Monday, December 26, 2016

We Wish You A Merry Christmas

Hey all, not much time to write this week because I spent some time talking to my family over skype, but I did want to let you all know that I love you all and I wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Our Christmas day was spent mostly finding a lot of really cool new people, and also trying to set up a Skype session for a family trying to talk to their son who's serving a mission in Brazil. Sadly, they weren't able to talk, but now we just confirmed that they will be talking this Wednesday! So we'll probably have a lot of fun with that, because they'll need us to help out again. We got a lot of cake this last week, which is a blessing and a burden at the same time, because now I'll have to lose the few pounds I'll gain.


Shout out to my brother who's leaving on his mission tomorrow! The next time we skype, we'll be on the other end of the line. Hope you have a good one, Cam! Don't freak out because you don't understand anyone for a few months!

Anyways, hope everyone's Christmas was as wonderful as I felt this year. Remember the true meaning of Christmas, which is Christ of course. Keep him in your thoughts, as well as your words and actions this year! #SejaALuzDoMundo!!!

Boas Festas,
Elder Penner


Monday, December 19, 2016

Winter Wonderland

The weather is finally coming to the point where I feel at least a little bit of chill outside, which means that it's going to be a nice Cabo Verdeano winter once again! The biggest news out there is that snow fell on Fogo, up in Chã das Caldeiras, the little town on the volcano's crater. Probably nothing more than a few snowflakes, but I still think that's impressive. I guess there will be snow in Africa this Christmas. Eat your heart out, Bono.


I'm getting to know the area a lot better, and I was even able to handle a short division with a couple of other missionaries visiting for the Christmas Party. I've come to notice that Sal is like a great big melting pot of all of Cape Verde. There are very few people that are actually born here, most people come from Mindelo or Santo Antão, although I've met quite a few people from Santiago and even a few from Fogo. There isn't a set Creole here, so I hear every Creole from every island I've been on. It's the greatest thing ever, basically. Almost everyone here works in the big hotels that they have for the tourists, which is by far Sal's biggest export. There are so many tourists, all the time. People get confused here and think we're tourists, like today we were walking by some High School kids that were making fun of us in Creole, and Elder Teela just said "we understand you, you know" and they all freaked out so hard it was pretty funny.


Our biggest problem that we have right now is that we don't have any really progressing investigators. Like we are working with a lot of people, but we're also working to find a lot of new people because the ones we are working with are either not progressing, or are just following what we say without really doing these things for themselves. There's a really cool guy that were working with named Helton. He's married to an English woman who's living in England right now. He was on his way there with her, but somewhere on the way somebody lost an important document so he could stay in England, so he was sent back here and has been working on going out again ever since. He had no idea when things would happen, so we had a baptismal date marked with him, but he just received his passport and his wife said that she wants to be there for his baptism. We can't really argue with that, especially because he could be heading back in a few weeks. I like the guy anyways, although he has a ways to go before he could even be baptized here.


I almost forgot to mention that we had our Zone Christmas Party last week! It was the smallest party that I have ever seen here, with a grand total of 16 people. The Zone of Sal is small. I make more calls than my Zone Leaders do every night. Anyways, we did a little play on A Christmas Carol as a skit this year, where Elder Green acted like Ebeneezer Scrooge as he told us if we didn't have good enough numbers he would take away our Skyping privileges on Christmas. He was visited by 3 ghosts who showed him the error of his ways, and in the end he learned the importance of teaching people and not lessons. President and Sister Mathews gave their training on Obedience, which reminded me that there are always things that I can improve on. Sister Mathews really made a point when mentioning that every little thing that we do can have a bigger impact than we think. We saw a video that had tons of baptismal pictures that people had sent in, and I saw a lot of members and old investigators that I hadn't seen for a long time. It was really nice, and helped me to notice how much this country has touched me.



Well, other than the fact that the entire city of Espargos is pretty much out of water because they like the tourists over in Santa Maria more than us (probably because they have more money) not much else has been happening. The work is still the work, and it's still fun! Hope you all have a Very Merry Christmas! I'm just giddy to talk to my family in a week!

Boas Festas,
Elder Penner

Monday, December 12, 2016

White Christmas

Boa Tarde from the wonderful city of Espargos (Asparagus) on the island of Sal (Salt)! What a weird country, naming places after food. Sal is the most deserty of all of the islands of Cape Verde, but it's also the most popular one for tourists to pass through, which you can probably see why with the picture I sent with me on the beach. That's why I called my update White Christmas. There are so many white people here that it freaks me out a bit. 

Everything here is twice as expensive as everywhere else in this country. Now that may seem ridiculous, but you have to understand at the same time, the difference is between paying 50 cents or a dollar for an entire kilo of flour. Also, the shwarma here is one of the most wonderful things that I've eaten in my life, without a doubt. Our Zone is probably the smallest in the world. It consists of my District which has 4 duplas of missionaries, and the island of Boa Vista, which has one dupla. 10 missionaries.

My companion is Elder Teela. I'm serving in the area of Achada Matias. What a wonderful area we have! Elder Teela had a baptism every single week of last transfer. I'm super stoked. We actually had a baptism this last week as well! It's a kid named David. He's 14 years old, and his mom and older sister are already members. I didn't really do much for it, but it was still pretty neat to see.

