Monday, September 29, 2014

Tenth Week - September 29, 2014

Well, another week has passed. 

This week was good, every week just gets better and better.  Since I can't speak Spanish, well, I just obviously try my best, and I just try to talk to the little kids and love them.  Hard to describe it in words what it's like, but to see the smile I put on their faces from playing with them is the best feeling in the world!  I'm starting to love these people, and there's nothing I want more than for them to accept our message.  I have come to the conclusion, if you can serve a faithful mission, you can do absolutely anything in life!
 (Elder Copeland and his companions hiked a mountain on their Preparation Day.)
(Overlooking Granada--Elder Copeland's area is on the left.)
Well, unfortunately I don't have much time today.  But Mom, remember that picture of that fish?  Yeah, I ate two of them.  We were at a member's house on Saturday, and she was cooking these fish called Mojarra or something.  She put two on a plate and gave it to me.  I smiled and said, "Thank you," but stared at these things for a solid five minutes.  Scariest things I have ever seen.  I was staring those things right in the eyes, they were glaring right back at me.  I wish I had my camera to take a picture of them.  But anyways, I ate them.  They weren't too bad other than you hear scrunching in every bite--maybe from the bones, but I don't know what it was.  Ate the scales and everything, that was different, but that lady and their family have absolutely nothing and they were willing to give us these, so I gladly ate them.
(Mojarra--the type of fish Elder Copeland ate.)

Here in Nicaragua, there's no such thing as privacy... There was a lady at church just feeding her baby like it was nothing.  But it's everywhere.  On Wednesday, I went to Managua with my companion because he had a zone leader meeting, so I worked with some missionaries in Managua.  It was fun!  I ate something called cow tongue, wasn't too bad, just really squishy.  I ate McDonalds for breakfast.  That was AMAZING!

Sunday we had four investigators at church.  I can't describe how hard we worked and how much we walked to get them to come to church with us.  Also, my American companion, Elder Bennett who's only been out six weeks longer than me, he and I had to go on exchanges while our trainer went to a baptism interview.  We got a baptism date for this lady.  She's 24 and her husband is in prison for seven years.. He must have done something terrible cause there's no rules here.  You can do whatever you want, however you want. 

Crazy to think I've been in Nicaragua for a month now!  Time flies.  I'll be done before I know it.  How amazing will that day be?  I can only imagine what it will be like, knowing what I just accomplished. 

A couple days ago we were just in our room right after lunch and it was blazing in our room.  I decided to see how hot the tin roof was, so I touched it with my knuckle and it like burnt me!  It was so freaking hot!  In the houses during the days it's like an oven.  This first month it feels like I have walked the pioneer trail like three times already.

Well, I don't have much time.  Thanks everyone for the support.  This is the best work in the world.  No chance a person can do it according to their own talents Alma 26:12.  One thing that I realized.  We use the Bible soooo much here, and I don't know much about it.  I have a ton to learn.  But a scripture I saw I really liked was Philippians 4:13.

Love you all,

Elder Copeland

Monday, September 22, 2014

Ninth Week - September 22, 2014

Two months down.  

Days go by slow, but weeks go by way fast!  Feels like just yesterday I was getting dropped off at the airport, time goes by fast, and before I know it, it'll be July 2016. 

This week has been a lot better, but it has been so freaking hot!  It doesn't really bug me anymore, but it's crazy and by the end of the day, my garments are like stuck to me from sweating so much all day, but it's good. 

This week we finally got two investigators to church!  Eleven said they would come but only two ended up coming.  We walk to all their houses before church to try and get them, but they won't or aren't home, but we're doing our part.  They just need to accept the gospel.  And we also got 13 baptism dates this past week which is good!  Hopefully they all stay with their commitment.  One of the investigators that came to church is 18.  His name is Erik.  He's a good guy and very interested.  I get along well with him, with my little Spanish.  I have seen quite a few BYU shirts here.  A couple days ago, I saw a kid wearing a BYU Jimmer jersey, so I went and talked to him about it for a bit.  I told him if he wants to wear that jersey, he had to be baptized; he giggled.  And I haven't seen any Ute apparel here, thank goodness.  

 (Click on the link above to see the role of missionaries in the church and what makes the work so important for Elder Copeland as well as the other 85,000 missionaries presently serving throughout the world.)

