Monday, June 30, 2014

"cast about your eyes and begin to believe in the Son of God"

Talofa lava lo'u aiga!

On Monday we started teaching Alex and Brandon, the teenage sons of Ola and Maria. The whole family has been coming to church for several weeks. They are awesome. They have us for dinner every other Friday, and will have us over again for the 4th of July. 

Alex and Brandon are solid. After teaching them about prophets and the Savior and how Joseph Smith's prayer was answered, Alex said that he felt he and his family were like Joseph Smith. They have been going to many churches for many years. Now he wants to know which is the true church. He said:

I feel good knowing that I can pray to know for myself and get an answer.

Alex is older and makes sure they read the Book of Mormon together everyday. They are awesome! I wish I could explain all the awesome things they've said and done, but it's enough to say that their faith in the Savior is sincere.

Henrietta was baptized on Saturday! She was nervous but excited all week. Her family sang a musical number, and it was a great program. 

I was talking with a member this week and he told me about his own conversion story. He said that his baptism wasn't the point that he felt a change of heart. He had met with missionaries for several years and he remembered a night when he met with new Elders who were just placed in the ward. They asked him why he hadn't been baptized throughout the long time he had met with the missionaries. He had never been asked that question. he realized it was because he had never prayed to know that it's true. He was invited to pray right then. the invitation propelled truth into his heart, the Spirit worked in him, and before even beginning the prayer, he looked up and said he wanted to be baptized. he's one of my favorite people.

It amazes me to see how the Lord prepares people to receive His gospel. He knows us by name! He knows our heart!

We were referred to a woman named Koleka a few weeks ago. When we met her, she didn't have time to meet, but we were able to give her a Samoan copy of Book of Mormon at her doorstep and invite her to read. We met with her this week and learned she is only here for a few months. She has frequent treatments at the hospital and is lonely because she has little company and speaks little English.

To our surprise, she started reading the Book of Mormon! She told us that normally, back home, she probably wouldn't make the effort to read it. But with her current situation, she reads during her treatments and also during the day with all the time she has. She enjoys our company, especially in being able to speak in her own language. And she likes what she reads. 

I do not believe she is where she is by chance. Heavenly Father is in the details of our lives.

The Spirit taught me that this is true as two faithful sisters from one of our wards sang a duet in our Stake Conference this weekend. The Savior said:

My sheep hear my voice,

And I know them,

And they follow me.

Alofa atu,

Elder Judd


The Julander family.

Henrietta at her baptism.

Monday, June 23, 2014

"Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good"

Talofa lava family!

This was a great week. We saw a lot of miracles this week. 

First off, there's this guy named Joe. Some people call him "Big Joe." He's big and Caucasian and just a really nice man. He is married to a Samoan woman. He has had a lot of connections with Mormons throughout his life, and he always talks about how much respect he has for missionaries.

Well, we started teaching the gospel to Joe a few weeks ago, and on Wednesday we had another lesson with him. He had read the pamphlet we had given him, which is about the Plan of Happiness.

There was just a change in Joe. He was really excited to talk about what he read and kept asking us questions like:

Are you guys making this up? Or is this just something you share as like a sales pitch to bring people in to the church? 

He told us he thought the plan was too good to be true. He said:

When I read this, it made sense. It gave me hope--that even a guy like me has purpose or can do great things. Like I am somebody.

He went on to explain things like the Fall and the Atonement and Judgement just made sense to him. He said he felt like he had a new light. And he said he wished someone had shared this with him many years ago.

I can't put the whole visit into words, but it was one of the happiest moments of my mission. The Holy Ghost touched Joe's heart. I know the Holy Ghost is real.

We also saw this guys name Charles. we met Charles a few weeks ago. He is the son of a referral we were given. We have been over to his house a few times to try and get in contact with Charles' dad, but we just keep running into Charles. He has told us he doesn't believe in God or prayer. But we were able to convince to try out a chapter of the Book of Mormon. And we're scheduled to see him this week to see how he liked Alma 32.

In other news, Henrietta will be baptized this Saturday! We're so excited because we love Henrietta and her whole family. it will be a great week.

Family, I am really grateful for you. and I know Heavenly Father is there. And I know that He appeared with the Savior and spoke to Joseph Smith. And I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet. And there is so much power that can come into our lives if we read the Book of Mormon. It's all true.

Alofa atu! :)

Elder Judd

Monday, June 16, 2014

"whosoever will come may come and partake of the waters of life freely"

Talofa Family,

It's been a great week. So much happened, but I can't cram it all into one email.

