Monday, January 9, 2017

January 3, 2017

From Mom:

Dear Josh,

There is a nice message on your Facebook page from Jennifer Garibay that says, "Our family misses you!! We hope you are doing well on your mission. We hope to see you soon. May this new year bring you peace, joy and many, many blessings. You are doing an awesome job!! Happy New Year!!!" 

I can't remember if we told you but the Garibays contacted Dad and told him how thankful they were for you. They said you greatly impacted their lives with your spiritual maturity. It made us feel pretty good! And made us realize that you are where you need to be. So, you probably know better than us, but it seems that your 2016 was filled with some joyful moments. I like reflecting on the past year and recording those moments, knowing that there are more to come in the upcoming year. 

When I think about our 2016, it was pretty spectacular... a son on a mission (remember your New Year's call saying you finally made it to the Halifax Mission?), a trip to Utah and Sweden, witnessing my parents on their mission in Lithuania, building a new house and moving... Wow! So many changes for us BUT you know what the true highlight of the year was for me? And when I say highlight, I mean HIGHLIGHT. 

It was witnessing my brother Steven in the temple getting all of his temple covenants restored and being sealed to his family, and by default reconnecting his sealing to us and my mom and dad. It was so powerful, Josh. I felt "something new" that day that cemented my testimony of temple ordinances. I was sitting in the sealing room with the double mirrors, looking at my brothers and their wives. Mom and Dad were still on their mission, so I felt like I was the boss by default. I arrived early to help dress the kids in their white clothes, then went up to the sealing room to wait. Steve and Taylie came in with their temple clothes on and knelt across the altar from each other. As the Temple Sealer said the words of the covenant, I felt a shock run through my body as if "something" was returned to me that I didn't even know was lost. It was Steven. I didn't realize that he was a missing part of our family for a long time, ever since his excommunication years ago. When the covenant was restored to him, it was a very tangible feeling of completeness. I couldn't believe how tangible it felt. Mom and Dad told me afterwards that they felt it in Lithuania. Mom spent the day in tears.


And I adore seeing Steven now. He is so much more himself, if you know what I mean. His countenance is joyful and his testimony is stronger than ever. He's helped me to realize and know better than ever that this Gospel is designed to bring us joy in this life and family is central to that joy. 

On the first day of 2016, we went to church in Sparwood and the discussion in Sunday School was about the purpose of fear and trembling. Lol! Mark, Steve, David, Dad, Grandpa, Grandma and Kurri all made profound and important remarks. I had a moment of wonder that my entire family was strong in the Gospel and that we strengthen each other. A big epiphany came to me about the importance of feeling humble, that the Lord is clear about the consequences of sin so we will fear a little and hopefully it brings us to humility and NOT depression, anxiety or feelings of failure. Mark clarified and said those depressive feelings do not come from God, so we shouldn't give in to them. Enter the Atonement. I love the Saviour and all He did for me, for you and for all mankind. We still have to go through hard things but we can do it confidently and peacefully. I'm so grateful for the Atonement. What a great way to start a new year.



I'm also grateful for you, too, Elder Smith. So much. Your mission is blessing us, you know. It's blessing you but that blessing extends to us. Thank you for serving the Lord. It is the best work of all.


Anyway...

We arrived home last night from our yearly Christmas pilgrimage. The Smiths rented a lodge in the foothills where we all had our own rooms. It was near Payne Lake so we could skate, icefish, roast marshmallows, toboggan or whatever. We played board games and did puzzles. It was fun.


The Bruce's mashed in to Gma and Gpa's house and I've never heard so many crying babies in my life. It was the loudest chaos yet. Despite all that, we still had fun. The Uncles are as crazy as they've ever been. I was impressed with David, who made everyone homemade jam. We skated at the rink, went to the church to blow off some steam, swam at the pool, did Chinese Christmas and all the regular stuff. I loved it, but I'm glad to be home. 