One thing here that is like impossible is the direction of people's houses.  They don't have addresses here.  They have main street names and you just go off that.  For example, if we contact someone and ask where they live, they will say something like 6 calles lago de cemeterio 8 cuadras norte casa color celeste.  Something like that, it's insane.  My companion has been here 18 months, and he still has a hard time with it.  Some of the names here are so weird, and I have no idea what they are.  It's hard to understand some people cause they have only a couple teeth... They need some dentist work here.  I'll do it in a couple years for them.  

One thing that I don't like here is there are NO public bathrooms--NONE.  And the food doesn't always treat me well, so I can tell sometime in the next 2 years I won't make it to a bathroom unfortunately.  When it rains it pours, but not for a long period of time.  Sometimes it rains during the night, and rain plus our metal roof don't get a long.  It's so loud and impossible to sleep.  Also, we have a rat around the size of Koda living with us.  I have seen him once.  If I see that thing again, I will grab it by the tail and punt that thing so far BYU will offer me a scholarship. 

Speaking of BYU, good to hear that they won!  While you guys were all watching the game either on tv or at the game, I was walking in a rainstorm in a river of mud.  While I was doing that, I thought to myself, right now they are at Lavell Edwards Stadium watching a BYU game while I'm swimming in mud.  I miss those games so much, especially with them having such a good year.  Speaking of this, Dad, make sure you record EVERY game cause I'm watching them all in 22 months!  Including the National Championship.

The language gets a little better every day.  I can understand better than I am able to speak though, but I still can't understand a lot.  I'm staying patient and trusting in the Lord to help me with the language.  My patriarchal blessing also says a lot about the gift of tongues, so that's helping a lot also.  I cant wait til I'm like a year in my mission and know how to do everything well. 

Every morning for breakfast I eat oatmeal and frosted flakes and a piece of bread with peanut butter.  For the oatmeal, I put it in the fridge during the night so it's soft in the morning then just put some brown sugar on it.  It's good!   And I do push ups and stuff every morning and night.  I can tell pretty soon my shirts won't fit me.  That's how big I'm getting:)
Well another week down, many more to go.  I'm doing great, don't worry about me. 

Love you all and go Cougs.

Elder Copeland

Monday, September 15, 2014

Eighth Week - September 15, 2014


Well, I don't think the first week and a half could get any harder or crazier.  As you know, I had to spend 2 days in the hospital because of some foot infection I got from a bug while sleeping.  It was pretty bad.  At some points I could barley walk.  I thought it would go away by itself thinking that it was just swollen from the bite, but luckily I went to the hospital or who knows what would have happened?!  Right when I got to the hospital, they took me into a room and wanted to see it.  I took my shoe off and showed them, and they immediately got a different doctor in and he took a look at it and told me I had some infection.  No idea what it was called, then put me on an IV, some weird name.  Luckily the hospital was nice!

So, I spent 2 days in a hospital bed and barley got any sleep cause they came and put a new IV in and checked my blood pressure.  That part sucked, but I had AC.  It was AMAZING!!  I put it to 65 cause I knew it wouldn't last long.  And they fed me well which was nice to have some normal food.  

But, now I'm out of the hospital and back to work.  This first part of my mission couldn't get any harder, but I'm hanging in there and not giving up.  I know that it can only get better. But on Sunday we had no investigators at church.  That's really annoying.  President Russell was at our church, and we talked to him.  He said this is the hardest area in the mission to baptize and said if we can baptize in this area we can baptize anywhere.  The language is hard, but I'm working hard to learn it as fast as possible. 

I'm so happy to hear BYU is doing unreal.  It's sad that I'm missing it all though.  Here in Nicaragua we don't knock on doors.  We stand by the front door and say "Buenas" and they come to the door.   One thing I forgot to say last week was when we were on exchanges the day before we got our companions, I was with the missionary that is now the AP.  He's from Salvador.  I like him a lot.  We walked to a member's house and the parents were sick and needed a blessing, so I anointed the oil (obviously in Spanish) my very first day.  That was pretty cool!  

Well, I'm doing better.  Thanks for all of the support.

Elder Copeland

Saturday, September 13, 2014

E-Mail from Elder Copeland's Mission Mom - September 13, 2014

Dear Brother and Sister Copeland,

I spoke with Elder Copeland this morning and he is happy and doing well.  As I spoke to him, he was being discharged and was headed back home to rest for a day or so. 
He cannot wait to get back to work!
When Elder Copeland arrived at the hospital on Thursday evening, I spoke with him at length and assured him that he was in very good hands with Dr. Abdalah (a church member here in Managua who has an extra love for the missionaries) and Dr. Porras.  President and I know both of them personally and they take wonderful care of our missionaries. You can imagine Elder Copeland was a bit nervous to be in a Nicarguan hospital after only being in the country for one week.  I reassured him Vivian Pellas was the premier hospital in Nicaragua and he would have excellent care.

