Monday, March 31, 2014

First Week Down

Dear my family,

I haven't written you all in so long it seems but I hope today will clear a lot of your questions up of how Bolivia is. Well, first off let me tell you the story of getting to Bolivia. So lets rewind several days to my last day in the CCM. After gym we went to a meeting about all of the missionaries flights. And the Santa Cruz missionaries found out that they were leaving in 2 hours. We had to eat dinner still, pack completely, and have a 30 minute meeting with president Dyer! SO that alone was a little stressful but that all went fine. We got to the airport and got on a plane to La Paz. Our flight was at 10 pm and we didn't get to La Paz until 3 in the morning, which was so exhausting. Then our next flight was not until 8 am that same morning so we had a long layover in the La Paz airport which was hardly an airport. More like a bus stop for airplanes. So we hung out until around 6 when the check in counter opened again so we could check our baggage. But, to our surprise something had gone wrong with our flight and we had a ticket from Santa Cruz to La Paz not the other way around. So that was a problem. With my broken Spanish I found out that the church had booked our flights backwards so I called the Mission office here in Santa Cruz to ask them what to do. They called the travel agency that the church uses and sent us some help. Things were fixed, but the next flight to Santa Cruz wasn't until 12 pm so we had another 7 hours to sit and do nothing. Luckily the travel agency had this tiny room up stairs with a small couch and a lot of floor space so I went and slept on the floor for several hours. Well more just dozed off. We got on our flight to Santa Cruz which was only about an hour and we met president and hermana Williard there. That was such a relief!! We met the APs and Pres. secretaries and then we drove around Santa Cruz for a while until we got to the mission office. We had interviews, ate pizza, which was so good, and took pictures for our passports. We then went to a small restaurante for dinner and then we stayed in a Hotel that night (Martes). The hotel was ridiculously nice. No a/c but still waaay nicer compared to the other places we could have stayed in. Then the next day was all immigration stuff. Taking our blood, signing a million papers, and driving all over the city. It was pretty boring and long. We stayed in the hotel again that night (Miercoles) then on Jueves we met our Trainers in the morning and went into the field right after lunch! 

My trainer's name is Elder Chavez and he has been on a mission for 22 and a half months. He knows what he's doing. I'm sad though that he's leaving after this area because usually you are with your trainer for 2 cambios. He is teaching me so much. And he's kind of a neat freak, which is nice. The first thing we did when we got to our house was clean because neither of us could stand how dirty the other missionaries had kept it. But our area is La Merced. Its huge. And I've never seen living conditions like this, or even imagined a place like this before. No paved roads, all mud and dirt, not a single shower with hot water, not a single kitchen that isn't outside over a fire, not a single yard without a line for clothes, and not a single family who doesn't own a million stray dogs and cats and chickens, all very underfed and skinny. We live in a mansion and I feel like I'm camping. We have 4 rooms. 1 with 2 desks and 2 chairs. One with 2 beds, one with an electric table top stove with 2 burners and a mini fridge, and a bathroom with a spigot coming out of the wall for a shower. Oh, and no flushing toilets. Its just so strange to me. A culture shock if there ever was one. I can't send pictures right now, but today I am going to buy a usb adapter so I can send some next week. 

Its such a different culture, but the members are amazing. Our first day we walked and walked and walked. Well, we do every day, but we went and taught lessons that night. My Spanish is non existent it feels like. I can't carry any normal conversation at all. My Spanish in lessons is okay but I can't understand hardly anyone except Elder Chavez. I know it will get better but its so hard to keep my spirits up when I'm not talking to anyone. But its cool to me that when I talk out loud in English, which is hardly ever, it sounds weird, and wrong. But I'm learning little by little. Answering the phone is the worst of all. SOOOOO hard to understand members when they call us. 

