Monday, December 23, 2013

12/23/13


Hola familia!
Well, for starters, FELIZ NAVIDAD! I sure hope that you enjoy this wonderful season, and have a great time spending it together. I am finally making it through my second Christmas here in the mission field! It's the hardest time of the year, so it's nice to get it over with ;). And when I say it's the hardest time of the year, I mean it's the hardest time for me to be away from you all, but just know that I love you and I am looking forward to spending it with you again next year!  And don't worry, they will definitely take care of us here! Christmas can be the hardest, but it is still the best time of the year, too! :) We have SO many plans lined up. We are going to be Christmas PiƱatas by the end of this week! Stuffed. haha But we are SO excited! This is such a great ward, and I love everyone so much and can't wait to spend Christmas with them!
This was another crazy couple of weeks, so it wasn't the best idea to save the email for today again, but last week was just TOO busy to be able to catch you up. So, sorry if I don't brief it all, but as I have mentioned before, I will have plenty of stories upon my return! :)
For starters, Elder Smith officially died on Thursday, and that plane that was at one point 2 years from his view crept up on him, and swooped him away back to the sweet little town high in the Rocky Mountains, Del Norte, Colorado. It was a weird/surreal feeling being with him until the end, realizing that one day I will be at that point, and as he shared with me many times, I am sure I won't believe it either. But, thank goodness I don't have to worry about that for a while! We will all miss his big bear hugs, but we are happy for him-that he gets to spend Christmas with his loved ones. He will be missed, but let the rest of his journey begin!
Following that event, I am officially with Elder Richards and Elder Dehlin! We thought this day would never come, but we love it very much! We have already had a blast and are so sad that we will only be together for 11 days in total (6 more days :( ), but we are going to work hard and have a great Christmas week together! Love these Elders to death, and I am so excited to continue to work with them. They're great!
Also within the last couple weeks, Chase Tueller and Cameron Tidwell (ex-Elder Tueller and ex-Elder Tidwell) came to visit! It was great to reuinte because Elder Tueller was my first companion (of now 7 in this area alone) here in Anaheim, and Elder Tidwell was Elder Richards' first/trainer/father. It was a great reunion, and we celebrated it over a couple plates of the delicious Peruvian cuisine that Hermana Sanchez cooks so delightfully. :)
Thank you for all the Christmas packages that I have been receiving, I really do appreciate the love and support! You are all so great, and it's been a blast opening all the presents that aren't marked to wait until Christmas. ;) I have a rule of thumb to open all packages that don't have specific instructions, because I am impatient and cannot wait. haha I hate surprises! But no worries, the presents that I received instructions for are lovingly nestled under our paper wall tree. haha Love you all, thank you so much!
This last Friday, we also had our Mission Christmas Program, which was great! Last year, we watched Tangled under the President's permission, because he liked to take this day and call it "the Stress Reliever Day" ha. He's great to us, and this year we were lucky enough to watch Despicable Me! The word on the street (gossip) was that it would be Despicable Me 2, which would have been great because I haven't seen it, but oh well! I enjoyed it nonetheless. It was indeed a great day of relaxation. After the movie, we had a delicious lunch and then had a great devotional from President and Sister Bowen. I sure love them and the loving example they are to us all. Such a great Christmas Spirit was felt that day!
Now, I think the main highlight of these last couple week was our ward Christmas party we had that night after the program. It was great! SO funny. There was food and tamales and the whole cultural hall was decorated! It looked great. Although it was done by the ward this time, we prepared something special for the show, and we were still running around all over the place to set up, so I didn't get a chane to take a picture. :( I will get a couple pics and videos from the members, though, so stay tuned on those for next week! Our skits were crowd pleasers for sure. They would not stop laughing after! ha We set up a table on the stage and did the arm trick where the people sit at the table and then put their arms behind their backs while the people sitting behind them put their arms through the gaps the sitting person made with their arms and pretend to be their arms. Really hard to explain over email! ha But I hope you understand. If not, the pics will explain it! Hno Badillo, our ward mission leader, then played the spokesperson and explained to the ward that we would be teaching them proper dinner etiquette. haha It was SO funny! I was the arms for Elder Richards, and he didn't care what I did because he wore a shirt he is planning on burning and a cheap little tie, so I had FUN! haha They gave us the messiest food, and it was such a blast just shoving it into his mouth and wiping it all over his face and shirt. Hno Badillo was explaining the whole time and the ward could not stop laughing. It was definitely a skit to remember! ha
After that, we did another where the Sisters went out front on stage in front of the curtains and explained to the crowd that they would be singing "Angles we have heard on High". Because the Sisters are pretty shy and not very talkative, the ward wasn't expecting anything unusual. However, us Elders were back stage with a mic and as soon as they announced it, they mouthed us singing it in a very "opera" way with deep voices. Again, the ward could not stop laughing as two dainty sisters belted "Angels we have heard on High" with man voices. It was great, and I am glad the ward had such a great time at the Christmas activity! To finish it off, before we left to be home by curfew, Bishop called me out and made me sing "O Holy Night" in front of everyone! ha The other night at his house for dinner, we were listening to Christmas music in the background, and I started singing along, and he put me to the test, and joked that he would make me sing it, but I didn't think he was serious. Well, he was! ha It got stuck on stage with no practice and I couldn't hear the background music being played on his phone through a microphone to sing a song in English at a Spanish ward's Christmas Program. ha It was rough. But they said they still liked it, although they couldn't really hear me all that well because the mic was being lame. Sure they just said it as a pitty compliment, because I messed up a lot. Haven't heard the karaoke version of Josh Groban's "O Holy Night" in a LONG time! ha Oh well, it was still fun, and it's a memory (and a recording no MANY members' phones :/) to remember ha.
Now one more moment from this week that I wanted to share with those that didn't hear was definitely the greatest Christmas present on my mission. :) As we were preparing Wednesday for Elder Smith's departure at the mission office, I was helping sort mail as he waiting for the office staff to return so he could do the paperwork. As we were just about to finish and take off to grab some lunch before they got back, I heard someone say "Alec?" Behind my back. For that very short moment before I turned around, I thought to myself two things... One, why is someone referring to me by my first name? And two, why is it in question form? haha As I turned around, I met eyes with my loving Grandma Pat! I was so surprised! I quickly hurried over to her, still shocked about the whole situation and got to give her the biggest hug! I was so great to have the wonderful surprise! Turns out, she was dropping off a present for me for Christmas! The amazing part of it all, is that we were not planning on going there until later after emails, but a more convenient spot opened up in our schedule and we took it to take care of things faster. Well, it was meant to be! I was meant to see my Grandma Pat, Grandma Meo, and her adorable dog Max for Christmas. :) I couldn't get my smile to go away for quite some time. (Not that I ever really stop smiling :)) I was just such a great surprise to help me get through my Christmas a little easier without being too homesick. It was the greatest present I could wish for. Although it sadly wasn't all of you there, it was nice to get a little glimpse of Christmas with family. Sure love you all, and can't wait to be able to at least talk to you Christmas Day, too!
Thank you again, to all, for the wonderful Christmas presents and cards. I love you all so much, and I am so grateful to be part of sharing this wonderful Christmas spirit this year. I am so grateful for this Chance to be a representative of Christ and remind people of the greatest gift our Heavenly Father has ever given us; His Son. What a blessing and gift it is to be able to return to Him again and enjoy his presence and everlasting life if we just accept that gift and join in following our loving Savior. Whether we accept it and recognize it or not, Christ died for us so that we can all live together as families again. We need to remember not only his birth this season, but also all that he has done for us. He is the Son of God, our older brother, and our friend. As it teaches us in Alma 7:11-12, he didn't just suffer for our sins to we can make it home again, but he suffered for all the pain and sickness we experience so that he knows how to comfort us in time of need. We are never alone, and this is a testimony that I have gained personally. This Christmas season is a great time to remember that we do not celebrate to get presents, but we celebrate to remember the greatest gift we were ever given to get back to His presence. How greatful I am for that! I hope you all remember this remarkable plan and enjoy your Holidays together. I love you all so much, and I can't wait to see you all soon! Love you all so much, and Merry Christmas!
-Elder Gallego
"Born in a stable, cradled in a manger, He came forth from heaven to live on earth as mortal man and to establish the kingdom of God. His glorious gospel reshaped the thinking of the world. He lived for us, and He died for us. What can we, in return, give to Him?" President Thomas S. Monson

