Monday, October 28, 2013

Unexpected Blessings

Hello Everyone!
I don't have a lot of time to email this week but we had an amazing week!  We found so many solid new people and things are going well.
We found a lady named Leah who has a 10 year old daughter named Heavenly.  They used to meet with the missionaries and she loves everything she hears.  She accepted the invitation to be baptized on November 23rd and we are trying to start teaching her daughter as well.
We also got a referral for some really cool people on Saturday named Kisa, Uriah, and Jai.  It is a mom and her two kids and they were really excited to come to church.
Unfortunately Emmanuel and Alexandria both dropped us this week.  Emmanuel is too stressed out with not working and so many bad things going on in his life so he put us on hold until some things get worked out. The same situation happened with Alexandria's mom so she doesn't want us coming over anymore.
We also met with RJ & Jessica and they were really excited to come to church.
We had 9 people lined up for church this week but not a single one came.  RJ was in the hospital sick so they weren't able to come.  Kisa, Uriah, and Jai had some family troubles and weren't able to get ready on time.  We're not sure what happened to Leah and Heavenly but we had a miracle even though so much DIDN'T happen:   We were only able to see Mark once this week.  On Monday we got a call from him and he told us that his "wife" that he's lived with for 8 years is actually still married from a previous relationship so they can't get married right now anyway.  He was really sad and said it looked like he wasn't going to be able to be baptized for about a year.  We said so many prayers trying to know how to help him and felt like nothing happened all week.  He was busy with midterms so we didn't get to see him until Saturday and read 1 Nephi 17 with him.  Sunday he didn't show up to church but during Elder's Quorum he texted us and said "I broke up with Kelly this morning and moved out. That's why I didn't come to church".  It was definitely a miracle that made up for the rest of our investigators not coming to church.  We haven't been able to get in touch with him yet to find out where he moved to but we are hoping to get in touch with him today and have a miracle baptism this week! My testimony of faith and prayers coupled with good works was definitely strengthened this week and I know that miracles happen!
We were really disappointed this week because we were supposed to have 5 baptisms in the zone and not a single one happened.  One of the investigators is having trouble believing in modern prophets and went back to her old church.  Another is getting deported to Mexico this Saturday because his work just ended. Two we found are involved with relationships where either them or their spouse is married to someone else and living with a person who is already married, and the last one didn't get permission from her mom to get baptized.  It was a really great week for Elder Ross and I but it's been a sad month for the zone.  Luckily I've learned to roll with the punches and can share my experiences and I don't get down when bad things happen in the work.
We are looking forward to more success in the coming weeks.
I forgot to mention that we have another investigator named Johny with a baptismal date for November 23 as well.
I love being a missionary!
Les Quiero,
Elder Gaskill

Monday, October 21, 2013

Everything is Great!

