Monday, July 29, 2013

Letter dated 29 July 2013--- wedding planners and the making of a hurricane

Oi Familia e Amigos!

Hey everybody! It was another great week here in my desert paradise! So first off, let me just say that when there is a soccer game here, it is literally impossible to find anyone to teach and all the people on the streets are people from out of town. Because of that, it has been difficult to find people to teach but let me share a couple of experiences that we had.
We are going to have 2 weddings next month! We have two couples that are preparing for baptism and after talking about the power of marriage within a family they both committed to being married. I used the family photos that I have of everyone and their families and the people here just loved them. They especially liked the picture with Ben sticking his tongue out at the camera. They thought it was really funny. But I just wanted to let you know that the family is a real source of love and the Spirit. Heavenly Father gave us families so we can grow and learn what it means to feel loved. Evaly, Mark, and Cami, your families are great examples to the people here. They can see and feel the love that is in your families just through the photographs I have here. I am grateful for you all. Mom and Dad, I love you too. :) 
The weather has been really weird here lately and when we asked why, the members told us that a hurricane was forming around the islands. So, Florida and the rest of the Gulf, I am sending you a gift. Hopefully it doesn't do anything too bad. 
Whew...friends in Florida, this one doesn't look too bad!
Speaking of Florida, I think I know another reason why we went there: for power outage training. Our power goes out sooooo much which makes it really hard to teach at night but Elder McKissick and I have figured out a way to fix that problem. We now carry a candle and a box of matches with us at all times so we can be like, "Hi, can we talk to you about the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ?" They make the excuse about not having light and we say, "We have a candle and matches. Where should we sit?" We also have to do our daily planning and journal writing by candlelight. It is so cool. I like it a lot. 
Well, transfers are starting so within this next week we will find out if Elder McKissick and I will remain companions or if one of us will be moved. I hope we both stay so we can enjoy the weddings. Oh, I forgot to mention that we have to plan the weddings and every aspect of them. Can I just say that I expected only to have to plan my own wedding in my lifetime. It didn't even occur to me that I would do that out here. 
It was great to hear from many people this past week. Im working on emails and letters right now; be patient if you sent me something and are waiting for a response. We all thought we would get letters at Zone Conference last week but... sadly no, so if you have sent me anything by mail or Dear Elder in the past 3 weeks, I havent gotten it yet. Evaly, I did get your Dear Elders though that was supposed to get to me before I left the MTC. They actually arrived in Cabo Verde before I did.
Well, love you all and I pray for your well being. Thank you for all the prayers in my behalf. Great to hear that I have both Placentia 1st and Carlsbad 3rd thinking about me too. Love you and will email back soon!

 Elder Dorff

Monday, July 22, 2013

Letter dated 7-22-2013--A Baptism, the flood and a flirt!

 Oi minha Familia e meu Amigos!

Can you believe that I have been in this country for a whole month?! I can hardly believe it. It feels like forever since I was in the MTC and  don't even get me started on how long it feels like since I was at BYU. 
Thank you everyone for your emails this week! It was a great surprise to have so letters for me to read. I love reading them so much and are definitely a highlight of P-days. To answer some questions that I was asked, on P-day we email home and President Oliveira. We usually clean, grocery shop, get haircuts (doing that today and I just know that my hair will be really, really short... like more than normal), and relax a little bit by studying the scriptures and such. To be honest, there isn't very much to do in the area that I am in right now but something that we do have is a concrete soccer stadium where me, Elder McKissick, Elder Taulbee (the friend of Elder Kichan Dorff), and Elder Pires (Native Cabo Verdeano) play Ultimate Frisbee. It is a lot of fun  and a good way to start off P-days. The 4 of us are the missionaries here in Mosteiros. At the moment we don't live in the same house but the rumor is that we will be living together next transfer. We shall see. 
Closeness with any members? The youth of the Church are so strong here. All the people who are willing to listen are the youth and so they are the ones who are accepting  baptism and man, they are just plain amazing. There is Patrick (convert of 9 months) and Edy (convert of 3 months) and Mara (convert of 3 weeks. She was our first baptism) which I think that are just so strong. They are all steadfastly reading the Book of Mormon and are such great missionaries. They come with us on lessons a lot and some of the people that they have helped teach should be getting baptized this week.'
About the weather. It has rained twice. Like actually rained. We switch between blistering sun and nice cool overcast like every hour which is nice. I like it a lot. 
This week has a been a great week! Let me share a couple of stories. So we have found many golden people who are just so ready to hear our message. One of these people is a 21 year old girl. She is very interested in Joseph Smith and she loves to read so the Book of Mormon has been for here. In our last lesson though, she said she had a couple of questions for us. She then proceeded in asking us questions like, "Can people in your Church marry? Can you go on dates in your Church?" Of course we were like yes. Then she asked, "Can you marry people outside of your Church? Have you had a girlfriend before your mission? Can you date while you are on the mission?" At this point, Elder McKissick and I felt a little uncomfortable and we answered her questions and left. As we left, Elder McKissick said to me, "I think that she was flirting with us." And so now we have the joke that whenever we go back to see her she is going to ask Elder McKissick to marry her. :)
Something else that happened this week was that our investigator Eugenio was  baptized! He is an awesome 55 year old man but he has the absolute worst memory. We could ask him, "What is a prophet?" He wouldn't remember and so we would remind him and then literally turn around and ask him again and he would forget everything that we told him. For that reason our lessons with him went very long but thankfully he was baptized on Friday and when we passed by him on Saturday he had the biggest smile ever. He said that he felt so good since he was baptized. We are really happy that he feels that way. 
Eugenio's Baptism

