Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Aye mum,
I love you. I love my family and my friedns and also my friends haha I didn't mean to do that. I love being a missionary. I also loving camping. D: haha just kidding I'm really happy that you all went, that makes me happy :). Well today I'm super short on time... again. I loved all the pictures you sent mom, seriously. That picture of Kimberly and Eloise standing by Gerle Creek is SO good, it's beautiful. Kimberly is amazing. Super amazing.
Thank you so much for the letter. Unfortunately my letter wont be as great. Haha. ... ha.
This week we went to the office of migration for my companion. Every time that I'm in there I always wonder how many of the other people there can speak English. Probably not many. OH! And when I was in the city for that I found the soap! the soap that I asked you to send me, they just started sending it here to mexico and guess what again! it's only 15 pesos!! that's less than a dollar and fifty sense. whoo!
We were going to have a baptism this last week! ... but... he never showed up. That's always a tough thing. Especially when yo have no way to talk to him to find out why. Finally Sunday he came to church and explained to us that he was in a political office and then a bunch of crazy people surrounded the building and they had to put it all on lockdown and couldn't leave till 10 at night. So we rescheduled for this week! :) yay!
Heavenly Father is perfect. I love Him with my whole heart. I feel myself growing and changing because of Him. I feel I will come home a very different person. I think I might be more quiet. I'm sorry if the parties are still a little more calm when I get home. Oh also, that picture of Brian's room........ HOLY TAMOLY. I thought he was good at art before... Now he's INCREDIBLE!! seriously though, by that I mean I don't believe him.. I think he went and bought a bunch of art from super famous amazing artists and then put it all in his room for that picture. Yep, that's probably what happened. I might be buying a new suit mom, my suit is tearing the legs :( I'm sorry.

I love you forever and time and ... uh huh forever :D
Elder Branden Carl Astle
                                                      Wakie, Wakie Elder Astle!


More Shrimp....yummy!

                                                      Elder Astle brought the juice!
My favorite pix, Elder Astle said that these kids are amazing!

                                                 LOL!! This guy, Elder Vargas, is so serious!

Moses, Elder Astle and Elder Vargas
Happy Elders!

                                                         P-day field trip time!

                                                   Elder Vargas and Elder Astle

                                                Elder Astle at the top of the waterfall!

                                              Elder Chavez and Elder Astle

Group Pix on Pday!

June 17, 2013

Aye mum,
I love you so much, you're the best mom, and dad's the best dad. Happy Father's Day Dad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This week was really great! My new companion. .. . . . . .. .. ELDER VARGAS from the Dominican Republic! His accent is super thick, it sounds awesome but sometimes I can't understand what he says, haha. He is really fun and funny. Oh and guess what!! They changed the area so now we only have one tiny little ward! even smaller!! haha But I love it because it's one of the best wards in the world, next to Loomis 3rd! And we are stilling working hard and having success. Thank you for your email this week mom, it made me pretty happy to hear about Brian, I can't wait to see the video... in a long time haha. I can't wait to meet Sami to be honest, at first I thought it was kind of weird that Brian, my brother and one of my best friends, is getting married but I guess it kind of sunk in. That moose is lucky that it didnt come after Brian or it would have died... lucky moose. I'm so excited to go camping when I get home too, especially when in some number of years when all of us kids go camping with you and dad and our families too.
So this week we had a few miracles. I'll tell you about Jose Franco, he is definitely one of the Lord's prepared children. He loves the Gospel and every time he goes to church he likes it more. He is getting excited to be baptized this saturday too. And Javier!!!!! He moved into our ward finally and Guess what!!!!! He said he's bringing his kids here to Nealtican to live here and they want to hear about the Gospel too!!!!!!! Whooooooooooooooooooooooo! It makes me so excited to meet them because he is so great too.
A few things to share from this week:
- I found my new missionary scripture, 3 Nephi 5 :13 , I don't know if you can change the scripture I have in the church building?
- Elder Vargas Says hi
- The other night I had a crazy dream, but first I'll tell you that the next day Elder Vargas told me that in the middle of the night I was talking in my sleep really loud and I said "PADRE!! Tu sabes que amamos tu evangelio!!" (Father, thou knowest that we love your gospel) hahaha but in the dream I was in a house surrounded by water and a bear was let in, it chased me in the house and I jumped onto a ledge where it couldnt get me and it sat and looked at me and I looked at it and it began to tell me that there were some really important things that I needed to do and change, but the next morning I couldnt remember what it said!! :(
- Saturday night there was a really big earthquake that shook our whole house and everything in it and it woke us up because it was shaking our beds so much. It was awesome.
. Happy Birthday Brian!!!!!! I know it's early but HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY yaaaaaa.... ya :D

I love you mom, I gotta run but thank you for everything! I'll talk to you soon,
Elder Branden Carl Astle

                                              Elder Leifson's Happy Birthday!

