Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Week 4


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.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Week 3

Hello again,

So I just got the letters that you guys sent from Trek. I’m at Cheny´s (which is where the mail shows up). But since I don’t have too much time I’ll have to read them tonight and respond in my email next week. Sorry. But anyway, this has been a good week, and the time is thankfully going by faster. I feel like it was just my last P-day. I can’t wait to get into the field and teach real people, and not just do role plays all day. 6 weeks to go!

My Portuguese is still progressing. I speak some of the best Portuguese (if not the best…) in my class. So I’m trying to help others improve their language and help some of the guys who know less. It’s going well. I can street contact with people in Portuguese and can respond to about half of what they ask me back (I practice with my Brazilian roommates who like to make it challenging for me). Also, we translated our first lesson into Portuguese, and if I need to I can say most of it without notes. We practice a lot, and since we have an uneven amount of companionships someone usually has to teach the instructor, and it’s usually me. I like teaching the instructors though, because they don’t help me out unless I really need it, and they usually make me try to say it all in Portuguese without any help. So that’s going well. Our district has had a few problems with focusing all the time, but this week we have all been dialed in and focused.

The food this week has been better. Still a lot of rice and beans but I’m getting used to it. Gym time is one of my favorite parts of the day cuz we get to just hang out and ball it up. Thursdays we don’t have gym and just have class, and its death. I’m so dead by the end of Thursdays. I never thought Id actually be able to go to sleep at 10:30, but it’s pretty easy at the end of Thursdays.

Today we went to the police station to get finger-printed and stuff, so we didn’t go to the temple, which means we have a lot more time today. After I get done with this I’m probably going to go on a quest with someone else in my district to find ice cream. We found a legit drink shop on the corner of a street and we just kick it there and order abacaxi (pineapple) drinks. They are amazing. We just need to be careful we say abacaxi and not abacaxe cuz that’s avocado juice, and I hear that isn’t as good...the pineapple here is so good. It's way legit. Some of the fruit they have at the CTM is pretty weird, but we down the pineapple.

In 2 weeks we go out proselyting on the streets of Sao Paulo. Kinda crazy. I’m stoked though. Just walking around today I’ve been able to understand a lot of the Brazilians around here. My comp bought a sweater (cuz it’s a little chilly here. it is winter...) and I talked with the guy working there for a little bit in Portuguese. So much fun. I was excited I could understand most of what he was saying.

It feels weird seeing new guys come in. I knew 4 guys in the last group that came in. So that was pretty cool to be able to talk with them. My district is pretty tight now and we all get along fairly well. My comp and I had a rough spot or 2 this week but I think we are chill now. Being with a full district almost all the time is helpful, cuz it would be hard to just chill with my comp all the time. My Brazilian roommates leave in a week. I’m hoping that we get new ones in so that we can practice our Portuguese in the room.

Well, that was pretty much my week. Thanks for the letters. I think that I’m going to go hit up the streets of Sao Paulo again. I can’t wait to get to Manaus. It feels like Seattle here. Kinda gray and coldish. So I’m ready to head to the warm (even if it will be really warm). Hope all is going well and I’ll email you next week.

-Elder Eric Stapley

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Week 2 Email

Editors’ note: Eric must be thinking in Portuguese- we’ve noticed a decline in his English skills. We’ve cleaned up his spelling and grammar.

Hello again,

So I guess Mom, Dad and Erynn are on Trek. Hope that’s going well and the weather is nice and all of that. I appreciate all the letters you guys sent. I got all of them yesterday (4). The MissionTies one that you sent on the 6th arrived to me on the 7th. I’m not sure if they will all get to me in 1 day, but I was pleasantly surprised. It definitely goes faster than snail mail though. Another Elder and I are having a little competition to see who gets more letters, now I’m winning. Thanks. I’ll try to answer all the questions you guys asked, but if I forget something, just ask me again.

