Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Last Letter!

Hey Family!

I'm writing this on a computer in Praia...the same computer that I wrote many of my emails on for the first nine months of my mission. :)  Luckily it's one of the better ones.  And there's even electricity today!

This week was pretty full.  Lots of things going on.  The Festas de Sao Filipe finally ended on the official holiday, May 1st.  We woke up at midnight to watch the fireworks.  They were really loud and pretty impressive.  The city probably puts all of its funds into this one (week long) party.  We saw one of the events--some sort of horse competition.  It was pretty boring, but it still drew all of our investigators and members away from their houses. :)

We got to have our zone conference on Thursday.  No general authority, but it was really good.  Now that the stake is all established in Praia, President and Sister Oliveira are half moving the mission home to Fogo.  Next step: Fogo Stake.  The entire conference was on families. Finding, teaching and strengthening families.  Right now, Fogo definitely has the numbers for a stake, but without any married men to hold ward or stake level callings.  Also, with the extreme amount of youth, the branches are in desperate need for some more mature members to help with retention.

During the conference, President was giving each missionary counsel for their particular areas. He got to the end of the line where Sister Laimana and I were.  All he said was: 'Voces, casem-se por favor.'  I think you can probably figure that one out.  Everyone laughed pretty hard.

Highlights: we had a Cabo Verdian music group sing to us.  Haha.  By music group I mean two local boys who happen to have a song on the radio.  It was so ridiculously awesome.  The song's in Krioulu and pretty catchy, but I'm pretty sure we've done a contact with both of the kids and they don't really look the popstar part. Haha.

Gerson was baptized!  Yes, I know I spelt his name Jelson, but it's not.  It's Gerson.  Everything went super smoothly.  He's a smart little kid.  The best part was that his mom came!  We were bugging her all week about going but the day came and she was locked out of the house and couldn't get ready to go.  We knew President was going to be there, so we had to get started on time so we just went up with Gerson and Etson.  Well, right as we were going in to sit by the font, his mom walks into the chapel.  Perfect timing.  It was so good.  And because of District Conference, he was confirmed afterwards as well.  It was a great baptism, but then afterwards, we were able to be there for Samila's setting apart!  It was awesome.  Goodness, I love that girl.

We went to Samila's house Friday night for her farewell party.  Everyone's going to miss her, but it's so good--all of the boys in the branch need a little kick so they'll get out on a mission too. She's really amazing.

Well, Saturday we headed off to Praia.  I forgot how big Praia was.  Of course, by that I mean...I forgot how small Fogo is.  Praia's still a tiny city compared to the rest of the world, but it seems huge.  We were able to visit a bunch of peope in Praia 2 and then we went to both the Praia 2 WARD and the Praia 1 WARD (Emphasis on the WARD. Haha.) on Sunday because now Praia 1 starts at 3 in the afternoon.  We were able to see pretty much everyone we wanted to.  Little Maisa and Andre are still very cute.  And Maisa's mom is now married to a returned missionary!  Praia is now full of married families.  It's awesome.  And all the babies I saw a year ago are all grown up. 

It's been nice to visit here in Praia, and we'll probably spend some time in Sucupira, but I'll be very happy to get back to our area in Fogo tomorrow.  I miss Fonte Aleixo like crazy.

Anyway, love you all.

Sister Brooks

Denial?  Yes.  Just kidding.  I love you all.  I'm excited to see you.  :) Tchau!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Eliandro and Alex

18 months!

Eliandro Watch

Hello Family.  I'm writing on a computer that looks like it might actually have been made in America.  And I don't have to use all my strength to punch in the keys on the keyboard. :)

This week was fun.  We woke up on Tuesday, excited for our flight to Praia...and then it got cancelled.  Which meant that we had plenty of time to eat a giant bowl of 'doce de papaia verde' at Ineida's house.  We both almost died.  I can't even really explain to you what it was.  Basically just sugared, cooked, green papaia that was warm and floating in its own juices.  Yum...not. 

Anyway, so our flight got postponed until Wednesday, so we filled our unplanned Tuesday with contacting and comforting Lu after her trip to the dentist (I feel like it will be similar to how my trip to the dentist will be--I'm so terrified).  We're teaching Clecy's mom who's really cool.  She's had to work overtime because of the festas, but I think she'll progress--she has some great examples.

