Blessings of Heaven

Dear Family and Friends,

I feel very grateful. In fact it is to the point that when I stop take in how grateful I feel my eyes begin to immediately moisten, my heart swells, and I seem to be at loss for words adequate enough to describe to any person the joy that fills my soul. Nothing in my life has compared to the last two years, the lessons I have learned and the experiences that I have had have shaped and molded me in unanticipated ways. I do not, and have not regretted it for a moment. I tried my best to cherish every moment, savor every friendship, learn from every mistake, roll with every setback, relish every change, and conquer every trial. I am by no means perfect, but I gave it all I had, and I don’t feel that I am leaving with any stones unturned. Granted there is much work still to do, but I have collected the necessary phone numbers, emails, and Facebook names to make sure that I can help to see it through.

Some have called missionary work a sacrifice, but I never could seem to find out why. Unless you call giving up a few poor habits, a lot of idol thoughts, many childish quirks, and a couple of my favorite songs in exchange for self discipline, a relationship with God, countless eternal friendships, a love for the scriptures, and a deep respect for the eternal nature of families as a sacrifice. I know that my Heavenly Father loves me dearly, and I know that he loves every single person on this planet with the same incomprehensible love. Helping people see that love that their Heavenly Father has for them has enlarged my capacity to see people a little more like the way Heavenly Father sees them. It also has changed my perspective on the world.

I found myself reading accounts of the suffering of the saints in Missouri and of the trials experienced by Alma and Amulek in Alma 14 yesterday for personal study. As I pondered on why I was guided to study those verses and what I could possible take as a lesson at this time in my life I had an ‘aha’ moment. The true blessings of discipleship will never be found, seen, or identified with natural eyes, it requires an eternal perspective to see the things of God. A question I often ask people is what has your faith in Jesus Christ afforded you in your life? The responses I received have varied in scope, but the have been the same in nature. All have focused on material blessings of the gospel. If you lost your wife and kids in a holocaust, were locked up in a prison and food, drink, and clothing were withheld from you, would you still feel blessed and highly favored of the Lord? As Elder Hamilton, a wise missionary companion of mine, once said, “God is less concerned with you temporal well being as he is with you spiritual well being.” The true blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ are “love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22) all of which are given in such eternal abundance that “there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10) These are among the blessings of the gospel I have received during the past two years, they are the blessings that we should strive for; they cannot be denied us regardless of the suffering that could possible be formed against us if we but remain faithful. These are the blessings that I imagine Alma and Amulek would list if they were asked the question.

I know without a doubt in my mind that Jesus Christ is the son of God. That he felt and experienced every pain, temptation, and affliction that I have ever experienced. I know from personal experience that he is always there and is ready and willing to help if we let him. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that a “man will get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book.” (Introduction to the Book of Mormon) I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet today. These things I know of myself and I will bear record of them to all who will but listen until the day I am called to return home. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I love y’all and I will see you soon.

Elder Joshua Cordon

  P.S. Wittney (middle right) was baptized Saturday and it went very well. He was baptized by his friend Christian (middle left). Sunday I was able to confirm him. He looks good in a white shirt and tie, and his future looks even better.

Miracles Abound!

Dear Family and Friends,

A miracle that happened on Sunday was that a man we had met at the bus stop the previous Sunday whom we invited to church ended up showing up. I was in the foyer waiting for our investigator when he came walking up to the door. He clearly was there for the first time from the uncertain look on his face and he had in his hand a crumpled pass along card with the church address on it. He really enjoyed himself, and the best part was that the sisters investigator who came for the first time was his cousin. So they sat together in Sunday school and really enjoyed themselves. We still don’t have any contact information for him, but when he said that he would come back, I really do believe him this time.

Another Miracle we had was that Wittney, a wonderful young man from Haiti, has accepted the invitation to be baptized on May 23rd. He has been very active for the last month and he is more than ready for this step. I am happy to see how this will bless his life. Hopefully we can find him a bicycle so he can bike with his friend Trevor to church and back. That would be a real cherry on top.

