Thursday, November 26, 2009


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. 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, 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


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? 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


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!