Sunday, February 5, 2017

Jan 30, 2017 - New Stuff All the Time

From Josh:

WOW this week was full of craziness, we had a zone conference with Elder Ardern of the first quorum of the seventy He told us about how a missionary needs to fit the message that he preaches, so think about how great the message of the gospel is, being a missionary we need to be a constant example of it and life it in our lives so we can be the deliverers of such a beautiful message.

Also! The missionary schedule was changed worldwide, instead of planning the night before we plan in the morning and study as companions at a time of the day that we decide, its basically changed to increase our agency so that we can be better emissaries of the Lord, also we used to track a lot of key indicators but now there is only 4, Baptized and confirmed, baptismal dates, sacrement meeting attendance and new investigators, its an adjustment but its a good thing. 

There are a lot of ups and downs in our lives especially as a missionary, at one moment you may be on a spiritual high and the next in the deepest despair, but I take comfort in Gods admonition to Joseph Smith that "all these things are for your good." 
This week has been full of adventures as I have said, we go door to door talking with people and some doors I feel so in tune with the spirit and I seem to say everything right and others I am completely bereaved of thought, I can hardly stutter out that we are missionaries. and its such a learning process to learn how to adapt to those different feelings and situations, because everyone is so different and each needs something different as well. I find that it is a combinations of the spirit and our own personal agency.

Confidence when founded on Jesus Christ is perfect, when we put our trust in the Lord he directs and guides us to places and people in which we need to touch and inspire, When Jesus stated that he is the light of the world he was inviting us to look to him for guidance, so whenever you are at a point in your life that you are confused you can find that Jesus Christ and the Gospel can be that guide and comfort.
Elder Ardern when he came had us practice teaching with descriptions, when we present The Book of Mormon we can simply teach by saying " here is The Book of Mormon it is a_______ (Guiding light, a message of peace, a vessel for greater knowledge)" and it literally is all those things, when you are confused or lost in life then turn to The Book of Mormon, it answers questions of the soul, fills an empty part of ourselves when there is something missing. and I know that it is true.

The other day we were able to come in contact with this lady who stated that she was a Jew and we would not be able to convert to our religion, she had a book of mormon and she had no questions, but she was open to answering questions about jewdaism, and had the unique opportunity of learning about someone elses religion, I asked about why there wasn't a temple in Jerusalem (because they can't have sacrifices until there is one because they are still living the law of moses) she couldn't answer... but from things I had heard and learned I was able to answer for her, it was interesting to meet someone where I knew more about their religion then them... but that isn't the point, because we took an interest in her, she thought of a ton of questions for us about what we believed, we were then able to testify and teach a lot from just questions she asked and spent over 20 minutes sharing with her about what we believed, it was a great experience. it is important to take an interest in others because that is when they open up and trust you more. 

I love you all so much, that was my week and I hope your week has been good and this next week will be even better. 


Josh

Some pictures this week! 

The second ones hair style is courtesy of the wind that day

  


Sam and Joshua Email Exchange

Sam:

Dear Josh

I was reading the Book of Mormon you sent in your christmas package and just realized you had sent a letter in the middle of it with a character drawn on the other page. I've been finding it difficult to think up a name and bio for the character. Anyway, on Friday the 20th, I decided I was wasting all my time on my Ipad and not doing anything productive, and decided to start a month media fast (ending on the 19th of February) and just today, Mom decided for the rest of the family to join me. For a week that is.

For the past week Grandma and Grandpa Bruce came over to help out with the house and basement. Slowly through the week Grandpa wired the entire basement with lights and light switches. I now have a light switch in my room and don't have to turn the light off at the bottom of the stairs on the other end of the basement. We also got Ben's room up and drywalled as well as the food storage room framed.

