Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sept 11, 2017



From Josh - Persecution:

This week was one good week, i loved serving and finding people and teaching the gospel. I would relate that to my scripture reading I have been dedicating myself to my studies in the Book of Mormon. I love the Book of Mormon so much because of the great feelings of peace that I get, I have been working on delving into that as well as keeping up my studies of the Doctrine and Covenants and I have been delving currently into the four gospels and learning about the life of Christ, the problem with knowing the New Testament well is that I have been sorely tempted to bash people, because I just don't like it when people are ignorant of everything but a few verses of the bible and then use those verses to attack us... I have been growing my self control though and working on simply testifying. I know that testimony is the most powerful thing, because it isn't I or anyone that can accomplish this work but only the spirit, the Lord is always in the details. 

So down to the heading, I have had such a happy week, and in the midst of some not so happy experiences, there were a few people that yelled us off their property, someone yelled at us and cursed at us while they drove by, we got bashed for 25 minutes by this guy who thought we were going to hell for what we believed, we were told that we weren't christians and argued when we said we were, someone tried to use persuasion and logic to explain that there was no true church on the earth (which wasn't too bad because it was kind of refreshing to see someone else had a testimony of the apostasy) 
It has been a learning experience because I thought that I was immune to some of the bashing techniques out there, but even then I was kind of shaken by one guy who really was adamant that we were wrong, so i have been really praying and searching for the will of God in what is true, and will be doing that for the rest of my life, "Our testimony today is not strong enough for the trials tomorrow" is a quote I heard from another missionary, that is why we need to dedicate ourselves to our studies, at least a portion of the morning, because we need to sharpen our swords and strengthen our shields. 

I have been buying more vegetables to be more healthy, I have been realizing that I have not been having the healthiest food my whole mission, and my companion is a health nut so I am hoping to piggy back off of his healthiness outlook and do better.

One thing I have been enjoying is learning how my trials were for a reason, last year I went through the hardest time of my life, at the beginning of my mission I lost my testimony and went atheist for a little bit, but thanks to the tender mercies of the Lord and those around me I gained a stronger testimony and now I am able to bear it with a stronger conviction. When I first trained I was hit hard with a sense of being overwhelmed, I was so overwhelmed that one Sunday in sacrament meeting I could feel a literal crushing weight in my chest and for a few minutes I couldn't breath, I was nearly lost in doubt and negativity. But i was able to get through it, and now another missionary in the district is training and experiencing exactly the same thing, and I can relate to that and help in ways I couldn't if I hadn't gone through that. Every trial we go through in life is for a reason. Some people struggle to see that. 
We have been teaching this less active girl who struggles with her belief in God and the church, she does not understand why bad things happen to good people and why God would allow bad to happen in the world if he loves us why would he let bad things go on? and we have been trying to explain to her the plan of salvation and agency of man and help her to see this is all for a purpose, and also that compared to our life before and our life after our earth life is nothing, it will start and end in a blip compared to our eternal life, I read somewhere in the scriptures that time is only measured by men and not God. That is why it is so important to maintain an eternal perspective. 
I love the word "Maintain" because it denotes a cultivation, not just a one time thing. 

We have been working a lot with the ward members to help our investigators be fellowshipped into the ward, we are currently teaching one lady that has cerebral palsy in a miner degree and has intense learning issues so we have been slowly working with her and her mom to get ready for baptism on the 23 of September, she struggles to answer the baptismal questions because the way they are worded it is really a struggle for her to comprehend what they are asking. So that is an adventure, the other person we have on date for september 30, her name is Ashleigh Soucy he had brain cancer and can't remember anything we say until the next week, which is a hard problem to work with, the rest of our investigators are not progressing so we need to somehow help them to keep commitments and start coming to church. 

I love you all so much, I can't wait to be able to get to know you all... again. Hope that all is well if there is any questions you have send them my way and I will try my best to answer. 

