Tuesday, July 12, 2016

June 12, 2016

From: Dad

Hi Josh,

Sorry I didn't get a letter off to you last week. Good thing  you have two parents who can keep you updated and remind you how much we love and pray for you.

Your last letter sounded a little discouraged. Hope you are having a better week this week. I remember those kind of weeks. Missions are like life microcosms. Full of intense ups and downs and everything in between. I could sense behind your words faith and hope for better weeks and that is the key. Remember the words of the temple ceremony, and that In fact that is the purpose of life to learn by our own experience the good from the bad. Opposition, and the choice to work through it with faith is what changes and shapes us into heavenly beings.

The last couple of weeks have been busy and good. This week-end we made good progress on the yard. We rented a bobcat and trailer and dug out our front yard hills and started prepping for some paving stone and sod. I had two good learning experiences doing this.

First Experience: The skid steer I rented wasn't a bobcat but a John Deer and it was one of those hand controlled versions. No foot pedals. All controlled from the hands. It was a fundamental paradigm shift and initially it caused me huge frustrations. The left had is a joystick that  controls direction. The right hand controls the bucket. Forward=down, Backward=up, Right=Tilt down, Left=Tilt up. As you can imagine, my muscle memory of how to run a skid-steer was completely contrary to this and I spent the first 2 hours bouncing around and unfortunately remembering some of the curse words I heard daily in high school. I finally had the whole family clear out of the yard for fear of killing someone by accident. 

Eventually, though, after repenting for swearing,I started to learn it and by the end I was able to do a decent job of spreading the yard. I'm always intrigued and amazed at the potential of the human soul and the power the Lord has given us to learn and grow and become. Even in little things we see manifest the creative and trans-formative power the Lord has endowed us with.

Second Experience: While loading the dump trailer I rented, I was a bit over-eager on the second load. Because the dump had closed for the night, I loaded it up for the morning with lots of dirt and clay. It was Friday night and Sam came home from work on the sod crew and needed a ride out to the Days for a Venturer bike trip. Since our van is in the shop getting inspected, I didn't have a good way to take Sam and his bike. So I decided to take the truck and loaded trailer out with Sams bike in the back and dump the dirt at the acreage. As I got in the truck I noticed the gas was below quarter tank but figured I would have enough. The load was heavy and it took a little longer than normal to get to the Day's acreage. It was about 8:30 pm when I dropped Sam off. Then I headed to the acreage, noticing that the gas gage was near the empty mark. Still not worried. 

I took the trailer to the back NE corner but when I tried to dump it, the hydraulic lift was not strong enough for the amount of material in the trailer! Shoot! I was without a shovel even. Somewhat desperate, I tried to use my hands to take the top layer off, but no luck. As I pondered my options, I thought of my new neighbour, Nick Charest, who bought Milner's house. Was he home, I wondered. Fortunately, I had made his acquaintance a few weeks back and had his phone number. I texted him and providently he was home! He offered to bring his little tractor by and a shovel. He was able to take some big scoops out of the trailer with the tractor and soon I was able to dump it. What a relief. 

As I thought about the experience, a couple of impressions came to mind. One, there are so many good people around us. All trying to make a go of it and I was very touched by his cheerful service. The second impression I had was how powerful relationships are and when we cultivate them, they turn to our good. Especially our relationship with the Lord who was definitely watching out for me that night.

Last week, as Mom mentioned, I was in California on a business trip in San Ramon. I actually looked up the distance and route to your mission (you're 6 hours south of where I was at :) ).

We also had a great Pre-Trek fireside. about 180 kids showed up and I was so proud of Sam for his role on the committee. He presented twice, once with his testimony about the experience of Trek, and then as he led the group through how to pack for Trek. He was fearless and funny and Ben said he reminded him of you with your sense of humor and poise. He's growing up and will soon be out testifying like you on a  mission. Mom and I were commenting the other day how we are both happy and sad to see our family grow up. You are all amazing.

Speaking of amazing, we went to watch Abby's Acro-dance performance last night at the Maclab theatre. She did amazing and is so flexible. At the end they were giving out a few select awards and I had a strong premonition that Abby would get an award even though this is her first year and she is one among many. but the feeling persisted and sure enough she was recognized as showing the most potential as a dancer and received a $400 scholarship for dance next year! 

Mom and I are so blessed as promised by my patriarchal blessing which states: 

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So, my son, I hope you know how much the Lord is aware of you and wants you to grow, learn, change and develop important lasting relationships in your service. As you serve the people of California, build relationships and love them first, then help them find conversion through the power of the Holy Ghost. I'm so proud of you and think you are amazing and courageous. I love to see the spiritual maturity and fire in your letters. Keep it up!

Love you lots,

Dad.

Ps. Today was Jacobs farewell and Seminary Grad. Ava gave a fantastic talk at Grad. Super passionate. Both she and Bailey are prepping for mission. 

Pss attaching some random pics from the week. 

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From: Mom

Hi, Sweetie.
I just wanted to tell you a quick experience I had this week.

