Monday, June 6, 2016

June 6, 2016

From Mom:

Hi, Honey.
How's my missionary?

I just got back from a run. I'm trying to beat my own record of running 5 km in 35 minutes. I've only beat it twice; once two weeks ago and..... TODAY! I did it in 33 minutes and 53 seconds. My new record. Of course, my head feels like it's going to pop off my shoulders. My face is purpley red and I'm a little shakey, but I FEEL FANTASTIC! I even had sweat trickle down my back and into my butt crack; a slightly odd sensation but one that I worked hard for. Hahaha.

Isn't that just the way it is?

Accomplishing anything worthwhile is just plain hard work, but we feel so good after (as well as a few unexpected and odd sensations). And do you know when I always want to give up? Really close to the end. Like, at the 4 1/2 km mark.

Learning and living the Gospel is a lot like that. Studying, pondering, asking, receiving revelation can be just plain hard work. It takes time and effort but the rewards are beyond rewarding. I've been thinking lately about the reason why people walk away from the Church and I was struck with the realization that it's just easier for them than the hard work it takes to understanding the Gospel. They haven't felt the rewards, the transcendence of the Spirit, the peace of the Atonement, the purpose of The Plan of Salvation. Or, if they have felt it, they've forgotten.

I, for one, love the Sabbath and the weekly reminder it gives me to stay on the path, to keep running the race, to live true to my covenants. I hope I never forget or treat the Gospel lightly. I love it.

I was reading Romans 8 yesterday. I think it actually might be my absolutely favourite chapter in the entire Standard Works. Add it to your study tomorrow. I love the idea that nothing can separate us from the love of God, except our own selves. Dad made the comment that God gave us the commandments for that very reason, so that it's easier to feel the love of God.

So keep in mind that when you are interacting with belligerent, rude, vulgar people, it probably means they haven't felt the transcendence of the love of God, and if they aren't feeling the love of God, then it's up to you that they do. Through whatever means the Spirit tells you to, even if it's wishing them a good day and walking away.

I'm reminded of a time I went with the missionaries to help teach a lesson. They were stood up. They were frustrated, and one of the elders grabbed a shovel and started shoveling her walks (it was winter). I complemented him and he said, "Oh, this isn't really for her, it's for me. Whenever I start getting frustrated with people, I serve and the bad feelings go away." The thing is, they responded with love and I'm positive she was affected. I don't think she ever did hear any more lessons, but it doesn't matter. Seeds, my boy, and they add up.

In other news, Dad was in California this week for a business trip, San Ramon. The girls wanted to know if he saw you. Lol!
We dug out the stump in the front yard. Sam started working at Classic. The girls and Ben did their year end music recital (I'm so happy and relieved). And I'm running.

You keep running your race, too. It's worth all the rewards. I love you dearly.

Mom

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From Josh:

Wow! I can't believe you finally tore up that tree stump! that must have been a lot of work! You guys look well and I am glad that Sam is able to find work, here in California it is super hard to find work so most people will up and start their own business which I think is pretty cool, its also the only way to live in most places in this area, where its either Get Rich or Get Out. 

These past weeks have been blasting by, I can't even believe I have been here for a month already, we are truly eternal beings because we are just not comfortable living in time. 

The saugus ward is super super nice and do a lot for the missionaries, they feed us a lot, and when they aren't feeding us they are giving us a crap ton of food, we have so much food its silly and I am really struggling with my goal of getting down to 175 lbs I am at 192 lbs right now and no matter what I am trying Its slowly getting up there... but moving on. I love the area and we are getting to know the members well, we had dinner with John Hedar yesterday and it was cool to be sitting with the guy who acted Napoleon Dynamite, he is still doing acting for a couple smaller things and has three kids. 

