Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Vou estar na casa próximo natal! (I'm going to be home next Christmas!)

Well hey family!

My goodness, skyping with you was incredible. It was pretty funny, because to me it felt like a normal conversation with you all. (That dang vaccume sound is still a mystery.) But I'm glad I'm here in Brazil serving this mission. Absolutely no regrets here!

So my camera offically broke for reals time. It was always kind of having problems opening and shutting, but I was always able to fix it. But now it doesnt even make a sound when I turn it on. It lets me see the pictures, but the lens or motor or something inside is busted. ("Its busted." "Who you callin' busted, Buster? Thats right, I'm talking to you, Sid Philips." Gotta have Toy Story quotes.) The cameras here are pretty expensive, so I'll probably just use the incredible camera on our cell phone until I find another solution. Attached are some of the pictures I took during the week with the cell phone. 

Our teaching pool is in the process of being recreated. Actually, we have a ton of people who definitely are gonna be baptized. The only problem we're having is finding these people in their houses. A lot are on vacation because of the new year, so its frusterating to teach someone and have an incredible lesson only to find out that they won't return unitl Feb. We actually had an incredible lesson with a 19 year old kid, Ricardo. He understood the message so well that he immediately told us that he needed to share this with his pastor, because he was following the wrong church. He told us that he was gonna share this with everyone! We're definitely excited to follow up with him [when we find him in his house again] and see his progress! 

I don't know if I shared this with you, but do you guys remember Leandro and Jessica? They were the people that I said "Why not?" and we entered into their house. Well, they were baptized right when I was transfered, and I was able to visit them last week! They're doing great, and have goals to be sealed in the temple, and visit Minnesota in 2 years. Incredible people!

Thanks so much for the wonderful christmas! The boxes and presents were great. I'm eating all the cereal this week haha. I love you all so much! 
Elder Stallings


Sunday, December 14, 2014

A missão é incrível! - Week of Dec 8th

Hey Family!

Man, this week was great. So I'm definitely loving this new area and this companion that I have. The area is called "Parque da Fonte" or Font Park haha. Its a pretty big area, so I'm still trying to get to know it. But I had a bunch of splits and exchanges here when I was here in the zone, so I already knew a little bit. My companion, Elder Schirmer (Brazillian from Rio Grande do Sul [Big South River]) is such a great Elder. He really likes to sing (in english and portuguese), so we have a lot of hymns that we sing in the road. He's really helping me a lot, and we hit off the transfer great.
Thanksgiving Pizza

The ward here is super supportive, and the bishop is new. Actually, the ward was split  couple months ago, so this is a new ward that we're working with. I think the ONLY weak part about the ward is the lack of youth. But we already have a baptismal date set for 1 (soon to be 2) youth that went to church sunday. The Lord is giving us so many options in our teaching pool, its incredible. Over all, I have no worries about our area. Its definitely in the Lords hands as we have other responsibilities to attend to sometimes. 
Iron Man

Its so great to find people who understand what we say. It sounds weird, but you have no idea how many people simply dont understand the message of the Restoration. We try to teach so simply but a lot of times people have their minds shut and dont hear anything we say. But this week it was incredible to see some of the people we taught really listen and consequently, completely understand the message. Definitely have a ton of people this next week with lots of potential!

Well, sorry I dont have too much to say today. I love you all so much! Thank you for the support and love!
Elder Stallings

Monday, November 17, 2014

Nem sei o que aconteceu com esta semana (Week of Nov 17 2014)

Hey Family!

The week passed by so fast, its kind of a blur trying to remember whats going on. I just remember working really hard and trying to help people go to church this week. We found some incredible people with lots of potential, but didnt choose to go to church. Big let down. We´re definitely going to continue to work with them and get the members involved so that they can feel comfortable about going to church.

Aside from people not choosing to go to church, I wanna note that in 2 more days ill have 1 year on the mission! People, you have no idea how fast this is going. You also have no idea how much of a miracle this is. 1 year ago I was a completely different person than I am now. I guess you could say that the Lord has really showed me this past year the love that he has for me, and for others as well. 

I left to go on a mission confused and a bit scared to be honest. I didnt know what to expect. I didnt really have a testemony. I was lacking a lot of the spiritual strength that I needed. But looking back, Its like it was a whole different life. I dont even know how to describe it, really. Its one of those cliché things that everyone says is hard to describe, but it really is. I guess you could say that with 1 year on the mission, serving the Lord and growing, Ive gained a lot more confidence in general. Ive developed a love for a lot of things and people that I never thought I would have. My mind seems to work better. Without this mission, I´d be pretty lost.

