Monday, March 13, 2017

March 6, 2017 - Live from Italy

Dad:

Hi Josh,

Mom and I are in full Vacation mode as we've been wandering around Venice for the last two days and loving it. We saw lots of sights but talked ourselves out of taking a Gondola ride till today. Then I thought of the times I decided not to take in a historic experience (e.g. Like in Sam Francisco when I chose not to go to Alcatraz) and we bit the bullet and took a €80 gondola ride for 1/2 hour. 


Sometimes we have to decide what our money is for. Over the years we've chosen to use it more for experiences vs Stuff when we can. In the end I'm glad we did it. 

I also really loved the leaning tower of Pisa!!


As you can see I got there just in time to keep it from falling over :)

It's been an amazing week in Florence. I've been mostly in training but I had the chance to meet some great people and do some fun stuff, like making my own pizza :)


Mom and I both had dreams of you coming home early this week. Hoping they are only dreams! We are so proud of you for sticking through the hard times!

Inevitably on a holiday, Mom and I end up taking about our relationship and how we can make it better. We find that we go through cycles where we are in synch and feeling in harmony and then cycle to feeling tense and cranky. I suspect you have some of this with companions. We decided to take some time regularly to use a practice we do at my work to give each other feedback using "continue" and "consider" vocabulary. 

E.g. 

"Dear JoshContinue to share your testimony and scriptural insights in your letters home. Also, Consider sharing some of the smaller day to day moments, good and bad, as well :). "

We will see how it goes. Relationships  are the most important thing we have but also the hardest to maintain and balance. I think that's why marriage and family is so essential to salvation as it allows is to be refined and learn patience and sacrifice. 

We are just waiting for the train to Rome. We have been using Air BnB for our reservations and have loved it so far. We have a nice one set up in Rome again tonight for 3 nights. It is right beside the Roman Coliseum. 

We are pretty grateful for the amazing blessing it is to be able to travel and see the world. We are truly blessed. Grandma and grandpa Bruce are making sure things aren't dull at home. Tyler Bruce and the Sparwood basketball team qualified for Provincials so Grandpa is taking the boys along with Cody and Benson to BC to see his games. 

Abby had her first YW winter camp and loved it. Grandma Bruce is making sure the girls are learning their times tables. Etc. 

We are blessed with great extended family around is to help raise our little nuclear family. 

Mom is keeping Instagram and Facebook up to date with all our travels though you won't be able to see them there. Is there any plans for your mission to eventually use iPads and/or Facebook?

Seeing all the townhouses and apartments here in Venice reminded me of some of my tracking experiences in Montreal. Though it wasn't always super productive, I had some fantastic experiences and saw a few people join the church through those efforts. Keep up the intensity and effort and the Lord will bless you as you ask in faith. 

I read this in 1 Nephi 15:11 and believe it to be true:

"If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you."

Praying for you to be able to find the honest and seeking in heart and that you will be given to know, as Nephi was, what you should do and teach. 

Love,

Dad. 


Mom:

We found a small ward in Venice and went for sacrament. I liked it. Afterward I was waiting for Dad and an elderly woman came up to me and said something in Italian. "Parla inglese?" (Which I'm getting very good at saying and it means, "do you speak English?). She shook her head, no. Then she hugged me, kissed me on both cheeks and said in heavily accented Italian, "We. Love." And smiled and squeezed my hand. I was very touched by that.

Anyway, your writing is getting better and better all the time. We really look forward to your emails.

Rome BnB

We just walked through the sketchiest neighbourhood of my life. Rome is big, stinky and confusing. Plus, it's dark. We were trying to find the airbnb and the address was so confusing. Finally, this guy walks through a dark alley, waving to us, and bringing us to where we were sleeping. I thought we were going to get mugged. Maybe it will look different in the daytime. 

How are you, my boy? Really. How are you? I pray and hope that you are holding fast to the lifeline of Our Lord. And finding joy in the service. I'm so proud of you. Keep going. Keep striving.
Love you forever (again),

Mom

Josh:

I don't know if I am very good at relating about myself in the day to day life as much as spiritual thoughts, In the Preach My Gospel manual it explains that if you don't know what to say talk about Jesus Christ. So that is the approach I have been taking, but at the request of family members I will try to be better at letting you all know about my life. 

