Monday, April 28, 2014

Week 47

Hello everyone,

Last Monday we went to a castle which was more like a glorified fort. I got some cool pictures and a video of a cannon going off.

This week has been a bit slower. All of our Malawian friends had to attend a funeral for someone in the church all week which meant a lot of dropped appointments. We were able to see some new people that we had found last week. The Banda family is a new family and we've taught them the restoration and so far things are going well with them. We also saw a guy named Faison. Who is related to the Bandas. We gave him a baptism date for June and he's doing well.

We were able to see the Gideons on Tuesday and start teaching them about the Plan of Salvation. We only finished the first half and wanted to teach the second half since their grandmother had just passed away but they ended up not being able to see us again.

We've actually met a lot of less active members this week; either by chance or by them wanting to see us. They all have some concerns but we're going to do our best to help them resolve those concerns so that they can start coming back to the only true church. A few of them were offended by people who used to attend the Meadowridge ward but are no longer there so hopefully they'll come back because they will be a great help for the branch we want.

The only other interesting thing this week was that President Wood came to our district meeting. It's always awesome when he comes. He and Sister Wood add a lot of great insights and we had a great lesson about charity.

Friday night was games night again. We got to play soccer and badminton and I shot a basketball for the first time in eight months. The ball was pretty flat though. Sorry that this letter is a bit short but not much happened this week.

Elder Kupka

Monday, April 21, 2014

Week 46

This week has been another great one. Staying with Elder Freitas was a very pleasant surprise. We've been keeping busy and doing what we do best. Teach the gospel.

After emailing the Mileys invited us and the Davisons over for Family Home Evening. Unfortunately we got caught in traffic driving back from Cape Town so we were an hour late and missed the lesson part but we showed up just in time for dinner. We had rice with a beef stew and brownies for dessert. It was a pretty nice evening.

Not much happened today. We had a lot of dropped appointments but we did get to see the Masselas and Elder Wilde said we should re-teach them tithing because Victoria was a bit confused on it in the interview. So we made up a game where we gave each of the girls 10 pieces of paper and then on another piece of paper we wrote our names, the Bishop’s name and her sister’s name. We said that they bought stuff from us and from Viva and they needed to pay tithing. They were able to put the "money" in the right places and with the right amount. They seemed to understand it more this way and I was glad.

Our other great lesson was with the Nyrenda family. We met the father at Ghanizani's and we taught the whole family today. They seemed really interested and we had a great lesson. The only problem for them would be transport. We're going to start pushing to get a Capricorn taxi because the church is providing a taxi for people in Grassy Park already. The work would really explode then.

Today was transfer day and even though no one in our district was getting transferred we still went to the mission home to say goodbye to the people going home. It's always sad to see people leave especially since they come from all over the world. It was nice and we got free lunch. Afterward we went grocery shopping since our funds finally came in and we were running low on food.

Our first lesson today was with Frank and his wife. They had read from the pamphlet we left and they really liked what we were teaching them. I don't know why but when we teach them everything just goes super well. You have to be there to truly understand.

Next was Alexsandro; he's another super awesome guy. He's been reading from the Book of Mormon but his style is to think of a problem and then open to a random page to find an answer. He said that he’s done it more than three times and it's worked perfectly for him each time and that there is no way that's a coincidence. We haven't even taught him where the book came from yet but he already knows it's true. We started reading the introduction with him today and he committed to finish reading it.

Our last lesson was with the Mbombos. It wasn't a scheduled visit because they are very difficult to see between school and work and everything going on in their lives. We were lucky to catch them and had a great lesson about the priesthood with them. Their son, Shaggy, turns 12 soon so it was an especially good lesson for him.

We got our car serviced today. Luckily the other guys were able to drive us back to our flat and take us back so it didn't interrupt our studies and weekly planning. We saw Benjamin, who is Sister Davisons neighbor, and she even came fellowshipping with us for the first time after her baptism. She did a great job and talked the guy into coming to church. He would not have committed without her. The lesson went well even though his wife decided she's not interested. He's prepared for our message and we gave him a baptism date for the end of June. We saw Brother Nyarai too and talked about the Ten Commandments. That's about all that happened for us today. It was a bit of a slow day.

