Saturday, April 29, 2017

April 24, 2017 - Conceptualism

From Dad:

Hi Josh,

How's my oldest son!?

Its been a crazy week weather wise this week. I'm currently looking at a field of snow. We woke up Sunday morning early and the kids had to come into Ward Council with me because Mom has a bad cough we suspect is strepp throat. She's been out with it for a few days so time to humble ourselves and go see the doctor this morning. 

It's been hard to do anything outside other than build a snow man. Amelia has been representing us well in that department:


We are all taking a few breaths after the music festival. Ben and Abby both are invited to the awards ceremony to receive something. Ben had a rough middle performance but must not have done too bad as he just got a call to play in provincials. 

Abby both played the piano and sang. She did great in both but is now burnt out and wants to take a year off. 

Ben and I have been having good ping pong conversations, especially with Sam on a road trip with Tyler. I love having kids and spending time with them. I think Ben won't hardly know what to do with himself once Sam leaves on his mission. 

Speaking of a road trip, they are in your neck of the woods.  Tyler asked if I thought it would be ok  with you ask permission for them to stop by and take you for lunch. I told them I would want to ask you and let you decide or let us know what your mission president would think about that? 

Let me know if that is something that is possible or that you would be comfortable with. 

For the ward potluck yesterday, the theme was "Kids in the Kitchen". Amelia absolutely loves the ward pot luck Sunday's. She got right into making pizza buns and jello cups yesterday morning. 



As we are now part of the Riverbend Stake, two of the stake presidency counsellors came and visited our ward. It was nice to meet them. Change is always a little uncomfortable, but it's going to be a good thing I think. 

During the regional conference where they announced the new Sherwood Park Stake, one of the area authorities talked about member missionary work and talked about opening the door for people to become curious about and ask questions about the Church and letting them choose to step through it and ask to know more. I like that idea. Our role is to invite all to come to Christ, not make all. 

I've been listening to an interesting book by Terry Givens called "Wrestling the  Angel". It is a treatise of Mormon beliefs (e.g. Pre-existence , the priesthood ban, A god we can become like, baptism, original son etc. ) and the history of those thoughts since the time of Christ up until the present day and how they were revealed or assimilated by Joseph Smith and how they have evolved over time till today. 

One that really struck me was the concept that God will save almost all of his children except for the very very few sons of perdition, and they by their own choice. Sometimes we as members get caught up in the "One True Church" mentality and forget that we believe in a temporary hell (spirit prison ) and in an everlasting (i.e. Gods) punishment, not a punishment that is everlasting. We believe in an amazing concept of Heaven wherein practically every one of Gods children will receive a kingdom of glory that is more than they even can hope for. 

For me it makes me see everyone differently. So much hope in the restored doctrine of Jesus Christ. And you are spreading that hope. Stay hopeful yourself and work with an eye of faith to bring the children of God in your area to the saving ordinances of Baptism. 

Love you lots. 

Dad

Ps. Can you send me your mission office number? I need to get a letter from them to get your drivers license. 

From Josh:

I learned a new word this week, We were talking to this referral we got from other missionaries, well actually this person's wife, and we introduced ourselves as missionaries asking if we could speak to her husband and she told us she would go get him, but then stopped and asked what our message entailed or what we were trying to do, we told her that we carried a very important message for her and her family it talked about God and how he had a living prophet on the earth today, she told us she was Catholic and that she already believed in God, we asked if she was familiar with the Bible and she told us she was but that she was a "Conceptualist" not knowing exactly what she meant by that I asked her if she would be so kind as to explain her beliefs, she told us that she believed in the concept of the bible and not the actual stories therein, this troubled me and I asked what her belief in God was, Whether it was just the Concept of God or his literal existence, she answered readily that she knew that God existed and that she felt he represented himself as love that he was a feeling inside us inspiring us to love more and care for one another, this rightly surprised me and I asked if she would explain further whether she believed in him as a being or as an energy or a light, she told us she was too uneducated to answer us directly. This troubled me all the more and I told her that God was an actual being and that in fact I knew he was, and asked her what she thought of me stating that it was a knowledge not a faith, she could not reply, so I directed the conversation to alma 32 where it talks about a seed of faith or a desire to believe growing into a knowledge how by the constant application of faith and the sight of miracles directly resultant of that faith forms the mind to a knowledge, like the starting of a car is a miracle in and among itself and yet we are only surprised when it doesn't turn. The fact of the matter is that we have a knowledge from past experiences that the car will turn on, so by that same logic we can rightly find the knowledge of God by the understanding of the first vision of Joseph Smith, and the reading of the Book of Mormon, and that prayer in faith will also yield great knowledge, she wasn't interested so we moved on leaving an invitation to read from the words of the scriptures. 

