Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rooms to let 50 cents

Hello Family!

I didn't even realize it was transfer time until people started talking about it. I just figured I'd be staying and Sister Gomes would be staying and we are. But apparently we're getting another dupla of Sisters who will stay in our house and split the area. That should be fun....though I should say that if a house without water doesn't support two sisters, it probably won't support four. Man, I love Cabo Verde. Anyway, for that reason, Sister Oliveira wanted us to look for a new house. More or less the last thing in the world I want to use my time doing. And also more or less the most impossible task ever! We've had zero success. I was ready to live in Safende, but apparently the gangs and shootings make it a little less than an ideal location for sister missionaries.

Did I tell you we haven't had water for six weeks? That's not technically true. We have water; we just don't have a lot. We have to call the water truck every week which means we don't have enough water to use the washing machine. That's right. I wash my clothes by hand!! Goodness. I love the mission.

This week was a great finding week. We got a ton of references and tons of new investigators. I absolutely love one family we're teaching now. We're teaching a woman named Branca and her four children (ages 8 to 16 -- perfect). Her husband lives on the island of Sal and just got baptized a little while ago. She also went to church there and studied with the missionaries for a while. She'd really like to be baptized and so far is doing everything she needs to to prepare--including coming to church! I was so happy. I also love teaching them. We talked about the Book of Mormon and I really like to use the pictures at the beginning to explain it. Anyway, so as I was teaching, all the kids and some neighbor girls came and sat on the floor to look at the pictures. It felt like story time. Her second youngest, Jennifer, came in during one of the first lessons and said, 'Mom! I want to be baptized!' Of course!

We're also teaching a really cool couple Susana and Zemar. They really just need to get married. Susana's been coming to church for quite a while but Zemar's in the army and he's 'Catholic' so it's taken awhile to get him to church--but yesterday he came! And Susana, in the opening prayer of Principles of the Gospel, prayed that her 'husband' would like church. It was awesome. We taught them yesterday and it was just a good lesson. They don't have any chairs, so we all sit (slightly awkwardly in skirts) on a rug on the floor. It's a little bizarre, but it's actually a really good atmosphere. Their little tornado of a son, Ivandro runs around the whole time and it just feels like a family. (Wish they'd make it official with a wedding.) To top it off, Zemar made popcorn, so we were just sitting on the floor, around a big bowl of popcorn, telling almost complete strangers that they need to get married! And Ivandro kept coming over and sharing his popcorn with me and then cuddled up next to me. I realize, that's completely against the rules, but he's just so little and cute! Anyway, the two of them are super funny together.

I really like teaching. It's definitely my favorite part of missionary work. It's frustrating when people don't understand or don't pay attention, but it's so good when a principle is explained clearly and the Spirit can testify of its truthfulness.

Oh goodness. We taught another reference this week and during one of her prayers she said, 'Please bless Sister Gomes and Sister...the Sister whose name I don't know.' It was funny. Brooks isn't even the hardest name out there. No one could ever say Sister Turnbow's name. I usually just get called 'Sister Brocks.'

The highlight of the week was the activity on Saturday--Night of Theater, for all the branches in Praia. It was SO good. It was like a real ward party. Two of the branches put on plays (one about Adam and Eve and the other about Ammon protecting the King Lamoni's sheep) and they were so good/hilarious/ridiculous. And then...the missionaries performed. The Elders (and Sisters) put on a skit about Joseph, fleeing from Potiphar's wife (never miss a chance to teach about the law of chastity). And it was in Krioulu. Everyone loved it. It was so good. Everyone was laughing SO hard!! Unfortunately, I gave my camera to someone to video it...and it didn't get videoed. But I'll steal it from Sister Laimana. The Sisters were the wives of Jacob. We didn't have to say anything (though I kept calling Elder Rodrigues (Joseph) 'Nha Fidju!' because I was Rachel). Anyway, the Elders took a few liberties with the script, adding things like a bartering session because Potiphar and the merchants who bought Joseph from his brothers--for some reason, it helped to seal the deal for Elder Josephson to do a flip on the stage. Goodness. It's probably not appropriated to have that much fun at the church, but it was a good night. And then we even had a little dinner afterwards. It was great. It would have been better if all the members had invited a friend, but you can't win 'em all.

