Monday, April 21, 2014

And then, everything just kept being perfect.

HELLO PEOPLES. loves of my life. my sunshine. my happiness.

I am like on cloud 9056, because I have no idea what I did to deserve this perfection that I am living in, but...I could not be happier!! My companion, Sister Sorenson, is literally an angel from above. We are kind of like the exact same person, except that she just graduated from high school, so sometimes that´s funny and makes me feel old, because I feel like high school was a million years ago, but that´s fine. Literally, we are having so much fun and we work so well together and think so similarly and she is just absolutely perfect. Pray we stay together for the rest of forever. I have honestly never enjoyed just knocking doors so much or working so much, and she is just so perfectly obedient and I just love everything about her. She is so sweet and loving and patient and perfect. She is just what Lagos needs, and I am SO grateful I get to serve with her. Also, I dont think we´ve stopped talking all week long, so...time is flying here, and that terrifies me haha. Moral of the story- I love her, and I love Lagos, and I love being a missionary, and I love this transfer so much already. 

So, Felizmina, our kinda crazy velinha, doesnt really understand everything we say. Well, this week...I REALLY realized how much she doesnt understand everything we say, because we were trying to get her to say a prayer and teaching her how to do it, and so, I was like okay, repeat after me. ´Pai Celestial,´ ´Pai shi les te cha chang?´ Hahahha, Sister Sorenson and I started DYING laughing. It was literally like she started speaking Chinese. Oh, it was the funniest thing and that sweet little old lady, just looked at us like, ´Did I do it right?´ Oh, she is so precious. Who knew I would ever like old people? #saidit

Remember how I told you about Qasim, our internet guy from Pakistan? Well, he came to church again yesterday!! And then afterward, we had this super long incredible lesson with him, and oh my goodness...just I am so mind blown. He´s muslim and knows so much history of the world and he starts like talking about some of the things he thinks are truths that from what he has studied and come up with and it´s actually just super deep doctrine that IS truth! Basically, he is so elect and my mind is just blown, and I am SO grateful that I dont have to know everything and that the Spirit is who testifies of the truth, but I also wish I had paid better attention in our Islam class in Jerusalem....oops. Hahah, but I also am so so grateful I went to Jeru and sometimes I think that maybe thats why I needed to go so that I could help him, or maybe not, but either way, I just love working with him and my love for the middle east and the muslim culture grows more and more each day. He is SO amazing, because he is really searching for the truth. He even said he is searching for the truth!! AND he said he is way more concerned about his eternal life than he is about his life here on earth, and that he just wants to know what he needs to do to be saved, and oh man. I LOVE people that really want to know the truth. And that GET it ya know? Like...this life is so not that important. Anyways, here´s to lots of prayers. 

AND, we were teaching this lesson on Easter, and halfway through I just thought, Hey! Im teaching and testifying about the Savior on cool is that?!  

Other than that, I am studying a lot in Jesus the Christ again and I love Jesus so much. He is just so amazing, ya know? And had to be him. He is the only way. He is the light and life and without Him, nothing works. Oh, I am so grateful to know that He lives. And that we get to celebrate His life everyday by feasting on the words of Christ and living and sharing His Gospel. 

Fun fact. We played a game at Nelma´s house the other day where you see how many words we could come up with starting with the same letter going around the table and not repeating any, and Nelma and I won! I love feeling like I can actually speak this language! Just a year e tal later....but whatever. 

I LOVE YOU ALL WITH ALL OF MY HEART. All of all of it. Really, you are perfect. Keep being perfect. Never forget how much I love you. God is good always.


Sister Brooks

Happy Easter from our sweet primary class!

´Eu preciso meu escravo de dente´ -Elder Ogles

I need my tooth slave. Hahahha, or tooth brush, but that´s fine. Oh the joys of learning a language/it´s so much funnier when you are on the other side.

Tra-tra-tra-transfersss. Well, big surprise, my comp got taken from me and put on a flight back to the motherland. (Actually, I think this is supposed to be the motherland, but...whatever. It´s bigger over there.) So, I am staying in Lagos, which obviously I am so happy about, because Lagos is Sião. I got a new comp, Sister Sorenson, who is absolutely adorable and the sweetest. She is 19 and from Washington and has been out for about 5 months, but she seems absolutely incredible and just the happiest, so I know that we will see lots of miracles and that she is just what Lagos needs.

