Monday, December 30, 2013

Hello again!

Dumela ya'll!

I just talked to you on Wednesday and not much has happened since then so I don't really have much to say today. But once again It was so so so good to talk to you! It doesn't feel real that Christmas has already come and gone. I hit my half way point this week! And its already almost 2014. Can you believe it?? I got my call in 2012. Time is going too fast! I don't want to think about it anymore...

Well for the sake of anyone reading this who I wasn't able to talk to on Christmas, I'll tell you about Christmas! It really was one of the best Christmases ever even though I was away from home. On Christmas eve we spent the day going around and caroling at a private hospital in town. We went to almost every single patient and sang and gave out little chocolates. It was really cool to see them light up as we came by. I think we might have set a record for making people cry. It was really great. Then for the rest of the day we mostly just helped out Sister Abraham. For dinner we joined in Elder and Sister Abraham's family tradition and had hamburgers and chocolate milkshakes. Then all the sisters had a sleepover in the living room at our flat and watched 17 Miracles and sang Christmas songs together. It was a lot of fun and it felt like family.

Then on Christmas morning all the missionaries went over to the Abraham's house and did a gift exchange. Each person got 1 gift that was collectively from all the other missionaries. They got me some paints and a canvas which I am super excited to use. Then we spent the rest of the day going around to less actives and other members who were alone for Christmas. Surprisingly enough, I think we broke our Christmas eve record for making people cry! People were so grateful to have us come. And that's what we did literally all day. Just went caroling to members of the branch. I loved it so much. It was completely focused on others and it really helped us all to remember the real reason for the holiday. Something pretty cool happened for lunch though. So a few days before, someone who works at a pizza place met the other sisters and requested that on Christmas we come and carol at the place where she works. So we did! All the sisters went and sang at this pizza place in town. By the end of it there was a crowd of probably 25+ people all gathered around watching and listening. It was pretty cool. The manager of the restaurant loved it so much he decided that he wants to be a member of our church! " From this day on I don't want to go to any other church except this one!" Then he gave us 2 free pizzas. We found a ton of people who are now interested in learning about the gospel just because of that! Incredible huh?!

Then for dinner we all went to the Abraham's house. We invited the Lapuken family (the branch president's family) over, too. It was really nice to be able to spend Christmas dinner with them all. I sat next to their 7 year old son, Clive, for dinner and it was one of the most hilarious experiences of my life! We clicked right away and the whole dinner I mostly spent talking to him. I kind of felt like it was just him and me at the little-kid- table and everyone else was at the grown-up-table having their own conversations. We just cracked jokes the whole time. It was the best. It reminded me of how much I miss little kids but it was the best!

And then I got to talk to you! Its crazy how normal it felt. I thought it would be weird hearing your voices but it wasn't. I just felt like I was calling you from BYU or something. Melanie and Ethan are the only ones that sounded different. Ethan wasn't even talking in sentences when I left and now he can say Articles of Faith and Melanie just sounds so grown up!

Since then literally nothing has happened though. Sister Clifford and I have actually been really sick so we have been on pretty strict bed rest. I don't know what it is but Africa seems to bring out the worst in my health. I get sick way too often here. This time its just been really really bad headaches and fatigue. We are going in to see a doctor tomorrow so hopefully it'll all be fine soon! 

Well for not having much to say I sure said a lot! But I'm about out of time so I'll talk to you next week! Thanks again for all you do for me. And once again, it was so good to talk to you!  I love you so so much. Give yourself a great big hug from me! and have a great New Year celebration!!! 

Lots of love, 
Sister Chelsea Gehring
p.s. the zone leaders are coming down tomorrow for a meeting so they will be bringing mail. Hopefully i'll get the Christmas stuff that didn't quite make it on time!
The elders bought themselves sunglasses for Christmas. Apparently that automatically makes them into a boy band.
SANTA!!!!! I KNOW HIM!!!!!

You sit on a throne of lies... You smell like beef and cheese. You don't smell like Santa!
All the Sisters on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve sleepover in the living room.

Christmas morning at the Abraham's house!
On the way to go caroling.

The whole Mafikeng family on Christmas.

As requested: a picture of my bed and the decorations.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! 

There really isn't much to report this week. Mostly all we did was tract all day every day with not much success. President and Sister Wilson came down and did a devotional with us though and thats what I want to share about this week.

President Wilson asked us when we thought the first documented Christmas tree was. After a few guesses he told us to turn to 1 Nephi 8. Any guesses now? .... Yup! Its the tree of life! He then had us turn to 1 Nephi 11: 1-23. When Nephi asked to see the meaning of the tree of life, the first thing he saw was the birth of the Saviour. 