I know this was just a testimony and I know that I´ve said this a million times. But I can´t put into words how grateful I am for this mission, and for the opportunity that was given to me to serve. I cant belive its been 1 year already! I still have a billion things to learn.

Elder Stallings

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Transferencias! Week of October 20, 2014

Oi Família!

This week was the last week of the transfer. We really hoping and praying for Claudice to be baptized. She needed to quit smoking this week so that she could be baptized Saturday. Monday and Tuesday we visited her and she didnt smoke anything! It was looking extremely promising!! Wednesday AND Thursday I had to go to Curitiba to a dermatologist (spelling? Doctor for the skin) because the skin around my eyes was dying haha. That was an adventure, but we lost A LOT of time this week due to that. We were really wanting to visit Claudice every day this week. Elder Maciel and I didnt have minutes on our cell phone, so we couldnt call her to see how she was doing. Friday, we were hoping to get her interviewed by our Zone Leaders. We got to her house and asked her how she was doing. She said she was fine, but that Wednesday, she smoked 2 cigarettes. NOOOOOO!!!!!! I got SUPER sad when I heard this. She too started to cry and told us that she was doing good all day, and something happened that made her extremely stressed out. And when she realized what was happening, she had a cigarette in her mouth. I was beyond sad. I couldnt imagine leaving this transfer, these 4 months with her without baptizing her. I remember asking myself and the Lord, ``Is this really Your will? What else could I have done to help?´´ I left her house extremely discouraged. It was like a movie: A HUGE storm was starting to come in. Strong wind, extremely dark clouds, and everyone was running into their houses. And then there was me and my companion, walking in the middle of road thinking of what we could do. 

As I was walking in the road, I decided to call President to ask him what he thought. I explained the situation, and that she really wants this. It was literally her dream to be baptized, and she really does have the desire to stop. She had only smoked 2 cigarettes Wednesday. Thursday and Friday she didnt smoke anything. President thought for a minute, and then gave me the golden answer: ``You have permission to baptize her.´´
The second we hung up the phone, it started to rain hard. We literally ran back to Claudice´s house. She came running out to greet us at the gate. I asked her ``Claudice, do you want to be baptized Saturday?´´ She responded and said yes. I told her that our President authorized her baptism, and that our Leaders would interview her that night. She looked at me with tears in her eyes. She asked if it would really happen, and I assured her that it would.

Saturday, Claudice was baptized by Elder Maciel. I had the privilage to confirm her a member of the church. I´m so grateful for the opportunity that I had to get to know her. During these 4 months, I´ve seen her change in so many ways. Her desire to be a part of this church was more than I have ever seen. I´m so grateful for the mercy of the Lord and the power he has to change peoples hearts!

I was transferred today! I´m now in Curitiba, in a part called BOQUEIRÃO. 
The weirdest part is that Im currently serving as District Leader in the same district of Sister Parco! Way weird haha. Im super excited to be here and to be serving this mission! Thank you all for your support and love! Attached is the picture of Claudice and her baptism, as well as my previous district!

Elder Stallings

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Vou ficar aqui! Letter from Sept 8 2014

Oi Família!

Transfers happened today, and I will stay here with Elder Maciel in Colônia Rio Grande! I´m super excited, because we have a lot of great investigators who we´re gonna baptize during this transfer! Its incredible how prepared some of these people are. 

Mom note: Typical $5 lunch buffet.  I can't believe this kid keeps losing weight with all the carbs he packs in. 

2 of these people (i´ll use the names John and Mary) are incredible. Elder Maciel were knocking on doors, trying to enter into some of these houses. I saw this apartment, and literally said outloud ``Why not?´´ I went to the front of the apartment and clapped. 2 dogs immediatley started barking and trying to eat me. (Fortunately, there was a gate!) Wayyy at the top window someone poked their head out to talk to me. I was thinking ``Ah great. This is gonna be a tough contact.´´ But I started to talk with her, explaining that we were missionaries. She immediately told me she would let me in. Her and her husband came down to greet us, and let us come in. She explained to us that they recently started to go back to church (a different church) because of the trials that happened in their life. This couple, John and Mary, are legally married and are 27 and 28. She explained that she is a cancer surviver, and through this experience she was brought extrememly close to God. We had an extremely spiritual visit, and this week visited them 3 more times. John read the introduction of the Book of Mormon and felt the spirit testify to him about it. Mary told us she wants to think real well about Joseph Smith, and then she will pray for an answer. I´m so glad I made the decision of ``Why not?!´´ instead of ``no´´. This is how Heavenly Father acts. Through our faith, miracles WILL happen.

Connor with the other elders in his district

It rained a lot this week. Like, a lot. We had 1 day of sun this week. But my health is just fine! My toe had an infection or something, but its all good now! Just really ugly. 

