Monday, November 21, 2016

My Life Mission is to Love the Children of God – Nov 21, 2016

I don’t have a lot of time today because we had another zone activity at the beach but this time I burned my face bad because I forgot to use sunscreen. Ok the truth is I thought "na I’m not going to need sun screen." I learned an important lesson today because in all my lessons tonight everyone is going to make comments about how red my face is.. oops.

Well I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving this week!! I will be on tsunami and earthquake watch. We have been doing emergency practices and learned CPR :)
Last week in the last days of the latinga trio one of my companions tried to teach me how to wax my other companion’s eyebrows. Let’s just say I found another career I should NOT go into.

This week I taught a single mom about bananas and peanut butter. She thought it was so gross and so weird that anyone would eat peanut butter with a banana but after she tried it she wanted to show all her sisters because she thought it was so good!

This week I have been reflecting a lot on what I've learned from my mission and it's this, "How to give love freely." If we could only look behind people’s masks and see who they are and when times get tough to remember to change our perspective and look at things differently!

I found this in my journal back in August: "My greatest work will and always will be charity. It never faileth! My life mission is to love the children of God; it's how I lose myself."

I truly believe that is my purpose here on earth to develop this love and bring His children back home with me. "Being unwanted, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat."

We were created for so much more. You are not alone.
Con amor, Hermana Israelsen

I FOUND HER - November 14, 2016

 I found her! I found her! I found her!
I have been waiting my entire mission to write this email! So, I guess I should explain who it is I found and why I am so happy about it!
It all started right after I graduated from high school I went on a church tour for my senior trip with my friends. One of the stops was Carthage jail the place where Joseph Smith was killed. I was sitting in the window from where Joseph fell and while listening to the narration of the story I felt this impression that I needed to go on a mission. Like literally it was "you need to serve a mission." And I thought oh no no no remember Heavenly Father I am going to live in Africa. Then again it was "you need to serve a mission." I was still fighting the feeling when I felt an overwhelming feeling of love for the people of where I was going to serve. Then I had this idea in my head. It wasn’t a dream it wasn’t a vision just this idea. It’s hard to explain but it was so real what I saw in my mind.  It was of a woman in a pink or magenta color with a baby on her back and her face looked sad she had darker skin and so I thought I was going to serve in Brazil (ok I have no idea why I thought I was going to serve there but I did?) I knew she was a single mom and I knew I was supposed to share the gospel with her.
When my sister got married and sealed in the temple the sealer talked to me after with my other sister. I told him I was going on a mission to Ecuador and he said to me “There is something special about sisters because they can go up to those single moms and put their arms around them." I thought how random that he said that to me but whoa so cool!
Before I left on my mission I told my sister, Jess, I would write 2 emails one titled "I got bit" because we had this long conversation about how one of her companions bit her.  Luckily I haven’t had a comp bite me yet... but anyway the other email was going to be titled "I found her!"
My entire mission I have been looking for her. And in every single sector every single one I have found and taught a single mom but it just wasn’t her. When I got called to Otavalo I for sure thought oh yeah she is indigenous she has got to be here!! Well when I got changes to leave Otavalo and come here to the coast, I thought well maybe I am crazy and made up the whole thing.
Right by our house there is this cute indigenous lady who sales fruit. She recently moved here from Otavalo. We had an appointment with the store next to her but the lady didn’t want to receive us so we taught her. We started talking to her.  She is indigenous from Otavalo with 3 kids and one is this cute chubby little baby and she is a single mom. We taught her lesson 3 and it was right before I shared the first vision with her when she turned and I saw the left side of her face. It was her.... it was what I saw 3 years ago... I couldn’t believe it!! My eyes got really big and my face turned red and my comp looked at me like a crazy person because well I am. As I shared with her these words "I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head..." She began to cry and said it just felt familiar.
She came to church yesterday, she is reading in the Book of Mormon, and I found her I can’t believe I actually found her!!!
I testify that miracles do happen!! That I found the single mom that I saw 3 years ago in my head at Carthage jail. I can’t explain but it is just this familiar feeling and I know God wants her to be happy. She has had a rough past and is so prepared and wow my whole mission I dreamed of this. The best things really do come after hard work and trials.
You are never alone!!
Con amor, Hermana Israelsen

