Monday, July 29, 2013

July 29, 2013

Hello Family!

It´s been a pretty crazy week over here. I guess you know all about the train wreck by now. That was pretty scary. Everyone´s been talking about it and the whole country is in mourning. We were pretty worried about Elder Ward for awhile, but thankfully he´s okay, one of the least injured actually. The new missionaries come in on Tuesday and go to their new areas that night, but since he had such a long way to go he left the next day. He was actually here in the office with us that morning. He sang with us for companionship study and everything. Now he´s back in Madrid recovering in the MTC and the plan is to have him come serve here in Alcobendas where President can keep a close eye on him. Elder Shumway (who I´ve been with for the last week) is pretty excited to train "the most famous missionary in the world." Though he will have to help him clean his neck brace everyday, which sounds a little unpleasant :P We´re all just happy that he´s doing so well. We did get to see one of his interviews, the CNN one, and it was awesome to hear his resolve to keep working as a missionary. 

Good things from the week: Belén came to church yesterday and finally got confirmed! That was awesome and I´m glad I got to be here for it. Other good news is that they have a place for the new chapel! So in a couple more years there should be a new capilla here in Alcobendas. 

In other news, I won´t be here any longer. In fact we are leaving as soon as I finish this email to go to B5 and drop me off with my new companion. I´ve realized in this last week how awesome this ward is and how much I´m going to miss people here. I started telling people I was leaving and everyone wanted me to come over one more time, so on Saturday and today we ate with families and on Sunday we had 4 eating appointments. That was a little rough, but it I´m glad I got to visit everyone one more time. I got to see nearly everyone I wanted to. It was kind of hard saying goodbye, but I promised a bunch of people I would come back on a P-day sometime since I´m not going that far away. 

Oh, before I go, I did get the card, so you can activate it. Also, thanks so much for the calendar. Can you believe it´s been a year already?! I´m flipping out! The calendar is awesome though, thanks Mom! 

Well I have to run, we´re late! Sorry I didn´t get to write much. I´ll write more next week and tell you about how the new ward and companion are next week. I love you guys so much! I´m so grateful for all you do for me and for your prayers. Be safe, be happy! 

I love you!!

Elder Cousins

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July 23, 2013

Hey, this is just a quick hello to say I´m alive.

Love you! Bye!

No, I´m kidding. But I do have to be quick.

Important news from the week: Transfers are as crazy as ever and I´m more tired than ever.

Belén did not show up for her confirmation, unfortunately. Next week. . .

Also, I´m getting transferred. Surprise! Actually, I am really surprised. I expected to be here quite a bit longer. I´ll be here for about a week or 2 more to train Elder Bird who will replacing me in the office. And then I´ll be off to Barrio 5. . . Sol! B5 is right in the center of Madrid, including all the tourist areas, so it should be interesting. I´ll be with an Elder who just finished his training. All in all it should be an interesting new experience. I´m excited (even though I´m not leaving Madrid like I hoped). I should be pretty busy here training and getting everything done, but President wants us out as soon as possible (Elder Levorsen is leaving as well, to B3).

One other thing, we found a great family from English classes that we have started to teach. We have only taught them a couple of times, but they have shown interest, especially the mother, when we taught the First Vision and Restoration. It´s super cool teaching an entire family together! I´m a little sad actually that I´m leaving and won´t be able to continue teaching them. 

Well, that´s all for this week, sorry it´s so short. Oh, I wanted to ask about Bekah. Is she still living with you or has she moved already? I realized that I´m the worst brother ever and didn´t make a letter for her birthday! And then I realized I´m not sure where she´s at. So if you could answer back next week that´d be great. Thanks so much!

Well, gotta run! Thanks for everything! I love you so much! Until next week :)

Elder Cousins

Monday, July 15, 2013

July 15, 2013

Dear Family,

Hello! How was everyone´s week? Our´s was pretty normal, right up until the end. Let me tell you the story.

