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

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”.