Flat Tire, Car Accidents… Oh and Teaching!

Dear family and friends,

We had a pretty great week this last week. A lot of interesting things happened. Especially on my exchange with Elder Lewis. The afternoon went pretty smoothly, with us finding two solid new investigators who just so happen to have the last name, but after that I got a flat
tire. Luckily for us, we were only about a 15 minute walk from the Walmart. As we got to Walmart, we passed by a member of the neighboring ward on her way out of the store. She offered some help but was unsure of exactly what she could do. Her cart was already full of stuff. So we parted ways as we walked into the store. I had bought a new tire for my bike a few days back but it looked ridiculous because it was a white-walled tire and my front was not. So I had to return the tire and buy a new tube to replace the flat one. As we were in line at customer service that same sister walked up to us and asked me how I was going to pay for the stuff. I had not anticipated seeing her again, but she was determined to help. While I was picking out the stuff I realized that I didn’t have money to pay for any of this so I was going to have to use some of my food money. God solved my simple predicament by sending someone to help me. He is awesome. She also said we could use her electric pump in her car, so when I got to the bikes I threw mine in a shopping cart and wheeled it over.

image1-2The rest of the night went very well, then the car accident happened. It was just after 9:00 and we were biking down Normandy blvd headed home. Right then we heard a car honk and we saw the Spanish elders drive by. As if they read our minds they took the next right turn and pulled over to wait for us to catch up and load our bikes up. As we were finishing strapping our bikes in I heard the screech of tires followed by a loud crash. I looked behind me and ten yards away were two cars that were in bad shape after one was T-boned by the other. I quickly whipped out my phone and dialed 911. As I was on the phone
with a dispatcher the man in the car that had been hit on the side came stumbling out and tried waking toward the sidewalk. A few of the other people there helped him to sit on the grass and tried to get him to stay there. He was bleeding from his head and clearly needed help from the paramedics when they got there. I finished giving the dispatcher info and then walked into the street to help guide traffic along. I got a decent look at the two in the other car, they were definitely in worse shape then the first guy was and one of them was
knocked out cold, but still breathing. As other people who had witnessed the accident helped to get traffic moving I walked back over to the other elders to see what we should do. As I was talking with them I noticed that the guy who had sat on the grass wasn’t there anymore. They told me that he had ran down the road back to his house. Know that he needed the medical help and that he should run from a car accident, Elder Lewis and I went down the road to look for him. We found him in front of his house getting yelled at by his girlfriend. Amid the commotion we yelled after the guy saying, “Sir, will you please come back with us?” He then ran into the house leaving his girlfriend who was having a panic attack in the front yard. We tried to calm her down and answer questions. We also tried to figure out where the guy went and if he was sober. Right then her daughter came
out and said that the guy had hopped the back fence and wasn’t sure where he went. Not necessarily sure what to do now, we showed the girlfriend the way back to the accident since apparently it was her car that he was driving. As we got back to the scene of the accident we directed her to a police officer and started talking to one of the paramedics. We informed him of the guy who had ran off and described his injuries and what he looked like. He then went back to the house with the girlfriend to see if he could find him. We asked if he wanted us to go but he declined the offer. Then a police officer started asking us for a description of what the man who had ran looked like. We all agreed on everything except the color of the shirt. We looked down the road and the paramedic didn’t seem to be having any luck locating the guy so we decided we would quickly walk up and down the road and see if we could see him in the neighborhood somewhere. As we passed the paramedic we told him our plan and he thanked us warmly for the help. As we were walking I thought it was strange that he would have hopped the fence due to the fact that there was a heavy tree line on the back side, so I suggested that we look in the back yard while we were there. I grabbed my flashlight and started looking around they had high privacy fences and one that went right through the middle of the back yard it was weird. I then climbed on the fence and looked over in the trees but I didn’t see anything. As we were walking back to the car a police car pulled up and started to look around the house. We were grateful we had left when we did or that could have been awkward. Satisfied the we had done what we could to help we hopped in the car and rode home for the night.

As far as the work with our investigators is concerned. We met a lot of solid people this past week but nobody is seriously progressing at this point save one. His name is Wittney Garçon and he has come to church for a steady 6-7 times now. He also comes to mutual and he seems to have a good time at both. He has been moving at a casual pace and he is hard to meet with, but we feel that he is someone we should put more of a focus on then we have. Hopefully the spirit will guide us and we seek to help him draw closer to our Heavenly Father. One other family that came onto the radar is Adrian and his Fiancé. We were on a street last night with an hour left in the evening. We had plans to go to another part of town but we felt that we should stay put for the rest of the night. I whipped out my handy iPad and searched the roster to see if any members lived on the streets nearby. I found only one name that of Adrian who hasn’t been to church since I have been here. We miraculously caught them home, outside and willing to listen. Adrian was happy to see us and wanted us to pray with his fiancé, Jana. After a really good talk we were able to break down some walls with Jana (who isn’t a member) that Adrian said he hasn’t been able to break through ever. She said we can come back and see her this week so we will see how that goes. God is great, the work rolls on, and miracles abound!

