Atonement & Agency

Dear Family and Friends,

What a wonderful strength it gives me to know that I am a son of Heavenly Father. To know that I have a Father that has that much knowledge and wisdom. To know that he loves me forever no matter the circumstances. He will always be there for us when we truly seek him in our lives, even sometimes when we don’t he is still there.

Just like my parents told me not to run in the road, or not to touch the hot stove. I didn’t know why, I didn’t know that a car moving 25 mph hitting me would lead to a lot of suffering, but they did. Heavenly Father has the knowledge to know that the way that I can find the least amount of suffering in this life is to follow the plan that He has created. Just like I didn’t know about the cars or what a hot stove would do to my tiny hands; I don’t always know why he has asked me to do things or what the out come would be if I disobey. However I do have the trust to know that if He has asked me to do it then it is for my benefit, safety, and salvation and is of the utmost importance.

Just like my parents want me achieve all that I am able. Heavenly Father wants me to achieve everything that I am able, which is more then we can dream of. I, and everyone that has ever lived and will ever live, am part of the lineage of Heavenly Father. I am a heir to a throne and kingdom, as is everyone, because we are children of a Heavenly Father. I have a birth rite to claim, but He has given us agency to choose. I for a long time in my life was using that agency to chose to not follow the path that Heavenly Father has laid out. I chose to wonder down paths of un-inheritance choosing to throw away my birth rite. The inheritance that He has to give is one of eternal happiness, full of our families and loved ones with the rites to an eternal family that will grow forever.

I have let this knowledge shape my life to what it is today, I have been able to use my agency to turn my life around from what it was to what it is; made possible through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Without that sacrifice there would be no way to receive the inheritance. I have been able to see and feel the change in my own life that has come from becoming like a child, and just trusting that Heavenly Father knows what I need and knows the way back.

To end here is a scripture to that sums it up very clearly
Mosiah 3:19 in the Book of Mormon

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love,willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

I love all of you so much thank you for you prayers and love

Love,
Elder Steven Cordon

Good Week

Dear Family and Friends,

Well another wonderful week on the Lords Errand. The Butterfly ward is really feeling the blessings of the Lord as two people yesterday entered the waters of baptism! One lady was from the sisters and another lady was from the mandarin elders. Its amazing that after 2 and a half years of no baptism in a two month period we have seen 4 people come unto Christ. Its really the Lords pouring his blessing upon the area and I am truly blessed to witness this mighty change of hearts.

This last week spent with my summer missionary has been super awesome! He is an amazing man. He was baptized a year ago and is a killer missionary. I dont know if I have learned more in any previous week on my mission! His testimony is so powerful! This last week we have met a few people who I could picture in white! from when I first met them. We continue to see new miracles every single day.

Something that just happened this morning is when i was doing studies president called me and i was not sure why but he is asking me to train. this is by complete surprise because elder au has only a little time left and I have been here for quite some time now. But it will be an amazing opportunity and I hope to fulfill it to the best of my abilities!

Well love you all and remember that life is good.

Love Elder Jared Cordon

Slightly Scatter-Brained

Dear Family and Friends,

So much happened this past week!! Where do I even begin…

Well I learned a lot of valuable lessons like always. I am learning to love the way that God works with me. I’ll compare that to working out–which I do frequently because the gospel is very easily comparable to working out. If your arms are weak, then you focus on your arms during a workout session; however, when you are working your arms for that moment you may be neglecting your legs. Now here is where perspective comes into play, I could be frustrated that at any given moment I never have balance because I am always neglecting some muscle group, or I could be at peace because looking at the bigger picture I know that after a weeks time I have worked every muscle group and in the end I am always achieving balance as long as I stick to the workout routine. The lesson I am hoping to teach from that is that as long as you are consistently working at improving you will maintain a balanced life even if it doesn’t seem that way. The trick to being able to see it comes by maintaining an eternal perspective by keeping your eye on your future potential, just as someone who begins a serious workout routine keeps their motivation by seeing what they want to begin.

Anyway enough of those work out metaphors.

