Monday, May 26, 2014

Una Vision al Senor


I want to start by saying that I was wrong about Santa Cruz. Its not hot all the time. In fact, its sometimes very very cold. And sometimes its even colder when its raining. And I can't lie, I never thought I would need to buy a jacket here in Bolivia. But I did. Friday I went with Elder Bel Tran to a street market to look for a jacket. And it was a weird experience. 1 because I am a gringo and everything is very expensive for me. And 2 because all of the clothes they have are donations from the USA to Bolivia, but the people here need money so they end up selling it all. I bought 2 sweatshirts to wear while we are in our house. 1 from a highschool somewhere in the States and another from the Utah Utes. I'm definitley not going to wear the second one ever, I only bought it so someone else wouldn't have to wear it. Just kidding.... kinda. Oh we also taught a lesson to a Pastor of a church here in Bolivia and he was wearing sweatpants from BYU. I told him it was a sign that he needed to be baptized. He didn't think so.
This week was cold but it was really great. We had a lot of success and yesterday we finally had investigadores attend church!! It was such a rewarding feeling to see them so happy during Sacrament Meeting.
But as always it was a week full of adventures. I would like to tell you about them now. 
We are always looking for service. And this week we found some! A part member family needed help cutting down a tree. I was happy to help! Espesially after several weeks working with Grandma cutting up wood!! But the thing I didn't know was that they only had machetes. And if you don't know, its very hard to cut down a tree with, well, a sword pretty much. After about an hour they borrowed an axe and things went a bit faster. Then they hooked up a rope to their car and ended up pulling the tree down with a taxi. I got it all on film. We were so tired afterwards. But the good news is that the mom of this family attended chuch this sunday! And she's not a memeber! Service really does work! So you should all do it more.
Now a secret about my companero. He loves to use his onda (sling shot). And he likes to brag about his accuracy. Yesterday we were leaving lunch and he told me to look and he shot in a flock of gallos and killed one. It was really bad... because this guy started yelling at him. I understand spanish but not when its really loud and full of curse words. He ran.. so I ran. It was just a stray gallo and the streets here aren't going to miss him but he felt so bad. It was pretty funny afterwards though. I told him hes not allowed to bring it (his onda) outside of the house anymore.

I also found a llanta this week. A huge one. I think its from a giant tractor or something. I rolled it all the way back to our house (a good 3 km) and now in the mornings we use it to work out. It almost wasn't worth it but its at least something different to do every morning. Push ups and sit ups get less and less appealing every day when your bed is very very comfortable.

OH! And I met a gringo this week. He is a student on a mission trip for his school and he preaches false doctrine about the mormons. He is very nice but he doesn't say nice things about us. He came up to us and asked us some questions. He doesnt know a lick of spanish so it was pretty cool to be able to speak with my companero when he couldn't! He is only here for 2 weeks and when he heard that we are here for 2 years he was very shocked. I was very proud to be a member of our church in this moment. He left and didn't say much else. It was pretty weird to speak in English too. Spanish is much easier here.
Tuesday we had Zone Conference. It was even better than my first one. The theme was Christ. To start, we studied about the atonement and after we talked about his life here on the earth. I can't even begin to describe and tell all that I learned and now understand about the atonement but I am here to tell you all that you can never stop learning about the Atonement of Christ. There is no act more great and more selfless than the Atonement and we can never stop studying it. But while I was reading in Mateo during the conference I came to learn something new about the story of Christ walking on the water. Go get your Bible and then come back and read the rest of this letter so you can follow along.

I'm serious. Go get your Bible.

You still don' have it...

Good. Now turn to Matt. chapter 14.

If you dont have your Bible. Get it now.

Good. Now read verses 25-30.


Now. There is soo much we can learn from this story. I Love the part in verse 25 about the 4th watch. Its hard at times, and sometimes we don't think He will come to help us but he always will. Even if its in the 4th watch. In the 11th hour of our pain. But I want to focus most in verse 29. And I want you to think about where Peter´s vision was. In this verse where was he looking?? At Christ. He had faith, he knew his goal (Christ) and he was able to walk on the water. Then in the very next verse. In spanish is says ´Mas al ver el viento...´ In this verse now, where is he looking? For a split second his vision changed. He lost sight of his goal (Christ) and later in the same verse (30) what happens? He starts to sink.

