Monday, December 30, 2013

"For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee."

Hello family and friends,
This week has been incredible. For those who don't know, Christmas was last week. We made about 400 chocolate chip cookies. Probably more than I've made in my entire life before my mission. We spent most of both the 24th and 25th baking, and writing notes, then delivering them to people. Best Christmas ever. Nothing better than losing yourself in service.
We have been finding so many Samoans lately. The Lord is hastening His work. I wish I could express everything that happened this week, but here's just a taste of a few miracles:
We met another Joe! We went to a house with Deelorean that we thought a Samoan lived at, then met Joe next door. The family we were looking for had moved, but we spoke with Joe for a bit. Joe was Samoan! Coincidence? I think not. Found out he had kids in Texas. Where? MCKINNEY. My heart and soul died in half a second. Coincidence? I think not. He said we could come back to share a message about the Savior.
We also visited Uilisone with a brother from the ward who knew him. Because of this great member friend, HE OPENED THE DOOR. I saw his face for the first time in my life. I shook his hand. We hand a solid discussion. He had a great beard. The brother with us offered to fix his car for free. Uilisone opened up, literally and figuratively. This was a huge step for him. But I know that it was by small and simple ways that the Lord was able to open his heart.
We met a guy named Malaki 2 weeks ago, and we visited him again on Friday. He's older, and apparently he was baptized in the 70s in New Zealand. He sang a few Samoan songs to us as he played guitar. We read Mosiah 5 with him. He has a solid testimony, but we're trying the help in become more converted to the Lord. Basically, we're trying to help him put that tesimony to action. He's coming along slowly but surely.
Yesterday, Monday, we had a mission conference again. It was just a short notice thing that we found out about last week. Elder Kent F. Richards of the second quorum of the 70 came and trained us about teaching simply. I feel refreshed. I am so, so excited to be a better, more effective servant and minister of the Lord.
Simple stuff this week: God loves us. We are His children. When we obey Him, we prosper. :)
I love you all,
Elder Judd

Monday, December 23, 2013

"and His name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of

Manuia le Kerisimasi! :)
I am so pumped for this week. Christmas time is the best because so many people are focused on looking outside themselves and helping others. In other words: Love. Love is what brings us together today. And that's what the Savior's message is all about. He promised:
"Come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I will receive you."
We will be "encircled about eternally in the arms of His love."
I felt that this week with Sai. We stopped by Tuesday night and read a chapter of the Book of Momon with him. Sai is doing SO well. He's cruising along in the Book of Mormon and just radiates with a new light. He was in Alma 22. We read about how the powerhouse missionary Aaron taught King Lamoni's father. Sai practically taught us. He noticed that when King Lamoni's father felt the Spirit, he said:
"What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day? Behold, said he, I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy."
Sai explained that in his experience, as soon as somebody feels the Spirit of God, it's immediately delicious to them.  The Spirit is just like that.  And if we really want to be happy and have the Holy Ghost as our constant companion, we have to be willing to give our whole soul to the Lord. That's what he's asked.
Friday was awesome. We brought Deelorean out with us most of the day. He's awesome. He's been on a mini mission in San Jose for the last few months and is just waiting for his mission call. So many miracles with this guy.
We went to a family that we found in our Area Book that missionaries had met years before. A young guy named Jerome answered. I felt like I'd met him before. His facial hair made him look 25. He was 17. He let us in and we sat down with him and some of his cousins. We found out their father passed away a month ago. We shared "A Book of Mormon Story" with him and testified that he could live with his family forever. Death is not the end. He said he'd read the Book of Mormon. The Spirit was so strong in their home. I felt so much compassion for Jerome. I wanted to help him. I can't imagine the pain he must feel now, but I do know that the Jesus Christ knows his complete soul. Jerome is going out of town until January, so I hope he reads the Book of Mormon because it'll allow the Savior to heal him. Anyone who reads the Book of Mormon will come to know the Savior in a very real way. 

That night we had a ward Christmas party. We had been inviting EVERYONE. Uilisone promised to be there, but he wasn't. But, his sister was. Which was awesome because she's less active too. And Simi was there, who we just met this week. And Ioga and Nerissa were there. And Moli and Sabrinna and Omar were there. And it was just great. the Relief Society gave us each a tie, and the youth performed dances, and it was just fun.
This week should be full of miracles. We plan to make tons of cookies and deliver them to every Samoan in the world. And our world is the Inland Empire of California. It should be fun. :)
Heavenly Father loves you unconditionally! He hears your prayers and answers them! The Savior lives! This is His work! I know it's true! :)
Elder Judd

Monday, December 16, 2013

"Arise and come forth unto me, ... that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet."

Hello sweet friends of the earth,

First off. Surprise exchange call came on Tuesday night! The Assistants to the President told us that Elder Aguilar would now be transferred to Yucaipa and I would be training again. So, on Wednesday, I picked up my new companion, Elder Bentley, from Colorado Springs. I really love this guy. He's a super fast learner and we just get along really well. :)

This transfer hit the ground running. As soon as E. Bentley got here we took Ross out with us and tried to visit Joe. Sadly, he wasn't home. BUT, we talked to a bunch of people in the complex full of Samoans. They are really warming up to us. We ran into a former investigator (someone who used to meet with missionaries) and her family is fine if we stop by again. AND as we were leaving, Naia came out of his apartment. Remember Naia? (Young guy--met with us once, but we lost contact?) We hadn't seen in him forever, so we sat and chatted with him. He still had the Book of Mormon we gave him, so we read 1 Nephi 3 with him. It was awesome. And he said he'd read 3 Nephi 11.

Friday was great too. We went to teach Poe and his wife, Shearlet, but Shearlet had just woken up and never came out of her room. So we taught Poe. It was awesome because we've never been able to teach him before. We got to discuss the Priesthood and how amazing it would be if he worked to be worthy to baptize his wife. He said he'd do it. So we're excited to see him do the little things, like reading the Book of Mormon and pray everyday. 

