Sunday, June 12, 2011

Com Amor


With my 'sons', Elders Wolfe, Lewis and Sena. Had to get this picture!

I've thought a lot about what I'd say in this email. It'll probably be long. I guess it'll make up for the past few months of shorter emails. But, we'll start with the week.

Baptizing my last week? You know it! I'm goin' out in style. It's the baptism of a woman named Fran. She's a great lady. Good story. Beginning of this transfer, we didn't have anyone prepared for baptism. I found out I was going to train, and as such, I wanted to baptize someone. So, what did I do? Prayed. A lot. I asked the Lord to bless me with someone who was ready, prepared, smart, and willing to learn. In turn, I'd teach my best and treat them like gold. And, I guess I got that. Fran went to church that next Sunday. She's a member's girlfriend, who for years wanted nothing to do with us and was actually firm in a different church. But, we taught, she got an answer, and she decided to follow it. She's very smart and knows everything. I was able to pass on a lot of information to her, and she already has a strong testimony. She seems like she's been a member for a long time and asked me to baptize her! I almost cried when I found out....I can say...my joy is full.

I'm going out workin! There's no rest for the weary....

And, in case my joy wasn't full enough, I'm fullfilling another important mission goal of mine. I'm leaving a man to be baptized in the next week or 2 (he was found in a street contact--he's way cool, and has lots of desire to learn and be active in the church) and I'm leaving a wedding where the mom and another daughter will be baptized. So, Elder Sena is set. I left a great area for the next missionary.

But, not all has been good this week. I was throwing up this week. The power was out in our house. It was way, way hot, and impossible to sleep (no fans...) and we were without water for a few days too. I always like singing songs in my head as I walk. The song selections this week were "Come, come ye saints" and "The Start Spangled Banner." Yeah, I've been walking around singing the national anthem. God bless America!

It's weird it's over. I remember my first P-day with Christensen like it was yesterday. It doesn't feel like 2 years. I'm full of all those mixed feelings. Happy to see you guys, sad to leave friends, happy to see the US, sad to leave Brasil. I'm sure you guys can imagine what I'm going through.

The way I see it, the mission is like a drumstick ice cream cone. Before you even start, you can't wait to get to the end, to get that piece of chocolate at the bottom. Once you're there, you just wish that you could go back to the start and do it all over again. That's how I'm feeling right now. I'm really going to miss my mission...

This time has been so special to me that I don't think I can even find the words to explain it. Manaus, Brasil, my mission, will always have a very special place in my heart. There is no place I would have rather been these past 2 years. I would never trade these experiences for anything. I've grown. I've learned. I've changed, and if anything I'm closer to my Lord, Jesus Christ. I'm getting to the point that I can say that I know Him. The mission is really an interesting thing. It seems like it was a dream. It went so fast!!! I will forever cherish these memories as some of the most sacred and precious of my life.

I want to bear my testimony. I know that this is the Church of Christ! It wasn't made by a man, but by our Savior. I know He lives! I know He paid the price for my sins, that through Him, and only Him, I can repent and live with my family for all eternity. To me, there is nothing better than that. I love my Savior! This is His work! It's a work of miracles. I've seen miracles in the lives of people on the mission, including my own. I know without a doubt that this is the work of God. Joseph Smith was a prophet, Thomas S. Monson is a prophet. I know that through the Book of Mormon we can grow to really get to know our Savior. We can become closer to Him, and have the Spirit with us. Prayer works. What a blessing we have to be able to talk to the Creator of all....Our Heavenly Father. I know that He loves us, and this is His work. I will follow my Savior, His example, His commandments for the rest of my life so that I can be happy on this earth, and live will my family for eternity. I know the Atonement of our Savior is real. I'm eternally grateful for the chance I had to represent Him. I love Him, and am forever humbled for these precious 2 years to serve. I close this testimony in His Holy name, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Well, love you guys! See you next week! Someone bring cookies to the airport, Uncle J-- re-string the guitars! See you all soon! Love you!!!

FINAL Shout-outs and Thank-yous!!!!

To the fam: Love you guys forever!!!!!!! You are the best!

To the companions: Christensen, De Jesus, Paredes, Lopes, Wolfe, Woolf, Lewis, A. Soares, and Sena. Love you guys! You're the best! Love you filhos!

The my friends: The council, The BYU Flix Frat, the Settlers, District "Hot and Dangerous"....Love you guys! All the mission friends (you know who you are!) Especially the P-Day sports group. And all the friends back home! Your letters, support, and most importantly friendships are very important to me...Love you all!!!!

Also, to all the random families (especially the moms!) of Elders on the Brazil Manaus Mission who read the blog.... Hope you have enjoyed reading some of the emails and seeing random pics of your sons!! Feel free to comment on anything on the blog or get in contact with me if you want.

All the people who have been reading this blog and supporting me! Thank you.



