Monday, July 27, 2015

Let the Final Countdown Begin

I have been trying to figure out how to accurately describe the flood of emotions I have been experiencing since the close of my missionary service last night. While I still have several hours here left in Washington until my arrival home tomorrow afternoon, it will be filled with various events related to my departure. It has been a very humbling experience to think back and reflect upon the past 2 years here in Central Washington. I had never imagined how much my life would be impacted by my service to others. It is an interesting phenomenon. It is a mixture of deep and immense appreciation for everything that I have learned from others and from the hand of God but also a tinge of sadness as I leave a people and culture I have come to love so dearly. It is then topped with a sense of excitement and drive to begin this new chapter in my life and watch it all unfold before me.

As I reflect upon the events of the previous two years I am brought back to many fun and entertaining memories, like learning how to do drywall and even some masonry work, I have seen the process go from start to finish with apples/cherries/etc. (fun fact, apples get picked in late summer/early fall, and so the apple you eat in the middle of the winter has actually been literally put to sleep and has been chilling out in a storage room somewhere). I have learned how menudo is made (still don't think it would be appropriate for human stomach to eat cow stomach, it seems to me like a sick form of cannibalism). I discovered that washing a car when its 24 degrees outside is not a good idea. The water freezes before it falls off the car. I learned that outside of Southern California there’s this thing called "winterizing" that one has to do for their house. It never occurred to me that when it’s below freezing outside, your pipes can freeze. That’s usually a problem if that happens, in case you are wondering. I also have been to the Les Schwab tire center in every single one of my areas. I also picked up Spanish along the way. That was pretty cool.

Aside from the temporal, I have learned several things for myself that, although not dependent on serving a mission, were definitely facilitated by the experience. First of all I have learned that your circumstances don't have to dictate happiness. Despite setbacks and trials in life, there is always joy to be found in something on a daily basis. If not, you're not looking hard enough. Part of that comes with also recognizing that sometimes you can't do anything to change things, so there is no use in fretting over it. Getting worked up or anxious or sad over something you have no control over doesn't do anyone any good, so choose to be happy instead. Along with that gospel living also helps to avoid a lot of those things that so often trouble and plague others. When we choose to live in the guidelines Christ has given us through prophets and scripture, we can achieve a fullness to life and enduring happiness that won't be found in any other place. I have also decided that there is no problem that enough humility or charity can't make better. Someone is being difficult, show some charity and it gets easier. If life is being difficult, be humble and trust God and everything gets easier to endure.

Most importantly though, through my personal experience and seeing it work in the lives of others, I now know that Jesus Christ lives and that through revelation given to modern day prophets with Priesthood Authority He guides His church, and that through His atoning sacrifice He can change lives, if we let Him. In conjunction with that, I know that Christ and our Heavenly Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith in 1820 to call him to be another prophet in these last days to prepare us for when Christ shall come again. Shortly thereafter, Joseph Smith was led to ancient records containing communication between God and ancient prophets on this side of the world which got translated into English and came to be known as the Book of Mormon, and that anyone, if they are willing to sincerely ask, will found out for themselves too that the Book of Mormon contains the word of God and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ's church, once again established on the earth.

To close, I know it may seem kind of cliché but the words of Paul at the end of his ministry seem fitting for my situation and what I feel right now. In chapter 4 of his second letter to Timothy [verses 6 and 7] he declares:

"I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."

It has truly been a once in a lifetime experience serving the Lord's sheep here in Central Washington. I hope you all have been able to learn something over the course of my journeys and enjoy something along the way. Tomorrow I'll be back in California, but the work still goes on.

Signing off for the last time,

Elder Matthew Kupferer

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I’m Tired of Coming Up with a Creative Title

Another great week goes by up here in Moses Lake, Washington. We started the week off right with interviews with our new Mission President. It wasn't anything too terribly remarkable but it was nice to be able to sit down and talk with the Mission President 1 on 1. It was a lot of him getting to know the missionaries so lots of talking about ourselves and where we come from and things like that. He really does seem like a wonderful mission president and I'm sad that my time with him is quickly coming to a close.

Earlier that day we had a little bit of a different start. There is an investigator we have who was painting some rooms inside his house and when he promised carne asada it didn't take much more to convince us. It was only 2 rooms and then the end of a hallway but it was a nice break from the routine and allowed us to get into a pair of jeans again. I personally wouldn't have gone with the bright pink of his daughter's room but hey, it’s her room and he wanted to surprise her so whatever works. The carne asada afterward more than made up for it all. I don't think I have had that much meat at any one time in a long time. It felt like I gained about 5 pounds from that alone. But for grilled cheese and jalapeno stuffed sausage, it is totally worth it.

In the random field this week, we were walking back to our car doing our missionary thing when we hear faint pop music going on, straight from the stake dance song selections. We laugh as we remember the song and when we look to identify the source of the nostalgia, we almost burst out laughing at an 8 year old kid dancing on the street corner to his heart's content. When we get back to the car and drive by a few minutes later, he was still going strong. Glad to know there are some people out there who just don't care what the world thinks, they are just happy doing their own thing.

On Friday we had an excellent ward barbeque. I think that in and of itself is one of the best things about serving in Spanish units, is that very regularly there is something related to food going on, and more often than not, it is very good food. The branch kept it simple with just hamburgers and hot dogs this time around but it was a great chance to get to know some members and fellowship investigators. It was spiced up a little bit by a hay fire that had started earlier that morning and lasted all day but thankfully it didn't interrupt the proceedings of the evening. It just had a giant cloud of smoke that hung around all day.

The quote from the week comes from a talk in general conference that was mentioned yesterday during sacrament meeting, who in turn was quoting Nelson Mandela. The full talk and background can be found here (Latter-day Saints Keep on Trying) so I'll just keep it simple and share the line that has stuck with me since yesterday.

"A saint is a sinner who keeps on trying."

Too often we find ourselves thinking of "saints" as people that are perfect in everything but since none of us is actually perfect, it is reassuring to me that I can still be considered a saint (a fancy way of saying a follower of Jesus Christ) despite my repeated imperfections.

