Monday, December 29, 2014

The Year Is Dying, Let It Die, Ring Out Wild Bells

Email from Monday, December 29, 2014

Luckily, that song isn´t in the Spanish hymnbook so I was not tortured by it this year! But I still had a moment of silence for all of you Mormon Americans who suffered through the only hymn written in minor key. Sorry folks!

But Anyway, this week was Christmas?! I still don´t believe that even happened. That I got to see my awesome fambam and share some special time with them on that special day. Surprisingly, I wasn´t an emotional wreck afterward. I just felt so grateful to even have a family and then to get to talk to them, what a blessing!

So I finished the Book of Mormon this week and convienently, it´s still true. :) And I made the decision to begin it again...IN SPANISH! It´s totally helping me with my language abilities already and I kind of like it more because it´s like discovering it all over again. Yeah, it takes some time but it´s time well spent to get so much out of it! I hope you all are making the Book of Mormon part of your daily study!

Also, family, you should know that I sacrificed myself for our Skype call because the lady´s house where we called from had about 12 trillion mosquitos and I currently have around 40 mosquito bites on my body. It is.....THE WORST. So I had to start taking Vitamin B in addition to my daily lathering of the strongest bug spray on the planet.

As for this week´s edition of #justBoliviathings which are things that I now consider normal that may make you people shudder a bit....
  • my "dead things in the street" count continues to rise...dogs, cats, rats, snake, 3 men which were probably just drunk but I couldn´t see their chest moving so...who knows
  • trash here doesn´t go in a can that you take out to the street once a week, but there´s just metal baskets on the side of the road where people throw things and then the wind blows it out and that´s why the trash problem remains unsolved
  • we don´t flush our toilet paper, I know my family and some of you know that but for those of you who are learning this info for the first time, yep. it´s true.
  • I cross a freeway every day to get to my area each day and every time I have to go to the church. I would probably never ever do that in the states but here, it´s just kind of my life and we just run fast
  • we walk pretty much everywhere but our area is GIANT so sometimes we have to take the micro, I am as tall as the that´s always fun. :) It´s the only time I feel like a giant.
On the spiritual and in my opinion most important side,

We had our Christmas conference this week with over half of our mission and it was glorious. Seriously, I don´t even know how I lived without all the knowledge I gained this week. And I got surprise called out of the congregation at the end to bear my testimony in Spanish. I about peed my pants when he said my name. But I went up there and did it. I have no idea what I said which is evidence of the gift of tongues and the power of the spirit but I know I didn´t stumble on any words and that what I said was exactly what the Lord wanted me to say in that moment. Which is the coolest feeling ever, by the way. President Willard said he was so proud of me and I almost cried, because the Willards honestly feel like a new set of parents for this time in my life and even though Mom and Dad don´t get to see me right now, the Willards are taking great care of me. Along with Hermana Lyon who is seriously the perfect trainer for me. I am so grateful for her example and for her testimony. She made this first Christmas away from home such a lovely experience. We sat under our felt Christmas tree on Christmas Eve night, read the Christmas story from the bible and sang Silent Night (in English!) and then woke up Christmas morning and made french toast and exchanged gifts. It was truly wonderful.
I hope you all had a FANTASTIC Christmas and remember that Jesus Christ is not only the reason for the season but the reason for everything and all that we have and are. He IS the divine gift.
I´ll talk to you all next year! ;)
Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger
 O Christmas Tree

 Christmas Conference

 The tallest hermana in this mission...with the shortest hermana

 How could you not love this country? I witness precious moments like this all the time!

 Christmas morning

 My Zone

 Featuring my fambam. (Christmas Skype session)

 Spelling error, I thought it said taller chicas....

I´ma Buy You A Drank (Hermana), Whatcha Think About That?

Email from Monday, December 22, 2014.

