Monday, February 24, 2014

`Já viste Americanos dançar? São fubecas.´ -Nelma

Oh my HAPPINESS. I must have said 3 million times this week how grateful I am to Sister Blanco. This place is perfect. She is perfect. We work perfectly together. We are both just on cloud 9. We are a little scared, because it seems too good to be true ya know? Almost too comfortable, but I like to think the Lord is giving us both a little reward. I wish I could put into words how happy I feel, but there just aren´t words to describe it. It´s like an answer from the Holy Ghost, hahah. But literally, I had been praying to have a companion that we could be really good friends and work really hard together at the same time, and she is the answer to my prayers. She is so incredible, and I love the way we teach together. And I feel like I can be bold by her side and I know she knows what she is doing, and we just never have to worry about one another, and we can just rely on the spirit and teach by the spirit, and it is the most incredible feeling. Ohhhh, being a missionary is sooo good. I am so happy. God is so good.

This week, we woke up every morning, ran to the beach in time to climb up on this rock and watch the sun rise over the water, run back home, and then start our day. Oh, my heart can´t even explain the happiness I feel. Just writing it makes me excited for 7 oclock tomorrow morning. I am living the dream.

I literally love this place so much. I was thinking this week, I can´t believe I have only been here for a week. Normally, when I get to an area, it takes me a while to love the area and the people and to figure it all out, but this area is just...SO easy to love. I love the people. I love the branch. I love our investigators. I love the area. I just...Iove it all so much. I don´t know how, but I just feel like I am supposed to be here. Like this is really what the Lord wants for me right now. I feel like I am where I am supposed to be and that the people here are here to help me and so I can help them.

Also, the spirit in our house is perfect. It´s just us two, which I havent lived in a house like that since Sister Barlow, and it is just so incredible. The spirit is so strong, and I just feel so safe and so much love and we just talk about all the really spiritual profound things during our companionship studies and I am learning sooo much from her, and it makes me so excited to create a home one day where the Spirit can dwell like it does here. I also think it helps that its this cute little beach apartment, buttt...thats besides the point.

We are teaching this man named Prince who we found like the first day I got here, and he is so amazing. He is from India, but he works here and we are teaching him in English, which is soo difficult for me, because I havent done that since Diogo. But it is a good challenge, and I love listening to Sister Blanco speak in English. Also, he is Hindu so teaching him is like teaching from nothing. I have never had to teach someone who doesnt know what a prophet is or why Jesus was killed or what the ressurection is. Literally, it is so mind opening and exciting, because it gives me so much to study and it helps me learn even more. But, at the end of our lesson this week, he repeated the prayer and then looked up and said, ´I think this is good. ...I think this is going to be good for my life.` And I just got so excited and I was like YEAH it is! It´s the BEST thing for your life! And then I just started going off about how good it is and I was just so excited, and I thought....hahaha if I was always teaching in English, people would think I am insaneee.

This week, I have been studying a lot about invites and promised blessings. Literally, everything starts with the invite. You invite someone to do something that helps them make their life more in tune with Heavenly Father´s teachings, which brings them to repentance, which makes them ready to continue to change and desire a remission of their sins, which prepares them for baptism, which opens up the door to the kingdom of God and eternal life. So, basically invites=eternal life. And then, I have been studying each of the commandments/anything that the Lord has asked us to do, and then the promised blessings that go along with it, and literally anything that anyone could ever want---peace, love, happiness in the family, spiritual and material blessings, power and authority, the companionship of the holy ghost, eternal life---every blessing that we receive is a direct reflection of our obedience to those commandments. And oh my goodness, prayer is like the most amazing commandment, with soo many blessings. Also, it is so powerful to promise specific blessings to these people that the Lord has promised us in the scriptures. Oh, it just makes me so much more excited to live the gospel. Because it really is so good and so perfect. And it really does bring the greatest happiness in this life and the life to come. I know it. I know it.

I LOVE YOU ALL SOO MUCH!!! I know Heavenly Father is watching over and protecting you all, because I feel it each time I pray for you and it just makes me the happiest. I am SOOO happy to be here and I am so happy to be a missionary and to share the good news of the gospel all day long and help bring others unto Christ. But I am also so happy knowing how blessed I am back home too and that you all get to share in my blessings. You are all incredible and my inspiration. I love you I love you I love you.

Sister Brooks

DADDY!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I hope it is the greatest day filled with lots of sunshine and golfing and mom tending to your every need :) I love you so much and I could not be more grateful that you are my dad. Thank you for being my perfect example. I lovee you!!!
SHANNAYNAY!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! I love you so much sister, and I hope your day is so special and filled with lots of love in the form of cookies and diet coke and pool time.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Pai Celestial loves me.

