So while my companion is skyping his family, I have a little bit of time to still email for all of you that I won´t get to skype! This week has been absolutely insane with how busy it´s been, but it ended so wonderfully! Monday we had a fun zone activity where we ate delicious completos (giant hot dogs with all kinds of toppings) and then watched Home Alone and had a gift exchange. I got a hat that says Chile. On Tuesday I was on an intercambio, Wednesday we traveled 3 hours to Temuco for our Christmas Conference with the President, and Thursday and Friday I was on another two day intercambio in a different sector. The Christmas conference was fantastic, and we had a fun slideshow. I got a copy of it, so we´ll be able to watch it someday together haha. Eventhough it will just be a bunch of pictures of people you don´t know.
Anyways, after an insane week, we had a beautiful baptism of Claudio Jr and Rosa Vasquez. Claudio is the son of the family that we baptized a month ago, but he had been living in Conce to play soccer for the University of Concepción. He´s awesome. I definitely see him as a missionary pronto (he´s only 20 yrs old). We also baptized 80 yr old Rosa. She was pretty afraid to go under the water, but Mario eventually got her under. Poor sweet little lady haha. What was absolutely fantastic was that their next door neighbors came! They are another family of 5 with whom we´ve been working, and they are sooooo close to getting baptized! The mother and 3 kids are solid, but we just need to reach the heart of the father. But all 5 of them came, and it was awesome! Afterwards we went back to Claudio´s house with everyone for refreshments (I´ll explain the difference between Chilean refreshments and American refreshments during skype). We all sat and talked and had just a simple but wonderful time. It´s moments like those that make life beautiful and worth it. Sitting in a small room filled with recent converts and investigators. It was marvelous. What I loved most was getting to listen to them bear their testimonies to their neighbors (and us). The Sandoval-Zapata family is excellent. So golden. They´ve gone through many trials this year, but it was all in the wisdom of the Lord to prepare them to receive the Restored Gospel.
This Christmas, I was able to be a tool in the hands of the Lord to give him the gift of two redeemed souls. What a blessing. In reality, it´s all we can ever give to the Lord. Everything is already all His; the only thing He doesn´t have posession over is our souls/agency. Thus, what else do you plan on giving Him this Christmas? How great shall be our joy if we can give not just our own, but many souls unto the Lord.
Merry (almost) Christmas from Chile! This week was quite the week! Besides all the people frequently asking us about the end of the world, our investigators are sure being tried. But with faith, fervent prayer, and hard work, we磖e pressing forward. A great quote I heard from a sister missionary in the MTC is, 创Work as if everything depends on you, and pray as if everything depends on the Lord.创 In this manner I know you磍l find success--no matter what your task at hand is. The Lord loves you. He wants to bless you. He wants to help you. But He also requires that we do as much of our own part as possible before He fills in the rest. Anyways, let me know how crazy the people in North America get the day before (and the day after) the world supposedly ends...ha. I磎 so sorry to hear about the massacre of the children and teachers in the U.S. How dreadful. Obviously I had tons of Chileans asking me about it before I had even heard anything about it. I have no way to get news other than from the Chileans themselves. It磗 amazing to see the responses of people from other countries about what happens in the U.S. This past week we had 4 baptismal dates set for upcoming weeks. Slowly but surely, these numbers dropped as Satan did everything possible to impede them from continuing on. Satan is really good at what he does. I can testify that he磗 real. He lives. He磗 powerful. And he hates you. One of his favorite (and extremely effective) tactics is getting us to forget that we磖e at war against him. He confuses us to feel that there磗 nothing more than this life. He cleverly lies to us through what seems like our own thoughts to try to convince us that God doesn磘 exist, Christ didn磘 atone for our sins, and we don磘 need to repent. It磗 a lie. We mustn磘 let him fool us. Christ lives. He磗 even more powerful. He loves you. And He WILL win. And if we磖e on His side, we磍l win with him. It磗 a promise by which God Himself is bound. Satan already lost, and he knows it. But he spends all of his time and effort trying to drag down everyone he can so that they磍l be miserable like him. But we have help. Trust in the Lord. He WILL help you. Hardcore subject change: I got my SPAC book/package thing from Mum!!!! Waahooo!!!! I was practically giddy because of how excited I was to get it. I already absolutely love that book. SPAC tour really was the best time of my life. I love those people, and they have impacted my life so much more than they will