Thursday, January 29, 2015

Miracles Happen Everday...

January 26, 2015

Dear Friends and Family,
    Road Trip to find investigators
    I hope that everyone is doing great and feeling great. I just don't know what goes on so I just have to assume that y'all are alright ya know? I pray for you everyday, so surely you should be doing somewhat well right? Anywho, I really appreciate all the letters and emails, I always answer, so those of you who do contact me, should know how happy and blessed you make me feel. :-) This week went by pretty quickly so I will try to relate every spiritual and humorous occurrence as best I can.
    First of all, for those of you who think I am good at writing on my blog, it is actually my mother you should be praising. She always edits my writing and makes it like a 1000x better, so encourage her to write a book because she is awesome (and quite a lot like me so she is fun too!). (ahh, I have the sweetest kid :-)
    This next week is transfers and the great 7 weeks will be coming to an end sadly, hopefully the Lord lets us stay one more together, but it is always a mystery. I love Elder Barker much, for he is my dear friend, and a dear brother. The 31st is also a possible visit from Elder Cook, but we haven't been informed about it clearly yet. It happens to be warming up again, which usually is a good thing after an eternity of winter in the valley, but here it just means sweltering humid air shall return. I will begin to melt again, and I will pray this year for thinner more breathable skin.
Random basketball court in the middle of nowhere

    When you look at a week as a missionary, you don't look at days or minutes, you look at experiences, and I believe that is the best way to look at life. You see time doesn't really make sense to us, because we are all of an eternal nature, destined for unbound experience and power. Limits don't make sense either, so don't make them for yourselves. When you learn to look at others with love and patience, you will exhibit humility, which will change your days to peace and faith. All that you don't like about yourself suddenly won't matter, because you will put God and his children first. Self sacrifice is key to success and it is key to this gospel. Christ gave up all and that is why He has such great love for us, how much more love could we have for one another if we gave up a little bit more? 
Fenton, Louisiana

    Miracles happen everyday, but one of them that occurred while I was on exchanges with Elder Bennett, who was my first zone leader in Denham Springs Zone, and he is one of the best elders you could meet. Exemplar leader and one of my friends, he promised me that we would go on an exchange, because I was the district leaders companion and so DL's (District Leaders) and ZL's  (Zone Leaders) go on exchanges. I left shortly after that promise to come attend to the work here in Oakdale. He followed me into Leesville and so our promise was fulfilled in splendor. We taught Jimmy and Nene and invited both of them to baptism on the 14 of February. They both accepted, now we must make proper steps so that the date doesn't have to move, even if one of us leaves Oakdale this next transfer. We decided to not teach Nene English because we have a Vietnamese sister in Leesville ward who talks to her often and will visit and help us teach her, and it works out well, she very clearly understands. Jimmy has come to a realization that the Book of Mormon must be true because it all makes so much sense. As he reads he looks at the cross-references (thank you Bruce R. McConkie) and goes to the bible and it all adds up. I hope that they will come unto the fold because this fold is the happy fold.
    We had 40 people come to church and 2 member families invite us over for dinner and lessons! The best part is Sister Hazelton has these to little nieces who want to be taught the gospel so we are possibly gonna have more investigators!  (We have a large pool of P.I.'s (possible investigators) and I's (investigators) right now, like 10? so we are doing really well!) And this part member single couple invited us as well so more investigators. We just are so blessed everyday, and it just gets me so very excited. It is the best feeling in the world to wake up and just be so pumped out of your mind and enthusiastic about missionary life (which is normal life honestly) being able to say that this day will be great because I will make it great!

