Elder Cooper Siebers has been called to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He will serve for 24 months in the Brazil, Rio de Janeiro mission. He enters the Provo, Utah Missionary Training Center on 10 July 2013.

Monday, October 28, 2013

16. Gilbert AZ

28 October 2013

Hello family and friends that are basically family. I hope this email finds everyone swell. Life is pretty easy here in Gilbert. We have so many awesome members that just hand us food all day. I'm not spending much on groceries at all!

Weekly Recap:

On Monday our zone finally got our act together and had a zone activity and a local farm. We went through a corn maze, and rode in barrel carts dragged by a quad. It was pretty decent.

That night we had a lesson with J once more at the P's. Its been a little intimidating the last few lessons, because the girlfriend of their missionary son has come home from her mission and she's been sitting in on the lessons. She seems like she was a very effective sister missionary.  She's really cool and has been offering some great suggestions to help us improve.  In this lesson we emphasized the importance of the Book of Mormon in her conversion process. We also had some awesome Mormon Messages at our disposal which she said helped her a lot.

Tuesdays are always the roughest days for me. After the pday festivities it can be hard to get back to work, not to mention the dreaded greenie and district meetings we have first thing that morning that make me feel like such an inadequate missionary. Got to love that... Not to mention one of our lessons was a no show. So yeah.... great day

Wednesday ended up being a fairly interesting day. I believe I wrote you all about a family that had us over for THREE hours that one time? I said that the dinner wasn't a waste if something good came out of it, and sure enough something happened. The mom called me on Tuesday.  She asked elder H and I to come over, give them blessings and offer suggestions. We were there for about two hours talking to the mom and her 17 year old son who WANTS to go on a mission. We talked tons on ways to spiritually strengthen their family. We've been sending them reminders every single night to do their scripture reading and their family prayers. We need to get another ward family in there to help them after we are gone.

We asked B. if she would set up a big service project and we had the ENTIRE zone over (14 missionaries) for a few hours doing a hodgepodge of repairs, cleaning, digging and constructing. One of our other members was driving by, saw us working, and then brought tons of Pizza and gatorades over! IT WAS AWESOME. Everyone in the zone is so jealous of our members here. They really do love and take care of us!

We had a lesson that night with one of our investigators who struggles understanding the Book of Mormon. We read with him for and hour and a half and got 3rd Nephi 11 out of the way. Only several hundred chapters left! Not really though, were hoping that after a couple nights of this he'll have a good understanding of what the book is all about. He has a hefty work schedule so we don't get to see him too often :(

On Friday we were back over to the P's with J once again. This time we got some nice one on one time with just her. We've been trying everything we can think of to get her to see the big picture. We invited a member of the ward (G) who was a convert to the church and she has had many of the same struggles that J does. She said some amazing stuff and was very direct with some of the things that we were afraid to tell her. See, J's whole deal is that she feels like her baptism was complete. She feels like she already received the gift of the Holy Ghost. The best line of the night was from G [regarding receiving the Holy Ghost] "I thought so too...... Hun, you don't got it".

The room fell silent.

Then J said, "I'm going to have to pray about that!"

The whole zone got together for another service project. This family wanted every single room in their house painted another color so we spent 4 hours painting which was really fun!

We brought J to a baptism. We are bringing her to the Visitors Center tonight to see the temple and to watch the Restoration movie.

Sundays are always awesome. I love being at church, seeing the investigators and the less active  make their way to Sacrament meeting.. We had 2 of our 3 less active friends at church which made me feel awesome!

The highlight of Sunday was this older single sister who came up to us and prasied us for our comments in Relief Society last week regarding Hastening the Work. She said shes was really surprised that us two "youngins" were so inspiring and so articulate. She said, " that must be why you two are going to Brazil". That made me feel good

So its Monday again. Elder H I, along with the elders that live with us are going to a member's house later to make Halloween food and play fuseball, pingpong, air hockey and pool in their basement. Should be fun!

 Lastly, as I've been thinking about the possibility that I may be leaving here, I've been really sad. I know I've expressed this already but leaving behind the work, the families, the relationships, the food, the easy communication, the language is all going to be quite depressing.

And on that note...

