Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Font!

The Font

Hello Family!

We had a pretty fantastic week. I don't really know where to start.

How about...with the baptisms! Artur and Cicita were both baptized and it was so great. Super duper. Artur was very excited, especially since he got to be the first person baptized in our new baptismal font! Haha.

By which I mean our new water tank which we found behind the church, turned around, cleaned out, painted over and filled up! You'd think it would be less exciting than going to the beach for baptisms, but everyone was super happy. It's cheaper than hiring a bus to take everyone to the beach and now the baptismal services don't take up our entire Saturdays. And it made us and the Elders feel good that we could do it for the branch. We spent quite a bit of time scrubbing the disgustingness (of years of being unused behind the chapel) out and then we went and picked out a very nice shade of blue and painted it! It looked great. Just add a couple of chairs and people can get in and out. :)

Back to Artur, he's such a good kid. And his mom and brother and sister and little cousin came too which was great. Artur's mom is super less active but she's still really trying to do what's best for Artur and Eduardo (who's next to be baptized) and it's been super fun to get to know the (nutty) family.

Then Cicita's baptism was just as great. Pretty much everyone thought he was already a member since he's related to the most active family in the branch and used to come to church every week before his mom told him he couldn't be baptized. But now he's 19 and baptized! And he pretty much knows everything and is going to be an awesome member and Priesthood holder. It was also super cute when his cousins Gilda and Danilo gave the talks at the baptism.

Side Note: Cicita used to have earrings in, right? Well, one day when we were talking to him about them, Danilo told us that he would just creep in during the night while he was sleeping and cut off his ears! (At the time, Sister Walker and I thought it was a very good idea.) Then Danilo continued to say that he would baptize Cicita, he'd just need to borrow his dad's Priesthood. :)

It was just a super good weekend. After the baptism Saturday, we had a branch activity--'Pela Mao de Mormon...' Sobre o Livro de Mormon. It was super good. We had each of the organizations give a little presentation and then Sister Walker and I brought about 8 dozen cookies--Amy's oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (without the chocolate chips but with swirls of cocoa). And the Elders brought the juice--they brought five packages of the most random flavors and mixed them altogether. But I guess that's how we do things here.

The young women did a skit about Nephi killing Laban to get the brass plates. It was almost accurate--except Laban died quite violently in his drunken sleep instead of getting his head sliced off. But still super funny. I mean good.

The Elders did a skit of Joseph Smith getting the golden plates and receiving instruction from Moroni (that one was actually my idea because I remember it was done years ago at my first youth conference and I've always remembered it). Then there were some other great presentations (through some of them I might have been playing with Bryan...but it was still good.

The weekend kept getting better with the Primary Program on Sunday! I'm not sure if it was really a very 'by the book' Primary Program, but it was awesome. Primary kids are just as cute here as they are everywhere. I did get to play the piano (and they had never practiced with me or the piano and it probably would have been better for them to do it without, but I was happy to do it).

If I could have filmed the whole thing, I would have. Such cute kids.

Speaking of cute kids, Bryan had a wet spot on his pants and we asked him what it was. He answered quite honestly and told us it was 'chichi'. He wet his pants.

Oh. I guess I should tell you about transfers. I haven't really decided how to feel about it. Sister Walker is getting kicked out. She and Sister Turnbow only have half a transfer and they get to go to Fogo to search out the less-actives (awesome). Though it's sort of not fair that I only get one transfer with her. And it went so stinkin' fast! But I'm getting a mini missionary from Fogo! I'm super excited and super nervous. (And I'm going to ask her to teach me Krioulu and how to make catchupa and feijuada...and anything else she knows how to do.)

There's only one catch. The flights between islands have been very troublesome lately because Halcyonair stopped flying and now TACV can do whatever it wants (I'm sure you're all super interested in this). But basically that means that no flights or boats are leaving from Fogo and 'Sister' Vicente won't get to Sal until Wednesday or Thursday. But Sister Walker leaves tomorrow. So...today, we have to find some kind soul to be my mini, mini missionary so I don't die. Fun, fun!

Anyway... I hope you all are doing wonderful! HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you all! Weird to think that I was sitting in the MTC gym listening to Elder Holland last year.

