Monday, November 18, 2013

Missionary Work Keeps Getting Better and Better!

Hello Everyone!
I hope everyone is doing well! This was another great week in the mission.
Our investigator Josh has been progressing a lot! We introduced him to a recent convert named Carlos and they get along really well. Carlos can give him rides too since he has a car. We took Josh on a tour of the church and he loved it and was excited to come to church with us.  He is very willing to change and as soon as we taught him about the word of wisdom he made changes to  start living that commandment.  He came to church yesterday and loved it! Carlos brought him and he stayed  4 hours (Carlos had an interview after church to get his limited use recommend & get a calling).  He is doing great.
We also had Daniel, Tommy, and Lyn come to church yesterday.  Tommy is ready and has learned everything but has to get over one last thing first before he can accept a baptismal date. Daniel keeps moving around so we can't find him but we are working with him as well.
On Thursday we were with Elder Morley all day (one of the APs). It was good to be around him again and reminisce about good times we had together in El Dorado for 3 transfers.  We had a really productive day as well.
Earlier in the week we were at Hermano Ku's house (the Lodi Spanish Branch Ward Mission Leader) to get a referral. While we were there his nephew Diego walked in.  Hermano Ku's sister-in-law and family live 3 houses down the street and their family is very catholic.  Diego said he came home, no one was home, saw a missionary car and felt like he should come over and talk to us.  We talked to him about the Plan of Salvation and answered some of his questions for a while.  His family has had a lot of experience with the church and so he was interested in listening. We knew it was definitely a prompting of the spirit that got us and him there at the same time.  He didn't see it that way though. The next day, 3 more missionaries found an old referral for his mother and decided to stop by and they found Diego as well. We went back down with Elder Morley the next day.  It seems that the missionaries are all on the same wavelength (the Spirit) so we're hoping that Diego listens to the spirit as well.
On Thursday we stopped by the Barajas family and it was great to see them again.  Only Hermana was there with Andres so we had dinner with them and talked for a little while.  Andres had bought me a shirt and told me not to look at it until I got home. When we came back I looked at it and it's an awesome tank top that says "Most Dope"  haha.  We're having dinner with the whole family this Sunday and I'm excited to see them again!
We also found an old investigator up in Galt that we were teaching named Valerie and she has a lot more time now so we are going to start teaching her again!
I am excited for this coming Saturday because Mark is getting baptized! I will get to go back to North Sacramento and perform Mark's baptism. I'm excited for this weekend.
Also this week is Zone Conference. Once a year a general authority comes and tours the mission and so Elder Baxter from the Seventy is coming to all the conferences and to tour the mission.  Instead of the AP's conducting Conference they are asking the Senior Zone Leader to conduct so I will have to introduce Elder Baxter and that is kind of intimidating but it will be a cool experience!
This week will be awesome! Missionary work keeps getting better and better!
Les Quiero Mucho,
Elder Gaskill

Monday, November 11, 2013

Getting Reaquainted with Stockton

Hello Everyone!
I hope all is well.
This week was another great one!  It's been full of memories.  It's good to be back in Stockton. The last time I was here was July of 2012 so it's been a while.  It's weird to drive around some of the same streets. We mostly work on the northern side of the city, a different part than where I served the first time.  I know the main streets but am getting to know everything a lot better.  It was really weird to drive down to the southern area to visit some people.  We stopped by a few of the Spanish members homes because they have kids that are YSA (Young Single Adult) age and we wanted to invite them to some activities.  It was great to see everyone again.  Elder Fulks and I both served in Delta South near the beginning of our missions so the members remember both of us.
The work is very different here.  We work almost purely by referrals.  Ideally we want the whole family to be interested so we only get to teach them once the parents have expressed their disinterest and then we take over teaching the YSA age young adults.  It's a lot harder to fill our time so we have to find ways to find new people.  There are two colleges here: Delta college and University of the Pacific, however it's not very effective to walk around on campus contacting people so we're trying some other ways.
We are working with a few cool people.  My first appointment in the area was with a young guy named Josh.  He doesn't really know anything about God or Jesus Christ so we have been teaching him a lot.  He loves everything we share with him and after saying it a couple times it sticks with him.  He accepted the invitation to be baptized on December 7th so we are excited to help him work towards that date.  There is another investigator named Tommy who was supposed to be baptized a few weeks ago but had some problems come up so we are continuing to work with him and help him get baptized the end of this month. 
We also met a really cool guy named Steve who is dating a girl in Modesto who is a member of the church.  He used to be a Jehovah's Witness growing up but distanced himself from the church a few years back because of "the politics".  He loves everything and had trouble accepting that Joseph Smith saw God because of the scriptures in Exodus 33 that says "no man can see God and live".  We hear that a lot so it's easy to help people understand what the scriptures mean and explain the First Vision a little better. There is also another guy named Daniel who the missionaries were teaching but he disappeared for a while.  He showed up to church by himself yesterday and was really excited to be back.  He has figured a lot of things out and we are happy to start working with him again.
I also got to see a few members of the Lodi branch recently.  Last night we went up and visited with Juan, Jovita, and JJ Rodriguez (luckily JJ is in the YSA ward so it gives us good reason to go visit the family).  It was a very sweet experience because yesterday was November 10th, exactly a year after the day Juan and Jovita were baptized.  I love that family so much and I am so happy to see the progress they are making and the strength of their testimonies.  JJ's year anniversary is coming up on December 29th so I will also be here for that.  I think the plan is for the whole family to go to the temple in January to get sealed.  I hope the plan sticks so I can still be here to accompany them to the temple!
Yesterday I also got to confer the Aaronic Priesthood on a new member of the YSA ward named Carlos.  He was baptized about 2 weeks ago and I was surprised that he picked me to perform the ordinance since I had only known him for 4 days.  It was a really cool experience.
Things are going great and I am very happy to be a missionary!
Les Quiero Mucho!
Elder Gaskill

