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

Friday, March 4, 2016

Storytime with the Lost Boys

Well, week two down here in Santo Antao, as I tried to think of how I could describe working on this island, I thought of the saying my Grandma sent me last week that I really liked, and it describes life right now pretty darn well. 

Life is Amazing and then it’s awful.
And then it’s amazing again. 
And in between the amazing and the awful it is ordinary and mundane and routine.
Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary.
That’s just loving heart breaking, soul healing, amazing, awful ordinary life.
And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.

I couldn´t have said it better, right now, there´s a lot of amazing, awful, and ordinary going on. 
The awful: I miss Palmarejo. I miss Oshvaldo, our ward mission leader there who would teach with us every night and say the funniest phrases in English. His birthday was last week. I miss sitting outside of Gi´s house on P-days and watching the soccer game below while his grandma whacked those passing by with sticks. I miss talking with Dulce and Telma, they are solid members and act as if they´ve been that way for years. I miss my ward, good things were happening there. I miss Annie and her kids, I found out she´s getting married so her husband can get baptized (YES!!!!). I miss all the college kids in our area who were always a ball of fun, and I miss my comp. and my apartment. And it´s just hard because I get to come back home, but I don´t get to `go back` to Palmarejo. And I just really miss it.
The ordinary: Missionaries do the exact same thing, every day. So I have been doing the exact same thing, every day, for a year. I´ve never really been one for doing the exact same thing, over and over, it´s definitely been a mission struggle. In my last area, proselyting time was the best because it was different, you were going out to learn new stories and talk with recently made friends. But this area this week was a lot of door knocking and street lessons, a lot of teaching the first lesson and so it was a long week.
But, but, but! Don´t worry, there´s also.... the amazing: We definitely had miracles this week. We started teaching this boy who vends really good fried fish pastels, his name is Ricardo, and he´s fixe de mais! He came to church yesterday (miracle), and with faith, hope, charity, love, etc., he´ll get baptized this month. Also, at 6p. every night we´ve started having story time with the neighborhood `lost boys`, it started out with four or five boys but our last story time had over 25 boys in attendance. They love it! There´s not much to do here in Porto Novo and so every night they all just grab their friends and meet outside a recent convert´s house (Valter) to act out Book of Mormon stories. And Valter is a good sport, he always plays the main character, and he´s learning the stories as we teach them as well. 
Our ever-growing group of Book of Mormon story time actors 
Well, that about sums up this week. I´m homesick for nha terra Palmarejo (I miss the Creole there too), but I´m confident this area will start picking up, I can understand people a little better so that´s a start.
Love ya,
Sister Hanzel

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The wise man built his house upon the sand

Gooooooood morning! This is the Cabo Verde, Praia mission coming to you live from the island of Santo Antao.

Starting off, the only English in my life is my nightly journal entries, but even those have turned into Portu-glish, entao DESCULPA-ME if I throw in a little Portuguese or Creole. I thought speaking Portuguese only was going to be a lot harder than it is based off of my last all-Portuguese transfer in Assomada, but it's actually just starting to feel second nature. Blessings!
So, Santo Antao. Wow, it's gorgeous here. Tourists line the streets and I can see why, you've got the ocean in front with a fantastic view of Sao Vicente (picture won't do justice), and then you've got the mountains behind (which yes, we will be able to explore one P-DAY). 
Looking toward Sao Vicente from my area

My area is Porto Novo South, the other sisters are Porto Novo North. Walking our area, I feel like someone just started building cinder blocks on the beach and then houses, because the roads don't have cobblestone and are just white beach sand. The houses look like rows of cute beach houses, and I haven't seen very many cars, but I have seen quite a few fishing boats "parked" out front. Fishing is one of the main sources of income here.
The people of Porto Novo are a lighter skin color than the people of Santiago, with hazel or green eyes and a very distinct look. When I first got to Cabo Verde, everyone just looked the same, dark. However I'm better able to tell who is from which island now. Fixe! The creole here is a whole other ball game, I feel like I'm trying to learn a language all over again. Bizote sta dreito? I couldn't even tell you. Haha.
Say Oi to my new companion Sister M. Santos. OH NHA ME!! She's just a tiny bundle of Brazilian energy and we're going to have a blast this transfer. We've got the cupboards stalked with all good things and our ghetto little house has been rearranged (we moved our beds out to the front room and our study desk by a window) and decorated for a happy transfer.  I'm technically finishing her twelve week training but she's already a fantastic missionary and so I'll probably end up learning more from her than she will from me and I'm already picking up that Brazilian accent. There are four sisters in Porto Novo, but we live in separate places. However, we run into them all the time and are part of the same ward. 
My new companion, Sister Santos, from Brazil
Getting here last Monday was an adventure, I took a little plane to Mindelo in Sao Vicente, spent the night at the sister's house there, and then got up early to take what looked like a cargo boat to porte here. The only way to get to this island is by boat. 
Well! I hope that gives you a little overview of life out here. It’s super pretty, with a view of the ocean practically everywhere we go. More to come!
Sister Hanzel

