Thursday, November 19, 2015

Southern Comfort Zone

Howdy! Just another regular pday! (Minus the packing up of belongings and memories...) 
So I could make this really deep and go into all the things I've learned on my mission, but you know what, I'm just going to keep it like every other week would be. You've heard my testimony, you've been there for the miracles, and I'm so thankful for all ya'll being with me through it. 

So, I finally had that super weird thing I can tell people I ate on my mission when they ask what the weirdest thing I had to eat was. It's not cold shrimp over an avocado (gag), it's not duck wrapped in bacon (though that was marvelous), it's not venison stew or any of that... It's 'gator! 

The Allens made us this awesome dinner of Cajun chicken, crawfish and rice, gumbo, jambalaya, and 'gator sausage. It was so great. Very Alabama.

Eatin' Gator
So this week was trainer trainee meeting! I haven't been to one of those since Sparta! It was very cool to go and see just how much my mission has had an impact on others, and how Ive grown as a leader. I don't say that to brag, but to boast in the Lord who truly has helped a weak thing to be made strong. 
Sister Gale was the cutest. They asked the trainees about a long list of things their trainer should be doing with them but probably weren't- and she literally kept her hand in the air to show that we had done them the whole time! I just love our companionship because we are totally equal in what we do. We are best friends! :) 

Every trainer trainee meeting they have us split up and basically bash and brag on our companions. Then they write the list on the board for the other companions to go see so they can  get an idea of where to improve. When we went to see what the trainees had said about us I noticed on the negative side it said we didn't have enough fire. When counseling about it, the trainers started talking about how we need to teach our trainees to kindle their fire and not expect everyone to be baptized, etc. that struck a bad cord with me so I raised my hand to share that we in fact should be catching their fire not controlling it. Someone asked how we can do this, and the Assistant leading the discussion put me on the spot and said I should share what I've done.
I hadn't really thought about it, but I guess what I've done to catch greenie fire includes not leaving a persons doorstep until you've seen them in white. You teach everyone you meet and you pray until you can love them like the Lord does. I guess that's kind of the trick that I've found for never losing my fire.
Beaming, the assistant went to the board and under the category of things trainers are doing right, he underlined a phrase I hadn't noticed: "picture them in white". 
"That's EXACTLY what your trainee was so stoked about", he encouraged. 
It made me so happy to know that although we hadn't talked about it, Sister Gale and I have learned the principle of having a vision for everyone we meet to be baptized. :)  I have a testimony that anyone's "greenie fire" can be strong enough to stay fighting their whole mission and beyond that. 

It was great getting back together with what's left of the gang, too! Elder Ashton had us take a final brick picture before we all die off one transfer after the other.


At the end of the day Elder Morgan, one of the assistants, happily told me I was going to be on his team for the ping pong championship the final night in the mission home. Our team name will be "Mo-Hoch" (like Mohawk) how sick is that?! President and his teammate are going down!! Hahaha (it's a big deal)

Since the meeting was up in Nolensville, we went and had dinner with Sister Gant and her family, my last relief society president. They were so happy to see me! Their kids are super nerdy so the whole time we talked about how I was going to audition to be the Doctors next companion and the episode would be me knocking on the Tardis and he's like "what?" And opens the door and I'm there as a missionary and I do my little speech thing and then tell him about the Book of Mormon and then we go back in time to all the different stories in the Book of Mormon and we like fix Nephi's bow with the sonic screwdriver, and aliens mix in with the laminates so we help Helaman's 2000 stripling warriors,and then hang out with Moroni when he's like the last guy alive... It would be so sweet! 

Anyway, we got back from all of that pretty late and it was already 8pm and so nobody was awake but we knew we needed to be exactly obedient to our finding hour. Since everyone was asleep we decided to do the lame and go to a store. The lady working was the only person there and she wasn't interested... So at 8:45 we walk back to the car and the spirit is like "go buy pants at that department store" and I'm like "okay I know I need jeans for home but that can wait until pday" but the spirit was like "no there's someone in there go buy pants". So the store is closing but we run in and try talking to the manager, like the only lady in the whole place. She totally wasn't wanting to hear it and I felt so bad for wasting time shopping. I grabbed some pants and we went to have her check us out but she said her register was closed. But THEN she went to the back of the store and grabbed this cute young lady who came up and she saw our tags and got all excited because she had just bought a Book of Mormon at a garage sale and wanted to learn more about our church! We got her information ASAP and now we are going to start teaching Anna! :D 
I guess the moral of that story is be obedient, even if it doesn't make sense. 

I did my final training at district meeting on finding it was fitting.


Oh and guess who my last ever exchange was with? SISTER KOHLER! I trained her when I was only 3 months out and now she's my Sister Training Leader! We had so much fun reminiscing on old times. She's grown so much. One thing that struck me that she shared is "Satan's not smart, he's just old". I thought it was funny, and so true. 


