Thursday, May 12, 2016

God Cares More About Changing Our Hearts Than Our Situations - May 9, 2016

Everyone has a moment in life where they feel completely stuck in a trial. That's how I have felt lately. I am at the half way mark and then it just hit me I have to do all of this again..? Seeing my family yesterday on Skype was pretty tough. But then I thought of how awful I felt, how sad I was, and how much I miss them but the thought came that this is how so many people are going to feel unless I share this message that families can be together forever! So I can go 9 months without my family if it means other families get to be together forever.

"Every challenge you face, every hard thing you confront, every bad thing that happens to you, every unfairness, every conflict, every sadness, tragedy, every disappointment and heartache happens for one purpose only; to give you opportunity to respond by applying in your life the teachings of Jesus. As you do so you are changed to become more like him."

Sometimes it's easy to get a little down wondering when hope will come? But then I realized sometimes God cares more about changing our hearts than our situations. So what is God trying to teach me? I honestly have no idea right now but I know the only way to lose the race is not to finish it. The only way you fail is if you give up trying. Sometimes he calms the storm and sometimes he lets the storm rage and he calms you.
"Be still and know that He is God." I know with all my heart that one day I will look back at today with great gratitude for what I overcame.

You are never alone,

Con amor,  Hermana Israelsen

Heaven Is Aware of Your Needs and Has Prepared a Wonderful Way to Meet Them - May 2, 2016

I keep accidentally giving candy to someone who has diabetes. Yesterday on the bus I tried to bribe her to give me back the candy for crackers.

Four North Americans randomly came to our branch this past Sunday and I was pumped thinking, sweet I will probably get to translate for them. One of the girls (who is from Texas who was super blonde with big blue eyes) raises her hand during Relief Society and starts speaking beautiful Spanish... I was like just kidding maybe she should translate for me?

The buses here don't even stop for you to get off they just "slow down" enough for you to hop off. Seriously you have to prepare yourself to get on and get off because those bus drivers have no shame.

The other day we contacted these two women in the street and made plans to visit them the next day. We followed the address that they gave us but when we went to the house a woman and her son came out to greet us. They said they have never heard of anyone by those names of the women we contacted and they would know because they have lived in their house for quite a few years. We were like oh no big deal people lie to us all the time so let’s just teach these guys. They let us in when the mom told us this story. She said two years ago two girls just like us with the same name tags showed up at her door. She said she felt an instant connection with them. They taught her and she invited them to stay for lunch. As they were leaving they told her that they were not going to come back but one day two more missionaries just like them would return and finish teaching her the lessons. She said she has been waiting for two years and then my companion and I show up at her house.
There are moments in the mission where your mouth just drops open in awe. That was one of those moments. Here we were just trying to contact these two older ladies we met in the street and ended up at her house.

Sometimes we don't realize we are being led by the Spirit. Not every day in the mission do I think "The Spirit is telling me to talk to these women." or "we need to go visit familia Lopez because the Spirit told me." Honestly rarely does that ever happen to me in the mission. Most of the time I just think, "Well we could try familia Lopez I don’t know?" I am learning in the mission that God reveals his miracles line upon line precept upon precept.

"At this very moment Heaven is absolutely aware of your needs and has prepared a wonderful way to meet them."

You are not alone.

Con amor, Hermana Israelsen

Gabi trying to be serious

Helping someone move

Believe in Good Things to Come - April 25, 2016

You know it is going to be a good week when you can afford cereal! Honestly the mayonnaise here is so good I have seriously thought about filling my little suitcase with them when I go home because wow I eat that stuff with EVERYTHING!!

While waiting for the bus the other day we listened to a lady kill a bug for 20 minutes...So that was scarring. You know you said an awesome prayer when you go to say amen and everyone fell asleep during it. During a lesson the other day a cat ran in chasing a rat. My comp and I immediately put our feet up on the chair while the lady just looked over and smiled. Some things I will never get used to.

There have been aftershocks all week and my comp has woken up twice to her bed shaking, I on the other have slept through them. So on the bright side I am like the worst person to be with in emergencies.

This week I have learned a lot about HOPE! When I was struggling with depression my mom would put these little quotes on my bathroom mirror. One of the quotes she left said "H.old O.n P.ain E.nds." One of the lies Satan tells us is that it will never get better. But why put an end on possibility? Miracles happen to those who believe in them. "Earth has no sorrow heaven cannot cure." I don't know what the future holds. I don't even know what I am going to eat for dinner tonight probably cereal because I could afford it this week :) But I do know to believe in God is to have wonderful surprises. So whatever you do, believe in good things to come. Believe it will all be okay. "No matter what."

"And sometimes our chance will come, and when we have tried, really tried, and waited for what seemed to never be ours, then the angels came and ministered unto him."

You are never alone. Believe that.

