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!

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!

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!

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!

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!

Elder Penner