The Christmas Season Has Begun

Dear Family and Friends,

Well December is underway. With comes new miracles. This week we added two new people to our teaching pool. One is a turnover from the sisters. She was found through an english find that we organized. Her name is stephanie and this week we have seen her three times. But the coolest thing is last sunday she went to church with the sisters and then in the evening we got to know her better at and FHE activity and had an amazing experience. Well that night her house apparently got in quite a dispute over her being involved with our church her father had found tons of anti stuff on the computer. She had a hard time believing all the anti she heard because she felt too good when she came to church. So late that night she called up the Sisters who couldn’t get back to her tell the next day but when they did she wanted to meet up immediately to talk. So we went with the sisters and then we ended addressing her concerns and taught a really strong restoration lesson. She said she loves the feeling of the gospel and is willing to work pass the anti and opposition.

The coolest thing is this got started because of the Elders quorum president in our ward he wanted to help boost the work so he made these really cool english class flyers and we had quite a few people show up, one being stephanie. Also his wife is getting involved as well because she made cupcakes we could take to less actives and investigators. We were doing less active finding and just going down the list of names and addresses we ended up giving one out to the dad of a less active. Later that less active who has not been in contact with the church in years called the bishop thanking him for the gift. Thanks to this families efforts we are seeing blessings in both investigators and less actives. We were sure to let them know of their help. Its amazing what happens when members and missionaries work together.

Now we are working with ten plus investigators all of which were found with the help of others.

One big lesson that I learned from Preach My Gospel that I have been working to incorporate in the work is helping investigators gain a sincere appreciation for the scriptures. I trace the lack of that appreciation to a big reason people go less active so we are really working to make sure our investigators are reading and receiving revelation for themselves. We really want a december baptism and we know that scripture study is key for getting them there.

This last week I had the chance to go on Exchanges with Elder Tse over in the Ngau Tau Gok area. I have never been over to that part of Hong Kong so it was cool. They have really good steamed bread over there and its really cheap so I might have eaten a lot of those. We area able to add a new investigator to their teaching pool and Elder Tse really taught me a lot of simple lessons about how I can improve my teaching. He does an amazing job and setting really clear expectations for lessons and the entire experience. He really knows how to apply the how to begin teaching skills.

On another note I have been trying to improve my cooking of oriental foods. I have successfully invented my own dish and with other missionaries confirmation its pretty dang good. It also fits into the Chinese food category.

Things are really good here in Aberdeen we got miracles coming we have already seen plenty and we have plenty I am sure.

love you all

Elder Jared Cordon

Thanks For Giving

Dear Family and Friends,

Well what a week! I think the Highlight of the week is truly Thanksgiving. We had a fun zone thanksgiving activity. I have many things to be very very grateful for. Like I had previously said I have not had that much success getting people I meet on the street to stick, probably because The Lord wants me to stay humble and remember its him that makes this work happen. Because I know that the weeks I am working the hardest he still rewards us for our efforts like this week we picked up two families that we saw twice they had both went to church in another ward because a member invited them, I guess they met through the boy scout program. But they live in our area we met them gave them a tour of the church and then they came to english class. We also have another girl we met because she is a turnover from the sisters she has already been taught a few lessons and came to church.

So the low down on who we are working with (which are all in the time since i got here). Simon:turnover from the Senior missionaries; Ray: referral from a less active member; Johnny: walked into the church while we were studying; Julie, Peter, & Dora: turnover from the sisters; Mrs Tang and her family: turnover from Chaiwan member; Mrs Wong and her family: also turnover from Chaiwan member. We got some other potential but these are the big ones right now. SO I HAVE A LOT TO BE GRATEFUL FOR!

The lord blesses us for the efforts we make in planting seeds in one field by allowing us to reap harvest in another. I think therein lies a wonderful lesson for life: it teaches us that by doing all things the Lord asks us, although they may have no direct impact on our desires or challenges we hope to receive or overcome, the lord through his ways unknown will change all factors of our lives. So while you may not understand while the lord or his servants ask us to do certain things, do them anyway and you will receive a rich supply of blessing to that I can promise in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ. For this is truly his words and his blessings.

I love you all

Elder Jared Cordon

Many Reasons To Be Thankful

Dear Family and Friends,

Wow! What a week! I never feel that I can even come close to capturing all that happens in one week in these short emails. Never in my life have I had so many things happen in such a brief amount of time as I have at this time right now. And with the Holiday season there is no sign of things slowing down, which I am grateful for!

