Wednesday, September 10, 2014

7/22/14

Hola familia!

I am sending this Wednesday because we stopped using the computers halfway through and the draft didn't transfer to my iPad, so I got permission to finish it really quick on the computer!

The rest of this week (since I just emailed you on Wednesday) was SO busy! We found out Thursday that we were volunteered to help set up for the wedding of a couple in the ward in the gym. Of course, we don't have a problem with service, and it wouldn't be the first time we set up tables and chairs for an event, so we just went ahead with it. Well, it definitely ended up being more than what we expected. They needed helping setting up the decorations, too. So, we put our creative minds together and planned out how to use our limited supply of wedding decorations to our advantage. And guess who got put in charge of our little crew group of six missionaries because he's the only one with wedding experience? This guy. Thanks Alyssa! ;) Not a good idea. If there is anything that has gotten worse, it's my OCD, so of course I was running around all over the place. Ha In the end, though, it turned out really well and everyone at the wedding was saying that they loved it and that they didn't even feel like they were in a gym. I wish we could have had more lights for the dance floor, but it worked out—although the pictures don't do it justice. Not bad for a 24 hour notice. To add to it, when we got to the wedding, they hadn't planned the schedule. It was obvious because right after the ceremony that was kind of awkward, they stepped back to the dance floor (not even the center) and started
their "first dance" with all the lights on. Ha Even more awkward. Plus, the DJ wasn't ready and the groom was tripping all over her dress because she hadn't tied up her dress yet. Ha We got past it though and they asked me to put together a schedule, too. I felt like the ultimate wedding planner, and just as they got the program done and moved on to just the typical dancing of the night, it was time to go. We had a blast doing it, although it was a lot of stress and whatnot.

During that all, one of the best experiences of my mission happened. We had to finish up Thursday afternoon before we had to get to lessons, but we needed more material, because they didn't have anything but white tulle. So we remembered that the Relief Society closet was open and decided to take a really quick 2-minute break to go raid the closet for more wedding decorations. It was SO funny! We all went running in at the same time. And although it was definitely a had-to-be-there moment, if you can imagine 4 elders and 2 sisters jammed in a closet ravaging through everything at the speed of light, maybe you can join me in my laughter. We were cracking up so much as everything was flying everywhere and we walked back into the gym with bags of stuff as the groom just stared at us with a where-in-the-world-did-all-that-come-from look on his face. It was priceless. We heard his bride ask him later where it all came from and he was just like, "I have no idea." It was great. All the wedding attendants told us that we needed to be wedding planners. Ya, no. That was good enough for me! ha

The investigators I talked about on Wednesday are still doing well. Juan finally got to come to church and he loved it! It was perfect, because the final speaker talked about how we need to really practice what we preach and he told us before that that is what he was looking for. He is SO awesome! He loved church, and it was probably my favorite talk from the whole mission! She did a great job and the spirit was super strong. He is totally set for his baptism on Tuesday! :)

We finally found Ramon (the smoker) again, and he actually took my advice and is down to 10 cigarettes a day instead of 20. You can see a complete change in his countenance! We were so excited to see him. Although he is going to Catholic Church weekly because he thought church was too long for him, he is progressing and we will still check in with him. He said he plans on completely stopping, getting a job, buying new clothes and everything. He looks motivated and we are so happy for him. You can tell it's genuine. So proud of him! He's not interested in the message right now, but when his mind is cleared up in the future, I know he will be. :) Please pray for him!

Along with regular teaching appointments throughout the week, we continue to see miracles, and as an added bonus, we've been cooks, too! :) We made s'mores as a district for P-Day activity and then we got to help a part-member family make tamales last night! The s'mores were delicious and it was hiliarous making them. I'm glad I have so many good memories finishing off with this district. We spend so much time together...we're basically family. The family was blown away that I knew what I was doing with the tamales. ha It cracks me up when people don't believe that I am Hispanic. I have really learned to harness my roots out here! Plus, I have made MANY tamales. Before, during, and I'm sure after my mission, too. I love tamales! It's my last dinner with them tonight, so they wanted to make it special. :)