We have had some stellar miracles. I feel like this week every member decided we needed to teach their friends so we've met so many new people and had so many lessons in members homes. We've had some bold moments like one night when we walked into Little Caesers and literally taught the whole staff about the Book of Mormon. Or another night when we ran up to a man putting groceries in his car and found out he's actually an old investigator and totally interested in meeting with us! One of the best memories was just teaching Brenda and having her tell us she's been sincerely praying about baptism. Oh and we talked to our Methodist minister friend at breakfast and since it was my last time seeing him I was just really bold and he finally told us that he KNOWS Joseph smith was a prophet. We got to find out just what is keeping him from being baptized and now we are working to resolve that concern. It makes me think of the vision of the south: "as they see their church veering off to the right and to the left of those basic teaching they will begin to search for truth, and as pivotal teachers come into the church and have influence, we will see the time when we will baptize hundreds and thousands, tens of thousands, in your day you will see a million members of the church in the south" 

 Lawrenceburg is just magic you guys :) 

That being said, leaving it was really tough. It warmed my heart to see so many members pray for me and thank me and just show how much they care. It was only 6 weeks, but it was the best 6 weeks. 




Like my favorite song says:

"It may [no longer] be on the mountain height or over the stormy sea, 
it may not be at the battles front, my lord would have need of me"

It's so sad to know I've come to the end of this journey, but I know it's really just the beginning of a new one. 

"but if by a still small voice he calls, to paths that I do not know, 
I'll answer dear Lord with my hand in thine- I'll go where you want me to go"


I could cry and pound my fists and say I want to stay it's not fair, but I know that would be so ungrateful. The time the Lord gave me to work wasn't mine in the first place. 18 months of laboring in HIS vineyard under HIS care... Man, I'm one blessed Tennessee girl.

"When I miss my Tennessee home 
And I've been away way too long
I can't see this world unless I go
Outside my southern comfort zone"
-Brad Paisley 

Signing out!



The "Going Home" Group Session

Sister Jennifer Hochstrasser 
Tennessee Nashville Mission 





Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Throwback

Throwback

You know, it always throws me off when people of other faiths talk over your prayers. "Yes Lord, sweet Jesus please, yes yes, thank you lord". It makes it hard to focus on what I'm trying to say, but I've learned to just get through it. Lol

Sister Andersen came out teaching with us this week. We had fun going out to dinner afterwards :) 

Sister Gale got pretty sick. We stayed inside and she got a blessing. Two priesthood holders came, and one with his wife. During the blessing she got a call and answered the phone. Then she gave the phone to sister Gale because apparently it was her aunt she hasn't really seen for years. Her aunt was calling this sister we were with because she had messed up Sister Gale's family history line when she decided to get our information and try to do our family history. Sister Gale's aunt noticed things were wrong and they got salt lake in on the fiasco. Hahaha. Moral of the story: don't answer your phone during a blessing and don't try to do family history that's not yours! 

The Schusseles came down from Nolensville and took us out to dinner this week as well. It's been so fun seeing how much old friends care :). 

I got to see Sister Facer today too, and that was a treat. She brought me chocolate and a card. Ah, she's such a good friend :). 

Do ya'll remember Elder Stradling? He was my district leader the first 6 months of my mission. He came back and visited with his wife! He'll be at BYU-Idaho too, it was really comforting to see that there is life after mission-death... And I'll be okay :). It was a week of throw back, seeing old friends and remembering past memories. I was really sad today, I felt like everything happening just hit me like a ton of bricks. But I know this shouldn't be a sad ending, it's one of the happiest. 

Elder Charles Didier said it perfect:
I hope that you will not mind if I have recalled some of the souvenirs of what you always referred to as the best time of your life. Why can’t it be the same way today? Why should the “best time” always refer to yesterday instead of tomorrow? The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a gospel made of souvenirs. It is a gospel presented to us so that we may live it today in order to know where we will be tomorrow.

This past Sunday our investigator Carol, Sister Abercrombie, Sister Gale, and I sang "Nearer My God To Thee" in sacrament and I gave a talk on missionary work. It was the last talk Ill give as a missionary. I went for the full 25 minutes I was allotted, I've never spoken that long before! Just the other day, I was thinking about how bad I wish the things I was learning now could be applied to my missionary work when I first came out! But then the spirit reminded me that the Lord calls us to where we are how we are. I'm meant to know what I know now for these people, and I was supposed to know what I knew then, for those people. If that makes any sense. 

We had our weekly supper with the Cheatwoods this Sunday as well and I just wanted to show you a picture of them all. They make up half the ward. The other half is also Kin to them somehow. We all knelt and said a prayer holding hands and I just felt like I was on an episode of duck dynasty! 
It was so fun being there to see all of the Cheatwood's kids and spouses and grandkids joking and reminiscing and such. It makes me excited to sit with my posterity some day :). 

This is short and simple, but know I'm alive and doing well and going hard. See you sooner than later! 

