Monday, November 24, 2014

Freezing Rain?! Intense Weather Conditions?!

Things just keep getting crazier and to be honest this week probably takes the cake. So Tuesday we had a little meeting about the JustServe program (this isn't the crazy part) which was pretty cool. I have explained it before but just in passing it is a program designed to get members and missionaries more involved in the community for a myriad of reasons. If you want to know more check out the website Just do it. It’s pretty cool. 

So the real craziness that was going on this week. Let’s start Wednesday morning. Wednesday was transfer day which in and of itself was all sorts of craziness, but thankfully we stayed out of most of it since neither of us got transferred until we got a call from some missionaries that was actually our ZLs calling from Moses Lake (about half an hour up the freeway) saying they forgot their phone down in Othello and needed us to go pick it up so we did and by the time we got around to giving it back that afternoon things in our day had gotten pushed back and we were running way behind schedule and running from appointment to appointment. So dinner time comes around and we are just finished with a lesson and start heading towards dinner when we check the phone and see we have 3 voicemails (it’s about 5:15 at this point - dinner was at 5:30) with a text from the ZLs to call them. So we just assume the voicemails were something they can explain to us super quick and call them to find out what’s up. With an unexpected urgency in their voice they tell us to listen to the voicemails, which surprised us so we did. Now before I explain the voicemails, let me explain to you what was supposed to go down Thursday. 

Elder [Mervyn B.] Arnold of the First Quorum of the Seventy came to tour the mission this week and our zone conference was scheduled for Thursday morning. We were supposed to start at 7:30 AM with a leadership meeting followed by the rest of the meetings down in Pasco (about an hour away) so we were going to get up at O-dark-thirty to head down with the other Elders in our area that morning, attend the conference, and then be on our way back to Othello around 3. Well ladies and gentlemen that is NOT what happened. Now back to the voicemails. 

The mission office had received word that there was going to be a huge storm of freezing rain coming in Wednesday night which would freeze over the 40 miles of freeway we needed to drive to make it down to Pasco for the conference. Since that obviously is not good they decided to send all of us down to Pasco that night (Wednesday night) so we didn't have to drive so far in the ice. They said be at the church at 7 PM so we can caravan down which gave us literally 15 minutes between dinner and when we needed to be at the church gassed up and ready to go, in the which we had to pack everything - blankets included - to spend the night down in Pasco. So we head home after dinner (which thankfully was nearby) and pack our stuff super quick to meet everyone at the set time. Everything ran relatively smoothly despite the unexpected craziness that was occurring and we all made it down to Pasco safely around 9 Wednesday night. But wait, there’s more. 

Since there were only two beds in the apartment we stayed at (we stayed with some other missionaries that were down in Pasco) 4 of us spent the night on the floor/couches/whatever we could find. All six of us needed to be at the church for the conference by 7:30 so we started the process of showering and getting ready at 5 since the apartment was not built to handle that many people getting ready all at once. Imagine our surprise when at 6:30 just as we are about to head out we get another voicemail from the assistants saying that everything was frozen over so we needed to stay in our apartments until further notice. We kind of just throw our hands in the air not terribly surprised by any of this and just lay back down and start waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Around 8 we get another voicemail saying that everything was still semi frozen over but super dangerous regardless since the residential district where the church is located hadn't been salted so they gave us two chapters to read in preparation for the meeting, 3 Nephi 11 from the Book of Mormon where it talks about Christ's visit to the Americas and then Numbers 11 which starts off thusly: 

And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.”

We were a little scared but kept reading and realized that the leaders weren't actually scaring us into repentance and discovered it was talking about councils later on in the chapter. But anyways we read the chapters and begin discussing it amongst ourselves and then at long last around 9 we get another voicemail saying that the roads had defrosted enough to drive safely on BUT they wanted drivers who were "more accustomed to driving in the ice and snow" and continued on to say "so for example if you are from California or Arizona please let someone from Idaho or Utah drive." I felt a little rebuffed seeing as I did just fine last year in the snow of Chelan but interestingly enough since our car was the one we drove down no one else felt like driving so I managed to get us to the church safely. 3 hours later the conference starts and we all were able to enjoy the conference and feast on the words of Elder Arnold. After the conference ended we all got in our cars and made it back safely to our respective areas around 6:30. 24 hours later our ice adventure to Pasco finally came to an end. 

The rest of the week went rather normal with the exception of Friday night where Elder Arnold came and had a conference here in Othello for all the Spanish speaking members in the north half of the mission. We expected our stake center to be jam packed with people but when we show up we see the chapel just barely being filled (don't get me wrong; it was still an awesome sight to see just not what we were expecting). We ask our zone leaders why there weren't more people and apparently half the stakes involved with the conference had received super intense snow storm that day, and road conditions were horrible. I know at least in terms of missionaries, while we were supposed to be seeing upwards of 50 missionaries show up, there were 10 of us. Either way though, the conference was amazing. It was nice to see such a group come together and have a General Authority come from Salt Lake and talk to a group that unfortunately doesn't get the attention they deserve. The conference brought a ton of miracles we had been desperately praying for and will be remembered for many years to come. 

