Thursday, July 3, 2014

Birthday Email Made Me Cry + Happy Birthday Bobby!

Aye mum, I love you, thank you so much for being my mom. I don't think I would have done very well in life if I didn't have you as my mom. It would be tough for me to have to go through life with anyone less than the BEST mom. I love you. I'm going to respond to your email from last week. First off, your birthday email made me cry if you didn't know. Thank you. I love feeling and knowing that my mom loves me so much that it makes me cry. You're great at that mom, even to the point where you put a picture of a mother holding her baby on the side of the birthday box that you sent me it made me think that you probably did that on purpose. It made me cry again knowing that I will always be your son and you will always be my loving mother. Thank you mom. You told me it's probably pretty wet weather here but to be honest i'm dying of the heat. You told me about a new island being born and to me that is amazing. You told me about how Pete's son Scott caught the most fish on the fishing trip but I hope you know that's only because I wasn't there. I love people who are rough around the edges, the Gospel is designed for them, me being VERY VERY VERY rough. I'm so proud of Sadie for almost baring her testimony, that means so much to me. Can you send me the picture of me standing on the side of a truck looking back at the camera? I don't know which one it is. You hadn't told me about the story of the people helping you but I love those stories, thank you for sharing them with me. You told me about Taylor Rieff going back out on his mission, to be honest he is one of the best friends I had in the ward, I'm so proud of him too. You told me to keep working hard because I'm lifting others and that means a lot to me. I'm trying really hard and sometimes it seems too hard or like I'm not doing very well so thank you so much. Oh I was going to add that every time that you have the opportunity to have a missionary opportunity take advantage of it and invite them to listen to the missionaries. I know you can do it mom! Oh and you sent me pictures of Brandon Pilcher with his girlfriend, he didn't get married to Stephanie Callaway??? That's a surprise. Just a few points - It's funny here, a lot of people are in rushes and they will start to run about 25 feet and realize they are tired and stop to rest and then walk a little and then run a little more then stop again, and it goes about the same speed. - Elias is one of our best investigators, he has had a lot of trials in his life and I shared your experience mom about looking for the truth and he told me that he had a similar experience. He told us of how he was praying to find what God wanted for him and a couple days later he met us in a family home evening. - HAPPY BIRTHDAY BOBBY!!!! I'm so proud of you and I get to talk about you all the time, people ask me about my family and they are always really interested in how my borther was in the military and I tell them about the big truck you drove and everything and they love to hear those stories. - Thank you for the birthday package, I got one package. It had 4 ties from you all, that's gold a amazing, and one from kimmy that is a suuuuper cool blue, and one from Sadie that is the COOLEST cream color, and the mom tie, I love them all thank you so much. General Conference was amazing, I learned so much. I hope you all did too. We need to remember that we are not only hearing the words of righteous men but those are the words of God. We should cherrish and study them as if God was telling them to us Himself. How we treat and cherrish and study the words of the prophets is a reflection of the importance of God's words in our lives. I love you all so much and I know the words of God will bless us all so much. Thank you all for everything, I love you all. I love you mom, Elder Branden Carl Astle Ps mom i'm trying with aaron, I'm sorry if I have said things that have made him feel like he doesnt want to go on his mission. That makes me so sad to think that maybe I did that, please forgive me. I love you mom.

First off, my companion doesn't believe that Brian is drawing those pictures, he literally thinks that they are photos. Aaron needs to do wheelies better, haha. I'm kidding, I'm praying for him! Thank you for the pictures this week mom, to be honest they make me feel so happy, thank you so much.

Me with my first birthday cake, they have a tradition called "mordida" or "bite" where the birthday person has to take a small bite of the cake without utensils, see following, but someone always pushes their face in the cake

My companion pushed my face in!

Birthday lunch at the Bishops house!

It was Itziari's birthday too!

My second birthday cake! It was the best cake I've tasted in Mexico!

Itziari pushed my face into the cake..

