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

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