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, December 2, 2013

21. Madureira, Rio de Janeiro

2 December 2013

Holy Wow, I think I could write a small novel about all the things that transpired this week.
The beginning of this week was a turn for the better, I think I finally accepted the fact that I was not in Gilbert anymore and it was time for me to work here. I've gotten more used to everything and my mind stopped buzzing out of control.
So yes we taught a lot of lessons, yes I am continuing to learn the language, but I'll share the highlights of the week.
Thursday we had our "mission tour" which wasn't really a tour at all. Half the mission met in Jacarepagua, yeah its a mouthful... and President Lima and an Area Seventy came and did training. It took up the entire day and it was fairly easy to slip out of attention because of the language barrier.
The church building there is beautiful though. It's huge and the chapel is on a second story.
Elders N, Elder A and  Elder W (Elder H's MTC companion that I got to know on our flight here from Gilbert and on Friday more) and Sister C were all there which was awesome!
I got a letter from dad that he sent Nov 7th that day as well!
Friday was awesome! All the American missionaries had to go to the airport to get all registered with the police and such. We took a train early in the morning than hopped on the metro in Central. The metro system was really classy and clean. I was really impressed! The mission office is in Flamengo and its beautiful there. It was as I pictured Rio to actually look like. Much more similar to NYC! We had some down time while we were waiting for the secretary to arrive. Elder C and a pair of sister missionaries thought it would be cool to check out the beach.  It was awesome! Flamengo beach is gorgeous. Tons of beautiful sand and water. It's not crowded at all and you can see Pao de Açucar towering over everything around you. I wish I would have had my camera, but I took a detailed mental photo that I will never forget! I think this is the area where most missionaries desire to serve.. I know i do. We were at the airport for a good long time.

I exchanged my 150 american dollars for reis and got 333! Thats a month and a halves worth of cash!! Awesome!
Our area is basically from one busy street to the other.  There are tons of small markets, appliance, pet stores, pretty much any thing you can think of.  Our area is surprisingly lacking "gift shop" type things, they were all over Flamengo though.  I love my current area.  When walking home that night after being in Flamengo it felt like returning home!  The bar on the corner never fails to have a big churassco (BBQ) with the same drunk people.  The same drunk, jolly man dancing while nibbling on a shishkabob.  The huge wall next to where we live reads "Lava Jato.  Bob Esponja".  In English- "Jet Wash, SpongeBob".  It reminds me of Riley each day!  It's those little things that make me love Madureira.

I finally got that huge package from Morgan and Andrew. It was filled with chips, goldfish and Ramen noodles!!! I don't have their emails, MOM, please send Morgan and Andrew a HUGE thank you text! It made me sooooo  happy! It is just what I needed!
a package of treats from those who know him well

Saturday was kinda cool, the third person I contacted on the street my first day here, really wanted us to come by and teach. Goes to show that even through seriously broken language you can invite the Spirit into their lives! We taught him and it went really well. His name is Pedro.
Sunday was awesome as well. Fast and Testimony meeting was awesome. I didn't know was to expect with such a small ward, but after the first person, a line of 14 people gathered on the stand, and there was even enough time  for everyone. Way cool.
I love Elder C.  He is so humble, he always feels like he isn't doing enough (when in reality he is).  Being humble and looking for ways to improve is GOOD.  I always have to reassure him that he's doing a good job.  We celebrated his 24th birthday this week, by ordering pizza- not the pizza I am used to!

He thinks it is so cool that I am from New York!  I tell everyone I am from New York because even most Americans don't know where CT is... plus, it's hard to pronounce (Connechicutch).
Sunday night the ward threw a Christmas presentation, we had about 9 nonmembers show up and we gave them a Book of Mormon, Liahona issue and a Christmas dvd.  Afterwards it was pouring rain! I've learned to always bring an umbrella when it's cloudy because the rain is really unpredictable. We walked all the way home in the pouring rain in our suits with cars splashing muddy water on us here and there. We finally got home, its about a mile plus walk, and elder C realized he left the house keys in he chapel.... yup ...... so we made the trek two more times. Definitely one of those memories I'll smile and reflect on one day.

Everyone says you learn a lot about yourself while on your mission.  This is a true statement.  There are things in this life that you need to learn for yourself.  You need to put the puzzle pieces together for yourself. So here is what was going on in my mind that Sunday night walking in the pouring rain.  I noticed that I wasn't upset.  I thought, "I have every reason to be at a minimum just a tad bit distraught", but I wasn't.  I have always considered myself an optimist.  This have everything to do with it.  My next thought was "What makes one an optimist?"  I came to the conclusion that there are two major principles that really coincide with one another:
Seeing the Bigger Picture:  After Elder C forgot his keys he kept apologizing for the mistake he made and the circumstances he put me through.  But I knew that it could have been me that left the keys.  In fact, I know that I have made mistakes that have affected other people.  It's a part of life.  When we understand the bigger picture it's much easier to forgive others of their mistakes.  In fact, it's very easy.  I know that some day in the future I'll remember that funny night and a small smile will show on my face.

Hope: During my time as a missionary I have reflected on this word.  This is why I have a testimony. In my reading of the Doctrine and Covenants Commentary this week I stumbled upon this simple but profound statement "Hope, that which makes one a true optimist."  (p 24)  This hit me with such force... puzzle pieces snapping together in my mind.  One of my favorite scriptures is Ether 12:4.

Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with a surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, whichc hope cometh of faith, maketh an achor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good   works, being led to glorify God.
I have shared this scripture plus a short message time and time again with members.  Hope cometh of faith.(Moroni 7:40-42)  Sometimes I wonder i I have enough faith, having a great abundance of hope reassures me.  I have hope and this will help comfort me when I go through the saddest times of my life- like losing a loved one.  I can remain optimistic because I have hope that I will see them again.
Gotta run
Love ya
Elder Siebs

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