Monday, May 26, 2014

Blinging people unto Christ

Dearest Family,

Here is the embarrassing moment from this week. Once upon a time a General Authority came to the mission to have a meeting with all the missionaries. I was asked to give the opening prayer. In that prayer I asked Heavenly Father to ''assist us as a mission to bling more people unto Christ.'' Not bring... BLING! This is becoming a serious plobrem. Don't worry, my companion is still laughing about it.

Its ok though, the meeting was powerful! It was with Kevin S. Hamilton of the 70. He gave us a lot of really helpful council about hastening the work. We talked a lot about the Atonement and how really understanding it will help us understand our purpose. And how helping others understand it will help them keep commitments. I learned a lot so I am really grateful we had it.

The work is coming along ok. What Zach said is true.  There sure are a lot of roller coasters in this work. We just keep praying that we will find more people to teach. We did have one person come to church this week so that was good. Her name is Salome. She's 17 and she has a lot of potential. She accepted a baptismal date for the end of June so hopefully she makes it!

The other news of the week is that Sister Vea might be transferred. I'm pretty sad about it. I love her a lot and we get along really well. We aren't completely sure but we think she might be going to Malawi. But we should find out for sure this week.

I think one of my favorite moments of the week was yesterday. The Lyles (the other senior couple we live next to) invited us over for Sunday dinner. It was awesome. Elder Lyle had so many good stories! Stories about times he's met the prophet and other apostles, hilarious stories from when he was the bishop of a YSA ward, stories about his grandkids. It was so great. I probably could have stayed there for 12 hours and never get bored!

My favorite thing he told us was about how the Atonement relates to nature. We know that when Christ was crucified, the entire face of the earth was changed, right? Well he told us that that is why it feels so wonderful to see the beauty of nature! He told us to think of a time we have been on the top of a mountain or overlooking the grand canyon or rowing down a huge river. He asked us how we felt. Not what it looked like but how we felt. He said the reason we feel like that is because most the wonders and beauty of the world were created in that moment when the face of the earth changed. The moment the Atonement happened. Its the same feeling we can get when we walk onto Temple Square, or when we take the sacrament. The Atonement really does apply to everything and it really does tie everything together. Amazing huh?

My favorite scripture this week was 1 Nephi 7:17. Notice what Nephi prays for. It shows a lot of faith.

Well I love you all so much and I hope the week is fantastic!

Lots of love, Sister Gehring

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Lots o' laughs

Muli bwanji!

This Monday there is a general authority visiting the mission so we have a big meeting with all the missionaries in Zambia. Its going to take all day so we are emailing today instead of then. I'm really excited for it! Kevin S. Hamilton is coming! You can look him up in the conference Ensign. I'll tell you all about it next week Monday.

The week was pretty great. We did lots of tracting again. It makes the time go pretty slowly but it also makes for some funny stories. You meet the most interesting people! For example: While street contacting, a really tall skinny guy came and talked to us. He was wearing a purple shirt, purple pants, purple shoes, and a huge leopard print cowboy hat! It was hilarious. We gave him a pamphlet and introduced the church and invited him to come. Then he walked away and we kept talking to other people. About 30 seconds later we saw him sprinting back down the street yelling ''SISTERS! SISTERS! WAIT!'' (which freaked us out a bit) He got back to us and in an out of breath voice he said '' I forgot to give you my phone number!''

Here are a few other funny stories from the week:

One day for lunch we went to a hamburger place to eat. While we were waiting for the check Sister Vea's earring fell out and rolled under my bench. (We were sitting in a booth) I tried to get it by just reaching down but it was too far under. So I had to crawl under the table to get it. As I was doing that, the waiter came back, just in time to see me crawl back out. He gave me the weirdest look and it took him a good 4 or 5 seconds to compose himself. I tried to explain but he just kind of shook his head and chuckled as he walked away. Sister Vea just laughed. And then after turning bright red, I laughed too.

On our way to our area every day we pass by a HUGE church. So the people know us pretty well there. They see us all the time. One day when we passed, one of the preachers from the church stopped us and invited us to come in and take a tour of the church. We weren't in a hurry so we agreed. That place was nuts! They had a pipe organ and everything! It was pretty awesome! On our way out he started asking questions about us and the church. We aren't allowed to proselyte at other churches but we are allowed to answer questions. When he found out which church we were from he got very excited. ''I know that church! You have a big choir in America! Have you ever heard of it? I have a couple of their CDs. I'll make a copy of them so you can hear them!'' We tried to tell him that it was not necessary but he was too excited. The next day when we passed by he called us over again and gave us 2 CDs of Mormon Tabernacle Choir music! It was so funny!

