Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Somos los soldados que combaten [T]error

Email from Monday, June 29, 2015

Hey there,

Well, I'm writing you all with some very big news and with a big ol' smile on my face today because we actually got our call for transfers last night and had transfers today and for the first time ever...I get to stay in my area with my same companion!! YAY! :) Hermana Monar and I have been through a whooooooolllleee lot together but I just felt super strong that we still have some more experiences ahead of us and luckily the Lord told President Willard the same thing and we get 6 more weeks of miracles in Barrio Progreso! :) Seriously, I'm the happiest missionary in the world today. Well, next to Hermana Monar because who wouldn't want to be with me 24/7 for 12 weeks straight??? She's obviously super feliz. :)

Yesterday we had lunch with a member family and their son asked me "Hermana, have you ever had a miracle in your mission?" and I felt so happy that I was able to honestly respond that I've witnesse miracles every single day. 

This week was no different in that we had the awesome miracle of the baptism of Elvis and Ronald. They're the 2 sons of a less-active that was actually a reference from President Willard. (Why you should always follow up on references from your mission president :)) 

But it's an incredible story because the mom is named Gladys and her sister is a recent convert in the other ward that attends in our chapel and Gladys and her 2 sons go to the catholic church every Sunday at 7 but at the request of her 9-year-old niece who was recently sexually assaulted, Gladys went to our church one Sunday with her sister to please her niece and help her feel a little better in this difficult time after the assault. And it just so happened (in the perfect plan of God) that this particular Sunday, in May, was when President Willard came and visited the 2 wards in our chapel. And President got to talking to Gladys's sister and the whole family and found out the whole story of what happened with her niece and then took her info and called us over to meet Gladys and her 2 sons. He gave us her address and it turned out that we had visted her house that same week for a different reference of the other niece of Gladys but when we went and talked with the niece, she didn't live there so we left thinking "aw man, maybe we'll pass by some other time to visit her grandma" but then that Sunday, we receieved the reference of Gladys in that same house! (The whole story is a miracle, but I can only explain so much) So we went to visit Gladys and we start chatting with her and it turns out...she's a member! But she didn't remember anything at all, only that we don't drink coffee and that we have a program for young single adults "to find spouses". So we started teaching her and her 2 sons and she was super closed off at the beginning and in such a short time, I had the privilege of watching her heart soften as the Spirit testified to her as she read the Book of Mormon, prayed, and attended church every single Sunday without fail. Then we invited her sons to be baptized and Elvis who is 13, was super excited and agreed but Ronald who is 12 is really shy and wasn't sure. So we set a date for Elvis and then we passed by one night, and Elvis told us that he started going to seminary (he turns 14 in a few weeks and the school schedule is different here) and he loved it. We started talking about the plans for his baptism and Ronald was like "Hermanas...I also want to be baptized with Elvis on Saturday" Obviously, we were totally okay with that and we did all the plans and on Saturday, they both got baptized and it was so special. I'm pretty sure that Elvis is like the modern-day, Bolivian Joseph Smith because he's just got such a sincere desire to know the truth and then act accordingly. Their baptism was really special and I'm just so excited for them. We even sang We Are All Enlisted at their baptism because it's Ronald's favorite hymn and I never want to forget the enthusiasm in his face as he sings "QUE DICHA ES! QUE DICHA ES!" 

Anyway, all is wonderful here in Tarija, everyone says that the real cold happens in July sooo wish me luck. The zone leaders did buy us a space heater this week though so I think we'll survive my first and only humid Bolivia winter. I'm just loving every moment and hope you all are too!

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger :)

PS not sure how long I can keep up with my hymn subject titles because I don't remember any complete hymn in English....but I'll keep it up in Spanish and you can all have language study each week :)

ice cream on Monday 
Hna Mejia is my sister training leader after being my second comp
We went to a museum and I had to take a mammoth pic for Mom, Bolivia ROCKS! (and you guys thought I had lost my puns)

 cold days in beauiful Tarija
baptism pics. :)

Monday, June 22, 2015

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day...in June

Email from Monday, June 22, 2015 

Dear Family and Friends,

It´s really hard to believe that another week has passed by and that I´m here again writing you. This week, I learned a lot which means that it was a good week even if it didn´t turn out the way I thought I wanted. But God sure is teaching me a lot this transfer. Things are good h ere and I´m just grateful for every moment whether it be difficult, awesome, or whatever.

