Monday, December 29, 2014

Week 81


This week hasn't been the most eventful of weeks since we weren't allowed to do much on Christmas Eve or Christmas.

On Tuesday we had Zone Conference and it was really good. We talked about faith, covenants, and goal making. It was really cool and it made me want to work really hard for these last five and half months; I just want to keep working really hard.

After Zone Conference we went and picked up the Santa suit that we used the next day and we had two appointments drop. On Christmas Eve we went to the Brummer’s house in the morning with the Borehams. I showed up a bit later in the Santa suit and when I walked in the first thing out of all the kids’ mouths were "it's Elder!" They were too smart and realized that I wasn't actually Father Christmas. Then the rest of the day after I had changed they kept telling me all of the reasons why I wasn't Santa.

In the afternoon Bishop Powrie had asked us to attend a funeral for a member who had passed away that no one had even known was living in the ward boundaries. There weren't very many people there but we went and tried to help out as much as we could which wasn't much.

After that we went to the other Elders' boarding and spent the rest of the day with the Zone Leaders and the Durbanville Elders. On Christmas we woke up and didn't really know what to do with ourselves. We weren't going to the Leroux's house until 2:00 so we had to spend the morning in the boarding and it was so boring. I'm glad that we're usually busy and always have stuff to do.

Once we got to the Leroux's place though we had a great time. They had made a ton of food. We started with a nice lamb curry which they gave me two plates of and then they brought out all of the meat and potato salad. There was lamb, chicken, roast, gammon, and cow tongue. The cow tongue was surprisingly good; I sent a picture of me licking it.

We talked with the Leroux family for a while and then we went to the Herbert's place to Skype. It was great to see you guys and all of the snow! Sister Herbert said that you guys look like a really happy family and Mom, she thought that you were my sister. I do realize that I talk differently now. Lots of people when I first meet them think that I'm South African. It's going to be weird when I get home.

On Friday we had lots of appointments drop, unfortunately, but we were able to have two really good lessons. One was with Brother Charles who is a recent convert. We're reviewing the lessons with him and he's a really smart guy and knows his stuff. He said that he really likes the way that I teach which made me feel pretty good.

We also had an appointment with Gammu and her friends and family; there are six of them now. We had a really good lesson on the Book of Mormon and they all committed to read and pray about it. Some of them are going back to Zimbabwe and some are going to visit and then come back here so when things become less hectic I think that they will be ready to accept the gospel.

Saturday was really nice. We met with a guy named Emmanuel and his wife Jolene. They are from Zimbabwe and were a referral from Durbanville. Emmanuel has a friend who is serving a mission in the States right now and he has visited the church five times before. We had a really good lesson with him and his wife and they were asking really good questions and thanking us because they said that they are both God-fearing people but that they need some revitalization. They are super powerful and I'm very excited to continue teaching them.

We also had a lesson with Lorenzo and Meroldene. Lorenzo is paralyzed because he was accidentally shot when someone was trying to shoot someone else and Meroldene is his sister. They are both very enthused with the gospel. Lorenzo is getting a new wheel chair next month and then he can come to church. Meroldene came yesterday and I think she really liked it. She even added some really good insights during the gospel principles class.

All in all it was a really good week. I'm loving Panorama and I’m working hard until the end.

Elder Kupka

Elder Santa and his sleigh

Christmas lunch with Elder Dryer

Trent's tongue touching a cow tongue - blech!?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Week 80


This week has been good but kind of weird at the same time. I'm liking Panorama quite a bit and we are keeping pretty busy which is nice.

On Wednesday we went to do service for an older woman in the ward. We put up a new laundry drying line for her. After we were done she asked us if we could take some Liahonas (Church magazine) to a lady she visit teaches - so we did. The lady is a bit older and when we got there she was waiting at the gate and when we gave her the Liahonas she told us how her arm is swollen and she doesn't know why. So we asked if we could give her a blessing. She agreed but she wouldn't let us in the gate so we did it though the gate and it was really weird because her house is on a busy street.

On Sunday we were able to perform a graveside prayer for a member whose mother had passed away a few months ago. Her mother and sister are buried in the same grave but her sister had passed away a while ago. So Elder Dryer offered the prayer for her mother and I offered it for the sister. I don't think I've ever seen a graveside prayer before so this was quite the new experience for me.

I had read about it in the white hand book before and I was always so curious about it and then I got do it firsthand. It was a humbling experience. I was really nervous leading up to it but as soon as I opened the prayer I had this really calm feeling come over me and I said some good things, I think. Elder Dryer felt the same way too.

We talked about how we had just performed an ordinance for someone who is literally in the spirit world right then and they were probably watching us too. I can't put all of my emotions into words but it was a really, really spiritual experience.

