Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Skype!!!

This week was really awesome! I have already told you about pretty much everything up to Thursday in our Christmas Day conversation, but I will give a short overview of it for the sake of my devoted readers--haha! (love you guys *virtual fist bump*).

It all started on a cold wintery Tuesday in Fuchu.... It was the birthday for one of our investigators and we decided to make him a present. He was heading off to the U.S. the next day so we had to act quickly. As any thoughtful and caring friend would, we went straight to Daiso (the most amazing Japanese equivalent to a dollar store) and got some gag gifts for his trip. We put them in an emergency bag (also purchased at Daiso) and sent him on his way! It was pretty fun plus we got some solid contacts at the store. Hopefully we will be able to meet up with them this week. We then went out and tried to find people who wanted to hear our message.

Wednesday was the Christmas conference. The entire mission showed up and we had a great conference. We got to watch Meet the Mormons, which is an amazing movie and will be and probably already has been really good for missionary work (if you have any stories regarding that please send them to me!). We had a mission white elephant gift exchange and I got a really lame present. I gave a pretty good one with funny mixed with useful and I got a jump rope (purchased no doubt at Daiso) that broke within the hour. Wednesday night we had a game night at the church in Fuchu. A bunch of investigators and potential investigators and Eikaiwa students showed up. It was really great! They had a lot of fun and afterwards we sang some Christmas hymns and shared a Christmas message. There was a strong and wonderful Spirit there--a great night! We also gave away a bunch of Book of Mormons.

Thursday was alright. Certainly wasn't the best Christmas ever. It's a little bit harder here in Japan because nobody celebrates Christmas but the members, and they were all working. So we went around and caroled as a district. Elder W and I found some really cool guys from India who spoke perfect English. They were brothers. The younger brother was visiting his older brother who plays professional rugby here in Fuchu. We then went and taught a lesson to one of our progressing investigators--also really good. He got a call and suddenly in the middle of our lesson and had to leave, but we'll see him again this week. We ended the day as a district and went out to eat at a sushi-go-round place. It was delicious!

Friday I got to Skype with the family!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was so awesome! I love my family so much! Thank you for being there for me and supporting me! That Skype session made this the best Christmas ever! I was scheduled to go on splits with the zone leaders right after we hung up, but the trains were shut down for some reason so it was rescheduled for this week.

Saturday we went and cleaned the church with the members. We then went out and taught a few lessons on the street.

Sunday great! Church was awesome; I felt the Spirit a lot. We also all went to the bishop's house for dinner. It was delicious! We shared a nice message with the family and then left. While we were walking home we met some pretty cool people and set up a meal with one of them this coming week!

Well that was my week! It was pretty good considering my companion was feeling pretty under the weather all week!

In my scripture study this week I read a lot of talks. One of them talked about trials that we have in our lives. The part that struck me the most is the way we are supposed to cope. We cope with the hard times in our lives through service to others. It is that process of turning our attention outward that allows us to help the Spirit heal others and to help heal us too. I love that. It is so contrary to what seems natural. Usually it seems like if you are going through a really hard time you have an excuse to kind of forget about others and turn inwards and figure it out. The Lord shows us that the opposite is true.

I love you and pray for you always! I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas and that you will have a great New Year as well!

-Siebach 長老

Monday, December 22, 2014

Meree Kooreesoomas!!!

Yay!! He got his Craisins!!

Meree Kooreesoomas (almost)!!

Here's a short rundown of the week: Monday started with studies and then we went to take a tour of a soda bottling plant (as I was deceived into thinking) in our area. One of the Nihonjin Elders really wanted to go. It turned out to be exclusively a brewery. Super lame, HUGE waste of precious p day time! I was super bummed. I wrote emails and went grocery shopping, had some good one on one time with an elder in my district who came to the mission at the same time. We got pretty close at the MTC and just talked for a while about how life is. It was good. For dinner we went to an investigator's house and had tacos and chicken pot pie. It was amazing!

Tuesday was awful. It was so cold and rained the entire day. We went to Kichijoji to get a new phone, and that's when I got your package! Yay!!!! 🎉🎊  Thank you so much--and thank Brother Edwards for bringing it all this way! Other than that, that day was just miserable, but we went out and worked hard trying to find people to teach. Turned out to not be very productive, but those who we talked to we invited and those who we invited we tried to help:)

Wednesday was good. We usually don't have a whole lot of dendo time on Wednesdays. Just three or four hours, so we made the most of our time and found a lot of cool people. We got to teach a couple lessons. We also found a really cool human jukebox. Then in the evening we taught the children's English class and the regular English class which took up the rest of our night. We were able to set up a lesson with one of the students for the following day!

