Friday, April 24, 2015

The Tree of Life

This week was tourist week.  Well, not really because as missionaries we are never supposed to look like tourists. But we visited a few of Assomada's prime sights.

This morning for a little P-Day adventure we hiked down to the "Tree of Life". This tree is at the bottom of Boa Intrada, and it looks like it's straight our of The Lion King. We sang a little Lion King while playing on it, and you know that we sang the tree song from the most recent Hunger Games on the hike down, "Are you, are you, comin' to the tree?" You betcha!

On Tuesday the sisters in the Assomada house and I ran to the cross on the hill - on the hill being key. It was about a mile and a half run up hill. It felt so good to run hard! But we were all feeling it the next day.

On Tuesday Sister Friaca and I also visited the cemetery of Assomada. We arrived just before a funeral procession and so we stood in the back and watched a Cape Verdean funeral.  They are not quiet events. It's tradition is Cape Verde to cry and wail at a funeral, and when they cry, they cry prayers; so it sounds sad but pretty at the same time, like a song. The people are not buried very deep and so we had to be careful where we walked, didn't want to step on anyone. But a lot of the people had succulents or flowers planted on top which was a pretty contrast against the black cross that read their name.
Assomada Cemetery
Spiritual thought for the week:

Before heading out on the mission, I spent a lot of time deciding on a blog name. Too much time actually, and I only chose Covered by His Grace because I stumbled upon a font with that name, and I thought it had a pretty ring to it, but there wasn't really any meaning to it.

However, since I chose that title I've become really interested with "grace", and I've noticed that the apostles have too. Elder Uchtdorf spoke on grace this past General Conference (can't wait to get a copy of it), and in this past month's Liahona, Elder Bednar spoke on grace as well. 
I love his thoughts on the topic, he said that grace is to "receive strength and assistance to do good works that we otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means."
That is literally my mission, I am literally being covered by His grace. If left to my own means I could not maintain a mission schedule, hike the hills of Boa Intrada and Achada Gomes (I truly hike the "Y" at least once a day), and do this "good work" that I've been called to do. But with His grace, he's got me covered, and I have strength beyond my own. 
Love you all!
Sister Hanzel

Monday, April 13, 2015

Planting Drops


This was a great week - first zone conference, first testimony meeting, I'm still having "firsts" in the mission.

One of my favorite things about Cabo Verde is the kids. They are always super excited to see and yell "Hola!"or "Seeters seesters!", then giggle when we respond. Many will run straight at you at full speed and plow into you with a ginormous hug, whether they know you or not. The kids I'm more familiar with love to play with my hair or trace the veins in my hand because mine are visible and theirs are not. They're super creative too, creating toys out of tires and water bottles. I love when they wear clothes with English words on them that don't make sense, "Baking Soda" being the winning shirt so far.

Some kids just touch you more than others, literally and figuratively. Whenever I pass by or say hi to a little kid and feel that little extra tug from the Spirit, I try to leave them with something, and then point to my nametag and say, "Remember 'Sisters' ok?" They're always more excited about my present then my nametag, but they nod and I hope some of them will remember. 

Originally, I was giving them silly bandz, but the younger kids would just eat them - so this week I started stocking up on these yummy little candies they have here called "drops".

While walking through Nhagar (a street in our area) we passed two of the cutest little girls and I felt that little tug. So I turned around, found two drops in my bag, and gave one to each of them, telling them to "Lembrar o Sisteres, 'sta fishe?" They of course were thrilled and nodded. 

As we were walking away, I told Sister Friaca that they may not remember "Sisters" or our nametags, but how great would it be if one day they let the missionaries into their homes because they did?

"Yup! We're planting seeds here in Assomada", she said.
"True that! But we're not planting seeds, we're planting drops." 

So this week I challenge you to plant your own 'drop'. It doesn't have to be big, 1 drop costs 2 escudos (roughly 2 cents) - but even just a smile, a compliment, or a random act of service can make someone's day and open doors later on.

Have a lovely week!
Sister Hanzel

We were walking in Nhagar and saw that little boy reading a Mormon pamphlet! He was kind enough to let me take a picture

First Zone Conference! All the Sisters in our Assomada house.

Noemia and me, one of the member's daughters

Chess picture I love

Monday, April 6, 2015

Bom Pasqua!

I hope you all had a great Easter and Conference weekend. Easter in Cabo Verde is called "Pasqua", and it's quite the production. Church bells were going off all weekend and everyone was wishing everyone a "bom Pasqua!", and the markets were a zoo - literally. Sister Friaca and I were in the market across the street buying vegetables for Cabo Verdean rice and my eyes were overwhelmed with images of women slaughtering chickens in buckets, others carrying wailing piglets by their hind legs like they were just another grocery bag, and cattle on your left and right on their way to the butcher. Cabo Verdeans like their meat fresh!

This Easter was great because I got to really focus on the teachings and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I've never had an Easter without the Easter Bunny or egg hunts - an Easter just focused on Christ. But it was great!
I had a really great personal study session Easter Morning on the resurrection of Christ as found in the four gospels.  These four books are probably my favorite scriptures. As I was studying, I noted that after Christ was resurrected and appeared unto Mary, His disciples, and others, none of His closest friends recognized Him until He did something familiar to them. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus did not recognize Him until He broke bread with them and blessed it. Fortunately, all it took for Mary was the familiar sound of her name from the Master. But why did these people not instantly recognize the Savior?
The answer may be that His countenance had changed or that He was disguised from them initially for some reason we don't know. But what if they did not recognize Him simply because they were not looking for Him?
The scriptures say that Christ's disciples "knew not the scripture, that He must rise again from the dead" (John 20:9). These men didn't just preach of Christ, but they preached with Christ, and walked with Him and witnessed His miracles. These men knew Christ, and yet they did not recognize Him because "they knew not the scriptures". They were not looking for Him.
And so my challenge for you this week is to know the scriptures a little bit better so you will know Christ and know who it is we look forward to.  Knowing Christ and His teachings in the scriptures will help us know Christ when he comes. 
Conference was good.  A miracle happened and I was able to understand all of Sunday's sessions - that may be because we watched it in English :).  But I've been praying for the gift of tongues and I'd like to think that had something to do with it. 
I would love to hear you Conference inspirations! #LDSCONF am I right?
Have a happy week!
Sister Hanzel

I hit my two month mark this week. Sister Cuelho made a "Bolacha"cake to celebrate.
A couple cute kids in Boa Entrada in my area