Monday, April 10, 2017

Going to California

I actually had planned to go for either "Exit" by U2 or "Exit Music (For a Film)" by Radiohead. Both really good picks, but I just gotta go for the classic Led Zeppelin (I think that's how you spell it). It's just so blunt, I love it.

This week was perfect. We had an incredible FHE at Neusa's house, a whole lot of new investigators, and some incredible testimonies yesterday. It didn't even feel different in any way, but when we had evening church yesterday it all just hit be like a ton of bricks: I'm going home. I'm not going to be here anymore. I almost lost it as I saw my recent converts and close friends bear heartfelt testimonies.

Not a whole ton to report. Emelly got baptized and confirmed this past weekend, and it was an incredible experience! Rui is so darn close as well. The registro is making them wait another couple of weeks to choose a marriage date, and it's taking so long that Rui decided to move out of Albertina's house for the time being! He has so great faith, and he's told us how he's changed since he started this journey. He asked if he could be baptized before the marriage, he wants it so bad. We told him that we'd (or Elder Olsen and his comp would) go over the baptismal interview questions next time and make the decision then. I feel so blessed to have known them.

I'd like to leave you all my testimony, and I think I'll do it in Portuguese and then translate, because I don't know what else to do with this time I have.

Eu sei por mim mesmo que esta igreja é realmente a igreja de nosso Salvador Jesus Cristo, que foi restabelecido aqui na Terra. Sei que Ele vive, e que Ele cuida de nos e está a esperar nossa volta para a presença Dele. Sei que O Livro de Mórmon é verdadeiro, pois tem mudado a minha vida. Sei que Joseph Smith foi um Profeta de Deus, e que ele realmente viu Deus e Jesus Cristo no Bosque Sagrado quase 200 anos atrás. A Missão tem me ensinado sobre vários coisas, mas talvez o mais importante é que se seguirmos a vontade Do Senhor em todas as coisas, vamos aprender os mistérios Dele e tornar-nos semelhante a Ele. Amo O Senhor e quero compartilhar este amor com tudo o mundo em qualquer situação. Este é meu testemunho que deixo com vocês em nome de Jesus Cristo. Amém.

I know for myself that this church is really the church of our Savior Jesus Christ, which was reestablished here on the Earth. I know that He lives, and that He is watching over us and is awaiting our return to His presence. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, for it has changed my life. I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, and that he really saw God and Jesus Christ in the Sacred Grove almost 200 years ago. The Mission has taught me many things, but perhaps the most important thing is that if we follow the Lord's will in all things, we'll learn His mysteries and become like Him. I love the Lord and I want to share this love with everyone in every situation. This is my testimony that I leave you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thank you all for the support you all have given me. I can't wait to see most of you soon, and for the others I hope it doesn't take too long. :)

Signing off for the last time,
Elder Jordan Penner


          Sick Noite Familiar at Neusa's place


Me making CousCous prepare to be amazed when I return

The Souza's made a cake for those being transferred and me. The cake says "FUI" which means "I went" and I almost cried I was laughing so hard. feat the district​

Monday, April 3, 2017

Death and All His Friends

"And, in the end, we lie awake and we dream of making our escape."

This is it. I will have time to email this next week, but I don't think
I'll even take up the full time to write, honestly. I've waited a long time
to put this song as my title, it just happens to be my favorite song by
Coldplay, and one of my all-time favorites. In the mission, you talk a lot
about new missionaries being "born" and old missionaries "dying" and things
like that, and I've finally come to the latter end of that spectrum.

I feel as though I'm learning 50 times more now than I was at the beginning
of my mission. It's a real shame because I wish I could have more time to
use these principles, but at the same time I love what I'm learning. I feel
as though this transfer I learned the lesson that I really needed to learn
on my mission. It's not about me, it's about giving everything I have to
the Lord. I had heard it over and over again, but I didn't get it
completely until just now. Life is fascinating.

As for how things are going, I'd like to point your attention to Emelly,
who's name I finally know how to spell correctly because I just filled out
her baptismal record! She'll be baptized this upcoming Saturday! We're
working out everything so it'll be a sweet experience. As for Rui, he was
supposed to mark the date for his marriage last Thursday, but Albertina had
a bit of trouble with a couple of documents, so they should know by when we
talk to them tomorrow! This month for sure!

Conference was a great experience, although we totally missed the first
hour of the Saturday and Sunday morning sessions due to some weird
technical difficulties. I loved so many of the talks this time around.
Shoutout to Elder Bragg for sharing the scripture on my plaque and basing
his talk on it. Maybe I'll just use that to do my homecoming talk, haha. We
had an investigator unexpectedly show up. Augusto showed up for the last
session of Conference, even though the last time we actually talked to him
was last Tuesday. He just happened to show up in the session where Elder
Costa gave a talk directed towards investigators, which was niiice.

