Thursday, August 27, 2009


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 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


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


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 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


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