Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A White Christmas

White with baptismal clothing that is.  On the first day after Christmas, the Savior gave to us, four baptisms! This is in addition to the three we had last week.  Our recent convert Dulce, who was one of the individuals baptized last week, gave the first talk at the baptism service this week and she rocked it! I was sitting right in front of President Mathews for the service and before it began I told him we were all nervous for her because she was just baptized and didn't like to speak in front of people... but when she finished I heard him turn to his family and other people that were there with him and whisper, "She was baptized just last week!" Dulce and Telma are going to be amazing members of the church.

The work in this ward and area is really booming right now. We've had over ten investigators in church every week this transfer - the mission average is about four.  I love our Bishop and our ward, our recent converts are going to be will looked after.  It would be just fine with me if I stayed in this area with Sister Rasmussen for the rest of my mission. 
Merry Christmas everyone, and a Happy New Year!

Sister Hanzel

Baptisms this week
Baptisms last week

Praia Zone Christmas Party

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Hugo's Baptism and the Best Engagement Ever!

Hugo's Baptism

Hugo was baptized and confirmed a member of the church this past weekend! He really is amazing, here is his story...
I had felt the impression to contact his house with Sister Cerqueira, so we did. We marked a date to come back and visit his brothers but it fell through twice. So we left them for the time being. In the middle of last transfer with Sister Larsen I had the thought to revisit that house, that same day the Mont Vermelho Sisters called because they wanted to show us a reference's house. We met up with them and it turns out it was their house! They had taught Hugo's brothers the first lesson and then found out they lived in our area so they passed them on to us. We again marked a date to return (with the Carnell's) but when we came back it was Hugo who answered the door and sat with us. 
The Sunday before Hugo's baptism Sister Rasmussen and I were updating our area book and we flipped to the former investigator section to add some names. There sitting on top of the former investigator pile was a paper I had pulled out from that section several months earlier because I had the distinct impression to revisit that paper and recontact that person. I had forgotten about it with everything else we did that weekly planning session, but when I reread the paper with Sister Rasmussen, imagine my surprise when the name and description was our Hugo. He had been taught by Sisters in 2014 but they had left him when we stopped progressing, however the bottom of the paper said, "Visit him again, he has great potential." And so the rest is history. Heavenly Father had been preparing him and he was baptized less than a month later by Elder Carnell, which was sweet for all of us.
This week we also had 12 investigators and 7 less actives at church! My best before that was 7 investigators at church, but what was even better was that was that it was our less actives who brought our investigators! Hallelujah! Anyone who is a returned missionary will understand what a miracle that is. Being with Sister Rasmussen is such an exhausting blast. 
Also, Daisy and Valdo finally came to church this week, and last night (with lots and lots of planning and practicing on our part) we were able to get those two lovebirds engaged with the help of the story of Jacob and Rachel in the Bible and a dollar fifty Vegas style ring we had bought in a Chinese store. 
Daisy and Valdo get engaged

Well! I love you all. Have a great week!
Sister Hanzel

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Zone Conference and Cidade Velha


This past week was a busy one. We had Zone Conference with Elder and Sister Dyches of the European Presidency. They were also Mission Presidents over the Portland, Oregon Mission a few years ago so their insights and ideas for missionary work were amazing.
Piano lessons do pay off on a mission

MTC Sister Re-Unite

They talked about the importance to start testifying immediately when contacting, instead of asking, "What's your name?" or, "Do you have a few minutes?" I knew this before but I really tried applying it this past week and we had some really neat contacts and lessons come out of it. I especially love starting contacts off with, "Did you know God has a plan of happiness for you and your family?" People are always looking for how they can be happier, it has got us in quite a few doors this past week. 

They also taught all of us how to make origami shirts to leave with investigators, members, on random doors, wherever. My creative heart was happy. :) And we went to the paper store immediately after to buy paper for the shirt project.

This morning our district went to Cidade Velha, which, being interpreted, is "Old City" in Portuguese. Original! Haha. It was a slave port long before Cape Verde was on the map. And the people there haven't changed much since that time. There aren't slaves anymore but walking the streets still makes you feel like you are on a Pirates of the Caribbean movie set. Yo Ho, Yo Ho a Sister's life for me!

