Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Jan. 23, 2013

Hello vacationers!

Glad to hear your trip was good, sorry you had to return back to the cold. It sounds like winter is as bad as it always is there. I agree about the inversion, it´s disgusting. I suppose the air in Madrid is better, but it was still nice to get outside of the city last week (more on that later).
It sounds like Hawaii was a lot of fun and definitely something I would like to do. You´ll just have to go back with me sometime (better tell Grandma and Grandpa to put their names on the list again). That ranger hike sounds like it was awesome! I probably would have been all nerdy the whole time. You know I used to know the term for that, when a species is unique to one place. I´m losing all my knowledge, sad! That´s so cool that you got to see whales breaching too! Lucky! I can´t wait to see the pictures of all of it. I´m glad you guys got the chance to go.
That´s excellent that the visas are going through! We need the help and I´m sure the waiters are super excited to finally be coming. The bulletin today said that we would be getting 12 more missionaries this week, so I assume some of them will be from my group. Super cool! I´m not really surprised by the news about the universities having enrollment trouble, I think we all knew it was coming, but it´s still such a cool evidence that missionary work is increasing and moving forward. It´s awesome that so many more missionaries are serving. That´s something I love about the Church, that we never sit still where we are at. We are always raising the bar, pushing farther.
Well, on to the news of the week. First of all is last week´s P-day activity. The four of us in our piso took a day trip to Segovia. It was awesome! We took the train which was about an hour and half to 2 hour journey, but I enjoyed it on the way up. I got to see some of the countryside of Spain, which is a lot prettier and more varied than I thought. I really only been in and around Madrid, which is a desert and fairly boring. Segovia is to the north and is a lot greener. We passed through green hilly areas with huge rocks scattered across them (if you can picture what I mean). It made me think of Lord of the Rings. We even went through some mountains with snow on them! Past the mountains made me think of the Northwest, especially since it was raining the whole time. Then we arrived in Segovia. Segovia is famous for 3 things: the Roman aqueduct that runs through the city, a huge gothic cathedral, and a beautiful castle. Also suckling pig, but we didn´t try any of that. We did see everything else though, and it was incredible! The best was the castle. The inside is a museum that was pretty cool with suits of armor and cannons and all kinds of stuff. We also got to climb 250- something steps up a tiny spiral staircase to the highest tower of the castle. It opens out into a big platform at the top, and you can see the landscape all around and the whole city below you. It was amazing! I was geeking out through the whole thing, just to be inside an actual castle! So cool. I think I took about 200 pictures just in one day. It was a lot of fun.
Work-wise this week has been pretty good as well. We had a couple days last week where we contacted a lot, but it´s paying off. We have several new investigators that are really good. I wrote about Eduardo last week. We´ve met with him a couple more times now and with his wife there as well. The third lesson was awesome. It was the first time his wife was there so she was asking about what we had taught. We had taught the Restoration the last time with Eduardo. When she asked about what we had taught, Eduardo launched right in explaining Joseph Smith and the Restoration. He remembered everything, and he was excited to share it. It was great! It only got better too. His wife is a lot more spiritual, and she was really excited to listen and even asked if we could come back the next day to keep teaching. Unfortunately when we went back they hadn´t read, but I think they have got the desire to know and have definitely been prepared by the Lord.
Monday we found Oscar and Liset again after quite a while. They invited us in and we taught the Restoration. They seemed a little more skeptical, but Oscar talked a lot about how the many different religions confuse him and how he wants to know what is right. We were able to bear testimony that he can find answers in what we teach and in the Book of Mormon.
Yesterday we passed by a piso that a member gave us the address to. Grecco invited us in. As we started talking my companion asked if were bothering him, seeing as we had come by unexpected and everything. He said: No, I need to hear your message. We were shocked. As we talked more we realized that he has met with missionaries before and even had been to church activities. He has recognized the peace and hope that these messages bring to him. Again an individual that God has prepared to be taught. If we really focus on what he told us, I think he will progress well. I´m excited to teach him.
Basically things are starting to move along. I´ve learned two things this week. Contacting really does work and does pay off. Second, God does provide people who are prepared. He knows his children and when they are ready for His Gospel. I just hope I can be a good enough teacher and tool of the Spirit to help them see it.
Oh, before I go, I got the package yesterday. Thank you so much! The pictures are great, and it is wonderful to have music to listen to. You guys are the best! I love you all so, so much! Try not to freeze OK? Bye!