We have a few investigators and they are all doing well. Apparently most of our investigators are gone for the holidays, which is ok because this week we have Zone Conference on Tuesday and then on Christmas Eve we are only supposed to go to places where we are invited. I was asked to dress up as Father Christmas and go to a member’s home, who has 12 foster kids, to give them presents. I'm really excited for that.

There's a family here whose father was falsely accused of a crime and put into prison. So we are going to go visit his family and try to cheer them up; I hope it works.

We are busy but not too busy with investigators and such. December is a very strange time for missionary work but it's almost over and then we can get back to work. Sunday was a much less busy one than last week and the Relief Society sisters gave us a huge Christmas present. I am so grateful for that and it was so nice of them. I think that I am really going to enjoy spending my last few months here. Sorry it's another short email but things are hectic because of Christmas.

Elder Kupka

A cool picture Elder Dryer took

Christmas present from the Relief Society

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 79

Hello again,

This has been a great week and I am liking the new area already, but I don't have much to talk about this week.

Last Monday we played a lot of sports and then that night I cooked dinner for the Xangati family. There ended up being 15 people there. Luckily it all worked out and everyone got a good portion. I made chicken spaghetti and it was the first time I've ever cooked for so many people. I respect Grandma Eustice so much more now for making us dinner every Sunday. Shout out to her - I love her and miss her a lot!

Tuesday was spent saying good-byes to so many great people in Uitenhage. I shed a lot of tears. I was really sad to leave but Cape Town is awesome. It is such a beautiful city and there's so much to do. But there are seriously too many people here. I was getting anxiety the first day because I am not used to all of these people.

Panorama is a really nice area and has a super good ward. This Saturday we had the ward Christmas party. The primary did a program and then we ate some food and there was a Santa Claus. It was nice and I got to meet a lot of the ward.

One funny thing is that there was a family that I helped move a long time ago when I first got to Grassy Park. They moved from Mowbray to Panorama and now he's the ward mission leader so I'm going to be seeing a lot more of him but we didn't recognize each other at first.

Sunday was a pretty crazy day. We have two wards that meet in the same chapel. Ours starts at 9:00 am but it starts with Priesthood and then works backwards. Elder Dryer had been asked to teach priesthood and he also ended up saying the opening prayer and I lead the music. Then the second hour was gospel principles where I taught the lesson.

When we got to sacrament meeting they asked Elder Dryer and I to bless the sacrament. And if that wasn't enough we had gotten a phone call on Friday telling us that we would each be giving 10 minute talks. As I was preparing to bless the sacrament they told me that I would be the final speaker. So by the time it was my turn I had 25 minutes to fill up, which I did.

My talk was on sharing the gospel so it was super easy. But I did a really good job and surprised myself even. I guess it was cool to see how much I've grown on the mission. I wasn't the least bit nervous. Usually  my knees shake behind the pulpit but this time I was completely calm and normal. I was pretty happy with myself.

Otherwise things are good. I'm still learning the area and the people and my companion; just a bunch of different adjustments going on. I'll have more to write about next week. The first few weeks in a new area are always weird. Good thing I'll be transferred to the Provo, Utah home mission after this!

I love you all,
Elder Kupka

The Thsibo family

The Frans family with their neighbors

Elder Dryer

Monday, December 8, 2014

Week 78

Mfundo - our awesome investigator who will be baptized next month

Yvonne and her family and Busi who will be baptized next month

Motlalepula, Ketumetsi and Mompo - they will be baptized
when Despatch becomes part of the Kwamagxaki ward
Nwabisa - another great investigator who
will also be baptized next month

Good Morning!

Well, I was right, this was my last week in Uitenhage. I'm being transferred to the Panorama ward. My new companion is Elder Dryer from Utah and he arrived in Elder Decebal-Cuza's transfer but that's about all I know about him but I'm pretty excited.

The area is in Cape Town in the Bellville stake. I'm stepping down from District Leader also. President Merril's letter told me that this will be my last area and that seems super crazy. I feel old on the mission but to think that I'm on my last area is pretty crazy. It does mean that I'm going to have two 6 month areas in a row. I just feel good right now and there's no other way to explain it. I've got six months left to work hard and keep enjoying myself.

This last week has been a pretty a great week too. We've been super busy and had a lot of held appointments. We taught 30 lessons so there's no way I could talk about all of them. I even started saying good-byes. It was a bit risky because anything can happen but I couldn't take the chance and not. I got up and bore my testimony on Sunday and I will truly miss the Uitenhage ward. It has been an awesome six months and there are so many great people that I will miss. I guess I'll just highlight a few things.

