Lead Thou Me On; Reflections On Returning Home

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Dear Family and Friends,

So reality can hit you pretty hard when you get home, setting aside the fact that you have to adjust to a whole new culture and way of living, there is the pressures of finding a job, going to school, and getting married, all of which are grand feats in and of themselves. Coming home has been the greatest adventure of my life so far. In just a few short weeks (which have felt like a few short months) I have made great friends, tried new things, shared the gospel, made tons of money, traversed hundreds of miles, and so much more. Truly I believe more than ever before that God never intended for the mission to be the climax of my life, seeing has how the fullness of joy has only continued to grow since then. However; I tend to worry, my biggest worry has been whether or not I am doing what the Lord wants me to do. With so many big choices immediately placed before me, I have found it to be very difficult to feel completely confident in my decisions. Little did I know that I was about to get a bigger lesson on faith and trust in God than I ever had. Not even a day after I got home, opportunities fell into my lap, and doors started opening for me which I didn’t even know were there. These were grand testaments to me that God really does provide; nevertheless, I still found myself worrying that perhaps I wouldn’t know what to do, that I wouldn’t have enough money for school, and that I hadn’t picked the right major. Clearly, all of these feelings and thoughts are not examples of exercising faith. I definitely wanted more faith, but just wasn’t sure how to get it. Constantly the spirit and loved ones around me have encouraged me that everything would work out for the best, but I couldn’t bring myself to embrace the idea. I have definitely had my moments of great faith since I have been back and I honestly did and do believe that God will provide for me, but I have had my moments of doubt and anxiety. Suddenly, I got spiritual reinforcement. It came the way that I have told people it would come to them for almost two years, it came in a simple thought and feeling; I got my revelation by listening to a hymn during Sacrament Meeting this last Sunday. Hymns have such a powerful way of reaching the heart in a way that words cannot. It seems to heighten your spiritual sensitivity allowing the holy ghost to converse with you more clearly and specifically. In a way that it has never done before Hymn #97, Lead Thou Me On, struck my heart and filled me with a supernal sense of hope. I stared at the words as I read them, almost incapable of speaking as I realized the words sung in that song were directly meant for me at that moment. While the whole song was powerful these parts struck me the most. “Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see the distant scene–one step enough for me. I was not ever thus, nor pray’d that thou shouldst lead me on. I love to choose and see my path; but now, lead thou me on!… So long thy pow’r hath blest me, sure it still will lead me on O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till the night is gone.” As those words resonated within me I was overcome with emotion. Almost to the point of tears I thanked God for the blessing of his spirit and especially His Son, Jesus Christ. God had provided all things necessary for me to be happy and to succeed and he would continue to do so. As I listened to this song it’s message was written on “the fleshy tables of my heart”, and that truthfulness of its message was confirmed by the power of The Holy Ghost, sealing that testimony forever in my soul. Since that powerful moment, what I learned has only been confirmed as I have seen the hand of God working wonders in my life. I am still far from perfect and I still have much more to learn about faith, but I know for me, the newly returned missionary, daily relying on the spirit will, out of necessity, continue to be apart of my life. Coming home hasn’t been the easiest thing I have ever done, but I have enjoyed it and it has made me a better person; even better than who I was a little more than three weeks ago when I was still a missionary in Florida. I am know that my Heavenly Father loves me and that because of Jesus Christ, if I remain faithful, all things will work out for my gain and I will gain all that the father has in store for me. Until that time, “I do not ask to see the distant scene–one step [is] enough for me.”

I love y’all so very much!

Brother Joshua Cordon

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Children of God

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.

Aniya:
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.

Cheyenne:
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.

Marquez:
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

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Change

Dear Family and Friends,

So this was a great week! We had an investigator make the step of baptism. Tre has aloud the gospel to change his life in so many ways. He came from a very rough past but the gospel is such that the atonement covers everything. He has really come to know that God is truly our Father and that He loves and cares for us, also that we get to live with him again and that the Gospel makes that happen.

Tre at his Baptism

Tre at his Baptism

Seeing him grow towards God has really given me another witness of the glory that awaits us at the end of this life. We have this life to prepare to meet God lets not waste it.

We have another investigator Tim that is a husband of a member. He is letting his desire to know the truth grow inside him and it is wonderful to see. Funny story I almost met them in NY haha small world we live in.

So this week was my first week as District leader. What a GREAT opportunity I have to really come to know just how unworthy I am. HaHa I laugh because just how great it is that we are always going to be unworthy. This gospel is not a museum for the righteous it is a hospital for the sinners. We get to grow every day and perfect talents and abilities given to us to strength the kingdom of God. We are also given weaknesses so that we may humble ourselves to God and allow Him to shape us into who He needs us to be.

It was such a great experience at District meeting. The Spirit did so much teaching and confirming. The spirit will always teach to our understanding and in a plainness that allows testimony to be built on solid truth without any room to second guess. What a great blessing that we have, to be able to have to spirit as a guide.

Thank you for your prayers and support.

Love
Elder Steven Cordon

When the weather outside is frightful!

Dear Family and Friends,

Well we have been getting lots of rain and beautiful display of lightning, so it keeps the work interesting for sure. WE started the week off right with Monday evening having a lot of success right out with two great street contacts. 1 of which is victor lau. The next couple of days were very slow with little to no success, and we had a lot of people lined up to teach this week it seemed really likely we were going to be hitting our goals but then it seemed like every option just kinda fell out. We got to teach Gary (he has the Baptismal date) and he continues to progress everytime and he has also committed to getting to church every week, which has keep the last two weeks. Even though our other options fell through we were also able to pick up two new prospects. So there is Victor we met on monday that was a really short contact but we met him yesterday at the church with his daughter and they have committed to coming to church next week. Also we happened to find another man in a wheel chair who loves america, Peter Lo, Him and Gary could be good friends. We met him two days in a row. We actually had seen him 3 times before the fist lesson he has a motor chair and he would always cruise past us and say something like: “Happy Hunting for Converts” haha. Well we finally got him to stop on the fourth occasion and looks like he might be one of those converts. Although a lot of options fell through in the that time we were able to find these other two I feel really blessed.

Love you all back home

Elder Cordon