See ya! :)

Elder Siebs

Here is part of what I said to Cooper in my letter tonight:  

This time in Arizona has been so good for you.  I KNOW that YOU know that.  I hope that when the time does come for you to leave, and when you may start missing Arizona, please see that your time there was a gift.  It was not something you were expecting, and it came by quite a surprise.  It’s not a place that sounds exotic or exciting, and based on the number of members there one could even think it may be boring.  But that was not the case.  Instead, your Heavenly Father provided you with a gift in putting people in your path to teach you.  Likewise, he put people in your path upon which YOU will leave a lasting impression.   You have learned so much and gained a tremendous amount of confidence in your ability to teach and share the gospel.  Take that with you.  Be grateful for the gift and be enthused and ready to take on the next challenge.  Be grateful that you are heading to Brazil with that teaching confidence.  Yes, you will learn a new culture in a new language- and in some ways it may feel like you are starting over.  DO NOT let this get you down.  You have already become an amazing missionary and once the culture has a few days to settle in, you will be serving the people of Brazil like no one else can.  No one else has the same skills, talent and gifts in the same combinations and ratios that you do.  Wherever you are a week from now, just remember that The Lord is mindful of you and he is mindful of those that you would teach.  It is all going to be good- I promise.  Go Forth with Faith.

Monday, October 21, 2013

15. Gilbert AZ

21 October 2013

So I'm halfway done with my second transfer out in the field. And I celebrated my 100th day out in the field. Woot. Things are going so well here in Gilbert Arizona, and I have to let you know, and this is going to sound a bit strange, but I'm not ready to leave. I would love to spend another transfer or two here before I leave, but that can only mean one thing. I must be leaving for Brazil this transfer. I'm have been getting quite depressed at the thought of leaving so soon. There are so many families and projects I am working on and am so invested in that it would break my heart to have to leave already. I NEVER thought I would be feeling like this, but sure enough....

So this week has been mostly dedicated to teaching J and her kids. We met on Monday night, Friday night, Sunday night and we are meeting tonight as well. The kids are progressing well and they should be baptized soon. J is going to take a little longer I think, but she really enjoys speaking with us and she says that she knows the things we are telling her are true. She's a very intelligent woman who has searched and study the Bible for years. Shes looking for concrete evidence that book the Book of Mormon and the Bible do indeed testify of each other. She also wants to know what give the apostles there "badge of authority" in regards to the priesthood. She doesnt completely understand how these men who live in the world could indeed be in fact prophets. She agrees with the Jospeh Smith story, but shes a little more hestitant to the prophets there after.

The P family have been AMAZING through all of this. They really are my home away from home. I believe mom has been talking to her quite a bit. [Indeed I have, see my comments below.] Shes a pretty crafty lady herself so you guys will make great friends anywho. We are planning on going to the Mesa temple visitor center here soon. fun stuf! We are also having Halloween night over at their house along with j and a less active member that we have been trying to meet in ANOTHER ward that we cover. Yeah. Told you the P family was amazing. They even help us with members not of their ward. They had no idea we covered her ward as well and that we've been stopping by their house EVERY week with no success. We finally got to talk to her a bit last night.

A lot of other miracoulous things have taken place this week. I truly can't believe the members here. They are so involved in missionary work and they are really an inspiration to me. Last night we had a fireside for the ENTIRE mission. President Nattress wanted EVERY single companionship to be there. The catch is that you can only come if you bring investigators, recent converts or less actives. We took up a whole row. I really shouldn't be bragging, but its just a testimony to me about how blessed our area is, how awesome the P's are, and how hard we really are working. Elder H and I make a great team. We both have a lot of faith and desire ... and its working. I just cant describe in words how happy I am right now. Every now and then I do miss some things, but I know how much my mission is beginning to mean for me and my life. There is NOWHERE I'd rather be right now than here in Gilbert.

I love my mission.
I love all of you!

Elder siebers

[So, as most/all of you know, Cooper is our only son and the first missionary to leave our house.  We are kind of new to this whole missionary parent thing.  I am learning so much!  

We have had the missionaries that were assigned to Canton in our home for YEARS... I mean YEARS.  We were so excited in 1998 when missionaries were assigned to our town, as we had not previously had them.  When the kids were little we had them over for dinner all the time.  But, as the kids got older, we got busier AND our little ward had grown such that there were now LOTS of families who could enjoy the company of our missionaries.... so I only have myself to blame when I admit that we haven't had them in our home that much in the last couple of years.  But all that is going to change...

If you go back to this post you will remember that a "mom" in Gilbert sent me a photo and text about 3 days after Cooper arrived in Gilbert.  We hadn't even heard from him yet ourselves.  It was such a great thing to wake up one morning and see this photo of my son and his new companion.... and it truly moved me to tears that another mom 2500 miles away had had the sense to be so kind as to take this photo and ask Elder Siebers for his mom's phone number.  Sister P is a great woman I am sure of it.  I am sure she comes by this naturally.  But in a sense we are also sharing all of this experience together as her own 19 year old son is serving a mission in North Dakota.  (Arizona boy called to North Dakota,  New England boy called to Rio with a stop in AZ- sometimes I have to wonder about the Lord's sense of humor.)  Anyway, Sister P is going through the exact same things we are- missing her own son who has been out less than a year, and looking forward to these once a week emails on Mondays.  

