grab some water I personally prefer blue gatorade and keep playing! We are suppose to help our teammates and remember that none of us are replaceable.Guys, I still don´t have a clue what’s going on here, but it´s the best decision I have ever made!! Remember who´s team we are on and go drink some blue gatorade or the white one. Not the red or purple because it taste like cough syrup.You are not alone!

Con amor,  
Hermana Israelsen

Give Thanks For the Cup

October 27, 2015

So we had a ward activity last Saturday. We did an activity about Lehi´s dream. Everyone had blind folds on and were to follow the string (iron rod) throughout the church. One of the elders dressed up like Satan. He had two hot pink party hat sombreros on and used his sweater as a cape. He also had a rope that he would use to capture people and drag them into a room "Outer darkness."  So I am supposed to be an angel right. Well Satan is doing his thing trying to torment the lives of innocent people when he grabs this lady. He is pulling her into outer darkness and I am like oh NO you don’t SATAN!! I start yelling "SIGA! SIGA!" (keep going! keep going!) but I meant to say "Seguir me!" Which means follow me But I keep yelling "Keep going! Keep going!" Some of the members are looking at me like "aren´t you an angel?" I basically kept telling people to "Keep going with Satan!" One of the members pulled me aside and told me I couldn´t be an angel anymore. So I basically got my wings revoked and was now on clean up duty..So mom sent me a game of Uno in my package and I opened it in front of my zone. One Latin elder saw I had UNO and no joke got teary eyed! He said he has looked and looked for that game but they don´t have it where he is from. He offered to pay my mom to buy the game and send me another one! I was shocked like wait you would really go through all that trouble? So I just gave him the game. I think I made his life.I want to be the kind of person and missionary that when I wake up in the morning Satan says, "Oh no she´s up!" I am learning a lot about the gift of agency here on the mission. It can truly be a blessing in our lives or it can bring great suffering and pain in our lives. Everything we do is our choice, but when sometimes happens we don´t like we blame the natural man that is in each of us for how we react to a situation. If someone hurts your feelings you want to tell them off and get mad! And we think because of how they treated us it excuses for how we treated them. But on judgement day God isn’t going to say "What did Bob say that made you say those things." He isn´t going to ask about anyone’s actions but our own. We may not be able to choose how people treat us but we can choose how we treat others. It is not easy... but through the atonement we can always choose the path that leads to happiness.When the bitter cup comes our first reaction is to always pray for it to pass. But what if we were first gave thanks for the cup. What if we first expressed gratitude for the cup and then after asked for it to pass. And when the answer comes that cup cannot pass instead of staring at the cup or saying "I hate you cup," or blaming the cup. Through the atonement of Christ, knowing that he has tasted and dranked the exact same cup. We can drink it and be strong! "Being brave is just acting in faith. Even if it´s only a twig of faith God help it to grow." I think it is so cool that out of all the names and titles God could be known as he asks us to call him Father.Remember you are not alone!Con Amor,Hermana Israel..... sen (no one can say my name here)




No Shame, No Fear, No Pride

October 19, 2015

Quote of the week, "Are those fireworks or gun shots??"

No shame, No fear, No pride. I decided this was my theme this week. It all started when I scratched my forehead during a lesson and I started bleeding. The little girl we were teaching gave me a giant pink bandaid with butterflies and stuck smack in the middle of my forehead. We then went contacting. We started talking to these two girls and when they went to read my name tag I tried to bring it closer to them. It popped off and smacked the girl in the face. I apologized and smiled and once they left my companion told me I had chocolate all over my teeth. 

We then sang in church yesterday "The Spirit of God." When the piano started my companion and I realized we had practiced in a lower note. We sang with the Elders and ward mission leaders. It was absolutely awful, painful, terrible. I started laughing because the sound literally brought pain to my ears. I looked out in the congregation and saw some of the members laughing which only made me laugh harder. 

I proceed to tell everyone I am 2 years old and have 19 siblings because cuantos anos tiene and cuantos hermanos tiene sound the same to me especially when it comes from a cute little old lady with only 3 teeth.

