Monday, July 25, 2011

Zone Conference

Vila Nova

Hey Fam!

So I've completed my first week in my first new area. And while I do miss my home of seven months, I'm loving it here in Branch 2 of Praia. Our new area includes Fazenda (home of Sucupira, right across from our house), Vila Nova, Safen, Plateau and Lem Cachorro! Mostly we hang out in Vila Nova where all our investigators are but the building where we meet for church is in Fazenda. The area was cleaned so both Sister Gomes and I are new and get lost very frequently, but luckily we can usually find our way to one member's house or another and they point us in the right direction.

We have some pretty amazing investigators with pretty huge problems. But, believe it or not, I'd rather worry about helping my investigators stop using drugs, getting permission from their parents to baptize or learning how to read than whose visa is expiring in the next 45 to 90 days. Nah, but this is a pretty awesome area. It's more city-ish than Terra Branca so there are always people to talk to.

Let's see...Sister Gomes is awesome. Probably the nicest person I've ever met. I'm either going to end our transfer being a better person or going crazy. She's so nice! But I still like her. She's from Portugal and in her fourth transfer. Technically, I'm senior companion but I'm considering passing the title over to her since she's already twice the missionary I am.

Saturday, we had an awesome assignment given to us. All the missionaries in Praia got together with the Priesthood of Branch 1 and we were given long lists of the (inactive) membership of Praia 1. Then we split up and tried to do a census of sorts, seeing if people still lived in the area, etc. The only problem is that the addresses consisted of: 'Praia, Ilha de Santiago' or if you were lucky 'Terra Branca, Praia, Ilha de Santiago.' So it was more or less a treasure hunt without a map, but after 7 months in Praia, Sister Gomes and I were able to find a few people--mostly people I'd never met and wouldn't have had a clue they were members. Gosh. If only every member here were active. But it was actually really fun. We thought asking the older people who just sit outside their houses all day would help us find people, but what really worked was going to the inactive that we did know--they gave us a whole list of people I'd never met who were supposedly members. Anyway.

Then my first Sunday in Branch 2 (which was actually my second Sunday since my very first Sunday in Cabo Verde was in that Branch) was great! I got asked to give a talk about the Word of Wisdom right before Sacrament meeting wasn't horrible. My first impromptu Portuguese talk of my mission. It's a lot harder to tell personal stories in Portuguese, but Sister Gomes said she understood everything (though like I said, she's very nice).

Branch 2 is a LOT smaller than Branch 1. There's about forty or fifty people in Sacrament Meeting. I like it. I'm really excited.

I don't really have any funny stories for you this week; we don't have any water but we have plenty of cockroaches. And the house in general is pretty disgusting. Oh yeah! And talk about bizarre. I spent my very first nights in Cape Verde in this house. Monday and Tuesday I kept having flashbacks to that week. That seems so extremely long ago.

The work is good. It's hard, sort of starting from scratch, but it's good. We have one young man Danilson who is my new favorite person. He's going to be baptized in a couple weeks and he's just cute! I'm sure I'm not allowed to say that but he's just really cheerful and shy but an incredible kid. And then there's Edelweis! I met her in my first transfer. She was a reference from Sheila who I taught in Branch 1. And she's great, but her mom is very against baptism. Agh. Anyway, we have a lot of work to do.

And so do you! Hope everything's going well with preparations for John and Mystie. Thanks for your letters and support. I love you all!


Sister Brooks

P.S. The streets are lined with donut ladies and sandwich ladies in this area. Ah. Life is good.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Peanut Butter Moo'd

Hello Family!

I should tell you all that we did get to eat my friend the rooster and he was delicious. Sister Laimana happened to get the wish bone and, here, whoever gets the bigger half when snapped is the better friend--she got the bigger half. But I always knew she was the nice one.

Saturday we were able to see the Adams' grandson baptized which was really nice. I don't think an eight year old has ever had so many missionaries present at his baptism. The service was mostly in English which was a little bizarre and Sister Laimana and I had to translate for Sheila and Ivanilda: two of our sweet young women.

Our FHE once again did its job. Ten of our investigators showed up at church. I think that has to be some sort of a record. We've learned the trick though: references and completing families. You bet Augusto's going to do everything he can to get his three daughters to church and Sofia and Anildo and their family are much more likely to come when they know they have friends waiting there. Fofa and Carla have been in the contact with the church forever, with sisters and aunts and cousins as members. I love this area so much!

We've had some great lessons this week, focusing on helping our investigators set dates for baptism. This basically means marking dates for marriages so our investigators can get married and then baptized. So that's fun...I figure by the time I finish my mission I can be a wedding planner/match maker. Not one of the things I realized I'd be doing on my mission.

We've been lucky enough to work with President Oliveira this week, running around (like a chicken with its head cut off (not going to miss the opportunity to use that one)) getting things done before transfers this week. After one of our 'business meetings' President told us that we're really too sweet to be in the office (, sweet?) and we had a little chat about the importance of our work and extra talents we, as sisters, have. He also told us that there will be a stake on this island. A man called by a prophet of God told us this. I believe him. Then he said to make this happen, he needs two baptisms from us before we split up.

He told us this on Wednesday. Transfers are on Monday. I don't know exactly where I'm going but we know we're not going to be companions next transfer. They're not going to be baptized on Monday or Sunday. Three days. Two baptisms. Let's just say the prayer and fasting part of missionary work has never seemed so essential.