This area is really a golden area though we are having a tough time finding people to teach, so either we are doing something wrong or the Lord is seeking to build me up again, probably the latter. 
being in this ward I have come to recognize that no matter how true the Gospel is, most people won't come to the truth unless they are there with friends. To me that makes a lot of sense, I feel like I am at the point where I will always go to church and remain active, but thinking about it, if in a ward all I felt was hostility or even if I didn't feel included I would probably only want to go to the first hour just to take the sacrament then I would have no desire to go to any of the other hours because of the feeling of being alone, so My challenge to you all is that if you see someone you don't recognize then introduce yourselves, it is time that members and missionaries work together to bring people to the truth of the Gospel.

I was ranting to myself the other day about people, and their unwillingness to listen, we knocked into a guy who came out and we talked for a while about the church and he had some pretty sincere questions at first but the more we talked the more we realized that he was only interested in telling us his opinion and we tried to get on his level, he was arguing how God is Jesus and the Holy spirit, and they are all the same, and we told him we could see kind of his view and that we were trying to understand, but he would not do the same, he then told us that he had never read the Book of Mormon, and had no desire to do so because it was completely false, which blows my mind, this is why I was ranting because people will openly tell us they have never read the Book of Mormon, then with the same breath tell us that it is all untrue that it was just written about Joseph Smith, and the thing I will always tell them, is Ask God, he is the source of all truth and is all powerful, he holds all the knowledge of everything, and yet people are unwilling to put their trust in him, but lying in my bed last night I then turned it on myself. Do I trust in him enough? do I ask him when I have doubts about something? and I realized that I needed to repent and come to him more fully because a lot of times in moments of doubt I will not turn to him. After another five minutes of talking to the guy we told him that this was going nowhere because of his unwillingness to open his heart, and we walked away.

Missionary work is hard, there are moments that I feel like an effective missionary, hard working willing to do all things asked of me, successful in the area I am in, and then the next moment or area I am much less effective, I am not working as hard not pushing myself as hard as I could be pushing, less successful, right now we have no one that we are teaching right now, all our investigators have either dropped us or we have dropped them, so we are currently not even teaching anyone, but we are working hard to find and so far have not had much success. So I am trying to keep myself motivated and moving forward because I know that whatever happens if we trust in the Lord we will be blessed and through this all I am being changed for the better. 

It is just starting to get really hot here, yesterday it was 110 degrees and it got up to 130 in our car which is about 54 degrees Celsius and it over heated my camera and now I have no way to take pictures. So I am borrowing any pictures that others take. 

I love you all so much.

Joshua

P.S
Tell Sam that Classic is hard, but if he putts in all his effort he will get raises, they like people who can put their back into it, tithing is important as well, all your efforts will be consecrated and you will receive divine help when you put the Lord first, but if you put your all into it, you will probably hate it. 

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May 31, 2016

From Mom:

Dear Elder Smith,

We attended a fireside last night put on by Brother Patrick showcasing some of the fun stuff on his mission. Did you know they had to come back three months early due to their son and daughter-in-law, Spencer and Shani, having premature twins and needing help? So technically, the Patricks should still be on their mission. He started the fireside by saying, "I would rather still be on my mission because it's way easier than real life; the whole world is praying for you, the Spirit is with you all the time, you get to associate with awesome missionaries, and people generally like you." Haha. At the end, Matthew Wright asked him if could go on another mission, where would he go? Brother Patrick responded, "Anchorage, Alaska." Lol! So he really loved his mission.

It was worth coming home early to attend the fireside. Sam and I were in Cardston to "help" with branding time at Liz and Jeff's. Mostly, I just wanted to see what it was like and Jeff put Sam to work. His job was to wrastle the calves down so they could brand them, immunize them, give them a booster shot and castrate them if needed. It was hard, messy work. Steph was there doing a documentary photography project and Tyler was put to work wrastling as well. I helped Liz in the kitchen as all the farm hands come in later to chow down on some grub. It was so interesting to experience a small part of ranch life and, of course, we loved spending time with cousins and seeing Steph and Tyler.