Porque.....I spent Valentine´s Day traveling 8 hours from Porto to Lagos. Yup. God is sooooo good. And He really does answer prayers!! Im in the Algarve. Im in the lowest part in Portugal. The sun is shining. The beach is beautiful. I'm not wearing a jacket. I literally feel like I am in paradise. I have never been happier. I actually can't stop saying that. When we were walking around on the beach today, I kept putting my hand over my heart, because I just felt like it was going to explode with so much happiness. The beach really is my home. Oh, I am sooo happy.

So...Thursday night, President called me and said he was moving my transfer up two weeks and that I would be leaving the next morning to go to the Algarve and serve with Sister Blanco. You guys dont know this, but this is actually my dream come true. Sister Blanco is Brazilian and the most loving, sweet, incredible missionary I have ever met. She is literally the absolute sweetest and most patient and funny and spiritual and normal and just everything I could ever want to be. We've talked a lot about how missionary work is really just about loving everyone as Jesus would, and ohhh my, does she have a heart full of love. I am sooo excited to be here and to work with her and to just thrive. Also, I don't even have to explain why Lagos is my dream come true.

Lagos is a ramo...branch, and I have never had the opportunity to work in a branch in my mission, so I am soo excited to be here. Oh the members here are incredible. They do soo much. They are so strong. It really is so amazing to me. There is this lady, Nelma, that makes us lunch and dinner every day. Considering I have never really taken dinner in my mission, its a bit different, but Im happy about it. She is incredble. She is actually a little crazy, but she is hilarious and she makes me happy and makes me feel loved and we all know how much I need that. Also, we have a missionary couple that is serving here as branch president, so that will really make a big difference and be a huge help too. Oh, I am just so excited to feel good again and be working in the beautiful area with these beautiful people.

Also, our ward mission leader is this absolutely adorable girl that is the Portuguese version of Sarah Darby and I am obsessed with her. Slash sooo excited to have a lider de obra missionaria again. So sooo happy.

The work here is actually incredible. Maybe it is just because my comp is so incredible. But we are working with so many people and so many families. And Sister Blanco is reallyyy amazing with seeing people as how they can become. Literally, she is so inspirational to me.

Also, the funniest thing happened in Porto this week. We were teaching this lady and she calls us ´Elderzinhas.´ Ohhh I die. Little Elder girls. Maybe it isnt as funny to you, but I was dying laughing. She goes on and on and on about how we are all little photocopies of one another and all the Elders are ´giro´ and I am just dyinggg laughing. Thennn she told us how she watched a documentary and totally believes in meremaids, but not Adam and Eve. So...ahahah. She is incredible though and I just know her and her family will accept the gospel and be so blessed.

It was so hard for me to leave Porto and all the people I had grown to love there over the last 6 months, but I am sooooo happy to be here in Lagos. I am so happy to be able to wake up every day and run on the beach and just to walk around in the sunshine all day. Also, there is soo much work to be done here and so much culture and life and I just...I feel rejuvinated and so happy and sooo ready to work. This gospel is so good. And maybe I do like it even better when I get to tell people about it and see the ocean in the background. God really is so good. And I know He blesses us de acordo com nosso necessidades. He knows up better than we know ourselves and He really does give us mountains to climb, but He also wants us to enjoy the view. Oh, I am sooo Miley Cyrus right now. But that was what our sacrament meeting was all about yesterday, and also, Im kinda obsessed with that Efy song now (because I'm a missionary... I knowww), and it just really is true. The Lord needs us to grow and become better and stronger and become who He has prepared us to be. Oh, I am so grateful for the mountains He gives us, but I am also so grateful He gives us rest spots along the way, and mine just happens to be here in Lagos :)

I love you all soooooo much. You have my whole heart. I hope you are all as happy as I am, because the whole world deserves to be this happy. I love you I love you I love you.

Sister Brooks

KC--- HAPPY BIRTHDAY AND HAPPY BAPTISM!!!! I AM SOOO EXCITED FOR YOU!!! This is the very best decision you could make and I hope it is just the absolute happiest day. I wish I could be there soo badly, but know that I am there in spirit and that it´s really just about you and Heavenly Father anyways. I love you my beautiful little princess.


Monday, February 10, 2014

I'm never going to be warm again.

