Wednesday, May 28, 2014

´Happy people just don´t kill their husbands...they just don´t!´

Elder Kearon, who is part of the Area Presidency over Europe, came to do a mission tour this week, and it literally changed my life. CHANGED. MY. LIFE. Seriously, it was the most incredible meeting I think I have ever been a part of. He really helped me see that we are making such a difference here, and that every small thing we do counts. Also, he reminded us to relax and just be ourselves and keep working hard, because we are doing a good job, and ohh it was just exactly what I needed to hear. I also just felt his love for each of us individually. It was unreal. Seriously, halfway through the meeting he just stopped and looked over at one of the sisters and goes, ´Are you cold? Let´s turn the air up a little bit.´ And then kept going. It really was so amazing to see that people are what is important, and as you tell them and help them feel loved and important and like they are the center of everything, they will want to be better and work harder and take care of one another better. Oh, I wish I could explain everything I learned to you, but it was so perfect, because I felt so much calmer about everything, and yet sooo desirious to just keep working hard but just be myself and keep loving everyone and it will all work out in the Lord´s time and in His way. 

But, there was one time when he was talking about exact obedience and telling us to make sure we do our exercises and not just like throw your leg up on the wall and call it stretching, but get your heart-rate up. And he says something about how exercise gives you endorphins, and immediately, Sister Mullen and I look at each other and go, ´And endorphins make you happy, and happy people just don´t kill their husbands...they just don´t!´ Oh tooo good. Literally, I love her so much and I am learning so much from her, and I just love serving with her. 

Speaking of love, during the conference, 7 out of the 12 zones in the mission were there..aka 150 missionaries, so it was just like a huge reunion and ohh I died. Also, a million sisters just running around saying, ´I LOVE YOU SOOOO MUCH!!!!´ hahah duh you KNOW i was in the center of that. hahah. Oh, it was so good. I saw Sister Call, from viseu, again and oh how I miss that beautiful woman. 

Miracle of the week: Roseane came to church!! Oh, it was so wonderful. She is a less active, returned missionary, who is in really really deep depression and it just breaks my heart, so we have been sending her texts and calling her and giving her conference talks and just trying to help her feel loved, well Sunday, she showed up to church! And then afterward, she sent us a text and just said thank you so much for your love and prayers and for everything you have been doing to help me. You have no idea the influence you are having in my life. I decided to accept the invite from the Lord (in Matthew 11:28-30). Thank you for always telling me you love me. You have no idea how badly I need to hear that.´ In tears. Oh, it was the sweetest and so perfect and just....that´s what it´s all about ya know? It´s just about loving people. And loving them so much that you want them to have the gospel and true happiness in their lives. Oh, it was so perfect. And it just really helped me remember that we are making a difference.

I was reading through old letters one night and it just really warmed my heart, and was exactly what i needed, because oh my...sometimes I forget that there are people that love me in the world. Like, obviously I remember, and I have my companion who says it every day, and every week I get on email and feel so loved and I know the Savior loves me and that´s all that really matters, but sometimes throughout the week, there are still those hard days of rejection and I was so wonderful to remember that I am loved, and that you are all out there. So, thank you. Thank you for loving me and for being there for me and supporting me and for writing me letters and helping me remember.

Also, Rui is doing so well!!! He is smoking so much less, and he is trying so hard to just follow what we teach him and do what is right. We marked him for baptism in June!!!!, so we´ll keep praying for him and all will be well! Oh, and his whole demeanor has just changed. He is so much happier--visibly. And even Irmã Fernanda has noticed. Oh, it is so wonderful to see the change the gospel and the spirit makes in our lives.

I LOVE YOU ALL SOOO MUCH!!!! You are the light of my life. Thank you for your love and support. You have no idea how important you are to me. 

Sister Brooks

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

´What´s there to do in Póvoa?´ ´What.. you haven´t seen the animal farm yet?´

Yup. That is apparently what there is to do here. Don´t worry, still haven´t been. Something tells me that it isnt quite like that horrid place you dragged us to at home where the cow´s tongue were....I cant even finish. 

BOM DIA ALEGRIA. bah. hahah. HELLO FAMILY THAT I LOVE SO MUCH. It´s raining and cold. Whyyyyy, Portugal, whyyyyy?

We had the most incredible lesson with Rui this week. Oh, it was so wonderful. We were teaching him the Plan of Salvation and Word of Wisdom, and he just accepted it all so well. Also, he tells us we are like angels in his life and that our friendship is gold to him, so it´s like the most precious thing ever. Well, anyways, we taught him about baptism and he just got so excited. I love when they get excited and start asking like the logical questions--like where and when and what they have to wear, ahah. But anyways, he is really afraid he isn´t going to be strong enough to do it all and quit smoking and drinking coffee and everything, but we asked him if he believes that God is strong enough to help him and he just, without a doubt, said yes. Oh, it was so wonderful to see so much faith. So we had him say a prayer and ask for help and ask to know when he should be baptized and he was all nervous and saying that our prayer would be more effective, but he ended up doing it, and right after the prayer, he looked up and just had this huge smile on his face!!! Oh, it was so wonderful, and my heart was just so full and so happy and we asked him how he felt (which is normally like my least favorite question because people are just like...uhh normal?---you dont feel normal when you are fasting people--you feel hungry! haha whatever), and he says, ´Happy. And relieved. Like God lifted a weight off my shoulders.´ Oh, it was so wonderful. Sister Mullen and I left so happy. And he came to church again on Sunday! Oh, I am so excited for him.

