Monday, October 29, 2007

Halloween in Lincoln

Dear Family and Friends,

I have to admit that today, I am exhausted! We spent from 10:30-4:30 Deep Cleaning our apartment. Elder Sorensen, do you do this in your mission too? I have to say that even with all that cleaning it isn't exactly spotless, but it is much better. I highly suspect they kept us in this apartment just long enough to get us to do this for them as at about 4:45 we got a call telling us we are moving in with a member sometime after the 31st (TBA soon I hope). That will make us the first Sisters in the mission to move into a member's home. That's kind of exciting. I do have to say I am looking forward to not having any more cleaning inspections. Though the Elder in charge of housing told us our new "landlord" is naturally a very fastidiously clean person. She also has two dogs so Sister Kawasaki will be happy. If you thought I was bad about liking animals, Sister Kawasaki is worse. The funny thing? I usually win the dogs over without even trying while she tries very very hard to win them back.

Well we had a very full week. We had Interviews with President Perry on Tuesday; Trainer/Trainee on Friday; a baptism, chapel tours, and the ward Trunk-or-Treat on Saturday; and church and all the meetings connected with that on Sunday. In response to Elder Sorensen's assertion that being a missionary for Halloween is lame, I went to the Trunk-or-Treat as Sister Kawasaki and Sister Kawasaki went as me. Okay so all we did was switch name tags, but I thought it at least mildly amusing and at least a few other people did too. We thought about borrowing ties from the Elders and going as Elders but the flyer said not to cross dress, plus I don't have a white shirt--I'm always paranoid I'll spill on a white shirt. We also were able to meet some very important goals this week such as finding 4 new people to teach and getting 5 investigators to come to Sacrament Meeting. We are still woefully short on our lessons with a member present, however, so that will get much attention this week, hopefully. But our miracle investigator did get baptized on Saturday at a very nice baptism (very crowded too actually, sadly mostly with people from our ward and not from his new ward). He is still very sad about having to be in a different stake and is even considering moving. But anyway, we worked hard and had some good lessons and good things happen.

Now this week we are going to continue to work hard. On Wednesday, aka Halloween, we have to be in our apartments by 6:00 no exceptions. And we pretty much have to do extra studying. We don't have any candy to hand out either, so I hope trick-or-treaters don't hit up our apartment. On Thursday I am going on my first ever missionary exchange. I've always been too far away from other Sisters to do them before. I am going to go back up to my old area in Yuba City and work with Sister Levacy-Sabin while Sister Nielson comes down to Lincoln to work with Sister Kawasaki. They have some good lessons lined up for that day too.

I hope you all have a good week. Dad and Amy, please take good pictures of nieces and nephews in Halloween costumes and send them on!

Sister L. Sorensen

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fairytale Investigators

Dear Family and Friends,

Things continue to be interesting here in Lincoln. For instance, today the internet keeps kicking me off so I am typing this letter in hope that I can get on long enough to copy and paste it into an email. This week has been a little crazy. We have been working hard, but with mixed results. It started off with cleaning inspections. But our inspector came at 9:00 am, when did they expect us to clean? It is a good thing that I cleaned fairly thoroughly the week before and really just had to touch up most things on Monday. We also had to spend the week touching up the car trying to make it is nice as possible (since I knew they would be paying particular attention to our car this inspection due to our accident the week before). I am happy to say that we did win one of those prizes (in fact the Sisters very nearly swept car inspections, a rare feat). As part of this effort we discovered that the Shell station’s car wash here actually has fairly decent wax—unfortunately it doesn’t clean perfectly so we ended up with some suds marks under our wax job (which I didn’t even realize we were getting, by the way). Oh well, Ichabod is nice and shiny this week.

The real news is two fold. First, I forgot one of the oddities last week; an increasing pet peeve of mine in fact: golf carts. Our area covers part of “Sun City” which is a very large retirement community. On all of the roads throughout the community there are golf cart lanes. Isn’t that crazy? I’ve never seen a golf cart lane before. What is even weirder to me is that some of these more senior citizens seem to think it is okay to take their golf carts out onto the parkways—not on the side of the road or in the bike lanes or anything, right there in the middle of traffic—across I-65 and over to go shopping. Now that just seems dangerous, they don’t really have all that much protection. Today we saw a gentleman driving his golf cart on the parkway today with his Labrador sitting in the passenger seat. These things don’t have any doors, what would he do if his dog saw something it wanted to chase and jumped out? People do strange things.

