Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Elder Sorenson - December 26, 2016

Wow!! This week was an emotional roller coaster! On my P-day I kind of got a boost of confidence! I talked to a family by myself (in Spanish) and I could hold a conversation! I didn't speak very well, but I think they got what I was trying to say.  

TUESDAY - 8,057 steps 
I had a good time today! My companion and I planned for the week and I loved it because we got to really focus on the investigator. Later in the day, we were walking down the street and this family needed help putting benches on top of their car. My companion tried to do it with me but he was too short so I ended up putting the benches on top of the car all by myself. Our last lesson of the night was with Kristine, one of our investigators. I actually understood all of the lesson and was able to speak back to her.

WEDNESDAY- 0 steps (I forgot to bring my pedometer today) 
We were very successful with lessons today and nothing too exciting happened. Hermana Lila, our investigator with a baptism date, was so sweet and we talked to her today! 

THURSDAY - 10,653 steps 
I have really gotten into reading… missionary books that is! I finished reading "True to the Faith" and "Our Search for Happiness." These books were so good and they strengthened my testimony so much! Today I got introduced to "Pan de Chocolate," and let's just say the weight I am losing from not eating rice, I am going to make up by eating this bread. Oh... it melts in my mouth, it's so good!! 

FRIDAY - 13,018 steps 
Christmas here is so different! The people in this city have Christmas lights and characters, or mannikins, of Christmas items in front of their houses...but here's the catch, these "maniquedoras" are good until New Year's. On New Year's, they load up these things was dynamite and blow them up all night! So no sleep for me! Anyways, I had an opportunity to serve today! One of the houses in our zone had a fire in it, so all of the missionaries and I went to the house to clean it up. If you know me, you know that I am not afraid to get dirty! That being said, after three hours of helping the family out, I was covered head to toe in black ash! It reminded me of Bishop Messina's story about when he went camping with James and they both slept in a bed of ashes all night! Haha! It felt good doing service and seeing how grateful the family was for our help! I also helped a recent convert with her English homework and by "help", I mean, I did it for her. Haha! It kind of reminded me of my English essays in high school that my mom helped me with! Ha ha! Just kidding. I also helped her with her math homework and you know how hard it is to do math, right? Well, put the directions and notes in different language and try to do it! Haha!  

SATURDAY - Christmas Eve
Christmas was so different here because I wasn't with my family and couldn't look forward to grandma's cinnamon rolls in the morning! We had lunch with our mission president today and played games as a zone! We got into groups according to our nationalities and showed everyone what a typical Christmas is in our country. So, the missionaries from the United States replicated Santa photos at a shopping mall! Haha! Also, my companion had to talk to my family about the details surrounding our Christmas Skype phone call and that was hilarious to watch my companion try to communicate with my mom! That night, we went to a family's house and they asked me to sing a solo and let's just say that was very interesting!! I didn't get any sleep on Christmas Eve because of the music and the fireworks in the neighborhood. 

SUNDAY - Christmas 
Merry Christmas! I guess you have to count today as the first day that I cried on my mission. I was overwhelmed when I first saw my family on Skype. I swear it was allergies, but I bet my family would say otherwise! Haha!! I loved talking to my family so much!! Before I Skyped my family, I spoke in church and that went pretty well! My companion and I ate six lunches and I was dying!! At 5:00PM, my companion called his family but the sound wasn't working so it took an hour and a half to fix it. At 7:30PM I got to Skype my family. Talking to my family helped me to know for a-surety that this mission is where I need to be right now because me being on a mission has blessed my family in numerous ways!! I will give all of myself for 2 years to bless my family!! 

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas with your family and have a Happy New Year! 

Love Always, 
Elder Sorenson  #BOK

Monday, December 19, 2016

Elder Sorenson - December 19, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Wow! I can't believe that Christmas is less than a week away. This week was the busiest and craziest week that I have ever experienced in my life.

I had a good day on Tuesday but I was exhausted because it is very hard to sleep here. There are parties every night on the street and the people in the streets play the music very loud! After we taught five lessons to different families, we drove to a different mission to practice for choir. We sounded pretty bad. 

We didn't get home until 11:45 PM because we practiced for our Christmas choir performance and the practice went all day! The director asked me and three other people to sing a special musical number for Guayaquil South. It is a barbershop piece called, "Oh Come, Oh Come Emanuel". The other missionaries wanted me to sing bass because of how low the song goes. 

We didn't teach any lessons today. We went to a park and set up 4-5 nativity scenes for the event on Saturday. Nothing too exciting happened, but I did sit in the front seat in the taxi and talked to the driver a lot! It was crazy that he actually understood what I was saying! Ha ha! 

We had a zone meeting today and I would say that I could understand 80% of everything said!  So I think I'm improving my ability to understand and speak Spanish, little by little. I learned the phrase "fake it 'til you make it" .... it's my motto here because I just smile, nod my head, and say yes when I get told something! 

