Elder Michael Cevering

Elder Michael Cevering
Puerto Rico, San Juan Mission

Friday, December 28, 2012

December 24, 2012 Email

Hello Family! Well, like I told you I was transferred to Arecibo to work. This has been pretty great because I'm with Elder Astle now--we're the youngest companionship in the mission. Elder Jensen--his companion before--went home on the 15th, so that was why the transfer was made. The great thing is all of their investigators are now ours ON TOP of all the investigators that Elder Garcia and I had before both of us left for Toa Baja. So we have a lot of people to work with right now. Christmas Conference was pretty fun: we went to El Yunque, which was cool! I don't have pictures today because I am using the computers in the church. We have to use the computers here because everything basically shuts down on holidays except for bars and the stores. I performed my "Billionaire" Missionary Song at Christmas Conference. haha. President now calls me the "sensation" of the mission just for that song and he made me perform it again this morning at his house for our Christmas breakfast. That was kind of cool. I'll tell you a little bit about what has happened back in Toa Baja/Corozal since I left. I was transferred before Junior's baptism, but he ended up not being baptized because he drank. Then last Saturday he was going to be baptized and I was going to perform it--I had permission because of circumstances with Elder Astle being in the mission choir--but he drank again the night before because of some crazy circumstances. He was at his son's house cooking when ten of his friends came over. They were all drinking and told him if he didn't drink that they would make him: so he drank. He's going to be baptized this Saturday if he doesn't drink again, but that's what has happened with him. I really feel bad for him: he really wanted to be baptized last Saturday, and the whole circumstance was kind of sketchy, but the rules are rules. Although I don't get to baptize Junior, I do get to see the baptisms of Isaias and Genoveva this Saturday: do you remember that I was teaching them before I left? They're being baptized! It's going to be cool to see that. Other than that, I have nothing more to tell you. It was just kind of a slow week: but I love ya! Elder Cevering

Monday, December 17, 2012

December 17, 2012 Email

Hello Family We only have five minutes to write: we're going to Il Yunque for mission conference right now. It should be pretty cool. Some news: I was transferred back to Arecibo. I'll tell you more about that next week when we talk: still plan on around 2-3:00 Puerto Rican time for me to SKYPE. Love ya Elder Cevering

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hello Family! Well, I have some good news and some bad news: the bad news is I am still showering in cold caribean water. The good news is we have baptisms scheduled for this week and next week! And I will be performing the baptism for Junior/Augustine this Saturday. So, it has been a crazy past couple of weeks working in Corozal: it's really great up there working with Maritza, having a cooler climate because we're in the mountains, and getting to enjoy the change of culture from city to campo (jungle). We have Augustine being baptized this Saturday, and we have Martha, Junito, and Ivalys being baptized next Saturday. Augustine is very prepared for baptism: the other day we met at his house and taught his entire family the Plan of Salvation. His entire family lives in the same little alcove of the jungle, so we've met pretty much all of them. He's been teaching them so their interest has increased and they've accepted us. It's really great! But he does more than teach his family: he's come with us to teach other people, and he's also gone with Maritza and the other missionaries to some lessons. How more prepared can you get? I'm so excited for his baptism, and I was really excited when he asked me to baptize him. Typically we have members baptize them, but President told us that in the month of December only missionaries will perform baptisms. So you'll be getting some great pictures! I may not be in Utah, but I guess I'll get to see a white Christmas. Besides that, we have a Jehovah's Witness following us around! haha. There's a great talk titled "The Futility of Fear" in which the speaker tells of a time when he was a mission president and a preacher followed some of his missionaries around to all their appointments and door-contacts. He says in this talk that he told his missionaries "Good"--that the preacher is following you--"because that means the devil's getting scared." That's been my perspective on this wonderful experience with this Jehovah's Witness: both Elder Peacock and I have had some good conversations with her: the most recent one ended with Elder Peacock saying "Until you read the Book of Mormon and pray about it we have nothing to discuss. Through the power of modern day revelation I have received more truth than you and until you cease to fight against that we are done." Then he handed her a Book of Mormon and we left. It was pretty great! With Elder Peacock I've been learning to be bolder, as you can tell from the previous story. But even more than that is this: because Elder Peacock leaves for choir trips once a week I have been running our area: setting up baptismal dates, coordinating lessons, and dealing with our tag-along-Jehovah's Witness. And I just found out twenty minutes ago that he's leaving again Wednesday until Sunday for a choir trip: that means I will be doing a lot for the next couple days. But he told me today that he was praying about the circumstances and he received this inspiration: "Teach Elder Cevering what you can, and then he'll take care of it." HAHA. When I prayed for a mountain to climb, I didn't think it would have so many random inclines :/ But I'll do my best to keep everything running. The other night we had a HUGE snake on our porch: it was wrapped around the railing just traveling along. Elder Peacock was outside talking on the phone when he saw it and shouted haha it was so funny! But I didn't have my camera because it was in the car, which was on the other side of the snake, so I didn't get a picture. I'm sorry! But the story ends with us sicking the Dominican Republic elder on it--Elder Paula--and he knocked it off the porch with a broom. Such a great experience. Living with Latin Americans is really great: they take care of snakes for you, and they also provide a lot of entertainment. We were making smores the other day by putting marshmallows in the microwave: you should have seen the Latins laughing and screaming as the marshmallows expanded in the heat! HAHA. That was one of the greatest things I have ever witnessed. They started grabbing big bowls and butting marshmallows in them to watch them grow, and they would get so excited. Oh man, it was so awesome. Also, in church we were talking about "experiences with the Holy Ghost" and one of the guys said: "One time, after I had prayed and taken my medicine, I climb into bed and a few minutes later I floated and levatated over my bed!" And he was saying that this was a manifestation of the Holy Ghost. One of the guys then said: "Must have been your medicine." HAHA. So great. Besides that I don't have a lot to report: I met a family by the name of Endecott. They used to live in Huntsville years ago and they know the Allens, the Buttars, the Froerers, Alan Mckay, the Packs. The husband works for the Boy Scouts of America and because he served his mission here in Puerto Rico the Boy Scouts sent him here to work. They're a cool family. Well, I am tired! We did a lot today: our P-days are always really crazy. We have been cleaning our house all day, but typically we have meetings until 12:00 before we email, go shopping, and do our cleaning. This week was the exception because some of the missionaries have been living like slobs. So we cleaned and cleaned! I love you all and miss you! Elder Cevering

Puerto Rican Pastry...Looks delicious!

Elder Cevering enjoying a Shish-ka-bob

Thanksgiving Dinner with the Maritza Family

Rice & Beans for Thanksgiving Dinner

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cooking the turkey for Thanksgiving Dinner

A ceiling fan destroyed by the humidity

The "Three Kings" - In Puerto Rico the "Three Kings" bring gifts to the children

Another view of the mountains of Naranjito

The mountains of Naranjito

Email December 3, 2012

Hello Again! I know you're all dying to know how I am: I'm still about 5 feet tall, losing weight (weird?), and trying to work hard! haha. I want you to understand from the beginning that I'm doing well, but I'm still having trials :) My abdomen is NOT healing like it should. But I don't really know what to do about it anymore. I'll just tell you about my week! First let me tell you a little about Hermana Maritza: she's a really fired up member who works with people in the community with different problems that they have (drug/alcohol addictions, anxiety and emotional struggles, etc.). So who does she call to help her out? Just take a guess: the LDS missionaries, who just happen to be Elder Peacock and I. To give you a brief summary of this past week: we taught two people who nearly committed suicide, their families, and tracted Hermana Maritza's entire neighborhood. Everyone invites us in because they know Maritza, and we are having a lot of success in that way. I have a huge testimony of the power of members in missionary work! So, like I said, we taught two different people who almost committed suicide: we dropped by one with a member last Wednesday. We taught him about the restoration and gave him a Book of Mormon. He told us about how he had beat up his wife and that's why he was about to kill himself. He brought his wife out to meet us--bruised under her eyes and very timid--and we talked for a long time. They were very receptive to the message, but we didn't see them again until Saturday. We answered some of their questions about the restoration (the God and Jesus Christ being separate personages and such), and then told them we would be coming back later that night to talk to them because they needed to leave. So that night we went back and he wasn't there: everyone told us he was down at the bar, to which Elder Peacock and I both sighed in frustration. But we went to the bar :) We drove down the street to where it was and while Elder Peacock parked the car I walked up to the door and shouted for him: that was a crazy experience. Here I am, dressed in a white shirt and tie, a short little gringo standing at the door of a bar at 9:00 at night in the middle of Puerto Rico. All the people looked at me, but he emerged from the back, entirely sober, and came and talked with us. Wow. It was one of the more courageous moments of my life...haha. Through that we invited he and his wife to church and....THEY CAME! And they loved it. Elder Peacock and I were so happy! The other person who tried to kill herself was a woman --she tried to stab herself apparently. We got a call from Maritza around 8:00 at night telling us what had happened and asking us to come over. We raced up to her house where she was quivery and on the verge of tears. She invited us into her garage space where we talked for a minute before sharing with her the truth of the atonement. She cried and cried as we reassured her of the love of the Savior, and she told us about how difficult her life was. We just told her of the love of the Lord and shared a few scriptures with her, reassuring her that the Lord felt everything she has ever felt when He suffered in Gethsemane. That calmed her down, and after giving her a Book of Mormon to read, and after a prayer, she was very calm and the Spirit of peace filled the dimly-lit garage. She had stopped crying entirely when we left. We visited her the next day too and she was doing really well: she's been reading the Book of Mormon to her daughter and they are both really interested in learning more so we are going back tonight. Besides all of that we have two baptismal dates for next Saturday (December 15th). The first is named Augustine and he's a good friend of Maritza's. He's a farmer who lives deeper in the jungle with his uncle and cousin. He immediately accepted our message and has been reading the Book of Mormon ravenously (and for him reading is hard, so ravenous means about 8 pages, which is a huge accomplishment). A lot of people Maritza helps can't actually read, but Augustine has been doing his best to read and he's learned a lot. He has come to church three weeks straight and really wants to get baptized. His only struggle is with the Word of Wisdom, which he wants to live but doesn't have a lot of support from his uncle and cousin who make fresh alcohol from the sugar cane that they farm. But I sure love him: he's one of the humblest men I've ever met. The other baptismal candidate we have is named Martha--and I've already told you a lot about her. She's quite a character! But she has some struggles with her husband. We're working hard to get them more united but one of them is always sick. Her husband--Jimmy--has diabetes, and it's really bad I guess. I don't really know the nature of diabetes, but I do know that a lot of people here in Puerto Rico have it. Jimmy's can make him pretty sick...I don't know if that's it though for sure. I'm not a doctor. I got an email from Elder Liston last week and a letter from Elder Hansen, and I get emails from Elder Marriot--I was so happy! haha. I have been pretty emotional these past couple of weeks and Cragun's letter about had me crying...ABOUT. But not entirely. It's just good to hear from your friends who are serving alongside you, even if it's from a different part of the world. I'm not here for them, but they definitely motivate me. And hearing about all of my girl-friends who are leaving is a big inspiration to me. I'm stoked to hear that Shayna is going to Texas - Spanish Speaking :) Well, there isn't much else to say. I'm just trying to be a good missionary :) I love you all a lot! Elder Cevering

