Monday, February 24, 2014

"Remember Him always, it is His plan after all.."

So pretty much done with my transfer. Where has the time gone!? Crazy how I just see time go from one pday to the next. Love every day of it!!

So it was my birfday week. Woot woot! What better way to spend it than finding people right?? We had 5 new investigators this week, and we put 7 people on date for baptism!! Life. Is. Good. The Lord is truly blessing us with our exact obedience. His Spirit truly guides us in where we should go and what we should say when we envelop ourselves in the work and constantly seek its guidance. Focused a lot on keeping the Lord involved in the work this week...after all, it is his :P

So we have this 9 yr old boy named Caleb. He had been going to church for the past 2 months and never saw missionaries. So we immediately put him on our baptismal sights. Haha we had the first visit, set up another appointment...then went back, asked him to be baptized, said yes, gave him a kit kat and called it a day. Haha kidding, but he was so ready, just no one bothered to take the step further. We are working with his less active mum and non-member pops now too!

Next is Justice...9 year old girl who had received lessons before but "her missionaries" left and she fell off. Well turns out her missionaries would just go over and play with her. Super sketch right? Anyway, we said we wanted her to have a goal ti be baptized. She agreed and will enter into that covenant the beginning of April. Funny story, she went to her friends and was like "Kaliyah!! I'm getting ba-batized!" It's a Utah thing -_- haha super funny!

Zach and Karen are next. Young couple who just moved to the area. Just had TWINS!? Just about the cutest things ever!! But they are learning about our family values and are super into it, so we will continue fading into the whole doctrine.

Jarett Sanchez. Idk if I mentioned him last week.. He found the church in jail and wants to get ba-baptized! Longer process but he's so ready. He literally does everything we tell him to do. Already read through the BoM. Has a testimony of it and JSmith, and of the healing process of the atonement. Super solid. Way happy for him. I really hope i'm still in the area to see his baptism.

Levi the man. Friend of a Recent Convert, Brenden. Happened to be in one of our lessons with Brenden's sister Felicity and was intrigued. Now he is taking the lessons at Brenden's and is super excited to learn more!

I met with the Guatemalans again! So she had us over for food again, and we asked the spanish branch for fellowship. Okay, literally half the branch showed up haha it was awesome!! She has friends that go with her to zumba that are members and she will be at church this sunday :))

Super excited for the work! Although it was a week of reflection. I felt I wasn't doing everything I could to involve the Lord with his work. I refelcted upon JSmith's words, "Sometimes the Lord brings us low, before He can raise us higher". I thought much about it and it was a very humbling moment. I am privileged to be able to hold my calling as a representative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I may not be the most knowledgeable, or the best teacher...but with the Lord's help in everything we do, we can be the best that we can be. "The Lord calls us in our weakness, but He qualifies us for His work". If we involve the Lord in everything we do, we may find comfort and success in all things that He has prepared for us to receive. Remember Him always, it is His plan after all; this I humbly pray, in the name of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen

Love and Miss you all.

-Elder Castellanos

Side note: Pictures are either selfies or cool things I saw this week. One is my companion and I at McDonalds for my 21st birthday haha

Monday, February 17, 2014

"...are you exercising your priesthood responsibilities to their full extent? "

Hola familia! 
Dejenme contarles que esta semana fue muy emocionante!

So I totally got sick last Tuesday. I woke up, and I felt like death crept into my bed, wrapped his arms around me, dug his mischievous hands into my lungs and just crushed them. Yeah...it was nuts haha couldn't breathe, eyes were watering, was cold, body ached, the whole shazam. So That day, we went to visit Damon, a less-active who really needed a reminder of the power he yields as a priesthood holder. I asked if him and my companion could provide me a blessing and he did. Later in the week, he stopped ignoring us and actually went to visit investigators with us as fellowship!! I honestly can say that I was given sickness for that opportune moment. My sickness went away around Wednesdaynight. It was so awesome! So brief note, a reminder to all those priesthood bearers...are you exercising your priesthood responsibilities to their full extent #QuestionMark
Anywho! Last week we hit our standards of excellence for our mission! So we strived to do it again this week. We hit all of our goals, except for investigators at church because of the long weekend :'( #SadDay But we won't give up for this week! But we still had an awesome week. Along w/ P-day we had taught 21 lessons in 3 days! Craziness! Let me stress the amount of member missionary work going on here. It REALLY makes a difference. Investigators have fellowship before they even get introduced to missionaries. It has proven success! 3/4 investigators introduced to missionaries after being first fellowshipped get baptized! Why would you not want to do that!? Ahhh...help people!

