Buenos dias a todos!
Where do I even start? This week has probably been the most trying so far. But I've been working harder than ever to concentrate on "counting my blessings" rather than think about the negative, and it's been an amazing uplifter during struggling times. I absolutely urge you to count your blessings often. And I don't just mean tell yourself, "Gee, I sure am blessed. I can feel better now." I mean actually take the time to sit there and name your blessings by whispering to yourself every blessing you can think of. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes patience. But do it. And you WILL be happier.
To start off with some funnies, I'll teach you some fun spanish. As of right now, one of my favorite words is the word for "toe" in spanish. "El dedo de pie" literally translates to "foot finger" haha. Kind of gross actually. One fun and very common mistake that missionaries make is that of testifying that Jesus Christ suffered for our fish (pecados = sins, pescados = fish). Another pretty funny story my teacher told us is that one of his missionaries a few weeks ago told him, "Cuando Jesucristo estaba en la tierra, hizo muchos miercoles" (milagros = miracles, miercoles = Wednesday). So far I've yet to make those mistakes, however I did accidentaly testify that God occassionally tortures and kills people.... Oops hahaha. My old companion Elder Welker once confused the bajinkies out of our investigator by teaching him that the Law of Chastity means we can't have sex outside of the wedding.... "Boda" does not mean "marriage"... haha. We have fun laughing at the hilarious little mistakes that inevitably come while learning a new language.
Speaking of laughing, Long family you will be amused to know that my laughing attacks have returned. It's been pretty bad. I've been asked to leave class once haha. We've had several times where we couldn't say the opening/closing prayers because everyone was laughing too hard. Laughter is deathly contagious. I think part of why I have such ridiculous laughing attacks is because my brain gets so fried studying for 10 hours every day, so then when something is even just slightly funny, my brain takes the escape and I laugh hysterically for a solid 10 mins. Ay ay ay.
Something I find entertaining about the MTC is that due to our complete lack of music, a whistled tune spreads like wildfire. You won't get halfway through a melody before people on the other side of the enourmous hallway are whistling or humming or singing along with you. But if music spreads like wildfire, I'm sure you can guess what else does: sickness. As soon as one person gets even the slightest sore throat or cough or stuffy nose, the entire rest of the district and maybe even zone will be sick before the end of the week. So that's been super fun for our district the past two weeks... Bleh.
Speaking of our district, we only have five people now. That's half the size of every other district in our building. Three of our district's missionaries left last Monday to go to the Guatemalan MTC, including my companion. So I've been in a trio with Elder Brady Tengberg and Elder Kyle Watt. Trios are usually pretty frowned upon because they are so much more difficult than the standard two-person companionship, but we're making it work. The good news is that I love these guys to death. They are great. So far they've only accidentally forgotten me and left me once. Luckily, a male MTC employee was able to escort me to find them... haha. Our teacher actually gave us a pretty big compliment too: the fist time we taught as a trio, our teacher confessed that he thought it would be a train wreck, but we did surprisingly well. Even better than some companionships he's had in the past. I reeaaaalllly hope I get to work with these Elders again in the mission field when we get to Chile!
Let it be thus known that I, Elder Tanner Jack Long, have heretofor made history. Let it sound about throughout all caverns, castles, and caves, through all countries, cities, and towns, that I have reached an all time high of weight. I have NEVER broken more than 156 lbs, and even then the next day I was back to 152 and later that week 154. I just always fluctuate several pounds around 150. When I entered the MTC, I weighed 152 lbs. I weighed myself on Tuesday and after three weeks at the MTC doing nothing but eating and studying, I weigh 159 lbs. Sheesh. If it's not already bad enough that I'll come home bald, now I'll be fat too! Voy a regresar un panson calvo! I wouldn't mind weighing 160 lbs if it were muscle, but "santa vaca!" Bleh. So I'm on a diet with you, Mum and Dad. But it's so tough to try to decide whether I want to try to enjoy this food before I'm in Chile with who-knows-what to eat, or if I should restrict myself. No fun! I'm so impressed that Cooper never ate any sweets while at the MTC!!!
Mum, keep an eye out for an Elder Tanner, who left on Monday to serve in the Las Vegas Southwest Spanish speaking mission with President Black. I told him to look for you if he ever helps with an ESL class at the Flamingo ward stake center, but it's a big city. If you find him, invite them over for dinner! He's an awesome kid.
We've yet to have any apostles speak to us at our bi-weekly firesides, but that's because July is their "vacation" month. Lame! So we're reeeeaaallllyyyyy hoping that we'll get one soon!
Thanks for sending those memory cards, Mum! You da best! I'm glad Lacey got my letter--even if someone else's eyes seem to have fell upon it before she read it... haha :P Who is "Dirty Harry??" A pet?? I'm sorry to hear about Joy. She's been a wonderful dog and I'll miss her dearly. But it will be good that she'll finally be out of pain.
I hope you are all reading your scriptures DAILY and NAMING your blessings often. You will be happier by doing such simple tasks. For you LDS members, attend the temple often. Don't take it for granted that you have one within a short drive of where you live. Invite friends/family to church. Just be friendly and serve others. One interesting thing I've learned about missionary work is that it is soooo much more important to have a good relationship and actually befriend others rather than just try to teach them all you know about the Gospel. Stephen Mendenhall told some great stories about that on his mission. Just do your best to help others be happy. Don't be hesitant to give someone a compliment, whether they be a friend or a stranger. You don't know what's going on in their life or in their head and how much they might need a simple friendly smile. Yes, sometimes it will be awkward. Most simply put, missionary work is "spirit-filled awkwardness" as one of my teachers put it. Get over it. Just do it!
Much love to you all!
Elder Tanner Long :)