All in all thanks for all the love and support!

Love y’all!
Elder Joshua Cordon

It Is Nice To Know People Who Know People!

Dear Family and Friends,

I had a pretty wonderful week! Last Monday I had the opportunity to do my first round of golf. It was on the beautiful green grass of TPC Sawgrass where the PGA championship is held every year. I felt like royalty! We had this pretty awesome caddy with us the whole time, we got our named engraved onto these medal bag tags that have the picture of the 17th hole carved in it, and then halfway through we had a guy roll up to us and give us cold towels to cool us off. It was the best secular experience of my mission so far! I am grateful for my companion he was the one with the connections to get us in. We brought two older gentleman with us who just soaked up every minute of the experience. Both are golf enthusiast and never thought they were going to have the chance to play such a course. They were one team and we were the other. We did a best ball scramble to keep pace. Since Elder Layton is really good we came on top in the end. I had a few really good hits. I definitely did better than I thought I was going to do.
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As far as the spiritual side of things, I got to go to the temple this past week. It was am amazing experience and I definitely had some pretty powerful spiritual experiences while in there. In order to get some of the missionaries down there we drove a van up to Kingsland, Georgia the night before, then left from there in the morning. After the day was said and done we did about nine hours of driving. It was worth every minute though and the whole trip was very enjoyable. I think my only regret was that I went for the large sandwich at firehouse instead of a medium. It is not the best thing to put in your system when you going to sit for several hours. Other than that though it was an amazing trip!

On our way back we had this cool little miracle that happened. About 20 minutes before we were and home and before we passed through
downtown Jacksonville, we passed this guy who had all these things strapped to the roof of his SUV. He had a law mower, a generator, a industrial fan, a ladder, and some other things all on the roof! Plus his car was full of a bunch of tools. We took a photo and continued on our way. When we got back to Jacksonville we had more time that we thought so we pondered on how we could best use it. We both felt that we should head to a particular complex to try a potential. As we pulled in we saw that exact same SUV with all the stuff ahead of us. We tried our potential and then walked over to his car to see if he needed help unloading. Turns out that he has to leave it all on there because it is for his work. He is self employed but doesn’t have enough money for a truck and trailer. If he were to take it off he would spend hours taking it off and on every day. He needs every minute he can after work to spend time with his family. He said that he his nervous that someone could steal all of his stuff but he has no where to put it. He said that he just says a prayer and trusts that god will keep it safe. He was open to hearing our message another day so we took his number down and walked away with a renewed sense of reverence for the humble and hard-working family-man.

His story coupled with a lesson I learned this week highlights the power of determination. If you want to succeed then you all it takes is for your determination to make it happen. I quote that comes to mind is “that it is never to late to be what you could have been.” In other words, despite every thing else, even your past, if you are determined you can be what you want to be.

Another lesson I learned was that of focusing on the present. You can learn from the past, and you should plan for the future, but if you are not living in the moment and embracing the situation that you are in, you are missing the most important aspect of this existence. If you are determined to change it will not come from the lessons of the past, or the plans of the future, it will come from simply just doing it right now in the present.

Just a few thoughts.

Have a wonderful week everyone!

I love y’all!
Elder Joshua Cordon

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

Lightening, Cameras, and…. Snow

Dear Family and Friends,

How is it possible that week after week things just get better and better? You think you should just get to a point where you would just stop progressing and you are as happy as you can be… Except that would be false doctrine and the exact opposite of what I teach people, so it makes perfect sense actually. I love truth!! It is just so… motivating!

