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

Monday, August 26, 2013

August 26, 2013 WARNING: Some photos may be hard for some to look at!

Aye mum,
I love you. Thank you for being the best mom. Thank you for believing in me so much. I miss you and love and miss everyone at home so much. I love the people here so much too. I have to be honest mom, I forgot your letter from last week at home and can't really remember the notes I put. I do remember one thing. I have to tell you mom, you will always be smarter than me. I'm so happy I can say that too. I have parents who are very very intelligent and wise and I will always be grateful for that. This letter will be shorter to be honest. We went and played soccer in a little mountain village really close to the volcano today and got back a little late. Please forgive me? Next week I'll write a better letter for sure.
Well as you know, I ate crickets this week. A few times actually. They taste pretty good. They just fry them up and serve them with salt or with lemon juice and salsa. The ones with lemon juice actually taste pretty good. Although picking the little legs out of my teeth wasn't very great. Also the cricket flavor that stays in your mouth until the next day is kind of weird too.
The other day, we had another earthquake. There was two or three this week. They're little ones though, well there was a bigger one too. It was funny as we were studying and we felt it and i asked my companion "do you feel that?" and he says "ya it feels cool" ... and we went on studying as the earthquake passed. I was thinking of that and about how the Spirit works. Right now in the mission we have higher senses of feeling the Spirit I feel like. It feels amazing to be able to receive and follow impressions from the Spirit every day. It's one of the reasons I don't want the mission to end. I love being a missionary so much. One of the best feelings I have ever had in my life is acting on a spiritual prompting and later finding out that it was the answer to someone's prayer. I know I'm still lacking in many places but I will become better, I want to reach my potential so much. I love you mom, I'll talk to you next week,
Elder Branden Carl Astle

This is a delicacy here in Mexico. It is a fungus found on corn.
Oh YUM, fried crickets!! Will he eat them??? 
Oh.... you bet he will!
 And he was my pickiest eater!

He had to send some proof!

He said that these guys like it a little more than he does!

Here is our weekly "Where's Elder Astle pix!" They spent the day sweeping and cleaning the streets.
On the way back!

 Elder Tanner bought everyone PIZZA!
The best pix...a couple gets baptized!
Elder Astle says that these catapillars are all over Mexico and if they touch
 your skin you will break out in a painful rash!

August 19, 2013

Aye mum,
I love you so much mom, I'm so thankful that I have you as my mom and not anyone else. You're the perfect mom for me and I wouldn't trade you for any other mom ever. Thank you for loving me so much. I miss you so much. I'm sorry I didn't cry more when I said goodbye at the MTC, because now all I do is cry when I write to you. I love my family so much and miss them so much. I'm so grateful for every single person in my family and all my friends. Thank you all for putting up with me so much. I'm sorry I wasn't better, I will be from here on out. I need a mom hug a lot right now... Well, I'm going to write about the letter from last week. You told me about the stories that Bobbi Pilcher told from her mission and that was cool, the part where you said the guy said he quit drinking and he said yes because he drank it all last night, that part made me laugh a bunch. Oh and the story you told about the girl in the car accident and the guy who showed up out of nowhere, that was a nephite, he told me yesterday that it was him ;) ok not really :P You also asked me if to me the time goes by fast or slow. Well I would first say that I'm so lost in time that this just is my life and I love being a missionary, but if I had to pick fast or slow I would say that it's going by too fast. I just love being a missionary so much and dedicating myself to the Lord that I never want it to end. Also you said that you were watching my youtube videos and I want you to tell me if there is anything inappropriate or not very nice in the videos I want to take it down, I don't want to be remembered like that you know?
This week was good and tough and all over the place. I don't really know what to write to be honest. A lot of things happened but really they're very long stories or personal things of other people. OH! I got sick again! whoo! Also on Friday, Elder Martinez from the Quorum of the Seventy came and spoke to us and trained us. It was really good and he was really great and it was just a feeling of happiness to be around him. I also had a funny idea. There's a mormon message called Earthly Father Heavenly Father and I thought it would be hilarious if we did a remake of that video but with adult kids, I was thinking of us and you and dad for example haha. Maybe it wouldn't be so funny... Something that I saw this week was a family having a trouble. Two solutions were presented, one was that they keep trying the best they can to resolve everything and the other was just to leave the problem and go in another direction. I thought to myself "when we have problems like these and solutions are presented we should consider which of the options would be a more hopeful response?" I think it would help us a lot. I love you mom, Thank you for everything,
Always your grateful son,
Elder Branden Carl Astle
I can't believe it's been one year already!
He said at 6 months it's cutom to burn a tie, at one year a shirt, at 18 months a pair of pants and at two years a suit. He told me this is the last thing he will burn, If you know Elder Astle then you know burning a shirt wasa very hard for this thrifty young man!
It's burnt!

This is a road?!

Found a puppy!!