Sister Jennifer Hochstrasser

Tennessee Nashville Mission      jennifer.hochstrasser@myldsmail.net


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Weekly


Hey everyone :). 

You know how grits are like a thing of the South? Well, I got through my whole mission not touching them. Until this week. I had no idea what it was but it's basically mashed up corn. Looks like a thick cream of wheat. I had some for breakfast at a restaurant and it was really bland. Then we went out to dinner that night and the specialty was Tuscan grits. So, I got them. My life changed. 

They were organic stone ground grits with Italian chicken, fresh bruschetta, basil pesto, in a reduced balsamic (aka boiled out the vinegar). Topped with Parmesan. It was to die for! Who knew grits could be so high class?! Oh and the place was selling real 'coon hats. So of course we had to model them for ya'll. Hehe ;) 


Okay so miracle teaching moments have been happening! I love training because I love watching people I love reach their potential, and Sister Gale is just rocking it! 

We had an experience with Doug that blew my mind. We were sitting in a lesson with him and the Bishop and his wife. We were teaching Doug and it reached a point where I really knew we needed to ask Doug this specific question. It got silent, and I was just waiting to say this question, but the spirit restrained me and I didn't know why!
Meanwhile, Sister Gale is sitting in this silence with me and the spirit is constraining her to talk. She has no idea what she's even supposed to say, but she just kept thinking "open your mouth". SO, in the words or Nephi, she "was led by the spirit not knowing beforehand the things which [she] should [say]. Nevertheless [she] went forth" (1st Nephi 4:6)
So as I'm sure you've now assumed, she totally asked Doug the question I knew he was needing to be asked! 
Sister Gale later said it just came out as soon as she started talking, she didn't even realize what she was saying until after. The question really helped Doug apply what we had taught and prepare him to make a commitment. 

Open your mouths and they shall be filled, and you shall become even as Nephi of old, who journeyed from Jerusalem in the wilderness. (D&C 33:8) 

I remember reading in The Power of the Everyday Missionary by Clay Christensen and he gave a pretty sweet analogy. So basically, when you're in a war, who gets the big guns- the guys in the front lines or the guys in the back? Well, Clay had been feeling a lull in the spirit since his mission, and although he was rocking his calling as some kind of clerk and reading his scriptures, he wasn't getting that high he wanted. Until that is, he started opening his mouth! As soon as we open our mouths to share the gospel we are putting ourselves on the front lines. The ultimate battle ground. the Lord immediately places his greatest weapons in our laps and our artillery load is enough to give us the resources we need. I have seen over and over again the difference between the members who do missionary work, and the ones who don't. It doesn't take a special person to share the gospel, but sharing the gospel sure does shape you into a better person. 

While teaching Randy about the pre-earth life, he explained to us how he studied it out a lot and still doesn't think we existed before this time. From his studies he concluded that God has always known OF us, that's how he chose us to be prophets and so on, but he never personally knew us. I found myself sharing Jeremiah 1:5 with him for the second time, 
5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
but then I coupled it with John 15:16,
16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
Pointing out that there is a huge difference between being "chosen" and being ordained (one can be a thought, the other you have to be there for) and Christ specifically said he ordained us before this life. It was like a bolt of truth had stuck everyone of us, I had never even thought of that concept before. It was very cool to see the spirit work. 

Okay, crazy story. I tried emailing Sister Gale something and instead of her missionary account coming up, her home account did! We were puzzled as to how that got in my contact, until we put 2 and 2 together. Before my mission Sister Gale had found my blog, emailed me, and asked for advice! When I replied to her, she showed it to her mom and by my response her mom made the comment that she and I would make excellent friends.
Flash forward and I'm her trainer! Hahaha 


So... Elderly people run this town. And we got invited by one of them to the rotary club meeting. We went, and I actually had no clue what all was involved to be a Rotarian but it actually was quite surprising to see all these wealthy business people giving of their time and money to help strengthen the community. I realized that if I want to make a substantive difference in society, I'm really going to have to push to reach my potential. Let's face it, the bigger your name the bigger your game. When I go home I want to make sure to keep a bigger perspective than just the day to day work. I want to aspire. President Spencer W. Kimball said, “We become more substantive as we serve others--indeed, it is easier to ‘find’ ourselves because there is so much more of us to find!” If I want to be able to give to others, it's important I make sure I have so,etching of myself to give! And it doesn't necessarily mean monetarily, but socially and emotionally and especially spiritually. I need to better myself not for myself, for therein lies linear growth. But for others, because that brings an exponential increase :). 

So I got all the info for coming home. I'll fly in by 12:50 to Seattle on Wednesday the 9th. Elder Lovell is my temporary companion. So funny, because we were friends before the mission and then served with each other throughout the mission, now we fly home! Small world! Haha. I'm trying to stay positive about it all, since I'm pretty sad about entering real life. 

I know I don't have much time left, but an email or letter would still mean a lot! jennifer.hochstrasser@myldsmail.net

 Love,

Sister Jennifer Hochstrasser 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Aug 17th: Miracles are happening here!

