Sunday, November 6, 2016

October 24, 2016

From Mom:

Dear Elder Smith,

I'm sure you have the same problem as me. Sometimes, when I look back on the week, I can't remember what I did or how I spent my time, only that it seemed I was extremely busy doing something important. I think it's time to start writing in my journal again. I do really well with journal writing in the winter when we stay inside, and that time is fast approaching. I think I told you we had a dump of snow Thanksgiving weekend (Oct 8). I was positive winter was here to stay but Mother Nature is full of tricks and it actually melted and dried up! (Probably in time for the next snowfall. lol!) We are grateful for it since the construction site of our house was a muddy apocalypse. All those big tires sinking down and chewing up the meadow (which is now our front yard). Does it seem weird that you will be coming home to a different house? Abby is worried about it.

So, yes, our time (and especially our brain space) is tied up with getting the Leduc house ready for rental and the Wizard Lake house ready for an inspector to come and deem it worthy for occupation. Mix in our regular life with those two worries and you have a mother that feels like her head is about to explode. So, I think I will tell you what a godsend it is to be served by angels disguised as humans. You will be very proud of me, as asking for and receiving help seems to be a difficult thing.

Angel #1) Paula White. She has taken it upon herself to cook me a giant hunk of meat every week. She drives from Edmonton with a fully cooked ham/roast/chicken early the week so we can eat it with whatever we can add to it. Usually her contribution stretches over the course of a few meals. It's helped tremendously as you know, cooking is the first thing to go when I'm stressed. (We've been eating a lot of cereal and pb&j lately.)

Angel #2) My mother. She came for a week after Thanksgiving and got right to work helping me dejunk and to start painting. We cleaned the entire garage (and I won't even try to explain the mouse infestation. Ugh. I almost died of gross) and painted the back entrance and the girls room. Her and grandpa are coming this week to help some more (like fixing your bedroom ceiling where the pipes froze a few years back). Angels, I tell you. They are saving me and my sanity.

Angel #3: My visiting teacher, Diana. She came to me and said, "what is the best way I can help you during this time?" Honestly, it just feels good when someone cares enough to ask. She's also bringing us food. Do you see a theme here?

Angel #4: Your father. He is the best of men; doesn't ever give up, even in the height of stress. And he's very patient with me all the time without one critical word.

I know that more angels will be made manifest over the course of the next six weeks. As for you, you can send us your faith-filled prayers. We need those, too.

I went for my first ever parent/teacher interviews last week regarding Ben and high-school. The first teacher (English), Ms. Peacock (isn't that a great name?) walked directly to me with her hand outstretched and big smile on her face as I entered the room, "I am SO glad you came! I wanted to meet the parent who raised such an extraordinary child."

Um. Okay?

Apparently, Ben is, and I quote from Ms. Peacock (I had to type that name one more time...) and three other teachers (English, P.E. Career and Life Management, and Math).

"A breath of fresh air."
"A delight."
"More mature than all his peers."
"A leader."
"I would have never known he was homeschooled." (Funny, right?)
"Personable."
"Curious."
"On an entirely different level."

So, basically, I went from room to room hearing teachers praise Ben's name. It was a good day for a Mom. As I walked away, I considered how honestly extraordinary you all are (Abby and Mia are still under construction). Extraordinary. Valiant. Strong. Self-confidant. Humble. I wish I could take all the credit for Steph, you, Sam and Ben, but I know you all really just came to me that way. You are MY teachers now. And the funny thing? It took public educators to open my eyes to the fact.

Humble pie. I am eating it.

Sam is still working everyday and we're waiting for that happy day when he is laid off, but also hoping he can work longer to save up. You know the dance. He went in and asked Jack for a raise, which Sam received because you know what a hard worker he is.

Abby and Mia are still the same as always, although Abby is shooting up. She will be in Young Women's in January, if you can believe that. (I can't.)

And life goes on.

I was thinking this morning how much I adore the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we could be reminded every day of his transcendent sacrifice, like, REALLY feel it in our heart, it would affect every aspect of existence, guide our every action and bring peace in every moment. I haven't reached that point yet, but I would like to get there eventually.

Keep on, my boy. A worthier fight there never was.

I love you forever,

Mom


P.S. A few pics of the house, which is all I ever used my phone for last week. That is your dad climbing in the front door. 








