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