Okay...rant done. We found 3 new investigators this week, 1 baptized, 3 more on date for march, and will have 2 more on date this week. Work is hastening! Kind of cool to see the different Utah culture when it comes to the LDS members though. Although I will say, 50% of the problems we see in investigators, is them being offended by LDS members inserting opinion into doctrine. Sigh...but my companion and I are always super prepared to fight the misunderstandings so it works out.

I met Guatemalans this week!!! SUPER happy haha They had not wanted to be visited before, but they allowed us to come over and eat since I was "of their people" haha In the pics you will see that one of them made us pupusas/empanadas ! Ah super good! Other pictures include pet chickens, cats, selfies, and a wide variety of sorts haha The one where i'm at the window is me trying to contact a second story apartment for a referral we got. I had to climb up to the window and see if he was there ignoring us haha HE WAS!! He finally answered the door cuz he was impressed at the length I went to get his attention haha It's true that we are encouraged to go outside the box in finding.

So Saturday we baptized Flora! The room was packed with support too! We had members of the congregation and all the auxiliaries to watch it was so awesome! I did the baptism and she was sooooooo happy! Ah. Life is good.

So I did a lot of reflecting this week after we had interviews with our mission President, which is super awesome by the way. Him and sister Center say i'm always smiling, but I don't notice it. Haha BUT back on track, we have had a lot of people we've been teaching that are beating up on themselves for past mistakes. They have gone through the repentance process and live righteous lives but they feel like they haven't been forgiven. Nephi, talks of this at one point, and identifies the Devil as being the cause of us wallowing in self-pity. 2 Nephi 4: 17-30. I'd like to focus more on 27-28, and 30 that say: 
27. And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?
28. Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.
30. Rejoice, O my heart and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever, yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.

For those struggling with beating yourselves up because of past transgressions - STOP. These feelings are of the Devil to keep us away from the love of our Heavenly Father. Do as Nephi instructs, and "cry unto the Lord" for help. He truly is "the rock of...salvation". May you "no longer droop in sin", this I humbly pray, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

[ first baptism, Flora ]

[ great skittles flavor & name]

[ thank you notes Luis created ]

[ just some chickens at an investigators home ]

[ chocolate cake ]

[ sister made some pupusas ]

[ friendly cat ]

[seeing if someone was ignoring them ]

[ always remembering Chicago ]

[ found carts everywhere, s they rounded
them up and returned them to WalMart]

[ selfieeeee ]

Monday, February 10, 2014

"Let us always turn outward in love to those around us, and express christ-like attributes just as a small child is without sin"

So I have tons to tell so my apologies for it being scattered!

So Monday of last week my companion got uber sick! He tends to get headaches a lot, but this time it was a stomach bug...not pretty. We stayed in Monday night and he stayed home Tuesday while I went out with the Wellington Elders. Super fun! We uncovered more spanish people for us to teach and had an amazing dinner! I don't remember what it was called, unfortunately :( While out, we had a lesson with this exchange student named Louisa, from Germany. Reminded me of Sina!!! But Louisa is 16 and in High school. Anywho, we gave the lesson and I bore my testimony and it was really funny cuz she was like, "When you talk, it's like you dig deep into my soul, find me, and pull me out". I was like, uhhhh aca-awkward, but cool? haha it was strange but funny!

We are also teaching these 2 young boys, one is 8 and the other 11. They are so awesome! The mum is less-active and the dad is a non-member but their excitement in taking the lessons is taking the whole family to church! We dropped off a BoM to them this week and when we visited them yesterday night they had already begun reading on their own! Ah...life is good. haha On my free time I was able to draw out the Plan of Salvation in english and spanish. Also, since the 2 boys said they weren't sure if they'd be ready for baptism at the end of the month, I drew out a road map with all the lessons so they could visually see where they stand. They were really excited when I gave it to them last night.