 It's custom in Nealtican for the birthday person to take a big bite out of their birthday cake!

                          Elder Astle got "Frostinged" by his new companion Elder Vargas
Elder Bellos, Elder Maelerts, Elder Astle and his new companion Elder Vargas.

Popo looking a little angry and active!

                                                        Elder Astle finds a goose!

                                                   Attack of the coyote.....uh...head?


                                                  Elder Vargas and the Coyote head.

June 10, 2013

Aye mum,
I love you so much, you're the best mom I could ever hope or dream or pray to have. Really. Thank you for being the best, I'll write a little more about that in a second. CONGRATULATIONS AARON!!!!!  Tell Aaron thank you for the email he sent me too, it made me smile and laugh a bunch, it was super cool. I miss Grandpa a bunch too, I pray for him a lot too. Also I yelled "YES!!!!!!" really loud when I read about Bobby going to church. HAPPY BIRTHDAY SADIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love you!!! Mom, you can't tell me you made me a surprise! Now I will be waiting for the next 3 months!
Speaking of the next three months..... Friday I got some good news! I'm just like Kimmy!! I'll be having another baby soon! haha Ok what I mean is that I'll be training again starting tomorrow. It's pretty crazy because not many missionary get picked to train more than once. I feel very very blessed. President, in our meeting for trainers, said that in his mission there was one elder that was a trainer and a district leader, like I am, for his whole mission. He said it was because he was so good at training and helping other missionary. I thought to myself, that would really be the best. Plus it would give me the most amount of "training" to be a real father so I can be the best dad that I can be. Maybe even one day I'll be a father as good as my dad. Maybe. Haha.
Not much more than that to talk about this week though. Oh! So Elder Bello finished his training yesterday and I was thinking about how hard it was at times to be his trainer or his "dad" in the mission. I also thought about how great it was and how it was a huge blessing. I really love him and it makes me so so happy to see the progress he has made. It makes me think about my parents and about how at times it was more than hard to be my parent but how you both still love me and are happy about the good things I do. I love you mom, I love you dad. I feel like I understand a little bit more how you feel maybe like 0.5% of how you feel. Thank you for being the best parents in the world.
Ok, a leaving note. This week i ate. . . . . .Drum roll. . . . . Goat stomach!!! And I LIKED it! it was a little hard to swallow ... and chew.. but it tasted good!!
Ok I gotta run, I love you all so much and miss you all so much too.
Elder Branden Carl Astle

                                                               Elder Astle's Desk

                                                             A Nealtican sunset....

