Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Letter dated 31 December 2013--Christmas!

Oi Família e Amigos!
Who's ready for 2014? Well, I know that every person in Cabo Verde has a plan to party all day of the last and the first day of the new year! There goes any teaching but hopefully we can still go out and talk to people. Maybe go visit some of the members on this special day.
So, this last week was crazy with everything. First off, on Monday, we had our Branch Christmas Party and it was so much fun. It started off with a nice spiritual thought by the Branch Mission Leader (who is a returned missionary) and then a gift exchange. They did the exchange by everyone putting in their name and then took out a name and bought a present for that person. I had the Primary President and I decided since they don't get too into the celebration of Christmas beyond lunch with the family, I got her some bright red and green nail polish. Well, after the spiritual thought, we had to give hints as to who our person was and then everyone guessed. Of course, the very first person to do this had my name so I went up and got my gift. Wow, it was nice. It was a really nice purple tie, with a matching pocket insert and cufflinks. Don't know that I can wear that during the mission but there are always events after the mission. After the gift exchange, we ate so much food. It was great!
Christmas party with the Branch
Christmas Eve was fun too. We couldn't really teach people because everyone was out partying, but we did go out and carol and bring a little Spirit of Natal with us. We went to our recent converts and to our investigators and it was so great. One lady was like, "Can you come with me to these friends and sing to them too?" We were like, "Of course!" It was a lot of fun and we found a lot of new people to talk to.

Christmas Day. Well, I think everyone know what was the highlight of that day. It was a lot of fun talking to everyone at home and hearing how everyone is doing in their own voices. It was great and I am looking forward to Mother's Day!
When we asked Brent what he would be eating on Christmas Day he hesitated and then said, "Fancy rice and beans!" And here it is, Christmas Dinner!
The wonderful family who had the missionaries over for Christmas dinner; Jo, Andre and their Mom

 The rest of the week was spent recovering from the joy of Christmas Day and ended with a great day at Church. A lot of things are happening here in Achada Grande, both in the world and with the work. People everywhere are preparing for the new year and because of that many people don't really want to talk to us but the people who are truly ready and are dedicated are showing that dedication by marking appointments with us. I'm excited for everything this next week.

Sunset in Cape Verde
Sounds like Jenessa's Wedding was awesome and made this Christmas a little bit more special for the family. Congrats Jenessa and Parker! Well, I love you all. Talk to you soon and have a Happy New Year!

Elder Dorff


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Letter dated 24 December 2013---FELIZ NATAL!

FELIZ NATAL para minha família e amigos!

How is everyone doing? Everyone is super excited for Christmas because I know that the about 120 missionaries here in Cabo Verde are so excited. Everyone is freaking out about how they are going to talk to their families. I am happy for my opportunity to talk to my family (okay, lets be honest, I am really excited for the day). If you knew me before my mission, you would know that my favorite part about Christmas was the fact that the family can be together. So, Wednesday will be a great day. But for all of you going to Knott's tomorrow, I better see some Bigfoot Rapids pictures from you (specifically on the ride getting soaked). 
So, this last week was a good week. A lot of Elders have been sick and because of that we did a lot of divisions and not every area saw much work. We had a good week and thankfully neither Elder Conduanhe or I have been hit by this cold/flu thing (knock on wood). I don't have all that much news about this week, just that we are working hard and trying to be excited about Christmas but also still thinking about the work. It's really not hard to think of all the things that I would do for Christmas. Dad, that photo of the Christmas tree... Made me so happy. My little one is awesome (and its even better now that I bought $2 lights) but there is nothing classic like our one with my Pikachu ornament.
Well, I figure since it is Christmas, I should say a little about what it is like here. Everyone has told me that this entire week will be impossible to teach because of parties, drinking and everything going on though the missionaries say that I will still be working this week. Why, you might ask? Because it is the time for Christ (well, in reality everyday is a day for Christ). He was willing to submit to the will of the Father and was sent to here to fulfill a great mission. It wasn't an easy one. It was one that he prepared for many years before he began. It was one of love, sacrifices, and everything he did was for others. He did all this to save the lives of all God's children. In one way, full time missions are similiar but on a much smaller scale. We don't go through the pain and suffering that he went through for each of us, but the principle is similar. We give part of lives to serve the Lord, to help others learn about the Gospel. We knowingly, or unknowingly, prepared for this our whole young lives and now we are all over the world talking to people about the mission of the Savior. I love it. It is such a great opportunity to serve. I know that Jesus Christ was and is our Savior. He knows about each one of us and he wants to help us everyday. We've just got to open up a little bit to His help and seriously, everything will be better. Remember, there will be times when we feel like we have nothing and have no one but remember that is a lie. We always have a helping hand in Him. 
Well, I think I will end there. Talk to you all soon! 

Elder Dorff :)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Special baptisms and some partyin' missionaries

Oi minha família e meus amigos!

