Monday, December 29, 2014

Not Your Normal White Christmas

So this week unfortunately no snow fell so this Christmas wasn't white in the normal sense. In fact it was quite contrary to what I would have thought. Christmas day was about 50 degrees outside. It was super warm for up here. It was a nice change. But I'll get back to the whiteness in a second. 

Christmas Eve was a blast. That morning we had a priesthood leadership meeting down in Kennewick for all the District Leaders and Zone Leaders in the south half of the mission for a few hours. It was a fantastic meeting. We all learned a ton and enjoyed seeing past companions and other missionary friends. Superb three hours to say the least. But then afterwards since our zone was an hour away the two Zone Leaders, myself, and another district leader from near Othello all road tripped back up and since we were in the big city for once we made a very necessary stop to IHOP. Came away rolling but it was totally worth it. Christmas Eve night we went around with some members and the other missionaries in Othello and spread the Christmas cheer caroling to various ward members and friends whilst delivering an assortment of baked goods. It was a great (albeit freezing) night. 

Christmas Day itself was a blast. We woke up and the other elders in Othello that share the Spanish Ward with us came over and we cooked us up some breakfast burritos and then had our study and proceeded to open presents together. Always an enjoyable experience. Until I looked up, scanned our double-wide, saw the mess of dirty dishes from breakfast scattered across the kitchen and the wrapping paper from childhoods past littered across the floor, then realized I was actually going to have to take care of that now. A little slice of reality pie Christmas morning but it had to come eventually. So we just did the only logical response and watched some Bible Videos one of the Elders had gotten and postponed our problems until later (don't worry Mom the mess was taken care of before we left). Christmas day itself was pretty fun. We stopped by a few investigators to wish them a Merry Christmas and then went to a member's house for lunch and had a white elephant gift exchange. When even more wrapping paper was taken care of, we went and video chatted with our respective families and then had dinner. The members we ate with had all their family together so it was fun eating with such a big family again. Just like back home. That night we went to a baptism the sister missionaries in Othello had to support them, making the Christmas white despite the sun and abnormally warm temperatures. After the baptism we had some ice cream with a member to end a very memorable Christmas. 

Probably the best Christmas I got this year though, actually came Tuesday night when the APs texted us as we were crawling into bed. Going back to last October, there was a lady I had taught and helped baptize. Well, a year later, she had taken the necessary steps and prepared herself to go through the temple in Kennewick. So that text Tuesday night was the APs inviting us to the session to go through with her for such a monumental occasion in her life. It was a pretty singular experience. There’s nothing else quite like it. Saturday we went down and met her there and were able to talk with her and do a session with her. She is Hispanic so we got to go through in Spanish - which in and of itself was pretty interesting; definitely understood a lot more than doing it in Spanish when I was in the Mexico MTC - but it was just overall great seeing her and all the members from Benton City, not to mention my trainer, again. Made for a late night but it was a great way to end the transfer and still make the Christmas white. 

That brings me to my next point. It’s the end of the transfer so we got our transfer calls, and unfortunately my time in Othello is coming to an end. Wednesday morning I'm packing up and heading down to Kennewick. I'm sad to leave Othello but I'm excited for the new area and the challenges it will bring. I'm getting transferred into two English wards which will definitely throw things for a loop but it should be fun. 

So this week's quote comes from a local church's billboard outside and reads as follows:

"Mary wrapped the first Christmas gift"

And with that I bid you all farewell and wish you a happy new year!

