Friday, July 24, 2015

Reconciled to the Faith

Summer is here! Summer is here! It is hot hot hot in Tennessee and I'm loving it! We have churches on the corners that are giving out free water bottles to people sitting at stop lights, hahaha. The humidity is so thick but I've gotten used to it for the most part and just plan to come in halfway through the day and change out clothes before dinner. 
We also have crazy thunder/rain storms. When I was on exchanges with Sister Crossley this week she snapped this picture of one heading our way. Crazy!

Sister Crossley and I have met a lot of Muslims while on exchanges this week. They have really valid points as to why they believe the way they do. One lady brought us inside and explained very logically why we have no need for a Savior, just a Heavenly Father. Sister Crossley and I had seriously never encountered anything like it before because in the South, everyone has Jesus! 
All we could do was teach her about Joseph Smith's first vision of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appearing to him, and invite her to read the Book of Mormon. I have a strong testimony of the Savior, but after that I was a little bugged that I didn't know how exactly to explain why we need him to someone who can't understand the need for an atonement. 

If any of you know me, you know I don't let things go very easily. I studied out the need for a Redeemer a lot this week. I tore it apart and made sure I understood every single piece that I could before putting it all back together. My conclusion isn't of a perfect knowledge, but by putting in the work, Heavenly Father blessed me with a new found faith in my Savior Jesus Christ and I KNOW that He lives and that his atonement was a necessary sacrifice. If anyone wants to dig a little deeper with me on it feel free to write or email and I'd love to discuss the things that I found! (it's just a little too deep for a simple blog entry) :)

It's been a week of faith for me, that's for sure. I'm finally starting to understand the power that I have not just as a representative of Jesus Christ, but as a daughter of God! This area has truly helped me discover just who I am, and I feel more confident in my person and my potential than I have before. Maybe it comes from a confidence in my God more than anything. 

One of the Zone Leaders (remember Elder Nez from the MTC and Paducah?) found this for me. I don't even like coke, but I figured I'd better take a selfie with it while I had it ;) lol

I think this new found confidence in who I am has truly stemmed from the faith I've developed. I've learned that God won't just alter our futures and play puppet master for us. We have to initiate the change we wish to see.
Why? Because in a sense, this is our world. We are here to act and not to be aced upon, to be agents unto ourselves. (See 2nd Nephi 2, and Doctrine and Covenants 58:26-28)
Heavenly Father loves us and wants the best for us, but he will not force His will upon us. Similarly, we cannot force our will upon him. Often times when we don't get the answers to prayers we wanted, it is because what we were asking for was not something God wished to grant us.  

The only way to create miracles and bring righteous change is to align our will with God's, so that neither party is being "compelled to come" (See Alma 42:27). And then, to act in faith, "believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ" (Enos 1:15).

I know that faith is a principle of power. God observes the principles to use His power "according to the faith of the children of men" (Moroni 10:7).  By faith, "one can... influence any number of circumstances when occasion warrants" (bible dictionary:faith)

Unless we will a change through faith and acting in harmony with the will of God, we will forever be a product of our circumstance.

I think of Nephi, Enos, and Nephi, the son of Helaman, who had so much faith and whose desires were so in harmony with the will of God that they were promised the ability to command anything they desired. 

So I said earlier I wouldn't get too deep... so I apologize if that made no sense. Basically, I've learned that God won't just do everything for me- but he is more than willing to work with me. I trust that his plan is the best plan, so as I choose to find it and follow it by faith, He will give it to me. Because now it's not just His will, it's mine too. There's nothing more beautiful than being in harmony with God. There is nothing more powerful either. And the only way this can even be is because of Jesus Christ who has reconciled us to God! (reconcile means to restore to harmony).

Anyway, I got to see the evidence of this quite a bit this week. There were times when we would pray and feel inspired to go see somebody who hadn't been contacted in years and it would work out and be a miracle. If I'm open to doing my Heavenly Father's will he will undoubtedly guide me. 

One example of this was our dinner with a less active family. First off, dinners with less actives rarely every happen. They're less active- they don't want you trying to re-active them! And secondly, it's a part member family. And the non-member of the family calls himself a "heathen" and just won't be taught by missionaries. 
A little confused as to how we scored a dinner appointment, I was driving over there when Sister Miller expressed her wish that there would possibly be something extra special about our companionship that would allow us to better work with this family. 
Sister Miller had a righteous desire. And luckily, this desire was in harmony with the Will of God. 
We got there and the dinner was fantastic. The non-member just absolutely fell in love with us. He kept saying that of all the missionaries he'd had, we were his absolute favorites. They let us teach a lesson (all the while not even realizing it was a lesson), and asked us to come back next week! The less active members of the family were at church on Sunday, and the non-member actually committed to come to the church's open house (not having stepped foot in a church since who knows how long). It was an incredible miracle. 

