Monday, September 15, 2014

Product of Our Circumstances

I always come to this computer bummed that I can't just share with you baptism after baptism. I guess in a way I'm grateful for that though. The weeks that are tough make the others that much sweeter. God's law says there must be an opposition in all things. Our own parents, Adam and Eve, had to fall so they could experience sorrow and therefore understand joy.

So like I mentioned in my last post, I get to go on exchanges every week with the sisters in my zone. This week I went with a Sister Missionary in Mayfield. We played badminton for our morning exercises, lol.. We are two VERY different people, and so we got to learn a lot from each other! I think it's really cool how lucky I am to get to meet so many different missionaries and learn from them in such a short amount of time. It's kind of like dating--we are supposed to date around a lot, right? Well the more people I serve with, the better understanding I have of what type of missionary I want to become. I suppose it could be the same with the more people you go and date, the greater idea you have of what you want in a spouse!

I learned a lot this week about giving correction and being an example. At the end of our exchange, this Sister Missionary told me she learned from it the importance of not complaining. I thought that was really great, considering we never once verbally discussed that. 

Complaining is definitely something that can cause a huge stunt in the growth of you and your area. You know the little story of the train who said "I think I can, I think I can" as he chugged up the hill? Well that isn't all just happy fairy tale stuff. That's psychology. When we tell ourselves we can, we can! But when we say we can't, we really can't. When we complain, we are in essence saying that we have become a product of our circumstances. We give up our ability to change. The thing is, we are NOT who we can become and we are not in any sort of permanent circumstance.

Elder Ballard of the twelve apostles said: "I believe in the principle that you ought to act “as if” you were the person you would like to become. As you do that, you will grow into that kind of person. Ultimately your very actions, your attitude, will lead you into being the kind of person that you want to be... We must learn to become creators of circumstances and not creatures of them. Oh, how important that is at your stage in life."

Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, every single one of us has the potential to be like our Heavenly Father, every single one of us can make a bad situation into something great. It takes constant faith though. When we have faith in Jesus Christ, we are willing to act to do the things He would have us do. We understand that faith is a principle of power. Faith is not dependent on our circumstances, it is dependent on Jesus Christ who is a constant. As we put our faith in His will, we will be provided with the power needed to accomplish miracles!

George Bernard Shaw explained: “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. People who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.”

I know that I recently talked about gratitude in one of my blog posts. Elder Uchdorf of the quorum of the twelve suggested that "we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation". We are free to choose how we respond and react to the situations we are placed in, and the action we take is directly correlated with how it turns out. Okay so now you're all thinking, "No, not this circumstance I'm in. I can't make that change." That's not what I'm saying. You really don't have a whole lot of control over your environment. But you have a whole lot of control over yourself, don't you? We are constantly changing creatures. We determine how we are molded. Whether we are molded by our circumstances, or we are molded by our faith. Our attitude and actions can either hinder us or liberate us.

Meet Hermana Hoferitza, an awesome example of being happy despite her situation
 This week I learned some serious lessons on not complaining, and allowing myself to become a product of my circumstance.

Not going to lie though, it was one of the rougher weeks. It's one of the first times I could really feel that my missionary fire was fading. They say the "older" you get in the mission, the less hopeful you become about everything becoming a miracle. I promised myself I would never be like that, and here I was- being like that!

Things just weren't working out. We started wasting time, becoming discouraged, and almost in a sense giving up. We would never admit that to each other, but it's true. Our attitudes weren't what they should be. We ran out of miles on our car, we lost our phone, no body wanted to listen to us, nobody was home, the other missionaries around us weren't having any luck, the ward leaders weren't doing what we needed... complain complain complain. Do you see how awful that is?!
Now let me share with you a miracle.

We CHANGED our attitudes, and our circumstances CHANGED!

