Monday, December 29, 2014

Bitter-Sweet Christmas

Well, Christmas came and went out here in the mission and it was WONDERFUL. We had so much fun and so many Christmas dinners and a ward Christmas party/talent show and all was just very jolly here in Ecuador. On top of that I got to skype my family which GREAT. But--given all the fun we had in this past week just made it harder to leave....yes, I received my first real transfer. Saying goodbyes on Sunday night was tough but it was surprisingly easy and even though I was saying goodbye I felt super happy to have had the chance to know all of them and serve them. Can honestly say I left my first area of the mission proud of what I had done and the friends I made, and a few dang awesome new converts.

With J and the fam last night.

None the less....I was super excited when I received the changes. I am excited to know a new part of Ecuador, get to know a new ward and companion, and start fresh and fix/do better so many things that I feel I could have done better. It all works out perfectly because 3 days into this change falls New Years I am way ready to set some awesome goals and more importantly DO THEM!

I am just moving about 1 hour from my old area, deeper & more south here in Quito. I am in the zone Turubamba Sur, in the ward Solando. If you search in Google maps ´´La Iglesia de Jesucristo SUD, Capilla Solanda´´ (first you have to search Quito and then kinda zoom in on the bottom half of it) you will find the church, and we live about 1  min walk from there, just around the corner! I love it here! It is way more city like than my last area, which means SOO many more people. Its the city but there are parks everywhere...and FAMILIES everywhere. I am dang excited. Every missionary I have talked to who has been here or near here says I am in the ´´best ward in Quito´´, and based of the few people I have met and the vibe I get from my comp I really do believe it! My companion is Elder F from Honduras. He has 17 months in the mission and is a SWEET dude! I am looking forward to working with him a ton...and we have a sweet program already here with people to teach and a family to help marry and baptize within the month. He is a great missionary. Quick short story--when he had 1 year in the mission his father passed the fact that he is still out here serving the Lord and going hard...RESPECT.

My new sector! A cool park/fountain around the corner from the house.

We had a wonderful Christmas week. Monday we had a dinner with the Stake Presidency and their families...with all the missionaries from the two zones that are in the Stake...24 missionaries. It was super fun and bomb food!! The rest of the week we had a Christmas dinner almost every day with one family or another...and on Thursday I talked with the fam!!! It was awesome. It felt a little surreal talking to all the fam back at home...because for many years and many skype calls I had been sitting on the couch talking with the sibs out in the mission field...but it felt great to finally be on this end of things....although the post skype-with-the-sibs 5 hour long nap doesnt really fly out here on the that was missed!! Haha.


Quick story-- yesterday in my final Sunday of church I had a really awesome experience. When we arrived a little early like always there was a women (30s) and her 2 boys (15 and 11) sitting in the chapel. We didnt know them so I greeted them and started chatting. They are from Colombia and are members, just visiting for the week. We only chatted for about 10 minutes before church started, but after the 3rd hour of church the mom hurried over to me and asked me if I could give her and her boys a blessing--as they dont have a husband/father. After Elder P and I each gave one of them a blessing, we got ready to give the mom a blessing and she asked if I would do it, although we were planning that Elder Perez would do it. After the blessing she was teary eyed and just kept saying ¨que hermosa, wow, poderoso.´´ (how beautiful, wow, powerful), and she was just SO SO grateful. For the first time in the mission I truly felt NEEDED, like someone out here, who doesnt even live in the ward I was serving in, really needed me. And all of that day I couldnt stop thinking about them and got really strong feelings that everything they were going through was all going to be alright. After 4.5 months in a ward with some AMAZING members...I think the most impactful experience I had there came on my last day with someone who lives a few countries away. The church & blessings are universal...I can honestly say I know that with all my heart.

Well Jeff...this one was for you (hahaha still not as long as yours!!) Love you all, have a great new year and set some killer goals! I know I have many many things to improve!

Elder Sorensen 

Christmas pic from the Zone a few weeks ago.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Star Over Bethlehem

Okay this time I mean it.... MERRY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!! 

I don’t have too much time today because I have been writing like crazy trying to send some ´´Christmas Cards´´ out to many of you....but just want to wish you all A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and a happy holiday! I hope everyone has a great winter break and enjoys some quality time with the fam. 