Love y’all!
Elder Joshua Cordon

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Progress

Dear Family and Friends,

Progress, I like progress; it feels nice. I’m sure y’all probably agree with me. Here are some updates on some names that you probably remember.

Trevor: Trevor is really getting back in his groove and then some. He has come to mutual three weeks in a row now and he even came to church on Sunday. His friend Wittney Garçon (He is someone we have been trying to get back into contact with) also came with him on Wednesday and Sunday. We were blessed with some kind members who helped us give them rides so we didn’t have to walk with them there; however, we were willing to do that if necessary. They had a great time and hopefully we can step up the fellowship for them. The youth program here is really small so they are pioneers in many ways.

Michelle: She came to scripture class again and even surprised us by bringing her daughter, Victoria, and her daughters boyfriend, Chandler. Victoria was super engaged and participated a lot in the discussion. We are going through the Book of Mormon chapter by chapter and we were on 1 Nephi 15. The discussion really kicked off when we began teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Victoria had such a good experience that she came up to us afterward and asked, “can I keep this Book of Mormon?… Here take down my number I am going to have some questions… Alright so how do I read this and where should I start?” It was pretty awesome to see her jump right on board. A couple days later we went to see Michelle at her place and she made us breakfast for dinner. Chandler was there and we got to know him some more. He is about to start school to go be a doctor. The greatest news was that we found out that Victoria wanted to go to church on Sunday. She showed up with Chandler and they had a great experience.

It is good to see some people make those steps that we need to be seeing. We have some others that we are working with but these were the ones who made the most progress this week.

An awesome little miracle happened after a great experience at the hospital on Friday. We went to the hospital to administer to three afflicted members of our congregation. When we parked we realized that we needed $2 in cash to pay the toll, but we both only had our debit cards. We figured we would just not worry about it, and that we could take care of that after the blessings. Two of them were quick in and out visits, but with one lady we stayed and talked for almost 45 minutes. Her cousin was there and it sure was a hoot talking to them. It was nice to help her take her mind off the cancer for a few minutes. She was missing her son especially because the day before she found out she had cancer he was deployed over seas. She asked me to give the blessing and it was a great opportunity for me. During the blessing a very sweet spirit entered to room. She started to cry and said that it really helped and that it made it feel like her son was there. On Sunday she was able to make it to church and thanked us both again for the blessing.

After the visit we got off the elevator on the first floor and tried to figure out where we could go go get some cash. Right then one of the employees said, “Are you lost elders?” We responded with “You must be a member. What Ward are you in?” He told us that he was in the San Jose Ward (Spanish Ward). I had actually met him before when I was serving in Hendricks Ave. He opened up his wallet and he pulled out $2 and said, “It is all I have.” He smiled and then walked away. I looked down at the cash in my hand, just amazed about God blesses us in the most personal ways. That was a really good day!

I love y’all and hope you have a wonderful week!

Elder Joshua Cordon

Conference Answers Questions

Dear Family and Friends,

This was among one of the most inpiring weeks of my life. The Friday trainee/trainer meeting and then a Saturday and Sunday of general conference answered so many of my questions about life I had to start thinking of new ones while conference was still going to continue to get the most out of it. I am so glad I took the advice and wrote down some questions. One of my favorite talks was Elder Eyring’s during priesthood session. I had asked a question on how to improve my prayers. I got more of an answer than I ever was expecting. I even had a question about college and just my future in general that I really wasn’t anticipating receiving an answer to, but God had other plans.

The week went really well. I will tell you about a few miracle men that we had. The first is this man Jeff. He was a miracle that we had several weeks ago when we had arrived at the apartment about 10 minutes early. Rather than going inside which I have never done. I told elder curran, we are not going home until we have a miracle. We began to walk and hopefully find someone outside. At exactly 9:00 this man yells from his porch, “are y’all missionaries?” And we of course went right over there and said yes. We replied with, “yes we are!” He told us that his dad is Mormon and that he has a lot of questions. We struggled for weeks to meet up with him. This past week we decided to give it one more try. He was home and we had a phenomenal lesson. He really did have a lot of questions. The next day we went back and he had read 50 pages and done tons of research. He said that a lot of people don’t support the church but he feels like this is where he is meant to be. He accepted the invitation to be baptized on the 25th of this month. It was awesome!

