Blessings of Heaven

Dear Family and Friends,

I feel very grateful. In fact it is to the point that when I stop take in how grateful I feel my eyes begin to immediately moisten, my heart swells, and I seem to be at loss for words adequate enough to describe to any person the joy that fills my soul. Nothing in my life has compared to the last two years, the lessons I have learned and the experiences that I have had have shaped and molded me in unanticipated ways. I do not, and have not regretted it for a moment. I tried my best to cherish every moment, savor every friendship, learn from every mistake, roll with every setback, relish every change, and conquer every trial. I am by no means perfect, but I gave it all I had, and I don’t feel that I am leaving with any stones unturned. Granted there is much work still to do, but I have collected the necessary phone numbers, emails, and Facebook names to make sure that I can help to see it through.

Some have called missionary work a sacrifice, but I never could seem to find out why. Unless you call giving up a few poor habits, a lot of idol thoughts, many childish quirks, and a couple of my favorite songs in exchange for self discipline, a relationship with God, countless eternal friendships, a love for the scriptures, and a deep respect for the eternal nature of families as a sacrifice. I know that my Heavenly Father loves me dearly, and I know that he loves every single person on this planet with the same incomprehensible love. Helping people see that love that their Heavenly Father has for them has enlarged my capacity to see people a little more like the way Heavenly Father sees them. It also has changed my perspective on the world.

I found myself reading accounts of the suffering of the saints in Missouri and of the trials experienced by Alma and Amulek in Alma 14 yesterday for personal study. As I pondered on why I was guided to study those verses and what I could possible take as a lesson at this time in my life I had an ‘aha’ moment. The true blessings of discipleship will never be found, seen, or identified with natural eyes, it requires an eternal perspective to see the things of God. A question I often ask people is what has your faith in Jesus Christ afforded you in your life? The responses I received have varied in scope, but the have been the same in nature. All have focused on material blessings of the gospel. If you lost your wife and kids in a holocaust, were locked up in a prison and food, drink, and clothing were withheld from you, would you still feel blessed and highly favored of the Lord? As Elder Hamilton, a wise missionary companion of mine, once said, “God is less concerned with you temporal well being as he is with you spiritual well being.” The true blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ are “love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22) all of which are given in such eternal abundance that “there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10) These are among the blessings of the gospel I have received during the past two years, they are the blessings that we should strive for; they cannot be denied us regardless of the suffering that could possible be formed against us if we but remain faithful. These are the blessings that I imagine Alma and Amulek would list if they were asked the question.

I know without a doubt in my mind that Jesus Christ is the son of God. That he felt and experienced every pain, temptation, and affliction that I have ever experienced. I know from personal experience that he is always there and is ready and willing to help if we let him. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that a “man will get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book.” (Introduction to the Book of Mormon) I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet today. These things I know of myself and I will bear record of them to all who will but listen until the day I am called to return home. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I love y’all and I will see you soon.

Elder Joshua Cordon

  P.S. Wittney (middle right) was baptized Saturday and it went very well. He was baptized by his friend Christian (middle left). Sunday I was able to confirm him. He looks good in a white shirt and tie, and his future looks even better.

Spirit Led

Dear Family and Friends,

This was an amazing week! Last week had many frustrations despite the fact that we had many miracles, and I let it get to me. However, God taught me a profound lesson this week on Monday that helped to put me in a proper unshaken mindset this week. Here is what happened. Monday was effective and efficient, but we didn’t have any tangible results from our labors yet; nevertheless, we were in good spirits and we pressed forward. At about 8:00 we found ourselves deciding between two different plans that we’re going to take us to different parts of our area. Having resolved which one we were going to do we set off. We tried to take a shortcut that we normally took but they had locked the gate because they were selling the property. We tried to find a new shortcut and just found ourselves bush whacking for a good distance only to find ourselves having either to forge an alligator infested creek, or go all the way back around and take the long way; It was an easy decision, we took the long way. The potential we were going to try wasn’t home, so we knocked on a neighbors door we hadn’t tried last go around.

There were a lot of people home and a lady stepped outside onto the porch to inform us that they had just barely come back from the funeral for their mother and they were just spending a few more minutes with their father. With an expression of sympathy we asked if we might come in and pray with them during this hard time. She said that would be great and invited us inside informing everyone of our entry as we came in. We were invited to take a seat and introductions were made. The mood in the room became more relaxed as we familiarized ourselves for a minute and even laughed a little. Being men of our word we navigated the conversation toward the prayer we were going to offer and I offered it for the group. The Holy Ghost helped me as I offered the prayer and it seemed to touch the hearts of this family in a powerful way. They were visibly moved and expressed gratitude for our concern and love for them. We talked a bit longer and we left them with a DVD on the plan of salvation and our card so that they could call us anytime if they needed any service. The request to do service and help out with any of the yard work seemed to be a cherry on top.

