Sunday, February 1, 2015

Gratitude softens hearts

This is an old post that i've been wanted to put up for a while so i guess it's better late than never right?
this is from september 9, 2014.
I’ll be completely honest, coming home from a mission is hard. I miss my EspaƱa, the people, the missionaries, the culture, but mainly i miss that spirit that you carry as a missionary. I miss feeling that close to God every day. I never really realized how powerful that spirit was that I was given as a missionary until it was gone. Yes, i can definitely still feel the spirit although i’m no longer a missionary but it’s different. Any returned missionary will understand what i’m talking about. For a year and a half, I tried to be as obedient as possible and in result the holy ghost was my constant and very noticeable companion. There were no distractions, no hindrances, no outside worries; just full focus on the Lord each and every day. 
I still feel God’s mercy in my life. Yes, i am finding that i have to pay a little more attention to that but his mercy and love has not changed. Nor will it ever change. His love is unchanging. 
Life isn’t perfect. Life is hard, it’s wonderful, it’s bitter, it’s sweet, it’s painful, and it’s joyous. 
Once again the atonement makes that all possible. It’s the reason God can know and answer our prayers. It’s the reason we can find happiness again after so much pain. 
What i learned on my mission has shaped and provided a guide for the rest of my life. For example:
The other day I was trying to drive to my first day of an internship for my program at BYU when the car I was driving broke down, leaving me helpless and stranded. It had already been such a stressful and difficult week and as I was already overwhelmed, this was my breaking point. Humiliated, I had to call in and tell the people at my internship that I wouldn’t be able to make it for my first day. Starting off with a bad impression wasn’t exactly what i was hoping for. As i hung up the phone, I slammed my hand against the steering wheel and began to form a fist to shake towards heaven for allowing this to happen when I had a bit of a flashback of some specific moments of my mission. I was taken back to a specific night when I came back home after a day where everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong. I remember throwing myself on my bed, shaking my fist towards heaven and asking God “why? why lord? You know just how much i need this and how important this is to me! why?” The Lord let me know that He was in charge and that everything would work for my good. He reminded me that His son atoned for all of those bitter moments so that they could become sweet through him. I remember falling to my knees in humble tears as i remembered all God had done for me. It was in moments like those that i knew that God has a plan for me and that everything would work out in time. 
In my broken-down car, I was overtaken by those same emotions of gratitude and humility as I recognized that there was a reason for this and that the Lord knows better. this was just the humility check that i needed. I so desperately needed a moment to remember my dependance on God and how much he loves me. Yeah, i was frustrated that i had had such a rough week but as soon as i remembered those mission experiences that frustration melted away and was replaced with nothing but love and gratitude. Once again i was able to say, “thank you lord. for loving me enough to cut me down. For loving me enough to hurt me” -Elder Christofferson. 
Gratitude softens the hardest, most bitter hearts 
Once again, I learned the importance of “Come what may and love it” 
jessi israelsen

He makes it enough

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve come home so I figure it’s about time that I start writing again. 
The last two weeks have been full of large and small miracles. So many people have been asking how I’m holding up or what I’m feeling and to answer that I’m doing great and I’m so full of gratitude. The Lord is truly sustaining us through all of this and He has definitely extended us His merciful hand again and again. There have been so many people that have showed us God’s perfect love through their selfless service and sacrifices. I cannot thank all of you enough for the mercy you have shown us. It just strengthens my testimony that a lot of the time, God shows us his infinite love through others.
Last week I had a huge advanced functional anatomy exam at BYU that I was so nervous for. I hadn’t had time to study at all due to the circumstances so all I could do is get on my knees and ask for divine help. I was trying to prioritize and I knew that my family needed to come before even my studies in this situation so I asked a merciful Heavenly Father to help me because I couldn’t do this all alone. I begged Him to just help me get a passing score on the test so I wouldn’t fail the class. I did all I could to cram for the test the morning of but I didn’t feel like it wasn’t even close to sufficient to what I needed to have studied. I walked into the class with a prayer in my heart and trusted that with faith in Jesus Christ all things are possible.
Surprisingly, I was the first to finish the test and handed it to my T.A. to be graded. I didn’t feel like I had failed but I also didn’t feel like I did amazing either. The test was out of 100 points but there were 4 bonus questions making it possible to get 104 points out of 100. My T.A. handed me back my paper and my jaw dropped as I saw my score: 103/100. I had missed a single bonus question. That was all! My T.A. said it was one of the highest scores they had seen so far on this test. I walked out of the classroom on cloud 9. As soon as I walked out I found an empty classroom and got down on my knees to thank my Heavenly Father. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude and felt so humbled. I cannot deny that I had divine help during that test. It was the most incredible experience because as I was taking the test I felt as though my mind was clear and that everything that I had ever been taught about this subject was freely coming to my memory. It was a perfect example of John 14:26.