Later we saw Naia again. We were pumped when we saw him come out of his apartment with pages of colored notes sticking out of his book of mormon. He loved it. And he even called up his Mormon cousin to ask her questions about it all. She told him it was true. Naia is so open now. He felt like the chapter made him want to do better to follow Christ. He was so sincere. It was just a powerful visit.

We also stopped by Sai's place in the evening to find 2 bikes parked on his doorstep...
Missionaries. I could smell the Spirit from a mile away. :) They invited us in right in the middle of a lesson with the English missionaries from that area. We found out the other missionaries were biking and felt impressed to turn onto Sai's street. Sai's family saw them and so they called out, "Elders!" The visit was just tender. Sai and Amy kept on telling me how grateful they were for us, but I knew that really, they were grateful for the Savior. They also knew it wasn't a coincidence that 2 different sets of Elders felt spiritual impressions to come by their place, which I hope helped Amy to consider taking lessons with missionaries again. :)

My favorite part of this week was a visit Saturday afternoon. Like every week, we stopped by Uilisone. Every time we go over there we hear the chihuahuas barking inside and we wait to see if someone will answer the door. We were out with Bro. Moleli and the same thing happened. We knocked a few times, heard the dogs, and Bro. Moleli was like, "Let's go. There's nobody here."

But something just made me really determined to keep knocking. We knocked several more times. Finally I called through the doors, "Willy! Uilisone!" I heard a groan. Then a "What? Who is it?"

"It's the missionaries. We want to talk for a bit."

We spoke through the front door and could barely hear him. He had been sleeping on his couch. Slowly, very slowly, we squeezed more conversation out of him until he came and opened his door (leaving the screen door closed, as usual). Then, we asked him what he thought about faith. He really opened up. He told us he had a testimony and knew it was all true. He said he'd read Alma 32 and come to our ward Christmas party. AND. HE. SAID. THE. CLOSING. PRAYER. :) :) Thru the screen door! It was one of my favorite lessons of my mission. :) 

Anywho, gotta go. I love you all. The Savior lives. This is His work. :)

Elder Judd

also, pics:

me and E. Bentley

Me and Cuddles, a python this guy in a park carried around. From my exchange with E. Bolingbroke. :)

Monday, December 9, 2013

"And their hearts were swollen with joy ... because of the great goodness of God"


I get to stay another transfer in Samoa with Elder Aguilar! And I've already been serving as a missionary for 6 months! Time is going by way too fast.

On Wednesday I went on an exchange with Elder Langi. I love this guy so much. Out of all the missionaries I know in this mission, I've probably served around Elder Langi the longest. By the end of this transfer we will have lived in the same apartment for 6 months. Yeah, it's almost as if we're friends or something.

Anyway, our exchange was awesome. We brought Ross out with us and worked in San Bernardino. At the apartment complex full of Samoans that I mention all the time (which we just refer to as, "The Complex full of Samoans") we met a young guy named Satili. Just moved from Samoa. We think he's the grandson of this less active woman we've been trying to track down. But we're excited because he said we could stop by again to get to know him more. 

We also went to Loma Linda and met Spencer. Remember Skyler from a few weeks ago? Whom I recognized as soon as I met him? Well, Spencer is his brother. This family is supposed to hear the gospel, I know it. Spencer is super prepared. He's been to church many times in the past with his friend Casey, who is a member in our ward whose family started going to an English ward because the drive is too far. So basically, Spencer said we could come by again soon.
Later, we taught Nerissa and Ioga and their kids again. We were really hoping to have Sai come out with us to visit them, but we couldn't get ahold of him. We talked about covenants. It was so great. Ioga is totally warming up to us. He has so much faith in Christ. We asked him when he's felt the spirit in his life, and the moment was just sweet. It got quiet. He told us that in the moments when he's trying his best and doing everything he can during a difficult time and things still don't seem to be working out, he's felt a peace come to him and say, almost as a whisper, "Everything is going to be okay." 

It's true. The Savior has promised: "I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee." He will come to us as we come to Him.

Thursday was awesome too. MLC. Always the best thing ever. Then, in the evening we stopped by Sai. We found out that he had the craziest night on Wednesday, which was the reason we couldn't get ahold of him. On his long way home from work a police officer pulled him over for DUI, though he hadn't been under the influence of anything. He told the officer that he doesn't drink because he's a Mormon. the officer didn't believe him. after a breathalyzer test and everything, he proved to be clean, but the officer still arrested him. Sai told us how wrong it felt to be handcuffed, then ordered around and mocked by the officers at the station. He felt alone and mistreated and misunderstood and falsely accused. But then in a small moment during all of this, he told us, everything seemed to still as the thought came:

"This is how He felt."

He explained that more powerfully than ever before, he knew that the Savior knew him. He knew that He was there. 

I know He is there. You are never alone. I can add my personal witness to the truth the Elder Jeffrey R. Holland stated:

"However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines."

I wish I could express every amazing thing that happens each week, but I'm out of time. I love you all. :)

Elder Judd

p.s. Elder Aguilar gave a powerhouse talk about covenants in Sacrament Meeting this Sunday. :)

Monday, December 2, 2013

"that they shall again be brought to the true knowledge, which is the knowledge of their Redeemer, and their great and true shepherd"

Malo soifua!

What a week, I tell ya. Many blessings and counting.

Tuesday, we visited some less active members, Waikiki and Koko. Really cool folks with really cool names, but I'm still confused about who was who. I think the husband was Koko. I think... They were super kind and started to bring food out to us as soon as we sat down, which isn't uncommon here. Samoans are SO generous!

On Wednesday I went on an exchange with Elder McCall from Seattle. I LOVE this guy. He has always been a missionary I've looked up to and just really respected. Working in his area was awesome. We went and visited this guy named Dave who hasn't been to church in years. He spends most of his time working on this old workshop (kind of like a baby Home Depot that's privately owned). We helped him with side jobs and just talked for a bit. I could tell he was from Texas from his accent. Found out he's from Carthage! Like the movie, Bernie! He wasn't too interested in religion, but I know the Lord is working in his heart. 

