Monday, February 23, 2015

Slip and Fall: The Role of the Atonement

I think the majority of this week was spent sitting inside, snowed in from the storms. Tennessee was on level II weather alert for a bit,  HAHA. It's like a normal day in Washington for me ;). It was good though, I got to spend 4+ hours daily just studying the atonement (as recommended by my mission president) so my eyes have really been open to the role of the Savior in my life.

We had a long time inside, so we got creative with our activities after a bit. We studied.  We made cookies we didn't have all the ingredients for (they turned out fine, we used substitutes). We studied. We worked out a ton (Thank you T25). We studied. We cuddled on the couch and watched "Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration" (WHICH by the way is the greatest Mormon chick-flick ever. Joseph and Emma are so cute and it's all just so sad...).

The beginning of the week was my companions birthday! So I got up early and decorated for her (:
We studied some more. And then we got really stir-crazy so we went out to our courtyard and iceskated (it was that slippery).

We had to have a mission leadership conference call because the weather was too bad for a real meeting. We found out that we are done being the "tester" mission for iPads and facebook and will now be getting our own personal iPads and going off facebook for a few months. When they incorporate it back in, they're going to start doing it in such a way that missionaries learn discipline with technology that will help them for the rest of their lives and in teaching their children. I can't wait! 

Church was canceled due to the weather. This was really sad. Quoting my companion: "WHAT!? CHURCH CAN'T BE CANCELED! MISSIONARIES HAVE TO TAKE THE SACRAMENT OR THEY DIE!!".... Yeah, she's the most dramatic person in the UNIVERSE;)When it was somewhat safe to go out Sister Oldroyd took me to a famous chiropractor who works on celebrities and super wealthy clients. (I'm talking so wealthy they have their own chiropractic table in their house for her to come work on them). Anyway, we teach her, so she does the missionaries for free. Every week. It's so nice. [Huge blessing!]

With the weather starting to improve we determined to go out and tract. We headed to Nolensville which is the central focus of my area and narrowed our knocking options down to two streets. We chose the one on the right and didn't have much success. Because it was icy and pouring down rain, we had a bit of a struggle climbing to the top of one driveway in particular. Nobody answered, so on our way back down I slipped and slid down her driveway... It was kind of fun! When we reached the bottom, she opened the door. We kept walking, but I just knew we had to go back and talk to her while she was home! We worked our way back up and she wasn't interested. So on our way back down I slipped and slid AGAIN!!! 

Soaking wet and icy, we left for home to change. Sister Oldroyd and I thought that maybe we just weren't supposed to tract the street on the right, and determined to go try the left street (Alec St) the next day.
"This was probably supposed to happen" Sister Oldroyd assured me.
After changing we didn't have lots of time so we decided to work close to home. Turns out my companion was right about me slipping and having to come home for a reason, because we just happened to catch Joey and TJ (now two new investigators) standing on their front porch!! There is no way we would've ever met them in Nolensville where we had just been, it was a miracle! New investigators are precious, I was so grateful! 
"He may not immediately make your path easy [or dry], because doing so might actually hinder your progress and development and happiness in the long run. But He WILL be with you, He WILL help you refuse to give up, as you call Upon His name and continue to try to give Him your whole heart" (Line upon Line: Finding Joy in Progress; Prawitt)

This truth was confirmed to me over and over this week. There were so many times when I literally and metaphorically would slip and fall, and I knew that it was Heavenly Fathers will.
One of the most asked questions in this world is why a loving God would stand back and allow His children to slip and slide. When Jospeh Smith was in Liberty Jail he cried "O God, where art thou?... How long shall they hand be stayed...? Yea, O Lord, how long shall [thy people]suffer...before...thy bowels be moved with compassion toward them? (D&C 121:1-3)
Ballet de Ice
Sometimes it's especially hard to accept our trials when those around us "seemingly much less obedient... Triumph even as we weep. But time is measured only unto man, says Alma (Alma 40:8), and God has a very good memory" ( The Will of the Father in all things, Holland)

We did go back the next day to Alec St, and door after door was shut... until about halfway through. Then we met Kim. Kim doesn't know it, but it was the promise from Heavenly Father that we would find her that kept us going that day. We trusted that we would have to endure hard times in order to receive the good. We didn't know if that "good" would come at house #8, the end of the street, or on a completely different day, but we knew it would come. Kim said yes to the missionary discussions!

