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