We also had dinner with the Land family. Brother Land is the stake patriarch. The spirit was so strong in their home. It just felt like a home of a family built on love. AND, I found out the Lands have a son in MCKINNEY, TX! Coincidence? I think not! It was just a Texas day, because later we visited a family in the ward and I found out the wife grew up in Plano.

And while I was out with Elder McCall, his companion Elder Owens worked with Elder Aguilar in Samoa. And Elder Owens is Samoan, so you better believe they had a powerhouse day. He and Elder Aguilar were able to get a lot of work done, and he gave us names and addresses of other Samoans he knew in the area. It was great. 

Thanksgiving day was great. Had lots to eat. Taro, fa'i, crab, turkey, rice, and more. Much to be grateful for.

Friday was probably my favorite day ever. We brought Bro. Tia out with us and went to teach Jake. But he wasn't home. So we went through back up plan after back up plan. Nobody. I was getting sad for Bro. Tia because we had brought him an hour away from his home to see people. BUT, as we were driving away towards our last back up, I had a feeling to stop by this apartment complex full of Samoan families. We go by every so often, but most of the time everyone just scurries inside and closes the doors. So we drove to the complex, and found some Samoan women sitting outside whom we'd met before. We talked with them, then all of a sudden one named Sofia was like, "Oh, you should visit Joe!" 

Then another said,"Yeah! Go to Joe!"

I'm thinking, "Who's Joe?

Then asked, "Who's Joe?"

They told us that Joe just moved in from Long Beach and is Mormon and has been looking to come back to church. Sofia got up and said she'd introduce us. She knocked on his door and we met Joe. It was one of those moments where the world feels exciting and you just know that something amazing is about to happen. As soon as I met him I knew that Heavenly Father's hand was actively working in Joe's life. Joe was young and much thinner than the stereotypical Samoan. He was quiet and very polite. He told us that he'd been away from the church for a long time, but felt that it's time he came back. He said he never lost his testimony. He said that his mom has always told him that it's still not too late to serve a mission. I felt deep peace as we spoke with him and knew that the Savior loved him so, so much. Maybe more powerfully than ever before as a missionary, as I sat in Joe's place, I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be on earth at that moment. There was nowhere else I would have rather been. Bro. Tia gave him a hardback copy of the scriptures and he said he'd read Alma 36. I am so excited to meet with him more this week.

What I love about the gospel of Jesus Christ is the knowledge that God is literally our Father in Heaven. He cares about what we care about. He hears our prayers. He answers them. I don't know everything, but I do know that this is true. I have felt His love by the power of the Holy Ghost enough times to know that He is there.

So friends, if you haven't prayed in a while, please do. Open your heart to Him. Pour out your soul with your concerns and worries. He understands. He's there.
He has promised:

"I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led."

Elder Judd

Monday, November 25, 2013

"Peace, peace be unto you, because of your faith in my well Beloved, who was from the foundation of the world."


This week was awesome. Some of the happiest moments I've had. Also, it's been much colder lately, which I love. But I think I'm too adjusted to the California warmth because I've been feeling cold at 50 degrees. (Emily probably laughs at this weather)

But Monday started this week great. We went to Riverside to see this guy named Erik. I met Erik at a wedding several months ago, but totally spaced it and didn't get any of his contact information. He's not a member of the church but has family that is. Luckily, after asking around, we were able to get a hold of his address. We've been trying for weeks to contact him but nobody has been home until Monday. It was the greatest tender mercy. He said we could come back again on Saturday.

Tuesday, we brought Ross out with us again, which was AWESOME. Ross is the best. He'll be a powerhouse missionary. we weren't able to teach any lessons while we were out, but we found some Samoan families that were just baptized in an English ward out here, so it was cool. 

Wednesday, I went on an exchange with the Assistants to the President, which was seriously amazing. I was with Elder Bolingbroke in the his area. Which is a Spanish branch. And I don't speak Spanish. I don't even speak Samoan. It was awesome. E. Bolingbroke did pretty much all the talking everywhere we went. Every time we finished talking to somebody and were walking somewhere else, I would tell him whatever I picked up from the conversation. Like "They have a lemon tree," or "Her daughter lives there too," or "He's catholic." It was funny. 

But even though I didn't understand much of what was said, I know I understood the language of the Spirit. The impressions I felt from the Holy Ghost were real, I felt so much love for the people we worked with, though I hardly knew them.

On Saturday we went to a ward Relief Society Social. I remember feeling so glad to be in this ward. I looked around at all the members and realized how much I love these people. I love the gospel! I love this work! :)

After the party we brought Bro. Moleli out with us to see Erik again. They hit it off. They had so much to talk about and we were able to meet Erik's family. Tina, his wife, went to an LDS college and has a lot of Mormon friends and family. Erik said his dad is a Methodist Minister in Samoa, and that he (Erik) has been baptized 5 times into different churches. He said he's open to whatever we have to teach him. They said we could come by again anytime. We're so excited to teach them. I know they have been prepared by the Lord to hear his Gospel.

That's all for this week. I'm pumped for Thanksgiving. Hopefully I don't explode from eating so much. Just kidding, Mom. :)

Love you all!

Elder Judd

Monday, November 18, 2013

"All victory and glory is brought to pass unto you through your diligence, faithfulness, and prayers of faith."

