Monday, February 23, 2015

Another Week Goes By

This week was - by the end of it - rather successful. The week started off a little weird since normally Mondays are our P-Days but this week (the first week of the transfer) was temple P-Day so it got shifted to Tuesday in order to let us attend the temple. Temple trips are always fun since, well, we go to the temple, but also we for all intents and purposes get free reign on all of Tri-Cities and the plethora of stores and restaurants it has to offer. So what did we do? We went to Wendy's. Only logical choice. But besides that, it was a rather boring day. We drove the hour back and since we had nothing else to do (all the other missionaries were scattered throughout their areas in varying stages of shopping) we decided to finally finish unpacking all my stuff and clean/organize the apartment. It was extremely mundane but it was well needed.

After that the week was relatively normal. Had exchanges with the Elders in North Pasco and the ward we were working in that day was a ward that covered all the farm country north of Pasco. It was entertaining having to drive 20 minutes between houses in hopes that someone would be there. Apart from that, the week was rather uneventful until Saturday.

Saturday we had the baptismal service of Nick. Let me tell you a little about Nick. Nick's parents joined the church about 3 years ago but soon after fell away when he returned to drinking and since she had only joined in hopes that he would stop drinking, they didn't have much reason to stay and so they stopped coming. Well fast forward to two months ago, when Nick's uncle invites the missionaries over to come meet with him (since he himself was also inactive at the time) and upon arrival at Nick's parents’ house (where his uncle was staying) the missionaries discover that Nick never got baptized at 8 (he is now 9 at this point), so long story short, they start teaching him. From what I understand (I come into the scene only about two weeks before his baptism) it was a little rocky at first seeing as his parents weren't the biggest fans of the church and weren't opposed but weren't actively supporting him either. It took several weeks to finally get them to come to church, and to meet with us on a regular basis, but then a miracle started happening. As the missionaries continued to teach Nick, his parents would listen in and over time became more and more supportive. As Nick was receiving the lessons and keeping the commitments he was left with, the Light of Christ started to work on his parents and slowly but surely they started opening up more and more and started to bring Nick and his younger siblings to church. By the time Nick's baptism rolled around, they were a 100% for it. They started inviting friends and were even defending their son when friends started to throw anti at him and criticize their decision about Nick learning more. It was truly inspiring to see the Light of Christ and the Spirit working within them to help them open up again to the Gospel. They still have a bit to go as a couple but the Dad is super excited to be active in the Gospel again. Unfortunately his work schedule is tough but he asked us repeatedly if he and his son would be able to accompany us to lessons and help share what they have learned on his only day off. We heartily agreed. While it has yet to happen, I am excited to see what it will bring. Anyways - back to Nick. So last Saturday was his service, and it was a combined service with a lady from up in Warden who was also getting baptized (the church in Warden doesn't have a font so they come down to Othello to use ours). Preceding the service was a mad house since my companion and I were tasked with making the programs and long story short couldn't get to the final touches until early Saturday afternoon. It was a pain and a half printing out the music (it was two songs that needed to be on a half-page back-to-back to stuff inside the program) and after 45 minutes of toying with the printer, we finally got it to work right, only to have the printer run out of ink (naturally). So we run across town and find a printer in the other church that was working and get it all printed off. Anyways, with all that said and done, the program itself went great. One of the smoothest and best programs I've been a part of. It was great to see the members of the ward reaching out not only to Nick but the lady from Warden. Our numbers may not be strong, but they are among the best. It was a very emotional moment for everyone. Hopefully it will keep Nick going strong in the Gospel.

Aside from that, that was pretty much the week. The quote comes from exchanges this past week as we were driving around all the fields, and pretty much describes the whole day:

"I feel like we keep redefining the middle of nowhere."

And with that, adios. 

