Saturday, February 28, 2015

Mardi Gras Week in Louisiana....

February 23, 2015
Elder Rush and Elder Barker

Dear Friends and Family, 
   Number one first thing I need all of you to do. Read "what if love were our only motive" by Elder Osguthorpe. That is the best talk in all of this whole world, it changed my life and my mission. Why we do things, is much more important than what we do. I try to live by that. We had so much happen this last week that I will just have to summarize and teach the best way that I know possible.
   Number one day would be last Monday night after emailing, we had a lesson with our investigator and we had this lesson rolling so good, he was understanding and Elder Barker and I were just on a roll, and the spirit was strong and powerful. Suddenly, he gets super sick and leaves the room to go take care of that, he apparently got some food poisoning from earlier that day. What we think is that the poor man needs to stop chewing tobacco (which is a really gross habit btw) and follow the Word of Wisdom, we have been trying to help him overcome, because he wants to be baptized but just can't seem to give it up. I hope that somehow he will realize that his health will improve and the Lord will bless him, if he follows the commandments, I just want him to be healthy more than anything else. You just learn how much more you can care for people when you see them all the time, and try to help improve their life every time. 
   So this isn't as spiritual, but it's fantastic! WE went to 2 parades this week after we went to the one in Leesville, we heard about a chicken chasing tradition down in Mamou (which is a town in our area) That happened on Monday, we missed it! but they had a parade and celebration on Tuesday! So we decided to recruit the DeRidder Elders to come down and help us pass out cards and books and anything else related to the church down in there! It was for the lack of a better word, pretty ghetto, and like always the music was boomin' like crazy. I got tons of beads from all these parades that I will mail next month, so get excited for that. It is just so much fun to spend a little time with the people you love everyday seeing them happy and smiling in a (mostly) family friendly environment. After the parade, they played some awesome Cajun style music, and what we didn't know at the time is there were two parties happening, one of them dominantly black (except for us 4 white missionaries haha) and the other side, a redneck white people. We stayed on the black side cause they loved us and took all our cards and were super friendly, we got all kinds of pats on the back and chest bumps and "waddups!" We passed out a lot of things so hopefully that will pay off. Humility always was the best door to love, when you decide you are no better than any other, that is when your heart opens to really love all of God's children.

   The next parade was about 10 miles south of Mamou in pleasant Eunice, Louisiana. The reason we went down there was to see another parade and help the brand new Eunice Elders make some contacts, they just got sent in this last transfer and they are new like me. Elder Whitmarsh actually came out with me and was in the mission home with me. His companion, Elder Pederson is only 6 weeks ahead of us. They are both Spanish missionaries, which we actually have too many of, so when president hears that Spanish speaking is in any area he sends them there. Eunice is near Opelousas which is where Sister Worthington, Earl, and Elder Ruecsh, Erikson are all Sister training leaders, and Zone leaders for the Lafayette zone. Back to the parade, we got there and it was a huge parade, with a huge party going on. The sisters and Eunice Elders where there so it was good to see them all! love my friends out here. We saw the very last of the parade, but went and contacted, got free cake, Elder Whitmarsh boxed a drunk man with the man's chicken, we met two drunk girls with a chicken who were super friendly, and plenty of other super nice people who just walked up to us and said hey. Passed out a bunch of stuff there too and it was a dang good story. More beads, and some things to buy that we didn't buy. Then the road trip back to Oakdale and we make another random contact on a dirt road with a guy who lives in Texas and totally wants us to help him on his land for service. Best day eva.
   Then comes district meeting the next day, always a phenomenal experience because my companion is the best leader there ever was, and the spirituality of his directions makes the meeting a huge boost for the week. Then I got to go on Exchanges with the Zone leaders!!!!! I love exchanges! So much fun! I stayed in Oakdale with Elder Smith who just got transferred up from New Orleans where he has been most of his mission. He and I hit it off so well, he is such a nice cool kid, comes from Ogden, Utah and he is a pro golfer. He says he comes to Hyrum dam & reservoir all the time with his boat, so he wants me to come with him back home! Best friends are made everyday, you just got to love them the right kind of way! Anywho, we had a few miracles happen, We went to this random house in the country and met a retired Baptist Deacon, who accepted a Book of Mormon, a restoration pamphlet, and our number, and we offered anytime he needed it, for us to come help on his 30 acres of land, so another service farming opportunity. Then we met Dan the Taxidermy man, who is now investigating the church, and invited us to his own church. He hasn't found the right one, so we hope he likes ours! 
   The next Great thing to happen was the trip down to Denham Springs for a multi-zone conference with another general authority. Elder Kapishke who is in charge of this area came to speak to us and have a discussion on finding people, he told us we needed to talk to 10 new people a day and 20 as a companionship and our investigators would go up. He wants us to be bold which is super fun for me, and I didn't even think of how to do it, but general authorities sure help. He taught a lot about love, and that what motivates faith is love, which is right up my ally when it comes to interests in specific gospel principles. He even said what if love was our only motive word for word, I looked at Elder Smith because I shared that talk with him on exchanges and he smiled and we both thought it was awesome. We had a sleepover with Pride Missionaries for this just so we wouldn't drive down all 2 hours in the morning. Super fun life.
Vietnamese New Year Celebration

