Monday, November 30, 2015

November 30, 2015

Dear Family,
We spent less time working in our area this week than at any other time in my mission.  We had the training meeting on Tuesday, although it was a surprise to us.  They had forgotten to tell us about it till we called Monday night to ask if we were supposed to go.  We also had Thanksgiving which was great but disrupted any teaching and then we had a Temple trip on Saturday.  Can't complain about any of it but it was sort of a slow week as far as the work was concerned.  We mostly spent Thanksgiving with the members.  We ate a lot.

Missionaries that are a certain distance away from the temple can't usually go unless we have a recent convert who is going for the first time, then we can go and help with baptisms.  We got to ride down with Jack and visit the Trail Center to see the gingerbread houses and we also got to meet the Elders who baptized him for lunch.  One of them had replaced me in Omaha so I got to talk to him and Elder Nockai about my old area.  
Analis had a great experience at the temple.  She mentioned how great she felt there.  Both she and Jack are very excited for their year marks so they can go through the rest of the temple.

You should definitely send J and K a card.  I would love that.  So would they, I'm sure.
As far as a Christmas present I just want a new suit.  Those are fairly expensive and that's really all I want.
It is snowing a fair amount right now but I'm not sure how much to expect in total.  We might end up with as much as that last storm but I bet we get less.
I'm glad you were able to see family for Thanksgiving.  I can't believe how old my cousins are!  Kiersten's a sophomore and David's a senior?!  Can't wait to hang with David at BYU.
I got your package.  Thanks.  It was great to get Korean stuff.  I introduced my companion to gochujang and he loves it.

Elder Martino was able to show us the Christmas video early.  I need to watch it a few more times though.  The missionaries there should start getting the new cards soon.  Those cards are so easy to use.

Thanks for the advice to rejoice in the little things.  That is exactly what our Mission President said in his email.  He quoted the Angel when he speaks to Alma after he leaves Ammonihah the first time.  Alma 8:15 says "Blessed art thou, Alma; therefore, lift up thy head and rejoice, for thou hast great cause to rejoice;" Happiness doesn't come from success or things but from obedience.  When we are obedient then we don't have to rely on anyone else to be happy.  Problems come but we will be comforted.
I love you all,
Elder Stapley


November 23, 2015

Dear Parents,
We got snow!  We were expecting about 4 inches but got closer to a foot.  We spent a lot of time at our apartment that day.  The cars were all grounded in our zone and we were not at all prepared for that much snow.  I did get a better pair of winter boots.  They are comfy.  We have another storm expected this week but it shouldn't be as bad.

Our truck is just a little Chevy Colorado.  I'll try to remember to get a pic with it.  We did get to use the four wheel drive this week.  I rather like snow driving.

We contacted a couple on the street a little while ago.  They gave us an address and said to try them in the evenings.  We found the house and it was the creepiest place I have ever approached.  The yard was full of leafless trees and the house itself was almost entirely unlit except for a faint orange light.  A bizarre cat would follow us at a distance up the walk and just watch us.  We knocked it a number of times but no one answered.  I knocked once and a split second later the door slowly opened of its own accord and we quickly hustled back to our car.  A couple days ago we tried back and got an answer.  This elderly lady with a manic look in her eye shuffled up.  In a creaky old voice: "Why are you here?"
"We're missionaries for our church-"
"Why are you here?"
"We're looking for Gary."
"Nope, why are you here?"
"Can we share a message wi-"
She literally scratched at the door with crazy long nails and told us "Go away!"
I hope she didn't put some sort of curse on us.

We had that Mission tour this week.  Elder and Sister Martino came and spoke to us.  They focused a lot on how to help the members to move the work forward.  What missionaries really want from members isn't food, we want help finding people to teach and involvement in teaching those we have already found.  It is amazing how a truly converted member seems to find themselves involved in every aspect of the work.  Always remember that our greatest duty is to preach the Gospel.  The easiest way to do that is to go to the missionaries and ask if there is a need.  Besides team-ups and fellow shipping be on the lookout for missionary opportunities.  When they come up say a silent prayer for help and then try to invite the Spirit and them to act.  If we are prepared our mouths will be filled and we can know what to say.
Love you,
Elder Stapley

