Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Letter dated 28 April 2014--Cape Verdean Birthday

Olá minha grande família e meus ótimos amigos!

So first off, thank you Mom, Dad, Evaly, Mark, Cami, Terri, and George for the birthday wishes! It was weird to think that I am 20... I feel old, but honestly still really young. Either way my day was a wonderful day! It was a purposely "colorful" day and started out with us going running. Well, as you know, I don't like running and my companion loves running (and he says that it is a necessity to run during our time in the office) so we went running. But because it was my birthday, and because I like taking beautiful pictures, we ran to the lighthouse in Praia and took some awesome photos. We hung out there for a little bit and then ran back to the house, showered, and studied a little bit. The morning was a normal morning except for the fact that I really didn't have all that much work to do, since my work was kind of slowed since President is out of town still.
For lunch, Elder Godfrey used the French recipe that he got from his last companion (who was French) and we made dinner and dessert crepes. Oh it was soooo good. And ironically, the dinner ones looked a lot like tacos, so it looks like the tradition of birthday tacos continues on.
My birthday crepes
 When we came back into the office to work, the senior missionary couple in charge of Seminary and Institute, Elder and Sister Campbell, wished me a happy birthday and then later came in with cookies with nutella and soda for everyone in the office to have a really tiny (but super awesome) birthday party. It was super nice of them and it was fun. Also, I am sending a photo of one of the members in Achada Grande who works for Distribution here in Praia. His name is Ivandro. He is a returned missionary and speaks super good English. He was in the office and he came to my "birthday party." Knowing that I love Coldplay, he played Viva La Vida on his phone for me and played it off like someone was calling him and that he wasn't going to answer! And then the day continued with teaching some sweet lessons and then ending with a night at King Burger (like the only place to get something that is similar to a hamburger) where we got some cake and shawarma. It was a memorable Cape Verdean birthday!
Photo of Ivandro and I
Sounds like Josh's wedding and Grandpa's birthday was a lot of fun and it sounds like everyone is still having fun! I wish I could be a part of it but the good thing is that I can plan on people sending me photos so I can enjoy all the celebrating. The picture of all the great grandkids is super weird to see. Everyone is going to be so old when I get back.
Besides my birthday, the week was pretty quiet.  I'm still adjusting and I'm not a big fan of the fact that I only get 2 1/2 hours working in my area. We are teaching a few people right now, mostly because everyone we found before is studying week nights (figuring we found them during the holidays) so this week will be directed to finding new people who can visit during the week.
The new district including Elder De Pina, Elder Halbleib, Elder Godfrey, me, Elder Heagney, Elder Otterstrom, Sister Webb, Sister Garcia, Sister Alvarado, Sister Teutau and Sister Mendes. 
Oh, I almost forgot about introducing my companion. My companion is Elder Godfrey and he is the Financial Secretary and he is from Cache Valley, Utah. He is one transfer younger than me so we are pretty similar when it comes to teaching, finding, and missionary work. He is a pretty bright Elder, with a good knowledge of the scriptures, and he is also very obedient. We're getting along good and are enjoying our time together.
So yeah, life is good. Right now all the Zone Leaders are in Praia for Leadership Council so you can bet that I will be enjoying the next few days that they are here staying in the AP house. Well, I love you lots and I hope that everything continues to go well there. I will talk to you all later!

Elder Brent Dorff

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Letter dated 21 April 2014--perks of mission home life & a chance re-encounter

