Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Haydee Barajas Baptism

Hello Everyone!

This week was a great one as they all are but very different.

It is different being in English work but I'm doing the best I can to remember all the English I used to use.  You wouldn't think that it's weird since I spoke English most of the time anyway, but it really is a big difference.
Elder Baryshnikov and I are doing great.  I'll tell you a little bit more about him.  He is the same age as I and is from Sandy, Utah (just as many other good missionaries I've served with).  He was born in Russia and came to the United States when he was young but he speaks Russian pretty well because his mom always spoke it.  He's pretty tall (probably about 6'3") so I feel short again being around him.  He likes snowboarding.  He's a really nice guy and I'm excited to be his last companion.

This week has been pretty good, doing a lot of things to get to know the area better.  The zone is doing really well and our area is doing really well but we don't have any investigators that are really really close yet.  We have an investigator that has been taught for over a year working towards getting baptized on September 21st.  We'll have a crucial lesson tonight to help us know if he'll be ready for then.  We have another investigator named Immanuel.  He is from Nigeria and moved here recently and moved in with a less active lady.  He wants to get baptized but needs to move out from where he's living since he doesn't want to get married to that lady.  This past week we found him a place to leave and he's moving in on the first of September and he should be able to be baptized shortly after that.  We have plenty of other people that we're beginning to work with, so we'll see in the next week who sticks out from the rest.

The highlight of this week was when I went back for the baptism of Haydee Barajas.  Grace and Andres didn't end up getting baptized with their mom but that's OK with me because when they're ready I'll get to go back for another baptism in Lodi (: The baptism went really well.  Elder Lee and I were the lead missionaries for the 2 that got baptized but since we got transferred the week of the baptism things were organized by the younger missionaries and could have been better but were good opportunities for them to learn.  I was really happy to see that the whole Barajas family came to the baptism; even the husband.  We talked a lot and he was really sad that I had left but made sure to let me know that anything I need in the future he would love to help me with.  The Barajas family is also excited to meet my family someday down the road.  We also have it worked out so that they can take me to Mexico with them in December 2014 (they go every December during winter break but that will be the first one that I'm home for).  I got to baptize Haydee and it was a great experience.  I didn't get to witness the confirmation but I'm sure it went great.

Today I got to go to Coloma (where gold was discovered) with a bunch of missionaries.  In the California Sacramento Mission they always take the missionaries to Coloma 1 Pday before they go home so a lot of the missionaries I came out with and I got to go to Coloma and it was a lot of fun.  We didn't find gold but it was a good time.  I won the horse shoe throwing competition with my companion though!

Well I'll try to find some more things to talk about in my new area next week!

Les Quiero,
Elder Gaskill

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Transferred to an English Speaking Area

Hello Everyone!
I hope all is well! Things are going well out here.
The biggest news is that I'm getting transferred.  I will be going to the North Sacramento Zone with Elder Baryshnikov.  I've never met him before but this is his last transfer in the mission.  We cover an English ward there so that will be the biggest change.  I'm really sad to be leaving Spanish work.  I hope I get a chance to go back before my mission ends.  I'm excited to be with a really experienced missionary and to learn from him.  I'm also sad to be leaving the Lodi Branch.  I really do feel like this is my home here.  But there's always something new to learn and some people I need to find so I'm excited for this new opportunity.  
Other news with transfers; Elder Russell is training a new missionary! That means I'll be a "grandpa" as we call ourselves in the mission.  I can't wait to meet Elder Russell's trainee.
Things went really well here this past week.  The Barajas family didn't get baptized.  We decided to put it off one more week because everything was getting really rushed and we wanted everything to get done right.  There were miracles that accompanied the family this week though.  A week ago in our lesson we challenged everyone to pray specifically if they need to get baptized on the date that they have. We all knelt and prayed together and had a really good experience.  After we left that night, Hermana Barajas got ready for bed and then prayed again before she went to bed.  She fell asleep really quickly and really oddly.  At 11:00 pm that same night she woke up thinking it was morning feeling refreshed and ready for the next day.  She looked at her clock and realized only a short time had passed and remembered she had a dream.  She dreamed that she was at a baptismal service just like the one she saw at Martin's baptism, and I was baptizing her! So she had a really cool answer to her prayers.  She is doing great and preparing as best she can for her baptism.  Andres and Grace are doing well as also.  They aren't sure if they want to get baptized with their mom because they feel like it's really soon and they aren't sure because they didn't get an answer to their prayers the same way as their mom.  I'm sure they will be taking the step very soon if not this Saturday.  They all had their baptismal interviews on Sunday so they're ready, they just have to make the decision to be baptized with their mom.
I don't really have too much time to talk today but things are going really well! I'll try to say more next week.  The Barajas are doing great and there are lots of new people to be teaching for Elder Idso and Elder Gilray when he gets here.
Hope everyone has a great week!
Les Quiero Mucho!
Elder Gaskill