Elder Kupferer

Monday, December 22, 2014

Finally...An Eventful Week

Finally at long last a week with something to write home about. So starting off on Tuesday we had our Christmas Zone Conference. We got together down in Pasco with another zone for three hours of Christmas messages and songs. Our President started off with a few remarks and then we watched our Christmas slide show, which is a compilation of pictures missionaries had sent in throughout the year. It was entertaining to see the various random things missionaries had done throughout the year. And then after that started an hour of musical numbers interspersed with readings. Our zone pulled through for that one. For every song the other zone put together (either as a zone or as smaller groups) our zone did two (I'm not bragging, I swear). But it was cool. We pretty much heard every song in the Christmas section of the hymnal and then some. For some reason (I don't remember how I got pulled into this one) me and my comp, one of the zone leaders, and one of the APs agreed to do a quartet as one of the musical numbers. Since the AP who was joining us lived in Kennewick (and yet somehow is still part of our zone in Othello - over an hour away) we never got the chance to practice our desired song. So Tuesday morning after caravanning down with the entire zone (never thought I would play a caboose so much on my mission) 30 minutes before the conference starts we all dash into a room and finally choose a song and start practicing without a pianist since she was occupied practicing for another song. Well the time comes and goes to practice so we run inside the chapel and as the conference starts the Mission President's wife who was organizing everything asks us what song we chose and we responded and then she said that song was already taken as a congregational number. We smack our heads in frustration and then quickly and fervently choose another hymn which was also taken by a group of sisters but since time was now in the negative (I think the opening hymn had started by this point) we say whatever since it will be a group of male voices and quickly divvy up parts. Never had I been so thankful for doing so much sight reading in High School. So those of you who are in choir or band, make use of sight reading. It is worth it. The song ended up going extremely well all things considered and definitely left a mark for the history books. After that we were able to calm down and enjoy the rest of the conference for a very enjoyable day. 

But the craziness of that day didn't stop just there. So quick reminder part of my area here in Othello includes learning this random dialect called Mixteco from the mountains of Mexico that sounds about as foreign as Korean (and being from Irvine, trust me, I know what Korean sounds like). There was a lady that some sister missionaries in Basin City (a tiny little town about half way between Othello and Pasco) had run into that had come to church three times but they couldn't really teach her since she spoke Mixteco and they didn't so they asked us to stop by and have a quick little chat. As luck would have it, she speaks a different dialect than the one we have attempted to learn but as the Plan of God would have it, she speaks the same dialect as one of our recent converts who was baptized just a month and a half ago. So we set up a return appointment for that Saturday and after jumping through a logistical nightmare (if only we had miles on our car to drive the 40 miles to Basin City and back...) make it out there for one of the coolest lessons I have been in. It is kind of hard to describe the experience. We would tell her some stuff, she would look about like a deer in the headlights, and then the recent convert would babble off something incomprehensible and she would return the babble and then he would speak to us in Spanish. The interesting thing though is that when they would talk in Mixteco or when she prayed, I understood about 0% of what they were saying but could feel the Spirit like none other. It was really quite a remarkable experience. Now we just need to get the baptismal prayer in Mixteco for her baptism next month. 

So another fun little experience this week was the ward party Friday night. They made a giant batch - like giant batch, like the stirring spoon was the size of a small child and I could have fit inside the pot - of a Mexican soup called Posole. It’s only like the best thing ever. It’s kind of hard to describe. It’s a super watery soup (caldo) that has stuff called hominy (just google it I don't know what it is), meat, and various vegetables and spicy things in it. It is super good. Until I pulled out of the piece I had served myself. The member sitting next to me saw it and his eyes lit up in joy. He exclaimed "Elder! You got a piece of patita! It’s super good." I was confused since I had no idea what it was and when I asked for clarification he said "Its pig's foot." After 10 minutes of staring at it and having a mental battle between knowing what it is and thinking when else am I going to try something like this again? I finally decided to try it. Amazingly enough, it wasn't too bad. I can assure you all though it probably won't be on the list of things I want right off the plane. But it made for a fun night. After dinner they had a little piƱata for the kids that I got to pull up and down. Always entertaining watching small blindfolded children swing a broom stick wildly at a paper mache ball stuffed with candy. To top it all off, they had Monsters University playing in the background all night. In Spanish. I did my best but let’s just say this; Mike and Sully sound pretty funny in Spanish. 

So Saturday morning (jumping all back and forth through the days here) we got to be a part of the community gift basket program. So various companies and families donate food to this program that then puts together food and gift baskets for over 250 families in the community for Christmas. It was an amazing sight. They filled up half a fire station with all the food. We were able to go through and fill up the boxes with the food and toys for the kids that would then get put into trucks (since that’s pretty much all people drive out here) that go out and deliver the gift baskets to the various families. It was quite a remarkable experience to see the community come together and rally around something so simple yet influential for the lives of the people that would get the baskets. Definitely made me thankful for the plethora of Christmases I was able to enjoy with gifts and enough food. Really helped put things into perspective. 