Okay. Well, I love the gospel. I love being a missionary. And this is the greatest and craziest country in the world!

Sister Brooks

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cheesy missionary picture

Bribery in Branch Counsel

Hello Family!

Thanks for the news of the reception; it sounds like it went really well. Goodness, I would love a bundt cake right now. :)

Mom: I did have an old Portuguese bible, but it was lost a few months ago. Sister Laimana and I had both been waiting forever for the shipment of bibles to come in. Ha-ha. I guess my love of the bible is growing on my mission. :)

This week we are enjoying pouring rain, flowing mud and burning sun! I love Cape Verde! I'm pretty sure I've seen worse rain storms about a million times in Utah, but rain here just seems so much crazier! It's also pretty destructive, which is ironic because the thing this country needs the most is rain! But the rain erodes streets, walls, houses, everything! And then the water and mud just sit there because there's no efficient drainage system. There's a good size lake near our house --maybe Dad and Dan and Jackson could hike out here and check it for fish.

The mud is also ridiculous...ly awesome. I quite enjoy it. The Sisters here (myself included) use these great China-made plastic sandals which make the rain and mud a piece of (bundt) cake. All you do is rinse it off that night and they're ready to go in the morning! We did have some trouble making it up to Fernanda's house though, since there was literally a river of mud coming down the hill by her house. Ha-ha. It's been quite the week.

Goodness. What else happened? We had an excellent 10 hour training on Wednesday with President Oliveira. It was, of course, very good. I feel completely overwhelmed, but also excited to move the work forward.

We had another hard week, but it was a good week. I got to give another impromptu talk in church yesterday and this time I talked about service/missionary work--of course.

Our super cool investigator Na came to the baptism on Saturday, and came to church on Sunday! We met him through another investigator--Claudia. We went to teach Claudia and Na answered the door...and...we figured out we needed to teach Claudia about the law of chastity and invited Na, the boyfriend, to sit with us. Well. Since that time, Na has made several friends in the branch, including Jamanta and Milenyu, two great members, he's attended church, a baptism, a couple family nights and now he's moved out so that he and Claudia aren't living together anymore! Awesome!

I brought cookies to branch counsel which made us instantly the most popular sisters in the world, but what the members don't know is that it was a bribe! I'm resorting to all sorts of measures to get the help of the members. I made them each take an invite to pass out to a friend for the activity we're having on Saturday with their cookie. :)

Mom: your favorite, best, wonderful chocolate cookies have now been introduced to the African public.

Um...last Monday we got to go to a Futebol game for our Zone Activity! It was pretty awesome. The Elders in their white shirts and ties and us in our skirts...we fit right in with the crowd. Ha-ha.

Well, that's about it. I hope everything is going great! I love you all!

Emma -- Whoops. I mean Sister Brooks

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Biscuits and Gravy

Hello Family.

I'm going to be honest. I sat down at the computer thinking about all the things I was going to tell you, but after reading Mom and Cheryl's emails, none of it really seems important. I'm SO happy for John and Mystie and so grateful that we can receive the blessings of the temple in this life and the next. How grateful I am as well for the unity of our family. (It's a good thing I wasn't there because I would have been bawling! I almost lost it here in the cyber cafe.) I wish I was a bit more eloquent and could express all that I'm feeling in this email, but for my brothers' sakes, I'll keep the sappiness to a minimum.

