Monday, September 30, 2013

Week 16

Queenstown is very nice. It's like going from Provo to Ephraim. Only Cape Town is bigger than Provo and Queenstown is bigger than Ephraim. I like it a lot out here. I'm very grateful that I didn't lose my bag and my big suitcase is great; I'm very glad that I have it. I'm still underweight on all three of my bags so I'll be able to buy souvenirs when I come home. I don't know how it's going to work if you guys pick me up though. I won't be released as a missionary and we can't really go to other places. So we could visit my first area and that's about it. I'll still have to follow the mission rules, so no going to the ocean or on boats or anything like that. We’ll have to decide later what to do about that.

It's been such a great week. We taught a lot of people. I think in these first two weeks I might have taught more than I did in my last three months in Cape Town. I want to spend as much time in the Eastern Cape as I can. We went back to East London this week for Zone Conference. We left Thursday afternoon and when we got there we didn't really have anything to do but one of the guys we were with served in Mdantsane which is the second largest township in South Africa. There's a lot of work going on there and some really great people people live there. We went around visiting families that he had taught and baptized and I hope to serve there one day too.

We met the Bishop of the first ward there.  There are three wards in the township and that could soon become five if they split.  The Bishop has been serving for 20 years!  We went to a correlation meeting at his house with the Elders we were staying with and he still has so much excitement for the Church and his calling and it's so cool to see.

Then on Friday we had our Conference. It was a Tri-Zone Conference and there were a lot of missionaries there so it felt like I was in Cape Town again except these guys are a lot more spread out. It was a very awesome Conference though. We were talking about the creation and the fall and I got a lot of new insights on it. One thing that I really liked was when I was reading in True to The Faith they described the fall as a slope. That yes we fell but we also moved forward and were able to progress which is really the whole point of our being on this earth. I learned a lot that will help in my teaching. President Wood also managed to tie in eternal marriage and counseled us on marriage for a while. It was funny.

We also had to report on each Zone in the form of a skit. One Zone did it with their leaders being judges and then accusing people of baptizing too many people which was funny. Another Zone did an Old Spice commercial type skit. Then we did it as an Army where we had to march in and do all this military stuff. One guy in our Zone was in the Army so we had some pretty legit marches. Each Zone had to sing as well. We sang If You Could Hie To Kolob and it sounded awesome and President even started singing along.

The Mdantsane Zone had never practiced with a piano before because the piano player serves in King Williams Town which is an hour away from everywhere else. I have never heard a worse singing performance in my life. Everyone was trying so hard to hold in their laughter and even the people who were singing just gave up and started laughing. I don't know how they did that but it was bad.

Tuesday of this last week was Heritage day. Our ward decided to celebrate by having a moving dinner where you go from house to house. We went to a home in Mlungisi and shared a spiritual thought, had a brief testimony meeting and then ate soup and talked. All of the members were dressed up in traditional clothing and had designs painted on their faces. At the second home in Town we had lunch and my companion was asked to share something about our heritage in the Church. He did a good job and then we all talked again. I have some pictures that I need to get from another Elder so I can send them home. Then we went out to Ezbeleni and had ice cream. All of the women started singing in Xhosa and dancing around. It was very cool to watch and made me appreciate the culture here even more. It also made me realize that I am terrible at remembering Xhosa names. I'm usually pretty good with names but here I can't remember a dang thing. I'm starting to get there and can remember some people but I'm working on it.

We've been doing a lot of teaching this week even with all of the craziness. We had eleven member present lessons and five new investigators. We also visited recent converts, less actives, and members. It was a busy week but it makes the time go by so fast. I seriously can't believe that I've been here for two weeks. We have two very solid baptismal dates for the 20th and we have more investigators who are ready but aren't willing to commit to a date yet. We are continuing to work with them and trying to help them to come unto Christ.

