Monday, June 23, 2014

Faith + miracles + hard work = 6

Dear Family,
First of all, thank you so much for all the birthday wishes! I had a really great birthday. It wasn't too different from any other day but it was still really nice. My companion took me to go get milkshakes for lunch, everyone sang to me, Sister Mbonyana made me dinner, and most of our appointments actually went through! So it was a great day. I don't really feel any different. I still just feel like a missionary. But its cool to be a year older I guess! Its going to be weird telling people I'm 21. And its super weird to think that when I came on mission I was 19. And that last year I was in Africa too. Its definitely been a year to remember. I'm still very grateful to be here.
Well I guess the big news of the week is the meeting we had with our mission president. We talked a lot about goal setting and having the faith to carry out the plans to accomplish our goals. The mission president had been feeling that we as missionaries need more direction to our work. I've been feeling the same way. I mean I have been in this area for almost 5 months and we have not seen very much progress. So with this meeting each companionship sat down and discussed their area and came up with a goal for baptisms by the end of July. As Sister Fokoto and I prayed about it and talked about it, we decided to make a goal to baptize 6 people between now and the end of July. It is a really high goal. Really high. But we felt like it was right. So we proposed it to the Lord and He, through the most amazing feelings of comfort and peace and assurance, was able to tell us that He approves of our goal and He will provide a way for it to happen. But we also had to promise Him that we would work as hard as it takes to make it happen. It is going to take huge miracles and faith but I know with all my heart that it will happen. So any and all prayers on the behalf of Sister Fokoto and I, and those people we talk to and teach would be very much appreciated. I'm really excited for the next 6 weeks!
That was the highlight of the week for sure but other good things happened. One cool thing is that we got a car! Its a stick shift so I'm still perfecting my driving but I'm so grateful that I learned before I came out. I would not want to be learning for the first time on Zambian streets. Zambians are crazy drivers. Sister Erickson, the mission president's wife, had me drive with her for a couple hours just to help me feel more comfortable and to have me practice going on hills. About 5 minutes into hill practice, a huge monkey ran across the street right in front of the car. I almost killed a monkey!!! It was so scary! Luckily I didn't though- Dont worry. Its things like that that remind me that I really am in Africa!
My favorite scripture this week is all of 2 Nephi 9. I don't really know why to be honest. It just sort of spoke to me I guess... Just read it. I promise its good.
I love you!!
Love, Sister Gehring
This is the Copperbelt, Lusaka west and Lusaka east zones. (I'm in the Lusaka west zone) This was taken when Kevin S. Hamilton came to the mission a few weeks back.
Sister Teki... a.k.a. Grandma.

Cleaning the carpets!

Last night with the old companions.

My new Zone Leaders- Elder Hill and Elder Allred.

One of the many reasons why I will never wear a skirt again once I get home.
African sunsets are the best in the world. That is a fact.

The sisters trying to figure out what the elders were doing outside.
Me and Sister Fokoto.

Us again.

She likes to make faces too. This will be a great companionship!
This is the street we go down every single day to get to our flat

And this is our flat! We stay in the far right one and the Humpherys live in the one to the left. Then there is one more on the far left that you can't see in the picture. Another missionary couple stays there.

These are the sisters I live with. Sister Ruth (from Kenya), Sister Lyon (from Utah), Sister Mbonyana (from Cape Town, South Africa), me, and Sister Fokoto (fron Johannesburg SA). me and Sister Fokoto are comps and the other 3 are in a companionship together.
Birthday milkshake!

The zone leaders gave this to me for my birthday. It was made in the USA!!! I still don't know where they found it. These do not exist in Zambia.

It sure tasted nice.
We had a district planning meeting right after church. The other branch was still meeting so the only free room was a tiny primary classroom. It was awesome.

We got a car! I'd like to formally thank my dad, Chad Gehring, for teaching me how to drive a manual transmission car. It has officially saved my life. I'm the only sister in Lusaka who can drive this car because nobody else knows how to drive stick.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The song of the righteous is a prayer unto me

Dear family,
Well its been another week working in the Lord's vineyard. Unfortunately we ran into more sour grapes this week than sweet ones. By the end of the week all but about 3 of our investigators dropped us and told us to never come back. Two of the three  girls we had on date to be baptized at the end of this month (who had both gotten their prayers answered that the church is true) told us that we are no longer allowed to come to their house. And the other girl that was on date moved to Livingstone, a city 5 hours away where the church hasn't been started yet. Needless to say it was a bit frustrating. So we ended up spending a large portion of the week tracting. I don't think I have ever had so many people be so blatantly rude to us! Usually even if they aren't interested, people are at least nice about it. But for some reason we just ran into a lot of very grumpy people this week. But it wasn't all bad, we found a couple potentially awesome families to teach. Now the trick will be turning the potential investigators into progressing investigators. We are praying things will start to pick up soon!