This past week was fairly eventful! I was able to go to the part of Jacksonville known by the locals as “Sin City” and do some work with one of the Elders there, which was an interesting experience. I forgot how many strange people reside in the ghetto. Those people are thinking on a whole other wavelength than the middle class people i teach. I am starting to think that class structure is far more based on mindset rather than opportunity.

The next day I worked my own area with an Elder who knew my room-mate in college before the mission. It is such a small world! We had some awesome success that day! We had the blessing of teaching one of the most prepared people ever! His name is Willy. He is retired army and 100% self-motivated. Before we even taught him the word of wisdom he had begun quitting cigarettes and even called the number to the addiction recovery group in the sacrament meeting program to set up a meeting. It has been such a blessing. He is scheduled to get baptized on 6th of september because that is when his wife will be in town. Yesterday at church he brought his friend Joe who he has been teaching the gospel too at work! In class he was bearing testimony of his conversion! It was so awesome!

Another great thing we did was Saturday morning we went and cleaned up the backyard of the mother of a recent convert in the ward. It was nice to get my hands dirty, it reminded of all those days in New York I spent doing landscaping. We cut down a few trees, trimmed the bushes and raked leaves. It was an amazing transformation!

Anyhow… that was my week!

I love y’all!

Elder Joshua Cordon

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I decided my desk could pass for an I-Spy game. I took the picture though because it contained so many telling elements. That I thought were notables can you find them? (By the way, the only stage item is my name tag)

What Name Are You Wearing?

Dear Family and Friends,

Moroni 7:15 & 19
15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.
19 Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.

The world is falling farther and farther away from the teachings of Christ, as they fall, we need to keep ourselves surrounded by the light of Christ. We have been given the tools we need to know where the Lord stands and where we need to stand. God is unchanging he is the same yesterday, today, and forever; we need to make sure that we don’t let the world change were we stand just because the world changes.

It is the responsibility of every member of the church to be a firm unchanging representative of Jesus Christ, every Sunday we are reminded and promise that we take His name upon us. For every person that has not yet taken upon themselves the covenant of baptism, I challenge you to search for yourselves where you want to be standing and who you want to be standing with.

There are so many things in this life that can distract us from the true purpose of why we are here. Satan does a very good job of filling our lives up with fog keeping us blinded from the end goal and the dangers that lay all around. Christ is that spotlight and as 19 says “search diligently” find the light and never let it out of sight.

Unlike Rome, not all roads lead to heaven. So we need to make sure that we are traveling on the right road. I have noticed that members of the church get very comfortable where they are at and dont even realize that they are wondering in the fog. One thing that I have learned on my mission is the great responsibility we truly have with taking upon us the name of Jesus Christ. When you can see it on your person everyday it keeps it at the front of your mind. The important thing to remember is that even if you dont wear a name tag you still wear is name by just belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have to be living up to that standard every day of our lives.

I am so grateful for what i am learning on my mission, to learn how to make my life Christ centered is going to make my life the best that it can be. We are here for one reason, that is to become more like Christ every day; as long as that is our focus then He will make sure that the things that we need to succeed in this life are taken care of.

I love that I get to be a missionary and the lives that are being changed around me and my life that is being changed just builds my testimony everyday, that this work is truly being guided by God. I know that he loves me personally and that he knows everyone so personally and all he wants is for us to join him, and live the way that he has set up for us to achieve the most amount of happiness.

I am so grateful for the knowledge that I have, but I know that it comes with such a great responsibility and if I don’t live up to my end I know that I have a lot to answer for. I love everyone for all of the support and the prayers you are in mine.

I seal this in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

Elder Steven Cordon

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Just Do It!

Dear Family and Friends,

This past week was a rather exciting one! We got the privilege of going to Gainesville to do an exchange with some elders there. For morning exercise we ran bleachers at the UF stadium known as “The Swamp.” Not gonna lie, I almost threw up. After racing the other elders up the entire bleachers I was finished. My legs were wobbling for the next hour. It was a pretty fun little trip. We took some bikes there for some sisters too who had ordered them, and put them together for them before dropping it off at there place. During all the road-tripping I kept my hands busy by working on making a satchel out of paracord. I am making up the design as I go and beside a few hick-ups it is coming along rather nicely. Stay tuned for the final product.