“But the comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, 
whom the Father will send in my name,
he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance…”

It would be completely and utterly wrong of me to try to take even partial credit for that score because I know without a doubt that it was because of God. That was a huge miracle for me and I can’t deny that I received divine help. I learned a lot from that experience. It wasn’t until the next day, however, that I learned an incredible lesson from my aunt about my experience. She compared it to the atonement. Alone our efforts will never be sufficient. No matter what we do it will never be enough but through the Savior’s atonement it’s enough. In fact, the atonement makes it more than enough. The atonement takes our insignificant efforts and our weaknesses and makes them more than sufficient through our faith in Him. I wasn’t able to do it on my own. My very best efforts didn’t even come close to being enough but God took my faith and my desires and made up the difference. He even made it more than what I thought was possible. The atonement is my favorite thing in the entire world. I will never quite understand it’s greatness and magnitude but as I do learn more about it I am filled with even more gratitude. The Lord is so merciful to us even when we don’t deserve it. That’s perfect love. I testify that he loves us so dearly and is so very aware of each of our individual situations. He’s there and he loves you. Don’t ever doubt that.
God is supporting us and making our burdens light.
Through Christ, all things are possible
 Love you all!

Come what may and love it

Jessi Israelsen

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A HAPPILY EVER AFTER – August 18, 2014

A family we have been teaching was baptized this week. As they were baptized, every heart ache, disappointment, and set back I have had during the past year and a half seemed to be swallowed up in the joy I felt. It had all been worth it. 
This morning as I was studying I came across Alma 29:10. It´s a scripture I’ve read a hundred times over but this time it hit me with great force and power. I felt as if it was taken directly from my journal. It has been pretty difficult to find words to describe my feelings lately but this scripture says it all. I KNOW of God´s mercy. I can´t write that phrase without tears filling my eyes. I know of his mercy. I´ve felt it. He has truly extended his merciful arm to me every day of my entire life and he has never given up on me. He has answered every prayer and every heartbroken plea. I am truly filled with joy that seems to fill every space in my life. The Lord has done so much for me and continues to do so. I so dearly love the Lord and my heart is full of gratitude that can´t be expressed.  Oh how the Lord loves us. 
      “And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the lord their god, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the lord has done for me, yeah, even that he hath heard my prayer; yeah, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me.”
Alma 29:10
Someone told me that “In the end it will all be alright, and if it´s not alright, it´s not the end.” The Lord has resolved everything. As much as it hurts and as much as I don´t want this to end I know that it´s time to go forward and start another adventure back in Utah. If you could have learned one thing from me over the past year and a half I so dearly pray that it is of the atonement. It´s through the atonement that God extends to us his mercy. It´s why our prayers are answered in the best way and the best timing. It´s the reason I am filled with such joy. I love you all and I’ll see you soon. I truly love the Lord and I will never regret the decision I made to come out here. Never. It has all been worth it. 
Come what may and love it
Hermana Israelsen

HIS MERCY – August 11, 2014

This week was another one of those weeks of reflection. It was a real eye-opener of how merciful the Lord has been with me not only on my mission but throughout my entire life. We watched the movie 17 miracles with a family this week and I think that´s what triggered all of this gratitude. I saw how merciful and loving the Lord was towards those people even though there were in the worst situations possible. The Lord never ceased to show forth his mighty hand. It´s no different for me.
The Lord has never ceased to stretch for his mighty hand and show me his love and mercy. He has truly carried me in every difficult moment when I couldn´t walk anymore. He has taken my angered pleas and changed them into humble gratitude. He has comforted my aching heart and replaced bitterness with sweetness. He has replaced my fear with faith, despair with hope, and worries with peace. He has made up the difference when my efforts just weren´t good enough because he makes ALL the difference. He has changed my heart and desires. He has showed me miracles just when I was about to give up hope. He has provided me a way to do the impossible.
I can´t even begin to express the deep gratitude that has filled my soul this week. Tears come to my eyes every time I think about how the Lord has never once left me comfortless. He has never left me alone. Even in those moments when I was convinced that I was alone I came to find that I couldn´t have been more wrong. He has NEVER left my side. He has never left me comfortless. He has never left me broken. He has never retracted his extended hand. He has never walked away.  Never. The Lord has been so much more aware of me than I could ever comprehend. He has truly had a hand in every aspect of my life and I know that will never change. His mercy is extended towards us all and we don´t even recognize it the majority of the time. Every day is full of evidence of the lord´s love and awareness. He is so aware of even the weakest plea for help. We find the greatest strength from our knees. I know it because I’ve lived it a hundred times over. I so dearly love my Savior and my Father in Heaven. My life is full of evidence of their love and mercy.

