Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hello Family,
I hope everyone is well at home!  I never heard about how the summer fires ended but our Bishop went out to Idaho this past week and he said the normally crystal clear skies of Nevada and Idaho and very ashy from all the fires.  I hope everything sorted itself out and in another year and a half Colorado is back to the beautiful paradise it was when I left.
This week has been great.  Elder Rivera and I have been getting along really well and I am learning a lot from him.  I don't think I said very much about him last week so I'll tell you all a little more.  Elder Rivera was born in Puerto Rico and lived there about 8 years before moving to the United States.  He has lived all over the East Coast and for the past few years has lived in Florida. He is a big University of Utah fan like I am because he did a year of school there before coming on his mission.  He has one younger sister and his family (minus his dad) are members, converts to the church.
We have been blessed to see a lot of miracles this week.  About 2 weeks ago we found a less active part member family that had an 8 year old and 9 year old girl that really want to get baptized and they are both going to get baptized this week! They love the church and although their family had a problem with a bishop in the past they are willing to come back and are really awesome.  I'm starting to be known as the missionary that baptizes all the little kids since so far I've baptized two kids that are 10 and 12 and now two more that are 8 and 9.  
We also found another part member family called the Tapia family (shout out to Jeremy!) who were all baptized about 3 years ago and were active in the ward they live in now before it split about two years ago but moved and the ward kind of lost track of them.  However, we found them and they are really excited to come back to church and they have a 10 year old daughter that hasn't been baptized yet as well.  We are excited to get to know them better, they are a really cool family.
We have been working a lot with Luz and Gustavo a lot this week too and they are getting close to getting baptized.  We just got all their papers filled out with the help of a lawyer in our ward and they're turning them in today.  We're hoping they get the divorce certificate this week and then we can get them married and baptized the week after general conference.
We had a really interesting experience this past week when we went to go teach the Ramos family.  They live in a very very very bad street, probably the worst part of our area.  When you drive down the street what you see is every house with big metal fences around it, mattresses and furniture in the streets; people's stuff that have been thrown out of their houses because they can't afford to pay their rent, little kids running around everywhere, dogs in the streets, broken cars and glass, pretty much about the worst of things that you can imagine.  The Ramos family lives there and I took Elder Rivera there to meet the family but only Brandy and Yanira were there.  We taught them for about 45 minutes and about halfway through the Ghetto Bird (the police helicopter) started flying around in circles over our heads and began announcing that there was a missing girl so if anyone sees anything suspicious they should call 911.  As we were getting in the car we noticed the were police cars on both ends of the "L" shaped street blocking it off.  We got in the car and as we did 3 police officers with bullet proof vests and M-16s came down the street with a drug dog.  As they rounded the corner where the Ramos' live, the dog took off running towards one of the next door houses.  The police officers took off after it and ended up in a standoff with some people in a house nearby.  We watched as the police officers yelled for certain people to come out and then watched a few people come out with their hands up and get arrested.  As we drove out of the neighborhood the were cop cars parked on every street corner just waiting so we figured something big was going down but we never figured out what it was.
We had some other miracles this week as well.  We cover a lot of nicer neighborhoods where plenty of Spanish people live but it is really hard to find them.  This week Elder Rivera showed me a way to use the white pages to find people with Spanish names.  We did that for a big neighborhood; wrote down all the names of addresses of people with Spanish sounding names.  That night Elder Rivera told me to pick a name because we had a little bit of time to start the list.  There was one name that I felt like we should go see so we went to her front door. It turned out that her husbands family was all Spanish and she spoke it more or less but her family prefers English.  She was really impressed with us and what we do as missionaries and told us they had just started going to a new church that was kid oriented but she knew a lot of LDS people and was really interested in learning more about what we believe.  She prefers English so we had to pass her information on to the English elders in the area but she will be a golden investigator for those missionaries.
We also went looking for Sylvia, our less active lady that just moved here and we ended up finding her brother in law.  He had a lot of really good questions about tithing and he ended up inviting us in and we taught him a really spiritual lesson about the book of mormon and the restoration. He was really interested and is really a "searcher" looking for the truth in the world.  He also lives out of the mission so we will have to pass his information along to some other Spanish missionaries but he will get baptized soon I'm sure of it, he is definitely looking for the truth.
This week although it has been short has been laced with miracles and I am really excited for the next 5 weeks of this transfer.  We are making a lot of big changes here and started a new time in the Sacramento 10th Spanish Ward here in Sacramento.
I love you all and I hope everything is going well wherever you all are.  I always keep you in my heart and in my prayers.
Les Quiero,
Elder Gaskill

New Photos!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Another New Companion

