Tuesday, June 7, 2016

BECAUSE OF HIM...His Atonement is and forever will be everything - June 6, 2016

My comp spent the afternoon cleaning our garbage cans? But hey the house is clean.
Since I have been in Ibarra I have officially seen a guy in mid-day light break the windows of the Catholic Church with a giant stick, and another dude break the windows of a random car parked on the side of the road. Both times these guys just walked away like they just did something so casual and normal. I was just like "Did that guy just? And now he just is walking away like?"

There are 3 things that have changed me in my mission.
1. The sound of pigs dying.
2. Companions.
3. The Atonement

1. I don’t know if anyone of you have had the wonderful opportunity to hear the sound of a dying pig? By wonderful I mean scarring and terrible. It sounds like a bunch of death eaters from harry potter. 

2. Honestly I am so grateful for my companions. I truly have loved and love every single one of them! I don't love them because we agree and like the same things. I don't love them because they get me and we just click. I love them because of how HARD it is. You have to really work at companionships. You have to pray for them. Serve them. Appreciate them. Look for the good in them. And do all you can to help them feel God’s love. Companions have been the hardest part about my mission but the biggest blessing. "Ama como él." Which means love like Him. This change I have decided I will do everything in my power to love like Him.  To love someone, to see someone, and care for someone like He does. That's why I am here.

3.The Atonement of Jesus Christ has not only changed me but carried me through this mission. I like to think of my mission as a prison-temple. Somedays I truly feel like I am in a prison. Like I will never see my family again.  But then somedays I feel the spirit so strong or the love of God that my literal heart is going to burst and I am going to die right there because I am just so happy!!!

 "We don´t know exactly how Jesus accomplished the Atonement. We only know that somehow during the course of the excruciating and agonizing hours in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross He became our Redeemer."

 "Accompanied by Peter, James, and John He went further and was soon enveloped by deep sorrow, which appears to have been in measure, surprising to Himself, for we read that "He began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy. He was impelled to deny himself the companionship of even the chosen three. And he saith unto them my soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death: tarry hear and watch with me. He went a little farther if it be possible let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will but as thou wilt."

That right there is why I came on this mission. Because of Him. His Atonement is and forever will be everything. It is the thing. It is hope, faith, charity, and enduring to the end. It is because of this sacrifice that we can and will overcome any challenge that lies ahead of us. It is because of Him that I will love my companion with all my heart. Even when I know I am not a perfect companion I can turn to Him. Repent. Get up and try it again. I know He lives and in that I find peace and the strength to keep going.

You are never alone. Please understand that. Believe it!

Con amor, Hermana Israelsen

"Be Still and Know that He is God" May 30, 2016

 It took me a few minutes to realize in our lesson yesterday that I was sitting in dog pee. People spend more time sweeping their sidewalks here and weeding the road than any other household chore. 

We had changes my new companion is from Peru. On the bright side my Spanish is going to SKY rocket! Ha, well I pray it will. I also get to start making English jokes out loud to myself and honestly I'm pretty pumped about that.

Last night we got a phone call from our mission president. He only calls missionaries if they are going to become leaders in the mission. I answered and a little part of me was like way excited. Then he asked to talk with my comp. This whole change my leaders have been making jokes that I was going to train. So I still thought ok cool maybe I will train? Then my changes came through my district leader. I am not training this transfer. 

It's easy to say hey I am being prideful. But it's another thing to stop being prideful and truly submit to God's will. But then I remember whose name is on my name tag. I remember whose work this is and then I realized you know what if this is what God wants me to do to just smother my new comp in love then I’m going to do just that. You don’t have to have perfect relationships to be happy.

Sometimes we only see two steps ahead. Like imagine being stuck in a traffic jam I can guarantee that at least one negative thought crosses your mind like "really today of all days? I have to go pick up the kids and cook dinner and do this and that. I just don’t have time for this traffic today?" We murmur because it’s all we can see, but God is looking down and can see if you just wait 10 more minutes the traffic will ease up and you will be on your way. But we can’t see that? I know that I couldn't see that last night or this morning. I couldn't understand why when I have tried so hard and when I have waited for so long comes another trial? But I know that "these experiences will be for my good." And that every trial handled correctly can be a blessing in our lives. Who knows maybe this ends up being the best change and we get along great and grow closer to God! Or it's hard and we have to work at it but again we grow closer to God.
At the end of the day I know I am a representative of Jesus Christ. The Savior of the World. I know I am not alone. No matter what. To accept Gods will is to have unexpected blessings come your way.