ever realize. I loved their silly little notes! I磀 love to be able to send the team a letter--Mum, what address would I send it to? I also got a package from Denice! Aaahhhh so great! And so extremely generous. Thanks for being so wonderful, Denice. I know it wasn磘 cheap to send that package, but it means so much more to me than just the mere items inside the box. I love you :) I磎 sorry other aunts, but that scored some hardcore 创favorite aunt创 points... haha ;P On Saturday we had our stake Christmas activity. It was quite somethin. The planning wasn磘 quite as well-done as it should have been, so the program lasted nearly three hours of choirs, an orchestra, etc. I mean it was a great activity, but it was just rather lengthy. Not to mention it felt more like an Evangelical amphitheatre performance in our chapel...ha. It was an experience I磍l never forget, that磗 for sure. As far as an investigator report, we have two baptisms scheduled for this Saturday: Claudio Jr (20 yrs old) and Rosa Vasquez (80 yrs old). Sweet little Rosa doesn磘 always comprehend everything, but she has her days when she磗 more alert and understands better. Elder Torres and I have talked about delaying her baptism a bit so we can take things slowly, but yesterday during church she proudly announced that she wants to get baptized the 22nd of December. So that磗 what we磍l do. It磗 been great to get to work with her and help her see the light............that came out wrong... Haha but really, she磗 had an extremely difficult life of many hardships, and the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is exactly what she needs. Despite her old age, the Lord in His mercy has provided her a way to receive forgiveness for her sins and start anew. May the Lord bless you during this wonderful holiday season. He lives, and He loves you. I know it. I know it because I磛e personally felt His love and compassion for me when I磛e doubted or struggled. Trust Him. I磍l see you on the 24th for skype! Merry Christmas! Love you! Elder Long :)
Hey family and friends! Woo, what a week! Bradley once mentioned to me in a letter that he thinks a mission is just a two year spiritual high. Lamentably I´d disagree, but it is definitely worth it, so don´t worry about it. I´ve thought about keeping track of good days verses bad days, but it´s more of an hourly rollercoaster, so oh well haha. But overall looking back on the week, it´s been a good week. Woo! Corey told me that she has a friend who was on the same cruise as you! How crazy! What a small world! A few quick requests: Lacey, add ´the Hobbit¨ to my movie list for when I get back. There´s a poster here in the mall and it looks stinkin awesome... haha. Can you check to see what my skype name is? I´m pretty sure it´s T.J.Long, but do the caps matter? Mum, if you happen to have a few spare minutes, could you send me a scan of a few of your ESL lesson plans? I want some worksheets that I can give people as homework during the week. ¡Gracias! Oh, also speaking of skype, our mission president mandated that we missionaries skype the 24th. That will be my P-Day. Can you still do it 9am Vegas time or would later work better? Let me know! I still need to somehow coordinate with a family to see when I can use their computer. Ha, international coordination is difficult without frequent communication.... This week has been filled with things tempting me to get oober trunky. Ha. We had an amazingly delicious barbeque with our bishop on Monday evening because he wanted to thank us for our hard work this year. The ward has had 18 baptisms. Wahoo!! We had super tasty carne asada--it tasted pretty close to how Dad makes it. Yum! Then of course there´s all the Christmas stuff going on (not nearly as much as in the US, but still an occasional Christmas song). We missionaries are helping in the stake Christmas choir, but the entire time we sang I just kept thinking about how much I want to be standing next to Dad and singing in our ward choir. Good times. This past week our toilet was clogged for 4 days. Ha. The plumbing is just a bit wack down here, and apparantly in our new house you can´t flush toilet paper. So we now have a trashcan in which we have to discard the used paper. Yummy. We´ve had some pretty epic adventures with that toilet.... Speaking of really strong smells, the olfactory sense is the strongest memory humans have. On Tuesday during ward council I got a whiff of perfume that smelled exactly like Denice and Joylynn. I always love that smell. So full of great memories. Send the aunts my love! Quick update on investigators: we´re teaching the son of our recent convert family. He´s been living in Conce while he plays for the university´s soccer team, and he visits everyone once in a while. He´s stinkin awesome. Now that he´s on holiday vacation, we can fully teach him. The other night he told us that he feels that everything we teach and everything he´s seen about the LDS church is true. I can´t even describe the immense joy I felt! wahooo!!!!!!! His baptism date is scheduled for December 22nd, along with a few other progressing investigators we have. His dad received the priesthood on Sunday, so we´re obviously aiming to have him baptize his son. What a fantastic eternal family this will be. They are ´´investigadores de oro!´´ Just remember that you don´t have to be full-time missionary to feel this great joy of seeing your loved ones (friends, family, neighbors, colleagues) accept the Restored Gospel and receive the remission of their sins by being baptized by someone who truly holds the authority of God´s priesthood. What a blessing.. Have a wonderful week! Write your letters to ´´El Viejito Pascuero´´ so he´ll bring you your Christmas presents! Much love, Elder Long :)