Things are great with Hermana Monar, she´s helping me a lot to recognize my faults and weaknesses. Like how terribly impatient I am and how awful I am at expressing appreciation and love. BUT she´s helping me a lot with her amount of patience with me. And I think I´m improving a bit. I have the goal to serve her every day and make sure she feels my love all the time.

I heard that Mom and Dad aren´t going to Girl´s Camp this year so it´s official, the family is falling apart without me. So don´t worry Antelope Stake, next year, all will be back in order and I´m willing to be the first 20 year old Stake Camp Director….hahah just kidding, that´s all Sis Weaver but seriously..I will be there…whatever it takes. :)

This week, I just wanted to bear my testimony with y’all on something extremely important. The Law of Chastity. I know this might seem weird but I just felt inspired to share how important and fundamental this commandment is for all of us. Seriously the majority of the problems that I have seen and the sorrow I have felt and seen in the lives of the people I talk with each day are the result of not living the law of chastity. On the other hand, the happiest people I have met are those who have lived the law of chastity or rather, waited to enter into the bonds of marriage in order to have intimate relationships and then remained faithful and loyal to their spouse in every way. I don´t know if words can really express how much living this commandment will bless you and your future family in so many ways. I know it´s true because I´ve lived it and I´ve seen it in the lives of so many. If you have any questions, check out Mormon.org which can explain a little more about the blessings that come or ask me and I can write a novel about my personal experiences and the experiences I have seen in my life and there´s no way you´ll not be converted to want to live chastely.

Anyway, I realized I have forgotten about my #justBoliviathings for a while now so here´s a few for you guys.
  •  Today I was showering when a mosquito flew by and without even thinking, I took off my flip-flop (you have to wear flip-flops in the shower because disease and fungus an d whatnot) and I just whacked it mid-air, put my flip-flop back on and finished washing my hair as I thought to myself “Just a normal shower in Bolivia”
  • If ya check out the June Liahona, the article “Families Can Be Together Forever”, there´s a picture of an adorable Bolivian couple walking towards the Cochabamba temple. It’s so precious and the temple is like the most beautiful of all time
  • Right now, I´m writing this entire email in Microsoft Word because it´s been 43 minutes and my email still hasn´t opened. Hoping that I´ll at least get  a chance to send this to you guys.
  • It´s so cold here that I did something crazy. I bought a turtleneck sweater and even crazier, I wore it. I know…who am I? I don´t know, it´s just so cold and everyone here wears them and I only know Bolivia Fashion now so I´m over here wearing turtleneck sweaters and mixing all my blacks and browns to stay warm but I´m happy and warm and all is well.
  • This week is June 25th and with all the cold weather, I´m feeling like it should be Christmas so this week, I have declared Christmas in June and Hermana Monar are only singing Christmas hymns and we decorated the house for Christmas and we´re going to have Christmas pancakes and everything. In the misiĆ³n, it´s the Little things. :)

Also shout out to Shelby, Megan, and Jacob for their handwritten letters. They arrived last week and I was super happy. Thanks for the extra oomph of effort, it´s very much appreciated! You guys rock. 

Anyway, I hope all is well with everyone and that your internet is a lot better than mine. Have an awesome week! I love you!
Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger
P.S. I don´t know if I´m going to have time to send pics because I just got my email to open and I have exactly 18 minutes now...oh Bolivia.

Monday, June 15, 2015

O My Father, Thou That Dwellest in California

Email from Monday, June 15, 2015

Dear Family and Loved Ones and Blog Stalkers,

I'm alive and well and finally feeling better! Just got that type of cough that lasts like forever but I'm able to go out and work and invite people to come unto Christ and I'm super stoked about that. This week, I decided that with Father's Day being this Sunday, I would dedicate this email to my earthly father who is quite frankly the best dad I've ever had on this earth. (Mom, don't feel too bad, you got to skype me on Mother's Day:))

This morning, I was reading in Helaman and I found the perfect scripture to describe how I feel about all that Dad has taught me in Helaman 5:13 which says "And it came to pass that these were the words which Randy taught to his daughters; yea he did teach them many things which are not written, and also many things which are written." Pretty much everything I've written here on this blog have been things that my awesome Dad taught me and even more and now that I'm in the mission, I feel like the scripture in Helaman 5:14 "And she remembered his words; and therefore she went forth, keeping the commandments of God, to teach all the people of Bolivia, beginning at the city of Tarija".

