Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dec 22, 2014 Come on, Vamamos!

To whom it may concern, (and those that it doesn’t concern but are reading this anyways)

Usually it’s hard to write letters because all my weeks are the same and i can’t remember what we did. (but then I do remember and end up writing a novel) but anyways, this week I don’t have that problem.

monday. p-day, usually those are pretty easy. when you were just in the (expensive) hospital and have neither money nor food, they are less easy. oh, and we had to buy gifts for a zone gift exchange. but it worked out, because i happened to have a random extra 1000 pesos in my bank account. (i think it was baggage reimbursements.) so we used that, bought some ties as gifts (i had a sister before, one that i had never talked to, but the sisters got exchanges so i ended up with an elder... much less scary) and food for the both of us and ended up with about 400 pesos, which was just the amount that we needed to travel to san luis on wednesday for a christmas lunch with president and like half the mission. perfect! ...not perfect, at about 6 we got a call that we needed to go to aguascalientes for my green card... thats a lot more than 400 pesos. but we had faith and went out on adventure, just like dora (dora here is used to teach kids english) we even left singing the theme song. i was all ready for someone to try to steal my wallet so i could use swiper no swiping, but no such luck. but anyways, we get to the bus station with elder w and his companion, and it turns out that that day elder w was taking out some personal funds, and for some reason he felt the need to take out 3000 pesos (thats just under 300 dollars) we ended up using all of it, so good thing for revelation. we stopped and slept in san luis.

tuesday. we went down to aguascalientes, got our green cards, ate some pizza, and came back to san luis... that was it, but it took all day, so its still worth telling about.

wednesday. we had the lunch with president and lots of other missionaries, tamales, orchata ...other food, i was happy. then we had a gift exchange with everyone. we didn’t actually have our gifts and so we just gave some junk from a package from elder w and gave our real gifts later. i got this wooden top thing that you use a string with and is a lot cooler than i just made it sound, had my name etched into it and stuff to, so i was happy. more traveling, slept in my bed.

thursday. thursday was crazy! ... ok it was normal, sue me.

friday we had all of the zone and district meetings that we missed that week, we all voted and we get to watch frozen for christmas (in english, because the songs are better. then that night we had a branch activity with both branches. there was lots of skits and stuff, i almost even got to act again. i didnt, but almost. the missionaries did a skit, and they had one too little roles, so i got to watch instead... fun stuff. no but it was actually pretty funny, a bit apostate sure (we had santa and the voice of the spirit of christmas and stuff) but hey, it was better than the rest of the things. we had two girls perform a slightly choreographed dance to a random pitbull song (which i think means ive been out long enough to not recognize popular music!) and we had a nativity skit, that was actually fine... until they decided to end it by singing el peses en el rio... then  it was apostacy. but hey, it was fun, and we had real dinner too, so im not complaining.

saturday. saturday was great. i am feeling completely normal again... elder v isn’t. his throat was hurting and inflamed so we went down to the doctor that morning. i still didn’t have my reimbursements and i didnt have access to my personal funds, so it was a good thing that i had an extra 20 dollar bill that i could exchange for pesos. he took some antibiotics and felt better, still not completely recovered, but better. then we got to go to a baptism. oh yeah, i got to do it! i don’t know if it really counts, she was only 8 (it was actually the little girl who taped the paper to the wall) but we had to teach her all the lessons and stuff (though we kinda skipped over chastity.) so i'll take it. oh yeah, mom, i didnt forget an extra pair of underwear like shawn... but i did forget a towel, so lucas, remember to bring a towel.)

sunday. got up early and wrote a talk in an hour and gave it in sacrament meeting, it went alright, not amazing, but not bad. this tusday we have an activity for christmas, so after church a bunch of members in the ward went and we tracked a whole neighborhood inviting them. i went on splits for that with a boy, F, from the branch. he's a boss. danielle, you can add him to my list, you can marry him. he has a pretty good english accent too. then we went back to the church and practiced some Christmas hymns for the activity. i got to put my limited musical knowledge to use and help people with parts. the men turned out to be pretty seless so i kinda just let them do there thing, but F could sing pretty good bass with me, so needless to say.

yup that was my week. umm, yeah. so merry christmas (christx for dad) and stuff

elder gandola 

ps. family, for christmas, all i want is for you to make people write me.  the only other thing i wanted was sour gummi worms, and even though your package has not come, elder w said that if he had them in his that i could have them... he had them in his.

