Sunday, March 27, 2016

March 21, 2016

Oh man! This week has been a total blur and I have no clue where to begin, and I hardly know what I did! I will have to refer to my journal, or in a more scriptural terms, It must needs be and is expedient that I write from mine other account.

So without further adieu.

Monday March 14

P-Day! Today's zone activity was volleyball and it was tons of fun, lots of laughs and building of unity, me and Elder Wilson played scripture golf for companion study and talked about the scriptures found, I feel like I need to read the Book of Mormon again so I can feel closer to the spirit.

Tuesday March 15

As a Highlight for today we were able to visit the Orona's an inactive family that loves missionaries. They had us over for sloppy joes and we are really trying to get them active again, they are all super full of energy and can't focus for long so it can get hard to teach them.

Wednesday March 16

3 month mark! wow has it really been that long? 
I was really discouraged at knockout today I don't enjoy when people talk over me when they already can see me talking, and the people who we talked to today did it just because they didn't want to hear me talk, and most treated us like crap, and yet there were those people who were really nice and gave us water for the heat. I have to work on loving people more...

Friday March 18

Dang it! I missed a day! I have an excuse though, we went on exchanges today, the first time on my mission I have been on an actual exchange. I had the opportunity yesterday to serve with Elder Miller, he is assigned to the Korean speaking mission of the San Fernando Valley, THE ENTIRE VALLEY! 
as such he was able to go down to North Hollywood at the bottom of our mission and we got to see a nice Korean lady, and eat at a really good sandwich place

After we exchanged back me and Elder Wilson went straight to the Zone leaders area and did exchanges there so I got two exchanges in a row! what a hassle that was, but while me and Elder Call were knocking doors we looked behind us and saw billowing smoke from across the block right where we had parked so we rushed over and there was a house fire raging just across the street from where we had parked, Elder Call contacted 911 and the fire trucks were there within two minutes so we just left.

Saturday March 19

Operation Gratitude today! An organization dedicated to sending care packages to soldiers out in the field, today was an assembly day so we just packed 5100 for an hour and was able to get cookies after, they have an official page on Facebook and I wonder if I am in any pictures they put up.
After we helped a family move from the reseda ward.

Back with Elder Wilson! and during knockout today we met Fred a black Guy in his 50's and we talked to him for an hour about our beliefs he had a lot of questions and we shall see where this goes

Sunday March 20

Sunday today! It was a nice service, Anthony Morales an investigator we have been working with came even though he doesn't want to be baptized, he still wants to be taught the lessons and likes the light that comes when us missionaries come into his home.

I got your St Patrick's day Package! I love you guys, I can't believe Abby called me Stinky though, I think she needs to send me an apology email.

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Monday, March 14, 2016

March 14, 2014

From Josh:

This is a new thing I am trying out, we shall see how it goes.

Tuesday March 8 2016

Anthony has read all the way to 2 Nephi and he says he really agrees with it though he is hung up on a lot of issues with the church he said that he didn't really know yet whether this church was for him, we were able to answer a lot of his concerns and the spirit really was there.

Wednesday March 9 2016

So many miracles today I am unsure where to start, today we met with an older lady named Beverly. We met her a couple days previous and she acted a but suspicious at first but when she saw us she opened the door wide and listened while we did our regular door approach and amazingly! She gave us a date where we could return! So we got there and somehow we got it into our heads that her name was Sharon so at first a man answered we asked for Sharon and was turned away feeling a bit rejected and while walking away was called back saying that Beverly was waiting for two handsomely dressed young men, so we went back and was able to meet with her and tell her of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, after words we asked to pray to know if it was true, and she said she already knew, confused we asked how, and she said when she opened her door for the first time she was prepared to turn us away, and when she saw us, she said she could see "the light of God all around us" and she knew we were from God, and I marveled because it bore witness to me that we are acting under God and as such he gives us his light to share with the world.

Thursday March 10 2016

So today we were knocking and after a door we were walking away when two men stopped us, and introduced themselves as Wes and Shay, and they commended us for being "fellow missionaries in the work" Wes was the main speaker and he went on to tell us that he had a church group of youth that he was running inspiring youth to go out and proclaim the Gospel. the best way to describe Wes is a Hippi surfer dude, "its good to see millennials out in the work of God Dude, Just like it says in Matthew, man, you God to let your light so shine and stuff, you know? like the Great lord said, the field is white, and dude you are harvesting with thy sickle and stuff like that man" he the proceeded to invite us to speak in his non denomination youth church, sadly it was out of our area so we were unable to attend.