Love you all!

Sister Hanzel

Sister Larsen and I at Cidade Velha

Monday, October 19, 2015

Cleanliness is next to Godliness

It is so funny to me that I bought stickers and silly bandz and all these fun things to give to kids here, but all they really want is hand sanitizer. And since we usually find them playing with old tires or garbage - turned treasure (they're very creative), I am more than happy to share and usually I don't have a choice. I have a hand sanitizer clipped high on my bag and when the kids see us coming they run yelling and tug on you until you give them some hand sanitizer. They're obsessed! They giggle at each other and smell their hands over and over. It's hilarious, I love it.  As an Exercise and Wellness major, their temporarily clean hands make my heart happy too.

D&C 88:86, "Abide ye in the liberty wherewith ye are made free, entangle not yourselves in sin, but let your hands be clean, until the Lord comes."

I spoke in church this past Sunday for my first time on the mission, and can I just say trying to be engaging in Portuguese is a challenge! Luckily my accent keeps people engaged enough. I spoke on the importance of Seminary and it made me miss all the great times I had when I was in Seminary (shoutout to all the awesome teachers at Westlake!). My punchline was that Seminary wasn't just a class my friends and I took, but Seminary was an extension of church and our testimonies. 

I was in charge of a Family Night lesson this past week with a cute little family (mom and four kids) that live way on the outskirts of our area in Cidadela. All the kids are so bright and intelligent, they have so much potential in the church and life, they've just had a rough past year and have had to move a lot, but now they are here to stay in our ward boundaries and so we've been working with our ward mission leader (a recently returned missionary from Brazil) to help them get to church. The lesson was on the importance of prayer and I started out with a little activity where I had the girls pretend to answer a phone call from me - I rattled off a list of pretend problems in Portuguese (I was so proud of myself!) and then I hung up before they had a chance to respond. I related the phone call to prayer and how God isn't just a repair man or a number to call and place an order, but he's our Father and wants us to have a conversation with him. This little example is nothing new for us life-long members, but these kids loved it and we had a lot of fun. That's one thing I am definitely going to miss when the mission is over, how easy it is to laugh and be crazy with the families here.

Ate mais logo!

Com amor,

Sister Hanzel
Celebrating my birthday

When in Africa...

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Feliz segunda-feira!

We had a fun missionary experience this week. We were teaching with a member who recently returned from his mission in Mozambique. It was roughly 7:30 PM and all of our lessons had fallen through for the evening. He told us of a night on his mission where the same thing happened; he and his companion prayed and were lead to a family of six or eight that were eventually baptized. So we put it to the test. We prayed and then turned around and started ringing the buzzers of the apartment building right behind us. The top floor answered and we explained we were missionaries and asked if we could share our message. The voice said yes and so we headed up, and when the voice answered the door, it was a young woman named Lara who we had actually been trying to find all week. She came to church but left before we could get her contact information we didn´t know how we were going to find her again. I´m sure she was just as surprised to see us as we were to see her. But there she was, inviting us in to share the message of the Restoration. And what was even greater was her house was full of friends, who all sat in with us. The power of prayer.

Well, I hope you all have a great week. Love you!
Sister Hanzel

Attending Women´s Conference at the chapel in Achada Santa Antonio

Making cous couse with the Sisters who live just up the street

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The One Where Chickens Sleep in Trees

Hey Ya´ll,
Nothing really crazy happened this week. Thusday and Friday I was on Divisions with one of our Sister Training Leaders Sister Johnson. She´s from Alabama and played college basketball, plus she´s a really good missionary and teacher. We had a lot of fun. While we were walking and talking in the street, I asked her what was her favorite thing about serving in Cabo Verde, she said that Sister Matthews (our Mission President´s wife) had once said that Cabo Verde was like our missionary group´s secret, you can´t really picture life on these islands unless you´ve lived it. I thought that was kind of a fun thought. It´s so true. This week I literally watched chickens climb trees and nest in the top. We also had days this week where lessons were impossible because of soccer games on the radio  - and if there´s not a soccer game on the media, there´s a soccer game going on in the street. I saw the cutest little toddler play goalie this week in the street and yell commands to his team between two cinder blocks, he couldn´t have been older than three.

