Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Charity Never Faileth

I want you all to know how much the LITTLE things make such an impact on me. I'm so thankful to those of you who read my blog, write me, comment on a facebook picture, or pray for me. For example, Monday I went to chick-fil-a (my favorite!) all because a family I have never even met has been reading my blog and decided to be thoughtful and send me and my companion a giftcard. How crazy awesome is that? Or my sweet mother sends me the most comfortable skirt ever because I'm getting fat and need something stretchy ;) haha. Some of my dearest friends and family took the time to write me and email me, and even my companion has been so sweet! She always tells me how grateful she is I'm her last companion, and how much she loves me <3. So this week was really hard because a lot of people dropped us and disrespected our message, BUT it was also so good because of you! So THANK YOU!  

This week Heavenly Father has really shown me WHY He has called me to Paducah, Kentucky to be with Sister Smith as a Sister Training Leader.
We started off our 7 days with cutting back a tree for a random lady out in her yard. We just went up to her, asked if we could help, and proceeded to become covered in sap and cotton from this massive tree she needed us to wack back. Okay scratch the sap and cotton part, it wasn't cotton. When I looked closely at all the fuzzy white stuff covering my arms and hair I realized they were bugs. Not as bad as the cicada flying around that are freakishly loud and the size of a small frogs though.
At least I can proudly say I'm one of the few in the mission that has never gotten a tick yet! (I think she just jinxed it!) We also had dinner at this family's house in our ward and we took an investigator! Can I just say how thankful I am for charity? I was told I was "thicker" than the last missionary I replaced, told I should've put school first growing up (I graduated with highest honors!), and when we asked them how being baptized had blessed them- they said it hadn't! In fact, they had no spiritual reason for joining the church whatsoever.
I was offended, I was hurt, and I was judging them because I felt judged. I thought for sure our investigator was going to drop us after all that happened... but guess what? SHE LOVED IT! She adored the family we were with! Isn't that so cool?? It's like Heavenly Father was showing me that my idea of a good lesson is not always what his idea of one is. My idea of a perfect fellow-shipper for our investigators, isn't always his! I found myself really loving this family, because they were helping our investigator. I don't know how that worked, in my mind it shouldn't have, but our investigator left that night excited to be a member of the church. #miracle
This is Sandra, she is an amazing woman and she knows the church is true!

The middle of the week was even more lessons for me on not judging. I went on my first exchange! Basically what that means is that as a Sister Training Leader, I go spend a day with a missionary and help them with their work and act as an example and then I give them advice and report how they are doing to President Andersen. It's a lot of pressure.
I was especially nervous about this exchange because from afar, this Sister missionary just didn't seem like she had the personality type that I could easily mesh with. I prayed A LOT before going.  I had this judgment in my mind, and of course, Heavenly Father helped me have charity again.  I had the best time ever with her! She is a Spanish speaking missionary, so we got to do all of our teaching in Spanish! I learned how to say "Hello my name is Sister Hochstrasser, I'm a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. We bring you a message about Jesus Christ" in her language (: With her, I learned to love how she talked a lot, but she also LISTENED a lot. She may take charge, but she's excited to help you get better. She's patient, she's fun, and she and I had a blast. Spanish sisters spend most of their time just trying to find Spanish people to teach, so we knocked doors for 3 HOURS. It was exhausting, but because Heavenly Father helped me have a great love for this sister, we were able to make those the best 3 hours of tracting ever! Maybe we didn't have a lot of success, but we did have a lot of laughs. I'm so grateful for the friendship she and I now have. I adore her! My mission is opening up my eyes to see the importance of not placing judgments.

