September 25, 2013

September 23, 2013 Half Way!

Drum roll.....this Wednesday marks my official half way point!!!!!  Holy Moly!!!  It's crazy but I also feel it's about time! ha ha jk.  No I really am happy to be here.  The time is flying by and I am trying to enjoy every minute I can.  I made it through another transfer though.  I will be staying in Los Banos for another transfer with Hermana Hammer!  I am very relieved.  I was not ready to say goodbye.  I got word though that my trainer Hermana Crandall is the new Coordinating Sister for the Mission.  I knew it!!!!  She's the best and is going to do great!  She's just leaving Modesto.  Been there for 9 months!  And will now be in Fresno probably the rest of her mission.

Well this week I became a member of the Cardinal Puff Club.  I will have to tell you more about it when I get back.  But let's say I felt really sick afterwards.  The Elders gave me a bigger cup then what everyone else used and so I ended up drinking a LOT of water.  Ugh..  But I did it finally and it feels great to join the club!  Ha ha.. 

Tuesday before our District Meeting, Hna Hammer and I went out to get donuts for breakfast.  As we were ordering, we didn't realize the gentleman was talking to us in Spanish.  We ordered, and as we were headed to pay he told us not to worry about it and he gave them to us for free.  We were so touched by his kindness and as we were walking out, that was when we realized he only was speaking Spanish to us and we understood everything he said to the point of ordering something!  We were very proud of ourselves. :)  After District Meeting we went back to Los Banos and tracted all day long.  We were very distraught and down at the rudeness of people after such a good morning.  Well we got to our dinner appointment which was with Donna Murphey who isn't a member or even investigator, we were so flabbergasted to see a candle lit dinner awaiting us.  It was Thanksgiving in September.  Turkey, potatoes, rolls, pumpkin pie, green beans, etc.  She is just the sweetest lady ever.  We tracted into her awhile back and she told us she's not interested, but would love to feed us.  So we took her up on the offer.  Her Boyfriend Manuel was there too.  He told us a lot about Portugal (where he was born) and about his religion back ground.  They are both in the 50's and so it was fun hearing their life stories.  Manuel was very amazed at the sacrifice we were making in being here.  We told them more about our church and a little bit about our beliefs.  We kept it very light and sweet, nothing to pushy.  And in doing so we got another dinner appointment!  This time Manuel is cooking and said he's going to make us a fancy Portugal meal! :)  I'm excited!  So the donuts and candle lit dinner really made our day special.  Also that night we went to Young Women's and helped them door bell ditch the Bishops house.  We taped up their front door and stuck a bunch of balloons in it so when they open the door they all fall in.  It was so cute to hear their reactions.  They definitely can use some laughter every now and then at this hard time.

The biggest thing we planned for this week was our ward activity.  We had a pretty good turn out to the Volleyball game.  The Alvarado-Calixtro family (our investigators) came to it!  Lupita and Hannah enjoyed playing volleyball while mom and dad (Betty and Carlos), and little Jesus played in the Nursery.  It was a fun night!  It was mostly all the active ward members that came, but it was more than we had at our movie night last month.  I know little by little more and more people will come to the activities.  

This week the temperature has really dropped down.  It's been in the low 70's!!!!  Saturday we got a big windstorm that almost blew us away!  I didn't mind tracting in that at all!!! :)  Then that night we had a mini rainstorm.  Mini as in it only rains for 3 minutes if you're lucky.  We always come out of where ever we are and see the ground wet and realize it must have rained while we stepped into a house for a quick prayer.  I sure miss Utah weather especially at this time of year.  I don't even know what the weather this time of year is going to be like here.  Not sure if it will stay in the 70's or if this is just a cold front and that it will be back in the 100's next week.

I think the thing I learned this week is that Satan is really working hard to lead others astray.  I keep hearing that the Pope now is just amazing and his teachings are so much nicer.  More churches are accepting more doctrine and beliefs.  This is all very bad!  Meeting people of other faiths all the time and talking to them, they find no need to join our church because their church believes the same and so they are just going to stay in their church since they already know the people.  Our churches AREN'T the same.  With our investigators now, they don't see the need or urgency to join this church.  It's sad!  One of our Less Active members we've been visiting and reteaching (Cheryl) has told us she will be going to the Catholic church for awhile to clear up some of her mistakes so that the Mormon church doesn't have to deal with it.  She then said if she doesn't feel anything there, she will come back to ours.  I'm getting so sick of hearing that!  I informed you last week with the Palmer's and Lupe saying they think this church isn't for them.  Just because we are given trials doesn't mean God doesn't love us.  He's testing us to see which way we turn.  Alma 5:28 I believe.  The good shepherd is calling us.  We need to make sure we are listening to him and not the bad shepherd.

