Sunday, February 21, 2016

Blown away and 77° in Cape Verde

Right now it is 77° Fahrenheit outside on a Sunday afternoon in Cape Verde.  We have discovered that this is the perfect place to visit during the winter months.  We left Frankfurt on Wednesday afternoon, arriving in Lisbon, Portugal three hours later.  After a five hour layover we continued on to Praia, Cape Verde, arriving a little after midnight Cape Verde time and 2:00 am,  Frankfurt time.  We were able to get to a hotel and finally sleep without any major difficulties.  The next day we spent time with our SRS manager, Lucilino Mendonça, as we visited a few businesses and spent time preparing for activities that will be occurring later on our trip.  The photo below was taken in the waiting room of the one of the businesses.  The waiting room is like an outdoor patio, with this banana tree growing.  We had a very nice visit with this company which provides a human resource service for many small companies, including being the legal employer for over 200 employees.  It may be my favorite waiting room that I have ever seen.  It generally only rains here during the month of August, so this works really well.

That night we took another flight to the island of São Vicente, city of Mindelo.  This will be our home for the next week (Thursday night until the next Thursday morning).  Here we will start the "Jobs Initiative" which we continue in several other islands in the next two weeks.  When we got off of the plane, we were met with incredible gusts of wind.  We believe that they were actually moving the airplane.  Those gusts of wind have continued until today.  They seem to be slowing down and according to forecasts should be gone within the next day or two.

Well we continued onto our hotel, had a dinner and got some sleep.   Below is my dinner plate, when I ordered a "Grouper" fish. You get the entire fish, bones, head and all.

 This city is somewhat small, only 88,000 inhabitants and the streets are wonderfully clean.  There is a comfortable feeling of peace and community. We can walk to most locations.  When we did take a taxi to the stake center, it cost the equivalent of US $2.00. The next day, after working with our SRS manager, James Tavares, we had a few moments to take some photos outside of our hotel. 

View over the bay at sunset

Very unique tree across the street from our hotel

Sister Rueckert with a view of the park across the street and the edge of the bay.

Lonny and Glenda Adams, former self-reliance missionaries in South Africa, were to meet us that night in Mindelo.  They are offering their services, as specialists in this Job Initiative.  Unfortunately, their flight from Lisbon, Portugal left late and they missed their connection between two islands.  So we didn't see them until Saturday morning.  After taking two days to get here, they suffered the dismay of being stuck in the elevator as they were going to their room at the hotel.  It only lasted a few minutes, but we felt really bad for them.  Later that day we went with them to a small grocery store to buy some food that we can eat in our hotel rooms.  I found there a very unique shopping cart. As you can see in the photo below, it is like a small hand basket, but it has wheels on one end.  So you can roll it along the floor and still lift it by the handle.  Sometimes you find really unique things as you visit new places.  Brother and Sister Adams are the couple int he photo below with Sister Rueckert.

We were able to have a wonderful meeting with the Stake Presidency in Mindelo Saturday afternoon as we learned of their challenges and concerns.  We loved their  interest in and support of the Self-Reliance Initiative.  They have the distinction of having the most participants registered on-line in My Path Devotionals in all of Europe with 232.  Almost 200 of those attended devotionals since January 31 of this year.  It was good to understand their feedback before we begin the priesthood training later today.  Later on we met with James and the Adams in his office and continued our preparations for the Jobs Initiative.  During that time we were able to be there while some new converts were baptized.

This morning we attended our Church meetings in one of the wards in Mindelo.  I was very impressed.  The talks in sacrament meeting were excellent.  Both Sunday School and Priesthood meetings were taught with excellent lessons.  There are many returned missionaries in these wards who provide great leadership and service.  Also many new converts and investigators.  The missionaries are working hard and are effective.  I am amazed at the power of young missionaries as they love the people, especially their investigators.  We saw one new member being confirmed and four new ordinations to the Aaronic Priesthood.  The sacrament meeting was full and all meetings had great participation.  This may be far from the center of the Church, but I feel like the Church is in good hands and the future is bright for Cape Verde.  Below is just a photo that I took of many of the people in the foyer after Church meetings, including a young missionary next to Sister Rueckert.

Well, we just got back from the stake leadership training meeting.  In my opinion, it went very well.  Of the five wards in the city, four of the bishops were there, most with a counselor and a self-reliance specialist.  The missing bishop was out of town and we will meet with him later this week, although his ward specialist was in attendance.  We also had the full stake presidency and the stake self-reliance specialist.  I shared most of the doctrine and the self-reliance process.  James and Lonny Adams did most of the sharing of the jobs initiative emphasis.  The leaders seemed very involved, had great questions and discussion.  At the end of the 2 hour meeting, it felt like we were all together with clear roles and direction.  It felt unified.  I know that the Lord was with us.  This is just a start, but what we have set in process should bless the lives of the 300+ members that they have identified as looking for work within this stake.

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