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. :)