Monday, January 27, 2014

"because of my Spirit he shall know that these things are true"

Hello aiga ma uo,

Things are great in Samoa, as always. We're working hard to find more people to teach, and I'm working hard to learn the language.

I love working with E. Pauga. This guy is great. He sings better than Bruno Mars, and he's a powerhouse teacher. He's just fun to work with.

On Tuesday, Elder Bentley and I taught Sofia the restoration. We challenged her to pray about the things we taught, and she gladly agreed. She completely believes that God answers prayers. He does! I know he does. Heavenly Father cares about what we care about. You can ask Him the questions of your soul. And if you ask "with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost." :)

On Wednesday, we had dinner with the Afutiti's, who had also invited the Otele's. It was great. Bro. Otele is doing really well and has been accepting the gospel so far. And even though I don't know most of what was said that night, I know what was felt. Lots of laughs and smiles. I'm grateful for kindness. I'm also grateful for a missionary-minded Bishop who loves the people around him.

Jerome got back in town this week! He was in Everett, WA for a while. We caught him at home Friday night. He was busy painting some rooms for his mom, so we set up an appointment for next week. On his way home for Washington, he hit Portland when he realized he forgot his copy of the Book of Mormon. So, being the stud that Jerome is, he drove all the way back to get it. He's been reading faithfully. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father guided us to Jerome and his family. I am so grateful for the privilege to teach him the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We had a lesson with Moli for the first time in months! She has been super busy. But we had a good visit with her. She feels like she's at a point where she doesn't know what more God wants here to do. She has been reading the Book of Mormon and believes it is from God, but it seems like she wants a definite knowledge of the path to take. She had been so close to baptism in August, but felt scared.

So, we taught her about the Savior. He knows what it's like to feel alone.

Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, Lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

There is no struggle that the Savior does not understand. Though we may not feel the fullness of His love at every moment of the day, He is there. We must learn to choose the right even when it's difficult. We must learn "to be faithful in the dark."

He lives. He loves us. The Holy Ghost testifies of Him.


Elder Judd

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"Go to work and build"

Hey all you people,

I love California and I love the Gospel. Right now I have California and the Gospel together, so you better believe life is great.

Transfers are tomorrow! And I'm staying in Samoa! But, Elder Bentley is headed out to the desert. We've worked really hard and made a lot of good memories together, so it's sad to see him go. And my new companion will be Elder Pauga! I'm pumped to work with him. When I came into this ward, I took Elder Pauga's place, so he's actually already served here for a while! Now the Lord has called him back into this Samoan ward for the last 6 weeks of his mission. 

On Wednesday, we started teaching a man who only speaks Samoan. His family was baptized a while ago and started coming to our ward, so Bishop invited him to take the lessons with us. So we had an older couple, the Lata's, helped us teach and translated for us. We did everything we could to teach simply so that our words could be translated simply. It was amazing to feel the Spirit testify with power as we bore simple testimony.

"I know that Joseph Smith saw God. Jesus is the Christ. God loves you. When you read the Book of Mormon, you feel that love. The Book of Mormon is true. I know these things by the power of the Holy Ghost."

E. Pauga is coming a the perfect time. He's fluent in Samoan and Tongan. So, now we can play a much more active role in teaching this man. And because this is Elder Pauga's last transfer, I will likely stay here after he leaves. So, Pres. Van Cott gave me official "ok go" to study Samoan! :) 

On Sunday we had a special Stake Conference that was a braodcast for Southern California. Elder Neil L. Andersen spoke and I thought of Hermana Judd, who just saw him in person. Pres. Henry B. Eyring also spoke about reaching out to our loved ones before it's too late. 

Sunday evening we had dinner with the M. family and Chanelle, their son's fiance. Chanelle is Buddhist. We shared a Mormon Message about temples. We talked about the great blessings come from Temples and how families can be together forever. Like the powerhouse missionary he is, Elder Bentley boldly asked Chanelle, "What would you be willing to do to be with your family forever?"

She said, "Well, I feel like the first thing I need to do is get baptized. But I didn't grow up with much religion, so I just want to keep coming to church to get more understanding before I do."

My soul did a backflip. We hadn't even mentioned baptism. Furthermore, we will be beginning her lessons very soon. :)

To anyone who's reading today, I hereby challenge you to read the Book of Mormon. No matter who you are, it will change you life. Jesus Christ changes lives. This is true. :)

Elder Judd

Monday, January 13, 2014

"surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God"

Hello family!

I never want to stop being a missionary. I love it.

I'm so grateful for Pres. Van Cott. We had interviews with him this week, and I walked away filled with purpose, direction, and a determination to do and be better. I firmly believe that in many cases, it is not so important where a missionary serves his mission, but who his mission president is.