In all honestly this week was harder for me. I have been struggling a lot with that universal question all of us battle, "Am I doing enough?" Some days I feel so inadequate. Some days I feel like "Am I even doing anything? Am I even making a difference?" I want so badly to just feel like I am actually helping someone. All I have ever wanted to do was help people. The truth is the more I think about myself the more inadequate I am going to feel. I just have to keep telling myself "God isn´t going to let a 19 year old girl mess this up." I wish I could write this week about all the miracles I saw or how I felt the spirit everyday but quite frankly I would be lying and that just isnt how the mission goes. The mission tests you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Somedays I am like oh man I need ice cream. Some days after a lesson I am like THAT WAS TOTALLY AWESOME! 

God doesn’t forget our eternal potential even when we do. So for all of you who want to quit go get some ice cream and keep going! I am going to go get some ice cream and KEEP GOING! I don’t feel like a missionary all the time. Sometimes I feel like just Gabi. Sometimes I feel like people look at me like wow you are a missionary and I am like ha yeah idk what I am doing?? But maybe that’s good. Because I have no idea how to keep going sometimes but I do know how to trust God with all my heart. I do know God loves his children, and because of that I know enough. I know enough to keep going, to keep laughing, to wear bandaids on my foreheard, sing my heart out in church, run away from scary dogs, smile with chocolate on my teeth, and love the Lord with all my heart mind might and strength.

I promise we are not alone in this.

Con amor,

Hermana Israelsen





Volcanos, Tsunamis, Earthquakes, Oh My

 October 12, 2015

Member: What is that on your face?
My companion: uhhhh...
Member: Is it a mosquito bite? I can´t believe it got your face?!
My companion: It´s a zit... 

Well boys and girls what stories do I have for you this week. Awe yes. Dogs. So dogs here are from Satan himself. All those pets you call dogs back home, yeah they don´t have those here. Here they are lions evil lion dogs that chase you! The other night my comp and I were running home to make curfew when two demon dogs started chasing us. My comp took off her bag ready to beat one of them and I am sprinting like heck no I am not getting bit by Mr. and Mrs. Demon lion dog. My companion was ready to go ham on them when they got scared and ran away. THEY ARE NOT DOGS THEY ARE DEMON LION DOGS!  

Everyday we eat lunch at a members house they are our "Mamitas!" This week I ate cows foot without knowing it was cows foot. A blessing that comes from not understanding Spanish is that when the member is telling us about how you cut up a cow and which body parts taste the best I have absolutely no idea what I am eating :) . 


Remember our trials are always blessings in disguise haha.  Seriously though, I joke in all my emails because I need sanity sometimes ya know? But really for any of you questioning going on a mission. GO! Don’t second guess yourself, or think but what if God has a different plan for me? Start your papers and if God has a different plan for you, you will know. My life has already changed so much in the last 2 1/2 months. I have learned humility through not being able to speak or understand the language. I have learned to completely trust God with all my heart through the lonliness that is required in missionary work because in those moments where you feel ALL alone that’s when God makes it known unto you that YOU ARE NEVER ALONE! "Don’t rush your Gethsemane because trials give you traction." This work is hard. But why would it be easy? Why would Salvation be easy for us when it was never ever easy for HIM?? Trials make us COOLER PEOPLE!!!! Don´t you want to be cooler? I DO!! I don´t know what I am doing. I feel inadequate and scared at times, but then I look into the eyes of a 9 year old investigator who for the first time discovered she has a loving Heavenly Father even though she doesn’t have a loving earthly father. This work isn’t about me!!  "We are infinitely greater than our afflictions." YOU ARE NEVER ALONE! Con amor, Hermana Israelsen 

 P.S I forgot to explain the title of this email! A GIANT Volcano is going to erupt and it’s going to be crazy and now I feel bad because I prayed for service opportunities this week 

