Elder Michael Cevering

Elder Michael Cevering
Puerto Rico, San Juan Mission

Monday, January 27, 2014

Email January 27, 2014

Hello Family! This week was not a successful week for us: I was sick all week long. I woke up last Monday not feeling really well: headache, back pains, stomach pains and nausea, and those symptoms worsened during the day. I thought I had dengue again. I had to stay in all day Tuesday and part of Wednesday. Thursday we went on a trade-off with the zone leaders so I could do their baptismal interviews, and then Friday and Saturday I was inside all day again. It was really frustrating! The good thing is I still feel positive about the situation and I'm feeling much better. Whatever it was that I had is gone now, and I'm looking forward to this week. We're going to make some serious changes in the things that we do, and we're going to find some of the people we've talked with and we're going to be even more direct with them. We are going to now focus our efforts on specific families in the wards. All reactivation work is going to come through the ward leaders: not from us. If they want our help in reactivation, they can call us :). We're going to focus on helping the active members become active in this work. They all say that they help people and give service: we're going to help them become missionaries in those moments. That's the number one thing we're going to be focusing on. That was easier in Aibonito because there weren't a lot of members, and in Carolina because we had a car. In bayamon it's going to be a LOT more difficult because everyone lives spread out. The city is really big, and there's no public transportation. But I guess we're just going to have to improve even more our planning--which I think is a part of this whole not having cars thing. As far as investigators are concerned, there's nothing to report. Elder De Oleo went out and worked with the other missionaries this week in trade offs and had no success teaching anybody we've found. I love Elder De Oleo. He's super calm and relaxed. He's really great with people and he is a good friend. He always tries to serve: in the house and in the streets. I got to see some members from Carolina last night: they were here in bayamon so they came to see me. It was really great! It made me want to go back super bad! We'll see what the Lord wants. Love you all! Elder Cevering

Monday, January 20, 2014

Email January 20, 2014

Hello from Puerto Rico! I wish I could write to you and tell you we had an exciting week, but it wasn't. Haha. Some good and cool things happened this week but it wasn't necessarily this super great week. One of the big things we're struggling with and wanting to change is getting the ward more involved in missionary work in their personal lives. A giant difference between Aibonito and Bayamon is that the members here don't have the same urgency to do the work that the members in Aibonito had. The members in Aibonito were in danger of closing their branch. Meanwhile, the members here in Bayamon have more pride that they are a "strong ward." I've seen it before on the island: there are wards that have people who want to partake in the work with you, but a lot of wards are stuck in a state of "all is well in zion" because there are a lot of them so they don't try to reactivate or baptize. It's frustrating. Another thing is that there are a lot of members and missionaries who don't really understand what it means to be involved in the work of salvation. It's not just about the members leaving with the missionaries for lesson or members giving missionaries references. It's more about church leaders seeking the Lord's guidance, making plans, and then using all of our efforts to bring people back. That is the part that most people miss: they just think they will go visit people, or they think that the missionaries will find people, or whatever. It's more of a cooperative effort between members and missionaries, backed by the influence of the spirit of revelation. In terms of our investigators, there is nothing exciting happening. We're still on step one: Finding. Carlos is really great, but we haven't been able to teach him. He's not a really busy guy, but things have come up to keep us from being able to teach him. We are supposed to meet with him on Wednesday, and I hope it will go through. One of our investigators is not really progressing. The elders found her before I got here and set up a baptismal date with her. She has a desire to learn and even a will to be baptized, but she is the kind of person that is really laid back and doesn't put a ton of importance to things. She's about to lose her light because she doesn't work, and even though it stresses her out she doesn't seem to do much about it. She tries to make crafts and sell them, and it seems to work out for her, but it's funny. I don't know how much desire I have to teach her anymore, but then again, it's not my desire that matters. The Lord works miracles in the hearts of people. We had stake conference this week, and it was really awesome. The stake presidency talked about the work of salvation. They said, "We are inviting you to repent and become more involved in the work of salvation." Hopefully I'll have more exciting news for you next week. I love you all! P.S. If you go to LDS.org, there's an I'm a Mormon video of Lesly Toro on the first page. I know that couple. You should watch it. Elder Cevering

Monday, January 13, 2014

Earthquake in Puerto Rico

Some of you may have heard about the 6.4 earthquake which occurred in Puerto Rico at 1:00 AM this morning. Elder Cevering didn't mention anything in his email about it so he's obviously fine and was not affected by the eartquake. All news reports say the quake only caused minor damage - nothing major. We are grateful that the people in Puerto Rico were not injured and that their homes and communities were not seriously damaged. It is truly a blessing!

