Monday, December 17, 2012

Aye mum,
I love you so much mom, I miss you so much, and every else too. I really really really really love you all and miss you all, but also I love it hear, ok i'm not going to fix that "hear" to show that my english is going already haha. And also, ok I saw a woman the other day and I, well i dont know how to say it in english, but i said hi to her, but it's different than that, but there's no word in english, ANYWAY the street was completely empty in every direction we looked except this little old woman who looked 150, I'm just glad it wasn't night time O.o but she was super cute and only 3 and half feet tall haha. It was just funny because i said hi to her "Then everything got intense!" I love that reference. So this week was rough for missionary work, but I'll get to that last so you have to read all my babbling to get to the good stuff haha. I will now get listy, thank you. So the other day I read the scripture, I will make you fishers of men... I miss dad, I miss fishing so much, I want to go fishing so bad, with everyone though and everyone individually too and just be happy. Ok so tell brian and aaron to read Matthew 4:19 and then the footnote that is connected to it, i don't remember what it says right now but i know it's awesome, i hope. So we had the 12 of december here the other day, it's the day of the virgin of Guadalupe, ask me about that on skype! Also please write some questions or something for us to talk about on skype because I'm afraid im going to be boring. Also please figure out your skype and everything and test it too mom, i dont want it not to work :( I learned the other day that the state of Puebla is the most Catholic state in Mexico, also the city of puebla in the state of puebla is the most catholic part of puebla... that's where I am now hahaha. Oh also ask me about what happened on the bus on the way back from the Christmas party we had at the Mission home k? The Christmas party was a lot of fun, we played games, did pinatas, sang christmas songs, took pictures, ate a bunch, and also i arranged a special musical number with a few other elders, I have it on video so in two years you can see it :P basically it's... i dont know the name in english but its Cantan Santos Angeles and I beatboxed almost the whole thing. Could you ask brian if he knows who Arkam is? he's a SUPER good graffiti artist and some of his work is here in puebla and it's super sweet haha. Sometimes the people here dont make sense, the other day these two guys cheered their beers and said "to health!"
Ok fun missionary stuff... this week was really rough to be honest, we were going to have Jose Luis baptized on thursday but he missed church on sunday so we wont be able to do that and we are going to tell him we need to change his date. Honestly that hurts me so much, I'm pretty scared and sad that he might be hurt and sad, I just want him to be happy. The good news is that a new investigator came to church and he really liked it and our friendship with him is really growing. His name is Armando, for a while he didnt want us to teach him because he thought if he let us in that we were going to rob him haha but its al good now and he loves reading so we think he will be good on his reading of the book of mormon. Almost out of time! Last thing: A while back we gave a blessing to a young man who is the nephew of a less active sister in our ward. He kept losing weight and no one knew why. His weight was getting very very dangerously low. We saw him this week. He is still a little thin but he is back into the healthy weight zone. No one knows why it changed, we know though. I'm so thankful for the priesthood that i hold and the ability to bless the lives of others, I'm also thankful for all the worthy priesthood holders around me in my life. I know the church is true and i love you all so much. Please, please, please be member missionaries and share your testimonies, if not anything else you will be spiritually fortified yourselves. I love you, i want the best for you, i want you to be happy, you all deserve it, Heavenly Father wants you to be happy too, I know that without a doubt. I'll talk to you soon.
Love forever and eternity,
Elder Branden Carl Astle
                                                     Elder Ramirez and Elder Astle