2017 will be all about finishing this Wizard Lake house (garage, deck, eavestroughs), putting in a garden, and sticking around home. There is a lot to do but we are really enjoying it. We've only been here a month but Ben said, "Our new house if beginning to feel like home. It has a comfortable feeling." We're excited for you to see it in a year. Hopefully we'll have everything done by then. I'm not really looking forward to spring, which will reveal a sea of mud with our house in the middle. But, oh well. We'll face it with fortitude. We rented our Leduc house to some nice people. It's a little weird to own it but not own it at the same time. 

To close, it is really important to me that you know how much we love you. Stephanie prayed that you "would feel our love for you across the distance." Dad and I are so very proud. "Proud" is a weird word to use but mostly we are so happy/relieved/peaceful/joyful that you have embraced a relationship with the Divine and seek to do his will. It's a bit of a dichotomy to be a believer in God and also function in the world we live in. The two are so completely opposite from each other but embracing Divinity brings a peace that the other cannot even fathom. We love you. Keep moving and praying and acknowledging all those tender mercies. 



Love forever,


Mom (and Dad)

From Josh:

Oh man, I miss you all a ton and a half, I love seeing so many amazing pictures of so many people I love and adore, I can't wait to join the fun next year... well I can, and I will, but I look to the future excited while living in a wonderful journey. 
There was something said about being a missionary that I heard, "do you know what sucks? being a missionary...do you know what the best thing in the world is? being a missionary" and it is true to an extent, being a missionary is physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally taxing, everything you do is so hard and at times disappointing and depressing. I have been discouraged, overwhelmed, yelled at, hated, chased by a dog, felt alone, hurt, exhausted, looked down upon. I have had all these things happen, and so has every other missionary. but on the flip side I have been uplifted, built, strengthened, born powerful testimony, felt the spirit so strong I have nearly fallen, joy so profound that I couldn't help but dance, and sing to the whole world hymns of praise and exaltation, i have been lifted up in moments of despair and grief, been given strength when I have none left. It all is such a roller coaster of emotions and experiences and there is nothing I would rather be doing now then this, I have grown attaches to the highs of service, a most rewarding and uplifting feeling that is so worth all the time I spent. 

A year still seems like forever, but when I look back at all that I did last year it all goes by so fast and everyday I have been trying to appreciate more and more, I know that in no time it will all be over never again to happen in this way at this time. What a thought. 

As for much updates in the smaller spectrum, I have really been zeroing in on losing weight, I have gotten protein and healthy stuff galore... and I don't know how those healthy people do it, it sucks to subject yourself to a diet, I just can't do it, so I only buy healthy stuff so that I am forced into being healthy, so far I have lost five pounds! and I am super happy... we shall see how long it lasts. 
Other then that, our investigators won't meet with us. Sam and Ben you will feel such frustrations as well... unless you go to mexico or the Philippines then you will experience different problems but rest assured we will all face some trials that will be hard for us. 

Well another week another set of trials, a new year with more chances for opportunities, many things will change and many will stay the same, love will abound as it always does, error will appear, truth will be present for the finding, hate may be strong but can be overcome, temptations beset the unaware and weary alike, to stay strong in the storm seek the kingdom of God, read the words of the prophets, pray to him who gave us life, serve one another and never stop believing in miracles.

quote of the day
"True commitment is what you do after the feeling is gone" so whatever goals you set this year remember that the feeling of excitement and determination will fade to nothing if you don't keep stoking the flame and in those times when it does disappear then keep on.
Remember to have Faith, believe in something greater then yourself
Repent, change your behavior, attitude, thoughts, feelings and desires to become more like Jesus Christ
Keep your covenants that you have made, commit then recommit and live to your full potential as sons and daughters of God.
Follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost, learn to give and receive help from others divine and mortal help is all around us.
and most important, Endure to the End, when the going gets tough, the tough get going, or get to work. This church is a church of sacrifice and work. "Put your shoulder to the wheel" hymn #252 
"A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things does not have the power to develop the faith sufficient to save" ~Joseph Smith
These are they who cannot enter into the kingdom of God those who murder, steal... and are not Valiant in the Testimony which they have of Christ. 

