Sunday, January 24, 2016

God Taught Me a Lesson

Dear family!

How are y'all! This past week was pretty dang good. We had five people at church which is one of the higher numbers I've had on my mission! It was great!

Throughout my mission I have never really been able to work closely with less actives. Whenever I visited they usually weren't there or they were very very angry at the church (one even got violent). Recently I have felt like I have been spending so much time with investigators that less actives were being ignored. I never really felt prompted to work with them, but I figured that that was because I never really thought about them. Because of that and I felt like we should, we planned a night full of visiting a bunch of less active members. We had a lot of people to visit with very little time so we didn't even stop to talk to many people on our way (I felt really bad about that). It turns out that, like all of my experiences before, they were all gone or had zero interest in church or talking to missionaries. Over the course of the night I was really doubting my feelings the night before during planning. I had felt like we should do what we were doing, but no one was talking to us and we were passing a bunch of people on our way. Finally we only had one more name for the night. A 70+ year old sister that lived in a big apartment building near a train station. Even if she was there and invited us in we wouldn't be able to teach her. We knocked on her door and a middle aged Korean man opened the door and turns out that he was incredibly prepared! When he opened the door I felt like I was in the right place at exactly the right time. God was getting us there, it just took a long time and required a lot of faith in previously received revelation! It was awesome! Who knows if that man will progress, we haven't been able to set a return appointment with him yet, but I know that the gospel can improve a lot of very apparent parts of his life (in reality it can infinitely improve all of them) and we were able to promise him that. Hopefully we have a lesson with him soon, but God taught me a very valuable lesson through him. I still don't really know what to do about less actives, but I feel like the Lord is guiding me and that is all that is important!

This week we got transfer calls! I am staying with a new companion Elder Poffenberger. I am bumped down to junior companion with a district leader trainer assignment! So my companion is the new district leader and I get to show him how to do things! That's really exciting! My current companion will be going to my first area, Machida 1! I will miss my beloved Elder Menzawa!

This week I presented my ideas to the ward council and they loved it! We are having a family Meet the Mormons movie night on the 27th!

I love Y'all!

Shout out to Dad for your birthday! Love you pops!

Elder Siebach

Our ward mission leader

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Happy Birthday to Me!

Dear family, 

I will send you some parts of my letter to the mission president today. It sums up a little bit of the week pretty nicely.

Right now it seems as if my companion is struggling a lot with stress. When I talked to Sister Wada last night she mentioned that the intensity and way that we dendo might be getting to him a little bit. We have been working pretty hard and I think we have gotten to work inspired together a couple times. We have seen tons of miracles together with a lot of new investigators. I have really learned about how hard work, though at the time might not seem productive, will pay off in the end. Three of last week's five new investigators were people that we met a while ago and then were able to set up lessons with this week! Really exciting stuff! 

We also got a referral from the ward a couple weeks ago. He is a 13 year old boy name T. His mother is very active but due to his father's opposition he hasn't been able to get baptized. His father is now out of the picture so we were able to meet up with him on Saturday and teach him a lesson. He said yes to a soft commitment, so we are excited to help him on to the covenant path here in the very near future!

Two months ago this district had 4 new investigators. Last month we tripled it with 12, and now we have already surpassed 12 by a lot this month. We are starting to see the fruits of that with some more progressing investigators coming into the mix as well! We need to start working on our church attendance though. That number has been hovering around 1 and 0 for that past couple weeks. I'm going to push member present lessons a lot and make sure that all three companionships are doing everything they can to help investigators build relationships with the ward members. 

The Kamiooka Ward, despite our suggestion of 20, has set the yearly baptismal goal of 10. That is unfortunate, but I have made sure that they are well aware of the missionary goal of one per companionship per month. However, for this small ward 10 is still a lot and will take a lot of effort on the ward's part. I think what they are really trying to do is create a need for a new phase 2 building. I feel like an increase in church attendance has two main parts to it, that is reactivation and bringing in new people. I have made two suggestions to the ward. 

leveled up "Meet the Mormons" activity.
- This movie is centered around families and the influence that the gospel has on family life. It seems to be targeted specifically at families and is very appealing.
- I suggested that a movie night would be a very easy event to invite member's family friends (entire families) to. 
- After the movie the member families can invite the nonmember families to church or to hearing more from missionaries.
- This activity would be far more effective as a member run event, scheduled for times when members and nonmembers can attend. 
- If the members are bold and it is effective, this could be done every other month, and possibly result in entire family baptisms
- I also had the idea of assigning certain families to actually bring their friends, becoming a calling or responsibility and not just an idea. That might be a little bit extreme

Remembrance meeting 
- following quorum and relief society, meetings where they brainstorm up a few names of people that should have been at church but were not.
- this is primarily aimed at reactivation but could also apply to finding new people
- The group decides on two or three names and assigns members to visit them that week with missionaries

Those are ideas that I was able to tell my ward mission leader, the first councilor in the bishopric, and the Elders Quorum President, yesterday. It was received well by the first councilor and the Elders Quorum President, but not super well by the ward mission leader. I plan on talking to the rest of the bishopric and the relief society president over the course of the week

That is a picture of some of my ward planning! We have our work cut out for us here in Kamiooka! But it is a lot of fun. I have come to really like this place! This Saturday we have transfer emails! I will probably stay here, but I think my companion will leave. If he doesn't he might go crazy! 

