Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmas Bells Are Ringing

Hi loved ones,

I don't have much to say this week. Still no answers but I've got two more appointments this week and I'm stoked to chat with my ol' pal of a rheumatologist. Side note: At age 13 I got diagnosed with Raynaud's Disease and my rheummie was the gal who explained it all, cheered me on when I found swimming as a therapy, worried about me the entire time I lived in the Arctic (BYUI), and cried a little when I told her I was going off to Bolivia and now is gonna face the facts with me tomorrow as we figure out why my body is being so difficult. Then I gotta see my general surgery pal who gets to take a look at my nasty Bolivian surgery wounds that are still not healing. Sorry for the gross reality, this is just my life lately.

Since this blog has always been a place for raw reality and honest emotions, I just wanted to share this article from the December 2015 Ensign that changed my life today.


This article brought immense peace to my aching heart and renewed hope as I took a moment to realize that the best days since I've been home have been days where I've focused on the Lord and His will. The hardest days are when I let Satan get me down or when I let fear cloud my faith. I know He lives and I know He loves me.

I've officially been home for a month now and in that time, my simple candle light testimony has felt so dimmed by fear, anxiety, and worry about the unknown. And the truth is, I don't know what's ahead of me. I don't know if I'm going back to Bolivia or when I'm going back to school or what's wrong with me. There's actually a lot I don't know. But here are a few things I do know.

I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior. I know He was born with a glorious purpose to live a perfect life and be a perfect example and then suffer my full spectrum of pain and sin and experience. But not just for me, and not just for you, but for every single one of us who have lived, who are living, or who will live upon this earth. He suffered more than we could even begin to imagine because He loves us and He was resurrected because He wanted each of us to have the opportunity to overcome both spiritual and physical death. I love this Christmas season as we take time to celebrate His birth, His life, and His Atonement. He was born so I can have hope and move forward in F A I T H and say "chau" to Satan's influence.

Thanks a million for all your kind words, warm hugs, and heartfelt prayers. I love you all so much and I wish I could fix all of your struggles too. But He's the only one that can help you out. Remember Christ this Christmas.

Con mucho amor,
Jen Gauger

P.S. Check out this amazing video. :)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Some Say That Heaven is Far Away

Well, hello there, friends and family,

About 10 days ago, I was with a specialist deciding what day we'd have our next appointment for more testing and in the exact moment my mom went to check her phone calendar, a message from my sister showed up inviting us to join them in Disneyland. My mom asked the doctor if I would be able to attend and the doctor said, "You've suffered enough, sweetie. Go enjoy Disney and get your mind off of all this and then we'll see you on the 19th." 

So I did something crazy. I went to Disneyland. And it was probably the best thing I could have ever done. Sure, I probably pushed myself way more than I should have and I probably should have been in bed sleeping instead of closing out the night on Haunted Mansion but in regards to my ánimo and emotional health, nothing could have helped me more. 

Coming home has been a huge culture shock, way more than when I arrived in Bolivia and the fact that I spend most of my time at home, doing nothing and feeling useless, hasn't been so easy either. So I finally got out of the house and let the Happiest Place on Earth work its magic on me. It gave me hope and strength and mostly helped me feel a little more normal. In a time when everything is so unsure, it was nice to go to a place that feels so familiar and homey. 

This week, I'll be having my (hopefully) final procedure to figure out what the heck is going on with this body of mine. Not super excited about it but I am super excited for answers and information so I can decide what to do next. All that's been confirmed is that there's definitely evidence of an autoimmune disease, but we can't tell which one until after my procedure this Thursday. So I guess Disneyland was my way of escaping reality and pretending that this week's results won't completely alter my life forever and ever. 

I'm doing well overall. Feeling about 90% healthy but 100% anxious. I can't express enough gratitude to my incredible family who is being so patient and loving with me. They've done so much for me and continue to help me daily as I adjust to life back home and the English language and the fact that everyone is married/pregnant. 

But through it all, I find strength in the same simple things that gave me strength every day in Bolivia. The restored gospel of Jesus Christ is on the earth today. God hears and answers prayers. Jesus Christ lived on this earth, suffered and died for our sins and weaknesses, and was resurrected to save each one of us. We are able to receive exaltation if we follow His example and come unto Him. I know these things are true because the Spirit has taught and testified to me and I know these things of myself. I know that He has a perfect plan for us and He loves us more than we can imagine. Pray to Him, learn of Him, do something more to be like Him. I know that He is the source of true and lasting joy. 

