Friday, November 10, 2017

November 9, 2017

Mid week surprise message from a member in California. Jen posted this on Instagram:

Monday, November 6, 2017

November 6, 2017

From Mom More Holiness:

Dear Elder Smith,

Sometimes I sit back amazed at how quickly time is flying! I am reminded of a visit I had with Sue Bolan, shortly before she passed away. She expressed some regret for actions in her early life and was a little worried she would have to meet her maker soon. We talked about the power of the Atonement and the gift of repentance and how she was on the right path. I asked her if she could live her life again, what is one thing she would change? She thought for a moment and answered,

“I would make every day matter.”

It’s an idea I think about often. How does a person make every day matter? I suppose a simplified answer includes living worthy to be guided by the Holy Ghost. If we lived every day with awareness of the Holy Ghost’s guiding influence and acted accordingly, our days would matter. Then those days would string together to form weeks and months of true Living. I love this idea!

We had a busy and eventful week. Halloween was Tuesday and we discovered the country generosity for handing out treats. Here was my Instagram post of the day...



It was a fun Halloween despite Abby’s sickness. We went to Devon afterwards and spent the evening with the Driessen’s so Mia could trick-or-treat with Emma, who was a Dice as well. Get it? Pair of dice? They were so cute! Dad handed out candy to about 20 kids. It was chilly and started to snow after we came in and woke up to this ...



So winter gently came and it’s here to stay.



It’s just so gorgeous living out in the country although the roads are terrible. I just want to stay in all the time. Ben is scheduled to take his driver’s test on November 16. I’ll never know why we waited until winter came. He is enjoying school and doing well academically, involved in musical theatre and choir. He’s busy. We just had a specialist appointment where they sent a scope up his nose and we found out everything is healthy ... his congestion is due to some inflammation which is easily remedied (apparently).

Sam is working his last week this week. He will be glad to be done with Classic and he’s happy he has all his mission money. He still has immunizations to do and we’re planning to go to the temple on Saturday for his endowments. It feels like serious déjà vu from two years ago when we were preparing for you to go. Capital City Gymnastics asked him to do some coaching up until he leaves and he’s pretty happy about that. He misses his training and now he will be able to do it for free.

Dad is dad ... the same steady guy who keeps us taken care of always. I’ve been feeling extra grateful for him lately. He works hard, his income pays the bills and keeps us fed, he jokes and laughs and keeps us smiling, he works to keep himself worthy of the priesthood and blesses us with spiritual guidance, he helps out around the house and fixes our vehicles. I’m a lucky girl. And I’m also a lucky mom because my sons are turning out just like him.



In this picture, he’s reading a book called Rules For a Knight. I think you would like this one. Which reminds me ... Rob and Naomi Burton asked me if I would direct Liber Youth Retreat this year. I agreed to as it seemed the only way to keep it going ( it was cancelled last year), so be prepared to help out if you can! They will plan it alongside me but they won’t be able to be there in person in August, but our family will be there making sure it runs smoothly.

We also agreed to prepare a family Christmas number for the stake Christmas event as well as organize the music for the ward Christmas party. With Ben’s piano playing, Mia’s ukulele, Abby’s singing, Sam’s guitar playing, we should be able to put something together. Wish us luck!

How is your personal study going?

I finished my B of M and will be starting again with the challenge of becoming more Holy. I don’t even know what that means, but I’m looking forward to finding out! I love, love, love the spiritual strength that comes from dedicating mornings to developing that relationship with God. It really does magnify and affect the moments of every day.

Tell us a teaching story from this week!

Have you decided what you are doing with your bike?

Are your shoes holding up?

Know that we love and pray for you always. We’re so proud of you.

Love forever,
Mom


From Josh - Six weeks to do everything.

Well looks like I have made it to my final transfer on my mission, I never thought this day would come, and it kind of makes me nervous to think that I will be doing a lot of "lasts" as a missionary, we will see how it goes, I am going to be getting an awesome companion this transfer, though I have no clue what we will talk about, he is into hunting and fishing and outdoor sports... well I don't relate too much because I am more of an indoor person, but hey! we will figure it out. I am going to be serving in this ward for the last few weeks of my time and for that I am kind of grateful, I won't have to lose the fire by not knowing the area or being in a different place with a new comp. So I get to keep working with these amazing people. This last week we have had a lot of good opportunities to teach and to share this message and also a lot of rejection, teaching in a trio is a lot more interesting then teaching as a duo, it takes a lot of comp unity. We honestly don't get much opportunity to teach in this area, at least impromptu teaching moments, we recently have been teaching a young women, her name is Mikayla Soucy, she is the daughter of someone I recently helped to baptize, we have been helping to gain a testimony of the truth of our message and so far she is receptive, she is 11 years old though so she has trouble focusing, we have had to keep our lessons short and to her level, it has been fun to see what ways we can make the lessons fun and exciting, including hand gestures, pictures and questions... I am grateful that I can have the spirits help in teaching because I am not the most eloquent of speakers and the spirit does a pretty good job at filling in the gaps. 

