Hey fambam! What a week. We're working like crazy to help each companionship be able to baptize at least one person this month, and Satan is certainly working overtime. He's incredibly sly. But God always wins, so we know where to place our trust. It's just exhausting haha.
As far as Skype, my Pday will be the 25th, so I think we can do the 9am Vegas (2pm Chile) time. Let's plan on that. That also means that I won't have pday next monday, so don't worry about getting an email until Christmas. Wow. December is flying by!
Great news: our wonderful investigator Isabel quit smoking!!! She's been a smoker for who knows how long, but with the help of her loving Heavenly Father, she has now officially been a nonsmoker for nearly two full weeks! She's awesome! Last night we had a powerful lesson with her and we're really trying to help her get baptized either this week or the next. She's rather indecisive despite having a vision/dream in the which God showed her that she needs to get baptized....haha but I know she'll do it. She's soooo ready for it!
Yesterday we had our primary program, and it made me feel so proud of Dad for always being so ''capo'' (awesome) with all the microphones and whatnot. We sure could have used his help down here haha. But it was a cute program with all the little Chilean kids. The Hacienda Heights ward really is such an incredible ward with all the fantastic leaders that work so hard to fulfill their callings!
Dad, I'm so proud of all you're doing to spread the gospel! Keep it up! I'm so curious what's it like for you two to be ward missionaries! What is your calling like? Are you accompanying the full-time missionaries to lessons each week? I highly recommend it! In Yumbel, each time our relief society president was having a rough time with her flower business, she would accompany us to a few lessons. The next day she would sell ALL of her flowers before lunch time ;)
I end my mission in exactly 6 months tomomrow, so I want to extend a challenge to my dear family. If you read just two chapters a day in the Book of Mormon, you'll finish the entire thing in 6 months (slightly less, actually). I know how difficult family reading was when I was there, but now you have the help of an awesome RM Brittany who can help motivate the family. Maybe reading in the mornings would be more practical rather than the evenings. You decide, but my challenge is extended! I'll be reading it in Spanish again, so it will be cool to finish it one last time right before I end the mission.
My beloved trainer Elder Torres ends his mission in a month, and I saw him for the last time this week during a conference. I'm so grateful for the outstanding example he has given me during the mission. A life lesson to be learned during these two years is the power of an example. It's so much easier to say ''Come, follow. Do what I do'' than to preach at someone else without doing what you say. I've learned that lectures and speeches really don't always do much, but a good example is what truly inspires. Dad and Grampsir are great at giving long speeches, but they are even better at teaching by example. And for that I am so grateful. The greatest example of all was our dear Savior Jesus Christ. He doesn't just give us a list of do's and don'ts and expects us to be perfect; rather, He showed us the way and invites us to follow and do as He has done. I'm so grateful for the birth, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Redeemer. I know He lives and loves us, and I hope we all take advantage of this special time of year to help others come unto Christ. Have a wonderful week! Love you! Elder Long :)
Hey fam bam! What a crazy week! ....I feel like I always say that...haha. This week sure was a new adventure as Elder Bills and I rushed back and forth all over to help other missionaries, plan training meetings, attend executive meetings, and still work hard in our own sector to help our investigators progress! We have a ward filled with the stake leaders and best friends of President Martinez, so we are VERY closely watched constantly...haha. We have some fantastic investigators that are sooooo close to being baptized--they just need to take the final decision. One investigator, Isabel, is quitting smoking and has done wonderful in overcoming temptation from friends and family members that have tried to get her to smoke with them. She's awesome.
Quick question: Can you send me a picture of the house with all the Christmas lights when you put them up? People keep asking me what it's like in the States. Here they don't do much decorating for holidays. Thanks!
Also, we need to plan for Skype! It should be a 5 hour difference, so what would work better for you: in the morning or in the evening Vegas time?