Well, I think that's all I have to say about the week I had. I'll be sure
to send something next week, but I don't think It'll be quite as long. Hope
you all have a great week and a half! After that I know you'll have a good
time, cause I'll be there to join you! I'm making the best of this last
week for sure!

Elder Penner

Monday, March 27, 2017

Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)

The email I just read confirmed it: my friend Bryant, who started the mission about the same time I did (and who funnily enough also went home for a few months to recover from a broken bone) has signed off for the last time as a missionary. I almost put my update as Hello by Adele but I like Green Day better so I hope you have the time of your life, bro. See you on the other side.

Something about this last week has put me into an attitude of immense gratefulness for the things that I've learned since I arrived here on the mission. There are so many lessons that I've experienced, and that I'm honestly still experiencing. I've taken the little free time I have to write down the many things that I've learned, and even I'm surprised at how much I've been able to write about. The mission changes you, man.

Had a couple of lasts this past week: my last Zone Conference and my last interview with my Mission President. It was super short and sweet, actually. I just told him how life is great and I'm still learning so much, and he basically just counseled me to "sprint to the finish." Definitely plan on doing that, for sure.

Emily and Rui are doing awesome, we're going to get Emily's baptismal interview done tomorrow so we can have plenty of time to get people stoked for the baptismal service. Rui also should have been to the Registro today so he could mark an actual date for the marriage! Get stoked!

We also had a great experience with another investigator we have, named Etel. She and Zeka are currently going through some major issues right now. She told us that Zeka is planning on leaving at the end of the month. We don't want that to happen, but we haven't been able to talk to them for a while, and we're not sure what we can do. Etel has felt ignored by the Lord because of the death of her grandmother who raised her, and because she hasn't been able to have the kid that she wants. We started the Plan of Salvation with her, and we haven't finished teaching it yet for lack of time, but it was still a really neat experience. I felt the Spirit strongly.

I met a Born Again Christian Pastor from Nigeria the other day. I didn't even know that was a thing in this country, but that just proves that there's still more than meets the eye here. It was cool to teach the Restoration in English, but we could immediately tell that the guy wasn't interested at all, and he only let us in out of courtesy. We promised him an English Book of Mormon, but didn't mark a return visit. The field is white and ready to harvest, but he just didn't seem to be what we were looking for. Maybe some other time the Spirit will touch him so he can be more receptive.

I'm making the best of this test, and not asking why! Hoping that you all are doing great as well! Have a good week!!

Elder Penner

p.s. I'm lame so I didn't take pics sorry

Monday, March 20, 2017


"And everything under the sun is in tune, and the sun is eclipsed by the moon"

Everything just seems to be in tune here, so Pink Floyd's words to end their album Dark Side of the Moon ring well to me today. I'll cut to the chase about what's happening here, though.

Rui is going incredibly right now! This past week while talking to him, he told us a lot about how he's getting really excited for marriage, and he just feels good about the decision. The sad thing is, he has to wait until his money comes in at the end of the month so he can pay for the marriage license, so he probably won't be married while I'm still here. I'll have my comp send in pictures of the marriage and the baptism when it does happen, though. The greatest thing to me was that when we talked about the Sabbath Day and how he shouldn't work on Sunday, he was so willing that he said he'd stop yesterday, and he did. It's so special to see his willingness and readiness to accept the gospel and it's principles immediately. He's a boss.

Emily is going solid for the 8th of next month, though, so that means she'll be our baptism for this transfer! She really seemed to feel bad about going to the beach instead of church this last Sunday, and now we're just working hard to get her to meet Irmã Neusa, the Young Women's President. Things are really looking up for her, and we're getting stoked for the baptism to happen!

As I've studied about the power and authority of my calling, I've come to appreciate the Spirit that I personally feel as I testify, and the reaction that I see in people when it happens. Our investigator Sulamita is a great example, because we can literally see when the Spirit touches her, but there's just one little thing holding her back. I hope we can take care of it soon, I want to see her and her husband come to the gospel.

For some reason, we had a lot of lessons with investigators who refused to say a word as we talked to them. We were like, why would you let us into your house in the first place if you weren't planning on accepting anything we taught? It reminds me that people still have their agency, but we can make sure our teaching is powerful and full of the Spirit. Sometimes it feels like nothing can stop us, even when weird moments like that happen.

Life just seems like it's in order, right now. It's starting to get real that it's not going to last for much longer, but I'm focused on making it the best time for myself and for those that I'm teaching.

That's all I have for today, hoping you all are well in the meantime! Shoutout to my friend Bryant, who's going home in 9 days, as well as my brother Cameron, who's never going home ;) Love you all!

