Tender Moments

Dear Family and Friends,

This week was a wonderful week! I had a lot of tender experiences that really made things very enjoyable. I did an exchange this week on Wednesday back in my old stomping ground of Deep Creek. Luckily for me the plans had us going to the home of my old ward mission leader Br Strattan. I love that family so much they definitely have enriched me mission experience! It was like I never left when i saw them. After catching up for a bit Elder Francom who I was with got to work getting some info on some referrals while Sister Strattan had me add myself to a group for the Deep Creek ward that shows how everyone is related. I found out that Sister Strattan was my 8th cousin and that Betty Hicks, a black sister in the ward who was recently baptized is actually my 6th cousin. It was a funny moment to learn that, but really awesome at the same time. Betty was one of the first people I met when I got to Deep Creek. We had a great day there though and were able to get a lot of work done. At the end of the night we had a lesson with a girl that I met the last time I was there about 6 weeks ago. They had been struggling to get a solid lesson with her since then, but we were able to sit down and have a very powerful lesson with her. We laughed at the thought we would just have me come every 6 weeks and help teach her.

On Thursday I was in Georgia with the incredible Elder Welsh. He is one of the best Elders in the mission and I was grateful to be able to spend the day with him. We had an awesome experience after trying to contact a less active member. After noticing that the family who we had an address for had moved we began knocking on the neighbors doors. After a few doors a school bus showed up and dropped off some kids. These two boys were teasing these girls and one of them was crying while her sister was walking with her back to there house. Turns out that Elder Welsh knew these girls because they are the daughters of a member and the older sister had been to church a couple of times. They told us that the boys were teasing them and one of the boys took an old can of vienna sausages (which are gross to begin with) that he found on the ground and opened it up and threw it at one of the girls. Not too much got on her but nevertheless it was completely unacceptable. After showing the girls a quick video on Jesus Christ we walked over to the home of those boys to invite them to repent. One of them timidly opened the door, he was probably 15 and less than half my size. He wasn’t the major trouble maker though, his cousin who was hiding behind him who was 18 couldn’t even look us in the eye long enough to answer our questions. We proceeded to teach them how unchrist-like their actions were and if they ever wanted to amount to anything in life they would learn quickly to grow up and be real men. Hopefully, an ounce of that sunk in. As we finished up with that the girls mother had arrived home and had been informed of what we were doing. She was very impressed and was very open to hearing our message. Prior to this moment she was very against the idea of becoming a Mormon or even associating with Mormons. By the end of our lesson with her we had her and her daughters all excited about the idea of getting baptized and return appointment to teach them as a family the next day.

On Sunday we had Stake Conference. The building of the Hendricks ward is my Stake Center so I was able to go and say hi to all of my old friends. It is so nice to be able to maintain such a close relationship with my recent converts. In that meeting I had two recent converts in the Hendricks Ward, Solomon Deng and Jim Colney, be sustained by the stake to be ordained to the office of Elder. Solomon wasn’t able to be there that day but Jim was, and my old Bishop was so kind to think of me that after the meeting he went and found me so that I could help with Jim’s ordination. I had no idea that I was going to be able to have that opportunity, but it was definitely a very special moment for me. God has been so good and to give me many tender experiences this week and I know that he loves me very much. It never ceases to amaze me how personal of a relationship that we can have with our Heavenly Father. My mother pointed out in a letter a couple weeks ago that God will bless us very specifically and personally if we are ready to receive those blessings and I can testify that this is true!

I hope everyone of you can look for ways that the lord has specifically blessed you this week and make sure to give him thanks for those blessings!

I love y’all! Have a wonderful week!

Elder Joshua Cordon

God is SO Good!

Dear Family and Friends,

This past week has been one crazy week! It is transfer time again and the one thing that is guaranteed to accompany it is chaos. I wouldnt have it any other way. We got the opportunity to the temple again on Thursday which was an incredible experience. Even though I am constantly engaged in spiritual efforts there is still something so uniquely powerful with the temple. That is just another of the many testimonies that I have received that those buildings truly are sacred.

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Everything has been non-stop craziness since we arrived back from the temple. We have had some Elders staying with us since Thursday night, who need to be in Jacksonville for some doctors appointments. In order to keep them busy we have both just taken one and have been constantly covering twice the area with them. It was a huge blessing because we had meetings galore this weekend, so we were still able to get plenty of good things.

One of the major highlights of the weekend was the ward Chili Cook-off and Trunk or Treat on Friday. I got to be a judge for the chili along with some of the other elders. It was tough to choose a winner because they were all so good. We had some awesome turnout from our investigators though, we ended up having 9 people come that we invited which was awesome and they all had such a blast. 3 of them were a complete surprise though. We went to the home of one of our friends named Ty to invite him to come. He said he wasn’t feeling it, but his room-mate, Dean, and their friend, who just so happens to be the boyfriend of someone the sisters have been teaching, said they would come. There was another couple at the house at the time named Ray and Rose, but they didn’t seem interested in coming. About a half hour after the party had started, we see all 5 of them there! They ended up having a blast! Especially Dean who did not hesitate to work the crowd and meet as many members as he could. Though he wasn’t drunk, his breath definitely smelt of alcohol, but I was really happy to see how the ward members really didn’t care and they were so welcoming. We ended up teaching Dean and Ty the next day and though he has much more to learn he expressed to desire to be baptized and has agreed to work at preparing himself for the last week of November.

