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 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!

-Elder Eric Stapley