Thursday is our weekly planning day. We came to the church at noon to plan then we had a lesson at 3:30 with that eikaiwa (英会話) student. It was really good. We got to talk to him a lot about Jesus and the Book of Mormon. We showed him the He is the Gift video and he cried. The Spirit was really strong. We have another lesson with him on Christmas day! That was also the night when Elder W and I were called by the APs and asked to go to the district leader training the following day and then to go on splits with them after (I was nervous).

Friday we went back to kichijoji and participated in the district leader training meeting which went until about 4 and then I came back to Fuchu with one of the APs, Elder T (his katakana name is Saruman... Pretty dope), where we dendoed for a while and then went to a game night at the church with six of the eight Fuchu missionaries and a bunch of members, potential investigators, investigators, and recent converts. It was really good and we set up a lesson the following day at a sushi place!

Saturday rained a lot. We studied and then went to the sushi place where we had some great (cheap) sushi and had a great lesson! We taught about the Book of Mormon, word of wisdom, our relationship with God and prayer. He promised to pray everyday for a week! And to read the scriptures! It was a great lesson! We ran to the train and got Elder T back to Kichijoji for some meetings. Short but sweet! Came home and Elder W and I immediately went to the church for an Elders Quorum yakiniku party where we brought 7 investigators. It was amazing! Ward members have a crazy amount of power when it comes to missionary work! Missionaries can teach and bring the Spirit in but it is the members that make the church seem real and accessible. If investigators only ever see missionaries then that is their image of the church. If they get to see and get to know members then they see what the church is usually like, they see normal people and they have friends.

Sunday was really good. Church is tough as always, but I am starting to understand a lot more of what the speakers say. It is really hard still and I usually have a headache after. We then went out and dendoed and completely forgot to eat dinner. We went that way until we looked at our phone at 8:34 and realized that we had 26 minutes to make the 40ish minute walk home. Needless to say we booked it and made it with a few seconds to spare. I was praying the entire time for help and watched as all of the crosswalk lights changed to green a couple seconds before we got there. It was really a great night. We talked to so many great people and have a lot of appointments set up. Those nights are so rare. We must have been doing something right!

This past week had a lot of peaks and troughs and a bit of a painful amplitude. There were a few really low lows, but more really high highs! The district leader meeting was good. It helped me realize how much I need to improve. When I told that to the AP he told me that was good, that we don't have those meetings to help people to feel good about where they are, but to see where they need to be. That made me think about when the disciples said in John 6 "this is an hard saying; who can hear it?" I think about setting big goals and doing everything I can think of to live with God and become like him. That requires perfection. In order to get there I'm gonna need to be corrected a lot; to change a lot; to become a lot. Those are hard things. It is hard to be corrected, it is hard to see how imperfect you are. These are all hard sayings. I think the trick is being the type of person that those disciples are asking about, becoming the type of person who can hear it. Then we can deal with the hard things that we have to deal with in order to return to our Heavenly Father. I want to become someone who can hear it. I think the key to becoming that is having faith hope and charity, and of course no pride. That's what I need to work on.

Anyways, I love you guys! Merry Christmas!!! Can't wait to talk to y'all this week!
- Elder Siebach

Monday, December 15, 2014

Of Loved Ones and Language Tests

Today I found out that one of the guys from my MTC district is heading home right now. He fell off of his bike and broke his collarbone. He will be returning to get surgery and hopefully come back in about three months. Wow! I feel so bad for him! Despite the fact that I yearn to spend this precious season of giving and love with my family, I know that one day I will be rejoined with them. Going on a mission has made me realize how much I miss my loved ones and how much I want to spend time with them. I love the unique perspective that we have that includes the fact that righteous families who've been sealed in the temple will be able to live together forever. That's pretty cool! Whatever happens, we will be reunited again. At any moment our life or the lives of our loved ones can be snuffed out. That's scary... Being on a mission would be a lot harder if I didn't have the hope that one day, no matter what, I will see my family again. That hope is not just for us, it is for everyone. I love showing people pictures of my family and testifying about the plan of salvation and the potential families have. It's a cool experience and always brings the spirit. I encourage you to talk about your beliefs regarding families with someone this week!

So this past week has been pretty good. Our pool of potential investigators is growing and we got to teach a few lessons to some of them this week. One cool story is we were out at an omurice restaurant with one of the people we met this week. He is alright at English and wants to study it so we were speaking in English mostly with a little Japanese to clarify things (up to that point we hadn't talked a lot about the church) and then the man looked at me and, in Japanese, told me that he wanted to see how good I was at Japanese and asked me to talk. Of course I had no idea what to say, those situations are the worst! I decided to tell him about the MTC and how we learn how to teach and talk about the gospel. I told him that my best area of Japanese is teaching about our church and he said go for it. So I started talking about how the church has a lot of beliefs, but they are centered around Christ. I then asked him if he knew what the real reason and meaning of Christmas was. He said no, so we talked about Christ and ended up teaching this man most of the first two lessons. It was really amazing. He was interested and wants to learn more. The next step is to show him how incredibly important the gospel really is. I will send a picture of the meal!