    While we were searching for a new investigator and contacting a referral, both from the city kinder, we accidentally overshot the man's house by 15 miles. He wrote the street as St. not Ave. and thus we went on wild goose chase to an empty lot where a house should have been. The man we were referred to was in federal that was a no go, unfortunately, but we may get the stake to get someone to go visit him! The next 5 referrals answered the phone, except one, and were so friendly until they found out we were missionaries then they just hung up. That makes me sad, but nonetheless, their choice and we have people who want to be taught and such, so it wasn't as sad as it would have been if we'd known them already. I sorrow that they do not like us, but I cannot be discouraged. 
    This area is beauty and peace, and this work is true, it is to preach the gospel in its fullness. To proclaim a prophet has once again been called, and Christ himself has spoken to him. The Man was Joseph Smith, he was gifted to translate the holy writing titled the Book of Mormon. It is by this book you will find all peace and truth and all doctrine in simplicity that the gospel has to offer. The Saviour was born in Bethlehem during the millenium of time and visited the Jews in Jerusalem and in this country. I know He lives now again, and has suffered so that we may come unto Him and the Father again. Look forward with a hope, for salvation and its ordinances are had again among the earth. I testify that love is the greatest power given to any man, learn to access it and to humbly ask for it. It is the root of all goodness in the name of Jesus Christ amen

-Elder Joshua Dean Rush

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Inspirational, fun, busy, exciting week!!

January 19, 2015
Zone Conference with Elder Teh
Dear Friends and Family, 
    How it brings a smile to my face when I have the opportunity to address all of you that read my letters every week. No matter if that be 5 or 50...I still care and it still makes me grin! I will let you all know, before things get to lengthy, that many easily remembered stories were created this week. I must be some kind of dork or something, I don't know, all I know is that you all should enjoy them and giggle as much as you need to. Also just wanted to mention I love you all so much!
    So our week starts out on p-day right, and that was today last week. After we emailed, we were picked up by the Elders in Leesville, Smith and Bennett (Bennett is super AWESOME), and the night before DeRidder slept over. All of this was due to us getting a ride with Leesville and DeRidder with the Hastings the next morning after we left (Tuesday morning), we went down to Baton Rouge! We stayed at a members house and they actually have a missionary that served at USU and is in the Logan mission area (Elder Tolbert). They are a lovely family and had plenty of space for all 4 of us to stay comfortably for the night. They fed us delicious food until we nearly exploded and we played jumbo Jenga. Literally 2x4 blocks stacked way high up...that was so much fun! We played teams and eventually Elder Bennett and I were defeated by the head of the house. We then proceeded the next morning to go to Zone Conference (I got to see a lot of friends so I was so so so happy and excited!)
Oreo Time with Elder Morrell
 hmmm more oreos, my favorite

    We had a 4 zone conference with Lafayette Zone, Alexandria Zone (ours), Denham Springs (my old zone), and the Baton Rouge Zones. We had a general authority come to visit and instruct us. Elder Teh of the seventy talked this last April on "Where your treasure is" and in 2007 "Out of small things" both of which are phenomenal talks. He asked us to read his talk, come and see, trifle not with sacred things, and which way do you face. He said and spoke so much so trying to convey the whole message would be hard, but basically just 'try not to be going with the flow in the current'. Go against the beaten and easy path because that is where true discipleship lies. Our beloved mission president decided it would be a good idea to recognize us publicly for the good job we were doing in Oakdale and how amazing we did in the pageant and all this stuff. It was a huge and kind compliment to us. Then Elder Morrell and Elder White gave instruction as the assistants to the president and asked us to participate, and so I mentioned that half the work is being optimistic and enthusiastic about all things so that love fills your soul when things become hard. Elder Morrell says that if you don't know elder Rush, he is definitely both of those words. I did enjoy the praise very much, but I think they might all just be fluffing us up a lot. Nonetheless, compliments are nice. Always make time to be kind and compliment people. Often times kind words are a saving grace for those who suffer in spiritual darkness.
Sister McEntire, Sister Pearson, and myself  
(my friend, Sister Stephens headed home)