So be Valiant, love truth, continually seek after the well being of others, look unto the light of the atonement and never turn from that which you know is true, Pray to God when you have doubts, he will always, always answer your prayers in ways you may not expect, in his own time. "trust in the Lord with all thy heart and lean not to thine own understandings, In all ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your path" Proverbs 3:5-6

I love you all so much and can feel your love daily. 

Josh

P.S
The other day we got bashed by a Jewish rabbi a direct descendant of Aaron, he told us that what we believed is wrong, and spent 10 minutes telling us how evil we were, the spirit of contention entered into my heart so I chose not to confront him on anything too much, I asked though, why they don't do sacrifices, I learned that it is because they are waiting for a temple at Jerusalem, it was never rebuilt after the Romans destroyed it in 70 AD, and I have also heard that they are awaiting a prophet to tell them and direct them as to how to build it. all in all it was an interesting encounter, remember never to bash people on your missions, you cannot teach unless you have the spirit.

Me in a Christmas chair!



From Mom:

Some more pictures you might like:







Dec 25, 2016 - Christmas Skype Call



Highlight of Christmas, hands down. He said, "Serving a mission is the hardest thing I have ever done," but he looked so happy, so full of life and so much more like himself than I've ever seen him. He also said, "The trial of my faith has taught me that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true. All of it." 

From Dad

Hi Josh,

We LOVED talking to you yesterday! You look fantastic and I'm thrilled by the strength and conviction I feel when you bear your testimony. Thank you for that strength and example.

We had a really fun Christmas Sunday. Because church was at 10 and Steph had to be at the airport at 9 am, we decided to start a bit early which was of course totally fine with the little girls. Stephanie decided to have a sleep over in the girls room and it was a good thing as the girls had a bit of a hard time sleeping (go figure :) ). Mom and I were pretty prepared this year and had the presents all wrapped and ready to go the day before. So it was fun to let Steph and Sam do some Christmas elf errands to pick up surprise presents from the Patrick's place (e.g. a Big teddy bear for the girls and you Mom went and got me a nice compressor I had no idea about).

About 5:30 we could hear the girls squeals as they came out to get their stockings and saw the big teddy bear. By 6 am Mom and I were enjoying the delighted voices by the tree and decided to join the fun. This year the kids helped to distribute the gifts. Sam especially has developed a knack for leadership and led the charge making sure everyone got equal chances to open gifts. It was super fun to have Stephanie there to add to the squeals and excitement. We really enjoyed her 10 days here with us.

After the gifts, we decided to keep the Christmas breakfast tradition and whipped up some crepes and sausages. Yum!

After breakfast we donned our Sunday best, including dollar store Christmas ties we found in our stockings. Then off to the airport to send Steph back to be with her sweetheart in Los Vegas where Tyler is already hanging out with James doing some climbing. They are planning a fun trip down your way for the week between Christmas and New Years.

Church was a nice 1 hour program of music and readings. Most of the family participated in a nice choir number with Ben playing the piano.The news of the day was Russell Jeffrey proposing on Christmas Eve to Sandra Rodriguez. Surprise, surprise, right?

Sunday afternoon we were relieved when our Septic contractor came to install a winter fix for our septic pump problems allowing us to actually flush our toilets again. Only Mom had to brave the outhouse this time! 

A fun afternoon making a new soup (Assiago Bisque) and then playing new family games (Sorry and Monopoly) rounded out a wonderful Christmas day.As usual, starting any new game there were a few tears and struggles, but this morning when I went in to the girls room, they were playing monopoly!