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Going back to Stockton

Hello Everyone!
This past week was another great one!
The big news this week are transfers. My transfer call came and I am getting transferred to the South Stockton Zone in the Pacific Young Single Adult ward.  My new companion is Elder Fulks (another Spanish speaking missionary). He goes home at the end of this transfer so I will be his last companion.  Our zone is pretty small (there are 2 in Stockton).  In Our zone we have 3 English companionships, 1 Hmong, 1 Lao, and 1 Cambodian.  All the other Spanish companionships are in the North Stockton zone. I am sad to be leaving such a great zone and companion in North Sacramento but I'm excited to go back to the valley.  One of the things I'm excited for is our YSA ward also covers Lodi and Galt.  That means I can go visit the Rodriguez and other families in Lodi (and JJ will be in the YSA) and also the Barajas and other families in Galt! It will be fun. I feel like I get to go home for the holidays (:
This week was a lot of fun! It was a little bit slow because of some meetings we had to do and other trainings but it was a lot of fun. On Halloween we got together as a zone and watched a new movie that came out from Deseret Book called "Ephraim's Rescue".  It was pretty good and about a man who was prepared his whole life to help rescue some of the pioneers in a handcart company that wouldn't have made it to Salt Lake otherwise.  Afterwards Elder Ross and I did our zone training.  We made it a lot of fun.  We started out by bringing everyone into a room with the lights out filled with fog (from a fog machine). Elder Ross and I had blankets on so we looked like something creepy.  We had flashlights shining up at our faces and creepy music on in the background. We welcomed them to zone training and then moved into another room to actually do it.  We were training on commitments so at the end we practiced by trick or treating.  Except we had the missionaries dress up in costumes (mummies with toilet paper, ghosts with sheets, crazy hair wigs, etc) and go "trick-or-treating" by teaching the people behind the doors and giving them a pre-decided commitment.  They were rewarded with candy if they did a good job. It was a lot of fun.
The most exciting thing that happened this week was with Mark. We didn't hear from him all week so we used our secret agent skills and found out where his parents live (which is where we moved).  We were waiting for him to contact us and just listened to the Spirit in the meantime.  On Saturday we felt prompted to go to his old place of residence where Kelly was.  She was there crying and in a lot of pain because she was really sick.  We offered to give her a priesthood blessing but needed a guy to come over.  She told us Mark was on his way over so we waited for him.  When he got there he told us he was sorry but his phone was out of minutes so he wasn't able to get in touch with us all week.  We gave Kelly a blessing and it went really well.  She told us all day she had been praying that someone would come over to help her out and we told her we were prompted to go over there.  Mark also told us he was prompted to pick up the phone and call her that morning and that's why he had come over.  It looks like we were all on the same page and things worked out!
Mark came to church yesterday and now he is 100% ready for baptism! We set a new baptismal date for November 23rd with him! We are all very excited!
That's about it for this week. New adventures to come in Stockton!
Love you all! Les Quiero!
Elder Gaskill