Monday, September 28, 2015

September 28, 2015


Did you see the eclipse last night?  We had a lesson outside so that we could see it.

Thanks for taking care of my facebook account while I am gone.  I hope that we will be getting facebook and ipads soon.  It would be perfect if it happened in a few months.  At that point I would have less than six months left and I understand at that point there is less pressure to buy the ipad and I'll be able to just borrow it.  I won't have much use for a tablet after the mission.

2nd J is gone.  It seems that he was never actually that sincere.  Apparently his plan was to fool everyone into thinking that he had quit smoking and get baptized.  When it came time to bear his testimony afterward he would instead propose to one of the sister missionaries.  If she said yes then he would quit smoking and live the commandments.  His plan failed when he got high and told his plan to his member friend and she kicked him out.  The sisters were so shocked when we told them what was going on. We're really disappointed but we could sort of see it coming.

Addictions are the worst.  J and K are doing great right now though. They have gone about a week so they should be through the worst of it.  It is always scary though.  I've seen people go years without smoking and then pick it back up again.  Things would be so much easier without word of wisdom problems.  One lady we're teaching heard that we don't drink coffee and flipped the crud out.  She nearly fainted.  It was funny but still, these sort of things take control so that even an earnest desire to obey God is forgotten and takes a backseat to the addiction.  The effects of the addiction can be lifelong too. 

Yep..four baptisms.  That is our goal for this next transfer.  We want J and K and Ms. M to be baptized and one other person, we don't know who yet.  It will take a miracle but that is a number that we can strive for and will push us to be our best.  I just hope I'll be here to see it.  We have transfers this week.  I think I'll most likely stay put, I still haven't been here that long, but I have a lingering suspicion that I'll get moved.

Prayer really is amazing.  It is one of those most basic things but it has the greatest impact.  We are supposed to do more than just pray in the morning and evening and at meals though.  "Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you." (Alma 34:27)  We are always to be praying, always in communion with God.  As I read about the life of Christ it seems that he had a heart drawn out in prayer continually.  He always inquired as to the Father's will and was constantly receiving guidance through the Spirit in response.  During the Atonement there seem to have been a couple times that the Father's presence was withdrawn and Jesus immediately noticed a difference.  On the cross he cried "My God my God, why hast thou forsaken me?". If we are in the habit of always asking what God's will is and earnestly obeying any direction we receive we will draw so much closer to God and have a better understanding of him.  As soon as we stop our prayers to him and get out of that habit then we leave ourselves open the influence of the Devil.  We wander off and are lost in the mists of darkness.  
Thanks for teaching me so much and always supporting me. I love you.
Elder Stapley

Monday, September 21, 2015

September 21, 2015

 Stake Conference
There aren't going to be any baptisms this week. Dang it!  J and K are still struggle with smoking.  We have tried everything that we have seen work in the past.  They seemed to think that it would be easy since they had quit before and I worry that they didn't properly "fear evil".  Proverbs 14:16 says "A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident." We need to work on that godly fear. Heavenly Father is clearly showing that He is aware of them and wants to help them though.  Saturday morning we were able to go and visit them with our stake president and the visiting GA, Elder Stacey.  We just sort of sat back and watched.  These men spoke with such power.  They gave J and K a blessing to help them quit smoking and talked about temple and family history work.  They instructed us to follow up and teach the doctrines of redeeming the dead more in depth.  We came up with a revised plan to help them quit smoking and we set them to be baptized on the 10th.  Working with J and K has been one of the coolest experiences of my life.  The hand of God has been so apparent throughout our meetings with them so far.  I can't wait until they can be clean through baptism and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Our other J isn't getting baptized right away either.  He started canceling appointments and hasn't made any progress toward quitting smoking.  I guess he had a friend that moved in with him who is a bad influence.  J's member friend said that he seems to be moving backward.  We were a little bit glad to hear that it is his friend that is causing a regression though; we were worried that it was the switch from the sisters teaching him to us.  Hopefully we can catch him before things get too out of hand and we lose him.  He has a desire to change his life but doesn't seem to understand what it will take.

We had stake conference this week.  It was so good.  Elder Stacey was the visiting GA.  He was just barely called as a Seventy last conference. He did a great job.  He kept surprising people by calling them up to give a testimony.  One lady told how a ward council had blessed her family and afterwards he got up and called upon each member of that ward council to get up and share their experience of how they had helped her.  At one point the topic ended up on missionary work and I got very worried; we were sitting up front and he knew our names. Didn't get called on though, thank goodness.

We are still working on memorizing scriptures.  It has been amazing how much of a difference it has made in our teaching.  I always knew what the scriptures said and could teach the doctrines in them but actually being able to recite them and find the references has given us more power as we teach.

One thing I wish that everyone could understand is what our attitude should be toward sin.  Sure we might have a desire to be better and to overcome it but do we take sin personally.  We should actually fear and hate the sins that we struggle with.  In the struggle for our soul we shouldn't just be calm and patient towards sin in our lives.  When we fall short in dealing with a sin that we are struggling with it should be personally devastating.  Sure we can still be forgiven but every time we sin we lose blessings that could have been ours and have to bear a weight that we could have avoided.  Each sin doesn't just hurt us but also the people we could be helping.  When we are personally invested in conquering sin then we will overcome it so much easier.  It is part of aligning our will with God's.  To Him it is no small thing when we are disobedient.
Big news: Ms. M called this week and said that she wanted to be baptized on Saturday.  We had to tell her that it wouldn't work because of stake conference.  Also, she hasn't been to church in a while and we aren't sure she understands the significance of baptism.  But I'm dang excited that she felt ready.  She has been really busy and out of town almost every week but things should start slowing down now. Yay!
I love you,
Elder Stapley

