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 lds.org or mormon.org 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

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

There Was A Melody Locked Deep Inside of Me But Now It´s Free!!

Email from November 4, 2014:

I love you all so much! Last week we had an awesome devo from Elder Don R Clark and he chastised us a bit for sending home dumb stuff to our families so this week, I´m repenting so that you guys can benefit spiritually from my mission too. 

First, I love the spirit here. The best way I can describe it is "I can feel the powers of heaven as I stand on holy ground and the spirit whispers what I long to know" because that´s seriously how it is. The Holy Ghost is my CONSTANT COMPANION and it is INCREDIBLE! My thoughts are more than my thoughts and I am learning and growing in ways that I didn´t even know I needed to or could. In lessons, my testimony is strengthened each time I say "Yo se que este mensaje es verdadero" BECAUSE IT IS!

Second, I forgot to mention last week that there are 6 other elders here headed to my mission. Yet I´m in a district where everyone else is headed to Osorno, Chile. To anyone who reads this or sees this message, I testify to you that HEAVENLY FATHER KNOWS EACH OF US PERSONALLY AND INDIVIDUALLY. He sent me here to the Mexico CCM, with my companion, with this district because HE KNOWS ME and He knew that I would need what these people have to help me to become an effective representative of Jesus Christ. If you don´t know this for yourself, please pray and ask. He is your Father and He wants to hear you. 

CONFESSION TIME: I had my first emotional breakdown this Sunday and you´ll never believe why. I started thinking about leaving my district and the CCM and I SOBBED! Like I cried harder than I´ve cried in a while because I just can´t tell you how great these people are and how much I love them. Elder Clark said we become happy when we care about the people more than we care about ourselves and I testify that that is true. I am so happy here because I think about everyone else before me. Yeah, I take time in the morning and evening for me but every other second, I´m thinking about and praying for my companion, my district, my teachers, and my investigators (Jose and Juanis, pray for them too please!) 

Third, I have discovered a new talent. 6/8 members of my district joined the choir this Sunday and we decided to practice together last night and something beautiful and marvelous happened. Me and Hna. Segura are perfectly blended sopranos, Hna. Rhees is a strong alto, Hna. Cheadle is an incredible tenor and Elders Schmidt and Christiansen are phenomenal basses. So we spent a half hour singing together and it was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. We sang Secret Prayer in Spanish over and over and the spirit was so strong while we just smiled and sang together in PERFECT harmony! So apparently I can sing and now I can´t stop because I love it so much!

I want to also share my testimony in español.
Yo se que Jesucristo es mi Salvador y Su Expiacion puede cambiar vidas.
Yo se que Dios es nuestro amoroso Padre Celestial.
Yo se que a traves Jose Smith el evangelio fue restaurado.
Yo se que lea iglesia de Jesucristo de los santos de los ultimas dias es verdadera.


Also fun things, Elder Schmidt reminds me of Ryan Pace so Ryan, please know that I think of you every single day and miss your awesome awesome self. Also, I have been thinking a lot about Christina Aitkins so if she sees this, please contact me because I miss you. 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY FAVORITE 29-YEAR-OLD! Shanna, this is the age everyone lies and says they are so it must be a good one. Sorry I´m going to miss all of it but I think we both know that I´m exactly where I´m supposed to be. I love and miss you!! Go party it up and listen to T-Swift for me! (Actually I hope all of you are listening to T-Swift for me....) 

Can you please pray for Hermana Rhees, she´s the most hardworking and diligent hermana I know and yet, she´s struggling so much with Spanish and self-doubt. Please pray for her whenever you pray for me, it would mean so much to me.

I had a dream about my family last week and when I woke up, I´ll admit it was tough but I know why I´m here and that I´m absolutely supposed to be here so even though I miss you, you´re better off without me for these next 17 and a half months. ALSO EVERYONE LIED TO ME! The days do not feel like weeks, they go by so fast and then the weeks go by even faster and I am going to be home before I know it and I don´t know how I feel about that.

One more funny story, this one´s for Mom. I´ve been trying to wear my retainer at night but guess what happens every time...the first night, I woke up the next morning with my retainer OUT OF MY MOUTH and under my rib and so for the next 4 nights I tried to wear it, I would put it in my mouth, go to bed, and wake up with it out of my mouth! I never remember doing this though so apparently I can remove my retainer in my sleep. How weird, I know. But I´m going to keep trying because I want nice teeth. 

Anyway, I love you all! Don´t forget to look for your own missionary opportunities this week and HELP THE MISSIONARIES! 

All my love,
Hermana Gauger
My Room:

If i wasn't so tired all the time, i would never be able to sleep on that rock they call a bed

 The laundry situation:


 My favorite accessories:

We have a nutella/peanut butter bar at meals and they give us a small oar to spread it on the bread, (also we get COSTCO PIZZA ON TUESDAYS! so we call p-day pizza-day)