Saturday, March 28, 2015


Boa Tarde from the lovely island of Santiago!

I'm writing you from an internet cafe and I have 150 escudos worth of time, I have no idea how long that is and so I will just type really fast until my time runs out.
Flying in was crazy. You could see the tops of three of the islands over the clouds.
When we arrived on Santiago, President Matthews and his wife picked us up. First thing we did was eat at King Burger. For the first night we stayed at the Sister Training Leader's apartment in downtown Praia. 
The first morning we had training in Praia and we were assigned our first area and trainer. My mom is Sister Friaca- she's super cute and goes to BYU-I. We get along really well. She's been out for three months so we're both really new, which makes for an interesting go of things, but she's pretty fluent which is good because I can't understand anything anyone is saying. My first area is Assomada, up in the hills of Santiago. We took a ÿas to get here, no chickens but I did experience some loud Cabo Verdean music.

My Trainer - Sister Friaca

Our apartment is on the fifth floor of one of the nicest buildings right in the heart of Assomada, across the street is what looks like a giant farmer's market where they sell all kinds of fruits, vegetables, and if you buy a chicken, they'll slaughter it right there for you. Oh so fresh! The only thing that is really hard about Assomada is its cold - really cold. And of course I only packed for the hottest of hot. So, today we are going to go see if we can find any cardigans or sweats or socks (or anything really) at the Chinese shops that are on every corner. The senior couple serving here dropped off some warm stuff earlier in the week so that's been a huge help at night. It's just that lack of things to bundle up with while proselyting that make the evening hours a challenge, but hopefully we'll find some things today.

Our apartment
My companion and roommates - left to right, Sister Simbambi from The Congo, Sister Coelho from Portugal, my comp Sister Friaca, and me

Market across the street from our apartment
On Thursday I contributed in my first lesson, I horribly butchered the first vision, and the family kicked us out. Not because of my Portuguese though, because the grandma came in and is strong Catholic and wanted us and our Book of Mormon out. 
I met Vera on Thursday.  She's a member and one of my favorite people in Assomada. She's 17 and has the biggest heart, she always goes out of her way to make me feel welcome. At first she thought that I was Sister Turner (Michelle Turner, someone needs to Facebook Michelle for me and tell her everyone here thinks I am her. They all freak out and go "Sister Turner!", and then realize I'm not :). My nickname here is Sister Turner II, guess I've got a legend to live up to. Thanks Michelle! Vera is so sweet, she comes to a lot of our lessons with us and then when it gets dark she lets us wait at her house for our taxi man to come pick us up.
Assomada looks like you just plucked it straight out of a movie. I wish I could take pictures of EVERYTHING but I don't understand the culture yet and what's acceptable so hang tight for culture pictures.
Here is Assomada, all the kids love to fistbump. You say, "Check!", and then they fistbump you. The women all wrap a colorful cloth in a circle so it looks like a pot-warmer, place it on their heads, and then carry anything and everything on top of it. I've seen women with just about everything on their heads: bundles of wood, water jugs, cinder blocks, you name it. I even saw a woman carrying a gas stove on her head.

In Cabo Verde, the women all greet each other with a kiss on each cheek. I've been kissed a million times already.
There's lots of Nigerians here, and they speak English. It's nice because they understand me. The Branch President (President Zelmar Santus) speaks some English as well. We taught a lesson at his house on Saturday to two teenage boys, Outlindo and Jerson. You could tell their home had the light of Christ in it and it was really nice to be there, but it also made me miss home. After our lesson I just broke down and balled my eyes out. But we ran into some members on the way home and they were all about making me feel better. I absolutely adore the members here. Coolest people ever. 
The first church activity I attended was a Relief Society activity on Friday. The activity went as follows: we all met at the church (a building that looks like a renovated apartment complex) on time- all the Sisters showed up half an hour later, there was a lot of yelling in Creole, and then they started some activity but no one was listening so they moved on, a sister got up and started shaking her bum to a couple of drums, and then another Sister got up and showed everyone how to check for breast cancer (and all the Sisters immediately started checking), and then they closed! Just some ideas for your next activity mom. :)
First week as church was great. We had about 35 members come, but none of our investigators. :( I was asked to play the piano spur of the moment and will now be the pianist every week.
After church we taught several families. Amilicar is a Rostifarian who lives with his Grandma in a little cement house.  His grandma seems like she has a really amazing story. I would love to get to know her better.
Stephanie is 22 and has two kids. Her home is a cement box with nothing but a table in the front room, however she does have a Blackberry phone. Everyone here has a phone and a TV, no matter the living conditions. 
We had two "Noite Familiar" 's on Sunday - that is "Family Night" with a member. So much fun! First was at Neih's house. She's got six kids and one on the way. Their family is so much fun! Their oldest son, Code, has mission papers turned in and he's awesome! He also mistook me for Sister Turner the first time he saw me.

"Noite Familiar" round two was at the home of Lucia. She's super sweet too. She's like a mom to the Sisters. She's got three kids and her two youngest had a ball taking pictures with my camera, we just laughed and laughed at their selfies, they were in heaven. I seriously love all the kids here. So many women are either pregnant or have a newborn and their little newborns are the cutest babies I've ever seen.

I get a lot of stares here, because I am the only white person I have seen here, especially from the kids. But they all play with me anyway and we have a blast. Everyone here is super nice and happy to talk to you, especially the Rostifarians. It makes contacting people really easy.

People here also have a really hard time with my name, so most of the time I am just, "Seester". 
Adjusting this week has been hard, but I love Cabo Verde! The country and culture is so, so different, but the Church is 100 percent the same, and that's a nice comfort. 

I love you all!
Sister Hanzel

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