Monday, July 28, 2014

Another Week in Othello

So I think the best thing to happen this week is it wasn't a million degrees outside. In fact quite the opposite happened. Out of nowhere on Wednesday we got about an hour where it absolutely stormed around us. The winds were blowing dust everywhere from the freshly harvested fields plus the rain was coming down extremely hard. Makes for a nice difference from the 100+ degree weather we were having.

So one of the cool things about working with the Mixteco people is they LOVE basketball. About a year or so ago, they had started something at the church called Mixteco-ball. The missionaries opened up the church so that all the Mixtecans could use the gym one night a week to play some basketball with the Elders. It got so big that at one point over 80 people were coming on a weekly basis. Well long story short it got cancelled ‘cause some stuff happened but our Bishop is pushing for us to start it again. So every Friday night now we get to play basketball for an hour and a half fellowshipping investigators and non-members, and even getting them in for church tours. It’s only been going on for about a month so we are still trying to get the word out but I can honestly say I never thought I would be able to play basketball and call it missionary work. I guess it’s time for me to get over my long-standing hatred for the sport.

But for sports that I do like, one of the perks of working with Hispanics is they LOVE soccer. We had a ward party on Thursday night celebrating Pioneer Day (the day the Mormon Pioneers first entered the Salt Lake Valley) with all the wards here in Othello. Several investigators and non-members came plus there was a TON of awesome food but after everyone had eaten, a soccer game kind of broke out. We joined our investigators playing for what we thought was gonna be just a minute but ended up being like an hour. Pro tip: dress shoes do NOT make good soccer shoes. It was a lot of fun though. Good fellowshipping plus some soccer. Couldn't have gone better.

And in the random department this week, we stopped by someone’s house to see if he had a few minutes we could come in and talk. He didn't have too long so we just talked for a sec on his doorstep and then one of my companions says "Well, we will get going now ‘cause your tortillas are burning." He turns around and lo and behold, there were a couple of pitch black tortillas sitting on the stove smoking like crazy. We all chuckled and said goodbye. It’s these moments that take an ordinary day and make it interesting.

And thus ends another week in the Mission. Here’s a quote one of my Zone Leaders gave me before I left my last zone to start my adventures here in Othello:

"Act like you've been there before."

More often than not, if you don't say anything, no one will have to know you're brand new.

And with that, I'm off.

Elder Kupferer

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Well, this sure has been an adventurous week. I doubt many of you are following this closely but some of you may have noticed that six weeks has passed by since the last time I have mentioned anything about transfers. Well, today is that day. Last Wednesday I finally left Chelan. It was surprisingly sad to leave the area but at the same time, I am excited to continue my service in another area. I have been switched to a city called Othello, about an hour north of Kennewick, or 2 hours south of Chelan. It took us 8 hours to get here but that was because we had to sit for 6.5 hours waiting for some other missionaries. That is too long to sit in a church building. Anyways, Othello has about 10,000 people in it, or about twice what Chelan has in the off-months. The interesting thing about Othello, though, is it has the highest population of people from the state of Guerrero, Mexico. Why do I mention this, you ask? Good question. I'll tell you. In Guerrero, although they do speak Spanish, they mostly speak a language called Mixteco. It’s a dialect that comes from up in the mountains of the state, and let me tell you, it does not sound like Spanish. It honestly sounds more like an Eastern language (i.e., Japanese, Chinese, something completely foreign like that) than a dialect of Spanish. And how do I know this? Because yours truly has the calling of attempting to learn the language. There are no books for it really, only a handful of members speak it, and my comp that speaks it goes home in 2 weeks. Lucky me. Regardless, I'm excited for the challenge. Never thought I would come home from my mission trilingual.

In my little time I have thus far here in Othello though I've loved it. The people are great and are always willing to help us. The members are awesome, as always.

So since I'm still trying to wrap my head around having to learn another language, I haven't come up with much to report on this week but I assure you I will have more to say next week. I just need to let the shock of picking up a foreign language wear off a bit and I'll be good to go.

In the meantime, I am going back to Leadership Camp for Marching Band my senior year for this week's quote. It’s been on my mind a lot lately so I thought I would share it.

"No one cares how much you know unless they know how much you care."

