Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Church is still true

Hello Family,

Hello! Goodness! Once again I don't know where to start! But...

Happy Easter! We enjoyed our Easter. We had crepes, hid a paper-woven basket (twice--once for each of us) with a peep in it (Sister Turnbow got peeps in her birthday\Easter package) and then went to a little choir performance at the church that evening. I also got to play the piano again but was disappointed that we sang ZERO Easter hymns! But it's all right. We've been singing them in all our lessons.

I also saw my very first monkey. I don't know where it came from, but it was just hanging out in a tree with a bunch of little kids trying to reach it. Unfortunately I did not have my camera.

This week we had interviews with President and he gave us a few hints about transfers which kept us busy guessing all week. But I also got to have a good talk with him and he gave me some pointers about using the scriptures and asking questions during lessons. (He also had me do a nerve-wracking practice with him playing the investigator! But it turned out well.)

I don't have any pictures to send this week because I forgot to charge my batteries, but I've got some great ones! We went to the dock again to see the fish 'market'. And I asked one fisherman if I could hold one of his giant tunas and take a picture of it! It was about 6 or 7 kilos (of meat) I think. Maybe heavier. It was huge! We also saw a shark (a little one) and bought some tuna steaks from what must have been the world's largest tuna. It was giant! And it had already been portioned out quite a bit as well. Fish is still pretty gross here, too, but it's more fun to buy.

Speaking of fish, we were teaching a lesson and during the prayer, the woman's kids were making quite a bit of noise in the other room. So she stopped us and shouted out to them: 'Hey! Are you selling fish!?' Which probably isn't funny to you all, but when you have ladies walking by early in the morning with a bucket of fish on their heads yelling something really strange loudly in Creole, it's pretty funny. Anyway...

I made soft pretzels this week. They were delicious.

Hey, guess what! I had my six month birthday! That's crazy! How did that happen!? I'm getting a little worried that the next two six months are going to go just as fast.

This week we taught Va and Vitorina with the Adams. I don't know if I've told you about Va and Vitorina, but they're great. They have one crazy little boy (who was wearing a duck suit on Friday) who's super cute and have been living together for about two years. They're really receptive and Vitorina has come to church four weeks in a row. We've been talking a lot about marriage with them and so on Friday we brought the Adams and talked about The Family, A Proclamation to the World. They got to ask the Adams questions and this week they have to decide if they're getting married or not! I want to see their little family sealed in the temple one day so badly!

But as we were reading The Proclamation, we read the part where it says a mother's roll is to care for the children and a few days back, Vitorina was complaining a bit how Va said the cooking and cleaning and taking care of the kids is woman's work--so when we read that part, Va looks up at us and just grins! We both burst out laughing. But he really is a good guy and helps out at the house. I love them.

Okay! Now what you've all been waiting for!! TRANSFERS! Any guesses? Nope, you're all wrong. You'd never guess in a million years.

Am I staying or going? Staying.

Is Sister Turnbow staying or going? Staying.

Are we still companions? No. She's training a new Sister from Mozambique!

What am I doing? Well, I'm staying in the same house in the same area, but...I'm getting a new companion who you already know all about!! SISTER LAIMANA! Ha-ha. Reunited at last! But that's not all. We are officially Office Sisters. Yes, I'm serious.

President's putting us in the office to be secretaries. The Elders say that even though they're putting sisters in the office, the Church is still true! Ha-ha.

During my interview President asked me how I would feel about working in an office setting and if I knew how to drive! Ha. I'm going to get to drive the yasse!! Oh goodness. I'm also going to learn how to drive stick--in Africa! Thank goodness missionaries have divine protection.

Anyway, so the details are a bit fuzzy, but we think we'll work in the office in the morning and proselyte the rest of the day, which is good. I think I'd go crazy if I was a full-time secretary. But it's exciting. The good news is that I'm still serving the Lord and the people here in Cabo Verde! And I get to be companions with Sister Laimana again! And we'll all be in the same house. It's actually going to be a bit crazy. But I'll let you know how it goes. I think my new P-day will be Friday, so I might be talking to you soon!

Okay, well, that's about it. It's been a pretty crazy week. But the mission is great! I love you all! Be safe, be well and choose the right!

Love, Sister Brooks

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Big Tree

Me in a big ol' tree

The Big Tree

Nos e familia!

Where to start? This has been such a great, hard, fun, sad, exciting, frustrating, crazy and wonderful week!