Let me share a few more examples. There are two recent converts to the church I want to talk about. One is named John. John is an older man, who used to be an alcoholic. Now, he's probably the most Christlike person I've ever met! He's getting his FOOT CUT OFF this week and he's cool with it because he knows it's God's will. He studies his scriptures EVERY DAY. He has NEVER missed a day of church. None of his family is supportive of him coming to church, yet he is so kind to them and prays everyday they will one day join. Isn't that amazing?
Ella is the other recent convert.  At first glance, I would never think she'd be Mormon.  She has lots of tattoos and piercings, short purple hair, wears lots of black, and is AWESOME. Like, you would not believe how amazing this girl is. She came out with us missionaries this week and we got lost and ended up in metropolis (that's the superman capital!) hahaha. She knows everything about Disney and is going to school to be a mechanical engineer. Sweet, right? I adore her. On Friday we had zone conference. That's when multiple missionary zones gather together for a huge meeting with tons of training.  Being a Sister Training Leader, I was asked to do one of them. (Insert loud heart thumping sounds) Sister Smith and I were to do a training on primary, and how we can teach our investigators about our children's program in the church. We decided to wear matching outfits... we needed something silly to keep our moods light since we were both pretty nervous. It ended up being great, lots of people noticed us in the crowd and commented on what we were wearing. haha. One thing I've seen on my mission is that Heavenly Father has always blessed me with a companionship that every missionary wants.

Sister Smith and I are best friends! Together, we did a ROCKING training that ended up going better than we expected! We did our training 4 different times, and each time the spirit helped us to say what that group needed to hear. 

I got to meet the sisters I'm over in my zone. They are all really fun and I look forward to exchanges with them :). That night I could just FEEL the spirit working to guide my teaching. It's just the greatest thing when you realize that you are worthy to have the Holy Ghost direct your lessons. 
Saturday was by far the hardest day I've had in a long time. So many people cancelled on us, dropped us, and all of our members ended up not being able to join us. We started doing weekly planning for the next week and Sister Smith and I about lost it. Well, I actually did lose it. I had a big melt down. I don't' know if you know much about how missionary work is organized, or much about what we call the "area book", but basically there are tons and tons and tons of random people on our list, and even more that are inactive members of the church, and it's all a big disorganized mess. Sister Smith and I are just at a loss of how on earth we are supposed to get things back in order and who we are supposed to actually put our effort into. BUT I also know that the reason the Lord has placed me in Paducah is exactly for this. 
When I came to Sparta, there wasn't ENOUGH going on. Here in Paducah, there is TOO MUCH going on. I'm being stretched way out of my comfort zone. I'm doing things I've never done. Yet God trusts me to fix this. And I don't have to fix it alone, I have a wonderful companion, we've got 2 other sets of missionaries, we have members, and we have Jesus! I know that I judged Paducah way too harshly this day. But now, I am asking for the charity I need to love this area. Just like with Sparta, all it needs is a little TLC and some elbow grease and Heavenly Father will have this place a beautiful garden in no time :). How grateful I am to be a laborer in His field!
Before I forget, I'd better tell you two silly things that I did. One, Sister Smith and I tried to formulate a prank we could play on the Elders. We got the Hermanas (Spanish speaking sisters) in on it, but it ended up being a huge fail and we had to sheepishly go explain ourselves to them at the end of the night. hahaha. I'm pretty sure the Elders think we are wackos now.
I also was very passionate with a less active lady the other day who wasn't coming to church and I just up and told her, "You are being so dumb!". She couldn't believe I said that! I couldn't believe I had said that! Luckily, as soon as it happened she thanked me, and said I wasn't just some robot missionary, I was being real and she needed to hear that. I would say that the spirit guided me to say it, but then Sister Andersen (the mission presidents wife) comes into my head and I know she'd probably whack me with a magazine if she found out! hahaha

Sunday was great! It was fast Sunday, so of course testimony meeting was amazing. During gospel principles, a couple investigators started getting excited about "uniting together" and how "as one we are nothing, but together we are strong" and "standing in unity" and "our founding fathers" and all this stuff... everyone was getting really excited and I worried there was going to be some sort of revolution taking place haha. (Insert Les Miserables theme song).  We got to teach the primary kids how to invite their friends to the primary program we will be having in the main meeting next Sunday, and we also got to teach Sarah after church! We taught her about temples. She actually got really upset when she found out there were only like 140 around the world. She thought it was super unfair and couldn't believe there weren't more. hahaha. I wish everyone was like Sarah! She is talking to her boss today about getting Sundays off... prayer in your heart for her so she can be baptized!

See the snake?!
Lots of Love,
Sister Hochstrasser

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

P.S. Stay tuned, next week I'm hoping to have enough time to share some spiritual insights with you all, hopefully it will be good!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds as if you're learning as much as teaching; good lessons all. And, G-Gram and I are proud of
    your personal growth and happy you are able to share with so many. We love you!