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, October 27, 2014

68. Alcantara, Rio de Janeiro

27 October 2014

Well another solid week has flown by and I just continue to be blown away at how fast the time passes! We had a great week here! Some of the highlights included going on division in Itaboraí, showing the new elders how to get around,  and I also got to visit some old investigators including X! Photo attached! That was awesome!!!!!!! X2 was also baptized that day, I barely missed it but I got to congratulate her and unite with the Rio Bonito clan one last time!

We are also working with an investigator here whose name is Y.   Hes been progressing rapidly, but we also run into problems even with the greatest people. He doesn't want to come to church because his other church meets at the same hour. He's been going there for 20 years calling them out on what he says are "their false doctrines and ordinances", yet doesn't want to leave for that purpose! Kinda funny, but we're having a hard time bringing him to the Church of Christ. He says that he will, but Sunday comes around and he decides not to. This  Sunday we went early to talk to him, showed up while he was taking a shower and answered the door in his towel. We had an intense conversation with him that morning. He was planning on going to his other church and we urged him to say a prayer and ask God what he should do. He resisted but did... and then went to the other church.... but it won't get our faith nor our hope down. We're gonna keep working with him because it will all work out in the end!

Also we had interviews with President Cabral. I expressed my concern to him about how I don't want to finish my mission without learning the most fundamental thing there is to learn during these two years. I know what things I need to learn, but I was just worried that maybe I was missing something. He closed his eyes for a moment and told me that the answer was rather vague, but that it would be up to me to interpret the answer.
"Andar com Deus"
"Walk with God"
I have been reflecting on this phrase all week, and I still haven't fully interpreted it. My understanding is following though.
This past General Conferance, a lightbulb went off in my head about the companionship of the Holy Ghost and the Priesthood. I think it was during President Eyring's Priesthood session talk... It's something we say, but its another things to comprehend and live accordingly. In all places where I go, I am accompanied by the presence of the Holy Ghost and the Holy Priesthood which I bear.;. I need to have a constant remembrance that they are in REALITY on my side. Walking ever step with me. If I enter a place where they would not enter, neither shall I enter in such a place. If I begin to do something that they would not approve of, I as well shall not do such. I guess what I mean to say is that sometimes we forget that these blessings are promised to be CONSTANT companions. I easily forget this and feel sometimes that it's just me and no one else. In the same sense walking with God can be interpreted very literally. We need to see our selves walking along his side. Doing the things he does. Tracing his footsteps. Obeying his words at all times and in all places.
I love you guys so much, and hope you have a fantastic weeeek!!

Elder Siebers

Monday, October 20, 2014

67. Alcantara, Rio de Janeiro

20 October 2014

Hey everyone, just one more incredible week here in the mission. This week couldn't have gone any more smoothly than it did. I went on several divisions this week which included a day as a trio which was a new experience for me, but it was fun teaching with three!

I am so excited to be working in this ward. We have a new Ward Mission Leader who got back from his mission two weeks ago and is completely devoting all his time to help us. We had a correlation meeting this week with a newly called activities planner and we put some awesome things together for this week! We are going to start Ward Family Hone Evening, and some other activities to come with the holidays. I'm so stoked to be in this ward!

Y was also baptized this week, we got to the area and he had already been prepared by other elders, but he's awesome! He understands everything really well. He got to know the church through a member that invited him to sing in the stake choir. Always invite people to activities because you never know....

We had Stake Conference this week which was just full of surprises including President Cabral's appearance and talk. 

Also I got to see many familiar faces from Itaboraí! It's kinda weird to be transferred within the same stake, but awesome at the same time. I snapped a photo with Leo, I think it should have sent it to you by now....He said he had talked to mom and dad this week?
Life is swell, I'm excited for the future and just trying to soak up all that I can with the months remaining. I love you all!