Skyping with Micah at Christmas 2014

Sunday, December 21, 2014

December 15, 2014 Gunshots/ I’m a criminal

to start off, i would just like to let you all know that salmonella is a stupid disease. nobody loves it. not even its mother. (which is actually accurate, because satan doesnt love anything) now before you guys get all worried about me dying again, dont worry im fine... but i want food.
I cannot eat anything. no thank you, i do not want another bowl of bland vegetable chicken soup, i would like that nice piece of fried meat that everybody else is eating... the doctor said no grease or lactose, or picante, or soda for 15 days. in the us that wouldnt be a big deal. in mexico that basically means i can eat nothing. at this point i feel fine too, normal, but i still can’t eat real foods. ok so I have kinda been slacking off at times, I’m not quite as careful now. (i ate a churro and felt fine) this is the first time in my mission that i have felt homesick. no, not for you guys (no offense) but for the food. i would thoroughly enjoy a little ceasars deep dish pizza right now. (also, shawn, if you have not been back to in-n-out yet, whats wrong with you? go there today) but this week i have added a new item to my bucket list, before i die i want a redwall style feast (for those of you who are uncultured you can replace redwall with hogwarts.)
no but in all reality i feel great, the work was a bit slow the beginning of this week because i was still recovering a bit, not any pain or anything, just really tired. we have been using an awesome tool for contacting, the church video "he is the gift." you have probably all seen it, and you may have heard all the stuff the church has been doing with it, but it really is a great tool for missionary work. if you havent already, share it on your facebook pages, and even share it individually with your friends or coworkers, its a very unobtrusive way to share your faith and invite others to accept our message.
speaking of christmas, catholics are crazy. here everybody is catholic, which means that catholics can basically do whatever the heck it is that they want. right now (the whole month of december) they want to idol-worship the virgin mary all over the city in the dance of the virgin. every night, they all go out to different areas and have these big tribal dances and festivals. sometimes they are in the form of a parade, while others they just kinda dance in the middle of the street. they have these big tribal drums and tap shoes/sandals and at about  6 or 7 you start hearing all these different celebrations going on all over. my worst part of the whole thing are the "gunshots." all over the city you hear random gunshots as part of the celebration. turns out its not actually gunshots, they just don’t get the point of fireworks, they shoot them up in the air and they just kinda explode and are really loud with no cool light display. (i only recently figured that out though, for a while i thought that we needed to send obama down here to have a serious chat with their president about some gun control laws) not gunna lie it was kinda cool at first, but after the first couple days it gets kinda old when you are walking down the street and there is a gunshot behind you every 3 minutes, so if i come home with ptsd, now you know why...
remember how you told me to stay out of trouble, well i guess im not a great listener, actually im technically a criminal. i was given 30 days from november 10th to get my green card before im illlegal, and i still haven’t heard anything about it, i was supposed to have gone down and picked it up, but they still haven’t told us anything. so if you see my face on any wanted poster, now you know why.
anyways, this week we have been finding random people through long confusing processes (wrong directions and such) and it has led me to a thought. during youth conference one year, i remembered a lesson that i had about the book of mormon, and how you could open it and point and read and have a great experience, so i decided to try it. i opened pointed, and read... and it had nothing to do with me, at first i was disappointed, but then i realized that i still felt the spirit. i discovered that the reason that that works is not always because the lord guides you to open to the exact page you need, but because all of it is the word of god. im starting to feel that that may be the case here with finding people. sure there are times when we are directly led to people, but im thinking that many times it doesn’t really matter because everyone needs the gospel. but im not to worried about it, i don’t need to be. i heard a quote in the mtc "the lord more easily directions moving feet" as long as i am working and have faith in the lord, he will do the rest
thats it for now, be good love you (family

elder gandola

December 8, 2014 Expiration Date

greetings all,

well, i have a good mission story from this week... turns out that mission stories are more fun after the fact.

so monday was great, normal pday, bought a cool tie (things here are so cheap, it was less than 4 dollars! and it was from an actual departments store not just some guy on the street.)

 tuesday was ok for the most part, but i didnt feel super great, my stomach kinda hurt and i felt a bit light headed, i had to sit down and drink some water every once in a while. by the end of the day, it was bad enough that i went home, puked a couple times and went to bed. 

wednesday and thursday we mostly just stayed home in bed, i couldnt eat much and i discovered a new meaning to the word diarrhea. i just wanted to stay home and let it run its course, but elder v dragged me around to a bunch of different doctors, and got completely different diagnosis and medicine. 

friday was better, we went out to a zone conference, and once i was on my feet i could work more that day, we still went home a bit early, but we bought some chicken and vegetables and elder v made me some soup. at this point i could eat, but not very much.

saturday i dont really remember what we did, only that we walked a lot and it wasnt for visits. then that night at like 11 elder v was talking on the phone with some people, he came over and told me we were going to the hospital.

