Monday, June 23, 2014

Letter dated 23 June 2014---"Maos Que Ajudam" and another wonderful baptism

Hola minha família e meus amigos!

This week was so crazy! Like by far, one of the busiest ones of my mission. Before I get into it, I've got to send some birthdays wishes! HAPPY BIRTHDAY ADAM WYATT, MARK DORFF, and BECKHAM WYATT!  I am thinking of you a lot, as my planner is decorated for your birthdays. Also, I will be celebrating my 1 year in Cape Verde birthday on the 25th and celebrating Elder Godfrey's one year mark on the 26th. Then at the end of the week on the 28th, our wonderful Mission President and his wife will go home and we will receive our new Mission President. Lots of things are happening this next week so it sounds like it will be pretty crazy like this last one.
So, what about last week that made it so crazy you might ask? Well first of all, my office work shot way up for the week as I was working to close 2 houses (one of them being a with a very difficult landlord) and then having to start the process of closing another while trying to open a new house. Most of it is done except for the the opening of the new house and the closing of one house. I guess those are next weeks projects. 
We also had a miracle baptism. Her name is Jacira and she is our most recent convert. She is Manick's older sister. The reason why I say she was a miracle is because we had talked to her last Saturday (14th) and confirmed with her that she was going to Church the next day but she didn't go Then we didn't see her until Thursday (19th), On that day we spent all 3 hours of our teaching time talking to her. It was interesting because never before have I stayed in someone's house that long to talk with someone but for whatever reason, the Spirit just directed the entire conversation about the Plan of Salvation, the importance of baptism, the purpose of church, the power of Jesus Christ, the importance of agency and a whole bunch of other questions she had and ended up with her making the decision to be baptized. Elder Godfrey and I are happy for her. She even beat us to the Chapel for her baptism and there were so many members of the Church there for her. It was super good.
 Jacira's baptism
Also, we had the unique opportunity to be part of a Mãos Que Ajudam (Mormon Helping Hands) activity here in Cape Verde. We left Praia (first time in a while) and went to a mental rehabilitation hospital in the middle of nowhere. We went to the back fields and cleared out some trees and dead plants. It took like 3 hours or so and then after that we went to a ceremony to present our work. It was a lot of fun but everyone was dead tired because of the oversized yard work. 
Service Group (at least some of us)
Elders Ernst and Taulbee and me
It took the fact that the kids here in Cape Verde are out of school to realize that everyone at home is also out of school! Not only that, but BYU is going into Summer Term already (which is where I will be in a year). The other day I picked up a piece of paper with a formula on it and I looked at for like 5 minutes completely stumped what it was used for, let alone it's name. After a while, I realized (with the help of my also stumped companion) that it was the quadratic formula, the one used for basic algebra. Maybe I am just a nerd or something but it is kind of disturbing to me that I didn't remember a basic math formula as a Chemical Engineering major. Well, I guess that is life as a missionary. I have some serious studying to do when I get back. 
So, the World Cup is crazy here. Thus far, my 2 teams (Germany and the Netherlands) have done pretty good. The Portuguese Elder in my house didn't want to talk to me the night when Portugal lost to Germany. Almost everyone is watching every game which means that a lot of times we are interrupting people's viewing time. I'm just glad that not all our investigators are soccer fans.
City Shot of Praia from Bela Vista
Well, that is life in a nutshell. Glad to hear that everything is going good at home. I keep Claire and all of you in my prayers. :)
Oh, one more thing that made me happy this week. I found out that our upstairs neighbor has all the Coldplay CDs and without fail, he plays one in it's entirety everyday. That's a nice little thing to enjoy once in a while as I polish my shoes. 
Love you all and talk to you next week. 
Elder Brent Dorff :)


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Letter dated 16 June 2014--About sacrifice, World Cup fans..and goats?

Oi minha família e meus amigos!