                               The following pix are of the Elder's Christmas Party

Monday, December 10, 2012

Aye mum,
I love you and miss you so much. I love and miss everyone so much to be honest, but I love it here so much too. So this week was a little bland with the most amazing cream filling. I think about food a lot. We had a bunch of trials and work. Mom, I found her, I found you. Last week we were walking around this area and I had the impression to talk to this mom and her daughter, I kind of questioned it like "should I?" and it came again and i thought "am i sure?" finally the third time it came and I was sure. We had a good little talk about our message and planned to meet them a week later. This week we taught them. Luz Maria is a single mom and has her daughter Luz Selena who is 11. The two of them are really close and help each other all the time. They had a discussion before we contacted them about how they want to do what's right and have the truth in their lives. They decided to pray to have Heavenly Father put the truth in their path. The Tuesday that we contacted them they had the impression to go visit a church so they went. The church was closed and they were a little confused but on the way back to their house we contacted them. Luz Maria said that after they talked to us and we had left them they felt a strong feeling of what they now know is the Spirit. During the lesson we taught about the Restoration they felt that everything was just right and Luz Maria was crying by the end. I shared with them your experience with the missionaries and that really had her and I both crying a lot. They even attended church on sunday and stayed for all three hours!! We have really high hopes for them and are going to work hard with them. The problem is that i think a member of another Church... Jehovas Witness is following us around and talking to everyone we talk to because whenever we come and talk to people for a second time they have always, every time, had a Jehovah's Witness come and talk to them and share their views and why we are wrong. It's pretty tough. Well I'm about out of time. Sorry no information about Skype yet, but I think we do have a family who will let us use their computer so that's progress. How's your setting up of skype going? I love you all. A little list this week;
- For Aaron and Brian - There are posters everywhere here... Skrillex is playing an end of the world show on the 21 of Dec here in Puebla, nuts right?
- I found out i'm a water elemental, because i cry and cry and cry all the time hahaha ask aaron
-I did the calculation and it turns out that 1 second on Kolob is 4.12 days on Earth, fun!
- Tell aaron that the book of mormon has a cool part-prophecy in it. Aaron is the missionary aaron in the book of mormon and he is going to go somewhere with a king and convert the king.
- I ate brains!!!!!!!!!!!! it was actually really good, i dont know if it will be everytime though haha

I loved hearing everything about home and everything so much thank you so much I love you all so much. See you in a bit,
Elder Branden Carl Astle

                              Elder Astle being chased by a very ferocious looking beast!
                                          It might lick him to death if it catches him!

                         Elder Prosper, Ping Pong Champion of Uruguay, and snake..

Elder Astle

                                                                  Service is good!

                                I don't know how Elder Ramirez keeps his cool!?

                                Oh no, I think Elder Astle is rubbing off on Elder Ramirez!

                                                        Elder Astle is such a little angel!

Their Chapel.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Aye Mum,
I love you and miss you so much, I love and miss everyone so much. Ok now i feel like a jerk because I'm out of time already. I'm going to paste the letter I sent to President Reeves and then burn through my list I'm sorry. This week was better though, the missionary work is still slow. It's so hard sometimes to keep going but I will never lose hope, I will always work for these people because I love them and I want them to be happy so much.

Presidente Reeves,
Thank you for all your support it really helps me a lot every week. This week I got a letter from my mom that she actually had sent a long time ago but for whatever reason I didn't get it till now. In her letter she wrote me something that has helped a lot since I read it. She said "Remember when it's hard to lean on the Lord, He wants you to." It really hit me hard and it's true and I have been doing that and this week has been better. I can slowly feel myself becoming more positive. This week was good too. I loved being able to attend the exchange meeting and the messages that were shared there, they really motivated me to be strong and press on. The work this week felt good because we were trying to push ourselves this week even more. We had a special lesson with an investigator who we have been praying for, his name is Jose Luis. We got him a pair of glasses from my mom so that he can read and in the lesson where we gave them to him we found out he can actually read very well. He even read in between lessons and he is actually progressing really well now where he wasnt't before. We have high hopes for him. This week I'm going to try harder to do like you said President and remember that I'm not alone, that's actually perfect because in my head I think "If they can do it, I can do it too!" Thanks again for everything President.
Elder Branden Astle

I finally got the second package with the glasses! plus i got Nicole's letters and I got the letter Kimmy sent me for my birthday... made me cry a bunch, thanks a lot hahaha.
All the cookies in the package were expired when they got here sorry mom, but it's ok because the members give us expired food too!
I also got the dear elders you sent the 29th of August too mom :P
I made up a new tie knot called the 4 fold windsor
The glasses helped us a lot as you have read thank you so much again
The other night I held a 20 day old baby of a less active sister... It was amazing it really is something special.
In church yesterday we sang a song that basically translates to "the end is near" hahaha
Mom one thing that you could send me that they dont have here is soap, dove men+care bare of soap, the soap here is wrecking my skin super bad.
Fedex apparently takes a week to get here... But it probably costs a ton :/
I cant wait to come home and see everyone and see how everyone has grown and everything although it kind of scares me a little bit, especially with TY haha, but i cant wait to see everyone's talents and everything, including how good Nicole is at snowboarding when I get back! haha I love you all so much and miss you all, keep striving to improve your testimonies please, that means the most to me. I love you
Elder Branden Carl Astle
                    Elder Ramirez and Elder Astle painting a less active members home.