so we go to the hospital and get a check up and they want me to stay there that night, so they gave me some stuff, hooked me up to an iv, (which, along with the other like 4 shots i got, more than made up for the shot that i narrowly avoided last week) and left me alone to sleep in one of those awful hospital robes. i slept for like an hour but then the iv hurt, so i just kinda laid there hating my arm until they decided i was done.

they did a blood test and turns out it was salmonella, i had used bad milk in my cereal tuesday morning and got salmonella, fun stuff. but anyways, they gave me medicine to take, and i honestly feel a lot better yesterday and today. my stomach doenst hurt and i can eat much more. the only problem is that im kinda tired from the meds. also i cant eat any lactose, picante, grease, or things with lots of condiments for 15 day... i feel like joses.

but anyways thats my week, but i feel better now, and the problem wasnt even anything to do with being in mexico, so no need to worry. and besides, i´ve already been hospitalized, theres no way that i can get any more sick than that within the next 2 years right? (knock on wood(and i actually just knocked on wood because thats the same thing that i wrote in my journal after  the first day when I felt better after puking, but i forgot to knock on wood, and look what happened))

this letter wasnt very entertaining, and it didnt really have any spiritual stuff, so i guess i´ll end with a scripture joke (that i take full credit for)

if laman and lemuel lived in the ocean, what creature would they be?
        (i apologize for the 5 seconds of youre life that i wasted with that joke)

well, talk to you next week, be good, dont eat raw eggs.

-elder gandola

December 1, 2014, Thanksgiving Sandwich

Hola familia y amigos, como estan? (slowly getting better)
so everybody says that when learning a new language, you learn how to read, then how to understand, then how to speak... those people are dirty rotten liars. My spanish is weird, i feel like i can say basically anything that i want (or at least get the point across) but i can’t understand what the heck is going on in conversations, and i can’t read it at all. (at least not scriptures) but i have definitely noticed an improvement from when i started. i can’t really tell exactly what people are saying, but i can usually get a general idea of what they are trying to get across. it’s good that im starting to understand more because pretending to communicate in a language you don’t actually speak is a dangerous art. This week alone i think i may have promised some guy one of my tie clips (which i really don’t want to give him) and i very nearly got myself a flu shot that i already have. I’ll tell you the story in the next paragraph (oh, did you notice how i just used i´ll?, yeah, i figured out where the apostrophe is, i´m pretty proud)
so we were going to visit an investigator (an older guy with one leg) and this lady was going into the house as we got there, elder velazco was trying to ask me something, pointing to his arm, i wasnt understanding so i just pretended like usual and used ambiguous responses. we get in the house and she´s giving our investigator a shot, i just think "oh she´s his nurse, he´s getting his old people shots." so we start talking to her, i think we´re contacting, so i just go along with elder velazco. she has us sit down (oh cool we get to teach her now) 
"so what are your last names"
(oh good, i know this one) "Elder Gàndola, soy de California" (nailed it)
*writes our names down* "ok, sign here"
".... .... ... ... .. why?"
"oh for my register"
"... ..... ... ... why?"
"so you can get your flu shot"
"... but i already have my flu shot"
"really? for how long?" (the question was actually how long ago)
"i dont know 2 years or more"
"2 years or more?"
"yeah! exactly!"
".... yeah youre getting this shot"
Eventually it was all cleared up and she figured out that im just an idiot who doesnt know how to talk
but anyways, in other news, we had intercambios this week. (not sure what the word is in english) and i was companions with the zone leader, elder m, for two days. it was great, he´s a good elder, i learned a lot from working with him, and it was nice to be able to talk and joke around in english again. they share a house with two other elders, e and w, but it is seriously a mansion, like elder w hadn't even been in all of the rooms there. Unfortunately however, intercambios was on thanksgiving, and his comanion didnt have a lot of food, so thanksgiving was pretty dinnerless. not to say i didnt eat good food that day though. right before switching, i was able to eat a freshly slain peanut butter sandwich, and you know how my favorite has always been candied yams? well they werent quite yams, and they werent candied, but i did have fruitloops. oh, i even ate a banana, soo... you guys missed out.
and to end, i´ll share a cool experience that we had this week. so we contacted this lady a couple days ago in the street, and went to visit her last night. she wasn't there at first, her daughter and daughters husband were though, so we talked to them for a bit, they listened, but it wasnt anything especially different. then the lady we contacted came home and we started talking to her, and she started breaking down. she was in a really rough place in her life emotionally. i couldnt really understand what her problem was (i later learned that  2 of her kids had died, still dont know specifics) but i could feel her pain and knew that the gospel could help her. We had a great discussion with her and i could feel things being given to me to say, including a scripture (i only had my Spanish scriptures so i couldnt look anything up) that i had just looked up for somebody else but didnt end up using. we ended by blessing their home and giving her a blessing, after which she couldnt even talk, she just sat there crying. we left and afterwards i realized a few things. we (or at least i) always think that if we are obedient and doing the right things, that the lord will send people to us, thats wrong, he sends us to them. we had a goal this week to contact 70 people (we´ve been averaging about 45) we didnt accomplish that goal, but it pushed us to contact more, and without it, we never would hae contacted that woman. Many people are prepared to receive the gospel, she wasnt, she NEEDED the gospel. i dont think we were an answer to a prayer, because she didnt know how to pray, but i think we were the tool that god used at that time to help his daughter.
anways, all is well, thats it for this week, love you guys (family)
-Elder Gàndola

