Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Shenanigans Before Getting Sick :(

Well I am here in Kamiooka! I sent my bags a couple days before my transfer, thinking that I would have them in Kamiooka when I arrived. I also put all of my warmest gear in the bags because it wasn't that cold at the time. Well, it got really cold the second day here and my bags didn't come until today. Right now I am suffering from the craziest cold I have ever had. It's killing me. It is hard to move and light and sound make my head feel worse than it already does. I have the chills and it hurts to touch things because for some reason my skin feels raw. I am also sweating a lot despite having the chills. Which is making it worse. I feel awful because I am supposed to be setting a really good example of hard work and obedience for my companion who is struggling with those things and right now I just can't. That is the worst part I think. Plus right now is the best time to get out and talk to people about Jesus! That is too good of an opportunity to miss for a stupid cold! This is really annoying and it makes me wonder why. Why would God put me through this silliness. It seems like such a waste of such precious and crucial time!

Sorry my email is awful. I am going to go sleep now. Love y'all!

Elder Siebach

Sunday, December 13, 2015

My Cigarette-Smoke Sermon

Hello family!

This will be my real email to all y'all! As you can see, I am transferring out of my beloved Hachioji to an area called Kamiooka (上大岡) which means "on top of big hills". It stays true to its name and is known as the hilliest area in my mission! So my legs get to be massive again! Yay! Also I hear that the view out of my apartment is gorgeous so get ready for some wonderful vistas of Fuji and stuff!

So this transfer is a sad one in that all of the sisters that came to Japan with me are going home. There are three of them and they have had incredible missions. They have all become legends in the mission with baptisms and how many people they have trained! They will be sorely missed! If I remember, I will attach a picture that has them in it! You will recognize them from my MTC pictures!

This week we had a lot of lessons with a lot of really good people. I went on splits with an Elder named Nakamoto. He is doing very well. We went and visited one of our investigators and found a lot of very unusual stuff in his apartment on top of a huge mess. We tried to help him clean but he wouldn't let us so I stood in the middle of
this huge mess in a one room apartment with cigarette smoke so thick you could hardly see through and preached to him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the sacrament and keeping the Sabbath Day holy. He knelt in seiza the entire time listening. My companion took the opportunity to clean and organize the room a little bit because our
investigator wasn't paying attention to him. It was a really strange scene I'm sure, but we learned a lot about him and helped him a lot that night. We came out of there smelling like heavy smokers and I had a cough for a few days following. Smoking will NEVER be appealing to me!

I have to go, but hey, I love y'all and hope you are having a Merry Christmas! Y'all're the best!

Elder Siebach

The awesome Sisters from my MTC group getting ready to go home

Hachioji members

Monday, December 7, 2015

Are We Not All Angels Sent From a Heavenly Home?

Hello everyone!

I hope you're having sweet dreams right now! This week was pretty tough! I feel like I was sitting on my butt for a lot of it (which is never a good feeling) and it turns out I was! We had a lot of meetings to attend! But hey now Zone Conference and MLC are over with! President Wada has gone around the mission unveiling some big changes in the way we dendo and teach. This way is a lot more focused on teaching and baptism! I am really excited to see how the mission changes from here! I was also informed by Mom that my year and a half mark passed a couple weeks ago. That wasn't very exciting! I figured by this point I would have everything figured out, but I still feel like a trainee! 

This week we found and taught a bunch of new investigators and invited a bunch of people to be baptized! No one said no and one made a date! He is from China and really wants to get baptized on the 26th of December! That is exciting! 

This week we had a lot of meetings and so there were lots of opportunities to receive some solid revelation for myself, my investigators, and the Zone! 

Other than that, the other Elders in my apartment continue to be lazy and disobedient. They get distracted by their own desires and forget about their investigators, many of whom need a LOT of help to reach their baptismal dates. I feel like I have tried everything to help them, but they don't listen and/or get angry whenever I try. I am not sure what to do, but the relationship between our companionships is severely strained and the atmosphere in the apartment and when we are together is no good. I am sure that both of them would love to see me go!