Another great thing about this past week began with a challenge presented by elder Kopischke called “priming the pump”. He said that we should go and ask them to pray for us that we could find a family to teach in their home. We decided to try it with the awesome Nhiev family. The very next day after we started it we met Michelle who I mentioned in one of previous letters. This past Monday she joined us at the Nhiev’s for a family home evening and everyone had a great time! Then on Friday we had a lesson with her and her husband Ray. On Saturday they came to the church and watched the afternoon session of general conference with Br and Sis Nhiev. It was awesome to see how quickly everything is coming together when we exercise some faith. God really is just so good! The challenge worked so well we are trying it again with another family. Wish us luck!

Love y’all!
Elder Joshua Cordon

Reach Out!

Dear Family and Friends,

This week has just been non-stop awesome!! We are in a position where we rarely get a second to stop and think, it has been rather nice. I love being incredibly busy. However, at the same time a breather, where you can catch up on some things and gather your composure before going head first into the next week is always a nice thing. We have some exciting things ahead of this week. We have Elder Anderson of the quorum of the 12 Apostles doing a pitstop for a short mission devotional this week which will be a great experience and then the very next day we have another trip down to the temple. Then on Sunday our wonderful friend Donna will be baptized right after church. We are already filling practically every available crack with appointments. We are truly blessed with great prosperity right now. God really has been blessing us incredibly.

The lesson I learned this week is captured incredibly in a talk by Henry B. Eyring. It is called “Heavenly Father Reaches Out To His Children“. (*editors note: link is for an audio of the talk) In this talk he helps to explain how Heavenly Father can possibly stand watching so many of his children struggle and suffer. We think there is a lot of bad in the world and we cant even stand to watch, imagine seeing all of it happening at the same time and knowing each individual very personally. That sounds incredibly painful, yet that is what God experiences each and every moment. He tells us– and you must know that this is not at all doing justice to the talk and in no way replaces the benefit of actually hearing it for yourself– that the reason that Heavenly Father can stand it is because he has us. He has mortal servants down here who can reach the people and be an extension of Him in providing love and support during this difficult sojourn of life. He share a quote that is as follows, “it is against the order of Heaven for Angels to be sent to complete a task that can be accomplished by a mortal servant.”

The responsibility is ours. We most reach out and nourish and care for those around us. We cannot simply be concerned with our life alone but with the many lives that surround us each and every day. If we are sensitive to the needs of our loved ones and we are sensitive to the spirit we will see many opportunities to reach out and give support. It never has to be anything complicated, they simply need to know that you are there and that you love them. I am going to attach the link to the talk and I would encourage all of you to listen to it and to consider how you can be an extension of our heavenly father. As for me right now in my mission, these missionaries are my family. And I feel a great responsibility to reach out and to provide support and love to them. I hope God will guide me as I attempt to do just that.

I love y’all so much!

Elder Joshua Cordon

A Beautiful Gift

Dear Family and Friends,

I think an overarching thing that my past week taught me is that of the simplicity of personal revelation and the importance of actively seeking it and then acting upon it long enough to reap the rewards. I was left in a mode of pondering after the recent general conference which made no small emphasis on the importance of personal revelation. That all finally developed into a phenomenal learning opportunity as I was on an exchange with one of my fellow missionaries this week. I think the trick to receiving revelation is to learn how to ask the right questions. After talking to him all night between lessons about pretty general topics I could tell that something was on his mind. When we got home and after I planned for the next day I started to pry a little to see what I could get out of him. I had no idea the amount of revelation that we were going to receive during that conversation that night, and again in the morning. We talked about all aspects of missionary work with the goal of trying to figure out what the missionaries in his stewardship needed from him. And really it was as simple as us asking a good question and then seeing the spirit guide our answers to helping us find the solutions. It seemed so easy, it was just coming to us. The amazing thing was that we both were completely on the same page. We were receiving the exact same answers. In the morning we even ended up studying the exact same chapters in the book of mormon and in PMG. It was quite wild. I felt like the early saints describe in the Acts 4:31-32 “And when they had prayed… they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul…” This experience of personal revelation this week has happened many times before, but I was especially aware of it this time and I feel like the lessons I learned were very profound.

Making an extra emphasis to put the revelation to work Elder Layton prayerfully considered an exact street that we should go and knock on Friday with the goal of finding a family that would be open to hearing our message. An exact street came to us and we wrote it down. The next day I was on another exchange this time with my MTC companion, Elder Searle, and we went to the street that we had planned. We found a potential investigator right at the start but we went for almost an hour after that with no success. That is when we knocked on Tony’s door. Elder Searle did the initial approach flawlessly and we found ourselves trying to comfort this man as he tells us how is 9 year old daughter was killed by a drunk driver, and that that same driver killed another few people last year because of the same thing and he is still not behind bars. While we did feel sorry for his loss but we were also happy because we knew that we had something that would help to remove the pain and anguish from his heart. After having a simple doorstep lesson with him, he told us that he would read the Book of Mormon that night and that he wanted his family to hear this message. I knew at that moment that it really was inspiration that we chose to go to that street at that time so that we could meet this man.