Other note, I cant get enough of these General Confrence talks in the Liahona. Before the mission, I NEVER wanted to read these haha. When I realized that general confrence would be this transfer, I got super excited. This was just one of the MANY things that I realized that the mission changed in me. 

I cant believe how fast this time is going. The mission is a huge blessing. I love you all so much! Thank you for your love and support. This is the best thing that could have ever happened to me.

Elder Stallings

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Encontramos Eleitos - Letter from July 21st

Oi Família!

Great news! Im really sweaty and kind of sunburnt. Why is this great news? Because its ``winter´´ here, and I was expecting the worst. But the days this week have been so awesome. It gets a little chilly during the night, but I carry a light coat with me in my bag during the day to use during the night. Inverno realmente é bem tranquilo mesmo. 

So the work was great this week. Everything you can think of that can happen in missionary work happened this week. Well, maybe not everything. But it was still awesome. Saturday we had something like 8 appointments scheduled for the day. 6 of them fell through, including our lunch appointment, and 1 of them told us they didnt us to visit them again. Great. perfect day. Ha ha days like that are awesome. You just gotta keep going and not get discouraged. The investigators that cut us really did make me sad though. These 2 youth,16 and 12 were progressing like crazy. The one with12 years even recieved an answer that the Book of Mormon is true. But I dont think they fully understood the importance of the message, because if they did they would be all over the chuch ha ha. This is something I´m praying for; for all of our investigators to understand the importance of the message of the Restoration. I can work to improve my teaching abilities and portuguese as much as I want,but if these people dont understand or arent ready to hear it, it´ll be for nothing. this desire that I have is something only the Lord can help with. Through his help and His spirit, I know the people will understand. And if they understand, they will come to the same conclusion that I came to: That Heavenly Father loves them and is always trying to help them. Through this precious knowledge, miracles will happen to the lives of these people. This however can only happen if the people want it. And thats is ultimately the trick of missionary work. Finding people with the desire to feel the Saviors love is literally the sweetest feeling. 

We found a family this past week who are super prepared. I knocked on the door last sunday night, and talked with the husband. He basically told us to come by another day and to leave them alone ha ha. But as I was about to leave, the wife came running down the porch and started talking with us. She asked if we were servants of the Lord, and we replied yes. She told us she knew we were going to visit her, and told us to come in. The husband was mad, and went in his room and didnt leave during the whole visit. The woman told us she was praying friday that she could really find the correct path to take in her life. She told us that she had a dream that 2 men dressed in white visited her, and brought her to a beautiful waterfall. She didnt remember the rest of the dream, but knew that we were an answer to her prayers. We visited her just about every day this week, and she told us she couldnt wait to go to church. She went yesterday and loved it! The best thing is not only is she married, but the husband is now listening to the lessons. Miracles are happeing! We will continue to work with them until all of them are baptized!

I had the opportunity to read 2 nephi 4 this week with an investigator. My heart was opened when I realized how converted to the gospel nephi became. Nephi was always the one to talk about how tall and strong he was. He was always the one to talk about how he was righteous and his brothers werent. Seeing his conversion in this chapter was truly something beautiful to read. To me, this is a true testimony that the Book of Mormon is true. No one can describe the conversion of another person. This is truely something that Nephi wrote from his heart. Great chapter to re-read this week! 

Im so greatful to this opportunity that I have to serve this mission. My conversion to the gospel is deepening every day. I honestly cant give enough back to the Lord for what he has given to me. 
I love you all so much! Thank you for your wonderful letters!
Elder Stallings

2 Nephi 4:31 O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

4 de Julho provavelmente vai ser normal (Letter from July 4th)

Oi Família!

We´re having P-day early again this week due to the World Cup! Brazil is gonna play today, so we have to stay in our houses all day after this. I think they´re gonna play Colombia today. 

I just want to note that the internet cafe or LAN House that we´re using right now is a bit strange. The guy who owns it is watching videos on his computer, but his computer is hooked up to the huge speakers in this place, so we´re hearing everything he´s watching. We listened to a guy screaming at the top of his lungs for a solid 4 minutes. Oh he´s listening to a vaccume cleaner sound right now. Not sure whats going on. I´ll keep you guys updated. Bem gostoso. 

So this week we´re really trying to bring our numbers up. A lot of the same things that we´ve been doing in the past: finding people to teach. The problem here (generally) isnt entering into houses and teaching people. The problem is getting them to say yes to us visiting them again, and even when they say yes, they´ll flake out. A LOT. I´ve really had to stay on my toes keep myself motivated this week. 

