Monday, March 30, 2015

"and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord"

Dear family,

So many great things happened this week. I really love serving in Loma Linda again. I just love my mission. Missions are so great. And I love you all.

I'll just kind of spill out some great things that happened this week:

On Friday, we were walking between appointments and we saw a lady sitting on a plastic lawn chair outside of her apartment. We went up and started talking with her. Then we stopped talking to her--because she could not hear. She motioned that she was deaf, and that we needed to write to her. I'll call her Dawn.

We spoke with her thru the spare room of the pages of our planners. A silent, 10 minute conversation. She told us she used to meet with Elders in Riverside, but church became too far. We invited her to our friend's baptism on Saturday and gave her a Book of Mormon to read. She excitedly accepted.

We went to work calling members to find someone who could give Dawn a ride and someone that knows ASL. We found both. 

Then we came to her place with the ride at 7:30pm on Saturday, and could not get an answer. We knocked and waited, and knocked and waited. We feared she could not hear us. Time until the baptism almost gone, but we prayed that she would hear us, and we felt to stay and knock again. Finally, she peaked thru the window and found us at about 7:55. She got ready real fast and we drove to the baptism, which started at 8:00. As we drove (separate cars), we prayed and thanked Heavenly Father for helping Dawn to know we were there. We also prayed that somehow we would would make it to the baptism service in time for Dawn to witness the baptism ordinance. 

We arrived at 8:20 and walked in as a woman gave the final words of her talk and they opened the curtains for the baptism font. We made it. Dawn loved it. And afterward she had an excellent conversation with the interpreter we called.

Last week we met a family that recently moved in from another country. They haven't been to church actively in years. I'll call them the Lee family.  We began teaching the Lee's this week, and they also had us over for dinner. At dinner, Sister Lee told us about how she has been struggling with headaches with her pregnancy and other challenges. She said that last week she went to her room and cried and prayed for help. She also prayed for a church to which her family could go. The next day we knocked at their door. 

I know that there is no person of which He is not infinitely aware. 

We also had a mission conference with Elder Brent Nielsen on Saturday. He will be speaking in General Conference on Sunday! Everyone, watch General Conference!

And the new Easter video BecauseHeLives was released! Everyone, watch it. And share it. And watch and share it again! 

I love you all,

Elder Judd

Monday, March 23, 2015

"my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me"

Dear family,

I love serving in Loma Linda again. Sometimes throughout the day, I re-realize that I'm here again and I get really excited and it is just really fun. We've already seen many miracles.

On Wednesday, just after I moved in from 29 Palms, we went to see a woman that came to church on Sunday who hasn't been coming regularly for a long long time. A man answered the door. He welcomed us in, sat us down, and immediately began telling us his religious background. He told us he is now really interested in learning everything about Mormons, and he has questions, and just wants to listen to what we teach. I'll call him Stan. We LOVE Stan. Stan was the boyfriend of the woman, and he also came to church. He had already started reading the Book of Mormon, and we started teaching him the next night.

Here's one cool experience with Stan: For the past while, Stan has been trying to rebuild his standing with God. On Thursday he said that while he was in the Del Taco drive-thru he broke down and cried in his heart:
God, I'm just not sure if I can hear you. I'm not sure if I can hear you.
That night, we started teaching him. Stan told us that some of the first things we said seemed to bring an overwhelming feeling of peace as if God were speaking directly to him:
You can hear me. I am right here. You can hear me.

On Saturday, we had prayerfully planned to visit a certain man at a certain time. We parked down the hill so we could walk and talk with people. Just across the street from where we parked, another man had parked, and was picking small fruit from a tree. We called out to ask what kind of fruit it was. We began talking with him and introduced ourselves and he said knowingly: I already know you.
Then, I remembered him. It was Lee! A man that Elder Buers and I taught only once. Soon after, we lost contact with him. He said that he's moved since then and has been working in other parts of California. And he said that he was actually just thinking about us last week and that he only came in town that day to look for a new home. 

God is aware of us. I know He is. Even when we feel small, or weak, or neglected, or unloved, or unimportant--we matter to Him. He will never forget us. He is in the details of our lives!

I love the gospel. I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ. I love the Book of Mormon. I am so excited for General Conference. Everyone, watch it. 


Elder Judd

Pictures: With friends in Loma Linda

Monday, March 16, 2015

"What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?"

Dear family,

It's transfer week, and I'm leaving. I'm filled with a mix of emotions. I love 29 Palms so much. I love the people here. I am so grateful that my Father in Heaven has sent me here to learn and to serve Him. I am sad to leave.

But on the other hand, I am very excited for where I am going. Loma Linda! Back to Loma Linda! The place where I began my service as a missionary. And I'll be with the great Elder Raff, whom I love, and whom I served around when he began his mission in the Rialto area. This just feels like a great opportunity to redeem myself of the missionary work I did when I really didn't know much about missionary work. I just want to give everything I have in the remaining time I have as a missionary. So, I'm excited. 

Well, here's more from 29 Palms:

Our friend Paul hasn't chewed tobacco all week! We are so happy!

