So I am including the first part of his letter to me because it details his P-day better:
Dear mom, sorry p-day is late today because we went and did service all day at the Deville's home. They were the members whose house was burned down, so we scavenged and cleaned and got all the copper and metal and anything else valuable and had lunch so that was awesome. Totally worth the p-day because the Zone leaders in Pineville and the Alexandria Elders who live with them came to help, they are some of the bestest friends haha.
Dear Friends and Family,
Given the Special time of season I want this letter to be of great importance, and Hope if you read my emails that you will understand and feel this one especially. I can honestly say that I truly love Christmas time now as I find the purpose in it's celebration, oftentimes I get down at this time of year for no particular reason, and this year was no different. Except! That it was different in the most significant and also very small ways. I learned a new concept of love I had never supposed. That love is an object of great worth in both God and mans eyes, and yet it is shown very differently. Surely we feel loved when we receive gifts, and when we sing, and eat, and enjoy the frivolities of December. God does to, for He feels each and every swell of joy we have in this life. He exists to bring about this great swelling, it is His great work. The gift that is given purely is the gift of the Son, who lives who once was dead. Forever now we can enjoy and read the myriad of blessings bestowed by the teachings of our Great Saviour, for His Loving Atonement and for his great triumph in Gethsemane and on Calvary. Enjoy each second of this Christmas, for thousands and thousands of people truly will remember and feel as they never have, the true outpourings of the Spirit.
I participated in a community Christmas Pageant, that was written and organized by Mr. and Mrs. Lillie and Charles Bradley, a sweet older black couple who recruited the missionaries before I arrived here in Oakdale. Elder Barker did phenomenal in his singing solo at the beginning and as part of the choir group and cast of actors. I loved it so much, I hope all ya'll Theatre kids will appreciate it, because it is very interesting. It is a very loud rendition of the Nativity and one that involves quite a bit of interpreting to understand haha. It was good for us though, and it was fun. We met a new family from it that were in the Pageant with us, who go to the same church as the Bradley's but they really like us and want us over for a friendly dinner and a lesson. We aren't sure how that will work out, but God works not in the understanding of men, but the understanding of the Spirit. I was the lead wise man, a shepherd and I (was supposed to) play the drums at one point in the show. Barker was wise man, and shepherd, and the innkeeper. In reality it was a very stretched show even until opening night. We actually volunteered President Hansen's Twin (20 yr. old) daughters to be Hallelujah Hosts for when the angles appear to the shepherds and they totally did it, so that was awesome! President and Sister Hansen really liked it and said we did quite superb as singers and actors.
I won't ruin the details of the show because we have a video that we will be obtaining here soon, so you can see for yourselves, but I will say one thing. At the very end of the program she gave the wise men free reign to praise the Christ child and present gifts, in anyway we would like. Elder Barker and I decided to stand up there, and bear our testimonies to all of these Baptists including many pastors and such. It was quite scary but it was the most meaningful thing to my heart to testify to so many people all gathered to listen. I heard a lot of "amen!" "praise the Lord" "yes brother" "testify" kind of things during our testimonies but that's nothing new. Every time we pray with people they do similar but more reverent types of things, so this was a welcome gesture. It was powerful to say the least so just ignore my very (unnoticed by me) high voice alright?
The best part of the night was Mary's Lullaby by Sister Hastings and Be Still my Soul by The Hansen sisters after the pageant was all over. We had dinner at the Hastings but catered by the Hansens, it was delicious soup, and everyone was cool; and hanging out with President made me feel very happy. I love President and Sister Hansen, she is like the sweetest most dear and loving person you shall ever meet if you ever meet her. She takes really good care of us (me) as missionaries and they are just the best to serve with.
It was hard to see transfers roll by and friends go home and friends leave and go to new areas and to even brand new opening areas and becoming zone leaders and training again. Everyone I came out with is like leadership everywhere, it is so awesome to have them as my special group of friends/missionaries who I came out with. It was a good day, nonetheless, losing Sister Thornley and Elder Ryan. I did however have a great surprise as Elder Hillam was at transfers and he didn't even know until the morning of and he opened a new area down in New Orleans!!! It gave me the opportunity to give him my present I got him, in person, and it made me happy.
We had a branch social for Christmas and Philip was Santa Claus, he just went through the temple and is the biggest wise crackin senior man you will ever meet. He is easily loved, though, so I mean it all works out.
Earlier today we helped with Pineville zone leaders and Alexandria Elders to clean up our neighbors house that went down. She is going to frame a picture of us all in a group in their home with our names cause she was so appreciative! It was another great day to end a great week!
So many things have happened this week and I probably excluded something, but I shall surely answer any questions if you email and ask me.
I really enjoyed this week and I am looking forward to a great and wonderful Christmas, the time is finally here to specifically honor a sweet Saviour and is humble and powerful birth. Cast not away your confidence in yourself! or in our redeemer! Don't lose hope because faith can be found in the smallest parts of your heart if you but search ye shall find the mustard seed within yourself. The birth, death and ressurection of Jesus Christ is the pinnacle of all time, and through that simple knowledge we can have great power to love one another. For all are children to God and are children of Christ, if they but come unto him (sorry all the typos I'm writing late).
Be not afraid. Have faith, Understand your faith. Feed your soul with the word. Be who God intends for you to be. Fight all pride and always love one another.
Love Elder Joshua Dean Rush