Sunday, August 31, 2014

Letters dated 25 August and also 18 August 2014

Oi minha família e meus amigos!                                                   August 25, 2014

This week was a very busy week. I am so tired, but happy. Probably the thing that brought all the work was related to transfers. First of all, I am still in the process of arranging a new house for a companionship. I've also been working on training the Muhlesteins and Elder Campbell to take over my work. Also, we had 14 new missionaries (it was so many) and almost all of their trainers were here in Praia for 2 days getting trained, interviewed and everything else. It was crazy but it looks like a good group of new missionaries. It occurred to me that when these Elders are hitting their 9-10 month mark, I will be getting on a plane to America. It makes me realize how old I am getting in the mission and makes me realize that I don't have too much time left to enjoy this (okay, it's still a lot of time, but it makes me sad to think that it is passing so quickly). 
This week was a rougher missionary work week, but you know what that means. We found several people, taught a couple of people, and found a couple of star investigators that accepted dates. It was one of those, "recognize the many blessings, and don't let the work get you down." 
It was also a good week for our companionship (Elder Godfrey and I). This last week we gave a training during District Meeting about the doctrine of Christ (focusing on repentance) but seeing that we've already had 4 trainings just during this last month on that, we talked about our missionary purpose in helping others come unto Christ. I think that Alma 42:31 explains well what we are doing. It says, "And now, O my son, ye are called of God to preach the word unto this people. And now, my son, go thy way, declare the word with truth and soberness, that thou mayest bring souls unto repentance, that the great plan of mercy may have claim upon them." Afterwards, we talked about the importance of invites in relation to helping people repent. It went well and I feel like I learned something from it. 
So, one last experience. In the MTC, our teachers told us many times that there would people who would take the things we gave them, study them, and then find completely unrelated scriptures to try and prove us wrong. It is "Bible Bashing," as most people call it. Well, we had that situation this week. She was someone we met on the the road. She made it very apparent that she was an active member of her faith but she accepted the Restoration Pamphlet. When we came back two days later, we asked her if she had any questions about what she read in the pamphlet (she said she had read the entire thing) and she told us that she was just going to let us talk for a little while. Once we got to the very first main point of the visit, she started asking all these questions like, "Who was the first prophet?", "Where's the proof that a prophet can talk to God?", and other things. We tried to answer her questions but then a friend of hers showed up and you could tell he was even more dedicated to his faith. He grabbed her Bible and just started trying to rip apart that prophets exist, and everything else. We decided to just stop the lesson rather than battle with scriptures. Elder Godfrey shared a powerful testimony about how he learned it was all true and then I shared Moroni 7:37, which says, in relation to miracles: "For it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased woe be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain." I shared how faith is to not always have physical proof, but still in our hearts, we can know that these things are true. And no argument, even founded by the scriptures, can shake a testimony received by the Holy Ghost. By the end, we had invited them to pray and receive the testimony for themselves. After we had parted, Elder Godfrey and I talked about how although the man seemed unchanged by the things that were said, the lady, seemed to have changed in demeanor. She might not have the desire to hear now, but maybe in the future, she might just have enough to desire to nourish that little seed and find out if it is true. 
It was a good week but it's during these types of weeks where I learn how great is the heat of the refiner's fire. Nevertheless, I am thankful for this last week. And I know that this next week will be even better :)
I love you all! I am thinking about you and praying for your welfare. Claire, I hope that you are doing better. I am thinking of you and your family! Talk to you all soon! Enjoy the start up of school this week!

Tchão, Tchão for now!
Elder Brent Dorff
 Me with some of the members here. We all used to be together but then wards divided and now none of them are in my ward. That is life!
Oi minha família e meus amigos!                                                           August 18, 2014