Last Friday I received a text from her asking me what Cooper's favorite snacks treats were.  She fed him and Elder H pizza that night and then sent them home with ALL of their favorites- but she didn't let them leave until she had a photo to send to the moms again.

THIS is why Cooper calls her and her family his "home away from home".  

This is what it means to be a ward family, a Church family, all united in the Gospel, all sisters and brothers, children of our Heavenly Father.]

Elder Siebers and Elder H.

Monday, October 14, 2013

14. Gilbert AZ

14 October 2013
Hello everyone! I hope everyone is doing well!

This was my first week leading the area and it went pretty well.

Monday- The highlight of Monday was going over to the C's that night with Sister A., she deeply appreciated us setting it up for her.

Tuesday- Tuesday was a bit of a disapointing day. We were supposed to go to give a blessing to a nonmember with the 1st Counselor of one of our wards. We were all riding over when we found her walking on the sidewalk heading to the park. She had completely forgotten about the appointment and we rescheduled for later that day. We were waiting at his house for her to show up at the new time but she still didnt show up. Major let down. Who knows what could have happened with her...We had kind of based our entire day around that so not much happened besides a few member and less active visits.

Wednesday was also fairly depressing. The wind was crazy here and there was dust flying all up in my eyes. Not to mention the difficulty of riding a bike when the wind is pushing so hard against you! Anywho, Elder H wiped out on the sidewalk which was pretty stinking hilarious. He's a funny guy and we get along really well.

Elder Siebers and Elder H.

That night we had the misfortune of moving J and her family out of her house. She's our prime investigator and shes moving out of the mission! What the heck!? Not all hope is lost though. We tend to stick to the fellowship and since she will continue to attend our ward we will continue to teach her.  In our last lesson with her we had a pretty cool experience. She had only read a few chapters in the Book of Mormon when she told us about a dream that she had five or six years ago. She said that she clearly remembers this dream because of the way she felt in it. She was standing in a field and she was just looking at this magnificent tree. She had no clue why looking at this tree made her feel os incredible but the dream has stuck with her ever since. Sound familiar? Now she had NO clue about Lehi's Vision or the Tree of Life, and Elder H and I really don't know what made her share this dream with us, but we are sure glad she did!!! We shared with her just a smidge of Lehi's Dream and the Tree of Life as a teaser. We assigned her to read that chapter to hopefully strengthen her testimony of the Book of Mormon. We're meeting with her tonight, so I hope it goes well.  

Lehi's Dream and the Vision of the Tree of Life

Thursday- We had interviews with President Nattress along with training. We were in the stake center practically all day. My interview went really well, I really do love President Nattress. For me, I think he's exactly what I could ever want in a mission president. He's lax. put a lot in trust in us, and is extremely loving. I asked him to give me some practical advice when leading and working an area.We just made some more member visits and less active visits that night.

Friday and Saturday were also dedicated to meeting more of the members and less active families.

The Ps are a couple that we've been visiting just about every week since I've been here. This week I just decided to go all out and bear my testimony. I think it hit  harder than anything that we had previously shared.

Sunday was fast and testimony meetings. We had so many investigators show up for sacrament meeting which was fantastic. One of the wards fasted for A, one of our investigators. . The Cs also showed up to church. That was probably the best part of it all!

I'm excited for the week ahead. We have three truly amazing wards and they really have our backs. My testimony of the gospel seems to grow each and every single day I'm out here. Whats really stuck with me the most since I've been out here is how I can be a member missionary for life. I think a lot of members just attend church as do their callings, but the most important work we will ever partake in is the bringing of others into the light of gospel.

Well, Thats all for now!
Love you all!

Elder Siebers


Monday, October 7, 2013

13. Gilbert AZ

7 October 2013

All righty then everyone. I have a lot of things to tell and a lot of questions to answer and not enough time to do it in. We'll start with the Weekly Recap.