Howdy! 

Today I aim to focus mostly on the progress of my investigators and the food I've eaten. 
Okay really though, that's what I talk about every week X)

I think it can begin with the miracle of Mary and Michael. To make a long story short, they have been attending church for a long time now and have finally been able to live all the commandments. Because of past choices, we have to get special approval for their baptism. I'm just blown away by them though, they're probably more spiritual than half our Ward. Amazing people. So we called president and he said to contact his counselor and see if we can't get them interviewed. So we did, and the counselor said he could come down THAT NIGHT. Ok sweet. We also called bishop and he said we could meet and discuss the situation THAT NIGHT. So President's counselor drives like an hour and a half at 8 at night to interview Michael, and he passed! The NEXT DAY President had his request to the first presidency in the mail. Now we wait. Meanwhile, working through the bishop, we got approval for Mary to be baptized! Oh it's the coolest thing. They have this goal of being sealed in the temple ASAP. We have a goal to get them baptized ASAP!  Prayers that Michael comes back okay to be baptized too! :) 

We have been working with Randy who knows the Bible better than his preacher probably. After much study, he just received confirmation that we did indeed exist before this life :). Score! One principle at a time. He came to Gospel Principles Class (Sunday school) this week, too. 

I'm really grateful to serve in the Bible Belt. 

Brenda, a sweet lady with short-term memory loss, had an incredible experience recently. She said she reads her bible every morning, and after our visit she read it WITH the Book of Mormon. Just exuberant, she told us that she had had a really big break through! She said as she read the two together it was like a door opened and her burden was lifted off her shoulders. She wants to come to church and is so excited to keep reading. If having short-term memory isn't a good excuse for not reading your scriptures, I don't know what is. That was a great lesson to me. EVERYONE needs to read the word of God. 

So we went to contact a potential and the family seemed pretty nice. Then the wife got REALLY fired up about the Bible being the only thing we need and it's blasphemous to have anything else. Having learned all that I have about the scriptures, and particularly about their history in coming together as a book, it was incredibly interesting to watch this woman go off. I knew that despite her passion, she was uneducated. It's not even that she was misinformed. She was just totally uninformed. 
However, she was just so adamant about her point I knew it would be hopeless to try to teach her. I feel like that's how God sees me sometimes. He has so much more wisdom and perspective than I do, but unless I'm humble enough to hear it he won't bother making it known to me. 

Every six months we can go to the temple, so Sister Gale and I had the opportunity to go this week. While there, I prayed to know if I was doing what Heavenly Father wanted me to do. Particularly about my plans for going home. I wanted to know how I could be better, and express gratitude for my chance to serve. While in the Celestial room, I opened up the scriptures to these words:
(Keep in mind I'm heading straight to a church school after my mission and working on a student living counsel as well as my major) 

"And now, verily I say unto you, I give unto you a commandment that you continue in the ministry... And when you have finished... you shall from thenceforth preside over the affairs of the church and the school;
And from time to time, as shall be manifested by the Comforter, receive revelations to unfold the mysteries of the kingdom;
And set in order the churches, and study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people.
And this shall be your business and mission in all your lives, to preside in council, and set in order all the affairs of this church and kingdom.
Be not ashamed, neither confounded; but be admonished in all your high-mindedness and pride, for it bringeth a snare upon your souls.
Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another."
(Doctrine and Covenants 90: 12-17,24) 
Need I say more?

The temple was a wonderful experience. We brought our friend, Carol, whom we've been teaching and she was able to study in the waiting room while we did a session. She adored the place, and told us in the car she knows for herself it's all true. Carol was the wife of a Methodist minister for 25 years, and so the only thing keeping her from baptism is just making the choice to cut social ties at her church. She will lose friends and she will lose position, but I know she will make the right choice in the end. 

After the temple we went to the Wild Cow.... An AWESOME vegetarian restaurant in Nashville. This my friends, is sweet potato black bean tacos. It was fabulous. 

We've also been going to this place called the Yellow Deli. It's run by this religion called "the 12 Tribes". They live sort of like the Amish, and everything is from their gardens or local and home made. It's fabulous. They know us well there ;). Haha. 
 
We also went to another place that is all natural and local called Bliss, and we went with this guy! My investigator from Nashville totally took his Harley down to visit! It was a blast seeing him! 

I don't know if I've already told you this, but my area goes all the way down to the Alabama state line. So now I've served in Kentucky, Illinois, Tennesee, and practically Alabama! It's a huge area, and we need to get rides with members a lot to save us gas. One member who drove us to our district meeting out yonder was just quite the experience. Essentially she was so wrapped up ranting to us about how the insurance was paying for her denture implants we almost died several times... Hahaha

We had a miracle one day because we tried really hard to be obedient to our power hour (finding for 1 hour a day) and we just had so many set appointments we didn't have time. We prayed for it to work out but it just didn't seem possible. Then, our member who was coming with us at 8:00 canceled. We went by ourselves to our appointment. She opened the door.... And was sick! She canceled! We had exactly one hour left before it was time to go in... And we could use it for finding! :) it was awesome. 

