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