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sammy & Wandy's Baptism

November 26, 2012 Email

Hello Family! Well...Let me just be honest right from the start: the way I've been feeling is very day-to-day. I'll give you more background of what has happened and then jump into my past week. So, we went to the surgeon two weeks ago where we learned that I have abdominal tears in my umbulicular muscle, which have the potential to cause a hernia. However, there were no hernias caused so nothing happened. However, I was given instructions not to bike or exercise or such, and that I would have to come back in two weeks. Well, tomorrow would be two weeks. Am I going back to the hospital tomorrow? No. HAHA. They think that I'm "Just Fine" so there's no need to pay the money. But now, to let you know how I'm doing today: I am doing alright. Like I said in the beginning of this email I feel very day-to-day. I'm going to try to describe it: Missionary Work is very different from what I ever thought it would be like. Now, I knew it was going to be hard work and I knew I wasn't just going to baptize a bunch of people, and I knew that working with companions wasn't going to be an easy life. I knew I'd have to do my own laundry and cooking and shopping. 6:30 A.M. was always something I dreaded before my mission. And none of that bothers me: I enjoy the independent feeling of being on a mission. But through all of this experience--the injury, etc.--I think the hardest thing has been asking myself: "Why am I here?" Well, it's definitely not for my mission president, and it's definitely not for my companions. It's definitely not for my parents--because I'm too selfish to do this for anyone but ME. So, why am I here? For me. This is something I've wanted to do all my life. I want to be here to help other people come unto Christ: there's no question about that in my mind. But with the injury and the anxiety I began to feel like I was going to lose that opportunity. I began to fear injuring myself more, or something like that. Throw all of that onto a newborn missionary and what does he do? Haha. It's funny. I don't know the purpose of all of this, and I don't know if I ever will know for sure. But I'm just trying to take it all a day at a time. It's really tough right now: but here's the good news: I LOVE where I am now, and I love my new companion, and I love the members I work with. I was reassigned to the Toa Baja zone here on Puerto Rico (east of Arecibo, west of San Juan), and I am specifically assigned to work in an area named Corozal and Naranjito. It is BEAUTIFUL! It's a little "pueblo"--or town--in the mountains. The roads are narrow, the clouds sink down into the valley during the day, and at night I just listen to the coquis in the fields as I walk. It's a wonderful place. I love looking at the lights in the pueblo as we walk the hills at night. My companion is Elder Peacock--he is a great missionary! He was the assistant-mission trainer for the mission before he became my companion. That means he did a lot of traveling to teach missionaries here. So he's really smart, but he's also a very open learner: he asks me a lot of questions about things just to learn, which is great. We have some good discussion. He's from Kaysville so that's not far from home. I live with six missionaries right now: one from El Salvador, one from Honduras, one from the Dominican Republic, and then Elder Peacock and another Elder from Utah. There are less than 10 members in Corozal and Naranjito--I guess I should say ACTIVE members. They all have to drive down the mountain to go to church. So Elder Peacock and I want to work to be able to create a Branch up here, but that's all just our opinions. We think it's possible and that it would really help the area and the members. We have two investigators in Corozal with baptismal dates (Martha and Augustine). This past week when we invited Martha to be baptized we had a great discussion with her: we talked about the need for priesthood authority in baptism, which she understood really well. She's been baptized twice before (Catholic and Pentecostal) but she said she was excited to be baptized again! haha. But the cool story comes here: She told us that when her aunt died years ago she had a dream of her aunt standing at the doors of heaven, knocking and trying to get in. She said that that was surprising to her because she thought she would have seen her aunt inside heaven. So she told us "Now I understand why I had that dream: She wasn't baptized by the proper authority!" To that we taught her about baptisms for the dead, which she was so excited about. One of the members up here in Corozal likes to call Elder Peacock a lot of different bird names, so that's where the title comes from. Some days he'll yell "Elder Chicken!"or "Elder Rooster!" It's really great. And as for my McGuana title, that was something that one of the AP's said last week to another missionary. There's not anything really funny behind it. Please don't worry too much about me! Just be glad to know that I love where I am right now :) I love you all and miss you all a lot! Elder Cevering

Monday, November 12, 2012

November 12, 2012

Hello Family! Here I have been in Puerto Rico...sitting on a couch the last few days in the home of Sister Visker (the mission nurse). I am going a little bit crazy...I am going to the orthopeudic doctor tomorrow to find out what's wrong with me. To let you know more specifically about how I am physically, I am feeling worse now than I did when I was working: right now my abdomen just aches really bad! I alternate my bag of ice hour-by-hour, and rest all day long, taking Ibuprofen ever 4 hours to reduce the inflammation I have (I've never felt so pregnant! haha). So overall, I'm just ready to not have this issue anymore. I'll tell you more about the circumstances in a minute, but just know that if Monte says it takes 6 weeks to heal, I am going to go insane! I really wonder if I'm going to be home soon: to rest and recover. We don't have the means here to help me recover the way I think I should: I can't just stay in this house for 6 weeks: every day I sit around from 9:00 A.M. until 9:00 P.M. The AP's pick me up and take me to different houses to sleep in for the night (I'm not allowed to sleep here because I'm not sick enough and I also don't have a male companion--and living in a house of females is WEIRD), then they bring me back in the morning. I've gone out and worked once--I'll tell you more about that--and I was in a lot of pain after that. So we went to the hospital, got my CT scan (the scan preparation drink they gave me was terrible!), and it just so happens to turn out that all my insides are fine---------but the funny thing was, we still had no idea what was wrong with my abdomen. We'd done tests on everything else--blood, intestines, liver, kidney, blah, blah, blah--but not the muscle that I had hurt. Wow. I was so incredibly frustrated. I haven't gotten angry, but I've been pretty down about this whole thing. There are some perks to living with the mission nurse though: last week she had to go to the south side of the island to a city named Guayamo. I had to go with her because she is my "companion", so I have been able to see more of the island. The south side is nowhere near as pretty as the north side--at least, as far as what I've seen. It's really flat and hot: there are a lot of cactus there. While we were in Guayamo I went on an exchange with a missionary--Sister Visker was meeting with his companion. We met with a member and his non-member wife and her cousin. It was actually a great lesson! We talked about The Book of Mormon and invited them to be baptized, to which they both accepted: it was a really powerful lesson! There aren't really a lot of words to describe it. I'm really grateful to have had that experience. I didn't know who those people were, I don't even remember their names: but I was able to share my testimony with them and bring them closer to Christ. Besides that, my life is really boring. There is nothing else to tell you about my week: so I'll give you more information about my injury. I injured my abdomen more than 3 weeks ago! I was using the ab wheel, and as I was in the downward motion--ab flexed, body straight, knees on the ground--I felt a sharp, hot pain run straight up my ab. I fell on my face and just started laughing because it hurt so bad: I'm sure you wouldn't think that would make it funny, but I couldn't stop laughing. It took me about 10 minutes to get up, and when I did get up I spent the next hour on the couch just gripping my ab because of the pain. As time went on I did my best to work: the pain moved into my back and even down above my groin. I began to feel like I had a needle in my side, and my stomach was swollen. I felt bloated! haha and I still do. The pain kept me up at nights, and the weakness in my core wore me out by mid-afternoon. Even after we got a car I had a difficult time turning the wheel after a couple hours of driving, and my back would start to hurt really bad because there wasn't much strength coming from my abdomen to support me. So that was my life for the last three weeks: work and rest, rest and work, go to the hospital to have my kidneys and other insides checked, go back to work...etc. So, now I'm here living with Sister Visker and I'm still not improving: three weeks after the injury, four days of rest: no improvement. I just sit around and talk to the sister missionaries all day: which is really weird. There are three that live here: Sister Visker, Sister Stoddard (who are both senior missionaries), and Sister Medina (she's from California, born in Mexico). The only really great thing about living here is getting to be with the AP's at night: there's one named Elder Medina (he's from Chile) and he's hilarious! He's learning English right now so he'll talk to me in English a lot. He was asking me about my injury, and as I finished telling him he said "Oh Elder, I'm sorry. You're in the uh...um...oven? Yeah! Oven of affliction!" HAHA oh man, it was so funny! He's really hilarious: in fact, all Latin American missionaries are pretty funny. The AP's have had me sleep with a lot of different people over the past few nights: I spent one night with some Elders from Panama, some Elders from the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Chile. I'm learning Spanish really well! HAHA. But, the bottom line is, nothing exciting is happening, and it doesn't look like anything exciting will be happening soon! Don't be surprised though if you get an email that says I'm coming home. That's the hard part: this injury has brought me to the depths of decision and desire. What do I want right now? That's the question I ask myself every day: What do I want? Haha I laugh at myself for praying for "Mountains to Climb", and I laugh because the prayers have clearly been answered: I've never been so conflicted in my life than now! Mountains to climb! I am really grateful to all of you that have been writing me! I wrote a lot of letters before I came to live with Sister Visker, but I didn't bring any of them with me because I didn't think I'd get the chance to go to the office to send them. So all those letters will have to wait (Olivia Buttars, Tanner Family, Bailey Love, Lund Family). I'm sorry! Maybe you'll get them hand delivered sometime next week ; I got your letters though. Thank you for sending me a pillow! haha there are really no pillows in this world we call the Puerto Rico San Juan mission. I have only had one pillow in the three different places I've slept in the past few days. Isn't that crazy? Well, I really have nothing else to say. I love you all! Don't worry about me: I know that's the same as asking you not to breathe, but I'm doing alright. Elder Cevering