Email January 13, 2014

Hello Family! This was a good week: just a lot more walking. I have a few cool stories but not a lot to say. My companion and I get along really well, and all is well in the district. They are slowly growing to be more reverent. I love them a lot: it's the best house of missionaries I've lived in, but I am working with them on reverence. It's good. We found a man two weeks ago named Carlos. We were walking in the street and offered to help him in his garden. He asked us to pull some plants out with him and throw them in bags. So we did that, then left him with a Book of Mormon and our number. He called us last week and asked us to come back to help him move some rocks and explain the B.O.M. to him. Because of time on the day we went we weren't able to tell him much about the B.O.M. but we set up an appointment with him on Tuesday. We asked him if there was anything else he wanted help with on Tuesday and he said, "No, I just want you to explain this book to me so I can start reading it and learn from it." HA. It's super cool, we're super excited. Saturday night we went with a member to a lesson, but it fell through so we went with him to Home Depot to help him load some wood in his truck. We arrived there late, and weren't able to get everything bought until 9:38, and we are supposed to be home by 9:30. Another problem…it was raining that night, so the member didn't want to put the wood in his truck. We stood outside Home Depot for maybe five minutes and then I said, "Alright let's say a prayer so the rain will stop." We did just that: and as we prayed we could still feel the rain coming down. Elder De Oleo said he didn't think it was going to stop. But in the moment we said Amen, BOOM, there was no more rain. We threw the wood in the truck and headed home. On the way home the member looked up at the sky and said, "It's cloudy and dark enough that I can't see the moon or the stars. There's no reason it shouldn't be raining. God really does answer prayers." As we opened the door to enter the house, it started raining again :) God knows and loves His children. Apart from those two stories, a girl we've been working to reactivate in the church came yesterday. We were super happy about that. She's been inactive for a year due to an ugly divorce with an ex-missionary she passed through. But she's really great and she was really happy to be back. Oh, another story: listen to this. Elder De Oleo and I were walking the other day and without realizing, we walked into the middle of a swarm of bees. There were hundreds of them buzzing all around us. They circled all around us, but they didn't touch us. We laughed at the end and said, "We're going to make a movie of all the miracles we see here." So, things are going well. I'm content here in Bayamon. The ward has members that want to work. We get fed almost every day. But I'd rather go to lessons with members than have food. However, I realize that the members do their duties within their families and within the chapel, which is absolutely important. Something we are planning to do as missionaries to help the ward is talk about the atonement. I've been doing a test with members to find out how well they understand the atonement, and I was really surprised this past week when we had dinner with the second counselor in the stake presidency. This man has been a branch president, bishop, and is in his third stake presidency. That's quite showing for a Puerto Rican. But here's the thing: we talked with him about 2 Nephi 2:8--the merits, mercy, and grace of the Savior. He defined the merits of the Lord, the mercy of the Lord, but neither he nor his wife could define the word "grace." That was pretty disturbing to me, and it's sad. How can anyone really understand the atonement of Christ without understanding what grace is? With that question in mind, we're going to be talking with the members about grace. We've already found that many don't know what it means, and we've had the chance to teach it to them. Anyway, things are well. I love you all a lot and miss you! Elder Cevering

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Email January 7, 2014

Hello Family in Utah! This past week was one of the most satisfying and yet difficult weeks of my mission. I've felt the atonement active in my life very strongly, in every aspect: emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally, and socially. In my first day in Bayamon the zone leaders called and gave us some instructions from the first presidency which had arrived for president Smartt. Missionaries in Puerto Rico are no longer allowed to use bikes. So I have to sell mine. And also, the really big news, all the cars in the mission must be sold. NO ONE is allowed to use a car for proselyting in Puerto Rico--the only exception is with members. The APs don't have a car, the zone leaders don't have a car, and the district leaders don't have a car. We are all on foot. When I was told that I was super surprised, but I was really excited: I knew that it was the will of the Lord and that we would see huge blessings from it. We have already seen the fruits of being on foot. The members are pulling together to help us more in the work, apart from the fact that we are able to talk to a lot more people. There's not a lot to report, other than that we have found a lot of great people. Elder De Oleo--my companion from the Dominican Republic--told me that he's never had so much success contacting than in the past week. He said, "These people in Bayamon are hard-hearted." But we've been able to find people really, really easy. And it's not just about being on foot: we were doing this before. Elder De Oleo says the Lord has softened the hearts of the people here. In all honesty, I've never seen so much success contacting either. In all the contacting that I've done in my mission I've never talked to people who have been so receptive. And I am in Bayamon: the CITY of Puerto Rico. Everyone says that city people are the proud ones and that the people in the mountains are the humble ones: there's been a huge difference in receptivity in the people between here in Bayamon and Aibonito. I've been really amazed. It's not been easy just being on foot: a part of our area is an hour and a half walk from our house. It's been really tiring, but that will change with time. None of us were expecting the change, but it wasn't like we were never walking or never exercising or never contacting. I really love the missionaries in our house. I'm the district leader of us four. Elder De Oleo is super chill and is great with people. Then there's Elder Arana: he was the missionary in Aibonito before me. He and I spend a lot of time talking about Aibonito and about things up there. And then there's Elder Armstrong. He was the district leader before I got here, and he silently criticizes everything I do. Elder Arana is kind of crazy: he doesn't necessarilly follow the rules, but he's a really great missionary. Elder Armstrong always criticizes him for things. So I talked with him last night and tried to help him realize the good points of Elder Arana's missionary work. It was really sly too haha he didn't even get he was having a talk with his district leader. There's a lot to do in this ward but it's a strong one. It's stronger than Carolina, but there are some struggles we have to help the members overcome. The bishop doesn't really like the missionaries to be involved to much with things in the ward--for example, he doesn't like them to be in Ward councils, but the Caribean area presidency has made it clear that we have to be in those councils. So we're working with the bishop. Not much to say. I love you all! Things are going well here! Elder Cevering