"Blessed art thou... for those things which thou hast done... And thou... Hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments. And now, because thou has done this... I will bless thee forever; I will make the mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yeah even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will" (Helaman 10:4-5)

I have a testimony that Heavenly Father wants nothing more than to bless us, which is why we have to struggle sometimes.

One night we saw that the roads were clearing up and decided to go see a family. On our way there Sister Oldroyd thought of a different family we could see. When she turned into the neighborhood she started freaking out, she couldn't stop the car! We rolled all the way down the hill on pure ice, until we reached the bottom. We got out and literally ice skated to the ladies house, but to no avail, she wasn't home. Carefully sliding across the ice we made it back to the car. While Sister Oldroyd drove I pushed it  whenever I could find a stable place for my feet, and we got it about half way up the street. We switched spots and the car began to backslide. It was the scariest thing. We slipped around on the ice both feet and wheels and nobody was willing to help. We prayed, and felt like we needed to leave the car and start walking. On our way across the slippery slope of doom,  a nice couple picked us up, and we were able to talk to them about their experience with Mormonism. It was a neat experience. When we got home we got ahold of the  elders and they had a MIRACLE going and getting our car for us. They said they drove it halfway up the hill like we had, and then it started to backslide... So they called on the Lord and suddenly it shot forward out of the ice and out of the neighborhood. FREE!

You see, Heavenly Father didn't let that miracle happen to US directly because we were supposed to talk the people who picked us up, and for whatever other reason. It was awesome. We followed the Lords counsel and sought his will. We have to be careful to not miss his out stretched hand when it's offered!

I have come to know for myself that the Lord lets us stumble because he loves us! We came to earth to learn by hands on experience, even though that can often lead to sorrow and sin. Sin cuts us off from God, but this is why He sent his son to pay the price of those mistakes. The Atonement is in place to protect us as we learn from practice what choices bring joy and which ones bring misery.

"Because of the Atonement, we can learn from our experience without being condemned by it. So the Atonement is not just a doctrine about erasing black marks-- it is the core doctrine that allows human development. Thus its purpose is to facilitate growth, ultimately helping us to develop the Christ-like capacities we need to live with God".  (Fear Not I am With Thee: The Atonement and Personal Growth)

We slip but we are becoming stronger every time we get back up.

Our miracle investigator Jeff has been feeling these exact same things. He was in a really high place (from the world's perspective) before everything turned on him and now he's at his lowest point. Jeff fell. Now, the Lord has put the church in his life to help build him back up, stronger than he was before.

Sis Hochstrasser was Skyped into this baptism occassion in Paducah, KY after her xfer to Nashville
Our last lesson with him is actually kind of funny. It was at McDonald's. Jeff told us how the devil has really been working on him because on the bus a drunk man just wouldn't leave him alone. As he shared this with us, an old guy walked over to our table and started going off about the "blue and red tunnels they don't teach in mormon doctrine". One's really hot and one's really cold, and if you get heart surgery you're in for the worse. The guy explained how he couldn't figure out where the blue tunnel led, but he knew the red one was right to hell. "DON’T GET THE SURGERY!!" He kept telling Jeff. It was so funny. As that ended another man came up to us and stopped our lesson to say I was pretty. Then he said he had some mormon books too. He was obviously pretty homeless, and not quite all the way there...  Poor Jeff. He's just had a crazy week with all the crazies XD

Xfer time...back to TN, leaving behind Sisters in Paducah
Oh man by the way, we just met a less active who's like a big actor/producer!! How crazy! He was in footloose I guess. We are going to see if we can get him to teach a mutual activity. We caught him watching the Oscars, cheering on his friends who were winning awards. Such is the life in Nashville.

Oh and to the random kid from Utah that I've never met, thanks for the Valentine's Day card! It's always nice to hear from strangers :)
Love ya'll!

Sister Hochstrasser

Write to me!
Sister Jennifer Hochstrasser
Tennessee Nashville Mission
105 West Park Dr Ste 190
Brentwood, TN  37027              or

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