Saturday, December 28, 2013

December 2, 2013

Querida familia mia,

How’s it going?  So how was the week?  Do anything super exciting?  Are you guys getting snow yet?  It actually snowed here!  We woke up one morning, and there was a tiny bit of snow still stuck to the cars and the branch of the tree outside our window.  Isn’t that great!

It certainly is plenty cold, though.  It’s weird to think that I got to this area in the hottest part of summer and now it’s freezing cold.  Time is just going faster and faster.  I’m starting to confuse things I did with Elder Kinghorn and things I did with Elder Weixler.  It just seems like such a short time I’ve been here.

So the work continues onward aqui.  Our investigators are doing well, but we’re having a hard time finding new ones.  I don’t know if it’s the cold weather or what, but we’ve only gotten one new investigator in the last three weeks.  I’m not sure what we need to change, but we need to keep finding people.  

Luckily the Lord has blessed us with some incredible people that we are already teaching-- foremost being Ruth.  She is just amazing!  And she’s going to get baptized!  She has a baptismal date for the 14th of December.  I’m super excited for her! :D  We set the date with her on Wednesday and then on Sunday at church we talked with her and she said that she had already checked with her boss and got the afternoon off.  She is so solid, and she has such a strong testimony.  She is just one of those people who has so much faith.  I feel like we hardly did anything, which I guess is how it should be.

Our other investigators are struggling a bit.  I’m most worried about Juvenal.  We didn’t meet with him last week and then on Saturday he didn’t show up to the lesson we set and hasn’t answered since.  He’s a great guy and has sincere desires, but I’m afraid he’s letting life get in the way, with all of his studies and everything.  Be praying for him.

Jose didn’t read or pray all week and he still hasn’t talked with his wife, but those are just setbacks.  He is still strong and just loves learning the Gospel.  Each time we meet our relationship with him gets stronger.  On Friday he gave each of us a huge hug as we left and thanked us a bunch for the work we are doing.  The Gospel is really having an effect on him and his life, and I just want so badly for it to be able to bless his family as well.  We recommitted him to talk with his wife, and we are setting up an FHE with a member family as a more subtle way to introduce what we teach. 

We didn’t get to teach Jhony this week, but he did show up to English classes and Noche de Hogar, and he made good on his promises to read.  Sadly he said “no” on coming to church.  He was so close to saying “yes”, too!  He said “little by little” but promised to come next week, and he seems to be a man of his word, so that’s good.

Arthur is suddenly making more progress in quitting smoking than I’ve ever seen. He went down 2 or 3 a day in just this last week.  He and Elder Weixler have formed a really close bond, and I think that’s what’s really making a difference now.  If Arthur gets baptized it will be thanks mostly to Elder Weixler.  He’ll need to start coming to church again though; it’s been a few weeks now.

That is the state of things here in B5.  We have some FHE’s and visits set up with members for this week.  We have a great amount of support from members, and we are trying to get closer to them.  We just need to start getting references out of them.

Elder Weixler and I are getting excited for our birthdays (his is the 7th), Christmas, New Year’s , and 3 Kings Day!  It’d that time of year.Oh, and if your Christmas package arrives late again, it is your fault for not giving me any ideas of a present for Dad! Just kidding, sorry if it arrives late, I’m really hoping to get it out soon.

That’s all for this week.  Thanks again for all your love and support and prayers.  And for being the best family ever!  I am so hugely blessed to have such a wonderful family, to have a testimony, for the opportunity to share the gospel with others.  I love this work!  And I am happier than I have ever been before.  I hope all is well at home and that the Lord continues to bless you.  You all are in my prayer.  I love you!


P.S. We had a huge Thanksgiving feast with a family of Americans in the ward.  We even had stuffing!  It was amazing!  Hope you had a good Thanksgiving.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

November 25, 2013

Querido familia,

Hello, again!  How’s everybody’s week been?  Thanks for sending along that email by the way.  In case there is still any question, you should write by snail mail.  I won’t see any emails you send.

So yesterday we had transfers.  As expected Elder Weixler and I stay.  This will probably be my last here in B5 so let’s see if we can get some baptisms together.  I’m glad to stay.  Our awesome district got split up though!  Hermana Hone and Hermana Caballero, both of whom have been here since I got here, get shipped out.  It was pretty sad.  Our district is really close.  It’s been a while since I’ve gotten kind of bummed out by transfers.  But luckily they are both close by so we’ll see each other around.

