Sunday, December 25, 2016

Stories of Jesus - December 19, 2016

Stories of Jesus - December 19, 2016

The birth of Jesus Christ was one of the most important events in the history of ever. I would argue that it's second only to the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

It's the subject of my favorite holiday. If we can sidetrack here a little, don't you love Christmas? The lights, the music, the warm feeling that is just everywhere?

I think it's fantastic, and I'm kind of bummed that I won't have the same Christmas I usually have this year. But that's okay. It'll still be good. I've heard Christmas for missionaries is fantastic.

Do you understand what it means that Jesus was born?

Let's assume for a second that he wasn't ever born. That would be impossible, since God had promised it, and cannot lie or else cease to be God, but we'll speculate here.

Death would be the end. Our spirits and our bodies would be forever separated. We would all be in Spirit prison, since the conditions of paradise are faith, Repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, which aren't complete, or even possible, without Christ.

We would all have a perfect knowledge of our guilt in this state. All of it. That thing you said to your friend when you were nine that was pretty mean? Remember that?

Remember every argument you had? Every time you hurt somebody's feeling? Every single crude or impolite word you have ever said? All of it. You'd remember it, and you could never repent of it.

Churches would be rather dismal places. Replacing joy and hope through the Atonement would be disappointment and loathing towards Adam and Eve for their transgression. For forever causing us to be born into a carnal and fallen state.

Best case scenario, the church would be a place of humble acceptance. Where we're taught just to do the best we can so we won't suffer as much as we could.

Think the scriptures are hard to understand now? In this world, we would have remnants of the Old Testament. Talking about a Messiah that never came. A Savior that never saved. A broken promise.

The New Testament would have been nothing. The Nephite believers would have been killed when the sign of Christ's birth didn't come, and thus the faith would be destroyed, and the plates would have probably been melted down and used to elevate the wealth of the wicked. There would be no reason for the Book of Mormon.

Joseph Smith's First Vision might have still happened. It just would be very different. He likely would have fallen, as the Book of Mormon was brought about to defend us from danger. He would have been just a fallen prophet. Or just another confused person like everybody else.

Satan would no longer be lying when he told us that we couldn't progress. Since it would be true. Every death of a loved one would be devastating. There would be purgatory after death, not paradise.

We would be forever subject to the justice of God for our sins, and no mercy. Since there would be no Mediator.

But the good news is that Jesus Christ was born. He lived. He lives today. The angel announced to the shepherds in their fields that he brought good tidings of great joy.

He announced more than just the birth of a baby boy. He announced the fulfillment of prophecy. He announced that there would be peace on earth. He announced that progression would be possible. Forgiveness would be possible. He announced that God still cared, and that He keeps His promises.

He announced that all the children of God would be redeemed from the Fall, and that they would all, without a single soul left out, have a chance. A fair one too.

Heavenly hosts sang praises to God. They celebrated! They knew that they all had possibility. Opportunity. Hope. Peace. Joy.

I've said before that I like to think that I was among that heavenly host singing and praising God as a spirit awaiting my turn. But now I think that that heavenly host is still singing.

We're still singing songs to celebrate the birth of a baby boy. We're announcing to the world that He came! We bring good tidings of great joy! That warm feeling that comes with Christmas, at least to me, is the Testament of the importance of the birth of Christ.

The warm feeling I always feel at Christmastime is unmistakably the Spirit, testifying that what we celebrate each year really happened.

Without Christ being born, we would have never lived. And without Him, we would have no point in living.

I urge you all to remember the reason for the Christmas season. It brings joy to the soul.

I love Christmas, and I love Christ.

-Elder Sorensen

PS: Like the last one, Elder Sorensen's mom is posting this late, but only a week late for this one. Again, I'll add pictures later.

The Stories of Jesus - Nov 14

The Stories of Jesus

Hey ya'll. In case you were wondering, Las Vegas is great! Still hot, I don't think that will change.

I might be biting off a little more than I can chew here, but I have something to announce.

I'm starting a series of posts. This one I'm pretty excited for. I'll call it the Stories of Jesus. It's just what the name implies.

Over the next few months, I have a schedule of blog post that are going to drop. They're going to go over some of the Stories of Jesus, and what we can learn from them.

This specific post isn't part of it, it's just the announcement of the upcoming series. Here's the schedule of posts. I'll do my best to make sure they're all ready to be posted a while before they're scheduled (no need to worry, Mom). There will be posts on the following days,

December 19, 2016
January 1, 2017
January 16, 2017
February 1, 2017
February 16, 2017
March 1, 2017
March 16, 2017
April 2, 2017
April 13, 2017
April 14, 2017
And April 16, 2017

I already know the topics I'll be writing on, don't worry. I'll do a good job. I'll also be praying to know what to say and write. And I won't let writing interfere with the work I have to do.

Make sure you put those dates on your calendars, so you can know when to look for them. I don't want anybody to miss them.

Until then, watch this video on a constant loop until you want to rip out you ears. 


Peace out home boys and girls! The Church is true!

