Monday, April 28, 2014

Its raining. Its pouring. My companion is snoring

My dear family and friends,
First off, my companion doesn't actually snore, it was just a convenient ending to a catchy subject. But he does teach lessons in my sleep. I told him that during this first cambio, if I start teaching lessons in my sleep that he is definitely the best trainer there has ever been in the mission field. It hasn't happened yet, but maybe I'll learn to teach in my sleep further down the road. 

The true part was the raining and pouring. Let me tell you about flash floods. I never believed in flash floods until it started to rain on Tuesday. Fast forward about 3 hours and there weren't streets any more in our little area of La Merced. There were rivers. Not streams, rivers. Elder Chavez and I, being the 19 and 22 year olds that we are, decided to go.... ´Teach Lessons´ a little earlier.... Well... no. I can't lie. We went to go play in the rain. We were running around when we met up with the other 2 missionaries in our area who were also ´teaching lessons´ a bit early too. After about 5 minutes of walking we realized this was a great opportuinity to serve. At first this was all fun and games but we soon realized how dangerous it was becoming. The first scary thing was seeing a young girl walking in about ankle deep water and falling into a drop off of 2 or more metros. Luckily there was someone to jump in and help here. At this point I realized how real flash floods are. We were walking trying to find people to help when we turned a corner and saw a school with kids ages 5 up to about 12 or so. They were stuck in their school and needed to cross a large street which was the only way to get home for most of them. This street, just like most others, was a river. About waist deep for me, and very fast, and very strong. We decided this is where we needed to be. For the next 3 hours we carried every one of the school kids acorss this river. I can't begin to describe this to you all. It was the hardest thing I've ever done, but the most humbling thing too. I was so scared the whole time and I can't imagine what the little kids were thinking. I could see the fear in these peoples eyes. These kids were helpless but we had the chance to help them. With each trip back and forth, I was more and more tired, my legs felt like giving out at every moment but I know we had help from the other side. The Lord loves every one of his children and miracles are real. At one point a taxi, up the road a ways, got caught in the current and lost traction. It came rushing towards us as we were carrying these kids across. I dont think Iv'e ever been so scared. Luckily everyone got out of the way and no one was hurt. Miracles are in our lives every day. Some bigger than others, but the important thing is to learn to see them.

We got home that day, ate lunch and slept until the next morning. Talk about being tired. But the rest of the week was amazing. The crazy thing about flash floods is the next day, just as fast as they came, they are gone. The streets were a bit wet but all the water was gone. We worked hard and had a successful week. 

 Some interesting things happend this week. One, I witneesed a Rooster Fight. People here raise roosters to fight other roosters... I didn't know this was a real thing when Elder Chavez told me about it. I thought he was kidding but nope. Its real. Also this week a family in our ward gave me one of their shirts that they make for their job. Its a Tommy Hillfiger but a fake one. Everyone has super expensive designer clothes here but they are all just home made with the name brand on the front. Hermana Jimenez (the mom in the family) told me she can see a shirt with a brand on it for double or triple. And it costs her about 50 cents more to put the brand on. Its crazy. But its still pretty cool that I have a shirt homemade. 

I had my first encounter this week with someone who didn't speak spanish too. She was probably 150 years old but she only spoke Quechua. It was so hard to communicate. I think I had more luck talking to her when I switched to my English. Which right now is as bad as my Spanish. I'm in the middle where I can't speak spanish and I haven't heard English out loud in a long time so I'm terrible at that too. I hope this changes. I don't have any funny mess ups with my spanish but Elder Chavez had a hard time this week with the word pizza. He asked me if I liked ´peexa´and I had no idea what he was talking about. He then repeated it several times which didn't help at all becase it sounded the same every time. Then I finally figured it out and realized he was saying pizza. I told him how it should be pronounced and he couldn't hear the difference. It was nice to be on the other side of the language barrier when it wasn't me who couldn't hear the difference between 2 words in spanish!

