Elder Michael Cevering

Elder Michael Cevering
Puerto Rico, San Juan Mission

Monday, April 28, 2014

Email April 28,214

Hello family! Today I am feeling really good. In all honesty, this past week was one of the hardest weeks of my mission. I am so glad this transfer is coming to an end, and I'm hoping for some good changes to take place. But in the end of everything, I am happy right now and I am excited to get into this new transfer :) Things between Elder Matamoros and I are not too great. He's really, really tough to deal with. He says that he doesn't need anyone to tell him anything about how to be a missionary. I always tell him, "Look, when I began my mission I felt like I knew a lot too. I'm telling you now, after 21 months in the mission, that I wish I had listened more to my trainers." He acts like I'm unintelligent. Blah. I'm going to be making a plan with the other elders to try to accomplish some things in the ward--which is struggling along. We had a ward council meeting where it was proposed that we make a ward mission plan. But just in case that never happens, we have to get the ward moving in some other way. We, the missionaries, are basically the life force of every ward and branch on this island. We got some good news from the stake yesterday. Our investigator Migdalia--the one who wants to be baptized on May 17th--came to Bayamon to church yesterday. And we were stressing a bit about that because she doesn't live in our ward boundaries. Well, we talked to the stake mission leader and he said that it was best that she continued coming to Bayamon for one simple reason: she's learning. She can continue going to Bayamon and then one day, when she is firmer in the church, someone can teach her about the boundaries and then they'll leave it up to her. Ha. The funny thing is that she lives in an area named Toa Alta, which is basically a war area between the Bayamon ward and the Toa Baja ward. There's a line that divides the Toa Alta area into the two different wards, but no one respects it, and no one enforces it. There are members from Bayamon that attend Toa Baja. Blah blah blah. So that had a big part in the whole decision of letting Migdalia continue coming to Bayamon. So that's great. We have ONE investigator! Hooray! I will never be able to express fully what my mission has meant for me and what it has made of me. I will forever be grateful to have been sent here to Puerto Rico for two years of my life. But the mission is tough, and it's only meant to prepare us for the rest of our lives. I had a very personal experience in the sacrament yesterday. I know that it's a true ordinance--that Jesus Christ really did initiate it in His earthly ministry. I know that Joseph Smith restored the priesthood authority necessary for that ordinance to have a complete effect on our souls. The atonement of Jesus Christ was such an incredible act of love and obedience. I will ever be grateful for His love. I love you all so much! Elder Cevering

Monday, April 21, 2014

Email April 21, 2014

Hello family, What a week! I feel like it went by really fast, though nothing exciting happened. To be honest, it was a tough week. We had a great lesson with an investigator--she asked us, "When can I be baptized?" and then we found out she doesn't belong to our ward...SUPER disappointing. GAH. I was SO happy when we set up the baptismal date and everything, and I was so happy to have someone SO promising, just to find out that she didn't live in our ward boundaries. It was really, really frustrating! The ward has been making some big advances over these past couple of weeks. The home teachers are finally getting out and doing their visits! It's really great. And the visiting teachers are going out too. It really makes a difference in the Spirit that we feel in the chapel. A few months ago I gave an idea to the zone leaders to have a stake missionary fireside. They gave the idea to the stake president and he approved it. It was called "Returning the Hearts to the Family." Well, they took the idea and worked it out with president Smartt, then told us to invite everyone. Then this past week we were told that we--the missionaries--couldn't go. I wasn't too frustrated by that. I talked with some members afterwards and they said it was a really good fireside, so I'm happy about that. Hopefully it will have some good fruits. There is literally nothing else for me to write about. I'm just trunky really. I've got to get myself more focused, but I'm seriously having a hard time staying focused on the work right now. All of the investigators I've found here in Bayamon have either fallen through or they attend other wards...I contacted a bar the other day that's near our house. I asked each of the men in the bar if they were interested in listening to our message. They all flat-out said no, until the last man. The last man said, "What are you going to teach?" I gave him a short resumen of what we teach then said, "Do you think I would take my time to come into a bar to talk to people if I didn't think it would bless your life?" He then told me he'd like us to pass by. When I saw his address I saw that he wasn't from our ward. BAAAAHHHH. I was SO disappointed. He seemed so cool. Preach My Gospel says that "No effort is wasted" and I believe that. Maybe this is just a practice in humility for me. But I'm tired of having to send golden investigators to other missionaries :). But pa'lante. Oh well. Life goes on. I haven't gotten your package yet. The whole mail process is really slow in the mission. President wants us to get mail directly to our houses, but our house doesn't have a physical address so I can't receive mail that way. Bleh. But I got grandma and grandpa's package. Tell them thank you. I love you all a lot. I love you all so much! Elder Cevering