    When it was all done it was around 4:30 (when we got out of there), and it was a 4 hour drive home. Thankfully, we were able to stay with the assistants that night so we didn't have to drive home until the next day! I was so happy, can I tell you how nice and awesome and super great examples our AP's are, they are such awesome, kind guys. It was so super super great to spend the night with them, and of course, it was a big fun party with the Baton Rouge elders and office elders being there as well. I even went on a mini exchange with Elder Jean-Louis who is from Haiti. He is the funniest guy, and I made a new friend in him! We went to a member house for dinner and I went because his companion was feeling ill. It was a lovely visit and the members were super awesome. Cute little girl they had who was just so fun to make faces at and get to giggle. Love kids.
me and Elder Brown (who is now a Zone Leader)
he is much awesomeness and great friend

    Next step is the mishaps of the week. Elder Barker tipped my recliner all the way backwards so that I fell into the closet and could not get out without doing this obnoxious upside down scootch dance. He, of course, took a video. The next one is rather uninteresting, but I have been getting bloody noses, it is funny that Elder Barker was having them really bad and then suddenly they stop and I have problems that I have never before experienced in life. How lovely. Final one was this morning. I wanted to take a bath so I prepared my bath like a good little missionary. Elder Barker told me not to fall asleep, therefore I didn't, but he decided to bring in a bucket of ice cold water anyway and pour it on my bath. I was so happy about that, and I am now very awake, extremely awake. 
    We found 2 young couple families, got in contact with our black couple who we thought dropped us and have an appointment, we are going to teach Nene English with the church program, Jimmy is progressing so well and hopefully is going to come to a realization of truth as soon as he reads. Our investigator who bought us groceries is still talking with us and hopefully we can have a lesson. The Hastings found a family who we are now going to teach. Finally we found 2 part member that we may be able to teach in the near future. It feels real good to be busy doing good things. Sometimes, we just have to bare simply having nothing happen about us and be action oriented and not reaction oriented. 
Elder White and Elder Morrell

    We talked in church this Saturday and I have a different message for ya'll back at home.
    Patience is a virtue, and yet so is kindness. Some people think that being patient isn't always being kind, but that is not right. We have to find it in our hearts to love one another and be kind. We are of the special flock, therefore, we are of a special kindness. Why not just give someone a high five, a smile or when appropriate a hug. Just to show them you care, the world no longer thinks God cares, and it is certainly our job to represent our God, who does indeed care. I have been really happy lately, it is possible that my up in medicinal dosage may be part of the factor, but not only that, I believe that faith precedes the miracle. I know that it does and it will give a new type of hope if we always remember all is in the Lord's hands. Joy is for everyone!!!

I hope and pray you are all safe and full of joy.

Love so much, Elder Joshua Dean Rush
(Josh said this was mostly for us, but it is just such an adorable pic
that I have to share as his mom :-)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Try to Be Nicer This Week :-)

January 12, 2015
There is a picture of all of us in DeRidder for the last night
Dear Friends and Family,
    Hello brethren in Christ, how bid thee? I hope well indeed. My Prayers are ever heavenward for you as I know that God blesseth the servants of His Son. I would have you know specifically what my companion and I have experienced in Oakdale this week. Quite a bit of finding to tell you all the truth. In order for us to harvest seeds or to plant and sow a garden to reap the great fruits we must first find those willing to accept the seed? Therefore, we have searched oft for those special souls. I can tell you that knocking neighborhoods of doors is actually very hard and always slow to reward, but nonetheless the rewards come. On Wednesday, we found a large neighborhood in a nice part of the town and stayed there for about 4 hours trying to find people willing to accept the gospel. We actually played hoops with a young adult and a young man who seemed very interested and very smart. The older one being 29 years has a particular liking for the Methodist church but we hope that he will still wish to meet with us. Then we found a young girl who had been overseas in her studies and met some Mormons in Bolivia who she associated with on a regular basis. We are not sure if we will be able to go back considering she may have just liked how handsome we/elder barker were/is and what not. 
so thats a solicitor sign with a pamphlet in it...tracting