Other things are mostly a blur for me. We went to a bit of a Recent Convert's wedding. I spent most of my time standing in a corner or following my companion around. I guess the mission hasn't stopped my awkwardness completely. Still, I'm getting to know a lot of cool people. Also, super crazy: Jason Derulo came to Cape Verde apparently? A member went to his concert because she worked on this one really nice hotel in Santa Maria and he came to commemorate it or something. I don't know but we saw a little video of him singing "Trumpets" on a member's phone so we believe it. Crazy, huh?

Life is wonderful, and I'm super stoked to work here! Also stoked for Christmas #LightTheWorld #GitStoked


Have a wonderful week!

Abraço,
Elder Penner

Monday, December 5, 2016

With or Without You

It's official today. The 7 other missionaries who I arrived with will have their final dinner and interview with President, and then late late tonight they will board their flight. Home. Some may ask, how am I feeling about this, knowing I have another 4 months before going home? Missing Christmas with the family? Waiting another term of school to move on with my life?



The answer is: fine, actually. I always knew that I'd be alright, but a couple of days last week I was still feeling a bit sad about it. Last night I received a strong witness that the place I most needed to be was here. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to be home with my family to pass the holidays, and I am in a way excited to see what life has next for me. However, these next 4 months are so important for me and I couldn't miss them for anything. I guess I actually can live with or without you.

This week has been filled with a whole lot of new people. Now that a fair portion of our area is no longer ours, we found a considerable gap in our investigator pool. We knocked doors this week like I've never knocked doors before on my mission. The progress has been gradual, but we've managed to find a lot of cool people, actually.

One couple that we've been working with for a little while, but I've never gotten around to mentioning them. Their names are Txida and Euritz (pronounced Cheetah and yoo-reets, I honestly have no idea how to write their names actually) and they're super cool. Txida is super estudious in religion and stuff. He doesn't follow a specific faith, but studies with all. He has a Bible that has books that are from the Apocrypha. Most people have touched the Bible once or twice in their lives. We had a really really cool conversation last night, and its one of the reasons I felt like I belong. I realized that the Lord wanted me there that time because it was me. I don't know if someone else could have done better than me at responding to his doubts, but I felt the Spirit so strong in me that it was wonderful. I hope that he can come to realize that this is the truth. It's just hard to find them both home at the same time, so we never know when we'll be able to talk to them. We'll get it, though.

Erineu and Ronice went with us to the Registro on last Tuesday. The people there told them that they were going to work for marriage on the 10th, which got us super stoked! However, they were supposed to get a call the next day to confirm the IDs of the godmother and godfather (it's necessary to have one here) but they never did. Also the ward council said that on no uncertain terms they wouldn't have enough time to throw a wedding reception. It'll probably happen at a later date, and at this point, the prospect might be for January. We're sad, but we're going to plan well so we don't have to push things forward any more. They've been ready for a while.



Life is good, and transfers are in a couple of days! Wherever I go (or not) I wish you all a great week and a wonderful Holiday Season!

Abraço,
Elder Penner

Monday, November 28, 2016

In the Cold, Cold Night



As the nights get darker and darker, I can't help but be reminded of the
White Stripes song with such a simple guitar riff. Although it never gets
cold enough here as it does back home, sometimes it would be nice to wear a
sweater.

As to more important things, Jusara (learned how to spell her name this
week) was baptized and confirmed this last weekend! The funny story for
this one is that we had the baptism scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday
Afternoon. We had seen Jusara just a half hour before the service, which
looked perfect. However, we waited until almost 4:30 for her to show up,
with everyone that came, including another ward who was doing a joint
service with us. She doesn't have a phone, so we decided to run over to her
house. We got there, worried that something had happened or she was having
second thoughts, and found her... still getting ready. The most obvious
statement of the week was, "I'm late, aren't I?" and we were like well
yeah!!! Now we're laughing about it, so it's all good! Such a great
experience in all! 


At the same time, some sad news to report. Our part of Ribeira da Craquinha
is now in possession of the Sisters on the other side of our ward. That
means that Yannick's family, Jusara, Marina and Elisio, and Mario will now
go to them, to name just a few. Both Recent Converts and some of our
coolest investigators. It's really sad. We were talking to this one family
Nady and David for the last time, and in his prayer, David said "also
please don't let the Elders leave" and we were like noooo you can't say
thaaaaaaat! It was sad, but it needed to happen at some point. Sister
McClellan met some people that she knew from when she did a Humanitarian
EFY trip here, so it also seemed to fit.

We met a new family in Craquinha yesterday that we're going to give to the
Sisters. They lived in a part waaaaay out that we didn't even know existed.
They walk up to Monte Verde every weekend to the plantations that they have
there. They had visited a lot of churches, but had found something they
didn't seem to be right with every one. They were just like "we're only
looking for the true Church of Jesus Christ, but can't seem to find it!"
Well, we had just the thing for them. What a good lesson. Now the Sisters
will be able to work with this family as well, the lucky things.

In happier news, we finally get to mark a date for Erineu and Ronisse's
wedding! We've been impatiently waiting for that for the past month, so
we're stoked that we can actually make some hard plans. Wish us luck! So
stoked to work as hard as ever! Loving life!



Hope you all are great! Our Thanksgiving was nothing special, just some
chicken and a ton of mashed potatoes (I insisted that we make 2kgs of
potatoes and I ate most of them) but it was really good, so we didn't mind.
Can't wait for the Christmas season to really start kicking in this
country! #SejaALuzDoMundo #LightTheWorld

Abraço,
Elder Penner

Monday, November 21, 2016

The House of the Rising Sun

I can't remember who sang this originally, actually. I mostly mention it because I've heard it at least 3 times in the past week when I never really expected to hear that song in this country. Also a couple of Michael Jackson songs I had never even heard. Nice.