But we had a practice Thanksgiving lunch last week and I'm confident that Sister Vicente and I will eat well...if she ever gets here.

Love you all! And THANKS for everything!

-SISTER Brooks

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Us and the salt

The Missionaries and the Sisters

Hello, Family. Well, another week has come and gone and, as always, it went way too fast. The obvious highlight of the week was our trip to Mindelo!! So, that's where I'll start.

Wednesday we had enough time to visit a less-active after lunch then we ran home, grabbed our bags and got a taxi to the airport. We then got to sit on some chairs for a few hours since it's Cabo Verde and they kept delaying our flight. But we eventually got on the plane and to the island of Sao Vicente! (In the airport I was really excited because I wanted to buy something from a vending machine with escudos, but when we tried it didn't work--they only accepted Euros. :( Also, we got to watch some Mickey Mouse Christmas movies...I'm pretty sure those are approved by the missionary manual...) The flight was about half an hour and they handed out water and butterscotch candies. How fun.

Well, we got to Mindelo and the Jorge (the missionaries' taxi driver) picked us up at the airport and took us to the chapel where Sister Walker and I had a very touching reuniting with Sister Turnbow. And that was awesome. Then I got to go out for a couple of hours and visit some of the Sisters' recent-converts and investigators. Mindelo's much bigger than Sal, but still cleaner and calmer than Praia--from what I saw.

Oh man. And guess what! I had my first hot shower in almost a year. That's right. It was very bizarre and slightly depressing when we had to leave that behind.

The conference itself was more or less...amazing. Elder Causse from the seventy spoke to us and basically the whole thing was just him telling us what he felt that we needed to know and answering questions. It was so good. It was also...in English! Ha-ha. There are only two missionaries in both zones that don't understand English so President just had their companions translate for them and since Elder Causse's from France he just spoke English. (Yeah...I know that didn't really make sense, but you get what I'm trying to say.)

But it was awesome. I wish I had time to tell you everything I learned, but I don't. I should have brought my notes. We talked a LOT about building Zion. At one point we went over the number of members that there are in the Mindelo District, the number of Melch. Priesthood holders and how many we need to have a stake. Not many. We have more than enough members; we just need a few more worthy men. And Sister Walker and I both know we have TONS of men here that are ready to receive the Priesthood, or be invited to do what they need to do to become worthy to receive it. We're also teaching some amazing young men right now too. Anyway, it was just really interesting and exciting.

We also taught a lot about charity and as Elder Causse asked us about the people we meet and teach every day I think he was impressed how easy it is to love the people here. He spoke a bit about how sometimes it's very difficult to love people right away and you have to serve them for two years to find that love...but here, it's not hard at all. The people automatically love you and it's really not hard to love them back. He spoke about the Atonement and about applying the Christ's grace in our lives now--not just after we've died. He also spoke about living a consecrated life.

It was just amazing. President and Sister Oliveira spoke to us, too and I just love being a missionary. It's absolutely ridiculous how lucky we are as missionaries.

Speaking of being missionaries...we are not. Ha-ha. Here in Sal, everyone refers to Elders and Sisters as the Missionaries and the Sisters. Seriously. Sometimes people will ask us to tell the 'missionaries' something and they always pray for 'the missionaries and the sisters'. Gosh. We get a good laugh out of it.

It was a little bit sad saying good-bye to Mindelo, though. There were a lot of missionaries there that I haven't seen in a while and it was super fun seeing them. There were also missionaries that I had never seen (since I've spent my whole life in Praia) and it was nice to meet them. But I had to say good-bye to Sister Turnbow. Most likely I won't see here before she goes home since she and Sister Walker leave in December.

But we did say good-bye and by Thursday night we were already back in Sal. And life is good.

We made brownies for the Young Women's activity on Saturday and the Young Women's president asked us to be there and we got to be taught how to make a Tarte de Limao! It was like watching a cooking show. And now I have the recipe. We also got to be surrounded by the absolutely insane young women, which is always fun. Man, they're nuts. But I like 'em.