With much love,
Jen Gauger 

P.S. Here's a photo update for y'all. :)

 Thanks, Dad, for letting me go on exchanges with your companion. :)
 The only thing cooler than a fanny pack is a fanny pack from Tarija.
 Barium Smoothies. Not as delicious as you think.
 Changed out the title "Hermana" for "Auntie" and it's the only thing keeping me sane.
 Shout out to my dad for buying overpriced strawberries to satisfy the cravings of someone who hasn't eaten them in far too long.
When in America, do as the Americans.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Who, Who Can Understand? He, Only One.

Hey there friends,

I've gotten accustomed to this whole writing thing and I promised 18 months of adventures so if we're all up for it, I'd like to keep posting here and continue using this as an outlet for my thoughts and experiences. This week has been an interesting one, but it's caused me to think and pray a lot.

A favorite scripture of mine is found in Mosiah 3:19, where it talks about becoming a saint through the atonement of Christ and refers to becoming like a child; "submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father." I've been ponderizing that scripture for a lot longer than the word "ponderize" has been around and it's been written on my heart time and time again.

I always think about the example of young children as I strive to understand this passage and the sort of child-like humility and submissiveness that our Father desires so that we can become like Him.

For example, I think of a young mom starting the day off with a long to-do list and a prayer in her heart that she will be able to accomplish her list and have the aid of her young child to get it all done without too many meltdowns. I imagine the child's meekness as she gets ready while Mom explains the plan for the day.  I think about how the child submissively allows her car seat to be fastened because she knows her mom loves her and wants her to be safe. I think of how a loving mom has prepared snacks and toys to help her child when the idea of patience runs thin. I think about the two walking through the mall with the mom's head spinning with all the things to do and errands to run while the young child secretly wishes that her own agenda will be filled and she'll be headed home with a new toy or special treat for being good. And then I imagine the moment in the late afternoon when the tiredness hits and suddenly the child cares a lot more about what she wants than what Mom had planned. She whines. She cries. She wants to go home. I imagine that a loving mom, who sees and understands way more than her suffering child, picks her up and carries her when it gets tough and gets her safely home.

Is the journey of life much different? Does our Father not have a perfect agenda or plan for our life on earth? Should we not hop in the good ship zion and allow our loving Father to fulfill His plan? Should we not buckle our seatbelts by keeping the commandments which He has given out of love? Does He not offer spiritual snacks and nourishment when patience runs thin? Do we sometimes go through the motions hoping we will get a special treat out of it? Do we not have moments in this journey of life when we get tired, whine, cry, and want to go home? Is our Father in Heaven any less willing to lift us up and carry us in those moments of difficulty?

I testify that He loves us even more than we can imagine. I know He's willing to pick us up and I know it because He's done it for me. He's done it for me every day this week. He's heard my whining and complaining and He's picked me up and carried me. He's answered my prayers. He knows that it's tough to stay patient and positive when I'm tired and the days are long. He's been with me when the nights were long and I felt overcome by sorrow. He has a perfect plan and He has things He needs me to do today. All I want is to grab His hand and let Him run His errands with me and through me and lose my own agenda and trust that He knows what we need to get done on this trip of life and He's got a perfect plan. He has given me help through so many great friends and has allowed my family members to act as literal angels for me in a time when I felt so overwhelmed.

The best lesson I learned this week is that my destination hasn't changed but my journey, very obviously, has taken a different course. I'm currently feeling too healthy to stay inside and do nothing but I recognize that I'm also too sick to be out in Bolivia wasting the Lord's precious time. After a number of doctor's appointments, I feel even further away from the answers I was hoping to get in regards to my health and the future ahead of me. Every moment that I've thought to myself, "I should be in Bolivia right now, what am I doing here?" has been remedied by the Spirit's whisper of a scripture in Doctrine and Covenants which reads

"Cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things. Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?"

I know that He guided this transfer just as much as He guided the past year of my mission and the past 20 years of my life on earth. I don't know what the next transfer holds, but I know that the Lord needs Jen Gauger here at this time. Thank you for your prayers, love, and support. I have been overwhelmed with love and hugs and I am grateful for every single one of you who have been there on this journey with me. I know I'm not the only one suffering and I invite each of you to allow your Father or even your loving brother and savior, Jesus Christ to carry you when things get tough. I know they love you and want what's best for you.

Con mucho amor,
Jen Gauger

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Oh Savior, if thou wilt be my guide

Hey there loved ones,

What a crazy week has gone by. These last 7 days have probably been the toughest and roughest of the past 20 years I've been alive.