So church continues to be the same. We visit 3 wards every sunday depending on where we have investigators. It really is awesome attending 3 times though. I feel I was somewhat prepared for it going to Amanda's, Caleb's, and the YSA ward sometimes. haha So we got suckered into giving a talk in the 4th ward next Sunday so that will be fun! It's kind of nice since they didn't assign a topic. 

So i've noticed missionaries get kind of praised. Haha Like everyone is attentive when we speak, and afraid when we give a lesson or come to their house. Like we are there to chastize them. Super funny! We had a lesson with a boy and his gf (he is leaving on his mission in april) and he started asking all these questions about missionary life. Here I was thinking I was no help in my advice but he said I helped a lot with what I said. Super nice! Just shows I've let myself grow the short time i've been out. Yet, I don't know where this month has gone! Super fast!

I've been able to exercise every morning this week! Awesomeness! Hopefully I stop losing weight. I'm up to 7 pounds lost since I left. Wah wah wahhhhh. That's ohtay though....pretty much the least of my worries. Studying is taking off!! It's a different level of understanding when you let yourself get enveloped in the work. I wonder why I waited so long to get in depth with them haha. Especially seeing the power they have to relate to people's lives.

So We have a baptism this Saturday! We had 3, but the two young brothers didn't go to church :( But the one that remained strong, Flor, is amazing! She is living with her sister who is a member, reading the book of mormon, and accepted baptism the first lesson we had for her! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Super great day! So that's this saturday at 1. Booyah!

I've also come to the point where lotion, water, and chap stick are my best friends. How do people survive in this dry climate boggles my mind. haha although with the dryness and elevation, it's like my workouts are in a hyperbolic time chamber. Yeah, I went DBZ on y'all. I'm sure Billy will appreciate it haha

So I had my first Zone meeting on Thursday and it was so awesome! Everyone just worked together in edifying each other. My zone leaders said they were surprised with my maturity level being a greenie, and that the insight I brought was really deep. Awesomesauce, no? I give credit to the obedience i'm giving to my mission. Blessings and happiness!

We have been doing many wonders in the spanish community!! Although we are a bilingual area, i've really been stressing that we visit our hispanic investigators and we are reaping the fruits of our labors! It is amazing how ready people are to receive the message we offer.

So not to bore you too much, great things are happening! Happiness runs in abundance, though don't mistake, I miss you all dearly. This week I have been studying in Mosiah, and let me tell you it is awesome. 2 things I want to share, Mosiah 3:19 "Porque el hombre natural es enemigo de Dios...a menos que se someta al influjo del Santo Espiritu, y se despoje del hombre natural, y se haga santo por la expiacion de Cristo el Señor, y se vuelva como un niño: sumiso, manso, humilde, paciente, lleno de amor y dispuesto a someterse cuanto el Señor juzgue conveniente imponer sobre el, tal como un niño se somete a su padre." Let us always remember that carnal man is a natural enemy of God. Let us always turn outward in love to those around us, and express Christ-like attributes just as a small child is without sin. Mosiah continues is Chapter 4 verse 9 and 10 saying that if we truly believe in the gospel of Christ, we MUST do them. Let our faith not be selective with commandments or those we share them with. The gathering of Israel is happening and every member with knowledge of the truth has a duty to take it to the four corners of the world. 

Love you all!

Elder Castellanos 

Quotes of the Week

"That little green poop looking thingy?" (referring to Yoda) - David Ramirez

"When you'z waz babtizedd" -Bishop

"We are the modern day black people" - Freddy Sanchez

"Thank you Jesus fot his misery you have blessed us with" - Freddy Sanchez

"Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for this day that I didn't have to work...cuz work sucks...in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen" - Denise Ramirez

Monday, February 3, 2014

"Let every action, every word, every thought, be an example to the carnal man in us....."

