Monday, October 26, 2015

Back in Black (and white)!!!

Hey all! It feels so great to be back on the mission! It's a little weird because I almost feel at home but it's just a little different so that I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing here.
Well, to recap if ya didn't know, I went home and hung out on the couch for a month for the surgery, and then had to slowly work out how to walk again. It was cool to see family and friends and everything, but at the same time it felt like life had kinda moved on without me and that I almost didn't belong at home anymore. Netflix just isn't as fulfilling as helping people to come unto Christ, it seems. Anyways, after a nice trip to Disneyland and a good amount of new movies watched to brag about, I started coming back last Monday.
Now I'm in the grand city of Praia! I'm in an area called Varzea, which really reminds me of my first area on the mission... a lot of hills, a lot of dirt, and I can't really understand what anybody's saying except for a few words here and there. The Creole here is so different that it almost feels like I'm starting the mission over again. Except this time I don't feel as lost haha. I'm in a trio right now with Elder Wendt, who's in his second transfer (which means I am now officially a stepfather) and Elder Andrade, an Elder from Fogo who's waiting for his visa so he can go to São Paulo Brazil. They're awesome companions, and this area has a whole lot of people prepared to recieve the gospel! Oh and I was also put as the District Leader here, which nobody told me about until they asked if I was coming to the District Leader training meeting on Wednesday. So it's been a bit of a crazy ride, but I'm happy to be back in business.
We apparently have an investigator whose name is literally Elton John. Elder Wendt and I laughed when we heard this, but Elder Andrade didn't get it. I guess his music's not all that well-known here. But as to other investigators, we marked a baptismal date for a girl named Jovanna on Saturday. We marked for the 14th of November, and she wanted to move it earlier, but we have Stake Conference on the 7th so that didn't work. It's wonderful to see just how prepared she is to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ into her life, and I look forward to working more with her. The only problem is that I can't really understand what she's saying half of the time...
For a spiritual thought today I thought I'd share a story about a man that I met in the airport in Lisbon. I started a conversation with him, and it turned out that he was from Germany, so we talked in English. He started by talking about how he went to Maio once every few months to make money selling the art that he makes there. He then proceeded to make some REALLY racist comments about the people of Cabo Verde, my immediate thought to which was to end the conversation as soon as possible. For some reason though, I felt as though I needed to introduce my religion to him, despite my doubts about his interest. He asked me "so how does one become a missionary for your church?" and I replied "Well, I guess you'd have to start by reading the Book of Mormon" and he became very interested in getting one. I didn't have a Book of Mormon on me, but I gave him the September copy of the Ensign that I was reading and told him to check out if he really wanted to know more about what we believe. It was a neat experience, and I a scripture came to my mind. It was the one where Jesus said "I came not to bring the righteous, but the sinners to repentance" and I just thought about how some people are just lost and don't know that what they do is wrong, and that just makes it all the more necessary to invite these people to investigate the Church.
Well, I hope all of you out there are doing as well as you were when I last talked to you. As said in Badiu (Praia Creole), "Nyos fica direto!"
Elder Penner
p.s. They haven't activated my card with money yet, so I've been living off of all of $15 for the last 5 days. I dare you all to achieve what I have.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Take 2

Yesterday Elder Penner flew back to the Cape Verde islands.

A quick summary.  He broke his ankle on July 6, 2015, flew home to have surgery on July 22, 2015, and on August 31st, he was released to Physical Therapy.  5 weeks later he was cleared back to full activity.  He had been working for a few weeks to get up to the 6 miles a day.  The first few weeks of PT seemed like returning would take a while, but after about 3 weeks...he improved by leaps and bounds every day.  Just 3 weeks later, he was walking 8-10 miles a day and doing great.  

When we returned home from the airport last night, I found a letter in his room that he had written to his grandma but didn't get a chance to mail.  It shows his frame of mind just before his injury.  While he was home, I never once heard him complain or ask why this trial was his.  He just did what he needed to do, and focused on what he could do.  

Here is a copy of that letter.  

Hey Grandma,

To be honest, it’s a little weird to me that you moved.  I keep hearing about new things changing with my family.  Here I am in Africa, thinking that everything is going to be different when I get back home.  Well, at least the people are going to be the same.  I’ve still got a bit of time until I go back, don’t I?

I think one important thing that I’ve been learning here recently is to not give up, especially when the going gets tough.  There’s a lot of things here that can really try to ruin your attitude at times.  People will say that they believe in your words, but don’t want to follow them.  Others will say they have faith, but not enough to stop working on Sundays.  And sometimes they’ll turn your water off for a few days.  The funny thing is, all of these things are trying to get me down, but in general my attitude is only getting better every day that I spend here.  It truly shows me that as long as I put my trust in the Lord, he won’t let my heart stay disheartened.  He has and will give me strength to carry on, even in my weakness.  If you don’t believe that He can help you, how are you going to convince others that He can help them?

Anyways, hope you are well and I hope this letter doesn’t take too long to get to your new house.  

Elder Penner