Monday, January 26, 2015

Are we out of the heat yet are we out of the heat yet are we out of the heat?

*cue my back-up vocalists screaming "no!"* (Taylor Swift 4eva)
Email from Monday, January 26, 2015

Hey There Family and Friends!

I hope this email eventually gets to you because I´ve spent 40 minutes of my 90 waiting for this stupid computer to load and I´m sitting here in tears while everyone else is laughing at their emails. Just my luck.... 

This week was really hard for me because apparently, I have no patience. I was really down on myself this week and I felt like such a failure. Ugh. I know God has trusted me enough to be here but I´m still working on trusting myself that I´m worthy to be doing this work that has eternal consequences for everyone involved. 

My Spanish is improving a lot and I officially dreamed in Spanish. (Technically I had my first Spanish dream during week 3 in Bolivia but it doesn´t count because it was that I was in a lesson and couldn´t understand anyone) but we watched The Testaments in Spanish as an activity at the church and I understood the whole movie. It was so awesome. 

As far as spiritual things, there are so many great experiences that happen in the mission but the one thing that I absolutely LOVE with all of my heart maybe more than anything else is to hear people pray in a first lesson. It is an experience that words can´t describe when you hear someone talk to their Heavenly Father. Sometimes it´s their first time ever praying aloud or they are really nervous or embarrassed but to see them overcome that and talk to their Father, it is incredible. The spirit is always so strong in these short, simple, and completely sincere prayers. Ah I LOVE IT! Another thing that has been on my mind is how perfectly God knows us. He knew I needed to be here in this mission over any other mission and in this area and with this companion. I love that. 

Hna Mejia and I get along really well and we´re starting to get to know each other more. I made her a guide to pray in English and I really want to help her feel more confident in learning English. Her last companion taught her the first verse of Come Thou Fount in English so sometimes she sings it and it´s honestly so precious. She´s incredibly patient with me which I appreciate so much. 

I decided this week that when I have a bad day, I´m just going to spend 2 bolivianos on an ice cream and watch The District 2: Law of Chastity, German....oh my heck, anyone who has seen that knows what I mean, and if you haven´t, go spend 5 minutes laughing your face off. :) 

  • I have a mosquito bite the size of a quarter on my arm. I´m pretty sure I learned at Young Women Camp that if it´s bigger than a quarter, you´re going to die so I´m pretty happy that it´s just the exact size of a quarter and I´m still alive
  • sometimes we meet very...interesting people and have lessons with them this one lady who answered every question by saying something about her desire to listen to the word of God. Including when my companion asked ¨What do you like about this picture of Jesus Christ?" and she said "I just love it so much because it´s the word of God".....awkward moments are my life here
  • also I´ve never seen West Side Story but I´m pretty sure they could do a version of it between the Mormons and the Testigos (Jehovah´s Witnesses) in Santa Cruz, Bolivia... Sometimes they show up at the house of an investigator DURING our lessons and I can´t count how many times I´ve seen someone pull out the pamphlet that we gave them and they have a testigo paper with it.....argh! 

But all in all, everything is well here with me. As far as changes, I´m gaining weight and freckles and my hair is getting lighter and longer. I´m learning and growing each day in testimony and capability but I´m still just as silly and normal as ever. As evidenced by the selfie I took with Hna Mejia when we found a cockroach in my bed, it was her first cockroach so we had to take a picture, right? :)

I love you all and pray for you daily!

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger :)

Heavenly Father, Are You Really There?

 Email from Monday, January 19, 2015

Buenos Dias a todo mi familia y mis amigos!

This week...I could lie or I could tell you that I am so so so far from being perfect. This week was tough! It´s hard to have patience with myself when I want so much to be perfect and know everything. But tough times=opportunities to learn and I learned a lot this week! 

