Elder Michael Cevering

Elder Michael Cevering
Puerto Rico, San Juan Mission

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.