Elder Kupferer

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Meetings, Meetings and More Meetings

That's pretty much all we have done all week. Monday and Tuesday were relatively normal days taking care of this and that in preparation for the missionaries returning home and the incoming missionaries. Monday night since we drive the giant van we were tasked with picking up all the missionaries who were going home the following day and took them to our townhome so they would have a place to lay their head. It was pretty entertaining watching all these missionaries walk around the house like zombies, conscious of their imminent doom of returning home. That night when we tried to go to bed they mostly just spent time tossing war stories back and forth from their two years of experience under their belt. Eventually we got to bed around midnight only to have the alarm go off at 5 the following morning so people could start taking showers since they had to leave around 7 that morning. My companion and I stayed behind and cleaned up around the house in preparation for the incoming missionaries that night so they had a good example of what missionary housing is to look like (not to say that we don't clean throughout the other six weeks because we do). We finally finish that afternoon and after sharing some pizza with some fellow missionaries one last time we took off walking the 4 miles to our area. Since the van is technically the transfer van and transfers were now upon us we were sore out of luck in terms of transportation. Having not walked that far at one given time in a very long time (I can't remember the last time to be honest) it was surprisingly strenuous and made me extremely grateful for the car we drove. The weather was on our side though as it has been consistently getting warmer (we are into the 50's now – it’s awesome) so it was overall a pleasant afternoon. We (slowly) made our way over to the mission home to look over the missionaries that had arrived earlier in the day from the Provo MTC as the President and the assistants took off to pick up the incoming group from the Mexico MTC. So for two hours we showed them the church and how to properly give a church tour in addition to a walk around the temple grounds as well. Upon the return of the Spanish missionaries from Mexico we (thankfully) took the van back to head to dinner and then make the rounds of goodbyes that night only to return and repeat the process of the night before. The new missionaries all piled into Megatron (our affectionately named van) and headed with us to our humble abode to spend the night. Thankfully since most of them were running on little to no sleep we were able to make it to bed on time and since the numbers were fewer than the preceding night the alarm went off at 6 instead of 5. So we repeated a similar process of short showers and dropping people off Wednesday morning in time for transfers. It was tough saying goodbye to an area and zone after only 6 weeks but I was glad to be going back to the basin.

Upon arrival Othello we still got to sit around for a few hours waiting for people to come and go so that transfers would be finished and were able to go out to work that night but that work came to an abrupt halt Thursday morning. The day started with a trip to Basin City to coordinate with some other missionaries about the upcoming Zone Meeting we would be having and that was finished in time for us to head back down to the very area I had come from not even 24 hours prior for a trainer trainee meeting. There are four companionships out of the 12 in our zone where one is a brand new missionary and so we were invited to attend the meeting that explains to them a little about missionary work. It was a fun meeting to be a part of and enjoy the presence of all the excitement the new missionaries brought to the field. After the meeting we had some dinner and then worked our way over to North Pasco to correlate with a member of the Stake Presidency about the missionary work in that stake. It was a rather inspiring meeting since as we discussed it on the way home, my companion and I - both 19 years of age - are tasked with working with these men that have had twice our age in experience in the church and life. They trust us enough to work closely with these men and I was privileged with this opportunity to learn from some of the finest in the area. After an hour road trip home we made it back in time for a lesson with a recent convert before heading home that night. And then Friday happened.

Friday started off with what's called District Leader Orientation. About what the name implies. There are three District leaders in the zone that have been district leaders for 0, 1, or 2 transfers previous and so we took a few hours to sit them down and tell them what was going on (in a nice way). It was a surprisingly inspiring meeting given that we only had 30 minutes to plan for it between dinner and correlation the previous night. The district leaders were all super young but they have a huge desire to do a good job and so my companion and I are extremely excited for what is going to happen this transfer in working with them. After some pizza we headed home to sit down and plan for another 2 hours in preparation for the Zone Meeting that would occur the following day and despite the limited amount of time the trainings came together super well. We spent a few minutes finally starting the weekly planning that normally occurs on Friday before heading to dinner and then going to work that night since we were both sick of our apartment and wanted to actually do something, not just plan for it.

