Friday, May 26, 2017

May 22, 2017 - Breath of Fresh Air

From Mom:

Dear Elder Smith,

It's that time of the year that we are happy to be alive. The sun is sunny, the leaves are out, the lilacs are starting to bloom, the birds are back from their southern migration and there are baby animals everywhere. Spring was late this year so we're extra happy because we had to wait for it. (Can you see Mia in the forest?)

Today we will be building rabbit hutches (the girls' project) because I made the mistake of taking them to see the baby bunnies at the Carlson's. We're getting four; two grey and two white. We'll keep them under the treehouse and, I suppose, the girls will have an added responsibility. Not such a bad thing.

Dad and I are currently on a supplies run for the garage, which we are starting in earnest. My Auntie Wendy is staying with us for a bit while she is between jobs and it sounds like she knows how to build one. Thankfully! (because we don't). Lol!

Dad and I have been out of our comfort zone for over a year now and it seems like we are getting better at it. Something we seem to say/do a lot now is, "When we're stuck, what CAN we do?" Usually there is always some small thing we can act upon. Here's a good example... I was really disappointed to realize we couldn't get a garden this year because our back yard is still torn apart with the septic issues we had over the winter, the ground sinking and piles of dirt are still waiting to be relocated to the driveway (that still needs to be built). I needed to plant this weekend but the ground just won't be ready in time. The septic mound is partially covering our old garden space. I was really disappointed, so Dad thought ... 'maybe I'll just text Nick (our new neighbour who bought the Milner's place) to see if he can bring his tractor over to rototill what's left of the old garden space. (One small thing he could act upon.) Poof! Nick came over the next day and now I have a garden space (small is better than nothing). And we got most of it planted already. I'm so happy!

On Saturday we spent the day with the Ames' for Campbell's graduation. Calvin and Campbell moved out and got their own place in Red Deer and scheduled to attend Red Deer College in the fall. Campbell is taking pre-med and Calvin is apprenticing to be a cabinet maker.

Sam also got his graduation certificate in the mail. I feel a little bad that we don't make a bigger deal of our graduation but not too bad. 😉 I'm super proud of my kids for not acting entitled. I have to say that grad is fun but the amounts of money spent on dresses and booze makes my head spin and I like the way our family does things.

Other than that, life is going along as it always does. I really loved our Mother's Day Skype. Dad recorded it so I was able to go back and listen again. I have to say that you look so fantastic. Happy. Glowing. Worthy. There is something in people's countenances when they partner with The Lord, and you got it. So happy.

My most recent Ponderize scripture...

... and I've been thinking a lot about things-to-ask-God and knowing that the purpose of prayer is to teach us how to align ourselves with His will. I've come to the conclusion that Heavenly Father wants us to be our best selves and anything that helps us develop and learn is worth asking for. I love how the Lord works with us as we strive. That daily effort is vital to our growth because it invites the Spirit on a consistent basis. Never underestimate the Spirit as a source of power and strength.

I hope you have a fantastic week, my boy. I sure love you. Keep working. Keep striving. Continue on the path. It's SO worth it. Return with honour.


From Josh:

Wow, so the news for this transfer is that I am leaving, I am going to Seco Canyon it is the ward right on the border with Saugus so I am basically going back to the same ward technically, same area same weather and its going to be Hot! Really looking forward to it though! My new companion is Elder Nelsons Old one and he loved him so I am really excited to figure things out with him. 

I don't really like change, but I have been feeling like it has been my time to go, I have fulfilled my purpose here and have learned what I needed to learn, it is interesting that I always know when I am leaving.

This past week was pretty great I was able to go on exchange with my district leader and we discussed and learned a lot together. There is a BYU devotional called "The Character of Christ by David A Bendar" which I highly recommend. 

We said a lot of Good byes to a few members in the ward, the people in these pictures I have learned to love so much.

