Thursday, February 28, 2013

February 27, 2013

Dear Everyone,

So I guess you´ve realized that next week will be when we switch P-day to Monday. Sorry if you were expecting an e-mail earlier.
So, I have some exciting news this week! Kancho came back from Bulgaria last week and on Friday we met with him again. Of course we brought up the question of baptism. He said that while he was in Bulgaria he talked to his family about the chruch and explained basically what we believe. He said that they told him if that was what he wanted they had no problem with it, but they did say to be careful because you can´t be baptised twice. He explained to them about the authority (!) and how it was necessary and told them that when he got back to Spain he was going to be baptized. So this Saturday we have another baptism. I´m more than a little happy. :) He also said that after baptism he hopes things will be a little more clear for him about whether he should stay here and get married or if he should go back to Bulgaria. We promised him that the Spirit could help guide him on that. So if you could keep him in your prayers, that the baptism will go well and that he can be led, that would be wonderful. I know your prayers have already helped so much.
That´s about all the news for this week. Daniela has been gone to London and just got back yesterday so we´re going to visit her tomorrow and keep preparing her for the 9th. Eduardo came to church this Sunday with one of his sons, but Paula went to her Evangelical church. They are both interested and have desires to learn, it´s just a slow process. But they have come a long way already since we started so that is awesome. Other than that we are just continuing along, working hard and trying to better everyday. Life in the mission.
I´m glad you guys are doing the media fast altogether as a family and I hope it´ll be a good experience for everyone. Good luck to Sarah and Erin on your dinner discussions and remember the most important thing is the Spirit. The best thing you can do is bear your testimony. Be confident. You´ll do great!
Congratulations Erin on your new calling! That´s awesome! It is a great experience being part of the class leadership and they couldn´t have picked anyone better to do it. Just remember that Christ taught that leaders should serve those they lead. Love the girls in your class and be an example and you can make a difference in their lives. God will help you out. I love you!
Good luck as well to the girls in track and plays and everything else that´s going on. I always pray that you are doing well in everything and that you can continue to spend your time doing the things you love and improving everyday.
Thank you Mom for your advice today. Love, serve, teach. I like that loving and serving come first. Sometimes we get caught up in our role as teachers, and it´s true that nothing will help the people like learning the restored gospel, but they need to accept it too and that comes easier when they feel it and see us living it.
I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week. Try not to go into media withdrawals and find other fun things to do, especially as a family. Keep being awesome!
Elder Cousins

Thursday, February 21, 2013

February 20, 2013

Hello, family!

