Monday, July 28, 2014

Week 59


I know I say this every week but it has once again been a good week. I'm feeling super blessed. I love the ward here, I love my companion, I love my district and I love my investigators. They say that you have to learn to love the people you serve but they make it super easy to love them. The only thing that I didn't love that happened this week was getting robbed.

It was Wednesday in the middle of the afternoon. We were just coming from a member’s home to see if he could come fellowshipping with us. We have to cross through these fields to get into the township. As we were crossing it these two guys came up to us and asked what time it was so we told them. Then they said something in Afrikaans and we said we don't speak Afrikaans. Then they asked for 10 rand and we said we don't have it because we don't carry our wallets with us. His response was, "I don't want to hurt you." He was a skinny coloured guy that was shorter than both of us so I'm pretty sure he couldn't have hurt either of us, especially since we've been gymming.

Elder Kivley emptied out his pockets to show him that he didn't have his wallet. But he saw the phone and wanted it. I don't know why. It's a 50 rand phone so he can only sell it for something like 20 rand. We gave it to him just because that's what we're supposed to do. It wasn't scary at all and if we had resisted nothing probably would've happened but we just decided to be obedient. It was kind of lame actually. We both walked away laughing.

Our investigators are all doing really well. We gave Princess and Zandie a baptism date this week for November. The only reason it's a bit far away is because they are both under 18 and it's a rule. We also gave a blessing to their non-member grandmother who passed away the next day. Elder Kivley gave the blessing but we both had the feeling that she was closer to seeing her Heavenly Father again than anything else. They're doing alright though they didn't make it to church because of it.

We also met with Asanda. He's super excited about the gospel. He's been reading from the Book of Mormon and he's even talked to his family about him joining the church. The only question that they had was if the church would help with the funeral when he dies (that's a big cultural thing here) and we said of course, so they shouldn't have any objections to him joining. Everyone else is just doing really well. Nothing out of the ordinary happened but things are just heading in the right direction.

One cool thing that happened this week was that after church a women from the Relief Society came up to Elder Kivley and showed him the ward sign up list for lunches after church and it is full for the next three months. Plus we are getting fed three other times during the week this week. I don't know what got into the Relief Society ladies but I'm not complaining.

The church is true and the mission is awesome. There is nowhere else that I'd rather be right now.


Elder Kupka

Monday, July 21, 2014

Week 58

I don't even know where to begin. I really need to start writing down a bit from each day again so I know what to write. All in all it's been a great week and we are having a lot of really great success.

On Monday we had Family Home Evening with the Tshikilas who are a super awesome family. Brother Tshikila is the second counselor in the Bishopric; he's only 24 and super buff. He's been coming to the gym with us in the morning and he's HUGE!

We shared a spiritual thought with his family which was short and simple and then it turned into a super deep discussion; pretty cool. Tuesday was a bit more of a rough day. All of our appointments dropped and we were walking around trying to find things to do but nothing great really came out of it.

Wednesday we had some good lessons. Then we had dinner with the Booyens. They are a super nice couple in the ward. We had home-made Chinese food and then talked for a while. They told us about an elephant park that only costs 450 Rand so we went there today.

Thursday our efforts on Tuesday were made up for. We saw Princess and Zandi who are sisters to a member in the ward. They told us they want to be baptized and that they can't see us on Fridays anymore because they decided that they want to go to seminary. We said that's totally fine. They are both under 18 so they can't be baptized for a few months but they've known the missionaries for seven years and now they want to be baptized.

We also met with Asanda. He's a cool guy that Elder Kivley had found. He's friends with a lot of members in the church. He's 20 years old and is a real sweet guy. We taught him about the Book of Mormon and he likes it a lot. We're going to keep working with him and things should go well.

We had kind of an interesting lesson with a guy named Caleb who ordered a Finding Faith in Christ DVD. We went and watched it with him and then after it was over me and Elder Kivley both said about one sentence each and then he went off on a tangent about how his wife is a prophet and another random pastor from the Transkei came and found him and told him that God wants him to start his own church and he believes him. He seems pretty confused. And we didn't even get a chance to say anything before we had to go to another appointment. We may stop in another time but we're not sure yet.