The next morning, Steph and I went for a run along that old highway on the Bectell property. As we were jogging along, enjoying the scenery and chatting, I was struck by the realization that there was no place I'd rather be. Later, we were hiking in Waterton with everyone and Grandma and Grandpa Smith and I thought, "There is no place I'd rather be." When Sam and I drove home and sat down with the fam to tell them everything from our trip I realized there was no place I'd rather be. Now, this morning, as I'm writing my missionary son an email, there is no place I would rather be. Wouldn't it be great if we could say that about life all the time?

"There is no place I'd rather be."

I think when we are in the right place at the right time, we can be assured that it's important to live that moment to the best of our ability. Like Neal A. Maxwell said, "Moments are the molecules that make up eternity." I decided to try to make my moments matter more.

This reminded me of a visit I had with 95 year old Sue. She was sharing with me some regrets she had about her life. I asked her if she could do it over again, what would she change? Her reply was that she would make every day matter.

The only way I know how to make my moments and days matter more is to partner with the Lord in everything I do through keeping the commandments, praying and studying the scriptures because this enables the Spirit to be with me. The Spirit is the defining factor. I'll let you know how this week goes in my next email. 😊
I also had a really great experience last week with Cindy Garbutt, who you met in the Dartmouth Ward. You know she moved here and has been trying to figure out western Canada. One of the things she wanted to do was attend the Cardston Temple, since she has never been. She is the only member in her family and didn't really want to go alone so she asked me if our ward ever goes there on temple trips. Of course, we don't... ever since the Edmonton Temple was built, so I suggested we take a trip ourselves and invite some other people to come. We ended up going with four of us: Ada Driessen, Annelle Lawrence, myself and Cindy. You know that Annelle and I were friends when we were kids, right? Her and I sat in the back seat and chatted the entire way about life in general. I loved it. When we arrived at the temple, quietly waiting for the session to start, I see Siobhan Westrop come in. (She's the one we visited in China, remember?) So, there I was in the temple, sitting with dear friends and feeling that the Lord puts people in our lives for a reason. We went through the session and visited in the Celestial Room discussing spiritual things. We walked away feeling edified and strengthened.
I so much appreciate the covenants we make with God at baptism and in the temple. They are a lifeline for me, constantly reminding me of what is most important in life. I think reminding myself of those covenants might be an effective way in making my moments matter more.

And gratitude. Being thankful for all the tender mercies and fantastic things life has to offer is other way to grasp hold of moments. When Sam and I drove up to the house yesterday, I was tired. I was nursing a four day headache (still struggling with whiplash stuff), and felt sore and impatient. The girls started whining and crying the minute I came home. Dad said they were good all weekend. Go figure. I was feeling discouraged with all the things that needed to be done. In that moment I was not thinking, "There is no place I would rather be." I wanted to hide in my bed with the light off, door locked and earplugs in. Haha. Instead, I noticed that Dad had built a raised flower bed in the front yard just like I wanted. (The front yard is all tore up and we're slowly redoing it.) I went out and looked at it and felt so grateful for a loving husband. I remembered that life does have it's ups and downs but good can always be found if we look for it. After the fireside, some food and a good night sleep, all those gloomy feelings are gone and I'm ready for the day. I'm excited to get some flowers in!
So, keep on keeping on, my boy. In all the ups and downs, remember there is always the good, even if we can't see it in the moment. I love the Gospel for the fantastic perspective it gives. I love the Gospel for its ability to make my earthly moments matter. I appreciate the Spirit which guides and directs me to choose the greater good. Always remember that you are where you need to be, that you are doing a great work (even if it doesn't feel like it sometimes), that your moments are adding up and building you into a person Heavenly Father designed you to be. Remember that you are loved by me and Dad, by your siblings, by your Grandparents and so many others. We are proud of you and think you are so fantastic. Keep moving no matter what because Movement is a principle of the Gospel. When we do our part, then God can work miracles. I really believe that.

Love you forever,
Mom

P.S. Matthew Wright wanted me to ask if you received his letter of a few weeks back. Did you?

