Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Black Sand

Claudia's baptism

Little America

Bom Dia, Familia!

Okay. So this week was pretty full. We had zone conference on Tuesday. (And I didn't have to take a plane to get there!) It was super good; we did get like an hour lecture on health and hygiene because some Elder got hepatitis or something...not really sure how you get that...but it almost made me decide to stop eating things off the side of the road. Almost.

Tuesday also happened to be Carnival. And Wednesday, and Sunday and probably the whole week somewhere in the world. Which means we had a grand total of zero lessons on Tuesday because everyone was off doing something that requires some form of repentance.

We did get to see a couple Carnival parades since they passed right in front of our house. It was actually pretty cool. The first was a children's parade and they had a dance they had practiced and they were all dressed up so it was cute. (It's kind of like Halloween.) The store underneath us threw them a bag of candy. How nice.

Then the next parade came, which was not really cute because it was just a bunch of grown men and women, mostly drunk. The store underneath us gave them a large bottle of alcohol. And cups. Cheers.

So, Carnival was super exciting. No one was home to talk to us, but luckily by Thursday things were pretty much back to normal. And the week ended really well with Claudia's baptism and a full sacrament meeting--we had to bring in more chairs.

I don't think I even told you about Claudia last week. Probably because we taught her for the first time on Tuesday. Welcome to Fogo. She's ten and her dad's less active but her uncle is in the branch presidency. She's been coming to church forever, but her mom's 'Catholic' and wasn't too excited about her being baptized. Well, we had a couple of really good lessons with Claudia and her mom and then we slyly pulled out her baptismal ficha and her mom signed it willingly. Claudia's super funny and really smart. The first thing she said to us is that people cannot be too lazy to go to church. Church is important and we can't miss a single week. I think we're going to start sending her to all the less-actives' homes. :)

The cool thing about Claudia is that our investigator who was supposed to be baptized fell through and our district leader told us we should do whatever we could to meet the goal we had made--President is always emphasizing that the goals we make our really covenants with the Lord. So we prayed and prayed and the one day, knocking on doors we found Claudia's mom. She told us that the missionaries used to come by all the time and her daughter really liked church and wanted to be baptized.

Haha. There have been many times this week when Sister Laimana and I walk away from a lesson or a contact and I ask her if we've been more righteous lately because awesome things keep happening.

Nelson, for example. We met Nelson earlier this week. Used to come to church all the time but then worked a couple Sundays and the Elders in the area were transferred and he fell through the cracks. Well, he's completely prepared, came to church without a fuss yesterday and is going to be baptized this week.

Patrick--yes, the very same Patrick we accidently pulled out of school. Every time he saw us after that he came to say hi. Turns out he's a member's nephew and he came to church all by himself yesterday. We're teaching him and his cousin and they're so cute. Their aunts are recent converts and super sweet. They love the sisters.

So, here's a bit about Fogo. The volcano is supposedly active...I don't really know how that works. The other day the Elders called us to ask if we'd felt the earthquake that happened, but that was the day we were teaching Ja about the word of wisdom, so either we missed it or it wasn't too big. It's heating up fast and the hill seems to be getting steeper each day as well.

Oh, and our house has a water heater. That's right. Except the first week it was broken. Then it started working and I think I got two warm showers and then the landlord came up to tell us they're doing repairs so we could use that bathroom (we have a sort of another half bathroom but it's just where the washing machine is) so that put my hot showers to an end. But I think we'll be able to start using it again.

And Fogo is little America. So many people have family in Boston that you can find tons of American stuff. Last week I had Starbursts and...wait for it...MANDARIN ORANGES. It was like Christmas. They're still so good. Also, I saw a guy pay with dollars and they were accepted. Very weird.

We're totally spoiled here. You get the fresh bread and fruits outside your house every day and American products (if you know where to look).

Anyway, the work is going well. They want to create a third branch here in Sao Filipe in a few months, so we have a lot of work to do.