 I love you all!

Siebach 長老

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Getting Started...Again :)

Hello everybody! I hope you are all having a wonderful time! I encourage you to use the season to share your testimonies about Jesus Christ! Share that awesome video "He is the Gift"! I really love that scripture that they share at the end. John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

That is something that few people here in Japan know about. Very few even know why we celebrate Christmas! We can bring these "glad tidings" to those around us. I have been able to see the hope that comes from a knowledge of Jesus Christ and his atonement in the lives of some of the people here. This Saturday a man I got to teach named Hisashi was baptized. While I didn't get to go to the service, I know that the Spirit was there and testified to those in attendance that that is the way, that is the way to follow Jesus Christ, and in so doing, be enabled to live with our Heavenly Father again. Baptism is one of the first steps to get there. I am so excited for my friend. He has found the hope that Moroni talks about:

41 And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.

So my new area is called Fuchu but it actually contains all of Chofu and another city called Inagi. I have not yet had a chance to visit either of the other two cities yet. We plan on heading over to Chofu tonight. The past couple days have been pretty good. They have actually been really cold. It has become a familiar feeling to gaze at an empty Areabook. This is my third time opening a companionship. It's pretty fun because we spend a lot of time finding people to teach; however, I worry that my teaching skills are not developed enough. Role playing only goes so far. The apartment is really nice. It's pretty big for a two man, but it doesn't have the gas turned on yet or desks, chairs, tables, cooking supplies, etc. Until today it didn't have a refrigerator, washing machine or microwave! Those three things came today and we are doing some much needed washing! Luckily the apartment has had beds and a little heater the entire time, so we haven't frozen yet! It will be exciting to have the gas turned on and be able to shower again! Today we went to the other Elder's apartment and got to shower. Up until now my companion and I have been braving the frigid tap water for just long enough to wash our hair! 

I will give you a little download on my companion. His name is Elder Wright. He has been out here for over a year now. Has just over eight months left. That's actually pretty old for this mission. He's a really funny guy, pretty entertaining to be around and a very hard worker. He has been in Fuchu for as long as I have been in the field, so this is his fourth transfer here. Right now we don't have anyone to teach, but we have managed to find a few potential investigators;-) We are working pretty hard on finding more people!

The work is moving forward, it always seems to be slow in the beginning, but I know that all of our hard work will start to pay off. I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!

Elder Siebach

Monday, December 1, 2014

Transfer Week: Headed to Fuchu!

Hello every one! How are y'all doing!? I'm doing pretty well! This week is transfers week, I have yet to get my call. I am guessing that I will stay here, but I will probably get the call while writing this! So I will let you know somewhere further down in my email!***

This week was pretty fun, I went on splits twice, once with a trainee from another district, his name is Elder Wanacott, and once with the district leader from my old district. Both were fun and we saw a lot of miracles. In the split with the district leader, we were in my area and we stumbled across a guy I contacted about a month ago. When we first met him, he wanted to learn about the gospel, but then he just dropped off the face of the earth. Now we have a lunch meeting with him later this week! He's probably 17 so our lessons will be entirely in Japanese. He will also come to our Eikaiwa (English) class.

We had an especially good day yesterday! We were on our way to visit a family going through a rough divorce when we decided to stop by a potential investigators house. He welcomed us in and we had a really spiritual discussion about how we have weaknesses (he was talking about his inclination to get angry at his son). We shared Jacob 4:7 and Ether 12:27. It was a great lesson in which we talked about how even Christ showed anger, but his motive in everything he did was love and obedience.

We then went to a members house. The father has moved out, so that leaves six kids who don't have a father! We went by to pay them a visit and to thank them for making a thanksgiving dinner for us! They are so kind. It was really nice of them. That was a really good visit. We got to share a nice message with them and feel and show the love:). Then we went out streeting and taught a lesson to a guy we met. Later we went to a meal with a member and some other missionaries from the other Machida district (my old area). They brought two people that I had contacted a couple months ago. I contacted them but they never got back to me and then they called the other missionaries! It was awesome! So I got to spend some time with them, get to know them and commit them to start taking the lessons! It was an awesome day, I really felt the spirit and saw a lot of miracles!

***Newsflash!! I am getting transferred to a place called Fuchu. It is in another zone north of here. Wow I did not think that that would happen! Shoot! I'm so pumped! My companion's name is Elder Wright. I have never met him, but it sounds like he is a pretty fun guy! He's been in Japan for over a year now... Pretty old guy for this mission.

I probably have to go now. Love you all and hope you're doing well!
Please write me if you have time!

Siebach 長老