Monday, July 29, 2013

Right place at the right time

Dear family,
Well this week was definitely jam packed full of interesting events. Ill just talk about a few though. 

First of all, I got sick again. Not nearly as bad a last time but still no fun. Apparently the water isn't as safe as they originally thought so after a few of us missionaries got sick, its now a rule that we have to boil any water we consume. Gotta love Africa! I'm great now though. Back to the good ol' me!

Secondly, I have a new address for Francistown. So here it is: 
Sister Chelsea Gehring
Botswana/ Namibia Mission
P.O. Box 301797 Selepa

That will be my address till I get transfered again

Thirdly, I have a Setswana name now! My name is now Sister Lorato. One of the members who is also named Lorato decided she likes me so we need to have the same name. She can't pronounce Gehring anyway so now she (and most of her family and friends in the church) just call me Sister Lorato. Lorato means love. Pretty cute if you ask me.

Fourthly, A lady this week brought her husband who isn't a member to church. He loved it so much that at the end, he came up to us and said "So when can I get baptized?" Just in case you were wondering, that's pretty much the greatest thing you could ever say to a missionary.

And Fifthly, the biggest thing I want to talk about though is something that strengthened me testimony that the Lord really is in charge of the work. If he wants me in a certain place at a certain time, he'll make it happen. So on Saturday we had a member coming around teaching with us. It took a us a long time to go and pick her up because there was bad traffic. We were frustrated because it was going to make us late for our appointment. We finally got to the appointment though. We taught and it didn't take long so we decided to go and check on someone else. When we got to the lady's house though, her neighbor who was drunk out of her mind was standing outside. She started yelling at us like nobody's business. I have never been yelled at that badly. I was literally painful to hear the words she was saying to us. We felt so bad too cause we still had the member with us and she was only 15. It was just a really bad situation. After what felt like ages we were finally able to get away and we decided to move on. We figured we should just leave the area entirely so we decided to go check someone a few blocks away. When we went to his house, he wasn't there. Things just seemed to not be going our way. Then to top it off, as we were getting in the car to leave, this guy stopped us and started preaching. At first it was just kind of funny but then it got ridiculous. He was preaching about all kinds of weird things and I just felt so uncomfortable. And once again we couldn't get away for probably 5 minutes. We just had to sit there listening to this guy preach to us. Finally though, we got away. We decided to check someone else in hopes that maybe we would actually have success. As we were getting out of the car for that place, a man walked by and called us over. Great. What could possibly happen next? Something miraculous happened actually. Turns out the man had been baptized 3 years ago in Gaborone. He moved up here a year ago and had been searching for where the church was located but hadn't been able to find it. He saw our tags and was so excited to be able to start going to church again. 

If all those less than awesome things hadn't happened to us, and if things hadn't gone exactly the way they did, we would have not been getting out of the car at the exact moment that man walked by. You'd be crazy to think that was just a coincidence. The Lord really is directing this work. There is no other way these kinds of things could happen. 

My favorite scripture of the week is Romans 8:16-18. Just always a nice reminder. But for some reason it really touched me this week. I truly am a child of God.

Love forever and always,
Sister Gehring

My farewell Gabarone dinner.
Saying bye to Dorcas :(.
Saying bye to Boitshepo :(.

Me with Alecia. One of the cutest girls ever.

This is the building where we meet for church in Monarch. This room is where we have sacrament meeting, Relief Society, and Gospel Principles. In this picture it is being used for a mutual/primary/YSA activity. It was their first time ever to play musical chairs. It was pretty fun to watch.

Kebotsemong's Baptism! From left to right it's Elder Ngubane, Elder Erickson, Kebotsemong, Sister Graves, Me, Sister Nyambita.

Post-baptism ice cream!

Me and my lovely companions-Sister Nyambita, Me, and Sister Graves.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Vomit of the Sea

Dear Family,
Here is a list of the different ways my name has been significantly mispronounced so far on mission:
-Sister Greenranch
-Sister Hoffing
-Sister Jerry
-Sister Gear-rot
-Sister Ge eh herring
-Sister Cathering
-Sister Fleming
-Sister Creek
-Sister Grinding

I'm looking forward to additions to this list.

