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.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

33. Madureira, Rio de Janeiro

24 February 2014

Well this was the week I've been waiting for for a very long time.

To begin we had zone conference early this week. 4 zones from across the mission gathered in Jacarepaguá to recieve training. The first conference was when I had been here for only 3 weeks so I didn't get a lot out of it, but this training was fantastic. I learned a lot and have been applying it nicely. It was great to see so many friends as well, namely Elder W and Sister C AND I got to see our newcomers, Elder P and Sister T. 

The MTC gang is slowly but surely all finding their way to Rio.

But to get to the highlights that basically took up our entire week... We attended the wedding of J and T, I had no idea how it works here in Brazil, but it ended up pretty short. We basically just waited in a long line and then within two minutes this women married the two of them.

Anyway, then that night we had interviews. The ZLs did the interviews and they both expressed how ready they are to be baptized. Elder S said of T, "I've never had an interview with an investigator who is more prepared to be baptized than him. He UNDERSTANDS the atonement and he applies it." 

The next night was the baptism, and it went off with out a hitch. We had a great turnout, I counted 21 people (thats incredible actually). We showed the video of their marriage, people cried, the bishop brought his video camera and caught a lot of it. No troubles with the ordinance... all was swell. 

Sunday, we had four confirmations, the son of a semi-less active family who was baptized 10 weeks ago, I_, and J+T. After Sacrament Meeting, Jurema was putting together our March lunch schedule we got signed up with J+T. They already feel like regular members of this ward, and I'm just holding onto the edge of my seat for their callings. 

Now we are in an odd situation. After their baptism we were all like... Ummmm now what? We have to find another family, so thats the goal for this week.

We also had two random investigators come to church that attended another ward. We haven't taught either of them yet so were excited about that. Elder S had a dream last night that one of them was baptized, so yeah its gonna happen! 

Mom, I got the package this week!!! Woooo. Very handy! I already made some mac for me and my comp and he loved it. Also were hitting up Subway today with the rest of the district. Soooo pumped!

Also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! Hope it's a good one!

Thats about all for this week, lot of photos to come!

Love you all!

Elder Siebers

Monday, February 17, 2014

32. Madureira, Rio de Janeiro

17 February 2014

This week was highlighted by two days in particular.
On Wednesday, our entire zone headed to Releango to help some Elders in our zone find some people to teach. We held an open house and each pair of missionaries was assigned neighboring streets to contact people. We contacted our assigned street but NO ONE came. We switched strategies and we all started contacting the people just walking by the church. We all switched companions for a bit and we had amazing success. In just 30 minutes our so Elder St and I brought three people off the street into the chapel. We gave them a quick tour and then brought them to the filled baptismal font. There we talked a bit about baptism and invited them to be baptized. Out of the three, two accepted to be baptized and one of them lives in Elder St's area. So yeah that was way cool!

Now I´ll give a full account of Sunday, the ups and the downs, the stresses and the miracles.
I woke up to a comforting cloudy sky Sunday morning. YES! The temperature was relatively cool and it was drizzil-ing nicely. We headed off to church and when we got there, just 20 minutes before it was supposed to start, no one was there. We prepped the classrooms and such and 9:00 passed by and still no one. We waited around until people started showing up at 9:40. Yep... no one told the missionaries it was Daylight Savings. 

Dang!  We could have slept for another hour!

We kicked things off with our Elders Quorum. This week we actually had a Quorum of three plus the missionaries and the Stake Rep. (L) We evaluated the Quorum attendance again, and L gave us some more training. 

Then it was time for Gospel Principles. We have been discussing how we can have more lessons with members this week and we made a sheet to know which days and times members could meet with us. We were trying to talk with as many members as we could during the interval before the teacher, hunted us down and told us to get to class. She´s kinda strict on getting the class started on time and with everyone present. This week it was us, J+T, I and L. 

Sacrament Meeting was swell.  The attendance last week was 61 and this week was 82!   J+T have two kids, a girl and a boy who are 5 and 4.  Like most children they can be a little rowdy and distracting for the parents, so I decided to take them off J+Ts hands so they could really pay attention during Sacrament Meeting. We drew and colored all over our Progress Record, and had a swell time, and I think T+J got a lot out of the meeting.

