Lead Thou Me On; Reflections On Returning Home

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Dear Family and Friends,

So reality can hit you pretty hard when you get home, setting aside the fact that you have to adjust to a whole new culture and way of living, there is the pressures of finding a job, going to school, and getting married, all of which are grand feats in and of themselves. Coming home has been the greatest adventure of my life so far. In just a few short weeks (which have felt like a few short months) I have made great friends, tried new things, shared the gospel, made tons of money, traversed hundreds of miles, and so much more. Truly I believe more than ever before that God never intended for the mission to be the climax of my life, seeing has how the fullness of joy has only continued to grow since then. However; I tend to worry, my biggest worry has been whether or not I am doing what the Lord wants me to do. With so many big choices immediately placed before me, I have found it to be very difficult to feel completely confident in my decisions. Little did I know that I was about to get a bigger lesson on faith and trust in God than I ever had. Not even a day after I got home, opportunities fell into my lap, and doors started opening for me which I didn’t even know were there. These were grand testaments to me that God really does provide; nevertheless, I still found myself worrying that perhaps I wouldn’t know what to do, that I wouldn’t have enough money for school, and that I hadn’t picked the right major. Clearly, all of these feelings and thoughts are not examples of exercising faith. I definitely wanted more faith, but just wasn’t sure how to get it. Constantly the spirit and loved ones around me have encouraged me that everything would work out for the best, but I couldn’t bring myself to embrace the idea. I have definitely had my moments of great faith since I have been back and I honestly did and do believe that God will provide for me, but I have had my moments of doubt and anxiety. Suddenly, I got spiritual reinforcement. It came the way that I have told people it would come to them for almost two years, it came in a simple thought and feeling; I got my revelation by listening to a hymn during Sacrament Meeting this last Sunday. Hymns have such a powerful way of reaching the heart in a way that words cannot. It seems to heighten your spiritual sensitivity allowing the holy ghost to converse with you more clearly and specifically. In a way that it has never done before Hymn #97, Lead Thou Me On, struck my heart and filled me with a supernal sense of hope. I stared at the words as I read them, almost incapable of speaking as I realized the words sung in that song were directly meant for me at that moment. While the whole song was powerful these parts struck me the most. “Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see the distant scene–one step enough for me. I was not ever thus, nor pray’d that thou shouldst lead me on. I love to choose and see my path; but now, lead thou me on!… So long thy pow’r hath blest me, sure it still will lead me on O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till the night is gone.” As those words resonated within me I was overcome with emotion. Almost to the point of tears I thanked God for the blessing of his spirit and especially His Son, Jesus Christ. God had provided all things necessary for me to be happy and to succeed and he would continue to do so. As I listened to this song it’s message was written on “the fleshy tables of my heart”, and that truthfulness of its message was confirmed by the power of The Holy Ghost, sealing that testimony forever in my soul. Since that powerful moment, what I learned has only been confirmed as I have seen the hand of God working wonders in my life. I am still far from perfect and I still have much more to learn about faith, but I know for me, the newly returned missionary, daily relying on the spirit will, out of necessity, continue to be apart of my life. Coming home hasn’t been the easiest thing I have ever done, but I have enjoyed it and it has made me a better person; even better than who I was a little more than three weeks ago when I was still a missionary in Florida. I am know that my Heavenly Father loves me and that because of Jesus Christ, if I remain faithful, all things will work out for my gain and I will gain all that the father has in store for me. Until that time, “I do not ask to see the distant scene–one step [is] enough for me.”

I love y’all so very much!

Brother Joshua Cordon

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How Great Shall Be Your Joy D&C 18:15-16

Dear Family and Friends,

As with all transfers, there are missionaries entering into the mission field and some headed home leaving two years behind them and taking a lifetime of experience with them. It gives you a chance to ponder and reflect as you see contrasting differences between the two groups.

Considering where I was at a little over a year ago when I stepped off the plane into the mission field in comparison to now, it caused me to throw my arm over the shoulder of some of those elders that looked more afraid then the others and tell them that there is no reason to be worried or afraid because you will soon come to find that if you put your trust in God, then despite anything that happens all things will work out for the best. For much of my mission so far I feel as if I have been carried on the wings of  angels from one challenge to the next. I felt the love of God so profoundly in my life that any fear that was there was burned out like the refiners fire. We told those missionaries that if they were obedient and followed the inspired counsel of their leaders than they would also have no reason to fear, and that god would make them into great leaders and teachers. It helped a little, but to be honest, a testimony of something like that will only come from living it.

At the transfer meeting the departing missionaries shared their final testimonies. It is interesting to see what each one has made of themselves over the past two years. Having worked around most of the elders, I knew which was ones were more diligent and which ones were not. Which ones lost themselves in the work and which ones merely did their time. The difference in the spirit that was brought by their testimonies was profound. While the words and the sentiments they shared were similar I could tell that the power of one was far greater than the power of another. I made a commitment right than and there that I would never quite improving and growing. That I would be fully engaged in the Lord’s work not only for every moment of my entire mission, but for the rest of my life. While it is true that the nature of the work changes quite dramatically when I eventually return home, but the spirit should not change. I am excited to see what I can make of myself for this second year of my mission. In the mean time I will just take it one week at a time.

I do want to take a quick moment and share how the lord has blessed us this week. We have been blessed beyond imagination this past week! Every time the knuckle hits the wood a miracles presents itself. We were able to find so many prepared people this past week! It seemed as if every single day we had someone come out of the wood work for us to teach. The lord is taking good care of us. One continuous miracle would be Tara. Teaching her is like teaching Jim if you remember me mentioning him. She is just beyond ready. We taught her the word of wisdom this week and she told us that she already knew it was a commandment and that she knew we were going to teach it to her, so she started cutting down the coffee already! Need I say more?! She makes it so easy. She came to church again and the whole ward just wrapped their arms around her–Literally and socially. She also is very much committed to her date of July 13th.

In other great news, Lilly finally entered the waters of baptism this past Wednesday. While it was hard that I was unable to attend, it brings joy to my heart that someone i had worked with for so long has finally made that step. To add even more to my joy, I was able to witness Alfred get baptized on Sunday. It was one of the best baptismal services i have ever attended because the love in the room was tangible. With being able to see so many people I have come to love and also being able to have Tara come and watch it as well, I thought I was going to lose strength like Ammon in Alma 26 from an overabundance of joy! I have a testimony that true and lasting joy only comes through living the gospel and being engaged in this work! I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen

I love y’all!

Elder Joshua Cordon

P.S. 15 And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! 
16 And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me! (D&C 18)