Saturday, June 13, 2015

Trent Is Home!

Trent arrived home yesterday afternoon. There isn't much to say other than how grateful we all are for this amazing experience in his life. He loves the people of South Africa and we will be returning to visit as soon as possible.


You can see Trent's airport homecoming here:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B2Y2bauaPgByNVBTT3F6b2VYVFk/edit?usp=docslist_api

Monday, June 8, 2015

Week 104 - I'm Coming Home



This is the last letter that I will be writing home. Typing those words is very weird and it doesn't even sound real. These last two years have been quite the journey; a journey that I would never take back.

This last week was a great one in Panorama. I'm so grateful that I was able to finish my mission in this area. Last Monday we went to Mowbray to do a Zone finding activity. I went straight to Zita and Jean-Jacque’s house; the couple who I had been teaching when I started my mission. Zita was home and she was so happy to see me. I was surprised that she still remembered me after two years. She told me that she wasn't meeting with the missionaries or going to church anymore but she told me that Jean-Jacque loved the doctrine that we taught. I got her number and the Mowbray Elders are going to call on her this week. It was wonderful seeing her again.

Wednesday I was on exchanges with Elder Truscott. He talked me into buying a fancy leather jacket. We also went finding in the rain and I found out that my waterproof shoes have holes in them. But we did manage to find a sweet guy named Sherwin. Elder Fonua and I went back and taught him on Friday and he is super awesome. He's cautious but he's willing to learn more. He says he wants to see how persistent we are and he's excited to get a copy of the Book of Mormon. The rest of the day was filled with some great appointments with some great people.

Sunday was amazing. We had six investigators, six recent converts and nine less active members at church. Kingsly had followed us in his car so that he could know where it is and it was a great meeting; one of the best since I've been here.

In fast and testimony meeting the entire Le Roux family got up and bore their testimonies about the church and about how they are going to miss me. It brought me to tears. I also bore my testimony and said how I was sad to come on the mission because I was leaving behind my family and my friends but now as I'm preparing to leave South Africa it once again feels like I'm leaving behind my family and friends. But I promised them all that I would come back with my family so I can't wait until we get to come back. I don't want to be a liar.

Kingsly enjoyed all of church and he really felt the spirit strong. He is a great man and I know he'll get baptized. Sama also came with his daughter and thanked me after church for helping him to find "his" church. He's very busy with his shop but he does desire for he and his whole family to be baptized and become members of the church. I am so grateful that I was able to touch the lives of so many people here in Panorama. I will stay in contact with all of them.

The mission has changed me so very much. I thought I knew the gospel when I came here. I didn't have a clue. Now not only do I understand it but I understand the application of it. I know that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can all be made perfect. We will face our trials in this life. We will have our ups and our downs but if we continue to push and continue to do those things which we know to be true we will receive so many blessings.

I am not the most articulate of people. I'm a simple man with simple faith. But that faith has helped me to reach new levels and to do more than I ever thought was possible. I left on this mission as a 19 year old boy. I'm coming back home as a 21 year old disciple of Jesus Christ. I must continue to serve faithfully. Going home is not a time to relax and get back into the old flow but rather an opportunity to come back better than before and keep the drive going. To continue to help the gospel of Jesus Christ be spread to all of the world.

This is the true church of Jesus Christ. This is the way back to our Heavenly Father and there is no other way. I know it, I love it, and I will continue to live it throughout the rest of my life until the time is come for me to stand before the pleasing bar of my Heavenly Father and be welcomed back to Him with open arms and a loving smile.

This is what I have desired for so many people over these last two years and what I will continue to desire for everyone I come in contact with throughout the rest of my life. I know that these things are true. I love this gospel and I love my mission and I cannot wait to see all of the people I love back at home.

Love,
Elder Kupka





The LeRoux Family
Rodger


Sibotobotos and Elton
Elder Truscott



Monday, June 1, 2015

Week 103



Well, this last week was pretty solid. Last Monday we hiked to Devil's Peak. I sent the pictures but forgot to write about it. It was a pretty intense hike. At the top it was super cloudy and windy and cold. It was fun though.

