Wednesday, August 28, 2013

August 26, 2013

Hey everybody! 

Happy Monday! This week I lost my agenda so we´ll see how well I remember everything that happened. That was really awful actually, we had a bunch of references written in it. Pero, bueeeeno. . . 

Actually some of our best investigators right now we met at that Filipino activity. We are teaching a family of 4, father, mother, son, cousin. And they are super cool! They have come to church twice already! It´s a little hard teaching them, it´s a crazy mix of English and Spanish and Tagalog (them speaking Tagalog, not us), but they are doing really well. We talked about baptism with them and gave them calendars and invited them to pray about a date for their baptism, but I´m not sure they really understood. We´ll have  to go over the calendars again this week. They also feed us every time we come over. :) 

This ward is swimming in Filipinos. I´ve decided it would be worth my time to learn Tagalog. New personal goal. Yesterday we passed by a less active member who is also Filipino. She sounds like she wants to go back to church and her husband is not a member, so there is a potential investigator there as well. Plus the 6 other Filipinos who live in her house.

This week was a little rougher on lessons. We´ve lost contact with Wilmer and with Gilma. It´s too bad, they both had a lot of potential, but it looks like they aren´t interested anymore. So we are on the look again. It´s hard to keep a balance. I feel like one week we teach a lot and the next we search a lot. I guess when we have a lot of lessons we get a little lax on contacting and finding. Something to work on there. 

We are continuing to work with Juan Carlos and with his not-wife more. We had a good lesson on Friday, I think, where he kind of opened up. He said he didn´t understand too much when we have read together, which is a valid point. We said that as he reads he will understand more and that of course we are always happy to answer questions and help to understand. He talked about how he wants to repent basically, to stop falling in mistakes and we told him that this was the way, little by little, reading, praying and going to church. I´ve felt like such a broken record this week, read, pray, go to church, over and over and over. But that is what people have to do to progress, to get a testimony and to make changes in their lives. Sometimes it´s frustrating when they just don´t do it. We taught Beto this week. His wife is a member and he has met with the missionaries for about a year already, but we found out this week that he has never read in the Book of Mormon and that he hardly prays, so we basically have to treat him like a new investigator, even though we were planning on setting a baptismal date with him. It´s a bit sad. 

We haven´t seen Rania this week, so I´m not really sure how she´s doing. Thank you for your prayers for her though. I know it will help.

We still live the 4 elders together. It gets a little crowded sometimes, mostly in the kitchen. I´m not district leader anymore but with live with him. Actually I haven´t been DL for a couple transfers. 

School still hasn´t started here, but people are starting to come back from vacations, so that´s good. Attendance in church has been going up the past couple of weeks. 

Well, can´t think of anything else for this week. I hope everyone is doing well and you get back in the habit of school quickly. You´ll have to let me know how your classes go. Take care everyone! I love you all! Thanks for everything!

Elder Cousins

Monday, August 19, 2013

August 19, 2013

Hello Family!

Wow we had such an amazing week! Where to start? First of all we finally moved into our new piso which is wonderful! The old one was awful. The new one is a little smaller, but it´s clean! I´m happy. The moving and cleaning and everything took up some time which is too bad, but on Wednesday I had one of the coolest experiences in my mission. 

In our ward we have quite a few Filipino families. On Wednesday they had a big picnic in Retiro Park and invited us, saying that they were going to invite investigators as well. So we went, we ate a bunch of Filipino food, and we met the coolest family ever! We met Merci and her husband and their son and a cousin, Emily, who also lives with them. They are so prepared for the gospel! We talked with Merci and Emily for awhile after eating, and Merci talked about how she is looking for a church to help her sons grow up to be good people (she has 3 others in the Philippines still) and that as far as she can tell this is the right one. Wow. When everyone was finished eating we shared a short message. We read the first 11 verses of 3 Nephi 11, in English (Nearly all of them speak English better than Spanish), the part where Christ appears to the Nephites and they all see and feel the marks in His hands and side. It was such an amazing experience. We were sitting there on the grass with about 30 people in a circle in front of us. After reading we bore testimony and asked if anyone there would like to share as well. One by one about 5 or 6 members all bore their testimonies of the gospel, in Tagalog. I didn´t understand what they were saying, but the Spirit was so strong. Even Merci the investigator spoke for a minute, and her friend that brought her was one of those that bore testimony. It was such an incredible experience! We met with this family one other time this week and yesterday all four of them came to church for almost the entire 3 hours. They are so golden! Oh, and they are married. Friday was their 22 anniversary. We are so blessed! 