Friday, November 9, 2012

Update on Elder Cevering's Injury

Brother and Sister Cevering, Today Elder Cevering and I have spent the entire day together. I picked him up at 6:00 AM in Arecibo and made it back to San Juan at 9:00 AM to have the CT exam. The results came back at 4:00PM and it shows everything as normal. All of the tests to this point have come back normal. It is looking more like we have an abdominal muscle tear. We spoke with an orthopedic doctor after receiving the results and he thinks it could also be an abdominal tear. He ordered complete rest, ice every hour along with ibuprofen every four hours. He will evaluate the treatment and severity of the pull on Tuesday. Elder Cevering will spend his days with me resting, studying, icing, and healing. He will spend the nights in an elder’s apartment not far from me. His attitude is very positive about this course of action. He is also making a plan to use his down time wisely getting closer to his Heavenly Father, becoming more familiar with Preach My Gospel and studying in depth some gospel topics that he and the chooses. I appreciate that you have raised him to be always a gentleman. We will keep you up dated on his progress. Sister Mary Visker R.N. Puerto Rico San Juan Mission Nurse

Monday, November 5, 2012

View of Arecibo Puerto Rico

An Iguana & a Spider

Helping Investigator to make Christmas Lights

Chinese/Puerto Rican Food

Coqui Frogs

November 5, 2012

Hello Family! Well, I know you're all dying to know how things went at the doctor: as of right now, I have no idea what has happened! Haha. All I can tell you is I didn't pass an abdominal-rub test, then I was sent to a hospital-like location. But I don't know the results yet: we were supposed to get my x-ray results today, but my sonogram work won't be ready until Wednesday. So, I go to the doctor last Monday: Elder Astle and I had NO idea where it was . We found it eventually, but it was tough. Then I met with the doctor, he tested me on some things, wrote up some papers, and told me I should go to the hospital to get an x-ray and all that. Well, I was thinking and hoping that I would be able to do that the next day but I couldn't, because President Alvarado didn't want me to. He made me wait until Friday of last week to go to the hospital. President told me to just work hard and not to drive the car as much as I should bike, even though Sister Visker (our nurse) and the doctor both told me to not bike with my injury. He didn’t want me to go until Friday because that was the day of our zone conference: he would rather have me work through the pain for the week and miss two hours of zone conference. I'm sorry, I'm really not in a good mood right now. I LOVE my investigators, I LOVE Puerto Rico. But I'm really struggling with this whole injury thing. Elder Garcia and President want me to work a lot more than I feel capable of, and a lot more than Sister Visker and the doctor have told me. But in not working according to Elder Garcia's and President's standards, I then gain the reputation of a lazy elder...frustrating! Alright, enough of the negative. Let me say here real quick thank you to everyone that sent me a letter or card for Halloween: the Tanners, Lunds, Grandma and Grandpa, and Olivia Buttars! You all made my week that much better. The rest of my week was very uneventful, as you can imagine: we actually spent a lot of time in meetings last week: Last Wednesday night we had a meeting at the mission office. As you can imagine, we were trying to avoid the fanfare of what every missionary loves to call "The most dangerous night for a missionary". And then Thursday morning we had a meeting with the first counselor in the General Young Men's presidency: Larry Gibson. It was pretty good! He gave us some good ideas for working with our wards, which is the main focus right now here in Puerto Rico. We're about to implement some great ideas in our ward which I think will rapidly increase the excitement over missionary work in Arecibo. We didn't have a baptismal service last Saturday: I'm sorry that I failed to tell you that none of our investigators attended Church the week before, so they couldn't be baptized. The mission rule is investigators have to attend 3 straight Sunday services before they can be baptized. So, we're back--essentially--to square one and are waiting for the end of the month, hoping our investigators will be faithful and come to church! Haha I really love all of them. We started teaching a great kid this past week. He's 17 and preparing for college here: he's very religious, but his family is essentially uncaring towards religion, though they believe in "good-and-bad" things. We passed him last Tuesday and talked with him and invited him to read a pamphlet about the Restoration, then we met with him Saturday and asked him how it went. He then proceeded to tell us that he prayed about the truth of our message and received a feeling that he could not describe, and that he knew what we are teaching him is true. Elder Garcia and I were so excited! We gave him a Book of Mormon and he is excitedly reading. The couple we are teaching are both...at a stand still haha He is not progressing more with his smoking addiction, and because of his work he can't get to church. He's way busy making his lights right now: we actually helped him make a few last Saturday, hoping that would help him have the time to attend church, but he still told us he doesn't think he'll be able to attend church until December. I think his decisions are impacting his wife: they both know our message is true, but their lack of church attendance keeps them from the font: and she would attend church but he isn't. Hmmm...what can we do? Haha we're praying really hard for them. Well, that's really all about it! Tonight I'm headed up to spend the night with the district leader. Hooray for sleepovers! We'll see how this week goes...I'm confident things are going to be fine! Love Elder Cevering

