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 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'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.
-Elder Eric Stapley