The Lord is an amazing artist! As I have just listened to the spirit and acted, with direction from my priesthood leaders, a beautiful picture is being painted…or a wonderful story is unfolding. It feels strange to be writing this story, as I am one of God's children in this story. Oh well, here goes...
So a couple of weeks ago on a Saturday, after our weekly baptisms, (the missionaries rock here!) I was sharing with my Stake President about my “starfish”, Gracinda. I gave him a quick download of "The Starfish Story" Then I shared with him, that she is not a member of the church but that "she is my neighbor; and in America, we take care of our neighbors." After I assessed the needs of my neighbor, (which are many,) I shared with him my vision of bringing relief to this sister and that of her family. He then said to me, “Sister Cassita, would you please teach my people how to serve one another?” I was truly humbled that he would ask me. Without hesitation, I of course said “yes”. When I got home that that evening my mind was spinning with all sorts of ways that I might accomplish this great task; first, came prayer. I have never felt like a natural “leader” and for sure, not one of this magnitude. How would I know what it would take to do this? The very next morning, everything just simply came to my mind! (At first it was too much, too quick.) So I ran some idea's past Sister McKnight and together we came up with a plan for the first phase.
We had 14 sisters in our branch Relief Society sign up to come help. On Saturday, 8 came with their
We met at the church; I thanked them for coming and for being willing to serve; then I offered a prayer and invited the spirit to be with us as we went into this sister's home. Next, we headed over to Gracinda's house. Sister McKnight had made brownies (you have to have treats, right?) and I made some punch, (real hard…just dump the packet mix in water and shake it…). Oh, we had a wonderful time - laughing and crying. I was surprised to see the shock on these sister's faces. Even though they live here on this humble island, even they were shocked to see the extremely poor conditions of this sister. It brought them to tears.
On this phase, we were just sorting through clothes. At the end of Gracinda's bed is a very large TV box that was full of clothes. Most of them were holey and stained, but we just started sorting. There was also a large bag full of clothes and when I lifted it up, cockroaches went squirming! It was awesome!!! Gracinda and I looked at each other and just started laughing; To see the sister’s faces and to watch them jump back. It didn't faze me at all.
I was doing some cleaning under the bed and came upon a machete. I pulled it out from under the bed and the sister just started to laugh
I found out that Gracinda uses it on a pig when they are out of meat. (No, there is no Wilber here from the movie " Charlotte’s Web".)
Life is hard here, but I can see how the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is changing the lives of the people and how our loving Savior is blessing them and this Land with His Light. Oh, how I love being a missionary! My life is forever changed and God is teaching me how to be a leader.
I love Him and my Savoir with all of my heart.I know that God lives and that He loves each and every child on the face of His world… you and me. My prayer for all who will read this is that you will know that you are loved. If you don't know this, please pray to your Heavenly Father, in humble prayer and with fasting. I promise that He will answer your prayers. I don't know in what way, but He will. Then, when you know that you are loved, go and share that love with someone in need. He has asked us to “feed His sheep”, and to “consider the lilies of the field”. He will feed those who trust him. We are all God's children. My testimony is strengthened as I serve my brother's and sister's here in Cape Verde. I am grateful for my Savior and the love he offers me.
My eye's are filled with tears as I write to you this day. I am so very deeply humbled to serve my Savior, Jesus Christ; to be His servant. As I see the great needs of the people here in this part of the Lord's vineyard, I am filled with joy that even the smallest act of kindness or service makes such a huge difference in their lives. .They are such humble people; our brothers and sisters. I fall to my knee's each night in gratitude for this wonderful opportunity to be a missionary here.
I don't know if you have heard of the starfish story so I would like to invite you to listen to it. Then come back and enjoy my starfish story.
I found my starfish - Gracinda is her name. She is my neighbor. (I talked about her in an earlier post)
She has 5 children with another one on the way. Her first 3 children's father left for a better life in Portugal and the father of the younger 2 is George and he is Gracinda's current boyfriend and soon to be husband (if I can share with her and convert her to the importance of being married…) That seems to be a problem here. No one likes to get married. I'm not sure if it's because of the money or what.