   Next on the thousand of things that happened this week. On Sunday, after church we got to go to Vietnamese New Year, to support Nene. We drove up to Alexandria with the Hastings, and arrived at the big hotel at around 5:00, and boy do they know how to party. I had a bunch of crazy food I had never seen, but that I loved, Nene was so excited to see us there. They all spoke Vietnamese the whole time and we were among the very few white people who were there, so we understood nothing. It was a blast anyway, and really loud, and they had this celebration where they had dancing dragons with thousands of firecrackers exploding all around as they danced, so so wonderful to see, not so much to hear.  Made some contacts, and enjoyed the atmosphere of a whole nother culture and country in the USA.

   I am super tired of typing, so I apologize if you want to know more, just email me, and if you want pictures and or videos Elder Barker has them all. Also the Hastings have pictures. Silly Elder Rush forgets his camera sometimes. 

God bless!

Love so much -Elder Joshua Dean Rush

Another week of the Lord refining my soul...

February 16, 2015
ELDER NETZLEY AND ELDER RUSH FROM HYRUMMMMMM UTAHHHH. he is serving in our zone in the Many area

Dear Friends and Family, 
   How are ya'll doing? Good, I would hope. Another interesting week in my interesting little mission life, so I will start with the fact that I got lots of pics this week so that was pretty cool. This week is the beginning of Mardis Gras celebrations and I saw a (very small) parade in Leesville this last Friday, which was fun to gather tons of beads at.
    First, I will start off with a mighty miracle that happened just a few days ago, on what day I can't remember, but it happened. We were trying to set up an appointment with a girl we tracted into a few weeks ago, but haven't had much success. We have been keeping in contact because she gave us her number because she studied abroad and had mormon friends where she was at so she was very polite and friendly. She is also young and would be great for this branchhhhh! We end up getting her on a day she ain't busy, and we text and ask if 500 is okay but she doesn't answer and its 530 so I needed some water from the Walmart as an emergency and this created a new direction for us. When we get to Walmart, right as we walk in, our Potential walks up to us and says "hi", seems totally cool and intro's us to her siblings and everything. They were gonna watch a movie so we decided to plan to come over some other time. The best thing is we got to see and talk to her again, and she definitely wants us to come over, not sure if she wants teaching and preaching, but we will see how that turns out in the coming weeks. The Lord directs us where we need to be always.
 beads with the bros yo

   Now for the activities that happened during Mardi Gras. We were able to go to a parade, if we had a member, so we decided to go up to Leesville to see the tiny parade they put on. The point is not in the parade, but in the amount of beads that you gather, and I will be sending those home in a package when I have more money for next month. Valentine's day packages be all like expensive sometimes, but anything for the sake of love to my sisters and my mommy!. We also got to spend time with our amazing district, which literally can never get old. When we left Leesville, we took the Deridder Elders with us to Alec (Elder Olsen and Sargeant) to see a farewell of a good friend Elder Barker had in Alexandria Ward. Good kid that is going to Mexico, join the ranks!! 

