Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Last Day in Mexico!

It’s finally here. After 18 years I am finally headed to my mission to serve the Lord for the next two years. Crazy stuff. Nevertheless, I am excited to have this wonderful once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I can’t wait to spend my entire life for 2 years helping people and fulfilling my missionary purpose - Invitar a las personas a venir a Cristo y ayudarlas a que reciban el Evangelio restaurado [Invite all to come unto Christ and help them receive the Restored Gospel]. I have learned so much here in the CCM both in Spanish and about the Gospel and I am looking forward to sharing my knowledge of how this plan can help make others happier and help them in their lives.

In terms of what’s happened in the past five days, not much. As is tradition though, my district sang a song during Sacrament Meeting on Sunday. It was a nice experience. It wasn’t quite as complex as “O Magnum” or “Prayer of the Children” but it was great singing again with my best friends here.

And with thought, I am signing off for the last time from the wonderful land of Mexico. ¡Hasta luego todos!

Elder Kupferer

Thursday, September 19, 2013

¡Viva Mexico!

This has been a rather interesting penultimate week here in Mexico.  Monday (9/16) Was Mexican Independence Day.  As such the CCM let us have some fun.  Saturday night they had a local youth group come (I believe they were all members) and they did some traditional dances. It was quite simply amazing. They had authentic costumes and the colors and skill shown by the dancers was mesmerizing.  At one point there were four guys who did some cool tricks with short little metal sticks almost like swords. There was flint on the swords and so when they’d hit the swords together sparks would go flying.  It was all very, very cool. I won’t be forgetting that for a while.

On Sunday night was when the big event happened. First a little history so this will make sense: Spain had been oppressing Mexico for several centuries and was treating them about as well as conquering countries did at the time. Then in 1810, Father Hidalgo had had enough of the oppression and poverty and started a revolution. On the night of September the 15th there was "un grito" (a cry) where they chanted ¡Viva México! 3 times before the revolution started the next day. Eleven very bloody years later they finally won their independence from Spain and established a constitution much like our own. Fast forward almost 200 years later, every September 15th the President of Mexico holds a national cry commemorating Father Hidalgo's call for revolution. He chants ¡Viva Hidalgo! and the rest of the country (yes - the entire country; its televised) chants back ¡Viva! He then does a couple more things culminating in ¡Viva México! three times. It was actually a really cool experience. Even though I’m only here for 6 weeks it was cool to be a part of something very special to them. If you all would like, I’m sure a quick YouTube search of "Mexico El Grito" would probably yield useful results so you can see what I am talking about.

 So thus far in the CCM the food has actually managed to become somewhat tolerable and dare I say good? For example, today we had barbecue chicken that actually tasted like barbecue chicken. We have also managed to work out what works well together to make the meals more desirable. For example, the pancakes when covered in mango or blueberry yogurt (yes, yogurt) are surprisingly quite good. Having said that however, I feel like some serious desensitization to the food has happened and I can’t wait to get back stateside and have an actual taco.

So here’s a cool quote we were told this week. "You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink, but you can put salt in its oats." I was told this in context to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ but I still thought it is a great quote that can be used for a lot of stuff. 

After six weeks and talking with "greenies" or newbs, beginners, what have you, I can pretty safely say that I have learned more Spanish in the past six weeks than I did in three years at High School. No offense to the teachers, but with the help of the Lord and the fact that I’m in Mexico speaking with natives my ability to speak and comprehend has improved a million times over. For example, we had a devotional speaker (they give talks about different spiritual subjects) who started his talk in English but slipped into Spanish and it took me (and my district) a minute to realize he had changed. Obviously there are still light years to go but it’s been amazing to see the progress. I can actually hold a normal conversation in Spanish. It’s great.

So during one of our classes we were talking about different conjugations (I am, he is, we are, that sort of thing). When talking about a single person, there is the personal, you (informal - talking with friends, young kids), and you (formal - like talking to a king or an elder)/he/she/it form. In Spanish they are (respectively) the “yo”, “tú”, and “él/ella/usted” form. Long story short so this doesn’t turn into a grammar lesson I always thought English just had the first and last but apparently I was wrong. In English, (I’ll use “to have” because that’s the only one I know this in) it is “I have”, “thou hast”, and “you have/he (or she) has”. Who knew that all along Shakespeare was talking to us like a bro? Definitely would have made English class a bit more entertaining.