We are also teaching another family, Juan Carlos and his wife. They are from Bolivia and, sadly, not married, but we´ll get to that. We have taught Juan Carlos more than his wife, and he is super good. We taught the Restoration and he understands perfectly about authority and how important it is. He even said that if the Pope doesn´t have that authority, why is he in that position. He said he thinks that the Pope is chosen by men, not God. So he is very interested in the idea that we have a prophet called of God. 

We are also teaching a lady from Syria. She is a troubled woman. She believes in God, but expects more of Him. She can´t see His hand in her life, with good reason. Her country is torn apart by war, her family is in constant danger, and she can´t return to them or help them out. She tells us horrible stories about the way people are killed everyday there. Meanwhile she lives here alone, working constantly. She says she needs relief, but her faith has been diminished by all that has happened to her. Its hard to teach her, but I think little by little we will be able to help her find hope again. I honestly don´t know if I would be able to keep my faith in such a situation. How do you hold on to hope? To a belief in a God who loves us and promises to bless us? It´s really opened my eyes talking with her. It´s hard. I really hope she accepts our invitations and begins to grow that faith again. More than anyone I´ve taught, I think she needs it. 

Beto has been gone on vacation so we haven´t taught him, but Bastilio is doing well. The trouble is his work. We can only meet once a week, but he is doing great. He understands the lessons so well and has faith like a child. He believes everything we tell him and says that it feels right. He says he´s not totally sure yet, but he wants to know. I´m really excited for him.

Madrid has 3 stakes in it. We do go to stake conference as well, like regular church. People are finally starting to get back from vacations, our attendance went up this week, but it´s still rough. 

Well, I think that´s all for this week. I want you all to know how much I love you. Thank you so much for your prayers and support. I know that none of the miracles we are seeing here are because of me. I´m grateful for everything you do for me. Thank you!

Take care! Love,

Elder Cousins

Monday, August 12, 2013

August 12, 2013

Dear Family,

Hello again. How´s it going? We had a bit of a harder week this week. We had a lot of trouble this week with investigators not showing up to lessons. It happened a lot this week, I don´t know why. After awhile it just gets frustrating. We put in effort to plan and work around their schedule and then they just leave us there waiting and don´t answer their phone. It´s irritating. But it´s OK, this week will be better. We´re going to focus on calling people before to confirm, and on making backup plans. I´ve never really made backup plans, just contacting, but I think it´s something we need to put in practice here. 

Our other big challenge from the week was just that everyone is gone! It is August after all. At least half the people we are teaching left this week for vacation. Which leaves us with not enough to do. So we have been out in the streets as well. But a lot of the people we talk to say they are leaving too. It´s crazy! We can´t figure out how the country runs without any people! It´s all good though, we have found some new people and we are also spending time getting to know the members as well, which will bring fruit in the future. 

Last Monday a family of investigators from B6 invited us over to eat. I don´t know if you remember me writing about Eduardo and Paola back when I was with Berthon? We went and saw them and Daniela who I baptized. It was cool to see them again, but unfortunately they haven´t made much progress. Eduardo is going to church almost every week now, which is awesome, but they still aren´t married or as far as I can tell thinking about it. They will have their time, though. 

We met with Bastilio on Wednesday and taught him part of the first lesson. He seemed to like it and to understand pretty well. The problem is he works all day long during the week, so it´s hard to find time to meet with him, so his progress may be slow, but he can come to church on Sunday, which is awesome.  

We also met with Beto finally. He is super good! He´s been meeting with the missionaries for a year or more. His wife is a member of nearly her whole life. He is so close to baptism. We tried to commit him, but he says he still doesn´t feel prepared. I think he knows it´s true, but he is afraid of making the change or of the commitment it brings. We are going to keep working with him, and I know we´ll baptize him. Unfortunately he also left on vacation, so more waiting. 

So we´ve had a week of mixed emotions. Lots of "this was good, but there´s this. . ." We certainly have our share of both blessings and challenges. Which is good. That´s life. I´m really excited to work with the people we have here and see what I can accomplish in this area. I need to step it up a bit now, but it´s going to be good.

Friday was my companion´s birthday. Happy Birthday, Elder Kinghorn! His parents gave him some money and told him to take the four of us out to lunch. He decided he wanted to go do tapas, so we headed into the center, which is part of our area. We walked around for a while and ended up in Plaza Mayor. (Side fact: Dad, do you remember that movie Vantage Point? I didn´t realize before but it was filmed in Plaza Mayor) We sat down at a table outside right there in Plaza Mayor with shade and little mist sprayers and everything. It was nice. We got tapas like planned. We got: a big plate of jamon iberico (jamon serrano, but better), queso manchego (sheep cheese, which I love), pulpo a la gallego (octopus, gallician style), gambas en ajillo (shrimp with garlic sauce) and the classic tortilla espaƱola. It was incredible. I have tried almost all of those before (not the octopus), but these were the highest quality I´ve ever had. And the octopus was amazing! It was all soooooo good! And we payed for it, as you´ve probably guessed. When we had cleaned all five plates we decided to ask the waiter how much we were at and maybe get more if it wasn´t too high. He came over, figured it all up and said "You´re at 100 euros right now." Yeah, so we stopped there. Basically we all owe Elder Kinghorn´s parents some money. But it was super good. We´re planning on going to the oldest restaurant in the world next. It´s about 40 euros a person there. I´ll let you know how it goes. 