Elder Penner

​​1. Me overpowering the city of Espargos with my good looks
2. Good Real Estate
3. Terra Boa, meaning "good dirt." Not really understanding the name.
4. 70 mph selfie with Elder Thorsen, my ZL

Monday, March 13, 2017


The Red Hot Chili Peppers seem to best describe my metamorphosis already in motion. Actually not much of a change has happened, but I'd like to think so.

Vida na Cabo is the good life! We had a really great week, where we met and worked with a lot of progressing investigators. That is, progressing except that nobody went to church! True love is when you want to strangle someone because they're not doing what's best for them but you don't actually ever strangle them, because it's bad.

I don't know what we're going to do with Emily quite yet. She had been progressing for the 25th of this month, but she still hasn't even met the Young Women's leader yet, and her member supports took her to the beach instead of going to church yesterday. I think it may be better to wait a bit, so she can go to church at least twice consecutively and get to know Neusa.

We had a really neat lesson with Sulamita and Blada the other day as well. We taught the Plan of Salvation, and they had a lot of great questions and were very interested, especially in what we had to say about the role of the Fall of Adam and Eve. They were like, that totally makes sense! When we got to the end of the lesson, we invited them for baptism for this next month. They were so close to accepting a baptismal date, but at the last moment Sulamita backed out. You could feel the Spirit in that room. We're pretty sure it's going to happen really soon here.

Last but certainly not least, we had a sort of miracle yesterday! When talking with Rui and Albertina, we had a couple of members with us take away basically all of their doubts about marriage. It was incredible. We told them that we could make the marriage happen as early as the beginning of April if they were up for it. The Spirit was so strong, and they ended up deciding to go for it! We just went to the registro with Rui this morning, and they're going to go back this week to get things rolling! This is really exciting, because I never have been present for any of my investigators' weddings before. I'll be fine if it doesn't work out here, but if it does, that would be incredible. We're stoked!

Anyways, I think that's all I've got for the time being. We're going on a division tomorrow, which I'm excited for. Zone Conference is in a couple of weeks. Home is in a month. But why worry about tomorrow when today's so great, am I right?

Love you all!
Elder Penner

Monday, March 6, 2017

Stable Song

"Time for the final bow..."

Lame jokes based off of Death Cab songs aside, had another wonderful week here in Sal! In our Zone Meeting, our Zone Leaders gave an example of how we can get the fire stoked for our Cachupa to turn out delicious! It was a funny example just saying that we gotta keep our investigators constantly motivated to act outside of just teaching them the lessons. A lot of the time we find people that are really cool, but when we go back to teach them more, they still haven't read the Book of Mormon! How do you expect to keep up with the other things when you still haven't taken the first steps? So we're making a bigger effort to pass by our investigators every day just to give them little reminders to read, pray, and keep up with other commitments.

One really cool thing that's been happening is the jump in the leadership in our Branch. We're getting our Branch functioning much better now than ever. Neusa, a Recent Convert here and basically the closest thing I have to a mom here, skipped church this past Sunday because she was getting overloaded with stuff to do. She told us if she wasn't released as Young Women's President, she can't keep going to church. After a few good lessons on how the Lord qualifies who He calls, and some great help from President Da Veiga, she's doing a lot better now. She has a couple of counselors now, so she'll get the support she needs. It gave us a little scare, but it's all good now.

MIRACLE: For the first time ever in my mission, I have an investigator who was already planning to get married before we even taught the Law of Chastity. I think I mentioned Rui, who's living with a member of the Church right now, named Albertina. Well, the Souzas have known Albertina for a while and for the longest time were begging and pleading with her to do something about the Law of Chastity. Just before entering into the lesson, I asked Elder Souza and he just said "I did all I could. If you can make something happen that would be a miracle!" Well, it turns out that something the Souzas taught Albertina really struck deep, so now they're going to make an official separation of houses, and they're going to get married in June! We're pretty stoked about that!

ALSO: A couple of new investigators Sulamita and Blada are super cool as well. When we taught them yesterday, they still hadn't read the Book of Mormon, so we opened to 3 Nephi 11 and started reading about Christ's visit to the Americas. Well, Blada had some really good questions that showed he was paying attention. "How is Christ the light and life of the world?" "Why were the people gathering together?" Then we mentioned briefly life after death and Sulamita got super interested. "Life? Like after this one?" It was a really neat experience, and proof that the Lord has prepared people to receive us.

THE ICING ON THE CAKE: We ate a buffet meal for the Cape Verde equivalent of $2.50. This restaurant owner that we're friends with is the coolest guy ever. So while the Dutch tourists were chowing down their £10 buffet meal, we just slipped on in with our super deal. Probably the best deal that I've had for a meal here in Sal.