And with that, I wish you all a week of continued trying.

Until next week,

Elder Kupferer

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Visit from Noah

Not literally, but pretty close. The temperature this week was finally taking a dip. We knew we had a problem when we were celebrating it being 'only 100' which is still too hot but it beats 108, amazingly enough. I thought it was all the same. But we also got visited with some brief rain showers during the nights, and even got a special visit from Noah. If you're confused by now (which you probably are), let me explain. Once a month we have a branch Family Home Evening at the church to invite investigators to and also to strengthen the ward, and the 1st counselor of the branch presidency and his wife was in charge. She worked in the Primary so obviously it was geared towards the Primary-age children, but years ago she had a lesson on prophets, complete with an Ark and a get up for Noah, so she pulled it out again for the FHE. Thus Monday night Noah made a return to explain to us the purpose of prophets.

Something I forgot to include last week was a service project we and the other elders in the branch did for our President. For 7 years he had been planning on re-landscaping his yard and with a Fourth of July party looming ahead of him, he decided there was no better time than the present, so he gave the missionaries a call and went to town on his yard, taking out half the grass to replace it with pavers and borders. We were only there for the part where we lugged roll after roll of cut up turf in the 102 degree weather but it was still a fun service. It is always great to get out of the shirt and tie and move some dirt around for 3 hours.

In the random department this week, we were walking around some apartments and across the fence we heard Mexican karaoke music going on. I got bit again by another dog in retaliation. I found out afterwards that the fence gate I opened had a spring attached to it so it swung open rather forcefully into the 10 pound dog's face. Thankfully the hit must have disoriented it or something because he tried to bite my shin longways up down instead of the normal short way side to side. It was nowhere near effective. We also this week in our escapades found a converted hospital that was now a housing complex. It was pretty interesting. Definitely wouldn't be on the top of the list of places to live in my book, but I'm sure it would make a great place for some epic nerf fights.

On Saturday, we got a call asking us to help out on Sunday and give some talks since nobody had been assigned yet. Thankfully, since we spend hours in the scriptures on a daily basis it wasn't too hard to pull something together last minute to help out. Overall it was a great experience for me being able to once again see my efforts magnified by the Holy Ghost.

This week, the quote comes from a phone call I had last night with my zone leaders who also had to give a talk yesterday in church and one of the lines that they shared was the following:

"Christ is the fruit of God's love for us."

I had never really thought about it like that before but it definitely puts it all into perspective. Because of God's incomprehensibly large love for us he needed a way to enable us to come back, and that way was Jesus Christ. It makes me extremely thankful to know that we don't have to be out here doing it on our own, that there really was someone that had gone through all of this before and paved and prepared the way for us to return to our heavenly home.

Until next week,

Elder Kupferer

Monday, July 6, 2015

Coming to you from the new Washington Yakima Mission

This has been an eventful week up here in Moses Lake. We started the week off on Tuesday by heading out to Quincy to have one final meeting with our mission president before the mission split the next day. It was for all the leadership in the north half of the mission and overall it was a great meeting. Both sets of APs (one for the WKM, one for the new Yakima Mission) gave a training along with President Ware, touching on various leadership subjects. I guess the A/C was out or something though because we all about boiled to death inside the chapel but despite the heat we were able to have a great revelatory experience with our mission president before the split the next day. It was also a great chance to see so many friends I had made in the mission one last time since we had all gathered together for the meeting. Definitely was a great way to end my experience in the Washington Kennewick Mission.

After the hour drive back we head straight to dinner with a family and when we came in the news was on and talked about an explosion that happened in Moses Lake, which definitely piqued our interest. We inquire of the family we were eating with more and apparently someone had been making homemade fireworks that went off unexpectedly and got the bomb squad from Spokane (about 2 hours away) to come down and investigate. It was interesting because it happened right in the middle of our area, so as we leave we see the actual location of the pictures they had broadcasted. Thankfully, no lives were lost and no serious damage happened to any of the homes.

Wednesday morning we woke up and about the only thing that happened to celebrate the new mission was a text from our former branch mission leader saying he wanted to be the first to officially welcome us to the new mission. No parties or celebrations happened really, until Saturday. I guess the message took a while to get out but Saturday the whole city seemed to be celebrating for us....

Friday though we were blessed to meet our new mission president and wife. He comes to us from Orem, Utah and had up until his call been working in external relations at BYU. He is a very articulate man that you can tell just by seeing him has a burning testimony of the Savior and of the Gospel. I am sad that I won't have a long time to learn from him because his knowledge of the gospel and his way of teaching seems like it would provide a lot of great insights into the mysteries of the kingdom. As with most life changing events he seemed a little overwhelmed with everything that was going on but he was ready and willing to tackle the obstacles that lay ahead of him.

Saturday was pretty uneventful for us. We had a meeting that morning with our zone (this was a regularly scheduled meeting; the other two just added to the plethora of meetings this week) but then afterwards went to work for a few hours until 6 PM when we were required to be inside. Can't have missionaries going crazy partying now can we? Thankfully we live with another set of elders so we were able to keep ourselves mildly entertained and were able to see some cool fireworks from the top floor of our apartment building, but the majority of the evening was occupied with throwing pop-its and confetti things at each other, coupled with lots of food. We made sure to prepare ourselves and stock up with only the importants, namely cheescake, root beer floats, and apple cider.

The only other thing to note that was different was I got bit by a dog this week on the ankle. Not enough to draw blood but enough to be mildly painful for a bit. Oh the experiences of a mission. The quote for this week comes from the zone meeting we had Saturday morning and was given to us by our marvelous zone leaders. We had an excellent training on finding joy in missionary work (if you want some cool scriptures, check out Luke 6:22-23 and Romans 14:17) but the quote that really stuck out was the following:

"Joy is the key indicator of living the Doctrine of Christ."

