Children of God

Dear family and friends,

This week was an incredible week! The best part about it though was without a doubt the weekend. This is considering the fact that we had a powerful mission changing meeting on Monday, and that I got to go to the temple in Orlando on Thursday.

The best part about this week was that on Saturday at 5:00 Aniya, Cheyenne, and Marquez were all baptized. It was one of the sweetest baptismal services I have ever been part of. The turnout was great and the spirit was strong. I would like to just take a minute to tell all of you about the three beautiful children we entered into a covenant with their Heavenly Father.

Aniya:
I have been working with Aniya since the first week I got to the area. We never ceased to be amazed at how impressive she was. She was only 11 years old when we first started teaching her and she had a stronger and more doctrinal sound grasp on the gospel than many adults. She carried herself with eloquence and she stood up for what she knew was right among her peers. When she entered young women’s her talents were only magnified. Just a few weeks ago she taught the Family Home Evening lesson to a group of adult converts and she lead the conversation with grace and everyone felt edified.

Cheyenne:
While we were working to the lay the ground work for Aniya so that she could get baptized suddenly after New Years Cheyenne came into the picture. Cheyenne is Aniya’s younger sister. We started the lessons over with her to help her have a good foundation of the gospel and of other restored truths. After a few weeks of working with her we finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel and looked like their dad who was baptized 4 years ago last Friday was able to finally get things lined up for them to be baptized as well. Cheyenne in just a few short weeks has shown immense growth and an increasing level of maturity. By the time the baptism came around she was bearing a strong testimony in the Book of Mormon and in the truthfulness of the church.

Marquez:
We venturing into new neighborhoods about 5 months ago when we saw a dirt road that was off to the side that lead to some distant homes. There are not very many dirt roads in our area so it peaked our curiosity so we went walking down to find some people to share the gospel with. The first house we came to was the home of Ms. Betty, Marquez’ grandmother. We would visit Ms. Betty from time to time and about a month after we started visiting her we became acquainted with Marquez when we helped him get the Christmas lights out of storage for his grandmother. After talking for a bit I told Marquez about scouts on Wednesday night and asked if he would like to come and join the group. He seemed really excited by the idea. He came the next Wednesday and well the rest is history.

This final weekend was a battle to get everyone ready for the baptism, but miracles abounded and right prevailed. Aniya and Cheyenne’s father was able to baptize them, and one of Marquez’ young men’s leaders who has been a great example to him was able to baptize him. While they were all changing, Elder Jorgensen and I were able to stand in front of a large crowd of members and non members and the teach the message of the restoration while wearing our baptismal whites with the font as the backdrop. It was very powerful and probably the best setting I have been afforded to preach the gospel. I never thought that I would be able to say that I had done that. As we taught I felt the spirit speak very powerfully to my the heart that this message is indeed true and I hope that a similar witness was born to the those who sat in the congregation.

On Sunday in order for Aniya and Cheyenne to be confirmed by their farther he was sustained by the congregation to be an elder and then I conferred upon him the Melchizedek priesthood, and ordained him to be an elder. Right after that he stood up and confirmed his daughters by that priesthood. Then I was blessed to confirm Marquez. It was an amazing weekend! I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father that I have been able to be part of the 3 incredible lives. I also found out that I am getting transferred to another part of Jacksonville this week Wednesday so it was a wonderful finished to an life changing experience while I served in the mandarin 2nd ward. I am excited for the amazing adventure ahead.

Thank you for all the love and support you have shown me and I hope that you know how much I love and appreciate every single one of you.

I love y’all!

Elder Joshua Cordon

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#CUTENESS

Dear Family and Friends,

We have a wonderful girl getting baptized this weekend; she is turning 12 the day before her baptism and, she says that it is going to be the best birthday ever. YAY! The Holy Spirit can teach to any age and any education. He doesnt teach our minds He teaches our souls and that is where the real learning happens. That is why it is so important to have the spirit with us when we teach cause He is the one that is doing the teaching that they need to receive a conformation of the truth of the message.

We also have another baptism next week. The work is moving forward and it is awesome to see all the miracles. I have come to learn that the difference in having miracles every day and not is all in the details. God is constantly reaching His hand into our life and if we arent trying to see it we wont. The great thing is the more we see them the more that happen. Attitude of Gratitude

I love you all so much thank you for your support and prayers.

Elder Steven Cordon

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Puppies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Prayer of Faith!

Dear Family and Friends,

Wow!!! Wow!!! Missions are so amazing!! There is literally not a week that goes by where something amazing doesn’t happen.

Amazing things that happened this week:

Mission Conference

The first year of my mission I had 2 mission conferences. However, we have had 1 every month for the past 4 months. Along with 1 other 2 months before that. So, it has been awesome!!