Hello Family,
Our transfer calls came in last night! Elder Sarmiento is going to East Sacramento to be a Zone Leader for his last two transfers in the mission and my new companion is Elder Rivera.  Elder Rivera only has 2 more transfers in the mission as well so I will probably stay in the area 6 more weeks and get transferred after that.  Elder Rivera's family is from Puerto Rico but he was born and raised in the United States.  He speaks Spanish perfectly  I am really excited for the next transfer with Elder Rivera.
This past week Brandy Ramos got baptized and that was awesome.  We were really worried because we weren't able to talk to her mom for about a week and a half so we were planning the baptism by telling all the girls about it and then they would pass the word on to their mom later when she came home.  We got everything ready and the baptism went really well.  It got off to a late start though.  Elder Austin was supposed to come back to baptize Brandy but 15 minutes after it was supposed to start he still hadn't arrived.  We were calling his phone and trying to get a hold of him but never could.  So I got suited up and ended up baptizing Brandy instead of Elder Austin.  It was unfortunate because the Assistants had misinformed Elder Austin and told him the baptism was going to be Saturday instead of Friday so he was really sad he had to miss out on the baptism.
We have been making a lot of progress with Aurora this week.  She came to the baptism on Friday and loved it.  She felt the spirit really strongly and was crying and loved the testimonies and everything she saw.  We also taught her about the Restoration this weekend and she loved it as well.  She is going to be sad that Elder Sarmiento is leaving but life goes on.
We had a "Multicultural Activity" on Saturday where lots of people made a dish of a famous food from wherever they're from and brought it to share.  There was food from USA, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Peru, Dominican Republic, Brazil, and Argentina.  It was a lot of fun.  There was also some dances that people put on that were really cool.  Some Brazilian girls came and danced the Samba.  Before Saturday "The Samba" was just an indoor soccer shoe that Adidas makes but now I know it's a dance and it's really cool.
We met a less active family this week.  The parents are from Puerto Rico but have lived in the United States the past 40 years.  They have 2 little girls that are 8 and 9 who haven't been baptized but really want to.  They love when we come over.  They want to come to all the activities and want to come to church and they really really really want to be "baptitized" as they call it.  We are going to work on getting them back to church.  They got offended about 4 years ago because they didn't have enough money to pay tithing and their rent and I guess they don't understand the scripture in Malachi about the Lord "pouring out a blessing upon them so great that they won't have room enough to receive it".  The dad smokes a lot but he is open to coming back to church.  The mom is really mean and we're going to have to work with her.  Hopefully they let their daughters get baptized.
Yesterday Elder Sarmiento and I found two really cool new investigators.  One named Raymundo that was taught by the missionaries in '86 and really likes us and one that loved the message of the Restoration and asked us how she could get a copy of the Book of Mormon to read.  That was amazing because for some reason getting people to take 2 minutes out of their day to read a page in a book is a really hard thing to do.  We are really excited to teach them more.
Yesterday we also played soccer.  There are some tennis courts right next to a high school that are really old and have cracks all over them that have been converted into futbol surfaces with spray paint on the fence for goals.  We showed up to play with a couple members of the ward and there were a lot of younger guys there so we started a street soccer tournament and it was a lot of fun.
Everything is going really well here and I am very excited to have another transfer here in Elk Grove.  I hope all is well, and that everyone is as excited for General Conference in a few weeks as I am!
Les Quiero,
-Elder Gaskill

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Quick Note This Week

Hey family!

This week's email will be short because I don't really have any time today so I'm sorry.
This week we found a lady named Aurora Rojas who is really awesome.  She is from Peru.  We were really excited about her because Elder Sarmiento is from Peru and there are very few people here from Peru.  She's in her late 60s and has one kid and many grandkids who don't live with her.  She isn't married and used to live with her mom until she passed away about 2 months ago, so now she's alone.  She loved talking to us and told us she felt really good talking to us.  She has felt really lonely since her mom passed away but she said she felt good talking to us.  She told us she knew two of her neighbors that we actually used to be teaching named Francisco and Maria (the old guy who has lost all faith in God because of all the bad things that happen to him and his wife).  She liked our church because she has seen how it changed their lives and how they both stopped drinking and smoking and have been helped out a lot by the Gospel.  She told us how right before her mom passed away she gave her a hug and the mom told her that her life was about to change for the better.  Two months later we show up and she said she thinks that we are what her mom was talking about.  We can't wait to start teaching her, she is definitely ready for the gospel in her life.