Love 

Josh

1 IT RAINED MID SUMMER!


2 Member from Saugus 3rd ward stopped us when we were walking on the street and gave us sprites 


3 From the top of our area


4 Us at the top of the area. 




September 3, 2017

From Dad: - Still Waiting...

... for Sam's call.

Hard to be patient, but so excited to see if this week brings the telltale envelope in the mail. A new YM named Kylan Rice moved in a month ago and sent in his mission papers on the exact same day as Sam. He got his call last week. He opened it today and found out he is going to Paris, France! And guess when he is leaving? Dec 20... It would be crazy if Sam got the same leave date. Would be a crazy day with you coming home and him leaving! Hoping it is either before or after. but after would be nice to cross over and see each other even for a little bit.

We are fasting and praying for Great Grandma and Grandpa Smith as you probably saw in Grandpa Smith's email. Life's challenges don't end, but they always refine us if we let them. Are you letting your challenges refine you?

This week has been a work week around the acreage. I've really enjoyed working on the garage and was able to get our entrance stairs built so we can go in and out of the garage from inside! 



Our Septic system alarm went off again this week and we've been using the outhouse again while it gets fixed. Yard is all dug up again. Sounds like the pipe got pinched in the last half by the mound and was wearing out the pumps.Hoping this fix is the last time we need to work on it. Painful, but once again we are appreciating how important good drainage is and how nice it is to have indoor plumbing.

Auntie Wendy pulled out today as she has a good job lined up in Atikoken. She came up and finished parging the garage and back entrance. It looks great. Thankful for family.

My office had a fire in the basement after a transformer blew, so I've been enjoying working from home this last week. 

School starts tomorrow, so back to the scheduled days and back to running Ben back and forth to Leduc. We are hoping he get's his license first try so he can start driving himself. He and I have been doing a moderately good job of doing regular P90X workouts, but I'm worried now that he is going back to school that I'm going to lose my work out buddy and fizzle out! Hoping Mom will join me and we can get buff together. Ben is looking forward to school, but has some hard choices to make around extra curricular activities. Can't do everything!

Benson had a going away party this week as he is going to live with Auntie Kurri. We are so happy for them. It's the right thing to do. As much as we disagree with Uncle Tad's choices and lifestyle, this was a good thing for him to do. He is living back at the cabin this year with Cody. Ben is excited. Cody will go to Calmar just because of transportation, but hopes to join Ben at Leduc Comp at some point.

Sam continues to work at Classic and is even driving bobcat on a regular basis. Is it in the genes? We'll see if Ben ends up there or somewhere else to earn his mission money.

Auntie Shannon had her baby last week and Mom and the kids got to see her on Tuesday after joining the uncles and cousins at Calaway park. They named her Holly..

Mom, then Mia bore their testimonies today. Then Mia went back and bugged the boys to do it too. They admitted that they hadn't planned to, but when Mia whispered they should, then they felt the spirit prompt them to go up.

Life is good. We are a great family and you are an amazing part of it!

Love,

Dad.














From Josh - A Day Late:

Sorry for emailing a day late! since it was labor day yesterday we had a working P-day and ended up moving p-day to today.

This week has been a week of realization and discovery, I have realized that I have not been as dedicated to many things as I should have been, my personal prayers have been definitely lacking in depth and meaning, and I have not been as faithful in reading from the scriptures as I should be and I have been seeing a lot of the negative effects in my life, I have not been as focused or motivated and I have struggled to communicate clearly the message that we have been trying to share... so near the middle of last week I rededicated myself and almost immediately I witnessed so many blessings, i have more patience with my companions and more excited to go out day by day, I have had my thoughts put together and my mind open to insights and light. I had a cool experience yesterday when I was pretty annoyed at my companion, through no fault of his own and I prayed to receive help to feel happy and positive towards him and it didn't come right away, but when we went to a district leader meeting I was still pretty ticked until mid way through when all of a sudden I felt a hippiness that I couldn't not describe and all those feelings of annoyance and frustration melted away and I was able to see him in a much better light, it can be hard to be attached to someone 24/7 and there are a lot of differences you start seeing even when you are together for three months. Elder Bergeron is a logger and a landscaper a homeschooler that lived cut off from most everything so we don't have too much to talk about or relate to each other very much, he is also a doer, he does things without thinking and just goes for it, usually regretting it after, he is really simple in a lot of his thinking so it can be hard to have deep conversations with him, he likes it that way, so I get so frustrated because of how he acts, and in order to express my frustration I have to tell him bluntly because anything else will go off his shoulders... I love him a ton, its just something i haven't experienced before, I have learned a ton on how to express myself and to be bold with my companion. 