I don’t have much time, but I want to share a wonderful lesson that I learned this week. I will call it the principle of “Just Do It.” I am amazed at the false philosophy taught by the world that we are a product of our environment. It never ceases to amaze how prevalent this way of thinking is in modern thinking. However, to show the world that this is not true, I will share a simple example of how I applied this principle.

While I do consider myself to be a fairly positive person that does not change the fact that in the world we live in, it is very easy to be negative. All it take is to watch the news for a week and you have enough material to be negative about politics, the economy, religion, and society for a month! Sadly many people get caught up in all that. Even in missionary work, while we are surrounded by endless miracles, and endless reasons to praise God and be grateful, there is also negative. Sometimes I find myself getting frustrated at the sight of some missionaries who I know have the potential to be so much more than they are, yet they chose to live far below their privileges. Such were the feelings that enveloped my heart and mind for a middle part of the week last week, which culminated in a vent session that left me emotionally and spiritually drained. It was at that point that I realized that I am benefited in no way by endlessly speaking of negative things. My companion and I made a pack that we would be the most positive set of people in any given room at any given time, mostly because God has given us every reason to be. Just like that, in a brief moment, I as a person changed. It wasn’t too dramatic, but it was enough to dramatically change my outlook on life.

From this simple example I learned a few lesson that I hope to share with you at this time. The first is this, that at any given moment in your life, you are presented the opportunity because of our Savior Jesus Christ to change. You can this very instance decided to be a better person. The only thing stopping you is yourself. The second lesson I learned or relearned rather, was to be grateful for the fact that God lets us fail. He let me slip and fall onto that negative slippery slop for a day, allowing me the opportunity to learn a valuable life lesson. I am grateful that God managed to teach me that powerful lesson in such a short time because as far as I know I am not suffering any lasting consequences from that day haha.

I will conclude my letter with my testimony which is embodied in a scripture from the Book of Mormon. “… And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things.” (1 Nephi 16:29) I love this work and I love my God. I am grateful the small moments of weakness in my life that allow me the opportunity to learn valuable life lessons. That all of you will take advantage of those same opportunities is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I love Ya’ll!! Have a blessed week!

Elder Joshua Cordon

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Good Things to Come

Dear Family and Friends,

First things first Aaron got the priesthood and it was an amazing thing indeed. Thats the part I really look forward in taking part in. Thats when he receives the greatest tool and blessing the of dear beloved Heavenly Father has to offer. Right now we are working with the ward to strengthen these recent converts and getting the Butterfly Ward prepared for the many more the Lord has in store.

We were worried about Gary this last week, he seemed really off and of course I get worried about him and the gospel. Its hard for me sometimes to think of a world outside of the gospel. It turned out to be just work and he is still moving a long like he needs to be.

We have been realizing the need to focus on the basics the need for new members and investigator to read and pray is everything. I have to come to realize that its our personal devotion to God thats everything. Thats what makes our church so special than what I have come to realize is typical Christianity. God really expects everything from us.

We have been blessed with some miracles this last week. We have been finding it hard to fit finding time in. So when we have it we appreciate it even more. But what we have seen is no matter the length of time the Lord has put a prepared person in our way. We have been able to meet two fathers whose main interest is in their families. How great will be my joy when they enter the waters of Baptism I could picture them in white when I saw them!

Now we are blessed with this opportunity to have summer missionaries. These are young men and women in hong kong who are willing to be a full time missionary for two weeks. So my companionship is split and now Butterfly has 4 elders. I have a great opportunity to influence this young man for the rest of his life. The great thing is he is actually a recent convert. We are gonna see miracles these next two weeks.

PS I say the word miracles so easily cause Its just a common thing you see when your on the Lord errand. Its also not restricted to missionaries. “The Lord is no respecter of persons”

I love you all.

Elder Jared Cordon

This has been a GREAT year!

Dear Family and Friends,

This coming Saturday will be one year, one year sense I knew that this gospel was the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. That Joseph Smith saw God the Father and his son, our brother, Jesus Christ in a grove of trees in Palmyra NY in 1820. It has been such a wonderful year I am so glad that I had the courage to go to the pageant.