Monday, February 15, 2016

Santo Antao Here I Come

I'm being transferred... to Santo Antao! My new area is Porta Novo and I will be companions with a sister from Brazil named Sister Santos. She's been on her mission for six weeks and so I'm about to become a step-mama and finish her training. Santo Antao has four sisters, I will be serving with sisters from Brazil, Mozambique, and Cabo Verde. Should be a Portuguese filled transfer! 

I'm excited for this next adventure (pretty sure I have to take a plane to Sao Vicente and then a boat to get there, the missionaries of Santo Antao have to come into the island of Sao Vicente for Zone Conferences), but I'm also really going to miss all my friends here! And being with Sister Rasmussen has been a blast. Luckily, Heavenly Father knows what he's doing as have everything is control. 

Last week was, well, it was hard. We won't sugar coat it. Gi's (our recent convert who helped get permission for Nadine's baptism) dad died.  I don't think I ever saw his dad wear more than a towel and a karate kid headband but seeing him in his attire always made our day. We miss him. Gi's parents had been married for 25 years, and he suddenly passed away this past week. He had a headache in the morning, was in the hospital by mid-day, and passed away at 7 PM. 

Cabo Verde has a lot of cultural traditions surrounding death, and because we've been at Gi's house almost everyday this past week, we are now familiar with quite a few of them. When a family member dies you are in mourning for seven days, this means you cannot leave your house, and you wear all black. Gi and his siblings will wear all black for one year, his mom will wear all black for the rest of her life. During that one week friends and family stop by to pay their respects, and then sit out front and play cards or "oril" which is like mancala in America. The night a family member dies you aren't allowed to sleep, starting your period of mourning, and then at the end of seven days you aren't allowed to sleep during the night again, ending your period of mourning. 

Watching Gi loose his dad was a really hard experience, because Gi is probably one of my best friends here in Cabo Verde, and he was on fire for the month following his baptism until this happened. But I'm very grateful that he knew about the Plan of Salvation before this past week because it helped him see this loss with an eternal perspective, and he knows he will see his dad again.

In other news, I hit my one year mark this past week! We had Zone Conference that day and Sister Mathew's gave a great training on teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ as if you were selling a product (the gospel), instead of just teaching a bullet list (faith, repentance, baptism...). We put her training into practice this last week and had one of the most spiritual lessons of my mission because of it with an investigator named Boshe. He came to church this past week and loved it, so hopefully we can mark him for baptism tonight!

I remembered my friend Tayler's mission email for the week she hit one year, she got a takeout pizza... so I decided I would too! Only, takeout pizza is a little different here in Cabo Verde, it's definitely not Little Ceasars! We took it down to Gi's house to share because he had mentioned that he just really missed pizza in America with extra cheese, so we ordered a special for him. The kids on his street had never seen a take out box before but they were stoked to share.

Pizza - to celebrate my one year mark

Other good news is my recent convert, Suely, in Assomada, is having a baby next month. It's a little girl, and she's decided her middle name will be Katherine. I'm pretty pumped about that.

Also, this past week was Carnival and Cinza. We didn't see much action from Carnival (which happened downtown Praia), it was just hard to find lessons on that day; however the day following Carnival is Cinza, and Cinza is a big deal too.

During Cinza, you eat a big lunch of "peixe seco", or dried fish, and sweet potatoes, and this giant leafy.... leaf, and then after lunch you eat cous cous with sugar cane "mel" or honey and sit in the sun. I don't know why they sit in the sun afterwards, but it’s part of the holiday.

Next time I write will be from the island of Santo Antao!

Sister Hanzel

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

"When Thou Art Converted..."

Happy February Everyone!