2 lessons that have been so powerful. 1 with an Hermana named Marsalina. She is about 40 years old and talks super soft but is a reference from a member. We went and introduced ourselves and she let us come and sit in her yard. We started talking with her and then the lesson was over. It was weird. I couldn't remember really what had happened or how the lesson went. I just knew we had invited her to church, to read the LDM (Book of Mormon), and to pray. Afterwards Elder Chavez told me how powerful the lesson was and I was still kind of confused. I taught part of the lesson with perfect Spanish he said. Every word he said was correct and he was just shocked. As was I! The gift of tongues is real. The lord blesses his servants when they need it and let me tell you, I need it all the time because I know nothing out here. 

The 2nd lesson was yesterday afternoon with a contact from a 15 year old. His name is Raul and we went and introduced ourselves to him and it turns out his wife had just left him 3 or so weeks ago and he was having a super hard time. He was in tears when we were telling him that through the Evangelio of Jesucristo we can all be helped in our lives with whatever problem we have. It was such a powerful lesson and he was the first person to accept my Baptismal invitation. He is preparing to be baptized with him and his 2 kids at the end of April. Miracles happen. And I can't even tell you all of them from the past few days because there have been so many. I love it here. But at times I feel like I'm never going to make it. But then I think of the love of the Lord and realize its all worth it!

A few other things that I forgot to mention. Here the Bolivians say "super" in front of things when they are really emphasizing a word like "Super bien" or "super rico" is super funny to me! Becuase they don't know what super means. I asked E Chavez and he said its because of Super Man so it makes a little more sense now. Also, can I mention the amount of mosquitos? Swarms. I think Im 20 pounds lighter because they've eaten so much of my blood. Also, I wake up every morning with sweat pooled around me because its so hot. Also, when it rains, everything is a swamp and there are more mosquitos!! We had to wear rain boots all day for the past couple days because of the amount of mud. We have gotten stuck several times. Also the snails. Think of the giant snails in Houston and then imagine them way bigger. That's what they have here. Crazy. Also the food is so good. Meat every meal. The best Beef, Brisket, Chicken, everything I've ever had. Also lots of rice and bread. But I seriously love it all. Oh, and for dessert they usually drink soda. Crazy amount of diet coke, sprite, apple soda, you name it, they have it. Oh and things are crazy cheap compared to the US. I can buy a bag of rolls for about 75 cents. (5 or 6) bolivianos. Oh, and its hot. Did I mention that? Oh, and there are a ton of cute kittens... everywhere. And a crazy amount of chickens roaming the streets... and horses too. And cows. And its hot. 

I love it here. I miss you all but, here is a new home for me. Well for 2 years at least! I pray for you always. I love to hear from you and I love getting emails. My pdays are on Mondays and I write from 10:30 to 1200 my time. I'm not sure when that is for all of you. My comp is awesome, my President is more awesome and the mission Santa Cruz is the best. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Gehring

ps: Deben mandar paquetes solo por el servicio nacional de correos del Estados Unidos. (USPS) Deben enviarlos (paquetes y cartas) a la dirección: 

Elder Gehring
Mision Bolivia Santa Cruz
Casilla de Correo 2042
Zona Central 
Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz

Es muy muy muy importante que haya el titulo Elder antes de Gehring. 
También, no deben utilizar FedEx. Nunca nunca nunca!!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Hey so I literally have 3 minutes. but im here in Bolivia. im alive and i made it! Its hot and Its exciting. the president and his wife are awesome. Ill give you details later!! Love you lots

Elder Gehring

Friday, March 21, 2014

The last days in the CCM

Hola Familia!!

I have a ton to write this week and its going to be all over the place as far as topics and stories go. I've started keeping a small notebook of things thoughout the week that I want to share with you all so all my stories will be chronological not by event. If that makes any sense at all. Also, sorry for my spelling. It is the worst now that I am half way into Spanish. And especially this week where I've had a Latin comp the whole time!

