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