Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Columbia River Washington Temple

Hello Everyone!

So you’re probably thinking “Where was my favorite blogger this week?” Truth is I don't have the answer to that particular question but I can tell you that now I am here so hopefully that will help a little bit. We had the chance to go to the temple (Columbia River Washington Temple) with our zone this morning so we had to push our P-Day (our email time) back to Tuesday. It was an awesome experience. 

Something else that was awesome - ELDER BALLARD CAME!!!!!!! It was so cool. On Saturday he, Elder Richard J. Maynes, and Elder Brad K. Risenmay [see editor’s note at end of blog] all came and spoke to the entire mission - all 230 of us. They all gave great talks and advice and got everyone super pumped for missionary work. Also since the entire mission was there, we took a picture of the entire mission with him. If you thought the marching band picture was intense, think again. They also ordered pizza for all of us. I do not regret eating five slices. Not one bit. 

The next day we also had the opportunity to hear Elder Maynes speak again (at a special Stake Conference which was yet again really inspiring. It was also kind of fun because Elder Rosero and I got to translate again. Lots of fun as always. 

Also another interesting fact, not related to the proceeding paragraphs but interesting none the less, we saw the mom of one of our investigators take chickens from the coup to get ready to cook. Like all of it. It was slightly disturbing..... but hey I guess I still get the cultural experience even though I'm hundreds (thousands?) of miles from Mexico. Awesome. 

So a cool story for the week in regards to missionary work. We got a new investigator this week that was already pre-taught and pre-committed to baptism. She met a member through snap-chat (I guess all sorts of technology are helping to hasten the work) and then started taking the lessons with this family in Kennewick with the sister missionaries there and then decided to get baptized. Meanwhile my comp and I had no idea whatsoever that any of this was going on until we get a call from their ward mission leader (a member from the ward that is in charge of communication between the missionaries and the wards) that essentially went like this "Hey so there’s this young women that lives in Benton City but has been taking the lessons in Kennewick. She's getting baptized in two weeks. When can you meet?" Fast forward to Sunday night when we were supposed to have a lesson with her but then here come the sister missionaries and her fellowshippers (friends from the ward). That conversation went like this. "I want to get baptized Saturday. Can we start figuring that out?" My comp and I just sort of stared for a second then after picking our jaws off the floor said sure. So that’s the cool story for the week. 

That’s about it for this week. I hope everything is going well back in Sunny Southern California! Up here it’s already below freezing at night and only about 50's + wind chill. What is this cold thing going on up here? 

Stay awesome, 

Elder Kupferer

[Editor’s Note]  Elder Brad K. Risenmay, from Othello, Washington is an Area Seventy.  Area Seventies give part-time voluntary Church service within their assigned geographic areas and support area presidencies in international areas.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Despicable Me Minion Pumpkins

Hola mis amigos!

Another great week has flown by here in the amazing Washington Kennewick Mission. This week was extra special because we had a baptism on Saturday and then a confirmation on Sunday. The spirit was super strong during the baptism and then again during the confirmation. I actually had the opportunity to do the confirmation which was doubly awesome ‘cause it was in Spanish. It is crazy to feel the Spirit in two languages now. Definitely one of the perks of serving Spanish speaking. 

Another cool thing about being here (at least in Benton City) is how unbelievably amazing the members are. I swear when you put on the name tag there’s like five or six families that sort of adopt you. One sister is always offering us dinner when no one has signed up (which doesn't happen too often cause Benton City is awesome like that) and then there are other families that are just as crazy as ours which always makes for entertaining dinners and then others still are practically missionaries themselves. We always are going out on exchanges where members either come with us or we split up and go with two elders to get double the work done. It’s really cool. Especially since a lot of the elders are our age (or older). 

On Sundays here we are also part of the choir. It’s great to be singing again. Some habits die hard though. May or may not have caught myself raising my hand at a mistake while singing...... (Northwood choir students unite!)

Another random fact to close this week’s letter…there is a house we drive by everyday that has pumpkins out for Halloween.... painted like the minions from Despicable Me. By far the best pumpkins I have ever seen. 

Take care and I'll write again next week. 

Elder Kupferer

Monday, October 14, 2013

Badger Mountain (?)

