Elder Kopischke Comes To Town

Dear Family and Friends,

The highlight of this week was hard to pin down so I will share a couple. The first great one was a mission conference that we had on Friday. We have had 4 in 4 months. That is surprising because I only had 2 my first year.

Anyhow Elder Kopischke was the one who visited us. He is a wonderfully-jolly german-man, and it made for a fun 6 hours that we spent with him. I think the most powerful lesson that I took away from that meeting was that the gospel is about relationship, and relationship requires investment. That is a lesson that I have been learning through-out my mission and I believe hearing it that way helped me put it all in perspective. As I reflect upon all that I have experienced so far, it is the relationships that I have developed that I consider to be my most valued treasures. He helped see missionary
work in a new light that helped us with our priorities. It was a great lesson to learn to help me capitalize on my remaining time. We only had a 20 minute break during those 6 hours, but I could have stayed for 6 hours if he would have let us. It was a very spiritual meeting and I had many questions answered.

Another amazing thing that happened this weekend was that a man named Davie that we found my first Sunday in the area came to church. We met with him twice last week and he was curious about our services. His lives in a mobile home park that a member of our bishopric owns and manages and so he had immediate fellowship. Everybody loved seeing him there and he seemed to enjoy himself. It was great that so quickly the Lord has blessed us to see the fruit of our labors. I look forward to the many other things he awaits to bless us with.

I know that Jesus Christ is our savior and redeemer and that if we come to him, miracles, purpose, and true joy will begin to flow into our lives in a very personal way. It starts by us coming unto him.

I love y’all!
Elder Joshua Cordon

The Thick of Thin Things

Dear Family and Friends, 

This past week brought a lot of change for me. After serving a wonderful 8 months in the blessed Mandarin 2nd ward it was time for me to move on to the next step. As part of the transition I am blessed with the opportunity to train Elder Curran. He is from Clearfield, Utah and so far we have enjoyed every minute. Our personalities really mesh, so it has been easy to get unified quick and get to work. We are in a car share as well, so we have been on biking a lot. 

“White-washing” an area as they call it has been a wonderful experience so far. I got a similar opportunity when I started my mission so it has been reminiscent and very fun. We are doing our best to reach out and become familiar with the members as soon as we can. We are loving the ward so far and we can tell that a lot of good things are going to happen here. Last week alone was full of amazing miracles. Every single night after 8:00, with the exception of Friday night because we were playing basketball with some investigators, we found someone new to teach. Often missionaries will consider that a less productive time to find, but it has been an hour of miracles for us. We plan to keep that going for as long as we can. 

On Sunday after church we were having a correlation meeting with the sisters and the Ward Mission Leader and his assistant and we started talking about the different reasons that members havent been sharing the gospel. Something that was brought up involved that idea that people are simply filling there schedules with too much “stuff.” They simply are not putting into practice the age old principles taught in the object lesson of trying to fit rocks, pebbles, and sand all in a jar. I reflected on how my last ward mission leader somehow made so much time for missionary work, even though he was a full time law student, had a young child, and worked 20 hours a week.

To my surprise that same theme was reinforced this morning during my personal study when I was reading a conference talk by A. Theodore Tuttle given October of 1971. The title of the talk was The Things That Matter Most. There was this quote in it that I really enjoyed!

Some years ago, I read an editorial in the Deseret News entitled “The Mechanical Rabbit.” I quote:

“Most of our readers must have smiled the other day when they read of the greyhounds in Britain who don’t know a rabbit when they see one. So long had they chased a mechanical rabbit around the racetrack, that when a real rabbit bounded across the track, the dogs didn’t give it a second look.“Stupid, eh? But sad too, this perverting of the natural instincts. …“We chase mechanical rabbits, too.“We chase paychecks, and don’t give a second look to the glint of the rising sun on a snow-topped peak.“We chase our way through the appointments of a crowded desk calendar, and fail to take time to chat with the next-door neighbor or to drop in on a sick friend.“We chase social pleasures on a glittering noisy treadmill—and ignore the privilege of a quiet hour telling bedtime stories to an innocent-eyed child.“We chase prestige and wealth, and don’t recognize the real opportunities for joy that cross our paths. …”Wordsworth said words appropriate to this condition:“The world is too much with us: late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.”“Race on, you poor, blind over-civilized hounds. You’ll never catch your rabbit until you learn to recognize a genuine one.“But, you’ll have company in your race; the company of unnumbered men who’ll never catch the joy they chase until they, too, learn to recognize a genuine one.”This points up our challenge: See “that the things that matter most … are not at the mercy of things that matter least.” (Ashley Montague.)Someone rephrased this thought: “Too often we are involved in the thick of thin things.”In modern revelation the Lord said:“Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?“Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men. …” (D&C121:34–35.)