Also, Elvis' little friend Jelson is super cute and smart.  He came to church all by himself (and looks like he'll be our last baptism of the mission).  Jelson's uncle is most likely the head of the gang in this area.  We taught him a couple months ago.  He says really good prayers, but he never came to church.  And this week he's been resting a bit because he got two knife wounds from the rival gang.  Oh, I love this country. 

Yeah, so Wednesday we woke up, again excited for our flight to Praia, waited at the airport for about two hours and then found out that it wouldn't leave until much later and since we'd already missed most of the conference, it was decided that it was better if we just stayed.  So we went out to eat as a zone and then back to work.  We moped a bit about not meeting the general authority, but the stake still got made, so that's what's awesome.

Wednesday we took a lot of pictures with people (since we were so nicely dressed for the conference) and we were able to find a couple people (literally) to teach.  The whole week was a pretty hard teaching week.  Everyone was getting ready for the festas, and they've also been having their annual horseracing events.  Which means the only people in our area were...us.  And the Elders.  Which explains why Friday, during one of the races, we spent some time playing with a man's baby monkey.  It's so cute.  And it bit me...probably going to get some sort of monkey disease, but it was just a little bite. :)

Oh, and guess what!  Eliandro is finally baptized!!!  Hurrah.  We were able to talk to his mom on Monday and she signed the ficha.  Yay.  Then we started setting up an 'Eliandro Watch', employing all the young men in the area to keep their eyes open for him since he just sort of walks around all day, hanging out here and there and whenever we need to find him, we never can.  Also, he doesn't own a watch or a phone, so it's impossible for him to be on time for anything.  After spending the whole week telling people to tie themselves to him so that he'd get to his baptism on time, the young men decided they'd make us a little more nervous.  We discovered that all of them had decided to tell us that Eliandro wasn't going to get baptized and that there was no way he was going to make it to the church on Saturday.  It got all the way down to little Jelson--our 11-year-old investigator--but he's also the one who told us it was a joke.  They almost gave us a heart-attack.  But he's baptized and confirmed and awesome.  A really good kid.

I sang a solo in Sacrament Meeting....won't go into details.  I feel like I was forced into it (by Sister Laimana), but it was okay.  Most people were still sleeping because of the festas...so there weren't too many people there to hear me.

We had our last little kid activity.  This time about the Sabbath Day.  We had them play a little relay game--categorizing the things you can and can't do on Sunday.  They were really cute and every time a team won they'd just all start jumping up and down and yelling 'We won!' (E nos ki ganha!)  I love those kids.  Also, we could fill three bath tubs with the amount of popcorn we've served at these activities.

Sorry, I can't get pictures to work again...not like it really matters.  I love you all!  Sending this before the light goes out.

-Sister (Emma) Brooks

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Out of Control

Hey, family.  I have so many great pictures for you, but this computer isn't really up to the whole uploading photos thing.  Oh well.  You'll see them soon enough.

So...this week was good.  It pretty much flew by and it doesn't help that I'm sitting at the same computer as last week....feels like no time has passed at all. 

Bad news of the week: Eliandro is still unbaptized.  Now it looks like his mom and/or grandma aren't too excited about his baptism, but I feel like everything will be sorted out this week.  We've been stressing out a bit, but it was still great to see Eliandro showing up on his own to church in his white shirt and tie.

Good news: Clecy and Dira were baptized!  Clecy is still as sweet and cute as ever and seems so much happier.  And the best part of it all, her mom, two aunts and little brother were there to see her baptized!!
(I guess the baby brother didn't really have a choice, but we were praying that her mom would come to support her.)  We started teaching her mother as well and hopefully we'll be able to see her progress before...you know.

Dira was definitely our miracle for the week.  We literally had to do nothing.  Everything we taught, she already remembered and everything went smoothly (except she was a little late for church because of some delay with their cows and milk...I don't know) and her brother was there for her baptism and it seems to have helped him remember the importance of church as well.