Another tiring week has passed, but not without showing many fruits of the Lord's hand being a part of the work. Glad to hear that for the most part, it was a good week of vacations and preparations for the next school/seminary year. Just think, next Fall I will have already returned to the Y. Oh, the 9 months are going to pass too quick!
Well, there are many reasons why this week was challenging but one of them is that we started training the new Missionary Couple how to do our jobs. Their names are Elder and Sister Muhlestein and they just arrived here, about 2 weeks ago. After a week of rest, getting everything done on their house, Elder Godfrey has started training Elder Muhlestein and I have started training Elder Campbell and Sister Muhlestein. It appears that our jobs will be spread out between both couples in the office, so that the couples can render their talents to the wards. It was a good first week of training and I know that they will be able to do everything without us here in a little while. 
Another reason was that we had a baptism! His name is L and he is the ex-husband of our recent convert I. They have one son together. We actually ended up meeting him and started teaching him during I's baptismal interview. He is a car mechanic that works out of the garage beneath his house. He is actually from Santo Antão by birth (moved when he was like 9, but he still knows how to speak Creole from Santo Antão. Because of him, I now would like to visit there.) but now his whole family lives in Praia. He was so clearly prepared by the Lord. Only 3 months ago, he was a heavy drinker (which is why our convert refused marriage with him) but then he was involved in a major accident. Realizing that his life, family, and everything meant more than the habits he had acquired, he stopped completely, without drinking since the accident. He had never gone to a church before and therefore also never understood the importance of baptism. But after he went the first time with I, their little son, and family, he said that he loved it and would be coming every week. And he has. In the end, he decided to have Elder Godfrey baptism him, which was cool because this was the first time Elder Godfrey had a chance to preform the ordinance. So it was special for the both of them. We are very happy for L and have already talked with him and his ex-wife about the possibility of even getting remarried.
Yes, transfers were last night, yes, I am going on transfer 4 as Elder Godfrey's companion. No, I am not sure if I will be spending the whole transfer as a secretary (I would assume not), and no, I still don't know if I am moving to the new ward. Apparently, not only was the timing of the creation of the new ward unexpected but also the actual boundary lines as well. So we are trying to work both sides of our area. It makes it a little bit harder because we don't know which investigators will stay ours. Also, because we still are the Elders of Ala 1, we can't help our investigators of the other side go to church (because it's in a different building at almost the same exact time). I guess we shall see what ends up happening. 
One more cool experience that happened yesterday. We were walking to one of our investigators houses but on the way there, we saw him sitting with some less active members. We decided to just sit and relax with them (they were just seated on a little wall on top of a hill overlooking the rest of town). We started talking, and then all of the sudden the subject turned to the Church (this usually happens, but this time it was not initiated by us) and one of the less active members said that God had lost control of the world and that he doesn't send angels to help his children anymore. After hearing that, both Elder Godfrey and I turned to different passages in the Book of Mormon where it talks about how God always and forever will send his angels to help us stay strong in the midst of trial and hardship. In the end, that man gave an earnest prayer where he thanked our Heavenly Father for the guidance and light that the scriptures gave him. The Book of Mormon, and the Bible, and all other scripture, does that. They are prepared to answer those questions of the heart. It is when we study with those questions that we really feel the Spirit touch our heart that the scriptures are true. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. That testimony is reaffirmed every day.
I love you all a lot. Nathan HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY, and just so you know I didn't forget that your birthday was 16 days ago. I wrote it in my planner but I definitely forgot to email you those birthday wishes so you'll have to excuse me! 
Until I email again :)

Elder Brent Dorff


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Letter dated 11 August 2014--Gina's baptism and ward split