We had dinner at Sue's kitchen which is a place everyone goes to for a big pot luck, live blue grass music, and line dancing. So fun. 

Doug was taught the plan of Salvation and loved it :). Miracles are happening here! 

Sister Hochstrasser 
Sister Jennifer Hochstrasser

Tennessee Nashville Mission 





Saturday, August 15, 2015

You better check yo' self!

"29 Wherefore, as ye are agents, ye are on the Lord’s errand; and whatever ye do according to the will of the Lord is the Lord’s business.
30 And he hath set you to provide for his saints in these last days, that they may obtain an inheritance in the land of Zion.
31 And behold, I, the Lord, declare unto you, and my words are sure and shall not fail, that they shall obtain it.
32 But all things must come to pass in their time.
33 Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.
34 Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days."
(Doctrine and Covenants 64) 

It's interesting to me how every time a member has to cancel on coming out with us, and we just can't seem to find a replacement, our investigators end up not even being home. Or when those we had planned to see don't work, but someone else is put in our path who is even more prepared. This seems to happen daily. And every time it boggles my mind how personally involved the Lord is with each individual hour of the day. 

"1 The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught." 
(Doctrine and Covenants 3) 

So I guess what I've learned is that if I'm frustrated, I should probably reevaluate whose work I'm doing- mine or the Lord's. 

Similarly, when my mouth spray tastes bad, I should probably reevaluate whose spray it is, mine, or my companions bug spray. #truestory

We had 18 member present lessons this week. It's Paducah all over again! Haha. It's so fun to see what happens when people put their friends and the missionaries together. For example, the Bishop had us over for dinner and also invited his friends. Sister Hughes (his wife) told us we could share a message, but just to make sure it was really simple because their friends already have a church and wouldn't be interested. So, Sister Gale and I followed their counsel and gave a brief message on the atonement (using the Bible and Book of Mormon). Their friends began to ask us questions to the surprise of the Hughes, and it totally opened the door for a whole lot of missionary work! "Well..." Began Bishop Hughes, "in the spring of 1820 there was a young boy by the name of Joseph Smith living in upstate New York" 
They TOTALLY taught them the first discussion on their own, and their friends were super receptive! It was a miracle to see. They agreed to come to church to see me speak in a few weeks, and happily took a copy of the Book of Mormon. :) 

We also went to breakfast on the square with Brother Caudle again. He brought his friend Jeff, who is a reverend in the Methodist church. He studies from the Book of Mormon using Hugh Nibley and a few other commentators almost every morning- and even owns a Preach My Gospel and Jesus the Christ! He says it started as a curiosity, and now he's just trying to figure things out- because joining our faith would go back on his whole life's work. He says he knows more than the missionaries who have tried to teach him, so I'm excited to work with him especially. 

I had the privilege to go on splits with some young women this week. Baylee drove me around... And around and around.... I think we did like 15 U-turns and she even drove on the off ramp of the free way once. Hahaha
  

Our Zone conference was this week. It was so strange giving my departing testimony in front of the zones (it's tradition that the missionaries going home bare it). It was really cool though to just sit in the audience and listen to the trainings instead of being the one giving them! Especially because my Sister Training Leader is Sister Kohler!! We had to get a posterity picture of course :) 



As usual, it was so fun seeing some of my mission friends. Sister Oldroyd, Elder Keys, Elder Sheffield, Sister Kohler, and the Hermanas to name a few. Some of them I said bye to and won't see again until we both are in pants! How strange! 

Speaking of strange, check out this rusting gas station bathroom we had to use... 

Back to zone conference though, President gave a stellar training in the importance of being exactly obedient. He shared instances in the scriptures where God commanded someone to do something specifically, and then they would only partly do it and change the rest because it made more sense. Like when God told Uzza in 1st chronicles 13 not to touch the ark but then they sort of stumbled so Uzza reached out to try to catch the ark and died. Hahaha it's an extreme example, but in 1st Samuel 15 Samuel it says "to obey is better than sacrifice".  How can that be? Well, because all the things we have to sacrifice to the Lord (time, money, etc) already belongs to him! The only thing that doesn't belong to him is our will, and we give him our will through exact obedience. 

It was a good reminder and helped me to check myself, much like the people that Alma and Amulek saw while they were on their mission. 
"17 Therefore, after Alma having established the church at Sidom, seeing a great check, yea, seeing that the people were checked as to the pride of their hearts, and began to humble themselves before God, and began to assemble themselves together at their sanctuaries to worship God before the altar, watching and praying continually, that they might be delivered from Satan, and from death, and from destruction--" (Alma 15)

It's like my aunt used to always say, "you better check yo'self before you wreck yo'self!"