But something awesome happened! Our investigators, who are the kids of a less active (super less active), have a baptismal date! The problem with them was because the Mom is less active, she didnt want her kids to be baptized until she was active in the church. But she really wasnt doing anything to get back to church, so we were stuck in this pattern of her not going to church, and the kids who´re 13 and 11, wanting to be baptized but not having the chance because of the mom. As we were studying for them, I had the idea to share the story of the 2000 stripling warriors. I remembered one part in particular in this story that would be perfect for them. Alma 56:47 talks about how these youth ``did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.´´ Who taught them this wonderful truth? Their mothers.

 I then went to Mosiah 28, and talked about how the sons of Mosiah had the desire to serve God. Their father knew that this could be dangerous, being that they would go into the land of their enemies. But verse 5 says ``And it came to pass that they did plead with their father many days that they might go up to the land of Nephi.´´ They had the desire! They wanted this! So, what did their father do? Verse 6 says ``And king Mosiah went and inquired of the Lord if he should let his sons go up among the Lamanites to preach the word.´´ I like how even though Mosiah wasnt sure, he asked the Lord if they should go. And the Lord responded, and said ``Let them go up, for many shall believe on their words, and they shall have eternal life; and I will deliver thy sons out of the hands of the Lamanites.´´ They recieved the promise that the Lord would deliver them out of the hands of the lamanites. Returning to the story of the stripling warriors, we explained that even though many were wounded after the battle, none of them died. 

With the combination of these 2 stories, the spirit was able to help this mother understand her responsibility, as well as the responsibility of the Lord. We recieve the gift of the holy ghost, to guide and protect us in these days. She was able to finally mark a date for this month for the kids! I´ve never been so happy in my life! Once again, its interesting to see the Lord compensated for our work this week. We didnt really find too many people who were solid, but we recieved this instead. My testimony about this work has never been stronger.

 I´ve never been so tired in my life! Helping my district be obedient, reach our goals, and help my area is crazy. The weather is great right now. High 70´s today. And i think last week was offically the start of winter. I know it probably wont stay like this, but its nice to not get slapped in the face with winter like Minnesota. 

I love you all so much! Your letters and prayers mean everything to me. 
Elder Stallings

Estou fazendo email mais sedo hoje! (Letter from June 28th) NonFB

Surpresa! Oi Família! 

Due to the World Cup, we have p-day today. They told us 2 days ago that today would be p-day, so its kind of a bummer that the work is getting slowed down this week. I´m trying to stay focused on the work, but its pretty much impossible not to talk about the World Cup and how the teams are doing with the investigators. Brazil will play today, and its gonna be a big deal if they win. 

But I won´t talk too much about the world cup with you all, other than the fact that its slowing the work down a bit. The work here in São José Centro is pretty tough. We´re pretty much running on fumes here. Yesterday was super difficult. We had 0 appointments for the day, and even worse 0 people to visit. Yeah, we have couple people that we can ``teach´´ but they´re not going to progress, and it would ultimately be a waste of time. So I was super determained to find new investigators. We taught one of our few investigators with potential, and after decided that we were going to find new investigators. We went for a solid 2 hours without entering into a single house. We finally found a girl, very receptive, who said her dad had died and she was curious where he was. Plan of Salvation. It was a great lesson with the Spirit, and she definitely has potential. 

We went for another 2.5 hours without sucess. I have to say, it was extremely discouraging and trying during this time. My faith and hope were really being tested. It was 7:45pm and I was discouraged. I knocked on a door and found a super nice couple. The guy is from Japan, and I immediately started talking about the mission and how Dad served in Japan. We talked about learning different languages and how it can be tough. This broke the ice real well, and he told us we could enter and talk with them. The lesson went super well. I´ve never been so excited to teach someone. It made me really appreciate every opportunity we have to teach someone. 

Being a missionary, its so easy to forget that every opportunity to teach is a blessing, even if they dont understand the doctrine. Often times its easy to become frusterated with the people who arent progressing, who dont want anything, who cant seem to grasp that this is the most important thing they will hear in their life. Preach my gospel says the following about this: ``When people choose not to investigate the restored gospel, your work is not wasted. Your consistent efforts in serving and teaching as many people as you can is one way God prepares His children to eventually receive His servants. He often reaches out to His children through you. Even when people do not accept the opportunity to learn the gospel, your service and words are evidence of God’s love for them and may plant seeds that future missionaries and members of the Church will harvest. When people do not accept the gospel, do not be discouraged. You have raised a warning voice. You have given them a clear choice. Disciples of Christ feel sorrow when people choose not to repent, but they maintain a vision of who they are and what they are doing. They continue to diligently move forward.´´ 

I know that every opportunity we have as members of the church to share this gosepl shouldnt be wasted. But at the same time, it doesnt mean you will convert every person you feel you should share the gospel with. It means you are doing your duty. You are giving people this opportunity, or a clear choice. This cannot be forgotten! No effort is wasted in this work.

