Monday, August 17, 2015

Dear brothers and sisters,

My time as a missionary has come to a close. It has been quite a memorable experience. There have been ups and downs and highs and lows. In the midst of it all, I have come to know my Savior more, and His love for us. I have felt His arms of mercy, and His love for me. I have repeatedly wondered how He could love one such as I, but I know He does. How can I not love Him? There is no way, after all He has done for me and for my family. 

I give you my final testimony, my witness, as a representative of Jesus Christ. As a representative of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, I solemnly testify that God lives. He sent His Beloved Son to die for us. Our mighty Father in Heaven knows us and our weaknesses, and yet He still perfectly loves us, no matter what. I know that He is tenderly merciful and loving, a giver of gifts, and a patient, dear Father. He loved us from the beginning, and He loves us now. I know that Jesus Christ loves us, for He died for us, and suffered for us. He loves us more than we love ourselves. I know that because of this He has established His church on the earth, to gather those that desire to follow Him, to have Him to be their God. I know that Jesus Christ is the way to salvation, and that because He lives, we too shall live through His name. I know that one day we shall reunite with Him. I know these things are true, and I testify of them in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

This is Justin's reply to a question I asked in a letter:

What is the single most important thing you have learned on your mission?  - After thinking about this question and looking at the possibilities, it has come down to the simple important truths as to WHY I SHOULD LOVE THE FATHER AND SON. That's probably it. I came out on a mission just for duty. I knew it was God's will for me to serve, and having the priesthood, I knew I had the duty to preach the gospel. That's why I came out. I wasn't excited, but wasn't mad or sad about it either. Once I came out I saw that I had a long time before coming home. But as I have served and taught and learned and tried to help other people come unto Christ, I began to understand the tender mercies of the Lord. I now understand the atonement more, his Grace, and why I should want to give my life for the gospel and to serve others and do what I can to invite them to come unto Christ til death and beyond. God truly loves us, and His Son loves us. Last Sunday a sister was giving the Sunday school lesson and told us to look at a picture of Christ atoning, while she read the account of an apostle having a vision of a sort of being at Gethsemane, and the part that touched me was when he said how he saw Christ pray to the Father "Not my will, but thine be done." and then tears started pouring down the Lord's face. A haunting image. And the words that she spoke - "If Christ was asked to do it again for us, He would", touched me as well. Truly as Paul said, we love Him because He first loved us.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Dear beloved brother and sisters,
One thing that was emphasized this past week was that there is no regrets with diligence, only in the lack thereof. And furthermore, with diligence comes the spirit. I experienced that as my companion and I really focused on following our planned schedules. And though lots of things fell through or didn't work out, there was still the great feel of doing the best we could. Yesterday we tried to follow the plans diligently, and though all pretty much didn't work out, at the very end of the day we were able to have the best opportunity we've ever had with an investigator. He's interested and his family not so much, but they left to go somewhere so we were able to share a message with just us and him. The spirit was indeed there, which was fantastic. We focused on the Savior and His atonement, and how we can learn of Him through prayer - such an important tool. We committed him to be baptized and he said yes. Now he's hesitant on a date, but he's moving along. We invted him to start praying daily, to which he said he would. 
So diligence is the key. A beautiful quote from Preach my Gospel, by President Ezra Taft Benson says “I have often said one of the greatest secrets of missionary work is work! If a missionary works, he will get the Spirit; if he gets the Spirit, he will teach by the Spirit; and if he teaches by the Spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people and he will be happy. There will be no homesickness, no worrying about families, for all time and talents and interests are centered on the work of the ministry. Work, work, work—there is no satisfactory substitute, especially in missionary work.”
The same can be applied to our areas of stewardship, and to our studying of the gospel, our sabbath worship especially, and our repentance. Diligence makes all the difference. Love you all, and take care at this time.
Elder J. Cederlof

Monday, June 15, 2015

Dear beloved brothers and sisters,

An awesome scripture that our Mission President stated in his letter was this: "And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor,we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God." I thought it was a great scripture to have as my theme for the rest of my mission, and of course the mission of my life that follows this one, because you are never released as a member, only set apart when you are baptized - to declare the gospel to the ends of the earth in the sphere of influence you have, or the sphere of influence God is expecting you to develop. Lots of missionary work in this life! It is good though because of the incomprehensible joy that follows. And the efforts can be forever recorded because of those of God's children that enter the kingdom with the missionary work, they enter for eternity. 

Love you all and have a happy week!