There has been so many experiences this week that have interesting,  recently we went on exchanges with one of our zone leaders and he told of a story of a man who was dubbed by the catholic religion as "defender of the faith" in missionary terms he would be known as "Basher" but through their conversation he stopped and said that there was one thing that he didn't understand, he said "I don't get the mormons, their doctrine is so perverted (in his view) but their works are so holy" 
Jesus Christ said that a bad tree cannot produce good fruit, it is impossible. So, perhaps our works are so good because the doctrine is true, I know that what we share is true, the gospel has been restored, we do have a prophet on the earth and we are receiving direction from God right now!
Another experience that I myself had while on exchanges with a member of my district was when we came across this lady who asked some pointed but sincere questions, mostly about temples and tithing, those were the things that she could not get past, most people struggle with that but we were able to explain a bit how it differs from other christian faiths in that we don't pass around a basket for tithes, we explained out unique message and 40 minutes later she took a pamphlet to read over. She really appreciated the answers we gave. 
Another experience was when we were knocking a guy opened up and we could tell he was  a little drunk, but he gave a standard response that he differed on some key beliefs, and checking that it wasn't multiple wives or some other off doctrine that people still think we believe we asked him what those were, and he told us about the  Godhead vs the trinity, that is something we get dinged on a lot here in such a christian community, but we explained it to him and we were able to testify of the truth of what we shared and it was cool to see him considering our responses, he may have been drunk and he may've been Grace baptist but that didn't stop us from testifying, we should all testify at every opportunity. 

I love you all a ton and hope all is going well in your lives, I can't wait to hear more about your lives, I miss a lot of things but what I think I miss the most is my family. We will see each other sooner then you think. 

Josh

-some returned missionaries came to visit the mission

-It rained mid at the end of august! (that has never happened before in the past 30 years)





-So...Hot! ​



August 28, 2017

From Mom - More Importantly:

Dear Elder Smith,

Before I forget and most importantly, Benson wanted me to send you his letter and even confirmed with me this morning ...

Kurri is very happy that Benson will be living with her this year.

Summer is drawing to a close here. We're appreciating any day we can spend at the river. We're also enjoying time with Benson and Cody as they are living at their old property with Tad until the end of summer. Benson will go with Kurri at the start of the school year and Cody is staying here, which makes Ben pretty happy.

We're starting to harvest our first country garden. It's hilarious what a learning curve it is. I discovered that Irish Spring soap keeps the deer out and that dill weed will take over. We have a big pumpkin, crazy carrots, purple potatoes, delicious tomatoes along with a jungle of weeds, but we're loving it.

Our new kitten, Hawk, is slowly becoming a member of the family. She fits in as she had an accident with a rocker while we were in Ontario. Apparently she got her head and throat squished and seizured badly. Short story is she recovered (mostly). We're not sure about her vision or her balance but Coco has gotten used to her. Most importantly, she's a little cat who has overcome hard things and will continue to do so. Like us. ๐Ÿ™‚

Dad already told you about our canoe trip. Here's my one experience ...


So that is the gist of our recent news but most importantly, I want you to know how much I still love the Gospel. It's really an ongoing love affair for me with joy and adventure on the side. Every morning, my favourite thing is to curl up in the library and take out my scriptures to study the Lord's will for me. I love it when I get sudden strokes of insights, then act on them, then see the ripple effects of the Lord's blessings. This is the Most Important thing in my life. The Lord teaches me to be a better wife, a better Mom, a better person all around. He teaches me to love more effectively, to have patience in key moments and to find consolation in grief. I'm okay as long as I can spend a portion of my day with the divine. (I just shared a secret to life. You should write that down. ;)

I want you to know how proud I am of you. Keep striving, learning and working to the end. And every now and then, write down thoughts of what you'd like to do when you get home.