So I love how some of you have started the countdown for me. Yes, yesterday I hit 13 months in the mission, which means that I only get 11 months more of the best work in the world! It's weird, but not as weird for the people who "die" next week (we lose 8 missionaries and a mission president and his wife at the end of next week). So, as you can imagine the mission is preparing for the change. 
This week was a good week in the mission field. It was a week of landlord battling, house closures, and just normal work in the office. Right now, I am at war with one of the other secretaries, because he was born and raised to not like BYU. We are always messing with each other about BYU. Just a little entertainment for the work day.
This last week was interesting in Bela Vista, mostly because there were so many parties. You would think that because Cape Verde was disqualified from the World Cup (they had a player with a red card play) that they wouldn't be as into watching it. Oh forget that. Everyone, their Praia dog, and their goat are watching the games! And with a game starting every 3 hours, it is making it a little harder to teach (imagine it is the same in other countries). Everyone seems to be a fan of Brazil or Portugal or Argentina or Italy or they are part of the "Team Africa must win" movement. I catch a little bit of the action as I pass from house to house. To add the craziness, everyone is having parties where some people are getting a little hammered. That was basically my teaching experience for the week. 
Although, we were really blessed to have found a couple of new investigators this last week. We have many more investigators with baptismal dates and that are progressing towards baptism. The biggest obstacle seems to be going to church. Our church is a solid 20 minute walk away from our area, which wouldn't be a big problem except that in Bela Vista, water only enters the town on Sunday morning. That means, everyone is fetching water, washing clothes/dishes, cleaning their houses, taking showers, and storing water for the next week, all right before Church. The members here make a huge sacrifice every week, as they go to other towns for water on other days, or leave to pick up water at like 4:30 Sunday morning, so they don't have to miss a minute of church at 9. Talk about sacrifice... I was thinking about it the other day and I realized that that is the reason why the members who have had more time in the church have such great faith; because of their great sacrifices, they know that God will bless them in times of need, so they act more with their faith. I liked how Joseph Smith said (not a direct quotation) that when something is of God, and it is true, it requires some sort of sacrifice to keep it. When we have that conviction that this Gospel is true, we will also have the willingness to sacrifice all of we have to defend it, preach it, and stand for it. But, in the end it isn't much of a sacrifice, because we always receive more than we give. That's what I want to help more people here understand. (Looking back at what I wrote, my focus switched a lot. Reminds me how visits go, but they always link back to helping the person come closer to Christ).
Ivandro's baptism
Well, I think that is about it. Evandro, my office friend, just got moved into the soon to be opened Cape Verde Distribution Office so I don't get to see very much of him any more. Good thing we got a few pictures before he was moved. I have attached the photo of Ivandro, a recent convert, with this letter, seeing that I forgot my camera last week. Also, a couple that I was working with in Achada Grande, but then moved out of my area, was married and baptized this last week. Here is the photo of the happy couple.
Also I figured that a nice Harrison Ford look-alike photo with a Brazilian Elder's vest would be kind of fun to send home too. Love you all a lot and I will talk to you soon!

-Elder Brent Dorff

P.S. McKell is going into Junior High! What!? What happened to the little girl that I used to tell paint stories too?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Letter dated 9 June 2014--A cool baptism & a little bit of Africa

Olá família e amigos!

I am happy to hear how everyone is doing this week. It sounds like it was a nice end to some vacations and that people are getting back into the day-to-day normal life work or mission work. Also apparently Reina got married? When was the wedding originally planned because I remember hearing that she was getting married and then the next thing I know, she was already married. Either way, Congrats Reina!
 This week was great! We were truly blessed this week as we started it without a baptism and then ended it with someone being baptized. So the story goes like this. Saturday (the 31st), we tell the District Leaders that we are going to contact a reference that they gave us and look for a baptism. Sunday morning, we called and invited him to Church. His name is Ivandro and he accepts and finds us without any problem and we go to Church. He explained to us how he had already been taught by the Sisters (thank you Sisters!) but that he had had appendicitis and wasn't baptized. Monday, Family Night. Tuesday, we had a lesson with him and scheduled him to be baptized the 14th. We told him to pray to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet. Wednesday, He prayed and relayed to us a very special confirmation and we were impressed to move his date to the 7th. After learning that he shouldn't have earrings or a lip piercing, he swiftly removed them and threw them out of the house. It was pretty cool. Thursday, interview preparation day. Friday, interview. Saturday, baptism. Sunday, confirmation. 1 week. I feel like it is for these situations that we talk to everyone because you never know who has been prepared by the Lord to be baptized. Ivandro is very nice and he has a lot of friends in our area and other neighboring areas, whom he wants us to talk to. I'm excited :)
Something else that is kind of fun is that 2 recent converts from Achada Grande Frente (Paula and Paulina) are living in Bela Vista. We were walking and all of the sudden there were these 2 girls running up to me all excited. It was fun to catch up with them a little bit. 
Landlords are tough... mostly because they sign contracts then bring up problems with the contract. It just takes a lot of time to worry about everything. Looks like I am gaining lots of experience with rental contracts. We have a landlord coming in tomorrow to the office to fight with (notice I didn't say "talk to") President Oliveira, Ivandro and I. It should be fun.
Also this week I participated in some very African activities in terms of service, like carrying fetched water to people's houses, filling up water tanks inside the house with that fetched water, and also carrying the things that a member sells... on my head! It is easier, and more comfortable, then it looks. It was fun. 
It was a good week. Sorry, I don't feel like I have too much more to write this week, but I promise that I will take more pictures and have more to write this next week. Love you a ton!

