Monday, February 23, 2015

Mr. President?

Yep, still love this place. The people here are so awesome and open, they'll always let you into their houses, whether they know you well or you're a stranger. I love the people. And they say the funniest stuff, too. There was a guy (probs drunk, half the population is constantly drunk here) who was upset when we got his friend's phone number and not his, so we got our planners back out and asked him his number, and he said he didn't have a phone! We laughed pretty hard at that. There's another guy we just met who thinks I look like Bill Clinton. I don't know.  And yeah, like I said, half the people here are constantly drunk. You have to be careful or else they'll try to talk to you about the Bible and how nobody else but them ever wants to hear the true word of God, but they of course do.

I think there were more drunk people this week, though, because it just happened to be Carnival. Mindelo happens to have the second largest Carnival celebration in the world. We're not positive, but we think it ended yesterday. It started the Sunday before, but the main celebration was on Tuesday. The streets were completely empty, and only like two of our appointments were actually there. The Zone Leaders told us to go home at 6:30 just because they were worried about too many drunk people. Nothing really happened in our area. We saw some wicked awesome costumes, though. I didn't get to take pics, but they were wild!

The food here is pretty weird for me, but my companion from Portugal says it's not really that much different from there. I mean, we eat rice with pretty much every meal, and the only meats here are fish and chicken with the very rare beef, but other than that it's not crazy different, I guess. For breakfast I usually have a fruit, a yogurt, and a cereal that's kinda like Honey Bunches of Oats. There's only like 5 cereals to choose from on the entire island. And my companion has this stuff that's kinda like oatmeal, but you add cold milk and tastes like crap to me. I've had cous-cous (I think that's how you spell it) though, and it's really good, kinda like cake, but not really. It's hard to explain. The desserts here are all weird. They have donuts and chocolate cake, though! And all of the bread here is to die for.  There's this coconut bread that I love and I don't even like coconut. I'm doing pretty good here with food. The fish here is actually bearable. Not awesome, but bearable. My biggest thing to adjust to is that we don't have an hour for dinner, because the people here can't feed us. We just take 2 hours and make a big lunch. I'm pretty good now, but it was hard for a while.

Other than that, it's just been all-around awesome. Everybody here will accept the invitations that we give them, like they'll say they believe and that they'll read the Book of Mormon and everything, but we get there the next time and they didn't do it. Almost every time. But we're working hard on stressing the importance and some people get it, so that's good. We have a lot of baptisms set up for the 14th next month, but that requires these people to get to church! We talked with about 30 people to get to church who all swore on their mothers' graves that they'll get to church, and 9 showed up. My companion says that's about normal. There's a family we met about a week ago that I have a lot of hope for, because they really are interested, and they prayed to know it's true and they got to church yesterday and everything. We'll see what happens, I guess! 

Only 3 more weeks in this transfer, it feels so short to me! I hope I get to stay and work with these people a little longer, maybe, but I also am really curious about the rest of Cabo Verde!  From what my companion says, every place is pretty unique here. I think it would be really rad to be assistant to the mission president at one point, so I can visit all of the islands for Zone Conferences and stuff like that. I'm kind of at a point where I want the rest of my mission to happen all at once. Gotta learn this language a little better, first.

Hope everyone's having as much fun as I am! Love you all!

Elder Penner

Monday, February 16, 2015


Jordan’s brothers were very interested in what they eat in Cabo Verde, so his letter this week is about that. He promises a more detailed email about his missionary work next week.  He spent a lot of his computer time trying to get drop box setup so he can share more pictures with us. 

He answered:  We just eat chicken, rice, and beans, mostly. My companion's good with spices, though, which is awesome. Most of the people here can't afford to feed us dinner, so we basically just take 2 hours for lunch instead. Took me a couple of days to get used to that. But we found this really awesome place which is basically a house made into a restaurant, which serves a really big meal for only 200$ (which is like 3 bucks in our money) per person. It's awesome. Stuff here is cheap, when you see it in relative to American money.

My companion told me that the juice here would make me sick when I first drank it, because they use unfiltered water to make it. I've drunk quite a bit of juice from a couple different places, and I've honestly been fine. No problems, whatsoever. My companion was freaking out a bit.

Seriously, though, I've talked to other American elders in my zone, and they haven't been any worse than a few fevers and some intense diarrhea.

I'm doing great! Missing home a little more than I did at the MTC, but still determined to work hard! I am in physical pain trying to imagine a hot shower.  My companion can speak English, but sometimes I have to translate for him because he's Portuguese.  It can get lonely at times.  I am learning a lot from him even though sometimes it is hard to communicate.  They say it takes 2 transfers to get the language down.  I admit, I am looking forward to that. 