First of all, surgery...not so fun. But then again, no one ever said it would be. But they did say the anesthesia would kick in immediately and it definitely didn't. But anyway, all went well and they left me with a 1-inch long cut that was about 3/4 inches deep packed with gauze and now I have to get it changed daily.

So then since I was on bedrest and no unhallowed hand can stop the work in Barrio San Pedro, my companion went out with members and left me in the house of members every day to babysit me. It was quite the experience.

Then, on Saturday, I went for my check-up appointment and unfortunately enough, they found another cyst. (Read as Another Surgery)... And apparently, when you have 4 abscesses in a period of 5 months, they start realizing that there's got to be a bigger problem.

It was kind of my breaking point, to be honest. I smiled and nodded while the doctor explained that we'd keep an eye on things and then see what happens, but I was an emotional wreck about 2 steps outside of the hospital on a busy street in the center of Santa Cruz while my companion with all of the sweetness and care she could muster tried to console me. We went home and the tears kept flowing as the pain kept surging through a body that's been through quite a lot in such a short window of time. I prayed. I cried. Then I prayed some more. Then I cried some more. And finally, when I got tired of crying, I called Hermana Willard, my mission president's wife and we cried together as I told her the news. Then President Willard called 20 minutes later as we cried together and we received the revelation that an emergency transfer was necessary.

So I got transferred. To the Antelope 4th Ward in Antelope, California. They booked my flight before I could even finish packing all my souvenirs. I'm home now with a week full of hospital visits with specialists and even though it's not what I wanted, I feel confident that it's part of the Lord's plan for me.

So how long will I be home? When do I go back? What do I have? What's causing all the cysts? What am I doing now? When can you all come and see me? Am I contagious? I'm sure even more questions will come but most of the answers haven't yet been revealed, even to me. (Except the fact that I'm not contagious).

So far, I know that this is a lot more serious than I ever thought. I know we're looking at the possibility of some chronic conditions that could run in the family. I know that what I need (to be healthy) comes before what I want (to be in Bolivia). I know that I came home feeling 100% content with the 368 days that Heavenly Father blessed me with to love Bolivia and Bolivians and come to truly know that my Redeemer lives and loves me. In regards to the date in which I'll be headed back? I really don't know. I feel that the scripture in Matthew 26:41 fits perfectly in saying "the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

Coming down in a wheelchair is obviously the best way to arrive home to your concerned family and assure them that all is well.
Tears shed at the fact that someone kidnapped my baby nephews and replaced them with giant toddlers that walk.

So right now, I'm trusting my all to His tender care and knowing He loves me, I'll do His will with a heart sincere, I'll go where He wants me to go, I'll say what He wants me to say, and I'll be what He wants me to be.

I can't express enough gratitude for all of your love, prayers, and support. Thank you all for your examples and emails and words of encouragement. Please have patience with me as I adjust in this time and just keep on praying for me. I love you all and I feel like we've been on this journey together and I'll continue to update according to what I feel necessary and important and letting you all know what's going on with your favorite [returned] sister missionary from Bolivia.

Con mucho amor,
Jen Gauger :)

Monday, October 19, 2015

But He Now Will Bear No More

Email from Monday, October 19, 2015

Hi Friends (my family has chosen a cruise over me so they're probably not even reading this...hahaha just kidding...:))

This week was...painful. Hahah believe it or not, the Lord is continuing to purify me through health trials and this week included a new and very painful one. My journal contains all the embarrassing details for my posterity to barf about someday but it sufficeth me to say that I'm finally feeling better and that there is no limit to the crazy things that can happen to me out here. But all is well, that new problem is like 50% solved so we're gonna go forward with the cyst removal surgery on Thursday. Hahah, I'm not even sure anyone back home believes the stories I tell anymore because other missionaries are constantly telling me "your mission stories aren't even real, Hermana Gauger...like, how does something ALWAYS happen to you?" La verdad es que...yo no sé pero...así es. :)

Anyway, that whole health thing kinda got to me and put me in an emotional funk this week. I've never really thought "why me?" during any of my trials in the mission but I think this week I was thinking "why me again?" Like I understand that trial is necessary to become the person I want to be but then when more than one trial comes at a time, it's like "wait, no one else needs to grow? it's my turn again?" I've tried to get better about making sure that my prayers are times to talk to the Lord and I can say that we're had some good long talks this week. I've found a lot of comfort in a quote that Hermana Wilson shared in a letter she wrote me on one of my rough days. I don't have it with me right now but it talks about how quick we are to want the attributes of the Savior without paying any of the price he paid to become the way He is. It made me think about how many times I've prayed so so hard for help to become better and reach my divine potential and then when help comes, if not in the way I thought, it's even more humbling. 