First of all, I got my first LATINA MAMÁ :) Oh yeah. It´s all Spanish, all the time. Hna Mejia is probably the sweetest sis ever. She´s about to have a full year in the mission. We get along really well and we have a ton in common, not so much in our life experiences exactly but in what matters most like our goals for the mission and our lives. She´s from Guatemala so I told her about the time I went to Guatemala for 5 minutes with the Meso2014 trip. (It still counts!) She speaks very little English as in she knows a song from Dora and the word "freaking" hahaha. She´s really fun though and it´s been a huge blessing that I understand 99% of what she says. The next goal is for me to be able to speak as much as I understand! Already though, I´m thinking in Spanish most of the time and learning fast. She´s really patient, even when I speak in English on accident whenever I´m tired or not paying attention. It´s so funny. She asked me for someone´s phone number yesterday and instinctively I responded in English. She´s so cute because she just smiles and waits until I realize. We´re going to have an awesome time together.

As for my #justBoliviathings this week...
  • During a lesson, I look down and see a baby SCORPIAN near my foot and I ask the member what I should do and everyone´s like "oh that´s not bad, you´re fine" and I was just staring at this SCORPIAN INCHES AWAY FROM MY FLESH and then the member realizes what it is and has her brother kill it and THEN the brother tells me "oh wow good thing you noticed that because recently a woman got stung by one of those and she died" ....I could have died...but I didn´t so I´m laughing about it now
  • In other bug adventures, we found a giant dead cockroach when we cleaned this morning, I was just glad it was not alive and I killed the biggest ant that ever walked this earth during our mission coorelation took 3 stomps to die... 
  • We contacted a lady while her kids were unloading a pick up truck bed FULL of cheese and she gave us a pound of cheese....shout out to those menonites because I ate some of the cheese and man it was delicious even though it came out of the bed of a dirty truck from a stranger
  • I filled in the eyebrows of 2 latinas this week, I never thought I would be deemed worthy to do someone´s eyebrows before but they practically begged, it was hilariously awesome and I know my sisters are either laughing or rolling their eyes about this fun fact

But seriously this week, I just went to my Heavenly Father a lot and just talked with Him and a lot of the conversation was just me acknowledging how weak I am. My first afternoon with Hna Mejia was so hard. I didn´t know everywhere to go and when we found a house, no one was there and I was supposed to be helping Hna Mejia know the area but I was just praying in my heart and singing A Child´s Prayer in my mind and trying everything I could not to break down in tears in the street. But let me testify right now that prayers are answered and not in the way we expect. I wanted God to provide a perfect map in my mind and have everyone we meet invite us in and accept baptism but instead I had dear, sweet, Hermana Mejia offer to head back a little early so we could have a good daily planning and then we both cried when we got back because this work is tough. And then a miracle came in the fact that Hna Lyon got to come visit to pick something up and I needed that so badly, and so I got to hug her, cry some more and get an extra dose of confidence from my first mission mom that will forever have a special place in my heart. 

But I just want to take this chance to testify that He is there, He hears and answers prayers, He wants to help and bless us. He is our LOVING Father in Heaven and He is waiting to hear from us through prayer. Without Him, I am nothing but with Him, I am unstoppable. I am grateful for the example of my earthly parents who love me so much that I cannot even fathom how much He loves me. I testify that His love is for every single one of His children and it is available every single second of the day.

I love you all! Go take a warm shower and eat a strawberry for me! (We can´t eat strawberries, pork, or lettuce so actually go eat all of those things for me please!)

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger :)
 These are old but our bishop took these during Christmas time. Sorry its all I have this week! :(


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I Belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints....

Which is a RESPONSIBILITY not just a hobby. :)

Email from Monday, January 12, 2015

Hola Familia, Amigos, y todos! 

Before I left on my mission, I promised myself I wouldn´t be that sister missionary who thinks she knows everything since she´s on a mission. And I promise I don´t think that, if anything, I know less now than when I left since I now realize how much more there is to know! But anyway, I do want to share something with you guys so we can all learn and grow on my mission! :) Just like Jorg Klebingat warned in GC, I will speak boldly in order to make my message clear, please take no offense. :)