First of all an important piece of news before I forget. Starting the 4 of March P-day will be Monday. So starting that day I will write you on Mondays. Para que sepaís.
Thank you for the congratulations. The baptism was an awesome experience. It´s amazing seeing people making changes in their lives. I´m planning on sending my current camera card along with the jersey for Erin (sorry if it´s a little big) soon.
Things here are going well. This week was special because at the end of the week we realized that we had reached our goals in almost every key indicator (key indicators are things like: how many lessons with a member present, how many new investigators, how many references received, etc). We´ve been talking a lot the last little while in the mission about goals and about 2 or 3 weeks ago they gave us a standard of excellence, or minimum goals that we should have. These were higher than we had been getting, but then this past week we nearly reached all of them which is super cool!
But the most important thing is the people. We are continuing to work with Daniela who is amazing as ever! We have taught her Plan of Salvation and The Gospel since then lessons 2 and 3) and set a baptismal date for the 9th of March. She accepts everything we teach readily and says that it all makes sense and feels right. She always reads what we leave her and she has been to church twice now. We talked about repentance yesterday and invited her to repent of anything in the past she felt she needed to and she said: I don´t have anything to repent of, I´m a good person. She said it jokingly, but I think it´s true. She is a picture-perfect golden investigator. My only worry is that she is going to London over the weekend and going to a concert Sunday, but we explained how she could find a chapel close to her online, so I hope she still goes. It´s not the end of the world if she doesn´t, there is time enough before her baptism (an investigator has to attend 3 times before baptism), but it would be awesome if she went.
I also have great news about Eduardo and Paula. We had a lesson on Monday with just Eduardo (Paula was super sick) and we asked him straight up what was keeping him from reading the Book of Mormon. He explained to us that sometimes Paula discourages him from reading because it´s not the Bible. Her sister I guess has been telling her the same thing and she is really close to her sister. That may be part of why it´s so hard to meet with Paula as well. But the good news is the lesson we had yesterday. We had committed Eduardo to read again and he said: Maybe I´ll have a surprise for you next time. We passed by last night to visit Paula and give her a blessing. We taught about the priesthood a little and the authority and then gave her a blessing, which was a really cool experience. Then in talking afterwords we found out that Eduardo had read the chapter we left to her! How incredible is that?! It is absolutely incredible to see people progress.
We don´t have anyone new that we are working with right now. We have other investigators obviously, but we have a hard time meeting with them and they don´t progress. But of course we continue to look and the Lord blesses us for it.
The weather is starting to get warmer here. In fact today we went to the Parque Europa and it was a beautiful day. The Parque Europa is a park outside of Madrid that has scale replicas of famous sites all over Europe, such as the Eiffel Tower, The London Bridge, etc. Some of the replicas were pretty cool and it was nice to just be outside in the nice weather. I think spring is already on it´s way here which is a little weird for me. I feel like it should still be snowing, but I´m not complaining.
Your President´s day sounds amazing even if it wasn´t ¨exciting.¨ To just watch a movie and hang out with the family sounds great. :)
Wow, congratulations to all the girls! That´s awesome that Erin is going to run track. I always wish I´d done track. And Sarah is going to be in another play? Super cool. Congrats, Bekah, on being accepted to all those schools! That is amazing! How are you going to decide? Haha! I´m happy for you. Let me know where you go! What talented, intelligent sisters I have. I´m proud of you guys.
Well, I think that´s about it. Sorry if I forgot anything important. It´ll have to wait till next week. I´m always happy to hear that everyone is doing well. I love you all! You are always in my thoughts and prayers (but don´t worry, it never makes me trunky ;) ). Thanks for everything you do and have done for me. Say hi to everyone for me and tell Brother Killpack that I´m thinking about him and praying for his family. I hope all is well with them also. Until next week.
I love you!