Talofa lava!
Mm. This week was fantastic. PACKED with miracles and tender mercies, despite many disappointments.
First off, we had a Mission Conference on Saturday. All the missionaries in mission came to one chapel to listen to and have discussion with the Mission Presidency and 4 of the 7 Stake Presidents in the mission. Powerful, powerful meeting, my friends. Loads of revelation. What stood out to me was that the Lord is mindful of everybody. He knows his children. He cares about what we care about. He is in the details of our lives.
Elder Aguilar and I have been working our tails off to find new people to teach. We're convinced that if we try to exhaust every resource we have, the Lord will guide us to people who are ready to hear the gospel. So far, it's happening.
Miracle #1: Wednesday. We went by to see Poe and schedule an appointment with him and his wife whom he wants baptized. Our appointments with him have been falling through for weeks. We knocked at his door. Bam. Shearlet, his wife, answered. It was our first time meeting her. Before we said anything, she was already asking when we could meet.
Miracle #2: Wednesday. We brought Ross out with us. Ross is awesome and he's preparing for his own missionary service. We went to Redlands and Loma Linda to see a former investigator (someone who used to meet with missionaries), but the family said to come back later, which they've said many times. We were about to leave the complex when E. Aguilar and Ross noticed a sister from the Ward, standing out in the complex courtyard. She hid her cigarette away as we came up to her. We talked for a bit to ask how she was doing, then asked if she knew any other Samoan families in the area. She gave us three apartments to try! :O THREE! Answer to prayer. So we went to work:
Apt.1: Probably one of the coolest things that's happened to me. A young man, probably 19 or 20, opens the door. In the very moment I saw him my mind flashed to memories from my first transfer, when I served in Redlands and Loma Linda. I knew him. Months ago I had met him in the same complex courtyard. He looked sad, but as we spoke with him he would smile slightly (I love making people smile; it's probably one of my favorite things in the world to do). We gave him a pass-along card and a pamphlet to read. We saw him a few other times as we worked in that area, but each time he would tell us that he would ask his mom if his family could meet with us. At the time, I didn't know he was Samoan, and I had no idea I would serve in a Samoan ward. This time, I couldn't remember his name. But I reached out my hand to greet him anyways and it just came out of my mouth: "Skyler!" We spoke briefly and set up a time to see his family on Sunday. Incredible. 
Apt. 2: A lady answered the door. We didn't have to say much before she said, "I have some family who are Mormons." We set up a time to meet.
Apt. 3: A lady cracked the door open and said the people we were looking for were in Hawaii. We asked when they'd be back, but she just closed the door. We're used to that. You win some, you lose some, haha. I'm just grateful that we met so many people. :)
Miracle #3: Uilisone is a less active member that we've beening stopping by to see for months. Everytime we came he would either quietly close the real door behind the screen door (because every CA home has a screen door), not answer, or very briefly answer. But lately every time we could talk to him we would tell him that he is loved, he is important, and he is needed. Finally, on Friday, he opened the door again. we talked through his screen door as usual, but we really tried to listen to him. We tried to understand him. He spoke with us about the Church. Before we left, we asked if we could share some scriptures. We shared some of Mosiah 5 and prayed with him. It was the first lesson I've ever taught that I wasn't able to see who I was teaching. Funny stuff. :)  
Miracle #4: POE CAME TO CHURCH! Not only that, but he came in a white shirt and tie. With his long hair in a bun. Crazy. He had stopped coming because someone told him to be more neat and comely.So much more happened than I have time to write about. I also prayed in Sacrament meeting in Samoan, which was cool.
Anyway, this work is true. the Book of Mormon is true. Being a missionary is the hardest thing I've ever had to do, but I love it beyond expression. I love my Savior. I know He lives.
Elder Judd

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

"they are young, and their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God continually"


This week was tough, but SO great. Last week, Pres. Van Cott challenged the whole mission to try to find 8 new investigators by our mission conference this Saturday, so we've been working and praying hard for miracles. And I've already seen them. And I love working with Elder Aguilar. He's so funny. He reminds me of Tyson Bouck and Robert Kemsley. We just have a lot of fun. Our companionship unity is out the roof.

On Monday night we stopped by Sai and found him right in the middle of a lesson with his Home Teachers! YES! Members doing their duties! :) We didn't teach him anything because he was just taught, but it really made my day to catch faithful home teachers in the very act of serving.

On Wednesday we brought Bro Taulia out with us, who is awesome. He served a mission in California too, Tongan speaking. For the next few months he's waiting to go back to Samoa, so he's got nothing going on right now. So we're bringing him out with us. HE IS AWESOME. I love having him with us because he's fluent in Samoan and he's totally a people person. And he's a great teacher with a firm testimony of the Savior.

So, when we were with him we tried to visit people that we knew would be tough to see on our own (because we don't speak Samoan). We went to San Bernardino to this small community of Samoan families E. Browning and I found, but nobody was very interested. We ran into Naia there, but it seems like he's not really into meeting with us. But we're not giving up on him. We also went to this street that a LA member told us some Samoans lived on, but he didn't know where, exactly. We went to the street and looked for a house that matched what the LA described it as. Just as we thought we found the right house, we see a Polynesian guy pulling out of his driveway on the other side of the street! He left, but we knocked at his house. His wife answered the door and let us in. Her named was Norma. We found out she used to be a member of the church, and still believes it is true, but her husband is the pastor at another church. Her husband came back home after a little while and Bro. Taulia spoke to them both in Samoan. I don't know everything that was said, but apparently Norma said that they really respect our church and are open to us stopping by whenever. So, it was cool. And even if we aren't able to teach them, meeting them opens up so many doors for us to find more Samoans.

Samoan people are cool because they seem to know all the other Samoan people around the area. So the biggest way we find people is to ask EVERYBODY to refer us to friends of theirs that we could teach.

On Thursday I went to Mission Leadership Council (MLC) for the first time. Soooo awesome. In MLC, the Mission President trains all the Zone leaders and Sister Training Leaders and we discuss the needs of the mission and the direction the work is going. Pres. Van Cott said something about faith that really stood out to me. He explained that the Spirit will tell us "no" more than it will tell us "yes". He said that Heavenly Father helps us progress like we're going through a funnel. As we act in faith, most of the time we hit walls which just bounce us slowly closer to the small end. But, as long as we're moving in faith, we're moving forward. God cannot steer a parked car. I love that.