One scripture that I found recently that has a lot to do with my thoughts about obedience and what needs to happen in my apartment is 3 Nephi 27:13. It says, 

"13 Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you--that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me."

When I read that scripture the very last phrase sunk deep into my heart. "...because my father sent me." Something that Christ says about himself a lot is that he was obedient to everything that the Father would have him do. To introduce himself to the Nephites he says,

"...I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning." -3 Nephi 11:11

He was perfectly obedient, but in that first scripture (3 Nephi 27:13) he explains a little bit about why he is obedient and what his purpose is. He came and did the Father's will because he was sent by the Father. He did what the Father told him, not because he was there for the purpose of doing what he wanted, but what the Father wanted. Usually you don't send people places without something that you want them to do. Likewise, we are all here because God sent us here. We are not here to do what we want, but what the Father wants. Missionaries have all been called to their mission and their specific area and companion to do what God would have them do. On a wider scale, everyone alive has been sent by God from the Spirit World to this earth, and because He sent us, we are to do His will. I love that simple logic that Christ uses.

The Japanese word for angel is tenshi (天使) which means heaven (天) and "to send on a mission", messenger, envoy, ambassador (使). An angel, while it has the image of a shining white dude with wings, is literally something sent on a mission from heaven. Is this not all of us? Have we not all been sent from our heavenly home with a purpose? That purpose is written in the scriptures and can be known through prayer and study. For a missionary, it is also written clearly in the white handbook. 

We are all sent from the Loving arms of our Heavenly Father, by Him, to accomplish a wonderful work. We are all to be doing the work of angels. Should we not do it? After all, we were sent by God.

Those are my thoughts! I love you all! Sweet Dreams!

Elder Siebach


P.p.s. We are allowed to skype for 45 minutes on the 24, 25, or 26. Currently I don't have any plans for those days besides a baptism on the 26th! Let me know what works best and we can begin coordinating schedules and time differences!

P.p.p.s. Love y'all!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Proving Myself on the Dark Days

Hello my beloved family!

I forgot to let you know that we have our temple Pday today! Sorry! This past week was pretty dang good! I broke my record for lessons taught in a week! We had 25! That was fun. It was also exhausting! This coming week we will have about 25 hours worth of meetings to attend. That is going to destroy our time to find and to teach. We have a lot of people waiting for appointments, but we just don't have the time to get to all of them! That is a problem I never thought I would have to deal with on my mission. Today we went to the temple. There were over 50 missionaries there. You would think that it would be fun to be able to see a bunch of people after a long time and stuff like that. That is certainly what it was like in the first half of my mission, but having that many missionaries together means everyone has a ton of people that they have to talk to and it is really loud and irreverent and becomes really hard to feel the Spirit. The temple becomes social time and not a spiritually rejuvenating experience. Kind of disappointing.

Mom! I am so sorry! I forgot to thank you for the package! Thank you so much! That candy has now been distributed among all of my investigators, a bunch of members and even more primary kids! Thanks for that!

This week Elder Maurer and I decided to ride bikes to a district meeting in the next area over. We were running a little late so I started going faster and hit a huge rock. That jammed my seat painfully in between my legs and shredded the tire and inner tube. That was a bummer. We walked/ran the remaining 45 minutes to arrive a solid 30 minutes late.

This week I went on splits twice. The first time we taught 5 lessons that day and then the second splits we found 3 new investigators. It seems like miracles always happen on splits! This past week we had very little time to get out and find, but when we did God led us straight to the people he wanted us to meet. It was pretty exciting. When we were planning we felt we needed to go to a specific station. We looked at the members that lived there, felt a prompting to see a specific member. We visited her the next day and she told us where a less active had once lived but moved. We felt strongly that we should go 'house' that specific apartment building. We went there and found three new investigators. That day was a refreshing day of solid guidance and impressions from the Lord that allowed us to be the tools through which God worked His wonders.

