Hello hello hello!
I´m always in such a great mood after reading all your emails! I love them! Thanks so much for writing me Tyler, Mum, Dad, and Trina! This week I also got a bundle of letters from Kassi, Krysta, Corey, and Cydney! A very special shout out to TRINA for always emailing me every week and now even sending me a Dear Elder. Sorry I kept forgetting to throw your name on the list!
This week has been super hot, incredibly wet, and then super hot again! Chile is a little bit bipolar. Speaking of sudden changes, this week in our zone conference we recieved instruction that pretty much our entire mission is changing. After some conferences with Elder Arnold of the Seventy, my mission president (Presidente Martinez) decided to change the entire focus of the mission. Instead of contacts and lessons, our focus is now entirely on references. I´m excited about the change, because I already have a firm belief that references from members are a bajillion times better than contacting people on the street. We´ll need to work extremely hard to get our ward actively participating with us, but I expect many more fruits through the effort. We also work a lot with inactive members. There´s a lot. In our ward we have approximately 450 members, but yesterday we set our record high of church attendance with a count of 120 people (including us four missionaries and our 6 investigators). So I´ll keep you updated on how that all goes.
Quick questions: Dad, I miss your carne asada. Can you let me know exactly how it´s made (what kind of meat and what spices) or if there´s a different name so that I can try to find it down here? Because otherwise if I ask for ´´carne asada (grilled meat)´´ there´s endless options. Also, Mum (and anyone else) could you send me some ideas of fun/simple games for FHE? I remember doing ´´Love thy neighbor´´ and a few others, but here it´s a bit more difficult because we usually have two or three families squished together in a humble little house for our ´´noche de hogar.´´ Ideas of games we could do? Thanks!
Dad, great job giving someone a pass-along card! Mum, your hair is so dark and you look so thin! Tyler, you´re a stud. Brad, congrats on getting your Eagle and for doing such great missionary work already! Grampsir, I´m still amazed that you´re playing tennis and bike-riding around the world at 80 years old! Mum, I too dreampt that I came home for a quick trip. I often have dreams that I´m already home as an RM, but this was the first time that I dreampt I came home during my mission. You had recently had another baby whom you named Llena de Amor (bwuahahaha) and I came home to babysit for a night so that the rest of the family could go see a movie or something. It was a weird dream haha.
But on a more spiritual note, I have a story I want to tell you. I was doing my morning scripture study and was reading the parable of the tares in Matt 13:24-30. I completely didn´t understand how it applied to my life or how it applied to anyone´s life for that matter. This parable seemed pointless. As I kept reading, the parable suddenly ends and Christ starts describing another parable. I had to stop and re-read to see if I missed anything. Christ didn´t explain the parable´s meaning at all. I was immensly confused what weeds in some guy´s garden had to do with my life. I had two options: I could get frustrated and stop reading, or I could press forward with faith and confidence that God knows what He´s doing with His scriptures. I continued reading and reached verses 37-43, where Christ at last explains the meaning of the first parable in the chapter. Here´s the lesson learned: Often times in this life we become confused, frustrated, and feel that the challenge we are facing is pointless and that we have nothing to gain from it; however, if we press forward with faith in Christ trusting that He knows better than we do, we´ll receive our answers and our reward. ´´Endure to the end´´ doesn´t seem as far away as you think. Our Heavenly Father knows better than we do. He knows what we´re going through, and He´ll help us through it. We just need to rely on Him. And if we do so, all will be well. A quick second lesson is learned from this experience: You don´t have to understand the scriptures to be able to learn from them. Notice that I didn´t even comment on the actual meaning of the parable. Don´t get me wrong, it´s an awesome parable once you understand it--but I learned more from personal revelation/inspiration from the Holy Ghost than I did from the actual scriptures themselves. But if I hadn´t prayed beforehand to receive personal inspiration, I wouldn´t have gotten it. I invite you to say a quick prayer before you read your scriptures, do your homework, or whatever it be. Ask Heavenly Father to help you focus, understand, and gain the knowledge and wisdom that He wants you to have. And as a representative of our Savior Jesus Christ, I promise you that you will receive it. Simple.
Stay awesome, stay healthy, stay calm, read the sciptures, seek for personal revelation, pray daily, be kind to one another, have a blast on the cruise without me, take lots of pictures, and have a wonderful week! Much love!
Elder Long :)
P.S. -- Speaking as a third party outsider with absolutely no personal interest in the matter, Christmas and Elder Long´s birthday are coming up. He misses American candy, namely Mike & Ike´s, Swedish Fish, and chocolate. He also wants more pictures of his family/friends. Much obliged ;)