Things are going pretty well with our investigators.  We’ve been so blessed to find people so prepared for the gospel.  Unfortunately we didn’t get to meet with some of them this week, so progress is a little slower than usual.  

Ruth is doing great.  We didn’t get to meet with her, but she came to church on Sunday.  Almost on time, too, so we got to show her where Relief Society was and everything.  And then she was just with members the whole time and even stayed after for something the Single Adults were doing.  That’s something I really like about Ruth: she just goes up and talks to everyone on her own.  From the first time we met at the church she went up and introduced herself to everyone there and called everyone “brother” and “sister”.  She already talks like she is a member of the church, too.  Feel like she already has a pretty strong testimony.  I think next time we are going to talk about baptism.
Sadly, she was the only one who came to church apart from Isabel (a lady we taught once in a group like the tea party thing).  Valencia, a kid we’ve taught a couple of times just whenever we can find him.  We have no  other way of contacting him other than to pass by his house, and we’re not sure how interested he is, but he showed up at church so that’s something.  Isabel could have a lot of potential, but as of right now we have no contact info or her.

Jose is also doing great.  I don’t know if I said earlier, but he works on Sundays so he hasn’t been able to come to church, and until he has a solid testimony I don’t try to talk about changing work.  But we’ll get there.  He read the chapters we left him last week, twice.  He said it was hard to understand and then explained to us exactly what it all meant, so that was cool.  He also prayed for us!  It’s something he said is hard for him, so it was awesome to hear him pray.  I just love his sincere interest.  He just has such desires to know the truth and to know God.  He wants to believe, and I know Heavenly Father will bless him with a powerful testimony.  We taught part of the Plan of Salvation this week, and he was really into it.  He also said that he is going to talk to his wife and daughter about meeting with us as well.  He said his wife is not as open to this kind of stuff, and he actually hasn’t told he is meeting with us as yet, but he is going to tell her and invite her to listen as well.  That shows that this is something important to him if he is willing to take that step.  I’m really excited.  I hope we are able to teach them all.  

Juvenal ‘s doing pretty well, but he didn’t meet with us or come to church this week.  He did come play soccer with us but then said he couldn’t meet with us that afternoon because he already took time out of studying to play soccer.  :(  I’m hoping he’s just really busy lately and we’ll be able to meet again soon.

We had a lesson with Johnny which was really great.  He expressed some really sincere desires to learn more.  He committed to read and pray even though it’s been years since he prayed.  

Arthur is progressing along at his own pace.  He said he is down to 13 a day now.  Little by little. 

Some good news: I don’t know if you remember Merci and her family?  We’ve heard that they get back December 3rd, so pray that we’ll be able to find and teach them again.  

Well, I can’t think of any other news to share.  I’m super happy to be staying here in B5.  I’m really excited for this next transfer.  I feel like good things are going to happen for us here.  Wish me luck and keep praying!  I love you all a whole bunch!  Thanks for everything.

Elder Cousins

Thursday, November 28, 2013

November 18, 2013

[Thanks to Sarah for transcribing this letter]

Heeeeelllllloooooooooooo family!!!

Well, another week gone by, if you can believe it. I had another scary moment this morning thinking about how fast time is going by. Gotta make the most of it!

Well, I hope last week’s letter arrived safely and found you all safe and sound. I hope you were all able to crowd around and read my awful handwriting. We keep seeming to run out of time on P-Days lately, so I’ll have to write quickly.

We’ve had a pretty amazing week, this last week. The Lord has blessed us with some incredible people to teach and He has prepared them so much! They are so prepared, it’s insane! It’s so great to see them begin to progress in their testimonies of the Gospel.

