Monday, April 27, 2015

Choose the Right When A Choice is Placed Before You...Even After Your Mission

Email from Monday, April 27, 2015

Family and friends,
It´s officially been 6 months since I saw your beautiful faces in person and graced you all with my presence in the United States of America. I can not believe that nor did I want to celebrate it in any way this week. I can´t imagine ever leaving this country or these people. But I learned a lot this week about the type of person I want to be when they force me to return to a land of potable water and carpeted floors.

This week, we had the baptism of Daniela Garnica and she´s just so great. Seriously, she bore her testimony during the baptismal service and said "I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true church because I have prayed so hard and I have studied the Book of Mormon and especially through fasting, God has answered my prayers, my questions and my doubts. And because He answered me, I am here today being baptized because I know it´s true.¨ It brought tears to my eyes to see such a transformation in this sweet girl. Some of her siblings are members but she never wanted to receive the missionaries because she had a loser boyfriend who was quite the jerk-face (loser boyfriends are the worst, if you or someone you know is struggling with this serious disease, go immediately to the Lord and get help) but once she dropped him, she could feel the influence of the spirit in her life and change completely to begin a new life. I LOVE THIS WORK! Nothing feels better than seeing someone you love change their life and experience true happiness.

I am halfway done with the Book of Mormon in Spanish! How crazy is that? I am loving it more and more and more every day when I read and study. Seriously, I think Alma 31 is my new favorite chapter. (Tomorrow Alma 32 will be my favorite because I love them all so much). It´s the healthiest obsession I have. :)

This week, unfortunately, I had quite a few bad experiences with returned missionaries in our ward and it broke my heart. How people can serve the Lord for 18 months or 2 years and then go back to being the same person or forget all that they have felt, learned, and testified is something that I will just not understand with my mortal brain. I learned a lot about who I am becoming and how this mission experience should change every aspect of who I am, what I want in life, and who I want to share my life with. I honestly don´t know what kind of wife or mother I would be if I wasn´t here serving the Lord during this time. I´ve grown so much in my expectations and desires for my future family and I am learning and changing every single day to reach my divine potential and become who Heavenly Father wants me to be.

  • this week I had my trámites (I tried for 3 days to think of the word in English but yeah...I have no idea) and they had to do blood tests and my arm is still all bruised and swollen. (see picture) I could share more details about what it´s like to get your blood drawn in a Bolivian clinic but it´s more important to note that surprisingly, it didn´t give me any diseases (that I know of....just kidding, Mom, I´m healthy!)
  • this little girl came up to me and the following conversation took place (in Spanish obviously)
Her: "Do you speak?"
M:Uhh yes
H:Say something!!
M:Uh...I speak english
H:GASP (approximately 7 seconds of silence) ¡QUE CHARLA! (translation: whoa you´re the coolest person of all time and I want to be as awesome and intelligent as you) 
Then she wanted me to say a million words in English and I just wish I could show you all the face of this girl who seriously acted like I was healing the blind or causing the lame to walk. It was pretty marvelous.
  • lightning storms happen alllllllll the time and I just try not to remember that Dad made me read about how many people die each year from them.  
Things are as fabulous as ever here and I just sincerely love every minute. Time passes so fast so we gotta make the most of each moment. I´m so happy to be here and I wouldn´t want to be anywhere else. Hope you all feel the same with whatever´s happening in your lives and if no, change your ways. It´s never too late to become the person God wants you to be and receive His promised blessings. 
 Sending you all love and blessings from the heart of South America!

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger :)

Cows as pets


Injuries from trying to be legal in Bolivia 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Called To Serve Him...Far and Wide His LOVE Proclaim

