Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Me, Djenny and Flavia

Beach Party (Missionary Style)


I hope everyone is doing super well. This week was fun. The highlight was our branch activity...on the beach! I know, I know, it's just not fair how awesome my life is. :)

It was a really good activity. Everyone met at the church on Saturday and then we got a big bus to a little beach (close to where we used to do baptisms) and everyone played soccer or other games. Ky had planned a bunch of fun games for the youth--which I enjoyed watching...from far away. Haha. One included shoving your face into a pile of flour. Yippee. Don't worry, I wrote them all down and we can play them at family reunions.

I spent most of the day entertaining the little ones. (Note: it's quite difficult to chase little kids in the sand, while holding down your skirt so it doesn't flap around like crazy.)

Afterwards the Elders Quorum built a fire and everyone sat around, drinking hot chocolate, and President asked everyone to write down any question about the gospel/life they had and then everyone took turns answering each other's questions. It was really good and fun to see the whole branch involved. I sat by Cisa, which is always great and made sure to make plenty of faces at Valdir across the circle.

I got to see Milenyu (from Praia) last week. He's stationed here in Sal as part of his military service. It was super fun to see a familiar face. He told me he's already finished the entire Book of Mormon. Woohoo.

I finally got my goat. (That sounds like a saying...) It actually might have been lamb, but close enough. We went to a restaurant and ordered the plate of the day--cabrito. We each got several interesting cuts of meat. It was pretty good. We just tried not to think about the four-legged friend we'd seen being hacked up the day before. (I'm convinced it was the exact one we were eating.)

I forgot to tell you this story from last week: the electricity went off during the sacrament prayer at church and so we had the rest of the meeting without light. The speakers had to speak as loudly as they could with the microphone and I got a break from playing the piano. So Elder Mendes got up as the last speaker and started talking about faith. During his talk he spoke about how faith and prayer and righteousness work miracles--like making the lights come on. Anyway, so he finished his talk and seriously, the second he said Amen, the power came back on. And I got to play the closing hymn.

I thought it was cool, anyway.

Well, that's all I've got today. Hope you all have a great week!

Sister Brooks

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bryan (future Elder)

It can't be cold, it's Africa!

That's what I say every single day while I'm freezing in the wind!! Goodness! It's been so cold. And I'm too 'dju' (cheap) to actually go out and buy a jacket--plus, I've just been so sure that any day now it's going to be extremely hot again.

Anyway, hope everyone is doing super well. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, tomorrow, DAD!! Hopefully my card gets to you eventually.

Let's see...we went to Mindelo this week for a training. (They called us Wednesday morning, told us we had a flight Wednesday afternoon--goodbye to all of our appointments Wednesday and Thursday. We even missed an appointment with Rolando. And guess what! We haven't seen him since we left! He didn't come to church and we haven't been able to find him at home.)

But the training itself was pretty awesome. We watched 17 Miracles. Did you guys see that? The one about the Willie Martin Handcart Company. I realize I haven't seen a real movie in 15 months, but I thought it was great. I realized just how weird I've become. Every one of us was so absorbed in it. Haha. Anyway, sorry, but I guess I still like movies. (I'm on a mission, I'm not dead!)

Um...yes, the training was very good. At least a good reminder of the fact that I'll need another thousand missions to become the missionary I want to be.

Mindelo was freezing. It was so very windy. And we had to wake up at 4:30 because they told us to be at the airport at 5. Well, turns out the airport doesn't open (I know, right) until six. So we sat on the ground and shivered for an hour. Haha. Like I said, it can't be cold, it's Africa.

I tried my first sugar cane this week. It's good. Because it's sugar.

We, as always, passed by Soraia's throughout the week and Emily showed us her new skirt--actually she had just found an old piece of a denim pant leg and she's so skinny she had both her legs in it and was shuffling around like that. (I'm not sure if you can really picture it, but it was funny. I wish I'd gotten it on camera.)

Anyway, it was kind of a weird week since we spent so much time in Mindelo, but next week should be good. If we find Rolando, it would be even better.

Today we hiked up to this view point and we could literally, almost see the whole island. Sal is so small!!

Love you all,
Sister Brooks

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Don't Run with Scissors...or Knives

Hey Family. How's it going?

So this week was cool. Florindo and Betinho got baptized. Florindo's been ready for about...forever to be baptized, but he wanted to wait for his brother to get home from his mission. And he got home on Wednesday! So Florindo got baptized on Saturday. And Betinho wanted to get baptized on the same day and he turned eight in December (his mom's a member) so it worked out great. I love them both. Betinho's tiny for an eight year old, and he's so cute! Goodness. Somehow his suit was even tinier than him and it looked really funny, but not as funny as Florindo--they didn't have two kid suits so he had to be baptized in his brother's white shirt and pants. Haha. They were enormous on him. Oh man, I really like those kids. Anyway, so it was a really good day on Saturday and the water was freezing and neither Florindo nor Betinho wanted to be the first one into the font.