I have learned on my mission that there are a few bright days where You feel like you are working closely with God, and then there are a lot more days that feel a lot more distant and less guided. Those are days for you to prove that you will give your all to follow the instructions that God has already given you. It is kind of like Nephi when he and his brothers were trying to get the plates. In Nephi 3:7 Nephi shows a bunch of belief when he says he will go and do, because he knows that God doesn't give any commands that are impossible. So Nephi "go"es and does his best to "do" two times and fails. That is God testing him. "Do you really believe that I will provide a way for you to keep my commandments?" It is also God bringing about a change in Nephi's heart. He realizes that the only way to accomplish what God wants us to do is to do it God's way. So God teaches Nephi that he needs to work through the Spirit, and Nephi proves to God that he is willing to work and give his all to follow the commands that God has given him so far. That's what life for me has become. I know God expects me to go out, and follow all of the rules, and talk to everyone, and do everything that PMG says, and follow my feelings and do what I think is best, and ultimately accomplish my missionary purpose.(just like how Nephi knew he was supposed to get the plates) I like to think that at that time he is putting people in my path. Then some of the time he sends current, and new directions to do certain things that I wouldn't usually do, and at that time he is leading me (just like Nephi in 1 Nephi 4: 6). It gets frustrating sometimes, just like I am sure it was frustrating to Nephi and his brothers (as evidenced by beating each other with sticks). Hopefully it won't come to that out here :)

I gotta go! Love you!

Elder Siebach

Monday, November 23, 2015

Can't Go Back to Neutral

Hello family! I am sorry for the late letter! We have been really busy today with three lessons and we are going on splits soon! Please forgive me if this email is lacking! 

This week we had some good times. We had a zone meeting this week. Something interesting about our zone is that we are all super old except for one transfer 3 missionary! When I saw that on the roster I got really excited because of all of the great experience we had coming into the zone. I thought that our stats would sky rocket and we would be seeing a lot more baptisms. Unfortunately I was caught in the excitement of my predictions of success to the point that I disregarded the problems that could be lurking under the surface. That was unfortunate because it turns out that the problems are there in a very big way. These missionaries have gotten used to their blessed life, they have grown accustomed to seeing miracles all around them, and they have forgotten what they are sacrificing. This has resulted in lower than ever stats, lukewarm support from the zone, and a pretty rough zone meeting. A lot of them, instead of preparing their hearts with questions and trying to be open to any suggestions or revelation that God would give them, they came to see their friends to joke and to laugh. So that is one of the problems we are facing right now. My companion and I will be working hard at addressing these concerns.

A little while ago I was reading in 1 Nephi 4, probably preparing for a lesson when I read a scripture that piqued my interest and I put away for safe keeping. That scripture has come to mind many times of over the past few days, especially today, so I will share it and my thoughts on it.

6 And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.

10 And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban; but I said in my heart: Never at any time have I shed the blood of man. And I shrunk and would that I might not slay him.

11 And the Spirit said unto me again: Behold the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands. Yea, and I also knew that he had sought to take away mine own life; yea, and he would not hearken unto the commandments of the Lord; and he also had taken away our property.

12 And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me again: Slay him, for the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands

Shoot! My iPad just deleted a ton of my email! I will throw down the abbreviated version!

When we are asked by the Lord to do something, we are given an opportunity to exercise our faith. We can either say no and choose our will or say yes and act in accordance. In so doing our faith grows and we feel that that growth "beginneth to enlarge [our] soul[s]" as it says in Alma 32: 28. I know that when we choose to say no and we feel the exact opposite of what we would feel if we were to say yes, we feel a shrinking. We can not expect to be allowed a chance to know the Lord's will and choose whether or not to follow it without consequences. We cannot be given a decision and say no and return to where we were. We can't go back to neutral. We, in essence chose to follow Christ or not, which involves growing or shrinking. I have felt both while here in Japan. I promise that a decision to act in faith will result in one more step down the path to perfection and eternal life! God loves us and because of that, even if we say no, God will, as with Nephi, give us more chances to follow Him!

I love you all!

Elder Siebach

Monday, November 16, 2015

Praise to the Lord, The Almighty

Hello family! 

