Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Staying with Elder Guzman

Hello Everyone,

The transfer calls came in last night and the verdict is....
Apparently this is really weird  None of the missionaries have ever heard of a missionary who just finished getting trained staying with his companion/trainer for a third transfer, especially since Elder Guzman has already been in this area for 6 months.  Usually missionaries get trained with the 12 week program (2 transfers) and then they get "follow-up trained" by another companion for 1 transfer.  When the Assistants called us last night they said, "We've been fasting and praying about it and we really feel like you guys need to stay right where you are".  I know that Elder Guzman and I are going to have a lot of success this transfer.
So the most interesting things that have happened this week were all in the last 24 hours.
We just got back from the temple which was awesome.  We get to go 4 times a year and everyone in our district went.   We met lots of other missionaries too.  The Sacramento Temple is so beautiful and I love it.  It reminds me a lot of the Bountiful temple, which is my favorite.
Yesterday was a very very interesting day.  Elder Guzman and I were saving up our miles (since we can only drive the car a specified number of miles every month) so we could go to the temple.  We decided to bike around yesterday since it wasn't going to be too hot.  It's a lot of fun because you can stop and talk to people as you're en route to your destination.  So anyway, we were waiting at a light to cross the street and we noticed this old looking lady standing at a bus stop.  We didn't think anything of it until we turned around later and she was walking toward us but when we looked she immediately stopped moving.  The light turned green and we kept going on our bikes.  We went a few miles and stopped to talk to these people that flagged us down.  We talked with them for about 30 minutes and eventually this same lady showed up and stopped walking in front of these people's houses when she saw us.  She didn't respond when the guy asked her what she wanted and just stood there.  Eventually we went back to our conversation and I turned around after a little bit and she had taken a few steps but stopped when she saw me looking.  I started talking to her and she started talking to us and then it became weird.  She randomly asked the guy if he had a daughter and when he said yes she asked "what is she afraid of?" (which she asked a few times). She also told us not to listen to the man who turns in to a bat because he's a bad man. She told us that one of the people we were talking to us had a great work to accomplish and the other was a high priest.  She told us we were good people and the daughter of the man we were talking to was an angel.  She was talking to us about the lost scrolls that Joseph Smith found and also the angel Moroni.  She told us she had spoken to an angel but then when I asked her who the angel was she said "whoops, I shouldn't have said anything about that, he's going to be mad at me". It was really weird.  Eventually we left and we continued our conversation with the family.
Later in the day we were near one of our investigators houses and when we knocked on the door a lady answered who used to be in investigator but she told us how she told the missionaries never to come back because they had made really offense jokes about her and her family.  When she told us the missionaries name we called him because we had never heard anything less than the best about this guy.  He told us that the lady we talked to was a witch and that we needed to be really careful with the people that live there.  He told us he had a really personal/bad experience with her and he didn't want to talk about it but she had just misunderstood something he said in Spanish about "casting pearls before swine".  Anyway, I had never heard anything about witches before besides what I learned about witches in Salem, Massachusetts in history classes.  My companions told that there are a ton of them out here in Sacramento and that it's a real religion and I don't want to talk about it too much because there have been a lot of bad encounters with missionaries in the mission and bad things some witches do and it just a bad spirit.  I had no idea about any of this before last night but when they were telling me about it last night the Spirit definitely left and they told me it's not a good idea to talk about it so I'm going to stop now.
So later in the night we were going to sleep and we were all about asleep when we heard a gunshot right outside our apartment.  It was really loud and really close so we called 911 and they sent some people over there to check it out.  It was already midnight and we were getting up at 4am to go to the temple so we went to sleep quickly after that and never found out what became of it.
Other news:
Elder Guzman and I found a really cool family called Familia Garcia this week.  We got their referral from some Elders a few weeks ago.  We had talked to two of their kids but we went by on Saturday and the parents were outside and we talked to them for a while.  They were really really cool and extremely interested in what we had to say.  We talked about prophets, apostles, tithing, priesthood, missionaries, bishops, the restoration, pretty much everything that we talk about as missionaries.  They are going to be an awesome family that we will go back and teach on Saturday.
Familia Guzman has unfortunately not been progressing.  Yesterday I had the idea that we should write them letters bearing our testimonies about things we knew to be true.  We knew that either one of us could be leaving the next day because of transfers so we wrote them as if we were telling them everything we would want to say to them if we got up and left tomorrow.  They were really busy when we went by at the end of the day so we just gave them the letters and told them to read them later.  That same night, right after we got our call from the APs telling us if we were staying or not, Hermano Guzman called us crying and said he felt really bad and that he didn't want us to leave.  We told him we just found out we were both staying (which neither of us expected) and he was SOOO happy about that.  Hermano Guzman is so awesome and he knows the church is true.  He just has trouble keeping his commitments but I know everything is turning around from what happened yesterday and his family will get baptized this month!
I forgot to mention about what happened last Sunday.  We had a really special Church all about Missionary Work.  Our mission president and one of his counselors (who speaks Spanish) came down to help us.  President Lewis, President Martinez, and Bishop Clegg all gave some of the most amazing talks I have ever heard and the Spirit was definitely there.  President Martinez taught all the adults for the next 2 hours and President and Sister Lewis talked to the youth since they all speak English.  It was one of the coolest experiences I have had as a missionary.  I know our ward is going to change and help us a ton as missionaries from now on.  Between the 4 companionships in our ward we got 47 member referrals which is awesome! We also had a missionary musical fireside that night and I sang "We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet" a capella with some other missionaries and "Nearer My God to Thee" (but in Spanish) with all the Spanish missionaries, except I did a solo and sang one of the verses by myself. It went really well!