Another experience was when we went by one of our investigators to ask why she hadn't come to church, we caught her husband who was super cool and told us she wasn't ready at the moment and to try by at another time, we had a really good conversation with him and all he believes, he is agnostic (Believes in a higher power but doesn't know if it is God or not) we talked about Moral relativity and absolute truth, how gravity even if someone denies its existence it is still there, and that person just sounds crazy when he tries to convince someone that it is not true, and we related that to God how his existence was also an absolute truth, we invited him to read the book of mormon and told him that he could find a faith and understanding of this great truth through its words.
In the course of the conversation he told me of an encounter with a missionary who told him that Mormonism wasn't actually what he believed in, that he just went on a mission because if he didn't his parents would be shamed and that he would lose respect in his community but as to himself he believed that it wasn't true. This over all things I have heard on my mission ticked me off the most, that a representative of Jesus Christ would deny the faith in front of someone who could have been more open to the knowledge of God and this church had the missionary been more converted, now this man views a belief in God as simply psychology and how it works for some but not for others... we were able to testify of the reality of God and the reality of the restoration of his gospel and left. 

We were given this Book by a referral who wasn't interested, it is called The Pilgrims Progress and i read a few of its paged, it is an amazing book and really unfolds a lot about God and typical beliefs on christian understanding, it was written in 1660 and it is intriguing to see hints of the effect that apostasy had on core beliefs and truths lost, I would suggest the reading of it. 

those were the stories of the week, my invitation is to look within yourselves and try to find a deeper conversion, my fear would be that anyone who goes on their mission will be like that one elder who did it because of his parents. Do it for the Lord and because you know this is true, if you don't have a testimony then find the truth of the restoration, you can do so most effectively by Praying for God to help you know and by reading the Book of Mormon. This Church is founded on prayer and the reality that God does answer prayers. I know this is true, this all is true, because God is behind it, and as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints we believe in all truth, and that God will continue to reveal more truths to us and our prophet as we are ready for it, so be ready, if you are not then new truths will be blocked until we can comprehend current truths. Search, Ponder and Pray, question and listen, read and experience, gain a testimony, strengthen your testimony, convert yourselves then strengthen your brethren, conversion comes first. Mormon 1:15, you can learn truths at any age, so start now. 

I love you all. 

Josh

PS: I don't think that its a good idea to meet up, I really want to but I know that it is against church policy. 







Reply from Mom:


Yeah, we have Pilgrim's Progress on our shelf. From John Bunyan? Considered the first work of fiction in EnglishLiterature but impactful for teaching spiritual truths, as all good fiction does.

You're sounding awesome! Just by having real conversations with people and listening in earnest to what they have to say, they will be open to your invitations and at the very least, think about what you said.

I went to the Doc's this morning. I have Bronchitis. I blame the Snow. Currently snowing and snow covered, it is still winter here. Booooo! Someone mentioned that same time last year 80 000 people were evacuated from Fort Mac from a forest fire, so I guess I shouldn't complain. Ha! Perspective is a wonderful thing.

Anyway, can you send us the number to your mission Office? We need it for driver's license paperwork. Also, do you want to see Sam? He's around.

Aaaaaand, HApPY BIrTHDaY! To my most favourite oldest son. Did you get you $21 yet? Lol! I am SO glad you served a mission on your own terms and not because Dad and I wanted you to. We love you dearly and can't believe you are so grown up, so handsome and so smart. You honour us by living right and we are very proud of you.

Mom ❤️

Josh Reply:

the mission office Number is: 661-288-1614 

I do want to see sam but after thinking about it I felt that it would have long lasting effects, I felt a strong impression that it is a sacrifice that we needed to make not being able to see him for 4 years.

I got the 21 dollars and I am grateful for it! thank you so much for being so wonderful Mom, I love you a ton, and I am looking forward as well as feeling pretty nervous about the day I come home, there are days where I feel like I could do this forever and wish I could extend for another 2 years but others I wish I was home right now, so I am choosing to choose the happy medium and come home when I am supposed to. :) 

April 17, 2017 - Hey Family!

From Josh:

I love being out here serving as a missionary and love everything the Lord has given me, from my friends to my family and everything else, I don't think we as a human race are grateful enough in general and think showing a lot  more gratitude for our blessings AND our afflictions and troubles we would be a happier people. 

A few of the experiences of this week, I really have to learn more and more how to keep a budget I checked my balance earlier in the week and learned that I only have 20 dollars for the rest of the month, I was a little perturbed by that and wondered how I had gotten so low, but I realized that going out to eat and other things have slowly whittled away at my funds, so I must do some repenting and remember to stay within my goals... but I checked in the fridge and realized with relief that I have enough food for the month and will be okay. 

I am going on 4 1/2 months with Elder Nelson, about 3 transfers, other missionaries keep saying that this is the trouble transfer where you get in the most fights and start disliking each other, but I know that with a little bit of love and understanding with open communication between us we can work it out and I love it, it seems the longer that I am with Elder Nelson the more I love him, he is a great missionary and a great guy, I look forward to all the adventures we will have together.

In elder quorum on Sunday we talked about prayer, and in district meeting we talked about how our entire religion is based on prayer, Joseph went into the woods and prayed to God and received an answer that was beyond anything he expected and it changed the world. I talk to many people who say that God does not answer prayers, in fact Satan has modified his lie, from God does not speak to man to Oh God speaks to us all the time but only through the bible, 
I testify that the ninth article of faith is true, "We believe all that God has revealed, all that he does now reveal, and we believe that he will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God" Gods word does reveal many things to us, but His word is not confined to what he has said in the past, He speaks to us today, I have felt his influence through the Holy Ghost and he has directed me to that which is most important in life, I know he is there and that he will bless us with knowledge and light as we are ready to receive it, Prayer is the way for families to come together and for the world to feel adequate respect towards God, praying as a family is the single most important thing that we can do to teach each other how much we love God and can create feelings of love and respect towards each other. As missionaries we pray as companions and I have found that is has brought me closer to Elder Nelson then if we hadn't been praying together. Deep feelings of love come from praying together. So if you don't do it then start now, if you do, do it then seek for ways to grow a deeper connection with God by making your prayers deeply respectful like you are approaching the literal thrown of God.

