Monday, November 25, 2013

Miracles in Mafikeng

Hey Family!
Well I'm in South Africa finally!!! Its soooooooo different here but so far I love it a lot. The people are different, the area is different, the weather is different, the work is different, but its all fantastic. Honestly I sometimes feel like I'm in a different mission all together but its ok because I know this is where I am supposed to be.

I guess I explain a little about what makes it different. For starters, the area we are working is different. I'm used to serving in village like places with a lot of small houses, a lot of animals roaming the streets, lots of dirt roads, things like that. Well my area now consists of HUGE houses with pools and fancy cars, big gates with electric fences, more grass than I've seen since coming to Africa and way more diversity. I used to just meet Motswana people for the most part but now I'm meeting people from all over the world! The weather is a lot cooler here. Its still summer but its not nearly as hot. The work is a lot slower mainly because we are starting from scratch so we just meet with members and tract pretty much all day long. But like I said, its fantastic. I also love my companions. I'm in a threesome with Sister Gillis and Sister Clifford. They are both so great. We get along really well and we already have been able to teach really well together. We will probably be together for quite a while so I'm glad we are together. The Elders we are serving with are incredible too. They are taking such good care of us. They are so good about making sure we are safe and we are doing ok. Last week they drove down every single street in our area and prayed about them individually to determine of they were safe for us to go on. They are just treating us so well and we really appreciate it.

The thing that has made Mafikeng so wonderful though is all the miracles we have experienced. We are opening the area which means we are pretty much going in blind. We had zero investigators and we started out knowing zero members and zero about the area. As you can imagine, its challenging. It requires you to trust the Lord completely, work hard, have a lot of faith, a lot of determination and a lot of desire to do what God wants. Luckily Sister Clifford and Sister Gillis and I all have the same goals and the same drive. So we sat down at the beginning of the week and set goals, made a plan and then prayed for the support, help, and guidance of Heavenly Father. Then we got to work. And so did Heavenly Father. We have been able to get into gates and homes that previous missionaries have previously been thrown out of. People have opened up to us and shared things with us that they have never shared with anyone else before. We have found people who have been so prepared for the gospel. The Abrahams(senior couple) have been angels to us. The Elders have been incredible. The members have been giving us referrals and being so supportive. I have been prompted to share scriptures and say things that were definitely not me, but were absolutely from the Holy Ghost. Everything has just been going so well. Its just been literally miraculous. It just goes to show that Heavenly Father really is in charge. This is his work. And he is going to help us when we work hard.

My favorite scripture this week is John 15:12-15. Especially verse 15. It showed me that I should not be doing this work out of an obligation to serve. But out of a true love for Christ because He is my friend.

I have a special request this week too. You always tell me that I am in your prayers. I appreciate that more than you can imagine. But will you also pray for a couple things too? Will you pray that my companions and I will be able to find father- led families to teach? And will you also pray for the people in Mafikeng? The members to be strengthened and the non-members to be softened and prepared? We need as much help as we can get and I know your prayers will help. Thanks so so much.

I love you!! LOTS!

Love, Sister Gehring

p.s.Funny story: We live in a bright purple cottage. Ill send pictures next week.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Back in Tlokweng!

Dumela Ya'll!

Welp. I'm not in South Africa. Not yet at least. I'll explain.

The reason I am being transferred to South Africa is because that is where the Lord wants me to be. I have gotten that confirmation over and over this week. I'll talk about that in a bit. But the way the Lord made the way for me to go there is that I was denied residency in Botswana. As of right now, once I leave Botswana, I can't come back. And my extension lasts till Wednesday. So they are having me and the two other sisters who are leaving stay as long as we can. So they had me go back to Tlokweng for the week because I already knew the area. But tomorrow morning I will be leaving for South Africa and possibly never coming back. But I have no doubt that this is the right thing for me to be doing right now so as sad as I am, I'm ok.

This week has been pretty incredible actually. Lots of great things have happened. I'll try to write about it all. My companion for the week has been Sister George. She was trained by Sister Anderson when I left for Francistown. We have gotten along really well. She is so sweet. I'm kind of sad I only got to be with her for a week.

