Monday, February 24, 2014

"his soul did rejoice, and his whole heart was filled"

Hey Family!
This week has been great, as always. On Wednesday I went on an exchange to the Bloomington Ward with E. Jex. He and I came to the mission field at the same time, so it was cool talking about all the stories we've had so far as missionaries. It was a hardworking day. Props to all the bike missionaries out there. It was a whole new world.

Here's something cool that happened with Elder Jex: We went to the Jensen family to drop off brownies to them to thank them for something (I don't know what). As we were heading out from their home, we saw some young guys sitting outside the house across the street. A car rolled up, bass booming. I could feel the beat from down the street. Something told me to talk to the guys. I didn't really know what to say to start talking with them so I just complimented their bass. We met Jared and Felix. Then they just started asking questions about who we were and what we do. They thought it was crazy that we didn't party or drink or even talk to our families. Jared said he remembered how missionaries used to come to his house a long time ago. We talked about faith and the power of the Priesthood. Jared asked how anyone could know what is the real truth. We taught and testified of the Holy Ghost. It was just a classic "missionary" experience. We could sense something working in both Felix and Jared as we spoke boldly and simply. They said missionaries could come back. Though I'll probably never see them again, it felt so good to hearken to the voice of the Spirit.
Back in our area, we rushed all week to get everything prepared for Matthew's baptism on Saturday. But Friday morning he let us know that he wanted to wait to be baptized in a few weeks. It was kind of a relief to us because it was all happening so quick. There was so much he needed to understand in order to be ready to make such a sacred commitment. So we're slowing down with him, and it's going great.

We also had a lesson with John, the brand-new husband of Carol. Carol is Poe's sister, and she was baptized years ago. John used to meet with missionaries about a year ago, but moved to LA for a while. Carol and John were just married a couple weeks ago, which is awesome because they have 5 kids. The spirit in the lesson was so strong. 

We explained how the complete truth was lost after Jesus and his Apostles were killed. We explained that no one could find the Gospel anywhere. John was was just like: 


And Elder Pauga was like: 

That's where Joseph Smith comes in.  

It was real cool. Our testimonies sealed the truth we taught.

On Saturday night we met the Nu'usila family. A single sister with several young girls that go to an English ward. They lived in a tough place and the condition of their home was much less then cozy. But the spirit was the warmest I've felt in a home in a long time. For some reason, I could feel that this mother knew much of prayer and faith. Her tone of voice was kind and gentle. She just beamed with love and respect. She was genuinely happy, despite her circumstances. The experience just really impressed me.

One more thing. Thursday, we were in Riverside. We got hungry. We saw Panda Express. We ate. We started to leave. THEN, a Samoan woman and her son sat down to eat. We found out they were the Frosts. They attend a ward in Riverside. She said we could come over on Sunday. So we did.

Sunday, we go over. They have dinner ready. A man walks in wearing a tank and a lavalava. Covered in Tattoos. It's Bro. Frost. He's hilarious. Served a mission in Japan. We have dinner and discover he hasn't been to church in a long long time. But he has a testimony. We had good conversation. After dinner, instead of our own message, Bro. Frost told us he would pick a scripture, I would have to read it, and Elder Pauga would have to expound:
And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. 

It was powerful. We knew we were supposed to be there. There are no coincidences. 

And little did Bro. Frost know, we had already planned to share Helaman 5:12. :)


Elder Judd

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"let us go up; let us be strong"

Hey people!
On Friday we started teaching Matt. Matt is 15 and he's from New Zealand. He came to California at the end of January to live with his cousins for several months. His cousins are active members in our ward. They invited him to meet with us, and here we are.
I could listen to this kid talk all day long. Best accent ever. I love it. And Matt is so prepared. He wants to be baptized this Saturday, before his "basically-grandparents" (the Lata's) leave next week for their 5th mission to Samoa. So, we're teaching him everyday. He's learning fast. Please pray that Matt will be ready! :)
We taught Moli again and she's stuck. We're praying to know how to help her find an answer.
I went on an exchange with E. Ashcraft in the Bloomington ward on Saturday. It was a great day. And biking is so different. But in the morning Bro. Sandoval gave us a ride to a baptism in the Bloomington ward. He's a super nice Hispanic guy. He told us his conversion story. I really liked it.
Long ago, Bro. Sandoval noticed missionaries visit his neighbor all the time, but he didn't know much about them. Years later, he went to a Swap Meet in Colton and saw missionaries giving away copies of the Book of Mormon. He took a Spanish copy, read a lot, and loved it. But, he didn't know how to reach missionaries again. Some time later, he saw them out walking, so he talked to them and asked how he could learn more.  He was baptized soon after.
He said he knew their message was true because of the Book of Mormon. After he was baptized he said this:
I felt an empty space in my heart and I couldn't believe what it was. And I felt the Spirit and I -- I really wake up.
The feeling Bro. Sandoval felt was the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost testifies of what is true and what is good. It testifies of Jesus Christ. It fills the holes in our souls that we don't even know are there.
That is something I know.
Elder Judd

Monday, February 10, 2014

"for He worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men"

Hey people!