Serve My Children

October 5, 2015

This last week I have learned that trials aren´t for our suffering they are for our growth. I already love my mission! Is it too early to say that? Maybe I haven´t experienced real mission life yet but I have already fallen in love with Ecuador and the people. Can I understand them? Why of course not you sillies. I can't understand 70 percent so I do a lot of nodding and si si oh si hahaha and then reach for my water bottle pretend I am really thirsty so they will stop asking me questions. I promised I would be completely honest about my experience here on the mission. It´s hard boy is it hard! Some days I am like hahahahahaha why did I sign up for this? Some times I am like hahahahahaha only because I am trying not to cry. But in those moments of fear that is when I askl Heavenly Father. How, am I going to do this for 16 months? Show me show me how? The thought always comes serve my children. Well I am serving a freaking lot! It started when this mother of 2 told us that she had no money and no food to feed her children. So my comp and I whom I adore wow she is great! Made spaghetti with vegetables (from our volcano food storage) it was all we had. Idk if any of you have had the sad and painful opportunity to eat some of the food that I have made but it is not a pleasant experience. I don’t even know if I am writing correctly I have gotten all grammar rules confused with Spanish. But I am like in between not being able to speak my first language and not being able to speak Spanish so its just a bunch of Awe honey no one understands you... you poor thing. Anyways we made her and her kids food and it probably tasted really bad but I told them to pray really hard that their taste buds won’t work very well so they could enjoy the food.I ate raw chicken this week. Like when its pink and soggy? I ate it and after I ate it the lady saw my comps and apologized for not fully cooking it. I HAD ALREADY EATEN IT!!!! Sometimes I say a prayer for lunch appointments Heavenly Father please bless this won’t kill me, and it hasn’t yet! God really does answer prayers!!But really in all honesty I love it here! I am obedient too!! Can you believe that mom, I love obeying rules! Who would have known? My area is super fun! I remember laughing in the packet they sent me before my mission about practice walking an hour a day with a 10 pound weight. I remember turning the page saying haha I’m not doing that?.... yeah I am not laughing anymore....Every trial we endure with faith to continue on. Every time we feel rejected, exhausted, mocked, hurt, physically emotionally and spiritually exhausted those are the moments when we are standing shoulder to shoulder with the only perfect person to ever live. And in those moments we have every reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Savior of the world knows EXACTLY how we feel. This is hard but I have never ever in my life been closer to the path Christ walked than I am now.You are never alone!

Con amor,Hermana Israelsen

Just Keep Swimming

September  28, 2015

I am in Ofelia in the city here! It is beautiful you would love it here! The people are so nice! I would never have guessed I would be teaching a nine year old behind a store counter, teaching in hair salons, a telephone shack thing. Ecuador is the weirdest place I have been so far and that is saying something. But you all know how much I love and appreciate weirdness so yes I LOVE IT! My trainer is a tender mercy! People must think I speak chinese by the way they look at me when I am talking.A missionary once said, "I knew this would be hard but I didn't know it would be this hard." If my fortune cookie said your mom would be diagnosed with Cancer while you were gone. Heck no I would not have wanted to come. But I came :) I already took that leap of faith and I am going to keep leaping and jumping and climbing up giant hills here in Ecuador because God is my strength and he is yours too :)Oh mom you have now become one of my favorite book characters Hazel Grace from yes Fault in Our Stars. She had lung cancer and I loved her because she was so honest and real about her experience. She doesn't die at the end and neither will you! In the movie The Restoration Emma asks Joseph as she is picking off the feathers from his back "Do you think God asks to much of us?" And Joseph replies "maybe we were meant to swim in deep water." Well familia maybe we were meant to swim in deep water. When president told me about the phone call with you guys on Sunday night I didn’t know whether to laugh or start bawling because A. Satan obviously hates our family, and the hospital obviously LOVES our family because they keep wanting us to stay the night! B. I thought missions blessed families not gave them cancer?? But maybe we were suppose to swim in deep water. (It’s a good thing you made me get swimming lessons at 6 months old mom) haha best joke I could come up with right now. I can’t think of a better compliment than that Satan must hate our family. That shows we are doing a dang good job eh?How can I tell my investigators to endure to the end in faith if the moment something goes wrong in my life I want to just quit? How can we be disciples of Christ if we ourselves are not willing to experience the tiniest fraction of what the Savior experienced in Gethsemane? Guys I freaking love you. I am going to work so freaking hard here in Ecuador and forget about you and get to work (I will still pray for you don’t worry). But just know Hermana Israelsen is still having a party even if it’s in my head.
God is our strength. You are never alone! Except in the bathroom I can finally be alone in the bathroom so that’s good:)Con amor,Hermana Israelsen

