Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Saltine Crackers and Icecream

This week I've definitely felt Satan trying to bring down the missionaries with negative thoughts. Especially when we're NOT busy in the work. The cool thing is that whenever I find myself feeling discouraged because of a lack of success, I say a prayer and then ALWAYS see a miracle directly after. One such instance was last Tuesday. I was feeling especially down as we went to go find a less active family that no one had ever really seen before. No body was talking to us that day or was home. We got there and a Mexican woman answered the door. She doesn't understand English well, but we did our best to teach her the restoration lesson in which she treated like it was all new information. Luckily, none of our language barriers were able to hold back the language of the spirit. She told us she was about to be going into surgery for her kidney stones and then she was to have an interview for a new job. She said that we basically were sent by God and we had helped give her the strength she would need to do these things. We weren't able to leave her with anything or any assignment because all of our materials were in English. As we got up to leave, Sister Pinkston noticed something on the table. The little boy told us a "church person" had dropped it off just this morning, and his mom hadn't seen it yet. It was a pamphlet of the restoration, the lesson we had just taught, IN SPANISH!! I know that this was God's way of reminding me that I'm here in Sparta Tennessee for a very specific reason. And I wouldn't doubt if it was an angel that had dropped that pamphlet off for her that day.

Another great miracle was in helping a less active family that I love so much, come to obey the word of wisdom. I've never had to help anyone out of an addiction, so I was REALLY nervous and uncomfortable.
But luckily, the spirit was the teacher and we've been able to see them move away from their sins and come back to church and it's just so great!

It's crazy to me to see how differently people live their lives compared to what I've grown up with. It makes me so grateful to be a part of a family that is so strong in the gospel and to have grown up seeing the example of a selfless mother and some great church leaders.
I may not technically be on a foreign mission, but it sure feels like I could call it that! The people here who are unhappy and aren't going to church are the ones who feel sorry for themselves. EVERYBODY seems to have a health problem. Lately, I've liked to share my own experience with pushing past my health issues (fibromyalgia) to be able to serve the Lord. I knew that this was something he wanted me to do, and so I took the leap of faith and decided to serve a mission.
The night that I was set apart, President Warning blessed me to have full health while I was gone. He had no idea about my physical trials, but since that blessing I have been doing AMAZING. Moroni 7:33 is one of my favorite scriptures. It says that if you have faith, you will have the power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in Him. It's like you're a child standing at the edge of the pool, with your daddy in the water asking you to jump. You don't want to, you're scared, but he tells you trust him. Eventually you take that leap of faith, and he ALWAYS catches you in his arms. Safely and soundly. It's the same with doing anything that God asks us to do. Small things like paying tithing and going to church especially. Faith always precedes the miracle. And Faith without works is dead. So if we muster up a little courage, exercising a tiny bit of faith, we will have the power to do whatever it is He asks of us.
So I'm sure all ya'll are wondering "what the heck" about my title. We had dinner with the Tucker family (the family with all the birds that I mentioned last week) and for dessert they most definitely served us saltine crackers with icecream. I was pretty skeptical and sketched out about it, but I was brave and gave it a try. It probably ended up being the most AMAZING thing that I've ever had. Weird, right? So now that you're really curious and in no way going to trust what I'm saying, it's your turn to try it for yourselves! Go grab a spoonful of vanilla icecream and plop it on a saltine. Then prepare to have your mind blown.

I've come to find that stores are the BEST PLACE for anyone to be a missionary at. If you go to a store at night, there's always those people standing bored at the register with nothing to do. They're lonely and are up for talking. Little do they realize they're about to be trapped into learning all about something they probably didn't even know existed! We've given out a lot of Books of Mormon that way to people who are sincerely interested. My challenge for those who have been praying for a missionary experience, is to never go into a store with out a fresh copy of the Book of Mormon IN YOUR HAND. Make sure to put the missionaries number, the church's time and address, mormon.org, and even your own testimony on the inside cover. Then, in the words of Edna Mode from The Incredibles, "Go, Fight, WIN!!! (and call me when you back from that darling I'd love to chat sometime)".
Even though you can't call me, for sure write me and tell me all about your experience! I'll be sure to keep an extra place in my prayers for you and your success with the challenge.

Yesterday at church was SO exciting! Remember how I'm just in this tiny little branch that covers every person who lives within like 35 minutes of Sparta? And how we can't have a building until we get our numbers up? WE HAD OVER 125 PEOPLE THIS WEEK! Since I've got here there has been a great increase in activity in the church. A member told me they used to get about 80, when I arrived there was 109, now we're doing great and I expect it to keep growing. They plan to lay down the grounds for our building in 2 months time. I'm so excited! I think our biggest thing right now is less active members. I've found that teaching about the sacrament seems to be the biggest motivator for those who aren't coming to church. The sacrament is the most important part of church, it's the reason we go! It's the only meeting where families are together. I think this is no coincidence. When we partake of the sacrament, we are doing that ordinance which allows us to return to live with our Heavenly Father so that we CAN be together with our families FOREVER. We are renewing the covenants we made at baptism and showing to our Heavenly Father our WILLINGNESS to follow Jesus Christ. It's a commandment that even when Jesus Christ was on the earth He made known and bore testimony of.

Nobody here has been mean so far, and nobody wants to bible bash either. I think it helps being cute little Sister missionaries instead of Elders haha. Also, when I teach I like to quote the bible and show references from the New Testament A LOT. It gets to the point where I could just make up a scripture and say it was in the bible and nobody would question me. Granted, I would NEVER EVER do that. There's also nothing for me to need to make up because the Bible literally is like a flashing sign saying "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has the restored gospel of Jesus Christ". Just as the New Testament does not take away the value of the Old Testament. Neither does the Book of Mormon ANOTHER Testament of Jesus Christ, take away from the New Testament. The Book of Mormon and the Bible are companions and they go hand in hand with one another. Just like in Ezekial 37.

So basically I love my companion, I love this tiny branch, I love the scriptures, I love letters, and I love anyone who took the time to read this. The support and prayers being sent my way are getting put to good use. I feel there power everyday.

From your friend over in the middle of nowhere,

Sister Hochstrasser
Basically there's a church or two on every street.... This never gets old.

We went to a restaurant where I ordered what I thought would be vegetables..... I guess when I think "fresh" they think "fried" haha

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