Thursday, September 29, 2016

Why Is It So Hard for Us to Trust God? September 26, 2016

DI has a few?

I've decided I am bringing back the poncho. It's been a few years since they have been in style in the states and I feel like 2017 is the year for them to come back in, so yeah buy them now while they are cheap if I remember DI has a few?
I give kids these little mango mints but they kind of look like pills so on the bright side it looks like I am giving a bunch of little kid’s medicine :)

The other day my companion and I followed this person on a way to a lesson just so we could smell their perfume.
I tried to tell a joke yesterday when I bore my testimony in church but no one laughed and it was just that awkward silence thing.
We had a ward activity and we did Lehi’s dream. The last time I did this activity was about a year ago and I was an angel but I kept accidently leading people astray.  So this time I just volunteered myself as a devil. I led this older lady astray but she was so cute so I let her get back on the string.

I almost killed our only progressing investigator :) She had a really bad head ache and I had like the most basic ibuprofen in my bag so I let her have one. We came back the next day and she said her throat was swollen and the pain only got worse. Oops!
I lost my photos last week from my camera because well after writing I forgot to take my tarjeta whatever you call it card thingy out of the computer and when I came back someone had stolen it. Well (A.) I hope they enjoy some selfies with me and a llama and (B.) I realized that the more we try and control things the less we are being still and knowing God is God. 

Sometimes I get so caught up in hoping things turn out to be a certain way or wanting things to go just right that I become more demanding then believing. I mean think of all those TV commercials we buy into. "This will help you lose 30 lbs in 3 months." Everyone goes and buys it only to realize what it requires is to eat less and walk more.  Well you could have done that without spending $50.
It is so EASY for us to believe Pinterest recipes, Instagram photos, magazine covers yet for someone reason it's so HARD for us to trust God? I mean the whole reason the camera was even invented was to remember happy moments. One of my favorite words in the gospel is "remember." Remember who you are, where you came from, and who loves you. But if you spend more time setting up the perfect photo than enjoying the moment what is the point of the photo? Or if we take too much time matching the table cloth with the forks and napkin patterns instead of enjoying the actual food and people you are with what’s the point of having a family dinner?
I guess what I am trying to say is sometimes we get caught up with trying to plan life out point by point while we eliminate the central part of the gospel which is faith in Jesus Christ. Sometimes we get so caught up on the little things that we miss out. And 3 years go by and we step back and think "man I wish I would have enjoyed high school more, or my mission more, or when my kids were younger." So why do we trust more in TV commercials, and magazine covers, or Instagram followers than in our Savior Jesus Christ. I mean what did He do to lose your trust? NOTHING! Isn't kind of crazy? It's so hard for us to just be still and know that He is God?
Sometimes I just wake up and the first thing I think about is wow Jesus is pretty awesome! He really is. When you take all the accessories of life away the only thing you only really need to know is that He lives. There are people out there who need our help everyday but if we are too busy being "busy" we miss out on the entire purpose of our creation. To help someone else. The goal isn’t just for us to make it to heaven but to bring back as many souls as we can with us. "Come follow me home." Live outside your cell phone, those new boots you want, that cute boy or girl, hair styles, or Facebook friends. Go outside for 5 minutes WITHOUT your phone and for 5 minutes look outside and just think who created all of it. Who loves you? I mean who really really loves you?
The other night we stopped to contact a lady who was with her sheep. As we were talking with her I looked up into the sky and saw a bright star (or a very slow moving airplane) as I looked back at her and her sheep and the fields and mountains behind her it reminded me of the Saviors birth. The star, the sheep, the peace I felt, it has been and always will be about Him. It's about Jesus.
Don’t give up where ever you are or how you feel or what you are going through. Look up! He's there and always has been and will be. You are never alone because how could He leave you alone? He's YOUR Savior.
Con mucho amor, Hermana Israelsen


