December 28, 2013

December 24, 2013 Christmas Eve!

Hello everyone!  So I will be talking with you all tomorrow so I won't write too much. :) President is letting us do Skype this year WITH the video feature!!!!
Sorry I was not able to email yesterday.  I was up once again in Yosemite!  It was a lot colder this round obviously with some snow on the ground.  Still not a lot but it was nippy.  It's nice going up in that I'm learning more of what areas are worth seeing and not, so when we come out I will know which ones to show all of you to get the best sight seeing.  Yesterday we saw a lot of what I saw the very first time I went up. (more of the falls).  There wasn't many since the rain fall has been little.  So when we come we will have to come once the snow has melted in the summer time.  We all got a little car sick this round so we did a lot of stops here and there to take a breather and walk around.  My legs are so sore right now after the hiking we did.  Ha ha..  But it was pretty.

This past week was very boring because.....I was sick.  I came down with a head cold and was out for a couple days.  So we did lots of sleeping and staying inside so we could get feeling better for Christmas.  The Horan's have been so sweet to us in letting us come over there to relax and so Amie can nurse us back to health.  I'm feeling better now.  The good fresh and crisp air yesterday helped the sinuses.  Just got a little dry cough and sore calves now.  :)  

So last Monday, I had I think the most sweetest and most powerful blessings so far on my mission and even in my life.  I was just having a rough time with everything and finding my purpose here at this time.  We had FHE at the Horan's so afterwards I ask Jim if he could give me a blessing.  I felt bad for just throwing it on him and not giving him much of a heads up.  But the blessing he gave me left us all in tears and has changed us all.  It was very sacred and Jim still talks about it.  He even gave his talk about it this last Sunday (not mentioning names and stuff but about the Atonement and Christ and we all knew what he was talking about.)  In my blessing though I was told over and over again that the Lord loves me and is very aware of my heart right now.  I have gifts and talents to share with these people.  My biggest gift is speaking to the souls of God's children.  I have touched many hearts without knowing it and will continue to do so.  I was comforted to know that the Lord is proud of me for being here at this time.  I was then told to which I will never look at the Atonement the same; I was told that Christ suffered and died for me and would gladly and honorably do it again just for me.  I am an elect woman and have a great calling in this world.  He has spared my life to be here.  I was told that the Lord personally kneels down with me each time I kneel in prayer.  He is with me.  Many more beautiful and sacred things were shared.  I wish so badly we wrote it down or recorded it.  I did have Jim and Amie write their feelings afterwards and I wrote mine down as well.  What a powerful blessing and a comfort to know how much I am loved by him and all of you.  I don't deserve this love but am so grateful for it all and having you all here in my life to bless me and help me along my way.  I wish I could explain more of last Monday and even wish more of that you were here to experience that sweet spirit.  I know this prayer is for all though.  Christ came into this world for ALL of us and suffered everything and died just for us.  He knows us each by name and saw us in his eyes as we went through all of that.  He loves us SO deeply.  More than we can even understand. Literally!  He was born to be our Savior.  He knew what he had to do and what his purpose in life was.  To save us all!  How great it is to have this knowledge that he is our King, our deliverer, our example, our light, our friend, our advocate, our Lord.  I know he would go through all of the pains and torment he suffered the first time again for any one of us.  The worth of souls (or of just one soul) is great in the sight of God.  I was privileged to experience and witness a particle of his love for me this last week in the blessing.  The Priesthood is real and it amazes me how little I tell people about myself or how little they even know about me and yet they always say something that I know is from God because there is no way they would know that other wise.  Dad, Mark, Jeff, and Solomon, please continue to honor and sustain your high calling of holding this power.  Always be ready and in tune to give blessings at any time, especially when a cute little Sister Missionary or Elder comes to your house and asks you to give her/him a blessing.  They trust you enough and chose you to be God's mouth piece.  I want ALL of you to receive a blessing before the new year.  Dad, have Mark or Jeff give you one.  Solomon, if you are with your father this holiday season, have him give you one.  If not, go to your Bishop or ward friend you love and have them give you one.  I know the Lord loves each and everyone of us.  Listen to your purpose here and His deep love he has for just you!  That's my invitation to all of you.