First of all, Ruth. Ruth is incredible! She has so much faith and love for the Lord. She has said more than once that she is looking for the way to Salvation. The way to the Lord. We met with her this week and she said she has been reading a book about Joseph Smith that a member gave her. So she already knew a lot of his story, but we watched the Restoration video with her nonetheless. She really liked it and afterwards she said that with all she has read and heard about him, she knows that Joseph Smith was called of God, that he was a prophet. Wow. How cool is that? What a solid start to a testimony. She was less sure about this being the one true church of Jesus Christ and the way to Salvation, but we invited her to pray about it. She came to church for the second time (late again, unfortunately, she has a bit of a punctuality problem). She is progressing really well and was really excited when we gave her a Book of Mormon. We really have the help of the members to thank for her as well. We found her through the members and they’ve really reached out in love and kindness to her since.

We also had a really col experience with Ouvenal. Friday we met with him (this time it was us that showed up late, a half hour!). We were really worried, but he was cool about it. He confessed that he hadn’t read any of the Book of Mormon and when we kind of brushed it off he said, “No, it’s not okay. It’s bad. I need to read.” It really surprised me, but in a good way. We watched the Restoration video with him as well and he was really into it, asking us questions after and everything. He prayed perfectly at the end of the lesson and then after he almost got a little emotional. He thanked us very heartfelt-ly for all we were doing for him. He said that he lost the way of God, but that thanks to us he was getting back in it again. He said that we were like family to him. It was really touching. We expressed our love for him as well and let him know that we are there for him no matter what. Unfortunately, he slept in again and didn’t show up for church so we’ll have to get after him about that.

Finally we taught Jose again as well. I can’t remember if I’ve talked about him. He is from Bolivia, has a wife and daughter and is super prepared as well. The first visit with him was amazing. He has such simple, sincere questions about if God exits, if there is life after death. His face lit up as we told him yes and taught about the Restoration and God’s relationship with us. He has been truly looking for the truth and he sincerely wants to know if this is it. It was a really spiritual lesson, even though we were teaching the same things we always teach. In the second lesson he had read all of the pamphlet of the first lesson. He understood it all, but he hadn’t prayed about it. We reviewed it and committed to pray and left him some chapters in the Book of Mormon about the plan of Salvation to read. I’m really excited to teach that this week. Unfortunately he works on Sundays so he hasn’t been to church yet. I’m very excited for him through. I know when he gains a testimony it will be so strong that there won’t be any problem getting him to commit to live the Sabbath day. (Or whatever you call that.)

So that’s how things are looking right now. We have some really incredible people we are teaching and I feel better about the work than I have in a long time. We need to find more people to teach still and balance our time, but I feel like we are doing pretty good. Everyone has such a different way of doing the work that sometimes it’s hard to tell if I’m doing a good job or not. But I feel good, and I love the people we are working with and want to do all I can to help them so I think that’s right. I’ve been thinking a lot about how powerful the message of the Restoration is. To a person who has never heard it, it can be completely life changing. Seeing that God answers prayers as he did with Joseph Smith, that there is a prophet on the Earth today. Those are huge things! It’s so amazing to see that knowledge change people and bring happiness to their lives. There is a joy in this work that can’t be found in anything else. I never want to stop doing it, even after I get home. Alma 26:32 “This is my life and my joy.”

Those are my thoughts for the week. We are among the most blessed of Heavenly Father’s children. I am so grateful to Him for everything, especially for my amazing family. I love you guys so, so much. Much more than I can say. I pray for you lots and I thank the Lord for the blessings he sends your way. Thank you for your prayers. I hope everyone is happy and safe and I hope you have an amazing Thanksgiving! I love you! Until next week.

Elder Cousins

Friday, November 22, 2013

November 11, 2013

[Thanks to Erin for transcribing Quinn's letter so that we could post it!]

Dear Family, 
So this is a little bit different but hopefully not in a bad way. Sorry for the wait though, I hope you weren’t worrying too much. And don’t worry, I’m totally fine. Better than ever, actually.

Can you believe this is how missionaries used to communicate with their families? You know, way back when the dinosaurs roamed, right Dad? Thank heavens for technology, right? Except when it doesn’t work like it should and makes us crazy, like it’s doing to all of my friends/ companions right now. We are in Segovia (yes, again) and the computers here are about as old as the town.

There is something special about a handwritten letter though. I feel like more like myself writing like this than on a computer (even if my words per minute rate is rapidly dropping). So we’ll continue like this for the foreseeable future and please forgive any inconvenience (like, for example a lack of spell-check). 