Oh yeah. And we 'borrowed' the Elder's blender and have been living off smoothies (when there's electricity which is about 20% of the time) and we tried to recreate Jamba Juice's Peanut Butter Moo'd. It almost worked. Too bad we're using extra thick and chunky peanut butter and 'home made' yogurt. :) It was still good.

Okay. I love you all. I'll let you know about transfers next week (probably on Monday--so that will be about the only news you get). I know I'm leaving the office and I'm pretty sure I'm staying on the island, so it won't be much of a change. But it'll be awesome! Love you.


Sister Brooks

P.S. I'm so glad I'm not there to address envelopes.

Monday, July 11, 2011

New Mission President

President Oliveira did arrive! It was a pretty crazy week with a whole lot of bitter-sweet change. It was hard to see President and Sister Neves leave, but it was really good to welcome President and Sister Oliveira. Change like this is always hard for me, but President Oliveira spoke a little about it in Zone Conference. Because mission presidents (and other leaders) are called of God, God always calls the man needed for the job at that time. So if President Oliveira makes changes, it's not because he thinks he's going to be better than President Neves, it's just what God wants right now. President Neves did all that God asked of him during his time and now President Oliveira will do what's right for Cape Verde right now. You can tell things are going to be changing and growing a lot! Being in the office we get some of the inside scoop, but President Oliveira says there's going to be a STAKE on EVERY island. We don't even have one stake yet--and he doesn't mean every island with missionaries on it, he means EVERY island. I know a lot of work and faith will be required on our part, but I'm very excited. I hope I can rise to the challenge.

Friday, July 8, 2011

I Forget I'm White

HELLO FAMILY! Another exciting email from Sister Emma Brooks.

This week was pretty great. We celebrated the Fourth with a giant sugar cookie on which we painted an American flag (made with white and Kool-Aid dyed red frosting and blue sprinkles). Then on Cabo Verde's Independence Day (the 5th) everyone...sat at home! Apparently they don't really celebrate it. But they did get the day off from school, so that must have been fun.

We were also able to walk with Calu and Presidente Mendoca this week--our branch president and one of his counselors. They both served their missions here in Cabo Verde and were even companions at one point so I think they really enjoyed it. We were able to teach a few less-active members and then two of Augusto's daughters! It was so great--they teach SO well: so clearly and powerfully and you can really tell they love what they're teaching and who they're teaching. We got to hear some awesome Krioulu as well.

Our best lesson of the week was last Saturday night with Carla and Fofa and their family and Augusto and his daughters. Sister Laimana gave an amazing lesson about the importance of families in our lives and how the gospel will strengthen our families every day. It was so good to have everyone there and both Augusto and Carla bore their testimonies and it was so good! We know that when Carla gets baptized she really will be the anchor her family needs to stay active. And Augusto's just amazing. It's so sweet to see him there with his daughters.

Afterwards we played some classic Family Night games that everyone loves and guess what! They were really fun. We played Agua na Cara--let's just flash back to about six months ago when we played this with Isa and Zezito and I thought it must have been created just to make me miserable, but it was actually really fun.

And yes. I got some agua na minha cara.

Carla had made a ton of food and we brought brownies and it was just a good time. We had four members (two of whom are inactive) and six investigators but everyone was just talking and Augusto kept telling everyone that you can't be truly happy until you get baptized! It was awesome! I love those families!

But let's get to the best part: the next day. We're waiting (a little anxiously) at the chapel and then we see every single one of them turn the corner! Augusto and all of his daughters, Carla and her husband, Fofa and Sueli and Maria and Gina. All of them came to church! It was amazing. They took up an entire pew in Sacrament meeting!

And to make the day even better, Sofia and her three little ones came too! It was a little bitter-sweet though since Anildo's such a bum and decided to go 'ao interior' and so Sofia walked the entire way in the sun with her kids (all of them under eight). We don't even walk to the church. And her house is twice the distance from the chapel. She's amazing.

And then I sat by them in Sacrament meeting and being the exceptional missionary I am, spent a bit of time making the kids origami cranes...(which were very popular). But then Anildo Jr. starting flying them around with accompanying sound effects and Sofia had to tell us to be

quiet. :)

[Side note: we passed by during the week to say hi and I brought three neon-colored birds for them and Anilda told her dad that I'd been making them the whole time during church. Sofia and Anildo got a laugh out of that.]

So we're having another FHE tonight at the home and a less active family who lives near Augusto. And we're going to have a little dinner with chicken. So we went earlier today to help them prepare. The chicken. We went to help with the chicken. Get it? We went over there, Augusto handed me a rooster with its legs tied, I carried it over to Felismina's, we watched her son Paulo saw it's head off (I didn't watch the whole thing) and then we waited for it to stop moving (about five minutes) and then we took it into the kitchen, soaked it in boiling water, plucked all the feathers off and Felismina gave us a very thorough demonstration on how to chop it up into all the edible pieces! I'm about out of time, but I'm sure you don't really want the details anyway. :) I'll tell you how it tastes tonight.

Oh yeah! The Adam's daughter and her family are here visiting and I saw them and told Sister Laimana 'They're so white!' and she looked at me and said, 'Sister Brooks! You're that white.'

Sometimes I forget.

I love you all! Have a wonderful week and don't have too much fun without me.

Sister Brooks