If we are doing what we are supposed to and living the way that we should, namely exercising faith, repenting, making and renewing covenants (like baptism), and keep following the guidance of the Holy Ghost and endure faithfully in that way, then the only natural result will be a true joy that only Christ can provide. Already between now and then I have been able to look for and find that joy in our service as missionaries, despite the rejections and not so nice people that we see on a daily basis.

May you all have a joyful start to the month of July!

Elder Kupferer

Monday, June 29, 2015

Somehow, I Wound Up in Arizona

We come out of a lesson Thursday evening and started our car as we wipe the sweat off our forehead and check the temperature gauge in our car and find that it reads 121. Thankfully it started dropping when the car got moving again but seemed to stop around 106. And then stayed like that until Sunday night. I don't know why, but for some reason Moses Lake was exceedingly hot this weekend. You step outside at 11 in the morning and it’s already 104 and then you get home at 9 and its still 104. You walk around and talk to people all day long and it’s still 108 with the sun beating you in the back, then walk up to a door and the sun gets bounced back off the door, doubling the effect. On the bright side, I'm pretty sure I lost 5 pounds this weekend. Also brought back a lot of memories of summer trips to Arizona. Thankfully this next week should be better. A nice, mild 101.

This past week we had probably the saddest specialized training with our Mission President. Once every other transfer the Assistants and the Mission President tour the mission and have trainings prepared for individual zones since it allows for a more personal teaching environment. This week our President crammed half the mission into a week of trainings with usually 2 or 3 of these 2 hour meetings a day to see the North half of the mission one last time before the mission split this week. Once the split happens, we will be under a new mission president and so our current president won't see or hear from us anymore. It was a sad day of goodbyes all the way around on both ends. It was particularly sad for a lot of us veterans because we have been with him since he started. As I was hugging him goodbye he was kind enough to remind me that it will only be a couple of weeks until we see him again at the airport. It was sad to say goodbye but I'm excited for the new mission because it means the work is going forward. The Lord is truly hastening the work in central Washington and I'm excited to see the miracles that will come.

For us this week was definitely filled with miracles. God must have felt sorry for us sweating our brains out so he blessed with a lot of lessons and guided us to so many people that were willing to listen. Unfortunately most of the lessons were either doorstep or outside lessons because there weren't other males present or the air conditioning wasn't working / didn't exist so the houses were ovens (had a lesson in one of those as well) so we were getting roasted most of the evenings and afternoons but inside we felt good because we knew we were doing the best thing we could. And it’s a lot more fulfilling teaching than getting doors slammed in your face. We met a lot of people that had cool stories and backgrounds, like a lady that is up from Mexico for the picking season that had met with missionaries 3 years ago and still remembers most of what they taught and wants to get baptized; a guy who found a Book of Mormon in the trash and decided to pick it up and works on the dairy farm of a member; and someone who just plain wanted answers, to name a few.

Overall this week was extremely rewarding despite the unrelenting heat. I'm excited to see what happens this upcoming week when we meet with all these people again. As we go forward facing another hot week the quote that keeps coming to mind comes from a shirt our branch mission leader wore to a correlation meeting a few weeks ago that says simply enough:

"Man up and just do it."

No magic pill, no amount of complaining, nor any program will substitute or alleviate the heat (or any of the challenges we face, mission life or regular for that matter) so that quote, albeit from Nike, has really helped me keep going these past few weeks.

May you all have a cooler week than mine and a wonderful Fourth of July weekend!

Elder Kupferer

A Little Bit of Everything

[This post was originally written on 6/22/15 but was not posted until 6/29/15.]

This week was a good change of pace. Had a little bit of everything all tossed together which made for a rather entertaining and fulfilling week. The week started off a little rough because my companion was getting transferred and so he had to make the rounds and say goodbye to some investigators and members in his first area in the mission field so there were some pretty touching moments but it was sad to see him go. You could tell he had had an impact on the people and vice versa. But all good things must come to an end and so Wednesday he headed off the other end of the mission, and I spent the large majority of the day with another set of elders. It was a little tough to be gone from the area all day but the steak for dinner definitely made up for it.

My new companion and I actually share a bit of a special relationship because we were in the same district for 6 months when he came out about a year ago and so it has been a blast reminiscing on the old times we had together back in Othello and Warden. His first day here in Moses Lake was a little unconventional though when we ended up getting asked to help move 2 separate pianos in two different places across the city. Toss that in with some food bank and a random trip to the hospital to help someone definitely started the week off with a bang for him. This weekend didn't help either. We were privileged to have Elder [Mark W.] Bassett from the Fifth Quorum of the Seventy come to the Moses Lake Stake Conference and speak to us on varying subjects. His ability to open the scriptures and be able to somehow tie all these seemingly different verses and ideas together into a coherent point was inspiring. One of the scriptures that he shared that really stood out to me was one he shared just in passing but makes a reference to Matthew 26:40 where he chastises the apostles for falling asleep when he was in the Garden after only an hour but then offers that Christ asks the same of us during church where we turn away from everything else for just an hour and focus on him. Overall it was a great conference and a great tribute to fathers everywhere as well.

Last night to top the week off with a little culture we were walking back to our car and walked past a member who was outside tending to his garden and so we stopped and talked with him for a minute and inquired about the various plants he had growing and he responded that it was a normal garden with tomatoes and corn and onion and chiles, and then he expounded on the chiles and told us about how good they were and how flavorful they were. Now a side note before I continue: in Spanish (or at least in this part of the Spanish-speaking world), they don't really refer to chiles by different names to distinguish between them, they just say chile and then if it’s spicy or not. So it could be something small or the hottest pepper in the world and it would still just be referred to as a chile. Well he tells me about how good it was and how it makes such a good salsa and all that and asks me if I want to try one. He says it’s pretty spicy and assuming a false sense of confidence after so much time eating spicy food and looking at the size - it was about as big as the top of a pinky from the last knuckle to the tip and half as wide - I thought it couldn't possibly be that bad. Well I'm here to tell you that I was quite wrong. Come to find out after the fact it was a tiny little Asian Thai Pepper that packed a huge punch in a tiny size. It didn't produce any tears but it burned everything all the way down and stuck for at least 10 minutes. It was a good kick to end off the week.

