Friday, September 26, 2014

Letter dated 22 September 2014--Carry on, carry on, carry on...!

It Oi minha família e meus amigos!

This was a good week! I am happy to hear that it was the same for everyone there at home. It appears that a highlight of this last week was Carter's soccer game. It looks like when I get home I have someone still to play soccer with.
This week it rained, and rained, and rained! It was awesome. Mom, to answer your question, it is hot! I sweat a ton. But I can't complain too much because I've been in an air conditioned building for most of the summer and if I did go outside the sun was setting, It cools down a little. Granted, these last 2 weeks where we left the office at 3pm, I didn't enjoy the same blessing. It feels a lot like Florida. Basically, if you hope for cool weather, you hope for a complete cloud cover the entire day because if the sun breaks through for even 5 minutes, you feel like you can drink the air. I was prepared for this weather though... another blessing of being in Florida for those years.
But back to the rainstorm.... Yesterday, was probably the craziest storm that we've ever had. It rained so much that a river was formed down the middle of our area, about 10-12 feet wide and about a foot deep, flowing down the hill. Well, of course, our next appointment was on the other side of the river and we didn't know how to cross it without taking off our shoes and socks and wading through it. Deciding that wasn't the best decision for us, the member who was with us, Aza, said, "I'll carry you across!" So picture this. It is pouring rain, people standing all around, kids playing in the rain, collecting water and digging trenches to redirect water from their houses, and then you see in the middle of the river a 25 year old man with Elder Dorff on his back crossing the river, followed by Elder Godfrey! (Mom has to make a comment here. From other missionaries letters from Praia, its been mentioned that when it rains really hard and this river forms it is sewage-laced so that may explain the decision they made.) It was crazy and we were both so mad that we had left our cameras at home. I must take a picture of Aza.
The people here in Praia are different than they were in Mosteiros when it comes to us, their house and in the rain. In Mosteiros, people would say, "Elder, it's raining. You have mud on your feet and you're all wet. I just cleaned my house. If you come in, your going to mess everything up. I'll talk to you another day." Here in Praia, "Elder, are you crazy?! It's raining! Get out of the rain into my house, this very instant! Don't worry about your shoes! If you stay out there another minute, your going to get sick!" This is a good thing because we seem to be teaching more and people are willing to let us stay for a long time (to make sure we don't walk in the rain) but it just gives them more time to feel the Spirit. 
So, look who's crossing the street in front of our house...
So, I have great news with a new family that we are teaching. Their names are Z and M. Z was baptized a long time ago when he was like 12 years old, but since then, he has remained inactive in the Church. I remember that we were kind of without much luck one day and we came up the hill and he was just standing outside of his house. As a mission, we are working on having 10 street contacts everyday, and because he was just standing there in the road, we talked to him. He told us pretty quickly that he was already baptized and after that he invited us into his house. We went in talked to him and he told us that he was looking to return to full activity in the Church. Since he left the Church, he has created a family, including his wife M (nonmember) and their son who is 2 years old. Well, he introduced us to her and within a week and an half, we have taught them 5 times, they have gone to church twice, they have accepted getting married on the date that we suggested, they have started the wedding paper process without our help, and she has accepted a baptism date for the 25th of October! They are planning on getting married the day before. We love this family! They are both actively reading the Book of Mormon and have received and recognized their answers as to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. We are very grateful for them, and really for all our investigators. I feel like we have a lot of people with some good potential. They just need to read the Book of Mormon and search for their answer.
Thank you for all your love and prayers. I am thinking of you a bunch and I love you a lot. I hope that you all stay happy and healthy! Talk to you next week!

