Wednesday, February 26, 2014

BRAZIL

New  Address:
Elder Connor Stallings
Missão Brasil Curitiba Sul
Recanto Joseph Smith, 15
Portão
80610-210
Curitiba, PR 
Brasil



Oi Familia!! 

Estou no brasil!!! This is literally the craziest thing in the world. Im lost only about 100% of the time, but things are still great! I´m currently in Sao Jose Das Pinhais, in an area called Sao Marcos.



I have an outstanding companion, Elder Dallastra who is a Brasilado. He speaks a little bit of english, but we´re really only speaking portuguese together. Whatever language they taught me in the MTC wasn´t portuguese, because I have no idea what is happening here haha. I am noticing small improvements with my language though. Anyway, Elder Dallastra is also 20 and very awesome. Obedient and funny, which are both things i need. He told me yesterday that he thinks i´m already better than his last companion, who was a brasilado. I dont know about that, but it´s nice to know that we are looking some what positive here.

I was lucky to be with some other missionaries who were also going to Curitiba, so together we were able to figure out how to navigate the airport. All my bags came through and everything worked out!


 I ran into Sister Parco!! SUPER AWESOME! (Alyssa Parco is from Farmington, MN)
 My mission president, President Fernandes, is incredible. I think. He seems to be very inspired and very friendly as well. The missionaries here love him. I just can´t understand him (or anyone) so I guess I will update you on that later.

Our house is GHETTO. We might as well be in a tent, this thing is crazy old and bad haha. We are going to be moving soon though I think, so things should be okay. I honestly think it´s kind of fun to be living in this thing. Neighborhood is pretty friendly Its all good though! No worries at all.


Brazil is just crazy in general. We take the bus a lot, and that´s an adventure. Dogs are everywhere! All of the sinks only have 1 knob. The houses these people live in are unbelievable. Tiny little things with laundry hanging everywhere. Clapping instead of knocking is also a bit weird.

 I was pretty frustrated with things for a couple days because of the language. Here I am with an awesome companion and a good area, and I can´t do much. But being here is making me trust and listen to the spirit harder than ever before. There was a moment during a lesson where I had the impression to say a certain phrase, but I had no idea how to say it. Right when I recognized that, I heard Elder Dallastra say what I was thinking to the investigator. That was a cool experience, because it let me know that I was listening to the spirit, even if it´s in portuguese. This mission is 100% different than Reno. It´s like everything from this point backwards was practice, and I have a whole new challenge ahead of me. Once I get this language down, I´m hoping I won't be as frustrated. Please continue to keep me in your prayers! This is not easy at all, but I love this so much. I love you all and hope things warm up in MN. The weather is incredibly nice here. 
Love,
Elder Stallings


Monday, February 17, 2014

CELEBRATING...Milestone Birthday and Bon Voyage to Brazil!

This week  Connor celebrated his 20th birthday.  A super nice family emailed me and wanted to know what Connnor's favorite dinner was (spaghetti!!) so they could make it for him since they were having him over that night.   Wasn't that thoughtful?

I'll add more captions to these pictures once I figure out who these people are!! I know they must be members living in Reno.  That is definitely a church gym with a stage in the background. Some things never change no matter where you live!!  

-- Emily

Connor flies to Brazil today, so I'm not sure if we'll get a letter from him.  Thanks for keeping him in your prayers and supporting him in so many ways.

--Doug



Elders Young & Stallings

Happy 20th!!!


Amazing feats of nature with a swirling fan to boot. 


The package from home made it!!

  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

EXCITING NEWS!!

Oi Familia e amigos!

So I guess you could say that something pretty awesome happened this morning. As Elder Young and I were doing companionship study, our phone rang and it was our mission president, President Hermansen. We put him on speaker and asked how everything was going. He asked if I was around, and I said I was. He goes, "Elder Stallings! I hear Brazil is pretty nice around this time of year, and It looks like you're gonna be able to see for yourself because your visa just came in." MY VISA ARRIVED! I will be leaving for Brazil in exactly a week (next monday)! I'm so excited that I'll get to use my portuguese and meet the people of Brazil! This next monday is going to be transfers anyway, so I guess you could say this will be the biggest transfer I'll see on my mission. 

Besides hearing about that this morning, this week was incredible. I received the birthday package and will make sure to send pictures when I open it! Thank you so much for that! The day before it came, we were on exchanges with the YSA elders, and this time I stayed in our area and had to be the leader. This was something that I was pretty nervous about because last time I went on exchanges, it was to another area with one of the zone leaders and I didn't have to do much leadership wise. But this time I was going to have to be in charge of planning, knowing the area, and ultimately leading out on talking with everyone. Over all though, it turned out to be an incredible experience. Really boosted my confidence as well as my appreciation for Elder Young. 