Thursday we had an emergency council meeting with all the zone leaders and President Martinez. We reviewed few of the difficulties in the mission, found solutions, made huge changes, and I had a great time. Later that night Elder Bills and I had a special private meeting with President Martinez and the stake president in an executive meeting and I ablsolutely LOVED being involved in those meetings! They were very long and tiresome, but I felt important and I loved working so closely with President Martinez. He's been such an amazing example for me in so many ways, especially with the happiness and love that constantly glows from his being.
I would love to sit and keep talking about how wonderful President Martinez is, but that would do a great injustice to the real reason he's able to inspire me. He is just a man that will go back home in 6 more months. However, as I learn to account to the Lord in all that I do, I know that He is the reason I am able to overcome weaknesses in myself. I would love to be more like President Martinez, or more like Elder Townsend or Elder White, or more like RJ, or more like my wonderful dad who has always set an incredible example for me--but all of us are simply in the process of learning to become more like Christ. Everything I admire in my dad and in President Martinez and many other people are truly characteristics of Christ. Christ was the perfect example of love, understanding, meekness, happiness, sacrifice, and leadership. He is the good shepherd, and all I want to do is follow Him. But even then it's not enough to be the only one--I want to be with all of my family and friends following our Savior. He will lift us when we fall, and He will never leade us astray nor leave us behind. I love my Redeemer, and I know He loves us.
My dear post-Thanksgiving surviving family members,
Thanks for all the fun letters and photos of Thanksgiving! Seems like it was quite the riot with 38 people in our house! What a fun adventure. To be honest, we had completely forgotten that it was Thanksgiving day until about 6pm, and by then it was already too late to really get anything special together. Oh well. We'll just have to party even harder next year!
To answer some questions: No, Suellen still hasn't been confirmed. Meh. We were able to meet with her once, but since then she has managed to disappear. It's so disappointing. She explained that she doesn't feel any support from anyone in her family and that they just fight about it, so she prefers to just stop. But we know better, and we are trying to do everything to help her and her family feel the Lord's Spirit and have His strength to continue on despite adversity. We can trust in Him, He already overcame all trials (John 16:33).
Aside from difficulties in our sector, I had a rather spiritually uplifting week! Elder Spannaus of the Seventy came and we had a FANTASTIC conference with him and his wonderful wife. They are both from Argentina and are such spiritual giants aside from goofballs haha. I love that the majority of the leaders of the Church know how to be silly yet spiritual--just look at President Monson! Also, I met a missionary that has been in the mission for about a month. He called me over and told me he had to confess that he knew who I was before the mission because he had been reading my blog for the past two months. How random yet cool! I definitely didn't realize the extent of that blog! haha he told me that when he found out his mission, he googled it and my blog came up and he read it until he entered the MTC. It sure made my day that I was worth reading about haha.
Other exciting news: After the conference, President Martinez called me in for a special private interview. I figured it was to talk about how to help my struggling companion, but President simply told me how proud he is of me and how grateful he is for my hard work. He then told me that I will now be serving as Zone Leader of this same zone starting tomorrow. Ha. I feel so humbled, honored, excited, and grateful for this wonderful opportunity to serve others. I've been serving as district leader for the past 7 months, and it will be a fun/difficult/worth-it adventure to now serve as zone leader. We have 32 missionaries in our zone, so it will keep me pretty busy. I feel such a great confidence from the Lord as well as President Martinez since there are only 20 zone leaders in a mission of over 250 missionaries. Not to mention the ward I'll be serving in is where President Martinez served as bishop before being called to serve as mission president. Ha, no pressure... Haha but it will be a great transfer--I already love my new companion Elder Bills, whom I've been working with as a district leader for the past 4 months. He's a goof and a great missionary.