Anyways, that's all I have time for today. Hoping that everyone is well, and reminding everyone to keep up their scripture study! Do it! Anyways love you all!

Elder Penner

Sorry, I guess my pics won't send this week... :(

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Final Countdown

I had to...

Well, transfer calls happened earlier today, and due to the absence of a call I am lead to assume that Chã de Matias will be my dying area! I've pondered a little bit about it, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I love my comp, I love training, I love the Zone, I love my area and all the members, and I'm learning so much as the weeks go by. Just hoping to get a lot done with the time that I have left!

We have had some good progress with people. We were a little saddened that Rui was the only investigator of ours to show up to church, but he's doing wonderful. Ever since we met the guy, we've been running into him on the street everyday, and we've taken the time to give little follow-ups about his reading and other things. We marked him for the 8th of April, giving him enough time to figure out what he's going to do about the Law of Chastity (he lives with a member of the church, but it was recent and they don't have kids yet). He has a real sincere desire to follow the Gospel. It's really cool to see.

Emily's doing well, too. We've been trying to talk with her family, but it doesn't seem like they're interested, so we'll keep trying this week. As for her, there's a pair of twins named Lea and Abigail that are really close friends and are offering her some good support. The only sad thing is that the twins were in Santa Maria yesterday and I don't think that Emily wanted to go to church without them. It's understandable, because she's still only learning about the gospel and it's some new stuff, but I hope to be able to work with her to the point where she's coming of her own free will. She wants us to get progressing just about as much as we want her to, though.

Funny story from yesterday: an investigator contacted us at our own house. As missionaries, we're told not to go telling everyone where we live, so the easiness that this guy had in finding our house was pretty surprising. His name's Ezekiel, and he says he'd been going to church over in Craquinha, which is one of the zones in my last area in Mindelo. The way he was talking, I thought he was a member at first! We're going to try and meet him this week.

We ran into this member named Joana this past week. She's a Cape Verdean living in Spain, who came here to visit some family members. As luck would have it, she just happened to know Sister Penner, my cousin that's serving there now! I didn't have much time to talk to her and ask her more, but isn't that neat! *It's a Small World starts playing softly in the background*

I think that's it for this week's news. We're leading up to what feels like will be the greatest weeks of my entire mission, so I'm pretty darn excited. Hoping you are all well.

Elder Penner

Just eating some good old CousCous at our Branch President's house. I'm going to try to learn to make it so I can show it to you all. They say I can do it with a steamer if I don't have the traditional clay pot.​

Monday, February 20, 2017

Where Are You Now

Seeing as I've planned titles for every week after this one, I was in a little crisis as to what I could talk about here. I settled for the last track in Mumford and Son's album Babel, just because it really makes you think. Where am I now? How have I changed since that fateful day 2 (and a little bit) years ago since I entered the MTC? There's more than a mountainful of answers that I could share, but I'm probably going to go for a couple of experiences from this last week to share just a little bit.

First off, the Lord almost never gives you what you want... in the way you want it. For example, we have been working super hard, because the last few weeks we hadn't had investigators coming to church, and it's impossible to get baptized if you don't come to church for obvious reasons. We really gave it our all, inviting everyone and coordinating with a lot of people, members and nonmembers alike. None of the people we invited showed up. I was a little frustrated, but then came the miracle. Elder Souza talked to us about a girl named Emily that had been coming to Seminary every day, and showed her to us at church. We taught her later in the day, and she's super cool! Already has member friends! Also, at evening church we met Rui, who's the cousin of a guy named Pão (which means bread by the way, meaning that some mother decided that Bread was a wonderful name for their child), who we've been trying to find for the past week. That was his second time at church. All I know is that I love the Lord and He loves me.

Second off, sometimes things that you think would be the worst possible thing to happen ends up becoming a great blessing. We taught Emanuel a couple of times this week, and he had a mountain of questions as usual. While teaching him the Plan of Salvation, he asked so many questions it was hard to keep focused. He kept asking what was going to happen to the Earth once all of God's children had passed through, so trying my absolute best not to confuse him, I tried to explain how the Earth was actually going to become the Celestial Kingdom. I wouldn't recommend doing that. So when we left that lesson we said that we could never have the Souzas (missionary couple that talk FOREVER) with us or we would be there all day. Well, as luck would have it, they were with us the next time that we visited him and his girlfriend. Elder Souza and Emanuel took an hour talking without my being able to stop it at all, but during that time Elder Souza shared his powerful conversion story about how he was training to be a Catholic priest but left because of all the doubts that he had and found the true Church of Christ. Then when Emanuel came with his torrent of questions, Elder Souza simply said that he wasn't ready to learn some things yet, and gave the example of starting a baby on milk before going to meat. It was honestly the best thing for him.