Sometimes the secret of the Cabo Verde mission is being able to serve with força on little sleep. We were teaching a lesson this week and after giving my part about when Jesus Christ was on the earth and how he established his church, I thought to myself about my Portuguese, `Wow, that went really well today!` until I caught my companion´s quizzical eye and realized I had just taught the same lesson we taught them the day before. Whoops! Sometimes the lessons just blend together, but luckily the couple we were teaching didn´t seem to mind and a little review never hurt anyone!

Yesterday for P-Day we had a Sister´s hike and climbed to the top of Mount Vermelho behind our area. You could see all of Praia from the top, it was quite the view.

Until next week, fica fixe!
Sister Hanzel

Sisters' hike to top of Mt. Vermelho

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

It´s a Razzle Dazzle Day

Well one thing is for certain, you can´t beat the heat here in Praia, oh mama it is hot! But I love the people here and the area can´t be beat either, so I´ll sweat my insides out preaching the gospel and love it.

I am still getting to know our members and area this week. There´s quite a lot of space to cover. It´s both overwhelming and exciting, there are just so many apartment buildings to knock and people to contact. I love the investigators we already have and we have the ability to find so many more. Now if only we could get them to come to church - it´s air conditioned in the chapel, it´s fine if I throw that in the list of reasons they should come, right?
Dona Maria Pia Lighthouse
This morning we went and visited the oldest lighthouse in Cabo Verde for a district activity. It´s lighthouse Dona Maria Pia, built in 1880, and it reminded me of visiting lighthouses in Oregon. It also reminded me of Elder Boyd K. Packer´s talk about the importance of the lower light of a lighthouse and how with two lights boats can align themselves to safely arrive in the harbor. He said, 

“There is in our hymnbook a very old and seldom-sung hymn that has very special meaning to me.

Brightly beams our Father’s mercy
From his lighthouse evermore,
But to us he gives the keeping
Of the lights along the shore.

Let the lower lights be burning;
Send a gleam across the wave.
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman
You may rescue, you may save.

Dark the night of sin has settled;
Loud the angry billows roar.
Eager eyes are watching, longing,
For the lights along the shore.

Trim your feeble lamp, my brother;
Some poor sailor, tempest-tossed,
Trying now to make the harbor,
In the darkness may be lost.”

We will all make mistakes and feel lost at times in this life, but if we continue forward, never doubting our faith or God´s plan, we can always find that light to `guide us safely home` - that was another talk by President Monson, and I bet studying those two talks together would be a great study block. Before the mission I had no idea how anyone studied the scriptures for more than an hour, but now I wish I had more time!
I also wish I had more email but for this week, that´s all folks!

Have a Razzle Dazzle Day (you can bet I sang that at the top of the lighthouse, along with `Candle on the Water`).
Sister Hanzel

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Cidadela, Praia

My new companion, Sister Cerqueira

Oh my goodness, I cannot even tell you how in love I am with this new area. Sister Cerqueira is just darling and Cidadela has so much potential.

I am once again being called Sister Turner. Haha. This is another area in which she served and I´m receiving the confused faces all over again. 

My new apartment is so little and cute. It´s just Sister Cerqueira and I who live there and I like just having two sisters, probably because I love Sister Cerqueira. It´s two bedrooms plus the bathroom so our kitchen is also our study room which makes it hard not to just snack all day long. But I love it, it´s bright, located in the center of our area, and it´s easy to clean.... blessings. 
My new apartment

Sister Cerqueira is a doll. I love this girl! As I said last week, she´s from Portugal so she can help me with Portuguese (whoop whoop!) but she speaks perfect English. She´s been out for one more transfer than I have but two in the field because she was only in the Brazil MTC for two weeks (her MTC companion was my mission mamma Sister Friaça). Both Sister Cerqueira and I have birthday´s in the beginning of October and so we have decked out our apartment with Happy Birthday banners and such and we´ll just celebrate all month long! She´s also a foodie so we´re going to be best friends, and we´re also in deep trouble with that fridge in eyesight at all times and so many good pastry shops in the heart of Praia.
We both have October birthdays

Praia has literally everything. I walked into the grocery store here and didn´t know where to start. There´s fruit lojas (shops) and makeup lojas and paper lojas (happy day) and everything in between. We´re also right on the ocean. I can´t see the Atlantic from my apartment but I can see it when we´re out in our area and in the mornings.... boardwalk runs!!! Yes, we can run right on the edge of the island and stare at the ocean the entire time. It´s heavenly until about 1 PM when you´re drenched in sweat and breathing in more water than air, but besides the heat and humidity Praia is the place to be. We are also only a ten minute walk away from the mission office, so if we need more Livro de Mormons or hand sanitizer, it´s just a few minutes away.