Also, they took sisters out of my last ward in Porto, which obviously breaks my heart, but all is well. Pray those elders keep taking care of my family there.

I can´t even remember what happened this week, because it was just spent running all over, but it was wonderful and terribly depressing at the same time. Sister Blanco and I had just become so close, that it hurt so much to let her get on that bus this morning, but she is an incredible missionary and I am so proud of her slash so excited for her to be able to see her family. Ah, imagine. Anyways, but I am so grateful that I got to serve with her and learn from her, and oh my goodness- to see how many people were just absolutely heartbroken when she left. She is the epitome (which is the same word in Portuguese! And enigma too:) ) of a disciple of Christ. And she taught me so much, that I don´t even know where to begin. I feel like all of Lagos lost someone special today. Hahhaha, okay that was suuuuper dramatic, but funny. But really, I feel like I learned that the most important thing we can do is act as Christ would if He were here. Take time for people, and listen, really listen, and love them, really love them, and help them with what they need, serve them how they need to be served, and be the example that makes them want to follow you. Because, when it all comes down to it, that should be the real reason anyone decides to follow Christ, because they want to become like Him, because they know that it is only through Him that we can be saved. Also, we have been studying and teaching repentance a lot, and I am so grateful/a little sad that I didnt learn this earlier on in the mission, because baptism is the first fruit of repentance, not the other way around, and it´s actually so amazing to see people want to change their life. Slash try to find out how it is even possible that the Atonement works for everything. And I love studying about the Atonement, so you should do it too. It´s life changing. Literally. bahaha #missionjokes

Anyways, Fatima and Francisco are....well...we found out why they dont want to get baptized yet this week, which is good, because at least now we understand better and can help them develop their testimonies and prepare themselves.

OH MY GOODNESS FELIZMINA! I dont think I have told you guys about her, but she is like our Portuguese grandmother. We´ve been really busy, so we weren´t able to visit her for a couple of weeks, and the other day when we knocked on her door and she opened it up and saw that it was us, her face literally lit up and she squealed of happiness. I have never been received so well. Oh, what a blessing. I love that little old lady. I think she is 87 actually, but she is wonderful, and she came to church with us again on Sunday, and oh...I just love her so much. She loves hearing us sing, and she would have us sit and sing to her for hours if we could. Oh, it is the funniest. She is the sweetest, and like a child at the same time. And asks us every single time we go there if we have boyfriends and where we live. Hahha, oh I love her. But, she knows there can only be one truth and she wants to follow Jesus Christ, so...we think she will get baptized.

Okay, no more time, but HAPPY EASTER!! I might not be at the Garden Tomb, or the MTC, but...there are big chocolate eggs and pictures of Christ hanging all through the city, so it´s kinda the same right? I LOVE YOU ALL WITH ALL OF MY WHOLE HEART.

Sister Brooks

Monday, April 7, 2014

`Quando eu for para o templo, eu quero ser selada ás batatas fritas.´ -Nelma


First off, GENERAL CONFERENCE FILLED MY SOUL. WHY MUST IT ALWAYS COME TO AN END? Oh, so...we started by watching the woman´s conference, and literally during the opening hymn I just started bawling and Sister Blanco looks at me like I am crazy and then starts dying laughing. Yeah, whatever, I´m ridiculous, but I just look forward to this for so long and it finally comes and then I just see that conference center and it´s like my heart is whole again. Oh...soo much happiness in one weekend. I cant even handle it. 

So many amazing inspired words that I needed to hear and that our investigators needed to hear, and it was so wonderful. Obviously, I loved the talk by President Monson about using kind words and trying to see from other people´s perspectives and loving each other. It was a wonderful reminder for me that we never know each other´s circumstances and that the Lord is the only one who can judge others. We must love everyone, and not so much that we need to love more, but that we need to love better. And about our four minutes on earth. Because, really this time is so short and it´s so important that we use this time wisely and make and keep our convenants, and literally the Gospel is so simple that I feel like I am repeating myself always. But, anyways, it was SO good. And I wanted to cry when it ended. In the words of Captain Jack, ´Why´s all the rum gone?!´

Ah and then the olympics special came on after and I gasped and cried when I saw Kate´s face. But then her voice came on as a Brazilian lady, which hurt my heart a little bit, but it was still so good to see her.