Now that I don't have a weird line in front of my paragraph, let me tell you about the week. The main event of the week was a Zone Conference presided by Elder Patrick Kearon of the Seventy. He's the President of the Europe Area right now. With his funny English accent and his hilarious but also spiritual capabilities made it the best Zone Conference I've ever been to. My favorite part was when Elder Kearon was demonstrating the importance we should give in the invitation to be baptized. he pulled me up and asked me what's something I really, really wanted. Typical me said "a trip to space." He then looks me dead in the eyes, and says something like this: "Jordan, (he literally asked me my first name to do this,) now I have been talking for the past 6 years with Elon Musk just for you. And now, after all these years, I'm happy to announce that you will be accompanying Elon Musk..." and then he broke off laughing harder than ever. I was in tears in front of my entire Zone. I think in that moment I reached Nirvana. I even learned a lesson from it, that we should act like we're giving the greatest gift that there is to be given! Because we literally are! What a wonderful experience. The theme of the whole thing was "Just stop worrying," so that's what I plan to do.


Since that day, I've felt a true peace in my work, and in everything I do. We had 5 investigators in church yesterday, which was another wonderful feeling. Our investigator Mario is a really, really cool guy! He came with us to this thing called Integration Night, which is designed to help new people be more familiar with the members of the church, and the next day he came to church by himself! He's really excited about everything, and loves to talk with us. The only thing is that he's incredibly shy. He doesn't really want to respond to some questions that we give. It's not really a bad thing, but we'll need to find him a good friend. He knows a guy that we'll get involved this week.

Other than that, Juçara passed her baptismal interview, meaning she'll be baptized this next Saturday! We're really excited for her, and she's becoming good friends with Yannick and his whole family. Things are really looking up for December as well! I'm just loving life!

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. My comp and I will probably be having a humble one on Thursday. Love you all!

Elder Penner


He included pictures from his district's trip to the tallest mountain on the island.  As you can see it was very foggy.  I hope the fog brought some relief from the heat for them.  







Monday, November 14, 2016

Be Above It




Disclaimer: As a missionary, I'm not allowed to discuss really my political opinion. However, I do want to mention that as I learned early Wednesday morning that Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, I realized just how disattached I really am from things that happen back home. I realized that I was so ingrained into what I'm doing here that these things just don't have any real importance to me. Even seeing the flash of the Fantastic Beasts trailers on local TVs doesn't really affect me too much. I just think of how I was almost literally set apart from these things of the world. That's why I chose the Tame Impala song, because "I know that I gotta be above it now."

We had an absolutely incredible week. Something about it just got us powering through with a lot of energy. One thing that was notable was that we found a lot of new people that seemed to show some real interest in hearing the Gospel. For example, we ran into this one woman named Carolina that really wanted us to help her 40 year old son Mario with his drinking problem. As we taught him he showed such a sincere desire to change for the better, that we really felt impressed to share the message of the Restoration. Yesterday when we visited he said that he had received an answer of the truth of these things! We felt that he needed a priesthood blessing, so we asked if he believed in Jesus Christ and that His authority was restored on the Earth again. He said yes, so we gave him a powerful blessing. It was really spiritual, so I think we'll hear a lot more from him.

In other great news, Elisio finally got to church!!! After missing him again last week, we asked Marina to show us his house. After finding his house, we just decided to show up on Sunday morning to knock on his door. We went up to his parents and they were like "he lives on the street behind us, but he's asleep right now." So we went back there and asked where his door was and they just said "but he's asleep right now!" so we insisted and they showed us. Sure enough, he was asleep, but he woke up and said he'd go with Marina. We go over to Marina's house and said that Elisio was coming, but she said "but he's asleep!" We were like we know we woke him up! People have this strange thing here that they think just because someone is asleep that they have absolutely no right to wake them up. Well, we woke him up and he ended up coming to Stake Conference, which just made our entire week! Moral of the story: this country needs to learn D&C 88:124.

Juçara is going absolutely great as well. She doesn't talk a whole lot and is a little shy, especially at Conference yesterday. However, she feels the Spirit, and Yannick's family has been so good at being there for her, especially the 13 year old daughter Lily. We think that she's going super well, so that means that we could be having 3 baptisms on the 26th of this month! Marina and Elisio are going strong for it as well! The Lord just seems to keep blessing us with these incredible people. I'm so blessed to be here.

One thing that was kinda lame, but not super lame: Erineu and Ronisse, that were supposed to be married on the 25th so Ronisse could be baptized on the 26th, can't be married on that day anymore. We went to the Registro (can't remember the name in English) with Erineu to mark a date for the marriage, but they said that they were super busy, so they now have to come back on the 29th just to mark a date! We were a little bummed out, but it'll still happen in December so we're still stoked for them. I just hope that both Elder Ronces and I can still be here! Transfers happens the first week of December.

Something unimaginable happened at Stake Conference yesterday. We met a native Cape Verdean who had actually been to Brentwood, California. It's a miracle that he's even heard of it, let alone been there! Most people know California, but think that California is a city that's relatively close to Boston, Massachusets. It blows their minds when we tell them how far it actually is, and how many cities are part of it. Apparently this guy used to live in Orange County. I feel like I've made one of the craziest connections that I'll ever make in my life.

Life is great! We'll have Zone Conference with Elder Kearon this week! He's the President of our Area, so it should be good! Hope you all are well, have a good week!