This time we were visited by Elder Zwick of the first quorum of the Seventy, who I will say is one of the manliest men I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, and Br. Hemingway who is assigned to the Missionary Department of the Church and is the Director of the proselyting division for the whole world. When I shook Br. Hemingway’s hand he said with a pleasant surprise, “Oh, I remember you. How are you doing?” I had met him a little over a year ago when he came to introduce iPads to the mission. He was the Mission President in Rochester, New York when we first moved there, and knows the Tuttle Family fairly well.

President and Sister Craig where with these fine brethren for several days in Salt Lake City at a special Mission Presidents conference that included the 28 Facebook/iPad missions. We were the first mission to receive training and instruction from what was discussed at that conference. Basically, we are entering the next major stage of testing for iPads and Facebook proselyting. The biggest changes come in the fact that we will receive brand-new iPads next week and there will be a Facebook restart that will result in us going offline of Facebook for a while. We also received training materials produced by the church that are finally standardizing the training of iPads and Facebook, something that we have been begging for for a while. On top of all of that we received powerful trainings on Personal Conversion, and Will-Power. All of it was very inspiring. But anyway, enough of that, it is probably not nearly as exciting for you as it is for me. And if it is exciting for you, then think how excited I am!

Prayers of faith=Miracles

There were several instances this past week that we incredible miracles as a result of a prayer, but there is one that I would like to highlight. On Saturday, it was beautiful weather but it was slower day for some reason. We tried everything I had ever been taught to do and nothing worked. Luckily we had a dinner appointment with two of my favorite people that I had to look forward to. One was a less active and that was the first lesson we were able to teach all day. After dinner we tried to knock some doors, hoping to get some success from those efforts, but after striking out we stopped at the nearby gas station for a bathroom break. While I was waiting for my companion, I saw these two kids at a table. After striking up conversation we were able to teach him the whole first lesson and give him a book of mormon which he agreed to read. Things started to look up.

Still we had about an hour left of the night. Elder Jorgensen suggested that we go and see a man who had not been home for our appointment earlier that day. Considering how far away he was it seemed like an illogical decision, but we both agreed that it felt right so away we went. I remember thinking about the nice peace I had felt on the way there that was a nice contrast to the frustration and anxiety I had experienced earlier. Once we got there we knocked on his doors with hearts full of faith only to find that nobody was home.

I knew at that moment that we were there for someone else. Unsure of what to do next and how to find this person that we were meant to find we knelt down in the grass in front of an apartment building. It was 8:35 roughly we knew that time was not a luxury. After Elder Jorgensen offered a mighty prayer we started knocking. Nobody answered the first two doors and as we turned to head to the stairs we saw a woman, her daughter, and their two dogs walking in the parking lot. We used the dogs as an ice breaker before bringing up the gospel. Before we could even get to it though, she asked us what we were there doing. We told her who we were and asked if we could share our message with her. At this point her little girl Aryah while tugging on her jacket said “Mommy, can we hear their message.” It wasn’t very difficult for her to say yes after that.

We proceeded to teach them the whole first lesson and they loved every bit of it. She told us that they were looking for a church that would prick their heart with the spirit. She even said that because they had just moved there that they were still looking for a church. At the moment they are attending a Brazillian church and because the service is in Portuguese they have to wear headsets with the translation. She started to express concern about the idea of having a prophet today but after we showed her a video of Thomas S. Monson, she said that she knew that he was a prophet the moment she saw him. All of us departed that night feeling very grateful that the lord had caused our paths to cross that night. Jackie and Aryah probably don’t even realize how incredible the journey they just started really is.

I want to bare my solemn witness that God hears every single one of our prayers. I know that he loves us and that he will provide us with miracles as we rely with faith.

I love y’all!

Elder Joshua Cordon

Red Rockets!!

Dear Family and Friends,

Chinese New Year was a wonderful, wonderful experience here in Aberdeen. Last Year I remember the work really slowing down when the New Year rolled around but this year it was different, it did not seem to have any effect whatsoever other than the positive ones. We decided since everyone would be in their homes why not test our luck with knocking doors! What came of it was the greatest success I have ever seen from knocking doors. We ended up teaching a total of 3 lessons between 3 visits heading over there. 2 were to Chinese people one was to a Philipina who helped us understand that her employer (who was not home any time we visited) had actually been taught previously by missionaries and has a book of mormon. The two Chinese people were from the same family. From two different visits to the same house. We also met another man and his daughter which after talking to them for awhile earned their trust and he wants to bring his daughter to english class, we also ran into him later on the bus and he was happy to see us again. I have always love knocking doors because it takes me back to my summer sales experience before my mission. But the Chinese new year seemed to definitely work in favor of our plan because most people were home.

