A Rebirth For Some and A New Decade For Me

Dear Family and Friends,

Well two more wonderful children of God have entered the waters of baptism!! Kevin and Lori have come a long way since I first met Kevin in a parking lot back in December. I am excited to see what they can make of this wonderful opportunity. A big shout out to Bishop and his wife who were so instrumental in getting us to this point. They opened to their home up to lessons several months ago and that definitely solidified the testimony kevin and lori already had. It is just amazing to see the change that comes into people lives as they begin to accept the gospel!

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Thank you to all who helped to make my birthday last week a special one! I was definitely taken care of here in the Hendricks Avenue ward. At the end of the night on Thursday my companion had organized a small surprise gathering of cake and gifts. Some of my favorite people in the ward were there so it was definitely a wonderful moment. Sis. Laskis also fed us that night and gave me another cake haha. There are so many wonderful people here. The Lord definitely gave me a great week seeing as how we had one of my most productive weeks yet! (Matthew 7:11)

All in all it was an incredible week. We started teaching this wonderful young man Alfred again! I taught him a few months back with Elder Hamilton, but he was lacking that real intent so we parted ways. A couple Sundays ago, his Sister (who is an active member) told us that her mom wanted us to go see Alfred again. We went by the next day. As we sat down with him he just got quite and said, “Elders, I am going to be honest with you…” as he paused I braced for what I thought was bad news, he then continued saying, “I really want to change my life now and I just want you teach me whatever I have to do to have what you have.” Talk about music to a missionaries hears! With maybe a little too much enthusiasm we proceeded to unfold before him the truths of the gospel. We have met with him every single day since and each time he has read from the Book of Mormon and taken notes on what he read. Can I just mention how great god is! His power to soften the hearts of people in their time is amazing!

Inspired by my amazing sister Shalese, Elder Frazier and I are going to take a picture everyday of something we are grateful for/makes us happy! It should be good. Perhaps I might share a few with you next week. If you are lucky haha.

Love, Y’all!

Elder Joshua Cordon

Teaching English (in Florida)

Dear Family and Friends,

So I don’t have much time today, but I do want to say another little bit about the Albanian couple I mentioned a few weeks ago. So we thought they had dropped us because they didn’t show up to that appointment two Saturday’s ago. We tried to visit them the next day, but they didn’t answer the door. I was bummed, but not worried. The next Friday I was looking at the European edition of the Restoration DVD and I noticed that it was in….. Albanian! I am sure to nobody else that means something. However to me it was another sign. So I called an audible and we drove straight there. Despite the fact that it was after 8:00 and Osmond was in his pajamas, they happily let us in. I showed them the DVD and some how set up an appointment with them for Saturday for another lesson to teach English. We meet them at their place and they followed us to the church. We started off by watching the DVD with them and then taught them the alphabet, numbers and time. It was sweet! We will have them fluent in no time!
Anyhow I love y’all!

Elder Joshua Cordon

New Year, New Mind -Joshua

Dear Family and Friends,

I have this problem of not remembering anything that happened the week before when it comes to doing emailing. I guess that is why I keep a journal right? Yet somehow I still remember peoples names that I met a month ago. I think God is trying to show me where my priorities should be; not in the past, but in the present. I might share a little of the past with you though.

Church was great! It was packed! I have never seen it that full. People were actually looking for a seat. Luckily our investigators were there early 🙂 The Conseillants came! It was so awesome to see them there 🙂 Gabon had that big grin strapped on his face that he is always wearing when we come over to his apartment, and Emmanuela was paying attention to everything single detail, not to prove it wrong, but because she liked it so much! She was saying afterwards that she really loved relief society, and that they were actually good singers in there haha a nice contrast to sacrament meeting. Also Bruce came to church too! He really liked it as well. He is a character though. He has come two weeks in a row and we still haven’t taught him anything, and he wants to keep coming, but he doesn’t want to schedule any lessons… Ya I don’t understand either.

Also on Sunday we were contacting a referral from the sister missionaries and as we were walking up Rodney (the referral) was outside drinking and bbq’n and his boys were playing basketball. It was a bit weird at first, but we were determined to connect with him. Elder Hamilton then asked if he could play ball with kids ( by the way… he is really good), and so he challenged them to a game two on one. As they were playing Rodney who was just loving all of this said that we should have made a bet with them as he laughs at the fact that his boys are getting beat by one person in a shirt and tie. Then I shouted that if Elder Hamilton won then they had to come to church. After the game was over Rodney was like, “we will see you Sunday.” Haha It was really funny. We also connected really well with his family because of that. His boys want to come and be on the church ball team, which is good because our ward lost last Saturday.