I have been delving into the Old Testament recently and trying to get through the standard works before i finish... I got to around the 5th book of moses before I felt I should stop going deep into the Old Testament and focus more of my studies concerning the Book of Mormon and New testament, even though the Old Testament is super interesting and I have gained such an appreciation of its intricacies and prophecies of Christ, but I feel the spirit much more when I read the New Testament and The Book of Mormon, I have been reading the Book of Mormon everyday, and there was a day this week that I missed, all throughout that day I was struggling to feel guided and directed by the spirit and the next day after reading the Book of Mormon I felt much more confident in the abilities God has given me.

Recently we have been getting bashed on the topic of becoming like God, Elder Rather put it a in a good context, a lot of people looking in see all our beliefs from the perspective of or in comparison to their beliefs. When comparing our beliefs to theirs it can seem like night and day (Which is interesting as we consider the apostasy and restorations as night and day as well) But going back to the main point, I believe that God wants us to become like Him, to live up to our full potentials, and what an enabling power and understanding. If God wants us to become as He is, then that should drive us to develop more self control, more respect towards our fellow man, more love towards our enemies, greater compassion and charity, deeper love for nature, more drive to learn and grow our talents. I loved Jeffrey R Hollands talk on how God has not given us a commandment that he doesn't keep himself, so in expressly giving us a commandment and even new commandments He is inadvertently telling us that we should become more like Him day to day. 

I love you all so much, I am doing my best to be the missionary that God wants me to be, I fall short a lot of the time but I am grateful for the redeeming power of the atonement of Jesus Christ, I am trying to follow his example and my invitation would be to all just to try the same, we can always do a little less of something bad and do a little more of something good, look for opportunities to improve, ask God to chasten you to bring you to a remembrance of your duties, I hope that after all is said and done that we will all meet triumphant in the kingdom of our God. 

Josh.

-When we join the dark side and become sith lords.

-Halloween I dressed up as a bike missionary, Elder Rather dressed up as a new missionary, and Elder Erickson dressed up as Dan Jones one of the greatest missionaries in this dispensation.

-Zone pumpkin carving

-The state of my shoe at this time... but all in all its holding together. 

October 30, 2017

From Dad - Sam's an Elder!:

Hi Josh,

Hope your having a great week. Loved hearing about your adventures as a trainer and District Leader. Missions are great training grounds for life and we love it that your facing each new experience with faith.

We had a wonderful week-end this week. On Saturday, Abby, Ben and I went down to Red-deer to watch Lindy sing in a an all Alberta choir. It was fantastic music and we met Grandma and Grandpa Smith there along with Auntie Liz and Rachel.


Sunday was Stake Conference, and we enjoyed inspirational messages and joyfully sustained Sam in his recommendation to become an Elder. After the meetings we met in a room with the Rice family (Kylan is Sam's age and going to the Paris France mission the same day as Sam) and ordained both to the Melchizedek Priesthood.

I'm so proud and pleased with my sons and their righteous desires.

We also enjoyed a fun "Trunk or Treat" and Chili cookoff with the ward. Candy time! Abby and I threw together a chili 15 min before leaving. It was pretty good, but we didn't win a prize. Fun to participate though.

The other day, Ben and I encountered 3 moose on the road home. It was quite a sight. We were so excited we turned around to get a closer picture and just about drove them to distraction as we were right by some elk fencing and they couldn't get away. Just glad we didn't hit them!


Ever since conference, I've been inspired to take more time in the book of Mormon and I've enjoyed the insights and answers I've found there. I was pondering about baptism the other day and wondering why such a simple physical act could be so vitally important in one's salvation and wondering that it could possibly be something that would keep someone out of the Celestial Kingdom even after this life. I also pondered on why if it was so vital, little children didn't need it at least after this life if their spirits grow up. So I studied in depth 2 Nephi 31 and found some amazing insights into baptism and re-enforced my understanding and testimony of this vital ordinance.

I attached  a picture of my study sheet for your preusal and thoughts.


Make it a great week, son. You are amazing and loved and prayed for.

Love,

Dad.