November 24, 2014 Mexican Manners

Hola familia y amigos (see, i did learn more Spanish, now I can say y amigos tambien. Oh, and tambien,also),

But in reality, Spanish has actually been getting easier... sometimes.  At times I can understand almost everything, at other times I understand nothing. I have done a bit more communicating this week, but a lot of that is just because the people realize that I don’t speak their language and decide to interrogate me about it extensively.  Sometimes I kind of want to quote Justin Hammer (from iron man 2) on them and say, "you know, I don’t know if you know this about me, but I don’t SPEAK, SPANISH (Russian)" but that would be rude and would not invite the spirit, so I just smile and nod instead.  There’s a lot of things that I understand, but just don’t make sense. I have had like three people ask me if my family is weird back at home. And no, the words for weird and worried are not anything alike. And they always say something along the lines of "your family is weird, only work, something something blessings"

Haven’t actually had to many slip ups in Spanish yet though. So far, I used pescados in our first lesson (which is weird cause I never had trouble with that one in the mtc) and I told a sister yesterday that these things can bring us felicidad en nuestro gozo (happiness in our joy). So far though, the best one was Elder W.  Our first day in Aguascalientes, we all had interviews with the president, in Elder W’s, when President  Viareal asked for him to offer the primero oracion, Elder W thought he said, primero vision, and started reciting the first vision in Spanish. President stopped him and in english just said, "no, i want you to pray"

But I have been teaching a lot more; I usually start by explaining the principle, then Elder V fills in the holes and shares scriptures and other missionary stuff. I usually have to lean over and ask him what I’m teaching because i didn’t understand in planning, but the investigators don’t seem to mind, so I guess that’s ok for now. Actually, most of what I do seems to work well with the investigators and members. I don’t really know what I’m saying, and I have to ask Elder V for every other word, but they seem to be getting stuff out of it. I don’t know if they are hearing something completely different than what I’m saying, but the spirit seems to be making up the difference.

I have also gotten to do a bit of contacting, twice to be exact. One of them was a guy who lived in the states for 20 years and spoke English, the other one was an old lady who spoke only Spanish. I stared talking to her and was fine because if I didn’t understand Elder V could help, but right as I start, the phone rings and he walks away talking to the zone leaders. It turned out alright and he came back just in time to ask if we could visit and stuff. Both actually accepted us to come visit them, so good stuff.

Ok, fun facts from Mexico. 1. Everybody has either lived in houston or has family who lives in Houston, (and I mean EVERYBODY) 2. coca cola owns Mexico, 3. The men here give weak sauce handshakes, the best handshakes are from the 40+ women. 4. Dogs favorite places? The roof. not sure how they get up there, but they do, they’re on every other roof barking at the world ( I kind of keep hoping that one will fall off, because it would be funny. but then it would probably come tear out my femur or something, so I’m ok) 5. They don’t know how to eat without tortillas. At first the food was scary because there was lots of thing and I dint know how to eat it, then I realized you just put it in a tortilla and then in your mouth, so it’s not scary anymore.

Speaking of scary things, something happened this week that very well could be the scariest story of my mission. I know we aren’t supposed to tell our moms this stuff, but I’m going to anyways. So we were heading down to a lunch appointment (because they don’t believe in dinner here.) and we got there fine. We walk in and it’s a pretty nice house, like it’s nice by united states standards. So everything is all good until we go to sit down. We all sit down and I look down and guess what’s sitting on the table? Two spoons, that’s what. Two spoons by every single plate, a big spoon and a small spoon.  that is for fancy people, I am not a fancy people, and I was fairly sure I wouldn’t have to worry about fancy people in Mexico. So I just drank a lot until I saw which spoon everyone else used. It was the big one (Lucas would have known that.) I got through the meal fine, but I had to think hard to remember all those useless manners that mom taught me. You know, no elbows on the table, pinkies up, stuff like that. (Ok so I didn’t raise my pinky. but I was tempted.)