 As far as lessons go this week, we had a hard time. Its so hard to get people to fulfill their commitments and its so hard to get people to actually be home when they say they would. Our baptism and matrimonio fell through again. They had a big fight and now they don't want to get married. We as missionaries can't do anything to sort out their personal problems so all we can do is pray for them which trust me, we have been. We did though meet a family who came to church. She is a mother of 3 ages 12, 10, and 3. Her husband claims he doesn't want to listen and hear about the gospel but we told her don't worry, we are going to change that :) Her kids loved church and she loves the teaching every week in sunday school and they want me to teach them piano lessons too. I'm excited for the future here in this area. Great things are happening. 
I had my first. I miss home a lot moment this week. We were walking down a street towards a members home where a huge family lives. A mom and dad, their 3 kids and their 12 or so grandkids. The grandkids love the missionaries and they were playing down the street a ways when they saw us walking toward them. They all came running and screaming. I could see in each one of their smiles, Melanie, Ethan, and Carly. I just about lost it there in front of a bunch of little kids. That would have been embarrassing. They are so precious and so loving just like everyone back home. It made me miss you all, but at the same time it made me feel like I'm part of a different family here. I love them all like family. But don't worry mom, I still miss you guys. 

 The work is going forward, and its amazing to see the Lord work in different ways to open the hearts of people to hear the Gospel. I love you all. I miss you all. I pray for you daily. Keep the Lord first in  your life, and you will be blessed more than you can imagine. Hurrah for Israel! 

 Con amor,

Elder Gehring

Monday, April 21, 2014

Huevos en mi cada

Hello there. 
So this week was a bit longer. Mainly because Elder Chavez was sick for a couple days and I spent my time reading and reading and studying, which is awesome but its super hard to do that for a long time. Time seems to stop, slow down, and never move. But once he was better things flew by as always. Spanish is hard. Especially when people laugh when you say something wrong and you are standing there for 10 minutes while they get control of themselves not knowing what you said. then they explain it to you and you laugh too... But after they don't think its funny anymore. This happens daily. I'm now starting to plan on it. Usually ever day around 5 or 6 when I'm really tired and my brain is staring to slow down!

For example. We have huesos in our bodies (bones) and for breakfast we eat huevos (eggs). We were talking with a MA (menos activo) about breaking bones and how he had a friend that broke several bones in his face. I then proceeded to say ´Pucha! Sí, tenemos muchos huevos pequeños en nuestras cadas´  when I meant to say huesos...They got a pretty good laugh out of that. And for most of the week too. But I learned this phrase this week. Lo siento, ya lo sabes. A hora, tendré que matarte. 

Also. Paz y gozo. Peace and Joy. 2 things we feel when we attend church. But I didn't say that to another MA. I said we can feel pozo y gaz. Gaz doesnt mean anything and pozo is a well or pit for water. I felt pretty dumb about that one too. But I'm learning fast and my reading has gotten so much better. I'm pretty much a Latin now to be honest. Except for a few things like my accent and that I'm a giant here and that my feet don't fit in their sandalias and that I'm white. But everything else I'm pretty much there. OH! Funny story about that giant feet thing. I wanted a pair of the sandalias made from tires because they literally never break and they are only like 2 dollars (20 Bolivianos). But they don't make them my size. Anywhere. I had to trace my foot and have them custom made. For 5 bolivianos more. About 75 cents in USD. I'm pretty pumped to get them. 

Shoes aren't the only things that are cheap here. Everything on the street is cheap. I can buy brand new movies that haven't come out yet, in englisha and espanol for 5 bolivianos. instead of 20 Dollars in the US. I think I'm going to live here after my mission. Also the tshirts are cheap. But sometimes its understandable because the English to spanish translations are sometimes off. Or sometimes they are in english and people have no clue what they mean. Yesterday in church the Sunday Shcool teacher, a wonderful hermana with a wonderful young family had a shirt that was nice and very appropriate for church. But someone here on the street had put on the front HOT GIRL with sparkles and diamonds and swirls. I laughed a little. I also bought a soccer jersey this week from a memebr. Its definitly fake... because it was 7 bolivianos but its cool to me! Oh and grandma Lois. I promise that during my time here I will find you a backscratcher. It is my second mission here. 

Despite all the fun and laughs and cheap movies, the work is going forth and I have a testimony that nothing can and will stop it. There are miracles every day. Satan tries to cover them up with bad lessons, people not being home, and ID cards being lost but I know that he will never win. 

