Monday, September 16, 2013

Quasi Morri

So sometimes members give us money to buy lunch on the street instead of making us home baked meals, which is exactly what happened on Saturday. We had just finished a once-a-month conference with our mission president and his wife, and decided to go to our favorite restaurant in the downtown. After I finished eating, I realized I couldn't breathe very well, but for some reason just thought it was normal and it would pass. There we are, me and my Brazilian and Argentinian companions, waiting for the bus to arrive, when I seriously cannot breathe. I bend over and start hyperventilating and crying and try to walk. Make it about 10 steps and then can't move much farther--I bend over again and my heart hurts so bad and my stomach is on fire and I am gasping for air and can't get it to my lungs. People are starting to gather and my companions start splashing water on me and sit me down in my skirt in the middle of everyone. I'm hysterical by this point--my hands are completely numb and disfigured and my face is starting to numb as well. Apparently I was swollen and red. Still sucking air, I start to weave in and out of consciousness. I hear Sister Lopez somewhere yelling into a telephone and then the Elders are there and Sister Monteiro. She starts shoving stuff down my throat and the one elder who can speak english keeps saying: I need you to focus, I need you to stay awake, keep your eyes open, look at me. They lay me down on a bench and he puts his hands on my head and gives me a blessing.

It was an interesting moment for me, because I remember feeling stillness in my body. I couldn't breathe, but inside of me for some reason I felt calm. 

Right then Sister Monteiro grabbed some medicine from her purse that she randomly had and starting giving it to me and forcing me to swallow. (I felt like a 2 year old. NOOO MOOMMMMM DON'T MAKE ME EAT MY VEGATABLESSSS!!!!) The car arrived to take me to the hospital and they dragged me across the rest of the terminal. I suddenly had a brilliant idea and was able to say in a tiny raspy voice: Sing.......Come, saints......please......

They all started in, belting ``Come, come Ye Saints`` and I truly couldn't help but smile, so smile I did:) 
They took me to the hospital and brought out a wheelchair, to which I said: Oh my gawsh, fancy!! Never before in my life!!!`` I decided that if I was going to die, I was going to be the girl in the wheelchair cracking jokes before she croacked... 

They stuck a needle in my arm for 15 minutes and a needle in my butt, (there were a lot of jokes for that one,) and drugged me up really really good. I was in a tiny little room in the middle of Brazil with a bunch of other people, needle in my butt, needle in my arm, finally can move my hands, and I just wanted to take a picture. So I did!! (I'm smiling in these pictures because by this point, I was super thrilled to be able to breathe.) 

If Sister Monteiro wouldn't have been in Ponta Grossa that day, with THAT medicine, I would have died. I have a testimony that the Lord is over this work and that He watches out for His missionaries. I also say ``quasi morri`` often in Portuguese because it means ``I almost died`` and I think it's funny to say when I trip. Which is a lot of times in one day. But really, I almost died!! What a day. 

They took me back to my apartment and decided I couldn't stay there one second longer, so I've been emergency transferred, once again, to Curitiba. I had 20 minutes, once again, to pack my bags. I was so drugged and tired. President Monteiro pulled me aside because on Sunday, we baptized my first family here. Oh, a beautiful family and oh, I love them. I wanted to stay for it. He told me that I was important in the conversion of the Pineira family, and they could be my family still, and that he was asking me to please leave Ponta Grossa right now because it was the best thing for my health. 

So, I missed my first family baptized. But, they were baptized and that's what's most important. I may have shed a few tears over this, but tudo bem:) 

I can't eat without having a hard time breathing now and we're not sure what's wrong but I'm a little discouraged because it was a very close call. I was informed this morning there is a good chance I get sent home. A little bit of a rough break, you know? I want to stay here.

The good news is that this week, I raced the boys in the family we're teaching and absolutely destroyed them. And the other good news this week I finally learned how to say ``bowl`` in Portuguese. And the best news of all is that a family I love very much was baptized this week:):) I'm a happy camper. I'm really grateful to be alive. You know? 

I love this work so much. I want to do it and I don't know if I get to anymore, but for heavens sake I will anyways wherever I am. I have such a testimony of the love that the Lord has for His children. I have such a testimony of His involvement in our lives. I know that the Atonement is real and that it works and sometimes hard things happen so we can learn. How great it is to have opportunities to learn:) 

All my love!!

Sister Brooks

Monday, September 9, 2013

Sweet Moments!!!