These 2 missionaries have been great examples to me of exact obedience. Like when their investigator, Zeezrom, calls to them and asks them to come visit, it says
"he sent a message immediately unto them, desiring them to come unto him.
And it came to pass that they went immediately, obeying the message which he had sent unto them; and they went in unto the house unto Zeezrom" (Alma 15:4-5)

I just think it's so cool that even without it being a command from the Lord, it was in their very nature to be exactly obedient! In this area of Lawrenceburg there are just miracles waiting to happen, so I can't afford not to be obedient because we need so badly for the will of the Lord to be accomplished here! 

We are presently working closely with Doug, and also with Randy. There are many others, but if you would remember them in your prayers especially that would be great. 

There's also a less active lady, Sister Hill, who we taught the word of wisdom to this week. We actually didn't mean to, we were going to visit her granddaughter but she was just home and the spirit prompted us to teach her. We committed her to pray every time she smoked a cigarette, and she said she would. At church the next day she leaned over and told me that after we left she smoked one last cigarette and hadn't picked up another since. It was so sweet to see, I just know it's because she had felt our love and Gods love in that lesson, and love is the greatest motivator! Our Sunday school lesson was on the word of wisdom also. Go figure. 

One member we went out with this week is a Hispanic woman named Sister Lindsey. She taught me a valuable lesson. When she was raised, she was taught to give everything that she likes away. She told me, "and if you're not willing to give so, etching away, you don't deserve to have it". I thought that was powerful. 
It's much like the gospel. Sister Lindsey has helped many people come into the church because she is willing to give her testimony and her religion away to others. She of all people, deserves to have it. 

There's another selfless lady we met, Miss Denise, who we are helping to serve every week. She quit her job to work at this place called the "coffee house". It's actually a God centered hang out spot for kids in the community. It thrives off of donations, and the price of food is only enough to buy more food. Many people in this town remember growing up there, reading books and eating pizza and running around playing. It's really cool and the theme of it is "child of God".

I think my favorite hang out spot currently is Wendy's.... You can get a small frosty and 4 chicken nuggets for like $2. 
Sister Gale and I were at Wendy's one day just dying with laughter over the names of our take-out frozen yogurt company we're "going" to start at BYU-Provo one day. We were thinking either "Country 'gurt" or "YOLO FROYO". We're open to suggestions ;) hahaha

So I just want to point out that I'm definitely still in the South. A naked baby came and showed me a tick she had pulled out of her brother that morning. I became very paranoid about walking in grass after that. Also, everyone and their dog owns a confederate flag. 

Despite all the craziness, I know the church is true and I know the only way to know is through trying it out by obedience! (See D&C 93:24-28)

Sure love ya'll!

Sister Hochstrasser
Tennessee Nashville Mission
1646 Sunset Rd
Brentwood, TN 37027






Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Lawrenceburg

I'm sure you've all been dying to know about all the change! Well, I know I've at least been dying to tell you! :)

First off, I wanted to clarify something I said last week. I do understand that the only way to return to live with our Father in Heaven is through the gospel of Jesus Christ which includes faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism by the priesthood for the remission of sins, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. It's a plan for all of Gods children, and it's something that literally everyone will have had a chance to accept or reject before judgement. I just love that the gospel is the way for everyone, no matter who or where they are. 
In the words of Elder Maxwell:
Another cosmic fact: only by aligning our wills with God’s is full happiness to be found. Anything less results in a lesser portion (see Alma 12:10–11). The Lord will work with us even if, at first, we “can no more than desire” but are willing to “give place for a portion of [His] words” (Alma 32:27).
  

Okay anyway, WELCOME TO WEEK 1 IN LAWRENCEBURG. 
As you can see, I'm serving on the polar opposite end of the earth from everywhere I've ever been. Sparta in the north east, Paducah Kentucky way up north, Nashville right in the middle, and now Lawrenceburg - all the way down to the 'Bama state line! (That's Alabama for you city folk). 


It's SO fun here. I'm totally back in the sticks; Where everyone is kin, you don't see vegetables for miles around (unless you count macaroni and cheese), when someone tells you they're all ate up it means they're excited, not full! And nobody flosses, and 2 sister missionaries stick out like a sore thumb.

It began when I got Sister Gale, my newest most cutest companion. Sister Gale is from Portland, Oregon. Here's us :)
video

The transfer meeting was awesome. You can tell I'm at the end because I know everyone now, whereas the beginning of my mission I had no friends yet. 

The famous Nashville Leaders goodbye pic (Ft Elder Nez, Golightly, Myself and Sister Miller)
I also got the news that I have an AWESOME job lined up for me back home working on the housing and student living council at BYUI. It was all a miracle in itself even getting it since I can't really look for opportunities like that right now. Thanks again to Jason and Bro. Burton for all of their help! :)

So after getting to our area we had district meeting in Hohenwald (also nicknamed "hole in the wall"). We are the only sisters in the whole district. Before us it was just elders. So the whole thing was a little awkward because I don't think any of the missionaries knew what to do with us... Hahaha. It's not like Nashville zone where we are all great friends--everyone is so spread out here so you can't really form friendships unless you try extra hard. Which is fine by me because Sister Gale and our Savior are all one really needs in life ;) 

Upon looking through our area book, we quickly learned that it was six times the size that it should be, and it had been about six months since anyone had been visited. Literally no lessons were being taught. Oh it hurts my heart! I think what makes it worse is that this area is golden. This week Heavenly Father got us 18 promising new investigators, 5 people progressing, and had 6 investigators at church... We'd been here 4 1/2 days! [Sounds like they are going to transform this place like they did Sparta!]
  
