Monday, January 27, 2014

Weddings, baptisms, and haircuts

My quilt! :D (Made with love by Granna Williams!)

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Our apartment!
Hey everyone!

Things have been CRAZY here! My one baptism has now become TWO baptisms and a WEDDING!

Ice Scraping! Every morning! And guess what?

Here's the story:

S--- was getting set to be baptized, but in our next lesson about Temples with him and his wife A---, they asked if they could be married in the temple if they weren't married legally...

Both me and Elder M--- just about cried.

You see, they had told us that they were married, but it turns out that they CONSIDERED themselves married and that they weren't LEGALLY MARRIED.

When we calmly told them that they would have to be legally married to proceed with the baptism, A--- (the wife) started crying, and saying that they couldn't do it.

When we asked why, she said that they didn't have any money.

We told her that the wedding would be free, and completely provided for by the Church.

She then said that her one and only relative, her grandmother, lived in Florida, and would not be able to afford a plane ticket to see the wedding. She refused to be married without her grandmother.

Me and Elder M--- stopped for a bit so that the spirit could guide our next words, and then we told her that she would have to receive the answer to this problem herself from God. She hadn't prayed up to this point, but she promised that she would pray to know what to do.

The next day she greeted us, and told us to "get in gear for a wedding"! She said that she had received an answer, not only that she needed to get legally married, but that she should be baptized, and that she should work towards being married in the Temple next year. S--- and A--- both then asked to have the wedding, and the baptism on the same day, and we said that we could do that.

So! Now after only a couple of weeks, I'm staring down planning a wedding, AND two baptisms!

I can't tell you how happy I am. For once, I can honestly say that I've "Done some good in the world today". I've been able to be an instrument in God's hands and even if I never got another baptism, I will still feel like I served a successful mission, because God, through me, has made an impact in the lives of these two wonderful people.

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My hair before getting it cut...
So, as far as everything else goes, things have been both busy, and productive. We now have five investigators who come each week to Church, and we have taught a LOT of lessons. Everyone knows who us missionaries are here in town, but they all also know that they can trust us, and if they ever need anything, they can "Just ask the missionaries! They can help you!"

My hair AFTER getting it cut. (Today)
Oh, we also get fed by members EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. The ward LOVES us missionaries, and we certainly won't starve out here. We spend WAY under our budget because the members give us tons of food. I now have about $200 dollars on my card, and I'm only given $80 per two weeks. I also wanted to let Mom and Dad know, that I eat EVERYTHING the members serve me!

I now actually quite enjoy Lasagna. :)

Our district pet! He was next to a trash can with a tear under his arm. We patched him up with plastic wrap, and placed him in our living room. :)

I love and miss you all, but I'm safe in the knowledge that you'll all be there when I get back, so I'm far from trunky. (Which is good because I've only been out a month. ;) )

Please continue to write me! Letters are the best gift ever get from home here in the mission field, and I treasure each one!

Love you all!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I'm in the Mission field!

Elder Keppner with his trainer, Elder M.

Hey everyone!

Well, it's official; I'm in the mission field!

I'm sorry I haven't written in so long, but my P-days will be on Monday from now on.

The last few days in the MTC were crazy! We had meeting after meeting, and we had spiritual experience after spiritual experience. I got to go through the Provo Temple with the other missionaries in my district (which was amazing by the way), and we had a lot of lessons with investigators.

So you know that investigator A--- I mentioned before? Well, it turns out he is the Ambassador from Haiti. He was in Salt Lake and kept hearing about the "Mormons" so he went to find out what they believe. He showed up at Church headquarters and asked them what they believe, so Church headquarters sent him to the MTC to find out from the training missionaries there.

Right before we left, the other two missionaries who had been teaching him got him to commit to baptism! It was amazing, and all of us were pumped. (Pumped is a word used by missionaries A LOT, so, you can expect me to use it from here on )

Anyway, we got up at 4:00am on Monday morning and took a bus to the airport. We waited around for a bit and called home, and then we all flew together to Spokane. After meeting with President Mullen (He's awesome by the way) and going through some training, we were sent to different homes to sleep for the night.