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October 29, 2012 Email

Hello Family! Well, I have some bad news: this letter is going to be short! Sister Alvarado called me a little while ago and wants to take me to the doctor's office to have my body checked out: the pain has spread bad into my back and into other parts. Our mission nurse thinks it's torn, and signs seem to be pointing to that. This injury has basically put me out of commission for the past week! There was a night where I HAD to bike with Elder Garcia to another city because the other elders had our car, and the lesson we had planned was really important--you might ask, "Why didn't you call a member?" We did. No one could help us out. So, we biked the ten mile route, and I immediately dropped into bed when we got home: my body is not responding well to this injury! I'm sure you know this, but an abdominal injury impacts your upper and lower body, your back, and thus everything. So...I'm feeling a little down. I don't have a lot of pain unless I do a lot of walking or biking, but I feel a huge lack of support from my core: my back is taking most of the weight, which isn't really good...So I'm headed to the doctor! Because of all that my week was very uneventful! We had three lessons, one with a new investigator: Jorge Andujos! The couple we are teaching are both improving with the Word of Wisdom: he dropped from 2 packs of cigarettes a day to just one, which is great! We're really excited for him, and we can see how happy his wife is as well to see him improving. She is such a happy person! She's entirely dropped coffee: so they're both working really hard to be prepared for their baptism, which is now planned for November 24. Haha! We have to keep bumping it back because they haven't attended church--we tried to teach them about it this week, but each night we visited something came up that caused our lessons to fall short. Elder Garcia is really bothered by that: he almost had a Hondurian temper tantrum when they didn't show up to church. Jorge Andujos is pretty great! Elder Garcia and Elder Jensen found him over a month ago, but they were a little lazy and only now did we start teaching him. He had a golden question: "Where do we go after this life?" He's Catholic, but--and I didn't understand everything about this--he didn't feel like he received his answer from his priest...or something to that effect. I'm still learning to understand Puerto Rican: the Puerto Rico version of Spanish. Anyway, Jorge has throat cancer, and he's "preparing" himself to die, or so he told us. So we taught him about the plan of salvation and he loved it! His only question about it was infant baptism: he wanted to know why we teach that infants don't need to be baptized. We taught him the doctrine and he seemed to accept it, I'm not entirely sure though. He's a really funny guy, and I wish I could help him out more! He isn't capable of paying for all his treatments, so he hasn't received them yet. He and his wife are working really hard to have the means to pay for the medical bills they already have, so it's hard to meet with him. I wish I was capable of doing more for people! I feel that quite often here: especially when a member--who we know has hardly anything to give!--invites you to their house for dinner where they pull out a small box of ice cream and cake--their little kids cheering in excitement because they NEVER have ice cream--and you eat...while the wife feeds her kids and the husband only eats a little bit because he has to get ready to work a night shift in order to support his family. I've almost cried in front of families just because of how grateful I am to them, and I cry inside for a blessing to be on their house! These people are so good! The humble ones. Those who really know what it means to be simply a good person! We meet plenty of good people here: Catholic, Protestant, Mormon: all good people who bless the lives of others! It's incredible to see what people will give and do, even when they have hardly anything. Well, I'm out of time. I would have sent pictures, but I didn't have time for that. I'm sorry! I took some good ones too! To answer your questions: 1-I have no idea what's going to happen on Halloween. I believe we come in early for the night. 2-I did give Arelys' stepfather's address to some missionaries: their names are Elder Foggin and Mendez. I talked to them today at a meeting and they said they will be going soon. Now that I hear this from Arelys, I'll give them a call while I'm on my way to the doctor. 3-Christmas ideas: ties. I will continue to think about other things. I'd really like just a small pillow. Travel size. I don't have a pillow right now, and most apartments don't have pillows. I've been using some sheets wrapped up in my pillow case for the past 3 weeks to rest my head on. I can't believe how much snow you have! I miss the snow already. I'm getting used to the heat, but I really look forward to ending my mission right before Fall. I think I know what I'm going to do when I get home: work again. Gotta go. Love ya. Love Elder Cevering!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

October 22, 2012 Email

Hello Family! Well...week 2 down. What a week! It was a fast one, to be entirely honest, but just wait till you hear the things that have happened! First off, your favorite missionary (that's me) now has to do all contacting from a car: no more biking for a week :( I was doing some workouts last Friday and I did something to my abs. I was using one of those ab wheels (it's a little thing that Gold's Gym produces) and the rest is history...I wasn't able to stand or get up for about ten minutes after the injury, just because of the pain: we were in all day Friday because of me! HA. It was terrible. But on Saturday I went out with Elder Garcia: that was both a blessing and a mistake! We got to work hard for our investigators, but imagine the pain I was in yesterday (Sunday). It was really bad! We biked at least 20 miles and I was covered in sweat, and my body ached terrible. I fell asleep fast that night, but because of the injury I didn't sleep well. Then yesterday because of the pain we didn't go out to work, only to Sacrament. I called the mission nurse and she told me she doesn't want me biking or walking long distances (no biking at all!). She doesn't think I tore the muscle, but she is restricting me from all exercise EXCEPT for missionary work--which I can only do if I use a car! Haha! Oh man, this is going to be an interesting week. Alright, so in other news: we have 3 baptismal candidates right now. I really love them, they're great people! I think I told you about them already. The husband has a smoking problem, and the wife is addicted to coffee as well, so we taught them about the Word of Wisdom. He was smiling in pain when we talked about the use of tobacco being contrary to the Lord's commandments: he's a big man with a bit of a beard and mustache, glasses, and a lot of white hair! I would compare him to Santa Claus, but he's not fat like Mr. Navidad. He makes Christmas lights though (I'll send you a picture of one of the lights he made). He's been smoking since he was 16 and now I think he's in his 60's, so it's going to be tough for him to overcome that addiction. We've been praying for him, but he smoked two boxes last Saturday! She has actually been off coffee since we taught the Word of Wisdom! She really loves the gospel: she was the second of the two to accept it. She's one of the kindest, most understanding people, and she really helps him a lot. Right now is their busy season for work: a lot of people buy their Isaias's Christmas lights, so that consumes their life night and day. They do it by hand, so it's really time-consuming! Their son has a job--I have no idea where though! We are only able to drop by his house after 7:00 at night because of his work. But he has a bad leg from an accident years ago. He accepted the gospel immediately! He was sick yesterday though so he couldn't attend church. Their grandson is also one of our investigators, but he's a lot busier than his dad. He's probably 21 or 22, but the young adults here work a lot (if they can find a job). I don't know where he works either! Besides that, most of our week was lost because of my injury! And because our area is so big and because we only have bikes it's difficult to visit everyone we want to. Elder Garcia is going to ask President Alvarado for a car: we have one, but the other elders use it because their areas are farther than ours'. As for now we're planning a lot of exchanges: I'll go with Elder Jensen, and Elder Astle will go with Elder Garcia. It's the only solution! Elder Garcia is really great! He's learning English pretty well: he just doesn't discipline himself to use-it-in-order-to-learn-it. He and I get along really well, but we've had a few long discussions about missionary work because we disagree with each other. He has a lot of ideas of how to do missionary work (which are great!) but he forgets to use Preach My Gospel. A lot of the time he takes one principle from Preach My Gospel but doesn't apply the other ones, so he doesn't do all that is necessary. For example, this morning we were planning a lesson for a family: he asked me to lead the plan, so I said we should teach about the Plan of Salvation. He immediately shut that idea down, so I pried into why. He said: "We need to 'Teach People, not Lessons'" which is one of the fundamentals of Preach My Gospel. I said: "Yeah, that's what I want to do: we'll take the Plan of Salvation and apply it to him and his challenges." It took him 20 minutes--and a lot of reading in Preach My Gospel--to finally agree with what I was wanting to do. When he understood he still blamed me for the waste of time haha it was lame. He's not rude at all! But he's one of those missionaries who's a little bit eccentric! Yesterday he went on a cleaning rampage in the kitchen because he "couldn't feel the Spirit when he opened the fridge" because it wasn't that organized. Haha. He's so funny. Teaching him English is fun because I get to mess with him! The other day the four of us (Elder Jensen, Astle, Garcia, and I) were driving and we were teaching him "English". Elder Jensen pointed at his eyebrow and said "Buttcheek!" So time goes on and Elder Garcia says "What, what does buttcheeks mean? These things on my forehead?" Oh man, I thought we were going to die from laughter. Elder Jensen was driving but he was laughing so hard. Not much else has happened here in this great island of Puerto Rico! They have great chinese food :) haha but that's all else. I had some the other day! They give you fries with it...which is interesting. I really miss you all: I find a lot of comfort in thinking about "reunion": with family and friends in two years! Time will only make that reunion sweeter :) I miss you all! Love ya. Elder Cevering

Elder Cevering in Arecibo, Puerto Rico!

"San Francisco" Puerto Rico

At the top of "San Francisco Hill"

At the mouth of "San Francisco Hill" where they bike every day

Elder Cevering's First Companion in Puerto Rico - Elder Garcia

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Elder Cevering's Apartment in Arecibo

