Monday, December 28, 2015

The Atonement and Goals

Dear Family,
This week was wonderful. I loved talking to you all and Im happy to know everyone is well. I want to tell a few stories.
1. I tried a fruit called Merei. It wasnt as good as it looked. 
2. This sunday a dog got into the Chapel. I had to repent when I got home because I lost my patience and several times forced it out.
3. We met a family. His name is Jose Luis and hers is Marlene. They were getting home in a taxi when we stopped and talked to them. They let us in and from the moment we said the first prayer, we could tell how spiritually sensative they were. We talked with them, shared personal feelings and experiences and they both opened up a lot. We felt that we should talk of the Atonement with them. Their eyes filled with tears as the Spirit testified to them of the pure love the Savior has for them. We invited them to be baptized, set a return appointment, and listened as Jose Luis said a beautiful prayer kneeling next to his wife. I was touched by their ability to recognize spiritual promptings. They taught me so much. Pray for them. 
4. We talked about the importance of working in church yesterday. I love Bolivia because everyone always has something to say. Its one of my favorite things to listen too. One brother in our ward raised his hand and shared such a humble and beautiful comment. He stood up and said '' You know what!? The only thing we need to teach our kids to do is to sew shoes. Shoes are the first thing that get worn out and if they know how to sew shoes, they'll be fine for the rest of their lives.'' (Something like that). I couldnt help but smile. It made me want to learn how to sew shoes. I love Bolivia. 

5. In Elders Quorum we talked about setting goals. Then the teacher gave us a half sheet of paper and told us to write 5 categories for our goals. Personal, Familiar, Church, Work, Studies. I started thinking of these areas and was able to better set goals for this next year. I want to develop more some talents I think I have neglected. I want to be a better student here in my mission as I learn from my companions and leaders and also when I return to the Y this next year. I want to work like Elder Peñaranda works- both right now in my mission and when I get home. He has taught me what work is. I have several other goals- run a marathon with you dad :), write more spiritual things in my journal instead of just what happened, learn portugese, etc. But the one goal I want to share came this morning as I studied the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 

I was reading in the Nov 2015 Liahona the talk by Elder Oaks. I have always known that the Atonment saves us from mortal and spiritual death that came as a result of the Fall. I also have always known that through faith, repentence, baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end, we can be clensed of all of our sins thus being saved from the second spiritual death. The condition is that we take the sacrament every week and truly repent. But I was reminded of a special truth of the Atonement as I searched the words of Elder Oaks. The Atonement not only saves us but gives us comfort, divine help, support, and relief in the darkest, sadest, and most weighed down moments in our lives. The condition is simply that we ask. I always try to use the Atonement fully in my life. I try to repent daily, be better, find my faults, take the sacrament worthily, etc. but I realized this morning I have neglected many times before this beautiful part of the Atonement. I knew He could comfort me and support me and carry by burdens but I sometimes dont ask- which is the only condition. Elder Oaks said: ''Alma taught that the Savior would 'take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people' and 'succor his people' '' His people, explains Elder Oaks, means anyone who asks. My goal is simple. 

I will more fully use the Atonement in my life by humbly asking God in my darkest hours- with faith, hope, and love that His Son will heal, protect, comfort, bare, carry, and replace my burdens with joy and peace. And I know I will have, as Elder Oaks testified, ''the assurance of immortality, the opportunity for eternal life, and the sustaining strength... if only (I) will ask''

I love you all and hope you all can set new goals for this new year. Elder Ballard helps understand why.

“I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don’t set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When one learns to master the principles of setting a goal, he will then be able to make a great difference in the results he attains in this life.”
Happy New Year.