On the Thursday Cody and Benson came over for the weekend. I do have to admit, that while they were here I did relax a bit on my media fast. But now i'm full swing back into it. Okay, the weirdest thing happened last week after choir after church. Bro.Weeks walked in with a PS4 game in his hand. As I looked at it I realized this it was TitanFall 2.(a game that Dad wouldn't let us buy) and he said this it was to me and Ben as a belated christmas present from an unknown messenger. Who we later guessed that is was Calvin who wanted bad enough to play with us that he came to Devon to give us a game that we couldn't buy on our own. And, through Ben's convincing to Dad, we could now play it with the cousins. But, I'm on a media fast. It's ok though. I started this media fast so I won't be distracted with the world of online anything.

Last week on Tuesday I started Guitar lessons. And they're so much fun. I love learning to play guitar. My lessons are weekly so I've only had one lesson and i'm having my next one tomorrow. As time goes on, we'll see how far I go with guitar. Hopefully I go as far as I can, but we'll see.

I love you Josh with all the love my heart can give to my older brother.

Josh:

Sam! I totally met one of the developers for that game! a guy came out with a titan fall 2 shirt on and we asked about it and it turned out he was one of the main guys who worked on it throughout the game, that is so crazy, I miss you a ton Sam!

Guitar lessons eh? gonna snag a lot of girls that way you know. ;) 

Media fasts are good they help you sort out what is important, focus on studying for knowledge and looking for ways to increase your testimony, pray fervently and with real intent for the Lord to teach you the ways of the gospel, there is so many things to learn about it, and as you put your trust in the Lord he will guide you, in Romans it says that nothing can separate us from the love of God, so no matter what the obstacles in life you have to break through them and gain a firm conviction and conversion to the gospel, focus your studies on The Book of Mormon, and also read the new testament so you can study Christs life directly, as you do it will effect everything in your life, your confidence in yourself and you will be able to make decisions more clearly with a better understanding for life, don't ever give up on yourself. and never give up on the Lord. 

I love you so much Sam I look forward to the day we can see each other again and be bound in brotherly love. 

May the Love of God shine more brightly in your life

Josh

Sam:

Mom really wants me to learn BlackBird by the Beatles. I want to learn If You Could Hie To Kolob, it's one of my favorite hymns. Do you have any song suggestions?

It's funny because in seminary we're doing the New Testament. I'm loving seminary just as much as my first year.(which is alot). It saddens me to see other youth not enjoy seminary as a spiritual boost and a way to learn about the scriptures. I'm also reading the Book of Mormon at night before bed. So I'm doing the best I can with the New Testament, the Book of Mormon and Preach my Gospel study with Dad on Sundays.

Josh:

Learn some romantic love songs for those dates! ;) 

Its good that this year is new testament! it is so important to learn about the savior, and revelations contains a lot of prophesies of these days so its important to understand and learn about that. 

Also remember to learn about other religions as well, its important to understand where people are coming from as a missionary so you can better teach to their needs. 

Sam:

Makes sense. Remember the bunch of gift cards you sent us? Well, I used the prepaid Visa to buy a card game on Amazon called: Exploding Kittens.
We played it at Christmas with the cousins and uncles. Its a funny and very fun game.

I'm going to need to listen and learn all those romantic songs. Maybe I could compose my own. Who knows?

Josh:

Haha Maybe, that would be pretty cool, then I would probably steal it for any date I went on, make up words and sing some pretty sweet stuff. 

I am Glad you are putting those to good use, just make sure to have as much fun as you can. 

Sam:

Speaking of fun, I'm trying to put together a youth party at our house on Feb 17th. We'll see how that goes.

I love you Josh, I'll try to get an email to once a week.

Josh:

Just as long as you are working on being close to the Lord, remember Jesus Christ's counsel to Peter "When though art converted, strengthen your brothers" so as you grow in testimony and knowledge make sure to bring others around you along, be an example and not only an example but someone who speaks out their testimony always standing as a witness of Jesus Christ, so that those kids who don't want to go to seminary will feel the spirit working in them and in turn want to come closer to God. That is your duty Sam, to improve the lives of others in your everyday. 

Thanks for thinking of me little brother. I love you a crap ton. We are in this together to the end. 

I found the triforce by the road the other day!

 

Mom:

It's sunny but windy. We're just hanging out in the library discussing life. 