So in closing I pull the quote from something Elder Arnold told us at least 10 times Thursday during the missionary conference. He was talking about goal setting and said:

"Try your best, and then sleep well."

Sometimes in life, our best can only get us so far. But if we are honestly giving forth our best effort we can rest easy knowing we did everything in our power, and rely on Jesus Christ for the rest. 

So, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and warm weather back down in Sunny SoCal. Until next week.

Elder Kupferer

Monday, November 17, 2014

Go Away Alaska!

So my hands are half frozen as I sit down to write this email. This past week a cold front came 'round the mountain all the way from Alaska and landed smack dab in the middle of the Columbia Basin. Literally overnight it went from mid 50's to below freezing. Like that’s just not cool. It should never get below 50 that fast. The worst part is since we are kinda just out in the middle of the desert randomly its flat and low elevation so it means high winds and no snow. Last year when I was up in Chelan at least there was snow to make it entertaining. Now it’s just plain cold with none of the fun side effects. They all said that we were supposed to get some this past week but behold, it did not come to pass. 

Anyways, that’s pretty much it for this week. Aside from that nothing too entertaining has happened. I got over a killer cold just in time for my comp to get struck with the flu. If it’s not one thing it’s another right? But on the bright side now that its colder outside than it is in my freezer (not okay) nobody can play basketball outside and since it’s a huge culture thing with the hispanics here we are opening up the church to play basketball. They think they are just playing basketball, but in reality, we are teaching them. They just don't realize it yet. It’s gonna be cool. 

The quote for this week comes from priesthood meeting yesterday. One of the members of said group was talking about how the Gospel helps us to live fruitful and fulfilling lives and said (in Spanish; this is the English translation):

"What we choose is what we will come to be."

Or in other words, as President Monson is so fond to say: Decisions determine destiny. It may seem tiny now but 20 years from now what will it mean? Thank goodness we have the Gospel to help us choose. 

Sorry for the lack of content on this week’s report. I promise you that this upcoming will be anything but. 

And with that, I bid thee all farewell.

Elder Kupferer

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

To Be Determined

Another fantastic week in the WKM. So first off, we had another couple hours spent helping out with the animal shelter. Insulation is not fun stuff to be putting on a ceiling. But alas, it was still a cool experience being involved with something like this and seeing the community come together to help one another out.

So Thursday night we had probably one of the sketchiest referrals I have received on my mission. We get a call from a member late Thursday night saying he has a friend that he needs us to go teach pronto. He tells us his name is Juan Jose (not really), he lives down in a part of town called Little Mex (it’s down the hill, little bit more run down, well, the name pretty much implies everything you need to know), and the password is "El Grupo del Siglo" but we didn't hear correctly the last word (I'll come back to this part). He didn't know where Juan Jose lived specifically he just knows he lived in Little Mex and is well known down there. So we say okay, wonder how we are gonna find him, and go home for the night. So my comp is looking in the dictionary what siglo meant (it means century in case you were wondering) but also comes to find out that the word sigilo (which when pronounced over a phone could easily be misinterpreted by two gringos to mean either) means secret. So translated, the password is now either "Group of the Century" or "Group of the Secret."

Well my companion and I come to the conclusion that we are basically trying to find a drug lord based off the password and are a little worried about what was gonna happen, assuming we were going to somehow get involved with an underground drug ring or something of that effect. Well we do some investigation and start knocking doors to see if anybody knows him (some do) but we never end up finding him. Sunday comes around and we talk with the daughter of the man that called us and ask her if she knows the guy and then tell her the password her dad had given us and she just starts laughing. Apparently, it’s just a little Mexican band they are in on the side. Although I was secretly disappointed I wasn't going to convert some drug king pin, I can now know my mother will sleep safely knowing I'm not chasing drug lords down anymore. Always comforting. 