I sure do love this work. I have been studying the Atonement lately and the importance of the understanding of justice and mercy. As I have gone throughout my mission, I have come to notice that we really need to help each other understand the need for the Atonement. Just like the Fall of Adam and Eve was necessary for us to progress in life, so is the Atonement necessary for us to return to our Heavenly Father again. It is such a blessing to really come to internalize it. Justice had to come about as a result of the Fall, and as the Savior of us all, Jesus Christ satisfied those demands of justice and provides the mercy necessary to cleanse us of our sins. However, we are not just saved by mercy alone. What Christ did for us opened the path back to God. Now our purpose in life is to harness that mercy and really apply it to our lives. We need to LIVE the gospel. Not just believe it. If we truly love Jesus Christ and God, we will not let what he sacrificed for us become irrelevant. We will take it and follow his example. Have faith—believe AND act. Repent. Be baptized to enter into that path. Receive the gift of the Holy Ghost to help us along the way. And finally, endure to the end. Faith is not a weekly thing we participate in only on Sundays. It is a daily communion with God. It is scripture study, prayer, and really living what we have been taught. Not one of us is perfect in this journey we are taking back to God, but we can use the power of the Atonement to cleanse us and lead us through our daily trials that sometimes seem impossible to overcome. I have experienced those times, and I will continue to experience them. But just as I have been taught and shared before, it wasn't easy for Jesus Christ-why should it be easy for us? I know this is the truth, and from personal experience I know the power this gospel has. It has molded me to be what I am destined to be. I love you all and I appreciate all your love and support. I will talk to you once more next week. Until then, please work on internalizing the power of the Atonement—just as I am. We can do it-let's work together. :) Love you!

-Elder Gallego

"It is my testimony that many of the deepest regrets of tomorrow can be prevented by following the Savior today. If we have sinned or made mistakes—if we have made choices that we now regret—there is the precious gift of Christ's Atonement, through which we can be forgiven. We cannot go back in time and change the past, but we can repent." President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

P.S. Busy weekend = lots of pictures coming your way! :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

7/16/14

Hola familia!

This week was a good week, but this email will be short because not
TOO much happened. It was a great spiritual week for me, and I have
really been focusing on building up spiritually. It happened to be a
perfect week for that because we got to go to the temple twice! :)
Along with that, there were a few things that happened this week that
really could have thrown me down, but for some reason I just felt so
comforted like all would work out. This week was also full of tender
mercies. I think I've finally learned to look on the bright side. :)

We got to go to the temple on Saturday, and for the first time, I did
baptisms. :) It was Graciela's first trip to the temple, and President
Taggart allows us to go with new members even though it's not their
endowment. It was a great experience. I confirmed and baptized at
least 20 people. ;) The spirit is always so strong in the temple. It
was a nice feeling to be a part of helping more sounds come unto
Christ. As we went to the temple today, the same feeling of peace and
happiness was felt. I feel like I have a stronger testimony of the
temple since the last time I went, so it means more to me. It sure is
a blessing to have the opportunity to receive what we do though the
temples—such as having a family that lasts forever and providing that
opportunity to those who haven't had it. If one can truly come to
understand the meaning of the temple—not so much the "what's" or
"how's" of the temple—but ultimately the "why's", it all just comes
together and makes sense. After that understanding comes more of a
sense of "why wouldn't I go to the temple." And that is what I have
seen. The changes I can see in people's lives is so evident, I could
never deny the simplicity and divinity of having the blessings of the
temples on earth. I hope that all who have the opportunity to go take
advantage of it.

I received a message from Roberto this week that was truly a tender
mercy. He told me of how he has, since I've left, received the
Melchizedek Priesthood, participated in baptisms for the dead, and
even given his first two priesthood blessings. He is so solid, and I
just love hearing about how he is truly living the gospel. I look
forward to coming back for their temple sealing in November. :)

Rosa gave us a scare this week. She told us she doesn't want to go to
church anymore, and that she will not. :/ But then she went on to
explain... When she was in Mexico, she was a Psychologist and she had
to help quite a few young people overcome being molested at church
camps. No one would believe them so from that moment on she distanced
herself from organized religion, because she had so much pain and
hatred built up against the religious leaders who were involved. It
wasn't until we came by that it was the first time she had gone to
church. She said that although she loves the environment, it reminds
her of those experiences and that she needs to figure that out before
she can come back. It is something that has been really hard on her...
However, a few of the ward members came with us this week to work on
her yard and while we were there, our ward mission leader talked to
her. We aren't exactly sure what was said, but she showed up out of
nowhere on Sunday! We were just planning on Vlad showing  up, but then
she came in after him. It was great! We were so happy to see them. I
just love them and she talked about wanting to meet you again, Mom. :)
She's awesome—and Vlad was hanging with us and working near us to talk
to us during service. He keeps saying that he has already seen a
difference and he loves it. We are so grateful to be helping them!

Now a quick update on the other investigators. Juan (the ex-agnostic)
is SO set. We talked to him about the temples and he just soaked it
all in like it was nothing. He has been prepared, for sure. He finally
got Sundays off, so he is coming this Sunday! :) Ramon (the smoker)
said that he wants to keep smoking and doesn't want us coming over
anymore. We think he just relapsed, so we are going to see if we can
help him understand it doesn't have to be the end. So please pray for
him as well! More updates next week—all out of time again! :/

Well, I hope you are all doing well! The work out here is great! So
much to do, I am so glad that we have another Elder Gallego and Elder
Sewell to help out. :) Love you so much! CuĂ­dense!

