Elder Michael Cevering

Elder Michael Cevering
Puerto Rico, San Juan Mission

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Email September 3, 2013

Hello from Aibonito! It's been a super fun week! I love it up here in the mountains. I left from Carolina last Tuesday, having spent Monday night with some families from the ward. I didn’t cry but it was really sad to leave from Carolina. Leaving the bishop's house Monday night was tough, but I was ready for a change. I arrived up here in the mountains around 11:00 in the morning, and we spent about 4 hours in the house of a member before coming the rest of the way up to Aibonito. It was fun: I placed chess with an elder from Guatemala, got to know some elders from my district, and ate rice and beans :) The area I'm in is the biggest mountain range on the island: Aibonito, Barranquitas, and Orocovis. It's nice and cool up here: I sleep without a fan and without an air conditioner. I even slept with pajama pants on two nights. WOO HOO. They called me to be the district leader again, which is cool. My companion and I cover Aibonito and Barranquitas, and the other elders cover Orocovis, so I finally have a small district. But the area is much bigger haha. And the branch in Aibonito is composed of the whole mountain range. It's a growing branch: yesterday there were 19 people at church, but the week before there were 54. My companion and his last companion reactivated a lot of members, but they didn't come yesterday. I'm not worried about that, but we're going to work hard to keep the attendance growing. There's a lot of reactivating to do here! My companion's name is Elder Contreras: he's a greenie from Honduras. So we speak all Spanish, and he's got a lot of desire to work and help the branch grow. He's really great. I'm finishing his training, which I had no idea about until I got here. He might be the companion I've gotten along with best in the mission so far. Like I was saying, the branch here is small, so we're working in the basics to help it grow. We went to the branch president's house the other day so I could get to know him. I talked with him about D&C 128:11 and told him he holds the keys to the strengthening of the branch--this is how we started working with the bishop in Carolina. Haha. I told him I would be reporting to him and asking him for direction, and I told him I wanted him to give me answers. The zone leaders laughed when I told them that. They said, "He has great desires, but he does need a push." So I figure that's what we'll give him: a little push. And it seemed to work: yesterday we had a meeting with him and we set up a night to leave with him this week to visit less-active members. He didn't even hesitate to accept. We want to start an english class up here to invite members to, and to try to find investigators. People have been really positive about it. I saw how it worked in Carolina, and I have no doubt that it will work here as well. It will strengthen relationships between members, and people will get the chance to enter an unthreatening environment in the church. And that's what we want: we want the members to come back, we want non-members to "come and see" what we do and feel comfortable. To do that we're going to be doing mission activities, and so on. The focus is fellowship and conversion: not just fellowship!!! We're also pondering on making a calendar with ward members for nights to visit them to talk to them about Preach My Gospel and involve them a little bit in the mission training manual "The 12 Week Program." When I trained Elder Castaneda I was asked to make a 6 week version of the 12 week program, and I want to see if we can utilize that to help members become more active in sharing the gospel. Since transfers are only six weeks long it'd be a perfect idea. There aren't a lot of investigators up here. Most of the baptisms that they'd had in the past months have been the children of members who are reactivating themselves in the church. The only investigator we have is named Zuly: she's been learning for about 5 months, but she's not married to her boyfriend. However, her boyfriend is supposedly moving out soon, and that's what she's been waiting for. We'll see what happens. She told us his luggage has been packed for a week now. We are trying to frequent the plaza of Aibonito right now. In his last transfer, Elder Contreras and his companion did a lot more driving than walking. I want to be out and about so people can see us and talk with us, and it's already worked. It was ironic because Elder Contreras was telling me he wanted to have an experience where someone stopped him in the street to talk to him: and that very same day that happened. We were walking back to the house from the plaza and out of nowhere a man on the other side of a fence stopped us and told us he'd once been learning from the missionaries and wanted us to pass by his house again to teach him. It was really cool. Right after that we were contacting a guy on the corner of a street and a car drove by and stopped. A man inside said, "Hey, I want you to come talk to me." We excitedly went over, and his car just smelled like beer. He looked at Elder Contreras and said, "You have the most appealing eyes, I had to stop and talk to you." We talked for just a minute and gave him a Book of Mormon and some cards with our numbers on them. Then as we said goodbye, he took my hand and rubbed it on his cheek. Then he took Elder Contreras' hand and kissed it. HAHA. It was a crazy experience. On Saturday we met up with a family from Carolina who wanted us to meet some of their family here in Aibonito. We went and ate hamburgers, and then they introduced us to about 13 people. We played basketball with some kids and they invited us back to play. We want to start playing basketball at the church and invite youth to come. Some members have said they'd come if we did that. We'll see if that works out. Today we're supposed to meet up with the sister of Roma and eat. When I talked with her the other day she was super excited for us to visit. She said, "I want you to teach my family! We're all Christains." So we'll see how that goes: I'm really excited! At church we were asked to teach the primary kids: that was crazy. Haha. Anyway, love you all! Things are going good here in Aibonito. Elder Cevering

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