Monday, May 26, 2014

Trust in His Timing

"God, what's a million dollars to you?"
"But a penny."
"Well what's a thousand years to you?"
"A second."
"So then can I have a million dollars?"
"In a second."

This week I really had my eyes opened to the fact that God's ways are not our ways, and his timing is perfect. We must trust that he will direct our path and that he is aware of us. It is our job to make sure we are being obedient and worthy of receiving his guidance and counsel.

A few weeks ago we tracted into a lady named Amber. We gave her a Book of Mormon and she cried as we prayed for her. Then just this past week, she ran into us at Walmart. She hugged us and treated us as if we were long lost friends. She said just that day she had been telling her mom about us. We all felt it was no coincidence our paths had crossed again. A few days later we went to her house. She wasn't home. Walking across the street was a large African American man who called out to us asking when our service was. He was Amber’s neighbor. We talked with him and soon discovered that he had actually been baptized some years ago! It was a huge shock to us. Amber later told us that she also had come to find that her neighbor was a member, and again it was another witness that God is putting the Mormons in her path for a reason. She said she's never had a church she could call her own, and she was excited to give this one a try.

That's all we ask as missionaries, that you just give it a try. Megan, our golden investigator, has been trying to live the Word of Wisdom, and is succeeding! We have been doing a "Stop smoking workshop" with her and she has now been smoke free for a week starting this Wednesday! She is so excited for her baptism on the 1st, and all the members are really getting excited and helping to fellowship her.
It's good for this branch to see that Sparta is in fact NOT a dead area. There are people here who God is preparing. We just have to help them find it!

Being a missionary is by no means mundane. Things are always changing and you are always being stretched. We have a new member of our district, Elder Owens, because one of our Elders was sent home. It rattled me a little to find this out... But I pray that we will all be able to grow from the experience, and I am so thankful God gives EVERYONE a second chance :). We had a fun companionship bonding activity in our district meeting this week. Sister Pinkston and I are pretty unified, as you can tell by this picture!

I got to go on my first one-on-one exchange this week too! Sister Smith came to Sparta with me and we had a really fun time! I found that I'm pretty rusty with driving, but it was okay--it led for an adventure. I found out that Sister Smith's blog is the one that I had been reading before coming out on my mission- so it was pretty hilarious when she would start to tell me stories from the beginning of her mission, and I was able to finish them! Haha. It makes me wonder if there will ever be any future Tennessee Nashville missionaries who read MY blog :)
Sister Smith, the missionary whose blog I studied from before coming out here!

So Megan has a temporary roommate right now who is usually around when we give lessons to Megan, but seems to always be trying to tune them out. This one day in particular though she felt something telling her to have a discussion with us and bring up some of the questions she's been struggling with in her life.  At the end of our talk with her, I told her that I knew she was here talking to us for a reason, and that her Heavenly Father has a plan for her. She suddenly began to cry. Through her tears she explained that she had really been struggling and that as I said those words, she felt a great burden being lifted from her shoulders. "I don't know how you knew..." She sobbed, "But you just saved my life". I asked her what she felt God wanted her to know, and she told us that He was telling her to stay away from the
path she had been heading down.

The next day we went over to teach Megan again. This time, I had a really strong feeling that her roommate needed to be taught the first lesson. Her roommate then began to talk to us, telling us that no other religion had made sense to her before, but this one did. She then did what every missionary would kill for, and asked how she could become a member! Megan's face was beaming as Sister Pinkston explained to her roommate that baptism is the way that we are brought into Jesus Christ’s church. It was a miracle. I told the roommate that the reason it all made sense to her was because the spirit was telling her it was true. He was enlightening her mind and opening her understanding. 
It reminds me of the scripture in Jacob 4:13:
Behold, my brethren, he that prophesieth, let him prophesy to the understanding of men; for the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls. But behold, we are not witnesses alone in these things; for God also spake them unto prophets of old.

We went out that night to celebrate with some nerd slushies from Sonic. I sure do pity those of you who have never had nerds in a slushie... It's about as good as saltines and ice cream!

Blue Raspberry Nerd Slushies (lots of flavors to choose from!)

Sparta is the best place on earth. Sister Pinkston and I have been preparing all week to begin working with the branch about setting up a mission plan and getting branch missionaries and members all working with the missionaries to build the kingdom. We haven't been trained before on the responsibilities of each member of the branch in missionary work. And we just found out that our branch mission leader didn't even know there was a handbook on all of it! SO we are taking great strides and working to learn together on what to do. God has been helping us a lot though. We had 3 people put in our path to help us prepare for getting the ball rolling with the branch the day before our meeting Sunday.

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. (D&C 64:34)
Last night we went out tracting and I was in my first bible bash—sort of! I say sort of because the lady kept pulling up bible verses that only helped to prove our point!  lol. But don't worry, we were Christlike and didn't stay in the situation for long.

The mission is like a detox from the world, flushed out by spiritual things. I can really feel myself being cleaned out. When I go home, I recognize that it will require that I slowly start to introduce "solid foods" or things of the world again, but I really hope I don't go back to my old "eating habits" and then I can continue to keep my spirit healthy the rest of my life by only putting things in that are good for me. Like the scriptures, service, prayer, church, etc.

One thing that's really been great, is for me to see that really, I'm not doing much as a missionary. It's all the spirit. I know that I really didn't have much to do with any of the miracles that have happened in Sparta since I arrived. It's all just been in the Lord’s timing. And because I'm worthy and a pure vessel, I've been able to be an instrument in his hands in bringing about this great work.

6 Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy; and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea.
7 Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things.
8 Behold, great and marvelous are the works of the Lord. How unsearchable are the depths of the mysteries of him; and it is impossible that man should find out all his ways. And no man knoweth
of his ways save it be revealed unto him; wherefore, brethren, despise not the revelations of God.
(Jacob 4)

I hope everyone enjoys their memorial day today! We had the option of going to a cook out with the zone, but we are deciding to stay and work with members of the branch instead. There are several older people we are going to go spend time with. One is even going to help us make a quilt! As hard as it is for me to not go socialize with other missionaries... I have to remember that I'm here to build the kingdom.
Even when I'm on my break day, you're never really taking a break from being a missionary. Even in my dreams I'm not. HAHA. Not that there's anything wrong with the zone getting together, we just felt that there was a better option for us :).

I had a lot of fun reading everyone's letters this week. Thanks for those who wrote! You can expect to hear from me soon!

Sister Jennifer Hochstrasser 
Tennessee Nashville Mission
105 West Park Drive Suite 190

Brentwood, TN  37027

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