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From Josh:

Hey! sorry I wasn't able to email yesterday, holidays that are on Mondays are to be treated as a regular work day, and so we got to do a whole bunch of things for memorial day yesterday, we were mostly faced with rejection though, so that was sad. One thing though that we got to do was catch someones dog that had gotten away from her, with that we were presented with the opportunity to share of the Gospel and testify of the truth of it to her, we gave her a book of mormon and invited her to read and find out the truth of it for herself. We will be going back in a week to teach her more.

Its so good to hear all of the adventures you are having and the opportunities to grow and experience, wrastling a calf sounds like a fun time! 

The other day I got to go on splits with a priest in our ward who is Sam's age and the whole time I couldn't help but think of all the great moments we had as brothers, every moment is something I treasure immensely. 
While working with him we knocked on this house and this man opened the door and looked really excited to see us, he called his daughter out with him and we went through who we are and what we were sharing and then he asked if he could share his beliefs he went on to ask who we thought Christ was, I told him that he was our savior that he died for us, that he is the son of God, that was where he stopped me and went on to tell us that we were sorely wrong, that God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit were one being, that Jesus was in fact God, and that it was his job (the guy speaking) to correct our misbegotten ways. With adrenaline pumping in my veins and my heart beating rapidly I told him of Joseph Smith and his miraculous vision, I shared my conviction of the Book of Mormon, and how it is the evidence of all we believe and talk about, I invited him to read it and pray to know of its truth. The whole time I was speaking he looked at me with a condoning smile as if I was a young child who did not know anything at all, and after I finished he went on again and repeated everything he had said about the trinity adding that because he loved us he wanted to let us know that we were wrong, that we could never be saved unless we changed our views, and before he finished I pulled an Elder Thorpe, which was to wish him a good day and not waste any more time with him, so I turned and walked away. 

This is just one of the many times that this has happened, and I want to tell you that telling someone they are wrong will only cause hurt and pain and will not change a persons mind. In 2 Nephi 26:27 is Gods command to persuade not persecute, Persuade means to urge, impel or influence someone and it is the best way to bring someone to their own understanding of the truth. To build up someone while helping them to change. 

The time I am spending here in Saugus has really brought me to an understanding of my own short comings, and I don't know how I can change to be a better missionary, in one of our district meetings we spoke on change and left it to the missionaries in our district to help understand what we can do, and one of the sisters said that we must first understand what we lack and she shared the experience of the Rich young merchant when he asked "what lack I yet?" So our challenge in our district was to pray fervently to ask what we lack, and I have come to find that I lack a lot of confidence to act. So a lot of my studies have been dedicated to how I can gain confidence, and everything usually boils down into Faith, having faith in the Lord and putting full trust in him breeds confidence. 

I have come to realize that another one of my shortcomings is in writing letters and emails, I think way too much on what I am going to say and soon run out of things to say.

all I really want to say is be faithful, and grow your testimonies, Abby and Mia, try to read in the scriptures as much as you can, because in them holds the words on life, and I have found so much steadfastness in them, I challenge each and everyone of you to not only strengthen yourselves but share these words with everyone.

We are fighting a real war here, and we need every man and woman to fight for God.

I love you all so much. 

P.S 
I Got Matthews letter, and I have my response ready to send so I will be sending that today.  

Pictures

You all look amazing, and I am so glad I have the chance to see you.

The first picture is me my district, from right to left
Elder Thorpe
Sister Arrington
Sister Ipson 
Sister Bosshard 
Sister Ames
Elder Clark
Elder wade


Second picture is our boy band picture with me Elder Thorpe, Elder Clark and Elder Wade looking the other way

 
us goofing off again

Us at David Garabays Baptizm


Right to Left
Me
Mikey Garabay
Elder Thorpe
David Garabay
Christian Garabay
Gracy Garabay
Jennifer Garabay
Sister Maxfield

Sister Peterson

May 23, 2016

From Mom:

Guess who I went with to the Cardston Temple? Sis. Cindy Garbutt, who recently moved here from Dartmouth. She had never seen it and I thought we should remedy that. In my long email that I'm going to send you for next p-day, I'll tell you all about it. :)
I love you! The Gospel is true. Remember we pray for you every day.

