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.
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.
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.