So I have come to realize that the area I am in struggles with organization! Prior to the special choir event we were singing in, everyone was running around with their head cut off. Our first full run through of all 15 songs was at the performance! It definitely wasn't like the performances that I was used to participating in high school but our musical performance went so well!! Once I get the recording I will send it to you guys! During the performance, I learned that nobody knew the part on stage so they threw me the mic and had me sing the tenor part so, from what I could tell, the people in the audience could only hear me singing! It was a fun experience and we got a ton of referrals and investigators who want to learn about the gospel after hearing us sing and feeling the spirit!  

Church went pretty well but I didn't understand a whole lot. I feel like I'm taking two steps forward and one step back when it comes to learning Spanish. I know I will get this language down eventually! We have confirmed five people to baptism and we are super close on two more! All of our investigators have some really good questions and I think that it is a good thing! Although I can't answer their questions yet (because of the language barrier), I think it's a good thing that they are pondering our message. 

Although I did not have that many lessons this week because of the huge Christmas event on Saturday, I feel my testimony and knowledge of this gospel growing stronger every day! During lessons, when in doubt or when I don't have any words in Spanish to explain what I want to say, every single time, a song or a scripture comes to my mind that is exactly what I needed to say! Also, the investigators love when I sing to them because they understand what I say! 

Overall, the weeks are flying by on my mission and I know that I will be able to understand Spanish eventually! I just need to ask the Lord, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, to bless me with the Gift of Tongues. I know my purpose here on earth is to grow and to make mistakes (trust me, I make so many mistakes in Spanish it's not even funny). I know that through the Plan of Salvation and the Restoration that there will be life after death and that I will be able to be with my beautiful family forever! 

I love this gospel and hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas! Give your family an extra hug for me! I leave with you my testimony, en el numbre de jesucristo, Amen. 

Love Always, 
Elder Sorenson 

1 Nephi 15:26-27 - Everyone is equal and we should always see the good in everyone.  

Monday, December 12, 2016

Elder Sorenson - December 12, 2016

Hi Everyone!

I am going to have to make this e-mail short because I only have 30 minutes today. I woke up with about 40 bug bites all over my body on Tuesday so I took my mom's advice and sprayed my entire bed with bug spray!! Haha! I haven't gotten that many since!!

I had some great lessons this week and I spoke a lot more Spanish than usual! My biggest struggle is explaining the Restoration. It is difficult to even explain it in English!! I can understand most of what people are saying I just can't speak back to them. During church, I am good at knowing what they are saying because it is about the Gospel! I am just not good at casual conversations but I will get there.

A member gave us some mangos and they were so good. My companion didn't eat any because he has stomach problems, so I ended up eating three mangos!! Haha! That night we had like 10 minutes to get home and we were hungry so we stopped at this burger place. Oh it was so good going in but I got food poisoning from the hamburger. Let's just say I didn't sleep at all that night! I found out the next day that the Gringos (Americans) don´t have a strong enough stomach for hamburgers. Ooops..

On Thursday we went to a different zone where there were about 40 missionaries and they were singing. My companion and I walked around while they were singing and handed out cards for Christmas. I was kind of sad I wasn't singing but after they sang, I talked to my President and he was shocked I was in choir for seven years! The next day, I was in the middle of a lesson and our President called us. He said, in Spanish,¨I want Elder Sorenson to be in the choir, so get him there ASAP!¨ I was so stoked! I ¨tried out¨ for the choir and I made it! So now I am in the choir and the first person I met was Elder Vegas. He is such a good singer and we instantly hit it off by talking about choir! Also, the director needed a tenor, so I am singing tenor. (Choir friends: my dream finally has come true!)

On one of our taxi rides, which is always more like a roller coaster because of how the drivers drive their cars with a stick shift, I talked to the driver and he was shocked I have only been here for 3 weeks! So that gave me a confidence boost!! Yesterday, all the missionaries in my zone dressed up for a nativity scene. We didn't act it out, just took pictures.

The lessons I have learned out here on my mission is that I can't do this on my own - teaching and learning a language. The Lord has a part in every thing we do and say. My testimony and my humility for the Lord has grown so much out here!! I know that with the Lord's help, I can do hard things.

Merry Christmas and Te Qujiero mucho!

Love Always,
Elder Sorenson

This picture was messaged to Kim (Kyle's mom) on FB this past week from a member in Kyle's current ward in Ecuador. It looks like it may be the English homework that Kyle was helping to complete for one of the kids in Ecuador. :-)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Elder Sorenson - December 5, 2016

Hi Everyone!

Tuesday: 6428 steps
We placed two Book of Mormons and we taught a lot. We taught a family named Alvarado and I love them so much, they are so sweet!! They tried reading English to me and I laughed so much, I know that is how they feel about me!! On our way home, we walked past this lady and she came running up to me, my comp was waving no but I didn´t know what was going on. I shook her hand and talked to her but we had to leave. It ended up that the girl was a prostitute and I had no idea!! Anyways, this language and being here is like a big game of charades for everyone. I have never used my hands while speaking so much. Haha! The investigators seem to understand!! I bought a futbol jersey today in honor of how crazy soccer is here!! 

Wednesday: 10,120 steps
I woke up sick and I don´t remember anything that happened this day.

