Thursday, December 31, 2009

Porto Velho


Hey Guys,
P-day again! Things have gone well since I talked to you on Christmas. We had a baptism on Sunday. The man was really prepared, ready to be baptized, and everything went really well. It's fun to see investigators really understand and love the gospel and the church. Speaking of that, we have another baptism this Sunday for a man who is, also, ready and prepared. It had been a week or 2 since we visited him, with the Christmas season stuff, so we were a little worried. But, we met with him last night and he's doing really well. He's reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning and is really understanding everything. This should be another good Sunday. We're trying hard to find another family to teach. We have a baptismal date for a lady, but not her husband...yet. We just started teaching him. Oh yeah, guess what else we're marking this week... Another wedding! Whoo! It probably won't happen this transfer because it takes 30-40 days to get authorization. So, the work is going well.

We only talked like 5 days ago...but it seems longer than that. The rainy season is here. It rains almost everyday. A lot. It's difficult to dry laundry. It rains for a few hours, then is way hot and humid, and then rains some more... The lame thing is that when it rains, life stops. If it rains on a Sunday morning, nobody will be at church. Even some really active families. It can be frustrating at times. It's just rain! I guess I am from Seattle...but still.










Here's some pictures from encontra das aguas.
I only have a few. Elder Christensen (who is probably on some plane going home right now) made me a CD and I should get it in a week or so. The trip was great, I loved it. I'll have to admit, after going back to Manaus, I didn't want to come back to Porto Velho. Nobody in our entire zone got transferred. Nobody. I think it's because the mission spent so much money to fly us all to the Christmas conference. Anyway, I'll send more pics later.

Sorry this letter is short. Not too much has gone on since Christmas. Have a good week. Love you guys!

-Elder Eric Stapley

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Porto Velho "Oh, the weather outside is frightful..."


Hey guys!

First I'll respond to your email. Mom, I am using sunscreen. I just forgot one day and got a little burned. I learned my lesson and am now using more. I'm glad to hear all is going well and you guys are excited for Christmas. Shannon, like I said, start studying! Sure it's finals week, but in 6 months it won't matter what grade you got on your test, it will matter if people understand you. Even a little bit of study pays off. I met a sister that went to Campinas on her mission! She wants your fb. She knows a little english and got excited when I told her about you. Sounds like you get to go to the temple at least once a transfer. Not fair....

Megan, that is frightening that you have texting...Poor choice mom and dad.

So, this was an interesting week. Saturday, we had a ward activity about missionary work. We invited 4 other elders and parts of their wards to participate. It turned out really well. We did a skit showing a bad day for missionaries when members don't help, and then a better day. It actually turned out really funny. I have a copy. Maybe I'll send it home, but as you don't know Portuguese, it might be a little hard to understand...We'll see... But the ward members really liked it, and it was a fun time.

We also had the chance to watch the 1st Pres devotional. I really enjoyed it. The audio was pretty lame, but it was cool to hear Christmas music in English. And- to see Salt Lake with snow. I would do anything for snow right now. No joke. It's always hot over here, or raining like none other. But oh well.

One of the highlights of my week happened on Mon. I went on a division with an Elder in another area. It was an interesting experience. I really like the other Elder, but he doesn't speak that well. He has one more transfer than me, but I'm a better speaker. Love the guy, but he is still learning a lot of Portuguese. So, it was weird for me to be the better speaker for the day. Anyway, at the end of the day we visited some members in his ward. After about 20-30 minutes of talking, one of the members looked over at us and asked if I am Gaúcho (somebody from southern Brazil). I looked over to my comp, forgetting I was on a division and not with Elder De Jesus who is from Southern Brasil. Then I realized that I was with an American comp...They were asking me! I replied that no, I'm from the US, and the member said, "no your not!" Mas rapaz! I wanted to jump up and hug the person. They actually thought I was Brazilian! I've been praying/working my tail off for the day that would happen. The person must have a hearing problem or something, cuz I don't speak that well yet...But it was awesome! I've been waiting for somebody to think I'm Brazilian after talking with me. It was sweet. I got really excited...It was one of the highlights of my week.

This week we're having a little Christmas party with missionaries. We want to make cookies. Can you please send a recipe for cookies (one with brown sugar and one w/out. I don't know if I can find it here...) in the next few hours? Please?

Before I forget! Blaine, you sent me the coolest Thanksgiving picture ever. Thanks buddy! Thanks Andrew and Blaine for your pics and letter! (And of course J and K too!) Miss you guys!

So, as far as the call on Christmas goes. I'm planning on calling first, either on Christmas or Christmas Eve. So, yeah. Just wait for my call!

That's it for now! Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays to everyone reading this letter! Fam, I'll talk to you soon! Miss you! Also, my next email won't be next Wed, 'cuz I'll be in Manaus. I fly on the 22nd and come back on the 24th. We're taking a boat to see the "meeting of the rivers". I'm not sure when you guys will get the next email. Merry Christmas!

-Elder Eric Stapley

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Porto Velho, Rondonia


Two letters this week! We received this letter via airmail from Eric's trainer. (And have permission to share it.)
Stapley Family,
Greeting from Brazil! Except it's not your son, it's me, Elder Christensen. You are probably wondering why I am writing. Last week, Elder Stapley was transferred from our ward. As his trainer, I spent 2 wonderful transfers with him. I just wanted to congratulate your family for such a wonderful son/brother.
I have to admit, Elder Stapley was by far one of my favorite comps. Not only because we were such good friends, but because he was a great missionary. He has an impressive knowledge of the gospel, a strong desire to work and learn, and speaks great Portuguese already. He will soon be perfectly fluent.
I always joked with him that he had to make me proud when I leave. I can promise you that no matter what callings of leadership he holds on his mission, he will make all of us very proud. Thank you for having a great son! I expect to see him back at BYU in a couple years. Congratulations also on your beautiful family! I have a younger sister that looks EXACTLY like your youngest...Callen? And congrats to Shannon on her call to Brazil. She'll love it here. Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas! -Elder Christensen

Hey guys!
I'll start by answering some questions. The Christmas package is sitting in Manaus still!! The asisstants didn't bring it when they came. I'll get it when I go to Manaus. It will feel more like Christmas getting my package right then. Elder C will still be in Manaus, his group doesn't leave until Dec 30. Poor guy. BYU starts back up Jan. 3rd...Lame. I'll get to see him and we'll party it up at the Christmas conference. We're all going on a boat to the encontra das aguas. We'll eat lunch on the boat. It's going to be sweet. I met Elder Mason. I didn't realize he's related to Chandler. He worked in this area and lots of people know him. He seems like a cool guy.

This week went well. We had a baptism on Sunday of a 76 year old man. That was exciting. We had interviews with President on Monday. He told me visas were taking longer to arrive, and I told him how Shannon doesn't leave until March. We talked about her mission Pres. Shannon's only going to get to know him for a month or 2, and then get a new one. I hear he's a really good guy. Pres. Jayme likes him. Also, while waiting, I talked with Sister Jayme. She's actually from New Jersey, and pretty close to Morristown! That was her stake. It reminded me of Brian, at least he's getting a winter there. It's still hot over here and rains.

Yesterday we had zone conferene. I was used to zone conference with 100 missionaries, but there was just 16. It was a lot more personal and we were able to get some good feedback and training from Pres. One of the other missionaries taught me how to call to Manaus and I gave Elder Christensen a quick call last night. It's fun talking with him because he sounds just like the people from Manaus. Here, they have all sorts of random accents. I'm trying to hold on to what little bit of Manaus accent I picked up...

We marked one more baptism for the beginning of January. We are teaching a decent amount of lessons, and 4 out of the 5 baptisms since I've been here- are all men. Not bad...the work is going pretty well.

Shannon, I'm glad you'll start learning Portuguese right now. It's lame you have to wait to leave, but my advice is take advantage of the time. If you want my personal advice, practice at least an hour everyday. Minimum. An hour and a half is better. I'm not kidding. It will pay off. You will definately learn more when you arrive here, but, if you start learning a few things in the U.S parabens. Really go to work and study it. Learn it right. Really learn the rules, how to pronounce things, and just go to work. If you have questions, you can ask me. I'm not a pro, but I could probably help if you need it. But, pelo menos 1 hour a day. I'm not kidding...

Our stake had a Christmas devotional and the missionaries went. Poor choice. When it got done all of us Americans just looked at each other and someone said, "who is missing home right now?" Sure enough, we all raised our hands. Something about Christmas music. I can't say it even feels like Christmas. It's still hot here, I'm still working a lot. We bought a little Christmas tree, but it doesn't really feel like December and Christmas. It was only when I sat down and heard Christmas music that it actually clicked that it's almost Christmas. Weird. They sang 'Oh holy night' and just didn't do it justice. I can honestly say I'd do anything to hear Erynn play it on her harp with Brynn singing. Mas rapaz. That's over, we went back to work, and it feels like the middle of summer again. I think we are planning a little missionary Christmas carol night though...that's going to feel strange.

Oh yeah. One more thing. My camera broke. Not my fault- by the way. I might have to have you guys send me another camera...sorry...you probably didn't want to hear that.