So here's a miracle from Saturday: 

In the morning, I remember we prayed that we would be an answer to somebody's prayer that day. In the evening, we went to see John, an investigator. He wasn't there. But while we were in that complex, we ran into Al and Starla. 

Remember back when Elder Pauga was here? We had a great lesson with Al and Starla and Spencer. Then we pretty much lost contact and Al went back to Orange County. He was their cousin, just visiting. But, he was actually meeting with missionaries back home.

Well, Al was visiting again just for the weekend. And just that morning he had asked Spencer if they ever saw us again. Then we showed up. We talked about faith and the Book of Mormon and the Holy Ghost and it was an awesome, brief lesson. The Spirit seemed to fill our mouths with words to say. And I felt so much love for Al and the whole family. We told them we had to get running, and he was like:

No. Jesus is telling you to stay! 

I asked if he had a phone. He did. I asked if we could grab it. He was like:

You can't have my phone, but you can have my number.  

He smiled. We all laughed. I was embarrassed. It was just funny.

I know that there is a God. He is the Father of every person who exists, who ever has existed, and who ever will exist. He watches over his children and listens to the deepest desires of their hearts. He answers prayers prayed to Him in the name of His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. 

Alofa atu,

Elder Judd

Monday, June 9, 2014

"for it is by faith that miracles are wrought"

Malo soifua!

All is well in Samoa. Heavenly Father has been so good to me.

We taught Rodney again. He is doing so well. He has still been studying the Book of Mormon every day, and he tells us that everything just makes sense. And he keeps telling us about all these things he wants to do better. We read a few scriptures in the Book of Helaman with him:

Ye do know of yourselves, for ye have witnessed it, that as many of them as are brought to the knowledge of the truth ... and are led to believe the holy scriptures ... which leadeth them to faith on the Lord, and unto repentance, which faith and repentance bringeth a change of heart unto them—

Therefore, as many as have come to this, ye know of yourselves are firm and steadfast in the faith.

I am a witness that the Book of Mormon changes hearts. If any person will read the Book of Mormon and pray sincerely to understand, faith in Jesus Christ increases. Faith leads us to repent. When we repent, we come to Him.

Here's a miracle: The past couple weeks we've stopped by to see a family a member took us to. They hadn't been home. Just a bunch of huge dogs barking. We went again this week. Dogs barking again. A guy came to the door and we talked through the screen door. The first thing he said was, "Hey, I have your book" (referring to the Book of Mormon in my hand). The guy, Ed,  told us a friend from work gave it to him and he's been reading. Said we could come by next week to teach him more. We realized he was definitely not Samoan. So we gave his info to the English missionaries. Turned out we were at the wrong place that looked just like the house we were looking for, but a few streets away. 

On Friday, a member family that I love asked me to baptize their 8-year-old daughter on Saturday. It was an incredible experience that I can't really put into words. The spirit was so sweet. I know that the power of the Priesthood of God is real. 

I hit my year mark this past week, and it almost felt like a mini-mid-life crisis. I had a really great prayer that night. I know God hears our heart. I'm just grateful for the opportunity to be here. I love my mission. 

Alofa atu,

Elder Judd


Lahaina and Me

Lahaina's family. Surprise! They aren't Samoan! :)

Monday, June 2, 2014

"the power of Heaven [shall] come down among them; and I also will be in the midst."

Hey family!

This was a really great week. We see so many miracles.

Here's one: 

On Saturday we planned to be in one area. The plans fell through. But while we were in that area, we felt to go to Uilisone, a man who we haven't seen in months and who hasn't been to church in years. He was home. And we did the usual: stand outside and talk to him through the screen door. But this time we were more persistent in asking if we could come in to share a message. He said he'd check something and walked deeper into his house. 

While he stepped away, another guy came walking from the street toward the door. SAMOA was written on his chest. He smiled, called out to us, and let us into the home. Found out he is Amerika, Uilisone's brother. It was an AWESOME visit. We read Mosiah 2:41. The spirit was so strong. I know God's hand guided us to them.

On Wednesday, we saw Rodney. He's a man that hasn't been to church since 1990. We taught him the message of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He has been reading the Book of Mormon everyday, very carefully, comparing in depth with other research he's done. He has literally been searching and digging to know the truth. But he told us that he noticed that as he's read the Book of Mormon and prayed to understand, questions he's had just stop. While his questions used to take him deeper and lead to other questions, now, answers come simply and clearly. There is a visible change in Rodney's countenance. 

The Holy Ghost teaches us truth! The Book of Mormon change lives!

In other news, we found out one of our potential investigators is a king.

Alofa atu! :)

Elder Judd

picture: Elder Holcomb and Me