One of the investigators with a baptismal date is Apiwe. I am so impressed with her intelligence. She is only 18 but she is so smart and so ready to join the Church. When we explain things to her and then ask her questions about it she is able to tell us everything and she even throws in her own ideas that tie it to other parts of the gospel. She read the first seven chapters of the Book of Mormon in three days and then was able to explain everything that happened back to us in great detail. It's so awesome to see that what we are teaching her is actually helping her to understand the gospel and why it is so important.

I'm very grateful for the guidance of the Spirit because I know I couldn't possibly even hope to do this all on my own. The 20th is going to be an awesome day. I'm also very excited for General Conference this weekend. We are going to watch the Saturday and Sunday morning sessions live. Then catch Saturday afternoon and priesthood on Sunday morning. Then they will show us Sunday afternoon another time. We watch it at our chapel with our ward and I cannot wait. We've invited all of our investigators to it too and I hope they come so that they can see that there really is a prophet of God on the earth today.

On Saturday we came back from East London and were able to make it to an Elder’s quorum activity which was playing soccer in the Church parking lot. We even got a new investigator out of it and had some fun. Afterward we had a Braai that was delicious. Things are going well here in Queenstown. It's nice to have a car and I drove about 750 Ks this week which more than makes up for the last three months walking in Cape Town.

The work is good and the Church is true. I'm so glad to be able to share that message with the people of South Africa. I've never been happier in my life.


Elder Kupka

Monday, September 23, 2013

Week 15

I am now in Queenstown. It is a three hour drive from East London and it's in the middle of a desert but I really like it here. We stay in a four man boarding with Elder Black and Elder Obonye.  My companion is Elder Mahoney. He's really nice and I like him a lot. He's from Heber, so not too far from Provo.

I couldn't believe I got transferred either. People very rarely stay somewhere for seven and a half months but Elder Sombke is. He was so sure he was leaving that he didn't even write down our weekly planning or appointments so I had to give him everything right before I left. It was pretty funny.

Back to Queenstown, I love it here. There's lots of work going on and we will hopefully have a baptism or two next month. One of them is a girl named Apiwe. She's 18 years old and has wanted to be baptized for years but her Dad wouldn't let her. Now that she's 18 he's giving her permission. She's so awesome and we meet with her three times a week and she keeps her commitments. She comes to church and has a very strong testimony already. We're still teaching her some things but I am very excited for her.

The Ward here is very nice. So many people have introduced themselves to me that I can't even remember most of their names. Everyone here is Xhosa. So it's even harder to remember their names. There are four white guys and one colored guy in our ward. Three of the white guys are missionaries too.  Everyone else is black and they all speak Xhosa. So they pray in it and sometimes they say it in lessons too. I don't understand a thing but it's really cool to listen to.

It's been a very nice first week. The Ward feeds us almost every day which I'm not complaining about. The flight was fine. The Cape Town mission is the highest flying mission in the world which means transfers are done by plane more than anywhere else. I didn't think of anything I needed as I was packing but I thought of more stuff that I want to send home. I really don't need much out here so I don't know what you guys can send me for Christmas.

One cool story about the flight was that I was in one car and my bags were in a trailer attached to a big van so the AP's said that they would grab my bags for me. We met up with them when we were checking in for our flight and I realized that they didn't have my carry on. So we ran back to find it. We looked in the van and the trailer and there was nothing. I was very stressed at this point but right then a man walked up with my bag and asked if that was what we were looking for. It had been left sitting on the ground and he found it and was going to turn it into the airport. If we hadn't been there right then I would never have seen that bag again.  It had all of my clothes and my scriptures in it. It was definitely a tender mercy from the Lord.

Seeing the picture of my plaque made me realize how much weight I've lost. How did I get so fat? I'll probably be able to take more pictures here and I have a lot to send home today because we went to a game park and saw some rhinos, zebras, giraffes, baboons, springboks, ostriches, and water buffalo. It was way cool.

I was very sad to leave Cape Town and say goodbye to the people there but I'm glad I was able to leave them with my testimony and I am very excited for Sister Zita. I'm also going to miss a lot of the other missionaries. There are 45 missionaries in Cape Town and I saw most of them regularly. There are about ten here with four in our boarding and four in a boarding down the hall and the two zone leaders stay here as well. That's going to be an adjustment but I really like all of the Elders out here. They are all super cool and I get along with all of them.

