July 28, 2013

July 22, 2013 - Flamingo Day!

It's sad not being able to celebrate Flamingo Day with you all but I'm excited to celebrate it here.  I got a bunch of cute pink flamingo cards from Dad and Mom Grimes back in Modesto.  No one here in Los Banos really knows of Flamingo day sadly.  I told my comp but she thinks that's weird and hasn't really recognized it.  But that's okay. I know you all are celebrating it and I'll be there celebrating it with you in spirit because in my heart I sure am celebrating it!!! :)  Thank you all for being silly and just having fun in life.

We had Zone Conference Friday.  It was one of the big ones where you get your car checked, relearn emergency plans, learn more about eating and exercising healthy, etc.  We even got new phones!  No iphone or ipads yet, but they say within the next couple months we could have them!  I guess they are still testing them out in the Provo mission.  Then we were informed on the new dress standards for the Elders.  Pres Gelwix said he doesn't want it to take immediate effect, but to slowly work into it.  It's nice though that they are changing things up for missionaries now days.  I'm just happy I can wear clothes that are more stylish. :)  At Conference though, I met an Elder that was in the same MTC District as Drew!  He's from South Jordan so I asked if he knew Drew Roberts and he was like "I didn't know him much in High School, but we were in the same District in the MTC!"  I wrote his name down but I can't remember now.  I think it was Elder Larsen.  He's in my mission until he gets his Visa to South America.  We had Elders in our mission who were headed to Denmark.  One of the Elders that served in my area for a couple weeks was just informed his Visa finally came!  He's headed out tomorrow.  It'll be sad not having him around but we are all so excited for him.

This week has been just working to get new investigators.  That day we found 5 new investigators.  4 of them are in a family.  They seemed really excited about our message.  We set a return appointment for the other day but we showed and they weren't home.  Hopefully we can get a hold of them and teach them!  We taught Howie at church yesterday.  He is our only progressing investigator in both wards.  He's been reading the BOM, coming to church, and praying.  His scheduled baptism date was for this weekend but we've only taught him 2 lessons.  So we are aiming for August some time.

We did service this week for the Lagunas.  Audreyanna Lagunas was in the ER Tuesday do to stomach pains.  They think she has Cervical cancer. :(  She goes in this week to get more tests done.  Saturday night we were texting her and found out Victor her husband was now in the ER.  We hurry and went over to their house to see what's up.  I guess Anthony (the 12 year old that was baptized), his older brother Matthew got in a fight with the dad and grabbed a rod and hit him in the face.  Victor's face was all cut up.  Matthew was put into juvenile hall.  So we helped that night doing laundry and dishes.  I got the 2 youngest kids ready for bed.  I tried having them race like we do at home to see who gets their pj's on the fastest, but that did not work like it does with us.  Ha ha.. they just stood their staring at me with confused faces.  I finally got them in their pjs but by the time we were leaving they were back in their normal clothes.  Kids definitely need nightly routines.  
Well I love you all and hope you have a good Flamingo Day!!!   Also can you believe a year ago I sent my mission papers through!!!!! :)  CRAZY!!!!  I'm so glad I'm here and for the things that I have learned so far.  It really is the hardest experience ever, but I love learning more about my Father in Heaven and brother Jesus Christ.  Take care!!!!

-hermana Sorensen

July 15, 2013

This has been a very tough and frustrating week for us. Thank you all for your letters and love this week.  I received a lot and it was perfect timing when I needed them.  I know this is part of the learning experience.  We can't all have easy moments.  We learn and grow from the hard.  I love this area and pray it picks up and that we can know where we need to go and who we need to find.  I'm working hard and doing what a missionary should, but maybe I'm not working WHERE I should and doing what I should in this area.  It's hard not to be frustrated and downhearted in the work.

I guess the good things of the week: saw Mickey Mouse on the street waving.  I honked and waved back of coarse.  Met a less active who was very closed but after talking with her for a while said we can come back for dinner and meet her nieces who aren't members.  Montserrat came to church.  Had yummy meals at the Andersen's.  I love that family.  They asked for your guys number so it sounds like they'll be calling.