Hello Everyone,
Another great week is in the books!
We're still continuing to work with Mark. We're trying to help him get baptized this Saturday and help our zone/missions reach the goals we have.  He still has the issue of not being married. Right now he doesn't have the money to buy a ring and he can't move out and leave his girlfriend alone because her health is really bad. So we're hoping that some money comes out of the sky this week.
Other things went really well this week.  We found a few new people to teach that sound really promising. After we left a lesson with Mark we had an appointment for dinner 15 minutes later and it was about 10 minutes away. We decided to go visit one more person first even though we didn't have much  time.  We stopped at the house of an old referral from almost a year ago.  The lady who opened the door wasn't the name we were looking for.  We continued to talk to her anyway and tried to share the gospel with her.  It turns out that this lady's mom got baptized when she was a little girl but she wasn't involved in the church very much since her parents were split up.  She only spent about 3 months of the year with her mom and the rest of the year she spent with her dad and step-mom who are Jehovah's Witnesses.  She got really confused between the two churches and now as an adult has distanced herself from any specific church.  She said her LDS mom is great and the church might be something missing in her life.  She told us that recently she has been praying for change.  We said a quick prayer with her and then she told us she felt that we were definitely an answer to her prayers and were sent from God.  It was an awesome contact that most missionaries only dream about.  We are teaching her for the first time tomorrow and are very excited! Her name is Lauren.
We also found a couple that is really cool and loves learning.  They aren't very good at keeping commitments or appointments.  The guy's best friend growing up was a member of the church so we are going to see if we can track him down and have him help us.  The names of these two are RJ & Jessica.
Our investigator from Ghana named Emmanuel also came to church for the first time and loved it.  He wore his clothes from his home country and he looked really good all dressed up in gold.  He definitely stood out because he was also wearing khaki shorts and sandals but it was good because the ward members actually noticed him and then were able to come up and introduce themselves to him so he has more friends in the church.
We are also working with a few more people that have been coming to church and things are going really well with them right now.  Everything is going great. My health is good, my schedule is busy, and I don't have time to think about anything but missionary work.  As a zone we are struggling to meet our goal of baptisms for the month of October so any free time I have is spent finding ways to help the zone achieve our goals.  My companions continue to remind me that my mission clock is running down so it's a good thing I don't have any time to notice how fast the time really is going by.  The holidays are coming up soon so hopefully we can continue to get more people to teach as moods begin to lift and members invite their friends to the ward activities.
Les Quiero Mucho,
Elder Gaskill

Monday, October 14, 2013

October 14, 2013

Hello Everyone!
This week was an interesting week and not a whole lot happened but I'll share the most important parts.
We worked a lot with Mark this week trying to get him married so he could be baptized this week.  Things didn't end up going through.  When he talked to his "wife" about getting married she told him that she wasn't going to marry him until he got her a ring.  He was a little disappointed that he couldn't be baptized but was excited for one day down the road when he could.  However, missionaries aren't nearly that patient, especially when they have such a little time to make a difference in people's lives.  We asked him to pray about if he still needed to get baptized.  This first time he got a weird answer that he wasn't comfortable about because he felt like it wasn't an answer that came from God (which he was right about because it was really negative).  We tried to get him to pray with us again the next night but he felt like a lot of bad spirits were keeping him from being able to do it so we helped calm him down and he committed to do it again that night.  The answer he got the next night was better and we were able to help him recognize the spirit and the promptings it was giving.  The big thing that we are working on now is to be able to talk to his wife so we can help her understand why they need to get married.  They're "anniversary" was this past weekend so they were going out and Mark was going to sit her down and have her watch the Restoration DVD and then try to talk to her.  We were letting him get up for church and over there completely on his own, but he didn't show up so we'll have to figure out what happened and get him married and baptized by the end of this month.  More to come on Mark.  He's awesome but he needs lots of support to make it sooner rather than later to this step.
This week Elder Gurr came down from the mission office to do exchanges with us and other Elders in the zone.  What we do on these exchanges is we do quick "team ups" with most of the companionships in the zone.  We meet up with the companionship, the AP goes with new missionary/younger companion and we go with the other missionary.  They are supposed to set up as many appointments as they can and we go with them and make the time we have with them as spiritual and motivating as possible to help the missionaries learn and get to know them better.  We went on 6 exchanges throughout the day and it was amazing to see the work that was done in just an hour or two.  At the very beginning of the day we found a girl name Sabryna who was supposed to get baptized that weekend but the missionaries hadn't been able to get in touch with her for about 2 weeks.  We found her, recommitted her for baptism in October, and put the fire back in her that had been lost for a little while.  Later in the day we found a few new investigators, invited them to baptism, and taught some really good lessons.  My favorite part of the day was when we were able to split with the Spanish missionaries and I got to speak Spanish again! We taught a  few people, and committed an investigator named Maria to be baptized on November 16th.  It was a lot of fun that day.  
Those days are the most draining physically because you have to be on your A+ game for every minute of the day to lift and inspire the missionaries you're with. Normally on a typical day of missionary work you will teach 2-3 lessons and maybe find a new person to teach and then have lots of other contacts and missionary activities during the day.  When we totaled up all that we had done, we taught 9 lessons, got a few referrals, added 3 new investigators, visited 4 less actives, and committed 2 people to baptism on specific dates.  It was an amazing day and filled with miracles.  It was a great opportunity to be able to help so many missionaries.
This Sunday was probably one of my favorite Sundays of my mission.  The talks that were given in Sacrament meeting were by a new couple in the ward that have young kids and are both returned missionaries.  They talked about receiving revelation and it was really inspiring.  Our gospel principles class talked a lot about modern day prophets and that was great as well.  In Elder's Quorum we talked about missionary work to top it all off.  Sundays are always the best and so refreshing!
It was a great week and as always I'm looking forward to this next one!
Les Quiero Mucho,
Elder Gaskill