Well, can you believe it, I have been out for 7 months! And Christmas is in 9 days! As you can imagine, I am a little excited but let's be honest, I am not the only one. 
So, this week was a wonderful and full. This week had a lot of difficulties but also a lot of miracles. One thing that made this week difficult was the fact that Elder Conduanhe was sick for a couple of days. It's really hard to work when you aren't feeling up to moving. So, because of that and because other Elders have been sick, we have been doing a lot of divisions so that the work can continue in all of our areas. 
But we were blessed with the opportunity to have had 2 baptisms this week. They were kind of unexpected because they are young; Paula (age 12) and Paulina (age 11). So their story is this: their parents have been investigating the Church for a long time... the Elders before us were teaching them. They want to be married so bad but at this point aren't willing to make certain sacrifices to do so. Well, all of the sudden their 3 kids got super interested in the Church and started going without their parents. This last Sunday they said to me that they wanted to be baptized. The youngest of the 3 is only 7 so he has to wait but the oldest 2 are ready and were baptized. It was so cool to see them be baptized and I hope that they can help their parents understand the blessings of the gospel.
Baptism of Paula and Paulina (little brother Zenilson)
So like I said, Christmas is in 9 days! Because of that, we had our Ilha de Santiago Christmas Party and that was a blast! It was only 4 hours long and was during our study and lunch time but it was still super awesome. All the missionaries that were here in Praia, Assomada, and Terrafal came to the party. It started with us going to one of the chapels here and we heard from President Oliveira. He talked a lot about the importance of Christ and the Atonement and about how that is the real purpose of why we give gifts for Christmas. Christ gave us the greatest gift of all. After that, we got to hear a little of the Christmas Devotional and that was cool. I had to translate for Elder Conduanhe which was interesting but possible. After that we had an awesome lunch with everything homecooked and it was just super good. After that we broke up into districts and we went caroling. To be honest, it didn't feel the same as when I did it with my friends in Placentia but it was still super fun. We found some new people to teach and spread a little bit of Christmas cheer. After that, we came back and had a whole bunch of cake. It was super good. We got to go and sing for kids in a school and other places. We then were all together again and we sang for everyone else and talked about our experiences. Afterward, we all hung around eating more cake and taking a bunch of photos. It was a lot of fun and it was great to see so many people that I knew in the MTC and in Fogo. 
Being cool!
Well, I am certainly enjoying my time here and as the Christmas season arrives, things are getting a little more hectic with the people. Everyone here is prepping for family but not like you are Mom. They are repainting, fixing, and some cases, demolishing and then reconstructing their entire house (made of cement blocks). It's pretty crazy... 
Achada Grande
 Então, I love you all and I hope that everyone has a great week of Finals, Christmas Prep, and the craziness of the season! I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior. I am grateful for his sacrifice that he did for me so that I can live with my Heavenly Father again. I am grateful for my opportunity to sacrifice these two years to help others learn about Heavenly Father's plan.
 Praia Beach, where a baptism was held

Elder Brent Dorff



Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Letter dated 9 December 2013--Power of prayer and home for the holidays in Cape Verde

Olá todo mundo,
Well, it was a wonderful week here in Cabo Verde. First of all, let me say to you all that I loved the recordings! Mom, I got the recordings you sent over email and they made me so happy. It was great to hear everyone's voice and it is time that I answer a few questions. Aunt Sandi, thanks for sending the letter but to tell you the truth I never got it! Hence why I never said anything. I heard that this has happened before. I don't know if Grandpa has been sending letters these past few months but if so I just barely got one of his letters and it is dated for the month of October. I don't know if he has a sent any others but tell him thanks for the picture of him and Grandma! Josh, it took me a second to realize what OChem2 meant. I am looking forward to having to work on that stuff again. Fun fact, the 500 escudo bill has NH3 on it (like a picture of the chemical structure). Super random I know. Jenessa, I am super excited for you and I hope that I make the invite list. I will do my best to attend but I might be a little occupied "at the beach." I am sure that dinner was wonderful (since everyone made a comment about how great the rolls were, just as I was expecting and wanting to hear). I loved the beautiful rendition of Silent Night. I've decided I want to try and get that on our phone so I can make it my ringtone :) But seriously, it was great to hear from everyone and I hope that I will hear more of that kind of stuff. Thanks also for all the updates and photos from the Hansons, Dorffs and Wyatts. You really don't know how happy it makes me to see you all (well, I think that Nathan, Mark, and Adam understand). Everyone is looking so much older and it is so weird to think that there is that much snow in Utah right now. Granted, I remember this time of year being like that so it's not all that strange (but it's in the 80's here). 
So okay, I guess I will talk a little about the mission. Really everything here is great. Transfers were today and I am staying with Elder Conduanhe for the next 6 weeks. It should be really fun. He is super quiet and so we are working on communication but everything is great. I absolutely love it. Right now we are working on our list of people we are working with. We have many people that like to talk about God but don't want to do anything that will bring them closer to him (like pray, read the scriptures, go to church, etc.) I think that is something the Bible explains really well, "Faith without works is dead." It really is true. We do though, have many great investigators. One of them is super awesome. His name is Adil (when he first said his name I thought he said Adele and I got super excited). He is a friend of Cristiano, one of the two people we baptized last week, and it is because of Cristiano he doing so good. We taught him about Joseph Smith and gave him an invitation to ask God if it was true. Cristiano then bore a super powerful testimony about the importance of praying with faith to really know the truth and I think that helped a lot because the next time we talked with Adil, he was completely different and he told us that he knew without a doubt the Church is true and that he wants to baptized immediately (and he has never been to Church). His baptism is in the plans. But seriously, it is just a testimony builder to me that the example of the members help make miracles happen. Like Preach My Gospel says, no effort with missionary work is ever a waste of time. 
Well, I love you all and I hope that everything is getting prepped for the holidays. Thanks to members we have some Church Christmas Music and one of the songs on there was "Home for the Holidays." I thought for sure I would feel super sad and trunky after hearing it but honestly it just made me happy. I have nothing to be sad about because I am home for the holidays; its just with a different family. And I am excited to talk to you all in 16 days (thats in 2 more emails :) ). Most definitely will be over Skype, Dad.