There is a place we give service at called Operation Gratitude, a place where we prepare things to send off to service members serving in the military. We do such things as sort donated foods and small toys, tooth brushes, tooth paste, hats, bandana's and assorted other things. We make quick release paracord bracelets, read letters to make sure they are uplifting and good to send to soldiers. So we usually go there Wednesday's, Friday's and assembly days (assembly days are for the putting together of packages to send off.  My favorite thing to do is make the paracord bracelets there is a quick fun way to do them and I will have to learn more so I can show everyone when I get home, but these are what we do most of the time when we go. 

This week we had the opportunity to l teach a Hispanic family who was really open and receptive. We shared with them the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the spirit was so strong, I love teaching with the spirit, so many times I say things that I don't ever think of myself and its really cool the confidence that comes in when the spirit is present. There are also times when I just keep rambling on and don't know if its me or the spirit, but in the end people will say thats what they needed to hear. It is so important to have the spirit with you always. 
Any way they were really impacted by the spirit and couldn't wait to hear more, the only problem was that the husband only spoke spanish so we felt like the best way to help them was to pass them off to the spanish missionaries covering that area. 

At church yesterday one of our potential investigators came to church, he really loved it, though since it was fast and testimony meeting i was a little worried that someone would go up and bare some crazy deep doctrine testimony on Kolob or something. Luckily it was relatively normal though with a small ward not a lot of people went up and there were long ten minute gaps where no one would come up and it felt a little awkward, it was the quietest testimony meeting i had ever been to, I was almost tempted to go up twice. but after when I asked them what they thought they said they really liked it, of course the reason was that it was perfect for meditation. they didn't stay because they had to work afterwords, but as soon as they were about to leave some of the more forward members pounced on them and struck up some good conversations, since there was only so many people there its easy to recognize who is out of place, they were also wearing casual clothes. It was good. 

This week I have been really trying to be patient, my companion it really great and he is fun to be around but there are those times that get a little hard especially when you have been together for two months. I am learning a lot about working together and of staying alert, there was one day where we nearly died 3 times, one of which my companion looked one direction and said it was good but the other direction a car was going super fast and I had a dad moment where I just started yelling "Woe woe woe!" and in trying to press the brakes my companions foot almost hit the gas, but hit it just in time to stop a few inches from the other car. In reflecting so many of the things I say and do I am so much like my dad, my laugh my expressions, even my caution voice when warning the driver of danger... I now understand how dad felt when I was in the drivers seat at times. 

That was my week, a scripture that I found this week through my personal studies was 2 Nephi 9:49 "Behold, my soul abhorreth sin, and my heart delighteth in righteousness; and I will praise the holy name of my God"
I love this scripture because there are times even as a missionary that I struggle to do or think good things, when I have a desire to sin or do wrong then I will recite this scripture in my mind to help me to remember who I am and what my true desire is, and the is to serve my God, to help other people, and be an example to those who are around me. When I am tempted then I love those words and I love that I can make them my own and say with Jacob, My soul abhorreth sin, and my heart delighteth in righteousness. May we all be able to make those words our own. 

I love you all.

Josh

Dad's Reply:

Glad you were safe! We will look into getting your license renewed and sent to you. We may have to get you to sign something. We'll let you know. 

We just checked into a funky little BnB apartment in the back streets of Rome. Very exciting!

Dad. 

Joshua's Reply

Oh! I forgot to say that its starting to get really hard in this area, there have been a lot of robberies and people walking house to house scoping out houses that would be easy to rob, and guess who walks house to house as well? missionaries, its getting to the point where we need our ministerial certificates at all times for fear that someone will tern us into the police, already we have had our pictures taken and put on a police watch website, and someone called the police on us as we were tracting. but the work goes on. 

To answer your question dad, I don't think this mission will have iPads until way after I come home. 

Feb 26, 2017 - Remembering

Dad: - Remembering

Hi Josh

I'm sitting in bed in Florence Italy at 4 in the morning unable to sleep yet as the jet lag is full force. 

I happened to be reading some old talks and letters I'd written back when you were younger and had a flood of memories come to my mind. I am so proud of where you are and what you have had to overcome to get there.  I'll attach a couple. One is a letter I wrote to you after some struggles and one is some lessons I learned as we went through some of those struggles together. It made me ponder and reflect on the grace and power of the Savior to take any choice we make and every experience we have and turn it to our good and growth. 

