Monday, June 2, 2014

Take a Chance, Make a Change, and Break Away

Kudos for those of you who recognized where those lyrics are from.

This week was probably the most memorable thus far. As you know, it was the week of Megan's baptism! Her family and friends aren't supportive of her decision at all. In fact, her mom is pretty anti. We had the chance to meet her one day and we were pretty nervous. We prayed a lot, and then found that her heart had been softened majorly towards us. It was a miracle, and even though she wouldn't allow us to "preach", she still talked with us and we all had a good time. Everything seems to be working out in Megan’s favor. I know that God wanted this baptism to happen, probably even more than we did!

Even Megan's neighbor, Phil, is warming up to us! We went and gave him a Book of Mormon the other day and he told us it would probably end up in the local pawnshop. -___- BUT THEN we told him it only brought good things, and we asked him rhetorically if he saw that we were bad people from it. I don't think he really understood, because then he proceeded to tell us that Hitler didn't seem like a bad person either. So yeah. Got compared to Hitler on my mission. Fun stuff. Don't worry, the happy ending to that story is that he took the Book of Mormon and as far as we know he still has it. Lol.

I had a really awesome experience this week, one I'm sure Ms. Miller would be proud of! I got a call from some Sisters in Altamont (aka faraway) saying that President Andersen told them I could sign! I explained that really, I wasn't very good. They didn't seem to think that mattered, and insisted that I help them to teach their deaf investigator. With Sister Pinkston's encouragement, I agreed. It was an AWESOME experience. I taught him the Plan of Salvation, and also provided a church tour. I sure am lucky that my ASL teacher had signed for past general authorities, because I knew all the lingo like "sacrament", "God", "heaven", "scripture", "prophet", etc. I didn't feel too confident in how I had done by the end of the lesson, even though the man kept saying he understood. I was glad that I was able to help him feel comfortable with praying in front of us though. A text that night from the sisters said:
"Hey! David (the deaf man) messaged us on FB and was so excited about the lesson today. He told us that he understood a lot more and that he was excited to learn more about the church... He even told us that he thinks the church can help him get over some past mistakes and guilt. Thanks so much for your help!"
So after reading that, I knew that even though I may not have been given the "gift of hands" during that lesson, the spirit was definitely there to teach him and enlighten him, so that's all that mattered.

We had district meeting up in Pikeville on a mountain in the middle of nowhere this week. It felt like the amazon! I feel bad now for ever even thinking I was in the sticks (that's the term they use for redneck land).

District in the Amazon

Speaking of redneck, have I already mentioned "yert"? It's basically a term of greeting and farewell here. The sign is that of one pulling a train horn multiple times, except it’s a little lower and not so much a fist pump in the air. I learned this from a young man we tracted into. We saw this little 3 year old outside when we were in the country one day and he led us to this house. Out came a 16 year old boy in coveralls and a button up shirt and big farming boots. It was awesome. He lives with a family of 14... We are SO stoked to go teach them! I'll keep you updated on them for sure.  
House with 14 family members.

On another day heading up to the country, we finally learned what the term "ponding" is. We have a lot of freak rain storms here and it makes huge puddles in the road. (Like ponds). But no worries, we made it safely to our appointment which was with a man named Everett. He calls us his "little sisters in Jesus". He played a song for us on his guitar that sums up his life. I can't remember the first half, but I know the ending goes: "I like my dog, I kick my cat, I wear my own kind of hat, I got my car, I got my truck, I look for women, I have no luck" ...we were all laughing about that. He's an older gentleman, so maybe we can help him meet a few of the older single ladies in our branch ;). He came to church this Sunday!
People are just funny out here. I think I'm starting to turn funny too, with the way I've been eating! I remember a college friend telling me that you make some weird things to eat on your mission, but I didn't believe him until I found myself beginning to mix the weirdest things together for lunch. We basically take whatever food we have and combine it and add barbecue sauce. It's not half bad!

Speaking of crazy food, we went over to our young friend Angela's house and helped her make a pink and blue cake that was probably the biggest disaster I've ever seen. It was so fun.
So Friday night we got a call from President Andersen. We were worried we were going to get in trouble because this mean lady was trying to have our car towed earlier that day since we parked at an abandoned house for an hour so we could tract. She was so awful... It wasn't even her property! But oh well. That's not even why he was calling. He was calling to ask me if I would train! As in, get a brand new missionary straight from the MTC and bring her to Sparta and show her the ropes and be in charge and have to know what I'm doing! If The Lord hadn't already been preparing me for this, I would've had a panic attack. I've only been here 12 weeks, after all. I can't even believe that the Lord trusts me enough to put Sparta AND a brand new sister in my hands. Jeepers! (Yes, I really did just say "jeepers." 

I think Heavenly Father knew that I was feeling uncertain, because he made sure my last Sunday with Sister Pinkston in Sparta was perfect. I really feel like this branch is becoming my family. It's been amazing to see the growth and changes of these people as they've worked with us. I know I have a ton to do to really get everything rolling with members and missionaries working together, but I have the confidence that I'm not alone, and that God is working with us.

The turnout to Megan's baptism was AWESOME. It made me want to cry pulling up and seeing flocks of people walking down to the river. We had a truck that transported a few people down to the river, since it was a pretty good walk getting down there. 

It was a beautiful beautiful day, and everything went perfectly. I knew that Megan was making the right choice, and so did she and her Heavenly Father. Megan is one of those people I can't take any credit for. Everyone kept saying "good job sisters, you did it!" but I in no way did anything that converted that girl. It was all the Spirit. I was happy for HER. Not for myself, you know? 


After this baptism, a few of Megan’s friends expressed that they are REALLY interested in the church! I'm so grateful that I'll be staying in Sparta to help teach them! :). We just had a dang plain-straight awesome Sabbath day yesterday. We had a great church turnout, a beautiful baptism, taught some amazing lessons, found some new investigators, and the weather was perfect. I know that this is God's way of telling me that everything will be okay, because He has provided a way. I'm so excited to meet my little trainee tomorrow, and to tell all ya'll about her next week! I already love her so much and am anxious to introduce her to the best place on earth- Sparta Tennessee. So maybe change isn't such a bad thing, I'm excited :)

This week I finished studying the chapter "recognizing the spirit" in Preach My Gospel. It led for probably some of the best study I've ever had. In fact, this whole week has just blown my mind with how much personal revelation I've gotten while studying. I know Heavenly Father has been preparing me to train. I know that through the enabling power of the atonement, I CAN be a missionary. He has given me the talents to be able to do so.
 D&C 60:2-3
But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man. Wo unto such, for mine anger is kindled against them.
And it shall come to pass, if they are not more faithful unto me, it shall be taken away, even that which they have.

Perhaps greatest of all, what I have learned during my time of being trained is not to settle for myself. When we say "that's just the way I am" we are taking away our ability to change. We are NOT who we can become. We cannot reach our full potential without Christ. Moroni tells us to "come unto Christ, and be perfected in Him". Not to "Think about Christ and wish you were like Him". We have to COME, we have to DO. He doesn't ask us to just ask, he asks us to act. We cannot do this alone. You can't. I can't. President Monson can't. But through Christ, we CAN.


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

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