Sorry this letter is so long but I hope I didn't bore anyone! I love you all and hope all is well!

Los Quiero,
Elder Gaskill

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sports Injuries

I hope everyone is doing well! Right now I can't think of anything that happened this past week because we just got done playing basketball and I got hit pretty hard in the head.  I'm sure it will all come back to me as I try and think about it for a little while.

We did more exchanges this week since this transfer is about to end and I probably had one of my best days of the mission with Elder Luttrell.  We went to visit a girl named Catarina and she is really cool.  She's really hard to find because she's an awesome soccer mom (but for kids that play football).  She loves talking to the missionaries even though her catholic husband calls her a traitor for talking to us.  She says she loves everything we say and knows it's true.  We caught her that day as she was about to leave.  She told us come back tomorrow but she wanted us to go see her younger brother and his girlfriend who are about to have a baby.  We went over there and talked to them.  They are really cool and want our help in making their home a nice place where God has a big role to play in their soon to be son's life.  We also had this lesson with a 14 year old kid named Juan, his mom, and his friend Luiz who is 11.  They were really interested in everything we said and said they want to be baptized and come to church and everything.  They really liked me too because I like to play soccer and I guess I work really well with kids which makes sense because I love kids.  Right when we were about to leave another neighbor kid came over and found out I played soccer and that we play every Thursday and asked me if I would come talk to his dad.  So we went over to his house and talked to his dad.  The dad was really impressed with us because his son doesn't listen to anything he says but he saw his son sit still for over an hour listening to the message that we shared.  We played soccer the next day (Thursday) and everything went really well and the kids were pretty good soccer players! I got to talking to the 3 kids’ dads (3 different dads) and I got them to open up and talk to the missionaries.  They said they wanted to keep coming and playing soccer.  Elder Luttrell and I had a lot of success.  Too bad it wasn't in my area.

This week we did a lot of service at a store called "Second Chance Thrift Store" where a lot of people donate items, the store sells the items, and then they use all the money to buy food that they give to the homeless people out of the back door.  We've been going there a lot to help sort through all the items that people donate.  It was a lot of fun.  There is a mountain of bags about 15 feet high and 50 feet wide so I decided to climb up to the middle and then dig a hole all the way down to the bottom, sorting through all the bags on my way down.  It was a lot of fun except there was a lot of dust so I was sneezing a lot.  The best part about the service is this place gets donations of food that they give to the homeless people as well.  When they get perishable food that they can't give away in time they call us and we come pick it up! So we get lots of food for our investigators that don't have very much money to buy food and we get a little bit of food ourselves.