Saturday started off with what I think was one of the best Zone Meetings I have been to (me running it has nothing to do with it by the way). It was great to see how even though we didn't have as much time as we would have liked to put more thought into the training (our last training was planned for at 6 AM the morning of) the Lord was able to magnify our efforts and carry the spirit of what we wanted to get across to the members of the zone. Once the meeting had concluded and lunch was finished and goodbyes were had, we drove to Les Schwab to fix a flat tire we discovered that morning (when it rains it pours right) and started the weekly planning that was supposed to have occurred the previous day and upon completion of the tire fix we returned home to plan for the upcoming week until dinner and just left all the planning for a later time (we finally finished it Sunday night).

Throughout this whole process of meetings and correlation and planning it’s been interesting to note how the Lord recognizes the time and effort we have to put into the various matters of the zone and since it detracts from our proselyting time He makes the time we do have to go out and work that much more effective. For example, Friday night we only had three hours to work. We were supposed to meet with a kid that is getting baptized soon but for one reason or another it ended up not panning out so we went and tried by a house we felt inspired to try by. We talked with the kid that answered the door for about 15 minutes and left having taught the Restoration, inviting him to be baptized, and a return appointment. That was followed by a lesson where we were finally able to put two kids on date for baptism (just realized I use the word 'kids' a lot - it is referring to people under the age 18, not just like 9 year old kids) that had been needing to happen for a few weeks now.

Overall this past week has been exhausting to say the least but it really has been great to be working with the people I am with and to be back in Othello. The blessings just keep coming and I am super excited to be where I am at right now and the opportunities that are lying just around the corner.

The quote this week comes from our mission president a few weeks ago when he had come to pick up a missionary who had some medical problems. He walked into our house to pick up the luggage and say a prayer with us before departing and came into the main room where we all were. After the prayer, he stands up, looks around, and then remarks:

"I have been into that hallway hundreds of times but I have never been into the inner sanctum before."

It warmed my heart knowing that I lived in the inner sanctum of something. Haven't decided what yet, but it’s the inner sanctum of something.

And with that I wish you all a good week and a happy post-Single's Awareness Day.

Elder Kupferer

Monday, February 9, 2015

Back to the Basin

So for those of you that are following a little too close you might have realized that this week would be the week transfers come around again, and man have they come around. This transfer call caught everyone off guard in the zone (myself included) because I am headed back to Othello. I'm going back to the other half of Othello but I'll still cover the Spanish ward, just this time instead of the Mixteco language I'll be covering one of the English wards as well. It’s a little bitter sweet as after 6 weeks I was starting to get close to the members and the area and the missionaries I was serving with but on Wednesday I head back up to the Basin.

Probably the interesting story for the week (besides the transfer call I was going back to Othello) was Tuesday morning when we got a call from our recent convert who had given a Book of Mormon to a homeless man outside of Albertson's and told him we could get him in contact with someone to help him out with housing and a job and what not so we go and stop by to follow up with him about 15 minutes after we get off the phone. As we go up and start conversing with him and identify ourselves as the Mormon Missionaries he replies "Wow that was fast." We Mormons mean business. But we talk with him for a bit getting to know him and then as we are conversing another lady comes up and motions to a girl who's car hood was up and asked if we could go help her (apparently we are mechanics?? I barely know how to change a tire) so after the conversation finished with our new homeless friend comes to an end we go over to help the damsel in distress and stare at the car with a relatively blank expression since neither me nor my companion knew anything about cars. Interestingly enough though, our homeless friend did and evaluated the situation and identified the problem and since there wasn't anything we could do she says she will worry about it later since she only has to go across the street, we say our goodbyes, and then we head back home, all before companionship study is done.

And that really is about it for the week. A whole lot of nothing interesting. Next week though. That’s gonna be good. The quote for this week comes from a lesson we received yesterday during Gospel Principles class on The Fall [of Adam] and the question was proposed about how life had changed after having kids and someone responded back with:

"I started to pray more because I needed hard core help."

Can't wait to have kids. Sounds like a blast. But in the meantime, I'm just gonna go back to missionary work. It’s simple enough right?