Abraço,
Elder Penner

p.s. Is Thanksgiving this week or next week? I can never remember how it works...

Disclaimer: As a missionary, I'm not allowed to discuss really my political opinion. However, I do want to mention that as I learned early Wednesday morning that Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, I realized just how disattached I really am from things that happen back home. I realized that I was so ingrained into what I'm doing here that these things just don't have any real importance to me. Even seeing the flash of the Fantastic Beasts trailers on local TVs doesn't really affect me too much. I just think of how I was almost literally set apart from these things of the world. That's why I chose the Tame Impala song, because "I know that I gotta be above it now."

We had an absolutely incredible week. Something about it just got us powering through with a lot of energy. One thing that was notable was that we found a lot of new people that seemed to show some real interest in hearing the Gospel. For example, we ran into this one woman named Carolina that really wanted us to help her 40 year old son Mario with his drinking problem. As we taught him he showed such a sincere desire to change for the better, that we really felt impressed to share the message of the Restoration. Yesterday when we visited he said that he had received an answer of the truth of these things! We felt that he needed a priesthood blessing, so we asked if he believed in Jesus Christ and that His authority was restored on the Earth again. He said yes, so we gave him a powerful blessing. It was really spiritual, so I think we'll hear a lot more from him.

In other great news, Elisio finally got to church!!! After missing him again last week, we asked Marina to show us his house. After finding his house, we just decided to show up on Sunday morning to knock on his door. We went up to his parents and they were like "he lives on the street behind us, but he's asleep right now." So we went back there and asked where his door was and they just said "but he's asleep right now!" so we insisted and they showed us. Sure enough, he was asleep, but he woke up and said he'd go with Marina. We go over to Marina's house and said that Elisio was coming, but she said "but he's asleep!" We were like we know we woke him up! People have this strange thing here that they think just because someone is asleep that they have absolutely no right to wake them up. Well, we woke him up and he ended up coming to Stake Conference, which just made our entire week! Moral of the story: this country needs to learn D&C 88:124.

Juçara is going absolutely great as well. She doesn't talk a whole lot and is a little shy, especially at Conference yesterday. However, she feels the Spirit, and Yannick's family has been so good at being there for her, especially the 13 year old daughter Lily. We think that she's going super well, so that means that we could be having 3 baptisms on the 26th of this month! Marina and Elisio are going strong for it as well! The Lord just seems to keep blessing us with these incredible people. I'm so blessed to be here.

One thing that was kinda lame, but not super lame: Erineu and Ronisse, that were supposed to be married on the 25th so Ronisse could be baptized on the 26th, can't be married on that day anymore. We went to the Registro (can't remember the name in English) with Erineu to mark a date for the marriage, but they said that they were super busy, so they now have to come back on the 29th just to mark a date! We were a little bummed out, but it'll still happen in December so we're still stoked for them. I just hope that both Elder Ronces and I can still be here! Transfers happens the first week of December.

Something unimaginable happened at Stake Conference yesterday. We met a native Cape Verdean who had actually been to Brentwood, California. It's a miracle that he's even heard of it, let alone been there! Most people know California, but think that California is a city that's relatively close to Boston, Massachusets. It blows their minds when we tell them how far it actually is, and how many cities are part of it. Apparently this guy used to live in Orange County. I feel like I've made one of the craziest connections that I'll ever make in my life.

Life is great! We'll have Zone Conference with Elder Kearon this week! He's the President of our Area, so it should be good! Hope you all are well, have a good week!

Abraço,
Elder Penner

p.s. Is Thanksgiving this week or next week? I can never remember how it works...


Monday, November 7, 2016

Radio GaGa

As the Queen song rightly states, sometimes radio ga ga is all we hear. I feel like there's been a lot of ga ga happening that has tried to distract us and other people around here. I've been hearing a lot about the US elections, which is honestly the last thing I want to hear about. Also, this week I saw a trailer for the new Fantastic Beasts movie coming out, and in so doing saw and heard way too much for me to be thinking about here. Thirdly, a game between Benfica and Porto yesterday meant that 80% of the population here were busy at that time.

And yet life goes on! Yesterday we had a couple of incredible lessons, despite the game. The first one was the first time that we marked with Bispo to go teach with us. We talked to one of our lesser progressing investigators, Claudia. It's hard to meet with her, because even though she has a marido, he's never there at the same time she is. The lesson that we had with Bispo was incredible because when Bispo explained how he learned the truth of the Restoration, he explained it in a way that Claudia seemed to totally related with! She was super attentive every time that he spoke, and she seemed even more determined to search for the truth by the time we left. Bispo's such a cool guy, and he even asked to leave with us more this week!


Another cool thing that happened this past week was a lesson we had with Adilson and Lenira (the delicious ice cream treats people). We taught them about the first principles and ordenances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with a focus on baptism. Lenira was pretty doubtful when we explained that the baptism she made in the Catholic Church wasn't enough because it didn't have the right authority. We went right back to testifying about the Prophet Joseph Smith and how we know that this church does have that restored authority. I think she finally understood why it was so important to ask of God. Because we still don't have copies of the Book of Mormon to hand out, Elder Ronces lent them his so they could read 3 Nephi 11 and learn what Jesus Christ had to say on the matter of baptism. When we passed yesterday, they said they read! The only bad thing about it all was that we marked to take them to church but we didn't write it down, so we forgot! I felt pretty dumb about that, but they forgave us and said we could try again for this next week.