Well, I guess that was pretty much it, have a good week. Miss you guys and hope all is well. Love you guys!

-Elder Eric Stapley

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Porto Velho, Rondonia


Hey guys!
Another week has passed here in Rondônia. I'll try to answer your questions. I got the package with the M+Ms but not the Christmas package. I should get it on Megan's Birthday- if I remember her B-day- the 8th right? We'll have a zone conference and I should get it then. There are 10 missionaries in all of Porto Velho and 4 more in another city. So, there's only 14 in this entire state (the size of Oregon). This conference is going to be a little different than my other zone conferences. Instead of over 100 missionaries, there will be under 20. Kinda cool I guess. We meet in the stake center here in Porto Velho and it's pretty sweet, for Brazilian standards. It has a piano, padded pews, a nice outdoor basketball court...it's pretty nice.

Good news of the week. There's going to be a Christmas conference in Manaus!!! They're flying us back for it! I was excited when I found out, since last year President didn't fly all the missionaries back. But, I'm going! I'll spend Christmas here, but a day or 2 in Manaus. I'll be able to see a bunch of my friends and maybe even stay in my old house for a night in Lagoa Verde. I may even get to visit some members. I'm way stoked!


Also, I feel I need to tell you something. This week, on Monday, I was hugged and almost kissed on the lips, by a girl. I'm not joking. Well, okay, the girl was a monkey. We visited someone in our ward whose neighbor has a pet monkey. She let us hang out and take some pics. This monkey fell in love with me. Seriously. She just hugged me and wouldn't let go. I have a video of me trying to get the monkey off. You can even see her try to kiss me. It's hilarious. For the first few minutes it was cool, until she wouldn't go away! I couldn't get her off. Mas rapaz. It was hilarious.









We have a baptism this week and one on the 20th. Happy Birthday, Shannon! There's potential for 2 or 3 more men/families. So, things are going well. It's way hot over here though. The sun is definitely stronger here than in Manaus. I've started using sunscreen. Some members tell us we need to use umbrellas. I'm sorry, but honestly, that just isn't going to happen. I've got a pretty sweet tan line though.

We had a little party, with some other missionaries, for my comp's birthday. Pizza, cake and ice cream (none of which are as good as the American versions) That was exciting.

So, this week's problem with the baptismal font... the church didn't have running water! So, we filled the font with jugs of drinking water. It was still pretty low and I actually used that fish net to scoop bugs out. We had a baptism the next day and just left the water over night. So, I actually ended up using the net again that you sent.

I'm a little worried about speaking English with you on Christmas. It feels like I haven't had a conversation in English for months. The most I've spoken was during a baptism when we sang one verse of the "rainbow" song. Other than that, it's been a while...

Have a good week. Miss and love you guys. Happy birthday, Megan. Até mais.
Tchao!
-Elder Eric Stapley

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Porto Velho- THANKSGIVING


Hey guys! Sorry, I left out where I really was last week. To be honest, I didn’t really even know. I’m in Porto Velho. It’s the capital of Rondônia and pretty different from Manaus. I have to admit there are things that I definitely miss from Manaus, but I’m growing to like it here more and more. In some ways, when I left Manaus, not just my area, but the state of Amazonas, I felt like I was leaving home again.

Things are going well and I get along with my comp, Elder De Jesus. It’s interesting to speak Portuguese all day long. But, I'd say it’s already helped me to improve. If anything, it's helped me realize how much I actually know. The only problem is he’s from the very south of Brazil and has a weird accent. I really want to learn the Manaus accent, so it’s hard living with someone who speaks differently. But oh well, he’s helping me with the language.


My area is huge. Mas rapaz. Yesterday, we walked an hour and a half to lunch. Some parts are definitely a lot more rural than where I was serving in Manaus.

One weird thing for me is that our ward is huge and will probably split in December. In some ways it’s nice to have a larger ward, people go to church and the ward functions better. But at the same time, it’s also a little sad for me. I really got to know and love my last ward. It was smaller and I was able to visit and really get to know the members. As a result, we had a lot of success. Working with members just makes life so much better. It was because of that friendship with members that some people were taught and baptized. I knew pretty much everybody by name. Here, I can’t do that. There are way too many people for me to try to get to know and the area is so large that it’s not practical to visit everyone. That’s kinda sad, but I’m working really hard with Elder De Jesus to get to know and work with the members. We planned a ward activity for December that should be pretty cool (if people go). We're going to teach about how Members and Missionaries baptize Mais e Melhor. It needs to be written in Portuguese because it’s M+Ms. We are going to give out M+Ms and it should be a pretty cool night. If people attend....

Well, this week has been pretty normal. We had two baptisms this weekend. We have another one marked for December, and I’m feeling at least one more. So, the work is going pretty well.

As Thanksgiving is coming up, I thought about some things I’m thankful for. And- as I’m not home to answer Dad’s annual question at the dinner table, I’ve prepared a short list of 10 things (actually 11) for which I’m thankful. Also, these things are not listed in order and some of them probably aren’t things I’m MOST grateful for in life. But, I think it’s a decent list. Anyway...here goes...

1. Family and Friends

Obviously, this one is first. Mom, Dad, Shannon, Erynn, Brynn, Callen, and I guess- Megan too.... I’m grateful for the aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins, Nana, and all the wonderful family that I have. Also- for my friends all across the world right now. I love all you guys and miss you!

2. The opportunity that I have to be a missionary

I'll be honest. I’m loving life. Some days it’s hard. It’s 115 degrees outside and there is nobody near me that knows English. But, I’m grateful for the chance I have to be a missionary and to be sharing and teaching this gospel with the people here. I’m truly humbled and grateful for this experience.

3. American food

Mas rapaz. You just don’t know how good it is until you don’t have it. Baked/mashed potatoes, steak, Red Robin burgers with stake fries and a fat chocolate milkshake, ROOT BEER!, tacos and Mexican food, take out Chinese, heck, even just fast food, slurpees, clean water, pizza without weird things on it, bacon, pancakes, waffles, blueberry muffins, normal chocolate milk, peanut M+Ms. I think you guys get the idea....Love the food here, but American food is where it’s at.

4. Rock music/guitars

Let’s be honest. you all saw this one coming. As a missionary, I can’t say I miss my music too much. I’m just saying I’m grateful for it and guitars. What’s more beautiful than an 1961 Sunburst American Fender Stratocaster? Just saying....and my Ovation at home. Like I said, as a missionary I don’t miss it much, but I am grateful for it.

5. Ultimate Frisbee.

Ok. Running through a field full of grass, without shoes on and playing ultimate Frisbee on a nice sunny day with friends. It just doesn’t get better than that...remembering this time last year, I was playing a lot. I’m grateful for ultimate Frisbee.

6. BYU

Thinking about ultimate Frisbee just brings back memories of BYU. So, I figured I’d throw it on the list. Even though BYU sports are an emotional rollercoaster that always leads to depression and anger, I've still got to admit I love them. Thinking about last year, it was a blast. BYU makes the list.

7. Cold and snow

The sad thing is that rain almost made this list, until I got here. It’s the rainy season and rains every day. But, as much as I love the heat, the perpetual summer of Manaus just leaves a little space empty. Sure, mom hates rain, but without snow, there is no snowboarding. There's just something about the cold and snow that I like. Living here has made me more grateful for it. I can’t remember what it’s like to go to sleep using a blanket! Not having a fan next to your bed all night long so you can sleep....just saying. Cold has got it’s benefits.

8. Pearl Jam’s 10

Yeah......this made the list. Pearl Jam is best. Eddie still sounds good, the guitar solos are sweet. Yeah, Pearl Jam is best.

9. Social Awkwardness

Ok, let me explain. You are probably wondering what the heck I mean by this. In the U.S, certain things aren’t socially acceptable, like leaving your house only wearing a towel, or women never shaving their legs in their entire life. The list can go on, but for your sake, I just won’t share everything. I’m just glad that somewhere in this world, there are certain things that just aren’t acceptable in public. It’s not like that here....so, got to admit, it’s a good thing

10. Gold Bond

Yeah.....sometimes it’s just necessary......again, won’t go into detail. But gold bond is a friend of missionaries in Manaus....

11. The Savior

OK, as much as I did kinda joke around in this list with a few of these things, I wanted to end on a serious note. I’m honestly so grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that He lives. I know that He suffered for our sins. And, I know that through Him we can live with our families for all eternity. I know that He lives! And I know that His gospel brings more happiness than anything else here in the world. The thing I am most grateful for is Him. I love my Savior, and I’m grateful to be sharing His gospel here!

Well, hope you guys enjoyed that. You all probably think I’m trunky right now or something, but I’m not. Just thought it would be something fun to do for Thanksgiving. Hope you guys have a great holiday! Love you and talk to you next week!