Until next week!

Elder Kupferer

Monday, July 14, 2014

This Place is Burning Up….In More Ways than One

So first the sun has decided to just hate hard core on Elder Kupferer. It’s been above 90 all week and more often than not almost a hundred plus. That much sun plus a shirt and tie makes for a not very happy Elder Kupferer. When I park the car at night to go home it shouldn't still be 87 degrees outside

So the second thing that’s on fire is the missionary work. I want to share the story of a man we shall call Eric. So Eric is the same age as me. He was a referral from the Bishop (he's like the pastor of the congregation) when I first got to Chelan 6 months ago. We tried and tried contacting him for about a month but he was next to impossible to find at home so we stopped trying. Well fast forward two months and my last companion and I find ourselves with nothing to do up in Manson one evening so my companion suggested we go try by Eric again. I will admit to having been a little skeptical saying ‘he wasn't there and it wasn't worth our time’ but since I didn't have any better suggestions my comments were kind of null and void at that point. So we try him and as luck would have it, he's home. He lets us right in and we get a time set up for a return appointment. So we start teaching him and the first lesson goes super well and so we invite him to be baptized and he says he needs to. It’s something the rest of his family in Mexico had done and he thinks it would be important. Well fast forward a month to when that date was supposed to be and it ends up not happening. He texted us saying he didn't want to be baptized anymore which was devastating for us so we give him a few days and then try by a few days later to see what happened. Well come to find out he had a problem with alcohol. He didn't think he was ready and he was super afraid of making that covenant with God and then falling short and screwing up later on. We reassure him that it’s okay and that the whole purpose of the Gospel is to help us change and be better people, and that God was almost expecting us to fall short from time to time, which is why he sent his Son Jesus Christ. This seemed to reassure him quite a bit and so we invited him to read from the Book of Mormon and pray and we would check in a few days later. Well a few days later the Bishop is with us who also happened to be Eric's high school principal so we stop by to see how he was doing and he told us that when he got home from work he was thinking of what he should do and he said that he just felt like he should read. I pick up my jaw and ask him what he had read to which he replied 2 Nephi 31. Throughout the course of the lesson we come to find out he just "happened" to read Mosiah 2 and Alma 7, basically hitting Elder Kupferer's highlight reel of the Book of Mormon. It was such a powerful lesson and we all 3 reassured him that he was ready and he had made the changes necessary, all he needed to do was kick alcohol and come to church. There’s an addiction recovery group in Wenatchee (about an hour south) but you can call into the meetings so we said we would get him the name and number of the person he needed to call. We make some calls of our own and about a week later get the information and stop by again to give it to him. He says thanks but he had already found a group locally here in Chelan. I'll explain later in this post about why I won't be able to see his baptism but even just seeing this change in him has been so amazing. To see his whole disposition change has been a miracle. He visibly looks just happier and as if an invisible load has been lifted off his back. The power of living Christ's gospel and applying his Atonement is such a blessing and I am so thankful for this chance I've had to work with him. 

So the third thing that was burning was Chelan itself. Like literally, on fire. Last Tuesday about 20 miles down the freeway in a place called Entiat what started as just a small fire to burn some yard waste ended up burning over 25 square miles. It lasted about a week before they finally got it under control but that whole week there was a thick cloud of smoke across the entire skyline plus a nice cloud of smoke that settled in the Lake Chelan Valley. Apparently every year in this area there are always super bad fires because of all the super dry brush and the inaccessibility of the mountainous terrain. Thankfully the fire burned in a back mountain area so not much was damaged. 

And for this week’s example of someone not thinking things all the way through, I need to give a little background. As missionaries, since we do what we do full time, we don't spend time on computers other than to write blog posts or email our mothers, nor do we get phones that do anything more than text and call, which barely even do that. So with that in mind, this past week we all got new insurance cards, and on the back it says "For additional information, scan this QR code, or visit *website*."

Because my $20 phone can definitely scan QR codes. Way to go missionary medical. Way to go. 