August 12, 2013

Aye mum,

I love you, thank you for being my mom. Thank you for taking care of me when I was sick. Thank you for coming to my patriarchal blessing and always supporting me in righteous paths. Thank you for teaching us by example. Thank you for loving us with everything you are. I know you do. I hope to love, one day, like you and dad love us. I will do my best.
Well I'm going to respond to your letter from last week. First though I loved the pictures this week. The picture of matthew with the caption you put with it made me laugh so much. I love matthew. Well you told me about how the Fardos's are going to move. You told me that their new bishop will be Bishop Latham, said "nooooo" out loud because I thought you meant our bishop, then I read more. Also you said to tell Elder Vargas hi, he says he sends a hug and a kiss for everyone, haha. The most important part about the letter was that you ate brownies .... we get to eat brownies once or maybe twice a year when Hermana Reeves makes us one single tiny brownie each. I miss brownies. I love and miss everyone from home so much.
So I got sick again. Real sick. I had a 104 fever and as we were walking back to the house so that I could sleep I saw an hermano sorting beans. Well I couldn't say no, even though I felt like I was going to die. I separated beans for 30 minutes in a boiling hot sun. Hey now I'm better and I still get the blessings! Well the next day I had to go buy drugs. I had to start talking a bunch of pills. The doctor said I had to take tylenol and guess what, a box of tylenol costs 50 cents! That's low right?
Mom I was wondering if you could send me Nichelle's address? I want to write them all a letter. Thank you.
Yesterday I had a super special experience. Elder Vargas hadn't received his patriarchal blessing so we went to Patriarch Osorio's office yesterday. He sends his regards. Patriarchs are some of the best people I have ever met. I wanted to be a patriarch for a long time but now I realized I have to be a lot better than I am now if I want to be a patriarch. Well I will just tell you that when he started to give the blessing it was awesome. All of a sudden the air got really heavy and it became heavy to breathe, but it was a calm heavy and felt awesome because I knew it was the Spirit being poured out upon the patriarch. One thing he told me that I like a lot is that in any relationship we have, in the mission or in marriage, or with kids three things are key. 1. Patience 2. Admitting who is right 3. Communication. He really inspired me a lot.
Oh one little note, have aaron and brian and maybe kimmy and bobby would like it too, have them look up "imagine dragons" a missionary told me it's a really good band from utah.
I gotta run but I love you mom, thank you for everything,
Elder Branden Carl Astle

"THE PROBLEM" He just will not leave their side

I guess he'll have to join them!
Elder Leifson is going home

Wait...that makes them sad...

Aye mum,
I love you. Thank you for being my mom. Thank you for loving me so much too. I love everyone at home. I have some bad news. I forgot what I printed out last week in the house so I wont be able to write back to it. But hey that's good right? Now you don't have to spend so much time reading my lame emails, haha. Hey I have to tell you, "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy" is one of my favorite hymns now.... because I love the Spanish version haha but the english version too! Listen here: https://www.lds.org/youth/music?lang=eng
Want to hear something crazy? I ate a hamburger the other day with onions and tomatoes and loved it... I really am changing, haha. Oh hey have Brian and Aaron and Bobby and Kimmy look up the song "Ezio's Family" It's not mission appropriate but I heard it from an elder in my district this week and I was like "whaaaaaaaaaaa?!?!?! THATS AMAZING!!!!" I love it... and then I told him he should think about taking it off his ipod, haha. So i went to the doctor's office again this week! But this time to get the "don't come back you DARN TOE NAIL" surgery. I think it went well, I have high hopes that I wont have to go to the doctor's again. It hurt more this time though. Oh also, I forgot to tell you mom that I never bought a new suit. I really was going to but then I decided I'll just keep the one I have and it will be fine. But I might need new shoes :( I walked a big hole into the bottom of my shoes and well... that's not good. But I'll let you know what happens with that.
Well just one quick thing. I have been praying a lot lately. I love my Heavenly Father so much. I pray to have my understanding opened. I feel little by little I am learning. I feel like I'm getting better. I hope I'm better when I get home. I hope I'm making you all proud of me. It's hard sometimes when we stop having success, or just hard or empty days I guess you could say. I try so hard to invite the Spirit. I pray for it so many times a day. Yesterday we found a less active hermano before we went to church. He said he wasn't going to go to church and we explained that's not what God wants for him but it's what Satan wants. All of a sudden I was filled with the Spirit and I knew with all certainty that he was feeling the Spirit in that moment. I told him that I knew he could feel and that Spirit became even stronger. It really was one of the first time the Spirit has worked inside me like that, I don't know how to describe it well. I just knew, I had zero doubt, that he was feeling the Spirit. I know there is so much power in prayer. I hope you are all saying family prayers, I hope you and dad are praying together, and I hope everyone is saying their personal prayers in the morning and night. God wants to hear from us so much.
I love you all so much, Thank you for being my family and friends,
Elder Branden Carl Astle


YES..... Another Heart shaped Rock for Mom!

Sun ring thing

Toe surgery......again!

