Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Contact Contact

November 19, 2010

Hello! I don't have a cool Portuguese greeting today.

I hope everyone is doing well because I'm doing AWESOME-ly. That's a word, right?

Happy birthday, Amy! I'm pretty sure it's today.

And happy birthday, Callie, in a few days! (PS: I'm so jealous of all your adventures and travels and I can't wait to hear more. Thanks, Bro. & Sis. Eatough, for sending me her email!!)

I'm SO excited for my new (on his way) NEPHEW! I have to agree with Ellery that he should be named Harry Potter. However, I've still been crossing my fingers for a Cyrus. :)

Oh goodness. This has been an amazing week, but so have they all. Sister Cook for the Young Women general presidency (acho que) spoke in Relief Society on Sunday and it was really wonderful. But I would have to look at my notes to remember that far back. The MTC Fireside that night, though, was Brother Lusvardi and he gave a wonderful talk about how important love and charity is in our work. I feel like I learn that more each day, and it is so important. When we really love the people we serve, we know how much the gospel will bless their lives and we won't let a slammed door stop us from trying to serve and teach them.

In our Large Group Meeting this week, the teacher told us a story about a little girl he met on his mission, selling tortillas on the side of the road. He said they first noticed her because she was holding her giant tray of tortillas and just sobbing. He said his companion immediately pulled over and asked her what was wrong. She told them that if she didn't sell all her tortillas before it got dark (which it was fast becoming), her parents would beat her. Of course, they, without hesitation, pulled out their small amount of money and bought the rest of her tortillas. They watched as she hurried home, all her tortillas now sold. Afterwards, however, Elder Littlefield realized that if they had really loved her, they would have found out where she lived and taught her family the gospel. Imagine how much better her life would be if her father held the priesthood and she got to grow up knowing her Savior and Heavenly Father! We really are performing a labor of love for the people we will be teaching!

Also on Sunday, the sisters in our branch sang “Lead Kindly Light” (first verse in Portuguese, second in Italian and third in English) and I got to play the piano for sacrament meeting as well. It was awesome. Three of our sisters have left for the field, but this week we got FIVE more Brazil-bound sisters! We have almost fifteen sisters in our branch now! It's crazy.

In class this week we played this great game where Irmão Matheson read a scripture in Portuguese and we had to find it in English. Needless to say, Sister Laimana and I and Elder Gunter were basically the best team ever! Yes. It was a lot of fun. Cool story, right?

For the Tuesday Devotional we sang “Jesus Once of Humble Birth,” arranged by the very first MTC choir director...whose name I cannot remember. I especially liked it because it seems like a good song to begin the transition into Christmas hymns! The sisters in our district have been counting the days until we can sing Christmas songs in class -- the teachers and elders won't let us until after Thanksgiving. :) Which is in less than a week!! Happy Thanksgiving!

Guess who the Tuesday Devotional speaker was? President Monson!!

Okay. I'm just kidding. But we have faith he will come. :) It was actually Elder Kevin Pearson of the Seventy and it was an INTENSE talk. The talks are, like, forty minutes long, but his flew by. I have, like, three pages of notes. It was really, really great. He gave us several principles of power including such things as prayer and obedience. He also stressed the importance of knowing our divine identity. We are striving to truly be, in every sense, disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. Oh. It was so powerful.

We also sang “To Bring the World His Truth” as one of the songs during that meeting. Look at the words and just imagine how it would feel to be one of 2,300 full-time missionaries singing that together. It was awesome.

Um...I had my first meal here where I actually ate everything on the plate. :) Some sort of chicken, noodle casserole. Just thought you should know I finally found something good to eat. Mostly I just fill up on chocolate milk every day. :)

I've already discovered my favorite Portuguese phrase, which I say about twenty times a day: Que vergonha. "How embarrassing." Thank you, Lisa. :)

We had a really great TRC experience this week and I really see how we're making progress. I love it. We've really been trying to speak as much Portuguese as possible, which is good since we have to give the entire first lesson in Portuguese next week.