June 3, 2013

Aye mum,
I love you so much. I miss you too. I love dad. I miss dad too. I love my brothers and miss them. I miss my sisters and love them. I love and miss my nieces and nephews and all my family and my friends. I love being a missionary too. To be honest this week was tough, I might have talked about it in the last letter but sometimes I get sad that the mission will eventually end. There is nothing like being completely dedicated to Heavenly Father and helping His children come unto Him and Christ. There's hard parts. There's sad parts. There's so many happy parts. I can't hold back the tears when I think of how many happy parts there are. I'm so blessed, and I will give praise to my Father forever. I have something really special to tell you this week but I'll respond to your letter first mom.
I miss the girls so much, I'm glad I'm going to have another one growing up when I get home too. I can't wait to meet Eloise again, if you know what I mean. Thank you for telling me about the testimonies mom, especially about Whitney, she is amazing. I didn't know Courtney was getting married!!! I also know that Dad and Aaron are angels. I really really REALLY want to know how they are hiding their wings. I like that idea of going to yellowjacket, I have so many good memories from there. The picture of Bobby and Ross and Jeremy was great, Bobby looks the best out of the three of them haha don't tell them I said that! :P I CAN believe that Brian paints so fast, he's a genius remember? Also, the hurricane came in a little bit and we went out and worked and I put on that super giant jacket for the first time! It's big enough to cover me and my backpack so it will be perfect for raining days! Because I don't like using para aguas i don't remember how you say that in english. No wait it's umbrella!
Ok so this week was really good. I can't believe my little new missionary son is getting ready to finish his training, I can't say it was east but I learned a lot too. This week I pretended to be a new missionary to help Elder Bello see what he should improve on and it went great. We also had a leadership training meeting and a big part was Presidente Lopez talking about being positive and how, no matter what, we cant let bad or negative thoughts into our minds. I was afraid of maybe ending up being prideful but as I began applying the principles I just feel happy and positive about the future and I know more and more that Heavenly Father loves me.
Some points
- The members feed us so much here, it's ridiculous, we will leave our lunch appointment stuffed and go and teach and always before we leave the people will offer us food, fresh mangos every day isn't so bad though haha 
- The Hermana Justa is incredible. A few months ago she was going through cancer therapy. She was so sad and was in pain a lot and wasn't allowed to go outside except to go to the doctor. We went and visited her for the first time a few months ago and before we left she asked for a blessing. I gave her a blessing. I said that everything would pass and she would be happy. That was three months ago. Yesterday she came to church with her bandana on and her hair, about 2 or 3 inches long, poking out the sides. She said she wanted to come to church to much, her doctor gave her permission to leave again, she actually said her first question was if she could go to the temple. She's amazing. She was afraid the sisters in the ward might start saying things about her and she would feel bad. Friday and Saturday we went around we a bunch of the sisters in the ward and had them go and invite her to come to church. Fast and testimony meeting was great as the sisters bore their testimonies about how the hermana Justa is such a good example of faith. Seeing the tears on her face filled my heart. I feel happy mom. I love being a missionary.
I love you mom,
Talk to you soon,
Elder Branden Carl Astle
                       Apparently these Elders saw a couple of other Elders posing for a funny pix,
                        well it made them laugh!

         Elder Astle's first companion, Elder Ramirez' two years have ended and he is    heading home..Elder Astle's former companion, Elder Knowlton peeking from behind.

                      Elder Astle finds a heart shaped rock in Nealtican for his mama!

                     So Elder Astle and his companion were apparently adopted by a dog that
                            they have named "The Problem"

           The Problem follows them to appointments and even waited outside their apartment
                          throughout the night during a storm.

                                               Yes, he even followed them to church!

                                          The next week...guess who snuck into church....

                                           A Hurricane came pretty close to Nealtican.

                                                          Yes, just some rain....