Josh:

Wow, I miss my brothers a ton! Ben is sure stylin it up in those jeans!




Jan 23, 2017 - Changes in myself

From Josh:

This past week I have noticed something that seems to have crept up on me, I used to be very uncertain... in fact my whole mission i struggled with feeling confident in myself and my ability, but lately I have been noticing a greater confidence, and I think it is coming from a couple sources, I always feel more confident in myself when I: 

  • Study the Scriptures
  • Listen to uplifting music
  • Keep myself focused.


I have also been really focused on making decisions and sticking with them, I didn't apply this for a long time and have been pretty indecisive, I guess that is what I learned from my last companion, to be blunt and bold. It is much appreciated. 

My new companions name is Elder Nelson, and he acts a lot like my trainer, it is really funny, he is very particular about a lot of things, loves Pokemon, and star wars he hates talking but still tries pretty hard to do so, he is well organized and very particular about where things go and what happens to things. its an adventure, the area I am in has a focus on Less actives, we have literally 45 people average attendance with 350 on the ward list, its crazy how many people fall away, the stake conference last month the seventy who came said it was the most sparsely attended conference he had ever been to, only 300 people showed up. So its interesting to work with less actives, the stake has come up with a new approach to home teaching called pop ins where you can count home teaching even if you just knock on the door. interesting concept but they hope to improve attendance through it. So he are working on that front more then ever, and it is interesting to see people who used to have such a testimony turn away and to find our by what reason they did so. 

...when I got to the apartment the first day I realized something really quick, there was no toilet paper anywhere... so for this whole week I have been very careful not to poop at the apartment, its an interesting contrast... I hope to at least be rich enough for toilet paper when i live on my own, interesting what you will learn on your mission. 

Today while I was studying I came across something that really stood out to me, and that is the statement "happiness is dependent upon righteous conduct" so in order to be trulls happy in this life we much live in such a way that happiness can be achieved, that led me to a study about opposition and progression, we are all called to grow in this life and are meant to go forward continually with faith that God will help us, every decision we make on a daily basis changes us for better or worse, so we much learn to make correct decisions that will help us to achieve our eternal potential. 

I love you all so much


Josh

From Jen:

I love it that you see changes in yourself, Josh. And isn't that really the purpose of life? Progress?

Never doubt for a minute that you are doing a great work! It really all matters, every single little effort, invitation, door knock, testimony shared. It will give an opportunity to the other person of course, but it will change you, little by little and drop by drop....

Grandma and Grandpa Bruce are coming this week to wire the basement. Sam and Ben will be happy to have lights with a switch in their bedroom! Lol. The world right now is a winter wonderland and the most beautiful. I feel like Heavenly Father painted the world for us to remind us he loves us.

And I love you!

Mom 


From Dad:

Hi Josh,

It's been a longer week for me as I ended up in Albany, NY on a business trip. It was a good trip from a work point of view but I certainly miss the family when I'm gone. I listened to a lot of conference talks, watched a lot of basketball, and got caught up on movies on the plane. Lots of cool architecture in Albany. 

  

I've been reading a fascinating book called the Washington Hypothesis. It is by an LDS author who studied the life of George Washington looking for how he fits into the Lords plan for the restoration of the gospel. Specifically he looks for clues that Washington understood the Book of Mormon covenant for the American continent. It is fascinating and I've gained a renewed appreciation for the way he trusted and acknowledged the Lord in the battle for the freedoms of this land that would be the place of the restoration of temples where we can make personal covenants of salvation. 

Tonight we had a bishops youth fireside at Bishop Lambert's. Mom and I got to be part of a question and answer panel where the youth had submitted anonymous questions and we did our best to answer. It went really well and we had about 28 youth cozied up together in their basement. Since Abby turns 12 this week she got to come too! Hard to believe she's already 12!

This week Grandma and grandpa Bruce are coming up for a visit and to help is do more work on the house. They are a blessing to us. 

How are the people you are teaching doing? Anyone close to baptism we can pray for? Good luck in a new area. 