Which I guess means just another week in Cabo Verde! Goodness, I love this mission.

Well, I told you about Marcia's baby, nao e? Well, she named him Mirage....Luckily the next day her grandma made her change it to Nicky. But he's still adorable. Unfortunately the doctor says she has to stay in a dark gloomy room for three months. Huh? It doesn't seem healthy. Plus, we found out that neither of her parents (Mom lives in Portugal, Dad lives in Brazil) wants her to be baptized. So we've been praying really hard and trying to figure out how to get their information to missionaries over there. But…miracle! We went over the other day and her mom was there (first time in three years) and her dad's coming to visit too! We'll be able to talk to them both (well, I hope I do--transfers are next week). But Marcia's still just as sweet as ever.

Here are my new favorite verses in the New Testament: Acts 20:7-9. :)

We met a little baby at a member's house the other day--very cute, very happy--but every time he saw me or Sister Turnbow, he started to cry! They told us he doesn't like white people....(hee hee).

That same day, we offered to help one of our members make lunch. Of course, after we 'helped' she insisted we eat with her. Well, we both took nice small portions to which she responded by taking our plates and PILING the food on. It was actually really good though. The only problem was that there was way too much hot food in a boiling hot house and I got something crunchy that almost--only almost--broke my iron stomach. And I've learned a new way to make couscous.

So last Sunday, Sister T and I were checking Ramo 3's sacrament meeting to make sure none of our investigators were in there. As we walked, we saw a man who came and asked us what he did if it was his first time there. We asked where he lived and showed him where to go. And guess what! He's in our area. We're now teaching him and his 17 year old daughter and he came to church again! Man! Sometimes the work is just too easy! Just kidding...

We also found two awesome young men who...wait for it!...came to church and...get ready!...were ready to go at 8:30 in the morning! Goodness! They're great. And luckily, the young men in our branch are pretty friendly so we think they actually liked it! They're so funny.

We finally made it through the first lesson, the Book of Mormon and the Day of the Lord with Evandro.

And he came to church for his fifth time.

We're passing by a few times extra every week to read with him. Oh man. We love Evandro. Slowly, slowly, he's learning. I can honestly say, I didn't realize how difficult it would be teaching someone with very little schooling. We think he's starting to understand Portuguese better though.

Yesterday was like Christmas at church. The gifts just kept on coming! We had seven investigators at church (and Evandro was ON TIME!). And I got to play the piano again. And I had another, different little boy come up and try to play the piano.

Sister Turnbow's birthday was awesome! Did you know, it's pretty difficult to plan a surprise party when you're with someone twenty-four hours a day? But I had Sister and Elder Adams' help and we had a great lunch and cake (which Sister Turnbow actually made herself--but I drew a castle on it and we used some Disney princess cake toppers--yup, she turned 24). It was great. I also composed 'Happy Birthday' on our phone and we had that as our ring tone on her b-day. Good times.

Okee-dokee. So, believe it or not, it was zone activity time again! This morning we all piled into a yasse again (we got window seats this time) and went to Assomada! I loved it! The town's a lot smaller and cleaner and greener (pretty much everywhere is smaller, cleaner and greener than Praia) and we went to the giant tree! Maybe you've seen pictures of this tree. It's huge.

And yes: I was the first Sister in the history of Cape Verde to climb it (yes, I'm exaggerating). But it was pretty awesome! You scale the giant tree, then there's a little space to stand, but then you have to squeeze down this hole straight into the middle of this hollow tree. There's also about an 8-10 foot drop onto the floor. And then you crawl on the ground out a hole and then you're out!

So. Put my slight fear of heights and my mild claustrophobia together and it was a great experience! :) No, it was totally awesome. I didn't really know what to do on the drop, though. Its super dark, and I missed the little knob, so I banged my knee and elbow--but it's all right. I pointed the knob out to the Elders. :)

There are also some giant spiders in the giant tree. But most of them were dead.

Okay. Those were the great, fun, exciting, crazy and wonderful moments of the week. The hard and sad and frustrating are mostly the day to day things. It's hard seeing people miserable, handing them exactly what will change their life for the better and seeing them do absolutely nothing to grab hold of the gospel. But every day we meet more people, teach more people and I know many of them will see just how important, just how wonderful the gospel will be for them and their families. Every time we find someone new to teach, I get so excited. And I know that Cabo Verde is feeling the influence of the gospel and the church here. Cape Verde already has 10 chapels! And there's a new one being built!