From Josh - Another week full of Adventure:

It goes by too fast, week by week it is almost overwhelming, I have been learning a ton about myself and I have to say I have a lot to improve on yet... God has helped me with so much, one thing I need to focus on that I have learned is dedication and diligence, If I focus my efforts on there work I can more fully accomplish it. One of my most recent struggles has been staying awake during studies, some of those studies can be pretty invigorating and others are just a struggle.
I think I know a little of why, I have been reading the Old Testament lately and right now I am in the book of Numbers. It is kind of boring going through the Old Testament, but I have been able to broaden my understanding and learning about the Old Testament has actually helped me appreciate the New Testament more, because It helps me to see all the Laws and ordinances that Jesus keeps perfectly while he is on the earth. I would recommend a thorough study of it to those who want to truly appreciate the goings on in the New Testament, and even understanding the Laws the Nephites lived before Christ came could be really beneficial for appreciating all they worked through. 

I have been having a fun time with both Elder Rather and Elder Erickson, something I am constantly reminded of as I learn from them is how mature and how immature you can be as an 18 year old, I am reminded of a lot of my crazy moments back home, and I have to say I am still a lot of the same person as when I left but with all the experiences I have been through I am more of me then I used to be if that makes any sense. I have put off a lot of the foolishness I had when I came out and I have adopted many things I have seen in a lot of my companions, I have a greater confidence in myself as well as God and I have seen many things that I still struggle with that I can't wait to work on in the future. 

The other day we were invited to do a mall booth by our zone leaders and we accepted, so we went and stood at a set up table to represent to everyone the church and to talk to those around the mall. Pretty soon after we got there two younger guys walked up to us one in a black sleeveless shirt and the other in a red polo shirt, they started off the conversation with us by asking, "what is the Gospel to you?" and we told them we believed that it was Christs teachings, and It all boiled down to 5 things Faith in Jesus Christ, Repentance, Baptism by emersion, receiving the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the end. I could tell they were getting ready to bash us because my heart started beating, and adrenaline pumped into my vains, nevertheless I took a deep breath and tried to look calm... I could tell that this would be a long night. After we stated baptism the guy in the black shirt stated a grace scripture from Galatians and said that we were trying to work our way to heaven by the act of baptism, we reassured them that we indeed believed in grace that it was impossible to achieve heaven of our own works, he stated then a scripture in 2 Nephi "we are saved by grace, after all we can do" and continued the argument that we were working our way to heaven, we tried not to argue with them instead we would agree with those things that were true and disagree with that which was not true, but these guys were determined to pick a fight they brought up becoming like God, they brought up our beliefs on Christ, they brought up many different things distracting our purpose until we had to pack up and leave, over all it was a complete waist of their time and ours, afterwords they stated that they were simply concerned for our souls and wanted us to come back to Christ, and I called them out and told them that they had come up in the spirit of contention and we had come to simply spread a message of peace, we told them that the spirit of contention was not of Christ and we left, they then promised to come back next time, it was kind of frustrating but all in all I am grateful for that experience because it caused me to think and to consider on those things that were true, through prayer and study I was able to strengthen my testimony. 
I have learned on my mission that it is the hard times that have allowed me to learn the most so I embrace them, I pray for those trials that will help me to grow the most, I pray for humility and I ask for chastizement because the greatest thing I have learned about myself is that I am in constant need of improvement, that I have so much to learn.

Another experience this happened to us just yesterday, we were walking down the street and a man driving by start screaming at us to stop preaching and to get a life and a few other things that we couldn't understand and probably wouldn't be worth repeating, we just shook our heads and let it slide, it happens consistantly enough not to let it get to us, but this lady came out of her house who we had just talked to and apologised for that guy doing that, she said that it just wasn't right and told us to have a good day. Simply that comment restored my faith somewhat in humanity, there are good people out there, and it also enphasized to me the importance of the little things that when we do small things for eachother we don't know the impact it may have. May we never be "weary in well doing" 

I love you all so much, remember if you would like details about my life then all you have to do is ask more detailed questions. 

I am healthy and happy, learning more and more each day, I love being a missionary, and I hope to serve with greater dedication this last transfer I have. Next time I email it will be within my last transfer as a missionary so that is pretty crazy! I will keep that out of my mind for now.

Love 

Josh

Trying on suits at macy's 

All of my food I had left before today. 

Elder Erickson deposating his check after being reenbersed by the church for all his clothes he needed for this mission. 




October 23, 2017

From Mom - The Holy Ghost:

Dear Josh,

I had the realization this week that I have one son who is serving a first world community with all the challenges of riches and pride and another son going to a third world country with all the challenges of poverty. Polar opposites. But you know what? You are serving in California because your talents are needed there and Sam is going to Zambia because his talents are needed there. Also, the Gospel and the Atonement is the answer for all our challenges, regardless of place and circumstances. It’s pretty awesome how that works.