-Elder Gallego

"I think there is no place in the world where I feel closer to The
Lord than in one of his holy temples." President Thomas S. Monson

P.S. Check out the cool knot I tied! :)
P.P.S. Our district is GQ.
P.P.P.S. Elder Andersen came back!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

7/7/14


Hola familia!

What a blessing it is to live in this country! Another thing I have developed out here is a sense of patriotism. I'm sure it's because of the humbling experience of being among some people that aren't the most "well-off" and hearing about stories from other countries. Not to mention the fact that this land was prepared by God to be a land of religious freedom. It is such a blessing. Although freedom does still come at a cost, it's one of the greatest blessings given us from God to defend. I'm grateful to those who give their lives to protect it. We are blessed to be there, so we must first and forever remember the source of it all; what's printed on the back of every paper bill we have: "In God We Trust". America!

This week was a lot of fun! I have never been so patriotic. ha I even bought a USA futbol jersey! I'm pretty sure that's the first patriotic-print clothing I have I ever had. ha It is pretty sweet! I got a good deal and it has my name and lucky number and all. Happy Birthday to me! ;) The fireworks here were INSANE! I will try to send some videos I recorded. It was like we were in the middle of a battle. Santa Ana is crazy. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE was lighting things off...and of course they weren't the legal kind. What else is new here. ha They were flying everywhere! It was so much fun to look in every direction and just see them anywhere! It is definitely blows my experience last year out of the water. The protecting angels were busy for sure. Especially for the elders who apparently biked through the roughest area and bottle rockets were flying all around them as they rode. haha We're all safe, though!

Rosa and Vladimir are great! They came to church yesterday together and loved it once again. They already fit in so well, and it is obvious that God has been preparing them for a long time. We haven't been able to meet with Vladimir since that first night we met him, but on Sunday he told me that he can already see a difference. He says that even since that one night he feels different and things are working out in his life. They are both so great and I love them. :) Luckily, they love us, too :). The whole ward wants to help out with the yard and painting, so there is going to be a big ward service project at their house this week. We're excited for that! :) They are both reading and praying, too. They are so solid, and are truly seeking for the truth. We're very excited to keep working with them.

SO, last week, I wasn't able to even get in all the info, so another update is Juan Hernandez. The elders met with him a couple weeks before I showed up. They knocked into him and he let them in, for the first time, he says. He said he had talked with missionaries before, but it was more to bash with them and prove them wrong, because he was Agnostic. He would always look for the loophole in what they had to say. A few months ago, however, he was going through a really hard time and really wanted to know if, indeed, there was a God, because the God he knew was a tyrannous God that just always wanted to inflict pain on everyone. He understood him to be angry all the time and that he had already mapped out our destiny, so we have no choice, we are just going to heaven and hell so it doesn't really matter what we do. He said he just doesn't understand how a God could be that way. It didn't seem just and fair to him. Well, he figured things out in his life and decided that he was going to put it to the test, but that he didn't want to do it in time of need. He wanted to do it when everything was alright so it didn't seem like he was only doing it because he needed him. He wanted to be on good terms with him. He prayed one day and poured out his heart and the next day the missionaries showed up at his door.

Since that day, he genuinely has put things to the test. I came in right after the lesson of the Plan of Salvation and it blew his mind how just and fair God really is. From there, he has even grown more! He prayed about it all and has been reading the Book of Mormon like crazy and it has completely changed his perception on life and God. He can feel a relationship building between him and God. And he says it's not so much that he is worried about where he ends up, as much as he wanted to be on "good terms" with him and once he found out he really is there to really get to know him and follow what he wants him to do. We have been able to answer so many of his doubts and we taught him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how that is what God wants us to do in our lives. He told us to tell him about baptism and what he needs to do to be baptized. Yes, HE asked US about baptism. ha When we explained it all to him, he told us he wants to be baptized as soon as possible. O.O It was so cool! He said that he is sure this is the right path for him, and now he wants to do it! He just needs to come to church and he's set! He talked to his boss Saturday about getting Sundays off so he can go, and he will be telling us about how that goes Tuesday. He said nothing can change his mind. He said that the fact that he has come from almost Atheist and arguing with everyone about religion and always being angry to believing in God, feeling his love, learning of who he truly is-a loving Father in Heaven that wants the best for us-and being positive to the point that all of his friends are telling him "whatever you're doing, keep doing it" proves to him it is true. He is so solid and as soon as he comes to church twice and we finish teaching him, he will be baptized. We're so proud of him. The truth can not be denied if you truly put it to the test. He said, "If you don't feel it's right, it's because you haven't given it a chance." He's solid, and we are excited for him!