Thank you all for your love and support. I´ve never had such a desire to be a missionary and serve the Lord as I have now. I know without this gospel, I would be lost. I love you all so much! 
Enjoy your summer!! Swim a lot!
Elder Stallings

So vai! Letter from June 23, 2014

Oi família! 

"Walter" - Connor entitled this "Fixing Good" (as opposed to Breaking Bad)

Gotta admit, this week was pretty long for me! Getting used to the thing here in this new area is pretty tiring. Meeting all the people, knowing the area, lunch appointments falling through, and helping the ward made this week a little long. But   i´m pretty sure this next week will start to speed up. I´m still trying to get to know this area...its huge. Still pretty stressed about helping this district, but i´m definitely learning. 

This week was a bit frusterating. We had P-day Monday (normal) so we didnt start to work until like 6:00pm. Tuesday, Brasil was playing in the world cup, so we stayed inside all day. Thursday I had splits and went to the area of the Zone Leaders. 

Saturday we had to go back to our house early because a group of people were walking down the street shooting at things. Police were going crazy, so I decided it would be best to return to the house a bit early. Sunday was hard too because church starts at 3:00 pm here and goes until 6:00, so by the time we started to work it was like 7:30 pm. I really only had Wednesday, Friday and a chunk of Saturday to do work in this area. On top of that, I started to get sick Friday and completely lost my voice. That makes teaching interesting! But some how we were able to do our goals for the week. This to me is proof that the Lord is here helping.

My ability to rely completely on the Lord is being refined every day. Listening to the Spirit and to the people to gain an understanding of what they need in their lives is another attribute the Lord is helping me with. Im recieving the daily help that I need. I remember Elder Christofferson shared a expereience about this. I never really actually understood the concept of how important only recieving the help you need in the moment really is. Its good to focus on the long term, but often times it will worry us and stress us out. Asking only for the help we need TODAY is what needs to occur. We wont be anticipating the hardships that will occur in the future. 

This letter is short de nova, mas ele não é importante. Muito obrigado por todas as cartas que vocês me enviarem. Amo vocês!
Love you all!
-Elder Stallings  

Sunday, June 22, 2014

COPA Do MUNDO (Letter from June 16th)

Oi Família! 

Holy cow! How has it been another week?? A bunch of stuff happened since the last time I talked with you all. Transfers were today, and I left my beloved neighborhood of São Marcos. I was moved to basically the downtown of São José dos Pinhais. This area is HUGE. I have no idea where I am or where to go. If thats not stressful enough, I was made district leader too! (I thought I had to do a transfer of being senior first) I have 5 sets of missionaries to care for now, 2 of the sets being sisters. I´m trying to keep it cool, but man things got stressful real fast! Really, my only desire is to help people. But its hard to have this mind set when I myself need help! There are so many other Elders who I think would be great District leaders. A bunch of the elders in my district have more time on the mission than me.  I know this time is going to help me grow and aquire attributes I need for the mission and for life, but it happened so fast! I had no warning of this. Right now, I´m stressed!

So the World Cup is happening right now. Some of the games are being played here in Curitiba, so thats fun. During games that are being held in Curitiba, we have to stay in our house. We stayed in our house thursday, and that was tough. I really dont want to stay in the house, but at the same time people are lighting small bombs in the street and going crazy. I´ll keep you updated on what else they do here.

This letter is short and doesnt have too many experiences of the week, but I´m short on time today. Thank you all so much for your wonderful letters and prayers. I definitely need everything I can get right now! 
I love you all so much!
-Elder Stallings

Chova de mais! (Letter from June 9th)

Oi Família!

Hope everyone´s doing okay this week! I was extremely happy to find out that I recieved the package from Mom and Dad as well as the package from Evan on monday! Super awesome to get some love from home. I tore through the Honey Bunches of oats in about 2 days, and so now I´m trying to limit my self a little haha. I also ate the box of Oh´s that evan sent me in about 4 days. American cereal is the best thing in the world! Thank you so much for your letters too. They were honestly some of the best letters i´ve read on my mission. The photo album is great too, thanks Mom!

There´s good news, and there´s bad news. The good news is that we have at least 4 investigators with a solid batismal date! All of them have desire to learn and go to church, so that´s super awesome. The bad news is that I will most likely be transfered next week, and probably wont get to see them baptized. Itd be nice to see them get baptized, but i´ll be happy where ever I am for them!

This week was pretty tough (again). We had sun I think 2 or 3 days this week, and the rest of the time it was raining. On the days with sun, I hung my suits out in the sun and used a wash cloth to clean the mold off. I think they´re getting better. We bought some anti mold things that suck the water in the air. We have 3 in our bed room now, and I think they´re working.