Email from Monday, April 20, 2015
Faaaamily and friends,
How are you all doing? Things are fabulous here! This week was great. I have a home! Well...sort of. I´m living in a super nice apartment in the center of Tarija but it is so far from our area that the assistants said we can only live here for a month until we find a house in our area so we´re still just praying for that. But I decided I´m never going to move again after my mission and I also never want to live with a boy ever after I saw the house of the zone leaders and almost threw up. So Mom and Dad, I know you miss me right now but don´t worry, I will never leave you again. :)
This week we had our zone conference with President Willard and I had to watch another one of my companions go up and give her final testimony (it doesn´t get easier by the way) and I had to speak again (this makes 3/5 where I had to speak) and then we also had stake conference with the presence of Elder Balderrama and he´s now my second favorite Area Seventy (we all know the Bassett family is #1 en mi corazón) and I just had a ton of learning opportunities this week. 
One thing that President Willard said that hit me so hard was that we are often like birds who go to school to learn to fly and then walk home. I think it hit me hard because the guilty taketh the truth to be hard. How many goals do we all set during general conference or big spiritual events and then we go on doing the exact same things and we don´t ever progress or apply what we learn? Okay maybe the rest of you are perfect and it´s just me but I´m super guilty of this and any one who knows me knows how much I love lists and goals and how much I lack diligence. But I´m working on it, little by little! 
  • this week involved a lot of bug incidents, like a butterfly attacking us in the night, mosquito bites on my face, killing a bug on my face and another on my shirt and it got blood all over my white shirt
  • at stake conference, we decided to move seats to sit next to an old man who was all alone and when we sat down, he got right up and moved seats so that he could be alone, (not everyone loves the missionaries :))
I read "It Isn´t A Sin To Be Weak" in the April 2015 Liahona this week along with "The Gift of Grace" by President Uchtdorf from this past conference and oh my goodness, I am forever changed. I always feel like such a sinner when I fall short but in reality, I´m just weak. It was so humbling to read that and it gave me so much help that I needed. I´m just weak and I need the grace of God to do things beyond my mortal capacity. And it´s possible because He loves me. He doesn´t want us to repent and go back to who we were, He wants me to become like Him and CHANGE and IMPROVE.So I´m working on being more patient with myself and others and learning to rely on the merits of Christ. I´m so glad that I´m here as a servant of God to proclaim His love and His gospel. The greatest manifestation of His love is the atoning sacrifice of His son and I get to share that every single day here. I LOVE IT!

Thanks for all the love and support. I love you guys so much!
Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger
 P-day hot dogs

 The view from my new house window

Tiny doors at adobe houses

 A snapshot of my area and proof that I´m serving 
in the most beautiful mission. :)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Oh It Is Wonderful That He Should Care For Me Enough to Die For Me

Email from Monday, April 13, 2015
Hello, hello, hello!
Guess who is going to DOMINATE her Spanish accent this transfer?? It´s me. And my new companion is going to DOMINATE her English! Yep, I have a new companion and she´s pretty great. Introducing...Hermana Pérez, from Chile. And you probably won´t believe it but she is also going home at the end of this transfer. Yep, in mission slang I am "killing off" another companion. This makes 3 out of 4... But she´s really awesome, her English is awesome, she´s just nervous to speak so we´re already helping each other out a lot with the language. I understand everything at this point and I can speak it, I just don´t want to sound like a white girl anymore. hahah. She was working in the same ward as me before so we knew each other already and she also served in my old area so we have tons to talk about along with a ton of things to do because my area got closed so we´re combining our 2 areas with all of the people we were teaching before and it´s a lot of work. Especially since we´re still homeless.
Let me just say, searching for a house in Bolivia is nothing like House Hunters International and it is way harder than finding new investigators. We searched and searched and saw a lot of places but there´s pretty much nothing in our area. So right now it looks like we´ll be moving into a new house with the hermanas who serve in a different ward in the Center part of Tarija (where all the tourists go and it´s so weird to see other white people). It´s super far but it´s the only safe and probable option. The house is sooooooo nice and if we move in this week (fingers crossed) I´ll send pics!
This week, we had normal church! It was so awesome. 2 weeks without the sacrament is too long! It was such a great Sunday and we learned a lot about the Atonement in Gospel Principles. It hit me so hard during the lesson that my debt to God is so huge and yet Jesus Christ paid the debt and all He asks is that I keep His commandments and remember Him. The law of justice and the power of mercy are satisfied only in and through the Atonement of Christ and I am so gratfeul for that every single day. I LOVE sharing that message with everyone! The more I study, the more I love this gospel and my Savior and the more I want to share it. Also, I memorized the Living Christ in Spanish! I´m kind of obsessed with how beautiful it is and I encourage everyone to take the time to read it this week!
Things are fantastic here in a country where everyone is just so full of love and a desire to serve and help others. Im so happy that I´ll be here in Progreso until at least the end of June! Which means we´ll be turning 20 in Tarija! :D
  • not sure if you´re all understanding the dog crisis here, there are some streets that ALWAYS have at least 10 dogs and no matter where you are, there is never silence because you can ALWAYS hear dogs barking or fighting or howling...always.... #soundsofBolivia
  • I´ve given up on my real name and I don´t even try anymore, in Bolivia, I am Hermana Gow-gerh...not sure if by reading that, you understand but I´ll just tell ya in a MONTH when we skype!
News: Bolivia won´t accept any packages from any private mailing systems (fedex/ups) or anything over 2kg. So don´t send that please because it will enter Bolivia and it will stay in a post office forever and ever and I will never ever receive it. So yeah, let´s avoid causing problems and just send me awesome little things, if you so desire. :)

