Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Great to be back

Hello Everyone!
This week was great! It feels great to be back in the branch in Lodi. This week we went to visit a lot of members and all of them had to do a double take when they saw me again.  A lot of members got big-eyed, closed the door, and then opened it again to see if it was really me.  It was funny.  It felt like coming home and it was great to see that so many members missed me and were happy to see me come back.  I haven't seen Jovita & Juan yet since they get home from Florida today.  The Diaz family went to Mexico, but I got to see Jorge Guzman and I was so happy to see him.  The Ortega family also moved from Lodi to Galt so they're in my area and I get to see them a lot which I'm happy about.  The Mendoza family is less active  already.  Apparently there has been a lot of drama going on in the ward and so the Mendoza family is back into their previous bad habits.  I hope we can help them come back.  The area is really tough and when I came in they didn't have a single investigator.  Now we have a handful and we have a really promising family that we're going to start teaching this week (more to come in next week's email).
There's not too much to report but I'll tell you about the few investigators we have:
We found a guy named Sam who is Catholic and really interested in learning about the differences in our church.  He is very sincere and loves learning and is excited for us to teach him.  He works out of town a lot so we only have small time windows to teach him but he is really cool.
We found a kid named Alex who is a Sophomore in high school that we will also be teaching.  We knocked on his door and he was interested in learning more.  His faith in God is a little bit shaky but he loved us and is really excited to learn more.
We have a 19 year old girl named Valeria that we found once and she likes reading the scriptures and learning more but she's really hard to get a hold of.
We're also teaching the neighbor of a member named Yerica.  We're teaching her tonight so I don't really know anything about her.

I'll also say a little bit more about my companion.  His name is Elder Sempf.  He's from Wisconsin and he's a really awesome missionary.  Elder Torres was training him when I left Elk Grove so we got to know each other then but haven't seen each other for a while.  He's an athletic guy; a wrestler in high school.  His Spanish has gotten a lot better since I saw him last too!  We get along really well and are really excited for this transfer!
That's about all I've got this week.
Les Quiero Mucho,
Elder Gaskill

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Going to Galt!

Hello Everyone!
This has been another great week! The big news of this week is transfers.  Last night we got our transfer calls and I am leaving El Dorado Hills.  I am now going to......GALT! I'm going back to the Lodi branch to serve in the Galt area.  I'm so excited! When I was there last we were the only two elders in the branch but now we have 4 elders and 2 sisters there.  The Lodi area is getting split into half elders and half sisters and we will be covering Galt by ourselves.  I am so happy to be going back.  The day I got the call to leave Lodi I wasn't sad because I felt like I was coming back to Galt sometime and the members told me the same thing.  Now it's becoming a reality! I'm sad to leave Elder Russell but he will be in good hands with Elder Harrison here in El Dorado.  Elder Guzman is going to be my Zone Leader in Lodi (he only has 1 transfer left before he goes home) so I'm happy to be with him.  I can't wait to see lots of familiar faces in the branch again!
We had 3 miracles this week in our area.  First, we got a call from a lady who lives in El Dorado Hills (the Folsom stake which we also cover).  She said she has a family that they want us to teach that live close to them and that they are good friends with.  The husband of the family is from Brazil and is married to a lady from Nicaragua.  She only speaks Spanish but he speaks Spanish, Portuguese, and English.  The husband works for DirecTV and works with a lot of Mormons and is really interested and knows a lot already.  The mother of the Nicaraguan lady actually is being taught by the missionaries in Nicaragua and is in the area visiting. The family went to a primary program last year and loved it.  The mom wants her kids to grow up in the church so that her son entering middle school can have some good friends. They are a golden family that will be baptized in the next month but it looks like Elders Russell and Harrison will be taking care of that.
We brought the Less Active/Part Member Family (Villanueva) to mutual this past week.  The kids loved it and now the mom (who's not a member) said she will take her kids every week.  She is going to stay and help us teach the English class while her kids are at mutual (we're applying the principles from "The Everyday Missionary" by inviting her to serve/teach).  The mom told us she wants to get the whole family coming back to church again as well! They didn't come last week because the mom had to take a certification test for her job but they will start coming next week.  They are coming to a few activities that will be going on in the near future as well.
Our most progressing investigator (Maria Preciado) also had a breakthrough this past week.  It's kind of hard to explain but you could see a major difference in her.  She is really excited to meet the Rodriguez and Villanueva families and then start coming to church.  She is probably moving to Mexico for the summer but she wants us to find the closest church to her so she can go every week and get her kids in Mexico to go with her.  She will probably be yet another investigator of mine that gets baptized in Mexico.  That will be OK with me as long as it happens and I stay in touch with her and the missionaries down there.
That's all the time I have today, hope everyone has a great week!
Les Quiero Mucho!
Elder Gaskill

