November 19, 2013

November 19, 2013

Pulled over here for lunch and roasted hot dogs
Well sorry my email is a day late.  We spent the day yesterday in Yosemite with the Jim and Amie Horan.  It was a lot of fun.  We went and saw pretty much the same things I saw back in June when I went, but it was still exciting.  They took Sis Hammer, Sis Bardin, and then Sis Odor, and I.  We drove up in a 15 seater van.  It was huge.  I got really car sick but managed through it.  Today I have a nasty headache though and hangover I guess from it all yesterday.  I bought me a spoon for my collection.  I didn't know if you wanted me to pick you up anything there or if you are like me and actually want to GO there to have a souvenir from there.  Sorry!  Please let me know if there is anything you want me to find out here.  Also, who do I have for Christmas?  Sibling, cousin, etc.?  I'd like to know ASAP so I can start looking around for something fun.  Thanks!

Things here are going good.  We've had a full house with Sister Vogel being back and having her kids come out to visit.  Sister Vogel's granddaughter Avery is 2 and when I could I had fun playing toys with her during our lunch.  The first night they were over though, Avery cried the whole night.  It was awful!  Ha ha..  Definitely wasn't expecting to be kept up by a baby on a mission.  They leave today though so the house will be back to normal.

So guess what?  I'm becoming a trio next week.  I'm being put back with Hna Hammer and covering Los Banos ward ALONG with Mercy Springs with Hna Odor.  I'm excited to be going back to Los Banos, but of coarse irritated because I just can't seem to say goodbye for good here in this town.  Trio's are a challenge, but I'm excited.

This Saturday I had to do splits.  Hna Odor had a baptism in Lemoore, so I called up our RS president and she took me out that night.  It reminded me of back at home going out with the Sisters.  Very different being the missionary and not the team-up driving them around.  Laura, Kimberly, or Mom, have you done any team-ups or splits with the Sisters?!  If not, you'll have to.  Tell the sisters what day or time you are free and go out with them!  Dad, you can too.  You can meet them there or take mom with you!  :)  I'm so grateful for the members here who are willing to help us out and be our family away from family.  Let the missionaries know you are there for them if they need.

The work here this past week has been hard.  4 days in a row, all our lessons cancelled, members weren't, n one to visit, our dinners appointments cancelled, etc.  We were jinked.  So hopefully this next week will be a lot more productive and exciting.

We do have 2 new investigators though!  They just showed up at church looking for a new religion, so we took them to the classes and gave them Book of Mormons, and are now going to be teaching them!  President Schofield our Stake President I guess referred them over.  They are his dental patients and so he told them to check out the church. :)  I don't know their names (I personally think it's Rosa and Conrado, but they say it very Spanishy and fast that I can't understand them and Hna Odor say that that is not their names and says it one way but I've never heard of a name like that.)  Ha ha..  I will keep you updated on them!

We have a baptismal date for Maria Orellano for the 30th but will have to postpone that because she didn't come to church Sunday.  She was found back in April/May time.  I visited her a couple times before they split the area here, and now that I am back, we are picking her back up.  She has 3 kids at home living with her (Tim:11, Michelle:8, and Nicole:3).  Maira's brother and sister-in-law are members it sounds like and so she sees the difference it has made in there lives and she wants that for herself.  She said she's been reading the BOM and wants to learn more.  She is a sweet lady.  We are hoping she went to church this last Sunday in San Jose with her brother and sister in law so she will still be able to get baptized at the end of the month.  Don't really have any other investigators right now.  We do, but still working with them to see if they want the Gospel or no.

Sounds like you will have a full house for Thanksgiving!  Still not really sure what I'm going to be doing.  Probably just house hopping and eating lots and lots of food.

I love you all SO much!!!!  I hope this week is good for all of you too.  I will send pictures next week of Yosemite and everything else that has happened these last few weeks.
TAKE CARE!!!!!!!!!!!
- hermana Sorensen

November 11, 2013

November 11, 2013 - Day 300

Today marks 300 days out with 205 left!

Well things here are going better.  We had Stake Conference this weekend to which President and Sister Gelwix came. She gave me a good hug, but her hug wasn't as great as your hug mom, but I guess it does for the time I'm away.  Can't wait till I get a nice hug from all of you!!!!!!