I have a new companion, and she is from Argentina. Which means that we have a three-some of English, Portuguese and Spanish. I can’t understand a word she says, so we’re still super good friends. This week was hilarious with the language barriers going every direction. Sister Lopez will say something in Portuguese and Sister Garnica won’t understand, so I’ll naturally explain it in English as if that will help. We’ve all added dictionaries to our standard works that we carry around every day all day.

Us trying to make room for
one more person in our
tiny little home.
She really is darling. It’s so funny to me to see the stark cultural differences between all the different people I’ve met in the last month and a half. Example: When I arrived, I was concerned about buying food and finding someone to watch me run. Sister Garnica wanted to know if we could go to a spa on P-day so she could get her hair done and get a massage. What? 

This week we saw a grand and marvelous miracle. There we were, walking up the massive hills of Ponto Grossa, when a woman with a big bag of groceries walked past. We’ve been making goals to talk to more and more people every day, (partially because you find more people to teach that way and partially because it’s super hard to breathe walking up this particular hill and I needed a break,) so we stopped and started chatting with her. It turns out that she is member with a very strong testimony who fell away because she had been living in an area without the church. She moved to this area only two months ago and has been wanting to come back to church with her family. Two of her sons aren’t baptized but want to be. Through another miracle, the heart of the father of the family was softened and they will be baptized this week:) I’m as happy as a clam. 

New missionaries from America arrived this week, and apparently the President told them not to worry about the language because ``Sister Brooks got it in 30 days.`` Well, I think it’s kinda like when a woman asks a man if a particular dress makes her look fat and he says no, but really it does. What President Monteiro said was a complete lie, but I’ve been feeling pretty awesome the last few days. 

Our lightbulb burned out this week
 so I like to study in the dark
with my handy dandy HEAD FLASHLIGHT!!!

We approached a drunk man this week and gave him a pamphlet about the gospel, to find out later that right before we arrived, he had been in a rage with a knife trying to kill a couple of kids. I’m really grateful that we have the Lord’s protection as His missionaries. 

The language is coming, at a snail's pace, but it’s coming:) I have been able to start teaching this week, not just talking. I’m starting to have a sense of humor in Portuguese, which is wonderful because I was starting to miss laughing at myself every day. 

This week we taught everyone in the whole world and their dogs which roam the streets here. (PS. My fear of dogs is vanished. They growl and I pick up a rock and yell in English and they fear me.) We found some really wonderful people this week, including a woman who started screaming in the middle of me rehearsing the First Vision about how glorious and wonderful God is. It was the most exciting First Vision recitation I’ve ever heard, and you better believe we’ll be visiting her again soon. 

We also taught a man who wasn 4 feet tall and at least 100 years old, and I wanted to ask if I could take a picture of his cute little old face. I resisted because that is kinda weird, but I was smiling the whole entire lesson and wishing my buddy Abby was there to enjoy chatting with the cutest old man in all of the world:)

I apparently have tasty blood on the left half of my body. I wake up with a bloody left leg every morning from something eating me during the night. I’m convinced it’s a spider bigger than my face. 

I learned a lot this week about patience and about the Lord’s timing. My timing is never the Lord’s because I want everything to happen NOW. But the Lord is teaching me through so many things and people how to truly be patient with myself and other people. As I’ve tried to exercise patience, I have felt the Lord’s love for His children in this area so much stronger. Every morning I pray and feel how precious every soul is to Heavenly Father. And then we go to work, and I have my companion teach me hymns in Portuguese that I can sing while we walk the streets:)

I love the work. It’s hard, but the moments when it clicks with someone, like it did this week with the family we found, are some of the sweetest moments of my life. What a privilege:):)

Oh, and my love plus a little more, 

Sister brooks
The "gyms" of Brazil.,,blue and yellow toys
next to a playground.
And, a funny little sticker in all the buses in Brazil. The first people it says to make room for on the buses are the obese. Before the old, the woman with child, the diseased. Make room for the obese.  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Laughing in the Rain



I have marvelous news!! This week I was asked to say a prayer in English, because people think I'm super cool when I speak English. So I started to pray and completely tripped over all my words. I was SO EXCITED! I am fluent in Portuguese prayers! No, I can't carry on a conversation about much of anything, but ask me to pray and you better believe I'll show off. 