Please continue to keep them all in your prayers. We are teaching another woman named Pilar, who is the cousin of a reactivating member who is progressing really well, but once more happens with her, I will explain more...which will probably be next week. :)

I love you all very much! Thank you for all the birthday wishes. I love you very much and I am grateful for the support and love from you all. I can't wait to see you again. Wrapping up a mission is SO hard! I try not to think about it, but it doesn't help that everyone asks "how long have you been on your mission"-to which the rest of the conversation is inevitable! :/ This last week I had a dream about coming home EVERY SINGLE NIGHT! ha Ugh...I love you all very much and am very excited, but I sure am going to miss this. Please pray I can finish strong. Don't recommend going home to anyone! ha I love the mission and will continue to work hard until the end-as I have said many times. ha I appreciate very much the support and love from home, though. You are all so special, and I hope you are doing well! Take care and see you soon. :)

-Elder Gallego

"And now I desire that this inequality should be no more in this land, especially among this my people; but I desire that this land be a land of liberty, and every man may enjoy his rights and privileges alike, so long as the Lord sees fit that we may live and inherit the land..." the Prophet Mosiah of the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 29:32)

6/30/14

Hola familia!

This week was incredible! I was praying so hard for the chance to find prepared people so I didn't have to worry about being distracted and bored at the end of my mission, and wow. Heavenly Father was definitely listening. I will be busy the rest of my mission, for sure! Well, not that I already wasn't going to be, but this just secured our plans being filled rather than roaming the streets for people to teach. This surely is God's work, I am sure of it.

It was a busy week aside from the amazing guidance we received. For starters, the Bowens left. :( The Taggarts are wonderful people and they are exactly right to fill in for the Bowens, but they will be greatly missed. Sure love them and I look forward to seeing them again, soon! :) Before they left, a small group of 8 was organized to sing a goodbye song for them and a welcome song for the Taggarts. I was one of the "chosen" and we had to throw something quick together in 2 days. It worked out, though, because those that were selected all had musical background, so we did a nice rendition of "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go". The Spirit was felt super strong, and it was heart-wrenching to realize it was the end of their run, but at the same time, it was comforting to know that God selected such a special couple that we were able to welcome.

This week was FULL of music! Along with singing to the Bowens and Taggarts, there is a Sister in the district who is setting up a portfolio to apply to the BYU music program because she is finishing her mission soon, too. Well, the other two companionships (including the sisters) in the district are on bike, so we are the transportation. I felt like a "soccer mom" when I was the van driver in Anaheim, but this is a whole new level! We were together in the van driving all over the place every day this week. It was a miracle we were even able to get out and really work. So we were helping her with that, as well as preparing a musical number for "Missionary Sunday" yesterday and teaching music classes on Thursday nights. The great thing is, this whole district has musical talent (besides one of the sisters...she's tone deaf ;)), so it's been a group effort and it's been a lot of fun.

Graciela was confirmed in Church yesterday, and my goodness, after getting to know her even more. She was SO prepared! She has such a strong testimony. After her confirmation, she bore her testimony and it was super powerful! She shared how she was introduced to the church after a member from the ward's father passed away and she saw how strong the whole family was through it. We realized that she wanted that peace during trials and she wanted to be closer to that family. The day of the funeral in the church, she asked the family to invite her back for the church services, and she hasn't missed a Sunday since. She also reads and prays every day and even asks us for reading assignments whenever she sees us. She is super strong and in her baptism and confirmation, she felt the Spirit so strong. I couldn't believe she wasn't already a member. She acted and had a testimony just like any other-well, now she is! She's very powerful and will be a great member and missionary in sharing this gospel to those in need. This ward is very solid right now!

Yesterday was just a great day in general! Five of the people we are teaching were at church, so we were running all over the place trying to keep up with them all. The members are great, though, and did an excellent job helping us out in supporting the investigators and helping them feel the true love of Christ. There is one man named Ramon Gahona that we met last week that really wants to quit smoking. He smokes a pack a day and can barely sit through a lesson with us without shaking and losing concentration because he wants to smoke so bad. It's intense how strong his addiction is. Well, a member that went with us to a lesson with him picked him up and brought him to church. They showed up a little early because we had to practice our song, and we told him we would sit with him in a second after we practiced the song. Well, in the middle of the practice, he left to smoke. He came back and sat down and in the middle of sacrament meeting, he got up and left again. We followed him out and he was smoking in the parking lot. Well....as I get closer to the end of my mission, I have become a lot more direct...still loving, but direct. I grabbed the cigarette from his hand, stomped it out, put my arm around him and told him I love him and want him to stop smoking. We found where he had left the other cigarette from earlier and walked him to the trashcan to throw away the buds. We walked around a little in the parking lot to air out and make a plan with him on how he was going to stop smoking, but, unfortunately, the sacrament room did still smell like smoke... He is still welcome and our brother. The sad thing was, I, too, smelled like smoke. :/ It was awkward...and gave me a bad headache. It made me so stressed out, but one of the members gave me some lotion...well, actually a lot of it, because soap wouldn't make it go away! It's was stressful, but by the end of the meetings, I smelled like a girl...better than smoke! ha He made it 2 hours without smoking! We were so proud of him. :) He had to leave the third hour, but that was a great start. He is going to decrease by 5 cigarettes a day each week. He's going to do it! Stressful situation, but worth it to get him thinking. He said it's exactly what he needed. We have faith it will work!