It's 8:40 at night. The most awkward time for a missionary. Everybody is going to bed, it's dark, nobody wants to get a call, nobody wants to answer their door, there's not enough time to really teach a lesson, and you still have 20 minutes before you're allowed to be back home. What do you do? The easy option is to run to the church, update your ipad area book and maybe see if you have any facebook messages. But tonight, we weren't going to take that. Instead, we went to Huck's... gas station. Yeah, not an actual person, but a place. It was something! We walk in and immediately this lady comes up to us and asks if we're missionaries. Are we ever! Turns out, she has a niece who just came home from a mission, and so she was a little bit familiar with our faith. We quickly got her information, and added her as a friend on facebook. Next, we spot a less active lady working behind the register. We go up to her and she starts getting really excited! She grabbed her co-worker and says to her "remember how you were asking about the light in my eyes and the joy on my face? It's because of these two sisters!" The co-worker (Her name is Laura) turns to us and asks us where we're from. Sister Smith says Utah, and she tells us she's from there too! Actually, more than being from Utah, she's a MEMBER OF THE CHURCH! She had moved around so much her records had been lost, and we had just found her! She asked us to please come to her home soon, because she wants to hear the message we share. Then, she goes and grabs ANOTHER co-worker and brings her over. She tells us what a trial this woman has been having, and so we suggest a prayer. So there we are, in Huck's gas station, all standing in this fairly large circle of people holding hands and praying. There's customers all around us, even our land lord walked in, but we didn't care, we were experiencing a MIRACLE! That was probably the best last 20 minutes of a day I've ever had :). I know that as we are obedient and diligent, we will NOT become products of our circumstances.

So I also have to tell you about Trinity. Since we are out of miles, we are biking. We decided to bike over to the Varner's home, because they aren't too far away. Sister Varner is a less active sister, and she has 2 little girls. One of them is named Trinity. She is 11. We taught Trinity about the restoration of Jesus Christ's church, and set a baptismal date with her. Trinity said the closing prayer for us before we left, and in it said the most precious things. She thanked Heavenly Father for Joseph Smith, and how through him Christ's true church could be here for us. She thanked him for prayer, and how he is always listening to us no matter what. She thanked him for answering prayers, because He loves us and will listen to our requests. She thanked him for the missionaries, and how we are helping her family come closer to God and understand him better. It was so so so cute. She has never really prayed personally before, and so we committed her to say her nightly prayers out loud kneeling by her bed. She was excited to try. :)

Since our car's a no go, Sister Smith and I have been getting creative with our mode of transportation ;)
OH! There is ONE baptism I get to tell all of you about! Remember Clem in Sparta?! Well Saturday was his special day! He was baptized and I was there! No... not actually there in Sparta. I WISH. Rather, I was there on my ipad! Isn't that so cool?! I got to speak with him, as well as Sister Kohler and a lot of other members of the branch over there. It was so exciting and we were all so happy to see each other! I watched Brother Lewis give the opening prayer (his family was baptized last July) and I saw the Dobbs (baptized in August) and President Wilson and the Tuckers and many others! What a special day. I'm so blessed to have been able to be apart of Clem's adventure in progressing to the waters of baptism, and the gate to eternal life.
Baptism Day Skyping to everyone in Sparta!
 A few weeks ago I mentioned Kyla and Ellie to you... they're the AWESOME young women that come out with us once a month. We always have so much fun with them. Members seriously make the time just fly. We see miracles when the ward is involved. I hope you all back home make a special effort to go out with the missionaries every month, too. All it takes is an hour or two, and you don't even have to teach! You just get to go and share your testimony and smile and nod and be that familiar face our investigators will see when they come to church. Plus, I'm sure the missionaries will make sure you have a great experience. As you can tell by these pictures, we sure did ;)
This is a true story:
*sisters walking down the street, spot a girl on her laptop, make a bee line for her*
"Hey! What's your name?"
"It's good to meet you Serenity, my name is Sister Hochstrasser and this is Sister Smith. We are missionaries for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, have you ever heard of that church?"
"No, I don't think I have."
"Oh okay! Do you and your family have a church you're attending? We would love to share with ya'll our message!"
"Well, we aren't interested. My dad's about to create his own."
*facepalm*   #SouthernMissionaryProblems
Thanks for reading my blog, and thanks for writing me! 
Sister Hochstrasser

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

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