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, April 28, 2014

42. Madureira Rio de Janeiro

27 April 2014

The results are in! yup. I'm staying for another transfer here in Madureira. I'm way excited to stay and continue to help this ward and the people we are teaching. I learn new things about the ward and the missionary work here every week and this week I learned something that blew my mind. I had assumed that the missionaries had been here in Madureira for a long time, turns out our Bishop pleaded the for missionaries in the ward after a long season of drought. He got his wish about two years ago, Madureira received missionaries. This transfer will make 7 months here in Madureira, and I'm really feeling that I've been put here for a purpose. I'm excited for this new transfer!

So some investigator updates this week.

M + F- We met with them twice this week and talked about simple ways they can make their home a better place to live. We made goals with them and things are looking good. They promised to go to church this week so I'm stoked about that!

Our golden referral A dropped us this week because she had a dream that she should follow her aunt who is a pastor in the Assembleia de Deus... she prayed to know if this was an answer from God and she feels it was. So that was a downer.... She still believes the Book of Mormon is true so we'll continue to drop by

We have a young man in the Sulacap ward, but he lives in the Madureira area. We went and taught him and he accepted baptism. We marked a date for this Saturday and he's accpeted and doing everything. Pray that he´ll continue to progress and the baptism will go over this week.

This week we had an unfortunate experience (several actually) but we'll stick with this one for now. During our weekly planning session I went to fill my water botttle with mineral water and while filling it up I noticed something in my water. I raised the bottle above my head to find about 10 dead, uncooked, rice sized white worms in my water. We went into investigate and found a container of rotten food that wrought forth life. There were little worms everywhere in the kitchen, they got into our food, water and everything. So that was a shame...

On a bright note we started "Noite Familiar da Ala" or Ward Family Home Evening, something that we feel this ward really needs. It will take place every single week now. Everyone comes to the chapel to hang out, we play a game, the missionaries share a simple message, and then everyone eats. It's perfect. The ward needs to fortify the relationships between the members and it will act as a huge missionary tool. We are really exctied! 

Again, I'm excited for transfers here, we'll be getting a new house, four new missionaries in our district and things are looking bright. Elder S got transferred which is really too bad. I love that guy and he really is my example of a missionary. 

I am now the last survivor of the original Madureira Zone that I walked into when I got here in November. So much has changed, but the work goes on. 

I love you all!!

Elder Siebers

Monday, April 21, 2014

41. Madureira, Rio de Janeiro

21 April 2014

Hello everyone, I hope you all had an awesome Easter! 

This week was full of good work and progress with old and new investigators. 

Here´s an update on what I've been up to!

We taught E once more this week, she was the contact I did back in January. She has a good heart and is open to listening, but she really isn't getting the message. We've explained the Restoration and the Book of Mormon several times already and she doesn't understand it. She was flipping through the pages this week of the Book of Mormon and asked... "Wait, Wheres Matthew?" We explained again the Book of Mormon, but she doesn't understand. I know that as a teacher, we must have patience and seek to better our teaching methods, but we are kinda of at a loss at this point. We´re trying to help her visit the church, because we know she´ll feel the difference although she may not know exactly why, the spirit will guide and testify to her the truth. But, she doesn't want to walk there. Well keep trying with her so keep her in your prayers. 

M, who went to church last week, is in an interesting situation.  She left us to talk to her boyfriend. I hadn't planned anything up to this point, but I knew one thing going in, that if you want to have people open up and learn how to help them, you have to ask questions, listen, discern and ask another question. I thank the spirit for helping me quide what turned out to be a great open talk about their family and about himself. This family is holding onto one string before falling apart and we expressed that if there is ANYTHING that can help, its the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the application thereof in the family setting. He went from having "no hope" as he explained to us at the beginning to, "yes, i believe in a God of miracles, and it's possible". The best thing that fell out of his mouth was "I can change". We got persmission to return to their home once, twice if possible, a week to help their family. It's going to be a long process, but its going to be priceless. I have a lot of faith and hope for this family, and I know its all going to work out. I'm so excited to help this family, it's going to be unlike anything I have ever done, and for the first time, while talking to him, I really understood HOW the gospel blesses the families.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a straight path as we say. The husband and wife are two individuals, but have one family to take care of. When one yields to other desires and places them above the family's well being, problems occur. The Gospel, when applied and set above everything for both the husband and wife, creates a perfect formula in order to develop a happy family.