It's rough that I won't get to stay here and help Suellen get confirmed, yet I'll still be able to work rather closely with the missionaries here in Yumbel since I'm staying in our same zone. Wahoo! My new ward has several people waiting to be baptized, so I'm definitely dreaming of a white christmas despite the heat! I sure love you all. Thanks so much for all you do and for all of your prayers on my behalf. We need to start planning for Skype ASAP as well. We'll figure it out once I'm with Elder Bills in Los Angeles. Have a wonderful week! Don't forget to invite others to listen to the missionaries so that Vegas can have a white christmas as well! Love you!
Hey fambam! What a ride of a week. I´ll start with the least important to the spiritual.
The strike of the municipalidad and trash collectors finally ended. Yay!
Quick questions: What´s the population of Las Vegas? of the USA? of Chile? thanks!
This week as we spent each morning deep cleaning the room of our ''baptismal font'' I felt like I was just back home working with Dad. Who would have thought that all those Saturday mornings doing rental-property work were training me to me able to plaster walls and clean the yard of this house-chapel we have here in Yumbel. It made me think of all those weekends when we would always just bust out the to-do list and work most of the day Saturday. Mum and Dad, you two really are hard workers. Thanks for teaching me that habit. We worked crazy hard in the mornings (it was A LOT to clean up) and then even harder in the afternoons to find more people to teach so that we don't enter December with no investigators.
Finally the moment came, and Suellen was baptized Saturday evening. It was a great little service and the Spirit was strong. The next morning, we got a gut-wrenching phone call that she wouldn´t be coming to the confirmation in church. We still haven´t been able to figure out what happened, but hopefully I´ll have an update for you next week. So we had a half-baptism, since it´s not valid until she receives the gift of the Holy Ghost (John 3:5). It was an extremely difficult and frustrating way to end our week, but we'll sort things out. One of the adding difficulties is that this weekend is stake conference, so she technically can't be confirmed this week either. Bleh. We'll see what happens.
All I can really say is that God lives. He loves us. He will help us be happy if we allow Him into our lives. But He can't enter by Himself. He can't answer our questions if we don't ask Him for a response. Faith is a principle of action--if we don't act, it fades until there is none left. But we can always rekindle it. Despite Satan's annoyingly powerful constant attacks, God will ALWAYS win. Of that I am sure.
Thanks for the emails! It´s always great to hear from you. Trina, give Tom a big hug on my part. He probably doesn´t know how much I´ve always looked up to him and your sons.
Quick question mum: Do you have any more information about the trip to Peru next summer?? When will it be? Can you send me a list of medical vocab I can learn to be prepared? Thanks!
This week was quite the crazy week!!! I had conferences with President Martinez, trips to the hospital until 1:30am, found out that I´ll be coming home sooner than planned, and had some unforgettable exchanges. Caught your attention? haha. One of the biggest bits of news is that since I´ll be ending my mission the same transfer as President Martinez, our mission has been cut a month shorter than normal to accomodate a few scheduling things. So yeah, I´ll be ending my mission June 17th! Crazy.
As far as the hospital trip, I only have time to give a brief summary. Very simply, I chose to do a sudden exchange with the missionaries in my district that live in Los Angeles. We had a good day, but as we were leaving our last house, we noticed a group of people gathered around a girl on the ground in the street. I figured she had passed out, but I went to go see if all was well. Turns out that the girl on the ground was one of our sister missionaries that had fallen and seemingly broken her foot. After a series of events, we were at last leaving the hospital at 1am and got to bed around 2am. Ha. It was actually a really fun adventure, though. The stake patriarch was he who gave us a ride in his car, so he waited with us the entire night despite it being his 63rd birthday. Sweet guy. The good news is that Sister Huaytalla didn´t break her leg, just sprained it really good. I´ll be sending a letter to Corey with a more detailed version of the story if you want to bug her about it haha. One thing I sure learned was that my desire to study medicine was more solidified. I hated not being able to help much more than make executive decisions and pay the bill. But all turned out well.