                                                                  Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards Men,
                                                                    Gospel for All who will lend an Ear.

Elder Dorff :) 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Letter dated 2 December 2013--Two baptisms!

Oi Família e Amigos!
This week I have a lot of things to say and not much time to say it all! So, first news of the this week is that we had a baptism, for 2 people! So, as a District we made a goal that everyone in the District would have a baptism on the 30th and we all achieved that. Not only that but in total, Praia had 35 baptisms this last week. The Church here is exploding. But more about the two I actually had a part in helping.
So, first one is a girl named Ro. She was a reference from the branch. She has been coming to Church for weeks because her boyfriend is the secretary of the branch. She has 2 little girls and is very busy with work and school. When we first talked to her, she was super excited and was super interested in the Church. But we know Satan, and he just hit her with everything and she was really stressed out with family, school and work (she does hair right now). But with thanks for the help of the Relief Society, the Branch President, and her boyfriend she was able to rekindle her excitement for baptism and she was baptized. Also, I think that there is a wedding in the Church being planned now :)
The other person is named Cristiano. We found him, or I guess I should say he found us, while we were teaching another investigator. He literally walked into her house and told us, "I went to your church 7 years ago with my uncle and I want to be baptized." So we started to teach him and he just accepted everything super quick. He quit alcohol like it was nothing and committed to living everything. One day while we were teaching him, we asked if he had any questions and his question was, "How do you become an Elder? I feel like that is my purpose in life; to serve a mission." We were so shocked. But he was so excited and he was just so ready to be baptized. A miracle happened  on the day of his baptism also. Like I mentioned before, he went to Church before with his uncle. Well, the day of the baptism just happened to be the day where Branch Presidents were being interviewed and his uncle ( a Branch President on the other side of the Island) was in town. So, we get to church and Cristiano leaves us and runs up to some random man. It turned out to be his uncle. What a great moment for his uncle to be there to watch and support him on his special day. It was so great and I am so happy for him and Ro. They are both going to help out a ton with the missionary work here. I am super excited!
Other news, we did our move last Thursday. All I can really say about that is that I hope when I get home, I don't have to move everything like I did here in Achada Grande. It took all day and wasn't the most fun way to spend Thanksgiving. Although I am grateful for the fact that I now live in a house with water that doesn't go out, like forever! Thats a great blessing. We live with the other Elders of Achada Grande and it's been pretty good. We are still trying to figure out a couple things like where to put stuff but it's nothing we can't handle. We are living with Elder Gooch and Elder Jarvis, should anyone want to know.
In other news, we are working a lot with members to find new investigators. We are finding a lot of people who are preparing to be baptized this month. Problem is, that a lot of them have to be married first and for a lot of people here, that is a deal breaker. We are also working a lot with less actives, trying to get them come back to Church. We have been working the Primary President of our Branch a lot because her family (husband and children) are all less active. This last week the husband came to Church and she was just so happy. Now it is our hope to get the kids to come too.
Well, things are super good here. Everyone is getting excited to Skype home for Christmas though. Our Zone Leader's house is decked out with Christmas stuff. Nothing says "trunky" like a bunch of Christmas decorations. I guess I can't really talk... a member gave a me a Christmas tree :)
Love you and talk to you soon!

Well, I was considering sending him this absolutely adorable personalized Christmas stocking that a family in our ward gave us with the following note:
There is no place like home for the Holidays...
So the song says, but for Missionaries of The church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints there is no better place to celebrate the Savior's birth than right where they are, teaching His Gospel.
Missionaries leave their families for a time so that those they teach can have their families for all time.
But...I don't want to make him homesick so I'll gladly hang it here, grateful as always to have a missionary serving the Lord!
Elder Dorff

The computer won't let me send photos. Next week I will send muitos (many)!