A highlight of the week was getting my new companion! It was sad to see Sister Vea go but my new comp is awesome. Her name is Sister Fokoto. She's from a small town in South Africa not far from Mafikeng. She actually reminds me a lot of some of the members I served with there so its been fun. She is hilarious and she is a hard worker. She speaks 7 different languages! And she looooves to sing. She's really good at it too. Most of the time when we are walking from place to place we just sing. She sings alto and I sing soprano. I've been surprised how many of the hymns I know by heart! For companionship study a couple nights, we have just spent the whole time singing. She bought a children's songbook and I have been teaching her all the ones I know. She joined the church as a teenager so she never learned the children's songs. My testimony of the power and spirit of the hymns has definitely been strengthened this week.
Another highlight of the week was doing service for one of the members. There is a member in one of the other branches who works at the distribution centre. Her name is Sister Teki but all the missionaries just call her Grandma. She is pretty much the greatest member ever. She used to be a preacher at a pentacostal church and was even about to start her own church when the missionaries found her. She's been moving forward ever since then. Sometimes she gets stacks of pass along cards from the missionaries and just stands on the streets giving them to people inviting them to church. She seriously is the best. While we were on our way home one night I got the feeling we should stop in and say hi to her at work. (The distribution centre is just inside the chapel) We had a few minutes to spare so we decided to go say hi. We found her inside struggling to figure out how attach a certain type of file to an email and we were able to help her figure it out. We asked her if there was anything else we could do to help and she invited us to bring the elders the next day and come help her reorganize the store room of the distribution centre. The next day we spent almost the entire day there helping her. We ended up not only reorganizing, but rearranging and deep cleaning too. It was so good to go and help her. Service really does bring joy!
The funny moment of the week was that a bird pooped on my face. Yup. It was great... Mostly it was just funny because of the irony of it. One day before it happened I was walking with Sister Lyon and we passed under some trees. She told me she hated walking under those trees because she was always afraid a bird would poop on her. I kind of teased her and told her how unlikely that was and how the chances of a bird pooping in the exact place where she was walking at the exact time she passed that exact spot was super unlikely. Well, the very next day, in almost the exact same spot where I had teased her about it, a bird pooped and it landed in my face... karma sure is a kicker isn't it?
My favorite scripture this week was Romans 8:32. It teaches us that God already gave us the most important thing to him- His only Begotten Son- so there is absolutely no reason he would withhold any other blessings from us. The only thing that can take that away is our own disobedience.
I love you all and I hope your week is full of exciting summer adventures!

Lots of love, Sister Gehring

p.s. I'm sorry if there are always a lot of typos in my emails. I try to type quickly so I have more time to say all I want to say but sometimes that means I make a lot of mistakes. And I usually forget to proofread before I send the emails.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Missionary Work and the Atonement

Dear Family,

Well this week was pretty uneventful for us.  Just did some more missionary work! Sister Vea got a call that she is for sure getting transferred so I will be getting a new companion this week. Sister Vea is going to the copperbelt. It is an area about 5 hours away. My new companion is Sister Fokoto. She is from South Africa and she's been out about 7 months. I've met her once and she seemed pretty cool so I'm excited!

Other than that the only other really out of the ordinary thing that happened was last night. One of the members of the branch presidency invited us and the Zone leaders over to his house for dinner to say goodbye. (Both of them are getting transferred too) So we get there all excited to eat cause his wife is an awesome cook. But then they told us that we were cooking! What?? They told us that there was a whole chicken defrosting and we could use whatever else we could find and we had to make dinner! Its not like I was offended or anything but it was just hilarious! And super unexpected! I actually didn't end up helping that much though. Sister Vea and Elder Shoba (one of the ZLs) did most of it. It turned out really good but it was just so funny. Then to add to the humor of everything, the power went out for like 15 minutes right in the middle of it all. And then to top it all off, right as we were sitting down to eat, a stray cat got inside. Everyone else there was either scared of cats or just didn't like them. So I was the lucky one who got to chase it down, catch it, and let it out. The whole evening was just glorious. Definitely one to remember.

Well because there aren't really any other eventful things that happened, I'll just share the talk I gave yesterday in Sacrament meeting.  I was asked to just speak about missionary work so I decided to speak about missionary work and the Atonement.