A lot of little things went on this week, but it's hard to write them all.  But things are good here and I am learning something new each and every day.  I'm excited to work here another transfer and help the people here.  I know God has a lot in store.  I love you all!!!!!

- hermana Sorensen

September 16, 2013

Well this week has been good, but very down heartening as well.  I I realized that all these hard moments are learning moments and to learn as much as I can from them.  I just tell myself, "this is going to be a great story to share someday!", and "when I look back on my mission, what did I learn from this moment."  It really has helped me have a better attitude towards my mission.  Sure wish I would have figured this out 9 months ago!  Well I think I've always know I need to do that, but now I really am putting it to action because I don't want to waste these next 9 months and have regret.

Yesterday was a hard Sunday.  All Sundays are hard.  You'd think they'd be spiritual high days.  These are the days I question God's ways.  Yesterday I was very hurt because a family told us Saturday to find them a ride to church. We told the Elders to bring it up in their WCM that morning.  I called them and followed through and they said they got it taken care of.  Come to find out, they didn't, even when I kept asking they said someone was getting them.  I did not see them the whole block.  No one got them.  Here this less active family was waiting all morning to go to church but no one got them after we promised them someone would.  I told the Elders to send someone over still so they can go to Sunday school.  Did that happen?  No.  Now Hna Hammer and I look like the bad guys.  Then the teacher for the Senior Primary wasn't there and the Elders left, so they asked us if we could teach the kids.  We were nice and said yes (even though I was upset with the ward), and taught about Nauvoo to a bunch of kids.  There were 14 of them.  I guess that's what you get for being in a small ward.  They combine Junior and Senior classes because there is not enough kids or teachers to teach by age.  So we had the 8-12 year olds.  I was pretty proud of how well we did though.  I could be in primary. :)  Then during our church hour, Sis Palmer stormed off after sacrament yelling down the hall as she's booking it out of the church saying she is never coming back to this church ever again and that she doesn't want the missionaries over any more and that everyone is a bunch of jerks.  We tried running after her to see what set her off.  Everyone kept asking us and we didn't know why she's mad at us.  Sis Palmer called us after church just balling and saying how can the church be so mean and judgmental of them.  She said she's removing her name from the church and is joining another one.  Their family is struggling finance wise and has been getting help from the church for a while now.  Well the Bishop says he can't help any more, so the Palmer's are furious.  I understand what the bishopric is doing, because yes, they need to learn how to work and not just expect us all to pay for their bills for the rest of their lives. So it's just frustrating to see this family not understand that.  They take things to the extreme.  I know Hna Hammer and I have done all we can to help this family, but we can't do anything more when they have shut their hearts.  We were both just so devastated at this and are hurt that they think others are judging them when everyone loves them.  We have worked so hard with them lately and to see them not want us over any more is sad.  She said to keep in touch though through letters and Facebook.  THEN!  Yesterday night we visited Lupe Coronado.  Her mother died Saturday and is struggling with that because she can't go because her son is handicap so she needs to stay with him and then they don't have the papers to go to Mexico and back.  We tried comforting her, but she is questioning the church also.  Lupe Martinez was there at the house too and she just lost her job and is homeless again.  Both these ladies are hurt by the members in the ward and don't want to come back.  Lupe Martinez needed a ride home after church the other Sunday and asked for one from a lady.  This lady doesn't speak spanish but understood and said yes.  Well instead of Lupe being taken to her house, she just asked if she could be taken to Lupe Coronado's.  This lady taking her stopped the car, told her she's not her taxi, and that she has 2 legs and can walk there.  I know this lady and am extremely hurt she'd do something like that.  I know it's true though because she told us her side the other day.  Why can't everyone just get a long?  There is no love in this ward.  Everyone is hurt by words and actions of others and has left the church.  We got in the car after this visit and I was just done.  Hna Hammer and I were so hurt by everything that happened.  The DeHerrera's were never picked up after we told them they would and are now angry with that, the Palmer's hate the Bishopric and members, and now these 2 ladies are hurt by the words and actions of 1 lady.  We have been going to the auxiliaries this past week asking them how we can help them in their callings.  We are getting everyone's input on this ward and how we can better it.  From what everyone has said, it sounds like this ward was the funnest ward.  Lots of fun activities and events that people all loved going to.  Then we got some members in the ward who started saying we need to cut back.  The cutting back got farther and farther all because of these certain individuals that had a problem with activities being to fun.  This family got put into the higher callings like Bishop, Relief Society, Primary, etc.  And then they cut everything off to were it was pointless to hold anything because no one wanted to attend because it was boring.  Years later the feeling is the same.  The YW paint nails or frost cupcakes EVERY mutual night.  Nothing else.  No one participates in anything.  This ward is just so hard to get anything out of!  How do you work and help in a ward that wants change but won't put the effort in it because of previous experiences of put down.  I just want to destroy everything and build it back up.  No more hurt feelings!