Story of the week

We were waiting to catch one of our less active members so we were knocking near his area and this lady passed by and told us to look up the word Hovah in our dictionary on our phones, we asked if she had ever talked to mormon missionaries before and she said she thought we were Jehovah's witness, she said she didn't know much about mormons so she started asking questions to see if she could bash on us or not, she was walking away after ragging on us for 5 minutes and I told her "God Bless" big mistake, she whipped around and told us that it was yawei not God because the word god was pagan and did not belong to Yawei she then lectured us on the bible for 45 minutes, and we listened as she chastised us for eating pig because it wasn't Gods law of health and then told us that it was right in the bible and we listened for that amount of time until she left and told us Yawei bless. We ended up missing our appointment and a few other things, and walking away with a greater determination to figure out a little more about the old testament.

anyway, Love you all, stay safe, stay out of trouble, stay on the path. 

Josh





April 9, 2017 - Changes

From Dad:

Hi Josh,

This week finds us part of a different Stake! Today we attended a regional conference where they re-organized the stake boundaries in Edmonton and created a new Stake in Sherwood park. No new wards were created so the new Stake formed by take a few wards from each other Stake. Part of the results are that we are now part of the Edmonton Riverbend Stake! when I told Mom (she stayed home with the girls and the Francis little girls) she said she didn't like change very much. Though change is often difficult, it often is the ingredient for growth.

This evening we had a lively and discussion with the family about our families values. Here is our first draft. Let us know what you think and anything you would add.

Smith Family Value Statements

  1. We value our relationship with God the Father, his Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost.
    1. We value and believe he has a plan for us collectively, as a family and individually
    2. We value and believe that we can receive inspiration and revelation through his spririt and we endeavor to act on its first promptings even when it is a sacrifice.
    3. We excercise faith in the Savoir and accept their will for us as a family
  2. We value giving and recieving Service
    1. We love how it feels to serve others and the perspective it brings to our own concerns.
    2. We appreciate, accept and our gracious to those who serve us.
  3. We value the Gospel of Jesus Christ and commit our time, talents and all the Lord has blessed us with to building his Kingdom. We are all in.
    1. We serve joyfully in and magnify our callings and assignments in the Church
    2. We sustain our Church leaders.
    3. We keep the commandments to the very best of our ability and repent quickly and fully when we fall short.
  4. We value our potential as children of God and our ability to progress to become like him.
    1. We value and apply ourselves to the pursuit of knowledge and continual learning through education and experiences.
    2. We constantly strive to apply the principle of repentance to help us progress and to obtain the grace and forgiveness of the Savoir.
  5. We value being part of a family.
    1. We love to be with our own immediate family and make time for each other.
    2. We love and seek to gather with and maintain our relationship with our extended family (Grandparents, Aunts/Uncles, Cousins, Nephews and Neices)
  6. We value the principal of Self Reliance in the areas of Spiritual Financial, Social, Mental and Physical Health.
    1. We value having the means and finances necessary to have sufficient for our needs and enough and to spare to enjoy life and be of service and help to others.
    2. We value the choices that open up to us because we are self-reliant.
    3. We value the principal of Tithing and trust in its promised blessings
  7. We value and love to have fun.
    1. We enjoy laughter and games with family and friends.
    2. We enjoy wholesome recreation and entertainment with family and friends.
    3. We take time to go on vacations together as a family regularly
  8. We value healthy and positive relationships with others outside our family
    1. We value good friendships and are learning to find joy in sharing the gospel with those around us.
    2. We respect others agency and value that the Savoir’s atonement was for them as well as us.

Over the past couple of weeks we've all gone to see the Doctor just to get to know a new doctor in Calmar and Mom and I have felt the need to get a checkup for a while. He is pretty easy going and we got our blood work done and so far everyone seems pretty healthy.


BTW, did you get a chance to fill out all the paperwork for your license? I think it is really important for you to get your license so that there is nothing holding you back from serving wherever the Lord needs you.

We loved watching conference in our new home and will be pondering the conference messages for a while.



One thing that really struck me in this regional conference was a talk by . He gave some powerful advice about voluntarily sanctification and I've attached his conference talk of 2014 here which had many of the same themes. His 2nd piece of advice about taking responsibility for our physical well being is a needed step for me!

Hope you have a great week!

Love Dad.


From Josh:

I have five more transfers left which is about 7 1/2 to 8 months left, it may seem like a long time but you who go on missions will soon find out that it flies by, It seems like yesterday I was hugging you all and getting on the plane to be a missionary, and now I am one of the older ones on the mission. I love the feeling of the spirit and the realization I have come to that I am nothing and must trust completely on the spirit, recently I studied chapter 7 in Preach my Gospel replacing the thought of a different language with the language of the Spirit and how I can learn to better understand what it is telling me to do. I love the feeling when the spirit speaks through me and when I have the courage to speak up. 