-Elder Sorensen

PS: Elder Sorensen's mother is a slacker and is finally posting this a month late. I'll add pictures later.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Prophet of God

A Prophet Of God

My full name is Nathaniel Arza Sorensen. The part of that name that I hold very dear to me is my middle name, Arza.

It comes from an ancestor of mine, Arza Erastus Hinkley. He is my 3rd great grandfather. I could talk quite a bit about him, but I only wish to tell one story from his life.

Arza was one of the early saints. He came with the Mormon Battalion to the Salt Lake Valley, and was present when Brigham Young called for the rescue of the Willie and Martin Handcart companies.

There were many people who answered the call, one of the most well known being Ephraim Hanks, who, with a larger group with supplies, went out to search. Arza and his friend, Dan Johnson, went along, separately.

The two eventually met the other group, including Ephraim, who had turned back. They, seeing the harsh winter that had already started, were doubtful that they could find the Martin Company. They had assumed that the handcarts had either found a place to camp for the winter, or had altogether perished. They were now turning back to report to President Young.

The main thing I'd like you to take away from this is what Arza said. He told them, "I will make a proposition with you. There is a good place to camp just a short distance from here. You go on and camp, and wait until you hear about the carts, and Dan and I will go on to find the carts."

The other group was cynical. They wondered why Arza thought he and Dan would be able to find the carts when they had been unsuccessful. When they expressed these questions, Arza responded in a powerful way.

"Brigham Young sent me out to find the handcart folks and I will find them or give my life trying to find them."

Arza's words persuaded Ephraim Hanks to turn back around and help these two find the carts. The reason for telling this story is to talk about my ancestor's and middle-namesake's confidence in and dedication to follow a prophet of God.

I don't tell this story to say, "Hey! Look how cool my ancestors were! What did yours do?" Had I not been a descendent of Arza and had simply know of the story, I'd have still told it.

I tell it to emphasize the topic of this post. Prophets.

I have only been alive for the ministry of two prophets, Gordon B. Hinkley (whose grandfather, Ira, is coincidentally Arza's brother), and Thomas S. Monson. Although with how President Monson has been looking lately, it seems evident that I will have to add a third prophet there soon.

I was very young and ignorant when President Hinkley passed away. I hadn't yet become converted to the gospel. I had been baptized, but President Monson was the prophet of my conversion.

Of course other people influenced my conversion, but several key moments were given by President Monson.

In his opening address in the October 2011 General Conference, there were five new temples announced, including, Barranquilla, Colombia; Durban, South Africa; Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and Star Valley, Wyoming. He also announced that the Provo Tabernacle, which was severely damaged in a fire, would be refurbished and rededicated, but this time, as a temple.

I've never been to any of those first three places. I'm too white. But the Star Valley Temple was recently dedicated by Elder David A. Bednar. I've been to Star Valley plenty of times. Ran races there. Beautiful place. Once during my senior year, the track bus drove right past the nearly completed temple. The exterior was complete, and it was absolutely beautiful. Small, but beautiful.

It was also the first temple in Wyoming! My state! It was a testimony to me that the Lord is hastening his work. When he needs a temple in Wyoming, things are about to get real.

The Provo Tabernacle, now dedicated as the Provo City Center Temple, is the very same building where I had gone through to receive my endowments prior to my mission. As one of my non-member friends once put it, "It looks like a castle." It totally does and it was awesome.

I've talked more about that temple in a post I wrote before I left, so feel free to go read that one.

Both those temples have deepened my conversion. And both are in locations revealed to President Thomas S. Monson.

Another key moment in my conversion occurred the very next year, in the October 2012 General Conference.

President Monson got up, said a couple jokes, announced a couple temples which I'm  sure were important in someone else's conversion, and got right to the point. Missionary Work.

He then announced that the age at which young men could serve missions was now 18, and the age at which young women could serve missions was now 19.

This was monumental! I remember exactly where I was. I was sitting on the blue chair in the living room, watching the TV. (Mom, can you take a picture of it and put it up for a visual aid? Thanks)

[Elder Sorensen forgot that we got rid of the blue chair before he left on his mission, so I can't take a picture of it. This is a picture of Elder Sorensen's older brother with his mission call in the blue chair.]

In my memory, something was dropped, and pancakes were burnt, but I also have a very film-like memory. So not sure how much of that really happened, or how much I imagined so it seems cooler than it really is.

Regardless, I do remember that I was 14 years old. Suddenly, a mission wasn't a distant thing that I'd think about when I was nearing graduation. It was getting there. Those four years went by quick. That was the first moment I had really thought to myself that I would go on a mission.

And now, here I am. I don't even need to get into how preparing for a mission assisted in my conversion. I learned so much since I wanted to get ready. And I wasn't ready at all. If I hadn't prepared from that day, I would have likely been sent home by now. That preparation was so vital to me, and so imperative that I start right then.

But because I felt the power behind President Monson's words, I prepared.

Later, when I was sixteen, the Ogden Temple was rededicated. Since I was in that temple district, and a youth, I was involved in the cultural celebration for that. Shine the Light.

It was great. Great songs, great atmosphere, and great performance.

