Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Finish Line

Well, this is it, the finish line is in sight on the longest, craziest, exhausting race of my life; but also the most worthwhile.  I remember reading Sister Turner´s last email home, and for the first few months of my mission I felt like that day would never come. However here we are, and it came too fast. 

I can´t accurately describe how my mission here in Cabo Verde has changed and affected me, and I´m not even going to try. One of the jokes between all us missionaries is that no one will ever understand what it is to serve a mission in Cabo Verde until they´ve actually... served a mission in Cabo Verde, but I will share one thing that I´ve been thinking about a lot lately, what I think is probably the biggest thing I have learned on my mission.
Before my mission, I read books and blogs about people who gave up worldly comforts to help others, and I always liked to think I could do that. I had hoped, but I didn´t know, because truth is, I like comfy things! However, as the finish line comes into sight I have the desire to slow down my pace, because truth is... I don´t mind sleeping with cockroaches (although I will still flip out a little). I´ve been wearing the same two skirts for the past six months and it doesn´t bother me. I have eaten more sketch food than one needs in a lifetime and I don´t remember the last time my hair was done or my clothes were 100% dry. I have sat on the cement floor for more lessons than I can count with the most amazing people you will ever meet and.... I love it. I love all the uncomfortable things, because they help you focus on the happy things. Real happiness, that can´t be found in Walmart or at concert or in a smart phone (although I´m totally playing that new Pokémon app when I get home). Truth is, not only did I learn I could give up comforts for others, but it really does make me happy! 
The people of this country are my family. I don´t know how I´m going to have my heart in two places at once, for the rest of my life. I don´t want to say goodbye to any of them (and I won´t... SKYPE). I really have seen the Savior at work in the lives of these crazy, loving Cabo Verdians in a crazy, loving way. It´s pure religion, and even though at times it seemed just too simple, the simplicity made it life changing.
You guys, I don´t want to leave! But I´m excited to see you all next week. Sprint to the end right?
Peacin´ out.
Sister Hanzel

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Worlds Colliding

Oh mae... I just feel like I´m in a very strange limbo right now. I´m excited to see everyone back home again but I just really, really, really don´t want to leave. There is an EFY humanitarian group here in Cabo Verde right now full of youth from the church, and we ended up seeing them a lot this past week. All of them kept asking, "When do you go home?" and every time I said, "Three weeks." I just wanted to cry! So I just started saying I was never going home. 

This EFY group is actually really neat! They came to help build houses, and there are two counselors that get paid to lead the group. I am TOTALLY applying to be a counselor next year, made connections all week (applying those mission skills...) and one of the ex-mission presidents who comes with the group every year said I have a good chance because I served here - the counselors this year served in Portugal and Brazil. Basically, I just got to get back here any way I can. The other Santo Antao missionaries and we were in Sao Vicente this week for zone meeting and divisions and we ended up at the church in my old area for the EFY talent show and then Sister MBoia and I took the barco back to Santo Antao with this group - I felt like I was just a part of EFY for a week. 
I was with Sister Rasmussen for divisions in Sao Vicente.  We taught our recent converts Steven and Ariel with our favorite members Marybelle and Kevin, I love all those goofballs. Then all of them went and joined in on the EFY dance happening in the gym of the church - worlds colliding. 
Sister Hanzel

Back with Sister Rasmussen
EFY Service Group

Cruising on the barco with Sister MBoia

Monday, June 6, 2016

There can be miracles... when members of the Seventy visit, and when you believe

Sometimes Sister Rasmussen and I like to think back on our missions and pick out our top three days, and yesterday, Mindelo Stake Conference Sunday, made it into my top three. 

On a mission, all your hard work throughout the week eithers pays up on Sunday or not, depending on who comes to church; because in order to have progressing investigators, they have to come to church! So let me tell you about church yesterday during Mindelo´s Stake Conference with Elder David P. Holmes from the seventy presiding. 
Elder Holmes
We left home an hour early to pick people up like usual, and it´s always a surprise as to who will actually come with us and who won´t answer the door....
Adeilson (Kedi´s dad) usually requires a few hard doorknocks and shout-outs, but yesterday he was up and getting ready to go! He came to church and will be getting baptized next Saturday. Miracle. And what was even better, his brother Jeorge decided he was coming with us too! We love when Jeorge sits in on our visits with us but never thought he would progress. However several Sundays ago we ran into him in the streets (slightly drunk) and asked him why he didn´t come to church, he pulled out his earrings, gave them to me, and said, "Here keep these and next week I´ll pick them up at church." Well he´s a few weeks late but followed through! He was only planning on staying for an hour to get his earrings back, but ended up staying for the whole conference and told us afterwards he doesn´t want to wear his earrings anymore, he wants to keep coming to church and change his life around. Miracle.
Sister Rasmussen and I were on cloud nine walking into conference with Adielson and Jeorge, and then to make things even better, sitting in the row in front of us was... Steven! Alright let me tell you about Steven.