It makes me feel good knowing there are specific people here who I was supposed to meet. This family is one of them. Tony Stark is another. He actually called us this week and had this awesome idea of throwing a huge game night party at the church for people to invite their friends to. Since Tony is a HUGE partier (like, the not so good kind) God is helping him take this part of who he is and channel it into something even better. 

Oh man, I just love this area. We have been working so closely with all of the members to do missionary work. And I don't mean just like coming to lessons like we focused on in Paducah, I mean inviting their friends to have the lessons. 

One of the best experiences we had (and there were many) was working with the Simpson family this week. They are incredible member missionaries. They've even had the Rascal Flatts taught in their home! It's been a while though, and after coming the first time and committing them to set a date to have someone taught in their home, we came back for dinner and a follow up. I asked them why they set the date, and instead of saying it was because the missionaries asked them too, they got a little choked up. They wanted to set a date because they wanted to be obedient. They wanted to set a date because they love their friends. While mowing the lawn, Brother Simpson was really thinking about the things we had discussed the first time we came and it just hit him that if he truly loved his friends, he would be sharing the gospel with them. They've been nervous for years about messing up relationships- but that stems from a love of self more than a love of friend. 

One of the other members in our ward, the Nabrotzkys, had a similar experience. They set a date and the next day his friend started asking him questions about the church. He invited his friend to meet with us, and it felt amazing. He realized that that was the first time in the 15 years since he's been home from his mission that he's actually invited someone to meet with the missionaries. 

On Sunday we role-played with the Facers how to invite your friends. We practiced inviting, and also talked a lot about loving. We have to do it out of sincere love for our friends, because that's when it's not just our will to do missionary work, but the Lord's will. When we exercise faith and open our mouths to talk to others because we love them, miracles happen. 
There is truly a difference in each of these family's homes you guys. These are the families that are scared to invite, but have faith enough to try. These are the families that still make time to read the scriptures after we leave, and who pray unceasingly for the chance to help their friends. 
Here is one of the families that we role-played this out with last night, they are the Boughtons. 

I think these families are like Abinidi. He shared the gospel with others even while burning at a stake. That won't literally happen to us, but I know sometimes we can feel that way. Abinidi had faith in the Lord.  But I then think of King Noah who "walked after the desires of his heart" and didn't even TRY to do what God would want. He suffered a terrible death and no doubt a terrible after-life. 

I had another exchange this week with Hermana Hofertiza. (remember her from Paducah?). We learned together the miracle of facing our fears with faith. We found an awesome Hispanic family who has Mormon family in Utah that originally we just were too scared to try. We were starting to completely walk right past them out in their lawn when we made the courageous decision to just go for it. Hermana Hoferitza did a great job teaching them in Spanish and although at first they weren't interested, she didn't give up and they agreed to let her come back and teach them.:)

We had a great lesson with a recent convert as well. He speaks english, so that was good. lol. He hasn't been to church in months. When he saw me, he remembered me from the last lesson I had met him at while on exchanges. He remembered how powerful that lesson was, and we actually got him to open up about it (it was on the Book of Mormon). We kept asking Johnny questions to help him remember all the spiritual experiences he had had with the church leading up to his baptism and by the end he was almost in tears. "I had just forgotten," was what he told us. Johnny committed to start reading again and to live his baptismal covenants. 

There was another Hispanic woman I had taught that I had the chance to go back and see on exchanges as well. Bivianna. She got baptized and is doing great. She kept making comments in Spanish about how I looked like a celebrity. I'll admit, compliments in Spanish are pretty great ;). lol. She's a sweetheart. I loved working with Hermana Hoferitza again and seeing how real the gift of tongues is. 

We ended our day with some chocoflan and then met up with the Sisters the next day for Zaxbys :)

Oh man, I just loved this week. I forgot to mention, but I'm getting transfered next week. I'm not actually supposed to know... but the Assistants have become good friends and can't help but spill the beans if you ask just the right way. hahaha. I felt it coming though, so that'll be strange to spend my last 6 weeks somewhere totally new probably doing something totally different. I think they might make me white wash and train, but I'd love to stay a STL. After all, I've been doing it  a year now and am not sure how to really do anything else! But I guess it's as Elder Ashton said, "There's not growth in the comfort zone". 

I fasted this Sunday and it was just so cool to see how my spirit can overcome my flesh when I work with the Lord. I've done very few 24 hour fasts in my life but this month I was able to do 2 and even though it was really hard it was a great experience both times. President has asked us to drink water while we do it though, just because, you know, heat and stuff. haha. 

Well, I congratulate you on even taking the time to skim read this monster of a post. I guess I just had lots to think about this week. Sure love you guys!

Sister Hochstrasser
 Write to me!
1646 Sunset Road
Brentwood, TN 37027


  1. Your growth is spectacular to see. We all love you so much! God bless you.

  2. Your growth is spectacular to see. We all love you so much! God bless you.