Monday, July 7, 2014

God is Love

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)

There's something about learning to love others more than yourself that is so gratifying.

There was an old lady that I visited when I was on exchanges last week with Sister Hargadon. This lady wasn't interested in the church, yet Sister Hargadon was kind to her and showed an increase of love towards her. In fact, she was so kind, that this lady said we could stop by again sometime! Well, fast forward to this week and we decided to stop by again. Instead of this lady answering the door, her daughter did. Her daughter's name is Carol. Carol recognized us as the sisters that her mom told her she had wanted to see again sometime. Carol's first impression of us was the love we had shown to her mom. Because of this, Carol listened to our message. Carol WANTED us to give her a Book of Mormon, and Carol asked us to please come back! So here is the lesson learned: show love to EVERYONE because you never know what God has in store for them or those around them! Just because one person may not accept the gospel, doesn't mean you haven't been successful.

There are a lot of people in Tennessee that don't show love though. They like to try to put us down and make us feel like we're too young to know what we're talking about. They try to confound us and catch us in our words, but you know what? They can't. When people tell me things to try to undermine my faith it doesn't shake me in the least. In fact, it strengthens my testimony like none other! The gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth and it makes PERFECT SENSE. Jesus Christ told Peter that it was upon the rock of revelation that he was going to build His church. Because we have a prophet today who receives revelation from God,  Jesus Christ is able to reveal truth through him. We can also communicate to Heavenly Father ourselves, and receive revelation that what the prophet has said is true.

Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
(Amos 3:7)

And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone
(Ephesians 2:20)

What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.
(D&C 1:38)
The scriptures, the  prophets, and prayer are just some of the many tools we have to  know truth. I testify that I have found the complete and whole truth, and that no man can or ever will sway me from it. If you yourself are searching for answers, then I encourage you to use these resources to find what you are looking for. But how will you know when you have found it? It will be by the spirit who testifies of truth.  Galatians 5:22 says: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith...  You will experience these things, and as you act on the answer you have received you will find yourself coming closer to God, feeling happiness and a sense  of peace, and having a better sense of purpose in your life.

We taught a man the other day who attends another church. He had LOTS of questions for us, and the meeting began to become contentious. I opened my scriptures and read to him a verse from the Book of Mormon saying that the Bible and Book of Mormon were to be used as one, I then read to him a verse from the Bible that said the same thing. I testified that they were both scripture that were companions to one another, and that they were both true. At that point, he completely stopped and just shook his head "yes" in awe. He told us he couldn't argue with that, and the spirit was once again restored to the lesson. He asked us how soon we could again meet, and requested that we give him a church tour. HE asked US! It was a powerful experience.

We are really learning to love the people here. When we tract, people are defensive at first. But we ALWAYS walk away seeing a smile on their face and their heart softened. It's important to not just speak, but to also listen. God loves these people and even though some may not want to accept our message, that doesn't mean we have wasted our time. I make it a goal to make everyone's day that we meet. No matter what religion they are, God desires their happiness and so do I.

Sister Kohler said I have been blowing her away with my teaching lately. I don't think she realizes how much she blows me away! We have different skills that compliment each other so well. We jokingly say  I'm the brains and she's the heart. We love each other a lot. I think other missionaries might be jealous of the relationship we have. I would be ;) I secretly hope I don't have to train again because no trainee will match up to Sister Kohler.  haha. She has taught me to love myself and she has helped my communication skills to increase tremendously!

Ether 12:27 tells me that if I come unto Christ, He will show me my weakness, and He will make those weak things become my strengths. At the beginning of my mission, I felt like I didn't know anything about the bible and hardly anything about the Book of Mormon. I talked way too much in lessons... heck, I rambled. I wasn't equally yoked with my companion and I had a hard time taking advice. As I was reflecting on this the other day, I was shocked to find that my initial weaknesses had now become my strengths. The other day I was told by someone that I was the most knowledgeable missionary they had ever met...! When Sister Kohler and I did a role-play in our zone meeting this week, we were complimented for how well we taught TOGETHER and how equally yoked we were. I couldn't believe it! Every night, Sister Kohler and I share with each other things we did well that day, and things we can improve on. I always take the advice she gives me to heart, and I become a better missionary from it. God has truly helped me to make the things I once struggled with, now the things that I am best at.

And of course He's going to help me as I come to Him! As a missionary, my companion and I are the only people authorized in our WHOLE area to provide others with knowledge pertinent to their salvation. That is a HUGE deal. We have the piece that they are missing, we have the truths that they seek.

Oh and do you remember when I taught a deaf man? Well the sister that was working with him is named Sister McDonald. Sister McDonald is a great friend of mine and we love being in the same district. She told me this week that the deaf man was getting baptized! Also, I just found out that she is the cousin of my good friend Sister Lythgoe from back home! (Now serving in Arizona). How crazy is that?!

Sis. McDonald and Sis. Hochstrasser
I also had a great time going out with Deb and several members to lunch this week. Deb is preparing for baptism this month and I couldn't be prouder of her!

So my fourth of July was pretty great. We had a breakfast down at the church property (the place that will ONE day be the location of our real live church building!) and Sister Kohler and I got to meet a family that someone in our branch had brought. The family asked us to teach them, and I am soooo excited for them! Other than that, my day consisted of playing ultimate frisby, getting some lemonade from these cuties, and of course, spreading the good news (the gospel) to everyone I met!

To cap off the week, Sunday was amazing. Church just radiated with even more love, and everything was just so... happy! One of my dear friends and also an investigator, Amber, came to church and bore her testimony in front of everyone. I couldn't believe it! She shared how the Book of Mormon was her missing puzzle piece, and how she couldn't wait to be baptized. She told everyone how much we sisters had helped her get her life in order and a few other things. It was beautiful. Amber has a lot of things she has to work through before she is ready for baptism, but I have the confidence and the hope that it will all work out.


We ended the night teaching the Lewis Family, my other home here in Sparta. They are all so excited for their baptism Saturday, and I am too!

And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!
(D&C 18:16)

Oh goodness... I just LOVE it here. Things are progressing SO much. Oh and I forgot to mention, President Andersen called us yesterday and asked us to start looking for missionary housing in Spencer! Spencer is a part of our area that is wayyyy far away from Sparta... could it be? We may be getting another set of missionaries in the Sparta mission area to help with the work?! YAHOO!! :D

 Now, seeing that I know these things, why should I desire more than to perform the work to which I have been called?
(Alma 29:6)

The Lewis Family

Branch member Ali Spears who has been a huge help 
Good luck with your missionary efforts everyone! And good luck on your mission to Cali, Ali! Thanks for all your help in Sparta! (Also, Ali was nice enough to send pictures of Jennifer for mother's day and father's day via her cell phone. Thanks, Ali!)


Sister Hochstrasser

Write to me!!

Sister Jennifer Hochstrasser
Tennessee Nashville Mission
105 West Park Dr Ste #190
Brentwood, TN  37027

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