 Well a good way to describe this week would be "filled with laughter". I don’t really know why but we just laughed a LOT this week. Here are a few of the causes:

 1. A lady we are teaching introduced us to her former preacher and told him very boldly that our church is true and he should probably learn about it so he can stop leading people away. (We held it together for the time we were talking but when we got in the car we lost it big time)

 2. A family we are teaching flat out told Sister Graves they hate her name. They told her it was evil and she might as well change her name to Sister Cemetery.

 3. During church yesterday a little kid took his diaper off and threw it across the room. (It was very poopy...)

 4. And the funniest moment of the week: Someone told us that the literal translation of makgoa (which we thought just means "white person") actually means "Vomit of the sea." When we found that out, all three of us about died. For some reason it was just so funny.

 I'm sorry if the things I tell you about aren’t amusing at all. I wish I could better describe things in a way that they would actually sound funny. Just know that I am enjoying myself here. In the missionary work and otherwise.

 Here are 2 of the significant things I’ve learned this week:

 1. The Lord truly does prepare hearts to hear about the gospel. I’ve stopped even trying to keep track of the little things that have just been huge testimony builders of that fact. Things like people having questions about the exact topic we had planned to teach them, or people having just given up coffee when we teach about the word of wisdom, or people reading the exact verse in the scriptures that we had planned to teach them. They happen daily. It’s incredible to see how true it is that this is the Lord's work. He really is in charge.

 2. The scriptures are hilarious. I know that sounds like a weird thing to say. And maybe I'm misinterpreting the council to find joy in the scriptures. But they seriously are! The little things people say and the way the prophets write just completely show their personalities! It’s like President Monson. He’s so funny! It in no way takes away from the fact that he is the true prophet of God but it makes listening to his words enjoyable. For me it’s the same with the scriptures. I constantly laugh while I'm reading but I learn So much from them. I’ll look up some specific examples this week to try and explain better.

 Also here's an update about residency. I found out this week that I've actually only been half way rejected. Something like that. I don’t quite understand completely to be honest. But bottom line, I'm not getting kicked out yet. It could change at any moment but for now I'm ok. I'm just relying on the fact that everything is going to work out like the Lord has always planned. 

 My favorite scripture of the week is 2 Nephi 8:12. I just love the question
He asks. "Who art thou that thou shouldst be afraid of man who shall die...?" Who am I that I should fear man? I am part of the Lord's army right now. It’s pointless to fear when I have Heavenly Father on my side.

 Well that’s about it for this week. Being in a threesome is still great. I love Sister Graves and Sister Nyambita. Trying to work in 2 areas is a challenge to say the least but we are doing our best to make it work. We find today if it’ll be like this for the rest of the transfer or not. I’m still loving the work. We taught almost 40 lessons this week so we are definitely staying busy. I’m more tired than I've ever been in my life but also happier than I've ever been. Funny how that works out. 

 Thanks for everything. I love you so much. I’ll try to send pictures next week. The computer is being slow today. Love you love you!!!

 Love, Sister Gehring
p.s. I love Botswana

Monday, July 15, 2013

Welcome to Monarch!

Dear Family,

 What a week! I guess not a whole lot happened but it feels like it has. The big news though this week is that I am officially in my new area! It’s a little town right outside of Francistown called Monarch. The stars are incredible here and there is just a special feeling here that I can’t really describe. I just love it already. The church here is really new. It’s so small It’s not even a branch. I am in a group. There are about 35 active members total in the whole area. We meet in a tiny house for church. It’s definitely different but it’s so cool to see how the church is still the same even is such different circumstances. I am in a threesome with Sister Graves and Sister Nyambita who were both in the MTC with me. It is way fun to be with them but it is hard because we are actually having to cover two different areas right now. I was supposed to be in a companionship with one of the sisters who had to go to SA for residency issues so instead we are in a 3 some covering 2 areas. Does that make sense? Basically it’s just all kind of a mess right now and will probably remain a mess till the sisters come back or until next transfer when new sisters come in. We'll see what happens.

