Elder Michael Cevering

Elder Michael Cevering
Puerto Rico, San Juan Mission

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Photos from Puerto Rico - Some are from Old San Juan...Beautiful!

Email June 24, 2013

Hello Family! Well, I knew I wasn't going to have a lot of time to write because we went to el moro today as a mission as a final activity with president alvarado. To save time we came to the library that's closer to our house to write. It was a super cool activity: el Moro is the famous old Spanish fort here on the shore. You'll be really jealous when you see the pictures ;) but it's just a warm up for our future vacation here. Other than that, I don't have time to write. I'm doing well. My shout out goes to Sister Liston. Thank you so much for sending me the package of pasta! Haha. It's been put to use very gratefully! Love you all! Elder Cevering

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

June 17, 2013

Hello! Our week was pretty great: we began teaching a woman named Mayra and her two sons who are both priesthood age. They were a reference from a member. Our first lesson was really spiritual: we talked about the restoration and the book of mormon, and she was really touched. She had a lot of really good questions, and in her prayer in the end she asked if it was true. The member was amazed at how spiritual the lesson was. The only sad part was that they didn't come to church because Mayra got a little bit drunk Saturday night. We're going to work with her on that. Another really cool thing happened when I was on an exchange with Elder Castaneda the week before this past one. We went to contact one of his potential investigators in the pueblo, and we ran right into a man who received a book of mormon about a year ago. He was really excited to see us because he had a lot of questions and the missionaries never passed by to see him again after their first visit. He was so interested, but really confused. He'd been reading things about reincarnation because he was confused by Christ's statement that all men must be born again. But he came to church yesterday and loved it. He told Elder Castaneda, "Just let me know when you think I'm ready and I'll be baptized." He asked a lot of funny questions in our gospel principles class. I was teaching about the Holy Ghost, and I was sharing a story about the time He had guided me. I asked a question at one point to which he responded, "Your spirit left you and flew to where you needed to be right?" haha. But he's a really cool guy and he's learning so much. He lives all the commandments already strictly through his beliefs and "research." We also worked more in the campo with Pablo--recent convert. He has a lot of friends and a desire to share the gospel with them. We met a friend of his who owned the biggest pigs I've ever seen in my life. They were like baby cows. Unfortunately our lesson with him wasn't really great: he was pretty stern about the fact that his uncle was the pastor of the church standing right next door. But we met some other really great friends of Pablo who we will definitely be going back to teach. Even more changes happened in the ward this week. The primary president and the young women president were both released and new people were called. The relief society received its two counselors. The first counselor in the bishopric was officially sustained by the ward. A lot of big steps for the ward that have me really excited. I'm grateful to be a part of it. There is a man who always asks for money at the traffic lights near our house. The other day I gave him 40 cents that was just hanging out in the car. He was so funny. He said, "Ah, thank you, holy brother. AMEN!" And continued asking for money. Haha. Puerto Rico. The respect that people have for the missionaries is a little bit weird honestly. But it's good. I love it. Their opinion of religion is kind of messed up though, but something really cool that I love here is the christian services up in the campo. One of our potential investigators lives up on this mountain ridge. All along this ridge there are houses, and there is a church further below. Well, we went to his house the other night with the bishop, and the investigator was just sitting out on his porch listening to the pastor. It was completely dark except for the house lights, but the microphones from the church are set up to reach the people up on the mountain. I thought it was a cool experience. We stood there and listened for a little bit. Just imagine that: up on this dark mountain listening to the church services from below. Really cool honestly. Well, I love you all! Elder Cevering

Monday, June 17, 2013

June 10, 2013

Hello Family! I am excited to tell you that I am still in Carolina! WOO HOO! I am so excited. Because of that I will probably be here in October. The leaders say when President Smartt comes he probably won't transfer missionaries around for two transfers because he won't know us or the areas. I'm hoping that's true because some miracles happened this past week in this area that I'm excited to see roll forward. Waiting on the Lord has truly brought me more faith. As far as personal work in the campo, it all slowed down this week because Elder Delcompare got dengue. We were all so frustrated. We had a meeting with the zone leaders this morning about the opposition that we have been facing in our district. Let me tell you some things that have happened: the sisters were in a car wreck and one of them had to go to Florida to be treated for potential internal injuries; my bike, Elder Castaneda's bike, and Elder Helm's bike are all damaged; I had dengue and then the monga; and now just as I have recovered Elder Delcompare has the dengue. Elder Helm is sick right now. The opposition has really beaten us down. I talked with the district that the opposition is a sign that something good is about to happen: the devil doesn't want us to get something, so he's been trying to stop us. But that "something" came yesterday! The Lord's hand was shown in Carolina incredibly. Listen to this: last Sunday I went to visit the Bishop and his family up in Cedro (that's the farthest point in our area from our house). He and I were talking, and he said he wasn't really sure what to do to get the revelation he needed. I told him "make your sixteen stones." His wife said, "Yeah, go to El Yunque!" El Yunque is the rainforest/tallest mountain in Puerto Rico. So he decided he would go to El Yunque. He prayed before leaving his house, then headed up to El Yunque with questions as to new callings to make. He went up, prayed, read the scriptures, pondered. Then he went home, and when he walked in the house his wife asked: "Do you have any names?" He said, "No, but I feel really good." He continued pondering, and he told us that yesterday right when he sat down to begin priesthood meetings he had two revelations: call a new relief society president, and ordain a new priesthood holder. So he released the relief society president--who'd been president for years--and called a younger woman to be the new president. Then he ordained Jonathan--the young man who was baptized back in February--to the office of a priest and told Jonathan that he will soon have the opportunity to baptize other members of his family. The Spirit was really strong. And just so you know, Jonathan is the only active young priest in the ward now. There were no active young men who were of the office of priest for almost two years now, and here's the first. The Bishop shared this whole experience with Elder Castaneda and I about this in a short meeting after church. Then he invited us to share an idea I had this past week. My time at home with Elder Delcompare gave me some time to "go to El Yunque" as well. My idea was that the bishop and the other leaders invite and encourage every member to invite a friend to come to church with them on the 7th of July. The plan will go into effect on the 16th. And each week leading up to the 7th we as the missionaries are going to visit every member of the ward: the first week we are going to drop off materials for them to give away and teach them how to give it away; the second week we are going to bring them a message and do a follow up and continue planning with them; the third week we are going to go out and visit their friends with them. Then there will be a ward activity where the less-actives, inactives, and investigators are invited. Then they will have the invitation to come to the church meeting on the 7th. The bishop loved the idea. He said, "I like it." And then asked, "What day can I leave to work with you this week?" We set up to leave with him Tuesday night and he set it on his calendar. He told us his wife is going to invite their neighbor to dinner and we are going to go teach them :) So, after that, I went back to the elders and I said, "This is it! The ward is ready to go to work. We have to really purify ourselves now and go to work." We had a great discussion during our planning session, and our goal this week is to work with the leaders to find out the messages they want us to share with the members in the coming weeks. I'm really excited about it. It's going to bring me down out of the mountains for awhile, but that's okay: in the end, it will help us to find more people up there because members have friends and family up there. That's really been my week. Nothing else exciting. Things are just really progressing here in Carolina and I'm grateful to be a part of it. I've been perfectly fine as far as health goes. I was kind of depressed during the week because of all the time I have spent in the house due to dengue, but with everything that happened yesterday I got re-fired up again. It's such a blessing to be part of the Lord's work. I love you all a lot! And I miss ya! Elder Cevering