That was just Sunday.  Sigh.  I guess the rest of the week was good.  We did service at a house with a bunch of black widows.  I thought I was going to die.  How could you live in an environment like that and feel safe?  Zone Conference was Tuesday.  We pulled into Turlock and I then realized I forgot my name tag!  OOOPPS!!!!  Thank goodness one of the sisters we rode with had her brothers name tag.  So she gave me hers to wear and she wore her brothers who is serving in Iceland right now.  I was Hermana McArthur that day and she was Elder (except in Icelandic) McArthur.  Ha ha..  Friday night our dinner appt canceled but they gave us money to go out to eat.  We went to Denny's.  Amanda and Solomon, we spend $5 trying to win an ipad with that key machine! Ha ha.. I saw it and remembered us trying to win there in Texas.  We got so close!  But I guess that would be hard trying to split an ipad between the 2 of us and also trying to explain that to President.  Broke the rules in the white handbook of not gambling.  We also drank Vodka.  Another rule breaker.  Ha ha ha.. We were at dinner and the lady was telling us how she made the homemade vanilla.  It's just vodka and vanilla beans.  We didn't make a big deal about it because we didn't want to be rude.  I know she knew we weren't suppose to have it, but she's a harder lady, and I think she was surprised we didn't say anything.  She was probably bummed.  So we had fun accounting all of that to our District Leader that night.  Ha ha.. He said he had almonds that day and was looking at the ingredients and I guess one of the seasonings was Coffee.  What a good leader he is! :P  just kidding.  Also I think I told you before, but Mickey lives here in Los Banos just so you know.  He drives a mini cart around town every now and then.  Hna Hammer didn't believe me for the longest time until Saturday when we drove past him.  I need to carry my camera with me and have it ready for when I see him so I can take a picture!  Oohh!  Also, we taught Shen this week again at the Fairbanks, and as we were leaving Bro Fairbanks told us to wait because he had something for us.  Lo and behold, he pulled out a new Saturday's Warrior CD for us!  Ha ha ha.. they both smiled and laughed at our excitement!  So we've been listening to that nonstop.  I loved your letter Kimberly with the "line upon line" part because it was just so fitting that night when I got the fun family letter in the mail from everyone at East Canyon.  I loved it!  Thank you all for the sweet love notes.  And Michelle, all my companions now fold their garments like the way you taught me.  You're a legend here. :)

This week really has been good.  We are slowly seeing things get better, but it still is far from being to where the Lord would like it.  I guess I am here to help the members not doubt their beliefs and help them forgive.  We are putting on a volleyball game this Saturday and are really trying to get a lot to come to that.  Please pray that people will come and have a fun time.  And please pray for this ward more than anything.  I wish you could see and be here to see just how sad this ward is and how difficult it has been.  I love being here there SO much and I don't want to leave.  Transfer calls are this weekend.  I hope I can stay for a little longer and help the ward and people here.

Sorry this letter is short and mostly about my Sunday.  Things are going good and we have a lot of hope for the future.  Thank you all for your love and support.  I truly am blessed to be here and can't believe how much I have grown.  I don't think I realized how much until this last conference when I saw the new missionaries get up and bare testimony and also during role plays.  I am more confident in what I say and do.  My Spanish is still needs help, but little by little.  I was able to understand and even correct the new missionaries Spanish.  So to me that is improvement! :)

I love you all!  Please stay close to the Lord and forgive those that have hurt you.  Turning away from the church is NEVER the answer.  When you feel lost and alone, THAT is the time you need the church, prayer, and the scriptures more than anything.  Don't let Satan win.

