Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tanner waiting in the Santiago, Chile airport June 17, 2014

 A super sweet stranger found Tanner and his fellow missionaries waiting in the Santiago, Chile airport today and took a picture and then sent it to me- and assumably the other parents of the other missionaries. What a sweet gift from a stranger. We're soooooo excited to see Tanner tomorrow at the LV McCarran airport at 10 a.m. Delta airlines coming in from Atlanta, GA. If you can make it, come join us at the airport for his triumphal entry!
Waiting in the Santiago, Chile airport to come home!

Last letter home until he's home! June 16, 2014

My beloved family! I just finished my last interview with my dear friend, mentor, and mission president. He has helped me sooooo much over these past few years. How weeeiiiiirrdddd to think that I've been here for two years!

I certainly can't express my deep feelings of gratitude and comfort as I've felt Heavenly Father's Spirit confirm to me that He is pleased with my humble offering. Thank you so much for your prayers that I would feel that spiritual confirmation. What a blessing. I'm so filled with gratitude towards the Lord and President Martinez. It has been an immense privilege to serve with them. It's such a surreal feeling that it's suddenly over. I wish I could keep working with the next presdient, President Bluth, and continue learning and growing, but I understand that the Lord has new challenges and opportunities to learn planned for me. 

Fun facts about serving in Pitrufquen: I hadn't seen the sun pretty much since I arrived because it is CONSTANTLY raining. We have ''waterproof'' clothes (that really stop being waterproof after about an hour in the rain), and an umbrella, but the wind makes the rain come sideways. Actually, I'll be coming home with some pretty ripped arms from fighting wind with an umbrella... more or less. 

This past week was rather perfect. Tuesday I had the WORST exchange of my entire mission; it was pouring rain and NOONE let us in the entire day. Ha. But then came Wednesday morning, and Marco and Alejandra were married, and she was then baptized Saturday afternoon. What a huge joy and excitement to complete that family and see them now so strong in the church! Immediately after the baptism I ran to take a bus to travel up north to Los Angeles. Sunday morning I attended church with my beloved ward Villa Obispo, ate lunch with my dear Pauvif family, and had a farewell party in the evening with families and friends that I met since the beginning of my mission. 

The best part of all was listening to my converts testify of the gospel, rejoice in their temple marriage, and feel their love. It's a joy that I can't describe. What a huge blessing to see them and be with them again. I can leave Chile trusting that they will continue strong and happy as they strive to live the gospel. I love the Lord. I hope to always remember His mercy and generosity. Who knows what the Lord has in store for me in the future, but I trust Him and all of His wise decisions. Family, I love you. Thank you so much for you support, prayers, and emails over these two years. I'll see you Wednesday morning at 10 in the Vegas airport. This is my last time signing off as ''Elder,'' and I do so with gratitude in my heart and with joy in my soul for the opportunity to serve my Savior and Master. 

Much love,

Elder Long :)
July 2012-2014

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Join us for Tanner's Homecoming from Chile!

Elder Tanner Long has completed an honorable 2 year mission serving in the Chile, Concepcion South mission for the LDS church. We hope you've enjoyed all the pictures and posts so you could experience a part of his service with him virtually! He has learned so much and loved sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the beautiful people of Chile.
Please let us know if you'd like to join us for any of 3 events:
1. Triumphant entry into the United States and Las Vegas at the airport!
He arrives at 10 a.m. Wed. June 18th on Delta airlines from Atlanta, GA to the LV McCarran Airport. He will have been traveling for over 24 hours including his layovers. We'd love to have you join us at the airport to scream and cheer and greet him with hugs and posters. Please let us know if you can join us and call me (his mom Tracey) at 702-301-9560.

2. His formal homecoming talk will be Sunday June 29th (my twin and my birthday!) at the Hacienda Heights Ward building at 1 p.m. during sacrament meeting.  Address: 6325 W. Hacienda Ave. LV, NV 89118.

3. Homecoming meet/greet/eat at our home that same day after church Sunday June 29th at 5 p.m.
Please email/rsvp me at longforhome@gmail.com and I'll give you directions.

Thanks for all your support of Tanner while he served his mission!
Love, Tanner's family who are so excited we could scream!
Goofball Elder Tanner Long serving one smile after another!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Warming weary feet

Warming wet shoes by the fire

Tanner's last pday letter home!

My dear fambam! My beloved companion keeps reminding me that today is my last P-day....ha. However, I'm pretty sure I'll get to send off a quick message next Monday before leaving.

Oh, by the way, surprise! I have pday today! haha. In my last letter I said I wouldn't, but then President changed his mind so that we could get some last-minute shopping done and cut our hair before our conference on Friday. This is going to be quite the crazy week. We have four baptismal interviews to do on Tuesday in varias nearby towns (best types of problems to solve) and then Friday is our last mission conference. I have just three full days of intense work to make it the best week ever, and then we'll have a baptism Saturday afternoon and I have to start my travels up north immediately afterwards. I'm soooooo excited and grateful that the Lord has blessed us soooo much that I'll be able to end my mission with a baptism!