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Believing, Bold, Baptizing California Sacramento Missionaries

Hello Everyone
Hope the last week went well.
This past week we had lots of exciting things happen in the mission. On Tuesday we had our Zone Leader Round Table meeting and talked about how the mission was doing.  We were disappointed at some of the recent outcomes of baptisms in the mission so we decided to make a training for all the leadership positions in the mission that Thursday.  It turned out to be a great meeting and was really inspiring.  We heard lots of great ideas on being "Believing, Bold, Baptizing California Sacramento Missionaries".  The thoughts that were presented were really cool. We took the same training to do it in our own way for our zone.  One of the interesting things we did had to do with believing.  We talked about the word "believe" meaning "to allow" because you can't exceed the limit of what you believe you can do.  We gave an example of having everyone write down how many cups of water they thought they could drink in 30 seconds and then we did the challenge.  It was a lot of fun and really instructional as well.  Some of the missionaries were able to drink as much as they could and had extra after 30 seconds while some weren't able to reach their full potential because they were only given the number of cups full of water that they thought they could drink.  One elder managed to chug 5 cups of water (about 80 fluid ounces) in 30 seconds which was really impressive.  He almost threw up after but he didn't so everything turned out OK.  We're excited to see a lot of success in our zone in the months to come.
One thing I forgot to mention about my companion.  The first time I met him was his first couple months in the mission.  We were both in the Lodi zone.  My companion was Elder Martinez and Elder Ross was in the Lodi Hills with Elder Gurr. After a zone training we were driving back to our areas. While my companion was driving we were side by side to Elder Ross and his companion.  I motioned for him to roll down the window.  After he did I pulled out a little nerf gun I had in the car and shot him in the ear.  They continued down the road and we turned away to where we were going.  We were never really around each other so we never talked about it but the first day we were companions (a year later) he brought it up to me and we had a good laugh about it.  It seems like we're always laughing and we get along great which is awesome.
We've been working a lot with Mark and he has been progressing nicely.  We have one last kink that we have to work out though.  We found out that he's not married, he's just been living with his "wife" for 8 years.  We told him he needs to be married and so he decided to ask his wife to get married.  However, she said no because she wants a ring and he doesn't have one or money to get one because of his financial situation with school and everything.  Mark's baptismal date is this Saturday so we're working with him a lot to either figure out how he can get married or how he can move out so that he's not breaking the law of chastity.  It will be a lot of work but I have the faith that the Lord will help us so that we can meet our goals and Mark can receive these blessings.
General Conference was great and I was very inspired by it! I can't wait to apply the messages I've heard.  I hope a lot of members get the hint about what so many church leaders talked about (member missionary work)! It's an exciting time to be a missionary and I love every minute of it!
Les Quiero Mucho!
Elder Gaskill

Elder Russell, Elder Gaskill, Elder Guzman: Three Generations

Elder Gaskill dying his companion's hair brown from red

Finished Product: Brunettes!

Martin Camillo's baptism

Elders got "heart attacked"

Barajas Family

Saying Goodbye to Hermano Ku, ward mission leader and Hermana Ku

Saying goodbye to Nara and Lopez families

Haydee Barajas baptism