A good story of the week: last Saturday we made a contact with a woman named Isa on the way to a family night in Plateau. She told us she lived in Safende, another part of our area, but didn't have a phone number to give us (common enough). People here don't have addresses, so one day this week we set out to find Isa's house. I've done this many times throughout my mission. We just go to the general area and ask the first person we meet. If they don't know they direct us to someone who might know. Anyway, no one seemed to know Isa, but a few days later someone told us they knew a Isa. Ha-ha. So we decided, 'Hey, we're not going to find the right Isa, but we might as well teach the wrong one!' So we followed their directions way up this random little mountain in Safende and there were all these people pointing us in the right direction and by the time we got to the door, Isa was standing there waiting, a little bit confused. It was a weird contact, because we already knew her name, but like most people, she had no problem letting us in. Turns out she had already been taught by Elders a few years back and it was pretty obvious why she's not now a member, but she introduced us to her sister Lucy! I love a good reference. And Lucy came to church yesterday and participated in Relief Society and Gospel Principles! And despite the rather pathetic reception Branch 2 always gives, she said she liked it.

I tell you these stories to show that we work and we see little miracles every day, but I realize most of the people I've told you about didn't progress. Everyone is willing to hear our message, but very few are willing to act on it. But I've realized that's sort of our challenge in this mission. It's kind of hard, but I know that by talking to everyone we WILL find those who ARE willing to act on our message.

Anyway. Do you remember Edelweis? She's been coming to church for about 6 months, but she's only 16 and her mom will not let her be baptized. I don't have very warm and fuzzy feelings for her mother, but honestly, that's not fair because I think most of her 'stiff-neckedness' comes from a lack of education. Our last lesson ended with Edelweis in tears because she wants to be baptized so badly. She also really wants to receive a calling in the Primary. :) She's so sweet. She talks to our investigators more than any of the other members. Ha.

Biscuits and gravy: I go through food phases. A couple weeks ago was fried rice, this week is biscuits and gravy. It was kind of funny, because I was trying to make a new pasta sauce and was using ingredients that I found in our cupboard, left by the last sisters (not the smartest idea). Anyway, my sauce included a packet of Sopa do Rabo de Boi. I thought it would be a little bit like tomato soup and make a red sauce-ish. But turns out rabo de boi means 'ox-tail'. Which l could have figured out because I knew that rabo de cavalo means pony-tail and I've read about boi in the scriptures when they talk about oxen and donkeys, etc. But I didn't put it together. Anyway, the pasta sauce turned out...bleh, but it reminded me of the sausage gravy we make so I made biscuits which turned out hideous but delicious.

(Note: the first word under 'rabo' when I looked it up is 'bottom', which sort of frightened me, but in this context, it meant 'tail'.)

Funny Fernanda story: I was sitting by her in Gospel Principles and all the sudden I smelled this horrible whiff of roasting pig parts and looked over--she had just opened her Book of Mormon, the pages of which contain a nice odor of pork.

This week I had a dream that I was teaching the first lesson in English and I was really struggling to replace Portuguese phrases with English ones. Awesome! Too bad my dream was very accurate and the people we were teaching weren't the slightest bit interested. Ha-ha. I also dreamt (dreamed?) a bit in Krioulu. Double awesome.

I finally got a new Portuguese Bible!

Once again, after purchasing umbrellas, it has yet to rain. BUT, we have had a lot of power outages and have been grateful for our candles.

I bought butter cookies today and found real peanut butter this week! Yay. And I have Cheerios. Oh, the little things that make me happy. Now all I need is a big, crunchy dill pickle.

This week was really hard. One of the more discouraging weeks of my mission thus far, but I'm glad I got to read about your week which made mine seem a whole lot better.

I love you!


Sister Brooks

Monday, August 8, 2011

Me, Denilson and Sister Gomes

Dunkin' Denilson

Hey everybody!! Guess what! My brother's getting married this week!

Oh wait. You already know that.

Well, as I'm sure you're all very busy, I'll just give a brief shout out to John and Mystie. I'm super-duper excited for you two and hope everything goes very well. Take extra pictures for me and make sure you get lots with ALL the family (don't want anyone to miss out on the picture taking fun). You can stick a cardboard cutout of me in there, too. (Just kidding.)