Oh, I hope you all loved it as much as I did. I hope all of your prayers and questions were answered, and I hope you all watch it again and again and again. I cant wait to get the Liahona---pray it comes asap and doesnt take six months like the last one.... 

But, oh my goodness, the most AMAZING thing happened. Well, this week we were focusing A LOT on Fatima and Francisco, because they are so ready, and we had an amazing lessing with President Melo, and the spirit was so strong and we explained everything so clearly, and we left just knowing that it is all in their hands now. Well, we went after General Conference and we were telling them how amazing it was, and then we invited them to come on Sunday, and THEY SAID THEY WOULD. which they like never do, because here in Portugal everyone says, ´Se Deus quiser´ou ´Vamos ver´ ou ´Vamos tentar.´ Nobody like to give a sure answer, because they never want to go back on their word slash they all claim we dont know if we will wake up tomorrow, buuuut....thats not the point. They point is, they said they´d come! So, we walk out of there on cloud nine. The next day, we call them to remind them, and Fatima is sick and Francisco is at work for the first time in a month. We look at each other and want to cry. Then we call Francisco and he says no one has come by, so he will come back home and we can all go together in the car. Perfect. We go to try and get Fatima ready, and she is in her pajamas in bed. Ayiyi. She starts crying, and we are just on such a spiritual high that we are being happy and telling her that General Conference cures all (because, hello, it does.) Well, shes not having it. Then she calls Francisco who tells us that people JUST showed up and he´s going on a trip with them and he wont be back til like 30 minutes after conference starts. SATANÁS DESGRAÇADO. Well, luckily we had another ride, so we offer that to her, but she still isnt sure. Suddenly, we start humming a hymn--no idea where that came from. So, Sister Blanco and I decide to sing that hymn, and literally the second we close our hymn books, she pulls off the covers and gets out of bed to put her dress on!!! I HAVE NEVER SEEN HER MOVE LIKE THAT! So I braid her hair real fast and we are in the car before she can change her mind. MIRACLES!!! Then, as soon as we get there the first talk was the one by Elder Uchtdorf about being grateful, and it was literally EXACTLY what she needed to hear!! I obviously started crying, because God is SO good. But this time Sister Blanco was crying too, so when we looked at each other we just started laughing together. Ohhhh, how am I going to survive without her? Anyways, seriously SUCH a miracle!! God is SO good. He really is a God of miracles, and I am SO grateful that He loves us enough to bless us and give us latter-day prophets. 

I LOVE YOU ALL. I MISS YOU ALL SO MUCH. I cant believe how quickly time is flying. I will leave you with these beautiful words that healed my soul from President Uchtdorf.

´When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ’s Atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven’s embrace....This is not a gratitude of the lips but of the soul. It is a gratitude that heals the heart and expands the mind.´



Sister Brooks

yayy we found  frozen yogurt!!

just walking to church....

ponte de piedade! thats gabby our ward mission leader slash love of my life

fatima e franciscoooo

zone lunch. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The prophet's coming! The prophet's coming!!

I am here. Still living the Lagos dream. Still being a missionary.

This week, I was reading in Doctrine and Covenants, and it was talking about how Jesus is light, and the sun is light, and therefore, Jesus is the sun....hahahah apostasy. Okay, just kidding, but I feel a lot less bad about worshipping the sun or being afraid of the dark. Moral of the story, I love Jesus, and I love that He made the sun for us.  

Our Pakistinian friend, Qasim, is reading the Book of Mormon! And his sister is bringing up pakistinian dresses this week! Two things completely unrelated, but whatever, because Im super excited about both!

We were working really hard this week to reach our goal for the month of March as a mission, and we were praying and fasting together as a mission, and literally, God is SO good, because we almost reached our goal! And we beat the record for any week in our mission! It is such a testimony to me that the Lord really does hear and answer our prayers. And, it justs makes me so happy, that we are all in this together ya know? It's not our area or our zone, but it's the Lord's work with His children on His earth. He is in charge, and His hand is in this work.