Love you all!
Come what may and love it
Hermana Israelsen

IN HIS PERFECT TIMING – August 4, 2014

Well, all of our investigators left on vacations this week for the month of August. Looks like we´ve got to start from ground one again but that´s ok haha. I’m excited! I’ve finally found the fun in starting from 0. It took me nearly the whole mission to learn but now starting over doesn´t bother me. It´s just another opportunity to see miracles! 
Well, once again I had to learn to say, “not my will be done but thine.”  I think that´s a lesson that I just have to keep relearning because it doesn´t always stick. Earlier this week I was on my knees talking about the situation with my Heavenly Father.  I was heartbroken and poured that out to the Lord and he listened, comforted me, and then taught me about his Son.  I was praying to try to convince God to do what I wanted. He quickly reminded me of His Son and how he was able to fully give up His will to His Father so that His Father could fulfill His purposes.
After ¨wrestling¨ with God like Enos about the situation I finally came to the decision that I would be ok if this wonderful family didn´t get baptized while I was here. I realized that the only thing that mattered was that they would get baptized in the Lord´s perfect timing. If I wasn´t there for it, it´d be ok. My Father in Heaven helped me to realize that and the spirit brought me such comfort and peace to know that that´s what the Lord wanted me to realize.
Once again I was reminded that this isn´t MY work but the work of God and I am merely an instrument in His hands. Everything will go according to His perfect timing. If I can´t be there it doesn´t matter because what matters is that they make a covenant with God. That´s the important thing. The hurt is now gone, I am no longer broken hearted that I won´t be here for their baptism, but rather am filled to the brim with such joy that they´re going to come to Christ! I am so happy for them and don´t have any reason to complain. The Lord has stretched forth his merciful hand again and I couldn´t be any more grateful. That is one amazing miracle for me. I truly do love this work with all of my heart. 
Love you all! 
Come what may and LOVE it. Just do it. Life´s better that way
Hermana Israelsen

Thou Art Hermana Israelsen and I am God – July 28, 2014

It´s all in the Lord´s hands and I don´t have a single doubt about that. 
I was asked to speak in church yesterday about missionary work so I chose to talk about my very favorite aspect of missionary work: the atonement. I talked about how my reasons to serve a mission have changed since coming here to the mission field.
I used to want to serve God, serve others, and share my testimony but now it´s so much deeper than that. My desires to be a missionary now come from my deep love and appreciation for the atonement. I want to make that available to everyone because the price has already been paid. I don´t want a single drop of his precious blood to be wasted. I want others to feel of the power of His mercy and grace. I want others to be healed through him. I mainly want to bring others to repentance because I know that´s what brings God the most joy. I so desperately want to make him happy and utilize his atonement. I just get teary eyed every time I start to talk about the atonement because it has truly penetrated every fiber of my being. It´s magnitude has completely changed my life before, during, and after the mission. I´ll never be the same. I´m so incredibly grateful for that. I love my Savior and I so dearly need him. I´m not perfect. I’m weak. But in him I can do all things. 
There´s a scripture in Helaman 10 that has been going through my head all week.  Helaman 10:6 “Behold, thou art (insert your name), and I am God.”
It is through god that all things are possible. 
Love you all! 
Come what may and love it
Hermana Israelsen


This week was one of those times that I just sat back in awe and remembered that this is truly the Lord´s work and not mine.The Lord truly knows how to do his own work. 
We also fasted twice this week for a miracle to occur and the Lord once again showed forth his merciful and loving hand.
Everything about our experience teaching a sweet family has been nothing short of a miracle from an Almighty God. I can only give all of the glory to God because with what has happened it would be absolutely terrible for me to try to take any of the credit because this was one of those experiences that was 1000% God. I feel so much love for this work, the people, and most of all the Savior and my Father in Heaven.
Love you all.  Like elder Holland said. You keep going. You keep trying. Keep moving forward. Good things are ahead.  I know that because it´s happened to me a thousand times over.
Come what may and love it
Hermana Israelsen