Today, we take up the 3rd year tradition of spending Grandma and Grandpa's $50 each. Last year as we sat around the table at the food court we kept wondering who wasn't back from shopping only to realize it was you we were missing. I think we'll feel the same this year :)

Hope you have a wonderful 2nd year. Be a good example to your companion and help him endure to the end. It is the Lord's errand, so spend your time wisely.

I'm going to try and share a mission experience every letter, so I'll share that and close.

I recall working in the La Chine area in heart of Montreal. Some of your descriptions of Van Nuys reminded me of that area. Tons of immigrants and lots of walk up subsidized housing. It was in La Chine that I learned the power of street contacting. Coming from the south shore of Montreal where it was mostly residential and we drove a car, taking the bus and metro and being surrounded by people all the time was a whole new world (this was my second area). Very quickly I had to get comfortable talking to as many people as possible. I carried around a small notepad for names and numbers and it wasn't uncommon to come home at the end of the day with 5-10 numbers which we recorded in our area book. The next morning we would often spend up to 2 hours just calling people and trying to fill up our blue planners (Not sure if you have run into these planners hanging around anywhere in your apartments, but these preceded your little white planners. They folded up just right to fit in a shirt pocket.  Although I didn't spent too long in this area, my favorite memory was teaching an apartment of 5 phillipino ladies. They were so ready to hear the message and despite a few concerns they embraced the gospel ideas readily. I was privileged to be part of teaching 2 of the ladies, Virginia and Marina. They asked me to baptize them except that I got transferred to Thetford mines the Wednesday before. Still was an amazing experience. 

Everything your doing is making a difference. Keep up the great work.

Dad. 


From Josh:

Hey everyone! I wasn't able to write yesterday because the libraries were closed and so we treated yesterday as a holiday.

Anyway, first off I want to say that I loved seeing you on Sunday, every time I am always a little nervous but when I see your faces I am filled with so much joy. 

Adventures of yesterday!
We have this person who wants a children Book of Mormon and she lives all the way up this hill and we bike up every once and a while to see if she is actually hope... three times... nothing, but I am definitely losing some weight everytime I bike up it. 

This guy we talked to told us to have a great Boxing day... he is the only guy here who actually celebrates that along with Canadians. 

We had several appointments set and they all fell through so did all of our back up people, which then set me off in a grumpy mood and I didn't want to talk to anyone or anything, but I forced a smile on, and tried what I learned during the canoe trip, I sang a hymn and laughed at myself. Even though I understand how it feels Sam, sometimes you don't want to cheer up. 

My bike fell apart a little a link in my chain got twisted a little so it was skipping gears a lot, and so we bent it back into place and I don't know how good that was for the bike but I hope it holds up until at least the end of the mission. 

I love you all so much and I learned that when you are apart for a while you even get shy around family, but I love how quickly at ease we were, even for the length that we have been apart, I think that is how it will be like when we get to heaven when we see Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ again, then we will be surprised how familiar we are, and depending on how we lived our lives here, we will be filled with joy and consolation at his presence and will be glad to enter the work and the glory waiting for us. So may we be valiant in the testimony we have of ourselves. 

I am grateful for all of you and hope all is well. 

Love you,

Josh

December 18, 2016 - Well Family....

From Mom: Skype Call
Dear Josh,

Yes, it's true what they say.... If you have a missionary son, the best thing about Christmas is that phone call. Do you know how we arrange that?

Steph is here until Christmas morning, at which point we will bring her to the airport where she will fly to Las Vegas to be with Tyler for Christmas Day. He couldn't come because of his work schedule. (Booooo.) Then one hour church  from 10-11. We'll be home no later than 12:30 depending on how long we visit with people, which is 11:30 a.m. your time. So anytime after that. Let us know what we need to do. 

We just finished a two week long cold snap. The car died and everything froze. It ended today and it's only 0C, so we took advantage and went for a walk this morning and explored that abandoned house on the other side of our property.  Sam saw us trudging through the field and put on some hot water for us, so the girls had a tea party.