Running by the ocean
Even though Praia is only an hour Hiace (Yas) ride away, I feel like it´s a completely different island. I feel like the people here are more eager and willing to talk to us which makes contacting and finding new investigators fun. People in Praia also speak Portuguese more than in Assomada, which is a blessing because I can actually talk to people. How cool is that (insert question mark here because I can´t find it on this keyboard), I can talk with people in Portuguese! Getting to know members (we´re Palmarejo ward 2) and investigators this week were so much fun because I could actually get to know them. We´ve also traded Assomada´s cockroaches for Praia´s flies and mosquitos, my legs are constantly itchy from bites. One morning this week I was washing my face in the bathroom and felt a tingle on my ankle, I thought it was just another mosquito bite so I let it be until I finished washing my face... only to look down and see a giant cockroach the size of a golf ball on my ankle. That was really fun.

Well I hope you all just love your air conditioning, and have a great week!
Sister Hanzel

Praia Zone

Thursday, August 27, 2015

It's Raining, It's Pouring....

But these Sisters are not snoring! Nope, we are tromping through the rain and the puddles in our Chacos to share the sunny message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It has been a weeklong storm here, I love it! Our area is green as can be with all the planting, or "cimenteira" that has been happening this month. Achada Gomes looks like the jungles of Jurassic Park now. 

The rain also brings out the flies, I'm flicking and typing at the same time here. They swarm the Mango pits in the streets and all the vending ladies have pom-pom looking things they wave back and forth over their fish or fruit to keep the flies away.

This week we stopped to help a Senhora whisk flies away from her batch of "friskinia" as she scooped spoonfuls of the sticky sweet treat into little bags to freeze and vend the next day. I asked her if she had ever heard of our church, to which she responded in Creole, "Yes, but I cannot switch to your religion even if I wanted to. Jesus will be annoyed with me." 

All the buildings have flat roofs, and so to keep the water from pooling they're slightly angled and the water pours out of the roof spouts jutting out at different lengths and angles over the sidewalks. So if you're not careful, you'll walk right under a waterfall.

The work is hard with the rainfall, but it's also easier to find people in their houses, which is a blessing. 

One day this week I was reading several of the General Conference addresses from last April. I was feeling really down in my little area and four brown walls - I needed to know God was aware of my bad day and when I flipped open my Conference Liahona this talk was staring me in the face, "The Cost, and the Blessings, or Discipleship" by Elder Holland. The talk was a direct answer to my prayer, I especially loved when he said, "Sadly enough young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat, but don't even row it... Christ like love is the greatest need we have on this planet because righteousness was always supposed to accompany it. Friends, take heart. Pure Christ like love flowing from true righteousness can change the world."

This is missionary work. We're just kids, out here trying to teach pastors and preachers, children and elderly, singles and families, the gospel of Jesus Christ. Sometimes, that seems like a pretty daunting task; but if we choose to be obedient and we choose to love, we can change the world.

Have a happy (and dry) week.
Sister Hanzel

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Subir Still

This past week was Zone Conference, and this Zone Conference was so much better than my first one. I came with questions and I understand Portuguese now so blessings! 

President talked about how we are out here to baptize X number of people, but also to climb the spiritual ladder found in the third lesson (faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, persevere <--- I don't remember this word in English)  faster and farther than we would if we were at home; and this past week in church one of the speakers who is also a return missionary said that while he was on his mission, his Mission President told him that he was doing things of far greater worth on his mission than any other thing he could be doing at home. Both these points reaffirmed that I'm right where I'm supposed to be - in the center of God's plan for me and how grateful I am that THIS is God's plan for me. His plans were definitely greater than mine, but I'm working on living up to my potential (shout out to Sister Bocanegra's email this week) both on the mission and in life in general, you only get one of each! 