I was also reading an old talk I wrote a few years ago  and came across one of my favorite quotes by Boyd K Packer that reminded me of your last letter and the role of tough moments on our lives. 

"We live in a day when the adversary stresses on every hand the philosophy of instant gratification. We seem to demand instant everything, including instant solutions to our problems. …
It was meant to be that life would be a challenge. To suffer some anxiety, some depression, some disappointment, even some failure is normal.

Teach our members that if they have a good, miserable day once in a while, or several in a row, to stand steady and face them. Things will straighten out.
There is great purpose in our struggle in life.

Spiritual independence and self-reliance is a sustaining power in the Church. If we rob the members of that, how can they get revelation for themselves? How will they know there is a prophet of God? How can they get answers to prayers? How can they know for sure for themselves? …"

We are glad to hear you are getting fed more often. We are praying and hoping for miracles in your area so that you can meet and teach Californians ready to hear your message. 

I'm sure Sam may write to you about it, but we were proud of Sams initiative on Friday as he organized a successful "Mormon Party" at our place. We had about 16 youth come over from 5 - 12 and no video games were played. Just lots of old fashioned games and snacks. They got good use out of our air hockey table too. 

Abby is excited to go to her first winter camp this week-end. She was packing 11/2 weeks in advance. Just one more reminder that girls are different than boys. 

Ben plays his last basketball game today and he's actually pretty sad the season is over. It's been a tough one but he loves the feeling of brotherhood in the team. Something powerful about a shared experience. 

Steph called the other day to have company as she walked to her car after a late class. I love how she keeps in touch and I hope out family can continue to find ways to stay connected as you kids get older and more independent. 

Mom and I are looking forward to seeing Italy over the next two weeks. Yesterday we saw the David statue and marveled at the talent the Lord blessed Michaelangeo with. 

We will have more to report next week on our travels. The Lord has been so good to us. I'm feeling a strong desire to purify my thoughts and actions lately and can already feel an increase  in the spirit. As you seek the Lords help in finding those to need to hear the gospel in your area, cultivate the hope that come from doing all you can to qualify for his blessings and ask in faith. 

Love you lots. 

Dad.



Some Pics from Florence


Josh:- New Transfer

Hey family! A whole new transfer and a whole world of possibilities, I have to be honest I love missionary work, but there is so many times that I feel completely inadequate this last week we only got to meet with 4 people, a lot fell through the cracks and we had a lot of missed opportunities partly to do with circumstance and partly to do with ill timing and bad planning. I have a hope that this transfer will be a better one, I want to be all the Lord needs me to be, with all my imperfections and weaknesses I know that they are given to me to be humble so I can trust in the Lord with all my might. It is pretty hard to do it, To live a consecrated life we need to turn our wills over to God, meaning to do what he wants done, say what he would say, act as he would act, Christ being our perfect example. 

My diet for these past weeks have consisted of Cereal, toasted pop tart treats and beef jerky, Elder Nelson has a bit of a knowledge of superheroes so we have been been discussing different ones, the one we have been most fascinated about is Batman, he of all superheroes we have agreed on is the most complex and in depth. 
Bruce Wayne was prepared at an early age to take down his most difficult foes that any normal person would have mental scarring over, threw his trials it made wo he was, just the same as us, we learn the best and are formed through our trials, Batman also gets the fact that he needs help from time to time so he has Alfred and often a sidekick to assist him, like that we need to learn to rely of each other for support and love. 


​We did a lot of service this week, I love giving service, we had the opportunity to pick up trash along a public walkway and from it we picked up a potential new Investigator, we were also able to go to a different christian denomination "the prince of peace episcopal church" to help them to feed the homeless, it reminded me of the declaration of king benjamin in mosaic 4:16-26, that as we impart of our substances to those who are in more need then we are living our religion, if we don't then we deny the faith. In "Joseph Smith:Prophet of The Restoration" there is a scene where they are helping an old lady chop wood and work around the yard and she comes out to speak with Joseph and says "I don't believe in your religion, but I thank you for your help." and Joseph says something that is pretty great he says, "I would say that is our religion." 
King Benjamin said "When you are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in service of your God"
May we remember to offer service at every opportunity.

I love you all so much and hope each one of you is safe, Mom and Dad in Italy Steph in Provo, and the rest back home, Look to God for your support. 

