Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Dog’s Dinner

January 24, 2011

So this week has once again been very crazy! I now have three companions! Sort of. We've been having some training this week, learning some new techniques and changes to the way we teach. It should actually be easier for me, since I still don't really know how to teach, but it's a little overwhelming. But it's all right. For another week we'll be in a foursome, which in some ways is a little better. We split up every day and I've gotten to experience what it's like to teach the gospel two by two! So this week has been hard (training wasn't exactly loads of fun) but good.

Probably the best thing of the week was learning that Nene can be baptized! He's been taught all the lessons and hasn't been able to set a date because of difficulties with work and such, but thanks to a member his schedule at work is now such that he's going to be baptized, along with Maria his sister, on February 5th! Nene was the first member of their family to meet with the Sisters and since then his sister has been taught and will be baptized, and his cousin Mane has been baptized, received the Priesthood and just got a calling on Sunday! It's really exciting and was really special seeing the excitement Nene felt when he found out he could now be baptized! And hopefully now, when Silvani their little niece is 8, she'll be baptized too! I love seeing how the gospel blesses whole families.

I experienced my first blackout! And I now understand why it's called a BLACKout. Holy cow, it gets dark. We're not allowed to teach without lights, so we came home early and pulled out the candles and spent the night em casa.

My new experience of the week: This weird little beetle/bug dropped on my head while I was praying. Gross.

We had a really awesome Family Night in the home of a part-member/less-active family with some of our investigators and some other friends. It was really great. We were able to have a lesson and introduce some people to the church and how it helps families be more unified.

And we had some homemade pizza and cake. Win-win-win situations. I've sort of given up on the being careful what I eat. If it tastes good, I'll eat it. And thus my reputation as the American who eats everything continues.

Another new experience: As we were walking to Zelino's house, we saw a dog carrying his meal in his teeth: a little piglet. Too gruesome?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Riches of Cabo Verde

January 10, 2011

Well, I can't believe it's P-day again, but it's been a great day. We cleaned our apartment, ate some sweet potato french fries (courtesy of Sister Pinto) and went shopping! Ha-ha. I experienced the mall of Praia: Sucupira. It's basically an outdoor market with tons of American clothing, products and some Cabo Verde crafts and food. I want to buy everything! I'm trying to remember that I still have over a year to accumulate souvenirs. And most of the stuff wasn't even made in Cape Verde, so I try to remember that too. :)

Well, this week I learned several things:

1. They have Vienna sausages in Cape Verde.

2. Vienna sausages are still gross.

3. This one really gets me. It sort of burst my bubble of happiness: the chapel is just orange (pinkish orange) and off-white. But there are green and yellow plants around it.

4. The word for cockroach is barata. And they're gross. But not as gross as Vienna sausages.

5. It's really funny and really disrupts the lesson when a barata flies into Sister Pinto's hair.

Really great moment of the week. We're walking up the path to Zedina's home and a man comes towards us, riding a horse (a really skinny horse) and he's dressed in jeans, a padded motorcycle jacket and giant motorcycle helmet! He must have been dying of heat! Or he was really worried about falling off his skinny horse. I wanted to take a picture, but I was too busy trying not to laugh.

We had Zone Conference this week! It was awesome and...exhausting. My brain felt like it had taken a couple ACTs and maybe an Anatomy Portuguese! But it was great. And I got to bear my testimony in front of everyone. And play the piano. But I love our Zone and President and Sister Neves. And Elder and Sister Adams. It was a good day. But my brain really did hurt. And then I ate about half a chicken. Literally. We each had trays of fries and a giant half chicken.

It was Sister Almeida and Sister Pinto's birthday this week! We had a family night with Isa and Zezito, who are going to be married on Friday and baptized a couple weeks afterwards, to celebrate. It was fun, but I was out of my comfort zone. But I have a great game for Dad to play with his BYU ward. It's called Agua na Cara. Yup. Water in the face. Basically one person chooses a color or animal or whatever and then people have to guess. If you guess right, they throw a cup of water in your kind of game, right? And the Sisters say hi.

Isa and Zezito have a little boy who is adorable!!

I saw my first few mice yesterday. They're just little guys. And I still think they're cute.

We taught Mane about missionary work yesterday. Did I tell you about Mane? He was baptized in December and is incredible. We're also teaching two of his cousins. Maria is going to be baptized in two weeks and Nene is ready to be baptized but can't come to church because of work. It's really hard because he's not quite willing to change...but we're working on it

I'll admit I've really been struggling lately, with the language, the work, everything. But when we taught Mane about missionary work, everything sort of went away. It's still going to be hard, but I know why I'm here. I only forget that when I start thinking about myself. I was thinking (for about the 80th time) about President Hinckley's father's words: “Forget yourself and go to work.” How many missionaries, do you think, have been helped by that experience and those six words? If President Hinckley had done nothing else but share that story with the world, I'm sure he helped thousands of missionaries and who knows how many others because of those missionaries!! The Lord really knows what He's doing when He calls our prophets!

Emanuel. Unfortunately he's not progressing because he won't make time for church or our lessons. That was hard because he's really smart and really listened and thought hard about the things we taught him.

Nidia IS progressing, though, and came to church on Sunday! I'm really excited for her. I think church might have been a little hard for her, but I hope she'll keep coming. She's 14 and very smart and I know she'll be a real help to her family if she continues.