And on a completely unrelated note, someone had left various threatening notes on our zone leader's apartment door consecutively this past week and so Wednesday night when they got a particularly threatening note that was stuck onto their window with a ton of ketchup splattered across it they were quite scared so they decided to call the police. Imagine their surprise when half way through the phone call the sister missionaries (who live in the same apartment complex) came bolting around the corner confessing to the supposed "prank." It hurt some feelings at the time but now we are having a good time laughing about it. Never know what to expect anymore. 

And for this week's quote it comes from a conversation we had a with a former mission president / temple presidency member who is sort of the old wise man of the ward. 

"Money is a tool." 

Made me stop and think about it for a while. Since we can't take money with us after we die, we might as well use it as a tool to convert it into 'heaven money' (i.e. buying gifts for the poor, helping someone out when they’re in a tight spot, things like that). 

So with that I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and will write again next week.

Elder Kupferer

Monday, December 15, 2014

Some Pretty Cool Miracles This Week

So this week not too much happened. Again. Ever since the baptisms we ran out of people to teach so we have been tracting a lot. And then kept tracting some more. It’s been interesting. You never know what you are going to run across. Sometimes you run into people that don't speak Spanish. Sometimes you run into vicious dogs that want to kill you. Sometimes you run into people twice. Sometimes you run into people that can't decide which church they belong to. Sometimes you run into people with interesting shrines. It keeps you on your toes. But this week we definitely saw some miracles from it. 

About half way through the week we had gotten in 3 days the number of OYMs (the number of people we talk to about the Restored Gospel) that we normally get in a week but we weren't finding anyone new to teach so we were getting a little disheartened. We were talking about it slash complaining a little bit about it to one of the APs who was here on an exchange with the Zone Leaders and he told us something new we could try so we did. Well the first day we get around to trying it, the last door we knock (it’s always the last door) there is a family that lets us right in. We start talking with the parents and they are super receptive. They said they would love to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. It was a nice refresher from getting doors slammed in our face or kids telling us that their mom's said they weren't home. But wait there’s more. 

Last Friday during our weekly planning session we were setting some goals and we said it would be awesome to find a new family to teach. We go all week and after we found the aforementioned family we were pretty excited and had kind of forgotten about it but then last night when I was talking with our ZLs giving them the weekly numbers report they told us that a member had taken them to a family he wanted them to teach and they taught the first lesson and said it went super well and they are a solid family. We have a pass off lesson on Tuesday so we are looking forward to that. It was a great reminder that the Lord is always watching and that the blessings will come sometimes you just have to wait. Not the biggest fan of the waiting part but better late than never. 

And that’s about it for this week. The quote comes from our tracting experiences. We are sharing the "He is the Gift" cards the church has given us to flood the world with it and so we always like to include that the video (found at is a good reason to help

"Remember the Reason for the Season."

Until next week!

Elder Kupferer

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Rather Boring Week

This week nothing terribly interesting happened. Probably the biggest highlight in all honestly was going shopping down in Tri-Cities this past week. We had a temple trip on Tuesday and since we were down in somewhere with more than Walmart and Mexican tiendas [shops] we made as much use of it as we good. Also enjoyed the wider variety of restaurants than Othello offers. It was refreshing to not have Taco Bell or Burger King. 

Another highlight this week (and because of this you know it was a boring week) was the 1/8th inch of snow we got a few days back. It looked like someone took an oversized powdered sugar sprinkler and let loose over the whole field next to our house. But still, for this Southern California kid, it was pretty cool. 

Last night was also fun with the opportunity to watch the [First Presidency’s] Christmas Devotional. It was only us, the other 2 sets of missionaries in the area, and 1 set of older members, but it was still a good experience. Christmas music plus talks will always make for a great night. 

Speaking of Christmas, if you haven't already, drop everything and go to:

Or if you prefer in Spanish:

Or if you prefer Mixteco, you're gonna have to wait.  Sorry. 

