Monday, January 26, 2015

Just One of Those Kind of Weeks

Looking back on this past week, I feel more like a glorified secretary than a missionary. Tuesday we spent 2 hours trying to fix a report we got from the office to give to the Stake President here in Kennewick (he's the man over all the members in the city of Kennewick; there are bishops – most similar to a pastor – that’s over a congregation of about 150 members and then the Stake President is over 8 of those congregations) in a meeting we have once a month to let him know how the missionary efforts are going here in this zone. The meeting went well but it was just a pain and a half trying to fix the report. Thursday was pretty cool. There was a set of sisters in the next stake over (Kennewick East - we are very original in our naming protocols) who wanted to get baptized, but they speak Spanish, and since there wasn't anyone that could speak Spanish and was allowed to do the interview, they normally default to our APs, the only problem is they were on exchanges with some zone leaders up in Othello so they asked us to do it, since my companion and I both happened to speak Spanish. It was a neat experience going back to Spanish mode (haven't completely lost it yet) and helping these people make the last step towards getting baptized.

Friday is when the true craziness began. That morning my companion and I spent two hours planning for a meeting we had to give with all the District Leaders in the zone the following day before going to an appointment that fell through, only to return home and start our weekly planning (where we discuss what we are going to do the following week and the needs of the people we are working with) just in time to get a phone call from some missionaries that needed a ride somewhere for something (we give a lot of rides seeing as we don't have a mile limit; they all just fade into a giant blur), and then return home and start planning again only to turn around and head to an early dinner to be able to be on the road down to Umatilla, Oregon. There was a similar situation happening down in another zone across the way where they were in need of another Spanish interview and since the APs were in Moses Lake this time we got to make the trip down across the river into Oregon to make this interview happen. There was some intense fog on the way down but we made the hour drive safely and relatively uneventful only to come back up for yet another meeting, this time for the high councilor over missionary work and the JustServe committee. JustServe is the new initiative that the church is starting to get members and missionaries more involved in the community so each stake has a representative called to that position to be in charge of making things happen. The representative for our stake has done a good job thus far in making things happen so we met with him to discuss the finer points of a project coming up this week. It’s gonna be cool. Anyways by the end of the night my companion and I were dead tired (sitting in a car is surprisingly exhausting) so we decided the only logical solution was to go get a shake.

And then Saturday started. We had the aforementioned meeting with the District Leaders followed by lunch at a mexican restaurant (trying to curb my need for handmade tortillas; it didn't work) followed by even more planning since we weren't able to get to all of it on Friday like we were supposed to. We had a baptism to attend a few hours after we started planning for some of the missionaries in our zone which was a good problem to have and afterwards we were so sick of planning and sitting around we gave up trying and just went to work. From there it was a relatively normal night. We had correlation with our Ward Mission Leader and then a lesson with our recent converts and then came home to finally catch a breath. If nothing else, I've been sleeping really well the past few days.

So the quote for this week I think originally came from John Bytheway but a missionary - who had got it from the member he lives with - handed it to us as we picked him up for a meeting this past week, and I think it is known as the unofficial '14th Article of Faith' but is very fitting to the events of this past week. Just a little background really quick for those of you who may not know: Back when the Church was first reorganized in the early 1800s a newspaper asked Joseph Smith to write a quick article summarizing the beliefs of the Latter Day Saint faith. The article - 13 points stating our beliefs - then came to be known as the 13 Articles of Faith, which do a very good job at describing in simple terms the basics of our beliefs. And with that in mind, this is the very unofficial (like so unofficial this is a joke; don't take this seriously) 14th Article of Faith:

"We believe in meetings - all that have been scheduled, all that now are scheduled, and we believe that there yet will be many more great and important meetings. We have endured many meetings and hope to be able to endure all meetings. If there is a meeting, we seek after it."

And with that, I wish you all a very tired goodbye until next week.

Elder Kupferer

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Surprisingly Eventful Week

Well first off I would like to note that church attendance yesterday was a little lower than normal. Rumor has it that the Seahawks game had something to do with it. Either way they're going to the Super Bowl so in a few weeks we are going to have a very low church attendance seeing as we have 12:30 and 2:30 church sessions. Anyways moving on.

