Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Members and Missionaries

This week went ridiculously fast. But at the same time I feel like it lasted a whole month. This will get better and better as you read, so try to stick with me till the end.

My exchange this week was with Sister Bybee. She came here to Paducah with me! We went out teaching with a member named Sister Ihrig. However, she prefers we call her "Lady Van Tiger". She is an artist and is not afraid to be different! She was born with hardly any fingers or toes, plays every type of harp you could imagine, and is extremely sweet. She always wears bold wild bright patterns all layered on top of each other. Sister Bybee thought she was a gypsy...  but after coming to know her, realized she's quite the Christlike and influential sister! In fact, all of the less actives we went to see with her absolutely adored her! Because she's a member, she knew about the less actives we went and saw. She knew their stories and what they needed. Members are so helpful to the work! Here is her business card. 
That night we had a relief society activity in which one of the ladies we saw with Sister Ihrig came because she has felt so fellowshipped by the member!  The activity was on being friendly, so of course the leaders in charge asked us to participate because missionaries are always friendly! :) we put on a skit in which I was "Violet the Monster" hahaha.
The next day was the day we did a mission wide fast. President Andersen asked every missionary to fast and call down the powers of heaven on our mission. It was quite the experience! That day we had a district meeting in Illinois, in which  I did a training that I was given just two hours to prepare. Luckily since we were all fasting, we were all very close with the spirit so it went pretty well. That evening we did a church tour with a woman named Regina, along with her family. She kept saying how big the church was... It was overwhelming to her! We explained that the church is the same everywhere, no matter the building. In Sparta we were in an old grocery store. When Sister Smith was in Livingston they were in a carport. So we are very blessed to have a huge building. :)
We have been biking all over the place this week! Basically what that means is that we have had hardly any lessons. BUT the lessons we have had were quality! In fact, this whole week in Paducah has been quality. I had the coolest experience while riding in the car with a member. I was feeling just really happy. I stopped to evaluate WHY I was feeling this, and decided I was so happy because the restoration is true. I wasn't thinking directly about Joseph Smith or the significance of the Book of Mormon or anything, all I was thinking was that the message I share is true and the spirit was just hitting me and confirming it. I realized that the stronger my testimony is in the message I share, the more joy I have. I don't know why those two things correlate. My only understanding is that when we have the gospel, the spirit wants to be with us and bring us those godly feelings. I don't ever want to lose this knowledge I have that through a prophet, God has restored all the ordinances and doctrines and just TRUTHS that were lost. And as we follow his gospel truths, we will be happy.
 Friday was Sister Smiths birthday, so I tackled her first thing in the morning singing happy birthday and got to make her breakfast and stuff. We had an MLC (missionary leadership counsel) meeting down in Tennessee this day so it was a really special day for her! I feel so blessed to be a sister training leader. We got to counsel with Elder Kopishke of the Seventy and Elder Meredith for three hours straight. Eight sets of sister training leaders and eight sets of zone leaders and two very powerful men. It was so amazing! One thing that really stood out to me were the statistics for baptisms in correlation with member present lessons. You guys, if you don't go out with the missionaries, there will not be any baptisms! Studies have and are proving that this is true. When you take the sacrament every week you are covenanting with Heavenly Father that you will be a member missionary. If your ward is not the type of ward to keep that covenant, then Heavenly Father is not going to trust you to take care of his children and he will not send them to you. I just wish everyone could see what a dramatic Impact they can have on the church if they would just work with the missionaries.

This week we went to Sister Long's house and had family home evening with an investigator. This investigator is getting baptized. We also went to the Bishop's house with an investigator and had dinner and a lesson. This investigator is getting baptized. We took Sister Koonce to a lesson with an investigator who had never met members before or really progressed much with our lessons. Because of the member, this investigator was at church for the first time ever, this week!  Sister Jones came to pick us up from a lesson downtown and it turns out she totally knows the family we were teaching, so now the family is a lot more interested in the church!
YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE! You don't have to teach, in fact, we ask that you don't. All you have to do is go with the missionaries and be a friend to everyone they introduce you to. Share your story maybe. Tell them how the gospel has helped you. Then be there at church for them so they aren't alone when they come.  I know, I know, you're "busy". But really, we should all be able to take an hour or two every other week to keep our baptismal commitment :). I can promise that the blessings you receive will be far greater than the money you could've made, games you could've played, cleaning you could've done, or TV you could've watched. So will you do it? Will you find time to go out with the missionaries this week?

I know as you make this a priority, you will see miracles. Our investigator Sara does insurance claims for a living. She was driving out to Evansville (aka way far away) to do a claim when she got super lost. So she drove over to a gas station for directions. There was a really kind man there who offered to help. Turns out, he is the neighbor of the man Sara is trying to go do the claim for! He says she can follow him home. When they get there, he warns her about how his neighbor is often grumpy. He offers her water, and she accepts. As he is getting her water she meets his family, and they begin to share the gospel with her. Sara had unintentionally found probably one of the only Mormon families in all of Evansville... Hahaha. She told them she was already meeting with missionaries, but I know this happened because Heavenly Father is so aware of Sara. He knew that this family wouldn't be afraid to do missionary work, and so he entrusted them with his daughter! Would The Lord trust you to take care of one of his children? Could he be confident you would share His love and his gospel? If so, then you will get them!
Sunday was a day to remember. We taught some good lessons, found some great people, and had some...interesting experiences. First off, I can officially say I'm a missionary. Why? Because last night Sister Smith and I were walking down the street and we saw these kids playing basketball. We headed over to them and asked if we could play. We got to do 2 shots. One close up, one far away. We totally made them both too! They were super impressed, so we got to show them a Mormon  message :). That is probably the greatest cliche missionary experience I've had. haha

We went to our landlord's church last night. It was a Pentecostal church. Let me explain to you what happened. We went over there late, and a lady is up front telling about testimony building experiences she had. Except she wasn't really telling about them, she was screaming about them, and everybody was waving their hands in the air and shouting praises to the Lord. After her testifying, they began playing an upbeat song. It was really catchy and I really enjoyed it, until about 10 minutes into the same song when a little old lady got out in the middle aisle with her walker and began doing some kind of dance. Then ALL the little old ladies got up and started following her around the room dancing and moving around.  :) Eventually everybody was standing up and dancing and some people were speaking in tongues and some people were passing out and everybody was dancing and wailing... After about 15 minutes of the same song Sister Smith and I decided we were going to leave... BUT I can definitely tell you I will now and forever remember what people mean when they say "I'm Pentecostal".
I'm so grateful for the restored gospel. I'm grateful for Jesus Christ, and the opportunity we all have to access his Atonement. I'm grateful that His church has been restored, and for the spirit I feel. I'm grateful for the peace that it brings, and the happiness it provides. I know this church is true, and I know Jesus Christ is my Savior. I love Him. I love you! (Kinda makes me want to dance!)

-Sister Hochstrasser

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


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