I love the mission so much. It's hard. The people we meet, teach and love break our hearts, but we love them all the same. I know there are people ready and waiting to have their lives changed and blessed and I'm so excited to find them! Every day we see how Heavenly Father is preparing people to hear the gospel.

And every day we see how Satan is trying to keep people from the truth.

But we all know who's going to win!

I love you all! Good luck Andy! I'm so excited for you!

Thanks a bunch for your love and support! Keep praying, reading, serving and going to church!

Sister B

Monday, April 11, 2011

Iras a Casa de Oracao

Tudo cool? Well, it's just another day in Africa! And the sun is getting hot!

I hope everyone's doing well. Looks like I have a couple 'shout-outs' to do:

Happy Birthday to Grandpa, Charlotte and Dan!

Congrats Joseph and Olivia!

Happy Anniversary Charlotte and Randers!

Good luck, Andy!

Whoo. April is a busy month! Sister Turnbow's birthday is on Friday, too.

Anyway, let's see what we've been up to this week:

Marcia had her baby! I think Lucas David might have a little African twin. He's a cute healthy boy, but here they don't give them a name until they're one week old. But, he's very sweet and Marcia seems pretty exhausted but happy. I can't really imagine how's she's feeling, but I think all this has been part of her preparation to receive and accept the gospel. She hasn't been able to come to church because of the whole giving birth thing, but she's still as great as ever.

We had a great Zone Conference this week. We got to provide the intermediate snack (which was more like a lunch--we sit and then we eat and then we sit and then we eat again - a lot). It was a great Conference--and President Neves' last! Isn't that crazy? I don't know if you've all heard about our new mission president. I've only got bits and pieces, but we know he's Brazilian who's been living in Bountiful. Cool!

President Neves is great. We talked a lot about finding new people and how much we need the Lord's help in this work. We also heard from the mission doctor who lives in Germany but served his mission in Brazil and speaks very good Portuguese.

We 'cleaned' up the beach this week. They have little 'Helping Hands' projects every once in a while so a bunch of missionaries and our zone went to one of the beaches and spent several hours picking up all sorts of garbage and dried fish. (We found blow fish!) I have to admit it was pretty unsatisfying. I hate to say it, but the praias here in Praia are kind of...dirty. But it was still fun and Evandro (one of our investigators) came and got interviewed by reporters twice! Now let me tell you a little story about why that's actually quite funny....

The other day we were finishing up for the night and walking home. On our way we happened to pass a church called the Casa de Oracao (House of Prayer--see D&C 59:9 for a little bit of irony related to the Day of the Lord) and I noticed a girl I recognized in the congregation. It was Lolita's (another investigator) daughter who actually happens to be a member (of the true church) and I was a little bit surprised. We looked a little closer and what do you know? Lolita and the whole family and Evandro were enjoying some loud-speaker preaching in the Casa de Oracao! Little Nadinha ran out and waved to us ('Elder!') and we just kept walking. I think we were in shock.

Anyway. You have to understand that Evandro hasn't missed a day at (our) church in four weeks. So we might have to be a little clearer in our teaching.

And we're just hoping when he got interviewed he talked about the right church. :)

We started teaching a new family--a brother and a sister and their elderly mother. Cheryl was wondering a bit how the older generation is treated here. I think they're treated pretty well and most of them are super nice. They're also pretty healthy--which is only slightly surprising.

But anyway, Dominga is great. She is a sweet little lady who cracks corn during our lessons (they pound giant sticks into little wooden buckets to smash the kernals to bits) and uses her crutches to get around because she only has one leg! The people here are amazing.*

We saw a woman carrying a big ol' bucket on her head the other day (which isn't really that extraordinary to me anymore) but in her bucket were a bunch of squealing baby pigs! I can honestly say I have never carried pigs on my head.

I played piano in Sacrament meeting again and as I was sitting at the bench during the opening prayer, I noticed I had a little visitor. I peeked and saw a little boy, standing next to me at the piano. He then proceeded to climb up next to me on the bench and prepare himself for a little performance. I wasn't exactly sure what to do, but luckily he only got in a few notes (despite my attempts to stop him) before being scooped up by his older sister.