But the crux of that moment was the presence of the presiding authority. None other than Thomas S. Monson. I recall the very moment when he entered the room. Well, it wasn't actually a room. It was a stadium. The Dee Event Center.

Actually it wasn't even when he entered into the room. It was when he entered the building. We were all chatting and waiting for him and some of the Apostles (Elders Bednar and Holland) to arrive, when suddenly, a voice spoke to me.

It was exactly how you read about in the NewEra articles. A powerful voice that I didn't hear audibly, but emotionally. It spoke to the very center of my heart. And it told me something.

"The Prophet has just entered the building."

Several minutes later, the place went dead silent. None of the 16,000 teenagers present dared to talk, or cough, or even breathe. We all could feel the same overwhelming emotion. And we watched President Monson enter, and take his place on the stand they had set up on the floor. The Jumbotron didn't show him at first, it was a bit delayed, but we all knew exactly who it was. Because those of us further back had no way of seeing who it was.

I don't speak metaphorically when I say that you could hear a pin drop. Literally, if anybody dared to drop a pin, we'd all hear it.

The silent was only physical, as the spirit was speaking to every heart and testifying of the prophetic calling of the man who had just entered, and well as the apostolic calling of his comrades.

Then somebody started to sing. We all knew the song, so slowly, more and more people joined in a solemn yet rousing impromptu arrangement of We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet.

I've used a lot of big words to describe this experience, so to paraphrase for the common man, it was gnarly, dude.

That was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life, and is the most spiritual moment that I feel isn't too sacred to share. Since it was shared by 16,000 youth.

And it was all initiated by President Monson walking into a building.

On a piece of paper that I received in a tattered and torn envelope a day late, is a call to serve. The exact wording is as follows,

"Dear Elder Sorensen,

"You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints...

Thomas S. Monson

Whether he physically signed it, or whether he authorized another to do it for him, I don't know. Most likely the latter. But I was called on this mission by a prophet of God. One who I know without a single shard of doubt is the Lord's appointed prophet for these days.

As such, I echo the words of my ancestor.

Thomas Monson sent me to find the lost folks. I will find them, or give my life trying to find them.

To all who may be reading this, Mormon or not, I tell you this. God has called a prophet in these days. He called Moses is his day, Noah is his. Joseph Smith was called in his day. And Thomas S. Monson has been called in our day.

Would a loving God leave us, to be guided, a book that has gotten the telephone game performed on it countless times, and nothing else? Would a loving God leave us to ourselves to figure out what to do with all these modern issues like illegal drugs and pornography, relying on the vague wording in a nearly unread section in this aforementioned book?

Would a loving God close the heavens when they were open for ages, and never open them again without sufficient instructions for the complex and delicate situations we face today?

No! No to all of the above! A loving God would open the heavens, and pour out light and truth! He would have continued revelation. He would give us clear instructions and plain doctrine.

There is a God in Heaven, who is a loving God. A loving God who has done all those things. He's called prophets to be the conduit for our reception of light and truth. There's no doubt of this truth that there is a Prophet of God on the earth today.

-Elder Sorensen

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Who Are We?

Who Are We?

I've kind of been stuck on updating my blog lately. Not pressed for time, but pressed for topic. The other topics I've considered, they'll likely be written eventually, but I felt as though this one was especially important.

I guess part of my choice hinged on the realization that not just me, but most people my age have a struggle with this very thing.

Most of my concerns when I first got to Las Vegas was not learning to teach or navigating the area, but of changing. I was honestly terrified of the change that would occur within me. Namely, changing into somebody I don't want to become.

And I didn't want to stay the same person I was when I left. You're supposed to change on a mission, right? As much as I enjoyed the person I was when I left, I'm supposed to change.

But I got to thinking. I'm not so much that person who I was anymore, and the person who I'll be in twenty something months is not even close to who I am.

So who am I?

Now this is a common conflict that many people right out of high school experience, and I didn't realize that until a friend of mine expressed in an email that concern to me.

And this isn't something that I want to take lightly. Finding out who we are is a very important thing to do. And the earlier we can figure it out, the earlier we can start to be that person.

The question of who we are is a really difficult one to pin down. Because everybody is so unique and so complex, it's nearly impossible to find out exactly when you know who you are. And as such, it's even more impossible to know where to start.

But let's start.

Now keep in mind I don't know who I really am at all. I'm eighteen years old, I'm fresh out of high school, I barely know what I'm doing, and I'm in Las Vegas teaching people about Jesus.

So I'm just as confused if not more confused about all this than anybody. But I'll be brainstorming throughout writing this.

Also remember that I started writing this a very long time before It gets posted. Since technically this is a letter home, and I'm only allowed to do that on P-Day, it may take a while to create enough coherent thoughts to constitute a proper blog post.

But I realized recently that who I am, isn't who I will be. Finding out who you are is the process. When you have room and time to grow as a person, you eventually express that person who you were all along.

And my concerns were mostly rooted in what other missionaries said. Things like "you won't think like this by the end of your mission" and "you're not even going to worry about that by the end of your mission". I mean, I understand their intentions, but the fact that they made assumptions about me based on their own experience was admittedly a little offensive to me.