"Be still and know that He is God."
Con amor, Hermana Israelsen

MORE EARTHQUAKES…Be Good and Getting Better! May 23, 2016

Earthquake #2: Tuesday night before we went to bed my comp said in our comp prayer that the spirit would teach us in our sleep. At 3 am I woke up to look out the window and see the street lamps flickering on and off I thought in my half a sleep mind it was lightening? Then I realized "hey I am shaking, my bed is shaking, my house is shaking, holy cow the earth is shaking." I rolled out of bed with all my blankets wrapped around me still and I saw the light that hangs over my companion’s bed was spinning. I tried to wake up my comp but she was sound asleep. So I shook her awake and she started to scream. I told her "you need to get out of your bed." The poor girl was so startled she just kept screaming. I said "hna, you need to get out of your bed and you need to get down now." She jumped down and we said a prayer. Everything was still shaking and so I grabbed the phone to contact our leaders. Everything happened so fast!! After it was over we talked to our leaders and we were told we needed to be prepared if there was another one. My comp and I sang hymns until we fell asleep.

Earthquake #3: During our weekly planning session my comp yelled "earthquake." I stood up and it took me a minute to realize "yup the earth is moving." At this point we didn’t even talk we just prayed, put on our shoes, and walked outside. We have been getting faster and faster and I am not going to lie we are like almost pro level now on earthquake drills my elementary school teachers would be so proud. 

We have been told there will be more and then a really big one when the plates finally drop but really God is the only one who truly knows. But I am sure adding to my crazy story list. I really love the mission. It is a lot of ups and downs. It is nothing like I expected! I am learning to have my will swallowed up in Gods which is easier said than done. Sometimes you just have to keep on keeping on and no matter what thank the Lord for all things!! It is not about being happy all the time but thanking Heavenly Father for the hard days, and the long nights, the ugh moments, and the I am so hungry I am going to die days because people feed the dogs more here than the missionaries. But I know that through PRAISE and a grateful heart at least my heart will change. Slowly but surely I am changing into someone better than I was.

"You don’t have to be perfect you just have to be good and getting better."

Con amor, Hermana Israelsen

 Hermana Israelsen finally got her package.....

Let It Go and TRUST In Good Things To Come - May 16, 2016

 To sum up the last 2 weeks I had green highlights in my hair for a few days after a paint fight with my zone where I accidently punched an elder in the face because I was being very protective of my flag as we played capture the flag. I chipped my tooth on a piece of chicken that ended up being raw and very bloody so that was gross. A little girl stepped on my foot, but her shoe had dog poop all over it which then ended up on my foot. I have so many bug bites it looks like a rash and my hair is an upside down hombre light on top black on the bottom :) 

I thought a dog’s worst enemy was the mailman until I became a missionary. This last week I almost got bit by a dog but I was saved by a bag of sugar. My recent convert has diabetes and can’t eat sugar but she had a giant bag of white sugar.  She gave it to us after a little convincing. That woman loves her candy but that candy is going to kill her. My comp and I were switching off carrying the bag when it was my turn to carry it while we were looking for an investigator.  Suddenly this big dog came running out and tried to bite me but I hit him in the face with the giant bag of sugar. MIRACLE :)

Saturday night we got into a taxi after a really long day. I was so tired and just felt so drained. We got in the taxi and it smelt like my grandpa who passed away a while back. I was so confused because I have not smelt that smell since I was a young girl but the most wonderful peaceful feeling came over me and whether or not it was just the taxi guys expensive cologne or my grandpa was riding shot gun in spirit, I felt this overwhelming feeling of peace.  I felt that my grandpa was there with me.

Our 78 year old blind investigator killed a chicken last week. I offered to help but ended up screaming and jumping on a bench and watching from behind my hands like kids do when they are watching a scary movie or playing hide n go seek. She killed it like a boss she may be blind but that women knows how to kill a chicken. I was a little scarred but I lived.

I guess the overall lesson I learned this week was to just "let it go!" The thing about time is that whether you like it or not it is going to pass. People will change, people will move, hearts will be broken, laughs will be heard, healing will take place, and  memories will be made. As humans we are bound by time. Everything takes time but as humans we are also pretty impatient wanting things done our way when we want it done. But God says "wait and I will give you the best." I have been holding so many cups lately. The forever going battle with Spanish, the 9 month mark, the no investigators cup, the worried about family and friends back home from  time to time cup, work stress, being sick, not sleeping, will there be another earthquake? And so on. Everyone knows the half empty half full analogy but recently I remembered a story I heard before my mission. If you hold a glass of water for 30 seconds and for 30 minutes which one weighs more? They both have the same amount of water but the point isn’t about the actual weight it’s how long you carry it. We can only do so much and then the rest we have to give to God and trust in good things to come. So let it go!!!! If you can’t control then stop trying to! Just breathe. Take a walk. Take a nap. Listen to a good song. Say a prayer. Read the scriptures. Go to church. Be a good person not only in your actions but in your heart and then TRUST HIM!!!

I know we are never alone even though at times we feel we are, we are not.

Con amor, Hermana Israelsen