As it is a new transfer we anxiously waited in our apartment for our district leaders to call and nearly pounced on the phone when we got it, putting in on speaker phone we eagerly asked where we were going, listening intently for the response, we bother guessed that Elder Nelson would get the call that he was going, then the words came,
"You will both be staying"... at first we thought he was pulling our leg, Elder Nelson has been here for six months already and we have been together for three, but it is set, I will be in Tarzana for another transfer with my companion. It will be fun! and we are pretty excited. 

I love the family Values, I don't have anything to change about it, I like how it is influenced by the recent general conference and council of the prophet, if you could I would love a printed version to put on my wall to remember that I am from such an amazing family.

This week we have been really trying to share the Easter initiative which is really amazing about learning Principles of peace, though a lot of our area is jewish, which has makes it hard to share a video of Christ, as well as it being Passover this week it can get a little sensitive when it comes to knocking on doors of Jewish homes but so far we have been able to talk about the meaning of Passover and how it applies to what we believe as Christians. I love how the restored gospel can apply to so many things, and feel the spirit so strong when we share it. 

Story of the week.

We went over to this members home who has a crazy family, and they invited their friends from another ward that had a crazy family as well so everything was crazier then ever especially since we had waffles for dinner, they also happened to invite their jewish friend as well and throughout the craziness she asked us what we do, to which we responded we go around sharing messages about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, we do this through any means such as knocking on doors, talking with people on the street, and giving service. She then asked what we do when we get in a door way, what do we teach, so we were able to share with her the entire message of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and through all the screaming of Kids, and talk of the adults there was a small square of calm where the spirit was felt as we shared our message. I love when members invite their non member friends over for dinner when we are there, because of in every case I have seen their friends will ask questions that lead to a gospel centered conversation, even though this lady was jewish I know that she was able to feel the spirit. It was a great experience and I love being a missionary. 

I love you all, I am glad Mom is safe and hope you are all safe and well.

Josh 



Thursday, April 27, 2017

April 3, 2017 - Last week of Transfer

From Josh:

Wow how time flies, it is interesting how things just blow by in the work of the Lord, I have loved getting to know Elder Nelson and serving in Tarzana ward I hope I get to stay as well as hoping I leave, it is an interesting feeling, I can't wait to start up a new adventure or even to continue the adventure I am having.

So far this week has blown by, we have been able to find two amazing investigators, one of them we kept trying by and kept missing her and catching her family, this one time we met her husband and I was a little nervous because usually the husbands aren't too fond of us, but he was really chill and got us water, when he was gone we heard our investigator shouting at him and we were worried that she was telling him to tell us that she wasn't interested anymore, but he came back with his younger daughter and she told us that her mom was busy and that she wanted us to come back Thursday of this week and that her daughter was interested as well that gave us a pretty great feeling.

General Conference was amazing! I loved the feeling I got that you were all watching the same time as me and that gave me a sense of closeness. I loved each of the talks especially the one given on light in the Saturday morning session, I loved how Elder Uchtdorf talked about not being entitled, I feel like that was something I definitely need to improve on I carry a lot of pride in my heart and have been trying to rid myself of it throughout my mission and it has helped when I have put my trust in the Lord, when I remember how great he is and my own nothingness, as we focus on how we can align our wills with his and listen to the first prompting that the Spirit gives us we can more effectively be his messengers and servants, one of the talks that stood out to me most was D Todd Christophersons talk on sharing the gospel and how important it is to warn our neighbors. I am grateful for loving parents who shared the gospel to us as we have grown up, and now that we have the truth of the fullness of the gospel we need to warn our friends and neighbors.

Story of the week! 

We were knocking doors in a pretty rich area and we knocked on this one door, after a few moments the door was flung open showing a bunch of highschool girls holding a sign that said prom and they all shouted, "WIll you go to prom with us!?" and they had their phones out and were videoing us and I had to say, "sorry but we are missionaries from the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" and that kind of deflated them and they all walked away leaving this one girl looking really awkward and we talked to her for a little and one of her friends came up and we found out that they were either agnostic or atheist, we had a good conversation on faith and God and we left her with a Book of Mormon

besides being asked to prom that was the week.

Love you all!

Josh

we had a good weekly planning and found a pretty big flamingo, the one with the house beside my head, that house was huuuge, and it overlooked a Golfcourse and with the size of the house I wouldn't be surprised if the person owned the Golf course.






From Mom:

Here's a story for you...

An old family friend passed away and I felt prompted that I should go to the funeral in Sparwood. As I was leaving yesterday to drive down, I called my Dad to let him know I was on my way and he counselled me to stop and pray for safety, which I did. The roads were clear so I wasn't worried about it at all, but just outside of Okotoks, I hit a sudden blizzard. In fear, I drove to the nearest gas station and had another prompting to text Jamelyn Stephan, who said I could stay with her. As I was driving towards her house, the weather suddenly cleared and I decided to keep going. I should've listened to the prompting to stay because the blizzard hit me again on the Longview road. For two hours I drove slowly in the thickly falling snow at night. All I could see was 20 ft in front of me, the lines were covered in snow so I followed the tire tracks and even then I almost drove off the road. It was so scary, but I kept getting the impression to take my time. Slow progress is still progress. My nerves were shot by the time I got late into Sparwood though.

