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, January 27, 2014

29. Madureira, Rio de Janeiro

27 January 2014

Hello Everyone! I hope this letter finds you all well in the cold Connecticut tundra. I for one miss the snow, the cold weather. Its been a hot 7 months for me. July in Provo, August in Arizona and now Nov. Dec., Jan. (or May, June, and July) in Brazil. I cant wait until the temperature begins to decline, which I've heard really doesn't happen until April...sooo yeah! 

We had a solid week here in Madureira. Monday got off to a fiery start when  J told us that a date had been set for the wedding, Feb. 20th!  We also had an awesome family home evening with J and T and Irmã J and Irmão R. We shared a message about the Liahona.  Then afterwards we all ate dinner and dessert and talked. It was FANTASTIC!

Elder P and I have been upping our game, and this week was the first week I've hit the Standard of Excellence for contacts! Its really the only number we can control so its nice to know I'm doing my part. We contacted 210 people this week, and let me tell you, its both exhausting and rewarding. I can feel the words falling out of my mouth, and we also met some awesome families. 

Some of the people we met this week

B and J. It was late Friday night and we already had 49 contacts that day (which is a ton!) and we were walking home when we ran into them. I decided to go with the The Family: Proclamation to the World approach. We talked a little about it and they were interested. B asked about our Church and where it came from. So we shared a bit about the Restoration as well. Then J said she had a question. She told us that where shes from (originally north Brazil) everyone has this idea that the Mormons are prohibited from speaking with people. They say that all the missionaries pass by and talk to no one, and she was surprised that we had stopped to talk to them. Man, I'm really glad we did! I've never heard of this stereotype and it is certainly incorrect! I told them that I can hardly speak the language, and I have a "sotaquezão", or "big accent", and yet I'm out here talking to people all day! They said we could return another day so I'm excited for that!

I asked Cooper how he approaches people on the street and starts up a conversation about families.  Here is his answer:

Hey, excuse me, Good afternoon.

How are you?

My name is Elder Siebers and we are the missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.

Whats are your names?

As missionaries we share a message with families about how the Gospel of Jesus Christ can bless all families.

Do you guys have children?
Do you guys have faith in Christ and God?
Do you guys attend a church?

If they seem interested, not in a hurry, and stopped to talk to us sometimes I'll share a bit about the pamphlet and give it to them.  If not i asked we we can pass by another day and share are message and write down their addresses.

Another contact we had was really neat. We stopped a woman on the sidewalk and her 7 yr old daughter. She said she had been crying and didn't want to be held too much. We quickly got her address and said we would come back. Two days later we went over and had an awesome lesson with her and her husband. Unfortunately we didn't get to talk to the husband for too long because he was on lunch break. But she listened really intently and I think she will keep commitments. They are a really special family. 

Lastly we taught one other family that we contacted last week. They are an older couple with two older daughters, who weren't there for the lesson. We read the entire Family: A Proclamation To the World, pamphlet and they really enjoyed it. They want to come to church but they are booked with traveling plans until Feb. 10th :(

So yeah our area holds A LOT of promise in the next couple weeks! I'm very excited. 

Next Tuesday is transfers. Missing J and T's baptism would be heartbreaking, but I have no say in the matter. I'll let you know next Monday!

Elder Siebers

P.S Bishop took us to Burger King this week so that was a plus!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

28. Madureira, Rio de Janeiro

20 January 2014

Well everyone I don't have much to tell about this week, but it was just as swell as any week could be.

We had an awesome district meeting this week. Our little district of two companionships met in the Bishop's small office and actually TALKED about the difficulties and how we can improve, and it really helped motivate us all to do better. We had a great week!

Update on our progressing investigators

J and T- finally returned from their two week vacation.

G- He's only available early in the week and we missed our window. No updates

J- We had an awesome lesson with her. We brought two youth from the ward with us and we all sat in a circle on the sidewalk in from of her house and read 3 Nephi 11

V- An update about the word of wisdom story.  Right about the time she clicked on the link to read about the word of wisdom, a friend of hers called and said she was sick in the hospital because of some coffee she drank... I didn't even know that was possible or common, but the Lord works in mysterious ways! We brought her to the church during the week and talked with her about baptisms for the dead and family history with an awesome member of the ward.

M- Our appointment fell through with her, she's hard to get in contact with. 