This week was a pretty awesome week. I guess the overarching thing is that since we live in a town house with 14 beds in it we become the housing squadron for misplaced missionaries. So for the past 2 weeks we have been housing an extra set of a missionaries who got kicked to the wayside due to a plumbing problem in the house so there is now six of us living together. It gets pretty hectic.They finally got another place so they will be moving out this Friday. It’s gonna be strange having the house to ourselves again.

But in other news, let me tell you the story about Joe and Sally (not their actual names). Flashback 10 years ago to Idaho Falls. Joe and Sally get in contact with the church and go through the lessons and get baptized, but before getting confirmed, they move away for some reason or another to Yakima, WA (about an hour and a half north of Tri-Cities) and fall away from the church. They fell onto some hard times and make their way over to Kennewick to escape the whole Yakima scene (just so you know, Yakima is supposedly the 3rd scariest place to live in in the States). Fast forward to a few months ago and they run into some missionaries on the street and talk to them and said that they had actually been baptized and wanted to start meeting with the missionaries again, recognizing how much easier life is within the bounds of the gospel, so the missionaries grab their name, and just their name. No address. So they all shake their head in dismay but as luck (or the plan of God) would have it they run into the same missionaries again a month later and this time they remembered to grab the address. The only problem this time is that the missionaries can never find them at home and so after a few weeks they give up but one night at 8 with nothing to do they say what the heck and try by them again, and find them home. That night Joe and Sally had actually called the Family History Center attached to the church building in search of the missionaries when to their surprise they knocked on the door. After that the rest is history.

Now flash forward to3 weeks ago when I show up. We had set the date of the 17th for the baptism and all was on track for that until we came to the interview. For one reason or another, the interview kept getting postponed later and later and so we thought we were going to have to postpone the baptism and disappoint the whole ward but late Tuesday night we got a call from the person that performed the interview giving the go-ahead. "And there was much rejoicing." Monty Python references aside, there was a lot of celebrating that night. Everything got set into motion and the baptism went off with few problems (there can never be a problem-free baptismal service) and ended up being a great night. One of the neatest parts about the baptism is that a man who had been baptized in November and was part of the teaching process was able to perform the baptism and be a part of that moment with them. They came to church the next day and were able to be confirmed which was especially miraculous since they had to go to the ER immediately after Sacrament Meeting. The Lord really does have His hand in all things. Even though I hopped on the train at the tail end of the journey it was still a great experience to work with them and see the change that the Gospel has brought into their lives.

So with that in mind, let me set the stage for Thursday night and the quote of the week. The area my companion and I are in is a particularly challenging area due to the rather affluent nature of the community so we don't teach a lot of lessons but the lessons we do have are super solid. As of that night we hadn't taught a lesson since Sunday night and had had doors slammed (like actually slammed on several occasions, I'm not being melodramatic on this one) for four days straight and so in a bit of a sarcastic rage this conversation went down:

Elder 1: "Elder what am I even doing with my life?"

Elder 2: "You're finding, teaching, and baptizing."

Elder 1: "Well I feel like we are doing lots of baptizing, but not so much finding and teaching."

Elder 2: "Elder, that's a good problem to have."

If you don't find that funny, then just chalk it up to a had-to-be-there kind of moment because we thought it was hilarious.

And with that, adios.

Elder Kupferer

Monday, January 12, 2015

Finally a Normal Week

So this week’s post is going to be kind of short and rather boring. But in all honestly it has been nice. Finally had a normal week with only a minimal number of miscellaneous errands to run. Tuesday we had to make a trip out to Sunnyside (it’s about an hour away) to pick up a missionary that was getting transferred to fill a spot that got opened up over in Pasco (we live with the APs and since our van that we drive doesn't have a miles limit we are the Assistants to the President's assistants). Mini roadtrips always keep things entertaining. I'm still amazed at how tiring roadtrips can be. You sit in a car for two hours and don't move and somehow come away exhausted. Not cool.

Speaking of the van, I watched an hour long video made before I was born on how to properly drive a van. In case you were wondering, vans have higher centers of gravity so you need to slow down on turns so as to not tip the van. Just so you all know.

The other cool thing this week was something called MLC - Mission Leadership Council. It is where the senior leadership in the mission all comes down for a seven hour party with President and the APs. We receive training and policies to take back to all the missionaries to help the work move along and take the mission where President envisions it going. It was a pretty cool experience. Lots of relatively simple stuff but I am excited to see where it takes the mission. By small and simple means right? It was also pretty nifty to see old companions and missionaries I'd served around in the past and catch up with them. Always fun.

