Dearest brothers and sisters,
This will probably be my last letter home before the glorious day that I come to see you all in person. I am very nervous all of a sudden, and I don't have any idea what I am really going to write. I don't know if it's going to be meaningful but I really hope that I can be.
I want to share with you all an overview of my mission based on Areas and Companions, the lessons I learned from each one of them, I won't include anything negative so if it seems so I truly didn't mean it, but these are the mighty spiritual truths the Lord has shown unto me whilst serving here in Louisiana.
First I will start off with all my areas.
Albany: This was my very first area and a very large ward, though at the time I didn't notice and lots of people were missing, but I was told later that the numbers were skyrocketing after I had gone. I baptized my first convert there in that tiny town, Nikki Horton!! best cook in all of Louisiana, hands down! I also learned that when you work for the Lord, Satan fights early to destroy you. :) But Christ delivers his saints.
Oakdale: Well MERCY, I can't tell you how much I learned form Oakdale, I learned about looking for the small miracles and how to survive near death and keep moving forward! Lots of long-suffering, key on the suffering, but really all of my fondest most tender moments were in that small branch, with Elder Barker, my boy, and the Hastings, my adopted grandparents :D. I had a lot of fun here, and I saw the work take off like I never thought it would, and the fruits I never saw but the joy I surely tasted. It was hard, it was long, but it was worth each second!
Amite: Woo more tiny branch love here, made some amazing friends here in Amite, non-members, members, and missionaries alike, I would say this time was the most miraculous, due to the fact that it was here that the Lord saw fit to take away my depression. One day I woke up and it was just gone after many fasts and prayers. Plus I learned how to be healthy and physically fit here, which I will soon be implementing full force at home because I will be honest my clothes don't fit and I'm 195 lb's SOOO ya. I learned that love comes when you ask God for it :)
DeRidder: I learned that trials suck, but when you get ridiculed and railed on, sometimes it turns out when you leave, everyone loves you instead. I learned in a short time how to become bold and testify of truth. Also we had a party, and I ate an Armadillo, so if I have leprosy I know it's source! hahaha. Good times.
Natchitoches: Some times even when you're doing good, you end up in trouble and ET'd, but hey I baptized a girl here too, Sarah Turner. Biked in freezing cold moisture and wind, and even went to some college football games. Enjoyed the real spirit of Christmas, and learned that when sorrow takes over your whole life and it literally feels hopeless, you can still get a new apartment and God still loves you, so it ends up ok. Some of my closest people live here and I am excited to return, maybe even someday for another baptism of a miracle man.
Plaquemine: Out of all my areas I learned the most about Patience here in Plaquemine, about working at the right time in the right place, and for the very right reason of the Love of God. I have seen so much success and I won't be here but some more people should enter the covenant waters. I have made so many many close friends as I have taught the gospel, and it seems like even when I feel like nothing is amounting, miracles pour from heaven in this place. This is where I knew that my long hard mission had truly been received by the Lord and that all of my efforts and patience and kindnesses and even my weaknesses were all for the betterment of me. Here is where I saw the hand of God touch each day. :)
oh here is some service pics, Sisters Mcbride and Fristoe, and me and Hendricks, for Sister Tingle who recently lost her husband. We love her, so we did her yard work hardcore in the heat!!!!!!
Larkin: the best trainer handssss down, he taught me how to work hard.
Hepworth: he taught me how to not be critical and to not care what others think!
Barker: he showed me how to love and what pure friendship and brotherhood was, also my love of the scriptures came with him.
Anderson: Exercise, and especially tender compassion.
Staley: How to laugh more, and work hard, and prioritize, and see the people as they are.
Ralph: Absolutely how to have fun and gain great understanding, Some solid Unity and how to learn best.
Allen: He honestly taught me how to be a good Councillor and dad, and that the need to relax was a great need indeed. Also optimism and big smiles.
Carter: So much love and understanding and excitement and suffering but also persevering and integrity and how to progress and self control.
Jensen: 2 Weeks is enough time to bond :)
Rogers: How to be patient, and how to love no matter what, see through God's eyes. Also how to be independent.
Hendricks: How to console, how to bond, how to keep moving forward.
Lots of lessons indeed, also some pics from my b-day, LOVE Y'ALL SEE YOU SOON
-Elder Joshua Dean Rush