Thanksgiving this year was just one jam packed day of AWESOME! We started it off with playing in the Turkey bowl. We had some awesome turn-out because we combined the Mandarin 1st and 2nd wards. We had 3 games going at the same time and so it was non-stop which was awesome. I was happy to see that everyone was good sports and we just were able to have a great time. The weather was beautiful and we were able to have two investigators, David and Marquez, join us which was great experience. I have mentioned David before, but Marquez is someone we just started working with. He is the grandson of a lady we have been visiting for several months now. He came to young mens the last two weeks and was able to come to the Turkey Bowl and has loved every minute of it. He is 13 and has a size 14 shoe. Br. Henderson who recently joined the church a few years ago, has taken Marquez under his wing. It works out because he is able to relate having come from a rough past and he is also Marquez’ young mens leader. Marquez even came to church and he along with David have both become great members of the deacons quorum. Have I ever mentioned how awesome this ward is at fellowshipping.

We ended up getting 4 different Thanksgiving dinners which was heavenly. Each one was uniquely delicious and very filling. I had to perform a thorough taste-test of each and every dish of mashed-potatoes to see how they would stack up to what I was raised on, and Mom I am happy to inform you that while the competition was respectable, you took the cake. It was also amazing how each one provided us with missionary opportunities. The first we had a recent convert there with us. The second we had a part-member family there. The third had our investigators Amelia and Tyrell with us. A little note on that was that it was so much fun to be able to kinda “tag team” with Tyrell as one of us talk with everyone the other played with Tyrell and the other kids. To be completely honest I think it seemed that both of us would rather have spent time playing with Tyrell, Emma, and David than talk with the adults. And the fourth was with another part-member family that we have been working with. I could not have asked for a better day.

The next presented new challenges as i found it difficult to rise from my bed. I was heavy with food and sore from football, more sore than I have ever been on my mission. After winning that battle I had the blessed opportunity to go down and do a session at the Orlando Temple. I limped through the whole thing but the spirit filled me to the point where I didn’t even notice. I am so very grateful for this wonderful gospel! I know without a doubt in my mind that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the way to happiness in this life and to eternal happiness in the next. I know that it makes us happy because I have seen it give peace to the broken hearted, give purpose to the hopeless, and increase of joy to those who were already living pretty good lives. I love this work so much and I pray that all of you will take time this month– especially considering the wonderful reason of the season– to find ways to serve others and fill your lives and theres with the love of God.

I love y’all!
Elder Joshua Cordon

A Week of Miracles!!

Dear Family and Friends,

I had something come to mind, an experience in my life that is rather simple, but it is a wonderful analogy of what it is like to come into the fold.

When I was about 10 it was finally resolved that I needed to get some contacts. Up until this point I had worn neither contacts or glasses, so it was definitely a new experience. I was thoroughly convinced that I could see fine, and I am sure that if someone were to even imply that I was blind would invoke in me a very defensive response. Nevertheless, my parents who cared for me and who knew what was best insisted that I get them anyway. After getting those on for the first time it was like I had become part of a whole new world. There were so many things I had not noticed before. I remember staring at the blinds on the window and being amazing at how distinct the separation was between each panel. The smallest things of life took on a whole new level of interest for me. I remember going home and grabbing a pair of binoculars and just sitting on the porch for what felt like hours taking in the breath-taking scenes of which I had been entirely unaware and unable to behold. Simply enough, (with the pun absolutely intended) my eyes had been opened.

For me this is what it is like when someone finally allows the gospel to be part of there life. While the experience of gaining a testimony and increasing in spiritual knowledge is not so instant, nor can it be captured in one simple moment, the reception of the Gift of the Holy Ghost and the opening of your spiritual eyes can be. When someone receives the gift of the Holy Ghost the scriptures are unfolded before them in a way that they never have experienced before. They will learn things and see things that they were completely unaware of. Even Joseph Smith who by the power of God was translating the Book of Mormon made the following comment after receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, “Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of.” (Joseph Smith–History 1:74) I can bear testimony that this is true. For I have had personal experiences that have born witness to me of this fact.

I thought of this story when we were preparing for the baptism of Kristin this weekend. It was such a special opportunity to be part of that baptism and to see her make the steps in preparation for that wonderful day. She began her journey many months ago when her twin sister came into contact with the missionaries. She was studying with them and had even planned to get baptized back in April/May sometime. Something happened with the baptism though and she got stressed out to the point where she called it off. On top of that she still had a lot of questions and felt like it was too early for her. Her and sister then went back home for the summer and when they returned to Jacksonville for school in the fall. When they returned. Her sister wasn’t actively attending any more and they weren’t really in contact with the missionaries anymore. They are really good friends with two of the recent converts in our ward though and they started coming to the Family Home Evenings that we have each monday. Then they started to come to church with their friends as well. We called the missionaries that had been working with them and asked if we could begin teaching them. They hadn’t met with them but a few times and they were coming to church with us so it worked out. In only a few weeks Kristin was ready to get baptized and now her and her twin sister, Kaitlin, is back active in the church. It was a beautiful service on Saturday. Chirag, their friend, baptized her, and Kaitlin gave the talk on baptism. I am so very grateful that I got to be part of her story, even though this was all member work that brought these girls back and into the church. I would have pictures but they were on someone else’s camera and I am still waiting to get those.