Friday March 11 2016

We went to Larry Bells finally! (one of our investigators who just wouldn't set a return date for two weeks. it was only 30 mins so we focused on the atonement and how we had to have faith in Christ and come unto him. He said he can't believe in a God who demands so much from his children, He knows that God exists but doubts he would ever ask us to do something that we don't want to. so we need to work past that. 

Saturday March 12 2016

Today we Helped a man to clean out his garage, In California they do not us their garages for their cars, instead they use it as an extra storage area, and Carlos (the name of this man) had stuffed all sorts of objects into his garage, we opened it up and it was a wall of junk in front of us, so much I didn't know where to start, but we got most of it done.

Sunday March 13 2016

We got to attend a Fireside were one of the members in my ward Brother Willis spoke on his conversion from Black Panther to the Church. The black panther group was a black extremest group against white oppression and did a lot of crazy things, Bro. Willis spoke on Drug trafficking Gun stocking and gun fights that he got into, and his journey from that to being a member of the church, he is the coolest guy ever he is in his 50's now and really loves the Gospel.

From Mom:

That's fantastic, Josh! Grandma will be proud you are using her journalling method. Our piano is getting tuned at the moment and I think I will create a Gospel analogy for it. It's now 114 years old but it needs more regular checking and tuning to ring clear and true. Thinking.....

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From Josh:


Wow so that is what our piano looks like all taken apart, thank you so much for the pictures, It is one thing that makes me feel like part of everyone's life, and I love hearing all the stories.


Church is very important to go to because it is a tuning process to make sure we are able to play all the right notes during the week. When we miss church we can still sound good but the sound is reduced and if we continually miss that weekly tune up we will eventually lose all sense of tune and though we can still play the notes will all be skewed and out of whack

I hope everyone is doing well, and keeping up with their scripture reading. I find the story of Moroni and the Freemen so intriguing and think we should start a club called the Freemen, holding to those same values stated in the Book of Mormon with the title of Liberty as a standard. this is just something on my mind to start after my mission, an organization that upholds the values of freedom and truth.

I have been recently contemplating a lot, there is one thing about missions they can at times be so hard, there have been many days here where we will spend hours knocking on doors and getting doors slammed in our faces, but hearing that doesn't sound as discouraging as it actually is. because it is more then getting doors slammed in our faces. There are days where people will scorn and question and degrade us for hours. There will be doors where they will spout off a short quip of anti before slamming the door, there will be people who will tell you that you are waisting your time, that you are useless, that you are brainwashed, that you should just stick to your own religion and not bother anyone else.
There have been days where I have question why I even try, why I am here on a mission, there have been days where I have felt all alone in to world being a Mormon, there have been days where spiteful questions and comments about what I believe have shaken me to the core. I have been attacked, accused of spreading lies, called stupid, cursed at, berated and I know that I haven't seen even the worst of it. 
So why do I do this? is it worth it? 
This is what I have come to learn, That it is worth it, Why do I do this? Because I know that this is true, and I cannot deny it, I know that the truth has made me feel Joy beyond expression, I do this because I love the Lord, I love this Gospel. and I want to share it with the world. There is one thing that has been stated that is true "the truth will always be apposed" 
I do this because I know that it is the one thing that needs to be done, and when I face those difficult days, I take comfort that I am doing the will of God, and that as long as I am doing that I cannot give up. 

From Mom:

You explained the reason why we do things perfectly. It IS true. All of it. There nothing more to say. And we keep inviting others to partake of the Joy that can be felt. One day we'll have to face our Heavenly Father and I'll want to be able to look him in the eye in confidence. Keep going, my boy. You are doing more good than you realize.

From Josh:

Here are a couple photo's I have taken, I haven't been able to take much photo's as I have been super busy. but here a few
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From Mom:

And I LOVE your study desk picture!

