Monday, June 24, 2013

Brown Hair

Hello Everyone!
This week was awesome.
One of the highlights was that we convinced the two redheads in our house to dye their hair brown.  My companion Elder Sempf has red hair and Elder Williams (an English elder) also has red hair.  We kind of started it as a joke but we convinced them to buy hair dying stuff from Walmart and then we did it Tuesday night when our zone leaders were over.  They look great now, no more red hair! It'll only last for about 4 weeks so Elder Sempf will probably get transferred in a week to a new area and will take his brown hair with him.
Apart from the activities outside of missionary work, the mission part was great as well.
We have been working a lot to help the Mendoza family get active and it seems to be working.  Ana is reading the Book of Mormon and is almost done with Alma, and they have been coming to church again which is great.  We are trying to work with their 18 year old son named Jose who is the only non member in the family and has a few friends that like being around us as well.
We are also working with a guy named Martin who says he was baptized about 15 years ago in England but we can't get ahold of his records anywhere.  He doesn't really remember his baptism but remembers his kid's baptisms.  Through a series of tragic events he had to separate himself from his family and doesn't have contact with them anymore and doesn't remember a whole lot of information about them.  We are trying to help him find his records and if not he'll have to get baptized again to make some new ones.
Our ward mission leader brought two young guys that are working with him to church on Sunday.  One of them I know will get baptized named Melvin.  He is 15 and just barely came from Mexico with his mom to work but she goes home in a week and he is staying until September.  He doesn't speak English at all but loved church and wants to learn more.  We are going back to teach him tonight.
There's a lot of potential in the area and we are looking forward to capitalizing upon it.
I hope everybody got to see "The Work of Salvation" yesterday.  That was an awesome presentation that we all need to put in practice.  It really is a marvelous time in the history of the earth that we live in and we need to do all we can to share the gospel with those around us.
I love you all and hope the week goes well!
Elder Gaskill

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sending Love and Prayers to Colorado

Hello everyone,

I hope all is well.  I've been hearing reports of fires in north Colorado Springs all this past week and just got the first update on how everyone is.  I keep everyone there in my prayers and hope that all who have been affected by the fire can find peace and comfort in these difficult times.
Here in Galt we had kind of a slow week.  We couldn't find a lot of the cool new people we had found the week before. The family we are teaching out in Ione couldn't come to church because they were on suicide watch for a family friend who's going through a hard time.
The highlight of the week was on Saturday going on exchanges in Lodi with Elder Lee.  Elder Lee is a great Elder.  He and Elder Russell went to school together so I had heard great things about him for a long time.  We went to see a lot of investigators they had and I took him to see a lot of people I knew when I was there.  We found people for them to teach and some new ones that neither of us had met before.  It felt really good to be back in Lodi and see that even some investigators that we only saw a few times still remembered me.  We got to go see Jorge Guzman who I've only seen once since I left.  He's doing really well, he just hasn't been able to come to church recently because of work but in 2 more Sundays he will be free again.  His son got home from his mission in Oaxaca, Mexico last week.  That is crazy to think about because when we baptized Hermano Guzman, his son had the same amount of time left in his mission that I have left right now... One of the coolest things about the exchange was that we were on bikes because the northern half of Lodi is now a bike area.  I've only been on a bike 1 day of my mission so I was really excited.  We had such a great time.  It was nice and hot so we were really sweaty all day but it didn't matter.  I loved it and I hope my next area  I serve in is a bike area.  I also decided that Elder Sempf and I are going to use our bikes a lot more in Galt.  I even got a flat tire on Saturday while on exchanges so that was fun.  We stopped to talk to someone who was outside their house and I guess I must have ran over something sharp right as we stopped.  My bike was fine when I got off it but when I got back on it when we had finished talking to the people, I had a flat tire.  So we walked back up to the door, the family had a bike pump so we patched the tube and they pumped it up and we got to talk to them even more! It was a fun day.
I also conducted my first baptismal interview yesterday before church.  The sisters have a baptism of a guy named Alejandro who's married to a less active member.  He has such an awesome testimony and I can't wait for his baptism this Saturday!
I look forward to more fun stories to tell and I know this next week is going to be a great one!
Les Quiero Mucho,
Elder Gaskill

