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

Our Sister Received Her Call To Serve!

Our sister, Micaela Cordon, has been called to labor in the Ecuador Quito Mission. She will be learning and teaching the gospel in Spanish. She will report to the Columbia MTC on May 6, 2015. We are so proud of her.

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The Search is Over, But the Joy Has Just Begun

Dear Family and Friends,

This weekend marked another wonderful point in my mission. Like always far more happens then I could ever truly share in a simple email, but I will do my best to capture the amazing store of at least one man.

The story from my perspective really began with his daughter. She is one amazing person and I am grateful that I have been blessed to be part of her story. When I first got to this ward she had just been baptized into the YSA (Young Single Adult) ward. She had friends in this ward though and felt that she would do better in a family ward until she got her feet under her. We begun working with her though and teaching the new member lessons. Considering that nobody is perfect and that even after baptism most people have a long way to go before they are firm in the church. We worked with her a lot to help her develop habits of daily scripture study and prayer. As she strengthened her testimony the desire grew within her to share this message with her dad and her brother. If I could only describe the transformation that she has had since I have been working with her it would blow you away. Her transformation was so incredible that her Dad who never has been active in any church even though he has considered himself catholic all his life decided to join us one Sunday for church. He came for the first time last October. The spirit was so strong that he said that from the first moment he walked into the building he knew there was something different. At the same time her younger brother started getting active in the scouting program. After some time he had finally made the changes in his life to prepare him for baptism. He knew right from the beginning it is what he needed to do and he understood that it would be a lifestyle change, so now that he has finally been baptized he is in for good. The baptism went very smoothly and all his brothers and his children came to the baptism. Even his very strong catholic mom came and very much enjoyed the baptism.

It was one of the sweetest moments of my mission. To see the father of a family that I have worked so closely with and have grown so close to finally make that step. His son David will soon follow and his son Tony has started showing a lot of interest lately so perhaps before I even know it the family will be getting sealed in the temple. It is the moments like this that help me feel that my mission has been paid in full everything else on top of that is just a bonus. I love this work so much and nothing brings me greater joy than watching a family heal and come closer together through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Truly that is what this work is all about.

I love y’all
Elder Joshua Cordon

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Patience Pays Off!

Dear Family and Friends,

This past week was simply amazing!! It was full of incredible moments and opportunities. Elder Layton and I worked really hard for 6 months together to get the area where it is at right now. It was a lot of patient work with prepared people who just needed to time to overcome things that they have been going through. The patience is finally paying off. Elder Jorgensen and I are ready to finally begin harvesting. We set 5 new baptismal dates this week with wonderful individuals, and we had an incredible baptism this Sunday. With one coming up this Saturday.

The wonderful sisters name is Donna Pinto. She bore such a powerful testimony at the baptism of how she came to know that these things were true. She has been one who has been searching her whole life to find the truth. She has attended numerous congregations of varying sects of Christianity searching for what she didn’t have. Every single time she said, she sat there and told herself. “There has to be more than this, this can’t be all there is to it.” Eventually her visits to churches became less frequent until she wasn’t going anywhere at all. Then one sunny afternoon we came knocking on her door. She told us that we could come back and see her on Sunday afternoon. We didn’t think much of it because we people say we can come back all the time. It seemed promising but we weren’t sure what to make of it. When we came back on Sunday she had read a few chapters from her Book of Mormon (which we didn’t give her), had marked up some verses, and had plenty of questions for us. We thought we were dreaming. She came to church the next Sunday and hasn’t missed one since. She has been in many members homes and has already developed some great friendships. That was only about 5 weeks ago when we met her.

Those are the moments that make endless hours of effort worth it. As it says in the Doctrine and Covenants section 18 verse 15: “and if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with [her] in the kingdom of my Father.” That is how I feel right now. I am so blessed to be part of this amazing work!

Some other highlights of the week include seeing Elder Anderson speak. He was doing a road-trip through Florida basically and visiting numerous stakes along the way. Last wednesday he did a mission wide devotional which was an amazing opportunity. He talked about exactly what our mission needed to hear. He gave us encouragement that we can do better than we are currently doing, but promised us that it is indeed possible. I was very motivated to go and just make it happen. The next day while my companion was at the Temple I worked with one of the new missionaries and we had an awesome day. We had no plans going in but we ended up doing nonstop teaching basically. God truly provided.

On Sunday we finally had formal lesson with this woman named Ashley that we have been teaching. She is a single mom who is good friends now with some members in our ward and whose room-mate is a less active. They were moving to some apartments just down the road from us and so we helped out with the move. We managed to stay in touch with them over the next couple of weeks. We had dinner at that members house last week which they came to and we got to know her really well. She has come to church 2 times already and has really enjoyed it. Yesterday we had a really solid lesson with her and she is already read most of 1 Nephi. It is incredible how quickly she is progressing. We will set a baptismal date with her probably the next time we see her.

I can see more evidently than ever before that my heavenly Father loves me, and I am learning more and more each and everyday of the Grace of Jesus Christ. I know we don’t deserve the tremendous success that we are having, I don’t really know what I am doing most of the time. But the Lord provides, he has my whole life. He always finds a way to give me just what I need at just the moment I need it. I know that if we just turn things over to him, that our life will be filled with the sweetest joys that are available in this mortal life. It usually doesn’t come in the way that we expect or even want, but it does come and it is always what we really need. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Elder Joshua Cordon

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Reach Out!

Dear Family and Friends,

This week has just been non-stop awesome!! We are in a position where we rarely get a second to stop and think, it has been rather nice. I love being incredibly busy. However, at the same time a breather, where you can catch up on some things and gather your composure before going head first into the next week is always a nice thing. We have some exciting things ahead of this week. We have Elder Anderson of the quorum of the 12 Apostles doing a pitstop for a short mission devotional this week which will be a great experience and then the very next day we have another trip down to the temple. Then on Sunday our wonderful friend Donna will be baptized right after church. We are already filling practically every available crack with appointments. We are truly blessed with great prosperity right now. God really has been blessing us incredibly.

The lesson I learned this week is captured incredibly in a talk by Henry B. Eyring. It is called “Heavenly Father Reaches Out To His Children“. (*editors note: link is for an audio of the talk) In this talk he helps to explain how Heavenly Father can possibly stand watching so many of his children struggle and suffer. We think there is a lot of bad in the world and we cant even stand to watch, imagine seeing all of it happening at the same time and knowing each individual very personally. That sounds incredibly painful, yet that is what God experiences each and every moment. He tells us– and you must know that this is not at all doing justice to the talk and in no way replaces the benefit of actually hearing it for yourself– that the reason that Heavenly Father can stand it is because he has us. He has mortal servants down here who can reach the people and be an extension of Him in providing love and support during this difficult sojourn of life. He share a quote that is as follows, “it is against the order of Heaven for Angels to be sent to complete a task that can be accomplished by a mortal servant.”

The responsibility is ours. We most reach out and nourish and care for those around us. We cannot simply be concerned with our life alone but with the many lives that surround us each and every day. If we are sensitive to the needs of our loved ones and we are sensitive to the spirit we will see many opportunities to reach out and give support. It never has to be anything complicated, they simply need to know that you are there and that you love them. I am going to attach the link to the talk and I would encourage all of you to listen to it and to consider how you can be an extension of our heavenly father. As for me right now in my mission, these missionaries are my family. And I feel a great responsibility to reach out and to provide support and love to them. I hope God will guide me as I attempt to do just that.

I love y’all so much!

Elder Joshua Cordon