Today, more than anything else, I feel an intense gratitude for a loving Father in Heaven who sees me as I truly am and knows my deepest desires and loves me enough to help me acheive all of my righteous goals and reach the full measure of my divine nature. I'm grateful for His divine plan which includes family members, friends, companions, investigators, church leaders at home and in Bolivia that are shaping me and changing me. I'm grateful for repentance and the promise of change. I'm grateful that because He lived, suffered, and died, we can change.

When I went to the clinic this week, a few days later than I probably should have, the doctor asked why I didn't come in sooner, and then said something so profound that I had heard Hermana Willard explain in our zone conference just the day before while talking about repentance. 

"You don't have to suffer!"

That is the glorious message of the restored gospel! We don't have to suffer the pain of sin, transgression, or fault. Even better than the best clinic in Santa Cruz, is the 24/7 constant care of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He wants to heal us. He wants to make us whole. He doesn't want us to suffer or cry out in pain any longer. He wants to free us from the bonds of sin and remove all the painful scars. 

And that's why I'm here. And it's why the Hermana Gauger that comes down the escalator in the Sacramento Airport in 6 months will not be the same one who went up it a year ago. 

I hope you all know and feel the same cleansing and enabling power of Christ's Atonement this week, whether it be for the very first time or a familiar feeling. I pray for you all and I love you so much.

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger :)

this is my face right after we didn't get it on camera :(

 mi mejor amiga de perú

hermanas in the zone with our tour guide!

Monday, October 12, 2015

I love to read the holy scriptures

Email from Monday, October 12, 2015

Hey there family!

Last week when I wrote you, there were 6 missionaries in Barrio San Pedro. (2 elders, 2 sets of hermanas) and so much has happened since last week. First they took out the other hermanas and sent them to open an area that hasn't had hermanas in 15 years! Then they split their area in half but instead of add the new divided area to our area...we switched areas completely with the elders. So now we're opening the old area of the elders and they're opening our old area and everyone's lost and confused. But it's okay because it's actually helpful when this happens, because you're forced to find new people and know your area and I like it. But it's definitely not the easiest thing. Our new area is like wealthy...it's weird...I'm working between the 2nd and 3rd anillos and there's like no one in the streets....But oh well, the work rolls on. 

Today, we're having an activity with the hermanas in the zone, just the 6 of us, and it'll be the first activity that I actually planned...we're headed to this awesome zoo/park place and I'm super excited. I'll definitely send pics next week. This week has been really COLD. I don't even know what's up with the weather in Bolivia anymore, it's too unpredictable. 

We have a few progressing people right now, but I'm sure after this week, we'll have a lot more. But right now we have Franco who is this guy from Argentina who moved here with his brother. Yesterday, we had lunch with members and they were both there and they're so awesome, I just want them to be missionaries already. The brother Alex is 20 but he lives just outside of our limits so we're just teaching Franco who's 21. They're both so funny, Argentinians are the best. He really wants to get baptized on his birthday so we're working towards the 24th of October for him. 

Things are going well, this week, I'll be ponderizing Jacob 6:5 and this whole ponderizing thing is chaaanging my life! I'm learning so much and I love it.

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger :)

 p-day outings to the park! (taken this morning hahah)

 my pensionista and her son 

her son giving me a blessing! :) 

Monday, October 5, 2015

We Doubt Not the Lord, Nor His Goodness

Email from Monday, October 5, 2015

Wow wow wow! What a weekend, am I right or am I right? Family, you are getting this email from a changed woman! General Conference was INCREDIBLE. I secretly want to sneak over to Sister Davis´s seminary class this week and just stay absorbed in this conference cloud of pure joy. But I'm also extremely happy that I'll be going out and applying all I learned and felt in the best country in South America. :)

This week was really awesome. I went on my first exchange as hermana capacitadora and it was such a great time. I'll be honest, I never really wanted this responsibility and I was pretty overwhelmed when it came my way but like Elder Stevenson shared, I have to focus on what I CAN do. And I can be a really good listener and I can share experiences with the other hermanas to help them realize that everything is awesome when you're in the mission of miracles even if there are trials. In fact, I'm convinced that trials in the mission are the best things that could happen because God wants you to be even better.

