Thursday, November 19, 2015

Southern Comfort Zone

Howdy! Just another regular pday! (Minus the packing up of belongings and memories...) 
So I could make this really deep and go into all the things I've learned on my mission, but you know what, I'm just going to keep it like every other week would be. You've heard my testimony, you've been there for the miracles, and I'm so thankful for all ya'll being with me through it. 

So, I finally had that super weird thing I can tell people I ate on my mission when they ask what the weirdest thing I had to eat was. It's not cold shrimp over an avocado (gag), it's not duck wrapped in bacon (though that was marvelous), it's not venison stew or any of that... It's 'gator! 

The Allens made us this awesome dinner of Cajun chicken, crawfish and rice, gumbo, jambalaya, and 'gator sausage. It was so great. Very Alabama.

Eatin' Gator
So this week was trainer trainee meeting! I haven't been to one of those since Sparta! It was very cool to go and see just how much my mission has had an impact on others, and how Ive grown as a leader. I don't say that to brag, but to boast in the Lord who truly has helped a weak thing to be made strong. 
Sister Gale was the cutest. They asked the trainees about a long list of things their trainer should be doing with them but probably weren't- and she literally kept her hand in the air to show that we had done them the whole time! I just love our companionship because we are totally equal in what we do. We are best friends! :) 

Every trainer trainee meeting they have us split up and basically bash and brag on our companions. Then they write the list on the board for the other companions to go see so they can  get an idea of where to improve. When we went to see what the trainees had said about us I noticed on the negative side it said we didn't have enough fire. When counseling about it, the trainers started talking about how we need to teach our trainees to kindle their fire and not expect everyone to be baptized, etc. that struck a bad cord with me so I raised my hand to share that we in fact should be catching their fire not controlling it. Someone asked how we can do this, and the Assistant leading the discussion put me on the spot and said I should share what I've done.
I hadn't really thought about it, but I guess what I've done to catch greenie fire includes not leaving a persons doorstep until you've seen them in white. You teach everyone you meet and you pray until you can love them like the Lord does. I guess that's kind of the trick that I've found for never losing my fire.
Beaming, the assistant went to the board and under the category of things trainers are doing right, he underlined a phrase I hadn't noticed: "picture them in white". 
"That's EXACTLY what your trainee was so stoked about", he encouraged. 
It made me so happy to know that although we hadn't talked about it, Sister Gale and I have learned the principle of having a vision for everyone we meet to be baptized. :)  I have a testimony that anyone's "greenie fire" can be strong enough to stay fighting their whole mission and beyond that. 

It was great getting back together with what's left of the gang, too! Elder Ashton had us take a final brick picture before we all die off one transfer after the other.

At the end of the day Elder Morgan, one of the assistants, happily told me I was going to be on his team for the ping pong championship the final night in the mission home. Our team name will be "Mo-Hoch" (like Mohawk) how sick is that?! President and his teammate are going down!! Hahaha (it's a big deal)

Since the meeting was up in Nolensville, we went and had dinner with Sister Gant and her family, my last relief society president. They were so happy to see me! Their kids are super nerdy so the whole time we talked about how I was going to audition to be the Doctors next companion and the episode would be me knocking on the Tardis and he's like "what?" And opens the door and I'm there as a missionary and I do my little speech thing and then tell him about the Book of Mormon and then we go back in time to all the different stories in the Book of Mormon and we like fix Nephi's bow with the sonic screwdriver, and aliens mix in with the laminates so we help Helaman's 2000 stripling warriors,and then hang out with Moroni when he's like the last guy alive... It would be so sweet! 

Anyway, we got back from all of that pretty late and it was already 8pm and so nobody was awake but we knew we needed to be exactly obedient to our finding hour. Since everyone was asleep we decided to do the lame and go to a store. The lady working was the only person there and she wasn't interested... So at 8:45 we walk back to the car and the spirit is like "go buy pants at that department store" and I'm like "okay I know I need jeans for home but that can wait until pday" but the spirit was like "no there's someone in there go buy pants". So the store is closing but we run in and try talking to the manager, like the only lady in the whole place. She totally wasn't wanting to hear it and I felt so bad for wasting time shopping. I grabbed some pants and we went to have her check us out but she said her register was closed. But THEN she went to the back of the store and grabbed this cute young lady who came up and she saw our tags and got all excited because she had just bought a Book of Mormon at a garage sale and wanted to learn more about our church! We got her information ASAP and now we are going to start teaching Anna! :D 
I guess the moral of that story is be obedient, even if it doesn't make sense. 

I did my final training at district meeting on finding it was fitting.

Oh and guess who my last ever exchange was with? SISTER KOHLER! I trained her when I was only 3 months out and now she's my Sister Training Leader! We had so much fun reminiscing on old times. She's grown so much. One thing that struck me that she shared is "Satan's not smart, he's just old". I thought it was funny, and so true. 

We have had some stellar miracles. I feel like this week every member decided we needed to teach their friends so we've met so many new people and had so many lessons in members homes. We've had some bold moments like one night when we walked into Little Caesers and literally taught the whole staff about the Book of Mormon. Or another night when we ran up to a man putting groceries in his car and found out he's actually an old investigator and totally interested in meeting with us! One of the best memories was just teaching Brenda and having her tell us she's been sincerely praying about baptism. Oh and we talked to our Methodist minister friend at breakfast and since it was my last time seeing him I was just really bold and he finally told us that he KNOWS Joseph smith was a prophet. We got to find out just what is keeping him from being baptized and now we are working to resolve that concern. It makes me think of the vision of the south: "as they see their church veering off to the right and to the left of those basic teaching they will begin to search for truth, and as pivotal teachers come into the church and have influence, we will see the time when we will baptize hundreds and thousands, tens of thousands, in your day you will see a million members of the church in the south" 

 Lawrenceburg is just magic you guys :) 

That being said, leaving it was really tough. It warmed my heart to see so many members pray for me and thank me and just show how much they care. It was only 6 weeks, but it was the best 6 weeks. 

Like my favorite song says:

"It may [no longer] be on the mountain height or over the stormy sea, 
it may not be at the battles front, my lord would have need of me"

It's so sad to know I've come to the end of this journey, but I know it's really just the beginning of a new one. 

"but if by a still small voice he calls, to paths that I do not know, 
I'll answer dear Lord with my hand in thine- I'll go where you want me to go"

I could cry and pound my fists and say I want to stay it's not fair, but I know that would be so ungrateful. The time the Lord gave me to work wasn't mine in the first place. 18 months of laboring in HIS vineyard under HIS care... Man, I'm one blessed Tennessee girl.

"When I miss my Tennessee home 
And I've been away way too long
I can't see this world unless I go
Outside my southern comfort zone"
-Brad Paisley 

Signing out!

The "Going Home" Group Session

Sister Jennifer Hochstrasser 
Tennessee Nashville Mission 

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