Com amor,
Elder Eric Stapley

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Nova Esperanca


My mission is coming to a close

Well, this was a good week. All of our investigators preparing for baptism went to church. We have 2 dates for my last weekend here, so I should go out baptizing! I'm excited. We are teaching some good people and I feel really gratified in the work. We also have a wedding and baptism set up for later this month, so I'm leaving something for the next guy that shows up. I feel really good about the way I'm finishing my mission. I'm glad that we are having some success and that our work is paying off.

So, life goes on....working hard until the end.

I'm kind of getting some mixed emotions about going home. I'll write a better email next week, but it's the mix of excitement, sadness, pure joy, and missing all at the same time. Like I said, I'll write a better email about it next week, but it's all kind of a surreal feeling....

Today I visited Laranjeiras. Some members made a churrasco for us and we just hung out eating and talking. I'm going to visit the other 2 areas in Manaus this week where I passed. It's fun to go back and see some old friends. Elder Woolf (one of my comps from Laranjeiras) and I just sat and talked about the times we spent in that area. Like I said, it's kinda surreal and it's amazing how fast the time goes by. I was blessed though to have some good friends on the mission and some really fun times.

I really don't have too much to say. Next week I plan on writing a really good, long email. But, today, I just don't have too much to say. Just the same. Working hard, trying to get ready to go home, and just enjoying life...Time goes by quick....

I love my mission

Anyway, I promise a great email next week. Be prepared. Know I love you and miss you and see you soon!

Love,
-Elder Eric Stapley

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nova Esperanca


Hey guys,

Well, I'm getting there....21 more days 'til I'm home! And yes, I'm counting....But things are going well.. working really hard. And we're having some success...we marked a baptismal date for a man for my last weekend here and we are working with 3 potential weddings/baptisms. I don't think I'll be here for them, but I'm not going to leave the area with nobody for the next Elder that shows up.

I went to the center today and picked up a few things to bring home. Nothing really too exciting. I didn't play sports today for the first time in a few months, I'm missing it already. But, its been a good day.

We had zone conference this week. I bore my last testimony. I enjoyed the meeting, and felt the Spirit, it was good.

Remember when I first got here and the temple site was just a dirt pile?

I feel like I'm running outta material to share. We had a really spiritual lesson last night with a Sister who wants to get married and baptized, but her husband doesn't. I felt prompted to promise her that if she has faith and does the necessary things, that the Lord will prepare a way for her to be baptized. She's been going to church every week for months and reading, praying, all that. So, hopefully it goes well.

Anyway, I promise at least my last email will be long. Sorry these few weeks have been a little short. But, I'm doing well, staying alive and working really hard. So, love you guys and see you in 21 days!!

Welcome Brian back home for me too....

Love you!

-Elder Eric Stapley

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Nova Esperanca



Hey guys,

Well, I guess time flies....I'm hanging in there. We are working really hard, being really obedient, and I can honestly say I'm doing my best. We've got a lot of people that we're teaching and like 3 families that are way legit. They just have to get married. I'm hoping to baptize before I leave...but, I'm not SURE that it'll happen. I'm working hard for it though. We are starting to get more trust from the members and we have a good teaching group. The life goes on....


I'm getting kinda tired though....I've been sick all this week. There are a few pluses of being in the richest area in Manaus though. I could barely talk when I was at church and wasn't doing so hot. A few members noticed and that night I got a call from some members saying they were in the front of our house. They brought medicine, real milk (not like the powdered milk I drink....) juice, a huge box of cereal and a big chocolate bar. The next night some other members brought me other medicine, and more food. It's nice to know that someone cares and takes care of us....But, I'm feeling mostly better now. I'm hangin in....

We played some P-day basketball today. It seems weird, but I think that's one of the things that I'll most miss after the mish. Playing some P-day sports with a great group of friends. I think I have more friends here than I'll have at home....that's kinda a weird thought. It's crazy that Brian gets home next week though!!! I miss him....I've been blessed with a really great group of friends here on the mish....


So, yeah. Life goes on. I'm teaching and enjoying it. I'm working hard and it's kinda wearing me out. But, I'll be able to say that from the start to end of my mission, I didn't stop working. I haven't been perfect and sometimes I wish I could start my mish over with the knowledge and experience I have now, but from start to the end, I never stopped working....

Miss you guys. I printed out my plane ticket yesterday and taped it over my study desk. Probably not the best idea, but, it prepares me to go home. 27 more days! Love you guys!!

-Elder Stapley

Nova Esperanca

Hey guys!


Well, I don't have too much to say. It was great talking to everyone on Sunday though! I'm so excited to be heading home soon! We're working really hard and I'm trying to end my mission and a really good note. My comp and I get along for the most part. We don't really talk too much though. I like that he likes being obedient, but sometimes he takes things to an obsessive level. But, it helps me stay really obedient and working hard I guess, so it's going well. I'm all down for being obedient and working hard, but there's a way to do that and have fun too.