See, one thing I've learned so far about myself is that I'm stubborn. I don't like it when people tell me what I should or will do. Something about it makes me actually less likely to do it.

But the thing that I realized was who was saying these things. 18 to 20 year olds. People who were spiritually more mature than me, true, but the people they are is not the person I will be.

Tip #1: Don't let people tell you who you should be. It won't be you, and you won't be happy.

Don't get me wrong, I really value the advise of others. Their whole reason for sharing it is to help me. But I value more a piece of advice my mom gave me. And this was after my first breakup. She told me that lots of people would try to give me advise throughout my life. Especially at that time.

She said that most of it is going to be garbage. Maybe not in those words, I'm paraphrasing here. She told me to consider the advise people give you, and use your own opinion to decide to use it.

What do most people say to define themselves? Sometimes a career, a name, a legacy, that smart-alec in the Young Men's quorum would say a child of God. All those are great. But I've noticed many people, when asked who they are, say their talents. Maybe not outright, but they say it.

"I'm a musician." That's an easy one. You're good with music. You can sing and play instruments. You can probably list every song in every one of a certain artist albums. You remember off the top of your head that Taylor Swift was born December 7, 1989 (this is other people who aren't me of course).

I consider myself a musician. I've found that I have a talent and passion for music. Singing, the piano, the saxophone, the ukulele. I also consider myself as a runner. I ran a five-minute mile, which people tell me is impressive.

I also call myself a writer. I wrote a novel for crying out loud! Does that count for something? People tell me it's good.

Tip #2: Find out what it is that you are good at.

We developed our personalities and talents in the premortal existence. So therefore, if we know we grow into that person over time, then we really never change. We just become who we always were, and who we're meant to be.

That's really the whole point of all this, isn't it? To become who we were always meant to be? That's why we came to this earth! That's why we're here on this big blue rock! To become who we were meant to be. And who is that?

Well we'll look into now, who we can become. The scriptures teach us that we are here to become like God. To become perfect.

Christ commanded that we be perfect, even as our Father in Heaven is perfect. And from Nephi's experience with the brass plates, we learn that the Lord gives no commandments unto the children of men, save he prepare a way to accomplish it.

So therefore, if being perfect is a commandment, than there has to be a way to be so, otherwise God would be a liar and cease to be God.

I hold to the belief that our own unique personalities and talents will persist until the end of time (I use the term loosely because there is no end of time, just as there is no beginning of time). Who we were before we arrived on this earth is only different than who we will be in a few ways. Namely, we will be perfected, where we weren't before.

"Now hold on!" I hear you say, "My flaws are what make me me! If I wasn't imperfect, I wouldn't be who I am! If I'll be perfect, I'll be somebody else!" That's right, I can even hear you from here, Mr. Disembodied Voice.

To you I say, what flaws are there that you don't want to have gone? Yes, some people see naivety and clumsiness as endearing and as a personality trait. Just as much a part of them as anything else. To which I agree. But consider this.

Our mortal flaws, are not us at all. Who we are is often thought to be our soul, the spirit and the body together. When just the body has an imperfection, the whole should does not have that.

If you put a glove on your hand that has a hole in it, that hole is not part of your hand, nor it is part of you. Rather, it is a hole in an imperfect glove.

The hole can be mended, and therefore, the imperfection gone. After it's mended, you can still see and feel the stitching. You can still see where there used to be an imperfection. But it's been reinforced and strengthened.

Ether 12:27
"If men come unto me, I will show unto them their weaknesses...then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

Our flaws, can still be part of us, but they can be mended by the Mender himself. They will then be strong.

Yes those flaws will still be part of your past. Your life is absolutely, 100% unique. Those memories will be there or who you were, as you are who you were always meant to be.

Think for a second about a sandwich. Don't worry, this is going somewhere. You take two slices of white bread, and put peanut butter and jelly on them, in whatever way you do it. What do you call what you have?

Now think you have the same two slice of bread. Or a different two slices, since you ate the first sandwich. You put tuna on this bread. What do you call that?

Now say you have the last two slices of bread. And one of them is the heel. Don't worry though, pretend you're one of the chosen ones who actually see the heel as what it is: the best piece. So you take these two slices of bread, and put bacon,lettuce, and tomato on them. Maybe some mayo, maybe some mustard. Whatever else you like. What do you call that?

Do you sense a theme here? A peanut butter and jelly sandwich. A tuna sandwich. A BLT. No matter what kind of bread is on the outside, you call the sandwich by what's inside.

You don't call a sandwich that's ham and cheese on wheat bread, a wheat sandwich. First, that sounds terrible. Second, why on earth would you call who you are by what's on the outside?

People don't say the very first thing about them, "I'm white" (especially if they're not white). First, we can clearly see that you are in fact, that. Second, that's not what matters. Even when you lose the bread and are resurrected with perfect slices of bread: lightly toasted Grandma Sycamore's white bread, you're still the same sandwich. Just better and perfect.

