Monday, September 1, 2014


Hey howdy hey! Happy fall ya'll! ;)
So Monday night was roooouuugh stuff saying goodbye to Sparta. It was very hard for me to say goodbye, and in return, I had no idea what I meant to these people until this day. The hugs, tears, gifts, promises to keep in touch and thanks for changing lives. I guess it was hard for both of us to leave each other! 

Charles and Dewanna. They are getting baptized in Sparta October 4th. 
Tuesday we drove down to Franklin for transfers. (The Tuckers drove me. They have been amazing and so supportive, and one of my homes away from home. I will miss them very much!) There, we were told our area had become the fastest growing in the mission! It was sad saying goodbye to Sister Kohler, but there was also an excitement in joining with Sister Smith. Sister Smith is in the last transfer of her mission, and a wonderful missionary. She was actually my sister training leader back when I was being trained! So I still remember our first exchange (she and my companion switched spots for a day so she could train me) and I remember writing in my journal about how cool she was. Now we are companions! She is from Utah :), and I'm honored that Heavenly Father wants us to be best friends!
We drove to Paducah Kentucky together, and I was relieved to still see all the trees and beauty there, that I had left in Tennessee. The only difference is Paducah is waaaayyy bigger! It's actually been quite the adjustment. In Sparta all we had was a walmart and a sonic. Here we have every fast food place you can think of, and even a mall! Also, there's not just white people here! Hahaha! It's so cool! I love the diversity :)
This is the Tucker's bird, Rufus. I had to say goodbye, too.
Well, I don't know all of our investigators just yet, but there is one I want to tell you about. Her name is Sarah. Sarah went to college with a lady in our ward, so she is a referral. Every lesson we have taught her, she has then turned around and taught us. Like, we taught her the law of tithing, and she began to expand on how our relationship with money should never be stronger than our relationship with God, so it's an easy commandment to keep. Next we taught her the word of wisdom, and she pointed out to us that our comfort shouldn't be in a junk food, a cigarette, or a beer. It should be in God! She said she was looking for a life style change anyway, so she has no problem with that commandment either. In fact, Sarah is PERFECT. The only problem is that she works on Sundays. Please join in praying with us that her boss will allow her to take time off so she can come to church and be baptized!

Sister Kohler! I know she will do amazing things in Sparta
Sister Smith, my new companion
 I'm also not too familiar with the members here yet, but we did take 2 young women out tracting with us! Basically, we split off into 1 missionary 1 member and decided to go knock on doors. We figured we would make it a competition.  First, I took Ellie. Ellie is a recent convert in the church. She used to not believe in God, until she heard the voice of President Monson! As he and I were walking down the street we saw a family outside by their car. We picked up the pace and made a bee line for them. I told her that Heavenly Father never put someone in our path on accident. We talked to this African American family, and the mom started telling us how her son didn't have faith anymore and they didn't know what to do. She said we had definitely come for a reason and that she even had goosebumps when we talked. We made an appointment to go back the next day. Then we met Reggie. He is a professional saxophone player. Reggie has a Book of Mormon, reads it, and loves it. Needless to say, we will be back. Then Sister Smith and I met up and swapped young women, and I went out with Kyla. We met lots of new people too. Both of these girls just blew my mind with how comfortable they were talking to and teaching complete strangers. They are fearless missionaries and I hope my own siblings, friends, and future children can be like them! :).

My team won the tracting competition, and as a prize I was given a Chuck E Cheese coin. It's now taped in my journal ;) haha. We went out for ice cream after. Somehow Sister Smith and I got peer pressured into drinking hot sauce with them. Please don't ask. Also, aged pepper is about as nasty as aged hotdogs. Bluck. But the icecream was good!
On splits with Ellie and Kyla, rewarded ourselves with ice cream :)
We had a miracle happen this weekend! Sister Smith and I were driving and we were having this deep conversation... We kind of weren't paying attention to how far out in the middle of nowhere our gps was taking us until we arrived late at night in a faraway neighborhood. We couldn't find the house the gps was taking us too, and we were pretty disappointed. Then Sister Smith randomly pointed to a house across the street and said, "That one!" so away we went! The lady who answered the door was glad to see us; she said she had met missionaries many months ago and was just waiting for them to come back! How cool is that!?
My final miracle is a little more personal. There has been some... issues... With the missionaries and the church leaders in the Paducah ward. As I heard the stories, I became more and more fearful about how this was going to affect the work here. I fasted that Sunday that the leaders' hearts would be softened, or that something would happen so things worked out. During church, I met the leaders with caution, but found that I immediately took a liking to them. That night, we went to their house for dinner and established a good relationship and had a great time! I was so surprised that I felt this way, because the things I had been told made me expect a lot worse! I started thinking that maybe the leaders didn't need to change or have their hearts softened, maybe we missionaries needed to change and have OUR hearts softened. I developed a game plan and talked to Sister Smith about it. I know she has dealt with some things here that I haven't, so she's currently a little more weary, but I have a LOT of faith that things are going to be okay. That night at home, Sister Smith told me how she really feels like between the two of us, some things are really going to change for the better here in Paducah. I told her I could feel it, too. There's an energy of anxious anticipation in the air. It's a positive energy. It's the kind of energy that makes miracles. It's the energy of change.

Change is the purpose and central blessing of life. This week I have really studied how we can change, and why it's necessary to be able to return to live with God. I think of Heavenly Father, and how he created our spirits. He has knows us for eternity, so he knows us better than even we know ourselves. His vision of what we can become is a whole galaxy compared to our spec of dust of an idea. Before Heavenly Father created our spirits, we know that we existed  as intelligences. There is some small piece of us that does not belong to God, it belongs to us. I think of how everything we tend to sacrifice: time, talents, tithing, etc. is merely a return of what we have been given. Therefore the only thing that is of serious worth to give, is ourselves. Our WILL. I know that the only way to truly change for the better is to use our will to invite in light. We are an accumulation of everything we have ever said, thought, felt, heard, seen, and done. We are ever evolving, ever CHANGING creatures. When we do something good, we take a step forward on the path of light. When we do something bad, we take a step in the path of dark. Kind of like a fork in the road--the further down one path we go, the harder it is to take a leap to the other. That is why the more we make good choices, the easier it is to not make bad choices. As we give ourselves to God, the spirit can more fully enter into our hearts. Doesn't it make sense to allow the artist who can see you, paint your portrait, rather than your own blind incapable hand?
"He will create of you a masterpiece, you will create of you a smudge" (the 4th missionary)

I know that this transfer is going to include a lot of change. I know it can only be done as we give ourselves to Heavenly Father and allow him to mold us into something far more useful and beautiful than what we ourselves could think up. I can't wait to see Heavenly Father change this mission, change Paducah, and change me.

Sister Hochstrasser

p.s We found a pile of junk and being the cool missionaries we are, decided to stand in it and act dramatic, lol.  On the left is a picture of me in a golf shirt. One of my favorite people has her own golf clothing line. She gave me this shirt as a goodbye, and requested I send her a picture in it.

Write to me!!! (, an email, or a hand written letter!)

Sister Jennifer Hochstrasser
Tennessee Nashville Mission
105 West Park Drive Suite #190
Brentwood, TN  37027  (can't email you back due to time constraints on my computer, but if you write me, I can write you back)

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