Josh

Mom:

It's 9 p.m. here. Dad is snoring beside me. Haha. He can't stay awake even though he tried. Jet lag blues (I had the luxury of a nap.)


I spent the day alone in Florence today. Weird! I had no one to exclaim to or help me figure out the map. I did okay but it sure helped me realize that I love my family and experiencing life with them. Here's what I put on Intagram...


I also had the luxury of a long study session this morning, which I already wrote to you about. I'm learning more and more as I get older to always took to Christ. He is the Master Navigator. He said, "I came that ye will have life, and that more abundantly." Truth! I would like to have as abundant a life as possible, but that can only happen through the Saviour.

I also learned a very useful Italian phrase, "Parla inglese?" and most Italians will help me out when they see I'm making an attempt at their language. (The Canada pin that I am wearing might help a little, too.) I discovered a perfumery that is 400 years old, started by Dominican monks. Eventually their concoctions made it outside of Italy and became famous. So interesting. I bought some perfume that is 200 years old and it smells amazing. I explored the Santa Maria Novella, a huge, soaring basilica. The architecture is designed to draw our gaze upward, presumably to God, and it is definitely awe-inspiring. I sat in wonder and pondered on the way we worship. Personally, I'm grateful that the God I believe in let's me worship wherever I am; whether in my bedroom in prayer, at a Mormon temple or even in a basilica. 

 Love to you always, my boy. So proud. 

I'm excited for your new transfer! Where, exactly? And you need to eat more fruits and veggies! (Although our diets match today. Beef jerky is pretty yummy. Lol!)

And what is happening with your teeth? Details!

And, where are you now?

Josh Reply:

I love you mom, tell dad he is the best when he wakes up . 

Well I got a few cavities that was able to be filled and covered by the mission because i got them on the mission, they are filled and I am determined to keep them in perfect condition forever. so flossing twice a week and brushing rinsing with fluoride... I don't like cavities. I will try to eat better this week though all I have in the fridge is eggs and milk... and cheese and cereal getting into the habit of missionary meals... not a good idea. 

That made my week mom, I love you both so much!

I am still in Tarzana I will probably be here for 3 more months at least.


Feb 20, 2017 - Family Day Extension

Dad:

Hi Josh,

I'm thankful we have an extra day this week-end to send you an email since it is Presidents day down your way and Family Day here.

We enjoyed the traditional ward breakfast today and probably had over 200 people show up!  We were happy to have Grandma and Grandpa Smith up for a visit this week end to attend with us. They are just coming off their vacation in Invermere on their Time share for a week and came up Saturday to stay a couple of nights with us. Grandpa is retiring in just over a month and is looking forward to that. Grandpa also helped me frame in Sam's closet downstairs.

Mom and I are excited to be flying out to Italy this week-end. I'm attending some leadership training for a week and then we'll take another week to sight see. Mom of course wouldn't let me go to Florence Italy without her and I'm totally OK with that. 

Friday night Mom and I went to the movies and saw a fantasy move about the great wall legend about the wall being built to keep out dragon creatures. Weird but fun to watch.  Saturday, Mom and I came into Leduc to do some shopping (food and 2x4's for building the closets in the basement), and had a chance to visit with Sis. Kruyer who's been in the hospital for 4 months. This last Wednesday, Sam and the priest organized a valentines joint activity where everyone made a heart card for Sis. Kruyer and I dumped them all on her table and told her she'd just been given a "Heart Attack". She loved it.

I also got to talk in Sacrament Meeting about the Youth Theme this year - James 1:5,6 - "Ask".  I really like all the effort the church puts into creating resources for the youth to celebrate and remember the theme. It was fun to have G & G Smith here to speak to.

Hope you have a great week. Send us some more details again of who your teaching, how they are progressing and always love the stories of your experiences (good and bad)

BTW, Ava Driessen gave her farewell talk last week and is in the MTC now. having a great time.

Quick Mission Memory:

When I served in Laval, my companion and I were invited over to a Sister's place for dinner and while there, she pulled out a picture book and showed me pictures of my Dad on his mission. It was Sis. Lucile Landry and I reminisced with my Dad yesterday about the experience of calling him on his birthday and reconnecting him with one of the only people he baptized on his mission. We never quite know who's life we touch and how when we engage with faith in the work of the Lord. I have a testimony of this gospel and how happy it makes me to live it.

Love,

Dad.

