Thursday, April 27, 2017

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. 




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