June 3, 2013

Hello Family! I had a crazy night last night that you will enjoy hearing about :) So I was calling the sisters last night to get their numbers for the week and that started around 9:30. They didn't answer me the first few times. So I thought they must have been doing their planning still. I waited until 9:45 and called again and they still didn't answer. Then I called the zone leaders to give them the information I already did have and told them the sisters weren't answering. They just told me to keep calling. So I called...until 10:15 and they still hadn't answered. So I call the zone leaders and we talk to the AP's and we tried calling some members over in the sisters' area. I called the owner of their house and his phone was disconnected. All these calls happened until 10:30. At 10:30 the zone leaders left from San Juan to go to Pontezuela. They arrived around 11:00 and called me to get exact directions to the house. I stayed on the phone with them as they shouted. They honked and shouted at the house for about 15 minutes, and then some members arrived. They all hopped the gate at the house and climbed the steps and started banging on the windows. In the meanwhile I'm in Carolina just praying, my mind was wandering on what could have happened. It was really crazy. About 11:30 the zone leaders called me back and said the sisters were in the house. What had happened was both of the sisters thought the other sister had the phone, but they left it in their car. When they didn't ever hear the phone ring they just thought I must not be looking for their numbers, so they prepared and went to bed. And then when they heard men shouting and honking outside they got afraid. But after awhile they realized, "It must be the elders!" So they went outside and they talked, and explained all that had happened. Super crazy experience. I was so anxious I couldn't sleep after that haha. I saw them this morning and they were so embarrassed by the whole thing. That's definitely going in my journal. Now, the rest of the week was pretty good. I haven't been so sick and tired. I went and bought medicine--thank you mom and dad for always having bought my medicine. I never realized just how expensive it was :) Transfers are next Monday, so I'm kind of anxious. I'm not quite ready to leave from Carolina yet. I have too many things to do here, or so I feel. Our investigators are in sort of a slump. We weren't able to visit with Andres and Lowra. I don't know what happened: they just didn't answer when we went to their house. And the next day we went back their daughter told me they were sleeping, which is one of the classic excuses to not talk to the missionaries. So we'll see what happens. I am praying really hard for them. They need the gospel so badly in their lives. We found a new investigator last week in Pontezuela: his name is Billy Gun the Giant. Maybe you can google him. He was a luchador. He has ulcers in his legs now so he's out of commission, but he is an icon here in Carolina. He lived in Utah for a couple years and loves us. He calls me Mr. Elder haha and he tried to pay me money for visiting him. Things in his household are really crazy though: he lives with his mom because of his medical issues. But anyway, Billy is getting ready to be baptized into an Evangelical church. We weren't able to teach him much: he likes to talk a lot. He loves us and just wants to talk to us, but we're going to teach him a solid lesson. He showed us this little workbook that the pastor gave him to prepare for baptism. That's the way things are run here in Puerto Rico: the pastors give out these workbooks that the people have to fill out. It's like a little search book. There will be questions in them like this: What did God teach Moses? (see Exodus blah, blah, blah). Funny things in the world. I was surprised there wasn't a word search or something in there. There are a lot of crazy churches here in Puerto Rico and they all have really long names. Here are some examples of names: "Church of Christ: God is love," "Defenders of the Fountain of Faith of the Lamb of God", "Evangelical Temple of Missionaries of the Lamb of the Faith and Salvation." Lots of things like that. So Elder Helm was making fun of them. He said, "Yeah we saw this church the other day. It was called like the Church of Christ and the lamb of deception...or something like that." We laughed so hard at that part: lamb of deception. Haha. Oh man. Well, love you all! Elder Cevering