Slightly Scatter-Brained

Dear Family and Friends,

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

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

Anyway enough of those work out metaphors.

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

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

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

Anyhow… that was my week!

I love y’all!

Elder Joshua Cordon

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

Catch A Vision! A Day of White!

Dear Family and Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love y’all! Have a great week!!

Elder Joshua Cordon

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In The World but Not Of the World!!

Dear Family and Friends,

So much happens every week that I never know what to tell you… I guess I will start with the 4th of July!

After a wonderful ward breakfast and flag raising–which included a hilarious little bike parade of all the kids– are day went on as normal. We got a lunch with a recent convert and had a good lesson to ease some of her concerns that she has been having. She has every reason to be happy, yet she wont let herself because of things in the past. I fear that what she is experiencing is far too common in this church. We found a sort of secluded picnic table and gave her a blessing. I am personally not a fan of public blessings, but when someone needs one then they get one. It was a really powerful blessing, and she has been at ease and smiling ever since. I have gained such a huge testimony of priesthood blessings. I know from personal experience on my mission that they indeed save lives! God is ever mindful of us and that is one way that he shows his love.

That night for the fourth of July we got two zones of the mission together and blitzed this huge event they have downtown on the river. Thousands of people go for a carnival like event and to watch the fireworks that they shoot out over the river. Our zone covered the North Side and the other the South. I drove a 12 passenger van full of sisters and headed the convoy of 5 vehicles down to our rally point. From there we rode the monorail to the other side of the river we were divided into our respective areas. Only us and the sister training coordinators were in the alcohol section. In contrast to missionary life it was like Sodom and Gommorrah, though in worlds standards it probably wasnt that bad. The goal of all the missionaries was consistent with our sacred calling, find those who are ready to receive the restored gospel. In the first hour we met probably 15 less-active members there. The would come up to us and squint at our tag and be like, “ELDERS!! Hey I am a member!… I haven’t been in a while, but I respect you a lot for what you do and I am thankful for you!” It was a pretty neat experience! Less-active and active, there are just so many wonderful members of this church!! We just need them all to come regularly and bless us with there love.

As the night rolled on people become more and more tipsy and the contacting a lot more difficult, so we changed our strategy. We started taking pictures with people to test the water of whether or not they were sober enough to carry a conversation, and then if they seemed interested we would get their facebook information. That was surprisingly successful. At the end of the night we realized we had handed out over 100 pass along cards and gathered a bunch of names for the local missionaries to teach. We were also very surprised at how receptive the general populace was to us. We would walk by people and hear them say to their friends, “those men are preaching the word.” Haha you better believe it! We finally got out of there as the fireworks started going so that we could be first to the cars so that sisters wouldn’t be waiting by themselves in a dark parking lot. We opened all the doors on the mini van and blasted the mo-tab to bring a peaceful spirit into the evening. The music combined with the events of the evening left everyone smiling as the approached the vehicles at the end of the night. I learned in a powerfully dramatic way that one can be in the world, but not of the world. I was quite surprised at my ability to maintain wholesome thoughts and keep the spirit with me despite the environment I was in.

So there is my story for the week!

I love y’all! Have a great week!

Elder Joshua Cordon

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Lightening, Cameras, and…. Snow

Dear Family and Friends,

How is it possible that week after week things just get better and better? You think you should just get to a point where you would just stop progressing and you are as happy as you can be… Except that would be false doctrine and the exact opposite of what I teach people, so it makes perfect sense actually. I love truth!! It is just so… motivating!

This past week at Zone meeting we had one of the most inspired goal setting sessions i have ever experienced in a Zone Meeting! I have struggled to get a goal that everyone embraces and one that unifies, but I think we finally did it. It started with a spiritual epiphany I received several weeks back, and one I have been praying about ever since. I realized that God wants his sons and daughters baptized more than I want them baptized. No duh right? Well it definitely changed the way I pray. Then I realized that he spends everyday preparing people to received this message and that there are prepared people out there and we just need to find them. Now I kinda knew all this already, but it finally hit me in a different way, the kinda way that leads someone to change and to act. My companion and I then came up with what we knew was a inspired plan. We decided that if we pray and fast and work our tails off, that every single companionship can find and baptized someone in the month of June. When we first introduced it we had a lot of doubting eyes staring back at us. So we pulled out our secret weapon, the faith building pep-talked we prepared. Before we were even done the spirit was very thick in the room and every single missionary jumped in excitement for our goal which is twice as much as a number we thought was impossible the month before. Good things are coming :) #raiseyourexpectations

So if you haven’t seen our video on Facebook yet, I pity you. I would also invite you to repent and go and check it out. We are forming an amazing group and we need your help! It was a lot of fun to film and it was definitely interesting scenery. I hope you enjoy/enjoyed it!