Thirdly, you're as happy as you let yourself be. You could be having the worst day in the world, but if you keep a positive attitude and focus on the Gospel of Jesus Christ then you can be happier than ever. We had that lesson in Elder's Quorum yesterday and I realized how well that applies in my life now. I can't think of a time in my life where I have been so constantly happy as I am now. God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.

Having a wonderful time, and hoping that you all are too. I just got my flight itinerary home, so I guess I'll be seeing some of you in about 50 days' time. Not thinking about that though, because that would be trunky of me...

Elder Penner

Here's another one from last week that wasn't posted.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Tongue Tied

Going for a Grouplove song because my brother did as well and I just found out that they put out a new album. Sometimes even at this point in my mission it's hard for me to know what to say when investigators are having trouble progressing, in whatever situation they're in. You don't want to tell them the same thing over again to help them see the importance of going to church, but you don't know what else you can say. That's the point where you have to listen the hardest. Listen to your investigators and their concerns (or sometimes lack of concern) and especially listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

This week was incredibly strange for me. We received the order that we're not supposed to even set lesson goals daily anymore. After almost 2 years of carefully counting lessons every single day, including a lot of other things, it's weird. I love it though. I'm not worried about achieving a certain amount of the same activity, so my activities to find, teach, and follow-up with my investigators have been getting richer and richer.

Anyways, about stuff you guys actually care about: Leo was baptized this last Saturday! It was a great service with a really good cake provided by Leo's mom, Neusa. Francisco directed for the first time since he's been called, and didn't do a bad job seeing as his own baptism was a mere 7 months ago! Everything just seemed to be at the perfect moment. Leo's really changed since I met him. At first he was honestly a little hard-headed and always got in fights. Now he's far from perfect but his attitude has really changed and he's a lot more helpful around the house. I love how the Gospel changes people.

Going to copy a paragraph I sent my mom for more stuff (copyright Elder Penner): An investigator we have named Yany had been going to Church for over a year on the island of São Vicente, and moved here recently. We've been working hard with him, but he's been unsure about everything. We weren't sure if he understood the way that the Gospel could change his life. Our last visit with him was simply us watching the Restoration video and bearing our testimonies on the reality of the Restored Gospel. I started to tear up a bit, and he asked me if I felt the Spirit. I said I did. He said, "I feel it, too." We asked him what was stopping him from being baptized and he said he didn't know. We invited him to pray sincerely to know whether he should, and he accepted. I felt strongly, and I know he did, too. I think we're getting really close with him.

Life is wonderful. It's like I have that one happy song from the Muppets movie on repeat in my head. Hope everyone back home is doing great! I can't believe I only have 2 more months in this wonderful country!

Elder Penner

p.s. haha finally figured out how to send my pics as an attachment what a dunce


1. My district (without me cause I don't know how to work a $60 camera)

2. Me with the fam and a couple of homies at Leo's batismo

3. Bem gostoso cake saying happy baptism

Monday, February 6, 2017


Yes, it's a Coldplay song. But it really ties into what I've been experiencing and learning this week, so I feel justified. Also if you haven't heard this song and are able to, I highly recommend it.

To be honest, this week started off a little rough. Elder Olsen and I talked about it, and it seemed like out of all the people that we had been talking to, none of them have been progressing like they should. So we set off trying to find a lot of new people and working harder to get our current investigators to progress. It wasn't really working out like I thought it would. Elder Olsen was getting a little hard on himself for not knowing the language well enough yet, and I was getting a little hard on myself because we weren't teaching enough to have him practice well.

My first Miracle was in our Zone Meeting. The training was specifically directed at me. We talked about the Doctrine of Christ, and how we needed to do a way better job at teaching it than just talking about it like some 5-step program or anything like that. It is NOT a 5-step program. You don't just stop growing your faith and move on to repentance. You don't just get a remission of your sins once in your life. It is a continual process that in order to work includes every step, during the entire course of our lives. I realized that I wasn't showing the importance of the Atonement and how the Gospel of Jesus Christ will change my investigators. So we started teaching it that way with immediate effect.

My second Miracle was Emanuel. I didn't notice this one house in an area where we knocked most of the doors, so we decided to try this place. Emanuel answers and starts bombarding us with questions the second we step in the house. I thought at first that he was trying to bash on doctrine, because he asked, "Why are you following this religion? Did you have a manifestation, or was it just that you followed the same church as your parents? I bet you never thought of that, did you?" We told him that we in fact had prayed to know the truth, and testified that we had felt the Spirit as an answer. We then went to talk to him about the Restoration, and when we got to Joseph Smith, he said "I have never heard about him from any pastor ever!!" and we laughed and explained that's what makes us so unique. He acted the same way about the Book of Mormon. When we invited him to pray about these things, he didn't seem to understand the importance of asking, because he said that all religions have the same purpose really and it doesn't matter too much which one we take. We explained a little more clearly the doctrine of Restored Priesthood Authority, and he just said, "Woah! So I really have to pray to know if these things are true, don't I?" and we were like yeah! This guy is super cool, and since then we've talked to him in his doorway and he says he has a million more questions for us, mostly about the Ressurection. We're super stoked!

