Monday, October 27, 2014

Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day

Well in the matter of about 2 weeks we have gone from too much sunshine to too much rain. Well, you can never have too much rain but it’s definitely been a bit of a change. Monday night for example, we started work after P-Day at 6, and since it was only a slight drizzle we decided we would walk to save some miles on our car and because it’s easier to talk to people that way. Well, we get into a lesson on the other side of town and come out of the house only to find that it is pouring outside. Since our car was a mile away across town (I don't know what we were doing thinking this whole walking thing was a good idea; I mean come on this is America not some third world country) and it was getting late we couldn't really wait it out so we zipped up our jackets and started walking. As luck would have it, as soon as we got back into the car the torrential downpour stopped, but it did teach me a few things. I have now learned that my backpack is 99% waterproof. My jacket is about 90-95% waterproof. Shoes are about 80%. Pants are about 0%. But alas, such is life. Sure made for a fun night though. 

So out here in Othello there are enough members to have release-time seminary (another thing I learned - you can get paid to be a seminary teacher and make a career out of it; who knew?) So this past Thursday they had a Pancake Palooza where the seminary students invited their friends to come have pancakes for lunch in the seminary building and since there were gonna be over 100 kids coming the seminary teacher enlisted our help in making 300+ pancakes. It was a lot but between 9 of us - err 7 the zone leaders never do anything - it was pretty light work. 

Now for a little teaching experience for all of you future missionaries (or just anyone in general). When you want to get somebody to do something, especially in the religious sense, make sure you end with an invite. Let me explain. Last night we were out knocking some doors since that’s all missionaries ever seem to do, when we came across this one guy who spent 5 minutes explaining very animatedly why we need to be baptized (keep in mind this was all in Spanish which made it that much more entertaining for us to try and understand). I then asked him a question about something then he went off for another 5 minutes (with just as much if not more animation) on a round-about answer that didn't really answer my question, when all of a sudden he extended his hand and thanked us for stopping by and wished us a good night. Since we weren't getting anywhere I took his hand, bade him farewell, and we were on our way, rather confused because he just talked at us for 10 minutes and didn't ask us to do anything. Nothing happened.  It was just a waste of 10 minutes. That is precisely why, future missionaries / teachers / etc., we extend invites. 

And in other news, Elder Risenmay of the 70 just casually showed up to church yesterday. We were talking with our Bishop and had just turned around to head out when all of a sudden out walks Elder Risenmay. Not every day you see a general authority of the church just walk out of the high council room like it was nothing. 

In closing, I quote a member quoting someone else. He had just taken us to show us our new place we will be moving into shortly and we were then sitting in his truck just talking when somehow we got onto the subject of money and retirement, when he offered us these words of council:

"Retirement is doing what you want, when you want to, with who you want."

If that means doing the job you want, I guess you can retire as soon as you find said job. Makes life seem a little bit more pleasant to face. 

Until next week!

Elder Kupferer

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Crazy Week in the WKM

Well this week was pretty intense here in the WKM. So yesterday we were fortunate to have the baptism of a guy who we shall call Bill (that’s not his actual name but like liability stuff man it’s the worst). So a little bit of background on Bill. He was looking for a job and found one with a member here in Othello and then actually moved in on their property to a little house they have for rent with the member's two grandsons who were working together. Well 2 years later they came to be really close, even to the point that Bill started going to their family reunions. So about 2 months ago, some stuff happened down in Mexico that really shook him up so he asked the members he lived with if he could go to church, to which they agreed. Well, he absolutely loved it. After that day in church (keep in mind he speaks English but very limited) he ended up meeting with the Sister missionaries assigned to that ward. They taught him a lesson or two but since his English was somewhat limiting him, they handed him over to us so we could teach him in Spanish. Well we come to our first lesson with him and ask him if he had read any of the Book of Mormon. He says that the past week when we were supposed to meet (for one reason or another it fell through) he woke up early that morning and couldn't fall back asleep because he felt like he should read the book, so he decided he would. He said he read it super fast and remembered what he read which was super rare for him since he didn't have any schooling, and because of that it had to be true, and consequently everything else must therefore be true. It was one of those times where there was no way he wasn't prepared in advance. 

So after that first lesson we had with Bill we ended up putting him on date for baptism for about a month away. The teaching process went great and it didn't even feel like teaching. Honestly at this point it could have been a robot for what it’s worth since he was soaking up everything we taught him. He was reading and praying and just seemed so happy. When we taught the Word of Wisdom (the Lord's law of health which includes among other things no smoking/tobacco/etc) he said that the day before he woke up and said he felt like he should throw away his 2 boxes of chew. It’s the little things like that that kind of just make your jaw drop and leave you in amazement at everything the Lord has done for you. 