I guess there are 3 main things that made this week incredible. So I'll list them.

1. Boitshepo. Do you remember her? She is the 14 year old girl that Sister Anderson and I tracted into when I first came on mission. When we knocked on her door she was home alone crying. For a long time she wouldn't talk to us and even when she did it was only a few words here and there. If we hadn't gone by the spirit we might have just looked over her as a lost cause and moved on. But we didn't. Both of us knew that for some reason Boitshepo needed the gospel. We could tell that she was in pain and nothing but Christ's church could heal her. So we kept working with her. She didn't progress quickly. Sometimes she didn't progress at all. But we kept working with her. Slowly but surely she started to open up to us. Right as you could see the gospel start to change her life, I was transferred to Monarch. Well when I came back to Tlokweng the first person we went to see was Boitshepo. She'd gotten baptized!!!! Like 2 weeks ago!!!!! Honestly I almost didn't even recognize her! She was glowing! I had never seen her so happy. She didn't even look like herself! It was incredible! I can't even describe it. I wish there were words to use but there just aren't. She was talking, She taught us about her reading in the Book of Mormon, she sings in the ward and stake choir, she shares the gospel with her friends. Its just incredible! The gospel of Jesus Christ is TRUE!! 

2. Lapo's mom. Lapo is another member of the Broadhurst ward. She came teaching with Sister Anderson and I a lot. Well she left for a mission to Ghana last week. She is the only member in her family so her mom doesn't completely understand what a mission is. She supports Lapo but its a lot harder for her because she isn't a member. So this week Sister George and I asked her if we could teach her more about missionary work. She said ok. So we shared with her more about the technical side of missionary work. Just to help her have a better idea of what her daughter will be doing every day. It really helped her. you could just tell. But the coolest thing was that we were able to go with her to an internet cafe and help her set up an email account so that she could communicate with Lapo. She had never touched a computer in her life so mostly me and Sister George just did everything for her. But then we let her take over and type a message all by herself. She typed with one finger and I think it took 15 minutes for her to type 3 lines but the look on her face was priceless. It was subtle but it was joy. She just had a faint smile but you could tell that for even just those few minutes, she felt connected with her daughter again. She just kept saying "Ke a e tomela" which means "I am happy". It was so cool to be able to help her feel close to her daughter again. 

3. Spiritual confirmations. When I first found out that I was denied residency and that I was being transferred to South Africa I was really sad. I didn't understand why this would all be happening. It just didn't make sense to me. But President Wilson told me to pray about it to know for myself that it is the Lord's will. So I did. The answer didn't come right away and it didn't come in a huge way. But it has come in little doses all week long. I won't go into detail about them all. But I just want you all to know that they did come. Mafikeng is the place where the Lord needs me right now. I have also gotten the feeling that I probably will not ever be serving in Botswana again. A few months ago that would have really upset me. But now I just feel peace about it all. I have never had a stronger testimony that the Lord truly is in charge of this work than I do right now. He is in control. I know he is. The reason I lost residency is not because of the government or anything like that. Its because the Lord needs me to go to South Africa and that is the way he made it possible. I don't know what is going to happen to me for the year I have left of mission. but I know without even a hint of doubt that whatever happens is the Lord's will.

I love you all so so much! I am so grateful for your prayers and your support. I love this work more than anything else in the world. (other than my family of course) I am so happy to be here. I can't even express how happy I am actually. I love you I love you!!! I hope everyone has a fabulous week! Next week I'll be talking to you from South Africa!!

Lots of love, 

Sister Gehring
I bought this traditional Botswana dress on the street today. In case I don't come back to Botswana. 
My companion for the week! Sister George. We are matching because we participated in the stake choir. The dress code was red and black.

This is sister Gillis. She is one of the sisters going to Mafikeng with me. One of her investigators gave her a fish. So we cooked it for dinner.
Kabo Prince Khumotseile. He just reported to the Ghana MTC on Thursday. He will be serving in the Sierra Leon Freetown mission. He is the first person in his family to ever serve a mission. He's from Monarch

The group presidency of Monarch. President Billy Mabote is in the middle. On the left is Brother Burman Ncenga (don't even try to pronounce that. "Nc" is a click) and next to me is Brother Olifile.