Please pray for me and Hermana Miller and this area.  We don't know where to turn and where to go from here.  We have been giving it our all and seeing no immediate results.  It's very discouraging and sad.  I pray they don't close this area and I pray things will pick up.  I know God hasn't abandoned us.  These are his children and he loves them so much.

Take care and I'll talk to you soon.  Again I'm sorry and I know next week will be better.  I love you all!!!!!!
- hermana Arianne Sorensen 

July 9, 2013

July 9, 2013

I'm glad to hear your 4th was good!  I sure missed the Clearfield fireworks.  The ones here sure didn't compare.  We spent it at Bea and Martin Laguna's house.  We got there around 4:30 and stayed till 10:00.  They had all their family there so I had fun playing that lasso golf game we have at home with some of the kids.  I won of coarse. ;)  For dinner we had Tri-Tip, hot dogs, rice, corn and fruit.
Bea and Martin Laguna
 It was fun to just relax and visit and not be on a time schedule.  The gentlemen started some fireworks so we had fun watching them.  In the back ground we could see a few of the big fireworks going off.  We caught some of Pacheco High's fireworks, but again they don't compare at all to what we see in Utah.  I guess that's what you get for living in a small town like Los Banos.  Hermana Miller and I just laid on the grass afterwards looking at the stars and just admiring how big this world is and how grateful we are for the Plan of Salvation.  So it was a good 4th.

The weather is getting cooler here too but still warm.  Is the water shortage all of US or just Utah or the western states?  There are a lot of signs here about conserving water but who knows.  I know nothing! Ha ha.. Yay for Missionary life!  You will have to keep me posted on the big events in the world so I look sane when people ask me or talk about it.

This past week has been good!  Last Tuesday we saw a huge miracle.  Last weekend we were going through the ward list and I spotted a name (the Langs) that was on our new records, but not the previous one, so I thought they were new.  I told Sis Clawson and Miller that we should call and see if we can visit them to welcome them in if we haven't met them already.  I called them up and talked to the man named Henry.  He was so excited to hear from us and we set up an appointment.  Well the next day he called and asked if we'd like to join them for lunch.  There was no turning that down! Ha ha..  So last Tuesday we stopped by and visited with them.  When Henry answered the door, all of our hopes diminished.  You could smell heavy smoke from within and coffee.  But we went in, had lunch, and then started asking questions on how they were members.  Henry and his wife Georgette have been living there for a while now.  Georgette's mother was a member living in that home but go ill so Georgette moved in with her till she died.  They ended up buying the home and now lives there.  Georgette is not a member, and Henry has fallen away.  As we got talking the spirit there was SO strong!  I have never felt it more in my life then I did there.  I even told them that and they started crying because I knew they could feel it too.  We asked Georgette if we could start teaching her and she said absolutely.  She's always wanted to be baptized and be a member of this church but she was always so busy raising the kids and then taking care of the mom.  We talked a lot about temples and Henry shared many of the miracles he has seen in his life.  I have never met someone with such faith as he has.  He truly has witnessed many wonderful things in his lifetime but has not acted on those experiences.  He has been through the temple and knows these things are true, but because of what a bishop previously mentioned to him offended him and he left.  We went back a second time this last week and taught them the Plan of Salvation.  Georgette understood it all and thought it was wonderful.  She said she knows this is what her mother wants her to do and that this is the time.  Words can't describe how awesome this family is.  The spirit is so present there and my testimony has been strengthened because of them.  The said they couldn't make it to church this past Sunday but said they would definitely be there next.  We're visiting with them again today so I am super excited.  God truly puts prepared people in your path in the most unusual ways.  All it took was comparing ward lists and making a call.  Little did we know we would find a part member family who has been waiting for us.  We set a baptismal date for August 3rd.  YAY!!!