-Elder Eric Stapley

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Porto Velho, Rondonia


Farewell Family Home Evening with my friends in Manaus!
Well, this week was pretty hectic. I don't really know where to start. I should say first that I was transferred. And not just a little transfer. I'm now in a completely different state. I got sent to Rondonia and, needless to say, I still don't really know what's going on. We found out on Saturday and I was a little bummed that I didn't get to stay with Christensen until he went home, but it's all good. I'm companions with a little Brazilian guy named Elder De Jesus. Yes, Elder of/from Jesus. He's a nice guy and I'm his first junior. He wants to work hard, obey all the rules and really just go to work. We ended up teaching the first lesson last night and it went well. I was a little worried since we had never taught together, but pleased how it went. I've gotta admit though, I miss Christesnsen--actually just an American comp. Now I HAVE to speak Portuguese all day. This should make for a good transfer.

My transfer to Rondonia was by plane. It's a little ways away. (629 miles SW of Manaus and close to the Bolivian border.) It was a fun little trip and the airport here is surrounded by jungle. Rondonia is different than Manaus. First, there are no hills and all the roads are straight, it's not as hot and not as developed. There's a lot of unpaved muddy roads and a lot of trees. Our area is pretty big and from what I've seen, it looks pretty cool. Oh yeah, I'll only get packages/letters one time for each transfer, so it will take awhile to respond. The people have a different accent. A lot of them are from other parts of Brazil. I don't hear the Manaus accent, which is sad because it's cool and I'd been working on it. Funny, I said something last night to my new comp and he said, "you speak like all the people in Manaus!" This transfer should be really good for my Portuguese.

Our house is right next to the stake center. Apparently, we've a pretty big ward that will probably split soon. Oh yeah, guess what we have this weekend... a wedding. And one more marked for December. I love weddings- but sometimes they can be a lot of work. I think I understand why some missionaries get married so quick after their missions. After 2 years- full of weddings for other people, they probably just want to finally have their own and be done.

I didn't expect it would actually be sad to leave my last area. We ended our transfer really well with a wedding and baptisms. It was solid. Both were well attended. When I told people I'd be transferred, some of them started crying. It took me by surprise. Monday night, we had a big family home evening and invited a bunch of families from the ward that were my good friends. For a while I thought it was my funeral. You know the hymn that says "every life that touches ours for good", the one that's sung at funerals? Yeah, they sang it. It's not a funeral song here. They had me give a message and bear my testimony, even I cried a little bit. Then they all went around in a circle and said stuff to me. Mas rapaz. It was like a cry-fest. Some of my favorite baptisms took place there. But, I was a little surprised, I was only in that area less than 3 months and thought the people would think it's normal that I was leaving. It was pretty cool. Especially the people I taught and baptized, cried. I would see them looking at me sometimes and they would tear up. I felt like I was dying or something. So, I kinda miss the old area. But, I'm stoked to be in Rondonia and go to work here.

So, Então. até mais. Love you guys, have a good week, and tchao!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Manaus


oi!
This was a good week to be a missionary! We worked hard and had a lot of success. We had Kamila's baptism on Sat. night and it was good! At least half the ward came, almost all the youth were there and sang a musical number. The ward has really friendshipped her, which is fun to see. There was a lot of crying and some good talks given. It all went really well and was a great experience for us and for the ward. And- especially Kamila! I'm lovin' it!

Shannon, I'm so stoked for you going to Campinas and that you'll learn the celestial language of Portuguese! You're going to have such a blast. They have a temple over there! You are going to have a totally different accent than me. But don't worry-- yours is easier to get down. Paulistas talk more like Americans. I hope you get my same professors in the MTC! That would be way cool. It gets colder down there, not too cold- but at least there's a climate change, unlike the perpetual summer over here. I'm stoked for you! I'll give you some advice when it gets closer, but for now just thank the Lord that you are called to Brasil!

This week is another wedding. Life is busy. Last night the couple got interviewed for baptism and all is set for Sunday. They both want me to baptize them, so we'll see how that goes. I haven't drowned anybody yet... They are both really excited and love learning the gospel. It's fun teaching people who are so eager to learn and change their lives. They both want to repent, learn everything we can teach, and accept it all. So, this should be a fun last weekend of this trasnfer.

We've done pretty well this transfer, especially for this area. I love the area and the people, but it's hard. There are some areas in the mission that easily baptize every week, but unfortunately, this isn't one of them. But, it's helped me learn that a mission is work. We've really worked in this area and seen success. This transfer we will have had 2 weddings of families and their baptisms, and the baptism of Kamila. It's been a lot of work, but really rewarding as well.

As far as Elder Christensen and I staying together, we have no idea. This is going to be an interesting transfer. It's unlikely he'll get transferred b/c it's his last one. It's unlikely I'll get transferred b/c I've only been here for 2. But, it's also unlikely that we'll stay together for 3 transferrs. So, we really have no idea. I'm up for anything. I'm learning a lot from Elder Christensen though, he's a good teacher and friend. We have fun, but work really hard.


This was a good Portuguese week. I don't know why, but exciting. I'm not fluent yet, but I found myself understanding pretty much everyone and everything. I don't have to think as much when I talk. My accent is improving and I try to talk like these people. They've got a weird kinda accent (it's cool). I'm really trying to get it down and master the language. I can converse and teach without really any problems. I still say things wrong, but so close to understanding what they say. Once that happens, I hear the language just takes off.

Speaking of talking, guess who gave a talk in church this week? Yeah...me....Bishop told me Sat. night after the baptism that I was going to speak in church the next morning. Thanks Bishop... I gave a 10 minute talk on charity and feel like it went well. It was kinda fun. I was a little nervous at first, I didn't have Elder Christensen sitting right next to me in case I forgot a word, but I didn't really have any problems. I'm sure I said at least a few things wrong, but everyone pretended they understood. But yeah...that was fun.

Oh, Elder Christensen got some packages this week. One of which had a root beer. Mas rapaz. He's going to share with me. I'm so excited. If anybody sends me even one can of root beer, I will love them forever. You have no idea... When we opened his package and saw the bottle of root beer, we went crazy. Yeah, just saying, if anybody sends me even one small can of root beer, I'll be in heaven. Just saying....

It's still hot here! Like always. The rainy season seems like it's never going to come. Christmas is officially in full swing. Trees can be found in every house, wreaths are up all over, even houses have little Christmas lights up. To top it off--we heard The Beach Boys AND Elvis Christmas albums. No joke. In Manaus...It's weird.

I had to clean out a baptismal font that was full of bugs, again... with a cup. Sometimes I just love Manaus. An hour before the baptism, I put on a jumpsuit, jumped in, and cleaned out all the bugs. Well....almost all of them. I'm sure I missed a few ants or something. Maybe I'll get to do it again on Sunday. Shannon, I don't see you having this problem in Campinas. Maybe....but I would assume not.(Editor's note- we sent Eric a little aquarium bug scooping net this week. Might work better than a paper cup!)

Well, have a good week. Love you guys. Shannon this is for you, boa Sorte!

Oi Shannon! Eu estou animado para você! Eu amo Brasil, e eu estou muito animado que você vai vir pra cá. Depois de nossas missões nós vamos falar em Portugués! Legal neh? Eu acho que você não vai entender isso, mas tudo bem. Então, só isso. Boa sorte. E, até mais. Tchao.

Have fun...Talk to you guys next week. Tchao!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Manaus

oi! Sou Eu! This week has gone well and it's a pretty exciting time. We have transfers again on the 17th, so Elder Christensen and I are trying to end it well. It's been the same usual work and heat (it rained a little on one day this week....) but we've had a lot of fun. We will have another baptism on Saturday, it will be for Kamila, the 16 yr old girl we've been teaching. We were worried for a while that her mom wouldn't allow it (she even downright told us that she wouldn't...) but she finally signed the form. Strangely though, I was never worried about it. I just knew that her mom would allow it and she'd get baptized on the set date. I honestly can say I knew it and that the Lord would provide a way. So, that's Saturday- I'll send pics.

One other quick story with Kamila. This Sunday was fast and testimony meeting. Last month, I told her that if she spoke, I would, too. She didn't, so I challenged her again, this month. On Sunday, Elder Christensen and I bore our testimonies and waited. Finally, she stood and bore a sincere testimony about the truthfulness of the church. To give a little background, many in her family are really, really against the church. She talked about how she knew that the church was true, even though many told her it wasn't, and how it goes against so many things that she had learned and thought she knew. I'll be honest, I almost cried. Same with Christensen. Many in the ward were crying. It was one of the most fullfilling times so far on my mission, to see some one that I helped teach, bear a sincere and honest testimony about the truthfulness of the gospel. It just hit me. This was a really rewarding exprience and it makes me want to work even harder. It's interesting to see the changes that the gospel makes in peoples lives. It was a cool experience.

Everything is set for the wedding on the 14th. The bride has already bought a ton of food and invited a lot of people. It should be a fun time. She has some kids that are in love with me. They have a 2 year old daughter that has decided she will marry me. haha.

So,I ate a weird food this week. Check this one out. Milk left out 4 days to rot (I don't remember what they call it), then refrigerate it and eat it with a spoon. It's weird. I only ate a little bit...just because. I can't say it was the best tasting thing in the world, either. Luckily, the member that served it wasn't offended that I only ate a little. Even his own kids don't like it.

It's getting closer to transfers. I'm curious to see what's going to happen. Christensen goes home at the end of the next transfer, so it'd be weird if they put him in a new area. It seems more likely that I'd move. We'll find out on the 14th.