Any way…I invited Gracinda to come to our stake conference my second week here and she came! The next week, both Gorge and Gracinda came. Then on Monday, the 19th, Sister McKnight, myself and the Elders had family home evening with her family. What a sweet tender spirit I felt as I watched the children sing with us. Then Elder Olsen asked Edu to offer the opening prayer. At first he was shy but then consented and did a great job. This sweet boy is very special to some of you who will read this, for he tells me all the time about his American friends: Brother and Sister Adams, Sister Palmer, Elder Palmer, Sister Cummings, President Holt - he loves all of you and when he talks of you his eyes light up and there is a spiritual connection for him. I am humbled to follow in your footsteps in making a difference in this boy’s life and that of his family. I love them so much.
So I met this neighbor of mine about 4 or 5 days after I arrived and since that time until today, I have seen much of how this woman cares for her family. Her home needs some major work to make it a safe and habitable place to live. She has no running water, no toilet (yes…it is called a bucket for urine and a bag for the other which is then placed outside for the garbage truck to take away.)
They live with pigs -3 large,3 medium, 7 babies, 4 chickens, and1 rooster, along with a lizard that I saw while I was cleaning, cockroaches and other sorts of bugs. I spent 3 hours on Saturday with Gracinda and her children cleaning, washing clothes and laughing.
They probably think I'm crazy but I wanted to do what they do and learn how to use a wash board. It works!
Then we hung the clothes on the line which is across the street in an empty lot which 3 or 4 neighbors all use. It's great! Then I showed Gracinda how I clean with clorox and a-jax. She was smiling and at one point I was crying as I felt her burden being lifted and her bright smile would light up the room. She is so dear to me. It is true what people say, “I can't save or help everyone, but I can make a difference in one persons life” for I know this to be true as well… that if we just help one, each of us the world would be in a better place. I know…for I was a lost sheep and I was found..
I love you all. I love my children. I am so grateful for the knowledge that I have of the restored gospel and that families can be together forever. I know that the Book of Mormon has been restored for us and I love the peace that it brings as I read the words and am taught the mysteries of God through the gift of the Holy Ghost and prayer. What wonderful gifts! Oh, how I love my Savior, my Redeemer. May our Heavenly Father keep you safe and filled with peace as you put your trust in Him. I love being a missionary and I am grateful to serve my Savior.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen
I Love being a missionary! (…oh maybe I've already told you that…)
This past week I met with the director of the hospital here. Her name is Melcilde Costa. (She is standing in the photo with me, Sister Oliveira and the Neonatologist.)
These doctors sacrifice so much to do the best that they can to provide good health care for the people of the Cape Verde Islands. The name of the hospital is: (HAN), Hospital Agostinho Neto. They are in need of many supplies. If I were a millionaire I would take care of their needs personally; But since I'm not…I hope, through this missionary blog, that I can share with you the needs here. I pray that those who have a desire and the means to help will reach out to these humble people.
As I was sitting with Melcilde in her office, along with Sister Oliveira and another doctor, I shared my deep desire to be of service to the hospital and the people of Cape Verde. She also said that it was her desire as well, and as she was saying this she put her hands on her desk. I reached out and put my hands in hers, and with tears streaming down my face, I told her that “we are sisters and that I loved her along with Sister Oliveira, and that the other doctor in the room was my brother and that we are all family.” The spirit touched her and she too, was overcome with emotion. It was a sweet spiritual feast and perhaps the fulfillment of a promise that I had made in the pre-existence.