This week, we met with an older woman and taught her about the Restoration and the spirit was so strong during the lesson. We then invited her to attend church and she asked us what she had to do before she could go. We were confused and told her that anyone was welcome! She then shared an experience that broke my little heart. Apparently when she was a teenager, her family lived in a house with another family that were members of the church and she always saw their joy in going to church and church activities and yearned to join them and go to the church and make friends but they NEVER invited her. They never even talked about church to her. She felt she wasn´t allowed to go, that there were certain requirements or standards that she´d never meet, she felt rejected. She spent her entire life thinking that she wasn´t good enough to be a part of or even be invited to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. What a shame that those members never took the opportunity to share the gospel with their friend and bless her life and her family. When we are baptized, we PROMISE with our Heavenly Father that we will be His witnesses AT ALL TIMES, IN ALL THINGS, AND IN ALL PLACES. Sharing the gospel is NOT the work of the missionaries. It is the work of our Heavenly Father and we have COVENANTED to do our part. I´m not saying that you all need to serve a full-time mission but I am thinking that we could all improve in our willingness to share the gospel and invite our friends, neighbors, and loved ones to share in the joy and privilege of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It´s for everyone. So this week, do something to share the gospel! Give a reference to the missionaries in your area and ask them for help. I promise they will be eager to help you in this great and marvelous work. :)

Okay, that´s my exhortation for this week. I just hope we all take a moment this week to evaluate how we could be better, more converted members. Imagine if the missionaries were teaching you and your family right now as if you were investigating the church for the first time, would you be considered progressing investigators? As in, are you reading the Book of Mormon and praying each day? That alone will make a world of difference. I can promise you that. :)

As for my #justBoliviathings this week,
  • we almost got attacked by a dog, it was terrifying! Hna Lyon was about to throw her Book of Mormon at it to save our lives (desperate times call for desperate measures...)
  • I tried to contact an ostrich this week, didn´t go so well but I got an AWESOME picture out of it :)
  • Discovered that Boliva is FAMOUS! If you don´t believe me, go check out pg 214 of your nearby Preach My Gospel book (232 if you happen to have a Spanish edition) and check out how BEAUTIFUL the Cochabamba temple looks! I´m definitely going there someday!
  • ironically enough, we also saved a dog´s life this week when it got stuck in the fence, it was barking and growling at us the whole time (ungrateful) but we helped it out anyway. Then I made the analogy of how the dog is a representative of the people we contact that are rude to us...we´re just trying to save your soul, sorry! 

This week, Hermana Lyon heads back to the States and I get a new companion Wednesday and it´s completely up to me to know the area, the investigators, and the members. I´m pretty nervous because our area is huge so for all of you that are praying this week, please pray that I will be able to know the area and remember all that I´ve learned in these past 6 weeks. Specific prayers receive specific answers. Thank you all a million times! 

I don´t really know how many people read these and I don´t suppose I ever really will. I don´t think we ever realize the impact we have on others in this life but to you, whoever you are, that´s reading this, thank you. As a gift to you for your time spent here, I just want to share a portion of my testimony. I know that God loves and knows us perfectly. I know that He has a plan for each of us and has provided us so many resources in this life to return to live with Him. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and He lived a perfect life so that we could follow His example. I know that we have commandments as guides for how to live a happy life and that following the commandments becomes less of a "ugh do I have to?" and more of a "yes I want to!" when we truly understand all that Jesus Christ has done for us and truly develop a love for Him. 

I love it here and I am so blessed every single day! I am so grateful for this chance to demonstrate my love for my Savior and to stand (or to walk 4-6 miles each day) as a witness of God. 

Thanks for your love, support, and prayers!

Con mucho amor,
your favorite missionary in Bolivia,
Hermana Gauger :)
(this is assuming you don´t know any other missionaries here....)

Botanical Gardens- P-day activity last week with the hermanas. 

oh my heck, so fun! 3 of our investigators came and the rest are youth from the ward. one of the boys in our ward made an i love Taylor swift wasn´t clear but i think they were talking about me and one of them is weirdly obsessed with me...awkward but I took a picture of his sign anyway :)

Random Bolivia Things...

Rosa is one of our investigators, she makes me look like I´m a giant.......

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again

Email from Monday, January 5, 2015

Hello Family and Friends!

This week flew by but I still feel like I haven´t talked to you guys all year! ;)
What a rollercoaster of emotions this week was! Every day was filled with awesome awesome moments and then followed up by some of the hardest moments I´ve had so far. But I learned so much! I cannot believe it´s already my last full week with Hna Lyon. I am so sad but I know she´s gonna be an awesome member missionary still when she gets home...Jan 16 :( But oh well, change is a huge part of the mission so I just gotta roll with it!