In the evening we went and saw the Johnsons. They are a sweet family and I'm really going to miss them. They are always so nice to us.

Tuesday I was on exchanges with Elder Prisbrey. He is a great missionary and we had a really good day. Nothing spectacular happened but it all just flowed really well. All of the appointments held and we even got a surprise DA from Brother Celestian.

Thursday we had to get our car serviced. So we went up and spent the morning with the rest of the district at their boarding. The car wasn't ready until half past 4 so it kind of shafted our whole day. We did have a nice lesson with Rodger though. We just had an hour long discussion about death and resurrection which I think was really awesome. I had been studying up on it all week to help a less active member who had a question about it.

Saturday we saw that less active member and it really cleared things up for her. She's been studying with us and the Jehovah's Witnesses and she really liked our answer. We're now going to start going through all of the lessons with her again so she can gain a greater understanding and testimony.

The rest of Saturday was spent visiting a few other less active families and some new people who moved into our ward. That night we had an all you can eat sushi dinner with the district and the assistants.

Sunday was nice but everyone kept asking me when I'm leaving. It was really sad to say next week but I'm so happy to go home; such mixed emotions. After church we saw Kingsly and he is such a boss. He's coming to church next week. We taught him about the Word of Wisdom and we talked about the things that we can't have with the exception of Rooibos tea. And he said are you sure? Because I don't use any of that stuff except that I drink Rooibos tea. So he's already been living the Word of Wisdom before he even knew about it. He is such a prepared investigator and I'm so glad to have been able to work with him; he is a really sweet guy.

That's all for this week. One more week and then I'm home!

Love,
Elder Kupka




Kingsly


The Johnsons

Elder Prisbrey

District Sushi Night


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Week 102








Hello again! 

To be honest I'm getting really tired of emailing after 102 weekly updates. I can't wait to get home and see everyone in person; just two more emails. I’ll probably just send my big email on my last P-Day because I'll see everyone that week!

As for this week -  last Monday we saw the Emores and had another Family Home Evening with them. Princess lead the lesson and it is so cool to see all of them doing so well because when I got here Peter was less active and no one else was baptized. Now they are all baptized and active and having family home evening. It makes me so happy!

We've been working with Alexi and Marlaim to try and help them be ready for baptism on the 7th of June but their English is just not there yet. Which makes me really sad because the wanted me to baptize them. As long as they get baptized I'll be really, really happy still. It's great hearing about people you taught get baptized.  

Wednesday was a very interesting day. We met with a Muslim guy in the morning who had requested a Book of Mormon. He had seemed interested the first time but this time he just wanted to argue and Bible bash. Then our next two appointments dropped. So we tried to contact a media referral we had gotten that day which was for a 96 Smith Street. There are two Smith Streets in our area, one does not have a 96 and the other is an old woman who had no idea what we were talking about. So that didn't work either.

We did get to see the Benjamins which was nice. We continued to teach their cousin who came to church on Sunday and left after Sacrament saying that it wasn't for her but we'll talk with her more next week. I don't know what happened there.

Then we were going to go on splits with the Bishop and Leon, the ward mission leader. Leon was sick so we just went with the Bishop to try and contact less-actives. The first door we showed up to told us never to come back again. Then the next few weren't home. Finally someone let us in and we had a nice chat. The Bishop shared something from Conference but the lady said that she didn't want us to come back and that there's nothing we could do for her. Wednesday was very strange...

We've been visiting with a less-active lady who was baptized in France. She's also been studying with the Jehovah's Witnesses so she has a few conflicting ideas going around inside her head. So we've been trying to work them out with her. They are really deep questions too and it's really pushing me to study hard for her. She told us this last time that she cannot deny the feelings that she has when she studies with us. We had talked about personal revelation and Elder Fonua and I both bore testimony of the spirit. I think she'll be a very strong member of the church but we must first work through these questions.