On Tuesday, we got our new companions, and were assigned to our new areas. Being separated from my district was almost harder than leaving home. I'm really going to miss all of them, and I hope I can serve in the same district as them somewhere down the road.

SO! The big news!

My new area is: St. Maries Idaho!

Look it up on Google maps! It's a small hick town, and it's in some of the most beautiful country I've ever seen.

My first day's impression was this:

-80% of the people here are over 60.

-80% of the younger people have some form of mental disability

-100% of the people that aren't LDS smoke like a chimney

But at the end of that first day, I was feeling like this was the place I was meant to serve.

Oh! My companion! His name is Elder M_, and he is an AWESOME trainer. He also has nearly photographic memory, which helps when you're trying to find the houses 50 miles away from town which are still in our ward boundaries.

After the first day though, a really grew to love this area. I love the people here. Most everyone is so humble, and EVERYONE knows who the missionaries are, and when there's a new one. We've taught a LOT of lessons to investigators, but most of our work is helping inactive members back onto the path.

You see, there are 250 people in our ward, but less than 60 show up to church on a regular basis.

Oh! I've got my first baptism on February 8th! His name is Shane, and he is AWESOME! When I asked him to be baptized, it came so natural and easy, I was worried that maybe I had done something wrong. When he said yes, me and Elder M___ calmly finished the lesson, and then we did and interesting dance once we were outside.

I LOVE missionary work. I feel like I was born to do this, and I've never been so completely happy in my life. This is God's work, and I'm so blessed to be a part of it.

Love you all,



So, cool story #1. Elder Lohan (He refuses to tell us if he's related to Lindsey Lohan) was going to play Ron in Harry Potter! No joke! He is from England, and he made auditioned to be Ron back when he was eleven. He made the part, but then something happened out of the blue that made it so he couldn't take the part. He told us about how it had been one of God's mercies that he didn't make the part, because if he had, he never would have joined the Church, and he never would have been able to serve a mission. Talk about cool!

Cool story number two. In the MTC, we were assigned to clean the Bathrooms in one of the buildings. The brother in charge split us into two groups and called us Team Rocket and Team Squirtle Squad (ask Lliam, he'll be able to explain it all). Anyway, I was in Team Rocket, along with Elder F___ and Elder H___. While scrubbing, me and Elder H___ recited the Team Rocket theme over and over and over again, and then we would passionately break out into the Pokemon theme song. So, awesome times.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Arriving in Washington

President and Sister Mullen greeting Elder Keppner

13 January 2014

Dear Brother and Sister Keppner,

I was pleased to welcome your son, Elder Keppner to the Washington Spokane Mission this week. I’m happy to report that he arrived safely. I had the privilege of meeting and associating with him the day of his arrival and note that it is evident that he comes with a great desire to serve Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Elder Keppner understands the role of the Holy Ghost in accomplishing the work here in the Washington Spokane Mission and has committed to live worthy of that power.

Some of the newly-arrived missionaries!
(Elder K. is standing there with his MTC comp, Elder F___.)

Group Greenie shot

Elder Keppner with his trainer, Elder M___

After prayerful consideration, I have called Elder M___ to serve as Elder Keppner’s companion in the Coeur d’ Alene area. It is our objective to call only the best missionaries to serve as trainers and I believe that your son is in excellent training hands. We expect that your missionary will serve in this area for the next 6 to 12 weeks as he begins his mission.

I have enclosed photographs of your missionary and assure you that Sister Mullen and I will love Elder Keppner. Our great desire is that his time here will further establish him on the path of righteousness, as well as bless the many people he will serve.

The mission has a website where you can see what is happening in the mission. Go to:

Thank you so much for sharing Elder Keppner with us.