In this last year I have let the gospel change my life. The promise that we get, that following the gospel makes us the best that we can be is VERY TRUE. It is so weird to think that it was only just a year ago that I didn’t know that this church was true and now I am on a mission and am through my first transfer.

So crazy news about this first transfer I am getting a new trainer. Elder Lafond is getting transferred and I am getting Elder Butters to finish out my next 6 weeks of training. SO… it is kinda weird to think, we just assumed that we had 3 months together and so it did come as a shock. I am excited though because God is in the details of the mission and so I know that I am supposed to learn something from this so can’t wait to see what that is. A quote from President Lorenzo Snow, who was the prophet from 1898-1901.

“There is no mortal man that is so much interested in the success of an elder when he is preaching the gospel as the Lord that sent him to preach to the people who are the Lord’s children.”

The Lord is invested in the success of our missions and He wants us to grow in the gospel and He wants us to become the best missionaries that we can be. He knows what that will take and he will give us the things and challenges that we need to mold us into the missionaries he needs us to be and the best we can be.

I am so excited about this next transfer and what it will bring. So a quote from me.

“There are many things a person CAN be, but the focus needs to be on what you SHOULD be.”

The gospel can change you to the best person that you can be so let it. Everyone can be perfected, so don’t get distracted by the things that aren’t in that direction.

Sorry this letter is so short next week will be longer :)

I love you all
Elder Steven Cordon
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Update on Sister Feathers (the bird we are teaching the gospel to) eggs have hatched and now we have two babies living on our porch.

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Washington Sunset

Catch A Vision! A Day of White!

Dear Family and Friends,

Wow… What a week! How is it that things just get better and better? Will it ever stop? Well, according to my belief in progression, nope! Oh how miserable life would be without that knowledge. To literally think that what you have is as good as it gets.

The truth is this, we can always have better, be better, and do better. Our work is never done. Even when we die someday, thanks to Christ, we will still continue to grow and learn if we so desire.

This is essentially the message that I try my best to share with non-members, members, and missionaries. It is a process, but the first step is to help create in them a vision of the future they would like to realize. Proverbs 29:18 reads, “Where there is no vision the people perish.” To create a vision you need to open your mind to the possibilities of what can be, or in other words, you need to raise your expectations. In this vision creating process you should include our loving Heavenly Father. He knows far better than us what we can become and what potential we have. If we heed the promptings of his spirit he will help us raise our expectations. A man may accomplish much in life, but if they do not include God in the creation of their vision they will find at the end of their life that they have still fallen far short of what they could have accomplished in that time. God can make a lot more out of my life than I can. I know from personal experience that that is true.

Once we have grabbed hold of an inspired vision we need find out what it will take to realize that vision. Where are we falling short? As you ponder and discuss what it will take, you need to make goals. You should make enough goals so that if you were to reach all of your goals then you would find yourself reaching your vision.

And then finally the part that I believe is most crucial is the plans. Weston told me in an email a while back the following quote, “A vision without plans is just a dream, and plans without vision is but a nightmare.” We should make detailed plans for how we will accomplish every single goal. Once again, let the spirit of God be present during this process for he will guide you in every step as you make these plans. God knows all things and as we listen to his spirit we may make provision for things we have never considered. Excellence is in the details! So many people in this world have done the first two steps of creating vision and goals, but they never go as far as making specific plans. It is of no surprise to me that these people never reach that original vision they have established for themselves. Plans translate into action! Plans are what allow us to go and make it happen! Plans are what separates the dreamer from the achiever.

But anyway that is what has been on my mind lately.

On to the miracles!! We had a baptism this last Saturday! It was probably the most spiritual baptism I have ever attended. The feelings of love and kindness that where in the air where so thick and tangible that you could cut it with a knife. We had terrific support from the ward and everything could not have gone smoother. We combined our baptism with the sisters missionaries. They had a family of 5 getting baptized and we had the incredible Tara. Just simply recollecting the event has filled my soul with a burning joy that is coursing through my veins. This is what is all about; seeing the change that people have undergone over a life time to be ready for this moment only to begin their new journey of growth in the love and warmth of the family of Christ. On top of that, to see a family baptized and united together in their faith is something truly special. That is one whole family that will be able to be together forever now! This gospel is so good!