The quote to end this week comes from the stake conference this weekend. A member of the stake presidency shared a story about a man speaking at a funeral who had lost a daughter after much prayer and fasting by family members and friends and made the following comment in his talk:

"My faith is not based on outcomes. My faith is based on Jesus Christ."

Not much more can be said than that. Sometimes in life our Father in Heaven has something different in store for us than what we had hoped but the test of faith lies not in changing His will, but in accepting it and learning from the example of His son.

And with that I wish you all a belated Father's day and the start to a wonderful summer.

Elder Kupferer

Monday, June 15, 2015

It's the Final Countdown

*instrumental break*

Random one-hit-wonders aside, my thoughts and feelings are in a mix of emotions right now as my last transfer in Central Washington officially begins. It’s a very sobering thought to think that after so long, Kupferer in Kennewick will only have 6 more posts. *sniffs* Well, I guess the blog isn't that bad, but it is a weird thought to think that after so long, of the same routine day in and day out, so many experiences, so many people, my time is finally starting to wind down. But hey, that’s still 6 weeks away, so no need to be thinking about that. It’s the final stretch, time to start sprinting. I think I have finally figured what the heck I am doing so now’s a good time to buckle down and take advantage of the opportunity to apply the past 20-some odd months of experience.

In between now then, we actually will be experiencing a mission split. That’s the latest buzz in the mission. This past Saturday we received our transfer calls that sealed our fates as to our future mission. The missionary work here in Central Washington has exploded and created a need for another mission to be able to support the amount of missionaries needed to support the work. On July 1st, anyone in the north half of the mission will be part of the Washington Yakima Mission, so for the last month of my mission I will no longer be Kupferer in Kennewick but rather Kupferer in Yakima, which unfortunately doesn't have quite the same ring to it but alas, it'll have to do.

The only thing outside of the norm this week was probably a few days ago when the sulfur content in the water decided to spike. Now, instead of having nice, flavorless water it smells and tastes of slightly rotten eggs. Not a very pleasant taste to brush your teeth to or to drink or to even just have running. Thankfully the heat has subsided to a reasonable temperature so we won't be going through as much water as we were in weeks past so hopefully the pounds and pounds of cherries we have gotten from various people this past week will give us the water we need to survive.

The quote for this week comes from one of my former mission companions who happened to be standing right beside me as I was typing this email that pretty much describes the best way to do anything:

"Get up and go to work."

Straightforward, simple, and to the point. If there’s anything I have learned thus far, it would be that. Nothing beats just going and working. No excuses. No complaining. Just do it.

Until next week!

Elder Kupferer

Monday, June 8, 2015

A Week That Makes Missionary Work Worth It

So first of all this week was a little bit weird because of the temple P-Day we had mid-week where we went down to Tri Cities (which is why the blog came out later than normal). I was thinking that because of this I wouldn't have an extraordinary week to report but I was mistaken by a long shot.

On Saturday, we started the day early because we had to have a Branch Correlation meeting with our branch mission leader (there are 3 sets of missionaries in the branch so it can make coordinating schedules a pain) before a meeting we had with the zone but it was a good start to the day. After the meeting finished (and the remarks by our BML on how many meetings we have had subsided), we had to rush off to a lesson that had been pushed 3 hours early because he had something to go to (which was the first sign it was going to be good because he rescheduled for early not just cancelled as most people do). We get to the lesson and immediately once he begins describing his experience the Spirit slapped everyone in the face (in a good way) and set the tone for the rest of the lesson. It was one of the more powerful lessons I have had in a long time and it was such a humbling experience to see his countenance just shining with what he was learning and beginning to understand. He still has a long ways to go but he is starting to see the goodness and light that are coming from living the gospel, which is something he needs right now.

After such an amazing lesson we rushed off to lunch with a member and had some posole with her and her son which will always make any day good, so it just turned this day from good to better. We were pretty excited with where the day was going when to our astonishment a church tour we had set up didn't cancel but she actually showed up. After a pretty standard church tour, we got to the end and when we invited her to be baptized she didn't know how to respond but then told us she had to tell us something and get it off her chest (which usually doesn't mean good things). Come to find out, however, that after several experiences she has had with random people and enough missionaries knocking on her door she felt like God was trying to tell her something so she finally decided to give it a try.

We thought that was about as good as the week could get but we were mistaken. The first person I talked about came to church, only for the first hour, but liked the experience and is excited to keep meeting. The rest of the day went mediocre until the last hour of the night. We had a lesson set up with a family that we had talked with a couple of times before but hadn't appeared to be extremely promising (lesson of the week, apparently Elder Kupferer doesn't have a lot of faith) but those poor expectations of mine were most definitely blown out of the water. Throughout the lesson we could see the things they were learning click in their minds and watched as the Spirit helped them understand and answer questions they had had. As the lesson continued, you could see them getting more and more involved and subsequently more and more excited. They accepted all the invitations that were extended with gusto and were committed to reading and praying about the Book of Mormon. They wouldn't be able to meet as a couple until the following week since she works nights for one week then days for one week but he was more than willing to have us come over and read to him since he doesn’t read well during the week that his wife would be gone. I cannot even begin to describe the joy and happiness we felt Sunday night reviewing the week and seeing the multitude of blessings we had received from the Lord. It is weeks (rather weekends) like this one that make missionary work the most rewarding undertaking I have ever done.

The quote from the week is actually from one of my uncles the week before I left and it has since taken on new meaning after this weekend.

"Your mission won't be the best two years of your life, but it will be the most rewarding two years of your life."

With that I wish you all a wonderful week cooler than the 104 it is up here.

Elder Kupferer

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Another Week in Moses Lake

Not a terribly exciting week up here in the great Pacific Northwest. Another week of talking with people and finding some new people and talking with more people and then teaching some people. This area has presented a particular challenge for us because the Spanish population is a lot less prevalent in our area and so our opportunities to find them are fewer and farther between. The English elders that cover our area are loving us though, that’s for sure. Two sets of missionaries finding for one area.