Here is a photo of  Elder Copeland when I visited with him yesterday morning around 11:30. It was right before his personally selected lunch arrived.  He was very happy for the chance to eat steak.  
 The second photo is of  Elder Copeland with his companion and Zone Leader, Elder Regalizo.  Elder Regalizo spent the evening with Elder Copeland in the hospital. The hospital room was a bit on the cool side and I mentioned it.  A big smile crossed Elder Copeland's face and he told me: "Ahh, It feels so good. I love it. At home I always like to sleep with it cool."  I told him to enjoy the moment!
Elder Copeland and I had an opportunity to talk for a good while.  He told me all about his family. He told me his older brother served a mission (or is serving a mission), that his younger brother was a football player, his one younger sister was an excellent, championship dancer and his youngest sister was a cheer leader.  He is very proud of his family.  I believe serving a mission only deepens a missionary's' appreciation for his family.

Elder Copeland  told my that your family has traveled a great China, England, Paris. We spoke of how traveling abroad opens our eyes to the blessings we have in the United States.  I mentioned how actually living here, in Nicaragua, he can now completely understand what his seminary teachers and parents meant when they said that he is so blessed to live in the United States.  I mentioned the opportunities that have been his; including having a wonderful family and great opportunities for education.  And I reminded him that Heavenly Father will expect him to use all his gifts, for the rest of his life, to continue to build His kingdom.  Elder Copeland agreed.  He told me that in one week, he has realized how very blessed he is and that he imagines in two years he will feel it even more.

Please know that we are taking good care of Elder Copeland. He is anxious to get back to work and we need him! If you have any concerns, please don't hesitate to let me know. I will do my best to answer them.

Thank you for raising such a wonderful son who is willing to serve the Lord here in Nicaragua.  We are happy he is here.

Hermana Peggy Russell
Nicaragua Managua Sur

Friday, September 12, 2014

Elder Copeland Says Hi - Sent from His Mission President, September 12, 2014

(Elder Copeland's Mission President sent the following picture today.  This made us all so happy to see his big smile with the caption, "Elder Copeland says Hi."  Depending on how his foot is healing, hopefully he should be getting out of the hospital tomorrow.)

Emergency E-Mail to Elder Copeland's Parents from Mission President - September 12, 2014

(The following emergency e-mail was received by Elder Copeland's parents from the Mission President of the Nicaragua Managua South Mission.)

Dear Brother and Sister Copeland,

I tried phoning you earlier but no one answered and apparently your phone is connected to a fax machine. At your earliest convenience, would you please provide us with at least two telephone numbers where we can contact you in case of an emergency.

Elder Copeland was admitted to the Hospital yesterday late afternoon because of a bug bite on his right ankle that appears to have either become infected or he had a reaction as his ankle was swollen and discolored black and blue. He noticed the swelling on Wednesday and felt it would go away but realized on Thursday it was a little more serious. Thursday afternoon he told us about his ankle, he sent us a picture and we sent him to the hospital.

Immediately he was given antibiotics at the Hospital and has responded well to the treatment inasmuch as the swelling and discoloration have decreased significantly. He will remain in the hospital until Saturday for observation and then return to his area.

I visited with him late last night and spoke to him this morning...he is in good spirits! I'll drop by the hospital again this afternoon to check up on him.

Let me know if I can answer any questions or concerns.

Best Regards,

President Bryan G Russell
Nicaragua Managua Mission

 (Please keep Elder Copeland in your thoughts and prayers that he may soon be healthy again.)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Seventh Week - September 8, 2014

Bienvenidos a Granada, Nicaragua
Wow, this is hard, this is really really hard.  My first area is Granada (Granade in English probably because this place is a dog pile and it's freakishly hot.)  I am in a trio.  My trainer is Elder Regalizo from Guatemala.  He speaks no English, and he's been out for 17 months.  I really like him.  He works hard and never gives up.  Then my other comp is Elder Bennett from Idaho Falls.  He's been out 6 weeks longer than me. 

Just a little about Nicaragua.  WOW!   This place is poor.  These people have absolutely nothing.  We are blessed beyond description.  It's also hotter than I could imagine with extreme humidity.  We walk all day long and sweat ALL day long.  We barley get food.  I have only had one meal a day (lunch) the first week, so that was bad.  I had no energy, but I just got back from the grocery store and got some food that I'm gonna need for breakfast and dinner--not a lot, but it will hopefully give me some energy.
 (This is the type of area Elder Copeland goes through each day.)

