Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Random Week

A random week. That’s about the only way to describe what happened. We will start with Tuesday.

So in case you haven't heard, the church is coming out with a new movie called "Meet The Mormons" on October 10, but since as missionaries we don't really go to movie theaters they gave our mission president a pre-release screening of it so we were able to go to Pasco this past Tuesday morning and watch it. Ladies and gentlemen, if you don't have any plans for October 10, make some to go see this movie. It’s like the "I'm a Mormon" videos on mormon.org but longer and better put together into a full-length documentary. It’s not meant to convert everyone to mormonism, rather show everyone we are normal people too that do normal things (South Park hasn't given us the best name). It’s a really cool documentary that just films the lives of people and how the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ plays a part in all of it. You should go see it and invite everyone you know to see it. It’s gonna be cool. For more info: MeetTheMormons.com

And on Wednesday, we went to a wedding. Yeup, you read right. A wedding. Long story short the bishop of our ward (the leader of the congregation) has the authority to marry people and since marriage is a big focus in the church we do it for free, and so he gets a call about someone wanting to get married that he had never met. And since they were non members, he invited yours truly to come to meet them and be witnesses should they not bring their own. It wasn't anything big (no mariachi bands unfortunately; I was kind of sad) but it was still a pretty cool and rather unique experience.

On Thursday, we talked to a guy riding a horse down the middle of the road. That doesn't happen everyday. In fact, I can safely say that was the first time I have ever talked to a guy on a horse.

Later that day (like 10 minutes later) we went to someone's house to meet with him and his roommate was watching (very loudly) Dragonball Z in Spanish. That was entertaining.

Friday night was pretty neat. We were walking around trying people and talking to people a couple of blocks away from the high school football field which was hosting a home game, so we heard every play, every 'tag', every fight song; we even heard "Thrift Shop" pep band style. NHS Marching Band, you better get on it. It was nice reminiscing on the good old days. In the meantime, keep rocking the new uniforms Northwood.

Anyways back to Othello, in case you don't remember from last week we now have a new planning system that basically takes until dinner on Fridays and so Friday night when we were walking around we were kind of down on ourselves because we hadn't had any lessons all day. Well three weeks ago we were in the same spot (both physically and not-having-had-any-lessonsally) and we ending up having a miracle lesson at 8:30 PM with some random guy who had his light on and let us in. Well for two weeks we tried to catch him again but he was either busy or drunk or not able to meet so we ending up stopping trying him. Well since we had nothing else to do his light was on so we tried him again, and he let us right in. What’s even better, he had read from the Book of Mormon and asked us how to pray. It was super seeing our diligence pay off and having such a rewarding experience at the end of the night. Much more rewarding than the McFlurry I was contemplating buying myself.

So for the quote this week, it comes from my companion on the car ride up into town Friday afternoon. We had to help someone really quick and so after driving around town right after school got out for a while, my companion leans over and says:

"Elder, I think you are the only white person I have seen today."

A conversation I would have never thought would occur in America. I guess Othello's nickname of M&M (Mexicans and Mormons) is well earned.

Have a great week everyone!

Elder Kupferer

Monday, September 22, 2014

!!¡¡!! Mexican Fiesta…WOOHOO !!¡¡!!

So for those of you that have been keeping way to close attention to my blog or happened to have Mexican relatives or just look for an excuse to party you might have noticed that Mexican Independence Day was this past week (September 16th). And since we are in a zone with only 3 sets of non-Spanish-speaking missionaries, we decided to follow suit with the rest of Mexico and have our own little missionary not-really-party kind of a party on P-Day [Preparation Day]. Our wonderful zone leaders divvied up assignments and we all came together at a member’s home with an expansive yard that was willing to host our festivities. We did normal preparation day activities such as soccer and frisbee and kickball (they have a small baseball diamond in their backyard) but the crowning event was the carne asada we threw together. We went to the local Mexican tienda [store], got some meat and cooked it ourselves, somehow managing to not give everyone food poisoning, since most of us had hardly cooked anything beyond Ramen. The APs (Assistants to the President) even graced us with their presence and partook of our wonderful deliciousness. It was a P-Day to remember.

The next day (Tuesday) was also one of those days that happens very few times in a missionary's life but that will change everything. Normally this transfer we were supposed to -have a 2-hour specialized training from the APs and the mission President with interviews throughout the day with him to discuss how things are going, etc. Well, not this time around. Instead of the normal 2-hour training, we got 7 hours. And instead of interviews this transfer, they got postponed to next transfer. But for a solid 2 hours our President gave an amazing training about changing mission culture. Somehow he managed to give a training session for 2 hours solid without even looking at notes. It will be exciting to see the changes that come as a result of it. 