Then we had general conference and it was amazing! My favorite talk was all of them. Hahaha no but seriously..... I went through all my notes and highlighted important things and made goals and I am just so happy and excited about life and the restored gospel. I loved the talk about "ponderizing" and even though it sounded much like those Proactiv commercials of my younger years and I feel kind of silly calling myself a "ponderizer" or here in Bolivia "una meditizadora", I'm totally trying to become one. I'm starting this week with Helaman 3:35 and meditizando in Spanish and English. My secret desire is to be like Elder Durrant and his wife Julie and have ponderizing be a habit in my marriage someday. Not gonna lie, conference always makes me excited to get married and have a family. It's so obvious how important the family is and I just love God's plan. But until that day in the distant future, I'll be focused on helping families here in Bolivia. :) 

Anyway, I absolutely LOVED President Nelson's talk about how the church needs powerful women who teach the gospel fearlessly. I've never been so proud to be a sister missionary! Elder Holland's talk just made me want to hug my mom forever and Elder Foster's talk made me want to read over all the inspiring emails my dad has sent me throughout my mission reminding me that "when that challenge comes, come to me, I'll help you through it, I've been there". Really I just feel a renewed love for my Heavenly Father, my Savior Jesus Christ, my SPECTACULAR family, and the restored and essential gospel of Jesus Christ.

There's no happier missionary in all the world than this one sitting here in Santa Cruz, Bolivia with a humble heart just trying to become more like her redeemer Jesus Christ. I invite all of you, (especially the OG's) to send me your fave talk from conference and share with me why it touched your heart and how you will be different because of it. That would only add to the permanant smile on my face and in my heart. :)

I love you all. Don't forget what you have felt. Go and do! Have a week full of miracles.

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger :)
 Hermana Hall and I. She's easily one of my best mission friends. We've been pals from the start and right now, we're living together. She has one transfer more than me and I just love her to death. We actually chatted on Facebook before the mission and now here we are watching general conference in English together. She's the best!

 VILMA! My fave girl ever.

 Hermana Canales and I.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Do Your Duty With A Heart Full of Song

Email from Monday, September 28, 2015

Hey there Gauger family!

What a week it has been here in Bolivia, the land of missionary adventures. 

When I left home recently (because I'm still a new missionary ya know), I knew the mission would prepare me for a lot of things in life but never did I think that I would learn so much about how to clean a house. Yep, I think the Lord really just sends me to new areas to clean houses. It happened again, folks. I got to my new house last week and noticed the kitchen sink was clogged and instead of calling anyone, they just kept washing dishes and letting the nasty barf water overflow  on the other side and it SMELLED SOOOO BAD. But Hermana Gauger isn't one to "let it go" right? So on Saturday morning, after our comp study, I told my companion that we couldn't let this go on any longer. So what did I do? I got down, disconnected the whole kitchen sink tubing and we took out enough hair to make a nice voluminous wig (maybe 2) and we scrubbed it clean til it shined like the top of the Chrysler building (Steph understands me :)) And then my comp said "well now we'll have to call someone to put it all back together because we don't know how" and I responded "well hermana, we also didn't know how to take it apart but we did that, so why don't we give it a shot?" So I got down, reconnected, and cleaned all the dead and alive spiders and now we have a beautiful kitchen sink that smells like "Dulce Manzana" and I've got some experience in kitchen plumbing. Oh how the mission has changed me. 

Seriously though, it's been a great learning week. Hermana Canales is easily the most serious companion I've ever had. So she's helping me develop diligence and I'm helping her develop the attribute of humor. :) It's really awesome. I've never known anyone so sincere in all my life. When she compliments me, it's so beautiful. I love her so much already. 

Our ward needs a lot of help. Pretty much half of the RS is less active...we got a lot of work to do. But we have a really awesome pool of investigators right now especially Vilma. Please pray really really hard for her. She's one of the strongest people I've ever met and I would do anything for her. She's 17 years old and she's been through more than anyone should ever have to go through ever. Because of some tough life experiences, she is really shy and scared, but we showed her a mormon message this week and she was so touched. She didn't want us to leave, she wanted to keep watching the "beautiful stories". I wish you all could get to know her. Her little baby's name is Jennifer so obviously, I will tell my posterity that she named her baby after me. I'll write more about her next week so your prayers for her will be even more powerful. 

I just love love love this work with all my heart. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I know this church is true. I love my Savior Jesus Christ and I am grateful everyday for His atoning sacrifice. I invite all of you this week to listen to general conference and hear the living prophet's voice. I love this gospel and I testify that it is the key to true and lasting happiness. I love you all more than you can imagine!

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger :)


Okay I guess my face shows I haven´t changed thaaat much hahahaha

Monday, September 21, 2015

One Step Enough For Me

Note from Hermana Gauger's family:

Jen has been working hard and giving her all, despite some recent health concerns. We thank you all for your thoughts and prayers throughout her amazing journey as a sister missionary. Here is a little back story to let you know what she is talking about in this week's email. 