Here it is:

In the Bible and Book of Mormon we read of several missionaries who had not always lived their lives in harmony with the teachings of the Gospel. From the Bible we read of the story of Paul, formerly known as Saul. The book of Acts relates the story of Saul traveling around persecuting the church. in Acts 8:3 it says

''As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.'' 

Later, in Chapter 9 as he is still ''Breathing out threatening against the disciples'', he was visited by the Lord. Ch 9 verses 3-6 read

'' And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.'' .

After this experience Saul was blinded. After three days without sight Saul was miraculously healed and was baptized. Verse 20-22 then says

''And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.''

After he had come to know of the light and redeeming power of the Atonement, Saul wasted no time in going to share it with others. His name was later changed to Paul and he became one of the most powerful missionaries to ever live. Much of the new Testament is comprised of his teachings.

From the Book of Mormon we learn the story of Alma the Younger. He and the sons of King Mosiah also traveled around persecuting the church and its members. Mosiah 27:8-10 says ''.Now the sons of Mosiah were numbered among the unbelievers; and also one of the sons of Alma was numbered among them, he being called Alma, after his father; nevertheless, he became a very wicked and an idolatrous man. And he was a man of many words, and did speak much flattery to the people; therefore he led many of the people to do after the manner of his iniquities. And he became a great hinderment to the prosperity of the church of God; stealing away the hearts of the people; causing much dissension among the people; giving a chance for the enemy of God to exercise his power over them. And now it came to pass that while he was going about to destroy the church of God, for he did go about secretly with the sons of Mosiah seeking to destroy the church, and to lead astray the people of the Lord, contrary to the commandments of God, or even the king''

Then in an experience similar to that of Saul, Alma is visited by a Heavenly messenger- this time an angel. Chapter 27 verses 11-13 says

'' And as I said unto you, as they were going about rebelling against God, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto them; and he descended as it were in a cloud; and he spake as it were with a voice of thunder, which caused the earth to shake upon which they stood; And so great was their astonishment, that they fell to the earth, and understood not the words which he spake unto them. Nevertheless he cried again, saying: Alma, arise and stand forth, for why persecutest thou the church of God? For the Lord hath said: This is my church, and I will establish it; and nothing shall overthrow it, save it is the transgression of my people.''

. After this visit, Alma fell to the earth. For 2 days he laid as if he were dead. But after the prayers and faith of his father and the other members of the church, Alma, too, was miraculously healed. Alma the Younger immediately began to testify of the beauty and power of the Atonement. Chapter 27 verses 24, 28-30, and 32 read,

''For, said he, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit... Nevertheless, after wading through much tribulation, repenting nigh unto death, the Lord in mercy hath seen fit to snatch me out of an everlasting burning, and I am born of God. My soul hath been redeemed from the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God. My soul was racked with eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is pained no more. I rejected my Redeemer, and denied that which had been spoken of by our fathers; but now that they may foresee that he will come, and that he remembereth every creature of his creating, he will make himself manifest unto all...And now it came to pass that Alma began from this time forward to teach the people, and those who were with Alma at the time the angel appeared unto them, traveling round about through all the land, publishing to all the people the things which they had heard and seen, and preaching the word of God...''

Just as Paul had been, Alma was saved by the Atonement and he shared that as soon as he could. Alma and the sons of Mosiah each then became powerful missionaries in bringing thousands of souls unto Christ.

While we will most likely never go through experiences like those of Paul and Alma, each of us had the opportunity to be changed and saved through the infinite power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. John 3:16-17 states
''For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved''

That is why Christ came! That through Him, we may be saved.

Moses 1:39 says

''For behold, this is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.''

God's whole purpose and joy is to see us- his children- return to him! To receive immortality and eternal life! The atonement of Jesus Christ is the things that makes both of these things possible. Because Christ was resurrected, all of us- no matter if we choose good or evil- will be resurrected also. This is a free gift to ALL.
Eternal Life, however, comes only to those who accept and live the gospel as taught by Jesus Christ. Those who have faith in him, repent, are baptized by one holding the priesthood power of God, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (also by the proper priesthood authority), and then endure faithfully to the end of their lives. 2 Nephi 31:21 says

''And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God''

There truly is no other way. Both Alma and Paul understood this doctrine. And as soon as they did, they shared it with others. 2 Nephi 2:8 says

''Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.''