But guess what? When I came out this morning, one of the tires was flat in the car. Heavenly Father answered my prayer that I would drive safely despite the fact that I didn't listen to the prompting to stay at Jamelyn's. Imagine me with a flat tire in the middle of a blizzard? I felt very grateful for prayer's of safety and maybe I'll be a better listener in the future.

LOVED Conference. I was thinking of you the whole time. Have a fantastic week.

Love forever,
Mom

From Dad:

Hi Josh,

Every General Conference since you've been on your mission, I think of you listening and remember how wonderful it was as a missionary to go to GC and just soak in the words and feelings of the prophets and apostles. Hope you had a great experience!

It's been a good week! Our yard is still full of mud but it is slowly getting better. We are really looking forward to having a good driveway!

Mom had an interesting experience she may tell you more about this week-end when she heard about a family friend (from when she was young) who passed away. She kept getting the prompting to go to the funeral but kept pushing it off since it wasn't convenient. Over and over she wrestled with it right up until the Sunday morning session even the afternoon session. Of course there were so many talks about heeding the promptings of the spirit that she kept getting hit with the prompting. Finally, I had to totally confirm that we could handle things at home and she could go. So after the Rectors left (they were visiting to listen to conference and have supper) she headed out for Sparwood at 6 pm and got in at midnight. We are interested to see what experience she has or whether she'll ever fully know why that prompting kept coming. The promptings of the spirit are often not for normal or comfortable things since we will do those anyways! They are often inconvenient, require sacrifice and bring forth the blessings of heaven!

Sam is getting his mission papers together and we just got most of his Doctor's appointment finished. He's healthy at a whopping 124 lbs! Skinny as a rail that boy!  He's really excited to go on an adventure with Steph and Tyler and James this month in California to do some rock climbing! Maybe they should stop by and say hi :)

Not sure if you'll get this this week as I forgot to finish in time, but in any case, know that I love you and am proud of you.

Have a great week!

Dad.

March 27, 2017 - Loving and Learning

From Mom:

Dear Josh,

Great Grandma's 90th birthday went off without a hitch. The Smith family went all out, of course. The church had long tables of food, a little platform with comfortable chairs for Grandpa and Grandma to sit so well wishers could congratulate them for living so long, and there were three tables set up in the corner with a display of Great Grandma's legacy. As I viewed the display, I saw quilts she had made, favourite recipes, clothes she had sewn, pictures of family playing games, etc. but the overarching legacy was the love and acceptance she has always shown to each of her family members. This was echoed as each child (and a few grandchildren) gave tributes to her; a legacy of love and acceptance shown through food. Haha. It inspired me though. I hope to live to a grand old age to witness such a thing in my own life. She rarely bears her testimony but on Sunday she stood up in the Glenwood church and bore a powerful testimony of living a life with the Gospel at the center of it.

I'm really so grateful you have such a strong heritage. Lucky boy. You were mentioned several times along with Tane, who are the two missionaries of the family right now.

Anyway, I'll attach that paperwork to get your license renewed. You have to print it off and initial each line in section E, as well as sign and date the bottom.

Also, we received a $800 cheque for you in the mail. I'll deposit it into your account, but would you like me to send you some? I had the idea of sending you nine $20 bills, which represent the nine months left of your mission. Maybe it will help supplement your stipend? I don't know. What do you think? I have a new phone now, so I'll try to pay attention to when you send your email and maybe we can go back and forth.

Anyway, as always, sending our love to you. And reminding you that we pray every day for our brother and son.

Mom

From Josh:

Life is good here in the San Fernando Valley it is in the mid 70's (20's in Celsius) Nothing to complain about, a few things I have learned though that are good life lessons. 

First not doing the dishes all week makes me feel like trash, when you have to dig in the dirty dishes for the dish you want and then you have to clean it above a sink full of gross cups and plates is not that desirable, will definitely be doing better on doing dishes from now on. 

Second, It is important to be without Hypocrisy and Guile, I recently learned what each of those meant this week and my whole life has changed. Hypocrisy means to act, or to pretend, to put on a mask or to play a part. and guile is another word for deceit and lying. How I have decided to be better at avoiding both of those is being open and honest, being who I am, I have learned that it is also important to do that within the companionship, me and Elder Nelson's relationship have been getting slowly better over time, but something I have learned about Elder Nelson is that he gets caught up in a thought or a project and won't stop until it is done, which is super amazing and I need to learn to be better at that, but it gets a little frustrating when its past 10:30 and there is a project he is working on and I want to go to bed, a few nights I kind of have been just laying in bed until he comes but it always is better when I speak what is on my mind, because he loses track of time and not telling him results in me creating feelings of resentment for no reason when i can just ask if we can go to bed and there the problem is solved.

I went of exchanges with our district leader on Friday to Saturday and we discussed the easiness of the gospel and the straightness of the way how when we live the gospel the things that are hard in life are cleared up with a better understanding of why and how we can face it, like being completely open with people, when we express ourselves and our feelings clearly people can trust us more easily. 
We also discussed what we believe in comparison to the world, and we drew a few comparisons, to a few titles.