I would love to tell you about all the people we came in contact with this week, but unfortunately, as you know, time won't allow it. I wanted to share with you one of the most remarkable experiences I have had my whole mission, though. Just for quick foreshadowing, we met this woman Saturday night and there is already so much to tell you, I don't even know where to start. But I'll start with how we met her. Rosa. Let's just say that we were NOT supposed to meet her. We had a set lesson/dinner that we had been planning on for the whole week that was cancelled, and then we had a solid back-up, and they, too, cancelled. Well, we were planning on going to another area, but then Elder Sorensen brought up someone we had been trying to find for quite some time. We went to visit them, and they weren't home either. So, reluctant to just result to knocking doors, we headed back to the car to go visit a member. We were lost, so we kind of took the wrong way...at least that's what we thought. It was no coincidence. Judging by our plans, we weren't supposed to meet her, but yet we were.

We were walking down the street Saturday and we saw her weeding and we thought we should ask her if we could help. She really didn't want us to because we dressed up all nice, but we convinced her eventually. :) She looked at us for a moment, paused, and asked, "you're Mormons." We responded a little unsure of where this was headed (for those who have been in this situation, that question can either be followed by something great, or something bad ha). She explained that she loves Mormons! She shared that she's had tons of great experiences with Mormons! She took a trip by herself to Utah for a Temple Square Tour. She has a Mormon friend that invited her to a wedding. And has even gone on a mini trek in memory of the pioneers. We. Were. Shocked. After talking with her a little more and letting her know that we are willing to come over and help her with her yard and painting the house and finishing her table, and on top of it all, we had an amazing message that will bring her much peace, joy, and comfort, she began to cry. Just minutes before we arrived, she was working along in her garden and just felt the weight of the world on her shoulders. She felt so alone and has so much work to do and was just so overwhelmed, and so she prayed to God to have him show her that he really was there and listening to her. She asked him to give her a sign of the path she needs to take and something that will bring her peace, joy, and comfort. She said that I shared the exact same words that she shared in her prayer. Her prayers were answered. So were mine.

I had been praying for an opportunity to have someone to share the gospel with that will actually be willing to progress. Someone who has been prepared. And secretly, I have always wanted an experience like that. Where we arrive just after a prayer. It was an amazing experience and builds my faith even more that God truly does answer prayers!

As time has gone on, this has been more and more she shared that she has never gotten involved because she thought it was exclusive and she had to be invited in...well we put a quick stop to that understanding! We invited her to come to church and she was hesitant at first because the Mexico game was the same time haha, but she committed to come because she said that she knows we were the sign from God. She is soo awesome and super nice and humble! Later she told us after we left she felt so good she couldn't even sleep. She showed up to church yesterday and absolutely loved it-especially the musical number that all us missionaries and the ward missionaries sang. The EFY Medley "As Sisters in Zion/We'll Bring the World His Truth." She is so excited to go back! Now, on top of it all, she has a son who is just as amazing! (Sorry this is another long one :/)

His name is Vladimir, and we met him last night. He was super open and just as inviting, and he shared with us that he hasn't talked to people about religion in a LONG time. His mom was so surprised he was talking to us, too. We just felt like they were family. We met her two days ago and met him last night, and we are all already super close. They love us and we love them! She shared with us that we felt familiar to her. Like she knew us before. I truly believe that we were friends before this life and we were meant to meet. Just when we both needed it. Well, the conversation got to what we are supposed to do on Sundays, and it was like having a member with us because we had just talked about the Sabbath Day for gospel principles at church and Rosa helped us out. It was incredible. And get this, by the end of the lesson, he had called Disneyland when he went inside to grab something and got all his Sundays off from now on. Once again. We. Were. Shocked. This family is amazing and it has been such a blessing to see the true intentions they have. They committed themselves to be baptized the 27th of July. My last Sunday here and her birthday. :)

I'm blown away by this miracle this week, and I am just 100% positive that this work is true. Like I already said, we weren't supposed to meet them, but yet we were. They are such a strong testimony to me that God is preparing people all over for this message. We just need to open our mouths and speak. This mission is amazing, and I wouldn't trade all the amazing experiences for anything. I have even more I want to tell you about, but I should end it here since this is ridiculously long. Sorry, for those who actually still read these. ;) Love you all so much, and I hope you enjoy your vacation! Take care!