    Another middle aged guy named Ben is going to be meeting with us in the future who we met earlier this week. He is a cousin of Sister Alsbury and has met with missionaries before, he is a very analytical man and very well versed in his bible and in logical evidence so we will see what kind of discussion comes from that. All I know is that I am glad the Lord has blessed me with a firm knowledge concerning the New and Old Testaments, otherwise I am sure I would be having some serious struggles in understanding. I know that they now have a complete JST bible in print so I bet those are a huge help considering the prophet clears up almost every controversial verse in scripture that I can think of. He truly was a prophet inspired by God, and he knew more than any other man has on this earth because he knew his Father so very well. The Saviour is the source of all truth and of all knowledge, if you invite him into every aspect of your life you can learn and love so much more fully.
Elder Sargeant, then me, then Elder Olsen, Elder Gillen, and of course Elder Barker :D
    Quick non spiritual right now. So on P-day we went down to Leesville because Elder Gillen is going home (today probably right as i am writing this) and we wanted to have a good p-day and district meeting the next day because he has been here for 6 months or so. One of his beloved companions (considering he has two) Elder Sargeant decided to take upon himself a great challenge to test the might of his stomach. This Elder is from Idaho and is one of my favorites (he is a brony just FYI). Anyway the challenge was two 3/4 pound burgers with every topping, 2 large fries, and a 44 oz. shake all to be eaten in 30 minutes. Well he nearly finished...but alas that was a great amount of food and we had a great scene in the restaurant with a trash can. All of you can imagine what i am talking about so I will let imagination take its course on this one. Then we played dodgeball and had another sleep over at DeRidder's apartment.
    This day just gets better because I locked the keys in our trunk and we had to get a locksmith to come out and pick it...we were in Deridder all day because of bad. It was expensive..and I am a very accident prone person who forgets things...yay stories.
    The next day was district meeting, and it was a super awesome one, because Elder Gillen gave his last instruction as district leader and then bore his testimony, I sure will miss him, he taught me a lot and was a really good guy, I mean biggest heart you'll ever meet kinda guy. I love him bunches! Colorado has some gems out there for sure. Elder Barker is the new district leader so I get to go on awesome exchanges again...I'm super pumped!!!!!
pictures of when barker smothered me in stuff and took a picture of me with weird stuff in my bed 

    We had another meeting this week on Friday! We had  Zone Training meeting. This meeting was a great spiritual boost for everyone present, at least for myself. It was Elder Mecham's and Elder Gillens last one so they both bore testimony, I love Elder Mecham, he was my first assistant to the president when I got in the mission, and finished out training in Natchitoches. Gillen went home a little early to start school on time and Mecham goes in February. We also got to share an experience of when we felt the Holy Ghost very strongly in our lives. I just shared my little sob story but with a twist on conquering pride and embracing love. I will give you a little bit of what I said to inspire, but this letter is so long right now and my fingers hurt... 

I gave my testimony, by inspiration of the Spirit, and also by the awakening of my mind as I read the talks "what if love were our only motive" and "beware of pride" both of which struck deeply with my emotional character. Anyway...
  The great stumbling block, is the opposite of love, and is the enmity towards God as spoken by all the prophets in ancient times and in modern. Pride destroys souls and nations. I know that I have tried and continue to try to conquer pride. The Lord has brought me very low due to my excess of pride and my great fall was indeed to bring me to humility. It doesn't make us happy, when we wish to exalt ourselves, it makes us much smaller spiritually and therefore bridles the growth of our souls. I believe that love will replace it as we consciously choose to love and speak no ill to one another and to serve understand and forgive one another. Though it is hard, I know that it can be done, it is a great happiness. It is so great a joy that once a state of love and of humility is gained we are driven to give unto others. First love God in humility, then love all others about you, and all will be great and equal and lovely. The way Christ sees us is the way we can become, He sees us as we are and as we shall be if we but come unto him. Try to be nicer this week and you will be able to lose all your pride and contention and therefore share the gospel. I love you all and apologize for the lack of strength and spirit, and length of my remarks, but know that I love you more than can be written anyway. In the name of Christ our Saviour, amen.