And add E and to the list. I don't think I've ever mentioned them. We've been teaching them ever since I got here but I didn't seem interested. However we went over this week because she just had a baby and he was all fired up and asked us a ton of questions. Then on Sunday we went to church with them. They have a car which is a great blessing and makes it easier to come to church! 

It was Stake Conference this week, which was really too bad. They didn't get to see a "normal" Sunday, so no Primary for the kids, no Sacrament, and they didn't get to meet the members... I really hope they come back next week! 

Other than that some other smaller, personal highlights from this week:

Made the taco meat, they don't have shells or cheese that is suited well for tacos so I've just been eating the meat over doritos and it's SOOO GOOD!

I  talked with a man for a good half hour and he told us he shot his wife... she lived. But yeah we run into crazy people.

[Scott  had asked him about the water situation there and how the missionaries are instructed to ensure they have good water.]

The first few weeks I carried my water bottle with me all day. But as time went on, my back can't take much, so I stopped. We buy 10L of mineral water that are approx 4 dollars and we get reimbursed. I drink a lot before we head out for the day and we tend just to knock on a random door ask for water. The people are really hospitable. Today I bought a bunch of powerades which was a bit pricey. (about 9 bucks for 7 normal sized). We get a lot of water that I don't know where it comes from or if it was filtered or not. I think most if filtered but certainly not all.  I've been super blessed health wise, almost all my peers from my MTC district have already made one or several trips to the hospital. So I'll just keep taking my vitamins and staying optimistic, which I think is the best natural remedy there is.

The language is soo good right now. Still not understanding everything, but I'm picking up on slang which is really helping in this wild city.

Love you all!

Elder Siebers

Monday, January 13, 2014

27. Madureira, Rio de Janeiro

Hello Everyone!

I don´t have a whole lot to write about this week, but it flew by and it was absolutely incredible!

So it´s been an interesting week, Elder S is still down with "cajumba" [I googled this, Elder S has the mumps!] so we've been having to do a lot of shopping for them throughout the week. Elder S is literally stuck at home with Elder H, and today is the 9th day (I think) that they have been out of commission! 

Mom, you should tell his mom though (since your good at finding people and you've probably already talked to her at some point) that he's doing fine. Hes a little sad that hes been out for so long, but hes doing ok. 

This week we had zone conference as well, which had to be led by the assistants. It was awesome to actually get to meet the two new gringos in our zone, Elder A and Elder M. President asked us if we all had mineral water to drink and Elder M hasn't had any since he's been here! He's been using the filter bottle the MTC gave us, which isn't very safe I've heard. But he's ok! I explained to him how to get mineral water and that he would be reimbursed by the mission. 

[I think this photo was from last week- at a member's home for Christmas.]

Zone conference went awesome because I finally got a gauge for how much I've developed with the language. When you're living with another Brazilian you don't ever really get to see how far you've come because you always feel really stupid when it comes to the language. It was nice to see these elders struggling and not understanding (just as I was 6 weeks ago) and understanding everything!  Its really incredible how much I've learned, and I feel so good about everything now. 

We also had interviews with president which was a lot more down to earth than I thought it was going to be. Since it was my first and I'm gringo, he talked really slow and asked really simple questions:

How are you?
How do you like Brazil?
How do you like the work?
How is your companion?
Are you being obedient?

And that summed up our interview. I wanted to talk about the difficulties were having with our work, what I can do to be a better missionary... you know? This is our one chance to get our busy president to sit and listen to us individually and learn what we can do to improve. But that's ok, I'll just have to wait for the next one! 

Elder P and Elder Siebers

The best part about this week was this....

Ever since I've been here we've been struggling with having REAL progressing investigators. Hence, why I haven't been writing much about the people we´re teaching. Up until the beginning of Jan. we've had just J and T. On Christmas day I knocked on a door and found M who is really interested and we've taught her a lot of the lessons.

And this week we picked up 3 more who are all just fantastic!

G- We contacted him at the door. He´s always had a strong interest in religion and has visited and studied many different faiths. We taught him the first lesson and he really liked it. We asked the baptismal question and he said that if he received an answer he would. He wants to visit the church but he couldn't this week because of some other commitment. hopefully next week.