-Elder Gallego

P.S. There was a riot here last week when Mexico won. haha Kept us from going home until 10:15. The World Cup sure is a damper on missionary work. ;) But it sure is great! ha

P.P.S. District Meeting was great this week-Elder Lindsay does an excellent job, and he motivated us to talk to everyone. We feel that played a huge part in meeting Rosa. This is his quote:

"When unsure whether you have received a spiritual prompting, think about this. Either it IS a spiritual prompting, or you are showing God that you are willing to follow promptings. Is either one a bad thing? No. So don't be afraid to follow everything...you are called of God." Boss.

Monday, June 23, 2014

6/23/14


Hola familia!

What a fun-packed last couple weeks! There was literally no time to
email last week because of all that happened last P-Day. So, sorry for
that, but I will keep you updated.

For starters, I danced on Monday. O.O It was weird! But completely
legal. Here's the thing, the Bowens are leaving on the 26th to return
home...:(...sooooo, naturally, we had to throw a surprise party—well,
in this case, a great, big Lu'au! It was the first time in all of
their time here that the whole mission from all language programs was
together. It was a big deal! We're talking tiki torches, leis, hula
dancing, the whole shebang! The Polys even cooked a pig! (Check the
pics below!) it was awesome. So, there is this awesome sister in the
Samoan program named Sister Rowe, and she got a hold of the leaders of
all the programs and had us prepare something. And—this is where I
come in—we even put on a show. We did a Latin dance off, it was super
random...the music wasn't even really Hispanic, but it worked. I had
Elder Thorne (ah, my best pal!) video it, so I'll show you when I get
home. They said we may all be getting a DVD off it all, too. There was
everything from the Tongan Hakka—which is terribly invigorating in
real life—to President Bowen attempting to teach a mock ASL lesson to
Vietnamese dancing. It was so hilarious and fun! And Sister Rowe made
it all happen—she has major respect in my book, cause it was awesome!
Not only that, she organized a mission-wide scrapbook so we all got to
give them a note and pics and whatnot. Which brought me to the
realization—I didn't have ANY pics with President and Sister Bowen :(.
So, I definitely took advantage of the chance at the Lu'au (once
again, to the pics below), and Sister Bowen even let me give her a
hug! :) Shes just so great! It was a blast, and we all took lots of
pics, especially Elder Thorne and I haha...and we also got a picture
of all the people that served in the Anaheim district in the time I
was there...SO many! Ha The Lu'au was a complete success! Great way to
finish off with the Bowens...and...well...me...kind of...ha When they
got up at the end to share their thoughts, there wasn't a dry eye in
the room. It is so sad it's coming to an end, but they have served
very well and we will miss them very much.

Elder Weymouth, my buddy since the beginning went home, too, along
with a lot of others. The beginning of "the wave" leaving. So that was
a sad goodbye, but we will for sure be back together after the
mission, he's awesome!

Also this last Monday was transfers! Drum roll please............I'm
back to where I started! Ha Santa Ana 5 to die! It was hard leaving
Santa Ana 10 after only being there 3 months, but get this, one of the
members gave me her father's guitar from Guatemala! Under normal
circumstance, we can't have musical instruments, but I am just going
to give it to a member to take care of it until when I come back. So
cool. It needs to be restored, but I was so thrilled! She was a
wonderful lady—I just love Hna Garcia! It was hard, but I'm so glad I
am ending in a ward I already know.

I was released as a ZL :(, but I saw it coming because of my final
interview I had with a President Bowen (love him). I needed to renew
my temple recommend because we are going to be lucky enough to go to
the temple once more before I go and slipped in a "departing
interview" since the new mission president won't really know me. He
told me that he had one more assignment before I go home—to help out a
struggling missionary in my zone. So, when he told me that, I knew
that I was going to be released, but because of the situation we had
as ZLs, one of us had to be released and there were a couple that were
just called, so I guess it made the most sense. Oh well, but it's nice
to have time to go out and work a lot now! :) So much time I have
missed for...well just about a year and a half now that I have either
been with a leader or been a leader myself. Now that I don't have all
the meetings and errands to run, it's been nice getting back onto the
front lines again. Although I learned so much in the background, I
think this will be an excellent opportunity to finish off strong! I
can feel it!

So, that being said, I can see how my companion needs help and this
area is really struggling (although there was a baptism today! :)),
but I love him and I can tell we are going to have a good time. He is
just still very young, but I hope I can at least leave some of my
knowledge behind. ;) Meet Elder Sorensen! 6' 8" tall! That's right,
I'm back to the van once again! Back to being soccer mom. Haha It's
fun though, all the district bonding—now that everyone else in our
district is on bike, we're the transport! We've already had some good
times. Gotta keep making memories!

Ugh, I'm rambling on BAD...sorry, but there was just so much that
happened! So continuing on...