Love, 

Mom

From Josh

This week was pretty good, still got lost a lot, but have been settling into the area well.

This week has been a blur and honestly I have hardly any clue what happened to it, one day we were shopping for P-day and the next we were going to church and trying to get investigators there. It has been really crazy. 

I do not have much to say, I hope you all are having a good week and I am really glad that you are all well. 

Something that has recently bothered me are three words people most often say at the door, "I am comfortable" I am comfortable with my religion, I am comfortable with my understanding of the Bible, I am comfortable where I am at in life. These things make me so sad, and I hope that nobody in The Church of Jesus Christ ever settles into that "I am comfortable" mind set, we should never feel comfortable, we should always be seeking to expand our views increase our testimonies, strengthen our conversion, Captain Moroni in a time of peace was not content with being comfortable, he built up fortifications and battlements and forts and defenses relentlessly, he was not content with sitting back and saying all is well, as he did so should we, at a time when we are not going through any specific trials, when life is good, we should never slacken our efforts to build ourselves up, we should never forget to study the scriptures, we should never forget to pray, we are always changing for better or for worse, there is no "comfortable" so when you find yourself getting comfortable with where your testimony is at, then that should immediately tell you that you need to be acting. In the words of Jeffrey R Holland, "Salvation was never easy" and in the words of the prophet Thomas S Monson "Choose the harder right" It is not easy to be part of Christs church so don't ever get comfortable.

A couple Highlights of this week:

I am in the Saugus 3rd ward and this lady walked up to me from the 2nd ward and we started talking and she said that she came from the Redd family, and I remember hearing that name, and asked her if she was related to Guinevere Redd and she decided to look it up, I found out yesterday that she is my second cousin twice removed and that she is second cousins to Grandma Smith, It is a small world

we also had the chance to be in the Home of Jon Heder who acted Napolian Dynamite. He is really cool and I don't know If I will ever watch Napolian Dynamite the same. 

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Having wings for District meeting!

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May 16, 2016

From Dad:

Hi Josh,

This is my first letter since the phone call and so I want to reflect on what a wonderful experience it was. I'm still kicking myself for not figuring out ahead of time how to record it. Those were priceless moments and memories we'll have to make sure and record in our journals at the least. I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. I could tell that Sam and Ben were loving seeing their big brother again. I'm not sure you know what a powerful influence you have on them and what a positive impact it is on their lives to lead the way into the mission field.

I was especially struck by your own conversion story as you went through the crucible of doubt and came out with a refined testimony on the other side. I could certainly sense the struggle at the time but of course no one can be converted for us. Thank you for the powerful testimony you bore and for your choice to believe. It will have repercussions for generations to come. We love hearing the details of the people you meet, your companions and the little details of your mission.

I think we might have mentioned on the call that we dug up the front yard. Included a few pics for your viewing pleasure. Ben was a trooper and helped me all day long to cut out and haul the sod to the dump. Also captured a pic of Tutti Frutti for Sam's birthday. He managed to fill up a $17 yogurt! 

A couple of months ago Tyler mentioned to me that he was reading a book called "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". I was interested and so I picked up the audio CDs from the library and have been listening to it. It is quite fascinating and pretty deep, but one section in particular really got me thinking. The book is essentially the story of a father and son on a motorcycle trip across the country and the thoughts the father has and shares along the way. One thought he discusses is the idea of "gumption". It is kind of an old fashioned word but he defines it like this: "A person filled with gumption doesn't sit around dissipating and stewing about things. He's at the front of the train of his own awareness, watching to see what's up the track and meeting it when it comes." It is a similar word to "enthusiasm". I was reminded of it last night in our Stake priesthood meeting when we watched the Mormon message called "Strive", another great word. The next thing he discusses in the book is what he calls gumption traps and states, " the thing that must be monitored at all times and preserved before anything else is the gumption". I think over the next few letters I might share with you some of the gumption traps he discusses as I think they are very relevant to our ability to be successful and happy. If we can learn to push through the struggles and setbacks and keep our "gumption" and enthusiasm high, we can accomplish most anything. I think it is part of the formula for opening ourselves up to the help of the Lord as he is most interested in us becoming like him and as we do, he magnifies those efforts.