Then she took me on a tour of the hospital, along with the president of the hospital. I didn't get her name but she was so kind, and humble as well. There are some parts of the hospital that have been remodeled and are clean. The Neonatal unit is one of them. There were 12 preemies’ in there; the heaviest one was 31/2 pounds and the smallest was 1lb.6oz. None of them were on ventilators. There is only one ventilator for the entire hospital. They try to save them with the one they have but they cannot keep them on it for survival, as it is the only one in the entire hospital. So, if a baby can't sustain life on its own, they have to let them die. It a very sobering thought. They need 3 - 4 more ventilators. I will be sending a link so that you can see the list of items that are needed. I have a new friend that I met on my plane ride here that is willing to help with some costs and the church may also be able to help with shipping if there is room in the containers. There is a shipment leaving Salt Lake in December, I believe, but not sure. The patients at the hospital have nothing unless they bring it with them. They lie on a bed without any sheets. If I have a missionary that needs to be hospitalized I have to bring a sheet, pillow, water for drinking and bathing, food, soap, toothbrush and any of his/her personal hygiene items. Some of the patients that I saw didn't have anything. It made my heart feel sad. And I said to myself, “If I had, I would give.” This is a challenge for me; so I do a lot of praying that God will open the windows of heaven and bless this hospital with basic needs that will not only help…but save lives. This pictures is outside the ER. The waiting room was full, so you just have to wait outside. You are not allowed to stand in the waiting room. If there are no empty chairs to sit on, then you have to wait outside. When it is your turn, only the patient and one other person is allowed inside with you. You can see how old this hospital is and the need to remodel and clean it up. It smells as bad as it looks. (...think urine and humidity!) Yesterday we had 40 baptisms in our mission; 11 in our branch. I cried through the entire thing. The spirit was so strong and sweet. I love this gospel and I love being here in this part of the Lord's vineyard. As I watched the each Elder assist the converts into the baptismal font, the smiles on their faces were priceless. Then there was the embrace afterward…I wondered if any of them felt like it was the Savior wrapping his arms around them. One of the converts was so tall that it took three times to keep all of him under water. There was a little boy watching and he started giggling. (so cute)
After the baptism two single sisters asked if they could come over and pop some popcorn for a single's movie night. We had a great time and I learned how to pop, popcorn the old fashioned way. I was grateful that they taught me. In closing I would like to share my testimony. I know that our Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ live and that they love each one of us so very much. I know that they answer our prayers and that they have a great desire to bless each of us, their children. We are the only things that get in their way. I made a choice before I came on my mission to ‘get out of the way’ and let him refine me, teach me, and love me. It works! I shared my testimony today, (1/4 in Portuguese and 3/4 in English along with the help of sister Oliveira who translated for me.) I love my Savior with all my heart and my greatest desire is to be just like him in every way. I want my character to match his.
I am so grateful for Joseph Smith, and his willingness to translate the Book of Mormon. I know that it is true and that any question can be answered in this book along with prayer and fasting. I love my children Taylor and Sophie, Maddison, Houston and Natalie, Zachary and Brenda. I miss you as well, but just know that Heavenly Father blesses us when we make sacrifices. Thank you to everyone for ALL your love and support. You help to lighten my load and just knowing that you are behind me gives me strength. I love my Savior and I love all of you. May God bless and keep you safe and with a fill you with greater capacity to love one another, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
All my love, Sister Cassita
Here is my mailing address for letters or packages: (It's good to include the mission phone number on the mailing form)
So here is
my experience with being fine-tuned in humility. On Saturday night,
several members were asked to share their conversion stories. This
couple who had recently been sealed in the temple were just amazing, and
the spirit was so strong as they spoke. The wife spoke first and then
her husband, Holden, (the brother that I mentioned before that was
interpreting for me.) So, He talked about falling in love all over again
with his wife and that he loves his wife and that he loves telling
everyone that he loves his wife. It made the congregation laugh; he was
darling. Then on a more serious note he said. “We need to humble
ourselves". I about fell off my seat! Was this really coming out of this
poor mans mouth? I have come to realize, through the help of my best
friend Marci, and through prayer, that humility is not about money; It
is about our hearts...yours and mine. We do what we can, and then we ask
the Lord for His help with the rest - like we do A,B.C, and then the
Lord steps in and does D,E,F, or actually he probably does D-Z!
During the week I went over and introduced myself to my neighbor. Her name is Gracinda.
is 42 years old; a single mother with 5 children. Rejina 17- girl,
Emanul 15-boy, Edu 12-boy, Jorjiana 3-girl, and the baby Jorjinho 1-boy.
