Monday, October 27, 2014

New Life

Dear Friends and Family,

My new companion has been out for 5 transfers, working on his 6th. His name is Elder Leftwich. He is from Colorado and went to BYU for two semesters. We were there for the same fall semester but he lived off campus so I never met him there. He is my district leader as well as my companion. The other two in my apartment are on transfer 16 and transfer 8. They are great guys. 

So I got transferred to a new area and I have a completely different apartment and everything. On the day of transfers I got on a train, rode one stop, and dragged my bags up a massive hill to the new apartment. I walked into the apartment and was greeted by stuff everywhere and just all around messy. It was pretty bad. I didn't even unpack, I just started cleaning and cleaning and cleaning. Luckily my new companion helped me clean the apartment. That was good!  So that is how my first transfer went. Now the apartment is beautiful, but I don't want to see anything like that ever again. 

So Elder Leftwich and I have been sent to an area that has actually been struggling a lot. Up until last transfer it was in the same district as the other Machida district. But they were split from us last transfer when they got another Elders companion set. So Machida had two districts of six last transfer and now there are two districts of 8 missionaries. Their key indicators are crazy low last transfer and nobody really knows why. A couple of the people from the district were transferred away and four new missionaries were brought in, creating another companionship. We are going to try and breathe some new life into the district and the ward and see if we can't help the Lord in his work in Machida! 

So far we have certainly been blessed with success out here. We already have a new investigator who we found yesterday and are meeting him again today. Yesterday we gave out two Book of Mormons! It was awesome! The funny thing is, we spent four hours dendoing hard core to try and find some people interested with not much luck. Then a little later we had some extra time between finishing district leader duties and a zone conference call, so we went out and found four incredibly prepared people! It was interesting. We had to put in time to show the Lord that He could bless us with some success. He had to see our desire to bring people to Him before putting them in our path. It was really great--great lesson. Anyways, I need to go! Love you all!

Siebach 長老

Monday, October 20, 2014

Intra Machida Transfer!

Dear Family and Friends,

I'm getting transferred! I have to be in my new area by tomorrow. The area is called...wait for it...Machida! Machida 2 to be exact. So I'm in the area right next to my old one. It will be strange because I will be in the same church building and I'll often see the same people, but I will be in a different ward. My companion Elder Leftwich and I will be opening a new elders companionship. This is exactly what I did in my first area and I'm not gonna lie, it was pretty rough in the beginning. We hardly got to teach any lessons and we spent all of our time finding. It was hard to feel like I was accomplishing my purpose! Still, I'm pretty excited for the change.

This last transfer we have been able to see our work pay off a lot. Right now we have three progressing investigators. They seem to be interested in our message and they are keeping their commitments! I am excited to be able to stay close enough to watch them progress. Maybe I will see one of them get baptized! That would be wonderful to see!

We got to see some miracles this week. We actually had three investigators at church and four at an activity last night. We went to a place called Hachioji and listened to President Wada talk about the atonement and charity. It was great and all of our investigators had defining moments. I'll try to send another email tomorrow morning from my new area. Sorry I don't have tons of time right now. 

Love you guys!
Elder Siebach

Monday, October 13, 2014

General Conference!

Hello again everybody! I hope you're all doing well! I am doing very well actually! We got to watch general conference this past weekend which was an incredible experience. I love the words of guidance that we get to receive from the prophets. It is always so applicable. I only wish that I appreciated general conference more when I was younger! 

We also got to see some miracles this week! We gave a Book of Mormon to an investigator about two weeks ago and he finished it last Wednesday. When he showed to us it was all marked up and highlighted. I was so excited to see that! instead of blowing right through the book as fast as he could, he read for understanding and with purpose. When we asked him what he's learned, he immediately started talking about faith and how important it is. We were blown away because that was exactly what he had planned to talk about with him. He then came to both sessions of general conference on Sunday. We will be following up on that later this week. He's a great guy and he is practically teaching himself. I hope I get to see him baptized and maybe, someday before I leave, see him go through the temple! 

Another fun time was at dinner on Thursday night. We invited one of our potential investigators to go get some dinner together. During dinner we talked about normal and religious things and he showed some interest in the plan of salvation (we actually got onto that subject by talking about names and their origins. Elder Sawyer's name is Michael and so we mentioned that he was named after a very important angel. Then one thing led to another and YA!). So we got to share a pretty in-depth message about the plan of salvation. It was a great lesson and it was so powerful as we all felt the spirit as we testified of these wonderful truths.