We have some good baptismal dates marked. At least one is way firm, so I'm excited to end my mission baptizing. One of our dates was a really active member in another church, who now got a response of the Book of Mormon and is willing to follow the answer. It's fun teaching some intelligent people that really understand the importance of the restoration.

We played some American football today. Gotta love the P-day sports. I think they are what keep me going on the mission sometimes. My BBQ salmon lunch fell though, bummer...

Well, sorry this isn't too long. I feel like we pretty much talked about everything on Sunday. But, I'm excited to see you guys soon! Love you!

-Elder Eric Stapley

Nova Esperanca

Hey guys,

Well, it's my last transfer! I can't believe it. Pres threw me a curveball though....I'm training. again....this is now the 3rd time. My comps name is Elder Sena. He's from Natal. He's cool, way layed back and calm. And, he likes to play sports. So, we get along well. We even played some b-ball this morning. He played pretty well for a Brazilian, and we spent the afternoon talking about the NBA- our favorite teams and players...so, he's legit.

I honestly wasn't too excited to hear that I'd be training again. I was happy with being ZL. Actually, I would have preferred to just be a normal senior. For once on my mission. But, I guess it never happened. But, I'm trying to stay excited and work really hard. My 1st kid, Elder Wolfe is now a ZL in Acre. My 2nd son got transferred and is still in my same zone. So, I guess I tied with Elder Christensen. 2 American kids and 1 Brazilian...

This has been an interesting week. Two nights ago I said goodbye to some close friends on the mish that just got done with their 2 years. Then I had to say goodbye the next day to 2 other friends who are going to other states, I probably won't see them until after the mish. It's all just a weird feeling. I just saw guys that I was with in the MTC go home. It just seems so surreal to me. But, it's nice to be able to say, "I'll see you at BYU in a few months!" The mish goes by fast.

So, our house has been without water in the bathroom for the last 2 days and will probably only be back on Saturday. I'm dying....like cmon?! I have to use the neighbors' or other missionaries' showers and bathrooms. Sometimes I think I'm on a camping trip or something. And, I'm in the richest area of Manaus. Really, this place is a joke sometimes...

Today we played some B-ball, went to the center, and I bought some things to take home with me.

Other than that, we're just working hard and I'm enduring 'til the end....Sometimes the US sounds like paradise to me...

But, I'm excited for Mother's Day this week! I'll talk to you then! Love you!

-Elder Eric Stapley

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Nova Esperanca

Thanks for the birthday wishes! 21!! I don't really feel that old. But, thanks again for the birthday wishes. caraca, to velho de mais!


Bem, we had a good week this week. The highlight was definitely seeing Elder D. Todd Christofferson. We had a meeting with him on Saturday and I really enjoyed it. We also had Elder Hallstrom of the Pres. of the 70 here, Elder Mazagardi of the 70 and an area 70. So, it was way good! Elder Christofferson talked a lot about our personal relationships with the Savior and what we can do do get to know Him better. I really enjoyed it. I was able to shake their hands and it boosted my testimony that they really are men of God. The other thing that Elder Christofferson said that I really liked was that we can't go back home thinking that now the Lord "owes" us for our work. If anything, we are more in debt to Him for the help He gave us, for the experiences, friends....I really liked his comments. It was a good meeting.

As far as Easter, it wasn't really celebrated here. I was a little let down on Sunday. I don't think I even heard one testimony of the Savior. And the talks were kind of sketch, and I didn't really feel the Spirit at all. Sometimes I think people just try to show off instead of really trying to relay the Spirit, or pass information instead of "edifying..." So, at least I left an Easter message after our lunch and did my best to really feel the Spirit. At Easter we celebrate the most important thing that's happened in the history of the world, so I tried to at least make the day special for me.

We had interviews with President this week. We just talked for a while. He's such a good guy. We talked about having the 'armour of God' and the importance of being obedient. I love Pres!

I did take the chance to ask him what he thinks is going to happen with my area. He said next transfer he's thinking about closing it, putting in sisters, or leaving me and getting a new comp. No matter what I'll be getting a new comp, but I'm curious to see what'll happen. Next week starts my last transfer! I'll let you guys know what happens though. I talked with Sister Carvalho (Shan's companion from Manauus) this week too. I told her that Shannon really liked her as a comp. President and his wife are good friend's with Sister Monterio's family, too. (Shannon's trainer, also from Manaus) Sister Monterio's mother passed away unexpectedly this week. I'm not sure if Shannon knows yet. I'm sending her an email to fill her in.

So, yeah. I'm just enjoying life. Working hard, having fun. Loving the mish and trying to make the best of it. But, miss you guys! Talk to you next week! I will get to skype on Mother's day.

Love,
the birthday boy!

