Wednesday, April 3, 2013

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 :)

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