So that's pretty much it for this week. Nothing terribly exciting. Next week is lined up to be errand and meeting free so naturally I'll probably have something crazy to write about next week.

The following quote is how my companion described MLC and having now experienced it, I can assure you that it is true.

"It’s a spiritual party."

Hope you all have a spiritual party this week in some way or other. And until next week,

Elder Kupferer

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Krazy Week in Kennewick

Man. This week was so jam packed full of stuff and things to take care of and just all around craziness I don't even know where to begin. I guess where I left off from last week will work. Monday night/Tuesday wasn't anything too spectacular. Filled with the usual saying goodbye to converts and members. Some sad moments for sure but everything will work out okay. Tuesday night we got a call from our zone leaders who share the ward with us that they needed to have us come on a split so they could get to a few appointments they had set up so instead of packing my things (which I have way too much of) we went out and had a couple of lessons. Ours was super. Our bishop and his wife accompanied us and we went and taught this family that is doing really well. They were asking a lot of good questions and were making tons of connections all over the place with various members they know in the area. It was a great lesson. Afterwards, I went home and stayed up till too late packing stuff only to wake up too early the next morning to get down to the transfer site on time. That's when the craziness started happening. 

Random fact about my new area. My companion and I, for our mission vehicle, drive a Ford E-350, a giant 12-passenger van nicknamed Megatron (if you saw a picture it is pretty fitting). 

As such, we are tasked with driving missionaries around in our zone whenever they need to get to a meeting as most companionships don't have a car in this zone. Unfortunately, Wednesday, they needed Megatron to shuttle missionaries around the mission so we were stranded without a car for a while. Thankfully another companionship has a car so they were able to take us around to drop our stuff off and then as we were waiting for our car to get back (which came back 3 hours late -- pretty standard delay for transfer day) we just planned for a meeting we had. That night nothing spectacular happened since we had to come in early due to it being New Year's Eve so we just planned for 2 hours (still made time for some Martinelli's) and then I started the 4 day process of unpacking my stuff (that's how much stuff I have. And I was just so tired I never felt like getting around to it). 

Thursday was pretty insane as well. We had interviews with our mission president that day and as per the norm, wound up going 2 hours long so what started at 9 didn't finish until 4:30. And since we have the one and only Megatron we got to drive missionaries around that entire day to and from the interviews so that made for another very long day. That night was pretty normal but then Friday was another long day of planning. We had weekly planning combined with having to prep for another meeting the following day so in 12 hours we spent 10 of those planning for one thing or another. That was tough. Saturday was a rough start because we had 3.5 hours of meetings to conduct since there was no other time to do them. 

Sunday was shaping up to be pretty nice as well but we woke up and saw a nice blanket of snow on the ground. Being from Southern California I was freaking out and couldn't wait to go play in it. But church didn't start until 12:30 so we had to stay inside for our studies. But afterwards when we stopped by some people before church I made my fair share of snowballs. Church itself was good but since we cover two wards WE DIDN'T GET OUT OF CHURCH UNTIL IT WAS DARK OUTSIDE!! That was not kosher. What happened to the days of church that started at 10 and got home in time for Sunday nap... but it was cool because (another cool fact about this area) it shares the parking lot with the Columbia River Temple. That's right. The temple is smack dab in the middle of my area. It is pretty cool. Driving up and seeing the temple all lit up at night from pretty much anywhere in my area. It’s pretty awesome. Anyways so we went to dinner with a recent convert family that is cooler than the snow that was outside had us over for dinner but on our way out to go back to work we got a text from the APs saying that since all the roads were frozen over it was too dangerous for the missionaries to be driving mission vehicles so we had to go home and park the Megatron. So four days later I've gotten maybe 12 hours of proselyting. It’s a weird sensation since simultaneously this has been the longest and shortest week of my mission. But alas the meetings have subsided and this upcoming week should be better. 

Probably the most applicable quote running through my mind right now was something a previous zone leader had said to someone (I forgot the context) but said:

"Fake it till you make it." 

Pretty cliché but it works. Acting like you've been there before fools everyone. Nobody has to know that I've actually just been running around like a chicken with its head cut off. 

And with that I bid thee all farewell and wish you a Happy 2015!

Elder Kupferer