I also had the opportunity to go on exchange last week to required me to hop on the bike again for a whole night! Before we even finished our dinner it was raining. I decided to go without a raincoat though because I new that if I wasn’t wet with rain water than I would be wet from wearing a non-breathable coat in the thick humidity. As we biked around we enjoyed natures natural firework displays. I was hoping that people would take pity on us considering, but it didnt seem to work too well! haha

Another amazing experience was that this past week Alfred opened up that he was still unsure of Thomas S. Monson being a prophet. We decided to help him out by watching the move about him called “On The Lord’s Errand.” Before we were even able to finish the movie he said that he knew that it was true! He is such a champion! He will be interview this week for baptism so we will see how that goes!

Oh ya and about the snow comment. We were about to go meet some less-active members at an apartment complex when we saw a pile of snow on the other side of the fence. I had to look to twice to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. I made a snow ball!!! In Florida!! OUTSIDE!! How is that possible!?! Well… it helps if you are next to an ice rink haha. Nevertheless, it was awesome!

Once again everybody join the Facebook group Called To Share and invite all of your member friends. Then tomorrow (Tuesday) post a picture of you holding the Book of Mormon just under yours eyes with #discoverthebook and with your testimony of how you know it is true!

Love Ya’ll!!

Elder Joshua Cordon

One step at a time!

Dear Family and Friends,

This last week was complete craziness! Which is just the way I like
it. Perhaps I say that a lot, but it is true. We started the week off
right by having a wonderful FHE at Br. Ortega’s home, he is the ward
mission leader and he does a phenomenal job at fellow shipping. There
was a wonderful spirit there as we talked about the Book of Mormon and
overcoming different fears in life. That is when Steve chimed in with
an innocently hilarious comment. Now mind you, this room was mostly
full of women. He told us how he recently had a chuckle moment when
reading the Book of Mormon, it came when he read the line, “the fruit
of thy loins saith.” He followed that up with the question, “do loins
talk”? Haha oh man that was hilariously awkward, but more hilarious
than awkward. We later explained to him what that meant and he felt
slightly embarrassed.

That night we picked up President Craig’s nephew and he stayed with us
for the next 2 days/3 nights. He was a lot of fun! Needless to say, we
laughed a lot. He is leaving on his mission to Ecuador next month.
Probably one of the best experiences we had with him was when we were
contacting a family who was fishing on the St. John’s river and while
teaching the mans wife, we had to chase a crab around that he caught
that got loose. Then her husband pulled out two grabs at the same
time. There is a reason for that. It was a really fun time and a good
experience.

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We had zone conference the next day that was really inspiring despite
the fact that it was ten hours long. I received a lot of revelation
for myself, my area, and my zone. I am excite to see what comes of
these new plans.

The rest of the week was just dandy!

I also learned that more than ever I need to take life just one day at
a time and one week at a time. The rest will take care of itself.
Maybe you could try that too!

Love y’all!

Elder Joshua Cordon

Elder Huntington

P.S. Elder Huntington says “Hi”.

Alligators, Snakes, and Trios

Dear Family and Friends,

Sorry I was silent last week, the pictures are of what I was doing instead of emailing. I hope that you agree it was time well spent, and if you don’t well too bad it already happened.

St. Augustine is a really cool city. It has some really neat attractions, definitely some of the coolest stuff I have ever seen on my mission. I got two items checked off of my bucket list, I saw huge gator, and I held one. Next task is to find one in the wild and poke it with a stick. A really long stick mind you. Okee Fanokee Swamp here I come! haha oh man that would be cool. 

