Monday, June 26, 2017

Elder Sorenson - June 26, 2017

Hi Everyone!

This week was filled with service and I honestly still can't feel my arms. My companion looks for service so we can get to know the people and in hopes that they will become investigators. It is a great idea and he and I have been very successful, but my body is telling me otherwise. Ha ha! We did have quite a successful week and had some fun while working!

I want to tell all of you about the investigators I am currently working with. As of now, we have eight investigators progressing and taking the discussions with us.

Family Sanchez is such a great family and we just started teaching them. They are lifelong friends with a family in the ward and we have been able to help them find more happiness in their life! They have a daughter who is 17 that doesn't believe in God (the first person I have met on my mission that doesn't believe in God). It has been a little tough teaching her the basic doctrine, which is faith, when she doesn't have faith. It is a new challenge for me that I know I can overcome!

We also found (through a recent convert of ours) a whole family of penguins (little children) that want to hear our message. There are literally seven kids and the mom! The mom can't go to church because of work but her kids do. All seven of them. In Ecuador, that is a ton of people in one group. So when they walk into church, I feel like how other people felt when, after my Fuller family reunion, we went to church and all 30 of us showed up and filled the whole chapel in Newport Beach. Haha! But they are great and I will keep you all updated on how they progress! Our other investigators are doing great and I love them to death. I would have to say the biggest problem here is marriage. Hardly anyone is married, and if they are, it is to another commitment they had 10 years ago. I can name five people that would be baptized tomorrow if it weren't for problems with marriage. But, I have been able to work with this and find a solution. Anyways, those are my investigators with a little update on who and how they are!

The families that I have already baptized are doing great as well! Valeria and Jostyn, they are literally my best friends and I love them more than the world! Their mom reminds me of my mom (sense of humor, loving, caring). They are a great family and they will always be in my heart.

We also had a meeting with our Mission President this past week that went very well and we learned a whole bunch! We were able to share our problems we have been having as a District and our President helped us come up with solutions. Our Mission President is so loving and kind and he really thinks with his heart. He is a wonderful man!

I am so blessed to be here and so blessed to be able to serve a mission! It is one of the greatest decisions that I have ever made in my life.

I love you all! You are always in my thoughts and prayers!

Love Always,
Elder Sorenson

Matthew 5:13-16 (favorite scripture of Ryan)
Salt = Example

Monday, June 19, 2017

Elder Sorenson - June 19, 2017

Hi Everyone!

This week went well. We ran quite a bit of errands and completed the extra tasks we had to do. My first week as a District Leader went great! I can see my personality positively affecting the hearts of my District and I really believe I am gaining trust in my District. At the beginning of my mission, I was pretty shy out here and those of you who know me, you know that I am not shy whatsoever. Haha! It was the language barrier and the fact that I didn't have a clue what the mission field was like that was making me shy. I would just go wth the flow and hope for the best. Now, a little more than 8 months into my mission, I can see my true self, that I know, blossoming even more. I can see the flaws that I had before my mission that I have been able to fix. Obviously, nobody is perfect and you live and learn. There is always room for improvement.

I have realized the essentials I need in my life to live with true happiness and everlasting joy. The first essential thing that I need (and you need too) is our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. We are imperfect, but we can be perfected and we can repent and change, but only through Them. I have seen it firsthand in my mission! I have taught people who were so lost, didn't know where to go, and had so many difficulties in their life, but were open to me helping them change their path! A convert I recently baptized is now in seminary every day and taking mission prep classes to serve a mission. She is dong better in seminary then I was! Haha! This mission is incredible and the miracles I have been able to see and witness are beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I don't have words to explain how powerful the Holy Ghost has been and continues to be in my mission.

Also, my first District meeting as District Leader was this last Friday and it went super well! I was able to teach and share what I know with my District. I also got to share my testimony with them. Having and sharing your testimony is a huge thing! It is the greatest feeling when I get to share my testimony with every single person I encounter here in Ecuador. Some of my responsibilities as a District Leader include leading our weekly district meetings, making phone calls each night to each of the companionships in my District to gather their numbers of investigators and scheduled baptisms, and overseeing and conducting all baptismal interviews.