Sunday was pretty nice. After church we had lunch with a family who had just moved in from Mthatha. It was nice to talk with Xhosa people again. I love the Xhosa culture and we don't have too many in the Panorama area. We also had a lesson with Kingsly. We taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ and again invited him to be baptized. He agreed but he still believes that the baptism he has already done was recorded in heaven so he'll be baptized again just to show the members of the church that he's becoming a member. Which is good but I still want him to realize the fullness of what we are teaching. He's a great guy though and I really love visiting with him. I told him I only have 2.5 weeks left and he told me that we have to take a picture and exchange contact details; such a sweet guy.

I'm going to miss the people of South Africa so much. People always ask me what my favorite part of South Africa is and I always say the people. I have met so many amazing people who have changed my life for the better and I'm super grateful for that. I'm sad that I live so far away but I know that we will be able to see each other again on the other side (and when I come back and visit with the family.) I love South Africa and the mission and I am sad it's drawing to an end. Until next week.

Love, Elder Kupka





Monday, May 18, 2015

Pictures - Monkey Town




Week 101

Another great week - with only a few remaining! I went on exchanges with Elder Pahulu in Durbanville. We had a lot of time to go finding and we didn't get much success out of it but the rest of the day went great. We got to see a member in the ward who had been sick. She is really awesome. She has a strong testimony of the gospel and it was so uplifting that it really boosted mine a bit more.

I had also had lunch with her daughter in the Port Elizabeth Ward when I served there. She and her husband had us over one week so it was nice to make another connection. It's crazy how many connections I now have all across South Africa.

We saw Chanten, a recent convert from the other area, who I interviewed a few months ago. He is doing great and we taught one of his friends a great Plan of Salvation lesson afterward. It made so much sense to them and you could tell by their eyes that they were understanding it really well.

Wednesday was a rough day with lots of dropped appointments. Thursday was going a bit better until we got to a family who we had been seeing but they decided that they aren't going to sit with us anymore. They said that they really enjoyed having us over but that they were going to stay where they are comfortable. It was really, really sad. They even tried to give us their copies of the Book of Mormon back. I told them that they can keep it so that it will continue to remind them of the lessons we've been teaching them.

Friday was a bit better. We saw Alexi and Marlaim and Alexi is very good at English now. We went over the baptismal interview questions with him and he passed with a few small laughs along the way. Like telling us that he has committed a serious crime, had an abortion and been in a homosexual relationship (none of which are true) but he is ready. Marlaim isn't as good at English but we left them the questions to study. They want to be baptized together though so it may or may not happen before I leave.

Saturday was also a very open day. We had two appointments in the morning and one of them dropped. The one that held though was with a less active sister. She had been baptized in France but hadn't learned everything  properly through her not perfect French. So she has a slight problem with the concept of exaltation. We talked about it and read quite a few scriptures and left her with some things to read. So hopefully that will help her bolster her testimony.

We also saw Sister Emore in the morning. After lunch we went finding in a neighborhood that we had only driven past once before and Elder Fonua and I both had a good feeling about it. When we went back we knocked on four doors, got into three of them, taught three lessons and got three return appointments; those are some pretty good stats.

The last appointment was with an awesome coloured family! The father is a chemical engineer for Mercedes and a music producer;  very sweet family. We taught them the restoration. They had a few slight problems with it but they said that we can come back again. After the lesson they told us that they almost never let people into their home but they had felt something different about us. That would be the Spirit. I look forward to continuing to meet with them.

After that we met with another less active girl who had been injured at school using a machine. Her hair had been caught in it and she ended up doing something to a nerve. I'm not a doctor but it sounded very painful. She was doing much better though and came to church the next day so that was great. We ended up turning our very open Saturday into a very productive day.

Sunday was awesome because Brother Sama came to church again. He brought his two sons again and his daughter as well this time. He told us that when we see him this week he's going to make sure his whole family is there and he has baptismal date for the 21 of June which he is really excited for. The rest of his family should be joining him soon.

We also had a guy named Godfrey show up at the chapel. He had heard about the church and wanted to come find it. He had been looking since 7 a.m. and had gotten lost a few times but he finally made it. He is a golden guy. Then after church we had lunch with Sister Sharon. It was a great lunch and we were able to give her the Sacrament because she has been sick the last few weeks.

