Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Letters from 29 December 2014 and 5 January 2015

Minha família e meus amigos!                                                     December 29, 2014

Can you believe that it is the last Monday of 2014? Where did this year go? You realize that the year that I spend entirely out on the mission is almost over? The thought scares/excites/astonishes me. The other day I made the connection that after this next group of missionaries go home, it is me that is next. I still remember not knowing what was going on that first night in Praia before I went to Fogo.  Although my time here is shortening day by day, I still have plenty of time to make a difference here in Calheta and I'm working. This week was a good week even though it was a crazy one with Christmas and it's many "activities."
First of all, the preparations for this Christmas were absolutely crazy. As we were out proselyting, someone had hooked up some huge amps and was blasting an electric guitar redition of Silent Night. Needless to say, it wasn't silent. But I will admit that I liked it just because I don't get to enjoy 24/7 Christmas music on the radio. We also had a nice visit from President and Sister Mathews so that they could get to know Elder Veitch. They were on Sal for the Christmas party when he got here so he never got his welcome interview. It was fun to see them and, of course, great to talk to them about what is happening in this part of the mission.
Christmas Day! Besides the awesome time talking to the parents, the nieces, the nephews, the siblings, and the in-laws that I love so much (and also the random Cape Verdean kids that apparently wanted to talk to them too) we had a good day. The day started off normal enough, studying and all, and then we went to our investigator Guta's house where we shared a nice little Christmas message.  She then came out with cakes, pizza, Vinto (really good soda), and other things. It was like a little brunch on our way over to our lunch with Elder Wallace and Elder Gunther. There we ate mash potatos, fried chicken strips, bread (of course), gravy (thank you Elder Wallace's christmas package), and more Vinto and Pinapple Fanta. It was good and then I enjoyed, like I said, talking to my family and then going back home to teach. When we got back home, we contacted a lot of people that we had received from the super activity and also had the chance to share with some less actives the message of Christ. It was a good day, and I can say that my Christmas was more about Christ than it had been the Christmas before.
Guta's brunch
It was funny actually, because on the 26th, I actually felt fine about my family. I mean I wasn't trunky because of the phone call. It was, like Elder Veitch said, relaxing and encouraging. The rest of this week was full of a lot of work which honestly, we were very, VERY blessed to have had such a good end of the week. Because of 2 investigators (J and D) who both can't be baptized yet because of an external conflict (marriage and lack of permission), we were able to teach 6 lessons just to women. And I would say that a majority of them are excited and searching for the truth. Their contribution was incredible and we are so grateful. We hope though that this week, less members will go to Praia for stake meeting so that they can help build their branch :)
I know that Christ is my Savior and that this is His Gospel: to come unto the world to fulfill the will of the Father. I have been given the opportunity to live His Gospel and help others to accept it too.
I love you and I hope that you all have a good week. Please make decisions to start the year off good. I already have expectations for the year as it brings the greatest miracles of the mission and also entering the status of "RM". Oh, weird thought. Mom and Dad, don't get trunky!
 I told Elder Veitch that I loved this dog because he was super lazy and then he asked me if we could name him Veitch. So, here is a pic of Veitch with Elder Veitch

Oi minha família e meus amigos!                                        January 5, 2015

