Monday, September 23, 2013

September 23, 2013

Family! Hello!

Well, I´m going to try something different today and respond to everything you wrote me first and then go on the news of the week. 

The new piso is pretty sweet. It´s much more spacious. I honestly don´t remember now how many times I have moved in the mission, plus it all gets mixed up with how many times I moved other people while I was in the office. And yes we did just move about a month ago, but it was necessary to do again. Yeah, I just forgot to send you the new address last week. I´ll put it here just in case you want to send any sort of house warming correspondence (I am on my last stick of deodorant).

C/ Bravo Murillo 43, 4A Madrid 28010 ( C/ means Calle)

The weather here is starting to cool down a little as well, although it was pretty hot today. I´m not looking forward to winter, but everyone says fall is very nice. I don´t really remember it from last year. Have you been doing a lot of trail running, Dad? I want to try that when I get back. My companion has me running sometimes in the morning, and I´d like to get better when I get back. 

School seems to be going well for everyone. I´m glad Sarah is getting really involved in the theater stuff. Good luck to her on her audition. How did the dance go? Did she have fun? I´m sure it´s worse for you, but it´s really, really weird seeing those pictures. Is she old enough to go to dances? Are you sure? She does look "guapísima" though :) 

I love the pictures of Erin playing soccer! That´s so awesome that she´s back to playing a bunch. I´ve rediscovered my love for it in playing here. It really is the beautiful game. I like their uniforms too, very classy. What´s with "Domo" though? Also, those are some sharp cleats you got, Erin. I like. 
I´m glad Bekah is doing well too, even though she has to deal with freshman. It´s OK, nobody likes freshman. 

If you could pass me Cyrus´s email address, I´d love to drop him a line. Maybe I can give him a little "animo."

Just a random little insert here. I love Spanish. Like I really love it. I want to get so much better at it and I want to be able to keep speaking it after the mission too. Sometimes I feel like I can actually express myself better, or understand things better, in Spanish. Weird, huh? And let´s be honest, it´s way prettier than English is. 

Bale! We did hear about him. I remember thinking that Mom would think that was cool because he´s Welsh. We saw on the TVs in the metro that he got bought by Madrid. For 90 million Euros. I believe it was the most expensive, holy cow! And yes, they do need both Ronaldo and Bale, because they need to be the best. Fact. (Funny story, Bale in Spanish would be pronounced exactly the same as "vale" which is a Spanish word that means "ok." So we were making jokes about what his cheers would be like. All of Santiago Bernabeu just nodding and saying "vale.")

Hey thank you honestly for keeping me updated on what´s going on at home. I know sometimes I don´t respond too much, but I really do love to hear about what everyone is doing. 

Well, news from this side of the world. This morning we went to the Royal Palace right here in our area, the center of Madrid. But today we went in it! (And I saved 5 euros by using my student card, so thank you so much for sending it!) It was really quite cool. Impressive is the word, actually. It is the largest palace in Europe and it´s amazing inside. Everything is just super rich. All the ceilings are painted beautifully, like Sistine Chapel type stuff. There is a room where the walls and ceiling are covered in carved vines and animals and one where the whole room, but seriously the whole room, is covered in porcelain. It was amazing. Especially impressive were the throne room and the grand dining room. The throne room just took everything up a notch. The whole room, walls included, is covered in deep red carpet, like velvet it seems like. There are gold lions everywhere and two huge chandeliers. The dining room is just massive. A huge, long table, all set with like a million forks and glasses and plates. It was really cool! Unfortunately you can´t take pictures inside. We´ll have to go see it together when you come to pick me up.

As for missionary work, we have had a pretty awesome week. We jumped up in lessons, especially with members present, and the coolest part is that we had at least 3 lessons with members' friends that they set up--all new investigators, too. I´ve always wanted to have lessons in members' homes with members' friends and at the start of this transfer I set the goal to do so and last week we had 3. And we have 3 other members who have told us about specific people they are working with and who they are going to invite to meet with us. Super cool. This is how missionary work should be done. 