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger :)
 The Bolivian version of Chokis....just as addicting :) 

 Saying goodbye to my twin, Hna. Ellison

 A celeb shot of her leaving me behind

 Hna Pérez and I on our first Sunday,

Monday, April 6, 2015

There is beauty all around when there´s love at home...And when there´s not...

Email from Monday, April 6, 2015

 Familia y amigos!

How are y´all doing back in the land of pizza that actually tastes good? I´m doing great! I am learning a whole heck of a lot. This week was pretty rough. I had a lot of "I´m the worst missionary ever" moments and even though that´s completely illogical, Satan can really work on ya. This week I felt a lot like Enos and I just prayed and prayed and then I prayed even more. And let me tell ya, prayer works.

I´m currently homeless and it´s been the source of some of the toughest trials of my mission. To make a long story short, even in the mission, there will be people who don´t like you for being obedient. I know, that just broke your heart, didn´t it? It breaks mine too. Basically the story is that I talked to President on Monday about how I didn´t feel our house was in accordance with the missionary handbook and then Saturday night, the Zone Leaders told us to pack what we needed for the night and they were going to come pick up our mattresses so we could stay with the sister training leaders at least until cambios and then until we find a new house. Unfortunately, we live with 2 other sisters and they were....not so happy... So right now I´m sleeping on a mattress on the floor of the other sister´s apartment until at least Wednesday when we have transfers. It was a crazy and stressful situation and everyone involved was pretty upset. We´re pretty sure they´re closing an area in our ward for sisters so I have no idea what my Tuesday night transfer call holds for me. But I find comfort in that the Lord guides this mission. I´m just here to do my small part and be in instrument in His hands, regardless of anyone else. We´ll just have to wait and see who the Lord wants me to learn from next.

In happier and more relevant news, GENERAL CONFERENCE!! Setting aside my profound despair that Richard G Scott didn´t speak, it was awesome! I´m pretty sure Michael T Ringwood changed my life forever. Seriously all the talks were so good and there was a very obvious theme of marriage and families and now I have some great inspired goals both for the families I´m teaching and for that very very very very far off day when I get the privilege to have a family of my own. (Note the amount of very´s because I am still trying to work out a way to be a missionary in Bolivia forever). It was awesome. I LOVE general conference and now the next step is to take our notes to more than just Sis Davis´s conference challenge but PUT THEM IN PRACTICE! The cinnamon rolls are a nice reward but eternal salvation is even sweeter.

This week deserves a special shout out to my beautiful, wonderful, and life-changing companion Hermana Ellison. I see SO MUCH of myself in her and she has helped me grow and change in so many ways. She´s been my "charity and love" companion. (I pick a Christlike attribute for all of my companions, Hna Lyon, you were definitely my "diligence" and I still exercise every morning and think of you, and Hna Mejia was my "humility" companion). But seriously, Hna Ellison is so great! My fave companion from California! And if you don´t believe me or you just can´t wait to find out for yourself how awesome she is, go meet her! Everyone is invited to hear her speak this Sunday at the Mormon Center building in the Folsom 3rd ward! Seriously, please go. She will tell you all about how awesome Bolivia is and how I´m the best companion she´s ever had. :) Mom, Dad, Shanna, Steph, especially you guys should go because she may or may not come bringing good tiding of great recuerdos. ;)
  • We are now teaching the owners of Satan dog and he is still so evil. I always keep in mind Phillipians 3:2

Anyway, I love you all. Hope all is well! Happy Easter! Happy Birthday to Jesus today! Happy Anniversary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints! Happy birthday to Lisa Le tomorrow and Grandpa Jarman on Friday.

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger