Monday, April 29, 2013

April 22, 2013

Hey loved ones,

What a week! It went by so quickly with so much traveling! First off, Thanks so much to those who write me so often! I always love having to try to race through my emails to try to read all of them. Sorry that I don´t always get to respond personally, but don't feel unappreciated. Also, I got two very exciting letters from Sarah Mendenhall and my Aussie Twinner Alissa--who sent me her engagement announcement!!!! Wahhooo!!! I don't know if you've gotten my letters, but thanks so much for sending me the wedding invitation! Congrats! Sarah, I had actually written you a week before I recieved your letter to me haha so I'll be sending you a reply soon.

This week we had a mission-wide conference in the which Elder Zwick of the Seventy came. He's been a 70 since before I was born, and frankly I think the Lord is just waiting for an opening to bump him up to the apostleship. It was a fantastic conference. I've always admired my mission President Martinez for his wonderfully optimistic attitude. One of my favorite quotes from his talk this week was, ''No matter what the weather may be, I always see the sun brightly shining.'' That really got me thinking about the power of perspective. I've been working so hard to keep that quote in mind all week. Despite the rainy days we've had down here (and they are not few), I try to see the sun/Son brightly shining. I know that the Light of Christ is what truly illuminates our soul to have a desire  to help others. It's what makes us sorrow to see others in pain. It's what makes us smile when we see others happy. It's what makes us rejoice when we are obedient to our Master. I've had wonderful, tender experiences lately of being filled with the Light of Christ to the point where I truly see others as they are: sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. It's an incredible feeling to look around me and see the beautiful creations of our Maker, recognize my Chilean brothers and sisters that walk the streets with me, and have the magnificent opportunity to help them obtain the same vision that I have--that is, return to live with Heavenly Father again. I know it's possible through the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know He lives, and I know that it's worth it to endure to the end. It's not easy, but it is so much more worth it than we can comprehend.

Much love to you,

Elder Long :)

Tracting life

The fog in the morning is reeallly thick!

Elder Hamilton is really batman!

Is anyone of the House of Israel home?

Zone conference

Zone conference

5 generations of Elders: Elder Pond, Ramon, Torres, Long and Paris

SPAC teammates will understand

Pictures with Elder Paris

Hillside view of the city

Elder Paris overlooking the neighborhood

Should we tract this?

Pictures from Chile

Typical street in Chile

Another not so typical street in Chile

Best investigator at this house

April 29, 2013

Hey loved ones,
This week was full of adventures. I have quite the story to tell you, but it will have to wait until I get home. Ask me about Eduardo Cid 14 months from now... Have you seen the Church video of John Tanner? It would help if you watch that. That is all ;)
This past weekend our little branch of Curanilahue took a bus up to the Santiago temple. I so miss being able to go to the temple frequently. It has definitely helped my appreciation for such a wonderful opportunity to have a temple so close to home in Vegas. Lacey and Tyler, now that you´re driving, I HIIIIIIGGGHHLLYYY encourage you to take Bridgette and maybe even a friend or two and go to baptisms in the temple at least once a month. It is so worth it. I´m such a fool for not doing that throughout highschool. Learn from my mistake! Doing the Lord´s work of ''bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man'' is the most important thing you can ever do with your time. Yes, work is important. Yes, school is vital. Yes, being with friends is great. But don't miss the opportunity to help your Heavenly Father with His important work. Once a month is so little. It's just a few hours that will bring an eternity of blessings. Do everything to keep yourselves worthy to enter the temple and receive the many blessings He wants to give you.
Friday night as Elder París and I were walking home, we saw a drunken man passed out face down on the side of the road. Knowing he would die during the night from the cold on the top of that mountainside, we awoke him to help him get home. He claimed to be able to recognize his house, and he began to guide us down the hill. After José had taken us down several steep streets descending the side of the mountain, we passed another man and decided to ask him if he recognized José. He told us he recognized him and that he lived in the opposite direction. He was also drunk, and José insisted that he lived further down the hill, so we continued the descent. We passed another group of people, and they also told us that José lived at the top. We did our best to convince him that we were trying to help him get home and that his house was up the hill, but José only wanted to keep going further down to where he was sure he belonged.
As I pondered this experience, I realized the powerful influence that Satan had on this poor, lost man. Satan spends all of his time, effort, and power to tear us down and bring us lower. He wants us to fail. He wants us to forget who we are and where we come from so that we never achieve who we can become and where we can go. José had a comfortable house at the top of the mountain, yet despite his friends, neighbors, and help from the Lord´s servants, his only desire was to go lower and lower until he could disappear into the abiss of the dark night. I testify that the Savior Jesus Christ lives and loves us. I know that He desperately wants to be involved in our lives, just as Satan desires to have influence in our lives. It is up to us to decide whom we allow to guide us--whether we will be brought down to bitterness and suffering, or lifted up to happiness and love.
Have a wonderful week!
Much love,

Elder Long :)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Baptism of Claudia!

Baptism of Claudia!

Claudia's baptism!

Semana Santa lights Chilean Vegas style!

Preaching to Every Creature!

Preaching to every creature!

Elder Rabanales 9 months left, 9 months down for Elder Long- but who's counting?

Construction Chilean style- how many are working?

Hey fambam,

This week was a pretty emotionally taxing week, HOWEVER, we ended it with a splash! For the past month we´ve been working with Claudia, a 26 yr old that studies in Concepcion during the week and visits her family here in Chue on the weekends. It made teaching her a challenge, but she sure compensated! She amazed us with her strong desire to really study and learn. During the week she frequently visited and read and re-read pamphlets we gave her. She immediately accepted everything we taught her and told us she knew it was true. I was so bewildered by her rapid progress that I had to ask what on earth motivated her to listen to us and investigate so much in addition to her already extremely busy study schedule. She told us that about a year ago she had met with sister missionaries a few times and she loved it, but due to her college classes she was unable to keep meeting with them and they lost contact. When my companion and I came along, she had already decided to go through with it this time. Actually, I´m pretty sure I told you about her a few weeks ago--she was the young lady that we found 15 mins before curfew and attended church that next morning! She´s been a huge miracle, and I feel like it´s a direct blessing for having worked so hard for so long with little apparrant success. So the Lord blessed us with someone that we simply had to teach and she would do the rest. It´s been amazing! She asked me to baptize her and we had a fantastic baptismal service. It really strengthened my testimony that the Lord truly is preparing people for us. She brings me such great joy everytime we see her huge smile as she walks through the chapel doors as if she had been a member for years already. 

Quick random sidenote: Lacey and Bridgie, I have an assignment for you. I came across a song that I fell in love with, and I want to perform it with you two when I get back. It´s called ''Garden Walls'' by Mindy Gledhill. I love pretty much all of her songs, but this one just seems to speak to me. I want Bridgie to learn the violin part, Lacey can sing it, and when I come home I´ll learn the piano part. It´s suuuupppperrr wonderful. I´d love to perform it with you two in a sacrament meeting or somethin :)

Tyler and Ben, I´m sure you two would get a kick out of the video ''Pollito Pio'' by BloggerItalia. It´s a huge thing down here in Chile right now. Stinkin song gets stuck in your head so easily...haha.

Ok, back to spiritual stuff! I just want to quickly remind you that I know that this really is the restored church of Jesus Christ. I know He lives and directs His church through the modern prophet Thomas S. Monson. I know the Book of Mormon is true, and I´m so grateful for this marvelous opportunity to dedicate all my time to helping other people find out the truth for themselves too. Have a wonderful week!

Much love,

Elder Long :)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Pday at the Beach in Lebu

Missionary power!

Tracting on the Shores

Beach in Lebu 

Elder Long watching conference April 2013

Sign says" If you're going to drink, turn in your keys"

Elder Long and Elder Kuhler eating their way through conference!

They got to watch it in their own room in English at the chapel!

April 8, 2013

Hey fambam! 
What a wonderful weekend! I absolutely looooooved General Conference! It of course made me way trunky because I wanted to be with all of you eating Mum´s delicious morning breakfast of either crumb cake or cinnamon rolls! But I still enjoyed it, of course. I was so moved by so many of the talks. Among the many messages recieved, the themes repeated most often were Christ-centered families, chastity and morality, and member missionary work. Wahoo!  I even got to watch a bit of the world report--what happened in New York??! A couple people had told me a while ago that there had been a bad storm in the United States, but I had no idea a huge hurricane had caused so much damage in New York and New Jersey! Wow. Ah, my time is so short today because we took a fun trip to the beach in Lebu, but I have a couple quick experiences I wanted to share:

Last week our recent convert Bersabet was going to take a weekend trip to visit her aunt in Nacimiento and was thus going to miss church. I wanted to at least have her commit to read the Book of Mormon while she was gone. She had several excuses of why not to do it (she has a difficult time reading), but I soon felt impressed to make her a promise. I felt with surety that I could promise her in the name of Christ that if she read the Book of Mormon while she was gone, she wouldn´t have her normal back pains throughout her trip. Honestly, that promise has nothing to do with reading a book. But I knew that the Lord would hold up this promise if it would bless her life. When she returned the following Thursday, we asked her how it went and how she felt. She told us that one night she finally read and the entire next day she didn´t have even the slightest back pain. I felt so great knowing that the Lord had honored the promise of a humble young boy to a meek elderly woman. Both of our faith was strengthened in the Lord´s power to fulfill His promises.

A month ago our zone leaders were passing through Curanilahue to drop off a few items for us missionaries. They couldn´t get off the bus, but we weren´t able to meet them in time, so they left the items with a girl named Monica on the side of the road. We thanked her, and even tried to visit her later because she was so friendly, but we never found her again. A week ago as I was walking with Elder París, we talked to a sweet young girl and her grandfather who gave us their address. We finally passed by this week and she excitedly let us in to talk. As we chatted, I asked her if she had ever listened to missionaries before. She told us no, but that she had done a pair of missionaries a favor once. A lightbulb flashed as I realized that she was the same Monica! Neither of us recognized each other, but I knew it was no coincidence that God helped us find her again. We had a great discussion about baptism, and she´s excited to learn more. I´ll keep you updated!ç

The Lord lives and works miracles even nowadays. I know it! He answers prayers and wants to bless us. Even moreso, He WANTS to forgive us. He wants to help us. We just need to let Him. Love you!

Elder Long :)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Tanner is a trainer!

Little Ben the missionary too!

Sunset in Chilean mountainside community

Tanner's new "son" his 1st trainee Elder Paris (Santiago, Chile)

Letter April 1, 2013

Hey fambam!

So it磗 been quite the week! Tuesday I stayed in Coronel to do divisions with my old MTC companion Elder Tengberg. We had a blast and I had some great spiritual experiences of being guided by the Spirit in what to say. We met with an ex-bishop that is now inactive because he wanted to tell us his story. I was praying so hard the entire time to know what to do, and the Lord sure helped us. Wednesday morning the both of us headed to Concepci髇 to pick up our sons. We were so excited! It was so cool to sit in the chapel and see all the nervious new missionaries haha. Especially because 20 new sister missionaries arrived to our mission. Seventeen of them were little American girls straight from the States, and I felt like the BYU 42nd ward had arrived in Chile...haha. It was weird, but of course we磖e excited to have more missionaries serving with us. My young new companion is Elder Tom醩 Par韘, from Santiago, Chile. Wooo!!! He磗 an excellent young man, and he already is a great teacher. We had fun working together this week. It certainly makes my job easier that he already speaks Spanish. He actually speaks English pretty well too! Well, more or less haha but he loves to practice every day.

Thanks so much for the emails and especially Aunt Paula for the wonderful Easter present! Thank you for being so generous! Mum, I got several pictures of you and Dad on your trip and then one of the boys at the ward breakfast and of Lacey and Bridgie in their pretty new dresses. Aw man I was so jealous as I started thinking about how delicious that breakfast must have been....

Easter was interesting. This entire week the Catholic church was doing a big Week of Pascua and had parades, crucified 创Jesus,创 did candle worship things, and blessed olive tree branches. Very interesting beliefs. How grateful I am that the Church of Jesus Christ not just honors our Saviors death but recognizes that He lives. I know He lives. Our little branch didn磘 do anything special on Sunday for Easter which was kind of a bummer, but afterwards during lunch with a member we watched a video called 创Sue駉s de Pascua.`` It should translate to something similar to 创Dreams of Easter创 but I磎 not actually sure. It磗 an old Church video from the 80`s haha. Despite how cheesy it seemed at first, I had to fight back tears as the Holy Ghost testified to me the truth of the messaga that Christ is resurrected. I kept thinking of Gary the whole time too. I so look forward to getting to seem them both someday. I know where they are and I know that they are doing everything possible to help us return to live with them again someday soon. 

This week as I studied faith, I learned something great from the Spanish scriptures. The GEE (similar to the Bible Dictionary in the English version) defines faith as 创confidence in Jesus Christ that causes obedience to Him... Strong faith is developed through obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The lack of faith causes desperation, anguish, and hopelessness, which are results of iniquity (sin).创 Everyday I hear someone preach to me about how faith is everything and all we need, but they don磘 understand what faith means. Faith in Christ causes us to be obedient to Him and live righteously. As we do so, we will be happier as we avoid the pains and woes of sin. Faith in the Resurrected Christ also gives us the hope to be happy despite life磗 difficulties. It磗 simple: Live the gospel principles leads to increased faith in Christ which leads to happiness (and eternal life, which is described as everlasting happiness). Truly living the gospel means more than just showing up at church meetings. Living the gospel is paying attention, learning, repenting, and being diligently obedient to all of God磗 commandments. By doing so, we will have the comfort, strength, and peace that we need to overcome any and all of life磗 difficulties and return to live with our Heavenly Father and Christ and our families for all of eternity. I know it.

Have a wonderful week! Love you!

Elder Long :)

BBQ in Chile

BBQ on the roof!

Benjamin drew a picture of Tanner as Elder Spartacus!

Bomberos of Chile (firemen)

Letter March 25, 2013

Hey loved ones! I磎 glad you (mum and dad) had fun on your trip and that you returned home safely. I so look forward to getting to sight-see with my future wife some day. Tyler, you are a goof ball. There was a guy in my ward at BYU while I was on tour with SPAC that wore a kilt and full scottish outfit including the big red beard. Unfortunately he wasn磘 Scottish nor did he have an accent, but it was still fun to see. Turns out he had lost a bet and the deal was he had to wear the kilt everywhere for 30 days straight. I wonder if it ever got washed...haha. Ok, back to the mission: This transfer was shortened by two weeks due to some MTC changes, so it was only 4 weeks instead of 6. My Mexican companion Elder Tapia has been transfered to Puren, and I磍l be staying here. I got sick again on Tuesday, and on Saturday the mission president磗 assistant called me to tell me it磗 probably because I磎 pregnant. I磍l be meeting my son on Wednesday in Concepcion! I still don磘 know if he磍l be a gringo or a latino (which makes a world of difference), but I磍l let you know next Monday. For those of you that don磘 speak 创Mormon,创 I磛e been assigned to train a new missionary coming fresh from home. Wooh. No pressure...haha. I don磘 have much more news than that, so I磎 going to answer some of Dad磗 questions.

1. 燞ow often do members feed you vs. eating on your own?
In this sector we磖e very blessed to have church members volunteer to feed us lunch each day. Lunch is the biggest meal and dinner doesn磘 exist, so we usually just have cereal or oatmeal or an apple for breakfast. Every once in a while a member forgets and we have to cook for ourselves, but we get creative haha.
2. 燱hat are you eating when you feed yourselves and what are you eating that is healthy?
The fruit down here is super delicious (except I think watermelon in the States is better) so I love treating myself to an apple a day. When we feed ourselves, it磗 usually quite the opposite (aka tacos, scones, sandwhiches, etc). Luckily the members in this branch usually remember us!
3. 燳ou 爉entioned the wonderful tender mercy of the girl you taught at the end of your燬aturday. 燚o you have any regular pool of investigators or less active that you are working with?
Our pool of investigators is lamentably small lately (actually, my whole mission ha). We have about 1000 members here and about 85 that are more or less active, so there磗 a large pool of less active members to work with. The hardest part of each day is having people be home when we pass by. I have an odd talent for spending an entire day without finding anyone home whether or not we had previously set appointments...ha ;P
4. 營 understand Chili has a lot of members but a lot of inactivity. 燚o you work with the less active?
That磗 actually one of our main focuses in this mission: Strengthen the ward, reactivate members, and retain converts. We磖e trying a new technique as of last week where we磍l spend most of our time with inactives to help them get back on track, in the which we磍l also baptize part-member families and meet nonmember friends. It磗 proven successful!
5. 營t was fun to hear the quick Video of our燬panish. 燞ow is the language coming for you. 燗re you feeling comfortable with your vocab skills?
I can communicate pretty freely now, but there磗 still a lot of words I don磘 know. I can usually understand almost everything with the exception of a few people that mumble or speak 创flaite创 (gangster/uneducated). I rarely have to stop to think about conjugation, but when we aren磘 talking about the gospel, my vocabulary isn磘 that broad haha. Especially because Chile has so many words that are used ONLY in Chile....
6. 燞ow has having the other international companions(Mexico, Argentina, etc. 爃elp your燬panish爋verall? 燞ow much English do you speak with the other gringo? 營f you are speaking english with the other gringo, do the燬panish爀lders feel left out?
Having a native Spanish speaker companion changes a lot. It磗 a huge help as far as keeping Spanish skills tip-top shape. When I lived with 3 other gringos, all of our Spanish skills diminuated pretty badly haha. Sometimes I磍l speak English with my gringo roommate, but we usually try not to so the others don磘 feel left out. However, they are under strict command to learn English, so we alternate depending on the situation. Spanglish is defintitely the most common between the 4 of us :)
7. 燞ow involved with the ward leaders are the missionary in leadership meetings in Chili as far as contacting new move ins or less active?
It definitely depends on the ward. The small branch I磎 in right now has had some major difficulties with apostate missionaries and members, so we磖e currently in the process of gaining back trust. It磗 a rough road to walk, but it磗 got to be done. Last week we finally got a ward mission leader to work with, so we磍l see how that goes! :)
8. 燚o you have an active ward mission leader who helps you?
Ah, I can prophesy. See question above ;)
9. 燨n P-day, do you do your own wash at a laundry mat or do you have washers and dryers爏omewhere爓ith members.
Washers and dryers are still a very recent luxery down here, so only really rich people have them. Luckily, we磛e been blessed to have a mamita that we pay to wash our clothes each week. I磛e never seen a laundromat in Chile...
10. 燱e燼bsolutely爈ove the pictures and and爀xplanations. 燭he area looks pretty humble compared to the US. 燱hat is the general economic status of the area you are serving in?
Right now I磎 in Curanilahue, a small town in the mountains. People have cars, but they are extremely old and falling apart. I磎 often amazed to pass by a raggedy hut and realize that an entire family lives there. Most of the houses are made out of old wood and rusted metal sheets. Our apartments our actually the nicest part of town. But there are obviously still several very large, very pretty houses where richer people live. It磗 just a different living-standard down here. It always cracks me up when I walk into a tiny, metal home and then see an extremely pricey sound system in the 创living room.创 Silly people and our weird priorities!
11. How are you sleeping?
Sleep? What? Haha no, a bit better. Minus the fact that we live across the street from the fire department. We are usually woken up each morning at 3am by the siren that alerts the volunteer firemen to run to the station. The alarm sounds like a city-wide warning for earthquakes or the Apocalypse. It磗 not a pleasant sound to wake up to...haha.

So that磗 that. Let me know any other questions you may have! Have a wonderful week! Love you!
Elder Long :)

Filling the Baptismal Font again!

Baptism of Bersabeth

Elder Watt MTC twin ties

Elder Kuhler, Tanner, Bersabeth, Elder Tapia, Elder Farias

Missionary life in Chile

proud face of rubric cube champion

Finally learned how to do a Rubrix cube from Elder Bogado (Paraguay)

Elder Aparicio captured one of the HUGE nasty spiders. Crazy!