I learned this week that my faith that I thought was strong is actually incredibly weak. Yesterday was our toughest day this week. Literally nobody let us in their house. Even the member that told us to come over and teach a referal bailed on us. Great. It was about 7:30, raining, and no one was letting us in. We also had a member with us, so that was a little bit of pressure. To be honest, I was pretty discouraged. I couldnt figure out why all of our plans werent working. All of the houses we knocked rejected us. What kind of lesson is this? I thought I already learned that sometimes we have to do hard things. Well, my lesson was that I am weak and need to trust in the Lord. The member who was with us who is actually a recent convert decided that he wanted to knock on a door and try to enter. You have to understand that we have a certain technique that we learned though Preach My Gospel that we use every time we knock on doors. The assistants taught us that this is the way Presidente wants us to enter in houses. So when Geandro, the member, knocked on this door, he didnt know the technique. He started talking and saying everything we were told NOT to say. This was literally what he said:

Geandro: Hi, I´m Geandro. These are the missionaries, Elder Stallings and Elder Marcondes. They give lessons to people that teach about Jesus. Do you have faith in Jesus Christ?
Woman: Yes
Genandro: Can we share this messge with you?

 I was ready to help him when she said no, but was shocked when the women told us to enter. What! How the heck did he do this?? I literally burst out laughing when she told us to enter. The lesson was good, and we ended our night just fine. So what lesson did I learn here? I learned that we literally cannot do anything without faith. We all know this, but do we actually know this? I thought I knew this. I also was reminded that the Lord is the one in charge. If he wants us to teach someone, we will. His will is higher than ours. Even with the worst possible conversation, we can enter in houses and teach. The only way to do this work is with the spirit. If we are discouraged, we lose our faith. If we lose our faith, we lose sight of what we are doing. And when this happens, the spirit is gone. I learned so many lessons last night, but most importantly that I need to improve. I think everyone can find something to learn in this story.

Once again thank you, Family for the packages. It was a good taste of home and good old Murrica. I love you all so much!
-Elder Stallings

Os bênçãos (Letter from June 2nd)

Oi família!
Tudo bem com vocês? First off, its definitely cold here! Our house is pretty much a giant refrigerator. It doesnt have proper insulation or anything, and so that results in us having an extremely humid and cold house to live in. Nothing like ending the day in a slightly damp and freezing cold bed! No really, its great after about 10 minutes. My body absorbs so much water that seriously I dont remember the last time I took a drink of water in our house. The humidity is a problem, because my suits are completely moldy now. I only have 1 suit that doesnt have mold, but the pants are ripped in the back. (I ripped my pants; spongebob ref) So I had to do a mix and match kind of deal but its all good. I need to find a way to remove this mold because its ridiculous. I highly doubt São Marcos has a dry cleaner. Só bênçãos do missão!

So we had 4 people marked with a baptismal date. I was super excited, because 4 people would be an awesome number to have this transfer. But wednesday, literally everyone cut us. Its so sad to see these people who you know the gospel will help them turn away from the gospel, just because they want to stay in their church or dont like commitments. We had a guy, 40 years old, divorced and depressed, who wanted a better life for his son cut us on Sunday out of the blue. He sent us a text that he doesnt want to visit anymore. We had incredibly spiritual lessons with him, brought members with strong testemonies with us, and he even cried in the 1st 2 lessons we had with him. And yet he still cut us. This goes to show that, like we are taught, we do not do the converting here. The Lord is the one in charge. He has a plan for everyone. We literally did everything we could! I remember Elder Bednar said that the best missionaries are the ones who get out of the way, and let the Lord do the work. I dont want this letter to sound like I´m complaining, because I really have no reason to do that. Sometimes learning to get out of the way for the Lord can be difficult, because we often times will think that we know better. We know that having 4 baptisms would be perfect. We know that Marcello should be baptized. But we dont. We need to let the Lord do HIS work.

Aside from the struggles of the mission, I do have a great companion, Elder Marcondes. I dont think I´ve laughed so much in a companionship than with him. We even set goals to laugh less, because sometimes we will lose the spirit and have to stop in the road and pray. Although this isnt a great thing, it is something thats helping us both get through these struggles. Having someone who can laugh with you is so key for life.
Its nearly summer for you all! I was told that I recieved a package, but I will find out in an 40 minutes which package I recieved. I will send pictures when i find out! Thank you, thank you all thank you. And thank you all for your kind welcomes. That was from Toy Story. Love you all!
-Elder Stallings

Esta semana foi difícil de novo! (May 26th)

Oi Família!