A families front door

Finally...Elder Astle makes friends with the PROBLEM!

Graffiti...Nealtican Style!

HAPEE BERTHDAR AREM! (Aaron) ... now shave that beard! No, not like that! (Aaron will get it)

Branden Astle
Jul 29
to me
Aaron, that was a reference to the t shirt that showed a guy with a unibrow and someone says shave that unibrow! And he shaves the sides and they say no not like that!!! Haha that still makes me laugh. So don't shave your heard and leave the beard haha oh and put your mission papers in! whoo! I always tell people I have a little brother leaving on the mission soon and I want to tell them where. I also don't want to have to wait too long to see you again man. :/
Love you, Elder Astle

Aye mum,
I love you! A lot! I love everyone from home so much. I love everyone here too. I love being a missionary. Even when it's hard. I'm also happy because I won first place in a hill race this morning, haha. But it cost me a little bit of blood. I wrote more in the letter I wrote to Nicole today, ask her what happened when she gets the letter in about 2 months. This week was good and tough and stuff. It's hard when my ward is as long as Old Orchard Lane, only with more people packed in. I love it though and I'm not complaining, it's just even more of a chance to prove how great God is and how much He is working with us. I wanted to write about your letter from last week real quick. You talked about Aaron's patriarchal blessing and how amazing it was and everything, but mom I have been telling you all for some time now that Aaron is going to be a prophet so it doesn't surprise me too much that is was so amazing. Aaron is one of the best people I know. Brother Reed is also one of the best examples we have in the ward. He has so much patience it's incredible and he loves being young. You also talked about Lila and I saw the picture of everything. Thank you for sending me pictures, she looks ridiculous.. ... ... *breath* ... ..ly cute! I can't believe she will already be more than a year old when I get home! What day was she born on? her birthday? (that's what it's called right?) Her name is super cool too. All the girls' names are so cool! My kids are going to have better names though... Optimus Prime, Hulk, Iamlegend, all the coolest names. Oh mom you also look really good! Seriously you have lost a lot of weight, I'm so proud of you! Dad looks like he has too! In the picture where he is holding Lila and has the visitor's patch on he looks skinnier, and also a ton like Granpa! But it's good because he's still really handsome. ;)

This week in our district meeting I made up and example to teach the Sacrament. I filled a glass cup with water and then put in a bunch of Mio to make it look contaminated. I started pouring in pure water and explained to them as we put in more and more pure water the contamination is kicked out and falls out. The pure remains. In the sacrament we are putting the body and blood of Christ in us and among many other effects we are cleansed and the impurities are cast out. It's so important that we don't miss taking the Sacrament EVERY week. I love taking the Sacrament.

I'll write back to your letter from this week next week k?
Well to wrap it up I'll send a list of things:
- I'll admit it.... The picture of Sammi and Brian is pretty cool.
- Look up Acts 18:3 and look at the last footnote (aaron will get it)
- 2 New elders got added to my district so now there's 8 elders!!
- I ate Mole the other day that tasted like a campfire... campfire tastes delicious.


I love you mom, I'll talk to you soon, I'm so grateful to be your son
Elder Branden Carl Astle


                                               A heart shaped Walnut!

Do you see that house we are going to visit?  Either do I!

Lost in the corn field....again! 

Family Home Evening!! (I have no idea what they're doing?)

I don't know what was more scary, the spider or the electrical job with the tape!
Sunset...Nealtican Style!


July 22, 2013

Aye mum,
I love you. I love your letters so much. The letter from last week was great, thank you so much. Well this week I'm burning through my emails because I washed my blankets by hand and i put them on the roof to dry and it just started raining a little bit ago :( I might sleep without blankets... we'll see! So this week we got news on changes! I have been in Nealtican for almost 6 months now and .... I'll be staying! At least until I have 7 and a half. I love it though, this is one of the best places to be, for me. Also Elder Vargas will be staying with me still too. I'm pretty excited.
There's a drink here. It's called Atoli. It's INCREDIBLE. The first time I drank it I got super sick but now I drink it all the time and i love it so much.
Oh and guess what! It STILL rains every day! Sometimes more and sometimes less but every day it rains. It's pretty cool because the mornings are bright and clear and the afternoon is kind of a cool cloudy ... -ness. I love it.
Well sorry this letter is kind of lame. We are still doing a lot of work and teaching a bunch. It's kind of hard, I want to tell you all some things but they're things kind of hard. Some people are surprisingly hard to help I guess you could say. Oh! I got another ingrown toenail and got it taken out! :D
I love you mom,
Next week I'll write a better letter! HOW'S THE BABY?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

I need to know,
Love you,
Elder Branden Carl Astle

                            A familia's home. Elder Astle was interviewing their daughter for baptism
                                          Afterwards there was some celebrating in the rain!

                                                                      and it rained.......

                                             and rained.....until it damaged the roads                       
     AND our weekly "Where's Elder Astle?" Pix