This last week was, of course, crazy with all the activities of New Years but HAPPY NEW YEARS to all of you! I think that I already freaked out enough to you all last week in terms to what this new year will bring, but let's just not think about that. Also, it blows my mind that McKell is already 12 years old. I mean the thought of that happening while I was out on my mission has passed through my mind before but actually hearing that she went to the temple, that blew my mind. I wonder if I will recognize any of the those kids that I once knew so well :)
Carrying spent crops on their heads to feed their animals
This week definitely was interesting in that we spent the first part of the week strengthening our members and investigators for the "activities" and then the second part of the week trying to find them again. Needless to say, it was a lot of work with a little less success but we still saw some great miracles. And also had some funny stories. We have this one investigator that understands what we say, except when we are reading from the scriptures. So this week, I decided to read with him 3 Nephi 13:31-33, which is about not worrying about what you will eat, drink, or wear because the Lord will look after you, but rather search for the kingdom of God first. Well, when we said that, he  said, "Yes, we must trust in God. But if I don't eat or drink and only focus on God then eventually, like in 2 days, I will be too weak to even think about God." We then had a 20 minute discussion about what that scripture was actually trying to say. It was funny, because we had an investigator with us, (who is waiting to get married so he can be baptized (such a boss), even try to explain it to him. After we ended the visit, we were walking away and our investigator just looked at me and was like, "That was ridiculous." We just started laughing so hard. He is beginning to understand how stressful and funny missionary work is sometimes.
During our Christmas call, Brent mentioned how animals are slaughtered and hung up on poles. People then bring machetes and cut off what they want to buy for food. I asked him to send a picture of this. So he took a picture of this butcher's stand. He said it was late in the day so only the heads were left but yeah....you get the idea! Run little piggy, RUN!!
Elder Veitch is doing good these days. He almost has 3 weeks in the field and speaks already better than I did in like my 4-5 transfer. He teaches by the Spirit and we work well together. For New Years we went all out making french fries and enjoying lime jello (thank you Mom) and also a Dan Cake which is like a giant Ding Dong. It was a good missionary way to enjoy the New Year. 
Well, that I think is all for this week, I love you a lot and have a great first week back at/starting school!

Elder Brent Dorff :)


Monday, January 5, 2015

Letters dated December 8th, 15th and 22nd, 2014

Oi minha família e meus amigos!                                                       December 8th

This was a great week here in still hot Cape Verde (where are you December weather?) Actually in reality, this week we were blessed with like 2 days of rain. We didn't get too much here in Calheta but when we went to Assomada for P-day, it poured. It was probably the most difficult game of Basketball we have ever played. 
So, some of the highlights of the week included one of our members being such an awesome member missionary. He is our Branch Mission Leader and he only has 2 years as a member of the Church yet he is helping so much. His name is N and he is actually from Senegal (I have a feeling that more people have heard of that country than Cape Verde). He was one of the first members here in Calheta and we have seen such a change in him. This week he went out teaching with us like almost everyday and he has helped our investigators. In response to one investigator's concern about not having time (but more about how he just didn't want to wake up early for church), N said straight out, "THE BED IS POISON!" Also, he has done a lot to help us find new people to teach. He is fearless in sharing the Gospel and because of that 2 of the 3 investigators we had at Church were friends/references of his. And because there were 3 investigators at Church, the whole Branch is getting really excited and I feel like they are finally understanding how work and love brings people to church for the first time and also back to Church.
This week we also had a good Zone Meeting, which is just like a huge District Meeting but with the entire Zone. We received a really good training on the role of the Holy Ghost in conversion. We focused on what the investigator needs to feel (a desire), what the member that is teaching with us needs to feel (involved and helpful), and what do we need to feel (edified in our testimony). Because of that, we have been asked to focus more on making the Spirit the teacher and us just the mouth that he uses. It was a good training and we are already seeing and feeling the difference.
To answer a couple of questions that you all had, we go on divisions for training purposes. By going to other missionaries' areas we can see how they work with their investigators and help them according to their needs and concerns. It happens about once a transfer.
Cute baby goats by our house
 I have heard a lot about the volcano on Fogo but I haven't been directly affected by it. We have seen some ash wash up on the shores but that is it. They took all the Sister missionaries off of Fogo and for now all the Elders are still there although they have been moved around. In reality, they actually put in one more companionship in Mosteiros. I am thinking a lot about the members and people there though. Thus far, the only thing that has been destroyed is the town where all the coffee plantations are, interesting fate, huh?
Oh, one more funny thing. So we have an activity every Saturday night where we usually watch a church film or something. Well, we decided to teach a quick lesson as they started the activity and as we came out we realized that they were watching a movie about Christmas. So we sat down and started watching and the Spirit leaves immediately. It was a movie focused mainly on Mary and was super dark and graphic. We stopped the movie, went and discovered that it wasn't produced by the Church contrary to the belief of the members who had downloaded it. Turns out they had searched "lds christmas movie" on Youtube and this random video found it's way into the mix and because it was the most movie-like they just downloaded it. It was a good lesson for the members to question what they see on the internet. Thankfully, the Spirit can help you determine what is good, uplifting and true or not.
Elder McKissick goes home this week. He was my trainer.
Well, I love you all and have a good week! Only 16 days till Christmas!(not that I am counting or anything...)
Love the Christmas Tree Mom!