Elder Cousins
January 16, 2013

Holy cow! You guys are in Hawaii?! That´s so legit! I´m not even mad! Send me pictures, OK? Speaking of which thanks for the pictures you sent, they´re great. I am very impressed by Erin´s gingerbread Tardis, and I´m glad that I got to be part of Christmas (that´s a really nice picture of me. . . ). 

So today is going to be super short, I have less than 15 mins right now. We are hoping to catch a train to Segovia to see the sights there. There is a super cool castle that we want to go to. 

Honestly, I´m not sure what to write about anyways. It´s been a pretty uneventful week. We spend an awful lot of time in the street talking to people, but my contacts are improving. Yesterday my companion got his fire back (he´s been pretty discouraged for 2 weeks now, which is hard), and he started helping me out with my contacts. Unfortunately our investigators are actually slowing down. Ambar just told us that she can´t meet for 2 weeks and Tatiana has fired us all week. I´m not really sure what we are going to do all week. . . But that´s part of the mission. Everyone accepts the gospel in their own time. That´s something I learned from your conversion story, Mom. Thank you so much for sending that. It was beautiful and exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you for sharing something so special to you and the sacred feelings that go along with it. I´m grateful to you for making the right choice. I learned from reading your story that I am just a small part of the story of each person that I work with, but that each small part is important. You met with many missionaries and many members before being baptized and each one had their role to play. I am playing a part in each person´s story, and each will come to the gospel in their and God´s own time. I may not see the fruit of my labor in the mission or even in my lifetime, but I hope that someday a kid like me will say a prayer like mine thanking God that his parents made the right choices so that he could grow up with all the blessings with the gospel. Thank you Mom.

Yesterday we taught Edwardo for the first time. He is super cool and very curious about religion. He told us his background without us even asking, and he asked about how the church started so we were able to explain a little of the restoration. All of it was very natural and I have a lot of hope for him and his family. It was a little hard for me though because he had the Beatles playing while we were talking!

Gotta run! I love you guys! Have fun in Hawaii!! :D

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Hi everybody!

First of all: Happy Birthday Sarah! I hope it was totally awesome and you are enjoying all your Dr Who and Beatles stuff. I´m glad your letter arrived in time.
I´m glad you finally got the package! Sorry it´s so late, I really tried to send it so it would arrive in time, but oh well. I´m really happy that everybody liked their presents! And my dorky letter :)
I guess that amount of cold and snow is pretty normal isn´t it? It´s definitely not that cold here, but it is a lot more humid here so that makes it feel colder. We don´t get snow though. Haha, I can´t believe you grilled steaks out on deck in the snow! That´s awesome! Sounds like it was a good birthday :)
Thank you for telling me about the Killpacks I definitely will keep them in my prayers. I know that is a very unexpected trial for them. Let Paul know that my love and prayers go out to him and his family. He has always been such an example for me, I know that with trust in the Lord everything will turn out OK.
So this week has been somewhat of a challenge. Actually it´s been pretty good until last night. I´ve been really focusing on humility and patience, studying about them and trying to develop them as attributes. I´ve started memorizing a scripture everyday and they have all been about these two themes. That being said I´m not perfect. Last night was not fun. My companion and I lost our patience with each other. It was my fault really, but we both had been letting stuff build up instead of talking about it. Mostly we just kind of drive each other nuts, often because of difference in culture. But we finally had a discussion last night and hopefully things will improve. It was just made worse by the fact that all week I´ve been trying really hard to be patient and then I failed. But sometimes we learn lessons the hard way. I learned that I am the type of person who let´s things build up instead of dealing with them early on and that I need to change that. So another self-improvement goal to work on. You all aren´t even going to recognize me when I get home :)
On the other hand the work is starting to pick up. Ambar came to church for the first time this Sunday, so we actually have one progressing investigator! I was super happy Sunday. We also got a lesson with Tatiana, finally! She is really great. We taught the Plan of Salvation and at the end she basically repeated back to us what it is and why the Atonement is important, so understanding doesn´t seem to be a problem. We also set a schedule with her for when to meet, so hopefully that will help, and she can start progressing as well. Other than that we are in the street a pretty good amount. The plus side is I really feel like my contacts are improving and I´m beginning to enjoy contacting. Also, everyone says this area is really hard to contact, so in other areas I should see even more success since I´ve been forced to work so hard on my contacts. I honestly count it as a blessing to have started here. I´ve learned to really focus on the people (by virtue of not having very many) and to be grateful for every one.
Well, that´s my report for the week. Onward and upward, like always. Keep praying, keep writing. I love you guys!