On Sunday we had the awesome experience of having Amelia and her son, Tyrell, join us at church. Tyrell has down syndrome so we got to spend the day at church walking around with him as he introduced himself to everyone. Children with down syndrome just prick your heart in a special way that you just cannot help but love them. The bishop found Amelia through an interesting chain of events. She just got to town trying to get away from a bad situation. She was staying at an extended stay here in Jacksonville and the previous tenet had not erased the voicemails on the phone. She thought they were hers so she listened to them. One happened to be from the Bishop of our ward. A while later she was planning on going to the parade, but she wasn’t able to make it so they went to the beach instead. Some young adults were there playing volleyball and taking pictures. She admired how well groomed and well mannered they all were. She noticed that they had written something in the sand, but it wasn’t until she had walked to the water and back that she noticed that they had written “MORMONS” in the sand. It was then that she felt prompted to call the bishop. They had an amazing discussion and we were there teaching her the next day. It is an amazing miracle. God works in miraculous ways to bring people to the truth.

I love y’all! Have a wonderful week!

Elder Joshua Cordon

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Tyrell with the Ward

 

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Tyrell with the Elders

 

Conference!! Sadly it’s only twice a year

Dear Family and Friends

Conference I love it! It’s something that I feel I have wasted my entire life. So many hours staring at the TV with the words coming in one ear and right out the other. Now it’s a spiritual roller coaster. It’s so cool to take and learn the message they are sharing but also to be learning at the same time another lesson by the Holy Ghost. There is the things everyone needs to hear then there is the things that I (you) need to hear. Their words are truly scripture in the modern days while reading one talk can inspire you for one topic the entire conference altogether will tell you another.

This week overall was full of a lot of success! There is two people on the street that are seeming to stick and after 8 months it appears that its the right time to bring in new investigators. I think its because my overall goal has been to build this area and leave it better than I found it. With two baptisms to drain the teaching pool new people had to be on their way so as to keep the work going. The Lord has decided now I guess to bring them out. We now have 4 people with great great potential and a few others who are on the turning points. I would love more that anything to stay another transfer but it’s looking that next week may be my last in the Butterfly Ward. The Lord seems to do that, once we are on top and things are going great He takes us out of the situation probably to remind us that its all because of Him and we need to stay humble because if He chooses we could have nothing.

I have been so blessed to see the Lord work miracles during my time here.

Conference was so good because in Hong Kong everyone in the stake just goes to the church and watches it. So of course all the missionaries come and we all watch the English session together. President joined us for the sunday morning and an amazing sister prepared food for all us missionaries. Conference weekend is a holiday to be celebrated full of spiritual and physical feasting.

I love you all, take luck.

Elder Jared Cordon

The Power of Prayer

Dear Family and Friends,

Well this was an amazing week! A lot of great things happened! To start the week right I went on splits with my MTC companion because he is in my district. Its crazy how far we have come! It was cool to see how we have both changed so much. But some great things came of this experience.

We were both quite thirsty and while searching for water in a park we ran into a man who we just jumped right into a gospel discussion. We found out quickly that he was out pondering because he had really taken his life downhill through bad decision making. He had many drugs problems in the past and after going through the prison system of Hong Kong he is now in a probationary state, but will need to check into a prison soon for his last 2 months then he is done. So he had some time to visit friends and we had caught him on his ponder through the park. He was so prepared and he sincerely wanted to change. One thing he said was he has not been in contact with his family for many years because he has no means to contact them and has no idea where any one of them are. Well after explaining more about God and prayer we invited him to pray. He was a little hesitant not knowing what to pray about so we invited him to pray and ask God for him to reunite him with his family. He did and it was a powerful faith filled prayer of a son longing for love. He said he felt amazing and so did we.