Friday morning we got a call from Belén saying she had something important to tell us. So, we set up an appointment to meet with her that afternoon in the chapel. She was very excited when she came in and couldn´t wait to talk to us. She asked if we could baptize her tomorrow. She explained that she had left one of her jobs so she had the weekend totally free, but that she was starting a new job and wasn´t sure if she would be free weekends or not. The only reason we hadn´t baptized her yet was because of her work schedule. She has been totally ready for awhile. So this was awesome news for us. At first we weren´t sure how we were going to do it, planning and preparing everything and inviting members, but in the end we decided that we shouldn´t wait. So we worked like crazy, with a ton of help from Segundo, our ward mission leader, and got everything set up for a baptism the next day. She had her interview at 4:30 on Saturday and was baptized at 7. The baptism turned out amazing! I don´t know what it was, but everything turned out so good for one day of preparation. The people she has really made friends with were there, and the best part of all of it was when Graciela (basically Belén´s best friend in the church) bore her testimony and welcomed Belén to the ward. Afterword we walked around the temple together (we had to go to Pavones to do the baptism because Bishop was out of town) which was awesome. She had wanted to see the temple for a long time. We got to explain a little about what it is, and Graciela shared how wonderful her experiences of going into the temple have been (she just finished a year as a member). It was an awesome night! It was really good for me, too. I felt again that feeling of this is what it´s all about, this is what makes it all worth it. To see a person you have come to love and care about enter into a covenant with God and to know that you have been a part of that person´s conversion. There is nothing else like it. It is what gives us as missionaries purpose, and it was really good for me to feel that again and help me refocus on the passion of the work. It was a great experience for all of us. I had a big smile on my face all night. 

I also have never had such a stressful baptism before. The whole preparing and finding people to speak and come and getting the font ready and everything all the day before was stressful. So, also, was the fact that she called us that night after the baptism to tell us that she had a work interview the next day at 11. Church starts at 10:30. So I started freaking out again. In the end there was just no way to do it and so we are just praying that next week she will be able to come to church and be confirmed. It´s not a big deal, but it was stressful.

That was definitely the highlight of the week. We haven´t been able to meet with any of our new investigators this week, Raul or Estefania. I´m afraid they´re just not that interested. We did have a pretty intense lesson with Raul, the husband of Graciela, though. He has been an investigator ever since Graciela started receiving the lessons, over a year ago, but he won´t get baptized. He says someday he will get baptized, but he has to feel that it´s time first. So decided to start the lessons again to find out where his doubt or problem is. It worked pretty well. We were teaching the first lesson and somehow it came up that he has a problem with the members of the church. He says that they don´t live what they teach. He gets upset every Sunday because some people don´t say hi to him. He says he sees a lot of hypocrisy and he doesn´t like it. He got really riled up and even said he probably would get baptized except for that. It got a little intense. We explained that people are not perfect, in fact that is the very reason that go to church, to be better. We invited him to humble himself and not let this impede him from receiving his answer and his testimony. It was intense, but good. We saw him in church yesterday and he seemed happy, so that´s good. We´ll see if we start making some progress with him. 

Not much else to report this week. We´re starting to gear up for transfers next week (the dread is setting in) so things should be getting pretty busy and I should get some serious driving time in. Wish us luck!

I´m not sure about the driver´s license or even how to update it. I´ll ask around. Oh and no going to Glacier National Park without me. That´s like one of my dream trips!

Well, I´d better go. I love you all more than I can say. I hope everyone is well. Thank for your love and for keeping me updated. See ya!

Elder Cousins

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

July 8, 2013

Dear Family,

Hello again! Another week has passed. Sounds like it went well for you all, albeit with a few adventures (way to go Sarah and Mom!). 

Our week was mostly hot. I don´t Know if it´s just because I´m wearing a tie and slacks or what, but the heat is getting to me. We haven´t gotten above 40 yet, but it is roasting! I guess I should count myself lucky to be in an air conditioned office for most of the day. 

So on to news for the week. On Monday we met with a new investigator named Raul. He is from Bolivia and works in some type of information technology something, so he and Elder Stephens hit it off talking about computers and stuff I didn´t understand. He apparently has family that are mormones so he said he knew some stuff already. Then he asked us if it was true that we don´t drink coffee or eat pork. We explained that coffee no, but pork is fine. He didn´t seem to believe us and we haven´t seen him since. We´ve set up 3 other lessons and he just doesn´t show, so i´m not sure what think.

On Thursday the 4th we had zone conference, so we had to push back our celebrations. I´ve included pictures of our 5th of July Cook-In. It was awesome! You remember how I told you we got a panini maker? Well it has grill plates. So we cooked up some hamburgers and it was almost like a home BBQ, although the homemade buns were sorely missed. It was a lot of fun. 

Other big highlight of the week was the baptism that night. It was so cool to see Markitos baptized by his dad. I also put in pictures of that. It was funny because Bishop filled the pool up a little too much, so Markitos was practically under the water just entering the pool. I imagine it made the baptism easier though. It´s super cool to see them as a family involved in the church. 