So I didn’t get to read your email for this week but I assume all is going well. I hope everyone is happy and healthy.

Things are going quite well here. The beginning of the week was a lot like the last couple, lots of walking, but by the end of the week we had a few lessons. We are starting to find some people, which is awesome! We had an amazing lesson with  Ruth (the lady who gave us her number at the little tea-party-in-the-church thing) on Wednesday. She is so prepared and so interested in the Gospel. She had several good, sincere questions and even though she sometimes distracted herself when she spoke (it was a bit of a long lesson) it was obvious that she had genuine interest. And she came to church on Sunday and really liked it. :)

We also found and began teaching Juvenal. He is about 25 years old, from Equatorial Guinea and is here studying something that makes him sound really, really smart. The first lesson was a little awkward. We didn’t have much time and we didn’t really do a good job explaining things. But we gave him a Book of Mormon which he was interested in and he said he wanted to come to church to learn more. He also came to English classes on Saturday and stayed for Noche de Hogar (FHE) afterwards. He left pretty quick after but he said, “I’ll see you at church tomorrow.” Which was way cool! Sadly, he didn’t show, but when I called him afterwards, he was really apologetic (he slept in) and sounded like he really wanted to be there. We set up another lesson without trouble and he was super friendly so I have high hopes for him.

We also taught Jhonny (I know, right?) this week. The first lesson was good and he came to English classes and NdH, but he didn’t like NdH and he basically said he wasn’t going to come to church so we’ll see. He may need a little more time to warm up.

Other than that, we see Arthur just once a week at Miriam’s house and he hasn’t come to church for 2 weeks. We don’t really get to talk to him at Miriam’s because there are always other investigators there, but as far as I know he’s still slowly smoking less and less. Very slowly. We both feel like he is going to get baptized someday, he has a strong testimony, but it will be in his way and at his pace and no one is going to change that.

We saw Mayte again for the first time in 2 or 3 weeks. She went to a Young Women’s activity and afterwards we were able to talk for a few minutes. We found out that her dad has prohibited her from meeting with us because it’s affecting her grades or something like that. We encouraged her to continue coming to church if she can and to go to the YW activities and be friends with them. We testified that there is happiness in living this Gospel whether you are baptized or not. I hope she continues to stay close to the church and when the time is right she’ll be baptized.

Beto showed up to church out of the blue for the first time in a month. And Patricia said she would call us  to meet again for the first time in a  month, so I guess we’ll see what happens there. Viki is lost completely so pray for her.

And that’s about the picture of things right now. This Sunday was the ward Primary Program, so that was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the Primary songs in Spanish. You remember when we all used to be in that?

Well that’s about all I can think to tell you for now. My companion and I are getting along great and I feel like we are working well. Segovia was beautiful with all the fall colors. It’s starting to get stinking cold again here. And just stinky. The cleaning people have all been on strike for about a week so the city is covered in trash. It’s pretty gross.

Oh, just a heads up, if you see a lot more money coming off my home card lately it’s because I’m full into Christmas shopping. In fact I only need a present for Dad and then I’m done. Any requests? Also I found this coat that I really like and would be great for here and after the mission, but it’s a bit pricey. I’m going to wait and see if it goes down in the big Christmas sales, but I am considering it as a present to myself, just so you know.

Oh, I almost forgot! Thank you so much for the package you sent along! That was awesome. I especially liked the quotes from Erin. Thanks!

One thing I thought of for Christmas that would be nice would be a battery charger. I love my camera but it is always out of battery right when I need it. It sucks them dry so fast! So that would be nice. Also, pictures. Lots more pictures.

One last thing. I know there are at least a few people who read the letters blog, so I’m not sure what to do about that with this new set up. I don’t want to ask you to type up my letters, but maybe a brief summary or something would be good. Or maybe you could just scan the pages and post it like that. I’m not sure what the best thing would be. Sorry about that. Thanks for your patience with me.

Well, that really is all now. I must go. I just want you to know how much I love you all. I’m so grateful for your love and prayers, for your incredible examples to me throughout my life. Thanks for your concern and prayers for the people I teach and love so much. It makes a difference to them and to me. I hope everyone is doing wonderful and you all have an amazing week. I love you!!

Elder Cousins