We had a great week. Saturday had a super beautiful baptism for one of our investigators whose whole family are members and after many months and years of investigating the church decided he wanted to be baptized. His whole family was so happy and the service was beautiful...all of his grandkids sung I am a Child of God and it was so cute. 

J and J2 came out with us twice again this week...we have to tell them no sometimes now because they always want to come out with us and never want to do their homework...haha! It is gonna be dang hard to leave those guys.

We are in week 6 of the change...which means this Sunday we will receive changes....and because I have 3 changes now here in this sector it is very very likely that I will be leaving to a new area on Monday. It is going to be super hard to leave but I am gonna end (probably) with a BANG--we have a ton of Christmas plans for this week... 

Only 3 more days until I get to Skype the fam!!! I can not wait! Don’t know where time has gone....but its going so ya’ll better hold on tight!!

Love you all, have a wonderful Christmas and spend a minute or two to think about all the gifts God gives us every day....including the most important one-Jesus Christ.

Elder Sorensen

Monday, December 15, 2014

Merry Almost Christmas!!

Dear all, hate to be short again, but this time I have a real excuse....

Today we LEFT THE MISSION BOUNDARIES (with permission from President obvi) because Elder B, my companion, had to go to some big building to obtain some paper similar to Social Security Cards in the states. We felt pretty cool being outside the mission boundries...hahaha...But it was a long day and lots of buses, so we only ended up with about 1 hour to email.

It was a great week that flew by crazy fast. On Wednesday we had our Christmas Dinner with President. It was super delish, fun, and overall great. Out districts christmas message/muscial number went super well!! I am gonna try to send a video of it over to Katie Sorinsin, and next week hopefully we will figure out a way for you all to watch if you want! Disclaimer...its in spanish. 

Me with the Christmas tree with all the missionaries on it, in President's house.

Friday we worked with N, a member in our ward who got back from his mission about a month ago. It was awesome to work with him, he is an awesome dude and speaks DANG GOOD English. He is heading to the States in March to start studying (hopefully at BYU). 

On Saturday J, our homie who we baptized last week, and his best buddy J2, who was less active until we started teaching J, both worked with us all day and did visits with us. They loved it, and we had a ton of fun-they both want to come out with us every Saturday and are both talking all about the mission!!! They are both awesome dudes and it is awesome to see them both truly changed and more happy thanks to the many blessing of the restored gospel.

All is well down here....just remember, El es la Dadiva!!

Elder Sorensen

My little Christmas setup on my desk, thanks momma y pops!

Monday, December 8, 2014

White Christmas

Dear all,

This week was excellllenteeeee! On Saturday we had an awesome baptismal service for J, the 16 year old homie we have been teaching. He was so happy to be baptized and has so many friends in the church I already know he is gonna do amazing. I can truly see him being a great missionary in 2 years...pray for that! At the baptism a Hermana in our district and I sung ´´Lord I will Follow Thee´´ right before the actually baptism, and I was a little sick and got a little nervous right before, but it ended up sounding amazing and I’m pretty sure it wasnt me singing...haha! But really, it was an awesome service and 35 people attended! Which is a ton for a baptism down here. 

This Wednesday we have Christmas Dinner with President, and our district is in charge of the message so we have been working hard on that...The Hermana who I sung with and I are singing like 6 Christmas songs (just 1 or 2 verses each), and I am playing guitar for 4 of them, and in between each one a different missionary from our district is sharing a scripture and short message about Christmas and Jesus Christ. It should be epic! We are really excited!!

Today we went into downtown Quito and stopped by the offices to see some other missionaries from other Zones, and had lunch with one of the members from our ward who is a lawyer in Quito, it was delish and we had some bomb Tres Leche Cake!! 

Oh yeah!!! And my Christmas package came from mom and dad. I dont know how Kent fit all that stuff in one small box, but it was epic!!! So much awesome stuff...and delish food from the states! Stoked!!

Well...really dont have much more, so here are some questions from gramsy and papa Kent!!

What is the name of the fruit that looks like a caterpillar and what does it taste like? (I’ve never seen anything like that before!) 
Its called GUAVA.....but is very different from the guava we have in the states!! It tastes like an orange and a mango combined! Really good!

