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

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