Saturday, September 27, 2014

ER Visits and Étouffée

September 22, 2014
Josh has been out for 3 months!

Hello Friends and Family,
    I am doing well and what not. Nikki has got everything set up for this Saturday at 1 PM and I am super excited to either baptize her or confirm her. They didn't make it to church yesterday but it must have been a good reason because we still haven't gotten a hold of them and she isn't the kind to make excuses. Leonard Smith is going well, except we couldn't get him a ride to church this last week because he is handicapped and the van available, we forgot to call the member who has it..He likes our visits but continues to be sick and we keep trying to visit every other week or so and help them back to the fold. For the Zone P-day we played Frisbee outside, but to tell you the truth, that was insane because our team was way short and it was, I am guessing, around 99 degrees outside and wetter than a pond. I almost died in my little polar bear body. We then went inside and had the most amazing rounds of California Style dodge ball (one ball, one victor) with my brother Elder Barker being awesome as ever! He is up in Liberty Mississippi and got trained by Elder Larkin as well (thus my brother). So that was an amazing day and then the rest of the week pretty much got CRAZY. 
   We had so many people go to the hospital and get hurt and our poor Albany sisters, while they were parked, got nailed by a truck cutting across the gas station parking lot and had to go to the ER. That was Monday night right after Nikki's last lesson and we still didn't have our car back from the shop but Chris (her returning husband) took us straight there and we saw and talked to president Hansen and the office Elders, gave blessings and all the works. They hurt now, especially sister McEntire, who went into shock and got flung around the most (they didn't have seat belts on because they were parked and got hit at 40 MPH or more) But they, by the power of God, have been preserved and are not hurt so that is good business. The rest of the week was just ups and downs with all the other missionaries, with one thing or the other and me sitting back wondering how it isn't me having a hard time like usual; but being able to try and help, but mostly I focus on the work and do what I am told. I really have grown to love my mission president as he has dealt with so much and is still new and figuring things out, but he is doing what is right and he is an amazing guy!!

    We went to a Recent Converts (name is jag) junior high football game in Denim Springs one day (his dad is an investigator so this was for trust) and it rained and rained and the poor kids didn't do to well but it was a nice experience. It was especially nice because Brother Landry who is Jag's grandfather took us out to dinner at like 8:30 but it was so worth being late and the Zone Leaders were notified as well. Anyway we went to Don's seafood and were treated to anything we wanted (everything was so expensive..) but I had fried oysters and normal oysters and fried alligator and fried catfish and craw-fish 
Étouffée and fried shrimp and GOODNESS it was the most wonderful dinner I will ever remember in my life. I have tried all kinds of southern stuff now and feel extremely accomplished and at the time I felt extremely full. When it comes to progress it has mostly been personal this week rather then with anyone we are teaching so I am sorry for the boring and short letter.
Had the awesome experience of getting Facebook pics of Josh
this week! This is at Nikki Horton's house....the hats are awesome and such cute kids!!

    I have learned that deep doctrine is useless and unneeded. The gospel is simple and easy and oriented on feelings and change of heart, of which is not obtained from extended studies of things not pertaining to salvation. I have learned to have gratitude for any circumstance and to find joy in every moment that I can by trying to labor exceedingly to help and love others. It works, I just feel so very emotionally sound and strong, that Satan no longer has power over my mind or my emotions like in times past. Christ truly can change us, and it is through His atonement that change is wrought upon us. I witnessed a baptism by the hands of the Amite Elders in our district this Saturday and it was so nice to see the full affects of hard work and care no matter how "difficult" any area might be. Gratitude is the law that can govern the outcome of any unfortunate thing, when we thank the Lord for them, he will give us opportunity to grow, because afflictions are for our good. Selfless acts of any kind or nature bring others unto repentance and are a symbol of our own personal repentance. That is what every thing is about, it's about changing and becoming perfect. To know the Atonement, to feel it, to suffer through with it, to love Him who performed it.
 I am really super happy and to tell you the truth I don't think that will change if I remember God who has given me all and remember meekness and temperance. I love you all, keep on moving toward the goal. Eternal Life.
Elder Joshua Dean Rush

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I am driving!!!! and I love these people....