-Elder Joshua Dean Rush

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Further Light is Up to You

January 5, 2014
From Josh's first area

Dear Friends and Family, 
    It is always such a dear and lovely week when you feel good. My companion does not agree, for he has been sick with a cold, and has very consistent bloody noses. We had one rest day for his sickness, and I slept more than he did :D Turns out when you have an entire day all to yourself, because your companion is out of commission, you happen to learn a lot of things. I will share with you some of the things that I learned and stuff because this week was pretty uneventful (yes it was New Years but I will explain that later). 
    Things I learned, being most important I learned Faith, simply put I learned it by study but also by application. I felt when acquiring faith surrendering your heart for focus on the Saviour is the most beneficial thing. Life tends to happen whether we would like it to, and it seems obvious that we should always remember the Saviour in all that we do. The plain truth is that consistent and deep concentration on our dear Christ is key to the burning of faith so often learned of in the scriptures. I always have wondered how Moses, or Alma, Brother of Jared, and the 3 Nephites could acquire such great fruits of their faith. It isn't always about those physical manifestations of miracles that mark the great power in our Faith but the change wrought in our hearts. I have been out 6 months of my mission already, and that is one quarter of this service in life I can never reclaim. It was in lack of a better term Miraculous. I have changed so thoroughly and so intimately because of this mission and because of the preparation before my mission that I cannot even come to remember why I did the things or was the boy I used to be. The man I am now, is certainly not done growing at all, but this momentous year and years prior have been mountains and mountains of great tribulation often caused by my own mistakes. True, many of you know and remember the kind of mistakes I used to make. I apologize for that, and have let them go. Free from the chains at last it seems, the fleeting moments of darkness a blur in my mind, hope for a better world has finally come (Ether 12:4 & 6).
Some awesome ugly sweaters there!
    The New Years day we tracked for several hours with little to no luck. The last door we knocked was at about 5:45 and it was because the man said that it was too dark for us to be out, it was a sad hour, but personal growth is had in every step of faith we take, right? The day we were sick, the Hastings brought over chicken noodle soup and some turkey burgers for dinner, they are the sweetest and most kind people you can find on this earth everyone. If you ever meet a Hastings you tell them thank you, even if they aren't Elder And Sister Dave and Norma, just believe me they are the finest people heaven has given up.
    A funny occurrence that happened last P-day: We were playing volleyball in Alexandria and, well I got upset, I don't know exactly what happened but I might have broke down crying and kicked a chair. I took a timeout for my temper tantrum and learned a little bit more that day about controlling my emotions, and I was put in remembrance of the great sensitivity that lies within my heart.
Alexandria District
    Remember dear fellows, God indeed loves you, no matter who you are, whether or not you want blessings or further light is up to you, but salvation by itself is free to all man. Christ bore all sins for all people throughout eternity, and the great time is at hand that He will return again. The work is ever hastened, the twelve tribes are being gathered together, and many prophecies I know to be true from the scriptures are coming forth as we live and breath each day. I have no more Faith concerning the Messiah who is and was and for eternity will be Jesus The Christ, because I know with absolute surety who He is. I have not seen Him or felt Him, but I do know that He lives and is there, all the principles of happiness are found in his church, and that church is this great Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The ordinances found are of utmost importance, and there is no greater or more important thing in this life than our Father in Heaven who is Elohim and our Saviour Jesus Christ who was Jehovah. I testify in Christs sacred name -Amen

Love yours truly, Elder Joshua Dean Rush

Friday, January 2, 2015

Last Letter of 2014.....