I've probably shared the story of Hugues and Jardine before but I'll share part of their story again with you. We first met Hugues in Laval Quebec and began teaching him. We often had trouble connecting up with him both due to his work schedule and because of his Haitian layered back concept of time. We would often have to wait 15-20 min for him to show up. The one memorable time was when we came running up late and said that he was locked out of his house and we helped him break in through the second floor window. 

The part that sticks out to me in his conversion story was when we came to teach him and he had been praying about baptism. He had prayed for an answer the night before and had them opened the Book of Mormon straight to Alma 30:41 and read that all things denote that there is a God. He felt his prayer was answered and was shortly baptized followed by his wife a few months later. This is the family that we found again and live in Calgary. It was an amazing experience then and even more special experience to find them again faithful in the gospel and having their son come on a mission to Edmonton. 

I waited to late to send this so I'll send it for next week. 

Love Dad. 

📖 Monthly Quote:

"Leadership is communicating to another person their worth and potential  so clearly they are inspired to see it in themselves. " - Stephen Covey

Jan 17, 2017 - New Stuff All Around

From Josh:

New Companion: Elder Nelson
New Area: Tarzana San fernando
New Stake: Canoga Park
New Assignment: Car area
New Apartment: Unknown at the moment


Transfers were today and I am super new to the area I am a little sad to leave such a great ward as Sherman Oaks but i know it is the Lords will,  back to my old Zone fun stuff, I am still trying to figure things out, I am new but not uncertain, something I feel like I learned most in Sherman Oaks was to bear testimony at every opportunity, there was so many times that bashers and trouble makers tried to disprove us but bearing testimony of the truth of the thing in which they were so apposed was the best way to make them wonder about what we believed, and even though they didn't  necessarily change their minds because of it they knew for a fact that I believed it with all my heart and that they could too if they were willing to discover the truth of it, I found out the importance of studying to strengthen the testimony that I have. a few days ago we picked up someone who wasn't interested at all just by bearing testimony of every thing we taught, when I asked her why she wanted to learn more about the church, she said, "I can see the conviction and passion you have when you talk about it and I want to know more" So at every opportunity whether a missionary or not, first gain a testimony that is unshakable, then bear it with all the passion that you have felt in learning it, if you don't enjoy learning about it then you won't enjoy telling others about it, so learn to love learning the gospel and never give up on your studies. 
Another experience the other day was we knocked into this guy who grew up jehovah's witness but got out of it and said it was a cult, then turned to us and said that we were a cult too, and in order to get out of it we had to find something to doubt then dive into it, basically magnify the doubt until it is so big that it blots out the truth you have learned, and he is right, that is exactly how you can get out of believing this church is true, and that is to ignore the truth of it. As you do this you will lose your testimony, lose a connection with the divine, and in the end, end up like him an anti-theist someone who isn't even atheist but abolishes any kind of religion or form of belief, I related that to marriage as an example, when you marry someone it is out of pure love for that one person, or some aspect of them, then you can choose to pursue it and focus on the wonderful love and everything you love about the person, and let that over power you to love the person unconditionally, or you can find a flaw or doubt and dive into it like he said and then end up in a divorce with ends up hurting the other individual and all others around it and involved with it. So in the end I choose to follow Elder Uchtdorfs council to doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. As you do so a greater light and knowledge will be added unto you, and that is a promise

To answer Mom's Question in a recent letter from december 4 about Luke 14:25-34 I would think that he is forcefully drilling in a point to rely wholeheartedly on being a disciple of the Lord, in a way I forsook my family to come here, leaving you behind so I could focus fully on my calling from the Lord. it does not mean I will abandon you forever, but I must be willing to move past hardships that may be facing us at home and focus on blessing the lives of others, it may be hard to say but if one of us died, then there would be a brief mourning period but we would still have a desire to and have to move past that fact and dedicate ourselves to the work, with the hope that one day we will be reunited, we will live together forever, as we all dedicate ourselves to the lord

I love you all so much, see you in another 11 months.


Josh

From Mom:

Just hanging out until Ben's basketball practice starts. We are on a tight budget so I told Mia we would go to A&W and spend on whatever she found in my purse. She found $14 in change. What?