Funny story. So on Friday we went to Redlands to try to see referral named Keith. We rang his doorbell. No answer. We rang again. No answer again, but through the windows blinds we could tell that somebody had moved around. we waited a minute, then knocked again. suddenly, an older white guy with a funny mustache opened the blinds and said, "Sorry! I don't have any clothes on so I can't open the door!" As far as we could see he was shirtless, so we believed him. And we left promptly. It was hilarious. And we found out later from the family who referred Keith that we went to the wrong home. Whoops! :)

On Saturday we stopped by Sai's place again. We read a few pages from the Book of Mormon with him. He is doing so well. He's been sober for a few weeks, and he's been reading the Book of Mormon everyday and listening to the Mormon Channel on his way to work. This guy! :) There is such a difference in Sai from what he used to be like. The power of the word of God is REAL! The Book of Mormon and the words of living prophets will have more positive influence on our lives than anything else! Sai is living evidence of that.

On Sunday, a moment that I really loved was right as Sacrament Meeting was starting. I was reading in the Book of Mormon when Elder Aguilar tapped on my shoulder and said, "Look who's here." I turned around to find Nerissa and her kids! BAH! They came! :) Oh, it made me so happy. :)

Well, that's all I have time for. This work is God's work! the Savior's church has been restored to the earth through the prophet Joseph Smith. If you don't believe it, read the Book of Mormon for yourself. It is a witness that Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of the World and that God loves all of His children. It's just true! :)
Elder Judd

Monday, November 4, 2013

"but behold there never was a happier time among the people of Nephi" :)

Hey my people!
This week has been fantastic! It's been much different with new duties as a Zone Leader and trainer, but the work is going so well. I LOVE my new companion, Elder Aguilar. HE'S FROM  SHERMAN, TX! :O  When he told me that, I was beat. I felt so much love and joy and mercy from God all in one moment and I didn't know what to say. I was pretty nervous the whole morning of transfers becaue I didn't know what to expect and I felt intimidated by the responsibility coming my way, but God is so faithful. I knew He was/is mindful of me. He knew I would need E. Aguilar. He is so full of energy and motivation and is so willing to work and be obedient. So it's great. He came in on Tuesday and we went to our ward "trunk-or-treat" party that night and introduced him to everyone.
On Wednesday, we taught Ioga and Nerissa U. again. It went well. But it seems like Ioga is pretty comfortable where he's at with his Chirstianity. He said he'd pray about the Book of Mormon, but didn't commit to reading it. It's a start. But the awesome thing about Wednesday was that we got to have dinner with Pres. Purcell, the 1st counselor in our Stake Presidency. Nerissa had told us last week that she knew his family, so we brought the U. family up to him. Like a member missionary hero, he told us right then that he would have us over for dinner on Sunday and invite Nerissa and Ioga and their family. so we told the U. family that night and they said it'd work out.
On Thursday, we got to see Sai again and read a few chapters of the Book of Mormon with him. He's doing well, but still hasn't been coming to church, so we're just going to keep helping him. I know God is there with him.
I also interviewed someone for baptism for the first time on Thursday. (Because baptism is such an important commitment, persons working toward baptism are interviewed to make sure that the missionaries did their job to teach and that the candidate understands the principles taught). It was a 19-year-old named Jessica. It was such an amazing experience. She was SO prepared for baptism. She came in contact with the missionaries while at work at Jack-in-the-Box. She saw them in a car thought about how her family was once taught by missionaries a long time ago, so she went up and talked to them. She was taught, and her family has abandoned her. But she knows it's true. It was so humbling to be able to even play a small role in helping her towards baptism. The spirit was so strong as I listened to her, and I know she is impacting generations of her future family. The whole experience filled me with so much gratitude for my Savior and His Gospel and His Atonement for the whole rest of the night. I just can't put to words the joy and happiness I felt. There's nothing like it in the world.

Saturday was great. Bro. Moleli and his son come out and work with us every Satuday. It was awesome because we had a lesson with a former investigator named Jake who we finally contacted this week after months of trying to find him. He met with missionaries for a while, but stopped about a year ago (we don't know why). He's huge and used to play football for a local college. We taught him about the gospel of Jesus Christ, but really, the members made the difference for the lesson. The impact Bro. Moleli had was enormous, especially because he could speak in Samoan to Jake. I don't know what he said, but whatever it was, it helped. Jake said he would be baptized, but wanted to pray about a date.

On Sunday we had the dinner with Purcells and the U. Family. IT. WENT. SO. WELL. Members are magic! Pres. Purcell and Ioga had so much in common and had so much to talk about. And Merosa and Anetero (the U. daughters) hit it off with the Purcells' daughter. It was so great. I wish every member would go out of their way to help struggling families around them. Mm! I just can't express the joy I feel. :)
Anywho, I gotta go. The Gospel is true! The Savior lives! The Book of Mormon answers the questions of the soul!
Elder Judd

Monday, October 28, 2013

"yea, ye see that God will support, and keep, and preserve us, so long as we are faithful unto Him"