Its things like that that help us get through the long days of tracting and contacting. We have been having a lot of success though! We still haven't found a ton of people but the people we have met have been great. If all goes as planned we should have 4 or 5 people coming to church tomorrow! Hopefully they all show up.

The big miracles of the week have all been small things. And all of them have been because we followed quiet promptings of the Spirit. Lots of times we were prompted to go check on someone who is rarely home, and we found them there. Lots of times we were prompted to go talk to people sitting or standing near where we were walking and they turned out to be really interested in learning more. Lots of times we were prompted to call people who rarely answer their phones and they answered. It was all pretty amazing.

On one instance Sister Vea was able to teach me a valuable lesson about faith. We were prompted to go and check on a guy that we had met a few weeks earlier. We didn't have his address and his phone wasn't working, but he had told us where he works. We didn't know exactly where it was but we had an idea so we decided to try and find it. I (unfortunately) was a bit skeptical. I didn't think we were going to be able to find the place. But much to my surprise we found it! But when we got there it was not what we were expecting. He told us he worked for MTN which is a phone company like Sprint or T Mobile. So we expected it to be a little phone store. Nope. It was the headquarters. We get to the place and it is this huge 4 story office building. There are probably hundreds of workers there. As soon as we saw it I thought there was no way we would ever find him. We only had his first name, we didn't know which department he worked in, nothing. I wanted to leave. But Sister Vea said that if the Lord prompted us to come here, he would help us find him. I was still skeptical but I went along. Before we even got inside, guess who walked out of a side door right near where we were walking... yup, it was the exact man we were looking for. I'm sad to admit how skeptical I was but I was really grateful that I have a companion who wasn't. And I am thankful that The Lord was able to take that opportunity to teach me a valuable lesson. And I definitely learned my lesson.

Well I hope you all have a good week and I'll talk to you next week!
Lots of love, Sister Gehring

Hedge sculpting is a popular thing in Zambia. But usually they just make geometric shapes. I guess someone was feeling creative here.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Hello again!

Dear Family,
Well I just talked to you last night so I don't really have too much to say... But It really was so good to talk to you! If I already have a funny accent I wonder what I'll be like in 5 months.

I guess for the benefit of those I didn't get a chance to talk to I'll tell you about a couple of the cool things from the week. First of all, John again! He's been out of town so we haven't actually taught him but a miracle happened with his family! We found out that his wife and two kids (who stay about 5 hours north of Lusaka) have been taking lessons from the missionaries up there! We didn't refer them and neither did John. God just really wants this family to be baptized apparently! Its amazing how the Lord makes things happen.

Another miracle came on Wednesday. Wednesday was a pretty hard day for a few different reasons. I prayed a LOT that day but it felt like not much was happening. When we got home that night I was reading in the October 2012 conference Liahona. I read the talk called '' Consider The Blessings'' by Thomas S. Monson. It brought so much comfort that the Lord really is aware of me despite hard trials. The Prophet truly is the mouthpiece of God sent here to guide and direct us.

Sorry that this email is so short! But I love you all so much and I'll talk to you next week. Thanks for being the best!

 Love, Sister Gehring
Melting butter over a candle because the power was out yet again. (Don't mind my Hermione hair. I'd just taken braids out)

Lusaka West Zone! (Minus a couple Elders who werent there).

Elder Packer, Sister Vea, Me, Elder Barnard. They are the the APs.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Two phone calls and a prophet!

Dear Family,

Well I have to say this has been one of the weirdest weeks of mission so far. I'll start off by telling you about the two less-than-awesome phone calls I received.

The first one was from the police station. The phone rang and it wasn't a number we had saved but that happens all the time. So I picked up and it was the police department asking if we knew a Joefrey Makasa(who was one of our investigators) . At first I thought he was calling us for bail money or something. But then he said that regretfully, Joefrey was found deceased. He was found in a ''decomposed state'' in a ditch about 30 minutes from his house. He had been stabbed. They got our number from the inside of the Book of Mormon that was found with his body and they were calling us to see if we knew any of his family members. Unfortunately we didn't. It was the last thing I expected to hear. It was probably the worst phone call I have ever received. But Joefrey was a really great guy. He had a lot of potential. I'm sure he is being taught the discussions on the other side. Its just sad that he had to get there that way.