Dad is in Albany, New York on business. Sam is at home, and we're here.

Mom and Josh Conversation:


Josh: 

A few random pictures 

  

Mom:

I think I told you already but there is a package coming for you. There is $200 USD for you to buy some new pants... 

LOVE YOU!

Josh:

haha I got it! thanks so much Mom, I really loved all the letters and what everyone wrote, I loved the Canadian chocolate everyone flipped out and loved it so much. 

Mom:

So glad! Yay! You got it sooner than I thought! 



Jan 8, 2017 - A whole New Year - Bring on 2017

From Dad:

Hi Josh,

What is it about a new year that brings a sense of renewal and a desire to start fresh and set and commit to finish those same goals we probably set and broke last year! This year is going to be different by golly!

When I pause and reflect on 2016, though, I have to say that in so many ways we achieved far more than I ever imagined and we did and accomplished things I didn’t even set goals for!

This Christmas was bounteous to say the least, especially considering being in our new home.

One of the things that has been on my mind a lot is considering how we can take the miracle of being here and having this land and find ways to use it to bless the lives of others. It is really causing me to look for ways to make our land and home a place where others will want to come and be uplifted and helped when here.

One somewhat silly example of how this thought affects us is demonstrated in this little experience we had on our way home New Years on Sparwood.


After spending some wonderful time with my family at the Payne Lake Lodge, we committed to Auntie Liz and Uncle Jeff and their family to stop by their place on our way home to see their new place and visit. We are very excited for their new home being built. For Christmas they got an air hockey table and we enjoyed playing that with them. The next day at work, I was curious how much an Air Hockey table would be on Kijiji, so I scouted around. Turns out I found someone looking to sell one for $150 that day! When I got home, I talked to Jen about it and she convinced me that we should buy it on the premise that we want our home to be a place of gathering and fun. So we did it! Crazy, eh!.



This week’s house project has been the building of the library shelves. Mom got some great ideas from Pinterest and we were able, with the help of Sam and the kids to build some Ikea shelves on our library wall and make a wonderful floor to ceiling bookshelf. It is super exciting to start putting books in and it is just another tender mercy of seeing some of our dreams come true!


One of my favorite gifts this Christmas was the book “The Washington Hypothesis”. It is a second book by this author that discusses the powerful impact that Abraham Lincoln and George Washington had on preparing the way for the restoration of the gospel and temple covenants by restoring the National Book of Mormon Covenant (Keep the commandments and prosper else be destroyed). One insight that really struck me was the discussion of why if this is the promised land with a covenant of prosperity based on righteous living do so many righteous people including members and non-members sometime struggle economically? The suggestion in this book is that there is a difference between the promise of the promise land based on the general righteousness of the people vs. the individual covenants we make with the Lord. The National covenant means that everyone will have the freedom to make individual covenants and that there will be general prosperity to help protect and grow the restored gospel and church. Individually, we will undergo the necessary trials to help us spiritually become like God and sometimes that may mean economic struggles. It has caused me to think a lot about covenants and again about how we can covenant this land we now live on to the building up of the kingdom of God.

This week we had a fun YM activity down at the lake below the Patrick’s. Bro. Patrick cleared a spot on the lake and we had spotlights set up for a good old Canadian shinny hockey game. We had a bonfire going and had about 5 people on each team. I was pretty sore when it was done, but it was great fun.


I suggested in my last letter that I would like to share some of my mission experiences with you.

One of the most treasured experiences of my mission came right at the end. I have probably shared this experience before, but here it is:

It was the end of a long day of tracting and missionary work and we were on our way home for the day. I was serving in Ottawa and my companion was Elder Weckesser. As we left the last apartment we were tracting in, a pretty Haitian lady was climbing the stairs as we descended. I felt the prompting to GQ her and she couldn’t talk then but gave us her name and number. Her name was Catherine Chery.  As we began to teach her she felt the spirit and came to both English and French church with us. On the 3rd discussion she struggled to understand the need for 1 true church and the importance of prophets and apostles. We invited her to kneel with us and we took turns praying. This is what I wrote in my journal. “After the prayer we stayed on our knees, heads bowed and felt the spirit burn within us. She felt it strongly and could hardly talk. We told her it wsa the spirit of the Lord testifying to her that what we were telling her is true. The spirit stayed strong as we finished the discussion”.  I also recall that while we were kneeling the phone rang and she waited for a few rings, quickly stood up answered and told them she was busy and knelt down again, not wanting to lose the feelings of the spirit.