We just returned from Lethbridge where we witnessed Autumn’s baptism and baby Holly’s blessing. Mark and Shannon’s family is growing and we loved spending time with them.





(It was a little windy in Lethbridge.)



Mia got a ball to the face while playing dodgeball with the cousins. After her bloody nose was cleaned up, she held baby Holly to make her feel better.


Sam and I had a chance to visit with Great Grandpa and Grandpa. They are hanging in there despite many health challenges. Great Grandpa told Sam that he would see him in two years but many are hoping he will graduate to the next life before then as his body is weak and failing. They are still supportive and loving as ever though and have left a powerful legacy of hope and charity.



Sam and I went to Utah last weekend and basically repeated the same thing you and I did two years ago. So fun to get all the stuff for his mission and see Steph.



The most important thought I’ve had this week is about the power of the Holy Ghost. When we live worthy of His companionship and seek it out, it magnifies every aspect of our lives. We serve more effectively, our humility increases, we are inspired to act in ways the natural man doesn’t, our desires change to something better. When I look back on my week and see the pictures, I can’t help but feel such gratitude for a God who loves us and blesses us as we strive to live his commandments. Dad and I often say that you (and all our children) are our greatest blessing in life. We love you and cherish you.

Keep working hard and seeking inspiration for your mission until that last moment and then come home with all your knowledge to apply to the rest of your life. We pray for you and are so proud of everything. I’m excited for the debrief in December!

Love to you forever,

Mom



(Does the baby look a little desperate to you? Lol!)

From Josh - Twists and Turns

Our week was pretty great, and a lot has happened, this week started out like normal and things are going pretty good, we have been biking a lot so that is fun getting used to that when we have a ton of hills in the area. 


On Thursday as I was conducting district meeting president walked in which is always a little stressful as a district leader though he was only there to make an announcement that we would be receiving two missionaries from Madagascar and they would be coming the next day, we thought that was pretty cool, we then got a call later that night from the Assistants to president saying that our companionship had been selected to get one of them and that we were to be at the mission office at four the next day, we got pretty excited after that and looked forward to it with anticipation, then we were informed the next day that he had been delayed and would be arriving on Saturday so we had to change our plans, finally on Saturday we went to the office and picked up Elder Erickson the new addition



Both my companions are pretty amazing and I am glad to be serving with them, they are both in training and sometimes I forget what it was like so I have to catch myself sometimes when I expect them to do things they have never heard of before, so going back to their level has taught me a lot about patience. 

In other news, I have been working on centering myself on the Book of Mormon and on following the spirit, I have been really trying to be in tune and focused on what the Lord wants me to do. In my last email I said that I was not too trunky and I am not in the way of thinking, but it seems like i get tired more easily and I am less motivated, i have been working hard to stay focused and dedicated to what i am doing and I know that if I trust in the Lord he will guide and direct my efforts.


You would be proud of me for eating healthy... well at least until you know that this was pretty much the last of my food... good thing I got to go shopping today though end of the month budget gets pretty tight, no problems though, a member was super nice and payed for our food for us. So thankfully I still have some money left over to be used in next months budget. 

I love you all so much, I am grateful for all the blessing we have, I have been hearing a lot of the 3rd world problems that is presented by Elder Erickson coming from Madagascar and its pretty sad, I am grateful to be free, I am grateful to be clean, I am grateful for my family, and for our prosperous living conditions, I am grateful that even though we weren't the richest we never went without, I am grateful for all of the tender mercies of the Lord and how he is always watching over us, I have made a lot of mistakes in life and I am overcome by the mercy that God gives to us his children, I am doing my best to help him in his work and its something I think we all are doing our best at.

One thing that the Lord keeps reminding me though is that I can always do something more, that no matter what I am doing I can do something more to help him and to help others, so in our busy lives always consider what you can be doing more, whether it is saying something nicer or giving a smile to someone random, maybe its thanking the cashier by the name on their name tag (one of my personal favorites) The moral is that in everything we are doing we can always be doing something more to "let [our] lights so shine...that they may see [our] good works and glorify [our] father in heaven" 

Love 

Josh






October 16, 2017

From Josh What a week:

This week has been incredibly busy and I hardly know what happened, we have been really trying to find new investigators because we have slowly been getting dropped or dropping our investigators, so now we are going into pure finding mode, Elder Rather is a pretty fun missionary, he loves the work but is really hoping to get to India soon, can't blame him it can be a struggle with serving in a different mission then when you are called with the thought of a visa just around the corner. 

