Greetings from the Island of Sal!
Well, I'm officially off the island of Santiago. I about cried as I watched its shores disappear from the airplane, but then I fell asleep (I must have been tired since it was only about a thirty minute flight) and woke up in time to see the very clean, very clear waters of the Sal!
By the way, not only was it my first flight since coming in from Portugal, but it was also the first time I've been without a companion for almost an entire year. It was very bizarre waiting in the airport by myself and then carrying my scripture-stuffed carry-on all by myself. Luckily the guy sitting next to me helped me hoist it into the thingie (what's it called?) because that's where all my weight was. I was very excited that I didn't have to pay any overage fees for my suitcase. What? I was living in the same city as Sucupira for a long time!
Anyway, Sal is pretty amazing. It's also about the exact opposite of Praia. Praia is crazy, loud, dangerous, dirty and smelly. Sal is calm, quiet, clean and smells fairly good. I told Sister Walker it reminded me of Wallsburg. She asked what in the world that meant. But it seriously reminds me of Wallsburg. Its super quiet and you can walk through the streets in the middle of the afternoon and not see a single person around.
Also, it's flat. From our house you can see the three little hills that I think they'd call mountains in the distance and in the other direction one end of the island. Beach! I really, really like it. It's strange and slightly depressing to not have a lady selling candy, pork sandwiches or clothing every ten feet on the side of the road, but on my first day here I ate a fresquinha and a donut, so that helped calm my anxiety.
don't know, as much as I love Praia and miss its craziness and its people very much, I'm loving Sal. Here are a few tender mercies the Lord has put in Sal to make me less heartsick for Praia and Sucupira:
Brian and Evelyn - my two favorite little people so far. Brian is ADORABLE. He's the branch mission leader's son and he's SO cute. His mom leads the music in Sacrament meeting and afterwards Brian (who can't be more than 1 or 2) showed me his conducting skills. He waves his tiny finger in the air and says 'Alleluia'! It's so cute. Okay. And Evelyn is another cute little kid who's the sister of a member and we bonded at the branch's integration night. During our lessons (we teach an investigator at their house) she comes to the door and yells 'Sishter!' until someone lets her in.
Hot bread - we have neighbors around the corner who are all members and all incredible. Bro. Ramos is the Elder's quorum president, their daughter works with the young women, their son-in-law is the mission leader and they're just incredible. Sis. Ramos is so nice--they're the grandparents of Brian (and Debi who's super cute too and doesn't stop talking to us when we come over). But they make and sell bread and every morning they bring bread over to our house and we buy it. :) It's delicious.
Sister Walker - is awesome. She's really incredible. She only has a transfer and a half left but we've been working hard this week. Thank goodness! It's so nice to be able to go to work with a companion who's ready to work, too. She teaches piano lessons and English class and she's the second counselor in the Young Women's...basically we have a lot to do here in the branch. I'd say there are about 50 active members in the one branch here in Sal and the missionaries are a big part of it. But Sal's been growing so much that they announced a chapel here too! Awesome. Anyway, Sister Walker is great.
My bed is also very comfortable and we haven't run out of water (yet) and the power hasn't gone out once.
Also, basically all of Sal is a beach. We mostly walk around in sand. There are some cobblestone roads, but mostly just sandy/dusty roads. I love it.
This week I've basically just been trying to learn my way around the area (I think the two main towns/cities in our area are Espargos (Asparagus) and Hortela (Mint)) and trying to remember people's names and faces. I love it. I really do. We're teaching some really great people right now. Leidymara who will be baptized this week, Edson (who had an awesome Afro, but now it's braided), Artur (who's a sweetheart and I'll probably be telling you more about him soon), Cicita and others. We're also teaching Ciza and Augusto and their son Florindo. Ciza and Augusto need to get married but they're hilarious and super fun to teach.
I love the gospel (even though this week I'll admit I was distracted a bit by the change of scenery) and I LOVE being a missionary. It really is SO great. I love you all! Hope everyone's doing great!