Josh:

From severe flooding to light rain this week has been spent under water, we have been doing better on dinners, our ward has these amazing members who stormed into relief society waving the calendar and getting everyone to feel guilty about us starving and now we have a dinner every night. 

Being a missionary, there are so many ups and downs, it is a struggle even to go on some days but you do, it is the greatest experience in the world, it changes you as you go through the refiners fire, when you are in the MTC you are spiritually charged and when you are shot as if out of a cannon into the field and you can either go into a crash landing or hit the ground running as fast as you can, my advice to all who my want to serve a mission to love every moment, if you look for the positive in every experience then you will turn out all right. Remember that thinking positively is not ignoring reality, when Nephi and his family were struggling because he broke his bow, he said that it was difficult and they suffered much for want of food, but he realized that complaining wouldn't do anything so he looked for what he could do to improve the situation, when you look at every situation as a learning curve, when you acknowledge the fire that is refining you, feel the pain the heat and the ache of growing but always remember and never forget the fact that you are growing, all growing comes with some pain, the greatest teaching tool God has for us is to let us experience some pain to learn for ourselves, in all things when God teaches he is all about realizing for ourselves essential truths. so when you are going through stress or a hard time, like Nephi make sure to acknowledge the hardship and then do what you can to learn from it, and that could mean learning to ask for help, learning to let others take the lead, learning to relax and focus on something else for the moment, learning to put your full trust in the Lord. As long as we learn to look for the good in every situation we will be able to learn much faster. 

I had to learn that the hard way, when I was in Halifax I loved it, every moment was new and fun but when I came to California I lost a lot of that fire because I didn't feel accepted and I felt alone. It can be dreary and boring at times and at others great and exhilarating, so look for the tender mercies of the Lord.

When we don't have dinners with the members we are usually eating cereal and pizza, that seems to be the staple missionary meal this transfer. At this time we have been struggling to get in contact with our two investigators and have no one else to teach so back to finding, we have pretty much gone by each potential in our planners so many times that they are starting to avoid us, and the less actives we have been asked to go by are apostate, so right now we are struggling to fill our days with names and are mostly resorting to knocking doors and stopping by former investigators. Praying for the work to pick up right now, the Lord must have something for me to learn here. 

Love Josh


Mom:

Hi, Sweetie!

We sure love you and all your experiences. Your mission is the best kick start for the rest of your life and we think you're handling it wonderfully. 

Listen. This is really important. I need you to fill out one more form. In the email sent to you from the insurance adjuster, there is a Medical Release Form. You need to sign it like the other and send it. I'm so sorry to add more stress, but it needs to be done, today, if possible.

Josh:

dang it... sorry mom, missed that one in the stress of last week... alright, I will send that asap... I will have to do that later today is that okay? 

here are some more pictures from this last week.





Feb 13, 2017 - Things Happen

Josh:

Wow, this week a lot happened, from getting dropped by a few of our investigators, one of our investigators found some anti-mormon things online and we had to explain that a lot of it wasn't true... but he was still tripped out and wouldn't let us in to the home, but we eventually were able to help him to feel less sketched out, and gave him meet the mormons as a documentary to watch instead of more anti because he likes documentaries. He really just wants transparency and I hope that we are able to help him out with it. 

While knocking the other day we came across this very cute dog who was sniffing out hands through the fence... so I put my hand forward for it to sniff and all of a sudden




​It bit me! The very first time its happened to me on my mission. So after balling my eyes out for a few minutes we wrapped a piece of paper around it because it was the only bandage type thing we had and resumed knocking doors and trying to convert people to the Gospel. Then went home and bandaged it up. 

I have been feeling like the work has been progressing forward pretty well we have been working with the ward, and have finally more then one dinner this week, we are uncharge of passing the dinner calendar around and we are so busy sundays that it is hard for us, so an average of one a week is the usual but finally one of the sisters in the ward got fed up and took the calendar and told everyone they better sign it, we have 3 active families that make up most of the ward, and they are all Cannons, it reminds me of Sparwood where the Bruces are the same thing, but they are the the ones that head everything, the oldest is the second counselor, and the second oldest is the Elders quorum president, they are a pretty fun time.