Leader (world) - Above others, strong, smart, in control, has power.

Leader (gospel) - Follower of God, meek, submissive to the Lord, humble, learner, kind, loving.

Teacher (world) - Needs to know more then students to give knowledge, teaches, directs, disciplines when class in unruly 

Teacher (gospel) - Comes to learn, asked questions to help people to come to the conclusion on their own, nourishes discussion, encourages and uplifts. 

those are a few examples of some of the things we talked about, we are truly a peculiar people when teacher = learner and leader = follower, it seems completely opposite from the world but that is the attitude we should all have in those positions. 

Story of the week,
We knocked into Evan a young man who opened up and was really open with us, he told us that he had read many religious books and was seeking to find truth and learn from many different opinions, so we asked if he had read the Book of Mormon, and he told us he had read a few bits and pieces of it, and so we asked if we could share a message of the fulness of the Gospel and he got pretty excited, we shared with him the restoration and he asked a few questions once we got to the Great apostasy we asked if he had any questions and he said he didn't, then he stopped and said " wait, so no other church has the authority from God to baptize?" and we said yes, and shared the story of Joseph Smith and how Jesus Christ said that all other churches were an abomination in his sight, it went really well and he accepted a return appointment as well as a Book of Mormon to read. 

Another experience this week happened when we knocked on this door and through the door we heard "Who is it?!" we said "its the missionaries!", "Hold on let me get my gun, I am going to shoot you!" he yelled back. 
I looked at my companion who looked ready to run for the hills. 
"Are you still there?" we heard from the other side of the door.
"Yes sir" I said, and the door whipped open revealing a man in a dirty wife beater holding a heavy meter long ruler and a sheet of paper. "read this paper!" which said no soliciting of any kind and it started listing off everything that counted as solicitation, the thing is under California state law we are not solicitors. but he basically told us that he should beat us with his stick and that he felt threatened by us, we simply told him we didn't want to cause any harm we were just sharing a message of God and left. The interesting thing was I didn't feel a speck of fear when he said he would shoot us, which was interesting to me. 

I know that I am in the Lords hands and that he loves all of us so much, something I realized in a deeper level this week was that when we put Christ as our main focus everything falls into place, when we are intently focused on Christ then questions such as who we will marry and how we can make a difference are answered because the people we choose to hang out with and date will emulate Christ like attributes and also be looking towards Him in their life, I know that if you will make Jesus Christ your center then your life will infinitely improve, I can promise that as you do that you will be able to live up to your eternal potential and become all that God needs you to become. All that is good will become better and all that is bad will melt away. 

I love you all, hope you have a good week.

Josh

P.S. I will try to get that paperwork to you sometime today, and that idea of nine 20 dollar bills sounds like a good idea. Lets hope it doesn't get me too trunky ;) JK 





Reply From Mom:

I love your story of the week!!!! Do that every time. :)

And yes, keeping up with the dishes is a small act that has long term blessings. I support your decision to do the dishes. Just make it a part of your routine! You won't regret it.

So, Sam has a tough decision to make. He was just offered a job with Peter Rector's company that pays $17/hr, 60 hrs a week, starting next week, which will go a long way helping him save for his mission and education, etc. BUT, he's scheduled to do his SAT, ACT, GED as well as going to Ontario this summer. If he works, he won't have time to study and might miss out on family activities. What is your advice from your experiences? You worked a ton before your mission and you have a lot of money (there will still be $4000 in your mission account when you get home), but was it worth it to you? Any advice?

Also, I can sense your maturity in your letters. I'm anticipating seeing you again and having long conversations about the Gospel and life.

I'm thinking that being trunky means you think about home so much that you can't be an effective missionary. I don't think that will happen to you, but I think you SHOULD start considering a plan of when you do come home.

Things to think about...

Do you want to stay home and explore options here? (Institute, community classes, university, etc?)

Or, do you want to work? (It's a tough time of the year to find a job but not impossible, then go to school in Sept?)

Or, do you want to go to school in Jan? (You could, you know. You have the money. A semester at BYU-I could be a good option..)

Don't stress about it or let it be a distraction, but you might want to start making a home plan. Just saying. :)

Love you forever,

Mom

March 19, 2017 - Life

From Benjamin:

Hey Josh. Just wanted to give you the update on life. The second semester of school is interesting. I have Brother Kruk as a social teacher and he has a very interesting personality. The first day of school he said "Who is Ben Smith? Because whoever he is, He has the whitest name I have ever heard of in my life!" I get targeted by him often and I find it absolutely hilarious. Drama class is just pure fun, it's a class of ten people and all we do is drama related activities (improv, made up skits, random acting games) Science is a little tricky because I went in without any knowledge on the subject whatsoever, but I am getting through it.

Me, Sam, Cody, Benson and Grandpa decided to go down to Langley BC to watch Tyler's basketball finals, and we had a great time! But on the fourteen hour road trip to the finals, after a rest stop I didn't close the door all the way, and so when we were driving down the road I opened it and slammed it- but unbeknownst to me, my/our iPad flew out the door in the process of doing so! So RIP iPad. It is probably good for me though, less distraction.

