Elder Michael Cevering

Elder Michael Cevering
Puerto Rico, San Juan Mission

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.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

MTC Emails

August 21, 2012 Just to give you all a heads up so you’ll understand what Michael is saying at the beginning of his letter, I had quite an experience at BYU Education Week last week, where I met a lady from Puerto Rico. She is the only member in her family – she’s only been a member for 3 ½ years, and the circumstances in how we met was quite incredible because her and I almost didn’t go to the class where we met. It’s a long story, but in a nut shell, I asked her where she was from and she said Puerto Rico. She wants her family to learn about the gospel. She has been praying really hard for them and then we happened to meet in this class. I told her that my son just left for the Puerto Rico Mission and she said she would send me her families information so that he can contact them and see if they’ll let him teach them about the gospel. When we parted she had tears in her eyes and said, “I want you to know that our meeting was not by chance.” We hugged (and cried) and parted with each other’s contact information. So that’s what he’s referring to when he begins his email below. -Melanie ____________________________________________________________________ Hello Family! Mom, that's quite an incredible story! I will pray and ponder on it over the next few weeks as I prepare to enter the field. I got my travel information this week: we leave for the Dominican Republic next Thursday (the 30th) and we fly to Texas, then Florida before the Dominican Republic. I'm stoked to get to the DR where the food will be a little bit better :) Elder Evans spoke at the MTC last week. It was really cool! Well, I have some sad news: Elder Acor and I had to change rooms this past week. We are no longer roommates with Elders Perrenoud and Laws. Elder Laws left for Colombia. Elder Perrenoud has some medical issues keeping him back, and since he's been here longer than us, and since he's the only one being held back, he had to be put in a threesome companionship. That meant we had to change rooms--we miss spending time with him. He's really good at beat boxing! And he's just a cool kid. Our new roommates are English speaking Elders. They're not in our branch, so it's a little different. They did the weirdest thing: the first few days after we moved in with them they would make our beds for us and leave little bite-sized snicker bars on our pillows. I've actually come to appreciate it a lot, but it was definitely weird at first. Elder Acor and I started making our beds on our own so they wouldn't have to do it, but they still leave us candy. HAHA. In other news, yes, it is the Dakota Bone that Denise is thinking of. He's a cool kid. He works really hard--probably harder than the rest of us. He's a great example to me, plus he keeps us all laughing. He's just a good kid. Our district is really great! Just for your information, a district consists of the people in your branch/zone (about 30-45 people who you go to sacrament with and other activities) that you entered the MTC with. So my district has ten Elders in it. We all get along really well, there's only one Elder who we struggle with because he’s a “one-upper” and he does it to everyone, all of the time. He's from Texas. His mom is a Baptist preacher. He was baptized into our church two years ago, and has no family support. His ward and his friends are paying for him to serve his mission. So, understandably he's having a hard time. His companion is not patient with him at all. Elder Acor and I teach him about the gospel and he really appreciates us. He really trusts us. Elder Acor and I have taught 5 lessons completely in Spanish now. We teach our teachers (who act as investigators that they had on their mission). We keep a record of the things we teach them, and we treat them like a real investigator. We've been capable of teaching everything--not perfectly, but hey, we only started speaking Spanish two weeks ago. Elder Acor had Spanish all through high school though, so he's pretty smart. Hermano Zimmerman said something that was impressive: He called the MTC the most consistent miracle in the church because of how well we all learn the language here. I don't know how well I've done at learning Spanish in the past week. I feel like I've hit a wall, so I'm trying to be patient to surpass it. I prayed last week for a mountain to climb haha you might laugh at that, because the MTC in itself IS a mountain to climb. But I thought I'd pray for more. Well, the Lord answered: I'm so incredibly amazed at the ways He compensates for our adversities. Here are some incredible things that have happened this past week: --So, like I said I prayed for this mountain. The day after that my feet began to swell and turn dark red. I went about the day and they began to really hurt. That night I took off my socks and my toes were bleeding through my toenails, and it was really uncomfortable. I thought it was because of the shoes, but both pairs of shoes caused the pain. So I prayed to be healed that night (side note--I can pray in Spanish now.) The next morning the pain was still there, and my feet were swollen, but I got up and put my shoes on...and after I started walking the pain was just gone. Completely! And when I changed for gym an hour later the swelling had gone down. --Then, in the midst of that, the flu swept through our district this week. Elder Acor and I got the worst of it. Yesterday I woke up with hardly any voice at all. But I got up and went to work--I knew Elder Acor and I had to teach our investigator later. And by lunch time I had my voice back as I needed it. Our lesson went great--it was our best lesson yet, and we committed him to baptism! I know the Lord qualifies us despite our weaknesses. It was a ROUGH week with all these things. But it was all worth it. I can't believe it's my P-day already haha it's gone by fast! :) After our lesson last night I was standing in our classroom looking out the window, looking at the mountain, thinking about that prayer I had, and the words of Spencer W. Kimball "Give me these mountains! Give me these challenges!" I'm really moved by those words. I listened to that talk (Mountains to Climb) by President Eyring yesterday, and felt with all my heart that he is called of God. Well, I love you all and miss you! I know the gospel of Jesus Christ is here on the earth today because of a living prophet and because of the prophets of old. I know Christ suffered for our sins and love us each so dearly. Our prayers are heard by a loving Heavenly Father, who seeks diligently for our well-being. Love, Elder Cevering

