Monday, January 19, 2015

A Birthday and Some Miracles

Hello everybody! Had a great birthday here in Fuchu. Thanks for all the birthday wishes:) This is a new transfer which means new companion! Yay! His name is Elder O. He came into the mission at the same time I did and he actually studied at BYU at the same time I did. He was also living in B9 (which was right next to where I lived) but I never met him. Not even once. Bummer... But we got to be pretty good friends in the MTC and now we are with each other all day everyday! 

So this transfer technically started on Thursday. That is when we switch companions and everyone travels to their new areas. Elder O was coming from another part of Fuchu, so Thursday went off without a hitch. The whole day was completely taken up with transfers and weekly planning and picking up my newly repaired bike.

Friday we went out to Chofu on said bike and 'partied' there for a few hours. We got to talk to a lot of people and found a few potential investigators from it. Then we sped home and had game night at the church. That was really fun! We had a lot of our investigators and less active members there, so that was really great.

On Saturday I went to the hospital with one of the Nihonjin Elders. He is suffering with some kind of infection in his leg. Unfortunately, and as some of you may know, Japanese hospitals are pretty sketchy at best. We spent three hours of our study time there only to be told that there was nothing they could do and to go to a different hospital. However, the visit was not in vain. While I was sitting in the waiting room I looked across the room and spotted an old friend we have had a few lessons with, but who fell off the map a few weeks ago! I went over and sat next to him. Turns out he had to get knee surgery when and has been recovering since then. I was very grateful for that chance to talk to him. We will be meeting with him again soon. That was the first miracle.

The next one happened while we were walking from our apartment to get to the train station. As we were walking somebody called out "Elders!" It was pretty hard to hear. My companion didn't hear it at all, but I heard it again and walked back and found the man who was calling out to us. Turns out that he is a member from New Zealand that lives here with his family so that he can play rugby for Toshiba. He practices every day and is usually exhausted so he and his family slowly but surely stopped coming to church. We talked with him for a while and then he had to go. He is a really nice man. So on Sunday we went to drop off some banana bread and a note at his apartment (we found out where he lives from the ward directory and knew that they are usually gone on Sundays). When we got there, there was the entire family in the foyer heading up to their apartment. They invited us up and we went and had a nice visit with them. We will be meeting up again this week, but those were two huge miracles. Nobody has been able to contact them for over a year! I feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity to get to know them and help them.

That night(Saturday) we taught a lesson to a less active member of the chuech and I felt the spirit a ton. That was the first time we have ever taught him! I am excited to keep helping him.

Sunday we had church as always. Church is still pretty tough to follow. I don't understand a lot of what goes on besides the basic paths the talks and lessons are taking. However, I am so grateful for the opportunity to take the sacrament. I fail so often and I almost always come up short on what is expected of me, but I get an opportunity to start over, to try again, and to get a little better. I am so thankful for the amazing blessing of the sacrament.

After church we had that meeting with the family from New Zealand. Then (Spencer will like this part) we went and ate authentic homemade Chinese food with two of our Chinese investigators! It was really good. They are here studying Japanese, but don't speak very much. Luckily we had a member (Franky) with us who speaks Japanese, Chinese, and English almost fluently (he speaks Chinese 100% fluently because he is in fact Chinese). After these guys get good enough at Japanese they are planning to study clothing design. We got to kind of share a thought with them and give them a Book of Mormon in Chinese. It was really fun and hopefully will lead to more meetings. Spencer if you have any advice please let me know!

After that we ran home (to make it there by 9:30 (which we made by 30 seconds!!) That's actually a pretty common occurrence so we are working on being more timely:)

This week I have been studying self-mastery. There are a lot of great talks on this subject and a lot of great things that I have learned. One of my favorite things that I have read is this poem by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,       
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced nor cried aloud:
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed. …

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

I really love those last two lines. We are the masters of our respective fates and we are the captains of our respective souls. We, I especially, like to blame a lot of the things I have done or the things I haven't done on my circumstances. While a lot of things are the direct result of events outside of our control, we, in the end, are given everything we need to make the right decisions and are accountable for the things we have done. We have been given that situation through the gift of agency and the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.
2 Nephi 2:27

I really love the first point that Elder Klebingat made in the October 2014 General Conference. They are words to live by: 

"Take responsibility for your own spiritual well-being. Stop blaming others for your circumstances, stop justifying, and stop making excuses for why you may not be fully striving to be obedient. Accept that you are “free according to the flesh” and “free to choose liberty and eternal life” (2 Nephi 2:27). The Lord knows your circumstances perfectly, but He also knows perfectly well whether you simply choose not to fully live the gospel. If that is the case, be honest enough to admit it, and strive to be perfect within your own sphere of circumstances. Spiritual confidence increases when you take responsibility for your own spiritual well-being by applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ daily."

I love you all! 

Elder Siebach

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