But no, in reality, nothing scary has happened. I have realized the truth in the principle that fear is the opposite of faith. It applies to lots of things. When Elder V tells me in teaching about patriarchal blessings, or that I’m contacting, or even just walking down a dark alley in Mexico. I could worry or let fear or doubt get in the way, but if I just trust the lord, I know that he will take care of it, and so far, it works out better when i do that anyways.

Other than that, this week was a little different. Friday we had a branch party, which was fun, and we got to eat dinner. (I swear sometimes I feel like merrry and pippin "what about dinner?" "I don’t think they know about dinner elder Gándola" "how about breakfast? Second breakfast? elevevsies?" " I wouldn’t count on it") then on Saturday the mission president came down and we had the first ever Matehuala zone conference. didn’t understand to much, but it was nice to be able to see Elder W and talk English all day.

And last of all, thank you all for your letters, you mentioned a lot of things that I don’t know if you thought much of, but were direct answers to specific prayers that I have had. And that leads me to a strange request that I have. Please don’t pray for me. That sounds weird, but right now I don’t need the blessings, that’s not why I’m here. Please pray that others can be blessed because of my work. And  not just those that I’m teaching or my companions, but others at home or family that can receive blessings because of my service. Right now all the blessings I need are the ability to do the best I can in the mission, the only other thing I want is for others to receive the blessings that I earn, and that will be a blessing in itself. I know that you guys are going to ignore that and still pray for me, but please remember others too.

Well that’s it for now, love you guys (again, family)

-Elder Gándola

November 17, 2014 Hot Water? Where are you?

Hola familia!

...and that is about the extent of my Spanish right there. In the mtc i thought that the sink or swim technique was really effective... its not, that was just the gift of tongues. Other elders in our district kept saying that we would spend a lot of time just nodding and saying, si! They were very right, thats exacttly what i do, all the time. (oh yeah, by the way, dont expect much punctiuation, i dont get this keyboard yet.  also all the words are underlined with red because this computer doesnt like english) but yeah, still dont know much. but im getting really good at smiling, and saying the opening prayer in every lesson we have, and bearing my testimony on the topic i think we are teaching about. but for the most part im not too worried, its a little difficult, but i know that i am picking it up a lot faster than a lot of missionaries, and at least im not speaking  japaneze or something. but i am a bit frustrated with my inability to help with anything (and its annoying when little kids run around speaking spanish... that four year old can communicate better than me... :( ) i cant understand words or topics yet, but i can see what types of situations are happening, when people are happy or sad, what types of problems they have, etc. often i know that if i just knew what they were saying that i could help, but i cant.

in other news, my companion is elder v (i would have told you last week but i couldn’t remember his name) he is from vera cruz, where the other half of my mtc district went. he is great, we get along well, even though we have a bit of a language barrier. he is a good teacher and a very caring person, im also pretty sure he is the mexican flash, he can walk at the speed of light, like i get cramps keeping up with him. im not really good at describing people so im just gunna end it there.

when we came in to mexico, not going to lie i was a little disappointed. it didnt look anything like nacho libre, it looked like a kinda dumpy city in the us. then we came out to our area and it was much better. we are in a little city called matehuala (sounds like guatemala) in the state of san luis potosi, and it was much better. its a poor area, so lots of it is not so nice (not like dangerous not so nice, its pretty safe, jut dumpy not so nice) i really want to know what the city planning meetings are like, i imagine they go something  like this

so i propose we build a street

oh i like that idea, what shall we build it with?

well, i have some rocks

very well, we shall build a street with rocks, what shall be on this street, shops? nice houses? dumpy little brick shacks?

lets put some of each on it, its more fun that way

youre right good sir, it is more fun that way..

etc. etc. you get the picture. the streets are all different, some with rocks, some with pavement, some with dirt (mud if it rained recently) and there is all sorts of variety everywhere, some people have shops in the middle of a street of houses and just live in the back, some buildings are in ruins with nobody living there, some are actually pretty nice.

i dont think they have any rules to the road either. but like i said before, its more fun that way. there arent any crosswalks and so you just kinda cross when its safe, and you usually walk on the side of the street because its nicer than the road. there are dogs all over, but the only ones that seem to want you dead are the ones in the houses, so its all good.

 i got to bless the sacrament in the branch which was nice, because i could actually say it. the branch is small, about 70 people, but its big for this area. fun fact, none of them can sing, it was so off tune i had to hold myself back from laughing at times, but if you listen to it as a whole its not bad. also they dont sing parts. during preisthood we sang 88 in the spanish hymnbook and it one where the chorus has two different parts in it, i sang the second part and was literally the only one haha. the kids looked at me like i was crazy but i just kept singing it. Eventually elder velazco took pity on me and joined in.

so far my only complaint is the temperature. it is absolutely freezing in the mornings. and the showers i had were all way cold too (one was lukewarm but from a bucket, so...) but now we have gas and stuff, so its fine. but seriously, i thought hot water was the name of the mission.