I'll cut to the chase. Here's some cool stories from lenei vaiaso:

Tuesday. Out working with a soon-to-be-missionary-Ben and had a feeling to visit a less active guy (Joe L.) we hadn't planned to visit. We followed the prompting, which took us to The Complex Full of Samoans. We ran into Sofia and Moe, the 2 ladies that referred us to Joe many weeks ago. We've seen them just about every week for the last several months, but this time they had a bunch of questions – about
missionaries, temples, and pork. Testimonies borne. Lesson scheduled for tomorrow. :)

Friday, on an exchange with the famous E. McCall the great. Driving in Ontario between visits, we had a feeling to turn right. We keep driving. He see's an Ula (Samoan "Lei") hanging from the mirror of the car beside us. Driver: Polynesian female. We act quickly. We follow her to a gas station. We pretend to act natural and "look at which water we should buy" while we wait for her to finish in the restroom. She comes out and says, "Elders!" Her name was Audrey, self-proclaimed less-active from a nearby Young Single Adult ward. Her family name was one we've been trying to find for ages. Definitely Samoan. Definitely inspired. Definitely didn't buy any water.

Saturday. Stopped by Jake, who we haven't seen in forever. We talk about faith. Great discussion, and great inspired questions from E. Bentley. Jake started explaining a metaphor about driving toward your destination and what distractions can come. After talking about how keeping God's commandments gets us where we want to go, we ask:
"So what is your destination?"
He paused. He thought. He answered: "That's a good question." He told us he didn't know where he wanted to go in life. Jake has never been this open. I am so grateful for the Holy Ghost, who teaches to the heart.

Later Saturday, we dropped by The Complex Full of Samoans. We found a guy named Tei chilling in the corner of the courtyard. Like Sofia and Moe, we talk to him all the time. He has a couple sons who were baptized a few years ago and moved away. He told us about his New Years' resolution to quit smoking. His kids sent him e-cigarettes to help him. We told him that the message we share could help him with that goal. Then he said:

"Well, I've met with missionaries before. And I get your thing every month."

"What thing?"

"Your magazine."

"Magazine? You mean The Ensign?" *we pull out a copy*

"Yeah, that's it. My kids order it for me. I read it every month, and I have it on my tablet for my long doctor's appointments."

Speechless. I'm still speechless. Tei reads The Ensign every month. As we left, I asked when we could sit down with him. He paused, smiled, and said "We'll see." I'm hopeful. :)

I know that God is our Father. I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that They love us. :)

Elder Judd

Monday, January 6, 2014

"Unto you that fear my name, shall the Son of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings"

Manuia le Tausaga Fou! Happy New Year!

I love Samoans. And by that I mean, Ou te alofa i tagata Samoa, I think. :)

 You better believe I never want to leave this ward. These people have made a home in my heart. I love their food, I love their language, I love their kind spirits and smiles. I love these people.

On Wednesday we stopped by Nerissa and Ioga. We shared the story of the boy-prophet Samuel. when the Lord called to him in the night, he answered. We had a good discussion about obedience and following the voice of the Spirit. 

Remember Jerome? Whom we met a few weeks ago? And he said he was going out of town until mid January? Well, he's still out of town.

HOWEVER, we got a text early Wednesday morning: 
"Happy new years Elder Judd and Bentley" 

We realized the number was Jerome's. Highlight of my week. I couldn't stop thinking about it. 

The experience taught me this: The Spirit turns hearts. 

Jerome felt the Spirit in our visit. Something Jerome felt by the Spirit made such an impact on his soul that, weeks later, he remembered the 2 white guys that came to his house unannounced on a Friday night. The text was a miracle to me. And I'm pumped to meet him again when he returns in a couple weeks.

New years night we had to be home early. We spent to night updating records and other paperwork stuff. Pretty helpful.

Thursday was MLC, which was awesome, as usual.

Saturday, when we went to our lesson with Naia, he told us his mom had talked with him and said he couldn't live "one foot in, one foot out". She said he had to choose Seventh-Day Adventist or our church. He said he wanted to stick with what he grew up with. It broke my heart. We told him we would continue to pray for him and his family, especially that he would find a job. We also encouraged him to continue to read the Book of Mormon.

I know God sees the big picture. God knows everything. While I'm sad we won't be teaching Naia anymore, I know God is always there for him. He will always guide him to truth.

It's the same for all of us. God knows us. He knows what is best for us. If we trust him, we will find eternal happiness. 

I am so grateful for my mission. Sometimes I just think about how good Heavenly Father is for giving me such sweet, refining experiences and I can't help but smile. I love being a missionary. :)


Elder Judd