-hermana Sorensen

September 9, 2013

September 9, 2013

Nothing much has happened since Wednesday.  The Palmer's in the ward fed us fried pickles last night!  Not too bad!!  I'm trying to learn new recipes to bring home.  I learned a really good hot chocolate brownie one.  I'm asking around for a good Horchata drink.  I sure found a fast food place that has really yummy horchata.  I guess funny story this week.  Hna Hammer went to get a drink out of the fridge the other night.  When she opened it, Monkey our cat jumped out.  Ha ha ha..  I think she jumped in when I went to get a drink but I didn't see her.  Luckily she was in there long, but it was still super funny to see and feel how cold she was.  She cracks me up.  Socks and her would be the greatest friends I tell ya.  Another cute story is we were visiting a recent convert, when one of the little girls named Giselle (she's 3), exclaimed, "I pick my boogers and put them in mommy's purse!"  We all laughed.  Silly girl.  THEN!  Yesterday after church we were invited over to the Horan's house (our RS pres) for their big family get together dinner.  It was Jimmy Horan's 4th Birthday too.  When we all went to sing Happy Birthday, I was shocked and couldn't stop laughing at how they sung it.  They SHOUTED and SCREAMED the song.  It was a battle who could be the loudest.  Poor little Jimmy was just covering his ears waiting for it to be over so he could just blow out the candles.  It was so fun being there because it reminded me of home.  I love getting together and having dinners and talking with all of you.  That's the biggest thing I miss is our family dinners.

I don't know really what else to write about.  I guess Saturday we had a different day.  The Elders here called us and asked for cleaning supplies.  We went over and found their apartment trashed!  I guess one of the Elders had a major melt down and exploded.  There was glass, shredded paper, and just everything everywhere.  He has anger issues, so.  The other Elder called President.  He came down with all the assistants and Zone Leaders.  We are not sure what's going to happen, if the Elders are going to be transferred out, or if they'll send another Elder to take the spot, or what.  One of our Zone Leaders is here right now on an emergency exchange till we hear otherwise.  We're nervous because we might get both wards back again, and I don't know how I feel about that.  So we are all on the edge of our seats waiting to be told what to do.  But this is just between you guys.  Also Bishop Lee's treatment is still not working and is getting weaker and weaker.  His parents have now moved in to help the family and that they can get as much as they can with him before he passes.  What do you think are some ways we can help this area and the ward.  We feel we're not doing anything, but we really are working hard.  We still don't have investigators, still trying to earn trust of members, and trying to get this area moving.  Hna Hammer and I are open to any and all suggestions.

I've had some foot problems the last little while.  Back in the MTC I had a pebble or something in my shoe but could never find it.  So I got all these tiny bumps on my heel.  Well the last few weeks they've been really sore and it hurts to walk.  So I've been limping and soaking it a lot but still don't know what's irritating it or why the bumps won't go away.  We just tease that it's cancer and my foots just gonna fall off.  No big deal.  Ha ha.. Hopefully it will go away soon because my hip is starting to hurt with limping. :)

I love you all and I know there will be more interesting things to write about next week.  I have my ups and downs with being here, but all in all I love it and I know all these things will help me later in my life.  I know God loves us and wants us to follow him.  We are given hard challenges not to punish us, but to learn.  I know I'm here in Los Banos to learn how to be a hard worker and not give up.  We all wish for the easy route, but it's more adventurous the hard way I guess.  

Thank you all for the letters, emails, and love.  Sorry I can't personally respond to each and everyone quickly, but I will get to it!  Be patient with me and my limited time to read and respond.
Te quiero mucho!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo
con amor,
Hermana Sorensen 