How are you!? Life here in Japan is going pretty well. Elder Maurer and I have had a pretty good couple weeks, we are getting ready for a zone meeting tomorrow and have a lot of preparing to do. Our investigators are doing alright. One of them just dropped us for a little while. She said that she was feeling torn apart by her family's Buddhism and her desires to believe what we were teaching. That's too bad... But we will meet her again soon. We had a bunch of great experiences including a marathon lesson day on Thursday. We got to teach 6 lessons, four with different members! That was a great! 

Today we had a conference call with all of the zone leaders and sister training leaders. We have this every week on Monday, but today we got ripped apart a little bit by President Wada. That was a little fiery, but something we all needed! If you don't come away from meetings like that with some changes you have to make, or a call to repentance, then they aren't worth the time!

It sounds like there are some crazy things happening in France. All of the Japanese people I meet on the street are asking what I think about it. I have little to no idea what is going on there, but what I do know doesn't sound good at all.

This week we taught A, whose father is Muslim and very opposed to his son joining the church. We felt like we needed to read 1 Nephi 4 with him, Nephi is commanded to kill Laban. I have taught many people who find it hard to get over that scripture and the demands that God makes of Nephi. They find it hard to believe that God would ever do that to one of his children. With those negative experiences and background, I immediately threw that idea out the window and kept searching for something else to share. That idea continued to come into my mind and so I decided that that was the way we were going to go. It turns out that the member who accompanied us on the lesson really connected with this story back when he was investigating the church. He shared his own experience about how sometimes we are called to sacrifice something for something better. That sacrifice is, or can be, a huge test of faith. It is a test of faith in Jesus Christ and his ability to fulfill promised blessings. 

I want to talk a little bit about that sacrifice and the Faith and hope that we should have. In Nephi's case he is called to sacrifice Laban's life, as well as put his own emotional and spiritual worthiness on the line, in the hopes that the brass plates would be a means to bringing many of his posterity unto Christ. Our friend A is called to sacrifice his relationship with his father as he knows it, in order to receive the blessings promised to those who receive baptism and endure to the end. That takes a lot of faith, but if it is true, it is the most wonderful and valuable prize you could ever get. 

I love the scripture in Moroni 7 

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.

That is the hope A needs to have. That is the hope we have. In the end that's really what everything we do is for. And that hope is fulfilled when we believe in the character of Christ (perfection, honesty, actual redemptive power,etc...) and act upon that belief. When we believe and look up, as the Japanese word for faith means. We look up to him for hope, we look to him for an example, we look to him for healing and for aid, we look to him in trust and belief in his word, and we look to him in gratitude and anticipation for our place by his side that he has prepared for us. When I think of what he has done, is doing, and will continue to do for me, I am so grateful. I always think of this song.

1. Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise him, for he is thy health and salvation!
Join the great throng,
Psaltery, organ and song,
Sounding in glad adoration!

2. Praise to the Lord! Over all things he gloriously reigneth.
Borne as on eagle wings, safely his Saints he sustaineth.
Hast thou not seen
How all thou needest hath been
Granted in what he ordaineth?

3. Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy way and defend thee.
Surely his goodness and mercy shall ever attend thee.
Ponder anew
What the Almighty can do,
Who with his love doth befriend thee.

4. Praise to the Lord! Oh, let all that is in me adore him!
All that hath breath, join with Abraham’s seed to adore him!
Let the “AMEN”
Sum all our praises again,
Now as we worship before him.

What a wonderful gospel we bear and what a wonderful promise we preach. I Love the Lord!


Monday, November 2, 2015

Transfers and I'm Staying Put!

Hello everyone! 

This past week was great and we had a lot of fun. We got to meet with Ahamadou and Tomoko (our Miracle couple) a few times and even got to meet with her little brothers for the Halloween party! I know that I have talked about them before--I met them on the street about a month and a half ago. They have both joyfully received parts of the gospel, but they both have a few problems that they have to overcome. Ahamadou's dad is Muslim and has forbidden him from getting baptized. The catch is that his dad lives in Sierra Leone and hasn't seen his son for the last 19 of his 21-year long life. Tomoko's family is big but her parents are not around very often. As the oldest it falls on her to keep all of her siblings alive and clean and happy. I think going to our recent Halloween party was a good chance to help Tomoko feel more comfortable with introducing us to her family. It also helped them meet a lot more members. They also made it out to church yesterday. We had a couple lessons with them over the course of the week as well. Elder Burton, an elder in my zone, and I taught them the plan of salvation along with eternal families and temples. The idea of eternal families is attractive to them. They want to get married, but have no idea how to do it. You know what would be cool? Is if y'all were to write them letters! They would love it! You could share testimonies of what the gospel has meant in your lives and the blessings it has brought! Even if it is in English I could translate it! Or you could have someone there translate it! Either would be great!