Oh, so Christmas is coming to Manaus. People have started busting out wreaths and trees and lights. It's so weird! It feels like the middle of summer, it's 110 degress every day. Erynn probably knows exactly how many days until Christmas...

Parabens to Shannon. Good luck. Be prepared for Canada! I called it. Just sayin.

Anyway, I just thought how glad I am to know that the church of Jesus Christ is here on the earth today. It really isn't just any other church, but was perfectly restored here on the earth. I know the Lord restored the church through the Prophet Joseph Smith, and that today we have the same church that Jesus Christ established when he was on the earth. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God and is a proof of God's love for us. There is no way that it could have been written by Joseph Smith. It truly is a solid proof and evidence that the Church of Jesus Christ was restored. It is the word of God, just like the Bible (the Bible even prophesises of it). I'm sure I just spelled that wrong, but I'll blame it on the Portugúes. I know that this church is true and that it brings more happiness to people and families than anything else in this world. I've seen the changes it's made in the lives of people and I can honestly say that this gospel is true! I love sharing it with the people here!

I love you guys, and Tchao!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Manaus

It's another P-day and I'm in the center (downtown) with Elder Christensen. He goes home in December and is buying some stuff for his family. We are also looking for a purple tie for the groom in the next wedding we have. It's hectic, but we have another wedding/baptism marked for the 14th. The couple loves us and are determined to get married/baptised before either of us get transfered. So, we are looking forward to that. Also, we have the potential for another wedding/baptism. Yesterday, we did splits with another companionship in our district. When Elder Christesen was in the other aea, someone on the street stopped him, told him she has been an inactive member for years and that she wants to go back to church, get married, and her non-member 'husband' wants to be baptized. I haven't met them yet, but we are going to visit them later this week. I guess the family of this girl are active members in the ward right next to us. So, looks like there is potential for another wedding in the near future.

It was deathly hot this week. One day, it was already 110 degrees by 11 am. The rainy season starts up in December and I can't wait. It's not too unbearable during the day, but it can be at night. A lot of houses (specifically ours....) steal power. It's normal here. But since our house and a bunch of houses around ours are stealing power from another line, we lose power a lot. And, sleeping at night without a fan is impossible. Last night the power was out for a few hours, and I was dying just trying to sleep. I cant wait for rain...

So, in my last email- I think I called an avacado a guac. Shows how much English I'm forgetting. I had to think about how to say advocado and still called it the wrong thing. You figured it out. I tried something else new. They have a bunch of random fruits. I tried some açai juice. It was alright. They make an ice cream out of it, and it's terrible. It's like a bitter fruit thing. The people like to give me fruit from here, even the terrible ones...but it's all good.

Yesterday, I was on a division with an Elder from Rio. He's cool and it was good for me because I only spoke in Portugúes. Everyday I speak and understand more.

It was Manaus' birthday. We were walking and saw a parade from one of the schools around here. They were playing trumpets and drums and it sounded pretty terrible. But, cool to see. It was the same day as our Bishop's birthday.

Oh, I ate some other weird food this week. Cow intestines and cow stomach. Neither of which are as good as chicken heart. I preferred the intestines to the stomach, but I wouldn't recommend either. They are really squishy and slimy and just kinda weird. They don't really have a great taste either, so it's not a great combo. After that, we made an American cake that Elder Christensen got (complete with rainbow chip frosting!) and it was great. The Brazilians didn't like it too much, but I ate 5 pieces. So good!

So, is Shannon getting her call this week? I'm placing my bet right now. Canada. I haven't decided if she will speak french, english, or mandarin (yes- they have mandarin speaking canadian missions). Just callin it.

I guess it's Halloween this week. They don't celebrate it here and people are actually pulling out all the Christmas decorations already.

I'll try to send some pictures next week. I think that's pretty much it for now. Have a good week and I'll write next Wednesday. Love you guys, Tchao!

-Elder Eric Stapley

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Manaus

Olá familía. Well, it's been another week and I'm back. It went by pretty fast actually. It was nice to be done with the last wedding, we had more time to find people and teach. Though, it seems like the good ones come to us. We are on track for another wedding and baptisms before this transfer is over- only 3 weeks or so! The ex-bishop of our ward lives with his brother and sister and they have never really been interested in the church. But, they went to the wedding last week, stake conference and some other activities, and have decided that they will be getting married and baptised before this transfer is over. They don't want to take the chance that one of us gets transferred. They've already picked out who is going to baptize them and are making wedding plans. I love it when people come to us and tell us that they want to be baptized! I guess we'll see what happens with that, but these next few weeks could be a little busy.

Here's a story you might like. We have to fill up the font on Saturday before a Sunday baptism, because sometimes the buildings randomly loose water. So, like usual, we filled it up Sat night. We looked in the font during church the next day... and it was full of dead bugs. Lovely, huh? Just gotta love Manaus. But, we couldn't empty the font during church and we didn't have time to refill it. So, during priesthood, I changed into a macacão, a white baptism jumpsuit. (It actually translates to mean "big monkey" though...) I jumped into the font with a cup and started fishing out all the bugs. During all of priesthood, I was emptying dead ants and bugs from the font with a little cup. By the time priesthood was over, it was looking pretty good. Be happy you don't have to worry about fishing out a bunch of dead bugs with a little plastic cup.


Speaking of fishing/fish, these people have been holding out on me the 2 months I've been here. We usually don't get fed fish because they think it's poor people's food, but this week, I had some good fish. The little fish are annoying because they have a bunch of little bones that you could choke on and die, but they taste good. This week I ate tambaqui and pirarucu, they were so good! I've decided river fish are SO much better than sea fish. Tambaqui still have some bones, but they are pretty big and you don't really need to worry. But, pirarucu is so so so good. It's a 6 foot long massive river fish without bones. We had some kinda filet of pirarucu and fried pirarucu. It was so good. I don't know why they have been holding out on me. We also ate some sea fish, but it just wasn't so good. River fish beat sea fish, hands down.

Oh, so I am also addicted to another food here. Abacatada. This will sound gross, but it's legit. We make it every day in our house. It's a guacamole smoothie. You throw in half a guac with some ice, water, powdered milk (yes, we use powdered milk- we're too poor for the real thing and it works) and the ocassional banana. (And lots of sugar, of course.) It sounds gross, but they are so good. The guacs here are bigger than the ones in the US. But, yeah, abacatada, way good.

We had zone conference yesterday, it was good. President gave some training and a lesson about being better planners. It was cool to see some other missionaries. One of the guys I knew in the CTM, is off in the interior. He's got a picture with this fat sloth- just chillin. I can't wait to head off to some sweet interior...

Our power went out Monday night (which happens all the time) and we expected it to come back on in 5 minutes- like usual. It was out until 1am. We sat around with little candles, waiting. It was so hot that night and without fans- it's impossible to sleep. Finally, we went to bed, but it took a long time to fall asleep. Gotta love Manaus!

I got the package! Thank you! Peanut butter is so good. American candy has Brazilian candy beat. What was up with only pink starbursts? Did Callen eat all the other ones? Thank you, though, it's appreciated. Ideas for the next one (just saying): Cheez-its (not Cheese Nips, they're terrible) poptarts, any variety of M+Ms, American deoderant (the stuff here just doesn't work). Just some ideas if you are throwing one together. I'd love anything American. So, thanks!

The rainy season is coming. Some days it rains a lot, and other days it's still hotter than anything else. Last night it rained for 5 minutes and it was crazy. I think it might have even had Seattle beat, if that's possible. The alleyway to our house was like a river. I was out in the rain for- honestly- 20 seconds running to our house and I was drenched. I love it! It gets so hot here sometimes, the rain is just a nice break.

Well, I guess that's it for now, hope all is well, have a good week, and love you guys! Tchao!

-Elder Eric Stapley

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Manaus




It was a pretty hectic and busy week, but overall pretty solid. We had a wedding on Saturday and that was a lot of work. We were running around all week and pretty much all of Saturday, preparing for the wedding and making sure everything was on tract. It turned out really well! It was well attended and the bride and groom really enjoyed it. We were able to mark a lot of appointments with the nonmembers in attendance. Some tell us that they want to get married and baptised before the next transfer (just in case Elder Christensen or I get transferred...) We'll see how that goes. We've already talked to one of the couples and it sounds like they really want to join the church. That's pretty sweet. We'll see what happens. I was looking fresh at the wedding- I wore my suit and a pair of shoes I hadn't worn yet, they were all shiny...Luckily, I didn't get robbed or anything... The baptism went really well on Sunday and a lot of people attended, which is always good.

It rained! That's always nice. We had a few storms, mostly during the night, but it's so nice waking up to rain and a cool little breeze. The rainy season doesn't start until December and apparently it will rain every day...a lot! I'm stoked for that- because it's really hot here....

I finally ate fish. It was pretty good. It was some little fish that was kinda hard to eat with the spine and bones all over the place. I'm getting used to rice and beans all day...which is good, considering we eat it every day. I saw a chameleon this week, surpising to see it this close to the city. I tried to catch him but he was a fast little guy.


