Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Last One....

June 21st 2016,
Birthday pic...20!

Dearest brothers and sisters, 
This will probably be my last letter home before the glorious day that I come to see you all in person. I am very nervous all of a sudden, and I don't have any idea what I am really going to write. I don't know if it's going to be meaningful but I really hope that I can be. 

   I want to share with you all an overview of my mission based on Areas and Companions, the lessons I learned from each one of them, I won't include anything negative so if it seems so I truly didn't mean it, but these are the mighty spiritual truths the Lord has shown unto me whilst serving here in Louisiana.
First I will start off with all my areas.

Albany: This was my very first area and a very large ward, though at the time I didn't notice and lots of people were missing, but I was told later that the numbers were skyrocketing after I had gone. I baptized my first convert there in that tiny town, Nikki Horton!! best cook in all of Louisiana, hands down! I also learned that when you work for the Lord, Satan fights early to destroy you. :) But Christ delivers his saints.

Oakdale: Well MERCY, I can't tell you how much I learned form Oakdale, I learned about looking for the small miracles and how to survive near death and keep moving forward! Lots of long-suffering, key on the suffering, but really all of my fondest most tender moments were in that small branch, with Elder Barker, my boy, and the Hastings, my adopted grandparents :D. I had a lot of fun here, and I saw the work take off like I never thought it would, and the fruits I never saw but the joy I surely tasted. It was hard, it was long, but it was worth each second!

Amite: Woo more tiny branch love here, made some amazing friends here in Amite, non-members, members, and missionaries alike, I would say this time was the most miraculous, due to the fact that it was here that the Lord saw fit to take away my depression. One day I woke up and it was just gone after many fasts and prayers. Plus I learned how to be healthy and physically fit here, which I will soon be implementing full force at home because I will be honest my clothes don't fit and I'm 195 lb's SOOO ya. I learned that love comes when you ask God for it :)

DeRidder: I learned that trials suck, but when you get ridiculed and railed on, sometimes it turns out when you leave, everyone loves you instead. I learned in a short time how to become bold and testify of truth. Also we had a party, and I ate an Armadillo, so if I have leprosy I know it's source! hahaha. Good times.

Natchitoches: Some times even when you're doing good, you end up in trouble and ET'd, but hey I baptized a girl here too, Sarah Turner. Biked in freezing cold moisture and wind, and even went to some college football games. Enjoyed the real spirit of Christmas, and learned that when sorrow takes over your whole life and it literally feels hopeless, you can still get a new apartment and God still loves you, so it ends up ok. Some of my closest people live here and I am excited to return, maybe even someday for another baptism of a miracle man.

Plaquemine: Out of all my areas I learned the most about Patience here in Plaquemine, about working at the right time in the right place, and for the very right reason of the Love of God. I have seen so much success and I won't be here but some more people should enter the covenant waters. I have made so many many close friends as I have taught the gospel, and it seems like even when I feel like nothing is amounting, miracles pour from heaven in this place. This is where I knew that my long hard mission had truly been received by the Lord and that all of my efforts and patience and kindnesses and even my weaknesses were all for the betterment of me. Here is where I saw the hand of God touch each day. :)
 oh here is some service pics, Sisters Mcbride and Fristoe, and me and Hendricks, for Sister Tingle who recently lost her husband.  We love her, so we did her yard work hardcore in the heat!!!!!! 

Larkin: the best trainer handssss down, he taught me how to work hard.

Hepworth: he taught me how to not be critical and to not care what others think!

Barker: he showed me how to love and what pure friendship and brotherhood was, also my love of the scriptures came with him.

Anderson: Exercise, and especially tender compassion.

Staley: How to laugh more, and work hard, and prioritize, and see the people as they are.

Ralph: Absolutely how to have fun and gain great understanding, Some solid Unity and how to learn best.

Allen: He honestly taught me how to be a good Councillor and dad, and that the need to relax was a great need indeed. Also optimism and big smiles.

Carter: So much love and understanding and excitement and suffering but also persevering and integrity and how to progress and self control. 

Jensen: 2 Weeks is enough time to bond :)

Rogers: How to be patient, and how to love no matter what, see through God's eyes. Also how to be independent.