Monday, August 20, 2012

Elder Cevering's First Email from the MTC

Hello Family! The first few days at the MTC: BLAH! I was a slug. I was way sad to be gone from home. But in the past few days I've really come to love it a lot. It feels weird to think that I'll be leaving here in just a few weeks. That moment when I turned away from you guys and followed my Usher felt like an immediate transition. There's no time to think about anything but getting adjusted to the MTC. They take your picture, take you to your room, then to your classroom. It was a bad, bad day. I can think of only two days in my whole life where I can remember feeling nearly as low as that day and the next. My companion's name is Elder Acor (like acorn, but no "n"). He's pretty cool--he just barely graduated, and he was a football player in high school. He and I get along and work really hard together. He motivates me to have fun and to learn Spanish. He's going to Puerto Rico too, so we'll be flying to the Dominican Republic together and everything. He has a friend there too, so he has told me some cool things about the mission. Learning Spanish is going great! I've truly been blessed with the gift of tongues since being set apart. I'm not fluent at all: but after three laborious days of reading The Book of Mormon in Spanish and English, I finally finished the first chapter of Nephi yesterday :) and as I finished I was able to mostly understand all I read in Spanish without looking at the English. The hard part with Spanish is not understanding what is said, but responding and speaking it. We teach a girl named Lesly--she's a fake investigator/one of our teachers--and when Elder Acor and I teach we do a good job at teaching her, but a terrible job at responding to her questions. She asked us what el Expiacion was (the atonement) and we froze. After about 10 seconds I was able to say El Jardin de Getsemane, and Elder Acor was inspired from there. He really is a good kid. One of the Spanish teachers served in Puerto Rico. He got back about six months ago: apparently he served on an island where he didn't get the chance to shave for 4 months. I'm going to grow a beard :) My teacher's name is Hermano Zimmerman (hermano means brother in Spanish, fyi). We spend about 6 hours a day with him in class. That's pretty tough, but the work really isn't that hard. I feel really fresh in learning because I didn't go to school for a year. My zone is CRAZY! There's an Elder Bradshaw in my zone, but I don't know if he's the Puzey's relative or not. I'll find out. Anyway, my zone is really bad. Our branch president called us the worst zone he's had in the four years he's been here. Even the MTC president, President Brown, talked to them-- before I got here. But this is great: they have this guy who monitors our zone's dorm at night. As you know, we have to be in bed, lights out at 10:30. Well, Elder Perrenoud--one of my awesome roommates--had to go to the bathroom. He walked out to go at exactly 10:31, and this guy flipped on him. It was ridiculous: Elder Acor and I and Elder Laws--our other roommate--were all standing by the door listening. He asked Elder Perrenoud: "If Jesus Christ asked you to meet Him at the temple, would you be late to THAT? When you baptize someone, do you expect them to just pay NINETY percent of their tithing?" And Elder Perrenoud just said: "I just drank a lot of water tonight..." HAHAHA. It was crazy and awesome. There's an Elder in my district, Elder Bone--he went to Weber High. He graduated the year before me. Also, Preston Healy is in my district. I've seen Nik Aardema, Braydan Allen, Jamon Carver, and others. It's pretty cool to see and talk to them. Anyway, I love you all! Thank you so much for your prayers. I know I wouldn't be able to do this without the grace of Christ--He has truly lifted me through these past few days. I truly, honestly wouldn't be here if it weren't for Him. As much as I want to be home, I know Christ wants me to be here. That's my sacrifice I guess. Love you and miss you! Elder Cevering