Elder Michael Cevering

Elder Michael Cevering
Puerto Rico, San Juan Mission

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

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

1 comment:

  1. Haha! The cell phone picture was sent to my dad and then me! I was freaking out when I received it! My dad was one of the guys who called(the adopted brother). I'm so glad you like my uncle, he's an outstanding man. On behalf of Puerto Ricans everywhere, I'm sorry for that crazy guy. There are plenty crazy ones. Everything you have said about Puerto Rico is so true! From the people to the coquis to the culture. Bah! I'm so happy for you!