We recieved a media referal from LDS.org on Monday. We went and visited A on Tuesday. She was online and came across a summary of the Book of Mormon and said she was really curious. Two weeks later we showed up, taught her the first lesson. She loved it and wanted her boyfriend to hear. On Saturday he came down from Nova Iguaçu to hear the message as well. She already believes the Book of Mormon is the word of God and accepted the baptismal invite for when she learns a bit more about the message. They agreed to visit the church, but never showed up, but I know they will soon. 

It's been an awesome transfer here in Madureira, being senior and a trainer has been a great blessing to me. I push harder and strive harder to have success, and help my investigators. In the past five weeks we went from a dry dry DRY area to now 7 investigators progressing.  I've learned a ton, and really excited for the future. Sadly enough, I was revisited last night by the SAME feelings I had in Gilbert last November at the thought of leaving my area in a week. This was the first time that's happened for me in Madureira, and for the first time, I'm hoping I get to kick it here in Madureira a bit longer. (It's not that I wanted to leave before, but this time there is severe depression at the thought of leaving.)

Also we recieved HUGE news about our district. This district as been comprised of Madureira, Bento Ribeiro and Sulacap for a VERY LONG time and this week we received news that Bento Ribero AND Sulacap are dividing and we will recieve two more pairs of missionaries. Also the Sulacap elders are moving houses and we are going to move into their much more comfortable home... that is if I stay of course.  It all makes sense, it doesn't feel right to be transferred this upcoming week, but for that reason it makes all sense that I will. Thats the way tranfers work.  I totally understand the will of the Lord, I will be pleased to go wherever he sends me. If I hadn't left Gilbert when I did I wouldn't have been able to play a part in the J and T story. 

So thats an update from me. Loving the work and loving helping people come unto Christ!

Elder Siebers

[On a more humorous note... later in the day I received an email from Cooper with a photo attachment.  The subject was "PHOTO: Mom, you aren't going to like this". I knew what that meant, it meant that it was a photo of him doing something dangerous- like this:

Or this:

Or this:

Or this:

So you can imagine how frustrated I was when my phone was taking FOREVER to download and open the photo.  ....




Finally it came through and I just had to chuckle:

Phew... okay... that I can handle.  See... boys prepare their moms for missions just as much as moms prepare their sons.]

Monday, April 14, 2014

40. Madureira, Rio de Janeiro

14 April 2014

Alright, so this was one of those weeks where when I look back on it, we had so many experiences that Tuesday and Wednesday seem like months ago. We had some interesting experiences this week. On our way to district meeting this poor man on the street started talking to us about how he had no friends in the world and didn't feel loved by anyone. We just kept talking and talking about his life, accidents that almost killed him, his drinking problem, etc. and I was feeling quite sorry for this man. He didn't live in our boundaries, so I explained a bit about what we share and offered to pass his address to the missionaries there. He wouldn't accept, but really liked us as friends and wanted to go get a Guarana with us. We told him that we were pressed for time to attend this meeting and he said "I'll go with you!".  We explained how it was a meeting just for the missionaries, and we told him we would buy some guarana for him and then we would go on our way. He refused and said just to give him the money and he'd buy it himself. We debated for a long time about how missionaries can't give out money to people (its a rule). Eventually we made our way to a small shop, I bought him one more guarana than he had asked for and he tried to get us to pay his bus ticket home. I don't think my story telling is up to par, but it was just a strange moment in my life. This man appeared so lonely and needing of the gospel but we came to find out all he wanted was our money so he could buy more alcohol. 

Its also amazing how investigators can change in a matter of days. We taught an investigator on Tuesday, we read 2 Nephi 31 with her and she really seemed to like it. In a matter of 4 days she informed us that she didn't want to receive the lessons anymore. 

But let's focus on the good things that happened this week because there were a ton! We had a New Missionary Training meeting on Thursday and we received some excellent training from President. The icing on the cake was getting to see Elder H for the first time since our time in Gilbert! [Cooper and Elder H were companions when they were both VISA waiting in Gilbert AZ back in October.  Elder H's VISA finally came though this month and they were happy to be reunited.]