Well I have officially ran out of normal pencils to write in my planner and I have now resorted to using colored pencils.  Who would have thought a pencil would be so expensive (ok they aren't that expensive there like 70 cents but if I have the choice to buy a pencil or chocolate I obviously choose chocolate) plus the colored pencils make me happy :)
 The older people here can't read or write so we help them fill out their tithing slips and read the scriptures to them and they reward us with nice sloppy kisses on the cheeks!
Well right now I am sitting in this internet place in down town Otavalo and the store owner dude is watching some video and all you can hear is a bunch of people screaming in Spanish so on that note let me write you all about Jesus :)
But really this week I just feel like I need to write about what I have learned lately. This week started out really really rough for me. It was if I was tip toeing off the shallow end into the deep end. I felt like just as the sun was coming out for me the clouds were coming back and they were coming back quickly. I thought to myself "haven't I suffered enough? Haven't I already done HARD things? I just want to be happy for a little while. " I was tired, hungry, getting rejected over and over again in fact my comp said last Monday night "If I was a crier I would be crying right now." I felt hopeless. Then on Tuesday we decided to fast for a CHANGE of heart. Then it hit me. This whole time I have been putting my happiness on future moments. "OK once I am a sister training leader then I will know I am a good missionary." Turns out I feel exactly the same!! I had this idea in my head that once I had the title then suddenly my heart would just be happy and WA BAM no more trials. I thought "the day I serve in Otavalo I will just fall in love with the people and they will all love me because I am a gringa and WA BAM no more trials!" I thought that to be happy meant no trials? But little did I know to be happy meant your attitude about your trials.
So here I am in this little internet place in Otavalo and I can honestly say I feel happy in my heart. Not a lot has changed? We had some miracles but we have been having miracles this whole time. The difference is I have been taking the time every night to write down the miracles. To say thank you more than please in my prayers. I learned a powerful lesson this week that the recipe for happiness is already in every single one of us. Trials don't mean sadness, trials mean growth. And when are grateful to grow that’s when we find JOY!
 I don't understand the majority of what people say, my heels are cracking, I come home tired from hiking mountains and walking all day long, I get doors slammed in my face more than the guy who comes by your house to sell you a vacuum or wash your windows. I ran out of deodorant and I kid you not I don't even know if these people use it because it is so hard to find deodorant here. We eat beans and rice every day.
I thought I was really tan but turns out it's just dirt. But I am happy :) I am happy because I want to be happy!! I love these people. I love the way they live life. I love that everything they eat takes work! Whether it's cutting fire wood to make soup or washing their clothes in a watering hole. There bathroom door is a tarp. With their long braids and traditional clothing, I mean how could you not fall in love with them?
I promise each and every one of you that the moment you start living life outside yourself, your own problems, and your own concerns that is when you will start to see the clouds pass and the sun come out. The power of a note, cookies, a hug, a sincere compliment, a text message that just says "hey you know what you're awesome!"
We are not alone. No matter what you feel look up and believe it' s never as bad as it looks.
con mucho amor, Hermana Israelsen

Monday, September 12, 2016

“Lost in Tangali?” September 12, 2016

Well for Pday we went as a zone to a cotton factory here in Imbabura. I thought it was going to be this cool museum that talked about the history of Ecuador and indigenous museums but nope we just learned about different types of cotton :) So if anyone needs any help understanding what your clothes are made of I can help you no worries.

The other day my comp and I were walking and belting the song "little do you know," but we were changing the lyrics to match our situation like "little do we know it's a 20 minute walk to buy bread.." well anyways it was my turn to come up with lyrics when I suddenly just face planted on the road and from across the street you hear this woman yell "Oh no she fell!"

I handed out life saver mints that are like over a year old to the Relief Society sisters yesterday which is a lot of older women with no teeth who don't speak Spanish and they loved them! I finally figured out how to win over their hearts!

I have officially started keeping tally of how many times we get rejected in a day. We have made it a game to smile and skip after each rejection. They think we are crazy but little do they know that we actually are :)

We went from being on the show Crocodile Dundie to SURVIVOR. In some areas of our sector it's like straight jungle.

Yesterday we were walking past this field when we saw a bunch of older men walking around in this field playing flutes. But not like all together they were all playing their own melody at the same time it looked like some kind of flute club? I am thinking of bringing over my recorder that my mom sent me maybe they'll let me join? 

The other day we went far into our sector to teach a part family well little did we know we ended up in this jungle. We were hiking in some parts and there were animals everywhere we got scared of these cows because they kept staring at us and well I am just afraid of all animals now. Anyway we took this different route to dodge the cows through these thorny branches and we had to lift each other over this ledge just to dodge the cows and when we finally got through we realized the cows were tied up the entire time.

Well after we visited these people it turns out there are no more buses after 4pm. It was 5:30 and at first we were walking back like no worries I am sure a taxi will pass. Well then all of the sudden it was 7pm and we were still walking in the middle of nowhere but it was starting to get dark. We started to get a little worried since we were two gringas in the middle of nowhere in Ecuador with no way of getting home. The walk would take at least a couple more hours and we had to be home by 9pm. We were praying and praying when out of NOWHERE this taxi appears and pulls up next us.  A North American gets out of the taxi. He looks at us and says: "Lost in Tangali?" and we were like "uh..yeah" and he calls this taxi number and says just keeping walking down and in about 20 minutes a taxi will come by. We were just shocked like what on earth is some young North American doing out here in the boonies? We didn't even get time to ask him more questions before he got in his taxi and left. Sure enough just like he told us a taxi came and we made it out safely.

I really do feel like I am living the Book of Mormon. Trying to teach, facing a lot of rejection, I have never been so tired, at times it can be depressing, but we just keep fasting and praying and trusting in the LORD!

