Thursday, December 19, 2013

Josh was baptized!

Hello Everyone!
This week was great. The best news is that Josh got baptized and confirmed. It was a great experience. He really wanted Elder Fulks to do all the ordinances since he is leaving this week and that was a great experience. He is really strong in the gospel and will be ordained to the Aaronic Preisthood next week. His situation at home is crazy and he has really bad influences all around him but he is the glimmer of light in that home. We are trying to help the rest of the family change and I think our presence has rubbed off a little bit.
We got our transfer calls and my new companion is Elder Gilray. I'm very excited.  I asked for him to get sent to me so I'm glad they made it happen.  Elder Gilray started his mission 6 weeks after me but had to go home for knee surgery after a football game in Galt in the summer of 2012.  He was only home for 3 months and has been back for a while.  He is a really good missionary (Spanish speaking) so I'm excited to work with him. He's a lot of fun. He's from Dallas, Texas and I'm pretty sure was going to BYU-I before his mission. Elder Fulks is really sad to be leaving. It's just barely dawning on him that he's actually leaving. I'm glad it's not me yet.
We are working with the members to find a lot of new people. We dropped or were dropped by almost all our investigators last week. We got down to 1 but she's still cool. She hasn't been to church yet but has seen how different she has felt meeting with us and in the ward function she went to.  She almost was admitted to the hospital last night which would have been bad but she got out of it and so now we can keep teaching her.
I'm excited to be here in the Christmas season and remind people what they should really be focused on. I continue to hope and pray that we can be lead to the people who are being prepared to meet us. I love this work!
Les Quiero Mucho,
Elder Gaskill

Monday, December 9, 2013

The work continues to roll forth here

Hello Everyone!
This past week went very well.
The highlight of the week has been continuing to work with Josh.  He is still getting baptized this Saturday and is very excited for it.  This week we will prepare the program and find out who he wants to do what.
We spent a lot of time in Galt of Tuesday which was fun.  We had to go all the way up to Rancho Cordova for a meeting in the morning so on the way back down we stayed in Galt to do some work there.  We were really excited for an appointment with one of Brenda's friends but she had to cancel because her parents didn't want us coming over. We ended up going over anyway because we listen to the Spirit instead of people as missionaries and it turned out well. We found out that they had a recent death in the family and were able to offer comfort. We are still looking for a way to teach Mariana but we have something set up at Brenda's house this week that we are excited about. 
Tuesday evening we got our Thanksgiving dinner just a little bit late. Hermana Cardona made a turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pumpkin pie.  She said it was our Christmas dinner but it seemed a lot more like Thanksgiving but it was really good! It was fun to spend some time with the Cardona family as well. 
Brenda finally got her mission call! We helped her finish her papers back in August before I left Galt but the branch president and stake president were slow in doing the interviews so everything didn't get turned in until a few weeks ago. Brenda has been waiting by the mailbox every day and the call finally came on Saturday. She opened it yesterday after church so we drove up at the end of the Spanish ward and watched her open the call. She's going to Baltimore, Maryland Spanish speaking! We were all very excited for her.  She reports to the MTC on January 29th, 2014.  I told her that since her mission starts the day before mine ends she will be taking my spot as a missionary just in a different part of the country and she will have to keep up the missionary spirit.  It was an exciting moment for everyone in the branch.
We started teaching a cool new person named Tara. She recently moved down from the Lodi hills to Lodi. She happened to move into an apartment complex where some Elders live and so when she asked for help from the apartment manager they referred her to the missionaries. They helped her and then passed her information to us. She has gone through a lot of rough things and is looking for more peace in her life. She's great and is getting along great with the ward. She came to our Christmas party and got to know a lot of people. She was supposed to come to Stake Conference yesterday but didn't make it so we'll have to find out why. She's great though.
We got to see the Rodriguez family twice as well. We were on splits with members of the stake high council and we went to see JJ but he wasn't there.  His parents didn't know we were coming either and they were with the teacher of the beauty school Jovita goes to and her husband. Right when we walked in they told us we had come at the perfect time because they were just talking about the church. Since I was the only Spanish speaker I was able to sit down and teach these people about the gospel and what we do as missionaries.  They live here in Stockton and so I am going to set them up with the Spanish missionaries here this week. Juan and Jovita were planning on taking them to the Oakland temple with the Spanish Branch to see the lights so we will have to see if that happened.
The work continues to roll forth here. It's getting cooler and closer to Christmas and I'm excited for this time of the year to be a missionary.
Les Quiero Mucho,
Elder Gaskill

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pouring out all my heart, might, mind, and strength into this work!