There, I've given my speech for the week :) One of the pictures I've attached shows one of our YM activities where the priests and the deacons built a "Monkey" rope bridge. The kids had a great time on it and Sam was the 5x winner of the challenge to knock everyone else off.

Life carries on and we love it. Full of experiences and setbacks that we get to conquer. We are excited that we got our development permit on Friday. That allows us to move ahead with ordering the house and doing a bunch of things to get the building permit in place which will open up the whole flood gate of things to do to actually build it!

Exciting times, Elder Smith, both at home and in California. Hope and pray that you will be filled with gumption this week! 

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Love,

Dad.

From Josh

Wow! the yard looks great! and I am so excited to be able to come home and see everything that has changed.

Updates!! 

I am with a new companion in the Saugus 3rd ward, his name is Elder Thorpe, we both got together and are whitewashing an area, which means that we are going in blindfolded, we replaced sister in this area and have been lost every single day so far this week, we do not have a GPS and are relying on a map for guidance, it has been such and adventure and it is really so much fun, Elder Thorpe and I get along really well which has made this transfer super great so far, we are co-district leaders together and have had such a great time teaching and going out and working together, I am in a ward full of people that are really friendly to missionaries and they have given us food every day so far, our dinner calender is full and everything is great, the problem with having such a great connection with my companion is that we will talk a lot, and will often get to bed late, so I have recommitted myself to being on time for everything like studies and bed and knocking.

I have set a goal, I am trying to get out of my shell more, I realized that I have the habit of really wishing I could talk to someone but then second guessing myself until I miss the chance to have a good conversation with someone that could have influenced their lives, so I have dedicated myself to talk to people even if its awkward, especially when it is awkward, so that I could learn to come out of myself, I read this talk that said that we are always changing no matter what we do or how we do things, even if we are doing nothing we are changing, and you can either change for the better or change for the worse, so I choose to change for the better. I am going to talk to people I choose to act before i start second guessing myself, so I can be a more social person. I have also been learning about being bold and challenging people to do things that will benifit them. 
I challenge you all to break out of your shell, when your passing someone at work and feel you should talk to them don't let doubt pull you back, talk to them. if you feel like you should knock on your neighbors door before that doubt sets in knock and say hi. Put yourself in those awkward situations so that you can teach yourself how to act when your are called upon to do that, walking out of school from seminary, talk to someone, after activities talk to someone you wouldn't usually talk to, invite that girl you like on a date "Sam" (not to single anyone out Sam) at Acro you can speak to someone in your class that is shy, the time is now that you must step out of your shell. So do it, Act,, become who you need to be. No more excuses. 

I love you all, and will be expecting a report next week Sam, go on dates! 

Me and Elder Wilson doing crafts and me giving service I lost my favorite tag as you can see.

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To All:

Oh my goodness! So much has happened in this week and I only have 4 minutes.

I have a new companion, His name is Elder Thorpe from Ogden Utah, he is a pretty neat guy and is really outgoing, I am in Saugus California and am doing a whitewash of the area, which means we replaced two missionaries by coming in here, so we are both new, we both don't know what we are doing and are both doing great! we are loving the challenge and are working hard to progress the Lords work in this area, It is hard but rewarding, I know this is such an important thing for me to be doing and am excited to get out of my shell and talk to more people.

As a goal I have chosen to talk to more people, and that can be awkward and I second guess myself a lot, but I am going to put myself in those situations to be better, because you are either changing for the better or for the worse. 

Love you all