Monday, September 29, 2014

Curve Balls

Dear Family,

Just when you think life can't throw you any more curve balls, one hits you straight in the face. This week was kind of like that. It was a great week but it was definitely not at all what I thought it would be.

It started off great. We had another powerful lesson with Andrew on tuesday. He is progressing so well still! But during his lesson we got a phone call from President Erickson saying that Sister Sempa was going home. He had been talking with her and her family and the Africa Southeast area offices of the church, and under the direction of the Lord it was decided that Sister Sempa should return home. It was hard news but I know its for the best. Im just sad to see her go so soon.

Then on Wednesday we were on exchanges. So I got to be companions with Sister lyon for the day! It was so cool to see her again. Sister Lyon and I have been serving together for a long time. We lived next to each other in Botswana for 3 months and then we lived together in the same flat for almost 8 months in Lusaka. We spent a large part of the day trying to track down members that nobody knows where they are now. We didn't find any of the members but a lot of the people who now stay at their old homes let us in to teach them! So that was pretty exciting.

Then on Thursday first thing in the morning we went to a funeral of the father of one of the members. Funerals here are so sad. People mourn like I have never seen before. Literally weeping and wailing and fainting and falling. It hard to see people so sad. But it makes me grateful for the knowledge we have of the plan of salvation. We had to leave the funeral early though so we could take Sister Sempa to the bus stop. She left on a bus to Lusaka and then she flew home on Friday. I got word that she made it home safely so that's good. Since Sister Sempa has gone home I'm now in a 3-some companionship with Sister Hirwa and Sister Solomone. Its so great to be with Sister Hirwa again! And Sister Solomone is awesome too. I think we will be together till I go home.

Friday was Michael's birthday (a member in Luanshya)! He came teaching with us the entire day! It was fun to be with him and celebrate by teaching!

Then on Saturday we had probably the best lesson of my entire mission. We had an appointment with this guy the other sisters had been teaching but when we got there he told the kids to come tell us he wasn't home. We knew he was lying but we just said ok. Then one of the kids said ''You can just teach us!" So we thought, why not?? So the little boy, Crispin, called over his brother, MacLeon, and we had a lesson with them! (both of them are 6 years old). It was the most hilarious lesson of my life! The kids are smart. Like really smart. They understood everything we taught. But they are 6 year old boys. They asked the funnest questions and said the funniest things. The entire time I was wishing I had it all on video. It was the best!!! Little kids are the greatest!!!

Sunday was good too. Andrew came to church again and brought his best friend Andrew! then 3 other people we invited also came to church! Me, Sister Hirwa, and Sister Solomone ended up teaching the last hour of primary. Primary here is different than at home. The branch is so small there are only about 10-15 ids in primary total. ages 2-11. By the time we got there they had already done the lesson so we just sang songs and played games with them. once again, little kids are the greatest! I loved being in there with them. Then we had a lesson with both Andrews after church. Andrew (the one we have been teaching) was answering all the questions his friend was asking like he's been a member for years! Im so excited for this guy! I pray every single day that ill be able to be here for his baptism! He works a lot so its hard to see him very often and on top of that we are working 2 areas now that Im with the other sisters so there is even less time to see him. But we are going to do the best we can.

Then today was great too. We went to Kitwe. Its a town about 40 mins from Luanshya. Its still in the copperbelt though. We saw the other missionaries, we got some ice cream, we did some souvenir shopping, we had some fun... we just had a really awesome day! Thats why Im emailing so late today.

So yea... life is good but its crazy. Lots happened this week! Nothing ever goes as planned on mission. Im guessing thats just how life is too. These next two weeks are going to be busy! We are working 2 areas now so there is no time to waste! Which is good. I literally can't afford to slack off on my last weeks! Im glad for it.

I can't believe my time is almost up! This is my 2nd to last email ever as a missionary! It doesn't seem real!

Well, I love you so much! Have a great week!

Love, Sister Gehring
Lusaka goodbyes!

Lusaka goodbyes!

Lusaka goodbyes!

More goodbyes

Lusaka district!!

