Monday, August 3, 2015

Sifting Through the Clutter

31 Flavors!
Hello family! 

Thank you for the emails! It sounds like y'all have had quite the adventures these past few weeks and everything has all turned out!

There isn't a ton of news from this side of the world. Just same old same old. A lot of people that I talk to have kindly informed me that this is the hottest summer in 140 years and that I am a hard worker for being out in it doing what I am doing. That's nice of them. I have found that I am actually pretty well informed out here with regards to news and weather and things of that nature. A lot of Japanese people spend the vast majority of their free time on their phones or on TV. So when I talk to them then they often blurt out whatever is dancing around on the surface of their mind, which is usually what they were looking at most recently on their phones. No wonder, when I ask, they usually tell me that they have never thought about God or the purpose of life or some of the deeper topics of discussion. There is so much clutter on the surface that there is no time to focus on what's under it. I have learned a lot from the Japanese people. 

I am so grateful for the part of my mission where I come out changed. I think that there are many aspects to a mission and one of them is the part where you change others, or help them change themselves. There is also another part where you (I) change. I am grateful for both, but right now I want to talk about one of the ways that I have changed. I have learned to ponder. As I said earlier there is a lot of clutter in this world, lots of notifications and tweets and posts and newsflashes and popups and latests and disasters and jobs and friends... All of which are good (well, ok...disasters aren't good), but they aren't always good. Before I came on a mission I was really into my phone, the Internet, TV the point that I would just spend all of my free time focusing on those and I couldn't truly ponder. It was as if my mind was itching for the latest text message, Facebook post, tweet, anything to think about. On my mission that has changed. I can be still and think and hear the voice of the Spirit in my life. That is something that I have learned here. So many of the people that I have tried to talk to have been too engrossed in their phones or music or something to listen to what I have to say. I realized that I was the same way. I feel like our Heavenly Father is always trying to talk to us, always trying to send us revelation, and it's up to us to just be quiet and still for long enough to receive and recognize it.

One of the elders in my apartment will be transferring to the mission office as an office elder this Tuesday so my companion and I will absorb his old companion and be a threesome for the next week and a half until transfers! That's exciting because now we are taking on the work load of two very busy areas. It will be a challenge to balance that out. On Monday we now have seven lessons planned! That might be a record for me! We also have a baptism this coming Saturday for a great man named Baba-san. We are pumped for that! He is wonderful and will be a really strong member and missionary. He already invites all his friends to hear the lessons!

This week we did a lot of finding and a lot of teaching as your typical missionary will do. We saw a lot of miracles and got to teach a lot of people on the front step of their houses. One of the people we found and taught we had to turn over to the sisters in our area and she already has a baptismal date scheduled! She was incredibly prepared. She will be baptized sometime next month.

Kanagawa District
This past week I came across a lot of great scriptures in my studies. One that I loved was in Mosiah 9. This is actually the record of Zeniff who went to claim the Nephite's lands of inheritance. He and his people are fighting the Lamanites and, although outnumbered, manage to kill 3000 Lamanites with a loss of only 280 Nephites. The scripture that I love talks about the most important part of their preparation for battle.

17 Yea, in the strength of the Lord did we go forth to battle against the Lamanites; for I and my people did cry mightily to the Lord that he would deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, for we were awakened to a remembrance of the deliverance of our fathers.

I am learning that it is absolutely necessary to cry mightily to the Lord. One other thing that I have learned on my mission is that it is rare for God to change our situation. Of course he can and does remove barriers and hinderances from our path, but he leaves a lot more of them right where they are. If you think about it, what do we gain or learn if all of the hard things in life just disappear? Rather, he gives us the strength to overcome or change our circumstances and in so doing allows us to learn and grow. He gives us the strength to lift our burdens. I have learned that on my mission. I have had opposition, a lot of it, and instead of seeing it go away when I pray, it has stayed. It took a long time for me to realize that after you pray and cry mightily to the Lord, then you just man up and face your problems and do everything you can do to overcome them. Then you watch as He provides the strength, after yours is exhausted, that gets you over the hill. I have literally been helped over real hills (Yokohama is full of them and we live on top of a huge one) when I am exhausted and feel as if I only have strength left to pray for help. Then, oh how great is your joy when you realize that you--with the help of the Lord--overcame all that stood in front of you! I have a testimony that He is there waiting to strengthen us. We may be disappointed when we open our eyes after praying and behold the mountains still in front of us, but I just have to remember that it is for my benefit, and there is nothing that we are asked to do that we can't do without the Lord's help.

Love y'all!

Elder Siebach

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