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.​