The moral of that story and the reason I have brought it up, is that I hope all of us will take time to prioritize our lives and if necessary stop spending time doing the things that don’t matter most if they prevent us from doing the things that do. The great blessing of coming into an area with a companion who isnt already serving there is that you get a fresh start, and an opportunity to make sure that your priorities are straight without having to do the sometimes painful process of re-prioritizing. I has been a great blessing to engage in the simple things for often that is how miracles are most often experienced. For me, learning to prioritize has been a blessing of my mission.

 Hopefully these sentiments are beneficial!

I love yall!
Elder Joshua Cordon 

Children of God

Dear family and friends,

This week was an incredible week! The best part about it though was without a doubt the weekend. This is considering the fact that we had a powerful mission changing meeting on Monday, and that I got to go to the temple in Orlando on Thursday.

The best part about this week was that on Saturday at 5:00 Aniya, Cheyenne, and Marquez were all baptized. It was one of the sweetest baptismal services I have ever been part of. The turnout was great and the spirit was strong. I would like to just take a minute to tell all of you about the three beautiful children we entered into a covenant with their Heavenly Father.

Aniya:
I have been working with Aniya since the first week I got to the area. We never ceased to be amazed at how impressive she was. She was only 11 years old when we first started teaching her and she had a stronger and more doctrinal sound grasp on the gospel than many adults. She carried herself with eloquence and she stood up for what she knew was right among her peers. When she entered young women’s her talents were only magnified. Just a few weeks ago she taught the Family Home Evening lesson to a group of adult converts and she lead the conversation with grace and everyone felt edified.

Cheyenne:
While we were working to the lay the ground work for Aniya so that she could get baptized suddenly after New Years Cheyenne came into the picture. Cheyenne is Aniya’s younger sister. We started the lessons over with her to help her have a good foundation of the gospel and of other restored truths. After a few weeks of working with her we finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel and looked like their dad who was baptized 4 years ago last Friday was able to finally get things lined up for them to be baptized as well. Cheyenne in just a few short weeks has shown immense growth and an increasing level of maturity. By the time the baptism came around she was bearing a strong testimony in the Book of Mormon and in the truthfulness of the church.

Marquez:
We venturing into new neighborhoods about 5 months ago when we saw a dirt road that was off to the side that lead to some distant homes. There are not very many dirt roads in our area so it peaked our curiosity so we went walking down to find some people to share the gospel with. The first house we came to was the home of Ms. Betty, Marquez’ grandmother. We would visit Ms. Betty from time to time and about a month after we started visiting her we became acquainted with Marquez when we helped him get the Christmas lights out of storage for his grandmother. After talking for a bit I told Marquez about scouts on Wednesday night and asked if he would like to come and join the group. He seemed really excited by the idea. He came the next Wednesday and well the rest is history.

This final weekend was a battle to get everyone ready for the baptism, but miracles abounded and right prevailed. Aniya and Cheyenne’s father was able to baptize them, and one of Marquez’ young men’s leaders who has been a great example to him was able to baptize him. While they were all changing, Elder Jorgensen and I were able to stand in front of a large crowd of members and non members and the teach the message of the restoration while wearing our baptismal whites with the font as the backdrop. It was very powerful and probably the best setting I have been afforded to preach the gospel. I never thought that I would be able to say that I had done that. As we taught I felt the spirit speak very powerfully to my the heart that this message is indeed true and I hope that a similar witness was born to the those who sat in the congregation.