Question: Do you want us to do some applications to colleges and universities? I guess a different question might be, Do you want to take classes in January or the following September?

Love you forever!

Mom












From Josh:

I never thought I would get trunky... I guess it all starts with my focus, where is my focus at? There is a saying in this mission "Check your motives" and to be completely honest I am having to check mine more and more, am I just clinging on to the end waiting for it to be done or am I immersing myself in the work? dedicating my mind to God. Every day I have a choice whether I am going to be motivated or not, and usually when I get out and doing I am good, but if by chance we are weekly planning I find it really hard to stay focused... it is interesting though when I feel the spirit I seem to have limitless energy and excitement, there are several different ways I can gain the spirit in super strong bursts, 
1. Delving into the Book of Mormon and discovering amazing wonders that I knew or didn't know before. 
2. Bearing my testimony to a basher who is trying to argue his point and we just tell what we know to be true. 
3.Going to Zone conference
4.Attending a baptism of someone I taught.

Those are only a few of the things that really drives the spirit into my being and illuminates my mind and heart, but usually it comes slowly and I am left to wonder if iI am being guided or not, a lot of times as a missionary you must take the council of Moroni "...whatsoever is good is of God..." so we must trust that if we feel like we should do something that will be good then we must (for everyone I guess not just missionaries) act on it. 

It has been fun getting to know a new missionary that we are training, I have been able to step back and see myself in him, he is an immature 18 year old who is still trying to figure it out, and I am realizing how much of a boy I still was when I first came out, and how much of a man  I have been able to become, I have been changed so much and now that i am at this point on my mission I am hearing a lot of horror stories about going home, not about the experiences of home but how I may act, so if I am a little weird when I get home bear with me. I have heard a lot of RM's say that when they got home they thought their family was all apostate, I will try to be at least a little normal but it may take time for me to adjust to regular life, but we will tackle that when I get home... :)

I love you all so much and I am grateful for all the emails and letters from everyone, I may really suck at writing but never doubt that I love them all the same.

Love Josh.





Sunday, August 20, 2017

August 20, 2017 - Ontario

From Dad:

Hi Josh,

Sorry we did not get a letter to you last week. If we were better thinkers aheaders, we would have scheduled or sent a letter before we left on the canoe trip. As it was, we were totally without access to the internet for 8 days in Quetico park.More details to come on that later in the letter.

This week I received a popup on my Facebook reminding me that it was 2 years ago that you opened your mission call. 


And now we're waiting for Sam's mission call! he went for his interview August 9th with the Stake President and was submitted that night. So the waiting begins!  It will be interesting to see whether or not you will overlap or miss each other. From other reports of mission calls, if he ends up going out of country, you will likely see each other before he goes. That would be a fun blessing.

Loved hearing about your "Miracles". Hope you have many more as you run the home stretch. Keep going strong and serve with all your might mind and strength. It will be worth it. We're excited for your opportunity to serve as a District leader. You'll be great.

This last couple of weeks has been a great adventure. After the Olsen reunion, Abby and Mia headed back west with Mark and his kids to stay with Grandma and Grandpa Smith and Taylie and Steve while we were away. Mom, I, Sam and Ben and Steph and Tyler packed up our packs and gear and headed out on a canoe trip with Grandma and Grandpa Bruce and a few others. 7 canoes in total!

We ended up going on the reverse route from what we did 3 years ago.The weather was fantastic and the fish delicious. 