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Loving Life in Galt

This week was another great one! Definitely a record for the Galt area.
We started teaching a really cool kid named Sergio who's 14 and is a friend of a member in the branch. We've been taking a young man in the teacher's quorum out with us and he's been getting really excited about missionary work.  Yesterday he bore his testimony about how much he loves missionary work and it was fun to listen to him.  He said the first time we took him out, I was bearing my testimony in a lesson and in the background there was music from a superhero theme song and so my testimony sounded even more powerful.  So he took us to meet his friend who is really interested.  We've taught him twice and he loves everything we've shared.  He's a really humble guy and has felt the spirit and loves having us come over.  He couldn't come to church yesterday but he's already set aside next Sunday to come to church.
Wednesday was awesome! Elder Guzman and I were on exchanges all day and it was great to be back with my trainer.  It was amazing to see how much we both have improved in the last year since we separated.  Elder Guzman goes home in 3 weeks.  He's such a great missionary.  That day we went met a lady named Margarita, taught her the gospel of Jesus Christ, and set a baptismal date with her for July 6th.  We taught the Plan of Salvation to a less active member's mother who is going through a tough time because of the death of a close friend.  We taught another lady named Olivia who has doubts about the Book of Mormon and now she's reading and praying about it.  We went out and finally taught a family that lives out in a city called Ione (about 45 mins away).  They told us how they've always wanted to know about what happens to us after we die.  The asked the Catholic priest and they were really unsatisfied when they were told that we're just in heaven but we don't know anyone (ie families, friends, etc) and so we taught them the Plan of Salvation, invited them to be baptized, and they accepted! They were supposed to come to church on Sunday but they didn't and we haven't found out why yet but they are an awesome family! It was a great day with Elder Guzman.  I wish we could be companions all the time instead of for just one day.
We also started teaching a new investigator named Andrea.  She's 17 and was being taught the last time I was in the area but the missionaries haven't been able to find her since then.  We found her and set up an appointment on Saturday.  She went to the baptism of one of her neighbors when they turned 8 back in November and so we asked her what she thought and some of the questions she had.  Her mom used to be a Jehovah's Witness so she had a lot of questions about the differences.  We explained all the elements of baptism and she loved it and it all made sense to her.  When talked about the gift of the Holy Ghost and read a part in Acts 8 and she really loved that.  She told us how her mom is also really interested in the church because she knows about all the youth programs (seminary, mutual 2nd/3rd hours of church, boy scouts, etc) and feels like it's a sign for her to listen.  Their only concern right now is about Joseph Smith but they are excited to hear about the Restoration this week.
There was one sad thing that happened this past week.  On Monday they found the body of a 25 year old guy from the branch named Willy Alvarez.  He was one of my favorite members when I was here the first time because he's such a funny guy and loves missionaries.  They don't know if something bad might of happened to him or if he just got in a really bad car accident in the middle of the night but it's hurt the branch.  His family used to live in Lodi but moved to Stockton in October of last year.  This is the 3rd member of their family to die in the last 2.5 years and it's really taking a toll on them.  It's really sad.  I know in time the "sting of death" is swallowed up in Christ.  It makes me especially grateful for the knowledge I have of the Plan of Salvation and the time I have to share it with everyone around me.
This week is going to be another great week and I'm very excited to be right where I am!
Les Quiero,
Elder Gaskill

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Two Conference Week

Hello Everyone!
It's been another great week in Galt.
This week has been full of meetings and trips to Elk Grove.  On Wednesday we had a "Spanish Conference" which is like a zone conference for all the Spanish speaking Elders and Sisters in the mission.  That was great to be able to see everyone together in one place.  It was weird though because I realized I don't know about half of all the Elders and sisters in the Spanish work.  All the Elders I know are going home in the next couple of months.  We have probably gotten about 20 new sisters in the past few transfers and a good deal of elders the past few as well.  We received a lot of specific training for the people we work with which was great because the type of work we do is completely different from the English work.  It was sad to hear that we are not doing very good as a Spanish side of the mission.  We've only have 23 baptisms this year (which means the baptisms I took part in [Mendozas, Juan Carlos, Mike Mendez, and Martin Diaz] contribute to 7 of those 23, or about 1/3 of all the baptisms in Spanish work).  We need to step it up and it looks like we will be doing that quite soon in the Lodi Branch!
We also had a mission leadership meeting on Friday which has been one of the best meetings I've been to on my mission.  They talked to all of us and told us the mission is doing great in finding people to teach and actually teaching them, but something is happening to those people and they aren't making it to the step of baptism.  We got a lot of training to take back and teach to all the other elders and sisters in the mission so that we can step it up.
Probably the most interesting thing that happened this week was with Hermana Mendoza.  I found out this week that since shortly after I left the area she really hasn't liked me.  I guess a lot of drama/gossip  happened after I left and the missionaries blamed it on me figuring I would never come back to the area and the problems would go away and be all worked out.  It would have been fine, but now I'm back! She wouldn't tell me anything but wasn't willing to trust me again.  I talked to her a lot and read her a lot of scriptures and then we left for the night.  She's been less active for a few months, since almost right after her baptism, and so we didn't know what would happen with her.  She called me the next day and told me that she had had a vision the night before and the person testified to her of everything we said and she knew she needed to move on from her past and make use of the atonement.  She said she felt like there were a lot of bad influences that made her not like me and she thought it was because I have a strong spirit that could help her out a lot and she had taken it the wrong way.  She knew she needed to come back to church.  She also said her son (who's a non-member) had a dream where he talked to God and he knew they needed to come back to church as well. It was a miracle! She still didn't want to come back to the branch because she thinks the people like to gossip but she ended up coming with her son on Sunday! They left quickly right after Sacrament meeting but it was definitely progress for her and her family.
Last night we had dinner with Juan and Jovita Rodriguez which was awesome.  She's the best cook I know in the mission!  We also got caught up with everything that happened in the past months and we got to see pictures from her son's wedding in Tampa.  It was great to see them.  Juan's mom has been in town from Mexico for the last month and they took her to Tampa, to the temple in Oakland, and to church twice here.  She loves the church but unfortunately she's leaving to Mexico today so we will send her information to the missionaries in Mexico City and hope they find her.
Things are looking up and we are very excited to see some good success in the near future!
Les Quiero,
Elder Gaskill