Monday, December 22, 2014

The Season's for a Reason

Merry Christmas!! :D  This has been a week of learning love.
We began by doing sooooo much service. There's seriously no better way to learn to love someone than by serving them.  The first commandment is to love God. “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Christ taught that we  demonstrate our love when we help and serve each other. So just a few things I got to do this week are: Getting to ballroom dance with very elderly ladies, "It's been so long since I've done this!" one exclaimed as I spun her around verrryyy slowly so she didn't fall over, haha.  We also raked up leaves for hours, and I can't tell you how many fridges I've deep cleaned... *shutters*. BUT It's all been a blessing and I'm grateful for the opportunity to give of myself and better feel the Lord's love for others!

A great example of loving comes from our  lesson with Natalie this week. It began kind of hostile, with lots of attacking questions.  We were trying to answer them, when the member we brought, Sister Long, stopped and said, "I know this is random and way out in left field, but..." she proceeded to share with Natalie the spirit she felt in her home when she first walked in. She pointed out how she had noticed her scriptures on the table, her religious program on the TV, and she just felt that she was doing good things in her home. She told her how she could sense her love for God, and faith to do His will. Sister Long began to cry. When Natalie apologized for maybe hurting our feelings, we explained to her that the reason we were feeling emotional was not because she offended us, but because we were so filled with Gods love for her.  It brought the Holy Ghost into our lesson like none other, and we were able to teach the restoration after that. It was beautiful, and Natalie is so excited to pray about the Book of Mormon know that she sees we're not a crazy cult! ;). I'm so grateful for Sister Long teaching me how to love others, no matter what they say or think.

Remembering this lesson, we went a few days later to teach Amiyah. She is a 16 year old girl who at one point was golden, but has recently been struggling with the Book of Mormon. Her family came to church one day, and after that they refused to come back. We were pretty sure her mom anti-ed her. We have been so sad because she thinks God is telling her this church is not true. When we knocked on her door, her mom answered. She came and sat on the porch with us and we talked for a little bit. I felt the Holy Ghost whisper to me that I needed to show her the "He is the Gift" video. As we watched it, a great spirit came and I watched the mom (Lolo) begin to smile. When the movie was over, she seemed surprise at how the video focused on the Savior, and a bible verse. She asked us lots of questions about our beliefs. She admitted to us the reason her family didn't want to come back to church. As we resolved her concerns, my heart was filled with love.

That whole entire lesson I just couldn't stop smiling at Lolo. She shared with us the desires of her heart. She has wanted to get baptized, but hasn't felt ready for it yet. She visits so many different churches, and is just trying to find truth. She makes sure her kids have curfews, live the word of wisdom (granted, she doesn't know about that yet), and that they always have God in their hearts.
At a young age she has been shot, been a gang-banger, and gone through hell and back. As she expounded on her experiences I felt impressed to share Alma 36 in the Book of Mormon with her. She LOVED it. She wanted her own copy of this book, so she could take time and read it. She wanted nothing more than to feel as Alma felt, free of guilt and shame and triumphant in her God. Lolo is the most amazing woman ever, I can't wait to watch her life change as she begins to live the gospel we will teach her!

But the miracles don't stop there. On Sunday, you would not believe who came to church!! I'm talking less actives who haven't come in YEARS. And they loved it! Want to know what else? There was a new girl, named Alivia, sitting in the pews that said she was from Utah.
She is and 18 years old living on her own, and is super well versed in the gospel. She was like a long lost best friend. I got her number and couldn't wait to take her out on teaching appointments with us. Can you say knew ward missionary? She was so friendly! Fast forward 2 hours and the relief society is announcing visitors. Alivia introduces herself, and explains to the sisters that she is so happy to be here, and while she never got a chance with the missionaries back home, she can't wait to pick a date to be baptized here. SHE WAS A DIAMOND (greater than golden) INVESTIGATOR AND WE DIDNT EVEN KNOW IT. It was the best Sunday ever.

Also, the weather here has been pretty nice. Like, light sweater or cardigan nice. Kentucky is so weird hahaha.

So remember how I said we had set up a basketball and volleyball team?
Well this Thursday none of our investigators ended showing up, but most of the primary and youth did! I'll share with you a few special

"Everyone pause! We just had pizza with jalapeños on it and I just threw up a little bit and it went my nose... It's NOT good the second time!" -Sam (14)  Also, every time my team got a point we would make some sort of animal noise and motion. Point #6 was going to be a snake. Sister Cotton was on the other team and working to motivate them, so she
goes: "we CANNOT let them get a snake! That would be SO embarrassing!"
Then I served the ball and it went straight to her and she freaked out and hit the ball way out of bounds. It was super funny.

I really do love my companion! She's been probably the best thing for me these past 2 transfers, I've never struggled so much on my mission, but I feel like I've probably never grown as much either. Sister Cotton is one of those people I know I won't fully appreciate until after she's gone. I know she only has one more transfer left, so I'm praying I can stay here with her to help finish off her mission. We have no idea what will happen come transfer calls on Saturday, but I trust it will be whatever the Lord wants. We always joke that we'll be old out of shape cat ladies together one day. But then we realized that we don't even like cats that much,  so instead we're going to be no-pet body builders! hehe

On a serious note, we got a call from the mission president's wife recently that has just changed my whole idea of leadership. Sister Cotton and I had wanted to do a group message about maintaining modest clothing since sometimes our sisters don't always keep dress code, so we called to get permission from Sister Andersen. For some reason, instead of being excited about it, she wanted to talk to president.
When she called us back she asked us not to do it, she said president didn't want our role to be constant correction. If they see us as always harping on them, they won't trust us. They said to let the correction over things like the dress code, be something they take care of. I was shocked. Hadn't  I just spent these last two transfers learning to bear down and give correction? Was that not my role? I'm realizing that while correcting is definitely one of my responsibilities as a sister training leader, it's not my only responsibility. The white hand book says of a leader: "Their goal is not merely to supervise or motivate, but to lift, encourage, inspire, and bless". Now, I'm not saying I haven't done my best to do these things, but I suppose I just had never thought about part of my calling being to merely love. I can testify that this is in fact what Heavenly Father wants me to do, because it feels right to me. :)

I hope we can all remember the importance of love, especially at this time of year. Christ is the reason for the season. I know that we have this season for a reason! May all of us take this chance to show greater charity to our fellow man through service, listening, laughing, and loving.


Sister Hochstrasser
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 Last minute gift shopping? Sick of all the commercializing? Here's an idea! Check out this article for 5 easy gift ideas that bring Christ back into Christmas

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