Oh, and I have another experience to share that goes with Eugenio's baptism. So he has a damaged finger and in order to make him feel better about it, we told him that we could baptism him in the font in the Church building instead of the ocean. Worst idea ever. So we are filling up the font and about 3 hours passed and the thing is half way full. We were wondering why it was taking so long and then we realized that the font was leaking somewhere. The water had leaked from the back of the Church all the way to the front and coming out the front door. Thank goodness our floor is tile or else we would have a huge carpet problem. So we are mopping it all up and sweeping out tons of water and then we realized that the reason why all the water had come out is that the cork couldn't be sealed completely and that the tube the water flows out of wasn't connected to the drainage system so it was just flowing out onto the ground! It took forever to clean up and by some miracle I was able to use 2 broomsticks and a rag to jam the tube into the ground. It took me an hour to figure out how to make that work but it did. It was a big mess but thankfully the baptism was a success so it was all worth it.
Flood Cleanup
 Oh, and some sad news. We decided that we were going to stop going up to Feijoal because the work up there isn't progressing and the work in Quimada Guinchu is just exploding. Its sad that we won't be going up there anymore but hopefully one day we will reopen our efforts up there. 
Well, it was great to hear from everyone like I said. Love you all and I will talk to you later!

Tchao Tchao!
Elder Dorff

Monday, July 15, 2013

Letter dated 15 July 2013---day to day life in Mosteiros

Oi Familia e Amigos!

