Monday, February 29, 2016

An Increase of Faith

Dear Family,
This week has been wonderful. We had our interviews with president which is always a highlight. I am going to miss those interviews. He is a man called of God and I sustain him.
My companion and I were in charge of the conference while President was in his office doing interviews. The Sister Trainer Leaders helped us make an agenda and it ended up being a very successful conference. We learned about the importance of Personal and Companionship studies every morning as we more effectively create lesson plans and then carry out the plans with each investigator. Elder Lockling has taught me a lot. He is very calm, patient, and makes smart decisions. 
Tomorrow I have the opportunity to attend one last Leadership Council. The study topic has been Faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement (which comes from the first chapter of Preach My Gospel). I have studied these two topics for over 2 years and yet I am amazed by the things I still learn. I have so far to go, but I love learning.
As I was meditating and studying the Atonement I realized something that I have many times taught wrongly during my mission. It is part of the first lesson from Chapter 3 in Preach my Gospel. The Earthly Ministry of Jesus Christ is often one of the most taught and for me the most misunderstood during my whole mission. More than once I have taught this lesson focusing on the Apostles, the priesthood, revelation, and all that and I quickly brush past the Atonement. It’s a great way to teach it! The investigators understand, they see the need for the same organization now and it works! My companion and I usually teach that the wicked people killed Christ and the Apostles which started the Great Apostasy that we all know. Oh how wrong I have been for 2 years! Christ was never killed. Nor did the wicked people kill him. He died. When I realized this, I noted a very big difference. To be killed means that the wicked people perused Christ and then, against His will, took away His life. In this situation, to have died means that He gave himself up, gave away His own life, and chose to do so. This is the key. The fact that He died is important but more importantly, and what makes His death a saving one, is that fact that He himself, being perfect, with no need to do so, died and sacrificed Himself. It wouldn’t have been an eternal and everlasting Atonement if it was not this way. It gave me a new perspective on how to teach repentance. If from the first moments, and investigator can see the importance of His eternal sacrifice, they will repent. 
I then went on thinking and meditating on faith. I learned that the cornerstone of our faith in Jesus Christ is the Restoration of the Gospel as outlined in the first chapter of Preach My Gospel. And the only way we come to know that the Restoration is a fact is if we receive it from the Holy Ghost- otherwise known as Personal Revelation. I then thought about it and thought about it some more. Personal Revelation is the key to an increase of Faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement. The main mission and goal of the Holy Ghost is to testify of Christ as we are taught in 2 Nephi 31:18. As we receive promptings, follow them, and search for more, we will see our faith grow. The same thing happens to investigators. As they fulfill their commitments, they receive revelation- confirming what they do is from God and automatically (because that have then chosen to do so) their faith grows, their desire to be baptized increases, and then come to understand on a more personal level the power of the Atonement.
My only goal now (to be able to teach repentance) is help others have the personal and spiritual revelation needed to have a sufficient increase in faith- therefore permitting them to repent, be baptized, and stay active in the church. 
The Holy Ghost is an actual spiritual being who has testified and who testifies to me that God lives and that His Son Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. I know they live.
Hurrah for Israel!
I love you all so much,
Elder Gehring
Bugs of Bolivia!

Monday, February 22, 2016

For me a sinner...

Dear Family,
This week had a hard ending because we didnt get to go to church. Here in Bolivia when there are elections it is prohibited have large group meetings (especially religous) so we stayed inside all day yesterday. But we had things to study and I learned a lot about how to teach repentance and baptize converts.
The rest of the week went well. A family of Investigators had a sad moment in their life as one of their grandparents passed away. We went and taught them not knowing what to say. As we searched our minds for something to say in such a hard situation, the wife (whos grandpa had died) commented on the church in general, we asked a few questions and testified about the life to come. She then bursted into tears expressing her thoughts and feelings on the whole time she has passed with the missionaries. Apparently before her grandpa passed away, he too was listening to the missionaries. When she went to the funeral, 8 Elders (from the other mission) were there helping attend family needs, clean the house, and so on. She recieved a testimony of the truthfulness of our message in one of the hardest ways possible but her testimony touched our hearts. Her and her husband are planning on being baptized in the first weeks in march. The Lord prepares his children!