Oh yeah. We play intense soccer for 2 hours every P-day. I'm not even bad, which is really surprising for me. I've assumed my rightful place as front and center striker, of course.

 Last but not least, a great pic of the city from the mountain I have to hike every day to get to some investigators (I get a nice workout, let me tell ya)

Monday, February 9, 2015

The 3 day journey to Cabo Verde

The last week at the MTC was pretty normal, besides the fact that it was my birthday! Thank you to everyone who sent me Dear Elders, it took me a while to sort them out, but I got it. It was a really nice surprise. We ate the cupcakes and let loose a confetti blaster that sounded like a shotgun (I thought we would get in trouble, it was so loud). Also, missionaries going to Portugal got surprise reassignments. There was a lot of crying. Turns out that most of the visas came the very next day. Only 4 people still had to go to their reassignments, out of 20 or so. So that's good. Sister Savage and Sister Jarnagin from our district went to Arcadia, California and Tucson, Arizona. The people going to Portugal had to wait another day in the MTC for their visas to show up.

Well, then we left for Cabo Verde at 6am last Tuesday. The flights through Atlanta up to Madrid were pretty uneventful, and we only got like 3 hours of sleep each during those 12 hours. When we arrived in Madrid, Elder Masubelele and Elder Maake (from South Africa) got taken away by customs, and we had no idea why. We waited for about an hour, until the cops came back without the elders and told us that their visas wouldn't get them through, and that they would be sent back to Atlanta. We went right away to find a phone. The airport was big, and had literally no phones anywhere. When we finally found one, everything was in Spanish, so we had no clue how to work it, of course. When we finally found the language button, we tried calling an operator to hook us up with the MTC Travel Office. The operator hung up when the electronic greeting came on. We were pretty ticked off about that. Finally, after 2 hours trying to work them, I finally managed to get the cards my parents gave me to work. Elder Massey called his mom, who helped us contact everyone. It took them 3 hours to tell us what to do. They told us to get on the next flight to Lisbon. We were like "we could have done that hours ago". The next flight wasn't for another 3 hours, so we had to wait even longer. We ended up spending about 10 hours or so in Madrid. I don't really like Spain anymore.

Well, once we got to Portugal, the Mission President, Brother Fluckiger, and his wife let us stay at their house. They're really awesome people. The food was awesome, the view was fantastic, and people were a lot nicer there than the Spanish. We took the next flight to Cabo Verde, at 1pm the next day. We had probably the worst in-flight meal I've ever had. Some weird cheese crepe. So gross. But anyways, when we got there, we met President Matthews, and he told me to stay at the airport, I was going straight to my area! I met my companheiro, Elder Figuereido (I think that's right) at the airport. He´s a super awesome person, really strong missionary, and a Portuguese native who learned English on the mission! (I was grateful for that.) We landed in Sao Vincente, and the ZLs took us to our residence in Mindelo. We're in the 5th ward in the stake here, I think there's only one stake on the island.

The ward I'm in is kinda in the ghetto, with garbage all over the streets. Our apartment is nice, except the fact that it smells funny, was absolutely disgusting looking when we arrived (we had to ask a member to clean it for us, we didn't have time), and the showers are forever cold. There are stray dogs everywhere, every one of which will growl and bark at you. Also, I can't understand the slightest bit of Creole, so I've been basically sitting in lessons looking lost, bearing a short testimony when my companheiro looks at me.

In all honesty, I'm pretty much having the time of my life! The city is absolutely beautiful, and the night sky is so clear I can't even describe it. Soooo nice. Even though I can't understand anyone, they're all really understanding and nice. Like they'll let absolute strangers into their house if they ask. Everyone. Also, on Saturday my companheiro asked me if I could give the invitations to read the Book of Mormon, pray about it, and be baptized if they confirm it. I was nervous at first, but the first person I invited, George, accepted! We even have his baptism set for the 28th! We also found another investigator who we put for the same date, named Claudia. The problem is, we asked both to come to church, and neither were home when we showed up on Sunday. Also, we're 99% certain that George has a serious smoking problem. He has a good heart, though. When we showed the picture of the First Vision, he literally just burst into tears on the spot. It was so cool. I love it here, I love the people (who I can't understand, but my companheiro says my Portuguese is good, so at least they can understand me!), and I love serving! We had a Zone Meeting on Saturday, and the other Elders here are awesome. They said it took about 2 transfers for them to have any idea what was going on during lessons. I hope it doesn't take that long for me, 3 months without any clue seems really long. I'm still having a fun time, and can't wait to get back out there!

Hope everyone is doing well,
Elder Penner

All the Cabo Verde missionaries at the MTC
All the Cabo Verde missionaries at the MTC

Portugal Mission home

The 6 of us that made it through to Portugal

The view from my apartment