We also had the chance to meet with the Kwok family before they headed to mainland to visit some family and we focused on the importance of daily scripture study. We have previously committed them this was mainly just a follow up lesson. She has a really big desire to accept the gospel and we are trying our best to help her in teaching her kids, we will continue teaching the whole family of course but we have been really trying to help her understand that she needs to lead the way for her kids. It was funny she knew we had suitcases and she did not have enough for her and her kids so begged us to use ours, so right now I have one suitcase in mainland china!

A member gave us some radish cakes to give out to less actives and investigators and it was a huge help! It gave us a simple excuse to be able to meet up with a few. For example one is a recent Convert Helen who has not come to church in 3 weeks it was an easy way to meet with her to do our part, but mainly the ward has been very good about staying up on all the recent converts right now. It give me great peace if we were to help someone be baptized that the ward would take care of them.

The ward is doing great we are still waiting on the ward mission plan, but they have got some other plans they are executing. They are starting a rotating family home evening once a month on Sunday night at the church. Several families will plan and organize it and we can simple bring investigators so we will do our best to support their plans. Its something they came up with to create unity in the ward and provide ways to consistently have something we can bring investigators too.

RED POCKETS!! During chinese New year they have a tradition that those who are married will give red pockets to those who are not. Mainly just family and friends. Its basically a red envelope with some cool designs on it and it has money inside! Chinese people love money! yesterday I got quite a bit. I got $380.00 in red pocket money!

I love you all and Happy Lunar New Year!

The year of the Lamb or Goat (I kinda like the idea of lamb better because of its significance to Christ)

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Keep on Running

Dear Family and Friends,

This past week was a wild one for sure. We had zone conferences, which considering the fact that they were 9 hour meetings it made for a long but a very fun week! The meetings we jam packed with great training’s on maintaining a balanced work, the atonement, public speaking skills, and then the training that we gave on finding people to teach. It is great to see all the missionaries that I was able to see all the missionaries that I have served around. This week we had a couple of miracles, but one in particular I would like to mention.

We were on our way to a dinner appointment and when we walked up to the apartment that the members lived in, it looked like the lights were off so, I doubted myself and thought that I must be at the wrong
building. So, we started running so we wouldn’t be late to one of the other buildings. We ran through one cluster of buildings and I still didn’t feel like that was it, so we ran over to another cluster of
buildings and as we got there we saw a dog running in the side walk, so we stopped so it wouldn’t follow us. We made some small talk with the owner until she grabbed her dog and then we were about the run off
to get to our dinner, but then I felt that I should at least see if she would be interested in hearing our message.

So I stopped and said, “We share a wonderful message about our Savior Jesus Christ that has blessed our own lives, could we share that with you?” Surprisingly she replied with, “Ya sure come on over and share
it with me.” 20 minutes later we had taught her about he Book of Mormon and learned that she is about to graduate law school, and she is engaged and plans to be married after she graduates. Even though she is active in the Methodist church she was excited to learn more and said we could come back. She is very elect.

Seeing as how we were then very late to our appointment we checked the address on the church app and realized that it was the first place we had gone to. Thank goodness we kept running though.

I love y’all!

Elder Joshua Cordon

The Book of Mormon Musical: From Bad to Beneficial

Dear Family and Friends,

I wish I had the ability to better express myself to somehow paint for you exact picture of what I experienced this week. I was blessed with the unique opportunity of going to downtown Jacksonville and proselyting amongst the crowds of people who were going to see the Book of Mormon Musical. (Local Newspaper Article)

Here is a quick rundown of the musical for those who do not know about it. It is not sponsored or supported by the church. It is from the same people who created South Park. It is the same tasteless and vulgar humor that they are used to creating only worse because it is a live performance rather than prime-time television. It is about two Mormon missionaries who go to Uganda on their missions. It focuses its mockery towards the church, but it really mocks all of organized religion in general.

Now, we understand that their goal is to make money and they are doing a great job of that. So, to get offended and protest the show would be a down-right foolish and childish response. Seeing as how the true church of Jesus Christ is neither foolish or childish, we have taken something negative and turned it into something very positive. The following is the church’s official statement in response to the musical.

“The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.” (Link to official statement)

Following in suite with the nature of their response we gathered together a group of 24 missionaries who alternated with each performance going in two groups of 12 to take advantage of this great opportunity. Before the shows we handed it thousands of cards which gave information for a church tour and how to download a copy of the Book of Mormon. After the show we would hand out copies of the Book of Mormon to anyone who was willing to read it. It was so much fun!! We were part of the group that covered opening night.

As we gathered at the rendezvous point there was excitement building in the air as we loaded our bags and our pockets with as many books and cards as we could carry. I drove the van that took us all downtown. No-one had any idea as to how the crowds would react to our presents or to how everything would turn out, but we were full of faith and excitement and we were ready to conquer. We had a pep-talk/ prayer after we parked and then we were off.

