Well this week was full of lots of surprises!
It all started when we left for Quito to have a reunion with Elder Hugo Montoya of the Quorum of the Seventy. He is currently serving as a member of the South America Northwest Area Presidency for the LDS Church. Well we had to leave a little earlier with the zone leaders because we had a leaders meeting with Elder Montoya. So my companion lost her card to get money out so I had $60 to pay for the trips and some food. So, I am just chilling when the elders call us and ask if we can buy them tickets because they were running a little behind and I am like yeah of course I totally came prepared :)) so I go to get my money and it's all gone :) I got robbed on the bus. My companion looked at me with panic and I literally just smiled at her and started laughing. I couldn’t stop laughing I haven't gotten robbed my entire mission so I thought "Well it's about time I've been living in South America for quite a while." So, then the elders show up and have enough money to buy all of us tickets.
In the bus, I thought "I could either be upset and worried that we now have no money and no food or I could laugh about this because I am totally going to laugh about this one day anyway." Then it hit me! This last few weeks have been really tough on me so I have been Praising the Lord and giving thanks for all things and now God was giving me the opportunity to take a situation that looks bad and make something good come from it. As I look in my back I thought "Well at least they left my camera, my journal, my scriptures, my ear plugs (can’t live without those!), and they left some change so we can afford some bread for dinner!" As I started to count my blessings I felt this warm feeling of peace come over me. After 2 weeks of a very heavy sad heart because I love these people and my mission so much, I felt peace like hey it's all going to work out!
Sometimes we get so worked up over the little things that we forget to enjoy the journey. I will never forget now the time we traveled to Quito with no money and lived off of 45 cents of bread for 2 days haha.
In the reunion with Elder Montoya we had to say an attribute that we admire in our parents before we could speak or answer a question. It reminded me of the 2,000 stripling warriors who were taught by their mothers. I started thinking of the song "We are as the armies of Helaman we have been taught in our youth and we will be the Lord's missionaries to bring the world His truth."
Then after the reunion we had some time before lunch started so my companion and I were walking out of the bathroom when one of the assistants yells "Hermana Israelsen! Hermana Israelsen we have been looking for you. Elder Montoya wants to interview you." My heart dropped. I was like "What why me?" I immediately started thinking oh man what did I do? Maybe he wants to know why I am in my last change and still don’t speak Spanish, yeah that’s probably it. So as I was waiting to have my interview with him, one of the assistants kept saying "Oooh Hermana Israelsen you are having an interview because you have a lot of sins." So anyway, I go have my interview and I am like shaking I was so nervous! But it ended up being this HUGE answer to prayer! Like the most spiritual interview ever. As I looked into his eyes you could just see this light and I felt this feeling like "He is called of God." Then I started thinking about the scripture "Whether by my voice or the voice of my servant it is the same."
I have been having such a hard time lately but as I looked into His eyes I felt it. This is real. All of this is so real. God lives. Angels exist on earth and in heaven. As I shared with him my story of finding Elena he began to cry and congratulated me that she is going to get baptized December 17th. Before he ended he said to me "Don’t rob a single second of the Lord’s time thinking about after the mission. Once you are on the airplane you can think about home but until then you are here."
Woah, that really hit home! I was like "Ok I won’t!" And I have kept that promise and I will continue to do so. As we were teaching in a hut house two days ago, surrounded by palm trees in humble circumstances teaching a family about Joseph Smith and the Restoration this thought came into my head "You are living your dream!" My whole life all I have ever wanted to do was to help people. It's my dream and I am living it.
So, this week was full of surprises. There were a few small earthquakes a rat in our house (don’t worry I put on rain boots and rubber gloves and chased it around with a broom for quite some time before it crawled into a container itself and we caught it but it was too cute and little to kill it so it’s just chilling in our house we named him Stewart.) We live with lizards and cockroaches and oh how I LOVE being a missionary!
This song came into my head today "Silent night, Holy night, all is calm, all is bright." As members of His church we have been called to Light up the world! Show the way back home for all of God’s children. He lives and what joy and peace that brings to my heart! It’s never easy all the time but those moments are what define us.
Remember always: You are never alone!
Con amour, Hermana Israelsen