Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Highest Highs and Lowest Lows

Wow. This week was awful. It was pretty rough but alright until today.On the way home from the temple, waiting at the Hiroo station, I watched a woman fall in front of the train and get run over. Dang... I would say I hope she is ok, but she has to be dead. I don't really know what to think right now, much less what to say...

I guess I will just tell you about my week. It was quite the roller coaster.

On Monday we taught two lessons to two of our progressing investigators. One of them, J, did not have a baptismal date but we were able to set one with him for March 5. The next lesson was to our investigator with a date, K. In preparation for this lesson we prayed and both felt like we should teach the word of wisdom to him. So we did, but due to the lateness of the hour we had to leave in order to get home for curfew. We weren't able to teach the commandment as thoroughly as I would have liked, but we just did our best to do what God wanted us to. K-san had a problem with Coffee and Tea, and we weren't able to address it completely. Because of the pressure he felt with this new commandment that he didn't quite understand plus the pressure of preparing for baptism on March 5, his mental state got worse and worse and he kind of freaked out at us. When we got to the church the following morning (Tuesday) for a lesson, we saw a lot of messages from him saying not to contact him and not to go over to his house ever again. So we spent a lot of time trying to help him and overcome this problem. Later that afternoon he called us again and apologized. That night he sent us a message that was a little bit hard to understand, but mentioned that when he sees a picture of my us (our family) that I have on the back of my iPad he remembers his friend that he watched commit suicide with a train. So Elder Murakami and Elder Poffenberger went over there that night and talked to him. K-san talked a little bit about his mental illness. I don't understand everything, but it sounds like his mind comes up with a lot more ideas than normal people's minds. He can see an object and come up with a lot more memories and thoughts connected to that object than your average person. Sounds like this mental illness is both a pretty big gift as well as a pretty debilitating problem depending on how well you control it. So that is K. He is still a progressing investigator and still has a date that he is very aware of. We might postpone or release him from that date in order to ease pressure. I am really grateful that we felt prompted to teach the word of wisdom, because through this experience God taught us a lot about K San. All of which will prove useful as we try to bring him into the fold. We have a lesson with him tonight. That Tuesday was super emotionally rough though.

Then we got stood up for over 2/3s of the lesson appointments that we had, which was really annoying. With all of that extra time we hit the streets and talked to so many people but all of them either weren't interested or actually very opposed to the fact that we were trying to talk to people about religion. We got yelled at, spit on, pushed, and
I even got punched!

Then on Saturday we had a baptism which was pretty great. Sunday we got stood up again a couple times and did some good housing.

Yesterday we dendoed hard and then 10 minutes before meeting him we got dumped by J! My beloved communist who was my hope! So disappointing! Then I went to the temple today with a ton of questions and pent up emotion and had an amazing experience. I feel like I got a lot of revelation and answers from God and a lot of peace. I have been worried about a lot of things, then a week of stress and let downs added to that, but the temple proved to be the very experience that I needed. I left feeling refreshed, comforted, revived and directed, and overjoyed at the blessings that are afforded us through the temple and the atonement.

Then I watched a lady get hit by a train. That was the biggest low so far.

I know that there is a purpose to this, I know there is a reason that God is showing me these things. He is putting me through the wringer, but through it I can feel him refining me! Pray for me that I will learn what he is trying to teach and that I won't get too frustrated!

I know I have shared this scripture before and I know that you probably don't think it is super significant but I find a lot of hope in it! 

3 Nephi 17:
1 Behold, now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he looked round about again on the multitude, and he said unto them: Behold, my time is at hand.

2 I perceive that ye are weak, that ye cannot understand all my words which I am commanded of the Father to speak unto you at this time.

3 Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again.

I love the instructions that the savior gives us in order to prepare for the revelation that he is trying to give us and I especially love that he says he will come back on the morrow. I imagine that these Nephites were pretty frustrated with themselves as they listened to Christ speak to them and not understanding what he was saying, and then I can imagine the relief and gratitude in their hearts as he said "don't worry I will come again to morrow and try again! Just prepare!" I love that!

I look forward to what this week has in store and am filled with gratitude for a loving family and my beloved friends who all seem genki!

Love you all!
Elder Siebach

Monday, February 15, 2016

Gomen-nasai ("I'm Sorry")

Hello beloved family! We have had a great week and are getting ready for an even better one that will have the grand finale of a baptism on Saturday! It is going to be an incredibly exciting week!