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we are privileged to have the knowledge of the fullness of the gospel. Do we realize how blessed we are? Do we realize that the power and authority and the keys to unlock the full power of the Atonement reside only in this restored church? We may know this, but think of how many of our brothers and sisters- fellow children of God- do not. and how will they know if we don't tell them?! One of the last commandments Christ gave to his disciples was to go and teach the gospel. The prophet Joseph Smith said ''After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the gospel'' In the October 2013 General Conference President Thomas S. Monson said ''Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord's vineyard to bring souls unto him''

Brothers and Sisters, the power of the Atonement is real. I have felt it in my life. It has saved my life. It has changed my life. And I know that it can do the same for anyone who accepts it. Missionary work is the way that we can help others whose hearts are troubled find their way back into the Fold of God. I would encourage each and every one of you to pray to your Father in Heaven and ask him to know of even just one person you know who is in need of the Atonement in their life, and then share the gospel with them. I know that the Lord will help you to know now only who to share with, but also how. Great blessing await both you and the person you share with. If you need help knowing how to start, talk to the missionaries- we will help you.
I know that this is truly Christ's church once again established on the earth. I know that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can be made clean from any mistake we have ever, and will ever make. I love this gospel with all me heart. It is true. And this I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

I love you all so so very much and I hope you have a wonderful week. You are in my prayers every day.
Love, Sister Gehring

Real African meal.

Bon Appetite!
I'm not going anywhere but other people are so yesterday we took lots of goodbye photos.
This is the Van Heerden family. Just the mother and daughter actually. Anna(the daughter) served a mission is England. The family had 2 other sons also serve and currently have a son in the Johannesburg mission. They are so good to us. They give us food pretty much every week at church, they are very thoughtful all the time, they are just great. They have a list of missionaries that they pray for specifically every day by name. On the list is their son, all the missionaries in the branch, and when they found out Sister Vea and I both had brothers on missions, they added them to the list. They are an incredible family.


This is our district! Elder Barnard, Elder Pauni, me, Sister Vea, Elder Shoba, and Elder Packer. Packer and Barnard are the APs, Pauni and Shoba are the ZLs.

Me and Elder Shoba. Beautifully photo bombed by Brother Lord Mbambu (who is in the branch presidency).
Me and Sister Vea. I'm really going to miss her.

Brother Mbambu (the photo bomber) and his wife and daughter. They have 2 daughters but the other one was running around playing.

There is a group of volunteers from the USA here to help out with the orphanage out branch president runs. I thought this was so cute. 2 sets of twins!


Monday, June 2, 2014

People are very confused...

Dear Family,
Recently the phrase ''People are very confused.'' has been a theme in the lives of me and Sister Vea. It just seems to perfectly describe many of the situations we end up in. Be it funny situations, frustrating situations, you name it. It just seems to fit.
Well to start off I need to vent about a couple of things. Sorry in advance.
1. Alcohol. I legitimately and honestly just do not understand why people drink. I've tried to think of even one positive thing that comes from drinking and I can't do it! There is nothing good that comes of it! It makes you act like an idiot, it makes you smell bad, it kills brain cells, it destroys families and relationships. Its just so dumb! It is one of the most frustrating thing I have had to deal with my entire mission. I understand that it can and is a legitimate addiction that is hard to overcome. So for that reason I admire people who try to give it up. But it just makes me so sad to see people with so much potential completely throw their lives away because they drink! Just don't take that first drink!!! I'm so grateful I grew up in a place and in a home where I wasn't exposed to it so now that Im old enough to make my own decisions, I have a very solid stand on the issue and there is nothing in heaven or earth that would change that.
2. The second thing I want to get off my chest is a common misconception that people have about missionaries. I just would like anyone reading this to know that missionaries are real people too! We aren't perfect. We don't know know all the answers. We can't do everything.  We sure as heck will try! But we are humans too. We have been called by God and set apart by priesthood authority and have been given power unique to missionaries. So in that way we aren't just normal people. But just know that just because we have a black nametag, doesn't mean we are immune to emotions. I'm not saying this because im being mistreated or something like that. I am very happy and  love this work! But just for the information of anyone reading this who has never spent time around missionaries, or who is preparing to go on a mission, or just anyone else, missionaries are people too.
Thanks for ''listening''.

This week for us was pretty great! There were quite a few funny moments again. Here are a few:

1. We were walking along one day and we saw a group of men trying to get a bed frame onto the second floor of a house by hoisting it up over the balcony. Upon further inspection we saw that the man on the balcony was wearing a Utah Utes shirt. We asked him where he got it and in a very thick Zambian accent he said ''I'm from Utah!'' so we asked him ''Oh really? which part of Utah are you from?'' to which he thought for a minute and replied ''Mississippi!!'' It was great.