But the real news is about a very surreal experience Sister Kawasaki and I have been able to be a part of. On our second day here in Lincoln we started teaching a new investigator. He works at the pizza place here and one of the families who goes there fairly often started a friendship with him and invited him to church. He came for two weeks and then they asked if he would like the lessons (enter us). The weekend after we taught him the first lesson (in the member’s home) was General Conference—he watched all 5 sessions. The second lesson went really well and he liked it a lot. He always did all of his reading assignments and more as the members kept sending him home with church DVDs and optional reading. This past week we taught him the third lesson. Next Saturday he is getting baptized. This seriously has been like teaching exactly out of Preach My Gospel; he has literally been the perfect investigator. I guess it just goes to show that the General Authorities really knew what they were doing when they wrote the “text” and that it all really works. It has been neat to be a part of this. The only “down” side is that he lives in Roseville, so technically it is going to be their baptism, but hey it’s all the same mission and the same gospel and we get to go anyway.

Now hopefully we’ll be able to actually find some more people to teach this week since sadly we had 0 new investigators last week. That is the first time that has happened for me in 20 weeks. This week will be busy though, since we have interviews with our Mission President tomorrow and Trainer/Trainee to go to on Friday. But with concerted effort I am sure we can do it.

Sister L. Sorensen

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Life in Lincoln

Dear Family and Friends,

There are definitely some strange things about Lincoln. For one, we went to church yesterday and everything people told us was true. We fill up all the way back to the stage, two babies were blessed, two baby births were announced, and three new families were read into the ward. Kind of weird, plus it was loud with lots of kids running here there and everywhere since many of them were sitting in the gym and thought it was play time. But the ward is really enthusiastic and full of young people and old people who each have their pluses (young people mingle and refer people, old people are home during the day and can go with you to appointments sans kiddies). Other weird things? There are multitudes of wild peacocks residing outside our apartments. Apparently nobody really knows where they come from but they are wandering around all the time. The Spanish Elders have discovered that if you catch one and call animal services they pay you somewhere between $20-50 dollars which brings up frightening possibilities since we already have discovered that the previous tenants of our apartment did indeed catch one and keep it in the apartment for some period of time (we have feathers to prove it). Oh the possibilties when you house 8 Elders together. Another thing, EVERYONE around here is doing some serious decorating for Halloween. And I mean serious, there are giant spiders and that spider web stuff, mummies, inflatable haunted castles and caves, monsters, graveyards, the works. Is it because there are so many young families? Because I simply do not remember seeing this degree of Halloween decoration growing up. Also one of the main roads here is named Ferrari Ranch Road. Has anyone ever seen a Ferrari Ranch? I am curious what that might entail.

Well this week I got lost fewer times, but I still got lost plenty. We had a good week though. We got to meet a few more of our investigators (and drop a few). We had some excellent lessons, and we really do have some excellent fellowshippers in this ward. That is really exciting as a missionary. We also were able to meet and begin teaching an entire family! Okay so not entire because three of their five sons are younger than 8, but they were present for the lesson. They took the lessons a few years back in Roseville, but then with the move to Lincoln and other things in their life they stopped. But they say everything keeps pointing them back to this church and they seem very serious so I am excited. Also this was a referral from the Bishop, yay Bishop! And last, but not least, we got rear ended on Saturday. We were just sitting completely stopped in traffic waiting for the light to change when the SUV behind us hit us. We're both fine and actually the only damage is possibly a scratch--we're not that familiar with the car so we don't know if it was there already or not--so we were pretty lucky. But the odds of not getting into another accident are in my favor now, right? I'll hope so.

Also note to Elder Sorensen: it is officially the Church's new housing policy for North America to have all missionaries living in members' houses, so prepare yourself for the future. We still have not heard anything about us getting into a house, which was supposed to be resolved by this point, but we'll just hang out in a half unpacked apartment until we do hear.

Sister L. Sorensen

PS I've been trying to teach Sister Kawasaki American jokes but she just insists they are all stupid. And, when I asked her what she would say if I called her a cheesu-no-atama so simply could not comprehend it. Anne did you teach us made up words? Sister K does not get why calling someone a "cheesehead" would be either funny or offensive, or why you would call anyone that in the first place. We continue to work on teaching her how to see "would" or "wood" instead of "ood" and teaching her the mission song. In fact I had to tell her we could not listen to any music in the car until she had it learned, which she was displeased with but it has provided the proper incentive.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

You've Got to be Kidding Me!

Dear Family and Friends,

Watashi no namae wa Sorensen simai desu. Does that give anyone a hint as to who my new companion is? I am currently serving in the Lincoln 2nd Ward in the Rocklin Stake with Sister Takako Kawasaki. I have to admit while I had some sentimental thoughts that it would be kind of cool to train the Japanese sister given our family's record with Japan and missionary work, I was quite surprised that President Perry and the Lord are having me Shotgun Train with a foreign Language missionary. Partly because this simply cuts out an hour and a half everyday of extra study time that Sister Kawasaki gets, but I'm sure it will all work out. After all I trust the Lord and President Perry a great deal, so they must know what they are doing right?

