Monday, March 31, 2014

Trusting and relying

Hello again!
Well it was another week of ups and downs. Luckily it was mostly ups though. But the downs definitely are making me learn to trust and rely on Heavenly Father. Its not like any one thing went particularly bad or wrong this week. But a lot of little things have just been building up to try my faith. Before I came on mission, I don't think I really understood my relationship with my Father in Heaven or with Jesus Christ. Or maybe I just didn't appreciate it. But that is one way I have grown a lot here. When you are out here, yes you have a companion at all times, but sometimes things can get very lonely. There are times when I just want to talk to someone or vent to someone, but there really is nobody you can turn to. There are times when I wish I could just call home really quick and just talk for a few minutes but I can't. And its in those times when the only person I can go to is my Saviour. Which if you think about it, is the perfect person to turn to. He knows my struggles better than I do. He's felt everything I have. He understands better than anyone else and He can help in ways nobody else can. Prayer is so powerful. Its the phone call home I need when times are hard. Its a way to get everything off my chest and unload my burdens. And He always hears me. While I don't always get a solution to the problem right away and the trials almost never just disappear, I find that I have the strength I need to endure. I find that I can be happy through it. I find that I am given greater understanding as to the lesson Heavenly Father is trying to teach me. And I am learning to trust Him more fully. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ really are the ones I can rely on when I have nowhere else to look. Sometimes that's a hard lesson to learn but the things I am experiencing here are helping me to learn it. I am realizing more and more each day why missionary work is set up exactly the way it is. Missionaries not only help other people change their lives, but mission helps to change missionaries' lives. You always hear that before you come out. You hear how much mission changes you. But can't fully realize to what extent and in what ways it changes you until you experience it. And its amazing that these changes come purely and completely through the Atonement and the gospel of Jesus Christ. I will be eternally grateful for the things I am learning here and for the sacrifice of Christ that makes it possible.

As for the ups of the week, there were quite a few! We met some great people. On our way home one day a guy stopped us and asked "Are you Vea?" Sister Vea and I were so confused. He couldn't have seen our nametags from where he was. But we went over to talk to him. As we talked we found out that he had seen one of our pass along cards at a table where he works. Do you remember me talking about John? We met him a few weeks back. He stopped us and said he could tell there was something different about us and he felt like he needed to listen to our message. Well that John goes to a small local university in our area. He accidentally left a pass along card at the library. The man who stopped and asked "Are you Vea?" works at that library. He'd seen the picture of the Book of Mormon on the pass along card and was wondering what it was. So he saved our number in his phone and he was trying to decide if he wanted to call us or not. And that's when we ran into him. I don't know what prompted him to ask if we were the same ones from the card but I'm glad he did! We taught him once this week he is awesome! He had so many great questions and he has a genuine desire to learn the truth. I'm really excited to keep teaching him.

We are also teaching a great man named Mr. Tembo. He is a security guard for a house in the area. We have been teaching him for a few weeks now. He's doing really well. He loves the teachings and knows the Church and the Book of Mormon is true. But he works on Sunday so he can't come to church yet. We are working on it. But this week we were reading the story of Nephi getting the brass plates.  He was getting so into the story it was great! He kept stopping and asking "What's going to happen next??" We kept having to tell him to just keep reading. When he was reading the part where the spirit constrains Nephi to kill Laban, he read it with so much enthusiasm "And the spirit said unto me: SLAY HIM!!!!" Thats how he read it! It was hilarious! Sister Vea and I had to try not to laugh. I really hope he can come to church soon. He would make such a great member.

My favorite scripture from the week was Mormon 8:22. I just like how it says that God's work will move forward no matter what. Its comforting to know that no matter what else happens, the church will still be true.

Well I hope you all have a great week! I cant believe I've been in Africa for almost a whole year!! NUTS! 12 down... 6 to go!!!

Lots of love, Sister Gehring
Brownie Sunday! Every Sunday after dinner we eat brownies. Sister Vea makes them from scratch. I'm so glad she's my companion

Me and Mwe Mwe.

Mwe Mwe as a sister missionary.

When Zambians speak English, most of the time they switch the L and the R sound. So fries are flies and my name is sister Gehling. This sign is near my flat. Can you guess what its trying to say? Yup... they were trying to say "No Road" Lovely huh?