Hey family!
We have transfers tomorrow! I'm staying in Samoa and I'm training! But I'll pick up my new companion tomorrow. 
On Wednesday we taught Nerissa and Ioga and their family again. Nerissa is less active and her husband Ioga is not a member. Their daughters, Merosa and Anetero are active in the church and are awesome. They're just a fun family. We shared a message about the Book of Mormon and shared "A Book of Mormon Story" Mormon Message. I was so hoping that the video would help Ioga, but right as it started one of their young sons started to get pouty so Ioga had to take him aside to another room. So he missed the whole thing. :( But it was still great bc he said he wanted to know more about where the Book of Mormon came from and what it's about. He's interested! :)
Our lessons with Briana and Valerie and Naia all fell through, but we really worked on less active members this week. Bro. M., our new ward mission leader, is so great. We fasted with him on Friday for our ward mission, and he spent 4 hours going on splits with us on Saturday. I love the great faith of this man.
So with splits, Saturday was a great day. I went out with Bro. M., and Elder Browning went out with Bro, T. and Bro. A. (our elders' quorum president). We visited every less active member we could think to visit. It was awesome. We stopped by Moli, who we hadn't seen in weeks bc she's been taking care of her mom who has to stay at home. Her mother can't have visitors, so we talked for a bit on the doorstep. Moli was just thankful for us stopping by bc she's been getting cabin fever. And her son is home from the Navy for a bit, so we're planning on having a lesson with them both this week!
We also got to see Sabrinna and her husband Alex. Alex stopped taking the lessons right when I came to this area. Alex is Hispanic and they live in his parents' home. It reminded me so much of Mom's family. their house just smelled like good Mexican cooking. :) Anyway, it was a nice visit. And because Sabrinna is so strong in her faith, I know Alex will come around someday.
We got to visit Sai twice this week, which was so so great. We saw him Saturday night, first. He's been struggling a lot with past addictions, but he's been clean for about 2 weeks! We read a chapter of the book of Mormon with him. He wanted Alma 29 because he said it's his favorite. The spirit was so sweet. There is such a visible difference in Sai from when I first met him. He's just happier and more sincere in his fight to be righteous. He was feeling so good after we read with him that he was like, "okay okay, one more chapter. we've gotta get one more in." So we read Alma 28, which isn't the happiest chapter in the Book of Mormon... but the spirit was just as warm. There's just something about the Book of Mormon that allows anyone to be enlightened by the light of Christ whenever they read its pages. Every time I feel overwhelmed by life, I know I can turn to the Book of Mormon. The Words of Christ have become a stalwart friend to me. They comfort my heart when I feel like nothing else can. I never want to go another day of my life without reading at least a verse a day of the Book of Mormon.
On sunday we had FHE with Sai and his family. We shared "Dalton's Legs", another mormon message. I love that video. Everytime I watch it, I am reminded of how real the Savior's love is. He is always there, carrying us through life. He will never give up on us. Mm. It is true. :)

Well, gotta go. This work is true! Heavenly Father loves you more than you can know! :)
Elder Judd

Monday, October 21, 2013

"blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us"

Malo lava, my good kinsfolk!
This has been an incredible week. Perhaps the best of my mission. I have so much to say and so many miracles I don't know if I can even type them all.
First off, Tuesday. Last Tuesday. We had a powerhouse district meeting with a training about overcoming adversity given by the great E. Browning, my comp and district leader. (Everyone should read "Adversity" in True to the Faith; it's great) Then, we went to see Poe [Poh-eh], who is LA (less-active member) and told us last week about his wife who wants to be baptized. But he had to reschedule. So we're seeing him again soon. But, later was the highlight of the day. We had just finished emailing (because we couldn't on Monday) and we realized we were driving right by the The S. family was a referral from the Sister missionaries in the other Samoan ward in the Stake. They said that the S. family had been coming to a lot of their ward's activities but lived in my ward's boundaries. We hadn't met them yet, but we felt like we should stop by their house. We didn't know what to expect when we knocked at their door. but to our surprise, they just invited us in. Immediately, I fell in love with them. They have 6 kids and they all love basketball. And they said they love the church, but Bro. S. grew up Catholic, and they don't think his parents would like it if they joined. And the whole time we were there it felt weird that they were so open with us--we found out that they had been expecting us! They said they've had missionaries come over every Tuesday night for about a year, but the last few weeks they hadn't. So it was perfect that we came over on the right day at the right time. It was beyond cool. So, we said we'd be over again next Tuesday.
Thursday. We had interviews with Pres. Van Cott in the morning, so it was like a spiritual charge up. We went to see Poe again, but he wasn't home. But later we finally got to teach Naia, who we found a  like a month ago then ran into again last week. He's 19 and looking for a job. He's super cool and said he would read the Book of Mormon. AND he lives in a complex full of Samoan families! so there are a lot of people who we may be able to teach.
We also got to visit Sai, a LA member with a nonmember wife. It was really cool because his father-in-law and next-door-neighbor, Eddy, came and dropped off Sai's mail to him. He really liked to talk, so we chatted with him and he ended up telling us of how he came from Mexico and started his family in America. I felt a deep love for him because my grandparents (who were converts when mom was 13) had a very similar story. So I told him about them and he was way interested. I don't know their whole story, so I promised Eddy I would ask my family and find out so I can talk more about them to him.

Saturday. we got to visit Sam, another LA guy with a nonmember wife. It was a miracle because we have been trying for weeks to get in with him. It was only about a 15 minute visit, but the spirit made it so powerful. We just talked for a bit and ended up talking about how he and his parents got into the church. Apparently his grandpfather joined first. But we asked if we could research his family history and bring it to him (suggested last zone conference) and he was excited about it. He seemed to have a different light about him by the time we left. He just had a genuine smile. And he told us we could come back this week!
Then we went to the baptism of an 8-year-old boy in our ward. After we had a lesson planned with Brianna F. Shes 14 and her mom has been a member for about a year. But surprise! She brought her friend Valerie! We taught them both and Valerie is so excited to be baptized in November. Brianna wants to wait a little longer, but she'll get there because Valerie is so enthusiastic.

Sunday. We now have a new ward mission leader, Bro. M. I LOVE THE M. FAMILY!! He is so great. Just this morning he called us and told us he's been watching all the 'Hastening the Work of Salvation' videos. I am SO excited to work with him. And, we met and taught the U. family who are less active and part member. they're awesome and their daughters want to serve missions. We're meeting them again tomorrow.
Monday. we had a conference with Elder William R. Walker of the 70. It was amazing. and I wish I can explain more, but I'm out of time. I'll just say that I left feeling the best I've felt in ages. This work is true. We have a prophet, Thomas S. Monson, who speaks the word of God. Jesus Christ lives and is at the helm of his Kingdom.
I love you all!
Elder Judd
P.S. If you would like to send a note of encouragement to Elder Judd, his mission home address is: 
Elder Jacob M. Judd
7000 Central Ave. 
Highland, CA 9234

Monday, October 14, 2013

"behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness"

