It Is Nice To Know People Who Know People!

Dear Family and Friends,

I had a pretty wonderful week! Last Monday I had the opportunity to do my first round of golf. It was on the beautiful green grass of TPC Sawgrass where the PGA championship is held every year. I felt like royalty! We had this pretty awesome caddy with us the whole time, we got our named engraved onto these medal bag tags that have the picture of the 17th hole carved in it, and then halfway through we had a guy roll up to us and give us cold towels to cool us off. It was the best secular experience of my mission so far! I am grateful for my companion he was the one with the connections to get us in. We brought two older gentleman with us who just soaked up every minute of the experience. Both are golf enthusiast and never thought they were going to have the chance to play such a course. They were one team and we were the other. We did a best ball scramble to keep pace. Since Elder Layton is really good we came on top in the end. I had a few really good hits. I definitely did better than I thought I was going to do.
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As far as the spiritual side of things, I got to go to the temple this past week. It was am amazing experience and I definitely had some pretty powerful spiritual experiences while in there. In order to get some of the missionaries down there we drove a van up to Kingsland, Georgia the night before, then left from there in the morning. After the day was said and done we did about nine hours of driving. It was worth every minute though and the whole trip was very enjoyable. I think my only regret was that I went for the large sandwich at firehouse instead of a medium. It is not the best thing to put in your system when you going to sit for several hours. Other than that though it was an amazing trip!

On our way back we had this cool little miracle that happened. About 20 minutes before we were and home and before we passed through
downtown Jacksonville, we passed this guy who had all these things strapped to the roof of his SUV. He had a law mower, a generator, a industrial fan, a ladder, and some other things all on the roof! Plus his car was full of a bunch of tools. We took a photo and continued on our way. When we got back to Jacksonville we had more time that we thought so we pondered on how we could best use it. We both felt that we should head to a particular complex to try a potential. As we pulled in we saw that exact same SUV with all the stuff ahead of us. We tried our potential and then walked over to his car to see if he needed help unloading. Turns out that he has to leave it all on there because it is for his work. He is self employed but doesn’t have enough money for a truck and trailer. If he were to take it off he would spend hours taking it off and on every day. He needs every minute he can after work to spend time with his family. He said that he his nervous that someone could steal all of his stuff but he has no where to put it. He said that he just says a prayer and trusts that god will keep it safe. He was open to hearing our message another day so we took his number down and walked away with a renewed sense of reverence for the humble and hard-working family-man.

His story coupled with a lesson I learned this week highlights the power of determination. If you want to succeed then you all it takes is for your determination to make it happen. I quote that comes to mind is “that it is never to late to be what you could have been.” In other words, despite every thing else, even your past, if you are determined you can be what you want to be.

Another lesson I learned was that of focusing on the present. You can learn from the past, and you should plan for the future, but if you are not living in the moment and embracing the situation that you are in, you are missing the most important aspect of this existence. If you are determined to change it will not come from the lessons of the past, or the plans of the future, it will come from simply just doing it right now in the present.

Just a few thoughts.

Have a wonderful week everyone!

I love y’all!
Elder Joshua Cordon

Mission Experiences

Dear Family and Friends,

Week after week I am molded and shaped more into who I am meant to be.
The real essence of becoming is very apparent to me right now. When I
have had the opportunity to have a glimpse of my potential if I
continue embracing the gospel, I have wondered if many of the promised
blessings would ever come into fruition. This past week they did. I
know that doesn’t tell you much, but it was a very tender moment for
me. I pray that all of you will hold out for the priceless blessings
afforded to those who patiently press forward with a steadfastness in
Christ. The world around us is full of people who exchange those
blessings for immediate and fleeting pleasures. The gospel is the
science of increasing returns, but the lack thereof is the science if
selling yourself short.