Hello Everyone
The last week was another great one!
Thanksgiving was a great day! We went to Lodi and had Thanksgiving dinner with the Rodriguez family. It wasn't a traditional Thanksgiving dinner but I enjoyed it.  We had a good spicy chicken in a red sauce instead of turkey, and had lots of pasta/potato salads on the side with pumpkin pie at the end.  We ate a normal amount instead of stuffing our faces and still felt good afterwards.  Later on I missed the yams from the traditional dinner we have at home but the most important part was there: being thankful and being around the people you care about.  It was fun to be in the same home for both Thanksgivings on my mission.  Their extended family was there as well and it was good to see all of them again. None of them are members so I enjoy exercising my influence on them so hopefully later down the road it will add up and make a difference. 
 We came home at about 7:00 and it was really weird not having anything to do. As a missionary it kills me not being able to use my time effectively and efficiently.  My companion went to bed really early and I spent a lot of time reading the Book of Mormon, going through our area book, and cleaning.  I still had time and had nothing to do so I ended up tying every tie I have with a new knot I learned from our investigator Josh (called the Trinity knot). I was really bored! Eventually I sat down and began to look over pictures of my mission, pictures from before, pictures with my family, etc and had a really good reflective moment to think about all that I have in my life and especially the many blessings I've seen on my mission.  I was able to notice a lot of changes that I've seen and then make plans to continue to improve and set goals for where I want to be in the future.  It was a good, relaxing evening.
We were able to work hard the rest of the week. On Saturday it was the last day of the month and we had a lot of miles saved up so we decided to drive up to Galt and work there.  We went through our list of people to visit and no one was home.  We decided to stop by the Cardona's house to see if Brenda had any friends for us to go visit.  When we arrived she was anxiously awaiting to mailman because her mission call is in the mail and she was waiting for it to arrive any second.  While we were there on the doorstep with her the mailman came but sadly she didn't have her mission call.  She decided to come out with us and introduce us to one of her friends named Mariana.  She was nervous because she thought she was really Catholic but we talked to her on her front porch for a while and she was really interested in our message.  She told us she had kind of distanced herself from the Catholic church recently because she didn't feel comfortable there and has started going to a few other churches with her friends and said she would like to go with Brenda! Right now Brenda goes to the Lodi Spanish branch so we'll have her come to the YSA a few times to help us out.  It was a great contact. Unfortunately about 20 family members were on their way over when we showed up so we had to set up another appointment for tomorrow that we are excited about.  Brenda also took us to meet another member who used to go to the branch but moved to Yuba city a little before I got there.  Between the two of them they thought of about 8 more people in Galt that we should teach and we are excited to meet them this week!
The rest of the week went really well. Josh has learned almost everything from the missionary lessons and is excited to be baptized at 1:00pm on December 14th. He even fasted with us yesterday and made it the full 2 meals.  He is such an awesome guy and I feel very privileged to be one of the missionaries teaching him.
Last night we didn't have a dinner so we went to the Hixon's house.  The Hixon family feeds all 8 missionaries in the Delta Spanish ward every Sunday so Elder Fulks and I were excited to go back and see the family as well as the current Spanish missionaries.  Everyone in the family remembered both of us, even the kids so that made us both happy.  They Hixons have a picture up of every missionary that has ever eaten dinner at their house (starting from about 4 years ago) so they have pictures covering the space right below the ceiling that goes all around their kitchen and living room.  It was weird to see how many missionaries have come since I left Stockton in June 2012.  It was also weird to see the pictures of missionaries that I knew very well that finished their missions a long time ago.  It also felt like coming home and it was good to be back.
Things are going well in our area and Elder Fulks and I feel very blessed. I feel especially blessed because I have more time left than he does (he has 2 weeks left).  We both freaked out a little bit yesterday when it became December 1st because with every new month comes the beginning of the end.  I think I might have a heart attack on New Years but I hope not. Right now I'm just focused on one day at a time making each day the best it can be and pouring out all my heart, might, mind, and strength into this work!
Les Quiero Mucho,
Elder Gaskill

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello Everyone!
This last week went really well.
Zone Conference went great! Elder Baxter inspired us all and taught us a lot of great things.  The coolest part was afterwards we had a special meeting with the 6 of us zone leaders, President & Sister Lewis, and Elder & Sister Baxter. They gave us some instruction on how to be better leaders. The coolest part was at the end we all knelt down and he said one of the best prayers I have ever heard and left countless blessings with us.  After, we tried to remember what all was said and we couldn't. We decided it was like 3 Nephi 17 where the words of the Savior couldn't be written. We have very strongly impressed upon our hearts how we felt though.
We got to have dinner with 2 of my favorite families this week: the Rodriguez family and the Barajas family.  It was great to go visit with them. I felt right at home.  We have dinner again tonight with the Rodriguez family for Thanksgiving.  We also got to see a lot of the families from the Lodi branch on Sunday while we were waiting for the Barajas to pick us up.  We got to see the Cortez, Cazares, Cardonas, Sheldons, Lopez, etc and it was great.  I got ambushed and didn't even make it to the building, we just ended up talking to everyone in the parking lot.
I got to go to Sacramento for Mark's baptism on Saturday and perform the ordinance. That was great because he had overcome so much to be baptized. It was a very sweet moment. There weren't many  people at the baptism but the Spirit was there and that's the most important part.
Last night we got to play in the Turkey Bowl that the institute put on and people came from all over Sacramento, Lodi, Stockton, and Manteca to play so it was a fun event.  My team ended up winning it all so that was an added bonus. We hardly ever get to play sports so that was a rare delicacy.  I got sick from all the other elders in my apartments so my lungs were really congested and not doing so well but I ran through it anyway and pretended like it was normal and had a lot of fun.
We have been doing lots of teaching.  We have taught a lot of people that don't seem like they're going to progress too much. Josh however is doing great and progressing towards his baptismal date of December 14th very well.  It was hard for him to hear the Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity being a 20 year old who's never had religion in his life. However, he's so humble that he readily accepted it and is trying his very best to do it! I gave him a pair of pants, a white shirt, and a tie so he would have church clothes to wear and he looked great at church; fit right in.  He has changed so much over the past few weeks since we first met him and he is very excited to be baptized.  He learned how to tie this really cool knot on a tie and taught it to us yesterday. In exchange we taught him how to tie a normal knot on a tie.
It's nice to have a break today to relax and eat some good food!
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Elder Gaskill