Hello everyone!

Mission life has been pretty awesome recently. The work is coming along great and I am really enjoying everything. Here are some fun points for this week.

Since Benton City is only about 3000 people, there’s only one High School with a population about the size of my graduating class. As such, the entire town rallied behind them for homecoming this past week. All over the town they had signs painted onto the windows in support and things like that. It was really cool.

The weather up here is really nice. It’s a little bit chilly right now – it’s about as cold as Irvine will get in the dead of winter (although I would hardly consider what Irvine goes through a winter) - so we will see what this winter brings. Everyone is saying that it is supposed to be a pretty bad winter but it should be interesting nonetheless. Thankfully since I'm Spanish speaking I have a car so I am not too worried about it just yet.

Our mission president decided to change one of our key indicators last week at zone conference. We used to report every week how many OYM's (or Open Your Mouth's) we had (essentially how many non-members we talked to through knocking doors or responding to potential contacts) but he has decided to do member lessons instead. We now are focusing on working with the members to try and help show them that sharing the gospel isn't as bad as it may seem at first. Hopefully we will help them gain confidence in sharing a brief message which we hope will find new investigators. So far it’s been working great.

Here in the east part of Washington it’s pretty flat but we are right at the base of some foothills and had the opportunity last week on P-Day [Preparation Day] to go hiking a bit up a hill called
Badger Mountain. Why it is called Badger Mountain instead of Badger Hill I have no idea since it is by no means a mountain but alas it was still a cool hike. The view from the top was pretty cool. In the picture below, the little valley I believe is Benton City.

I think I mentioned this earlier but either way Benton City is what we call a "zebra area" because we as missionaries speak both Spanish and English. Right now we don't have enough Spanish people to create a branch and so we have the opportunity to translate what they are saying in Sacrament Meeting into Spanish. Yesterday I had the opportunity to do so. It was kind of crazy because a) I'm still learning Spanish and b) they don't really go that slow for us to translate. But it was still a neat experience. I feel like I did pretty well but there was definitely some heavenly help going on.

As for an update on my Spanish it’s coming along really well. Still having a bit of trouble understanding when they start speaking super fast but overall its coming along great.

So to end this, I have some exciting news. Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is coming to our mission!!! It is super rare to have the opportunity to hear from a member of the Twelve like this and he is coming just to speak to us. It’s gonna be amazing!

And with that, I sign off. Everybody have a great day and I'll see you again next week.

Elder Kupferer

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Benton City!

Hellloooooooo everybody!  Last week I promised a schedule of day to day life so here you go:

6:30 – 8:00 AM: wake up, exercise (and by that I mean pushups and sit ups), shower, get ready, eat breakfast (yay cereal!)

8:00 – 9:00 AM: Personal study. We generally focus on the lessons we are going to teach and things like that. 

9:00 – 10:00 AM: Comp [companionship] study. We go over plans for the day and then do something called 42 Principles. It takes each principle from the lessons in Preach My Gospel and goes a little bit more in depth. It’s really cool. 

10:00 – 11:00 AM: Language study. We will either read the Spanish Scriptures or watch some of the DVDs we have in Spanish. 

11:00 AM -12:00 PM: Lunch!

12:00 – 1:00 PM: 12 Week Program. This is the program to help new missionaries ease into missionary life and understand what’s going on. 

1:00 – 5:00 PM: Missionary work. We go around and visit members, teach lessons, find people to teach, knock some doors. All that fun stuff. 

5:00 – 6:00 PM: Dinner. Usually we have dinner with the members here. Every night someone will invite us over so we go have dinner then share a scriptural thought. 

6:00 – 9:00 PM: More missionary work!!! 

6:00 – 9:30 PM: Planning for the next day. 

9:30 – 10:30PM: Various things getting ready for bed. 

10:30 PM: Lights out. 

Now for some cool stuff: 

Since I am a Spanish [speaking] missionary, we have a car to drive around the great BC [Benton City]. It’s awesome. We have to be careful though because we only have a limited number of miles a month. We usually are pretty good about it though. 

Also here in Benton City there are lots of pets and animals. It’s really enjoyable seeing so many dogs and cats everywhere. Always makings knocking doors interesting...