Con amor, Hermana Israelsen

You are never alone, even in an earthquake - April 18, 2016

Haha what a week of miracles and trials. Our 78 year old investigator has diabetes and is losing her vision, but she was baptized this week!! She was supposed to have been baptized on Saturday (the same time as the earthquake), but we changed it to Friday so her friend could attend. So Friday comes around and we get lost in our sector and at 5:00 an hour before the baptism the thought comes to me, "hmm did we fill up the baptismal font?...nope we did not." So we book it to the church and turn on the font, but we have no gas to make the water hot! This a 78 year old women and she is baptized in cold water, poor girl may have a heart attack. The other missionaries come to our rescue and we find gas. Problem one solved. Problem 2 the font takes 3 hours to fill. We have 1 hour. So I have this idea to grab all the garbage cans we can find in the church and fill them up with water. But if we use water from the church it slows the water coming out of the font. So we go to the sisters apartment by the church and start filling up these trash cans and buckets with water. Imagine this, there is like 6 of us missionaries and a couple members who joined in running back and forth across the street with buckets of water. But these things are heavy and I ended up spilling an entire bucket on me..

Literally it could not be any more hectic. It's about 7:00 and we finally start the baptism. The font was only filled about shin high. But as Selvira walks out in her white gown all my worries and my sweat went away. She was glowing literally. The elder baptized her but the water was so low she had to get on her knees. She started going forward and the elder grabbed her head to push it forward. I was trying so hard not to laugh because it looked like he was drowning her and I was like "Elder, what are you doing?!" The poor Elder looked so worried having no idea how to baptize this woman in shin high water. Finally she went all the way under. As she came up the steps my comp and I held out our hands to help her out. It reminded me of how our Heavenly parents reach out to us. It was a very special moment until she started saying "Faeo, faeo, faeo!" Which is like ugly that was awful. I again tried not to laugh because this poor lady just got baptized in freezing cold water that was low enough to be a bath for my niece Gwen.

It was one of the most spiritual nights of my mission. Selvira doesn’t have family that visit her. She lives all alone. Has never been married, has no children, cannot even see and lives all alone on the mountain. I told her she had family now and she turned to me with the biggest smile and said "I have plenty of family now!" I bawled like a little baby. The joy that the gospel brings. That’s why I am here. That is why I left everything to learn this language to struggle like I do to have moments where people finally feel like they are home. To bring people home there is no greater feeling I promise you that.

Now for Saturday. Obviously Satan was not too pleased with the temple announcement here in Quito. At around 7pm (which remember if we hadn't changed Selviras baptism would have been going on at this moment) we were in correlation meaning with the missionaries serving in my branch when the table began to wobble. Everyone looked at the elders because one of them was playing with this little finger skateboard and asked him to stop shaking the table. They were like "we're not?" I looked down and saw that they really weren't and I don't even remember how it happened but I said "I think this is an earthquake?" It took a moment for everyone to believe it really wasn’t the elders and we all jumped up and ran out of the room. Have you ever been in the wave pool at 7 peaks? That constant motion of being pushed is what it felt like. I legit feel like I was in a movie people were yelling, lights were flickering on and off, a little girl passed out in the street from fear. It was complete chaos. The 6 of us missionaries ran to the front of the church and created a circle so we could pray. As I was saying the prayer the earth beneath was still moving, literally such a surreal feeling, but the spirit was so strong.

I felt like I was in a modern version of Lehi's dream. There is a giant cathedral diagonal from our church. After the prayer I turned and every single light of the catholic church was off even the park next to it. It was complete darkness looking out from the church. All the lights in our church were still on. There was a birthday party going on and all the kids attending were huddled in a circle singing primary songs. Some who were in the church left and ran for the streets trying to find safety. I thought about the Great and Spacious Building. How some of those who were once in the church left as if they tasted the goodness but were ashamed. Then the primary children who were huddled in the light singing about Christ. They reminded me of those who clung on to the iron rod and heeded not to those who were in the building.

In the midst of chaos the only stable thing because literally the earth was shaking haha I mean it was an EARTHQUAKE was Christ. The next day a member approached me and said she saw us missionaries circled up in prayer. She said she knew and felt that angels were a part of that circle. That she knew we would all be ok. I know and I testify that angels still continue to minister to the children of God. That moment was so real. I will never forget the miracles I have seen here. I have literally witnessed the miracles of God here in Ecuador. "In the last days men’s hearts will fail them." Seeing the little girl pass out it hit me that this is gonna get REAL! That this is only the beginning and now is the time to prepare! I was shocked the next day on my way to church that people in Ibarra were acting like nothing had even happened. They just continued to break the Sabbath day and party on. UM EXCUSE ME!! We live next to a big volcano and that thing is going to GO OFF and it’s going to get real unless you humble yourself and repent!!
I have gotten really into my book of Mormon reading the last few days. I know Christ will come again. I know that the only peace anyone will find is through the words of Christ. Obey him. Love him. Trust him.

You are never alone even in an earthquake

Con amor, Hermana Israelsen

PS. we were at an investigators house the other day and all the lights were off I went to find a switch and a disco ball turned on. Me and my comp were just like uhhh.... where are we?