Well that was my role in his conversion to the Gospel, because I headed back to my own area. But the next day when they saw him again (because he was heading back to prison soon they wanted to teach him as much as possible) He was overcome with Joy! That morning his mother had come knocking on his door and it was an amazing reunion. He then took the missionaries to his house to meet his mom. He expressed answers to other prayers about the gospel. He had 4 more lessons and a chance to come to church before he heads out today. He has gained for himself a burning testimony of the work. He will be baptized after he is out. Also the missionaries can visit him while he is in prison so they can keep teaching him.

Another great thing is I was able to see my recent convert who dropped off the map. He is doing great, however he has a tough family life but he will be back into activity shortly. It just breaks my heart to see someone so changed and blessed turn-away from their perfectly loving Father. But he is back.

Another great thing was during the second set of splits that went down this week I had a chance to go with Elder Beal. He is a district leader and Elder Townsend the zone leader went with Elder Nestman the other district leader so we had all the district leaders with 1 zone leader in the appartment. So we took advantage of the situation and had a meeting. What came out of this meeting was pretty awesome. We have all gained new motivation and resolutions. We were able to establish some new plans and actions to increase accountability for goals and inspire and motivate our districts. We all realized we need to be the examples of the change we want to see so we are turning up the heat. New Territories will be number 1.

Taking that motivation I took it to the ward. The sisters wanted to meet and talk about receiving more referrals and with the inpsiration from the district leader meeting we came up with a great plan to jump start the ward. We planned a Teaching No Greater Call seminar for the ward using the same module president has set up for our district meetings, we cleared it with the bishop and then took the idea before the ward council and it was accepted. So we will have great things coming! They are working on some translations and hopefully we can do this in the next two weeks.

Amazing things are coming!

Love you all! God really does live.

Elder Jared Cordon

Back to the Basics

Dear Family and Friends,

The very fact that I am writing this on a Thursday is evidence of the busy week it has been. Busy as a missionary is a wonderful thing though! I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

The absolute highlight of the past week and a half was the brief mission tour of Elder Golden who is a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. He is from South Africa and so we all enjoyed not only his spiritual knowledge but hearing his accent as well. He arrived this past Sunday and left on Tuesday so his stay wasn’t a very long one. However, he definitely made the most of his time here. On Sunday we had a meeting for the mission leadership and then on Monday and Tuesday we had ones with the varying zones. I had the blessing of attending all three of them and learning so very much. While there were a few constants each meeting provided a unique dose of spiritual nourishment. By the time it was all over the feeling I had was a combination of spiritual high and physical exhaustion, considering the fact that the most of my mission can be described that way, the contrast is found in the fact that this is one of notable intensity. I believe my favorite part of the whole thing was his definition of faith.

Faith is a very basic principle in that it is foundational to many things, but it is also fairly profound and, as a result, very misunderstood by the Christian and non-Christian worlds. For many faith is simply a declaration of belief, but for those who understand the gospel of Jesus Christ it is something far greater.

Faith is an action word, but even more than that Faith=Personal Righteousness. When I had that explained to me it brought a lot of clarity to the subject. If the world could understand that, then it would eliminate a lot of confusion behind the verses in the bible that seem to say that man is saved by faith alone. This definition of faith helps us understand that it is not merely good enough to believe in Jesus Christ, we must believe him too. We must believe that if we do what he asked, we model our lives after him, and try our best to be our best, then he would make up he rest. We must believe and have a hope that if we sacrificed everything to be good person and to not compromise our standards when pressured by worldly temptations–even if it very difficult to do and we are put in very rough situations as a result– that we will not only have a lasting sense of peace and purpose in this life, but we will also be raised up to live with God and have eternal happiness in the life to come. Not only must we believe all these things we must do them too if we want to have true faith,

If any of what I said makes sense, then I hope it would also help you understand why then the restoration of the gospel was so important. Frequently, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are commended for our high standards and example of personal righteousness. This is not just a coincidence. The problem the world faced before Joseph Smith saw his incredible vision was that at the time nobody had enough commandments revealed to them by God that could produce enough faith in the life of any person that would be great enough to bring about their eternal salvation. Along with that, nobody had the gift of the Holy Ghost which not only reveals those commandments to us, but also helps to give us to the strength to live them. The fact that the church seems to have so many rules is in all actuality evidence of the truthfulness of this work, on top of that is the fact that the members of the church actually live them. Seeing as how faith is the first principle of the gospel if that is incomplete then it is no wonder why ever part of the gospel after that is very much misunderstood.

After hearing all of that in a much greater length of time and in a far more expounded way I had an even greater determination to live by every word of God. For if faith produces miracles, that means that personal righteousness is a pre-requisite to the blessings of heaven. Something that as a missionary and frankly as people in general we cannot live with out if we want to be truly happy.

I love y’all!

Elder Joshua Cordon