Elder Brent Dorff

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Letters from September 1st, 8th and 15th, 2014

1 September 2014

I am so happy! Congrats Evaly and Nathan on the new son! It is good to know that little Logan is here and is loved by the family. And you can only imagine how much I want to meet these kids (Beckham and Claire included)! But all is well, because at the right time, I will and I look forward to that day. Now I understand how Mark felt when McKell was born.
Well, while you all are spending the day with your families and enjoying the company of one another before/after school starts/started, I have been enjoying my time here with Elder Godfrey. This last week was one of a lot of work and I remain happy about how the week went. It was a rough week as far as teaching goes but some of the lessons that we did have were gold. I am happy that I am in this work.
Elder & Sister Muhlstein (our office replacements) and Elder Godfrey and I
We had one visit this week that really stood out to me (maybe just because it happened yesterday). We (Elder Godfrey and I went on a division with the Zone Leaders of Mindelo-- super long story of why they are here in Praia, but in any case, Elder Ernst was my companion) were out teaching and I decided that we needed to visit one of my investigators just one more time. We had tried before but she wasn't home. This time though she was home and she told me that she didn't want to talk to us that day; that we needed to talk some other day. But assuming it was the Spirit that brought us there, we changed the conversation to about her family. She has 3 kids, no husband, and just started working at a bar, last week. We started talking to her and we asked her if she believed that God had a plan for her. She responded that some days yes-- some days no. After further questions, we shared with her 2 Nephi 1:20, "Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land..." She continued, "Why is it that I see people who are doing such horrible things have success in their
lives, while I have done nothing to deserve this awful situation?" We were then brought to reading Mosiah 2:41, which says, "And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual..." We told her to stop comparing herself to others, in that her happiness wasn't going to come from any comparison, but that in reality, eternal joy comes from the relationship that we have with our Heavenly Father. We then invited her to make the changes in her life, learn of the commandments and keep them, so that she could begin to enjoy the fruits of that relationship with God. As I was marking a passage for her, she asked if I could mark Mosiah 2:41, so that she could read it again. We saw a change in her.
Today the Mission Tour of the Cape Verde Praia Mission started today, and what that means is that Elder Morreira, of the 70, and his wife are going throughout the entire mission doing conferences for each zone, for the training of the missionaries. Today the missionaries of Santiago (the Praia and Assomada zones) were together and we were taught by Elder and Sister Morreira and President and Sister Mathews. It was a good conference. The messages seemed directed to the idea of seeing the world through the Plan of Salvation. At first, this idea didn't quite make sense but as we discussed the story of Peter, we saw a change from where he was, a man fearing the power of men, to what he became, fearless to testify of the truth. How did that come to pass? Because he saw the world through the Plan of Salvation. He understood how Jesus Christ overcame the bonds of physical death and sin (spiritual death), which meant he knew that the same fate was to fall upon each of God's Children. So what did he do? He made it known to everyone he could that Christ was their Savior and what did that mean to us? He made a change in himself. And that as we, the missionaries, are invited to do; make a change in our lives so that all of our hearts (love), all of our power (the Spirit), all of our mind (thoughts), and strength is given to the Lord's errand. We received our call to hasten the work of salvation and bring more families unto Christ. I accept the call. I shall return and report :)

8 September, 2014
 Okay, so now something a little bit personal for me. I need to go back in time 9 months ago, while I was in Achada Grande Frente, serving with Elder Conduanhe. It was December 3rd, 2013. It was a hard day. I remember coming out of a really awful visit feeling energized to teach the Gospel, yet discouraged at the same time. As I came out of that house, I looked to my right and I saw 3 people sitting a way off, a man and 2 women. I decided that I was going to go talk to them and that we were going to have a great visit with them. We went there, talked with them a little bit and then scheduled
 a different time to talk. The next day, we went and the man wasn't there, it was just the 2 women. Not really knowing anything about them, we still went and taught. Their names were J and Iz. I had originally thought that J had had more promise, as she was more talkative and Iz didn't seem to care. The lesson went alright and we remarked for another visit. That next appointment came, and there was a change. First of all, J didn't care about what we had to say, kind of like Iz, but this time another man that I had never met was there. His name was E and he was the "husband" of Iz. We taught E and Iz together, and that set the ball rolling. Over time, they came to Church, Family Night, were changing their lives concerning the Word of Wisdom but then the biggest stumbling block, marriage,
stopped them. When I left the area, I left them with the marriage paperwork. 9 months have past. I have been in 3 other areas (all 10 minute taxi ride away from Achada Grande) but stayed in Praia the whole time. This last week, on the 5th of September, E and Iz were married, and on the 6th of September, I was able to perform their baptisms.
Wedding Day!
I can't say that it was for that reason that I stayed in Praia that long, but I am so grateful that I was here to do that for them. That family means so much to me. And I know that the Gospel is what got them through every trial that was put on their path of conversion. Their son, J, will now grow up in a Gospel home. I am so happy for them, and I can't look at a photo of that family, without feeling great joy.