Man I just love the dances! There was one time, I forgot a loonie (I still need a dance card) and no one else around had a loonie, so we did the math and minimum wage is 12.50 per hour, and so five minutes of work equals one dollar. I made a deal with the guys up front that if I worked for five minutes (whether it was help with the food or help cleaning up after) that they would let me in, and they agreed! I got in the dance without any loss of money.

Being the teacher's quorum president is challenging; half of the teachers lack maturity and I am not sure how to help them with it. I realize that I am the one that is supposed to receive revelation on how to improve the quorum, but I am not quite sure how to go about doing that.  I also know that If I am going to lead the quorum to the best of my abilities it will be with the help of the spirit, but I don't know how to invite the spirit in, when it almost seems that most of the teachers are trying to disrupt the lesson! Not to say that they aren't awesome guys, they are just a bit immature and have very short attention spans.

I had a dream not to long ago. And in this dream, I woke up in the morning only to realize that that Second Coming had begun! As soon as I realized this, I started to repent about every sin I had ever committed, and in this dream I knew that it was too late. I hadn't repented soon enough.. I was absolutely terrified because I knew I had let God down.
When I woke up I was SO relieved. Really makes you think of how the second coming will actually be like. Hopefully we are ready for it, the consequences are eternal!

Love you Josh, be safe in California! :)

From Mom:

Hi, Josh.

I went to the registry to see what could be done about getting a new license for you. They gave me a form to fill out, which I did, but since my phone was stolen, I don't know how to get it to you in an electronic copy. Watch for it next week, I guess. You'll need to print it, sign it and scan it back to us. We'll bring in the form once we have it, they'll mail your license to us and then we will mail it to you. If we get on the ball, you could have it in about 4- 6 weeks. I'll need a photocopy of your passport and any other photo ID you may have. Plan to get that to us next week. I think we can take care of the rest. 

So, in summary for next week ...
1) plan to scan us a copy of your passport
2) plan to print out the form we send you to be signed and scanned back to us.

I think that's it on your end and we will do the rest.

In other news . . . today is the Spring Equinox! Whoop Whoop! We woke up to a new blanket of snow and freezing temperatures. Haha. But at least we can look forward to longer and warmer days as old man winter tries to keep us in his grasp. 

We'll also be attending Great Grandma Smith's 90th birthday this week-end. If you have any well-wishes for her, send it in your email today and I'll make sure she gets it. I think I'm going to print out our pirate family picture for her; the one we took at Koocanusa the summer you got your call. That is the most recent picture we have of all of us together and she's been asking for a family picture from us for 20 years. I guess it's time. :)

My new calling in the church is Sunbeam teacher and I love it. Yesterday, I was in the church bathroom helping my little class wash their hands after using the toilets. They're too little to reach the soap dispenser so I was getting the soap for them and putting on their hands. Sis. Edith Hartmann came out of one of the stalls and said in a joking way, "Sister Smith? Can you get some soap for me too?" I laughed and said emphatically, "Oh, yes, Sister Hartmann, I can get some soap for you!" and I did and we laughed together. Suddenly, Elsie Michelson looks at me and I explained that Sister Hartmann was my friend. She says very seriously, "I love her." It was so cute! I smiled and said, "I love her, too." Well, Edith couldn't have been happier. She said, "This is the reason why I come to church."

Human connection is so powerful. It changes peoples lives! I recently listened to a podcast where a Jesuit priest was explaining about living a life of purpose regardless of the cynicism of the day. He quoted Aristotle, who said, "The highest thing we can do is to discuss the Truth with our friends." It seems that human connection is the thing we crave the most. I think about you trying to find people to teach, how so many don't recognize the life changing message you have. I think a lot of that comes from not trusting other humans generally and why just plain old service (without any expectation of reward or response) to others softens hearts. Love and service opens the door to crusty, hard-hearted people, who really are just craving to have a meaningful human connection. Then if a connection is made, the truth can be discussed. It was this Jesuit priests' humble opinion that as we personally strive to be better, then reach out to others to form meaningful connections, than the cynicism and hostility of our era could be cured. This is true for Edith. She said that she wouldn't know what she would do if she didn't have the gospel, the church and the people in our ward. She was tracted into from missionaries and had been prepared in her own life to receive them. The missionaries are long gone and she is still here, living a changed life from their service. 

Never for one moment doubt that your time serving a mission is the best thing you could be doing right now. We know that one heart will be changed for sure, and that will be yours, but you may be surprised at how much of a difference you are making. Keep going, keep striving. There are so many people craving for Truth and not knowing where to find it. Look for the hand of the Lord in your life because He is always there, whether you recognize it or not. And when in doubt, serve.

Have a great week! (And don't forget your paperwork assignment for next week.)

I love you!

Mom

From Dad:

Hi Josh,

How goes the battle for good and evil in California? We are praying for you and your success daily. Learning to get along with your companion is great practice for marriage :)... When people ask us how Italy was going as a couple, we have to honestly tell them that we had a couple of days of getting synched up again. That involved a couple o f hard conversations about underlying tensions we had built up and not talked about. As hard as they are, we have to have those conversations that allow us to get our honest feelings out. That's not to say it can't be done skilfully and with the spirit of love and mostly with a desire on each other's part to understand the other person's point of view. Mom and I are getting better at this and it only took us a couple of hours to recover and were of course even stronger and more harmonized after.