Monday, December 16, 2013

12/9/13


Hola familia!
This week was a pretty interesting week. A couple moments that were "firsts" for me in my life! I was strengthened in my testimony very much this week and it ended up being a great week of learning. The weather was amazing this week and it is COLD! You know what that means? That's right, I'm breaking out the sweater vest! ha And let me tell you...I look suave. ;) It was nice to bundle up in your blanket you sent me, Mom. It is perfect for this weather! We had a good storm on Saturday, and we decided to get a bit of fresh air during lunch and take a trip into Anaheim Hills and into a cloud ha. It was fun, and we sure enjoyed the cold, and it was fun to be in a cloud. :) We took some fun pictures to remember the moments, since Elder Smith will be leaving me soon...we have to capture all we can since we won't even be together a full transfer...boo. The pics were fun, though, hope you like them! ha
The first "first" moment that happened to us this week really caught us off guard. I was on exchanges with Elder Dehlin in his area, and we had just had a great day of working hard in the bitter cold on bike, and we were enjoying a good shrimp dinner with one of the less actives in their area. Background information is that it is an older woman with her 35 year old son that is in really bad health condition from cancer. In the middle of our conversation, he started moaning and crying really loud, so she left to go help him out. After a couple minutes of hustling around to give him medications and us offering to help, she asked us to help carry him from the bathroom to his bed. We could tell he was in a lot of pain because he could even walk. After carrying him to his bed, everything happened so fast from there. She gave him some of his medication, and out of nowhere, he stopped responding. His expressions on his face just went away and he had a blank stare. She tried talking to him and everything, and there was no response. Basically, to make the long story short-as I can pretty much only do through email-after trying to calm the mother down, we give him a blessing. In the middle of the blessing, I attempted to share with him that he could recuperate and be healed, but I couldn't get the words out of my mouth. I felt through the Holy Ghost that that wasn't what he was meant to hear-if he was still listening. I was directed otherwise to assure him that his mother would be okay and that his trip to the Spirit World would be okay. As we ended, we noticed that he passed away during the blessing-he was no longer breathing, and he did not have a pulse. And for a moment, I felt like we weren't the only people in that room. The part of this all that caught us off guard was that we were so calm. Although this was the first time I had ever experienced anything like this, I knew exactly what to do. As the paramedics came, and she had time to say goodbye to her son, they entered the room, and he revived. Without having to revive him, he came back. Although this caught us off guard because we felt it was his time to end the suffering, we are glad his mom gets a little more time to say goodbye. After taking him in the ambulance and her going with him-ecstatic to see that her son was alive, we had to leave-thinking back on what just happened. It all happened so fast, and we were led by the Spirit to do so much... Elder Dehlin has been out for just a couple months, but he was able to translate perfectly when I left the room for a moment to help out another group of paramedics. We know that we were led by the Spirit to be there at the moment we were. I know that Heavenly Father watches out over each and every one of us. Althought it was such a sudden surprise of a situation, I was so comforted to know that through this gospel, I don't need to be afraid of what come after death. It is a blessing to know what comes next so that we don't need to be afraid. A few days later, we found out that he son is indeed still alive, and that although the doctors shared with him in the hospital that he is terminal and there is nothing more they can do-that he will basically be waiting it out now, the mother is glad that she now knows to plan on it and has time to say goodbye to her son. It is a very sad situation to be in and we will continue to pray for Hna. Umanzor, but it is a blessing to her and us to know that he will be able to escape from his pain. Sorry this story turned into something so long, but I was just trying to convey the experience the best I could. I learned that even in the craziest of situations, we can be lead and calmed by the Spirit. What a blessing it is to have it!
Sorry for the downer story, but please keep that family in your prayers so they can be prepared. The other "first" story for the week is that we played in the snow Saturday night! We had snow! ha Here in Orange County, California. :) It was a lot of fun, and I will be attaching pictures so you can join in being excited for me. ;)
Well, that's pretty much it for right now. I have run out of time-as usual-so now it's time to go! The First Presidency Devotional was great! I hope you loved it as much as I did. :) Sure loved the music. Christmas is the best time of the year! We will be carrying the Christmas spirit to the homes of the part-member families in our area this week as we go caroling! It's going to be a lot of fun and a great opportunity to hopefully have the families open up and progress towards a happy eternal family through the blessings we receive from our Heavenly Father through his Son Jesus Christ. What a blessing it is to be reminded of him this Christmas season. I love you all so much and hope you, too, are enjoying the Holiday Season! :) Love you, cuidense!
-Elder Gallego
"Take off the final syllable of Christmas, and you will be reminded of what Christmas is all about."

Thursday, December 5, 2013

12/2/13

Hola familia!
 
I sure hope you had a great Thanksgiving! I sure did. We ate SO much food! We were invited to the Garcia's home to celebrate it with them. I was expecting Hispanic-style Thanksgiving, but MAN, did Maria hook everyone up! All of her slaving in the kitchen all day really paid off. It was DELICIOUS! There was SO much food. From mashed potatoes (yummm) to stuffing to turkey to ham (mmmm) to rolls to vegetables-the only thing that was missing was Grandma's delicious sweet potato salad that I love! :) It all still made me feel so much like at home. I loved it and I am very grateful for the chance I had to spend it with a great family. Thanksgiving was a success once again, this year! And P.S.- I'm STILL full. O.o
 
Also on Thanksgiving, we were lucky enough to have a mission-wide (well, 3 or 4 zones) service project at the Honda Center. We helped clean up an all-day event they had feeding the homeless. We got t-shirts and everything. :) They had sent it all up in the parking lot and there were a LOT of chairs, tables, tents, food containers...the whole shebang. I was jealous of the homeless people, because all the leftovers smelt so good! ;) (We hadn't eaten yet, so I was STARVING for some Thanksgiving dinner ha) It was great to have all us missionaries show up right in the nick of time! The event had just ended, and all the volunteers were wondering how they were possibly going to finish putting everything away and still make it home in time for dinner with their families. Then we showed up, and they told us we looked like a bunch of angels coming up dressed in our white shirts, ties, and for sisters, their dresses. We saved the day! We all worked hard, got all the stuff put away after a lot of work, and it felt good to do service that day. Made me take a step back and realize all that I am grateful for that these people don't have. I can tell you this much-I sure was grateful for my bed at the end of that day! ha Tired, worn, and full, but happy. :)
 
I feel that would pretty much be my creed for the week. ha We had a LOT of work outside of the usual this week. We moved a lot. Sadly, again, another sister was emergency transferred from my district again. Isn't a transfer without an emergency transfer. Nothing that she did or that went on in this district...never is. Sister Ballard-one of the veterans from this district was moved to Fullerton. Something happened to a sisters area in the English program, and so a sister from Fullerton was sent to fix it from the Spanish program, and Sister Ballard was sent to fill her spot. She will be missed! It was really sad because Elder Richards, Sister Ballard, and I have been together in the same district since the beginning of their missions. Elder Richards and I since March and Sister Ballard and us since April. It was really hard for her to leave, but she will do a great job wherever she is! Now her companion, Sister Pratt was put into a trio in the south area, so, once again, the trio of Sisters will be covering two area for the rest fo the transfer. Soon, it will be only 2 companionships and 4 areas ha. When Elder Smith leaves, I will be put with Elder Richards and Elder Dehlin in the north area and we will be covering their area and mine. So we will be down to 6 missionaries in the ward-the lowest it's been in two years! Crazy stuff, but we are ready to work hard to keep it going! So that was move #1.
 