Along with seeing the gator farm we got to see the Fort they had there and it was really cool. It was definitely a lot bigger than I thought it would be looking from the outside. Needless to say it was a really awesome trip! It all could not have happened without Elder and Sister Christensen though, they help finance all us poor missionaries and made the itinerary. I am very thankful for kind people like them!

Another interesting thing that happened this past week was that Elder Frazier went to the temple and I was in a trio for the day. It was an interesting experience. Luckily I got to pick were we go for the day, so I was able to stay in my area and keep the work moving along. Both of the Elders I was with are in full bike areas so they appreciated the break. Exchanges are nice because they mix up the monotony and you learn so much from serving with other missionaries. 

We got a call from President Craig yesterday and Kevin and Lori can get baptized this week so that is incredibly exciting! Also, we had transfer calls last night and every companionship of elders in the zone got changed except for us, and all the sisters in my district got changed, and 2 sisters in the other district. It was a massive change that I did not see coming! That just means that I get to build a friendship with a lot more missionaries though which is very exciting! Wohoo! Friends!

Love ya’ll!
Elder Joshua Cordon

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Double Dunks & Back Flips

Dear Family and Friends,

Oh the simple joys of life! One of the happiest moments for a missionary is to see someone who you felt came into your life by divine intervention enter the gate to eternal life through the waters of baptism. I am a very lucky Elder to have been so richly blessed. I will take just a few minutes to describe my two brothers who were baptized this weekend!

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Jim, oh Jim. He is honestly the most prepared person that I have ever met in my entire life. Once he knew it was true, which didn’t take long, there hasn’t been anything that has been a struggle for him to give up. Every time we taught him a knew principle he immediately started doing it. He had to get work off for Sundays and his job wouldn’t comply, so he quit! He spends every day serving his neighbors and doing acts of kindness. He is one of the most kind-hearted men I have ever met in my life. It was an honor to be able to baptize him. Sunday after he was confirmed he also got the priesthood and went and did home-teaching right after church! This church is in dire need of more Jims.

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Then you have the good ole Steevo! This brother has made me laugh more than anyone else. He truly understands good humor. He, like Jim, has been so willing to make the changes in his life to come closer to God. His love and enthusiasm for the Gospel has been an inspiration. He just wants this more than anyone I know. He has no problem with telling everyone he meets about the church! Especially via facebook! He has the potential to be a great missionary! I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to meet him and that the spirit softened his heart so that he let us in to teach him.

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This week was just an unbeatable one with that great weekend coming to a close! I am looking forward to helping these brothers down the path of growth and progression in this amazing church! Sadly Kevin and Lori were unable to join them in the font on Saturday but when they get baptized in a few weeks the joy will be just as sweet!

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A quick word of caution for all yall! If you are going to be attempting a back-flip off of a swing at 6:45 in the morning any time soon, don’t tuck your legs too much or you will over-rotate and turn that back-flip into a back-flop. Trust me I know! It is okay though, the swings and I are still on good terms.

Love Y’all!
Have a great week!

Elder Joshua Cordon

Family, Isn’t it about time!

Dear Family and Friends,

It feels like its been a “hot minute” since my last email, but that is just how things go I guess. (I actually have no idea what “hot minute” means, but someone said it the other day and I have been trying to use it since) Time is a really strange thing when you think about it. Technically it goes at a constant rate, but it feels like it is always changing pace. They say it goes in a line, but that definitely is not the case. They say you can spend it, but it is not something you earn, that its actually a gift we eventually learn. We all have a lot of it, but it is never enough. You can use it with care, or you can waste it on fluff. Now that my time of talking is through, I’ll give you my love and bid you adieu. (Special thanks to Elder Sutton with helping me finish that) I hope ya’ll enjoyed my hand at poetry. Now that I have spent all my time trying to come up with a poem on time, I am now out of time. Funny how that works!

I hope y’all will use your time wisely this week, by doing what matters most.

Bubye now, bubye.

Elder Joshua Cordon

Exchange Week!