So we´ve found some really cool investigators that way. And then there´s Mayte. We found Mayte last Sunday knocking doors and it was obvious she was good right then. We met for the first time on Thursday and taught one of the most amazing first lessons ever, all thanks to her. She is only 14 years old, but she absolutely loves learning about God. She has gone to many churches before, even been baptized in one, but became disillusioned with it and stopped going. She has really been looking for the truth and she recognized it when she heard it. She said after the first lesson, The Restoration, that it answered a bunch of questions and doubts she has always had. We gave a Book of Mormon and she was so happy! She said "I´ll read it everyday" before we invited her. By Saturday she had read through 1 Nephi 9, including the introduction, the witnesses and Joseph Smith´s testimony. Wow. We also got to see the other key part that members play in that lesson. We invited the Young Women´s president to be in that first lesson and it was perfect! She explained what young women´s was before we taught and invited her to the activity they had the next day. Then she went by to pick her up the next day and take her to the activity! Take about support from the ward. Mayte now knows all the young women in the ward and had a blast going out for an activity with them. The young women´s president also bore her testimony and helped teach a bunch in the lesson and said something really cool that I hadn´t thought of, that Joseph Smith was also 14 when he was looking for the truth. It was a miracle lesson and Mayte  is a miracle herself. I´m so excited for her!

Sadly, Merci and her family didn´t come to church, and when we called they were very nice but said that they are so busy and don´t know their schedules so we can´t come by still. But we passed by their building and even though they weren´t there we knocked the building and got 7 references. Best of all, we found a South American family who has met with the missionaries before and who were really interested, right across the hall from Merci´s door. I get the feeling that maybe the Lord really wanted us to find this family, that maybe it´s not time right now for Merci´s family, and we were really being lead to this other family. Who knows? 

Well, I am out of time, I´m sure there are other things from the week and I´m sorry I don´t have time to write them all, but just know that things are going great here. B5 is growing a ton and there is a ton of work here. The Lord is blessing us and we will see success and baptisms here. The members are the key to missionary work and the Lord prepares His children to hear. I know it. I love all of you and am more grateful to you than I can ever say. I pray for you all the time and hope you are always safe and happy. Take care, until next week.
Elder Cousins 

Monday, September 16, 2013

September 16, 2013


Greetings once again from Madrid, the greatest city ever! I really am in love with Madrid.

So this week has been . . . interesting. Let´s begin with the good news.

We found a new piso this week and moved in just this morning. It´s pretty nice, quite a bit larger than the last one we were in and it´s just the 2 of us now, which will be good. It´ll be easier to focus and be obedient with just 2. We also just spent 116 euros between the 2 of us on new stuff for it (not such good news). 

Another cool thing from this week is that Elder Ballard (like of the 12 Apostles) came and visited us. He was here for some meeting or other, and he took time to have a short meeting with the missionaries of Madrid. So after getting up at 5:30 (blech) we were back in Pavones at 8 in the morning for a 1 hour meeting. We all got to shake Elder Ballard´s hand (super cool!) and listen to him speak for about 20 minutes (there were also a couple of seventies who spoke). It was really cool to be right there in the room with him and listen to a talk directly for us. He talked a lot about how desire is the key to success. It was a cool experience.

We did a noche de hogar (family home evening) with a member on Friday. Arthur showed up, the Filipino who was passed to us by another ward about 2 months ago and whom we had not meet before. So that was cool, but I´m afraid he was mostly there to talk with the member about trying to find work. But during the lesson he bore his testimony, and it´s obvious that he really likes the church and has a testimony. There was also a family there that the member invited. That was super cool, that is want I want to focus on here, lessons with member´s friends in member´s houses. That is how missionary work should be done and how it will increase in speed and success. Unfortunately the family lives outside of our area, but I got to pass them over to Elder Levorsen when I saw him again at the Elder Ballard meeting. We actually have quite a few members here who we are starting to work with. They have all named a specific person and committed to talk with that person and invite them to meet with us. It´s super cool! Hopefully this week we´ll get to meet some of these friends. 

