Blessings of Heaven

Dear Family and Friends,

I feel very grateful. In fact it is to the point that when I stop take in how grateful I feel my eyes begin to immediately moisten, my heart swells, and I seem to be at loss for words adequate enough to describe to any person the joy that fills my soul. Nothing in my life has compared to the last two years, the lessons I have learned and the experiences that I have had have shaped and molded me in unanticipated ways. I do not, and have not regretted it for a moment. I tried my best to cherish every moment, savor every friendship, learn from every mistake, roll with every setback, relish every change, and conquer every trial. I am by no means perfect, but I gave it all I had, and I don’t feel that I am leaving with any stones unturned. Granted there is much work still to do, but I have collected the necessary phone numbers, emails, and Facebook names to make sure that I can help to see it through.

Some have called missionary work a sacrifice, but I never could seem to find out why. Unless you call giving up a few poor habits, a lot of idol thoughts, many childish quirks, and a couple of my favorite songs in exchange for self discipline, a relationship with God, countless eternal friendships, a love for the scriptures, and a deep respect for the eternal nature of families as a sacrifice. I know that my Heavenly Father loves me dearly, and I know that he loves every single person on this planet with the same incomprehensible love. Helping people see that love that their Heavenly Father has for them has enlarged my capacity to see people a little more like the way Heavenly Father sees them. It also has changed my perspective on the world.

I found myself reading accounts of the suffering of the saints in Missouri and of the trials experienced by Alma and Amulek in Alma 14 yesterday for personal study. As I pondered on why I was guided to study those verses and what I could possible take as a lesson at this time in my life I had an ‘aha’ moment. The true blessings of discipleship will never be found, seen, or identified with natural eyes, it requires an eternal perspective to see the things of God. A question I often ask people is what has your faith in Jesus Christ afforded you in your life? The responses I received have varied in scope, but the have been the same in nature. All have focused on material blessings of the gospel. If you lost your wife and kids in a holocaust, were locked up in a prison and food, drink, and clothing were withheld from you, would you still feel blessed and highly favored of the Lord? As Elder Hamilton, a wise missionary companion of mine, once said, “God is less concerned with you temporal well being as he is with you spiritual well being.” The true blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ are “love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22) all of which are given in such eternal abundance that “there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10) These are among the blessings of the gospel I have received during the past two years, they are the blessings that we should strive for; they cannot be denied us regardless of the suffering that could possible be formed against us if we but remain faithful. These are the blessings that I imagine Alma and Amulek would list if they were asked the question.

I know without a doubt in my mind that Jesus Christ is the son of God. That he felt and experienced every pain, temptation, and affliction that I have ever experienced. I know from personal experience that he is always there and is ready and willing to help if we let him. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that a “man will get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book.” (Introduction to the Book of Mormon) I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet today. These things I know of myself and I will bear record of them to all who will but listen until the day I am called to return home. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I love y’all and I will see you soon.

Elder Joshua Cordon

  P.S. Wittney (middle right) was baptized Saturday and it went very well. He was baptized by his friend Christian (middle left). Sunday I was able to confirm him. He looks good in a white shirt and tie, and his future looks even better.

Who knew missionary work could be so INTENSE!!!

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

Mission Conference with Elder Zwick!! – Joshua

Dear Family and Friends,

This last week was definitely an interesting one! I don’t think it really got good until Thursday though. In order to keep missionaries out of trouble on Halloween they made a rule that we all had to be inside someone where by 6. It through and interesting twist into the scheme of things. We managed to stay busy for most of it. But we ended up getting a free hour in the apartment, at the end of it. We spent the time going through a Halloween gift basket that a wonderful sister in the ward put together for us, and I tied the first few notes of my paracord scripture case that I am making for Stefan (who had his baby this week!) as a baptism gift. It is going to be sweet! haha

Friday was simply amazing! We had the blessed opportunity to go to Gainesville for a spectacular Mission Conference that was very much enlightening. It was put on by Elder Zwick. He is the executive director of the Missionary Department. He is a very powerful speaker and he gave some very insightful comments. I got the opportunity to participate with Elder Barcala, by doing a brief training on listening to the spirit. It was a wonderful opportunity for me and I hope that it also helped somebody else. Besides being able to meet Elder Zwick, I got to see President and Sister Craig which is always a wonderful thing, as well as Elder Newbold! We got to chat it up as I filled him in on the latest and greatest that is happening in Deep Creek.

One of the highlights of the conference was the talk by Elder Zwick on sanctification. He taught that sanctification begins by living the Law of Sacrifice. He defined the Law of Sacrifice for missionaries as a perfect use of the Lord’s time. I did a lot of reflection about how I could use the Lord’s time in a more productive and effective way. He also showed us one of the fully loaded Ipad-minis that we will be getting very shortly which will be super awesome!

After the conference and before the evening devotional we got to go procelyting on UF’s campus! We had some good success actually. 2 new gators in only 1 1/2 hours 🙂

My miracle is that on saturday we were trying to contact a potential investigator, but his house was empty and apparently he had moved out only a few days before. We went over to talk to the neighbor who informed us and it turns out that he is a less-active member. He is actually one of the 3 Ensey brothers who we have ran into bumped into randomly over the last month. His brother Thomas actually just moved into the that he was at, and so we talked to them and met his fiance and her daughter. We also were able to give Thomas a blessing of healing for his ankle because he sprained it. We went back on Sunday and had a great lesson with them! and then they came to the CES dinner and broadcast at the stake center with us! We have another lesson with them today! Finally another family to work with! I love families! Plus their little girl Nevaeh is possibly one of the most darling 5 year olds I have ever met! God definitely put us in their path and they are so ready for the Gospel right now!

I love this work so much! I know that true happiness and peace in this life comes from living the gospel. I know from experience that this is true. I know with my whole heart that, “I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life.” (3 Nephi 5:13) I love you all and I hope that you have a great week!

Love Y’All

Elder Joshua Cordon