Hey family!
It is so great to be in Rialto, California. the weather is nice and cooling off, and it's just windy enough to feel like heaven. seriously. I love this place.
We have had so many miracles this week and the last while. We were able to eat at the F.'s home twice this week! It was sweet because we had never really gotten to know them. They have a house of 5 teen boys and a baby girl, and like the rest of this ward, they love football. It's a fun home to visit. :) It was especially great because their youngest boy just turned 8 and is about to be baptized. So, after an awesome salmon dinner, we thought it would be perfect to teach them about football. Yes, football. If you have a dream to play in the NFL, first you have to believe that it's possible. You put that faith into action by improving your skill and abilities—training, conditioning, eating better, etc. When the time comes and you've prepared yourself, you get to make your dream official by signing onto the team. After you sign, you are entitled to all the benefits that come from being an official player, like coaches, pads, and uniforms. But signing onto the best team in the NFL isn't the end—it's just the beginning! Now you get toreally start training and playing, never quitting until the end of your career, when you can be inducted into the hall of fame.
This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When we begin to exercise faith in Him and His Atonement, we will naturally want to repent of our sins—to correct the sin in our lives and turn towards His paths. Faith and repentance lead us to baptism, an ordinance that makes our commitment to lifelong discipleship official. We witness to God that we will be on His team and stay on His team. And through the ordinance of confirmation, He gives us the gift of the Holy Ghost, a member of the Godhead to be our constant companion as we live faithfully. He is our kind coach and friend. But getting onto the team is not enough. We must endure to the end, continuing to exercise faith in the savior, repenting daily, and partaking of the sacrament at church on sunday. Then, when we have done all we can, we will look back and see that we really did not do much at all. It was only in and through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ that we were cleansed and strengthened. We are nothing without Him.
We asked the F. family why they we needed to endure to the end, and their youngest son said something I think I'll never forget:
"Because He died for us."
I thought about that the rest of the night. Our Savior endured to the end, didn't He? What would happen if He hadn't? if He had thrown in the towel and said He's through—it's too hard. I am so grateful He didn't. I know He lives again, and that He conquered death. 
The rest of the week was great. We weren't able to meet with Moli because her mother was in the hospital, but we're excited to see her again tonight. And we found several new people to teach and received several referral families! I am pumped for the next few weeks. The work is really moving along in this ward. :)
Also, shout out to Coach Jones and Coach Blackman for helping me to reach my potential in cross country and wrestling in high school! :)
That's all I have time for! I love you all and I know this work is true! :)
Elder Judd

Monday, October 7, 2013

"and by [the prophets] shall all things be revealed, ... shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light"

My family!
Wasn't General Conference so great? Man, I wish we could listen to the Prophets speak everyday. Sadly, there's no time for that. But we CAN go read and study their words and receive even more personal revelation. So much guidance! So much goodness! Mm. yes.
This week was great. And kinda sick. We had some sort of cold-bug picking off the elders in my apartment one by one. But we're all doing well now. And our immune systems are stronger. :) I went on a short exchange with Elder Deardeuff, Elder Langi's companion, on Wednesday. It was sweet. We were on bike and taught this guy named Ken, who Elders Langi and Deardeuff had met a few days earlier. He let us in and we got to know him a bit while he folded his kids' clothes. He really opened up to us. He told us of so many difficulties he had in his life. We shared our testimonies of the gospel and some scriptures from the Book of Mormon. As we testified I remember a moment that was very powerful. We looked into his eyes and told him of the very real cleansing power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. I felt a deep love for this man I had just met. Everything seemed to still, just for that moment. His children hushed. Outside noises disappeared, and all I could hear was the small, sweet voice of the Holy Ghost. We communicated clearly, spirit to spirit. I know that he felt the power of the Holy Ghost. Mm. That savior's love is so pure and good!
On Thursday we had dinner with the Moleli's (I LOVE THEM!) and then a lesson with Moli and Sabrinna. Sadly, Moli and Sabrinna had both not read the Book of Mormon that week. But they are still doing so well. Sabrinna is just awesome. She does so many good things of her own free will. I don't know if I've said this before, but she started indexing right after she was baptized and she's trying to get more into family history. She faithfully comes to church and reads scriptures. AND right after church last week we saw her, she looked at us so wide-eyed with the biggest smile ever, and exclaimed she was called to be a primary teacher. She's just awesome.
Anyway, we were with Moli and Sabrinna, and neither had read. So we read where Moli had left off in the Book of mormon. 1 Nephi 16. The spirit was there. As we read, we asked about what Moli and Sabrinna thought about the story--how Nephi breaks his bow while his family traveled in the wilderness. Moli loved that the Lord never forgot about them. He always provided a way for the family to eat and prosper; that way is obedience to the commandments and scriptures. Sabrinna said that she didn't understand how all of Nephi's family just turned away from what they knew so quickly. They had come so far! they were in the wilderness being led by a compass provided by God! There's no reason to doubt. Just have faith. I learned so much that night. I felt like they were teaching us. :)

I love reading the Book of Mormon! I know that it is the word of God. Heavenly Father has made so much more of my life than I ever could as I've feasted on the words in that great book.

On Friday we wrote and delivered little notes to all the less active members in the ward, reminding them about conference. It was such a miracle because just about every person had somebody home. We were able to get in contact with some people we had been trying to find for weeks! It was such a blessing.

And there is a Samoan hymn that I really love: "Pe a Faigata Le Ala, Taumafai!" They sing it all the time but it's not in the English hymn book. BUT, I was listening to an old conference the other day and recognized the tune of a song the Mormon Tabernacle was singing. I realized it was THE song! In English! And when I heard the lyrics in my own language, my heart was touched. I thought of these sweet Samoans and how meaningfully they sing the Chorus of "If the Way Be Full of Trial, Weary Not!":

Do not weary by the way
Whatever be your lot;
There awaits a brighter day
To all, to all who weary not.
I also loved conference. I loved the counsel of Dieter F. Uchtdorf to doubt your doubts before you doubt you faith. I also lovedElder Ochoa's counsel to look up! And I really loved Elder Nielsen's enthusiasm for the gospel (exclamation point!) ! :) The gospel of Jesus Christ is true! Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ! He was a prophet! We have prophets today! We have the Priesthood authority of God today! This is his church! :)
Elder Judd
picture of elder browning and I with these candy lei's (I can't remember the Samoan term) some members gave us. very tender gift. :)

Monday, September 30, 2013

"They were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word"