This week we did have a pretty cool evening with the ward. Once a week most families in the church have what’s called "Family Home Evening" which is a chance for a family to get together and spend time together, having fun and learning about the gospel. Well this week, our branch decided to do a big group one as a branch at the church Monday night. It was a fun experience to get to know everyone a little bit better and have some treats. There was a miscommunication so we ended up getting to give the lesson with 0 seconds notice. Yet again, I can attest to the fact that the gift of exhortation is a real thing. 2 years ago I wouldn't have been able to come up with a lesson and scripture on the spot, let alone in Spanish. Now it seems like nothing. Definitely grateful for the help the Lord gives us if we are making sure to do our part.

Probably the coolest example of charity this week happened to us. Well, not to us specifically but we witnessed it. We were out walking around one hot afternoon and found someone to talk with (which was a tender mercy in and of its self at that hour of the afternoon) and shortly found out that his wife of 10 years had left him and took everything, except the kids, so he was staying at his parent's house trying to get his feet under him. We then, shortly thereafter, find out that she had also damaged some property of his and was caught, but after a few days, he dropped the charges because he didn't want to ruin her life. Then, the next time we see him a few days later and we ask to say a prayer to start the lesson, he volunteers uninvited to say it, and in the course of the prayer, prays for the well-being of his wife and asks that she be watched over and helped. It was humbling to see someone so willing to 'frankly forgive' and to treat someone with such kindness despite what had happened to him.

The quote this week comes from exchanges with one of the missionaries in the district. He was driving for the first time in his area and since he hadn't been there too long he was still getting used to the area and the streets and all that. We were coming up to a street we needed to take but it was marked weird and had a bike symbol printed right in the middle of it. It confused us and since we had to take the road and our window was shortly closing my companion for the day exclaimed:

"Is this a car or a bike lane??!! Well, now it’s a car lane!"

and then quickly veers the car to make the turn just in the nick of time. If nothing else, he and I found the experience rather hilarious.

And with that, I wish you a week of easy choices and obvious answers.

Elder Kupferer

Monday, May 25, 2015

Zone Conference!

This week was probably the most bitter-sweet zone conference to date on my mission. On the one hand it was a great chance to see so many of the friends and people that had impacted me on my mission again, until I realized that for the majority of them it would probably be the last time I would see them as a missionary. My time is quickly running out and this zone conference marked a big landmark in missionary-age. At the end of zone conference they have "departing testimonies" where all the missionaries that will go home before the next zone conference (which occur once every 3 months) give a final testimony in front of all the other missionaries. For so long I had always seen it as something far away that would never occur and then I started seeing my fellow companions and friends get up and before I knew it I myself was walking up. I still can't believe it happened.

But in other news, the conference itself was great. We had the Head Global Fleet Coordinator come in from Salt Lake City to introduce to us the new, amazing, one of a kind, Tiwi box (hold your applause). So what does a Tiwi box do, you might ask. Perfectly valid question. It’s what I asked myself. Long story short, it’s a little black box that tells you how bad you are driving. Little bit longer, it’s a little black box stuck to our windshield complete with a GPS, accelerometer, and a cord to connect to our car's computer. It measures how fast we accelerate, how hard we brake, how fast we go, and, most importantly, if we have our seat belts on. It sounds like a lot but overall it really isn't that bad. It’s not meant as a big brother type program, rather to help mentor missionaries' driving. It gives a lot of leniency and is surprisingly hard to trip (or so my zone leaders tell me). The reason behind this is that the church has over 10,000 mission vehicles (which, if the church were a commercial organization, would be the 6th largest fleet in the United States), all driven by 18-28 year old young men and women and so, as you can imagine, leads to lots of accidents which winds up being a lot of money. Hence, the box to help crazy missionaries not be crazy in the vehicles. Who knew that missionaries could do such crazy things in a Corolla?

And in other news, on an exchange this week I went with my zone leader to a lecture held at the local community college and run by I'm guessing the YSA [Young Single Adults]. It’s set up as a club on campus where various people come in once a week and lecture on subjects ranging from gospel topics to what they do for work. We show up because there’s a lot of people that wind up being interested in the Restored Gospel because of it. The free pizza is just a bonus. This week was, in her words, "a glorified telemarketer" for a newspaper company. She sells ads for the company and calls different companies asking if they want to advertise in the paper. Apparently actual paper newspapers are still a thing.

In the random department, walking around last night we saw someone cleaning out the inside of a goat. If you get a call to a stateside mission and think you won't ever see anything like a foreign mission, let me dispel that myth right now. Disgusting, yes. Frequency of a foreign mission, no. But nothing like what I had imagined getting called to central Washington.

Yesterday we also had the 'privilege' of singing in church yesterday with the other 2 sets of missionaries in the branch. It made me really appreciate all the practice I had done in high school. We sang “All Creatures of Our God and King” (in Spanish) but since our time to do anything is limited we didn't have the chance to practice much. From what they told us though it turned out okay. I guess the Spirit is a pretty good singer.

The quote this week comes from the Global Fleet Coordinator when he was giving his introduction to the Tiwi boxes. He was actually quoting one of the Apostles who in turn was quoting something he saw on a castle somewhere in England I believe. It reads:

"What e're thou art, act well thy part."

Quite a fitting quote for a group of missionaries who go out and represent Christ day in and day out. I don't know if it was the old English and having to think it over for a few minutes to understand what it said or if it was the principle, but it has stuck with me and made me reflect on our service.

And with that, I wish you all a happy Memorial Day weekend!