So more info on Hna Odor.  She is from Aruba!!! (yes I sing the Beach Boy song too whenever I say it).  She has been out 13 months.  She speaks 4 languages; Papiamento, Dutch, Spanish, and English thankfully.  It'll be nice having her help me with my Spanish.  We had dinner with a new family in the ward last night and they said they are going to help me with it too.  Ha ha..  Hna Odor says I know a lot but need to just be confident in what I say and say it.  So nerve wracking.

I hope your new calling mom is one you love and will grow in.  I know you did a wonderful job as Relief Society president.  You're an amazing woman with an incredible gift of love.  There are a lot of things I've seen in my life here that I know I couldn't do without your example.  You are a great role model.  All of you are!  I think that's what kills me the most about being away, because these families here don't have that love and respect for each other and it hurts.  I just want all of us to be together and show those around us what a family truly can be like.  I love you all and am SO blessed to have you in my life.  Yay for eternity!!!!!!!!!!

 It's still pretty warm here.  Day time is in the 80's and the evenings are cool in the 40-50's.  Definitely cold enough to wear my coat.  The leaves don't change here so I miss that.  It doesn't feel like Novemeber.  It still looks like July.

Well, we're trying to get things up and going which is rough.  The Elders left no record on who they have been teaching for the past few months.  So we are literally starting off where I left off!  Gurrr... It's sad but nice when the members tell us "Ohh yay we have you back!  It was awful having those 3 boys here."  One member asked what our number was and we said it's the one the Elders had, and he said, "ohh I deleted that long time ago".  The Lagunas family (Anthony Lagunas that we baptized in July) told us they stopped going to church because they didn't like the Elders.  We have been getting a LOT of that these last couple days.  So I'm glad we are finally here to help mend hearts and get things back up and going and for them to love missionaries again.  

Our Stake conference was on Hastening the work.  I hope the members here help us and start doing missionary work themselves.  We missionaries really can't do it with out them.  We are starting to help families with a family mission plan.  How are all of your missionary efforts?  Hopefully you don't get too stressed with it.  It can simply be putting up a quote or video from the church on Facebook, in a text, email, etc.  Mentioning what you did during the weekend like going to church.  A sister in conference that spoke counted all the church activities that just her ward alone had where they could have invited someone.  56!  Wow.  Hopefully now with the Christmas season coming up, it will be easier for all of us to mention our beliefs and church in conversation.

Life is hard, but it's worth it.  I've realized a lot this week that God knows more than we do.  There have been a lot of sweet people this week that have helped me overcome my struggles and help comfort me.  I don't know what my future holds and why I've been asked to do and learn certain things, but someday I will know.  I just need to trust in the Lord more.  And as Sister Gelwix told me yesterday, when I'm low, remember "I think I can...I think I can...I think I can.." and before you know it you've made it.  

I love you all and hope things go well for you this week.  Hopefully you have a fun holiday today!  What are your plans for Thanksgiving?!  I will talk to Sister Fairbanks and ask her.  I can give her your email and/or number so she can tell you instead of being the middle man.  Good luck with it!  I hope it can help!

Hna Sorensen

November 4, 2013

Hermana Hammer and I
We got transfer calls Saturday at 10:05pm.  I was informed I am staying in Los Banos, but will be moved over to the Mercy Springs ward.  Hna Hammer will be staying in the Los Banos ward with a new companion.  My new companion is Hna Odor (oh-door...not the smell).  She is from the Aruba if I'm not mistaken.  She doesn't have much longer in the mission so these might be her last few transfers.  She's a native obviously so I guess that will be good to finally have someone to help me with my Spanish.  It's been a really hard weekend though. I was looking forward to helping the Los Banos ward more and working with Bishop Fairbanks, but  Bishop Nuno is and will be great too.

We didn't have much appointments this week.  Our investigator pool is slowly diminishing.  Shen doesn't really want anything to do with us any more so that's hard.  Susan says no one loves her in the ward and she wants to go to another church where she is accepted.  We went over and visited with her.  It was a very touching visit.  She broke down and really opened up to us about her past and how she was as a mother.  I personally feel that she has turned to extreme beliefs (reincarnation, God is neither Male nor Female, etc.) because she has had a lot of hurt in her past with being abused and other things.  She wants beliefs that have no feelings or emotions attached in case it "back fires" or when she's placed in another trial, she won't have any pain and sorrow from that.  She just wants to feel loved and give love.  Her daughter doesn't talk to her which kills Susan because it tells her she was a horrible mother.  We met with Susan 2 times this week and just tried to help her know she is special.  She's very open to learning and has started to change her ways, but then Satan places something in her life to trick her.  She told us she was starting to accept that God has a body and is male until she drove past a church here that took the quote from Pres Uchtdorf (I mentioned it a few weeks ago) that put up "doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith."  So she of coarse took it as she shouldn't be doubting her beliefs because she is right.  Sigh.  We told her Pres Uchtdorf from OUR church said that and we shared a little bit about his talk and how he referred to that.  Hopefully I'll be able to always keep in touch with her and be her friend.