Some #justboliviathings for this week
  • not sure why but fruitcakes rule Bolivia during this time of year and every time I´m offered it, I turn into the grinch when he´s at that holiday hubee-whatee being force-fed fruitcake 
  • nye is like having all of the giant firework shows in northern California happen in your neighborhood. it starts at midnight and people legit party all night long....which is not so awesome for a sister missionary determined to get some sleep! but we went to the roof and watched at midnight and it was way cool
  • downside is that after nye you can still buy fireworks at all the ventas and there's no age limit so all week we´ve just seen little kids with lighters blowing off fireworks at night and SOMEONE THREW A FIREWORK AT US! Like one of those little ones people do in their front yards that just pop really loud but still...I thought I entered a war zone and was hit by a was pretty sketch. darn niños... 
  • alcohol...............the entire town was shut down this week because everyone was drunk and/or hungover from Wednesday to Friday. It was embarrassing and disgusting and just sad. 

But on a positive note, we have awesome, awesome investigators right now and this week I really learned about and saw the difference in people who have been prepared by the Lord to receive the gospel at this time in their life. We have Mariluz who has breast cancer and made a promise with the Lord that if she lived, she would always share her knowledge of God and His miracles so she´s already an awesome missionary, we´re just helping her learn the truth so she can share it. She´s so great and we just hope her husband can start meeting with us too so her whole family can be blessed. Maria Fernanda is the most adorable lady ever. She´s 23 and she has a little daughter but she´s so eager to learn about the gospel and a lot of her family members are members of the church so they´re totally supporting her in this decision. They´re both working towards getting baptized at the end of the month. 

One experience I had this week that I really want to share with you guys is an experience that we had with a couple we have been teaching for a while. We showed up this week for an appt and brought a Book of Mormon to give them. But when we showed up, the wife met us at the door and said we couldn´t meet with them anymore because they didn´t like our message and didn´t want us near them. When we asked why, the husband came out and the two of them pretty much ranted on about all these lies and myths and stories they had read on the internet about our church and the Book of Mormon. We tried addressing their concerns and refuting and explaining that they were wrong but it was very very clear that they had closed their minds and hearts on the topic. So Hna. Lyon and I stood there on their doorstep, with tears in our eyes, with shaking voices, and with the spirit in our hearts and we bore our simple and sincere testimonies of the Book of Mormon and our love of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and His true church on the earth today and then we invited them to ask God and then walked away with our arms around each other, confident that the Book of Mormon IS the word of God, that it testifies of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Redeemer, that it contains the fulness of His gospel. I know that with all my heart because I have read it. I have asked God in faith and I have felt the power of God, the Holy Ghost, confirm to me. If you have not read the Book of Mormon or are unsure of it´s truthfulness, I invite you to read it, to ask your Heavenly Father, and know for yourself. 

I love being a missionary. I love the difficult times when we get yelled at in quechua or have 6 dogs barking during the entire lesson because those times come with the great times when we have companionship study and have the spirit work in both of us to help one another or when we watch someone completely change their lives as they come to know and understand gospel truths. This is a message of change. I testify that because of Christ´s Atonement, we can change, we can be better. To all of you who set goals for the new year, stick to them! You can change. I love this work, His work, and I´m grateful every day to be a part of it. 

One of my goals is to work on humility by keeping a gratitude journal each day. It will help me realize how much I´ve been blessed by someone who knows so much more than I do. 

I hope you guys are all doing something each day to become more like Jesus Christ and feel His spirit in your lives. I love you all! :)

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger

 We visited the Plaza in the center of Santa Cruz last P-Day. It´s only 15 minutes away by taxi and it´s so cool! I felt like I was back on my trip to Mexico! I bought the cutest little nativity made out of salt because there´s salt flats in bolivia and another little one in a part of a tree. my first recuerdos!
At midnight on NYE, they had INSANE fireworks and we went on the roof and watched em.

We made pasta because we had to be in at 8 on nye 

We made french toast on new years day and had hot chocolate the other day because it was FREEZING! I had to wear gloves when we went out to our lessons. 
 I made MASACO in a tree!! It´s smashed bananas with cheese. It´s actually not too bad but it´s a lot harder to make than it looks!