I have been thinking a lot about what I can do to be a better missionary, and the greatest difference I have seen in my missionary work is when I am dedicating myself to reading the Book of Mormon everyday and studying the scriptures, as a missionary you have access to a lot of revelation and understanding about the scriptures and I believe the Lord blessed you to see things you don't ordinarily see, I love delving into the scriptures and seeing all the rich treasures that they hold and I always feel an increased confidence when I am doing what is right and also spending times on things of the Lord. 

We had stake conference yesterday and Elder Parrella of the seventy spoke, he talked about the importance of the youth, and he talked about how many good youth this stake had, and he made all fo them stand up telling everyone to see all the youth and he made a comment that struck me, he said "parents, leaders, everybody, we can't lose a single one of these youth, don't let it happen" He went on to talk about a survey that he saw about the youth, and one thing that stuck out to me was the the youth of today want "authenticity and transparency" that they desire people to be honest and sincere and I feel like I can do a lot better at that with the people around me.
A few more things that stuck out to me that stake conference was 
"You are what you do, and you do what you choose. If you don't like what you are, then change what you do"
"Tell me the facts and I will learn, tell me the truth and I will believe, but tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever"
That last one is something that is so true, and I know it personally, I have fond memories of Dad telling us the adventures of the "Doll House" I love stories so much and I feel like I get a lot of my creativity from the stories told throughout my life.
I was thinking about it and I remember one of the greatest moments that I remember was one time when we were trying to fill up a bean jar with all the good things we did and when that bean jar was full we would be able to go to the movies, well the day came and a movie came out that we really wanted to see, but the bean jar was not full, and I remember Dad taking the bean jar and another thing full of beans and telling us that because we had fallen short we would not be able to go to the movies. Then he took the extra beans and poured them into the bean jar filling it to the top, and he said that because of the fall we all come up short but because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ he makes up the difference... I didn't think much about it at the time but it is one moment in my life that I treasure, because now I can't even remember the movie we went to watch but I remember the lesson learned. 

We talked to this lady the other day who we approached and she was pretty friendly but kind of demeaning, she saw we were mormons and told us that she didn't believe the same things, in fact she believed that we were going to go to hell because we were mormon, curious I asked why she believed that, she said that we were adding to the bible by bringing up the Book of Mormon, and that it contradicted the bible... I asked her what was contradictory about it, but she brushed off the questions, we asked if she believed that God couldn't add anymore that he didn't have the power, she told us that she did believe he could add to it but that he hasn't, after jumping around a few issues to the next from the king james version being hard to read to telling us we needed to speak to one of her pastors. Finally knowing that we wouldn't be getting anywhere we went our separate ways, but it always troubles me to think that a lot of people are so blind to the truth that they aren't even willing to seek it out to test if its even the least bit true. 
I had an experience where I was having a fun conversation with another missionary over which peanut butter was better, Canadien peanut butter or U.S. peanut butter, after some debate I encouraged this missionary to try it... my offer was denied, why? because they did not want a better peanut butter to ruin their opinion on American peanut butter. It boggled my mind that one would refuse something better for the sole reason that what they had would appear less amazing to them... Do we get into that rut sometimes? What are we fearing to try on the grounds that life won't be the same? are there risks that we are not taking on the grounds that our former life may seem less amazing as it seems to us now? What is holding us back from reaching our full potential? 

As a district leader I get the opportunity to give trainings in district meeting... something that I found this week that was really fun was not giving a training but letting everyone discuss the topic at hand, Everyone that was there knew all the material I was using and so why would I try to put myself above? it reminded me of a discussion I had with another missionary in the past, where we thought about the difference between the gospel view and the world view, in the world Teachers and leaders should always be one step ahead of the student, know more then those they are teaching, and we figured that was a lot different then a gospel teacher should be. A gospel teacher should come just as willing to learn as the student, I am definitely not the smartest person in the world so I have so much to learn. 

I am grateful for you all and love you more then anything! 

I am eating as healthy as I can, me and Elder Rather have goals to be as fit as we can, so we have been hitting up the gym extra hard, and we have been walking and biking as much as we have opportunity to. The members are great in this ward and I wouldn't mind finishing up here, it is a real possibility and I am looking forward to all the opportunities to serve here. I love being a missionary, and I love serving with so many great people all around me. 

I love you all and hope all is well. 

Josh

-Me and Elder Rather taking a break on a curb
-Us eating pizza

-Halfway through and we are dying 

-Finished both large pizza's against all odds. 