This past week I was blessed to experience a lot of miracles. I don’t
think there was a day where anything went according to plan, yet at
the end of the day everything seemed to work out. A great example of
that was on Friday; we were looking at a night that was supposed to be
jam packed with teaching appointments, but as we called to confirm one
by one they canceled. No sooner had I desperately racked my brain for
some ideas before finally pleading “now what are we going to do?” When
we got a call. A guy we are teaching asked for help loading up a
truck. He said that his parents neighbor got sent to jail and the bank
was forcibly evicting them. There were hired guys there throwing all
of the stuff out of the house into the front yard. This was a lot of
stuff! Nice stuff too. Which didn’t help the fact that storm clouds
were rolling in. When we arrived on scene we realized that we were the
only help he had because he had no one else to call on. We were
grateful for that opportunity to serve. He actually didn’t even have
to help these people, and on top of that the lady that lived there had
been incredibly rude to his family, but he told us that he was raised
that you serve everybody, whether or not they have been nice to you. A
great example of charity.

Willie, who has become a great friend over the past several months was
baptized this past Saturday, the day after he graduated from his
wounded warriors training. We went to his graduation which was at
Maggianos, and we weren’t expecting much, but all the big wigs of the
Wounded Warriors project were there in this room of about 40 people.
It has been a great experience to get better acquainted with that
wonderful organization and the people that keep it running. The
knowledge I gained and connections I formed there were an unexpected
blessing of my mission. Willie’s wife flew in from California for his
baptism. It was great to meet her in person, she is a hoot I’ll tell
you what. The baptism was really touching and had strong spirit, but
the best part was when Willie shared his testimony with his class
mates who came to support him. The next day I confirmed him a member
of the church and gave him the gift of the Holy Ghost just to have to
follow that with a goodbye as he moved back to California that day. It
really was a miracle that he was able to find the gospel and get
baptize during his short visit here in Jacksonville. He will go on to
great things, I just wish he could stay so I could be part of all of
it. Either way we will be keeping in touch and besides it is never
goodbye, it is just see you later.

On a less than positive note, a dear friend of mine and my ward
mission leader in my last ward passed away last week on Labor Day. I
found out a couple of days later and it definitely was shocking to
hear. At first they declared it a suicide, but we know how wonderfully
accurate our news media is (I am so grateful we don’t have to watch
that garbage as missionaries) but it has been determined that there
was fool play. My heart ached as I thought of his beautiful wife,
children, and grandchildren that he left behind. If I ever knew a man
who didn’t deserve to die he was it, but if I ever knew man who was
ready to meet his maker he was that man too. I went to his closed
casket viewing yesterday and got to see his wife who I got to know
very well too. She had a genuine smile on her face as I gave her a
hug, which brought such relief to my heart to know that she has been
able to hold on to her knowledge of the plan of salvation to help her
through this hard time. I have also been comforted because of my
knowledge that families are forever. I know that one day they will be
reunited and they will live as a family for eternity. It is hard to
remain sad when you keep in mind. He was the biggest gator fan that I
have ever met in my life! I will always be able to remember him with
the gator head that he gave me which sits on my desk. I will be able
to remember how much he was willing to give to help others receive
this incredibly gospel. While he is no longer with us in person, his
example of discipleship will continue to encourage many people to come
unto Christ, as it has done for so many already. I love you Br.
Ortega! God be with you until we meet again!

Life is too short so please never let an opportunity to let those you
love know how much they mean to you. You may never get that chance
again in this life.

I know that Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day as a
resurrected being and that he lives, and because of that so will all
of us. There is life after death.

I love y’all!

Elder Joshua Cordon

Personal Revelation

Dear Family and Friends,

The spirit of revelation is an amazing gift!! I am grateful everyday for the fact that I have received the gift of the Holy Ghost which allows me to have the right and the responsibility to receive personal revelation from God. It is without a doubt one of the greatest blessings of my mission to have learned how to develop and use this gift. My heart was warmed this week in an incredible way by an opportunity to use that gift and experience a miracle.