I think the coolest of all moments this week was with Marina and Elisio. Having taught them the Law of Chastity, we wanted to get them planning for marriage. As they don't live together, it's not technically necessary before baptism, but they have 2 children together so we weren't sure. We decided to take Totone and Maria over to talk to them about their experience. It was honestly one of the most perfect lessons I've ever been in on my mission. Their experience was similar enough that when they talked, you could just tell that Marina and Elisio were feeling the Spirit testify of marriage to them. They talked about how they wanted to marry, but they didn't have any way to sustain themselves. Then, suddenly, I got the impression that they didn't need to marry before baptism. I asked if they were willing to completely obey the Law of Chastity, and to be baptized by the end of the month. They agreed. So now the biggest obstacle is for Elisio to get to church. We'll definitely take care of that this week.

Anyways, This was a pretty good sized update for me, so I think I'll leave it at that. I love the Holy Ghost, and the way it's able to testify through me. Remember that this church is so freaking true. Love you all!

Abraço,
Elder Penner


Monday, October 31, 2016

Cemeteries of London


 

"God is in the houses, and God is in my head"

There you go. Managed to reference Halloween, Coldplay, and even express my
state of being for this past week. I had a really good time this past week!
Transfers happened this last week, which means that Elder Ronces and I are
staying. Elder Ronces and I have set down a really solid groove now, which
is working well for the both of us. I also feel that I'm a lot more
confident on knowing what to do and who to contact if we need anything. We
found the greatest place to get sorvetes here this week! They're like
frozen sweets that you can get in a bag or on a stick, like popsicles.
Except these sorvetes are a lot like icecream. It's like eating a little
pouch of chocolate or cookie flavored ice cream. It's the best!

For some strange reason, we weren't able to really talk to most of our more
progressing investigators this week, and most of the people we contacted
weren't interested in our message. I haven't really encountered anything
like it in our area until now. Despite this, my energy to teach and find
people has greatly increased recently. I felt that, even though the powers
of Satan tried to attack us in some way, we weren't even bothered.

We found ourself talking in English with a couple of our investigators this
week. First off, this man named Miguel, who's the dad of a couple of
investigators we had, asked that we pass by and help him with his
pronunciation of English. So we gave about a half an hour to help him out.
He thanked us, and even asked that we offer a prayer to leave him off! Then
yesterday we talked with this guy Fredy that we met on the street, who
asked us to teach him in English. We were hesitant at first because we
first and foremost wanted him to understand our message, but it became
apparent that he understood us well. He really wants to learn more about
the gospel, as well as have a Book of Mormon in English!

Our main success (and our only investigator to come to church yesterday)
was Erineu's girlfriend Ronisse. Even though she's a pretty shy person,
she's participating in our lesso





ns and in the classes at church, which is
great news! The more we talk about marriage with them, the more excited
they are for the 25th of this next month. It looks like we're going to have
a marriage for the month of November!

Funny story: yesterday we saw a bunch of drunk guys with a couple of
guitars coming the other way, and Elder Ronces commented that they were
going to serenade us. That's exactly what they did! They sang some popular
Christiany song, and they expected us to sing along, haha. I need to learn
one of those songs, really.

Happy Halloween! Hope your week goes well!

Abraço,
Elder Penner



Monday, October 24, 2016

Whispers in the Dark

As the new transfer rolls around this week, I hear the whispers of missionaries around me: will I stay? will I go? Who's going to train the supposed 10 new sister missionaries that are coming to the mission? It's all good fun, as long as you don't spend too much time fretting about it or acting like you're going to leave. Due to the fact that Elder Ronces have barely had 2 weeks together, we're pretty segure that nothing will happen to us. I mean, we're only just getting started in this area!

One of the best things that happened this past week is the spiritual progress of Marina and Elisio. We finally managed to get them a copy of the Book of Mormon, and both of them told us this week that they read and prayed about the truthfulness of the book. Both of them felt very strongly that it's true. I especially was touched by Elisio's reaction, because even before he had prayed he told us that he felt it was true when we taught him. I love the power of the Spirit, and what it brings into the hearts of these good people. Marina ended up being the only investigator that ended going to church this week, for the second time! We don't know yet why Elisio didn't go, but we'll see what's going on with him this week. I have super high hopes for them to be baptized by the end of next month!

This week we also found a very interesting character named Cristiano. He works a store, so it's a little hard to talk to him while he has to attend people every 5-10 minutes, but we still have managed to have some good discussions. The second time we visited him, he told us that he had prayed to know if this church was what he should do, and he felt like he should just worship God in his own way. We talked about it, and he eventually told us that he didn't like how a lot of churches were threatening the continent of Africa... I was a little confused about that, but we had a good talk about why we need the restored priesthood authority to know God's will. At the end of the lesson, he asked us in English "Do you like Africa? Because if you like Africa, then I am your friend!" We laughed a bit and assured him we like Africa. Funny guy. He also expressed interest in visiting the church, which is a good sign.

We're very excited for the opportunity that seems to be abounding in the month of November! Next time I write, it'll be Halloween, for which I'll probably just get some candy bar or something. It's not really a thing here. Hope you all have a good one, though!

Abraço,
Elder Penner

Monday, October 17, 2016

Falling Slowly

I pull my inspiration from a musical called Once this week. I haven't actually seen it, to tell the truth, but my friend showed me this one song from it and I think it's a very touching song. I'm honestly surprised that I remember it. I feel that sometimes as a missionary things seem to go downhill gradually no matter how you try. In my interview with President Mathews last week, he shared with me that at the point where I'm at in the mission, a lot of missionaries feel like they've hit a plateau in their improvement. He explained that there are no such things as real plateaus, only ups or downs. So if you feel like you've plateaued, you really gotta make sure you're not falling slowly.