While we were at the hospital, someone was rushed in on a stretcher having maybe suffered a heart attack or car crash. Couldn´t really tell. After a few minutes, the doctor came out to give the news to the family. Their cries and grief were truly saddening, and I couldn´t help but wish that I could just sit them down right then and there to teach them about the marvelous Plan of Salvation that God created for us so that we can all live together again. It sure got me thinking about how grateful I am for the knowledge that comes from the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. He sure loves us and has done everything for us so that we can be happy. It´s just up to us to open the door to the missionaries and open our heart to the Spirit so that we can know the truth for ourselves. I know that the Lord lives and really does guide His only true prophet Thomas S Monson. I know that the Plan of Salvation is real and that we can live with God, Christ, and our families together forever if we repent, are baptized, and obey God´s commandments. It´s worth it. I´m so glad that our sweet invesigator Suellen has learned of that truth for herself and has decided to be baptized this weekend. Giant miracle for Yumbel!!! Wahoo!!! I´ll send pics next week after the baptism. Have a wonderful week! Love you!
Can you believe that today I complete 16 months in the mission? Ooooo. Crazy. I still feel like I´m pretty young in the mission and still learning everyday...ha.
Well it was an interesting week full of a LOT of traveling! I had to travel to Los Angeles everyday this week--very expensive on my tiny little wallet! But it was worth it, because all the divisions and exchanges I did with the missionaries in my zone and district really helped. We started off the week with only 8 people with baptismal dates, and we ended the week with 16. My district is progressing despite several challenges this week. The first weird difficutly was that someone entered the chapel during our zone meeting and stole a bunch of wallets, IDs, cameras, cellphones, etc while we were in another room. bleh. Last night, two of the sister missionaries whose cellphone was stolen then went missing. Despite never being home late, they were nearly two hours late for curfew. We had no way to contact them without their phone and noone knew where they were. Needless to say, we were extreeeeeemmmeeeellly worried. After much, much fervent prayer, they showed up to their house having ''lost track of time''......Ha. So we were grateful that our prayers were answered, but I know President Martinez wasn't very happy about the scare they gave us.
Yesterday in church, we had a decent little attendance of 30 people. As soon as it ended, despite our efforts to help people stay for the classes, only 3 members remained with us 4 missionaries. Even our branch president had to leave early to attend a meeting with Elder Jeffrey R Holland in Concepción. (fun fact: the Concepción temple ground-breaking ceremony will be in these next few months. Finally!!!) I got myself to thinking about how hard we are working to help this little branch in Yumbel grow and strengthen itself. Only three members at church is not enough considering the potential of this little town. We've formed plans and taken action to help the members of the LDS church become active in the Lord's missionary work, and I can't wait to come back in 20 years to find the large WARD of yumbel in their filled CHAPEL. What a blessing it is to serve the Lord. I know He lives, and I know that His work will continue moving foward until it fills the earth.
Hey fambam! It´s a beautiful HOT Chilean day! We had a random really strong rainstorm during the week, and pretty much every Chilean is agreed that that was the last rain of the season. So look out summer heat, here we come! I´m already back to using my hat so my poor bald head doesn´t fry...ha. Meh.
Sounds like you had a great week! My big halloween adventure was getting to do an exchange with my trainer Elder Torres, who has been one of the mission's APs for the last 7 months. He´s a great young man who has become a fantastic missionary. He ends his mission in January. There were a few kids that went trick or treating, but the best I could offer them as a poor missionary was my dirty socks. They kindly said, ''No thank you Elder.''
Random Chilean news: Stinkin EVERYTHING is in strike. It started with the mail, then the trash, then the government buildings, and next will probably be the power and water....ha. We´ll see. But it sure keeps things interesting!
Trina, thanks so much for sending me the testimony of the girl from your ward (Miss Nevada). It was such a great read and spiritual boost. Love you!