From Josh:

The problem is that I do not want to look like a tourist and I forget it is safely hidden in my bag until it is the end of the day,. You have no idea how much work it is to be a missionary, I bet dad could tell you a little, most days all I can think about it the next appointment and sticking to our plans for the day, and before I know it is the end of the week and I look and I say to myself wait? what happened to the day? let alone the week! it feels like I have been in California about a week, though it has actually been a month.

I have the perfect companionship picture but it is in the worst position. something I didn't realize until I looked at the picture again, can you tell what is wrong with it. think it is salvageable? :( 



From Mom:

Hahahaha. Definitely the laugh of the day. Hahaha. I love it. (It may or may not end up in the blog dad is doing for you.)
Is it true that the days are long and the weeks are short?

From Josh:

well looking back at the day's it feels like the days are short and the weeks are short and WHAT THE HECK I HAVE BEEN OUT 3 MONTHS! no wonder missionaries need to schedule their time wisely.

From Mom:

Steph said she could Photoshop your photo for you. I sent it to her. Time is going fast, but I can feel a break down coming. Be prepared for a mushy email soon. Hahaha. LOVE YOU!


Monday, March 7, 2016

March 7, 2016

Letter from Dad:

Hi Josh,

Hope you are having a great week. I could sense in your last letter that some of the honeymoon of Mission life is wearing off a little and your settling into the ups and downs of mission life.

I had an opportunity to talk with Bro. Scott Campbell this week. We are good friends and we like to philosophize a little bit once and a while.  This week we talked about the principle of agency. I've been thinking a lot about it with regards to how our Heavenly Father is able to know all things, yet still grant us our agency. This seem contradictory... if the Lord knows all things, then does he know what we are going to do before we do it? If so, isn't that almost fore-ordination?  As I have been pondering some of this, 

I have also been reading a book called "Team of teams" about an army general who led the fight against Al Qaeda in Iraq in 2004. It discusses how the army, which was super well planned and efficient had a very hard time dealing with Al Qaeda because it was so de-centralized and hard to predict. In the current part of the book that I'm reading, he discusses the difference between efficiency and resilience. Efficient organizations endeavor to control and manage all the inputs to a complicated problem or problems to engineer a predictable output. Resilient organizations set themselves up to be able to adapt and react quickly to complex problems. It started me thinking about the pre-existence and how Satan viewed the human earthly experience as a "complicated" problem that could be solved by controlling the input (making our choices for us),. Heavenly Father's plan was a solution for a "complex" problem (Humans + agency = complex, unpredictable problems). His solution was "resiliency" where even though the inputs can't be controlled and agency inherently means we can't predict the outcomes, we needed a plan that could deal with the effects of agency. That's what the atonement is. It is a resilient plan, one that can adapt to any situation and make it better.

Anyways, long winded thought, but it was profound to me. Reminded me of Brad Wilcox's talk on grace that I had a chance to teach last Sunday. I reduced his talk down to 8 min clips. Check it out here if you're able: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0Bwgrul-DRE-hN3M3WFduVmY0ekU

We had a very crazy week starting on Monday. It was Feb. 29th, so already a day that didn't belong in the calendar. That week-end, I was test-driving a friends car and on Monday I found that the back tire was going flat! Taking it to Kal Tire, they of course couldn't fix it (side wall tear). So that put me out of sorts a little. Then during the day (working from home), I got an email from Leduc Count telling me the water study we had done on the well wasn't sufficient for the whole sub-division! I have to admit that I felt briefly like burning down the County office (btw, I think we've figured out a resolution). Kept pressing forward. At 4 pm, Ben came and asked me to take him to write his learners test. So we went to the testing center and waited in line for 15 min only to find out that we had to be there 1 h before closing in order to take the test. Grrrr. Came home and complained to Mom (she was having a bad too!). We blamed it on the odd leap year day. Mom and the girls headed to Walmart to get some things for FHE. An hour later the girls came running in exclaiming that "We ALMOST DIED!!!". Turns out that the vehicle beside them turning into the Leduc common intersection got smashed from behind and flow upside down into the intersection. Shook them up pretty good. We decided to stay in doors for the rest of the day!.

I ended up working from home most of the week because I've caught the whooping cough going around and have been having a lot of trouble sleeping due to coughing up a lung every night.Hoping to get that under control this week. Amazing how sleep is so important.