This is when we went with a bunch of missionaries to the passport office, Elder Kitchen wasnt there but elders Dougherty and Allred were, it was pretty fun and odd speaking in english.

 We had a new missionary stay with us for the night and we took a picture... go figure haha

            I think this is a japanese or chinese grapefruit, i dunno, it tasted like egg nog haha

                               Yummy!! I asked Branden if they come in a seedless variety?!

Monday, November 26, 2012

November 26, 2012

Hi mum,
Well I miss you and love you all so much like always, also I'm sorry because I'm short on time again ayayay. That's my favorite Spanish phrase haha. Well This week was tough but again the Spiritual blessings keep flowing. I love my mission so much and everything about it and I'm so grateful to everyone who helped me to get here. All my good examples and all the support from family, friends, and the ward. So I'm done with my first exchange today! Crazy right?!?! One more and I might be getting a new companion or a new area even! Wow. I can't believe it's already going so fast. Well it's time to get listy:
1. First off I have plenty of money right now don't worry mom but thank you so much. I'll be sure to wait until closer to Christmas time to buy myself a present... I'll try anyway.
2. Something hilarious: Elder Lopez from the picture is from Columbia and his companion is Elder Olson who is helping him learn English, his english is really pretty good. The other day he taught him something so funny: Elder Olson told me to ask Elder Lopez how is english is. Me: "how's your english?" Elder Lopez: "kind of" hahahahaha I was dying laughing.
3. So i tried ceviche this week.... look it up... it was interesting... I covered it in ketchup haha
4. There's these clowns that perform infront of the lines of cars at the stop lights whern the lgiht is red and sometimes they are pretty good. but it's weird seeing the clowns smoking on the side of the rode.
5. Sometime bad, sometimes i forget to put on sunblock before i leave. Luckily i havent gotten sunburned yet!
6. The saints for October 5 are Flor and Tulia, I have 2!!! super rare :P
7. President Reeves says hello, our interview was really good!
8. For aaron: Look up the Chrysler AMV 10 NICE!

Answers to your questions
1. no package yet :(
2. We can barely see the volcano off in the distance
3. The weather here is still really warm during the day and cold at night
4. Elder Ramirez is really patient and helps me a lot but sometimes thinks im really weird haha he's right
5. My Spanish is good but i dont want to talk about that i dont want to start thinking its good and then get prideful and then fall like the great and spacious building!

I gotta go I'm so out of time. I love you all so much, I miss you, I'll talk to you in a bit!
Elder Branden Carl Astle

 La familia Villegas, an AWESOME family in our ward.
 Also I bought Chicharon to give them, that was the half size!
 This one's for you dad

                                                               A scary hallway!

             A family in the ward are paper makers and they gave us all they awesome paper things!

                                                             (The three amigos?)
This is a picture of a recent convert in our ward his name is Jose Luis and he is in the middle if you didnt guess that Im on the right haha but we saw some luchador masks the other day in the street and I wanted to buy one but they are super expensive so Im not going to, but we told him and he pulled out the three he has and we put them on for the picture.

             Left to right, Elder Lopez, Elder Olson (from so cal, today is his very last day in the mission,
               he was an assistant and was there when they picked us up from the airport in Puebla),
               Elder Westsideguy, Elder Ramirez

