Friday, March 23, 2012

The wedding

Elvis and Zidane (the little ones)


Hey Family!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day. I had to look up the Portuguese word for 'to pinch' again--looked it up last year too. I pinched everyone who wasn't wearing green even though it's not a real holiday here.

Beliscar = to pinch

I guess I'll start with Elvis and Zidane. Elvis is a member's younger brother (I think there are five young men in that family now that are members) and Zidane is the nephew of some recent converts. They're both super funny little guys and it was fun to teach them and see them baptized. We walked down with them to their baptismal interview which was exhausting since they both walk way faster than we do, but they had a good time playing together. Right as we got into the chapel, Elvis tells Zidane: 'Whatever they ask you, just say no.' Sister Laimana and I both looked at each other and kind of started freaking out ('Will you live the Word of Wisdom?' 'No.'). We found out Elvis' brother Alex (who baptized him) had told Elvis that before he came with us. Haha. Don't worry, they both passed.

We also got to help out with the Elders' investigator's wedding. He's been living with a member and a couple months ago they blessed their baby girl in church. Friday, they got married! A little bit out of order, but they're on the right track now. Andrade got baptized on Saturday along with his mom! That was awesome. While the Elders were teaching Andrade here in Sao Filipe, his mother was being taught in Mosteiros and they were both baptized together. His mom is quite elderly with silver gray hair. We talked to her a bit at the wedding and her Creole is awesome. Apparently she's been smoking since she was six years old (she's got to be in her 70's) but she was able to stop and was baptized with her son. It was just a really cool thing.

The wedding was pretty cool as well. They gave us a call that morning and we went over and blew up about a million balloons, attempted to make a big balloon arch and then peeled a fifty pound bag of potatoes. We missed the actually wedding, stayed behind to finish with the preparations, but we still got to eat and see the bride and groom return. It was fun until the alcohol came out (it's not a party if you're sober!) and then the missionaries just sort of huddled in a corner, finishing our food and then we left. But apparently after we left, they offered champagne to Andrade and Codei and Andrade shook up the bottle and popped it open so it all got wasted and then they threw away the rest of the alcohol! I can definitely see him as a future bishop once the stake is here in Fogo.

3The whole alcohol thing is a pretty enormous problem here in Fogo (as in all of Cabo Verde), but it's a little bit ridiculous how many members you see drinking on a daily basis. Earlier in the week we found one young man drinking in the neighborhood bar and we talked to him for a minute. It was so sad. It was really hard for me to see. He has a brother on a mission and two other semi active brothers here in Fogo, but he's stuck. We tried to get him to leave, but there wasn't really anything to do.

Friday night though, we found him again, in the same bar and we managed to get another member to take him over to his house away from the bar. I felt really grateful for that member--who recently overcame his alcohol problem--and his willingness to help. It was completely a miracle that we found him. We just happened to cross paths and we asked him if he could watch over his friend for the rest of night and he did. Heavenly Father isn't just leading us to those prepared to hear the gospel, but to all those that need our help and whose help we need.

We also had an investigator in church this week named Neida. We've been working with her for a couple weeks and Sister Laimana and I have just felt really good about her even though up until this week we haven’t really seen her making much progress. But this week she moved to a different house with her sister and it's quite a bit closer to the central concentration of members and we were able to pass by on our way to church and she was there waiting, ready to go with us. She got a good reception and enjoyed it. Later that day as she was talking to us she said that she felt really good and she'd told her sister about church and her sister said she'd like to go as well. We sort of continued with the conversation and then Neida kind of interrupted and said, 'I think this really is a true path.' It was great. We're teaching her sister Joana as well and it was definitely an impression from the Spirit to keep going back to her.

Some funny things: I forgot to tell you a couple weeks ago the Elders baptized identical twins. They're super cute but pretty mischievous--when it came time to confirm them, Elder Go confirmed the first one and then there was a pause and Elder Go called him back and asked him which one he really was. Turns out they had either switched of just gone up in the wrong order. Everyone got a good laugh out of it though. Hopefully it wasn't too irreverent.

Also, we took an apple streusel cake to District Meeting--genius and completely delicious. Sister Laimana and I are really getting the hang of gas stove and oven baking. Well, during district meeting, an extremely large quantity of ants got under the plastic wrap onto one side of the cake.

And we all still ate it.

I'm not sure if that means the cake was really good or we've just been in Africa too long.

Life is good in Cabo Verde. The gospel really does change lives--over and over again if necessary.

Love you all lots,

Sister Brooks

Monday, March 12, 2012

Patrick's baptism

Hey Family!!

Just for the record, this is my third time using the internet. First time, it closed for lunch, second time the lights went out. So, hopefully I'll actually be able to get this sent this time.

Patrick was baptized! Yay. He was super excited. He was baptized with six others--all different ages. A mother and her son, a member's boyfriend :), an older man, a member's brother and...someone else. Not sure. But it was pretty cool. The branch is basically made up of young single adults, but it's nice to see the other people who are being prepared.

On Sunday, after confirmations and the passing of the sacrament, we had a whole ten minutes for the speakers. And we ended on time. That's my kind of Sacrament Meeting. :)

On Saturday, before the baptism, we did splits for a few hours. Saturdays are pretty busy since we have correlation meeting, baptism, integration night, etc. so we decided to go on divisions. I was with Sister Vicente. :) It was super fun and there's nothing better than a companion who teaches like a missionary, acts like a member and knows the whole community like a Caboverdian. I'm going to miss Samila when she leaves for the MTC (which should be this month), but I plan on visiting her (sneakily) at the temple on Sundays.

