Elder Michael Cevering

Elder Michael Cevering
Puerto Rico, San Juan Mission

Monday, October 28, 2013

Email October 28, 2013

HEEEY Family, This was a really great week! I can't believe October is over this week. Wow. This was probably the fastest month of my mission. And this past week was probably one of the fastest: we had interviews with President Smartt and a leadership meeting, and some other things. I'll give you all the details. So, interviews with president: I LOVE president Smartt. I felt nervous before my interview because interviews with president Alvarado were always so intense. But when I went in and sat down to talk with President Smartt he just said, "Alright Elder, what would you like to talk about?". It was great. I talked with President about Lin, the pastor's daughter in Carolina. She's been having some struggles, and I've been wanting to communicate with her but can't by the rules. So I asked him permission to talk to her and he said, "Of course! She's one of the people you helped enter into the kingdom of God. You SHOULD talk with her." And he said, completely apart from anything I had told him, "Write her every Monday. But if you start having romantic feelings, just be a man about it and come talk to me, and we'll take care of it." Haha. It was so funny. I really respect President Smartt. He's smart. Ironic right? Because of our interviews and then our meeting in Ponce, we didn't spend a lot of time in Aibonito this past week. But in the time we did spend here we saw the work of the Lord moving forth with our investigators and with the branch. First off, Zuly's boyfriend finally left the house. Supposedly he's doing back today with the police to take his things and officially move out. Zuly was really stressed about it: she hasn't wanted to live with him. They were always fighting, and there was no love between them. And since she wasn't married to him she couldn't be baptized. So now we're going to follow up with her and see where she's at. The only thing that keeps her from being baptized is her need to regularly attend church. But we're confident she'll be able to do that. Her two daugthers were already baptized, and one of them comes to seminary so that shows us that they do put the gospel in their priorities. Second, Amaralis came to church again. We talked with her Saturday night and read in the Book of Mormon. She's super pentecostal. The chapter we read was Mormon 6 I believe. In that chapter there's a verse that talks about singing praises to God in the heavens. She got excited by that. (((Personal comment: I love to sing. But personally, an eternity of singing praises is not what I would call my ideal heaven. But then again, we're all different.))) But she has doubts about works for the dead. We talked about the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, but above all things we are trying to help her understand that the answer to whether or not the doctrine is true is found through prayer. She hasn't knelt and prayed to ask about the truth of the gospel, and it's because she's too focused on the differences of the doctrine of the church and the Methodist church. We're going to be teaching her this week about the priesthood. She wants to know why women can't give blessings. She had a female pastor once, and she would always put her hands on their foreheads and cast blessings on them. So we're going to talk about that with her. Woo hoo. Third, for this one I have to give you some background information. The First Presidency sent President Smartt some instructions about what they want us as missionaries to be doing here in the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission. President Smartt first gave those instructions to the missionaries in the other islands. The result has been incredible. The instructions were that we need to work to having 51% member attendance, and need to have/search 20 men who hold the melchizedek priesthood and pay tithes. So, that's what the missionaries in the islands started to do. A couple weeks ago, the branch on Dominica jumped from 40 people in attendance to 98, with 11 investigators in church. The branch on St. Kitts jumped from 40 people in attendance to 120, with 16 investigators in church. The branch on Tortola is planning 19 baptisms. Etc. And they accomplished this by going to their branch presidents, presenting the instructions from the First Presidency, and then praying together to know which of the men from the member lists were prepared to come back to church and receive the melchizedek priesthood or become worthy to use it again. It's a miracle! So, this is what President Smartt is asking us to do: or in other words, on behalf of the Lord, the First Presidency sent these instructions to us, and President Smartt is simply implementing it. With that in mind, we now go to the Aibonito Branch on Sunday October 27th. The elders quorom president left to take care of his family, so I was left in charge of the elders quorom class. I stood at the front of the class to give the lesson and asked a question, "How many of you hold the Melchizedek priesthood?" I was surprised when two men, who had come back to church for the first time in years, raised their hands: a large number of 6 priesthood holders were present, apart from us missionaries. It was a miracle! I realized what President Smartt had told us was true: the Lord is looking for His priesthood holders. In the Aibonito branch there are 9 men who hold the melchizedek priesthood that have come to church since I've been here. There are more who are inactive. There are two aaronic priesthood holders who we have reactivated, and they are both of age to receive the melchizedek priesthood. Do you see the miracle of that? The Lord's work is moving forward. I gave the lesson about the power of the priesthood. After seeing that the majority of the men hold the Melchizedek Priesthood, I then asked them, "When was the last time you exercised that priesthood?" They all fell silent. Then one man said he'd given a blessing recently. So I asked another question, "Apart from giving blessing or performing the ordinance of the sacrament, when was the last time you exercised your priesthood authority?" And no one could answer. So I went on to explain that the power of the priesthood is so much more than giving blessings and effecting ordinances. We had a really spiritual discussion, read some passages from the Book of Mormon about how prophets used their priesthood, discussed ways that those men in the Aibonito branch had used the priesthood, and then ended with a prayer. It was really great! I was grateful to talk part of that class. Well, apart from that, nothing else exciting happened. I'm so happy to see miracles here in the work of the Lord. It's not easy AT ALL. In fact, I feel like the longer I'm here the harder it gets. But I take comfort in some things my patriarchal blessing tells me about what will happen in my life as a result of the experiences I have as a missionary. I am SO glad that Colby found a job! That was definitely an answer to prayers. And I'm so glad that Jacob is doing well in the MTC. He's going to love California. I wrote him a letter, I just need to send it to him. And I'm grateful that Mikayla is doing well. I'm going to write her a letter :) And Mom and Dad I love you a lot! The experiences I have as a missionary--most specifically my opportunitites to teach members of the church--cause me to reflect on how incredible you both are. I love you both! Elder Cevering

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