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, July 21, 2014

Brazil felt just a little closer for a moment

19 July 2014

When Cooper was transferred to Itaborai, he moved in with two other missionaries.  These other two Elders are assigned to the "other side of town" and attend another ward that meets in the same Chapel.  Cooper has become great friends with Elder VW.  A couple of weeks ago, Cooper told me that Elder VW's family was going to be cast in the Hill Cumorah Pageant this year and suggested that we try to find them when we go this weekend.

Well, finding ONE family in a cast of 700 with over 4000 people in attendance is no small thing.  I started asking around on the first night we attended... I got a couple of leads, but nothing solid.  On Saturday night, my friend Laurel B (we were Cast Team Leaders together in 2011 and her family is in the cast again this year) said that she "thought her husband knew who they were".  So we tracked down Jeff B, who said that he indeed did know of a VW family and would try to bring them to us.  I let Jeff know that we would be "lingering" after the show ended, just in case he had any luck.

We lingered longer- about 90 minutes after the show ended- and all of a sudden Jeff comes running up to us "I think I have found them!"  He certainly had- in the very back of a box truck loading some of the 5000 chairs that are set up for the performance.

Brother VW was happy to meet us and went to find his wife.  We had a great time talking about our sons and decided that they are very much alike.  We imagined them having a great time together in Itaborai.

We shot this photo ( the ipad image didn't photograph well, but it's the photo of them.)  I sent it to Cooper this morning and he said:

"HAHAH THATS SO AWESOME!!! I CANT BELIEVE IT ALL WORKED OUT! WE ARE BOTH FREAKING OUT RIGHT NOW!  p.s riley and madison mimicing my face... nice one!"

It's a really big world.  But sometimes, in moments like these, it seems very, very small.

54. Itaborai, Rio de Janeiro

21 June 2014

Hey family and friends, I hope you all had a good week! I sure did.

Looking back at this week, there are WAY too many stories to tell. The time is flying so fast and when I look at all the things that get done during the week it truly blows my mind. I won't be able to write about all the wonderful things that happened this week but here are some highlights. 

This week we took our very first trip to Rio Bonito, it's a town that makes part of our area and the ward. It's a 40 minute bus ride away and for that reason, also not having any map, we never dared to venture over there. There are only a few members that live there as well that used to attend a branch, that closed twice. We had lunch with a sister that was reactivated by her visiting home teachers and the Relief Society has asked that we visit her more often and do more missionary work there to help her out. We loved or time in Rio Bonito, its a gorgeous area that doesn't have much. There aren't too many churches there either. We knocked on a good amount of doors and everyone was so receptive and listened to our message.We will definitely head back there to do some more missionary work, and help reactivate some old members of the fallen branch with a map or not. 

This Sunday was absolutely the best Sunday I've had on my mission. We have a ton of investigators who have been saying they would come to church and a lot of them were able to make it.!

We have a lot of work ahead of this week, but I'm soooo excited! It's going to be full of miracles. I'm so excited to teach him again this week!

On a funny note, J opened the "Teachings of theProphets; Joseph Fielding Smith" [book] which we are studying and opened to a picture of him and said, "You look just like him! He must be your great grandfather or something..."I just chuckled.

We had a fantastic week, and are anticipating the many more milagres that will happen this coming week!

I love you all!

Cooper and his very great uncle- Joseph Fielding Smith.  Is there a resemblance?

Monday, July 14, 2014

53. Itaborai, Rio de Janeiro

14 July 2014

Real World. Real Problems

*Mom and Dad this letter will be filled with some heavy details from our current investigators. Some editorial work may want to be done to protect these peoples personal lives, but i want you guys to know what im working with and and advice you can give me.

Being a missionary is unlike anything I have ever done. It's unlike any other experience that exists in this world. We work with any type of person who is willing to listen, and we work with them on a very personal level. In order to do such, it's very important that we show them that they can trust us, that we would not deceive them, that all we want to do is help in any way. The thing is, how do we get to that point? Most of our investigators are people who we stopped in the middle of the street, and are getting to know them for the first time. Teaching the necessities can be a difficult task when these people are still trying to decide whether they should let us into their lives. Truth be told, in my mission I haven't had too many investigators that completely opened to us, putting full trust in us to help them. To them, we are only 19 and 20 years old lads, what could we possibly have to offer? 

This week proved to be one of the most intense weeks of my mission and my life. As the one year marked ticked, it seems as if the difficulty level of our investigators was turned up a notch. I got a very real sense this week of real people, with real lives, with real problems.

[This is where I have edited out paragraphs of Cooper's letter about some of the people they are teaching.  Suffice it to say they are working with people who have experienced all manner of difficulties in life- fatally ill family members, women pregnant with unwanted children, addictions, victims of serious crime, parents who have kids in prison for serious crimes, and at the end of the day- people who have given up in trusting another human and have truly lost hope in any kind of better life for themselves and their families.]