The food was more plentiful and good before the CTM needed to "cut back”. They took away a lot of the food and we got the shaft for a week. They took away the cereal, dished out portions (usually of smaller value than we would take), and it kinda sucked! But luckily, they are bringing some of it back (sometimes even cereal, which makes me really happy...) You asked how many people are in the CTM. I think there are 200-250 with a quarter of them being Brazilians. We actually now have Brazilian roommates. They moved us around so that we could room with them. They are pretty cool. One speaks decent English and the other doesn’t speak any, so to try to talk with them we need to try our Portuguese. The other question was if there are people here from other countries. A guy in our district is from Canada, but that’s pretty much as foreign as I have seen, and everyone is going to Brazil that I have met. Actually, one Brazilian is going to some island between here and Africa. I only talked to him for a second.

This week went by a lot faster than the last. We went to the temple again today, and one of our teachers came with us. Irmão Ramón. He’s our teacher that returned a month ago from a mission to Manaus. He’s going to email the mission president before I get there to tell him that I’m coming and he taught me. That should be cool. I found out my other teacher, Irmão Nunes, plays guitar and listens to American music. Sometimes we talk about music and stuff. Honestly, I miss listening to music. But another guy in my district also likes listening to music so sometimes one of us will randomly start singing a song and the other one will join in. It’s pretty fun.

It’s fun to talk to the Brazilians and tell them where I’m going. When I tell them I’m going to Manaus, they usually have 2 responses. The first is "mui quenche!"- meaning very hot. The other response I get is "Oh!! Macacas!"- meaning I’m pretty stoked. I’ve only heard one story of Elders that actually had to eat macaca though...I’m hoping that doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t seem like they would taste good...but whatever. I hear I’m going to eat a lot of peixe, or fish.

The language is still coming well. I’m not having any problems, and I’ve been helping out some other guys in my district. We've learned how to do street contacts in Portuguese and have been practicing those. In 3 weeks, they will let us go out and place a Book of Mormon in some park around here. That will be cool, if I can understand what the people are saying. Brazilians talk fast.

It sounds like you guys had a good 4th of July. It was pretty fun here. I woke up at 6:00 to the sound of people singing/yelling the national anthem. At breakfast, someone held up a little flag and we all sang. Dinner that night was cheeseburgers and fries (which both honestly were terrible. You wouldn’t think anyone could mess up a burger and fries, but they did...they weren’t normal) but we were happy to have American(ish) food. We also got ice cream sundaes with tons of toppings in a waffle bowl. It made me SO happy to see you have no idea...

So last week there was a big soccer game, and it was crazy. You could tell whenever someone scored because the city would light up with fireworks and people would go nuts. There was a guy living in the apartments straight across from our window that would yell "GOOOOOAAALL!!!!" at the top of his lungs over and over anytime the Corinthians scored. It was nuts! When Brazilians ask what my favorite team is, I tell them Manchester United. I don’t want to pick a Brazilian team. If you support a wrong team, some people won’t talk to you. It was fun to just watch the city explode with fireworks.

But overall it’s been a good week. The time is going by a lot faster than the first week, and that’s way nice. The first week was the hardest so far. But I’m enjoying being here and I like my district (well most of them...) Oh and you said that the Crowley’s nephew was on my flight over and wondered if I know him. And I do. That would be Elder Higgins, my comp (Megan his first name is Craig, I’m not sure if I should tell you but whatever). We click with a lot of different things. Like he can do the same eye trick I can. Once I sat down at a piano and started playing the bass line to Linus and Lucy and he came in over the top. The rest of our district was impressed. Sometimes he reminds me of my friend, Brian, so that’s cool.

HERE IS MY SHOUTOUT TO ERYNN. I hope you are happy.

Well, I’m going to get off now. I’ve got stuff to do (like buy legit frosted flakes at the store. It’s my comfort food for when I can’t take any more rice and beans!) I will email next week and I look forward to hearing from you. Hit me up with a hard letter sometime, Elder Thomas (the guy that I’m having the competition with) is catching up. I can’t respond until P-day, but getting mail here is like you just won a million dollars or something. No joke. Anyways, hope all is well, love you, and paz fora (peace out)

-Elder Eric Stapley

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Eric's Address

For those of you who want to write Elder Stapley (no packages allowed at the CTM), here's his address for the next 8 weeks:

