Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Porto Velho

Hey guys!

Today has been a pretty busy P-day. Last night, our entire zone slept at our zone leader's house. We woke up this morning and played some soccer (I'll proudly admit that I scored 3 or 4 goals on the Brazilians...) Then we had a churrasco! (Or Brazilian BBQ.) Tons of food. It actually turned out really good. That was fun. I'm tired now, though... Hey, I finally got my camera! Thanks!

So, it's funny that in his email, Dad said, "I hope you don't get sick or anything eating weird foods..." Well, let's just say that's pretty much what went down this week. I threw up most of Thursday and Friday. I'm pretty sure I ate something bad. That was pretty lame. On Friday, when I finally got to the point that I was able to make it to some of our commitments, we visited a sister in our ward. When I mentioned not feeling so great, she had my comp run out to her yard and cut down 4 coconuts. She had Elder Paredes cut them open and pour out the coconut water for me (it's called coconut milk in English). I guess it's supposed to help. It was the first time I tried coconut milk and I hope it's the last. I'd heard it's not too bad when it's cold on a really hot day, but I can't say I enjoyed the experience. I think I had more of a desire to be sick after I drank it than before. Then, she made some kind of herbal tea for me. I knew it wouldn't be so good when even Elder Paredes looked at me and gave a face of disgust. He then told me to drink it all in one go, if not, I'd never finish it. I can honetly say it was one of the worst things that I've had to drink. Rapaz. I didn't throw up after drinking the coconut milk and tea, but I wanted to....But now, I'm much better.

So, this week went pretty well. We are really going to town and trying to mark a lot of baptisms. We marked a family to get baptized next month, and should be marking another 3 or 4 baptisms soon. The work is going well. A lot of hard work. We had 12 investigators at church on Sunday. So, not too bad.

This week we watched the Joseph Smith movie that plays in Temple Square in Utah. We watched it with the family that plans to get married and baptized next month. They wanted some American food, so I made some cookies for them. That was pretty fun. I'm a fan of the movie and chocolate chip cookies....good stuff.

I'm trying to think what else went down this week....Yesterday, we had to leave our house at 10:15 in the morning to get to our appt at 12. That was exciting. Gotta love a large area...

We have interviews with the President tomorrow and zone conference on Friday. This transfer feels like it's passing by quickly. It ends March 23. But, I'm enjoying it for the most part. Elder Paredes and I get along, so that's good. He's a little crazy and really cool.

Well, I guess that's pretty much my week. Hope all is well with you. Until next week! Love you guys!

-Elder Eric Stapley

P.S. I've decided I'm not a fan of cow liver. When you're expecting normal meat and take a bite of cow liver, it's a gross experience... só isso então. Tcahu!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Porto Velho

Hey guys,

Erynn! Way to get into BYU!!! I'm way stoked. I knew that you'd get in. You need to get some good looking friends/roommates though, cuz we'll be there at the same time. Just saying.... But, that's kinda weird we'll be sophs at the same time....but anyway. Parabéns!

Things are a little different with Elder Parades, but it's cool I guess. He tells me everyday that I'm senior, which is fun. It's given me the chance to be able to work harder, the way that I want to. And, as a result, some of our numbers and lessons have been improving. So, I'm enjoying that aspect of the work. It gives me the opportunity to talk more. I mark appointments, start lessons, finish lessons, decide where we are going. It's been a blessing for me. Elder Paredes seems like a big "work hard, play hard" kinda guy. My only worry is how hard he wants to play. But, overall, I've been enjoying this transfer.

As far as baptisms go, we have a wedding/baptism that should go down in March. I'm really stoked for it. They're some of my favorite investigators on the mission. We are also working with another family of 4 (who all went to church on Sunday). So, we are working on their baptism and it looks like March should be a good month if all goes well.

So, this week I ate something new. Jacaré!! (alligator) We ate it for lunch on Monday. It's not the most tasty food ever, but I liked it. It's like the consistency of chicken but tastes like fish....kinda weird. But, I enjoyed it.