Monday- After the Pday festivities which included Elder P's debit card getting stolen at Walmart right before we were gonna withdraw MY funds that I had on there... The thief made a transaction of $84 and then $11 in just 20 minutes. He works fast! Funny enough I had exactly $95 on his card of my own funds. To sum up the story-$95 dollars was stolen from me that was in the care of someone else's card, and then that Elder (Elder P) got transferred to the complete other side of the mission..... yay. We gotta figure that out!  [This is complicated, I will try to explain the best I can.  Missionaries are given a debit card by their Mission Office as their expenses are paid through a Church account.  These accounts are set up ahead of time,  Cooper has a Brazilian Bank debit card- which does not work in Arizona.  So, apparently not knowing how long he was actually going to be in Arizona- instead of going to the trouble to get him his own debit card, the Mission Office puts his monthly "allowance" on his companion's debit card.  Since they are always together it hasn't really been a big deal.  (Cooper also has a personal debit card with him should he run in to any true emergencies.)  Anyway, it looks like Cooper may not have received part of his October allowance due to the stolen debit card, but I am sure the Mission Office will work it all out for him.]

That night we also taught an investigator named J and her two kids. They were introduced to us by one of my most favorite families here, The P's (I believe she was the first to contact you when I got here mom... she is one of my three moms out here!) Anywho, we had a good lesson with her.

Tuesday- WAS CRAZY. In one of the wards, every Tuesday night about 10-15 members of the wards get to together, pair up and just go do visits. Amazing. I went with a brother who brought me to the C Family. They are a less active family that we had visited just once before. When we were there, there was rap music playing and a kid getting a tattoo on the dining room table.  We were always a little scared to go back. But  I went with this Brother (who has known them for 8 years) so she spilled all the beans about whats really going on with the family. We built a really good relationship and we are really trying to help her. She's having a really hard time. How do the missionaries get involved between members and the bishop sometimes I just don't know. But I'm glad I was there, she is really struggling. The Relief Society President and I are going over there tonight. (She's also one of my moms).

Wednesday- We had transfer meeting and were informed that the ipads will becoming "very soon". Maybe this transfer? I got my first boy [missionary slang for junior companion?], His name his Elder H from Georgia. He's a great and a very smart Elder. I'm so glad to be with him, we are going to shock the zone by being very diligent in the work. We are stoked and fired up.

We taught another investigator named W. He's probably one of the MOST interesting people I have ever met. Elder P and I street contacted him in the pouring rain. We were at a crosswalk and he was standing there with an umbrella dressed in a full out tux. This is his everyday attire. He talks with a British type accent. He has long luscious hair and a nice trimmed goatee that he rubs. Hes from Mexico... yeah interesting right? In our lesson he had soooo many difficult questions for us. He is very familiar with the Bible and has clearly studied MANY things and pondered about the truths in this world. He has already read over half the Book of Mormon... He's a project.

Thursday- We were back at Bobbi's for servce. We cleaned out a pen of poop and dumped it all in her front yard... she asked us to.

We stopped by my most favorite family the B Family and we got a referral from them.

On Friday we had dinner with a less active family that went on for 3 hours!!!!! It is NOT supposed to be that long but it was a really good time and we really strengthened their testimonies.  Hopefully we can bring them back. They sure do love us.

Saturday and Sunday were really devoted on GeneralConference. This was the most attentive I've ever been that's for sure, but I watched from the eyes of an investigator, seeing which talks really stood out to me. President Uchtdorf's "Come, Join with Us" was a killer talk that I wish all my investigators could see. [The transcript of President Uchtdorf's talk is not up yet, I will try to remember to update the link in a couple of days.  When it gets published it may be called something different.  Audio and video of his talk are available on the General Conference link in this paragraph.)

There were so many talks about the Hastening of the Work. I sure hope it was enough to spark the new missionary age. THAT MEANS ALL OF YOU NEED TO GET YOU BUTTS IN ACTION TOO :)
Elder Ballard's, Dube's amd Gifford's were all spot on! What an exciting time to be a missionary!

J attended the last session of conference with the P family at the Stake Center with us.  We went back to the P's house afterwards and taught her the second lesson. I really don't know whats going to be the result of all this but I hope it leads to baptism.

Cooper and his new companion Elder H.

I love and miss you all!

[I came home from work today and found I had a postcard from Cooper as well.  It was a good day. I loved the content of this card- I can hear his "voice" and humor as I read it.  And his enthusiasm for bringing people to greater joy and happiness just jumps off the page.]

Hey Mom

I thought I would write to you seeing as I know you probably cherish my letters home and scrapbook them or something.  :)  My email will probably include a lot of what I am about to say but I am afraid I need to come home.  KIDDING!  (Hope I didn't scare you too bad.:))  ... We had a very inspirational Ward Mission Leader training last night and I am so FIRED UP right now!  We literally don't have enough time to do everything I want to get done.  Good problem though... I want to make a statement for our mission- that a greenie (me at six weeks) and a greenie (Elder H at one day) can work our butts off.   I think Elder H and I have what it takes.  We are about to go all out! Stay tuned.  Love you.