So even though I’m in the US doesn’t mean I've missed my share of interesting foods. So far the only terribly interesting food I’ve had (frozen pizza and lasagna I’m sure are pretty commonplace) is anticucho. It’s a Peruvian dish and is barbecued cow heart. 

Not as disgusting as people might think. The texture was a little off but the flavor was really good. 

That’s all for this week. Take Awesome everyone!

Elder Kupferer

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Week 1 in Washington!

Hello from the land of the free!

I flew back from Mexico this week and it has been awesome being in the states once again. But more importantly, it’s been awesome here in my mission in Washington. Let’s start from Tuesday.

Tuesday morning I woke up at 2 AM to be on the bus at 3 for a flight at 6:15. We then flew 2 hours to Dallas, then 4 hours to Seattle, then 30 minutes to Pasco. That last leg was really cool. We only got to 17000 feet in a Q400 prop plane. That was really cool. Once we landed, the 6 of us that flew to the Kennewick mission walked inside and were met by the President, his wife, and his two assistants. They loaded our bags into a trailer and then we all drove to the mission home. It was weird being able to read and understand road signs once again. Back at the mission home, we met the rest of the 22 missionaries that had flown in from Provo earlier that day. Of those 22, there were actually 5 who were waiting on Visas to fly to Denmark and 1 waiting for a Visa to Australia. It was interesting hearing prayers in Danish. Anyways... after we took care of some quick pictures and the like we walked to the church just around the corner and had dinner. Although I’m sure that after 6 weeks of cafeteria food anything would have been good, dinner that night seemed especially amazing. Especially when they pulled out fresh homemade brownies for dessert. It was a little slice of heaven. After we had meetings and then dispersed to some various places for the night before heading back to the church again the next morning. We had a little bit of introduction to the area and rules about the phones/money cards/cars/etc then gathered together with some other missionaries that had come together to meet our new companions/trainers.

My companion is Elder Rosero from South Jordan, Utah. He was born in Columbia and lived there for four years so Spanish is not a problem for him. Which is great news for me. Overall he is a great guy. We are getting along fine and have been progressing a lot in the work. He says my Spanish is good but I sort of just laugh. With time, maybe, but not right now.

We are currently serving in an area called Benton City. It’s a little town off the side of the main highway. A lot of the people here work in the farms just outside the city so there isn't too much income but overall it’s a pretty nice town. No Irvine by any means but Irvine, as we already know, is its own little bubble. We are staying in a little side house of a sweet older lady who lives in the ward. Pretty small but it’s still rather comfortable. The members here are fantastic. Everybody is super nice and welcoming and supporting. We have dinner appointments every night and they are always super enjoyable.

Since Benton City is kind of small, we are the only missionaries in the area. As such, we get to teach in both Spanish and English. They just put Spanish missionaries here a few months ago so the Spanish population in the ward is pretty small but it’s growing. We have several investigators we use Spanish with but also have English. It’s nice switching between the two.

The weather here is great. Well, at least for me anyways. I just missed the hot season so we shall reevaluate when I’m walking around in 100 degree weather. So far it’s been pretty chilly. Lots of wind and cloud cover more often than not. It has rained a few times but pretty light and not for very long. We are at the foot of a hill (they call it a mountain but the hill behind Northwood is bigger than their hill) and so the winds can get kind of crazy. But it’s always fun walking into the wind and having your tie fly into your face.

Sunday here was a little weird. It’s was kind of strange going to a normal meeting again but the great thing about the church is whether you're in Irvine or Benton City, Washington or the middle of Siberia the meetings all work the same. The one thing that is different is we get to translate the meeting for the few members that only speak Spanish. They don't have enough Spanish members for a Spanish branch so we have a little system where we sit in the front off to the side and speak into a little headset that transmits to several receiving boxes/headphones. It’s quite nifty actually. Thankfully my companion translated this week but in two weeks after General Conference yours truly will be the one sitting in front of the ward trying to translate to Spanish in real time. It'll be challenging but I am excited.

That's about all for this week. Next week I'll try to have a little bit more about the daily life.

Hasta Luego!

Elder Kupferer