We've been doing quite a bit with Lu to help her get her mission papers in order.  She's such a funny girl, but she's going to be a pretty amazing missionary.  It's been a little weird going through the same process I went through a couple years ago.  My memory is really bad.

Speaking of missions--Samila's finally getting out!  I'm pretty sure she'll be coming to Boston with us!  But then I think we get separated.  I was really hoping we'd be able to go the whole way together so you could all meet her.  Oh, I love that girl.  And I have officially won the heart of her niece Rafaela (the nephew Rafael is being a little bit more stubborn).

We had our weekly recent convert activity which more or less turned into 'Gather all the children ages 2-13 in the area and stuff them in a small area and try to keep their attention long enough to teach them something.'  At least the ones that are actually our recent converts are still doing great and they're the ones bringing their little brothers and sisters and cousins with them to the activity.  The best part of this week is that Tchilatchy and Eddy pretty much did everything.  We just brought the cake.  And wait until I tell you about the cake...

We're out of control.  It just so happened that Friday was our 18 month mark.  Crazy and terrifying, but true.  So we made two cakes and decorated them as our name tags.  Yups.  I wish I could send the picture. Maybe next week.  And we also bought birthday candles and we made them sing happy birthday to us.  And most of them now think that we are twin sisters who have the same birthday.  They sang to us, we blew out the candles and then they gave us beijos!  On the cheek of course and only from the girls (and the very little boys).

 I think I had a slight allergic reaction to fish yesterday...but Sister Laimana had it too, so we're not sure what it was.  A couple members were grilling fish outside as we were walking home and they offered us some. Can't really say no, so we each accepted the offered two small fish wrapped in notebook paper.  It was really good, but after eating about one and a half my tongue started hurting and swelled up a little...don't really know why.  But I did suck the eyes out of its head and then got the gibblies and had to spit it into the sink.

Water's been coming and going--ironic that I complained about a flood last week since this week we've been showering...infrequently with very small rations of water. :)

Tomorrow we're off to Praia, but now we're flying.  Probably better for me--I'll save my vomidrine for the long trip home.  Excited for the conference, but we're even more excited to hear about the STAKE!  Looks like this weekend they'll be officially creating a stake in Praia!  So awesome.  I wish we could be there, but instead we'll be back in Fogo for the...

Festas de Sao Filipe.  Apparently it's HUGE.  The members have told us that we will not be teaching a single lesson since no one will be home and that everyone will be drinking and if they're not drinking it's because they're out of money so they're going to rob us.  Really wanted to take pictures with people this week, but looks like I won't be carrying my camera around with me. :)

The work's going really well.  Our 11 year old recent convert Elvis brought two friends to church and he said that next week he'd bring two more!  He's so cute. 

Oh yeah, and Mom and Dad (this is against the white handbook rules) but I'd like you to adopt a boy named Bruno.  He's 16 or 17 but I think he'd make a great little brother.  And he really needs to get out of Cabo Verde before he gets even more corrupted.  I'll send you a picture soon.

All right, I love you all lots but there's things to do.  

Sister Brooks 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

One Long Sunny Day

Okay, first off, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to everyone. Charlotte, Dan, Sister Turnbow and Sister Walker. Un monte de alguen.

The week was nice and long. A few more downs than ups, but we worked hard and the branch was packed on Sunday, so that's nice.

The week started with a lesson Monday night with a boy named Danielson. We contacted him Sunday night and spent 15 minutes trying to talk him out of going clubbing and listening to our message instead. It didn't work. The ironic/depressing part is that he's the younger brother of a previous investigator who was at church last Sunday and then as we talked to his brother that night, he informed us that Walter was sleeping off his post-church alcohol. Que raiva. Making it worse, Danielson told us that he planned on drinking a whole lot more than his brother during his clubbing hours. Yups. So we ended up running into him on Monday and he said he wanted to talk to us so we sat down with Tchilatchy and him and were about to pray when his mother enters. For about 10 minutes she vents to us about her disappointments in her two sons and asking us what she did wrong and how her sons could have turned out so badly. She told us that they needed to change but even with the older one going to church, he still drinks. It was HORRIBLE and completely broke my heart. Even worse is that the boy just sat there, not even paying attention. I was hoping it would soften his heart, but it did nothing. I felt so, so bad for that mother. For all mothers in Cabo Verde. Argh. Anyway, we still tried to teach a lesson, but he wasn't listening and I couldn't even look at him I was so upset.