Hendricks: How to console, how to bond, how to keep moving forward.

Lots of lessons indeed, also some pics from my b-day, LOVE Y'ALL SEE YOU SOON

-Elder Joshua Dean Rush 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Lord Knows Us...

June 13th 2016

Dear Friends and Family, 
  This week was full of great things that happened so I will give an outline and then I will get to the part that truly matters which is the spiritually fulfilling points in all these events. We Had Elder Kopischke of the Seventy come to our mission to reorganize the Stake Presidency here in Baton Rouge, but he also made time for us as Missionaries. He came with the Spirit of the Lord to instruct us on anything that was placed on our hearts to question or to ask. It was a wonderful meeting and I had great hopes for the future of this mission, and had a confirmation that thus far I have been moving on the path the Lord sees fit for me. How great is the Master's Plan, for it is our personal plan.
He then addressed us for Stake Conference and he said that strengthening families in zion, activating members, and then receiving referrals is the most successful and most important way to do missionary work; and I sure felt happy inside cause our recently activated Brother brought his friend to the conference and all the general authorities invited any visitors to be baptized and he says he felt something. WOO!

Time is running short but maybe in the near future there will be souls coming in or back to the kingdom, it's been so nice to see the Saviour work in this area, He amazes me indeed.

The Lord knows us, our plans, and our hearts, let our hearts be one, like Zion, so we can be partakers of the blessings of that city of old taken up. Love you all so so so so much. I am going to a BBQ with all the Elders today so I must bid you adieu.

love -elder joshua dean rush
A bayou runs through Plaquemine

Friday, June 3, 2016

Crawfish boil, I think I can I think I can, Last Transfer, and much more!

April 11th 2016,

Dear Family and friends,

  I am wayyyy sorrries, I forgot pictures again, but maybe someday I will upload them, but for now I will try to just make this entertaining... It probably won't be but I wll try to be more spiritual this time and maybe that will be more rewarding to read. 
This week we had our annual branch crawfish boil, and I have eatin' at them a million times, but I have never seen or held live crawfish. I was able to do this and watch how they actually do what they do when they are being boiled and such. 
It was amazing to see so many part-member families and Less-actives at the boil. I mean we had twice as many people as at church, which is too bad, but you know what? everyone treated each other with real kindness and respect and the Spirit was felt there. The Lord works among his children in ways we do not understand, and when we righteously gather together to enjoy one another we can reap the benefits of love for our brothers and sisters. 

  I have learned in exquisite detail how to be patient in these last few months. Just everyone around me wants to test it, but ya know I feel like I can really say that it's grown, and I hate being patient :), so it's impressive that Christ has improved me greatly in this aspect. All through service as I teach or with hold or especially as I listen. Common theme of the Work and of sacrifice is that God will give you His strength through His Son. He took our place once and He does it again and again. 

I love this little branch and I am hoping that some of the wonderful people can come back soon. I know some have back in DeRidder and that gives me hope that at least even when I leave somehow what I did will help the Lord accomplish all his purposes! In de nombre JesuCristo Amen

Love -Elder Joshua Dean Rush
Went on splits with Elder Butler, it was awesome!

April 18th 2016,

We have 3 families progressing. 2 live in a place called Donalsonvile. Our old investigator who is struggling with a drinking problem referred us to his friend and he is very open and even writes notes when he reads the Book of Mormon. 
Love yall -Elder Rush
Last District Meeting....of Last Transfer!

 The Apes

April 25th 2016
Dear Family and Friends,

 Okay answering questions: I feel motivated and the week went fine. It wasn't nearly as "productive" but we still did essentially what was available to do. Can't do the very best every every single week! Always must do better than the last but as good as you can get it now. It's good to know day by day mistake after mistake that when we are progressing forward in this life that we still have the Testimony and the Revelation of truths before us. We can understand if we just look for it and that no question truly has to go unanswered if your heart is ready to receive an answer. 

 Learned a lot about understanding other people this week. I mean I have always understood needs but never on a level as deep as is required of a mission. We have all these less actives, for instance, who are having hurt feelings or having a hard time just making that first step to attend church. I mean out here its miles and minutes a plenty to go, but not only that but I really can understand them and the feelings they feel of de-motivate or distress. Thankfully this empathy isn't without a price. It is a great way to experience the Atonement. We have had a few people come back to church.