Good Friday is a very big holiday here; just as big as Easter. One of the traditions is that everyone eats pickled fish. I hate fish - even just the smell. The Hendrickses invited all of us for lunch after district meeting. Luckily Sister Hendrickse provided chicken as well as fish so I didn't have to go hungry. It was really good and we sat and talked for a long while.

Afterward we tried to see Alexsandro but he wasn't home. So then we tried to see Will; wasn't home. Sister Noxolo; not home. Finally we decided to see a guy named Joseph who we hadn't seen in weeks. He wasn't there but his wife and two of their friends were so we were talking with them when Joseph walks in the door just coming back from work. We were able to have a lesson on the atonement with all of them. We thought it was fitting since it was Easter. We were able to set a return appointment with Joseph and his wife.

One of their friends named Gift said he felt really good about what we had shared and wanted to see us again. So we said of course and have a return appointment with him as well. We then saw James. He's still doing awesome. We taught the first half of the plan of salvation and he said it really makes sense and brings clarity to everything. He also told us that one of his friends we are teaching had a question about Joseph smith and that James was able to answer his question for him. This guy is powerful and doing our job for us. Our other appointments dropped and everyone was getting extra drunk so we decided to call it a day.

We had a few more dropped appointments today. It’s because Saturdays are always hard but Easter Saturday we weren't expecting much. We were able to see Alexsandro though and he was a bit down because his boss hadn't paid him in four weeks and he's been running low on money and feeling pretty depressed. We don't have money to give but we can share the gospel. We shared the first half of the plan of salvation and by the end of it he was saying that he can't explain what he's feeling but that he's just feeling happy and understanding the purpose of life so much more. I was glad we were able to help and it was a great lesson.

We noticed that one of our tyres was a bit flat so we went to fill it up only to find a bolt in it. So we changed the tyre in the parking lot. It went pretty well except for the fact that we were tightening the bolts for a while before I figured out that we were going the wrong way; last time I trust Elder Freitas.

After we got that all sorted we had a lesson with Sister Davison about missionary work. She's so excited about the gospel and so excited to know the truth and she wants to share it with everyone and we told her that's exactly what she needs to do. At least someone in this ward is excited about missionary work! That's not true there's quite a few but it never hurts to have more. We finished the day with correlation. Nothing too exciting happened there but there's a lot of potential coming up and this ward could have another eight baptisms next month. All we can do is hope, pray and teach.

It was a pretty good Easter Sunday. The program was done by the youth so they had six youth speakers speaking on the Savior, the Atonement and the Resurrection. It was very nice and I enjoyed it. I taught the Gospel Principles lesson this week. The topic was priesthood quorums and auxiliaries; not the most exciting lesson but I got through it.

After church we went to see Gift and when we knocked on his door he wasn't there but his brother named Emmanuel was. We'd actually met Emmanuel before but he didn't know his address so we were never able to see him but now we're teaching him and his brother. Gift got there shortly after us and their other roommate Simon joined us. They all were very interested and so we have even more new people to start teaching. I've seen so many miracles like this. The Lord has a plan for everyone and I'm grateful that I get to be part of it. It was a great Sunday to end another great week.

Elder Kupka

P.S. I sent a bunch of pictures today. I got the package finally and I loved it! The Lego thing was pretty cool! Mom, you said you wanted details about the baptism but there's not much to a baptism to talk about. We sang, she went under the water, she came out of the water, we sang some more, she bore her testimony and we left.

Changing the tyre

Baptism day! 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Week 45

Baptism Day!

Molo choumies (hello friends)

Not much happened after we emailed. Sister Davison had her baptism interview and she passed! She’s all good to go for Saturday. While she was being interviewed we started talking to one of her neighbors named Benjamin. He's an awesome guy from Zimbabwe and we talked a bit about church and sharing the gospel and now he wants us to come teach him. We set an appointment for later this week. Our planners are booked for pretty much every hour of every day. We are insanely busy.

Today we saw a new guy named Innocent and his neighbor Chief. We met Innocent on the street and he wanted us to come by and teach him and when we got there his neighbor joined us. Chief is a funny/strange guy and I think he talked more than the other three of us combined. He had good input but we think he might be a pastor for another church. We made separate return appointments so we can actually get to talk to Innocent.