I had a teaching moment this week I thought would be kind of fun to share. We've been trying to teach one of our recent convert's brothers for several weeks now, but whenever we find him at home, he's always playing war video games and can't pull his attention away from the screen long enough to hear what church we are from. This week though as he was absorbed in his game, I conversationally said, "Did you know I could help you beat this game with the Book of Mormon?" He paused the game (cheer!). I then showed him some strategies war heroes like Moroni and Helaman used in the war chapters of the Book of Mormon. He was genuinely intrigued! I then bore testimony of the Book of Mormon and how cool it was that God decided to give us his word through action stories and war scenes. He thought that was pretty cool too, and I think this week we're going to see some real progression with him. You have to teach how you would want to be taught, and if that means teach to beat video games than on men, on to victory!

Signing out,
Sister Hanzel
District Activity
with Vera, our member in Achada Gomes who helps us with lessons out there

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Frying Pans.... Who Knew Right?

Right now my mission life is entirely in Portuguese. The happy: I am picking up Portuguese loads faster. The sad: nobody understands my movie quotes. Haha. But, I say them out loud anyway, and when my companion looks at me inquisitively, I just say, "Aquele filme que..." and then she tries to come up with the name of the movie in Portuguese. It's a fun little game we play.

For example, yesterday during church I could not understand the Creole in Relief Society. This one point all the ladies were yelling in Creole (Creole only has one volume) and I turned to my companion and said, "I like Mass better in Latin, it's nicer when you don't know what they're saying!" 

And today, after five months of burnt pancakes, we finally broke down and bought a frying pan - hence the title. I had real pancakes for lunch today. It was marvelous. 

This transfer my companion and I have been spending a lot of time in the far part of our area Achada Gomes. It takes about 30-40 minutes to walk there and the caminho is filled with hills; but Achada Gomes is very scenic (looks like that postcard you all picture when you think "Africa") and crazy things happen out there. 

This week as we were hiking out of Achada Gomes we could see a crowd gathering up ahead. We were with two of the Young Women in the ward, and they asked some people around us what was going on. Apparently a woman in on the other side of the ravine had died the day before and now her spirit was in an old woman on her porch just up ahead. The crowd was gathering to talk to the deceased woman and ask her specific questions to see if it was really her - she was getting them all right. 

I didn't want to draw any attention from the crowd, because I'm really pale and always draw attention, so we debated going back to one of the young women's houses until the crowd died down; but it was getting late and we needed to get back before the light was gone, so we decided to just walk past fast and with purpose. However I of course drew the attention of the crowd, and the old woman stopped talking and her eyes followed us as we walked past. We debated stopping and having her explain Paradise and Prison to everyone, but thought it better to just keep walking.

Also, big news, our house has been sprayed for cockroaches, so we are now almost cockroach free! There is still a few that hang out in the fridge, but the floor doesn't move anymore when we flip the light. Happy day! Now we're just working through some water problems, I can now say I know how to plunge a toilet and a sink!

Love you all!
Sister Hanzel

Sister Miller, Sister Fernandes, Sister Cardoso, and me

Monday, August 3, 2015

Life's a Peach

Well, not a peach; but life could be a plum, orange, mango, apple, pear, grape, watermelon, you name it. It's rainy season over in Cabo Verde and July showers bring August... fruit! 

And speaking of fruit, this week was a week of finding - and hopefully with all the new investigators we found this week in Achada Gomes and Covao Ribera we will see the fruits of our labors in baptisms later this transfer. We have twelve new investigators from the past week, and one really cute family. I made a giant Plan of Salvation game board to play with the three kiddos in the fam during our next visit, and I'm hoping we can help the whole family, parents and little ones alike, understand that our message is one of hope and they can be together forever. 

Weeks filled with the first lesson are exhausting, because that lesson is really long - but, those are also the lessons with the best quotes from investigators, because for them, our message is brand spanking new. To follow the fruit theme we've got going on here, I'll share my favorite quote from the week - we were teaching a 25-year-old mom and her daughter, and when we asked them why they thought the purpose of this life was, she said with all the seriousness of her heart, "To drink sumu (juice) and then die." How happy I am that there is more to life than Compal. We can all have "first lesson" quotes and experiences, we just need to open our mouths and share the happy news of the gospel with our friends. 

