Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Letter May 28, 2013

Hey fambam,
This week was quite the crazy week! Our zone leaders implemented in our zone a new pilot program recently approved by President Martinez. The zone leaders have done it in only their sector for two months, have seen a lot of success, and now President has approved to have the entire zone try it out. If it proves to be successful, the entire mission will put in into affect. Basically it changes the ENTIRE way we work down here, so it's been an adventure getting everything ready to make the change. But it's been fun and we've already seen some good results. The zone leaders in Cañete doubled their church attendance over the past month (from 85 to 210), so we're excited for what we can do to help this small branch of Curanilahue do the same if not better. Our branch president and branch mission leader are excited, so I'll keep you updated!

As we reviewed this new ''Operation Alma (soul),'' I had my mind broadly opened. To me before the mission, church was always just a place to go each Sunday. Obviously each person must live the gospel every day, but as far as the purpose of having wards and stakes, it just seemed like a simple way to organize who occupies the building so that it's not overcrowded. Correct me if I don't speak for most LDS members that almost all of us think the same way. Allow me to blow your mind for a moment:
The purpose of each branch, ward, stake, or unit in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to prepare the respective members for the fulfillment of the last two prophecies that have yet to come to pass: 1) The Gathering of the House of Israel, 2) the Second Coming. Just as President Gordon B. Hinckley stated, all members need the following three things: 
1) A friend
2) An Assignment
3) To be nourished by the good word (AKA continue learning).
All of the auxiliary organizations like Home Teaching, Relief Society, Seminary, Sunday School, Visiting Teaching, etc are to fulfill these three things and prepare the members for the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. I never understood that before the mission. I simply attended church and didn't smoke or drink. I always figured that the missionaries work so hard in their gig while we just try to endure to the end. But I missed the point that the reason I was assigned to be a home teacher was to be a friend and help someone else endure to the end--not just pass by once a month. I missed the point that any and all assignments are to help the ward run smoothly so that the leaders and members can focus on the Lord's great work--gathering His children to prepare them for the 2nd Coming (AKA baptism and confirmation). I missed the point that all the classes and early mornings in seminary were to prepare me to be on the front lines of the defense against Satan as He intends to let the world go up in flames (and he is rapidly succeeding).
Being a member of the church is just for one's own personal salvation. Salvation isn't personal. No one can do it without fully living this gospel, and no one can fully live the gospel of Jesus Christ without helping others progress towards their Savior. It's what He requires of us if He is to forgive us of our sins.
I'm so grateful that the Spirit helped me come to such a mind-opening and life-changing realization. I did everything so wrong for so long. Each ward needs to be one team with the missionaries to help the Lord with His great work. I hope and pray that when I come home I don't let myself backtrack to the same level of thinking that I just have to show up at church and obey the commandments. It's not sufficient if I want to reach the Celestial Kingdom where Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ dwell.
Love you! Thanks for putting up with my rants! Have a great week!
Elder Long :)

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