I forgot to explain my [email] subject line last week [The Bird in the Cafeteria], though I'm sure it was self-explanatory: There was a bird living in the 'rafters' of the cafeteria for, like, eight days. It's probably dead now. :(

The other day we left dinner and one of Sis. Laimana's contacts fell out, so she put it on the tip of her tongue to keep it from drying out (must be a Hawaii thing – ha-ha) and of course a couple elders came up and wanted to contact us in Portuguese. It was just one of those really funny, indescribable situations where I started laughing really hard because we were being contacted while she had a contact in her mouth. The contact contact. Anyway, you probably had to be there. :)


Sister Brooks

I'm not sure if that's spelled correctly. I asked a sister going to France, but who knows...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Over Three Weeks in the MTC

November 12, 2010

Subtitle: O Melhor Dia de Minha Missao (every day)


Oh my goodness! I'm a missionary. And it's awesome! I can't believe I've been here for over three weeks! I love being in the MTC and learning and strengthening my testimony, but I also can't wait to be in Cape Verde and sharing that testimony with EVERYONE I meet!

I don't think I've told you much about our Branch. (Or I told you all about it in my last letter, because that sentence sounds familiar.) But it's the largest in the MTC and composed of both Portuguese and Italian-speaking missionaries. We have a lot of Brazil-bound missionaries waiting for visas. Our two roommates just got their reassignments, one to Spokane, WA and the other, who's already gone (!) to Houston, TX. It's pretty crazy that even what seems like a mistake (no visas) is actually just part of God's plan for us. I know that if these two sisters hadn't had visa problems, I would never have met them and my first weeks at the MTC would have been SO much harder. It's so wonderful to see all the ways Heavenly Father shows His love for us.

Okay, now to the good stuff. It was an incredible week! Zone Conference last Friday and Mission Conference on Sunday. Wow. Both were amazing. Then on Sunday night, for the MTC fireside, Sheri Dew was the speaker! It was really great though and we had front row seats. She spoke about how little time we really have on this earth and how we can't afford to waste it. She also told us never to forget who we really are -- sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us! It was really wonderful.

Fast Sundays are really awesome here. I love hearing testimonies from the missionaries in Portuguese and Italian! It's so sweet. Even though I understand very little still, the Spirit still testifies to me of the truth.

Okay. I know you're all excited to hear who the speaker was this Tuesday. Any guesses? No? Okay, I'll tell you. Elder Bednar! And his wife. What an incredible experience. Elder Bednar spoke about the doctrines of the gospel. The answer is always in the doctrine! You can come up with a million gimmicks and tricks to get someone to stop smoking (or do their home teaching), but until they understand the doctrine and then the principle behind it, they'll never gain a testimony of their own and have spiritual independence. We can't always be there to keep our investigators doing what we want them to do. They have to know the WHY of what we're asking them to do. It was such a great talk. I'm going to have all my notes printed and bound when I get home because I've learned so much here!

Also, we were part of the choir for the devotional (mostly because we wanted good seats). The song we sang though was sweet. It's called “Look at the World,” I think, by John Rutter. It was a lot of fun, though, and we'll probably keep going.

I hemmed one of my skirts this week. I felt pretty proud of myself.

This week we had another TRC visit. We picked up our "investigator" and took him to church and had to talk to him on the bus. It was really hard, but great practice. And our lesson on the Plan of Salvation went pretty well. Unfortunately, we forgot to ask him to be baptized and he said he totally would have accepted. It was awesome.

I got a letter from my two favorite cousins this week! Thanks, Lisa and Julia!

Well, I'm running out of things to say. I'm not sure if I repeat myself every week or if there are a tons of things I should be telling you and just forget.