And if we can't see what kind of goodies are inside, why not ask the person who put together the sandwich? He knows. He made the sandwich. And he made it exactly how he wanted it to be. If he wanted a PB&J, he wouldn't make a turkey and swiss.

Same is true for you. If He needed you to be funnier and smarter, he would have made you funnier and smarter. But he didn't. So he needed you as you are. We just need to realize who we are, and the best way to do that is through a long process of prayer, study, and pondering.

Tip #3: Don't judge a sandwich by its bread.

Finally, we need to consider our fruits. Christ says that we'll know them by their fruits. So people will know you according to what you've accomplished in this life.

My uncle recently passed away. Sadly, I was unable to go to the funeral, but from what I hear, there were all the many children's books that he had written throughout his life displayed. That was his legacy. I don't know what people talked about at the funeral, but I'm sure they talked about his life, his accomplishments, his struggles and subsequent successes.

What legacy do you want? What do you want people to talk about at your funeral? What fruits do you want to bear? Do you want people to remember you as a kind hearted person? A fun loving person?

What would they talk about if you were to (heaven forbid) die tomorrow? Is that okay with you?

I've got it set. I die tomorrow, everybody talks about how spiritual I was because what I was doing was serving the Lord when I died.

What are the things that will be your fruits? Your fruits are you. They show others who you are, and they can show you who you are.

Tip #4: Consider your legacy.

So who are we? Why don't we ask the person who made us? And while we're at it, let's ask Him to help us become better.

I'm slowly discovering who I am. As well as who I can become. But who that is, is a thought for another time.

For the time being, just find out who you are. And be the heck out of them!

[Elder Sorensen wrote this post on October 17th.]

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Hardest Thing Ever

My companion in the MTC was an Elder W. We got along fine, but it was only a few days in during companion study that he broke down.

He was saying that he didn’t feel right, and that he had made some wrong choices that he hadn’t repented of.

And thus began a long process of interviews for him, and patience for me. As it turns out, the MTC authorities were trying to decide if he would stay a missionary. They finally passed judgment on to a General Authority, (who that was, I’ve no idea) and it came down to a week before we leave the MTC. That Sunday, he got called in at dinner by the district president to meet, but he was told to eat first.

So we ate, and headed over. As we walked, Elder W wanted to say a prayer as we walked. He walked calmly and quietly, and the prayer he said went something like this, “Father, I don’t want to go home, but thy will be done.”

Naturally, my mind went to his quoted scripture. As Christ suffered, he asked that the Father take this cup from him, but “nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done.”

Well, the district president, for one reason or another, wasn’t around, so we decided to go back in the morning.

That night, we all in the zone decided to bring all the food our families and girlfriends had sent us into the hall, and have a feast.

Someone mentioned that it’s like the Last Supper, a reference to the missionaries leaving that next morning or week.

How hard must it have been to feast with the Savior, as he tells you that this is the last time you eat together?

As we went to sleep that night, Elder W told us about his life, stories, and miracles he saw.

He said that this will likely be the last night he spends with us. He bore testimony of the Atonement and God’s love. I recall thinking, “No, No you’ll stay here. You have a repentant heart, and you’ll stay here.”

It was likely very similar for the Apostles of Christ. Did they hear Christ say how he had very little time left on Earth, and say “No. You won’t die. God wouldn’t do that to you. You’ve done nothing wrong.”

The next morning, we woke up normally, and went to class. In that class, we talked about the Holy Spirit. In John 14:26-27, it says:

26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 

“27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

How comforting! Knowing that that friend, and that leader would leave you some help! That the Spirit would remain.

At 9, before class was out, Elder W and I had to leave in order to have the meeting. And there I waited, in the secretary’s office. How did Christ’s disciples have the power to wait for him? Sure, they fell asleep, but how? The anticipation, and the concern for their friend must have been immense.

After about half an hour, Elder W left the room, looking solemn. He told me that he had to go pack his bags. He would leave that afternoon.

We walked back to the dorm, the other Elders were in class still.

Elder W first took down the pictures of his family and girlfriend, and then all the little notes of encouragement he’d written himself.

When you watch someone take down their motivation, it can be hard. And it was. Each one he’d look at briefly, then hand it to me to be put in his bag.

Then I made the connection I’ve been making throughout this writing. How hard must it have been to watch Jesus Christ, your friend, leader, and Savior, carry that heavy wooden cross up the hill to Golgotha? Did the disciples in the crowd cry?

Had they any idea what he had just done for them the night before?

As we packed, we were silent. I felt as close to the Savior as ever before.

How did the Apostles feel, knowing that the Savior had been betrayed, and was marching to his death?

His body bruised, his back whipped, his head decorated with thorns?

Being mocked, spat upon, beaten, betrayed, denied, and brought lower than any man had ever been and would ever be after that?

Then to see him have nails driven into his hands and his feet. Be lifted up on a cross, and watch him cry out, “It is done,” and die.

What I felt today was only a fraction of what the Apostles felt. And what the Apostles felt was only a fraction of what Christ felt.