On Sunday in order for Aniya and Cheyenne to be confirmed by their farther he was sustained by the congregation to be an elder and then I conferred upon him the Melchizedek priesthood, and ordained him to be an elder. Right after that he stood up and confirmed his daughters by that priesthood. Then I was blessed to confirm Marquez. It was an amazing weekend! I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father that I have been able to be part of the 3 incredible lives. I also found out that I am getting transferred to another part of Jacksonville this week Wednesday so it was a wonderful finished to an life changing experience while I served in the mandarin 2nd ward. I am excited for the amazing adventure ahead.

Thank you for all the love and support you have shown me and I hope that you know how much I love and appreciate every single one of you.

I love y’all!

Elder Joshua Cordon

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Prayer of Faith!

Dear Family and Friends,

Wow!!! Wow!!! Missions are so amazing!! There is literally not a week that goes by where something amazing doesn’t happen.

Amazing things that happened this week:

Mission Conference

The first year of my mission I had 2 mission conferences. However, we have had 1 every month for the past 4 months. Along with 1 other 2 months before that. So, it has been awesome!!

This time we were visited by Elder Zwick of the first quorum of the Seventy, who I will say is one of the manliest men I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, and Br. Hemingway who is assigned to the Missionary Department of the Church and is the Director of the proselyting division for the whole world. When I shook Br. Hemingway’s hand he said with a pleasant surprise, “Oh, I remember you. How are you doing?” I had met him a little over a year ago when he came to introduce iPads to the mission. He was the Mission President in Rochester, New York when we first moved there, and knows the Tuttle Family fairly well.

President and Sister Craig where with these fine brethren for several days in Salt Lake City at a special Mission Presidents conference that included the 28 Facebook/iPad missions. We were the first mission to receive training and instruction from what was discussed at that conference. Basically, we are entering the next major stage of testing for iPads and Facebook proselyting. The biggest changes come in the fact that we will receive brand-new iPads next week and there will be a Facebook restart that will result in us going offline of Facebook for a while. We also received training materials produced by the church that are finally standardizing the training of iPads and Facebook, something that we have been begging for for a while. On top of all of that we received powerful trainings on Personal Conversion, and Will-Power. All of it was very inspiring. But anyway, enough of that, it is probably not nearly as exciting for you as it is for me. And if it is exciting for you, then think how excited I am!

Prayers of faith=Miracles

There were several instances this past week that we incredible miracles as a result of a prayer, but there is one that I would like to highlight. On Saturday, it was beautiful weather but it was slower day for some reason. We tried everything I had ever been taught to do and nothing worked. Luckily we had a dinner appointment with two of my favorite people that I had to look forward to. One was a less active and that was the first lesson we were able to teach all day. After dinner we tried to knock some doors, hoping to get some success from those efforts, but after striking out we stopped at the nearby gas station for a bathroom break. While I was waiting for my companion, I saw these two kids at a table. After striking up conversation we were able to teach him the whole first lesson and give him a book of mormon which he agreed to read. Things started to look up.

Still we had about an hour left of the night. Elder Jorgensen suggested that we go and see a man who had not been home for our appointment earlier that day. Considering how far away he was it seemed like an illogical decision, but we both agreed that it felt right so away we went. I remember thinking about the nice peace I had felt on the way there that was a nice contrast to the frustration and anxiety I had experienced earlier. Once we got there we knocked on his doors with hearts full of faith only to find that nobody was home.

I knew at that moment that we were there for someone else. Unsure of what to do next and how to find this person that we were meant to find we knelt down in the grass in front of an apartment building. It was 8:35 roughly we knew that time was not a luxury. After Elder Jorgensen offered a mighty prayer we started knocking. Nobody answered the first two doors and as we turned to head to the stairs we saw a woman, her daughter, and their two dogs walking in the parking lot. We used the dogs as an ice breaker before bringing up the gospel. Before we could even get to it though, she asked us what we were there doing. We told her who we were and asked if we could share our message with her. At this point her little girl Aryah while tugging on her jacket said “Mommy, can we hear their message.” It wasn’t very difficult for her to say yes after that.