This week we taught a young man man I'll call Chris. Chris's member friend invited him to meet with us, and he accepted. He is from the Philippines. In a lesson with Chris this week, we taught about prayer. Chris told us that it has been a while since he has really prayed. And he has been struggling with things that he knows Heavenly Father wouldn't want him to do. As he spoke, some tears came:

I don't feel worthy to pray. ... I feel bad that I haven't been speaking with Heavenly Father.

Earlier in the week, we also started teaching a man I'll call Noah. For the last several years, Noah has turned against worshiping Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ. Difficult circumstances have led him to feel an anger towards them. But we knelt in prayer at the end of the lesson. Noah prayed. It was simple. And after about 2 sentences, he paused. He was finding it hard to speak. We waited. He continued briefly and ended the prayer. Now with tears in his eyes, Noah looked to us and said:

Every time I do that, I know that I'm doing things that I shouldn't be doing, and it makes me want to cry. I know I need to do that more.

There is power in prayer. I know there is. I know that Heavenly Father listens to our prayers--no matter who we are, no matter where we are, no matter where we might have been, no matter if we feel like He loves us or not. He listens to us. He loves us. I know He does. 

Oh, how praying rests the weary!
Prayer will change the night to day.
So, when life gets dark and dreary,
Don't forget to pray.

I love you all,

Elder Judd

Pictures: Me with friends

Monday, March 9, 2015

"The iron rod is the word of God; 'Twill safely guide us through"

Dear family,

Many many miracles this week.

On Wednesday, I was on an exchange with Elder Grigg. He's really good at teaching simply and powerfully, and it was really fun. Here's a cool miracle from the day:
in our planning on Tuesday night, we felt a clear prompting to visit a certain less active man as a backup to our lesson at 3:00. Well, the appointment fell through and we went to our backup plan. As we walked through the complex toward the place, we met a young Marine with a dog with a cone of shame. We talked with him. he accepted our invitation to learn more. After, we knocked at the less active man's door and he wasn't home.

There are no coincidences! This is the work of God.

We're teaching a young man I'll call Jason. Jason is awesome, and he has been coming to sacrament meeting for about a year now. He is now preparing for baptism. But he has yet to come to the other 2 hours of church. So we had members ready on Sunday to greet him and invite him to stay, and he hesitantly stayed for Sunday school. He enjoyed it. But just after that class was about to leave before the priesthood meeting. We caught him and did our best to persuade him to try it out. Sadly, he declined and left. So we started toward the next meeting. 
Then a voice came from behind us: Okay, what is this meeting like? 
Jason stayed! And he really liked it. And we were really happy.

One of our favorite people has been so solid and been embracing the gospel. But on Saturday night some friends introduced him to some information designed to destroy his faith. He ignored most of it, but he called us and told us he was really struggling with some of the things. He felt that he did not want to look into the gospel anymore.

We prayed so much that night and throughout the next day for him. We felt that we needed to focus on the Book of Mormon. We prayerfully prepared a lesson. We felt to read 1 Nephi 8 with him. As we read, there was a visible change in his countenance. He said he felt a weight lifted from him. 

We were filled with so much joy and relief and peace. I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon because, with the Spirit, it changes hearts.


Elder Judd
A cool cactus named "Cholla"

Monday, March 2, 2015

"if the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief"

Dear family,

Another great week. There have been some sad moments, as a few have decided not to continue to learn. But there have also been some exciting miracles, and we have met some really great people who want to learn.  I love my mission.  I have felt so much joy lately. 

On Saturday, I went to Yucca Valley for another exchange with Elder Tingey. It was excellent, as usual.  We taught a high school student I'll call Dante. Some back-story:
A few weeks ago we had a powerful stake conference which boldly inspired members to invite their friends to meet with missionaries to learn about the gospel. A young woman felt to invite her friend Dante. So she invited him that week. Dante now loves the gospel. He has since said:
This has filled a hole in my heart that I didn't know was there.
He is on fire. He says he has been feeling more happiness than he's ever felt in his whole life. I felt light and goodness radiate from him as I spoke with him.

The wonderful part about this is that Dante is not the only person that Heavenly Father has been preparing to receive the gospel! There are literally hosts of people around us who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it! It is exciting! 

Well, we have been continuing to teach Rory, and like Dante, he is also on fire. A while ago, Rory told us that some other Marines one day gave him grief about reading the Book of Mormon. When they left, one remaining Marine turned to him surprised and said: You're investigating too?  
We started teaching his friend shortly after. I'll call him Mark. Mark is awesome.  He started learning about Mormons after starting to date a Mormon girl just before she left for her mission.  Not knowing anything about the church, he began a sincere search to learn everything he could about it. He's one of the nicest guys on the planet. We have been really trying to help him receive a personal witness that what we teach is true, specifically thru reading and praying about the Book of Mormon. 

Last night we met with Mark and Rory again. We had felt a strong impression to read Alma 32 with them. Mark loved it. 
Here's the miracle. This morning he texted us and said that his missionary friend emailed him this morning and encouraged him to read Alma 32. Mark hadn't even mentioned to her that he had just read the very chapter. 

This is the Lord's work, I know it.

I love you all,

Elder Judd