Cicita finally took his earrings out. Ha-ha. We've been teaching him since I'm been here and he knows it's true, but for some reason he's just been on the fence about baptism and he kept saying it was just too hard to take out his earrings. Well, we came back from Mindelo and for some reason his earrings were out and he told us he was ready to be baptized and that 'for sure' he's going to baptize this weekend. Awesome.

Also...that's about it. I really liked one thing that Elder Causse said--I think he was quoting Pres. Eyring (I'll paraphrase): 'Assume the Lord has touched those to whom you are sent--approach them with happy optimism.'

Not the easiest thing in the world, but I'm all about being happily optimistic. :)

I love you all! Have a Happy Birthday David, today and a Happy Birthday, Amy, on Saturday!

Com muito amor e carinho,

Sister Brooks

Monday, November 7, 2011

Keep up the Doughnut Work

Hello Family!

Work wise, it was one of those weeks that you wonder what you're doing wrong, but it was still good. We're teaching a new investigator named Ze who's kind of hilarious. Half the time I don't think he understands what we're saying, but he's a good kid who really wants to change his life. He showed up to church all dressed up and Sister Walker and I weren't sure where we knew him from.

Artur is still great. He's such a funny kid. His mom and brother are still in Praia, so he wasn't baptized on Saturday, but he's super excited. We hope they get home soon.

I should probably apologize now for this letter...my brain's not working. I'm pretty sure Augusto and Florindo gave me the flu. But...it's p-day. I can't be sick on a p-day.

Well...most of what I wrote down to tell you are just funny things that happened this week. We taught two great lessons about fasting--one to Florindo and one to Artur.

During Florindo's opening prayer, his little two-year-old brother kept shouting 'Florindo! Shut-up! Florindo! Shut-up!' It's super hard to keep the Spirit there when Joao's present. (He repeated the scene during our lesson on Sunday, too.) But we asked Florindo what fasting was and he said it's when someone does something bad, they can't eat or drink for a while. Ha-ha. Well, I'm not going to say that sometimes fasting doesn't seem like a punishment.

Artur seemed to agree when we taught him. We said, 'Fasting is not eating or drinking for two meals.' His eyes got really big and he said, 'We'll die!' Oh man. I love these kids.

Fast Sunday itself was very good though. We had a day packed (seriously) with lessons and Elisabeth literally pushed me out of my chair into the aisle so I would bear my testimony. And that's what good friends are for. Ha-ha.

District Meeting was also one for the journal. The zone leaders came (from Mindelo) and brought mail and Sister Walker got a bunch of letters from the Primary kids in her parents' ward. They'd all filled out this little formula letter -- Mad Lib style -- and Sister Walker and I started laughing so hard while reading them that the Elders wanted to read them so our District Leader read them all out loud. It's been a long time since I've laughed so hard. Some of our favorite ones were these:

'If I were a missionary, I would like to go HOME.'

'If I were a missionary, I would like to go TO THE BEACH.'

'Keep up the DOUGHNUT work!'

Also, my animal accounts for the week are these - we saw a giant whole cow being shopped up right outside a member's house.

We saw a dog being (literally) run over by a car and after its spin around the tires it just ran off yelping into its house. (That one sort of traumatized me.)

Also, we have a pet lizard. I built him a house to stay in on the porch, but somehow, every single night when we get home, he's just hanging out on our walls. We can always recognize him because I was trying to replace him in his house and I accidently pulled off the tip of his tail...

Another highlight of the week was today when we went to see the SALINAS! Sal's salt flats. It was super fun and I found it actually really interesting. I took lots of cool pictures, but I'll have to send them another week. Basically it's a super old salt place that's still in use and we got to walk around and see all the salt deposits and such. It doesn't sound interesting, but it is. I took several pictures of people pretending (or not) to lick the salt.

Sorry for the scatterbrained email. I'll write a better one next week because...we get to go to Mindelo this week for Zone Training! I get to see Sister Turnbow (and a General Authority), and I get to visit Mindelo for the first time. I'm quite excited.

Love you all lots.