We also saw Kingsly and finished talking about the Plan of Salvation with him. It went so well! I love teaching the Plan of Salvation. He was skeptical about the spirit world and the three kingdoms of glory but after we read some scriptures and talked about it you could see it just click in him and he said that it was true! He's going to be coming to church in two weeks because he has a commitment already this week.

The work is going so well which makes it easier for me to stay motivated. I'm loving it and the mission is great but I can't wait to see all of the wonderful people back in Utah.

Love,

Elder Kupka

Monday, May 11, 2015

Week 100 - WOW!

Only a few weeks left now and this week was also great. On Tuesday we were able to see the Letoke family. They are from the DRC and there are so many people in that house that it's kind of hard to talk but they are interested so we went over the Book of Mormon with them and they said that they would read it. 

In the evening our appointment fell through so we decided to start trying to visit members to strengthen our relationship with them. We started with the Niehaus family. We went and talked for a little bit and shared a spiritual thought and left.

Next we went to the Birds. They gave us dinner with brownies and ice cream for dessert. We talked with them for a bit longer; they are a very nice family. We're definitely getting to know the members better. I've kind of had the mindset of trying to do everything myself and I'm just going to work hard until I finish but we've been trying to change that a bit these last few weeks and get the members to help as well.

Wednesday was great. We saw John in the morning and taught him about the Word of Wisdom. He was really sad to hear that tea is against the Word of Wisdom. But he said now that he knows that it's a commandment it would be a sin if he kept drinking it; I was very impressed, he's a really sweet guy.

We had lunch with the Bothwells who are a very nice older couple. In the evening we saw a less active family who the ward had asked us to visit; they are super awesome. They love to joke and to laugh and it was fun but it was also spiritual. They have a cousin who just started staying with them the week before and she has been facing a lot of trials. She was Muslim for a while but recently converted to Christianity, but she was confused why there are so many different churches. So we went over the restoration lesson with her and the less active family was bearing powerful testimony. The cousin was really interested in learning more and I'm excited to keep going but sad that it didn't start sooner.

Thursday we had Zone Conference with Elder Evans who is the head of the missionary department. It was seven hours long but it was pretty nice. He started off by talking about the Prophet and he read us a scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 107:22 that says, "of the Melchizedek Priesthood, three Presiding High Priests, chosen by the body, appointed and ordained to that office, and upheld by the confidence, faith, and prayer of the church, form a quorum of the Presidency of the Church" meaning that the  Prophet and the first presidency are upheld by our confidence, faith, and prayers. That is how we sustain them more than just raising our right hand. It is also something we need to be doing now more than ever. It was a nice last Zone Conference.

We also saw the Klaasens that day and we introduced them to the Book of Mormon and they are really excited to read it and learn more. Saturday I was on exchanges with Elder Truscott. We had a couple of nice lessons that day. The first started with a man who Elder Truscott had told me doesn't affiliate himself with any church but was willing to accept the Book of Mormon and read from it. So we went and were talking about the Book of Mormon and I was talking about how God loves and he said that he doesn't believe in God at all. That kind of caught me off guard but he was still willing to read the Book.

Yesterday in Elders Quorum the lesson was on the Book of Mormon from a talk by President Benson about how a man would draw nearer to God by abiding by the precepts of it than any other book. So it gave me hope for that man that he may begin to feel the love of God in his life.

We also had an appointment with a woman and her son who had just gotten the Book of Mormon during their last lesson. When we got there they had read something like 15 chapters each which was incredible. So we just spent the whole lesson testifying of the Book of Mormon and answering their questions and it was pretty great.

Sunday was nice because Brother Sama came to church again and the day before Elder Fonua had challenged him to be baptized and he accepted. He brought two of his sons who were in Primary and they loved it. I'm really excited for their family. His wife just had a baby so it might take a bit longer for her to come to church but it should all work out in the end. I won't get to see them baptized but knowing that I was able to help them along the way is good enough for me.

And then we Skyped home which was great. I love my family and I can't wait to see you again. There is little time remaining and I am just so excited to see you again.

Love,
Elder Kupka