Move #2 was pretty much all day Saturday ha. A less-active family needed help moving all of the sudden because they finally got permission to move in from the complex. So, the sisters asked if we could help, and lately our moving opportunities have been pretty simple-a few boxes, a dresser, bed frame, and ya. BUT, this was more than what we bargained for. We show up, and the U-Haul awaiting us should have been the wake up call! ha We stayed in our regular clothes because we were expecting something small like usual, but boy were we wrong. We should have changed. We spent the next several hours moving a washer and dryer, a couple beds, tables and chairs, had to take a fridge apart to get it through the door because the room was built around it, and a GIANT old piano. Getting it all out of the house was pretty easy...even the piano wasn't too hard...but little did we know that there was 2 flights of stairs awaiting our arrival at the new appt. Long story short, after moving all the stuff, we were EXHAUSTED! Especially the piano... I didn't realize that piano way the same as the Corolla I used to drive. It was insane how heavy it was and I am SO sore from it ha. It was a blast though. After being sandwiched against the stairs and walls all day and a few great laughs from it all, it will remain as one of my favorite memories here in the misson-especially when Hno. Jaramillo showed up with a REAL moving dolly and made it look so easy. ha Good times...good times.
 
In all, I was so grateful for all the memories I have had this week. As I reflected, I have come to gain an even greater appreciation for all the many creations that our Father in Heaven has made for us, and all his loving guidance that he shares with us. I am so grateful to have such a great loving family and this amazing opportunity to have even more family members out here in California. I know it's been said many times, but these really are the Best Two Years. And I know this because no matter how tired of work I may be, no matter how worn out I may be, no matter how full I may be, I still remain happy. I love you all so much and hope you continue to enjoy the lovely holiday weather. Sure is beautiful here right now! Lots of rain...my favorite! :) Love you and miss you! Take care!
 
-Elder Gallego
 
"Christmastime turns our hearts to the Savior and to the joy His gospel has brought us. We show our gratitude to Him best as we offer that happiness to others. Gratitude is turned to joy as we offer names to missionaries and as we take the names of our ancestors to the temple. That evidence of our gratitude can make friends and families that endure forever." President Henry B. Eyring
 
P.S. Here is a picture of us all right before Sister Ballard left :( Elder Smith's final district.

11/25/13




Hola familia!
 
Not too much to talk about this week (finally, after such a busy last few weeks ;)), but it was still a busy and good week! Elder Esmit and I were just getting settled and he was getting moved in again. We had to clean out the apartment of accumulated junk and whatnot to be sure to make room for his size 18 shoes. ;) He's a great companion, and I look forward to working more with him! Can't believe he leaves in 3 weeks....I'm going to kill my first missionary!
 
     to kill (verb): 1. in the real world- to end someone's life by force of action. 2. in missionary life- to be the companion of a missionary that ends his mission.
 
Just wanted to include that so you didn't get any false ideas ha. It will be a new experience. Hopefully he doesn't get too trunky on me!
 
     trunky (noun): 1. missionary slang- to be ready and/or packed for home; to be not focused on the work because home is distracting.
 
I think it's going to be a great couple of weeks with him. We are going to work hard, so that this area continues to pick up and doesn't drop right after he leaves-although I will be covering two areas! He's a great companion, and we have already had a great time. It has been a pretty normal week of visiting investigators and members and normal meetings. Nothing too crazy or exciting to talk about. The main (and pretty much only ;)) highlight of the week was our Thanksgiving ward activity!
 
As missionaries, we planned another ward activity for this month. Because there is supposed to be at least one ward activity each month, we have been working on getting that going so the members have opportunities for great ways to introduce their friends to the church and enjoy their time together as a ward. Our last activity was a hit for October, and so we took on the chance to put together another fun activity. :) After brainstorming, we worked with our awesome ward mission leader to come up with the theme of "the Tree of Life" for our ward Thanksgiving dinner we planned. We kept the theme a secret for the ward and basically told them it would be a Thanksgiving dinner with a fun theme. As they arrived, we blocked off part of the parking lot, and directed them to enter through the unusual front door. As they entered, they were seated down on a couch, and Bishop introduced a little message about holding onto the string next to him and not letting go and they would get to the activity. They did it in groups. So everyone a group at a time grabbed a hold of the white cord and followed Bishop. Towards the beginning, Hno Badillo asked a few to go with him to help prepare the food. Along the way, Hno Monge was tucked away in one of the classes and would tell them to let go to grab some candy. Also, Alex Badillo was there telling them to let go to go play soccer with him outside. At another point along the way, Mulan was playing in a room with all the Badillo kids sitting around it eating popcorn. Through each of these steps, people would let go, but they always seemed to make it back to the rope. At the end, if they followed all the way to the end, they found that the rope was attached to a bright lit up tree that we had prepared to be "the Tree of Life". As they go to the end, most people made the connection. Hna Monge shared that she got a little teary eyed to get all the way to the end without letting her two young sons let go along the way and seeing them make it all the way there and then her realizing the importance of this lesson. As they finished, Obispo congratulated them and guided them back through room with little bookmarks we made for them to remember and they began eating. It wasn't until everyone had entered the main dinner that he explained the main message of this all.
 
In the Book of Mormon, we can read in 1 Nephi Chapter 8 of a dream Lehi (one of the prophets of the Book of Mormon) had from the Lord. I know you have read it before, but if there are any who are reading this right now that haven't, I invite you to read it, and study the significance of each and every part of the dream. Although we couldn't completely recreate everything from the dream, it was neat to see the impact it had on people's view. The string represents the iron rod from the story, which is the word of God and the gospel that we live. The tree represents eternal life and the blessings that come from living the gospel. As we hold to the rod, or live the gospel of Jesus Christ, we make it to eternal life with our family and receive the blessings that have been prepared for us. Although we may let go at times and may fall, because we are not perfect, the important part is to always make it back to that iron rod so that we can make it to "the Tree of Life" once again with our families. I have a strong testimony that this message is true and it really does apply to our lives. We just need to try and do our best, and we will get there. I loved watching the members of the ward participate in the activity, and invite non-member friends to also be part of it and learn.
 
As Thanksgiving comes up this week, the activity we did reminds me of the blessings I have received in my life. A loving family. A gospel-centered home. A happy life. There are SO many, and it would take quite a few emails to list them all, but the bottom line is that I am so grateful for all God has given me. I am grateful to have you as my eternal family, and I look forward to the day I get to be with you again. I hope you have a great Thanksgiving, and are sure to count your many blessings and remember all that God has done. I love you so much and I hope you are well. Be safe in any travels! Love you!
 