On Monday we had a lesson with the Frans family and their neighbors who are interested in the gospel. We started re-teaching Siphosethu the lessons and having her neighbor’s daughter join in as well. Then this week the husband is coming back and Elder Decebal-Cuza and Elder Arthur(the Elder replacing me) will start teaching them.

District Meeting on Friday was super cool. I taught the Three Pillars of Eternity (The Creation, The Fall, and The Atonement) and it was a pretty good district meeting. Then afterwards our first appointment was with the Xangatis. We had planned on teaching about prayer and scripture study because half of them had heard it and the other half hadn't. When we got there it was only Arthur and Valentine and they were the ones that had already heard it before. So, I asked them if they have any questions about anything. Their questions turned out to be about the creation, the fall, and the atonement. So we read 2 Nephi 2 with them and explained it; I guess I really was an inspired district leader.

Saturday we got to see Asanda. It was good to be able to teach him again after he's been locked in his school for so long. He is such a sweet guy and I'm so happy that I got to teach him. We had a good lesson on the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Then Sunday was great as well. Sister Hendricks was unable to make it to church because she had kidney problems and couldn't even walk. So that was a pretty good reason. She'll be confirmed this week with Siphosethu. Then I bore my testimony in Sacrament meeting. It was hard to say good-bye to so many great people. Sinethemba and Asanda got up and bore their testimonies and gave me a shout out too which was super cool.

After church we had a decent day. We taught two lessons; one with Nwabisa and one with Benjamin. Nwabisa was very sad to hear that I was leaving because "I won't be able to see her get baptized." It is sad that I won't see it but to hear her say that she is really going to be baptized made me so happy. Then with Benjamin we taught the gospel of Jesus Christ. We answered his questions about baptism and then I committed him to be baptized and he said yes. I'm so happy that I was able to finish strong in this area. I thought it would be hard to stay six months somewhere but it's been pretty easy. We'll see if Panorama will be the same but I'm sure it will be. Well, that's it for me. I'm happy, I'm healthy and I'm excited.


Elder Kupka

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 77

Hello again,

This week was good. Last Monday we played sports and had a really good time. We went to the Frans’ house that evening but Sister Frans had been too busy to cook dinner for us like she had planned so she gave us a small snack and invited us back during the week.

Tuesday was a pretty great day. We had some good lessons but we ended it with a big family home evening lesson that we set up. We had the Xangatis, Princess and Zandy, and Claudia, Phelicia, and Christina. So we showed them what a family home evening is like.

We started with an activity where someone goes up to the front and everyone has to say what they like about that person. It was super cool but then after everyone was finished I put a picture of Jesus Christ up and we said what we love about Him. I had created a giant scripture chain about Jesus Christ and we read that. It was super powerful and you could feel the spirit so strongly when everyone was saying what they like about the Savior.

Wednesday-Friday were all very busy days. We taught a lot of lessons but nothing too spectacular happened. This weekend there was a carnival here in Uitenhage so it made things kind of difficult. We were able to see Sister Hendricks and make sure everything is still set for her baptism on Sunday and then we also saw the Mooi family.

Sister Mooi is less active but her son is very active so we went and got to know her and had a really nice lesson about commitment to the Lord. She's a really sweet lady and we're going to keep working with her and hopefully help her out.

After that things were hard. No one was home because everyone was at the carnival; I have never seen the area so empty. So we tried going to the carnival to do some contacting there and it wasn't too successful. It was too loud and there were way too many people so we didn't have a lot of success.

We finished the evening with dinner at the Frans' house as well as making sure everything was ready for Siphosetu to be baptized. Stats wise it was a hard day but we were able to see both of our “baptizees” and do the final preparations. Plus we were able to have a delicious dinner from Mama Frans. She has seriously been like a second mother to me here. We laugh so much, we have super spiritual lessons, her sons are amazing members and now Siphosethu will be another great member. I love the Frans family.

Sunday was a great day, of course, thanks to the baptisms. It's always hectic when you have to be in charge of gospel principles plus get everything ready for the baptism but it all worked out. The baptism was great and I got to baptize Sister Hendricks. She was a bit nervous in the water but it went off without a hitch. She is such a sweet woman. She bore her testimony and said how grateful she is for the ward, for the missionaries and for the Lord to allow her to be baptized "before she dies". It was a lovely service.

Afterwards we had a bit of a rough day but it ended with a great lesson with the Tshibo family. We read the parable of the ten virgins with them and then we had a lesson with the Xangatis about temples. It was a great ending to a great week. Some exciting news is that I asked President if I was staying or leaving Uitenhage and he told me that I am leaving. So I'll find out next week where I am going to go and let ya'll know.

Elder Kupka


Sister Hendricks