I don't really have any stories this week. We met a lot of members and they are all very excited to meet me. We taught a guy that is in the mental hospital. He was a referral from a guy who had recently gotten out who is pretty normal. The guy we taught though was kind of strange. He talked for 45 minutes straight and didn't let us say a word. I don't even really know what he was talking about because he was super quiet when he spoke. We left him with a restoration pamphlet and we're not sure if we'll go back.

Another thing that happened is that it rained my first day here. It hasn't rained here in four months. It was some pretty intense rain and they actually have thunder and lightning here. I never heard or saw thunder or lightning in Cape Town. When it was raining there was a dust storm and you couldn't see five feet in front of you. We drive a car here so it was pretty sketchy driving through the dust storm but we made it out alright.

We also helped some members move stuff into their garage while their house is being renovated. I was glad to help out and start building good relationships with the members. They had these 50kg bags of cement that needed to be moved. I picked one up by myself and moved it and they were pretty impressed. We work out and go for runs in the mornings so hopefully I won't get fat now that I'm driving. I'll have to send you a picture of our bench press. It's dope.

That's all I have for now. I love Queenstown and I love the mission. I have a bunch of pictures to send you.  So, until next week.

Elder Kupka

Cape Town Elders

The Mananga family

Elder Mahoney

Our "bench" is a step stool, a seat cushion
and two cans filled with cement

Getting "Yoked"


Three posing rhinos

We chased an ostrich down the road

Just chillin' with some giraffes

Some zebras doing their thing

Baboons run very fast and on all 4 legs -
I had no idea until today.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Week 14

Elder Sombke has been feeling better this last week. We went to the doctor’s office and got some medicine for him. There's not much that I can do when we stay home. I clean the flat, do laundry, read the scriptures, take a nap. This last week he was good though so we actually got out and did some work. Every missionary in Cape Town goes to this same doctor and I just wait in the waiting room.

We've been talking about going to see the penguins during this whole transfer but they are about an hour and a half away and we've never gone. It looks like it's going to be a while until I get to see them too because I am being transferred this week. At Stake Conference yesterday President pulled people aside and told them if they were getting leadership positions and Elder Sombke is becoming the District Leader and staying in this area. He'll have been here for seven and a half months and gone through four companions after this next transfer.

As for me, I don't know where I'll be going or who I'll be with but I do know that I'm flying into the East London airport. I have some inside news from the office Elders about my travel plans. I'll find out the specifics of everything tonight. I thought that I would be in this area for like the first six months but I guess not. I'm excited to go to the Eastern Cape. There's lots of work to be done, crazy experiences to be had, and animal parks to visit. I think that I might be going with Elder Gillespie, my old District Leader. I would be pumped if that happened, but who knows.

Cape Town has felt like a pretty normal westernized city. It really isn't a whole lot different from the US. Maybe things will be different on the other side of the country. I'm kind of sad to be leaving. Although the work here has been slow I enjoy being in Cape Town. A third of the missionaries from the whole mission serve in Cape Town. So it's nice to see all of the missionaries and there are a lot of cool guys here. I love the ward too. I still remember my first Sunday here and how nice everyone was and how so many people came up and introduced themselves to me. It's been a good first three months here in Mowbray and I'm going to miss it a lot. I know that I have work to do wherever I'm going and I'm very excited for it.

This week the Bishop and his family invited us over for dinner and to meet their son’s atheist friend. We didn't really get to talk to him about his beliefs but I hope that we were able to plant some seeds about the church. They were talking about inviting him and the missionaries over for dinner again in the future. He's a nice guy and I hope he comes to enjoy the church. We also taught Sister Zita the Gospel of Christ this week. I lead the lesson and did most of the talking. The lesson went great and she understood it and is ready to live it. At the end I also extended a baptismal date for her and she accepted for the 13th of October. I am so excited for her because she has such a desire to be baptized. I'm sad that I won't be here for the baptism but I'm so happy for her and I'm just glad that I was able to reach this point.