More goodbyes

More goodbyes

even more goodbyes! I really miss Lusaka sometimes...

even more goodbyes! I really miss Lusaka sometimes...

even more goodbyes! I really miss Lusaka sometimes...

Lots of goodbyes

Goodbye to the missionaries. That part is really hard too. 

Goodbye to the missionaries. That part is really hard too. 

Lots of goodbyes

Goodbye to the missionaries. That part is really hard too. 

Lots of goodbyes

Goodbye to the girls... probably the hardest part.

Goodbye to the girls... probably the hardest part.

The Luanshya meeting house! Its in the 2nd floor of an old furniture warehouse. But its dedicated to the Lord so its a Holy Place!

Me, Sister Sempa (who is now back home in Uganda), Sister Mudenda (who has gone to serve in Uganda), Sister Hirwa, and Sister Solomone

Me and Sister Sempa

Deepa, our neighbour/ investigator. We threw a surprise birthday part for her. She's pretty great.

Once upon a time I was walking along a dirt road in Ndeke (one of our areas). I was looking for a house number so I wasn't watching where I was going. Then I fell. The end.

Once upon another time we were buying some vegetables at a street market. I saw a fruit that I had never seen before so I asked what it was. the lady just said ''2 kwacha! 2 kwacha!! It tastes nice! 2 kwacha!'' So I bought it for 2 kwacha (which is like 50 cents). First of all, I had to smash it on the cement just to get it open- thats how hard it was. Then when I looked inside, this is what I found. And if you can believe it, it tasted even worse than it looks. NEVER BUY 2 KWACHA MYSTERY FRUIT!!

I got to see Sister Lyon in the copperbelt!!! 

Im mastering the art of ''pondering''

Goodbye to Sister Sempa... its sad to see her go so soon.

Michael Kanyesha and us! He is a member in the branch that comes teaching with us all the time. It was his birthday an he still came teaching with us the whole day. He's the best!

Crispin and MacLeon. CUTEST BOYS EVER. Their facial expressions pretty accurately describe their personalities.

Sunday dinner picnic on the floor! Just like home!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Im out of ideas for subject lines

Dear family,
I always have a hard time knowing how to start my emails. I feel like I always have a lot to say but I usually sit here for like 5 minutes just looking at the screen trying to figure out where to begin.

But I guess today I'll begin with a joke.
Who is a penguin's favourite auntie?
Aunt- Arctica!!! hahahaha
Ok just kidding. I know it wasn't that funny. But someone told it to us this week so I thought I'd share.

Anyways, this week was pretty cool. The highlight of the week was Andrew! He's the one I told you about last week. He is progressing so so well! We taught him the plan of salvation and after the lesson he texted us and said ''I just want to thank you for the words you shared. The words have touched me. You don't know what you have done in my life. God bless you''. We also gave him the restoration pamphlet during that lesson and asked him to read it before the next lesson. And he did! Actually he did more than read- he took detailed notes! When we asked him what he learned, he taught us perfectly, in great detail, the entire restoration of the gospel. Everything from Christ establishing his church, to the priesthood, to the apostacy, to Joseph Smith... everything! This guy is seriously just awesome. Then we invited him to a branch fireside on Saturday and told him he could even bring a friend. And guess what.. he did both!! Then they both came to church on Sunday!!! Andrew is on date to be baptized on 5 October and we are starting to teach his friend this week.

I love seeing people like Andrew who understand the gospel and act upon it. We are teaching another guy who is the opposite. He understands everything we teach but he refuses to change or act upon the message. Its so frustrating!

I think the biggest lesson I learned this week was about prayer and how powerful it is. I read an article in the Liahona  about a boy who invited his friend to church but the friend wasnt sure if he could come. So the boy prayed with all his heart that his friend would come. And then he did! It was meant for kids I think but it really touched me. I decided to try the same thing with Andrew. We had invited him to the fireside but he wasn't sure if he was going to make it because he thought he might have to work. I prayed so hard that he would come. I seriously put my whole heart into it. And I put as much sincerity as I could with as much faith as I could muster. and the prayer was answered. It might seem like a small thing but it was a big moment for me.

