Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Meeting an Apostle and Saying Goodbye to Fuchu

Right now I am sitting in a Japanese hospital! these places are so sketchy compared to the U.S. Plus this place is overflowing with really really old people. That is something that I love about Japan. There are old people everywhere and they are really hard to understand. Japanese is a difficult language already, but if you mix it with toothless mumbling 90-year-olds it becomes almost impossible. Even the Japanese missionaries struggle with some of these ancients. I think that they are really funny. Some of these old people are so mentally isolated that they become these psychological islands that exist apart from any daily experiences or influences. They are so immersed in their separate thoughts that that seems to be all they can think about. I have had some pretty wild conversations with really old people here. The latest one was about prehistoric animals and how that old man would love to go back and ride a triceratops. Another one waxed eloquently existential while talking about the recently bloomed Ume blossoms (plum trees). Something that I have learned is you can usually tie some part of the gospel to whatever people are talking about. We talked to a guy that was really into art and we ended up talking about how some pieces of art, for example the Sistine chapel ceiling, transcend the abilities of man and are evidence of divine assistance. The man brought all of that up and we got to testify about God and his love for his children. That was a pretty cool experience.

Anyways, yesterday we had an amazing two mission conference with Elder Ballard, Elder Rasband, and Bishop Stevenson. It was really really amazing, the spirit was there so strong. I am excited to go back and read my notes and feel the aftershock spiritual experiences. They talked a lot about teaching the restoration and studying. It was kind of interesting to see where the talks went. They made a point to emphasize that the talks were not planned or anything just on the spot. I thought that that was kind of cool. I felt the spirit a lot and they answered a lot of questions that I had. It was a wonderful conference. (Mormon Newsroom has an article about these church leaders visiting the US Ambassador to Japan as well as members and missionaries during this same visit)

Then we returned to our area and got our assignments for next transfer. I am going to a Place called Kohoku down in Yokohama! I am really excited! It is going to be great. I hear that they have a lot of mountains down there... so my legs are going to get jacked from riding my bike up and down them. So that's pretty exciting. My companion will be Elder Dana. I don't know him at all but he seems like he will be a pretty good companion. He will be working on his fourth transfer while I am on my Sixth. I am really excited. I will be moving down there on Thursday.

This past week we got to do a lot of fun things. After Eikaiwa (weekly English class) ended, we were talking with a bunch of students and some members. A less active member showed up and I got to have a really good conversation with him. He hasn't been coming to church for a long time and he likes to make jokes about pornography and beer and other things that are against the commandments. He makes those jokes a lot and on Wednesday that's what he was doing. I asked him about his beliefs and what his desires are and what he is willing to do to reach them. We had a long talk and he ended up bearing testimony about commandments and Jesus Christ and eternal life. The spirit was really strong and I felt (I don't do this very often but I really felt like I should) like I should promise him that if he does what he can to get to church and take the sacrament, God will help him deal with the problems that arise and he will be happier. So that was a great experience. I am sad that I will be gone as he makes the changes necessary in his life to follow the commandments, but I am really happy for him because I think that he is willing to make the sacrifices and changes necessary.

This past transfer I have really realized how much I love the people here. Sometimes it is so hard to look past all of the problems that you see--I think this is especially true as a missionary, where you want to help people change. It is easy to see the things that need changing, but I really love the people here. They are so kind and so hard working. They are the nicest people in the world, they are just missing something. I am so happy to be here and so grateful for the chance to serve these beautiful people.

Love you all!
Siebach Choro

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

This is Fuchu!

Hey there! How are Y'all doing?

This past week was really great we got to do a lot of fun things with a lot of fun people. The highlight by far was on Saturday when we got to go to a baptism with one of our investigators named Paw. It was a really spiritual experience. When it ended and we were on our way home I asked him if he wanted to get baptized and he said yes! He hasn't decided on a date, he wants to study a little bit more. Obviously we need to teach him a lot more but he feels the Spirit a lot. I am excited to teach him! I hope that I don't get transferred so that I can teach him! We have transfer calls next week. Sorry that my email is a day late on the emails. We had temple P-day today which is always on Tuesday! That was a great session! Plus I got to see Aunt Kathy! Unfortunately I didn't get talk to her at all.

So our week was really great. On Saturday my companion and I went and played tennis with some investigators that we have. One of them works at ASIJ (the American School in Japan--my old school in Japan), so we went and played on the ASIJ courts... That was awesome. ASIJ has changed a LOT. The courts are on top of a building. It changed a lot. Unfortunately I didn't get to stay and explore because we had to run off to a baptismal service. That day was pretty good. We had a great week with regards to investigators and actual finding. We got to talk to a lot of people and got a lot of contact information. Hopefully we will be able to transform them into investigators.

Saturday night we did Gym Dendo! It was the first time my companion and I had ever done it but we went and worked out at a gym and talked to a ton of people! They don't ignore us nearly as much when they are in the gym :) We are definitely going to do it again. The only down side is 1)I am really sore, and 2) all of my suspicions with regards to not being in shape have been confirmed. I am REALLY out of shape. I might have to start waking up a little bit earlier and working out for longer!

This week we shared a spiritual thought with one of our investigators that really hit me deeply. I had spent my entire personal study focusing on the role of the spirit. There is a really great chapter in PMG that talks about it, but I spent most of my time in the scriptures. This investigator is getting caught up with feeling like he doesn't know enough to take the essential step of baptism. So I sent him scriptures about how the spirit can lead us to truth and knowledge. After I sent the pictures I started to think about how I have seen this principle work in my life. I feel like I have learned so much since coming on the mission and focusing on the gospel. I have really seen the guidance of the spirit in my studies and prayers.