This past week I have learned about the miracle of forgiveness. I grew up being taught to always forgive (in my case I guess I was more often told to apologize) those that did me wrong. We are commanded by Christ himself to forgive everyone, but I have never really noticed just how hard that really is! Nor have I realized just how important forgiveness is for the eternal progression of the agent and the recipient. Repentance causes one to leave behind the old self in an effort to become someone new and better. Every week we take the sacrament that we may be enabled to do just that, constantly. Being forgiven is being allowed by those around you to change! Can you imagine trying to repent for something you did, but those around you never forgive you and let it go? Imagine the frustration and the barrier that that becomes to you as you try to improve yourself! I think that every single one of us experiences this to a certain degree as we go through life! Everyone has been the one repenting and the one not forgiving! I have felt that recently. I have been out on a mission for more than 20 months now, and have changed a lot. Yet there are still people at home that can see me only as the 19 year old dude I was almost two years ago! There are some missionaries in my mission that I have never met, just hear rumors and stories about. No matter what I do those stories affect the way I see and interact with them in the future. I especially have a tendency to hang on to that for a long time and never fully let it go.

I am sorry for the barrier that I may have become for others and hope that they will forgive me and I am grateful for the wonderful examples I have in my life, of those who forgive freely. I am so grateful for every individual experience in which I have been forgiven and released. I love you! Have a great week :)

Elder Siebach

We got a German-to-Japanese dictionary from one of our investigators. It is useless to us since we don't really speak either of those languages (haha!!), but he thinks it is cool that my companion and I have a bit of German in us!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Birthdays, Engagements and "the Love of God"

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOOT! I love you so much!

Wow!!! Big news! Congratulations Spencer on getting engaged and stuff! That's pretty exciting! I hope you have a wonderful engagement and wedding and stuff! I'll be here just doin' my thang! I have never really had a wedding this close to me before... Am I supposed to do something special? I know if I were there I would without a doubt be the best man (right? ;) ) and give a toast and a bachelor party and all that, but the date is strategically timed in such a way that I can't really do that. Gomen-nasai!

This week was FANTASTIC! I haven't had this productive of a week in a long time! We found a LOT of new people. We met with almost all of our investigators and we got two new baptismal dates set! One of our Chinese investigators is being a punk and not choosing a date. He is kinda like Shrek. He has a lot of layers that we have to get through! He gets closer every time we meet! We also had the area president come and visit our mission and give an amazing conference. I learned so much and he said so many things that were both validating, praising, and gave me ideas on how to improve further! It was so exciting! He talked a lot about revelation. The coolest experience this week was feeling like I needed to invite a man we had just run into to be baptized on March 5! That was pretty cool! He was really feeling good about it so he said he would be baptized but would decide on a date later. My companion and I were both pretty shocked that everything happened the way it did! This week the scariest thing was almost getting smashed into a concrete wall by a bus while riding my bike! I was a quarter of an inch away from being a very bloody pancake! I know God protected me big time though!

I have been perusing the scriptures recently and I just finished 3 Nephi and 4 Nephi! 4 Nephi is a wonderful little part of the Book of Mormon that manages to squeeze about 300 years into a mere 49 verses. Over the course of which a perfect society thrives and then crashes and burns, thrusting a civilization into the American equivalent of the dark ages! What a crazy chapter/book! But in it there is so much that can be learned! I love verse 15 which says

"And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people."

There was no contention, which we learn is actually an influence of the devil (3 Nephi 11:29), in all the land! And that was due to the fact that the love of God did dwell in the hearts of the people. What a wonderful state to be in! Wonderful and yet so difficult to achieve and maintain! If you love God, then it necessarily follows that you love the stuff he loves! Which is you and me and everyone and everything! And what happens? No fighting, no backbiting, no cheating, no stealing, no pride, no selfishness, no lust, no jealousy, in fact what happens is you find yourself, like the wonderful people of God, happier than any other people created by God. That is pretty crazy! I find myself saying that I love God all the time, but only showing through my actions some of the time. I would love to get better at that! 

I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week! 

Elder Siebach

Today was Chinese New Years so of course we took a little trip to China town with some of my favorite people in the mission! You might recognize some faces from the MTC, my fifth transfer and my time in Hachioji!