Elder Michael Cevering

Elder Michael Cevering
Puerto Rico, San Juan Mission

Monday, November 25, 2013

Email November 25, 2013

Hello Utah! Our week was pretty good here in Aibonito. It got colder this week: I think it drops as low as the 50's or low 60's here. I love it because everyone gives us hot chocolate. Puerto Ricans like to put cheese in their hot chocolate. It's kind of weird, but it doesn't taste bad. The first time I had it I didn't know it was in there, and it had a flavor I didn't recognize, but it was good. That trailer incident is pretty crazy! That really is a miracle that it didn't collide with the house. Aibonito is really pretty right now: it gets covered in fog. I'll try to send some pictures. On Thanksgiving we have one food appointment set up with some members. We're excited. Here in Puerto Rico they call it zangiving, and they eat turkey, this really good pudding made from coconut, rice and beans (I love rice and beans), that macaroni salad you really like, and this thing called arroz con dulce (which means sweet rice) which is just rice with cinnamon and raisins. It's going to be really good. In terms of numbers we had a really good week. We received four references, taught 10 lessons (which is BIG for Aibonito) to investigators, and 9 lessons with less-active members. We thought because of that we would have a really good attendance. But for the first time in over a month the attendance dropped below thirty. None of our investigators came, which wasn't devastating, but it's always sad when they don't arrive. They had some good reasons why they couldn't come though: one went down to San Juan for a birthday in his family, and Amarilis and Efrain were out partying late...maybe the last one's not a great excuse haha but they've been really good at coming every week so that didn't make me sad. Amarilis is really progressing. She does missionary work now. She brought her mom and her friend to the "Zangiving" party we had at the church on Friday. Her mom is super, super, super Pentecostal. It's really a miracle that we have such a good relationship with her because before she never let missionaries come close to the house: but she loves having us over. Last night we sat down with her and drank hot chocolate and we asked her to tell us how she came to know there was a God. It was a good experience. The Lord is really blessing Amarilis and Efrain. They're really poor and have no money, but the Lord is helping them with their wedding. People have been popping up out of nowhere giving them free things. A member offered to buy Amarilis her wedding cake, some family members are paying to rent an area for their reception/party, and they've been receiving some small things too from random people. Amarilis told us she knows the Lord wants them to be married because of all the miracles. We still don't know when the wedding will be, but they want it to be soon. We can't set up a baptismal date with Amarilis until there's a wedding date. It will be an incredible opportunity for her and for the branch to really grow stronger when all that happens. We watched "On the Lord's Errand" with them last night, and she cried while watching it. She really has a testimony of the church and of the Book of Mormon and of President Monson. Our plans with Jose and his family fell through this week: they were supposed to come to our branch activity but some of them were sick so they didn't come. We were really disappointed. We're going to try really hard to teach them this week. The branch activity was a great success: we had six investigators present, and the zone leaders had two more. We see a lot of potential in the branch. What I hear from branch members when I visit them is a lack of confidence that the Lord will really help them raise up this area. We're trying to help them see that He is already at work. They often don't see what we missionaries see: they don't see how the attendance has risen, they don't see the transformation of investigators like we do, and they don't always see the work that is being done daily to help the kingdom grow. To help them out, we're working on a few different projects: the Planchas (or plates) of Aibonito--where the members write their testimonies and experiences--is one of those projects. The next one we're working on is a bulletin board in the chapel that says "And thus we see the great call of diligence of men to labor in the vineyards of the Lord" Alma 28:14. We're going to put up pictures of the members in their baptisms and other things. We just need approval from the facilities people and it will be UP in the chapel. The branch president already gave us the go-ahead. The next goal we have is to have our branch counsel meeting. For the most part, the leaders are doing their work: they go out and do visits and such. But they aren't communicating. That is what causes problems in the branch. So we're working to have a branch counsel meeting on Sunday. I feel really scatter-brained right now haha. I'll tell you about a lesson we had this past week: a member asked us if we would be willing to help one of her friends who is struggling with anorexia (spelling?). So we went to the member's house and sat down with her friend we we talked. We gave her a small little notebook to write her feelings in and in the front we put a picture of Christ, and three questions for her to write about: When do I feel peaceful and happy? When have I felt a desire to love others? and When have I overcome a challenge? We talked with her about those things, and we talked about the love of the Lord. It was one of those lessons that reminds you just how much God loves His children. At the end of that lesson, this girl said the prayer, and I've only ever heard one other prayer like it in my life. She was TRULY grateful for what we'd talked to her about. Thinking about her words bring tears to my eyes. She said, "Thank you for sending me these missionaries. They are good people. Please protect them so they can continue helping others. Thank you for them." Man, it does your heart good as a missionary not to see the results of your work, but to know you have HELPED. For me personally, I'm glad I don't see all the results of my work, because I'd get proud. But I'm always touched when I can see that others are happy because the Lord called me to be there for them. Perhaps you can see in this email just a little bit about what the scripture from the title says: "And thus we SEE the GREAT CALL of DILIGENCE of men to LABOR in the vineyards of the Lord." This is what the Lord is teaching me about right now. He's teaching me to hear this great call of diligence. I'm grateful to all the people in my life who have heard that call and who are changing the world with the Lord. I know that my life has been changed and touched by such people: but of course, that change came from the Lord, not from men. I love you all a lot. I really am grateful for all that you have done for me and all you do for the Lord. I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving! Elder Cevering

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