Lots of love,
Elder Gehring


Monday, December 21, 2015

Come, Let us Adore Him

Dear family,
These past weeks have been wonderful. I have learned and I feel I have grown. I simply want to share my love of the Savior and the happiness I receive from the glorious event in a humble stable over 2000 years ago.
For the Christmas conference we had with President Willard and his wife, we prepared ourselves by looking for something that reminded us of Christ. He called it the 12- Ways of Christ- Más. (12 ways to have Christ MORE in our lives) Each of us chose one of the 12 ways to remember Him and the decorated an ornament with what we had learned. I chose part of the Hymn Jesus Lover of My Soul and a title used in the book of Hebrews. ''Capitan of My Soul''. I learned more though as I searched the scriptures for what I wanted to decorate my ornament with. I hope you all can do the same- look for a new way to remember Christ this Christmas.

What a wonderful time of year to remember Him. President Willard, Sister WIllard, and their 2 daughters sang Away in A Manger in the end of the Conference. These words touched my heart. 

I love thee, Lord Jesus; look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.
After the conference, President invited us to do one thing. Worship Christ in a new way this year. We talked about what it means to worship, how we worship Him, and how the Wise Men worshiped Him. We read as a mission in Mateo 2: 9 - 12.

9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
Read these verses and look for a new meaning of worship. Think of how you personally worship Him and how you can better worship Him.
I just want to share my goal for worshiping Him this Christmas. I found something that has touched me and made me realize that everyting points to Christ. In Mosiah 15:5. ''And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God...'' I realized a new and more perfect way of following Him. As I yield my flesh to the Spirit, I am following the example of Christ yielding to His Father. Christ showed us everything and everything shows evidence of Him. His perfectness in doing the Father's will is what we should do with the Spirit. Christ's yielding to the Father is like our yielding to the Spirit. I feel I have falied more than once in this. I hear the Spirit but many times I lack faith to follow it. I have set the goal to follow Christ's example more by following the Spirit. I want to worship Him as did the Wise Men by following the Star (Spiritual promptings) in my life to make my way to the manger where He is laid. 

This Christmas I hope to be humble enough, as were the Wise Men and Shepherds, to go, adore, and worship ''...her firstborn son...wrapped... in swaddling clothes... (lying) in a manger...''
Merry Christmas with love,
Elder Gehring
Here's the Family who is going to be baptized. Leoncio and Aida Cabrera

These are the missionaries in the stake after a Christmas Missionary Activity


Monday, December 7, 2015

Just A Few Thoughts on Giving A Talk

Just a few thoughts on giving a talk. 

1. Love the topic you choose. Let the members feel that you love with all your heart what you talk about. This can come through personal stories and testimonies

3. Simplicity. Be careful not to complicate your words, and don't feel like you need to put flowers on everything. You never know who is in the congregation for the first time, who is visiting, etc. There is beauty in simplicity. Both in words, and in testimony. I have learned this a lot here on my mission. Its hard for me still but it will help you.

2. Teach Doctrine. Based on the topic you or they choose, teach doctrinal principles that can bless the lives of those who listen. Teach new things, don't just share what everyone else shares. Find personal meanings of the doctrine and share how you apply it. Here's and example. Im still not very good at it but maybe this can help with this principle of ''teaching new things''. 

This is something I wrote to my President last week:  ''I learn a lot which is good but I sometimes feel like there are just too many things I need to do better and I lose sight of just fixing one thing at a time. I read a talk by Elder Christofferson about repentance this week and I realized the importance of repentance for our eternal progression. Baptism is not a step after repentance. It IS repentance. It is the last step. It doesn't cleanse us either. It is the promise of our personal repentance that we will be more obedient than before. It simply qualifies us for the reception of the Holy Ghost. Then the Holy Ghost purifies us, and gives us the spiritual confirmation that God remembers our sins no more. Even after being baptized, repentance is not complete until we take the sacrament, promise again that we will be more obedient than before, and qualify ourselves to receive the Holy Ghost again. The miracle is that God promises to heal us, cleanse us, and even forget our sins if we truly repent. I sometimes don't repent well enough I think. Maybe there will be tears, heartache, sadness, pain, but as Elder Christofferson promised: ''Any pain entailed in repentance will always be far less than the suffering required to satisfy justice for unresolved transgression.'' The Holy Ghost will purify us and replace all pain with a feeling of love and comfort. I hope to do this more this week.'' 