About two years ago, Jen found a mole on her head and it was a little bothersome so she went to the dermatologist. The dermatologist said she could have it removed if she wanted, but nothing ever came about and she just lived with it. While being in Bolivia, the mole doubled in size and she had to have it removed a couple weeks ago. There was a possibility it could have been melanoma. In her email home telling her family about this procedure and possible consequences, this is what she wrote, 

"I'm doing well, a little anxious, but confident in the Lord's plan, the doctor's assurance, and hopeful that the Lord called me to serve for 18 months and He will prepare the way for me to finish strong." 

Email from Monday, September 21, 2015

Wow Family, it's been ages since I last talked to you all. 

I guess time doesn't fly by when you're in the refiner's fire...hahaha. This week was....rough. I'll give you a quick rundown.

Monday-day of miracles! We found the most wonderful family and they seriously are so perfect. The son's already planning how to raise money for his mission. He's 11, it's adorable. 

Wednesday-I was supposed to get my results back (if the mole was melanoma) but didn't so I was super sick with anxiety all daaay. It was rough.

Thursday-I get my results, read them wrong, think I have skin cancer and start bawling my eyes out. President Willard even came over and we talked about how I'd probably go home for a week and get the surgery and come back and we were seriously like making my plans to come home and I was an emotional wreck, I slept about 3 hours that night. Hermana Wilson cheered me up by saying I could now run a half marathon as a cancer survivor and we made all the plans for how I was going to be a worldwide inspiration.

Friday-Dr Foianini explains that I don't have skin cancer and everything is fine. I cry some more. We go out and have a great day.

Saturday-I wake up with an awful pain in my back. A pain I've had before...recently....in May....in the hospital....We call Dr Foianini, go in, he checks me, my cyst is back! He drains it again. It turns out it's a tissue cyst and it will keep coming back unless we remove the damaged tissue. So.....in about 4 weeks, I'll be heading back into the operating room..... :( Then we couldn't go out because I was stuck resting the cut. 

Sunday-The other hermanas remind us that it's transfer day and we're like...oh yeah huh. Well there's no way we'll be transferred.... WRONG. I got transferred to San Pedro as a Sister Training Leader with Hermana Canales from Peru. Hermana Wilson, my precious little gringa, is staying in our old area and is ALSO a Sister Training Leader now. So she only got 6 weeks of training, that poor thing. But she's so awesome, I'm not worried about her. 

Anyway, it's been quite a week. I got to my new area today with my new companion and she seems awesome. She's got about 7 months in the mission and it's making me feel so ooooold. But I only have 11 months...so that's like..new still...right?? Okay I'm old. 

But anyway, apart from all the crying and trips to the clinic, I'm doing well. In our time in the house, Hermana Wilson and I started reading Jesus the Christ together (because we already had finished 12 weeks haha) And we had like a 5 hour long comp study, studying Jesus the Christ and the scriptures and it was amazing. She has taught me so much. Anyway, all is well here in Zona Piraí...yep, I'm in the same zone where I started my mission! :) I love you all, thanks for all your prayers this week, they were much needed and much appreciated.
Have an awesome week, wherever you all are and don't get any cysts! :)

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger :)

No tengo cancer, So we celebrated with a brownie sundae... :) 

Monday, September 14, 2015

There Is No End To Love

Email from Monday, September 14, 2015

Dear blog-stalkers and beloved friends,

This week was truly miraculous and I've yet to find the words to describe it perfectly in my journal but more than anything, I want to let you know that God's love is perfect and endless. He knows me perfectly. He hears my prayers. He knows how to help me and make me better, stronger, and more like Him. He lets me work in His work and He qualifies me daily. If the love and grace I am describing sounds foreign or unfamiliar, I invite you to pray today to feel it and he will grant it to you. Have an incredible week! I love you all!

Con mucho amor,

Hermana Gauger :)

 Yummy Oreo Cheesecake

 Keepin' it clean

Monday, September 7, 2015

Thru cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me!

Email from Monday, September 7, 2015

Dear family and friends,

I'm hoping the boatload of pictures will make up for the short email this week. Enjoy seeing how we fought a coconut only to later find out that coconut water tastes like vomit. Enjoy our watermelon bowls on our Monday trip to get some American food. Also enjoy the beautiful sight of my companion studying while resting her spider bitten foot on my pillow. We were stuck inside all week due to the fact that her ankle swelled up like an elephant and she wasn't allowed to walk. It was rough but all is well. Please keep me in your prayers this week and I'm just hoping for a week of miracles! :)

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger :)

Monday, August 31, 2015

Oh How Praying Rests the Weary

Email from Monday, August 31, 2015

Well hey there family,

This week was...AWESOME. :) Remember the story in Jacob 5 when the Lord of the vineyard is planting trees and knows way better than his servants how to have fruit? Well that totally happened this week. 