How has it already been another week? I have no idea how the heck the time is going by so fast, but it is! This week I passed 6 months on the mission. It really made me think how much I need to grow and how little time I have left here on the mission. 6 months! tal loco! 

This week was a week of rain and cold, which made the work pretty difficult. We left our house for church yesterday, and it was raining. We returned home 9:30pm and it was still raining. My umbrella is absolute garbage! Haha it´s broken on one side, so it only works as half an umbrella some times. But sometimes Ill ``fix´´ it, and it´ll work for about 10 minutes. A funny story about my umbrella: Friday night we were teaching an awesome investigator. I set my umbrella next to his front gate and we entered into the house to teach. When we finished the lesson, I saw that someone had the courtesy to place my umbrella in our investigators garbage can.
I´m glad others are noticing how amazing my umbrella is.

This week had a lot of reasons to be hard. Thursday, I was taking a shower. I had shampoo in my hair and was about ready to rinse when the water shut off. There was only a slight stream of drips coming from the shower, so I used those to finish my shower. I checked our sinks, and they werent working either. We figured that in 30 minutes or an hour our water would be back up and running, but it wasnt. Well it turns out that they cut our water because the water bill had not been paid. We had to call the secretary of the mission and sort things out with them. It wasnt until saturday night that we got our water back. 2 days without showering or having a bathroom to use. (We had to use the grocery store .5 mile from our house for bathroom). The ironic part was during this whole time, it was raining. So we had water outside, but not inside. That was definitley something I wont ever take for granted again! Water!

I´m really not sure how, but during this week of many difficulties and trials, we were able to pull through with some awesome numbers. But i´m really not concerned about numbers. We need to baptize! We have 1 person right now marked with a baptismal date, and I´m extremely grateful for that. After my letter that I wrote last week about Elder Holland and the atonement in missionary work, I was thinking that this is exactly what our investigators need. I´ve been studying a lot this week about the atonement and Christ, and how we can apply this with all of our investigators. If they can come to an understanding of how much our Savior loves them, they will know that this is right. But that´s the trick, isnt it? People, unless they want to understand, have problems understanding this. This is where desire comes into play. There are so many things that need to happen that we, missionaries, cannot control. Sometimes you just have to do all you can, and when nothing seems to be happening, thank the Lord for the opportunity you had to serve him, because you know that it is His work you´re doing. Nothing is easy in this work, but it never was and never will be!

Thanks for the love and prayers! I love this so much!
-Elder Stallings

Poco tristeza, mas vamos continuar! (May 19th)

Oi Família!

This week was another week of tough work in the mission field. Elder Marcondes and I are entering into a lot of houses and teaching a lot of people, but we´re not seeing a lot of progress with too many of our investigators. Actually, we cut pretty much all of the people we found last week. We kept 2 or 3, but they didnt go to church. Getting people to go to church has to be one of the hardest things in my life! People will use any excuse they can find not to go to church. Saturday night, we called all of the people who told us they were going to go to church Sunday morning, and all of them confirmed they were going. We went to all of their houses sunday morning, and none of them answered the door, or they told us they werent going to go. It was definitely discouraging after this week of hard work to see none of the people go to church and ultimately progress. Obviously the Lord is seeing something that we´re not seeing. We did all that we could do, and nothing happened. We really just need to keep working and hoping and having faith that the Lord will do his part. 

(Editor's note: This was actually pretty ironic since we also had a hard time getting Connor out of bed and to church on time many Sundays!!  Glad he now sees the importance of this!)

Its funny how the Lord works. As soon as I start studying or learning something that I know is important, I see little tests throughout my day or week of the thing I´m learning. For example, last transfer I was studying faith and patience for a couple days. We encountered more moments than I have ever seen in my mission of people rejecting us, and were left only with the faith that we were going to teach someone. Of course with faith, you need patience because without the patience, you´ll get discouraged after the 3rd attempt of trying. Pretty much all of the moments like this ended in us teaching someone, only because of faith and patience. 

So as I was thinking to my self ``Why is this so hard?´´, I remembered that Elder Marcondes and I were watching the talk that Elder Holland gave where he too asked this same question. He says ``Why is this so hard? Why 
doesn’t it go better? Why can’t our success be more rapid? Why aren’t there more people joininthe Church? It is the truth. We believe in angels. We trusin miracles. Why don’t peopljust flock to the font? Why isn’t the only risk in missionarwork that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?
You will have occasion to ask those questions. have thougt about this great deal. offer this as my personal feeling. am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not cheap experience.Salvation never was easy.´´
This talk is absolutly incredible. He goes on to say that if missionaries can have an appreciation for the atonement of Jesus Christ, it will carry them throughout their mission. What a testimony I have of this. I have so many things to be grateful for. The Lord has called me to serve Him, and I am. How great is this calling! To be a representive of the only perfect missionary this world knew. I know this work is hard, but I also know that what I am doing is of the Lord. I have no right to complain when I truly have been given so much.
I love you all so much! São Marcos is still ghetto, but I love it here. Thank you for your love and prayers. 
Elder Stallings

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Novo Companheiro! (Letters from May 5th and May 12th)

Week of May 5th & May 12th

Oi Família!