Love you all lots!

-Sister Brooks

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Up and Down

Disclaimer: I had a whole list of things to write about (from this week and last) but I left my planner at home. Oops. And I've been a missionary way too long to live without my planner. So hopefully I can remember most of the things.

It sounds like there were some fun Valentine's activities. We were quite uncreative, but we did help a member make a giant batch of ice cream for the young single adults Valentine's Day party. (We also had to go buy her a new gas tank which she didn't think we would be able to carry, but Sister Laimana and I are buff.)

Okay, so I don't remember what I wrote last week, but I know it wasn't much. So I took off from Sal on Monday and we had a layover in Praia. So the Elders picked me and Elder Brandao from the airport and me and about ten elders piled into the Hiace (good ol' Hiace) and we went to....SEGUNDA'S!!! That's right. I had a delicious bife de vaca and Fanta laranja during my layover. I'm pretty sure Segunda missed me. And apparently she's being taught by the Elders and came to church!!

Then we stopped by the office (talk about blast from the past) and the assistants had to make a last minute flight and guess who still remembers TACV's phone number? And guess who they made make the reservation? Goodness. Haha.

Anyway, then off to Fogo and I met up with Sister Laimana. Sister Beus and Sister Chidester are also serving in Fogo, but down below in Sao Filipe and we live in the same house. I'm not sure why I'm surprised that I got put into another house with four sisters. Haha. But they're cool.

Um...the week was great. Every house in Fogo has a member--active, inactive, excommunicated, who knows--but remarkable, I'm pretty sure every house also has someone who's completely prepared to accept the gospel. Fogo is tiny and there's a companionship of Elders with whom we share our area, so we see them all the time and we have to make sure we don't teach the same people. The other day the Elders told us they had seen one of our investigators and marked a date of baptism with him. Haha. Look at us, working together.

The funny thing is that my 'nightmare' is realized about twelve times a day. There are so many less actives. After we ask people in contacts if they talked to the missionaries before we also ask them if they've been baptized. And seriously, 25% of the time the answer is yes. Ha.

But I love it. It’s small, but way more populated and busy than Sal--though still a whole lot more calm than Praia. Sister Vicente/Samila is in my branch and I've gotten to teach with her and meet her family. Awesome. There are a lot of other people who I already love as well. Lu is a young woman who helps us teach a lot and she's crazy, but an awesome missionary. She's also teaching everyone that my name is Sister Blooks.

We only had about two investigators at the beginning of the week. One is in Praia getting her jaw unwired shut (seriously) and the other got baptized on Saturday. Bruno is amazing. Sister Laimana said that he'd been taught by Elders in the past (like everyone) and he got an answer and then just progressed like crazy. He accepted every commandment because he knew he needed to be baptized. He's awesome. Apparently he's one of the best soccer player's in Fogo and he has a pretty awesome mohawk.

There's also a recent convert named Betinho who had kind of the same story. He got an answer after dozens of missionaries had taught him, stopped drinking and the sisters baptized him a couple weeks ago. He's in a wheelchair and we go with him to church in a taxi. He said he could push himself up and down the hill but his old wheelchair wouldn't make it.

Speaking of hills, that's what Fogo is. It's just one big volcano and you're either hiking up it or hiking down it. Everyone told me that but I didn't really believe it. It's true. The church is at the very top and our house is at the very bottom. We spend our days going up and down between the two and if you forget anything it's generally not worth the time it will take to go down and up again. Haha.

Also, the accent here is nuts. It's almost like the equivalent of a Southern accent. Samila had already told me that Fogo krioulu sounds like singing, but they also seem to have almost an American accent. It's odd. Instead of felicidade being felici-dAWd, it's more like felici-DADdy. I like it a lot.

I also don't need a jacket anymore because it's hot. We'll get a good heat wave before we go home.