The second phone call was not quite so bad as that one. It was more just incredibly awkward. It was a phone call from one of our other investigators. Actually he isn't even ours anymore. He didn't live in our area so we referred him to the elders. Anyways, he called a couple nights ago. I picked up the phone and he started asking me weird questions like how old I was and why we referred him to the other elders and how long I'd be in Zambia. So I asked him why he was asking all these things. There was a long pause and he said ''... The truth is... I'm in love with you.'' He told me he wants me to stay in Zambia and marry him. He told me he had already arranged to pay for my schooling and he even promised to build me a house. It was so so so awkward. He told me like 5 times how much he loves me and he even told me that since the day he first saw me, he hasn't gone a day without thinking of me. It was seriously just so awkward. Drunk men propose to me and tell me they love me but this was different. He was serious! I tried to explain that I am a missionary and what that means and that I am going back to America when I finish and that I'm not interested in him at all but he just wouldn't have it. He eventually just told me to think about it and hung up. IT WAS SO AWKWARD! So now I'm just paranoid I'll run into him randomly. But its ok. I'll be just fine.

Then there was another weird encounter of the week. Another one of our investigators invited us to go to a ''Bible study'' with him and his girlfriend. One of our appointments had just fallen through so we told him we could go. We thought it would just be a one hour seminary type thing so we thought it would be cool to go and support him. So we met him at his house and he drove us waaaay over to the other side of town to this little house where we met ''Prophet Mandala.'' Turns out the ''Bible study'' wasn't really a ''Bible study'' Our investigator wanted us to meet the prophet of his church so we would realize that our church is wrong... Luckily everyone was very friendly so it wasn't like we were over there arguing or anything. But it was just so weird! And it definitely didn't sway me at all. In fact my testimony of our church grew! Its amazing that in the times when your faith is put to the test, your faith grows the most.

The last weird experience was something John invited us to. It was ''spiritual emphasis week'' at his university. So he invited us to one of the services. It was just one hour in the afternoon so we went to support him. It started with some pretty cool gospel music. I enjoyed that part. But then the preaching started. The message itself was really good. It was about how because Christ suffered, He understands our suffering. But the way it was delivered was kind of terrifying! The preacher yelled the entire thing! It also made me appreciate the church. We are pretty darn lucky to have the truth.

John is still doing awesome though. This week we went to the distribution center to get a Liahona magazine for one of our other investigators and we found John there! He came on his own! He bought a Bible, a triple combination, the Testaments movie, the church history DVDs and 2 copies of the movie Together Forever (one for him and one for his wife)! This man is so prepared. We went to teach him later that day and after the lesson he requested that the next time we see him, we prepare a special lesson about baptism for him. We definitely didn't say no to that!

Sunday was great too. The other sisters had a baptism. A woman named Catherine and her daughter Esther. I gave a talk about the gift of the Holy Ghost. It went well. I just love baptisms. They just bring so much joy. Even if its someone I didn't teach I still love them. And in the Welcome to the church talk, a member of the Branch presidency said something I really liked. He told Catherine and Esther that '' When you keep the commandments, you aren't doing God any favors. You are doing yourself a favor. The commandments are there to help us get to God''  I liked that a lot.

This week I also got one of the brand new Book of Mormon home study seminary manuals from our Branch President. I'm super excited about it. I figured out a schedule to finish the Book of Mormon once more before I go home. It will be cool to do a more in depth study of it.

Well love you and I am so excited to talk to you on Sunday! Have a happy week!

Lots of love, Sister Gehring
Did I ever tell you about the fancy washing machine we have at our flat? Here's how it works: You put 2 buckets in a bath tub. You fill one with clean water and one with soapy water. Then you put your dirty clothes in the soapy bucket. Then there are these magical things called hands. You use them to wash the clothes. Then you put the clothes in the clean water to rinse them and boom! You have clean clothes! Its pretty cutting edge technology. I'm hoping the rest of the world catches up pretty soon.

I'm being brave and trying new food. I've never eaten fish like that before but it was really good!

We went to visit a member when I was on exchanges and in the corner of the living room was this doll. Please tell me that's not the creepiest thing you have ever seen...

We walked into the chapel to have a meeting with the branch president and this is what we found.