Monday, October 28, 2013

More Pictures

Week 20

My companion was dressed in white because he did the baptism. They choose who they want and they both knew him longer. I will be confirming them and giving them the Holy Ghost this Sunday. It was supposed to be last Sunday but we had Ward Conference and the Stake people didn't want to do it. I don't know why. It will happen this week though.

I have been very blessed with my companions. Elder Mahoney is great; I cannot find a flaw in him other than the fact that he's too nice and even that isn't bad. But President's favorite saying is that it is his job to afflict the comforted and comfort the afflicted so I'm worried I'm about to get afflicted. I'm ready for it though. I know how to work in this area and I'm ready to put someone to work if they don't want to. Hopefully it won't happen and who knows - Elder Mahoney might stay. I won't find out until tonight though so you guys will have to wait a week to find out!

This week has been a good one. Last Monday after emailing we went Chinese shopping. There's a ton of Chinese shops here and everything is super cheap. I bought a picture book for 15 rand and it even matches my pillowcase! Ha Ha - it was the only one they had but it's a nice one. I bought a jacket as well. It's the one I'm wearing in most of the pictures I sent you. I hope you appreciate all of the pictures. We went up to a dam and took even more pictures. We then had FHE in Mlungisi with Mama Noxolo and her two sons. They are recent converts but they are already super powerful in the Church. One of the sons is named Siamtanda. He is 17 and blesses the sacrament every week. The other son is the kid I sent a picture of. I have no idea how to even guess at spelling his name.

We watched The Testaments and ate delicious food that she prepared. It was soo good. I thought that I would starve in South Africa but I get overfed more than anything. We have a big Tupperware full of food from the Bomelas in our fridge because the Jaxas were already feeding us last night not to mention we were fed lunch. And one of our recent converts says that I look like I'm losing weight. I love it!

On Wednesday we had Zone Training. We were trying to get our car washed because apparently in Cape Town President told the Elders to wash their car for training and they didn't so they had to walk and take taxis for a week. He didn't say anything to us but we wanted to make sure. We tried several times on Tuesday but all of the places were busy so we hand washed it at 6:30 that night. In the morning we realized we did a terrible job so we went to get it washed somewhere before the training. We left it there and came back 45 minutes later. They were still spraying the same car they had been spraying when we left! It was ridiculous. So we just gave up and went to the training. It ended up not mattering and we traded cars with the Elder in Mthata. Apparently their area is a very rough place to drive and their car was so old that they needed a different one. So we got theirs and the air conditioning doesn't work very well, we got a flat tire the first night driving it, and it makes a funny noise all of the time. We were told that we're going to get a new car soon though; a brand new Etios most likely.  It is a manual drive car so I'm a little bit nervous but hey, I'll come back knowing how to drive stick shift.

The training was about putting on the whole armor of God and being obedient; it was very good. President and Sister Wood are amazing. We also have a senior couple in Queenstown now! Their names are Elder and Sister Thomas. Elder Thomas worked for a mining company. They are from Utah but they lived in Joburg for 16 years as well as in Lima, Peru and Chile. They are super nice and have made us cookies and gave Elder Mahoney his favorite hair cut he's ever had. I'm very grateful for them and very excited for these next few months with them. They will be working with us during the week but they will go to Sada one day a week and on Sundays to help the ward there. They are so awesome.

We've taken them fellowshipping with us twice already. We took them to see Daryl and Lianet this week. They talked for a while and then at the end of the lesson Elder Thomas asked Daryl who his Bishop was back in Joburg. He said it was Bishop Decock and he couldn't remember the guy before him. Elder Thomas looked at him and said, "It was me." Daryl was so surprised and he let out a little gasp. It was the craziest thing. I really think the Thomas' were sent here to help him. He promised he would come to church this week but he ended up not because he couldn't find his church pants until 10:00 am. Lamest excuse I have ever heard. Apparently the last time he came to church he was wearing jeans anyway. I told him that he still could have come after that but he's like we missed sacrament meeting and that's the most important part. I told him there's still two more hours that will help you. It's frustrating.

We're going to take the Thomas' with us every time we see him now. Maybe this is the extra push he needs to come back to church and bring his fiance who is investigating. Thursday was pretty uneventful. On Friday we helped Sister Mkabile move back into her house and she was the one we helped move out when I first got here. We were also on exchanges so I was biking in Mlungisi with Elder Black. In the POURING rain. Luckily the Thomas' were coming with us that night so we just had to bike back to the flat and meet with them.

We then went to a less active member’s house and I shared an FHE lesson with her centered around Alma 50. She said that it really helped and that she will come to church. I didn't see her but she might've been there. It was really cool to hear how much it helped her and she was even feeling sick when we started but she was feeling better by the end because the spirit was so strong. The Thomas' were very impressed with the lesson as well. This is their first mission and they're still not exactly sure what they are doing. They'll be great though.