Elder Brent Dorff

Ola minha familia e meus amigos!                                                December 15th

Today I am emailing you from a different locale as I am in Assomada today! Why, you may be asking. Well you see I wasn't transferred but rather I am waiting for my new companion to arrive! Elder Conway was transferred to the island of Boa Vista to serve with Elder Paredes. They are going to do awesome work out there. And some of the best news is that I will stay here in Calheta, with the opportunity to train a brand new missionary! His name is a surprise, as in I don't want to type it on here and it be completely wrong but he is from Canada! All of my "sons" have been from different countries: Mozambique, Cape Verde, America, and now Canada. I am looking forward to Christmas with my new missionary!
So because of transfers, I am hanging out with Elder Wallace as his companion will arrive a little bit later also. My companion won't arrive until like Wednesday or Thursday, so we shall see what happens to my missionary work in Calheta. But as part of my P-day adventures, we ran into the ZLs and we went to see the famous big tree of Assomada. That is a HUGE tree. Like absolutely huge. I took many pictures, all of which I don't think I will send home but we shall see. 
This weeks secondary major project was to start the marriage process for a couple. She is from Guinea Bissau by birth but she was brought to Cape Verde by her parents when she was one and then left here. Since then, she lived with neighbors and then met her boyfriend. He definitely has a strong desire to be baptized, but is having a hard time keeping commitments to read (because he can't really read) and go to Church. She has been reading, hence she is excited to marry and be baptized, but because of her work situation, she can't go to Church. She also lost her birth certificate and has to request one from Guinea Bissau. We hoped to get them married before the end of the year, but we are having several difficulties. They are a great couple.
Okay, so I think I put this off long enough. Before Elder Conway transferred, we had a miracle. Three weeks ago, a lady named D came to Church by herself. Her son is a less active teenager and as the members came to invite him to Church they casually invited her to come as well. She did, and she felt the Spirit.  Within those 3 weeks, she prayed, she read, she changed as she learned the will of the Father. And she was baptized... After 6 months of this area not having a baptism, the Branch had this miracle. Why? Wasn't my teaching. It was because the members loved her. Because she understood that the Lord loved her. Because she came to understand that she could show her love for Him by following His commandments. She knew that He would help her. She recognized she would experience resistance. Her own father tried to stop her with lies. But no one could stop her because she knew the Church was true and that Christ was her Savior. This was one of the most meaningful baptisms for me, and I am grateful that I could share it with Elder Conway. She is going to be a source of so much good. She is proof that God is a God of Miracles. There are just more miracles to come.
N baptized D and we were the witnesses. This was the first baptism of the mission for Elder Conway
My last message for you all is to watch the video of christmas.mormon.org, or if you would like to see Portuguese, natal.mormon.org. He is the Present. Share it.
Talk you all next week! I love you all!

