Friday, May 28, 2010

Terra Nova

Hey guys,

Well this was a hectic week. Lots of running around with weddings and baptisms and getting everything ready. But, luckily everything went well. The weddings were on Saturday and they were great. We ended up having both of them at the same time.

The brides and grooms looked great, there was a lot of cake and pop, and a lot of nonmembers and members went. It turned out really successful. I loved the weddings. Everything went really well.

On Sunday we had the 4 baptisms. Elder Wolfe baptized one of the grooms, I baptized the 2 brides, and a member baptized the other groom. It went really well. Elder Wolfe baptized a large man, bigger than he is. He said he had to force him under the water, but he did really well. I was really happy with the baptism, and the service was well attended.

Elder Wolfe is coming along. He’s learning the language. It can be kind of hard to teach Portuguese. Switching languages all the time can be kind of confusing. I even started speaking to a Brazilian in English and he just gave me a weird look. That was embarrassing...but, Elder Wolfe is already learning a lot which is good.

Today we played soccer with the other elders in our district. It just wouldn’t be P-day without soccer. Only problem is the rainy season is starting to go away and summer is coming back....We still get some rain, but it’s starting to get really hot again.

Yesterday I made 11 months on the mish. Not like I’m counting or anything. But that means here in a year and 2 weeks I'll be back home (due to the visas). Time goes by really fast. I still feel like it was yesterday that I was learning to speak the language and showed up from the MTC...

We now have church in the new chapel, which is way nice. I think it was the first time I didn’t have to clean bugs out of the baptismal font before a baptism.

So, what went down with Argentina and the Sounders...Megan? I’m way stoked for the world cup...

I’m trying to think what else went down this week. Really just a lot of running around getting ready for all the weddings and stuff. I’m really proud of the people that were baptized though. Especially one of the families, Fernando and Alcione. They are so cool. And are really embracing the gospel. It was a privilege to be able to teach them.

Last week, Elder Wolfe had an interview with Pres, just to make sure he was doing alright. I guess in the interview Pres told Elder Wolfe that he has faith that I can make this the highest family baptizing area in the mish. No pressure or anything. Talk about responsibility...So, hopefully I can find some more good families.....

Anyway, hope that everything is going well with at home. I’m glad Shannon’s trainer is from Manaus. If she gets this accent though, everyone will make fun of her there. It’s like an outback accent to them...I wish she had an American trainer but oh well. She’ll learn a lot. But yeah. Have a great week and I'll talk to you guys next P-day. Love you!

-Elder Eric Stapley

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Terra Nova

What's up, guys?

Well, another week in the mish. It's gone well and been crazy. Being with a companion that doesn't speak Portuguese can be a little draining, but it's fun. Elder Wolfe is a good guy and already my friend, and he's learning a lot. Switching back and forth between English and Portuguese can be a little hard. It's kinda confusing.

Everything is all good for the weddings on the 22nd. 2 of our investigators need to delay their baptisms for family reasons. But we are still working hard and all of our couples have been interviewed for baptism. Now we're just helping the ward with the finishing touches. It's a lot of running around but it should be good. The baptisms will be on the 23rd. I'll baptize 2, Elder Wolfe will baptize one, and a ward member will baptize one. Should be good.

Last night, we were walking in one of the poorer parts of our area and almost stepped on a massive snake. I think this snake took the record for the biggest one I've seen on the mish. It was crazy big. I doubt it was poisonous. It looked more like some kind of constrictor. I almost got a picture, but it got away. I think my companion thought it was pretty cool.

So, the Sounders are going to play Argentina, huh? I hate to say it, but the Sounders are going to get smashed. Messi is amazing. That man is crazy. He's the nightmare of all Brazilians.... We'll be able to watch some of the Brazilian games of the world cup. I'm stoked. I bought my Robinho jersey, so I'm all set and ready to go. I also have a Messi jersey. (The Brazilians usually aren't big fans of it.)