Can you believe that I have been in this country for 3 weeks? I still can't believe that I am here. Like we will be walking and I will just stop and turn to Elder McKissick and say, "We are in Africa. On an island in the middle of the Atlantic. Talking to people who don't know English and hardly know Portuguese." It just blows my mind every time I think about it. I mean I honestly feel like I am as far away from home as I was at the MTC but I am much further. Crazy.
So I am doing great! I am loving it here. I am loving the people and the culture here in Mosteiros. Some funny things that happened this week. We were walking down the road and we passed a group of little kids. They love the missionaries (because we say hi and give them thumbs-ups) and for whatever reason they started chanting "El-der! El-der! El-der" at the top of their lungs. It was so cute and I felt really loved. The kids here don't have much and if we could, I would give them a little muffin or something whenever I saw them. Something else that happens now every week is that they bring out this really big and expensive (like I don't know who could have afforded it) sound system and they blast their music from like 7-11 every night now. They play a lot of funny songs including their own version of Gangham Style (which I actually like) and a remixed version of the famous song from Titanic. It is awesome but also slightly annoying when your trying to teach people.
Time to answer some questions. So the schedule varies from day to day but I will give you the general gist of it all. Wake up at 6:30 and then get ready for the day and eat breakfast. At 8 we have personal study, then at 9 we have companionship study. At 10, (because this is still my first 12 weeks here on a mission), we have this training study where we study how to teach by the Spirit. Then at 11 we go out and teach usually 1 lesson and then at noon we return back to the apartment where we then have language study. From 1-3 is lunch and then from 4-9 we are out on the streets talking to people, attending meetings,  teaching lessons, and working hard. We then get back usually around 9:15 in which we do daily planning for the next day and then we are in bed by 10:30. That may seem really early to go to bed but trust me, by the end of the day, you are ready for bed. 
When it comes to cooking, Elder McKissick did most of the cooking before but he is slowly integrating me into the process. We have BBQ chicken, pasta, and PB&Js a lot. Much like a college diet. They have stores here that are like mini supermarkets. We go major shopping once a week.
The Cape Verde Mission was created in 1989 but it really hasn't been very strong of a mission since I think the early 2000s. They had a lot of initial problems with visas. But yeah, our mission used to be part of the Portugal Mission.Our branch is good. Like most of the mission, we have a hard time with member retention just because of the lifestyle here. People don't exactly understand the importance of coming to Church and as they don't come to church, they stop reading the scriptures and then  eventually stop praying. One thing that I have really learned here is there is purpose for every commandment that God has given us! We will be much happier in our lives if we obey them! Last week a member of the district presidency came and told us that a member of the Seventy is coming in August to come determine if the island of Fogo would be ready for the ward and stake system.  We are really excited for that and are praying that it happens.
So, about those spiders. Yes, they are huge, aren't they? I love walking under them; they look so cool. They are apparently harmless though to people, although if one of them was on my shoulder I would think otherwise. They don 't come in the house (thank goodness) and the only bug that we have had a problem with are baratas, also known as cockroaches.
Travel. We travel mostly by foot in our area. We actually cover like 4 or 5 different towns but we spend most of our time in Quimada Guenchu. We do hike up into the mountains by us to get to the town of Feijoal. It's a hike comparable to Y mountain and is really rocky and steep. Its a good hour hike so we only go there like once a week. The main roads are cobblestone although everything else is just dirt. They have a lot of taxis around which we take whenever we have to go to another missionaries area. We also take the hiace (pronounced yahss) if we are going to San Felipe.  The hiaces take like 20 people at a time to different places and they are like 12 person vans so they get pretty tight. We went to San Felipe last Tuesday and I have officially circled the entire island. It was pretty cool.
 Quimada Guenchu
Other things that were cool this week. I got to teach Family Night (Noite da Familiar) this last week. I was super nervous because I had to do it on my own in Portuguese but it went really well. I did that activity where you have someone extend their arms and you place books on their hands. Eventually the weight gets too heavy and they have to ask for help. I related this to prayer and how in our lives we have challenges and at some point it just becomes just too much to handle and so we have to ask for God's help to get us through it. I know that this is true. That if we ask for God's help, we will receive it because he loves us. He loves us a lot. 
Awesome 87 year old man that we say hi to every time we pass him. He isn't a member of our church but loves having us over to pray with him.
One last thing, it rained this week and apparently it was the first time in 6 months that it did. That's one way this place isn't like Florida or even California. But either way, the mountain by us got really green and its really pretty here right now. 
About letters. Thank you all those who have written me.  It really is great to hear from you all. I was talking with Elder McKissick and he was saying how he didn't realize how great receiving a letter on your mission was until he started serving. And I feel the same way so thank you for your emails. I haven't gotten any mail and I probably won't get any till Zone Conference next week. Oh Karen, I did get your email and I wrote back a response but it wouldn't go through. Send me another email with maybe another email address and I can try sending it again.
Well, love you all and I thank you for your prayers. I'm doing good out here and I am loving my opportunity to share the Gospel!

 Tchao, Tchao!
-Elder Dorff

Monday, July 8, 2013

Letter dated 8 July 2013--more of the creepy spiders and challenges of the work

Olá minha familia e meus amigos!

