Monday, July 27, 2015

Ground Control to Major Tom

Hello family! 

I know that I have been saying this a lot, but I have zero time! 

This week I went on splits twice with people in my district and saw great miracles both times. We got referrals, found multiple investigators, and taught lessons. They were incredibly productive! 

M-San came to church which was really exciting! He has been super busy recently and hasn't been able to meet with us for a few weeks, but we are not giving up on him!

This past week I found a really good scripture! 

It is in Mosiah 7:12-13

This is Ammon talking to King Limhi. Ammon went on a search for the people of Zeniph and finally found them after wandering in the wilderness for 40 days. Limhi, Zeniph's grandson, is now king (he comes after King Noah) and the people are in bondage to the Lamanites. Ammon and three of his buddies (he left twelve behind at camp) went and were captured by King Limhi's personal guard. Two days later King Limhi calls Ammon forth to try him. Limhi introduces himself rather gruffly (in which he talks about how his forefathers left Zarahemla to obtain the lands of their inheritance) and then demands that Ammon answer for himself. I love Ammon's words:

12 And now, when Ammon saw that he was permitted to speak, he went forth and bowed himself before the king; and rising again he said: O king, I am very thankful before God this day that I am yet alive, and am permitted to speak; and I will endeavor to speak with boldness;

13 For I am assured that if ye had known me ye would not have suffered that I should have worn these bands. For I am Ammon, and am a descendant of Zarahemla, and have come up out of the land of Zarahemla to inquire concerning our brethren, whom Zeniff brought up out of that land.

On my mission I have never been thrown in prison and bound or anything, but I have been treated poorly, I have been yelled at, shoved aside, laughed at, ignored, etc... Just like Ammon, I came here to inquire after my brethren. I came to find those who have been lost. I came to reestablish communication with those who are lost and have left home and those that are still home. Just like Ammon I have been mistreated by them that I am trying to bless. I love what he says; he points out that Limhi threw him in jail and bound him because Limhi didn't know who Ammon was. He didn't understand Ammon's purpose. Ammon intends to overcome this problem through speaking boldly. I know that too many times I have stayed quiet and held my peace, when I could have and should have been bold. I know that we have all had those times. I know that I have seen miracles when I have boldly invited people to find out who God is. 

Gotta go! Love ya!

Elder Sterling Siebach

Monday, July 20, 2015

Institute of Corrections

Dear family! I was nice to hear from y'all this week! It sounds like your big hike was a lot of fun and nobody got hurt! We need to go do something like that when I get back! I would love it! Well I am on my way home now from the temple. It was a great session!

We were supposed to get hit by a typhoon this week, but it snuck around us and instead of a ton of rain all we got was a lot of humidity! It is boiling! I am not a fan. We have also forgotten to take our trash out for a week and a half now....not pretty. We had a great week though. We went housing a lot and got rejected a lot, but we found some prepared people. The Ward had a big talent show on Saturday and we went with a bunch of investigators and potential investigators. That was really fun too. We were able to strengthen our relationship with a lot of the ward, have a good time, and most importantly, get those non-members in an environment conducive to building friendships with members of the ward. That was so important.

One of the craziest miracles is that Elder M and I got three referrals this past week, which is unheard of! This past week effectively quadrupled the total number of referrals I have been given on my mission. As of right now we haven't been able to contact any of them yet, but we will eventually! There is no way I am going to let this prime opportunity pass!!!!

We also had a zone conference. The two zones in Yokohama gathered and all of the missionaries that are going home this transfer gave their testimonies. It was a great meeting!

I have been thinking a lot about correction, I have had to do a lot of it recently. I have come to realize that correction can be a way to display love. We are all in various places along the path to perfection. A path where we are to change or not make it. We are to improve. Correction is just a nudge from other people that helps us do that. I wish that there were more people around me that would give me correction. I feel like I am plateauing a little bit. I do know that if we correct in the right way, unselfishly, lovingly, with an intention to help and not to hurt, gently, clearly..., that we will be helping those that we correct to take one more step towards being like Jesus Christ. In the past I hated receiving correction. I was proud and when people corrected me I would look for their flaws and use that to disqualify them and their words, but now, despite the fact that it is painful, I really welcome it and need it.

I love you all!

Elder Siebach

P.s. Will you please figure out a way to send me a song called Claire de Lune? Thank you!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Riding in the Rain and Defining Moments...

Hello family!

Sounds like Y'all had a good week and are about to have another! That hike is going to be awesome! Be sure to take a lot of great pictures please!

