Thursday, September 25, 2014

Another Temple P-Day

Hello family! How are you!? Sorry I forgot to tell you again that my pday would be late since we got to go to the temple! This week was pretty good and actually really busy, we didn't have a ton of dendo (proselyting) time, but in the time that we did have, we saw a lot of miracles! I will tell you about a couple of them! 

So on Friday we always have sports night at the church. We play volleyball or basketball or throw the frisbee or ping pong. It's a ton of fun, but recently we haven't had a ton of people show up. So Sawyer 長老 and I decided that, for the hour before sports night, we would go to a little sports park in the middle of downtown Machida and throw the
frisbee. We made the decision to do this during our planning session the night before and then we prayed and asked Heavenly Father to put prepared people in our path. Within five minutes of being in the park we had
contacted 6 high school seniors and in the end they made the thirty-minute walk from the park to the church for sports night. While we were there we had a ton of fun and we shared a spiritual message that piqued their interest. Now they want to come again and they want to learn about the gospel. Wow right!? 6 great young men! We will be meeting with some of them this week! That was such a cool experience! A huge miracle and something that I really needed.

Another miracle took place that same day. We planned to go to a park and write our testimonies in a few Books of Mormon. We hoped that somebody would see us and have interest in the book and then we could do what missionaries do. Well that didn't happen. Nobody was very interested, and though we got a few contacts at that park, we didn't get to give any of the books away. But later that night, at the sports night I already mentioned, some other missionaries had some investigators there and they needed a Book of Mormon to give to them. I offered the
one that I had written my testimony in. I was so happy to be prepared for that! I hope that that testimony helps the person who got it. We will see! 

Giving away a Book of Mormon at sports night

Anyways, sorry that this letter is so short! I have no more time! I love you all and I hope you're doing well!

- Siebach 長老

P.S. I have not given my approval to the new addition of the family, so tell Johanna if she wants to be truly accepted, she needs to send me a thoughtful package with lots of candy.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Trusting in the Lord

Wow!!! Sounds like a lot is happening back at home! That's so exciting! I can't believe you're getting an exchange student! Will she be able to speak English pretty well? That is so exciting! Are mom and dad polishing up their German skills? Sorry about the short letter last week. I just had no time! No need to get worried Moot! ;) I am so glad to hear that Grace had a good birthday and it seems that Spencer is doing pretty well too! I hope y'all know that I love and cherish you. I've been teaching people about families and in so doing, I get to share my thoughts and feelings towards y'all. I have really realized just how much you mean to me. I love you all and I pray for each of you every day.

During sacrament meeting last week I was praying for all of the things I was fasting for, specifically in regards to missionary work, and in that incredible moment I got this small but enveloping feeling of peace as one of my favorite scriptures came into my mind:

And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted. (Nephi 4:19)

This is the psalm of Nephi in which he expresses his frustration at his propensity to sin. It may not be the most applicable scripture as I struggle with my lack of missionary skills, especially when read quickly and without much thought, but with a little more pondering I can liken it pretty well to any situation, and then of course I can apply it.) I love this verse because it gives me a little window into the hope and faith that Nephi can has in The Lord. So many things in life can feel like hindering walls that you constantly throw yourself at, yet they never budge. Frustration right? But, as with Nephi, if I trust in The Lord I can have the faith and the hope to overcome or endure those frustrations.

Now I'm finding out that that trust is so important. It is how I can tap into a heaven-sent resilience to get me through the frustrations of missionary life:) That little personal revelation was a huge comfort to me. If I trust in The Lord and do my best to be like Him (serve, love, endure, be "meek and lowly in heart", obey...), no matter what, things will be ok. Whether it's looking for a job, trying to do
missionary work, struggling in school, etc., strength will come, along with the tools needed to endure. I have seen it work in my family's life, and I've seen it work in my friend's lives, and I've definitely seen it work in mine:)

A final photo before the Machida district got "ripped to shreds"
So this week we had transfers. In my apartment we lost our zone leader but got a new one. He is a genius named Elder Berube. Recently he has been doing work in the mission home developing apps for the iPads that we are using. He has done amazing work there and has finally been unleashed upon the real world once again. He's a great guy and I am excited to work with him. Elder Sawyer and I are still together and sometime during this transfer we will be moving to a different apartment. Right now we have 12 missionaries in Machida and next transfer we should have 16! Maybe 18! It's crazy!

We met some great people this week and got to teach a few of them. We are starting to make friends and gather potential investigators. Right now what we really need to do is figure out how to change more of them into real, progressing investigators! We need some defining moments especially
with ward members and at church! We are working on it I assure you! Today we had a ward dinner activity. It's called a "yusuzumikai," (湯涼み会) which, directly translated, means a "hot water(湯) cooling off(涼み) meeting(会)". It's a strange translation, but essentially means a ward party. It was a lot of fun! We had 6 potential investigators there and the members really reached out to them and welcomed them and took care of them. It was a wonderful thing to see. The ward members have so much fellowshipping power and when they decide to really use it, amazing things will happen!