Nova Esperanca

Hey guys,

Well, this was a decent week....We are still working hard. I was asked to give a talk last Sunday on missionary work. I shared Grandpa's Hawaiian folklore story about the pearls and some mission experiences I've had. I talked about Teles and Lucimar in Porto Velho. Everyone told us Teles would never get married or baptized, and now he's the stake young men's president and getting ready to go to the temple. I talked about how the gospel works miracles and changes peoples lives, we just have to have the courage to share our testimonies and light (pearl story reference...) with others. I got some compliments and I feel like it went well.

This Saturday, Elder Christofferson (the apostle) will be here, and we'll have a meeting with him. I'm way excited. It's good that I'm in the city so I'll be able to see him.

We played basketball today. I feel like after 3 weeks of playing, we're all starting to get back in the groove of things. I'm trying to go back home in decent shape. Soares and I made some goals. Me to bulk up, and he wants to get skinnier. So, I'm trying to eat a ton at lunches and we're working out a lot. It's fun.

I saw 3 monkeys the other day. We are going to go on a run this week to the Ponta Negra (the beach right next to the river) and we are going to try and take pics where we saw the monkeys. Should be fun.

We get to pass the temple at least weekly. I think I passed it 5 or 6 times this week. It's coming along well and I can't wait for it to be done! I can't wait to go back to the temple....I'm excited.

Well, that's pretty much it for this week. Just working hard and having a fun time. Miss you guys! Talk to you next week!

Love,
-Elder Eric Stapley

Monday, April 18, 2011

Nova Esperanca

Sup guys?
We had a baptism on Saturday and it went well for the most part. Not too many people attended, which is always really frustrating, but the ordinance is the most important part. The work is going well. We're teaching some good people and Elder A. Soares and I teach really well together....


I've been going on a lot of divisions with the district leaders this week. It's fun, but at the same time kinda annoying because I travel around and sleep at the district leader's houses. Sometimes, I just want to be in my own house. But, our zone is doing really well and baptizing well. All the companionships have at least 1 baptismal date mark, so it's all good.


We played some basketball today. It was a blast. I really look forward to my P-day sports. I think it's what keeps me going during the week. We topped it off with some tacos at my house....Good times!


Our ward has been having a few problems lately. The entire ward has a different feel than any other I've been in. I think I've only eaten lunch at 5 different peoples houses. Lunch appointments fall or they call the relief society president and we eat at her house. It's a weird situation. But, we talked with President this week and he really trusts in us. I'll probably be here until the end of my mission, so I gotta learn to love it.


Anyways, life goes on. Just enjoying the work, working hard, and having a good time. Talk to you guys next week. Tchau!


Love,
-Elder Eric Stapley

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Nova Esperanca


This is our zone. Elder Soares (my comp) is the second from the left.


Elder A. Soares and I are really excited. We're working hard and will probably have a baptism this week. We've marked to have 2 more this month and hopefully it all goes well. The work is going well, our zone is tearing it up and we're having a great time!

I really liked General Conference this week. I think instead of waiting until I'm 25 to get married so I can travel all over the globe first, I'll cut off a year and get married at 24. I'll just work (and goof around....) for one less year. That'll be my plan. But, I really enjoyed general conference. It seems like every year I watch that it goes by faster than the last.

We had the zone leaders council yesterday. It was way fun and I always enjoy getting trainings from President. We talked a lot about the importance of a good companionship and what we can do as leaders to help the others have better companionships. It went well and we ate at a churrascaria! Gotta love meat! I think my comp and I ate the most. President was wanting to leave and we were still asking for more meat. Gotta take advantage of it!

I was talking to one of my friends this week, and he said, "Dude, you're lucky. You're getting near the end of your mission, working hard, in a good area, getting fed a lot, a leader, and have a great comp". It made me think that yeah, I do have it pretty good right now. I'm loving the mission and it's weeks like this one that I'll miss....I'm in a great area, we're working hard, and I can honestly say that I'm
enjoying my mission....I'm gonna miss it when it's all over.

We played some basketball this morning. It was fun. I love having a group of Americans that I can play sports with every week. By the end, I even started playing decently well. I love getting my sport fixes in every week and we had a fun time.


Anyway, I hope that you guys are doing great and enjoying Maui. I'm just jealous that you guys are able to go swimming and snorkeling and all that, but, I'm sure we'll go in the next few years....So, love you guys!

Until later
-Elder Eric Stapley

Friday, April 1, 2011

Nova Esperanca

Hey guys,

Life here with Elder Soares is fun. He's from Curitiba and is way cool! You guys haven't seen pics of him, but I'll see if i can send one. We played football and took a group pic. He's way chill and goes home in August. He's animated and we are working really hard.

So, this area is really rich. I'm just being blown away. Just an idea, my lunch yesterday was at a house worth more than R$2 million....and that's not even the richest member of the ward. There are a lot of members who have been in the church for a long time. Mom, I'm not as "needed" here as in my last area. I didn't play the piano, I didn't give a talk or teach the principles of the gospel class this week. And, we actually have a nice chapel. It was nice being in the chapel again. There is even a Brazilian who plays the piano. It's weird to go from doing everything to doing nothing....

