Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Attitude of Gratitude

This week started off a little rough. I found myself getting irritated by tiny things, and we just weren't making much headway. I felt like I was stressing myself out over a big test that I was having a hard time studying for. “Something is missing”, Sister Kohler told me one evening after we had finished getting ready for bed. And I knew it was. But the trouble is, we couldn’t figure out what it was. 
That day had been slow for us, and we got some yucky news about one of our investigator families, amongst other things.

 These doors we knocked on describe exactly the way I was feeling at the start of this week 
In an attempt to improve where our week was going, I tried to study different things I could implement in my work. Like faith  in God’s plan, hope that everything would work out, consecration in putting God’s will before my own, patience in all things… as I studied, I found myself getting overwhelmed by all the different things I was lacking. (note this paragraph, I'll refer back to it)
Then, Wednesday came.

We left the house early to go teach an investigator, Rita, who had asked us to help her. You see, this lady has had probably the roughest childhood that you could imagine. The abuse she has lived through is insane, and she told us she really needed our help. The things that she confided to us were things that she hadn’t talked to anybody about. She said she felt like she could trust us, and something told her we could help her.  She was having a hard time letting go and moving on from her past. Sister Kohler and I both felt very strongly that Rita needed the Plan of Salvation. As we taught her, it was amazing to see the change in her face. Her eyes began to shine, her countenance brightened, and she looked 10 times lighter. At the end of our discussion, she offered a prayer, thanking God for the great blessing we had just given her. She cried, telling us that a huge weight felt lifted off of her shoulders, and she couldn’t wait to read the Book of Mormon and come to church. It really surprised me.

Sometimes I feel like I take for granted the message that I have been called to share. The world is craving the truth that is in this church and we are the only ones authorized to share it. I see people look at us with hungry eyes, starved from the truth, and I realize just how much my own soul has been filled. I am here because I have been satiated by the gospel of Jesus Christ , and I want to help fill others. We live in a famished world. When the Savior came to earth, many people denied that he was the Christ. You see, they were looking for a Savior to deliver them from physical bondage and hunger, not  realizing that he was there to save them from SPIRITUAL bondage and hunger. Jesus told Peter to “feed my sheep” and he said the same thing to Joseph Smith almost 2 millennia later. Why do you think God focuses more on the spiritual nourishment of his children than the physical?

 “I am the bread of life,” He said; “He that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35.)

This life is temporary, the next is eternal. It is our Heavenly Father's work and glory to "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man", and as a missionary, I am here to help my father hasten the work. HIS work. Not to tend to my own selfish desires or doubts or whatever it is that's dragging me down. 

So I figured out what was missing.  Did you? 

Elder Uchtdorf said: "Being grateful in our circumstances is an act of faith in God. It requires that we trust God and hope for things we may not see but which are true. By being grateful, we follow the example of our beloved Savior, who said, “Not my will, but thine, be done.”   

Of course! It seems so simple! I've been missing gratitude! Gratitude is the mother of all virtues, it is the catalyst of all Christlike attributes. When I am grateful, I AM all of those things that I had been studying. I AM faithful, I AM hopeful, I AM consecrated, I AM patient, and happy, and successful!

Later that day we went to interviews. As I spoke with President Andersen, I was reminded of how much love my Heavenly Father has for me. President Andersen thanked me profusely for all that had been accomplished in Sparta. He couldn't believe how much success that area has had, and he told me how much faith the mission now has in Sparta. He explained to me that my area had always been that area no missionary really wanted to go to. Now, it's one of the most talked about in the mission! Everybody wants to be in Sparta, even one of the Assistants to the President came up to me the other day and asked what on earth I was doing in the area to make it explode like this. "What?" I thought, "Are they really talking about SPARTA??"

As I pondered on it, I realize that I really have so much to be thankful for. I was being so selfish for letting little things drag me down, instead of being grateful for the hard times and looking forward to the good. "We sometimes think that being grateful is what we do after our problems are solved, but how terribly shortsighted that is. How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?" (Elder Uchtdorf)

With this on my heart, I can proudly write to all of you and say that this week became AMAZING! As I became grateful in my circumstances I became grateful for the trials I had. I realized that my idea of success and Heavenly Father's idea of success were two totally different things.  The week improved so much, it was almost as if it was God's way of saying, "Yes, that's exactly what you've been missing Sister Hochstrasser." To cap off a very wonderful week, God then gave us Sunday.

At church, you would not believe the different investigators that came. MIRACLE investigators--the kind that you just can't stop starring at because you still can't believe they are there. Sacrament meeting was tailored to fit each of those people's needs, and the members of the branch were wonderful in welcoming them all.  I don't think I've ever been to a better sacrament meeting. Then to top off a fabulous Sunday service, we had a BRANCH MISSION MEETING after church. Okay, let me explain to you why this is a big deal.

When I first came to Sparta, it was me and my companion. There were no meetings with the Branch Mission Leader, there was no extra support from the branch counsel, there were no assignments made to be branch missionaries,  and there was NO progress. Now, I was sitting in this meeting after church watching our branch mission leader get up and talk to all of our newly called branch missionaries about fulfilling their callings. I was seeing him get involved. To add to that miracle, right in front of me were 2 additional full-time missionaries now serving in Spencer, and sitting on the chair next  to me was a sign up calendar FILLED with members willing to help us. I cannot even describe to you the change that is taking place in the Sparta Branch... our little building is filled to the brim and there's no way they are going to deny us becoming a ward now. You guys! I am so GRATEFUL for just EVERYTHING!

"Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks."  (D&C 98:1)

I am also very grateful to all of you. You'll never understand what a hand written letter to a missionary means until you are one. I'm really, really grateful for all of the love and support I have received. Emotionally, spiritually, and financially. So THANK YOU. Thanks for being my friend!

A grateful heart,
Sister Hochstrasser

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

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