A quick note on Tara. She is one of the most amazing women that I have ever met. Her love and appreciation for this knowledge and spirit is unlike anyone I have ever met. Being around her honestly make me question whether or not I fully appreciate as I should the blessing of having the gospel in my life. She has a light about her that brings joy into the hearts of all who interact with her. This ward must be doing something right to be able to receive in its midst such a choice spirit. I still haven’t figured out what it was that I did to deserve the blessing of being her conversion story. I am excited to see what she is able to do from here.

I hope all of you will be able to reach your own potentials by constantly using the process of vision, goals, and PLANS. If you can master that process you will truly be able to experience constant and lively joy in your life. The very joy that I experienced at that baptism, which happened through the very process that I described. GO THE DISTANCE!!

I love y’all! Have a great week!!

Elder Joshua Cordon

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1 more down plenty more to go!

Dear Family and Friends,

Well what a wonderful week we just had. We worked really hard to help Aaron be ready for his baptism and the rest of his life. His baptism was a success! After he was baptized he actually spoke and it was really good. He has an amazing testimony and you can tell he is on the road to conversion as all good members are. Teaching him this last week has really taught me a lot of lessons as we were focusing on the holy ghost and receiving personal revelation. I can look back at my life and realize how much stronger my connection with the spirit is now than at any time previously.

Were also able to see Mike twice this week. We taught him half of the plan of salvation on Wednesday and after he was so excited to learn more he was scheduling the next lesson himself. So we taught him again on Friday after English class. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to teach him the lord has been here for us. Every time we get someone close to baptism I ask the lord whose next and he always has another person ready.

A couple in our ward also had the idea to feed the young men and two of our investigators who are in their friend group and that went so well. Its becoming the cool thing to be part of church for them. We were also able to meet another one of their friends and get a 3rd investigator. It really awesome to see the young men getting in the excitement of missionary and having success doing it. We just teach the all together on Saturdays then play a little basketball. Sadly they were not able to attend church but they will be there next week.

Sister Lau and Sister Syu are doing awesome they are really excited to continue to hear more. We have found out more about there families and are really pushing to meet there husbands this next week, we realize the only way to feel the fullness of this gospel is to have the full family involved, so that is our focus this week. With them living in mainland the best way for retention is to get them all.
Well it was an amazing week and I can see that the Lord will continue to progress his work I am so grateful to take part in the Hong Kong peak service to be able to hear about all the sacrifice made by the Chinese people in building the gospel. This is a blessed to be serving.

Love you all

Elder Jared Cordon

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This is a Beautiful Place!

Dear Family and Friends,

This is such a beautiful place they have taken a desert and turned it into a very beautiful place.

This week there was so many reasons to be grateful. It is remarkable everything that needed to happen so that the gospel could be restored. All of the details that God directed to bring this world out of apostasy is incredible to me. I know that God has his hand in the details of the affairs of this world and his plans and works will progress. The question that we have to ask ourselves is whether we are going to be apart of the work that is happening. I am so grateful to be able to be apart of this work “full time” and am taking down notes on how I can be for the rest of my life.

We are continuing to have wonderful blessing. I am growing in testimony every day, that is easy to do when you study as much as we and talk about it even more. I never tire of feeling the Holy Ghost every time that I testify of truth. I am so grateful for the area that i am in and the people that i get to meet every day.

Phil and Alicia and both moving forward with their faith in finding out for themselves their relationship with God. We gave a church tour to Alicia and what a wonderful experience that was we invited her to be baptized and she is very committed to building her testimony to build her to that moment. She is so good at recognizing the spirit and letting it guide her to make changes in her life.

Phil still has a lot a questions which is really good and he is praying about all of it. I am so excited to see him grow in his faith as we answer the questions he has and show him how he can find his answers through pray and scripture study.

I am almost done with my first transfer, and if feels like just yesterday that I got off the plane with the sun glaring me in the eyes. I am so glad every day that I made the decision to serve a mission. I know that this is where I am supposed to be. I challenge everyone to decide what you can do to be apart of Gods team and DO IT.

ELDER S. CORDON