Monday, May 19, 2014

All Creatures of Our God and King

2nd Nephi 4:19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.
20 My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath  preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.
21 He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.

Sometimes I wonder what on earth I did to deserve such a blessed life...
Tennessee is just beautiful! Sister Pinkston and I saw fireflies for the first time! They're nothing like the cartoons where it's a yellow light that just glows all night. They're more like those white Christmas lights that flash. They make the trees glitter and the fields sparkle. When we first saw them, the lady we were with thought we were nuts... I guess it's just something everyone else takes for granted around here.

We got some new rules for the mission this week. So of course, I've been way excited because more ways to be obedient means more blessings! Some of the new rules included tracting every day for an hour, and reading the Book of Mormon daily for a half hour. As we've followed these daily, Sister Pinkston and I have seen some awesome results. In fact, most missionaries wouldn't believe me if I told them that tracting/contacting was my favorite hour of the day, but it is true! I love it! It's always so fun for some reason, I honestly couldn't tell you why. It just makes me feel like a REAL missionary. We've had some great experiences finding. We went out last Tuesday to go teach a lesson before we began our hour of tracting. She wasn't home though. As we were leaving, I noticed a young man sitting on his front porch holding a mug and wearing a snapback. He watched our car go by and I sort of thought about the day he would be committed to baptism. I began feeling uneasy the further away we got, and I addressed my concern with my companion. She turned the car back around, but by that time he was gone. We sat debating what to do, and decided to ask God for guidance. We didn't get any impressions, so we just determined to leave and go back to our original plans. We talked about the things that had just transpired on our way, and Sister Pinkston mentioned she had felt the spirit when I told her about the young man I saw. "YOU FELT THE SPIRIT AND YOU DIDN'T SAY SOMETHING?!" I proclaimed. SO, looks like we got our answer after all. We turned around and the whole time I just felt really happy and relieved. I knew we were making the right choice. As we parked the car back in his neighborhood, we finally saw him back out and went over to talk with him. We gave him a Book of Mormon, and it was actually really special to see it in his hands. If we hadn't been planning to go do our hour of finding, we would have NEVER met this young man. If we hadn't listened to the spirit, he would have never met us!

Aside from obedience to tracting an hour every day, obedience to reading the Book of Mormon has proven  handy as well. For one, while reading the other day I felt an impression to share a verse I had come across with an investigator. We went to their house and before we even opened the scriptures, the investigator was talking to us about this great verse they had found that gave them a lot of strength. It was the same verse I was going to share!!
Another example is while we were out tracting, we ran into a lady whose husband is a Baptist preacher. AKA, "not interested". We continued to talk with her and she began to tell us about this Christian homeschool program her kids were doing. I thought this was going to be a perfect transition into teaching her about how families are important and can be together forever. I prayed for confirmation, but instead the spirit told me I needed to teach the Book of Mormon. I quoted to her John 10:16, about how Christ said there are other sheep of His fold that he must bring so that they can be under one fold and one shepherd. I explained to her how Christ fulfilled this when he went to the Americas, as recorded in the Book of Mormon. The lady got kind of excited, because she said they had just studied that in bible class yesterday. She said it was referring to the people from the tower of babel. We told her of a family who lived during that time in that place that moved to the Americas, that she could read about in the Book of Mormon (referencing the Jaradites in the Book of Ether). She got excited and her heart softened. She allowed us to mark a chapter for her, and leave her with her own copy of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon just brings the most powerful spirit! I love it.

Saturday, we went to a family’s house that we usually have trouble teaching because they have so many rowdy kids. We pulled out the "Book of Mormon Stories" picture book, and somehow got all of them to sit on the couch and listen. Each child took turns reading a section about Joseph Smith and how he found the Book of Mormon. They were fascinated by it, and all had a very clear understanding. It was probably the most quiet and reverent I had ever seen them. The spirit was so strong as their mother began to teach them, and each child took turns reading about Joseph Smith. This gospel blesses families. The Book of Mormon is a key resource that we have to do so.