First off our marriage and baptism that was scheduled for this weekend is going to have to be pushed back one week. We were pretty discouraged at first but we are doing everything we can to help this family. The mom lost her ID canet which is necesario for casarse. We now have to wait for this to get in and then we can dejar papeles with the lawyer. Steps are slow but things are progressing. We also had an awesome lesson with a new family. Julid and her Husband Richard. They are wonderful. And he is intimidating. From the moment we walked up to their house he made it know that he was in charge, and the jefe of the house. He sat us down and asked us such sincere questions. He is such a smart guy and asked such hard questions but we had the spirit and it was such a beautiful thing to see his heart slowly open. In the end of the lesson he said a prayer with his wife's hand in his and his daughter in his lap. It brought tears to my eyes. We are going to work hard this week to get them to church, to read the LDM, and to pray every night as a family. 

Elder Chavez is an amazing teacher and trainer. He sees the good in everyone. We had a lesson with a family that is interested in the church. Our previous lessons had been hard but we were getting better. We walked up to their house and the dad and son sprinted off. We found out they were drinking and were pretty drunk. We were sad but my comp found the good in the situation as always. He asked me what was so important about that situation and I said I didn't know. And he told me. Their father respects us. And feels shame about drinking. He sees us as representatives of someone important and he didn't want us to see him drunk. He was happy because of this! I was shocked that he was able to see such an important fact when satan was trying to cover that up. A miracle none the less. 

 We have had so many lessons its hard to write about them all. We did get to help a lady in our ward move. Moving parties here are a bit different. No one has a pick up truck to throw all the stuff in. My comp and I carried mattress after mattress and dresser after dresser down the street. I wish I had taken a picture. It was quite a sight to see two missionaries with mattresses on their heads walking down a muddy road with horses on either side of us. What a powerful family and experience. I love it here. I don't know how to talk, I can't understand anyone, and I feel like the weirdo because my feet are 4 times bigger than everyone's, but I know I'm on the Lords errand. I feel His love in every moment. I know He is always there. If you get the chance, read the book of Moses and Abraham this week. There are wonderful things in those books about where we came from and why we are here. 

 I love you all. I miss you all. But the work here is incredible. Hurrah for Israel!

With Love,
Elder Gehring

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bunnies on the bus

Hello there familia.

I can't believe another week is gone. I know Spanish perfectly now. Crazy how much you can learn in one week... Okay that's a lie. I still don't know Spanish but poco a poco I'm getting better. I learned that shaking your hand here (like jazz hands) means ´No Hay´ or there's nothing. And I'm sure you're all trying so hard at this point, 5 lines in to the story of my life this week, why the subject line in Bunnies on the Bus. Well let me tell you. 

´´Bunnies on the Bus and other Short Stories from the Mission Life of Elder Gehring´´

Once upon a time there was a missionary compañerismo waiting for the micro. They got on and then saw a lady with a shoe box but thought nothing of it. Fairly large pot hole and the shoe box fell open. The lady then was a little bit more awake than before because the thing in the shoe box was mas o menos all over the bus. Bunnies. Everywhere. The gringo laughed, his compañero laughed too. 

Once upon a time there was a missionary compañerismo walking in the hot sun talking about movies . The gringos compañero asked him if he had seen "A walk to remember." He responded. Claro! and then the compañero expressed his feelings to the gringo about Mandy Moore. 

Once upon a time there was a missionary compañerismo who woke up every day at 630. And every morning there was a sound that woke the gringo up 5 or so minutes before their alarm. It sounded like a screaming child. The gringo asked if they should do something to help this child. His companion assured him it was only a rooster . 

Once upon a time there was a missionary compañerismo who had a tiny heater for their shower. The gringo one morning went to take a shower and turned on the heater. He was not very happy when the water stung. He then realized that he was being shocked with every drop of water. He didn't use the heater any more.

Once upon a time there was a missionary compañerismo who went to church on sunday. They saw a cat sleeping on the bench... in the chapel.

Once upon a time there was a missionary compañerismo who recieved cough drops as a dessert. 