I love you all and I hope you all had a great week. Thank you so much for the emails that you have sent. I love you!

Siebach Choro

Monday, February 9, 2015

Aligning My Will With His

Dear family,

Making Okonomiyaki
Thank you so much for all of the emails! I loved them. It is so nice to be able to keep up with what is happening in your lives! I am so lucky to have such thorough and detailed writers in my family. Unfortunately, I don't have the skills or the time to write such a detailed email, but I'll do my best! Sorry :(

My thoughts for the past week have been returning pretty regularly to two topics. One of them is resigning our will to the will of our Heavenly Father. I came across a quote by Elder Maxwell that says that the only thing we have to give to God that is truly our own is our agency. All of the other things we have (time family, money, talents) are just ours because our Heavenly Father saw fit to give them to us. When we bring our will in line with His, or essentially replace our desires with His desires, we begin to follow the perfect path that He has prepared for us. The path that leads through peace and happiness and ends at eternal life. I want to align myself, my desires, my will with His that I may more fully serve and love.

The other thoughts have to do with faith and how faith is really the principle that the entire world uses to make progress. Whether it be business, science, or anything else. I am so sorry but I don't have time to explain it. SORRY!

This week we had a crazy spiritual lesson with one of our investigators. We got to talk about God and how merciful he is! It was a really awesome conversation and I could tell that he felt the spirit very strongly. It was a great lesson. He committed to read the scriptures, pray, go to church, and to think about getting baptized. We also found a couple more promising investigators! it was awesome!

I love you ALL!
Elder Siebach

P.S. My shoulder feels a lot better! thank you for the prayers and the fasting! I really believe that it is a gift from God that my shoulder still works. it popped and hurt and I couldn't sleep for most of the night for a week, which honestly made me kind of worried, but now it feels fine! Definitely a miracle! Thank you so much! I love you all!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Polar Opposites

Dear Family,

This past week was.... polar, if you know what I mean. We had a lot of really great things happen and then a lot of strange, not-so-great things. One of the strange things happened last night when a drunk man offered to buy us a hotel and provide us with a woman of the night. The funny thing was that neither my companion nor I had any idea what he was talking about because neither of us had ever taken the time to study any vocabulary that falls under that subject. When we got home and looked up some of the words he said, we realized what he was talking about. I'm pretty glad I didn't know what he was saying--haha!! Then again, I wish that I had known what he was talking about so I could have steered the conversation in a different direction earlier. Bummer. What can you do?

Another thing happened that made me really sad. We stopped a kid that looked like he was a super depressed university student. He was looking at the ground, shoulders slumped, and his whole demeanor just oozed sorrow and depression. I felt really bad for him and luckily the Spirit gave me a little bit of compassion for him, so I stopped him and started talking to him. As I thought, he was really down. My companion and I felt like we should testify to him about happiness and how Christ can help us overcome the deepest sorrow. I shared stories from my life and I felt the Spirit very strongly and I could tell he was feeling the same. 

In order to explain what happened I have to give a better description of the setting. My companion and I were hurrying to cross a street before the light turned on, he had already crossed heading the other way, the way we were coming from. We had to stop running to stop him and talk to him. So he was well aware of the fact that we had been trying to cross the street quickly. As we were talking to him and bearing testimony to him, he was tense, looking down, and clenching his fists, as if he were actively fighting something. He would point out to us when the light changed to green and when it would start blinking and when it would change to red. He was fighting the Spirit so hard! I could feel the Spirit working in me as if it were the one talking and I could see him fight it. I could see his desire to wallow in sorrow and self pity twist and thrash it's way out of the comforting, embracing arms of the Spirit. As we finished testifying and said goodbye it was all my companion and I could do to keep from crying. For a long time I couldn't shake the sadness that we had witnessed in that scene. We felt the Spirit work through us, we felt a tiny part of the love Heavenly Father has for His child, and we watched that child reject it. I pondered on it for a long time. What kind of person could feel the Spirit so strongly and then go against it?

In the requirements for the prayer stated when conferring the gift of the Holy Ghost, the only exactly verbatim phrase that you are required to say is "Receive the Holy Ghost". In English the tense of the word receive is not especially apparent, but in Japanese it says ukenasai. That is the command form of the verb receive. When we confer that amazing gift, we command the recipient to receive it. We don't say it might just be there all the time or whenever you need it no matter what, we command them to receive it. The fact that we say it like that carries many lessons I can see. One of the first lessons is that the Spirit is always willing to be with you. For something to be received it must first be given. God wants us to have the Spirit with us always. Secondly, the fact that that verb is in its imperative form means that we, the recipients, have to do something in order to carry out the command. (I feel like part of "enduring to the end" is learning how to do that.) Part of it is merely a willingness and desire to feel the Spirit. That young man, though his circumstance was outside of the situation of the actual gift of the Holy Ghost, did not have what it takes to actually receive the Holy Ghost. I don't think he wanted it.

That was a really sad experience. I don't want to see that ever happen again! Anyways, I have no more time. I promise that this week was better than that, we saw some pretty cool miracles and got to have some good spiritual experiences. It was a great week! I love you all! Do your best to receive the spirit!

Much love,
Elder Siebach