We got transfer calls! I will be staying and my beloved Elder Cook will be headed to my old stomping grounds in Kanagawa! I will miss him! I'm kind of jealous--it's such a great area--but in his place will be an elder that I used to live with! His name is Maurer and he is from Australia! I will attach a picture of us. We will have transfers this Thursday. I'm excited for the changes and the week ahead!

I gotta go but hey, I love y'all!

Elder Sterling Siebach
Elder Maurer and I

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Significance of Looking Up

Hello family! I hope you are all genki!

I'm pretty genki! It's nice and chilly outside so I sleep well, I just got some sweet new shoes (shout out to Mom for ordering them, and Aunt Kathy for getting them to me--thank you so much!!). I also just got a sweet package with a new tie, belt, and a BIG bag of Swedish fish (gone already--turns out the Japanese LOVE American candy and will eat a lot of it given the chance! Plus the sisters in my district are missing their comfort foods. Elder Cook and I got a few little fishies each and then they were just gone!) We are seeing lots of miracles, plus a couple of our investigators are keeping commitments... I couldn't ask for better!

I got to go on splits three times this week. Once with an one of the assistants (AP) that was pretty fun. and then twice more with some missionaries in my zone! They were all great! This week we had two lessons planned where we were going to commit our investigators to a baptismal date. We scheduled appointments with them to try and match up with our splits so that we could try to help missionaries of our zone get excited about the work and service we are doing, but both of the lessons fell through. Bummer big time. One was rescheduled for yesterday and we were able to set a date with him. I guess God just wanted Elder Cook and I to take care of this one! We will try again this week with some different missionaries and different investigators!

This week I had a question. My question was about the Japanese word for Faith--it is shinkou 信仰. The first character means belief and the second character means to look up. The first one makes sense to me, but I was wondering about the significance of looking up. I asked a lot of Japanese people and they told me it was because Japanese people are fools and make silly words. I guess it is kind of a silly question to ask, but God saw fit to answer it for me. Yesterday we had a busy day and had no time to study the scriptures. I took advantage of a three minute break where My companion was in the bathroom. I asked God where I should read and felt like I should read 3 Nephi 11. I went right there and my question was answered within the first 6 verses! Y'all should read it and tell me what you think! I have no time today so I can't tell you for you! Try to write me back with any ideas or impressions sometime during this week! Love y'all!

Elder Siebach

Tough to get the seat high enough!

One of our tougher meals this week :/

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Do You Believe in God?

Hello family! 

This past week was pretty good. We had Elder Yamashita, who is a General Authority, come and do a conference. That was great. He gave us a lot of things we can improve and a lot of motivation to do it! One of the things he focused on was baptisms and how we need to have more. I agree! A lot of missionaries here, myself included, come with an expectation to baptize very few or none at all, and to not be able to speak the language ever. That expectation effectively puts a cap on our ability to exercise faith. If we don't go out to find new people to teach with an expectation to find someone to baptize then we probably won't. If we go out with an expectation to plant seeds, never to harvest, then even if we find someone prepared, we will treat them the way we expect them to be, which is uncultivated. Elder Yamashita told us that there are people out there that are ready to be baptized and that we need to attain that mindset. That was great. He then gave a broadcast conference where he trained all of the ward councils in our mission on how to work with missionaries! Good stuff!

