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