On Friday evening we had just left a lesson with a wonderful part-member family that I have come to love. We had plans to go by and check on someone we have been working with for a few months now. But as we were driving both of us felt that we weren’t supposed to see them, but we had no idea who we could see instead. We decided to pray. I had a name in mind before we prayed but I wasn’t sure if it as inspiration or not. I still felt good about it afterward but just to be sure I asked Elder Layton who he thought we should see. He said the exact same name that I was thinking, so we hit to road and went right there. As we approached Perry’s house I started thinking about it. Perry is a young married guy, and it is Friday of Labor Day weekend. There is just no way that he is home. I decided it was still worth a shot. We walked around the corner and his light was on. I chuckled to myself realizing once again that the spirit knows a lot better than us. Perry had just gotten home and welcomed us right in. We taught him the restoration and he was loving every bit of it. He definitely felt the spirit and just thanked us for coming over. He was excited to even do his homework afterwards just because he was just feeling so good. I once again can bear testimony that the spirit of revelation is real!

I have wondered how the spirit of revelation will play a role in my life after my mission and sadly I have noticed that a lot of members of the church don’t rely on that gift nearly as much as they should if at all. However, another blessing this week was that our ward mission leader returned from his 2 month vacation making this the first time I am officially meeting him. After our first meeting I have been just so inspired by him. He has prayed endlessly on what can be done to help this ward improve in its missionary efforts and it is clear that he has received guidance from god in order to do so. It was also an amazing example to me to see a man using the gift God has given him even after his mission. I know that if we pray to God and seek His counsel in regard to our life that He will bless us with knowledge on high and well will be able to make receive ideas and make decisions of immense wisdom that we would not have been able to do on our own. I know that every single one of us can receive guidance from God to help us in our life. I promise that if you pray diligently that He will answer you! I know these things to be true from observation and from personal experience and I say that in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I love y’all!!

Elder Joshua Cordon

Good Timing and Out-Growing

Dear Family and Friends,

We had incredible miracle yesterday! Last week on Sunday we met a mother and daughter who were members of the church. Mother was in town for a couple of months and she works for the FBI, and her daughter was just visiting before she goes back to Idaho for college. We know it was a miracle that we even met them for because we followed a prompting that Elder Layton had to go and knock the other side of the complex we crossed paths 5 seconds before they walked into their apartment. Needless to say the time between them going to their car and the apartment is a small window of opportunity but God has great timing. Patti, the mother told us that she would come to church the next Sunday. We swung by to see her Saturday and she was still determined to come and after talking for a bit she opened up about her past and we were able to resolve many of her concerns. Yesterday she came walking through the chapel doors and filled me with joy. One of the sisters in the ward is practically a carbon copy of her (they even wear the same glasses) invited her to dinner on Tuesday. She had already signed up to feed us and figured she could bank on the opportunity. It is amazing how she is only in town for a few months, but God is taking advantage of this time to help her strengthen her testimony and get reactivated. Our Heavenly Father is one smart cookie.

We had a powerful Zone Conference this past week!! After it is all said and done, one of the things that my testimony has been strengthened in more than anything else is the power of personal revelation from the Book of Mormon. Among those that believe that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, it is something that I feel is not used nearly as much as it should. I testify that the Book of Mormon will answer the questions of your soul. Whatever it is! I know because it has answered mine. It has answered spiritual questions of “how do I access the power of the Atonement?”, and lately it answered the question of how can I help those I am teaching to come to church? Now, anybody who has read the Book of Mormon knows that there isn’t an obivious chapter which specifically lays out how a missionary gets those he is teaching to church, but I can testify that it is in there. You just have to have the spirit with you to find it. I found my own personal answer in Alma 50 which talks about how Captain Moroni maintians liberty among the Nephites. As I likened these scriptures to me the answer became very clear on what it was that I needed to do. I will make a promise to every single one of you, that if you pour your heart out in prayer to God for answers to a specific challenge and then you read the book of mormon actively seeking for your answer, by the power of the Holy Ghost you will receive that answer in a simple and powerful way. Then if you write that revelation down, it will develop and how you must act will become even more clear.