I am super sad to be leaving this ward honestly, I have grown close to so many people, there are some who I will never forget and always treasure the time we had together, and I am looking forward to grow relationships with them even after my mission, I honestly am so humbled by how much love that I can feel for the people here in Tarzana. Relationships are something that we can take with us even after we die... few things in life really matter, all the money in the world will be gone, cars, toys, movies, video games, all that will waste away, but those few things that really matter are the relationships we develop, the knowledge we gain, and the people we are, and each one of the relationships I have gained here I hope to continue and grow on through the eternities. nothing is more important to me then that... though it is hard to stay focused on those things, in everything in life we need to have a focus on developing a relationship with Jesus Christ, when our center is Christ then everything falls into place, I think sometimes we forget that God wants to give us everything we need and he desires to grant us every righteous desire, I know that I have fallen into the trap of thinking that if I dedicate my life to Christ then I won't be able to do what I want to do or that I will be miserable when the path of Christ, but really that is the path to happiness, it may not be happy all the time and we will still experience pain and hardship but we would experience it either way and wouldn't you rather have Jesus Christ lifting you up throughout. 

Something that was interesting this week.
we were knocking doors and this lady opened up and said, "The sisters were here yesterday! but hold on I have something for you!" and so we were pleasantly surprised until she brought out that Million dollar bill, it is a known anti-mormon tool in the mission and a lot of missionaries have it because of this certain website. Anyway she started in hard core full basher mode she would not let us speak... this was on the exchange we were on and we were both Canadians (Elder Cardinal is from southern alberta)... so we couldn't get a word in edge wise as you can see in the picture it went over points such as how we believe that there are many gods, and how we believe we can become God, and how we believe Jesus Sweated for our sins (I do not know where that comes from but that isn't what we believe) and so on basically telling us everything we believe, and how the things on that paper must be our doctrine because it said right on it that we believed that stuff. so after thirty minutes she let us speak, but two words later she took our words and found fire anew (This is a basher method called Bounce boarding according to Elder Smiths "Bashing 101") 
anyway we finally had to tell her that we had an appointment at that moment that we had to go to and turned and started walking away mid sentence... it may sound rude but there are times when that is needed, as we walked away she walked with us and continued to talk and bash us, we crossed the street and she didn't follow but continued to tell us her opinion on mormons until we walked out of range of her voice. 
Key to remember to all those planning on serving a mission: Do not Bash back, it only fuels further debate and the spirit of contention is of Satin, Pure heartfelt testimony is the only way to share our view according to the spirit, the Lord has said you cannot teach unless it is by the spirit. So gain a testimony, learn to love the Gospel and discover for yourself the things which God has restored in our time. 

I love you all.

Elder Joshua Smith

About the pictures.

1. Picture with Julie and Jade Ryser, two outstanding women 

2. Me and the Smith's in our ward

3. me and Bishop and sister Yang.

4. Anti mormon material that I studied out and answered in the bible a few points

5. My Companion Elder Nelson

P.S. I will try to get a scan of my passport and that picture, could mom send that page again because it came in that blurry, it wasn't the scan.

P.P.S. I will be emailing Tuesday next week because its memorial day Monday.

May 14, 2017

From Dad:

Mothers Day Call Recording

From Josh:

I honestly have trouble writing my email the day after we talk, there was so much I wanted to say to you all when we were face to face, Remember to read the scriptures every day, to grow your faith and testimony in the Atonement of Jesus Christ, learn of him, and be an example of the believers, a good read for Ben and Sam would be Gospel Principles on Priesthood Organization it helped me to learn simply the duties of each of the callings of the Priesthood, and so when you read up on it, look for what you can do to be better in each of our individual duties.

From Dad:

Loved talking to you yesterday. Make it an amazing 6 months!

Any other kinds of pics you can send? Members? Investigators? I assume you are taking more pics than what you send home...

Love you! Have a great week!


From Josh:

actually to be completely honest, I really suck at taking pictures. I will try to do better. :) any tips?