This past week was pretty good. It rained a lot and and I got soaked multiple times. Very few people were willing to stop and talk with us so we focused a lot on visiting members and housing. That was great, we found a couple new investigators that have return appointments coming up. That's exciting. When it wasn't raining it was ridiculously
humid, so I still got soaked. It looks like we might have a pretty rough typhoon here pretty soon! I'm excited, but if it is anything like the other typhoons that I have experienced here my mission, we won't take much of a hit. 

Some big news is that within the next two weeks the mission will be getting Facebook back. I am both excited and apprehensive. There are a lot of great investigators that we will get to "resurrect" and I am excited to use Facebook during a time when I am a better missionary, but there are some missionaries that used to use Facebook as a waste of time. I guess we are not immune to the disease that devours hours and hours of time on social media! I am worried that some in my district may struggle with that. I'm sure that there will be an improvement curve.
This past week I got to go on splits with a member of my MTC district. He just barely moved into my district. That was really fun! I haven't seen him for almost a year and then he moves to my district! We talked for a long time--it was interesting to compare our experiences. Despite the fact that we have been here for the same amount of time and in the same mission, his experiences have been FAR different from mine. While we were on splits we went and surprise-visited a member of the bishopric and got the privilege to serve him and his family. We pulled out a tree (I will send a picture when I get them). We also got to talk to his neighbor and invite him to church. Before we visited them we tried to visit a different family near the same area. We spent almost an hour riding around trying to find the house. We couldn't find it anywhere and we were dying and pretty much swimming in sweat (there are a lot of BIG hills... like the Japanese classify them as mountains!) and a little bit frustrated, so we said a prayer and went into a convenient apartment building and started housing. It wasn't long until someone talked to us (first miracle, you can go a day without people wanting to talk to you or giving you the time of day). His name is H-san. He cracked the door and suspiciously asked us if we were members of the Jehovah's Witness sect. We responded negatively, but that we had a message about our Savior Jesus Christ and His love for him. He swung the door open wide and listened to our message. I could see he felt the Spirit so I invited him to accept a visit from us the following week. He said he would be there waiting for us. That was a miracle! However now my companion isn't very happy because it looks like we are scheduled to ride to his house right in the middle of a downpour. Oh well, we will go all the way out there and we will tell H-San about his Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ in the rain. Can't wait!

Another fun experience from the week was going on splits with another elder who lived with me during my second transfer. He is about to go home, but it was a great reunion and we talked a lot. We talked about some of the defining moments in our missions have been thus far. It was an interesting topic and one that I have thought a lot about since. I don't think that I can pinpoint specific moments--I guess I change so gradually I don't notice the difference. There's got to be a time or some '"moments" where I've changed.

Something that came up in my studies this week was spiritual gifts. The prophet Joseph Smith said that everyone has spiritual gifts from God. They aren't always visible or developed, but they are there and can be realized. He also said that through righteousness and prayer we can know what those gifts are through the Spirit. I want to know what mine are. They certainly aren't readily apparent. I have no idea what they might be, but I want to know. I am surrounded by some amazing people with readily apparent gifts in this mission, so I can see a lot of the gifts I don't have! Those gifts are given to us that we may use them to bless others. I want to find mine so that I can bless others.

I'm grateful for this week and the miracles I have seen and experiences I have had.

I love you all!

- Elder Siebach

Monday, July 6, 2015

Sticking it Out

Dear Family,

I have very little time to write today! We started a new transfer this week. I am still with Elder M. I am excited.
We did a lot of housing this week and found a few investigators. That was pretty good. M-San came to church unexpectedly. That was a blessing. We had a good lesson with him. His wife isn't happy about him going to church. They seem to have neglected their relationship for the past 30 years. We are really trying to help him and are praying for him. He is such a good person.

Today I said goodbye to my old companion Elder W for what might be last time on my mission. That was sad, but he is ready to go home! I'm excited for him!

Today my companion and I were housing and nobody wanted to hear from us, which is sadly pretty typical, but my companion and I decided to stop and pray for guidance. We asked that God would guide us and speak through us as well as allow us to see a miracle. After our prayer it came to mind that, as in most of the experiences I have had on my mission where nothing was happening, it is often after long persistence and at the last minute that the miracle comes. We continued housing and did see a miracle! It was a testimony to me of persistence in following revelation to the end. We had planned the night before when and where we were going to house and felt that it was right. The miracle came only after we persisted to the end (within the last five minutes of our allotted housing time). Pretty cool!

Mom thank you for the package! I already ate all the candy.... I had been craving all things American for the past week or so!

Happy fourth!
Love Y'all!

Elder Siebach