 The sisters had a baptism this week and its one of the first ones here in like a good amount of years, therefore, everyone was super pumpedddd. Hardly anyone showed up for the dunk itself but I mean everyone has to come to church for the confirmation right??? ha, well mostly. She is a sweet lady so humble and ready for the kingdom, I think she will hold out pretty well, ya know.
 More good news is a family in Donaldsonville (like 30 miles away but a ton of people live there) are progressing and reading the Book of Mormon and committed themselves! yes! to come to church.
Turns out the secret to getting people to do things is just have them make their own commitments based on what they learn and feel. I don't have to hardly invite any of these people just teaching them supporting them and asking them simply to wonder what Christ would have them do, they decided in their hearts to  repent OR they ask us "what can we do" This is exactly what the people asked Peter in Acts Chapter 2. 

  The Work is slow it is toilsome but it is preparing to bring forth a greattttt abundance for the kingdom.

love you alll ammmen - elder joshua dean rush

Crawfish Bowl

 Holdin' 'em Live
 Me and Sister Emaly McBride from Hyrum Utah hooray

May 2nd 2016,
Dear Family and Friends and Anyone I guess else who reads this? Does anyone really read this or ya'll just waiting until I come home at this point? anyways long intro.

  Well bad news is I'm sick today and have been for 3 days. Thank the Lord though that I still received  A) sacrament and B) some Nyquil to alleviate my symptoms. I am feeling much better than yesterday so don't even worry. The Branch was sad that we were gone and prayed for me to feel better and then Bro. Bergious from the presidency came and gave us the sacrament, so when it comes to Sunday, it was pretty darn fulfilling. 
 Due to it raining almost non-stop this week, we have been on and off lockdown for a few days, what made this more exciting was the fact that we did exchanges with the LSU elders annnnnnnnnnnnnd our zone leaders, so we were busy and flooding. With LSU we had institute and I met all the YSA there including Terry Parker who was a missionary while I was in Amite, but lives there now, I was real close with his mom Tanya, so it was a nice reunionnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!
  Went with zone leaders to get some wings and fried Oreos, pretty much the best thing that you can get in a combo. It was really great getting to go to free speech alley with LSU, but that only lasted for awhile. The Zone leaders are both old friends and one previous companion of mine, Elder Allen from Natchitoches, so we got to go back to the old times of working together.

Good weeek love yalllllllllllllllllllll -Elder Rush

I think this is Josh's zone at the Louisiana Baton Rouge Temple

 I think this is Josh's district and Brother and Sister Lawes (a senior couple)

May 23rd 2016,
Dear Friends and Family, 
  This week I am going to try to do a better letter and maybe try to do this until I go home but we will see how that works out. I just got my last companion Elder Hendricks he is from Albuquerque New Mexico and what a guy!
This new week of this last transfer I feel like the Miracles are pouring out and my steam is starting to add up! It's like the little engine that could and I find myself daily saying that good ole phrase "I THINK I CAN.. I THINK I CAN" also coupled with the fact that the Spirit of God says to me, also, that indeed I can, indeed I can. It is such a comfort to have made it and to have progressed and to have done good for the Lord. You look back and you see huge positives even among the negatives, and it's almost like the hard things get forgotten. 
  We had some miraculous lessons and results this week. If I could have done back flips I would have. 4 Less-active members and 1 Investigator came to church and, my goodness, I cannot tell you how exciting that is! One of those less actives it took forever to find out where they lived but man was it the right timing, he has been back 3 weeks in a row, without any sign of stopping. HE EVEN, is thinking heavily about serving a mission as well...kid near makes me cry every lesson we have with him. He just let the Spirit in and he is making changes and he isn't giving up either, it's like how the gospel is exactly supposed to work. Jesus is real impressive!
When those lost sheep get found and you take them back to the fold, there is something sacred about the fact that you are only but a servant of the Shepherd but that He safely carries home each individual as you but seek them out and encourage their return to the Master Shepherd.
I have a real testimony folks about Christ, This Church of His, and his anointed Prophet Joseph Smith and now Thomas Monson. It isn't a joke and it isn't easy and sometimes it makes 0 sense, but having understood the workings of the Spirit. It is undeniable!

love you all :) -elder joshua dean rush

We had a Nerf war on p-day because there are thousands of bullets
 and guns just sittin' in the LSU Elders apartment. Ssoooo we had fun as a zone!


