Friday, April 17, 2015

Built on the Rock

This week was so busy I didn't even get time to write in my journal... so I apologize that this email will be rather lame because I can't really remember what all happened and I don't have a lot of time. Haha. 

Sis Case
We had two exchanges this week. Sister Case who is still in training, and Hermana Lapine my best friend from Paducah. 
Both went so well, and both resulted in probably the most successful days I've had in this area so far. It's so exciting to me to see the work start to pick up. Our member present lessons are increasing, our total other lessons have doubled, and our average new investigators are more than this area has ever seen. The only thing we really are doing different is extra tracting, and TONS of member visits. I love this area because I love the Old Hickory ward, plain and simple. 

So this is Sister Case, she's brand new in the field and is awesome! Together we were able to teach her very first restoration lesson to a lady named Patricia who is totally progressing! Patricia has noticed that she doesn't always feel the spirit when preachers teach doctrine, and is interested in learning more about how she can come closer to Christ and his true teachings through the restored gospel. 

Okay I have to apologize for not having like ANY pictures of my companion... hahaha. All I have is this really ugly one of us with a chocolate easter cross an investigator gave us. Only in the south, right? [No, they sell them at Walmart!]

I'm trying to think of any miracle lessons I can share with you... ah! Sorry to be so scatter brained!

Do you remember that family I told you we were teaching? The one who has us over for dinner and a lesson every week? They are STILL progressing. It's amazing. And what's even crazier is we still haven't taught them the full restoration lesson yet, but they are working on reading the Book of Mormon and listening to general conference talks that answer their questions :D. I can't wait to see where this goes. Please pray for them, even though you don't know their names! She is pregnant and a total earthy mom. No plastic, gluten-free, cloth-diapers, the whole chabang. They are awesome. lol. 

The other day before visiting a member family we went to go tract. Sister Rawling felt really inspired to go to a particular street. The first house was empty. The second house no one answered. As we got to the third house I felt a tug at my heart. I knew that Sister Rawling's prompting for us to be on this street was real, and so I began to exercise my faith that there was someone here for us to see. "This is it," I told her, as we knocked on the third door. 
A lady opened it, and excitedly talked to us about her family and what she wants for them. We shared with her some information about our church, and she asked if we could come back and tell more to her husband and children. She told us she knew something was supposed to happen today, and it was us. "Sorry if that sounds weird," she said. We just smiled; it wasn't weird at all :). 

We are teaching these two young adult sisters... It was interesting because one of them told us she really used to be in to church. I asked her if she felt like she's since then, stayed close to God. She said no, and explained that right now she's really just trying to focus on herself and doing whatever makes her happy. I felt the spirit nudge me to ask:  "Well, are you happy?" There was a long silence, and her eyes began to well up. "No... no I'm not," she whispered, more to herself than to us. Her Sister then entered the room and felt the intense atmosphere. Her sister explained to her that she just felt "straight stupid" because she's been working so hard to do whatever she wants and trying to make herself happy through temporary pleasure, but it just hit her that she really isn't happy. She then turned to us and shared that she had no idea where to find lasting joy, she had no idea what her purpose was, and felt stuck. She wasn't happy. 
The spirit was so strong, and we were able to testify to them both of the message of the restored gospel that could indeed bring lasting happiness and complete peace in this life AND in the next. It was awesome. This woman is beginning to recognize that she is building herself upon a sandy foundation, but that through Christ it will become strong and she will not fall. 

Something that has really been on my mind lately is the way we as members of the church treat the restored gospel. When I knock on doors, people always tell me they belong to "such and such" church and are good where they're at. Out of curiosity I like to ask what makes them a member of that particular church, and the answer is always "it's where I was raised". I always feel sorry for those families, because they are letting the traditions of their fathers come between them and further light and knowledge. I always think to myself how grateful I am to have a personal testimony of this church and this gospel, and to know why I am a part of it.
Recently I've started asking members  of our ward why they attend here, and It has broken my heart to see several families  not be able to tell me why they are members of the church. "It's what I'm used to", "It's all I know", "Because the rest of my family is", etc. I understand that we all must start somewhere, but I pray that if any member of this church uses one of those answers to explain why they are members of THIS church, that they will do all they can to change that answer and get on a more solid foundation.

 "And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall." (Helaman 5:12)

What I desire most is for my family to be as close to the Lord and as founded in the gospel of Jesus Christ as possible. Every night I pray that they will be able to use the atonement and keep their testimonies strong. I am so blessed to have been born into this church, but I can with boldness declare that being born into it is not why I am still a part of it. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints because Christ is literally leading and guiding it, He is the head. Here I can find the the power and authority for my family to be sealed together forever, for my baptism to open the gates to the celestial kingdom, and for the holy ghost to guide me in all that I do. I desire for all to have this as well. I know that because God is no respecter of persons, he will make sure every single one of his children have the chance to receive, understand, and accept his restored gospel :). Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the ONLY way. He teaches that NO man can come to the father, except by Him. I invite all of you to consider your own reason for being members of this church, and then to share it with someone else. If you are not a member, perhaps consider the blessings that would come from the knowledge that Christ has restored his plan for YOU to be happy, and to live in happiness with him and your families again! 
Member or non-member, why not take the challenge? Get the missionaries into your home and have them teach your family the restoration. 
When I first came out I thought it was silly to teach members the first lesson. It was embarrassing even, they already knew it! But I have seen those simple truths bring a great spirit into many homes, and I know it could do so for yours. :) 

I love you all, and I appreciate whoever read this because it was definitely one big mess!

Sister Hochstrasser

Write to me!
Lovin' the bus!

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