Well sometimes the days seem long but really time is just flying by. This week I will hit one year on the mission... one year! Dad sent me an email as if I was an RM getting on the plane to head home, and I got really excited about the prospect of peanuts and English, but as I kept reading I was almost in tears. It’s true, leaving the people here is going to be hard. It doesn't help that I'm probably getting transferred here in two weeks to a different island and I'll have to leave my Palmarejo, Praia family and ward. Palmarejo e minha terra!!
Nadine was baptized on Saturday, she's a 15 year-old darling. However, because she's under 18 we had to get permission from her parents, and so our baptism almost didn't happen. 

We went down to her house on Friday to get her mom to sign the ficha (the baptism form), but it didn't matter what we said, her mom's response was they were Catholic and so she was not getting baptized. 

Bummed out of our minds, we went down the street to Gi's house to regroup before continuing on. There's just nothing quite like being at Gi's housel - outside with his ducks and fat Dalmatian, a pot of katchupa rolling over the fire, Grandpa separating beans from pods and Grandma yelling at us to speak Kreolo while she wacks Gi and passers-by with a rod - all while a soccer game goes on in the field below. Good regroup.

So after Gi's we started back up the hill towards our next appointment, but then we got a call from Gi (rather a tchmom, a tchmom is a message you can send to tell someone else to call you so that it uses their saldo or money - a very common message for missionaries) and so we called and he said, "Hey, you have to come to Nadine's house right now."

So we ran back down the hill, and back at Nadine's house where Gi's waiting for us outside with a grin... "I talked to her parents, Nadine's getting baptized on Saturday." Whatever he said worked, not only were they accepting of her baptism but they fully supported her! Her dad signed the ficha (every time we see him now he is just a little drunk and he likes to remind us he is Nadine's dad and her baptism was an honor for us all) and we had a baptism on Saturday. 

Nadine's Baptism
Afterwords we asked Gi what he said... "I just shared my testimony with them, *slight pause*..... I'm boss." Yes Gi, you are.

We also had several converts speak at the baptism service and Gi was one of them, our converts are crushing it!
Entao fika dreito!
Sister Hanzel

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

One earring at at time

So this past week the church put on a world-wide broadcast for all the missionaries, it was about "Teaching Repentance and Baptizing Converts". Sister Oscarson, Elder Bednar, and Elder Oaks were a few of the speakers present. It was really neat! Also kind of hard to understand with the Brazilian-Portuguese translation going on but anything out of the ordinary routine is always a welcome blessing. So yes, now the big mission push is to baptize converts (duh), but also focus more on teaching repentance.

This past week I was in the house for a few days because we had divisions on Friday, but Sister Dorgan, the sister I was on divisions with, had a sprained toe and so we just sat in her room at the Sister Training Leader's house and chatted all night (I also painted my toes) while Sister Rasmussen went out and worked in their area with our other Sister Leader, Sister Haycock. Divisions usually run for 24 hours, lunch to lunch, and so on Saturday morning Sister Dorgan decided she wanted to try and venture out on her toe. However, we got about halfway down the hill and she decided it wasn't worth the pain to walk to her area, so we just decided to do some contacting outside her apartment.
Now, I love contacting, but at noon it's a little..... hot, and not fun. So we made it fun! I challenged her to see if we could each get an earring from a contact before lunch. She accepted the challenge and we ventured out.... looking for men with earrings.
Our first contact actually contacted us. His name was Marcio and he's less active. After reviewing "Our body is a temple..." in a three minute street contact and asking for his earring, his response was, "Oh don't worry Sisters, I wear this earring because it's so small you can't even really tell!" Oh brother.
Our next contact really, truly thought about taking his earring out, we were so close! His name was Antonio and his response was, "Deixa me pensar (let me think about it), come by barber shop next week...". We'll for sure be stopping by.
Next, we contacted a young man named Disdefano, who was actually really cool! We have a follow up appointment with him tonight to teach the first lesson. When we explained our bodies house the spirit of God and so we can't have piercings, and then asked him to take out his earrings, his response was, "Well, my mom doesn't like them anyway." Score! However, the earrings were a gift from his girlfriend and so he wouldn't let us keep them. Darn. 

Loosing fire but never the faith, we stopped to talk to a taxi driver with an earring out washing his car. His name was Joao, and..... success! His earring went to Sister Dorgan. I ran into him again this morning actually, his earring is still out. #doingwork

One earring down and one to go with only seconds left on the clock, we contacted a teenage boy named Valdo, who gave up his earring, and that one went to my earring collection. 
Sister Dorgan and Sister Hanzel, cleaning up Praia one earring at a time. 