The highlight of the week was with an investigator named M. We found in her in our first week here. My comp was feeling a bit sad about the lack of investigators and wanted to pray that we would find someone to teach and bring to church. We immediately found M in our path. We weren't able to teach her until this week and the lesson was incredible. She had the Book of Mormon at one time and she liked reading it, but her ex-husband tore it up during a fight. When we returned and presented the first lesson I used one of my common lines in explaining how to know the Book of Mormon is true:  "Você não deve acreditar nossas palavras que esse livro é verdeiro, mas deve perguntar Dues, que sabe todo" (You shouldn't believe our words that this is a true book,  but you should ask God, who knows all.)  Afterwards she said that she already believed that the Book of Mormon is true. My comp is hilarious, and was literally speechless. LITERALLY speechless. I had to explain to her that he was a new missionary and she was the first investigator to really come to the truth. So funny! We brought her to church this Sunday and she loved it.  She has two daughters, one 13 and other 2. 

Other than that things are going well here in Madureira. We have some other investigators who are progressing we just have to get them to visit the church! 

In other news,  McDonalds is having a promotion here where you buy a meal and a mcflurry and you get a free World Cup cup (glass)! So our whole district went there today! 

[Madureira District Elders and their McDonald's "World Cups",
which doesn't explain the hats.]

Love you all!
Elder Siebers

Monday, April 7, 2014

39. Madureira, Rio de Janeiro

7 April 2014

I hope everyone is doing well and enjoyed Conference this week. 

This week we had some success. We decided to visit a contact I did back in January (perks of being in an area for a long time) and we ended up teaching her. We had a great lesson and she said somethings that make her seem golden for baptism. Just a few quotes from our time with E:

"You guys are lucky to find me home, I work a ton and often leave the house for errands. I was going to leave today too, but something told me to stay home."

"The day you guys stopped me in the road, I was looking for guidance from God to help lead me in the right direction."

When asked if she had any questions about the lesson, "I had a bunch of questions at the beginning but you guys answered all of them."

Unfortunately we invited 26 people to conference and only 1 showed up. I was feeling really down about it, but President Uchtdorf's talk about gratitude helped me to remember to feel grateful for the one that came. 

In other news about General Conference, I loved a bunch of the talks that were given, but I especially liked Elder Ballard's for you guys. Clearly his invitation last session didn't impact us enough. I hope you guys back home will buy your own Preach My Gospel, study it, and look for opportunities to share the Gospel.

Other than that, I'm online a bit later than usual because we had to take a trip to the mission office to sign something for my visa. 

Love you guys so much!

Elder Siebers

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

38. Madureira, Rio de Janeiro

31 March 2014

I don't think I've ever been so exhausted in my life. The week started off great though, we got the district together in the chapel which is starting to become a tradition. The 6 of us all brought ingredients for a hefty brunch of pancakes, eggs, and juice, which was then followed by a close game of Settlers of Catan. 
When Tuesday rolled around it was time to get serious. We are still in the midst of a rebuilding phase. We dont have many investigators right now and we are trying our best to find new people. 

Our two current investigators who are progressing are W and his mom A. W has been attending church because he is dating a young women in the ward. These situations can always be sticky so were trying our best to make sure he´s doing all this for the right reasons. He is attending seminary though, so that's always a good sign. He would have been baptized much earlier but his mom didn't allow him to be baptized. He recently turned 18 so Monday night we headed over there to talk to him and put him on date. While we were talking his mom walked into the room and sat on the sofa with him. She wasn't paying attention to anything however. I asked him if he would still like to be baptized and he shook his head pointing to his mom.  We shared the message of the Restoration and the Book of Mormon with her. It was our first real lesson together as a companionship and it was pretty weak (since then we've done a ton of practices so it won't happen again). On Saturday night we returned and she read the entire chapter, but couldn't remember any of it. We have some ideas for the next visit to help get her to speak her mind and express her feelings to that we can actually address them.

Other than that we are walking a ridiculous amount and talking with a bunch of people. We marked a ton of return appointments for Saturday but EVERY SINGLE one of them fell through until our very last effort to visit A and W for the second time that night. 

We are working a ton with Bishop G with less actives so in the meantime I'm feeling good about our work. We had the best ward attendance this week of 86, so we're seeing improvement. 

Hope everyone enjoys Conference weekend, feels like just yesterday that I was in Gilbert watching conference with J, the kids and the P family.

[Elder E's mom sent this picture to me last week.  Cooper and Elder E were together in the MTC and then finally got to see each other again at transfers last week.]

Have a good week!

Elder Siebers