After some wonderful teaching experiences and some fasting and prayer, Catherine was my last baptism of my mission the Sunday before I left. Here is the Journal entry from that day:


We surely enjoyed seeing and talking with you and we love to hear your experiences.

Have a great and productive week. Seek and teach by the spirit.

Love Dad.

From Josh:

My how time flies, I have been with my companion Elder Blodgett for almost three months now and transfers are next week, I have a feeling I will be moving but that will be confirmed next week, I have to say though that I hope I don't, this ward is really fun to be around, lots of amazing people and great adventures already, Sherman Oaks has a range of landscapes.


But I really don't know if I would live here or not, this land is the land of the movie business, and its prices are prices for really rich people. Example:


But I love it out here nonetheless, 

The other day we were knocking down this back street and it was getting dark, we knocked on this one door and this big black guy opened up, he didn't look happy, this guy had to be nearly a foot taller then both of us, and his arms were as thick as tree trunks, he told us that he wasn't religious and I nearly had to choke out the words I spoke, but luckily the spirit came in and we asked if we could share a message with him and his family, he told us to make it short, and so we started in on the restoration, he didn't look really receptive pretty much the whole time but we used short simple statements and testified of each one being unified in purpose we switched off and the words seemed to flow from our mouths so beautifully and finally we told him about the Book of Mormon how it is the witness of all we talked about, he stopped us and said he had a question, I was preparing myself to answer his question through the scriptures when he asked something I didn't expect "where can I buy a copy of that book?" I was taken aback for a couple seconds, luckily my companion jumped in and said that we would give him a copy for free for him to find out what was true. I asked him if he was an honest seeker of truth and he told us only when the truth presented itself to be found, and I boldly testified that this was that very moment that the truth was right in front of him and he was getting access to it now. when I said that his hardened face broke into a smile not a smile of humor but of joy and of sincere happiness, he accepted a copy of The Book of Mormon and a date to come back next week and teach his family these things. I know that the Spirit truly comes at the very hour we need it as long as we treasure up in our hearts those things that will benefit the lives of others. 

Honestly being a missionary is wonderful, but it can be hard sometimes, you need to have an abiding trust in God a hope that things will turn out for the good in your life and the lives of others. When you can learn to maintain an eternal perspective you will be able to see trials for what they are, opportunities to learn and grow, experiences meant for your benifit, I really love the knowledge we have of the plan of salvation, that when we know we can be together forever, death becomes simply a momentary parting where we can have a hope to see each other again. So when you experience hardship in life remember to always take it as it is a learning experience.

I love you all so much!

Joshua  


Our district at Buffalo Wild Wings, two elders did what is called the blazing challenge where you have to eat 12 wings in six minutes with their hottest sauce...

Another weekly planning photo... 



From Mom:


I love your experience of meeting the tree trunk man! It goes to show that you never can tell from the outside. The Lord looks on the heart. I wish I could do that. :)

Time is going to go really fast now, Josh. Make it matter!

Love,
Mom

P.S. You have two packages on the way. One from us (I like calling it your New Year's package) and one from Kurri and the rest of the family.

Josh Reply:

Haha I couldn't do it either, it was literally the spirit because all I was thinking about was trying not to pee myself. 

Yay, I am excited for the packages! I love you so much! 

Mom Reply:

Currently...
(Ben is at school, Dad is at work.)


Josh Reply:

NOOOOOOO! Puffed wheat squares my only weakness!! 

Mom Reply:

Do you think they'll last three weeks in the mail? If you like them rock hard, we could give it a shot! Lol!