Friday, November 23, 2012

Week 4 - Happy Thanksgiving!

Oh my goodness, how time flies when you’re having fun!
I just love being a missionary! This is just amazing!

On Saturday, Sister McKnight and I went for a walk, out to see the
light house.

I said to her, “Are we on a mission or a vacation?” 

The ocean is so beautiful with every color of blue in it. Heavenly Father
has used every color to create this wonderful world that we live in.
His paint palette must be endless. The waves would break on the
volcanic rock causing the water to change from this beautiful blue to
the most exquisite white that I have ever seen. 

Water can be so pretty, either as a wave or with the glistening sun shinning on it. 

We enjoyed walking around the light house and watching life in Cape Verde.

I can't hold back from saying hi to everyone. They are so kind and
warm. I can hardly wait for my Portuguese to improve so that I can
communicate better with them. Oh how I love these people! Even on our
free time I share the gospel. There was a young boy that asked for
some money. I started asking him if he knew about the church. He said
no, but right at that time, another young man that is in my branch was
passing by and he spoke a little English. I invited him to be a
missionary and teach this young boy with the help of the missionaries.
He smiled so big with his pearly white teeth and beautiful smile. He
is 18 and could be leaving on a mission but I don't know because of
the little Portuguese I can speak.

Another day, I met this little girl in the clinic while waiting for
one of my missionaries. She came over and pushed me, so I pushed her
back. I think she was in shock. Then I tickled her and she had the
cutest giggle. Then she pointed at my lips and said "bonito"
(beautiful). I had lipstick on, so I took out my lipstick and put some
on her lips and showed her how to rub her lips together and then I
said "bonito". She grinned and turned around and showed her mom.

I think everyone in the clinic was in shock (safe place to be, right?)
but all were intrigued by this little girl that was so full of love
and spunk. I try to always carry candy in my purse and on this day it
was a good thing because there was a long wait at the clinic and the
candy kept the children happy. I might make a new name for myself…
“the white candy lady”… or something like that.

This is the place to come if you love fish; Fresh every day. But since
I got sick after eating some, at a place that was a little sketchy, I
won't be partaking of anymore fish for a while.

Oh, how I love my Heavenly Father, and my Savior for showing me the
way by His example in the scriptures of how to be a true disciple. I
know my Savior lives. I am so grateful for Joseph Smith and his
enduring to the end so that we could have this great book, The Book of
Mormon. I want to say thank you to those of you who have helped me in
any way to be here on a mission. I know that I would not be here
without you and without my Savior. May God bless you all! There is
much work to be done here and I am so, so, humbled to serve my Savior
and these beautiful Cape Verdeans. They are my brothers and sisters,
as well as all of you, and I love all of you with all of my heart.

I found out today that my son Taylor, and Sophie are going to have a
BOY! It will be very hard to not be there but one thing I know for
sure; God blesses us when we make sacrifices.
Congratulations Tay Tay.

I leave this with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Week 3 - The Hospital Visit

My Dear Family and Friends, 

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)

Cape Verde,Praia Mission
C.P. 420
Praia, Ilha de Santiago
Cabo Verde

mission office phone
(238) 262-9403

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Week 2 Another great week in Cape Verde!

This past weekend was our Stake Conference. Wow!  

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.

She 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, 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.

God bless the United States of America. 
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!

Sister Cassita/Lizzy

Friday, November 2, 2012

Week 1 - Loving LIfe

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.

( 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. 

This is 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 wife  I 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.

Sister Cassita