And so there really isn't any explanation for this other than it was a random thought that went through my head this week. Imagine for a second you're serving in the ward that President Monson or Elder Holland or any of the General Authorities really, and on Sunday you get the dinner calendar back and you see "Uchtdorf" or "Bednar" signed up for that week. I think that would be the most intense dinner of your life. How would you even give a spiritual thought? You would say something like "There was a quote I liked in Preach My Gospel" and they would respond back with "Oh yeah I remember writing that page." Anyways, just a little insight into what goes through my brain late at night. 

And now for the quote this week, I pulled this one from a sign I found in a little family-owned restaurant.

"My wife says I don't listen to her; at least I think that’s what she said."

Well I hope everyone has a cool next week and the surrounding areas don't go up in smoke!

Elder Kupferer

[Editor's Note]
Elder Kupferer said that he would explain later in his letter why he wouldn't be able to see Eric's baptism. If you have read this far, you have already figured out that he never explained why. He unfortunately ran out of time and promises to send more details next week but the short version is that on Wednesday (7/16/14) he is being transferred to Othello, WA to a) become a District Leader and b) learn the Mysteco language. From what I have gathered, Mysteco (also spelled "Mixteco", among other spellings) is the language spoken in the Oaxaca area of Mexico and Othello, WA has a large population from that region. Stay tuned for more details.

Monday, July 7, 2014


Well I hope everyone had a fun and safe Fourth of July weekend! Mine wasn't terribly fun but it sure was safe. With a 6 PM curfew and instructions to avoid Chelan like the plague we basically just did a lot of service all weekend. From what we heard, it sounds like the firework shows up here were pretty cool. At least I learned how to put up sheet rock though. And, how heavy ice cream machines can be. But it’s all okay because we helped some members pick cherries off their tree and an investigator pick some blueberries and let me tell you, it is impossible to beat freshly picked cherries nor blueberries. Those made the weekend totally worth it. Especially when you combine it with soft serve. Best. Stuff. Ever.

There was a pretty big disappointment this week though. As some of you may recall, Tuesday mornings we help out at the local food bank and they usually let us take some food home with us. Well this week somebody had donated a box of Samoas. Not Caramel Delites, but Samoas. At first I was a little apprehensive and commented to one of the sisters that I thought they had stopped making those and so the box had to be several years old. She said no they had actually started making them again so I thought I was the luckiest man alive and grabbed it like it was going out of style and contemplated how delicious it would be crumbled a top some soft serve ice cream. Fast forward a few days and we are at home and as per the norm I was hungry so I grabbed a bowl and served me up a nice size helping of soft serve and then walked back inside to grab the Samoas. Well I open the box and the five cookies in one tray were stuck solid together. I manage to break one off and try it really quick to see if the taste was still good and ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you it was not. It was one of the most disgusting things I had ever tasted. Girl Scout cookies do not age well. I was so sad I almost started crying. And then I remembered the freshly picked blueberries in the fridge so that helped but it was still a rather disappointing night. I'm not sure I can ever trust a box of cookies from the food bank again. 

And in other news, if you want to seriously confuse a set of missionaries, drive past them when they're walking down the street, slow down to a crawl right next to them, and very conspicuously take a picture of them on your iPhone, and then speed away. It will leave them speechless for a little bit, make them contemplate fame as the picture goes viral, and cause one of them to mention it on his blog. Don't ask me how I know this. Just trust me on this one. 

So unfortunately no quotes from this week come to mind at the moment so I am going to go back a few weeks (months? I don't even remember) to a Stake Conference we had with  Elder Aidukaitis of the First Quorum of the Seventy. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, a leader from the church that covers a large area came and talked specifically with the members in the Wenatchee/Cashmere valley. Since it seems to be the only topic today, he was speaking on “Hastening the Work of Salvation.” He was commenting on how there are a lot of good ways to invest our time but right now the work of salvation needs to be the #1 priority in our lives, whether for the living of the dead. But he said: 

"If you were God for a day and saw the state of the world, wouldn't you want to hasten YOUR work?" 

I know I would. With the moral decay happening at a faster and faster rate we see today, the only choice we have is to stand firm in our morals and beliefs. And I'm not talking just Mormons. If Christians and Muslims and Jews and Buddhists and Atheists around the world would just stand up for the beliefs that worked pretty well the past several millennium, the world would be in a much better place. 

And with that food for thought, I sign off. 

Stay awesome America. 

Elder Kupferer