I had several intercambios this week which helped me learn a lot from other missionaries. I stayed in my area here in La Colorada and Elder Lockling went to Jardin del Sur to be with our district leader. Elder Navarrette (the companion of our Distict leader came here with me. In our area with Elder Navarrette we were able to find several new investigatos who will progress and one man who has been through a major accident and cant move his body. We are hoping that the videos we leave him will help his faith in Christ grow. 

Then I had an intercambio with Elder Peña (one of the assitants) and it was one of the best learning moments I've ever had. From the moment I was with him, he inspired me to be better. I was deeply impressed by his maturity and his pure testimony of conversion. He helped me see how to testify when I dont know what else to say and he showed reverence in every moment which caused the people we taught to see him as a representative of Christ. Thats somthing I need to work on a lot. At 8pm I went back to my area and elder Lockling and I found a new family at who expressed their true desires to come unto Christ. We are excited to teach them. Their name is the Tapendaba family.

This week that is coming up, we are in charge of holding the zone conference for our zone. We planned our Zone Conference with the Sister Training leaders and we are all nervous but excited to see the growth of the zone. We analized our numbers for the past several months and looked for a common need in the zone. Elder Lockling saw that the inv. with fecha stay consistant but not the baptisms. We based our planning on that. We feel like it will be a good meeting!

I also wanted to share quickly something that I learned in Mosiah 14. I read it over and over and over again this week. I am impressed and deeply humbled by the way Abiniadi quotes Isaiah. In spanish when I read it made me see what it means for me. Isaiah doesnt use ''ellos'' or ''them'' when referring to the way Jesus was treated. He uses the verb conjugations of ''nosotros'' or ''we''. I realized how much pain I cause and caused Christ when he died. We have gone astray, we cause him pain, we hid our faces, we did this to Him but yet His stripes heal us. Yet, He forgives us. He loves us. He saves us. I cant even imagine how hard it was for Him and it makes me so sad to think that I am the one who did it to Him. It makes me hate sin and look to be better. I am humbled to know that for me he was crucified. That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled, and died.
Hurrah for Israel!!
I love you all,
Elder Gehring

Monday, February 15, 2016

Happy Carnaval

Dear family,
Sorry for not writing the last week... I forgot to advise you all about the holiday of Carnaval here in Santa Cruz. Carnaval is a period of 3 days where all kids, youth, parents, grandmas, dogs, cats, uncles, and the 2nd cousins of the family get together for half a day and then go crazy with paint, water, music, and lots of drinking for 2 and a half days. We stay inside for all 3 days. It was the same as last year... I'm not sure if you remember. It all went well. We made it out alive and didn't get too bored in the house. We had a lot of time to study and clean and cook new foods. 
These two weeks have flown by and I can't believe we are in the middle of Feburary and that 3 days ago was the 2 year mark from when I got to the MTC. Here are a few things that have happened this week.
1. It rained. And I got very very very very wet. We invited a family to be baptized while we were dripping and they said yes. They have a baptismal date.
2. Un hombre, medio ebrio, nos acercó y me llamó ''Mister Esmit'' (MIster Smith). No paramos para hablarle pero fue la primera vez que alguien me llama por ese nombre.
3. Empezamos a enseñar a una familia de ciegos. No sé cómo van a poder leer y progresar pero son muy humildes y tienen deseos de cambiar. Tuvimos que aprender una nueva manera de enseñar.
4. A large lizzard called jaúci in native guaraní somehow got into the chapel. It was a baby still but the same lizzard grows to be about 2 meters when it is an adult.