I couldn’t imagine what was going through Elder W’s mind as he filled those red bags with the life he’d known for only a few weeks.

After the other Elders returned from class, he gathered us all up, all twelve in the district, including Elder W and myself, and told us what was happening.

We cried, he testified, we said goodbye.

Then Elder W and I left to check for mail, and eat lunch, before he was to go to meet his parents to take him home.

As the other Elders going to Las Vegas helped him carry his bags, he told us in at least 6 months, he’d be allowed to join us on the mission again.

I recalled helping him pack, and neatly folding his shirts and pants.

I have heard a story of a Jewish custom (I’m not sure if it’s true or not*), where a master is eating and the servant waits for him. When the master is finished, he takes his cloth napkin, crumples it up, and throws it by the plate as he leaves. This signals to the servant to begin cleaning up the meal.

However, if the master is not finished, if he just has business elsewhere, he neatly folds the cloth.

This signals the servant to continue waiting, as the master will return.

I thought of this as Elder W folded his clothes neatly. He’s not done, he’s coming back.

There’s another who did this. When the tomb where Christ’s body was lain was found open, the cloth used to cover him was found neatly folded and placed aside.

The Master will return.

Throughout the scriptures, stories are told to cause readers to see the similarities to Christ.

These similitudes include Abraham and Issac, Joseph of Egypt, and Moses.

And why would God not continue with these stories? There’s no doubt that Elder W was made my companion in order to teach me about the suffering and Atonement of Christ.

I don’t mean to blaspheme, but I feel as though Elder W is a similitude of Christ in this sense.

And just as Elder W will return to join us in Las Vegas, The Master, The Redeemer, and The Savior Jesus Christ will return to join us in the final day.

While he suffered, he did it for us. While he died, he did it for us. I cry as I contemplate The Atonement of Jesus Christ. I’ve felt it’s power, and I’ve felt the love of Christ.

And Elder W, see you in Vegas.

- Elder Nathaniel Sorensen

*Elder Sorensen asked me to fact check this story. There is no record of the custom, other than internet stories. However, the important fact is that this connection made an impression on Elder Sorensen, and is thus important to the post.

U.B.U. - Aug 8, 2016

      The MTC is a terrible place. I totally hate being here.

      Don’t get me wrong, I love the other elders in my district, and I love the food, but this place is a freaking prison!

      What I hate is the crowd. Growing up in Wyoming conditions you for very uncrowded places, and every meal stresses me out.

      But like I said, I love the elders in my district. We have 12 missionaries, all either going to the Las Vegas West Mission, or the California Rancho Cucamonga Mission.

      There’s Elders J and S, O and C, myself and Elder W in my room. In the room right next to us is Elders S and C, J and P, and H and C.

      There was a day in class where we were working on teaching about the Restoration in 30 seconds. Chaos. Don’t let that ever happen. We weren’t focused on anything.

      But eventually, Elder S suggested we say a prayer to get focused, and so we did.

      Let me tell you, seminary teachers, Sunday School teachers, parents, or even legit anybody, a prayer is a terrific way to get back focused. But that ain’t the point.

      After the prayer, we started talking about how we can improve the quick lesson.

      We thought of things, like, keep it focused on Christ, how we should connect the points, things like that.

      Eventually we threw out that they need to be in our own words, not the words in Preach My Gospel.

      I then said how important I feel it is to speak in our own words. How we all have specific talents and ideas that God needs in our specific mission.

      There will be at least one person in Vegas who needs to hear what Elder Sorensen says, how Elder Sorensen says it.

      We came up with the saying U.B.U., the title of this post. U.B.U., as in “I’ll be me and you be you”, shows pretty well how we should be as not just missionaries, but as members of the church.

      Don’t worry if someone else is better at something than you are. You’re good at things that you’re good at because God needs you to be good at those things. And trust me, you’re good at things.

      U.B.U. Don’t be anyone else.

      If God needed you to be somebody else, He would have made you that person.

      So find your strengths, improve your weaknesses, and U.B.U.

      I’ll be chatting with you later. Please write me! I love hearing from people!

      - Elder Sorensen

P.S. Don't worry, Elder Sorensen is not accessing the internet to post this blog. He mails it to his mother and she types it up and posts it. If you are interested in writing to him, you can send mail to him at:

Elder Nathaniel Arza Sorensen
4455 Allen Ln Ste 140
North Las Vegas NV 89031-2229

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Farewell Talk

I had my mission farewell yesterday. This is a copy of the talk I gave. This isn't a transcript because I didn't record it, but for the most part, I stuck to this. The testimony at the end however is written for this, as I always bear testimony as I speak. So I don't remember exactly what I said.

If you'll direct your attention to the right of the screen, you will see my contact information for the next two years. Please don't get crazy writing me, because my mission president won't like that and I won't like that.

Kind of a bitter-sweet moment for me, seeing a lot of my friends for the last time in a while, but oh well. No turning back now.

I've attached the scriptures as links to, so you can get what I'm talking about. I didn't want to type up all fourteen verses or whatever.

Here it is!

. . .