Well I better go. We´re planning on heading out to Toledo today. None the other 3 have been there yet and they are pretty excited, so I´ll be playing tour guide today I think. That PIN is just in time, I think I´m actually going to buy something today. We´ll see. Oh, before I go, can you send me Bekah´s email so I can write too? And if you could forward this one that´d be great. I can´t believe she´s all the way on the other side of the States! She is going to absolutely love it there though, I can tell. I´m totally excited for her! That campus looks amazing and just what she loves. Saludos a todos! I love you all! See you next week! 

Elder Cousins

Monday, August 5, 2013

August 5, 2013

Hello family! 

Wow, it´s been quite the week! Where to begin? So on Monday we ate with Maria and Marcos (Markito´s family) as a goodbye and then we drove down to B5 and dropped me off. I once again moved into a totally nasty piso (I´m pretty sure every piso in the mission is disgusting), but we´re supposed to moving soon so it´s OK. We´ve already cleaned it up a lot. I met my new companion, Elder Kinghorn, who is super cool! He has 3 transfers in the mission, so about 4 and half months. It´s the first time I´ve had a companion younger than me. So far it´s going really well. He has desires to work, and I really want to be a good influence on him and help him make the most of his mission. So far we get along really well! The only problem is that he went to Lone Peak, but I´m exercising my charity, and I think we´ll still be able to friends. :) 

On Monday we meet Wilmer, my first investigator here. He is from Colombia and he´s super cool! He´s 22, and he actually knows some about the church because of a member girl he used to date. He has his doubts and he feels like the church is too restrictive, but we have been meeting with him a lot this last week and he has a ton of potential. We have just been inviting him to experiment for himself, to do simple things like read and pray, and he´ll come to know for himself. It´s been going really well. He has a ton of potential! 

We´ve also been spending a lot of time in the streets looking for people to teach. It´s a lot different contacting here than in my other areas. We are right in the heart of Madrid, and we cover a huge area! (Sol is in our area! It was really weird walking through there on not a P-day) There are a ton of people here! But a lot of the references we receive live outside our area, so it´s hard to know where to contact and work. But I feel like people are more receptive here than in other areas I´ve served in, so we will definitely find a lot of work. I´m really excited to be here, to get things going more and to get to know the area and the people here. It´s so nice to back on the streets!

On Thursday we met with a reference from a different area, Bastililo. He is a Chinese man in his 20s who seems very interested. We had a short lesson with him and taught a little of the first lesson, just the nature of God. It was so interesting to teach someone who has no Christian background at all. We asked him who he thought God was and he said, "like a spirit." He seemed really surprised when we told him God was a person, with a body like us. It´s so cool to teach someone from the very beginning, in the most basic way. He said the coolest thing at the end of the lesson when we asked what his expectations are. He said, "I think believing in God will make me a better person." Wow. What a simple, pure reason to get to know God. Isn´t that really why we are all part of the Church? I was so struck by that and so happy that he already understands that. He is looking in the right place. We also met a girl from Nicaragua and had a really good first lesson with her, but I´m a little worried she´s just interested spending time with a couple of young American men. :P Awkward. . . 

Other than that lots of looking. Yesterday we set up lessons with a bunch of members for this week, so we´ll start working with them a lot more, which should help us find more people and have more trust with the ward. I was really surprised by the size of the ward. In an area with so many people you´d think it´d be one of the biggest wards, but it´s the smallest I´ve served in. There were about 70 or 80 people in church on Sunday. 

Well that´s about all the news for the week. Oh, except one other thing! I reached my one year mark on Thursday! How weird is that? I really can´t believe it´s been a year. I was talking with some other guys in my group and they were saying it´s all downward from here. I freaked out a little hearing that. I don´t want it to be over that fast! I´m just going to have to make the most this year because I know it will go way faster than the last one.

Thanks for keeping me updated with everything that´s going on at home. Good luck Bekah! Send me photos!  Send Tiff my congrats and tell her that she will be awesome! 

Well I better go. I love you all so, so, so, so, so much. Like really. A lot. :) Take care! Love you!

Elder Cousins