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Dear Family,

Well the week went by super fast again. But the days went by slow. Funny how that works... Time on mission is just weird.
I feel like I don't really have too much to report this week. It was kind of uneventful. Mostly we just did missionary work. All day. Every day. On Friday we did more slashing for Michelo and George. They are still doing great. But they haven't come to church the past couple weeks. It was for funerals for a couple of them but this week they were both home and they still didn't come so that was sad. We are seeing them tonight so hopeful we will find out what happened.
Another frustrating thing from this week was that another guy we were teaching dropped us. He was actually on date to be baptized next month. But for a few different reasons we haven't been able to see him for about two weeks. When we saw him this week he gave his Book of Mormon back and told us he didn't want to read it anymore. He said that it was too confusing and that he only wanted to use the Bible. We think he is being taught by people from a different church, too. He had a lot of weird questions and most of them were from pamphlets from a different church. He said he'd call us if he wants us to come back. So we will see what happens.
But good news: We had teaching appointments all day on Saturday! Thats the first day since I got to Zambia that we had appointments all day. Days like that happened almost every day in Bots so it was nice to have a full day of teaching. I really love teaching.
Sad news though: I missed church for the first time on mission yesterday. I got really bad food poisoning so we weren't able to go. It was no fun at all. I'm totally better now. It was just a 24 hour thing. But you dont realize how much you depend on something till you miss it! I missed church here and there at home because of sickness but it was so much worse here! I never realized how much of a spiritual boost it is to take the sacrament every week. Maybe its because I have a stronger testimony of the sacrament and the church now or maybe its just because I'm a missionary. But either way, I'm very excited to go to church next week.
My testimony of the Book of Mormon was hugely strengthened this week too. We tracted into a guy who knew his Bible really really well. He kept trying to prove to us that the Book of Mormon couldn't possibly be true. In those situations, no matter how many counter-verses you throw out, there is now way of proving your point. The only thing to do is bear testimony. So thats what I did. And it really is true that when you bear testimony, your testimony is strengthened. And I also learned that the when you bear testimony from deeper within you, its strengthened that much more. I don't know if that makes sense. But I truly do know that the Book of Mormon is true. It is another testament of Jesus Christ. Reading it will bring you closer to God than any other book. If you haven't read it yet, read it. If you have, read it again. You'll learn something new every time and you will feel God's love for you every time.
My favorite verse scripture this week was Helaman 6:37-38. It shows that Satan really does only have as much power as you give him.

Well I love you and I hope you all have a great week. The church is true!
Love, Sister Gehring

Monday, March 17, 2014

exchanges, meals, and the spirit

Dumela once again!

I have been pretty good at saying muli bwanji when I talk to people here but for some reason this week, dumela kept coming out! I guess that makes sense after saying dumela to so many people every day for 9 months. 

This week went by surprisingly fast. Weeks have been dragging on lately but this week went by fast! But on the other hand, looking back, the beginning of the week feels like eons ago. So goes mission I guess. Time is just so warped. 
I think the reason it went quickly is because we went on exchanges twice this week. So Sister Vea is the sister training leader. which means that every transfer she goes on exchanges with each of the companionships just so we have the chance to learn from other missionaries. So on Wednesday I went to a different area and worked with a different sister. Then on Friday I worked in our area but sister Rakotonindriana came with me instead of Sister Vea. Its cool to be able to see how other missionaries do things. I always learn a lot. 

Another reason it went fast was because we actually got fed this week! I haven't been fed my members since we got here but this week we got fed twice! The Relief society president brought us to her house on saturday morning and made us a full blown out breakfast. Im talking bacon, eggs, porridge, juice, tea, cereal, fruit... pretty much just anything you would ever want for breakfast. It was so yummy. And its definitely the best breakfast Ive had for almost a year. Normally we just eat cereal or toast for breakfast. And then we were able to help her out with a few things she's been struggling with in relief society.

Then another day one of the members of the branch presidency had us over for dinner. It was cool to get to know him and his wife a little bit. Members here always have the coolest stories! And we found out that Brother Shambana (the member of the presidency) and I were baptized just a few days apart! But I was 8 and he was in high school. 

A few funny things happened this week, too. People have started selling these things here called Freezits. They are little ice pop things. They sell them for super cheap just on the streets. Well when people write the signs to advertise them, sometimes they put an unfortunately placed space in the word. So a lot of the time they are trying to get me to come get free zits. "Eew, no one would buy it!" (Emma, name that movie!) Yea. Its super funny and pretty gross. 

