Tuesday, July 12, 2016

July 5, 2016

Jul 5
Dear Josh,

How was your Fourth of July? I really loved getting a random picture of you from a stranger. She tells me I raised a very good man, and I believe her. 😊
She also tells me she is always giving you groceries. I can see what you mean about trying to keep the pounds off! Lol!
There are a few things you can do to help with that.
1) Don't eat anything after 6 p.m. At that point anything you eat will go straight to fat as you slow down and rest for the night.
2) Take smaller portions of meat and carbs (bread, rice, potatoes) if you can at meals but load up on veggies. You can't eat too many of those.
3) Drink lots of water, which I assume you are doing already due to the heat, but especially in the morning when you wake up. This gets your metabolism kick started and reduces sugar cravings.
4) Reduce or eliminate sugar. OR, eat your sugar earlier in the day. Sugar goes straight to fat, especially at rest.
5) Eat something small every two hours. I know, I know, but if you have a few snacks in your pack like veggies, fruit or cheese cubes (maybe they would melt? I don't know) but the idea of eating a snack every two hours boosts your metabolism, levels out blood sugars and keeps a person from loading up at supper.
Once a Mom, always a Mom. 😉 And I love you, so get used to advice. Lol!

It's been very busy lately, but a good kind of busy so I'm not complaining. Cody and Benson spent last week hanging out with us. We did ask the usual stuff: geocaching, going to the river, buying junk food and gaming, me making them work doing house chores and gardening. Haha. The encouraging thing for me was they were willing to participate in family prayer and scripture study. Benson kept asking if he could say the prayer. And Cody read when it was his turn. They're good kids and respectful.
Then Mark and Shannon and family showed up for traditional Canada Day stuff. We ran the Canada Day Road Race, saw the parade (the adults were mostly entertained by a guy who showed up and moved a barricade and changed the parade route, 😆), went to the river, had a fire, watched the fireworks, etc.) Brin is 2 years old now and she was carrying around our little red book of The Call of the Wild. I said, "Brinny, what book do you have?" And she said in her little voice, "Jesus Christ." Hahaha. I suppose it could have looked like scripture with its gold edges pages. Their children are all adorable. The best highlight (for me) about Canada Day was accidentally walking past the Civic Centre (old library) during a formal flag raising. Six Mounties stood at attention and as they raised the flag, the speaker prayed that "we, as a nation, would proceed with love and acceptance with Divine assistance." A chill ran up my spine with a conviction of the love I have for Canada and for the good people all around us.

But THIS was the busy highlight of the week. Saturday morning, July 2, I woke up early to bring the Ames boys home to Red Deer, then I continued on to Cardston where Steve and Taylie were sealed together with their children for time and all eternity in the temple. Seeing them all in their whites was something to behold. It's actually quite difficult to describe my feelings ... like something I didn't know was lost was restored, like something clicked into place that I didn't know was out of joint, or like the last piece of the puzzle was found and I didn't even know the puzzle was incomplete. It was relief and joy and family love all together. My testimony was strengthened by a leap and a bound regarding the value of covenants. 

Families ARE central to the Plan of Salvation. I knew that already, but now I know it even better.

Afterwards I asked Steven how he was feeling and the short answer is mostly deep and abiding gratitude for the Atonement. He said he felt like the leper who was restored to health or the blind man who was given his sight back. Because I love my brother, I also felt gratitude for the Saviour for restoring him back to us and also for Steven for choosing to do so. Best. Day. Ever.

Also, we put in a new paving stone patio in the front. It looks so good. We spent all of FHE finishing it. Even Sam, who worked an 11 hour day, came home and helped for 2 hours. The girls hauled bricks, Ben tamped, Dad rented equipment and made it happen. We all worked together and got 'er done.

In other news, we're excited you get to train! What is your new companion's name? And where is he from?

Regardless of the insecurities you feel, I am confident that you're proceeding with humility and grace and doing better than you think. Don't worry, you'll hit your stride soon. We pray for you every prayer, so you DO have that extra help. 😉 If anything else, KEEP MOVING. Elder Peterson, who is currently serving in our ward, shared a story in testimony meeting. He said about a month ago all their appointments for the entire day cancelled in a 5 minute period and they were discouraged. In desperation, they got in their car and started driving, just to do SOMETHING. They drove past a house with a SOLD sign in the front and he had a thought to go ask the people if they needed help moving. He second guessed himself because it's a random thing to do, but it was better than doing nothing so they did it. They came to find out that these older people were calling to churches and community groups for help moving with no luck. Through the service the missionaries provided this couple is now taking the discussions. Elder Peterson said, "The Spirit is so gentle." So keep moving and follow the goods thoughts that pop into your brain.

