Elder Siebers will leave Gilbert AZ where he has been since late August and fly to Rio de Janeiro tomorrow. It has been a fun and exciting week for us back on the home front as we have received some photos from those in Arizona that he spends a lot of time with.
He got a "blast from the past" when Cheryl Christiansen, who lived in the West Hartford (or was it Hartford 2nd then) Ward with us back in 1996. Cheryl lives in Gilbert now and was able to meet Cooper and Elder H at Dunkin Donuts. Luckily she came with proof that she knew Cooper back then because he had to admit that he did not remember her.
Another great example of our ward family- from friends in our BYU wards, to friends who have long left Connecticut, to brand new friends who have taken Cooper into their home while in Gilbert- I am so thankful for the many people who have been an example and friend to my kids.
|Cooper and Sister Christensen|
|Dropping in to say goodbye to another family (the S Family) who often cared for Elder Siebers.|
The P Family took the Elders to Five Guys- looks like Cooper went with his traditional hot dog.
|Elder Sievers and Elder Siebers!|
|The Elders at the Gilbert "house".|
Tomorrow... instead of an email- we should be getting a phone call during his layover in Atlanta. We are all so excited to talk to him.... even hoping to conference Mallory in from China! I do love technology.
We got to talk to Cooper for almost an hour today while he was in Phoenix and then for another 30 minutes tonight while he was in Atlanta. For the earlier call we were able to conference in Mallory from China. Mallory and Cooper have always been very close and it was so fun to hear the excitement in both of their voices. Then Riley and Madison came home from school and all six of us were "together" for just a few minutes. It was a lifetime highlight for me. Here are a few highlights from our chat today:
* The elders in his "house" in Gilbert are getting memory foam mattresses donated by ward members tomorrow! He can't believe his misfortune in missing out on that.
* He found out last Friday that he was traveling today, but he had a few hints, the most obvious being when his November "allowance" from the Gilbert Mission was given to him in late October and it was half of what it is supposed to be.
* Most of the members of his wards knew he was leaving and so he was grateful that he got to have a full Sunday of saying goodbye. Over and over he mentioned names of families that are so dedicated to member missionary work and were so good to him and his companions.
* When I asked how he thinks his Portuguese is fairing after 3 months off he said "well, I know how to say 'help me' and 'show me the way', so I am not worried, I am ready to go with the flow. It's gonna be great."
* He expressed gratitude for getting to serve in the US (in his native language) for a while before going. He feels like he has become a better and more confident teacher. He said that when you learn to teach the Gospel in another language it is somewhat rudimentary. He feels he has advanced his ability to teach, now his Portuguese just needs to catch up!
* Thee of the five pants he took are falling apart. Great. This would have been good information to have a WEEK ago when Amazon Prime was useful to us.
* There were fifteen (?) Rio bound missionaries that entered the Provo MTC on July 10th with him. Three are in Brazil. Cooper and Elder Evans arrive tomorrow. And the rest are patiently and happily enjoying their stateside missions for now.
* He asked about the Hartford Temple progress and if it had started. We told him that some dirt has been moved around, but we also know that contractors and their families are moving to the area so we know we will see more action soon. He pointed out that he should be returning right about the time the Temple is done and ready for the Open House to the public. He was excited about volunteering at the Open House and sharing the Temple with many of his friends here.
* His pday will still be on Mondays- so we get to enjoy another week of wondering where he is and what he is doing. I reminded him that when he arrived in Gilbert, one of the first things he did was make a $1.51 debit card purchase as a Circle K and it thrilled us to know where he was. (You gotta love online banking.) I told him to buy a soda "on me" as soon as he can.
* We talked a little bit about missionary work and what members can do to help others draw closer to Christ- I loved his answer "Missionary work is simple. It's all just about loving other people. You feel Heavenly Father's love and you share that with them. That's it."
And that's a wrap. This mom is missing her son, but as I said to someone earlier today, there no where I would rather have him be at this time, and we spent the first 19 years of his life with serving a mission as the goal. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that.
Luckily, I have good friends who take good care of me. One sent me this today:
“You are doing God's work. You are doing it wonderfully well. He is blessing you, and He will bless you, --even--no, -especially--when your days and your nights may be most challenging. Like the woman who anonymously, meekly, perhaps even with hesitation and some embarrassment, fought her way through the crowd just to touch the hem of the Master's garment, so Christ will say to the women who worry and wonder and weep over their responsibility as mothers, `Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole.' And it will make your children whole as well.”
― Jeffrey R. Holland
― Jeffrey R. Holland
As far as contacting Cooper- you can still reach him at his email. He has had a hard time reading all emails since they have less than an hour to read and respond. Our family is looking at a website called Mission Ties. It is essentially a Dear Elder website for Brazilian Missions. Apparently for the same cost as mailing a letter from the US, you submit it online, they print it in Sao Paolo and mail it to him, so he gets it within two days (as opposed to 2-4 weeks.) We are going to try it out and try to send most of our letters this way so that he has them to read DURING the week and not during his email time.
But that being said- please drop him a quick line and let him know you are thinking of him. I know he would love it! firstname.lastname@example.org