Let's see. What else went down. Last week, an Area 70 came to the mish and spoke. President Linhares. It was cool. I spent the entire time translating though. I forgot my comp doesn't speak so I didn't translate for the first 10 minutes. President Jayme came down off the stand and told me- if I wanted to, I could feel free to translate...I took the hint...Switching language all the time can throw me off....
Friends in Lagoa Verde

So, today, (P-day) I visited my first area. Lagoa Verde. Some other friends passed there, and one even made BBQ chicken. I'm not sure how he made BBQ in this country, but he did and it turned out good. It was so weird see people that I couldn't understand (very well) the last time I saw them. Talking with some of my first baptisms that now can understand all the things I say . It was a fun experience. One of my baptisms pretty much started crying when I showed up. They all started talking about how different I am. Apparently, I'm more skinny, more tan, my shirts are yellow, and my Portuguese has gotten a lot better. It's been about 6 months since I left there. But it was way fun. I enjoyed being able to understand every word that they were saying- instead of just the general idea (...or nothing at all...)

(Dad and Mom, I'm eating enough. I'm just skinny from walking around in the sun all day long. Can you send American snacks in my package, though?)

That's pretty much what's been going on these past few days. Just trying to help Elder Wolfe as much as I can. It can be kind of hard to teach Portuguese. I think I forgot a little bit about how hard it was when I showed up. But, I'm praying and trying to do my best. Anyway, hope you have a great week.

Love you!
-Elder Eric C. Stapley

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Terra Nova

Hey guys!

Well, this week was crazy. These last few days have been insane...On Monday, we got a call from the Assistants and they told Elder Lopez that he was being transferred and there was going to be a few emergency transfers. Then, they asked to talk to me. I was told that I was staying and turning senior. Cool. After that, they told me that I'd be training a new missionary and that he'd be showing up the next day.... I asked if they were being serious...just because I couldn't believe it. He's an American. Whoo! It was a weird feeling. A mix of excitment, but also a wave of nervousness...I went from being a junior to a senior and a trainer in one day. No prep.

So, yesterday, I went to mission HQ early in the morning. Elder Lopez went away and I ended up visiting with President for a little more than an hour. Just us. We talked about what I need to do to be a good trainer and how I can help my new comp. After a while, I asked President if he honestly thought I was ready to train an American. He looked at me and said, "Elder Stapley, I don't think, I know. You are ready and I got an answer from the Lord that you need to train." ...No pressure or anything! I always wanted to train, but more at the end of my mish! It's pretty much unheard of in our mission, for an American to train another American when he only has 10 months on the mish. But, it was a really good meeting with President and got me ready.

We went to the airport, the assistants, President and I. My companion is the only one that showed up, so it was kinda cool. Elder Wolfe is from Tennesse and said he knew Shannon in the CTM. Kinda cool. He's got a southern accent, is a cool guy and seems like he really wants to go to work. We then visited the temple grounds and went to eat lunch with President and Sister. Lunch was so good! Mashed potatoes. Chicken. Ice cream. American food!!! It's been such a long time. When we got done eating, Sister gave Elder Wolfe a training about health and stuff.

Remember- the temple sight was a pile of dirt just last June?!

My area isn't the prettiest of areas. I'm on the edge of the city, next to jungle. (I finally saw a map of where I am). So my shoes get dirty, but I don't shine them 'cuz they get dirty every day. So, I just went to pick up my new comp with my work shoes. The assistants joked around with me about not polishing my shoes, but I didn't think much of it. When we were at President's house, he asked me to take off my shoes. He went back in his house while Sister was giving a training and came back with my shoes. All polished and clean!! President Jayme polished my shoes. In some ways I felt like I was Peter after the Lord washed his feet. Obviously, not that extreme, but still. I love Pres! He's so cool. He just came up, gave me my shoes and said, "you're welcome, Elder Stapley." Pres and Sister are so cool!

