Monday, January 27, 2014

Muito Boa Semana! (Very Good Week)

Oi Familia!

Before I go into the actual letter, I need to thank Grandma for sending me the wonderful box of cookies as well as the letters. Thank you so much! They were gone in a matter of hours. I also received the care package from home, so thank you mom and dad. It was actually pretty funny. Elder Young and I were walking down the street a couple blocks from our apartment, and we saw the UPS guy. Actually, he saw us and shouted to us and asked if were lived in apartment 11. He said he had a package for us that wasn't addressed to 11, but since it said Elder on it, he figured it was for us. So he said he would get it from the office or where ever they kept it and give it to us the next day. Pretty awesome UPS driver!

Well this week was very good! We surpassed our record of 50 lessons from last week and got 61! Remember, a lesson is a principle or doctrine, a commitment, and prayer. We had plenty that we didn't count as lessons because we didn't feel like they were listening at all or we forgot to get one of those things in there. Elder Young is getting pretty accurate on his translations now, which is very helpful and cool to watch. You could tell when the spirit would work because sometimes I would say something that I normally wouldn't say, and then some how he would also translate it into English. Very cool to see that happen. Right now we are very focused on finding and seed planting. All we can do right now since we don't have a pluthera of prospering investigators is to be as productive as we can in planting seeds. The Lord is helping is out so much with this! It's such a great work to be doing, especially with a hard working companion such as Elder Young.

The Lord continues to bless! We found 3 more portuguese speaking people this week, and one even invited us to come back to their house to "practice portuguese". She says she won't be converted though. Challenge accepted.
Although the portuguese speakers are limited, there are tons of spanish speakers. I communicate with them as much as I can, and a lot of them are more willing to listen about Jesus Christ than a lot of Americans. It's funny because I'll often go up to someone and ask, in Portuguese if they can understand Portuguese, to which they respond [in spanish] "no I only speak spanish." but then I say [in portuguese] "But you just understood that!" and then they laugh and then I say "And you also understood that! Que isso?!" That opens them up and that's been a good way to talk with them. Elder Young trys as hard as he can to speak Spanish and contribute, and he's always dead on with what he says, as simple as it is.

Well I'll send some pictures right after this from my camera. There are some really good ones that I think you'll enjoy! Things have been so great and fun here. Desfruto sentiendo o espirito sempre dia! Thank you for your prayers and for all of the great letters. I love you all so much!
-com amor,
Elder Stallings

Yum, Cereal.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Speaking Portuguese is Paying Off

Oi Familia! 
So today is 2 months of being on a mission. Woah. It's so weird how time is going by. 2 months doesn't seem like that much, but it really is insane how fast this is already going. This week went by extra fast! 

We taught 50 lessons this week. It's kind of a new record for us. A lot of it came from street contacting, and it's so awesome. I thought of this really cool way to get us more lessons and practice portuguese. So basically when we see someone, Elder Young starts talking with them, and then I compliment them on something in Portuguese. They usually look at me funny, and that's when Elder Young explains that I'm speaking Portuguese because I'm going to Brazil soon. Then he asks if it would be okay if I could 'practice' sharing my testimony with them and he'll translate. The funny part is is that he can't understand what I'm saying either, so most of the time he trys his best to figure out what I'm saying and if he can't, he makes up his own sentence of doctrine to tell the person. It get's really funny sometimes how differen't of sentences he says haha. I almost burst out laughing sometimes when I say a long sentence in Portuguese like "I know that Jesus Christ will bless you in your life and that he is our savior" to which he would just stare at me and then says something like "My companion says that going to church will help you". But the technique is so great, because the people are very interested in hearing the portuguese and then at the same time, we get good doctrine in to invite the spirit. We actually ran into a man yesterday, Raul who spoke a little bit of portuguese. I shared my testimony as well as other thoughts I had about the church with him. He was almost like a completely different person from the time that I first started talking with him to end of conversation. His demeanor had changed and you could tell he was very uplifted. He said my Portuguese was great and that he loved the way I spoke of Jesus Christ. So this technique is proving to be very successful. 

Man, this ward is so great. There's a returned missionary who just got back from Londrina, Brazil who was visiting for the weekend from BYU Provo. His name is Mitch Childs, and he came out tracting/teaching with us. He is still on fire and such a help, not only in the missionary work but in helping with Portuguese. He said that during the time I have language study that I should call him, and he'll help me with Portuguese. I'm so happy with that, and I know I'll be able to learn a lot with him. 

We taught a lesson yesterday to a young lady named Janna. She had been to seminary as a kid because she had an LDS friends. We ran into her on the street and she agreed to talk with us later, but that she knew about the church and wasn't sure. We ended up having a very spiritual experience with her, and we were able to clear up all of her little doubts and misconceptions about the church. After we did that, she was all ears and we were able to set a baptismal date [goal] with her. She was someone who I really wasn't sure if teaching was going to work or not, but the spirit was able to do it's thing and we were able to have a successful 1st visit. Very excited to continue teaching her.

I was asked to give a talk on sunday (yesterday) last minute on Helaman 5:12. I saw it as an opportunity for the ward to get to know me, and it turned out okay. A lot of people said I did a great job and that they were happy to have me here. Some one even asked what scriptures I used because she wanted to write them down for later. (D&C 19:23-24 are what I used) That kind of blew my mind that someone would take notes from my talk. This time I have in Reno is very uplifting and full of spiritual growth.