Elder Siebers

Monday, October 13, 2014

66. Alcantara, Rio de Janeiro

13 October 2014

Hey everyone! 
So this week was amazing! There's something awesome that happens when two missionaries get together for the first time in a place where neither of them have set foot and with hope and faith that things will start happening, they do. So we got working. We knew where our house and the chapel were. The previous Elders didn't leave ANY addresses behind, just some notes on some investigators they were teaching. We hit the pavement, we talked to a TON of people this week and already found some people to teach. 
The most incredible was a man named Y, whom we began teaching at his doorstep and then he invited us in to learn more. We watched the Restoration movie and he related very well to Joseph Smiths story. He has been confused for some time about all the world religions, he's been seeking to be baptized and take of the sacrament and he told us that his main concern is that he wants to be ready when the Savior comes again. One day before we knocked on his door he was watching TV and saw a program about the "mormons" on TV and was interested. Then who shows up?

Oh, I don't know... maybe THESE two?

We also added an investigator who is a good friend of a member that I actually met in Itaboraí, and he's on date to be baptized this Saturday! Y2 is incredibly prepared and super excited to become and member of the Church!
Anyway, we had some incredible experiences this week. My companion, Elder L is awesome and is very charismatic and everyone loves him. Hes a hoot! The ward is very friendly and I am absolutely stoked to be serving here along with Elder L.

We are living in a MASSIVE apartment, it's not super clean but its spacious. 2.5 bathrooms! I'm with my Ecuadorian comp and a Chilean and another Brazilian...

Alcantara is an old city and has a MAJOR bus stop that runs through the center of town. You have to come here to catch any bus to any other part of Niteroi, São Goncalo or Itaborai. I passed through Alcantara TONS of times in my time in Itaborai.

View of Alcantara from their massive bedroom.
General Conference in his last week in the Itaborai Ward, but ironically in a Chapel in Alcantara.

So yeah that's about all for this week, great things are to come!
I love you all soooo much!

Elder Siebers
PS.  I am 100% perfectly healthy now!

Monday, October 6, 2014

65. Itaborai, Rio de Janeiro

6 October 2014

WOW, Well I'm sorry for the late email today. I don't have anytime to even begin to write about the many adventures I had this week! 

Here's just a quick summary, I hope it doesn't leave you all with more questions than answers.

The week began with interviews with President.  He stated that Elder S and I would stay together at the next transfer.

Thursday comes around and I wake up with some epic body pains. I thought it might have been just an awkward night's sleep so I just kept chugging. At around 5:30, trying to make a visit,  I just about passed out! We sat briefly and headed to the chapel, called sister Cabrel and one of the  craziest nights of my life ensued. Sister Cabral recommended I go to the hospital. Yeah so there isn't a hosptal that accepts Sul America health insurance so the public hosptal it was for me. I'll have to write a novel of the experience another day. We got there at 6pm and I left at 4am... walking in the rain heading home. (our cellphone died :D ) Good news is that in 10 hours I learned I have an infection. After a blood test and xray they "weren't able to localize the infection" but they hardly tried- really poor quality hospital. They recommended some meds I am 3 days on them and I'm almost back at 100%. It was easily one of the most brutal sicknesses I've caught, but it's all over now. Please don't worry mom, I'm really fine!!!!

X is on fire this week! After she almost quit for good she took the invite to read the Book of Mormon seriously this week and it's incredible to witness its promise come true. Her whole aura changed this week. She was so happy and loved talking about the things she was learning, reading and feeling as she read throughout the week!

Conference was amazing of course! We had a baptism of X2 who is a friend of a member! We're working with her mom and other friend as well. In no time Rio Bonito will open a branch!

I have no photos or anything today, because today turned into a crazy day. 

Saturday night I found out I was being transferred (I told you its not even worth predicting because even when Pres tells you you are staying anything can happen!!)  I dragged my loaded beaten bags through public transportation which is always a hoot, to find out I'm moving areas RIGHT NEXT DOOR! We  literally caught a bus in my new area this morning. I was in the chapel in this area for General Conference this week. So funny!!  [For my local friends, it would be like taking all your belongings in two suitcases and traveling from  Canton to Manhattan via bus, only to find out you are moving to Bristol.  It does seem somewhat inefficient at times.]

So my new area is Alcântara. It's a town in the city of São Gonçalo, just west of Itaboraí. I'm only a 20 minute drive away from my old area! 

My new comp is another new missionary, he just finshed hs first 12 weeks in the field and he's a GREAT Elder!!! His name is Elder L, from Ecuador.  [Cooper's first non-Brazilian companion since arriving there!]