-Elder Gallego
 
"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." 2 Nephi 31:20 (This was the scripture on the bookmarks :))

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

11/19/13

Hola familia!
 
It's official. I picked the WORST couple weeks to decide not to write you. Now there is SO much to inform you of, so sorry if this is long, but it's meant to cover the last two VERY busy weeks full of change and news. I will try chronological order and try not to bore you. ;)
 
As I mentioned in the last letter that I would tell you more about, a few weeks ago, Sister Corona from my district ended up going home. I was so sad to hear about it because we were all such a close district, and we were doing the best we could to help her out. In the end, she felt that she could better figure her personal struggles out at home and has plans to come back hopefully soon! So please continue to keep her in your prayers, because she is such a great missionary, and it would be great to have her back in the mission to help out. Sister Byon (her companion) ended up being moved that same day she left to Fullerton, and just like that our district minimized by two powerful sisters. It was all a surprise to. We were all so caught off guard. As a district, we covered their area for the rest of the transfer, and now that the transfer has come, Sister Byon has returned and joined with Sister Davis (was in the west area last transfer) to bring that area back to life. We are now back to 8 missionaries in Anaheim!
 
And yes, I say "we" because once again, I am staying in Anaheim! I will be here for the holidays! WOO! I am so excited to keep working in this area because it is one fire right now and I love this ward so much. Since I have been here for so long, it feels like home, so it will be nice to be here for the holidays. :) I will feel more like home! (Although, of course, you can't be replaced!) I am still District Leader in the same area. The sad part of it, however, is that Elder Thorne was transferred away from me back to Santa Ana, where he came from. :( We were SO sad! These past 2 transfers have been the greatest transfers of my mission. BY FAR! I have learned so much from him, and we have both grown so much together. I was so sad to say goodbye to yet another companion in this area. He is such a great elder, though, and he will continue to do a great job there in Santa Ana. He will be missed! The funny part is, we were going around all this week visiting the members and investigators I know here (which is many, since it's been a while ha) and taking pictures in preparation for me leaving, because we were all pretty sure I was leaving, but, in reality, we should have been doing the opposite. We were all caught off guard to find out that all the veterans here in Anaheim (Elder Richard, Sister Ballard, and myself) are all staying. Looks like we haven't finished our work here yet! ha I know I was meant to be here for Roberto still, but looks like that's not all! :)
 
My new companion is Elder Esmit (Smith) from Del Norte, Colorado and he is a 6'10'' teddy bear! I love him to death already, and I am excited to work with him. Due to his height, I also now drive a big (prepare yourself, Dad) Dodge (I know what you're thinking ;)) Minivan. ha I look like a soccer mom. Lame! But fun, because I'm not longer stuck in a Corolla. It's always fun to play with all the gadgets in a new car. Just will take a little getting used to since I've been a Toyota Corolla user for the past year and a half ha. I'll be sure to send pics! He has been companions with Elder Tueller, Elder Garza, and Elder Anderson, so we're already connected through companions ha. He says hello! :) However, he will only be my companion for the next 4 weeks. He is leaving before the transfer ends (with Elder Parkinson) to go home. Because they started their mission so close to Christmas, they are lucky enough to only miss ONE christmas with their families. President has given them each permission to go home just before Christmas to spend it with their families. So cool! So, when he leaves, I will be in a trio with the north elders, Elder Richards and Elder Dehlin! I am beyond excited. They are so cool, and I just love being their District Leader. Now I will finally be their companion! Woo hoo! So excited.
 
Speaking of cars, I may or may not have had my first car "accident." :/ Darn California is ruining my driving record! I wouldn't even really classify it to anything other than a little bump. Not that I am trying to justify myself or anything, but I idled into someone at 3 miles per hour because I looked away for a second, and it turns out, the traffic wasn't moving...just me. Awkward. Well, so we bumped into the Kia in font of us, and it turns out, the driver doesn't have a license, nor did they have insurance. So...not sure it that whole situation is going anywhere. We punched a couple of holes into their bumper with the screws from the license plate frame, but there was only a little scratch on our car. So, they didn't take it away, just told us to be more careful. So glad it wasn't anything big. We're all good! Hopefully it doesn't happen again!
 
Now bringing it back to Roberto. My goodness. That had to be the best baptismal program I have ever been a part of. The Spirit was felt so strong, and it was so powerful to watch the Spirit work in him and help him understand the importance of that very special day for him and his family. The short talks were amazing, and he asked that the Primary and missionaries sing "Oracion de un nino" o sea "A Child's Prayer" so that his kids were involved along with us missionaries. It was so powerful and the Primary sang so beautifully, so it was so strong. He pretty much broke down during the song, and with wet eyes, he and I entered the waters of baptized. Luckily, I got it right on the first try (not that I usually don't ;)), and he emerged a new man-ready and with a HUGE smile on his face. He is so happy and couldn't stop smiling the rest of the night. I am so happy for that family and the privilege I have had to be a part of this. It sure has changed my mission. I have learned so much right along with him, and it is amazing to me to have such a strong connection with him. I can't wait to come back this time next year to watch them be sealed together as a family for all eternity. :) Now everyone in that house is a member of the Church besides his father, who attended the baptism and told us he wouldn't mind us stopping by soon to speak with him. I hope that goes well! It is amazing to see the blessings this gospel has for families. I have such a strong testimony that this work really is for the benefit and salvation of the family. There is nothing that brings me more happiness and peace than that of watching and helping people make and keep sacred covenants with our Heavenly Father that will alter their life-for the better-forever. I am so happy for this family and can't wait for the day they enter the temple. :)
 
Well, that was a pretty brief highlight of how everything has been these last few weeks. I sure love all that I have learned so far in my mission, and I look forward to all that I still have yet to learn! There is no doubt in my mind that the purpose of our missions is not only to change the lives of those we teach, but also ours. I know I still have a while to go, so I will keep working towards being the best I possibly can to be sure I receive the blessings God is preparing for me after I leave the mission field. I also received word today (not that I'm focused on this or anything-no worries-not a trunky missionary ;)) that I will be going home on my birthday! How cool is that?! I can't think of a better Christmas present that to reunite with you all once again. Like I said, I will be working hard out here to be sure I live up to all the responsibilities God has prepared for me. I sure love this mission-as I'm sure you've heard over and over (because it's true) this is the greatest part of my life, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I love you all so much and hope you are doing well. You are always in my prayers. Take care and talk to you soon!
 
-Elder Gallego
 
"God is never hidden, yet sometimes we are." (Thanks Hermana Mosley! :))
 
P.S. Here are some pics of Roberto's baptism, the district before we were dispersed (Elder Thorne and Sister Hulet left us :( ), and my new comp and van! ha



11/7/13






Hola familia!
 
Holy moley...I don't know if it will be possible to catch you up on everything that has happened this past week and a half in this little email. I will definitely have to expound on all this great news that happened this week. Headlines include but are not limited to: Roberto receives his answer, a golden investigator comes to us, the ward Costume Activity is a hit, we go to the temple for the first time since July, and it's the most "part-member" time of the year! :) Let's just say that of all the weeks in my mission to have a gap of 10 days between p-days, it couldn't have been a busier two weeks! Hopefully I can recap well, and whatever I miss (which will most likely be a lot), I will write about in my letter on Monday P-day ha.
 