We played soccer this morning with our zone. Portuguese is coming along. I'm able to joke around more with the people now, so that's pretty cool.

Still haven't gotten the package. At this point, I'm just hoping that it shows up. The post is still on strike and a few days ago we saw a large area of red and smoke. Turns out, our post office just burned to the ground. So...that's unfortunate....

Well, we had a really good week as far as lessons go and are teaching some families that have potential. We are always trying to find new people to teach, but are doing pretty well for this area.
Have a good week, love you guys, and tchao!

-elder eric stapley

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Week 15 Manaus

Hey guys!

It's Wednesday again! This week went well! I'm still here in good 'ol Lagoa Verde with Elder Christensen. I knew I'd be here, but I wasn't sure if Christensen was going to be transferred. He wasn't, so we're both here for another transfer. This transfer should go well. We have a wedding on Saturday, followed by their baptisms on Sunday. We marked 2 more baptism dates for later in October and we are working hard. One of the dates is for Camilla, which is cool. She wants to get baptised, but her family says we are an evil cult that will lead her to "inferno." So, it's tough, but I think she will get baptised on the marked day.

It's hot here! I'm pretty used to it and have accepted it will always be hot. This week was kinda gross. There were a few fires in the forest, and it was all smoky and muggy and dirty in the whole city. I'm glad it's warm here and not snowing. I'll take the heat any day!

General conference was a lot of fun. It went by too fast though, probably because it was my first opportunity to just sit down for a little while. We walked to the stake center (a 20-25 minute walk) and spent the day over there. Between sessions on Saturday, we taught a lesson to Camilla (who came to 3 sessions) and just hung out and talked with the members. Thankfully, they had conference in English. We had 4 Americans sitting in a little upstairs room (w/out air conditioning) in the stake center watching conference. Other than the room being so hot, I really enjoyed it. I think my favorite talk was by Elder Holland. Mas Rapaz. I love it when apostles throw down. I really enjoyed all of conference though, it was great. It was also nice just to see the United States. But, that was definitely the highlight of this week. I can't wait for the next one. Christensen kept saying next conference he would be sitting on his couch, eating abelskeviers (I'm sure I just butchered that spelling.) Turns out his family eats them, too. We both got pretty excited to find that our families both make them. That was pretty funny.

I have not yet gotten the package. They never take this long, from what I hear. Christensen's mom sent him a package 2 months ago and he hasn't gotten it yet. It's lame. They usually take about 10 days. The mail people are still on strike. So, I'm hoping it shows up soon...

We never go tracting. I've never just randomly knocked on a door and asked to share a message. I'm glad about that. We just street contact and try to get referals.

I finally ate fish. It was really good. We ate at a member's house, who is a little better off than others around here, and they got food from a restraunt. It was some kind of fillet, I don't know what, but I really liked it. That wasn't normal, though. Usually you have to pick around the little bones of the fish, and be careful not to swallow them or they could kill you, etc.

We were invited to a members house for FHE on Monday and they played UNO. It was really fun. It's cool to see members who really live the gospel. Also, the mom of the family cooks really well, so we scored some good food.

We have a new Elder in our district of 4. An elder in our district was transferred, and his comp is now training a new American. I'm not the youngest guy in my district anymore! Which feels kinda cool. Every transfer, the district leader (Elder Christensen) does a division with the senior of the other area. Meaning, sometime in the next few weeks, it's going to be me and somebody fresh out of the MTC for a day. Yeah....my Portuguese is getting better, but we'll see how that goes....

Portuguese is improving. My accent is getting better. Sometimes I say things in an American accent and Christensen calls me out on it. That's good.

We are going to an Amazon museum today, I'll take pics and send some next week. But, I think that's all for right now. Pray I get my package, love you guys. Have a good week. Tcaho!

-Elder Eric Stapley

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Week 14 Manaus

Bom Dia!

Sou Eu. This week was really hot, like usual, but overall it was pretty good. We had a baptism that went well and taught a decent amount of lessons. I've been in Manaus for one month now! That's kinda cool. On Saturday, we'll find out if anyone is being transferred. I'm sure I'll stay here, but Elder Christensen could leave. I'm guessing (and hoping...) that we both stay here, though. I'm learning a lot from Elder Christensen and he's a cool guy. I hope we stay here for one more transfer. I guess I'll find out on Saturday. So next week it's possible (but not likely) I could be emailing you from the interior of the Amazon.

Next month should be good here in Lagoa Verde. We already have 2 baptisms marked and some potentials, including Camila (that 16 year old girl). We aren't really big into baptizing kids and teenage girls, but she wants to get baptized next month. After some decent Bible bashes and frustrating lessons, she wants to get baptzied. She wants to take her time though, so that's part of the reason I want to be here next month. So, we'll see what goes down.

Oh, I finally had some weird food. I ate chicken heart. I'm not sure how weird that is, but I ate it. A sister in our ward made lunch for us and made a bunch of chicken hearts. She said I didn't have to eat it, but they liked them. So, I tried it, they're really not bad. I actually kinda liked it. So, yeah. Chicken hearts. Other than that it's just rice and beans, like usual. I still haven't eaten fish (nobody makes it for us). In other areas they only eat fish, I'm sure I'll try it soon. We went to MCDonalds again this week, which was amazing but expensive. I love french fries and burgers.

To answer your questions- I don't know if the post office is still on strike. Also, we will go to general conference and watch it live. A little room is set up for missionaries to watch it in English.

Nothing really too different happened this week. Portuguese is still coming along, and I get better every day. Elder Christensen is really trying to help me with my accent and to get it down early. It's hard but really helpful. He speaks really well. Some Brazilians are surprised when they find out he's American. I'm still waiting for that to happen to me....but it will! That would be cool, Shannon, if you learned Portuguese

Oh, another thing. You guys should send me more pictures. Brazilians love pictures, especially of America. Tons of people ask to see pictures of the U.S., our families, and us before our missions. You can decide what to send- if you don't mind.

Well, anyways, thats pretty much it for this week. Hope your week goes well, love you guys, e por agora, Tchao!

-Elder Eric Stapley

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Week 13 Manaus


Hey guys!

I've only got an hour to email and send pics, so it might be a little shorter today. Hope you don't mind. We just got done bowling with our zone. It was pretty fun, and after this we are going to get some good ol' McDonalds. Too bad it's way expensive here, but American food is just so good. We had Pizza Hut last week and went full out- large pizza with canadian bacon, pepperoni,and stuffed crust and unlimited refills. Too bad it was like R$70...But it was SO good. I'm already getting tired of rice and beans, and the pizzas here aren't normal. So Pizza Hut was sweet!

Anyway, this week was alright. A lot of stuff fell through and some investigators are being a little difficult, but some went well. The 16-year old girl, Camila, came to church again and went to seminary every day they had it this week. We've visited her a lot. She's hard to teach because she just drills us with questions. But, we got her to pray about our message and she felt something. She's difficult but I'm sure one day she will be baptized. I'm hoping soon. I guess we'll see what happens....but she is progressing.

So, I caught some Amazon sickness for 4 days or so. That was fun. Don't worry, I'm not dying or anything. But I'll be honest, it sucked. I had a fever and my head felt like it was about to explode. My entire body hurt. I honestly felt like I had been hit by a truck. repeatedly. I guess one benefit of the sickness (I can't remember the name of it) was that I was cold! Freezing, actually. That has never happened here, and I don't see it happening again unless I get sick. So, I guess that was a benefit. I'm pretty much better now, still kinda sore, but it's all good.

It rained this week. We were at lunch at a member's house and heard a LOUD burst of thunder, the power went out and the heavens opened with rain. It was amazing. It poured like Seattle in April. Possibly even more. It was nuts. It also hailed. All the Brazilian kids who have never seen snow thought it was snowing. Poor kids. It didn't last more than 45 min, but it was cool. After, it was super muggy and gross. It's already super humid here, but it made it even more muggy and sticky. Bleh!

I can honestly say I don't think I've ever sweat so much in my entire life. This hasn't happened to me yet, but people sweat so much that salt forms on their forehead. It happens to my companion sometimes. I can see salt on my black socks when I take them off at the end of the day. I'm sure you all really wanted to know that. Apparently, papigaios (the little green parrots) love when salt forms on your forehead and lick it off. Elder Christensen told me a member had one as a pet and every time they went over, it would lick his forehead. haha. I'm waiting to see that happen.

I need to tell you guys there is a strike at the post office. So, letters are being slow right now. I hope your package shows up soon, but I honestly think it will take awhile.

So, yeah, that was the highlights of my week. I'm still just chilling here in the amazon, talking to people, teaching, and trying to find more people to teach. We are having a baptism this week and another 2 the first week in October. I could technically not be here, but I'm pretty sure I won't get transferred. I'll write more next week. Have a great week, keep it real, love you guys!

-Elder Eric Stapley

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Week 12


The Manaus Opera House

oi!
Sou Eu! We have 3 more baptism dates and some new investigators. Two dates are for a couple that's been wanting to get baptised for 6 months, but like most couples in Brasil, they aren't married. No joke, nobody here is married. It costs R$350 to be married, with the church it's only R$80. This couple went through a bunch of missionaries and they finally want to get married (we had to do some encouraging/throwing down). We've marked a day for their wedding and baptism. It's right after the transfer, so we'll see if I'm still here.

