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