This hit me hard. That the second. The very instant we lose sight of Christ in our lives is when we will start to sink. The wind in so terribly stong in the world right now. There are temptations, problems, death, sickness, sadness. But if we look at these things and take our eyes off of Christ, we will sink. Si­ o si­. It is so crucial and so important that we focus in Christ and never look away. I know that when we have a clear vision in Christ that it doesnt matter how strong the winds are, we will be able to make it. There is so much more we can learn from these few verses but I only have so much time to write. Read this part over and over and I promise you, you'll find something new each time you read it.

I love this work, I love the people here. I love my Savior and everyday I stive to keep my vision and my goal in Him. I know we are not perfect, none of us are. We are going to sink but we can always change our visions back to Christ. He will be there to hear our cries and lift us from our sorrows. Maybe not until the 4th watch, but He will always come.

Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Gehring

A birthday party!

In a canal where the kids here like to fish.

This is Ingird and her baby.

This is the tree we cut down!

Monday, May 19, 2014

El Poder del Esp­ritu Santo

Mi Querido Familia
I want to begin this letter by thanking everyone of you for your prayers, your emails, your stories of life back home, and your love that I can feel every day. It makes a difference and for that I am thankful.
This week was hard. We had amazing success in some areas, and hardly any success in others. But I always picture life and especially my mission like a roller coaster. If a roller coaster was flat and only went straight, would it be any fun? If you don't like roller coasters this probably won't make sense, but no it wouldn't!! When life is full of ups and downs is when you have the most fun. And maybe you'll learn something along the way. But with my new companion, everything is great. We get along. And every lesson is up beat, and spiritual. He is an amazing example to me and I learn from him everyday.
I see something new everyday and every day I think that it couldn't get more weird or more funny but daily I am proven wrong. First I would like to talk about the duendes. I'm not sure the exact translation because my dictionary says ´imp´ but its more like elf. The people here are a bit supersticious (forgive my spelling). And Elder Bel Tran, my comp, likes to use this to his advantage. He regularly asks people if they believe in duendes and most of them say yes. They say yes with fear in their eyes and a tremor in their voice. Apparently these duendes are super bad. They kidnap and hurt the children. They destroy your houses, eat your food, kill your pets, and they leave a bad spirit in your home. I laughed at first because I thought they were kidding but there are people here that are super scared of these elf creatures. Apparently they are about 3 feet tall and have short legs and a big head. Not sure exactly because I still haven't seen one.... Pretty sure I never will honestly. But its a real fear here. Maybe one day I'll believe. 
Also, Mom this week I have a couple suggestions to help you with the kids. Here they wash their diapers... and use them over and over and over. Just a suggestion. You never know. It could work really really well. Oh but you have to air dry them. Also, you should look up songs in spanish to sing with the kids. The Pta. de Sociedad Socorro (Relief Society President) asked me to write songs in English for her students in her school and I think you should do the same with Ethan and Melanie. Just little songs like head shoulders knees and toes and things like that. Also learn how to make the food called pike macho. I think thats what its called. Its native to Cochabamba but its super delicious.
Brother Figgins I have to thank as well. And mom you'll have to make sure you tell him! Thanks for the magic tricks. The kids loooove them. And the parents love them even more! They are fascinated by the simplest tricks. Its great.
This week was not only filled with funny stories as always but it was filled with miracles. Miracles that could have only come from one place. The Spirit. This week I began to see the heart of a menos activo change just a little more. With Elder Chavez we would always ask this hermano to come with us to citas but he never wanted to. With time he would say yes every once in a while, and now he wants to go with us, and after a lesson he asks us ´Where to next?´ Its amazing to see how powerful the spirit is and how wonderful and sweet the fruits of the spirit are. 
We also had a lesson with a father who has had a hard time returing to chuch after a negative experience with another member and bishop. He pleaded for our help and neither I nor my companion knew what to say. After what felt like hours of silence I thought of the scripture in Moroni 7:45-48 about charity and love. We read it out loud together and tears slowly started to fill his eyes. He was quiet for a while and finally he said one word ´Gracias´ He was so thankful for this one scripture. He marked it in his Libro de Mormon and told us that it was exactly the answer he was looking for. Its so important to have the spirit with us at all times, not only to help ourselves with problems, but more improtantly to help other people with theirs.
My main invitation this week is for each one of you to read Matthew 4 and to focus in verses 1-11. This is the story of the fasting of Christ for 40 days, and afterward the temptations of Satan. This is such an amazing manifestation of the power of the Lord and the weakness of the devil. In verse 3 Satan tempts the Savior for the first time. And at first I thought that the temptation was to change to rock to bread. Yes that is one of the temptations, but not the first one. The first thing Satan says is ´If thou be the Son of God.´ This is the first temptation. He tells Christ and tempts Him to deny his sacred calling of the Son of God. Then he tries to hide it with a much smaller temptation. To change rock to bread. And again in verse 6 ´If thou be the Son of God´. Satan´s small temptations to change rock to bread and call upon angels were only there to try and disguse his end plan. To get Chirst to deny his calling as the Only Begotten of the Father. It is the same in our lives. We are daily tempted to act and think and do things against that which we know is right, but thats not the end goal of Satan. His only goal is to get us to distance ourself from God and in the end not live with our Heavenly Father for eternity. Every single temptation of the devil has the same purpose. To get us further away from Christ. For this reason our purpose as missionaries is to invite others to come to Christ. Always remember that our goal in this life is to replace all our attributes of man with attributes of Christ and to go to Him. There is so much more we can learn from this story in Mateo 4 and I am going to contiune studying it more and more. Christ is our perfect example and we can learn so much from the scriptures.
I love you all so much. I am daily grateful for your prayers. I know God hears and answers every one of them. This week I learned that the Spirit is powerful. Jeffery R. Holland used the word proacative to describe the spirit. Because it motivates us to act. I have been moved by the spirit this week and I pray that I will contiune to learn from the promptings I recieve. The work is going forth and it is a beautiful thing to witness. I pray for you all every day. Hurrah for Israel!
Con gratitud y amor,
Elder Gehring
How Im getting super jacked during my mission.