I was asked to speak today on Faith in Christ. In His life, the way Christ lived and the things he did taught His disciples to have faith in His name. So throughout my talk, I’ll be sharing stories from the New Testament from the life of Christ.

One lesson that Christ taught was that He has power to protect us from danger. In the book of Mark, chapter 4, (4:35-41). We have certain storms in all of our lives. Whatever they are, Christ has the power to calm these storms. We have no reason to fear our trials when we have faith that Christ is able to do so.

He also taught this lesson to Peter. In Matthew 14. (14:22-33). The adversary is constantly on the attack, wanting to drag us deep into the waters and destroy us. Notice how after Peter says, “Lord, save me”, the next verse mentions that immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand. He didn’t wait at all. Christ didn’t hesitate to save Peter the moment he called out. When we are getting pulled down, we can have faith that if we call out to Christ, he will immediately stretch forth his hand.

Christ also can comfort us in times of need. He taught in Matthew 11, (11:28-30). He is always standing with his hands outstretched, ready to comfort us. And as soon as we come unto Christ, He will give us comfort.

A couples years ago, I had a really rough few days. Everything, in my eyes, was going wrong, and I was putting more effort into not breaking down in public than into anything else. There was one day that when I got home, I broke down into tears because my life was going terribly. Soon I decided to kneel down and pray for comfort. And almost immediately, before I even stood up, I felt that comfort that I had just prayed for. It was a great feeling, especially compared to how I felt the past few days.Christ didn’t take away my trials from me, or even move me away from more. But from that first moment, I had faith that if it ever became too much for me to handle, Christ will comfort me.

Christ wants our happiness. Don’t forget that he made those same baptismal covenants as we did to mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.

Christ taught also that when we have faith in Him, and rely on Him, we won’t need anything else. He taught this in John 6:35. “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst”.

He also taught this to a group of five thousand. In John chapter 6 (6:5-14). Not only was five loaves and two fish not nearly enough to feed that many, but it definitely was impossible to have leftovers. However, that small amount of food feed them all, and the rest filled twelve baskets. It’s amazing how Christ can manage to take something that seems like not nearly enough, and make it, not only sufficient, but more than enough. When we rely on Christ and put our faith in Him, we’ll always have just what we need and just when we need it.

Christ has the power to heal us, no matter what our affliction is. But unless we have faith in His power, we can’t be healed. Those who exercised faith in Christ were able to have them and those around them healed.

In Matthew 8, it reads, (8:5-8,10,13). This centurion didn’t even feel that he was worthy to have the Son of God even in his house, something I feel many people share. However, Christ saw the faith of this man, and healed the servant.

Another story is found in Mark chapter 5 (5:25-34). This woman didn’t turn to Christ very first. In verse 26, it says that she “had spent all that she had, and nothing bettered, but rather grew worse.” She tried everything she could think to do. Turning to Christ was probably her very last option. And yet, even though she had given up all she had to be made whole, simply touching the clothes of the Savior was enough to heal her. This woman showed faith that Christ was not only to heal her, but that only touching his clothes would suffice. And notice what Christ told her made her whole. Her faith.

Not only are people physically healed by faith, but free from their sins too. In the book of Enos, after a long repentance session, Enos wrote, (Enos 1:5-8). So we had a servant who didn’t need Christ to be present to be healed, a woman who didn’t have to do anything more than touch Christ’s clothes to be healed, and now there’s Enos. Who was made whole before Christ was even born. They all were made whole because they had faith that it was possible.

It may sometimes feel as though our sins are too great to be made clean of them, but if we come unto Christ, with faith in Him, we can be made whole from whatever it may be. There is not a single person in this room that Christ’s hand is not stretched out to. He wants us to come unto Him to be rescued or comforted or healed. But if we don’t have faith that He can do so, and if we don’t come unto Him, we can’t have those blessings.

No matter what it is we need, whether it be comfort, or healing, or protection, Christ can provide. We only need to have faith that he is able to. Christ suffered for us out of pure love. He lives today and leads us through His Church.

And I say these things in His name: Jesus Christ. Amen.

. . .

Not much more to say except, I'll still be updating this blog from the mission field. So keep an eye out for those.

See ya'll in two!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What's Going On??!!??

On Friday, I went through the temple to take out my endowments. Now you probably expect me to get all teary eyed and bear a powerful testimony of how amazing the temple is. Go ahead. Expect it.

Or maybe not. I don't own you.

However, I can't do that. I mean, yeah, it was a cool experience, but nothing to mention on Fast Sunday. No, for the most part, the feeling was confusion. What's going on? What do I do next? Somebody please help me. I'm not ready to adult! Where can I go to cry?

Luckily the temple workers were very helpful. I'm sure they get this all the time, even from members who go through very often.

After I left the temple, my first thought was, "Jeez, Provo is hot". The second was, "Why didn't I feel like I probably should? I'm supposed to feel the Spirit hit me like a bus. What gives?"

It took me a while to find that out. And here's what I've discovered. I was focused too much on what was physically happening that I didn't notice all the symbolism and stuff. I can think of maybe one of two moments where I could feel something.