Manaus Mission
District 26-B, Box 31
Brasil CTM
Rua Padre Antônio D’Angelo, 121
Casa Verde, São Paulo, SP
Brazil 02516-040
Well I´ve been in Brazil for a week now. More the CTM than actually in the city, but it’s been nice. My companions name is Elder Higgins. He’s from Florida, went to BYU, plays Frisbee (we played the first day), and is pretty quiet. At least he was pretty quiet, he has now opened up a lot and is a pretty funny guy. We room with 4 other guys and they are all pretty cool and we get along well. There are 10 guys in our district, and half are from Utah. They are all going to Recife or Masseu. There aren’t a lot of missionaries going to Manaus. There were about 20 Elders on the plane ride over here, and only 2 others were going to Manaus. Other than those two I've met one other guy (a Brazilian) going to my mission. One of my instructors served his mission there and just got off two months ago, and says its way hot, but the mission president is awesome and its a fun mission.

The food here is mostly rice and beans (big surprise huh?) but its not bad. I’m starting to get a little tired of pinto beans, but I guess I should get used to them. Other than that they have different kinds of chicken or beef usually. We had tacos last night and it was amazing. Thursdays we get pizza hut, but its not pizza hut. None of the pizzas are anywhere close to normal in anyway. Like they have cinnamon covered chocolate banana pizza, or fish pizza (I don’t know what kind of fish) and just random other pizzas. But its a nice change. I love Guarana, and the juices and fruit are good. Guava, mango, and passion fruit juice mixed is legit. But apparently the passion fruit makes you tired, or so some of the Brazilians say.

We try to eat at least 2 meals a day with the Brazilians. They are super nice and funny people and are really friendly. They like to joke around and really help us speak Portuguese. They usually try to group one companionship of Brazilians in each room with Americans to help us with our Portuguese. But we didn’t get any. We like to talk to them though and a lot of them remember me as the kid going to Manaus. We live on the 6th floor (which really means 7th) and we always use the stairs. But at least we get a decent view of the city, which is freaking huge. It just goes on forever.

My classes are going pretty well. We wake up at 6:30, have personal study for 30 minutes, then breakfast, then comp study, then MDST (Missionary directed study time) for like 2 and a half hours. Then we have lunch and then class with Irmão (brother) Nunes. His favorite band (I asked) is the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and he plays the electric guitar. He’s a pretty funny guy and is a good teacher. We have class until like 5 and then class with Irmão Ramon, who just got off his mission in Manaus. He speaks very little English, which actually helps us to understand more. I’m doing well with the language. Spanish has really helped, and I’m getting the language faster than almost all my class. I could pray and bear my testimony after about 3 or 4 days. But those are easy because you don’t have to listen to others and understand what they are saying. So I'm working on understanding the Brazilians (sitting with them at lunch helps). But the language is going well for me. Unfortunately, its not going so well for others. Some guys are getting really discouraged (possibly also because the people that took some Spanish are understanding really easily). One Elder in particular was thinking about asking to go on another mission, but we ended up giving him a blessing, and talked to him about staying. Some of us bore our testimony to him that this is where he should be and that the Lord will bless him with the language if he stays and just has faith.

Other than Portuguese, we are learning to teach the message of the Restoration. My comp and I teach fairly well together. He is a scripture genius. Like I can ask him what almost any chapter of the BOM is and he will tell me. He has so many scriptures memorized, but he goes off on tangents and doesn’t always teach in a very concise way. So we work well together, because I can talk and he has the scriptures ready. We are really starting to get along and become friends and joke around together.

Today we went to the temple and it was cool. Its definitely nicer than the Seattle temple. It was about an hour bus ride to get over there. I’m enjoying my break from the CTM and actually getting the chance to walk around. We have gym almost everyday, and that’s fun and kind of our break from the CTM, but its nice to actually be in the real world. I bought some cheap ties (apparently the cheapest in Brazil) that are pretty nice. They are only like $4 US dollars, so its not a bad deal. I still have to do laundry and stuff though, and my time is almost up.

So, Im hoping to hear back from you guys. I hope all is going well at home. I miss you guys (except you Megan) and hope you are enjoying the summer. its technically winter here, so it gets dark around 6 but its still pretty warm. Im thinking of you guys (between classes and whatever) and just want you to know that I love and miss you. I´ll email next week. Tchao!