I thought when I got my mission call it was because Ecuador needed me but really I was the one who needed Ecuador. I don't just love my mission, I LOVE Christ. 

Remember you are never alone, 

Con amor Hermana Israelsen

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Is Prayer Your Steering Wheel or Your Spare Tire? September 5, 2016

I feel like Crocodile Dundee except without crocodiles and I don’t even know what Dundee really means but wow every day really is an adventure! Turns out our sector is a lot bigger than we thought it was. There is a very pretty mountain that we've been looking at and admiring this entire time but only recently did we discover it was a part of our sector :)

We went to explore this lovely mountain that took us on random trails where we saw lots of pigs, goats, lamas, talking to old ladies who don't wear shoes and don’t speak or understand the tiniest of Spanish, there were more lion demon dogs ready to attack us so that was good. 

We went to contact these people playing volley ball and there is just this lama like chilling with them walking around the court as if it were playing too? Truly I feel like I am on a TV show. Or at least it should be one.

I am pretty sure there is like a secret club here where every woman named Maria and every man named Jose meet up a few times a year to get married and then name all their kids Maria and Jose as well.

Me: *talking to two older women* Oh are you braiding her hair? 
One of the ladies: No I am taking all the bugs out :)
Me:Oh, ok umm good keep doing that I guess?

Only in Ecuador do they feed you potato soup, followed by a pile of rice with spaghetti on top. Mom don’t worry about me not having enough food just pray I will walk down the escalator when I get home and not roll down it.

We walked into a house yesterday with cement walls and floors a very humble home but when we turn the corner there's a sports car just like parked there? We were like "wait? How does this? Where did you get? Huh?" I would tell you what kind of car it was but I really don't know anything about cars.   All I know is that it was really white and shiny with cool mirrors and stuff.

Quote of the week, "Sore but happy!" Really I have never walked so much in my life. I have never been so sore and so exhausted! This week I got rejected more times in one week than I have my entire mission. We waited for the bus for an hour and a half the other day to go visit this family who lives in the boonies we kept telling ourselves it's worth the wait they are important to God so they are important to us. After waiting for forever and asking every bus that came by if they were heading to this area the right bus finally came! We were waving our hands and doing a weird dance because we were so excited then it just passes us... doesn't even stop apparently it was too full. My comp and I were so shocked like jaw dropping moment. "Did that? Really? It just passed and what?" We start walking towards our church and we tried calling the family to tell them we weren’t going to be able to make it, when our saldo (or idk how to say in English the money you use to pay to make phone calls) was gone.  We were so defeated after a really long week we just fell to the ground and started laughing. Like hysterically laughing.

Then last night after crossing a piece of log over a river at night to try and visit someone... anyone we got nothing. We were in the middle of this dirt road with lion demon dogs all around us.  We got down on our knees to pray. But in this prayer we didn't ask for anything we just said thank you. Thank you for the scary dogs, the piles of rice, the rejection, learning another language, walking, climbing, running, laughing, falling, crying, the disappointments, the heart ache, the mission, and for our Savior. We just thanked our Father in Heaven and decided we were going to fast, but it was a fast of gratitude. A fast where you go without food and water for 24 hours to just say "THANK YOU."

I don't write this to say HEY LOOK AT ME IM A GOOD HUMAN BEING. No I write this because as I was kneeling last night on this dirt road dimly lit by a few lamp posts, surrounded by dogs that scare me more than I like to admit, because I felt this need to praise God. I know with all my heart that I want to come home a different person. I want to change, I want to grow, I want to be someone who testifies of Christ at all times and in all places. But I won't become that person by baptizing all the Lamanites, speaking 3 languages fluently, eating pizza with apple juice every day. That growth comes from sweating, and walking, believing and testifying that HE lives. Because He does live. And I know with all my heart that He loves you.  He loves you.

"Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?" This life isn't a race. It's not a competition everyone who WANTS to get to heaven can. No one is stopping you but you. We don't say our prayers at night to say amen. We don’t buy a fresh out of the oven box of pizza just so we can stare at an empty box with bread crumbs. We don't save up to go on trips just so we can come home and unpack our suit case. We listen to music to enjoy the melody. We go on a walk to see the green leaves, the flowers blooming, and if you’re like my dad to count all the deer you see. But we do things to have JOY. So why do we focus so much on the finish line of life? Why do we get so caught up on wanting right now to be tomorrow and tomorrow to be 3 years from now when we will have all the money in the world to buy that shiny white cool mirrored sports car? 

We can't fail to enjoy the journey. It's about getting up every time you fall. It's about saying thank you more than saying please and laughing at the "no way that just happened" moments. It's a journey. But more than that it's a journey with Christ walking beside you.

You are never alone.

Con amor, Hermana Israelsen