Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Small Stuff

Twelve weeks ago I was sitting nervously in the gym of the Nashville stake center, wondering what on earth was about to happen to me. Not knowing where I was going, with whom I would go, or what on earth I was even supposed to be doing. Now, I was again sitting in the same gym, wondering the same things. But this time with a whole different reason.

I was called to be a trainer, an assignment that President Andersen said was the greatest he could ever bestow upon me. Why he chose me, or why God thought it would be a good idea, I still have no clue.

 I watched as one by one, four brand new nervous sisters got up to declare where they would serve and who their trainer would be. My heart pounded rather quickly as I sat anxiously on the edge of my seat.

"Sister Kohler, you have been assigned to labor in Sparta Tennessee, your trainer will be Sister Hochstrasser."

It's hard for me to describe what happened after that. All I know is that I suddenly felt this rush of insane energy pouring in through the top of my head to the bottom of my toes. I completely forgot all about my fears of leaving Sister Pinkston, having to teach someone the rules I was still learning, and just not messing up. It was as if every ounce of worry or doubt I had was gone, and all I could focus on was how much I loved this sister, and how much I couldn't wait to be her trainer and companion. As is the missionary-trainer custom, I ran up to Sister Kohler and hugged the life out of her while all the other missionaries clapped and cheered. While saying goodbye to Sister Pinkston was hard, I found it extremely easy to welcome this new sister in with all the love a trainer can have for her trainee. (Missing a picture here of her with her new companion, but I will have her send it to me so I can post it!)
Sis. Pinkston and Sis. Hochstrasser
Anxious to begin turning Sister Kohler into a top notch missionary, I immediately took her out tracting. Instead of getting bothered when she would stumble over her words, I couldn't help but smile and love her even more. With each house we came to, she got better and better at preaching and teaching. We saw a miracle that first day when we went to a house that often has really scary dogs run out after us. We were able to get up to the porch and set a return appointment without any mean animals showing up! Later on when we walked past the same house, the dogs came out running and barking. We were amazed to think that God had kept them away just long enough for us to talk with the man who owns them.

So Sister Kohler is from Idaho Falls. She is like me in that she likes to talk things out and have a really open relationship, so I'm way excited for our companionship. She is a professional jump roper, so if anyone has been watching America's got Talent and seen that group that's doing acrobats with a jump rope, those are her friends. She's been teaching me a few tricks, too. So hopefully by the end of the transfer I'll have mastered her double back flip with half twist and a swing around. (Yes... That was a joke). But I really do actually plan to pick up a few things from her!
The Summerwind Skippers on America's Got Talent

I must say it's stressful having all of these new responsibilities. I feel like the salvation of Sparta, Tennessee is now resting in my hands. It can be stressful when you begin thinking about everything you have to do, everything you didn't do, everything you did do but probably didn't do right...  I remember in the last week of my time with Sister Pinkston, I asked her a serious question. I asked her how she uses the atonement in her life. Now, as I reflect back on that conversation, her response rings through my mind: "When you're a trainer, you'll learn how to use the atonement".
 In Preach my Gospel chapter 6 (page 115) it says:
Learn of Him and seek to incorporate His attributes into your life. Through the power of His Atonement, you can achieve this goal and lead others to achieve it also... Ask your Heavenly Father to bless you with these attributes; you cannot develop them without His help.
I still don't really know what I'm doing, but in a way, I'm grateful for that. It forces me to rely even more heavily on my Savior. I cling to the white handbook. I cleave to Preach my Gospel. And I depend on the counsel and admonitions of my mission president more than ever. I recognize that I can't allow myself to get overwhelmed. Stress is good, but you have to take things in moderation.

Sis. Hochstrasser and her new companion, Sis. Kohler
I love my mission. I love walking along the country roads knocking on doors and sucking the honey droplets from honey suckle we find growing on the fences. I love going to goodwill and finding an ugly skirt that  just so happens to be the right size and have pockets, so you splurge and get it anyway. I love going out to lunch after Zone meeting, only to find that your companion has a gift card and she's totally up for covering you.

It's been a great week. We finally got into a way-less active's house that Sister Pinkston and I had been trying for months to get into. Not only did they let us in, but SHE EVEN CAME TO CHURCH THE NEXT SUNDAY. I about fell out of my seat when I watched this less-active walk in. It was her first time in years, and she even brought her boyfriend and his son along with her! In fact, Sunday was just an all-around amazing day for investigators, less actives, and members alike.

So as the senior companion, it's my duty to drive. Which as you may or may not know, is not the best idea. One day we were backing out of an investigators driveway and I went into a ditch. The investigator had to come out and spend a good hour using 3 different jacks and getting the neighbors involved, just to get us out. No worries though, no damage was done to the car, and I definitely will be checking my surroundings before moving the car. So aside from poor driving skills, I also am directionally challenged. I haven't been able to buy a GPS yet since Sister Pinkston took hers, so we have been getting lost, haha. BUT it's okay! There was an instance where we were driving down the road trying to get home and we were super lost. We pulled up into a random house in the middle of the woods just to stop for a minute and figure things out. A man walked up to see if we were okay. We got directions from him and thanked him with a Book of Mormon. His name was Alfanso. He had a small dog and said he loved Jesus (the man or the dog?). It was pretty fitting, and I'm glad we met him.

I learned this week the importance of having fun. I don't want to be an uptight missionary, but I also don't want to be too relaxed with things either. This Sunday we were supposed to have an appointment but the family wasn't home. We left a sticky note on their door with our number, but I figured nothing would come of it since we hadn't taught them before and they didn't seem super interested in the first place. As we were leaving the housing development, we saw a park with some swings. Sister Kohler and I both looked at each other, and then ran straight over to them. I don't know why, but those 5 minutes on the swings was probably the highlight of my whole day. We were laughing and flying and feeling the breeze on our faces. It felt like Heavenly Father was smiling down on us and I knew that He was proud of how hard we had been working. It's okay to take a break sometimes. The miracle of this mini moment isn't over though! Because we stayed on those swings, we were able to stay in the neighborhood long enough to see that family come pull up into their driveway. They were home now! We went over to them and they said they were so sorry, they had completely forgotten about our appointment. We prayed with them, and guess what! They totally texted us that night asking questions about our church! If we hadn't taken those few moments to enjoy ourselves and forget the world for a second, we wouldn't have seen that family coming and then been able to save our appointment. It's okay to relax sometimes and not stress yourself out with not being good enough. We have to remember that we are human, and without Christ, we really wouldn't be very successful in anything we did anyway.

I love being a missionary and I love being a trainer! Sister Kohler and I are definitely a match made in Heaven. I can't way to see the fruit of our labors, and to meet the people that God sent her here to help find and baptize with me by her side. Sparta rocks. So does this gospel.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week! Remember to take a break sometimes, and remember to rely on the Atonement of Christ--even when it comes to the small stuff!

Sister Hochstrasser

p.s How wonderful is this quilt?! A member helped make it for me in memory of my mission. That's the state flag in the middle, with the state outline all around it. Sweet, right?!]

Write to me! :)

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

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