The Book of Mormon Musical: From Bad to Beneficial

Dear Family and Friends,

I wish I had the ability to better express myself to somehow paint for you exact picture of what I experienced this week. I was blessed with the unique opportunity of going to downtown Jacksonville and proselyting amongst the crowds of people who were going to see the Book of Mormon Musical. (Local Newspaper Article)

Here is a quick rundown of the musical for those who do not know about it. It is not sponsored or supported by the church. It is from the same people who created South Park. It is the same tasteless and vulgar humor that they are used to creating only worse because it is a live performance rather than prime-time television. It is about two Mormon missionaries who go to Uganda on their missions. It focuses its mockery towards the church, but it really mocks all of organized religion in general.

Now, we understand that their goal is to make money and they are doing a great job of that. So, to get offended and protest the show would be a down-right foolish and childish response. Seeing as how the true church of Jesus Christ is neither foolish or childish, we have taken something negative and turned it into something very positive. The following is the church’s official statement in response to the musical.

“The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.” (Link to official statement)

Following in suite with the nature of their response we gathered together a group of 24 missionaries who alternated with each performance going in two groups of 12 to take advantage of this great opportunity. Before the shows we handed it thousands of cards which gave information for a church tour and how to download a copy of the Book of Mormon. After the show we would hand out copies of the Book of Mormon to anyone who was willing to read it. It was so much fun!! We were part of the group that covered opening night.

As we gathered at the rendezvous point there was excitement building in the air as we loaded our bags and our pockets with as many books and cards as we could carry. I drove the van that took us all downtown. No-one had any idea as to how the crowds would react to our presents or to how everything would turn out, but we were full of faith and excitement and we were ready to conquer. We had a pep-talk/ prayer after we parked and then we were off.

Elder Jorgensen and I were looking for the spot that would experience the most traffic, it wasn’t necessarily ideal for teaching or answering questions, but it was perfect for being in front of making an impression upon as many people as we could in the short amount of time that we were afforded. Our spot of choice was right next to the sidewalk that lead to the main entrance of the theatre. Thousands of people had to have walked past that point during the night. As people approached us we would great them by saying “HELLO!, how are you doing today?” With as much enthusiasm as we could muster, and trust me, Elder Jorgensen has more enthusiasm for missionary work than you can imagine. After they responded we would say, “We are the real Mormon Missionaries” Which solicited either a response of a pleasant surprise and some laughter, or… well the opposite, and enjoyable response. Luckily for us most of the people were very nice and happy to see that we were not there to protest. We would disperse our cards to the group and wait for the next wave.

After the show we tried to hold as many copies of the Book of Mormon as we could in our hands keeping another case close by. Before the show the crowds were a steady flow for about 45 minutes as they came for the performance, but afterwards just as many if not more people would all come through in about 10 minutes. We couldn’t hand out books fast enough. I felt like one of the newsies standing in the middle of the chaos holding a books and shouting as people walked by, “Will you read the Book of Mormon?… Here you go… Have a blessed day!… Will you read the Book of Mormon?… oh, okay then, well God bless ya… Will you read the Book of Mormon?” Never did I ever think that I would get to a point on my mission that people were flocking to me to get a copy of the Book of Mormon to read, so much so that I ran out of books every single time.

I hope that that somewhat adequately paints for you a picture of what I experienced those few nights. I could share plenty more details, but I my letter is plenty long enough!

I just want to bear my testimony to y’all that if you have the right attitude that any situation can be turned from bad to beneficial. Attitude is everything!

Have a great week! I Love y’all!!

Elder Joshua Cordon

Meet the Mormons!

Dear Family & Friends,

We watched Meet the Mormons this last week. President surprised us by playing it after ending zone conference a little early. He is so powerful and it was so uplifting. He talked so much about looking towards the mark. Meaning we don’t settle for less. But We will have here shortly Elder Ballard, President Rasband, Bishop Gary Steven, Elder Gong, Elder Wong, and Elder Funk. Its such a blessing to be in a spot that has such a presence of these men.

We had a great week! These consecrated finds have always produced results and I have been realizing why: its because we don’t looking at those times as what we do when we have nothing else better to do but as a missionary focused activity. So we will keep those going because it helps with time management but we will make sure to have the same mentality towards any other finding opportunities. I believe the lord really is blessing us with these opportunities. Its just hard because these people are not seeming to have the same mentality the lord and us have for them. Another thing about finding is we had a ward find yesterday and it went really well, for some they gained a little more appreciation for the work, for others they got to see the joy of their labors. Our ward leader is great and has an awesome mentality because of his efforts he helped us find a man about his same age who has got some good interest and already has a fellowshipper.

This last while visiting a family in the ward it was great to hear about their conversion stories, and it was also interesting to hear them talk about the missionaries that baptized them because they loved them so much. But they also told me with much disappointment that he was less active. I asked how they knew that and they said they didn’t know for sure but they assumed because they see his Facebook and they said he doesn’t look or sound like he used to. It was a good reminder for me that we can’t go back to who we were, we need to become something new and keep going!