Once upon a time there was a missionary compañerismo who walked in the rain and then woke up the next morning feeling that the weather was maybe 70 degrees instead of 90. The gringos companion put on sweats, a sweater, took a hot shower, and 2 pairs of socks. The gringo laughed as he was in a tshirt and shorts 

Once upon a time there was a missionary compañerismo who were talking about random things and the latin asked the gringo. Conoce Tio Sam? The gringo then realized Tio means Uncle. The gringo laughed and said Sí. 

The End. 

I hope you enjoyed my book. I'll be in the lobby signing copies in.... 2 years. 

I also this week had the best rolls of my life. Also a piña fresh off a tree. 

Apart from the funny stories that always seem to keep me going, the lessons, service and spiritual part of a mission are the things that I know I will remember the rest of my life and they sure keep me going when times are hard and let me tell you, they are hard. We had my first Zone conference this week which was amazing. We talked a lot about faith and acts of faith. And if we want our investigators to take leaps of faith, we need to take those leaps too. Elder Chavez and I were chosen out of all 100 missionaries to go to the front and demonostrate how to talk with the bishop. I was nervous but President willard said he was impressed with my questions which was a ego boost for sure. The whole thing was such a good experience to start my mission.

We also had serveral chances to serve. I'm learning fast that miracles in the mission are not always with the investigators. In fact most of them aren't. W ell thus far at least. Miracles in homes that need bendiciones de salud (blessigs of health) and other forms of service are often the most tender miracles. I've given so many bendiciones de salud this week. But I know its what I needed to be doing this week. We received 16 references this week, which is a huge number and this week our goal is to contact all of them . That alone was a miracle for us because we were struggling to find people to teach. We also taught a MA (menos activo) about the sacerdocio (priesthood) and he is super pumped to have an interview with the bishop. We are helping him organize a Noche de Hogar (Family Home Evenng) with his family and other members of the ward. 

I also started this week teaching my comp Elder Chavez more English. This has blessed him and me more than I thought. It is helping me relax more, learn Spanish faster, and it helps him realize my struggles learning Spanish. It is such a great way for us to become closer as friends and in the end better teachers. Every Latin comp that I have, which is most likely gong to be every one, I am going to teach a little English each day. Its amazing. PME (Predicad Mi Evangelio) was right again where it says that every missionary regarless of their mission language should learn English. 

I'm learning lots, my testimony is growing, and I love it here. I started a challenge this week that I want as many people back in the states to do with me. Its to read the Standard works (Old and New testaments, Book of Mormon, Doctine and Convenios, And the Pearl of Great Price) 4 times while on my mission. I did the math and its only 15 pages a day. I know it at times may be too much but I hope some people back home will try and do it with me. Send me a quick email if you want to do it and I'll make a list and follow up with you as the 2 years go along. I know its a way that will bless my life and I know it can bless each one of you. 

I love you all. I miss you all. But I love it here. Until Next week. Oh and Read Alma 32 over and over. You'll learn something new every time. Hurrah for Israel!


Élder Gehring

Monday, April 7, 2014

Conference Week

Dear Familia!

I can't believe another week has gone by. I'm here in this internet place and it feels like I was just here writing to you all yesterday. Lets start with stories. 1. The people here have no idea what the US is like. No idea. A couple teenagers asked me what my house was like and they were suprised about 2 things. 1 that we don't have white fences around our houses with swings in the front yard and 2 that we didn't have barbed wire fences to protect from animals getting into our yard. Needless to say its a bit different here. 2. There are animals everywhere and Preston, if the people here could afford a vet, you'd have a booming business because there are malnourished animals everywhere. Its so sad but its normal for everyone here. Elder Chavez and I were chased by a dog that couldn't bark. It was the funniest thing in the world. I couldn't stop laughing. 3. This week our pensionista (Where we go for lunch) made us higado! And before I ate it and after I didn't know what it was but I liked it! I looked up higado in the dictionary and found out what it was. I'll let you all look it up too. Its not that strange, but it was a first for me! Also. My Spanish officially is not Spanish. Its more rambling with a few words here and there hoping someone will understand me. For example, just for your information. Ojos are not the same as oídos. And if you mix them up in a sentence, you WILL be laughed at. And if you have a good sense of humor, several days later you may look back and laugh too. But odds are you will be a bit embarrassed. (which is not embarazado by the way) becuase if you said Estoy embarazado. You will be laughed at again. Just FYI incase you all travel to a foreign country in the next few weeks. and 4. So the people here live on about 400 bolivianos for 3 people per month. 7 Bolivianos is 1 USD. I'll let you all do the math. Its crazy. Also I'm learning a little bit of Quechua. Imainalla casanlei is como esta usted and Jamui is ven! 

