Monday, December 23, 2013


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


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 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


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 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.


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 :))