Me saying goodbye to Lola the Jeep. 
We got a brand new Corolla cause after 3 different times of me driving this old Jeep, sooo done.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Zoo, Easter, Hospital visits, General Conference and more!

March 14, 2016
woot woot

Dear Friends and Family,
rainbow deliverance

 Finally after days of floating about we sent the dove out and it brought us an olive leaf and we headed for land!! No not really that dramatic here in Plaquemine, in other places in Louisiana however that is a tale sad but true. It did rain gallons of water on us and we had to stay inside a lot of the week, but nothing serious happened that we are aware of. Heart goes out to all the people severely affected by the storms. 
Well with all that disheartening business happening I will have you know the week still went well. Really if 1 or 2 of the days goes well you essentially have a great week as a missionary. Got to look at them upsides or you gonna be upsides down.
focused on the animals...
  Monday at the zoo was perfect. It is in the boundary of Baton Rouge and not too far from a place called Baker Zachary which is north Baton Rouge and close to us as long as you get across the river. Such a splendid time, I have lots of pictures but i will only send the best ones and we can all worry about the other ones later. It was so fun to see some old friends again and be with a bunch of missionaries. The zoo on Monday is the perfect time to go because no one is there. The only disappointing factor was that there were no penguins and no lions. Thankfully the next best wild cat, the Tiger was there waiting for us to behold his glorious beautyyyyy!

  After that, almost all of us missionaries got flooded and the weather and sad countenance of the sky caused us all to get really really sick. It was really hard to function with headaches and crazy tiredness and sore body, it was really weird. The work went to near zero for awhile, because the entire city had gotten sick or had been affected by the storm or something, it was sad to see everyone so downtrodden. It's thankfully always in due time after sorrow, that the Lord delivers. On Friday, we went to see our investigator family after several failed attempts all day and some Tylenol to ease the aches. They were all fighting...and yelling, mostly our investigator dad with his father they all have some substance issues and this was causing a huge rift. Thankfully Elder Rogers and I showed up at the perfect time to settle things down and bring the Spirit into their lives right when they needed it. God calmed them all down as we testified of the Atonement of Christ. That it's power combined with that of the will within them could heal all the wounds and free them from sin and addiction. That if they truly wanted it, they were going to need to make a change and pursue church and a changed life. This weird moment when everyone in the neighborhood comes over right at that time (happens a lot in the hood) to see what was goin' on with their friends. A friend of our investigators came over and he listened and expressed his desire to come with us to church the next day and learn to change and overcome his addictions as well. We testified again and everyone said they were coming the next day. Now before we get excited, the dad and 2 of his daughters showed up but it was the Spirit that they felt that mattered and everyone who wanted to but didn't come will come if they remember. 
Church was perfect. 
Change is the name of the game and Jesus is the best teamate. 

love yall - elder joshua dean rush

Elder Romero made the bird dance. 

March 21, 2016
Dearest Family and all you Friends out there,

  Hello y'all, get ready for some crazy. I will just lay it out real straight for you. Our progressing investigator who has been coming to church is a nice black dude with one leg. Guy really loves us and the gospel and is on track for baptism as soon as we can teach the man. The unfortunate thing about this week is that his sister kinda did him dirty by trying to uhh hurt him? She cut him up pretty bad and he had to get some stitches and we showed up at the hospital FLIPPIN' OUT. He was way fine but man that was some intense stuff. To make things ever more difficult his mother passed away this last Saturday night and, of course, you can't make it to church the next day when that happens. We visited them and I think I've seen more tears of joy and sadness from this sweet family than I ever thought I would.
 If y'all know how to pray, if you could just do that, I would be so grateful ;D
  Okay so onto some better news and better days. The work is becoming crazy to keep up with and I love it. It's like a great chase to get so much done, because we have lots of people to teach, reach, and love!! We found a bunch of new families 22 miles away, in a city bigger than Plaquemine called Donaldsonville and they are super cool and progressing now looking for a church yay. Less-active work is working and all is well over here and I am excited to see what this next week holds.