In some areas you baptize a family every week, and if you don't, the members ask why there wasn't a baptism that week. Our area isn't like that, but we are working really hard and seeing some successes. We taught more than 20 lessons this week, so there's potential.

I'll share a story with you guys. There are tons of churches in Manaus. Everywhere! We pass one that's pretty intense- every night on the way to our house. They yell and scream and cast out devils. They can get pretty crazy. Every night we see a girl in the church. Elder Christensen says she has been giving the missionaries the death glare forever. So, I decided to start staring back. why not right? So every night it was like a staring contest between me and this 16 year old girl. We thought she wanted to kill us. But, we show up to church on Sunday and guess who's there, 20 minutes early, sitting next to Bishop's wife? The girl! She said she might be looking for a new church (her mom and fam too). She sees us every night and knows a bunch of yw. She really enjoyed church and asked if we could teach her. We met up to teach her yesterday, and this girl is smart. She knows the scriptures like none other and asked some really hard questions. Luckily, we answered all of them (as well as we could...) I thought I knew the Bible, but I think she's got me beat. Luckily, Elder Christensen knew what to say and how to answer everything. By the end of the lesson it was an in depth, rapid fire question answer session. She had read some in the Livro de Mórmon and was asking good questions. Finally though, after a long time of Elder Christensen and her going back and forth, I asked if I could say something. She agreed, I told her I wanted to bear my testimony. I told her I know the things we teach are true and we weren't there to convince her, but to invite her to know for herself. I promised her if she prayed with an open heart (I emphasized that) she would know if it's true. We closed up our lesson and took her to seminary (it's at night here, and she wanted to go). We'll see what happens when we visit her later this week, I'm hoping for good things...

We are going to Pizza Hut for Elder Christensens b-day! President isn't able to go with us, which is unfortunate. He said if he were in town he'd have gone with us. They have pepperoni!!!! I'm so stoked!

Some of the poor parts of our area have wooden bridge walkways and wood houses up on sticks. When it floods, the water goes all the way up to the houses. When I'm in those areas it really reminds me I'm in the Amazon.

Portuguese- some days are better than others. Some people here are so hard to understand! I have no clue what the older people are saying. Just when I start feeling good about the language, I meet someone I can't understand and get humbled. Elder Christensen is helping me with my accent. I'll be honest, it's hard. Elder Christensen speaks so well that some people think he's brasilian. I'm hoping one day people will ask me if I'm brasilian!

Brasilian girls really like american guys. It's awkward. Well, not to them. NOTHING is awkward to them. They don't even have a word for awkward! So, they tell us as we walk by (so we can hear) that they like us. Yeah...sometimes I wish that things were awkward....

We had a zone conference on Monday. 80 missionaries met up and had trainings from President. I met some of Irmão Ramóns old companions who wanted to meet me. The bus ride to the conference was 2 hours, on a crowded, crowded bus. It was insane. The conference was really fun and definately a booster.

Thanks for the updates. Hope all is going well back home, love you guys.

-Elder Eric Stapley

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Week 11

This week went well. Not as easy as last week, but still well. A lot of appts fell through (which happens a lot) but we are teaching and have some progressing investigators.

We now have AC in our church building! It's sweet! We only had 50 ppl at church last Sunday (and you guys thought our ward was small...) It was testimony meeting, so I introduced myself and bore a little testimony. I think they understood me...at least I hope so. We are in one of the hardest zones and wards in Manaus. When I move to an area that baptizes every week -I will appreciate it that much more! But, I'm enjoying my ward and getting to know and work with the members.

The people here have a nickname for me. Elder Harry Potter. They all think I look like him. And,also- Elder Grampeador (Elder Stapler). It's pretty fun. My Portuguese is getting better and I'm starting to be able to joke around with the people a little more. I continue to understand and speak a little better every day, When I teach, I don't always have to think about how to say things in Portuguese. I still can't wait until I'm fluent though!

It's freaking hot! Starting at 10 or 11 in the morning, it's 100 degrees for the rest of the day. I'm getting a sweet tan line. It's really attractive... We try to drink a lot. I like the heat and I'm glad I'm not in Siberia or something. Fortunately, our showers don't have heat, so that's one of my favorite parts of the day.

I'm glad to hear about BYU!!! Elder Christensen got more details than me, we got a good update. I hope it's not like every other year where they just die near the end (or middle) of the season. Next Wedneday for Elder Christensen's b-day, we are going to Pizza Hut! We are even inviting President. It's right on the edge of our area and I'm stoked for the change from rice and beans.

Sorry this may be a little short, but I have to email the president. Thanks for the letters btw (j, k, andrew, blaine!) Erynn, who are your teachers? How's the 'quah? Hope you're doing well. I'll email next week! Love you guys, Tchao!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Week 10





Well, I just got done with my first week in Manaus! It's been good for the most part. I baptized a girl named Brenda. She and her mom were baptized, and she wanted the elder I replaced to do the baptism, since I took his place, I was able to do it! It was a pretty cool experience. We had the baptism on Sunday after church and it was great! A lot of members of the ward came and a lot of investigators. We had 11 investigators in our ward on Sunday, which is a miracle for this area. I'm serving in one of the hardest areas in the city. But, after a lot of investigators saw the baptism, they all want to be baptized as well! We had a few ask us if they could be baptized right then and there! We are hoping for some success this month with baptisms. We had several investigators that are SO close! A lot of them know it's true, they know it. There are just some life-style changes that need to occur, but I have faith that things will work out with some of them. So, if all goes well, we should have some weddings and some baptisms. I'm excited!

It's hot here! My first couple days were pretty cloudy and not really that bad, but it's been getting warmer. Turns out September is the hottest month of the year. Whoo! It's the dry season, never rains and there should never even be a breeze. But, I brought some Seattle weather with me I guess. A few days we had some breezes and there were some clouds. So that's cool. The Brasileros make fun of me for being white. I put a little sunscreen on and have never really burned. Well, a little on my neck, but it's not bad. I'm getting tan and have a line. Gross...but whatever I guess.

I've learned so much with the language this week. The first couple days were pretty hard. People talk fast and with and accent. At first I had no clue what was going on- which drives me nuts. I'm starting to get better with it and am understanding more than at the beginning of the week. In the CTM, I learned how to speak decently, but hearing is different. My trainer speaks like a Brazilian. It's helpful for me. He's helping me with my accent and helping me learn the language. I can't wait for the day that I'm fluent! I just wish it were soon!

My dad (Elder Christensen) is way cool. All the trainers are called pais and the trainees are filhos (dads/kids). He's funny and we get along well. He's been in this area for 3 months, so it's nice to have an in with the members. We get along really well, and I can never imagine there being a problem with us. He's a good missionary and teaches me a lot.

So, you asked about the food. This one is going to be a big surprise. Rice and beans!! Every lunch (well- except one- there were no beans). It's pretty good though, and I'm glad it's not something worse. For breakfast, (which isn't really formal at all. It's like a snack) I eat cereal. Lunch is the big meal here, and we usually eat with members, unless they forget. Then they usually give us money and we go to a restaurant. They also like to eat noodles, but with nothing on them. It's kinda weird...but I like the variety. We don't eat dinner. I think we did once. That's our time to find people at home and to teach. When we get back home we make some eggs or a little snack. That's the food. In some of the poorer areas they eat a lot more fish, but here- rice and beans. The drinks are way good though. Like passion fruit juice or pineapple juice, guava, mango. So good!

I'm in the central part of the city and not really IN the rainforest. But even parts of the city are right next to it. You see monkeys and snakes. You could just walk right into the forest. I hear that's a cool area to serve. The wards are big over there and the work is exploding with lots of baptisms, and the churches are packed. I saw my first snake this week. He wasn't too big, but it was cool to see. I've seen papigioes. (I'm sure I spelled that wrong.) They are the smaller green parrots and are crazy. I haven't seen an arara yet, the BIG red parrots. I guess they are huge. The little papigoes are pretty funny and some people keep them as pets and teach them words. It was funny the first time I heard one saying "oi". They yell words and whistle at you. It's pretty funny. I guess some will even say their owner's name. I'm looking forward to seeing a full arara.

Today, we are at the center, the downtown area. My pai took me to see the Rio Negro and showed me the old opera house and other sights.
Props to Shannon for the mission papers! It's hard, but you'll love it! Hopefully, you get called to Brazil. But, props to you.

So one interesting thing- this area is nuts with churches. There are more churches than I ever knew existed, and some of them are crazy. You can hear them yelling and screaming down the street. There are so many different churches- like more than the McDonald's and Starbucks combined in Seattle (probably add gas stations to that, too.) The people are super religious, which is what makes it hard sometimes. They all have their church, or believe there isn't one true church. Most of the people are nice, but it can be hard to talk with them about religion because they believe so many different things. But,it's fun!