Elder Cevering's "Front Yard" View

Elder Cevering's "Backyard" View

October 15, 2012

Hello from Puerto Rico! Let me start by saying I love my mission president! President Alvarado is incredibly kind and incredibly straight forward. I believe he may be one of the most inspired mission presidents to ever have been called. That's my "spirit of testimony" coming out. He met us at the airport, took us to his home, and the next day we had interviews. I'll tell you all about it: He started by asking me questions about all of you and about myself. He took a picture with me on his cell phone and sent it to someone...I don't know who haha. But after all this he started talking to me about more serious things. He said: "The day you got your mission call I got two phone calls: one from my brother, and one from my adopted brother, both telling me that they'd gotten the news that you, Elder Cevering, were coming to MY mission." Then, with tears in his eyes, and in a very serious tone, he said, "You are the friend of my niece; my brother served with your uncle; and now you are serving with me. You are my family." And then again he paused and got even more serious and said, "I have been waiting for YOU to come since I heard your name." Then he told me about how he had me assigned to a different area before I arrived in Puerto Rico but the morning of assignments he received the impression to send me to Arecibo (I'll give you more details about Arecibo later), and he said: "I believe you are going to see miracles. The Lord is preparing you for something." I sincerely hope I can meet his expectations! Serving a mission is not easy: I never thought it would be! Please pray sincerely and definitively for me: don't just pray for my safety or my teaching ability. Please pray for me to have the strength and faith to do these things! So, Puerto Rico! I love it a lot! Mom, you'd really like it here! It's not as cultural as Hawaii, but it's very tropical, and the beaches are beautiful from what I can see. I don't think you'd like it as much as Hawaii, but it's cool. I am progressing in Spanish very fast. I've already been asked if I am from Puerto Rico, and I've had many people tell me I have a natural Spanish accent. My area is Arecibo: it's west of San Juan, close to the coast. It includes a lot of jungle area, or "campo" in Spanish. We live in the city, but we bike a lot in the jungles to teach people. I will attach some pictures. We live in a two story house on the top floor--I sent a picture. It is really nice, but we are currently living with 2 other companionships because one companionship does not have a house yet in their area. They serve in Barceloneta, which is right next to our area here in Arecibo. Elder Jensen is in his final transfer, and Elder Foggin has 3 months left. They are not trunky which makes it nice for me. Elder Foggin is from McGrath, Alberta, Canada. Does Colby know him? Before I got here there were only two elders in Arecibo (one companionship--Elder Garcia and Elder Jensen). President changed it to 2 companionships for us (Elder Garcia and I, and Elder Jensen and Elder Astle). Elder Astle came with me from Provo. Elder Foggin and Elder Medina (who flew from the Dominican MTC the same day we flew from Provo) are the ones who serve in Barceloneta. Elder Medina is from El Salvador. A lot of Spanish speaking goes on in our house! Which is good because that helps us learn. My companion is Elder Garcia: he's from Honduras and has been out for 21 months. He's been in Arecibo (the same area) for 14 months! Isn't that crazy? But he's been here long enough to see it develop from a Branch to a ward, so that's cool. I really hope that's not me though haha I want to serve on other parts of the island. He's only served in three areas. He doesn't speak English, so it's all Spanish for us. President Alvarado wants me to teach him English though, so I've been teaching him, which has actually helped me learn Spanish a lot. And since he knows the area so well he knows a lot of ways to talk to people, and a lot of them know him. He had about 5 investigators when I got here, but in the past week we improved that number to 20 investigators! This week is going to be a busy one! I really enjoy working with the members here. Member missionary work is very effective: people are grateful for the chance to befriend someone their age, someone who is more like them than 20 year olds haha. All the members call us Utah missionaries Factory Products because of the number of missionaries who are from Utah. The number of English speaking Elders has changed in the past two years though: there are now 75 percent Latin American missionaries and 25 percent American, which is a huge change! President says that number used to be the opposite: 75 American and 25 Latin American. I'll tell you about a couple of our investigators: we had a lesson with a couple in a small city called Hatillo. The husband makes Christmas lights for a living, and they are way cool! He and his wife have never really attended any church, but are firm believers in God. Elder Garcia had taught them before, so this week we invited them to be baptized and they accepted. Their baptismal date is November 3rd, and we're really excited about that! They're a really cool couple. He has a smoking problem, so we're going to talk about the Word of Wisdom this week. I hope that works out well! I do believe he won't have a problem with giving it up for his beliefs. But we're praying for him! We also are teaching a man named Jose. He was in a car accident years ago and due to inadequate medical services his leg is pretty messed up. But he came to church with us and loved it! It's pretty crazy how it worked out actually: when we go to church we are actually supposed to go contacting during Sunday School hour. So Elder Garcia and I went out contacting and ran into Jose driving around trying to find the church. We led him to the church and he had a great time. Haha when we were sustaining people in their callings he would raise his hand to sustain them too. He's really cool. There's a city here in our area called San Francisco: it's in the mountains, and it's really cool! We went contacting there yesterday and as we were passing a house this man darted to his fence and said "Estan precidando?" which means "Are you preaching?" And we said yes, so he invited us in, but Elder Garcia and I both felt like we shouldn't. We stayed out on the road and talked to him. He told us about how he was crucified with Christ on the cross and was recently reincarnated. He also said a lot of other things that had both of us a little bit scared of him haha but all is well! We left him with a pamphlet to read and don't plan to go back! It was one of many bone-chilling experiences I'm sure to have here on this wonderful island! There's a lot of witchcraft here: and I'm serious about that! A lot of paganism and we've found some weird things out in the jungles! I have not eaten much native food here. Puerto Rico is more Americanized than Hawaii in my opinion. There are fruit stands--and I love the pineapple here!--but there are more restaurants from America! Wendys. McDonalds. KRISPY KREME! And a lot of Chinese restaurants...which is weird to me haha but the Chinese food here IS really good. The culture here is more laid back than even in Hawaii: people work and go to church and sit out on their porches or watch TV when they are not doing anything else. They speak Spanish WAY different than other people. Their Spanish is really weird--I cannot explain a lot, but they speak fast and don’t pronounce a lot of things. But I understand them really well...I really am meant to be here. There are these frogs here called coquis: they make the coolest sound! For example: when we landed here in Puerto Rico I drove with the APs to Presidents house. In the little community he lives in, there were these really high pitched chirping sounds. I asked the APs if they were birds, and they said: They are frogs! It is really cool. They are loud enough to hear over the sounds of cars. I promise it is not annoying either. There are a lot near our house, so every night when I am studying or eating I go out on our porch and listen to the coquis. I have seen a million roosters: in fact, they wake us up at about 3 o clock every morning. There are also a lot of iguanas. Haha they are so funny to watch! They go running from the trees into the streets and stop, and then run back when cars come by. They are really big too! Not small like the millions of geckos here. So that is cool: there are a lot of different animals here, I just cannot think of all of them right now. I have not seen a monkey yet, but I really want to. Maybe if I get further inland I will see some. There are also a lot of wild dogs. This is funny: when we are out contacting we will see a group of dogs sleeping in the shade on the side of the road haha you would laugh if you saw it. It is sad to, because most of them have no food or shelter. We ride bikes a lot. My legs are going to be huge soon. When we bike to San Francisco that is about a 12-13 mile round trip—that’s not including the amount of time we spend walking and riding while we are in San Francisco. It may even be longer than 12-13 miles there and back, but I don’t know. All I know is every day my legs hurt pretty bad. But I haven’t been sleeping well. It’s been worse since getting here. Maybe it’s just all the stress, but it’s something I want to get cleared up. People here are really kind! They will talk to you, and even if they don’t want to hear more from you they will offer you water. I have been given water, capri suns, star-fruit, avocado, and packages of candy from people. It is great! haha they are way kind. Elder Garcia thinks they are mean--I told him he ought to try tracting in Utah to the non-members :) he was surprised to hear that I think the people here are kinder than people in the United States. The people here are really kind! They'll never turn down a short discussion! But most of them don't want you to return :) I think we are finally leaving. Love you all and miss you. Elder Cevering

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Elder Cevering with President & Sister Alvarado in Puerto Rico

Elder Cevering Arrives in Puerto Rico

Hi Everyone, We have not heard from Michael since he called us from the airport on Monday as he left for Puerto Rico. But yesterday we received an email from his mission president with photos, letting us know that Michael made it there safely. Michael’s mission president looks like a super nice and happy guy! I love him just by looking at his picture! He looks like the most friendly man! And Michael looks happy, but tired! They were up at 2:00 AM Monday morning and didn’t arrive in Puerto Rico until 7:00 PM. Since we may not hear from him at all this week I’ll tell you some things he told me over the phone. First of all, he was extremely happy to be out of the MTC! He was going stir crazy and he hated the food there. He said that after 8 weeks of studying Spanish, it was getting hard to focus anymore. He called us from Dallas because in SLC he would have only had about 10 minutes or less to talk to us, but in Dallas he had a 3 ½ layover and we got to talk for about 30 minutes. He said when the announcement was made during General Conference (regarding the mission age had been changed from 19 to 18 for boys, and from 21 to 19 for girls), there was a HUGE cheer from all of the missionaries there. He was really excited and told me to let him know of anyone he went to school with, friends, family, etc., who decide to leave earlier than 19, or 21. I would love it if you would keep me posted so I can let Michael know. He was really excited about the change. From SLC to Dallas he said he sat by a lady from Guatemala and she was a member of the church. It made us wonder if she was here for General Conference or something because what are the chances of sitting by someone from Guatemala who is also a member of the church. He has been living with the mission president – in the mission home, since he arrived on Monday. Today he is supposed to move to his apartment with his new companion. We don’t know where he was assigned to, or anything about his companion, so we are anxious to receive an email from him! Although he misses his family and friends, he’s ready to ‘go to work’, and he’s very happy. As soon as we receive an email from him we will pass it along. Thanks to everyone for your prayers and support (and letters!) for Michael! We all appreciate it! Melanie Cevering