So anyway, this past week I decided to make sure that I was making daily improvement toward my ultimate goal of returning with our Father in Heaven, so I decided to map out daily things that I could be doing to achieve that ultimate goal. It was a really eye opening experience and it gave me a lot of areas that I can improve upon, which was great because now I feel that I have a lot more focus than I did for the rest of my mission! Wohoo! IMPROVEMENT!

Anyway,

Love ya’ll!

Elder Joshua Cordon

Who knew missionary work could be so INTENSE!!!

Dear Family and Friends,

Well this week was truly a terrific week! So many great things happened and I have been blessed beyond measure. Anyone who thinks of their mission as a sacrifice doesn’t understand the bigger picture. It seems like there is this attitude of referring to missions as a sacrifice, but I never could even from the very first hour of my mission. Looking back I can’t help but just laugh at how I thought I knew the blessings that would come from a mission then, but oh how my mind as been opened to the beauties and blessings of the Gospel. I can’t wait to laugh at myself again 6 months from now. OH HOW BLESSED I AM TO BE HERE! I wish all of you could be experiencing this as well. On that same note, thank you Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, and my home ward, along with anyone else I have forgotten, for making sacrifices in your lives so that I could have this experience.

The experience I want to highlight this week was a lesson with the wonderful Lily. She is the 17 year old sister of Hugo, a recently reactivated member. My wonderful companion found them street contacting back in September and has been teaching them ever since. On Friday we felt that it was finally time to get her to commit to a baptismal date. They have tried in the past, but she always said that she wasn’t ready. Our last few lessons have all been really powerful and we just knew that the time was now. We also knew that it wasn’t going to be easy, and that without the spirit it would be impossible.

We started out with some ice-breaking gentile conversation to lighten things up. After a few minutes we got to business by inviting the spirit in with a wonderful prayer. After the prayer we began with our plan of reading Alma 32. When I say that that scripture was perfect, I am serious! There truly could not have been a better chapter of scripture that one at that time for her. It addressed all of her concerns and we knew as we read that the spirit was confirming with her the truthfulness of those words. After reading I transitioned the lesson to our main objective of committing her to a baptismal date by giving a short shpeal (not a word, i know) on the importance of goal setting. She saw right through us and new exactly what we were trying to do. Nevertheless, we pressed on as we talked about how we know that she is ready and that it is within her grasp. I knew that it wasn’t too well received so I called an audible and told her that what we are going to do is to have everybody close there eyes for thirty seconds and just feel the spirit in the room, and then I would read to her the baptismal covenant in Mosiah 18. As we sat in reverent silence the spirit thickened to the point of tangibility. In a hushed voice I read the covenant and then looked her in the eyes and said, “I know you love God, so why not show it to him by committing your life to him.” Elder Hamilton followed up by bearing a powerful testimony and then he introduced the date of Jan. 26 as the day for her to be baptized. She seemed still hesitant and then he said, why don’t you pray about it? She responded with “okay, I’ll do that,” thinking that she was off the hook. Then Elder Hamilton said you should pray about it right now. She surprisingly agreed and said that we should join her. So we all knelt in a circle as she gave a humble and sincere prayer. She even said in that prayer that she knew that what the Elders have taught is true. After the prayer we sat for a few seconds to let her think about the answer she received. After about 5 seconds she was like, alright I know that is what I need to do. OH MAN!! I so excited, but in an attempt to keep the spirit by not shrieking with joy, I just sat there with a grin on my face simply nodding my head in agreement. IT WAS SO GREAT!!

Anyway, I hope ya’ll enjoy the story and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

I love ya’ll!

Elder Joshua Cordon

Another week into the rest of my life.

Dear Family and Friends,

So this past week was a good one. It definitely kept me on my toes as each day presented some unique experience. I would have it no other way though!

I did my first exchange as a zone leader with a district leader, and though I am sure it should have been the other way I learned a bunch on that exchange. Elder Feliz is such a terrific missionary. He has been out a lot longer, and is very humble. He is a convert from the Dominican Republic, and he one of best missionaries in the mission. One thing that I learned from him that I really appreciated was his selflessness. He is a YSA missionary which means he works with all the young single adults in his area. Nevertheless, during our exchange he still talked to everybody regardless of their age or relationship status. We ended up finding a family and a single guy that were both very interested, but he immediately handed them over to the missionaries who are supposed to teach them without even flinching. (I say that example because it is proving to be the exception rather than the rule) All in all it was a great experience for me.