Saying bye to Gaseitsiwe. Or just Gasei for short. 
Me and Sister Scott working on the measles campaign last week.

Monarch group! This is about how many people we had on a typical Sunday. We are sitting outside of the house where we meet for church.

Saying bye to Gosego :(

Monday, November 11, 2013

Big transfers and Big news!!

Termite dirt anyone?
Dumela family!

Well I have huge news that it seems like you have already all found out about... So ill save it for the end!
Well this week was really weird. It has not consisted of as much teaching as I would have liked. To start off, there was a nation wide campaign to eradicate measles in Botswana. So for the entire day on Tuesday we went around and knocked on every door in Monarch (with the help of members) to inform everyone and tell them to take their kids to the clinics. It was fun to help out but it was super hot that day and we were soo tired when we got home. Plus it means that we didn't get to do any teaching. Also this week we spent half day on Thursday and Saturday helping missionaries move. We think the missionaries were targeted by someone because 2 missionary flats were broken into, 5 companionships got their phones stolen, and the chapel was broken into. All within like 2 weeks. Luckily I was not included in any of those. But to try and prevent further problems, our mission president had us move people around. So that took up another huge chunk of the week. Then the rest of the time, appointment after appointment fell through again this week. Me and Sister Scott aren't sure what to do. We feel like we are working our hardest but its just been rough. Hopefully with the start of this new transfer things will start to improve.

The lessons we did teach went really well though. Especially one with Gosego. We are going around teahing everyone (all members) about the sacrament. The lesson we had with her about it went super well. We talked with her about how the sacrament is a way to renew the promises we made at baptism. When we were talking about the promise we make to take the name of Christ upon ourselves the spirit was so strong. Anybody could have felt it. I don't know exactly what she was thinking but she got emotional about that part. I know for me it strengthened my testimony that taking the name of Christ can be taken literally. It means we do everything we possibly can to live as He did and do what He did. Its easier for me now because I am completely devoting all my time to His work. But it made me want to make sure that I continue even after I'm home.

Well because not much else happened this week... Time for the big news....

I'm being transferred to South Africa.... AHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

Once upon a time, for years and years, South Africa has been strictly forbidden to sister missionaries. Its just too dangerous for us. Well my mission consists of all of Botswana, all of Namibia, and a tiny sliver of South Africa. I am being transferred to that tiny sliver. Its a place called Mafikeng. I got a call from my mission president on Friday. He told me that with transfers coming up he had a special assignment for me. Last time I got a "special assignment" I was called to be a trainer. So I thought that might be the case again. Nope. He told me that my special assignment was to open a new area. That alone made me nervous. Opening a new area means you go to a place where there currently or in the past there have not been missionaries. Then he told me what area I would be opening. Mafikeng. South Africa. I am literally re-opening an entire country to sister missionaries. As far as I know, I will be in a three- some with two other sisters and we will be the only sister missionaries in the entire country.

He told me that this is a really sacred trust from the Lord. My mission president had to approve this with The First Presidency and the 12 Apostles. They prayed specifically and approved us three sisters to open this area. Honestly, I'm terrified. I think its just the unknown. But at the same time, I am so so so excited. This is such an incredible opportunity! The Johannesberg mission had been trying to approve sisters to come back to South Africa for a long time but it was always rejected by the 12 Apostles. But for some reason, this is the right time and we are the right 3. So as nervous as I am, I am so excited.

We will be driving down to Gabs straight after emailing today. From there I am not sure what all is going to happen. I'll definitely keep you updated in the coming weeks. I am super sad to leave Monarch though. It was waaay harder to leave here than it was to leave Broadhurst. I completely feel like this is the right thing and that Mafikeng is truly where I am supposed to be now but Monarch holds a really huge chunk of my heart. I was way closer to the members here, I was way closer to the investigators, I was way closer to the other missionaries here, just everything. It has been super hard to say goodbye to people. So so hard. I was able to hold it together in front of everyone but there have been quite a few tears shed behind the scenes. Monarch truly felt like home to me. It was a hard area. No doubt. But it was incredible. I don't know how much of a difference I made there, but Monarch sure has made a difference to me. I have grown so much serving here. Its definitely set the bar for all my future areas. Its going to be pretty hard to measure up to how much I love Monarch. Another sad thing is that Ishmael Adam has been out of town for 3 weeks now. So I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to him. It makes me really sad. But luckily I was able to say bye to everyone else I wanted to say bye to. I have pictures of everyone but the computer is being dumb and only let me send that one. I'll send them as I can.