Nothing else crazy happened this week. We finished the transfer strong and taught 30 lessons this week which gave us a grand total of 136 for the transfer. I've loved these last six weeks and the worst part was being stressed out because we had too many people to see and were often times running late. It all worked out for the best though. I'm loving the mission and the time is flying by. I can't believe it. I miss you all and love you. Until next week.

Elder Kupka


Elder Mahoney

Pictures at the dam

Gang signs?

Jielafujafne (not his real name)
Trent is eating vegetables?

Elder Obonye

Paitience and Apiwe Baptism
Nice hat!
    He's licking Trent's head?   

Elder Neo


It's been a loooong day!
Stormer's Jersey

Monday, October 21, 2013

Week 19

I cannot believe how fast the time has gone by. It's been four months and one week. It hasn't always been easy but it's been worth it. I got your postal letters last week but I don't know how I'm going to send the ward members thank you postcards from here. In Cape Town there were cool postcards everywhere but here in Queenstown I haven't seen anything. I'll keep looking though.

I'm jealous that you got to go to California. The Newport Beach temple probably isn't smaller than the Jo-burg one. They had two session rooms but they barely fit the 22 Elders and President and Sister Reber. They had to bring in folding chairs. Hopefully they get more temples in Africa. The church is growing very quickly here. Cape Town should be eligible for a temple by the end of next year because it takes five Stakes to have enough membership to have a Temple.

Last Monday we played rugby and soccer with an investigator from Mlungisi and a man named Sivu, who we are teaching. It was a lot of fun and I'm beginning to really enjoy rugby a lot. I even bought a Stormers jersey this week. The Stormers are Cape Town's rugby team. Sister Chippo is a member in our ward who drives up to Jo-burg to get jersey rejects and then sells them for 150 rand. I haven't been able to find anything wrong with my jersey yet.

We also had an FHE lesson with Daryl and Lianet. Daryl is less active and Lianet is taking the lessons. Daryl strongly believes in the church and they sound so committed when we teach them. We mentioned senior couple missionaries and she said, "Oh, that will probably be me and Daryl one day!" Lianet believes everything we tell her. She is from Cuba but her Dad moved here when she was young. They haven't come to church since I've been here. This last Sunday Lianet woke up and wanted to come but couldn't get Daryl out of bed. I believe Daryl will eventually come back and Lianet will join the Church but it will take some time. Probably even after I leave. Plus she can't get baptized as long as they're living together unmarried and their wedding isn't until next December.

Tuesday was a very busy day. We were preparing for the baptisms and we were teaching lessons and trying to find out if Apiwe would be baptized and we still had correlation meeting that night. It was very hectic but we were able to get everything done. To find out about Apiwe we went to her Aunt who had told us she would talk to Apiwe's father. When we went she told us she had been too busy to talk to him but we had to know that night before correlation meeting if Apiwe would be baptized. So Sister Bomela called Apiwe's Mom. They talked in Xhosa for a while as we sat there not having a clue what was happening. When she hung up Sister Bomela said that Apiwe's mom had convinced her husband to let Apiwe be baptized. It was a complete turn around and made us so happy.
Our fasting and our prayers really worked and his heart was softened. 

On Wednesday it was another full day of appointments. And in the morning we did service at Brother Qina's farm. He told us we would be washing pigs but it turned out that was just a joke. We chopped up trees that he had cut down. Then this super tan Afrikaner showed up with a chainsaw. He was so tan he looked like a coloured. We were pretty useless after that but we did help pull down a tree that was in between his power line and fence. The guy used his chainsaw and we used a rope so it wouldn't destroy anything. It was pretty fun chopping up the trees. I'll have to get the pictures from the other Elders sometime.

We also visited a member who takes care of an autistic boy. That kid is a handful! He ran into the room wearing nothing but a shirt and then he would scream and cry the whole time and smack the lady in the face. Elder Mahoney gave him some pass along cards that had Jesus on it because he really likes Jesus. That would make him happy for a while and then he would tear it in half and scream until he got a new one. Sister Mbonsi is the most patient woman I have ever met. If he ever got super wild we would sing I Am a Child of God and he would immediately calm down. I hope it all works out for her.

On Saturday we went out to Sada with all of the missionaries to play soccer with the ward for an activity. It was very fun. I'm starting to appreciate soccer but it’s still not my favorite sport. The rest of the day was spent cleaning the baptismal font and giving some more lessons. It also started raining Saturday night and still hasn't stopped. Which is crazy because it has rained only once in the previous five months. Apparently it means that summer is coming.