Well, I might as well start with Denilson's baptism. I don't know what I've already told you about Denilson, but he quickly became one of my favorite people in all of Cabo Verde. The Elders found Denilson about four or five months ago and he's been coming to church practically every week since. He has a sister in Portugal who's a member, but everyone else in his family is Catholic (like everyone else here says they are) and weren't happy at all about his interest in the church. But still he woke up every Sunday and came to church. I think everyone thought he was already a member since he's about the most active person in the branch.

Anyway; the point is he never got baptized because his parents wouldn't give him permission, but last month he turned 18 and decided to be baptized. And since his house is now in our area, Sister Gomes and I got to be the ones to teach him until his baptism on Saturday. We went to teach him on Friday, and I kept thinking, 'Man, it feels like Christmas Eve!' because everyone's been so excited for so long and finally it's the night before and you have to make the last minute preparations and such. And then Christmas came and everything was perfect. (Well, we started late because the font wasn't filling up and Denilson got all embarrassed because he was the first out of the four people there to be baptized.)

It was nice that Elder Cardoso and Elder Liddle who started teaching him four months ago were both able to be there for his baptism.

Even better than the baptism was the next day when Denilson received the Holy Ghost and was all dressed up in his white shirt and tie. Also, his confirmation blessing said a lot of very sweet things about him being a light to his family and friends and being the means of bringing many of them to the gospel.

Also, Kati from my old area was baptized (finally) by her dad Augusto. I know I shouldn't laugh, but it was the funniest baptism I've ever seen. It was Augusto's first time baptizing anyone and it took him about a dozen times to get the prayer right and Kati's a bit taller than him and he kept trying to gently put her under the water and she just ended up floating on her back a few times, but finally! He got the prayer right and she went all the way under.

We were so proud of both of them.

Oh, and I got asked to sing and solo for the special musical number. I suggested instead a trio and yanked Sister Laimana and Elder Peterson into it with me. It's a good thing Sister Laimana still loves me. :)

What else happened this week? It rained! I've been waiting all year for the rainy season and it's almost here! On Wednesday, we left District Meeting under a faint sprinkling rain and then, expecting more drips that afternoon, left the house and by the time we got half way to Josefa's house we had to take cover in a mini mercado--we were SOAKED. I couldn't see! Not only were my glasses wet, but water was dripping so fast down our faces we couldn't wipe it off fast enough. And, of course, I sent my umbrella home in the MTC, so we grabbed some sacks from the store (one to cover our bags and the other to cover our heads) and went to our lessons! I've never seen so much mud! We were able to get to all our appointments and the rain had about stopped by the time we finished. Sister Gomes wasn't thrilled with the day, but I loved it! Apparently, we're not exactly recommended to go out working in the downpours because of all the mud, but I thought it was awesome.

We're going to try and find some umbrellas this week.

We taught at Fernanda's house again a couple times this week (the pig killer) and today Sister Gomes smelled her skirt, wrinkled her nose and told me, 'My skirt smells like ham.' And sure enough, our clothes from yesterday had a very distinct smell of roasting pig parts (not pork, PIG).

Oh! Our cockroaches were exterminated this week! Some members who own an exterminating business came and sprayed this stuff and that evening we came home to a LOT of dead bugs. But it's helped a lot. I haven't had to pick out any cockroaches from my cereal bowl all week.

Well...the rest of the week was pretty normal and pretty great. I've loved getting to know the people in this area and trying to learn our way around it. Hopefully we'll find a lot of new people to teach this week!

Hey! Do you know what's awesome? Life!

Mom, we did buy candles and guess what! The power hasn't gone out since. Ha-ha. There's a lesson in preparation.


Sister Brooks

P.S. Martypants. Hahahaha.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Kati, Tininha, Augusto, Augusto's nephew

Sister Brooks says...

Hello! Any guesses as to why I didn't write yesterday? Well, the power was out ALL day! Ha-ha. We woke up, started cleaning in the dark and then stayed in the dark until we went to bed. Goodness. It's been happening about every day, though, so no biggie. We just need to buy candles.

So I've been feeling a bit philosophical lately, and I have a few thoughts for you all. (Just imagine they're those stupid fortunes that you get that aren't fortunes at all like: 'It is a sunny day' or 'Confucius says: Wise man counts his chickens twice', I dunno.)