We had a couple opportunities to serve this week which I love more than anything. Working in the hot sun is more satisfying than a lot of things down here for some reason. For about an hour we cut weeds with machetes. And I have like 5 or 6 ampollas on my right hand now. They hurt but it was all totally worth it! Also there is a flia in the ward who makes sweatshirts and matching sweatpants for kids- Thats their work and they do it out of their house so a couple days back we went and folded hundreds of sweatshirts and packaged them. If you are ever in Brazil, and your 3 year old buys an Avenger Sweatshirt size P, M, or G. There is a tiny chance that I folded it. Pretty cool right? I have pictures of all of this but I can't find anything to get pictures from my camera onto the computer. I'm going to look again today. But I know that service opens the hearts of the members. And I know its a way to feel true happiness in our lives.

Now to lessons we taught. Or should I say didn't teach. We taught a fair amount of lessons which is good, but the depressing part is that not a single one was a cita that we planned. Everyone was only taught because our other ones fell through. It is literally the most discouraging thing to not be able to teach a lesson that you spend all morning planning. I know its hard but I am so grateful for the lesson we did get to teach because regardless of who, where, when, and how you teach, if the Spirit is there, the hearts of those you are teaching will be, and always will be touched. It is then up to them to act on their feelings but In the words of Elder Holland, the Spirit is provocative. It is provocative because it initiates an action. It makes people want to act, want to change, want to increase in knowledge and for this reason is why missionaries have people to teach. Because lets be honest. I can't teach for my life, and I'm not provocative with my smooth talk during lessons... But the Spirit is. The Spirit is a perfect teacher. And always will be a perfect teacher. I did though this week have the opportunity to give my first blessing in Spanish. Since we are talking about the spirit. Its amazing what an insignificant human such as me or my companion or any of us are capable of with the spirit on our side. I was able to bless this 13 month old little boy in Spanish and in a way that he could understand me. It was a miracle for me to see the hand of the Lord reach out to a small child. I could picture Him blessing the children one by one. I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to be the instrument to help the Lord in his work. 

Conference was of course amazing and God answers prayers. The night before conference I prayed with all my heart that I would be able to get something out of conference with it being in Spanish. We got there, there was a group of Norte Americanos in the back of the Stake center. I went over there and there was a tiny TV with sound barely audible but it was in English. I was so humbled. The Lord sure looks out for me so mom, you have absolutely nothing to worry about for the next 2 years because I have someone pretty strong looking over me and I know it with all my heart. Both days were filled with amazing things and I can't even begin to tell you the things that I learned but I know that each talk is for me and for each one of you. 

Its been a hard week. I've learned a lot. I've learned that Latins don't know what french toast is and when you make it for them they like to eat it with cream cheese. I learned that I love pancakes and that I will eat pancakes for 2 years. I learned not to pet the cats on the street even if they are the cutest thing you have ever seen. I learned that Spanish is hard. That I'm not going to be fluent until probably my 2 or 3 cambio. I learned that Mosquitos bite you even if you yell at them not too. I think they are not capable of hearing actually because I've yelled a lot at them. I learned that the people here are humble and love each other the way I want to one day love my own family. I learned that The Lord will always answer your prayers, but on his time. I learned that its okay to be scared, and discouraged, and to feel like you can't do it. But it is not okay to dwell on those feelings. I learned that the Savior is merciful, loving, caring, and in his yugo (yoke) we can to all things. I love you all. I pray for you all every day and I love the work of the Lord. Pray always, rely on the Lord, and never doubt the strength and power of God. Until we meet again. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Gehring