They are darling children. The mother was so sweet and I picked up the
baby off the ground where he was crawling naked. The little girl was
also naked. I wasn't sure if it was because they had no clothes or
because it is very warm and humid here. So, not being able to
communicate well, I called my Portuguese tutor, Jussara. (She is
wonderful.) Anyway, I had her ask my neighbor if I could see the inside
of her home and to ask her if she needed any food. The mother told her
that she had some beans that she was cooking and some rice, but that she
didn't have anything else. So then I had her tell the daughter to watch
the baby while I took the mother to the store to get some food. The
stores here have very few items and there frozen section is about the
size of the freezer's on the top of our refrigerators -small, small,
By the time we finished she had
3 baskets of food with tears in her eye's. The owner of their store
spoke some English and I was able to communicate that I wanted to help
her get some food. He was so nice and helpful and after we had checked
out he went outside and got a taxi for us. It was not that far to walk
but boy was it hot and I had sweat dripping from my face. The ride only
cost me about 60 cents. Then I had made arrangements to have my tutor
meet me at my neighbors house later that day. Jussara spoke for me and
this is what I shared with my neighbor. I told her in America that we
take care of our neighbors and that we get to know them and become
friends with them. The mother smiled. Then I told her that I would be
living in my home for 18 months and that we are now neighbors, and that I
wanted to help her. Her mother was also present at the time, along with
her children. She shared with me that her source of income was her
pigs; she has 3 large and 3 small. When she sells one of them off, the
money has to last long enough until one of the other pigs is large
enough to get a good price. So, as you can see, this could be a great
challenge. Her place is so dirty. (and I don't say that in any way of
judging her - she is in survival mode at the present time.)
I asked if I could help her clean up her house and teach her some cleaning techniques that I know. She smiled and hugged me and kissed my face about 5 or 6 times.
Jussara told her about the stake conference that was on Sunday and invited her to come. I told her that I would come and get her. So, Sunday comes; it's 9:30 and conference starts at 10:00. I knocked on the door. “Ola Sister”, I said. She came to the door. Of course, no one was ready but no problem. I bought some diapers with me, so I put one on the baby and got him dressed. She was digging for some clothes in an old box. The clothes were all tiny, but I stretched the shirt and it worked. The little girl had a dress. I was sweating all over, but it didn't matter. I had a mission, and it was to get this family to the church. Then Jussara showed up just at the right time. I could see that the mother was stressed trying to find something for herself to wear. I ran to my home and grabbed some clothes. Knowing that they would fall off of her I also grabbed the safety pins. Success! I pinned the skirt, and the shirt worked, and I gave her my shoes. We made it on time and Sister McKnight had saved us some seats. The choir was singing the opening hymn. Africans sure know what volume is! They were singing with such passion and conviction. It brought me to tears. I was a sweaty mess, but that didn't matter. The mother was glued to the speakers and the expression on her face told me that she was being taught and then I began to cry. The baby hadn't eaten breakfast yet, so I took him to my house and fed him. (I just live across the street, thank goodness.)
My dear family and friends, I love my mission; I love my Savior; I love this gospel; the only true gospel upon the earth today. If you are struggling in any way - get the distractions out of your life and come unto Him and He will give you rest. I don't know how that looks for you, but for me, it is here that I find rest from the world. Being a missionary is a privilege and I am so humbled, I mean truly humbled, to be one of His servants. God loves broken things.
I thought that I would come to this mission to help others and yet I am getting help at the same time. It's wonderful. If any of you would like to do something for this family for Christmas, that would be just great and they would be so grateful. I know many of you have asked me to let you know how you can help. Well, this is just the start. And if you know me at all, there will be more to come. I miss you already but I am happy here serving the Lord.
I can't believe that I have been here a week! We had 5 baptisms on Saturday, just in our branch. The
church is growing so fast here. I was told that they have at least 5-15 baptism
every Saturday. The missionaries are really doing great. I played the piano at
the baptism, only because the Branch President asked if I could play. I told
him, “Not very good,” and he smiled and said, “Great! You will do fine.” Oh my
goodness, my hands were shaking! I have never played for a congregation -
ever - and I never thought I would! Well…God had other plans! I had to lift my
hands off the keyboard a couple of times because I had played the wrong notes,
but thank goodness, they did just fine with my mistakes. I will be practicing
this week – A LOT!