As I was emailing you all last week Steven was sitting in the chair next to me and we started talking about the church. Before hitting send on my home email I had marked him for baptism on the 18th of June (so if my email home last week was a little spacey... Steven would be why). He´s super intelligent with a lot of questions, but he has a real desire to know, and we met with him almost every day last week (which was the highlight of our day, Steven is our favorite investigator right now). However, we were slightly worried that he was just enjoying the religious discussions and didn´t plan to act on any of our teachings. While emailing last week, he had told me he had a huge party Saturday night with alcohol and so church on Sunday would be a struggle. However, sitting in the row in front of us, was Steven. He made the effort to get up early after his late night party and come to church. Miracle. 
Riding cloud ten at this point (that can be a thing right?), I start scanning the filled to capacity church building to see who else is present, and wouldn´t you know it, Valter from Santo Antao is waving to get my attention. He came down for conference because he was going to receive the Melquezidic (spell check!) Priesthood. How exciting! 
Also, waving off to the side was Sister and Elder Carnell from Praia, our favorite couple missionaries! They went out with us last night for a FHE at a member´s home, and it was just like old times in Palmarejo.
And then, when we thought it couldn´t get any better, we look to our right, and there taking up quasi the entire row, is our new family of investigators - the entire family, all at church together. Big. Fat. Miracle. This past week we were out in our far area that looks like Arizona and accidently knocked on the wrong door, but a teenage girl invited us in and we ended up sitting with her entire family (mom, dad, brother, baby sister) and teaching the first lesson. We invited them to read and pray about the Book of Mormon and then to attend church on Sunday, because that´s what we always do after the first lesson. However never ever do you have investigators respond so immediately to your invite, and each member of this family prayed about the Book of Mormon, felt something good, and walked all the way to the church building for Conference, as a family. And just to put this miracle in perspective, this was the first time I have ever had a whole family (mom, dad, and kids) come to church together as investigators. Miracle.
So... needless to say church yesterday was one of the best. We heard Elder Homer of the seventy speak and all of our investigators (nine in total) felt something special. There will be miracle baptisms following, I can feel it!

Love you all!
Sister Hanzel

MaryBelle (very helpful member),Carlos, us, Adeilson, Jeorge, Steven

Monday, May 9, 2016

Bruno's Baptism

Hey ya´ll,
This past week was crazy. 
Bruno got baptized!!! It was the best day of my entire mission, hands down.  I had no idea that he was ready or that he would be getting baptized, it was a surprise. But he did it! He gave up drugs, alcohol, girlfriends, earrings, and (hallelujah) cigarettes.... he´s awesome. 
Bruno's Baptism

So Santo Antao, Bruno´s baptism was the highlight of a very incredible two day trip. The first day (Wednesday) I was on divisions with Sister Santos and we had a ball in our old area together. Seeing Bruno, Valter, and Su was so fun (Su was baptized yesterday as well). 
The second day (Thursday) I was on divisions with a mini missionary in the Porto Novo North area. A mini missionary is a member turned missionary for one transfer when the mission doesn´t have enough sisters. Her name was Sister Tomas, from the other side of Santo Antao, and she was a blast! I love that girl. Her papers are going in and she will make a great missionary. This was the day Bruno was baptized. So we freaked out together over that, and then... we taught ten lessons. The mission goal in a week is at least 20. It was so much fun, we found amazing new investigators and laughed with old and new friends. We also ate tamberina friskinia to celebrate our crazy fun division which is SO GOOD! It´s like a frozen fruit treat. 
So.... in home news back in Cha de Marinha. God knew I didn´t want to come back, so he blessed us with seven investigators at church yesterday! And the best part was one of them was Kedo´s dad. It was a miracle. We haven´t been able to find him at home the past few weeks but Saturday I just felt like we needed to stop by his house and invite him to church. So we did... and I may or may not have used Kedo to convince him. I told him I had promised his boy in Santo Antao that I would invite his dad to church this Sunday, and so he agreed to come, he stayed for all three hours, and he liked it. I prayed and asked God if we were supposed to baptize him and felt like the answer was yes, and I also feel like Kedo´s dad is one of the reasons I was transferred to this area, because everyone knows that little boy is my favorite nine year old there is. 
So there you have it. I love Cabo Verde and the people here with all my heart and every other vital organ I have. Being a missionary is hard, but seeing Bubul (Bruno) in the baptism font, or Kedo´s dad in the front row of church makes it all worth it. 