As far as things going on back home, congratulations Chandler for
finally getting out here! :) I'm so excited to hear all about your
crazy stories! Doesn't matter which coast you come from, both are full
of crazies! Ha You will be an excellent Elder, just remember the words
of President Hinckley's dad when he was in the mission field..."Forget
yourself and go to work!" Nothing better, that's for sure! You're
going to do great things!

Also, congrats to Matthew and Ashley on finally getting that baby out
of there! Any longer and she would have walked out herself! Ha She's
adorable! Definitely has your cheeks, Ashley ha, but I can totally see
you in her, too, Matthew. She's looks like a beautiful little angel,
and I'm excited to see her soon. :)

Sorry I wasn't able to write about Father's Day, but that is why I
took a chance to post what I did on Facebook. I really am grateful for
you, Dad. It truly is a blessing to have you as a father and
protector. I sure do love you and love all the memories I have of you.
Although we don't have as many as we would want since I am a total
Momma's Boy, I look forward to all the plans we have together for when
I get home! :) Love you, and Happy Father's Day once again!

Well, now that I have just written a complete novel (sorry), just
wanted to end with thanks to all who have been supporting me
throughout my whole mission.......and that still even read these. Haha
As I go into my last transfer here, the time ticks away and the next
think I know, one more week has come and gone. It's going too fast!
It's funny because the closer I get to the end, the less and less
trunky I get! I just want to get out and work all the time and I have
even more of a desire to share my testimony, and I can feel the spirit
even stronger...it's just all coming together. I feel like the Curious
Case of Benjamin Button—my greenie fire is back! :) I've had time to
reflect on this all, and I am just so amazed at how far I have come.
Before, I would testify because I knew it's what I was supposed to do,
but now I can really feel it, and it feels really good. We had one
lesson this week that was just so heartfelt, that I choked up a little
explaining the blessings I have seen in my life and the life of our
family. I just marvel at the power of this gospel and Atonement and
the power to change. My heart aches to hear about the devastating loss
of the Baker family's son, but what a blessing it is that we can be
families forever. Although it may seem like a while to see our loved
ones again after this life, I know that this life is just "a blink of
an eye in the timelessness of eternity" and we will once again be
reunited with our loved ones, thanks to the merciful blessings that
come to us through the temple because of Jesus Christ's sacrifice. I
have changed immensely, and I am forever grateful for all I have
learned and continue to learn. Thank you for believing me and helping
me make it. I will keep going strong up until the very end, and I hope
you all do the same in whatever it is you are going through. Don't
ever give up! I sure love you and hope you're all safe and well. Have
a great week!

-Elder Gallego

"Remember, repentance is not punishment. It is the hope-filled path to
a more glorious future." Elder Richard G. Scott

6/9/14


Hola familia!

Whew! This week was ROUGH! But it's all good, I'm getting through it.
The area has kind of plateaued and we are still finding new people,
but for right now they aren't choosing to progress. It's a little
frustrating, but just like someone shared with me recently, we can't
change their own decisions. It's still only up to them. I've always
understood that, but I guess I just want to make sure that I really am
doing all I can. I know that as things wrap up here, Satan is going to
give his last ditch effort to make me doubt and regret, but I feel
that I have spent my whole mission preparing for this moment. He's not
going to win!

I spent a lot of time this week internally battling and focusing on
the negative things. He sure was fighting hard! But, ultimately, as I
look back, I see that there were many fun moments that happened to
keep me happy. Fear ends where faith begins. Faith has been my
absolute favorite thing to study lately. There is so much power in
faith. Understanding that we can't just say we have faith. We need to
show it. Faith is about knowing AND doing. God prepared me well the
last couple weeks to get me ready for this, and now I feel great. :)

There were good highlights this week. We had a lot of meetings this
week, but they were great. We had Mission Council with President and
Sister Bowen for the last time this week, and the spirit was super
strong. It opened my eyes to many more possibilities that I would like
to continue doing for my studies after my mission. It was my favorite
mission council yet. They have such a passive but powerful way of
teaching. We also had Stake Reports with the Stake President, and it
was different than usual. He took advantage of how old all of us are
(all zone leaders are dying next transfer ha) and talked to us about
being dedicated and committed. It was a great lesson, too. Very
inspiring and we all got down on our knees and committed ourselves to
keep going to the end. The Spirit was super strong and it really
helped me out to remain focused. Just like dad shared with me in that
email, this whole time there was beauty in the midst of destruction.
During my hard times, The Lord has always been there for me providing
opportunities to feel strength. Sure do love the blessings this gospel
brings.

