Elder Michael Cevering

Elder Michael Cevering
Puerto Rico, San Juan Mission

Monday, March 24, 2014

Email March 24, 2014

Hello family, Today is a really hot day! A member told us something today I'd never learned before: the wind from the Sahara Desert carries all the way to Puerto Rico, and that's what makes it so hot here sometimes. It gets smoggy and that's why: the sand from the Sahara. I'd seen it before in the clouds, but never like it is today. It's really cool actually. I have some really crazy news: I am staying in Bayamon and I'm going to be training a new missionary here! He's the ONLY elder that is coming in this transfer and in the next transfer. The rest are all sisters. So I feel really blessed to have this chance: I feel like it's evidence that the Lord and president Smartt have confidence in me. It'll be a great way to put my mission away because of my last three transfers two of them will be spent training this missionary. I feel the love of God, knowing that He chose ME at this time. I feel really humbled. I also feel like it's part of God's call to me to continue to work hard until the end, which I'm grateful for. Elder De Oleo is going to the other side of the island to a place called St. Isabel, which is on the beach :) It's really hot down there, so he's not too excited, but he'll do well there. It's really good that he's getting out of Bayamon cause he's been here for almost eight months and it was taking a toll on him. Our week was interesting. We went to Abraham and Anna's house on Monday and found out we couldn't meet with them at all this week because of the appointments Abraham had for his leg. Apparently he was in a lot of pain from the therapy they're giving him in order to prepare him to get his new cast. So there's nothing new there. Things are going well here: I'm excited to start training! We're also moving to a new house, and Elder Arana is leaving so things in our house are going to be so much better. A missionary from Honduras is going to be coming to be companions with Elder Armstrong, and he's really cool. He's only been in the mission for about 8 months, so our house is going to be full of newbies and me. Woo hoo. This week will be a good one! We're preparing for the ward training on Sunday, which is going to be awesome. I'll give you the details about it next week because we still don't have it all figured out. But it's going to be awesome and it's going to bring this ward to life. That makes me very excited about Café Rio coming. I have actually been craving Café Rio. The food here is not Mexican, though it is a lot of rice and beans. But that's why I'm so happy about it: rice and beans are close by now. I love you all so much! Elder Cevering

Monday, March 17, 2014

Email March 17, 2014

Hello family! First off, our investigators Abraham and Anna are doing really well. Abraham gets a new cast this week which means he is coming to church next Sunday. I'm really excited about that. They're a great family. I didn't teach them this week: the other elders did because we were on a trade-off. But the lesson supposedly went really well. We're going back tonight. Jorge is doing well: he's getting baptized on the 28th. On our trade-off we had a great lesson with him about the plan of salvation. We started off talking about our homes and discussed with Jorge his home as a child and his feelings towards his parents. We related the love he feels for his parents to the love we have for our Heavenly Father, and asked him, "If you loved them so much, why did you leave them?" He answered, "Well, if I hadn't left them I would never have grown so much." When we showed him how that was the same with the pre-earth life and coming to this life he was really stunned. He was really touched by the lesson. We are happy with the direction that the ward is moving. The home teaching program is now organized and in effect. That will have a HUGE impact on this ward as time goes by. And now we're planning for March 30th a ward-wide training by us missionaries. It's going to be really cool. The goal is to invite and commit the members to invite one person they know to be baptized in the month of May. We don't have all the details worked out, but our bishop has given us sacrament meeting and priesthood/relief society to talk to the ward. It'll be really great. It's the best thing this bishop has ever done for missionaries in this ward. There's a man in our ward who's really helping things to change. He's from Costa Rica, so he is a much harder worker, much more devoted person. He has gained a lot of knowledge in his life, as he has been a bishop, among other callings he's held. I'm really glad he's here in this ward. He's increasing the spirituality of the priesthood lessons, which is super important. This ward has the most priesthood I've seen in any area I've served, but they have been failing in doing their duties. I know that this man will help these men to move forward. I love you all and miss you all a lot. I'm not trunky, but I do miss home and am excited to get there. I'm learning how that's normal and fine: longing for home is part of our spirit being. I'm grateful to my Heavenly Father for all that He's doing to strengthen me here in Puerto Rico. I've been reflecting on the person I was in the months before my mission, and imagining the person I'll be when I get home again. I think I'll be so similar, and yet so different. Hopefully you'll all still love me ;) haha. I'm so GRATEFUL for my mission and all I've been blessed to experience. It will be hard to leave it behind, but it will be so great to be home again. I love you! Elder Cevering