This last week was more of a refresher for me than anything else. The interview I had with President was a real rejuvinator, to be sure. Also, because I had been sick the week beforehand, my new companion Elder Ronces and I had the work of picking our area and our investigator pool back up to speed. Seeing as we found a lot of new families, I feel like we did just that! We found a total of 20 new investigators.

Sadly, Patrick was not baptized this past Saturday. He actually doesn't even want to talk to us anymore. On Monday evening he expressed concern that he wouldn't be able to keep the Law of Chastity with his girlfriend. We encouraged him that the Lord would help him to keep worthy, but he didn't seem to think that it was an option. He kept asking if he could go to church without being baptized. We told him yeah, but an important part of living the gospel is also living the commandments. After a couple of days we went to visit him again, and he didn't even want to sit down with us. He kept giving excuses like how he had been baptized in his parents' church, which really confused us because a couple of days ago he was super stoked about baptism. Since then, we've seen him once but he avoided us. I guess he just wasn't ready to accept the Lord's standards. I feel sad that he couldn't follow through, but that's what happened. We'll still try to keep in touch with him.

What is cool is that we could definitely have a marriage here the next month! A recently returned-to-activity member named Erineu has been working hard with the girl he lives with to accept the gospel, and for the past couple of weeks she's been coming to church! We finally got to talk to her this past week, and I'm astounded by how accepting she is of the message of the Restoration. Last time we talked, they said they'd either marry the end of November or the beginning of January. We just shared how we felt impressed to give Ronisse (the girl) a baptismal date of November 26th. It turns out they wanted to have the marriage on the 25th. Coincidence? I think not! We're super excited for them.

Really, really good week. I loved it. I even got to see my recent convert Laura yesterday, on the way to church. Sometimes the Lord shows his mercy in ways that we expect, though not often. I feel like I received that kind of mercy this week. Hope you all are well, have a good one!

Abraço,
Elder Penner

Monday, October 10, 2016

Feel Good, Inc



There are a few of reasons that I chose this to be the title of my update this week. First off, it's a message of hope, because after a week of really coming to undertstand the human digestive system from a different perspective, I can happily report that the nightmare is virtually over. I think I was at the worst at the beginning of last week, with only an upwards curve. They put me on some antibiotics at first (fun fact, believe it or not: not to be taken at the same time as probiotics. I may be dumb.) They helped. Now I'm practically back up to speed.

Second off, a little bit of sad news. A really good friend of mine passed a way this past week. I just learned about it today, so it's a little shocking to me. I'm sad that he's gone, but I know that he's not completely gone. I wasn't going to mention it, but I feel like I need to get it off my chest. I will miss Max. I hope that those that knew him are okay. I'll be praying for you all.

In much happier news, our investigator Yannick was baptized and confirmed this past weekend! It was such a great experience to see how happy he was. One thing I've come to love here on the mission is the change in peoples' countenances when they are converted by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. On Saturday night, we had a Family Night in his house, where we watched the Restoration video. It was a really spiritual experience, and he had a lot of friends there, too. I'm excited to see what's in store for him!


Patrick is also going along very well, and is headed for baptism on this upcoming Saturday! He came to Yannick's baptism in a white shirt and tie! He was a little bummed out when he saw that he should tuck in his shirt, though, haha. It's super cool to have one baptism after another here. I feel like the blessings of the Lord are here with us in Fernando Pó.

Well, that's most of what went on this week, other than the fact that I met a lot of good friends from when I was here over a year ago now. Hope you enjoy the pictures, most are the view from the coolest point in our entire area. Have a good one, all!

Abraço,
Elder Penner


Monday, October 3, 2016

The Funeral

"And every occasion, we'll be ready for the funeral" says the Band of Horses. The funeral for what, you may ask, the answer being the funeral of my digestive tract. So if this email doesn't seem very well written, just put yourself in my shoes: try to eat an entire brick and then write an essay. Maybe it's not that bad, but you get the picture.

Despite the pain that my insides have been giving me this past week, we managed to see some miracles happen and continue in the process of happening! First off we have the absolute stud Yannick, who passed his baptismal interview with flying colors. He is so ready to be baptized, it's almost unbelievable. I don't even feel like we really did anything at all. He always read the pamphlets before we talked about them, he's always had an Interstellar (starring Matthew McConaughey) reading record, and when we talked to him about the Law of Tithing, the only thing he had to say was "the Church is so cool!" I'm blessed to know him, that's for sure.

Another really cool thing that happened is on Saturday, at conference, we had a new investigator named Patrick show up with his really good member friend, Kevin. Kevin's an absolute boss, by the way. Patrick loves conference so much, he shows up 20 minutes early the next day for Priesthood session, just so he can see the Prophet of God. The best part of it all was that after it was over, we asked it how it was, and he said he loved it. He asked us how he could be baptized! We just told him, "we can definitely help you out with that!" It was so cool.

Other than that, we've been working with others to progress as well. I love this place, and I hope that whatever I have clears up soon so I can get back to working this area good! Hope all of you are well!