Jacob 5:23
"And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard said unto his servant: Look hither; behold I have planted another branch of the tree also; and thou knowest that this spot of ground was poorer than the first. But, behold the tree. I have nourished it this long time, and it hath brought forth much fruit; therefore, gather it, and lay it up against the season, that I may  preserve it unto mine own self."

The tree this week was the baptism we had on Saturday of the most prepared soul I've ever met. Alvaro is this guy that the elders met 2 days before we came to the area and he's so awesome. We had a lot of struggles in visiting him because we could never find members to go visit him but somehow the Lord made it all work and he got baptized and confirmed this weekend. It was probably the most punctual baptism that ever happened in Bolivia, we said 6 and it started at 6:15. It was awesome. 

This week, after a joint-emotional breakdown on Monday, Hermana Wilson and I put our shoulders to the wheel and just got to work. And it was insane to see the Lord's hand in it all. We also had a multi-zone conference and interviews with President this week. During the conference, President asked Hermana Wilson and I to bear our testimonies but I had to share mine in Spanish and she shared it in English. It was really powerful. Then in my interview, I don't know how he does it, but President always just listens and lets the spirit solve my problems. It's the best. He told me that he thinks my assignment is harder than his so it's normal to have hard days. But he helped me a lot to see the little miracles. He's the best mission president I've ever had. 

Next week, Elder Juan Uceda from the 1st Quorum of the Seventy is coming to tour the mission and we're all over here like the Whos at Christmas time. Every morning we're like "another minute closer to Elder Uceda's visit!" I'm so excited to hear what he's gonna share with us and President wants us to be prepared to receive a message for the apostles.September 9th is going to be awesome. :)

Anyway, all is well here, even with the spider invasion we've had in the house lately. Wishing you all the best, I LOVE YOU!

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger :)

Monday, August 24, 2015

When the Road is Rough Ahead and You're Miles and Miles From Your Nice Warm Bed

Email from Monday, August 24, 2015

Hey there best family ever,

Special shout out to Steph for sending me a boatload of pics of the munchkins today and making me the happiest aunt/sister/missionary on the earth today! 

This week was probably the worst week of my mission, number wise, as in, I literally cried on the phone last night reporting my numbers because they were so low and our district leader didn't even have any suggestions for us. He just said "I'll..uh...well...I'll be praying for you guys.." I was humbled a lot. The saddest part is that we worked so hard this week. We had set appointments almost ever half hour every single day and we confirmed them all in the morning and then we'd go and they just wouldn´t be there... It was pretty discouraging and the pain in our feet and legs is a testament that we worked and walked and talked to everyone and then the Lord just had other miracles in store for us. 

My companion is seriously incredible. She's just used to keeping a lot of stuff inside so that's been a bit of an issue this week in trying to gain that unity that we need but she's improved so much already. I just keep sharing with her and loving her and we're already awesome friends. She lived in Ecuador for 3 months at an orphanage and then for the Make-A-Wish foundation and she's just full of love for these people. We're already planning how we're going to travel the world together and just change the world one country at a time. We're focusing on Bolivia right now though. :)

Speaking of #justBoliviathings, this week we didn't have light in our apartment for 4 days and we did all our planning by candlelight. It was all thanks to some faulty connection that the owner did to give the elders hot water when they lived here but turns out it's like suuuper dangerous and the member family that lives next door came over and the husband fixed it all up for us so we have light but no hot water. But it's all good. 

Also, yesterday, we were walking and these teenage boys comes up and asks "excuse me, do you speak Russian?" and I literally laughed and was like "no, do you?" and he seriously does. He lives in a Russian Orthodox colony outside of town, sorta like Amish, I imagine and he told us all about it and he wants to learn about the gospel. IT was seriously my favorite contact since the time I found a French family and I got to talk to them in English and invite them to find the missionaries in France. So many cool people here in Bolivia. :)

Anyway, I love you all so much! Have a great week!

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger

 Teaching FAMILIES 
(zoom in to find the cutest family ever and Hermana Wilson's family too :))

 My cute little companion who I love so much.

 Chocolate Pancakes

Candlelight Planning

Monday, August 17, 2015

There is sunshine in my soul today

Email from Monday, August 17, 2015

Hey there!