Sister Gale and I are actually the first sister missionaries in Larenceburg in 15 YEARS. Needless to say, everyone is really excited. We were invited to the town rotary meeting to get our picture taken so we can be put in the paper next week, and the Ward was just so "ate up" with us that's all the testimonies and classes seemed to be about! 

Our first dinner was with Sister Licquia. She actually bought us a welcome gift... How sweet!

We taught her the restoration, and during it I felt something different inside me when I taught the priesthood part. I'd taught it lots of times, but this time I know it was the spirit witnessing the truth of what I said.

Of all the 18 investigators we found, the ones I'm most excited about are Doug and Katrina, our neighbors! When we taught them the first lesson, they were astonished. They thought Joseph Smith's first vision and the Book of Mormon were incredible. As I shared my testimony with them I started crying. Again, something I haven't really done on my mission when I teach. This is a really special place you guys. The spirit here is really strong. And people feel that. 

We are also teaching Luis, who is Hispanic. We can't communicate hardly at all. I had the great idea to teach him English using the Spanish and English restoration pamphlets.... But I learned really quick it's hard to teach your language to a person when you don't understand their language. We were able to help Luis learn how to pray though, and he committed to pray daily and be at church on Sunday :). 

I just feel like Ammon right now when he saw the Lamanites being converted...
"Now [Sister Hochstrasser and Gale,] seeing the Spirit of the Lord poured out according to their prayers upon [Lawrenceburg] ... who had been the cause of so much mourning among the [Missionaries] , or among all the people of God because of their iniquities and their traditions [because they had not been preached the gospel], they fell upon their knees, and began to pour out their soul in prayer and thanksgiving to God for what he had done for their brethren; and they were also overpowered with joy; and thus they [two] had sunk to the earth."

God is so good. I am so humbled at what he does and how much he cares. I, like John the Baptist, am unworthy to even unlatch his shoe.... Yet he would come down and wash my feet. 
He has given me more than I could've asked out of my mission. And I know that he will continue to provide for me even after this if I am consecrated and faithful. 

Saturday morning I went back in time to "The Square". In the center of Lawrenceburg is an old square with different shops and blues bands playing and people selling homemade jam and veggies from their gardens. Every Saturday morning all the old folk gather at the square for breakfast and to catch up on gossip and reminisce on old times. Brother Caudle, an author and lawyer, invited us to join him so he could introduce us to his friends. We had a Methodist minister, a Jewish person, and the town's news photographer just to name a few of the bunch. We had grits, biscuits and gravy, hot cakes, the whole deal. It was so old fashioned and southern I could hardly stand it [I think she was all ate up]! I love this town! 

My embarrassing moment of the week was locking the keys in the house. Our neighbor, Linda, who looks like the girl off of hairspray, brought her Kroger card over and got the lock undone for us. It was pretty funny. 
Also, I have pretty petite hands so my whole mission my companions have to open jars for me. Well, Sister Gale can't open things either so we are just kind of a mess over here. 
The struggle was real with the salsa this morning. But that's okay because the atonement is more real. :) 
I'm so grateful for those who have supported me even to this point. I know I don't have much more than a month left, but I would still love letters and emails from all ya'll :) jennifer.hochstrasser@myldsmail.net

1646 Sunset Rd
Brentwood, TN 37027

Good luck on your side of the vineyard!

Sister Jennifer Hochstrasser 

P.s. Check. Out. Our. Car. 


Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Last Leg!

So we totally spaced on making a plan for 6:00pm. We were just sitting out in our courtyard making calls and trying to do some administrative stuff when this young couple walks up to us. They introduce themselves and explain that they just moved here, and are looking for a church. They say they're "floaters" because no religion follows the Bible quite like they think they should. Like, they believe baptism is essential, but what about those who don't know about Christ? The Bible speaks of a "spirit prison" that Christ preached to, but that's so vague! And really, we shouldn't be drinking harmful or addictive substances like coffee and alcohol, right? 
Sister Miller and I jumped on that one so fast. She ran into the house to grab a Book of Mormon while I started teaching the plan of salvation. Families can be together forever? That's so cool!
They were a miracle family you guys. Fell straight from the sky into our lap. 