Life in Africa is good. We seem to have tcheio** investigators and recent-converts with giant life problems that I've never had to deal with in my life. Here are just a few:

Sons rejected by parents for going to church, brothers beating sisters (with a belt--I don't have any experience with that), no work, no food, no water, wife won't get married, teenagers with babies and no money and people who don't have enough schooling to read or understand what we're saying.

But luckily for us, the gospel has/is the solution to everything. The trick is getting people to see that!

I love this work. I love these people. I love this country! And I love all you!


Sister Brooks

*Joke from Elder Brown: Where does Dominga like to eat breakfast?


**Tcheio (Chay-oh) - lots/muito (Creole)

Other Kriolu word I learned: gossali (go-suh--lee) - now (I think)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Clever Title

Well, Hello, Family!

I hope everyone is doing well. I'm glad to hear that Amy and little Lucas are still feeling healthy and happy (though I hear Lucas cries a lot). :)

Welcome Home Jason! I totally lost track of time! Good luck with life after the mission! Dun, dun, dun... :)

I had quite the wonderful week with Conference! We were able to watch all the sessions--and in English! Since Elder and Sister Adams live right next to the church, we were able to watch it with them in English and keep an eye on our investigators who came to watch at the chapel. Actually, I guess I was watching at the same time as all of you, it was just a lot later hear. It was a little like Christmas. We all set up camp in front of the Adams' laptop and the Elders made cinnamon rolls and donuts! (Do you believe it? I was quite impressed.)

Conference has never gone so quickly. I loved it. I knew, of course, that my dear brothers would especially be enjoying Elder Cook's talk. :)

Conference was the highlight of the week, but there were some other good things too. Unfortunately, Sister Turnbow was sick for the first of the week so I got to study quite a bit and read through several Liahonas. I read an awesome article in the January 2008 Ensign called 'Our God Truly is God'. It was great. You can look it up if you want.

I also got to play around on the computer again, helping Sister Adams with a little newsletter for our zone conference this week.

We were teaching Marcia this week (who may or may not have had her baby yesterday!) and showed her a picture of the Salt Lake Temple. She looked at it, back at us and asked, 'This exists?!' I can't wait until Cabo Verde gets its own temple and sweet little families like Marcia's can enjoy all the blessings of the temple.

We had a slightly frightening experience this week which I really shouldn't tell you about, but just remember that missionaries really do have a huge amount of protection!

Anyway, so we were walking home the other night, just talking and we noticed a young man walking ahead of us. All the sudden, two other young men came out from behind us, walked past us towards the man in front. Sister Turnbow, half-joking, turned to me and said, 'They're going to rob him!' and we watched as the two men approached the other man from behind and without any warning jumped on him! I admit I was completely shocked and had no idea what to do--a little Provo-born girl like me has never even thought that there are real muggers out in the world! But there was a little store right next to us so we shouted to them and a couple guys came out and threw some rocks until the muggers ran off. Luckily the other kid was okay and they didn't take anything from him. But it was just the tiniest bit frightening. :)

There's a great word for mugger in Portuguese and/or Creole but I can't spell it. It sounds like cassabaude (cas-uh-body). Everyone came out yelling that.

Anyway, it was pretty crazy. Don't worry though. People know they can't mess with us.

So...I feel like that's a weird way to end the email, so I'll think of a happier note to end on.

I got my hair braided! Well, not actually braided--more like twisted, but its hideous either way. Sister Turnbow did as well. Trust me: white people should not try to braid their hair. It doesn't look good. But Jamila, the member who did it, did a really good job and she's really sweet. I'll send you a picture next week.

I feel like this is kind of a boring email, but the week was pretty slow. It'll be better this week though. We have some great investigators --I wish more of them had been able to come to Conference--and we'll work with them this week. I'm excited for Vitorina who walked all the way to church with her little boy alone since her husband Va decided not to go. She's awesome. And then there's Evandro who's crazy and hilarious (his mom is the tobacco maker) and he's come to church four weeks in a row! Unfortunately we've been teaching about two lessons in that time since he's never home and his attention span is...short. But he did manage to catch a bunch of tiny birds and put them in a cage.

Oh! And we have one little girl whose mother we were teaching who always claps after the prayer and always calls us Elder. She's so cute.

I hope you all had a great April Fool's day. Unfortunately I forget to take my supply of clothes-pins as we went out working that day. :)

I'm so grateful to be a member d'A Igreja de Jesus Cristo dos Santos dos Ultimos Dias!

Sister Brooks