Monday, April 14, 2014

What's Your Game Plan?

I was in an appointment this week when the lady we were teaching pointed at me and prophetically declared I was to be an accountant. I hate math. I think you'll find that out here in the land of Sparta, there are a LOT of  "interesting" ideas and ways of life. Let us begin.

While driving around the middle of no-where, my companion had a prompting to go off onto a random path. We came across an old house with a TOILET in their front lawn. It was being used as a pot... (ha, get it?!)

The man that owned the house was an old cattle farmer in some fleece camo pants and he had crazy yellow eyes. He asked if we were JW's, and I guess it was a good thing we weren't because he bred mean dogs and we would've gotten to meet them. Despite the threat, we shared who we were and set an actual return with the man. I'm pretty excited to go back and see all the ancient Indian artifacts he says he collects. I guess he's named all of his kids after great Indian warriors... lol.

That same day I was asked by another investigator if Sister Pinkston was my daughter.... *eye roll*. Most people just think we're like 15 so I have NO idea what was going through that investigator's mind. Oh and yesterday I was told that I had a green aura. I thought that was pretty cool, until the same man asked my companion if she could move things with her mind.

The greatest one of all though was going out to see a 70 year old less active with 14 dogs, 2 deer, and a freshly caught MOUSE. We found her on her way out the door. She had a crazy look in her eye and was holding a giant cookie tin. We could here scampering inside of it. She told us she was going to feed it some dog food and then let it out into the field... during that visit we did get to squeeze a prayer in with her, despite all the  random conversations...

We got to attend the trainer/trainee meeting on Friday. It was SO awesome getting to see all those missionaries! It was nice to catch up with old friends like Elder Lovell, and new ones like Sister Clyde! Of course, nothing can beat seeing my MTC district. They are seriously like family to me. Did I ever mention the time in the MTC the elders in my district took on the role of big brother for me? haha... it's a great story. There was an elder next door who was always trying to talk to our district and he would leave weird notes on the white board for me and he was just kind of immature. I talked to him a few times but we never really hung out or anything because obviously, it's a missionary training center not a find-a-mate dating center. I guess he seemed to forget that because one morning at breakfast he gave me this pass along card with a poem on it about why he's awesome and then his email. I promptly told him I was there to be a missionary,and with feigned surprise, he declared the same. I showed it to my district and asked them what I should do. Without hesitation, the 3 elders got up, took the card, and much like an intimidating gang walked over to the elder who had previously talked to me. Now, get this in your minds eye: On the left was Elder Fennwick, he's got spiky hair, glasses and is extremely intelligent. On the right was Elder Brown, he's about 2.5 people thick and could easily win in a wrestling match. Then, in the center is Elder Nez, this over 6 foot stoic Indian man who doesn't like ANYBODY messing with his district. Now picture a poor elder with wide eyes and a nervous smile standing in front of them, trying to deny his attempted pick-up of one of their sisters. My district elders gave the card back to the scared looking elder and told him they didn't appreciate him flirting with our district.....   I don't think he'll be doing much of that again.
HAHA but yeah, that's how much of a family our district is :).

 It is sad to see missionaries out here who aren't focused on their calling though. In the trainer/trainee meeting we talked a lot about obedience. I came up with my own motto to help me stay obedient :).
While sin isn't always purposeful, It is always preventable.
As missionaries, we can't afford NOT to be obedient. We need the blessings too badly to waste any opportunity of receiving them. There are always things we can do, game plans we can make, to keep us from letting temptation through our door. Speaking of game plans and the spirit, it's important we teach BY the spirit so that we can be guided as to how to best help our investigators. Such as this Saturday when we taught Savanna, a 12 year old tom-boy, who doesn't like to keep commitments. Sister Pinkston and I were struggling with what to teach her, when suddenly it came to me.Football. We created a lesson based off around football and how God, our coach, is sending out his best quarter back, Jesus Christ, and his greatest receiver, the spirit, to help us win OUR game. We may take hits, but if we follow the game plan, we'll have a touch down in no time. We came up with "Savanna's game plan" and helped her make the commitment to do things everyday to help her better play in the field of life. After the lesson, we went to go play soccer with her for a few minutes. Before heading out, I noticed she had placed the game plan we had created for her inside her baseball mitt (we taught outside). I couldn't help but snap a quick picture to show all of you!

It's so important as a missionary that you always help those you teach come up with their own game plan. We taught a less active family to get excited about the Book of Mormon just last night, and were able to get them to create their own game plan for how they can read it every day. The dad enthusiastically declared they could do it at dinner while the family was all together. The daughter asked if instead of looking at the Book of Mormon story book we were leaving them with (they have a ton of younger kids) she could just have her own regular copy, and the son who is 9 years old, told us he is ready to be baptized!! I sure wish every family could feel that same excitement and commitment for progressing in the gospel.

Sadly though, there are some families who instead of taking steps forward, are quickly sliding backward. I never fully understood this scripture until this week:
"And others he will pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: all is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well- and thus the devil cheateth their souls and leadeth them away carefully down to hell" -2nd Nephi 28:21

It's not appropriate for me to go into detail, but I just want all of you to know that there is no such thing as being at a stand still. We are either moving up, or we are moving down. This family who was once so strong and who had been through the temple and all been baptized, could not even tell me who Joseph Smith saw in the first vision. They tried to assure us that they were still strong in their faith and they knew our church was true, but that God was leading them over to this other church to help it out. They told us of the things that were taking place in this church, and as they spoke I could feel the spirit literally drain out of the room. I felt so sick. As we left that home I couldn't help but just cry at how terrible it was that this family had become so lost. They were being lulled away by the devil, told that it doesn't matter what you do so long as you recognize Jesus as your Savior you're fine. I testify that this is not true.

There are things our Savior and our Heavenly Father have asked us to do, and as we make covenants, or promises, with God, we are expected to stick to them. What man makes a promise that he will behave one way, and then goes and does the opposite? As we come to know the truth of the message of Jesus Christ, it is our choice to accept and act on it. We are held accountable for the things that we know. Just like at school. As a first grader, does the teacher expect you to solve an algebraic equation? No! It hasn't been taught. However as a seventh grader, you sure are expected to solve that algebraic equation because it's something you have learned. It is the same with us. As we progress in our spiritual knowledge and growth, we will be expected to apply the things that we learn into our lives as we prepare to one day meet and dwell with God. It's not hard, it's wonderful. It brings peace and joy. It is for every one of God's children because He loves them and wants them to return to his presence.

I have a great testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints because I know that Jesus Christ is the head of it. I know that the same church that Christ established when he was on the earth, has been restored today by a loving Heavenly Father through a living prophet.
I pray that we will come to know the truth of this great gospel for ourselves, and that as we do we will be able to recognize God's game plan for us and we will become avid players so that we can all win the game that leads to eternal life.

Your friend,
Sister Hochstrasser

Sister Jennifer Hochstrasser
Tennessee Nashville Mission
105 West Park Drive Ste 190
Brentwood, TN 37027

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