One lady during our parting conversation said that she walked out of the room when we came in because she thought we were missionaries from another church whom she bad experiences with. However, when she heard us close the prayer in the name of Jesus Christ her demeanor changed and she came out to talk with us. We walked out the door feeling that we had just left the home of good friends and feeling very grateful that we got be instruments in the hands of God that evening. It was at that moment that the spirit whispered to me, “that is what missionary work is all about.” Feeling very humbled that I had in some degree let myself forget that lesson I received a renewed vision that has carried me through the week. I am so grateful for the many big and profound lessons that God has taught me in such small and simple ways. My mission is chalk full of experiences that will carry me for the rest of my life.

This last week had many great things happen and I want to share one in particular. Elder Curran and I had about two hours of time we were designate to finding someone to teach. The dinner appointment we had was in a nicer part of town that we had yet to venture and we wanted to get the work started there. We stared at our map like two generals planning a battle plan and finally we decided we would both pick two streets and then we would narrow it down after discussing it. After prayerfully picking the streets we found that two of them were connected and they were the ones we felt most prompted to visit. It was a successful finding time and we met some solid people and taught a couple of lessons. Little did we know that the real miracle was yet to happen. We had planned with one of the people to come back on Sunday.

When Sunday rolled around we weren’t able to meet with one of our potentials, but after getting a lead from one of the neighbors we tried the people next door and that was a miracle find of the month. He let us right in and after getting to know him more and learn of his religious background we taught one of the best lessons in have been part of. The pivotal moment of the lesson was when I felt prompted to stop and discuss a previous point in greater detail. He really opened up with that point and he was right along with us and completely on the same page the rest of the lesson. After we introduced the Book of Mormon to him we asked for his thoughts and feelings on it. He responded with something along the lines of, “it makes sense that God would still speak to man. To me the Book of Mormon is a continuation of God’s word and I think people should be grateful that God has revealed more to us.” Amen Wayne, amen. As we were leaving we told him how we now know why the spirit led us to his house. And he responded with great enthusiasm, “the sermon today was titled ‘spirit led’!” God has been so very good to us!

Love y’all!
Elder Joshua Cordon

Miracles Abound!

Dear Family and Friends,

A miracle that happened on Sunday was that a man we had met at the bus stop the previous Sunday whom we invited to church ended up showing up. I was in the foyer waiting for our investigator when he came walking up to the door. He clearly was there for the first time from the uncertain look on his face and he had in his hand a crumpled pass along card with the church address on it. He really enjoyed himself, and the best part was that the sisters investigator who came for the first time was his cousin. So they sat together in Sunday school and really enjoyed themselves. We still don’t have any contact information for him, but when he said that he would come back, I really do believe him this time.

Another Miracle we had was that Wittney, a wonderful young man from Haiti, has accepted the invitation to be baptized on May 23rd. He has been very active for the last month and he is more than ready for this step. I am happy to see how this will bless his life. Hopefully we can find him a bicycle so he can bike with his friend Trevor to church and back. That would be a real cherry on top.

All in all thanks for all the love and support!

Love y’all!
Elder Joshua Cordon

Flat Tire, Car Accidents… Oh and Teaching!

Dear family and friends,

We had a pretty great week this last week. A lot of interesting things happened. Especially on my exchange with Elder Lewis. The afternoon went pretty smoothly, with us finding two solid new investigators who just so happen to have the last name, but after that I got a flat
tire. Luckily for us, we were only about a 15 minute walk from the Walmart. As we got to Walmart, we passed by a member of the neighboring ward on her way out of the store. She offered some help but was unsure of exactly what she could do. Her cart was already full of stuff. So we parted ways as we walked into the store. I had bought a new tire for my bike a few days back but it looked ridiculous because it was a white-walled tire and my front was not. So I had to return the tire and buy a new tube to replace the flat one. As we were in line at customer service that same sister walked up to us and asked me how I was going to pay for the stuff. I had not anticipated seeing her again, but she was determined to help. While I was picking out the stuff I realized that I didn’t have money to pay for any of this so I was going to have to use some of my food money. God solved my simple predicament by sending someone to help me. He is awesome. She also said we could use her electric pump in her car, so when I got to the bikes I threw mine in a shopping cart and wheeled it over.