Monday, April 14, 2014

Email April 14, 2014

Hello family! Well, don't think that you missed out on anything by not getting a full letter last week because nothing exciting happened. Better things happened this week. Well, the exciting news from this week is that Jorge was baptized! It was a really great experience. The ward had a different Spirit in it on Sunday. I wish I could tell you more exciting things were happening. I'm doing alright. I feel like time is going by fast, but I feel like what I'm doing isn't making a difference. Despite all the people we talk to, and despite all the promising people we teach, it just feels like no one is really serious. That's the tough part: we are getting preached to about finding the people that will receive us, but even when they receive us they don't receive the doctrine. I know that faith is incomplete without enduring to the end, but it's just tough. This has been the longest period in my mission where my numbers have been low. I don't focus entirely on numbers, but I do know they are important and represent our work. I know I'm working, so I'm not second-guessing or thinking badly of myself or my efforts. I'm frustrated with the people. President Smartt says there are a ton of people ready to accept the gospel. I believe that, but I want to find them. You know? Well, I won't be negative anymore because I don't want you to think that I'm not doing well or that I'm being too hard on myself. I'm learning a lot about my weaknesses and I'm grateful for that. The atonement has been very active in my life this past week. I know Jesus Christ lives and is my Savior. We all ought to strive to be more like Him and be obedient to His commandments: doing our duties more than blesses us, it blesses others. Something I've seen in Puerto Rico is that the proud, idle "saints" bring a HUGE burden on the dutiful. So be responsible and faithful. I love you so much! Elder Cevering

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Helping in a Banana Field

Pictures of a Ward Missionary Meeting and a Family Dinner

Email March 31,2014

Hey family! Well, my fourth and (hopefully) final child got here to Puerto Rico this week from Honduras. This is my third companion from Honduras. Stinking Hondurans. They're cool. His name is Elder Matamoros. Here in the caribean that means "kill rice and beans" if you're from the Dominican Republic. It's funny to see the Dominican people laugh when they read his name, even though I'm sure Elder Matamoros doesn't think it's funny. We started his mission off great. A member invited us to visit with one of her friends. It was one of the more incredible lessons of my mission. Her name is Migdalia. Her sister has been seeing their dead mom. So the member talked to her about works for the dead, and that's how we were able to have the lesson. As we talked to Migdalia about the different things her sister has seen she said that once her sister heard a voice say to her: "Don't worry about your mother, she's with me. My name is Carmela." Well, she didn't know who Carmela was, so she did some research and discovered that her great grandmother's name was Carmela. Well, we didn't get to talk to the sister, but we talked to Migdalia and we began talking to her about the atonement and our need for it. We talked about those who didn't ever receive the blessings of the atonement in this life, and read the famous scripture in Malachi that teaches us that Elijah will come to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and vice versa. When she read that scripture she re-read it again out loud, and we felt the Spirit come into the room and I could see that she'd been deeply touched. Then she suddenly started to cry and said that the scripture "impacted" her. So we taught a few other things, then left her with the invitation to go to church and she went! She even talked with her sister in the week about all we talked to her about and her sister is now interested in talking with the missionaries. It's a super cool experience. Before I get to what happened at church, I'll tell you another story of a new investigator. Elder Matamoros and I went out contacting, and I decided--according to prompts from President Smartt and from personal feelings towards being in the street--decided to be simpler in my contacts. I decided to stop trying to qualify people in the streets to listen to our message and simply started to look for people who could receive us after hearing a very short testimony in the street. So with that in mind, I went out with Elder Matamoros and we contacted a ton of people. After a couple hours we were walking up this street, and I saw a man standing up above us in his home, and I just walked past him, but felt that I should go back. So I shouted up to him, and he didn't want anything. But his wife heard my voice and came out and said, "Yes, please come up!" So we went up and talked with her, and she said, "My aunt was a Mormon." We talked with her about what she knew of the church and she knew a lot, though there were parts of our story that were broken in her memory. We pulled out the Book of Mormon and read the testimony of Joseph Smith with her to help her remember the story, and it really impacted her. She said to us, "I'd forgotten how important this book was. I was soon going to be baptized in an Evangelical church, but I'd forgotten all about this. I need to do some thinking. Where is your church? I want to go there." Sounds like a pretty great week for a new missionary right? Haha. But it's not done yet! We had our missionary training class with the members yesterday and it was a success. We had been talking and planning it for weeks, but on Saturday we just didn't feel like we were ready yet, so we said a prayer and asked God to guide us to know what we needed to do. The inspiration came quickly: we needed to do a very thorough demonstration of HOW one member can invite his or her friends to listen to the missionaries. So that was how the training started off: our ward mission leader acted as the member inviting his friend to listen to the missionaries. He showed exactly how it is that we are supposed to approach inviting situations: he got to know his "friend's" feelings and then talked with him and invited him to listen. Then they had a short "lesson" in the member's home and ended it there. We then analyzed with all the members the things that this member in the demonstration did to invite his friend. It was a good discussion. Then we showed a power point, and I shared some different thoughts about how to invite people to listen to missionaries. But the most important part was the 4 step process we showed to members that they should use to find people who will really want to listen to the gospel: 1-make a list of friends and family, 2-pray and fast for guidance and for them to receive the gospel, 3-talk with those people about the gospel (giving testimony of the Book of Mormon if possible), and 4-inviting them to talk to the missionaries in their home. It was solid! Members wrote down the points, so we're hoping they will now put them into practice. We ended the training by pulling out a flag we'd painted. I'll be sending a picture of it. We invited the members to write their names on it if they were willing to "hasten" their work with the Lord's work, as taught in D&C 88:73. It was solid. Our stake president was present for the presentation and he told us he loved it and thought it was the perfect form for teaching members. So we're excited and happy about it. Apart from that, things are getting really hot here. One of our fans broke in the house--we sleep with standing fans because we don't have air conditioning. So I've been putting my blanket in the freezer so that it gets frozen before I go to bed. If I don't do that, I can't fall asleep because I'm too hot. Haha. What an experience. Well, I love you all a lot! I pray for you and always hope things are going well. Elder Cevering