Sunday, November 13, 2016

It Took Losing Myself to Find Myself - Nov. 7, 2016

In a lesson this week my comps and I were sitting down on the couch teaching when out of nowhere this black lab jumps on top of us. Like literally on top of us. We were so shocked we had to start over because we forgot what we were talking about.
Lady on the bus: *trying to get through a crowd of people stops at me * Are you Mormon? Because you´re ugly!
Later that day we were walking to another cita when that same lady started following us with her stick and yelling "Are you laughing at me? I'm going to call the police!" (and a lot of others words I didn't understand because they weren’t gospel terms). I got scared because she really did have a stick. I started praying in my head and then we turned to cross a bridge and turned around to see if she was following us she was gone so on the bright side I didn’t get hit with the stick :)
Our investigator got baptized this week! It was such a miracle because Saturday morning I was praying to know if she was ready because she had a lot of doubts right before but I felt this overwhelming feeling of peace. Then after her baptism she bore her testimony and said "I had doubts right before but I don’t know why I just feel so happy right now! I feel so much peace!" As soon as I said that I heard this voice in my head say, "Don’t you remember your mission scripture? “Be still and know that He is God." It was one of those wow I love the mission moments. But that was followed by a lot of members bearing their testimony to her about all the trials that are about to come into her life. "I remember my baptism it was right before the hardest trial of my life! Oh, you are going to experience so many trials!" But hey Be still and know that He is God right :)
You would think on the mission I would discover what career I should go into but so far I have discovered a career I should NOT go into and that is marriage counseling. 
This week my comps and I are doing a gratitude challenge where we cannot murmur and whoever wins gets a plate of French fries with a hot dog drenched in mayonnaise. It doesn’t sound very healthy because it’s not, but its yummy!
Last night I couldn’t fall asleep my mind was just going crazy thinking about well everything. But as I was lying there I started to think about the Atonement and what it means to me. I spent so many years trying to "find" myself. I tried to find myself in plane rides and blog posts, cutting of my hair and then dying it black in Africa because why not right? (That hair dye is still in my hair and it won’t come out so no why not is now no do not do that again.) I tried to find myself in exercise and diets, leggings and sweatshirts, by the ocean near the mountains, different cities pretty photos etc. etc. etc. I looked but I never found me I just found disappointments and a lot of sadness. But for the first time in my life I have found myself! And it wasn’t in cute skirts or curled hair it wasn’t in nice compliments or pretty make up. I found myself the moment I lost myself in the service of others. I found myself the moment the Lord became the only one who listened to me at 6:30 in the morning and 10:30 at night. I found myself knocking doors in the hot sun and climbing mountains here in Ecuador just to tell somebody anybody that He lives.
I believe the Savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to other, there is little purpose to our own lives. Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and lose their lives while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish and in effect save their lives.
The answer was always in Him, Jesus Christ. It took losing myself to find myself. I testify that this is the work of saving souls! Because it has saved mine and I am determined to save as many souls that are willing to be healed by Him. I am to bring Jesus to the lonely. And I will do it forever because He did it for me.
You are never alone.
Con amor, Hermana Israelsen

I Am More ME Than I have Ever Been – October 31, 2016

Last week I got to play soccer on the beach with my zone! We got permission to play on the sand. Basically I just ran around for an hour and kept falling on my face because running in sand is hard. I kept laughing and telling everyone "Haha, you have oatmeal on your face!" and "Wow, it's so hard to run in oatmeal I am so tired. "Look, I have oatmeal in my hair! There is oatmeal in my sandwich." Missionaries just kept giving me weird looks until one of my companions says "Hermana, are you saying avena?" And I am like "Yeah? Why?" And she goes "Avena means oatmeal. Arrena is sand." As you can tell I really picked up on Spanish quickly. I am basically fluent after a year.


Have you guys ever seen the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? There is a part where Willy Wonka talks about where he got his coco beans in this jungle where the oompa lumpas live. Well I am pretty sure our mamita on Sunday lives there because it's this trail with giant leaves and plants with coco beans every where and they are absolutely delicious all that was missing was the oompa lumpas. There were pigs though :)

Life in the coast is like this: my chair is a trash can, I drew the plan of salvation in the dirt the other day, I ate a really hot pepper because my companion offered to buy me a toy for my niece, the pepper was really hot and I cried, my ankles are now permanently cankles, I have accepted that cockroaches live with me and I can’t do anything about it, everything is an earthquake to me, people use their body to communicate here seriously they should all be actors it's incredible and very dramatic but funny :) Music 24/7, truly silence is weird to me now, seeing the ocean everyday, laughing so hard with my companions that it's my ab workout for the day. I love Afriji (Africa plus Fiji is my sector I just renamed it).

I am now in a trio and I call us the "latinga trio" because it's two Latins and one gringa. It's just as fun as the gringa trio except everything is in Spanish! One of my comps heard me speaking English the other day and said "Wow I had no idea you spoke English so well?" Everything makes me laugh right now. I am just so happy! 
On the bus ride home the other night I pictured the voice of my Heavenly Father when he was talking to Joseph Smith, "My son peace be unto thy soul for thy afflictions and adversity will be but a moment." I felt this overwhelming gratitude for every trial I have faced in my mission. I have often said "the mission has changed me." But lately I have realized that the mission hasn't necessarily changed me but made me more ME than I have ever been. It feels good to be Gabi, well I mean Hermana Israelsen, but really be me. Laugh when I am happy, cry when I am sad, pray when I need strength, and give thanks for this journey we are all on.
I know I won't stop trying to make a difference in this world. I am absolutely determined to preach HIS gospel for the rest of my life. I know He lives. I just know it! And I will spend the rest of my life knowing it and sharing it and loving Him and His children.
We do not have to be perfect we just have to be good and getting better. You are never alone.
Con Amor, Hermana Israelsen