Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lessons Learned

Hello everyone!
I've realized recently that every week I sit down and try to think of what to write in an email and everything seems really repetitive and I get bored of writing it so I think I'll start sharing the out of the ordinary experiences and some of the lessons I've learned.
This past Saturday I got to go back to Lodi again to see the baptism of Martin Diaz (Hermana Diaz' son) that we were teaching and that was great.  I was very happy to see him getting baptized.  He has a few problems because of an accident when he was about 10 years old but he still is very intelligent and has one of the sweetest spirits that I've ever met.  The greatest joy of all was seeing my recent converts and learning  that everyone is still active in the church.  Jovita and Juan are doing great and getting ready to go to the temple.  Their son Alan in Florida is 20 and getting married in the Tampa temple in May so unfortunately they won't be able to go because they were only baptized in November but they are very excited for the day they can go to the temple!  Their son JJ was drifting away for a little bit but now he's back and strong and even has interest in a girl in the Young Single Adult ward and he wants to serve a mission! Jorge Guzman moved to Stockton but he is going to church either in Lodi still or Stockton every week.  The missionaries told me they gave him my phone number so he could call me but I haven't heard from him yet.  Arturo and his family are doing great in Mexico.  The Mendoza family is still active and working towards the temple.  The Ortega family is probably the strongest of them all.  It was a great experience to see all the people that I feel like are part of my family doing so well!
The lesson that I learned (that I've learned before but was reminded of again) is that a lot of the most solid people we meet will be getting baptized by other missionaries.  On Saturday we helped move a Spanish lady out of her house because she doesn't have work or a home anymore (long story) so she's moving back to Fresno.  We gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon and I was prompted to write my testimony in it that hopefully she'll read soon in Fresno.  Her friend from Sacramento came up to help her and it turns out she is really interested in the message.  She wants to find the truth and loved everything we shared with her.  She lives in a private area that missionaries would never be able to get into unless they had someone's specific information.  I can't wait to hear some day down the road that she got baptized.  It's hard when you don't have a lot of success but it seems like the baptisms each set of missionaries get come through the hard work of other missionaries and they may not get to harvest the fruits at the end of it.
Well that's my lesson learned for the week.  Hope you enjoyed it! Everything is going great up here! I am very excited for Easter this week and General Conference the following week!
Les Quiero Mucho!
Elder Gaskill

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hard Work Goes On


This week has been another crazy week and especially today.  Things are changing a lot for the better here in El Dorado.  We are getting a lot of members to come and help us teach and are finding a lot more people through the help of the members.  We feel very blessed and are very excited to continue working hard.

I will share I lesson I learned this week.  The week went very well.  The number of things we've done such as lessons with and without members, new investigators, referrals, etc. we did extremely well and had success this area has not seen in a long time.  We have a lot of investigators progressing.  Everything went really well the whole week until Sunday morning.  We went to go visit Heriberta and Cristian in the morning to make sure they were going to get to church on time.  Heriberta told us that she has decided she's not going to come to church anymore.  She doesn't like having to force her kids to come and wants to decide if the church is really for her (ironically by separating herself from it).  She has kind of just given up and there was nothing we could do in the moment to fix it (although we tried very hard).  Then we tried with Cristian and he said he still doesn't know if he should be baptized.  On top of that he can't come to church now that Heriberta isn't coming because his dad is very controlling and won't let him drive the car and won't let anyone besides Heriberta take him to church.  We decided to go try our luck with the Rodriguez family.  The night before we had taught them and they said they would come if their family (who are members) were coming.  We called their family and they said that they would talk to them and help them get to church in the morning.  However when we stopped by in the morning they said they weren't coming because their family was going to go to work and they had other plans.  After admitted defeat there we went to go stop by our members house to see if we could get them before they left for work, but we were too late.  By the end of those 2 hours I was sad, disappointed, and without hope.  I tried my best to stay positive so my companion wouldn't be unhappy about it but it was difficult. 

We got to church and I had an amazing experience.  My testimony grew so much that day about how much Heavenly Father knows each one of His children.  The talks given in Sacrament Meeting were phenomenal, and it was one of the times I have felt the Spirit the strongest in a sacrament meeting.  I learned so much and need to get a written copy of one of the talks because it was amazing.  If we had members and investigators there, I would have had to translate the whole meeting and wouldn't have been able to pay attention to the message that was shared.  However, because no one was there, my investigators weren't weighing upon my mind and I was immensely blessed.  Although it was a sad church day in the missionary sense, it was a day I will never forget where my testimony was greatly blessed.  And this week we will continue forward and start making more progress with our investigators.