Feliz Navidad! I cannot even believe it´s already that time! Nor can I believe that this week, a man bought me my first beer. Yep. That happened. DURING A LESSON! We have a lot of people own little corner stores and stuff here and we have to meet with them in the back of the store while they´re still working so while our investigator got up to help someone a man walked in and started talking to us and then was like "Do you drink Malta?" and I just stared at my comp because I have no idea what that is so then she´s like "yeah you can drink it" so he goes over, buys me one, and then creepily stares at us for too long before leaving. Turns out, Malta is beer without alcohol so technically I can drink it and I guess members here do but I have zero desire to drink it so it´s sitting unopened on my desk. I think I´m going to turn the can into a pencil holder but I´m definitely keeping that little memento to laugh about forever more. On that subject, I hate men here. They´re going to make those desperate RMs at BYUI look pretty good when I get home. Because I´ve heard and seen so many barfarama things from men on the street that it´s ridiculous. But thus is life, and to anyone thinking I should take it as a 

Anyway, LUCY GOT BAPTIZED! And it was a day full of miracles. I feel a lot closer to Lucy because I was in the lesson when we extended the invitation to be baptized unlike Jaed last week who was already set before I got here. Lucy is probably one of my favorite people in this country because she´s just got the strongest faith and is so determined to do what is right and follow the example of Jesus Christ. Her life has completely changed through the gospel and she´s ready to change even more to prepare for the temple. Her daughter Diana is 13 and has been attending church for over a year and has more personal progress done than I did at like 16 so she´s kind of a rockstar. But she hasn´t been able to be baptized because her dad is really against it and does not like the church at all. But even since I got here, I´ve seen a change in him in how he treats us when we stop by for lessons and the fact that HE CAME TO LUCY´S BAPTISM! I was so happy! Then Diana, the daughter, bore her testimony and I cried for the first time since I got out into the field because it was so beautiful and powerful and her dad got to hear the desires of her heart for the very first time and realize how important this gospel is to both her and his wife. I know that was a miracle and I just pray that his heart will be softened and that he can allow Diana to be baptized. 

This week, I learned that it´s rainy season in Boliva. Who knew? Haha, luckily I brought rain boots, otherwise, I would be doomed. But yeah, the whole town pretty much floods and there´s trash floating everywhere. Gross, but for some reason I just love this place so much. Seriously every day, I tell Hermana Lyon that I love this country and these people more every day and it´s true! Ah, Bolivia is the perfect place for me. I experienced my first cockroach this week and Hna Lyon was a rockstar and killed it for me. She´s pretty great. I thought that was bad until the Hermanas who live on the floor above us found a spider nest in their room that had cracked open to release at least 2,000 baby spiders. HAHAHA I WOULD BE DEAD. I´ll take a cockroach instead please. (not 2,000 baby cockroaches though please no no no)

Anyway, I need to be better about writing funny things down because seriously Hna, Lyon and I laugh our faces off all time, I just can never remember why....Probably because we laugh at silly stuff but it´s the best way to get through a tough day. I think I´m helping Hna Lyon with that because she´s a bit quicker to get down about things than I am so then I just bring up a joke or something and focus on the positive. Like the fact that so many people here are so good to us. We´ve had so many people reach out to us to offer us food for christmas or time with their family n christmas so we don´t get lonely. I feel so blessed in our ward. Our pensionista´s family is going to bring us up dinner on nochebuena (christmas eve) because that´s what they celebrate here and they have a big dinner at 11 at night. SInce we´re asleep by then, they´re bringing it up during our planning session. :) And we have a member who speaks really good english and he came up to us and was like " want cinnabon this week? Okay I´m going to bring it by, you deserve it!" He´s so awesome. 

Our area is awesome and we have a good mix of less actives and new investigators to work with. The hard thing is finding out that not all of the new investigators are going to progress, that´s a bit tough for me when we have an awesome first few lessons but then they won´t read or pray or go to church. But that´s the nature of this work, I guess. I love Hermana Lyon and I feel like we´re both learning and growing together every day which is awesome.

I love you guys! Don´t forget about the REAL reason for the season. Go out and serve someone this week and do something nice for the missionaries. I´m not feeling too sad or lonely because I know you guys are praying for me and thinking of me and I feel your love. Don´t worry too much about me, I honestly am loving it. I feel weird saying that because everyone told me it was going to be miserable at´s definitely NOT easy but it´s worth it and with the right attitude, it´s awesome! (everything is awesome ;) I got Hna Lyon singing that song all the time, it´s fab)

Enjoy your christmas mornings and watching The Grinch and singing Dominic the Donkey! I love you all!

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger

Shoutouts to RYAN PACE for his birthday this week...I missed this one too...sorry!
Brandon Bourgeous! I just hope he´s doing good still, he´s such an awesome example to me so if someone could let him know that, please do. Also Jesse and John Smidt, I told my comp some stories from our meso2014 trip and I was dying laughing thinking about how hilarious you guys are. Hope you´re doing awesome! Never stop wearing your sombreros please.