Sushi Dinner! Elias is on the left, I met him one of the first days we got here and now he is preparing to be I invited him and a friend who is a member to be baptized. I tried....

No pushing my face into the cornbread cake, Cake number 3!

Pix of two rocks I forgot to send you...

SEPTEMBER 30, 2013

Sorry I think these fotos will be my letter for today, forgive me please? 1. I'm sending very limited fotos from today's adventure sorry, I have no time. :( 2. We hiked up to a giant cross that overlooks everything around this part of Tehuacan 3. This is me and my district on top of the 30 foot cross, super scary!

The tall one is a missionary that was inactive, now we are going to help him go on his mission

Picture for you all!

Resting after a six mile hike!

Just being cool!

My district, the man in front of me is our Bishop, he is great!

Sept 23, 2013 Land of the Rock Gods....

Aye mum, I love you and miss you so much. I talked about you in a lesson this week, I do that pretty often actually. Talk about my amazing family and incredible mother. I talked about how before the mission I didn't really do a good job about telling my family that I love them, but now I try to tell them every week. I tell them that they need to not make the same mistake as me. I love you all and miss you all a lot a lot a lot. This week was really good. A faith builder for sure. Oh I want to write back to the letters from this week to the Hodgkin family. Bro Hodg - You're probably right, there probably are not many families that will "tote around a life size picture of their son" Kind of weird right? (mom i'm kidding, i love it) Your card definitely had me laughing. Thank you for your faith. I liked how you put "It's all part of the plan" That helped me a lot to be honest, thank you. Ethan - Thank you for your letter. Thank you for telling me I'm doing great and setting a good example, it really does mean so much to me. PS. You look SUPER tall! Sister Hodgkin - I'm glad I can still make everyone laugh without even being there to get my hair cut. You told me about how great my mom is, too. She's the best right? Thank you for everything, you're family is awwwwwwwesome! So Tehuacan is Nauatl for Lugar de los dioses de las piedras or Land of the Rock Gods. I thought that was pretty cool. This week we ate cow tongue! but it wasn't even anything weird they just served it to us like normal not expecting a reaction or anything, I thought that was funny. I was coughing this whole week and barely slept too. Good news is that it was only coughing and not super sick like everyone else. This week is Nicole's birthday, it's on the 26th, be sure to do something awesome for her!!! I mean it can't be easy sitting in a closet for 2 years waiting for a sun-burned-now-half-mexican missionary. There are 6 people in my district, and that would be crazy way too much! But I'll probably end up spending a little bit, like $100? It's tough because in the mission, when a missionary has his birthday the ward mission leader is supposed to be in charge of helping out and celebrating and stuff but they removed out ward mission leader yesterday :( bummer. It's ok though, I think eating sushi will be enough. Thank you for everything you do and for being who you all are. I love you and miss you all so much. I love you mom, only 3 people love you more than me: Heavenly Father, Jesus, and Dad. :) Talk to you next week. Elder Branden Carl Astle

I tried mom....

Walking to an appointment..



Good-looking Japanese kid????

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

September 16, 2013 EXTREME KITTEN RESCUE!