That was my mission president's message to us and now its my message to you. The reason we celebrate this season is to remember the birth of Jesus Christ and all the incredible things he has done for us. This, like the fruit of the Tree of Life in Lehi's dream, will bring us joy to the soul. The knowledge we have of the Saviour is the most precious and desirable thing we could ever obtain. We should take the time this season to share that joy with others. That is the best you could ever give. So amid the trees and the presents and the letters to Santa, take time to remember your older Brother who has always, and will always be there for you. 

I know that Jesus Christ really was born on Earth. I know that He loves us all. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His church here on earth. I know that if we focus on the real meaning for this Christmas season, we will be able to feel the love that Christ has for us.

Merry Christmas once again! I hope its a great day for everyone! And I'll talk to you so soon!!!

Lots of love, 

Sister Chelsea Gehring

Awkward family photo next to the Christmas tree. (lips are courtesy of Sister Anderson's mom)

All the South African Sisters! Sister Twongeirwe, Sister Gillis, Me, Sister Clifford, Sister Anderson

Africa has the best sunsets!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Wierdo week

Dear family! 

I just want to start off by apologizing that I wasn't able to email you yesterday. As you probably already know, Nelson Mandela passed away last week. His funeral was on Sunday and then yesterday was kind of like a day of mourning. Everything was closed in respect of Mandela's passing. 

Well Like I said, it was kind of a weird week. First of all, Sister Anderson and Sister Twongeirwe came! I am now in a 3-some with Sister Clifford and Sister Anderson! I'm excited to be companions with her again. Its a little weird cause we have both grown a lot since we were last companions but its been great so far. All 5 of us sisters live in the same little flat so things are a bit crowded but we are making it work. 

Thats not what made the week weird though. What made it weird was all the random medical issues! It all started on Wednesday. We were going to pick up a member so she could go teaching with us. She has 8 dogs. I have gotten a lot better about dogs since coming on mission. I still don't particularly love them but I'm ok with them. Well these dogs were smallish but they were circling me very suspiciously the whole time we were at the member's door. All of a sudden the biggest one went crazy. It charged at me and started chewing on my leg. Then a couple of the others thought it looked like fun so they joined. My companions literally had to pull me away while the member got the dogs. By some miracle none of them broke the skin. But my leg was super swollen and scratched up and bruised. It hurt. A lot. So we had to cancel our lesson so we could go home and I could take care of my leg. That pretty much took up an entire afternoon. It was crazy. But I can officially say I have been bit by a dog on mission! I'm a real missionary now! (p.s. Im completely ok now. I still have a pretty nasty bruise wrapped around my whole leg but nothing I can't handle)

So there was that on Wednesday. Then Thursday and Friday were pretty normal days. We did some tracting, we taught some lessons. Everything was fine and dandy. But then Friday night Sister Anderson was having some  pain in her lower stomach. It got progressively worse as the night went on and by the time she went to bed it was really bad. Sister Clifford and I diagnosed her as best we could. Then Saturday morning the Elders came over and gave her a blessing. After that it got so bad we decided to take her to the emergency room. We spent a good chunk of the day there. After a few hours she was released with antibiotics and pain killers. Turns out Sister Clifford had diagnosed right! Then we stayed with her the rest of the day while she rested. Same thing happened Sunday. I got to go to church with Sister Abraham but after that we just stayed home with Sister Anderson. She's doing a TON better now. The medicine is working and we are back to work! 

So yea we didn't get to do much missionary work this week. And even the work we did do was slow. Everyone is gone out of town for Christmas already.  I wish there was more to report... Hopefully this coming week will be better. 

Yesterday was fun even though we weren't able to email. Some members took us to a dam just outside of town. We didn't actually even see the dam. It was basically just a lake. It was so much fun. It was nice to just be outside having fun with the other missionaries. I got to wear a Zulu headband, we got to skip rocks, we saw some donkeys. Nothing overly exciting but just lots of fun.

We also decorated our christmas tree this week! Its the best we could do with the circumstances and our budget but its wonderful. The elders were great and went and got it for us. Then we spent an evening stringing popcorn and paper chains. It turned out great. Its amazing how different it feels being away from home but how it can still be home here. 

My favorite scripture this week was Romans 1:16 which I know we have all read a hundred times but it really hit me this week. It made me stop and think if its true or not for me in my life. I made it a goal to be more bold in expressing my love for the gospel. 

Well I am so excited to talk to you next week! One week from tomorrow is Christmas!!!! I can't believe its almost here!!! Its nuts! Time is going way too fast. 

Have a great week! I love you all so much!

Love, Sister Gehring
Me icing my dog bite.

Sister Anderson in the hospital... poor girl.

The triumphant release!!
This guy was at the dam catching fish and cleaning them right there on the shore. I was so proud of myself! I watched and I didn't get sick!