But it wasn't just with Andrew that my prayers have been answered. With Sister Sempa struggling so much (she was having a hard time again this week), I have had to rely a LOT on prayer. Because Heavenly Father is the only one who fully understands the situation. I have asked Him to give me the right words to say, and He has. I have asked Him to comfort Sister Sempa, and He has. I have asked Him to help me be strong, and He has. These past few weeks have made me realize just how aware God is of us. Its hard to explain everything I am feeling and learning here. Impossible actually. Its just the best.

One fun thing of the week is that I was given a Bemba name! We met a lady who told us to call her Auntie Jenny (yes I did tell her that I have an Aunt Jenny at home). When I told her my name she couldnt pronounce it. So she gave me a Bemba one! My Bemba name is Mapalo. It means blessings. Bemba is a pretty cool language.

Well thats about all I have this week. Sorry I didn't send pictures again. The computers here are just too slow. So I might not get to again before I come home. After this I only have 2 more P-days. CRAZY!!!!!

 I love you all! have a happy week!
Love, Sister Gehring

Monday, September 15, 2014

The field is white

Dear family,
This week has been pretty awesome. I don't think I have ever met so many prepared people! The lord is blessing us! here are just a few of the awesome people we have met/taught this week.
1. Andrew. We just contacted him on the street and gave him a pass along card. It had some questions on the back like ''What is my purpose in life?'' ''What happens to us when we die?'' etc. He seemed interested but only slightly. But he agreed to let us go see him. When we got to his house he'd read and pondered about the pass along card! He'd gone over the questions and pondered the answers. We asked him how he felt about them or if he had any questions. He said ''Well I don't want to preach to you guys but can I tell you what my thoughts are about our life after death?'' Of course we told him yes so he went on, ''I know that we are made up of 2 things- and spirit and a physical body. When we die our body stays here and our spirit goes to a place. Something like a spirit world. I think there are probably 2 divisions of the spirit world. A happy place- sort of like a paradise- for the good people. And a hell type place- something more like a prison- for the bad place. But we don't stay there forever. We are just waiting there till Christ comes again. And when he comes again, all of us will be resurrected. I'm not sure what comes after that. But thats what I know. But Im' worried. I'm afraid of going to that prison place. How can I prepare myself to meet God again?'' I'm pretty sure I didn't speak for a long time after he stopped talking. HOW THE HECK DID HE KNOW ALL THAT??? That was like straight out of the Book of Mormon!!! He's never been taught before, we didn't give him a plan or salvation pamphlet or anything. He's just so so so prepared!!!! We are so excited to keep teaching him. He is one of the most golden people we have ever talked to. It was incredible!
2. Barbra. We met her last week but we were finally able to see her on Tuesday. She was another one that didn't seem initially too interested but she let us come. We started talking to her and trying to get to know her a little. She wasn't being too responsive though. She was nice but we weren't really being able to discern what we should teach. But then she said that she wanted to better understand her relationship with Christ. That morning during personal study I'd read Alma chapter 7. We hadn't introduced the Book of Mormon yet but I felt prompted to share that with her. So we did. Me and sister Sempa both noticed it- as she read the verses about the Atonement, this peaceful smile slowly came on her face. She still didn't say much but you could tell the spirit was working with her. After that, Sister Sempa explained that to thank Jesus Christ, we can be baptized to show we want to follow him. She accepted a baptismal date in October and she was even happier after that. She is married with 6 kids and the next time we go we are planning on teaching the entire family!
3. Haanamwiing. Yes that's really his name. I'm still struggling to pronounce it. But he is awesome too. The other sisters met him a while back but he stays in our area so we met him this week. We only got to spend about 10 minutes with him but just from that we can already tell he is so prepared. He belongs to a different church but he said he is putting the church ''on pause'' so he can look into other churches because he feels like his current church isn't practicing what they preach. But so far none of the other churches he has looked into satisfied what he is looking for. We are excited to go back and share the restoration with him. The true church is here!
4. Gift and Melvin. This one is bittersweet. We met them by a miracle. A few days ago a drunk guy called us over to him. Usually I avoid those situations but for some reason we decided to just go see what he wanted. Turns out he wanted us to ''share with him the word of God'' So we taught him a quick lesson and he even invited us to come to his home and meet his family. So on Sunday we went to go see him and he was drunk again. But there were some other guys at the house doing some reconstruction. We invited them to join and we taught the whole group. By the end of the lesson they all realized that their childhood baptisms weren't correct and they want to baptized by proper authority!! But here's the bittersweet part- they stay in another city... So sad! But the church is there and we gave their info to the other missionaries so hopefully they get baptized!
So yea, our whole week was filled with awesome moments like that. Sister Sempa is doing a lot better. Hard work- that's the cure for any missionary problems. When you work hard, the other stuff doesn't seem that bad.