Apparently our font takes 4 hours and we thought it took 2 so we had to help out a bit....
Diana is in the stripes, she´s Lucy´s daughter then the gordita is Lucy´s granddaughter Dulce and the other girl is the girl who first invited Diana to church! SO INVITE YOUR FRIENDS! IT COULD CHANGE THEIR WHOLE FAMILY! :)

Monday, December 15, 2014

My Faith is Like A Little Seed, It´s Really Rather Small

Email from Monday, December 15, 2014


It´s almost Christmas! How loco is that?! It´s a bajillion degrees here but I can tell it´s Christmas by the fact that everyone is missing our appointments to go shopping. It´s frustrating! But the cool thing here is that since it´s summer time, everyone´s on summer break...for Christmas! Doesn´t that sound so crazy to us Americans who get like maybe 2 weeks for winter break? But anyway, quick shout out to Breanna Scott for never emailing me ever but I still love her anyway and she was in like 3 of my dreams this week and also to Ruth and Becky for the cutest dang advent calendar! I love it and we sing the songs every day for our comp study! Also to the Prasad family! I´ve been thinking about them a lot this week so I´m just sending them well wishes and hope everything is going awesome for them! 

This week, I learned a very important lesson that will probably help me for the rest of my life. You can have a discouraging day without getting discouraged. Yep, it seems simple enough but think about it. How often do things go wrong and we just think "ugh, that´s it. I give up or I can´t fix this¨or something like that. But those thoughts are wrong! We can have a discouraging day or even a discouraging week or month and remain enthusiastic and happy about what we are doing. It´s all up to us! So this week, when no one was home and no one on the street wanted to talk to us, I decided to be positive. I decide the success of my mission! We all decide the success of our life! Yes, it´s tough but the Lord knows. He will help us and guide us and strengthen us!

Fun things that happened this week,
-having a woman think I was a menonite because my skirt "es muy largo, no?" (this is funny because the menonites here are like the frumpiest dressed people ever aka I look frumpy to this woman and Hna. Lyon couldn´t stop laughing. I was wearing my fave skirt too...:( oh well!)
-the sunday school teacher answering the phone while she was teaching to simply say "¡estoy in la capilla! ¡no me hables!" 
-a woman that we´re teaching invited us for lunch but we have a pensionista so I tried to refuse but she was insistent so we agreed to go but I had a bad feeling about eating someone´s random food because we have a pensionista for a reason, ya know?? But Hna Lyon was so sure it would be we show up and there´s no food! she forgot! So she just gives us this melon juice until her daughter reminds her and she was like "HERMANAS! LO SIENTO! Esta bien porque yo tengo chivo" and I was like "uhhh...que es chivo" and Hna Lyon just whispers "goat." but we didn´t have any other option except starving so yep. I ate goat. It wasn´t too bad. I also might have eaten llama meat in an empañada also but I´m not sure, if it was llama it was amazingly delicious. It tasted just like shredded beef. But yeah, not sure what it was.
-our sacrament cloth in our capilla is bedazzled. no joke, someone embroidered the name of the church on it with sequins, it is totally FAB (read as tacky)
-last week we went to heaven aka Vacafria which is the best ice cream of all time and it´s such a nice place, way nicer and tastier than coldstone believe it or not (half of my area is super nice and modern and then the other half is very third world but it´s all mixed up) 
-I met a monkey! We contacted a woman whose cousin has a pet monkey and he brought him out and I got a sweet picture with him, he was precious! se llama Martin

I´m learning, growing, sweating, and loving every day. It´s true about how important our study time is each day in determining how our day will turn out. My advice to you all is STUDY THE SCRIPTURES EVERY DAY and study until you feel a change in your heart. Sometimes that happens in the first minute or in the last but it happens every day when we prayerfully study. I promise that.

Hope all is well, I can´t believe that next week, we´ll be figuring out a time to SKYPE! Ah! Insane! I love you all!

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger
If you feel so inclined..........

I would love snack size stuff that I can take with me when I´m out proselyting for 7 hours a day with no dinner. Like fruit snacks, little packs of oreos or ritz or something, and HICHEWS! Hna Lyon got me obsessed. And pass-along cards in espanol would be nice too. Like, any food is good food, I love snacks. Thanks fam-bam! You da best. Also could you share this on my blog because I know Ryan wanted to send something so please announce my desires. Thank youu!
Packages can be sent to this address:
Sister Jennifer Ann Gauger
Bolivia Santa Cruz Mission
C/ Saavedra esq. Cochabamba
Torres Cainco, Blq Empresarial, Piso 9
Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz
My companion-Hna. Lyon

Martin the Monkey

Baptism of Jaed!
 When it rains, it pours.

