Tuesday, March 29, 2011

David Lucas Brooks

I'm too excited about Lucas David to think about anything else! I'm so, so, so excited and so happy that Amy and Lucas are doing well! Send more pictures soon! :)

My week was quite good, but a little on the difficult side. We had a lot of appointments fall through, but it's all right. We taught the fewest lessons we have in a long time but had the most investigators at church we've ever had! It was so, so good.

We washed clothes on Marcia's roof and then they made us eat cookies and strawberry Fanta (we turned down the coffee--palavra de sabedoria, here we come). Service never really counts as service here because people are always trying to do something nice back. Then we went to say happy birthday to Va and Vitorina's little boy and they made us eat cake and orange Fanta. And Va works at the beer factory so we drank the Fanta out of plastic cerveja cups. :)

Everyone needs palavra de sabedoria.

With so many appointments falling through, I learned that it's a lot less tiring sitting and teaching than hiking around Inferno looking for people to teach! We've been exhausted this week. Then Sister T got a little bit sick (she had the GRIPE!) but still gave a great talk in church!

I'm not sure why she got sick and I didn't. I eat way more dangerous stuff than her. (I'm not going to tell you about my latest food purchase. I don't think you'd approve. But it was delicious and only cost 100 escudos.)

We also had an investigator ask us if we eat blood!

I said only on special occasions.

Just kidding! I didn't say that. We explained clearly and by the Spirit our stance on cannibalism.

We've had the lights going out a lot lately, but it's not really a big deal. Just annoying. It means my hair is uglier than usual and that instead of just taking freezing cold, weak-water showers, I get to take freezing cold, weak-water showers in the dark!

We had a good chat with a man the other day who told us he was sad every time we walked past without saying hi to him. Then he tried to kiss me. He was drunk. And he's our next door neighbor!

And no, I didn't let him kiss me.

Marcia is still wonderful. Turns out she's exactly nine months pregnant. And she still walked to church, in the hot sun, all by herself! We couldn't believe it! Then she started having some pains (we were sure she was going into labor) so we got her a taxi so she could go home. She's so sweet. But I think we're going to talk to her about resting a little bit. (That's why we were so quick to wash clothes--I think it's very difficult to operate a washboard with a nine-month pregnant belly in the way.)

I think that's about it. It's been a pretty crazy week, with a lot of disappointments, but we're ready for a new week and excited to get to work.

Have I told you about Gila? He's our awesome investigator who doesn't understand a word we say, but loves coming to church and gets super excited every time we come over. (His wife still isn't ready to say 'I do'.) But turns out he's a big time fisherman! Which is a little annoying because he has to travel around to different islands and do trainings. But it's pretty awesome.

Okay, I'm about out of time. I love you all! Thanks for all your support and I hope everyone is safe and well!

Sister Brooks

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tobacco and Tatuagens

March 21, 2011


Boa tarde! Missions are the BEST!

Andy! I don't remember when you leave, but I know it's coming up. Be so excited! Love every day and the MTC and the Field. I know you'll be great. Just love the people and the country and everything about it! And come home with a British accent. :)

Happy Birthday Livi! We saw a pirate ship in the water this week! (I think Captain Hook has Tinkerbell locked in a cage on it!)

Happy Birthday Stasia! I would send you Cheese Balls, but that's one thing you can't actually find in Cabo Verde. :)

What an incredible week. Seriously. One of the greatest/craziest weeks ever! We've been finding so many amazing people! I know talking to drunk people isn’t the wisest thing we can do, but this week it paid off!

The other day we passed a house on the way to one of our appointments. Sister Turnbow felt that we should go back there, so this week, when one of our appointments fell through we went and did a contact there. The owner of the house was pretty excited to talk to us and also COMPLETELY drunk. It was pretty funny but also sad since all his little kids were out there playing and laughing at him. So we were a little disappointed and Sister Turnbow was sort of like, "Well, I guess that wasn't inspiration." but then we talked to another man who was sitting next door and he invited us in and we talked to him and his niece. They were both amazing! The niece especially.

Marcia is sixteen years old and one of the sweetest girls I've met here. She understood us perfectly (she actually speaks Portuguese!) and was very kind. She's also about eight and a half months pregnant. Her mother and younger brother are in Portugal and she's living with her very Catholic grandmother. Her mom doesn't have enough money to come back to Cabo Verde and her little brother has a heart problem which is why they're there. Anyway, she's so wonderful. She received an answer about Joseph Smith and came to church on Sunday and turns out she's a really good friend of our recent convert Maria! God has definitely been preparing the way for her. We love her already.