We had a few good laughs this week, too. On Thursday, after we grabbed
some Panda for lunch/dinner since we wouldn't be back in for the rest
of the night and we were out and about, Elder Ramirez decided for the
first time (he says) he's ever done it, he refilled his drink and
brought it with him. Well, Elder Ramirez is a pretty clumsy guy....ha
As we were pulling out of the parking lot, he was putting his drink
back and the lid popped off and as he tried to stop it, he squeezed
the cup and root beer went shooting everywhere, but not on him...on
me. -_- It. Went. Everywhere. Ha All over the shifter, the cup
holders, the seats, the GPS, the steering wheel, my
pants...everywhere. Ha I got lucky, though! I wasn't wearing the pants
I just got. :) I wasn't even mad, I just laughed...SO hard. It was
hilarious, and he started freaking out ha. We didn't have napkins or
wipes or anything, so I just had to drive to the church stuck to the
steering wheel. I was laughing really hard because the way he acts
when we messes up is so funny. Ultimately, we spent the afternoon at
the Toyota dealership because it broke the plastic pieces in the
shifter ha. Good times.

And later that afternoon I got to go on our last exchanges with my
buddy of the mission, Elder Weymouth. He got called to Assistant in my
third transfer as district leader, and now that I'm zone leader, we
were able to go on exchanges, :). It was a lot of fun and we had a
good time teaching. He's great, and has truly been a great friend. He
dies in a week. :( I will miss him, but I'm definitely going to visit
him in Idaho.

I also had the wonderful opportunity to talk in church this week.
Obispo asked me to base my talk off the talk by Elder Neil L. Andersen
in the past conference about spiritual whirlwinds. I loved the
comparison he about the trees growing up in strong winds and how that
relates to the temptations of the adversary. I quoted the experience
that dad sent me and everyone said they liked it, especially that
part, so thanks, Dad! :)

I hope all goes well this week. Chandler, have a great time at the CCM
(Mexico MTC), and remember to work hard! I pray all goes well
welcoming Aria into the world. I look forward to seeing everyone
again. Love you all and hope you have a great week! Love you!

-Elder Gallego

6/2/14

Hola familia!

The last two weeks have been a roller coaster! (DejavĂș?) The week
before last was a pretty normal week full of work. We stayed busy and
had a lot of lessons and people to teach. However, this last week,
Elder Ramirez through out his back and we had to take a break for a
couple days because he could barely move. We had to move some
appointments, but on top of that, there are a few people who decided
to drop us. :( It's been an interesting week, and I slipped a little
into a rut again, but I pounded faith into my head this week and had a
phenomenal study about trusting in God. I know I just posted something
about faith on my Facebook (Faithbook haha, get it?), but I just love
learning about faith right now. Gospel Principles yesterday was even
about faith! It was a great eye-opening week.

Also, the reason why I didn't get an email to you last week is because
I spent all day at the...drum roll...Elotada! So much fun! Not the
same as last year, because there weren't as
many people, but it was still a lot of fun to see familiar faces
again. :) Didn't play volleyball the whole day this time, but I still
got torched! Haha Sure sign of the Elotada. Of course, the Elote was
bomb and I was loving it. Food!

Speaking of food, I finally went on exchanges with the Peruvian elder
here in my district. We spoke Spanish the whole exchange....I never
thought I'd be able to do that before my mission. 24 hours of just
Spanish. It was embarrassing how bad my English was after that ha. Now
what does that have to do with food? Well, we got permission from the
Assistants to visit the Peruvian Sanchez family from Anaheim!!! He got
to finally meet them at the Elotada and they told us to come eat with
them if we ever went on exchanges ha....SO I got to go home! It was
great. He was in heaven - he missed his Peruvian food so much. So did
I, so it was great to see my Peruvian family ha. SO good!

Patty is doing amazing. She is my favorite right now ha (is it wrong
to pick favorites?). She is progressing really well and we are working
with her right now to like going to church. She sent us a message
yesterday that she honestly loves everything else, but doesn't like
going to church right now. We feel she would like it better in
English. She speaks both perfectly, but speaks more English with us,
so we will see. Please pray for her. She is the most progressing right
now. Please continue to keep the rest in your prayers, though. It's
going, but we are in the process of finding again. We found a part
member family that seems to have a lot of potential. We'll see!

Cool quick story this week. The Sisters in Santa Ana got food
poisoning, so we went to give them a blessing. Come to find out later,
after the blessing, apparently one of the Sisters had a bad toe injury
from the Elotada that she only told her companion about. Well, in the
blessing, I said that she'd be healed from head the toe. It was the
first time I've ever used those words, and I actually noticed when I
said it because it was a stomach sicknesses. Well, since the blessing
she hasn't had a problem! Super cool. The Holy Spirit truly does
guide.

Now to finish off (symbolism that this is the last thing on my mind
right now ha), a lot have been asking when I am coming home. My plane
arrives at around 11am on July 29th. Weird. Thank you, Alyssa, for
pointing out it's next month. Haha Still seems like forever away.
Sweet! I've got time! Ha Love you all very much and hope you are well.
Take care!

-Elder Gallego

"Faith is not believing that God can, it's knowing that He will."