Another wonderful experience was that we found this awesome Haitian family. They are both very intelligent and they have an incredible desire to learn. We had our return appointment lesson with them last night and it went really well. They had a bunch of questions from when they read the Book of Mormon, and they are excited to learn a lot more about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Their names are Gabon and Emmanuela. I am looking forward to our lesson with them tomorrow.

All in all it was a great week. I feel like I have so many wonderful experiences everyday that I would never be able to talk about all of them, but when it comes to writing this email it seems that a lot of it escapes me haha so well that is it for this week!

I love ya’ll! Merry Christmas!

Elder Joshua Cordon

GET OUT OF MY STATE!! haha I say that out of love :-)

Dear Family and Friends,

First of all I love you all, especially my family. So when I say that I was in Florida first don’t take it the wrong way. I just still can’t get over the fact that you waited to go to Disney World until after I serve my mission IN FLORIDA. It is ok though, no hard feelings… ok maybe a little 😉 Thank goodness I am not in the Orlando mission haha.

On another note. Elder Hamilton and I are a power team! We motivate each other really well and just get work done. We took a challenge from the Assistants to the Presidents to find a ridiculous 30 new investigators (the standard of excellence in the mission is 5)) this past week. We worked like crazy and met so many wonderful children of God. Many of them have great potential! Basically God granted us 25 new people to teach. It changed my perspective of what inspired goals, complete faith, massive action, and an expectation for mighty miracles can do.

We also had a Zone Meeting last week that went really well. I had to give a 20 min training which I was really nervous for because we don’t really have that much time to prepare for things like that because we have to worry about preparing lessons for investigators and doing proselyting still. The spirit really helped me out though and felt as if it took over. I could tell it had a positive impact on the Zone. God truly is good. I couldn’t handle all that is on my plate without him.

I had the blessed opportunity to baptize a wonderful brother into the fold of God. He is a humble man who is from Sudan, Africa. He was put into the military at the age of 12 there, but was able to leave to America when he was 20. My companion found him 10 weeks ago and he hasn’t missed church once. He has an incredible amount of faith, and he is really is just a wonderful brother. His name is Solomon Deng Deng. He was given the name Solomon when he was baptized into the Catholic church shortly after he moved here. I was very humbled by the fact that he asked me to baptize him, and what a blessing that was.

Another cool thing that happened this last week was when we swung by the mission office to take care of some different items of business. Right as we walked in Elder Rhoads, the vehicle coordinator (yes, I do realize the irony there), told us that we were going to help him out by driving one of the 2014 Ford Fusions to the Uhaul to get a bike rack hitch. Of course I had no objections. What a beautiful car that is. It is similar to the one we had when I first came out but that was a 2013. I was really hoping they were going to give us that car in exchange for the crappy 2011 corolla they have us in. But hey I shouldn’t be complaining it is better than biking haha.

I really love this area. I love the people we have met, and I have already learned so much. I have no doubt that God cares for each and every one of us individually. And that he really has a plan for us.

A spiritual lesson that I learned this week is that God cares more about our spiritual well-being than he does our physical. Here is what I mean by that. I have been sick for going on 4 weeks now. It stinks really bad, I just want to better. However, I find that at the end of the day, when I have given my all, I didn’t even feel sick all day until I slowed down just before bed. Basically when I lose myself in the work I forget about all my problems. God understands that we will have physical problems, that is just a part of life, but what he really cares about is that we keep the faith through it all. Every challenge is an opportunity to grow, so rather than praying for a change in circumstances we should pray for a change in character that will allow us to conquer our circumstances. That is something that my companion taught me. That is what I did, and it made all the difference in the world.

I love you all so much!

Elder Joshua Cordon

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Do I Stay or Do I Go?? -Joshua

Dear Family and Friends,

So this is the first transfer where I am actually completely uncertain as to whether I will stay here in the wonderful land of Lake City, or if I will go. I am personally okay with either option. If I stay I would probably be able to baptize my favorite investigators, seeing has how they are ripe for baptism here soon, but also I would welcome a change seeing as how this is the only place I have been thus far. I will get a teaser tonight if Elder Barcala gets a training call or not.

This last week was a fairly good week though. There are two highlights that I wish to mention.

The first is the surprising cold that hit us last Wednesday. Believe it or not, we had to bust out the gloves, coats, and scarfs in Florida haha. I was kinda looking forward to wearing my pea-coat the so I was happy. My companion on the other hand did not bring any cold weather clothing thinking that all of Florida was like Miami all the time haha. Luckily a merciful sister in the ward took us to the store and bought him a very nice coat, and some gloves and scarfs for the two of us. It definitely made biking around a lot better.