We've also been teaching a woman named Lolita and her friend and two little kids. They came to District Conference last week and turns out that Lolita's oldest daughter is a member! She lives with her grandma and Lolita is the sister of a good member in Ramo 4. It was crazy. And really good. They're such a sweet family. And their friend is hilarious and speaks absolutely no Portuguese. And his Creole is even hard for our members to understand. :) But they're awesome.

Our recent convert Nene gave a talk in Sacrament meeting on Sunday and it was so good! He was so nervous. He made us listen to it like four times beforehand and then would grin really big when we told him how great it was but then just shake his head and say, "Oh, I don't know". He's so funny.

There was also another really good talk in Sacrament meeting (No, not me!) about enduring to the end. I was paying better attention because I was trying to translate for Elder Adams. It's definitely the hardest step of the gospel, but something we need to do for our whole lives! It really is a blessing to be given this time to work and prepare so we can be ready to live with our Heavenly Father again. And here again, we see the perfect example of our Savior who endured right to the very end, praying and atoning for our sins. We are so blessed by the knowledge of these things.

We were teaching Zezito about the Priesthood this week (Isa didn't come to church again! It makes me want to cry.) and I felt very impressed to share an experience when Dad gave me a Priesthood blessing and how incredibly blessed our home and family has always been with worthy priesthood holders within it. There really are so few people in this world who grew up with their father and brothers able to hold the priesthood and bring those blessing to their home. I'm so grateful for all of you and the restored power of God on the earth!

This week we got to wake up at three am to welcome a new sister from Portugal to the mission! She stayed the night with us before flying to Sao Vicente. She's very nice and it reminded me a lot of my first bizarre night in Cabo Verde. It seems like so long ago!

We also stayed out until midnight this week! I know, I know. I think that's against the rules. But we got permission from our Zone Leaders to go to the Adams' house and help Sister Adams translate her power point presentation for the next day's Relief Society meeting. I'm not going to lie: I loved it. Late night with the Adams and I got to use a computer! And the internet. I can't believe how much I miss my laptop (I know, Paul, I'm a nerd). But it was a lot of fun. But we're still exhausted. Missionaries need their sleep!

I hope you all had a great St. Patrick's Day! I'm glad I didn't get to see Mom's four dollar green pants. Ours was great. We were studying in the morning and I suddenly gasped and said "It's St. Patrick's Day!" Then we both look at each other--Sister Turnbow was wearing green and I wasn't. So I leap across the room, over her bed and run into our closet to try and pull on something green, but she caught up with me and pinched me first. But then she didn't have green besides her crazy tie-dye dress so she hid a fake tatoo on her arm which really only kept me from pinching her since no one else celebrates it, but I pinched her anyway.

We went to teach a woman the other day and she hurried to the door and said she couldn't talk to us because she was cooking tobacco and if she left it it would burn.

We're going back this week to teach Palavra de Sabedoria. :)

I love you all! I love this work! Be safe and well!


Sister Brooks

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Cat in the Bag

March 14, 2011

Bom dia!

It was another very quick week and transfers are upon us! Can you believe I've already had two whole transfers in Cabo Verde? It was a very anxious Saturday night for Sister Turnbow and me because neither of us really wanted to be transferred or have the other one leave! Well, miracles do happen! We get to stay another six weeks together! This is the first time Sister T's had a companion for more than one transfer so I'm going to be her favorite. :) But we really are excited. We had an amazing week and may or may not have set a record with lessons with members and had another miracle happen--six investigators at church! Our amazing Gila, our cute little family and another relative of the Brandaos. It was great too because we had District Conference and it was really, really good.

For District Conference I got to translate for Sister Adams in the Relief Society leadership training. It was only slightly terrifying. And by slightly, I mean extremely. But I cheated and mostly translated her talk before hand and then read it. But it was still scary.

But it was really awesome to see all the members on Sao Tiago together in our chapel. All the branches of Praia, Assomada and Tarrafal came! It was packed. And we got to hear the testimony of President Neves' son who just got back from his mission in Salt Lake City. We were all excited to meet him (and hear his English). Now, it's only a few months before the rest of the Neves finish their mission. :( What an amazing family.