Okay, so first off, before I forget again. Happy Belated Birthday to Adam, Mark, and Chuck! I just want you to know although I never got say it before I was thinking about each of you on your actual birthday.
Evaly, I got your DearElders this week. Tell Meg that I am going to tickle her tummy so much that she will laugh a lot. I am happy to hear that the whole family is good and happy. Sounds like the baby blessing up in Utah was good. I bet that was cool to have the kiddos there to be able to meet the Prophet. Can I just say that I know that he is a Prophet of God. I really do.
Mom, thanks for making me miss BYU. Just kidding, but I bet that it was a lot of fun over there. I know a couple of people there for the Summer Term. I am happy to hear about how David and Forrest are doing. Forrest congrats on getting called to Russia. I know a couple of people, not in your mission, but in Russia and they just love it! Sounds like Cami is doing good with the baby and it sounds like the baby is being just a normal little boy. How I wish that I could have been there for it but honestly, I am happy to be over here. Sounds like you have had an enjoyable time over at Sandy and Ricks house. And I want to hear about the big water fight at Dana Point for the 4th of July. Yo you cousins, I want to be a part of that when I get back.
A local Catholic church
Okay, Dad you did a great job at sending me questions so I will try to answer as many as I can. That first night we slept in Praia but not in the mission home. We actually stayed in the Assistants to the Presidents house. Elder McKissick took out my stitches last week without any real problem. I told him this was a test of how much trust there is in our companionship. My companions first name is Tanner. Our mission president is Elder Roberito Oliveira and I don't know Sister Oliveira's. They speak to us in English for now. Eventually they will speak to us in Portuguese. Mosterios means Monastery. I haven't been asked to speak yet but I did get up to bear my testimony. So much more freakier than in English. The primary language in Cabo Verde is Creole. The kids learn Portuguese in the schools though so for that reason it is easier to teach teens. We always have to have a member with us on lessons so we can try to overcome that language barrier. We are only allowed to teach in Portuguese.
My first impression of the people are they are so poor but very humble. I realized quickly that the people accept the Gospel really easy but they have a hard time changing their lives to live the commandments because there really isn't all that much to do here. Climate is different everywhere. It wa blazing hot in Praia and San Felipe but cooler (still hot) here in Mosterios. Government doesn't seem to do too much for the people. I haven't had anything to eat that strange yet but we do make our own food. That has been an adventure. I will send you my routine next week, I think.
Remember the huge spiders Brent talked about in his last letter? EEEWWW!!
Okay, so experience of the week. We started the week with 4 baptisms planned on Saturday and we had all 4 until Thursday when we visited one of them and he was drunk. He isn't progressing and this was sad. Then we went to go visit another one of them and she has gone missing with a teenager that has a really bad repuation here. No one has seen her for 4 days and my comp thinks that she might have broken the law of chastity. That was sad too. Then Friday night as we are picking up the last 2 for their interviews, one of them, who has an infected finger, went crazy and said that he needed medicine and couldn't be baptized. We spent a good hour trying to help him understand that we were going to put plastic over his hand so his finger would be fine but  before we were done explaining everything, he would deny our invitation to go. So then we were down to one. The next day, we went 45 minutes before the baptism to pick her up and she wasn't home. We had no idea what to do so we waited and decided that we needed to say a prayer so we could at least feel peace. After a while we decided to go out on the streets to  look for her. We eventually ran into some guy and asked him and he said, "Oh yeah, Betinha is my cousin, she is in my  house." So we picked her up and she got ready and right before we left, she said she had a question for us. We realized that her cousin is one of the church leaders here and her question was why we say Sunday is the Sabbath and not Saturday. Thankfully my comp was able to help her and she was baptized 1 1/2 hours after the baptism was supposed to start. I know that Heavenly Father hears our prayers and if he didn't we would have never been able to find her. Satan tries so hard to stop us but I know if we don't get discouraged and have a prayer in our hearts, we will be able to help many people here. 
Betinha's baptism with Elder Dorff and Elder McKissick

Beautiful setting for a baptism
Well, I hope that everyone is doing good and I love getting your emails. Keep writing. I plan on getting some letters mailed this week. It might take a month but whatever. Love you all!

-Elder Dorff

P.S. I saw a monkey! I really am in Africa!


Monday, July 1, 2013

Letter dated 1 July 2013---first assignment....FOGO!!