Miracles every day -love elder joshua dean rush

did some service and there was...a lot of grass so Elder (assistant to the president) Brown and I are in the same district and on exchanges and therefore he captured this obscure service moment, lots of grass

March 28, 2016
Dear family and those of you still reading these letters,

  Had such a fun time this week sharing in all the Easter festivities and Christlike love that comes about from this season of worship.
The most noteworthy of events that we went to this week was the annual Jehovah's Witness memorial of the Death of Jesus Christ. Which I can confidently say I enjoyed very very much. The similarities are uncanny and the talk given was sublime on mercy and the goodness of God. I felt closer to Grandma and Grampa Rush :) Everyone there was especially nice and the little lady that invited us saved us a spot and everything. I think we could learn a thing or two from their dedicated service and goodness of heart.
  We didn't' find anyone new this week to teach but we did just meet a lot of people around town. Apparently before Easter Sunday, its a tradition to have a craw fish boil and invite every single person in your neighborhood. We knocked doors a lot Saturday so everyone invited us to eat with them, when the day came to an end, I believe my pants could no longer fit at all until the next day hahaha.
  For the spiritual experience this week: We went to teach our part member family that we have been teaching for a while now that we see weekly who live wayyyy out in a place called Grosse Tete, and the mom is the only member and we have been teaching her girls. Her older daughter joined us this week and we shared the Easter video and both her and her younger sister and probably everyone in the room felt the Spirit and acknowledged it. It's a small thing I know, but when people feel it and can say they feel something its a huge milestone in the direction of spiritual strength. 
I have learned to love the people down here and I miss everyone in all my old areas lately and I honestly feel homesick for the the rest of Louisiana, its a strange feelings, but I know that the Saviour is the one who instills these feelings in all of us. 

love yall - elder joshua dean rush

also i never took yall on a tour of the apartment sooo here weee goooo
the only lights we have are
"clean room"

April 5, 2016
Dear Friends and family, 

  This week was wonderful. It was a bit strange due to the fact that Elder Rogers was on LSU campus all week and I was with a certain Elder Butler, but he is my new best friend in the whole UNIVERSE. :D Exchanges as a missionary are very weird sometimes, because randomly you have to switch living with the person you have been with for weeks to someone you barely even know. Thankfully, the Lord blesses those who choose kindness over skepticism. Reality is that the whole week was a blast that just kept on lasting. We planned to only go for a day but General Conference and miles for our cars just didn't match up until switch back Monday morning. It was good to find a brand new friend that you could teach the gospel with and meld with right off the bat. Such a refreshing spirit that brings.

  General conference was amazing and very helpful for me. I always like the talks that give suggestions on how to improve or at least the ones that tell me what the best options are so I can try to get there myself. I felt a special connection with Elder Oaks talk focusing on temples and the miracles that they bring into our lives. The Way God lives is found in those special buildings and we are taught how to be more like Christ and our Father in Heaven, free from distraction and temptation for a short while. This all and the salvation of our ancestors, it is a very significant phrase Joseph Smith said, That we cannot be saved without our dead and they without us. If we only ever went to the temple once to learn we would not be able to remember or progress. Therefore, serving our dead gives us responsibility and helps us develop charity and reminds all of us of the covenants we have made in this life. 

I hope all y'all are doing so great 

love -Elder Joshua Dean Rush

(p.s. pictures coming sometime later. sorryyy i forgot cameraaa)

THIS was so nice to see after 5 days of grey BLAHH :DDDDDDDDDDDDDD

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Spirit is such a good missionary...