All of us can and should become engaged in the work of salvation. The Savior has given us the following responsibility with a promise:
"I have chosen you and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you" (John 15:16). 

Have a happy and fruitful week,
Sister Hanzel

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Olá! Oi! Aloha! It's a Week of Welcoming!

Brothers and Sisters Aloha! 

This week Sister Tongi and I threw an Island Luao in the church for the whole of Assomada. Sister Tongi has been teaching hula to the mocas (young woman) and a few of our investigators - Suely and Heriana. We performed our hula and the Elders performed the haka with some recent members, including our recent baptism Jardel - he was front and center and looking fierce! We also taught everyone the Cupid Shuffle during the party. The members made Kachupa and cakes and I was in charge of decorations (heaven!).  All of the missionaries had investigators attend and the night ended up being a big success! 

This week I also went on divisions with my Sister Training Leader Sister Spolador. We had some great lessons and I learned a new technique for relieving stress - whacking at a pig head with a machete. 

Yesterday was transfers.... and my killer companion Sister Tongi was transferred to Santo Antao. I'm really going to miss that crazy girl - she's one awesome missionary. I will be staying in Assomada for another transfer with Sister Cardoso.  She is Cabo Verdean and doesn't speak English - so this will be my transfer to really practice Portuguese (and a little Creole too).  Assomada is a tough area but I have a lot of friends here and I'm happy this wasn't good-bye. Except for with Sister Tongi - good thing we live close by each other in the USA.
Well, with transfer craziness that is all for this week. Ate mais logo!

Sister Hanzel

Losing at Mancala to a local expert

Friday, July 17, 2015

Girl Time

This was a really good week! We had a baptism on Saturday, our "little brother" Jardel. He's Maria de Jesus' son and we're excited because now they can help each other grow and progress together.

Jardel's Baptism
The women that vend around our apartment know us really well now. They're loud and funny and we look forward to our "Boa Tarde!" everyday as we leave to proselyte. This morning I was on my way to throw our trash in the dumpster outside when one of the vending ladies started shouting at me in Creole that I should stop throwing my garbage away and should instead give it to her - for her pigs. I laughed and we bargained in Creole for a second, I'll give her my garbage, and she'll give me mangos. 

Certain days the work is really long, and sweaty, and you wonder why you're hiking this hill for the four hundredth time. But then Heavenly Father gives you an investigator like Suely, who just needed some good girl talk, or Heriana, who needed a BFF to talk to about her school stresses. These two chickas make me feel happy and needed and I love all of our lessons and chats and inside jokes and adventures. Suely has a baptism date marked for this Saturday, and they are both dancing in our Island Luao this Friday at the church. All of Assomada is invited, and I'm excited for Assomada to see these girlies hula! 
Hula Practice
Have a happy week! 
Sister Hanzel

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A couple of scrapes never kept me down!

The classic jumping pic with my BFF Heriana and a nice view of Assomada

I fell this week and scraped up my knees, Heriana and Sister Tongi found it really funny, until I told Sister Tongi my skirt material was snagging on my knees and making it impossible to walk, so she had to switch me skirts
This week we spent a day in Praia for trip number three of Sister Tongi's dentist adventure (only one more to go) and we also spent a day in the house while I got over a cold. But hey, team Tongi and Hanzel are back in business this week! We have a goal to find a family to teach and to find an inactive or less active every day, along with a new investigator. We're aiming high but if we do our best Heavenly Father will take over the rest. 

I remember reading about that in my favorite book, "Kisses from Katie".  She said that many times in her challenging life (Katie is a young single mother of 14 adopted girls in Uganda) people will tell her "God doesn't give us more than we can handle.", and she said she absolutely does not believe that. She believes that God will always give us more than we can handle, because that's when we stop relying on ourselves and turn to him.

I believe that is how being a missionary works as well. If we set our goals higher than we know we can reach, but continue to have faith and do our part, that's when the mission miracles come. 

