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. 

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