But what about the other 5 hours you ask? Well, one of them was lunch. Always important. But! The other four were the APs introducing a new, revamped version of weekly planning. Every Friday in the past we would sit down and discuss the people we were meeting with for 2 hours and try and see what we can do to help them out and such. Well, now that 2 hours has been ramped up to anywhere between 4 to 6 hours. A member of the 70 [Quorum of the Seventy] gave the training to the neighboring Spokane mission and they saw such huge success from it that our mission President took it too. I'm not terribly excited about leaving the house until dinner, but the new planning seems like it will be super effective. 

And in other news, I was on exchanges with one of the zone leaders and so we went to the baptism of a man out in Basin City since the District Leader pertaining to that area didn't speak Spanish hence with the ZL did it but anyways, we were in Basin City for the baptism of a man who only spoke Spanish so naturally all his friends from the branch spoke Spanish too. One of these had stayed a little longer when we were talking after with the guy who got baptized (all in Spanish) when the convert got a call and stepped away. For some reason though, the three of us (who are all extremely white) continued talking in Spanish. It wasn't until the drive home that I realized how weird that was. Three white guys talking in Spanish. Who knew? 

And this week's Quote of the Week comes from the aforementioned training from our Mission President this past Tuesday. That’s about all the background necessary. 

"Shut up and let the Spirit have a turn." 

Short and simple and to the point. Gotta love it. 

Stay awesome everyone!

Elder Kupferer

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Fair Has Come to Town!

Probably the biggest event Othello has ever experienced. It’s one of those times where everyone drops everything and all they can think of is the [Adams County] Fair. I guess that happens in a small town such as this but from what it sounds like it was a good fair as it always is. Last Saturday (not two days before the time of this writing but the week before that) the entire stake (all the members of the church that live in Othello) came to help clean up the fair grounds. Since it only gets used once a year there was a lot to be done but it all got cleaned up pretty quick. In three hours we had turned it from looking abandoned for 11 months to presentable. My comp and I ending up spending most of the day spreading sawdust everywhere but it was a great chance to get to know some of the members. The giant barbecue they gave us at the end was pretty nice too. 

We also had the opportunity to help volunteer in the church's booth that they have. They use the booth as a fundraiser for girl’s camp and scout camp and from what I understand, they make enough in the four days the fair is open to have everyone go at a very minimal cost, if at all. The booth is a super big hit though in the fair; they basically sell deep-fried dough called Elephant Ears. Think a 15-inch diameter piece of dough, fried, then dusted with cinnamon sugar. It almost tastes like funnel cake, but better. It was super good. I personally got to be the one sitting behind the fryer so I was charged with the lofty task of not burning the food but all in all it was pretty fun. Nothing quite like fair food. 

And in this week’s random department, we were out knocking some doors on a pretty slow day since the fair was going on but we come across this one house and a guy answers the door and we start talking to him (in Spanish) and he asks us to wait and then goes back into the house to talk to someone and in the meantime some guy walks in the back door, stares at us, says “Hola” and then keeps walking. Finally just as we were about to leave this super old guy comes to the door and wraps a green towel around his head and says hi and stares at us with a weird smile. In my mind I was like okay this is a little weird but we keep going anyways. We go through our spiel and then ask him if he has ever talked with missionaries before and this is how the conversation went:

Us: "Ha placticado con misioneros en el pasado?" (Have you ever talked with missionaries before?)

Him: "como?" (Sorry? Meaning, ‘I don't understand’)

Us: "Ha placticado con misioneros el el pasado?"

Him: "Estoy casado? (Am I married?)

Us: (now a little frustrated and assuming he can't understand us because he is hard of hearing: "Ha hablado con misioneros?" (Have you ever talked to missionaries?)

Him: "No entiendo ingles" (I don't understand English)

At this point he kind of just closed the door on us so we sat there for a second and tried to collect our thoughts about what happened. Tracting is never fun but it does have its moments. 

This past weekend we also had the opportunity of having Elder [Brad K.] Risenmay of the Seventy come to our Stake Conference. While normally having any General Authority come is big, this was especially neat because this is his home stake. Twenty-two years ago he was called to be the Othello Stake President and now was able to come back on assignment as a Seventy. It was great being able to learn and hear the great talks and testimonies of not only the stake members but also Elder Risenmay. The big central theme is that God is our Heavenly Father and we are His children. It was an amazing conference. This conference is where this week's quote comes from. He (Elder Risenmay) was talking with Elder [Davd A.] Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and he said in regards to the battle between good and evil:

"We know how this plays out, and we win."

The only question now is we have to decide which team we want to be on. 

Until next week!