For starters, the Costume Activity was a total hit! Everyone loved it! We decorated caramel apples and sugar cookies, carved pumpkins, had a jumphouse (of course-hispanic party ;D), painted faces, had mystery boxes, had a costume competition (us missionaries should have rightfully won ha), and finished it off with a Trunk O' Treat-English ward style. ha It was all around a great turn out and what was amazing was the next day the chapel was full! Ward activities are a great way to continue to help strengthen the less-actives, recent converts, and new investigators in feeling comfortable in the ward and making more friends. Everyone had a lot of fun and it all looked great! Us missionaries borrowed the hand-made minion costumes of a family from the English ward, and when we all walked in (there were only 5 costumes, so it was just perfect that my companion, Elder Thorne, looks just like Gru and Sister Davis was the red-head from the 2nd one) the ward went crazy! We immediately got attacked by everyone wanting to take pictures...I mean, I don't blame them...these costumes were legit! The English ward's Relief Society President did them...it was awesome! Such a great activity, and now we are gearing up for our Thanksgiving activity! The theme is the Tree of Life...I'll explain that more later! We'll see if I stay around for that one! Which leads me to my next topic...
 
I experienced what I would consider to be the best lesson in my whole mission this week. Monday in general was just such an amazing day! We stopped by to visit Roberto Sanchez and his family, because the Thursday before we couldn't like we usually do because of Halloween. Well, the night before, his wife was telling us about how she thinks he is feeling too pressured right now and that she thinks it may not be his time, but we were trying to explain to her that he is progressing more than ever, and that we need to be sure that he does feel a little pressure-good pressure to make a change. So we stopped by to have a little Noche de Hogar with them in hopes that that would strengthen their unity as a family and help him understand the importance of this step for his whole family, as well. We didn't really have anything planned because it was last second stop by, so we decided to have a small testimony meeting. The Spirit was so strong as we all bore our testimony-even him! He shared his experiences he has had with partaking of the sacrament and how he feels it cleanse him. It was a powerful testimony even from him! As we finished going around, the Spirit was really strong and after talking about the blessings of this gospel for the family, we asked him to say the prayer. He agreed quickly, and I see this as the greatest turning point I have ever seen out here. As he prayed, it was so heartfelt, and it was as if Heavenly Father was there with us. Then, this big macho man starting to cry as his prayer basically turned into a testimony of him knowing this is the truth and that it's what's right for his family. It was so powerful! As he ended, his family huddled around him and supported him. As he wiped away the tears, he told us how before, when the missionaries would come over, he would get uncomfortable, and wouldn't look forward to it, but now it's all changed and he looks forward to it and is so impressed with the knowledge he learns and the power he feels when we visit his home and when he goes to church. He realized that he got is spiritual witness of the truthfulness of this gospel, and told us a few times that he's ready to be baptized. I was in awe. I had never seen anything that powerful and such a momentary change in anyone before. He moved his baptismal date forward a week and will now be getting baptized November 17th. The last day of this transfer. He asked me to baptize him, and I am honored. I am so happy for the family! He has come so far!
 
Now as I went into this week, I wondered if I would be sticking around for the holidays, and had this feeling that I was going to be sticking around for Roberto Sanchez. I have just felt a strong connection with him, and we have gotten along so well, and I feel he is one of the people I have been staying in this area for. Well, originally, with his baptismal date being set for the 24th of November, I felt that reassure me that I would be staying one more transfer. With what happened this week, though, I feel I may be leaving. :( I really hope not, but I feel comforted to know that I was able to be a part in helping this amazing family grow closer together. We will continue to work hard with him to be sure he is ready in time, and I ask that you will please keep him and his family in your prayers. I am so happy for them and all that is going on in this area right now!
 
I have to move on with my P-Day, though, so I will have to write about all the other "headlines" plus more on Monday! I love you all so much and I am so grateful to have you as part of my eternal family. The feelings of peace I get everytime I hear or say that just confirms to me that this church is true. I love this gospel and I love the lasting impact this mission has and will forever have on me. Love you all so much! Talk to you again soon!
 
-Elder Gallego
 
"When you don't feel like praying, pray until you feel like praying."
 
P.S. Please also keep Carlos Votte and Sister Corona in your prayers. I will explain their stories on Monday! LOVE YOU!
 
*here are a couple of fun pics from the week! Studs at the temple, Costume Party, and new soccer jersey! :)))

10/28/13



Hola familia!
 
This is going to be a quick email! (Pffft I always say that...)
 
Highlights of the week:
We had Zone Conference and it was amazing! We were visited by Elder Ellis of the Quorum of the Seventy. It was a great meeting, and I enjoyed learning about how we can better apply our purpose to bring others unto Christ. It was a great opportunity to learn, and he is a great public speaker. He has a great way of applying everything back to missionary work. I loved it! Plus, we thought it was pretty cool that he sounds JUST like Tom Hanks. ;) The Spirit was really strong, despite the minor distraction of his voice characteristics ha.
Elder Parkinson and I were back together! Because he is my Zone Leader, we went on exchanges, and it was so weird to be back together! We visited a few people that we used to visit and it was a great day to catch up and have a good time, again! He leaves in December! So crazy...I remember when he still had like 8 months left. I still feel young in the mission, but Elder Thorne keeps telling me how old I am haha. All my comps are leaving. :(
And on that topic, Elder Garza actually left for home this week, too! He finished with flying colors and took off back to the great ol' state of Mexico. Just in time for Halloween. It's funny because he is obsessed with it, so he got lucky. :) I will definitely miss him. We had so much fun together, and he was always such a fun person to talk to at Zone Activities. He's definitely a great comedy relief! ha He will be missed by many. There was no other missionary like Elder Garza. I learned so much from him. That makes 3 of my 6 companions gone from the mission...and almost 4! I feel old. haha Oh well, I keep going! :)
I had a great time to reminisce on my time with my past companions this week. We went to Camelot again! It is the same thing as Golfland, but here. Owned by the same people, who are relatives of the Garns, actually. The Kenney family. They are amazing and let missionaries go have a great time playing put-put golf, laser tag, and go carts for free. It's always a blast. I am TERRIBLE at golf, but I always destroy in laser tag. ;) I continued to carry my reputation this time, too! ha We've gone three times as a Zone, and all three times, I've either been first or second. Usually, my companion is my accompanying first or second place holder, but this time-because Elder Thorne isn't the most athletic person ;) don't worry, not me being mean, he openly accuses himself haha-he didn't accompany me in it, but by father Elder Anderson, did! :) So we were still related. It was fun! Elder Anderson, Elder Thorne, Elder Parkinson, and Elder Garza were all there! Almost all my companions. :) I love Camelot!
With all the ups this week, it also had it's trials. Sister Corona and Sister Byon had a very difficult week. If you could please keep them in your prayers, I would really appreciate it. It's been a little bit of a struggle for me, because I can't do much to help. As I have always been used to, I like to help people. Unfortunately, the way it is in the mission, I can't help out sister missionaries all that much. I can support them in the area and in the work, but the rest is for the sister leaders and President. It's difficult, but I'm hoping they can get through it, and that I am doing all I can to help them. They are great, powerful sisters, so I hope the best for them. We all knocked in their area, and we helped them out, but I think another week would have been better, so they could have prepared some names for us. They are doing the best they can, just not the best things are happening to them, so please keep them in your prayers that all works out with them. Thanks! :)
We were invited by one of our old potential investigators to a Halloween party! ha It was...interesting. Originally, they were a referral from their member neighbors, and we tried many times to stop by, but we only met the daughter once, and postponed stopping by for a while for maybe another time they would be available. After a while, she saw us in the library and gave me a note (that of course we read together) saying that she remembered me and would like us to come meet her family at this Halloween party. After a little bit of debating, we decided to at least quickly meet the family. In her note, she explained that it would be a safe party with no alcohol or anything, so we thought we'd stop by and maybe this would be our opportunity to finally contact them. Well, it started with an awkward arrival, as she tried to hug me, but I was SUPER awkward and just stuck my hand right in the way. hahaha It was the Best Two Years status. Straight up. It was totally unnexpected, because we were invited in by her mom, and she came out of nowhere and went for the hug, but I totally shut her down in an awkward way...it happened too fast to explain much, but she understood. haha I even went, "WHOA!" It just came out. Elder Thorne and I had a good laugh about that after. Moving on, though, the house was AMAZINGLY decorated! It was insane how much Halloween decorations they had! I'll atttach some pics. She gave us a tour of the house, and then we kind of just sat around and ate a cupcake, because she was the only person who would really talk to us ha. We were there for a few minutes, but the sisters gave us a call that they needed a blessing, so we looked at that as an opportunity to take off. Well, right as we were on our way out, after thanking Natalie for inviting us, her dad and uncle came in with a couple cases of beer. Perfect timing. Needless to say, it wasn't what we expected, but it was cool to see the house! :)
The work was great this week! Roberto Sanchez is doing great! He is searching for a new job so he doesn't have to work on Sundays anymore! He is progressing really well, and I sure hope I can stay around to watch him continue to progress. I love the family, and I really do want the best for them. We are just working with his wife so that she can be a good support to him. He's great, and not only do I hope that I can stay around to help him out, but it would just stink in general to leave during the holidays, no that this is pretty much my home ward. ha We'll see!
Other than that, it was a pretty normal week full of working with members and Elder Thorne and I enjoying our time together. He is hilarious and I love being his companion. Fun fact about Elder Thorne...he forgets...EVERYTHING! It was a little frustrating at first, but now it's just hilarious how cronically forgetful he is. ha He is always joking about his nose, too...it's hilarious. He's a good sport. ;) Love this area and I love this work! I hope you are all doing well, and I look forward to hearing back soon! LOVE YOU!
 