Elder Cousins

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

February 13, 2013

Dear Family,
Beatriz got baptized!! Basically I´m super happy right now. I have been so excited since Saturday to tell you guys about it! But I´m getting ahead of myself.
Thursday one of the zone leaders came with us as a trio all day and interviewed Beatriz at the end of the day. She passed without any trouble and he said that she was really great and totally ready for baptism. I told him I already knew she was really great and she has been ready since before I got here. :) Beatriz said she wanted to be baptized as soon as possible so Friday we called as many members and investigators as we could and made a program (which was actually one of the best I´ve seen so far in the mission, if I do say so myself). Then Saturday at 1:00 was the baptism. It was amazing! There were more people there than I've ever seen at a baptism in this ward. Everyone was so excited that she was finally getting baptized (half of them thought she was a member already). I was pretty stressed trying to get everything ready in the morning and make sure it turned out well (I think every baptism is a little hectic), but in the end it was all worth it and it turned out great! Elder Berthon and the old bishop who just got changed gave talks about baptism and the Spirit. After that I preformed the baptism, which was an awesome experience (and I didn´t even say anything wrong). It happens so fast but it´s so important and so powerful. I´ve gained a greater appreciation of the symbolism of baptism in the mission and it was so wonderful to be able to be a part of washing away the past and starting a new life for Beatriz. After the ordinance José Luis (also a recent convert and Bea and Kancho´s closet friend in the ward) bore his testimony about the incredible feeling of baptism. He talked about how we are completely washed clean to start again and how he tries everyday to stay as clean as he was the day of baptism and to keep that feeling alive. It was really touching. Then Beatriz bore her testimony. She has such a strong testimony and so much faith! She thanked everyone who helped to reach this point, talked about how excited she was to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost the next day and that she will strive everyday to stay worthy of it. She really brought the Spirit. Elder Berthon told me afterwords that Daniela (she and Paula came to the baptism, yay!) teared up a little during her testimony. How cool is that?Afterwords everyone hung out for awhile congratulating Beatriz and eating (Ely and Beatriz brought a TON of food). Basically the whole thing was amazing and I´m so happy and so thankful. There have been so many missionaries that have taught her and I am just grateful to have had the honor of baptizing her. What an awesome day!
So that was obviously the most important news from the week. Other than that we have been continuing with our other investigators. Eduardo and Paula are slowing understanding more and more. We need to help them recognize the Spirit more. We taught Daniela the Restoration and she was very interested and said she would read and look for her answer. She also said that this past Sunday she really wanted to come to church. She had an interview or something but she said that normally something like that wouldn´t bother her, but all day she felt like she wanted to be in church. That's super cool and I had the thought come into my head while she was talking that God is on our side. He is providing our investigators with the experiences they need and sending the Spirit to touch them, we just have to open their hearts and minds to what God already has prepared for them. I was able to testify that that feeling came from the Spirit and that by following feelings like that she will be able receive and recognize an answer from God about what we teach. It was a really good experience.
Other than that we are continuing with patience in working with people and looking for more people who are prepared. Kancho is gone for a couple of weeks for vacation, but when he gets back we´re going to ask him where he is at with baptism and if we need to continue working with him. I feel like he will be baptized soon as well.
Thanks for telling me about Kylee's and Addi´s mission calls. Ohio and Florida, how cool is that! I´m excited for them, next time you see them tell them they rock for going on a mission and that it´s going to be an awesome experience!
I never wrote Cheri, sorry I totally forgot. I don´t know if there is still time, but something I would have done to prepare more is study Preach My Gospel, especially the basic doctrine in the lessons in chapter 3. Strengthening your testimony of those basic doctrines and making each one meaningful to you will help you teach better. Also, loving people is hugely important in the mission. Try to be more loving and to see everyone as a child of God. That would be my advice.
Mom, I would encourage you and the whole family to participate fully in the media blackout. I think Dad told me it´s only a week, which is not a very long time. I think it would an awesome example to the girls if you were to do it. Also, try replacing the time you would normally spend with some sort of media doing something that brings the spirit, such as reading the scriptures or conference talks or just pondering how God has blessed us. I know that if the Stake Presidency asked you do this blackout, it´s for a reason and as you participate you will see blessings.
Well that´s all I have time for for today. You already know, but I don´t get tired of saying it: I love you all soooo much! Thank you so much for supporting me from the other side of the world and praying for me and for the people I teach. I know that your prayers had a lot to do with Beatriz being baptized. I know there is power in prayer. Thanks for all you do and for loving me. Have an amazing week!
Elder Cousins

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

February 6, 2013

Dear Family:

Wow, you guys are almost as excited about transfers as us missionaries are!  Alright time to end the waiting! Are you ready? I am now serving in Madrid Barrio 6 with Elder Berton as my companion! Haha, no, I haven´t been transferred. The only change in our piso is that Elder Levorson went to the office and Elder Ponsoda (Native Spaniard) is now companions with Elder Fisher. I was pretty disappointed Saturday night when I found out (I mean, I want to see some other places!), but I was also sick as a dog, so that didn´t help. Since then I´ve realized that I´m supposed to stay here and that I´m actually really happy to. I really love the ward here and some things have happened that make me feel like it´ll be worth it to stay here.
One of those things is that we had an entire family of investigators in church for the first time on Sunday. I don´t know if I´ve written about Eduardo and Paula before. They are a couple from Ecuador with 2 kids. We´ve been teaching them for a few weeks. It´s actually a really cool story how we found them, I don´t remember if I told you. We contacted Paula in the street, but couldn´t get a hold of her afterword. A few days later we contacted Eduardo and found out that they are actually husband and wife and from there we were able to get a lesson with them. So it was super cool to see all of them in church on Sunday. They also brought with them a friend named Daniela who is a few years older than us. She has been in a few lessons with them and yesterday we met with her. She said she really liked church and what she has heard us teach. In fact at church she asked us when we could meet. How cool is that?!
The other amazing thing that happened Sunday is what Beatriz told us. My companion came in in between classes and told me Beatriz wanted to talk to us. When we found her she looked at us and said: "I´m getting baptized" (except in Spanish of course). I was speechless for a second. She explained that she wasn´t going to wait anymore. Kancho is leaving on vacation, she is moving in with a family in the ward, and the sooner she can be baptized the better. She has her interview tomorrow so we´ll see from there. I am super excited! At the same time, they have tried before, so I´m trying to stay cool and make sure everything happens right, but she was very sure about it when we talked on Sunday. Mostly I am praying a ton that everything will work out okay and that she can be baptized. If we are able to be the ones to baptize her, it will be more than worth it to stay here. I would stay here and work with her my whole mission to get her baptized, honestly. So keep praying, and I hope next week I´ll have some good news.
That´s pretty much all that´s going on here. A roller-coaster ride of emotions everyday. I´m still working on improving my teaching skills and trying to understand people better and learning to rely on the Spirit for absolutely everything.
Thank you for keeping me updated on everything that´s going on at home. I´m really glad that Sister Killpack´s surgery went well, I´ll be sure to keep praying for her and her family.
That´s a super cool story about the priest´s quorum mission prep. Thanks for sharing that. I´m excited to start getting some new missionaries.
Oh no, I forgot to wish Grandma a happy birthday! Say hi to her from me and give Grandpa my thanks for the money. It means so much to know that they are supporting and helping me. They both rock!
Well, back to being a missionary. It was good to hear from you, and I hope you´re not too disappointed about transfers. I love you guys and I pray all the time that you are all safe and happy. So be happy! Love you!