I know that our Heavenly Father loves us. I have felt his love for me and for others abundantly in my life, and the joy that brings is sweeter than anything else. I also know that Jesus Christ is my Savior, I know that he died for me and that his Atonement is active in my life. Through the Book of Mormon I have gained that faith in Christ, and not only that, but I have also learned why he died for me, and how I can access the enabling power of the Atonement in my life. Knowing these things has given me greater meaning in life and deeper and more profound joy. I meet many faithful Christians on a regular basis, and many who profess to be Christians, and while their faith is genuine God doesn’t want just a lip service from his children, he wants a personal relationship with his children and he wants us to out-grow ourselves. In the Prophet of the Restoration Movie, Alvin Smith tells Joseph of a small sea shell at his uncles home. He tells him that a small creature made that shell layer by layer until he finally out-grew it. God doesn’t intend to help us become content with ourselves as we are but rather for us to grow into our true selves. The Gospel of Jesus Christ tells us how we can do this, and Jesus Christ helps us do it so that one day we like Paul can say, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (1 Corinthians 13:11) I know that these things are true and I say them in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I love y’all! Have a great week!

Elder Joshua Cordon

Good Times in the Neighborhood

Dear Family and Friends,

It is such a good day to be alive. I am not ignorant to the chaos around us this world–not the least of which is the current development in Missouri– when I say that. To be completely honest, none of the craziness really matters at all. It doesn’t matter because it has absolutely no relevance to my personal happiness. I am either at peace or not independent of the rest of this world. The reason I teach the gospel is because of that fact. I know that anybody, regardless of their circumstances, will be made happier by living the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that because it is the only source of true and lasting happiness. Every person who is happy to any degree receives that happiness from living some portion of the gospel. Missionaries are out in the world teaching people the rest of the gospel they have not received. I honestly have the best job in the world. I am a full-time spreader of happiness!

While it is nice that I know that though, a lot of people do not know that that is why we are knocking on their door. On Saturday we went to go see a lady who we helped move in a couple of weeks back. When she opened her door she immediately tried to nicely tell us to leave by saying that she just moved in and is still in the middle of unpacking. Clearly she didnt recognize us in a shirt and tie. We just replied to her by just saying “ya we know!” All of a sudden she remembered who we were and it was a night and day difference. She immediately invited us in and introduced us to her brother-in-law. We chatted with them for a bit and set up a time to come back another time. They are such wonderful people! I learned something in a more profound way during that experience. Most people are wonderful people who are a lot of fun to be with! Most people see us as two shirts and ties standing our their doorstep rather than two people who want nothing to do but serve them in any way. And if most people knew who we really are they would be really excited to see us standing on their doorstep, just like this lady. Just another example of the obvious difficulties of knocking-doors. Yet despite all of that miracles still happen from knocking doors.

I wonderful experience I had this last week was that I was able to go back to Lake City to do an exchange with the Elders there. It was so strange to be back in the old stomping ground. Everywhere we drove I gave them referrals for different people that may be ready to hear the message now. The best part of it all was that I got to see one of my most favorite people in the world, Stefan! It was a last minute meeting that happened at the burger king. A lot has happened since I last saw him. I wondered if he was going to be the way I remembered him. It was such a sweet reunion though. Being able to see him again has been one of the greatest blessings. I made him a scripture case out of paracord that i have been meaning to give him for over 8 months now, so I was able to give that to him, and best of all I was able to introduce him to the elder that serves in that area and they will probably be able to start teaching him again.

Another miracle had was that on Saturday I felt very impressed to put a particular less active at a certain time on Saturday. I was a surprisingly strong impression. So of course I listened. As we were heading to go and contact that less active we passed a lady on the side of the road who was walking with her son. They were about 20 yards ahead of their little car that had just ran out of gas. We were able to help her out and get acquainted with her as well! Not only did we save her a few hours of her day that she would have spent walking to her home and then to a gas station, but we were able to brighten her day. A teaching opportunity may even come from this. I love serving others! It fills you with the love of God so quickly, it is unreal!