We found this really sweet girl, Valdira that we started to teach. But the day of Carnival (Oh yeah! Carnival! I'll tell you about it in a second.) she wasn't at home for her appointment. We were a couple minutes early but I was a little disappointed and I told Sister Turnbow that we should just go--it wasn't like she was just going to magically appear at 5 o'clock. My words--falta da fe'! Well, luckily Sister Turnbow is more patient than I am so we hung around for a few minutes and, lo and behold, Valdira turns the corner--at what time? Five o'clock exactly. Sister Turnbow won't let me forget that one. :) And I was really happy that we got to teach her.

Carnival! It was beyond boring. We didn't go home early because we didn't need to. It was boring because NO ONE was home because they all went to Carnival (which is officially Satan's holiday) which wasn't in our area. So we didn't get to see much of the celebrations, which is probably good and the people who were home and not at Carnival are probably the most righteous people in Cabo Verde. :) The 9th was a holiday too--but I think people mostly just sleep off their drunkenness and then eat some weird food. I was highly disappointed that we didn't get invited for the holiday dinner which I heard from some other missionaries is disgusting.

I fell in the mud this week. It was a little bit embarrassing, but mostly just funny. I thought I could jump over the river (which is still flowing from the broken pipe) but instead I just slipped in the mud and fell on my...bum. (Can a missionary use that word?) But it was still a rather graceful fall and it was good fun. :)

Remember how I told you about the horrible yells of pigs dying? Well, Sister Turnbow got to experience it the other day. We were awoken at 5:30 in the morning by our neighbors making bacon--and this time we watched it from our balcony. I must confess, I couldn't watch. I made this horrible girlish gasp right as they raised the knife and ran back inside.

Zezito's baptism was great--he was baptized along with two others from our Ramo. It was a great day. It would've been really great to have Isa being baptized too, but she was there with Hugo. Zezito's a crazy guy--he's SO funny (he asked if we dyed a mechanic's outfit white for the baptism clothes) but he knew what he was doing and I know he's waited for this day for a long time.

But after that great night I saw one of the saddest things I've ever seen. As we were going to church on Sunday, we saw Zezito ahead of us--walking all alone because Isa didn't come to church with him. Not even to see his confirmation. I've never been sadder. We talked with her Sunday night and we just don't understand. She just doesn't seem to have the faith or the desire or something--we're not sure. Zezito looked so unhappy during our lesson. But we're not giving up hope. We'll still keep working with her and hopefully with Zezito's help, she'll understand how important this is soon.

Gila! Have I told you about Gila!? He's incredible. He came to the adult session (and part of the leadership training), stayed for the baptism and then came to all the general session of District Conference on Sunday! He was there longer than most of the members! He's such a cute little man--a fisherman--and his only problem right now is that his 'wife' doesn't want to get married! He's keeping all the other commandments and it was slightly heartbreaking hearing him pray for the Lord to be with his wife and help her change her mind. Man! They have four sons--the oldest is over 20 and she still doesn't want to get married! Argh!

The Brandaos got two little cute kitties. During our lesson on Sunday they both started playing in Sister Turnbow's bag. Which is probably the safest place to be because before that I saw Mane's niece get her hands on one of them and I don't think it was enjoying it too much.

Okay. I think that's about it. It was a great week. Something clicked inside me. I don't know what exactly but I'm afraid it means I'm not coming home. Sorry, family. You'll just have to come visit.

I still love you though! And I love this work!

Sister Brooks

Happy Saint Patrick's Day this week!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bo e' Fixe

March 7, 2011

Ola Familia!

This week went so quickly that I don't even know what to talk about. To be honest, the work seemed a lot harder this week. We did SO many contacts and had SO many appointments fall through, but I guess 'Mama said there'd be days like this' (Sister Turnbow starts singing that every time we have something annoying happen.). We also picked one of our investigators up and walked all the way to church with him. Then, after Relief Society, we went to find him for Principios do Evangelho--fugiu! He'd run away. That was a bummer. But also very funny. Luckily we had our faithful Isa and Zezito there (and Hugo--I learned how to spell his name).