This past week at Zone meeting we had one of the most inspired goal setting sessions i have ever experienced in a Zone Meeting! I have struggled to get a goal that everyone embraces and one that unifies, but I think we finally did it. It started with a spiritual epiphany I received several weeks back, and one I have been praying about ever since. I realized that God wants his sons and daughters baptized more than I want them baptized. No duh right? Well it definitely changed the way I pray. Then I realized that he spends everyday preparing people to received this message and that there are prepared people out there and we just need to find them. Now I kinda knew all this already, but it finally hit me in a different way, the kinda way that leads someone to change and to act. My companion and I then came up with what we knew was a inspired plan. We decided that if we pray and fast and work our tails off, that every single companionship can find and baptized someone in the month of June. When we first introduced it we had a lot of doubting eyes staring back at us. So we pulled out our secret weapon, the faith building pep-talked we prepared. Before we were even done the spirit was very thick in the room and every single missionary jumped in excitement for our goal which is twice as much as a number we thought was impossible the month before. Good things are coming 🙂 #raiseyourexpectations

So if you haven’t seen our video on Facebook yet, I pity you. I would also invite you to repent and go and check it out. We are forming an amazing group and we need your help! It was a lot of fun to film and it was definitely interesting scenery. I hope you enjoy/enjoyed it!

I also had the opportunity to go on exchange last week to required me to hop on the bike again for a whole night! Before we even finished our dinner it was raining. I decided to go without a raincoat though because I new that if I wasn’t wet with rain water than I would be wet from wearing a non-breathable coat in the thick humidity. As we biked around we enjoyed natures natural firework displays. I was hoping that people would take pity on us considering, but it didnt seem to work too well! haha

Another amazing experience was that this past week Alfred opened up that he was still unsure of Thomas S. Monson being a prophet. We decided to help him out by watching the move about him called “On The Lord’s Errand.” Before we were even able to finish the movie he said that he knew that it was true! He is such a champion! He will be interview this week for baptism so we will see how that goes!

Oh ya and about the snow comment. We were about to go meet some less-active members at an apartment complex when we saw a pile of snow on the other side of the fence. I had to look to twice to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. I made a snow ball!!! In Florida!! OUTSIDE!! How is that possible!?! Well… it helps if you are next to an ice rink haha. Nevertheless, it was awesome!

Once again everybody join the Facebook group Called To Share and invite all of your member friends. Then tomorrow (Tuesday) post a picture of you holding the Book of Mormon just under yours eyes with #discoverthebook and with your testimony of how you know it is true!

Love Ya’ll!!

Elder Joshua Cordon

Bring on the rain!!

Dear Family and Friends,

Well, Hurricane season is officially here. The wise old patriarch of the ward strongly urged all of us to be ready. Don’t worry though, we are. We have been stocking up on food for the last little while. The cupboards are full and we have food for at least three months. Also, if anything does happen, what a great opportunity it will be to serve those around us. It will also make it easier to baptize if the streets are full of water. Of course I am only slightly joking! It did storm rather heavy every single day last week! We even had nickel sized hail several times.

Moving on.

Some really good things happened this past week! Not the least of which is the mission leadership council meeting that we had in which a lot of good things are coming about. I really love where President Craig is moving the focus and I am excited to exoerience all the good that will follow. For me personally, that meeting was very inspiring. I left with my expectations raised and my vision expanded. I realized I hadn’t been stretching myself enough, but that is going to change! Starting with my online proselyting, which is something that I have completely neglected these past few months. I have been looking for ways to improve and now I finally feel like I have concrete direction on how I am going to do that!

An exciting thing that happened this week was that Alfred had a change of heart. A week ago he was pretty down and he wasn’t his normal cheery self. He didn’t come to church last week because he was so down. He started to have a lot of doubts in what we were teaching because he still hadn’t had a spiritual witness of the Book of Mormon. We set out this week to help him have one. On Wednesday we talked a lot about prayer with him, we knew that if he could understand how prayer works then getting an answer will be easy. Near the end of our lesson he seemed to have a really good understanding of prayer. We then challenged him to pray right then and there and ask god if the Book of Mormon is true. He was a bit hesitant, but he agreed. After praying we had us just sit in silence for a few minutes so he could pay attention to the way that he felt. Needless to say, Alfred finally can recognize what the spirit felt like! It was pretty incredible! This Sunday at church he just kept saying, I feel the spirit and I can’t help but smile!