#1. Really big speakers play really loud music.

Election time again! Dad asked about the political climate. It's LOUD.

I'm ignorant enough about the politics in my own country, let alone here in Cabo Verde. But I'm pretty sure it's the Presidential elections. I know most of the candidates--Manuel Inocencio, Aristides Lima and Someone Fonseca. I'm pretty sure Inocencio is going to win because his jingle is the catchiest (and loudest) and he throws more MEGA FESTAS! As Sister Gomes would say. His jingle is constantly stuck in our heads. 'E mi, e bo, e Inocencio - homem da palavra e determinacao!'

Anyway. There are trucks driving by all day and all night blasting announcements and such and I'm going deaf. There are also giant parties in the middle of our area all the time. Oh goodness.

#2. Cockroaches are crunchy.

During our cleaning yesterday, I realized that the bigger cockroaches are, the grosser it is to kill them. Why? Because of the sound. We found a 'mega barata' (as Sister Gomes would say) and I had to be the one to kill it. And I stepped on it and it made the worst sound ever!

Like potato chips. Crunchy.

And then I thought it was dead, but a little while later, I saw it trying to turn over as I was sweeping and I had to crunch it again! I'm afraid I don't like it. I'll stick with killing chickens.

#3. Pear cobbler isn't as good as peach cobbler.


#4. A dead lizard is just as distracting as a live lizard.

So last week in District Meeting we kept hearing this weird noise and Elder Fernandes found a lizard and a paper cup in the sink. He took away the paper cup and the noise reduced to soft rustle, but when we returned to check on the lizard after the meeting, we found him with his head stuck down the drain in an attempt to escape. I tried to pull him out but he wasn't moving and we were afraid of ripping his head off. So eventually...we just left.

We returned on Saturday for our correlation meeting, entered the room and encountered a horrible STENCH. The poor little lizard had died, still stuck in the sink. And he smelled really bad. Jamanta (branch missionary leader) came in and refused to have the meeting in there because the smell was so bad. Ha-ha. Then in the hall I found another lizard and caught him and threw him outside ('Live!') so he wouldn't meet the same fate.

I don't know where all the lizards came from, but they're everywhere!! I don't know if they like the heat or they're anticipating the rainy season, but everywhere you step you can see a lizard scuttling around. They're just little guys (but not little enough to fit through the church drain) and I like 'em.

#5. Baptism's the first step.

Okay, technically third (after faith and repentance), but the point is, with the new emphasis on baptisms in the mission, I've been...'kicking against the pricks', I suppose. People have such a problem with commitment and enduring to the end here, that I was a little resistant to the focus of baptism. I know that's our purpose, but I was still thinking about the fact that we focus so much on baptism until we forget the true purpose of inviting them to come unto Christ (for the rest of their lives!). But this week, it's clicked.

Our focus is baptism because that makes everything else possible.

Yes, they still need to be integrated into the branch so that they can have help staying firm, but we teach them what they need to know, prepare them, so they can start making covenants with their Heavenly Father.

This past week we found a woman with three young sons. We'd been going to her house for quite a while to teach her nephew but then we could never find him at home and the last time, we were walking up the stairs and I thought 'We're not leaving this house until we teach someone' and she answered the door and just looked happy to see us. We came in, taught a sort of scattered lesson about the restoration and the plan of salvation because she told us her husband just passed away but she also had tons of doubts about with is the right path in this life.

Then we returned to finish the plan of salvation and her sons sat in with us too (ages 16, 12 and 5). She told us that the youngest says his dad isn't dead, but just sleeping. Oh what an incredible thing to tell her that she WILL see her husband again and they WILL see their father again. I feel the Spirit so strongly just writing this. My purpose is to help this family do all they can so that one day they can be sealed together forever with their husband and father.

And baptism is the first part of that path.

I love this work. I know that this is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I love you all. Keep us in your prayers. I'll try to be more informative about the area and the people next week.


Sister Brooks