-Elder Gallego
 
"I know that faith can move mountains, but we weren't called to move mountains...we were called to climb them." Sister Spence-I LOVED this! It was shared by one of the sister missionaries at Zone Conference. So good and true!

10/21/13

Hola familia!
 
Sorry to say this again, but I have run out of time once again. I had thought that I'd planned my time out well for emails, but it come down to the end and I forgot to email President first, again, so...sorry! But I will try my best to keep a quick update on it all. I'm getting to the point where I'm not quite sure what to write about, so if you have any idea, let me know! I feel like I have boring emails ha. Not sure what to write about, but here goes!
 
The Morales family FINALLY got confirmed! They are officially members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am so happy for them! :) Since we don't get to see them very often because they are now living in the Sisters' area and they are visiting them regularly now, they make it clear to us in text messages throughout the week that they miss us. We stop by every once in a while to let them know we haven't forgotten about them or anything-but rather that they live a little further away and for that reason the Sisters visit them. I don't want them thinking that I have forgotten about them! I love that family too much to do that. :) They are great. They look so good at church!
 
Speaking of church, Roberto Sanchez finally came to church! And on his own, pretty much, too! He works on Sundays right now at 10 o'clock and so he said he is going to try to start coming until 9:30 so he can partake of the sacrament and at least hear one talk. :) We were so caught off guard and excited to see him there! He is doing pretty well. We are working with him right now so that he'll stop drinking coffee and continue to pray specifically for that answer that this is the true church. We were excited to see him take that step and love the friendship we have made with him. We are going to get more members involved in his lessons, now that he has come to church, we were going to wait until them, because before when he was investigating, when the missionaries started to bring members to the lessons, his wife says he felt too pressured into being baptized and then stopped listening. This is definitely the furthest he has ever gotten without backing out, though, so we are excited for him and his family. I can see him being a member someday. If not soon, then later, but I know he'll understand it's importance for his family and will someday make the wonderful choice that will bring his family together. :) I love the family!
 
We worked quite a bit with the part-member families of this area this week. We met with each of them and it seems that each of them are excited and prepared now to receive us missionaries again. It must be the part-member time of year! :) We have already clicked really well with each of them and look forward to getting to know them even more and helping them make that decision to bring their families more together. I sure love watching the impact this gospel has on the family unit. This message is so necessary in our progression together as a family back towards our Heavenly Father.
 
Please keep Sister Corona and Sister Byon from my district in your prayers. They both received some unsettling news from home last week, and were a little thrown off this week. They have also been have some struggles in their area, as well, so it's been a little tough on them. We usually do a service project every week as a district, but because this week's opportunity has been postponed, I suggested we serve our own district members this week and spend a couple hours together going ham in our finding efforts to support them and help them out. Everyone is in agreeance, so we're going for it! :) I feel it is going to be a great opportunity to not only show them that they are supported, but also find more people for them to teach and help unto Christ. They are both very powerful sisters! They are feelings better now, and are ready for a good week ahead. I look forward to the district finding event-updates on that next week! :)
 
I sure love working hard out here! I know I'm not a perfect missionary, but I know that I am continually trying my best to be more like our Savior. Just because we cannot be perfect in this life doesn't mean we shouldn't try. We are all sons and daughter of a living god who loves each of us dearly and wants the best for us. Each time we stumble and fall, He and our Savior Jesus Christ are there to support us and lift us back up so that we can keep going and continually strive to make it back to our Heavenly Father's presence again. I love the happiness this gospel and message brings. I know that although my imperfections may make me weak, I find strength is accepting the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. He is there for us. We are never alone, and we are always able to be fixed. We just have to allow Him to fix us. :) I know this to be true. It has played an extremely big role in not only my mission, but my whole life. I am so grateful for all Jesus Christ did for us so that we can make it back to our loving Heavenly Father. I love this gospel, I know it to be true, and I love being a missionary. There's nothing greater!
 
The weather is starting to cool down in the evenings and early morning, so that's nice! :) Can't wait for the day it gets cold enough to break out the sweater vests again. ;) I hope you are all doing well and I don't bore you too bad! Please keep me updated on life! I finally squeezed some time in to respond to people this week with only a few more to respond to, so keep an eye out in the mail if you've been waiting. ;) Love you all so much and hope you are safe! Look forward to hearing back. Keep striving forward!
 
-Elder Gallego
 
"Our destiny is not determined by the number of times we stumble, but by the number of times we stand up, dust ourselves off, and strive forward." President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

10/14/13

Hola familia!
 
This week was quite the week. As explained in my subject, it was a pretty up and down week. For starters, sorry for not writing much last week! I was overloaded and couldn't make enough time to squeeze a better email out, but I hope you can forgive me! ;) I pretty much already briefed my thoughts of General Conference last week.
 