A kid about 12 years old asked me if I was Mexican this week and I just replied "Do I look Mexican?" to which he said "No, but you speak Spanish really well so I thought you were Mexican".  So the good news is my Spanish is slowly but surely increasing!

From the Work standpoint of things it's not going too well right now.  Familia Guzman didn't come to church this past week because the hermano was working in the pulga and we didn't have anyone else come to church either.  We're still working at it though.  Hopefully I'll have some good news on that next week.

This is the last week of the transfer so next week Elder Guzman will probably be leaving and I will probably be staying and getting a new companion but you never know, we'll find out for sure next Monday night! I won't be emailing until Tuesday next week because it's a transfer week.

I kind of had a couple minor injuries this past week but I'm used to getting beat up when I play sports so it hasn't been bad.  It's been very very hot though and I haven't enjoyed that.
Well that's about all I have to report on! I hope everyone is doing well at home!

Los Quiero!
-Elder Gaskill

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Another Great Week in Stockton

Hello Everybody!
This week has been pretty great! I went on exchanges twice this week so on Wednesday I was in East's area and everything went great.  We added a new investigator named Oscar who is really cool.  He is a "searcher" for sure and wants us to help him quit drinking.  We asked him to pick up the Book of Mormon every time he's tempted to pick up a magazine with bad things and he said he would do that as well.  He also wants to come to church but wants to wait until he works in his new job a few weeks so he has money to buy nice clothes to wear to church.  He is awesome.
On Thursday I was on exchanges in the zone leader's area with Elder Nicolls.  We had an awesome day.  We found a new lady named Victoria and committed her to be baptized at the end of June and she accepted.  It sounds like all her family is LDS except her (she's about 50).  She wants to be baptized and learn more about the gospel and the plan of salvation.  It was really cool to be with one of the zone leaders because they are both awesome missionaries.  I also realized what a blessing it is to have a good ward to serve in.   The work is 10x better when the members are helpful (which we are trying to work on in our ward right now since a lot of the ward is inactive or works a lot). 

Friday we had a very interesting experience.  The Delta East elders and us got food from a Chinese Restaurant for dinner and then went to eat it at a park in a nice neighborhood in our area.  About 2 minutes after we sat down this thug looking guy came up to us and started asking us for lighters.  He was already extremely high and he asked each of us about 10 times if we had lighters and we told him we didn't.  Eventually this pregnant lady walked by with her husband and 2 year old and he asked her if she had a lighter and she got really mad and yelled at him so he started yelling really vulgar/rude things at her and then he wanted me to come with him to yell at her (I think, I couldn't quite understand what he wanted).  When I told him "no" he got really mad and punched a tree and then was telling us to look at his hand and what kind of damage it could do.  Elder Guzman said that we had to go so everyone got up and as I was putting my food away he came up behind me, grabbed my food, walked back to where he was, and threw it down on the table.  When that happened, some red sauce that was all over the food got all over my companion.  I was really frustrated and got up from the table.  My companions thought I was going to fight the kid but I was just really frustrated.  I started walking to the car and everyone followed me, including the thug guy.  I tried to have everyone get in the car quickly and then lock the door but Elder Torres was too slow so this guy opened the passenger door and didn't want us to leave but eventually I convince him to close the door and to go back and eat the rest of my food that he took, so he did.  That was a really interesting experience.
We had a really awesome lesson with familia Guzman last night.  Hermano Guzman hasn't been able to come to church because he has to work in the flea market to pay his bills and provide for his family.  I promised him that if he stopped working there on Sundays that the Lord would provide him and his family with a way to have everything they needed.  He told us he would stop working on Sundays and come to church with us! We just need to get them to church one more time, get them married, and then they can get baptized! I love this family a lot.  They really like us too and Hermano Guzman has been praying that neither my companion nor I get transferred (since transfers are in 2 weeks).  We'll see if his prayers are answered because that would be awesome if Elder Guzman and I could somehow both stay.
This past weekend was stake conference and it was awesome.  We translated again and it was really tough but we did a good job.  The stake president gave a really really good talk and it was unfortunate that we were preoccupied with translating and couldn't focus on what he was saying.  Hopefully somehow I can get a copy of it and read it.
That's all I have for this week! Love you all and hope everything is going well.  All of you are in my prayers!
Les Quiero!
-Elder Gaskill

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

First Zone Conference

Hello everybody!