Tracking up mountains of Lebu

Walking the bridge with Elder Aparicio (Colombia)

Intercambio in Lebu (beachside)

Spiders are EVERYWHERE in Chile

Letter March 18, 2013

Hello hello hello! What a week. I think I say that everytime, don磘 I? haha. First, a few quick items of business:

Where did Tera buy the Angel Moroni tie that we wore at Gary磗 funeral? I wear it often and everyone always loves it and wants to know where I got it. Thanks, Tera, for such a wonderful remembrant of Uncle Gary. I often feel like we磖e both doing the same kind of work, just on opposite sides of this life.

I got a letter from BYU folk dancers! It made me sooo happy! It had tons of messages that said, 创merry christmas创 haha so that made me laugh. I hope at least a few of them are reading this so they can know how extremely grateful I am for their kinds words and encouragement!

Random funny story: We get told many times a day by people in the streets about the new Catholic pope. Many times. If you haven磘 heard yet, he磗 from Argentina, making him the first American pope. It dawned on me that a song I heard during senior year of highschool prophesied this grand event. If I remember correctly, the band磗 name is 创We no Speak Americano.创 We love to entertain ourselves while walking the streets by singing, 创Papa Americano!创 hahaha. If you have no idea what I磎 talking about, look up the video haha.

Yesterday I gave a talk during church as asked by the branch president. I was allotted 15 mins and assigned to speak about the Restoration. Simple. The first speaker finished quickly, and I was left with about 35 minutes. I feel like I really was lead by the Spirit of what to say--what the people in that room needed to hear. I felt good about my talk. I filled the whole time-slot and felt like I left everyone with a stronger desire to read the Book of Mormon. I was happy. I found out later that day that there was supposed to be a third speaker: the stake presidency磗 first counselor. Ha. No one told me, and I had taken up the rest of the time left in the meeting. Soooo....ya. We磍l see if our branch president ever asks me to speak again...haha. I felt like crap. And several people have ensured me that they were not happy that they didn磘 get to hear him speak. Yay! :D

This week during an intercambio in Lebu, I learned how to complete a Rubix Cube! I felt cool haha. What I liked best though was after a long day of work just getting to hang out with my friends from Colombia, Paraguay, and Argentina. It磗 so fun to see how similar/different we are depending on where we were raised. It磗 also a wonderful testament to me to see that no matter where you are in the world, the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is always the same. Christ lives, He restored His church and priesthood authority through a living prophet, and we can be forgiven of our sins and live with Him again if we live His restored gospel.

Last Saturday our progressing investigator suddenly told us she didn磘 want to get baptized. It was a drastic 180 and wasn磘 very good news considering her baptism was scheduled for the following Saturday. Her Evangelical neighbor had talked her out of it by telling her that a month wasn磘 enough preparation to get baptized. Through much fervent prayer, many long discussions, and the help of the Lord, we were able to help Bersabeth reconfirm that she did indeed meet the Lord磗 requirements to be baptized. I can磘 say that I did anything, because I know I didn磘. No matter how much my companion and I explained or taught, she wouldn磘 change her mind. Finally, she offered a humble, simple prayer and the Lord answered. To all of us. What a great feeling to know that Bersabeth truly felt the Holy Ghost testify to her that this is indeed the true church of Christ with His power and authority to baptize. It磗 been an eventful week, but we were blessed with a fantastic baptismal service. The Spirit was so strong and I was so grateful that several inactive members and one of our investigators attended. I know that everyone felt the confirmation that what we teach and claim in this church is true. It磗 either all true, or it磗 all a lie. We can磘 teach great things that help people come unto Christ yet be lying about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. This is either Christ磗 true organized church restored to the earth, or everything we do and believe is a lie. It磗 simple. It磗 somewhat harsh to say, but I promise that it磗 the truth. 

I give my personal witness that the Book of Mormon is true. Joseph Smith really did translate it from ancient manuscript through the power of God. A person will get closer to Christ by reading that book and abiding by its precepts than by any other book on earth. I know it.

Have a wonderful week! 
Much love,
Elder Long :)