Monday, August 18, 2014

Hands Down, Two Thumbs Up! (They're on Fire)

Hands down the best week of my mission yet.
I don't really have anything deep or thought provoking to share with you this week, because no matter how hard I try to put into words the things that I've learned these past 7 days, I just can't seem to do it! So instead, I'm going to provide you with a selfish blog post, in which I'll basically just turn you into my journal and tell you everything that happened to me this week. :)
Monday began with a trip to rock island . It was beautiful! That evening I left my little home of Sparta and went to Livingston for temporary exchanges. I was actually really scared to go. All six months of my mission I've been in Sparta, so the idea of going outside my area with a different companion freaked me out. I was worried I wouldn't love the people, or I would get homesick for Sister Kohler, or I just wouldn't match up to the missionary Livingston needed me to be. I prayed really hard that Heavenly Father would help me to have a good experience. Although Livingston was tiny, the people were kind of crazy, and I got punched in the rear multiple times by a 4 year old, I found myself really loving the place! It was a huge blessing for me to see that really it doesn't matter where I serve, so long as I do serve, I will be happy. 
I think this can definitely be the same in life. No matter what calling, group of co-workers, or community you are in, “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17), and when you serve God, it makes you HAPPY! :) At the end of our exchange, I found myself feeling anxious about LEAVING. All that was going through my mind was how much work I had to still do in Livingston, how much I still had to learn from Sister Hulme (the Sister Training Leader I was with) and how many people there were for me to find! Then I was reminded that there was a perfectly capable set of sister missionaries already serving there, and that Heavenly Father is taking care of it! Haha.
District meeting this week was so great! I don’t think there ever was such a fun set of missionaries as in our district. Sometimes I worry that we laugh too much.  We DID get a little chastised though when we found out that between FIVE sets of missionaries, we only had 9 member-present lessons that whole week…. Ouch. Sister Kohler and I determined that we were going to get more member-present lessons this week than any Sparta missionary ever had. And we did! We got 12 member present lessons this week! That’s more than any missionary in our DISTRICT has had! We also got 16 new investigators, and put 8 people on a baptismal date…. SAY WHAT?! 
Elder Stradling, our district leader, called me last night and asked me what on earth Sister Kohler and I were doing to get such amazing results. I told him we just used the atonement, and he laughed and told me that in two days I was going to be giving training to our district on how to do that then.
So now I find myself in full panic mode, wondering what on earth I’m supposed to train so many wonderful missionaries on in less than two days. I’m writing out this email as an attempt to really paint for myself a clear picture on HOW we came to have so much success this week. Hopefully as I continue to tell you all about the events that happened, I can be guided as to what I can train on. Thursday was an amazing day. We went out with a member and taught a cute little family the message of the restoration. “Mama, let’s go to THAT church!” the 19 year old daughter said after we were done. I was so pleased with how we did that lesson. Not only was Sister Kohler personalizing how she was teaching, and keeping things moving, but I was able to really LOVE the people and did a great job making sure they understood what our purpose was in being there.  
Speaking of our purpose, we also witnessed a big car accident, in which we had to call 911 and then we went over and helped out the victims. We made sure to also get their information, that way we could go and teach them when they get to feeling better..... hopefully none of you are judging me for that  :/ 
 After supper at our place (#cereal) we went out with a new branch missionary, Casey, and spent probably a good two hours going to places where people weren't home. Surprisingly though, we kept the faith and hope that everything would work out as God wanted it to. We laughed so much it’s not even funny… scratch that, it was totally funny! Because none of our first choice investigators were home, Heavenly Father guided us to go see our backups, and guess what? Every single one of them was home and we had an amazing lesson with every single one of them! I’m so glad that we didn’t waste time having a bad attitude when nothing was working how WE thought it should, but that we trusted in God and trusted that He had a better plan for us anyway (AND HE DID!).
It makes me think of Nephi being asked to build a ship. In 1Nephi 18:2 he tells us that he “did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto [him]; wherefore, it was not after the manner of men”. I think sometimes we have this idea in our heads for how something is supposed to work out, and when it doesn't work out that way, we panic. We forget we are meant to do things after the manner of the Lord, not man, and we cause ourselves unnecessary stress. 
For example, on Friday, I was kind of really struggling. We had a three hour planning session in which we were hitting walls for what we needed to prepare to teach our investigators. We were stressed because there were too many people we needed to see and not enough time in the day to see them. We were frustrated because none of our investigators would reply to us, and all of that just left me in a bad mood. Then I was having some serious issues with a few other silly things that were going on… to the point where it all just added up and I had to run out of the room and lock myself in the bathroom. 
I stood there, shaking, just kind of frustrated that things weren't going the right way. I told God to just give me a minute, and then we could talk... Then I went into the bedroom, and we did. I explained to Him how I felt, and what I wanted to feel. We talked about the importance of my mission, particularly Sparta, and how every minute counts. He gave me a pep talk and a hug and then I was ready to take on the world! (Or at least my area). When I came out of the bedroom Sister Kohler gave me a big hug  too :).
So after that we went out to go do some tracting. We set ourselves a "do or die" goal of getting in three lessons, and went on our merry way. We kept our trust in Heavenly Father. We knew that if we did our best, he would make sure we accomplished our goals. So guess what? We got three lessons taught and four new investigators!! It was probably one of the most successful hours of finding I've ever had! 
The rest of that evening we were on cloud nine going with members from amazing lesson to amazing lesson. That night Sister Kohler told me that she had had an overwhelming feeling that she wouldn't be able to become the missionary God needs her to be without me as her trainer. It was kind of crazy to think about... I definitely know that without her, I wouldn't be able to become the missionary God needs me to be, either. 
So after committing everyone and their dog to baptism, and working our tails off to get members at our lessons, we ended with a rather uneventful Sunday. Even though nothing crazy amazing happened, it was still probably one of the funnest Sundays I've had. Sister Kohler and I have really come to see that it's okay if we aren't constantly doing what WE had planned, so long as we are diligent we will be led to do what GOD has planned! We've taken to really enjoying the simple moments in our mission, to love those that we teach, and to love our purpose. We got to see the Dobbs family who is getting baptized on Saturday. This is me with their little girl, riding the reindeer that Brian (the dad getting baptized) has been building! 
We spent a lot of Sunday out trying to contact people, but most everyone was at Sunday night church. No big deal though... it was a beautiful view! 
We also got to spend our evening with the Lewis family who just recently got baptized. I wish you all could see just how much they have used the atonement  in their lives to completely change around their home. It's amazing.
Before coming to the library to email ya'll, I got a call from the Assistants to the President. They were asking about us getting another set of missionary in Sparta!!! I think with there now being 17 baptismal dates set between the Spencer Elders and us Sparta Sisters, President Anderson is beginning to realize just how prepared this area is. I'm reminded back to my first few months in Sparta, where a good day to me was getting a new investigator. Now a good day is when you commit someone to baptism! I think the big difference is that now I'm really striving to see my Heavenly Father's vision for these people, rather than my vision for these people. I'm learning to trust in Him and know that He has a plan, even if I can't see it.
Well, I didn't really gain any new revelation on what to do my training on.... but I guess I should take my own advice and not stress about it. I need to trust that Heavenly Father knows what I should train on, and that the Spirit will guide me to it so long as I'm diligent in trying to follow His will.
Hey.... that was a pretty good concept! Maybe that's what I'll do it on! haha