Love y'all! 

Elder Siebach

Three of our progressing investigators:

Monday, January 11, 2016

Finding, Funerals and a Flight Plan

Dear Family,

This week was great! So much happened and I want to write about all of it! It started on Monday with some tennis and a few other lessons. I taught a man that is convinced that he is the child of Satan and feels like Satan's plan was the better way. That was a tough lesson and I am afraid that I wasn't able to help him very much. I could feel the Spirit though and I am sure he could too (in a teaching situation God never edifies just the teacher, he sends the Spirit to both), but he didn't open his heart to what was being said. He is still pretty miserable.

That same night I tried to call a less active and typed the wrong number in (it was God's will) and a man living out side of our mission answered. Not realizing the mistake, I proceeded as if I were speaking with a less active. It took a while for me to realize that he hadn't just forgotten. Turns out the man is the son of a Protestant preacher and has grown up being told that Mormons are evil. It took a long time (over an hour on the phone) and a lot of talking to break down those walls, but now we have a lesson appointment with him on Thursday :).

The next day on Tuesday we did a lot of finding and got a new investigator (and found three others who would become new investigators later that week).

Wednesday was a long day of New Year's cleaning. That was awful, but rewarding. Thanks to my 19 years of growing up under Dad's tutelage, our stove and kitchen in general sparkle like new. We had English class later that night.

Thursday was pretty fun. We forgot to plan time for weekly planning, so we just found the entire time. That day we found another man that became a new investigator yesterday. He is very, very Muslim and felt the need to put down Christianity a lot when we ran into him. Unfortunately he only speaks English, which my companion doesn't speak a lick of, so I was the only one talking, but I bore testimony to him about prophets and the importance of studying the words of all of them (he, like most Muslims, despite only ever reading Muhammad's writings, professes a belief in the writings of all prophets). I told him that he was missing a lot of facts about God and therefore filling them in with his own ideas. Then I bore testimony about the Book of Mormon. I think he was humbled. We will meet him again next week!

Saturday we rode bikes to a far away part of our area and did our best to find. We didn't get any contact information and we were ignored by almost everybody we met. While we were riding home, out of the blue I had a feeling that I needed to call a certain sister in our ward that I had never talked to before. Turns out that her son and daughter are both not baptized because of opposition from the father. He left the picture a couple weeks ago so she asked us to teach her children! We will meet with the family on Saturday! That was a huge miracle. I am so grateful for the guidance of the Spirit!

On Sunday we went to church then went to a wake for a member of the ward who just died. We all went to his house to spend time with his family. Little did I know that his body would still be there! His body was lying in a futon in their tatami room! I almost stumbled on him when we walked in! That was one of the most startling experiences of my mission! After that we spent the rest of the night in the hospital! When I played tennis somehow I cut up my toe. I thought it would be fine and woke up the next morning and it was very infected. I then thought it would heal naturally over the course of the week but it's only gotten worse! Finally I went to the hospital for it. It was and still is pretty painful!

Yesterday we went to the funeral and then taught lessons for the rest of the day! That was awesome! Still no baptismal dates but lots of progressing investigators ready for it!

Also I got my death letter this week. I fly home Friday, June 3rd.

Love y'all!

Elder Siebach

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A Sobering But Not-So-Sober New Year

Dear beloved family!

Thank you so much for the Christmas package that could only have been created with love! Y'all are the best!

This past week was one full of meals at members houses and drunk people! We talked to a lot of very open people that were either heading to or from a drinking party. I'm sure Japanese New Years rivals German October fest. It is just amazing how much liquor these people drink! One interesting thing is that when someone dies, for the next week or so, in commemoration of the fallen, they put flowers and things that the dead person liked in the place where they died. On January 2 my companion and I counted 7 little piles of flowers with beer cans all around them. We can only assume that they drank themselves to death. Kind of startling!

This week we found some good people and some good investigators that we will hopefully be able to work with from here, taught a bunch of lessons on the street, and have been seeing lots of miracles! My companion complains that I walk too fast and never take a break and stuff, but I think that's a good indicator of working hard!

This winter is very warm. A lot warmer than last year! That's a good thing! Not much else to report but hey, I love y'all so much and I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Years break!

Elder Siebach

The view from my apartment :)
A zoomed-in view from my apartment