Thursday, July 25, 2013

"Heart Attacked"

Hello Everyone,
I hope all is well wherever you may be. Things are going great here.

The only big thing going on here is with the Barajas family. We kept teaching them this week. They had a lot of questions about the Priesthood because it was mentioned a lot in church and in the baptism so we got to talk a lot more about that and teach them about the gospel of Jesus Christ as well. They came to church yesterday as well and seemed to like it. The 9 year old daughter Adriana came as well and seemed to like it. I was a little worried about them because the 2 speakers were a high council rep (with a very bad Spanish accent) and the branch president (who has decent Spanish but not nearly as good as a native) the other 2 hours were great though and the Spirit is always there so I let God take charge of everything. They went and had dinner with the Ku family after church as well and I hope things went well there. We were able to talk to the dad this week in one of the lessons. We talked about soccer for an hour to get acquainted and then he stayed to listen to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He shared his opinions and doesn't seem really open to listen and try things out but he seems to be OK with the rest of his family progressing in the gospel. We also challenged the original 3 to be baptized on August 10th. They were a little hesitant because they think it's really soon but they are willing to work towards it. After church on Sunday we gave them "firm calendars" that will help them read & pray on a daily basis and come to church every week so that they will be ready for baptism on that day. I love this family so much and I always am worried about something happening to them and am thinking about them and praying for them all day. Keep them in your prayers at home!

We also had a cool experience with the Cardona family (members). They have a great aunt in town from El Salvador and about a week ago she had a stroke. She was in a hospital near San Francisco on life support. On Wednesday night they were going to take her off life support so they wanted missionaries to give her a blessing before they took her off. I spent about an hour on the phone trying to get ahold of Spanish missionaries and branch presidency members out there and finally about 10:00 pm some Spanish missionaries got there to give the blessing. The next day we found out that when they took her off the life support, she didn't pass away, but started recuperating! She started moving her limbs, and after about 24 hours she could sit up, talk, and eat. The doctors were amazed and they say she's even going to be able to walk again (this lady is about 90 years old and had a stroke that initially paralyzed half her body). The power of the priesthood is real! We were really a part of this miracle, we just found the missionaries contact information and they did the rest. It was great to hear about that miracle as well though.

Something funny also happened on Friday night. At about 10:30pm the doorbell rang and I thought we were getting "ding-dong-ditched" so I ran to the door but realized I wasn't properly dressed so I had to throw some clothes on real quick. I ran out the door and started looking for people down the street and couldn't find anyone. My companion came out and realized there were cut out hearts all over the door with our names on them. I guess we got "heart-attacked" I've never heard of that before but it was kind of cool. We'll have to get our members back though (:

Well it was a great week and we're looking forward to more miracles in the coming weeks.

Les Quiero!

Elder Gaskill

Monday, July 15, 2013

Fantastic Week!