Group pic from the temple trip, from Elder Larkin's camera

September 15, 2014

Dear Family and Friends,
   I hope with all the letters in the mail that I am sending that they are all arriving to you safely and promptly. Also shout out to my sisters Morgan, Sarah and Abby for being awesome!!! 
   So this week I decided I want to be a scholar of Religion and probably a seminary teacher, doctor sounds nice, and makes good money, but suddenly nothing is really about money anymore. Being down here where so many people have nothing (except a ford mustang in their yard, yeah I don't understand that either) I really wonder at the state of the world, and it saddens me to see so many souls wander about in the mists of darkness. Stay on the path everyone okay?! You do not want to have to deal with me, I am a bold bold missionary, I tell them what is and how to obtain what they want and invite often, so don't think you can slide off the path while I am watching.  ;-)
    My favorite things this week are, USU, MLP (My Little Pony), and the 2nd general epistle of Peter! Yay for those things and such. I had quite the interesting week, usually when I would get upset, I would cry or be sensitive to things, but as of recent, I merely get frustrated and angry, usually focused at myself for actually feeling angry, so that is an interesting trial for the sensitive cry-baby child; but thankfully Christ has my back in everything. My calling in this life was no coincidence, I was elected in the Pre-Mortal existence to do what I am now doing, and so I continue to search for the purpose of my life through faith and obedience that the Father hath given me. I can attain so much and this life is so little in the grand scale of time in eternity, but I will continue to magnify as best I can for all of you back at home relying on my strength and service for your support.
His inspirational motto this week

    Nikki will be getting baptized on the 27th of this month of September, and what an amazing gift I get to witness for the first time in my relatively short amount of life!!! Her son Caleb is 7 and is already peaking interest in all the things we have taught, and so the gospel in that family reverberates and is filling them so quickly. Elder Larkin and I continue to be polar opposites in perfect unity, and to tell you the truth, loving him feels pretty dang good y'all. As I have studied the doctrines of Salvation and Exaltation in the scriptures, I came to find again that my name Joshua means - God Is Hope - and it really intrigued me that I had always struggled with Hope for myself, or otherwise in any self-confidence, but as I have worked, now I believe, it to be one of the strongest qualities The Father has blessed me with.
   Study the scriptures and your Patriarchal blessing (if you have received one) the path is clear, but the efforts of us as saints never ever stop. I love these people not merely because I teach and deal and ponder on them, but because I know who I am finally as Christ's little brother, I am coming to know the realities of Him and His divinity in my life. How I can better use what I read and become like those of whom I admire, from the Record of the Jews (The Bible), the Nephites (The Book of Mormon) and of those in my life. Music is an important tool, use it as the Spirit guides your feelings. Trust often the Spirit, and dampen not his gentle caress. I am happier today than yesterday and have found myself closer to God as well. Slow to be angry and quick to forgive is the Savior's call, and to give up everything in his name, even family, money, occupation. The more you do so in these the latter days, you will find the peace no other entity can give but that of Jesus Christ.
Another one of me, Sisters Stephens and Mcentire, cause we tight, and specialized training was really really good for that week.

    Make yourselves sure upon the rock. I cannot say how many times I have fallen in my feelings, yet the Savior has lifted me up out of these feelings of despair and frustration, Miracles happen each day, people are found in every corner and are curious to learn. Leonard Smith is still reading his Book of Mormon in spite of his Preacher's warnings, and we are still visiting him and he will attend church this week.
    We have a zone p-day where everyone is coming to our building today to have the most fun, and I am excited to be with my fellows who teach. Grow as much as you can, if you are my friend, find Christ, where he goes not many follow, but me and my house, we will follow Him. Remember that modesty and meekness are the stepping stones to Virtue which in turn leads to Charity which is our goal. To fulfill the covenant of Abraham and be as the Sons and Daughters of God. I love you all so very very much and miss you daily, but I cannot return until my work is completed.
Love always,
-Elder Joshua Dean Rush
OH P.S. I am driving because Elder Larkin got red dotted (unable to drive for his mission) by hitting a pole, and have almost been dying in this new environment, please tell everyone to pray for me! I suck at driving (especially here and in the city) but don't worry I'm doing better than a few weeks ago (driving for like a month). Hopefully, the cost will be low enough to un red dot him which should be...anyway yeaaaaa.