The other event was our Zone Conference. I thought we were suppose to rotate between Gainesville and here for Zone conference but seeing as how 3 in a row were in Gainesville that doesn’t seem to be the case. I don’t mind it though. We had to get flu shots while we were there and I think it made me a little sick, but it won’t stop me. The Zone Conference was great and I heard a lot of inspiring words. I just feel like this mission is one big family!

Something that I loved from my personal studies this past week was all the talk about how God will empower us with strength to overcome our weaknesses as we are obedient. That came from the talk that Elder Richard G. Scott gave in the latest general conference. SO GOOD! I would encourage all of you to read it 🙂

Have a wonderful week!

Love Ya’ll,

Elder Joshua Cordon

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My worst week of finding since week 2! Other than that not too bad haha :) – Joshua

Dear Family and Friends,

Contrary to popular belief, Florida does have enjoyable weather. WHO KNEW? It caught me surprise, I can tell you that. I actually love biking now. Not only does it feel great, but it means that more people are outside. Which is weird now that I think about it because well as my title suggests, we didn’t find much.

On other news, we did an exchange this last week and I went down to Price Creek which is out in the country and my companion stayed in Deep Creek. The best part about all this is that the elder who served with him for the day was his MTC companion which means they both had only been out for 4 weeks or so. The thought of the two newbies wandering the streets trying to figure out what they are going to do made me laugh. Not surprisingly they had interesting experience, but not in the way I expected.Here is what happened to them while I was down in the country. They started there day by helping with Bingo at the senior center, and then after they left they didn’t bike 300 feet before the elder who was borrowing my bike (which is a loaner bike from his companion) managed to cause the back sprocket to practically explode and render the bike unrideable. They walked about half a mile to the house of our ward mission leader who is currently in Vermont. They waited there for a ride for about 3 hours and then managed to get a ride for the rest of the night. I just feel bad for them.

Until my bike gets fixed I have been riding a bike that a sister in the ward loaned me. Luckily it wasn’t too girly and it is actually pretty nimble.

My miracle that I wanted to share this week comes from last Monday night. We hadn’t used our time very wisely and with a only an hour left in the night we felt like we had accomplished almost nothing. Recognizing that by our own efforts nothing would be accomplished we decided to say a prayer, begging for forgiveness and asking for direction. After the prayer ended I felt prompted to go and visit a referral nearby. When we got there this guy was standing outside waiting for a ride. We decided to verify with him if this was in fact the right house. He confirmed that it was, but that the guy we were looking for was in bed. Just then he asked what we were doing. We told him a little bit about the logistics of missionary work and how it all happens. Then he asked us for our information–which never happens! We exchanged information and he said he wanted us to come by and teach him. Then we got a text from him an hour later saying you will be hearing from me soon. So pumped! God is good!

Then we were finally able to get in touch with the lady who gave us her info at the library. Her name is Camekco and after a great first lesson she committed to be baptized on the 26th of October! 🙂 It was awesome 🙂

Just remember that prayer actually works!

I love ya’ll!

Elder Joshua Cordon

Slow Start, Strong Finish! – Joshua

Dear Family and Friends,

Things went really well this week. We started the week off with some really low numbers, though we still experienced some great moments, but from Thursday on, things really took off.

One of the early miracles was with Mati. We have been working with her for about 2 months and in all that time have only had 1 complete lesson with her. We were in her area Monday night so i decided to shoot her a text asking if we could come over. To my great surprise, she said yes. We quickly made our way over there to have a lesson with her. She told us when we got there that she had no sooner finished praying for guidance and help when the phone buzzed with my text. I had no idea at the time that it was a prompting from the spirit to send her a text, to me it was just a good idea. Nevertheless it was a spiritual prompting and it got her into tears as she shared it with us. We then set a baptismal date with her for the 19th of October. The spirit was so strong in that lesson, and she kept saying how much peace she felt. I love this gospel!

The pivotal point this week was a humble moment of prayer. Thursday night heavily relied on the fact that one or both of the members who agreed to go on trade-offs that night would still be able to make it, which is why it was so devastating that they both called and said they couldn’t make it that night. Granted they both were pretty legitimate excuses, but it was nonetheless very frustrating. I was lost… I had no idea what were were going to do for the last 3 hours of the evening. It was at this point that Elder Barcala, offered the humble advice of biking down a side street, to do a kneeling prayer and beg for help. That is what we did. After standing up after the prayer, an incredible feeling of peace fell upon me. I still didn’t know where to go, but I knew that God was in charge. We got back on our bikes, and just started heading down the street. We talked to everyone we saw…everyone. And it paid off. We taught four great lessons, and got two new investigators in only three hours. Those are good numbers for a days work.