And now a funny story to end today. Every other week, we get to drive to our temple that’s about 45 -60 minutes away (this is unrelated but we did it in 30 today; we think our bus driver was just exceedingly hungry). As I’ve explained before, traffic laws I am sure do not actually exist in Mexico and everyone drives like mad men down here. But I would have to say that the most entertaining (and most horrifyingly frightening) thing to happen during a bus ride was when we got cut off by nothing other than a backhoe. Yes, a giant yellow construction backhoe. It just decided that it would drive across the street to the construction site. I was too busy freaking out about running into it that I didn’t see where it was coming from but we did indeed get cut off by a backhoe. Fun times down in Mexico.

And thus ends the update for today. I leave early next week for Washington to start the main part of my mission. I am looking forward to the opportunity to learn and grow and will let you all know what it’s like (mostly because I fear the wrath of my mom should I stop emailing).

Until next time,

Elder Kupferer

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Week 4 in Mexico

Hello everyone!

So far, if it’s even possible, we’ve gotten into even more of a routine. But here is what has made the week interesting thus far:

Apparently, the MTC president down here in Mexico, President Pratt, is best friends with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. For those of you that don’t know, Elder Holland is one of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  For those of us in down here in the CCM, that was pretty crazy. Elder Holland is an excellent orator and never fails to inspire everyone. When we discovered he knew our president on a personal level, it was an interesting topic of discussion for the next several days. Also, he (President Pratt) is the great (maybe great great) grandson of one of the first members of the church, Parley P. Pratt. Presidente Pratt never ceases to amaze us.

Also down here in our little bubble in the CCM, we have a fair number of parrots that live in the palm trees down here. It was surprising to see little green birds flying around in the trees.

One of the things that happens in the limited social lives of elders in the CCM is a tie swap. It sounds just like what the name implies. A bunch of elders all gather in the living room of a casa and set out their ties and walk around bargaining for different ties. It looks like a sad attempt at a swap meet. It is (for me at least) kind of comical watching a bunch of elders try and sell ties. A lot of them were bad imitations of salesmen. I myself didn’t trade any because all my ties either mean something or I like them too much but it was probably a good thing I didn’t take any because the ties there were the definition of ugly.

Mom you’ll appreciate this. This week someone came around to check our houses for cleanliness and our room was the best in the casa. They even rewarded us with candy! and by candy I mean 1 Hershey's Kiss. But you can now live in peace and comfort knowing that you have prepared me well mother.

And now for you Spanish word for the day. The Spanish word for 'handcuff' is “esposa.” For those of you that don’t speak Spanish, esposa is also Spanish for wife. I’ll just leave it at that.

That’s about it for this week. I am now in my fifth week here in the CCM and my Spanish is progressing quite well. I can understand a lot of what the natives are saying (they sometimes have to repeat it once or twice) but I am learning a lot.

Until next week,

Elder Kupferer

Monday, September 9, 2013

¡Semana tres!


So far life down here in the CCM has pretty much settled into a nice routine. Wake up, study, breakfast, class, gym, lunch, TALL, study, more class, dinner, even more studying, then bed. So here is what I have managed to put together for an interesting update this week.

The weather. Even if I have already talked about it the weather has definitely changed. For most of the day the weather is absolutely perfect. Nice 75 degrees with a slight breeze. It is beautiful. Lately, however, whenever around 5 PM hits, it begins to pour. Not like Southern California rain. I mean biblical amounts of rain. It is amazing. I looked out the window one time and it honestly looked like a clip from a weather channel video on a tornado or something like that. After at least four straight days of this, the grass hasn’t had time to soak it all in and in the middle of the downpour, the lawns here become lakes. It is pretty awesome. I’ll try to get a picture out when I get to Washington and can finally buy an SD card reader.

Another interesting thing is that they just introduced Nutella into the options during breakfast and dinner. It is nice to have a little taste of home. But this is the funny part. One of the guys in our district has not had it up until now. He has since discovered the joys of Nutella and it is universally agreed that he will one day die from a Nutella-induced coma. The copious amounts he consumes every meal are most definitely not safe portions.

And now for the part I am particularly proud of. During gym time we are allowed 50 minutes to play sports/work out (they have a surprisingly nice weight room) and so often times we like to play Ultimate Frisbee. Thus far, we have only lost one game to the other undefeated team by one point in overtime. They have since left and we are now the reigning champs. It is great.

This week I got asked to teach our priesthood meeting this Sunday (along with my companions) so we will see how that goes.

Anyways that’s about it for this week. Life in the CCM is pretty much the same day in day out so hopefully in 3 weeks when I finally get back stateside things will be more interesting for you all.

¡Hasta luego!