Monday, March 10, 2014

Elders with the Ward Mission Leader in Bayamon

Email March 10, 2014

Hello again! I feel like the past week was long, but it was a pretty good week. We had a good number of lessons, and our investigators are progressing. We didn't maintain our numbers, but I'm happy with what we could accomplish. I try to look at the success we have with the people we are able to visit rather than look at our numbers. Abraham and Anna are doing really well. We went back to their house to teach them about the Restoration again, and it was really great. It started off slow: Abraham was on medication so he wasn't completely there haha and Anna seemed a little unfocused at first. But after having to step aside to take a phone call, the thought came to me to give them blessings. Abraham was in a lot of pain and Anna hadn't been sleeping because of the care she has to give him. They accepted the offer for the blessings, and the Spirit fell upon their house when we administered to them. Abraham became fully attentive to us, and Anna said she felt that during the blessing there was a current passing over her head from our hands, and she felt more at peace. We were then able to give the lesson without distraction, and they both were really excited to read the Book of Mormon. We have a new investigator named John. We taught him on Saturday about the Book of Mormon. He told us, "I stopped going to church a few years ago because I couldn't trust what the preachers were saying. Hasn't the Bible been changed over the years?" We told him he could trust in the Bible but also to trust in the Book of Mormon: that together they would help him know the pure doctrine of Christ. It was a really good lesson. He was going to go to church but had to take his nephew to Toa Baja--the city next door--so he couldn't attend. I talked with the elders up in Aibonito and they gave me some exciting news: there are going to be 7 baptisms there this month! Really exciting. The branch has really come alive in helping the missionaries in their efforts. The elder that I talked with reminded me of the day that we all knelt down together and prayed for the Lord to give us guidance concerning the branch. This elder says that "all the good that has come for this branch has come as a result of that prayer: because the Lord answered it." He's still up there in the mountains seeing the fruits of our labors, and I'm so happy that he can see them. This morning the Jehovah Witnesses came through the neighborhood. Elders Arana and De Oleo wanted to play a joke on them--you'd think that we'd have more compassion on people who preach in the streets knowing what they go through haha. They took my Jehovah Witness Bible--one I took from the house of one of my investigators--and went down in the streets and said, "We don't want this Bible, the Mormons gave us a different one and it's better." HAHA. It's super funny, but it's also super rude. The Jehovah Witnesses didn't take it back, so I still have their Bible. And apparently they want to come and visit us at our house: Elder Arana acted like he didn't have a religion and that he was talking to the Mormons. Bah. Here we go... We're working towards March 30th: that's the day we have to instruct the ward about missionary work. We are planning to do some practices with them about how to share the gospel. I'm really against getting up in sacrament meeting and preaching to the members to do missionary work. They know they have to do missionary work, and many of them have done it throughout their lives. But they haven't had much success at it because they don't know how to do it. So we're working with them on that and trying to prepare ourselves for the 30th. I don't know if I want to stay here in Bayamon for that day or get transferred out--transfers are the 25th. We'll see what happens. Anyway, I love you all a lot! Elder Cevering

Monday, March 3, 2014

Email March 2, 2014

Hello Family! I want you to know that this past week was the happiest, best week of my mission. I grew a lot personally and learned a lot about my relationship with my Father in heaven. After receiving the talks from brother Roylance I decided I was going to pray more than I ever had in my mission. President Smartt had talked to us in our zone conference that we needed to pray more in our work, so I felt that the talks joined with president's words were inspired. So I put them to the test and began to pray a lot more in the mornings, pray in the streets during the days, and pray more at nights. I began to beg the Lord that He would guide us and give us power in our teaching. I begged Him that we could have just one investigator present at church. So with a lot of faith in prayer, we went out to work, and we more than doubled our weekly numbers here in Bayamon. We jumped from 2 lessons a week to 9. We jumped from 2 new investigators to 7. And the investigators we found are really solid! We taught them short lessons about the Restoration and then read in the Book of Mormon with them. It was really incredible! We found a family: their names are Abraham, Anna, and Miguel and two other young men whose names I don't remember. They believe in God and Jesus Christ but have seen the corruption in the churches in Puerto Rico so they ended their Sunday attendance. They told us about the second biggest church in Puerto Rico--the pastor's name is Wanda Rolon. Entrance into her church is $5, the order for sitting is according to your social class--rich, middle-class, or poor--but all in attendance are required to give extra offerings during her preaching or they are asked to leave. And for those who want to give a lot of money, there's an ATM in the church where you can take out money. That's not too rare in Puerto Rico, but it's one of the biggest examples, and it's the example they used when they talked to us about their religious beliefs. It was a perfect place to start teaching about the Restoration. We showed them how the corruption in the religions of Puerto Rico is the fruit of the apostasy, and they understood it perfectly. The Spirit was present, and they invited us to go back. We're stoked. Elder De Oleo said, "This feels just like all the other times I've found a family in the streets and they've gone on to be baptized." I had the same sort of feelings. When Saturday night arrived, none of our investigators were going to be going to church. Abraham was recently shot in the leg--he was out smoking in a park one night when a shoot-out started and a bullet bounced off the concrete and hit him in the leg. So he wasn't able to go to church. Crazy right? But Saturday night I still was hoping that God would answer my prayer. So I went to bed, and I woke up to Elder Arana saying, "Hey, Jorge is going to church today!" I was so excited! We hadn't taught Jorge during the week, so I was super surprised when I found that out. He went to church with his son and he loved it! He's got a baptismal date for March 29th. The other missionaries are going to start teaching him this week--they've been having some hard times finding investigators, and one of them has never had a baptism, so we are going to let them teach him. But that's not all: a part-member family showed up randomly to church for the first time in a year. The wife is from Mexico and isn't a member but invited us to her house on Saturday to eat and to share a message. Really awesome! And also, some random members from the Dominican Republic showed up and brought one of their friends here from Bayamon to church. They gave us the reference. So I was humbled, and I knew that God had answered my prayers to have investigators at church. To cap off the week, Elder Cornish came to Puerto Rico and gave a training to all of the bishops, branch presidents, stake presidents, ward mission leaders, and high councilmen. All of the mission leaders were invited, so I got to go. It was a really great training! We'd received the training before in a zone conference last December, but it was really great for the church leaders to receive it because a lot of them don't like to listen to us missionaries--for example, our bishop in Bayamon haha. The best part of the training, however, was seeing the bishop from Carolina! When he saw me he came running to me to give me a hug. He told me that seeing me made it the best Sunday he'd had in a long time. I felt really loved, and I am happy about that. Great things are happening! The Lord is at work here, and we just have to continue being faithful so He can use us. I know this is His vineyard and His work and that He uses mortal instruments to bring about miracles. I love Him and love you all so much! Elder Cevering Mom, thank you SO MUCH for the package! It helped me out so much this week. I love you!