We had a ward activity this week. "Crazy dish (food) night." Everyone had to make some weird kind of food and there was a little competition to see who could make something weird that still tasted good. Being poor missionaries, we just bought sardines, mayo, and bread We uncrusted the bread, mixed the sardines and the mayo, and made a tower of the sandwiches with toothpicks. Appetizing huh? Even I didn't eat it. But, the members thought we were hilarious....so I guess it went well....

We are working hard and having a good time. It's weird living with a Brazilian again. It's been a full year! We teach well together and it's nice not having to worry about the language. I'm enjoying the mish.

Anyways, hope that you guys are all doing well! Have a great week! Love you!
-Elder Eric Stapley

Only 10 more emails!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Nova Esperanca


This has been an eventful week. I got transferred. I stayed in my same zone and I'm now in Nova Esperança. It's probably the richest area in the mission. The temple is in my area, as well as the nicest hotel in the city. My area goes right up to the river, it's pretty cool. Just a huge area. My companion is Elder A. Soares and we're the Zone Leaders. I'm glad to have stayed in my same zone. We've already got some cool people to teach and we'll work to have some good success this transfer.

It was a little sad saying 'goodbye' to everyone in Laranjeiras. On Sunday, I showed up and Bishop's councilor told me that one of the speakers wasn't going to show up. He asked me to talk on faith. People told me that it went well. I then took a minute to say goodbye to everyone and to bear my testimony. And of course, I played piano for the meeting and taught the Principles of the Gospel class. It was a busy Sunday, but it was fun.

On Monday, I said goodbye to the rest of the ward. We had a family night with the family that I lived with and a few other members. I think we got fed more food in the 2 days after I said I was going to get transferred than the rest of the 5 transfers...

I'm stoked for this transfer. It's been a year since I've had a Brazilian companion and Elder A. Soares is tight. We already get along great. So, I'm excited for this time.

Anyway, that's pretty much what went down this week. I feel like my emails keep getting shorter, but I feel like I'm running outta things to talk about. It's weird, I'm on my 2nd to last transfer. That means just 12 more weeks. It's gone by really fast! Crazy! But, have a great week! Love you guys!


-Elder Eric Stapley

Monday, March 21, 2011

Laranjeiras


Hey guys,

We are going to have a baptism this weekend for a girl that's friends with a member of the ward. She's actually pretty cool, her name is Mariana. She reads the Book of Mormon every day, goes to seminary, and has gone to church for over a month. So, it should go really well. I'm stoked.

My district was kind of sick this week. Two of the Elders got dengue fever and one of them also has a pretty ugly cough. So, Elder Lewis and I went over one day this week and tried to help them out. I'm so glad that I'm healthy though....Dengue doesn't sound too fun.

So, last week I was able to hang out with my trainer, Christensen. It was so much fun! We went out to lunch and just sat and talked for a while. He said I should work with him at the MTC in Provo after the mish. We also might take a volleyball class together or something. But, it was way fun to catch up and stuff. He still speaks really well. It was a good time and a fun P-day.

Today we played soccer. It's been a while since I had played. I'm a little sunburned now, but it happens....


Well, transfers go down this week. I'm curious to see what's going to happen. I'm almost positive I'm going to leave this time....but, I dont know. At this point, I don't want to leave the city. I'd really like to end my mission in Manaus, so even if I do get transferred, I want to stay here in the city. I'll let you know what happens. All of the brush areas are pretty much closed. We only have elders in the capitals of the 4 states. Oh, I met an RM that knew Sister Hart. He just returned home to Manaus last week. Little connection...

Well, that's pretty much my week. Sorry for the short email. I just really can't think of too much exciting or different that happened. Hope you guys have a great week. Love you!

-Eric

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Larnajeiras

Hey guys,
We are working really hard and are having some good success. We've only got one baptismal date marked right now, but we've got some good people with potential that we are teaching. So, I'm hoping that things go really well over the next few months in the area. I'm enjoying the ward, the area, and the work. And Elder Lewis and I are having a blast.

This week we had a great district meeting. We finished last week with relatively great numbers, especially for this zone, but I felt it just wasn't our best. Our ZLs were way happy with us and said we did a lot better that almost all the zone, but I still felt it wasn't our "best..." So, this week in district meeting, we talked about 2 things. First, the importance of our desire and how we can better it. I then came up with a new idea. Every night, I talk personally to every member of the district and I ask one question. "Did you do your best today?" I then have another missionary ask me if I did my best. It's been fun and it motivates me a lot during the day, knowing that at night I'm going to have to say if I really did the best that I could do. But, it's been going well with the district and we've been tearing it up. I'm pretty happy about it.