We love you so much, Elder Smith. You are where you need to be, and you are doing a great work. Watch for those miracles and tender mercies which abound and reassure us we are on the right path. Life is good. God is good. 

There are so many things to celebrate.

Love forever,
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From Dad:

Hi Josh,

So sorry we didn't write last week. We were just coming home from our trip to Utah and missed the chance. No excuse, just didn't do it. Repenting now :)

Thanks for writing to us about your experience as a trainer. The Lord certainly trusts you and I'm sure it is getting better over time. That's how the Lord changes us, he stretches us. 

We had a fantastic trip to Utah. We spent some quality and fun time with Steph and Tyler in Provo and Salt Lake and finished off with some adventure in Zion's national park with Dave Crowther doing some mountain climbing and canyoneering (similar to what you and Mom did with him and Shelly last time you guys went down there). It was really fun. My favorite part was watching Abby and Ben rappel for the first time. There is so much power in doing hard things, conquering our fears. It brings confidence. As you work through this challenge of training a new missionary so early in your mission, you will grow and gain confidence so much more than if you hadn't had the opportunity.


One of the trips we did in Zion's park was to climb a mountain called "Angel's Landing". It is a very steep, and somewhat treacherous trail that requires chains to make it up the last half. I have a love/hate relationship with hikes like that. I love the challenge and the feeling when I conquer it, but I hate the clenching feeling of being up so high with such a close proximity of tragedy, especially when I'm watching my kids do it. This time I was very proud of all our kids. Abby and Mia were brave and fearless and much more relaxed than I was. They've got some of their Mom's genes in them.  I wasn't as nervous for them as I thought I would be. In the end the view was amazing and the feeling of accomplishment wonderful. Lots of analogies to life.


Today I'm teaching the YM and the topic for July is Ordinances and Covenants. I'm sure we talked about this before, but I love the analogy of rock climbing or rappelling when it comes to this topic. The analogy of anchor points along our journey (ordinances) that we can choose to clip into (making covenants) to help us safely navigate treacherous journeys is powerful to me. As we rappelled down various sections of Keyhole canyon, I thought too, how even though we have clipped into an ordinance and consciously chosen to do that by covenant, we are still the one holding the rope and deciding when to move forward by letting the rope slide (service, good works, priesthood duty) and when to brake by pulling the rope back (before temptation). Ordinances and covenants give us  that choice.


Celebrating Canada day reminded us again of the wonderful country we live in and the amazing opportunity to be free to choose our path and destiny. We enjoyed having Mark and Shannon and their kids over again (it's becoming a tradition). Mark, Mom and Shannon did the 5K race and we watched the Leduc parade and went to the spray park. 

We are making good progress on the yard, and hope to have most of it done by the time we head to Sweden. Focusing on the paving stone landing off the step right now. 


We had the opportunity to stop in on the way home from Utah and visit with Grandma and Grandpa Smith. We were excited to help them with the railings on the new deck they just built on the garage side of their house. Grandpa was pretty tired as he just had surgery on his bladder and they found another tumor after that they may have to go in again and get out. Keep praying for him.

Trek is only 1.5 weeks away and final preparations are almost done. Nervous but excited to pull it off. Such a great experience for the youth to have.

Lately I've been pondering a lot about the concept of the balance between the current moment and the future self. The idea that we often sacrifice future happiness and goals because the immediacy of the moment is hard to resist when we are trying to sacrifice current wants for future benefit. The classic example is exercise, but it can be applied to overcoming pornography, achieving goals, doing home teaching and building family relationships, etc.. I read a really interesting article about staying in the moment when we are struggling with these choices of now vs later and really trying to analyze why we are feeling what we are feeling and what the underlying causes and triggers are that causes us to sacrifice future good for the tempting now. Taking time to really examine ourselves in those moments instead of escaping into the easy path will help us gain self-mastery and ultimately allow us to become who we need to be. I certainly have a long way to go in this regard, but I have hope that I can inch forward and become a little better every day.