Well that's the big news for this week. And its pretty huge. But exciting things are ahead for me! My favorite quote of the week was from Kabo. He is a member of the Monarch group and he leaves for the Sierra Leone Freetown mission this Thursday. So his farewell talk was this Sunday. He quoted Ann Dibbs and said "I'm a Mormon. I know it. I live it. I love it." But then he said " And I'd like to urge each of us to add just one more. I PROVE it." I just loved that a lot. I'm so proud of him too. He is going to be a really great missionary.

My favorite scripture of the week is D&C 4:1. With the exciting things ahead of me I really do feel like a marvelous work is about to come forth.

Well I love you so much. Thank you again for all the prayers you are sending my way. Keep 'em comin'. I'll need them. I hope you have a great week!!!

Lots of love,

Sister Gehring

Monday, November 4, 2013

Eventfully uneventful week...

Dearest family,
Welp this week was kind of weird. I feel like a ton happened but at the same time, not much happened at all. Here's why: In terms of missionary work not much happened. In fact its been kind of a discouraging week in terms of the work. Sister Scott and I have been trying really really hard this transfer to become more effective missionaries. We have been trying to really apply all the guidance in Preach My Gospel and we have been trying really hard to do what the Spirit directs. We have been learning a lot and improving a lot. But recently it kind of feels like our area is falling apart. We have been doing a lot of finding but nothing is coming of it. TONS of people have been canceling on us. Like 7 out of 10 people every single day. And even people who we have been working with for a long time seem to be slipping away! Ishmael Adam has missed church for 2 weeks in a row now. He hadn't missed a single Sunday since when I got here in July and now all of a sudden he's missing. People who seemed to be progressing really well all of a sudden told us they don't want us to see them anymore. Its just been rough. and on top of it all, like 75% of the members are going less active. And it falls on us to get them to come back.  We are trying to stay positive but its been hard. Prayers would be fantastic.
We did do some fun things this week though! Dikeledi taught us how to make magwinya. Its this fried bread stuff. Its super delicious. We made it in her traditional Botswana kitchen( a mud hut with a fire in the middle) which was super cool. I'll send pictures of it when I can. The computers have been a matata lately.
We also celebrated Halloween! Botswana does not celebrate it so Sister Scott and I celebrated by ourselves. We switched nametags for the day and bought some candy from a street vendor. It wasn't much but we still had fun!
Also I survived 3 dog attacks this week! (well 3 almost attacks) I guess I never technically got attacked but I still narrowly escaped death!!!!!!!!!! Ok so the dogs mostly just barked angrily and chased me but I was still scared out of my mind! Sister Scott is looking into finding me some dog repellant. They have just been out to get me this week!
I have three new names to add to my list of mispronunciations. Are you ready? They are pretty great. I have now been called...
Sister Grainham
Sister Chairiling
Sister Gurthing

I have no idea where they get these things. I never thought Gehring was all that difficult... But it sure does make for some good laughs!
I have a favorite quote from the week too. Isago (the 9 year old that got baptized in August) said this. We were teaching her and Derby about fasting for fast sunday. Before we did we asked them if they knew what fasting was. She got very excited and raised her hand. "I know! Fasting is when you do something very quickly!" Oh man it was so cute! She was so proud of her answer. We explained that she was exactly right but that at church sometimes it means something a little different.
My favorite scripture of the week was Luke 16: 19-31. Especially verse 31. It just shows that if you don't have faith, nothing will be enough.
Well sorry the beginning of the letter was kind of sad. I promise I really am ok. Just going through a rough patch. I know it will all be fine. I still absolutely love it here and I still can't imaging being anywhere else!
Lots of love,
Sister Gehring
Francistown Zone Conference

Francistown Zone Conference