So I guess thats where I can start. Last Wed I got a Latin Comp!!!! Elder Arcaya is from La Paz Bolivia and is the coolest. The first couple days he was super shy but we couldn't be better friends now. He tells me all about Santa Cruz, that everything is green, its crazy hot, there are bugs everywhere and it rains one month of the year. Hes 22 years old and is a super awesome missionary. Everything is different with a Latin District (I'm the only English speaker) and a Latin comp. I can now understand most everything and I'm getting way better, after just a week of only Spanish, of coming up with things to say. I leave Tuesday for the field and I owe Elder Arcaya my life for helping me get ready to be out in the real world.

Okay tons of cool stuff this week. Number one. Hard Boiled Eggs. I have learned a brilliant way to take the shell off an hard boiled egg with out getting a ton of tiny pieces. I'll have to remember to take pictures of how to do it. But basically you make two holes on either end of the egg and blow into one end and the egg flys out. I have no idea how, but it is awesome. Okay, Venezuelans. There are 6 Venezuelans in my District and they have the hardest Spanish to understand. they don't say any of their ´s´´ so mas o menos sounds like ma o meno which makes trying to understand them really really hard. Also everyone here wants to learn English. Everyone. Well the Latins. The funniest thing is when they try to say the word ´Objective´ because they can't do it. I have no idea why. They just can't! Also another funny thing about the Latins is they love the series Twilight. I've had several of them ask me if I like it and then they explain to me that its the most beautiful Love story they've ever heard, seen, or read. I laughed pretty hard at that one. The Elders in my district are me, Arcaya, La Torre, Castillo, Bellorin, Henriquez and the Hermanas are Ramos, Mamani, and Morales. They are all great. We all have become super close. 

Oh! I gave a talk on Sunday which was quite the experience. All in Spanish of course and it was on the Earthly ministry of Christ. I feel like I did an alright job, and I've learned that even when I'm speaking in another language, its hard for me to only give a 4 minute talk which is what it was supposed to be. We also had the amazing opportunity to have a group of Primary kids come to the CCM on Saturday. I got to be the pianist for the entire program. They came and sang for us and then they had a whole devotional by president Dyer which was so amazing. There was this one little boy who came and sat by me at the piano and asked why I had a pencil behind my ear. I told him it was so I could always be ready to take notes and he thought that it was weird. Then he asked me if he could have it so he could have it on his ear. He was 8 years old and probably the cutest kid I've ever seen. Except for Melanie, Ethan, and Carly of course. 

We also got to go to the temple twice since I last wrote. And I had the amazing opportunity to go with Elder Bellorin as he went to the Temple for the first time. An opportunity I may not get again until I have a son. The temple is such a wonderful place and it kills me to know that today was the last time I'll get to go for 2 years. But I'll be doing the work of the Lord still so its okay! We also went street contacting again which was a much better experience this time in that I didn't get lost in the middle of the city. We met so many awesome people! One guy named Jose got super mad at me because he honestly believed that the US is invading Colombia, taking away the spanish culture and forcing the English language on everyone. I laughed a little seeing that I'm here learning Spanish.. not teaching English. We met a lot of really religious people who thanked us over and over again for the work we are doing. It was such a neat experience. 

OH! So I heard a joke this week. Did you hear about the man with the Book of Mormon in his front pocket when he got robbed? He was shot, but the bullet hit the Book of Mormon and stopped at the Isaiah chapters. Also this week we had a health class about what to avoid in the field. Not very exciting except I got a kick out of one of their `suggestions` The slide show said `Avoid eating raw meat` I mean really? You don't say? haha. Oh, and they have a candy here that tastes like those Cherry Halls. It was weird. I ate it and felt like I was eating a cough drop. I guess thats good to them. The latins also ask me to translate some pretty weird stuff for them. Like the other day my comp asked me to translate `I want to crawl` which was super strange to me. I have no idea where he came up with that. And they also asked me what it means when you make air quotes with your fingers. That was super hard to explain in Spanish! 