Well it's official, Heavenly Father only sends me to the very best wards and He sends me the very best companions. I'm in Barrio Quaracal and it is the best! It turns out that this was the area of the zone leaders but they took them out and now there's only hermanas in this ward. (which is why it's full of miracles) We had to move into the house of the zone leaders and I am now petitioning for a new mission rule that hermanas shouldn't ever be forced to clean the houses of elders because this was the second time I had to do it and it was just as bad. Like...we should have had hazmat suits...I'll probably live my whole life wondering why boys are so gross..we have 3 bathrooms but there's one we can't even use even after we spent 14 HOURS cleaning the house. So we'll have to tackle that later today....please pray for me. 

Anyway, the news you've all been waiting for...who is the incredible missionary by my side 24/7 for the next 6 weeks? It'ssss....HERMANA WILSON! Yep, I've reached Training Level:Extreme...I'm training a gringa! She's from Highland, Utah and she's pretty much the greatest missionary ever. She has an insane memory with the area and she already knows our area well enough that while I'm fumbling with our map, she's running off to the appointment. She's so excited to work every day. Like during our district meeting, we were discussing our district goals and the district leader was like "what do you think will help us reach our goals, Hermana Wilson?" and since she's still super nervous about her Spanish, she turned to me and was like "Uhm...how do I say...give it all?" and she's seriously so ready to give it her all and dedicate her heart and soul to this work and these people. I love her so much already.

Our area is awesome and the elders left us a few families that we're working with and we should have quite a few weddings coming up in the near future. Not counting Breanna and Austin's which I cannot even believe still but Congrats to the two of them and I'll bring ya home a nice wedding gift from Bolivia even though you're planning your wedding purposely so I won't be there and no one will see my crazy dance moves. I'm not bitter though and you can still come to my wedding if I ever decide to come home and fulfill my part in God's plan to have a family. Haha seriously though, felicidades!

Anyway, things are awesome. Now that my house is clean, it's actually the nicest house in the mission. We have an elevator! And believe it or not..AIR CONDITIONING! I know...it's unbelievable. We can only use it an hour a day though hahaha. But things are fabulous. Wishing you all the best back home and especially a veeeerrryyy happy birthday to my favorite nephew with a birthday this week...Stinky Pete, live it up for your aunt this week and tell your mom to write me! Sending lots of love to Annabelle, Lincoln and Peter this week because they're the best niece and nephews I've ever had. :)

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger
 Here is a fun pic from what the elders left behind. 
Hermana Wilson has all our pics together and forgot her camera cord so next week I will have pics.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Más Allá, más allá, nos veremos aún más allá

Email from Monday, August 10, 2015

Dear Family,

What a week! Well, more like what a day! Last night we got the call for transfers aaaand... God's sending me back to Santa Cruz. Yep. Back to the heat and the humidity and the constant need for bug spray to avoid chikenguyna... Buuut I'm not gonna complain, I just know there's awesome people waiting for me there who I will grow to love until my heart hurts. 

Aaaaand I'll be training again! I'm super stoked for that and I'll get my new comp on Wednesday. The happy news is that Hermana Monar is also going to be training a new missionary! Like, what could make a trainer happier than to have her companion right next to her in the trainer's meeting? She's super nervous but she's going to be awesome. I just told her "teach all the good you learned from me and then teach the opposite of all the bad and you'll be good to go" She's a rockstar missionary so her new companion is just going to love her. And they'll at least get to be there for the 5 baptisms we have set for this month. It turns out that leaving the area better than you found it is actually really hard because you still have to leave the area when you have so many people progressing. But this work isn't about how many pictures I have at baptisms, it's about that these people can change their lives and come closer to God. I'm just an instrument in the Lord's hands here.

Anyway, my flight leaves this afternoon and I'm trying to not get nervous about showing up and not knowing anything but Heavenly Father knows what I need to learn and how I need to learn it and I know I'll learn a loot from this experience.

Things are going to be great and I just hope that you can remember in your prayers this week to just help me trust in the Lord and feel the Spirit guiding me. I'm happy and healthy and totally unsure of what this week holds for me and that's just how it is, the life of a sister missionary in the mission of miracles. :) Wishing you all a week of miracles and missionary opportunities! 

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger :)
 Comp de Ecuador = all bananas, all the time

We had lunch with Gladys, Elvis, and Ronald for Elvis's birthday.

 Hermana Batty and I got asked to sing Happy Birthday in English for him 
(Hermana Batty and I did not plan to match, she's just naturally my mini-me hahaha)

 Our plant that represents how well we take care of our area 
(zone experiment)