Backing up to before I left though, I have a funny story. Once upon a time Sister Anderson and I were teaching a lesson when a lady who was drunk out of her mind came into the plot we were in. She saw us and yelled MAKGOA! (which means white person) then she started dancing around yelling "Makgoa! I am dancing for you! Makgoa! I am dancing. Look at me dancing!!!" She was doing this weird stumbly version of what I'm guessing was some sort of African dance. She almost fell over a couple times. Then she sat down and started cleaning out a chicken which looked like it had just been killed. We kind of laughed about it but continued on with the lesson. Then it started thundering. A storm was obviously about to come in. All of a sudden she screamed, jumped up and started running around frantically screaming at the top of her lungs "The rains!! the rains are coming!!! The rain is coming!! RUN!!!!" To top it off, she still had chicken intestines in her hand. Let’s just say the spirit of that lesson was gone. We couldn’t stop laughing for like 3 minutes straight. It was one of the stranger lessons I have taught so far.

Well that’s about all that happened this week. Lots of packing and getting ready at the beginning of the week, a 6 hour drive up here from Gabs on Thursday (p.s. I’m pretty sure I saw a zebra crossing sign on my way up), and then a hectic but wonderful new area the rest of the week. So it’s been good.

My favorite scripture this week is Alma 26. The whole chapter. It pretty much perfectly describes how I feel about missionary work. If you are ever curious how I feel every single day, read this chapter. And I have only been on mission for 3 months. I can't even imagine how much even more true it will become as time goes on. The last 2 lines of verse 16 are particularly true. But really the whole thing is just kind of perfect. 

Well I love you lots. Thank you so much for your prayers especially about residency. Hopefully I get to stay here. I'm not sure what I'd do if I had to leave.

Love, Sister Gehring

Monday, July 8, 2013

I'm leaving Gabs:(

Dumela once again!

Well like I said, the big news of the week is that I'm leaving Gaborone. I have been transfered to Francistown which is about 6 hours north east of Gabs. I think I’ll be serving in a place called Monarch but I won’t know for sure till I get there. I have very mixed feelings about it. I am so excited to start a new adventure in a new area but I absolutely love Tlokweng. I love the people, I love the area, I love Sister Anderson, I just love it all. Plus I love my ward. Broadhurst is incredible and I was just starting to feel settled in. And now I have to leave! Bearing my goodbye testimony was rough. I held it together while I was up there but on the way back to my seat I lost it a little. Lots of tears have gone into the area so a lot came out of it. I was sitting by an investigator, Tiny, for sacrament meeting and I hadn't told her I was leaving yet. When I got back to my seat she just held my hand and cried with me. She held my hand for the rest of the meeting and when I had to say goodbye to her after church we both cried again. She is incredible. She is getting baptized a week and a half after I leave. I'm so sad I’m missing it. So a lot of tears have been shed over it but I really am ok. I really am excited to go up there but I just really hate to leave.

Well the other big news of the week is that Gabayo is back!!! Ok story: Gabayo is an investigator that was being taught before I even got here. Sister Anderson and her companion before me went and saw her every single day. She was golden. She loved everything about the gospel and everything that went with it. But a week before I came out, she went to her home village. She was only supposed to be gone for a couple weeks but she got stuck out there cause she didn’t have enough money to come back. She doesn’t have a phone so we have had no way to contact her. So about once a week we have been just checking her house in hopes that she'd be there. A lot of fasting and prayer have gone into wanting her to come back. Well this week, SHE WAS BACK!!!! And she is a golden as ever. While she was home she read the entire Book of Mormon, and she’s on it for her second time. And she knows everything. We taught her this week, (well sort of. She taught us this week.) and while we were there, she started at the restoration and taught us every single missionary lesson- Restoration, Plan of Salvation, Gospel of Jesus Christ, Law of Chastity, Word of Wisdom, and Tithes and Offerings. She taught them in detail, quoted scripture with them, and explained the eternal significance and how it applies to us. It was one of the most powerful things I have ever seen. The testimony she has after knowing about the gospel for only a few months could put mine to shame and I have been a member my whole life. We have seen her every day since and it’s always the same. She testifies of the things she knows and we sit back in awe. She is getting baptized in 2 weeks. I’m missing it which makes me sad but I am just so glad she gets to be. She is going to be such a strength to the church.

And that’s about all that happened this week. We did a lot of tracting again and a lot of people canceled on us. If I had to pick one thing that’s the hardest thing about mission, it would be people's agency. You want so much for them to just accept the gospel! You see how much it could bless their life and then you see them just not do anything about it. It’s just rough. Sometimes it would be nice if we could just make them read or make them come to church just once to let them see how great it is. Then they'll want to do it themselves! But in the end I now they have to have that change on their own or it won’t make any difference. Still though, agency and missionary work sometimes have a love/hate relationship. Good thing Heavenly Father is wise enough to see the whole picture. I just need to trust that His way is the best way.

