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