Monday, August 25, 2014

An Awesome God

You know that phrase "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger"? Well, I've been definitely feeling that this week. Not in a sad, "all of these bad things are happening" way, but more of a "all of these things are happening" sort of way. From little things to big things, get ready for a mess of information! I began this week with some dark chocolate spicy banana bread...I guess she uses cyan pepper. LOL. Makes me slightly tempted to try the jalapeno chocolate milkshake at Sonic! Then again, maybe not!

Hottttt  banana bread.

Got Grass? Frisbee every morning :)
Sister Kohler and I have taken to playing Frisbee across the football field at the high school every morning. We always come home out of breath with water logged shoes and grass COVERING us. It's a lot of fun. We've gotten pretty good--I can throw with both my hands now! 
Sis. Kohler being silly serious

So I made the rookie mistake of getting bleach all over my clothes.... I ruined a few really nice skirts. The only one I was able to salvage was my black pencil skirt. I got creative and tie-died it with bleach to cover up the spots that were already there. It turned out pretty good! The day I wore it, Sister Kohler and I felt inspired to take pictures in front of this funky wall we found while tracting. We are in no way being serious... 
 Okay enough about the non-missionary moments. I have so much to tell you! We went out to dinner with our investigators at a Mexican place (remember the waiter that gave me his phone number from a few weeks back? He was there, and he was being creepy!) but the point is that we taught them the law of chastity, and that very night they went out and bought rings! I am so excited for them to invite the spirit of the Lord more fully into their relationship. When we use the sacred power God has given us to create life outside the bonds of marriage, it's as serious as using the power God gave us to take life. Heavenly Father is our creator, and we are his precious sons and daughters. He has given us the ability to bring them into the world, and he asks that we do so within family units. :)
Newly seriously bleached skirt.
We had an amazing lesson with Clem recently. Have I told you much about him? The first day Sister Kohler was in the mission, we walked past his house. Some scary dogs were out in the yard, so we decided not to go there. A little bit later, we went past the house again and the dogs had disappeared! We went and knocked on his door, and something told him to allow us back. We taught him slowly but surely. It took a few weeks for him to actually get into the Book of Mormon, but once he really did, something just kept tugging him forward. He is a single dad of 3 beautiful girls, and he just recently felt like something was missing in his life. Guess what? HE FOUND IT! :D 
He came to church for the first time in 18 years, loved it, and is going to be baptized on the 13th. Our recent lesson with him was the Word of Wisdom. As we taught him, he just kind of shook his head as if it was all things he already knew. Apparently he did, because he has been reading the gospel principles (Sunday school) book and is on chapter 40.... "I read about the word of wisdom two days ago," he told us. He also told us that he already told the boys at work not to smoke around him starting Monday, because he is quitting. Sister Kohler and I were amazed! He is probably one of the most prepared people I have ever met. I know Heavenly Father has an amazing plan for him. In fact, a lot of missionaries are a little jealous of Sparta because all of our baptisms have been with people that just flew through the commandments. haha. 
Sometimes we are nervous to teach them, but I don't know why... God only asks us to do things that will make us happy. So if me telling someone they have to stop smoking is going to make them happy in the long run why am I worried about it?! Besides, Heavenly Father is a lot more powerful than some nicotine. I know he knows what's best for us and would never ask us to do something that would hurt us.
Clem at his first visit to our church. 
This weekend was pretty crazy for me. Saturday morning I got a call from President Andersen. He asked me if I would please prepare to go to PADUCAH, KENTUCKY to be a SISTER TRAINING LEADER!
"...are you sure??" is all I was able to reply. His response was in the affirmative, so I put my trust in God and accepted the call. Honestly, I'm a little worried. I'm so young in the mission, and to be a Sister Training Leader over a whole ton of missionaries is daunting. "What if they don't find me credible because they're more experienced than me? What if my trainings don't make any sense or aren't by the spirit? What if I do a weekly exchange and just butcher someone's whole area? What if.....  "
Then Heavenly Father told me to look, because it wasn't killing me, so I must be getting stronger.
I look back on all of my time at Sparta and everything that has happened and I feel like I've been here my whole life. It's my home, it's what I know. I can honestly say I know most the people we see on the streets, or if I don't know them, they know me. I know who's related to who. I can tell you exactly where someone lives and how to get there; I've even finally figured out those crazy neighborhoods that resemble Tanglewilde back home. These people have my heart, and now it's time to let them go. I'm so thankful for Sister Kohler, because I completely trust her to take on the area. 
Oh, and did I already tell you that President Andersen is sending us another set of sister missionaries? HAHA. I love it! I leave and they bring back three more. I just think of all the changes that have transpired from when I first came, until now. Our district has doubled, our branch missionaries have tripled, and are baptisms have quadrupled! Speaking of baptisms, the Dobbs family was baptized too!
The Dobbs family
Yesterday was one of the hardest things I've ever loved to do. The branch asked me to please come up to the stand and leave my testimony with the members before I leave. It was hard being up at the podium for the last time, but I couldn't help but smile as I looked down at all of our investigators, less actives, active members, new converts, friends, and FAMILY starring back at me. As I concluded speaking, the Spencer Elders and we Sparta Sisters sang a song I thought up. It's a mix between "I Feel My Saviors Love" and "There is A Green Hill Far Away".  When we sang it in front of the branch it was very powerful (Jennifer tried to include the video, but it didn't come through correctly).