In all it was a great week! Sorry I have hardly any time! Love you all!
Siebach 長老

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Typhoon That Wasn' Tokyo

Man, what a disappointing little rainstorm! I was so excited for some crazy wind and rain to rip through Machida, throwing cars and bikes around, shattering windows, snapping trees, but I watched from the warm comfort of my apartment, as the disappointing sprinkle brushed lightly against the window. The sad excuse for a hurricane could not have stood up to some of the torrential Texas deluges that I have witnessed. O typhoon, where is thy sting? O whirlwind, where is thy victory? There was none!..... Until I rode my bike for a little while and noticed that it was pretty humid! More humid than it has been for days! I guess that's what I get for making fun:)

This week was pretty great! I have seen a lot of great miracles. One of them is that the guy that I told you about last week, the one we gave a church tour to, is over 200 pages deep into the Book of Mormon! That puts him around the beginning of Mosiah (a Japanese Book of Mormon has about 750 pages). He really likes it! Which is great! Another thing is that he and a friend came to church yesterday! The greatest miracle of all is that we taught a lesson with our investigator right after church. We had a couple members attend the lesson too and it was an amazing experience! One of the members hasn't been to church in quite awhile, but he was there that Sunday and shared a great testimony of the Book of Mormon and about prayer. He talked about how we receive help in our lives when we read and pray and go to church. I am so grateful that he was able to recall his testimony about this simple truth. I think he will be coming to church more often now. I could tell that all five of us were feeling the spirit very strongly the entire time. That lesson was definitely a defining moment for the investigator and the less active member. It really strengthened my testimony as well that the more we share our beliefs with others, the stronger they become and we remember what we know and believe. That's what happened to our less active friend. He remembers what he has learned, known, and felt.

Another miracle happened with an investigator that we kind of share with the other elders in our area. He is 82 years old and has lost a lot of control over his mind. He can't maintain a line of conversation or thought for very long. Whenever we meet with him there are often 3 or 4 running conversations he switches between. It is mentally exhausting to keep up with him and even harder to teach him. So we met with him on Friday and talked to him for awhile. Here are the conversation topics we discussed: 1) a sword he thinks is cursed, 2) bullet trains
and their 50 year anniversary, 3) an eagle he saw 48 years ago that was so big it blew his mind, 4) his gall bladder, and 5) my future wedding and the speech he wants to make there. It was difficult to keep all of them straight! We finally managed to steer the conversation mainly to his gall bladder. He may need to have it removed, but he doesn't know if he should have this "very dangerous surgical procedure". He actually has a very deep feeling of unease and fear about it. After talking about it for awhile, we finally asked him if he wanted to pray about it. That stopped him right in his tracks. He told us he had never prayed before because he didn't think God had time for him. We used this opportunity to tell him about his relationship with God and how He loves us all and has plenty of time for each one of us. We finally convinced him to allow us to pray for him. Each one of us said a prayer: one given by my companion, one by yours truly, and one by our friend. By the time we were done the Spirit of the Lord was so strong in the room and I could see that the cloud of thought that had surrounded his mind had left. He was focused on the message we were sharing and on receiving an answer to his prayer. What a powerful testimony of prayer! I love being a missionary! 

I gotta go! Love you all!
Siebach 長老

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Kendama and Other Cool Stuff...

Hello! This week was pretty good. We had a ton of appointments, plus we had temple p-day on Tuesday and then zone conference on Thursday. It was a packed week! One of the cool things that we did was give one of our investigators a church tour. He is a college student and really likes the kendama (Japanese toy consisting of a ball on a string connected to a stick with various cups on it. It is actually pretty entertaining and difficult to do.). In fact he practices for hours everyday at a park. He actually gave me one of his 40 kendama.

This is a Japanese kendama champion!

The church tour is actually a really good experience with an investigator. We start in the genkan(foyer) and explain some of the pictures that are hanging up there. Then we go into the chapel and talk about what we do there with a big focus on the sacrament and how it ties into the covenants we make. Then we take him to see the baptismal font and talk about the ordinance of baptism and the covenant that entails. We end on a picture of the Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane. We talk about the atonement and then we tie it all back to how these things help us to be happy and live with God again. It is always a really great tour and that day our investigator really felt the spirit. We gave him a Book of Mormon at the end and made an appointment to meet again. I am excited to start working with him.

I also got to talk to another investigator about temples and the blessings that we receive from them. I showed him all of my family pictures (thanks to the iPad!) and told him about eternal families and the ability everyone has to live with their families forever. In all it was a great week! The only bad thing is that I got hardly any study time. Very little time to read the scriptures. I really noticed that lack this week. Anyways, sorry I have to go! Love you!

Elder Siebach