Elder J. Cederlof

Monday, June 8, 2015

Dear Everyone,

 Another week gone in the town of Cowra with some changes. I have a new companion, fresh from the MTC and from Samoa. He's great and definitely ready to be serving. He's eighteen too, same age when I came out, fair dinkum. The beginning of the past week I was in Sydney with a Spanish elder who was going to be training as well. The new missionaries were going to be arriving in Australia on Wednesday and transfers were on Monday so after losing Elder Smith, I was put with Elder Edmondson, who was currently in the Spanish ward and waiting for his new companion as well. 

 The missionaries did arrive and we had a conference but since it went so late we stayed at the senior couple's place, Elder and Sister Hill, and then on Thursday got to our area. That day was slow because Thursday is also weekly planning day. But I promised that we'd tract, and were so busy so we tracted one house and the person wasn't really interested, but was very nice about it and accepted a pamphlet (really good since it doesn't intimidate the newbie, elder Schwalger). And we visited a member family that night, which was good. We also made sure to visit the Branch President to introduce the new elder. 

The rest of the week involved tracting and street contacting. We're trying to increase our pool of investigators since we've not that many. We have had some success, and one of our members has been great with giving us referrals and doing missionary work. We're going to be seeing a potential who is golden and very keen about growing his faith in Christ. Big miracle there. 

The field is definitely white already to harvest, but we just need to look and try in faith to find it. Definitely true out here and no doubt back at home. The Church is true and ever stands. Love you all and take care.

Elder J. Cederlof

Elder Schwalger


P-Day Soccer

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I am doing well.  It's transfers, and I am with an Elder named Elder Edmondson from Utah as we wait til our new missionaries get to Australia. We meet them tomorrow. I was indeed able to tell Elder Pearson that I was his relative, but wasn't able to converse because the only opportunity I had was when we got to shake hands with the visitors, including Elder Cook, and there were around four hundred missionaries to shake hands, so we lined up and just said hello. It was good though to finally tell him. 
Yellowstone definitely looks and sounds like such a fun trip. There isn't anything of the sort like that out here in Australia that I know of. Thanks for the pics. Awesome rivers and waterfalls. And scary that you saw a black bear. I haven't ever seen one in the wild. 

There is actually a focus from the Pacific Area Presidency, of which Elder Pearson is the president, about making sacrament meeting better. I definitely have come to learn more on the mission how important the sacrament meeting is and how reverent I should be acting during it. To think that it is a meeting practiced by the saints in America when the resurrected Christ ministered unto them, and then the first one with the apostles just makes it more and more amazing to me. It is a wonderful thing. 
Great hearing that you are seeing miracles, especially with getting help with the float. I have really come to feel the Lord's hand in my life on the mission. He's very kind and loving, and truly understands us. 

Love you so much, Mom, and tell Ashley and her fiance my wishes are with them and that I say hi. I need pics of them, and I love you and take care!
Elder Justin Cederlof

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Dear People,

The week started off excellent - Mother's Day! That meant that I got to Skype my family and see them and talk. That was excellent and it's great to know that I have that support and love at home. Many people out here don't seem to have that, especially those that don't understand the gospel or don't have it. Families are so important and eternal. If there is a family member that is annoying or conflict, fix it, because you'll be getting that relationship for eternity. And the Lord has blessed me with an amazing family of which I am privileged to be a part of, being my immediate family and also the extended family members. What great unity is there and devotion to one another! What loyalty and love! My beloved great grandmother slipped away this past Wednesday into the embrace of family beyond this life, no doubt with joy for the good work she did while here. My mother used a wonderful phrase to describe her  - an "elect lady" - and an elect lady she was. 
Great knowledge of this life is one thing, but knowledge of things which are eternal and never ending is far, infinitely better. Praise God that He gives it to us so abundantly. I can see the influence it has had on my family, and the families of others as I have served out here. What we have stands forever, and we can make covenants and act according to them so that we can stand forever. 

I have learned here in Australia that people are important, very important. I continue to wonder why, and I doubt I will ever truly see until I can understand as the Father understands, but I know that people are precious, in such a true, undeniable way. Not all things last forever, but to bring one soul unto God does.
Now back to the week: We had the opportunity to have splits with the assistants to the President, Elder Pederson and Elder Shelton, who are fantastic elders. We then traded to other elders, our district leader and his companion - Elder Johnson and Elder Bell. That was great. At the weekend we had a recent convert named Michael do a mini mission with us, and that was awesome. He's too old to serve a mission, and so this was a great opportunity for him, and he loved it. 
Sunday we had church and Chloe, a recent convert who moved down to Canberra and was up here in Cowra for a little bit, brought her sister, Meg to church who isn't a member. That was great and she liked it and would go again. We then had lunch with them and the Paki family at a park so we could talk to Meg a little bit more. 
I know this church is true and the efforts we give to the Lord are ever worth it no matter what. God loves us His children and the way is straight, leading to eternal life. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.