Sunday was hectic as we were running around getting things ready for the baptisms.  I lost my scriptures twice but luckily people know they're mine and I was able to get them back. We took pictures after church and then we had the baptisms. There were four people in all. It was such a spiritual experience. I can't wait for the next one. The ward only does baptisms on the third Sunday of each month. Sivu is preparing to be baptized this month and hopefully we'll get some more investigators to commit. After church we met with Daryl and Lianet again. We then had three appointments drop and all of our back-ups didn't work out either. So we went and had a short lesson with the Mxumas family since they couldn't make it to Church because of the rain. We then went to the Ctatas and gave their Mom a blessing because she's been sick for a week. The night turned out for the best.

I'm loving my mission and I love Queenstown. Next week is transfers again already and Elder Mahoney is probably leaving. He's been such a great companion and I will miss him for sure. Love you all.

Sala Kakuhle (stay well)
Elder Kupka

This is Apiwe, her Mom, Aunt and Yamkela Mkanda. Yamkela is the Mayor's daughter.
The Mayor of Queenstown teaches the gospel principles class.

 Elder Mahoney, Paitience, Apiwe, and Me

Everyone who got baptized today!

The Mcanda family who Paitience stays with


Paitience and Apiwe

Elder Obonye and two girls in our ward

Monday, October 14, 2013

Week 18

California sounds very nice, Mom, I hope you have fun. I'm very jealous that you get to go to the Newport Temple. I really wish there was a temple in our mission. There should be one soon. It depends on the stakes and Cape Town is about to split into two. They were four priesthood holders short. East London is about to split into three stakes and Port Elizabeth is about to become a stake. Things are very exciting in South Africa and I'm very glad to be a part of it. 

To answer your question, I don't really know when I decided to go on a mission. It always just seemed like what I was supposed to do. Doing mission prep with Brother Dahl and in college and hearing other people's stories really helped but I always just thought I was going on a mission. I realized when I first got here how shy I really was. I was struggling to teach and talk to people the first couple of weeks. I'm still not perfect but I think I'm a lot more outgoing now. Back home I was outgoing with people I knew but strangers I struggled to talk to. Now I'm starting conversations with random people everywhere and I've learned that I can be outgoing as well. 

I wish I had taken your advice of preparing more before the mission. I always just thought I would learn everything in the MTC but that didn't happen. The MTC went by super fast and there's no way I could've learned everything then. Even now I'm still learning more and more so I really wish I had prepared more. I guess I should listen to you more often. 

This week has been a very good one and my favorite on the mission so far; we taught 29 lessons. Stats don't really matter though and a lot of those were preparing Patience and Apiwe for their baptisms. We had some very good lessons with both of them though and they both passed their baptismal interviews. The only problem with Apiwe is that her dad is trying to stop her from being baptized. She's 18 and he gave her permission to be taught at her aunt's house in town but now that it's actually happening he's trying to stop it. We asked President what we should do and he told us that we should build a relationship with the father before we baptize her. I think he's afraid of her being kicked out of the house or something. She said that she won't be kicked out and her Dad tries to stop her from doing everything but once she does it he doesn't say anything about it. We've been praying and fasting for her and we're trying to figure out what to do. I really hope she gets baptized because she will be crushed if she isn't. She is so ready and she understands everything so well. I hope it works out. 

Last Monday we played soccer again. The Mlungisi Elders have an investigator who wants to teach the ten of us how to play rugby so that should be fun. We had a lesson with a man named Richard one night this last week. He is a recent convert and we've been teaching his son. He's been very stressed lately because his son hadn't come home and his wife was stressing out. So we walked with him for an hour to pick up his son. It was nice being able to talk with him and when we got back he seemed so much less stressed so I was very happy to help him out. 

We had Family Home Evening with a member family named the Volis and the father is on the stake high council. They are a super awesome family. We had spaghetti but the sauce wasn't quite the same. The next day we were supposed to come back for fudge that they were making. When we got there they had eaten it all so they gave us brownies with biscuit cookies inside. It was so good! Then they gave us fudge the next day because they felt bad about the day before. 

I got a haircut this week as you can probably see from the pictures I sent. Elder Obonye did it. I kind of miss my hair but it's nice in the heat here. It has been 100 degrees. I'm kind of writing randomly this week and I'm sorry but I'm just writing things as I remember them. We've been working with a less active member and she told us that she had an addiction to snuff and her family is super un-supportive. So we met with her and brought a member who had also struggled with drugs. He gave her a lot of good ideas and she really wants to overcome it and her goal is to go to the temple one day. I gave her a blessing as well. We haven't been able to follow up yet but I hope she is doing well. 