This past week I had my first zone conference here in the mission.  That was really cool!  It was also cool to meet a lot of new missionaries.  I've heard about so many cool missionaries in the mission and I finally got to meet a lot of them.  There are 3 zone conferences so only the southern third of the mission was there but I got to meet a lot of people.  Two that I was excited to meet were Elders Villar and Christenson.  Elder Villar is from Peru and is a really really good soccer player from what I've heard.  Apparently he had heard that I was a good soccer player somehow too, so we talked a lot and maybe I'll end up serving with him sometime since he's only been out about a year.  Elder Christenson is an elder from Moroni, Utah and has a really "southern" sounding accent.  He likes a lot of the same things as Elder Grow, Pickering, and I so we got along well.  We learned a lot of good stuff.  One of the coolest things I had found out is that Elder Holland came to our mission in February and at the very end promised that our mission was going to start having a lot of success that this mission hasn't seen yet and that we would be remembered in this mission for it all.  In the past 4 months since he has said this nothing has happened so President Lewis talked to us a lot about how it's not President Holland's fault that this isn't being fulfilled, it must be something to do with us as missionaries and something that we need to do to step it up.  I learned a lot and have plenty of things that I need to change to be better but I really loved the zone conference.

Without TV, radio, and the internet we miss out on everything big that happens in the world and I forgot that the Euro 2012 is about to start! We figured it out this week since there have been a couple games that Mexico has played so everyone is really excited about it.  (Also, yesterday barely anyone was at church and none of the missionaries had investigators to church and I'm convinced it's because Mexico played Brazil yesterday). But it would be awesome if someone would keep me updated from home and send scores and any other interesting news (:

I just typed up this really long paragraph about recent news with investigators and this laptop decided it wanted to highlight it all and delete it really quick so now it's gone and I don't feel like typing it again so here's the basics: Familia Guzman is progressing still.  The mother in law of a newly active member accepted to be baptized (without a date).  We found an awesome couple last week that loves everything we say and even got engaged last week after the first time we met them.  They said it is because we mentioned that something to the extent of "marriage is ordained of God between a man and a woman and every couple should be married".  We have lots of other cool people too.

It's been really really hot here and has only barely broken 100 degrees. It's raining today so I'm hoping this happens a lot in the summer because I don't like the heat.

Elder Guzman also almost got eaten by a dog last week when we were tracting but I saved his life.  It wasn't anything cool but he was looking down/opening a fence to walk into some one's yard and he didn't see this big/ferocious dog bounding towards him.

I can't think of too much more that was interesting to talk about but last night was interesting.  We went to go see familia Guzman and the we ended up hanging out with all the family members.  One of their neighbors who we want to start teaching came home from church (where he plays the guitar and sings) and we convinced him to play and sing for us.  Then one of the drunk neighbors came out and started singing too.  Then all the neighborhood little kids came and played with us (basketball).  We pretty much had the whole community of Latinos outside singing religious songs that I've never heard (in Spanish) and playing basketball.  It was a lot of fun.

I also think I forgot to mention last week that I almost got in a car accident. Someone was getting on the freeway and tried to turn into my lane when I was right next to him.  I had to weave in and out of cars as I swerved trying to dodge this guy.  It was all adrenaline at the time but Elder Guzman was really impressed and wanted to kiss me because I saved his life (the guy would have hit his door and probably our back end and we would have spun out and likely rolled on the freeway which would be disastrous).  Luckily none of that happened and my professional driver instincts took over. Anyway, that almost happened again today so that's what made me think of it.  California is full of crazy drivers and I don't like it.

Well that's about all I've got this week! I hope all is well and everyone is enjoying the cooler weather that is anywhere outside of Sacramento!

Les Quiero,
Elder Gaskill