Well like I said not much happened this week other than getting over a cold.  I hope you all are feeling better and getting over your individual colds as well.  Thank you for the Christmas packages and presents.  I hope you enjoy yours as well.  Haven't been home in a year so hopefully you don't already own it.  If so, I have the recite still but I'm sure you can find someone else to give it to or one of the siblings will take it!

I love you all and can't wait to hear from you tomorrow!!!!!!!  It sounds like the Horan's have Skype and will let us use it.  The other sisters are doing their calls around 4:00-5:00 and so they said we can do ours around 11:00-12:00.  

LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- hermana Sorensen

December 20, 2013

December 16, 2013

Thank you all for your love and prayers for me.  I have definitely needed them this week.  Lots of tears and days where I just can't get going but yet do.  I know I'm suppose to be here and pray things will get better and that I can finish well.
This week we had our Christmas Conference.  President talked a lot about the historical nativity.  He explained a lot of the customs and traditions back when Christ was born and all the meanings.  It was very interesting because he's been there plenty of times and so he told us a lot of stories and experiences of when he was there in Bethlehem and Jerusalem.  I wish I could explain everything in detail to you but it's hard over email and I'm sure a lot of it you already have heard of but it was all new and insightful to me.  He talked about how Mary and Joseph were probably in their teens (13-17) when this was going on, the actual date of when Christ was born, more facts about the star, the manager, etc.  His birth was incredible and meek.  I'm so grateful for Jesus Christ and this time we have to remember him and his ministry here on Earth.  I love reading about the need we have for him and the excitement we had waiting for his arrival.  We were there on that glorious day over 2000 years ago at his birth rejoicing and praising Him!  Now we are here, hopefully having that same excitement about Him in the knowledge we have that He lives and is coming again.  Our whole existence and purpose here in this life is because of Him and for us to become like Him so we too can live with our Heavenly Father.  He is our guide and knows the terrains better than we can imagine.  Are we listening to his directions and following him? I hope so.

Well this last week has been a huge turning point for the Alvarado-Calixtro family!!!!  The WHOLE family came to church yesterday!!!!!!  We sent someone to just pick up the girls but she came back to the church and said they weren't there.  A couple minutes later, they all walk in to the chapel.  Carlos the dad looked extremely tired (he goes to work at 1 in the morning over in San Jose and sleeps in his car while he is there ((so he doesn't get much sleep)) and stays there till the weekends and comes back home and tries to catch up on his sleep before he heads back).  The girls on Friday were able to go with the ward over to the Oakland temple in San Francisco to see the lights.  They just LOVED it.  We visited them Saturday night and Hannah showed us all her pictures she took and told us all about it.  She was just beaming!  Carlos and Betty said "the girls really love your church!" and that they are happy as parents to see the girls excitement and love for the church.  I think this is what helped the parents in coming to church in that they are curious why the girls love it so much!  What was really cute, when Hannah came to church the 1st time the other week, I went with her to primary.  We learned the Nativity song.  Well the primary kids went up and sang it in sacrament yesterday.  Hannah walked over to me and whispered "do I have to go up there?".  I told her "They are singing the song that we learned in primary last time you were here.  So if you want to go up there and sing, you can, but you don't have to."  I thought she would just go sit down, but nope, she walked up there and sang with the kids!!!!  I couldn't stop smiling.  I looked over at Betty and Carlos and they were confussed but impressed that she went up and actually knew the song for only coming once!  Ha ha.. The parents let Lupita, Hannah, and little Jesus stay for the rest of the meetings.  So I went with Jesus to Sunbeams while Hna Odor went with Lupita to her Sunday school class and Hannah was brave enough to go to her own class by herself and not with Hna Odor and Lupita.  It was so exciting having them all there.  Hannah went with us last night to our Stake Christmas concert and the girls are going with us Tuesday to Fresno for the leaving missionaries fireside.  I'm so happy they are getting involved in all these youth activities and enjoying them.  Now we just need to get the parents involved more.  This was pretty much the highlight of the week.  It would have been even better if President gave us the approval of going with the ward to the Oakland temple. Ha ha..  We definitely have to go next year or at least in the future!  I hear it is just beautiful!