Anyways the video is super cool. It’s a good reminder about why we have Christmas in the first place and reminds us why Christ is really the reason for the season. Since God so loved the world, he gave his Only Begotten Son as the first gift of Christmas. So this season, discover the gift in the Bible and Book of Mormon, embrace the gift, and then #sharethegift. It'll be worth it. 

In closing I am going to take a quote from the Elder Arnold conference we had about a month ago. At one point he told us that:

"Missions are to teach you the tough stuff of life."

It was only a few words, but it was dang true. I don't think I have been happier and disappointed/frustrated with people in any other experience I have had in my life, nor will I ever again. Until maybe I have kids. But then again my kids will be perfect so I'll never have to get frustrated. That’s how it works right? 

And without further ado, forgive my ramblings and enjoy the time of this Christmas Season.

Elder Kupferer

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I Love Food

Thanksgiving. Sooooo much food. That's pretty much enough said for the week but I know that wouldn't fly with my parents so I guess I'll expound.

So Wednesday we had a pre-Thanksgiving dinner which wasn't your traditional Thanksgiving dinner. They decided that since everyone was going to be eating tons of turkey on Thursday they decided to do something different so as to not turkey every one out. So instead they did barbecue. And then ceviche. AT THE SAME TIME. It was so good. Fajitas, chicken, ceviche, potato salad. I ate enough to last for me several days but Thursday our Bishop invited us over for dinner with him and all his family plus his wife's family. I think there were like 7 or 8 families there? All with several kids. It was a mad house. But 4 turkeys and a ham later, we left with enough food in our stomachs to last us a long time. All in all a great Thanksgiving. To top it off, the weather gods were with us and Thanksgiving Day and the following day it was over 60 degrees outside. It was a Thanksgiving Day miracle! And then Saturday came. That's a different story.

But then to top it all off, we had another baptism this weekend. I don't know where we keep finding all these people but we do so here is the story of William (as you can guess, not his actual name - or is it a her?!?!? The world may never know). Anyways some missionaries had talked with William (Will for short) a few days before I showed up here in Othello. They didn't get the chance to teach him at all so I got to teach him the first lesson and start the whole process. It was pretty slow at first but little by little he kept progressing here and there. We had invited him to be baptized once or twice but he never really accepted a solid date. There comes a time about a month and a half ago where we don't see him for almost two weeks for one reason or another since he hadn't done much and wasn't making a lot of progress. We decide to give him one more try and knock on his door, but we went in with the intention of dropping him for the aforementioned reasons. We sit down and start talking and come to find out he had read almost half the Book of Mormon. Since that was some pretty marked progress we humble ourselves and continue on the teaching process and set a date for about a month out. The date kept getting closer and we still were pretty far behind on the lessons since we had to help him overcome some concerns, which caused my companion and I to discuss pushing back his baptismal date a week so we didn't have to cram in the teaching last second. We bring a member over the Friday before his baptism (not the day before the week before so like 9 days) and on the way to the lesson that member said he saw Will in the store the night before and expressed how he was ready and excited for the 29th. I didn't feel like letting his hopes down to get baptized on that date since he was looking forward to it so much so we say sure and then express that we would have to meet every night for the next week to finish off the teaching process. He responds that he doesn't work since picking season is done (and then we thank the cold weather) so we start coming over every night until last Saturday, which was the baptismal service itself. Not a lot of people came, but the Spirit was there. Last night William shared with us how he has felt like he was walking on clouds since Saturday night. We asked him after the service was done Saturday night how he felt, and just the way he responded back with "I am filled with joy and happiness" is something that I won't soon forget.

The quote for the week comes from one of the lessons with William during that week of cramming in the lessons. We were discussing tithing and money and what not when someone made a comment about millionaires having lots of money but no faith. William said:

"I'm a millionaire, but with faith."

Classic quote. Gotta love the humble people in the world. Well, hopefully everyone's food coma has worn off since Thursday night and now we get to start working it all off, just in time for Christmas! Let the Christmas music binge listening begin.

Have a holly jolly Christmas,

Elder Kupferer