Monday, July 21, 2014

The FOUR Kinds of Soil

Welcome to transfer #4! I've been blessed with a promised 6 more weeks in Sparta, Tennessee alongside my favorite trainee, Sister Kohler! :D
Because Sister Kohler and I have just been tearing it up in Sparta, God has been throwing lots of challenging people into our mix of... well, people! Let me explain what I mean.

You know the parable in Matthew 13 about the sower? Well, basically what happens is the farmer was doing just what every other farmer was doing back in those good ol' Jerusalem days and scattering seeds all over the place so they can grow and yield fruit! The seeds that he throws represent the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because no matter where you go or where they're thrown, it will always be the same. In fact, the only variable in the story that isn't constant is the soil that the seed lands in when it's scattered.

The first kind of soil that this farmer's seed landed in was the "way side". It was hardened ground so the seed couldn't even get in, allowing for the birds to come snatch them away.
The second kind of soil was the "stony places" where there was just enough dirt over the rocks for the seed to take root, but as soon as the sun came out it got burned and withered away.
The third type is the soil "among thorns". This soil is great! But there's no place for the seed to grow because all the weeds and thistles are taking up all the space!
The last soil is the "good ground". Here is where the seed is planted and actually can grow and bring forth fruit, some giving 30, some 60, and some 100 fruits!

In this parable Jesus Christ was basically depicting the different kinds of spiritual receptivity that we have here in the south. As I go over my week, see if you can't liken each aspect to one of the four types of soil.

1)  I had my first "hard" plan of salvation lesson... the man we taught had a LOT of questions about why things had to happen the way they did. A lot of people have the concept that if Adam and Eve hadn't partaken of the fruit, we would all be living the dream life in the garden of Eden, no big deal... that is definitely not the case. The fall of Adam and Eve HAD to happen, otherwise we wouldn't be here! Also, if they had not fallen, we wouldn't have needed Christ. Mormon 9:12 says "Behold, he created Adam, and by Adam came the fall of man. And because of the fall of man came Jesus Christ, even the Father and the Son; and because of Jesus Christ came the redemption of man".  

The plan of salvation is God's plan for us, and it is perfect. We call it the plan of happiness, because knowing our purpose in life brings us JOY. "Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25). If anyone reading this isn't familiar with this plan, then go to and get some missionaries over to your place pronto!  Anyway, this man that we taught loved the restoration lesson, but he just couldn't get past the plan of salvation. His roots were in a little ways, but when we pulled out something he maybe had been taught differently about, he was scorched and uprooted a little bit.

2) With a new transfer came a new district! We got Elders in Spencer now, officially, which is like a dream come true. We also have our senior couple in the neighboring area. Woohoo! Now we have like double the sowers so we can get out more gospel seeds!

 3) We've come across a young man several times who really just will not hear what we have to say. He tells us the bible says this, and the bible says that, and he just really is firm in what he thinks to be truth. We wondered why he kept wanting to talk to us if he wasn't going to listen. Then we found out when he asked me on a date -___- hahaha. That is a lovely example of the hardened soil, only good for the birds to come eat our seeds.

4) We taught one of our dearest investigators the law of chastity. We were super nervous because she lives with her boyfriend and he is the one who supports their family... so she would basically have to move out or commit to be married, but right now they're not getting along well and she isn't too sure how their different religions (she says he's Mormon, he's Church of Christ) are going to work out under the same roof. We taught her from "The Family: A Proclamation to the World". As we spoke, her eyes were opened to the sanctity of families and of the power of procreation. There was a great blanket of peace encompassing all of us as she came to understand that she couldn't be baptized unless she was living ALL of God's commandments. She told us how she had never realized until now how precious life really is, and she really liked the commandment. Isn't that crazy? A young, beautiful girl living with her boyfriend and their baby and she's all excited about living the law of chastity?! We had to cancel her date for this month, but she is now working on determining if she is going to get married, or move out. Either way, this is her church, she tells us. So I have great faith things will work out :). She is bringing forth good fruit. It may not be tons, but it is something.

5) Yesterday we were tracting and found these people who were really interested in what the differences amongst our religion were. We explained to them our faith, and they got rather upset. They told us that the bible says God won't speak ever again. I know for a fact the bible doesn't one time tell us that the heavens are forever closed off to us and God won't speak to man, and so I asked them where it said that. They couldn't tell me. I asked them if they read the bible, the answer was "no, not really". But don't worry folks, her daddy is a preacher, so she knows what she's talking about. Oh goodness... there are so many GREAT people out here. But their minds are filled with the thorns of false doctrine and the weeds of listening only to their preacher instead of finding out for themselves.... it breaks my heart.

6) I did get to hand out some seeds to a fellow sower this week though! There's a young man in our branch who we invited to join us in a few lessons one day. He had kind of given up on going on a mission since he's reaching the cut off age, but after Sister Kohler and I saw his testimony and what he could do for the work we got really excited and helped him see that maybe a mission WAS for him after all. He really took what we said to heart. I sure hope he decides to serve!

7) An investigator had us over for dinner one night. We showed up at 5 and she told us it was too early, to come at 6:30. Then at 6:25 she texts us to wait another hour. At 7:30 we asked if she was ready, and she said she needed a few more minutes... so we had dinner at almost 9 at night at her house... HAHAHA. I guess the only explanation here is that sometimes us sowers get hungry, so we have to eat the seeds ;).

The Lewis Family with Sister Hochstrasser and Sister Kohler
8) The last instance was last night with the Lewis family. They invited over a less active and her non-member husband (they're all family) and we watched the Joseph Smith movie. Afterwards, the mom bore powerful testimony of Joseph Smith and how it just HAD to be true after everything he and the saints went through. Then Jake, their oldest, got up and said that in many ways he was just like Joseph Smith, a 14 year old boy searching for the truth. He told his family he wanted to go on a mission, and it was just so crazy awesome! The less active and her non-member husband both told us they'd be at church the next Sunday... lol.
I'm so excited to already see the HUNDREDS of fruits coming from this one family ^_^.

Oh and I want you to see what happened when I asked Curtis, their second oldest, what he did at church today.

There are SO many of these 4 different types of soil here in Sparta. I think the obvious solution would be to just go and seek out all the good soil. But please notice that Christ never said the hard soil couldn't be plowed, or the stony ground couldn't be broken up and moved or more dirt added, he never suggested that the weeds couldn't be pulled, or the seeds giving 30 fruits couldn't be fertilized and bring up 100.

The atonement of Jesus Christ is here to redeem the sinners and better the saints. No matter what point we are at in our life we can all draw on the grace of Christ and be made better than we are. Those thorns couldn't pull themselves out, that soil couldn't plow on it's own, so Christ has given us the tools necessary to get it done.  But despite these great tools, someone has got to be the arm in making these things happen, right?

 2nd Nephi 20:15 says "shall the ax boast itself against him that heweth therewith? Shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? As if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself as if it were no wood!"

Christ is the power behind the tools. We are the ones meant to sow the seeds, teach people the tools they can use to better their soil, and then to let Christ take them on. I am so grateful to be out here in the field during this great season of harvest. And I am so grateful that I can witness the Great Gardener at work in his vineyard. I am humbled that He has allotted me the time to come out and labor alongside him in Sparta, Tennessee, and I hope that we all can work to do our part in offering EVERYONE the tools of the gospel and scattering EVERYWHERE the seeds of this great truth that we have.

Have a great week!

Sister Hochstrasser

Write to me, and I'll write you back!
Sister Jennifer Hochstrasser
Tennessee Nashville Mission
105 West Park Drive   Ste# 190
Brentwook, TN  37027

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