Me and Sister Twongeirwe. Thats a traditional Zulu headband. Sadly its not mine. Its Elder Brown's 
Ready for battle!!!!!!
Everyone at the dam! 

Me and my companions.
This picture was an accident but it turned out really funny! They tried to pick me up but my weight wasnt balanced so I started falling back. Then Elder brown was pretending to punch at us and his fist turned out in the perfect spot. Fun stuff!
Me and my former companions!

Our lovely Christmas tree. I know its not much but its home.
Elaine with the present she gave me. It was a hang made bracelet wrapped in a hand decorated tin can. It was adorable!

Daphne showing us old photos (she's one of our new oumas).

Monday, December 9, 2013

My 23 new grandmas!

Dear family,
Hello!!! How goes it? I hope everything is great there and you are happy. Christmas is almost here! I'm so excited. I keep getting more and more into the Christmas spirit! Especially with one thing we did this week. 
Remember how last week I told you about going to the retirement home and how great it was? Well we go there a lot. A few times a week at least. The people there love us so much and I love them too! They have just adopted us right in to their family. Sometimes we go and just visit, sometimes we do chair yoga with them, sometimes we help serve them their afternoon tea. But this week we got to go and do a Christmas music sing-a-long! It was so much fun! A lot of them are too old to be able to sing but those who could, did. And those who couldn't just listened. Elder Butcher played the piano for us and then me and Sister Gillis and Sister Clifford took turns conducting. It was so incredible. They all loved it so much. You could tell by looking at their faces as we were singing that it really lifted their spirits. Then Elder Brown dressed up as Santa again and they all took photos with him. The whole activity is one of my favorite things I have done on mission so far. The residents there have become like my grandmas. They call us their kids and we call them grandma. I am just in love with that place!!!
Not a whole lot else really happened this week. We are mostly just still trying to find people to teach. The Elders were great and went through their area book for us and got like 30 names of people who had been contacted in the past but weren't being taught right now. So we spent a lot of the week calling them and trying to find their houses to see if they were still interested. We didn't have a whole lot of success. We found a lot of them but a lot of them weren't interested in learning more about the church. One of the names on the list had no phone number. It was just a man's name and for his address it said "Look for a big house with shiny cars on the way to the game reserve" I wish I was kidding... But by a miracle, we actually found the house! We decided to just try it out. So we headed towards the game reserve (which is in our area. How cool is that? we have a game reserve in our area!) We saw a few big houses but none that really stood out. Until we were almost there. There was a HUGE house with a HUGE gate. The garage was open and there were 2 Bentleys inside. parked outside were 3 other super nice, super shiny cars. Turns out it was the right house! The family wasn't interested anymore but it was still amazing that we were able to find the house.
That's about all that happened... Just moving the work along! Oh we also got transfer news this week! Obviously I'm not being transferred. But Sister Anderson and Sister Twongeirwe also lost their residency in Botswana so they are coming to Mafikeng! I'm excited to have them here. They are both super great missionaries but I am really sad too. I am staying with Sister Clifford but Sister Gillis is leaving our companionship. These last few weeks have just been perfect. The work has been amazing and the missionaries I have been serving with have become a family. We are so close. Elder Allred is being transferred to Bots, we are getting a brand new, fresh out of the MTC elder and 2 more sisters are coming. Our family is changing. I had a hard time with it when I found out. But I'm sure it will all be fine. Its the Lord's work! If there is one thing these past weeks have taught me its that God really is in charge of His missionaries.
Well I hope your week is great! Merry 2.5 weeks till Christmas!!!! I love you so so so much!
Love, Sister Gehring
p.s. all the awesome animal pictures are from today. This morning we went on a game drive. It was incredible. We saw a TON of animals and the weather was perfect. I wish my camera was able to capture it better. Everyone should be able to see the beauty of Africa at least once in their lives.
My district!

Merry Christmas from Africa!.... yes those are donkeys!
A package from home!
Zebras! We saw a ton but these were the closest.

Rhinos! The momma and her baby. We got super close to these too.

Giraffe family!!! The baby was adorable. It was amazing-they always stuck together.
We were so close!

More giraffe pictures. They were so cool!
This is what happens when you let the elders hold your camera... (p.s. they switched name tags. From left to right its Elder Butcher, Elder Brown and Elder Johnson)

My amazing companions! Sister Clifford and Sister Gillis.

And my amazing District! We definitely did not plan on matching. We are just that unified.
This is the view from my flat. Lovely huh?

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Holidays are Here!

Hello family!!!

Wow this week was full of celebration! It was a way fun week but it was also full of even more great missionary work! I guess I'll start off by talking about Thanksgiving. 