I looooooove the food here, especially the ice cream but EMPANADAS OH MY HECK they taste like heaven deep fried

Midnight (okay 10:15) snacking
UGH THIS IS AMAZING. Anyone who finds schoco mac in the US gets a special hand drawn picture from me or something else equally cool. 

Comp Bonding


Sunday, December 14, 2014

And the sign says WELCOME TO BOLIVIA it´s been waiting for you

First email from Piray, Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Email from Monday, December 8, 2014.


Everyone who ever told me anything about Bolivia being scary, gross, or weird was wrong. Okay, it might be a little bit different than the states (okay A LOT different) and there are some gross things (like a man peeing on the side of the road in our neighborhood or the chicken tallon in my companions soup at my very first meal or the cow udder I ate on my second day) but I really love every second because it´s all part of the exact experience I´m supposed to have right now.

I´ve got a thing for short companions from Utah who are perfect for me because I´m here with Hermana Lyon from South Jordan, Utah! She´s pretty great.And grab your tissues again because this is another amazing story of how we came to be. Before I even got here, President Willard changed the return dates of all the missionaries who were supposed to go home in January so that they could return home to their families before Christmas and start school in the winter. Hna Lyon was one of those missionaries but she felt really uneasy about going home and after praying about it, she knew she needed to stick with her original date and stay for one more transfer and she met with President Willard and told him that she didn´t know why but she knew she needed to stay. Also note that 11 hermanas went home the day I arrived. So I and 1 other hermana who trained at the Provo MTC showed up to replace 11 hermanas who Pres Willard said were some of the best. Then when I met with Pres. Willard for my first interview, he told me that he felt that it was no coincidence that I came when I did and that he knows I´m going to be an awesome missionary and that he received a clear revelation who my companion should be. So when me and Hna Lyon met, Pres Willard said "Hermana Lyon, Hermana Gauger is going to be one of our best. She is the reason you are still here. Because she needed to learn from you because you are one of our best and the Lord wants you to teach her everything. She is the reason you´re here and Hermana Gauger, Hermana Lyon is the reason you arrived when you did." I know. I cried just like you probably are right now. First because Heavenly Father is so awesome and has a perfect plan and second, because of the amount of faith my mission president has in me already. I hope that doesn´t sound braggy because I´m definitely not anywhere close to being the best missionary right now but I do feel every day that the Lord is going to work mighty miracles in my mission and I´m so excited about that!

Okay, my only secret little wish is that I could live tweet my reactions to the food here because every meal is.......unique. But I haven´t had anything that was inedible yet. We eat a lot of potatos and rice and chicken and it´s actually all awesome. Minus the soup. I hate soup! But we eat it every I´m trying to get over that. I eat cereal and yogurt for breakfast, we have a pensionista (member who makes us lunch) and then we don´t eat dinner. LIke at all... Like I eat at 7:30, 1:30, and then at 9:30.... I´m still adjusting to that because I get so hungry when we´re out from 2:30-9 every day. Me and Hna Lyon are going to be better about bringing snacks so we don´t completely starve. But really, the food is good and I´m probably going to love it very soon.

I´m in the city of Santa Cruz and my area is called Piray! It´s awesome and there´s a lot of work to be done here. My bishop is AWESOME and LOVES working with the missionaries. He´s super patient with my Spanish and during ward council he announced "Hermana Gauger is new here and is learning so we´re all going to work with her so we can improve our ward and help her." And he always reminds me "vamos a ayudarle, Hermana" It´s so sweet.

Okay so let´s just take a moment to appreciate the 7th article of faith because the gift of tongues is real and I have been so blessed. My Spanish is not really bad at all. It´s just a matter of adjusting to the accent, learning more words, and remembering how to conjugate. But I experience marked improvement every day. My first day, I just smiled through lessons and felt like a fool as I fumbled through my testimony but yesterday, I opened my mouth and just taught by the spirit. IT WAS AWESOME! I love Spanish and I also love that Hermana Lyon helps me improve but not by forcing me. She just makes me want to improve and teaches me by her example.