Leduc was hit with a surreal storm on Saturday afternoon. We knew it was coming because the county was under a severe thunderstorm watch. Honestly, I wasn't too worried when I went out for my afternoon run because although overcast, there was hardly any rain and no wind and sometimes those "watches" aren't very accurate.
I ran for about 2 km with perfect running weather; not too hot, not too cold but I was struggling to catch my breath for some reason and I was getting a stitch in my side, which isn't normal. I also had a headache so it was a bit of a half-hearted effort. I was actually a little relieved when Sue called, so I could stop and talk to her. We chatted for a few minutes when suddenly I was hit with a blast of wind and a wall of rain. I quickly hung up and started running home. At this point, I was right beside Telford Lake, 2.5 km away from home.
I put my hood up and started putting all my effort into pumping my legs. Actually, I kind of enjoy running in the rain. Once a person gets wet enough, it's just plain fun. The wetness cools you down, it's ridiculously child-like and satisfying to run through puddles, etc. So I wasn't too worried, UNTIL the thunder and lightening started.
Boom! Crash! The sky was a light show. I started wondering what it was like to get struck by lightening and if I could survive it. People were honking at me. I ran faster.
Then, the hail started. Those little buggers hurt! I felt like I was getting shot in the face. I really couldn't see very far ahead, it was coming down so hard and the hail was bouncing at my feet and filling the sidewalk. I envisioned getting struck by lightening, falling in the ditch and dying of hypothermia as the temperature dropped. Ha! I ran faster.

Guess what? Thinking back, I wasn't really aware of the stitch in my side or my headache or my out-of-breathness. And it was the fastest 2.5 km I ever ran. I think I did it in 11 minutes. A record.
Apparently there was some damage in Leduc from the storm. Trees felled. Some flooding. They're trying to determine if a tornado touched down. And you know what? I was right in the middle of it.

It made me think about the storms of life. Fill in the blank with whatever you're struggling with right now. Sometimes the only solution is to move your feet; put your head down and go. A principle of the Gospel is movement.

Just. Don't. Stop.

Before I knew it, I was home. Ironically the storm ended just as I turned up the alley. It left as quickly as it came. As I was warming up, I was thinking about how hard the run was when I had a stitch in my side and how quickly I forgot it when a real challenge came up. Lol!
It's all good, my boy. I think I'll end with a quote by C.S. Lewis:
"Experience, that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God, do you learn."

So, it's all learning, Josh. Valuable learning. Rejoice in that. 😃

Love you forever,
Mom

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From:Josh

That is a crazy experience mom, and it reminds me of a scripture I have been pondering, it is Ether 12:27 it holds a ton of meaning, I like it because it is saying that when we come unto Christ its not a safe haven, in fact it is when we turn to him that he shows us how weak we are, basically we are given all our weaknesses on a platter and shown how insignificant we are, and he says his purpose for it, "I give unto men weakness that they may become humble" Humility is truly a gift from God, and is the strongest attribute one can possess, when you are humble you learn quicker, you understand and seek to understand, you make friends easier, you can feel the Holy Ghost easier and are more willing to do the things that will make not only others happier but will give you an abundance of joy that nothing else can give. It is when we are humble that we can enjoy the fruit of the tree of life more, we are slower to anger and quicker to kindness.

In Alma 27:17-18 it tells how Ammon fainted with joy, and verse 18 says, "which happiness come only to the truly penitent and humble seekers of happiness"
Something I heard that clarified humility for me was this. " humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less"
So my invitation to the world would be to be humble, Pride is the root of all evil, so the root of all good must be humility. Humility is not weakness, it is  strength. "then will I make weak things become strong unto them"

This past month has been a trial for me and I have been shown a lot of the weak things about me, I have come to know that I am still really hesitant a speaker, and I am not very confident in taking action, and I know that as I turn my will to the Lord he will make these weaknesses become strength, and the fact that we go through hard times is because we are being tried and humbled, every trial we go through is meant for us to grow, to learn and to be humble.

I had a cool experience just yesterday, we were knocking doors and not having much success, it was overcast (which is very rare in California) and we were all tired and not very motivated, the last door we knocked on we heard a dog barking and saw a man through the door window come down the stairs and grab the dog and leave, discouraged because when that happens it usually meant they aren't going to answer the door, so we started walking away, but I still clung to the hope that he would come down, so I continued to look back as we were walking away and though the window I saw him coming back so I turned and walked right back just in time to extend my hand and say "Hi I am Elder Smith a missionary from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" he responded that his name was Edie and though our conversation we found he had never talked to missionaries, he wasn't really religious but believed in a higher power, we were able to teach him the first discussion testify of its truth and give him a Book of Mormon and a pamphlet to read and pray about, we closed with a prayer and set a date to come back Friday, so we will see what happens.

I am grateful for this work and I know that this truly is the work of God, I love you all and hope the week goes well.

Josh

Sorry these are old pictures, I have to mooch off other peoples cameras from now on, I am looking for a new one and will see how fast that goes.
:)

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