From Dad:

Take pictures of things that will bring back memories. My most cherished ones were of companions (which you have plenty of) investigators/members/new members I worked with and then key places I spent a lot of time in.

It's definitely not the highest priority, but I really enjoyed putting key ones in my journal and they bring back good memories.


May 8, 2017 - Weekly Email

From Dad:

Hi Josh,

Hoping I'm not to late to send you a quick word on the latest happenings!

Biggest news is the fantastic weather! It feels like summer out here and we love it! 

The girls can't get enough of playing outside which is what we always wanted of course!

We can finally park in the yard again and are making arrangements to have the driveway put in and the garage materials delivered.

Don't worry though, there will still be plenty of projects left for you to help me with when you get home :)

This week my ponderize scripture is the one below. I love the idea that the Lord can turn anything towards the welfare of my soul if I do my part.

Yesterday we had the chance to go into see the Edmonton Youth Symphony composed and conducted by Michael Massey, Ben's super mentor in Edmonton for piano. It was quite impressive and "enriching" vs. just entertaining like a movie might be.

I've been recently listening to a podcast about WW 1 and it is crazy to think how horrific and life altering that war was. Kids younger than you marching as to war full of adventure and excitement only to be mown down by the 100's of thousands and eventually millions over desire for power and nationalistic pride. Makes me more grateful for the free countries we live in. It's that freedom that allows us to have and share this gospel.

I've been thinking how I can be a better sharer of the gospel and though I'm not as bold as I should be, having you on a mission and Sam preparing for a mission provides some pretty good conversations with people at work. I've been trying hard to open the door for them to ask more and sometimes they do!

Sam wrote his SAT (he probably wrote about that already) and thinks he did ok. Math of course was a challenge. Makes me wish I had done a better job with you guys growing up introducing you to math in  better way. Hoping I can make restitution at least a little with the girls!

Have you had a chance to read your Patriarchal blessing lately? I was thinking a couple of days ago that its been a little too long since I read mine. Take some time to review it if you haven't and I will to!

Abby won an award at festival along with Ben. Attached a pic.

All and all, life is pretty great. So glad to belong to a gospel of progression and agency. Have a great week of choices and experiences!



From Josh:

I am continually trying to be a better missionary. 

Recently we have had a few changes in the mission, there was a music rule initiated and we need presidents permission for service and a few other things, at first I really struggled with feeling like we are descending into the Law of Moses for this mission where we apparently don't know how to govern ourselves so more and more rules are being set in place. But I have been seeking to humble myself and accept the will of God, if it is his will that we should live more strict then I will follow, so that is one ways I am trying to be better at. 

We had this lesson with one of our investigators who is really smart, she is in a magnet which is pretty much advanced learning for the super smart over here. So her intellectual mind at times over complicates things, she asked a lot of things about truth and prophets then we talked about how repentance is only possible through the atonement and she posed the question. Why? Why do we need the atonement to repent. and I have been wondering about that, when we left the lesson I left with the determination to learn more of the atonement.
We knocked into one lady who started yelling at us that we were brainwashed, and that we needed to study all religions so that we would know which one was true, we tried explaining but she wouldn't let us continually telling us that we were brainwashed, and my encouragement to all of you is to make sure that you don't "Brainwash" yourselves in the sense that we don't ask questions that we don't strive to learn more about what we do believe, but also having faith in what we already know and be excited to grow. There was this woman we talked to that we taught about the restoration and the spirit was so strong and I was for sure that she would want to learn more, but instead she turned away saying she was comfortable where she was at. Do we feel like we are comfortable where we are at in our testimony? in our conversion? in our dedication to the Lord? are we comfortable in what we know and not willing to learn more? In this church we believe in all truth wherever it is found, if another person discovers something we don't know then we will take that and build upon it and be better for it, so continually discover the scriptures, learn from our leaders, ask questions that will build your testimony and never be comfortable where you are at. But take caution as well and remember before you doubt your faith, doubt your doubts, Questions are wonderful doubts are debilitating, and over all things pray about everything, because all truth comes from God. 
From Dad:

Did you accidentally send before the letter was done :)

Look like it ended abruptly :)

You gotta love how many different view points are out there. The diversity and power of agency are everywhere evident and the patience you show will both respect their agency and win their hearts as much as their minds, Josh.