Our new apartment is a MASSIVE. It's on the 6th and final floor of an apartment complex. It's dirty, but that can be fixed. There are four of us missionaries here with plenty of space! 1 american, 1 from ecuador, 1 brazilian and 1 chilean!

All right family, I hope your weeks were a little more down to earth than mine was. I can't even think straight right now.! We are both new in the area, it's a SUPER busy place, and we have to explore it together to know whats going on! 

A lot of discovery work to be had this week, but adventures into the unknown excite me!

Google image of his new area:  I think he's gonna like it here!

I love you all so much

Elder Siebers

Thursday, October 2, 2014

64. Itaborai, Rio de Janeiro

29 September 2014

Well, I'm here again! It was a week full of good experiences as well as trials. My time here in Itaboraí, dividing the missionary labor in a ward, spending every waking moment of the last four months with Elder S has been an incredible experience. We have both grown so much together, and have become better missionaries together. In what may be our final week together here in Itaborai we are looking to finally break this dry spell of baptisms since day one. In Rio Bonito beginning last Sunday we began teaching [X2 and Y2], who are neighbors of a referral from members.  They have been going to church the past 3 weeks and have loved it. They don't comprehend all that we teach them , nor all that they learn at church, but most importantly they feel the spirit there each Sunday, and they always tell us how when it ends that say, "did it end already!?" They are on board to be baptized after the first session of General Conference in Alcântara where conference will be transmitted for the stake. It's going to be really special for everyone. Rio Bonito has already had the branch close twice in the past, and the stake is looking at the possibility to open it again. Two more baptisms and many more to come (waiting marriage) will help support the Branch big time. It's a huge sacrifice on our part to go there, 13 reais each trip which we don't receive reimbursement for, but it's worth it. I love seeing the work of the Lord march forward!

In other news we continued to teach [X] and overcome the many difficulties that come along with it. She has people talking to her daily about the Church, we fielded questions this week about animal sacrifices, brain washing and black people not being allowed to enter the church. We taught her almost every single day, and she is feeling the spirit stronger than any other investigator I have ever taught! She was set on this Saturday to be baptized and we planned it all out, the only thing that could prevent it was being absent at church this Sunday.   Lo and behold she got really sick on Saturday (when we had planned to bring her to a baptism of the other elders) and Sunday. We've had tooo much of this kinda stuff happening with our investigators and it is really soul crushing. But we won't give up, she´ll get better here soon, we'll continue to help her feel the spirit, plan again for the upcoming week, and all will work out. Mighty prayers are always appreciated! 

We also had zone conference this week, I learned a lot, I'm beginning to view my work a tad differently, in a good way! When I first walked into the chapel I came across a familiar face that shocked me. It was one of those weird moments where someone you know appears in a place you never thought! Elder S, who was in the other District at the MTC heading to Rio [back in July 2013], went to Gilbert with us [as a Visa waiter] and got his visa two weeks ago. He really struggled with the idea of switching missions [when missionaries hit the half way point of their mission and are still waiting for a VISA they are given the option to simply stay where they are currently on re-assignment] but went for it..... He's REALLY suffering with the switch, so elder N and I sat down and talked to him for a good while. It was REALLY hard leaving Gilbert after just 3 months there, imagine a year and 2 months! Really rough...

On the good side, I caught up with the most recent Madureira elders, J and T are doing fine, active and happy! Two elders from my district are being sent to Madureira together now. I sent them with a handwritten letter for J and T, and  encouraged them to prepare them for the temple. A year is passing by quickly and in Feb/March they could be on their way! I get goosebumps just thinking about it!

Another lady, who is a friend of J's, lives pretty much next door to the church, whom I taught a bit with E. C and E. P back in December/Jan, is going to to be baptized. 

Dad, I got a truck load of letter this week and enjoyed reading them throughout the week, thanks again!!!

Love you all so much and hope you have another good week, I know I will, I'll be back writing you guys here soon!

We're in the tie making business these days, finally putting to good use all the sewing equipment mom sent me with. First tie of the season, came out pretty well for my first time.  [Those who know me well will imagine just how exciting this was for me!  I sent him with a very small sewing repair kit- essentially a couple of needles and thread.  I have many questions about where he is getting fabric and if he made a pattern etc.  I have to assume he hand sewed the entire thing and I am highly impressed!]

Elder Siebers