last thing, best thing that happened to me this week. we went to an appointment last night and challenged a guy to be baptized, he accepted but that wasnt the great thing, because it wasnt a surprise, he was ready. when we walked into their house, their little girl had written on a piece of paper taped to the wall, elder gandola y elder v, bienvenido. that was it. i dont speak their language, i dont teach well, but i am making a difference in that families life. by inviting the spirit into their home, i am important enough to them that their little girl wrote my name on a piece of paper and taped it to their wall... that’s it, it seems dumb but it was one of the most beautiful things i have ever seen.

well thats it for this week, im keeping my hands clean and my shoes dirty (and i mean filthy) love you guys (family)

-elder gandola

ps forgive any spelling errors they dont stand out because the whole letter is colored red

November 11, 2014 Mexico!

Hola Familia!

Well, I am here! We flew in safely last night and slept at the secretary’s casa. This morning, we came to the church (our ride was a big van with a bunch of stools in the back... Mexico is great), had training, and got our companions. So I’m safe and well, write you all next week

Elder Gándola

Monday, November 24, 2014

November 8, 2014


So this week was crazy, it was our last week here, so almost every day was different. We are leaving on Monday at 3:30 in the morning. Out of the 8 elders in our district, 4 of us are going to Aguascalientes, 3 are going to Mexico Vera Cruz, and 1 is going to Tucson Arizona. We only have 2 flights, first to Houston and then to Aguas, but we have a 5 hour layover in Houston from like 12 to 5, so that’s when I’ll call, I’ll try to call a bit later so the kids can all be home, but no guarantee (also i don’t know what time zone Texas is in, so you might want to figure that out)

But anyways, my week. Monday wasn’t too different, but Tuesday we had two devotionals, one in the night, and one in the morning at the Marriott Center. So two thousand missionaries walked over to byu to go to a devotional. it was pretty cool, they talked about missionary work, but it was mostly directed towards the students. I didn't see anybody I knew, but Elder M got to see his twin sister. also on Tuesday Elder W and I decided it would be fun to play lava in our room until we leave, we quit, but kept with it for a couple days... climbing around in your room in a bathrobe trying to change is rather difficult.

Wednesday our district was signed up to host new elders, but when we got to orientation, they needed 5 more elders to help direct traffic, so i spent 2 hours directing the incoming 400 cars where they were supposed to go, fun stuff. While they were coming in, we ran out of hosts for a bit, and a car pulled up that was bringing a deaf elder, I had no idea what to do so I asked them to hang tight and I went running around trying to find where to take him. I found the correct place, but his greeter wasn’t there, so I went back and helped him with his stuff and took him. She met us halfway so all was good, but still a cool experience. Then we got our first real investigator that night! She was a trc investigator hired to do it, but an appointment got cancelled and she was allowed to just wander around, so she happened to wander into our room and start talking to us. Her name is C, she is Muslim but goes to byu law school because it’s cheap.  She had lots of questions for us, she mostly just wanted to know what we believe, she didn’t believe it, but found it interesting. We worked together through the spirit and had a great discussion with her. She mentioned that her brother died when he was younger, so we jumped right onto eternal families and she even said that it felt right. She said she liked us better than the other missionaries she had talked to and came back again the next two nights when she was off the clock just to talk with us. she is super absorbent, even if she doesn’t believe it right now, over night she read past Lehi’s dream in the book of mormon and the next night she read the whole plan of salvation pamphlet in Spanish (she barely knows any Spanish.) anyways, I doubt I’ll ever see her again, but it was a really cool experience to teach her.

Thursday wasn’t too different, but we finished up a lot of things. Finished Spanish, skype trc, teaching Edgar our teachers character, service, gym. Lots of stuff.

Friday we had in field orientation all day. It was kind of an efy thing that taught us more about baptism, goals, and working with members. It was led by Brother C, who was one of the elders in the district 2.   But anyways, not going to go to in depth on in field orientation.  Then we had our last class with Hermano H and he told us all about his mission, He had an amazing mission and did amazing things through the Lord (he didn't paint it like that though, he's a pretty humble guy) it was really inspiring to hear. He was an awesome teacher, I’m definitely going to keep in contact with him while I’m out.

Today is p-day, so laundry, emailing temple and stuff. Oh yeah, one more quick story! last Saturday i was going through the temple and guess who I met? Adam and Matthew! They thought it was funny that they went through with me before Shawn.

Anyways, that’s all for this week, write me next week guys. Love you all, be good.