BTW, do you want us to go talk to the bank about your bank card? Sounds like you are able to stay on budget with your mission visa card. 

Also, we'll send you a hard copy of your Patriarchal blessing.

Love you, son. Have a great week.

Dad.

Response from Joshua:

That is an interesting thought Dad, I was reading in D&C today where the Lord told Joseph Smith that he knew he would give away the 116 pages and set in motion a back up plan before to prep that, so that causes one to wonder, I think God sent us here to gain the most experience in this life and though we have the ability to choose this is ultimately a learning experience, kind of like a test. the teacher already knows all the questions and answers but allows us to figure it out for ourselves, there is a set answer for each challenge but we still have the ability to choose the outcome, but since he knows how we are going to answer the next question adapts to what will give us the greatest learning experience.
I really liked that thought, the atonement encompasses all the mistakes we make like a white out when we repent. 
I have met a lot of people who skew that though, people who look at the atonement as a scape goat to not worrying about   a thing, I have to admit there are a lot of times where I do not feel very christlike to born agains, who believe that since Jesus Christ dies for us we are good, and I feel that is an insult to what he did for us, and all he worked to accomplish, and I find myself continually seeking repentance for the ill feelings that arises when someone does not get it. 

Jesus Christ lived his life as an example of who we should be, always giving ourselves in service and charity, acting in all respect towards God an his commandments, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not complicated it is always having faith in him, continually repenting and coming closer to God everyday, being baptized, remembering and renewing those covenants receiving and following the promptings of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.

We will not be excused from our own personal responsibility, a quote from Brad Wilcox is that same talk, His Grace is sufficient, and this is paraphrasing "we have been saved through Grace, but have we been changed throughout grace?"
His Grace is not to be abused, it is to be used for our salvation.

I do not want anyone dying before I get home, that is a scary experience, not something I would like going through. 

There is a lot of speculation I have been going through because a lot of the things I have heard from people, tip for you missions Sam and Ben, you will hear a lot of anti mormon things on your mission, you will be tried by your companions, and you will often be berated mentally emotionally and physically, so build up your testimony now, I have definitely seen the effects of being swayed by every wind of doctrine and can only plead to you to take Helaman 5:12 Strengthen your testimonies and if you don't feel you have one, gain one and build your house upon the Rock which is Jesus Christ. 

We have an investigator right now who is blown about by the whirlwinds and he is really struggling to find what is true, we are trying to direct him to that Rock and overtime we teach him he has some concern over things he had heard, like why do we need temples and how Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, so we are trying to work past these concerns he has. He was able to come to church thought so that was exciting.

I have met a lot of people who love the mormons and I have met a lot of people who just can't wait to harass us, it is interesting being a missionary, because people will constantly shout "I love Jesus!" or "My Friend needs Jesus!" I once got "Look its the Jesus people!" it is interesting. My first week here someone in passing saw us and said "Hey mormons! Joseph was a lier and you all will not make it to heaven!" 

All these experiences are really interesting and I am seeing more and more that we are definitely a peculiar people compared to that of the world, the world is full of those people searching for happiness and know not where to find it, and there is more people who will not change but instead seek to find happiness in sin. I have been called to find those people and bring them to the knowledge of the truth, and soon you will too. So prepare now for the time when you will be called to share your testimony of this Gospel, and no matter how strong a faith you have it will be tried, so build your foundation on Jesus Christ now.

I love you all so much, and hope you continue to have great adventures.  

Joshua Smith

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Feb 29, 2016

To Dad:

Distracted driving Dad, it sucks, I can attest to that. (Dad crashed the Green Car last week)

I am so glad that I have parents who love each other I think its a major factor to how our family has become so close, along with some others, I love how you have always pointed us to God, and how in every action you have taught us to be the best we can be, I love you guys so much.

when you were a missionary did you have the Mister Brown memorized discussions? and with the first Discussion did you start with the first vision?

My mission visa does work, My scotia card doesn't but as long as my mission visa card is working I will be perfect.
I am not in a bike area, apparently they are trying to get rid of them in this mission... :(
My mission President and his wife, I haven't had much of a chance to talk with them they were super excited that I finally got here, and President Henrie runs this mission a lot like a business.