We had a branch activity where we watched the Restauration video this week, and ohhh my goodness--the church is so true!! Literally, SO true. Like, there is no way that it could not be true. And what those people went through and were willing to do and sacrifice. Man, I think the mission is hard sometimes--HA.  Also, I want to be like Joseph Smith. Honestly, I have NO idea how he did it, but he was just always so like, ´Well, it´s what God said, so we have to do it.´ Like, God says we need to build a temple. And how do you build a temple? No idea, but He said we need to do it, so...we have to do it.´ Seriously, to just do the will of God always. Even if you have no idea how. Or if everything about your life is being challenged and threatened. Ah, my dream. Slash goal. 

Well, my weekly revelation came in church yesterday (shocker), this girl in our branch got up to speak before she leaves for her mission this week, and OH MY HEART. Literally, I felt like I was looking at myself a year ago. And I just realized how much I have changed and grown and experienced. And then it hit me--like really, really hit me. I am at the end of my mission. My mission is coming to an end. Yeah, I still have a lot of time left and a lot to get done, and I am SO grateful that I still have so much time, but it´s still the end. And I am sitting here, understanding perfectly, and just watching someone at the beginning of the most life changing, amazing experience ever. And I just got so overwhelmed with love---love for the Savior, love for the mission, love for Portugal, love for how perfect God is and how He perfectly creates things like missions to help change us and mold us and make us start to reach our potential. 

Then, her dad gets up afterward and has her stand by his side, and starts talking about how proud he is of her and how much of an example she is and yada yada and I just LOST it. Literally lost it. I was bawling. Luckily, when I looked up, I saw Sister Mullen was a mess too. Oh man, I was just so overwhelmed with love and happiness and it was so precious, and my heart broke, because I missed Dad so much, and I just got so excited to stand by my dad´s side again, and then I was just so grateful that you are who you are, Dad, and that you taught me and raised me how you have. And I just missions are the greatest thing ever. It´s like a mini-life. And I just can´t wait to be able to return to my Heavenly Father and have him say He´s proud of me and He loves me and all that wonderful dad stuff, and oh man. I was seriously such a mess. So Dad, thank you for being you and for being the best dad in the whole world and for loving me and supporting me and always being there for me. I love you oh so very much. 

Mom, don´t worry, I love you sooo much too--and I tell everyone how much I want to be like you all the time. Sisters---I LOVE YOU ALL SOOO MUCH. But you all already know that. Well, now that we played the equality game... :) 

I love you I love you I love you. The church is true. God is good always. I am dyinggg to go to the temple again, so....enjoy it this week :)

Sister Brooks

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

It should say Sister Middleton!

Yup, a little girl in our branch ran up to me at church yesterday to tell me that I look like the princess in England and I should change my nametag so we can be sisters. Hahaha, oh I love children. 

Well, I have NO idea what to tell you, because we talked yesterday, but Povoa is full of miracles. Seriously, miracle after miracle after miracle. Remember Rui that I told you about last week? Well, we met up with him this week, and it was wonderful. He is really searching for Spiritual help, and it is just so wonderful to see how the gospel really is the cure for all. And we ran into a less active on the street that actually stopped us and then he came to church on Sunday! Oh, my heart was so full.  

Also, we are teaching this Brazilian family that the other sisters here found and they are sooo incredible. The dad knows the Bible like the back of his hand. Literally like the back of his hand. And he is studying the Book of Mormon so intensely to know whether or not it is true. I mean, he´s going to evidence and doctrinal correctness and so maybe thats not the best tactic, but is wonderful that he really wants to know whether or not it is true and he is just reading and making lists and lists of questions, and it is so amazing, because it gives me an opportunity to really study the Bible and makes me a little sad that I dont have an ipad and like automatic access to all the manuals and stuff, but it´s fine. I learn more during the searching process....right? But, I feel like it is really giving me an opportunity to learn so much more about the history of it all and like priesthood lines and everything, but just makes me feel like there is SO much that we dont know. Like there are so many missing pieces, but that´s okay, because we know exactly what we need for our salvation, so we dont have to know all the little details of the other things--even if they are super interesting to know--but we can walk by faith. and ohh how i love faith. and hope. and charity. hahahh ohh I LOVE YOU GUYS. Also, I die over their accents. SO brazilian. So good. 

Darbs, Kristan, Caisa, Erin, EVERYONE--read ´Come Unto Me´ by Elder Holland. It was a CES fireside Im pretty sure. It is wonderful and you will LOVE it. 

Also, our neighbor is an aspiring rapper, so every night we hear screaming/rapping that goes a little something like this--WINDOW YOU WINDOW ME WINDOW. It´s real good. He also blasts Kelly Clarkson from time to time, so...that´s fun. 

