Monday, June 23, 2014

When Life Gets Too Hard To Stand, Kneel

This week I had the "aha" moment in realizing that I would be a lot more complete if I had a better relationship with my Heavenly Father. I think people may tend to think of Him as being this omniscient all knowing vengeful God  to whom we are ants in an ant farm. Romans 8:16 says "the spirit itself bearers witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God". I think it may be easy to forget that He is our father. He loves us and wants to help us and wants us to be happy. As I've turned to Him in times when great storm clouds seem to combine against me, he has always taken me in his arms and given me the peace that I need to press on.

GOAT to the Lord with all thy struggles. (thanks mom for that lame joke!)
"Sweet hour of prayer! Sweet hour of prayer!
That calls me from a world of care
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!"
         (Sweet Hour of Prayer)

I love what the Bible Dictionary says about prayer: "As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other." There is a difference between a "drive through" prayer and a "sit-down" prayer. If you were going to be speaking to your Heavenly Father, which one would you choose?

Heavenly Father loves us so much he sent his son into the world so that we could use the enabling power of the atonement to have lasting joy. Christ's burden is easy, and His yoke is light, so why do we not take it up? This week I've truly come to understand the phrase "give it to God."

While teaching the Restoration this week, I was really thinking about dispensations. A dispensation of the gospel is a period of time in which the Lord has at least one authorized prophet on the earth who holds the priesthood (the power of God), allowing him to dispense the gospel to all the world. When this happens, the gospel is revealed anew so that the people of that dispensation don't have to rely on past ones for an understanding of Gods plan for us. The prophet's job in a dispensation is to "dispense" the gospel, hence the word, "dispensation". It makes me think of a gumball dispenser. The gumballs are the gospel, and we are all the children eager to get into it. The quarters are the priesthood authority that prophets hold. Without the quarters, the gumballs can't be dispensed. I know that we live in a time where we have an endless supply of quarters, because God has promised us that never again would a prophet be taken from the earth.

"That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him" (Ephesians 1:10).

I am so so grateful for the knowledge I have. A lot of people look back and think "wow that's so cool that there used to be prophets to reveal the gospel" while I'm thinking "wow that's so cool that there ARE prophets to reveal the gospel". The gospel gum is good, and it's available to all! :) I don't think I'll ever share that analogy in a lesson because it might be confusing, but I thought I'd share it with you.

Sis. Hochstrasser and Sis. Kohler 
Our teaching is becoming really top notch. Sister Kohler is improving a lot. She used to look at me in desperation when she was at a loss for words or her sentences were jumbled- but instead of jumping in and saving the day, I've taken to staying silent and encouraging her to continue on her own. The other day she thanked me for that, and said that now instead of looking to me for help or in a panic, she looks at me because it gives her confidence and is a reminder that she can do it. I am SO extremely grateful that I can help her alongside the spirit in obtaining the determination and assurance she needs . We've taken to a pattern of teaching that goes: ask, listen, discern, teach, testify and then repeat. It's been working really really well. We are teaching people and not lessons. We are using the Book of Mormon to answer questions, and our mouths are being filled. As I have prayed everyday for a greater vision of how I can use the Book of Mormon in my mission, the Lord has truly opened up to me opportunity upon opportunity to bless our investigators' lives with it. 

The Book of Mormon for investigators is like a cake. They may not partake of it and understand all of what the ingredients are, but they do know that it's good- and that's really what matters.

 So Friday was Zone conference (multiple zones get together for training on things the first presidency wants us to know). During the conference President Andersen split the zones into 4 groups, and then called on me to lead one of them in discussion... I was feeling pretty nervous with the president's assistants and the sister training leaders and district leaders all watching me, but it turned out alright. Afterwards we all got together and President asked Elder Lovell and I (go Washingtonians!) to get up and speak in front of everyone about raising our vision on goals. SAY WHAT?! But it actually ended up going well (sigh of relief) but I definitely don't think I'm ready to work alongside the big dogs in the mission just yet!  haha. I was also called on the spot to conduct the music... At least that was something I can say I know how to do!

At the conference  we had a lesson on using Facebook. The missionaries began to peer pressure me into getting one, but I knew that the process takes WEEKS so I wasn't going to bother trying yet. One Sister leaned over and told me that she had been waiting 9 weeks for one. Then her companion joked that knowing me, I'd probably get it within the next few days if I wanted. I went ahead and requested to be a Facebook missionary, and sure enough, I got a call 2 days later from the Facebook leader and now I suppose you'll all be getting a friend request from me pretty soon! ;)

I feel like there are just so many things coming at me at once and I'm being stretched in all these different directions... Be a trainer, be a Facebook missionary, lead the meetings, give a talk in church, be a missionary... It stresses out my perfectionism, haha. But luckily, when Christ said to "be ye therefore perfect," He knew that we would never level up to our Father in Heaven's perfection. He was referring to relevant perfection. Being perfect in our own spheres. That is something that I can gladly work with. Being the best I can be at this point in my life :). I know that it comes through prayer, and sincerely seeking and doing.

So here's my miracle for the week: Sunday, we were going to do our hour of finding. We decided to go do it in one of our investigator's neighborhood. The investigator, Deb, was outside. She invited us to come over for dinner after we were done tracting, and we decided that that would be okay. She fed us this amazing meal, and her little grandchildren had a great time playing with us. Then she asked us a question. "So what do you have to do to be baptized?" We quickly turned to the Book of Mormon (Moroni 6) and discussed the qualifications for baptism. We then invited her to be baptized next month and she said yes!! So July 27th Deb will be baptized in the river and I am just so excited and so grateful to be a part of all these crazy miracles in Sparta. Deb is a fun lady who has been taking the discussions for a reeeaaallllyy long time (Just like the Lewis family). I don't know what changed for all these people, but now all of them have committed to be baptized! It's the pickle jar affect. All these missionaries come along, working to unscrew the lid until the investigator is ready and then we come along and pop it off. We can't claim that we did it all, because if it wasn't for past missionaries, the Spirit, and the Sparta Branch all working to loosen the jar, we wouldn't have been able to do it. 


I know that if Sister Kohler and I weren't worthy and continually asking for help with this, we never would have been given the great opportunity of witnessing our friends come into the waters of baptism. I love my Heavenly Father so much and I am so grateful that I am learning to include Him in my life. He heals my broken heart, he lifts my weary head, and he gives me the strength to push on.

Yea, and cry unto God for all they support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whither- soever thou goest let it be in the Lord, yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever. (Alma 37:36)

OH! I totally forgot to mention, but we have 12 new investigators this week and received 10 referrals. That's unheard of! Sparta is so prepared!  :)

 With Love,
Sister Hochstrasser

WRITE TO ME, and I'll write you back!!
Sister Jennifer Hochstrasser
105 West Park Drive Ste#190
Brentwood, TN  37027

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