During the second hour, our investigator got up the courage to ask our other investigator to spend forever with him <3 luckily I was able to catch some of it on video! It was really adorable (also didn't come through correctly when emailed, but here is a picture of them at the restaurant)
Our investigators gettin' married soon
Bro Grissom behind me and his daughter Jaleta in black shirt.

I got to go teach the primary kids a song in sign language for the third hour, which was absolutely the perfect way to end church. The man behind me in the next picture is Brother Grissom, my Branch Mission Leader. Also, Jaleta his daughter, who has become a really good friend.
Good friend Jaleta 

Oh but wait it gets better! The Lewis Family (They were baptized last month) took us to the park for a picnic lunch as our final goodbye. We had a blast! Kurtis (11) took my ipad and recorded for us a giant bug... I figure I'll show it to you too so you can see who all they are! :D  Sister Lewis did exactly what my mom would do, and gave me a new missionary bag filled with all sorts of little things. Among my favorite was a photo album with pictures of us with their family, and a notebook that they all wrote a letter to me in. It was rough saying goodbye, because they really have become my home away from home. Each of their children is exactly the age of my siblings, and I have just come to adopt them into my heart like they were my own. I guess this isn't really what I was expecting when I came on a mission. It's one of those things you just won't understand unless you've had a chance to serve.
 "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)
The day when I get to go to the temple to watch the Lewis family, the Dobbs family, and the Felts be sealed for time and all eternity... that will be the BEST day.
You know, I thought I would be a lot more nervous than I am right now. But I'm actually feeling pretty excited for all of this change. I know it's not me, it's definitely my older brother, Jesus Christ, who is lifting me up. I know that I am leaving behind 8 friends who have a date to be baptized, I'm leaving behind the excitement of having another set of sisters in Sparta, and of seeing the branch turn into a ward, of being with my best friend Sister Kohler, I'm leaving behind a lot of wonderful things, just like our Savior did when he descended from the mount of transfiguration. In Matthew 17 we read about how Jesus went into a high mountain. There, he was able to speak with his Father and with angels. His "face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light" (vs 2). Yet he himself knew all of the excitement couldn't last forever, he had a work to do elsewhere. As Jesus descended from the mountain, he immediately went about doing good. He healed a lunatic, payed unnecessary taxes, and prepared his apostles for his death. Jesus is the ultimate example of what I want to be. I have been blessed with so much during my time in Sparta, but now it's time for me to go into the unknown and continue doing whatever the Lord needs me to do. I imagine it will be much like this when I leave my mission. On the mountain, here in Tennessee, I am closer to God then I have ever been in my life. I will eventually have to come home, descending from this glorious mountain, and face the trials and hardship that are in the real world. However, like Jesus, I pray that I won't give up or become depressed. Instead, I hope that I follow in his example and immediately begin serving others and doing all that I can to continue my Fathers work, just in a different capacity.
I will miss my friend and companion, Sis. Kohler
I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for me, there are people in Paducah who need whatever it is God knows I have to give. It's going to be a big job, but with Jesus Christ, I can do it! The words of a modern Christian song that I sang last night with Megan (my first baptism and dear friend) come to mind:

"Our God is an awesome God, He reigns on heaven and earth with wisdom, power, and love- our God is an awesome God"

Your friend,
Sister Hochstrasser

P.S Next time you hear from me I will be in Kentucky... how weird is that?!

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

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