Think of the hottest day we´ve experienced in California. A day we probably spent in the pool or in the A/C or eating ice cream. Well, every day is that hot (it really doesn´t feel hotter than I´ve experienced in Sac town) but there is no escape! There is no pool (actually there is but not for me) and there is no A/C! My only refuge is the shower which has no hot water but I consider that a blessing. I´m pretty sure I´m not going to gain too much weight because I sweat so much. But the comforting thing is that even the Bolivians are sweating and complaining about the heat so we´re all in this together...slowly dying of heat stroke. Haha just kidding. It´s not that bad, I drink a lot of water-purified water! But every day, I glow and shimmer in the sun because I first lather my entire exposed body in SPF50 sunscreen and then follow that up with the strongest bug repellant ever and then I`m all oily (think, nacho libre oily but then in sister missionary clothes)

The Spirit seriously guides us every single day!! And it feels so natural. I´ve seen some pretty miraculous things happen in lessons and gained an even stronger tesimony of the gospel as I´ve watched it change lives. It´s amazing. We have our first baptism this Saturday! Jaed! He´s such a cool guy and has such a great desire to change his life. Please pray that all will work out!

I love this place, these people, and this opportunity. I haven´t felt too stressed yet but sometimes I do feel a little overwhelmed at the thought of doing this every day for the next 496 days. So I try not to think about it like that. Thanks for the prayers, love, and support.

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger

Mi Cama

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Misión Bolivia Santa Cruz

 Hermana Gauger with President and Sister Willard, mission president and his wife of the Bolivia Santa Cruz Mission

December 2, 2014

Dear Gauger family,

We are happy to have received your daughter safe and sound here in Santa Cruz! We enjoyed a satisfying lunch with President and Sister Willard. We are very excited to have her as a part of our mission.

Thank you,

Élder Garcia

I´m Leaving On A Jet Plane

Email from Sunday, November 30, 2014. Last email from Mexico MTC

EN LA MADRUGADA! So here´s my final email from Mexico! 

I leave for the airport at 6am tomorrow and I´d be lying if I said I felt totally prepared, in fact, I was sick as a dog this morning because I was so anxious. So please pray for me to overcome my anxiety, to have faith in taking this next step, and to be able to have the gift of tongues, the gift of understanding, and the gift of discernment in helping me communicate in Spanish during my trip and during my first few days in Bolivia. I´m also feeling pretty scared about being alone because I´m the only hermana with 6 elders I really don´t even know (not sure how I´m supposed to go to the bathroom......) but I know that the Lord called me to Santa Cruz Bolivia because there are people there waiting to hear the gospel in a way that only I can share it. And I have an abiding testimony of God´s plan for me and in my Savior Jesus Christ who perfectly understands me and my anxiety. I am scared but we´re here on earth to walk by faith and faith is the only way I´ll be able to walk away from my district tomorrow morning and onto that plane. I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve a mission and I already feel it changing my life in an incredible way. 

Happy Birthday to the best Dad I´ve ever had! I´ll have to pick you up a sweet tie in Bolivia and bring it home to make up for missing out on your big day. I´m so entirely grateful for your example of faith and I constantly think about you when we talk about how much the gospel will change the lives of our investigators and I think about how different my life would be if you had not experienced a mighty change of heart when you were 17 and then decided to serve a mission, be married in the temple to such a fab lady, and stay on the path of continuous conversion. Truly, I have been born of goodly parents. :)

My thought this week was how awesome it is that we have 88,000+ missionaries serving but how much cooler would it be if we had 15 MILLION missionaries?? Well, that´s totally possible if each member recognizes their role as a missionary. So this week, I invite you to talk to your local missionaries and offer to help them in some way. Do something more than feed them dinner and listen to their spiritual message. Join them in a lesson, befriend their investigators, or sincerely think about someone in your life who would benefit from the gospel (everyone will benefit from the gospel so that should be simple!). Help em out and do your part to preach the gospel.

I love you all and I am overjoyed to be here and to finally head out and do what I´ve been called to do. Thank you for the love, support, and prayers. I definitely need and appreciate each of them.

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger :)

 My second family. Not sure HOW I am going to leave these people. 

 The BEST volleyball team the CCM has EVER seen

This girl...Hermana Rhees

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Who Can Say If I´ve Been Changed For The Better, But Because I Knew [My District] I Have Been Changed For Good

Email from Tuesday, November 25, 2014, Mexico MTC

 Mi familia del ccm

Hola Familia y Amigos!

Not sure how I´m even sitting here writing this message to you all because it definitely feels like I was just here yesterday writing you last week´s adventures but here I am! TIME FLIES!