It was really fun to see Florindo's brother baptize them (he's Betinho's uncle as well) since we don't get to see that all that much. It's really awesome to have a priesthood holder in the family who can perform the ordinances for his family. And it's great for the branch, too. He hasn't been home a week and he's already got a calling in the Elders Quorum presidency. Oh man. And it just makes it even better that it's Cisa's son. She was SO happy to have him home. Every time we went over there she told us how happy she was.

She also asked us if we thought her son is 'bonito.'

As a missionary, I could not answer.

Speaking of Cisa and the family, we were over there one night after Florindo's lesson and everyone was still pretty excited about the son's homecoming. The kids were looking through the souvenirs he brought from Mozambique and everything. Well, Joao must have gotten bored of that and got his hands on a couple of kitchen knives...and then preceded to running wildly around the house. Goodness. I love that kid. He's absolutely out of control, but he has learned that he can sort of hide behind me when his parents are upset with him. Not that I want to be dragged into it, but Joao's always going to the Sisters for help.

It was Bryan's birthday!! Oh he's so adorable. They invited us over for cake and some other snacks and they were blasting some music that I wouldn't have chosen for a two-year-old's birthday party. But he's so cute. I'm pretty sure he didn't realize it was his birthday, but he seemed to be having a good time.

We started teaching a man named Rolando this week. He's kind of amazing. We've taught him twice--just twice--and that's how many times he's been to church. Thank you Lucas. A referral from Lucas is about the best thing a missionary can have. We have some really great recent converts in the branch And now they're all worthy priesthood holders with callings! Woohoo. It's exactly what the branch needs. Oh, but Rolando. I don't know. He came to church with Lucas and then we taught him and he said he was going to keep going to church. And when we invited him to be baptized he answered with such a positive, confident yes (Sim.) that I almost didn't know what to say. Man. It was one of the lessons in which I've felt the Spirit the strongest. And it's funny, because after I had taught my part I was thinking that I'd taught so terribly and hadn't explained clearly at all, but it still worked out great. It's probably because of Sister Dee...

Whom everyone seems to want to know about. Well, she's from Layton. She's pretty awesome. I'm serious. I was completely without confidence my first few transfers, but she does not have a problem. She's teaches her part of the lesson and she teaches well. The language will come quickly for her since she's not afraid to talk.

Basically, we're extremely different. But we both like popcorn. So that's good common ground.

But President did tell me that she is bright and cheerful (very true) and then he said...like you, Sister Brooks! Oh, President. You haven't spent nearly enough time around me. Actually, Elder Mendes says we balance each other out. Because I'm very quiet, boring and...descontra (relaxed-ish) and she's...not. Haha. Oh man. The mission is great.

Yuppers, that's about it. Sorry, I was unsuccessful with pictures. The computer is just too slow. Which is kind of a shame, but you'll see the baptism and birthday party next week. Oh, and we saw the 'Ancient Port' in Santa Maria. Apparently it's been around since 1600. Cool. It now serves as a nice landmark for the tourists to look at while they sunbathe on the beach. Whoopee.

Okay, love you lots. Until next week.

-Sister Emma Jean Dot Brooks

I Forgot!!

You'll never guess who's Elder Mendes' new mini missionary companion! Nene!! From Praia. I was at his baptism almost a year ago!!

I realize it means less to you, but it's awesome. He and Mane both got their mission calls to Mozambique and they go in on the same day!! I was super surprised and excited when I saw him. Okay, that's all.

-Sister Brooks

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ana and Emily

Emma especially likes Dill


Hello! Well, the week was sort of...nutty. Yeah, that's probably a good word for it.

Well, we thought Sister Vicente would leave today at transfers, but they called us on Wednesday to give us the time of her Thursday flight time. Not going to lie, it was sort of like being slapped in the face and then shoved to the ground, but, hey, that's (mission) life.

Everyone was SO sad to see Sister Vicente go. Me too. We had a little bit of time to go see a few people before her flight left and everyone bawled! Haha. It was a good thing Eduardo was in school--he's in love with Sister Vicente. On Saturday we found him sleeping with a note that Sister Vicente had written him in his hand. The poor little guy. Oh man. It was lucky though that we had a family night with Soraia and the whole family on Monday before Sister Vicente left, though. That was super fun. Soraia made a ton of food again and everyone had a good time. (Even though we played this horrible game where someone gets on their hands and knees, pretends to be a cat, and everyone else has to tell them to go away without smiling or laughing. Goodness. Horrible.)

