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!

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!

Elder Penner

Monday, September 12, 2016


"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!

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!

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?