The third Miracle, similar to the first one, happened in our Zone Conference. Another training that struck me to the core of my being. President Mathews gave a training based on Elder Bednar's last conference talk, If Ye Had Known Me. What struck me the most was the analysis on how we need to not only believe in our Savior, but we need to believe Him. President then went on to explain how a missionary can be obedient, hard-working, and a really good planner and efficient worker, but if he or she does not trust in the promises that the Lord will open their mouth, and bring the people prepared to receive the message unto them, they won't be reaching the potential that He wants them to have. It was incredible. I realized that I just need to believe in miracles. Nothing less. I don't remember feeling so good after a Zone Conference, and my interview with President afterwards just solidified it. I just gotta believe.

Life is better than ever. It's incredible the pace that I'm learning, even near the end of my mission. I hope that you all can have spiritual experiences like this. Oh, and about Leo, he got bumped up to this next Saturday but he's getting baptized, I promise!

Okay that was a lot and now I'm really out of time but gotta go bye!

-Elder Penner

1. Me with Jenny and Davidson, a married couple of RMs that are my bros that feed us a lot here. Rule #1: we like people that feed us.​

2. Just Elder Olsen looking fly at our church building. I just remembered that churches back home have basketball courts and stuff like that. Weird.​

Monday, January 30, 2017

Beautiful Day

My attitude is still at record high as we pull through with a new wonderful week here in the Cabo! The weather has been really nice recently, and the nights have actually been pretty chilly. I hope it stays this way for the rest of my mission, because I love this kind of weather. Also we went through a pretty drastic change in the daily schedule this week. Then new schedule allows for an optional extra hour of sleep, and even gives us more time to prepare in the mornings, without us missing any teaching time during the day. We also saw a change in the Key Indicators, the numbers that we send to the Mission Office every week. In the past they counted how many lessons we had, and how many were with or without a member, and such. Now they focused on new and progressing investigators in the numbers that we send. I think it's really inspired, because it focuses more on our real purpose here as missionaries, instead of worrying us about how many lessons we're teaching or other less-significant numbers. While lessons are important, the real importance lies on helping investigators be converted and progress towards baptism. So I'm pretty stoked about all of that.

Anyways, we've had a really great week here! On Monday we were a little disappointed because we talked with Leo about the baptismal interview questions and he didn't seem able to respond to them very well. Well, I made him a bit of homework to help him out (nothing too fancy, just a few related questions) and the next time we visited he'd answered every question really well! I think when he was talking to us he just didn't know how to say what he wanted to. So we're going through with the baptism for this upcoming Saturday. It's always best to make sure about these things before jumping into it. This is an important saving ordinance we're talking about.

As for other cool stuff that's been happening, I can talk a bit about Aritson. He's living with his cousin Valtinho, who's a super cool member, and he loves to talk to us and really loves the church. Recently he's been acting a little weird though, so we went in this week to figure it out. We entered the house and some random woman walks in behind us and starts saying, "Sorry, sorry! I'm talking with the Sisters and I saw the Elders so I wanted to talk to them too!" It was one of the stranger moments that I've had for sure, but not the strangest, so we talked to her too. The next time we got down to business and Aritson really just wants us to talk with his girlfriend as well, because he mentioned baptism to her once and she seemed disapproving. We're talking to them both now, and his girlfriend Crisolinda is super cool as well. She just has an anti-Mormon family, as we found out. We'll have to play this one out to see how it goes, but I'm shooting for a happy ending.

Elder Olsen is learning a lot more quickly than I expected he would, which is sweet. He says he already understands almost everything that I say, which is always good. It's just that Creole that gives him the biggest headache. I know that was the hardest struggle for me, too. We had Cachupa the other day, and he fell in love with it as soon as he ate it. Cachupa is one of the greatest things about this country, to be honest. I'd learn how to make it, but they say it takes about 3 hours! So I'll take a recipe home and try it for my family.

This email was a pretty good sized one. I forgot to mention that today I turned 21 years old. I'll leave it to you guys to come up with some bad joke about how I'm legally good to drink now. Don't think it's going to happen anytime soon. Hope you all have a great week!