But also in that visit we kinda did some weekly planning with them and they were brainstorming all kinds of ideas how we could get better, then it was funny as the brother talked about how he has seen us on the streets a lot and how our work is really hard and it would be way easier if members just provided friends. I thought that’s a really good Idea. But they brought up some great ideas one being scouting. I guess this sister who has at least 3 families who would love to do scouting but Wanchai is too inconvenient. Apparently there is enough between out two wards that we could do our own down here and it would be a great missionary opportunity so we sent that to our bishop for some consideration.

We also had exchanges, I went to west point this last week and a cool miracle that happened while I was with Elder Gillis is that right as English was wrapping up a kid walked in looking for English helped so we talked to him for a bit then ended up teaching a lesson but just as he walked in so did a member randomly asking to join us. So basically a perfect lesson just fell right into our hands. He said he would go to church but I am not sure how that all ended up.

Great stuff is happening because we got the Kwok family to come to all 3 hours of church this week for the first time and they all seemed to enjoy it. Except the son he is having a harder time so we are working with the young men’s leader for a way to really bring him in. Its his first time at young men’s so we just need him to go more so he can start having some friends.

Elder Jared Cordon

JAred Selfie 1

Selfies with the Selfy Stick!

Jared Selfie 2

Selfies with the Selfy Stick!

 

#THEPROPHETSPEAKS

Dear Family and Friends,

What a blessing it was to be able to watch General Conference this weekend and hear the inspiring words of our leaders. This conference definitely gave cause to reflect on many aspects of life. In between the sessions we found ourselves doing what missionaries often do, knocking on doors. In what seemed an almost instinctive approach we testified on every doorstep that we have a prophet today. The various responses we received clearly and quickly taught the fact that most people have no idea why a prophet is at all a blessing to us. Even after we take time to try to explain it to them, they still just don’t seem to get it. As I watched the sessions of conference the question popped into my mind, do we as members of this church even understand why it is such a big deal that we have a prophet today. If we recognize it, do we feast on those abundant blessings?

I would like to take a few moments to tell all of you that I know without a doubt that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God. I know that by the spirit of god which has born witness of that fact to my own spirit. I believe that when he is acting under his prophetic calling that his words are God’s words, and I have the faith that if I live by his counsel that I will become more like my savior, Jesus Christ, and my life will be one that will provide me with the richest blessings that are available in this mortal existence. And while the spirit alone is good enough for me to know I have the additional witness of experience, for as I have lived his counsel I have seen it bring me closer to God.

Not only do I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet, but I also know that we have a quorum of 12 Apostles on the earth today that holds the same authority that the apostles of old held. I know that those men are also called of God and have power and authority from on high to act in there callings. I know that from my encounters with those Holy Men but one major witness is the fact that it was one of those men that made the assignment for me to serve in Jacksonville, FL for my 2 year mission. I have had numerous experiences that proven to me that this is the exact place and time that I was meant to be. Only a prophet could have known that.

And so on down the chain of authority that begins with Christ are the church assignments made. This past week I was able to reinforce my testimony that even the 70 have been given power and authority with their callings. Even though he would undoubtedly have had endless meetings and many other things on his plate in anticipation for General Conference, Elder Golden who visited the mission two weeks ago, took the time to call my companion and I to apologize that he was unable to interview while here in the mission in person but that he would like to do so over the phone. It was a very special moment of my mission to be able to talk with him and to feel of his spirit as he gave me advice, counsel, and compliments. It never ceases to amaze me how powerfully the spirit can enter into your life and fill your soul from simple conversations, even when they are over the phone.

A lot of what he spoke about was The Spirit. As I put his counsel and advice into action, I experienced many miracles this week. We were able to be directly guided to people who were ready to receive our message. Among that group is a woman named Stephanie, who had just moved in 3 days prior, and a family of 7, who have been in there place for many years. The still small voice for me like a personal golf caddy who helps you with every aspect of the game of life. If you are a worthy and if you listen, as Elder Golden said, “You better buckle up for it will send you on one wild ride.”

Another blessing this past week was that I got to watch the new film, Meet The Mormons. It is a powerful story of the lives of 6 different families from the US and different parts of the world. It demonstrates in a very simple but powerful way how living the gospel will impact your day to day life. It literally is a part of who you are. It is not just an aspect of your life, but rather it is your life. It is amazing how someone who has had a life that is hardly similar to mine in any way could on the same hand have so much in common with me. As I talk to people from day to day it is interesting to me how much people are trying to avoid labels of any kinds these days. Which in large part is why non-denominational Christianity is on the rise. That is such a striking contrast to the world wide family that is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Truly we are the only large body of people that can in any way be described as–like the first century Christians– being of “one heart” and of “one soul.” (Acts 4:32) Not only am I okay with being labelled as a “Mormon,” but I embrace it because it reminds me that I am never standing alone.

Clearly I know that this church is true. If you would like to as well, it is as simple as this, Ask God. I know that he will answer you. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I love y’all! have a wonderful week!

Elder Joshua Cordon

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