So, "Vaughn" Christensen is in town. My trainer. I saw him for a little bit last night and I ate breakfast with him and some members this morning. After this, we're going out to lunch somewhere. It's been fun to kick it with him. His Portuguese is still really good. My accent still doesn't beat his....Not even close. But, it's fun to hang out with him and stuff. When the family comes down here next year,' Ill have to take Elder Lewis out to lunch. He'll still be here....

Well, I don't really have to much to talk about this week. We're just working hard and I'm having a good time. I really love the mission. Sorry, I don't have any pics this week, cuz I'm not in my area, but I'll send some next week. So, anyway, have a great week. Love you guys! Tchau!
Elder Stapley

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Laranjeiras


Hey guys,

What's up?! So, great week! We had our baptism on Saturday. It was well-attended and the Spirit was great during the meeting. We're working really hard and seeing some good success. We have at least one baptism already set up for this month and we're working hard and trying to find more. My district is tearing it up and we baptized the only men in our zone during the month of February.

Elder Lewis is a way cool guy and we're really good friends. His Portuguese is really coming along and I feel we are teaching better together.

Sounds like my pai (trainer) will be in Manaus next week. Elder Christensen. I talked with Pres and it sounds like he'll let us hang out next P-day, so I'm stoked. I'm going on an English fast for a week to get my Portuguese accent up....


We had zone conference this week and it went well. We talked a lot about planning and goals. I realized that I only have one more zone conference left! It's flying by....But it was fun to see President and Sister Jayme and some other friends. The mish is so much fun.

Yesterday, I had a good experience at lunch. The Irmã (sister) was telling us about a difficult situation with one of her sons. He used to love going to church and has since been influenced by other family and friends to not go to church. The Irmã was pretty upset about it and I felt prompted to share the story of Alma the Younger with her. When I shared the part about the angel telling him that he (the angel) showed up to fullfill the righteous prayers of Alma's father to convince him of the truthfullness of the church, the Spirit hit. The Irmã started crying and saying that she had prayed and asked the Lord for help with her son. She didnt know if her prayers were doing anything or if she should just give up and that the message I shared was an answer to her prayer...I love it when that happens! It was a great experience, one of those moments when I felt that I was really being an instrument in Gods hands.

Well, props to my BYU bball!!!!! Jimmer is the man! I'm so sad I'm missing this season. Win over SDSU....going in with a #1 seed. That's my team! Rise and Shout! We are celebrating by going and playing some bball right now with some other Americans....

Anyways, hope you guys are all doing well! I'm glad to hear about baby Grant, my new cousin! Hope he's doing well! Miss you guys, love you, and have a great week!

-Elder Eric C. Stapley

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Laranjeiras


Hey guys,

I'm getting used to the fact that I'm still in Laranjeiras. I'm doing my best to enjoy it. I really have grown to love this ward and some of the members. I told the Bishop that my home ward will be sending my paperwork down and that I'm going to be a new permanent member of the ward. I really am doing my best to work hard and love the area and the ward.

I'm stoked for a baptism that we have marked for this week. His name is Joarez and he's way cool. He's a 30 year old man that is really progressing in the gospel. Everything we leave with him to read, he reads. The first time we asked him to pray about the church, he did and got an answer. He's been going to church ever week (except this one because he was sick...) But, I really enjoy teaching him. He asks good questions and Elder Lewis and I are able to teach him a lot of things. So, it's going really well and the baptism will happen Saturday. I'm excited.

I'm really proud of my district. We are baptizing more than pretty much the rest of the zone. I'm starting to realize that it's actually fun sometimes to be a district leader. I'm able to have more of an influence on the others and have a closer relationship. We had a great meeting on Monday. I gave a training on miracles, that by our faith plus our works we can see miracles in our areas and in the work. The training went really well and everyone participated. I even got a few compliments on it....but this district rocks. We're having success. Our zone only baptized 5 people this month, but 3 were from my district and we have 2 men to baptize this week. We are baptizing the only men in the entire zone. We are tearing it up.

Elder Lewis and I still get along great. We've become really good friends. It's always good to be with a comp who likes to have fun. We are able to laugh and joke around as we walk around and it helps the day go by faster.

Well, that's pretty much it for this week. Not too much else. Tell Erynn that Provo won't be boring when I'm back. We'll have a great time next year. haha

But, I hope that you are all doing well and have a great week. Love you guys!

-Elder Eric Stapley

Laranjeiras

Hey guys,
Transfers went down and it's official, I'll be staying here in Laranjeiras with Elder Lewis. It'll be my 5th transfer here and my 3rd with him. Making it the longest time I've been in one area and the longest time I'll have been with a companion. This week I made 6 months in the area, so it's been awhile. At first I wasn't excited to stay, but it's now starting to grow on me more. When I told some members I'd be staying, they were all way happy and gave me hugs and stuff. So, at least someone is excited that I'm staying. It'll be nice to stay with Elder Lewis some more time. He's a good guy and we still have a lot of fun. That's good.

The work continues. We've got at least one more baptism lined up for the end of the month and we're working hard.