During Sacrament, none other that U walked in, the husband of our Relief Society President who has been inactive for some time now. We visited him this week just to invite him to church, which we've done a lot. Elder M asked him why he isn't coming to church and he said he will when Jesus returns. That's a bold statement. We are going to talk to him later this week, but maybe he did some major soul searching after making a statement as such.

Afterwards we franctic-ly put together our baptism for I. She was a bit shy. but it all went swell.
Elder M, Isabelle and Elder Siebers
[Cooper told us to look at his bare feet to see just how tan his face has become.  Hilarious!]

Love you all!
Elder Siebs

Love y

Thursday, February 13, 2014

31. Madureira, Rio de Janeiro

10 Feb 2014
To begin, my new companion is Elder M. and I am staying in Madureira for another transfer!
Last week Elder P and I  went to G´s and L´s., a young couple I contacted three weeks ago. I did a Proclamation to the World contact so we naturally taught them about that during our first lesson. Nothing really seemed to click though. Then I returned this time with Elder M. and taught the Restoration. Elder M is a fantastic teacher! He is a very textbook (Preach my Gospel) missionary, he has studied and applies literally EVERYTHING! Our lesson went really well and G is really interested in reading the Book of Mormon. L is a strong Catholic, but she even told us that she doesn't think her church is right... They want to come to church too, but they had something booked already for this Sunday. Hopefully the next!

Preparation Day with Elder P at Bob's Burgers
Elder M. is a very high energy guy, and he speaks ridiculously fast. So I'll be learning a lot from him this transfer. He also speaks a bit of English, and by a bit I mean we can have conversations in English.
I don't know if I talked about I__ yet,, but she's a ten year old girl who started living with her grandma who attends the Ward. We had a lesson with her with Elder P to set a baptism date but she didn't want to. That Sunday I noticed her with the Primary President, and it was easy to tell that she adores her. So this week I called the Primary President and we tried again. This time with Elder M, we taught better, and the Primary President extended the invitation to be baptized. Simple. Date marked for this Sunday. I don't really look to baptize kids, but this girl is ready, she already bore testimony during Sacrament Meeting! And I know our Primary President will take care of her!
The Chapel in Madureira.  "I feel really close to this area.  I will remember Madureira for the rest of my life!"
We had two lessons with J+T this week. The first was just about baptism and Elder M showed a slideshow of families baptized in the mission. It got really emotional.  And last night we taught about tithing and they had no issues with it. They are super prepared!
We taught a new family, so we'll see if anything happens!
This Sunday was a bit rough. Our Stake Rep, the Missionaries and T were the only Elders in the Quorum meeting. The entire Presidency, even the secretary were absent. The Stake Rep, asked me about what happened, and I'm just like, "how can I know?" It really is quite sad. Our priority is to bring new members into the church, but as missionaries we have a lot of other duties. So this week were planning on visiting the entire Elder's Quorum, starting with President. Wish us luck!

Last note of the day, I finally learned why my companions have been leaving me out to dry during street contacts. I thought it was just a Elder P thing, and when I told Elder S about it he told me I should talk to him about it. So when Elder M did the same, I asked him why! He said that in a meeting for trainers,they were told them to let their American companions do their own contacts and not to help them, that this would help us learn the language better.... seriously? This may be true, but is it worth sacrificing unity? Is it worth the many wrong addresses, the loss of good contacts? I just don't know...? I can do contacts on my own though, so at this point it's just frustrating.

But it's all GOOD!

Love Elder Siebs

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

30. Madureira, Rio de Janeiro

3 February 2014

This week has been like no other. Last week's hard work really paid off, and also drained us both physically and mentally. Being the final week of the transfer as well, made this week even more difficult for us. The early part of the week was rather unproductive.

We recieved a list of names and address last transfer, but during that time I had no clue what it was. Then at zone conference the Assistants told us that we should be working with this list everyday. Ok. So I finally got a hold of this list which has been properly called by Elder Hansen, "Lista Preta" or "Black List". 