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

October 2, 2012 Hello Family! Well, this is it! I am FINALLY leaving el CCM in less than a week. I cannot tell you how incredibly happy that makes me: and sadly, I really have almost nothing to tell you from the past week. It was ROUGH. And it was incredibly uneventful. I am excited to finally get to Puerto Rico--I leave next Monday the 8th, and I stay in the mission home until Thursday of next week. Cool right? Alright, so this past week our investigator Li revoked his baptismal commitment. We had our awesome lesson with him, and then our next lesson he just blew it all off. Elder Acor was pretty angry. I was frustrated, but I didn't get as mad haha but it was one of a few things that made the week tough! There's a sort of wall you reach at the MTC with the language that's impossible to pass without immersion in, and practical use of, the language, or so I believe. I feel like I've reached that wall, and now I'm just pushing against it. There are some things I still have to work on (you can never do too much memorizing :)). But I'm really just ready to get out and talk with real Spanish Speakers. There's no substitute for that. We got to watch the Brigham City temple dedication last week, and that was really cool! I thought President Packer's talk was powerful. Dad, will you tell me the significance of the historical artifacts being placed in the cornerstone? I'd never heard of that until this dedication. Besides that, the only thing I can think of to tell you is about my email title: There's an Elder in my district, Elder Larsen is his name, who does incredible impressions. His best one is of Batman :) haha I wish you could see it. But he also likes to do impressions of the first counselor of our branch, whose name is Brother Bradford. He's this bald guy with a double chin that dangles on his shirt and quivers when he talks. He says some pretty awesome things like this: "I'm sure if we could get all you missionaries into a room with some truth serum, we'd be able to get you all to confess you're just here cause you didn't want to see your mama cry!" Well, we all like to have a good laugh about that every once in a while, so we'll joke about truth serum: then Elder Larsen will do this double chin impersonation that's pretty great. That's a lot of background information for this story: but we were in class with Hermana Eyring, and Elder Larsen did this impression of him. We were all laughing and she smiled and asked "Elder, is he your branch president?" And Elder Larsen said, "No, he's more like the court jester." And we all laughed even harder at that. It was hilarious. I wish you could share in my enthusiasm over that. We stole a little basketball hoop from one of the Elders in our district. We've been playing PIG every night, and I've been doing some winning :) Elder Acor got SO much candy and food for his birthday last week, so we have had quite a time with that. But despite all the food and the sitting around, guess how much weight I've gained: none! I've lost 4 pounds since coming here. Would you consider that unhealthy? Haha. Oh well, it's better than gaining 12 pounds like some elders have already... Thank you for sending me salsa mom! And tell grandpa thank you for the LDS news and his and grandma's letters! A missionary's favorite thing is getting something in the mail. It's almost stressful to not get letters haha. Now that I'm a missionary I look back on the past year and feel terrible for not doing a better job at writing my friends. Alright, to answer some questions: the MTC has actually upset my stomach a lot, but it's been much better the past week. I blame the food though, because I was fine for my first three weeks here. I'm positive I'll be perfectly fine once I'm out of here and the food isn't so bad. I will be flying to Puerto Rico next Monday, the 8th! I'll be at the airport at around 4 in the morning, and my plane flies to Texas at 6. So I can call you between 4:30 and 5:30, or I can call you once I get to Dallas. I'll be in Dallas from 9:30 to 12:30. So whatever you want me to do I'll do. But you need to send me the phone card. I don't know what I would want in a package. Dad offered jerky, and that sounds great! I'd definitely go for some of that. Besides that, don't send me much because of how soon I'm leaving. I have a question about the family pictures we took: when do I get to see them? I want to see how they ALL turned out, including mine :) I love you all! The next time you hear from me will be from the airport :) I love the people of Puerto Rico, and look forward to becoming a Puertoriqueño soon. Elder Cevering

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 25, 2012

Hello Family! First off, we had some great experiences this past week haha! Every Friday we do a service project here at el CCM. We go to the same building every week and we work under the direction of a girl named Dallas Taylor Stringham--her name is important! So, this week they tell us "Hey, we need twenty Elders to bring some water up from the basement and switch it out with the new water bottles we have upstairs." So Dallas gets 10 of us Elders in the elevator with her. We're going down when...suddenly...boom. We hit the bottom floor. The elevator doesn't make a sound. The door doesn't open. We were stuck in the basement! HAHA. It was so great. 11 of us crammed in a small elevator. We were there for forty minutes! And I really needed to go to the bathroom. But that's something I'll never forget--we ended up just talking with Dallas the whole time. She asked us to share gospel lessons with her in our language, so that's what we did for forty minutes in an elevator: teach the gospel! Now, if you want to see a picture of our elevator extravaganza, you can go to Dallas Taylor Stringham's Facebook page. She took a picture of all of us in the elevator and promised she'd put it on her Facebook page. I thought you'd like that Mom ;) Also, this past week Elder Acor and I finally had some success with one of our progressive investigators. His name is Li (as portrayed by my teacher Hermano Finley) and he's an old man, a Jehovah's Witness, very interested in religion but not very committing. He'd been really hard on us since our very first visit! Elder Acor and I had no idea what to teach him. But last Friday and Saturday we both did a lot of pondering, and went in to our lesson with Li that night WITHOUT any plan, but with a lot of thoughts. And it was the best, most powerful lesson we've had at any time here in el CCM. We addressed him directly and found out more of his concerns with the gospel. We jumped into the Bible and The Book of Mormon, and our mouths and minds were filled--I don't know if my Spanish has ever been better either! We taught him about how to recognize when you've received confirmation to your prayers, and how we should pray. Then we addressed his religious concerns which were along the lines of "Who is Jehovah? Isn't He THE God? Isn't Adam also Jesus Christ?" So we had a great lesson, and we left it feeling very edified. And after when we talked with Hermano Finley about it he said he felt like it was the best-planned lesson we'd had--and we hadn't even gone in with a written, communicated plan! We just tried to follow the things the Spirit had told us to do. So finally, some success in progressive investigator! We also do a weekly teaching here called the TRC, where we go as companionships to the Teaching Resource Center and teach people who walk on campus as volunteers. This week Elder Acor and I taught a converted woman from Bolivia named Justa (sounds like Hoosta). She was so cool! She was something like 68 years old, and spoke incredibly fast Spanish! But we were able to teach her and understand a lot of what she said. She reminded me a lot of Shayna haha she smiled just like her! She was a Latin-American, older version of Shayna, which I thought was pretty cool! Alright, funny story of the week. Hermana Eyring served her mission in Uruguay, and she just got back in December. So we were asking her questions about her mission: so I asked her the above question "Did you see any exotic animals in Uruguay?" I asked, expecting her to tell us all about monkeys or something. But she said--excitedly and completely serious--"I didn't see any monkeys or big lizards or anything, but I got to pet a horse!" She was so serious, it was hilarious! We all burst out laughing, and she laughed with us cause she realized how funny it had sounded. It may not be too funny to you, but it was hilarious to us. I had a bit of a break out moment with Spanish this past week. We've finished all our assigned Spanish lessons, so now we're just doing a lot of review. I've been going through the dictionary and other books in an attempt to learn as much vocabulary as possible. In saying that, I still don't feel (entirely) ready to speak with natives in two weeks. But, just two more weeks left her in el CCM! I can't explain how excited I am to get to Puerto Rico. The only other news I can think to tell you about is that we finally got new roommates last week. Elder Acor and I had a whole room to ourselves for 3 weeks and sadly it had to come to an end. But our new roommates are alright--we get along with them fine. One of them is from Indiana and the other is from North Carolina. They're very different--one is a bit feminine and the other is very masculine, and I think he went to boot camp or something before coming here. He's cool. But they make our room stink, and guess what: I don't even have that good of a sense of smell! Haha oh well, it's not a big deal! Things here are going to go by faster than I think they will. Well, that's all I have for this week. I think that's all I had written down to tell you about too. My testimony is strengthened every day I'm here, and I'm growing to really love this work more than I thought I could, and I know that I still have a lot of room to grow in the coming two years! Haha. Well, I love you all! Elder Cevering P.S. The Ipod and speakers are not allowed here at el CCM...but I listened for a minute just to make sure they work. They work great! Haha. My departure date is the 9th, but we don't know the times yet, and wash here is going well! haha I do it every week. But that's all I have time to say. Love ya!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Email September 18, 2012