Well, on to the bad news. So, about those baptisms. . . yeah, they´re gone. We have none now. Merci and her family sent us a text saying that they had decided not to be baptized, that they have always been Catholics and maybe always will be. They said thanks for everything we taught and that was that. They haven´t answered our calls and they were out of town this weekend. But there is a bit of hope. The member who referred them said that they just felt really pressured by us and they might be willing to meet just once a week with us. So I´m not sure exactly what to think. We may just leave them alone this week and see if they come to church next week and go from there. I can´t understand why they would just suddenly drop us when they have been progressing so well, so I´m afraid something might have happened, or else it´s just like the member says and they just need some breathing room. We´re praying a lot and we´ll see what happens. 

Bastilio unfortunately is gone too, but he just moved so he should still be baptized. We texted him to remind him to come to church and he said, "I found work in Valencia and I´m on my way there right now." So that´s that. But he was super nice and I know he´ll make it to baptism one way or another, he is too golden not to. It´s just too bad we won´t be able to see it. 

Well, I think that´s about all the news for this week. We´ve begun putting our goals first and then planning and also making backup plans for everything this past week, and it´s cool to see what we can do. I´ve realized that I could be working a lot more efficiently and that I could push myself a lot more. It´s good stuff. 

Thanks so much for writing me and keeping me updated. I love hearing from you guys even though I don´t get to respond to it all. Mostly I´m happy to know that you are all safe and happy. Que sigan así. Les quiero mucho a todos!! Have a great week!!

Elder Cousins

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 9, 2013

Dear Everyone reading this,

I hope you all had a wonderful week and didn´t miss me too much ;) 

I´m going to be reflective for a termini to start things out, so bear with me here. It´s incredible how quickly we forget the blessings and goodness of the Lord when we go through hard times. We´ve had a couple of slow weeks, but this week (yesterday mostly) the blessings and miracles came again. Just like they always do. Like you said, Dad, the mission goes in cycles. I feel a little silly really, that I got down and upset. I know that things always get better afterwords, they always have. I guess that´s why the scriptures talk so much about remembering. Also, don´t ever compare yourself to others. Words of wisdom.

So, now the good news right? Well, yesterday we invited 4 of our investigators to be baptized and set dates with each of them! We were finally able to meet with Merci and almost all her family again after church on Sunday (her husband had work). We had been without contact with them for awhile, but Saturday night we passed by and talked for awhile in the doorway (no man at home), and they said they were going to come to church. So after church we met with them for about half an hour and talked about baptism. Both Merci and Emelda (Emily) said that they aren´t 100% sure this is the right church for them, but that when they know they will without a doubt be baptized. We told them that we had been talking and praying and we know that they can know by the 28th of September if they continue reading, praying and going to church. They were a little hesitant, but they agreed to prepare themselves to baptized that day. They we talked with Jourdes, the son (he doesn´t speak much English). We explained that we were talking about baptism, explained what it was and asked him if he would like to be baptized. He thought about it for a minute and then said yes. His mom, a little bit worried, said are you sure? He said yes. He is super great, he loves primary, reads the Book of Mormon and has even said he wants to be a missionary. I so excited for their family! The only thing now is to pray like crazy that they will receive a sure testimony, that they will prepare themselves. We are also praying a lot for Merci´s husband, Corlet. He can´t come to church now because of his work, but he may be changing schedules soon, so we are praying that he will have Sundays off, or that in some way he´ll be able to come to church with his family. Right now he has Tuesdays off, so we should see him then and find out more. 

