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
Tyrell with the Ward
Tyrell with the Elders