Sister Hanzel

Kedo and friend
Zone Conference

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

P-Day Adventure

For P-Day we decided to visit Baia das Gatas - a beach on the other side of the island. Once a transfer we can do a district activity and so we made it today. We took the bus to Cidade and waited with all the women who sell bananas, papayas and cilantro for a hiass (how you spell yas) to take us. However the hiass never showed and so the elders convinced a truck driver to give us a `baleia` (term for hitch hike) for mil escudos (roughly $10). Once there we took some pictures on the beach and watched a man snorkel with a small harpoon gun - it´s how he earns a living without a fishing boat. It was so cool!

After chilling on the beach for a little bit, we found an open restaurant for `pequeno almoco` or breakfast. It was hamburger with a fried egg, canned corn, and french fries. Exactly what I wanted at nine in the morning. :)

And then we waited along the main road for a car to take us back. I literally hitch hiked my way across the island today. 

Sister Hanzel

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Seja Bem-Vindo a Sao Vicente!

What a whirlwind of a week, I haven't been this tired since the first weeks of my mission. We were so busy that I lived on nothing but bread products, went without sleep for the first few nights, and didn't get to wash my hair with conditioner until the weekend.  Yet we were still teaching and training like a pro.

Last Monday I was ready to spend the rest of my mission in Santo Antao, and I was perfectly happy with that. I miss Santo Antao. But the call came that I was being transferred and so I said goodbye, bought a passage to Sao Vicente, and after arriving, packed a bad for leadership council in Praia the next morning.
Saying good-bye to Sister Santos
Reunited with my former companion, Sister Cerquiera
 Tuesday morning we were up at 4:30 AM to hit the airport for the leadership council in Praia. That whole event is just kind of a blur of mission statistics and such because I was so new and tired, but it was fun to see all the missionaries in Praia again! We didn't get to visit Palmarejo though because right after council we were back on a plane to Sao Vicente.

Thursday we had Zone Meeting and I gave my first training with Sister Cerquiera. It went well (I think) but next month I'm going to be more prepared for council and therefore more prepared for Zone Meeting. Haha. Helloooooooooo new calling!

Saturday and Sunday we were in Cidade again for Conference. And Sao Vicente is chique so we got to watch it in English. I loved Elder Kearon's talk on the refugee efforts and President Holland's talk as always (and we did indeed get ice cream afterwards).
Watching General Conference
Well... that is my blessed rushed update for the week, I spent a lot of time trying to load pictures for you all, because I know that's the best part. Haha. Basically, I miss the people I was with in Santo Antao, but Sao Vicente is the place to be, and we're about to get work done!

Love to all,
Sister Hanzel

Beautiful Sao Vicente - my new home

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Sisters, Inc.

Another week has come and gone, the weather is warming up for some very toasty days!

This week we knocked quite a few doors again. While knocking, I felt like I was a "scream monster" off of Monsters, Inc. The doors in Santo Antao are all so unique, just like the people. And all we have to do is "pick a door" and see who we get to scare... er, I mean, share, the message of the gospel with. 
We have a "third wheel" to our door knocking group. His name is Kedo, he's eight years old, and he likes to follow us around during the afternoons, hitting his spare tire along like on the beginning of Pollyanna. Doesn't matter where we are, he seems to know just where to show up. And if our contact lets us in, well he just follows suit, and sits right next to us for the whole lesson. In Assomada I had a dog that liked to follow me around and enter houses, but can I just say that Kedo receives a much warmer welcome than Chupa did. We've tried teaching his family but they're not very interested, maybe one of these days.
Our third companion, Kedo

Kedo at work
My favorite investigator right now is a 17 year old rapaz named Bruno. Sisters have been working with Bruno for months, but every time they get to the Word of Wisdom lesson, they drop him, because he smokes and drinks and didn't know how he would ever quite; but we've discovered something none of the other sisters knew... Bruno likes to draw. He likes graffiti art, and so I've been getting my graffiti on! Every lesson I design some sort of graffiti art for him, it's not professional, but he seems to like it. And he's hecka progressing. He reads the Book of Mormon every day, is developing a habit of prayer (he designed a sign to help him remember), and this weekend, miracle of all miracles, Bruno attended a baptism service..... and came to church! Sisters have been trying to get him to church for months, but he's finally making gospel principles personal and connecting them to his own life. 
Flip charts, graffiti style

We are also teaching a family. Yes, a family! Patricia and Nelson have two kids, and they both have family members who are members of the church but have never accepted the gospel themselves. It's been years since they talked with missionaries, but I think now they might be ready. We taught them the first lesson together, and it went well, but at the end we mustered up the courage to ask Nelson if we could kneel in family prayer and if he would offer it. It was his first prayer in who knows how long and the Spirit hit home! Everyone felt it, his kids too. So I'm really excited about them. 
Well! That's all I've got time for this week, but good things are happening here in Santo Antao!
Love you guys!
Sister Hanzel

District Meeting