So all during the day Sister Gillis and Sister Clifford went out and did the teaching and tracting for the day. I stayed back and helped Sister Abraham get everything ready. I never realized how much work a Thanksgiving dinner really is! It took all day! And we even tried to simplify! Once everything was ready we all came together to eat. None of us got to celebrate Halloween so we all dressed up for Thanksgiving instead. It was a lot of fun. Very silly but it made it memorable for sure. Sister Abraham challenged us all to think of something each hour of the day that we were thankful for. Then at dinner we all went around and shared. It was a really cool assignment. It really made you stop and think all throughout the day about the little things to be thankful for. I almost always remember to be thankful for the big blessings but a lot of the times I forget to be thankful for the little things. I really enjoyed doing it.The dinner was great too and afterward we all just hung out and played games. The Elders played elbow and knee Twister. Have you ever heard of it? Well its hilarious just in case you were wondering. all around it was just a really great day.

The other celebration was the Branch Christmas party. That was a lot of fun too. And one of our investigators that we just started teaching came and LOVED it! It was so exciting! Then she came to church on Sunday!!! Anyways, yea it was really great. The Elders braaied (grilled) a lot of meat and everyone from the branch brought side dishes. I love South African food. I've been fed more in the two weeks I've been here than in all my time in Bots. Elder Brown Dressed up as Santa and mostly everyone just had fun spending time with each other, singing hymns, and eating. The members here are amazing. I already love it here.

I guess that was the only celebration we did this week. The rest of the week was great too. We volunteered at a retirement home on Friday which was awesome. I love old people. They make me so happy. They just have so many great stories! We got to help serve their tea and then we just sat and talked with them for a while. Its amazing to see how much they light up when they have visitors. 

This week we also finally started teaching more. Not as much as I am used to but still more than we did last week. I didn't realize how much I missed teaching! We are teaching a girl named Joyce. She's the one who came to the party. She is from Malawi but right now she is working for a family in the branch. She is so prepared. When we got to her house on Sunday to teach her she couldn't even wait for us to get out of the car. She ran to us and led us inside and then she ate up everything we taught her. She doesn't speak English too well which is a challenge but the language of the Spirit is universal so it was ok.  She was beaming the whole time. Then at the end of the lesson we asked her if she had any questions about what we taught and she said " No but I want you to come back all the time and teach me everything about the gospel!" Heavenly Father sure is good to us. 

I am so happy here. I miss Botswana but honestly I don't want to go back. Its been the same each time I left an area. I miss it like crazy but wherever I am at the moment becomes home. I still think Monarch is my favorite area and I would LOVE to go back and visit but Mafikeng is my home now. I'm making the most of it. We are working hard, we are being obedient, and we are seeing the blessings from that. It doesn't hurt that its been raining almost every day and we go running every morning. The little things like that help keep life happy! 

My favorite scripture of the week is Acts 5:41. For it to make sense you should read the whole story leading up to it. I've loved reading the Bible. Its so different than the Book of Mormon. I now have a testimony and an understand of why we need both books to have the fullness of the gospel.

Well I love you all so much! Keep the prayers coming! You are definitely in mine. 

Lots of love, 
Sister Gehring
Mafikeng District! Elder Allred, Elder Butcher, Elder Brown, Elder Johnson, Me, Sister Gillis, Sister Clifford
Eating a traditional South African dish... Kota. 

Close up of the Kota. It consists of a quarter of a loaf of bread cut in half and made into a sandwich. In the sandwich is chips (a.k.a. french fries), an egg, a hamburger patty, 2 hot dogs, a sausage, archar (pickled mango), lettuce, cheese, polony (like bologna but even more processed), and special kota sauce. Basically a heart attack on bread. It was surprisingly yummy. Please be impressed. I ate the whole thing

Our district leader, Elder Brown, and his companion, Elder Butcher, in the true missionary spirit.
The district at thanksgiving. Since none of us really got to celebrate Halloween, we dressed up for Thanksgiving! I was "dressing" Like turkey and dressing... Get it??
Everyone at the table!
This is probably the only time in my life that a British man will carve my thanksgiving turkey (Elder Butcher is from northern England)
Me and my companions!
Me and Sister Gillis after dancing in a rainstorm. It was hailing and everything. It made me miss Texas thunderstorms. But it was so fun... p.s. that's our purple house
Look at all that hail!

The elders Post-kota.

Branch Christmas Party! Elder Brown dressed up as Santa. It was a HUGE hit.

Elder Allred goofing around.

The Sisters with Santa!
Members helping with dishes.

Me and Resego with Elder Johnson photo bombing in the back.

Me and Lesedi. She is preparing to go on a mission!
I know its blurry but I still love this picture.

This one is better.

This is how much was left over after the party. I think we over planned...