One of our earring victors
After the divisions we went home to clean up really quick for our investigator Viviano's baptism. Funny twist to the afternoon though, we didn't think Viviano was going to show up to his baptism and a different investigator of ours, Zinadine (our recent convert Landa's son) showed up to be baptized a week early. The good news is that Viviano had just walked to the church early without us which is why he wasn't at home when we went to pick him up, so all was good there. And then miraculously, our District Leader had stopped by to watch the baptisms and Sister Rasmussen happened to have a blank baptism form in her bag and so we were able to interview Zineadine and baptism him yesterday instead of this week. So we had a goal for one baptism last week but ended up with two. Palmarejo, land of miracles. Also, I would like you to look at the picture of Landa I sent home for her baptism and then look at her in the picture with her son.... doesn't she just glow now?

Well! That's all for now folks, have a great week!
Sister Hanzel

Local children love to get hand sanitizer from the missionaries

Monday, January 18, 2016

God's Many Methods

I love absolutely everything about these people here.

In the district I currently serve, our lower area is called "Fonton".  I love this area and I could see myself living there. A worker from SOS stopped Sister Rasmussen and me in the street this past week and asked if we would be interested in seeing their SOS office in Fonton. "SOS", an organization working here is Cape Verde to help better family life, is interested in our missionary work. Their work is right up my interest alley and so we said yes. She showed us around and explained what they are trying to do. SOS has several stations on this island and within this one station, they have chosen 35 proactive, but needy families with which to serve.  This selection is based on a survey of who could benefit from their help to boost them out of hard situations.

After talking with these workers for a bit about the Family Proclamation, our purpose here as missionaries, and the success we have been seeing in Fonton (they were in shock when we told them we had a good handful of people in Fonton going to 8:30 a.m. church with us), they asked if we could have an activity with several of their families from their program. Um... YES. So this next week we are going to be planning a Family Night, and SOS will be providing the families – a new partnership in looking for ways to better these families’ lives.

The church is true and God works in mysterious ways.


Sister Hanzel

My good friend Heriana (far left) from my first area visited me this past week

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Gospel is for Families

This was an interesting but really great week. I just love this area, our members, recent converts, investigators, and all of it. I'm stoked I will most likely be staying another transfer her with Sister Rasmussen! 
New Year's is a bigger holiday here than Christmas. New Year's festivities last for three days, and they're basically three days of buzof (creole for like, "looking sharp!") people in the streets, and drunks. So teaching was interesting. 
We had four baptisms this last week... giving a total of 12 this transfer. Is Heavenly Father raining blessings in Palmarejo or what? But with that, we now have the happy problem of having baptized all of our investigators. And so... the search is on for new people to teach.
Our goal this transfer is to finish families... we baptized a lot of part families last transfer... and we are hoping to have a lot of Family Home Evenings in our recent converts’ homes and help the rest of their families join the church, because the Gospel is for families! 
I have to tell you about my favorite little family and our Family Home Evening last night. The mom's name is Annie and she has two cute kids, Edson and Etssani. We just helped reactivate Annie and her son Edson was baptized on Saturday. So now we just need to help them stay active. They live on the top floor of a big cement structure on the outskirts of our area.  It takes us around 45 minutes to walk out to them, and after a year on the mission I walk like my Grandma Hanzel now, which means it takes them no less than an hour to get to church. But, they have come every week this transfer and you can already see a difference in their family. 
FHE at Annie's home 
They have never had a Family Home Evening before and so I made them a typical LDS "Family Home Evening" board to help teach them about Family Nights. I had to explain the board several times because it was such a new concept to them, but once the kids caught on they loved it and are excited to switch up the names and pick who will do what every week, just like I remember doing when I was little. The little things in the Gospel make all the difference.   Our "pensamento espiritual" or "spiritual thought" was on the roles of everyone is the family: mom, dad, brother, sister. I think Pai Celestial wants to help us finish families as well. At the end of the night Annie brought out a darling cake she had made, complete with candy on top Elder and Sister Carnell had given them for Christmas. 
This is just one of our amazing families here, seriously, I love Palmarejo
Until mais logo!
Sister Hanzel

Sister Rasmussen, me, Suely, Bishop, Tracy (Suely's sister, a potential investigator)

Sister Rasmussen, me, Jamilson, Bishop, Edivandro

Sister Rasmussen, me, Edson, Bishop, Annie, Etssani, Sister and Elder Carnell