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, September 8, 2014

La Pisca

La pisca. The worst time to be a missionary. For those of you that don't know, right now is the beginning of picking season for apples (la pisca). A typical day for a picker starts at 4 AM so they can be at work around 6 AM and get home (very tired) around 5 PM. Although the fruits of their labor are very rewarding (I have never had so many good apples in my life) it makes it troublesome for a missionary whose day starts at 1 PM, and works mostly with people who don't get home until 5 PM. You walk into a trailer park and it is absolutely vacant. It looks like a ghost town. Not to mention school is in now so there aren't even kids walking around. It’s almost eerie. Well since we have nothing else really to do, those hours are filled mostly with knocking doors hoping to catch someone that was sick or working a night shift in the potato plant, but more often than not there's not much to write home about for those hours.

Sunday, though, it all paid off. A couple that was hardcore fellowshipped by a family came to church, despite their sick two year old who had kept them up all night. They are already having family home evening, and one of their kids insisted on going back to the "I Am a Child of God" church (in the Primary room it has that stickered on across the front of the room).That was cool to see them there. Plus, an investigator who we had met only the week before came to church and really enjoyed it. When we went to pick him up, he was actually waiting and ready to go. We had put him on date the night before so I am excited to see where this goes.

And in the random department, we had a pretty funny run in with a drunk guy this past week. He was speaking in Spanish and was slurring his words so I'm not 100% sure on everything he was saying but he repeated everything several times so I think I caught the gist of what he wanted to say, which is as follows:

  • The Catholic cross is different than the Christian cross.
  • Going around and drinking and smoking and sleeping with women is bad.
  • We look attractive to older women because of our backpacks and our shirts and ties and pants and shoes and backpacks (he repeated that one at least 6 times).
  • Because of that we are now in sin.
  • I was a bigger sinner than him but he was a bigger sinner than my companion which is bad (not sure what that one meant).
  • He doesn't understand English (after me telling him my name; he look very dismayed about that one).

I didn't actually plan this because I had already chosen this quote a while back but it plays in pretty well with that conversation so here goes. It was from a meeting a couple weeks ago when all the trainers (missionaries who were training new missionaries) met with our mission president. He said:

"Take the work seriously, but not yourself."

Although who knows, maybe I need to tone down my backpack to take myself more seriously.

And with that, I will leave all of you as confused as I was when I said goodbye to that gentleman. ¡Adios!

Elder Kupferer

Monday, September 1, 2014

First Week as a Parent

Well, first week of the new transfer down. So far, my son and I are doing great. He had a pretty rough start since he got a little sick but other than that things have been doing supremely well. It’s refreshing to see the energy he brings to the table. Our first week was filled with mostly meetings but on Thursday night we did get to go to a ward party that turned out to be very successful. Carne Asada is great stuff. It was mostly a barbeque so we had an excuse to get together but a lot of investigators and less active members came so overall it turned out to be a really productive night.

And in other news, I forgot to mention this last week but two Sundays ago I had the privilege of playing the piano for the ward's Primary class. Their pianist was gone and they only had two teachers so they scrambled last minute and asked the four of us missionaries (we were congregated talking about something) if any of us could play the piano and instantly everyone turned to me. It was fun though. Brought back a ton of memories. All the scrambling around to do "Once there was a snowman" backwards, or the ridiculously loud "you've had a birthday, shout hooray!" Naturally though, of all the songs they chose to sing that day, they chose the ones that I had never really practiced before. Interesting how that works sometimes. Overall though it was pretty cool. Primary is awesome.

So this past week when we were out tracting there was this kid outside we talked with and asked if his parents were home, to which he said no, so we move on to the next house. Well we get to the doorstep and the same kid comes running over and says "Let me help you, they only speak Spanish." We said thank you but we can speak Spanish. He responded with "No, here let me help." So we said the same thing again, but in Spanish. He still didn't believe us and was like "No, only a little bit." And after a few more lines back and forth I guess he accepted the fact that two white guys could speak Spanish and ran off with a confused look on his face. We chuckled to ourselves and kept going. Nothing quite like surprising Mexicans with a little bit of Spanish. It’s even funnier when I go up and speak Mixteco to them. That really throws them for a loop.

For this week’s quote, I don't remember who I was talking with (I think it might have been my comp?) but anyways there’s really no background needed for the quote to make sense, so here you go:

"Finding the golden investigators is like playing hide and go seek; God hides them, and we have to go find them."

Not terribly fair trying to play such a game with the most powerful being in the universe, but it sure makes it fun. He's always willing to help which is nice though.

Anyways, I'll let you resume with your lives for another week. Stay classy.

Elder Kupferer