I don't know if you want to put this on the blog or not. It makes me sad just writing about it. I was bawling during that lesson. The moment I thought about how I would feel if Mom said those things about me, I just burst out crying. I couldn't go on. Sister Laimana had to take over and Tchilatchy couldn't figure out what he was supposed to do.

Anyway. Luckily, afterwards we went to a good family night where I realized that bingo is as boring as I remembered it. The lights went out near the end so we all walked back down the hill with our cell phone lights. The members in Cabo Verde really are amazing. Just thinking about the amount of temptations and problems they have, it's so amazing that any of them can stay active. I love them.

A missionary returned this week. He served in the Salt Lake City-South mission. It'll be really nice to have him here after we leave. We already showed most of our recent converts to him so they don't get completely forgotten.

We did a whole lot of walking this week and it was extra hot. I didn't think I could get any darker, but I might have actually got a little bit burnt this week.

Ups of the week: we're teaching and preparing Ineida's niece for baptism. She's a sweetheart as well and loves coming to church and the activities. Also, we found a young woman who was taught a lot by the sisters in the past, even had a baptismal interview but then something happened. She's excited to talk to us again and came to church with her daughter and younger brother who's already a member.

Eliandro was supposed to get baptized on Saturday...but we think he got cold feet. We talked to him about eight times on Saturday, but he said he wanted to wait a week. Well...with the help of the returned missionary and other members, he had a really good experience in church and he said that now he feels ready to get baptized next Saturday. He's a really good kid. He goes to everything on his own and shows up to church in a white shirt and tie. I think he's also helping his semi-less-active brother be a little bit more firm in the church. He's a funny little kid. He's all ready for baptism. He already had his interview and everything.

Best part of the week. We had our little kiddo recent convert activity again on Friday. It was so good! Eddy and Tchilatchy taught them about the Word of Wisdom. (Yes, Sister Laimana and I picked the topic--we're hoping for two things. To start them young in keeping the commandments and also to create a little support group to help their brothers and fathers start to keep the commandments.) We went and bought a big sheet of butcher paper and Eddy drew a person on it. Then we had five cups filled with mud and other gross looking stuff and labeled the cups (Cafe, cha preto, alcool, tabaco, drogas) and five kids got to splatter the figure with the substances. It worked really well and they all learned the five things that will destroy our lives! I love those kids.

And Eddy and Tchilatchy continue to be awesome. Eddy is so cute with the kids and tries to hide it from us, but Sister Laimana and I are on to him.

Sorry about this email. I feel like a LOT of things happened this week, but mostly it involved drunk members and earrings and you probably don't want to hear about it. And there's a huge city wide party coming up and I'm sure the alcohol consumption will be going up (hard to believe I know).

But I love you all lots and loved reading the news from home.


Sister Brooks

PS Probably next Monday we'll be on the Fast Ferry to PRAIA!! For a double zone conference. We'll be there for a couple days and then head back for our last weeks in Fogo. Sniff.

Oh, and our house flooded. We've been running out of water and light like crazy this week and so I guess one waterless day, one of the sinks was left open and while we were all out teaching, the water came back and left a few inches of water on the floor. Pretty much nothing got damaged....except for our area book and my Preach my Gospel (I was really sad)--we don't have desks, so they were on the floor. Anyways, my PMG is almost drying out. Almost.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Ineida's baptism


So, first off, I really like all you guys. It's a good thing too, because I'm loving my Cabo Verdian friends more and more every day. Which is why today, I'm going to introduce you to a few of them.

Meet Lu. Lu is possibly the best friend any sister missionary could ever have. She knows all the sisters’ recent converts and all the people that the sisters taught but were never baptized. She also thinks we walk around too much and work too hard and makes us come to her house every day (OR ELSE) at 6 for juice and bread. Sister Laimana pours her juice into my cup when Lu isn't looking because it's gross. Haha. Lu is also probably the most generous and friendly person you could ever meet. She'll help anyone and everyone and is super excited about sharing the gospel with anyone who will listen. She was baptized about 2 years ago and she and her older brother are the only members in their family. Her brother is....