Hope that is enough pictures and some thoughts to brighten your week. We love you and are so proud of you. 

Good luck with your soul stretching opportunities. 

Love Dad.

PS. We love hearing some of the details of your experiences both personally and with the people you work with. Keep them coming. 

P.S.S. Mia keeps asking about any baptism experiences you have had. Anything to share in this area?

From: Joshua

Dad, thank you for all the pictures, It makes me feel connected and part of the family even though I am thousands of miles away.
It is so great to hear about all your marvelous adventures and I wish I could be there with you, but I know I am here to serve, and I am loving it.
It is so hard training a new missionary when I feel like I have only been out for two months myself, I am continually lost, confused and constantly drawing blanks in planning, in lessons, and in trainings, in the morning we have 1 hour of personal study, 1 hour of comp study (which I have to lead) then another hour of training (where I have to direct) and I am overwhelmed uncertain and tired... but the interesting thing is I would have it no other way, I love it so much, and I know I am growing faster then ever before, I know that God answers prayers because this is exactly what I have been praying for!
Recently we have been teaching a Reorginized Latter day Saint, and it has been challenging because of our conflicting opinions but similar beliefs, and I have been really bothered by it, its something that has taken presidence in my mind, and I have been constantly studying to understand his point of view while establishing what my view is. 

I have found in myself a drive to discover truth and if something is presented to me that I don't know about the Gospel and the church it will take over my mind until I have recieved an answer that satisfies me and there have been a lot of things that I have had to tell myself that I may never learn it till I go up to my heavenly father. 
while we were knocking doors we knocked in to some Grace Baptists, and as soon as I heard which religion they were from I had to mentally prepare myself for a full on assault on my beliefs, we were handed a couple anti-mormon Pamphletts of theirs and admonished to read and pray about it, in turn we gave them one of ours and told them to discover the truth of what we said by that same method... curiosity took over me and I read the anti pamphlet, and realized that it wasn't consistent with anything I had ever heard, the thing about it was that it relied on lies and half truths, first it enraged the reader by saying Joseph Smith said that all christian churches were wrong "and he was told that he must join none of them" and then talked about how he spread lies, then talked about the adam God theory that Brigham talked about, but failed to mention the later part of the discourse where he speaks about how he was wrong to say what he said. I remember Elder Wilson saying that there is no new anti, all of the anti that comes out will always be based on things said in the past and rely on half truths. Because it was only spoke half truths it had no foundation, and earlier in the day we had talked about how having a foundation rooted in the Gospel would keep you from the shafts and the wirlwinds of satin. Not that I am going to go search out more anti but the pamphlet I read only seemed to strengthen my conviction and testimony of the Gospel and the church, I love our method of convincing people, we never tell people they are wrong but allow them to read and pray and study to determine the truth for themselves. in all of my time spent as a missionary not one person who has tried to convince me I am false has tried to uplift me. the worlds method is to bring us down so and degrade, the truth is not degrading or hurtful, but it is joy and happiness, if we are not spreading relief, uplifting, and joyous messages how can we call it the truth... don't get me wrong, we are not a church that spreads flowers fuzzy feelings, being a member of the church, like mom said brings covenants, and Iove the analogy of clipping in, I have used it so many times (thanks dad) to illistrate making covanants with the Lord, one person I was talking to told me this about insurance, "I trust my insurance agent, even though it is a lot more expensive at least I can sleep through the night knowing that I don't have to worry about a thing." this Gospel is the truth, sure it is a lot more expensive, we have been given commandments that may seem hard to keep, the word of wisdom, law of chastity. but at least when we lie down to sleep at night we can have the full confidence that we are doing what we should. 
So my invitation to you is to center yourself on the Gospel, if you don't have a full testimony get one. Pray to be humble enough to be taught, Put your trust in the Lord, he gave his life for you, why not give your life for him.
The new missionary that I am training his name is Elder Postelnicu (Post-el-nee-koo) he lives in Pleasant Grove Utah, he is really fun to be around and we are basically learning together a lot of things. He doesn't do much at home he worked at walmart, and has never been on a date, he is 20 like me and the reason he didn't go on a mission at first was because he felt too shy to preach the Gospel.
I hope things are going well with you all and I love you so much!
Joshua Smith

Me and Elder Postelnicu on a mountain range, there was an air fire fighter station nearby so we went and got pictures next to their Helicopter. 

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