This week. was. spectacular. Everything is so hard, but everything is so good because Heavenly Father has been making us stronger.

Learning Samoan is so fun. This week, for the first time, I had a phone call with our Ward Mission Leader completely in Samoan. It was sweet. The whole time I wanted to give in and toss the phone to E. Pauga, but I was like, "Fa'amalosi. Fa'amalosi." which means, "Be strong."

Sometimes members tell us that towards the end of a meal. :)

Last night the youth had a "Youth missionary Night". They all dressed up as missionaries and wore "Future Missionary" name-tags and went out with the leaders in small groups and visited a bunch of people. They had us make a list of the people to visit, and we shared a brief message from Preach My Gospel about talking to people. We role-played. The youth were excited. WE were excited. It was one of the best experiences of my mission.

On Friday we stopped by some apartments that several families in our ward live in. We were going to pick up a Brother to come out with us, but he was busy. As we started back to our car, we passed a guy that looked Samoan. He turned his face away and turned around an apartment as soon as he saw us. We kept walking. But I had a pressing feeling that we needed to go talk to him. So we quickly turned around and found him.

His name is Sa'olotoga. He is the less-active brother of Young Womens' President in the ward. We've been trying to meet him for months. He said he's had plenty of visitors, but he doesn't really like being visited. But he said we could stop by if we wanted. We told him we'd be back in an hour, after an appointment. We returned and just talked with him. He told us of how he's been looking for a job. We told him of a lady that could help him at the church. We shared some scriptures from Mosiah. The room felt so still. The Spirit was working on Sa'olotoga--I could feel it.

Quietly, he said:

Yeah... it's time... I feel like... I've just been chasing something... I don't know. But it's time.

He told us he would definitely be at church. He told us we could come by any time.

This Sunday, Sa'olotoga was at church. The first time in years. :)

We also found a new family! To'esea and Myriam. Our good friend Poe told us about them. To'esea is Samoan and Myriam is half Jamaican, half German, and grew up in Germany. We met To'esea outside his house and talked with him. He told us they've been looking for a church to go to. We've already had 2 visits with them. When we introduced the Book of Mormon to them, we read part of the introduction with them, which promises us that if we read the Book of Mormon, ponder upon its message, and pray to know if it is true, the Holy Ghost will tell us that it is true.

To'esea finished reading and was like: Whoa.

Whoa is right. This week, I was able to finish the Book of Mormon again. From real experience, I have been able to come to know that the promise of the Book of Mormon is true.

In the middle of this last week I was having a tough time feeling the Spirit and finding happiness. But while reading in Moroni, a verse hit my heart:

My beloved son, I write unto you again that ye may know that I am yet alive... and I am mindful of you always.

I knew that my Father was there, and is there, and will always be there. I felt refreshed, and I understood His plan for me. Those feelings come only from the Holy Ghost. That's how I know the book is true.


Elder Judd

Monday, February 3, 2014

"then will I make weak things become strong"

Hey my people,

Here's a cool story:

Recently, it was announced that California (or, at least SoCal) was officially in a drought. Soon after it was announced, the First Presidency asked the Stakes of Southern California to have a special fast for rain on the first Sunday of Fepuali. So we did. That was yesterday. And as we drove from visit to visit yesterday evening, the sky was totally soaked with clouds and storm.

So, to all the folks who need divine help (which is e'erybody), try fasting. And because fasting is not complete without sincere prayer, try praying too. When you call upon the Lord, He listens and answers.

Anyway, this week was fantastic.

We had a lesson with Moli and her family on Wednesday. We had a good discussion with her about faith and keeping commandments. She's been reading solidly from the Book of Mormon, but she hasn't been coming to church. She told us that she believes the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet, but has struggled to believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Savior's church. She is so close to baptism, but we're not sure what is holding her back. Please keep Moli in your prayers.

We also met the Mama family this week. They are members that are semi-active in the Samoan ward in Moreno Valley, but live in Loma Linda. Bro. Mama acknowledged that he hasn't been living how he should, and he is interested in being able to baptize his son in the next few months. We're excited to help them.

Gotta run! The Gospel is true! God answers prayers! He loves us! Ou te alofa ia Iesu Keriso! :)

Elder Judd