Elder Jorgensen and I were looking for the spot that would experience the most traffic, it wasn’t necessarily ideal for teaching or answering questions, but it was perfect for being in front of making an impression upon as many people as we could in the short amount of time that we were afforded. Our spot of choice was right next to the sidewalk that lead to the main entrance of the theatre. Thousands of people had to have walked past that point during the night. As people approached us we would great them by saying “HELLO!, how are you doing today?” With as much enthusiasm as we could muster, and trust me, Elder Jorgensen has more enthusiasm for missionary work than you can imagine. After they responded we would say, “We are the real Mormon Missionaries” Which solicited either a response of a pleasant surprise and some laughter, or… well the opposite, and enjoyable response. Luckily for us most of the people were very nice and happy to see that we were not there to protest. We would disperse our cards to the group and wait for the next wave.

After the show we tried to hold as many copies of the Book of Mormon as we could in our hands keeping another case close by. Before the show the crowds were a steady flow for about 45 minutes as they came for the performance, but afterwards just as many if not more people would all come through in about 10 minutes. We couldn’t hand out books fast enough. I felt like one of the newsies standing in the middle of the chaos holding a books and shouting as people walked by, “Will you read the Book of Mormon?… Here you go… Have a blessed day!… Will you read the Book of Mormon?… oh, okay then, well God bless ya… Will you read the Book of Mormon?” Never did I ever think that I would get to a point on my mission that people were flocking to me to get a copy of the Book of Mormon to read, so much so that I ran out of books every single time.

I hope that that somewhat adequately paints for you a picture of what I experienced those few nights. I could share plenty more details, but I my letter is plenty long enough!

I just want to bear my testimony to y’all that if you have the right attitude that any situation can be turned from bad to beneficial. Attitude is everything!

Have a great week! I Love y’all!!

Elder Joshua Cordon

Meet the Mormons!

Dear Family & Friends,

We watched Meet the Mormons this last week. President surprised us by playing it after ending zone conference a little early. He is so powerful and it was so uplifting. He talked so much about looking towards the mark. Meaning we don’t settle for less. But We will have here shortly Elder Ballard, President Rasband, Bishop Gary Steven, Elder Gong, Elder Wong, and Elder Funk. Its such a blessing to be in a spot that has such a presence of these men.

We had a great week! These consecrated finds have always produced results and I have been realizing why: its because we don’t looking at those times as what we do when we have nothing else better to do but as a missionary focused activity. So we will keep those going because it helps with time management but we will make sure to have the same mentality towards any other finding opportunities. I believe the lord really is blessing us with these opportunities. Its just hard because these people are not seeming to have the same mentality the lord and us have for them. Another thing about finding is we had a ward find yesterday and it went really well, for some they gained a little more appreciation for the work, for others they got to see the joy of their labors. Our ward leader is great and has an awesome mentality because of his efforts he helped us find a man about his same age who has got some good interest and already has a fellowshipper.

This last while visiting a family in the ward it was great to hear about their conversion stories, and it was also interesting to hear them talk about the missionaries that baptized them because they loved them so much. But they also told me with much disappointment that he was less active. I asked how they knew that and they said they didn’t know for sure but they assumed because they see his Facebook and they said he doesn’t look or sound like he used to. It was a good reminder for me that we can’t go back to who we were, we need to become something new and keep going!

But also in that visit we kinda did some weekly planning with them and they were brainstorming all kinds of ideas how we could get better, then it was funny as the brother talked about how he has seen us on the streets a lot and how our work is really hard and it would be way easier if members just provided friends. I thought that’s a really good Idea. But they brought up some great ideas one being scouting. I guess this sister who has at least 3 families who would love to do scouting but Wanchai is too inconvenient. Apparently there is enough between out two wards that we could do our own down here and it would be a great missionary opportunity so we sent that to our bishop for some consideration.

We also had exchanges, I went to west point this last week and a cool miracle that happened while I was with Elder Gillis is that right as English was wrapping up a kid walked in looking for English helped so we talked to him for a bit then ended up teaching a lesson but just as he walked in so did a member randomly asking to join us. So basically a perfect lesson just fell right into our hands. He said he would go to church but I am not sure how that all ended up.

Great stuff is happening because we got the Kwok family to come to all 3 hours of church this week for the first time and they all seemed to enjoy it. Except the son he is having a harder time so we are working with the young men’s leader for a way to really bring him in. Its his first time at young men’s so we just need him to go more so he can start having some friends.

Elder Jared Cordon

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Selfies with the Selfy Stick!

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Selfies with the Selfy Stick!