The "Hitting the Wall" moment came for most of us when we ended up lost in one of the swampy areas between lakes. At one critical junction, we missed the right turn to the portage into Sturgeon Lake and instead went North into more swamp, little lakes and run down portages. By the time we realized we had missed the turn, we were 3 hours down the path. As we scratched our heads and figured out where we were, we had a defining moment where we had the realization that there was no way forward. Rather, we would have to turn around and retrace our steps back through the crazy wild forest and swamp areas we had just fought our way through. And I mean literally fought our way through as this was a round less taken by anyone. We were portaging through bush wacking vs. trails. We were pushing the canoes through swamp and beaver dams, often falling up to our chests in water and grass. It was a daunting prospect. It was inspiring to see and experience the resolve and determination of everyone as we hitched up our soggy pants and shoved our way back into the quagmire. Grandpa had to take a little walk before we started out again to "double check", but I believe he probably was going off to be by himself, maybe to kick a log or two in frustration, but I imagined he also said a prayer for help and safety. You have a faithful heritage in your Grandpa and Grandma Bruce!

After a few more hours of effort, we heard the joyous sound of Sam and Ben yelling back from a foraging mission down a side path they had found the portage out! And it was only 50 meters long! We finally emerged onto the welcome vista of Sturgeon lake as dusk descended and we had the unique experience of paddling in the dark to our campsite, the sandy peninsula where we spent Sunday 3 years ago if you remember.

Of course, we had many discussions based on Grandpa Bruce's oft repeated quote that "Life is like a canoe trip". I think we all, at some point or another reach a point in our lives where we look around and wonder how we could have gotten our selves into such a mess, so far off track.And we wonder if we can ever face the daunting task of retracing our steps back to the right path. But the joy that comes when we do and we feel the great joy that comes from being where we know we want to and should be is so wonderful. 
The best part of the whole trip for me was having your Mom there with me. She is the light of my life and I can't imagine my life without her. She has heard about canoe trips her whole life. Grandpa Bruce shared that when his boy's were growing up he wanted to find something to help turn them from boys into men, so he came up with the bi-annual canoe trips. It was only a few years ago that he wondered why he hadn't done it with his girls! So it was a highlight for him to to have a daughter and grand daughter on the trip.

Sunday we had a very spiritual camp meeting and I really enjoyed Tyler's favorite scripture he shared in Omni 1:26

26 And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved. 
He talked about how amazing it is to be able to offer our whole souls and encouraged us to consider if we are doing that for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Our journey home from Ontario took us 30 hours due to having to fix a trailer tire that we didn't have a tire iron for (had to drop the trailer and run into Medicine Hat) and had to get it repaired in Lethbridge. We met Mark there and Sam bought Marks old Hyundai Elantra for going back and forth to work with. We split up and Mom and Sam went to Ft. Mclead to pick up the girls and we met in Airdrie for lunch. The girls came running across the parking lot to greet me and gave me a big hug. It was nice to feel remembered and appreciated and I missed them Each one of you are so precious to me and Mom!

Hope you are finding joy as you persevere through your own swamps and challenges as you sprint to the end. Hope this doesn't make you too trunky :)

Love 
Dad.













From Josh:

Changes are all over the place this transfer, i don't know if I said in my last email but I am currently training a Visa waiter and I am co district leaders with my companion.




I feel like this is going to be a great transfer.

This week has been up and down honestly, I am feeling hyper sensitive because of my trainee , we have come in contact with a few people this week that have tried to topple our testimonies and I don't know how strong my trainee's testimony is, we are kind of preparing him for the next faze of his mission, he will be going to India at the end of this transfer and we are trying to do all we can to help him, but I guess it can't be helped when you have a huuuuge church that hates mormons just up the street. surprisingly we got bashed by a Catholic, as usual he was super nice and gave us water but once we got into the gospel he started bashing back and forth, everything from Tithes to evidence. Too many people base their faith off of evidence, they want proof of everything that God has to offer. God has commanded us to walk by faith and not by sight.
We met this one person, his name was Adrien, and he does not believe in anything, he claims to even be unsure about gravity, he let us in and gave us water (figures) and no one lets us in, so we figured he was a basher, as we spoke to him we definitely realized that he was trying to topple our faith with logic and philosophy, every time that we mentioned faith he would stop us and say, "you mean pretending" and to be honest after a while I even started doubting my feelings, so I told him that we had to go, he didn't seem to want us to leave so we said that we had an appointment to go to, we finally left and it turned out to have taken 35 minutes of our time. Someone once told me that "if someone is taking up your time when you could be sharing the gospel with someone who will listen then they are a servant of the devil" it was funny because that same guy who told us that was taking our time and wasn't really willing to listen to our opinions. 