Anthony Lagunas baptism
They were the highlight of my week.  Also Anthony Lagunas was baptized too this Saturday!!!!!  He was just so happy.  The whole family came which was very nice.  The grandma was crying as we sang the closing song.  She is very stubborn in her ways but I am glad that she felt something that day.

I don't have much time this week, but I know this gospel is true.  I'm so excited for you all in your new family mission plan.  I know as you pray and ask God who is prepared for you; whether it be giving them a pass along card to or just saying hello; he will guide you and let you know.  I know there is someone only you can touch.  I know I need to eat my own words  at times when I get down and feel like I have no impact here, but I know that's not true.  Continue to work as a family and help those around you.  Be their friend, invite them over for dinner, hang out with them, etc. so that when missionaries knock on their door they will let them in because of the sweet influence they've had with previous Mormons.

I love you all!  Thank you so much for all the emails and love and support.  I really appreciate it.

Take care! xoxoxoxoxo
-hermana Sorensen

July 1, 2013

July 1, 2013

I'm staying in Los Banos with Hermana Miller!!!!!  Sister Clawson is being transferred to Fresno North.  I'm happy about this.  I love the area and wasn't ready to leave or train or get someone new.  It's still going to be hard, but it will be a lot easier not being in a trio and not having a source of contention.  Thanks for sending me Drews letter!  It's fun reading about the MTC life and remembering my time there.  His Spanish is GOOD!  He's going to do great.
This week has continued to get better.  We've still been trying to clean up the ward lists of Less-Actives and individuals who have moved out.  Last night we visited with Sis Brotherson.  She's not a member I guess and her husband died a few months ago.  So we will have to take them off the list.  Luckily no other deaths this week, but lots of move outs and "Don't Contact".  It's sad to see people get baptized and then want nothing to do with the church.  Our wards have less than 300 people now which technically falls into Branches now.  Hopefully Church Headquarters will see our efforts in cleaning it up and hopefully they will combine our small "wards" again.  Last week I counted 30 "families". (Pretty much just counted sections/benches where people were sitting).  Sounds like a good bunch but it's just so surprising to see how small.  But it's fun getting really close to the members and not have an overwhelming amount.

It's been SUPER hot here.  So miserable.  Yesterday it was 111.  President told the mission he's cutting our car miles to get us out biking and walking more.  Yeah now he tells us when it's the hottest months coming up!  Urgh... I wouldn't mind biking Oct-April. But May-Sept is the hottest!  I love Pres. Gelwix but man we are all loathing this change coming up.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed with being Spanish, a Sister, and in a wide area that he'll let us keep ours.  If not, pray that people will let us in and cool us off!  We've been doing our tracting in the evenings which helps but as Sisters we're not really suppose to be doing that after 6.  Oh well.

Yesterday at church we taught 3rd hour in both wards about Missionary work.  We tied in a lot of what was said last Sunday in the Mission President training.  I really hope the wards see the urge and help us with referrals and team-ups.  We met with Bishop Nuno to set goals with him for this next month, and we will have quite the work to do.  He feels we can have 4 baptized in the Mercy Springs ward!  We didn't have ANY this last month and he thinks we can get 4 just for that ward.  We still have Los Banos!  We will be pushed but we actually have 2 set already.  Anthony Lagunas is getting baptized this weekend!!!  We are just so excited for him. He's been wanting this for quite some time now but his family has been having a lot going on.  His sister Alyssa finally had her Sweet 16 party Saturday, so now the family can focus on Anthony's baptism.  Brother Betham will be baptizing him.  Then we set another baptism for Howie for the end of July.  He is the boyfriend of one of the YW in the ward.  We can only teach him on Sundays down in Dos Palos, so we have to really cram the lessons together to get through all of them.  The Croninger family (the members) are really good in helping him with the questions he has when we're not there.  Emily Croninger, (the girlfriend) has a sweet testimony that I know will help him.  Now we just need to keep these 2 and find 2 more!  And some in Los Banos! :)