Another miracle we had this week was that on Saturday after two great sessions of Stake Conference, we decided to go and visit a former investigator. We happened to pull up to his house the same time he did, which was a miracle because he is never home. We talked to him for a bit and then he ended up offering us a ride home. We had a great conversation with him and he made several comments about how he was looking for a church that he was be comforted in. Seeing how he is a pretty bright guy, I am sure he had to have known what kind of reaction that missionaries would have to such a comment. Either he is pulling our leg or he is interested in investigating the church again. I pray it is the latter.

On Sunday, Nick and the Suttons were all able to come to Stake Conference and it made it such a great session. They all had great experiences and we are expecting to see their faces there quite frequently. It surprised Nick to find out how many Mormons he knew. He ended up talking with people for a solid 15 minutes after conference ended. We worked hard for the rest of the day and had two really great lessons with one of them resulting in a new investigator. Her name is Kim. She has two children in the military which was our original connection point. We went over there on Sunday and stood on her porch for an hour and one of the more spiritual lessons of my mission. She readily agreed for us to come back.

I have no doubt in my mind that Heavenly Father cares about every single one of us. He proves that by making time for everyone of us, so that whenever we want to talk to him through prayer, he is listening. Listening with pure understanding and love. I know Heavenly Father hears our prayers, and he proves it by answering every sincere prayer we humbly offer. He wants to hear from us, so talk to him tonight.

I love ya’ll!

Elder Joshua Cordon

Here are some updated pictures of Joshua from his missions’ blog.

Crazy! Can you spot Elder (Josh) Cordon?

Trio, Training, and Tracting with Bikes -Josh

Dear Family and Friends,

This past week has been an interesting one. We finished out our trio of Elder Largo, Elder Newbold, and I. It was a lot of fun being in a trio but it made it harder to focus on the work. I learned a lot though nevertheless and we still managed to stay very productive. By the end of it all I felt like I had two good friends.

Having to say goodbye to Elder Newbold was bitter sweet. I felt like we have become good friends after 3 months and we taught really well together, as a result I had come to trust him a lot. Though I am excited to mix things up, it has proven difficult to regain that trust. It will come though, of that I am sure.

Elder Cordon with his new companion Elder Barcala

Elder Barcala and Elder Joshua Cordon

On Wednesday I got my new companion. His name is Elder Barcala. He is from Scottsdale, Arizona and he is a convert of 2 years. He is 22 and already has his bachelors in criminal justice from ASU. He has a terrific fire for the work and I hope that as his trainer that I can kindle that fire and help him become a very confident and powerful teacher.

Wednesday night we went over to a members house for dinner and afterwards did splits with him and his brother. So day one I have my new companion going out on his own. He did pretty good actually.

On Thursday the ward mission leader and his wife helped us out a ton by showing my companion around and helping get bikes. Being on bikes has been bitter sweet, while we drip in sweat biking in shirt and tie in the hot Florida sun it is easier to street contact when you are on bikes. It is far less intimidating to approach someone on bike than in a car. Also when we would drive slowly in a car down neighborhood streets it was hard to not think that we were the police.

We have gotten into the groove now though and we are starting to build up our teaching pool again. We have been working hard and it is paying off. We are meeting a lot of good people and I just hope that in some small way that we make their day a little brighter with every visit.

We were blessed to be able to catch Ben last night and we took him to the church to watch the CES fireside. Ben has been through a lot and is living in a terrible environment, but while we were watching the broadcast I could tell that a lot of the things hit him really powerfully, and I hope that he can put into action some of the incredible advice of Elder Russel M. Nelson. I was really grateful to be able to see it and it just made me so pumped that general conference in coming up.

I just love this work so much. I know now more than ever that God loves everyone of his children here on earth. I also know that by applying the wonderfully beautiful and simple principles of the gospel into ours that it will make us happier. This life is about growth and constant improvement. I think that one of the biggest sins of this generation is laziness and complacency. God wants us to achieve our wonderful potential, but he can’t force us to do it. It is our job, but you better believe that through the grace of Jesus Christ he will be there every step of the way strengthening us. Life is like climbing a mountain. Some people get tired and convince themselves they are satisfied with how far they have come so they set up camp. Others are disheartened by the steep climbs that lie ahead. But for those who want to make it to the top to see the stunning views above the tree line, Christ has offered to be our climbing partner. He has the made the climb before and if we trust him and do our part, them we can reach the summit of our potential. So get off of the couch and get climbing! Spiritually of course 😉

Love y’all
Elder Joshua Cordon