And on that note I want to end by saying, if you are looking to smile a little more in your life, then do something that will invite the spirit, and soon enough, I promise you, you will be smiling! It happens to me every single day!

I love y’all!!

Elder Joshua Cordon

Plan Ahead, Enjoy The Moment, and Count Your Blessings

Dear Family and Friends,

I am not sure if I mentioned this already, but I have come to learn a thing or two about myself on my mission. Big shock right? One thing i have learned is that i like action. If i spend three hours in a meeting and I don’t leave feeling like I have just received instructions of how to put into action and realize the very goals we have discussed, then i feel like time has been wasted. Luckily for me though, when i spent 11ish hours in meetings this past week, I do feel that much of the time was used wisely, and that is was productive.

Nevertheless, the time that wasn’t used wisely combined with several weeks and months of thought I’ve put into goal setting and planning has caused me to give a training on it this week in Zone Meeting. Time is too short and too precious to waste it with action-less-chit-chat. On the contrary to not talk through things at all could be highly detrimental for it would open the door the premature and inappropriate action. As in all things in life a balance is required. I feel like that is how we have worked here in the Hendricks area over the past few months, we have accomplished much with a proper balance of talk and action. Hopefully, my much study and pondering, coupled with inspiration from the spirit will lead me to be able to say a few wise words on the subject tomorrow, I guess we will see.

Anyhow back to reality. So one interesting thing that happened this past week was a move that we took part in. We found out about Thursday we had to help a lady in our ward move from one apartment to another. At first we thought we were just being asked to be part of moving crew they had already assembled, But then we realized that we were the moving crew. Personally, I am flattered by the fact that they thought we had the energy, stamina, and means to do the entire project ourselves. They must really think very highly of us. As tempting as that sounded, we decided to take the selfless route and share this blessed opportunity with others, and thank goodness we did, for the load ended up being a full U-Haul truck, and two truck-beds worth of furniture boxes and odds-n-ends. While i say that in partial jest much good came from including others in this service opportunity. Our fully assembled amateur moving team was a motley crew at best, it included us, the senior missionary couple (Elder and Sister Andrew), our burly elders quorum president, Solomon (our recent convert who was one of the lost boys of Sudan), and Johnny (our Cambodian brother, also a recent convert). It got done in a timely manner, we had a great time, and all reported that they appreciated the much-needed boost in spirit that comes from losing yourself in the service of others. In the end, a seemingly overwhelming task resulted in a blessing in disguise.

Another crazy thing that happened Saturday was that when we came by Solomon’s to pick him up for the service project the whole parking lot and courtyard outside his apartment were taped off with police line. Inside the line were 6 squad cars, more than a dozen officers, and several men carrying what appeared to be M-16s. Luckily Solomon was fine and he said that the police had been their since 10 o’clock the previous evening. According to him, somebody died. It is just a hunch, but I am suspecting foul play, that is just me though, so take it with a grain of salt. In most cases including the move I unwisely failed to capture the moment in a photograph. I need to be better at that.

We managed this past week after hurdling many obstacles to find me a bike to ride and a bike hitch for our car, so we were able to hit the pavement and do some good street contacting, it was definitely a major blessing for we had much success in those few hours of biking.

So, everything is going great with the many families that we are teaching. Lily is still on track to be baptized by the end of the month, she also wants to go on a mission! Wahoo! She will be a great missionary. The Conseillants are great like always, and they even came to church on Sunday. We finally were able to have a lesson with Kevin and Lori in their home which is about 2 1/2 months in the making, but was totally worth it. We got Daniel (the son of Br. Fonseca who was baptized 2 years ago) to finally set a date for baptism? We had him pick the number, so April 20th it is. And then their are just so many others who are coming out of the wood work to hear this wonderful message. God has truly blessed us with a plate as full as the one I ate yesterday at dinner, and both are delicious to the taste. And the weather has been beautiful which is another big plus.

Count your many blessings this week and you will be singing as the days go by! (“Count Your Blessings,” LDS Hymn book #241)

Love Ya’ll!!

Elder Joshua Cordon