Feb. 29, 2016
My backyard tree :-)
Dear Friends and family,

  Week was great! We went to the temple again, I cannot remember if I mentioned it a few weeks ago, but this time I got to go with my good friend, Elder Johnson from Washington, who was up in Many while i was in Natchitoches. He followed me down here and is now my fearless leader ;)
  I've really grown to appreciate the people around me, especially in the form of leaders or missionaries or plain wise fold who live about me. It isn't as if I had never noticed, but it is that now I realize it is quite a blunder to not notice the enduring and kind things filled with wisdom that others share. 
People keep telling me I'm great but I fight it always, but the fact it keeps happening must mean that I have great friends!!
When people stick up for me, even when they would probably rather not.
Loving me when I can't even love myself.
  This is why a lot of confidence has come my way. It wasn't a miraculous spiritual phenomena, though at times it felt as such, but a process of accepting the good things inside without seeking after it so much. Letting the Lord do His job through the people He Gives that love me.
 Elder Brown's secret birthday party
 (he's the assistant to the president)

  The Sappy stuff out of the way. A 15 yr old girl of LA agrees to be baptized this week. Pretty wonderful! A 16 year old boy also agrees to be taught and eventually baptized this week, with possible families gettin' involved. 
Lots of work, lots of people that need to come back, and tons of potential. Finding many families, very strange but very fun, indeed. The Spirit is such a good missionary I tell you what. The Lord is doing some good work here in Plaquemine and it's fun to watch Him do it. 

LOVEEEEE - Elder Joshua Dean Rush

Three turns into two....Movin' forward....

Feb. 15, 2016
Dear family and friends,
A pic of the homemade crawfish etoufee
  This week was a spectacular week. It is also a stressful week due to it being transfers, and we have no idea what is going to happen to our trio. It will be sad to be broken up, but its a very likely option, and so it goes in missionary life. 
  The highlights of the week go perfectly together. While teaching one of our investigators, we were able to commit them to church and obtain a number to call them. Sunday rolls around and we call him and then pick him up and he was ready. He loved the whole 3 hours and is bringing his whole darn cute little family with him next week. I said to God in my Prayers that night, "well shucks God thou art ever awesome."
  All of our Less-active members are progressing and feel the Spirit and it seems like everything in the world of the work here is just so perfect it's almost unreal. It helps that all of us in this triforce have such a positive and happy outlook that nothing can go but right, when we are on the errand for Jesus Christ, which makes everything seem much brighter, even when tornadoes are all around! :D 
  Went to Donaldsonville, learned that even when you give your testimony people still use that sweet God given agency to slap you right in the face (not literally) but we don't care we just movvvvvveee onn!!! 
The lessons learned and the moments never forgotten in Plaquemine, it's pretty significant it's only been 3 weeks. Blessings come in the time that the Lord decides. 
Love y'all sooo so much :)

-Elder Joshua Dean Rush

Feb. 22, 2016
Dear Friends and Family,
 Another week gone by, and no longer as three but two once again. Elder Rogers and I are getting quite a bit done despite the newness of my being to this area.
  I Love Plaquemine, it has rough patches just like any place does, but there are so many great people hiding everywhere. Some of those people have already heard the gospel and accepted once but now need to remember and come back to what matters most :) We have been helping several with this. We have seen some tears with one family and honestly sigh's of relief as we showed up at their door, knowing quite well why we were there. 
  Every time we invite someone to act, it's like a little light shines in them, and for a moment they can accept or reject. It is so wonderful when they accept it, even better when they do it. 
I feel like I repeat the same things from week to week, but I guess that is just how the gospel works? At least, I don't say it in the exact some way as far as I am aware. Easier to teach when it is something familiar in your mind ya know?
 So we have been trying this house lately, that houses some members who haven't been in a while, and we show up this Friday and they actuallllly let us onnnn in! They were like wellll sureee, of course, you can come in elders. Good moment. Only one of the family wants to come back and the rest are happy being Catholic, but he is like 28 and was raised LDS so he is pretty top notch. Definitely coming back. Assuredly.
Also found like a bunch of part-member families and that always turns into investigators and for a branch this size, we got some real fine stuff goin' on. Movin' forward keepin' calm and gettin' blessings. 
Love so much -Elder Joshua Dean Rush
p.s. I know I come home soon, but i haven't heard anything from a few of you and it makes emailing short for me honestly, but I definitely would like to know how life is going?! Just...just a side note.  :-) :-)