Cooper and a member from the ward.  How can I not love this photo?
J- We contacted her on the street. She´s very young and has a tiny 3 month old baby. I'm glad we talked to her. We taught her twice this week and she has a lot of great questions about life that we've been helping her answer. She is single, young and has a tiny baby now and I think shes just a bit lost. She really enjoyed the lessons though so well see what happens

V- Another contact we did on the street. She knew some members in the past and has always been just a tad curious about our faith. She didn't give us her address but said we could call some other time. We gave her a lesson pamphlet and told her about mormon.org

We didn't know what had happened until we called her yesterday evening. She read the pamphlet, then went to mormon.org and talked with one of the online missionaries. She said she loves everything about our faith and only had one concern left, it was about Baptisms for the Dead. Not to mention she read about the Word of Wisdom on the site and LOVED it and agreed to live it!  We didn't even say anything about it. SO COOL. We taught her over the phone and she really wants to come to church next Sunday.

All is swell here in Madureira, I'm excited for our new investigators. 

Keep em´ in your prayers!

Elder Siebs

[Elder Siebers started his mission with two new pair of shoes.  It's a long story, but let's just say that he was separated for a season from one of the pair while still brand new and they were just recently reunited.  The pair on the right has seen two months of work in Madureira.  Do we think these shoes are going to last another 18 months?]

Monday, January 6, 2014

26. Madureira, Rio de Janeiro

6 January 2014

It has been a pretty calm week for us here in Madureira. The first half of the week was really difficult becuase of the new year festivities. Everyone started partying, dancing and drinking at about 5pm on the 31st and all through the 1st and then everyone disappeared off the face of the Earth on the 2nd (in order to recover from 36 hours of partying I'm sure)

We joined Junior, Daniella, Marlene, Octavo. Cosmo. Gabriella, for new years. (the same crew who had us over for Christmas) They are the holiday crew and we had a blast. Junior (our ward mission leader) took us to "Demas e Divas" and or "Dames and Divas" for lunch. It was a super nice restuaraunt that was very American. We order two huge platters of Ribs. Chicken Wings, Fries, Onion rings and Tater Tots... it. was. sooooo. goooooood! (photos to come)

We then went to Jrs for dinner as well and had a nice pig feast!

We spent those first few days contacting a bunch of referrals we had received and we made appointments for them all later in the week. Then they ALL fell though. Its pretty frustrating...

Friday night I'd have to say was the highlight of the week as far as teaching goes. The story begins a few weeks ago when a young woman stopped us on the street and told us that she is a member of the c\Church and the only one in her family. Her father lives really close to us and she's here visiting and studying here for the next month or so. On Friday she invited us over for a lesson with her father, Jesus. The lesson went pretty well, I dont know how much he accepted what was taught but it was still really good. It was a really cool experience though because as the four of us were sitting there I just thought how cool it was that four people from 4 different places with 4 very different accents were all talking about the Restoration of the Gospel. Jesus has lived here in Rio for 23 years, She (Silvia) is from Bolivia and speaks spanish, but she has learned portuguese over the past year, Elder P is from Alacaju where the accent is very different and I'm super Gringo. Yet we were all communicating just fine. Way cool. Silvia even made us dinner for afterwards and it was a swell time.

Saturday went mostly well. Things got a little frustrating when we brought a Sister of the ward with us for a lesson with a member, which we´ve been struggling to have... It was bold for Elder P to invite her because we didn't have anything set in stone but we had a good number of people to visit so I thought it would be ok. We tried 7.. count it 7 different places. 5 homes of investigators and 2 less actives and NO one was home... or just didnt want to answer for us, but I don't think that was the reason. It was really disapointing and we had to send the sister on her way after she walked about a mile to get to the place we were... Yeah that hurts.

Other than that, all is well. Elder Prado has been really occupied with trying to fix our hot night situations. Currently we move our mattresses into the main room where we have ventilation and I plop the Chillydana on my face and all is well. I'm still getting bitten but that's ok I guess. There are several blood stains on my sheets because either the Mosquitos start sucking and then I twitch and the blood oozes out or I roll over them in my sleep and pop them. I dont know which is more likely but it's pretty humorous. We got permission to search for a new home in our area, but I really do like our house. Its in a fundos (I think I explained FUNDOS earlier, it literally means "deep" but here it refers to a house that goes deeper than you see. We have a door on the road that's locked, then we walk into the "fundos" turn the corner and there are six small houses in a small courtyard. Very safe because we have two locked doors and our house isnt visible from the street.)  Also, the Bishop has been trying to hook us up with an AC all week so we'll have to see what happens.

Alrighty, I think this upcoming week is going to be swell, we have some good stuff planned!

Lova ya'll

Elder Siebers