Well, those are the main events for the week. Sorry the email is a little short, but there are pictures, that helps right? Thanks for keeping me updated, and I´m glad you had a good 4th of July. God bless America. I love you guys! Thanks for all you do, for all your love. Take care!

Elder Cousins    

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

July 1, 2013

Hello everyone!

Another week gone flying by! We had a pretty good week, not too hectic with office stuff, although we did have to get up at 5 this morning to take the APs down to the train station and then get some stuff to President to take up north with him. So I´m a bit tired.

Last P-day we went into Madrid and did a tour of the Plaza de Toros, the bullfighting ring. It was pretty cool, although smaller than I thought it was. It was self-guided tour with audio clips, so I learned some cool stuff about bullfighting and how it works. I´m still not sure if I would want to see one. It´s interesting though because they talked about how the bull and the torero, or matador, are both part of the performance. The matador is supposed to outwit the bull, but not mock him, he has the highest respect for the bull. It´s interesting all the drama and stuff that goes into it. 

This week we finished teaching all of the lessons to Markitos, the son of a formerly less-active family we´ve been teaching, and he is going to be baptized on Friday. It doesn´t count as a convert baptism because he is only 8 years old and his parents are members, but it will still be a cool experience. He is such a great kid, and it´s been wonderful to see his parents return to the church. 

Speaking of less-active families, we visited a member this week, Brother Morales. He is totally active and his oldest son and his daughters are as well, but his wife and middle son are not. We visited him and started to share a message about the family using the Proclamation. He stopped us partway through and said how beautiful the message was, but how terrible and embarrassed he felt that his family wasn´t there to hear it, that they didn´t want to hear it. Then as we continued his wife came in and sat down. We summarized what we taught and then shared the most important part: the responsibility that parents have to raise their children well. We taught that parent have a responsibility to teach their children the gospel and provide the best for them, and that if they do, they will find happiness in their families. It was a great lesson. Then yesterday the entire family showed up at church, even the son who wasn´t there for the lesson. I was super happy, but not as much as Brother Morales. 

We had another lesson with Estefania, but she didn´t come to church again. She expressed some doubt about the restoration, and about praying to know if it´s true, but that´s OK. All in time, we just need to keep contact with her and emphasize praying. 

We also finally met with a family that we talked to on the street weeks ago. It´s funny too, because we keep seeing them everywhere. They live right by the church. But we finally met with them! It was a bit of an awkward lesson because when we contacted them in the street we didn´t really have time to explain who we are or what we do. So we explained our purpose and had a lesson 0 with them. It went well, but afterwords they said we couldn´t meet again for 2 weeks at least. That´s when I realized we should have taught the first lesson so they could really feel the spirit strong. I felt like we should have while we were teaching, too, but didn´t do it for whatever reason. That´s the worst feeling, knowing you didn´t do what the spirit was telling you to. We´re planning on maintaining daily contact with them though, so hopefully that will help them feel our love and the spirit. It should be interesting finding ways to contact them everyday. They have potential though, and it would amazing to teach an entire family!

Haha, the mailman just came in with my package! Thank you so much!! You guys are the best! :D You know my favorite candy and those brownies sound amazing! Let´s see if I do them as good as Mom. Where on earth did you find that time capsule letter? I´m afraid to open it. . . :P Dad, I absolutely love that comic! Happy Father´s Day :) And thanks for continuing my collection of Avengers Legos. Ironman is the best! :) Thanks so much for showing your love for me. You´re the best! I love you guys!!

One final thing before I go. We got to see the Work of Salvation broadcast yesterday. It was amazing! I really enjoyed it. So many good messages. Most of all I love the vision they portrayed of missionary work, of what is possible if we have faith. If we all work to increase our faith we will see miracles. Now is the time to put more effort in. It amazing to see the Lord´s work increasing and moving forward. I was particularly impressed with the video segment of the family where each member does something to share the gospel. Everyone has something they can share and someone they can talk to. I was wondering if you have any goals or plans as a family to share the gospel? I know it´s something we´ve never felt very comfortable doing, but like in the video there are many different ways to do it. Most importantly is just to show love. I would encourage you to talk as a family about how you can each be a part of this incredible cause. We wouldn´t want to miss the wave :) 

I love you all more than I can ever tell you. Thank you so much for all you do for me, every single day. Even so far away I can feel your love and prayers. I hope you can feel mine as well. Be safe, until next week.


Elder Cousins