This week I came to realize how important `El papel del Espìritu Santo en la conversiòn` is. We spent a long time the other day focusing only on having the spirit in lessons. This is so cool to me because of the language barrier I run into every time I teach. It doesn't matter how well I teach a lesson. If the Spirit is there, the person can learn and still come closer to the Savior. Which in the end is our main purpose as missionaries. I have learned that the only way to have that spirit in my lessons is having effective study sessions with my comp and by myself. If I'm prepared I know I'll be able to teach with the power and authority of God. I know this can apply to my teaching but also to any aspect of anyones life. In a job, in school, in families, in making decisions, in everything. If you do your part to study and pray and have a desire to have the Holy Ghost, the Lord will do the rest. 

I love and miss you all! Hurrah For Israel! 

Èlder Gehring

These are the North Americans.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Our 4 week tour


Today was pday again and it was a little different than the past ones. First off we got to go to the temple again which was amazing. It was so much easier to understand it in Spanish with it only being the 2nd time. Then we got to eat in the temple which was cool and then we got to get a tour of the whole temple. The baptismal font was amazing. The temple president explained to us the symbolism in the oxen, and several other parts of the temple. It was amazing. 

Then for the pday part of the day Hermana Gibbs, Ence and I went on our 4 week tour. We had no idea where we were going at first, they just told us to get in the van. Then we parked, got out, and he took us to this museum. It was called 'Museo de Oro' and it was gorgeous. The entire thing was filled with hundreds and hundreds of gold artifacts from all over South and Central America. Emma, there was so many little sculptures that I thought you'd love so I took as many pictures as I could. I'll send them in seperate emails!! Then after the museum we got back into the car and drove and drove up this super narrow bumpy road and the driver told us to get out and meet back at the van in one hour. We had no clue what to do so we asked what we could in Spanish and they told us to buy these tickets for a train ride so we did and then we got in this train car whos tracks led literally straight up the mountain. It was about a 10 minute ride strait up and then we got out. We realized at this point where we were. There is a chapel on the top of one of the mountains here and it is so beautiful. I don't know the name but I'll send pictures so you should try and look it up. Its apparently a really huge tourist site but today it was cloudy and rainy so we were 3 of maybe 10 people there. It was so quiet and almost scary. It was such a beautiful place. We couldn't take pictures inside but the outside was just amazing. It overlooked the entire city of Bogota. It was definitely a once in a life time opportunity. 

Now as far as these last few days in the CCM have been... Well tomorrow I'm getting a Latin companion. 100 percent Spanish, all day long. I'm so nervous but Hermano Herrera (one of the Maestros) said he thinks I'll do fine which is comforting. I'm hoping to be at 60 to 70 percent fluent before I leave. Herrera said he would tell me what he thinks my percentage is when I leave so I'll let you all know if I make my goal. Sunday I wrote a talk on the Kingdoms of Glory and I let one of the teachers read it to correct any mistakes and most of the corrections were either wrong indirect or direct object pronouns which is hard for me and then little things like the adjective not agreeing in number with the noun. I hope I get to give a talk one of these days. I spend so much time writing them and its frustrating sometimes not being able to read it to anyone!! Thats about it for these last few days. Lots of teaching practice, lots of reading the scriptures out loud in Spanish, and lots and lots of Grammar. It is a wonderful time to be alive. 
Hurrah for Israel!
Lots of Love,
Élder Gehring
We decided this is something the Kings in the Libro de Mormon would wear!

Emma, these are all hand made earrings. Can you imagine doing that with tiny tools??
Foto Grupo 5

Friday, March 7, 2014

So this one time I got lost in Bogota...


Lots of big news this week and some pretty funny stories so where do I start? Well first off, I got called as a district leader last Wednesday. Talk about a lot of responsibility already. There are 3 Elders including myself and 6 Hermanas. Elder Peden and Elder Reid are my two companions and both are just out of highschool. Its amazing the difference between Elders who have and havent been to college. Elder Reid is from Dallas and is really good at Spanish already because his mom and dad both are fluent. Im learning a lot from both of them and our lessons usually go really well. The Hermanas in my district are great. They all are going to Bolivia Cochabamba and they all are really hard workers. I love being the District leader, I just have a lot of meetings with President Dyer and they are all in Spanish so its giving me the opportunity to learnn more and more and way faster. Its a blessing to be the DL but its hard too. Good thing I have the Lord on my side!