Training life is a blast, everything we do is some new experience to Elder House (my trainee) 
and I have realized more and more how much of it has become old hat to me, and so being able to try to help our trainee to see the fun in all of it I have been able to learn to appreciate things that I had put to the side. So I get to experience everything anew again. 

District leader life is a fun time as well, I love getting to know more missionaries this way, I had to get used to being a regular missionary and being cut off from socializing with other missionaries to an extent but now I can develop relationships and help other missionaries, a lot of them are pretty new to the mission, so I am grateful that I can help with problems that I have faced and give advice and suggestions to how to deal with it better then I did, the key I think is being open and honest with everyone, the more open I am the more someone else will feel open to open up if that makes sense. 

anyway I love you all, I am grateful for the influence of everyone i have come in contact in my life, and I love the things I can take away.

All the food I have in the fridge is super cheap and not too healthy because I am living off a limited budget but I am getting by, the members here are super nice and feed us a lot. Elder House is fighting to stay awake all day (I remember those days) we just keep telling him that he will get used to it. we have 2 companionships in the district, one set of sisters and one set of Elders, so its going to be a fun transfer... I have to say I started the D&C challenge, which is to read one section of the Doctrine and Covenants starting at the end and reading to the beginning as sort of a count down. its a stupid tradition but I enjoy it because its helping me to keep track of my scripture reading so I will finish D&C for the second time before I come home. 

Love 
Josh








August 14, 2017 - A lot of changes...

From Josh:

This is the beginning of a new transfer and things are going to be crazy, I will be training with my current companion, a visa waiter, I am super excited and nervous, also the fact that I will be Co-district leader as well, I definitely will be needing the spirit in this. 

This week went by way too fast, I can hardly put my thoughts together as to what happened, we were able to see some pretty cool miracles, one of the people we picked up as an investigator me and Elder Bergeron both had talked to before and he was not too interested both times, but we knocked into him again and started talking and through the conversation we were able to pick him up as a new investigator. 
We have this thing called the Miracle Hotline that we send cool experiences in and this is what I put. 

Miracle! We were knocking doors, it was a street we knocked before and not many people talked to us. We knocked on a house that we remembered and it was the same person as before with the same response of, "Yea not interested." But we persisted. He said he does not go to church because all churches seem self-centered. We talked about how Christ had a church and he said,"Yea, I would join Christ’s church." Long story short, we taught him The Restoration, taught to his needs, and now he is on date. He stated, "I wasn't going to answer the door and I usually tell you to leave, but for some reason I listened. Maybe this is a sign that this is the direction I have been searching for."#preparedbeforeyouknow #lastdoor #donotendKOearly!

we were able to send another miracle in as well. 

Miracle! We were knocking doors and we were not finding much success but we continued faithfully. We were going to be late for an appointment but we felt we should knock one last door. A lady answered and we started teaching. She stopped us and told us to hold on while she took something off the stove. When she came back, her daughter came with her. We were able to teach them The Restoration. She told us that she wasn't going to answer the door but she felt like she should for some reason. She said that it was a sign that she needed to start being more religious in her life and we testified of this message. We will be going back to share more! #letthheholyspiritguide #justonemoredoor #followthespirit!

I have been so blessed to be here in this mission, there have been so any hard experiences that I have had to work through, the other day a member told us that a mission isn't just the best two years of your life, but it is the best two years for your life, and I have to agree, through my mission and through everyones mission I think, it is sort of a refining fire that burns off a lot of excess self and reveals a better me, I can feel that I have changes so much, and it is going to be sooooo weird getting home and seeing everyone and adapting back into regular life. wearing t-shirts is weird, socializing without talking about the gospel in a conversation is something I have forgotten how to do. I am just enjoying the time I have at this moment being able to preach the gospel and being a missionary. 