So fast forward to this past week which was like the craziest week ever. As missionaries there are certain things we have to teach before someone is baptized so they know what the heck is going on and at the start of this week we still had a lesson and a half to go over (which would normally take 2 weeks meeting twice a week). Well Tuesday he had his baptismal interview (something the church does to make sure candidates are ready) and passed. So we said “Bill, we need to meet a couple times still before Sunday” and we then asked if Wednesday would be good but he said no because he had to go somewhere so we said Thursday. Well Thursday morning we call to confirm and he says he got sick and is on his way to Royal City to pick up some medicine so we start to silently freak out since there are only two days to go before his Baptism so we so okay we will be over tomorrow. We head over Friday and have a great lesson and then go back again Saturday to finish it all off. To top it off his girlfriend had come down from Spokane Saturday afternoon to attend church with him - except she didn't speak Spanish. Still struggling to figure out how that all worked out seeing as he doesn't speak a ton of English but alas, I guess the language of love is universal. Anyways church went good and Sunday night we had an awesome baptismal service for Bill. I will admit working with Hispanics has its struggles ("mi mama dice que no esta" ring a bell anyone?) but they are some of the best people I know. After the baptism the Elders Quorum president went up to him and said - having only known Bill for a matter of hours - that if he needed anything, the ward can help him out. The spirit of brotherly love was definitely manifest last night. It was just a great experience overall. 

And that about sums it up for this week. To end I quote my zone leader. Don't think this needs much explanation. 

"It doesn't matter how good you are; it just matters how much swag you got."

Well I hope everyone has a fantastic week and I will write again in 7 days time. Adios!

Elder Kupferer

Monday, October 13, 2014

JustServe. It's that Simple.

So this past weekend we had a zone meeting where a new program was introduced that is gonna be the next big thing. It’s a program the church is starting to roll out where it tries to get community members involved in the community. Basically, whenever there is a service opportunity for something in the community (i.e. food banks, blood drives, clean-ups, things like that) somebody puts the project and information into the JustServe website and then from there members (or anyone really) can go in, search for projects listed in their area, find a project, and call the person listed for said project and sign up to come help out. It’s intended to help people help others and provide opportunities for people to get involved and closer with their community. Because of this, our mission president has taken steps to implement for us as well. His desire is that each companionship is providing ten hours of service a week in their area, which will be reported with our regular key indicators of conversion. I am super excited to see how this will work out and show the sincerity we as missionaries have of being Disciples of Jesus Christ and loving and serving those around us. For more information go to: JustServe (by the way, I looked, and there are projects in the Irvine area; check it out!). 

And in other news, the car struggles of my mission continue. For this week, may I present the saga of being stuck in Tri-Cities. So this past Thursday we had a meeting down in Kennewick with our mission president from 9 AM – 12PM. We had made some calls in our ward to see if we could find a ride down to no avail so the plan we came up with was to drive a little ways to the nearby town of Mattawa to get a ride down with the elders stationed there since they had to go anyways for the meeting and to put their car into the shop. Well Thursday morning comes and we get up at 0-dark thirty to make the time frame we needed to be where we needed to at the right times. The other Elders in Mattawa had made an appointment to drop the car off at 8:30 AM so they could start looking at the car and hopefully be done by 12 when our meeting ended.

Well 11 O'clock rolls around and still no phone call from the dealer and so the Mattawa Elders call the dealer to find out what’s up, only to find out they hadn't even looked at the car yet and would maybe get to it that afternoon. Well since we were 50 miles away from home, that caused a problem for us since we didn't have anything to do in Tri-Cities except just wait for the car now. We talk to the mission president after the meeting and he basically says to this effect "Don't they know you're important people? You have things to do and appointments to keep. Here are the keys to my car. Go drive over and put some pressure on so they will start looking at the car. Oh and while you're out, can you go wash the car? And go get yourself some lunch too." We warily accept the keys and then all pile in to start heading out on our errand. Ladies and gentlemen, that was the singular most stressful backing job of my life. Thankfully it all went okay (the driving that is; the car story continues on) and we were on our way.

We get to the dealer and the guy was on his lunch break but they would call us soon to let us know what was wrong and give us an estimate. All in all, things should be done in 2 hours (it was 1PM by this point). We sigh and continue on with our errands, which included getting lost in downtown Kennewick (all of us were serving in tiny farming communities that have no more than 7 stoplights; the big city was confusing), a stop at Carl's Jr, and a quick trip to the mission office to pick up a package for an Elder in my district. Well the time comes to return the president's car and we still are at a loss of what to do so we kind of just wait. Well about an hour (it is now 4:30) and a few phone calls later we discover that the part that was needed in the car they didn't have on hand so they would need to keep the car overnight (naturally) and give it back to us tomorrow. But since we still had to get back to our respective cities (we had cancelled three appointments by now) it was imperative that we get back that night. The solution? Cramming the four of us plus the two AP's into their Silverado (don't ask me why they AP's are driving a Silverado; they don't know either) and away we go. We make a quick stop at Panda Express (the biggest thing we have is McDonalds and Taco Bell in Othello we are not missing the opportunity for some quality fast food) and then hit the freeway.

