Wheew. It's weird to think how close I am to leaving! I got my travel plans with my flight schedule last night. We leave Monday morning Sept 10 at 9:45am from the SLC airport. We have a little layover in LA, and then we don't land in Santiago until 7am the next day...haha. Then one last flight to Conce, where we're schedule to arrive at 9:35am. I'm so excited to finally get down there and start the real work! I've loved being at the MTC, but I think I've learned all I can learn here and it's time to move on--meaning I'll get to Chile and realize I can't actually understand or speak Spanish and have no idea how to find or teach...haha but "asi es la vida!" We're allowed to call home while we're waiting at the airport, and I'd like to. It would probably be easiest to do that during my three hour layover in LA (10:46am-1:25pm). Let me know (via Dear Elder) when would work best for you, Mum and family!
Thanks again all of you who have written Elder Gordon. It has been so great! A few random thoughts that I'm going to compile into one paragraph: I think the MTC does a great job preparing us to serve missions in foreign countries--I didn't think it were possible for me to get so tired of hamburgers... So I'll be ok in Chile for a while without my American food! Secondly, I'm curious of the whereabouts of a few of my letters. Alissa/Twinner, I replied to your Dear Elder about two weeks ago, but I'm not sure if it didn't reach you or if you've just been super busy with school (which would be understandable). Just let me know so I don't feel guilty making you think I never wrote you back! Also, Mum, did you pass along my letter to Kassi a few weeks ago? I don't have her address. That's so exciting she got called to Italy!!! On Tuesday I was talking with my companions about how we all want to learn Italian after our missions--we were cleaning one of the Italian classrooms and I could actually already understand most of what we read! So that would be super awesome!
Quick funny story of the week: we bumped into my companion's girlfriend at the temple on Sunday. Soooooo crazy! I don't have time to explain the details, but it was quite the adventure. And of course he's been ridiculously trunky all week ever since....ha.
Ok, I have so many uplifting thoughts I'd like to share, but I feel impressed to share just one in particular so I can expound upon it for a bit. Yesterday all of us in my district were feeling pretty discouraged with ourselves and feeling like our Spanish and teaching skills were getting worse and we didn't want to be here anymore and we missed our friends and families. Big time. Our incredible teacher, Brother Derek Adams, threw out his lesson plan and instead took the time to listen and respond. We read in 2 Nephi 4, Nephi's lament. Despite Nephi being an absolute stud--let alone now the prophet--he expressed how he thought he was such a wretched and worthless man. What???
Here's the thing: We often get so caught up in humbling ourselves and trying so hard to recognize our faults so we can repent and be better, that we forget we are a child of God. That phrase is overused and looses meaning nowadays, but think about it. You belong to God. He created you. The scriptures say countless times that only good can come from God (Moroni 7:16). You're not as bad as you think. The closer we get to Christ, the more Satan wants to bring us back. The easiest way for him to do so is to drag us down by our own thoughts of inadequecy. Those thoughts come from Satan. He whispers them to you and make you think you are no good, that you can't do it, that you'll never succeed, you've sinned too much, etc. You can choose to listen to those thoughts from the devil, or you can put your trust in God and His love for us (2 Ne 4:34).
Only good can come from God, and only bad can come from the Satan. We forget that those are the only options--we are either being like Satan or being like our Heavenly Father. Being like "man" isn't a third option. I want you to understand that it's ok to recognize that you aren't doing as well as you should be. But here's the kicker: "I need to do better" and "I suck" are two completely different thoughts that we often confuse to be the same. The first motivates you to improve and is thus of God; the latter is detramental and is of the devil. If you pay attention closely, the "I'm a horrible person" thoughts usually follow after the "I'm not very good at this, I should be doing better" thoughts. Satan's easiest tactic is to drag you down by confusing those two thoughts together. President Spencer W. Kimball said that these thoughts must be cast out the same as you would with a sexually impure thought. They will mentally, emotionally, and spiritually destroy you.
Be of good cheer. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have offered their help and protection against Satan and his attacks. They want you to be happy. They want you to succeed. They are so pleased with you, even if you think they shouldn't have any reason to be. You already made the right choice to follow Christ when you chose to come to this earth and receive a mortal body. You are doing great! We all make mistakes, and Heavenly Father wants you to recognize those mistakes AND THEN try to be better, and He has promised that He will help you. Christ has promised that He will never abandon us. Even when we abandon Him.
Christ loves you. Have a wonderful week :)
Elder Long :)