The experiences of this past week have taught me many things. One powerful lesson that was reiterated was that God has great timing! I know without a doubt that God has placed certain people in our lives at certain moments in order to give us the perfect opportunity to become who we were meant to become. I know that if we trust God and just embrace all the wonderful people who cross out path and strengthen the relationships we have already been given that we will find ourselves not only becoming the people God wants us to be, but also finding our lives becoming increasingly enriched by an abundance of cherished relationships. I know what God meant more than ever when he said that the two greatest commandments were to love God and to love your neighbor. Truly that is all that matters!

That being said, I love y’all!! Have a great week!!

Elder Joshua Cordon

Reflections of a Missionary, and the Wisdom of an Apostle.

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was full of much reflection. I got to once again spend time with some brand new missionaries fresh off the plane, and then the day following I spent the day with some missionaries who had completed their two years/eighteen months. With the first I reflected on where I was at the beginning and how far I have come, and with the ones going home I pondered upon how I want to feel the last day of my mission. Both we were wonderful experiences! :) But the following experience tops them.

If I could only find the words to tell you how I feel. At the very least, just take my word that it was one of the most spiritual opportunities of my mission. It was also spontaneous more or less, it wasn’t going to happen until President worked his magic, or rather, the spirit worked some magic through him. We were blessed to have a two hour meeting yesterday, in which President and Sister Craig both spoke, and then Elder Kacher of the Seventy, and finally Elder D. Todd Christofferson from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The talks given were very inspirational! And they were followed by a 1 hour Q&A with Elder Christofferson. Due to the fact that I could in no way do justice in repeating what was said, I will not say much about what they talked about. What I will say is this, I saw the spirit work through that special servant of God as he paused mid sentence and proceeded to tell the many missionaries in that room exactly what they needed to hear. I don’t know if anyone at that time comprehended the impact of his words, but God knows and He knows that that was the reason he felt that he needed to visit us that Sabbath day. I am more aware than ever before that God is knows what we are going through and that he does in fact love us beyond comprehension.

I know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real. I know that the grace of God is active in our lives and is always available to us regardless of who we are. I know that in comparison to what God will make of us, we will find that we have accomplished but very little at the end of our lives if we try to make it through on our own. I know that God’s way is always the road to true happiness, and that no matter our circumstances, living the gospel will give us a better life than the best the world has to offer. I know these things independent of anyone else. I know these things because I have a personal relationship with my Father in Heaven. I pray to him many times a day and he does respond. I know these things to be true and I say them in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I love Y’all!
Elder Joshua Cordon

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Sunday Blessings

Dear Family and Friends,

I had the blessed opportunity of going to the Orlando Temple last week!! Nothing is quite as rejuvenating as a trip to the temple! I am grateful that God has provided a way for me to still maintain temple attendance despite my circumstances. We had a Q&A with the Temple President afterwards, and the only question I had afterwards was how do i ask a question that is worth asking haha.

After some long time of contemplation I believe I have arrived on some answers to that questions which ironically in this case is more questions :)

We were blessed immensely this past week! We had some powerful lessons Saturday night with some of our awesome investigators. One of them is a man named Madison. He is very thoughtful man. He was taught several months back but never progressed. Something changed in his life though and he was so ready to listen and to act. We taught him about humility and the importance of a having a strong relationship with God. Near the end of the lesson he just stopped us mid sentence and said, where is your church at? I need to go to church tomorrow. Sunday morning I got to see his smiling face come walking in the door with his girlfriend right behind him! It was so beautiful to see. God definitely provided.

On that same note of miracles. We are teaching a brother and sister, Shauna & Christian. We just started teaching them a week ago and they wanted to come to church yesterday. Shauna texted us at 8 in the morning though and said that she got called into work and wont be able to make it. We were rather disappointed to hear that, but we were at peace for some reason. Shortly after the meeting started we were surprised to see both of them walk in the door and grab a seat on the back row. I was so happy to see them there!! The ward just wrapped their arms around them and made them feel so welcome. We talked to Shauna after sacrament and she said that when she got to work she still wanted to come to church so she got someone to cover her shift so she could come. I know God will bless them for their faithfulness!

There is no greater work than this! I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!

Love
Elder Joshua Cordon