Not only does it bless families in this life, but it also blesses families that are in the next. Do you remember Sister Jones, the less active we have been working with? This week we arranged for her to come to the library and begin doing family history. We were able to get family names prepared for the temple, and next week both her dad and sister will have their first ordinance done in the temple! Sister Jones is also preparing to take out her endowments, and had an interview just this Sunday for them! After we finish helping her make her temple covenants, we will then help her receive her patriarchal blessing. :D

I sometimes reflect back to the inspiration speaker Dan Clark that we heard from last transfer meeting. He told of a man who got up in front of the congregation and shared a part of his patriarchal blessing. It told him that he WOULD have joined the church sooner, if not for the young man that chose not to serve a mission. How scary would it be to miss out on helping that one person come unto Christ that you were meant to? I'm so glad I'm on a mission, and I'm grateful for the knowledge I have that THIS is where I'm supposed to be, and these people are the ones I'm supposed to be with. It's amazing to see Gods hand in the lives of those we teach. One example is when we went to teach a lesson to a single man. The member we were going to go with canceled, which means we can't go inside the house to teach him by ourselves. We thought we'd just teach him on his front porch, when it started raining cats and dogs on the drive over. We prayed for a miracle, and lo and behold the rain stopped! We were able to teach him, and we had a great lesson. So many people here are prepared for the gospel. Our numbers in church have been going up, and I have full faith that we'll be getting a building in not time!!

So I don't think I've shared any funny stories yet...
One day Sister Pinkston and I were on our way home. Along the way, we saw a little girl sitting lonely on the sidewalk. I crouched down beside her and asked her name. She seemed so sad, so I decided I was going to change that. We sat on the sidewalk with her, and I showed her how to tie clover flowers together to make bracelets. Her little eyes lit up and she was so excited. She proudly wore her flower bracelet and thanked us for being her friend. As we got up to leave, we got a call. It was an investigator. She was freaking out because she thought she was pregnant. This investigator is so sweet, and has been housing a homeless lady. The homeless lady had noticed some symptoms in our investigator that she said related to pregnancy. To know for sure if our investigator was, the homeless lady told her she needed to pee in bleach. She said if it fizzed, that meant she was pregnant. We rushed to the investigators house to find her practically having a melt down over this. She had peed in bleach, and it had fizzed.  We talked to the homeless lady and she said SHE had peed in it, and nothing had happened. The investigator was on the phone with her doctor frantically trying to make an appointment. Meanwhile, Sister Pinkston and I tried pouring apple juice in the bleach to see if the acid would make it fizz. Nothing happened. When the investigator got off the phone she singled me out and said now I had to urinate in the bleach. Joy. ... Several minutes later I returned from the bathroom and announced the results. I too, was pregnant. Everyone heaved a sigh of relief, the so called "home pregnancy test" the homeless lady had shared was fake. We questioned her further and found out that when SHE had tried the test, she had only slightly urinated... (if even at all). So of COURSE nothing was going to happen. I don't suggest trying this out as a science experiment. Just take my word for it. If you put urine in bleach, it'll fizz. It doesn't mean you're pregnant. It doesn't mean you're going to die. It doesn't mean anything.... hahaha

And if that wasn't crazy enough for one day, on our way from our investigators house we saw 4 young boys gawking at a tree. They called us over and showed us this squirrel frozen on the tree. They said it had 2 broken legs, and that it had fallen off the tree and hit its head but was now scared and trying to return back up it. We all watched as the helpless squirrel tried to make its way up the tree with only the use of its hands. We taught the children about the importance of being kind to animals, and all developed a good friendship. It was pretty sad though. I've never seen a squirrel with legs that didn't work.
You Gotta Love Sparta.....

Oh and I'm officially a "playing basketball with the cool cats in the streets" kind of missionary! We were tracting one day and saw this kid busting some awesome tricks with a basketball. He was dressed like a thug and definitely had some skill. He passed it to me and we played one intense round. I felt pretty cool. Granted he was 6... and the girl next to him watching us was 12.... hahaha. The boy asked us for a "Jesus Card" (pass-along card) at the end, and we gladly gave him one. We're just too cool for our own good sometimes I think.  :)

This week was so much fun and just flew by. Last night we had 3 hours to get in six lessons and see a less active... it was intense, but God helped us. One of our last lessons was with a new investigator named Josh. We taught him about the commandments and he confessed to us about his drinking habits. "Well it says in the bible that Jesus was drinking. I do my research! So if God is drinking, I totally can!"
At a loss for words, Sister Pinkstons only reply was, "Well good for you for following the example of Jesus Christ!" I busted out laughing. It was awesome. The Word of Wisdom, that's awesome.

Speaking of which, we taught the Word of Wisdom to Megan and it went amazing! She totally accepted it. In fact, that's what the lesson was on this Sunday in gospel principles and she was the biggest participant! We are going to begin the stop smoking workshop with her tomorrow, so everyone keep her in your prayers! She has less than 2 weeks before her baptism date... I have faith she can do it. She's awesome.

Missions rock. So does the Book of Mormon and being obedient. I LOVE Sister Pinkston, and am so thankful for her great example to me always. Thank you to all of you who helped give this week the "cherry on top" with their letters. I could always use more! ;)

Oh the perks of being a missionary.... even the animals flock to you ;)

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

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