Oh, my gosh! I am in Cabo Verde! Can you believe that? I like have that realization every single day. Okay, so let me lay it all out for you on what has happened this past week. So on the 24th we began our journey and flew from Salt Lake to Boston and then at about midnight we left from Boston to Praia. Once we got to Praia we met our Assistants to the Presidents and also President Oliviera and Sister Oliviera. First off, they are both so nice. I am much taller than both of them but I love their Brazilian accents. They took us to the mission home and we had a wonderful meal over there. We got to hear about the mission through Orientation and then we got our assignments. I was the last Elder to get his assignment (I am pretty sure that they knew that I hate waiting for that kind of stuff) and I was called to serve in the................ Mosterios Area on the island of...... FOGO! That's right! I am serving on the island with the volcano! My trainer and companion is Elder McKissick from Riverton, Utah. He is an awesome elder and we have gotten along really well. He has been in this area his entire mission. This is like his 5th month here.
Fogo...the volcano island of Cape Verde
Elder Dorff and trainer, Elder McKissick
 So after we got our assignments, we took another plane from Praia to Fogo where we had to stay the night because we couldn't´t get a ride to our area. We stayed in San Filipe for the night and then in the afternoon the next day we took a weird bus taxi to the other side of the island to Mosterios. I absolutely love it here! Some cool things here include that we are right on the beach. It is so pretty although we aren´t allowed to go onto the beach. It is like a desert here but it's not that hot. I am on the cool side of the island and it is much greener than it was in San Filipe. The people here are just plain amazing. I already feel a sincere love for them all and I can hardly speak the language (the creole doesn´t help me learn Portuguese). We didn´t get to teach many lessons because of how long it took us to get to Mosterios but we were able to have 2 people baptized! Kevin and Marta are 12 and 16 and have such strong faith. Elder McKissick got to do the baptisms in ocean. It was so cool. This week we are on track to have more people ready to be baptized.

Elder McKissick, Kevin, Marta and Elder Dorff

Missionaries are allowed only on the beach for a baptism. This shot is of  black sand beach.
 So one may think that there are many differences between the American and Cabo Verdeano cultures.... and well, there are. For one, if you say hi to someone they actually say hi back and you can just have a random conversation. Everyone is nice, even when angry at each other. Another thing is that a couple people here drink a lot and are tipsy at like 10 in the morning. Oh, something that is really cool is that you can look up at the sky and you see spiders hanging from webs that stretch across the street. I would say that the spiders are about the size of a computer mouse. They are pretty big but don´t bug people. Also the water, power, and internet love to shut off at just random times of the day, literally the internet has gone out twice since I have been writing this email and the power went out once. It´s always a short time though till everything is fixed. It feels great outside and its not that much like a desert.
Okay, so here are some things that are the same here. One, everyone loves their cell phones. Although they don´t have like smartphones, they text and call like crazy. Each companionship actually has a phone but it usually doesn't have minutes. They love a lot of American music here. We will be walking about at like... any hour actually and you can hear Rihanna, Chris Brown and other popular artists. Also, they have something here that I bet you weren´t expecting. They have peanut butter! Yes, that is right! I wont be starving over here anytime soon. But to be honest I actually really like the food over here. Some things don´t have much of a taste but others taste really good. My companion made us BBQ chicken with rice and it was awesome. I think that I am going to be alright over here. 
Dad, you will not believe how incredible the sunsets are. I love them and we are usually out and about during them. Now if only I took the time to actually snap a picture I could show you. Cami congratulations! Little Beckham is so cute. I wish I could see the kid in person sooner then in 2 years.
Oh, so just so everyone knows, you can still send me letters. Here  is the deal. Dear Elders and mail is sent to the mission office where it is stored until someone from our island goes to Praia and then comes back. Which means that it could take a long while for me to get them but I will get them eventually! We get to check and respond to as many emails as we have time for on Monday our P'day. So send me mail  or emails and I will respond. I promise. 
Let ´s see anything else I want to tell you. I feel like just having been here for a week, I have learned so much. I am still a new missionary, my teaching and speaking still show that but Í'm getting better. I love this Gospel and I know it is true. I really do. 
Love you all at home and those abroad on missions yourselves. Jordan congrats on your mission call to Ecuador! That is so awesome! You'll have to tell Nate Rosell congrats on the marriage too. So much seems to be happening all at once and when you stop and think about it all, it is crazy to think that Heavenly Father set it all out so that it would happen right at perfect time. 
Love you all and send many pictures and letters.

Elder Dorff