Elder Penner


1. Us chillin at my boy Leo's house. We brought our homies Francisco and Djamila, who are farthest back by Elder Olsen

2. Our Branch President's son Abdel turned 2 a few days ago, so we stopped by for a couple of minutes. I'll do anything to get a good cake.​

(sorry the pictures are so blurry)

Monday, January 23, 2017

Sweet Child O' Mine

Well, transfers happened, and for the first time I have a fidju!!! Elder Olsen just arrived from the Provo MTC. He's from Oakdale, which is in the Bay Area #represent and he's an all-around boss of a person. We've only had 3 full days together, and I can already tell that we're just going to tear it up here in Espargos. Training is a lot different of an experience than I expected. It's a whole lot more of me talking and helping my companion to understand the people than I expected. It doesn't help that here in Sal everyone speaks their own native Creole so everyone is saying something different. It'll be a lot of fun helping him over the next few weeks.

So the past week was pretty interesting for me, because Elder Teela went to Boa Vista on Wednesday and Elder Olsen didn't come until like Thursday at Midnight. I spent most of the time hanging out with the Zone Leaders in Santa Maria, but for a bit I was with Elder Gomes and Elder Podzikowski, who came from São Nicolau and were headed to Praia. Once that was over and by the time that Elder Olsen came in, we had all of one appointment marked with an investigator. Luckily and with the help of the Lord, we managed to teach 11 lessons over the past 3 days! We're just hoping that we're going to find even more cool people to share our message with as time goes by. I want to make these last 2 transfers count more than any other time in my mission.

Also in great news, Leo is going to get baptized this upcoming Saturday! We talked to Neusa, his mom, about it yesterday, after Leo came to church. She asked if we thought that Leo was ready. I said that I have seen some good changes in him over the past couple of weeks, and he seems to really want it. If he has his incredible mom to keep him on the right path and show him the way, I have no problem in his getting baptized. She agreed with us, and now we're just planning everything to do with baptism! It's going to be a great spiritual experience for my new kid.

Well, that's all I have time for! Hope you all are well!

Elder Penner

Monday, January 16, 2017

I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself

After being blown off my feet with information about what's going to be happening with school once I get back home, I realized that I've got to make some decisions that are going to have some impact here in a few months. As The White Stripes say it best, I have no idea what I'm doing when I think about that. Put me in any area in this mission, and I'll work hard to preach the everlasting gospel to the good people there. It almost comes naturally to me now. But try and figure out my own life? I'm just lucky I still have a few months of a buffer before it really hits me.

Anyways, in the world of Sal where everyone speaks a different language and things make sense, the week started off a little slow, but picked up to show a lot of real promise! After a strange turn of events, we now have two new Zone Leaders: Elder Nemelka and Elder Thorsen. This makes it the third place where Elder Nemelka has been my Zone Leader. He's one of the coolest, most sincere people that you could ever meet, so I'm stoked. The guy bought 5 shwarma for us all, and ate 2 of them by himself! I think he's going to realize soon enough that he can't afford to do that on this island. $12.50 seems like nothing back home, but to us that can feed you for 2-3 days.

We met a really really really cool couple a little over a week ago, who we've been trying to find home a lot this past week. Last night, we saw their car park in front of their house, so we decided to go over and corner them into letting us talk to them. They were absolutely stoked to let us in and talk to us! Luis Carlos is the husband's name, he's lived on most islands (I was especially impressed with his Fogo Creole) and also lived in Rhode Island for a while. The wife, Claudia, spent most of her younger years in the Netherlands, so she speaks Dutch, English, and French on top of Portuguese and Creole. They are incredibly intelligent, and were super interested in our entire message that we shared with them. When we asked if they had any questions, Luis Carlos asked "Who was the last prophet, then?" to which we testified that there's a living prophet today, named Thomas S. Monson. They were amazed! We're super stoked to teach them more, and I really think that they can progress well.

I just ran into this one dude I knew on Fogo. He was raised in America, and when he came to Fogo we always visited him because he made some really good food for us. He told us how we could make some American-tasting pickles, because they don't really have those here. He came here to be a tour guide for English speakers. It was just really random to meet him, and it shows how Sal is just a big melting pot of all the islands. A lot of people eventually go to Sal, because people can get work here pretty easily in the tourism industry. I like meeting people I once knew. It brings back good memories.

Anyways, I think that's it for the week! Hope that you all are doing well, and have a good one!

Elder Penner

Monday, January 9, 2017

Welcome to the Jungle

Boa Tarde from the City of Espargos in the zone of Morro Corral (which is surprisingly hard to say in Portuguese.) Shout out to my brother Cameron yet again because he just passed a birthday in the MTC! Which means he's old. Which mean's I'm old. I don't like to think about it much.