I am glad to hear that everyone seems to be active and happy, boy, do I have a lot to say today. I feel like that is just my life right now; waves of exciting weeks and waves of not-much-going-on weeks. But this one was definitely one of the more exciting ones. It has to be because on the 15th of this week, I will only have 9 months until I go home. What a crazy thought!?
So, I think that I will start with some spiritual thoughts from what I got from Zone Conference this last week. It was a great conference! The main topic seemed to be on receiving personal revelation for the work and for our lives. We learned a lot about how the morning hours make a great difference in how we will work during the day. I think that one of my favorite parts about Zone Conference was given by the Sister Mathews. She shared an experience that her daughter had while seeking for revelation for who should be her counselors in the Laurel Presidency. At the end of the story, it turned out the person who she was guided to was praying for a sign that God loved her and had confidence in her. The final comment made in the story was, "Isn't it amazing when we let the Lord run His Church" (or Mission)? This whole last week I learned a lot about accepting the Lord's will over my own and letting Him really guide His Work. I have discovered that the more willing I am to do that, I find myself having more patience, more love, and more humility during the work. It really was an inspired Conference. 
The Town of Futon Kobom (the valley that has greenery and the ocean is in the background)
This last week, Elder Godfrey and I were spoiled by having dinner with two of the Missionary couples, the Campbells and the Thompsons. It was very nice of them to do that and the cooking was great! During those lunches, it felt like we left Africa for a little bit.
So, this last Saturday we had baptism! Her name is Gina and she is 69! Her story is very interesting. Remember a couple of weeks ago when I took the new missionaries out teaching with me? Well, we walked around for a little while trying to get a member to teach with us and to find someone to teach,. Eventually we were walking past a house of a person that we had received as a reference. The question was, a reference from who? So, go even further back when I was in Bela Vista. Remember Jacira and Manick who got baptized... well, everyone in that family is a member except their brother who lives in my current area. So I was like, "Let's go try there." So we walked over, and as I went up to the door, we learned that the brother wasn't there so I started talking to the kids and then this old lady came out and told me that this was a religious house (didn't specify which one) and that they weren't interested. I asked her what her name was and came to discover that Gina is the grandma of Jacira and Manick! So naturally, I took out the family picture that I had taken of Jacira, Manick, and family (which I had conveniently printed out) and told her how much I loved her family. She saw the picture and she was like, "My grandkids! My daughter! Elders, come on in!" We came in and we taught her. In later visits, when it was just her at home, we were thinking that she wasn't understanding what we were saying (which was true) but when we asked her to pray, she gave the most fervent and sincere prayer that I think I have had an investigator give. She gave it super quiet too. Thankfully, we have many members that live around her and were able to translate everything for us. After many weeks of teaching, she came to Church, fell in love with what she was learning and she was baptized. None of her family was able to make it to the baptism, but afterward, I took the liberty of taking a picture of her with some of her youngest grandkids. They are so funny, because they see her walking up in the distance and they come running up to her, yelling and chanting "Vo, Vo!" (Avo is grandma in Portuguese). Such an awesome family. 
Palmarejo Neighborhood (where our house is, on the left and yellow)
More news... Ala 1, the ward that I serving in, just split up. Half of it will remain in Ala 1, the other half will make up part of the new Ala Palmarejo 2. The thing is though, that it divides my area, completely in half. So we don't know what that means specifically for Elder Godfrey and I and for the Sisters. It is rough because some of my favorite members will be going to the new ward but most of my recent converts live on the Ala 1 side. It doesn't seem like the divide was completely anticipated by the mission either, or at least not the timing of it, so... 5th area in Praia maybe? Not much would change except for new members, another new ward, half an area, and I am still secretary. I guess we shall see what will happen. Ah the suspense!
Young father taking his kid for a walk 
Well, thanks for the emails this last week. It really makes me happy to read them and it is a great surprise to see them all here every Monday. Love you lots and talk to you soon!


Elder Brent Dorff :)


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Letters dated 21 & 28 July 2014

Olá minha família e meus amigos, (Letter dated 21 Jul 2014)

Well, hello everyone! It was good to hear that everyone seems to be doing well. Sounds like everyone is in full gear summer vacation mode.
This week was a week full of work and divisions. Because of our little trio (which will end when Elder Smith goes home tomorrow), we have been able to teach a bunch more lessons and talk to many more people. It has been really helpful to us in that our area is getting stronger with more promising investigators. It was a tiring week. 
Probably the most exciting thing that happened this week was that we had our first baptisms here in Palmarejo! Their names are Carla (14 years old) and Gilson (25 years old). They are cousins and live in the same household. We found them through the Bishop who told us of a lady (their mom/aunt) who wanted to be baptized (and is working to be baptized this upcoming Saturday). It was funny because for a long time, only the mom was interested in going to Church and being baptized and the other two were just in the room using Facebook and watching TV, but eventually Carla came to Church where she came back asking when she could be baptized. We were shocked and so we marked a date for both Carla and her mom. That same visit Gilson came in and kind of half-accepted a date. But within the time that we had marked the date, he received and recognized his answer and they were both baptized. Not only that but Gilson received the Priesthood too and so he will baptize his aunt when she is baptized this next week. We are very grateful for the change that we saw, especially with Gilson.
I don't remember if I ever mentioned this but the other secretaries (before they had been transferred) found a dog that they thought looked cool and happy outside the office and so they decided to name that dog after me, Dorff. So now everyday when I come to the office, I get greeted by Dorff and he is always just the same happy dog. I decided to take a picture of him. 
This next Sunday I am giving another talk at Church. It is basically on the same topic but I need to do a little bit of searching of how I can adapt it for the needs of this ward. This ward is in a much different situation than the any other ward I was in, just because this one struggles with like American ward problems with the Cape Verdean twist. It is interesting. I like the challenge though.
Well, sorry that this week wasn't overly exciting. Just know that I am doing well. I love the work I am doing, the ward is doing well and that this Church is true, without a doubt in my mind. Take care for the week and I will talk to you all, next week!!!