You can take any topic and really study it and find the new things there. You and the rest of the congregation will learn more if you dig deeper into the personal purposes of the Doctrine of Jesus Christ.

3. Living prophets are more important to us than dead prophets. President Ezra Taft Benson taught: “The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet. . . . “. . . God’s revelations to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the Ark. Noah needed his own revelation. Therefore, the most important prophet, so far as you and I are concerned, is the one living in our day and age to whom the Lord is currently revealing His will for us. Therefore, the most important reading we can do is any of the words of the prophet . . . contained each month in our Church magazines. Our marching orders for each six months are found in the general conference addresses, which are printed in the Ensign magazine''

 I would encourage to always always quote teachings of some modern day prophet. Maybe look for the most recent teaching and stories by the prophets. But the scriptures are always a help. I like to use them more for doctrinal digging (point number 2) but you're the best mom, you know how to do it better than I. 

4. Trust in the Spirit. The Spirit is a powerful gift God has promised us that are baptized. Use his guidance as you choose the things you will say. Pray for help, revelation, and comfort. 

5. Christ is the center. Jesus Christ should always be the center of our thoughts and words. Teach about Him, share your testimony of Him, and discover the relation He has with the topic you teach. Luckily your topic will most likely be CHRISTmas related so putting Christ in the middle shouldn't be too hard. He is our Savior and Because of Him we are here. Make your testimony of Him the foundation, light, and life of your talk.  

I hope this helps. Im not great at giving talks either but I thought these might be a few helpful points. I love you lots. Let me know how the prep goes.

Your son,
Elder Gehring
Here are some wonderful Bolivian Children. 

Also, I think when you Chelsea have your first kid, you should keep him in a wheelbarrow like this.


Monday, November 30, 2015

Winding Roads, Temples, and Repentance

Dear Family,
This week on Monday-Friday we traveled to Tarija and to Bermejo. We helped President with a Conference down there. It was cool to see a few members of my old ward there in Tarija. We got to eat with the Bishop and spend the rest of the day visiting investigators. We then in the night went to Bermejo. Its about a 3 hour drive on very very curvy roads. I usually dont get carsick but after about 2 hours or so I was feeling pretty dizzy. A member who lives in Bermejo drove us. He works for a minivan company that drives people all day long. He is know as the driver that speeds the whole time. We were going about 75 the whole time. Way too fast for the car we were in and the road we were on. In Bermejo we were able to help the District Leader prepare for the conference President did the next day and we also did divisions in their area to help them find more people to teach. It turned out really well. The whole three days we traveled in the night to have more time with the missionaries during the day but after 3 days of not sleeping very much, we were pretty worn out. On the flight home early in the morning Thursday, we sat next to a Brazilian in the plan. My companion was pretty good at talking to him in Portuguese. I tried to talk to him too but then he responded in English. Turns out he spoke 4 languages, conoce todo el mundo, and loves God! It was really neat to talk to him about the Book of Mormon and the power it has in our lives. He read 3 Nefi 11 right there in the plane. Even though we werent in our area during those 3 days, I feel like God was looking out for our investigators. 

Thursday-Sunday were wonderful days. The members offered to help us more and more and on friday we had a great coordination meeting with the ward mission leader and the ward missionaries. We planned how to help the investigators attend church, how to help them progress and everyone got pretty excited. On Saturday night we made a few calls to remind the ward missionaries of their assignments. Sunday came along and it was raining really hard in the morning. When it rains here, no one leaves the house. The Cabrera Family (ages 62 and 60) committed to going to church but the mom (Aida) is a little sick and its hard for her to leave the house and even worse if its raining. We changed around the plans a bit and in the end, the 2nd counselor in the Bishopric picked them up in his car and brought them to church. It was wonderful to see them there. They have a baptismal date for the 19 of dec and its wonderful to see them progress. Their main goal is the Temple. We have talked so much about the temple with them. They just want to be married forever. 44 years ago they got married and in 1 year they will be married for the eternities.

