Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Email from last week that we didn't receive until this week.

Hello Everyone!
This week was another good week!

My favorite part of the week is that we finally found Zaida again on Tuesday and scheduled to have a lesson with her on Saturday.  We were super happy.  She told us she had been really sad recently because of the loss of her foster child son but that she had still been reading the Book of Mormon which made us really happy.  She told us that her brother who is really anti-mormon had been trying to take away all the things she was reading but stood up to her brother and told her "even if you take the pamphlets and book  I can still get more, there is an unlimited supply".  He stopped and backed off but she still only likes to meet with us on Saturdays since her brother doesn't leave the house on Saturdays because he's a 7th Day Adventist, so she feels safe meeting with us then.  She also told us that she had had a dream the night before we came that she had to take some things to the bank and on the way to the bank she looked out her car window and saw us, the missionaries, knocking on doors and it made her feel really bad that she hadn't called us back and tried to get in touch with us recently.  So it was a good thing we showed up when we did. 

 We were going to have a lesson with the Lucero family again in their home but Hermano Lucero told us last minute he forgot he had to work so we ended up going to a park.  We had a really good lesson though.  We were there about 3 hours teaching and talking and we taught Hermana Lucero a lot of things and answered all her questions which she was happy about.  We learned a lot more about her too and she has come from probably the worst background I can imagine, I started crying as she was telling us about it.  She is still really interested and everything which is really good.  I gave my favorite baptismal invitation of my mission so far; and she didn't say yes but she said she would think about it.  I'm confident she's going to be baptized and I know the restored gospel is something that's going to bless her life a lot.

This week we got to play soccer so I was really happy about that.  The Elders quorum organized an activity and we got a few investigators there so we got to play too! It had been about 8 weeks since I had played last and so I was really happy to play.  I was happy that in that 8 weeks I hadn't really missed soccer that much but it was good to play again.

We helped one of  our investigators change a transmission of a car he was working on.  We went over on Thursday and helped him take it out of the car.  Then he took it apart and showed us what was wrong with it.  There are a million pieces on the inside of it and I have no idea how he knows what it all is and where everything goes but he does.  On Friday he went and bought the part and then on Saturday we came back and helped him clean every individual piece which took a while but it was fun.  We spray painted the outside of all the parts so it looked brand new again too.  We also met his cousin and his family, who the missionaries have been looking for for a long time and so we had a really good lesson with all of them too.

Yesterday we went to the city of Wilton again which is fun.  It reminds me a lot of Black Forest (in Colorado) just because it is "country area" outside of the city.  I love going there.  We had  a referral and we stopped by for about 4 minutes but in that 4 minutes we got the lady to go from "sorry I'm catholic" to crying because she was touched by the spirit we brought when we said a prayer.  So we'll go back this next week and see if we can start teaching the family.

That's about all I've got for this week.  I heard USA beat Mexico in a soccer international friendly this past week and so I've been bringing it up with all our investigators who are soccer fans from Mexico.  Sad I missed the game but happy we won!
Hope everything is well with everyone!

Les Quiero,
Elder Gaskill

New Investigators and zone conference

Hello Everyone!
This week has been great.

I don't remember if I wrote about this last week but we received a reference from Bolivia to visit this girl named Erika.  We went to the address last week and ended up talking to the mom but didn't know it wasn't the right person until we were saying bye.  This week I felt prompted to go by her house at a very specific time on a specific day.  The referral was very specific and said come at 5:30 because that's when she gets home from work and school but we went at about 4:20.  Erika was the only one home at the time and we asked for a glass of water and ended up staying about an hour and teaching her.  She told us we got lucky that she was home because normally she has cross country practice and doesn't get home until 5:30 when her mom picks her up and drives her home.  She decided that day though to skip practice and come home to get caught up on her summer reading that she hadn't finished.  So we learned a lot about her and she'll be a good investigator.  The problem is we have to figure out how to teach her either by making her mom like us more or somehow finding her when her mom isn't around.