Donald E. Mullen, President

The mom here: If anyone wishes to write letters or send packages to Elder Keppner, I know he would LOVE it!!! Please send me an email at libermama at gmail dot com, and I will send you his direct address. 

We are so excited to hear that he is in the Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho area! My sister was married there, and my brother-in-law's family still live in the area, I believe. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Leaving the MTC

Am I really leaving on Monday? Have I really been here that long? I feel like I've only been here a couple of days, and yet, I feel like I've been here my whole life. I've REALLY come to life here, and I LOVE the work. 

There are a lot of Elders with bad attitudes, and many MANY Elders who have no interest in following mission rules. We've seen Elders and Sisters sent home, and a lot of companionships fall apart. But not my district. Me, Elder F____, Elder H____, and all of our wonderful Sisters are so close, and we really do love each other. These Elders are my brothers, and we all trust, rely, and work together.

Speaking of working together, we have a two REAL investigators; Peter and Alexander. Peter is a middle aged man who grew up in New Zealand, and he came to America to find work, and to get married. He is very down to earth, but he has very little education since He became interested in the "Mormons" because of a close friend he has who is Mormon, so he decided he wanted to learn more about the Church, so he took up a job at the MTC to kill two birds with one stone. He is quite open to the Church, and he really likes what our message could mean for his future family.

Alexander on the other hand, is a older, well educated man, and he is also the Ambassador to a country in Africa (I don't remember which one :P), and he was recommended to the MTC by Church headquarters to learn more about what our Church believes. The problem is, he sees Jesus Christ as a great teacher on how to live a fulfilling life, but he doesn't believe that Christ made the atonement, and he has no interest in learning about anything not pertaining to this life.

We taught him last night, and we made some progress, but he is very familiar with how most Christian churches function, and so whenever we start talking about anything other than this life, he stops listening and tells us "I already know that you believe that stuff, and I really don't care about it".

But we had a good lesson last night, and we had a good discussion in our residence afterwards.

Today, we attended the temple endowment session at 7:00am, and we gained some spiritual insights into how we can help our investigators, as well as to encourage us.

This is our last P-day before we leave, so we're trying to take advantage of it (this involves singing, running, working out, gym time, snowman building, and taking pictures which we can't send until we leave the MTC).

Oh! It's been snowing the last couple of days! I can't believe how beautiful it is! The clouds come and sit on top of the mountains and it just snows and snows and snows. I love it!!! The Cafeteria food is great, and there is PLENTY of it. And because I've been working out with my companions, I've been putting on a lot of muscle weight. It's awesome! My spine doesn't stick out anymore, and I don't get tired... Like, EVER... We have a pull up bar right outside our residence door too, which means I get to do it every day. :)

So, as far as letters go, those "dear elder" letters that you sent me made it though! And it was awesome to get them! But you all should go ahead and send my letters to my actual mission since I'll be going to Spokane on Monday. I only get to check my Email on Pday, but I get to read any letters I get as soon as I get them, so those are awesome too!

I miss you all! and I was so glad to hear what's been going on at home!

Please give everyone my mission address! I want to hear from everyone!
{Here's his mission home address!!!}WASHINGTON SPOKANE MISSION820 S Pines Rd. #101Spokane Valley, WA 99206-5420
Love you all, and I'll write you all an Email again next week!

-Elder Keppner

Saturday, January 4, 2014


We were surprised to receive our very first letter from Elder Keppner today! He entered the MTC this past Wednesday (January 1st!), and we were not sure when we'd hear from him.

But here's his letter below, with the names of the other Elders in his district abbreviated to maintain their privacy.