I also found a new taco place here! The tacos are incredible, better than any I have had. Please pray for me that I don't spend too much money there. Haha!

I love all of you! Thank you for all you have done for me and for helping my build my testimony!

Love Always,
Elder Sorenson

D&C 6:19-20

My convert who is preparing to serve a mission in a few years! 

Our District goals, the plan to get there, and our vision as a District Chantandro!! It isn't as pretty as it would be if one of the sisters made it, but it will do!! Haha!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Elder Sorenson - June 12, 2017

Hi Everyone!

 I forgot to tell you all last week that I experienced my first earthquake here in Ecuador! My companion and I were praying and we both thought it was revelation until people outside were screaming, "Terremoto!" Haha! It started in Peru at a 5.3 magnitude earthquake, it was (I am going to be honest) super cool and not what I expected an earthquake to feel like! Luckily, the earthquake did not cause any damage in our apartment and nobody got hurt in our area.

Anyways, I am finally starting to get over my sickness and am able to breathe better. It was driving me crazy having to be in the house a little extra time because of the sun. I felt super unproductive and I just wanted to get out and do something. Haha!

 Our lessons went well and we taught quite a bit of people. I find myself more successful with getting new investigators by not being too pushy the first lesson or discussion we have with them. The most effective instrument and tool (so far) has been the ability to speak English. I, being whiter than white, obviously do not belong in Ecuador and people look at me (not nonchalantly) and try to speak as much English as they know in the 3-5 seconds I walk past them. It is usually, "Hey you, my friend!” “Good night!” “1-2-3 Mickey Mouse!" At times there will be a few other things they say, but that is how 2 or 3 of our investigators are now discovering our message.  A few times they sound a little too good in English and it catches my attention, so I will stop and talk to them. It is so fun teaching them English! So what I do is teach them something cool in English or answer the questions they have for 5-10 minutes and then we teach a term of the gospel. The students here have English classes as well and their teachers are Ecuadorians, so they have quite an accent because it is honestly hard to read and write in English. So during visits, sometimes I will have 11-12 year old kids come up to me and ask if I can help them (do) their English homework. They are fascinated that I can read so fast in English, that I know the answers, and that I pronounce it so well! I wonder why?!?!?!?  Haha! You might be wondering, "Okay, I get how he is in a third world country and nobody speaks English, so how does this relate to the gospel?" but that's the thing, this past week, I was reading my own notes from general conference and remembered the great talk that Jeffrey R. Holland gave about singing in the choirs of heaven. A quote that comes to my head of his, goes something like this, "Not all the voices in the choir are the same" this is literally how I feel everyday and felt when I was in the Green Valley choir room 24/7 during high school. We ALL have different voices and we ALL share different things to make a choir sound in unison and harmony. There are men that can sing lower or higher than others, there are women who have beautiful vibrato, and there are singers that know dynamics of a song like the back of their hands. There is diction, vowel shapes, facial expressions, and so much more that is involved in singing. But no matter what, when we sing together we need to have "one voice in harmony" with the Lord and that is what we have in common in life - the Lord. While we are singing in the anthems of eternity we should stand as close as we can to the God and the Savior, because They have the perfect pitch. They have the note that we can't quite reach. They have the rhythm that we might struggle clapping out. Like a choir, we depend on the strong singers when we aren't 100% confident on the notes. Those strong singers in life are God and Jesus Christ. With Them, and only with Them, will we be able to "sing" our way "in perfect harmony and pitch" to the Kingdom of Heaven. But as I said earlier, "not all the voices are the same" but "God is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Therefore, His true church is the same in every part of the world! I don't belong in Ecuador because I am not from Ecuador and I don't sing (speak) like Ecuadorians, but because I am on the Lord's errand, there is a space for me here too.