A window that I replaced for service.

This is me being a hunchback.

The two kids are in the Family Sauna and they love getting their picture taken.

More of the kids.

And there is one with my comp Elder Bel Tran eating dinner with Flia Sauna.

The ones with all of us is after a Noche de Hogar that we had.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Happy Dia de la Madre!!

My dearest family,
I don't have much to write this week since I talked to you all yesterday but one hour is hardly enough time to tell you all everything.
A few quick stories.
1. I have never had spoiled milk until 3 days ago. An investigadora y su hijo nos dieron spoiled milk.. Well chunky milk. Well it was gross. But the pan que tuvimos with it was super biensisimo. Almost worth it. But not quite. I'm just glad I didn't get sick.... todavia.
2. We had a Noche de Hogar with a part member familia which was super fun and I taught them a new game. One person stands in the middle of the circle blindfolded, spins, and points at a person. While they are spinning everyone else switches seats. Then the person in the middle says an animal and whoever is receiving the pointing has to make that sound of the animal. And the person in the middle has to try and guess who it is. If they are wrong, they spin again and everyone switch\es again. If they are right the person who made the sound is now in the middle. Very fun.
3. There is a church that meets 3 times a week in el noche around 7 or 8. The preacher only knows english. There is a translater. They meet in a large field with large speakers. I like to listen to them becuse I know more spanish than the translater knows in english and its pretty hilarious the things she comes up with when she doesn't understand the english. I would help them but I would probably get sent home for preaching in another church.... I think I'll stick to the listening.
It was really good to talk to you all yesterday and those who I didn't get to talk to, I wish I could have and I hope the letters make up for a small part of that. This week I'm so thankful for prayer. Which seems to be a common theme for me lately. I shared this experience with Emma yesterday but I just love it. We were in a lesson and we invited the hermana to give the final prayer. She said of course and in her prayer she thanked her Heavenly Father for sending Representatives of Jesus Christ to her home. She usually doesn't read what we invite her to read, she doesn't come to church, its hard to get her to pray, but this one thing she thanked God for was spectacular. As missionaries it doesn't matter what they do or don't do but when they realize that we have been called of God to preach the Gospel, its a pretty amazing thing. Its a small sliver of light and now all we have to do is build from that light.
I love the work here. I know this is where the Lord wants me to be. I miss you all, but I know it is only a small sacrifice for the reward that the people here will recieve and the happiness I gain every day. This is the work of the Lord. He loves us and we are His children! Hurrah for Israel!
Con amor y humildad,
Elder Gehring
The egg on the head is a way of welcoming and saying goodbye here in Bolivia.