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Moved to a BIG house

(We got to skype with John on Sunday and it was great to talk to him and see how he's doing.  He mentioned that they moved in with a former NFL player and his wife, so I guess their new place is pretty nice!)

Hello Everyone!
This week was another good one.  There's nothing too out of the ordinary so I'll just include a few little details.  We are now settled in our new house which is great! Probably the biggest house I will ever live in in my life and doing it while I'm a missionary.
We met a really cool lady named Susy Q this past week.  She works at the hospital with a couple of spanish speaking members.  They invited her over and were teaching all of us how to make pozole and morirsonando/jugo de la muerte and it was a lot of fun. We're hoping she accepts the invitation to learn more about the gospel because she is an awesome lady.  She taught me how to make my favorite kind of salsa as well as some other Spanish foods.  We are going to do service for her this week and hopefully learn to make some good food!
I got to go on exchanges this week and it was the first day I've had out of my area in the last 4.5 months so it was relaxing to do things in English and not be responsible for the lack of success that has been found in our area for a really long time.  We met some cool people that have not let the missionaries in for years that got along really well with us and let us start to build a relationship with them.  We had a lot of common interests and they liked our sincere personalities so we were happy to help them in that way.  We also had dinner with a family that I had a lot of coincidences with.  The wife is a non-member and when we walked in and she saw my tag she said "I used to work for a Jeff Gaskill in Colorado for 9 years, do you have any family there?".  We discovered that we were both from Colorado Springs although I do not know a Jeff Gaskill and that she also lived in Naperville, Illinois before she came to Colorado.  It was really nice to meet another person from Colorado Springs because that doesn't happen very often!  This lady is flying out on Wednesday because she has 2 granddaughters graduating from Coronodo and Air Academy high schools so she will be pretty close to my family.
Friday was zone conference which is always really spiritual and we learned a lot there.  Those are always really inspirational and it was great to see some old faces although most of them are really new faces.
That's about all for this week! I miss everyone and hope everyone is doing well.
les quiero mucho,
Elder Gaskill

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Lots of investigators named Maria

