My dearest family, How goes it??
Well this week was significantly less hectic. Last week was insane and this week seemed very slow. Largely because for the past 6 days, my companion and I have spent approximately 5-6 hours a day tracting. Sometimes even more. When the area split and we took over Tlokweng, we handed about 3/4 of our investigators over to the new sisters. So we have almost no lessons ever. It’s a huge change. Before the split we were teaching over 20 lessons a week. This week we taught 10. It’s been rough. I know that this decision to keep Tlokweng was right so I just have to keep reminding myself of that fact so I don't get discouraged. We have talked to a TON of people and knocked on more doors than I care to count but so far the results have been minimal. We have found maybe 8-10 people that actually seem interested, and only about 5-6 that have invited us back. There have been a lot of really promising moments but none have really led anywhere so far. But Sister Anderson and I are keeping up the faith. We have now planted enough seeds to grow a forest and now we just need to let them take root. We spend a lot of time on our knees praying for results and a lot of time out there working our tails off to make it happen. I just hope things start growing fast. But if not, I know there is just something I am supposed to learn from this. I’s the Lord's work. He'll take care of it. We have found ways to make the tracting fun though! One of the ways is we just sing a lot. As we were walking around we just sing. Sometimes we sing actual songs but a lot of the time we just make up nonsense songs about random principles of the gospel. We have gotten pretty good at coordinating efforts to make some pretty decent ones. Our favorite one was about how the Book of Mormon is the roadmap to happiness in this life. It was quite nice. Also we gave ourselves little breaks every now and again when we would come across little kids playing in the streets. Whenever we passed a little soccer or volleyball game we would join for a few minutes. It has been so much fun. Within reason, I have stopped caring about how dirty I get when I am out for the day. I walk around in the dirt and I am not going to let the fact that the kids are playing in the dirt with a soccer ball so embedded with dirt it poofs when you kick it stop me from joining them! I’m a missionary. It’s my job to get dirty.
Hey plus another bonus, We only got lost once this week! Ok well we actually got lost a couple times but only once where it was really bad. The Elders who cover Tlokweng had told us about this great place to go tracting so we were going to check it out. I can’t remember if I have already told you this or not but Tlokweng is a village. It’s more developed than others cause it’s so close to Gabs but it’s still a village. Dirt roads, huts, all of it. That also means there are no house or plot numbers and only a couple of the streets are named. So directions usually go something like this. "So you go along the main road and then you go for a little while and you turn left when you see the crooked tree then you turn right a couple times and go a little farther then you turn left again next to the big rock and my house is sort of near the white truck shop." I wish I was kidding. So the directions to the great area to tract were only that it was kind of behind Bordergate Choppies sort of far that way. Not much to go off of. But we decided to try anyway. Bad idea. We ended up in the bush. a.k.a the middle of nowhere. We literally reached the end of civilization. It took us over an hour of driving around to figure out how to get back to where we recognized. It was an adventure. After that we took the next afternoon and made a map of Tlokweng so that sort of thing wouldn't happen again.
It really wasn't a bad week though. The lessons we did teach were powerful and I had an awesome birthday! First I’ll talk about the lessons. For each of them, I'm just going to write my favorite quote from the lesson and then explain.
"Exercising faith means you go even when you have nowhere else to start." -Dorcas
Ok so I've definitely mentioned Dorcas before in my letters. I love her so much. Whenever I was starting to get discouraged this week with all the tracting, I’d think of her and just say to myself, No. I need to find more Dorcases. I can’t give up. She is just that incredible. In her lessons, I learn just as much as she does. So this week our lesson with her was all on faith. We talked about how it’s not enough to just believe. We have to act on that belief. We have to exercise our faith. Before we really explained what that meant, we asked her what it meant to her to exercise faith. After a few thoughtful moments, that was her response.
"Not going to church is the Devil's plan!" -Goitse
Goitse is Juliet's mom. (the little girl that was just baptized) She got baptized in May. So we were over at their house talking about Juliet's baptism and what Juliet needed to do to make sure she was always this happy and clean. We were talking about how going to church every single week was one of the things she needed to do. Then she told us how it’s hard to wake up early sometimes for church. Goitse then responded with that. It was hilarious. Sister Anderson and I lost it. We both were laughing so hard. Luckily Goitse wasn't offended.