Another funny thing that happened was while we were teaching Matilda, Yvette, and Nancy. (The 3 little girls) All of a sudden Nancy, the youngest, started cracking up. Ive never seen her laugh so hard. We asked her what was so funny she held up a little scrap of paper that she'd found on the ground and said "This is the spirit! The spirit is with us!" then she started laughing again. Maybe you would have had to be there but it was so funny! 

I also have some really sad news. Remember Gao? From Botswana? She was the first baptism I had. Well I found out this week that she died. I have no idea how or what happened. But if you could keep her family in your prayers I know it would be appreciated. 
Well I hope you all have a good week. I love you! Talk to you next week!

Love, Sister Gehring
Me and Sister Rakotonindriana. She made the most delicious fried bananas I have ever eaten. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mermaids and slashing

Muli bwanji!

I spent a lot of my time sending pictures so I'll have to keep this relatively short. But the week was pretty good around here. Sad news though- Sister Hirwa was transferred! She was moved to the copperbelt of Zambia which is about 5 hours north of Lusaka. We got the call Tuesday night and she had to leave Wednesday morning! I only got 2 weeks with her! So unfair. But its nice to be back to just me and Sister Vea again. Training is awesome and so was Sister Hirwa. But being with someone who has been out for a long time too makes things move a lot faster because you dont have to stop and explain everything.

The work was ok this week. We are slowly starting to see progress in the area. Michelo and George are atill doing great. Michelo especially. She has been reading the Book of Mormon on her own a lot and she is understanding SO well. She looks for the lesson to be learned in everyting and then she applies it to her life. Its incredible! George is coming along too. He is starting to see that the gospel really can bless him. He stays for more of the lessons now and he asks great questions. They didn't make it to church this week because George had to go to South Africa again. But They are still progressing well. We went over to their house and did slashing this week. We brought the whole district and we were able to get a lot done. Their front ditch had grass that was knee high or longer and we cut it all and trimmed all the bushes. I wish I would have taken a before and after photo. 

We also were able to teach another pretty awesome person this week. He is a history professor. He has spent the last 40 years traveling the world, teaching in different universities. Its pretty amazing! Right now he is working on writing 2 books. One is about the history of the struggle for freedom in each of the over 60 African countries. The other one is and encyclopedia about the history of Zambia. Yea. So we taught him about the Book of Mormon and he accepted it really well. He committed to read it prayerfully. We are praying that the spirit will soften his heart and that he will be able to accept the gospel. 

So I'm not sure if there are just a lot more weird things that happen here in Zambia or if I just notice them more because I walk everywhere here but we saw a lot of odd things while going around this week. For example: On our way home a couple days ago a white guy (one of the only ones I have seen in Lusaka) sprinted past us like he was running from a herd of angry elephants. He was wearing women's sunglasses and the shortest shorts I have ever seen on a man. And he was holding a bright yellow duffle bag. Despite many valiant attempts we could not figure out what the heck was going on. But earlier that day while we were walking down a main road, 4 cars drove by. All of them were honking obnoxiously. And hanging out of all the windows were men holding huge guns and shouting in Nyanja. It was a little scary. We are hoping the two incidents are unrelated.

And here is another example: The sisters we live with came home the other day and told us that there was a riot at the police station in their area. I thought that maybe there was some corrupt police something or maybe a prisoner escaped or you know something else scary. But that was not the case at all! Apparently a little girl had seen a mermaid in her toilet. So her parents called the police to come check it out. But after further investigation, the mermaid wasn't found. So the little girl's parents got angry at the police because they thought that the police actually stole the mermaid and were holding it hostage at the police station. So the mom gathered all her friends and neighbors and stormed off to the station to free the captive toilet mermaid. I sincerely wish I was kidding about this. There was literally a riot over a toilet mermaid. 

Well thats about it for this week. My favorite scripture was Alma 12:10-11. First of all, its just a great verse. But also do you remember the quote from Best Two Years "Its humility aint it. Humility is the key to inspiration!"? Well as soon as I read this it reminded me of that quote. And the best part is- Its True!

I love you all and I hope your week is fantastic! 

Lots of Love,

Sister Gehring
9 foot python!

A member made us banana bread. It was delicious.

Another rainy day in Zambia.

There are these creepy worms here that hang from the trees in cocoon things. Gross.