                                           That's a river! In fact its a river of sewage


Friday, November 23, 2012

                                   Elder Astle with his mission President and Sister Reeves

Monday, November 19, 2012

Aye mum :)
I love you all so much and miss you all so much. Thanksgiving is going to be so different without me.... It's gonna ROCK!!! :P Wait did thanksgiving already happen? I have no idea... I'm just SUCH a good missionary and SO lost in the work haha (I still cry every night cuz i miss you all)... Anyway, so first things first i'm going to paste the letter i sent to President Reeves this week, it has a story from this week that is really special to me.
Presidente Reeves,
This week has been up and down. We have such good experiences with our investigators and our less active members and I feel so certain they are going to keep their commitments and come to church, and then they don't. I love all of the spiritual experiences I am having, they really make all the hard times worth it. The thing is that I feel like I'm not doing something right. Elder Ramirez and I are trying our best and working so hard, I give it my all every day I feel like, and we keep each other motivated and from being discouraged, but sometimes I feel like I'm holding Elder Ramirez back. I look up to him so much and I know he has so much knowledge and experience and he truly is teaching me so much too. I'm really thankful to have him as my trainer and for his patience. One thing that I wanted to share about this week is that we visited a less active family and the mother was very sick. It was a prompting to Elder Ramirez that we should. We had stopped by the day before but we didnt see her (we didnt know she was sick). She told us the day before that she had been praying for help from Heavenly Father. Whne she was telling us this I had the realization that we were the answer to this Sister's prayer. I don't think that has ever happen to me, with me knowing about it anyway. It really felt so special and amazing to be in the moment where Heavenly Father is using me as an instrument, the thing I pray for every single day. I love the people, I love the mission leaders, I love the work President, thank you for everything you do.
Elder Branden Astle

So that part of the week was really good. Thank you for your letter mom, your Spanish was great :) I can play DVDs but i dont think we can play any dvds that aren't from the church sorry. But we can listen to CDs!! Oh real quick my Christmas list: first off a lot of stuff here is way cheaper than there so if it's ok i would like to just be able to take out some extra money to buy some things here (like an electric razor, honestly shaving takes so much time and those electric ones with the three circles and stuff are super fast i tested one out in the mtc) also i had some other ideas for things to buy here, also could you send me some music like some cd's or something (one in particular is the golden cd that came with Zelda Skyward Sword it's the Zelda soundtrack or something PLEASE send that! I can listen to soundtracks and music that invites the Spirit), you could google "presents for missionaries" or something i dunno. AYE short on time!
It's list time:
-So everyone here loves FLAN! Flan is the most popular dessert. I even saw Jello brand flan mix at the store today haha. At first it got me real sick but now im used to it and its actually pretty good.
-We are visiting a lot of less active members lately, one of our less active member families that we havent been able to contact yet is la familia Mesamundo. I love it because it basically translates into table world, so every time we put their name in our planner i shout TABLE WORRRRRLD!!!
-Could you send me those dates i asked for mom? and also i need some stories about our ancestors please? i dont really have any :(
-The other day we taught la familia Piñan. (pinan with an n-ye) this family is SOOO quiet i loved it. The food was super good that the hermana made for us but the entire time it was so quiet haha I dont really feel awkward in those times so i had fun. It wasnt fun when i showed a magic trick to the daughters who obviously liked the trick but they had no sound in their reaction at all. 

Well interviews with the Mission President are tomorrow wish me luck! I love you all so much. Sorry im out of time! time to go write a hand written letter :)
I love you all... always and foreverrrr (Napoleon Dynamite)
Elder Branden Carl Astle

Elder Astle's new home away from home.
They have these kinds of hedges all trimmed up in different shapes all over the place, the other day I saw one that was a penguin!

Shoe on the right, the beginning of the day, shoe on the left, end of the day!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Just a quick note. Branden said that his Mission President gave him permission to look at his blog today. I don't know if he will be able to again, but I was thinking if you would like to leave a comment he may see it, if not now then definately later!
Elder Astle said that there are beautiful flowers like this one all along the streets in Puebla.
                              Elder Astle said that this was a very cool picture of the inside of his
                           church building taken while he was waiting for some investigators