My favorite scripture of the week is 2 Nephi 2:24. This helped me a lot when I found out I was leaving my area. It’s the Lord's work. And just like I just said, I just need to trust that His way is best.

Well I want you to know that I am still loving it here. This place is incredible and I never want it to end. Thank you for all your support and prayers. They really do help! I love you so much!

Happy Fourth of July!

Strawberry lips. I love my companion.

The fearsome four!

We are sisters. Sometimes we just have to take cheesy fence pictures.

Yay 3 months on mission!

Me with president Omer and his wife for the last time.

I was like ten feet from a baboon. And no, it was not in any sort or cage or fence.
Love, Sister Gehring

Monday, July 1, 2013

Brand new mission-I'm making history!

My dear family,
First off, I know you already know this but I'm exited about it so I'm going to tell you anyways... I'm now officially in the Botswana/ Namibia mission!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How cool is that?? I'm part of a brand new mission! As far as I know I'm just going to stay in Botswana. Missionaries aren't allowed in Namibia as of right now. But who knows what will happen in the next 15 months. Exciting stuff is ahead!

So because we were splitting from the Johannesburg mission, this week we had a big goodbye conference. President Omer and his wife came up for the last time. It was harder than I thought it would be to say bye to them. I've only even met them like 3 times but still, he was my mission president. There is this connection to the people you serve with. We had a really nice little program to say bye. The office elders prepared a slideshow of pictures to show and a few people performed musical numbers. All the sisters sang I Know That My Redeemer Lives. Then we had a big lunch and everyone took pictures. It was really nice. Fun thing though was that me, Sister Anderson, Sister Gillis, and Sister Cook (one other companionship) all wore matching dresses. I realize that sounds super cheesy but it was way fun. One of our investigators gave us a couple bags of clothes to donate to the church and in the bags were some traditional Botswana dresses. So we decided to wear them for the conference! People started calling us the Feirsome Four (I probably spelled that wrong). It was way fun. It stinks that we don't get to keep the dresses though. Before I come home I will definitely be buying one.

Other than that though, this week was extremely uneventful. We taught some good lessons, did a bunch more tracting, helped one of the senior couples get ready for the mission split, and cleaned the new mission home for the new president. Fun thing with that is that me and Sister Anderson decided to put sticky notes up all over the mission home with funny quotes, scriptures and little words of encouragement on them. Apparently when President Wilson's wife saw them she cried cause she was so happy. I'm glad we did it.
In other news I got all scraped up this week. Last Monday after I emailed you guys, we had a zone activity. We played ultimate spoons. It got intense. So we were at an apartment complex where one of the senior couples stays. So we did the whole card passing part on the porch but then the spoons were hidden all over the playground on the other side of building. There were like 20 missionaries playing. So as you could imagine, it was quite a sight to see to watch a bunch of young people frantically running around looking for spoons. By the end of the game, like 5 or 6 little kids had all come out of their houses to watch us. It was pretty cute.

Other than that really nothing happened this week. I'm sorry that this email is kind of short and boring. I'm still loving it here. Our area is slowly but surely growing stronger. And my 3 month mark is this week. I can't believe how fast time is flying. Its July! Craziness.

Before I go Ill explain the significance behind last week's favorite scriptures. So Mosiah 21:16- I just like the first part. I read it and it struck me a lot. I have been having a hard time with the new area. It just has felt like things were going so slow and nothing productive was happening. But when I read this it made me realize that its not going to happen over night. Its going to happen by degrees.

Then there was Mosiah 26:37- I like it because of one word. Circumspectly. I looked it up in the dictionary and it means that you take no risks. So when you walk circumspectly before God, you do everything they can to stay on the straight and narrow. You don't see how close you can get to the edge.

And lastly- Alma 3:27- I just like how it basically says that whoever you work for is who you will get paid by. I think I'd rather get paid by Heavenly Father so I think I'll work for him.
And now for this week's favorite scripture- 3Nephi 13:21. If I treasure the work and if I treasure Christ and if I treasure the people, my heart will truly be in it.

Well I love you lots and I hope you all have a lovely week!!
Love, Sister Gehring

p.s. My first name is starting to sound really weird. Its strange.