Saturday we helped out Sis Lagunas get the church all set up for Alyssa's party.  Not sure if we should have helped her all day long, but we ended up doing just that.  We felt bad that no one was there helping and she was very stressed.  It was fun though.  It felt more like we were setting up for a wedding reception, but once we got the balloons up it was looking more like a Birthday party. Ha ha..  I felt really bad because they had a family friend do the cake and it was UGLY!  Sis Lagunas cried and cried.  I could have done a cake better then that!  I wanted to call Sabrina up though and ask for  emergency help! Ha ha.. The dad and grandma drove to Merced though and quickly got a replacement cake so that was another reason we helped stay longer.  They are a great family and I'm so blessed to have gotten to know them.  It's sister Millers birthday tomorrow, so the Lagunas are having us over tonight for a fun early party for her. :)

Well work in Los Banos is picking up.  We went tracting by Cardoza and found some great people.  After finishing one section of the street, we were debating on whether to turn around and do the other side of the street back to the car or just finish the little col-de-sac.  We chose to do the col-de-sac and the first house we went to, they were moving in!  Andrea, the owner of the house was shocked to see us and asked where we came from.  She ran inside and said "your missionaries are here!" to her cousin that was the one who was moving in.  Well the cousin didn't come out, but Andrea let us talk with her.  Elders have stopped by before and talked with her.  She really enjoyed it.  She is such an awesome woman.  She has opened her doors to the homeless and helps them get back on their feet.  One of the men we met that night has been living with her for the last 3 years just in the garage.  He takes care of the yard and helps her with moving and all other little things she has to keep him busy and pay her for letting him stay.  I don't think I could ever do something like that myself, but to see the love she has for those around her is incredible.  She's working to get a unit here in Los Banos for the homeless to help them get back on their feet.  It was nice talking with her.  Last night we got a text from the MTC with a referral on the street that we had tracted this night.  They must have not been home but took the card we left and looked it up online and requested for Missionaries to stop by!  We are excited to meet this person and see how we can help them.  I've never had someone actually call our number or request a visit from pass along cards on doors.  Hopefully I can say it really works!  We're stopping by tonight so I will let you know next week how it goes! :)

I don't know if you all have kept up with the Easter Project I sent to you all a while back.  I finished it this morning!  It's been amazing to read more of Christ and see the miracles and stories of his life.  This morning I really enjoyed reading about taking his name upon us.  Every Sunday we ask God to help us remember him and we commit to him to take his Son Jesus Christs name.  As a missionary, I wear his name on my heart.  As Elder Neil A. Andersen says, those that don't have the badges, paint one on your heart.  It's amazing to meet people and see how deep of faith they have.  I'm saddened when they have such faith and here I am with the truth and I have half that faith they do.  Why is it that we know this is all true and yet we don't show it.  I'm not saying we need to shout Hallelujahs all day long to everyone we meet, but why don't we see it more of as Gods hand in our lives and not coincidence.  I am very guilty of this.  Being here I always just say it's just coincident or it was going to happen either way.  I need to be better at seeing the Lords hand in all that I do.  I know their are miracles everywhere and that we can have that strong faith that many others do if we really just act on our faith and put all our trust in him.  I know this Gospel is true.  I've always known it.  It has been tested many times, but seeing those who don't have it hurts my heart.  It strengthens my beliefs.  I know families can be together forever!  I know I lived with my Father in Heaven before this life and I can return to live with him again.  I know I can be forgiven of my mistakes.  I know the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ!  God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  I am glad to be here and help others come to know what I know.

I love you all so much and pray for you every day.  I hope you all have a fun and safe 4th of July.  One of the older couples in the Los Banos ward holds a giant party where they block off the roads and invite the whole neighborhood.  The missionaries before always celebrate with them, so they of coarse invited us and we accepted!  I'm so excited!  Fun BBQ and socializing!  We'll be there from 6-9 and hopefully get to see some fireworks.  Hope all is well and you all are staying cool too!  Take care!

- Hermana Sorensen