We also got three dvd referrals this week. One guy wasn't there when we showed up and another guy said he'd call us when he's ready for us but never called. He did sound a little crazy though. When I called him to make an appointment he asked me who I was and I said, “Elder Kupka from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.”  His reply?  “I don't know you.”  I explained, “I know you don't know me but I have the dvd you ordered.” Again he told me he doesn't know me. This went on a few more times until he finally understood. The third dvd though was a guy I remember giving a Pass Along card to. He seems like a really solid guy and I see a lot of potential in him. I hope he works out well for Elder Sombke since I'm out of here.

Like I said before, we had Stake Conference this last week. We went to the adult session on Saturday. I thought it was going to be really boring instruction on callings that don't pertain to us. What actually happened is they had a presentation on hastening the work of salvation taught by President Wood and President Holmes, the Stake President. It was really awesome and this Stake is really ramping up the missionary work. The Stake is also going to split very soon. It's pretty exciting.

At the next session we sang in the choir. We sang All Creatures of Our God and King. It sounded awesome. We also heard some really good talks. One of the speakers was a guy I had met a few weeks ago who served in London with Mica's brother. Then on Sunday we had the general session. We had to go early to warm up with the choir. We also got to see the members come pouring in the doors when they opened. It was so cool to see them all come in. There were about 1,100 people there yesterday; all in one room at the Cape Town International Convention Center.

We sang our two songs but then they also surprised all of the missionaries by having us go up with the Primary kids and sing Armies of Helaman. It was a very powerful moment. The conference was great too. I ended up taking six pages of notes. It was a very nice last Sunday in Cape Town. We're planning on visiting members today and tomorrow so I'll hopefully get some pictures with them before I leave.

The mission is going great and I've loved my first area. I'm excited to move on to my next one this week. It's been crazy fast but I've loved almost every minute of it. I love and miss you guys. I'm trying to be the best representative of you that I can.


Elder Kupka

Monday, September 9, 2013

Week 13

This week has been a bit of a slower one. Elder Sombke is still sick and we went to the doctor on Tuesday. So we didn't really do a whole lot until Wednesday. I was on exchanges with my District Leader Elder Radebe that day. We didn't really have a lot going on since we had been stuck at the flat for a while. So we went up to UCT and handed out pass along cards to the students. They’re cards that tell people to SMS a number with their name and address to get a free Finding Faith in Christ DVD. A lot of people seemed interested and we handed out 25 of them but we still haven't gotten any DVDs to deliver yet. So that kind of stinks.

That night we had an appointment with the Kolombos. They are a family from the DRC who are members. It was cool to hear Brother Kolombo’s conversion story because he used to be a pastor. He found out about our church and learned that it is true and then tried to tell his family. His kids were a little difficult to get to come around but eventually they did and now two of them are on missions.

We didn't really know what we were going to teach them when we went in because my companion had set up the appointment so Elder Radebe just turned to me in the middle of the lesson and asked me to share a spiritual thought. If he had asked me to do that when I first got here I would have freaked out a bit. Now I just pulled out my scriptures and was able to share a nice thought with them. It showed me how much I've already progressed in these first few months. I know there are still things that I need to work on but I'm learning more and more every day.

Our next lesson was with Sister Zita. Jean-Jacque has been too busy with work to be able to meet with us and we haven't been able to have a lesson with them for a while because of it. Sister Zita wanted us to come over because she had time and she missed having us around. When we got there one of the first things she said was, "When am I going to be baptized?" That really made me so happy. It has been a rough couple of weeks for us between Elder Sombke getting sick and some of our other investigators dropping us. I guess the Lord allows us to go low before He lifts us up again. It was seriously so great when she said that. We still have some more lessons to teach her and she's trying to talk to her boss to get more Sundays off so some things still have to happen, but I'm so excited for her and it is going to be so awesome when we finally can baptize her.

