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