So my second day in Oakdale was actually in Derrider because the next day was district meeting down there, and it took an hour to drive so we stayed with Elder Toone who is the one on top (he is 18) being trained by Elder Gillan who is on the bottom
Dear Friends and Family,
I have been transferred, despite what I thought, and it's in the middle of nowhere with just me and my companion in Oakdale, and several hours worth of driving to see other missionaries or go to district meeting or P-Day and today due to lack of miles (we have 1300 but it takes 250 to get to Baton Rouge and back) we will be staying solo with one another and be biking like we ain't got no car.
I am happy though, my new Companion Elder Hepworth is a super cool guy who is from Gilbert, Arizona, who is super duper sweet and kind to me. He is lovable and super country, this little town is just like Hyrum, so thankfully before I left I got in touch with my country side, so this feels real good up here (Alexandria zone is quite north of where I was). I will be taking over the area in a short 5 weeks because this transfer is a shortened one due to MTC scheduling and what not; and Elder Hepworth goes home this next transfer in November, so I get to kill him (which is what we say when we are the last companion :-)and then figure out this crazy spread out tiny little area/branch. I am a little bit stressed, but certainly not unprepared.
Thompsons and Gardiners
Random pic of me and Elder Larkin
Thompsons and Gardiners
President Monson in priesthood session really gave me the hope that I can be like my Savior and do the work that He wishes me to do, so I am not afraid. I have been sick since I got here with a wicked cold, but don't you all worry because I like all these trials! Anything that the Lord will give unto me, I will praise him forever and ever because he loves me and this will all be for my good. My district is quite fun, considering that Leesville and Deridder are the only sisters (Deridder got split off from the Leesville sisters this transfer so they just opened the new area. One of my old district members from the MTC Sister Neely is now training and opening this new area so WOW) Then we have a Senior couple here in Oakdale by the name of Hastings and Leesville has the Bibles (yep, that's their last names).
I am glad that my little sister enjoyed the alligator head I sent home, because I didn't want it to get broken! Think about this, that there is a grand wonderful and powerful Being full of truth and Light who is perfect who loves each and every one of His creations, including a little young missionary like me, and all of you back at home. No matter how little you think you are now, there is eternal capabilities that you can fulfill if you can but Hope for a better world :)
I met a little Methodist Lady named Lillie Bradley today with the Hastings and she is holding her 17th year of Christmas Pageants this year for Christmas where she gathers all the different denominations and churches (which are A LOT) including us to be in it and to be in the nativity story. I will be a wiseman and a shepherd and Elder Hepworth won't even be here. Elder Hastings will be Herod and Sister Hastings will be singing a solo as the lead angel praising Christ, SO YEA I AM PUMPED! I guess the Lord sent me here because I have a bit of theatre experience, I will have pictures and videos I am sure when it gets there so be excited!
I am still driving, which is not too terrible and Elder Larkin has a new companion named Elder Jenson who is a visa waiter who is leaving for Brazil in two weeks then Elder Larkin will get another companion which I though was weird, but God is the great orchestrater and I but an instrument in his symphony of faith and grace.
At first when I found I was leaving my dear Albany, I was upset and then as I learned I was going to the very place I didn't want to go (because I had heard from Larkin and Smiley and others who served) Oakdale, and that is was the most difficult and trying areas where only "certain" missionaries go, I was disappointed and thought to myself, "What have I done Lord?", and the talk "Lord is it I?", from priesthood session, truly spoke to me. I will not be the betraying disciple, and will not give in to the dark feelings of the Adversary. The Hope is that If I do as I am commanded in sharing the gospel with every soul I see that the work will move forward, this is not my work nor my mission it is the Lord's to bring others immortality and eternal life.
Lynlee and Patrick Thompson
One last one of me and Stephens and McEntire
I have started to find real happiness in forgiving others and forgiving myself, as I have been reading -The Miracle of Forgiveness- by Spencer W. Kimball. I have felt the love of God coming to shine in my eyes. To really forgive in any way in every form to be as Jesus Christ, always full of Mercy, is the way that we can obtain our own mercy, that by our judgments of others shall we be judged. I had a hard time focusing the mornings of conference sessions due to being sick and thus being exhausted, but I do remember the Spirit speaking to me as if a man to his friend. I was happy to know that by working hard and doing all we can both in thought and in deed we can never ever be failures. It is our Father in Heaven who matters most, our pride may blind us to think others opinions of us matter, but in our eternal lives, only the Christ and our Father will truly see us as we are. We have to give up who we are for what we can become. I know this gospel to be true, that every single one of those men and women who have spoken are inspired and their words are now scriptures to be heeded strictly and promptly. We should ever strive to be as the Savior said, to be meek and lowly in heart, offering up our broken hearts and our contrite spirits always growing closer to our family on earth and in heaven. Love unconditionally and give without restraint, read the scriptures often and treasure and ponder them in your hearts in every minute of each day, and the Adversary will have no power.
God is a true and living God full of love and mercy, we are to be molded in our afflictions not destroyed by them, we came to be tested so face those tests and trials with courage knowing we are the Children of God and thus we can do all things if it be through Jesus our Lord and Savior. He is the Messiah, He is Real, His Atonement is Real, with it we can be forgiven, we can change ourselves. Change and Forgiveness are the greatest gifts that our Father has given to us in regard to using our Agency. We must choose and then we can obtain that which is the sweet fruit of the tree of live, which is the word of God to lead us unto Christ for the obtaining of Eternal Life. I say all these things in Jesus Christ's name Amen.
-Elder Joshua Dean Rush.