Well, I did say four. The fourth date we placed yesterday was with Bastilio, our Chinese investigator. He is the best! He is super prepared! He is now praying everyday (he told us with a big smile) which is so amazing for someone who has never had any religion before. And he told us about a miracle that happened too. He said that the night before he had a dream. He dreamed he saw the apostles and that they baptized him. Afterward 3 men put their hands on his head. And we hadn´t taught about confirmation yet. It was amazing! So we taught the 5 steps of the Gospel and invited him to be baptized. We explained that the dream he had came from God that it was an answer to his prayers. He said that he believes this church is true and that he wants to be baptized. So we invited him to be baptized the 12th of October (we only meet with him once a week so we´ll need some time to teach, other than that he could be baptized now). He said that was a little soon, but we promised him that he could be ready by that day and invited him to pray about it. He said he would. He is so great! I´m amazed by the simple faith he has, and by how much he wants to follow God. He never knew hardly anything about God or Jesus Christ before meeting with us, but last night he said he wanted to follow Jesus. It´s amazing to see his faith growing. 

Another highlight from the week is that we met with Miriam, the Filipino lady who introduced us to Merci and her family. And she told us she has another family she wants us to meet. Friday we are going to do a noche de hogar in her house and she is going to invite this family. She is an amazing member. She told us about how she loves to tell people about her church and how she always has a Book of Mormon with her to give away. She is an amazing example! She understands her responsibility of missionary work better than any other member I´ve met. If all members were like her the church would progress at an incredible rate. The members are the key in missionary work. I´m learning that again and again. They determine, much more than the missionaries, the success of the work in their area. This work can´t be done without the help of the members. We are going to try to work much more closely with the members here. I know we´ll see a difference in the work by doing so, even though it will be a huge challenge. 

Other good news, we found a new piso! Elder Kinghorn and I will be moving out soon since we are all supposed to have our own piso. I´m excited, it´s in a super good location for us and I know we´ll be able to focus better being on our own. Maybe I´ll pass you the address for this one. That about covers the news, I believe.

Sounds like you enjoyed Labor Day. Grilled chicken... mmmm. I´ve actually been eating a lot better lately, Elder Kinghorn likes to cook a lot and knows some stuff so we´ve been sharing food and making some good stuff. We made an AMAZING pizza using Mom´s dough recipe this week. Super good. 

I actually had no idea I´d been anywhere involving Church history. That would be a lot of fun though. Road trip!

Tell Erin I´m so proud of her! 2 goals in one game is awesome! I´m really glad she is liking her new team and that it´s a better environment for her. Being able to build confidence is so important at her age. We´ve been playing some football lately too. Every Saturday we go play in the morning with members and investigators and I do believe I´m getting better. This last Saturday I was playing up front the whole time with Hermana Caballero, a Spanish (so naturally good) sister in our ward and we had some sweet plays up there. I need to work on aiming my shots better though, I only got one in, but several assists. Speaking of sports, I´m a little bummed that Madrid lost the Olympic bid. We´ve been following it through the TVs in the Metro and we were kinda sad yesterday that we lost. Oh, well. 2024.

Thanks for your encouragement. It is super important to learn from our mistakes and to love people. I feel like I´ve been in a bit of a rut and I need to get back up and work a lot more at being a better missionary. We had a really good zone mtg this week where the sister training leaders (one of whom is Hna Caballero) shared a super powerful message about how incredibly important having the spirit is and how incredibly important it is to love our investigators. It really hit home with me and I really want to work hard on improving in those 2 things. I feel like I used be better at it and I just need to remember how. Again, remember! It looks like we´ve come full circle. And that´s a good place to end for this week. Thank you, though, for your encouragement and support. I have appreciated so much your words and stories that you and Mom have shared with me throughout my mission. It makes a huge difference to me. Thank you. I love you all so much! Please pray for the people we are teaching, as you always do. I know it helps. I love you. Be safe. Until next week.

Elder Cousins

Monday, September 2, 2013

September 2, 2013

Hello again.