Speaking of alligators and eating, I'll give you guys a little glimpse of some tragic news over here in Rondônia... A 4 meter long alligator ate an 11 year old girl in the city of Porto Velho! They ended up catching and killing the gator.

We've planned a fishing trip for an up coming P-day. We can't enter the water or boats (our ward has a crazy fisher who goes to the middle of the river on fishing trips...) but someone in our ward knows a place where we can go fishing without getting in the water. I'll watch out for 4 meter long alligators.

It's Carnival now....lots of drunk people and loud music....So, it's been kinda interesting. But, luckily our area isn't that bad. I wouldn't want to be in some other parts of the city right now...

As far as the camera goes, I'm pretty sure I'll get it today. The LZs (Zone leaders) went to Manaus and are coming back today. I hope they have it.

Let's see....hope you guys enjoy your break! Hope all is well, and I'll talk to you next week. Love you guys!

-Elder Eric C. Stapley

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Porto Velho

Hey guys,

Transfers went down and I'm still here in Porto Velho. Elder De Jesus went back to Manaus and my new companion is Elder Paredes (Elder Walls). He's Brazilian and has been serving a year and 7 months on the mish. He showed up last night and seems friendly.

New companion

We now how one more companionship living in our house. Last week their contract ended and we moved them into our house. It's a little crammed, but the other elders are cool. One of them is brand new, an American, who was in the Provo MTC for 13 weeks while waiting for a visa.

Elder De Jesus and I had some ups and downs, but by the time transfers came around, we'd become good friends. I wanted to stay with him one more transfer. It seems that when you really grow to love your companion or your ward, that transfers go down....but that's life.
When we found out that Elder De Jesus was going to be transferred, we visited a lot of our baptisms and members. We also took some sweet pics. I'll send you guys some.

Yesterday I got letters! It's been a while. I got 10. Thanks to all you faithful letter writers out there. One of my favorites was a letter from Manaus. It was from Kamila, a young woman that Elder Christensen and I baptized back in Lagoa Verde. It caught me by surprise and I really enjoyed the letter. Sometimes the mish can be frustrating. There have been nights where I just lay in bed and wonder if I'm really making a difference. If these people will even remember me in 10 years. But, in the letter, Kamila thanked me for all that I did for her and said that I was an essential part in not only her baptism, but also in her being an active member of the church. Rapaz. It was really touching to get that letter and it made me realize that even when the mish is hard, it's hot, and I feel like nothing is going right, that because of some of my efforts, somebody's life was changed. That letter was one of the favorites I've gotten.

She reminded me of a story that I don't think I shared with you guys. If I did, sorry, I'll share it again. I even consider it to be a miracle of the mission. To review, Kamila was from some crazy church, and after a long time of teaching and deep doctinal discussions (with the occassional good spirited Bible-bash...) she finally decided she wanted to be baptized. Her mom was from some other crazy church in Manaus, and wasn't going to let her get baptized. It seemed after trying to convince her mom for some time, everybody was starting to give up. One night we went to visit Kamila and she was pretty upset. She thought her mom would never allow her to be baptized. I then reached for my scriptures, opened up to 1 Nephi 3:7, and (looking back, with my horrible Portuguese) I read the scripture, testified and promised that the Lord would provide a way for her to be baptized. Within 2 days, her mom allowed her to be baptized and a few weeks later I was transferred. I almost forgot about that story, but in her letter, Kamila thanked me for sharing that scripture and said it was the perfect scripture for the perfect moment. I consider it to only be inspiration. But, sei lá. When I feel like nothing is going right, it feels great to be able to read that even one little experience- months ago-
is still remembered by someone that I had the privilege and honor to teach and baptize. It's times like that, that make the mission all worth it for me.

Eric as Clark Kent

But anyways, hope you guys have a great week. I'll send some pics. Love you guys e tchau

-Elder Eric C. Stapley

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Porto Velho

Hey guys!