Sorry I haven't been able to get too many pictures this week. Just been very busy. I'll try to get some this week to send back. Reno is so cool. I'm very happy to be serving the Lord. Thank you for your prayers! It's clear that the Lord is helping so much with his work. I love you all! Ate Mais!
Elder Stallings

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

First week in Reno

Oi Familia!

Wow! I'm in the field and this is insane!

Elder Stallings

Just kidding. 

Reno is so great! I say that because I'm living & serving in downtown Reno! Such a cool place. I don't even know where to start haha. I guess I'll start with my trainer/companion, Elder Young. Such an awesome trainer. The Lord keeps blessing me with these rock solid companions that I really need, and Elder Young is no exception. He's from Pennsylvania, and he's 22. He is helping me grow and learn every day, and I'm so grateful for him. We get along great, and are both very open with each other. He told me he has had some very tough companions in the past month that have slowed the work down a lot. He immediately expressed gratitude that he had me as a companion and thinks we will do a lot of good work together. His comments are a huge help to me, especially in this first week where doubts and stress are all over the place. But we work very well together. I get at least half an hour every day for language study, and some days a full hour. Elder Young really encourages me to speak portuguese, and even made a rule that any prayer I said in the apartment had to be in Portuguese. 

We had a baptism on Saturday for an extremely awesome man, Walter Smith. Wow. He is one of the funniest/most interesting men that I've talked to. 64 year old southern vietnam vet who makes me laugh at just about everything he says. I had the opportunity of baptizing him. Twice. (his foot came up once. Fun stuff) But it was such a great service. Elder Young commented that it was one of the best baptismal services he's seen on his mission. I'm sure you will be hearing more about Walter Smith in the future. (Pictures are included)

Just a quick experience from yesterday. Elder Young and I don't have a car, so we spend a lot of our time walking downtown and in neighborhoods downtown. (so awesome) LOTS of people to talk with. We weren't having incredible success with that this past week, so yesterday we prayed specifically to find prepared people who were willing to hear about the gospel. Immediately, we talked with 5 people, all of whom accepted the book of mormon and were going to pray about it. One of these individuals, Josh, shared how he didn't think it was coinsidence that we stopped to talk with him. He even asked if there was anything he could do to help us and the work, and we just told him to read the book of mormon and call us. It was so cool to see the Lord help us when we needed it. My testimony is growing every day, and I can truly see the Lords hands in this work.

Ah there's so much more I want to share with you! The ward is incredible. The city is so awesome. My companion is muito ochimo. The weather is great. I'm so happy to be here, and I'm so grateful for all of your letters and prayers. There's some moments where I know your prayers are coming into effect, and I thank you so much for that. I love you all so much!
For real this time
Elder Stallings

In RENO, NV temporarily...310 Pine Street, Apt #11, Reno, NV 81501


Last Week in MTC - some fun vids

A favorite MTC teacher

Sunday, January 5, 2014

This one came right before the hand written letter, sorry out of order.

Oi Familia!
Christmas was great! We got to hear from Elder Bednar, and that was so awesome. He passed out 200 cell phones to the audience and gave us a number to text questions to him. So it was a giant Q&A and it was very uplifting.
Okay so thursday I wasn't feeling 100% physically. I was getting the chills and had a headache. There is some kind of virus going around and I of course got it. As I type this, I am drugged up on  a couple different kinds of drugs, and I feel extrememly loopy. My brain really isn't processing that much, so if this letter seems a bit off thats whats going on. I'm going to be taking it extremely easy for the next couple days. I hate feeling sick! I can't focus on anything and it just doesnt feel good. Please keep me in your prayers.
Last sunday I was called up to give a talk (in portuguese) and I was told it was good. I spoke about the gift of the holy ghost. An elder and a sister in my district who are both fluent in spanish said my portuguese was really good, seeing as I had no back round in Spanish or any other types of languages. That made me feel good, and I knew the Lord was helping me with the whole thing.
There has been a lot of confusion lately about when we are supposed to leave/get our reassignments. Since we came a week early, we weren't sure if our schedules had accounted for that or not. It says we are supposed to leave Jan 6, but then some rumors started spreading about us actually leaving Dec 31, since we came a week early. We were all very excited to get out of the MTC and into the field, but we just learned that we will be staying until Jan 6. I guess I could always use some more MTC training time, but I am very excited to be out in the field. Still praying that my visa will come in. I don't want to lose the little portuguese I have learned. At this point, I am so out of it that I don't really care when I get my reassignment/leave the mtc. Haha all of the elders in my district are complaining about staying, but I'm more focused on living at the moment.
Well that's it for now! I'll be on my email a little bit later because I have more time. I love you all! Thank you for your many prayers. I know I can't do this without the Lord and his help.
Elder Stallings
I haven't recieved any of your dear elders yet. The system might be a bit behind because of christmas. I get a confirmation in my email that you send them, but i usually wait to read them until I actually get them. I will reply when I get them though!
Evan sent me a letter about christmas, sounds like it was good for all of you! His letter made me a bit home sick, and I read about all of the fun things you all were able to do. Definitely didn't feel like christmas at all. Just a 'special' day in the MTC. Sorry I'm really out of it right now, and can't think. I'll be on my email later so maybe if I'm actually thinking i'll be able to send you a decent letter. Thanks for your love, dad. 
Elder Stallings

Pictures Connor sent from Christmas!

Elder Schuman got his visa!! Heading to Curitiba next week.

Sometimes, you just want to have them come home and stay warm under the covers while you give them warm broth and check their temperature.  This was a hard letter to get.