I got my flight itinerary today and I will be IN BOLIVIA in less than a week. Not gonna lie, that thought makes me feel like I wanna barf but I know it´ll all work out. Plus I get to stop in Panama on the way which is pretty dang cool according to me. 

This week was pretty incredible and involved quite a few"jen-ventures" aka things that would only happen to me including...
-sobbing during weekly planning when I realized this was the last week I would plan at the CCM
-cheering  up Hermana Cheadle with my Sound of Music impressions (yes, Steph, the skirt slip was utilized for effect)
-taking way too many selfies with the latinos before they left 
-making thanksgiving costumes for our thanksgiving celebration (pics to come)
-crying during every district meeting because I SERIOUSLY LOVE THESE PEOPLE SO MUCH
-spending an entire night stuck in a southern accent
-being the only one who spoke only spanish for a whole morning and NOT having to do push-ups
-planning an "hermanas only" road trip to Nauvoo for Hna Cheadle´s wedding 
-snort-laughing at Elder Christiansen in our practice lesson on la ley de castidad when he defined the law of chasity as no sexual relations AFTER marriage (#newlanguageprobs also not sure if I told you guys about when I told all the elders I was pregnant instead of embarrassed. Just so you know, embarrassed in Spanish is NOT a cognate...oops.)
-when Elders Nilsen and Winward killed roughly 50 mosquitos in our classroom the other night and they didn´t even kill all of them
-finding a giant half-dead cockroach in the room we have church in (picture to come)
-getting to write a story in Spanish about my district being animals on Noah´s ark and how Taylor Swift helped us build pillow rafts to get to the ark

Seriously, every day is filled with a million wonderful moments and I could spend hours going into detail but then I wouldn´t have any stories to tell when I get back and I know how much Mom is looking forward to hearing ALL OF MY STORIES ALL THE TIME! ;) 

As much as all the silly moments make the work enjoyable, the work itself is what is really amazing.
This week we had a lesson with our golden investigator, Juanis (spoiler alert, it´s our teacher posing as a real investigator she taught on her mission) and it was pretty much just us responding to some questions she had and then teaching her about fasting. It was a great lesson and everything seemed to flow really well but the coolest thing was that when our teacher gave us feedback on it, she said that it was one of the best lessons she´s ever experienced and totally different than any of our lessons before because we followed the spirit from the moment we sat down and throughout the whole lesson. It wasn´t until she said that that I realized she was right. It had all felt so natural and it was totally because we had studied and prepared but when we got there, we just let the spirit give us the words which is about 100 million times more effective than anything I could say on my own. 
During a video devo of Elder Holland, he talked about why we should be so grateful to be PMG missionaries and I´ve been thinking about it ever since. I AM SO BLESSED. I don´t have to memorize and stick to a strict uniform lesson for everyone, I get to know and love people and then study and pray for them and teach them the gospel in the exact way that they need it. I get to study each day to renew my own testimony and witness of these principles and then I get to help people find out for themselves. It´s such an incredible blessing. Heck yes, it is way more work than the old ways but it is more rewarding because it requires me to be more fully converted so that those I teach can be more converted. If you haven´t opened up a PMG book in a while, I invite you to do so and just read and realize how inspired that book is because I love it so much!

The CCM has been hard but I know for a fact that the hardest thing will be leaving. It will be much harder than leaving home, as harsh as that sounds, but it´s true. The thing about this place is that you get to know people backwards. I knew them on the inside first before I even could guess what their first name was.I saw them as Christ sees them before I could even tell you what color eyes they have. I knew them as representatives of my savior before I could guess what sort of activities they did in high school. I honestly still have no idea what they were like before they came here but I know them now and my heart is filled to the brim with love for them. 

I was looking down at my name tag the other day and the thought came to me that there are two names on there, mine and Jesus Christ´s. But it´s not really even my name. It doesn´t say Jennifer Ann Gauger, it simply says Hermana Gauger, which is really more of a representation of my family name than my own personal name. It just made me think about how much my family has done for me to get me to this point and how much time and effort was spent by them in teaching, loving, and supporting me. And even though I am a representative of Jesus Christ, I am also representing as the first sister missionary in the history of the Gauger family and I have to make that count every single day. I didn´t get here alone and I´m not alone in pleading to the Lord each night for my safety and abilities because I have my family asking each night for the same thing and so many other people who feel like family. This Thanksgiving, I´m grateful for each one of you.