Every one of us is a child of God and we are part of His eternal choir. There is room in the choir for all who wish to be there. I am so grateful for the humble and wonderful people of Ecuador that I have met. They have accepted me to be in their choir for 2 years to "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." It doesn't matter that my first language is English and theirs is Spanish, the language that we both speak together is the language of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 I love all of you so much and I know God loves you. Pray to Him for all thy support. He knows who you are and where you are. He is just waiting to hear from you through prayer. "Come as you are, but don't plan to stay as you are."

 Love Always,

 Elder Sorenson

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Elder Sorenson - June 5, 2017

Hi Everyone!

These weeks are getting crazier and crazier as the weeks go by. This was by far the craziest and up and down week. EVER. My companion had to go to Guayaquil on Tuesday to get his Visa, so I stayed in Machala and was in a trio with Elder Barnom and Elder Soto. It was a super fun day, but I was so tired because we got up at 3 in the morning. When my companion got back, we had to stay in the house because my companion has Dange or Zika. I know, it stinks, but it gets worse. We weren't able to teach very much this week because we were in and out of Urgent Care and buying medicine. The next day I woke up and felt a little sick, but I just wanted to fight through it. We had a meeting with the mission nurses and they gave me a list of medicine to buy. I wasn't feeling any better and so they set up an appointment for the "clinic" (a hospital that doesn't have doors). The doctor checked my breathing and that stuff. Well everyone, it looks like I got Bronchitis, ain't nobody got time for that! Anyways, my President and his wife were near the clinic so they came to check up on my companion and I. It was a little embarrassing to see the President at 1in the morning with an oxygen mask on my face, but it happens to the best of us.

After doing two oxygen/air treatments, I was still not able to breathe without feeling dry in my lungs so the doctor made this great conclusion and said, "Oh no...tienes asthma." I went from the flu, to bronchitis, to asthma. Gotta love it! So anyways I received about 12 different medicines and an inhaler. I also am not allowed to sleep with air conditioning, so isn't that ironic? Haha! I am happy to say that I am feeling better and the medicine is working but does anyone want a slightly used oxygen mask? The hospital here makes you take it home and if you need to return to get more oxygen, you have to use the same mask. I guess it is their version of soda refills in the U.S.!

Oh! Also, we had a baptism on Friday, June 2nd! We baptized two wonderful people that have a firm testimony of this gospel. I hope you all had a great week and that you are in good health! I love you all and thank you for your prayers and support. WOW! 8 months down!!

Love Always,
Elder Sorenson

1 Corinthians  10:13


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Elder Sorenson - May 29, 2017

Hi Everyone!

This week might have been one of the hardest weeks I have had on my mission. We are really working hard and doing all that we can to find new people to teach. There has been some drama throughout our zone, but I think we got it all cleaned up! My relationship with my new companion can be up and down at times, but I can't deny that I have already learned so much from him.

The lessons we had this week went well and we taught by the Spirit. An investigator we have been working with for a while wanted us to come talk to her and we when we did, we found out that she really wants what we have! She is so sweet and I can honestly see it in her eyes that she is ready to receive our message.

I went on companion exchanges with my District Leader, Elder Salazar. It was so fun to be with him because he is super hard-working guy. He is from an Indian tribe in Ecuador so he has long pony tail. We got so much attention that day, a gringo and a native! Haha! I learned quite a bit from him and learned new ways to explain terms and how to find new investigators.

Like I said, this week was an up and down week. We gained a ton of confidence in the investigators that have a baptism date, but two of them found out they are moving to Chile this next week and they were so sad to tell us. Then the next house we went too, another baptism date told us that she is moving to Quito for 2-3 months. I really experienced the phrase, "2 steps forward, 1 step back" this week.

They only way I can handle the situation I have had this week is through patience and also being the bigger person. Obviously it is easy to loose your patience with your investigators that know the gospel is true but will not read, pray, or go to church, but when we show our patience towards them, it helps them to realize that the gospel is true in a whole different way because it is their journey, not ours. Our patience for our leaders or even our companions is a virtue.

I hope your week was great and that all of you are doing well. You might have had a rough week and you might not want to try it again, but I challenge you with, "I dare you to move. I dare you to lift yourself up off of the floor. I dare you to move forward today like you never have before!"

Love Always,

Elder Sorenson