Olá Família e Amigos,

Me hard at work

So, this last week was a week of hands on learning. It was a good week although I am pretty tired. So first of all, as mentioned in my last email, I am working in the Mission Office as the Mission Housing Coordinator. During this last week, I worked more with electric companies and housing contracts than I ever thought possible. It was especially interesting because the missionary I replaced didn't receive permission to stay here in the office for the transfer to train me on how to do this job. So I have been kind of figuring out this job as the days go on, but all is well. This week I discovered a couple of added bonuses of why this is the perfect time to enter the office. For one, during the hottest time of the day, during the hottest months of the year, I don't leave to go out to teach until 6pm which are the best hours for finding people at home to teach. I also get to work with some of the nicest Elders and Senior missionaries, and of course, have more conversations with President and Sister Oliveira. I live with the APs, Elder Otterstrom and Elder Heagney (he is from Australia) and they are awesome missionaries. Elder Otterstrom was my zone leader in Fogo when I started my mission so it is kind of fun to live in the same house as him a little before he heads home which is at the end of the transfer. I also get to talk to any missionary I want (when I am asking if they have a water barrel in their house) and hear from so many friends (usually if it is about house problems or the rare "I am afraid of my landlord" situations). It's not my perferred situation but I am convinced that I am meant to be here for very specific reasons.
One of those reasons was so I could work in this new area. The area that I am working in (but don't live in; it is a 30 minute walk) is called Bela Vista, or in English "Beautiful View." It's not the prettiest area itself but with the view you can see all of Praia. The members of this ward are so strong, especially my new best friend, Ailton. Get this. He is 19 years old, turning 20 on the 25th of April. Sound familiar? He is literally 3 hours younger than me and that math is counting the time difference. We have already planned a birthday party for the two of us. It should be a lot of fun. 
S & E's wedding

Also, yesterday we had a interesting encounter with someone. We were just walking along and we hear someone yell, "ELDER DORFF! WHAT'S UP!?" I turn around thinking, "I've been here for less than one week, who knows me?" A 16 year old boy comes up to me and we talked a little bit and I asked how he knew me. He related a story of how one time I had gone over to Paula and Paulina's house (2 of my baptisms) in Achada Grande Frente (like 4 or 5 months ago) and I had taught their family and he was there. He turned out to be Paula and Paulina's uncle. He told me how he was super excited to see me again and I asked if we could talk to him. We talked for a little bit about how he was doing and then we said a prayer. After the prayer, the feeling of the room changed, and I asked him what he remembered from that visit in Achada Grande and he recounted how I had shared 3 Nephi 13:31-34 with the family and how those scriptures sunk deep into his heart.
 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
 32 For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
 33 But aseek ye first the bkingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.
 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. aSufficient is the day unto the evil thereof.
After that day, he had gone to Church a couple of times with his nieces. By the end of the visit we had marked a date for his baptism. I hope to help him prepare for that day so that one more person of that family can enjoy the blessings of the Gospel. 
Baptism of Sandra and Junior

One more thing that happened this week. We had the New Missionary Orientation this past week; 4 new sisters and 1 new elder. As part of the Orientation I talked about taking care of the houses and not misusing mission phones. It was kind of a fun reminder of how it was for me almost a year ago when I received my orientation. 
Easter was pretty quiet this year but the purpose of it was the same. In reality, I probably had more of an opportunity to think about the real purpose of Christ and his mission. All I can say is that I know that He lives, and He is there for all of us. Don't turn His open helping hand down. Give up your pride, fall on your knees, and take upon yourself His load and he will help you with yours. That's what I am learning out here, and I am grateful for this ongoing lesson. 
Love you all, thanks for the birthday wishes, it should be a great one. Mom, the package still hasn't come (maybe the post office knows exactly when it is my birthday). Grandpa Luymes HAPPY 80th! I love you a lot and will be thinking about you all this week! And Josh and Brooklyn, I hope that the wedding is absolutely awesome! It will be a weekend of much celebration!
My new companion, Elder Godfrey

Love you lots!
Elder Brent Dorff (4 more days as a teenager, weird huh?)


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Letter dated 13 April 2014--An unexpected assignment

Oh freak... this week was... insane... unpredictable... and well, just not normal whatsoever. I have a lot to tell you and not too much time to tell it all.