P.S expect a fatter daughter when I come home they feed us so much. Who ever said the food in Ecuador wasn’t that different needs to go REPENT right now!!!!! Because fried beetles, pig skin, and in one area luckily the sisters can’t go to they chew yucca and spit it in a cup and fill it with water for you to drink :)I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here :) love you weirdos

Monday, September 21, 2015

I'm off to Ecuador


September 17, 2015

Well well well.... 

I am pumped but nervous to leave for the field! Probably because we had a devotional the other day about not flirting and I thought they were talking about cocaine.. The word for flirt in spanish is coquetear. Sometimes when I am reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish I think Ohh ya I know some of these words:) I figured out how to do a smiley face on the computer here, it only took me 6 weeks!
Everyone makes fun of me because I can’t roll my r´s. I will have a speech impediment my entire mission. I honestly love the CCM? I never thought I would like prison but I do, they feed you, they wash your clothes, and for an hour a day you get to play outside within the fence of course. I know the field is going to be so hard but this week I have been thinking so much about the people I am going to teach. I probably won’t understand them for the first couple months but my purpose isn’t to be fluent in Spanish, or roll my r´s. We use language to express ourselves but the spirit tells us how we feel when we express it.
Sometimes I get scared because I have no idea what I am getting into and I know it’s going to be hard. But then the thought came to me the more trials you go through the more people you can reach out to and relate to. During every trial think about all the people you will be able to help because of it.
Remember that you are never ALONE!
Love, 
Hermana ISRAELSEN

I have so much love for this work!

September 8, 2015

Joke of the week by Elder Oaks, I don´t remember it perfectly so sorry: There was a guy who had a mini Book of Mormon in his shirt pocket, he was stopped at gun point and when they pulled the trigger the bullet hit the Book of Mormon but it stopped at the Isaiah chapters of 2 Nephi. haha get it? I’m like 90 percent sure I told that wrong you should google the joke... because it’s funny.
Alright guys what is up?? Am I the favorite child now since I am away? We went proselyting this week. I could actually understand people ish.. I was teaching this one guy about Moroni´s promise and he started serenading us with “You are beautiful women, two beautiful women!” So I said and this is a beautiful book and you need to read it. So he agreed to read it if we gave him our numbers. We gave him the local missionaries number.. But hey you gotta start somewhere??
I think you guys think I am a lot better of a missionary then I actually am, or maybe I just think that. This week I have been thinking a lot about pride. Satan doesn’t need to make you fall he just needs to distract you. Pride is so weird? I used to think it just meant that you were cocky. But being here I have realized dang I am prideful! Sometimes after we prepare a bomb lesson the next time I think oh we do so good last time we don’t need to prepare that much. There is a quote that says “If you think you can do it alone you will.”  Trying to balance focus and fun here at the CCM is hard. Because I want to focus and learn the language and work really freaking hard! But at the same time I need to stay at least a little sane?? During Relief Society on Sunday all the hermanas were sharing stories one by one then out of nowhere everyone started crying. I was trying so hard to listen but Spanish is hard enough alone but then add crying and I am like wait I don’t know what you are saying?? My companion and I were trying so hard to listen but they kept crying and they were looking at us as if we were supposed to be crying and now I wanted to cry not because of what they were saying but because I was thinking I DONT UNDERSTAND YOU!! 
The CCM has 3 food groups. Rice, hot dogs, and ketchup. I think the cooks play a game of what food can we mix hot dogs with so far we have eggs, soup, rice, and my favorite a bowl of guess what meat you are eating!! Ha but seriously I really love it here! I can’t believe I leave in two weeks? I feel like I am at boarding school with all my distant relatives because I can’t date any of the elders.  The CCM is a bunch of What is happening moments combined. For example yesterday morning I was in the bathroom and the Latina hermana next to me was brushing her teeth but I guess she was brushing too hard because she started choking on her tooth brush and I didn’t know what to do so I was trying to help her but the whole time I was thinking this is weird? BUT I LOVE IT HERE! Every day there is something to laugh about and cry about and just trying to figure out what is happening. Thank you for all the LOVE! seriously I have so much love in my heart for this work. The church is TRUE! 
Remember you are NEVER alone!
Love,
Hermana Israelsen