I have discovered something, I love coloring, I have been re-reading the scriptures lately and marking different things with so many different colors, I have been so into the Book of Mormon lately, and I am so fascinated by how much you can learn by reading and marking for specific purposes, right now I am marking in yellow all of the words that come directly from God and his attributes, in red everywhere it specifically says the word Knowledge and know. and in blue things that stand out to me. In green the word Remember and what is remembered. Reading the scriptures is such an adventure! I would encourage all to make it a coloring book by marking it with a rainbow, for multiple specific reasons and cross referencing important scriptures. I have found so much joy in it just by doing this, it is such a good way to get into the scriptures more then ever before. 

I miss you all so much and hope that all will be well. Focus on building your testimony and gaining those experiences with the spirit, ever be valiant in your testimony of Christ, pursue knowledge, in all ways be grateful 

Love

Josh

For the Pictures, 

Dinner most nights last week 

It rained so much last week that if filled the river for once in about 5 years.  

Dad:

Sounds like an adventurous week! 

We had a fun winter camp with the YM this last week-end. Funniest story was Ben going to bed Friday night only to find that someone had take his sleeping bag out as a few YM went to the Patrick's garage to sleep warmer. So he grabbed a couple of blankets and put on his coat and tried to sleep. After going to the fire at 3 am to warm up and bugging Sam to share his extra sleeping bag, he finally got some sleep. Said he would not soon forget that, especially next winter camp!

BTW, what's up with the dentist? Do you need anything to get fixed?

Also, we will try to get you a new license. We may have to get you to sign something and send it back. Want you to be able to fully serve in any capacity.

We had a nice "Guess who's coming to dinner" party on Saturday with the Pomerleaus, Patricks and Till's coming over. We printed out some "Get to know you" questions and took turns reading it. One of them was, in effect, "If you knew you couldn't fail, what would you do differently or try to do. After a few responses, Bro. Patrick spoke up and said, essentially, that he wouldn't change a thing and that he had lived a blessed life and loved it all and wouldn't change a thing. It was an inspiring thought and one worth striving for, I thought.

Dad.

Feb 6, 2017 - February Musings

Dad:

Hi Josh,

Another month rolls by and we are still loving our house. It's been a quieter week as Ben had exam week and only had 2 exams, so classes were canceled. Ben did really well on his Math and English exam and we are pleased with his first semester. Mainly it meant we got to spend more time with Ben that usual which was good for both us and him.

Grandma and Grandpa Bruce came up again and we were able to finish off the rest of the wiring. Grandpa and I worked together to put 3 holes in the ceiling via the attic to get more light in the kitchen. It's always a hoot having grandpa around tossing Dad's cookies around :). He also had a big motivation to come back up as he bought a snowmobile last time up off of Kijiji and didn't have a trailer to haul it! We didn't have much snow while he was gone so Sam and I took it out for a short run just before he came to "test" it out. It was fun. It's nice to have space! Grandma helped as usual to organize and clean things up and we were able to get most of the basement cleared up with just one big pile left to go into the garage this spring once its done.

Mom and I are excited to be going on a trip to Italy at the end of the month. I managed to get some training arranged in Florence and so Mom of course wouldn't let me go alone so we're going to take an extra week and see some sights. Sam and Ben will stay here and G and G Bruce will be coming up for a week here and then take the 2 girls back for a week in Sparwood.

Abby was pretty excited this week to be going to YW's officially and is looking more and more grown up. I think you are going to be surprised at how much everyone has grown despite the pictures!

This week is Winter camp at the Patricks. Weather is super cold right now (-25 degrees C). (Have you converted to Farenheight yet?). It is supposed to get closer to 0 degrees by Saturday so that will make the camp more bearable. Lots of fun activities planned.

Ava Driessen heads out for her mission in a couple of weeks to Montreal. Looking forward to her farewell talk. 

Quick mission story from my mission there.

While serving in the city of Laval, an island just above Montreal and were able to teach a young teen age pregnant girl named "France". She accepted the gospel and was baptized but struggled due to the rough situation she was in. After I was transferred she moved in with a boy friend after having the baby. I didn't hear much from her until I got a call that she wanted be to come to her baby's funeral as it had died in its crib. It was a sad time. I got permission to go back to Montreal (I was in Ottawa by then) and attend the Catholic funeral. It was not a pleasant experience. The Priest asked France if she had had the baby baptized.  She answered no. So he asked "did you intend to have it baptized"? She answered yes. So he pronounced it "saved". In my journal I wrote the note "Let's just bend the rules a little more"... Without the light of the gospel and the doctrine of the plan of salvation, it's a guessing game, eh?  I was able to share some thoughts from the scriptures at the funeral and encourage her to stay close to the gospel and have never heard from her again. 