Now for proper introductions. Sister Kawasaki comes from Kumamoto, Japan (even though all the mission stuff says she comes from Tokyo, I guess that is where she was living just before she came out). She joined the church when she was 18 after taking some of the free English lessons the missionaries were offering and feeling obligated to repay their services by listening to them teach the gospel, but merely as a courtesy. Of course, that changed and she has now been a member for four years. She is the only member in her family, and her family is apparently a little less than supportive in her decision to come on a mission, particularly all the way over here in California. That said, would Emily, Anne, or Travis like to brush up on their Japanese? Sister Kawasaki gets very little mail, and while she is very nice and polite about it, I can tell it bothers her a bit. She's graduated from college and all that, and apparently worked as a nurse for a year before she came on her mission. That job, however, was not to her liking so she is also trying to figure out what else she can/will do when she goes home.

Okay so how about the ward. There is only one word I can use to describe this ward/area and week: crazy. While I love General Conference (I particularly liked Elder Boyd K. Packer and Elder Robert D. Hales talk this time round), it did fall at a very inconvenient time for trying to get to know a new ward. This ward is absolutely huge! (By all accounts, since I have not yet actually witnessed this). It has 750 members, very many of whom are active. There are three nurseries (which equals to 60 kids between the age of 18 months and 3 years), 120 other children in primary, and apparently there is almost literally a baby born each week. For the last two years they have read at least one new family into the ward each week and sometimes it is closer to three or four, and during the block every single room--including the kitchen--is being used. There is also a chunk of a fairly large retirement community in the ward so there are plenty of old people too. The only thing in scarcity, it sounds like, are teenagers and people in their 40s. Meanwhile we have only met six or seven families. We spent all of last week and this weekend trying really, really hard to meet the last set of Elders' investigating pool with very little luck. This people are nearly impossible to get a hold of! We've called them all, gone round to their houses at different times during the day, and left notes on their doors with very little return. We are probably going to have a baptism this month though, which is fun (we do have an appointment with this person tonight). And we started teaching a friend of one of the family's last week and not only did the lesson go very well, but we all met at their home to watch Conference on Saturday; he ended up watching all three sessions that day, and was supposed to have gone back over for Sunday's sessions as well. Another plus about this ward though is that there are lots of ward missionaries and the Ward Mission Leader and Bishop are really on top of missioary work, not that the ward really needs any new members, but hey. Apparently the big hold up is that there is simply no other building to put another ward and so they cannot split Lincoln 2nd (there are at least three wards meeting in all the buildings in this stake).

So this next week is going to be a great big adventure. Sister Kawasaki and I are going to press forward and work really hard; if we can't find all their old investigators we're just going to have to go out and get some of our own.

I hope you all had a great week, sorry about the delay. The computers went all weird last Monday.

Sister L. Sorensen

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Land of Lincoln

Dear Family and Friends,

Well, another week of working hard, and happily, another baptism. It was actually a very eventful baptism, which included our recent convert swimming across the font (after he accidentally went up the Women’s side trying to get out of the font). All I could do was shake my head and laugh. The entire thing was very characteristic of him. I don’t really know what else to say about this week—we worked hard and found some more people. We also, unfortunately, had a lot of teaching appointments fall through this last week. I guess it’s just that time of year. But overall things went well and I feel good about leaving the area. Unlike my first area, I feel that I really made a difference here and helped to change some people’s lives; and that is a great feeling.

That said, I won’t make you all wait. Transfers have come with extra surprises. They are splitting the trio up just about as much as possible. Sister Nielson is staying here to keep working with our investigators, while Sister Mauga heads back up to Anderson Zone to shotgun Red Bluff with a Sister I really wish I could serve with, but I just don’t think the timing will ever work out! I, meanwhile, am finally passing that invisible line into the “south” of the mission. I am going to go Shotgun the Lincoln 2nd Ward in the Rocklin Zone/Stake and I’m going to train while I’m at it. So, that means I don’t know who my companion is and I won’t find out until tomorrow afternoon so none of you will know until next week. Unless you have some secret sources I don’t know about, which I suppose is possible, but I doubt it. The candidates for my new companion are: Sister Kawasaki from Tokyo, Japan, Sister Methot from New Hampshire, or Sister Rollins from Arizona. So place your bets and I’ll let you know who the lucky winner is next Monday. Anyway, once again I’ll be in a car, another red Corolla. And apparently it is a very large word with around 730 people and three nurseries. It seems to be partly old people (for some reason or another I attract the old people wards) and partly young people in an area of town that is really growing. Anyway I’m excited for the adventure of being in the “south” plus shotgun training.

Another point of interest—somehow or other I’ve reached my 9-month mark. Isn’t that crazy? I can honestly say that I love this work and I am not at all counting down the days until I go home. In fact, that is something that President Perry and I agreed not to even think about (we’re going home about the same time).

I love you all and I hope everything is going well wherever you are and whatever you are doing.

Sister L. Sorensen

Afterthoughts: Besides not knowing the exact address, our housing situation in Lincoln is going to be temporary, so just keep sending everything to/through the mission office.

California Roseville Mission
8331 Sierra College Blvd., Ste. 208
Roseville, CA 95661