As I studied this week, the topic of repentance came up a lot. I think because I have to do it a lot. I've always studied that its the 2nd principle of the Gospel, it makes us clean, its hard, etc. But I have never realized how essential it is to our eternal salvation until I read a talk by Elder Christofferson from the Oct. 2011 General Conference. I just want to share a few parts that I liked a lot. 

- Repentance is a divine gift, and there should be a smile on our faces when we speak of it. It points us to freedom, confidence, and peace. Rather than interrupting the celebration, the gift of repentance is the cause for true celebration.

- Repentance is the necessary condition, and the grace of Christ is the power by which “mercy can satisfy the demands of justice” (Alma 34:16).

- The invitation to repent is an expression of love.

- With repentance we can steadily improve in our capacity to live the celestial law, for we recognize that“he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory” (D&C 88:22).

- For our turning to the Lord to be complete, it must include nothing less than a covenant of obedience to Him. We often speak of this covenant as the baptismal covenant since it is witnessed by being baptized in water (see Mosiah 18:10).

- “The choice to repent is a choice to burn bridges in every direction [having determined] to follow forever only one way, the one path that leads to eternal life.”

- Confessing and forsaking are powerful concepts. They are much more than a casual “I admit it; I’m sorry.”Confession is a deep, sometimes agonizing acknowledgment of error and offense to God and man.Sorrow and regret and bitter tears often accompany one’s confession, especially when his or her actions have been the cause of pain to someone or, worse,have led another into sin. It is this deep distress, this view of things as they really are, that leads one, as Alma, to cry out, “O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death”(Alma 36:18). 

- With faith in the merciful Redeemer and His power, potential despair turns to hope. One’s very heart and desires change, and the once-appealing sin becomes increasingly abhorrent. A resolve to abandon and forsake the sin and to repair, as fully as one possibly can, the damage he or she has caused now forms in that new heart. This resolve soon matures into a covenant of obedience to God. With that covenant in place, the Holy Ghost, the messenger of divine grace,will bring relief and forgiveness. One is moved to declare again with Alma, “And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I [do] behold; yea, my soul [is] filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!” (Alma 36:20). Any pain entailed in repentance will always be far less than the suffering required to satisfy justice for unresolved transgression. 
I know it was a lot but all these paragraphs were important to me. 

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder Gehring

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Lost Sheep

Dear Family,

This week was a good one. I want to share a few things I learned. 

1. The importance of planning. President put us in charge of part of the zone conference this week and we prayed and thought about what it was that we needed to talk about. As we discussed our ideas with President we came to the conclusion that as a mission we really are not very good at coming home every night and planning really well for the next day. My companion and I studied Preach My Gospel, the District videos and realized the importance of not just putting names down in a time slot. We need to plan important activities for every hour of the day. Even our goals should be so specific that we can fulfill them every 30 minutes - How many people are we going to talk to, how many Book of Mormon copies are we going to give away, what street are we going to talk to about Family History etc. We have seen a huge difference in our companionship and in our effectiveness as missionaries just by being better about planning. 

2. We went yesterday to a members house to follow up about a referral they had given us. We got there knocked on the door but no one was home. We then saw that they were pulling 2 huge branches that they had cut off from a near by tree. We offered to help pull them. We set them down and almost immediately a small group of about 12 sheep came running around the corner. They frantically started eating every leaf in sight. I tried to touch one but it got scared and ran off. To my surprise, the other 11 followed the one startled sheep as if they too were frightened. Then after about 30 seconds, one brave sheep inched toward the branches again. It took a bite and immediately all the rest bolted around the corner without the slightest bit of fear. I realized how much they not only physically stayed together but seemed to share an emotional bond. When one is scared, the others too are scared. When one is happy, the others too are happy. When one is brave, the other too loose all fear and are brave. I asked the member a few things about why they acted like this and he explained that all sheep are like that. And immediately I thought of Christ's parable of The Lost Sheep. 