I love you! ¡Feliz día de acción de graciás! Please go eat some turkey for me! I´ll be eating rice and beans. :)

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger
 Hermana Rhees is legit obsessed with latinos and it´s pretty adorable. She loves them as much as I love Taylor Swift
 Beautiful artwork by Hna Rhees
Don´t worry, there´s definitely a Libro de Mormon between the elders and sisters

We put the fun in dysFUNctional family.

 #wrinklydressprobs solved by #sweetcompanionperks

Please note that we are wearing the EXACT SAME skirt, and they´re both a size medium but it looks completely different.

 Thanksgiving is a legit fiesta in 7B

 We were the indians because we´re the tannest ones

 photo not for the faint of heart

 Zone 7, pretty much Heaven

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Everybody Makes Mistakes, Everybody Has Those Days, Every Missionary Knows What-What I´m Talking Bout

Email from Tuesday, November 18, 2014, Mexico MTC


This week, I enjoyed a sweet slice of humble pie with every meal and it was tough stuff to swallow. But it was absolutely necessary and I needed every bite. I love failing because it motivates me to succeed! I had an awesome interview with a member of my branch presidency on Sunday and I just am so grateful for inspired priesthood leaders, he gave me the greatest advice and totally  helped me realize the difference between ¨"not being good enough" and "setting unrealistic goals" and turns out, I´ve got a problem with misunderstanding that difference. I want to be achieve all of those goals and improve but then when I fail, I feel like I´m not good enough to be here. But THAT IS NOT TRUE! The Lord doesn´t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. I´ve improved so much since I´ve been here and I just lose sight of that sometimes. But it´s times like this week that make me so grateful for the Atonement that allows me to truly change my human nature and BECOME a better Jennifer Gauger. I LOVE THE ATONEMENT! IT IS EVERYTHING! If you´re reading this and are unsure of what that word means, I happily invite you to visit or and find out today how the Atoning Sacrifice of Jesus Christ can change your life. 

Anyway, this week was rough but when I look back on it now, it was an awesome week. I cannot even believe that this week marks a month since I said adios to California! In some ways, I feel like I´ve lived here for years and known my district for my whole life but then I feel like I just got here and am starting to totally freak out about leaving! I know that probably doesn´t make sense to a lot of people, but time is a very interesting concept out here. 

Spiritual Highlights 
We watched "Mountain of The Lord" and I was completely overwhelmed with gratitude for temples on the earth today and the absolute miracle it was to spend so much time in the temple before I came out here. It truly is the house of the Lord. We also had a temple challenge before one of our devotionals and I had been inside almost half of the temples that they showed. HOW COOL IS THAT?! It breaks my heart to hear people here say that they only went a few times before they came because the temple was pivotal in my mission prep and I´m so grateful for parents who sacrificed so much time this summer to spend time with me in the place that matters most. Shout out to my pops for all the special moments we shared together, I think about them all the time.

We had a devo (via video) of Elder Bednar and IT WAS LIFE-CHANGING. I could watch it every day and learn something new but instead I just have to reread my 5 pages of notes every day and be inspired. It was all about the character of Christ and how if we let this mission be an opportunity to put off our "natural tendencies" and turn outward in service and love then we will find that we have become more like Him. But the trick is that we can´t serve in order to improve, we can´t even think of ourselves at all and once we lose ourselves, we´ll find ourselves. It was an incredible thought and it helped me set a lot of goals for my mission and even since the devotional, I´ve been trying to constantly put Hna. Rhees first and think of myself less. It´s tough but worth it. 

Temporal Adventures
We play volleyball every day with our district and I spend half the time on the ground laughing because we are all terrible and hilariously so. We also harmonize during our service activities and the boys are such great singers too and I kid you not, it sounds like angels when we all sing hymns together. The spirit is always so strong, I love music! Also, I saved a bird´s life! A bird flew into our casa and couldn´t get out but was too scared to let anyone catch it so I helped it fly into the laundry room and then Hermana Rhees got the door just as I herded it outside. It was such a simple yet satisfying moment. I can´t wait to save spiritual lives in Bolivia soon. (Actually I can because I can´t even handle the thought of leaving my district here but I know I´m supposed to be in Bolivia, I just wish I could take my faves with me)

Anyway, I´m happy, alive, and loving life. Elder Schmidt said something awesome the other day and it really made me think. There´s 7 billion people in the world, 15 million members of the church, 88,000 missionaries, and less than half of those are sisters. AND I AM ONE OF THEM! This is the only chance I will ever have to truly represent Jesus Christ (See "Man´s Search For Happiness" for more info on that statement) and I just think WHAT A BLESSING. Life is beautiful and wonderful here in the palace walls and I love it.