So remember, God will always give you more than you can handle. It's a blessing in disguise. 
Sister Hanzel

View of the volcano island of Fogo


Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Portuguese Fairy has Been Here

This week my mission was turned upside down and inside out. Being companions with Sister Friaca was a ball, but this week I finally connected with people. It was crazy. 

I don't know what happened, but the gift of tongues that's happening? I woke up on Tuesday, and bam - I could talk to people, and I understand them too! Obviously my Portuguese is still far from perfect; I still have to ask people to repeat a few things as well as stammer through a few sentences of my own. But, Monday I was still hearing gibberish and on Tuesday I was chatting with my Cabo Verde family like it was nothing! Twice this week I had people tell me, "Wow, how long have you been here? Your Portuguese is really good!" These people just last week were telling me I don't have it yet, but one day I will. Crazy right? 

Thank heavens for my new language blessing, because this week I was in charge. Sister Tongi is new to Assomada and my area, and so I was in charge of planning lessons, teaching lessons, and remembering everyone's beautifully difficult Cabo Verdean names and where they live (and in my area, remembering where people live means remembering whose house you walk through to get to the dirt path that switchbacks to someone's patio to which you then climb a ladder to reach their neighbor's roof to get you to the cobblestone road that leads to an investigator's house..... yes), but I did it! I remembered everyone (and we know a lot of people) and was able to talk to them all and it was the coolest. My twelve weeks of training are over and I'm an all out missionary now!
My New Companion, Sister Tongi, and another stab at Cous Cous

Sister Tongi is super cool. Oh man, we're going to have a "hecka fun" transfer. She's one crazy hilarious Tongan with attitude. But she's a really good missionary. Together we're gonna help Assomada rise up to it's full potential. I seriously am so excited we are companions.

We had a baptism on Saturday! I'll include a picture even though it was hot and I look like two days ago. Pitoto is amazing, talk about future priesthood. He already has a crazy strong testimony and I'm so excited to see him in leadership positions in the church someday. Pitoto's baptism was exciting because he was my first baptism that I contacted and taught all the way through.
Pitoto is the one closest to us. The one baptizing him is Sandy (Nelida's husband and an awesome member)

Alright well I love you all! Until next week.
Sister Hanzel

Maria, Sister Tongi, Sister Heriana, and me  - I'm so white here in Assomada I glow

Saturday, June 13, 2015

It's the season of...

Cockroaches! Lots and lots of cockroaches. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately), we only have the little ones in the house. It's always a treat to be the first ones home at night and flick on the kitchen light. We then commence the competition of who can step on the most cockroaches before they scurry back into their cracks. If you make a game out of it, it's not........ that bad?
Fortunately, Heavenly Father decided to have mango season be at the same time, so as to have balance in all things. The mangos here are so good! Still a little expensive at 2 for $.80, but once the summer gets rolling, they'll be four for $.20 - and hopefully in larger abundance then the cockroaches. (Anybody want to look up home remedies for killing cockroaches?)
My first baptism was this week! Maria de Jesus is one short woman with one tall testimony. It's amazing to see how much the gospel has already impacted her life. She's happier, more bubbly, and she has broken out of her shy shell and loves to share her testimony when she comes teaching with us. It's amazing!
Baptism of Maria de Jesus

This past week was Zone Conference. It was great! Ok honestly, it was a lot of Portuguese. Eight hours of Portuguese. However, I was able to understand a lot of what President Matthews and the AP's (Assistants to the President) said. I was also able to understand a lot of church the past week, which was really exciting, and now that I can understand his Portuguese mais ou menos (more or less) our Branch President is actually really funny. Creole is still a challenge but I can catch the general phrases like, "Where are you going?" and "Is Cabo Verde "delicious"?" Oh Creole.