                                   Elder Astle said that there are dogs on a lot of the roofs!
Elder Astle's Update:
Hi Mum,
I love you and miss you. Our P days are always too short haha So i'm going to kind of have a list again sorry.
So I heard about Obama winning the election, we aren't supposed to talk about politics but the American elections are a pretty big deal here i guess, everyone was talking about it. One of the ladies in our ward said that she is glad that Romney didnt win because if he did win and bad things started to happen the people would blame all the bad on the mormons. So I guess she's kind of right. Mom could you send me a few things? I would like a calendar for 2013 if those exist as some kind of joke :P Also can you send me my line of authority (ask dad) and the date i was baptized and the date I was confirmed. Also please dont send me my watch, it's way too nice and i dont want to ... lose it... haha Also could you have Brian look up or make a good workout for how to tone muscles, specifically thighs, but whole body is good too. I just wanna look like Nephi and Ammon when i get back!!!! So the other day something funny happened. We went to the house of an old investigator. We rang the bell and waited and as i looked over to the window i saw the top half of a little old woman's head peak up and between the blinds and then slowly drop back down like nothing happened. Then we watch as the shadow being cast from a back light onto the door walks up to the door and slowly tries to the lock the door quietly and thereafter we watch the blinds close nice and slowly... visiting houses that are haunted by spirits is weird.. hahaha So something tough about the language: i feel like my language is doing a lot better but every once in a while i find words like "rendir" which means "to conquer" but it also means "to surrender" haha sometimes it's tough, a lot is based on context. The other day we were having a lesson and i look down and see this bug kind of like a cricket thing crawling across the floor followed about a foot behind by a spider with super long skinny legs. The whole time i was picturing the spider roaring like a monster as the other bug is screaming and they are both moving at about .01 miles per hour haha. So something to help me not get bored while walking places is that i snowboard all the time. I use the terrain around me and pretend there is snow and visualize myself doing cool stuff on a snowboard haha it's pretty fun but i miss snowboarding. Also, i am excited to come home and snowboard with dad and nicole and my friends :) Nicole is going to be so good when i get back! I had mole a few times now and it was good but it wasnt like WOW until Saturday we had mole that was WOW it was soooo good.
So the missionary work is pretty tough, not going to lie. A lot of times discouraging things happen, a lot of times. But the important thing that we remember is that we cannot get discouraged and we just need to keep pressing, "seguir adelante!" as they say here. We had a few lessons this week that were really really good. Something important that im learning how to do right now is testifying with conviction. It's so important that i pour my whole soul into my testimony and hold nothing back. That's when I can really invite the Spirit and that is what will do the real work for our investigators. I have to say those times that i have had feeling the Spirit so strong and loving the people so much and wanting them to be happy so bad are some of the best times of my life. I'm so lucky to be here. Those times make all the really hards times worth it. I love it here. I love the people. I love missionary work. I love all of you so much, it's still hurts. I love the Spirit. I love my Father in Heaven and my Savior with everything that I am. Talk to you in a bit,
Love forever,
Elder Branden Carl Astle
Another little note:
So we have only been hearing about the earthquakes but we havent felt anything.
Apparently Elder Astle got a little hungry.....
and a member had something
                                                                  BOA!! Yumm!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sorry everyone, this posting is a day late. Elder Astle told me that he and Elder Ramirez decided to do the emails at 4:00 instead of 9-10:00 am, and I had a little Eloise's second birthday at my house last night so yes, things got a little busy! So here you go:  (the letter is split up into pieces as I was online and kept asking him questions while he was trying to type):
 I got your package! I guess it came in on the 1st of november. its the one with all the candy and peanut butter and nuts and jerky thank you yummmm
Please tell Eloise happy birthday and i love her and i can't wait to see her and that i hope she has fun. also tell her to tell her mommy and daddy that she loves them and to say thank you and smile. She has such a cute smile in those pumpkin patch pictures you sent in the package.
Also everyone read Matthew 13: 53-56 it's SOOOO interesting!
Aye mum,
So yet again, in the ways of my father, i'm at the brink of tears before i really begin. I just miss you all so much and love you all so much, it's pretty tough. So i'll start by answering your questions and then writing about my week and stuff like that. I dont have much time though :( I have not played ping pong yet, que triste. We havent had a chance to visit with that little family and the sister, we went by but they were busy and i guess the people that they share a little area with dont want to be bothered by us coming over so we invited them to meet us at the chapel some time. So we met with Jose Luis twice this past week. He's pretty old and i guess he has a hard time hearing us knocking because his hearing isnt too great but he just installed a door bell so we can come by more often. We also taught a woman named Graciella, she is middle age and lives with her daughter in this little tiny house with one room and a bathroom. She is so amazing though, she wants to feel relief and be happy from her mistakes so much, it makes me so happy to have the Gospel in my life and be able to share it with her. Oh and guess what i invited her to baptism and she said yes and i invited her to be baptized december 7th and she said yes! AND that's her birthday!!! whoooo!!! I'm so excited to be a missionary! I asked the mission president about others sending emails to me but i wont find out until next week. I have not gotten any letters yet, but i did get the dear elders you sent a while back! Those were really good thank you for those. There are probably at least 100 people in our ward, and probably 200 people who are inactive i would guess, that's our main missionary effort right now, reactivation! Happy Birthday Eloise!!!!
So some interesting things about my week!
It will kind of be like a list because i have been jotting down the things i want to write home about.
I found out that Niel A. Maxwell was an astrophysicist!!! That is so totally cool!!!
The other night i was kneeling praying before i got into bed... I fell asleep in under a minute, it's a real tiring work!
Oh mom could you order me 5 pairs of walk socks? they're amazing but i only have a few pairs.
We had some changes in the missionary work in our mission: no tocar puertas y no contactar - basically we dont tract or talk to people on the street or anything anymore, we really need to rely on the members and to do reactivation work.
So food time: Last monday we had american hamburgers... SO GOOD! we have lunch every monday with la familia Balbuena who are an amazing family, and today we had spaghetti and tacos haha lots of people try to make spaghetti here but its so not nearly what yours is mom, i miss yours so much. Last week we had a chili soup with two great big meatballs... the meatballs had boiled eggs inside! yay! ... it was pretty strange, but i guess it could be and will be a lot worse in the future. I had molé! it was pretty good but it wasn't AMAZING. There is this one rich family in our ward and one of the sons takes us out to any restaurant we want twice a month, we went to a pizza and pasta restaurant which was pretty good and REALLY fancy, the crazy thing was that the real "expensive" pasta they had would only be 4 american dollars.
Mom could you send me the words to songs like "if you could hie to Kolob" "Come thou fount" and things like that in a dear elder or in a package? thank you i love you, it's hard without an english hymn book here.
Well i gotta go we are going to go prep for Family Home Evening tonight because we are teaching! and guess what we are teaching the whole ward!!!! I'm kind of freaking out a lot.
I love you all so much, thank you for all your prayers, love, and support.
Elder Branden Carl Astle

