Sunday, April 5, 2015

March 30, 2015 at your service... oh, well i guess not

hey guys,

so just to start off i realized that i forgot to explain the title last time. so here it is, the law of the heavens goes something like this "there is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundation of this world, upon which all prayer assignments are predicated, and when we obtain any prayer assignment in a lesson, its cause we´re the new guy." last week was the first week of transfers, so i didn’t have to give any prayers, there you go.

me and elder c have been working together well, but we have decided this week however that elder c has a curse. ever since he got here, our work has been all thrown out of whack, and not cause we are working differently, just cause stuff is weird. we have had lots of strange contacts this week, and our lessons keep falling through, which is obnoxious because we have been doing awesome with planning and setting appointments and stuff, but more about that later. but the worst part of the curse is that people have started thinking we are  working for the bank.

this week we started receiving lots of requests for money from random investigators, less actives, random guys on the street, etc. lots of seeing people on the street "oh hermanos! how’s it going, we still good for friday right?" "yeah of course, we have an appointment right 5 minutes ago, so we have to go, but is there anything we can do for you guys?" "well... yeah, you got 10 bucks?" "insert long explanation about how we can’t and how we are broke here" "oh ok... so how about 5?" ...dang it elder castañeda.

this week the members were awesome, we had a ward council tuesday, and the branch president has really been focusing on helping with the missionary effort... so we got 11 references (that’s a lot). which is awesome, especially seeing as the last 6 baptisms in this area have been references.

other different things this week was exchanges with the new zone leader and we had a branch activity on saturday, brought a few investigators and had some good food. not gunna lie it’s a bit weird going to a ward activity and instead of having mashed potatoes and hot dog buns we have a bowl of guacamole and tortillas, not that imp complaining.

well back to the not having lessons thing, it’s interesting to see how God works, and how we tend to define success. every day we have been walking around in the 35 degree weather (that’s hot) all day with no success, but then we end up with one awesome, almost miraculously good lesson. one of the days we found A again (thanks for the prayers) and he is still reading and praying and still wants to be baptized and confirmed. the next day we found his son again, who is also super excited about the book of mormon (he wants to be a historian, so we taunted him with the awesome history of his people found within the book... it worked pretty well) but anyways it’s good to know that while we have very little control, that if we just do our part and trust in God, that everything will work out.

last of all is a new investigator for this week. J. already explained a little about how we contacted him in his cyber, and how he doesn't have support from his family but he is still progressing. Well, we can’t teach him anymore right now because the cyber cafe is his mother in laws and she won’t let us teach him there, nor in her house where he is currently living. through all of this he is still awesome and interested. right now he is looking for a new house, and if he finds one we can teach him there, so if you could pray for him in his search that would be great.

well that’s it for now.

until the pasta (hasta la pasta)

Elder Gàndola

ps, if you haven’t seen the new church video "he lives yet" go watch it, its new from the church and we have new cards for it, like with he is the gift.

March 23, 2015 law of the heavens

dear everyone,

this week was very long and very tiring. turns out that i do know my area better than i did before. elder c doesn’t so i was leading all this week, so i lead wherever we walked and we didn’t really get lost, so i guess I’m good. only problem is that we spent a lot (and i mean a lot) of time walking. this week we had a problem that we have almost never had here, and that is that nobody was there, we only had like 2 or 3 lessons everyday (not for lack of trying). half of the time it wasn't bad, but the other half was pretty awful. why? oh that’s easy, because the climate here is more bi-polar than my senior year ----- teacher. it would switch from raining and freezing to scorching hot like 3 times every day, i wish i was exaggerating.

but despite the lack of lessons that we had, they were good ones. we saw a lot of miracles in the progression of the investigators. i don’t think that elder casteñeda noticed, because he still doesn’t know the people, but i have been here for 5 months, so it was great to see.