Next we saw Kama and read from the Book of Mormon with him. Reading English is a bit of a struggle for him but we're working through it and he's getting better already. Next was the Masselas where we talked about baptism to get them ready for Sunday. Everything is good to go and now Brother Massela has decided that he wants to baptize his children and so Elder Freitas and I will be confirming them instead.

We then saw the Van Wyk family. They are a really nice family but kind of crazy and very stuck in their ideas on things like the trinity and think that God doesn't have a body. We tried showing them so many scriptures of God talking to prophets face to face and showing that Jesus and Heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost are separate people. They stuck to one scripture in John that says that no man has seen God so apparently that one verse makes the rest of the Bible false. Our next lesson might be our last if they don't start progressing.

We finished the night at the Gideon's house. The father was there this time and he apparently didn't know we were teaching his wife and daughter and was not interested in our church at all. We basically just bore testimony and Juan joined in and read a few scriptures. I think the father’s heart was softened a bit and I believe he'll come around but it will take some time.

Today we moved out of Pinelands and back into our old boarding. They're not done yet with our bathroom but they should be soon.  Afterwards we went to see Rasta and Mario and we happened to run into them on the street because they had forgotten that we were coming. They let us have a lesson with them. They're a couple of 20 year old kids and friends of Chwayitile and Kama and they don't seem the most interested but we keep trying. We are starting to get their families involved as well and hopefully something comes out of it.

Our next appointment was with Frank and his wife. We met Frank at Ghanizani's house and he invited us to his place. It was one of the best restoration lessons I've ever taught. I don't know what was different and I can't explain it but everything just flowed perfectly and I'm excited to keep teaching them because they have great potential.

After Frank we saw Alexandro; he is so awesome. He's just such an easy person to love and he will make a great member of the church but he needs to start coming to church. He's read from the Book of Mormon and knows it is true; he's just so golden. We finished the night off by reading from the Book of Mormon with Sister Davison. She's doing awesome and is so excited for her baptism.

I was on exchanges with Elder Kivley in their area again. Once again I am so grateful that I'm not in their area. We taught one lesson to a crazy couple who called Jesus a scoundrel for whipping people in the temple and said Moses just was making up his own stuff but they still want to follow the law of Moses today. And they want to be members of our church because we believe in eternal marriage but they don't want to actually go to a church. They were the most confused people I've ever met and they wouldn't let us talk long enough to clear anything up.

We went to Panchos for dinner with the Zone. It might not have been the best idea since it was Friday and the whole street was filled with drunk people but we made it out alive and had some good food.

Today was a great birthday. I didn't do anything special and we were fasting so I didn't even eat anything special. We tried going to some appointments but most of them dropped except for one with Chaona. He's an awesome guy and I hope he gets to go on a mission. After that we were just getting ready for the baptisms.

Nyarai wanted to come so we arranged for Brother Knighton to come. We went to pick him up and when we got back about 15 minutes before the baptism everyone was asking us where Sister Davison was. We had no idea and she wasn't answering her phone. At 6:30, when the baptism was supposed to start, we were about to drive to her house to see what's up but as we were getting in the car we saw them running up to the gate. We let them in and rushed them off to get changed. They had apparently left two hours earlier but one of the taxis waited for 45 minutes to get full. Taxis here are like mini busses and won't go anywhere if they aren't full. But she made it in time and everything went great.

Another great day at church and then the Massela's baptisms afterward was the icing on the cake. We confirmed all six people who were baptized over the weekend at the end. Brother Massela has been less active but he decided two weeks ago that he wants to come back to church and baptize his girls and the Bishop ok'd it. It was awesome and a really great thing to see. I then got to confirm Roxanne and Victoria. Elder Freitas confirmed Roxy and the Bishop confirmed everyone else.

We had some good lessons after church. One was with James about baptism and he was able to realize that the way he was baptized when he was a baby wasn't the same way that Jesus was baptized and now he knows how he needs to be baptized. He's also been reading from the Book of Mormon and knows it is true and is going to be baptized at the end of June. He is going to start coming to church this Sunday.

