Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Last Leg!

So we totally spaced on making a plan for 6:00pm. We were just sitting out in our courtyard making calls and trying to do some administrative stuff when this young couple walks up to us. They introduce themselves and explain that they just moved here, and are looking for a church. They say they're "floaters" because no religion follows the Bible quite like they think they should. Like, they believe baptism is essential, but what about those who don't know about Christ? The Bible speaks of a "spirit prison" that Christ preached to, but that's so vague! And really, we shouldn't be drinking harmful or addictive substances like coffee and alcohol, right? 
Sister Miller and I jumped on that one so fast. She ran into the house to grab a Book of Mormon while I started teaching the plan of salvation. Families can be together forever? That's so cool!
They were a miracle family you guys. Fell straight from the sky into our lap. 

This encounter made us a little late to our lesson with Kristen, but she was understanding. We brought a member with us that kind of took over the lesson a little, we prayed a lot that it would begin to reel back in. Kristen has a special way of looking at spiritual things, and she spent most of the meeting defending her beliefs. What was amazing was that through this, Sister Miller and I had our eyes open to the fact that she's not necessarily wrong. Her understanding of how the gospel works isn't a concept I was raised on, but we haven't been given anything to contradict it. It's okay if she wants to believe how she does, as long as it doesn't conflict with her forming a personal relationship with God. I think for once, Kristen finally felt understood and ready to move forward. For over a year now missionaries have been trying to show her that her viewpoints don't work because they're not ours. That night, the spirit told us to just keep reading the Book of Mormon with her and everything else will fall into place. Heavenly Father is okay with where she's at. 

"This is the principle on which the government of Heaven is conducted- by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed" (Joseph Smith)

It was the same sort of situation with the Hindu family we are teaching. (Shout out to Ezra Anderson for his awesome insights on working with people from India!) Right now, they just need the basics, and I wouldn't be surprised if they find that their understanding of spirituality is just more truth being added to than being taken away. 
We all have the light of Christ, and we all once learned the same gospel. 

We taught two people this week that agreed to be baptized. Cory and Kenton. It was really exciting. 
We also had like 5 investigators at church! Lu, Nancy and her boyfriend, and Sister Yates just to name a few :). It's been awhile since we've seen that many. I gave a talk on the atonement, and also said goodbye to the ward. There was lots of hugs and crying, that's for sure. This place has become my home. I mean, they all become my home, but really- I would love to come back here to actually live someday. It's been a blessing to serve here.

After committing Kenton to be baptized, President called and confirmed what I already was feeling. Time to grow a little more. He asked me to go white wash an area, and train a new missionary out in the country (Laurenceburg, TN) for my last 6 weeks. 
It's kind of funny to watch my mission come full circle. A year and a half ago I was in redneck territory, a brand new missionary, training a brand new missionary. 
I'm excited to do that again, this time having learned and become so much more. I've never white washed before (gone in not having either of us know the area), so I'm really excited to try that out. I feel like I learned so much with Sister Miller, and I can't wait to learn more from my trainee :) 

It was Sister Millers birthday on Sunday, so this whole week I helped surprise her with a party at  every members house. And every time, she totally didn't expect it! It was so fun! Now, I'm wayyy too full of fancy expensive foods and cake! Lol. We even have a friend from Iraq/Iran/Pakistan who made us food from her countries :).

One especially fancy meal was with the Schussles. Mike isn't too happy I'm leaving, but he said he'd come out with his wife and take me to lunch in my new area. Lol. I can't wait for him to be baptized one day :) 
I think of all people though, I'm really glad I got to meet Mr. Tony Stark. He has made some amazing strides with his life which has been a blessing for me to see. In gospel principles we had a lesson on service. At the end, he shared his testimony. Letting us know he doesn't usually get emotional, He said that ever since God put the missionaries in his life, he has read the Book of Mormon. He's prayed to Heavenly Father more often in these few weeks than in the last 10 years of his life. He's come to church more in the past 2 months than in the past 20 years. He said he believes God sends angels to help us all, and this time those Angels were us. For once in his life he feels like he has a conscious, he thinks twice before doing something wrong. 
Then, looking at me, he said he doesn't usually miss people or anything, but he is really going to miss me. 
It was a tender moment for the whole class, watching this prodigal sons journey coming home. Tony later told me that when I spoke on the Atonement, he cried for the first time in a long time. 

In this area I've learned that there are people where God is just like, okay with where they're at right now. Like God understands where Tony is at and he's okay with it. God understands where Kristen is at and he's okay with it. Gods also okay with me where I'm at.... We all have these very different paths leading us.... So why does it even matter which one we are on if they're all going to be different and he's understanding and aware and using it to bring them to him? Why have I given up 18months to convince people that my path is better for them? Is it? Not really. 

But the gospel of Jesus Christ doesn't have to be just one life path. It's the way for all paths. I'm here to show people that what I've used in my life (the atonement) has pulled me to a very straight and narrow way leading right to Christ. It's the easiest, happiest, most fulfilling way to move forward. And it's the only path leading to God. So others may be on these windy paths that God's understanding of and won't condemn them for, but if they will incorporate the gospel of Jesus Christ, they will find that He pulls them to the straight and narrow in their own way.
I also believe he lets people stay off the straight path for a bit so they can reach people often too far for those at the iron rod to grab hold of and help. Being that far out perhaps gives them a strength they can use to better help move everyone else forward one day. I don't know. All I know is Christ loves Tony and Kristen and all of these people, and he's taking care of them. They will be okay in the end because of the atonement. I love them both so it means a lot to me to know that they'll be okay. We are safe and protected in His arms. 

"Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him--
Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;
Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life."
(Doctrine and Covenants 45:3-5)

Sister Jennifer Hochstrasser            WRITE TO ME! You have a month :) Note the new address!
Tennessee Nashville Mission 
1646 Sunset Road
Brentwood, TN 37027 

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