-Elder Gandola

Nov 1, 2014 Red Headed Step-companion

Greetings all!
Thanks for the package though, it was nice to get some stuff, tell sierra thanks for the picture, i have it hanging in my room. funny story about Shawn and the firecrackers, tell him jajaja for me. 

There was a lot of change that happened this week. First of all, Sunday during church we had the mtc president in our branch, and our branch president (President Sanchez) and his first counselor (Brother Bahr) were released. We got a new branch president (President Swanson) and new first counselor (brother... some other guy)

second, Elder C left our district to go join an advanced district coming in. He had taken five years of Spanish in school and was very brainy anyways, so he was way above our level and wasn't learning much. he knew a lot about a lot of things (especially trees, he worked in a nursery and went to national gardening competitions and stuff, you could point to any tree and he could tell you what it was, along with how old it was,  what its life story was, etc. think briant with pokemon) and was very quick to let you know what he knew, especially when it was because you said something that was to some degree wrong. i learned a lot from him, and not from his fun facts, but because he annoyed me at first. Eventually I learned to get over it and by the end I was sad to see him and his politically fun facts leave us (he's still just down the hall, so he didn't really leave by much though.

With elder C leaving, came a companion-less elder, which is why I am now in a trio. Elder M is now companions with Elder W and I. He's a cool guy, red head (pelirojo) pretty quiet, which coupled with the fact that Elder C was very talkative and knew lots of Spanish means that he really didn't get a lot of opportunity to teach. Elder W and I ) are working on getting him to talk more during the lessons.

Not much is different here in the mtc, but we have been teaching a lot of people. Hermana F is acting as Fabiola, a girl she knew in her mission.  Hermano H is edger, a really hard investigator he knew from Nicaragua. and we have been doing lots of TRC (not sure exactly what that stands for but it stands for something) there are two types of TRC, we have a progressing investigator, which is pretty normal, and then we have member lessons. This week we just started doing the member lessons on skype, so we were able to teach a member that actually lives in our mission.

All in all, life at the MTC is better than ever. We are working more effectively, progressing in Spanish, and all getting along very well. Fun fact, for about the first three weeks, me and Elder W really didn't like each other. It wasn't either of our fault, we were both doing fine on our own, but we just couldn't get along. We have both been working hard on it though, having open companionship inventories, and by now he is a good friend. I always knew that he was my companion for a reason, and if think that’s probably the most important thing that I have learned in the MTC, charity. I’m still not super great at it, but i am definitely getting better at loving those that I normally wouldn't.

Well that’s it for now, forgot my camera in my classroom, but I might be able to send pictures in a bit, maybe not. Well, love you all, be good.

-Elder Gándola

October 25, 2014 everyone always has creative titles for their letters but i cant think of anything so just pretend this time

Family! (and anyone else who sees this letter),

Writing letters is hard, its not like I lack time or anything, but I honestly can´t remember when anything happened, it all kinda melds together (espescially since sunday is the same as any other day) anyways, i´ll give it my best shot.

we'll i'm finally starting to adjust to main campus. the first week was weird because everything was so much smaller. at wyview our apartments and classrooms were full sized apartments (yes we basically had class in a house) with separate rooms and bathrooms and fridges and stuff, but here at main campus the rooms and classrooms are way smaller, but i´m pretty adjusted to it at this point. the food is better here on main campus though, there"s more variety (fun fact, mtc food is a form of mission prep, it goes down fine, but coming out it does a number on your digestive system)

i have seen a few people that i know here, kalani (didnt get a picture with him though), jonathan E., justin and wesley from fresno (funny story about wesley in just a sec) and i saw devin from 5th ward in passing.

so this week, on tuesday i think it was, i got to go down the the mexican consolate to prove that i exist. me and two other elders from my district and a bunch of other elders got to take the train down to salt lake city to check in at the consulate. it was an interesting trip, didn´t talk to any nonmembers, but we talked to a few members. we went and ate at cosco while waiting for the train back and it was weird being out in public with our name tags and everything, it was kinda cool though. alright, story about wesley: so we went to the consulate and when we came out we were all standing in a group. this one elder comes up to me and says "micah?" i turn and its him... thats not the wierd part. then i realized that he wasnt wearing a name tag and remember that he was going to the mexican mtc. turns out he went to the consolate where he lived, was told to go to the one in salt lake, so the church flew him out that morning and he happened to get there on the same day at the same time that i was there, crazy! he flew back home that night, but anyways, i thought it was cool.

i am learning a lot, (both language and gospel stuff) one thing that i have learned is how to study. we have 3 to 5 hours of study time every day, but it's gotten to the point that i never feel like i have tenough time. one of the things that has really helped is that hermano H taught us how to make effective, organized study journals. if you had told me that i would be excited about a study journal 4 weeks ago i would have laughed in your face, but seriously, it is the bomb com. my spanish has been improving and i am able to communicate pretty effectively at this point.

well thats it for this week, say hi to everyone for me (shawn that means the guys at work too) love you all, good luck in your stuff.