Here's one other awesome moment. On Sunday I was asked to give a talk along with one other Sister missionary and 2 members. They told us to pray about it and decide for ourselves what to speak about. 3 out of the 4 of us (me, the other missionary, and one of the members) all were prompted to speak about overcoming trials. And several people came up to us afterward and told us how much they needed that message in their lives right now. The spirit really works!

WelI love you so much. have a great week! Talk to you next time!
Love, Sister Gehring

p.s. Sister Mudenda says hi.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Bring it on!!

Dear Family,

I've adopted a new motto that I'm going to apply to these last few weeks. It goes like this:

Bring it on!!!

Whatever challenge comes, whatever trials come, whatever anything-bring it on! I'm just going to take whatever comes and make the best of it for the little time that I have left. I'm determined to come home with no regrets and I'm going to make that happen.

Ok, I have a correction from last week. I told you that my new companion's name was sister Sbmpa and that no, in fact it wasn't spelled wrong. Well turns out it was. I spelled it the way my zone leaders told me but they got the name wrong from the APs. Her name is actually Sister Sempa. Much easier to say. She's from Uganda. She just turned 19 in the MTC. And she is probably the sweetest, most sincere, most humble person I have ever met. I really do just feel like her mother sometimes. I love her so so much. She is struggling to adjust to Zambia though. I feel so bad for her. I'm doing my best to help her but she's having a hard time. But I know she'll be ok. The best way to adjust is to just jump in head first. So that's what we are going for. When we are out working she seems to be happy. Its just when she has free time to think that she has a hard time. So we'll just keep working!

Luanshya is sooo different from Lusaka. On Wednesday morning we took the 6:00am bus from Lusaka to Luanshya. Even at 6:00am in Lusaka, the streets are just full of people. Its always busy and noisy and there are a lot of people. Luanshya is way smaller and quieter and a lot less populated. There are still a lot of people but not nearly as many as in Lusaka.

We stay in a flat with 3 other sisters. Sister Hirwa, Sister Mudinda, and Sister Solomone. Sister Hirwa is the sister I started training with Sister Vea a few months back, Sister Mudenda is a member from Lusaka that got called to Uganda but is serving here while she waits for her visa, and Sister Solomone is brand new from the MTC just like Sister Sempa. Our flat is so international! Sister Hirwa was born in Rwanda but grew up in South Africa, Sister Mudenda is Zambian, Sister Solomone is from Fiji but her family currently stays in Kiribati, Sister Sempa is Ugandan, and I'm from the US. I love being able to get to know people from places all over the world! I'll send pictures next week hopefully. The computer I'm using can't upload them.

The branch and the members here are amazing. And the work is on fire!! There are baptisms pretty much every week. TONS more people are willing to listen to us. We had more lessons and new investigators in the few days this week we were here than we would have in 2-3 weeks in Lusaka. Its so nice to actually be teaching again! I missed working like this. I'd missed people actually listening to us! The work here feels more like it did in Botswana. We are still trying to figure out the area and how to get everywhere but bring it on! We never get lost, we just go on adventures. The members are super helpful. They have
walked us around our area showing us where to go and how to get everywhere. Its been super nice.