We finished the night at the Tshibo's house and we were going through scriptures with them and helping them to understand them. It was more of the idea that they just wanted to make sure that they were doing the right thing. Brother Tshibo only has a 4th grade education but since he's joined the church his reading, writing, speaking and understanding have all gone up and he's a pretty intelligent guy. The Spirit really does quickeneth everything.

At the end of the lesson they said that they have a friend that they want us to meet who is their neighbor. They called her over and we had a lesson with her and gave her a pamphlet and committed her to come to church. She didn't come to church but we have another appointment with her next week where we'll get to start teaching her.

Friday we spent all day at Zone Training. President Merrill came for our first interviews with him. We had a great training with him and he has a great vision for the mission. He is a super awesome guy and I'm grateful to have him as my mission president. I was really worried about the new president after President Wood and his great job but President Merrill will do just fine.

After the Zone Training we had a lesson with Yvonne about the ten commandments. It’s usually a very basic lesson but it turned into a deep discussion about repentance and the atonement and it was probably the most powerful ten commandments lesson I've ever had.

Church was great on Sunday. We had four investigators attend and the work is going super well here. Today we went and rode elephants in the morning. I've now seen every member of the Big 5 animals here. Uitenhage has far exceeded my expectations. I wasn't too excited to come here but I was wrong. This place is amazing. I've been super blessed with great areas and great companions. I love being a missionary and I love the work.

Elder Kupka

Monday, July 14, 2014

Week 57

Molo weni,

I thought that would be appropriate because I'm now back in the Eastern Cape! I've been transferred to Uitenhage. It's a small little city only 20 minutes or so outside of Port Elizabeth. My companion is Elder Kivley. He just left Meadowridge last transfer so it's pretty sweet because we know and love each other already. It's going to be a great transfer here.

We work in town but mostly in the township. There is a ward here but it is the smallest ward that I've ever seen; it's a good one though. We have a lot of really awesome members who it seems like I've known them forever and I've only been here a few days. It's because I am now where Elder Wright came from before we were together in Cape Town so I've been hearing all about Uitenhage and the members and investigators for the past six weeks.

It's been a fairly easy transition, probably the easiest one yet. I don't know if it's because I'm getting more experienced on the mission or that I've been prepared to come here. Either way I love it so far. It's also a walking area which I'm pretty pumped about. I've driven every day for the past four and a half months and I was starting to get sick of it. I logged over 7000 K's in my last car.

Transfer weeks are pretty hard to talk about. Monday we cleaned the chapel with the ward for an inspection and then we got transfer news. I spent Tuesday saying good-byes and taking pictures with people. There's never enough time to say all of the goodbyes you want to. I saw a lot of people but I wish I could've seen more before I left.

Wednesday was spent at the mission home, on a plane, then driving to Uitenhage and getting settled in. Thursday we had three dropped appointments but we were able to find a potential investigator and have a lesson with him. It was kind of weird because there were missionaries from another church there at the same time and they had driven three hours or so to see him. Apparently this guy loves to hear the word of God. We have a return appointment with him and hopefully we'll be able to help him realize that not everyone is right.

Friday we had District Meeting but they were doing cleaning checks in Uitenhage so we had to drive out to Kwano Buhle to have it there. We were able to teach a guy named Lloyd. He's a powerful man. He used to drink and smoke but he quit once he started being taught. He's not all the way there yet but he's getting close. We started teaching him the Plan of Salvation and he talked about opposition before we even taught him it and he had a lot of great insights, so it was a pretty good lesson with him. One thing that is kind of lame is that because we are walking we have to be in by sundown. So the days are a little bit shorter and that was it for Friday.

Saturday we taught a lady named Ivonne. She is Lloyd’s cousin and is also preparing for baptism. She just needs to get married first. Hopefully it works out for her. After that we had the opportunity to go to Port Elizabeth and hear Elder Mkabile of the Seventy speak. It was an interesting talk about the family proclamation to the world and he turned it into more of a discussion. Then by the end it turned into a discussion about Labola (Bride Price) and communicating with ancestors, which are part of the Xhosa culture but people were wondering if they need to forsake those traditions as members of the church.

It was a really long discussion and very interesting. I think it will help me to help new members to understand what the church's stand is. It basically came down to if you feel the spirit there it is fine and if you don't then it's not fine. Most everyone said it's not fine. And as for Labola, if it gets in the way of a young couple getting married then it should not stop them. Pretty interesting but not the most exciting of topics. Elder Kivley wasn't feeling too well and it was late so we called it a day. 