We returned home with rosy cheeks and a cheerful view of life. Funny how fresh air does that. 


Sam has discovered a new recipe of Turtle Cookies, which he is slowly becoming locally famous for... kind of like what happened with his Oreo cheesecakes.

He got laid off Dec 1 and is enjoying free time. He drives to seminary, bakes, does service (he spent two days at the de Vries' helping Monika dejunk her basement. Btw, Alex is engaged to be married in March to Brooke Scully.) We love having Sam around again. Starting in Jan, it will be crunch time with ACT/SAT/GED study. 

Ben is sick, sick, sick. I think his body just broke down with his crazy schedule. Most days he is at the school from 7-7. He is in choir, made the Junior Varsity Basketball team and so far is getting straight A's. But then he crashed and ended up missing a basketball tournament. He also opted out of the Christmas Piano Concert this year. Ack! I don't want him to get too busy for piano, but he IS playing for the church choir on Christmas Day. We're singing a beautiful song by Sally deFord called As Shepherds Kept Their Lonely Vigil. 

The girls are the same as always, but when they were doing the gingerbread village this year, I heard Abby say, "Mine is the daycare." What? Where do they get these things? There was also a church, a sugar shop, an A-frame cabin, a naturalpathic clinic, a kooky old man's house and a house where I lived. Steph said it was a complex community. Lol!


We're finally semi settled and trying to keep up Christmas traditions in a new house. We have a care package for you but I am sad to say it will have to be a New Year's Package. I don't feel too terrible about it though because I know of at least two packages that are coming your way and should be there by Christmas. I really love this time of year though. We had a big dinner party here last night with three missionaries, Ebony, Chance and his girlfriend and kids, Kenneth and Karlton McKenney. Par-Tay! But the real reason for the invite is because it's the four year anniversary of Wendy Frank's passing. It's a hard time for them. Also, Kenny needed a good visit with Steph. I hope they all walked away feeling lighter and happier. 


The older I get the more the Gospel fills me up and gives meaning and purpose to my life. People need it and are unconsciously looking for it, so I am glad my boy is out there trying to share and invite. I heard a missionary quote that says, "You cannot force someone to comprehend a message they are not ready to receive. Still, you must not underestimate the power of planting a seed." So, based on your last few emails, I can see that you are reaping where others have sown and sowing where others will reap. It is a good work and a blessed work and it will be counted to you for righteousness. Keep on, my son. 

I am VERY excited to see you and talk to you in a week. I love you forever.

Mom








From Josh:

Oh boy this week... its been quite a trip, I have officially been out for a year now and I feel I have already changes so much, things are going well, at the beginning of the month I wan not smart and spent a lot of my Missionary support fund on crazy food, and now I am carefully budgeting my money to make it through the month... It is funny looking back at my previous mentality, when I first came out I looked upon those who had been out a year and thought I could never make it to that point, that it was forever away and that it would take so long, now that I am here I realize it flashes by, I also would look upon other missionaries apparel and think how much of it was in disrepair, I look upon myself in the mirror and realize that my shoes are old and worn, my shirts are fraying, my socks are getting holes, my pants are falling apart, with all that I see I realize that what we have in this life is so temporary, people put so much value on clothes and cars and money but the clothes will get old, cars will break down, and money will lose its value. what matters most in this life is the love we share, the patience we develop, the relationships we create, this isn't about you or me but about us and who we can and will be as long as we live righteously. 

This week we also got to go to work at a place called Operations Gratitude, I worked there a lot when I was in Chatsworth but now don't get much opportunity to do it now I am in another zone we packed and prepared packages for soldiers fighting wars in support of their sacrifice for their country. I love service, it is truly along the path of finding happiness in this life and the life to come. Nowhere is it found that we can obtain full happiness consistently in this life, but we can definitely pursue it, and I have found that true happiness comes from service, family and a firm belief in God and a hope in mankind, as long as we put our trust in God, he will Guide us to those things that will make us happy and I believe that as we serve God he is waiting to send packages of his love and blessings to us. Christmas is a perfect time to do that, looking for opportunities to serve and help others in any way that we can.  