Well, where to begin this week? It´s been a walking-a-lot, looking-a-lot, not-very-many-lessons kind of a week. Actually we´ve been in the street A LOT. Not sure why we can´t get lessons with anyone, but that´s that. Juan Carlos got called for some work and has been working a ton all week so we haven´t met with him and he hasn´t read or come to church. Merci and her family are doing well but they couldn´t come to church this week because they had to pick up or drop off a relative at the airport or something. Also, we´ve only managed to meet with them once this week, but it was a really good lesson. We taught the plan of salvation and the spirit was really strong. You could tell it had an effect on them, especially Merci. She said she has always wanted to know that, but no church has ever been able to tell her. It was a powerful lesson. Next time we see them we are going to talk about baptism again and set a date with them, the 28th is the plan. 

We met with Beto this week, but he didn´t read. We were going to set a date with him, but I feel like he´s still missing the drive or the desires to be baptized, or else he is afraid. Either way we had a good, strong lesson with him and he was in church on Sunday. He should get baptized before the end of the transfer, it may just take a little longer than we wanted. 

Bad news with Rania. We haven´t seen her for a week or more. Saturday night we finally got in touch with her and I asked when we might be able to meet again. She talked about everything going on in her life and how God should help her, how she deserves it. And then she said that she didn´t think that talking would help anymore. I tried to tell her that I know that our message can help her find the peace that she needs so badly, but as soon as I started talking she hung up. I´m afraid she´s gone. I wouldn´t feel so bad about it (obviously I feel sad, especially since she needed it so badly), but I feel like it´s at least partly my fault. I feel like we didn´t teach her what she needs. I think I focused too much on how she only looks at the bad in her life, the pride she has in thinking the Lord should do everything for her. I should have loved her more and focused on the good in her, on how we can help her be free of all that hate and pain. I feel like I failed. 

The highlight of the week was the activity we did Saturday night. We decorated a room in the church as a plane and all of the guests were the passengers. We had flight attendants and a pilot speaking through a microphone and everything. They watched as the "in-flight movie" a Mormon message about how men´s hearts shall fail them when faced with death. The Apostle in the video talks about how he felt no fear when faced with death because he knows what will happen afterword. When the movie was over we faked that the airplane crashed. The pilot came out all dressed in white and announced that everyone on the plane had died and that now they would be shown to the next life. Downstairs we had 3 different rooms decorated as the 3 different kingdoms of glory. We set up the lights and decorations so that there was a big difference between each and so that the Celestial was obviously the best. There was a companionship in each room to explain what it was and what type of people go there. They passed through each of the rooms ending in the celestial kingdom. It was the brightest of all and in the middle was a family of 4 all dressed in white. After a moment of "celestial" music, the hermanas came out and presented the celestial kingdom and then bore powerful testimony. They talked with the family about what they did to arrive there and how they felt being there together. Then they bore their testimonies that each of us can get there and that should be the goal for all of us. It was really powerful for me. I don´t know why but in that moment it felt so much more real. Hna. Cabellero talked about how one day she will have her own family and how that will be their goal. I felt like never before that it was really possible and that was really where I wanted to go, with my own wife and kids. They talked about looking at where you are now and where you are headed and then making the changes necessary. I want to always remember that. At the end we all knelt and prayed and the spirit was so powerful. We all got a little emotional, even the family sitting up front. Afterwords an investigator of the other elders was just sitting on the floor crying. He said that it really impacted him and that he knows he just needs to repent and get on the right path. He said he is so glad he is getting baptized. Several members said it really made them think too. It turned it so good! It was a really spiritual experience even for me. 

Oh, if you were wondering about transfers I´m staying with Elder Kinghorn which is awesome! We have to get some baptisms before he goes. All of us in the ward are staying and they are adding 2 more hermanas. 

Well, I better get going. Time to buy food! I love you guys so so soo much! I miss you too. Thank you so much for all you do. Thank you especially for your prayer for our investigators. They need it and I know it helps. Take care everyone. Until next week! 

PS If you see Brother Killpack or Brother Smith, please tell them thank you so much for the letters!