Speaking of I and Z, they had their baptismal interviews on Saturday! We were a little worried about Isa being prepared because of the whole tithing thing, and I think my heart actually stopped when she came out of her interview and said, 'Sisters, I'm not ready to be baptized.' Oh man! We were so scared! That she didn't have a testimony, that she didn't want to anymore. Well, turns out she was running late that morning and stopped at her mom's house for a cup of coffee. So she actually won't be getting baptized for a couple more weeks, but Zezito has been ready for ages! So he'll be baptized and then he can baptize Isa! And then we'll teach Isa's daughter and sooner than you know it, they'll have an eternal family!

Hmm...what else happened this week? Oh yeah. Background: one of our first weeks together, Sister T. and I were meeting a reference at this little park, but he wasn't showing up so we were starting to wonder if we were at the right park. So...Sister Turnbow walks up to this group of very scary men who are chillin' at the park to find out if there's another park nearby. Well, turns out the scariest of them spoke English. Very well. With a Newsies accent. Anyway, they were actually really helpful and every once in a while for the past several weeks we've seen him and said hi. Sister T. was convinced that he had this tear tattoo that's some mark of a really dangerous gang in USA (and Nene told us that that gang sends some of its 'people' here to Cabo Verde) so we were feeling pretty good to have a thug friend.

Anyway, we were doing contacts this week and knocked on the door of a woman who invited us in and we talked for a little bit but she was busy and we marked a day to come back. (I really wanted to teach her because she had this crazy looking animal skin rug on the floor.) Then we were walking up the street and talked to two young men (we always contact boys walking in twos--future missionaries!) and then another pair of young men. As we left, we noticed they were all going to that same house of the woman we had met. 'That's interesting,' Sister Brooks said to herself. Anyway...

So we returned the next day to the woman's house and who opens the door? Our English speaking thug friend! I think we were probably both standing with our mouths open, but we talked to him for a bit and turns out the woman we met was his wife. And she wasn't home but we marked another day to talk with them. So we figure he's the gang boss and all those boys we contacted work for him and we were going to meet them at the creepy park and teach them the gospel!

Pretty cool story, right? Well, none of them showed up for their appointments, so it's kind of anticlimatic, but we will always be able to say that we almost converted an entire gang.

I also saw a little boy this week with the exact same Ninja Turtle backpack that I have--you didn't donate it to a charity or something, did you? :) But seriously. I'm using that backpack when I get home.

It's Carnival here in Cabo Verde! A very confusing holiday. We've had little parades going past our house and all the little kids (and not so little kids) are dressing up in costumes and Mane said Carnival celebrates Cape Verde's independence from Portugal and they get like ten days off from school! So it's pretty exciting. I've decided it's Halloween, July 4th and some sort of African holiday all rolled into one!

Let's see...we ate at Sucupira today and they asked me how I wanted my egg (Sister Smith translated for me)--and at Denny's this means scrambled, fried, poached, sunny side up, etc--here, it means cooked or uncooked.

I got mine cooked.

Sister Turnbow and I continue to learn Portuguese and Creole and our favorite Creolese :) phrase for the week is Bo e' fixe. 'You are cool.' We also had a member translate our testimonies into Creole. A mim sabe ma igreja e verdadeira! Or something like that.

It's really great that you read D&C 135. I actually read it recently too and Sister Turnbow and I have been discussing it this week. We're asked to sacrifice so little--to go to church, to do what's right--but the Prophet Joseph gave his life to bring the restoration of the gospel to pass! There's a quote from one of the apostles that an evil man would not have said he had done all the things that Joseph Smith did and a good man would not have made it up. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true church of Christ restored on the earth! Eu sei que o evangelho de Cristo e o unico caminho que vai levar-nos a vida eterna! Oh, be wise! What more can I say? :)

I love you all!! Be good, be safe and be happy!

Sister Brooks

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Bird on the String

February 28, 2011

Family (and friends)! I love you so much!

I just thought I'd mix things up and say that first. :) But it's true

OK. What a great week. Winter is over! (Not that it ever began here.) But I'm officially darker than some Caboverdians. Not that that's too hard. But don't worry, I still get called 'branca' plenty. But it's gotten hot! And it will keep getting hotter until around...September. :) Woo-hoo. But I've discovered that if we help people wash their clothes we can cool off a little since they don't have hot water and the wind sprays the water all over the place.

Let's see: Sister Turnbow and I found this great fruit store and bought some yellow plums. They were weird. They tasted like plums(ish) but were yellow. And little. We also found some good kiwis and little oranges. I wanted some peppers but they were really expensive.