This week some crazy man on the street passed a huge group of people waiting for the bus. My companion and I were in this group, waiting to take the bus to Centro for a district meeting. He was walking fast and saying ``Bom dia`` and ``Tudo Bem`` to absolutely everyone. He saw me and approached me nearly running, starting a conversation loud enough for everyone to hear as if we were best friends who hadn't seen each other in a year and a half. He had a lisp. I can't understand people without lisps half the time, so in this situation I was toasty toast. He was practically yelling at me, completely animated, and I was just nodding and saying ``Ohhhh, sim!`` and ``Nao acredito!!`` My companion stepped back and let me have a conversation with my new best friend for probably 10 minutes, and it was maybe the strangest thing that has ever happened to me. The good news is that now me and the man on the street are buddy buddies.  

This week every investigator we had left dropped us. Every single person with a baptismal date now wants nothing to do with us and we walked and walked and walked yesterday to get people to church and no one wanted to come. We probably taught 25 first lessons to people this week, knocking on doors and talking with everyone we saw, and everyone agrees with what we say but doesn't want to change. (This is a picture of me with a perfect family we found. Totally on board until they discovered church started at 9 AM. Really?) I prayed last night: For heavens sake, tell me what I'm doing wrong and I'll fix it!! I decided I need more faith. This is a work of faith and perserverance, and this week I'm absolutely determined that we will find people prepared:) We're also getting a new companion tomorrow to train because of transfers, and currently are trying to figure out where the little one will sleep. Every day an adventure. 

It started pouring rain yesterday and naturally I forgot my coat. There I am, waddling around, looking for anyone to teach, and suddenly every person in Brazil is busy making eggs and toast. (People here don't even eat eggs and toast, I KNOW YOU'RE LYING!) Soaking wet, no one to teach, middle of a dirt road and I just started laughing. OH MY GOSH WHAT AM I DOING?!?!?! (This picture is me very wet when somebody finally let us in.) 

We've been getting a lot of pressure to perform and our area honestly is super struggling right now. One night my companion and I sat down and she said something that has stuck with me all week: ``Sister Brooks, the Lord wants souls. Some people may want numbers, but the Lord wants souls.`` Well my goodness, yes He does!! I keep thinking of the scripture in Ether that AFTER the trial of our faith we see miracles. I'm pretty thrilled for the moment after the trial of my faith. The Lord values patience a lot. I have no patience. What a stinky opportunity to learn. 

How grateful I am for prayer. At the end of a difficult day, how grateful I am that I can kneel down and say. ``Well. I worked a lot today and have absolutely nothing to show for it. Help me feel like I'm an alright person.`` I'm learning a lot about what the Lord expects from us, and it is often a lot different from what people expect from us. 

I so wish I had exciting stories of people we found this week to tell!! WE had two baptisms this week and were informed by them yesterday that they weren't interested anymore. We talked to so many wonderful people this week and I am obsessed with them all. I think one change I want to make is really help the first lesson be focused on Jesus Christ. People always feel the Spirit when you focus on the Savior:)

I am in love with Portuguese. I LOVE IT! I WILL SPEAK IT FOREVER!!! I love to study it, because it's a technical language with many rules. It's like a really hard math problem that always has a solution, or like a complex puzzle. The interesting thing is that no one hear speaks correctly, all the rules I read so much about. 

I would tell you that you're speaking your language wrong, but I don't know how to say that. 

This week we had a conference with the mission president and his wife, and I learned so many things I want to do better. A mission is like a college of learning about your own personal weaknesses. Super awesome. But really, we watched this video of Christ coming to the Americas, and a picture popped up of Christ with this old, broken woman on His lap. They were both crying, and for crying out loud, I wanted to join in too. (I'm becoming Gus from Psych. The sympathetic cryer.) But how many times has the broken person been me? Haha how many times THIS WEEK has the broken person been me? How grateful I am that the Lord is always there with mercy and love.

We also had a women's conference with the sisters in my area. We learned the importance of putting on make-up and being a classy and elegant woman. Worst part of my mission so far, no exceptions. Except that they did feed us chocolate afterwards. 

The Lord wants souls. I'm pretty confident that there are souls here He needs, and I get to learn a little bit about patience right now:) And I get to learn about laughing in the rain, and apparently about how to put on make-up, oh heaven help me.

One thing is for certain. I love the Lord. He listens to us when we pray, and He loves us always, and what I am trying so very hard to teach people is truly the gospel of Jesus Christ. What a priviledge :)

Com amor!!!!!:)
Sister Brooks

ps. this is me at the girly conference.