TiTi and MweMwe- Michelo and George's kids.

The branch president is the manager of an orphanage called Mothers without Borders. We went there to visit a few weeks ago.This is us with him and his BYU shirt! 
With the kids at Mothers without Borders.

Us with the kids at Mothers without Borders.

So the first time I passed this I thought it said "CG I love you." Turns out it didn't, but every time I pass it I feel like Heavenly Father is saying hi to me.

The mosquitos here are monster sized.
We went to an elephant orphanage a couple p-days ago. It was pretty adorable.

The smallest one kept sucking on the older ones' ears. Apparently its a way he copes with the loss of his mom. And the older ones let him do that to comfort him. Adorable huh?

You don't see signs like that everyday!

We were waiting for a member to show up so we sang hymns to pass the time.

I SAW A TEXAS LICENSE PLATE IN LUSAKA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Zone activity to Kalimba farms.

Kalimba farms.
Still at Kalimba farms.

Elder Majafe and I making a garden. That makes us super cool as you can see.

Even the scenery at Kalimba farms was beautiful.

I don't know why, but he just sat there for like 15 minutes with his mouth open.

I laughed.

I love my companions!

Kalimba farms.

Still at Kalimba farms with the 9 foot python.

Slashing. The most ineffective way of cutting grass ever invented. But for some reason Zambia has decided to make it the primary way of cutting grass. But its ok! If you get enough missionaries doing it at the same time, you can finish a yard in a few hours!

The finished garden! These were from several service projects we've done over the last couple of weeks.

This guy was a lot heavier than he looks!

This is about what we feel like at the end of the week. This is me and Sister Lyon.

This is why glasses are not meant for rain.

Monday, March 3, 2014

28 weeks to go

Dear family,

So this week Sister Hirwa was feeling a bit overwhelmed because she still has 10 weeks of training left. Then she looked at me and said "You barely have 10 weeks left on mission!" We knew that obviously wasn't right but we didn't know how many weeks I actually do have left. So we figured it out. I have 28 weeks left. That sounds crazy! I can't believe it! Luckily I am still loving every minute.

Well I just want to start off and apologize. I don't have much time to email today. This morning we had a zone activity and we didn't get back till late.We went to a place called Kalimba farms. Its a reptile park. So we got to go around and see a bunch of snakes and crocodiles and snakes and stuff. I got to hold a 9 foot python! And we saw a crocodile that was 21 feet long!! (I didn't hold that one) We also got to see them feel the crocodiles. It was pretty awesome. I'll send pictures next week. I don't really have time today.

So one good thing for the week is that immigration went well! I was approved to stay in Zambia till the end of mission. So I for sure won't get sent to another mission! I might still go back to Bots but I'm safe in this mission if not. 

We had another pretty cool finding experience this week too. So we were walking to an appointment and we were running a little late because it was raining really hard.We needed to cross a road to get to the road we needed to take. Its usually a really quiet street and we have no trouble crossing. But for some reason that day it was so busy! Car after car kept coming and we had no chance to cross! I'm not exaggerating- 10 minutes went by without a single break in the line of cars and there is no other way to get to the street we needed to go to. Finally a car stopped to let us by. We thanked him profusely and quickly crossed. So we kept going and a little ways down the road we saw the guy who let us through parked on the side of the road. We were still late but we decided to talk to him. As we were talking we found out that one of his co-workers is LDS and he had been wanting to know more about his church! He doesn't stay in our area but we gave his number to the elders who work where he stays and hopefully he will be able to progress!

I also was able to gain a stronger testimony of the power of fasting this week. So for the last 3 or more weeks I have been praying for help with something. But day after day I didn't seem to be getting an answer. So this fast Sunday I decided to fast about it. Right before I closed my fast for the day, I finally got my answer. The answer was not what I expected it to be at all but it was so clear that I had finally gotten an answer. I am so grateful for the opportunity to fast and I know for sure that the Lord will bless those who follow all his comandments. Including the commandment to fast. 

My favorite scripture of the week was Jacob 5:8. I have read the allegory of the olive trees a lot of times on mission and it was been compared to a lot of different aspects of missionary work. But normally the missionaries are compared to the servants in the vineyard. When I read this verse this week, though. I realized that the missionaries can also be compared to the young and tender branches that the Lord sends wherever he sees fit. 

I love you and I hope you have a fantastic week!

Love, Sister Gehring