-Recycling


From Dad - Missionaries:

Hi Josh,

Last night we were sitting around the front room watching home videos. These included many recorded by you and the boys and we roared with laughter over Bens burping and sound affects as well as episodes of "super glasses boy" etc. We also watched some family home screamings with Mia demanding her glass of milk as well as a Christmas morning when we surprised everyone with a new WII. 

As we sat there watching, Ben turned to me and said "I miss Josh". And then a few minutes later, "I'm sure gonna miss Sam!"  

Life is ever changing and we will never again have just the 8 of us sitting around a Christmas tree opening presents and squeaking and Sam shaking all over with joy after getting a new Bionicle. But that's ok. It's part of the plan. Just like you are having unique experiences with the wonderful people of California. Hope you are able to enjoy every minute with them. 

Sam and Mom took a road trip to Utah to visit Steph and Tyler and to get all of Sams mission list. It is a tradition now to have Mom go on a trip with the next missionary to Utah. Maybe I'll do it with the girls!  Though I'm not sure they want me picking their dresses out :)

Just realized I forgot to finish and send this. Sorry Josh. Double letters next week. 

Sam and Mom got home safely and sam got all his mission supplies. He also got some good advice from the Pretes ( they own the Cardston bookstore ) as they served a couple mission in Zambia. The biggest advice was for Sam to fully immerse himself and not think of himself as a Canadian but rather as an African missionary for 2 years. Biggest reason Ishtar many of his companions will be from Africa and be so poor as to hardly comprehend he amazing advantages we have here. It will be a humbling and amazing experience for him. 

This week the priests got to go to the foodbank and sort food for a service project. I really love having Ben in Proesrs quorum. He's so positive. 

He was recognized as a youth community leader by an anonymous teacher and got to attend a mayors luncheon. While there he managed to both get his picture on the front page of the Leduc Rep and get his back pack stolen. 


Sorry again for missing the send button this morning. 

Have a great week regardless. Praying for you always. 

Dad 

October 8, 2017

From Josh Everybody thinks I am trunky...:

Right around where I am at right now is where most missionaries get really missing home... and don't get me wrong I do miss home I am super excited to see everyone when I get back, but I am not really feeling it effect my mission, I love being here and love serving and working with so many good people.

I recently had the opportunity to help with two baptism's one for a lady named Ashleigh and one for a lady named Shelby, it was one of the more stressful weeks on my mission trying to set everything up in such a ways as to help them best... but with working with the ward and helping them keep strong we were able to bless them very much with that ordinance, I am grateful that I was able to be part of it. This whole transfer has been an interesting turn of events from the missionary that came out that I was meant to train going home, to those baptisms to getting a are companion, to general conference to zone conference and back to the apartment, its been a rush and I can hardly even keep track of all that has been going on, I am so blessed to be here and I am grateful for being able to see so many tender mercies of the Lord in this service.

I have been trying to be deep in the scriptures, Preach My Gospel talks about how your ability to teach by the scriptures is dependent on how much time you spend in them, and with the prophetic inspiration to read the Book of Mormon I have been finding continual peace in its pages, when I have missed a day or have not been as deep into the Book of Mormon I have felt a lot more week during the day, and I can't describe how easy it is to fall into my shortcomings after not reading, but when I take a few minutes during a lunch break and delve into them I can feel that steady spirit come back into my life and I am a lot more confident. 

Elder Rather is my companion at this time, he is waiting for his Visa to go to India on his mission so I get to work with him during this time, he is pretty fun and we are having a blast! I love serving with a person I can be myself around, transfers are hard when a companion is struggling. 

I am still in Seco Canyon! I have been here for five months and I am facing the prospect of going home from this ward, I definitely love being here, the people here are fun to be around and work is definitely getting done. That being the case I still miss the Tarzana ward that was one of my favorite area's because of the ward members there, the things I will miss most on my mission is all the wonderful people that I have met and developed relationships with. 

I love you all so much, everything in my life is so amazing, God has blessed me so much with an amazing family and friends to help me in my life, I am truly grateful for all that i have been through. 

love 

Josh

-Ashleighs baptism
-Me and Elder Rather

-Elder Rather doing the dishes. 

-Us in front of our apartment

From Mom - Thanksgiving:

Dear Elder Smith,

It's Canadian Thanksgiving today! Happy Thanksgiving to you, my good son. You are definitely one of our big Thankfuls in more ways than one. We're thankful for your unwavering commitment to serving the Lord, for your kindness to so many people through letters and actions, for setting a powerful example to your siblings and for being such an integral part of our family. We love you so much!