Literally. I think I say it every winter, but I really do feel it right now. Are you guys sick of hearing me complain about the cold yet? #sorrynotsorry Yesterday, we were standing at the bus stop waiting to go to church, and I thought to myself, ´Ya know, the church must be true, because i have been standing outside in the rain and the cold EVERY DAY for the last 5 months and just....I just...thats reason enough.´ But literally, I dont even know how I do it. It´s true. It´s gotta be true. Also, it has been hailing like crazy here, so that makes it kinda funny and kind of awful at the same time. Mostly I just laugh, and then Im like ´How is this real life?´ And then we get home at night and it starts hailing in the middle of the night and wakes us all up and then we all just go, ´ least we´re inside.´ But, raining ice is better than raining water in my opinion--1. because we all know i really like ice. and 2. because i dont get as wet, even if the ground does. 

Speaking of iceeeee. Sister Prieto loves ice and buys these little formas de gelo all the time so we are always eating ice together. WELL, the other day she has the most brilliant idea to put diet coke in the little formas instead of water. and ohhh myyy, diet coke ice is actually the best thing ever, because it loses the gas and then the ice becomes all soft and hollow and literally SO good. yes im losing my mind. i know. BUT go buy yourselfs a little ice cube tray and fill it will diet coke just to see how good it is. And then.. just go get a DC from sonic, because its way easier. (And then I spent a whole paragraph writing about Diet Coke ice---yeah......its the little things here in Porto.) 

Also, I think I was really missing you this week Dad, because I spent all week changing the words to hymns. Including my personal favorite, Joseph Smith´s First Prayer `Oh what marvilous miracle it was... when I found more Diet Coke...` Actually, I did it in Portuguese, so it worked better, but hahahh. Anyways, Dad---your talent is not lost on me. And Kristan--just giggle away.

Manuel walked in the rain and hail for an hour yesterday to get to church!! Ahh!! He is literally the most positive and elect Portuguese person I have ever met. We were teaching him this week and we were talking about the word of wisdom, and he was like, ´Yeah, I tried coffee once back in the day, but then I felt the effect it was having on my body, and I decided I would never drink it again.´ Oh...I love that homenzinho. And he said he thinks he´ll be ready to be baptized here in a week or two, so fingers crossed and lots of prayers and i know he will be ready. I know it, I know it.

Feliz dia dos nomorados!!! ou seja, day of the boyfriends. orrrr valentines day!! Yeah, they took that translation and made it into exactly what is is. ohh soo funny. I hope you all spend it happy with the one you love ;) Ill be walking alongside my comp so....yes.

Ahh, I love you all soo so so much. God is SO good. And He loves us so much. Even if he did literally trap me in Porto for all of winter. He is still aware of every one of us and every thing each and every one of us is going through. I was reading in Doctrine and Covenants 19:16-19, and even Jesus Christ didnt reallyy want to make the sacrifice that He knew He had too, but He drank the bitter cup anyways, because He knew it was the will of the Father. Sometimes, even when things are reallyyy hard, and we reallyyy dont want to do it, we just gotta put a smile on and do it, because we know it is what God needs us to do and it will benefit the lives of so many others. Thank you for being my perfect examples and apoio and comfort and happiness. 

I LOVE YOU SO SO MUCH. be my valentines?

Sister Brooks

KATE HANSEN YOU ARE IN THE FREAKING OLYMPICS!!! probably racing as I am typing this. Remember when i said 4 years ago that I would go to russia if you made the olympics? Well....sorry for that change in game plan, but I am there in my heart and I am praying for you. Literally NOT. REAL. LIFE. Butttt, You are so incredible and I am soooo proud of you!! Kill it. Sochi´s got nothing on you. 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANNALISE!!!! ahhh I miss you so and I love you oh so so very much and I hope it is the best birthday and that you are so very happy!! I love you my beautiful best friend!! rained ice cubes. or balls actually.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Groundhog's Day

Okay, first and foremost. I hope everyone had a wonderful Groundhog´s day and that you all got to celebrate my favorite holiday with sunshine and the little groundhog saying spring was coming six weeks early. I tried to explan to Sister Prieto what is groundhog´s day, but she didnt really get it, and it ended with me basically saying, ´It´s basically this big rat that lives in the ground and comes out and if it has a shadow....or not really sure which, it means spring is coming! long pause.....I just really like the sun okay?`

I mean, I could totally do without the CONSTANT rain and freezing weather and lack of sunshine, but I really love Porto, this ward and our members. Our area presidency talked at stake conference this week and so did M. Russell Ballard, and I got SO excited for General Conference. Also, he talked about the basic things that we need to do everyday so that we can just keep going and learning and receiving revelation and being worthy of the Spirit. Oh, they really are so basic, but sooo important. And when you stop doing one, you stop doing the next and then before you know it, you stop doing everything all together, so I hope you are all doing your family home evening and reading your scriptures and saying your prayers. Also, go to the temple for me.


Sister Brooks