Elder Brent Dorff

Feliz Natal minha família e meus amigos!                                          December 22nd

Oh wow, this week appears to have been crazy for everyone (either that or completely normal for the time of year)! This week was incredible for many reasons. First, fun fact: I took 8 hiaces this week. I think that I am going to have to talk about the week again by day.
Monday-You already have a pretty good idea of what happened. Elder Conway got transferred and then I spent the whole day in Elder Wallace's area as we waited for our companions. 
Tuesday- His companion, Elder Gunther, finally arrives and I kidnap them both and we go back to Calheta to have an awesome work day there. We had one lesson, with a mother and daughter (G and I) who are super prepared and excited to learn. The only problem is that they have a lot of service projects planned these next 2 weeks so we will have to be smart in marking our visits with them.
Wednesday- Special training for the District and Zone Leaders. It was on helping missionaries adjust to missionary life and dealing with the stress that comes with it. It was a lot of fun because I didn't have a companion I just got put with the 2 ZL companionships for practices and discussions. Elder Jarvis, the one that I spent last Christmas with, is a ZL in Praia now. It was great to see him. Also the training was very good to prepare me to receive my new companion. Well, scratch that because he was supposed to get here on this day but they missed their flight! It wasn't their fault, but still! So it just helped me prepare for the Mission Christmas Party in Praia (my first time in 3 months being in that city). It was a lot of fun. Good food, good company, and also fun musical numbers that were given by each District. It was funny because for ours it was just Elder Wallace, Elder Gunther and I. It sounded pretty good though. Oh, and I finally met Elder Willes. Didn't get too much time to talk with him but it was fun to talk about you all. So after the party, we were super confused where I was going and then it ended up that I just went to RIbeirão Manuel's area again.
Mission Christmas Party
Thursday- I find out that I was supposed to stay in Praia to receive training about training missionaries. I guess nobody thought that I needed that because I definitely didn't know about it till later. But that's okay because after teaching in RM in the morning, we went to Calheta where all 15 missionaries in the Zone came to Calheta and street contacted, taught, and invited EVERYONE! Everyone was invited to participate in a Christmas Devocional for just Calheta where President Mathews came and spoke to the people about giving themselves as presents to the Lord. We got many referals from that visit and now we are trying to contact them all. Then we ran into a problem. I was told that my companion wasn't going to come until next Tuesday so I talked to the members and I talked to President and I got permission to have a Mini Missionary for the week. He is Elder Gonçalves, the first counselor in the Branch Presidency. He was super excited.
Friday- Elder Gonçalves and I work super hard to find people to teach and have a good time together. 
Saturday- Wake up expecting to do the same thing as yesterday but I get a phone call saying, "You need to get to Praia in an hour. Your new missionary got in at 2:30 in the morning and his orientation will be here in an hour and an half. So I kick out my Mini and take a Hiace to Praia alone where I meet the APs, who have my very tired companion in the car. They had told me before that I needed to pretend to be a new missionary too so that my companion wouldn't know that I was his trainer. So I did. It was funny. We get to orientation, it is revealed that I am his trainer and everything is super fun and crazy. I then take him home the long way, through Assomada and RM, so I can do the other Elders' baptismal interview, and then we finally touch down in Calheta so that I can teach with my companion. His name is Elder Veitch. He is from Prince Edward's Island, Canada and yes, he speaks English and French. He already speaks Portuguese super well too. I have a lot of confidence that we are going to do a lot of good work. He is the first companion that has been taller than me but we have the same shoe size. Can you believe it? We are already getting along very well. 
Sunday- We go to Church and I have the opportunity to give a talk about praying with faith. Then we teach some more solid lessons. 
This week was absolutely crazy but I loved it a lot. I am excited for Christmas but it hasn't even occurred to me that that is this week. If it had, I feel like I would have had everything a little bit more organized than I do right now. I would say expect the phone call around 7-8ish am, so like 2-3ish pm my time. I hope that I can Skype but honestly I have no idea what is going on. We might have to go to Assomada if we want to use Skype, and I don't know if we are allowed to yet... Such is life. I am going to get everything figured out tonight so keep your computers on and phones at the ready to receive my call and be awake!
Well, I love you all a ton. I hope that everyone has a Merry Christmas (ou se você fala português, Feliz Natal)! I know that Christ is the reason for the Season and I am grateful for His sacrifice and the for the love of my Heavenly Father. He exists and wants to help us. I am so grateful for my opportunity to be the bearer of tidings of great joy!

Feliz Natal!
Elder Brent Dorff :)