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Dear Family and Friends,
Some years ago, I read an editorial in the Deseret News entitled “The Mechanical Rabbit.” I quote:
“Most of our readers must have smiled the other day when they read of the greyhounds in Britain who don’t know a rabbit when they see one. So long had they chased a mechanical rabbit around the racetrack, that when a real rabbit bounded across the track, the dogs didn’t give it a second look.“Stupid, eh? But sad too, this perverting of the natural instincts. …“We chase mechanical rabbits, too.“We chase paychecks, and don’t give a second look to the glint of the rising sun on a snow-topped peak.“We chase our way through the appointments of a crowded desk calendar, and fail to take time to chat with the next-door neighbor or to drop in on a sick friend.“We chase social pleasures on a glittering noisy treadmill—and ignore the privilege of a quiet hour telling bedtime stories to an innocent-eyed child.“We chase prestige and wealth, and don’t recognize the real opportunities for joy that cross our paths. …”Wordsworth said words appropriate to this condition:“The world is too much with us: late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.”“Race on, you poor, blind over-civilized hounds. You’ll never catch your rabbit until you learn to recognize a genuine one.“But, you’ll have company in your race; the company of unnumbered men who’ll never catch the joy they chase until they, too, learn to recognize a genuine one.”This points up our challenge: See “that the things that matter most … are not at the mercy of things that matter least.” (Ashley Montague.)Someone rephrased this thought: “Too often we are involved in the thick of thin things.”In modern revelation the Lord said:“Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?“Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men. …” (D&C121:34–35.)
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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!
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.
Elder Joshua Cordon
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
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