So this was an added on part of his letter and I'm not sure if I was supposed to share it, but yeah, I am, so hoping that's ok :-) And while I'm adding on...A few weeks ago I told him that we are selling his car and his response was so funny that I've decided to add that on here too! ;-)

That news about my car causes sorrow in my heart, though I do grow a greater appreciation down here for nice tires ("hoopdies" as they are called are crazy ghetto cars with sick wheels/rims) and nice sound systems with lots of bass, so maybe I will have to make my own ghetto southern rider.  :-)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

We Mormons Are A Peculiar People....


September 8, 2014

Dear Friends and Family,

   This week has been pretty much the most insane week ever. We had district meeting like usual, but afterwards I went home with Elder Smiley to go on an exchange up in Amite, and it was crazy! I love the missionaries up there, we all had so much fun and I just loved that little city to death after I left. I ended up teaching an investigator and helping them get another investigator (who was the first investigator's wife) and now they are teaching her, so I feel totally involved. They have like the nicest apartment with huge rooms and 2 bathrooms just, so you all are aware, but all in all it was a pretty great place.
   On the first day, we had dinner at a member's house whose name is Tanya Grice, and I would kindly say we got along quite well, she is a bit crazy and a lot of fun. She is rough around the edges, but has seen some major trials in her life, one of which is losing her son at 3; and this last week on Wednesday was his 5th birthday, so we helped with the little memory party at his grave-site. She also has a missionary who is out in Colorado, so anyone out in Colorado better be treating them missionaries real nice like, okay?
   On one of the days (I was gone until Friday) I met a sweet black member women by the name of Sister Manning, and she boosted my confidence pretty much through the roof. She told me how warm I was, how smart, how funny, etc. etc. It's good to know I don't suck sometimes, ya know? Her husband and her have been together 10 years, but not actually literally married through the law. They are both disabled and unable to work as much as they used to (they are in the upper 60's I think) so they get SSI for both of them, separate instead of as a couple, so they don't want to lose that. Hopefully, some kind of Common law exists that will help that, because they really want to get to the temple after Jerry (her husband) gets baptized. That was a dang good visit.
   Sister Stephens is an excellent friend and will be going home this transfer, so that is a bummer, but her new trainee. I imagine. is more stressed out to take over an area and continue to be trained by someone brand new, all in all, I really love our district and pretty much every single person in Hammond and Albany district are like my bestest of friends.

Our District
Me and Elder Smiley and then Sisters Stephens and Plumb photobombing perfectly!

   I sound a bit casual in this email which, I apologize for, I have just been trying to think of something truly amazing to write about. Nikki Horton came to church again this week and next week will be staying for all 3 hours, she is well on her way for baptism at the end of this month on the 20th. Her kids are rambunctious but in sacrament they are so good and behave quite well and enjoy the service, so the primary and such will be getting some awesome new kiddos! Yesterday, one of our investigators, Susan Strahan, tried to drop us! We were like oh nononono that's not gonna happen. We continued to ask her questions and she really just thought her church and ours were the same belief system (Christ oriented) but then Elder Larkin just went all bold and said we are the only church with the proper Authority to act in the Priesthood and so that's why we have prophets and that's why we are here teaching you and now she is gonna pray all about it and we are excited to see the results! She prayed for us and afterwards we told her about how we have a certain Shawn and Simon Ingram in our ward and apparently her husband and her know them way great and he might even come to church this week!!! SO MUCH PROGRESS, I really like the Ingrams they are pretty great and now they just done did good.

 Elder Smiley and Myers (they have like adopted me into there missionary line?)

 Our whole family, Elder Rush, Elder Hillam, Elder Smiley, Elder Myers

   We Mormons are a peculiar people brothers and sisters, and because we are such, we must act in accordance with our peculiarity. We love Our Father in Heaven and know His Savior Jesus Christ. People see our countenance and know of our good works, let us be worthy of that countenance in Christ always. It isn't easy to be obedient to every single command God asks of us, but if we are to obtain all that our Father hath and stand side by side with our Savior, then we must put away our natural thoughts and tendencies and ascend to the level of our Father. I know scripture study and even prayer may be difficult to do each and every day, but it is crucial and in order for us to be happy, my loved ones, we must search ponder and pray continuously so that in our hearts we have changed to act accordingly to the laws of the Gospel in harmony with our Ordinances we have partaken of. I love you all so dearly, and the worth of souls in my eyes are great, especially unto y'all who are my dearest and closest friends and family, and The Kingdom can only be complete with all of you there.
-Elder Joshua Dean Rush.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

I love to see the Temple....