Our house is a little room behind some members' house, and yes it has a tin roof.  During the day you can't even go in the rooms because the tin roofs just radiate the heat, so it's blazing hot in there.  Luckily, it's pitch black by 6:30 so it's not AS hot.  You need a fan right next to you at night or else you can't sleep because it's so hot, so it's amazing to have only cold water for a shower.  Also, two nights ago I got bit by some spider or something on my foot while I was sleeping.  My foot is all swollen and sore.  It hurts, but I'm fine.  I honestly have no idea how these people do it, I'm gonna have to get used to it, but this is so hard.  I cant speak, I can't understand, it's tough.  But I'm staying positive. 
 (The outside of the house where Elder Copeland lives.)
 (The inside of Elder Copeland's house.)

I really like my Mission President.  He's a good guy.  But this is hard.  I don't think I've said that yet.  It's definitely the hardest thing I've ever done, and I'm only a week into it.  We had basically no success this past week.  We had 10 investigators that said they would come to church but none did.  It's frustrating because we work so hard all day to try and help them, but they don't care.  They have nothing.  All they do is sit on their lawn chairs and watch tv all day long.  A tv is about all they have. 
 (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Meeting House.)

It's gonna take a while of getting used to, but I'm working hard.  That's about all I can do.  I'm currently sitting in some tiny little computer cafe sweating bullets.  That's awesome that Kade caught a nice TD.  Good for him, keep working hard.  And WOW BYU!  I miss them so much it's crazy.  They're good... But I don't really have a lot more to say.  Just know I'm working as hard as I can every day. 

Love you all,

Elder Copeland

Letter from Nicaragua Managua South Mission President - September 8, 2014

The following letter was received by Elder Copeland's family from the Mission President and his wife:

  Monday, September 08, 2014

 Dear Brother and Sister Copeland:

Elder Connor Copeland arrived safely in the Nicaragua Managua South Mission and was assigned to serve with Elder Regalizo, in the Granada area of our mission.  We are attaching a photograph of your missionary with us taken on arrival morning. 
 Pres. and Sister Bryan and Peggy Russell with Elder Copeland
 Elder Regalizo with Elder Copeland

Elder Copeland has been given the following email address:  Missionaries are only allowed to use their “” email accounts on preparation days and their time on the computer is very limited.  Our preparation days are typically on Monday unless some unusual schedule requires a temporary shift to Tuesday.  This is the day when your missionary will write home and when they will read your uplifting and encouraging emails.  Please be careful not to share news that will cause your missionary undue worry or stress.  Write uplifting and praising emails to strengthen and encourage your missionary.  Share spiritual experiences or scripture study moments.  We have found that wonderful emails from home greatly help a missionary and that no letters from home can have devastating effects.  Please do not be the family who forgets to write to their missionary!

Should you desire to send your missionary a handwritten letter or a package, here is the Mission address:
Nicaragua Managua Sur Misión, De la Retonda del Periodista, 150 vrs al Sur Ofiplaza Suite 725, Managua, Managua, Nicaragua.   

We also have an AP Box where you may send letters or packages:  AP 3527, Managua, Nicaragua. Please be sure to write your missionary’s full name on their letter or package.

We have had the best experience with missionaries receiving boxes intact when sent by US Postal Service. Packages sent by other means (Fedex, UPS, DHL and others) often get stuck in customs. The missionary and the mission do not have the financial resources nor the available time to obtain the packages from customs and pay the extra fees.

We are committed to the spiritual and physical well-being of our missionaries. We will do all we can to provide inspired opportunities that increase your missionary’s testimony and help him to develop a deeper appreciation for the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

We are very pleased and honored to have Elder Copeland as part of the Nicaragua Managua South Mission.  Thank you for all you have done to prepare and provide for your missionary.  We pray daily for the care and safety of our missionaries and their families.  We know Elder Copeland’s service will bring great blessings to your family.

Bryan G. Russell
Peggy Russell
Mission President                                                                                                        

Monday, September 1, 2014

Elder Copeland Arrives in Nicaragua at the Mission Home - September 1, 2014

We were all thrilled to hear of the safe arrival of Elder Copeland, along with  twelve other Elders and two sisters to the Nicaragua Managua South Mission, or as the Mission President and his wife call it:   "The best mission in the world."