Well, that's pretty much it for now. Oh, if you guys ever feel like sending me a package you should send some skittles, peanut butter and jelly, and taco seasoning. You are probably wondering why taco seasoning. It's because this place is driving me nuts for mexican food. Elder Christensen, too. I feel like I should be able to go pick up a taco or tortilla or Mexican food anywhere! But it doesn't exist! So, if you ever send a package, that would be appreciated. So, have a good week, keep it real, and yeah...Love you guys. Tchao!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Manaus!






from the top: Eric's new comp Elder Christensen, Manaus temple site, friends from the CTM, CTM district, teacher Irmano Ramos

Oi família!

Eu estou no Manaus agora! I'm serving in the central part of the city of Manaus. It's a pretty decent sized city. From my area you can see where Rio Preto e Rio Amazonas run together. I flew with 2 americans and 7 brasileros. I'm super stoked to be here, I was going crazy at the CTM and by the last week I was kinda dying. I loved my district, but we all started getting annoyed with each other by the end. I can see myself kicking it with some of them after the mission, cool guys. Oh, btw, they all loved the ice cream shakes and were very happy for them!

It's weird that I'm actually here. Today is still P-day (quarta-feira/Wednesday). It's pretty humid and the hottest time of the year, but the past 2 days have been "really cold." Meaning 85-90ish. The day before I came it was 105 or 110. Something nuts like that. I love the sun though, especially after not seeing it for 9weeks in the CTM. I'm kinda white...I hope I don't just fry.

We were greeted by the President and APs at the airport, went to the temple construction ground (mostly just dirt) and went to President Jayme's house. The food there was good, SO much better than the CTM! And- we had ice cream- it was great. We learned a little about the Manaus mission, talked about health, went to the mission office, had interviews and got our new comps and areas. After that, we played a few games (one which my comp and I dominated!) and had a little meeting where the trainers bore their testimonies. A lot of them thought I could speak Portuguese really well and were impressed. I hope I do fine with the language...the accent here is a little different, but I understand the general meaning.

My comp, Elder Christensen, is from Idaho, goes home in December and is a way good guy. All the APs said that I scored, and President Jayme said really nice things about him. We get along great. I like him. Tonight we have an appointment to teach the 1st lesson!! Whoo! I'm so stoked. Hopefully, I can remember everything I learned...but I'm not really worried about it. We have some progressing investigators in our area and we actually have a baptismal service on Saturday! I haven't met them yet, but I hear they are nice.

The Manaus mission is one of the most successful in Brazil. We are in an area where the church has been here a little longer. There are members in our ward that have been active for 30 years or so, which is really cool. But, I guess they aren't always the most helpful to the missionaries or the most humble. My area includes some humbler (I doubt that's a word but whatever) areas and some better off places. So, it's one of the harder areas in Manaus. I'm down with that though. Our bishop is 27 yrs old (some of the older members have a tough time with that). I hear he's way cool. I like my comp and am excited to find out more about the area and meet more people.

This morning I met the previous stake president's wife and 2 other sisters as they were going to visit the people getting baptised on Saturday. They were nice and asked if I could speak Portuguese. I understood most of what they said, but it'll take a little getting used to the new accent.

Oh, I need to tell you about my apartment. It's really nice! For missionary standards...I guess...2 companionships used to live there but now it's just my comp and me. We have 2 bathrooms, 4 beds, and 2 refrigerators. Cool animals I've seen (if you want to actually say cool)- a parrot and some parakeets. Other than that, I've seen cockroaches...in my apartment. I hate them. I've only seen 1 or 2 but they are there. I just need to get used to them. Better than the cockroaches,we have a rat that lives around our apartment. He's never gone in, but he'll hang out in between our house and wall and washing machine. My bed is close to a window, and I guess missionaries have woke up to see him right there next to the ledge. They tried many times to get rid of him but I guess he's huge. Fun... The showers have one kind of heat... you don't know how cold it will be. That's not bad. I like the cold water, it's the ONLY time I won't be hot. Overall.I like it. It's a nice place and really not that bad.

Hope all is well with you. Send me some cartas. Obrigado. Anyway, love you guys. Tchao!

-Elder Eric Stapley

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Week 8



Oi!

How’s it going? Thank you so much for the Cheney's gift certificate. My district loves you Mom. They specifically wanted me to express their love for you and want you to know that you are the best and saved some of their lives. You have no idea how excited the district was when I told them we were gonna have a party! I can’t take a picture inside of Mr. Cheney's, but I’ll definitely take some with my district.

This week went pretty well. We went out proselyting in downtown São Paulo and it was awesome, except they only let us have 2 Livros de Mórmon (lame). Considering last time we gave out 8. But, it was all good. We just made sure the people we gave them to would actually read them and I had them promise me they would call the missionaries. It was fun. The first one we gave out was to a lady just walking down the street. I stopped her and just asked how she was and told her that we're missionaries and had a message for her. She looked semi-interested, so we continued. I just started asking her if she had a family (she hesitated for 1 second, which scared me. Because if she said no, then that would have been awkward...), but she said yes, and told me about her son. I asked if she loved her son. She looked a little taken back at first but then said, "Claro!" (meaning "of course!") Score. So then I asked her if she wanted to live with her son forever, after this life. She said yes and then I told her about how God loves us and wants us to live with our families forever, and he told us how we can. That lead into the Book of Mormon, and I promised her that she could live with her family and be happy forever. I gave her the Book of Mormon and asked if she would read it, then had her promise she would call the missionaries (who can speak better Portuguese than I can) and they could tell her more about the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was legit. I understood everything she was saying to me, and I genuinely think she will read it. It was so much fun!

The other guy we gave it too was pretty cool too. He passed us in the street (which are insanely busy) and he said "Good afternoon" to us. We replied in Portuguese and kind of kept walking. My companion and I both then just stopped and turned around, just in time to see him turn around too. So, we walked right up to him and just started talking. He spoke some English, and he told us how he learned, and how he likes Americans. Then we told him we are learning Portuguese and love Brasileros! We then just started saying where we were from and stuff, which led into why we are in Brasil. We ended up telling him about the church and the LgM and he almost read it on the spot. He told us that he loves to read and wants to learn more about Mormons, so we made him promise us to call the missionaries too! So legit!

Not all of our experiences were like these two though. We got shut down and preached to. That was exciting. It reminded me of the first time we went proselyting and some guy was telling us how he believes in Science! I’m not sure if I told you guys that or not, but it reminded me so much of Nacho Libre. But, it was way fun to just go out and talk to Brasileros and about the church.

I’m SO stoked to be in Manaus soon. Under a week left! I feel ready. It starts to get kind of hard in the CTM all the time. So many new missionaries are showing up. It's nuts. I’m glad I came when I did, because now it’s crazy, but still fun (I guess...not really...) Basketball is way fun. I’m going to miss that part. When you play basketball everyday you kind of get attached to it and it becomes the favorite part of the day.

Anyways, I’m trying to think what else is up. Umm...Sunday I took a nap! For like an hour! Not very long, but it felt so good. I hope I can take another one this Sunday, but since it’s our last Sunday here we have some extra meetings and stuff. I’m starting to get used to this sleep schedule though. Well mostly. We went to the temple today, so we got up at like 5:30, and I was out of it. But 6:30 isn’t too bad anymore (that sounds so weird to say)

Oh, before I forget. Shoutout to Shannon. Thank you for the news about Les Paul. I cried inside for a while. No joke.

Well, I'm trying to think what else is new. Nothing really. Just lots of class and practicing. My companion and I teach really well together, which is good, but our professors expect a lot out of us. But it’s fun.

Hope you guys are having fun on your trip. I’ll get pics to you guys soon, I promise. Maybe today if I can. Well, time is short so I’m going to go. So, love you guys, hope all is well. Looking forward to letters as always. Erynn you should probably change my address to the one in Manaus now though. I’m peacing out. So bye, love you guys!

-Elder Eric Stapley

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Week 7

Oi!

Thanks for the updates. It’s nice hearing from home. I’m glad that grandpa is improving! To quickly answer some of your questions, I leave here the 25th. So, I’m almost there!! I can’t wait! I will fly with 2 other Americans and 6 Brasileros. It will take about 4 hours, if it’s a direct flight. I’m so excited to get out there. I’ll miss a few guys in my district that have become pretty good friends.

Only family can email me while I’m in the CTM. Maybe, when I’m in the field, the rules will be different. I only have one more P-day here!!! I’ll find out in like 13 days or so! (If you can’t tell, I’m excited to leave the CTM...)

Let’s see...I go proselyting again this Friday. We get bussed to a different part of São Paulo and they let us loose. Should be fun. Portuguese is still coming along well. We are now spending a lot of class time teaching the 3rd lesson, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s fun. I can have pretty good conversations with Brasileros. We got new Brasilian roommates this week, they are both going to Manaus! They can’t speak any English, so we just talk to them in Portuguese. We can carry on a pretty good conversation. One of them is actually engaged...weird...We actually got a new district of Brasileros in our hall last week and 4 or 5 of them are engaged. Have rings and everything...so that’s kinda different. They are way cool guys though and think it’s cool that I’m going to Manaus with a bunch of them.