Sam said while attending Conference, you felt strongly about staying until the very end of the mission. We support you in all your decisions and know that when you do your duty, blessings will follow. This means we shift to Plan B, if you still desire to attend BYU-Idaho, which is to bump your application to the spring term, which starts in April. This gives you three months to be at home, adjust to normal life, brush up academic skills to write the ACT on Feb 10, get a new wardrobe, be put to work around the acreage (haha), etc, etc. Plus, BYU-I will give you a much needed academic record for your future plans, whether you attend there in September or not.  It's a good plan, I think, unless you have another one? And it takes pressure off so can can finish a focussed mission, which is important.



Also, just an FYI ... you have over $4000 left in your mission account, plus whatever you have in your school savings, plus over $3000 in a RESP savings account Dad and I started for you when you were little ... so you're in awesome financial shape for when you get home. A great start, really. It will pay for one spring semester and another year of school.



Accountability ... I have faithfully spent time in the scriptures every morning and dedicated myself to communicating with heaven since we emailed on September 5. What a difference it makes!! The biggest evidence I see that seeking out and connecting with the divine every day is the effect on my attitude. I'm absolutely more positive, less prideful, make better decisions, care more about people, serve better and more effectively, am receptive to and act better on spiritual promptings. I love it!

One quick experience ... I had the strange thought to stop at Wendy Francis' and offer to do some laundry for her. I did. She cried and explained her washer died, laundry was piling up and she was so discouraged. The washer fix has turned out to be complicated and expensive so I've been doing a load of laundry for her every time I go into Calmar.
1) I don't think I would've had the prompting if I had neglected my study.
2) I don't think I would've had the confidence to knock and offer such a strange service without the extra light and knowledge from the morning prayer and word of God.
3) I don't think I would have the energy or stamina to add another chore without the added boost that scripture study and prayer gives me.
Wendy is tearfully grateful. I've lightened her load, literally. It matters.

And that's just ONE example.

I adore and absolutely appreciate the cushion of the Gospel. A force field, really. A spring board for the day. A magnifier of sight, an expansion of talents, a stretcher of patience. I can't live without it, nor would I want to. It's an antidote for bitterness and cynicism. Much needed in today's world.

As for the week, we finished off our garden preservation by pickling beets, making delicious pumpkin soup and creating a huge Thanksgiving feast yesterday.



We had the Rectors, the Francis' and the Driessens ... 28 people packed in and it was delightful. We had our first snowfall (it didn't stay) and are busy buttoning up our property before the big freeze.



We're getting into our learning routine for the year, which means the ongoing screen battle is revived. On the days we eliminate screen time, life is infinitely better and more productive. It's a process.



Life is pretty darn good, in any case. So happy.

Questions for you to answer ...

•How is YOUR personal study going?
•What is your relationship like with your mission president?
•What happened to the bike you bought?
•Are you eating your veggies?
•Did you get the article I sent about The Fourth Missionary? Thoughts?

I love you forever!

Mom







From Josh Re: Thanksgiving

Mom,

Just to answer your questions real quick I will expound more upon my life in my other email. 

My personal study is amazing, I can't get through my day without being centered on the scriptures, the other day I was sitting in my bed at the end of the night and I was reading from the old testament, and I just felt an emptiness almost and a craving to just read from the New Testament or the Book of Mormon because they put things a lot more simply and straight forward doctrinally than anything else, I am truly grateful for the restored gospel.

I love my mission president, president Henrie is pretty connected to the spirit and I have finally humbled myself enough to see that, I used to not like him very much but he has grown on me a lot.

I am still using the bike that I bought, especially since president is encouraging using bikes more and more. I don't know what I will do with it, probably try to sell it to a missionary coming in or give it to the mission. I am unsure as of yet. 

I am eating my veggies as much as I can, I usually have two salads a week for lunches and eat every vegetable available in member meals, I am still working on eating better but I think I have been doing pretty well as of yet. 

I did get the article about the fourth missionary, sadly it is banned from the mission, not so sadly I just read the highlights and definitely felt a lot of inspiration for my missionary service.

I love you so much mom, and I am excited for being able to come and start life, but I in no way feel trunk at all. 

Josh

October 2, 2017

From Dad - Fall is here:

Hi Josh,

Hope your doing great this week. How are the people you are teaching doing? You mentioned some were close to baptism letter? Would love to hear some of those stories!

The leaves are turning here and it is beautiful out on the acreage. Fun to remember that a year ago we were just getting the basement walls poured and the house was almost ready to be put on. It's going to be fun for you to come home to a new house! We harvested our garden this week and even got a nice big pumpkin. It is pretty durable too, as I dropped it from our back step in the garage (6' up) and it didn't explode and with no visible damage!

