Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Covenant Relationship

 Well, it's the end of my first transfer in Nolensville! I'm going to be training a new Sister Training Leader, Sister Rawlings, so I look forward to telling you more about her next week! It's sad to say goodbye to so many good friends though, I've sure loved this district! But I'm grateful to be staying in the Zone and seeing all the new changes. Here are some of our district pictures and picture with the Zone Leaders. [Mama is sooo glad she's staying in Nashville so she can get free chiropractic care :)]

It's been a really growing six weeks for me here. I feel like the Lord has given me every opportunity to apply the things I learned during my first year as a missionary. This area has been really overwhelming and rewarding. There were times where I wasn't really sure how things were supposed to work out, but they always did. Being a perfectionist, I've often felt like we aren't seeing success because maybe I'm not being obedient enough or didn't ask for the right things in my prayer or lacked the faith to see a miracle- but I know those thoughts come from the adversary. I recently read an email from one of the members I became friends with in Sparta. She is now serving a mission in California as Sister Spears. In her email she shared this quote by Elder Steven E Robinson: 
"Often the reason some people can't fully accept the blessings of the gospel is because the weight of the demand for perfection has driven them to despair. They mistakenly feel that in order for the atonement to work in their lives, they must first become perfect through their own efforts. But anyone who could meet this requirement would not need the atonement at all, for such a person would already be reconciled to God, having achieved the celestial standard of perfection on his or her own without needing Christ and his atonement- and this is not possible"

As I've mentioned before, I cannot do it all. He is here to do what I can't, and to walk with me as I do what I can. I am so grateful for this area because it has truly taught me about the Atonement, and it's taught my sisters as well. 

I had an exchange this week with Sister Reaman. I was with her in Paducah for a long time so we have become good friends and may even get to room together this fall! Sister Reaman came  to my area with me and we did nothing but tract and got nothing but anti all day long. One of my favorite memories was probably this 17 year old girl that I shared Moroni 10:6 with. She had been attacking us the whole time so I decided to close with a scripture from the Book of Mormon. My mistake. The verse explains that all things good come from God, but she freaked out because to a drug attic drugs are good, and so that scripture is relative and could be promoting heroine, she reasoned. She warned us to never share that scripture with anyone. It didn't make any sense... Hahaha. People can be so lost because the gospel is literally the only thing that makes sense and they are missing it. Think about it, do you know any agnostics or atheists that think they got it all down? Because all the ones I've met are struggling to make sense of things or have given up trying all together.  It's as if the world is trapped in this maze. Over time they've figured out where the sun rises and where it sets, which turns lead to what rooms, and what passages are wider than others... But until they are given the ladder of the gospel they will never get to rise above the maze and see the world beyond. How grateful I am to be able to give it to them by means of the Holy Ghost!

After a day of no success, we went to the Christensen's for a St Patrick's day dinner and they made us all green food and the kids put on an Irish jig for us. I felt so cleansed from all the negative energy we had been around all day. Please never forget to feed your local missionaries. The social aspect is such a blessing. Sometimes here I just have to pray for positive human interaction. 

At the end of the day though, I have to look past our low numbers and realize that a successful day to me is not necessarily a successful day to the Lord. If we did our best and followed the spirit, then we can trust that his will was accomplished. And that's what we're here for, right? 
I think it's really good for the sisters to come to this area and see a situation like this. Not only does it make them grateful for what they have, but it also shows them that they don't have to be a product of their circumstance. You determine your faith and happiness, not your area. 

I'll admit it's not very encouraging having your mission president tell you you have the hardest spot in the mission, even the assistants say they don't like working here. But even with that I can't help but feel so strongly that if we can just keep working with faith the Lord won't let us down. I have not been called to just plant seeds, I have been called to harvest. The field is white, now I just gotta go find it. WE just gotta go find it :)

Since the assistants to the president have been having a hard time working here too, we lifted their spirits the other day with some funny door decorations. We have this joke that they're the "3 black nights" and we also always call each other a "ham" whenever someone does something silly or dumb. So we took those jokes and cut out the words with the cheesiest oldest pass along cards we could find in the house (the kind with a family on the front where they look like they're fresh from
"Full House"). On the door of this picture you'll find my ham and floss lei that I made ;)
In reply, they tagged our car. Titling it: "Orange you glad you're in the old hickory ward?" 
So lame, but it made us smile haha.

 Something that really helped me to stay motivated and happy this week was going to the temple. I went in fasting for the help and strength I needed to take this all on. It was amazing because instead of experiencing some awesome power of energy, Heavenly Father offered me counsel through the means of others. When I first walked into the Celestial room (a special room you can go to meditate) my mission presidents wife, Sister Andersen, was there and greeted me with a big hug. It was full of so much love, I couldn't help but feel that it was Gods way of telling me he knew of how hard this was and how hard I was working, and he loved me for it.
As I sat reading the Book of Mormon Elder Ashton, one of the assistants, showed me something he had found in the Bible Dictionary. It was the definition of faith. "Hey, this is what we were talking about the other day" he handed me the book and let me ponder it by myself. As I read I was overcome with gratitude for the Savior. Because he perfectly encompasses every Christ  like attribute, I can always put my faith in him. When people, areas, and companions let me down- I know the Savior never will. It was such a comfort. 

To end, sweet Hermana Eastwood came and sat by me and told me how much she was grateful for our friendship. It was such an amazing experience and I knew I wasn't alone. I am a "fellow citizen with the saints" and "of the household of Christ" (Ephesians 2:20) 

I know that because of the covenant I have made at baptism and in the temple I can be a child of Christ. I can have the spirit with me always. The atonement is what qualifies The Savior to have a personal covenant relationship with me. Because he has suffered for my every pain, affliction, and temptation, he can help me best. As I keep my covenant (my part of the deal), he can personally strengthen me and be with me (his part of the deal). 

7 And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.
8 And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives. (Mosiah 5)

I invite all of you to reflect on the covenants you have made, or have yet to make, and consider ways you can better keep them and apply the Atonement in your life. If you've never heard of covenants before, I'd encourage you to look at mormon.org and find out more about the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

So, I got a call the other night from Sister Andersen. She told me that I would be giving a training to the mission leadership counsel this Friday, and the topic would be on blogging. She asked me to share how I was inspired to start a missionary blog as a way of hastening the work... Aka: she just signed me up to be the president of  the TNM mission blogs -__- I was secretly hoping to avoid that, but oh well! Stay tuned for the link to the blog I guess I'll be starting soon!

As for the funny moments, Daniel (a ysa) took us to dinner and tried sushi for the first time. He gagged. And Sister Oldroyd couldn't stomach the miso soup. I had to laugh, we grew up on that stuff!

We went to dinner with the Parkers' and saw a flock of wild turkeys in their neighbor's yard ... You know, typical Tennessee!

And here are some good jokes I've heard recently

-What's it called when batman leaves church early?  Christian Bale 

-God said unto Paul, come forth and ye shall receive eternal life. But Paul came in fifth, and won a toaster 

-Want to know how you'll know if your girlfriend or boyfriend will wait for you? You go to the temple and wave to the angel Moroni, and if he waves back, they'll wait. (Brother Gant)
Man, I just LOVE Tennessee 
Write to me!
Sister Jennifer Hochstrasser
Tennessee Nashville Mission
Brentwood, TN  37027                       or DearElder.com

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