Hello hello hello! This past week has been sooooo incredibly busy, yet oddly went by super slowly. Weird. But here we are, beloved P-day once again! Some updates of my recent activities: we moved houses because the owner wants to sell it. We moved into an extremely nice house (for Chile) of a member who is moving out of the ward. It's undoubtedly the nicest house in the mission, but the tradeoff is that it's waaaayyyyy far from our sector! So that will be interesting, but such is life. I also finished by 12 week training program and am now officially just an average joe missionary rather than a greenie being trained. However, the four missionaries in our house didn't get transfered. We're all staying together. Honestly, I was very disappointed because we need a change of atmostphere regarding roommates. The other two missionaries Elder Torres and I live with constantly fight and it's been disheartingly difficult to feel the Spirit when they are around. But the Lord knows best. He obviously wants all four of us to stay together and learn more about patience and humility. Woo hoo! This week nearly every night I dreamed that I was home again. It's so weird to have such vivid dreams of home and family and friends and then wake up in South America several hundreds of thousands of miles away. I also dreamed about my beloved SPAC team! I miss those people! Send my love, please. Quick request: how's it coming with getting the Schwann credit card, Mum? I know you're busy and I'm sooooo grateful for ALL you have done and continually do for me and so many others, so don't stress if it's still on your to-do list. I'm just hoping to get it within the next month or so that I can buy some rain gear and protect myself against these storms. When it rains here, it POURS. But the city doesn't have a very good gutter system, so all the streets flood. It's pretty intense--and quite the obstacle course to try to go tracting and cross a river to get to the other side of the street. I would consider trying to re-create Moses' experience with the Red Sea, but for some reason I feel like it's not quite God's will. Such is the life. Oh well, at least I know how to swim! To answer Dad's questions: So far I've been asked just once to play a musical number for our latest baptismal service, but other than that we have a young girl in our ward that has a calling to be the pianist. She knows a good portion of hymns, so that's usually what we sing. In our humble little chapel we have an electric keyboard that we use rather than a piano or organ. It's not quite big enough for some of my compositions (in terms of having enough keys) so I changed it a bit to make it work. I've been asked to sing in the Christmas program, but no one has given me any further information despite the program being in a week or two. I'll let you know how that goes haha. As far as skyping, Dad's proposal should work (9am Vegas time). I need to find a family who's computer I can use and coordinate with them and I'll let you know in my next email. The pictures of the Santa race are hilarious! I've always wanted to do that. I'm glad you had a fun time. When Tyler was dressed up as the wolf mascot thing he looked like those creepy wolf creatures from The Village. Ha. But I'm glad you're all enjoying the holidays! I certainly miss all the fun music and festivities! There's a few people here that have little fake Christmas trees (usually about 3 feet tall), but other than that it's still just summer here. Weird o_0 We did have a fun barbeque with our recent converts yesterday, though. It had nothing to do with Christmas, but maaaaaannnnn was it delicious!!! We had four different kinds of juicy meats, potatoes, Chilean bread, beans, salad, etc etc etc. Ohhhhhhh it was good! Yay missionary work! haha :P Take advantage of this wonderful Christmas season to help people remember the real reason for all the gift shopping and face stuffing. It's nothing you haven't heard before, but it really is such an easy way to bring up the Gospel. And don't just remind people that it's about Christ--I'll be surprised if someone doesn't know that; rather, take the opportunity to introduce the Restored Gospel. Talk about the Book of Mormon. Talk about how Christ still lives. Talk about His visit to the American continent (3 Nephi 11). It's great to remind people what He's done for us, but I invite you to ask them what they think we can do for Him. Have a wonderful week! Read the Book of Mormon each day! Love you! Much love, Elder Long :)