with the Horan family carving pumpkins for FHE
Halloween here was good.  We had to be in our homes at 6:30.  Had Zone meeting earlier that day, got back in town, visited with Michelle, had dinner w/ Garcias, and then went home and wrote letters.  Not very fun and memorable like your guys, but it was still nice to get things done that evening.  We even had a few trick or treaters.  Luckily we had a bunch of random candy through-out the house.  Sounds like you had much more then we had though.  You all look so cute and fun dressed up!  Did you all get a lot candy?!  

My District in Los Banos
My Zone in Los Banos
- hermana Sorensen

October 28, 2013

James, Me, Jaci, Bishop Fairbanks
So lots of happenings have taken place this past week and will be taking place.  Transfer calls are this Saturday.  Never been so nervous for call outs then I am for this one.  But I think I've mentioned that before.  So keep your fingers crossed and pray hard that what ever happens is what is suppose to happen.  THEN, yesterday the stake presidency came and released Bishop Brett Lee and called.....Brother Michael Fairbanks!!!!!!!!!  No more will he be our Ward Mission Leader, but our Bishop.  It was the most powerful and bitter sweet sacrament I think I have ever attended.  Bishop Lee was not able to make it, but his wife stood in for his place and bore the most touching testimony.  There was not a single dry eye in the Chapel and even foyer. (a lot of the other ward stood out there listening in).  She shared how hard this cancer has been for Bishop and for the family.  She has struggled so much with her faith and love for this Gospel in seeing the Lord not answer her prayers.  She was mentioning how one night she got home from the hospital and was just so sick of hearing bad new after another.  She was texting her brother who happened to have gone through his fair share of challenges and asked him how he remains faithful and strong.  He asked her if she had fair weather faith; meaning, do we only believe if we get our way and the weather is fair?  Or do we believe no matter how hard the storms may be and whether things are lost and damaged.  She turned her prayers of healing into prayers of comfort in accepting whatever happens.  She said Bishop doesn't have much longer and knowing that doesn't take away the pain, but how much she has grown in understanding the Atonement has taken away some pain.  I am so grateful I had the chance of being in the area at this time and serving under Bishop Lee.  I've met him a few times, but have learned so much about love from him.  All he wanted to do for this ward is to help mend broken hearts and cheer up the weary.  He has shown us all how to do just that by letting us mend his broken heart and help cheer him and his family up.  It's was a beautiful meeting.  He will be missed.  I'm excited though for Bishop Fairbanks now.  He is very missionary focused with now having worked with us the past 8 months or so.  He is a new face to the ward and has a lot of love he wants to bring to help pick this ward back up.  Everyone was confused on why President Schofield kept Bishop Lee in for so long and not just call a new Bishop, but I now can't help but think not only was it not time for Bishop Lee to be released, but it wasn't time for Bro Fairbanks to be called.  We needed his strong focus and help in the missionary forces to get that going so that we can then be able to help him and the ward get going.  I'm excited to see this ward have a steady Bishop back in that is able to help its needs.

This last Saturday we had our ward Fall Harvest Night. (we all had to call it that since we are still dealing with the issue of "Halloween" not being appropriate as LDS individuals).  It was a lot of fun and we had a good turn out!  Michelle was our only investigator that showed, but a lot of the ward members brought friends to it so that is super great!  Michelle's grandson came with her (Eli, 3yrs) and he attached onto me the whole night.  He made my night even more by hugging me and saying he loved me.  Ha ha..  He didn't want to go home and was throwing a fit with Michelle, so I told him he had to go so he could show his mom all his candy.  He stopped crying and was like "YAY!" and Michelle just looked at me and was like "How do you do that?!" I was like "It's called... I have 7 nieces and nephews!"  Ha ha.. My proud "aunt tricking" moment.  