We just got done playing some American football today. Even though transfers went down we still have a good group to play football with. After that, I showed the guys the rope swing in the video from last week. We saw 2 young boys when we were leaving and they asked us if we saw the alligator....! Apparently there are some alligators in the pond. So, I went on a rope swing over a pond with alligators...I love my mission.....

This week I taught Principles of the Gospel class about the Holy Ghost. I tried to prepare more for my class this week and it went well. The only thing I don't like is that there isn't a lot of class participation. I ask questions and do my best to get people to respond and to have a comfortable setting to talk, but there are only like 3 people that respond to my questions. Afterwards, I got some compliments on the class. So, hopefully I'm doing a good job. I've really grown to love teaching, and I'm actually kinda hoping to have a calling where I get to teach a lot when I get back to BYU.

That was pretty much this week. I now have a pretty cool pattern though.....2 transfers in my 1st area, 3 in my 2nd, 4 in my 3rd, and now 5 in my 4th.....Hopefully, I get at least one more area before going home.

Anyway, hope that you guys are doing well! Have a great week!

Love,
-Elder Eric Stapley

Monday, February 14, 2011

Laranjeiras

Oi! We had a baptism on Saturday. His name is Jhonata and he's a 15 year old that we've been teaching. He received a testimony of the church and the Book of Mormon. His baptism was really well attended and all went well. We marked a baptismal date for a man that we've been teaching. He's gone to church the past 2 weeks and has already received a great testimony of the Book of Mormon and the church. He's excited and it'll be a good baptism. I'm not sure if I'll be here for it, but even if I'm not, I'm happy to leave a good baptism for a new Elder who could show up in the area. We find out on Saturday about transfers. My guess is that I'll be leaving. I've been in this area for 6 months and I've really grown to love it. About 23 missionaries are going home this transfer and only a few are showing up. A lot of areas will have to close down. I see a lot of changes coming. But, I'll let you know. It's kinda rough.

I went on a division this week with a guy named Elder Keicher. He's a cool guy and it turns out we were in the same psychology class at BYU. He heads home right after I do and we've become pretty good friends. But on our division, we got absolutely soaked by rain, and lunch was 2 hours late...and not really that filling. Needless to say we weren't having tons of fun. So, on the way to our next appointment, we took some pretty cool pictures. Some roads were completely washed out and we passed a little pond that had a rope swing. We ended up having a pretty fun time and were in a much better spirits when we arrived to teach.

That's pretty much what's going on down here. Just working, getting rained on every day and doing our best. I hope that all is well and that you have a great week. Anyways, até mais. Love you! -Elder Eric Stapley
video

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Laranjeiras


Hey guys,

We had a wedding on Saturday and the baptisms marked for this Saturday. Unfortunately, the couple says they, "just aren't ready to be baptized yet..." but, we're doing our best to help them realize how prepared they are. It was kind of a disappointing lesson though. But, we're still marked to baptize a 15 year old young man who has been going to church recently. So, hopefully all goes well with that.

Today we played football on the beach of the river. I'm pretty wasted right now. I've really enjoyed having a big group of guys that I can play sports with once a week. It helps me get through the week and all. We played on the sand and ended up with a few tackles. Surprisingly, I think I tackled more than anyone else. But, it was all in good fun and we had a great time.


So, the work goes on. I'm still hanging in and doing well. We're working hard and have a good number of people to teach. I was a little upset this week when we only had 3 investigators at church....I was expecting at least 10 like the previous 2 weeks, but, the work goes on.

On Sunday I had to give the lesson to the new members and investigators, as usual. It was on the creation....I tried to prepare a little before, but it was still kind of hard to talk just about the creation for an hour. Hopefully it went well. I've gotten a few compliments on my classes so it's going well. We had a man come to church with a family in the ward. We taught him and invited him to be baptized. He said once he feels the Book of Mormon and the church are true, he'll get baptized. I like to invite people very early on to be baptized and it's been a successful technique. We are able to find out, quickly, who are willing and have real intent, that say when they receive an answer, they'll follow it.

"I love my mom"

Elder Lewis and I are still getting along great. That was pretty much my week. Hope that you are doing well!

Love you and have a great week!

-Elder Eric Stapley

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Laranjeiras

Hey guys,

Well, we had a good week! The work is going well. We're still set up for a wedding at the end of the month and I actually had a lot of fun teaching this week. We have 3or 4 young men in our ward that are working on their mission papers. They were all inactive about 3 or 4 months ago, but are now preparing to head out on missions. We've made good friendships with them and are being blessed because of it. They are all pretty cool guys and have a bunch of friends that they're inviting to church. We've been teaching some of their friends, way cool and sincere guys, and 2 have already said they've received answers about the Book of Mormon and want to be baptized. It's been fun to teach with them. We're teaching good people who've already gone to church and are honestly open to receive the gospel. So, it's been a fun week. One of my favorite parts of the mission is to teach and I love it when more of my time is spent teaching than finding (which isn't so fun for me....) So, the work is going great. We had over 12 investigators at church this week! So, we've got some good potential, and I'm enjoying the work.