Sister McEntire on the Left and Stephens on the right

September 1, 2014
Dear Friends and Family,

    Thank you for your continued support whether it be in physical representations or your prayers. I can feel the love that emanates in my heart, when I pray for each of you of whom I care so deeply for. I feel that you are also praying for me and I know that some of you may or may not actually, but your thoughts and prayers are sent my way, and I feel the warmth every time, so thank you. I have recovered from my sickness, and I am up and kicking just as hard as I was before, nothing can keep me down for too long anyways. I hope each of you remembers most of all I love you so much, so ya, just so you know.
   Well, I have been enjoying all the new changes from transfers, the new Amite sisters are pretty great, and Sister Stephens is a great missionary who unfortunately is going home after this transfer, so her poor trainee has to be follow up trained (Sister Plumb) but hopefully the new pick up in the work will help that whole situation. Also, My good friend, Elder Brown and Elder Whittier (who both came out with me) are now companions in Hammond due to the fact their trainers both have busted wrists and can't bike, so they swapped the trainees, both into the area where they could bike so it's stressful and hilarious at the same time for Elder Brown. They get to train each other, those lucky dogs, I am not jealous of their new found situation.
I slowly attack Elder Larkin

 Elder Rush and Elder Larkin

    Nikki Horton finally came to church! She listened to my talk and brought her whole family minus her husband who had to work! I WAS PUMPED UP, pretty much best Sunday out here so far, just saying. She is continuing to take lessons which we are now wrapping up here soon, and if she keeps coming to church baptism is imminent, so that's some pretty darn great flipping news. We had a less active, Leo Smith, drop us the other day. His church he is going to now built him a ramp and also has been telling him stuff about not joining us so that sucks. We can still visit, but it won't be pushing for coming to church or going to the Temple any time soon. How sad right? but it's alright.
   We had the most insane storm the other rained buckets upon buckets of water, and the best part is we went to the Aultmans to go help build them a shed outside, and hopefully get the roof on before it rained...nope. We were in pouring rain for like 3 hours and that was invigorating (it was finally somewhat cool and I was a happyish camper). Another bit of good news we had yesterday, while Amite Elders were staying the night like usual on Mondays, we had our air conditioner break and so I could not sleep last night in the 85 degree four man huddle of pain in a fire swamp. It's okay though, I only felt like I was gonna die like twice over the whole night, and eventually passed out because I was so exhausted. HOORAY for good news.

Temple Trip

    Okay more good news, here it comes, We got to finally go to the Baton Rouge Temple the other day!! I got lots of pictures, and for those of you wondering what the color is, it's olive greenish color, it's way pretty. It's small and there is no baptismal font basement (but it is lower) I'm thinking they can't put basements in Baton Rouge because it's lower than the water table :-)but it was freakin sweet! I got me some good peace of mind there and I was stoked about the pictures and being there the first time, so ya that was a dang good day. If you aren't thinking of a mission ladies and gents, then I admonish you to seek instead for the temple, the blessings held within are of crucial importance and give a unique sense of peace. It is the house and sanctuary of our Father in Heaven, there is no where else better for you to be in this world. Seriously though Temple=Super Revelatory=Jesus=Happy life. Y'all remember that pattern now mmk.
That's me happy and super excited about my new Brigham Young book that came in the mail and the sad one is Elder Larkin threatening to burn it. lol

 Me Posing

    Missionaries around me and around the mission are struggling with all kinds of things, so please continue to pray for them. As I continue to stay diligent, and to seek for my talents and abilities to give the Lord on this mission, I come to realize I have come to lift other missionaries more than any other thing. I simply do not have the trials and baggage that I had in the past, my anxiety, depression and ADHD are seemingly healed. My temperance is lighter, and my soul is ever in a lighthearted fullness of joy invigoration. I do not know why the Lord has taken those trials away, and why all of this mission seems to be indeed difficult but nothing of which I cannot bare, but I know it is for a wise purpose and, therefore, I must use it to the best I can. Hasten the work brothers and sisters. It is our duty.
    I love Isaiah and 2 Nephi. That's all I have to say. Y'all read it, it's amazing.
I love you all so very much and hope you the best.
-Elder Joshua Dean Rush