Words really can't express the impact that my dad has had on the person I am today. From the time I was a little girl, I always was waking up early on Saturday morning to go clean the church building and then buy winco donuts and return in time to watch whatever sports game was on that day which actually meant that I would pretend to pay attention to the sport until Dad fell asleep for his Saturday morning nap and I could watch what I wanted. He taught me the importance of family scripture study when he woke us all up at 6am and made us gather in the family room to sleep until it was our turn to read. We were never perfect daughters and he was never a perfect dad but we sure learned a lot together and we continue helping each other grow. When I made the decision to serve a mission, I don't think anyone was as happy as my dad who did everything he could to help me prepare, even giving me the temple prep classes for our family home evening lessons and then taking me all over California and Utah to do sessions in 18 different temples. I can't think of any better way to learn the importance of temple worship than to have seen the sacrifices my dad made to visit the temple with me as often as possible and to talk with me afterward about the significance of all the covenants we make in the temple. I think I'm just rambling at this point but I hope I've conveyed to all who are reading this what an awesome guy my dad is.

The most important thing he's done for me is teach by his example the relationship I have with my heavenly father and show me a portion of the love that my Heavenly Father has. By knowing and loving my earthly father, I've been able to better understand and appreciate all that my Heavenly Father does for me.

So if you've been as blessed as I have with an awesome dad, go hug him and tell him how great he is. If your dad isn't so wonderful, thank him for trying at least to be as great as Randy Gauger. If your dad isn't around or never tried, go pray and thank your Heavenly Father for being so great because He loves and knows you even better than your earthly father.

I just wanted to mention 2 other scriptures that have helped me so much to appreciate my earthly father in Alma 36:17 and Enos 1:3 because the words that my father taught me about Jesus Christ, eternal life, and the joy of the saints have sunk so deep in my heart and have helped shape who I am today and who I am becoming. This letter also wouldn't be complete without a very special shout out to the woman who's been by my father's side for almost 34 years now, my mom is also incredible and her example has meant so much to me as well as I've been working out here like the 2,000 stripling warriors, never doubting because my mom always knew it. :)

Anyway, I just love my parents a whole lot and I want y'all to know how great they are and how special they are to me. Happy Father's Day to all you current and future fathers out there. :)

Things in Bolivia are as amazing as ever and super COLD! Also a little upset still that I don't know the metric system or how to tell temperature in celsius because my parents never taught me that but I'm still grateful for all that they did teach me and for the awesome packages I received from them this week! Hna Monar is also grateful for the american candy :)

I love you all! Have a great week!

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger
 Birthday Pizza!

 Also me with my cake that my pensionista made for me. Sorry I look so terrible, I was still really sick in this photo. The tradition is after you blow out the candle and make a wish, you take a bite out of the cake. Normally someone slams your face into the cake but everyone had pity on me because I was sick so I only got a little bit of cake on my face hahah. By the way....not all cake is created equal and I'm excited to one day eat normal American cake again.

  And a darling hermana we visit who can't go to church because she can't walk very well. She also only speaks quechua and a little bit of Spanish so it's always a hoot and a half to visit her and we wash her laundry sometimes. She's so precious. :)