pics from Elder Bennet and I's exchange in Oakdale! HE'S AWESOME

   Never lose an opportunity to share with someone what makes you happy, and who you are as a Saint. We went to visit one of our members in the retirement home on Sunday to give her the sacrament, and we contacted another young (this time black, the first one was latina, I think) girl who was interested in having a bible study with us, especially because she really thinks it's cool what we do and sacrifice as missionaries.
   Not much else super special happened this week, I did learn however that life doesn't have to be extrordinary to be fulfilling. I also know that the Hastings are like the awesomest granparents and senior couple ever! We got to meet their children this Sunday, they came down from Arizona and they were just the cutest little family with the cutest little boy (rest of family was elsewhere) They got to speak in church, so the branch was pretty energized all day. We had 40 people come because we had so many visitors, the spirit burns with a whole lot of fire when so many people attend. I never noticed that before, but numbers truly increase the spirit. The sister from Leesville even came down and helped us teach our Vietnamese investigator the Plan of Salvation! She understood everything and we only have maybe 2 more lessons to fully teach and explain, maybe sometime soon we can actually get this baptism rollin'. For now she invited us to meet her family on Chinese New Year day up in Alec! She is so sweet and nice, it truly has been a blessing getting to know and teach her.
Sister Kay. (Kongaika-'Aholelei)
 Elder Sabeye (who's training Elder Netzley in Many) and Elder Smith who grew up with Elder Barker

   In spiritual matters, Oakdale does a good job of refining the soul. It is a wonderful place, but it is also a sad little place, so far away from others, it just seems like the people have no hope for a better situation. I know that this gospel will help them if they listen to this message. I will stay here forever if the Lord permits me, so that work can move forward and the branch can grow! I love this little city in such a strange way. Let the Lord shape you, because He knows the best way you can be shaped.

-Elder Joshua Dean Rush

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Lord and I are pretty tight right now, just saying

February 9, 2015

Dear Friends & Family,
    I have been doing well this week, which is what I will tell you every single time, because even if it's been terrible I just reflect a little bit on everything that happened and then it doesn't look so bad. It really never is that bad, I am just one who would be described as anxious. Small things sometimes flip me out, but then big things are no deal, so I am working on that, pray for me. This week was transfer week so not a lot happened in Oakdale, but a whole lot was happening in our lives! Funny story from transfers, we didn't get transferred so we couldn't go but then president called me as District Leader, BUT then after the leadership meeting I had to go to transfers, at transfers President pulls us aside says he made a whoops (I'm not the District Leader) cause Elder Barker is DL again and so I'm free and we got to go to transfers. The Lord and I are pretty tight right now, just saying.

    Next on the list of awesome things, so our district changed up a ton this time around, we now have 2 greenies being trained in our district. It is going to be a good transfer because everyone is so friendly up here and we are all good buddies. Matter of fact Sister Kongaika- Aholele (Sister Kay)  is from Salt lake and she is Tongan (if you couldn't tell from her name) and she has a lot of awesome to be shared. Elder Sinclair is one of the new elders up here and he is such a delight to talk to, always learning something and always enjoying. It is good to be a part of the Work in Louisiana, it is a good work full of fun! I especially like the fun part, but it is hard tough work too just so you all aren't disillusioned. 
    The best thing about this week was being able to see Elder Nathan Netzley from Hyrum Utah! Got a good picture with him, and it turns out he is being trained in my zone so I get to see him pretty often. It is good to see a man from back home, even though he could leave to Brazil any waking moment! Happy Birthday Annalise Netzley!
    Next on the list of wonderful occurrences of this week: The Alexandria Stake had their stake conference this week which was extra solid and super spiritual. Got to see Elder Netzley again, especially when the entire zone stayed at the Alexandria/Pineville Elders apartment. It was as flashback from that huge sleep a few months ago, reliving the dream everyone. I love when people are around me, and I love telling them how much they matter, so when I see people I just am filled with so much joy it can only be described as a toddler with his ice cream! The Thermostat was turned to 55 degrees, I was under a fan and by a drafty window, so for once in my life, even with 20 bodies in one small place, I was very chilly on that ground. It was a struggle but it wasn't Carthage Jail. Just know that I know that nothing is as hard as we make it. Learn to enjoy like Paul did, all manner of afflictions for Christ Jesus, then the beauties of this mortality are given to us. 