As you are probably aware we are still looking into the BYU-Idaho possibilities. We will know more this week hopefully about whether it is at all possible. Not sure whether your mission president will feel inspired to let you come home to write the ACT or not, but we want to be sure it is worth it either way.

Really enjoyed General Conference this week-end and I'm sure you did too. Hard not to have President Monson there and sad to hear about Elder Hales, but not sad too. A life well lived and I loved Neil L Anderson's comment on him "Graduating" to the next life. We enjoyed having Auntie Liz join us for part of Conference as Lindey was up at a Choir retreat in Red Deer. The Rectors came over for the afternoon session. Enjoyed a good visit with them.

Ben played a fun piece "All of Me" by John Schmidt in a Leduc Showcase concert. He really played to the crowd and made it fun. He reminded me of you in some of his choir performances as well. He's pretty good in front of a crowd.

We finally got Sam's official mission call and there's a little confusion about whether he goes to the Provo MTC or the South Africa MTC. We'll get that cleared up this week, hopefully. Very exciting time for our family and it's going to be an amazing and crazy December no matter how it all works out.

I've been feeling some promptings to make missionary work a bigger part of my life. Given that I'll probably have boys on missions for almost 6 years in a row, I'd better start getting on board, don't you think? Funny how when you really start willingly thinking of who you can share the gospel with, names come quickly and I hope I can take some small and simple steps to share this amazing gospel that brings so much peace of mind and joy. You are doing a great work in California. You are making a difference. Keep sprinting to the end.

Sam may have shared this with you, but after conference, he came and showed me this saying he'd written based on the revelation he'd felt from the spirit during conference. He wants to make it into a poster for his room as an affirmation.

"I will not let myself miss a single opportunity to serve others and become a better person by educating myself and learning new things." 

We sure love seeing our children progress. There is so much power in the example each of you set for the other members of the family by being faithful and doing faithful things.

Love Dad.











From Josh - Decisions and Hopes:

New transfer, new companion, new experiences, same area. 

At the start of this new transfer I am still district leader, I am training a new missionary, we are preparing to have 2 baptisms in our area, a lot of which I have experienced before but some of which is pretty new to me, I am grateful for everything I have learned and everything I am learning, I am definitely at a different place then I was a year and a half ago when I first trained I got pretty overwhelmed and I struggled for a long time after I trained to regain confidence in myself, but looking back it was a necessary trial, and I am grateful to God for leading me and sending me tender mercies all throughout my time as a missionary, I am so much more confident and sure of what I can do to train and be a district leader though I am still figuring things out, I still get nervous and scared about the future especially when giving trainings but there are a lot of people around me who are ready and willing to lift me up and help me as I move forward. 

I have recently been considering with the option to go home early or not, its something my president does not necessarily want me to do, and has encouraged me to pray and seek revelation on it, I don't know I really want to stay and serve the Lord to the end and I am afraid of what the outcome would be if I returned home early, but in general conference I learned that we should always act, but never should we act in fear. And there are definite benefits to coming home early, I can take a test for school and squeeze possibly getting a head start on my education, I would be able to see Sam for a little bit before he left on his mission. I went into General conference with the question on what I should do, hoping to discern an answer, what I got was mixed results that I should stay and that I should go. I will need to pray on it more and maybe fast... I am just grateful that God answers all our prayers that we send up in faith. And maybe he is leaving it up to me.

Just yesterday we had an opportunity to teach a less active family, and they are a pretty chill family and really open, we had a discussion on obedience to the commandments of God and how being obedient will always bring blessings, there were a few statements made that caused me to think. One was a comment made by one of them "What if I don't want to be obedient?" after some discussion and thought, Elder Brown (my new companion) said "then you don't want the blessings"
if you are half obedient then wouldn't it stand that you would only get half the blessings, if you are less active you will get less active blessings, whereas when you are active in the church you get active blessings, each commandment is meant for the benefit of man and for no other reason was it given, when we see it like that it gets easier to do it. When you want to get skinny then eating healthier gets that much more appealing, when you want to get a tan, baking in the sun seems less of a trial. When you see general conference as God literally speaking through his servants then it gets that much easier to watch all the sessions then to just watch the Sunday morning session and call it good.

Something that has been fun is meeting people that we have already talked to and being able to share something new, I have knocked this area entirely once already and will be doing it again before my time is done here, most people don't recognize me but you get those few, its fun to be in this scenario, and its fun to see how new Elder Brown is and how much I was like him when I first came out. 

I love you all so much, and I am grateful for all the love I receive. 

Josh