Something else we did this week was have a big zone blitz in Hachioji! We had all of the missionaries in the stake, which was actually two zones, come and go on splits with other missionaries and dendo for an hour. We did two rounds of that. My first split was with a missionary that is now working in my old Machida 2 area. We got together, said a prayer, and almost immediately received the clearest revelation I have ever gotten. I knew exactly where we needed to go. Strange as it was, I felt that we needed to walk 10 minutes to the 7-11 and use the bathroom there. I thought that was especially weird because I didn't feel a need to use the bathroom or anything. I asked my companion what he felt and he told me that he wasn't sure, but that he needed to find a bathroom. I was shocked! Quickly we walked straight there and just as we were about to enter the convenience store a man walked out. We stopped him and asked him how he was doing and where he was going. He said he wasn't doing so well and that he was on his way to an AA meeting. He said he had been going for three years and still hadn't broken his addiction. We talked with him some more and asked if he believed in God and Jesus Christ (he had mentioned the fact that AA is a Christian thought-based program). He answered me that no he did not. Using my small knowledge of the AA program I asked him what he does for step 3 (out of 12) because step 3 is to trust in God. He was pretty surprised that I knew what step 3 was, and I was pretty shocked too. He told me he believed in some sort of higher power, but he didn't really have any specific belief. I told him about one of my experiences with repentance and how I couldn't get over it without strengthening my testimony of God and Jesus Christ and what exactly they did and do for me. My companion, through incredibly specific revelation pulled out a Japanese Book of Mormon and opened it to Alma 7. I pointed to the scriptures and bore testimony to the man that that book is the word of God and then told him how I had read this very verse in Alma 7 that helped me overcome the barriers to my repentance. We read them and I bore testimony to him that Christ knows exactly what he is going through, in fact, Christ is the only one that knows what we are going through perfectly. Knowing that allows us to trust him, to exercise faith on correct principles, and to fully repent. Our friend was thoughtful and accepted a Book of Mormon. I hope we get to talk with him again--he had a good spirit about him:)

As I am writing this a scripture I really love comes to mind. In the book of Alma, Amuleck says of Jesus Christ

And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance. (Alma 34:15)

Knowing of God and Christ, their attributes, perfections, what they have done for us, what they want for us, what they will do for us, brings the possibility to us that we may exercise faith in them into repentance. If we don't know anything about them then we can't truly exercise faith in them! I have a testimony that Christ lived on this earth, that he healed, taught, performed miracles, suffered in Gethsemane, died on the crossed, resurrected three days later, and that he still lives today. I have a testimony that he, unlike anyone else, has felt the same things that we have felt. Knowing all that makes it possible to believe that he will forgive and heal me and everyone else who believes on his name! 

This week outside of the zone blitz we went on three splits and had great experiences on all of them. We committed an investigator to baptism and plan on committing his girlfriend soon! We like to call them the miracle couple, 'cuz every time we meet with them, it feels like miracles are real. Things are happening here!

Love Y'all! 

Elder Siebach

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

General Conference!

Hello family! I am so sorry that I didn't tell you about Pday on Tuesday! I will actually have it on Tuesday again next week so...Yoroshiku onegai shimasu!

Seems like everyone's week has been pretty swell! This week was great for me as well. We had a zone meeting in which I was able to help a lot of missionaries in my zone. That felt good. We talked about giving up just a little more of whatever we have been holding onto that is keeping us from fully devoting ourselves to Christ. Our mission took a survey a few weeks ago and we talked about the results at MLC. My companion, Elder Cook, and I were able to plan our training around some of those results as well as some principles written in the missionary handbook. From there we went on splits. I stayed here in Hachioji with one of the amazing district leaders here. We were blessed to meet up with our hard-to-meet couple from a few weeks ago. That was great. We prayed with them over the phone that night and the spirit was really strong. They were planning on coming to conference but in the end couldn't make it.

We also had interviews with President Wada this week. That was a great experience. I love having interviews with him. It is always a relieving experience. There are a lot of missionaries in this mission who dread these opportunities, but I find the correction and advice refreshing. He knows that I love nothing more than to have a scripture-led discussion, so we took some time to peruse the Book of Mormon. I definitely don't know that book well enough. I'll probably never know it well enough! 