Love you guys :)
Sister Hochstrasser

P.S President Andersen emailed the WHOLE MISSION with this:

Elders and Sisters,
I just want to tell you about a scare I had last night.  It was 10:45….all the missionary calls for the night were done, and I was satisfied that all the missionaries were home and safe and doing well.  I was just drifting off to sleep when my phone started buzzing with a text.  I woke up and grabbed the phone.  The text was from a number I didn’t recognize.  My phone gives a preview of the text, and then when you touch it, you get the full text.  The preview said, “The Sparta and Spencer missionaries are on fire.”  Wow, my heart rate skyrocketed as I touched to see what other information was there.  The rest of the text said, “They have 12* baptism dates right now, please don’t transfer any of them.”  
I could have killed Brother Shotton, but at the same time, I loved hearing him express his love for these missionaries….. "MY" missionaries.  I love you all so much.  I hope you know I revel in your successes, and my heart breaks when you struggle.  Sister Andersen and I truly feel like you are ours….we all are in this together.  We are all ONE…in purpose, and in love for one another.  “…..I say unto you be one, and if ye are not one, ye are not mine.”  We are all His.  Let’s all be patient, and  loving, and forgiving to one another.  Let’s truly be His. 
Please have a fantastic week.  Be bold.  Do those things that will help you feel the Spirit and then go out and teach with power and authority.  Listen to the Spirit, and challenge those you teach to make and keep commitments.  Let’s finish August like we did June. 
We love you all!!
President Andersen

The Sparta and Spencer Missionaries are on FIRE!
*that number is now 17

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

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