December 29, 2014
Christmas Jammies (yep, my mom sent us matching pjs)

Dear Friends and Family,
    Hey everyone! I had a merry merry Christmas, but I am so very glad it's over. I mean everyone is so happy and accepting but nobody actually stays in Oakdale, like every single place even Wal-mart shutdown in Oakdale on Christmas Eve and day, i was like woah, miracles. Everyday was an adventure because we had p-day, then district meeting, then it was Christmas Eve where we went with the Hastings to go caroling to some of the members of our branch and the Bradleys. Mrs. Bradley is really super nice and stuff, I think the pageant just stresses her out, so our visit with them was lovely. Brother Bradley is one of the smartest men I know, he just remembers everything and always has something so very profound to say, I swear he could be a General Authority, if he had a conversion.
 Pics of the Hansen Family and 
our clean up project for service

    We got lots of treats and gained a lotta weight, but we got a lot of smiles and joy so it was all worth it. Everyone we went caroling to said they have only seen that on tv, so we made some people really confused and delighted that night. It was a good idea of the Hastings to bring their daughter, Sandy who flew down from AZ, because we needed more girls to balance out our excellent man voices, haha. I can't help but near tear up when the sweet song of Silent Night is sung, it just has a spirit about it that brings great remembrance of the reverence during our Saviour's birth. How special He is to us, so nice to have all things revealed unto us in the spirit. That we may bring to remembrance the great days we spent in the presence of our Lord and Father who showed us so much. The things we witnessed before even coming to this earth and yet when the earth was operating. A great orchestration of faith was required for God to not help us, or the Saviour, in our darkest moments so that a great understanding of the Atonement could be had. The greatest times to learn are the greatest times of loneliness.
Check out the billboard for the high school, bet you wouldn't find that even in Utah

    Miss Emma and Breanna, who starred with us in the pageant are now our close friends! They ask us questions all the time and they really would like us to come and visit and have dinner or a little shindig with them. The gospel moves forward no matter what, especially when our hearts are in it! 
    Barker and I have been tracting a lot and ya know its probably most fun for us because of all the crazy little things that happen. Got a Catholic to tell us all about the history of the founding of Mexico and America and how we were almost Spaniards and then we always get that one very country man who asks us to please stop coming to his door cause he don't want our religion he got one. Anyway, it is always a learning experience even if we don't have anyone inquire of the gospel.
 Christmas Day

    Nene Tren came to church the other day and one of the greatest miracles took place. We are in a distirct with the misisonaries, who are in Leesville and DeRidder, and so we talk to them often, so when we were talking to the Leesville Elders about our investigators and mentioned Nene, they mentioned that they had a Vietnamese member who spoke amazing English in their ward! When we called Sister Scalf (this member we mentioned) she was worried that she wouldn't be able to help very much due to learning the gospel mostly in English, but when this Sunday lesson with Nene came rolling in....Joy was had indeed. I love hearing them talk in their native tongue, and Nene understands so much that we didn't know and we really have to slow down now because its very very hard to understand the gospel let alone in a different language so that's our goal now. Sister Scalf helped us so much and was so sweet and her husband and little boy were so good to come and help as well. Nene and Phoebe (sis. scalf) exchanged numbers and now anytime Nene has a question on her mind she will call and ask with a willing answer on the other end. What a good day yesterday was, and now we are gonna go have p-day in Alexandria with 2 districts so that's exciting!
 Much Cool Rush stuff to be found here
Funeral Home in Glenmora

    I know that trials and struggles will continue throughout my mission, and sometimes things get real hard to understand and sometimes I lose hope in myself. But just look at the miracles around me, they are so lovely. I know Heavenly Father loves me very much and He is a glorious and exalted being who can love with no limit. I just have to surrender all that I have in order to access more, and as I do so, it really makes me appreciate all those who I love and who love me. They gave me the base of this sweet swelling in my chest, and now I can say my testimony is now my own. I enjoy having charity and love towards others, it is the single best way to turn darkness into light and pain into joy. When you love others without guile and without a need for reciprocation, then you will find peace that only Christ can give. I really know all things are true that the Lord has revealed unto us. The Spirit and Jesus Christ are my friends and close ones at that. I know who I am, and I am not afraid to be me. I hope you all learn who you are and remember that you should love others for who they are. A beautiful world we live in "fo sho" In Jesus name amen.

Love yall sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much
     -Elder Joshua Dean Rush