Monday, November 16, 2015

November 16, 2015

 A couple of pictures from exchanges in Sioux City.  The Elders live in what used to be an old school but now is an apartment building called The Castle.  The bat  died while crawling on the wall.  It had been in that position for a few days.   
 The picture with Abraham Lincoln was also taken on the exchange.
 Elder Poole and me in the library.
Transfers!  Elder Hunt left but will still be in the zone!  My new companion is Elder Poole from Orem, Utah.  He is a really great guy and we get along really well.  He seems like a great missionary.  I am a bit apprehensive about how this transfer is going to go though.  Not my companions fault but everything has gone wrong since I got him.  On our way home to Yankton the first day of the transfer our tire blew up on the highway.  We had never changed a tire on a truck before but someone stopped to help us out and we were able to get back to Yankton. We got a new tire and all was good.  The next morning we discovered our brake light was out and we had to go back to the car place. "Hey again. Saw you yesterday." Oh well.  This morning we woke up to no hot water for some reason, our debit card isn't working and the phone won't make calls. "President, my companion is great but everything he touches curls up and dies."  But really, Elder Poole is way funny and super nice so this will be an awesome transfer.

He actually has an interesting story.  He is new to this mission.  He had served previously in the Mississippi, Jackson Mission.  He had to go home, for no fault of his own, and got reassigned here.  President is sort of treating him as a trainee so we will be attending the training meetings this transfer.  It was super cool how similar an experience we had in trying to finish out our missions.

We are going to have a visit from Elder Martino of the 2nd Quorum of the Seventy. It should be cool.

I am sorry.  I have gotten really bad at writing for some reason. I need to prepare ahead of time what to write.

At least I am getting you pictures, right?
I love you,
Elder Stapley

Monday, November 9, 2015

November 9, 2015

Dear Fam,
The weather is actually pretty good so far.  It is warmer than I would expect for Kansas at this part of the year.  I haven't even started wearing coats or thermals yet.  I am not excited for it to get cold.  I guess its not unusual for us to have extended periods of -20 temperatures.  This is an area where we don't have sisters to refer women to and I don't know how we are going to meet with them when it gets too cold outside.
My comp has Leavitt ancestors as well.  He noticed my Waite calendar and got excited when he saw the statue of Sarah Leavitt.  I also learned that our branch president went to Minico High School.  He is older than Mom and didn't know the name Waite though.

Emily has such a great attitude toward missionary work.  She wrote in her letter to me about planting seeds.  Even when we don't immediately see the results of our work we can be preparing people to receive the gospel later in life.   Quite a few of the people I have taught and worked with have been able to cite earlier experiences they had with the church or with missionaries.  I have felt very grateful toward those people who planted so that I could be a part of the reaping.  I read about Joseph Fielding Smith's mission; he didn't have any baptisms.  He was in England over a hundred years ago but never baptized anyone there.  He just planted seeds.

Miracle: A was very stressed the week of her baptism.  She was in an assisted living center that quite frankly shouldn't even be open.  The environment and people there are just terrible.  We all were praying that she could get into a better facility but it didn't look like it would happen anytime soon.  However the week after her baptism she was approved for the better facility and was able to move in immediately!  It is so much better.  They will even give her a ride to church!

I love you,
Elder Stapley

Monday, November 2, 2015

November 2, 2015

Hello Parents,
We had a baptism this week!  A's baptism was great.  Our branch building is so small that the font is hidden under the floor in the primary room. We just pull the cover off and fill it up.  We had a pretty simple program and then one of the brothers in the branch performed the baptism.  The next day we confirmed her and also gave J the Melchizedek priesthood.  Such a cool weekend!

Do you know the maiden name of the rm that served in Busan?  I bet I've heard of her.  Are they living in the stake then?

What Elder Stevenson was talking about, with the leaf answers, is one of those really hard to learn skills.  In most teaching situations we can easily answer most questions but often the answers we give don't really help the people to understand.  Our goal is to invite the Spirit and we do that by teaching true doctrine.  If we can help them understand the underlying doctrine then the Spirit will help them know how to put that into practice.

I'm sorry for the short email again.  One of these weeks I'll some organized and write a really good one.
Love you all,
Elder Stapley