Aye mum, 
I love you and miss you so much, I'm so thankful forever to be your son.  Ok now that you're buttered up I'll let you know that I'm so out of time this week and won't be able to write much :(
From your letter from last week.  I still have the same adress.  My new companion is Elder Garcia from Peru but not from Lima or from Machu Pichu haha.  It sounds like Sami and her family are loaded, that's awesome.  You told me that when kim heard that sami's sister has 6 kids she was like "WHAT?" ... me too.  Free breakfast for me is not worth sleep :P but that's because i don't sleep at all anyway haha.  I loved the story about the police officer and the mormon stolen car lady.  Thank you for sharing my stories with others mom, I know if I was there I would say "LETS GOOOOOOO!" but I'm not so thank you for that, haha.  
From this week:
I taught english class on saturday alone! I mean to say that the other missionary that usually helps me teach wasn't there and I taught how to pray in english to a bunch of investigators,  There were like 10 people in the class which is actually a lot.  
The other day it was raining and while walking with my companion i heard a tiny meow and looked  down to see a little kitten crying and shivering.  I couldn't just leace it there.  So we walked around looking for people who would take it in.  We found a i}little family across the street from our apartment who took it in and took good care of it.  
We are teaching a young man named Elias.  He is so great and has had so many experiences that have prepared him to hear our message.  It has really strengthened my testimony that God prepares people and knows everything.  It helps me feel better when people don't want to listen to us I just think " well they just aren't prepared yet" I love Heavenly Father and trust Him so much.  I love being a missionary and doing this work.  It's so hard lately but so rewarding at the same time.  Nicole sent me pictures from before the mission and my hair was so nuts .... but i was also a lot better looking... dang....
I love you!
Elder Branden Carl Astle

Mexico Ties

Mariachi hat!

On the back of a truck.

The cat we rescued...


The Mask from the Dance with the Old Guys!

Me and my district, i was very far from the sisters sorry it looks like i was close

The Rock fountain..

Head in the fountain!

The View

September 9, 2013 Tehuacan!

Aye mum,
   I love you and I'm so thankful to be your son.  Thank you for always being one of my best friends.  I'm so thankful for and love and miss everyone from home.  This week was crazy!  Elder Garcia from a tiny little town like ours in Peru is my new comapnion and this week we opened up a new area! We had no idea how to get around or who the members were or anything, it was pretty fun actually.  I also am a map making master now!  We are in a ward called Observatorio in Tehuacan.  It's a pretty cool city area, luckily half of our area is kind of villagey so that's good.  
   Oh, to write back to your letter from last week.  You told me that you love me and then asked "did you know that?" Yes. You told me that Sadie is doing really well in school and that Uncle Branden would be proud, but I'm blessed just to be able to say that I'm her uncle.  When you told me what brother Johnson said about playing with fire, i felt a little scolded but that's good right?  I'm praying for Trmapus too, have you told him about doing temple work?  You told me how proud you are of Brian for being so good at painting and well everything that Brian does and I'm really proud of him too.  He's such a great example.  Later you told me about your stories with the little kids inviting you to their houses and stuff.  Little children truly are of the Kingdom of God.
Well that's actually about it for this week.  Sorry it's short but I'm on a time crunch because we couldn't find the computers in this new place haha.  I love you,
Elder Branden Carl Astle

Trying to look cool, even with Sister Reeves in the pix!

Old Companion Eller Vargas and new companion Elder Herrera

Getting lost on their first day opening up a new area!

Me with Hermano Raul, he's a super strong active member in our new
 little ward, he also can't see.

 Pretty easy to talk when he can't mawl me to death.  It doesn't look so 
big here but they are huge and sound AWESOME 

 Bears are big, this one stuck it's nose to the fence and i started rubbing it's fur and all of a sudden it reached it's paw at me really fast and really strongly to pull me in for a kiss and it scared me so bad haha

 At one point he charged at me... to hug me...

 In my last area i could go on the roof to study and would have a huge 360 degree with a snow covered volcano and beautiful green fields.  This is basically the same right?

Monday, March 17, 2014

I'm sorry that it has been so long since I posted Elder Astle's letters and pix! I started sharing the pix on Facebook but have come to realize I need to post here too! I'm posting today's letter and will go back and catch up. Please forgive me! Danita