This encounter made us a little late to our lesson with Kristen, but she was understanding. We brought a member with us that kind of took over the lesson a little, we prayed a lot that it would begin to reel back in. Kristen has a special way of looking at spiritual things, and she spent most of the meeting defending her beliefs. What was amazing was that through this, Sister Miller and I had our eyes open to the fact that she's not necessarily wrong. Her understanding of how the gospel works isn't a concept I was raised on, but we haven't been given anything to contradict it. It's okay if she wants to believe how she does, as long as it doesn't conflict with her forming a personal relationship with God. I think for once, Kristen finally felt understood and ready to move forward. For over a year now missionaries have been trying to show her that her viewpoints don't work because they're not ours. That night, the spirit told us to just keep reading the Book of Mormon with her and everything else will fall into place. Heavenly Father is okay with where she's at. 

"This is the principle on which the government of Heaven is conducted- by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed" (Joseph Smith)

It was the same sort of situation with the Hindu family we are teaching. (Shout out to Ezra Anderson for his awesome insights on working with people from India!) Right now, they just need the basics, and I wouldn't be surprised if they find that their understanding of spirituality is just more truth being added to than being taken away. 
We all have the light of Christ, and we all once learned the same gospel. 

We taught two people this week that agreed to be baptized. Cory and Kenton. It was really exciting. 
We also had like 5 investigators at church! Lu, Nancy and her boyfriend, and Sister Yates just to name a few :). It's been awhile since we've seen that many. I gave a talk on the atonement, and also said goodbye to the ward. There was lots of hugs and crying, that's for sure. This place has become my home. I mean, they all become my home, but really- I would love to come back here to actually live someday. It's been a blessing to serve here.

After committing Kenton to be baptized, President called and confirmed what I already was feeling. Time to grow a little more. He asked me to go white wash an area, and train a new missionary out in the country (Laurenceburg, TN) for my last 6 weeks. 
It's kind of funny to watch my mission come full circle. A year and a half ago I was in redneck territory, a brand new missionary, training a brand new missionary. 
I'm excited to do that again, this time having learned and become so much more. I've never white washed before (gone in not having either of us know the area), so I'm really excited to try that out. I feel like I learned so much with Sister Miller, and I can't wait to learn more from my trainee :) 

It was Sister Millers birthday on Sunday, so this whole week I helped surprise her with a party at  every members house. And every time, she totally didn't expect it! It was so fun! Now, I'm wayyy too full of fancy expensive foods and cake! Lol. We even have a friend from Iraq/Iran/Pakistan who made us food from her countries :).



One especially fancy meal was with the Schussles. Mike isn't too happy I'm leaving, but he said he'd come out with his wife and take me to lunch in my new area. Lol. I can't wait for him to be baptized one day :) 
  
I think of all people though, I'm really glad I got to meet Mr. Tony Stark. He has made some amazing strides with his life which has been a blessing for me to see. In gospel principles we had a lesson on service. At the end, he shared his testimony. Letting us know he doesn't usually get emotional, He said that ever since God put the missionaries in his life, he has read the Book of Mormon. He's prayed to Heavenly Father more often in these few weeks than in the last 10 years of his life. He's come to church more in the past 2 months than in the past 20 years. He said he believes God sends angels to help us all, and this time those Angels were us. For once in his life he feels like he has a conscious, he thinks twice before doing something wrong. 
Then, looking at me, he said he doesn't usually miss people or anything, but he is really going to miss me. 
It was a tender moment for the whole class, watching this prodigal sons journey coming home. Tony later told me that when I spoke on the Atonement, he cried for the first time in a long time. 

In this area I've learned that there are people where God is just like, okay with where they're at right now. Like God understands where Tony is at and he's okay with it. God understands where Kristen is at and he's okay with it. Gods also okay with me where I'm at.... We all have these very different paths leading us.... So why does it even matter which one we are on if they're all going to be different and he's understanding and aware and using it to bring them to him? Why have I given up 18months to convince people that my path is better for them? Is it? Not really. 

But the gospel of Jesus Christ doesn't have to be just one life path. It's the way for all paths. I'm here to show people that what I've used in my life (the atonement) has pulled me to a very straight and narrow way leading right to Christ. It's the easiest, happiest, most fulfilling way to move forward. And it's the only path leading to God. So others may be on these windy paths that God's understanding of and won't condemn them for, but if they will incorporate the gospel of Jesus Christ, they will find that He pulls them to the straight and narrow in their own way.
I also believe he lets people stay off the straight path for a bit so they can reach people often too far for those at the iron rod to grab hold of and help. Being that far out perhaps gives them a strength they can use to better help move everyone else forward one day. I don't know. All I know is Christ loves Tony and Kristen and all of these people, and he's taking care of them. They will be okay in the end because of the atonement. I love them both so it means a lot to me to know that they'll be okay. We are safe and protected in His arms. 

"Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him--
Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;
Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life."
(Doctrine and Covenants 45:3-5)


Sister Jennifer Hochstrasser            WRITE TO ME! You have a month :) Note the new address!
Tennessee Nashville Mission 
1646 Sunset Road
Brentwood, TN 37027