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