I cover the Chatsworth ward, it is a ward of about 140 in average attendance with over 300 members so a lot of less active work, they are all super friendly and love to have us over for supper. I am still trying to figure things out. but two wards meet in our building, the Korean branch is the other one and they have their own set of Elders that we meet with regularly 

To Mom:

That sucks about the car, though we all knew it was going to break down sometime, it was only a matter of time. 

That mission statement is pretty good, though most of it we already do, Something I would would be good to add, and this is a second hand opinion, that we add some things you would like to improve on, usually a mission is inspired by a cause, what cause are we striving for? to be a better family? would it be valuable to add a specific challenge? I love everything that it says about our family and hope it can provide us with something to build up to.

This week we have been meeting with various investigators of different varying opinions, Steven is a black guy who leads a church youth group in his denomination, he has been meeting with us to try to see what is true his grandmother recently died causing him to wonder about the after life, he was always taught the heaven or hell fire principle and really wants to go to heaven, I hope he continues to investigate the church so we can teach him the plan of salvation. he has a real struggle with accepting the book of mormon, and doesn't believe that God would call another prophet, since Jesus Christ fulfilled all things, so a lot of his concerns we can't really solve for him, we invited him to pray about it. Something to always remember when inviting someone, apply the law of agency, never say you will do this, instead it is better to always have a will you statement, making the only answers to be either yes or no. Our other investigator is a new christian named Anthony, and he is a details guy, he will always ask us questions that don't really make sense or are so small that its hard to see their relevance, one question was if groves are bad, in the bible it speaks a lot about removing places of worship of other gods which were referred to as groves, and since Joseph saw his Vision in a grove Anthony took it as grounds that our church was false, we then explained how God would not forsake his own creation just for being a creation and opened a couple scriptures about groves being good. 

Something Steven asked us to do is pray to know if the Book of Mormon is true and I prayed to have an increased understanding, and I want to tell you that I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that the Bible is as well and would exhort you all to read them both, if you have a question turn to the word of God and he will answer you, that is why prayer is so important when studying the scriptures because prayer is when you speak you speak to God, when you want him to speak to you look to his words. 

Something I have learned here is that God truly answers prayers, I fasted and prayed to be humbled into the depths of humility and God sent me to California, everything here is completely different, the people are often rude and offensive to us as missionaries, a lot of my own views on teaching I have found to be ineffective, I am continually questioning a lot of my own personal views, and have been struggling to adapt, its like jumping into freezing cold water, my body at this time is still in shock of the plunge and I am confused with the area, with my companions and with how things work here, and I realize there is a lot i don't know, I am basically starting from scratch, pretty much the only thing that has kept me going is the feeling or peace that I am doing the Lords work, and that eventually I will adapt to this new life, it is the polar opposite from Halifax, so I have had to adjust to three different life styles, MTC, Halifax, and California. The one thing I can say is that Missions are truly hard, we are raised on the thought of glory and wonder of missions, but there are often times that people will scorn you, and mock you, your companions will not always instantly be your friend, and people will not listen to you, you will be tired and depressed with no hope of anything improving, but there are the moments when people will listen, when people will see the light inside you, moments that are indescribable, when the spirit lays hold on your heart and you will be overwhelmed with the love that only comes from the Lord, there will be moments when you will love someone so much that you will sacrifice your own relaxation time to be with them and bring them closer to the Gospel, it is those moments you life for as a missionary, that make all the pain worth it, I can truly say I have been humbled, and I can't wait for the time when I can grow in confidence in the Lord in this mission.

I hope you are all doing well and are continually drawing closer to the Lord, Remember that Members do more to convert people then missionaries can ever do. I would encourage you to always have a referral for the missionaries when they come to seek for missionary opportunities, and ways you can serve others.

Love you all

Elder Joshua Smith

P.S
Volunteer work is awesome, I would encourage you guys to find places to do missionary work. Also Family history is cool! I would invite you guys to learn how to get names off of family tree for baptisms, if they haven't been done.

P.P.S

I hate to ask for things but I just so happened to leave my patriarchal blessing at home if there could be some way to get it to me It would be much appreciated.

My address is: 10025 de soto #27 CA USA 91311.