This week begins the new transfer but like I said Hna Odor and I will be staying together here in Los Banos still.  I got your package at the Christmas Conference.  Thank you!  Is there anything in it that I need to open before Christmas or are they all for Christmas day?  Just want to make sure.  I'm struggling finding you all a Christmas gift so you might get them after.  They will be a New Years gift.  Ha ha..  Hopefully you got my Christmas ornament by now though.  If not, keep an eye out for it in the mail.  Hopefully it looks good. :/

Tell Grandma I love her and that I bought peanuts like she told me!  I hope she can find the strength to pull through a little longer.  Please keep me posted though and again know you are allowed to call the mission office if you need to get a hold of me.  I can't wait to hear you all next week though.  Honestly I'm nervous but can't wait to hear your sweet voices.  Again, I only get 40 minutes so be sure to think of questions or have stories ready so we can save as much time as we can!!!!!  Anything you want me to start thinking of or stories to share?  What time is best to call?  Actually I think you call me like last time, but when is best for everyone?  Let me know so I can plan for it.  I am not sure what my day will be like so as of right now any time is good.  Probably more in the afternoon in case we have a meeting in the morning and so you can all open your presents.

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

December 9, 2013

Greetings to everyone!  My heart is so full of emotions.  I miss not being there with all of you this time of year with the holidays, illnesses, adventures, and everything else that life brings.  I'm very homesick and want you all to know I love you more than anything in the world.

Bishop Lee's funeral was so beautiful.  Before he passed he told his wife how he wanted it to be done, so it was very organized and very uplifting.  He didn't want her to cry or be sappy with her eulogy.  She told a lot of jokes and silly stories of him.  Always a joker.  His favorite city.....Montreal Canada!!!!! I'm sure you would say the same thing too dad since you served there too!  I'm sad to see him gone, but it's sweet to see how strong his kids and wife are which makes us be strong.  The church was packed and it was a great way to teach about the Gospel to those here in town.  Hopefully we will have soften hearts now to accept the messages.

The Elder Porter conference was good.  He talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ more in depth.  I really liked the talks before him though about being humble and full of love.  We as missionaries literally can't talk to EVERYONE we see, but our countenance speaks far more than words.  Always be an example and stay strong to your values.  Elder and Sister Porter cover the middle east.  They obviously can't do any preaching over there, but their actions and lifestyle is how they spread the Gospel.

At the conference, one of the Elders I served with in Modesto came up to me and told me there is a lady in Fresno that is friends with mom that keeps asking about me and is wanting to do team-ups with me some time.  Mom, do you know of someone here that is trying to hunt me down?!  Ha ha.. He said she speaks spanish also.  Hummm... And I'm the only Sister Sorensen here so I know they don't have me confused with some other sister here. He can't remember the name but kept saying it's your friend mom.  So you will have to let me know if you know who it is!

The zoo last week was fun.  It was a lot bigger than I expected (bigger than Nebraska but smaller than Hogle Zoo).  Saw flamingos, zebras, elephants, sea lions, snakes, lots of birds, lemurs, monkeys, kangaroos, warthogs, giraffes, etc.  We will have to plan to go to Hogle Zoo when I get back!

 The ward party was fun too Saturday.  Very disorganized and everywhere, but it was a good turn out.  The Tongan's did a lot of dances which made me miss Amanda teaching them to me.  Santa came so I got a picture with him!