We proceeded to teach them the whole first lesson and they loved every bit of it. She told us that they were looking for a church that would prick their heart with the spirit. She even said that because they had just moved there that they were still looking for a church. At the moment they are attending a Brazillian church and because the service is in Portuguese they have to wear headsets with the translation. She started to express concern about the idea of having a prophet today but after we showed her a video of Thomas S. Monson, she said that she knew that he was a prophet the moment she saw him. All of us departed that night feeling very grateful that the lord had caused our paths to cross that night. Jackie and Aryah probably don’t even realize how incredible the journey they just started really is.

I want to bare my solemn witness that God hears every single one of our prayers. I know that he loves us and that he will provide us with miracles as we rely with faith.

I love y’all!

Elder Joshua Cordon

Keep on Running

Dear Family and Friends,

This past week was a wild one for sure. We had zone conferences, which considering the fact that they were 9 hour meetings it made for a long but a very fun week! The meetings we jam packed with great training’s on maintaining a balanced work, the atonement, public speaking skills, and then the training that we gave on finding people to teach. It is great to see all the missionaries that I was able to see all the missionaries that I have served around. This week we had a couple of miracles, but one in particular I would like to mention.

We were on our way to a dinner appointment and when we walked up to the apartment that the members lived in, it looked like the lights were off so, I doubted myself and thought that I must be at the wrong
building. So, we started running so we wouldn’t be late to one of the other buildings. We ran through one cluster of buildings and I still didn’t feel like that was it, so we ran over to another cluster of
buildings and as we got there we saw a dog running in the side walk, so we stopped so it wouldn’t follow us. We made some small talk with the owner until she grabbed her dog and then we were about the run off
to get to our dinner, but then I felt that I should at least see if she would be interested in hearing our message.

So I stopped and said, “We share a wonderful message about our Savior Jesus Christ that has blessed our own lives, could we share that with you?” Surprisingly she replied with, “Ya sure come on over and share
it with me.” 20 minutes later we had taught her about he Book of Mormon and learned that she is about to graduate law school, and she is engaged and plans to be married after she graduates. Even though she is active in the Methodist church she was excited to learn more and said we could come back. She is very elect.

Seeing as how we were then very late to our appointment we checked the address on the church app and realized that it was the first place we had gone to. Thank goodness we kept running though.

I love y’all!

Elder Joshua Cordon

The Book of Mormon Musical: From Bad to Beneficial

Dear Family and Friends,

I wish I had the ability to better express myself to somehow paint for you exact picture of what I experienced this week. I was blessed with the unique opportunity of going to downtown Jacksonville and proselyting amongst the crowds of people who were going to see the Book of Mormon Musical. (Local Newspaper Article)

Here is a quick rundown of the musical for those who do not know about it. It is not sponsored or supported by the church. It is from the same people who created South Park. It is the same tasteless and vulgar humor that they are used to creating only worse because it is a live performance rather than prime-time television. It is about two Mormon missionaries who go to Uganda on their missions. It focuses its mockery towards the church, but it really mocks all of organized religion in general.

Now, we understand that their goal is to make money and they are doing a great job of that. So, to get offended and protest the show would be a down-right foolish and childish response. Seeing as how the true church of Jesus Christ is neither foolish or childish, we have taken something negative and turned it into something very positive. The following is the church’s official statement in response to the musical.

“The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.” (Link to official statement)

Following in suite with the nature of their response we gathered together a group of 24 missionaries who alternated with each performance going in two groups of 12 to take advantage of this great opportunity. Before the shows we handed it thousands of cards which gave information for a church tour and how to download a copy of the Book of Mormon. After the show we would hand out copies of the Book of Mormon to anyone who was willing to read it. It was so much fun!! We were part of the group that covered opening night.

As we gathered at the rendezvous point there was excitement building in the air as we loaded our bags and our pockets with as many books and cards as we could carry. I drove the van that took us all downtown. No-one had any idea as to how the crowds would react to our presents or to how everything would turn out, but we were full of faith and excitement and we were ready to conquer. We had a pep-talk/ prayer after we parked and then we were off.