Jorge, Nelma's boyfriend, got baptized!!! It was so wonderful! He was so happy! And i got to be part of my first baptism in the ocean! Oh, it was wonderful. (And FREEZING for them) Our whole little Lagos family was there, and I just love our little branch, because we really are like a family. Sometimes things are less than formal, but it is really great to see how everyone loves and cares for each other and how everyone is here to support each other. (It helps that half of them are actually family, but that's besides the point.)

This week, I was reading a talk that was talking about why we should be obedient and different reasons that people are obedient. We can be obedient because we are afraid of the consequences, or we can be obedient because we want our parents to be happy with us, or we can be obedient because we want to receive blessings from God, but, ultimately the real reason why we should be obedient to the Lord and His commandments is to add to the glory to God. That is why Jesus Christ was obedient. That should be our desire. That should be why we are obedient. Not that the other reasons are bad reasons, or even reasons to start being obedient, but in the end, we should be obedient to glorify God, to show Him that He is the most important thing in our lives and that we love Him above all else, and that His happiness is our happiness. Kind of like your happiness is my happiness :)

AHHHH!! MY FAVORITE WEEKEND OF THE YEAR!!! ERRBODY!!! WATCH GENERAL CONFERENCE!!! oh, I am soooo excited. Literally, I am telling people in the streets that it is better than Christmas, and they have to come and watch and hear the prophet's voice. I am in tears that it is my last General Conference on the mission, but Im just trying not to think about it, and then it wont be real....right? Denial. 

I am wayyyy scatterbrained today, so I truly apologize. The zoo full of birds wore my voice out---ya know...doing the mating call and all. But, this week was wonderful, and each week is passing by faster and faster and my comp is slipping away from me, and I am crying inside. Why must Brazil steal all that is good in the world? Hahah, just kidding, butttt...I am sooo happy, and I am so blessed, anddd I LOVE YOU ALL SO SOOO MUCH. 

Sister Brooks

jorge's baptism!!! 

nelma and i love these french fries haha

with love, our district. and my comp. 

'Estou a jejuar...uhh...como um quase jejum.' -Zito

We had a noite familiar with Jeisa and Zito the other night, and Zito tells Jeisa not to put a lot of food on his plate, because he's fasting. And I go..' Uh...fasting?' And he says, ' Well, it is kind of like fasting, because you know, summer is around the corner, and it's beach time.' Hahha apparently dieting can be called 'almost fasting.' hahah Zito is actually the funniest human being. He speaks part Portuguese part Creole part English and it is the greatest thing that happens to my ears every week. Like when he calls himself bem black. Oh man. Too good. Or when he says, 'Ah, foi amazing man.' I love this family.

Anywayssss. HELLO FAMILY. sorry for the confusion. We had zone conference yesterday, time to send an email on pday. conference on a pday. I know. I agree, was actually SO good and exactly what I needed. Renewed the fire and just made me so excited to keep working in this special little area of Portugal. Yeah, okay, sometimes I get sad when I see Elly and her 5 story building chapel in Brazil, and we have one little room next to three other churches, but then I get super excited, because I remember that the Lord is preparing His children in ALL parts of the world, including here in Lagos. And that He has promised that even more, His angels are working here to help guide us to His children and help guide His children to us. He is preparing the Algarve for a stake. He is preparing Portugal for a Temple. He promised this land a temple, and He never goes back on His promises. I am SO grateful He trusts me enough to call me to this land and this area to let me be an instrument in His hands and work in His vineyard. 

MIRACLE OF THE WEEK: Deus e taoooo bom. Oh my goodness. I have never had a stronger testimony of the Lord seriously knowing what is best for each of His children and how He answers our prayers so specifically. Seriously, I die. God is sooo good.