Abraço,
Elder Penner

Monday, September 26, 2016

Somewhere Only We Know


Sometimes I like to save certain songs for the right moment, and the more I think about it, the more that this song by Keane describes my reaction to a lot of things:
"Is this the place we used to love?
Is this the place that I've been dreaming of?"
I'm finding a lot of people and places that I used to know so well, and it seems to me that it was only a dream all that time ago. General Conference is coming next weekend, though, so I hope to be able to see a lot of people from Ala 5!

As for Fernando Pó, we're having an incredible experience here! This week was just filled with hard work, and one of the biggest successes that we've had is that we had 19 new investigators! How neat is that? Well, having found such a large amount of new people, now we're going to focus more on progressing our investigators (or really helping them to progress). The only problem that I have with all these new people is that we're completely out of Book of Mormons, lol. I'm not sure if we're going to have any more at anytime soon either. I guess somewhere in my switch out of the office, someone forgot to make the new order. Whoops.




It may have been my bad...

Anyways, Yannick is progressing really well! We've been teaching him the commandments this week, and it almost seems like he's already received these commandments at an earlier point in his life, because he's already following them! He's getting really excited about his baptism, too. The family is super cool as well. They're all recent converts, except for the mom, who goes to church every week, but won't get married to her marido. I guess she tried to get him legally removed at one point and he said that he would only leave that house in a coffin. We're going to talk with President about her situation again. Anyways, Yannick's 13 year old sister Lili is at almost the same place that I am in the Book of Mormon, so I challenged her to a race to the end. I'm winning still >:)

I went on a second division with President this week. Holy cow that man is inspiring. He just knows exactly what I need and how I need it. He focused a bit on how we invite people to know about our message. Due to the lack of Book of Mormons, we had just been inviting investigators to pray about the prophet Joseph Smith. President explained that the invitation to know the truth has to include a way for them to act. That's why it's about the Book of Mormon usually. For now I think we'll just put the focus on invites to chruch.

The week was great, the food is great, life is great! Have a good one!

Abraço,
Elder Penner

Monday, September 19, 2016

Get Back




I guess President wanted to help me follow the advice that the Beatles gave
so long ago, to "get back to where you once belonged" So here I am back on
the wonderful island of Mindelo! I can't begin to tell you how stoked I am
to be here! This time I'm in Fernando Pó. I'm serving with Elder Bowman,


who's now on his 5th here! He's still going strong, and I think we're going
to do a lot of good here! Of course I'm gonna miss Congresso and all the
people there, though. I put a lot of work into that area, and I've come to
be really good friends with a lot of members there. I'm excited for what's
coming up, though.


One of the first things that I'm going to have to get used to is the number
of people that there are here! And the number of people that are willing to
sit down for a few minutes to talk. When I arrived, Elder Bowman told me
that they didn't have a lot of investigators here, so we're currently
working on finding a lot of new people to teach, to share our wonderful
message with. So far, it's going swimmingly! There are just so many people
here that need the gospel in their lives, I mean just like everywhere but
still it's incredible!

One person who we started really teaching this week is named Yannick. He's
the older brother of a family of recent converts. Elder Bowman said he
didn't show interest when they first taught the family, but now he's
progressing well! He said that he got an answer that the Book of Mormon's
true, and he really wants to read more. Also, when we first invited him to
church, he was hesitant at first because he worked 11 pm Saturday to 8 am
Sunday. Well, I told him about a member in 5th ward here that did pretty
much the same thing but never missed church, and that gave him the reserve
to go! It was awesome! He seemed a little tired, but he really liked it.
Last night we gave him a baptismal date for the 8th of next month, and he
enthusiastically accepted! He shows a real desire to come unto Christ!
We're excited to work even more with him!

We've also worked with their nearby neighbor, Jessica, who also shows a
strong desire to progress and come unto Christ. She lives with a super
strict mom, so it was a miracle that she came to church and didn't get
ordered to do chores instead! We hope to work a lot more with her as well.

I think best of all by far I got to see Tetone and Maria again! Ever since
Elder Figueiredo and I met them, they'd been pretty strong in the church,
but they didn't get married and baptized until last May! Well, now they're
strong and active members of the church. It was such a blessing to see how
much the gospel has changed their lives. I'm so happy for them, and hope to
see some other recent converts at a stake activity or something. Maybe
General Conference.

The work is great! Hope you all are doing well! Have a good one!




Abraço,
Elder Penner

Monday, September 12, 2016

Transatlanticism

"The Atlantic  was born today, and I'll tell you how:
The clouds above opened up at let it out."




Boy oh boy do I love the rain. And rain it has! Maybe not as drastic as the Death Cab for Cutie song here makes it out to be, but still pretty impressive. On Wednesday we were about to leave when it just started to pour, and that's when my comp said, "I left my poncho in Praia!" Well, without an extra coat to be found, and not wanting to just throw my comp under the bus, I decided that I wouldn't put on my rain jacket either. We got drenched, to put it lightly, but it was all good fun!

I think my highlights of the week can all be described through one event: earlier this week, we had the pleasure of going out teaching with none other than President Mathews. The big man. The head honcho. The eye in the sky. Anyways, it was a super cool experience. Here's what happened:

First, we went and talked to an investigator we have named Suzana. She's super cool, has a strong desire to follow Christ. Her marido, Osvaldo, has no interest in talking with us, though. We talked with Suzana about if she asked God whether the Book of Mormon's true. She said that she did, and we talked to her about how she felt when she did it. When we asked if she thought she got an answer, she said yes! It was super cool, and President testified about how he started reading the Book of Mormon every day 30 years ago and how it blessed him. Yesterday Suzana came to church! She said it was actually Osvaldo that convinced her to get ready. She was super excited, and said that she wants to bring some friends next time, especially Osvaldo.