Elder Cousins

Thursday, January 3, 2013

January 2, 2013

¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

I hope you had an awesome New Year´s and did something fun! It was so awesome to be able to talk to you on Christmas! I´m glad you enjoyed it too. :) 

So something intresting about Spain. They have these firecraker type things they love to set off for about a month surrounding Christmas and New Year´s. They aren´t fireworks because there´s no light or anything, they just make an incredibly loud sound, like a bomb going off. So basically Madrid sounds like a war zone during the holiday season. It´s super fun.

So things have been pretty busy as usual here. I´m still getting used to having a native companion. I love him, he´s a great guy, but sometimes he drives me nuts. Sometimes we just don´t understand each other either, not because of the language, but because we just think differently. For the most part though I really like having Elder Berthon as my companion. 

This week has been pretty rough. We don´t have hardly anyone to teach anymore. We have Ambar who we only get to meet with once a week. She is a great person, but it takes a while for her to build trust in people, so she´s progressing pretty slowly. She hasn´t been to church still, but I´m learning patience. Other than her we met with Bea and Kancho yesterday. It has been about 2 or 3 weeks since we´ve meet with them and I was kind of losing hope. But last night was really good. Beatriz is still realy strong, but they haven´t made any changes. I think we figured out that we really need to focus on Kancho because I don´t feel like he has a testimony still. But now we know that and can really work on him. We are going to do a temple tour with them tomorrow and fast today for them. I have a strong feeling that tomorrow in the temple (we can take them in the reception and waiting room) can be where Kancho receives an anwser, where he gains a testimony. I´m going to pray really hard during my fast today. 

The rest of the time we´ve been in the street and visting members. Being in the street this week was no fun. It´s super cold and nobody wants to listen because it´s the holidays. Luckily the members here are amazing! We´ve been welcomed in to so many homes (and eaten a bunch of good food). It makes a huge difference to have their support. The young single adults are especially impressive. They have come out to so many lessons with us and helped us with whatever we need. I feel a little bad because most of those lessons have been no-shows on the part of the investigator. But they just shrug it off and keep coming. It´s awesome. 

I´ve really been noticing this week how everything we do is about people and how I need to focus on them more. We don´t have many investigators, but that doesn´t really matter because each person is worth all of my effort. It may sound weird but I´m trying to work on loving people more. My companion, our investigators, the people here in general. I was looking back over letters from you guys and from my friends and they were about how important it is to love the people and I realized that I need to more. And it´s making a difference. I don´t mind so much that we don´t have many lessons because I remember how grateful I am to have Ambar and the opportunitly to help and bless her. 

Mom, I need to thank you for your advice a while back to remember the improtance of planting seeds. It has really helped the last couple weeks. The other day my companion was super down because we had been fired from every lesson and gotten almost no contacts. He said he was losing faith that things would ever get better. I was worried about him all day and then when we talked about it at night, I remembered what you had written. I was able to share it with him and explain that every person we talk to, every contact we do is planting a seed. That person now knows a little more about the chruch, a little more about who we are, and if we do it with the spirit, has felt something different. I explained maybe we may never see the fruit ourselves, but that the important thing is that people come to Christ and that takes time. Every member we talk with says that took at least a year to be baptized. It takes time, but everytime we talk with them, they are little closer. As long as they come with time it doesn´t matter if we baptize them or not. The important thing is the people. As long as we are doing the work and doing it with the spirit, we are bringing people to Christ. It was powerful for me and it helped him a lot, so thank you.

Well that´s what´s going on with me. I am keeping my journal, but I´ve been worse about it this transfer. I need to get back on it. I know how important it is. Did Dad keep a good journal in his mission?

I think that is so awesome that you and Dad are going to the temple. It is such a blessing. As missionary I am learning so much about the gospel and temples are one of the things that I didn´t realize how great a blessing they are. Also being here I´ve learned how blessed we are to be so close to the temple. There are still people who travel 11 hours or farther to visit the temple. The mission has also given me desires to do family history work. I really want to learn about our family and do the work that they need. I think that´s wonderful that you are working on it as well. Just leave some for me ok? :) 

Well, I had better go, but thank you such much for your letter. It means so much to hear how the spirit is touching you guys as well. I love you! (And I wish I had some woodland sugar cookies to eat)

Elder Cousins