By this point it is now about 6 in the evening. But wait there's more! As we keep driving back, we see off in the distance a giant cloud of smoke but it appears to be on the other side of the river so we make some speculations and pay no heed to it. Well the road continues and lo and behold, we drive right to it. Apparently a truck had tipped over on the side of the road and its contents - large bales of hay - had fallen off and caught fire. Just our luck. Thankfully by the time we got there they had cleared it from most of the road so they were able to let traffic through one lane at a time and we arrived just when our side was going through. Fortunately after that the trip was uneventful and 13.5 hours later, we roll into Othello at 8 PM. We had a good laugh and salvaged the remnants of the day. 

And in other news, somebody already had Christmas lights set up on a tree outside their house. It’s not even Halloween yet! This is insanity. 

So for this week's quote, it comes from the wise words of wisdom from my Zone Leader sitting right next to me quoting the scriptures as I type this email:

"Oh be wise, what can I say more?"

'Nuff said. Stay classy everyone. 

Elder Kupferer

Monday, October 6, 2014

General Conference

Well first off General Conference was this weekend. Always a neat experience. I loved how they had almost all the speakers speak in their native language. I'm a little disappointed that President [Dieter F.] Uchtdorf still spoke in English but alas he is still a great speaker. And I don't think his talks would be the same without his accent. But either way it was pretty cool for us since I am serving in a Spanish ward there were headphones with the Spanish translation available and so for the speakers that spoke in Spanish we got to hear them in Spanish. It was way cool. 

A funny story about one of the talks; Saturday afternoon Elder Jorg Klebingat of the Seventy talked in part about things we can do to gain spiritual confidence. One such thing was maintaining healthy bodies and treating them well and watching what we eat. Well that came as a little bit of a rebuke because literally an hour and a half before we went to a pizza place for lunch with some other missionaries and stuffed our faces full of pizza and soda. I guess no more "one last slice" for me. 

So Thursday night we were walking around town talking to people when all of a sudden we hear this lady from down an alley call out "Elderes!" We were caught off guard and look around for the source of the salutation when we find an older lady whom we had never met before. So we go over and talk with her when she asks us if we had eaten dinner or not. It being 8:20 at night we say yes but then she asked us if we like shrimp, to which we replied in the affirmative. She then told us to wait for a second and that she would come back in a minute with some food. We were kind of surprised but waited and she came back with a container full of the best ceviche I have ever had in my life (ceviche is like a shrimp soup/salsa dip). We asked if she was a member because we aren't used to random strangers giving food to us like that and she said no but that a lot of her family were members and she just liked feeding the missionaries. It’s good to know there are still good people in the world. 

This week we also had one of the coolest and most stressful lessons of my life. There is a member in the ward here who was a mission president in Argentina a few years ago and between then and now had also served in the temple presidency for the Colombia Bogota Temple. Hands down one of the most spiritual men in the ward. Well imagine our great surprise when one Sunday after church he comes up to us and says "Elders! I have a family I would like for you to start teaching. His day off is Thursday. I'll see you a little before 4:30 at my house." I was torn between having what seemed to be a super solid referral and having to give a lesson with someone with such a spiritual resume. Well the time for the lesson comes and we have a mini-lesson with him before we go to the actual lesson and the lesson went great. He basically taught for us. It was an amazing experience seeing someone get so involved with a lesson. 

On a side note, after the lesson the family we had visited offered us some pupusas (think fat tortillas stuffed with food) and although they were good, it was a miracle that steam didn't start shooting out my ears by the time I finished it they were so spicy. I think I went through two or three glasses of milk by the time I was done. 

And in closing, I would like to refer back to the nice lady that gave us the ceviche. We were talking to her for a little bit afterwards about her kids when we come to find out they were both adopted and it was a miracle the oldest daughter was still alive. When she was but a few weeks old, the doctors had given her two years to live, to which the lady with whom we were talking said she would find a second opinion. Imagine the doctor's surprise when she comes back 6 years later and the little girl is doing fine. He demanded of her who her doctor was and how to find him. She said:

"My doctor is Jesus and He is found in the Bible."

It’s amazing what the power of faith can do. From moving mountains to answering a mom's simple wish, anything is possible to him that believeth. 

And with that may you all have a faith filled week!
Elder Kupferer