So first of all, Tuesday, we had Zone Conference. It was super good and everyone that prepared and gave training did great. President Oliveira gave a great talk on the Sacrament and how it is because of the Sacrament that we have the commandment Day of the Lord. Mom, you might remember how I always said at home how Sunday always seemed like the busiest day of the week and not the "day of rest" that I was always hoping and expecting? Well, President said that too. He said, "Sunday isn't the day when we sleep, it is the day to save lives." It was powerful. 
Wednesday, was Elder Gonçalves' first transfer day, as he left that night for Brazil. Everyone seemed really sad to see him go. I was sad too. I really enjoyed serving with Elder Gonçalves. Before he left, my new companion, Elder Miranda arrived. He is from Praia so everywhere we went he knew somebody. 
Thursday was the day of the wedding of E and S! They were an hour and an half late but it was still a beautiful wedding and the cake was awesome. They had a "party" in their house and it was just funny to see S in her wedding dress serving fish and chicken. 
Saturday, we had our District Meeting and then enjoyed our zone lunch at our classic restaurant. Afterward, we came back home and relaxed for like 10 minutes and then left once again to go to the baptism, which also started an hour and half late. But S, and her son Junior were baptized and now we have another strong family in the Church.
Sunday, transfers. I want you to think about all the options that could have happened before you continue to read. Okay, ready? So pick the least expected. The one that I said had about . 01% chance of happening. Yep, I got transferred and you'll never guess where. Let's just say that I am typing on the computer in the mission office where I will be managing mission housing and health insurance from Tuesday to Friday, almost the whole working day! I'm sure I'll learn a lot but it doesn't feel like being a missionary.  I am serving with Elder Godfrey and it will be a change having a companion that speaks English as his first language. Next week I will talk to you about the new area, what my life's like and everything else.
This transfer I turn 20, it is Mother's Day (which means Skype phone call!), and it is my halfway mark in the mission. That's super weird. I love you all lots and talk to you later.

Elder Dorff

Monday, April 7, 2014

Letter dated 7 April 2014--Chef Dorff and General Conference

Olá família e amigos!

Can you believe it is April? It feels like just yesterday that I was taking finals at BYU for that Organic Chemistry class that I just loved so much... but who knew that the year would pass so quickly? 
This last week was pretty calm in the life of a missionary. I think that the most exciting part was probably all the stuff we did to help Elder Gonçalves get ready for his departure to Brazil this week. We literally ran all around Praia to pick up things sent by his parents. We went to Achada Grande twice because he needed something there. The people there were so excited to see me and they asked, "Are you coming back to Achada Grande Frente again?"  But yeah, Elder Goncalves leaves on Wednesday night and I am getting a new companion Wednesday morning who will finish out the transfer with me (which ends this Sunday so we won't be together for too long). So we will be a trio for like a couple of hours. 
So, look what I made! In the photo, this is me with my baked spaghetti, sausage, egg, veggie, and soon to be topped with ketchup and mayo. It's actually pretty good, but there's a ton of oil in it. And yes, I made it alone. Fun experiences on the mission.
My Cape Verdeano dish
That's fun that Dad was able to go up to Utah and it's exciting that Josh is geting all aready for his big wedding day. Sounds like everyone had a pretty exciting week. I figure that next week I will have more to say.
 Oh I forgot, the couple that got married this last week in Achada Grande Frente, came back form the Canaries and were baptized this last weekend during the break of the Saturday sessions of Conference. Speaking of Conference,  I saw Conference at the same exact time as you people (okay not the Priesthood but all the other ones live). They broadcast it live online and they have people translating it live too so we here in Africa were listening to it in Portuguese, just seconds after you heard it in English! There were a lot of talks on the Plan of Salvation and more specifically the Atonement. I think I counted like 3 Apostle talks on that topic. It was great and the main thing I got from it was that I want my investigators to have a better and real relationship with Christ. A lot of people say, "Yeah, I know that Christ is my Savior." or "He came to save us." But in reality, he came and did so much more. He really knows who we are, all of our strengths, and more important, our weaknesses and he suffered for us all so that we can change all of our weaknesses into strengths. We can have real happiness in this life because of everything he did for us! This is why we pray, read in the scriptures and partake of the sacrament! We want happiness in our lives and these things bring us closer to Christ and God, bringing us true joy. I liked Conference a lot and I'm bummed that I have to wait  another 6 months to hear them speak again... Oh well, it will be a good time to apply what was taught.
The Young Men of Achada Grande Frente at the Priesthood session
Well, I love you all and I hope that you have a good week. This week will be interesting with Zone Conference, my first companion switch, a wedding, potential baptism and then transfers. Just a sneak peak of what is my day to day life is. I love it so much! Well, talk to you later, and no Mom the package still hasn't arrived! 

My little lizard friend in the shower