Love you tons!


From Josh:

Haha sorry, that was an accident. 

Life has been good to me, Though at times i feel as if I am in a balancing act where I wrestle with my own natural man being impatient and lonely and prideful, all these things make it hard for the spirit to communicate and feel the spirit, so  I am working continually to master myself in these aspects and have been going to a lot of prayer and scripture study to accomplish it. I love seeing the continual blessing the Lord pours on my head though I often feel undeserving. 

Next week is mothers day. We should be able to Skype around 1:30-2 would that work for you? I don't know what time that is your time.

May 1, 2017 - Life

From Joshua:

Not a lot happened this week, we have pretty much dropped everyone of the people we usually go by so we have had to get a little more inventive with our time, all in all just the riggers of missionary work setting in, it is to be expected, some weeks will be amazing and some weeks will really suck, and others will just be like limbo, you will be doing all you can and yet time goes by with nothing... at least nothing noticeable going on. 

We did have one person who seemed pretty solid, we found her a while ago and this week taught her the message of the restoration, the spirit was there and she could feel the power of the truth, we set another appointment for friday and came back super excited and super prepared to teach a great lesson, she had even kept her commitment to read from the Book of Mormon, but after she told us that she said that she was really comfortable where she was at, and didn't want to change, it is always sad when someone can feel the truth and the power of our antimony and yet still reject the message of the gospel. 
We had a similar experience with a referral where she was really interested in the message of the gospel and we shared the restoration and after we finished she simply said that she was not interested. 

All the different experiences, On Sunday we had a chance to listen to a baby blessing from one of the Cannons one of their extended family is Elder Baxter of the general authority seventies. So we got to talk with him for a while. 

Nothing too much really to report this week, didn't really celebrate or tell anyone about my birthday because I hate getting stuff or praise from others from me complaining or trying to draw attention to myself, I made a casual comment about it to an elder for district meeting and it just blew up and everyone kept telling me happy birthday, anyway, there are those times in life that may seem like limbo, but if we put trust in God things will get better.

This week there has been a lot of talk about the end of times, how things just keep getting worse I have said this before but California is a very very worldly place, and for a while people have been talking about how it is only getting worse, life is pretty messed up for a lot of people and we need to be centered on our faith in Jesus Christ and the gospel to be able to last through this time, The scriptures talk about it as being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine and in this day where men will be murderers and revilers and without natural affection with the eat drink and be merry attitude we cannot afford to be tossed, we must not look beyond the mark or get distracted by menial things, because the moment we do we will be thrown, kind of like what happens when you just stick your foot in the water on one of Uncle Dave's tube rides. as long as you are firmly planted and holding on with your might you will be safe, so don't falter. 

I love you all 


From Dad:

Hey Josh,

Not sure if Mom sent off an email, but sure are proud of you and love that you are persevering through the "dry spells". It's the little things that count. In Stake Conference this week, our new Stake Presidency taught an analogy of gospel living and compared it  the roots, trunk, branches and fruit of a tree. They compared the small simple things of the gospel like scriptures, prayer, church etc. to drip irrigation. Consistent drops yield results and fruit over time both in life and in missionary work.

Based on the pictures your sending home, I think you spend alot of time in the car :)


From Mom:

Sorry, Josh! I always try really hard to be available when your email comes but I was in an appointment this time.

I also talked to Kurri for 2 hours this morning. I just have to wonder sometimes why life is so hard for some people. Despite her challenges she always turns to the Lord and uncomplainingly faces difficulties. She is such an inspiration to me. Anyway, this is why I didn't email you this morning. Crazy life.

I sure love you though. Keep your head up and striving.