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