Elder Cousins

Friday, February 1, 2013

Jan. 30, 2013

Fam! Hi!

I am doing great! How are all of you? Wishing you were back in Hawaii? I´m pretty jealous now that I´ve seen it. That cove looks incredible! And so warm. . . Thanks for all the pictures, they are awesome! I wish I could of come with you guys. Two winters from now we´ll have to go again (tell the girls to start saving up).
I don´t need anything for now, that last package was great! Thanks so much for the music, it really helps me relax at the end of the day. Just the other day we got home after a pretty long and kinda crappy day (it happens) and I turned on the music and on came Lord of the Rings to make happy again. Also the peppermint patties and the chocolates were delicious and my companion had a good time trying different flavors of Jelly Bellys.
"You will keep me safe, and you will keep me close and rain will make the flowers grow. . ." Is that the one? I love the music from Les Mis! Some of it is pretty sad though. I don´t blame you for breaking down on the side of the road, haha! None of your co-workers saw you at least? 
Zach Kandare doesn´t sound familiar. I´m glad he´s going on a mission though. Sounds like he´s going to the same mission as several of the guys in my MTC district. They were always talking about how it´s the farthest southern point before Antarctica. And that there are penguins. Speaking of the MTC, the rest of group has finally got their visas and are here in Spain. And guess who is living in our piso as a companion of Elder Fisher and Elder Levorson? Elder Pugh, my companion from the MTC! Crazy, no? It´s really cool to see him again. He spent the past five months serving in Los Angeles, and he said it got pretty crazy sometimes. He´s excited to be here and learn the ropes. It´s the same story with all the others who have come. Elder Taylor from my district was also in LA and Hermana Judy, who I knew in the MTC, was in the Ogden mission, and she actually served in Logan most of the time, which is pretty cool.
Things are pretty good here. We have a lot more investigators than I ever had before this transfer through our own efforts and hard work. I´ve learned how to really work hard at contacting and finding, which will really help throughout my mission. The problem, unfortunately, is still the same, which is that they don't progress. We still have trouble getting them to read or come to church. It´s a little difficult. I feel like I need to learn how to help people see why what we teach is important and how keeping commitments will bless them. It´s hard because we promise lots of blessings, but they´ll never see them if they don´t do it. I don´t know. I need to understand our investigators better and help them understand us better. I´ve been focused on that the last few days. But it feels good to have investigators and citas most of the day.
So transfers are Monday. If I move (which I probably will) you will just hear from me next Wednesday from my new area. I´m pretty excited for transfers because I´m pretty sure I´m leaving. But if not I´m OK with one more here as well. I guess we´ll see.
OK I have to run, but thank you for writing me and thinking of me. Sorry I didn´t get to respond to everything. I hope everyone is doing well! I pray for you all the time and I love you so much! Take care!

Elder Cousins

PS Endemic is the word, thank you. And I bet those finches are endemic.