Thursday: 12,443 steps
We woke up at 4AM today because our President allowed us to go to the temple as a zone!! It was so great and the temple is so pretty!! I love it so much and I hope I can go again someday. I still didn´t understand anything because it was all in Spanish but the spirit was so strong that it made up for me not understanding the what was being said. 

Friday: 12,219 steps
I am having a hard time with the language and just don´t know what exactly to study. Today, we had some super good food!! It was called torilla espanol. It is pork, cheese, and potatoes. I loved it so much!!! 

Sunday 12, 902 steps
Today was Fast Sunday and about the whole ward bore their testimonies. I swear there were about 40 people who bore their testimonies and we didn´t finish the meeting until about 20 after the hour. We only had two investigators show up to church but it is fine!! After church, we had lunch and guess what I had. Yep, fish! It was full on a fish, not just the meat so I had to learn then and there how to not eat the bones of the fish. It definitely was not my favorite thing here. Afterwards, we had to go home because of futbol again but it was even more crazy today because the team won!!! So there were fireworks going off, people running and screaming with flags, cars honking and flying by, and fires were even started in the middle of the streets. I have never seen anything like it!! SO we just went home and relaxed in our house!!

I am sorry for such a short report this week, but I don´t have that much time to email. I hope this gives you a clear understanding that I am loving the mission life, maybe not the food but, I will learn to like it. I know the language will come, but I hope it comes fast so I can help my companion in the lessons!

I love you all and hope you have a wonderful Christmas season with your families!!

Love Always,
Elder Sorenson

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Letters from Ecuador - December 2, 2016

Kyle left 8 1/2 weeks ago to serve the Lord. Letting go of my 24 month hug from him on the curb of the MTC in Provo, Utah was one of the hardest things that I have done. As you can imagine with my son serving in a third world country, my e-mails to him have included questions about his living quarters, the community he is living in, etc. Yesterday, 12/2/16, a Fed Ex package was delivered to the house and inside of the package was an envelope containing 4 hand written letters with a return address of Guayaquil, Ecuador. My son wrote Aspen, Morgan, my mom and dad, and me heartfelt letters. As we silently read our letters from Kyle, tears streamed down our faces....each one of us cherishing every word written. In his letter to me, Kyle answered my questions, in detail, that I had been asking him about regarding his living quarters and the community he is currently serving in.  I thought that I would update his blog with a few of the details that he included in his letter to me in an effort to paint a clear picture in your mind as to how he is doing, what he is experiencing, and how he continues to choose to find the humor in the most challenging situations while, at the same time, strengthening his testimony of the gospel. Below are a few of the excerpts from the letter Kyle wrote to me, dated November 25, 2016:

"I hope this letter gives you a better picture of what my zone looks like."

"The area that I am in is so poor it is crazy. Pretty much the size of people's houses are the size of our garage. My house is the nicest part of this city. We don't have warm water or lights and our AC is the windows being open or shut. My house is super dirty has bugs all over the floor and in the shower. I swear the toilet is made for little people. I tried sitting down and my knees literally press against the wall. I feel like Elf in numerous different ways. Haha. Oh! Also the mirror we have is about 3 to 4 feet off the ground...that might be a little over exaggerated but you get my point.
"In the mornings, I squat to see my hair, brush my teeth and so no. I have had a few bugs sleep with me a few nights ago and got some awesome bug bites. Don't worry. I don't think that I got the Zika Virus. Not Yet."

"I did not expect Ecuador to look like this. The houses are just forts and there is like 15 people living in each of them. I seriously can't tell who lives in each house because they literally all go into each others houses! I can't tell the difference between a store and a house because of how run down it is here. To describe how poor it is here, imagine walking into our garage when it wasn't organized at all, had all our boxes everywhere, add old food sitting out, walls that are metal slabs, or in this case, they are concrete bricks, a 'couch' that has a piece of plywood as the cushion, and then have about 15 people living in it."

"The church has about 6 rooms, the chapel, and two bathrooms. There is no AC so you just open the windows and hope for the best. The church is also covered and surrounded by a barbed wire fence which is super pretty! Also, I forgot to mention that there are chickens in every house and so that makes for a great air freshener! Haha."

"I am having fun and I love it here but I am not able to express how I feel 100% in Spanish. I study the language an hour a day, and it is helping, but I think the hardest part about this is that my companion doesn't speak any English so it is hard to ask clarifying questions or know the rules or what to do at certain times of the day. I just say, "Si" and go with the flow. It is hard to understand people here because they slur their vocab and sentences. If Spanish wasn't hard enough as it is!! In the missionary lessons we give, my companion talks pretty much the entire time and I bear my testimony...but I know the Gift of Tongues is real and that in order for me to receive that gift, I have to struggle."

"We did commit one person to baptism and he is such a nice guy. I love him!! I love the people here and some of them are trying to learn English to understand me more which is so sweet of them! I have met some awesome people and I feel great serving the Lord."

**Kyle ended his letter to me by bearing his testimony in Spanish.**

"Love Always,
Elder Sorenson

3 Nephi 13:7-8       
D&C 132: 49-50"