After interviews we got to watch general conference which was great! I really loved it! I watched most of it in Japanese with investigators so my level of understanding wasn't near where I would have liked it to be. I will go back and re-watch. I really enjoyed that last talk by President Monson. Little bit scary how much of a struggle it seemed to be... But he bore an incredibly powerful testimony at the end. It was amazing to watch him pull himself together and deliver that testimony. What a wonderful man. I loved the Behold Your Mother talk by Elder Holland, especially because it brought back memories of my angel Moot :). From now on I intend to get started on "ponderizing"! I also loved the plea to sisters and especially the stories President Nelson shared. Also Elder Renlund gave a fantastic testimony.

I don't have tons of time left but I love you all! Please write me with more thoughts on General Conference as you start reviewing! I would love to hear them!

Love You!

Elder Siebach

Monday, October 5, 2015

Wearing White in Hachioji

Hello Family. Funny story: I left my iPad in Kofu, which is very far away. So right now I am writing you from the Babylonian-era computers in the church`s family history room. There are various consequences to this. One is that this letter can`t get very long in the little time that I have; another that I can`t send any pictures. I apologize! 

This week we had a lot of good things happening! We had an MLC this Thursday and got to feel the spirit a lot. We also had a baptism here in Hachioji!

I have been studying Zeezromin the Book of Mormon recently. I love the incredible turnaround in his life. (Read about him in Alma 10:31 - Alma 15) Something we can all learn from! 

I am so sorry that this email is so short. I love you all!

Elder Siebach

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Becoming a Pro at Changing Your Heart

Hello wonderful family! 

It sounds like all is well on the western front. I can tell you right now we are seeing a lot of miracles here on the eastern front!

I talked a little bit about a couple that we found here while on splits. They are awesome! We have taught them about God and gotten them praying regularly now which is fantastic. They both are feeling God's love and wanting to improve. Next comes the rest of lesson one! The girlfriend is going especially quickly and teaching herself by looking at all of the church websites! She sent me a bunch of inspirational pictures that the church posts and told me she thinks it is awesome. She also asked me if she had to learn Hebrew in order to pray to God in a language that he can understand. I laughed and promised her that he will understand her no matter what language she uses! It was very funny!

This week I also was called in to the headquarters to go on splits with some youth. Potential missionaries from all over this area of Japan gathered and got paired up with missionaries to go out and do finding for a couple hours. I got paired with a 16 year old and I fear I might have walked him to death (see photo below for evidence!) There was a testimony meeting immediately following the finding time, during all of which he was asleep... But we had some pretty neat experiences together!

Recently I have been learning a lot about changes of the heart. Changes of the heart are really what it is all about! In repentance if the heart doesn't change then repentance has not been done correctly. Repentance is really just the process through which we slowly but surely turn ourselves from the "natural man" to align ourselves with God. Our natures, our very being, has to change for that to happen. 

Alma says:

And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;26 And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.

That scripture says that all mankind has to change, all mankind has to become new creatures, if they want to inherit the kingdom of heaven. I have a testimony that the Spirit and the power of the atonement can change our very natures if we let it. It can change our thoughts, desires, appetites, instincts, and weaknesses, if we let it. I have taught (poorly) people about the commandments and watched as they tried to cram the natural man with all of its imperfections into the mold of one of these "new creatures". I have watched them do their best to clean the outer vessel with the inner vessel still filthy, and so I have seen them fail and forsake the God that they were just coming to know. It turns out that their efforts didn't sink deeper than the surface. They were merely cosmetic changes to put up the facade of deeper change. I have done the same thing. I have done my best to look the part of a saint while having the inside of a natural man. I have felt the frustration and impossibility of the task. I have cried and wanted to give up. But I have seen some people change. I have seen some people cry mightily unto God. I have seen some sacrifice their pride, their desire to do it alone, and reach out to their Father in Heaven. For them, fitting the mold of a saint is easy because they have become saints or they are becoming. I can't say that I am there. I can say that I have changed a lot, though not nearly enough. My inside is still a work in progress. But I believe it can be done. I believe that through the assistance of our Savior a mighty change can be wrought, one that is infinitely greater than anything we could do on our own. I have seen it done! Someday I hope to become a pro at changing my heart!

Love you all!

Elder Siebach