Tchilatchy. His real name is Domingos, but no one, including him, would know who you're talking about if you used that name. He's Tchilatchy and he's pretty amazing. Only a few months ago, he's was more or less inactive. With Sister Laimana and Lu's help, he started again coming to church and making a lot of progress. A couple weeks ago we challenged some members to read the Book of Mormon before May 7 (before you know what...) and Tchilatchy has been one of the most enthusiastic. We have literally seen the difference in him. He has an incredible testimony and definitely an added measure of the Spirit with him. He taught with us one day and it was incredible. He's absolutely hilarious and you can't leave a conversation with him without just feeling happy. Unfortunately, we sent him to the hospital this week because he got a headache while reading too much in the Book of Mormon....? Seriously. Haha, but he's fine. Another great thing is that this week, Tchilatchy was able to baptize...

Neida. Whose real name is actually Ineida. We've been calling her the wrong name for about a month and a half and only while filling out her baptismal ficha did we figure it out. :) Ineida is a total sweetheart. Talking to her this week she expressed just how happy she was to be following this decision to be baptized. Most of her family lives in the interior of Fogo and weren't able to come to her baptism, but it was still a great day. We taught her on Sunday and you can see the difference in her--her family can see it too. Hopefully we'll see the same changes in our new investigator named...

Alex. Thursday we taught a boy named Alex (a different Alex) and that night we went up to the church for an appointment. We found Alex 1 sitting with a friend who was introduced to us as also being Alex (2). We invited them in for a mini tour of the chapel and were able to show them around some rooms and the sala sacramental. We also showed them the baptismal font and Alex (1) told us that Alex (2) had never been baptized. We asked if we could talk to them for a few minutes and sat down by the font and taught the first lesson. After explaining the Restoration of the Gospel, we asked if Alex (2) had any questions. He nodded his head and said, 'I'd like to be baptized.' Okay! We marked a date and talked to him about his preparation for baptism. He even came to church all by himself yesterday. It's a huge difference teaching in the chapel than on the side of the road on cinderblocks or in a house with eight screaming children. From experience, I know the Spirit can still testify in both those places, but it's a lot easier to feel when there's a giant picture of Christ's baptism hanging next to you.

Okay, let me introduce you all to Eddy. I think I might have told you a bit about him last week. But he was the first person that we took an earring from. Since then, he's made a lot of progress. Eddy tries to put on a tough-guy front, but you can't fool Sister Laimana and me. One of my first weeks here we saw him look into the primary room and saw the welcome he received from all the kids. From that point on, we realized he's just a big ol' softie. So we put him in charge of all of our little recent converts. Ages 10-13, Zidane, Cuka, Jacira, Carlita, Kaeli, Ronilza, Patrick, Roni--they now all have a big brother named Eddy. We've held two little activities at his house. Last Friday we watched the Restoration film (with popcorn) and this past Friday Eddy and Tchilatchy taught them (and about all the other kids in the neighborhood) about the Holy Ghost. Finished the night with juice and brownies. Eddy is now first counselor in the Young Men's presidency. It's great. Now he'll be able to help all the boys and young men in the branch, including...

Zidani. I love this little guy. He was so completely sweet and meek while we were teaching him, but from the moment he got baptized he's started sassing us. We know it's just because he loves us. Yesterday, I wore my gray dress to church (We'd had a long discussion about whether or not that dress is actually cute--it was cute in the MTC, but that was a long time ago and things have changed. I've worn in about 6 times since I left the MTC. The only thing that's still practically brand new.) and Zidani walks up to me, looks me up and down, stops and says, 'You're ugly today.' Haha. Thanks Zidani.

Oh man, I could go on all day and introduce you to everyone in the branch. They're all crazy and they're all amazing. I love Fonte Aleixo. They have a talent for saying the most awkward things possible in the most awkward ways. We've actually been trying to teach them that word: AWKWARD.

It was a great week. I love you all! I hope you had a wonderful Easter (it more or less passed us by without any notable difference) and that Grandpa's birthday was good too!


Sister Brooks