We taught the young women how to make lemon squares--FoodNetwork style--on Saturday. They had fun doing it, but when we (magically) pulled out the finished product for them to taste their faces were priceless. Apparently lemon squares are an American taste. Gosh. We just stood there and watched as they nibbled and poked at it. Sister Laimana swore to never teach them anything again. Haha. But we took the other pan to our after baptism party and the people there liked it. (Plus we told Samila that she had to tell everyone it was the best thing she'd ever eaten and I think that helped.)

I can't think of anything else. I'm missing my Sal friends, but Cabo Verde is pretty much full of amazing people which ever island you're on, so it'll just multiply the pain when I have to leave all of them.

Our fun story for the week--well there's quite a few--Sister Laimana and I seem to attract journal moments. We started teaching this boy named Helio. His friend who gave us the reference told us he robs people. We thought it was pretty funny, but one night we went to pass by his house, walked up and saw him talking with a couple other young men on the dark street and Lu was like, 'Let's get out of here.' So we just walked away. Haha. Then we came back to the same area a little bit later and there were about four guys positioned on each corner of this little block. Of course we're both paranoid after what happened in Praia so we chose another street to take (even though the first kid, with a bandana over his face, told us, 'Nhos podi passa dexcontra.' You can go by without worrying--since we're Sisters). Then Sunday night, we were by Samila's house in the same area and her mom told us not to go that way because there were some gang fights going on. Haha. It's just because of carnival. All the police are down regulating that and so the grupos go a little nuts. But Fogo is super safe.

But the people LOVE Americans. Especially two American girls walking around. I really hope people on BYU campus are going to tell me that I'm very beautiful and that they love me so much every day.

Okay. That's all I've got. Hopefully I didn't miss too much. Love you all! I'll try and send pictures next week. Fogo is awesome. The beaches have perfectly black sand. It's cool.

Okay, love you lots,

Sister Brooks

I forgot another great story! We went to a member Patrick's house. He's nineteen or so and we were going to ask him for references. Well he wasn't home and so we went up to a little group of kids playing soccer and asked them if they knew where he was (that works in Cabo Verde). One of them jumped up and said he knew where Patrick was and ran into a school next door. Sister Laimana asked if it was the high school...nope. The boy came out with another little boy...named Patrick. We invited him to come to church. Then ran away before any teacher asked why we were pulling kids out of school to hear the gospel. Haha.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Well, hello there!

So...I guess you might have guessed that the reason I didn't write yesterday was because I was a little bit busy...being transferred!

To be honest, it took me by surprise. I was very much planning on dying here in Sal. But I can't really complain because...

I'm serving in Fogo!! Fonte Aleixo with...SISTER LAIMANA! Can you believe it? Hopefully she's not lying when she says she likes me, because this makes the third time we've served together. But, this will be the first time as real missionaries (the MTC and the Office are awesome, but not quite as awesome as full-time field service).

All right, so those are the biggies. Fogo; Sister Laimana. Now, onto the details:

It more or less broke my heart leaving Sal. I hadn't really realized just how attached I was to everyone. But it was a mercifully short good-bye. I didn't have any idea I was leaving until Sunday night and then they didn't tell me my flight plans until two hours before I had to be in the airport. But I did get to say bye to almost everyone. Only a few tears.

Okay. I'm just going to take a break here--the internet lady is kicking us out--but I wanted to send this so you know I didn't run off to spend the weekend at Santa Maria. :)

I love you all and I'll try to find another internet place, but if not, I'll talk to you next week!

Sister Brooks

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sister Dee and Me

The Missionary's Worst Nightmare

Hello! Well, I hope the first week of February went well for everyone. I can't decide if January went quickly or took forever. Everyone told me January lasts a long time because you spend all your money in December and you have nothing to do or eat in January. Ha. I think we, as missionaries, stayed the famine pretty well, but it was quite a cold month. And apparently February won't be much warmer. Haha. Oh well. Looks like I'll continue to regret leaving my cardigan in Praia. :)

Okilidokilee. (Um...I don't think Ned Flanders would have spelled it like that, but that's as close as I'm going to get.)