We have a brother Holden who
works in the mission home. His is so patient and kind. We are in the process of
starting a Distribution
Center here and as soon
as it is up and running, Holden will be the manager of it. He works for the
church right now.
(FYI...click on the pictures to see them bigger...)
Anyway this weekend Myself, Sister McKnight (my roommate),
Elder and Sister Mathews, Holden and his wife Sandra, (both natives) and two
German brethren that were here to help get things started with the distribution
center – we all took a day trip to a place called Terrafal.
Holden's Home village. His mother is the sweetest thing ever! They live in one
of the poorest areas on the island. But when I walked into the house, they all
were smiling and grabbed me, and gave me kisses and hugs!
(Holden, his 2 brothers, me, his mother, and is wife)
I gave Holden 1,000.00
escudo's before we left. I told him to use it to have a good time with his
parents. He couldn't believe it and asked why I would do this? I told him, “Because
I can.” He had tears in his eyes. So you can understand how much this is, the
exchange rate is 81 escudo's to one dollar. So I basically gave them $12.32.
The average income for a Cape
Verdian per day is $6.45.
Holden's parents live way below that average. He is a great man and a
strong member of the church. Both he and his brother have served missions for
the church here on their islands.
I am getting better with finding
my way around; however I did get lost one time. I was headed home from the
mission office and I told the taxi driver where to take me but I didn't
pronounce it right. I don't know where we were but I called sister Oliveira on
my cell phone then gave the phone to the taxi driver and he laughed - so I
laughed - and he took me home. It's a great adventure out here.Check out these random spiders just hanging from wires - all over! Awesome!
I love my roommate, Sister
McKnight. She is from Idaho;
also a single mother of four children. She has 15 grandchildren and is a little
more cautious than I am. (…imagine that)
So my first priority is to care
for all 78 missionaries here, and the mission president and his wifeI will be putting together first aid kits this
week. I have to go to the pharmacy and buy all the medications to put in them -
a total of about 15 medications that will cover a lot of sicknesses. Then I’ll
fill a large Ziploc bag with the name of each drug, what it is used for, and
how often to take it. It really is a good thing for all of the missionaries to
have, especially those that are on other islands.
I want to thank you all again
for your love and support.I know that
God lives and that he loves each one of us so much, I know that we have a
Savior, Jesus Christ, who atoned for our sins and I know that Joseph Smith was
given the keys to bring to pass the restored gospel upon the earth for these,
the Latter Days. I am so grateful to be his disciple. I am humble to be here
serving in a “Land
of Light”, where the
gospel is growing so rapidly. I know that Joseph Smith would have tears in his
eyes if he could see the church here. I love each of you so very much. Always
remember to be kind to one another and most importantly be kind to yourselves.
When we forgive ourselves it allows growth to happen. “I feel my Savior's love,
in all the world around me.” May our Heavenly Father bless and keep each of you
safe, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Well, I arrived here in Cape Verde and
I love it already! The plane ride was
not bad. I traveled with 7 elders and 2 sisters, all headed to my mission. Bless
their hearts…they all took a few extra things in their own carryon luggage for
me…extra medical supplies and such. I
got everything over here that I wanted to! We flew to Boston;
then 6 hours later headed straight to Cape Verde. I slept most of the way here which was nice.
(The time difference is 5 hours ahead of SLC) The gentleman sitting next to me
on the plane to Boston works for Adobe and has offered to help with the great
needs of these people….medical supplies, hygiene kits, primary materials,
nursery toys, etc. Truly, “God is in the
details of our lives!”
Did I say already that I LOVE
my mission? President and his wife, Sister Oliveira, are
so kind! Sister Oliveira was in tears when she saw all the supplies that I
brought with me. The mission home is about a 15 minute taxi ride from my “deluxe”
apartment. Really…I was expecting something much more…well…dirt floors…or
something. My roommate, Sister McKnight,
I am so excited for the
people of Cape Verde.