"I can be a doer" - Stellah
I've mentioned Stellah before too. Once again, she is incredible, too. We were talking with her about how our homes need to be a refuge from the world and how other people who come into our homes should feel the difference the spirit makes. We asked her what she could do to make her home a refuge. This is how she responded. She then went on to list a bunch of really great ideas on what she and her family could do to make their home a refuge. I just loved her statement though. It was so simple but so true.
" I don't want to be a church visitor. I want to be a church member." -Gao
Gao is no longer in our area which makes me so sad. But this week we decided to stop by and say hi really quick. While we were talking we got on the topic of her conversion story. It is pretty inspiring. I want to get her to write it down for me so I can have a copy of it in her own words. She told us that when she visited the church for the first time, she knew she wanted to be a member. Not a visitor.
"I am going to tell you a story you'll remember even when you go home." -Dikaledi
So Dikaledi is an older lady we tracted in to a few weeks ago. She was sick when we met her first so we just gave her a pass along card with our number on it and left. She told us though that she wanted a copy of Finding Faith in Christ. So on Tuesday we brought her one. We had prayed that morning that we would be able to find opportunities to serve. Boy did Heavenly Father deliver. When we got there she was going her wash. Great! There is a service opportunity! We offered to help but she just kept saying she was fine. So we asked if there was anything else we could do for her. "Yes! Actually there is." she said "I have this ingrown toenail that has been bothering me for weeks. Do you think you could help me cut it. I can’t reach it anymore." Yea. We helped an old Botswanan woman trim her toenails. They were think and brown and nasty. And I loved it. The actual trimming was disgusting but while we were working on them, she basically told us her life story. She had some incredible stories.
So those were my favorite quotes from the week. My birthday was awesome too. My companion is a sweetheart. I'll just lay that out there. She made me breakfast in bed which was so nice. It was funny though. So we get up at 6:15 and go running every morning. She was going to turn the alarm clock off and let me sleep in till 6:30 so she could quickly make breakfast but she knows how much I love to run so she let me get up normal time and then made me breakfast while I was showering and getting ready. Then she made me get back in bed. It was very cute. Then just like every other day this week we just tracted all day. But She was sure to tell everyone we met pretty much so I had a lot of random people singing to me. I got some good laughs about it. Then that night all the sisters in Gabs got together and went out to dinner at Spur which is an American type steak house. It was glorious. I got a huge hamburger. It wasn't quite the same as an American hamburger but it was close enough to be really nice. At the end of dinner, the workers all came out and sang me this really loud exciting African happy birthday song and smeared ice cream all over my face. Sister Anderson got a video. Don't worry. Then right after dinner, we went back to our flat where all the elders were waiting with that lemon cake you sent me . So all the elders and sisters all had cake to celebrate. (p.s. I have no clue how she organized that. It was a complete surprise but I am within sight and sound of her at all times. She's good...) So it was just a really nice day. Still a missionary day, but Sister Anderson and the other missionaries made it special.
The last thing I want to mention is actually about the little picture book called Rosie's Walk. It’s one we read all the time growing up. I think I read it to Melanie like a week before I came out. It’s the one where the hen decides to go out for a walk. The whole time she is just looking straight ahead. Having a lovely time. But she is completely oblivious to the fact that the entire time, she is being hunted and followed by a fox. But every time he gets close, something stops him. Like Rosie will walk through a hole in a fence but the fox gets stuck. Or she walks by a beehive and then the bees start to chase the fox. Or she will step in a rake and it comes up and hits the fox. The book is silly and simple and probably not meant to have this deeper meaning, but this week I have kind of felt like Rosie. I'm walking around in Botswana. This completely foreign place thousands and thousands of miles from anywhere I have been before. And there are bad things, seen and unseen, happening all around me. But I am just pressing forward. As long as I am focused on my purpose as a missionary and as long as I am making sure I am doing everything I am supposed to be, the fox isn't going to be able to get me. Thank you for your prayers too. I know you are helping to keep the foxes away.
Well that’s about it for this week! It’s been a long week but it’s been a good one. Plus I'm getting a pretty great tan. Not that it matters cause no matter how tan I am I still glow next to the people here but still, I feel accomplished! My favorite scriptures from this week are Mosiah 21:16, Mosiah 26:37, and Alma 3:27. Can you guess why??
I love you all lots. Thanks for all you do for me. You are incredible!
Love, Sister Gehring