What has the weather (and temperature) been like the last couple of weeks?  Is it still raining every afternoon? (We’re finally getting some rain here.) 
Rains maybe once a week, and only for a few hours! I think the rainy season comes just before winter here...because now it is colder and super foggy...but not really too much rain!

How is Elder Baque's cooking (and are you doing some cooking for him)?
Great. I am now learning how to cook Ecuadorian stuff....Chile, check, Ecuador, check....only a few more countries to learn haha!

Is all your companion study in Spanish? 
Yes....everything all day is in spanish now unless we're with other missionaries from the zone who speak english. My comp only knows a few words in I really am talking 24/7 in spanish. Tough but way helpful!

What was your most impactful lesson this week (topic/with whom) and why?
We have been sharing the He is the Gift video with a ton of members...and every time it is super powerful. It helps us all remember to focus on CHRIST this CHRISTmas. Look it up!!!! or

What are some Ecuadorian Christmas traditions you're learning about?
Not sure...a lot of it is super simal...but I’ll let you know as it happens!

LOVE YOU ALL! MERRY ALMOST CHRISTMAS! Enjoy this quote, thanks momma!!

Elder Sorensen

"The real Christmas comes to him who has taken Christ into his life as a moving, dynamic, vitalizing force. The real spirit of Christmas lies in the life and mission of the Master. If you desire to find the true spirit of Christmas and partake of the sweetness of it, let me make this suggestion to you. During the hurry of the festive occasion of this Christmas season, find time to turn your heart to God. Perhaps in the quiet hours, and in a quiet place, and on your knees—alone or with loved ones—give thanks for the good things that have come to you, and ask that His Spirit might dwell in you as you earnestly strive to serve Him and keep His commandments" (Howard W. Hunter, "The Real Christmas," Ensign, Dec 2005, 22–25)

My last companion, Elder G, sent me this pic of our investigator F's baptism a few weeks ago

Monday, December 1, 2014

¡feliz casidad!

Happy Christmas month!!!!!

Another week flew by, and dang, ya estamos en diciembre?!? How crazy is that. Elder B and I already have a little Christmas tree up in our study room (a member offered it to us in perfect timing, yesterday!) Im ready for a sweet first holiday season on the mish!

This week was amazing. We have witnessed an awesome miracle this week. On Sunday a 16 year old member who hadnt been coming to church for a long time came to church, and brought one of his friends, J. His friend used to come to church with him a lot, but hasnt come since his buddy stopped coming to church. After a sweet lesson last week, the less active boy came back to church with his family, and brought this friend of his, who lives 2 minutes from our house. All week we have been visiting the friend, J, and his family. All week J has gone to seminary, and been reading and praying like crazy, and after coming to all the sessions of stake conference this weekend, had his interview and told us he is ready and wants to be baptized THIS SATURDAY, so that in a few weeks he will be able to baptize his parents. This kid is only 16, a stud soccer player, a sweet DJ/music mixer, yet already has such a strong testimony of the church and we have seen his faith in Jesus Christ grow like crazy in just 1 week. Honestly look up to this kid, although he is 2 feet shorter that me ;)

We helped a member pack 2500 rolls of cheese on Saturday, which was fun and exhausting, but we each scored 2 bricks of super expensive cheese so it was all worth it ;)

Standard Ecuadorian fruit that reminds me of a caterpillar

Am kind of blanking on anything else that happened this week, but I can remember it was a very solid week! 

Oh yeah, at our Stake Conference this weekend, President Christensen and his wife spoke (my mission pres.), and the 1st counselor of the Guayaquil Temple, so that was way awesome. President gave an amazing talk, felt proud to be a part of his crew.  :)

Last week I wrote a few buddies from BYU, and heard back from most of them today. One of my good buddies is in Russia right now, and a part of his email really made me rethink how grateful I should be to be serving in a country where the people are so open to listen to our message...gonna keep my dude in my mind next time I am feeling frustrated with the work down here. He also made me think of Big Jeff and KT MAD respect for all my buddies serving in some of the toughest parts of the world. 

´´The mission has been just amazing so far. Haven't seen a baptism or a progressing investigator yet in the city I'm in but things are still great! Russian is coming along but its dang hard. We have a branch of 30 members here where I've served my whole mission so far. I love the members so much. They're awesome. ´´ -From my buddy in Russia 

LOVE you all and hope this Christmas season is the best yet!!!
Elder Sorensen