Com txeu amor (With a lot of love),
Elder Brent Dorff

Olá minha família e meus amigos, (Letter dated 28 Jul 2014)

Oh wow... I have got a bunch of news and things to talk about, but I am only going to choose a few things to talk about. This week was a lot of good work. I don't think that there was a day where I didn't come back physically tired or mentally tired or a combination of the two. 
So first of all, I gave another talk in Sacrament Meeting on the same subject as I did last time. I feel like that is just kind of the case when it is a Missionary Work themed Sacrament Meeting. I did modify my talk though to match the needs of the ward. I talked more about the promise made in 1 Nephi 13:37 where it is says something along the lines that those who search to build up Zion will be blessed. I talked about how the Church is Zion (or better, a family) here for the people in Palmarejo. I then talked about missionary work in regards to less actives and non members. It turned out good, and I think that I ended up talking a little bit longer than last time. I think that I have gotten over that  "being that last speaker that has to speak longer or shorter depending on the time the other two speakers left him" fear.
Also this last week, we were blessed to complete the family that we had started to baptize last week. This week Carla's mom, Isabel, was baptized. She was so happy (To our surprise she had already arrived at the Church building, dressed in the jumpsuit and was patiently waiting for us, as we arrived at her house to go to the church.) She's had a long journey for sure. She started talking to missionaries like 9 months ago. She loved and had accepted the Gospel so willingly, but was having difficulties with the commandments. Sadly, those Elders who found her were transferred and the area shut down so she was lost. But thankfully, the Bishop never forgot about her and we were able to find her again, and through much prayer and work on her part, she overcame, changed and was baptized. I am very happy for her. And the joy that she felt on Sunday was overwhelming for her. Last night when we went to her house to ask for references, we received 18 names of people to go find and teach. That is more people than we are teaching right now. The change in people is real. 
Also, we were blessed in another way this week, in that we were able to help another family be reunited. Ruben, who is 11 years old, was also baptized. His parents are members, but after a little time being less active, the dad finally talked to the Bishop about having his son baptized. So the  Bishop directed him to us and we taught him and prepared him. Before the baptism, Paulo, his dad, asked me if I could take a photo of them together. Before I took the photo, I told Ruben to give his dad a big hug (thinking of my baptism picture with Mark). It made me really happy, but probably not as happy as Ruben and Paulo were in that they are one step closer to becoming a together forever eternal family.
This last week we had a Zone Meeting (where all the missionaries here in Praia come together but without the Mission President). It was kind of a pick me up kind of meeting as many of the things that we talked about was the power of our callings, the importance of unity, and the promise of the Lord's help. It was good "pick me up" meeting. 
One last thing happened that was pretty crazy. We were teaching a lesson and I got a phone call from the APs who said that we needed to get over to one of the missionaries apartments at that instant. So, we did and apparently it was decided to move all the suitcases, boxes, and other random stuff of the missionaries on the other islands, from this one house to another. So for 2 hours straight, I was one of 6 Elders who ran up and down 2 flights of stairs carrying super full suitcases (like abnormally large and heavy). It was a very good workout, making up for the past couple of days when it didn't work out to workout (like the play on words?). 
It sounds like everything is going good at home. That is unfortunate that Mark is a little hung up with his leg. Hopefully that gets better sooner than later. But it sounds like this will be a nice little time for you Mom to get to spend some time with the Dorffs. You will have to tell everyone I said hi (well, I guess if they read this email, they will already know I said hi).
I am grateful for the work that is being done here and for the miracles that we are seeing. Thanks for all the prayers and love that you all are sending me and I hope that you feel mine reaching you! Talk to you soon!

Elder Brent Dorff