Here's a funny from the week: The other sisters contacted a guy named Simeon who stays in our area so they gave us his name and address. They told us he was really nice and open to learning. I asked what church he goes to and they told us that he is Rastafarian... bring it on! So on Sunday after church a member showed us how to get there. We found the house pretty easily. Outside on the clothes line there was one of those beanie hats with Rasta colors and we heard reggae music playing. As we got closer we saw him with some friends laying under a tree. They were suuuuuper high. I felt like I was watching a Bob Marley movie or something! It was hard not to laugh. After talking to him briefly we decided to reschedule. After we left though, we all just cracked up. It will be very interesting to see if he goes anywhere in the gospel.

I really love it here. I feel like this is going to be a really great place for me to finish. I do miss Lusaka but I know Im supposed to be here. I love you all! Have a great week!

Love, Sister Gehring

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Only Constant Thing is Change

Dear family,

Well I'll start off today by telling the big news... I'm being transferred! It was super unexpected! Official transfers were a couple weeks ago and they told me I'd be staying in my area for another transfer (which is my last transfer). So I thought I'd be staying in Rhodes Park till I finish. But on Saturday night the elders came over and told me that I'm being transferred to Luanshya! Its a small town in the Copperbelt province. Its about 5 hrs north of here. I'll be opening a brand new area and... I'm training! My new comp is coming right from the MTC. She is from Uganda and her name is SIster Sbmpa. Nope I didn't spell it wrong. It just doesn't have any vowels. I'm going to have to ask her how to pronounce it. The adventures just keep rolling in. 

This is actually a huge answer to prayers. Lately I have been praying that the Lord will bless me with something that will help me stay strong and hardworking till I finish. And months ago I was praying that I'd be able to train right before I go home. But as the time went on I thought it just wasn't the Lord's will for me to train again. I thought the push I was praying for would just come in some other form. This was just a huge testimony booster that the Lord hears and answers prayers. In his own time and his own way but he definitely hears and answers. So if there is something you are praying for and it doesn't happen right away, don't get discouraged. Maybe its just not time yet. 

So I'll be taking a bus up to my new area on Wednesday mornning. And after that, who knows! Either way, it will be an adventure.Sister Fokoto and I are actually both being moved. She's going to a different part of the copperbelt. 2 other sisters are coming to replace us. Its going to make the time go so fast, though. First of all, time just goes fast. Then change also makes things go by fast. And to top it off, I'll be training. That makes time go super fast too. 

This past week was actually pretty great, too. I went on exchanges with Sister Lyon on wednesday! I have seen serving around her for over a year now and we had never been on exchanges! So it was cool to be with her. A miracle happened while I was with her! Do you remember John Mumba?  Well for a long time he had basically just disappeared off the face of the planet. On Wednesday we needed to drop something off at Michelo's house (who lives on the same street where John goes to school.) We were going to be there later in the day so we were just going to do it then but I had a prompting to go by a little bit earlier. So we decided to go then. Right as we turned onto the street, we saw John Mumba coming out of the gate of the school!! I pulled over really fast and we went to talk to him. Turns out he has been in the hospital for eye surgery, has been up and down from the copperbelt, and had just gotten back a couple days before we saw him. While he was in the hospital, one of his nurses saw him reading the Book of Mormon and she asked him where he got it. She is actually a member in another branch! He told her that as soon as he got out of the hospital he wants to be baptized! He even told us the same thing! While we were talking to him he said that he wants to be baptized ASAP! I'm pretty bummed I won't be able to see how he progresses from here but hopefully the sisters taking over our area will take good care of him. I have no doubt that that man will eventually be baptized. 

Other than that, we had a couple really awesome lessons. One with a less active family. We went in with a plan and ended up taking it a totally different direction as directed by the spirit and it went super well. Another with Michelo. We brough some members teaching with us and they helped her a lot to be able to resolve some concerns. So it was really good! Its amazing how much of a difference it makes when you have the spirit. 

Well, its going to be pretty hard saying bye to this place. I have been in Lusaka for a long time now. I've fallen in love with tthe branch and the members and the area and everything. Its definitely been the most challenging time of mission but I have grown and learned so much. I'm so glad I got to serve here. I'm excited for the next 6 weeks though. Time to finish strong!!

Have a great week! I love you!

Love, Sister Gehring