It's been a good week despite trying to recover from jet lag. Just meant that I was up by 3 am every morning and couldn't hardly function after 8 pm!  Good way to get lots done in the morning, though!

We watched the face to face for youth with Elder Holland and Elder Eyring for joint activity this week. It was fun to watch them together and we were well instructed on the process of revelation and prayer. One of the answer's struck me quite strongly regarding how we approach God in prayer. Instead of seeing it as a casual chat, Elder Eyring warned that we need to approach the throne of God very respectfully and with reverence and awe at the greatness and glory of the Lord. He is a personal God, but also an all powerful all knowing God to whom we can petition for blessings.


I want you to know that through all the thick and thin there is a bigger plan. The Lord is aware of us intimately and he knows what experiences we need to help us grow. I encourage you to look for ways to lead out in your companionship, district and zone. As Mom mentions in her letter, look for ways to serve and lift burdens both with your fellow missionaries and with the people you meet and work with.

Over the past couple of days, Ben has been analyzing an interesting article about Globalization vs. Nationalism and I listened to a TED talk about the same topic this morning. The key take away for me is that there is a lot of unease and disconnectedness in the world today. People are struggling with identifying with something and trying to find their centers. The problem is that they are seeking it more often from the worldly answers which are never fixed and stable for long. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ gives is that rock we can build true peace and growth on. And you are sharing that every day. Stay strong and know that you are right where you should be. 

Love you lots.

Dad

From Josh:

This week we were able to find a new investigator, we had recently had a zone conference where we learned how we can magnify our calling as missionaries, we learned about how we can begin teaching more effectively, we were admonished to spend as much time in Preach My Gospel as possible during personal and companion studies. So I really delved into it, and I have been really trying to improve on my prayers because my companion downloaded the Elder Holland and Elder Eyering Face to Face and like you dad the thing that Elder Eyering said about prayers and being in the attitude of approaching the thrown of God really made an impact on me, so all these combined, better studies with more earnest prayers has brought a greater spirit into my life, so when we met with Melonie we really taught her in unity with the spirit and it definitely directed the conversation, so through that we were able to help her to understand why we were there and how we could help her the most, My favorite feeling being a missionary is when the spirit gives me exactly what to say, I speak with a confidence and power that I know comes from a being way greater and more powerful then me, though the power of the Godhead far exceeds our comprehension I am awed more and more by the mercy and love of God, and though the Holy Ghost has power to shake the earth it speaks in a still small voice, I am so thankful for the mercy of him who is mighty to save, he has blessed my life so much. I am so imperfect and I am learning more and more everyday that I need to trust in God. I have realized a little bit at least that this is Gods work, I mean I could say that before we have been told that all our lives but I haven't really realized what it means and I am still trying to figure it out, but I know that the Lord guides this work, that I can't do anything of myself. 
Another experience that happened to us this week. We were knocking doors as we usually do but we stopped and talked to an African American lady about the gospel sharing with here who we were and what we did as missionaries, she told us she was Jehovah's Witness but was open minded we shared a bit of the restoration with her and gave her a copy of The Book of Mormon and she told us that it was interesting because the night before she had been on Family Search learning about her family history because the Church had made it free, she was so excited about it that she had stayed up all night doing it, and she drew the conclusion that this was no coincidence, that we had been there at the exact moment we needed to be, she didn't want to set a return appointment but said she would read the book and find out more, God is directing his work. So remember to look for his purposes in everything and thank Him for the great opportunity to be part of his work. Especially all those who are planning on serving a mission, know that at times you will be weighed down with sorrow, grief and often feel overwhelmed, you will struggle to accept some leaders that may not seem to care about you, you will feel alone and powerless a guarantee you will, unless you look to God and learn to say "there is a purpose for this" God is preparing you for greater things, there may be times where you may not have any success as in baptisms look for the purpose of God.

Meals this week consist of Beef Jerky and granola bars, my companion and I are still working things out, something I have realized with two of my most recent companions have been very blunt they don't hold anything back, but whereas Elder Blodgett was pretty laid back about it, Elder Nelson is very reserved and holds back his feelings so I never know where I stand with him, its a great learning process and an answer to a prayer, because I prayed to get more patience and I am learning to be a lot more patient with everything. I am glad I can have this chance to develop a relationship better and like those hard conversations I really need to work of not letting things build up. 

I have learned that I love meals in members homes especially members who are open and can just say it how it is. there are a lot of members who just want to give us money and I always feel bad when I get it because I believe a meal is to get to know people when you have someone in your home its not just to feed them it is to get to know and develop a better relationship with that individual, and its kind of hard when its just a quick "Hey here is twenty bucks go treat yourselves to something, good bye..." Which doesn't make me feel good, I haven't gotten to know them better I haven't made a connection. but sadly there are a lot of single sisters in this ward who can't have us in so they give us money anyway. and even though they do every month I am low on MSF, I am definitely needing to work on my budgeting skills. :)

I love you all so much I hope this week is amazing, look for the tender mercies of the Lord and for what he is trying to teach you in this current faze of your life, and remember, "there is no growth in the comfort zone, and there is no comfort in the growth zone." we have been sent here to grow. so don't get comfortable. 

Love 

Josh.