Flash flood!

They have the best rolls!

This is us eating pan called pan chola. Soooooo good.

The avacados are HUGE!!! And SOOOO delicious!

Our pensionista with the $2 bill mom sent for me to give to her. She has wanted one her whole life!

Also these are kids with kittens. Cutest thing ever.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Up, Down, Side to Side

Hello there.
First I've now decided that the subject in an email is key. I think depending on my subject more, or less people will read and send me an email in response. So I'm doing my best to make them catchy enough that people will actually read what happens in the life of a missionary. And now I need to explain the subject line. Actually it means nothing. But its kind of catchy right? If not I apologize. I'll try harder next time.

I also need to warn you that this weeks letter may be short and may leave you longing for more. I hope I can make up for that in the loads and loads of photos that I'm going to try and send! I finally found an adapter here in the Rotonda and I'm going to send lots. So prepare your self. Go buy ink for your printer and lots of paper. I'm positive you'll want to print out every single one and put them on your fridge.

First off a list of things I want to buy here but its against mission rules.

1. Monkeys. They cost about 200 Bolivianos or 30 dollars.

2. Guitars. They are all hand made and gorgeous.

3. Movies. they are dirt cheap. But all in spanish...

4. All the street food. It all smells soooo good but its all probably super dirty and would make me sick for a week.... almost worth it.

5. All other animals. They are pretty much free. But we can't have pets.

But really we don't need pets. There has been a wild cat living in our lot for the past week. I took pictures. It was pretty dangerous to say the least.

Also the members like to give us food. Often times we leave lunch, and go to lunch and then go straight to dinner and then have dessert at another house. I'm always feeling like I am about to die.

Also my companion, when I ask him a question, and his answer is ´yes´ he says ´yes yes yesterday´ with a strong accent. Its pretty funny.

Also I forgot how to pronounce my first word in english. Pronunciacion. I can't figure out how to say it in english.

Also in church this sunday there was a pack of dogs that ran in during testimony meeting. I thought of the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. If you haven't seen this movie, watch it, and send me and email to thank me for the suggestion.

Also, the fruit here is delicious. And huuuuuge.

Also I have a CD with the song I am His Daughter. Emma, Chelsea, Melanie. I lost it when I listened to it. I sure miss you all.

Also, the most wonderful thing about a missionary is the chance to be a part of lives that are changing. This week was especially special. We had a Noche de Hogar con un familia que tiene 3 hijos. Ellos son muy buenos y sus testimonios son buenísimos. Ellos invitaron sus amigos que no son miembros y enseñamos un lección sobre familias y los templos. Compartimos un video ´Juntos para Siempre´ y después compartieron sus testimonios y deseos para tener un familia por eternidad. Estoy super feliz y animado para continuar enseñándoles. El Epíritu es muy importante en cada lección con cada persona y yo creo que tuvimos el Espíritu en esta lección. 

Also this week I gained an even greater testimony about the power of prayer. Not only does Dios quiere escucharnos pero Dios nos ama y está preocupado cuando nosotros estamos lejos de Él. Mediante oración podemos llegar a ser más cerca de Él y podemos sentir su amor. Yo he visto un cambio grande en personas que no sabían como orar. Después de un explicación breve sobre ´como oramos´ Yo he escuchado oraciones bonitas con palabras increíbles. Yo he visto una luz viene en sus ojos de ellos después de oración. 

"We had a FHE with a family that has 3 children. They are awesome and their testimonies are very strong. They invited their friends who are not members and we taught them a lesson about families. We shared the video 'Together Forever' and afterward they bore their testimonies and their desires to be an eternal family. I'm super happy and excited to keep teaching them. The Spirit is very important in each lesson with each person and I believe we had the Spirit in that lesson.
"...Not only does God want to listen to us but God loves us and concerned when we are far from Him. Through prayer we can become closer to Him and feel His love. I have seen a big change in persons who don't know how to pray. After a short explanation about 'how we pray' I have heard beautiful prayers with incredible words. I have seen a light come into their eyes after the prayer."
I love you all. I have a testimony of the work of the Lord. He lives and loves each one of you. I testify with all my soul that He lives.

Hurrah for Israel!

Con amor,

Elder Gehring