At the Baptism (Elder Wells and Elder Clegg are the current missionaries in Achada Grande)
I am so grateful for the tender mercies that the Lord gives us in our lives. Some times they come how they expect them, other times we have to wait or change our expectations. In any case, they come. 
Thanks for all the prayers and love! I'll talk to you all next week!

Elder Brent Dorff :)
15 September 2014

Well, I hope that it was a good week. My week was a really tiring one but one of a lot of miracles. Therefore, I am very happy today.
Ever since the Mission Tour, Elder Godfrey and I have been focusing on trying to find families who are ready to hear the Gospel. Lately though, we have been having many difficulties with our investigators and the people who were preparing for baptism. We haven't lost hope though in that everyday, we go out teaching (with the full 5-6 hours in the afternoon, which we absolutely enjoy) with the same goal. And we have found people who are prepared to receive the Gospel! I wasn't at my ward yesterday (because I went on division with a different Elder and went to his ward) but Elder Godfrey told me that a part member family came to Church that we had met the day before and also someone who is preparing to be baptized here in a couple of weeks or so. That made me really happy to hear and I can't wait to actually be present for an actual lesson with them. Families are good, no wonder they are part of Heavenly Father's Plan.
So like I said I went on division yesterday with Elder Araújo, an Elder from Brazil. It was a good day and I feel like I learned a lot from the time that I was with him. It is funny though because his area, Várzea is in the very heart of Praia, which means that I almost know every ward/area in Praia. It doesn't feel like I have been here that long. I mean it did in the beginning but now I am enjoying it more.
This last Saturday, we did a Beach Cleanup Service Activity at Gamboa Beach with the "Mãos Que Ajudam" (Mormon Helping Hands). It was great! First time on a beach (besides for baptisms) since I left in May 2013. Basically, raked up a bunch of shells and picked up trash. It reminded me a lot of those Youth Service Projects at Huntington Beach. And of course, I took advantage of  being on the beach and (no, I didn't swim...) and took a bunch of photos. It was a pretty day and we even got rained on so we returned home wet.
But here are some Cape Verdean's enjoying the water!
So, one more story and then I will close. We started teaching this one family and they are progressing a little bit more slowly (mostly because the father isn't available a lot to talk) but we did have a lesson with just the father and he told us about an experience he had. He was in the interior of Santiago and he was working and he had just hiked to where he was going to work and he sat and relaxed a little bit. Well, we had given him a pamphlet on the Restoration and he sat down and read a little bit. He came to where it talks about Joseph Smith reading in James 1:5 and he told us that it was at that point he decided to pray... that he would have a ride off the mountain after his work was done. So, he did that and then went to work. As he was working, another man showed up from a different route, with his old pickup truck and was working nearby. They finished at the same time and our investigator was offered a ride back home. He was so excited to tell us that his prayer was answered. We were like, "That's great! Did you also pray about the Book of Mormon?" Well, of course he hadn't done that yet, but he was content with his prayer being answered. I am happy for him, that he recognizes that God will answer his prayers. Now he just needs to pray about the Book of Mormon specifically.
Well, that was my week. Love you all and I will talk to you next week!
Elder Brent Dorff