God Loves His Children

September 3, 2015

A joke by my teacher. There are two balloons in a desert and one says to other balloon hey man watch out for that cactus and the other one says what cactussssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.
Ha wow I think I have another problem.. I LOVE THE CCM(MTC) so freaking much now!! Sometimes I am afraid I am having too much fun here! Every Wednesday we do service in the CCM. I think they run out of jobs for us to do because they gave me and my companion a broom to sweep the fence question mark. Sorry there is no question mark on this computer so I literally have to write it out. It isn’t like a solid fence it has holes and is spikey and they told us to sweep it. I looked around the CCM and saw some elder sweeping the grass with a broom. I also saw some teachers making elders wash their cars hahaha. While we were sweeping the fence a few of us started singing high school musical and translating it into Spanish so yeah we are basically really productive over here! Haha but really I love it now. I guess a missionary perk is being really good at ping pong question mark. Or everyone here is really bad I can’t decide. I invented elbow ping pong the other day. You put the paddle in your elbow pit or whatever it’s called and play. We play the piano after dinner everyday and just sing! There are about 12 of us missionaries and it is so fun! The Latinos think I am really good at piano but I tell them it’s only because you don’t know the song. It’s a good thing I am an English major because I officially do not know how to spell in either language question mark. We teach the Latino missionaries here English and so this one elder comes up to me and says YOU GOT BEEF or ARE YOU A NORMAL CHILD question mark. I don’t know what it means either.. question mark. 
Alright now for the preachy part .( I tried to do a smiley face just barely but it is super hard!! Okay so these last two weeks have been so good! I am learning so much and Spanish is coming a lot faster now. But I had no idea how hard Satan tries to get to you on your mission. People always talk about right before and right after but he is like going crazy over here in the CCM trying to bring us down! There is a quote one of my teachers told me Satan doesn’t need to bring you down he just needs to distract you. I have been thinking so much lately about how little I know about the doctrine compared to some of the missionaries here. I have been thinking so much lately about how the heck am I going to memorize all these lessons and the language and sometimes I just want to yell in English I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE SAYING EVEN IF YOU SAY IT LOUDER. But this morning we went to the temple and as I was staring at the chandelier I saw these little red speckles reflecting from the lights. And it got me thinking about the Atonement. I started counting these little red speckles and how each one represented one drop of Christ’s blood. Each drop Christ shed was for one person and how every single one of those drops matter. And then it hit me… Yeah I don’t know a lot about deep doctrine. I don’t have a lot of scriptures memorized still. Sometimes I just throw out Spanish verbs because there are too many freaking tenses to memorize. But the feeling came that I KNEW ENOUGH. I know without a doubt God loves me. I know without a doubt God loves every single one of us. My mission isn’t about me question mark. It’s about his children in Ecuador. I was called to serve him not to feel good about conjugation Spanish verbs. I was called to LOVE with all my heart his children. Even when I don’t understand what they are saying. I guess what I am trying to say is that I was so worried about being the BEST missionary and speaking beautiful Spanish but that’s not the point. I know enough, and what I know is that God loves his children. So do I accidently say tengo Hombre sure I do, but I have since learned its hambre not hombre. I love the CCM, to the point where I am kind of scared to leave for the field in 2 weeks. I actually love the fence now! Ok that was a lie, I could live without the fence. My teacher is telling us to say goodbye to your mommies now. 
Remember you are NEVER alone.
Much love,
Hermana Israelsen
P.S I showed my district I can sing with my mouth closed and now random missionaries come up to me during meals and ask me to sing for them. Moral of the story don’t share your talents unless you want to show 90 other missionaries..