After that we went to mission HQ, my new comp went through more trainings and then, we finally got to our area. I sorted out some things with the weddings that are set for the 22nd. Today, we went to the center (downtown district of Manaus) with some other missionaries and I showed my comp around.

I'm excited for the chance to train. Other than Christensen telling me in all my emails that I need to train an American, I've wanted that. But it was still a big surprise for me, especially 'cuz it's in the middle of transfers. I'm excited but a little bit nervous. We've got a lot of Portuguese work to do. But I'm going to do my best and be as patient and helping as I can be. I think I owe that to my trainer too, who was extremely patient with me. So, it'll be fun. Pray for me!! This is the first time I'm the better Portuguese speaker in the companionship.

Anyway, hope you guys are doing well. Miss you. It was nice to talk with ya'll (as my comp says....) on Sunday! Hope all is going well! Love you guys! Tchau!

-Elder Eric C. Stapley

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Terra Nova

Hey guys,

Well, sorry about sending an email a day late...we have 1 lan house in the area, and it was without internet yesterday. But, I'm allowed to send one today. Our lunch appointment is late, so we are waiting for them.

I'm glad to hear things are going well back home. Yesterday was P-day, so we played volleyball at the stake center with our district. Then, soccer of course...It just wouldn't be a P-day for the Brazilians without soccer...

This week is going well. It's kind of hectic- making sure everything is good for our weddings and baptisms. The 22nd should be the biggest baptism meeting I've done so far. 7 people. We are trying to find baptism jumpsuits for everybody. I'm very excited. One of the weddings will be in the morning, and the other at night, due to conflicting work schedules, (making it even more complicated.) But, it's fun and keeps me really busy. Other than that, we're trying to find new people to teach and get ready for June. I'm really impressed with one of our couples that will get married. Fernando and Alicione. They are such studs. Ever since our first visit they haven't missed a week of church. Alcione has given us more references than any other person here, including the members. They go to church in church standard clothing, pay tithing already, and have signed up to give us lunch every Tuesday. They're really progressing and learning a lot and are such a happy little family. It's been a real blessing to teach them.

In 2 weeks we're getting a real church building. I'm impressed. It's nice and big and one of the best chapels I've seen here in Brazil. It even has 2 pianos. Speaking of pianos, I was recruited by the bishop's wife to help prepare a choir for the upcoming dedication of the chapel, by playing piano. Too bad I don't know how to play piano that well. But she just has me training one voice at a time. I can do that. The Brazilians were impressed by my playing of the Pink Panther theme and some Coldplay songs. They now think I'm some kind of piano genius or something....

I went to my first ward council meeting on Sunday. It was the first time I was really invited to go. I enjoyed it actually. It was one of the first times that the members really thanked us for the work that we're doing and congratulated us. It was nice to get thanks from the members and bishop. I was able to talk a bit about references. I told them that of all my baptisms, I found less than 10% of them by my own forces. Then I opened up my planner and told them that in the last month we've gotten 5 references and only 1 of them was from a member in the ward. I tried not to throw down too much, but I think they got the idea. They set some goals to give us 12 references every month. It's nice to have a ward that really appreciates the work that we're doing and wants to help us and the ward grow....

My ankle is getting better. I told Sister Jayme, the mission president's wife, about it when I messed it up, so she calls me up every once in a while to see how I'm doing. Sister Jayme is so cool. Sometimes I randomly call her to just say 'hi' and she sometimes calls me just to see how I'm doing.

Dad... I have to do a lot of things before getting married. Like jumping out of an airplane, shark cage, road trips with friends. Not to mention buying a Les Paul....and maybe coming back to yeah. Don't plan on me getting married any time soon!

Anyway, I better run now. I'll talk to you on Sunday! I'm most likely going to call during the night here. About 7 or 7:30, I think. So, I think that makes it about 4ish there. Not really sure. But I'll call you- then you can call me back. Same thing as Christmas. But anyway, hope that you have a great week and I'll talk to you on Sunday! Love you!

-Elder Eric C. Stapley