Then, we talked to a returned missionary of a few months. Knowing that one or two of you may know him, and feeling that he may not want people to know where he's at right now, I'll call him Djony. For the past couple of months, Djony has really been struggling with the church. President came and just took over the lesson. He shared  cool message on Lehi's dream. He talked about how when you grab hold of the Iron Rod, it's like the day of your baptism. He then pointed out that it says after people got a hold of the rod, THEN the mists of darkness came, and some were lost. But those who hold true always find their way. Djony interjected, saying that he hadn't seen the blessings that were promised him for serving an honorable mission. President said plainly that he had to trust in the Atonement of Christ, and he had to trust that the blessings would come. He also made it to church!

Lastly, we talked with a couple named Pina and Ana. They are members of the church for almost 20 years now, Pina having been a District President in the past. Now they're pretty weak in activity. President also talked a lot with them, first exhorting them to wear their garments right (it was a little obvious to see that they weren't) and then shared a story told by Elder Bednar. Elder Bednar, as a stake president, visited a lot of less-active members, and almost all of them said that they left the Church because of some meager offense. He would then list off all the blessings, including the Sacrament, the blessings of the temple, the Spirit of the Lord, and the responsibility they had to help their children (and ancestors) to salvation, and asked "and you're saying that you're going to lose all of that because you once got offended by another member?" Almost all responded, "I didn't think of it that way." Then President simply said that the Church needs them, and they need the Church. Guess who showed up to church yesterday? They did!

It was incredible, and I'm astounded by how all of them showed up at church after that. President Mathews is a powerful man, and taught me a lot about the power that comes with my calling as a missionary. I'm really going to apply it by making sure people know that I represent noone else than Jesus Christ. That's a powerful statement.

Oh yeah, today I saw Weston Adams, my old comp! He came back to visit the country with his dad. It was cool to meet up and bug each other one more time. Super weird though, he's like normal and everything. That's weird. I don't like that.

Well, that was my main highlight of the week, and the rest of the week wasn't bad either! Hope that you all have a good one! Transfers will be happening on Wednesday, so we'll figure out what that means for Elder Jhangiani and I!





Abraço,
Elder Penner

Monday, September 5, 2016

Singin' in the Rain

"What a glorious feeling, I'm happy again!" The rain finally came, guys! We woke up one morning and we weren't sweating and the ground was wet and we were like waaaaaaaaaat it raaaaaiiinnnnned??? Anyways the temperature was bearable for a couple of days, but now it's back to hot beyond all belief. Hopefully the rain can stay for a bit!

Anyways, this week was a pretty solid one, to be honest. Not the greatest that I've had here, but one real blessing that we had was consistency. We managed 2 lessons everyday, except for 2 days. Knowing to have had 8 lessons in one day here, it seems a little discouraging, but I'm actually really happy to know that it worked out that way. It means that there is at least some degree of steadiness happening. My goal is to keep steady and rise higher.

I want to share two experiences in particular this week. The first is a lesson with our investigator Katy. She's in her young 20's with children, but single. She has a desire to follow her Father in Heaven, but sometimes feels that she isn't prepared to give it all yet. Earlier in the week we had talked to her with Irmao Filinto, who's in the High Council here. He's a boss, basically. He told us that she didn't seem to be taking things seriously, so we decided to take him and his wife Zinha on Saturday. Just before the lesson, we went to confirm with her, and Katy was acting weird, like she didn't want to talk to us anymore. Then she said she was just kidding. We were a little confused, but we taught her with Filinto and Zinha anyways. It was such a good experience to have Zinha testify to Katy about the blessings in her life. She shared how she went to church for 11 years as an investigator, because Filinto didn't want to marry her yet. Then all of a sudden, he changed, and now they're married and sealed in the temple! What a cool story! She said it was hard to not be a member of the chruch she went to for so long, but her faith kept her going. It was a really neat experience. The only sad thing is that Katy didn't go to chruch again, after promising on Saturday. Filinto passed by, but she just wasn't up for it.

The other neat experience happened yesterday. We taught a really big family, so there was a lot of noise. The mother, Vera, wasn't quite understanding what we were saying, so our homeboy Socrates (yes, you pronounce it like the philosopher too) starts explaining in Creole for us. I think that after all the Elders she's met, that was the first time that she understood that the Book of Mormon wasn't just our version of the Bible. That was neat, but then she had to run off to break up a kids fight. Her daughter Solette was with us for the first time. She really lives just outside of Sao Filipe in a different zone, but has talked to a lot of Elders. She had a lot of doubts about how she would know that the Church is true just by reading a book, so we went over the whole Moroni-Joseph Smith story again. The Spirit just felt so strong as we explained, nd we could tell that she was learning too. We ended up spending an hour and a half there, twice as long as a normal lesson should last, but we feel that it was well worth our time. I like working with this family.

We taught some Seventh Day Adventists in our area this week, and our member help kinda turned it into a Bible bash... it was fun trying to gain control of the conversation. We really aren't trying to fight. That's why oru message is about the Book of Mormon. The Bible is interpreted so many ways, it just becomes a battleground. We'll be better prepared to focus on the Restoration next time.

WEll, outta time! Sorry for the spelling errors, this computer has no backspace. Have a wonderful week!

Abraco,
Elder Penner

p.s. just want to point out that if my timing's correct, the 19 years later scene in Harry Potter happened in real life just 4 days ago. What do I wait for now?