Hello Family! Well, it's officially been six weeks here in el CCM--I am really hoping to go to the Dominican this week :) but we highly doubt that's going to happen. If it doesn't, things here will be fine! We're good friends with our district and we're mostly happy with this routine, so it won't be terrible. I think I want to go to the DR because I want the Spanish immersion. I know though that I don't receive everything I want, but the Lord gives me everything I need. Alright, Spanish: let's just say, this past week was the hardest week of Spanish yet! We studied the Subjunctive Tense--it's essentially a tense that we NEVER use in English, but is entirely required in most other languages. It's used to express "Unseen" or "Unreal" things like doubts, emotions, etc. It also requires completely different verb conjugating. It's really hard! And I think it's hard because we had already learned so much in Spanish, just to find out we now have to start speaking it in an entirely different tense. I spent at least 5 hours between Thursday and Friday studying it. That may not sound like a lot of time between two days, but for the MTC that's a lot of time to study one thing. It's really hard, but I'm getting it down. I'm able to use it pretty proficiently. It's easier to understand on paper than to speak it without thinking. But I'm really learning Spanish! Subjunctive was the last thing we had to learn here, so now we'll just be reviewing everything we've learned for the next three weeks. I'm going to try really hard to speak the best I can. I feel quite confident in it. A lot of funny things happen here when we speak in Spanish. For example, in sacrament meeting this past week one of the missionaries was giving a talk on repentance. We always give talks in Spanish, as a side note. But as he was speaking, he was trying to say "Yo se que yo puedo recibir perdonado por mis pecados" which means "I know I can receive forgiveness for my sins." But what he actually said was "Yo se que yo puedo recibir perdonado por mis pescados" and pescados means fish :) HAHA we laughed so hard. We have a lot of stories like that. It's really funny to learn a different language. Another story: when one of the Elders in my district was teaching his progressive investigator he tried to tell her that the church makes him happy, which would be said like this in Spanish "La Iglesia me hace feliz!" But what he actually said was "La Iglesia me hace facil!" And facil means easy...HAHA! Oh man. The trials of learning a language can be so funny sometimes. Every Sunday and Tuesday night we have a devotional, and this past Sunday was awesome. The speaker was W. Tracy Watson, who is the director of all Proselyting missions. He showed us a part of The Book of Mormon musical, and we were all silent at the end of the short clip. I felt terrible, as I'm sure many others did as well. The clip basically took missionaries and made us look gay, overzealous, and truly like a bunch of psychos. They made a mockery of The Book of Mormon--a book that you and I love. I wondered why Brother Watson would share that clip--and he got up after and asked "How come you're not laughing like the audience in this clip?" Then he went on to bare testimony of how he, as a student, never knew how to read. But by a great miracle, by opening the pages of The Book of Mormon and attempting to study it, he received the ability to read. His testimony was really powerful. The world can say whatever it wants about The Book of Mormon--I'd advise you not to indulge in anything they say. As the Bible says "Ye cannot drink from the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils" (1 Corinthians 10:21). If you want to know The Book of Mormon is true, go to the truth and FIND OUT FOR YOURSELF. I love the book--and I love having the opportunity to study it daily, teach from it in Spanish and in English, and to draw power from it every day here in el CCM when my mind feels ready to collapse from the stress. The only way to know if something is from God is to sincerely desire to know if it is, and sincere desire does not come simply from WANTING. It comes from humbling ourselves in order to accept whatever the answer will be. I know that The Book of Mormon was translated by the power of God--not because I was taught what was in it, but because I have been blessed from it. Because I have been the recipient of its true power. It's either the greatest fraud, or the greatest book ever written. When paired with the Bible it will confound all falsehoods. Thank you for all your support! I love and miss you! Elder Cevering

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

More Pictures from the MTC

Pictures from the MTC

Pictures from the MTC

September 11, 2012

September 11, 2012 Hello Family! Well, this was a rougher week! I finally broke that barrier we call "crying" here in the MTC haha so did most everyone in my district though. It was our toughest week as a District for sure! We have teachers, and then we have zone resource teachers, and they each do one-on-one talks, and then companionship discussions concerning our lessons. This week I had my first meeting with a zone resource teacher. Her name is Hermana Doxey: she's really great! All the elders in my district are in love with her haha they try to get her to help them all the time. But, anyway, she set up an appointment with me just so we could talk. And I thought "Great! I have some Spanish questions I really need answered!" We've been learning some tougher grammatic principles that I needed help on! Well, I go into the appointment and she gets talking. She kept it on a very personal level--what's been hard about the MTC? how is your companionship? how do you feel about this and that? And, eventually, as we finished discussing some things, I broke the tear barrier haha and I let out some of my frustrations to her. She was really understanding! I was really grateful for the discussion. I didn't even know I had that much emotion in myself, though I knew I was stressed. I promise you though that I'm doing fine! No tears since, and I don't plan on having more. Last night Elder Acor and I taught our "investigator" Li. HAY MUCHACHO!! We haven't decided if it was successful or not. We went in with the plan to talk more about The Book of Mormon, and ended up explaining a lot of things to him about it. But he was really pushing our Spanish by acting like he didn't understand a lot of things in The Book of Mormon: names, places, and all these things! I was really frustrated because I didn't know how to say so many things, and eventually I just looked down at my Spanish Book of Mormon and thought for a minute. Then I looked up and bore my testimony to him that The Book of Mormon contains all the answers we need to our questions. I told him about the experiences I had with prayer and scripture study when we thought dad might have had cancer. He began to cry, and though I was frustrated and confused by the language, the Spirit was there. Again, we don't really know how successful this lesson was, but we are hoping that at least our testimonies were enough to create some progress. Hermano Finley--who acts as Li--had a talk with me the other day, before this lesson, where we talked about Progressive Investigator. I knew he was going to make it hard on us. Do you remember that missionary in my district who believes God creates aliens, according to the multitude of his "mysteries?" Well, we had quite the week with him again. I can honestly say I've never met a person I did not understand more than this elder. This week we learned from him that his patriarchal blessing says he is "bullet proof." Elder Acor and I also taught him about exaltation, and he just sat and argued with us about it. Basically everyone in the district is annoyed with him, and he is definitely the cause of a lot of turmoil among us ten elders. He is a weight lifter and, apparently, a cage fighter, among other things. He eats "healthy" haha I wish I could remember what it was he was eating the other day. But he always tells someone how unhealthy they're eating, and how he eats according to the food pyramid. He'll point out that on his plate he has 1-fries, which meets his needs for starch and vegetable, 2-chicken nuggets, which meets his need for meat, 3-an apple, which meets his need for fruit...ON and on. Then he'll eat a salad one day and he'll say "I need to get some real food." But the funny thing is, he doesn't eat healthy. We have another elder in our district--Elder Larson--- who has to eat healthy because of his kidneys, and whenever this elder who is a cage fighter says we're eating unhealthy we just direct him to Elder Larson who has grape nuts cereal and other food and ask him why he doesn't eat the same if he's so health conscious. It's so crazy. I wish I could explain in greater detail the things that this elder does. Ummm...I can't think of much else that has happened this week. Elder Acor got a package from the primary this week haha and in it there was a picture from one of the kids. The kid had drawn Elder Acor in this big swirling purple thing, and in letters below it said "I drew a hurricane, hope you're okay!" HAHA very funny. I can't wait to get to Puerto Rico. We talked with one of the teachers who served there and just recently got back this December. He told us a lot of cool stories, and he told us that it's basically impossible to NOT get out to the islands, but that you can only stay on one for six weeks because of visas. Well, I love you all! I know that God is aware of each of us--and He knows what we are doing. I know that the only way to please Him is by living His commandments. As Christ said: "If ye love me, keep my commandments." Please pray for me to increase in faith! The Lord is mindful of all our prayers. Love Elder Cevering

Thursday, September 6, 2012

September 4, 2012

September 4, 2012 Hello Family! I've learned some pretty cool things in just my past week of study. For example: I had a thought once when I was singing a hymn about Joseph Smith, and that thought was "Did people in past dispensations sing songs about their prophets?" I don't really know the answer to that question, but I had a great doctrinal insight about it. Beginning with chapter 4 of The Book of Mormon we have Nephi talking to Laman and Lemuel about Moses--who is their dispensatory prophet. Well, if you look up the word Moses in the topical guide and follow the references listed, you will find some cool testimonies about Moses. So I guess what I've learned is that in the same way the Spirit testifies of Joseph Smith as a prophet to us, it also bore testimony of the divine calling of Moses to those of his dispensation. I have some other cool thoughts about the scriptures that come straight from Spanish substitutes for things in the scriptures. I can't think of the ones I had written down, so I'll write them and send them home. It's cool how the scriptures translate: you just get new insights on simple words. We never receive doctrinal instruction from our teachers. They only teach us Spanish and the fundamentals of teaching. All the doctrine we learn comes from personal commitment in reading the scriptures, and from lessons we have at either firesides or on Sundays. In my case, I'm blessed to have the knowlege I have because I can focus more time on learning the language, while others have to really put their noses to the pages. Besides that, I loved grandpa's letter he sent me! It was very uplifting. I'm also very grateful for the letter Julie sent about two weeks ago. Uncle Paul sent me an email also, for which I was grateful. He made me laugh. I haven't been good at remembering to tell you these things. But I was very grateful for all the personal letters I received. Ok so week 4 is over! It was really not very eventful, but I'll tell you what I can! First off, we had a HUGE tie trade night. I have some really nice new ties! The Elders here argued over the orange paisley tie you sent me mom haha I got something good for that one! I kept all ties I was given as gifts before I left, so don't worry! But I traded those that I had bought on my own. When I get the opportunity to send you pictures, you'll get some of me in some sweet new corbatas! (corbata is Spanish for tie) The title of this week's letter comes from a great conversation we had. Elder Perrenoud's girlfriend always sends him letters that she sprays in perfume, and the Elders here LOVE it! haha. But Elder Perrenoud left yesterday, so one of the Elder's in my district said: "Will you give me her address? I just want some smell goods..." HAHA. I'm finally getting respect as a basketball player :) That's right, I Michael Todd Cevering am becoming quite a lot better at basketball! Haha there are some kids in my district who are really good too. One of them is African American, so he runs all over me when we play. But hey, we have a great time! The newest member of the MTC presidency was announced this past Sunday, and he was hiccuping the whole time he spoke! It was pretty great. There's an Elder in my district—the one who used to be a Baptist :)--he has a lot of misconceptions about doctrine and truth. He's way into cloning and aliens. He likes to ask us questions about that. But Elder Acor and I have had a lot of great teaching experiences with him. We taught him about the character of God and exaltation, about the divine means of creation and the pattern that God has established for the creation of man as Spirits before men-in-the-flesh. Because of his background he really struggles to accept things. But he feels the truth of it. That's something great about him: no matter how much he likes to argue, he will always sit back in the end, with that look on his face of "I know this is true" and then he stops. The Lord is really helping Elder Acor and I to teach him. I love Hermana Eyring! She is incredibly kind! Elder Acor and I taught her twice this past week in our fake investigator thing--they call it progressive investigator. I don't really enjoy progressive investigator to be honest, but I've loved it with Hermana Eyring. She laughs and talks with you like you're her friends, while other teachers just sit there and judge you while you teach. It's incredible how you can be so edified by teaching in those lessons though: I was really touched by one of our lessons with Hermana Eyring. It's not real, but the Spirit that bears testimony of the things you say is very real. We committed Lilian--Hermana Eyring's fake investigator--to reading the Book of Mormon. I truly know that that book is the word of God. We talk about it a lot here, and the only thing anyone will ever tell you is: find out for yourself if it's true. My thoughts on that are very clear: What does someone have to lose if they will open their heart and read the Book of Mormon in sincerity to know if it's of God or not? Perhaps it will take courage, as President Monson would say, but it's worth it. The principles contained therein are too true and beneficial to be set aside as simply a lie or joke, and the Spirit that bears testimony of it is too real to be fraudulent. I love the Book of Mormon more now than I think I ever have. I have the opportunity to teach and read from it every day, and it has been changing my life. Haha it's like a new friend that you don't really acknowledge throughout the day, but is constantly edifying your heart, soul, and mind. Well, I can't think of much else that happened in the past week. James and I auditioned for a musical number (Savior Redeemer of My Soul). He played the piano for me, and we got a yes immediately after we finished. So we'll be performing some time soon. I'll let you know how that goes! Love you all! I do my best to remember you in my prayers. Elder Cevering p.s. thank you so much for the package you sent me! I loved, as did my companions, the cookies. Please thank Kara Liston for her kindness to me in sending me letters.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Elder Cevering at the Provo Temple