I loved each of President Uchtdorf's talks. Especially the one he gave at the Priesthood Session. It was so good! I love how he always seems to make a one-liner in his talk that I am sure explodes into just about a million different memes on Facebook. haha He is such a great speaker, and I love how applicable his talks are to each and every one of us. I also really enjoyed Elder Holland's talk! His was so genuine, unique, and special. It made me think back to Santa Ana 5 days when I was able to spend time with my buddy Nacho. Although he has down syndrome, that doesn't stop him from blessing the lives of those around him, and sharing that special spirit he carries with all those he meets. He is such a great example to me and is an angel in my eyes. I absolutely love how Elder Holland shared that we must be kind and not judgemental to those with physical or mental disabilities. "Hope is never lost", and "broken minds may be healed just like broken bones can be healed." There were many other parts of Conference that stood out to me, and I hope you all had the chance to learn something that will stick with you throughout life.
 
Last week was one of the fastest weeks ever, and this week was one of the longest weeks ever haha. We all decided by the end of the week that we felt like we are three weeks into this transfer already....but that's not the case ha. There were just alot of trying times in the district, but I absolutely love this district, because we stuck together and all helped eachother out. Please keep our new district member, Sister Davis, in your prayers. She suffers from Chrone's Disease, so she is ulcerated from her esophagus all the way down through her intestines. It is really hard on her, and they has had medical difficulties with it. This week, the pharmacy didn't fill her prescription fast enough, and so she was out of pain medications, which is pretty much all they can do for her. On top of that, she received word from her family through Sister Bowen that her best friend was hit by a car while riding his bike in the Arcadia mission and passed away. It has been really hard watching her go through this, and yesterday after I gave her a blessing, she broke down. It stinks that I can't be the one to hug her and talk to her about it all, but I know that her companions are perfect for her right now. Please keep her in your prayers that she will feel comforted and relieved during this hard time for her. She is doing better now, but I am sure she can always use the prayers.
 
Sadly, we had to say goodbye to the Morales family this week, which was also very hard, because we have grown so close to them. The day of their baptism, they were kicked out of their apartment in our area and moved to an apartment in the west sisters area, so we let the sisters take over and continue teaching them. They showed up late to church yesterday, so they were not able to be confirmed still! They said they will be sure to be on time for now, though, so that they can finally complete the baptism and have the wonderful constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. We had a great last lesson with all of them and the sisters, too. We had a pass of lesson, and at the end, we sang a neat rendition of Nearer, My God, to Thee. It was very powerful and really brought the Spirit to their home. The family that is living with them have been starting to read the Book of Mormon, and have shown more interest in learning more, so I am excited to hear how that goes from the sisters. :) The Morales family is just SO great and and loving and we were so sad to say goodbye, and so were they, but they like the sisters, as well, and I know they will still love it and we will see them at church on Sundays! :)
 
One of the highlights of the week (for the ups) is that I finally started writing in my journal again! :) SO although it is still hard to remember all that happened each day, I am doing better at recording it all so I don't end up forgetting all the great memories I have had out here! This week was all around still a great week! Although I shared a few of the downs this week, there were still plenty of ups that kept us happy and focused for the work! We made tamales this week with the Sanchezes, and it was a blast! I was the only one that knew how to do it, so I was helping teach, and mine were the good ones is what Hna Sanchez said. ;) They're so great!
 
This week was a great week! I wouldn't have had it any other way. We are all still growing and being strengthened in our knowledge that Jesus Christ suffered all so that we can make it through our trials and not be alone. Whenever we feel like we are lost and not alone, it's not true. It is a trick that Satan uses to bring us down. As we trust in God and exercise our faith that Jesus Christ really did go through all he did to be there for us, that is when we can feel our burdens become "light". I am so grateful for this gospel in my life. I shared my testimony yesterday in church and I choked up sharing our family's conversion story. It was embarrassing, but the Spirit was just so strong yesterday for me! I have only done that like twice in my life, so it was weird, but I felt good. :) I sure love this gospel and the blessings it brings; especially to the families. I hope you are doing well and that this email didn't bore you too much. ;) Love you so much and I love hearing from you all! Take care and remember to "always look up!" :)
 
-Elder Gallego
 
"Above all, never lose faith in your Father in Heaven, who loves you more than you can comprehend." Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

10/7/13





Hola familia!
 
This week was amazing! We worked super hard in teaching to the needs of our investigators and had a great time doing so! I feel a love for each and every one of the people we are teaching and I love that I have this chance to help them work towards such powerful AND attainable goals. I love these people I serve more and more every day, and I am blessed to be a part of that as I work on acheiving those Christlike attributes. I love the mission!
 
So, as the transfer came to a close I became more and more certain that I was going to stay in the same spot, and sure enough...I'm staying in Anaheim once again! :) What's even better is that the whole district is, too! YAY! We are all going to stick together for at least one more transfer and I am so happy! I love this district, and it has been a blast being their leader and learning from them. I am SO happy! We are going to be gaining one more district member and are going to have another great transfer together. :)
 
Unfortunately, today has been crazy, and I got a LOT of emails because of last week's email being lame, so I won't be able to write much today about this week and conference, but I thought I'd at least let you know about the changes...that are non-existant for me haha. I will let you know more about this week and my thoughts on the AMAZING General Conference next week. I absolutely LOVED all of President Uchtorf's talk and the genuineness of all the apostles and the prophet's talks. I love General Conference and will share more next week! :) Love you all so much and thank you for the support! I hope all is well, and I look forward to hearing back. :) Take care!
 
-Elder Gallego
 
"First, doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith." President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
 
P.S. Here's a quick fun pic of me hacking at a branch with a hatchet during service at our Ward Mission Leader's house this week...I was SO soar later on haha Also, Sister Corona and Sister Byon made us cool inside joke parting gifts for the transfer...it was much appreciated even though we're staying! :) Love this district!

9/30/13




Hola familia!
 
What a week! We did not stop for a breath this week as we ran from one service project to the next while at the same time teaching our investigators and preparing the Morales family for their baptism. It's been quite the stress load, but we have enjoyed it! :) We stopped for a second yesterday once it was all over, looked back over the week, and talked about how grateful we were to be so busy. Time flies by so fast as we continue to have fun working our tails off. I have enjoyed this time with Elder Thorne, and I sure hope it doesn't end this week! :|
 
This week marks the final week of the transfer, already! It's insane to even think about. No transfer in my mission so far has felt like this one, and I know it is because we have been working harder than we ever have and have been enjoying the work more than ever. We love this area, this ward, these people, this work! We are overwhelmed with how much there is to do just in this week alone, but we are SO ready for it! Bring it-we say. :) I look forward to finishing off this week strong and helping those around us come unto Christ.
 
Although I can't completely remember all that happened this week, I did take some notes to try to better keep a hold of my lacking memory! We started off the week by taking an adventure to Downtown Disney as a district, and we very much enjoyed it. This district is so fun, and I sure hope that we don't get split up! I think I am going to beg President to keep us all together. We all want it! ;) Of course it's what the Lord wants, but I am confident that the Lord is pleased by the work seen and the unity felt in this district right now. It's been such a great transfer! Anaheim 11 is going up! :) Such a great area. But anyways, we strolled around, took fun pictures and had a great break/prep for the week to come (this past week), and it was a great opportunity to enjoy ourselves. :)
 