Hello Everyone!
I hope things are going well! This last week was probably one of my favorite weeks of my mission; it was great!
I can't remember many the things that happened off of the top of my head but here are some of them:
We have been doing some tracting lately which I haven't done in a long time but I felt like just hitting the streets this week so we went out a few times.  We usually look for Spanish houses but if there are any people outside we always talk to them and then send a referral to the English elders.  
This week we met a lady named Cecilia and when we walked by I started speaking Spanish to her but she interrupted me and said "I have no idea what you're saying; I'm one of the only people in this area that speaks English".  We got to know her a little bit and even though it was really late I felt prompted to get all her information, teach her a little bit about the gospel, and ask if we could come back.  We passed the information along to our roommates that night and didn't think anything more of it.  The next evening we came home and our roommates told us that they had been to see Cecilia and that she was great! They said she's going through some tough times and a lot of family members that have passed away recently.  She is willing to do anything that the missionaries say and that she is willing to read anything they give her. She said that she wants to come to church and be baptized! We just happened to be in the right place at the right time and the Spirit guided us to someone that needed the gospel even if it wasn't someone we were going to teach!
Martin's baptism went great yesterday.  We finished teaching him and he was all ready for the baptism.  We ended up re-scheduling the electrical work for this coming Wednesday so that there wouldn't be any potential problems for him getting baptized on Sunday.  When Sacrament meeting started he wasn't there so we were worried but we called him and he said he was on his way and just coming late.  During the last hour of church we were running around making copies of the program, filling the font, getting everyone fitted with baptismal suits, etc but everything was ready on time.  We had to do everything ourselves since Hermano Ku (the ward mission leader) went to Provo for the weekend but he ended up getting back an hour before the baptism started and was able to be there.  Martin even had some family come and the branch supported him really well.
We have seen another few miracles with a family we are teaching called the Barajas family.  We have only been teaching the mom and her two oldest kids (16 y/o and 14 y/o) but not the 9 y/o because she has soccer practice a lot and her dad is the coach so he's never there either.  He doesn't have a problem with us being there but hasn't been able to listen yet.  On Friday he was with his son and he heard that they were going to church with us this weekend and got really mad.  That night he confronted his wife about it but she stood firm that they were going to church with us.  He told us all we wanted to do is convert/change them and she said "How are they going to change me if I'm not even Catholic?" Then he threatened to run us off their property the next time we came over but she stood up for us and said "It's my house.  I'll let in who I want.  They aren't doing anything bad like inviting us to dances.  They're teaching us about God".  She called us Saturday morning crying and asked for a member's phone number who we had taken to visit them last.  She ended up talking to the wife and she helped calm her down after this little argument, then called us back to let us know what was happening so we wouldn't be worried.  On Sunday the 3 of them showed up to church early and stayed for all 3 hours.  We had lots of members ready to make friends with them and it really worked and they loved it! Afterwards we asked them if they wanted to stay for the baptism to see what it's like and they said  "We're already here, we might as well stay".  They stayed for the baptism and loved it! The mom even started crying during the baptism because she felt the spirit so strongly.  When her kids saw her crying they came to me and said "My mom's crying, what do I do?!"  I used it as a moment to teach them about the Spirit bearing witness to them powerfully that this was true.  They had a great time and are progressing well.  I feel very blessed to be teaching this family that is doing everything they can to follow God in their lives and come to know His true church.  We still have a lot to do to overcome the concerns of the father of the family though.
Things are going well here and I'm loving every second of every day! I think I'm even getting used to the heat here! This work is the best.
Les Quiero Mucho,
Elder Gaskill

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Martin's Baptism this Sunday

