thanks Dad for the email, that is great you got a break - everyone needs a time to just sit back and unwind for a second. hey, we as missionaries have a whole day devoted to preparation but at the same time a break from our hard work as proselyting.
i have no idea the name of the cousin of Grandpa's, i might recognize it if i heard it but i don't know. i actually did meet someone who met grandpa two days before - the family i ate christmas dinner with, the grandma there met him two days before, and she is connected with him (very indirectly) because Ruth Ann's first husband (crandall?) was this woman's cousin. wow, that sounds like the riddle "this man's father was my father's son". sorry to maybe confuse you!
thanks for your words too, Dad, about Focus (at least that's what i got from it). that you're trying to get everyone to focus more on the good and "building up of the kingdom" than problems. that is something that is an eternal principle. focusing on the good things in life is not ignoring the bad, it is purposely choosing to focus on the good things in life, and therefore search them and savor them. (..."we seek after these things"). and that simple fact will do wonders for any man (or woman) because there will most definitely come into their life an added measure of gratitude for the good things that we've been given, which is really something missing from this world. there seems to be so much hate and bitterness towards God from people, and i feel when i try to help them that they basically say to me that i can love God and also be a happy person because i've had an easy life, that they've gone through things that i cannot imagine. Of course a few times that has made my pride kick in but i've gotten past that and realized that no one has an easy life. yes they've experienced things in their life i can't fathom because i simply haven't experienced them! I can say that same thing to them as well however, even if they might have gone through things that do seem "harder to go through" for the world. But i feel i might have figured out why this whole arguement has always rang wrong to me. it is because we all will go through bitterness in this life, there will never be anyone who doesn't, and it is not up to us to "deal with" our trials or become embittered because of them. because of our entire purpose of being here on earth we need to overcome, triumph over our adversity. we need to be humble and sensitive to the ways we need to change to more become like our Savior. there's a scripture in Romans (4 i think) that says that paul glories in tribulation because we become better from it! and that can and should be true - just like how in the Book of Mormon the people either became hardend because of the long warfare between the Nephites and the Lamanites, or they became softened and humble and closer to God. So (and while i say this know i am not being judgemental - i will do this same thing i'm condemning sometimes, but i'll always try not to) those who say that they are not sure God loves them or are having trouble with things in their past need a change of attitude that will not only let them triumph despite their past, but make them happier people. another thing i just realized is that there is no solid correlation between righteous and happy people and absence of trials. it is not the abscence of trials or sin that make people more like christ - it is the overcoming of temptations and trials and repenting that we become like Him and our Heavenly Father. That has made a huge difference in my life, and i hope i can help it make a difference in everyone around me and their life.
but i'd just like to end with a paragraph of gratitude:
I'm very thankful for my parents for their love, support, help, patience, and righteousness - it made it so much easier to learn more and try to be a better person. I'm thankful for my siblings who have always, always loved me for who i was and were always patient with me as well. Every one of them have left a deep impression on my soul in ways that i will always be grateful for. I'm very thankful for my membership in the church of our Heavenly Father, because i've been able to feel his love and guidance in very large ways - especially through church leaders and the scriptures. I'm so very thankful to my friends, who made it easy to be a better person and to love life, and to also see that we, together, can accomplish things that i alone could never dream of. They're awesome. And i could keep going but i'll leave my email to that right now - don't feel left out if i didn't specifically mention you, Helaman didn't mention any of his stripling warrior "sons" (i LOVE how they called him "father") names individually, but you could tell he loved each and every one of them. and i know that that is the same with heavenly father. I love you all and hope you have the best week of your life up to this point!