I've given two blessings this week and done the anointing on two others. It's crazy that I went from never giving a blessing to giving three in a week. The last thing that I'll share was our super awesome lesson last night. It was with an investigator named Thembisa and her daughter Anelisa. They've been taught all of the lessons but still won't accept a baptismal date. They were a referral from a member family. So we took Brother and Sister Bovana last night and we had a super powerful lesson on baptism that lasted for over an hour. The spirit was so strong and the Bovanas bore super powerful testimonies to her. She still hasn't accepted a date but I feel like she is much closer now than she was before. It was a very good finish to an awesome week. 

I cannot wait for next Sunday for the baptisms. I really hope Apiwe's father comes around and that we can baptize her. I'm loving the mission and I'm loving Queenstown. I swear I just got here but today is the start of week five. I only have two weeks left with Elder Mahoney and it makes me very sad because he is such a great companion. Things are going very well here and I'm so grateful to be a part of it. 

Love you all.  Sala Kakuhle (stay well). 
Elder Kupka

Monday, October 7, 2013

Week 17

Molo, unjanie?   That means, “hello, how are you” in Xhosa.

I cannot wait for the 20th. Apiwe is so ready for baptism and I'm so excited for her. Another girl named Patience is also going to be baptized that day. They both have members in their families and that's how they were introduced so the people here are really listening to the Prophets about getting involved. Our three best investigators are living with member families. The third is a guy named Sivu who we just started teaching. He's a really cool guy who is going to be baptized on November 17th. The Ward only does baptisms on the 3rd Sunday of each month for some reason.

Conference was awesome. I loved it so much. I missed most of the first session and half of the Priesthood session because the feed kept cutting out. So during the Priesthood session we went and got a member’s laptop and watched it streaming through the internet. It worked a lot better but we did miss a few parts because the internet would stop working for a couple of minutes. It didn't happen too often though which was nice.

The Sunday morning session was so powerful. I loved all of the talks; especially S. Gifford Nielson. He was just so enthusiastic as he talked about missionary work. I really enjoyed his talk. President Eyring's talk was great too. They were all so good. It was kind of strange because most of the leaders of the Ward left to watch Conference in their homes and put me and my companion in charge. We had the keys to everything and knew the password to the computer. When the internet stopped working we'd go up and make it look like we were doing something to fix the internet to appease the members but we were really just waiting for the internet to fix itself. Because we were left in charge we might have stayed up until midnight to watch the last session of Conference with the other six missionaries. Whoops. It was nice though.

I can't believe how many members and missionaries there are right now! The church is growing so much. I remember when they announced we were at 13 million members. I also noticed that every single prayer mentioned the missionaries which made me feel good. Elder Jones is an AP here. He's a cool guy. The AP's were part of my last Zone so I saw him a lot. He's actually coming to Queenstown today to do exchanges with the Zone Leaders. I have not gotten the letter you mailed yet but that was also Elder Jones’ fault. When we had Zone Conference the AP's were supposed to bring our post with them instead of mailing it out. Instead they left it in Port Elizabeth. We should be getting it today though.

This week has been another very good one. There is so much teaching going on here. I love it. A very cool thing that happened last month after we emailed is we went to a spur (note: restaurant?) because on Mondays they have buy one get one free burgers. So it's a very common spot for missionaries to go on Mondays. As we were about to pay the bill the waitress told us that the lady at the table next to us is going to pay for all of our meals. There were eight missionaries and we each got a burger deal per companionship. So it cost her 200 rand to pay for us. We went and talked to her and asked her why she did it and she said because we are doing a very awesome thing. She isn't a member but had met with the missionaries before and didn't want to meet with any of us again but she still thought we were doing a very awesome thing. It was so nice of her. I just wish we could have talked to her more.

Nothing major really happened this week. We did a lot of teaching. I bought some cool ties when I went on exchanges with Elder Obonye on Friday. He says I'm a really good teacher. I've definitely become much better at teaching here because I've had a lot more practice than in Cape Town. I really can't think of any interesting things that happened this week. We were very busy with conference and trying to invite everyone we could to that. I'm sorry this email is short but I did send a lot of pictures so I hope that makes up for it. I love the work here in QT and I could not have asked for a better companion. I get along with all of the missionaries who are here. I have no complaints whatsoever right now. Which makes me nervous for next transfer because President Wood likes to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted. I get the feeling I'll get afflicted but I'll make the most of whatever happens.

Until next week. I love you all -
Elder Kupka

PS - I just thought of something cool that I had forgotten about. I gave my first blessing Saturday night after Conference. I'd done the anointing before but never the sealing. It was a member’s daughter and she had a very Xhosa name. I struggled through and I hope the Lord understands. There were clicks and letters thrown together in ways that I've never seen before. The blessing itself turned out to be very nice. I was a little nervous at first but once things got going it came naturally. 

The Heritage dinner

Elder Mahoney
Service Day - Painting

Their flat