-Elder Gándola

October 15, 2014

ok first off, why do I have no emails (danielle you were right, i do like getting letters)? its only my second week here and you guys have already forgot about me? that's weak sauce, lucky for you, you get another try. we have been living off the main campus over at wyview (it used to be byu married housing, but they turned it into a temporary mtc extension for a little bit) and they are moving us back to main campus today, our new p-day is saturday, so write to me by saturday.

week two went by so fast. everyone told us that one you got to the first sunday time flies by, and they were right. at the same time though, it feels like i (from this point on, dont expect me to capitalize my i's, gmail doesnt have auto correct, and i cant be bothered with shift buttons) have lived my whole life here. time in large doesnt make sense as a missionary (especially weekdays, sundays are the same as any other day)

lots of stuff has been happening, its kinda hard to remember what happened this week, i can remember all the things, but i just don't know what weeks they happened in... and its only week two haha.

we have been learning lots of spanish, i'm enjoying it and doing well. we just started learning how to teach lessons too, which is a bit intimidating at first, but really great. we have been practice teaching a lot, with an "investigator" named A. he is mid twenties, college student, nice guy, very open to learning about the church.

then friday he came in to our class, none of us were expecting him or had lessons prepared, so we all started freaking out, because we had to scramble a lesson together in a couple minutes, when we noticed he was wearing a white shirt, tie, and a nametag. we knew he was a member, but it turns ot that he was going to be our teacher from that point on

his name is hermano H, and he is awesome. apparently he is some sort of legend around the mtc, and i can see why, i would go so far as to say that he gives brother Constantine a run for his money, hes that good.

 for his first lesson, he took us out to the park, leaned two chairs up against each other, stuck his cellphone inside a tree stump, and told that our new missionary purpose was to convince him (as a random stranger) to crawl under the chairs and go get the cellphone for free. took us a little bit to get how to do it, we couldnt just tell him to do it, we would look crazy. we had to get to know him, get to know his needs, and help him trust us and understand why he needs to do what we say. we eventually did it, and then he applied it to missionary work, and told us that everything we needed to know about being a missionary we could learn from that example.

we have had some other cool lessons and devotionals (joseph smith, study journals, using the church media) but they arent as easily sharable. 

ummm... i think thats basically it for now, email me by saturday, and i'll email you back. thanks for all your prayers, love you guys

-elder gándola

October 8, 2014 First Letter

Mi Familia! (y anyone else reading this letter!),
        well I have officially been in the mtc for exactly one week. (oh yeah, my p-days are Wednesday, so that's when i'll email.) the whole thing so far has been a lot like skydiving, in that i kept waiting for it to hit that it was finally happening, but it never did, the whole transition felt pretty natural.
        I wasn't quite sure what to expect when i came into the mtc, but i soon realized that they just threw you straight in, no easing in or time trying to make you comfortable. when i got to the mtc, i dropped off my bags at my room, and went straight to spanish class. i was the first one there, and when i got in, the teacher (hermana f) started out immediately with spanish, up until now, she has still never spoken in english, except to clarify. first day, i kinda got the gist of what was going on, but couldn't really understand. second day i could understand almost everything. third day we taught our first lesson to an actor investigator (A) completely in spanish, for about 20 minutes. mtc spanish moves super fast, and is super effective, i'm enjoying it a lot actually, and i can see the blessing of the gift of tongues in the work, its pretty awesome.
         My companion is named elder W, on the first day we had a paper that told us who our companions were, and so i knew he was my companion, but apparently he didn't see, because he didn't realize until that night when we went back to our rooms haha. he was pretty quite the first couple days, but he opened up pretty quickly. he has a great testimony and he is a straight up beast (even though he's only my size) there are three other companion-ships in our district, and we are together practically 24/7. they're a great bunch of guys (i might send you pictures next week, this week me and elder W are sharing a computer, so im trying to be quick.)
             the spirit here is awesome, we have learned a lot this weekend, we had general conference obviously (i wont go into that because you guys heard it already) but then we had a devotional Sunday night where Vai Sikahema came and spoke (i'd never heard of him either) and gave an awesome talk about missionary work outside of our missions, it was really cool to hear, and i just want to ask you guys to really try to focus on directing conversations and situations to create missionary opportunity, you don't even have to know them. it may feel a little weird at first, but who cares? who would you rather please, a random stranger, or the Lord? another thing i learned from him is that not all misssionary successes end in baptism, as long as you open your mouth and do your best to invite them to come unto christ, then you have done your duty.
            i dont have a lot of time right now, but i love you all