We got to clean the chapel on Saturday...for almost five hours. Sister Neves was a little upset that not very many members came to help and said so during Relief Society on Sunday. It was what the Sisters refer to as uma faca sem bolo. A knife without cake. Ha-ha. Oh man. I love Portuguese. And I'll like it more when I can actually speak and understand what's going on. : )

I think that's about it. No, wait. The Riches of Cabo Verde: rocks. There's danger of tripping over two things here. The first, obviously, is the rocks. The second is the dogs. Especially in the heat, there are hundreds of dogs splayed out all over the place. I think they're sleeping...

Here are your words:

abacaxi (ah-bawk-ah-she) - pineapple
ananas - also pineapple
chinelo (shin-el-u) - slipper
berinjela - eggplant (That one's for Grandma Hall)

Well, I love you all! I hope you're well! Miss you all! Keep being good.

Sister Brooks

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Burnt Brownies

January 3, 2011

Hello, Family!

Well, I'm still alive here in Cabo Verde. And it's 2011! That's really weird because I always associate the new year with snow or at least a couple days where I'm in need of long sleeves! The weather here is incredible. Pretty hot and windy, but very nice. You should all be jealous. But just remember: It's still winter and sooner or later I'm going to experience how hot Cape Verde really gets!

I'm glad to hear you listened to the conference announcement [about the Lisbon Temple] in Portuguese. If you think it doesn't sound how you expected, know this: I miss that Portuguese so much! The Portuguese here is...well, not the Portuguese I learned. To cite “The Best Two Years,” "What language was that? I'm in trouble because that's not what they taught me in the MTC!!" Bah.

I miss the kiddos so much! I can't help but laugh at all the stories about them.

My suitcase got here!! It had a million little tags and stickers on it, but it's here and I have stuff. Well, more stuff. Haha. And I can't complain about my clothes anymore since I lived in the same shirt and skirt for eight days. :)

Okay. New Year’s!! I went to sleep at, like, 4 o'clock Utah time. Haha. But don't worry, Sister Pinto woke me up about a dozen times to tell me how long there was until 2011. And then at midnight...oh, my gosh. I've never heard such loud noises! The whole island was screaming and honking their horns and blasting music and there were fireworks (that we heard but couldn't see). Yeah. And there were still parties going on when I woke up. But we had to be back home at 6 pm on New Year's Eve because everyone drinks. And when Sister Almeida was asked by one investigator why we had to stay home she answered, "Because of the violence," and they just nodded their head like that made perfect sense...dun-dun-dun.

But things have been great/really hard. Not hard in the ways I expected, but hard. I still don't understand much, but I've been able to teach more in the lessons. Two teenage girls that we've been teaching agreed to be baptized! But then they didn't come to church. That's one of the biggest problems here: laziness. No one likes to wake up at 9 o'clock and come to church for three hours on Sunday. And if they don't come to church, there's not much we can do for them. Though I got to watch Sister Pinto wake up one of our investigators on Sunday. Haha. Probably not totally acceptable, but really funny.

We've been teaching a lot. Every day we have lots of appointments, which is great. But a lot of our appointments fall through because the people don't show, which is not good. We also have to spend a lot of time with less-actives and recent converts, which is too bad for a couple reasons. A) A lot of the less-actives are recent converts and B) the missionaries don't get a ton of help from the active members. They like us, but there's not a whole lot of fellowshipping going on. But the members are really great. And our branch is huge! Not Utah huge, but Cape Verde huge.

We found one man this week named Emanuel. I'm really excited about him because right as we were leaving the first lesson with him (we just told him about the church, our purpose and prayer), he stopped us at the door and asked why there were so many churches and how can we know which is the right one. Remind you of anyone? Yeah. I'm excited. We'll teach him again today.

After the whole culture shock wears off, I'll be able to say more about the people, but there are too many other things I have to tell you first!

Okay. So if you've never heard a pig scream, you don't want to. It's the most horrible noise ever! And we've had three pig slaughters this week during our lunchtime. It's so loud and so horrible and literally right next door to us.

So it's pretty windy here and really dusty. Most of our area is concrete 'conglomerations' and dirt roads. We've taught lessons on cinder blocks and stone walls. Most people have one room where they sleep, eat and live, which probably explains why the roads and fields are full of all sorts of garbage and...refuse. It's not like we could form a youth service project and pick up trash. It is literally everywhere. It's very sad.

When the house floors aren’t dirt or concrete, they're tile. There is a TON of tile here. Everything is tile. Yup.

It also gets really dark here at night. (Duh, Emma, that's sort of what happens when the sun goes down.) What I mean is there aren't a lot of street lamps and half of them don't work. I don't think I've ever been scared at night before, but I get a little nervous here. And I feel like a creeper when we contact people on super dark streets. :)

So I tried to make brownies the other day. We don't have measuring cups. Our oven and stove are gas and in Celsius. And all the ingredients are a little...different. But they were only a little burnt! And almost tasted like brownies. Almost.

Cape Verde has really good yogurt. There's your surprising fact for the day.

This morning we played futebol with the missionaries here in Praia, by which I mean I sat around for 45 minutes while my companions got ready and then watched the Elders play, and then the Sisters got to play for about 10 minutes and then the Elders kicked us off. SO FUN! Haha.

That's about it. Here are your words of the week:

Garfo = fork
Maluco = crazy; crazy person.

Love you all!

Sister Brooks

"Do not judge your potential by what you are today, but by what you can become under the guidance of the Lord." Elder Scott