September 8, 2013

September 4, 2013

Sister Hammer and I at the Fresno Temple
Well this week was more uplifting then last.  We now have an official new investigator, Shen.  He's been a handful however.  At church Sunday the lesson was on Word of Wisdom.  He had to make sure he had everything correct.  It was making everyone giggle because he just kept asking the same questions over and over again to make sure he was hearing us correctly even though we knew he was. 
"Wait, so to be a Mormon you can't drink coffee?" 
"So all of you don't drink coffee?"
"Why can't you drink coffee?" 
"Lord has told us not to." 
"So to be a mormon you can't have coffee, alcohol, or tea?" 
"What do you mean by no hot drinks?" 
"Coffee and Tea." 
"So you can't drink any of that?"
"Let me get this straight, to be a Mormon, [all of you], you don't do these things." 
It was exhausting.  Ha ha.. So that was Sunday.  Well last night (Tuesday), we went and taught him Plan of Salvation.  We could NOT get over Adam and Eve.  He can't not get past the fact that God had conflicting choices of 1- multiply and replenish earth, 2- don't eat the fruit. "Why did God send us here to mess up?  God is dumb for doing that.  He sent us all here to be perfect."  We had to explain to him that we could not have been here on the earth had it not been for the fall because Adam and Eve didn't know how to fulfill commandment #1.  We were there for over an hour going over this over and over and over.  Luckily the Fairbanks were there to help with scriptures and stuff, but it was also frustrating because it turned more into bashing and trying to persuade.  Hna Hammer and I were very composed the whole time trying to say a few words here and there.  I think we talked for like 3 minutes total the whole night.  Shen just loves to talk and cut you off before you explain anything.  Sigh..  We came home all wound up to do anything, so we just went outside, laid down, and watched the stars.

We went through the ward list and found a Less-active whose Birthday was that day.  We went over and visited with her.  She was baptized a long time ago but only got baptized to be baptized.  She is now in her 50's and has joined other churches, but feels it's time to really know about the Mormon church and hopefully come back.  So we will be reteaching her the lessons and helping her come back to the church!  It's sad to see how many names are on the list that no one knows or will go out and try to get to know.  My heart broke Sunday when we brought up her name to the Relief Society.  They had no clue who she was.  We told them to reach out to her and invite her to the

Broadcast later this month.  We then found out that our Pres only sends invites to those ladies that come to church or that she knows.  I was so angry that she is letting all these other ladies in the ward slip through the cracks by not inviting them to the Relief Society activities.  A simple letter in the mail to them with the info I'm sure would work miracles!  I love the RS Presidency, I do.  I was just saddened by their logic and felt I didn't want to bring in any new RS members because of the fear they would be forgotten and left out too.  We will be working more with the RS and other quorums to help them in things they need and to help them do their Home and visiting teaching.  Thank you Mom for reaching out to ALL the ladies in the ward no matter what.  I know visiting with those "forgotten" ones here in California, I see how much they do appreciate just the thought of an invite.  So even though it may get frustrating when you feel like you're not getting through to some of the ladies you try visiting and reactivating, just know they are grateful for you and the thought.  They will come around.  Thank you all of you for putting your time and talent in your callings.  The ward just does not function without it.  I have truly seen that here.  Thank you for going the extra mile and taking more on your load then you even have to.  I wish I could help this ward in the ways I could if I wasn't a missionary.  I just have to figure a way to help them AS a missionary.  But I know it all comes down to loving them.  Serving them.  And helping them when they need it or even when they won't accept it.  I do love this area and ward SO much.  I will be so heart broken when I leave.

I wish more exciting things happened this week to tell about.  I did go on exchanges to Chowchilla and worked with Hna Peters for a day.  It was fun!  That area has recently been open to missionaries, so the members and people are really happy to have them there and the energy of missionary work is out the roof!  They are baptizing like crazy!  I learned a lot there.  Their Ward mission leader has a son on a mission and so it was so cute to hear the mom talk about her son and his experiences.  She is TOTALLY a mission mom.  Wouldn't surprise me if she pulled out a giant cut out board of him.  Ha ha..  It made me wonder how all of you respond to my letters and stories.  Hopefully they are enjoyable mostly and worth reading.  Some missionaries write incredible letters full of testimony.  Hopefully mine are fun to read about the area and yet you still feel the spirit of missionary work.  Please let me know how I can improve my letters/emails.

Luckily my next Preparation day is just on Monday this time, so I guess I will hear from you soon and hopefully something fun will happen to write about in my next letter.  I guess not TO exciting like getting stranded at a vineyard again, but maybe something like that.  We'll see. ;)  Oooh I did help out at a wedding reception!  I was in charge of the chocolate fountain.  It was broken, but I fixed it and everyone thought I was the greatest. :)  I love you all!!!!!!  Thank you for getting me through my hard times.  I feel your love always.  I know things will get better.  They have.  I just need to enjoy my time here and work harder!
- hermana Sorensen

At the Church Welfare farm
How raisins are made
Dry and thirsty after a day in the vineyard
Almond Trees!