I have officially ran out of food and its lucky that I am shopping today because I looked in the fridge this morning and it was completely empty. luckily I had a few odds and ends to make breakfast. 

I love you all a ton, I am looking forward to this transfer, though there were a few days this week that I was surprised by trunkyness, I have had to shrug it off more and more, its almost unconscious, but all of a sudden I will start not being motivated at all then I will have to shake myself free of those feelings and move on. 

stay safe and keep growing in the gospel, magnify your roles in the ward and seek to understand the will of God over all things. 

love 

Josh


Another transfer with this guy!

Ben and Jerry's vermont original, (had to try it because of Elder Bergeron)

Bike life! got to cut down on miles in the car. 

August 7, 2017 - Lake of the Woods

From Mom:


Dear Josh,

I'm sitting in this little tent trailer trying to compose a letter to my missionary son. The tent trailer is parked at the old homestead in Bergland, Ontario. I can hear someone playing the accordion, the clink of a horseshoe game, laughter and the wind in the trees. There is something magical about returning to ones' roots; to realize that our genetics are from pretty resilient stuff.

Steph flew in a few days before we left and she submitted herself to the drive across Canada. ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ It was a little cramped and required intense stretching at ever stop. Lol.


But now we are here, learning about our ancestors. I heard an inspiring story about your great-great-great Grandmother Kristina Olson. She was a midwife for the area and helped over 200 babies be born. She didn't lose a single one, which was remarkable for the time. The particular story I liked was one where she was called in the middle of a winter night by a feverish and desperate father. She bundled up in the -40 weather and arrived to a home that was devoid of food. She helped the mother give birth, then stayed to nurse the family. Somehow her husband, Peter John, showed up with 100 lbs of flour, which she made into bread. She didn't leave until they were fed and healed. She was known for her patient and sometimes miraculous healing. Kristina attributed all of her success to heavenly help. (She also smoked a pipe until she was 97, when she died. But I actually love that because it makes her human.)

What a legacy of service. 

I also learned that your great-great grandfather Godfrey had a sister who died when her youngest daughter, Lilian, was three. They took her in and raised her in the Gospel. Her descendants (my fourth cousins) who were at the Reunion made a point to say they would be forever grateful for that, otherwise they wouldn't have the Gospel in their lives at all. It was a service that expands (and continues to reach) four generations. 

We are planning to fish and spend the day at the lake. The nights are already turning cold. We are bundled in our sleeping bags and Steph wears a toque at night. On Wednesday we are leaving for the canoe trip. My first time. Wish me luck!

Benson and Cody are here. Cody will come with us on the canoe trip. Benson made a point to ask if you could say hi to him and to tell you that he misses you. ๐Ÿ™‚


Here are some other pictures of the Reunion...


Playing a Swedish points game called Mรถlkke ... It's a cross between bowling and Koob. 


Slip and slide baseball


Mark and I were polka-ing. He was whipping me around so fast I had a hard time keeping my breath. So fun!

Also, just before we left for Ontario two things happened...

We got a kitten which Abby named Hawk because she insists on climbing up your body and perching on your shoulder.



And I did my yearly mountain summit hike. I got to the top of Bertha Peak in Waterton. It took us 12 hours when it should have taken us five or six because we lost the path. There is a Gospel analogy in there somewhere I'm sure. Stick to the path otherwise the journey is longer, harder and full of burrs that get stuck in your shoes! Ha!


Whenever I summit, I think of the scripture in Isaiah 58:13-14 about the Sabbath...

13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

I've often considered what riding "upon the high places of the earth" means. It's a promise for keeping the Sabbath Holy. When I am at the top of the mountains, I can see everything, everywhere 360°. So I think a promised blessing for keeping the Sabbath is perspective. And having a good perspective in life is something I need. 

