Monday, July 28, 2014

The Office

Hi there family,

Well here's the first letter from the office. I'm sitting 3 feet from President and life is wonderful. This week was so fast I can't even believe it. I'm freaking out with the work I have to do but its okay. I'm learning little by little. Elder Gygi is the Sec. that I'm replacing and he's been here for 6 months. In other words, he does everything really really fast and I do everything really really slow. He knows every missionary by name and I'm still not to that point. This morning we've been working hard on Informes that we are giving to the President to talk with all the stake presidents so I'm writing you all with in my 10 minute breaks. I really have no idea what i'm doing.

But thats just today. This week was really hard. Mostly because the entire ward found out that I was leaving and everyone wanted to say goodbye and have me over for dinner or lunch and we had investigators to visit so I said no to a ton of people... This is why its so much better to not know before hand if youre changing.

I'm not really thinking straight right now because we have so much to do here before cambios so this might be a little shorter than ususal and maybe a bit all over the place. I'll send lots of pictures though.

This week first off we had another Baptism which was really special. Jessica Pinto, una joven that we met in church one day accepted our visits and we have been teaching her for a while now. She had her interview this week and was baptized on saturday. Her whole family came to church on sunday for her confirmacion and they all really liked it. We are now teaching their whole family and they are on their way to baptism too. Saturday was one of the coldest days that we've had here and there is not a heater for the water in the pila bautismal. It was really really cold. I can't imagine what it was like to go completely under. But she didn't mind too much. 

This past friday I came into the office again as an intercambio to learn how to purchase flights and hotels and to finish cambios. I went into a meeting with President Willard for about a hour and a half and I helped him decide who was getting moved where and who needed to change and who was good and all that jazz. It was really neat to see his preocupacion for every single one of the missionaries here in the mission. He really is a man called by God. I'm excited to work directly with him for the next 6 months. 

Other than that not much happened this week. I'm trying to think...

Oh. Yes. A misunderstanding in spanish. Elder Funk was talking and he was trying to say chocolate but he said "chacalate" It was pretty funny. We got a good laugh out of that. We decided that chacalate is a small wild animal that only lives here in Bolivia. It just rolls around all day. This is what we think about as missionaries. I'm pretty sure they brain wash us here. 

Well I wanted to share one thing in Alma 36. I love this chapeter for a lot of reasons. The biggest is the promises that we recieve from our Heavely Father of the joy and happiness we can have.

So thats all I wrote last Monday. I literally had so much to do that I couldn't even send that message to you all. I'm sorry. But I'm writing a new one today. Love you lots.

Hurrah for Israel!


Elder Gehring

Ward activity

A hat this member gave me

Baptism of Jessica

Food in the oficinas

Familia Vazquez

Bishop Balderrama

More of the baptism

I'm a giant

Garcia family

Photo shoot

Other of the baptism

More photo shoot

More photo shoot

Monday, July 21, 2014

Suffer the little children to come to me

Hello my dearest family.

Well to start, I'm getting transferred. From my area which is one of the most poor, to Caoto which is in the middle of the city. Its so different. I've been called to replace Elder Gygi as the Secretary to the President. I'm scared but very excited. I had a 2 day intercambio with him so I could learn and get a feel for the life in the offices. I went in on thursday with Elder Gygi and then came home saturday. Its a culture shock again. But now from my area with dirt streets and tiny houses to paved streets of the city with tons and tons of people and with houses that are quite a bit bigger. I start there one week from today. It is so much responsibility. Basically I will have to run the mission and do the things that other people don't do. I schedule flights, I make all reservations in all hotels of President, his wife, his assitants, the new missionaries, the old ones going home, and anyone else who needs it. I pick people up in the airport, I help them with passports and visas, I pay the fines that they have, I make informes for each Lider de Zona and each Stake President. I work directly with President to help him decide on transfers. I have lots and lots to learn.

But other than that big news, the work now in my area is going really well. Elder Garcia is learning fast and always wants to work. He loves to work and work and work harder. We are getting way better about teaching together and the work is finally paying off. We see and experience miracles everyday and we have 2 wonderful people that have plans to be baptized this weekend. Next Monday I'll send photos of their Baptisms and I'll explain their stories!!

For a while I didn't really run into any funny stories about Spanish but this week we were in lunch one day when the son in law of our pensionista came out with a huuuuge fire cracker and asked us who wanted to light it off. I told him I wanted to but we really aren't allowed as missionaries so he just did it. It shook the house. The windows trembled and you could feel the shock wave of this thing. I'm pretty sure it would be illegal in the US even in states like New Mexico where you can buy pretty much any type of firework. The funniest part was when he came back in and asked Elder Funk and I the name of fire cracker in english. We realized that it literally means galletas de fuego and we had a good laugh for a while.