Zone Conference with President Matthews
Assomada Zone
This week we had a neat experience with a less active...
Friday night Sister Friaca and I opened our planners to see who we had planned for Saturday, and to our surprise, we had both failed to plan a single person! So, plan B's became plan A's and we had no choice but to just "wing it" the next day.
But God doesn't "wing it", he had been orchestrating Saturday for a while and was ready to conduct.
We met Lucienne (Lu-cee-enney), or "Lu". She's been a member for 13 years but has been paralyzed for the last 7. We were sitting on the steps of a pretty purple house trying to call people and find someone to teach, when a woman came out of the house. Now Cabo Verdeans are really chill about people sitting on their porches, because all the houses are so close together - and often one person's roof is another person's patio; however Sister Friaca and still felt like we should probably move to the next rooftop, but God gave us a little nudge and we decided to talk to her instead. When we asked her if she knew the Church, she got really animated and she said she had a daughter who was a member but was paralyzed. "Come inside! Come! Come!" she said. So we did; and inside her cute purple house was a cute girl, tucked in the back bedroom in the back bed, unable to move. Lu can slightly turn her head, and we are able to understand a "sim" or "nao", but that's it. She spends all day, everyday, in that bed, if her mom sits her up she falls; however, she's got a light in her eyes that couldn't be ignored.
And on Saturday, God was not ignoring Lu. 
We sat and chatted with her and her mom, and found out no one from the church had been around for a long time. Someone used to come take her to church, but he has since left Assomada. We told her we would absolutely love to come visit throughout the week. She was beaming, and we were too! Yay! A new friend! 
The terrain to her house is too rocky for a wheelchair, but we're going to work something out with the Branch so that Lu can come to church, and in the meantime, the Elder's Quorum will bring her the Sacrament. She's such a gem, and we've got to get that gem out into the sun!
I have a testimony that God knows each of us personally, we are all his children. All these days here in Assomada I've passed that purple house and had no idea who was inside. But God knows each and every one of these people in every colored house, and he's waiting for us to act on His nudge or respond to His tug.
How grateful I am Sister Friaca and I were horrible planners.
Much love!
Sister Hanzel

Family Photo: Sister Friaca, me, and Chupa 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Who let the dogs out?

So we have a dog, and his name is Chupa. He always finds us at the beginning of the day and follows us (or rather, prances in front of us) until we go home at night. We have to find alternate and new routes so he doesn't get in fights with the other dogs (the dogs here are very territorial and Chupa often leaves his "territory" to walk with us). Without fail, he always tries to enter our investigator and member's houses. Sometimes they don't care, sometimes he's even our ticket inside! Sometimes however, he is not welcome inside, and since not everyone here has an actual front door - it's all we can do to get him to wait outside, which he always does, faithfully, until we are done. Sometimes he'll sneak in halfway through a lesson without any of us noticing and when we get up to leave he'll pop up out of the corner and give us all a heart attack, and a good laugh. The kids here all know he is our dog and love to shout, "Chupa Chupa!" When we walk by, which their parents all find hilarious. "Seesters, you have a dog?" 
Yesterday we had four investigators at church. Which I know doesn't sound all that grand, but for us that was a down right miracle. And as a missionary, it's the little things that make the worth worthwhile...
Pitot highlighted his Book of Mormon while he read.
Yuron used the calender the other sisters gave him to mark his prayer and scripture reading.
Rita came to church.
Lena and Fransisco remembered how to say, "Joseph Smith". 
It's the little things that make all the difference, which is how it should be, because it's the little things that make a difference to God as well. 
If we took that extra five minutes in the morning to get on our knees and pray.
If we read our scriptures first, before Netflix.
If we chose to sing in the ward choir instead of get in that extra hour nap.
If we read the assigned readings for Sunday School and came prepared to class (that's for you Sister King).
These things are little, but they show our faith, and the make God happy! And on a mission, they make me happy too! I'm grateful for this little bit of time where I get to better appreciate the little things that God appreciates as well.
Small things move the work forward (Alma 37:7), so when Sister Friaca and I were fist pumping because we had four investigators at church, I'm sure God was cheering as well, cheering for Rita, Maria, Maria, and Pitot separately. And one of my favorite things is watching Him bless their lives so they know He's real and He's rooting for them.
Sometimes, he sends us missionaries blessings too, like four investigators at church, to remind us that His work is real, and He's rooting for us (D&C 64:33).
So, keep doing the little things, you've got a heavenly cheer squad rooting for you, and an earthly one too. #ForeverFamilies

Sister Hanzel

Learning to make bracelets with Hakim

Language study with some of our favorite members. This is Nelida, she's super cute, and so is her little baby Kelly. That's her husband, Sandy, in the background. He served a mission in Brazil and is awesome (even though he looks scary in this picture).