Dear Elder Smith,
We all loved the Skype call yesterday. It was definitely a highlight of the year! It's not enough time, of course, and we couldn't get everything in.
One thing I wanted to tell you about is the crazy forest fire that got so close to Fort McMurray they had to evacuate the entire city of 88 000. So now Edmonton and area has 88 000 displaced people. 1600 houses burned and no one knows how long it will be before the people can go back to the community. The fire is still raging.
It's almost unbelievable how quickly things can change, but this is the cool part....
Everyone has responded to magnificently to help these people. This is what I've seen and heard but there is so much more.
- * There were so many people evacuating from Fort McMurray, that the city got gridlocked. One woman said she could see the fire coming but they couldn't move their car. Scary! Luckily everyone got out (there is even footage of cars driving with the trees on both sides of highway in flames, embers falling on the hoods of vehicles) BUT eventually people ran out of gas on the side of the highway down the road. Out of danger but now stuck. The few gas stations there were between Fort Mac and Edmonton were quickly sold out of everything. People in North Edmonton quickly went out and bought all the jerry cans they could, filled them with gas and rescued those people, one at the time... For free!
- *I think the province, through donations has collected about twenty million dollars.
- *Our Relief Society went to help with sorting donations and they were turned away because so many people were already volunteering.
- *Hotels have offered their rooms for free.
- *Restaurants offered food for free.
- *My friend, Joanne McLennan from Nova Scotia, contacted me to let me know there was a friend of hers from Fort Mac was staying in Leduc with relatives. She asked if I could check on her. Ben and I went with popsicles and toilet paper. Ha ha. She said that they had time to pray as a family and there was no fear as they left. And they are taken care of. I was able to let Joanne know all was well with her friend.
- *The hardest hit area of the city is also where the church was but it was miraculously preserved.
Oh, there so much more, but I love how the people of Alberta have unified to help. The people of Fort Mac feel loved. Our province has this feeling of #AlbertaProud. It's really nice to see people stepping up.
Crisis affects change, and in this case, I think the change is good. Time will tell if it sticks.
Anyway, love you lots. So proud. Keep going, keep moving your feet.
Man I heard about the fire and I forgot to ask about it, that is crazy, I am glad that everyone is safe, I was worried about that for a bit.
There were many things that I wished I could have said too, something I have learned while on a mission is that information carefully recorded is important and that you don't know what you will need in the future, one thing I wish I continued doing is yearly pictures, a family in the Chatsworth Ward decided to take a family picture every year in the spot they were married, they have been married nearly twenty years and have twenty pictures of their family growing every year since their wedding, and I remember that I have one of those for a couple years but did not see the interest in it, now I see how cool it would be to see my growth every year.
I also wish I had specific addresses I had wrote down from Halifax because in halifax I was super vague on every detail and I now have no specific information to remember there.
I have also seen the importance of writing in my journal, I have written in it everyday since 3 days before my mission, and I am devotedly doing it for the rest of my mission so that my family can read my experiences and remember what it was like for me.
To everyone in the Smith family! Write in your journals, even the most mundane days can be the greatest treasure, I am reminded of how when we go to Ontario for our big family reunion how we go Metal detecting and are excited to find even a small kitchen knife and treasure things that back then would be counted as pretty much worthless, just think how cool it is to see grandma's Sega Genesis, and how fun it is to play what back then would be something that was a regular thing to own. all this is to show that what you write down now will be a treasure to you for many years to come, I remember when dad would come out and tell us really cool things from his mission because he had been reading his mission journals, The Book of Mormon is a journal of a people, The bible is a record of a people, if you aren't going to write for yourself write for future generations, write things that you think will be of value for your family to know about you, and since you don't know what your family will value, it is important to write as much as you can, Nephi made large plates with the secular history, and he made a separate set just for his spiritual experiences, you never know the impact you could have on those people who will read your words, whatever they may be, so write in your journal!
That is what my feeling was to write and now that I have fulfilled it I am at a loss for words.
How is Bailey doing?
Is seminary going well?
What is something that you feel that I can do more in my emails, Sam said they were pretty vague so I have been trying to figure out how I can be better at being more specific and finishing a thought, the problem is that I will have one thing that I feel I should write and I am driven for that purpose until I feel like I have said enough on it and then end my thought.
Anyway, I love you all, it was so great to see all of your faces.
Stay true in the gospel, because it is true.
I have ran out of time and wanted to send everyone something.
We have finished the Book of Mormon as a Zone and I have felt my Testimony grow so much, and thought I could share it with you.
These things I know.
God is our loving Heavenly Father, I know that he answers prayers with everything we need, and will grant unto us the things which we ask with a broken heart and contrite spirit.
I know that Jesus Christ suffered the atonement for us all, that he is the savior of the world and that he knows everything we are going through,
I have come to find out for myself that the Book of Mormon is a record of sacred scripture and I know what it speaks of is true, I know this through the confirming witness of the Holy Spirit in direct answers to my prayers, I know that in answer to a young boys prayer in 1820 God and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and has truly restored through Joseph Smith, His church on the earth, I know that God continues to reveal his will today through his Prophet and his apostles I know they are truly called of God and that they direct this church in the ways of light and life. I know this all and will not deny it because I know with a certainty that it is all true.
Elder Joshua Smith