 We went to watch a young single adult performance of the life of the savior and the young adults were supposed to bring their non member friends and things like that and we would meet the ones from our area there and get a first little get to know the missionaries thing after the show.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Letter and Pictures From Mexico, Week Two

Hi Mum,

So this week was pretty tough, i went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders, Elder Ramirez is our district leader, i dont remember if i said that.  The exchanges were pretty fun, Elder Gonzalez is from Utah and it was pretty nice speaking in English for a day and a morning.  We did a lot of work, including talking to a man named Victor for the first lesson.  It was crazy because we showed him the picture of Christ when he appeared to the people in the Americas, the one that's in the Books of Mormon, it turned out he had the big version of that picture in his house already! He said it only made sense that Christ would visit the people in America too.  The rest of the week consisted of a lot of work.  A lot of finding new people, trying to talk to every person we could and inviting them to church and stuff and SO much praying.  The last day of the week our prayers were answered and the Lord provided, we found a little family who live in very very humble conditions.  Angelica and Rodrigo are a couple planning on getting married soon and also Angelica's sister Daniela was there.  The family is great and Angelica gets a lotof her faith from the scriptures.  We taught the Plan of Salvation to them and we'll teach the restoration this next time and give them a Book of Mormon, we are very excited.  And Thursday we got money from a sister for lunch because she didnt have time to have lunch with us so we ordered Domino's .... It was amazing i could have eaten 3 pizzas alone.  The food is really good here, but straight up pizza is straight up pizza.  5 minutes left! :( So i love all your letters mom i really do, and anyone else in the family can email me too if they want, that'd be real great. :) I want to hear everything and keep me updated, the story about Sadie really lifted me up today and also Aaron singing too, i can just picture him now on this big stage belting bass opera music haha ok no i cant, Aaron's too cool for that.  I love you all so much, I hope you know that.  I miss you all so much, family and everyone and stuff too, it hurts sometimes right in this one spot just a bit to the left from the centerof my chest.  I love the work though, I'm trying to get lost in it haha.
Love forever,
Elder Branden Carl Astle
                                                   Elder Astle and A Catholic Cathedral
                                                         Another view.....
                                                                more inside.....
                                                           More Inside....
                                                          A Doodle by Elder Astle