This week, I learned a great new word (relearned) that I may have already shared with you, but since we seem to have been spending lots of time around little Joao, it seemed quite a fitting description of the week:

Bagunca (the c has a tail) - baw-goon-suh - it basically means disorder...haha. I don't actually know. But if someone's making a 'bagunca' they are either running around in only their underpants, messing up the house, or just going a little bit nuts. Bagunca; noun. Take that Webster's.

All right, in other news, we taught the first lesson in...English!! To a Chinese man. It was absolutely...horrible. Haha. Sister Dee started out and then I began my half way through and couldn't think of the English word for 'igreja' (just kidding...almost). Anyway, so I just turned to Sister Dee and she took over. I'm pretty sure Fong's English was about as good as mine (not good), so he probably didn't understand any of it, but it was a fun experience. (Kudos to all you English speakin' missionaries.) And, it was kind of cool because a few days before we met a woman named Princess (awesome, right?) and she's from Nigeria so she only spoke English and Nigerianese (yes, I know that's not actually what it's called). Anyway, so we set a time to teach her and I put our only English Restoration pamphlet in my bag but then she never wanted to talk to us again, so...I still had the pamphlet when we met Fong! Cool. Yups. (That reminds me, I need to email the office and ask them to send us a couple copies of the Book of Mormon in Chinese --which I know they have.)

Okay, sent the email. Back to you all. So we met another Nigerian family this week in their restaurant and were introduced to 'fufu.' A very strange, tasteless dough that you dip in spicy fish sauce. It was cheap, but not exactly something I'm planning on trying again. The Elders told us about it and when we walked in and asked if they sold food, they gave us a weird look and asked what kind of food we wanted. We said 'fufu' and everyone in the place started laughing, but then they brought it out. Yeah, so that's our food experience of the week.

We taught quite a few new investigators this week--exploring some new parts of our area. After one long day of knocking on doors, I dreamt that one of the women we had taught, after her long spiel about not belonging to any church but being open to hear from any religion (that really happened), that all of a sudden she told us that she had already been baptized and was just inactive. And I woke up and realized that's the thing I dread most when I do a contact that they're going to tell me they were already baptized and the reason that I've never met them in the four months I've been here is because they've been inactive since the week after their baptism. Argh.

But...we do have a couple good new investigators (I don't like telling you about them because then they tend to disappear off the face of the earth). I've got to tell you about Raquel, though. At the beginning of the transfer we talked to a member in Fogo who knows Raquel and wanted us to go by and get something...blah blah blah...something about young woman's, but then we met her and started teaching her and found out that she's living with a less-active, her dad's an active member in the US (he was introduced to the church when he visited her several years ago and she had just talked to some Elders). Yeah. Anyway, lots of complications in her life and she knows they're breaking the law of chastity and so now she's looking for a new house and she's SOOO smart and knows tons about the Bible. And she's really nice. Okay, more on Raquel in the weeks to come (I hope).

Oh man, and for the first time in my entire mission, a member gave us a ride to a lesson and then taught with us!! It was so bizarre. And kind of awkward. The Relief Society President (I think the only member with a car) helped us yesterday teach a woman named Teresa and we got to ride in her car. That's it. Cool story, but it was fun. And I got to tell little Bryan that we rode in Lucy's car because every time we see him he tells us that 1) Lucy drove away in her car, 2) Lucy's car is at her house or 3) Lucy didn't give him a ride in her car. Haha. All right.

I think that's it. I feel like a lot more happened this week, but I don't have time to write it. Briefly:

Saw some fire trucks and a big fire out in the desert and the primary kids love us and I'm going to ask our neighbor if I can take Daniel home with me. And his little sister because she's super cute too.

Okay, love you all lots! Tchau!

Sister Brooks