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.