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