image1-2The rest of the night went very well, then the car accident happened. It was just after 9:00 and we were biking down Normandy blvd headed home. Right then we heard a car honk and we saw the Spanish elders drive by. As if they read our minds they took the next right turn and pulled over to wait for us to catch up and load our bikes up. As we were finishing strapping our bikes in I heard the screech of tires followed by a loud crash. I looked behind me and ten yards away were two cars that were in bad shape after one was T-boned by the other. I quickly whipped out my phone and dialed 911. As I was on the phone
with a dispatcher the man in the car that had been hit on the side came stumbling out and tried waking toward the sidewalk. A few of the other people there helped him to sit on the grass and tried to get him to stay there. He was bleeding from his head and clearly needed help from the paramedics when they got there. I finished giving the dispatcher info and then walked into the street to help guide traffic along. I got a decent look at the two in the other car, they were definitely in worse shape then the first guy was and one of them was
knocked out cold, but still breathing. As other people who had witnessed the accident helped to get traffic moving I walked back over to the other elders to see what we should do. As I was talking with them I noticed that the guy who had sat on the grass wasn’t there anymore. They told me that he had ran down the road back to his house. Know that he needed the medical help and that he should run from a car accident, Elder Lewis and I went down the road to look for him. We found him in front of his house getting yelled at by his girlfriend. Amid the commotion we yelled after the guy saying, “Sir, will you please come back with us?” He then ran into the house leaving his girlfriend who was having a panic attack in the front yard. We tried to calm her down and answer questions. We also tried to figure out where the guy went and if he was sober. Right then her daughter came
out and said that the guy had hopped the back fence and wasn’t sure where he went. Not necessarily sure what to do now, we showed the girlfriend the way back to the accident since apparently it was her car that he was driving. As we got back to the scene of the accident we directed her to a police officer and started talking to one of the paramedics. We informed him of the guy who had ran off and described his injuries and what he looked like. He then went back to the house with the girlfriend to see if he could find him. We asked if he wanted us to go but he declined the offer. Then a police officer started asking us for a description of what the man who had ran looked like. We all agreed on everything except the color of the shirt. We looked down the road and the paramedic didn’t seem to be having any luck locating the guy so we decided we would quickly walk up and down the road and see if we could see him in the neighborhood somewhere. As we passed the paramedic we told him our plan and he thanked us warmly for the help. As we were walking I thought it was strange that he would have hopped the fence due to the fact that there was a heavy tree line on the back side, so I suggested that we look in the back yard while we were there. I grabbed my flashlight and started looking around they had high privacy fences and one that went right through the middle of the back yard it was weird. I then climbed on the fence and looked over in the trees but I didn’t see anything. As we were walking back to the car a police car pulled up and started to look around the house. We were grateful we had left when we did or that could have been awkward. Satisfied the we had done what we could to help we hopped in the car and rode home for the night.

As far as the work with our investigators is concerned. We met a lot of solid people this past week but nobody is seriously progressing at this point save one. His name is Wittney Garçon and he has come to church for a steady 6-7 times now. He also comes to mutual and he seems to have a good time at both. He has been moving at a casual pace and he is hard to meet with, but we feel that he is someone we should put more of a focus on then we have. Hopefully the spirit will guide us and we seek to help him draw closer to our Heavenly Father. One other family that came onto the radar is Adrian and his Fiancé. We were on a street last night with an hour left in the evening. We had plans to go to another part of town but we felt that we should stay put for the rest of the night. I whipped out my handy iPad and searched the roster to see if any members lived on the streets nearby. I found only one name that of Adrian who hasn’t been to church since I have been here. We miraculously caught them home, outside and willing to listen. Adrian was happy to see us and wanted us to pray with his fiancé, Jana. After a really good talk we were able to break down some walls with Jana (who isn’t a member) that Adrian said he hasn’t been able to break through ever. She said we can come back and see her this week so we will see how that goes. God is great, the work rolls on, and miracles abound!

Love y’all!
Elder Joshua Cordon

Family & Friends

Dear Family and Friends,

As normal things went well. Last week had some more consistency than
others though. Rather than half the week be better than the other
half, it was rather productive from start to finish. God is really
helping to work move forward.

The highlight off the week was our lesson with the Estrella Family
which we had at the Nhiev’s home, they are a member family in the ward
that have been helping us fellowship them. On Friday we had the two
families together for dinner, a game, and a lesson. It was an awesome
time, and everybody lightened up and enjoyed themselves. The fun part
was to see everybody relax as the night went on. Before it was over
they were already planning their next get-together. The Estrella’s
weren’t able to come to church this weekend because of work situation,
but they are hoping to adjust their schedules to be there next week.
All in all, great success.

The other bonuses were that we got in to contact with some
investigators that fell by the wayside for a few weeks. Jeff was
silent for a few weeks but this past week he was stronger than ever
before. He wants to get baptized as soon as possible. And then Davie,
we went and saw him. He recognized he difference our visits made in
his life. And after only one lesson he read more than a chapter of the
Book of Mormon which is crazy considering that he didn’t read at all
before when we were visiting him. We talked to a member who was
willing to come fellowship him with us and that will be a great
connection if we can help them make it.