We are now the 2nd oldest district in the CTM! I try to help some of the new guys in our hall. We have designated times in our district when we try to only speak Portuguese, and we pretty much can for the most part. It’s way fun.

Oh! Before I forget (‘cuz I did last week) Mom, you know I already love you and think you are the greatest mom in the world. But, if you bought me a Mr. Cheney’s cookie, you would become that much better. I think you can buy them online and I can go pick it up. That would be amazing (I hear the cookie shakes are amazing...Just saying...)

Glad to hear Girls camp went well, and you guys are heading to NYC and Boston. That’s way cool. I’m ready for some warm weather. It’s technically winter here and sometimes gets a little chilly. I’m glad Manaus is warm all year long (well...I say that now...) My friends from Manaus left this week and gave me the addresses of their families in case I am ever in their area.

Oh, so here’s a funny story. We have meetings with all the Americans on Saturday nights and my district leader assigned me to conduct the music (mostly because he didn’t want to) so I thought, ”no big deal”. We were singing the hymn in English and I only had a Portuguese hymn book. They never told me what the song was and just went right into it. I had to hurry up front and just figured the song would be in 4/4. Too bad- it wasn’t. So, I finally figured out it was in 6/8. And then there was a time change, and then another! I had no idea what time the music was in. I was just waving my hand and looking ridiculous. My district was all cracking up. Once I even spelled my name in the air. It was terrible. Luckily, almost nobody else knew the hymn, so they were looking at the projectors off to the side and trying to figure it out. My district and some of my other friends were just dying laughing. I was cracking up, too. I probably should have been more embarrassed, but it was hilarious. Anyway, good times!

Time is running out. Hit me up with letters this week! Next week start sending letters to Manaus because they take an extra week to get there. Anybody can send me letters. They are like gold! Keep it real. Love you guys, have a good week. Gotta run. Tchao!!

-Elder Eric Stapley

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Week 6

Oi família!

Time is going by fast. They keep us pretty busy. It seems like I haven't been in the CTM long enough to be leaving in 3 weeks. I can teach almost all the lessons. The big highlight of this week was proselyting.

On Friday, we hit the streets of São Paulo. We were given 4 Livros de Mórmon and took off. We were to stay within our usual boundraries around the CTM, which is a decent sized area. We just walked around and talked with people and realized we didn't really know where we were. We could usually see a Catholic church and that was our landmark. It was so much fun. We talked to the first guy for 20 minutes. He could understand us and we could usually understand him. He was hard core Catholic though, so he shut us down.

After getting shut down a few times and just talking with random people on the street, we found some genuinely interested people. We gave out our 4 books in about 2 hours. At first we were a little nervous to stop random people walking on the streets, but we got over it quickly. Most people are very nice. We just talked and introduced ourselves. A lot of people said they respected us and what we were doing.

After we gave out our 4 books, we saw our teacher. He asked if we wanted more and hooked us up with 4 more books. Teachers usually aren't allowed/don't give missionaries more Livros de Mórmon, but we scored. We gave all those out, too. It was so much fun to talk with people, even if we were rejected.

2 people in particular seemed really interested. One was a lady who has some friends that either are LDS or are taking the discussions (she was talking really fast...) She was excited that we talked with her. She was ready to pay us for a Book of Mormon, but we told her it was free. She was super happy. Our last book was given to a lady that- at first- didn't seem too interested, but then Elder Higgins and I started telling her about prophets and that her family can live together forever. After that she got interested. I'm hoping that they contact other missionaries. Overall, it was a way cool experience. It made me just that much more excited to have those experiences everyday.

One thing that was kinda interesting- we had interviews with the branch president. He told me he's had his eye on me since day one and I kinda stuck out. I was curious so I asked why. Luckily, he said he expects big things from me.


I'm going to take off now. I'll email you guys next week, and I look forward to another letter. It was nice to hear from all the fam. Except, how come J didn't write? Fubeca...tell him he's gotta hit me up with a letter soon. Shoutout to Erynn. Love you guys. Miss you. Hope all is going well.

-Elder Eric Stapley

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Week 5

oi!

This week went pretty well. I can tell I'm getting better at the language all the time. We had TRC on Friday (we taught a lesson that was filmed to some Brasileros) and did pretty well. It was weird to look back at the movie and to see myself speaking Portuguese. We proselyte in 2 days around the CTM. I've been practicing different street contacts all week and I feel prepared to go out and just talk with some Brasileros. I'm a little nervous, but way excited.

Our district was sick this week. I think we got food poisioning or something, and none of us were really feeling good. I got some of the worst of it. I lost like 7lbs (I put on a little weight before then, but now that's gone..) It wasn't fun at all...but we are mostly all better. One Elder had a temperature of 105.

So, here's a funny story I forgot to tell last week. Dad sent me a letter before I left Seattle so I would get mail here, soon. But it turns out it was missent to Malaysia and got here last Tuesday. It was pretty funny. It just had "MISSENT TO MALAYSIA" printed on it.

We are now the oldest district on our floor. A lot of new Elders are showing up. There are some Elders here from Manaus, so I kick it with them during a lot of our meals. They are cool guys and are excited to tell me about Manaus. They can't say "Stapley" very well, so they just call me "Manaus." I guess I'm down with that nickname! At lunch, I will just hear "Oi! Manaus!" and they will come over and talk about macacas or peixe (fish).

On Sunday, I was asked to give a 15 minute spiritual thought after a district meeting, and it turned into 35 minutes. It was unplanned, but pretty cool. I asked for input and some guys got into it. I think it kinda touched some of them (a few that I know of for sure). I talked about why it's important to still have the desire to be on a mission and serve. I ended up crying (which sucked) but it turned out to be really good.

Let's see....what else happened this week...we started teaching the 2nd lesson in Portuguese. There were some new words I had to learn, but now I've mostly got it down. I can carry on conversations with most Brasileros and can understand what's going on most of the time. I know my vocab is more centered around the gospel, which is good for now, but I need to learn more conversation words.

I got the letters from Erynn, Meg, and Callen.

It's raining today. It's winter here so it can be cold sometimes. Just like Seattle in the fall. We´ve had a few lightning storms. One morning, there was lightning right next to the CTM, right at 6:30. It was so loud it felt like a cannon went off in the hallway and woke everyone up. But it's right when we needed to wake up, so it wasn't too bad. That was pretty cool.

It was the first P-day we had here where we didnt go to the temple (because of the rain). It's been nice to just relax and stuff. I just hung out with some guys in my district, will mail a few letters, pick up some stuff to get me through the week, and go play basketball.

Well, tell grandpa and the fam I love them and am thinking about them. I look forward to hearing from the fam. I'll email home next week. Hope all is going well. Love ya! Tchao!

-Elder Eric Stapley

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Week 4

Oi! FELIZ ANIVERSIDAGE ERYNN!! (Happy Birthday)

Hope you guys are having a good week and enjoying having the family there. Tell them hi for me. I’m apologizing in advance if there are typos. I accidentally erased the first part of my message and don’t have a lot of time to rewrite it all, so I'm writing fast.

This week went well. My Portuguese is still progressing. We’ve practiced teaching the first lesson a lot in Portuguese, and I can do it all without notes. This Friday we have a TRC, where we will teach some native Brasileros members in a first-lesson situation. I’m stoked. I can teach the lesson no problem and say almost everything I want to say. I’m just hoping they don’t have hard questions. That’s the hardest part, understanding the Brasileros´ questions. They can talk kind of fast...

Our Brasileros roommates left this week, which was kind of sad. They are way cool guys. I’m hoping we get some new ones in our room. But it may not happen. 60 new Americans got here today, and like 30 Brasileros show up tomorrow, so this place is going to be packed. I bet they will put a lot of the Brasileros with some of the newer guys here to help them with the language. A district in our hall also left this week, so now there is only district older than us in our hall. And they leave next Tuesday. So then we will be the oldest in our hall, which will be fun. I’m stoked to get to Manaus and to teach real people.

Mom to answer your questions: yes MissionTies mail counts as hard mail. There are like 5 sister companionships from the US and probably 10-15 from Brasil. We don’t really talk with them though.Yesterday I spoke in only in Portuguese for an hour and a half. Tomorrow I think I’ll speak for at least 2. It's way fun. Sometimes I have to find another way to make my point, but its fun to just speak in Portuguese.

Today we went to the temple and Irmão Ramón came again, and brought his camera. We aren’t allowed to bring our cameras to the temple, so he brought his and took a bunch of pictures of us outside the temple and said he would email them to us. I’ll see if he can forward them to you too.

All is going well here, and I feel like time is starting to go by quickly, which is good, because I’m ready to head out to Manaus. I’m glad you guys had fun on Trek. Way to go and set your scones on fire Erynn...haha. Anyway, my time is kind of short. Turns out there was a typo in out rule book and we can only email for 30 minutes not 45. Oh well. Irmão Ramón told me there wasn’t a rule about it in Manaus when he was there (which was just a month ago). Anyway, I love you guys.

Write me! Letters here are like gold. I hope Grandpa is alright. I’ll remember him in my prayers. But I have to go now. Love you all! Happy Birthday again Erynn (I remembered btw, even w/out mom telling me).

Love ya.

Tchao!Eric