So many times on my mission I have been saddened by people who have a strong belief in God but are unwilling to live up to their potential, the other day someone told me that they weren't allowed to have the Book of Mormon in their home because they were Christian... and that was kind of wierd to me since it is another testament of Jesus Christ, why wouldn't anyone want to learn more? in some religions people set restrictions on people so that they are limited in their views and knowledge, but I love this church and I love how we are allowed to ask questions we are allowed to pursue knowledge in every aspect, we are allowed to learn of other religions and build our sights higher, this is a rich and lovely amazing Gospel, i love it with all my heart and I am grateful for a father in heaven who answers my prayers. I went through such a hard time at the beginning of my mission that toppled my testimony but because of that I was able to grow and build it much stronger, Sam and Ben, you will face extremely hard Trials on your mission, and it is different for all who serve, but as long as you put faith in the promise of James, and "Ask God" He truly gives to all men liberally and abundantly as long as we ask with a pure intent. listen to the Whispering of the Spirit, delve into the Scriptures, pray with all the energy of your soul, ask for advice from those who have life experience, never stop seeking for knowledge and trust in God, he will Provide. 

I love you all, remain strong in the testimony that you do have in Christ and my we all move forward together.

Josh


P.S I will have access to a computer at 1 california time, so 2 your time, and depending on the shifts we have with other missionaries, it may be pushed back to 2 California, and 3 your time... you have access to skype? if so what should I look up to get to you? 

December 11, 2016 - Let yourself be happier

From Dad:

Hi Josh,

Today Russell Jeffrey reported his mission to Idaho. He spoke really well and from the heart as always. He was very frank about having had some health challenges (mostly anxiety and such) that in the end resulted in him coming home a couple of months early. His testimony and remarks were solid and on the mark and I really felt the spirit as he testified of God’s love manifested in the restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith and the power of the Book of Mormon in helping us find answers.

Wes Prince, a Stake High counsellor also spoke and reminded us of a talk given by Elder Uchtdorf in the October 2012 conference called “Of Regrets and Resolutions”. In it he discusses the 3 big regrets people tend to have at the end of their life. It made me wonder if these can be considered in the mini-life of going on a mission? I hope as you embark on the last year of your mission that you will serve and live so that you can avoid these regrets.

1.       “I Wish I Had Spent More Time with the People I Love” – Remember it is the relationships that you build and help your investigators and new members build with members of the Church that is so important. More important than the numbers
2.       “I Wish I had Lived Up to My Potential” – Live each day on your mission with purpose and work with the Lord to leverage your strengths and overcome your weaknesses (Ether 12:27)
3.       I Wish I Had Let Myself Be Happier” – This is the one that struck me the most. I hope that amidst the stress and challenge of a mission that you will let yourself enjoy the moments and not just work to be done. These are Elder Uchtdorf’s words in that regard:

“Sometimes in life we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey. I don’t go cycling with my wife because I’m excited about finishing. I go because the experience of being with her is sweet and enjoyable.
Doesn’t it seem foolish to spoil sweet and joyful experiences because we are constantly anticipating the moment when they will end?”
We are very grateful for so many things. It is an adjustment to live further out in the country, but we are ever so grateful for the miracles and experiences that have resulted and that we anticipate will continue.
I also heard that Isabeau gave her mission farewell this Sunday in Camrose and heads to Australia this week. Exciting for her!
Finally, also on the missionary front, Ava Driessen got her mission call to the, wait for it, “Canada Montreal Mission”! Totally excited for her. I’m thinking you must have been a good influence what with all these girls you dated as they are all going on missions!
Today I had a YM presidency meeting and felt a bit overwhelmed. I’ve not been able to really focus too well on YM’s for a couple of months building this house, so now I’m feeling the promptings to make it a higher priority. Problem is that things can go downhill fast in 2 months and need to bolster my presidency. Good thing we can repent and start to do better.
This week I was looking for something to listen to on the long(er) drive into work. I found a free audio book called “The Science of Getting Rich” and found a cool quote that I think is true:
“There is a thinking stuff from which all things are made, and which in its original state, permeates, penetrates, and fills the interspaces of the universe. A thought, in this substance, produces the thing that is imaged by the thought. Man can form things in his thought, and, by impressing his thought upon formless substance, can cause the thing he thinks about to be created.”