    I know now that when the Lord asks you to be or do something, always do it, or else you look really bad to everyone else who realizes your potential and the Lord gets frustrated. In other not great news our 2 baptisms are going to have to be postponed, but we get to go to Chinese new year on the 22nd, so that doesn't really relate but is an event to look forward to.
    I hope and pray all is well for each of you, that you are happy and healthy and full of the Spirit. I certainly feel as though each of you are directly connected through your prayers, to me. It is a blessing to have so many people on your side, it makes the opposite side seem so little. Fear is the lack of faith, so when we can rid ourselves of the fear of failure, or of disappointment, then we have faith sufficient enough to do those things. Repentance is the single most important change anyone can go through, it isn't being sorry nor is it just admittance of fault. It is a heart that is given to the Lord and filled with light, it casteth all fear, and it helps us live the greatest of all the commandments. Love the Lord with all heart, mind, might and soul, and Love thy neighbor as thyself. There are no exceptions to these rules for they constitute all that our Faith is. All of the happiness and joy that comes from this love, lead us to that further repentance, to sorrowful is one thing, but to change the very nature of your natural frame, is Godlike. I love you all so much and this I know to be with a certainty in truth, that Joseph was the last prophet of all dispensations, that in his weakness he was qualified to be a prophet. No other man but Christ has done so much for the salvation of man. This church is undoubtedly true, never let fear tell you otherwise. In the name of Jesus Christ -Amen
Love Elder Joshua Dean Rush

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Make Prayer a Joy not a Hassle

February 3, 2015
Peculiar Rocking Chair
Dear Friends and Family, 
   Where can you begin when so much has happened? I will mention that this week was extra special and I learned much that cannot be relayed by words, but I hope maybe the feelings can be felt in some measure. This week Elder Cook visited the mission, and we had an entire mission conference including Elder Halstrom and Elder Blouth (area 70) and the mission president from the Jackson Mississippi mission (that is where Kaden Hartman is at). This was a big deal and it was pretty exciting to see everyone! To hear, see and hug an apostle in real life was definitely a privilege that I will cherish. Lots of what I learned was from Elder Halstrom, something about what he was saying answered my questions that I had coming into the meeting. The best way to be perfect is to think of Christ, and the best way to learn is to always have questions! It is simple the things I learned but it surely changed me and gave me new incentive to change further.
woot the rush pics I promised #USU

    When it comes to change though, I will not be transferred this time around, and neither will Elder Barker, we are staying here and our district only lost Sister Neely and Elder Smith. All is well and good, hopefully we can see some baptisms in this transfer! We will be tracting like we always do, knocking doors, hoping that some good old miracles will start happening. I am happy to say that when life gives you lemons you should always read your scriptures and then pray. Don't make lemonade cause that is what the world wants, they want you to be like them, but don't conform, be better, have faith, be the followers of Christ you are designed to be.
   I always love to love and the Lord knows that, he will give me opportunities all the time to say some small thing. He will always give all of us opportunities to share the gospel and show others how much we love them, never pass that up, always qualify for the spirit of kindness. 

   This week I went to church in DeRidder because we went on exchanges and I was with Elder Sargeant, he is one of the sweetest nicest guys I| know. Big nice giant, with a lot of heart and from good ole Idaho. I got to experience a ward for the  first time in a long time and it just so happens it was on fast and testimony meeting. I had already promised the Lord I would go and bare testimony to my branch so when the bishop invited the missionaries to come testify I couldn't really say no to that. The best black preacher in the LDS church resides in that ward, he taught priesthood and his name is brother Bell. The best most inspiring teacher, I thnk, anyone will ever meet. I enjoyed that lesson and It was a perfect addition to the powerful testimony meeting. 
Pray Always
the fam crest/emblem #wecool 

    Remember Christ the Lord in all your doings, remember to be humble and strip yourself of all pride. As soon as you let that universal and most grievous sin into your heart, then a great fall will begin to take place. Being humble is not being weak or merely passive. It is actively following what God has commanded of us. He wants us especially to repent, it is the second fundamental of this gospel. It is followed only by faith, because it takes faith to change and change is repentance. When we learn how to repent and to not give in or give up, when we learn to ponder the scriptures in our heart as themes for our daily lives, then the power we all have designed into us is made manifest. Don't ever think Faith is merely just a word that confirms our belief or gives us hope. It does do those things, but it is so much more than that. It can and will bring a testimony to a level of conversion, it will make prayer a joy not a hassle. I love this gospel oh so very much, I know it is true, I know that repentance is a process we can achieve. It is the process of perfection. I know it is through Him who was Jesus, that we begin to learn all that is and ever was. Love one another, and be who he is to you, for someone else. 

Love fervently, Elder Joshua Dean Rush
MC colors in my rubicks cube, just for fun