David loved the camping trip! His dad wasn’t able to make it, but they also came to the ward party on Friday and to mutual on Wednesday so they are really coming along, it has been amazing to witness. All of this came from just strengthening a recent convert, which is just a testimony to the importance of retention. Truly the growth of that family is a dream come true for Aileen who is their sister/daughter. She has a had to overcome so much to be where she is at, and she never in a million years could have imagined even the progress they have already made. On Saturday Aileen was with her all her siblings and her dad, so we told her to get them to all pray together. She texted us afterward and told us that they did, but it was her dad’s idea (we had just taught him about prayer last Wednesday). That is the first time they have ever prayed as a family. It was such a tender moment. I love that families can be together forever!! Jorge and David were both able to the ward party, and even all of church on Sunday, so it has been really awesome to how they are just really becoming part of the ward. It has been a very natural experience for them and the ward has done so well with wrapping their arms around them. David has truly become a part of the deacons quorum. We are going to have to get him a set of scriptures so he can start to put them to use on Sundays. The work is just going so well here and it has been amazing to see how people just are coming out of the wood work and things are coming together. I am so much happier now than i have ever been in my life, but I know that there are only greater joys in store for me.

I hope all of you have a wonderful week!

Elder Joshua Cordon

I even made my pumpkin be a missionary!

I even made my pumpkin be a missionary!

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A Beautiful Gift

Dear Family and Friends,

I think an overarching thing that my past week taught me is that of the simplicity of personal revelation and the importance of actively seeking it and then acting upon it long enough to reap the rewards. I was left in a mode of pondering after the recent general conference which made no small emphasis on the importance of personal revelation. That all finally developed into a phenomenal learning opportunity as I was on an exchange with one of my fellow missionaries this week. I think the trick to receiving revelation is to learn how to ask the right questions. After talking to him all night between lessons about pretty general topics I could tell that something was on his mind. When we got home and after I planned for the next day I started to pry a little to see what I could get out of him. I had no idea the amount of revelation that we were going to receive during that conversation that night, and again in the morning. We talked about all aspects of missionary work with the goal of trying to figure out what the missionaries in his stewardship needed from him. And really it was as simple as us asking a good question and then seeing the spirit guide our answers to helping us find the solutions. It seemed so easy, it was just coming to us. The amazing thing was that we both were completely on the same page. We were receiving the exact same answers. In the morning we even ended up studying the exact same chapters in the book of mormon and in PMG. It was quite wild. I felt like the early saints describe in the Acts 4:31-32 “And when they had prayed… they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul…” This experience of personal revelation this week has happened many times before, but I was especially aware of it this time and I feel like the lessons I learned were very profound.

Making an extra emphasis to put the revelation to work Elder Layton prayerfully considered an exact street that we should go and knock on Friday with the goal of finding a family that would be open to hearing our message. An exact street came to us and we wrote it down. The next day I was on another exchange this time with my MTC companion, Elder Searle, and we went to the street that we had planned. We found a potential investigator right at the start but we went for almost an hour after that with no success. That is when we knocked on Tony’s door. Elder Searle did the initial approach flawlessly and we found ourselves trying to comfort this man as he tells us how is 9 year old daughter was killed by a drunk driver, and that that same driver killed another few people last year because of the same thing and he is still not behind bars. While we did feel sorry for his loss but we were also happy because we knew that we had something that would help to remove the pain and anguish from his heart. After having a simple doorstep lesson with him, he told us that he would read the Book of Mormon that night and that he wanted his family to hear this message. I knew at that moment that it really was inspiration that we chose to go to that street at that time so that we could meet this man.

Another amazing miracle that we had Saturday night also began with a prayer. It was 8:05 and we had no idea what we were going to do for the next 55 minutes. The plans we did have had fallen through and it wasn’t exactly the best time to be knocking on someones door. We prayed and asked God were we should go. At first we still had no idea so we started to just drive back to the other side of town that we live on. As were driving a thought of a lady, but when we called she didn’t answer. Then I got another idea to try someone else just down the street from our apartment. We knocked on her door, but no one appeared to be home. Then Elder Layton thought to try Gladys, which was strange considering the fact that we officially removed her from our teaching pool last Friday after a month and a half of no contact. We tried it though. She happened to have just gotten home moments before and she was open to chatting. We ended up having a 45 minute lesson with her which began with her saying how exhausting work and life in general has been to it ending with us finding out that she was already baptized a Mormon and her doing the chicken dance as she tells us a funny story. She recognized how much the spirit of the gospel lifted her burdens and made her forget about the stress of life and said that she would like meeting with us regularly, so that we could help her start coming back to church. Another miracle that began with asking a simple question and receiving very simple revelation.

I want to bear testimony that the Holy Ghost is real and that it is actually a third member of the Godhead. Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, which allows me to have this member of the Godhead as my constant guide is undoubtedly the greatest gift that God has given me. I know that if we are worthy and if we listen that we can receive the quite whispering of the spirit that will send us down unknown but glorious paths on our journey back to Heavenly Father. I am grateful to have been blessed to have received the gift of the Holy Ghost by one who holds proper authority, truly this is the greatest difference between the true church of Jesus Christ, and all others. My only desire is to bless the human race by helping whoever will listen receive this incredible gift into their own life. This is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I love y’all!

Elder Joshua Cordon

P.S. If you are wondering how you could help yourself be better at receiving personal revelation then read the devotional address, “An Educated Conscience” by Stephen Covey, the May 27th, 1975 BYU devotional.

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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