Monday, June 8, 2015

When Upon Life´s Billows, You Are Tempest Tossed

Email from Monday, June 8, 2015
Hermana Gauger's Birthday! 
Hello family from your favorite TWENTY year old sister missionary in Bolivia! I´m writing you this week from TARIJA!
Last Monday, I got the doctor´s approval to come back to Tarija and we got here Tuesday and I was probably the happiest little missionary que hay. So we went out and worked hard Tuesday night and Wednesday and it was awesome and full of miracles until.......
I got sick again!!! I know, you won´t even believe it, I´m sure. But it´s true. I got some weird virus that an hermana in Santa Cruz had and I was like dead in my bed Thursday and Friday. But Thursday was our interviews with President so somehow, like a zombie, I got out of bed, put on a skirt and we went to the zone conference and when Hermana Willard saw me, she was super worried and then brought me medicine and powerade and we got to go in for our interviews first and even though I felt like it was my last day on earth and my whole body hurt soooo bad, it was my very favorite interview with President. I always leave our interviews knowing he´s the best mission president I could ever have and feeling like I´m the best missionary he could ever have. He´s just really awesome like that. And then he gave me blessing and it was just such a beautiful blessing that promised health and miracles and he talked a lot about my life after the mission too. It was so powerful. Then I went home and was dead in my bed again until Saturday when we had to move. Yeaaaah, I did that very zombie-like as well but I did it!
I went out and worked yesterday and I´m feeling okay today but I´m still just praying that I can feel 100% soon and not have any more sickness! The coolest miracles though had to be yesterday when we went to church and all the members were hugging me and asking about my health and told me how much they were praying for me and as we sat there taking the sacrament, I just looked around at all these incredible Bolivian people who I love so much and I bowed my head to pray and the only thought that came to my mind was "Father, thank you for letting me be here. I wouldn´t want to be anywhere else" and it´s true. I find so much joy in this work and in these people and I´d rather be here, sick as a dog, than healthy anywhere else in the world. I just am so grateful to be here. I´m grateful for your support back home and all of your prayers. I love you all so much!
Wishing all of us a week of good health and the fulfillment of promised blessings!
Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger :)
 Perks of having the mission taxi driver take ya to the airport in Santa Cruz...
he bought us cinnabon! 

Our plane went through Cochabamba and if you zoom in, 
through the clouds you can see the Christus statue!

 What Hna Monar did for me this morning!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Let Us All Press On In The Work of the Lord...POR FIN

Email from Monday, June 1, 2015

Okay family, this is coming to you from a very very hopeful missionary who is still in Santa Cruz and yearns with all her heart to go back to Tarija and work. But after internet is my doctor's appointment and he's gonna tell me when I can go back (hopefully tomorrow!). This week, the health secretary gave me permission to leave for a total of 4 hours. It was a pretty big bummer for me but  I read a loooot of the Book of Mormon and I wrote a looot of letters but I don't have any addresses so I might just have my mom be the distributor back home. And for the first time in my whole life, I have a fully updated journal! (Tender mercies :))

Also, I lived very humbly this week considering I planned to be in Santa Cruz for like 2 days, maybe 3 and then most of that in the hospital so I had 2 skirts and 2 shirts and no make-up and really nothing more than my toothbrush and scriptures so that kinda stunk. But the hermanas in Trompillo deserve some sort of heavenly reward for all their help this week because they took my companion out to work every single day and whoever stayed with me always was super duper helpful. I can't do anything too grand for them but you all can pray for their families. So my special shoutout is for Hermana Hiskey (Utah) Hermana Atiz (Colombia) Hermana HincapiƩ (Colombia) and Hermana Petroff (Utah). They're my heroes.

Also this week, we got a call from President that my companion's grandma passed away unexpectedly and she didn't take it very well. I don't understand the plan of God and I probably never will but for some reason, we had to have all these trials pass in the very first week together. Truly I feel we're fulfilling the scripture in Acts 20:19 and we're serving the Lord with many many tears.

Through it all though, I've grown to love my companion so much in such a short time. I think there's like a universal rule that after you shed a certain amount of tears together, you have to be best friends. We have acheived that level of tears.

I just love this work and I have never been so eager to go out and work. I trust that there are a lot of miracles just waiting for us in Tarija and I can't wait to go out and llevarlos a cabo. (I don't know how to say that in English because that just sounds right soo sorry.)

I love you all. Thanks for your love and prayers! Next week, you'll be hearing from a sister missionary one year older and wiser too. Because next Monday I turn TWENTY! So feel free to flood my inbox with love and if nothing else, I want an email from Amanda Bassett, (Yes, I'm calling you out because you never sent me Jerusalem pictures!) Anyway, hasta luego!

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Gauger :)

 The awesome hermanas in Santa Cruz who took really awesome care of me.
 Hermana Monar and I and my hospital adventures

 I'm feeling a lot better now than I look in these pictures because 
I used to feel a lot worse than I looked and now I'm happy and almost fully healthy!