our first day we went to visit a member, but she was getting ready to go to an activity for relief society, we just talked with her daughter and she said she was going early to pick up a friend, we asked if we had taught her and her daughter said no. so we went to visit an investigator family who are great, but who are nervous about going to church. we got there but she was packing to leave, at first we were a bit disappointed, but then the member showed up, we had brought her along once before, and so by her own will had invited the investigator. high five random member.

our second day we found a new investigator, we had contacted him at his cyber a few weeks earlier, and left him to watch a few videos, didn’t think anything of it because on the same occasion i swear that while he was watching a video with his friend i heard him say "jajaja mormones." but when we passed by he was super excited to see us, and had watched a bunch of videos and was interested. so we taught him and in the middle of our lesson he asked us, "and what can i do to help you guys preach?" "....umm, well i guess we could leave you these pass along cards you can hand out." and the next time we passed by he said he was talking with his wife about us and she got upset with him for it, but he totally defended us because he feels like our church is different and its true... high five random computer guy.

this week president came down and we watched “meet the Mormons” with him, it was in spanish but i understand it all now, and we even got to watch the boxing one without some english voice over, so ha. then friday the branch got to watch it, we invited a whole bunch of people but nobody made it, so we just sat with one of the hermana’s investigators. but he liked it a lot and seems to be progressing.

we had lots of good lessons this week, but we went to church and still had nobody there. i was feeling frustrated because i have been working in this area for a long time and so i prayed that we could just have 1 investigator show up, just 1, just something to show me that it was any good to be working here at all. nobody showed. but then we walked into the first principles class and there was sitting one of our investigators. i went over and talked to him and he said that he had been in sacrament meeting, he had just sat in the back and we had missed him. it was super cool to see the lord answer my personal prayer.

other than that we have focused a lot this week on teaching the members about general conference and the importance to be prepared to receive gods message for us individually. i have been using an example from a talk we had in the mtc by the wife of elder russel m. nelson. she was engaged at that time, but wasn’t sure if it was the right decision, so she prayed about It before general conference, and was surprised to find that in the first session, every one of the speakers had spoken on marriage, and every one had said not to marry that man. then a couple years later she went back and read the session, but realized that, in reality, not one of that speakers had spoken on marriage. so my last message to share with you is that of the importance of preparation for receiving the words of the prophets, if possible with a question in specific that you can pray about in these coming weeks. i know that if you do so that you will be able to find an answer to your question meant specifically for you.

thats it for now, love you guys, be good


p.s. i was thinking about starting to tell you about an investigator every week, but for many the details are probably not things that i should share, so instead I’m going to leave you a name every week that if you feel like including in your prayers, that would be great.

this week, A, he is progressing rapidly (read to 3 nephi in just 3 weeks) but we have been unable to contact him for 2 weeks.


March 16, 2015 “so we keep on waitin (waitin) for the missionaries to change”

hello everyone,

still alive, still doing well, but super short on time. so bien sincillo, we had cambios this week, well today.

got the transfers last night in a lesson with an investigator family. elder v got changed after 4 transfers in the area, which is just short of 6 months. which means i will have at least that time by the time that i leave matehuala.

so we got up at 4 in the morning so he could pack and get to the bus station in time for his transfer, then i went and just kinda waited at the house of elder w with him and elder o (our also american zone leader). i find it kind of ironic that elder w and i are the newest missionaries here (and still practically the newest in the mission) but we now have the most experience here in matehuala. (oh yeah elder w has stopped dying from appendicitis, now he is ok)

our new companions just got here, we went to pick them up, went home to drop off his stuff, and came here to write. my new comp is elder c. still don’t know him super well, and we already discovered that I’m bad at describing people, but he just got done training elder c from my district in the mtc.

funny story from today, so we were bored and hungry and elder w had still not gotten to eat pizza (which is what he wanted after being given only hospital food for a week) so we ordered a pizza from a local place. it was taking super long to get there, and we were wondering what was taking them so long, and we thought that maybe elder w had given them the wrong address, he checked and hadn’t, but i heard it as he had (given them the wrong address). So 5 minutes later they had me call to see where it was, but i thought i was calling to give them the right address, the conversation went something like this."hi, pizza classics, how may we be of service?" "hi, I’m just calling because we ordered a pizza like an hour ago, but we gave you the wrong address" ...the other elders look shocked for some reason, but I’m not sure why. i realize that what i just said sounds bad. ", like we gave you the wrong number" "...ok" " " ... the real number is (insert same number as before) ... bye" so from her point of view, "hi, we ordered a pizza with the wrong address earlier, you know just for fun, but were hungry now, could you send it to the right (same) place?" ... i might be an idiot.

that’s all, keep you updated on our progress next week.


March 9, 2015

hey guys,

don’t really have much time, so I’ll share a quick experience.

every second week of the month we have the sacrament meeting devoted to missionary work, so they have a missionary from each companionship speak as well as the ward mission leader.

last month it was my turn, i prepared a talk and the president didn’t remember my name, so he called my companion to give it, but i gave it anyways. so this week as we were walking to the church, elder v asked me, "if he calls you up instead of me, what will you talk on?" "nothing, if he calls me up, it’s still your turn" "yeah, ok" turns out that he didn’t forget that it was his turn, but the hermanas were sick, so i was called as a filler and got to talk anyways. i didn’t have anything prepared, but thanks to my awesome improv skills, it actually went pretty well.

i started out by explaining how the truths that everybody needs were brought back to the earth through the restoration, that we have it but it is for everyone, blah blah blah typical missionary work talk. but then i used an example from a lesson that we had that week that i thought was interesting.

we were meeting with a woman, went a bit long, and at the end we left her with a book of mormon and challenged her to read and pray. "well, the thing is that i don’t have time, i have work and kids and..." it’s an excuse that we get a lot, but i thought about it and said "woah wait a minute, we just talked to you for an hour in the middle of the day, we know that you have time." she thought about it and responded "yeah, when i want to, i have time."

i think that applies to a lot of things in our lives and in the church. lots of us never share the gospel for example, only because we are never given the opportunity. i think if we were honest we would see that we have ample opportunity, we just don’t want to, for whatever reason. i can tell you from experience that i had this happen many times with my friends at home. to the point that i would say "well if this happens... then ill share the gospel with them" and then it happened, and i still didn’t share it.

the first step to increasing our missionary work (and doing many other things in life) is to increase our desire to do it. one of the big things i have learned on my mission is that motivation follows action, satan doesn’t have to dissuade us from doing good if he can simply persuade us to do the good tomorrow.

so that’s what i have to share this week, sure I’m missionary minded right now, but I’m sure all of you have things that you know you should get around to doing, so as nike once said (and that one prophet that i don’t remember which one.) (Spencer W. Kimbal) just do it.

love you lots, be good

elder gandola

March 2, 2015 I hate basketball and hospitals..

dear all people who read this,

short on time, so I’ll hit on the two most prominent features of this week.

the first of these is that fact that elder w is not having a good week.

friday he started puking, and had diarrhea (kind of like i have had since easters.) so they took him to the doctor to get it checked it out. basically they told him that he was fine and go home and rest and he would feel all warm and fuzzy inside. well he didn’t feel all warm and fuzzy inside, he felt bad inside. turns out that that bad feelings that he had was his appendix being angry. so he got it taken out. we just went and visited him and he’s not having fun, shawn and dad you guys can probably remember that. they still aren’t sure if he will be sent home or not, but we are praying for him.

other than that, we had a baptism this week. J M, who is a "friend" of a returned sister missionary here. so what did we do differently with this guy? why did he progress so fast when other people aren’t. well that’s easy, we just did nothing. no not that we didn’t care about him, we just didn’t have to do anything with him, we only had to teach him, he did all the other stuff by himself. why? well i would venture to say that it’s because he is a reference from a member. of the last 5 baptisms in this area, 4 of them have been from references, which just goes to show how important the members are in the work, you guys have way more of an influence than you would think.

after the baptism we went and played basketball outside, which i wasn’t too thrilled about. basketball does not fill me with happy feelings, it fills me with angry feelings, it reminds me of high school P.E., which is very probably my least favorite place in the face of the california. but turns out it was good that we went to play because it helped J M be more fellowship-ed. our biggest concern with him is that he would be alone, because he is super quiet. and even though i wouldn’t have taken him for one to play basketball (he’s a bigger guy) he fit right in and i think it helped him bond more with the ward.

moral of the story, go share the gospel with your friends, it’s the most effective way for the missionaries to work.

well that’s all, hope you are all well. love you guys, be good.


February 23, 2015 I don’t believe in the Gripa,

hey guys, its me,
so first of all is good news, i feel completely comfortable with spanish now (have for a bit, but still good.) bad news, i can’t talk english anymore, ok well i can, i just feel like an idiot (but we don't use that word here, so please insert a more appropriate substitute) at first i couldn’t speak to well, then it got to the point that it was just good enough to tell just how awful my Spanish was, now its fine. still don’t know all the words, but I’m really good at saying what i want in different ways. right now for language study i am mostly focusing on rolling my r´s, so i just go outside and read the book of mormon, focusing on that. at first i couldn’t do it, but then i figured out that if i tilt my head back i can do it... i just look like a word that we don’t use here. but other than that my accent is apparently not bad, we were contacting a woman this week, and when she saw my name she asked me "where is your name from?" "its from argentina" "oh, that’s why your accent is so beautiful" ... that’s right,.all the native latinos say its like a cross between an argentine and a spanish accent, so i don’t really know what that means.
elder v wasn’t really feeling to great this week, he was feeling bad in his stomach, and also had some gripa. gripa is kinda like the flu, but stronger, i eventually figured out that it is more accurately the swine flu, the only thing is i don’t actually believe that it exists, whenever somebody sneezes or coughs or anything "oh, guess i have the gripa" (the gripa... sounds like the plague) so they kind of overuse it. they kinda over treat it too, i realized again why it is a bad idea to get sick here, because everyone and their dog decides to diagnose you.
"oh, are you sick?"
"yeah, i have the plague, i mean gripa"
"are you taking anything for it?"
"yeah I’m taking these pills"
"oh those dent do anything, what you have to do is eat a potato, then spin around three times, stand on your head, and then drink this concoction that i have, it will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside."
"...will i feel warm and fuzzy because mold will be growing inside of me?"
"...don’t ask questions"
this week we had the mission president come down for a zone conference with his assistants, it was pretty good, but there wasn’t too much new stuff, as apparently we are doing pretty good. sounds like he had to straighten out some other zones, but one of the assistants stayed the night at our house (there are three right now) and he said he was glad that we weren’t doing anything too different. the other reason that president came down was to give temple interviews, as the ward had a temple trip this weekend. 
it was a great opportunity that the ward had, the temple is a good 6 hour bus drive from here, so it was a sacrifice of time, but almost the whole ward was able to go and participate in the available ordinances. it’s always good to remember the importance of the temple, and often easy to take for granted as we have one readily available, its always important to take advantage of the great blessings readily available through temple service, especially when so easily available.
that’s it for now, don’t have too much time, but continue to look for opportunities to share the gospel and to help others receive the great blessings that we have. 
love you guys, be good.
elder gandola

February 16, 2015


This week was good, we had a branch activity for valentine’s day. in all reality it was pretty low key, but we were charged with bringing a video or something. we aren’t really the experts right now on the holiday right now, but we found a mormon message called "enduring love" to share. There was no computer at the activity, so we were a bit worried until elder velazco realized the tv had a usb port. "pshh, no elder, tv´s can’t do that, but i guess we can try it if you really want... oh, whaddya know, tvs can do that" ...guess i forgot that even though we(the gandola’s) don’t advance technologically, the world does (fun fact about valentine’s day on your mission, you don’t have to be annoyed at the fact that all your friends aren’t single and you are :D)

