As I come to the close of my mission, I've had time to reflect back on the lessons I have learned and ways that I have changed. First off, I am in LOVE with Idaho. It it home. God couldn't have chosen a better state fit for me and He knew that I needed the people here. I love the people and place of Idaho!
I want to list some of the greatest lessons I have learned:
It's all about the people! That was my focus last week, but as I go through the rest of the things I have learned it comes back to this! Everything God has done, does do, and will do is for His children! Christ loves us individually so He suffered for us individually. He desires the salvation for the individual so we as missionaries and members of this church are to reach out to the people one by one!
I love people! Again, I have learned how to love the individual so much more than I can imagine. I didn't think my heart could get so big!! The people I've taught--Jezrael, Crazy Dave, Rosselyn and the Osuna family, the Ashby family, Seth and Kayla, Evelyn, LaDene, Kenny, and on and on...--my companions, the members, fellow missionaries, and more... I JUST LOVE GOD'S CHILDREN! I've found that when you get to know other people you become more like Christ, just by knowing them because Christ knows us all perfectly... And a cool thing happens...You automatically grow a love for them. It's the best thing ever!
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ know and love me. I've received answers to questions, personal revelation and direction, promptings of the Spirit, feelings of truth. I know it. I know they are there and are beyond real.
There is POWER in the Book of Mormon. I have committed to myself that I will read the Book of Mormon every day for the rest of my life, because I need that scripture power. It's a real power that you can feel! I call it a Power Book. I love the Book of Mormon!
There is so much joy in sharing the gospel. I talk about this one all the time... I've never been so happy in my life as I have been on my mission when I see other people invite Christ into their life, keep the commandments, and gain a testimony themselves. Change--or an even better word: repentance--brings happiness. I remember when I heard that CJ (first area) was baptized I started jumping up and down, shouting for joy, and shedding tears of happiness. I remember when I heard for the first time Jezrael bear his testimony to his nonmember family and my heart wanted to explode. I remember seeing Jackie and Brittnee enter into the waters of baptism and the Spirit filled the room--Hulk strong. I remember Crazy Dave went from recently out of prison to becoming a service missionary and wearing a name tag just like mine saying, "Elder Hochstetler." I remember...........so much more...... That joy has been the greatest gift to me.
Lastly, but not least, I have learned and began to more fully understand the simple, yet detailed doctrines of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By coming to understand it in depth, I have been able to teach it clearly and simply... I have found a passion for teaching the gospel and I am really going to miss teaching it 24/7... But it's not the end! I am excited to continue to teach it to friends and my future children, and anyone that will listen. This is salvation!!
Ponderize: Alma 26: 30-31, 35-37
And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some.
Now behold, we can look forth and see the fruits of our labors; and are they few? I say unto you, Nay, they are many; yea, and we can witness of their sincerity, because of their love towards their brethren and also towards us.
Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.
Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and has been lost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land.
Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen.
I know, that's a lot of verses....But to close my mission, this is how I feel. I can feel fruits of my labors and they are joyful. God knows and loves His children. We have the way salvation. Let's rejoice!!!
From Idaho to you,
Big Jud's! An Idaho special restaurant. So yum.
Mission Prep kids!
The Moorhouse Family <3
Service at Idaho Youth Ranch
Dorthy and Harvey
Tony and Michelle Schmutzler and Buster.
Kassy came to church!
Delmar and Luann Gray <3
Service at the Famous Potato Marathon! It's an Idaho thing.