Again I am so blessed on the mission. It's taking a lot if sifting through people but we have around six people who can be baptized at the end of May and I'm really looking forward to it. We taught 98 lessons this transfer and the vast majority of them were the restoration but we have a great teaching pool now and have lots of potential for the Grassy Park area.

You know how I said I will never hike Table Mountain again? Well, we did it again this week but we went up the back side and it was pretty cool and reminded me a lot of Utah. When we got to the top we were in a cloud and it was freezing and we couldn't see a thing but it made for some cool pictures. I also found out that Elder Freitas and I are staying together this transfer. We're both super excited and it's going to be another good one.

Love you all,

Elder Kupka

Brown Pants Gang

Lunch Trent made

Lake on top of Table Mountain

Elder Kupka

Elder Freitas hiking up Table Mountain

Monday, April 7, 2014

Week 44

Molo Weni!
It's been another amazing week. I've felt so blessed and lucky to be here and I've really learned to rely on the Lord. You'll have to read the rest to find out why!

Today was a hectic day. We started the day off with service for someone in the Mowbray ward. I was excited because I thought it would be someone I knew. Turned out to be a family that moved in after I left and they're now moving to Panorama. It was supposed to take one hour but it ended up taking three. Wasn't my favorite way to spend P-day but they ended up buying us McDonald's so it was a little better.

After that we emailed and then went to Green Market Square and I bought some souvenirs. I'm thinking of sending some stuff back in my birthday box that I don't need so I'll put the souvenirs in there as well. After that we went to Spur for dinner and then to see Sister Davison and teach her the law of tithing. She’s now finished with the lessons and is ready for her baptism interview. Her sister Emilia, who works at a Chinese restaurant, offered us a free meal so we had a second dinner of sushi. Great way to finish P-day.

Not the greatest day. We had some dropped appointments. We did have good lessons with new investigators. One was the Van Wyk family. Brother Van Wyk studied theology for seven years so he thought he knew a lot about Mormons. Like the fact that we can't eat pork or that Joseph Smith was a convict before God called him to be a prophet. Or that the Book of Mormon comes from seven golden plates.

In other words, they didn't actually teach him a whole lot of truths about the church but he still told us that he believes we are the church that is closest to the truth. Hopefully we'll be able to help him see that we are the church with the full truth as we continue seeing them.

We also saw the Gideon family. Juan Gideon is a returned missionary who got back about five weeks ago and is the only member in his family. His mom and sister have been coming to church since he got back and we were finally able to start teaching them. They've both already said that the Book of Mormon is true and they know a lot thanks to Juan so we just need to teach them all the lessons and see if they want to be baptized. They are awesome!

We had Zone training and interviews today, which took up almost the whole day. We had to be there at 11:00 am so in the morning we took the opportunity to change boardings while the plumbers are fixing our bathroom. We live in Pinelands now and it's about 18k's from our area.  That's the only downside to it. We're in a nice flat with a gym that we can use.

The training President Wood gave was from a talk given by Elder Cook in a mission president’s seminar. He covered a wide range of topics that involve missionary work and it was very inspiring. The Zone leaders training was on planning baptisms for the next three months in weekly planning rather than just writing in 0s every week since we don't baptize people every week. That was part of Elder Maynes’ training. That night the only appointment that held was Sister Davison and we went over the baptism interview questions with her and she is now ready for her interview.

We had weekly planning in the morning again. Then we went to Spur for lunch for all you can eat ribs and wings. I only got two plates but it was still worth the R100 it cost. Then we went to the Massela's house to review with Victoria again before her interview. It went well and she's ready. We saw Kama and Chwayitile and talked to them about missionary work. Talked to them about why we do it what made us want to do it. It was a great lesson on a subject I like talking about. We then saw the Gideons again. Great, great lesson - we talked about the Book of Mormon and answered some questions. Juan was there too and that guy is awesome. 

I learn things from what he teaches his family. At the end we challenged them to be baptized and his mom said yes but his sister was a bit more worried. She said she wants to but it's going to be hard. We told her we're willing to help and the date is just a goal and isn't set in stone if she isn't ready. She agreed then and then offered one of the most heartfelt prayers I've ever heard. The spirit was so strong that afterward no one wanted to speak or move. I'm really coming to love the mission a lot and love helping people draw closer to their Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

Today was a great day. Victoria had her interview this morning and she passed and is all ready for her baptism next week. We also had lunch at Brother Knighton’s house today of baked potatoes with homemade ranch and black bean chili. It was really good and was quite different from what we are usually fed.