Aye mum,
I love you and miss you so much.  I love and miss my family, my friends, and my ward family so much.  I honestly think I was able to grow up in one of the best environments of all time.  I love you all!  This week was interesting.  We played Ping Pong today!!!! I loved it so much haha.  I'm still the zone champ don't worry.  I feel bad because I know things happen, but as you probably know, the days just begin to blend together and I can't remember if I have told you something yet or not or if something happened this week or the last week or when, I just want you to know that I love it.  I'll just tell you about some really good experiences I had this week.  First I went on exchanges with the Elders from La Joya in Cuanala. During the exchanges we went and taught a recent convert sister who was feeling really sick.  She got up and out of bed just to listen to our message.  We talked about faith and gave her a blessing, I kow she loved it and was feeling uplifted afterward.  As we were leaving her father in law, she lives with them, was waiting by the door for us and would not let us leave without cleaning our shoes.  He got down on his hands and knees and cleaned each one of our shoes and afterward got up and hugged us and told us that he loved us so much.  It really was such an amazing experience and I was so grateful and humbled by it.  I feel so bless to be here.  On Saturday I did a baptismal interview for a little girl named Italia.  The interview went great, she has been going to church for over 6 months, alone.  She's 8.  It was incredible to hear her testimony afterward about how her parents didn't want to let her be baptized because they aren't members.  She told me that she never was worried because she always prayed and knew Heavenly Father would help them have an eternal family.  Her parents will be baptized next week.  At the end of the interview I told her never to forget how God blesses us and I showed her a foto of my parents and how grateful I am to have them in my life and that we are going to have an eternal family too.  She told me that my mom is REALLY pretty.  I told her I agree.  I love you all, I'm so thankful for the mercies of the Lord.  Although I went through some very hard trials this week, I know that these blessings truly were tender mercies of the Lord.  He loves us so much.  I love you all too, talk to you soon,
Elder Branden Carl Astle

                                                      Sitting alone on an old bus!

                                           Elder Cool and Elder Rasmussen! Sometimes he is just too funny!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Aye Mum,
I love you and miss you and everyone at home so much. Mom I need you to forgive me. This week I'm all out of time. I'll be better next week. I'm going to respond to the letters from the last two weeks. First, I did get my anniversary present and it was amazing!!!!! I loved it so much. The photo book made me cry and filled me up with love. I was sick with a stomach infection 3 weeks ago. You told me that Scott is the Elder's quorum president!!!! WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! He's the greatest right? Also you told me you saw Debbie Clark. Tell her I said "hi :) I'm living in Mexico." I'm not too excited for my birthday to be honest. You told me you saw the Wrights and that you miss them a lot. I miss them too. I will never forget the day when I jokingly asked brother Wright for his tie because I liked it a lot and right there he took it off and gave it to me.
In the email from last week you talked about the wedding date being changed, I hope it was changed to December..... of 2014!!! :P That'd be good. Thank you for the pictures of Travis, I love him. You told me my face looks more muscular and the secret is that I'm getting better and molding fat to look like muscle. You told me about how you saw Ty plowing forward with people trying to hold him back. I literally said "THAT'S MY NEPHEW!!" out loud. I used to do that in football games with my friends too. Thank you for loving me so much mom. I started reading the letters from the photo book like 1 or 2 a day and just decided to start at the beginning to end. I just had an idea! I'm going to take a photo of the page i wrote to respond to the cards and send that. If you don't understand something or can't read something tell me in a short email next week.

a few points
- President Reeves's wife called me organized the other day because I said i missed a shirt that was missing. I told her that that was nothing haha.
- I'm getting better at basketball, but I still stink.
- My district gave me the nickname John Cena because they say that i look like him after i work out and take off my shirt in the morning... I don't understand how my face changes though ;P
- I ate spinach soup the other day and loved it so much and asked for seconds.
- Sometimes I think maybe it would be better not to wash behind my ears anymore so that potatoes will grow and i will have something to eat. :P haha but really there's only a few hungry days so don't worry :)

I love you so much mom! Thank you for being my perfect mom :)
Elder Branden Carl Astle

Branden got his one year anniversary photo book...finally after 8 weeks!

I guess I don't know my Adventure Time very well!

Elder Evolution of Man?!
Uh...High jumping contest?
District Meeting
Tacos with ward leaders