Anyways, I gotta run! I love you all and I pray for you! Please, please, please write me! I have loved the emails! I'm sorry that I haven't been able to respond to many of them :(

- love
Siebach 長老
This is a little festival we came upon this week:

P.S. We went to Costco today! There is one in our area! It was an amazing thing! I got a slice of pizza AND a hot dog, burned through them, and had to restrain myself from running back for more. You just don't get portions like that very often here in Japan! I am now at the tightest hole on my belt and will have to poke another hole in it soon! Crazy huh!?

P.P.S. Love you Grem, love you Moot, love you Dad, love you Spencer, love you Kirsten, love you Dumdum!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Happy Birthday Grace!

Couldn't resist putting up this little gem that Sterling sent to his beloved "Grem" on her birthday :)  Enjoy!

Love these two!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Families are Forever

 Wow, this has been a good week! I finally got to teach a real lesson to a real investigator! It was amazing! You've seen a picture of him, but I'm not  really supposed to tell you his name:) I was on splits with the zone leader, elder Hadlock, when we taught him. It was a very spirit lead lesson. We were originally just going to RPLA (read ponder liken apply) a scripture about baptism with him, but it quickly jumped the tracks to a full-blown lesson on feeling and receiving revelation from the Spirit, and temples. It was really good. This man is looking and waiting for a huge answer, a huge feeling, a huge event, to tell him of the truthfulness of what he's learning. His is a desire that I can relate to. Sometimes I feel like a glutton for punishment because I always expect this crazy feeling of knowledge crashing into my brain, but it never turns out that way. Or at least it rarely turns out that way. Feeling the spirit is something that we are always doing in a very small way. In a way that we often don't realize. He just never really realizes that he is feeling the Spirit. I had a similar experience when I visited the temple while in the MTC. I think I wrote an email about it!

I feel like my love for the Japanese people has grown a lot this week. My companion and I were talking to a bunch of high schoolers yesterday when I glanced up and saw three people walking by. It was a quick look, but what I saw I can still vividly see. Two of the three were pretty messy, scary-looking people. A guy with piercings all over his face, a dark thrasher looking shirt with dark pants and dark hair. He was just a dark, scary looking guy that I would unconsciously avoid. He was probably mid to late 20s. The woman, whose hand he was holding, looked the same: kind of scary, piercings and tattoos, but I also noticed a glimmering ring on her left ring finger, the same hand that was clasping her husbands hand. Strapped to the husband's shoulders and hanging in front of his chest was one of those baby sacks, and in it was a ridiculously adorable Nihonjin baby girl, resting her head on her fathers chest, fast asleep. What a picture right? The beauty of that scene struck me. Here were these two, by typical standards, kind of unsavory people; people you wouldn't think would have their life together; people that would fit well into unsavory areas. Two people that are young, but two people that are in love, and together have a child. Wow! That is such a rare thing right? Families are scary, families are hard, families are on a downward slope. More and more people are opting out of having families. But here are these three, against great odds, ganbaru-ing it (ganbaru is a verb the means to go for it, to try your best, to hope. It sometimes takes on the connotation of a leap of faith or acting in hope). What an incredible thing! The gospel can take their uncertain lives and fill them with confidence and knowledge. The gospel can take their shaky, new, little family and turn it into a strong eternal one: a family with the potential to live together forever in pure and complete happiness. What a great thing!

We were teaching another man yesterday. He is 82 and his memory is a little shaky. He's been investigating for a long time now. Something that characterizes him is his love of photographs. He always says seeing is believing. So he puts a lot of significance in pictures and mementos and proof. It's funny because he has so much faith but he still likes that proof. So I decided to show him my family pictures (it's really easy to do because it is just on our iPads). I got to take him through 30 or so pictures from tons of different times in our lives. This was a perfect activity for him because he loves these pictures. At the end I have one of the last pictures that we have that has all five of us in it. We are standing I front of some sort of barn in the middle of Grapevine. When he saw this picture he commented on how happy we look and said that in all the pictures he saw, he noticed a genuine joy. At that moment I got to bear my testimony of temples and family and I got to tell him about eternal families. I told him that we are happy because we know that we can all be together again forever. I told him how not long after that picture was taken my brother left on his mission for two years, and then, before he got back, I left on my mission. I told him how we won't be able to all be together for about four years. That's a hard thing! I yearn to be with my family every single day. I love them so much. But it's also easy because I know that one day we will all be together again. Come what may, we will be together again, and someday we will never have to leave. We all felt the Spirit so strongly testifying of that truth. It was such an amazing feeling and I could tell that he was feeling it. Afterwards he asked me if I would print a copy of that family picture and give it to him so that he can add it to his collection. He's a good man! He posed for a picture, holding my iPad with that picture showing, that I'll send along with a couple others.

These two experiences have strengthened my testimony so much this week. I love the gospel and I love that we will be able to be together with our families forever. That is such a huge blessing. I love you all and hope you're doing well!

Siebach 長老