Other than some other crazy things, I'm happy which is good. During Carnaval, we watched the World Wide MIssionary Trasmission from the end of January. I think it was ELder Oaks was the one who was talking but he said that as missionaries we should pray to be able to do the Lords work and pray to understand it's importance. Its something that deeply changed my prayers, my work efforts, and my respect and love for Christ. I have tried to do it every day since carnaval and I have come to understand on a deeper level the need for repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. We are so so so close to the 2nd coming. Its here and we are the only ones who have the truth. It is a matter of choosing life or death on a very significant spiritual level. I don't even know how to explain the feelings of responsability I have. Its something that I don't want to stop, and its my motivation to keep going. This work never stops and never will stop until it has filled the whole earth. I have been so blessed to be a part of this work. Its of such great value to me. In Moses chapter 6 around verse 48 until the end of the chapter, the doctrine of Christ which is eternal is taught with clarity and power. I came to understand the true importance of this work, and I love it!! Its the most meaningful work I will ever do in my whole life. Nothing I do can or will be more important than this.

I love you all and pray for you always.

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder Gehring


Monday, February 1, 2016

Baptism and Cambios

Dear family,
This week we had transfers. My new companion is Elder Lockling. He is from Chile!! Its my first companion from chile and he is the best. I also realized I have had companions from all over the place. Australia (in the MTC), California, Utah, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Cochabamba, La Paz, Spain, Argentina, Brasil, and now Chile!! I have been blessed during these two years to learn so much from such great companions. 
President told me last transfer that I would be training. I believed him and was anxiously waiting the transfers to see what time my meeting with the new missionaries would start. I saw Elder Lockling on the list and realized that he has been here in the mission for almost a year now. Im still a zone leader but Elder Lockling has never been a district leader nor zone leader. I realized that what president had told me 1 transfer ago was true!! The Lord just works in mysterious ways sometimes. All things aside, I couldnt have asked for a better companion. He is loving, humble, and teaches with the spirit. I have a lot to learn from him these next 6 weeks. 
He came from Villamontes (another area in the mission about 6 hours in bus). But there was a blockade from a few political protesters and he didnt get here in time so even though I wasnt ''training'' I still got to go to the trainers meeting so  I wasnt alone. President must have known I needed to learn a little more. He asked me to conduct the meeting which was a wonderful opportunity and I got to be companions for 3 hours with Elder Choque (new arrival from La Paz). Its amazing how the Lord thinks of each one of his children individually. I learned so much. 

I am doing well. My faith is growing as I have studied Preach My Gospel more this week than any other time in my mission. I have searched chapter 3 for doctrine over and over and over. And I am realizing the power that it has. Also, as a zone we started to choose activities from the back of each chapter to study during Personal Study, Companionship study, and then District meetings. We feel that as we have a foundation of PMG in each level of study (personal, companionship, and district) that our investigators will progress even more. The 3 serve as connected studies. I have often thought that the first 2 were connected and then once a week I go to District meetings but thats not right. They all 3 have to be connected in some way. And the key is chapter 3. The Doctrine in chapter 3 is the link between good personal, companionship, and district studies. Even in PMG it explains that the purpose of district meeting is D&C 88:77 and D&C 43:8. I love teaching the gospel. I think I might just study the Gospel for the rest of my life and be Seminary Teacher. I cant think of anyother way to be and stay happy. 
As far as the area goes, they took the 2 sisters out of the ward and Elder Lockling and I inherited their area. We are now the only 2 Elderes in the ward. We have some new families that are progressing and are excited to see them be baptized. Keep praying for the Callisaya family and Diego and Jaquelin. Also the Shiriki family. They all are coming to church and looking and searching their answers. Pray that they will find them. 
Quick: Baptism. Its the key to happiness. God knew that so he set the standard high so we could actually earn it and prove ourselves worthy. Read Moroni 6. To me it sounds like there were so many people begging to be baptized but they couldnt because they didnt have a broken heart yet. How wonderful would it be to have so many people begging to be baptized because they understand repentance and baptism but just need a little help breaking their heart and spirit. I wasnt to change the way I teach and focus in the doctrine of baptism and repentance. Then their hearts will break naturally. This week it was a new way I looked at baptism... I dont know if I am explaining myself well. Baptism is such a blessing. Baptism was intituted for us, not us for Baptism. Its not just to have more people in the church. Its salvation!!
Hurrah for Israel!
Love and more love,
Elder Gehring
Elder Lockling and I.
Elder Peñaranda didnt want to wash a cup...

How to give directions in Bolivia... It works though. I found my way.