During my stay here in Reno, I've really been trying to get to know the Youth. I have a huge testimony, thanks to missionaries in my home ward, that getting to know the youth and getting them excited about missionary work will only bring blessings. Apparently, the youth hadn't really been out with any missionaries or for that matter known any previous missionaries all that well. So we arranged to just meet an an IHOP one night when we didn't have a dinner appt, and just got to know them. It was just 3 priests, but they're all super awesome and good youth. Amazingly enough, someone sitting at another table paid for everyone's bill, so we were all very happy and grateful for that. We committed them to come out with us, and yesterday they actually did! Again, I had the opportunity to be a leader as I took 2 of them and Elder Young took the other 1 and we went to opposite sides of town to find and teach. We were able to teach some good quick lessons to people on the street, and I even put one of them on the spot by saying he would translate my portuguese for me. The weirdest/funniest thing that happened was we saw a guy just walking down the side walk, and asked if he knew of anyone that could use some help. He ignored us and just kept walking, which happens sometimes. I turned around and starting explaining to the youth that "yeah, that happens sometimes-" and as I was saying that, he threw his open bottle of pop at us! It hit one of the priests, Garrison's shoes and splattered everywhere. We just kind of looked in shock as the guy tried to run away. But as we looked at the pop, we all realized that not a single drop got on us. Seriously, even the shoe that it hit didn't have ANYTHING on it. I was impressed and grateful for the constant protection the Lord gives to his missionaries if they are doing the right thing. Over all, the youth left that day pretty pumped up and excited for missionary work. Having these opportunities to be a leader really shows you how much you are growing, and also how much you don't know. Both of them are essential, and it really helps you as a missionary.

I'm really going to miss being here in Reno, NV. This has become a place of spiritual growth and love for me. This ward is full of incredible people who embraced me immediately, despite my faults and weaknesses. I plan on this being one of the 1st places I visit as I return after 2 years of serving in Brazil. Reno was truly where I needed to be for this first month in the field. I love this mission so much, and I'm so grateful for all of you who sent me letters and packages while I was here. I don't know how Brazil is going to be in that regard, but know that everything that was sent to me was treasured up. I love you all so much and am very grateful to be serving the Lord at this time. His arm is truly being revealed.
Love,
Elder Stallings

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Being guided by the Holy Ghost - Letter from 2/2/14

Oi Familia!

Wow, Elder Young and I just ran like 6 miles to get to the church. We were getting our haircut at a salon that a lady in our ward works at and gives us free haircuts. Since we don't have a car, we just decided to run to the church from there and that was a crazy run. Feels good though!

Can't believe another week has already gone by! This week was a little bit different. For some reason, we had something planned every day this week in the morning that would throw our morning routine of studying off, but we were still quite productive. We got 44 lessons this week, and even though it's less than last week, we feel good about that. A couple of those lessons from last week have turned into investigators, so we're seeing some of our work pay off. 

The weather has definitely gotten colder. Not Minnesota cold, but it's to the point where there aren't too many people on the streets at night anymore. That's pretty dissapointing because we look forward to those moments to find people on the streets to talk to. 

But this week was a huge testimony and reminder that the Lord always has a plan. After a 2 appointments in a row fell through one night, we had a prompting to talk to a recent convert, Theresa, who apparently had a couple referrals for us. We stopped by, and had a nice talk with her and got the referrals. Nothing too special, but we also had to opportunity to see her son. He's in his 20's, and was very nice and polite. We went home and didn't think too much about it, thinking we had kind of wasted our night. 

Last night, as Elder Young and I were walking to our dinner appointment, we were walking across a huge parking lot where we saw a small group of people. Naturally, we headed their direction to try to talk with them. As we got closer, I saw one of the guys and recognized his face. I couldn't pin point who it was, but as we got closer, I saw his lips were purple, his facial expressions and mannerisms were off, and something was definitely wrong. We started talking to the group of people, who were also apparently trying to figure out what was wrong with this guy. He had been standing in the parking lot for the past 2 hours and they were trying to figure out what to do. They were all drunk, so it wasn't a huge help to have all of them around. Then I realized the guy was Theresa's son, and they were saying he was on some sort of drug, probably meth. 

Elder Young and I knew we had to do something, but really weren't sure at all what to do. The drunk group of people were blabbering about something, and the whole time I was thinking about what to do. I remember telling Elder Young we should maybe call someone, but I didn't know who because we didn't have Theresa's number. Next thing I know, Elder Young is on the phone with someone. He got off and said the sister missionaries were coming. I was kind of confused, but I figured something would work out. The sisters arrived, who called Theresa, and were able to comfort him. 

Somehow, everything got fixed and he was able to go home. As Elder Young and I were walking away, I asked him what made him decide to call the sisters. He said that he thought I told him to, but I didn't think I did. I thought about it a little more and a talk by Elder Bednar came into my mind, about being guided by the spirit. He was saying that if you're worried about being guided by the spirit, don't be. If you're doing the right thing, the spirit will ensure that you or others are taken care of. He shared an experience similar to the one I had. 

Whether I said that or whether elder young just called the sisters, I was comforted to know that the spirit was able to play a role in this. I was trying to have an experience all week that would tell me that I could be guided by the spirit, and this was the one. I know that having the holy ghost with you on a mission is key. I'm so grateful for our Father in heaven, who looks out for us. I am seeing small miracles every day, and I am so grateful to be out here serving the Lord. Thank you for all of your love and support!! I love you all!
-Elder Stallings