It was an interesting week at church. With the ward division, I thought we'd have less than 100 people at church. A usual week had a frequency of 120 people and we lost about 25 active ward members. This week, we had 118 people at church! I was surprised and it was a great blessing to see. But, we did lose the ward pianist and the Principles of the Gospel teacher. So, who gets the responsibilities..? Me! We showed up to church at 9:05 (we were trying to get some ppl to come to church...) and right when I showed up and sat down, the ward secretary came down and told me that I'd be playing the piano. So, I run up to the stand just as the first hymn was supposed to start and look at the hymn. It had 5 flats! I had to resort to just playing one note, as I don't know how to play piano very well, but it went pretty well. I also had fun teaching the Principles of the Gospel class....We had a pretty good showing and the lesson went well. So, I'm staying pretty busy...

Today, my last comp, Elder Woolf made a year on the mission. So, we celebrated by having a "brunch". We made chocolate chip pancakes that his family sent, juice, eggs with bread, french bread, an avocado smoothie, and a scone-ish kinda thing. It's like a fried pancake you eat with cinnamon sugar. It was so good! I took a pic, but I forgot my camera. I'll have to get it to you guys next week. Sorry.

Elder Lewis and I still get along great. He's a good kid. We've figured out that between February 4th and 5th, I'll have as much time left on the mission as he will have had out here. Pretty nuts!

So yeah. That's pretty much whats been going on. Hope you guys have a great week!

Love you!

-Elder Eric Stapley

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Laranjeiras

Hey guys,

Well, we had a pretty good week. Life is just going on. I'm still here in Laranjeiras. By the end of this transfer, I'll have been here for 6 months. But, I'm excited to stay with Elder Lewis. He's a good guy and I'm glad that I can stay with him for another transfer. I think by the end of this one, I'll be ready to go to another area.

The work is going well, though. We have some pretty good people that we're teaching and a family of 6 that we're hoping to baptize soon. We are getting some good references and trying to teach the most that we can with the members. So, life is going pretty well and we are trying to have some good success.

New Years was pretty chill, except I didn't really sleep too much. It sounded like a war was going on outside. I think I finally fell asleep at like 3 in the morning. We celebrated by eating some burgers and churrasco....pretty exciting. But, it's now 2011! The year I go home! The time is flying by...

We had a few ward changes this week. Our stake is not really the strongest in Manaus. On a good week, our ward has an attendance of 120. But, the neighboring ward only has about 70-80. So this week, we found out that a fairly large portion of our area was taken out and given to the other ward. We lost about 25 active people....So, while it's nice because our area is now smaller, we lost some good members, and (unfortunately...) some of the better lunches. It's nice because now we don't have to walk as much, but it's definitely going to shake some things up in the ward.

We had a good lesson this week. I tried to have the investigators talk 50% of the time by asking good "inspired" questions. We hadn't really planned what we would teach before, and tried to learn what we needed to say by just asking questions and listening to the Spirit. It actually turned out to be a great lesson and I could tell the investigators really paid attention and learned what we were trying to teach them.

But yeah. Life goes on. I'm just lovin life and the mish. Hope you guys had a good new year!

Love,
-Elder Eric Stapley

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Laranjeiras


Hey guys,

Well, this email won't be too long, as I talked with you on Christmas and not much has happened since. But, this week has gone well. Back to work! We've been working really hard and doing our best to work with the ward members. As a result, we've one of the biggest teaching groups that I've had since I've been in this area. We have some baptismal dates marked and January should be a good month. We participated in a ward council where the ward made a goal to baptize 12 people in the next 4 months! We hope the ward makes some good changes and starts baptizing. For the year of 2010, the ward only baptized 6 or 7 people, so hopefully the work continues to grow.

This is the last week of the transfer. I'm curious to see what happens. I've been in this area for 3 transfers, but only been with Elder Lewis for 1. I kind of see me staying 1 more transfer to finish training him. I wouldn't mind staying for another transfer. Elder Lewis is fun and I feel like I can continue to help him grow. I'll find out this weekend and let you know in my next email!

Today we're going to get lunch with 2 other Elders. They want to eat turtle and as I haven't had it yet, I might try it out too. Some members say that it's tasty...If I end up eating it, I'll send a report...


Well, it's official. I've been serving for more than a year and a half. I'm excited but really nervous to think that in 6 months I'll be home. I'm still working and have made a goal to try and be the best missionary I've been for my entire mission. I want to end these last 6 months working hard and helping others to come unto Christ.

I know this email isn't long, but I can't think of what else to say. Hope all is going well with you! Have a great week! I loved talking on the phone on Christmas! Miss you!

Love,
Elder Eric C. Stapley