2. Last monday all the senior couples (including the mission president and his wife) had FHE at my neighbor's house. (my neighbor is a senior couple). So all their cars were parked outside. I had just taken a drink of water and I walked into the kitchen (water still in my mouth) Standing right in the doorway was Sister Lyon. She had a very mischievous smile on he face and she said '' Lets egg president's car...'' It was so unexpected and funny I literally did one of those spitting water things like you always see in the movies. I thought that really did only happen in movies! Nope. Its real. That just made us laugh so hard we both ended up in tears on the floor laughing till out abs hurt .... I hope this is as funny to you as it was to me. If not, I promise it really was funny! (and please know that we would NEVER actually do that to the president's car!!)

3. One day we were teaching a lesson on the side of the road. We had a member teaching with us. Before the lesson started we were just sitting on a little bench waiting for the investigator to finish something so we could start. Mary (the member) pulled out her For Strength of Youth pamphlet and was just flipping through it while we waited. A car drove up and stopped when he got to us. The man driving yelled ''That book!! I need that book!! Please! Give me that book!!'' We were trying to figure out which book he was talking about when he started pointing very enthusiastically at the For Strength of Youth book. Mary, being the great missionary that she is, jumped up, ran over and gave it to him. Then the man sped off cheering. It was quite odd. I hope he reads it!

4. Another day we were tracting. We knocked on a door and a nice lady opened. We introduced ourselves and asked her if she had ever heard of the Church before. She said yes so we asked her if she knew where the church was She replied ''...31'' At that point we realized she didn't speak English. oops.

5. Our stove exploded! So I guess this isn't really that funny but the situation was just humorous. Last night while we were cooking dinner  a huge electrical spark came out of one of the burners, there was a loud pop and then the entire stove stopped working. Initially it was scary, but nothing caught on fire and everyone was fine. But then we realized that we were in the middle of making dinner, our food was half cooked, and we had been fasting all day. It was so sad. Luckily the Humpherys saved the day. they let us come over (just next door) and finish cooking. Then Elder Humpherys came over this morning and fixed the stove. Its just funny that we seem to always have complications cooking on fast sunday!
Yup. Those are the funnies of the week! We had some pretty powerful lessons too. Remember Salome? The girl I told you about last week? Well we have continued teaching her and she is great! She prayed about the things we have been teaching her and she knows now that it is all true. She is even telling all her family and friends about it! We started teaching her Sister-in-law, Tiza, and they are now both on date to be baptized at the end of June! Its pretty exciting!

Another person we are teaching also finally got an answer to her prayers this week. Her name is Violet. She is a pretty quiet girl so we haven't been sure how much she is understanding and retaining from what we have been teaching. But this week she told us that as she was praying, the spirit came over her and told her that it is all true! She hasn't come to church yet but she promised to come next week.

The highlight of the week was Atkins! I told you about him a few weeks ago I think. He is the super top secret security guard that was very touched by the lesson about the Atonement. Well we can't see him very often because he works a lot but we have been seeing him as often as we can. And he is powerful. He has changed SO much already just in the few weeks we have been teaching him. We gave him one of those mini copies of the book of Mormon and he carries it with him wherever he goes. He is just so prepared to accept the gospel. This week while we were teaching him the plan of Salvation, ho got quiet for a second and then told us '' Sisters, I need to get baptized'' Let me just tell you that is music to a missionary's ears! We told him how excited we are and told him that in order for him to do that he needs to come to church. So he promised he would come. And yesterday he did!! And the branch fell in love with him. It was testimony meeting. We explained what that was and he got nervous that he would be forced to go up there. We reassured him that he didn't need to worry. You only bear your testimony if you want to. Well I guess the he really felt the spirit because he went up there and bore his testimony!!! It was his very first time ever at this church and his first time at any church in years and he bore his testimony! He told his conversion story and how he knew that God led us to him. It was powerful. I have no doubt that he is going to be a leader in the church someday.

My favorite scripture of the week is 18:16. I just admire Nephi. He went through more than most of us will ever have to but through it all, he praised God.

I love you all so much and I hope you have a great week! Keep on keepin' on!

Sister Gehring
The older kid is named Joseph and the little one on his shoulders is named Helaman. They are the cutest brothers you'll ever meet.

We went to a wedding. The guy on the middle left is the groom and the rest are his groomsmen. They all served missions together in Uganda.

Companions reunited at mission tour! (we accidentally were matching)

Me and Sister Lyon. We get along quite well. I think it has something to do with the fact that we both like making stupid faces.

There was a lovely surprise on one of my eggs!
These little chickens are spray-painted all over Lusaka. It drives me nuts cause I dont know what it means!

Its amazing how much new born puppies resemble rats....

One of our investigators has a new addition to the family! (4 actually but the momma dog would only let me hold one at a time)