Afterward, we were supposed to have a lesson with Kama but it dropped so we went to check on some people. Elder Freitas had the idea of visiting a guy named Will. Elder Freitas had been moving the area book last night and Will’s teaching record fell out. He had been taught nine years ago. Since we had some time he suggested that we should go see him. So we get there and we meet him and ask him how his day was. He says not so good because his grandmother had passed away that morning. So we went inside and offered a prayer for him and read from the Book of Mormon to try and help him. He told us that he believes that we were sent by God to see him and that we helped him a ton.

He then asked if the church is still in the same place and we said yes and he told us he's coming to church on Sunday and hopefully the people at his work will understand. This was by far one of the best experiences I've had on the mission. There's no way we could have found this guy any other way. He lives on a road that I've never been on before and even as we were driving down it Elder Freitas was saying that we're never going to find it because that is often the case in a township. But, we found him ten minutes after he got home on a weekend that he happens to be home because he works 12 days on then gets 2 days off.  The Lord knows who is ready for the gospel and we just have to listen.

Speaking of people prepared for the gospel, we also saw Brother Chimonenji and Brother Alexandro. We taught them about prophets and tied it into General Conference tomorrow and touched on a few other things. Alexandro says that he knows what we're saying is true because he can feel it in his heart. I told him that is the spirit testifying to him that it is true. They both promised to come to Conference and they both have a baptism date for the 25th of May and I can't wait.

We had an appointment with a new investigator named Lennox and his wife. It went pretty well and they invited us back so they've got some potential. Our other two appointments today dropped so we stopped by the Elders Quorum President’s house and talked about how we can help the Grassy Park Ward be able to split.

We came up with an idea to have a meeting with all of the would be members and tell them what's going on and what they need to do to make it happen. It should be awesome. We had correlation meeting right after that so the plan is in motion.

After correlation we got to watch Conference at the chapel. It was the Saturday morning session at 6 o’ clock at night. It was great though. Elder Holland did a really good job of starting things off. The first note that I took was "don't beat anyone up" because if someone had been swearing at me and tried to hit me and spit on me and then threw mashed potatoes at the back of my head I don't think I would have reacted the same way that sister missionary did in his story. But now I know how I should react. The rest of the session was good too. The wifi at the chapel is a bit spotty and trying to watch it live caused it to pause here and there which wasn't my favorite but it was teaching me patience.

None of our investigators came to any of the sessions of Conference. That was pretty disappointing. We told them about it for the last two weeks and sent SMS reminders and still got nothing. Those people missed out because I learned a lot and it was great.

There were also some guys from BYU-Idaho in our ward that were doing study abroad in Africa or something; I'm not entirely sure. One of them graduated from Timpview in 1982 and knows the Dalebouts so that was pretty sweet. I was able to apply Elder Uchtdorf’s counsel to be grateful even when we're having trials as the spotty connection continued all day and we didn't even get to finish President Monson’s talk for the Sunday morning session. At least I was able to watch it and enjoy it.

I loved Elder Bednar’s talk. He has always been one of my favorites and it made so much sense the way he was talking about how we all need a load to weigh us down and give us spiritual traction. And that the atonement doesn't lighten the load by taking things out but instead gives us the strength we need to carry it. I loved that talk and Elder Bednar’s tie. I may have been coveting his tie a bit.

I still haven't seen the Sunday afternoon session yet but our ward mission leader said that we could come over to his house and watch it sometime. All in all it was a good week. The baptisms and my birthday and my 10 month click day will be a good way to end the transfer next week.

This morning we hiked Table Mountain. It was incredibly tiring and I don't know if my legs are going to function for the next week. If you guys do come we are definitely taking the cable car up because it is an awesome sight from the top. That's basically all we've done today so far because it took five hours for us to hike up and down and spend some time at the top. I bought a magnet to send home so be looking for that soon.

Love you all!
Elder Kupka