Your Elder Brent Dorff :)


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Letter dated 2 June 2014--sorry, late posting on this one!

Oh my gosh! It is already JUNE! Can you believe that minha família e meus amigos?! The time is passing by so quickly and it is absolutely crazy.
So Mom, I have some super great news for you. Yes, the package arrived (This is mom writing... yeah, that small package took 3 months to arrive and $80 to mail. Can I just say, how crazy is that?!!) and I am very happy (okay, maybe its all worth it!). I am just going to enjoy some valentines day chocolates (M&Ms and mint cookies, sweet!) and my BYU shopping bag (which I have already used to do errands today) and my tabs (which look nice in my planner) and of course my pillow case has already been changed so now I got a feeling that all my dreams at night will be "trunky" thoughts about school after the mission. But let's be honest, I love it and thank you so much!
So in the missionary world, we really didn't teach a bunch this week. Why? Because we didn't leave the office until like 7pm every day, which after making the 30 minute hike to Bela Vista, we only had an hour before we had to walk back. So because of that, Elder Godfrey and I are reevaluating the work that we are doing and have a new plan to make the members a greater part of our teaching since, in reality, it will be their responsibility to integrate new members into the ward after we have left. So we have been setting goals and everything to get members more involved in the work.
On Saturday, the Primary General President, Rosemary M. Wixom, and the 2nd Counselor of the General Relief Society, Linda S. Reeves, came here to Cape Verde and did a series of devotionals for the members here. It was actually kind of fun how I got to see a couple of members from Fogo again. We only had time to go to one of the them, and even that one we only could stay for half of it, but we heard Sister Wixom talk to the members about the importance of learning and teaching in the home. She talked about how what we learn as kids from our parents determine how we make some of our decisions. It is a lot easier for kids to think about breaking commandments, "Must not be that bad, my parents are doing it, I can too and it won't change a thing." But we all know that is a lie. The things we do (whether we feel like it will only affect us or not) always have an effect on someone else. I have seen the damage that has been done with this type of thinking here. It is just another way Satan is attacking the family, a creation of our Heavenly Father. Needless to say, that within our time listening to those talks, while thinking about the needs of my investigators, I thought about my desires for myself and my future family.
So last but not least, I want to share an experience I had yesterday. Like I had mentioned, we haven't had much luck in teaching due to our time. Well, the other Elders had given us a reference like a week ago and we still hadn't had time to make a contact with her but last night we had 10 minutes and we were determined to talk to her. Our little referral turned into an 1 hour and 30 minute search all over our area as the way she had explained where she lived was super unclear. We were walking around, asking everyone if they knew her and at some point we were just kind of annoyed that we couldn't find her. We had already asked if she could meet us at a nearby store but she said that her daughter was sleeping and couldn't leave the house. Eventually we were talking to one another trying to figure out if we should continue our search or if we should just go to our marked appointment but for whatever reason, we decided to keep searching until we found her house (we were helped by one of our other investigators). Her name is Mila and the funny thing is that we had been in her house before. We had taught her cousin and his wife in her house while she was at work. The visit was very comfortable and it was obvious that she was interested in what we had to say. At the end of the visit she accepted a baptismal date with joy. It was a blessing for us, especially to finish off the week like this one. We had missed all of our other appointments because of the search and the visit itself but to be honest I feel like that was the visit that the Spirit wanted us to make, because He was there. 
Well, another great week has passed and a new one is about to begin. This week 2 more Elders go home and they will definitely be missed. That is the weird thing about being in the office. Everyone passes your door or house before they leave the country. 
All you people take care and have a good week too!

Elder Brent Dorff :)
Living the Dream... Life in Technicolor! (Coldplay shout out)
No one can accuse this Elder of not having a sense of humor! We've vacationed in Europe and have been sending him pictures of Gothic and Romanesque cathedrals and the like. In reply, he sent us this picture of some Cape Verdean architecture!