Tuesday, September 4, 2012

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!

-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