Also, one more piece of candy and her nephew Rafael is bound to like me. He's super cute and he enjoys dipping his water bottle into the water barrels that they have outside their house for the cows to drink out of....

Building an immunity system of steel.

The week was really good, but it must not have been super eventful. I remember eating coconut bread and cake at District Meeting, having recent convert Valdir ask me if I pluck my eyebrows and running away from a drunken brawl in the street.

That's a good story. We rounded the corner and just turned right around. A couple upset drunk guys were yelling about something unimportant and I'm pretty sure between the bottles smashed on the cobblestone and the stoning going on, one of the guys got his slippers stolen. I don't think anything happened at all, but everyone came out to watch.

One of my favorite members Lu taught us how to make breaded fish this week. I got to pound the garlic.

I'm going to send this now just in case the electricity goes out again.

Love you all lots and lots!

Fica fixe!

-Sister Brooks

Monday, March 5, 2012


Nelson's baptism

Hey, you in the middle...

Hey Family!

I'm not sure what this means, but I'm getting much lazier in writing to you. I love reading your letters, but I get antsy hanging out at the internet place. We just have so much to do! But, I don't want Mom writing President, so I promise to keep writing until I come home. In May...

This week went really well. It's heating up every day. Goodness. And the hill seems to be getting steeper. Did I already tell you that our chapel is at the top of the mountain and our house is at the bottom, but you can actually see the other branch's chapel from our houses' balcony! Sister Laimana and I are learning to apply the 'island walk.' Nice and slow and easy. No need to take the hill at a run. Unless, like us you mark about six appointments within an hour and a half. But, hey, we're in Cabo Verde. What are the odds that people actually remember they marked a lesson with us? (Low.) We tend to overschedule ourselves because that's the only way to avoid doing contacts for half the day after people run away from us. But it was still a really good week.

We had Nelson's baptism. I already told you about him a bit, but he really is a good guy. A couple days before the baptism he explained to us that he was a little worried about talking to his dad about his decision because his parents are pretty Catholic (in theory) but he told us that it didn't matter because he had already chosen his path. He also told us that his boss is a Seventh Day Adventist, but he would still make sure to keep the (real) Sabbath Day holy. He's a good guy. He's going to be a good example for all the wishy-washy, could-be priesthood holders in the branch.

Speaking of wishy-washy, could-be priesthood holders in the branch, Sister Laimana and I decided to start of collection. Of earrings. I don't know how many young men, members, who come to church with earrings in. Or take them out for church and then put them in during the week. So, today, we saw Eddie. He's a pretty good guy, but we stopped and talked to him about his giant diamond earring and finally he's like, 'Okay, if you insist, I'll take it out.' And he did. Then I put it in my bag and we said good-bye and went on our way.

There will be a stake, full of worthy Melchisideque priesthood holders, in Fogo.

I'm not sure if Fogo is the craziest part of Cabo Verde, but we sure seem to have a lot of fun while preaching the gospel. This week while teaching Elvis and his mom, there was another earthquake and this time we felt it! It was about three seconds long and no one really seemed to think anything of it, but for me it was exciting. Maybe I'll get to see the Volcano erupt before coming home!

(We actually did find the museum here in Fogo and got to watch a short video of the volcanic eruption in the 90's. It was pretty cool.)

Let's see...Nelson's baptism was great. We found out about two hours before that Patrick wasn't getting baptized. He told us his mom wanted him to wait until next week. Hopefully he'll still be able to continue talking with us and his mom will let him get baptized. We talked with her a few times and she already gave her written permission, but we didn't want to push it. I'm pretty sure we were able to get her to agree to it because of the service we offered--cracking open about a hundred peanuts. I learned that a peanut has a belly, a head, and a bottom. I'm now a professional peanut opener. This woman opens hundreds of peanuts every day, makes them into a hard sugar candy and then walks around selling them all day. That's how they get their money.

Hmmm...we found a woman named Taissa this week. We were sort of hiking out in the middle of nowhere, getting our feet really dirty and then we stopped to talk to her. Turns out she's friends with about the best people in the branch--one family who's actually been sealed in the temple, another young amazing couple and a very strong recent convert. She lives with her father, taking care of him and her two little kids. She came to church and we're pretty excited about her. There's nothing better than having an investigator with friends.

We continue to be the most popular people in town, and as the hot Sao Filipe sun bleaches my hair I seem to attract more attention. Walking with Lu and Sister Laimana, I'm still very white and after church a guy selling fish yelled over to us 'Hey! That one in the middle, you! I like you.' Aren't I glad I understand Creole these days. Haha. Sister Laimana got a good laugh out of it.

There was a post carnival party on Sunday which kind of wiped out our investigator attendance in Sacrament Meeting, but we had a good day nonetheless.

Today we visited the Fogo salt beds. There's not much in the way of salt, but it's a very, very pretty area. There are these little caves/holes and the waves get into them and it acts like a sort of blow hole. It was awesome. Super windy and we were far enough away from Sao Filipe that it was pretty chilly. Of course as soon as we got back I stepped out of the Hiace and could feel my skin burning. But hey, it's not Africa if it's not hot!

Oh man. I like this place. It's completely out of control and I love it. I hope you're all doing well. I can't remember if there was anything important for me to tell you, so sorry. :) Love you all!

Get better Grandpa! I love you!


Sister Brooks