Hello Everybody!
This week was another great week!
We continued to do a lot of teaching this week. We added a new lady named Maria Ramos who cleans houses for a lot of members and she's really great! She understands everything really well and the importance of it.  Her husband is catholic and works all week so we can't ever talk to him.  They drive all the way to Sacramento to go to church every week which is different because most people can't even take an hour out of their day to go to church and they plan their weekend around it. I'm excited to teach her more.
We didn't get to teach Jose and Fabiola until Saturday night but they had lots of questions.  They loved everything at church the week before and wanted to know more about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith.  The one thing that Fabiola didn't like was that in the 2nd hour they talked more about Joseph Smith than God.  It was ironic because the lesson was about "the gospel of Jesus Christ" and I don't remember Joseph Smith's name being mentioned once. We will keep teaching them though.
We had a tough lesson with Maria (but not Antonio) this week, it kind of turned into an argument.  She doesn't believe that any man can see God and so we read Moses 33:11 and she still didn't budge.  Then we moved on to the end of Revelations that said "and he who shall add or take away from the book of this prophecy shall be cursed".  Most people use that as an argument against the Book of Mormon but they don't understand that it is just referring to the Book of Revelations, not the whole Bible, because plenty of books in the Bible were written after that, it just so happens to be that someone decided that THAT particular one would be the last in the order.  Also it says the same thing in Deuteronomy so if it were true almost the whole Bible would be void.  She didn't budge on that either.  Then we talked about lots of other things and Maria didn't want to listen to our testimonies.  We're hoping to keep teaching them and that the Spirit will soften her heart.
Maria Preciado was progressing nicely and was going to come to church but then got sick again on Sunday.
We are going to start teaching Lupita (the sister of the Rodriguez family) and her family again.  Lupita's husband almost got fired because he was way too drunk and sick to work this week so he has changed a little bit and we're hoping it's enough to open him up to the gospel.  More to come on that next week.
Saturday was California's Mormon Helping hands day so we got to go be a part of that and it was a lot of fun. The English ward we're a part of went to do a lot of landscaping at a local middle school and we helped a lot with that.  It was great to be a part of the Mormon helping hands group!
Yesterday the mom of the family we had dinner with asked me how long I had been on my mission.  After I told her about 15 months and asked why she told me "I can tell, it sounds like you have a Spanish accent when you talk".  I thought that was an interesting comment.  My English isn't as good now because I had to erase a lot of it to make room for Spanish in my head.  At least the Spanish is doing really well!
Things are continuing to go well here and we are looking forward to more fun and spiritual experiences in the weeks to come!
Les Quiero Mucho
Elder Gaskill

April 22, 2013

Hello Everyone!
This last week went really well.
We started to teach a family called the Tejeda family last week and we got to sit down with them and have a great lesson this week.  The wife knows the Bible really well and the husband is a great guy but doesn't know too much about the Bible.  It was really fun to teach them about the restoration because we kept asking them if they understood everything and if they had any questions. The wife would always say she didn't understand too well and the husband would turn to her and say "this is how I understood it... is that right?" and he always understood everything perfectly.  It was amazing to see how the soil the seed is planted in makes all the difference, just as the Savior said.  The lady who thought she knew a lot already and didn't need much more didn't get it but the one who was all ears and listening with the spirit planted the seed of faith deep into his heart.  We didn't get to teach them the second half of the week because we couldn't get a hold of them but they loved everything and had lots of questions for us.
We are also continuing to teach Maria and she is getting closer and closer.  This past week we talked about the priesthood because she has received blessings by missionaries in the past and been healed miraculously.  We talked about how the priesthood is only held by God's authorized servants which he invests to those worthy in His church and she made the connection that The Church of Jesus Christ of LDS must be true because it has the priesthood of God.  She told us she fears what will happen because the rest of her family is Catholic and she wants to read more of the Book of Mormon but we are still working with her and trying to get her to come to church so she can get closer and closer.
This weekend Jose and Fabiola (the relatives of the Rodriguez family) came to church!  They are the 3rd group of investigators besides Heriberta and her family to come to the Spanish group in the last 6 months to 1 year so we were very excited about that.  It's hard to teach them because Jose works in San Francisco during the week but we had a miracle with them this past Saturday. The Rodriguez family had a bbq and invited us over.  We wanted them to invite their family so we could try to teach them.  When they got there they said they weren't able to reach them by phone, but right before we started to eat they showed up anyway.  They said, "We were coming home and thought we would stop by (the Rodriguiz's new place) since we haven't seen it yet" so they stayed and we got to talk to them and make sure they were coming to church.  We're excited to keep teaching them.
The work continues to progress here and we are excited to be a part of it.  We've heard plenty about what's going on in the world and I'm very content to be focused on what's truly important and bringing that to people's lives than seeing and hearing about the bad choices others are making as the days and years begin to wind down...
I hope everyone is well and continues to share the gospel wherever they may be!

Les Quiero,
Elder Gaskill