So, we have been working really hard with Fatima and Francisco, and we know they are ready to get baptized, but they need to come to church, and they need to know that they are ready to get baptized, so we decided to fast for them this weekend. Well, we prayed that Fatima would wake up early and that she would feel excited and like a little push to go to church on Sunday morning and that when she got there she would be able to feel the Spirit and know that it is true and that she needs to be baptized. Well, we are praying and praying and we have so much faith, and sacrament meeting rolls around, and she and Francisco dont show up. Sister Blanco and I are a little disappointed, because....we were fasting and the cause was just and it should have been in accordance with the will of God and yeah. But, sacrament meeting was kind of a disaster and there was a lot of screaming and this child running around and just making a big confusion and it was kind of hard to feel the spirit. Well, afte church, we went over to Fatima and Francisco's, and Fatima tells us that she actually woke up really early, which never happens, and she was like, 'Yes. Hoje, eu VOU para igreja.' So then she was like Im going to just take a shower and then get ready and go. BUT, then, she fell back asleep and didnt wake up until 11:30, which she says she never does. So, when Sister Blanco and I walked out the door, we just looked at each other with a huge smile in awe, because we both had the same revelation. GOD ANSWERS PRAYERS. Specifically and in His time and in His manner and in the way that is best for His children. Because, she woke up, and she wanted to go to church, just as we had prayed for, but then, when the Lord knew that sacrament meeting would be kind of a bagunca and it would be hard to feel the Spirit, He let Fatima fall back asleep, because He knew that she would have been annoyed and frustrated and wouldn't have wanted to come back next week. GOD IS SO GOOD.

It is funny, because sometimes we think that the Lord isn't answering our prayers or maybe it is our lack of faith or maybe we were praying for something that wasnt just, but really He sees the big picture. He knows His children. He knows what is best for us and He works in His own time and His own ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways are not our ways. Because His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. God is good always, and He hears and answers every one of our prayers. 

In other news, we have this 16 year old girl and her mother that we are teaching, Susana and Bruna. Well, we are teaching about prayer and how its a commandment and how o espirito mal ensina que we shouldnt pray. Well, then Bruna asks, 'I have a question. I heard Satan is God's brother.' And we say, 'Well, He's one of God's sons. He's Jesus's brother.' And she says, 'So...he's my brother too?' 'Yes.' And she says, ' I can tell my teacher that my brother ruined my homework?' Hahahha literally no idea how she went from that one thought to the next, but Sister Blanco and I just died laughing and I remembered how wonderful it is to have the mind of a 16 year old. But Bruna is seriously so incredible. She will make an incredible member one day. 

Also, our internet guy is from Pakistan, and man, it makes me miss Israel. These people are so incredible. He came to church with us the other day, and then he invited us over to his house for lunch this week, and ohhh my goodness, I thought I was going to die. Either I have gotten really used to bland portuguese food, or Indian food is actually the spiciest thing on the face of the earth, because I thought I was going to die it was so hot. It was actually so good, but Sister Blanco and I were trying so hard not to laugh slash make it noticeable that we were drinking like gallons of water. Hahhaha, oh I love this place. He is amazing, and I promise that when the middle east is opened to missionaries, the Lord's work is going to explode there.

Ah, the Church is true. The Doctrine of Christ is pure and if we apply it in our lives, we can be changed and we can see the lives of others change. I am SO grateful for the Atonement and the opportunity we have to change and to become better and to be more obedient everyday and to dedicate ourselves to following our Savior and becoming more like Him everyday. It's not even close to easy, but it is so so so worth it. I think it is so incredible trying to look at people the way the Savior does and treating them the way the Savior would--loving every one and forgiving every one and remembering that people are more important than all the 'things' that occupy our time. 'Never let a problem to be solved be more important than a person to be loved.' The Lord loves ALL his children. We must see people as they can become. We must picture them in white. Of us it is required to forgive all, but He is merciful and just. I am so grateful for His mercy and patience with me. I still cant figure out how I deserve to be so blessed when I make so many mistakes, but I am so grateful for every blessing He has given me. I dont know how I got so blessed to have a companion who is so loving and patient with me, but oh my goodness, I have never been happier. I dont know how she puts up with me all day long, but she is an angel. I dont know how you guys have put up with me my whole life, but THANK YOU. Thank you for loving me despite all my imperfections. 

You all are my angels. You are my happiness. You are my inspiration. I LOVE YOU.


Sister Brooks

Zona da Algarve - Março 2014