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

Monday, September 9, 2013

"hearts are changed through faith on His name"

Hello my favorite peoples!

It was a good week in Samoa. The ward is pushing along and we had another baptism!
James was baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday. He's awesome. He's 50 and married to Elisapeta, who has been a member of the Church all her life. She is Samoan, but he's not. He's really into fitness and is super active. Last week at our Ward "pikiniki", he was playing rugby with the young men. (pretty impressive, my friends) They have a son named Shaun, who is 14 and also a member of the church (Shaun reminds me a lot of Tanner Bouck. they look alike and both love basketball) . James had actually been investigating the church for about 15 years, but just before I came into the ward he accepted the invitation to be baptized. It was a great baptismal service, but what stood out to me was the confirmation during the Sacrament meeting the next day. Elder Browning and I stood in to help in the Priesthood ordinance, and Bishop Afutiti performed the confirmation. As we layed our hands upon his head, I felt the power of the Priesthood bless James. I felt so excited for him, because he's already living the faithful life he should. But the covenant he made with God is what will make the difference for the rest of his eternal life.

I love covenants! :) To me, a covenant means promised blessings from Heaven, guaranteed by righteousness. James now has the promised blessing of the gift of the Holy Ghost. A member of the Godhead will now be his teacher, guide, and comfort as long as he keeps being faithful. Man, there's nothing better! When the confirmation was over, and we returned to our seats, I could envision the eternal blessings that James' family would now receive. I could picture them living happily, progressing closer to Jesus Christ, and eventually entering a Holy Temple of the Lord to make more promises with our heavenly Father. :)

This is the last week of the transfer, so I'll find out this weekend whether I'm staying in this ward or moving. I love being a missionary. everyday I learn more about myself and about His great plan for us. Ah, it's all true. God loves us. The Savior loves us. They gave us the Book of Mormon. This is the true church of the Redeemer of Israel, even Iesu Keriso—my 2 favorite words in the Samoan language. :)

Elder Judd

James and Elisapeta after the baptism!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"I have nourished it this long time, and it hath brought forth much fruit"

Talofa sweet friends of the earth,

There have been many tender mercies of the Lord this week. On Monday we had dinner and family home evening with the Moleli family. I love Samoan families because their family home evenings are so great. Sometimes we'll sing opening hymns in Samoan, and most families will recite scriptures together. It's crazy to see kids have passages of scriptures memorized that I don't even know from memory! So impressive. And the families always give us time to share a message we've prepared. At the Moleli's we shared a lesson about the Book of Mormon. We've been teaching a lot about the Book of Mormon lately, actually. I love the book of Mormon! We taught about how the way to build our faoundation of faith on Jesus Christ is to do the little things: keep his commandments, go to church, say your prayers, and read the scriptures,especially the Book of Mormon, as a family and by yourself.

After the lesson we split into 2 teams and played Family Fued. it was really fun. :) It made me think of my own family and reminded me why I love the gospel... becuase families can be together forever! God is literally the father of our spirits and he wants us to return to live with him someday. he also wants us to live happy lives with our families on earth, which we can do by following the teachings of the Savior. :)

On Friday I went on an exchange with Elder Seright. I was on bike for the 3rd time on my mission! We had a really great lesson with a lady named Sister Doyle, who is struggling with various medical condtions. we shared the mormon message, "A Book of Mormon story" ( The spirit was so strong, and we testified of the power that comes when we feast upon and apply the words of Christ found in the Book of Mormon. When we read it, every problem in our life begins to shrink.

This happened with Randall and Dana, whom I taught in my last area. I had the privilege on Saturday to go back to Redlands to view their marriage, then baptism. It was such a good experience. At the end of the baptismal service, Randall bore his tesitmony that he knew that he had found his true home. The Book of Mormon has really changed his life. When we started to teach him he told us of how they went to a cousin's birthday party and felt tempted to drink the alcohol there. But he knew that it was wrong. So they hurried home and read from the Book of Mormon. He said he just felt good whenever he read it, and he felt like all temptations started to get weaker, while he grew stronger. The power of the Book of Mormon is real! Ah, I wish everyone would read it. Everyday. It changes lives because the Savior changes lives, and the words in the Book of Mormon are his words in purity.

“I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness.”
—Marion G. Romney

Elder Judd

Here's pictures of the day it rained this week.  
second time to rain on my mission. 

Elders Langi and Seright. 

view from my apartment.