The other irregularity was this morning, we got to go and eat pizza at a member’s panaderia. i don’t know if i have already told you guys, but panaderias are the best thing. they´re like bakeries on every corner. we got to watch them making all the bread by hand, and i decided that after my mission, I’m just gonna stay here and study pan, then i can come to the us and be the only hipster in the country with my own mexican bakery. but seriously you guys have no idea what your missing (and for like less than 10 cents at that)

this week more than any other we have dealt with lots of other firm religious people,

i have seen how other churches can be the source of great good, even preparation. as some of our current investigators are of other faiths, not for the outward showmanship, but in a very real attempt to live the gospel of christ, and though they have doubts at times, they are easily eased through confirmation of the spirit.

even others i would deem to be true christians who do not listen to our message. we had a woman decline our invitation to teach this week out of a loyalty to the faith that she currently has in the truths available to her. she very kindly explained that she found it inappropriate to profess to follow christ in her current religion, and turn and participate in other forms of worship. it was not rude, it was not intent to prove us wrong or to diminish our faith.

I’m still not even sure what the conclusion of my thoughts on the subject are. only that i have realized that like the scriptures say, if it invites us to do good and draw closer to God, it is of God. if it does the opposite then it is of the devil. and i realized the importance not only of our message but of the form of our message. while we are the ones teaching it, it should not simply be accepted from us, but should be brought to God, and answered by him. so i would like to invite you all to do just that. though many of you have already received confirmation of the truth of this message, reconfirm it and verify that the path is of God, and not of men. and just as importantly that the reason it is being followed is to serve him, and not for the outward show of it.

well, I’m not sure if anybody got anything out of that, but it’s what i have to share this week, love you guys, be good.

elder gandola

February 9, 2015

well hello all,

I guess I’ll update you guys on the progress of the cancer patient we have been teaching. we went to the hospital to visit him Tuesday and he was noticeably worse, at this point he was noticeably thinner and could hardly talk. we didn’t really get to teach him much, as we were helping care for his temporal needs (food, diaper, changing sheets, etc.) but we sang a hymn, shared a brief thought about the plan of salvation, and left.

We went to visit the doctor to discuss his condition and the possibility of taking him out for baptism (we couldn't readmit him). the doctor said that we couldn't say how long he had, but that it wasn't his time yet, as there were no other complications. but we got a call that evening, it was the hospital saying that he had just passed away.

Needless to say (but i will anyways) this caused me to reflect greatly on the whole situation and what had happened, which lead me to a few thoughts that i will share. 1. this sickness was a blessing, yes it came in an abnormal form, but without it, it is safe to assume that he never would have been humbled enough to accept this message. it is a testament to our fathers love for us that he is willing to do anything necessary, to bring us home to safety, added upon by the fact that the pain of the sickness given would have to have been suffered for in the atonement. i fail to comprehend it. the other is that we do not always know the will of the father, we simply have to trust him. our goal was baptism before he passed on, by our set definition of success, we failed, but i in no way feel like we failed to accomplish anything with this man. yes he is still without this necessary ordinance, but before we left him, we verified with him that he had repented of all his past transgressions, to which the answer was an unquestionable yes. we prepared him to accept all that he needs in the life to come, and i trust we accomplished all we were meant to.

in other news we finally had investigators at the church. one (who owns a beer shop but doesn't drink) attended the ward before us because he wasn't able to make it to ours. the others were from a family we have been teaching that is pure gold. during the class, one of the sons (28 years old) was looking through the gospel principles book and found a picture of baptism, and started asking a bunch of questions, we asked him after if he wanted to be baptized and they all said yes. the father of the family was having problems with kidney stones, and would need an expensive operation, despite the fact that he is currently unemployed. we gave him a blessing on Friday and it would seem at this point (as hoped by us and stated by him) that he has been completely healed, we will see on thursday.

I’m short of time, but i got your package, and one from uncle robert and aunt kim, thanks a bunch. be good, love you guys.

elder gandola