From: Joshua

Another week, I must agree it flies by, its hard to believe that I have been out for almost a year, and its even harder to believe that am nearly coming home in another year at that, it goes by so fast that I can't keep track of it, and you are right the only thing I have to remember it is my journal. I wish I wrote in my journal more often then I did, but now is the time to change that, so my advice to Sam and Ben and Abby and Mia is write in your journal! find the best way for you and do it. 

this week has been crazy we were packed all day every day with back to back appointments which is hard when you are on bike because you have to peddle like nuts to get to your appointment and even then it takes 10 minutes to get there, so my thighs are starting to get bigger and bigger, so when I get home I will have thunder thighs and will have to get new pants... even now I put my wallet in my bag because my pocket is too tight now... the wonders of a bike. 

There are a lot of things that can be discouraging as a missionary, a lot of our investigators went from progressing towards baptism to all of a sudden not being interested in learning the Gospel, which really saddens me. The other day we had a crazy encounter with an middle eastern man who was catholic, he gave us a book called reasons to be a catholic, which was weird, but after reading a little bit of it I determined that I like being Mormon, this church is a life style not a class we go to. I know that the Gospel has been restored and that Joseph Smith was a prophet, I have heard nearly every piece of anti that there is and have come to the point where it only strengthens my testimony when I hear it because I have learned from the spirit that this is true and my foundation has been built, may we all build our testimonies so that our foundations are set never to be moved, you will hear a ton of anti through your life, you will see people you love turn away from the Gospel but we are called to be elect of God and we will never turn away, may we grow our humility and our love, may we reach out to those who are struggling and help all we can. There was something I read recently that said "others should be able to see your commitment to Jesus Christ through your example..." which is hard because your character has to be such a one that you reflect all aspect of Christlike attributes. We all need to dedicate ourselves to this cause and never look back. Follow the council of the Prophets because they know what they say and they too are committed to Christ, and in bringing you closer. 

Elder Orchard is getting transferred to a different zone and I will be taking over the area which is a bit nerve racking but I asked the Lord for trials to shape me so I am looking forward to aligning my will with Gods because when I do that I am filled with confidence and love for all people.

I love you all 

Joshua


Me and Elder Orchard weekly planning
 

Tracting


More weekly planning


Sewer pipe graffiti



street art (If you look closely they use everything from pennies to mother boards)


From Dad via Grandpa Smith:

Thanks Dad for the weekly emails. It is a great way to stay connected and use the internet for good!

I think in many ways we are finding joy in the journey of building this house. I don’t think that it would be true joy if it didn’t come with stress and challenge as per the fall of Adam. We’ve had some of that, but also many moments of excitement and anticipation. This last Thursday, Ben and Abby and I went out to lay down insulation and wire in the basement in anticipation of the in floor heating pipes and were sure thankful when we ended up having Sam come out after a full day’s work to help. Sam is a builder and doer. He jumped right in and did most of the cutting around footings etc and we wouldn’t have finished that night without him. Abby and Ben placed insulation, and mostly tied wire sheets together. Finally finished at 11 pm, tired but triumphant!


Basement Insulation Crew

 
In floor heating, here we come!


We also had some moments this week where we were totally wondering if we’d offended the world as we saw work on the home grind to a standstill while contractors argued over the foundation walls and how to fix them, came home Saturday to a flooded basement (and eventually replaced the HW tank), picked up the van from the dealership with a hefty repair bill, and saw our washer stop full load and not turn on again.


Sam and Ben mopping up the flood


But guess what? Life didn’t end, the repairs got made, some money miracles occurred and things are back on track this week! Life is a proving ground for us to learn to trust the Lord that’s for sure!

This week I had the chance to teach Priest Quorum and ended up only having 5 or so minutes due to an ordination as well as some planning conversation. I had completed the Christlike Attributes survey in Preach My Gospel and enjoyed the opportunity to see opportunities for improvement. The 3 areas I identified for myself were:

1.       I trust the Savior enough to accept His will and do whatever He asks.
2.   I find joy in others’ achievements. (Alma 17:2–4)
3.   I set goals and plan regularly. (D&C 88:119)

I’m grateful we have a lifetime and more to develop Christ like Attributes and I have gained a testimony of the joy and peace that comes as I do.

We are grateful for our growing family. Steph is enjoying the stress of applying for grants and carrying a full course load, Tyler is pondering his future career with this current company vs future prospects and rock climbing to relieve stress, Sam thought he was finished work after it snowed but we’ve been granted a grace period where things are thankfully drying up a bit, Ben is doing well in public school and looking forward to basketball tryouts, Jen is handling the stress of the budget and trying to pack up our house and fix it up for renting, and I’m trying to keep the bills payed, coach Ben’s struggling community basketball team and coordinate contractors etc. Busy but great and certainly worth it!

Love you all. BTW, how is Demond doing? Do you know when he may be let out?

Have a great week!

Chad.

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