1st off, Happy Birthday, Garrett! I know your birthday is tomorrow, but I didnt wanna forget. 17?? 
Que maravilhoso! 

This week and this transfer flew by. Elder Dallastra got transfered to another area pretty far from here, 
and I´m now with Elder Marcondes! He´s from São Paulo and already I know he´s super legit. I had 
splits with him a couple times my 1st transfer here, and he´s an awesome missionary. Very excited that 
I have a companion that will definitely continue to help the work here. This last week we found more 
people to teach, and 2 couples who are legally married! (This is a very rare thing here)

We didnt have any baptisms last transfer, but the Lord instead gave us a bunch of people to teach. 
I found this type of answer happen a lot in my mission, how he Lord will instead of just fixing 
our problems, will give us the tools or the things we need to fix our problems. When I was 
praying to improve my teaching and finding skills, we recieved a special training from the 
assistants on a new technique on finding and how to enter in houses. I learned from this 
that the Lord expects us to work.

The same principle is applied many times throughout the scriptures. When Nephi is commanded to build
a ship. Build a ship. Not use the ship that the Lord gave them out of thin air, but BUILD a ship. How
different would the story of the Brother of Jared be if the Lord had just given them everything they
needed without the need to think and work? There would be no story. So when we were praying that we
would have baptisms, the Lord gave us people to work with so we could have the baptisms. These things
I´m saying arent profound or unheard of in any way, but these are things that are so easy to forget!
Often times, our prayers are ``Lord, give me a miracle´´, but without challenges, there would be no miracles. 

The weather here warmed up a lot. Its pretty much the equivilent to November, but man its been hot
these past couple days. I´m enjoying every day I have with the sun. Once winter hits, its gonna be pretty
difficult. But ah, tudo bem. 

Im sad that Elder Dallastra is gone. He knew how to cook, cut hair, and make chocolate. I will miss all 
of these things, but I know this time I have now is going to be an excellent time to grow and really help 
this area. If this transfer is anything like last transfer, time literally won´t exist and I´m gonna find myself 
in another area with a new companion before I can think about it. I´m just gonna work and we´ll see what 
happens from there.

I love you all! A special thank you goes to Grandma for sending me letters. My goodness they help a bunch.
Thank you all for the thoughts and prayers. 
Elder Stallings

Hello Family!

Wow, it feels like I just talked with you all yesterday! I think that was the worst joke I´ve made in my
life, so I´m sorry you had to endure through that. But wow, skype was crazy awesome. It felt so
normal to be talking with all of you. Seeing the house and all the little things about our family made
me a little trunky, but we´re back to working. Definitely the best thing you can do to get rid of home sick
feelings. I have to say, It was pretty funny and weird to be speaking English. I felt like I was talking so
slow and my phrases didnt make sense. It was a mess, but awesome at the same time.

I think this letter is going to be a bit on the short side, but know that things here in São Marcos are definitely moving. Elder Marcondes is a monster with this work. He is definitely someone I´m learning a lot of good from in so many forms. Both of us have the equal desire to work and be obedient, and that is such a blessing alone. He knows how to teach with authority, as well as the spirit. He also showed me that there are hundreds of orange trees here in São Marcos. Sometimes they taste like war heads. Other times they have a bitter and horrible taste that I didnt even know they could have. But its so great when we actually find an orange or tangerine thats ready to be eaten. This is literally missionary work in a nutshell. You´ll spend entire days finding people who are extremely bitter with things and people who are definitely
not prepared for the gospel in their lives. But when we find just 1 who´s ready my goodness its the
greatest thing in the world. I really want to help this area, and I have confidence that we, through the
Lord and his spirit, will be able to do incredible things here. Seriously, this companhionship has got me
really motivated. The blessings are real.

Even though I miss you all a lot, I was reminded yesterday that I very well could be at the house
and not serving a mission here in Brazil. It hurt to think about that, and for this I know I´m supposed
to be here. No matter how weak I think I am, the Lord always has a way of lifting us up and helping us
become strong. This gosepl is true. If it isnt, there isnt a true church on this earth. I have such an
incredible opportunity right now to serve our Lord. This is His work.

I love you all so much! You are an incredible family to have. Your support and love mean everything to me.
Elder Stallings