Elder Kupferer

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Relatively Uneventful Week

I am sad to say that not much has occurred in Moses Lake this week. The weirdest part of the week was the weather. It would be 80 and scorching one day then 50 and pouring the next and then 75 and still raining the following. Washington needs to make up its mind on its weather patterns. This week we dedicated to a lot of time for finding new people to help build up the area. With that we taught a lot of lessons and found some really cool people ranging from random guys who let us in to families that arrived just a month ago and don't know anyone. In our search for those interested in learning about Jesus Christ we also have run into our fair share of crazies, a handful of inebriated individuals, and those with some radical ideas about how the Bible is to be interpreted. All in all it has been a long albeit it entertaining week.

On Thursday we had the opportunity of serving at the food bank again. This time instead of a giant box of carrots, we got the same size box of black beans and spent an hour shoveling (literally) millions of beans into bags for distribution around the central Washington area.

On Saturday we had another Zone Training Meeting this month. It was a relief to be on the receiving end of a meeting for a change. We had some great training from our zone leaders about how to really, truly pray with faith and also about how to become "Master Finders." It involves searching for the Light of Christ which is in everyone and adding to the truth they already know. To see what we are talking about, check out D&C 88:40 and D&C 84:45. It is quite a spiritual change of pace and I'm super excited to go out and apply it. Overall I have really enjoyed seeing the turn that has been taking place in our mission in the past few months, almost stretching to a year at this point. As time as progressed, our mission has changed and become more and more dedicated and willing to work and so our mission president can now turn and offer us the next level of training to help us continue advancing personally, line upon line, precept upon precept. If we were to have given this training at the beginning of my time here in Washington, it would have gone over all of our heads. I am sad that it has taken us so long to get to this point since my time to apply it is quickly waning but the experience has still been extraordinarily. Now I get to ponder about how it plays into post-mission life. But that'd be getting trunky and we don't want that.

So here’s the quote of the week, from a license plate holder found in the Walmart parking lot:

"When mom says no, call 1-800-Grandma."

Until next week!

Elder Kupferer

Monday, May 11, 2015

Moses Lake, Washington

First week in Moses Lake has gone pretty good. It’s been a lot of running around not knowing what to do since I'm new but overall things are turning out pretty good. My companion is pretty young so it’s been fun reminiscing back on my greenie days and I'm glad that I can now turn around and help him. This area itself is a pretty entertaining spot. Moses Lake itself has about 20,000 people and with 10 family wards, a Spanish branch, and a YSA [Young Single Adult] branch it has the highest LDS population per capita behind Provo, Utah. That’s a lot of Mormons. With 4 buildings and 3 wards per building there’s always something going on. The city itself was home to a former military air base which has since been converted to residential housing and one of the largest international airports in the nation I believe. [Editor’s note: Grant County International Airport is " of the largest airports in the Western United States.”] Moses Lake is the biggest small town between Tri-Cities and Spokane. Not too big. Not too small. Overall it’s chock-full of people to talk to and fun experiences to have.

On Thursday we were helping out at the local food bank which happens to be the distribution center for the surrounding area, so there is always lots to be done. This week's adventure was spending an hour chopping away at a giant block of frozen shredded carrots to put them in smaller bags to send them to smaller groups. The box it came in was about the size of a cube pallet is the only way I can think to describe it (a pallet wide, long, and high). Three of us spent an entire hour breaking it up with a shovel and scooping it out to put in smaller bags. At one point two of us were inside the box trying to get the last of it to come out. It was quite the adventure. I'm positive that that box alone contains the amount of carrots I've eaten in my entire lifetime.

One of the cool things I like about the church buildings in Moses Lake is that they were planning ahead. Sunday at church both of the normal translators were absent and so I guess since I've been out a while they assumed I spoke passable Spanish a member came up to me just before the meeting started and asked me to translate the meeting, to which I agreed. I was surprised when we started walking to the front instead of the back where most of the translating I've done occurs and even more surprised when there wasn't any apparent equipment sitting out. He led me to a tiny door on the side of the stand with a mirrored window (one where you can't look through if its dark on the inside) and opens it up to reveal a microphone and a headset. The room itself was barely wide enough to fit myself in there but I sat down and started translating. It was set up in a way where when the door closed I could still see out to the speaker but had a little speaker above me that broadcast what was being said so I could speak without having to bother other members not needing the equipment. It was probably the coolest translating experience I have had to date. It made me feel all professional.

That is about it for the events of this week. Skyping home last night was enjoyable. I heard there was a city-wide internet outage last night which made things a little interesting but nonetheless the call made it through (I just don't want to see the data bill that supported an hour long video chat on my dad’s cellphone).

The quote for the week comes from this most recent conference session during the Priesthood session, which has been a hot topic of discussion lately in the zone and sadly took me too long to figure out. President Uchtdorf quoted it but it is attributed to Albert Einstein of all people. It says:

"Many of the things you can count, do not count. Many of the things you cannot count, really do count."

When it comes to the gospel of Christ, there is not a way to quantify one's conversion or the amount of service rendered, so there’s no point in aspiring to such. It has really made us reflect on what we do as missionaries and how we can truly help people.

Until next week,

Elder Kupferer

Monday, April 27, 2015

No Title This Week

So this past week Mother Nature hasn't decided if it wants to officially be summer or still be stuck in the tail end of winter. It has gone from 80 and sunny (which after the past 6 months is unbelievably hot; I'm not excited for summer) to the next day 60 and rainy again. Then throw in the ridiculous winds that come through on occasion and you don't know if you need short sleeves or if you need to unpack the big jackets again. Either way, it keeps you on your feet. Naturally the nicest day of the week was the day we had to spend 5 hours inside planning but I guess that's just how life works sometimes.

So some random goings-on for the week. We walked into a lesson kind of out of town around 6:30 PM and by the time we walked out at 8 (we had dinner as well) we look towards town and on the horizon there's a giant fire. My comp and I look at each other and remark "Well that’s not good." As we started driving back into town our first thought was that the packing plant in town had caught on fire. As we drove closer we were relieved to find out that it wasn't actually the packing plant. Only to have our hearts drop again when we realized that the fire was coming from a small part of town just outside the main city composed entirely of trailers and low-income housing. The smoke literally darkened the sky with how thick it was. Thankfully we came to find out later that no houses actually burned it was just a field that lay between the two parts of town. I guess that's a benefit of acres and acres of farm land.