Hello Everyone!
This week was another great one!
The highlight of this week was with our investigator Martin.  He's going to get baptized next Sunday and we are really excited about that.  He's been taught almost everything, and already had his baptismal interview so he's good to go! We check on him every day to see how things are going and on Saturday we're going over to help him do some electrical work so he doesn't get electrocuted and have anything bad happen the day before his baptism.
The 4th of July was a lot of fun.  We had to have all our meetings and planning sessions for the week on that day.  Then we had a big bbq (they call them "carne asada"s in Spanish) at the sister in law's house of our ward mission leader and that was great.  Afterwards we got together as a zone and played sports for a while.  When we were leaving we noticed that almost the whole northern section of Lodi was shut down for the fireworks show at Lodi Lake.  Most of the big streets were shut down and all the streets were lined with cars and people were all over the place.  It kind of felt like an end of the world movie where nothing is organized and people are going around as if there were no rules anymore.  We had fun making our way through everything to drop the elders off at their house and then return to Galt.  Elder Williams and I climbed up on the roof of our house to watch the smaller-scale fireworks show that the city of Galt puts on at the flea market. I was a little bit sad because the 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays and I didn't get to enjoy it how I normally would but it was a lot of fun for a missionary!
On Friday we met with  a really cool family that we met with a few weeks ago.  The family had heard the missionaries about a 6 years ago but wasn't interested then.  They went to church once but at that time it was just a small group meeting with a Galt ward and they really didn't like that.  She wanted us to teach her kids.  We went with a member and got to know then and asked what they wanted us to do for them.  They said they wanted us to teach them and get to know more about the Mormon church.  We asked them if they could ask God one question what would it be.  Two of the answers were good but one was funny.  The mom asked how she could know is she was being faithful to what Heavenly Father wanted, and the son asked how he could avoid all the bad things in the world.  The daughter said she would want to ask him if there was really such thing as soul mates.... At least two of them were going in the right direction.  We shared the Restoration with them and they really like it and thought it was interesting.  We're excited to go back and teach them later this week.
After fast Sunday we had two dinners and it made Elder Idso almost puke.  He doesn't eat very much and usually only eats one meal a day so having two dinners was a lot for him.  However we got invited to another dinner (from a lady in Lodi that is one of my favorite cooks) so we couldn't say no.  We had some awesome enchiladas and then went and had dinner with our branch president and his wife.  I'm used to eating a lot when I have to from being here so long but Elder Idso wasn't.  He wanted to make himself throw up after but he decided not to and ended up being fine the rest of the night.
I'll tell a little bit more about my companion Elder Idso.  He's a smaller guy; probably about 5'5".  He's from Gilbert, Arizona and is the 2nd oldest of 5.  He has an older sister serving a mission in Nashville, TN (they reported to the MTC on the same day).  His dad is a scientist and he is an awesome guy.  He's really young, his birthday was actually yesterday and just barely turned 19! He has a great spirit and his Spanish is coming along great.  He's an awesome missionary!
We look forward to having lots more success this week and keeping things going well!
Les Quiero,
Elder Gaskill

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sweating Buckets in 100+ degree heat

Hello Everyone!
This week was a great one as are they all.
The most recent news is our transfers. Sadly Elder Sempf is leaving to go to the Sacramento 7th Branch which is great.  My new companion will be Elder Idzo (Elder Russell's MTC companion).  Elder Russell (although this is only his 4th transfer) is a senior companion and is follow-up training an Elder who is 6 weeks younger than him in the mission in Rancho Cordova! I'm so excited for him; he is really a great missionary.  Elder Guzman is going home which is sad but Elder Torres is taking his place (another good friend in the mission).
Our week went really well.  We have 2 families that we started teaching that live out in the little city of Thornton.  They know Hermano Ku (our ward mission leader) and really enjoyed the two lessons we shared with them.  They were really interested and loved everything we shared with them.  Unfortunately they didn't come to church because they chose to go to the mall instead but we will be sure to talk about a commandment God gave us about keeping the sabbath day holy (:
The other family we have is the Vasquez-Acampo family.  We just happened to find them and the husband was really interested and let us in and we taught him.  It turns out the missionaries taught them about 10 years ago.  He said they went to church, the temple in Oakland, and he really loved it.  He told us his wife doesn't really like it because she heard that members have to have 7 wives.  She wouldn't sit down and talk with us so we just taught the dad and his 15 year old son Daniel.  We went back later in the week with a member and had another great lesson.... until the very end.  We were committing the dad and the son to come to church when the mom walked in, rolled her eyes, and yelled: "Jesus, that's what you want, don't speak for us! I already told you the first time that I didn't like them.  And if you want to continue with them then I'm going to leave you!" Not what you want to hear.  There wasn't a whole lot more we could do because they needed to communicate better as a family but they said they were going to all talk about it and before the next time we meet, so we'll have to go back in the next few days and see how things played out.
It's been really hot here, usually gets up to about 110 every day.  We're well used to sweating all day, even the mornings/evenings when it's only 90s.  I love it though! I feel like through small sacrifices like this one the Lord will see the love we have for Him and our brothers and sisters and bless us with success in this work!
I hope everyone has a great week!
Les Quiero Mucho!
Elder Gaskill