Sweet friends of the earth,
This week was awesome. we had the best district meeting ever on Tuesday! Elder Browning gave an amazing training on obedience, and the spirit was so strong. every missionary walked out with a determination to stand a little taller.
On a different note, as missionaries, we keep records about lots of things, like lessons we teach, people we talk to, contact information, etc. each area in which missionaries work has an "Area Book" where the records are kept. It's kind of like a book of life for the geographical area. however, the records basically only give information about the people in the area that aren't members of the church. A little while ago, Elder Browning had the awesome idea of making a "member area book," where we could keep records and information about our visits with members. Brilliant! We felt so great about the idea. So, after much work, we've finally brought it to life, up and running. I love it! it really helps in this ward because it can be tough to find Samoan people to teach, so we try to focus on teaching and strengthening members. and keeping record of what we teach them and invite them to do is pretty important. I'm so excited to see how our member area book blesses missionaries who serve in this ward later on down the road. and yeah, it may seem  like a small thing to be excited about, but I know "that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass." :)
We also had a lesson with Moli at the Matapula's home on friday. And remember how I said she decided to read the Book of Mormon with an open heart? Well, boom. you guessed it. She's loving it. We talked with her and Sabrinna for a bit about reading the scriptures and how powerful the word of god can be. Moli loves what she's reading, and you can just see a brighter, more sincere thirst for truth in her eyes. We read Mosiah 5 with them. Mm. The spirit was there. Hearts are changing.
I know God does not lie when He tells us that our joy will be so great when we work with Him to bring souls unto Him. The joy of His work is so sweet! Sweeter and more pure than any other joy available. I LOVE being a missionary. I love preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The power of his atonement is real. The plan of happiness is perfect and true. The greatest being in the universe is our Father and loves us unconditionally. What more could we ask for? :) 
Elder Judd
We leave these shirts and ties as thank you notes at our dinner appointments. cool, huh?

Monday, September 23, 2013

"the Lord did hear their cries, and did strengthen them"

Talofa lava family and friends,
It's been a good week. There's been lots of little blessings that add up to great things.
On Wednesday we ate with the Moleli family again. I love them! The oldest daughter is waiting for her mission call and was asking all sorts of questions about missions. And the Moleli's cousin (I think) is living with them for a while, and he served in San Francisco speaking Tongan. It was cool to hear all the stories he had. We taught them about the plan of salvation, and it was awesome to hear their testimonies. All the kids want to serve missions, and they have a brother serving right now. So they were more than willing to take pamphlets about the plan of salvation and find a friend to whom they can give them. I love member missionaries!
On Thursday, we met with the Fiu family. I so wish I had met them before this week! They are so great. They joined the church about a year ago and are working to go to the temple soon. We ate with them and taught about scripture study. Bro. Fiu's English isn't perfect, but when he bore his testimony I could feel that he truly believes the gospel of Jesus Christ. He told us about how he hasn't lived in the safest areas or done the smartest things in his past, but he loves the church because it helps him raise his family well. He even wants to serve a mission with his wife someday.
Something I have loved about this area is that I've been able to really feast on the word of God. Especially this week. As I study more and more I see my desire to do good increase. It just makes me want to be better. I've come to love the scriptures. I love 'em! :) I love the Ensign too! I love the quote from Boyd K. Packer:

"True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior."
It's so true. That's all I've got! :)

Love you all,
Elder Judd

Monday, September 16, 2013

"Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not."

Hey friends!
Malo soifua! We begin a new transfer this week and I'm staying in Samoa with Elder Browning! I'm really excited for this next transfer. I feel like we're really helping to move this ward in the right direction.
On Wednesday we had dinner with the Allen family. It was really great. Bro. Allen is less active because he works on Sunday, so it was great to get to know them better. He made really good BBQ, and they gave us so much dessert. Just about a fourth of a rectangular chocolate cake and a huge bowl of vanilla ice cream. Mega full. Anyway, our lesson with them went so well. It was probably the most I've felt the spirit in a lesson while in this area. They have 2 daughters and a son, all primary age. These kids were so smart! They asked such good questions and gave profoundly simple answers to our questions. We taught them about the gospel of Jesus Christ. We asked why we have Faith in Jesus Christ and the 3-year-old son said, "so we can live with Jesus in Jesus' house."  It is so true. the spirit they had inside of them was so powerful. You could feel that they really believed what the said.
The oldest daughter later looked at us and asked in a small voice, "If Jesus was here right now and was sitting right next to you [pointing at the empty seat on the couch] what would you do?" I had to pause. I had to think. What would I do? How would I act? I felt the words of the primary song "If the savior stood beside me" come to my mind. after I moment I looked back into her eyes and told her, "I would hug Him. And I would tell him Thank you." She approved of my answer. :) There are so many kids in this ward and they all love missionaries. They call out to us by name when they see us and will rush up to talk to us. It's been hard work for me to remember all their crazy Samoan names. Haha. But kids are so sweet. I believe the Savior meant it when he taught "of such are the kingdom of heaven." 
I felt that even more when we were teaching Moli, Omar, and Sabrinna at the church on Saturday. Well, actually Sabrinna was teaching. She asked if she could prepare a leeson for her mom (Moli), and it was super cool. She taught about fear, obedience, and faith. What was extra awesome was that halfway through, the primary kids started practicing for their upcoming primary program in the chapel, and we could quietly hear the songs they sang. Oh man, I know that added to the spirit, whether Moli knew it or not. After Sabrinna taught, we really listened to Moli and her concerns. She told us she's not ready for her baptism date, yet again, and she really opened up to us. She realized that she had been reading the Book of Mormon to compare it to the bible, rather that reading it to sincerely know if it's true. So she committed to reading with an open heart. I'm really glad I'll be here another 6 weeks to see her continue to grow in her faith.
That's all folks. Heavenly Father loves us more than we could imagine. The Savior loves us just the same. They are always here for us, ready to help us back to them. They know our struggles. they are ALWAYS working in our lives for our good. Mm. it is true. :)

Love you lots,
Elder Judd