So I sat and wrote in my journal yesterday and looked back on my first journal entry. It was me, sitting at the airport waiting for my flight out to Salt Lake. Then I realized it was almost a month ago! Crazy! It feels like it was just yesterday that I was rushing trying to pack up! Guess it's true when they say that when you enjoy your mission the time flies!

Speaking of packing, I realized I may have brought a lot of stuff that I don't need haha although I find use for every single thing, it might be bothersome when I get transferred. Oh hhwell. On that note though I continually use my sweaters out here..It's chilly but not coat chilly. So they are a big hit! haha I get compliments everywhere :)

So as for the teaching part of the mission, I feel i've grown so much! I take the lead in most discussions now and have such a greater knowledge of  the scriptures. But I can't take the credit; the gift of the Holy Ghost has manifested so many miracles to me so far and it is mind-boggling! The rate of learning has increased and the ability to discern a person's feelings and needs and to adapt scriptures and gospel principles to their lives just pop into your mind at a moment's notice! Sometimes I leave a lesson and i'm like, I have no idea where that came from. My companion has been really surprised at how far i've come in this short time. I know that it's possible through diligence and obedience. I am striving to be worthy of all the blessings I need to be a successful missionary and I can already see them bearing fruit!

Quick example! We have this 13 yr old boy named David on date for Baptism on the 15th now. Saturday we went over to share a lesson and he had come across some anti-lds commentary. He began shooting out questions like crazy! My companion and I said a prayer and we got to work. The second he finished asking a question, one of us instantly turned to the scriptures for an answer. We must've answered about 30 questions straight before he was satisfied. I felt like Abinadi in the book of Mosiah where he is in jail, and the people questioned him in hopes of confusing him to be able to convict him and Abinadi just answers everything swiftly. It. Was. Awesome!!!

Another story, reagarding the Lord preparing the way for us - we went on splits on Wednesday and Bro. Ohlweiler and I visited an inactive family. We introduced ourselves, I shared  the background of our message and mentioned the importance of baptism. While the parents discussed whether or not they'd like us to come back, their little 9 year old girl, Talleil walks up to them, holding a book of Mormon and says, "Mom, please let them come back...I want to get baptized" Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Moment of the week!!!!! It was so great!

To go along with preparing the way, it came to my knowledge this week that the Price area has a big group of Guatemalans who have refused to get too involved with lessons because of insecurity issues with the people. A sister friend of some of the families mentioned I had just come into the area and that I was Guatemalan and that I wanted to meet with them and they accepted!!!! Oh how great the work is. I know this is where i'm supposed to be, and i'm grateful for having the privilege to teach these people!

On a side note, everything else is great! We attended 4 wards yesterday so I was able to bear my testimony all 4 times. Awesome, huh? I know! P-day is pretty great! We play sports with all of our zone. We played this every man for himself dodgeball and boy was I hurting the next like 3 days! haha but I have been working out every morning now! It helps wake me up for the morning long study session haha. But food is good! Strict diet of cereal and Ramen for breakfast and lunch respectively, and dinner at a member's home every day. We are truly blessed! I am finally getting used to not eating like 8 times a day like back at home haha. Good times!

To end i'd like to share a quick scripture: Romans: 8: 35-39

I love the words used in spanish, but you can read it however you wish.

I'll pause while you look it up because I don't want to write it out...

(Cue Jazz Elevator Music)

anndddddddd we're back :)

Remember, nothing can ever keep us apart from the love of Christ. If we strive to live righteously and do the things our Father in Heaven hath commanded, we may always feel His love and presence in our lives. We are the chosen people in these latter-days to bring up the true church of Christ on Earth. Let every action, every word, every thought, be an example to the carnal man in us and in all those around us of the love we have for this gospel. May you always shine forth the Light of Christ, this I pray, In the beloved name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Les extraño y amo mucho!

Elder Castellanos

{ Elder Esquivel from Chicago,IL }
{ Got to go to ColdStone Creamery }
{ hot brownie with caramel topping }

{ this is HUGE in person. Member killed it himself and framed his prize }
{ View from top of a hill in Price, Utah }
{ Just a members pet pig- she can't move because she's fat }