On Sunday we were sitting in Gospel Principles class waiting for it to start when Salem, who is Brother Kolombo’s son, walked in with a girl and says that he just went outside to make a phone call and met Brenda on the street and invited her to church. So she came and sat in on the class. She says she's born again and she meets with the Christian Society at UCT but she's a new investigator and I'm very excited to start teaching her.

Next week is the Cape Town Stake Conference. It's at the Cape Town International Convention Center and I'm really looking forward to it. It will be the first time that the whole stake has been in the same room in eight years. We've been singing in a Stake choir and we'll be singing High on the Mountain Top and All Creatures of Our God and King. It's going to be awesome. This could be the last time the Stake is together though because they are very close to splitting into two Stakes. That will be a great day. The church is growing here more and more every day. It's so wonderful to see. I'm glad that I am here to be a part of it and help out in any way that I can.

I'm doing my best and hopefully things will start picking up for us. This is the last week of the Transfer. Elder Sombke will most likely be leaving because he's been here for six months but next Monday I'll know who my new companion is going to be and then on Wednesday I'll go pick him up from the mission home. Things are going great and I love it here. I miss you all a lot but I still love being here.


Elder Kupka

Monday, September 2, 2013

Week 12

As for this week, it was a pretty slow one. Last P-day we hiked to Lion’s Head which was pretty fun. I don't remember if I told you about it last week but we had to climb up some parts using metal rungs stuck in the rocks. Afterwards we went to a place called Eastern Foods Bazaar. They have food from all over the East and it's one of the few places you can find Chinese Food.

On Tuesday there was a leadership training so two other Elders and I went on a “tripanionship” exchange. It was interesting. We were at the office for a while because Elder Cathemer had to do some post stuff. Then none of us really had any appointments to go to so we went and ate Sushi. After we finished the other Elders called us to say they were ready so we just went back to our flat until they arrived about an hour later.

Elder Sombke and I went to Checkers to get some groceries and a man stopped us and asked if we were the religion where you can have seven wives. We quickly told him no and gave him a Restoration pamphlet and explained what we really believe. People’s ideas about what we believe are so skewed; it's ridiculous.

On Wednesday it rained so hard that we couldn't even go out. We tried for a bit and got so soaking wet that it drenched through all of our clothes. On Thursday we had exchanges with the AP's. I went to their area and it was pretty good. We taught a guy the Restoration. He had a question about why we drink water instead of wine for the Sacrament and Elder Chikara asked me to answer the question. I'd never answered that question before and this guy was a pretty new investigator so I didn't want to get too deep into it. So I kind of struggled for a bit to come up with an answer but finally I just started talking and apparently it turned out to be a pretty good answer.  (Note:  It has to do with compliance with the Word of Wisdom)

We also went to a place called Lavender Hills to set up an appointment with one of their investigators. Lavender Hills happens to be the most dangerous place in the whole mission. It was kind of weird going there but it was a pretty calm day and we went at like 2:00 in the afternoon so it wasn't too bad. Apparently nights and weekends get super sketchy.

On Friday President Wood showed up at our District meeting which was kind of nerve racking at first but it ended up being a very good District meeting about helping members get involved in missionary work. The rest of Friday, Saturday and Sunday Elder Sombke was sick. We think he might have strep throat so we’re going to go to the doctor sometime this week. We were told to just stay in our flat and it got pretty boring for me because he just slept.

So even though this wasn't the most exciting week it was still a good one. We only have two weeks left until transfers and then I'll be getting a new companion. It's exciting and scary. I'll be finished with training and will just be a regular missionary.  I’ll most likely stay in this area though because Elder Sombke will have been here for six months at the end of this transfer. Who knows though, anything could happen. Well, I love you guys and miss you lots. The church is true!

Elder Kupka

Pictures - Finally!

Cape Town

Cape Town at night

With Elder Sombke at Rhode's Memorial

Elder Kupka

The area of Mowbray
Top of Lion's Head with
Elders Sombke and Tennant

Table Mountain

Brother Mike
Trent said, "I don't know what I'd do without him!"