Elder Jorgensen and I were looking for the spot that would experience the most traffic, it wasn’t necessarily ideal for teaching or answering questions, but it was perfect for being in front of making an impression upon as many people as we could in the short amount of time that we were afforded. Our spot of choice was right next to the sidewalk that lead to the main entrance of the theatre. Thousands of people had to have walked past that point during the night. As people approached us we would great them by saying “HELLO!, how are you doing today?” With as much enthusiasm as we could muster, and trust me, Elder Jorgensen has more enthusiasm for missionary work than you can imagine. After they responded we would say, “We are the real Mormon Missionaries” Which solicited either a response of a pleasant surprise and some laughter, or… well the opposite, and enjoyable response. Luckily for us most of the people were very nice and happy to see that we were not there to protest. We would disperse our cards to the group and wait for the next wave.

After the show we tried to hold as many copies of the Book of Mormon as we could in our hands keeping another case close by. Before the show the crowds were a steady flow for about 45 minutes as they came for the performance, but afterwards just as many if not more people would all come through in about 10 minutes. We couldn’t hand out books fast enough. I felt like one of the newsies standing in the middle of the chaos holding a books and shouting as people walked by, “Will you read the Book of Mormon?… Here you go… Have a blessed day!… Will you read the Book of Mormon?… oh, okay then, well God bless ya… Will you read the Book of Mormon?” Never did I ever think that I would get to a point on my mission that people were flocking to me to get a copy of the Book of Mormon to read, so much so that I ran out of books every single time.

I hope that that somewhat adequately paints for you a picture of what I experienced those few nights. I could share plenty more details, but I my letter is plenty long enough!

I just want to bear my testimony to y’all that if you have the right attitude that any situation can be turned from bad to beneficial. Attitude is everything!

Have a great week! I Love y’all!!

Elder Joshua Cordon

The Still Small Voice

Dear Family and Friends,

Though prayer should be your first resort, sometimes it is also what you do when you have nothing left. Such was the case of our Saturday night.

I had tried my best to book our night with solid appointments that would keep us busy all day, but what often happens in this line of work, we had a few cancellations. At about 7:00 we had exhausted all our options save one. We made our way cross town to try a woman we had met a few days earlier in the parking lot. She was interested in what we had to say and said that we could come back sometime on the weekend. Once we finally got to her we were blessed in that we got a return appointment, but we still had an 11/2 hrs and no plans. We just stopped our car at the exit of the apartment and offered a simple prayer asking for inspiration. During the prayer a car pulled up behind us and so Elder Jorgensen pulled out and took a right. At the next apartment complex he pulled in, so we could finish giving our prayer. When we finished I realized that the person I had thought of lived in the complex that he had pulled into. We drove to the back and found a parking spot and knocked on her door. No answer. As we walked back to the car I was determined to find out why I have felt inspired to go see her. I saw a few men standing by their car and I so I tried talking to them, but the conversation was over before it started.

There weren’t too many lights on and nobody was outside, so we decided to head somewhere else. I was backing Elder Jorgensen when he backed the car in such a way that forced us to drive farther into the complex and turn around. I thought it was strange but didn’t think to much of it. When we got to the turn around spot there was a row of parking stalls, and next to that a row of trees, and behind that was actually the very far back of the complex we live in. It also happened to be the building where a lady we used to teach lived. I had remembered that there was a path through the trees, so we parked the car and made our way over. The light was on so we gave it a knock. She was excited to see us and were able to talk about how prayer can help us come close to God during trials. It was nothing short of a miracle that she was home and willing to talk. She works a ridiculous four jobs, and sleeps during the rare moments when she isn’t working. She had decided earlier that day to call and get the night off of one of her jobs though. She told us that she was moving to another apartment building and that once she moves that we could come by and see her more regularly. If we hadn’t seen her that night we would have been hard pressed to have found her in the future.

It is the moments when I see God’s guiding hand in my life that I really come to treasure on my mission. I know that my Heavenly Father loves me very much. I know that he is in control and that if we trust him that we will experiences miracles daily. As I finish this letter a scripture is brought to my remembrance, it is from the Old Testament.

“And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:11-13)

You will never be disappointed if you can learn to listen to and trust the still small voice.

I love y’all!

Elder Joshua Cordon