That wasn't the only time we saw each other as a district, though, that's for sure! We went from service project to service project together, along with our final district meeting and lunch together this transfer, as well. Plus, the members like to feed us all together. :) We have focused on trying to have at least one service project together each week, and it just so happened that we were privileged to do even more this week! :) We helped a couple elderly members clean their yard a couple times, helped people move, and my ultimate favorite of the week (although they were all great, of course) was translating for Parent-Teacher Conferences at a school in our district. It was a blast! The opportunity came to us through one of the teachers, who is a member. We basically came to help teachers communicate with the parents that only spoke Spanish! We went a couple days for a few hours each day, but it was worth it to help people get past that language barrier we sometimes confront. :) I had so much fun translating! It was kind of funny for me because I always tell people that I can speak Spanish and speak English, but I can NOT translate! That's because, usually, I am a terrible translator, but I can understand what is going on both way, I just can't speak and listen at the same time. Up until this week. We did lots of practices to prepare ourselves, and now I can do it. It was a lot of fun, and we even had a few opportunities to share the gospel in between as well. It was a great experience, I hope it comes around again, soon! :)
 
I had a pretty funny moment happen to me this Friday as we were on our way to visit a few people. For those of you that don't know, the weekends seem to be the party time, so it can be a little crazy sometimes with all the drinking and high-bass and accordion music you hear going on around the streets. Well this night in particular was more funny that it was scary. We went to go visit the Sanchez family (an investigator of ours) and her husband (not interested) was sitting on his couch drinking a big can of beer. As we went to shake hands, he took a big swig, and they shook my hand with his hand still drenched in beer. Don't know how, but somehow Elder Thorne avoided it! So, it was awkward as I was thinking to myself, "great, now I am going to smell like beer. This will be an interesting explanation." So I asked to wash my hands, returned from that, we had great lesson with his wife, Blanca, and we left. On our way to our next appt, there was a drunk guy in the street that looked WAY too happy to see us...we had never seen him before, so he MUST have been hallucinating that we were something else ha. He stopped us, said hello, and awkwardly shook our hands. As he left and we continued on, I noticed that once again, my hand was wet...took a sniff...yum, more beer. Again thinking back to my original thought, I did the best I could to wipe it off on a nearby plant before we entered the following inv house-in fear of them thinking the contrary of us. As we walked in, the man we had just met not too long ago that expressed to us that he wanted help to stop drinking set down his beer can, shook our hands, and yes, for the THIRD time, my hands were moistened with the delightful beer lotion that so many seemed to be using that night. It was a pretty hilarious moment for Elder Thorne and I. He didn't get one drop on him! Just me! For the rest of the night, he shook hands first haha. It was a great lesson nonetheless, and we look forward to teaching the Word of Wisdom a little bit more. ;)
 
To top of a great week full of fun and spiritual moments, we enjoyed watching the Morales family take those important steps into the waters of baptism yersteady. We were so happy for them! Yesterday had to have been the busies Sunday ever on my mission. We got a text Satuday night/Sunday morning at 1 o'clock telling us that they were not going to be able to make it to church. Afraid this meant they were calling their baptism off for the 3rd time, we quickly did all we could to respond to them once we got up in the morning. Turns out, their landlord told them they had to move that morning, and for that reason, they were not going to be able to go to church. They had to move! Unfortunately they were not able to go to church because of their moving situation, but they packed up and right after church, our amazing Ward Mission Leader went with us to help move their stuff. Although many other things happened that day, and I don't have enough time to mention it all, the important part is that they didn't let anything get in the way of their baptism, and that evening Nohemi, Sandra, and Francisco finally took that step they have been preparing for for so long now, and they were baptized. We were SO happy to be there! And so honored to be the ones baptizing them. :) Nohemi asked that I baptize her, Sandra asked that Elder Parkinson return to baptize her, and Francisco asked Elder Thorne to baptize him. We were all connected! :) It was such a great experience, and I loved watching as this family that needed it so badly took this step together and will now be receiving the blessings they need in their lives. Such a great family, I sure love them!!!!
 
In all, this week was amazing. I love this work so much, and I am so sorry for turning this into a novel, but I had a little extra time this emailing period, so I thought I'd expound a little bit more since I am doing such a terrible job at responding to all of you right now. ;) Love you all so much regardless, and I hope you are all doing well! Love you so much and thank you again for the package! You're the best! :) Love you all and can't wait to hear back soon! Cuidense!
 
-Elder Gallego
 
“We are not here to play, to dream, to drift. We have hard work to do and heavy loads to lift. Shun not the struggle - face it. This is God’s gift.”
President David O. McKay

9/23/13

Hola familia!
 
....Can you guess how I am going to start my email?....You got it! THIS WEEK WAS SO BUSY! haha...As I have said many times recently, these weeks are just blending together and going too fast. We are working so hard here, and because we are so busy, the time is flying! It is so true that time flies when you are having fun! We had a blast this week as we continued to go out and contact people in need of this resored gospel.
 
Our main focus this week was/is contacting and finding through former investigators. We haven't had too much success with that yet, but we haven't had much of a chance to really put it into effect just yet, so we are looking forward to the success stories that should be coming from that. I love this area so much and HOPE that I don't get transferred this next transfer. We are seeing so many people take the steps to conversion, and I would hate to leave halfway through it. :( This week during weekly planning, we wrote out a list of families that we are teaching, because there was a temple tour again, and we wanted them to be able to go and see it, and we realized that we are teaching 17 FAMILIES right now! It's incredible how much the Lord's work is hastening right now here in Anaheim. The whole district is on fire and we are all enjoying so much the happiness that comes from being truly converted to the work of the Lord. We make such an attempt to teach families because this gospel is so important for the family and brings so many blessings! I love finding families and getting to know them and watching them progress together! There is no greater feeling than watching a whole family's life turn around through this wonderful message. I am so grateful that my family was blessed by this message and that now we are a family that can be together for eternity! God sure loves each and every one of us for giving us that opportunity.
 
The familiy we are focusing a lot with right now is the Morales family. The same ones I told you about last week! They are doing so well! They are reading, praying, going to church, and even came to a temple tour this week! It is so great to watch them take these steps together. Their baptism will be this Sunday, so please keep them in your prayers that all continues to go through and they follow through with the plans and goals they have set. They are a little nervous-as usual-but, we know they are ready, and they really need the blesssings that come from being in the Lord's true church. I am so happy for them and the mother, Nohemi, has asked me to baptize her. I feel honored. :) Sandra, one of the daughters, asked that Elder Parkinson baptize her, so we will end up together in white again haha and then Francisco, the son, has asked that Hno Timoteo Sanchez baptism him...Kevin's dad! So it is going to be great! We are really looking forward to it, they have been working on it for quite some time now. I am so happy for them!
 
The temple trip went really well for everyone. The west sisters also had a part-member family come, and because they were late, we stayed behind so I could help out give the tour to them because the main tour had already finished. Luckily, I have given the tour before and knew what to do. That was forever ago! It was a lot of fun doing it again, though! The family they are helping is so ready to be baptized! They go to church and everything as well. It was such a great experience, because the couple are working on getting married, but the husband has to finalize his divorce in Guatemala before they can get married here, and he is doing all he can to get it figured out so that his wife can get baptized and then they can get married. It was so perfect, and I know that it was no coincidence that they came late, because RIGHT as we got to the front of the temple as part of the stops, a newly-sealed family of 6 walked out of the temple all dressed in right and just beaming with happiness. It was SO perfect and the feeling was so strong. It was perfect for this investigating family. I was so glad to be a part of that!
 
In all, this week was amazing. Very busy, as usual, and again, I am sorry that I am terrible at responding to letters right now, but this leadership position sure is demanding! And I love it. :) I have never been so busy in my mission, and for that reason, I have never been so happy. I hope all is well with each of you and I love you all so much! Please be safe and careful in all your traveling, Mom and Dad, and don't forget to send pics! :) Love you and miss you all so much, and take care!
 
-Elder Gallego