We had a rough week as far as teaching. A lot of our investigators decided they didn´t want any more. Even our best investigator who was soooo set on getting baptized this 23 of November decided that he wanted to stay Catholic as soon as he moved in with his girlfriend. It was definitely a heart-wrenching afternoon to watch Satan pull him away from the truth. But I definitely realized that my desire to help these people is a legitamate desire and not just me going through the motions. I´m not satisfied with just inviting people to come unto Christ. I want them to actually accept the invitation so that they can receive the forgiveness of their sins through baptism and live worthy of the gift of the Holy Ghost. It´s so much more than just a nice little message about God. I know that what we teach is the truth, and EVERY person needs to not just hear our message, but accept it and apply it to their lives. Christ lives and loves us, and only through Him can we be free from sin. I know it to be true, and I do my best to not get tired of saying it over and over to people that don´t always want to listen.
Keep working hard in your callings. The Lord is so grateful and pleased when we do our best to serve Him and His children. I sure love you!
Hey fambam! How stinkin fun that you went to Disneyland! I haven´t been there since I was in 8th grade...ha. Because even when you went as a family, I was playing in the baseball tournaments. Lame. But looks like you had a lot of fun! That´s so crazy that Jed already got home. I thought we left roughly around the same time. I guess not! I should actually have a lot of friends coming home by Christmas! How weird!!! When does Joseph Pearce get home??
Wahoo, my parents are now officially ward missionaries! How great! I´m so excited for you. I have no idea what that really means because we don´t have those down here, but I´m interested to know what your assignments will really be like! Keep me in on the loop.
So far this first week with Elder Murphy has gone great! We´ve had tons of incredible miracles and spiritual experiences already. The thing is, I´m very short on time because I wrote a longer-than-normal letter to President Martinez. I´m thinking about just copying and pasting what I wrote to him, but I´ll need Mum to translate it for everyone else.
''Querido Presidente Martinez,
Que maravillosa ha sido esta semana! Vimos cualquier milagro en nuestro distrito. Empezamos la semana con solamente 5 fechas bautismales para Noviembre, y terminamos la semana con 12 fechas para Noviembre y un bautismo milagroso que ocurrió en La Torre con Hna Fonseca y Hna Bazán. Cuan grandes han sido las bendiciones. Estuve tan feliz al ver el éxito y ánimo de Elder Miller y Elder Ramos al fijar 3 fechas bautismales en una sola tarde--mas encima, en YUMBEL! Aquí en Yumbel llevamos 9 fechas bautismales para Noviembre, y tenemos varias días más para subir este numero aun más antes de que empiece el mes de noviembre.
Pude tener una experiencia maravillosa de aprender más sobre como funciona el Espíritu Santo. Estuve buscando inspiración sobre una decisión importante que yo tenía que hacer (un intercambio en Los Ángeles), pero no sentí que recibí una respuesta. Seguí orando y estudiando mucho, pero no recibí la respuesta. Después de conversar con Elder Murphy, llegamos a la conclusión que Dios simplemente quería que yo hiciera una decisión y Él me ayudaría o me diría de que no. Decidí hacer el intercambio en Los Ángeles, e inmediatamente no fue posible. Dios me dijo que no. Luego el mismo día, mientras trabajaba con Elder Murphy en Yumbel, todo había caído. Todo. A pesar de nuestros mejores esfuerzos, la gente ni abrió la puerta para que pudiéramos contactarlas. Decidimos que los dos estuvimos dignos del Espíritu y de la ayuda de Dios, así que decidimos que era una prueba. Hicimos una oración para pedir ayuda sobre donde debemos de ir para tener más éxito y poder enseñar a las personas el evangelio. No sentí nada fuerte--tampoco vino una respuesta obvia a pesar de esperar y intentar escuchar al Espíritu. Después de un tiempo, decidí simplemente empezar a caminar hacia una otra parte. Mientras caminamos, vino la idea de pasar por Felipe (el consejero de hombres jóvenes) para ayudarle asegurar que todo estaba listo por una actividad de la estaca el próximo día. Solo cinco minutos después de llegar, nuestro presidente de rama nos llamó pidiendo que fuéramos a visitar a Felipe. Ya estuvimos. Primer milagro. Pudimos ayudarle visitar a los jóvenes para comprometerles a ir a la actividad. Después, Felipe nos acompañó a una lección que no íbamos a hacer hasta el próximo día, pero quería aprovechar que ya teníamos Felipe con nosotros. Al llegar supimos que el investigador no hubiese estado el próximo día por que tenía que ir a Santiago. Tuvimos una lección buenísima con la ayuda del testimonio de Felipe. Otro milagro. Después, fuimos a visitar a una vecina menos activa de Felipe. Ella nos dijo que se sentía sola y necesitaba una visita este día. Pudimos contestar algunas dudas de ella sobre el plan de salvación y sacarle de una depresión que estaba empezando. Un milagro más. Gracias a la guía del Espíritu Santo después de haber sido probado, Dios nos bendijo con tres grandes milagros. Estoy tan agradecido por la misericordia de Dios y la bendición de tener el don del Espíritu Santo.