What we did today during P-day was great as well. As a zone we went to Ice House Lake which is really close to the border of the mission.  It reminded me a lot of Rampart Reservoir up in Woodland Park and made me think of home.  It was great to be able to spend the day hiking, talking to some good friends, and taking a break for but just a moment from the normal missionary labors.

I am so grateful for my time to serve the Lord and be a missionary and I hope my comments can bless the lives of some unknowing reader.

Les Quiero Mucho and I hope that things are well wherever this email finds everyone!
Elder Gaskill

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Very Short Letter

Hello Everyone,

Sorry this email is going to be really short because it's 4:15 and we still have to shower and get ready before our dinner at 5!

The work is going really well up here, better than I have ever seen it and better than it has been in the last year.  Elder Russell and I are working hard and we are beginning to see success.  We have an investigator named Cristian who is praying about baptism on March 23 and he is really close!  We also met some of the brothers and their families of the one member family we have in our group.  Everyone is really interested in the church except the dads unfortunately.  But 2 of the kids came to church yesterday and loved it.  The moms really want to go but are waiting for their husbands to be supportive before moving forward.  We are going to start teaching them and getting them to come to church and get baptized!

I promise I'll write more next week.

Les Quiero Mucho!
-Elder Gaskill

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Arturo got baptized!

Hello Everyone!
This week went great! On Wednesday I picked up my hijo and he is great! His name is Elder Johnny Russell and comes from Sandy, Utah.  He's 19 and graduated in 2012, so normal missionary age.  He is a great missionary! He is a lot like me so we get along very well.  He loves eating healthy and working out so we get along great there.  We wake up early and alternate every day between lifting weights and running.  He is the oldest of 5 siblings as well and has 2 brothers and 2 sisters.  He went to Alta high school and he plays a lot of sports.  He's a big tennis player as well as football, basketball, and baseball, but unfortunately not soccer.  He is a great missionary and is teaching me a lot every day.  He definitely has the fire and the desire to be a great missionary and his Spanish gets better every day and I'm doing my best to teach him.
The best news I have for this week I just read a few minutes ago.  Arturo and his family got baptized in Ensenada, Mexico yesterday! I just read his email that he sent the day before.  I think he is definitely my favorite investigator that I've taught on my mission so far.  I have grown so close to him and I rejoice every time I read his email and hear how he and his family are doing and progressing.  Although I didn't see the baptism it will be my favorite baptism of my mission.  I can't wait to get the pictures via email or regular mail sometime soon!
This week we didn't get to do nearly as much missionary work but we did a lot of service.  We helped a Brazilian family that also speaks Spanish move from one ward to the other in the Cameron Park area of the stake.  We are excited because the area they moved into has more Spanish people so we're hoping to teach some of their neighbors by having this family help us.  We also did a lot of yard work in a single lady's yard.  I am getting really good at starting fires because everyone here burns all the dry things they have that come from the yard instead of throwing it away.  I'm also become pretty good at trimming bushes.  The Spanish culture is rubbing off on me in more ways than one (:
We are making a lot of changes in how we do missionary work and they are starting to pay off.  The first one that's paying off is having a dinner calendar.  Last transfer we either had ramen noodles or fast food for lunch and dinner every day because we had no one to feed us.  Now we have some dinners and are actually getting real food! We are also getting about 50 Spanish speakers or returned missionaries called to come out and teach with us and take us to meet their friends so we will have people to teach and members to help us teach them.
Alma and Victor are progressing nicely.  We taught them the Plan of Salvation on Saturday and they are loving it.  We were sad that Victor said he had to work on Sunday so he couldn't come to church but Alma got a ride with her sister-in-law Heriberta.  We were really happy that she came! They got there at the end of Sacrament meeting and missed a lot of great testimonies but they went to the Sunday School class and enjoyed it.  We can't wait to teach them more and get them to church next week!
I am really excited for the 2 coming transfers with Elder Russell.  We are making a lot of changes in the area and it is really turning around.  I have a great companion and even though he's been out half as many weeks as I have months he is teaching me and helping me become a better missionary on a daily basis.  I am really excited for the future and what all it holds!
Les Quiero Mucho!
Elder Gaskill