This week too I got to play the piano for the first time in a while! Bishop Balderama (our bishop) asked me to prepare a special musical number for the ward conference this past sunday. Saturday fui a la capilla para encontrar una joven de JAS y nosotros preparamos una cancion para esta conferencia. Tocamos I feel my Saviors Love. She played the flute and I played the piano. It was really fun to actually play something other than straight himnos! Sunday it turned out super well and a lady in our ward came up to me after almost in tears and told me "Gracias Elder Gehring, yo siento el Espíritu cuando usted toca." And for that reason alone, I love and will always love music.

This week I studied a lot about a lot of things but I mainly focused on the Savior's love for little children. This morning I was reading in 3 Nefi 17 and I love it all but especially 21-25. The love the Savior has for the children is incredible and perfect. I then was studying about the plan of Salvation. It is so true that children under the age of 8 really are perfect and really are so close to the Savior. I know this to be true.

On tuesday of this week we were walking down a street to get to one of our appointments when a little girl, maybe 3 or 4 years old, ran from the other side of the street up to us. She didn't say anything and she looked astonished or amazed and happy too. She reached out her hand as if to touch ours. I shook her hand and she ran off. I didn't think much of it but after this we didn't talk much my comp and I. About 3 minutes later Elder Garcia stopped and looked at me and said "Ella nos conoce" (She knows us) and I was confused but the he said " Ella, esa nina. Ella sabe quien somos"

I don't know if she really knew who we were but it was such a testament to me that children are so close to the Father. This is why Christ said "Suffer the little children to come to me." They knew He was the Christ. I know that children are special and preciosos in this life. They are perfect. They cannot sin, they do not need to repent and through Christ they are saved.

I miss you all, I love you all. I love the mission, I love my Savior, and I love the little kids in this world that bring each one of us happiness.

Hurrah for Israel!


Elder Gehring
This is a photo of the view from my new house. Well what will be my new house. Right after I took this foto, a firework show started and I got it all on film. It was my late 4th of July fireworks!
Playing for ward conference!

My comp with his head replaced by the sun.

Dead snake!

These are pics of a service project we did. And also of the lunch afterward.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Come to Christ

Hello there my dearest family,
Well this week was one of the hardest weeks in all of my mission, well to this point that is. We had more trouble working with the members here than any other time. And its our fault for not emphasizing (sorry for the spelling) the importancia of their help. We are going to be better about helping the members be missionaries too. We felt pretty down until last night we looked at the whole week in total and we realized that there was success and more importantly, there were miracles.

One of the miracles that I saw and got to be a part of this week was a blessing we gave to a baby (10 months old). This nino is learning to walk and was half crawling, half walking about the house when he found his way to the kitchen. All the people here just have like camping stoves for cooking and in this instance there was a pot of boiling water waiting to be made into soup. Well he made his way to this pot and used it to stand up. And as you can imagine, it fell over and this boiling water splashed all over this poor kid. It was all an accident too. His mom looked away for 2 seconds and he was gone. He suffered severe burns on both his legs and one of his knees was super bad. They rushed him to the hospital and they had to peel away some of the dead flesh so it wouldn't get infected, but this family couldn't afford any more treatment so they took him home and made medicamentos caseros. (homemade medicine) With plants, herbs, and cream of some sort. I'm not sure exactly, but I do know that it must have been extremely painful. This family called us, and one morning we went early to their house to give him a blessing. He was asleep but moving around a lot. We gave him a blessing and then we left. The next day they called us again. Not to give another blessing, but to thank us. He had slept well that night, and when they looked at the burns the next morning they had reduced a ton and he was a happy kid, playing and smiling. He didn't have any pain, and the burns now are just little scabs. Its not going to scar and he is completely fine.

The sacerdocio (preisthood?) is real. It is a power from God. And it works miracles.

Looking back at this week, thats just one of many miracles that we saw and had the chance to be a part of.

Oh and this past lunes, one week ago today, we went bowling. And guess what?! I won. Thats right, I won bowling in Bolivia. With an astounding 121 points. It turns out that I'm terrible at bowling but the Latins have never even seen bowling before so I'm a bit better. Not to brag or anything. It turned out to be really fun but also pretty expensive. In comparison to the US, its normal and maybe even cheap but here its really expenisve. 85 Bs for one hour. But not to worry, the mission payed for it all!

Also this week was really cold. And really hot. It never gets below about 55 degrees here but the hard thing is that inside and outside is the same temp. When its cold its cold inside, outside, during the day, and duriing the night. There is no "Lets go inside because its cold" Its. "Lets go inside... oh wait its cold there too." You can't escape the cold!! Showers are the worst. Especially morning with cold because these days never ever ever have hot water and I don't know why!!!

But its all good because often the next day is hot and sunny. Its a lot like Houston here. The weather changes a ton.