But, after waving Sister Vicente off at the (only) departure gate, I walked a couple yards down the hall and welcomed my new companion Sister Dee from the arrival gate!! She and one other sister and an elder got to Praia on Wednesday, and she got shipped off to the middle of nowhere the next day. To me!

I'll be honest. Training is about 300 times harder than I thought it would be. But she's way better than I was when I got here. She’s way more confident than I was. Which makes it a whole lot easier for me. But it's good to remember the things that I didn't have a clue about when I started out and try and make the whole adjustment easier for her. She's already gotten her first Sunday, her first branch counsel and now her first p-day in Cape Verde! If I could, I'd love to show her around Sucupira, but I don't think President would approve a flight to Praia for us. So we're just going to do the least boring things possible here in Sal. :)

Her first lesson was with Soraia and the whole family. You've got to remember there's four kids under the age of ten and they're all super crazy and super loud and the rest of them are just as crazy, but louder! But like I said, she's way better off than I was. And everyone loved her instantly (thank you Cabo Verdians!!).

The best part, however, was that during the lesson, a neighbor came in to have Ana (the grandma) administer his insulin (?) shot. Haha. Oh man. Welcome to Africa. And then Ana had this little plastic sucker stick and she was pretending to give the little girls shots on their...behinds. That seemed to be a generally recognized and dreaded thing for all of them. Oh. I love that family.

I mentioned Sister Dee's first branch counsel because it was kind of incredible--as in, honestly unbelievable. Almost everyone showed up (on time!!) and we spent over an hour talking about the recent converts and less actives and assigning each organization a responsibility.

I just sat there with my mouth open.

I'm just praying that everyone will do what they said they will and that it will last for more than a week. It was really so good.

All righty, love you all lots. Hope things are well. The Cul-de-Sac comic was my favorite thing ever. With the companionship-switch, we still have lots of new people to find this week.

I miss you lots, but not enough to want to come home...ever. :)


Sister Brooks

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sand Castle

After Christmas


Holiday or something yesterday, so it made doing our errands about 10 times more difficult and we weren't able to use the internet yesterday, so...surprise!

Well, I'm glad the week after Christmas went well. It's a shame not to be with my own nieces and nephews, but at least I have my little substitutes here [obviously not as sweet or cute, but they do their best. :) ] We had a good week, not exactly super productive as far as the work goes; If there's one thing every Caboverdian loves, it's a party. Pretty much everyone was eager to let us in to visit or eat, but it was harder than usual to squeeze in a prayer and a lesson.

This week the branch had a huge New Year's Eve (Eve) party on the 30th. (Of course when we try to organize a big Christmas activity, no one helps, but the party we can't even go to people go all out for...) But Sister Vicente and I stopped by to teach someone in Soraia's house and everyone was putting together pizzas, russois, and other delicious things that I can't remember the names of and we got pulled into the work. People are still surprised when an American knows how to knead pizza dough, but that's all right. I saw how they make their pizzas--which are delicious and we wrote down the recipe and made it on New Year’s when we were trapped inside the house to safely avoid all the drunken partying. :)

Anyway, but it's something I really enjoy when we're able to serve the members or the branch and Soraia was super stressed so it was good to be able to help. And it's always fun to be part of some productive chaos with several dogs and many children constantly underfoot—literally. Their poor little puppy must have gotten stepped on by everyone at least twice.

We helped them transport the trays and trays of food to the church where we found the entire relief society making more food there and we had a good forty-five minutes to help/steal food before we had to be home for the night.

But seriously, the pizza is really good. (And it was about the first day I was able to eat real food since Christmas...so I especially enjoyed it. Haha. Hey, the Lamanites fight like dragons.)

Oh, and we also went to Sao Vicente on Monday. The training was great and, as always, I left feeling like the world's worst missionary but with lots of new goals and help to improve. President gave us all a copy of Elder Bednar's talk to new mission presidents about being a 'Preach My Gospel Missionary.' I honestly need at least one more mission to put all the great things we learned into practice.

But everyone was still in the Christmas mood and Sister Oliveira brought us all presents (popcorn balls, cookies and a bracelet--the bracelets just for the sisters).

Well, things are going well here. We're going to be doing a lot of contacting this week because the holidays seem to have drained quite a few of our investigators, but hey, there's nothing I like better than talking to strangers! Actually, I am kind of looking forward to it. The area is full of little neighborhoods that I haven't even seen yet! It'll be a good week.

Anyway, I love you all lots, tell the kiddos not to stop doing cute things before I get home! And maybe you could send Lucas over for a visit. He'd find lots of great things to put in his mouth here...

Be good everyone! :)

Love (and Geronimo!),
Sister Brooks