Esta mañana leí una escritura que pensé que a usted le gustaría. Alma 57:26 dice, ''Y su [diligencia] fue asombrosa para todo nuestro ejército/misión, sí, que ellos hubiesen sido [guiados] mientras que hubo un millar de nuestros hermanos que fueron [bautizados]. Y lo atribuimos con justicia al milagroso poder de Dios, por motivo de su extraordinaria fe en lo que se les había enseñado a creer: que había un Dios justo, y que todo aquel que no dudara, sería [guiado] por su maravilloso poder.''
Que tenga una semana excelente presidente. Le quiero mucho! Elder Long :) ''
I know that the Lord lives and loves us. He wants to guide us. He won´t always give us the solution to our problems, but rather we have to truly take that step of faith. If it´s a wrong step, He´ll let us know and redirect us. Otherwise, He´ll simply confirm the decision and walk by our side. How grateful I am for repentance so that we can live worthy of the constant companionship of the gift of the Holy Ghost. I testify that the blessings come after the trial.
Hey fam bam! First I want to send a big thanks to Grandma Lenna for sending me a package! We´ve been enjoying the snackage! Other big news, we´re having cambios (transfers) tomorrow. I´m staying here in Yumbel and will receive Elder Murphy who has about 6 months in the mission. Elder Ballesteros will go further south to Maquehue. Elder McOmie (my roommate) is being transfered to another sector in my same zone, and Elder Miller´s new companion is Elder Ramos (Argentina) who is also staying within the zone (coming from Laja). I´m excited, because I have good hopes for Elder Murphy. This will be his second sector. Also, just a fun FYI, my son Elder París will be training! He´s so capo (awesome).
That´s fun to hear that you guys finally got one of those ATV truck things. I´ve only ALWAYS wanted one....haha. Be sure that it´s still there by the time I get home!
Trina asked me about Halloween in Chile. They definitely don´t celebrate it how we do in the States, nor is it anything similar to Día de Muerte in Mexico. They put up a few decorations and call it good. Same for Christmas. Haha lame!
How random that Deanne and Lorinda went to China! How cool! Send me some pics when you can.
I have a ton of pictures to send, but I left my adapter at home and now can´t send any. Ha. Gwenk. Sorry! But next week I´ll send a bunch.
I just want to remind you about the invitation from one of the Lord´s chosen apostles to TALK TO AT LEAST ONE PERSON ABOUT THE GOSPEL BY CHRISTMAS. You have about a month. Sounds like Dad has been doing great with several coworkers. Good luck to Lacey who lives in Happy Valley...ha. But I want to state that I have experienced the joy that comes from helping others learn more about the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know it´s all true. Simple as that. The Lord lives and loves us. What a marvelous truth. He has given us so much. What will you give Him for Christmas? Have a wonderful week!