Another fun story from this week was when we had district meeting all in Spanish. We attended a district meeting in the zone where the district leader was from Paraguay, his companion was from Mexico, and one of the other hermanas [sister missionaries] in the district was from Mexico as well, so we decided to have district meeting all in Spanish. Not the norm out here but it was a fun experience.

Another out-of-the-norm experience this week was when we got to teach a little bit in Primary on Sunday. They had asked us to come in and teach a little bit about Joseph Smith translating the Book of Mormon and the restoration of the Gospel. To be perfectly honest, we completely forgot about it until 5 minutes before we were supposed to do it. Good thing we teach that lesson a lot though, so it went fine. It’s definitely a lot different teaching a bunch of 3 - 11 year olds instead of adults but it keeps you on your toes. It was a good exercise in teaching simply, let’s just say that.

The quote of the week comes from a talk delivered in church yesterday. Side note about church recently - I don't know if it’s because the end of my mission is drawing nigh or if all of a sudden everyone is interested in the subject but lately a lot of the talks and lessons and discussions have been about marriage. I can’t decide if this is mere happenstance or if someone somewhere is trying to send a message to me and my companion who goes home just before I do... but moving on to more pertinent things, the speaker was a young man who is in the same family boat as me, in that he is the oldest of 3 boys. When we was giving his talk (about the family, might I add) he said that he was so grateful that he "could be sealed with my brothers and sisters for eternity." It took a second and after he started his next thought he stopped and a sudden realization crossed his face as he said:

"Wait! I don't have any sisters!"

And that’s about all for this week folks. This transfer is winding down to an end so stay tuned next week to see what you think will happen with Elder Kupferer's future.

Until then,

Elder Kupferer

Monday, April 20, 2015

Another Week of Random

These past few weeks have been relatively uneventful, dominated mostly by actual missionary activities, which, on the whole, are relatively the same day in and day out. There haven't been any meetings really to attend or prepare for nor any emergencies requiring trips to far away places. In all honesty, it has been super rewarding being able to dedicate so much time to helping others. I was a little worried about finally leaving at 12 when we are supposed to (which happened for the first time this transfer this week - and we are on week 5) with not much to do (since we were usually planning during that time), but with this increase in time, the Lord has blessed us and we have found several families that are in a spot that makes them perfect to receive the message of Christ's Gospel and come closer to him. There was a family who we met last week, and due to some plans weren't able to attend church 2 weeks ago but almost without an invitation from us showed up at church yesterday. I can already tell its going to be a marvelous experience working with them.

In terms of random things to keep everyone entertained, our Ward Mission Leader in the Spanish Ward is a native speaker of that dialect that I was studying when I first got to Othello, Mixteco. For one reason or another he was not in a position to help during my first time around but things have changed a bit and he is now teaching us some of that impossible language. I am not focusing on it as I had been since it doesn't pertain as much to our area's responsibilities now but it is still awe-inspiring to listen to this language and try and grasp it. Half the time when we ask for clarification (in Spanish, by the way, since he doesn't speak English) he winds up just as confused as we are since the way the language is set up doesn't resemble Latin-based languages (i.e. English, Spanish, etc) in the least. As far as we know, he could just be speaking gibberish with how random the words are but nonetheless, we are going forward and praying desperately to be able to understand this foreign language. I don't know if I have shared some before, but to give you an idea of what this language looks like, this is "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" in Mixteco (we think): ven'oo Jesucristo na'a yi'i kevi'i nu'u di'i.

But now with things that are more relatable but still slightly confusing, there was an interesting talk given yesterday that compared Joseph Smith to Harry Potter. I'm still trying to wrap my head around it but overall it was a good talk. I most definitely wouldn't have come up with it on my own but it was some good stuff to think about.

Also, not that its important, but I wanted to comment on it anyways, this past week I marked 2 decades on this planet and for the first time in 20 years, I could finally say that I felt a little different afterwards. I don't know if its the imminent responsibility ahead of me or no longer being able to call myself a teenager, but alas, I can finally move away from the children's table and sit at the adult table. That in and of itself is worth celebrating in my opinion.

The quote for this week comes from a billboard in front of a local church, and caught my attention this week so I thought I'd share it:

"A different world cannot be made by indifferent people."

I'm still trying to envision the environment where this would be said (as with most inspirational quotes people find) but I liked the concept of this one.

And with that, I wish you all farewell until the upcoming week.

Stay awesome,

Elder Kupferer

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Week of Random

So this week was another week of random stuff, driving to too many meetings, and just doing our missionary thing. Probably the most random thing I saw this week was two horses getting walked by a truck down in a part of town called "Little Mexico." I couldn't really believe what I was seeing. It was a pretty comical sight, especially when the truck kept leading them over a hill and off into the distance out of our sight. It left us just sitting there, staring at where the horses were, wondering if we had really seen what we saw. I don't think we were dreaming at least.

This week we also had our Zone Training Meeting, albeit it a little late in the month. Overall it went great. We had left the last hour and a half of the meeting open to a guided discussion/goal setting thing and to be perfectly honest, going into it I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out but thankfully we had done enough preparation it all turned out okay. Through the use of a lot of inspired questions we were able to get our point across and everyone left bound to act to something they needed to do to improve.

The only other semi-entertaining thing this week came Saturday afternoon when we got a text from our bishop in the Spanish ward asking the four of us (us and the other companionship serving in the ward) to give talks the next day in church on our favorite talk from conference. We said sure but since we were so busy that evening with teaching appointments (we had 5 lessons that day and found 4 new investigators from a PMF - it was sweet) we weren't able to start looking over the talk until late Saturday night and since we were so tired we kind of just left it to the next day. Well after Ward Councils and having to prepare progress records, I had started reading through the talk 5 times but never actually finished it until English sacrament meeting had already started. I'm guessing God felt sorry for us because they turned out a lot better than we could have ever done on our own with such little preparation.