Also I bought a box of mac and cheese this week. I felt like I was home with the little ones sitting on the living room floor watching Tangled or Frozen eating lunch. Except I was in my kitchen sitting on my table watching the spiders on the walls eating a bowl of badly cooked mac and cheese. But none the less, It was a good feeling. Ethan and Melanie and Carly, I want to have one of these lunches when I get home!

Well my thought is short today and its very simple. It starts with the meaning of the word "come." Its interesting that our purpose as missionaries is "Invitar a las personas a venir a Cristo." We are to invite others to come to Christ. But before we can do this we have to be with Christ. You can't invite someone to "come" to a place or in this case a person without first being there yourself. You can invite others to "go" but not to "come." This is our purpose as missionaries. First we have to be with Christ or as close as we can to Him and then after, we can invite others to do the same. I strive every day to go to Christ so that I can fulfill my purpose and Invite others to do the same.

The church is true. Christ lives. And we need to live as close to Him as possible.

I miss you all, I pray for you all.

Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Gehring
Oh and this is me bowling. Did I mention that I won? 121. Beat that.

Monday, July 7, 2014

4 de Julio

Hello there my dear family,

Well thanks for the stories about 4th of July. It made me miss home. Way to go mom and dad. I didn't do much for the 4th of July here. I just bought myself a cake and pretty much ate the entire thing myself. Also Elder Funk and I ( an otro gringo) sang the national anthem at lunch together. Then all the rest of the latins with us asked us what it meant. I realized I have a lot of vocabulary that I don't even know what it means in english let alone in Spanish. But fireworks are definitely not illegal here. You can buy any type, any size, any color, any anything that you could imagine in fireworks here for dirt cheap and in the street. You know its good stuff when you buy it in the street. But its too bad because as missionaries we can't use them... Oh well its only 2 years right?

This week was tough. We had a little less success with finding new people this week and I think I walked more this week than any other week during my short time here. My comp and I are getting a little better as far as friends go. We are still more like business aquaintences more than anything and its rough but I am trying to "open my heart" to him. That was one of his suggestions this week of how I can be better and its true, but its just hard for me sometimes. I'm really trying hard though!! 

Well there aren't a ton of funny stories this week but one thing that I'm still laughing about is a car that was selling waleles y mandarinas. We were riding our horses like normal to one of our citas with a family in the ward when we saw a bear playing soccer.. Oh wait.. no. Sorry, that was the dream I had this week.

We weren't riding horses though that would be sweet! We were just walking and a car pulled out of this house and started their route to sell waleles and mandarinas. They turned on this speaker that was on the top of their car and started calling "Waleles, waleles, mandarina, waleles" over and over again in a different order each time. The funny part was that not only were they calling and yelling this, but it was more like they were singing! Imagine what a Native American Indian song sounds like and then use the words walele, mandarina, and naranja. I couldn't stop laughing and I often find myself singing these words in my head as we walk and walk. My comp didn't think it was very funny but I sure did!

We also had interviews with President this week which was the first one that I had apart from the one in the beginning of your mission. It was really a wonderful experience. We got called in one at a time and just got to talk. Talk about everything. Your highs, lows, ups, downs, and in-betweens. And the part that stressed me out the most was trying to switch to English. That was harder than I thought and I guess that's a good sign but I hope in the end I'll be able to switch back and forth without a problem. He gave me suggestions to be better and then we closed with a prayer. What a powerful and wise man. I know with all my heart that he is called of God to be in the position he is. He has such a love for the mission. One that I every day try to develop.

We also had a wonderful experience to have a leadership meeting in a stake centre here with Elder Usera del setenta! He came and talked to us about the importance of working with members in the work of the Lord. One of my favorite parts was a comment that President Willard (mission pres) gave. We were talking about Menos activos in the area and he told us a story about When he got here in Bolivia for the first time. He said that when him and his wife got off the plane that they were supposed to go straight to the  stake center in el centro to meet up with the other mission leaders and other missionaries. He told us that in this moment he didn't know how to get to the chapel and he needed help from the asistentes and the sectraties. They helped him find the way to the chapel. He then related this to the menos activos. Sometimes they don't remember or don't know how to get to the chapel. We need to help them learn the way and take the first step. Sometimes they want to come back to church but they don't know how. We are the ones to show them the way. 

My scripture that I want to share this week is the very first verse in the Book of Mormon. 1 Nefi. 1:1. I saw something in this verse that I never saw before. This verse says "I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days." He first says that he has had many afflictions in the course of his days, but then after he says, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God. I realized that only after and if we have trials and affliciones in this life can we recognize the goodness of God in our lives. There has to be darkness to see light. There is opposition in all things. We have trials but we should see each one of them as a new opportunity to learn and see a little more of the goodness of God.

IF we see each trial as an opportunidad to learn we will find so much more happiness in this life. I love this work, I love my God, and I will serve Him till the end.

Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Gehring
This is me in a digger thing.

This is a pic of me with my cake.

This is me cutting the cake.

This is a little kid in the Castedo Family.