Until next week,

Elder Kupferer

Monday, February 2, 2015

A Little Bit of Everything

It’s approximately 7:10 Sunday night, Pacific Time. My companion and I just finished our (second) dinner with a recent convert family after church (this is what happens when church doesn't get out until 5:30). We step outside and pause. We are at the bottom of the driveway of a house on a hill overlooking most of the Tri-Cities. It’s dark out, and there are lights shining throughout the horizon. The air is surprisingly still. Not much to be heard. Around the corner the Angel Moroni atop the Columbia River Temple is shining. There is a feeling that permeated everything. We look around. It’s a feeling we hadn't felt in a while. We look at each other, and come to a silent agreement. The state of Washington in its entirety is lamenting the loss of the Seahawks at the Super Bowl.

And in other news, our week, despite the loss of the Seahawks, managed to be pretty good this week. Tuesday and Wednesday was a pretty exciting experience for us. The JustServe project I had mentioned something about last week happened on those two days and ended up being super successful. There was a giant section at an intersection of previously empty dirt. Just dirt. Not terribly pleasing to the eye. So the City of Kennewick bought tons of rocks to spread out over the area to help in weed control and make it look nicer. The rock showed up in approximately 12 piles of rock that needed to be spread out, and who better to do it than 10 18-24 year old missionaries who would do anything to not have to tract in the rain? The project itself was pretty labor intensive and we are still exhausted from it 5 days later but it turned out to be really beneficial, not only to the City of Kennewick but for the relationship we are beginning to build between the City and the Church. My companion and I are the go-between the High Councilor assigned to JustServe and the missionaries so we have been able to see all the behind the scenes stuff and how it all gets worked out. I’m excited to see where this goes later on.

So just a random side note I thought of the other day. You know your area is awesome when you park outside of your Mission President's house to try by some potentials and look over and see the temple (which is still in your area). Anyways moving on.

Cool story from church yesterday. We were in Gospel Principles class when our phone goes off and my companion checks it to find a text from one of the bishopric, requesting that we go to the bishop's office quick if we are still in the building. So we do and as we get there, a man named Justin (not his name) was sitting there and by the looks of his clothes (namely not being in a suit) we knew something was up. Come to find out that Justin has just been left by his girlfriend who took his daughter and another one away and was battling with an addiction to alcohol which he wanted to overcome. He felt super alone and destitute in life and was looking for direction. At this point the bishopric has to go start a meeting (we are still in the middle of church at this point) so they leave us with him and we talk to him for a bit trying to find out more and teaching him a little bit to help reassure him there is hope. We ask him what made him come into the church and he relates to us the story of how he was driving down the road to go up the hill and look out over the city (the church/temple is backed up onto a hill) to ponder what he wanted to do with his life and he said that as he drove by he saw people coming in and out of the church building and felt like he should go in and was like "Why not?" So he did. It was at that point when he was sitting on the couch in the foyer and the bishopric member saw him and invited him into the office to talk with him. We had to get going to an appointment at this point so we left him with a Book of Mormon and a copy of the Restoration pamphlet with a link to (he said that since he was changing his life around he might as well go all the way so he asked if we had any music since the stuff on the radio was not the best stuff to be listening to) and gave him our contact info and told him the missionaries that pertain to the ward he would normally attend would contact him in the next few days. If that wasn't a miracle I don't know what is.

So for the quote this week, it comes from an experience we had Thursday night. The Activity Days girls (which up until Thursday night I had little to no knowledge about; I just knew it existed) were having an activity and they asked us to come and talk to them about the joy in missionary service. That in and of itself was a suprisingly spiritual experience seeing how excited they all were to serve missions and share the gospel, but the quote comes from the question and answer session they had at the end. One of the girls up front was raising her hand so high she was about to fall out of her seat so we call on her and she asks us both how old we are to which we reply 19. She gets super excited and then responds back with:

"You can marry my sister! And so can you!"

The look of shock and alarm on the leaders' faces was almost as hilarious as the answer itself.

Anyways, that's all she wrote for this week so I'll see you again next week. Happy February to all!

Elder Kupferer