Elder Cevering with Heather Houghton (A girl he worked with). They ran into each other at the Provo Temple. She's down at BYU going to school. She posted this picture on Facebook and we were so excited to see it! He looks very happy!
Hello Family! Well, it was an eventful week here at el CCM--which is the Spanish for MTC. First let me tell you that the reason I'm no longer going to the Dominican Republic is not because of the hurricane. The Latin American missionaries who attend the DR MTC have not been able to get their visas, so they can't leave. And since it's such a small MTC they can't bring us down there. One thing I've learned to dislike about the MTC--some of the kids here are quite the Mormons. There was an Elder here who argued with one of our teachers in a workshop: he said "If we're not supposed to take the sacrament unworthily, why would we invite non-members to take it?" The teacher said, "Very good question. If you'll allow me to show you the next slide on the power-point I'll answer that question." So he changes the slide and there's a highlighted part that explains the answer to this Elder's question. Well, is this Elder paying attention? Nope. And the teacher called him out on it: it was awesome actually. He said: "Hey, if you're going to question what I'm teaching you can at least pay attention to me when I'm giving you an answer." Those weren't the exact words, and the tone of his voice wasn't rude, but you get the gist of it. This same Elder sat next to my district at lunch the same day, and we heard him telling his companions: "Yeah, I wait 5 minutes after I get my lunch to eat it. One of MY goals is to learn patience." Wow. And that's not all either: he answers EVERY question in workshops and such. And this is just one example among many of the missionaries here who find themselves to be more righteous than the rest of us. Here's another example: One of the Dominican Republic missionaries told me I lacked faith because I said I wish I'd have the experience, like him, to live among--and speak with--natives for 6 weeks in the Dominican Republic. He thought I needed a lecture about the miracles of God. Well, at this point my frustration was pent up, so I directed him to the "Learn Your Language" section in Preach My Gospel where it states clearly "THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR SPEAKING WITH AND LISTENING TO NATIVE SPEAKERS OF THE LANGUAGE YOU ARE LEARNING." I have been blessed with the gift of tongues here, and I wholeheartedly believe in miracles. I've been the recipient of not too few miracles in the past three weeks. But I know that there is a line between gaining knowledge through experience speaking and teaching native speakers (who speak NO English) and merely sitting in a room looking over flashcards. Alright, there's my rant for the week. I promise I'm not as bitter as I sound :) I'm very happy here at the MTC! I'm getting along with my district and companion great! They call me the "scripture master" here haha I'm really humbled by their desire to ask me questions about the scriptures and the gospel. We got new teachers this week. Because of BYU Fall semester the teachers' schedules all had to be changed. I now have the great opportunity to be taught by Henry B. Eyring's granddaughter. That's really cool. And my other teacher is pretty cool: I know he's going to drill Spanish into us. Last night he had us all read Moroni 7 in Spanish...we were all impressed at how well we understood it. I'm learning Spanish pretty well right now--like I said last week, I kind of hit an apex with the language that I'm trying to surmount. There are a couple little things I'm trying to master right now, which are very tedious. But overall, my understanding of Spanish is increasing rapidly! There are days here where we only speak in Spanish--it's part of the program :) Neil L. Anderson spoke here last week. Wow! What an experience to see him walk through the doors in the gymnasium. It was electrifying to see him and know that he is an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. He spoke about "10 Things President Monson Would Tell You if He Were Here." It was very uplifting! I have all the notes and I look over them once every couple of days. I'm so impressed by the reality of revelation: how is it that so many people know the things of my heart, though I've hardly spoken them? Neil L. Anderson spoke to my needs this past week, and I don't even know him! I can personally promise that God knows us as individuals and cares for us as we need. Elder Acor was an example of that this past week as well: he and I gave each other blessings because we were so sick. In the blessing he gave me he gave me a blessing concerning things no one here knows about me. I haven't told him that much about me, yet he was able to bless me with something I needed--and that "something" was NOTHING obvious. There is revelation on this earth today, and it comes through proper priesthood authority. There were a lot of challenges in the past week: I see how the Lord is answering my prayer for mountains to climb. There are definitely times when I am ready to go back to the room and nap, or just throw my flashcards or other work under my desk and just relax. But I am constantly reminded of Spencer W. Kimball's words: "Give me these mountains! Give me these challenges!" In Luke 6:48 the Savior expounds on the wise man who built his house upon a rock. The Savior teaches that in order to build upon the rock, the wise man first "digged deep" to find the foundation whereon he would build. Likewise, we have to "dig deep" to set our foundation. I'm learning so much about that here: haha and I know I'll have so much more to learn about that in life, especially at the end of these next six weeks. Anyway, thank you all for you love and letters! We get mail after lunch, and we always sing the "Mail Time" song from Blue's Clues when we leave class for lunch. Letters really do make your day: I got one from Sydney yesterday that really buoyed me up! I'm so grateful for all of you back home, and can't wait for that two year reunion! Love you all! Elder Cevering NEWS...August 24, 2012 Hello Mom! Well, here´s the next mountain to climb! All of the elders going to Puerto Rico are no longer going to the Dominican Republic MTC next week. As of right now we will be staying in Provo for the full 9 weeks! Hacho! It´s really frustrating. I was thinking just this morning how ready I am to be done here in Provo--and now I've got six weeks more! I'm really really really disappointed. But you know, maybe Elder Acor and I will end up being zone leaders now...not that that's a position I want. Oh man, I can't fathom being here for 9 more weeks. Either this is a direct answer to my prayer for mountains, or there's a definite purpose in our remaining here--or both! Ay me. Es no bueno. I thought you'd like to know that I saw James pretty quickly after he got here to the MTC. He's not in my zone, and we actually don't have a similar schedule like we very likely could have had. But hey, he's leaving in three weeks and I'm not! So lucky him. But I've been able to talk to him a few times actually. He seems really happy and excited to be here--I'm sure Leigh would want to know that. And his companion seems really cool. I don't know what else to say. Other than...Elder Neil L. Anderson spoke at the MTC this past Tuesday night! It was awesome! His topic was "What President Monson would tell you if he were here." It was a great talk. Oh man, I'm going to have a lot more of those I guess...which isn't bad, but I'd rather hear them in the DR! I remember feeling sorry for the missionaries that had to be here for 9 weeks, and look: now I'm one of them! They said there's a slim chance we'll be out of here by week 6, like they sometimes are able to, and that they're fighting for us to be out of here by then. But they told us not to expect it. Well, there's really nothing else to tell you. I'm getting new teachers next Monday since BYU starts Fall semester next week. One of my new teachers is actually President Eyring's granddaughter. At least that will be a cool experience for the next six weeks. She doesn't like to talk about him though, she's embarrassed when people ask her about it. Okay, well I sent a letter to you guys. Anyway, love ya! Elder Cevering p.s. Kara Liston sent me an apple pie this week. I don't really know how to thank her since I don't have her email or address. Please tell her my companions and I are very grateful for it and we loved it! My feet are fine too. Like I said, I put my shoes on and went to work and all the pain and symptoms went away.