We've started playing basketball with a few Hermanas who are awesome! It's a lot of fun. We also go to this early morning sister workout every day (they don't want us getting too fat) which is pretty cool. Though I'm not very coordinated and some of the fancy, aerobics steps are way beyond me. Yeah.

Well, I love you all! Keep doing what you need to be doing.


Sister Brooks

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Church Is Near the McDonald's

November 5, 2010

Tudo bem?

Wow. I can't believe it's p-day again! The days literally fly by here. I never quite understood why people said a mission is over before you know it, but now I see. I love it here! Mom will be happy to know that I am never bored (and she's probably happy that she doesn't have to hear me say "I'm bored" twelve times a day)!

Well, I know you've all been waiting to hear who spoke to us on Tuesday this week. (Drum roll, please.) Elder Ballard! It was amazing and we had great seats -- though we almost got trampled by a herd of Elders. Elder Ballard spoke about becoming master communicators. It's crazy how every single lesson/talk/meeting seems to focus perfectly on our needs. That's the power of the Spirit! He told us that if we work diligently and treasure up the doctrine, we'll have confidence to be able to talk to everyone and will be able to become excellent teachers and communicators. I have some really great stuff written down, but not enough time to tell you about it! So, remind me in eighteen months and I'll show you my notes. One thing he did say was that "We're in this together," (Note the absence of the word “all” so as not to be confused with the “High School Musical” number.) referring to the fact that missionaries and general authorities [and members] are all working toward the same purpose: to invite others to come unto our Savior Jesus Christ.

Portugués is going well, I think. We've been hearing awesome stories about Portugal (and I have to remind myself that I'm not actually going to be serving there) because that's where both our teachers served. Also, as part of a lesson, we prepared a little contacting message and read it to the rest of the District. After I read mine Irmão M. asked if I'd studied Portuguese before I came! Am I bragging? NO! Because there is nothing that I can do save the Lord gives me the ability to do it. (But it did make me feel good.)

Also, we've memorized our purpose and the first vision (in Portuguese). I had the awesome/embarrassing opportunity to recite the first vision to the rest of the District. Afterwards for personal study, I read through JSH. I never remember just how awesome Joseph Smith's account is and the miracle that the Restoration is! Wow.

We do have our 'service hour' every week and it's a lot of fun. Ironically, whilst I was mopping the stairs, I broke the mop (and I hear one of my siblings has already set that precedent), but I fixed it. Cool story.

I'm not sure I've told you about our living arrangements. There are three bunk beds in our room and we have five sisters in there. I'm back on my top bunk! It's so great. Yes, it's too bad I don't have [cousin] Lisa on the bottom bunk anymore, but Sister Laimana is pretty much as cool as Lisa.

Speaking of Cape Verde, remember how I said I was never coming home? Well, I repeat: I AM NOT COMING HOME. The next time you see me, I hope to have progressed and changed and be way cooler than the Emma that left. So, no, I'm not coming home. But Sister Brooks will see you in 2012 and she is going to be sweet.

We had an incredible lesson on having faith in Jesus Christ. Irmão O. is always telling us that if we want to do everything God has asked us to do, it will be through faith. Many people believe in Christ, but do we BELIEVE Him? Do we believe that He will do what He has promised us? That the Atonement applies to us individually? We need to trust our Savior and believe that He has done all that He says He has.

My subject: A igreja fica perto do McDonald’s. We learned that sentence and an Elder said the Church purposely builds chapels next to McDonald’s so that missionaries can learn how to tell people where our church is located. One really dumb, gullible Sister said, "Really?!" Yeah...they don't really do that.

Funny story: There's a sign that says whether the missionary field is open or closed. The other day, after gym, we walked past it and instead of saying it was open, the OPEN had been covered with a sign that said WHITE, ALREADY TO HARVEST. The missionary field is white, already to harvest. Get it? Yeah, awesome!

Okay, that's all. I'm out of time. I love you all!


Sister Brooks