I think a fitting quote for the week would be one from the talk I used as the basis for my comments yesterday. It came from the Saturday night Priesthood Session talk "Priesthood and Personal Prayer" by President Eyring. He was talking about the multitude of responsibilities we have sometimes and commented that:

"Human judgment and good intentions will not be enough."

I have definitely come to know that is a true gospel principle. Try as we may, our efforts ultimately wind up as insufficient. Its makes me eternally grateful that we have the greatest force in the universe pushing for us.

And with that, I bid thee all farewell until next week.

Elder Kupferer

Monday, April 6, 2015

The 4-Man Crusade

Probably the biggest highlight of the week was hands down General Conference. Any opportunity to hear from the living prophets and apostles of God is always a good day in my book. Talks and talks about modern revelation pertinent to our day comes in super handy sometimes. This week we also had MLC (where we have a spiritual party with our mission president) and we discussed rescuing people and members of the church who may have strayed from the straight and narrow. Since conference was that weekend, and there is so much that can be learned and applied to bolster people up when times are rough, we started a four man crusade in our Spanish ward to get everyone back. Us and the other set of Elders here in Othello divided up the list of all the members in our two areas - covering the entirety of Othello - and armed with an inspiring Easter Message, went to work. Since the idea came with such short notice and a very tight time frame, we asked our ward mission leader and another member to help us divide and conquer so after fueling our Mexican spirits with some taco-truck type food Friday night, we split off and for three hours went through the country roads of Othello, finding everyone we could to show them the "Because He Lives" video. If you haven't already, I invite you to check it out at: It’s a short video that talks about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and what is possible because of his Resurrection, which we celebrated yesterday with Easter. If you've already seen it, watch it again, ‘cause it’s worth it. But after 3 hours of crusading, we met back up for the night and between sessions of conference the following Saturday continued on our quest to get people to watch conference with us in celebration of Easter and in search of answers to questions the following morning. Lamentably, not as many people showed up as we had hoped but regardless, our crusade will continue on in helping everyone come to the fold of Christ.

Speaking of conference itself, I was inspired by all the talks upholding the family. It seems hardly a talk went by without a mention to the family in one way, shape, or form. Especially inspiring was the talk about the colloquium held at the Vatican in Rome in which various religious organizations from around the world came together in support of the family, ours being one of the ones represented. Interestingly enough, another church made reference to The Family: A Proclamation to the World which is definitely worth a read through. All in all, I am excited to go out and apply the principles I learned this weekend (except on the family; for obvious reasons that will have to wait a bit).

Other than that it was a relatively uneventful week of attending district meetings and teaching the gospel. The “Because He Lives” DVD definitely saw some intense usage this week and I'm excited to see where it goes.

If possible, the quote of the week would be the entirety of conference but since that is rather unpractical I'll revert to a conversation we had on P-day. Currently in our zone of 24 missionaries, we have 5 native speaking Latinos who all played soccer growing up. My companion thought it would be a funny idea to play soccer with them vs. all of us white people. Mistakenly thinking it would be fun, I agreed and as we were starting I mentioned to one of the missionaries (this was in Spanish) "Well let’s see what happens." Walking away he retorted under his breath:

"A massacre is going to happen."

I think a massacre is an apt description of the slaughter that happened. I didn't know if I was spending more time on my knees trying fruitlessly to stop the ball from going in or praying for mercy once the score reached 15-0. Needless to say, I think we will be playing basketball today.

And with that I hope you all had a fantastic Easter and wish you all a warmer day than ours!

Elder Kupferer

Monday, March 30, 2015

A Pretty Uneventful Week

So I'm looking back on the week and there really wasn't anything that entertaining to report home about. Monday and Tuesday were spent in part by my companion packing his bags (he was getting transferred down to Kennewick training) and then him saying goodbye to some converts and members. The goodbyes were extremely touching since he had accomplished so much and was such a great missionary. A large part of Wednesday was spent inside a church building waiting for missionaries coming from all ends of the mission so not much happened there. Thursday and Friday were spent planning, be it for the zone or our area, and since my current companion is new to the zone there was a lot to talk about. He just finished 5 transfers in his previous area and so he is bringing in a lot of new ideas and dedication to helping the zone get places and I'm excited to see what happens.

On Saturday we had a pretty cool experience with our Zone Leadership Council where the district leaders and sister training leaders come together and we discuss the upcoming transfer and where we want to get to. It was a neat experience for my companion and I since we had spent a lot of time discussing what we thought should be the next step for the zone but since we didn't want to impose on the council and their ideas we went into the meeting with no intentions of voicing our ideas. The cool thing was, though, by the time the meeting was done, they had spelled out better than we had our ideas of what we wanted to have happen. It was very reassuring receiving such blatant confirming revelation of what we needed to be doing. The Lord has a lot in store for the Columbia Basin Zone and I'm so stoked to be a part of it.

The other cool part about Saturday was we had the chance to help out at the Othello Sandhill Crane Festival ( So apparently this time every year there is this bird called the Sandhill Crane that makes its way through Othello and is a big deal among bird watchers (I think it’s like a rare bird or something like that, I'm not sure; most of my interactions with birds are when they are grilled and then put on my plate). But anyways people come from all over to look at this bird and so they have a huge festival set up to celebrate it and increase awareness and things like that. Normal festival festivities. So they had one station inside making masks for kids that essentially involved plastering childrens' faces. As funny as that sounds, that’s about what it was. They have these sheets that turn into paper mache and then can be put together to make a mask so we spent 3 hours doing that Saturday afternoon. It was a pretty fun experience. Definitely one for the memory books.

Other than that that’s all there really is to report. The quote I'm going to share is technically a scripture but when I read it I instantly heard my dad reading it to me and then a slight twinge from a slap in the back of the head so here it is. It is found in the 15th chapter of the book of Proverbs, specifically verse 20.

"A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish man despiseth his mother."

So remember kids, do what your parents tell you. It'll make you wise.

Until next week,

Elder Kupferer