So now about this past Tuesday. We went street contacting in the middle of Bogota. Talk about exciting but so scary too. My Spanish is good but I'm no where near ready to have normal conversations with Colombians. I'll just start from the beginning. We left at 8:30 Tuesday morning and then took buses to a Chapel in the city. Then we were given maps, and little invitations to give to people inviting them to go to church. My latin comp Elder Carrera was awesome. He was on fire and talked to everyone. I got 4 numbers of people who want to learn more about our church and he got around 7. But then the adventure came. We were supposed to be done at 11:50 and meet back at the original chapel but he didn't understand that and as much as I tried to tell him he insisted we go to a different chapel. We show up at 11:50 at the chapel I knew was the wrong one and then he starts to get scared so he yells something in his Venezuelan Spanish and then goes and pays some guy to use his phone. Somehow he got the number of the CCM manager, talked about something and then hung up. The he turns to me and says "Vamos vamos!! Muy rapido!" and he takes off. No joke I chased this Elder for an hour and a half through the streets, highways, and side alley ways of Bogota. He would every once in a while stop, say "Agua", give me a drink of his water and then take off again. I asked him over and over Donde nesacitamos estar?? and he didn't get it because he just kept on running. 12:30 rolled around and we ran more. 1:00 rolled around and guess what we were doing? Yes, running in hot weather in suits and with a side bag with scriptures and an umbrella. 1:30 rolls around and he stops and pays someone else to use a phone and then talks to bro Gallego the CCM manager and then next thing I know, we are getting picked up on the side of a freeway on ramp by some of the maestros and bro Gallego. I think the entire time we were running, sweating through our suits, and dying of exhaustion since we are 8600 feet up I prayed more than i ever have in my life. It was so insane. I to this day have no idea what the heck happened. I make it sound like it was a long time ago but it really was just on Tuesday. I'm safe though and I met some awesome people!!!

Today we got to go to the Bogota Temple. What an amazing and beautiful experience. It is amazing how peaceful it was in such a hectic part of the city. We took lots of pictures with our district and with president and hma Dyer which I'll send at some point in the future. I'm not sure when I'll get them yet. But it was such an amazing experience to have it been entirely in Spanish. I chose to not have headphones and I'm so glad I did. I learned so much. 

Now with the rest of the CCM stuff. We now have GYM in the afternoons to break up the day a little bit and we have personal LDM study in the morning. Its such a wonderful way to start the day reading the Libro de Mormón and I've learned so much. I love it. We also have 2 new investigators that we are teaching. Claudio and Katie. Claudio has 2 daughters and is an awesome guy. Though he is not divorced yet and hes currently living with his novia and shes pregnant so its a hard situation to teach even if its not real. Katie believes in a Great Spirit but wants to be baptized but has trouble accepting the fact that there is a God. We are working our best with them both and well see what happens!!! Oh and I for sure know my mission scripture. Alma 26 12. What a beautiful verse. Another one of my highlights this week was when we had district LDM study. We read Mosiah 14, 16, and 21 and talked about our role in the gathering of Israel. The gathering of Israel is bringing others unto Christ which is exactly our purpose. What an amazing few chapters. Spanish comes faster and faster every day. I can pretty much understand everything everyone says but the hard part for me is responding with the right tenses, and having enough vocab to say what I want to say. It'll come with time. I'm in the middle of memorizing the 1st vision in Spanish which is being a challenge if there ever was one but the words of Joseph Smith are so powerful that it is a necessity to learn. Oh random thought. they have badminton here. and they are all soooo good. 

I love it here and can't believe i only have 2 more weeks here before I am shipped off to Bolivia. The church is true no matter where we are in the world. What a glorious thing to have a perfect knowledge of. I love you all and miss you all. I pray each day for you. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Gehring

Hermana Mendivelso and I. Shes our teacher!!

That is president Dyer Dallin out of control!! haha!

Me and my comp who got lost. haha!