Made me thing about some of the cool verses in the D&C:


Doctrine and Covenants 93:29

29 Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.

 

Doctrine and Covenants 131:7

7 There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes;

·         Doctrine and Covenants 130:20

20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated

·         Doctrine and Covenants 130:21

21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

I certainly love the gospel in all its breadth and the opportunity to study it deeply. I’m thankful for the burning testimony you bear to us every letter. Happy 1 year mark. Enjoy the journey, reach for your potential and love the people and experiences you have with them.
Love forever,
Dad.
From Josh:
My Goodness it has been a crazy week, white washing an area is stressful and fun at the same time, I love the Sherman oaks ward... and guess what? Casey Clyde is in my ward, the guy who acted Elder Rodgers in the best two years, he acts exactly the same as he does in the movies too. We are currently in an apartment with our district leader, and it is a blast, I love being a missionary and everything just seems to be going great!

This week I was able to attend a baptism of someone I had taught in Saugus who didn't seem that interested but other missionaries helped him to see the importance of the Gospel after I left and I was able to see him enter the Waters of baptism, we also found and taught his family as well and they will be getting baptized on the 30 of December, when I first heard about this my heart and soul were filled with so much love and praise to God that I could not stop myself from singing to the world so on the way home I belted out "praise to the Lord" the problem was I didn't know all the words so about halfway through it fizzled out so I had to figure out a hymn of praise that I knew and then sang that all the way home. Rest assured I looked up "Praise to the Lord" after i got home determined to learn it so I could actually sing it the next time I get excited. 

Things I have learned on my mission is to speak what is on my mind with more firmness, often now when I don't like something I make sure to tell someone, when I want to invite a baptism commitment I will do it, I am not very good at standing up for my opinion but I am working on expressing myself more fully and boldly so that I don't mumble or anything... though a lot of what I do I feel must come from the spirit. 
I learned something interesting the other day, In 'Preach my Gospel' it states that to increase your desire to share the gospel you must first strengthen your understanding of the atonement, in order to maintain an eternal perspective and to know why the atonement is necessary you must first understand the Fall and the reason thereof. So I invite all of you to partake in the blessings of understanding by increasing your knowledge of the Fall its purpose, the atonement and the purpose of it, and then increase your love for the Gospel so you can share it with any and every willing mind. Be an example to the nation and i guess #LightTheWorld if you are not already doing the challenge on Mormon.org then I would strongly exhort you to do so now and start making the world a better place.

This week we were able to share the Christmas video with a few Muslims and they loved it but we talked to this one Muslim that told us that he had studies 185 different religions and he respected us and told us that he also respected Jesus, I learned that Islam people believe everything about Jesus Christ, that his virgin birth, his miracles, and his life, but that he is not the son of God, we boldly testified that he was the Son of God and we gave him a copy of The Book of Mormon and invited him to read it, he said he would and we left. The Book of Mormon is the convincing witness of the Gospel, it is another testament of Jesus Christ with it in your hand you can boldly proclaim the truth of all we believe, always keep a copy with you to study and give to those who may want to know of the truth of the Gospel, learn and love the Gospel, develop a personal relationship with God and honestly seek the truth.

Love 

Josh

Picture at the baptism of Josh Mai he is standing to the right of the kid in the white, everyone in suits are all the missionaries that were involved in his teaching.