We have a nice river running through our area. There's a big hole up in Inferno and a pipe broke. People are there for 18 hours a day, filling buckets of water, but there's still a huge runoff coming down the dirt road all the way past our house. We took a picture with a pig who was bathing in the gross, muddy water.

Speaking of animals, we've seen a lot of cute puppies. (Cabo Verde really doesn't need more dogs.) And I found a teeny tiny kitty that was SO adorable. The animals are only cute (and rabies-less) when they're small.

And speaking of small animals, we had another very interesting lesson. We were teaching a woman who had found us the week before and set a time for us. She was a little...drunk. We think. And there were two other men there that were under the influence of some substance. So we were sticking close to the door, but during the lesson we heard this weird squeaking sound from under the bed. I'm not sure if I expected a mouse or a toy, but all the sudden a man pulls on this length of string and a tiny bird hops out--attached to the line. The man then starts to throw the bird into the air and pull it back to entertain a poor, crying child. The boy continues to cry so the man just chucks the bird at him!

OK. So I'm pretty sure I spend all my time telling you the out-of-the-ordinary things and I forget the normal missionary stuff (or is it the other way around?). So here's a little bit about our District: We have the secretaries, the APs, our district leader and us. And we're all American except for our DL Elder Rodrigues, who is from Brazil and is awesome. We have a great district--they work hard and are super funny Elders (and we're pretty cool too). District meetings are great. I learn a ton from them every week.

So I learned that a 15-year-old boy who only speaks Creole can break your heart. We started teaching this boy Ailton a couple weeks ago and he's amazing! It seemed so random when we met him, but we taught him and things were going great and then he didn't come to church. We came back and he said he was so sorry and we taught him and he was reading the Book of Mormon and then he didn't come to church. And here, after two Sundays, we technically are supposed to drop him. Man. I never realized just how heartbreaking the mission is. That's only one example, but I really love that little guy. Anyway, I hope we still see him.

We did have a cool experience though: We contacted a woman Saturday night and she said we could teach her Sunday, but only in the morning. We told her we couldn't because we had church, but she could come to church with us. Miracles do happen: She came to church. She stayed the whole time. The members actually helped her and talked to her! It was great.

I had my first Zone Activity!! Woo-hoo. We went to Tarrafal. It's an area where only Elders work on the North side of the island. And just so you know, you can cross the whole (biggest) island in approximately one hour and 40 minutes. And while that's not really very long, when you're shoved into a 'yasse'--a weird, smallish van--with all the missionaries from Praia (both zones went) it's not a very enjoyable ride. Especially since the roads are just nauseating switchbacks up a mountain for 60 minutes. But don't worry, we all made it.

And Tarrafal is beautiful!! It's a lot cleaner and smaller than Praia and greener! It doesn't feel like Africa. I would have guessed Central America. But it's awesome. We walked through this super long cave/tunnel and everyone hit their heads and then we hung out on a black sands beach.

But it's amazing. The water is clear and incredible and the sand isn't covered in garbage and there are palm trees! Oh. And I touched the Atlantic Ocean! And held a tiny crab. And saw a really big, ugly crab. I wish I could send pictures, but it would be better if you just saved up your money and came to visit. :)

We also helped some guys pull in this gigantic net of fish. Literally, gigantic. It was huge. And fish still smell bad, but fishing is much more exciting that way.

I can't wait to see a picture of Marty! Which I'm sure I'll be receiving any day now...

Is the Spring Fling scheduled for Cabo Verde? I know some great China stores and African markets that the aunts could find some real deals at! And some of the products may or may not have been made in America!

Well, I hope everyone is doing great! I hope I remembered everything. You do realize that I do missionary work too, right? OK, I better tell you about one lesson: Isa and Zezito--I love them. They came to church again and we marked a baptism date and I love them! They have some financial problems (like everyone) and Isa's a little worried about tithing, but we've had some great lessons about faith and I know they'll be blessed. But we talked a little about the gospel (faith, repentance, baptism, Holy Ghost and enduring to the end) with them and I just got really excited. I don't know, but I could definitely feel the Spirit bringing words to my mind. I didn't stumble with the language and I know it wasn't me. There's definitely an amazing amount of help that comes from the gospel--in so many different ways.

OK. I love you all! And it's almost March! Epa!

Sister Brooks

Oh, and I saw people riding donkeys up a mountain. For real.