Monday, September 14, 2015

September 14, 2015

Hey Parents,

According to the direction of our mission president my companion and I set a goal for three baptisms this month.  Obviously J and K were an important part of that goal but we wanted to set something that would require faith and, quite frankly, a miracle.  We only had a week to get someone to church and then keep them progressing to be baptized on the 26th.  We prayed and fasted for J and K and that we could help someone else to the waters of baptism as well.  Just yesterday we got a new investigator from the Sisters.  They had set him for baptism and he just needs to quit smoking.  It will still take a lot of work to make sure that all three of our people are ready but we might actually make our goal.  All of them seem really prepared. Holy miracle!  We got a new investigator! (Five stars! Two enthusiastic thumbs up! :D)

J and K are doing great.  They met with a member of the mission presidency as sort of a preliminary baptismal interview and are so stoked for baptism.  Not smoking is still a struggle of course but I expect they are over the worst of it.

We found a number of new people and got in contact with some we thought we had lost.  This week should be pretty busy.

We have been playing a lot of cheelo on pday the past couple of weeks.  It is like volleyball, crossed with soccer.  You can only use your legs and your head to get the ball over the net.  I guess it is popular in southern Asia.  We always play with the Karen.  You should youtube it.  The way they can kick is amazing.  One time our team of white boys actually beat some little kids! We boasted shamelessly.

As we have been teaching recently, the member involvement has been inspiring.  However, some of the biggest impacts have been from people you wouldn't expect.  There is an older couple in the ward that I have heard a few members complain about.  He always gets up and gives a long winded, awkward testimony and it annoys some people.  However J and K told us how big of an impact he made on them.  He is so loving and sets a great example by caring for his wife and is very welcoming to everybody.  We always need to remember that God gave us all different gifts.  He gave us these gifts and weaknesses so that we would have to rely on each other.  All spiritual gifts are given for the benefit of other people.  It is as we use these gifts in unity that we create Zion.  The believers are referred to as the body of Christ in the Bible.  Each part of a body has different functions and only by working together is anything accomplished.  Christ is our head and as we are obedient to Him and work with our brothers and sisters in unity, without envy or impatience, we can do amazing things in this life and ensure our exaltation in the life to come.  We will have the power to let go of those bad thoughts and emotions if we but ask God.  Please don't let those negative emotions stay in your mind.  To quote Elder Holland: "Throw the rascals out!"  The Spirit will be present and we can be better in line with God's will.
I love you,
Elder Stapley

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

September 8, 2015

Dear Fam,
Sorry for not writing yesterday. All the libraries were closed.

We got permission this week to watch the football game since we worked hard on memorizing scriptures.  We watched it at the V's house.  They are one of my favorite families.  The grandparents are Husker fans and Bro. and Sis. V and their kids are BYU fans.  It was funny watching Sis. V stressing and trying to stop her father-in-law from swearing in front of the missionaries.  It was so much fun.  Church was pretty interesting that next day.  A number of the ward leadership had rather hoarse voices.

We taught the youth Sunday school class this week.  Holy Cow!  I'm curious whether my Sunday school class was that hard to teach.  They would not focus.  The youth certainly had fun but we didn't get through much of the lesson.  I threatened to rebuke them with raised voice if they didn't straighten up but they sure weren't impressed.  "I've never heard a missionary yell... except for yesterday." That was the V girl, who knew dang well that I could yell.

We are making a big push for baptisms in the month of September.  We were going to have a meeting to discuss how to accomplish that this last week.  Right before the meeting J and K called.  They said that J had received his answer; that the church and Book of Mormon were true and that he needed to get baptized.  He then asked if we could do it on the 26th, the last week in September.  Amazing!  I'm not sure they are going to be smoke free for long enough before the interview but we're going to ask.  It would be so cool if they made that date!  Also our Stake President met them while he was visiting our ward and he wants to visit them with a GA before Stake Conference.  They are nervous about a Stake Pres. visiting and have asked for help rearranging furniture before then.  We haven't even told them about the GA.  I think we'll let it be a surprise.

I loved that talk from Elder Bednar (Therefore They Hushed Their Fears. April General Conference) that Mom mentioned.  We used that scripture in Mosiah ("But Alma went forth and stood among them, and exhorted them that they should not be frightened, but … should remember the Lord their God and he would deliver them.
Therefore they hushed their fears” (
Mosiah 23:27–28) a lot in messages.  It is something that seems to resonate with most people but especially here in north Omaha.  I often pair it with the Christlike attribute of Hope (See pg. 117 in PMG).  I like the fourth verse of Ether 12: "Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God."  It doesn't matter what happens around us or what tragedies happen to us; we can look to the future with optimism.  As we read the Bible we often see prophesies of death and destruction but always afterward is the promise of healing and gathering.  If we are true followers of Christ then we know exactly where we are and where we will end up and the things in between don't seem quite as important.  I know that bad things will happen in my life but I also know that I will be happy.  I know that eventually I will be saved in heaven and no random event or person can do anything to change that.

This next paragraph is not a testimony but is a comment on something I have noticed.  Interestingly, I don't think I have ever been afraid on my mission.  My companion might get afraid of getting attacked by that nasty looking pit bull or getting shanked by a crazy drunk dude but I've never been afraid or saw reason to be afraid.  I'm not sure if it is a gift from God or if I'm just clueless.

Love you,

Elder Stapley