This week I went on exchanges with Elder Jensen for a little bit because my companion and his companion were feeling kind of sick.  We went and taught a few lessons and they went really great.  Elder Jensen is the best, I love him a lot.  He only has a week left in his mission and so it was great for me to learn  by being with an experienced missionary for a few hours.  We taught some really good lessons and I learned a lot from him.

This week Brandy Ramos is going to get baptized and we're really excited about that.  She's ready to get baptized and we're excited for her.  It’s unfortunate that all the best people we teach are kids because they are so ready to do all the good things, but they can't always come to church because they can't drive and so they're dependent on their parents.  We're really excited for her baptism.

Well I hope everything is going well back home! You guys are the best.

Les Quiero,
Elder Gaskill

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September Already!

Hello Everyone,
This week was great! Like they all are.
On Monday Elder Sarmiento and I found a less active family just walking down the street.  We ran into an elder that was in our area a year ago and he sent us to this house that had a really awesome family.  We went to the house but no one was there, so we decided to walk down the street to an investigator's house and on the way we saw a 3 people that looked Latino so we decided to talk to them.  As it turned out the mom and daughter had been baptized three years ago.  less active  They had become less active when the mom had gotten in a fight with another lady at mutual, involving lots of bad words and hair pulling.  They live outside of our area so we had to pass the address on to other missionaries but hopefully they can help the family out and remember that they went to church to come closer to Heavenly Father and not for the other people there.
Elder Torres and I went on exchanges the other day and it was an awesome day like it always with him.  Elder Torres is a great missionary and we always get a lot of work done.  We found 3 new investigators that were really nice and really interested.  We also started teaching the niece of a less active lady in our ward that just moved up to Sacramento from Mexico to learn English. We went to a member's house for dinner and had a really good discussion with her.  She is very very active and faithful, although her husband is less active as well as her 17 year old son.  She was telling me how she was really worried about her son and fortunately (but not for my parents) I was in the same situation as her son at one point in time and I was able to give her some advice looking back that will hopefully help them out.  We found lots of people and did lots of teaching.  It was really good day.
Last week we found a person named Gustavo at the 99 cent store and this week we went to go see him.  It turns out he was baptized about 12 years ago but afterwards because of a drinking problem got his license suspended and started going to the church down the street and has been doing that since then.  He is probably one of the coolest guys I have ever met.  He is paralyzed from the waist down but he doesn't let that stop him.  He just competed in the national sit water-skiing competition in Elk Grove last week, he goes all over the country to compete in hand-pedal bike races, he skis, is building a cage to go sky diving, he pretty much does everything.  He has really strong faith and although he's challenged physically he doesn't let that stop him.  He is an awesome example and I love being around him. Hopefully we can get him back to church.
This past week Elder Sarmiento was kind of off and on sick and on Saturday he had to stay in.  Elder Walker, one of the APs was on exchanges with Elder Jensen, one of the zone leaders, and he really wanted to come with us to go back into Spanish work so we switched up so Elder Walker and I could go on exchanges together. I was really stoked because Elder Walker is pretty much my grandpa in the mission and I have heard a lot of great things about him and I finally got to go work with him.  We went to visit a return we had gotten from some other missionaries but unfortunately he wasn't home.  There were a lot of Latinos outside across the street and so we went and talked to them and they were really interested in learning about how they could live together forever as a family, and they're a family of 10 people! We were stoked to find them and I learned a lot from Elder Walker while we were together.
Yesterday wasn't that great because no one came to church that told us they would.  It was really sad but gave me a new determination to refocus and work even harder this next week.  We did have a really good lesson later in the evening with our bishop's neighbor that lives out in the middle of nowhere.  At first we were just talking to the wife and she told us she doesn't know really anything about God or Jesus or the Bible, but she was born Catholic and thinks all religions are the same so she isn't open to learning or the concept that there could be something more out there to bless her life.  Eventually her husband and another guy that lives there came home and we finally got to talk some sense with people.  The other guy that lives there asked us what was different about our church and theirs and we got to explain to them the Restoration.  How the authority and fullness of the gospel was lost with the death of Jesus Christ and His apostles but was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith in its entirety.  It ended well and hopefully they will be open to listening to the spirit in their lives.
Today we went down to Galt and play football against the Lodi zone.  It was a lot of fun to play something besides basketball and I got to see Elder Guzman again so I was excited about that.  It was a lot of fun and we won so it turned out alright.  At the end the zone leaders they told us they could tell that elder Mata and I were soccer players because we were the really quick guys on the field and although we're not very tall we were a big influence on the field.  It was a lot of the fun; I wish we could do it more often.
Well that's all I've got for this week. I hope everyone else is doing well.  I'd love to hear how everyone's doing!
Les Quiero,
Elder Gaskill