Sister Brooks

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Halloween Friends

Happy Halloween


Well, you'll all be happy to know that I'm celebrating Halloween by doing my hair like an African. Elizabeth did Sister Walker and my hair this morning and it's so tight that it hurts to smile! Woohoo! Anyway, hope you all have a fun Halloween. I wanted to buy candy just in case we get trick-or-treaters, but apparently they don't do that here. Phooey.

But it's okay, because I picked out a few Halloween words for you all:
Abo'bora (ah-BOW-buh-ruh) - pumpkin
Bruxa (broo-shu) - witch
Casa Assombrada - Haunted House
Fantasma (fan-taz-muh) - ghost

On to the week: it was good. I spent my lunch times decorating the house for Halloween--old shower curtain rings as chains, used candles, cobwebs from stretched cotton balls and some random pumpkins and other Halloween items made out of cereal boxes - a missionary's most abundant resource. I also sent you a picture of one of my favorite pieces. Ah...what fun.

But other than that, we've been working hard with our investigators. If all goes well, we'll have several baptisms this week: Edson, Artur and Cicita.

Artur is my favorite. He's fourteen, his mother is less-active and we're teaching him how to read. He's a sweetheart and he really does want to do what's right. He had a friend over for our lesson and he helped him give one of the prayers. We made him flash cards for the letters and he does really well. We read a few verses in the Book of Mormon with him each lesson. But he's so excited to be baptized. He kept asking us when he could be baptized and now it's time. He's also ALWAYS at church and all the activities even when no one else in his family is. I like him.

Also, Leidymara's doing really well. She keeps telling us how good she feels and how much better things are going. And we've seen such a growth in her--especially in her prayers. And her little girl Raquel isn't as scared of us as she was. :)

I think with only four missionaries on the island, we're about out of ideas of games to play at family nights and integration nights and whatever other nights there are. So last Saturday, for our activity we played Hangman. Appropriate for Halloween time and very interesting to see that something that all of us played in about every single Sunday School class until the age of 18 was completely new here in Sal. Ha-ha. I thought it was fun.

I got to give a talk in Sacrament meeting. Woohoo. I was so excited to sit in between Debi (Bryan's sister) and Joao (Cisa's son) during Sacrament meeting, but then Pres. Fortes came and asked me to fill in for the youth speaker who wasn't there. Guess what she was going to speak on? Dating! Elder Peterson and Sister Walker were laughing the whole time and Elder Peterson wanted to know why they chose a SISTER MISSIONARY to talk about DATING! Gosh. Ha-ha. Man. It was pretty awful, but it's all good. I lived. And Bryan came up and gave me a hug (gave my knees a hug) and Evelyn was excited to see me. I love these little guys.

Sunhana got baptized! Remember Sunhana? He disappeared, I got transferred and then I kept bugging the Sisters in Praia 2 and finally he came back and he got baptized! I was so excited. I wish I could have been there to see him and Domingos baptize. Oh, Praia. When the sisters called to tell me, it was the first time that I really, really missed Praia. But don't worry, I love Sal.

Erm...it was a pretty average week. Sister Walker and I are making great leaps in our culinary activities. We've invented a new version of pizza pockets and I believe we'll perfect it this week. Also, Sunday, we used almost all of our left-overs to make a casserole and no, it was not gross! And we have great plans for fresquinha making this week. Our mango-pineapple fresquinhas were a huge success.

Oh, we got kissed by a little boy in the street. He was pulling something along the road with a piece of string (this is a very common activity --imaging that little rolling turtle on a string we have at home, but replace the turtle with an empty Tupperware) and then saw us, got excited and ran over, kissed Sister Walker's arm and then made a loop to kiss my arm too.

We had a really good lesson with a man name Antonio, a reference from Pres. Fortes. We were finishing the Plan of Salvation with him and asked what were some things he needed to do to prepare for the Celestial Kingdom (this is my favorite question--because if they were listening and they're really interesting in making the right choices, you almost always get a great answer) and the first thing he said was that he needed to be baptized! True, we said, and we marked a date. He works every Sunday, but he works at the same place as President, so they're going to work on that. I like him. He has twin daughters who are very curious about what two white girls are doing coming to their house. Ha-ha.

Well, that's about all I got. Sal is incredible. The people are hilarious--and incredible and I'm loving being a missionary!

Sister Brooks