First things first, we've had some luck in finding some references that have just been slipping through our fingers as of late. One of the coolest things that's happened is that we were looking for this one guy Djão and finally located the guys house (what I wouldn't give to have street addresses made for every house here) and we didn't find him, but we found his sister and his dad. Well, the other day we taught the sister, Euritz, the entirety of the message of the Restoration, and she was super into it and accepted baptism with no questions asked and almost excited for it! Well, we had just finished the closing prayer when Djão himself walked into the room. We really wanted to talk to him, and we had some time, so we asked if we could share the same message with him as well. I expected Euritz to go into another room, but she stayed where she was and heard the entire message for a second time! Djão was just as receptive as his sister was, and it was a good experience all in all. Just a little longer than usual in the same chair.

To be honest, I'm not really sure what to think about Leila and Roberto at this point. There's not all that much that we can do for them. Leila will be able to go to church in the mornings now, but Roberto doesn't have any choice on when he gets a day off and when he doesn't. They were supposed to go to church yesterday because they both had a break, but they didn't because they slept through it... both times. Have I mentioned that there's church in the evenings here? It's made for people that work at hotels and aren't allowed to change their hours and have to go to work on Sunday mornings. It's mostly for members that still want to take the sacrament, but sometimes we can have investigators come as well. Anyways, they didn't come! We'll have to see what we can do with them.

Funny story: I like to tell people that I'm from Fogo, and then speak a little Fogo creole to convince them, and I tried it the other day with this one kid. He took two looks at me with the funniest expression, and said, "no, it can't be... you're waaaaaaaaayyy too white to be from Fogo. Like Fogo has some pretty white people, but not THAT white!" It was pretty funny to Elder Teela and me. I guess I sometimes forget that I stick out here in a little more than just the white shirt and tie.

To explain my title, we went to what I'm 99% sure is the only zoo in all of Cabo Verde! Well, half zoo and half botanical garden. It wasn't all that crazy, but it was only 3 bucks to enter and the best part was that it had real grass! After stepping on it and feeling it under my feet, it was like walking on a cloud. It's been so long. Some other cool things were a monkey that shot around its cage, a couple of geese that hated Elder Teela with a passion and kept hissing at him,, and a donkey that kept trying to eat our bags when our backs were turned. I can't send the pics this week, but I'll make sure to get them out next time!

I think that's about it for me. It's so weird that the transfer is almost over. Time literally cannot go any faster. Hope that it treats you all well!

Elder Pena (I just learned that pena means feather this week. The more you know amirite.)

Monday, January 2, 2017

And a Happy New Year

As we all mention the corny joke of how we haven't seen each other since last year, it's good to sit down and reflect on what 2017 has in store for us... except when the only thing that's in store is the cold hard reality of life as a college student. Still, the mission goes on, and I'm trying to focus more on the fun that I'm having here in this moment!

This last week was a little difficult to meet with our progressing investigators, but we did catch up with them in their doorways a couple of times. The larger part of our time it seems was spent trying to work with some of the new investigators that we found but weren't home the second time we visited, or contacting references. One good thing that I've noticed from this last week is the progression that has happened with our investigators Leila and Roberto. They've been talking to the missionaries for a while, and since I've been here we've focused on marking a date for marriage. At first, they weren't very keen on it, but now they're talking and working towards a time where Roberto's parents will be able to come from São Nicolau. Another difficulty is that they normally can't get Sundays off of work, although Leila is seeing an opportunity that may work wonders for the both of them, as she is the driving force to follow the Gospel. The best news is that they went to church this week over in Santa Maria! We were pretty stoked about that, and we hope that soon enough we can work it into a regular habit with them. The main problem is that in Cape Verde, and especially Sal, people don't have the same 40 hour week schedule that most people in the U.S. have, and a lot of people want to have the weekends off, but only a few are actually able to make it happen. I think that may be the main cause of inactivity in the Church here: people get their hours changed to work on Sundays, and they choose work over coming to church. It's kinda sad, but we find our victories with the people that put the Lord first.

We had a division the other day as well. I went with Elder Leyton over in Santa Maria. He's a really funny guy from Peru. Santa Maria is even weirder than Espargos is, and I think it's mostly because they have a street that looks eerily similar to a street I once knew back in downtown Livermore, California. Also the fact that there are a lot of hotels and even a really nice Vila. I got to meet a few of their recent converts from last Saturday, including the casal whose marriage we went to with Elder Green. Those two are working with a lot of really really cool people. It bumped up my spirits and gave me the desire to find those kinds of people in our area.

To be honest, our New Years celebration was pretty lame. We went home an hour early, and because we had nothing better to do, we called it a night. We got woken up by the fireworks here at midnight, including a really loud siren. I stayed in bed the whole time, but Elder Teela actually got some good videos of it. That's about as crazy as our party life is here on the mission.

Well, now that it's 2017, let's make it count, am I right? Have a good week, and a good year everyone!

Boas Entradas,
Elder Penner