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Barajas Family

Hello Everyone!
This last week was great and an awesome opportunity to grow.
Monday our recent convert, Hermano Guzman came to us and taught us this cool martial arts/workout thing.  It was one of the best workouts I've done on my mission and my legs were pretty worn after that.  We're going to do it again today in about an hour!
This week we continued teaching the Barajas family and things went great.  We were hoping to have a member take the family to do a tour of the temple in Oakland but that never went through.  Later in the week we took Jovita Rodriguez to their lesson and it turned out awesome.  We were focusing on them to make sure they were still ready for baptism on the 10th.  We talked about Joseph Smith and the Restoration again since everything is focused on that and the Spirit was really strong in that lesson.  Jovita talked about her experience in the temple and leading up to her baptism and it was great for the Barajas family.  They said it was hard to know for sure that everything really happened to Joseph Smith that he said but we talked a lot about faith and they realized they have felt the Spirit testifying about it.  When we were talking about baptism, Hermana Barajas blurted out to me "you're too convincing and you just make me want to do everything that you say".  I told her that it wasn't me but the Spirit but it was still funny to hear that.  At the end of the lesson we all knelt down and Hermana Barajas prayed and asked specifically if they should be baptized on August 10th.  After the prayer ended we all stayed with our eyes closed kneeling down for about 6 minutes before we stood up again.  We talked about how peaceful we all felt and Hermana Barajas told us how she felt a warmth in her chest and we used that opportunity to point out the Spirit. 
 They told us they weren't sure if they were going to make it to church yesterday because a long time ago they had promised to help their neighbor cook all the food for their daughter's quincinera that was on Sunday.  They decided to make their best effort to go even if it was just for Sacrament Meeting.  We set up a temple tour with them on Saturday morning as well.  Friday night we called to confirm everything and give them the address and everything was good to go.  On Saturday we got to the temple, and were there for about 3 hours but the Barajas family never showed up.  We kept calling their house but could never get a hold of them.  We kept calling them all afternoon and even stopped by but we couldn't get a hold of them.  We were really worried.  We spent a lot of time prayer and putting our faith in the Lord and just being diligent in working and knowing that the Lord would provide.  Sunday morning we went over to their house and the husband was home so we talked to him for about an hour.  The mom was at the old folks home taking care of her patient and the beans were cooking on the stove and the dad said they weren't going to church that day so we were really worried.  Elder Idso was really worried and I was doing my best to have faith and assure my companion that everything would be OK.  And then a miracle occurred and they came! We were so happy and so grateful but after the trial of our faith we were made stronger.  The Barajas family could only stay the first hour like they said but they did come to church and they are on track to get baptized this Saturday! It was a great week and I am looking forward to this next one!
We had some other cool things happen but I really only have time for that story.
I hope everyone is doing well!
Les Quiero Mucho!
Elder Gaskill

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Hello Everyone!
This week was another great one!

We went on two exchanges and they were both awesome!

On Wednesday I went on exchanges with Elder Ruiz on bike (which was awesome) in Lodi. We had a really cool miracle. We went to an apartment complex to look for a name/address we had and they weren't home so we decided to knock on the other three doors. We talked to a girl who was kind of interested but we wanted to wait to teach the whole family instead of just a 17 year old girl. We knocked on another door and a guy opened up without a shirt and and started talking to us in a friendly way. After about 2 minutes of talking he said he was going to put a shirt on and invited us in. He told us he is a welder and normally would have been working but got out early that day. He told us how he doesn't believe in any church but believes  in the bible.  Has found things that go against the bible in every church he's known. He mentioned that he had heard a little bit about our church because he had a brother in law who lived with a Mormon family somewhere in Colorado for a long time and the only thing he heard about them is that they had a really good, happy life. We told him about the great apostasy after the times of Christ and then about the restoration and really liked it. He especially was interested in the book of Mormon. When we challenged him to be baptized he accepted! He is going to be a really solid investigator for the Spanish elders in Lodi. Throughout the rest of the day we had some other really good teaching opportunities and had an awesome day.

On Friday Elder Torres came up to be on exchanges with me. I was really excited because some of the best days of my mission have been when Elder Torres and I were on exchanges in Stockton and Elk Grove. It followed the pattern because we had an awesome day. We found two new families that seem to be really interested that accepted the invitation to be baptized. We saw a mildly less active family that Elder Torres baptized a year and a half ago when he was starting his mission and put a new fire back in them and they are coming back to church again! Things went really well and we had an awesome day together as we always do.

We continued teaching the Barajas family the regular lessons that we have and now we are focusing on getting them 100% ready for baptism on August 10th. They are doing great on their reading/praying but are still not 100% sure about getting an answer. They all came to church this past week except Grace because she was on a Future Farmers of America retreat from Saturday to Tuesday. We are having a member family take them to the Oakland temple on Wednesday so they can see the visitor's center and feel the spirit there. We are also going to take them to the Sacramento temple on Saturday as well while the rest of the branch is doing baptisms for the dead. We are really excited for this family and are continuing to help with everything that we can so that they become truly converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Last night we met a really cool couple named Alex and Brenda. They were sitting outside their apartment while we were going to visit another family but stopped to give them a card and ended up teaching about the restoration. The husband seems to be prepared because he used to be 7th day Adventist but stopped going to church a year and a half ago. He believes in the possibility of prophets and loves everything we shared. He already liked missionaries because about a year and a half ago when he lived in Fresno, some missionaries helped him cut down a tree in their white shirts and that really impressed him. The unfortunate thing is that he is about to start working a second job for about 2 months that will keep him busy from 5am-12pm every day for the next 2 months. We are hoping to have a miracle with them so we can keep teaching them.

Things are going great here and I hope everyone is well at home as well!

Les Quiero,

Elder Gaskill