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