Dear Family and Friends,

The highlight of this week was definitely the exchanges that we went on. We had one with one of our district leaders and the other with the Assistants. Exchanges are nice because they are good change of pace. It really helps to keep things from becoming monotonous especially when you don’t stay in your own area for it. For the exchange with Elder Jones, I stayed in the area and we had some great success! We were able to teach some good lessons, especially one to Jim who agreed to be baptized in May, and find some new investigators. He is a good elder indeed! They other with the AP Elder Huntington was pretty nice. Not to say I didn’t do anything, but it is nice to sit back and let someone else fully take the wheel for a day. We had some good success there as well! It was just nice to get to know both of the Elders a little better. Each time I like to engage in frivolous deep doctrinal discussions. We usually just end up more confused, but it is definitely a good mental exercise. They also both taught me a lesson or two on how I could become a better missionary. It is amazing how God will reveal to us one step at a time something we can work on, and if we can just muster the courage to always heed the counsel we receive than our growth accelerates! I have definitely felt that!

One thing that is interesting though that I have observed is that having a healthy amount of discontentment is essential to making progress. Somebody who is fully satisfied with their life will never have the desire great enough to evoke change. I am starting to see that in some of the people we are teaching, you can exhort with all the boldness and love you can muster to live life at higher and more joyful level, but if they have no desire to change any excuse they can think of is enough to stop them, and sadly, anyone can make an excuse to not do something. It is a tough and frustrating thing to witness in the life of someone you have grown to love so much, to know that greater joy and happiness could be theirs if they would only listen, yet they refuse to. I am sure I am just getting a sample of what God feels every single moment of every single day. However, it is days like that when you just accept that you have done all you know how to do, and if they don’t want to change than that is their choice. I am learning that it is not our job as missionaries to change anyone, nor should we try to make it our job, but rather we simply share the message and invite them to let it change their life. If they don’t want it then we must move on. Anyhow, so I hope that all makes sense! It is just what has been on my mind lately!

Have a great week!

Love Ya’ll!
Elder Joshua Cordon

Daily Miracles :)

Dear family and friends,

This past week was a good week.

Seems like every day we felt like we had experienced a miracle. That is always a great feeling! Some of the highlights where some lessons that we had with the conseillant family. They are an awesome family from Haiti, we have been working with them for about a month and a half now. Their names are Gabin and Emmanuella, they have three beautiful children, Alayna, Nala, and Gianni. They are like our best friends. I will definitely be keeping touch with them for the rest of my life. They would be wonderful members of the Church. Gabin is Apostle material. A huge step was made with them when we were talking about the disciples in 3 Nephi 19 in the Book of Mormon. Emmanuella was confused about something and we were struggling to help her understand it. That is when Gabin turned to her and in a perfect way explained it to her in a way we never could. It was a huge step because he has never tried to help explain some of our doctrine like that before. They give us marriage advice all the time, mostly for Elder Hamilton because we are predicting that he will be married by the end of the year haha. It is some really good stuff! They really know what they’re talking about.

I am loving every minute of my mission so far! I feel as if my morning studies have improved and I’m really loving the opportunity to tear apart the book of Mormon and just find so many nuggets of wisdom and truth. I have truly grown to love that book as I focus my studies around it. I really don’t care to read anywhere else right now. The Spirit it brings into my mornings alone is worth it. I feel as if anybody who doesn’t take time to study the book of Mormon every single day is missing out on a wonderful opportunity.

A fun thing that happened this week was a friendly competition that we had. On Saturday the assistance called us and asked if we could have lunch so we could talk about a few things. On our way to the restaurant Elder Hamilton and I were trying to guess what they were going to rebuke us for. Unable to think of anything that would give them ammunition we were curious as to what they wanted to talk about. About halfway through lunch and folded the plan before us. They told us that Sunday night from 5 to 9 we were going to compete to see who couldn’t score the most points. You could score points by knocking on doors, contacting people, getting new investigators, and setting baptismal dates. The prize was a golden eagle trophy they had found in the mission office. The Lord bless us with great success and they are going to give us the trophy sometime today. :-)

I know that God is aware of our lives, and that he really does care about each and every single one of us. His hand is always extended, and we just have to reach out. We will find success and happiness in life as we turn everything over to him. It isn’t easy, but it’s not that hard either, and it is most definitely worth it! Have a great week!

I love ya’ll!

Elder Joshua Cordon