I love you all and hope you have a good week this week.  Always in my thoughts and prayers.  I wrote an email to Grandma so hopefully she gets it.  Thank you for the sweet message.  I love her so much and hope she gets feeling better and can pull through.

- hermana Sorensen

December 2, 2013

I'm so happy you were able to meet Vern Hixson Dad.  The ward members and us call him our giant skinny teddy bear.  He and his wife are just so loving and fun.  His humor reminds me of yours dad and I think that's why I've gotten along with them so much.  As I'm sure they told you, we spent Thanksgiving with them and enjoyed the afternoon there.  The food was good but definitely not like your yummy food mom.  But it was exciting to see similar foods.  In fact the other night we were helping the Betham family set up their Christmas stuff and she fed us Raspberry pretzel jello (the one that you make mom!!!)  I was so happy to eat it and ate a bunch of it actually as we watched Mr. Kruger's Christmas.  So that was fun.  Then Thanksgiving evening we went to the Garcia's and had our Mexican version of Thanksgiving.  That one wasn't my favorite.  I had no clue what was going on with everyone speaking Spanish and what food I was eating.  It was very fun though because they all dressed up nicely and put a lot of work into their food.  I was still really stuffed from the Hixson's though so I didn't eat much.  Then we went home and watched Forever Strong with Sister Vogel.  So it was a fun Thanksgiving but glad I only have to spend 1 away from home.

Last Tuesday Bishop Lee passed away. :(  His funeral will be held this Saturday.  It's going to be super packed.  The whole community will be there and everything.  I am very relieved though to be here for it.  I think it would be very hard to hear about it later and not be able to attend.  So I'm grateful I am still here and get to go.

Today we went to the Zoo.  That was fun.  I will tell you all about it next week.  We are typing at the community center which is closing in 10 minutes, so I'm trying to type fast and briefly on this past week.

This Saturday we have Elder Porter from the Seventy come and visit us.  So that should be fun!  Saturday is also our Ward Christmas luau so it will be a very filled day.

This past week was good.  Still lots of visiting with members and trying to find new investigators.  The work is going slow, but we are trying to keep busy and teach especially with the holidays coming up.  Hopefully we will have lots of success.

I'm glad to hear you are all doing good and that you did end up having warm turkey and not cold.  Ha ha.. that would be a crazy morning!  You will have to send me pictures.  I will send you mine next week again when I have more time.

I love you all and can't wait to talk to you in 23 more days!!!!!!! :D  Sorry it's short.  I'm still alive though and think of you all the time.  I'm glad you had a good Thanksgiving and you are all safe and well.  Enjoy the cold! :P

- Hermana Sorensen

November 26, 2013

Well for Thanksgiving here, we are house hoping a lot because a lot of people want us over.  The Hixson's are having us over and said they are headed to Utah either Thursday evening or Friday morning.  They said I could send some packages with them and that you could meet up.  I said that would be wonderful, so hopefully that is okay with all of you.   I hope all of you have a good day and know that I will be thinking of you and looking forward to next Thanksgiving with you!!!!  Tell everyone hi!

Helping the Forman's decorate
As of this last week things were okay.  Still trying to find new investigators and find the less actives here.  We are helping a lot of the members with their Christmas decor which is fun!

Lupita and Hannah Alvarado-Calixtro came to church this Sunday!!!! I went to Primary with Hannah and Hna Odor went to YW's with Lupita.  Hannah loved it!  YW's was a little different along with sunday school so I think Lupita was a little taken back and didn't enjoy it as much as she could have other Sundays. :/  But we were very happy they came!  

Sorry it's a short one today and nothing fun to read.  We've been knocking lots of doors and trying to find people to teach.  But I'm excited for Thanksgiving this week and the memories I will make here. I will tell you all about it next week and I can't wait to see pictures and hear how yours went.  Be safe and eat lots!  Next Monday we are going Ice Skating, but I should still be able to do my emailing, if not you will get it Tuesday!  LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!  Take care!!!!!

- Hermana Sorensen