Wednesday we had zone conference and that was awesome like they always are.  We learned a lot and the talks/classes were really inspired.  Every zone conference all the missionaries have to write a 5 minute talk on a topic that they give us and then we "turn them in" when we arrive and then President reads them all and picks two people to give their talks at the end of zone conference.  My first zone conference I was about 80% sure for some reason that I was going to get picked and then I was really surprised when I didn't get picked.  This conference I had the exact same feeling that I was going to talk except I was about 95% sure this time and I got picked to talk this time.  So I got to speak in zone conference and that was fun.  It was about a talk that Elder Oaks gave in 2000 called "The Challenge to Become".  It was a really good talk and I suggest all of you go look it up and read it.  We learned so much at zone conference.  Although we were exhausted when we left at 4:30 we were so spiritually pumped the rest of the day.  I felt like a native speaking Spanish and everything just went really well the rest of the day.
On Thursday I had a flashback to Stockton.  There is a helicopter that flies around all the time and shines a spotlight to make sure nothing bad happens because there are a lot of bad neighborhoods around here.  Right behind our apartments is one of those areas and we live on the back side and all that separates us is a 6 foot wall.  When we came home Thursday night the "ghetto bird" (as the helicopter's known around here) was flying in circles and shining it's light in the corner of the apartments where we live and on the complexes right behind us.  There were about 4 police officers out with flashlights looking for something but we never figured it what was going on.

Friday we went to go see our recent convert Ruben at about 8 at night and he was just leaving to walk to the 99 cent store to buy milk so we decided to walk with him.  The conversation was normal but we had some interesting experiences.  On the way there a homeless guy was telling us his story about he almost killed somebody with his knife because he thought the guy wanted to hurt him.  When we got to the 99 cent store we waited outside while Ruben was shopping/buying.  A guy in a power chair approached us and looked at me and said "let me guess, you're from Utah". I said I wasn't and we got to talking and he turned out to be a really friendly guy and said he used to give the missionaries rides places.  We never found out if he was a member but we got all his information so we will go and try to visit him this week.  He may be a really good investigator if he's not a member already.  After he left another lady approached us and started talking to us and we got her information to go see her later this week.  Finally Ruben came back out and it was about 9 o'clock so we started walking back.  In Sacramento, 9:00 is when the "zorras" come at and  there were lots of females roaming the streets so we let Ruben lead the way and fend all the ladies off so we wouldn't have any problems with them. Eventually we made it back to Ruben's house and taught him and then went home for the night.

This week my companion has been kind of sick and it was pretty bad on Saturday.  We were in the apartment until about 3:00 when one of our investigators called us and asked us what we were doing and told us to come up to his place and eat.  So we went up there and ate and taught them and spent some time with them.  After that we had a dinner appointment with the Lucero family and they were throwing a party for their son turning 1 so we went out of our area to a really nice white neighborhood that reminded me of Stonebridge in Illinois and had dinner at the park with them.  They invited a lot of their friends who work with them at Univision (a really big Spanish channel) and so we met a lot of nonmembers and got a lot of their information to meet them at their houses this week to teach them.  It was a lot of fun.  It was also really weird because almost all the people in Sacramento are Mexican or Guatemalan but the Lucero family is Argentinian and Venezuelan, and all their friends that were there with them were from south America: Argentinian, Columbian, Venezuelan, Peruvian, etc. so the people were a lot different.  They were all really nice though but it was a little different experience.

We didn't get to see Zaida this week but she called us on Saturday and I talked to her on the phone about an hour and a half and taught her that way.  She had been having car problems and so she was at the mechanic but she talked to me for about 90 mins until the mechanics told her they wanted to go for a ride with her in the car to see if they could figure out what was wrong by driving it around (because they couldn't find anything through their tests).  She told me a lot about her past and a lot about when she used to work at a homeless shelter, things going on with her and her family, etc.  She was doing 97% of the talking and all of a sudden she stopped and asked me "I've been talking this whole time and you've been listening and giving me advice that is perfect for my situation, how do you do it? Do you missionaries get some sort of training for this?".  I decided to tell her that missionaries are called to specific missions to serve in specific areas at very specific times, and that I knew I had been called to serve here so that we would meet her the day that we did, and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with her through the 2 elders that would be the best fit for her.  Then I bore her my testimony and it was really cool.  I know that Zaida is one of the people I was called to Sacramento to meet and I love teaching her and I know that in the coming months she will be baptized and will have great responsibility in the church someday.

Well that's about all this week.  Sorry my email from last week didn't work.  I hope everything is well at home.  I know this work is the very best thing I could be doing and I know that what we share is true and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God's church here on the Earth today.  Our Heavenly Father loves us and is just waiting for us to either accept His gospel and enter into the gate by baptism or share the gospel with those who have not yet found the path.

Les Quiero,
Elder Gaskill

Monday, August 13, 2012

Short but Great Week!