The mission brings all types of learning and growing experiences.

I hope you are well and living missionary life to the fullest. I enjoyed reading yours and Sam's email exchange last week. I'm so grateful for your example to your brothers and I love the relationship you are maintaining with them. They admire and love you and your choices have a direct affect on them and our family. 

As usual, don't stop sharing the small details of your mission. We love to hear them. Let us know if there is anyone we can pray for.


Love Dad.

Josh:

This week has been crazy and has just shot by, it was one of those weeks where we were so busy but nothing got done, a lot of appointments canceled and we have had limited success finding new people to teach, just yesterday we had Dinner with the second counselor and his family, and I was able to do their dishes right after, they were surprised and it didn't really faze me because I had been taught by my parents to do the dishes, and I found that I kind of enjoyed it, while I was doing them I remembered the example set by my father whenever Mom was stressed or having a bad day one of my fondest memories was when dad would do the dishes, and it was something that us boys picked up on a little so whenever Mom was having a bad day the first thought was to clean up something. I don't know if it always worked but now I don't mind doing the dishes. The member was shocked because all of them hate doing the dishes. It was a good night and we stayed longer then we should have but we were able to establish a good relationship and hopefully be more trusted by the members with referring their friends. 

I have been reading through the Book of Mormon again and for some reason I have been really relating more and more to the words written in it, everything in The Book of Mormon was placed by revelation and for our benefit, Mormon had hundreds if not thousands of different records and through his life time he had to go through them all and pick the most meaningful experiences out of each of them so no matter what you read in the Book of Mormon it is for a reason, I have loved re-reading the sermon of King Benjamin and the story of Abinadi, when Elder Ardern of the seventy came he said that the Lord packs more into the scriptures then we unpack, and that we need to read them with the mind of a lawyer always asking why to the verses, so that we can pull the most out of it. Every time I read its words I feel an increase in the spirit, my life is changed little by little to fit into that which Christ lived, but I know that no matter how hard we try we will fall short, but thats okay, as long as we rely on the atonement of Jesus Christ as they did of old then we will see the change in our lives, let the atonement take ahold of you and as king benjamin said become children of Christ, read from the experience of Alma, after Abinadi dies Alma teaches the people in secret and when they gather near the waters of mormon Alma Baptizes Helam who was one of the most faithful of his followers, but when he says the baptismal prayer it is different that how we do it these days but in the words he says it is so powerful to see that he says "as a testimony that ye have entered into a covenant to serve him until you are dead as to the mortal body" 
It is the same with us, we have established a covenant to serve him until we die, and that is said in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it starts with faith, Repentance, then Baptism and when we are baptized we receive the holy ghost, and then we must endure to the End which means to serve him until we die, to be valiant in the Testimony which we have of Christ. 

we have so much to be thankful for, and as we focus on the good things in life we can receive so much more to be grateful for, as it is said signs are given to those who already believe before the sign, and we "receive no witness until after the trial of our faith" as we are strong and trust in those who came before we will be led, and as we die up our time for the Gospel and this great work we will find a more wholesome way to live, one of the first things we teach as missionaries is that God loves us and he wants us to be happy in this life and in the life to come, so even though this time we have on earth is a test, and we will go through so many trials we are still meant to be happy, so pursue happiness and love righteousness. 

A couple misfortunes in my life...
Dentist appointments... I really need to get more fluoride into my mouth and take better care of myself. 
Lost stuff... My trainee calls it the "Smith posterity curse" (because in a mission your trainee becomes your lineage) I happened to lose my drivers license so I don't know if there is such a thing as someone else getting you a new one, so as things turn out I may not be driving for the rest of my mission. but whatever. as long as I can do the work of the Lord

Some good things though! I have a great family who loves me, I am happy all the time and learning so much as a missionary, I can't wait to learn more, never stop learning! 

love,


Josh

Here are some pictures of this week:





Sherman Oaks Elders-January 2017

From: Aida Rodriguez <imagesbyaida@gmail.com>

Dear Elders & Families,
It was too short of a transfer for Elder Smith and Turner, but I was able to photograph them while they served in Sherman Oaks.

Thanks for all your service while you were here.


Bishop Rodriguez and Sister Aida Rodriguez