This was a pretty good week. It's hotter than heck still and the sun is really strong, but that's just life I guess. We had a baptism on Sunday. It went well. Sunday was actually pretty cool. A man that we baptized recently, Marcizo, blessed the sacrament for the first time. We taught the principles of the gospel class and it was a lot of fun. All of our investigators and recent converts really participated and we had a good time.

One of our other recent converts, Dionízio, kinda surprised me. We'd marked to teach him last Saturday night. We didn't know what to teach because we'd already taught him all the lessons. At the last minute, we decided to give him a Book of Mormon to give to somebody else. We practiced with him and he accepted the invitation. On Wedneday, we met with him again and when we asked about the Book, he said, "I didn't want to give the Book to just anyobdy...." I figured he didn't give it away. But then he went on to say how he'd thought about it all week and prayed about it. He ended up talking to one of his friends at work. This friend wants to stop drinking. Dionízio told the friend that he'd recently stopped drinking and made some changes in his life. He then told him about the Book of Mormon, bore his testimony, got his address, and marked us a visit with him this week. What a stud! It was a pretty fullfilling thing to see as a missionary.

We did a service project this week and helped a lady clean up the front part of her yard. It was a huge mess and full of trash. When I was picking up trash, a tarantula almost climbed up my hand. I've decided that I hate tarantulas. They are so ugly and hairy....yeah....too bad I haven't gotten the camera yet or I would've taken a pic.

So, this is the last P-day of this transfer. I can't really decide what I want to happen. Before, I just wanted to be transferred back to Manaus. But, I guess I'm starting to like it here more and (next transfer) we've marked a wedding/baptism for a really cool couple. The lady has been wanting to get baptized for a while, but her husband never wanted anything to do with the church. He used to mess with the missionaries and run away from them. But now, after a long time, he wants to get baptized and learn more about the church. It's cool to see the difference in him. He went from pretending he wasn't home when the missionaries came by, to making us a huge tambaci (fish) feast last night. So, I kinda want to stick around to see their wedding. They're having some problems with wedding documents, but it looks like they'll be married in a few, we'll see....

We had a pretty spiritual and powerful experience. A while back, we baptized a 76 year old man whose daughter is a very firm member of our ward. At first, I didn't feel really comfortable teaching him, thinking he didn't understand all the things we taught. But, after hearing stories of him refusing coffee and cigarettes when people offered, we decided that he really was able to be baptized. His health has been diminishing and the only family member that takes care of him- is his daughter that's in our ward. It's pretty draining for her and sometimes reminds me of you guys and Nana. But, Manoel (the 76 year old) hasn't missed a week of church since his baptism. We stopped by to visit them on Monday and could tell it had been a really rough day with Manoel's poor health. So, last second, we decided to talk about the Atonement with them. We shared some scriptures and bore testimony of the Atonement. The Spirit was really, really strong. When my comp got done bearing his testimony, he passed over to me to let me bear mine. I don't know what happened, but the Spirit just hit. I could barely talk. When I got the first few words out, I started to cry....which has never happened to me during a lesson or member visit. I just looked up at the others and saw everyone else crying too. I was able to bear my testimony though about the Savior and His love and Atonement. When we finished, we gave a blessing to Irmão Manoel. His daughter asked me to give the blessing. It was a really interesting experience for me. It wasn't the first that I've given, but it was just....interesting. As I was giving the blessing, I felt the impression that he didn't have much longer to live. When I finished the blessing, we were saying goodbye and Irmão Manoel started to cry. I'm not sure when he is going to leave this earth, but I just know that I got the impression that it's soon...I'm not sure how soon, or what will happen, but it was a really interesting and powerful experience to me. I know my testimony of the Savior and His Atonement is stronger now.

But anyway, that was pretty much this week. Maybe next week I'll email you from some other place. It's not likely, but it's possible. Hope that you have a great week! Love you guys!

-Elder Eric Stapley