Now before you scoff saying that nobody can possibly be this dim-witted, all the while tromping away mumbling how your father will hear about this, hear me out!

I don't think that's a bad thing. And I don't think I'm just justifying being stupid. If I am, someone will let me know. If you're questioning if that's your job, it's not your job.

I don't think focusing on only what's physically happening is bad. I still have a pretty decent memory of the experience, and I've pieced together one or two things since. Not to mention the few things I felt from when I went. So I've definitely learned a bit.

Unlike in Political Science

But we can't just focus on the symbolism all the time. I'm sure anywhere who's been in some kind of advanced English class (or basic English class; I don't know what you peasants do in those) will know how studying a novel can give you a Dickens of a time trying to find out what it means. (I punned!!)
"Bah Punbug"

Before you can even begin to understand that Lenny is supposed to symbolize childlike wonder and innocence, you gotta understand what's going on first. You gotta read the book before you understand it. And SparkNotes ain't gonna cut it.

If you're thinking reasonably and like a normal person, you won't try to stock your mind-brain full of everything possible the very first time.

As mortal beings, we have very limited memories, and very limited minds. It's impossible to know everything about everything in this life. But that's okay.

While there's a lot we have to learn, we literally have all the time in the world to learn it. Knowledge doesn't die with us; it continues to grow and progress until it's perfect.

I suppose this revelation was a bit of a comfort to me in many other aspect. As I'm writing this post, I have a little over a week until I report to the Provo MTC. And recently I've been getting terrified. I'm not smart! Sure I've learned quite a bit from seminary and institute, but certainly not enough to go out and tell people that they ought to repent and join our church.

I feel like some people expect me to be totally ready to go on a mission. Whether that's true or not, I have no idea. But it doesn't change the fear I have. I feel pressure to be perfect and to have a perfect testimony.

But spoiler alert: I have no idea what's going on most of the time!!

Going through the temple kind of solidified for me my lack of knowledge of what is going on. However, as I've pondered and prayed, I've discovered that that's okay. Not only is it okay, but that's to be expected.

None of us is supposed to know what's going on! None of us is supposed to fit our own expectations. We are, however, supposed to be trying. We're supposed to be learning, and growing. Accepting that we're not perfect, but all the while striving to become that.

You won't become perfect overnight. No, that'll take a lot longer. But you'll grow throughout those little things. Each day, you'll learn a bit more, and grow a bit more. Eventually you'll make it. Don't fret. It'll all work out.


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Tattered and Torn and A Day Late

This weekend, I received my mission call to the Nevada Las Vegas West Mission.

I received it on Saturday, opened it on Sunday. And when I got it on Saturday, I was pretty antsy. I had expected it that week or the next, and so I figured I'd get it any day now.

And so, I decided to stake out for the mailman on Saturday. I went outside, reading a book, so the second the mailman walked by, I knew what he had.

And among those was not my mission call. Rather than give up and go back inside, I stayed outside with my Harry Potter book (I guess it wasn't my book, I was borrowing a friend's).

About thirty minutes later, the mailman returns, and hands me this:

As you can see, it's beaten up. He tells me it was delivered to the wrong house a block away. As you can see, the envelope is beaten up and torn in places, and the adhesive on the seal was beginning to give.

But it arrived nonetheless. It was tattered and torn and a day late, but it had arrived. And I couldn't have been happier to see it.

On Sunday after church, I opened it. Seeing the state of disrepair the envelope was in, but the way the letter and the packet were unharmed caused me to think of what Christ thinks when we come to Him, tattered, torn, and a day late.

He doesn't look at us with disgust and disdain. He doesn't get upset that we arrived in this poor condition. He doesn't have a desire to send us back to get a new one that looks better.

We may be beaten up, with cuts and bruises. We may have procrastinated coming to Him, thinking we'll be alright. We may have gone to all the wrong places, finally exhausting all other options. Everywhere else has denied us and rejected us.

We may have even wanted to come to this point, but have been worried about what He would say, and what He would do. However, we shouldn't be worried. Because only He can tear off the dirty, torn envelope, to reveal our true nature as something direct from God.

He does not reject us, He rejoices with us. He's not disappointed, He's discussing all the possibilities in the future. He doesn't see us as freaks, He sees us as friends.

He takes us as we are, and shows us what we are, what's inside of us. And what's inside of us is cause for celebration. Our divine origin and divine potential is just absolutely beautiful.

I love this thought.



I'm excited for all the lessons I'll both teach and learn in the Nevada Las Vegas West Mission. I'm excited to meet the members and nonmembers. I'm just excited for this chance to serve the Lord as a missionary.

Now, I should inform you that I will be changing the name of this blog. Seeing how I'll no longer be a youth, I've decided to change the name before I leave on my mission.

I will still update this from Nevada, as I've seen so many people grateful for the writing I've done, and I generally enjoy writing this. Not to worry, I'll ensure that those who often read this will still see when I update, as all I'll do is change the title.

The next time I update my blog, it'll be by this new name, which I've yet to decide on. Just keep an eye out for it.