On New Years I woke up to what at first I thought was Cotopaxi exploding, then I decided World War 3 must have started here in Ecuador because that is the only thing that explained all the noise. Haha but really Ecuador just really likes to party on New Years! They have these dolls of all sizes that they light on fire and the men dress up like women and dance in the streets. So you know nothing like giant dolls on fire and men dressed up like women to say, "Happy New year! I hope this year you actually accomplish those goals that you set instead of 3 days later saying well there is always 2017." (Me every new year: I am so excited this year I am going to eat healthy and NEVER eat chocolate and work out and be a good human! 2 days later *eats and entire jar of Nutella, addicted to Netflix, walks over to plug in the lap top charger so that counts as exercise*)
Before the mission the word repentance always came with "ooh what did you do?" I thought you only needed to repent for big sins? Missionaries are supposed to teach faith and repentance. I always would get so awkward and nervous to tell someone to repent. Before my mission I always thought "no it's okay just do what makes you happy!" But I totally misunderstood what repentance truly is. To repent is to have deep JOY! When I teach these beautiful wonderful people of Ecuador to repent it's never because "Jorge you are a sinner repent." No it's "Jorge, you are a SON OF GOD! I know the pain of sin and have been in darkness and we invite you to humble yourself before God and repent because it is the ONLY way to experience deep joy."
My email this week is to testify about the beauty in repentance. None of us are perfect. WE ALL SIN! WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES!! Instead of thinking that all too common thought of "ooh what did you do?" we should help one another and realize that we are all imperfect! Why is it that the only perfect person openly loves all of us imperfect people, but it's hard for us imperfect people to love other imperfect people? Because we are imperfect right..? I am learning to repent EVERY single day. I am SO PRIDEFUL! Like I am super-duper prideful. Being humble is one of the hardest things for me. But I think about the Savior suffering for me. "People live unrighteously and don't want to suffer the consequence. Yet the Savior lived righteously and suffered ALL consequence." I promise with all my heart that you have not experienced deep joy until you have humbled yourself before God and repented. We all make mistakes. We could all try to judge less, love more, forgive always, and find the humor in all of this. Because from the wise words of High School Musical "We are all in this together."
The invitation from the Savior has always been "Come follow me." That invitation will always include the border lines of Gethsemane and shadows of Calvary. So repent because it makes you feel wonderful. That weight that you are carrying YOU DON'T HAVE TO CARRY IT! Christ already carried it for you. So yeah none of us are perfect. My favorite part about this gospel is love. It's all about love. Remember that when you feel like it's just too hard that He loves you. Repent because it will make you so HAPPY!! "Every road to salvation always goes through Gethsemane."
You are never alone because Jesus is our best friend!!
Con amor, Hermana Israelsen