Sister Brooks

KENA--HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY PERFECT BEAUTIFUL BEST FRIEND!! I hope it is the most wonderful day every and that you are the happiest. You are still perfect, therefore you deserve it. I LOVE YOU SOOO. 

Marleice--HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! ayiyi you are 21?!? and married. ahh I hope it is the greatest and that you are the happiest and I love you sooo much!!!

Ev-- HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRO!!! I hope Shannan makes you something wonderful and you get a whole day to whatever it is that you like to do ahhaha. i love you!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Lives ruined. Blood Shed. Epic.

Okay, maybe not Logan and Veronica dramatic, but still...broken hearts and abandoned areas.

Ai minha querida familia. I don´t even know where to begin with this week, because I am still in shock with it all. 

Welllll ...first thing´s first. I am currently in Póvoa (it´s part of the Lisbon stake), serving with Sister Mullen (again, haha). Yeah. It´s quite the change, and I guess that´s what I get for being so happy and comfortable and letting everyone know how perfect my life was. The Lord wants us to grow,´s to growing haha. But, I was saying that I would never get to actually serve in Lisbon, and now, here I am. 

President called us on Friday night and told us to pack our bags and get on a train to Lisbon ASAP. I literally felt like my heart stopped. I was sooo sad I couldn´t even process it. Lagos was like my family. And Sister Sorenson and I were just perfect together. Oh, I miss Sister Sorenson SO much. We actually got to see each other again yesterday for interviews and we just like ran into each other´s arms. Then all the Elders made fun of us. #thatsister #sorrynotsorry Obviously I miss the ocean and Nelma and our Lagos family dearly as well.

Sister Mullen and I are pinkwashing the old AP´s area, so we joke about being the new Sister AP´s. As we contact and contact and contact and contact. I never wanted to pinkwash in my mission, and I thought I wasn´t going to have to, but...haha. Oh well. It´s actually kind of fun. Povoa is a LOT different from Lagos. Lots of buildings everywhere, but that also means lots of people, so that´s a happy thing. The branch here is also a looot different. Like, I walked in on Sunday, and I thought I was home again there were so many people in church haha. 

But, I am really excited to be here. Church was such a blessing for me, because when I got here on Saturday, I was kind of bummed. Not like I didnt want to be here or work, but just like...I felt like I left Lagos behind and I didn´t leave anyone to take care of it (well, I our area), and there was still so much to be done, and I didn´t understand why, and yeah. Well, during testimony meeting on Sunday, I felt the Spirit SO strongly. I felt such a strong love for this branch and for the people here, and from the Lord. I really felt like He is the one that made this change, because He has big things in store for Povoa. President actually said, ´Well I guess we´ll see what the Lord has done here with this transfer.´ And one of the members of the stake presidency (I think?), got up and asked us what the most important thing that happened to us during the week. So, I started thinking about the emergency transfer and everything that had gone on and how we had just taken the sacrament, and how it really was all just the start of something new. I felt an overwhelming peace and love for Povoa, and I just knew that this is where I am supposed to be. Yeah, I think it is going to be hard and very different, but I am also very excited, because there is a lot to be done, and I feel very blessed that the Lord chose me to work here. 

Also, during our interview President said that this branch is just a couple of people away from becoming a ward and therefore creating another stake. So...there´s a lot at stake. Punny, President. #englishmajors So, here´s to building Portugal´s temple. 

Like this guy who texted us today and said, ´Hey, I´m Rui and I like your message. When and where can we meet?´ !!! Miracles come to those who whitewash. Or so says our District Leader.

We had interviews with President yesterday (which is why I didn´t write), and it was exactly what I needed. I was so nervous about it before, and I just felt so comfortable once I was in there. Like I just felt like the Lord is very pleased with me and like I was prestaring contas and I was proud of my work and what I have learned here and how I am applying it in my life. It helped me feel a lot more relaxed and secure and understand how the Lord needs us to always be prepared.

Side note: if you all new how many special musical numbers I have done since being in this country, you would die. Hahaha. 

Anyways, I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!! I can NOT wait to hear your beautiful voices on Sunday! Dont worry, I´ll be looking at a picture of your faces on this end :) I love you so so so much. I love the gospel SO much. I love how our Heavenly Father knows each other us individually and perfectly and how He puts us in each other´s lives so that we can help lift each other back to His presence.

You are all my perfection.

Sister Brooks 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAN!! I hope Caisa makes you snickerdoodles and you get all the other things you love, including a mexican festa :) AND BRENNER! Wow, you are getting so old I can´t even believe it. I hope you have the most wonderful birthday and that Aunt Darla makes you ice cream roll up cake :) 

Sister Demourdant--THANK YOU SOOO MUCH MERE!! Maybe I already ate half of that jar. Literally so heavenly. We might have to make road trips back to Canada just to stock up for the winter :) Haha you are the most amazing missionary, and I love you so much. 

Sarah Kathryn Smith-- YOU ARE GETTING MARRIED!! Congrats!! I hope it is magical and the happiest day of your life! I love you so much!!