May 27, 2013

Aye mum,
Hey mom I love you. This week was really good and really hard for a couple reasons. First, this is another subject, the computer that I'm using is pretty old so there will probably be a lot of spelling errors and I porbably wont be able to send fotos today. First I'll respond to your letter k? This week did go fast, all the weeks are going fast, way too fast, I'll talk more about that in a bit. You guys never wanted to buy pest control when I tried selling it to you!! Haha thank you for not buying it from me. I'm glad to hear that Taylor is doing well. I'm sorry to hear about your tooth, I still love you though no matter what! You're now my mer (I took out the t h and o out of mother because you need those to spell tooth). I'm so proud of dad, he is super great, but I mean really really really super great, like the best dad ever, except not LIKE the best dad ever, just THE best dad ever. Mom I can't make a list of the favorite people in our ward, I love everyone from our ward so much it would be way too hard to pick one or a few. They are all my family forever and I can't pick brothers and sisters that I like more than the others. Everyone's unique and perfect the way God made them. Thank you for sending me a package!!! And yes the mission office will always be the best. Elder Bello is doing really well, he is almost done with his training! My little baby is growing up! Thank you for telling me about Bobby, he is such a hard worker and has always been a good example to me in that way. Sending me pics of the wedding tooooooooo! I love what Aaron said about the taco burrito (actually, maybe it's better not to tell him this but taquito means little taco, when you put the ending -ito on a word it means little (that thing) for example misionero, missionary... misionerito, little missionary) Aaron really is a genius though, I'll also talk a little bit more about that in a bit. I agree with Kimberly except for when talking about me, I'm just average and really I'm not very smart, sometimes maybe I'll sound smart but it's only because Heavenly Father blesses me so much. I want to be smart, maybe one I will be, but for now I only want to be someone that Heavenly Father can trust. I love my Heavenly Father. He's the smart one.
Ok I'll tell you about my week. First, today we went to the ancient mayan pyramid in Cholula, we went through the tunnels and everything! But the computers broken so I cant send pictures. It was pretty cool and pretty old, its the old pyramid that the catholics covered up with dirt and put a catholic church on top of.
In my district meeting this week one of the themes I chose to talk about was Charity. I started out by showing pictures of my family and after the second one I started crying a bunch (I'm crying thinking about it now). I went through and talked a little about my family and how much I love everyone, I decided to talk about Aaron. I talked about how he is incredibly intelligent and talented. He also has some challenges in his life that I can't imagine having. But even with all of his intelligence and challenges, he isn't prideful and he is one of the most humble and kind people I have ever met. I then talked about how I would do anything for him, especially if it meant his salvation. I would give anything and everything I have to make sure that he was happy and we were going to live as an eternal family. I turned from that to how we need to strive to love the people around us (our other brothers and sisters) like we do our families. I thought it went well, I hope it did, I don't know if they understood me much through my tears.
Ok now something funny, we had a ward activity in church the other day about family history. The teacher played the video about how to index and the theme music started in and it was the theme music to Halo, I started laughing and everyone looked at me funny haha ok not everyone.
Finally, we are working with 2 less actives, Angel and Guille. They are super great. Angel has gone to the United States a few times and has some stories. Anyway, we are teaching them the message of the Restoration and they really are participating a lot. They have their testimonies in them, we are just helping them look for them. It's amazing mom, to see people start to feel the Holy Ghost again in their life and to see them and experience with them the uncovering of their testimony.
Mom, I love you and I miss you and i love and miss everyone. Those feelings are keeping me from being sad lately. It's because I had a couple dreams lately where I was finishing my mission and when I woke up in the morning I felt so sad. I'm not even half way yet but I never want my mission to end. It's the best experience I ave had in my life and it makes me sad that one day it will have to end. One thing's for sure though, I will always be a missionary.
I love you so much mom, sorry this letter is SUPER long.
Talk to you soon,
Elder Branden Carl Astle

                   A pix just for mom, because he said, Mom like pictures of me! He's right!

                            He said they have been getting all of the free mangoes they want!
Visiting ancient mayan ruins and our "Where's Wald.... I mean Elder Astle Pix?"

                                         Elder Leifson, Elder Astle, Elder Bellos......

                                                Elder Leifson outside of ruins

                                               Anceint Mayan staircases

                                               Tunnel inside of pyramid

                                                  A beautiful pix of the area

May 20, 2013

Aye mum,
I love you so much. Your letter made me cry a couple of times, thank you. :) Well I have pretty much no time this week, my pictures pretty much sum up the cool parts as far as adventuring goes. Basically this week we kept working hard and I'm trying especially hard to show my companion that I love him and I love Heavenly Father. I can honestly say I love Heavenly Father and my Savior with everything I am. Ok I gotta go through my list, sorry this one's so short!
- Every morning one of the houses near our house now plays "soulja boy" "youuuuuuuu"
- Its been raining a whole lot here, I love it, especially falling asleep listening to rain but it's not so fun when Lightning strikes right over our heads.
That's basically it :( I'm sorry I love you so much i really do, we were just at the ruins and aqueducts for a really long time.
To be honest your letter really touched my heart mom, thank you.
I'll talk to you soon, I love you
Elder Branden Carl Astle

                                                Playing soccer in the streets!

Elder Astle and Elder Bellos on a rainy day

                                 A couple of sisters making dinner in Nealtican

                                         Elder Astle says that he found "Babe!"

                                            Standing below an ancient aquaduct

                                                           An Old Castle/Church

                                            The group pix at the old castle/church

                                                     Popocatepetl hiccups

                                                         A GIANT Aloe Vera plant!

                                                              Walking the aquaduct

                                                 Ancient writings hmmmm....

                                        View form the top of the aqueduct.

                                                             Ancient castle/church

                                            P-Day hiking trip up to an ancient castle/church