Hey Everyone!
There's not a lot to report on in this last short week but here I go.
Elder Sarmiento and I have been getting along great.  He is an awesome missionary.  Sometimes I just feel like sitting back and watching him go because he just always knows the perfect thing to say.  He's been out 20 months and it definitely shows.  He's also a really funny guy, I love him as a companion.  He helps me a lot with my Spanish too because he's from Peru and didn't start learning English until he got here.  We speak in Spanish all the time to each other except when we're talking to people that don't speak Spanish so that helps me a lot.  Sometimes it's funny because he talks to me in Spanish but i talk to him in English since he understands English but doesn't speak it very well.  I'm sure we sound funny talking to each other because we're talking two different languages to each other but understand perfectly what the other person is saying.
I had to give a talk yesterday at church and it went really well.  Saturday night they gave us a call and told us they needed two of us missionaries to speak tomorrow in church and the other missionaries in our ward called us and said one of us had to give a talk for about 5 minutes.  So I wrote down a few notes to give a talk and then when I got to church I found out we were the only two speakers and we needed to talk for about 15-20 minutes.  It went well though and the time went by really fast and I didn't even get to say all I wanted before sacrament meeting was over and I had to wrap everything up.  It was a ton of fun.  I remember being really nervous to give a talk when I was 12 in Sacrament Meeting but nowadays I love it, even in Spanish!
We had a really good lesson with a family called Familia Toscanos last week.  Other missionaries had been teaching them for a long time but once Elder Austin left I decided I wanted to start from the beginning and it was perfect for them.  We spent about an hour and a half with them talking about the Restoration.  They were really interested and had a lot of questions and we had to go because it was already 9:30 at night.  They wanted us to come back as soon as possible so we are going back tonight to finish with them.  I hope it goes well because this family is awesome and loves the missionaries but as of now are just really catholic. So we'll see.
That's about all that happened this week. I'll talk to everyone next week! Hope all is well
Los Quiero,
-Elder Gaskill

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Busy Week

Hello Everybody!
I don't have a lot of time to write emails this week but I will include a couple things before I get going.
So we got our transfer calls last night and Elder Austin is leaving to go right next door on the other side of the freeway to a branch called Sacramento 7 (which used to be a part of the ward I'm serving in now until it split about a year ago).  My new companion is going to be an Elder named Elder Sarmiento, who only has a few months left in his mission and goes home in December.  He is from Peru so he speaks Spanish perfectly.  I'm really excited to be with an elder that is fluent in Spanish because that helps a lot and also someone who has a lot of time in the mission.
This week was great.  We had my first baptism of Federico Pimentel, the 9 year old kid who is part of a part member less active family.  The baptism went really well and I got to baptize him so it was awesome.  It was a day of miracles because as soon as his baptism was over we talked to his 12 year old aunt that we've been teaching named Brandi and she told us she wants to get baptized so we're going to baptize her on the 18th! Then we went over to visit Luz and Gustavo who are getting their divorce papers and we are going to get them married and baptized on the 18th as well! So we have 3 baptisms coming up in about 2 weeks.
We tried something really cool this week.  I was reading a letter from Elder Mitch Daniels about a month ago where he said his mission president asked them during weekly planning to plan for family X and family Y, two families that they weren't teaching right now that they had faith that they would find in the next week.  The next day they had 2 families they didn't know show up to church and they were blessed with two new families, family X and family Y to start teaching.  I decided I wanted to do that here so during weekly planning on Saturday Elder Austin and I planned for family X.  We planned what we would teach them this week and we planned to see them on Wednesday and Friday night.  As it turns out, we were blessed the same day to find TWO families to take family X's place.  We went to visit a potential we had and ended up finding his cousin named Misael.  Misael told us he used to go to church with the missionaries when he lived in Idaho about two years ago but lost contact with the church when he moved to Los Angeles.  He is a really nice guy and didn't come to church on Sunday but he will be a solid investigator.  Later in the night we were looking for another potential and we ended up talking to her daughter who's about 23 and son who's about 16.  We knocked on the door at about 8 at night when it was getting dark and they opened up the door and the first thing they said was "wow, you guys look really happy!".  I immediately said "That's because we are! And we're here to tell you how you can be as happy as we are".  We talked to them for a while and they were really interested and told us they had friends who were Mormon and wanted to know more.  They told us they were going to come to church but had a couple things they needed to do so they weren't sure.  They ended up not coming and we have a return to go see them Friday night so we'll find out then what happened.  The coolest part about the whole thing was that the returns we got with Misael, and Maria and Andres happened to be the exact same times we had planned to go see "family X".  We were extremely blessed and it was cool to see that miracle.  I hope everything turns out well with these people we added!
I don't have too much more time and I still need to write to the mission president, sooo until next week!
Los Quiero,
Elder Gaskill