4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

 5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

 7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Not only will the man who lost his sheep have a fullness of joy, but also his sheep! This member explained to me that when one sheep is separated from the rest, it cries, and cries, longs to go back, and gets so scared. Sometimes, he said, they even die from being so scared and from crying so much. Christ saves us from such anguish. Not only is the shepherd blessed to have found his one sheep, but also the one sheep will be fill with such comfort that never again will it leave his flock. I realized how often I am the lost sheep. I don't have to be inactive from the church to be a lost sheep. The lost sheep is a representation of the pains and guilt of sin. Every tiny sin brings guilt and sadness which can only be healed by repentance. The joy which heaven feels when they see us repent is the same or even greater than the joy we personally feel when we repent. I love the Savior and I am so grateful for the Good Shepherd that He is. 

And dad, you inspired me to share what I am thankful for this week. 

I am thankful for my companion and the example he is to me. I am thankful for my President who inspires me by who he is. I am thankful for my investigators who teach me patience, love, and diligence. I am thankful for my parents who have never failed to be everything I could ever want. I am thankful for internet that allows me to write my thoughts and feelings every week! I am thankful for the Holy Ghost who purifies, guides, and comforts me even though I am far from perfect. I am grateful for the scriptures that provide and endless source of personal revelation and guidance. I am thankful for medicine that heals me in Bolivia when I need it. I am thankful to hold the priesthood through which I have the duty to serve others. I am grateful for miracles which help me see that God loves me. I am thankful for Jesus Christ who is my example and all that I wish to become. And I am thankful for His eternal sacrifice that provides, as long as I repent, the eternal promise of forgiveness, happiness, love, and, in the end, life with Him. 

Hurrah for Israel!!
Lots of Love,
Elder Gehring

Monday, November 16, 2015

Puerto Suarez and Lots of Miracles

Dear Family,

This week we traveled to Puerto Suarez which is the last city before crossing over to Brasil from Bolivia. We traveled in what is called a Suite Cama. Its really nice. Full A/C and big leather seats that turn into beds. (I sent the foto with the other email). All the fotos I sent were from the trip. Its pretty different from here in Santa Cruz. More jungly. And waaaaay hotter. While we were there it got up to about 44 C and the week before it hit 51-52 C. Really really really hot. And its all super humid. I've never sweat so much just standing in the shade.

We came home and had a great week. Anselmo Coca was rescued and received a calling to be a ward missionary. He is going to start coming with us to visit. He got to church late because he didn't know what time it was. Elder Santos gave away his watch so it wouldn't happen again. 

The Cabrera family is progressing a lot. Aida (the mom) went to church and loved it. She had never felt so happy before in a church. She loved the classes and Relief Society. In the Gospel Principles class we talked about the signs of the second coming. We got to talking about temples and we showed a few pictures of the Cochabamba Temple and Aida got so excited. When we visited them Sunday night she gave it pretty hard to her husband (Leoncio) that he hadn't gone. It worked well I think. He felt bad but in a sense to be better. She told him about the temple and how beautiful it was and she told him ''We are getting married there, okay!?'' We are excited to see their progress. 

It was also Presidents Birthday on Saturday and Elder Santos and I gave him a tie. You know how sometimes kids make homemade ties for fathers day?? That's what we did but with the colors of Bolivia. We ran to his house on Saturday Morning and then left it on his doorstep. I think he liked it! It was fun to make. 
On Saturday and Sunday we found several new families who are excited to learn about the gospel! I hope you all too can share the gospel this week. Set goals, make plans, and pray that the Lord will help you succeed. Maybe start with 1 Book of Mormon a week. Then 2, then 3, then invite someone to church, then invite someone to meet the missionaries, maybe even to be baptized!! God will bless you.

I love you all. 
Hurrah for Israel!
Elder Gehring