The people are lovely and there are a lot of needs. It’s a lot like the AzoreIslands
just north of here, where I used to live…hot and humid and great! I have
already met some CapeVerdians and they are
sooooo sweet, happy and kind. Also, they
are very affectionate towards one another. The water is beautiful and I am walking distance to the shore. Did I say I LOVE IT HERE!?!?!
I will be flying to all 8 of
the islands that we have missionaries on within the next 30 days to build a
rapport with the doctors and nurses. The
Missionaries are great. There is such a great spirit here among them! Tomorrow I’m headed to the other side of this island
to see my first sick missionary. Let the
I am so happy to be
here! So much to learn! I can do hard things, but this feels easy at
I need to get good at speaking
Portuguese quickly. I think I’ll find me
a private tutor in the ward.
Thank you again, to everyone
who has had a part in my being here. Words cannot express how grateful I am to
you for your love and support. I am so
honored to be a servant of the Lord in this part of His vineyard. God bless you all in your efforts in your part
of His world as well.
This is the address for a letter or a package. (Packages take about a month, but seem to get here safely.)
...Laughing .... crying, ....smiling. Today was my last day of classes with our
district. I learned so much. We closed our day with the sharing of our
testimonies. The spirit was so strong. My life is forever changed for the
better. I am grateful for the staff, volunteers and President and
Sister Stock at the MTC. If you ever want to know what it
feels like to be in a cocoon - come to the MTC, It is Heaven on Earth. AH,
Today I walked up and shook the hand of an apostle of the Lord - David A. Bednar.
Elder and Sister Bednar spoke at our devotional tonight. It was truly a spiritual feast. My thoughts, based on what I heard him say... Be prepared to hasten God's work here upon this earth. I love my Savior so much. I know He lives. I know that He needs a lot more from all of us. We have had time to prepare, the time has come to act.
I have officially left the things of the world behind and now find myself standing on Holy Ground! Everywhere I walk and look; everything I listen to, smell, or see brings tears to my eyes...I stand on Holy Ground.
I will be forever in the debt of my best friend Marci Nilsson for helping me to prepare for my mission. I would not be here if it weren't for her unconditional love, patience and long suffering. I want to be just like her when I grow up.
I am also humbled by the staff and Missionaries that have served me this day. I feel like I am in a cocoon. It will be difficult to leave this place, so I will cherish every moment I have here. I have received much instruction today that has been a little over-whelming; but the best thing ever in the "Lord's University", is that I can't fail. Just the fact that I am here today...I get an "A". So I say to all missionaries that may feel like you didn't complete a mission. Just stop that negative thinking right now! Just the fact that you were willing to go and started the process... you have shown the Lord that you are a part of His Army and I am honored to serve with you.
May God Bless and keep you safe. Love, Sister Cassita
My spirit was always singing "I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord", but my heart longed to go to Africa. When I submitted my mission papers I was told that they were absolutely not sending single sister missionaries to Africa....well....except...THIS ONE!!!!!! Truly God is a God of miracles! The next miracle will be the way in which He provides for me to be there financially. I answered His call for me to go on this mission in faith that He would provide, since I knew He was asking me to go...NOW, and I didn't have the resources. Now, I'm going four months earlier than anticipated and my earning potential has been cut off. I know He will take care of me and I go forward in perfect faith. If you have a desire to help support me, even a little, you can consider one of the following three options: 1. Online donations at www.youcaring.com 2. Deposit to Chase Bank (email me for account information) 3. Mail donation to: Bishop Michael T. Baum Ashley Park Ward 10045 S Ridgegate Cir Sandy, Ut 84092 (On tithing slip in "other" box - Ward Missionary Fund - Liz Cassita)
Thank you so very much to all those who have already asked how they could help! Please know how very very grateful and humble I feel to be embarking on this sacred journey. I will carry your love to the people in Cape Verde!
I will be serving a medical nursing mission, which isn't mentioned on this site, but still, lots of relevant information. I enter the MTC January 28th!!!! Not Africa...but still amazing! "I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord" I hear there are lots of orphanages there...can't wait to serve!