And on the more comforting side of things, we had another baptism of a man named Jesse (not his actual name). We found him my companion's first week as a missionary while out tracting and knocking doors. We went through the teaching process and had given him a baptismal date and got about half way through when all of a sudden he just dropped off the face of the earth for 2 weeks. Didn't answer the door, wouldn't pick up the phone or respond to text messages, nothing. So we are about to give up when all of a sudden he shows up to the Daily Dose English classes the church offers. We were super excited to see him and talk to him afterwards, when we come to find out he hadn't actually gotten offended by us, rather his roommates didn't like us coming over and waking them up (at 6PM when most normal people are up might I add...). Well that night when we were conversing with Jesse, we also discover that he had been reading the Book of Mormon and was ready to take the next step. Another little gem we found out, some of his siblings - thousands of miles away and with not much contact beyond the occasional phone call - had also converted and found the restored gospel about 2 years prior. Small world right? So we continue on with the teaching process and things start going smoothly until about Friday night, when everything that could go wrong did go wrong. We still had one final lesson to teach him so we set up a time to meet Friday night (the baptism was scheduled for Saturday) but something came up and he ended up not making it, so we schedule a meeting for an hour before the baptism since we needed to teach him the last lesson. Well Saturday we had a zone meeting that morning out in the middle of nowhere (the city is like WAY out there) and since there wasn't much phone service our phone died unbeknownst to us since it wasted all the battery trying to find service, so we had to try and go in blind since we couldn't afford to go back out to our house and pick up the charger. Well the time rolls around for when Jesse is supposed to show up, and he isn't there. 5 minutes past, still reasonable for him to be late, so no worries. 10 minutes, stress levels go up partially. 15 minutes, pretty high stress now. 20 minutes we think about calling it off but we don't have a phone to call it off so we keep waiting when at long last he walks in and apologizes because his car had almost died. Because apparently nothing can ever go smoothly in life when you need it to... Well the service is about to start when we get a text from one of the speakers he is still in Tri-Cities and won't be able to make it (again I repeat what I have said before: the gift of expounding the scriptures is a thing). The baptism gets going and my comp and Jesse go down into the font, and apparently one of the water heaters had broken or wasn't working right because the water was pretty cold. Well thankfully it’s not doctrinal that the water be warm so the baptism was still valid and the night ended pretty good and the confirmation the following Sunday went off without a hitch so all in all, it was one for the history books. It was such an amazing experience working with him and helping Jesse along this path. 

And for the quote of the week it has no correlation with the preceding story it was just a cool one I took from the board outside the local Lutheran Church because I thought it was pretty good:

"Every saint has a past, every sinner has a future."

Wise words to live by. Never judge. You don't know where they were before or where they can go from here. 

Have a fantabulous week and enjoy getting ready for the month of holidays where calories don't matter!

Elder Kupferer

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Crazy Weekend

So this weekend was one of those weekends that will go down in the history books for ever. It was a pretty normal Saturday afternoon. We had just finished cleaning up after a baptism of one of the other missionaries in the area and were on our way to dinner when we get a call from one of our investigators who asked us to come over that night. I thought he had read the pamphlet we had left him and wanted to know more so I said we would be by in an hour. Well, the time comes and we head over but we get stopped literally halfway through the door (like literally; I was inside and my companion was about to follow but he got stopped) by some random guy who insisted on talking to us. For almost 10 minutes he told us this story of how he had gotten robbed twice and since we looked like nice guys he needed a ride out of town to get away from all of this. Since we aren't really allowed to do that sort of thing we told him sorry but offered him some suggestions on where he could go for help. So we get inside and start talking with the guy who needed us to come over and he cuts straight to the chase and tells us he needs $1000 from each of us. Since we don't even get minimum wage we couldn't really help him in that department so we offered what we had and prayed with him that all would work out okay, and he promised us he would come to church the next day. 

So the night continues on (don't worry this goes for the good) and we have a lesson with one of our own dates who had come to know the recent convert who was baptized two weeks ago (Bill was (not) his name) through the English classes the church offers, so we invited him to come with us. Even though he wasn't an official member for a full week he taught and testified as if he had been a member for 20 years. It was such an amazing experience seeing him having grown so much in so little a time and all the effort he has put forth to embrace the gospel full heartedly. 

His story continues on when he goes to church the next day and all of a sudden gets the priesthood. In PEC that morning (a meeting with us and some of the local church leaders) our Bishop told us that there was a temple trip for recent converts this Saturday so he expedited the process, deferred the waiting period, and gave him the Aaronic Priesthood then and there. Bill is an awesome guy. He is going to do great things. 

And in other news this week, for only the 3rd time in my life, I have moved myself instead of someone else. Still a little weird seeing my stuff in the boxes and not someone else's. 

Also: menudo is not a good way to break a fast. 

So for those of you that remember Extreme Makeover Home Edition, they came out with an animal shelter edition, and Othello was one of the lucky winners (recipients? who knows) and so they conscripted the help of the local community to do a lot of the labor and who better than the local Mormon Missionaries? So this Wednesday we had the opportunity to go and put of some insulation in the future home of the Adams County Pet Rescue center. Sadly the TV crews weren't there that day so you won't be seeing me on TV anytime soon but I should be back this week so we shall see what that brings....

The quote of the week comes in regards to that. In District Meeting I was making an announcement that the aforementioned service opportunity was available and that since we were going to be working with insulation, I warned them to bring long clothes and to shower immediately afterward and what not since fiberglass stuck in your skin is not fun. Well there was a lull for a sec when my companion chimes in (sarcastically):

"Nah it looks like cotton candy. Just eat it."

Never a dull moment with my comp. He knows how to keep it interesting. 

Well everyone, just because its pink and fluffy my advice for the week is to not eat insulation, no matter how tempting it is, and to try and keep up with the awesomeness level of my comp. 

Stay awesome everyone,

Elder Kupferer