Another amazing miracle that we had Saturday night also began with a prayer. It was 8:05 and we had no idea what we were going to do for the next 55 minutes. The plans we did have had fallen through and it wasn’t exactly the best time to be knocking on someones door. We prayed and asked God were we should go. At first we still had no idea so we started to just drive back to the other side of town that we live on. As were driving a thought of a lady, but when we called she didn’t answer. Then I got another idea to try someone else just down the street from our apartment. We knocked on her door, but no one appeared to be home. Then Elder Layton thought to try Gladys, which was strange considering the fact that we officially removed her from our teaching pool last Friday after a month and a half of no contact. We tried it though. She happened to have just gotten home moments before and she was open to chatting. We ended up having a 45 minute lesson with her which began with her saying how exhausting work and life in general has been to it ending with us finding out that she was already baptized a Mormon and her doing the chicken dance as she tells us a funny story. She recognized how much the spirit of the gospel lifted her burdens and made her forget about the stress of life and said that she would like meeting with us regularly, so that we could help her start coming back to church. Another miracle that began with asking a simple question and receiving very simple revelation.

I want to bear testimony that the Holy Ghost is real and that it is actually a third member of the Godhead. Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, which allows me to have this member of the Godhead as my constant guide is undoubtedly the greatest gift that God has given me. I know that if we are worthy and if we listen that we can receive the quite whispering of the spirit that will send us down unknown but glorious paths on our journey back to Heavenly Father. I am grateful to have been blessed to have received the gift of the Holy Ghost by one who holds proper authority, truly this is the greatest difference between the true church of Jesus Christ, and all others. My only desire is to bless the human race by helping whoever will listen receive this incredible gift into their own life. This is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I love y’all!

Elder Joshua Cordon

P.S. If you are wondering how you could help yourself be better at receiving personal revelation then read the devotional address, “An Educated Conscience” by Stephen Covey, the May 27th, 1975 BYU devotional.

The Small & Simple Things

Dear Family and Friends,

It seems like it was only four days ago that I was writing y’all… o wait… So it was a wonderful weekend. A lot of really good things happened as usual. One notable event of this past weekend was going to a party on Saturday. So we have a recent convert that we have been working with and she is just wonderful! She has been a member for about 4 months now and has grown so much in that time. She made some dramatic changes in her life in order to get baptized and still has been battling with some of the lasting effects. One of those is her relationship with her family. Because of who she was before she has spent the last little while repairing those relationships and building the family she wishes she always had. It was her birthday this past weekend so we got together with her and another one of our recent converts to celebrate and have a lesson with them. It was a really great time and we even took a fun picture to commemorate the event. After the lesson she had plans to go over to her uncles house to have a family get together for her birthday. She really wasn’t looking forward to the event because it potentially was going to be a really awkward get together. After encouraging her to still go to the party and giving her our two cents of advice, the idea came to me to just have us go with her and take some of the focus off of her so that it wouldn’t be awkward any more. It was more of a facetious comment at first but then she loved the idea so we decided to go for it. The party ended being a really fun event. We got to see her dad and brother who are investigators of ours and to get to know the rest of her family. One of her cousins had even flown in from Peru (which is where her family is from) to be there and had fun getting to know all of them. She ended up having a wonderful time and really felt like it helped to make it one of the best birthdays that she had had.

It was such a simple thing that we had done, but it really brought about amazing results. On top of everything else we also got to expose her whole family to fact that Mormon Missionaries are normal people behind the shirt and tie. I wouldn’t be surprised if this could open up the door to some more baptisms in the future in her family. “By small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6) is the principle that I learned from all of this. Never underestimate the powerful impact of simple expressions of love and kindness. There is a wonderful Mormon Message that just came out that illustrates this principle rather nicely and touches those who view it in a variety of ways. If you want the link, here it is http://www.mormonchannel.org/video/mormon-messages?v=3792885561001.

Another wonderful thing is that we found out that one of our investigators will be able to get baptized sooner than we had expected. Her father wanted to baptize and confirm her, but was living with his girlfriend so he wasn’t going to be able to, and her mother wouldn’t agree to let her get baptized, so we had expected for it to be a much more distant event. However, her dad just split up with his girlfriend so he could be worthy and he is going through the court system to get full custody back. It is amazing how what seemed to be a very difficult and near impossible task has become a reality almost overnight. Truly there is no commandment that God won’t provide a way for a us to accomplish (1 Nephi 3:7) if we simply just try our best.

I love this work so much! The wonderful thing about the gospel is that whenever you give it away you always get more of it, whether it be love, joy, or even yourself, it doesn’t really make sense but that is what is so wonderful about it.

I hope every one of you takes advantage of the opportunity to watch general conference this weekend. I am stoked! It is like the super bowl for missionaries!

I love y’all!

Elder Joshua Cordon

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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