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.