We had just about 10 pages of names and addresses assigned to our area. Most of the names got dumped into our area because we are the center of the Zone. (Madureira Zone) I spent almost 3 hours going through this list of 160 addresses. 93 of which didnt even belong in our area and we had to place them in all there proper areas across the mission. They we started working with the 50 odd some we had. We contacted 17 of them this week, which is really sweet. And by contact, I mean we had to talk to all the neighbors if they knew this person and about 80% had moved away years ago. One moved away 15 years ago... HOW OLD IS THIS LIST!? I'll be honest I expected the mission to be very organized with paperwork like this, "how long has this mission been open?" I thought. Then I realized, that with the constant changes in missionaries, and even presidents for that matter, that reporting and organizing things like this probably doesn't get done effectively, or even worked with for that matter. I, to this day, really dont know where this list came from, but it has proven to be completely irrelevant, yet we've been asked to work with it everyday. I've been trying really hard to get this list straightened out so it doesn't cause some other missionaries their time and a headache. If I stay here for this transfer I'm hoping to completely wipe it out for this area! 

So yeah, I guess it was productive, but it wasnt a productive activity. (that made sense to me...)

We started Sunday off with Elder's Quorum. The first Sunday of the month is designated to "Training" And remember we have a stake representive assigned to our Quorum each sunday. It was us missionaries, Luiz ( a great member who had been sick the last 3 weeks), Dennis (the bishops son who is moving away here soon) and L ( the stake rep.) President W came in about half way through and that's the way it stayed. L gave great training and explained how we need to start using the Progress Record and the Attendance Sheet to start fortifying this weak Quorum. Just to recap, President W is an older man, who has a great heart, but I don't think really comprehends his calling and responsibilities. The first counselor hasn't been seen in church for 7 months, and our 2nd counselor (P) is a recent convert in June and still is learning the basics of the gospel. It's a really tough situation and we talked with L after church about what we must do in this area. We have some great new ideas that we hope to implement for this transfer (assuming we stay).

Following Class, it was time for another Testimony meeting.  The members of this ward have great testimonies. It was probably one of the most powerful testimony meetings I have ever attended in my life. Tears were shed by just about everyone in the chapel. A random less active woman that no one had seen in forever randomly showed up and bore testimony. 

After church we had lunch with A. She is a fine chef, and even though I'm not a fan of seafood, the shrimp wasn't all that bad! We have a lot of sisters in the ward with non member and less active family members. They are a great support for each other.

We did a few Sunday errands afterwards, including starting a paper for this ward to help with the missionary work. We dont have a photocopier here so, I thought a computer file would be easier to print each week so that everyone can be informed about whats  going on.

On Wed. night we stopped by Prezunic (the grocery store), because Elder P has been waiting for some hefty reimbursement from our energy bill last week. We went to the ATM and he decided to withdaw all of his cash, 140 Reais. He got ripped off and the ATM only spat out 60, and without receipt. He was absolutely furious and upset. I tried to calm him down an explain that he would be reimbursed. (which he will be by the way).

"Beware of the late curve balls" Elder Par.. explained to me, meaning  that we should be aware that Satan knows the importance of baptism for our eternal welfare and will try to do everything in his power to prevent it from happening. Back in Arizona, our investigator's brand new bike was stolen from his garage 2 days before his baptism. This week, curve balls happened again, and  I didn't prepare my investigator before hand.  One of our committed investigators has ENDLESS doubts.  We offered to join him in a fast this week and I am certain everything will work out okay.

This week I learned that Madureira is the birthplace of Samba and we had a huge Samba festival here that flooded that streets.

[In response to his Dad's new calling]  Your a ward missionary! Thats awesome. Being a returned missionary yourself, I'm sure you remember how nice it is to have ward missionaries who work really hard at their callings. I'm sure you'll help great things come to pass in Canton ward. 

SO I haven't mentioned anything about transfers because the site hadn't been changed this morning. We just got the call though AND.......


Elder P is leaving and I'm getting ANOTHER new companion.

His name is Elder M. Transfers are tomorrow morning.

Well that's all for now

Love you all!

Elder Siebs