I know that my Savior lives and loves me. I know my Father in Heaven knows me as an individual and has a plan for my life and part of that plan is to be right here, right now. I know the Book of Mormon IS the word of God and that reading it will help you temporally and spiritually and that through it, you can come to know and love Jesus Christ. I know these things are true and I´m striving each day to go from having a testimony and being converted. Conversion comes when the knowledge of these things changes the way I live and that´s happening every day here. Don´t just have a testimony, be converted unto the Lord. That´s the best advice I could possibly give. I love you all! 

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger :)
 Leaves Are Falling even though it´s 75 degrees and sunny

 My main Hermana! She reminds me to work and I remind her to laugh. It works PERFECTLY! Plus when we scrubbed walls for our service project, she did the bottom half and I did the top!

 Just girly things like mirror selfies

 Our Maestra is the BEST

 Solo Espanol! Yep, this week we got our solo espanol stickers which means when anyone talks to us, they´re supposed to test our spanish. it´s tough but amazing how far I´ve come in just a few weeks! I can totally testify with power in Spanish and I LOVE IT!

 Trying to escape the palace walls! Just kidding, I never want to leave!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Mine Is a [District] Where Every Hour Is Blessed By The Strength of Priesthood Power


Email from November 11, 2014, Mexico MTC

We went to the temple today and I AM ON TOP OF THE WORLD right now! It was INSANE to be back in that visitor´s center and to think about how much has changed since I was there just this past April. I am in love with this whole country and everyone here. I seriously love every person I see!
 Guess whose back?

This week was definitely the most difficult one so far and I had a lot of very frustrating moments, lessons, and days. But I know that this is missionary work and it´s all completely worth it. My number one most spiritual moment this week was when Elder Schmidt and Elder Christiansen gave all of the hermanas blessings because they felt prompted to. I swear the heavens opened up and the spirit of the Lord was tangible as we sobbed and listened to the words of God come straight through these young men that I´ve known for just 3 weeks. Ya know how that scripture says that angels will be round about you, well there´s no doubt in my mind that there was angels in that room that night. The priesthood power is real and I needed that blessing and reassurance more than anything. I love my district SO MUCH. I say that every week but every single day is a blessing just to know them.
 Distrito 7b

Today at the visitor´s center, we watched that "God´s Plan For Families" movie and I CRIED SO HARD. I love my family more than anything else but this time as I watched and thought about how wonderful my family is, I got so motivated to share the gospel so that everyone I meet can watch that video and feel the same way about their own families and know that they can be together forever too!

Adventure wise, I was at gym the other day when an elder came running out of the bathroom and screamed "HELP THE TOILET EXPLODED!" and a flood of water came pouring out of the bathroom. I kid you not, I fell straight to the floor and busted a gut because I was laughing so hard. Yes, for those who know me well, I did snort a few times. But seriously, the toilet was shooting water like a geyser and the companion of the elder who had run out was standing in the bathroom trying to stop it but it was like a fire hose shooting out of the wall so he ended up soaking wet and Hna Rhees and I (once I recovered from laughing so hard) ran and got help for the poor guys. I still cackle whenever I think about it. 
 Hermana Segura and I work out

Sundays here are the best days ever! We have RS, district meeting, sacrament meeting, and then 2 devotionals, followed by a movie every Sunday night! Like real movies...kind of. Testaments, How Rare a Posession, and Joseph Smith. The spirit is incredible on Sundays and I love it.

Also, in regards to the Word of Wisdom, those blessings promised in Section 89 are REAL. I always used to think of the "do nots" in the WoW but now that I´m strictly following the "dos", I realize how important it is and how incredible it is to truly receive treasures in my mind. And working out every day for an hour is such an awesome blessing. I run a mile and do abs twice a week and then the other days, our district plays volleyball and it is so fun! Apparently, I´m not as terrible as I thought haha.

Anyway, I love you all. The church is true. I´m so grateful every day to be here and learn and grow in ways I didn´t even know I needed to learn and grow. Your prayers mean the world to me and I know they help me each day to be strong and able to do this work. I wouldn´t be here without the love and support I´ve received from all of you over the years. 

Con todo mi amor,
Hermana Gauger :)

Preparing for the real thing