Sunday was pretty cool. It was nice to meet the ward but nothing too exciting happened. Elder Kivley still wasn't feeling great so we came home after and he rested while I cooked lunch of mince and carrot curry with pap. He basically slept the whole day and then we did go to one appointment with a member family named the Tshibos. We read from Alma 17 with them and had a good discussion on it.

All in all it was a good week. It seemed like a bit of a longer one but it was good. I'm excited to serve here with Elder Kivley. And we're hitting the gym in the mornings now! There's a place that is 180 rand a month so we wake up every morning at 5:30 to go work out. I'm going to be looking good after this area. That's all for this week.


Elder Kupka

Monday, July 7, 2014

Week 56

So the reign of President Merrill has officially begun and I've been able to meet with him. He doesn't know his way around Cape Town because he's only been here since Monday. He came with the Assistants to the Meadowridge Ward on Sunday and he is such an amazing man. I'm looking forward to the next year with him.

One thing that he has done already though is tell us that we can't have iPods anymore. Some Elders (not me) were using them for the wrong things so he's getting rid of all of them. Luckily an Elder that is going home this week is willing to trade with me. He's giving me his nice camera and $100 for it; it's probably the best I'll get because if I send it home it will get stolen and if I leave it in the mission safe it will get outdated. So that's that.

This week we were able to see Mark and Sarah and their family on Tuesday after most of the family came to church on Sunday. They all loved church and want to come back. We gave Mark a gospel principles book and he has been reading it and Sarah has been reading the Book of Mormon and knows that it's true. Their work schedules are a bit hectic but we can work around that and they should continue to do great. We taught them the Plan of Salvation this week and it made a lot of sense to them and they really liked it.

We also saw Albert again. We left him with the first chapter of the Book of Mormon to read and when we came back he said that he had read it. I hope he was lying because he said that the first chapter obviously corresponds with the book of Genesis in the Bible and that it talks about the creation of the world and such. I really hope he didn't actually read. We read the first chapter with him and at first he was having a hard time understanding it but by the end of the chapter he was understanding it perfectly and making great connections. It was a really nice lesson.

We also started teaching Thokozani and Sister Beulah this week. They came to church on Sunday and then we went to see them. We taught them the Gospel of Jesus Christ lesson. Thokozani has a few things he needs to work through but he has a strong desire to change and become a member. He's got some very promising potential and I hope he makes it.

We got to have some fun this week too. On Thursday we went out to an All You Can Eat pizza place called Panorotti's with some other missionaries. One of them, Elder Pulu, broke the SACTM record for slices eaten with 43. It was super impressive. On Friday we went out to Starlight Cafe to celebrate the 4th of July with 1 pound burgers called the Yankee Doodle Burger. It was pretty nice. Last Monday we went golfing. I didn't actually golf but I took some pictures making it look like I did and kept score for the other guys.

This week is transfers and I'm pretty sad. The APs let it slip who Elder Wright's new companion is going to be so I know that I am leaving but I have no idea where to or with whom. So since yesterday was Fast and Testimony meeting I thought it would be appropriate for me to share my testimony. So far I've shared my testimony countless times during lessons on the mission and I've been able to overcome my bad habit of crying all of the time. But when I got up to tell the Ward members that I'm probably leaving and that I love them all and that I am going to miss them I turned on the water works once more. I didn't get to say nearly everything I wanted to say but it was what I needed to say.

So many people came up and thanked me afterwards. I'm really going to miss this ward. I wasn't too excited to come here when I found out I was but now I don't want to leave. I guess that's why I am leaving. I'm excited for wherever I go to next but I will never forget this place. The whole testimony meeting was a very spiritual one. Every single person who got up just keep bringing the spirit in more and more and even the Bishop and a member of the Stake High Council got up and commented on how amazing it was. President and Sister Merrill bore their testimonies as well and I can't think of a better way for me to leave. Hopefully I'm actually leaving now and the AP's weren't just lying. 

We finished our transfer at Sister Thornes’ house and I love that family. We had planned on sharing something short with them but we ended up talking until 9:30 pm and then we realized that we had to go. It's been a great week, a great transfer, and a great four and a half months in Grassy Park. There's nowhere else in the world I would rather have been and I'll find out tonight where I'm off to next.

Elder Kupka

I have no idea how to golf!

4th of July