Visited with Donna and Manuel a few times (the ones that feed us a candle lit dinner).  We had dinner with them the other night and Manuel kept staring at us and was just so baffled at how put together we are for a 19 and 22 yr old.  He has 2 daughters and knows how they were at those ages and just doesn't get it. :)  He said he doesn't want to be baptized, but just that he wants to come to church so he can see if all Mormons are like that.  We laughed.  They don't get why we have all these rules as missionaries and just gasp and stare as we tell them.  They just adore us so much! Ha ha..  Good thing we adore them.  They don't want us to be transferred and said they will call our leader to petition.  They are gonna give us a big going away party if one of us does leave.  Ha ha..  We are nervous for that party!  They still don't understand we can't listen to music, watch TV, date (she keeps trying to hook us up with her sons), and drink alcohol/coffee. :)

The rest of this past week we did a lot of service.  Helped Sister Gois organize her room and help nurse her back to health.  She's the one that had her neck fused and has been on feeding tubes the last few months and will remain on it for a couple more.  She is in bad shape so we are so glad we can help her out in little things she's not able to do.  Visited Sis Stenberg and helped her with a puzzle.  We're calling that as service too. ;)   Hope you all have a fun Halloween!  We are now headed off to Merced for a Zone party where we will be carving pumpkins.  What is everyone being this year?!

I love you all!!!!!!!! Take care!!!!!!!!!
- hermana Sorensen
Montserrat and I

October 21, 2013

I'm glad to hear all is well at home!  A gentleman in the ward showed me a picture of the Ogden temple last night!  I can't wait to see it when it's done!  They redid the Fresno endowment room.  It was just plain walled, but now they painted it with the Yosemite mountains!  I can't wait till this next temple trip to see it!  I hear it's super neat.

Well this last week was very busy with meetings.  Had District meeting Tuesday, Zone Conference Wednesday, Exchanges Thursday, weekly planning Friday, Church on Sunday, etc.  So we weren't able to do a whole lot, but we did stay busy.  Michelle Aunchman asked is she could move her baptism date back.  She said there is no way she is turning her back on this church, but she knows she needs to get things straightened out before she gets baptized.  She is incredible.  We weren't suppose to meet with her till Sunday, but she called and texted us asking if we could meet with her.  We met her at the church and that's where she told us she wasn't quite ready to be baptized.  We talked some more and she told us of what happened since we last visited.  We had talked about Law of Chastity and told her that living with her ex-husband is breaking the law.  She went home and was distraught because she saw no fault in it.  She prayed though asking God if the Law of Chastity applied to her.  That day she prayed ended up being the worst day she's had since we've been teaching her.  She was full of anger and sadness towards everyone and wanted nothing to do with anything.  As she sat down and contemplated her feelings, she knew that this was God's answer.  She has felt so much peace and happiness since she's been visiting with us, and this day of her telling herself that one of God's commandments isn't applicable to her, she felt His presence leave.  She knows she needs to keep this commandment now to have those feelings of peace and happiness always.  She attended the Addiction Recovery class this week too and is now getting more help that way.  We are just so happy for her and her sweet testimony she is sharing with us.  I've realized that God really is aware of each and everyone of us.  He does hear and answer our prayers.  Listening to her I can't help but question "why does she get her answers just like that?" "why can't I hear or understand my answers that easily?" "am I doing something wrong?"  But I know this isn't what I should be thinking, so I've been trying to think more on how I receive my answers.  As a missionary you would think I'd know or even they'd know by now.  I guess it's a life long matter though.  I hope I am listening to the promptings he gives me and that I am acting on them in time.  That was a lot of our training this Wednesday at Zone Conference, was listening to the Holy Ghost.  

Yesterday in church Hna Hammer and I performed a musical number!  I played the piano while she sang.  It was like I was back in piano lessons at a piano recital!  I was SO scared!  The song was called "How Shall I Live".  I am so glad to have it done and over with!  Ha ha..  But I didn't mess up as much as I was expecting so that's good! :)  I sure miss playing the piano though.  I am thankful for the sheet music you sent!  It will keep me entertained and up on my piano skills.

This transfer is getting long, but I'm trying to enjoy it while I can.  Not sure if my time is up here in Los Banos or if I'll be here a little longer.  I really REALLY hope Pres Gelwix knows what to do and what the Lord wants for this area.  I really hope I can stay, but we shall see next Saturday when we get the calls.

Thank you all for everything you do for me.  We seriously have the best family ever.  It's sad to see families here not work together or have love for one another.  You all are my bestest friends and will be forever and ever!  I can't even imagine not talking to any of you and not having you in my life.  Thank you all for being such great examples to me and loving me and my flaws.

- hermana Sorensen