This world is full of real people, with real problems. As young representatives of Christ, we don't offer anything of our own make, but we offer the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ, the one and only true and lasting remedy to the problems of this world. 

To end on a more happy note. Transfers are this week, we are both staying here and were are really excited to continue with our investigators! Elder N, my very good friend from the MTC was called to be the new Assistant to President. Craziness!

I love all you guys-  always look for opportunities to be a real friend...someone who looks to learn and help someone through their trials, someone who listens with care and without a speck of judgement. These are always the best and most effective ways to help someone get to know their Savior and Redemeer, even Jesus Christ. 

I love being a missionary. 
I love helping people. 
I love teaching the gospel of Christ. 
I know He lives. 

Elder Siebers

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

52. Itaborai, Rio de Jeneiro

7 July 2014

Hey Everyone! 

I hope you all had a great 4th of July. Much like Christmas, it was very hard to imagine that the 4th was happening there in the states. The atmosphere is completely different here, and it's cooler than ever! 

We had a great week! We had a conference to meet our new mission president, President Cabral from Forteleza! He's incredibly funny and very animated. He has brought an entirely new vision to the mission and has made some awesome changes in the teaching format here. 

An actual photo of Itaborai from Cooper.

His whole theme is to not only focus on the baptism, but bringing the converts to the temple. He has made an emphasis on teaching ALL the lessons before the investigators are baptized, we have to bring the teaching records to every baptismal font to make sure everything was taught, (which will also help missionaries maintain the area books) and then we MUST teach them all the lessons again after baptism. These are all things that should be done but because our focus had been different many times, those important things fell through the cracks. I'm excited for more teaching before the baptism, more people truly prepared to make a sacred covenents and to live it, and not just to stop at the baptism but to continue on, helping them go to the temple! Exciting stuff!

We had two amazing highlights this week. One was with A. I dont think I've quite explained her story yet. Her husband J was baptized a little over a year ago, and since that time the missioanaries have been working with her. She has had a date for baptism before but they always fell through. When me and my comp came here together to open this area she was passed to us from the other Elders. I was a bit anxious at first, because the trade in a missionary can be difficult, you have to rebuild that trust, and in this case both were switching out. We had to start from scratch, but maybe that's just what she needed. We focused on building trust and getting to know her, showing her that we are here only to help, not pushing the word baptism too much and helping her be ready. She goes to church every Sunday, and after a year she's pretty much a member, just without baptism. She knows she wants to be baptized and that's why we didn't want to push it too much. Well this week we brought the heavy artillery. My comp testified about his family and how his father and mother both drank and smoked and how they overcame it. We let the Spirit work with her.  I love silence, it's one of the best techniques in teaching. We let her think. After some time I asked how she was feeling. She said "normal", trying to hold back the tears. We let it sit for another few minutes. I then asked, "what are you thinking about?" She responded "a lot of things". She's a person that doesn't like to express how she is feeling, likes to keep it all inside, but it was clear that she was having a very strong spiritual moment. J was a but uncomfortable with the silence and kept making whistle sounds but not even that could break the intensity of the moment. He closed the message and invited her to pray. She hasnt prayed once with the missionaries and she did this time! PROGRESS. After the prayer she said, "It won't take long for my baptism"  INTENSE.

We also taught a new family this week. We contacted J with her son B in the street a few weeks ago  She started telling us about her son that past away a year ago and told he a bit about the Plan of Salvation. We had a great lesson with her and her husband J.  We taught a bit of the Restoration, everything about the Plan of Salvation and also about the Gospel of Christ. They agreed to come to Church and on Sunday morning we went, picked them up and brought them to church. In Elders Quorum they disputed about watching television on Sundays and I was kinda afraid about what J would think. Gospel Principles [Sunday School class] went well and we talked about service. After the class, J wasn't feeling well, she doesn't sleep well anymore, hardly eats and is just suffering to put it best, because of her son. She wanted to leave but she managed to stay for the best part- Testimony meeting. She said she was immediately feeling better once the meeting got started. The testimonies went well. I think what struck them the most was a testimony from a 12 year old girl from the ward. She spoke about faith, better than I can, and talked about how she has faith that her father (a nonmember) will stop drinking and smoking, become a member of the church someday and she she will finally hear from him that he loves her. She was emotional and it was fantastic. What this girl goes through must have struck them deep. They are excited to come to church next week!

Fantastic Week. There were even more wonderful things that happened, but that's all I have time for for now. I thank you all for the prayers this week for our investigators, they truly were answered!

I love you all!

Elder Siebers