Hey everyone!
I'm not sure how to tell you everything that's happened to me in the last few days, so, please be patient with me as I spew all of this out. :)

As I walked alone through airport security, it really hit me that I wouldn't be coming back for two years. While I waited for my flight, I looked out the window, and realized that this was the last time I would be in Arizona for a long time. After that, I said a prayer in my heart, asking God to help me, so that I would not be homesick at any time during my mission. He answered my prayer. :) 
Anyway, while I waited, I bumped into SIX other missionaries (three sisters and three elders) going to the MTC that day with me. We talked a while, and when we boarded the plane, we were generally clustered together at the back of the plane. 
Flying is AMAZING! I sat at the window staring out like a wide eyed six year old as the plane took off, and flew over the route to Utah I know so well. After less than two minutes, we were out of the Valley, and over the mountains. Less than fifteen minutes in, we were over Flagstaff. I was in awe at how fast we traveled the distance that took us hours and hours to drive. Anyway,after our plane landed, we missionaries all met back up, got our bags, and rode the shuttle together over to the MTC.
OH! Ask Brother W. if he was running in Orem Utah by any chance on January first! I swear I saw him running as my shuttle drove by.
When I arrived at the MTC, we were taken through a quick introduction about where we would be staying and where everything was, and then we started classes, immediately. After the first few classes, we were each assigned a companion. Our district had four elders and four sisters, all of us heading to Spokane Washington. My companion, Elder F., is a wrestler from ___. He is six foot, and more ripped than Tanner (his cousin). The other two elders in our district were Elder H. (a big Polynesian) who is also a wrestler from ___, and Elder B., a small and thin elder from __.
From the first day, we all bonded as brothers. We all LOVE the gospel, and all of us feel very strongly about being here. There are a lot of elders that act like their here to screw off, but not these elders. MY elders. These elders are my brothers, and we all really love and respect each other. We've all worked so hard, and we are really working to improve, and bring others to Christ by invitation, and by simply allowing the spirit to work in their lives. One of our focuses is making sure that the Spirit teaches, not us. We try and make sure that this is all about the investigators relationship with God, and that we are simply to love them.
Our sisters are amazing (and beautiful, which is something we elders make sure we help each other with. Not because there is a problem, but because we want to make sure that our thoughts are where they need to be), and we are so blessed to have them. As a district, we are all truly brothers and sisters, and we ALL are completely focused on the gospel, the spirit, and helping others.
I can't tell you how much I've grown. For the first time, I feel completely alive, completely focused, and completely centered on Christ. We talk about the gospel 24/7, in our residents, in our classroom, in personal study, at meals, in the gym, it doesn't matter. We have deep discussions constantly about ways to improve, and ways to make sure the spirit is teaching. We also have A LOT of inside jokes about certain gospel topics (never say that it was "sweet to the taste" around Elder H.), and we LOVE being here. I really do love it here, and even though we work non-stop, I've never felt more at home.
Now, on a sad note, Elder B. was yesterday treated by the MTC doctor, and found to have a depression disorder which requires medical attention which would need to be resolved back at home. He was a spiritual giant, and he had NO interest in going, but the district President talked to him, and it was decided, that after he resolved the issue, he would be able to return to the MTC and continue his mission. We were all crushed to have lost him, but we all agreed, that no matter what happened or how long it took, we would all be in the Washington Spokane Mission together, and that we would sacrifice whatever the Lord required us to sacrifice to get there. We had a testimony meeting last night, and we were all comforted, and received personal revelation from God.
This morning we got up at 4:00am to take him to the shuttle and say goodbye. There were some tears, but the Spirit was strong, and we all were strengthened by it.

So, for mom's benefit, I have slept well, I shower regularly, I shave, and I follow ALL of the mission rules with exactness. I'm so happy here, and I am so excited to be here, and to work for something that I care about so much. I've only been here a few days, but it feels like I've been here my whole life.
Thank you all for everything you've done. And write to me! I'm the only one who has received no letter of any kind here at the MTC, and Elder H. is starting to think that I must have ticked everyone at home off for some reason. Please write!

I love you all,
-Elder Keppner
P.S.-- Oh! I'm also a zone leader. ;)

We don't have his MTC address yet, which is why we haven't sent him anything, yet! :-(

Yes, we're newbie parents at this missionary thing! LOL! Hopefully, he'll answer our return emails soon and give us his MTC address.