Anyway, I love you so much, Josh.  And I'm extremely proud of you. I'm fully supportive of your choice to seek out an extension. Be accepting of whatever your mission president says. You're always in our prayers.

Love you forever,

Mom

From Josh - "Don't rush into things...":

This week I seem to keep learning not to rush into things, I have seen what happens when we rush into teaching when we rush to an appointment, when we rush district meeting, it all seems to go to one place, confusion, and misunderstanding. 
So the Mission is really caught up on what is called "Mission Math" it is a statistical report from Salt Lake telling us what happens in our mission on the numbers side, so when I first got into the mission we were getting 32 new investigators for every person baptized, and now we are getting 17 new investigators for every 1 baptism we have in the mission, the problem and the difference is people were so concerned about the numbers back then that they didn't care about who they taught as long as they could get a prayer, some doctrine, and a return appointment then they could "technically" be counted as a new investigator, so what missionaries changed is that they are really focusing on teaching people and not lessons. 
The other day, we taught this one girl the restoration and we said a prayer and everything, and set an appointment for the next day, as we walked away my companion and I did the high five for a new investigator but I was without hope, for while she was paying attention I knew that she wasn't into it, and would probably ditch on the next appointment not to mention we hadn't met her family, and so the next day we went by and met her mother and her mom told us that she wasn't interested and did not want to meet anymore, and I walked away not surprised because even thought we may have been able to count her as a new investigator it was meaningless and superficial. We have been called to find those who will receive us, if they aren't going to continue meeting with us after the first lesson then they didn't really want to receive us in the first place. 

We seemed to have been passively bashed all week this week, maybe it didn't help that we knocked a lot near a church known for anti mormon sermons, there was this guy who tried to convince us that the bible is all based off of evidence there is no such thing as faith, another told us that only Christ teachings were correct and all the prophets and apostles were just men, many people just spouted out the same lines I have heard throughout my mission, and I realized that a lot of these people are spoon fed these lines and a lot of the problem today is that people are just too comfortable to change, and what happens to people who are spiritually lazy, they will often spend more time trying to justify why they are comfortable and not willing to progress then the original work it would take to step out of their comfort zones. 
There will be times in your life that will extremely test your faith, and everything will seem bleak, but don't let your doubts overcome your faith, because in the end your life will be blessed by your decision to stay, 
when I lost my testimony in the beginning of my mission it is because of things I didn't know, and I let those things get blown out of proportion, and even now I don't know about some of those things that I struggled with, but recently something that I really stuggled with has recently been brought to an understanding, been brought to light, and I was blown away that it was so simple, and I am ever grateful that I chose to have faith rather then to give up. So don't give up if something you hear or something happens tries to knock you off your course, because somewhere down the road things will be revealed and if you are faithful you will be blown away by the great glory of God, if you are not then you will regret the lost time. 

I love you all, things are good, I ran out of most of my food this week, luckily I still have plenty of money to last through the month, I have been really trying to be more thrifty with my money, and it takes a lot of self control, (which I don't have much of) i have been learning to develop a little more of it little by little. 
I am down to 3 more pares of pants that don't have any holes in them the rest are trash, that included the 4 pairs that i bought 6 months ago now. they are gone, the ones I have left are my suit pants, my gray pants I brought out with me and one pair I bought for my other suit, my shirt are in great condition though the collars are started to ware, my shoes look like they have definitely been worn for two years. I have been listening to all the horror stories of returning home and I am a little anxious, I checked with my mission president and I can extend for three weeks, but that would mean a trio and president would rather not, so I will be coming home on time, I am kind of glad, after really considering it, I kind of felt selfish and wanted to be home for Christmas.
I recently got a super bad sore throat and couldn't yawn without feeling excruciating pain, and it hurt to eat solid food, I have been taking a lot of vitamin C and have taken Bucklies twice, didn't help too much but felt good once I got over the flavor. Any suggestions?

I love you so all so much, I don't know where I would be without my family and my friends, my leaders and most importantly the gospel. 

Stay safe. 

Josh