The ward here is great! It isn’t very big, but nevertheless I have
enjoyed getting to know everybody and hopefully we can do our part to
help grow it some more this month. We are doing a Mighty Miracle May,
where every single companionship is going to get a baptism in the
mission. It is going to be amazing! God bless y’all!

Love y’all!
Elder Cordon

Hello! 

Dear Family and Friends,


This was an interesting week. We found ourselves engaged in a lot of service this past week which was a blessing for sure. We actually resolved that our focus is going to change. After much consideration we are going to put a greater focus in service and working with part member families. So the fact that we got a bunch of service right when we resolved to focus on it was an indication that we are on track. The nice thing to was that every service opportunity resulted from someone asking us for help. We already have two service projects lined up. Our goal is to get different people we are working with to help us with the service projects. 

A person that we are working with who really came along this past week is a girl named Shy. We have taught her the first three lessons already and she reads the Book of Mormon during her bus ride to work everyday. She told us that she has fallen in love with the book and that it has opened up her eyes to so many things. We invited her to be baptized at the end of May and she asked if she could do it sooner and set a date for the 16th of May. It was really awesome. She has already started teaching other people about the Book of Mormon and she is going to come to church this weekend. 

This Ward here is wonderful but it is really struggling in that there are 10 members who have been admitted to the hospital lately. We have an older congregation and it has been tough to try to meet everybody’s needs. However, it has been a strong motivator for us to go and work with more less actives and part member families so that we can strengthen what we have so that the ward can support growth.

Elder Curran and I continue to learn from our mistakes and from one another; as a result, we feel the lord continues to provide tender mercies that move the work along. One big tender mercy is embodied in the Estrella Family. We have been able to teach Ray a few times and he is just eating it up, along with Michelle. I can’t wait to see how the gospel will continue to bless their lives. 

Love y’all!
Elder Joshua Cordon


Sent from my iPad

Progress

Dear Family and Friends,

Progress, I like progress; it feels nice. I’m sure y’all probably agree with me. Here are some updates on some names that you probably remember.

Trevor: Trevor is really getting back in his groove and then some. He has come to mutual three weeks in a row now and he even came to church on Sunday. His friend Wittney Garçon (He is someone we have been trying to get back into contact with) also came with him on Wednesday and Sunday. We were blessed with some kind members who helped us give them rides so we didn’t have to walk with them there; however, we were willing to do that if necessary. They had a great time and hopefully we can step up the fellowship for them. The youth program here is really small so they are pioneers in many ways.

Michelle: She came to scripture class again and even surprised us by bringing her daughter, Victoria, and her daughters boyfriend, Chandler. Victoria was super engaged and participated a lot in the discussion. We are going through the Book of Mormon chapter by chapter and we were on 1 Nephi 15. The discussion really kicked off when we began teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Victoria had such a good experience that she came up to us afterward and asked, “can I keep this Book of Mormon?… Here take down my number I am going to have some questions… Alright so how do I read this and where should I start?” It was pretty awesome to see her jump right on board. A couple days later we went to see Michelle at her place and she made us breakfast for dinner. Chandler was there and we got to know him some more. He is about to start school to go be a doctor. The greatest news was that we found out that Victoria wanted to go to church on Sunday. She showed up with Chandler and they had a great experience.

It is good to see some people make those steps that we need to be seeing. We have some others that we are working with but these were the ones who made the most progress this week.

An awesome little miracle happened after a great experience at the hospital on Friday. We went to the hospital to administer to three afflicted members of our congregation. When we parked we realized that we needed $2 in cash to pay the toll, but we both only had our debit cards. We figured we would just not worry about it, and that we could take care of that after the blessings. Two of them were quick in and out visits, but with one lady we stayed and talked for almost 45 minutes. Her cousin was there and it sure was a hoot talking to them. It was nice to help her take her mind off the cancer for a few minutes. She was missing her son especially because the day before she found out she had cancer he was deployed over seas. She asked me to give the blessing and it was a great opportunity for me. During the blessing a very sweet spirit entered to room. She started to cry and said that it really helped and that it made it feel like her son was there. On Sunday she was able to make it to church and thanked us both again for the blessing.

After the visit we got off the elevator on the first floor and tried to figure out where we could go go get some cash. Right then one of the employees said, “Are you lost elders?” We responded with “You must be a member. What Ward are you in?” He told us that he was in the San Jose Ward (Spanish Ward). I had actually met him before when I was serving in Hendricks Ave. He opened up his wallet and he pulled out $2 and said, “It is all I have.” He smiled and then walked away. I looked down at the cash in my hand, just amazed about God blesses us in the most personal ways. That was a really good day!

I love y’all and hope you have a wonderful week!

Elder Joshua Cordon