Alejandra is the girlfriend of an inactive member, Marcos, who strongly opposed his participation in the Church when he was baptized two years ago. However, after his brother was killed, the missionaries gave a blessing of peace to them and their home, and she's done a 180 degree change. The both of them have progressed soooo well because they ALWAYS read the Book of Mormon every day, they always read the pamphlets we leave them, and they have attended church each week. They get married this Wednesday and she'll be baptized for the remission of her sins Saturday so that she'll be worthy to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying of hands on Sunday. What a wonderful opportunity to know about and participate in such sacred ordinances of Christ's plan of our salvation and eternal happiness. Wahooo!!! :D

Speaking of the importance of the Book of Mormon, this week my testimony of it's power was renewed. We entered into the house of a young mother and father (each only 20 yrs old) and their three young children and began discussing about the gospel. As Evangelicals, their entire focus of everything is the Holy Ghost, or Spirit of God. Actually, they told us that earlier that afternoon in their church service, three or four people were ''baptized by the Spirit and spoke in languages.'' They taught us about the Pentecost and the importance of speaking in languages to prove that someone has received the Spirit. We had a rather long and non-progressive discussion as we shared scriptures like Acts 19 to try to help them understand the difference between feeling the Spirit and receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and the importance of the ordinance as Christ's chosen Apostles teach it. The young father didn't let us talk much, and it was frustrating. They struggled to understand (and frankly didn't want to), and I didn't know what else to do. While I silently prayed, I felt very strongly to simply explain and testify about the Book of Mormon.

I pulled out a copy, explained the importance of the restored scriptures and their extreme usefulness in knowing the correct way to receive the Holy Ghost as a constant companion, and my companion and I testified. The two young parents were completely silent. Captivated. They asked for copies and began to immediately scan the pages. We left them with an assigned chapter to read and with the invitation to pray to ask Heavenly Father of the book's veracity. 

Wow was the Spirit strong in that house as we testified about the Book of Mormon. There could be no argument that I knew for myself that that book is completely true and divinely inspired and protected. Heavenly Father is so merciful to allow young teenagers and 20-yr-olds preach His gospel for the salvation and happiness of His children. I'm certainly no expert at doctrine nor even in the Spanish language, thus I am so extremely grateful for God's powerful tool to conversion--the Book of Mormon, which can be read, studied, compared to the Bible, and put to the ultimate test of prayer. I know for myself that this restored gospel of Jesus Christ is true. And I know it because I know that the Book of Mormon is true scripture from our loving Heavenly Father whose sole desire is to prepare us to return to live in His presence and become like Him. What a blessing!

Have a wonderful week! I sure love you. See you next week!

Elder Long :)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Missionary moments

Zone meetings and more new missionaries!

An average evening on the streets of Pitrufquen

First ceiling fan Tanner has seen in 2 years- check out how it's fastened to the ceiling!

Letter 6/2/14

Hey fambam! I sure hope you're enjoying the sunny weather because it's been raining ALLLLLLL week here!!! Sometimes it helps us get into more houses because we can try to use a pity factor, but other times they don't want us getting their house wet or muddy...haha.

First off, happy birthday Lacey and Tyler!!! Have a fantastic week you old geezers!!! I sure love you both.

Para que sepais, we don't have Pday next Monday because we're going to have a mission activity on Friday the 13 and that will count as our Pday.

This week our power got cut, so Elder Trudeau and I lived by candle-light for a few days haha. It was pretty fun yet certainly renewed my gratitude for electricity!!!

We're teaching a part-member family that Elder Trudeau found with his companion the day before I arrived. Marcos (member) and Alejandra (girlfriend) have been progressing really well. They have been soooo great about always reading what we assign them. They plan to get married this next week and she'll be baptized on Saturday the 14th, my last weekend in the mission!!!! :D I'm praying soooo hard that all goes well and especially that they can get married ASAP so that there are no problems with her getting baptized. What a joy to get to teach a young family and help them affirm themselves to Christ while they raise their little 2 yr old daughter. 

This morning in my personal study I came across a verse in Alma 38:5 that I really liked. It reads:

''And now my son, Shiblon, I would that ye should remember, that as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day.''

It made me think about how God doesn't take away our problems or give us a worry-free life; rather, He strengthens us through confidence, trust, and hope that will carry us through life's trials and difficulties. I'm so grateful that Heavenly Father loves me, and it helps me trust that all will be well as long as I am obedient to Him. I love the Lord and I love serving Him. Have a wonderful week!

Elder Long :)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Living the missionary life!

Elder Trudeau and Elder Tanner Long posing for the GQ magazine of LDS Living!

Hna Voyles from the Boices LV ward is now serving with Tanner!

Another favorite Chilean family. Javiera successfully completed chemotherapy

Last transfer! May 27, 2014

Hey fambam!

Sorry I'm a day late again; we had consejo yesterday and didn't get home  until about 10pm. But it was a great consejo as always. Weird fact: it was the last consejo I and President Martinez will ever have in this mission... :/

I always try to make our lessons and contacts entertaining to keep people's attention, which means I often revert to jokes. What cracks me up the most is that people so rarely understand my jokes haha. For example, this week we met a woman named Mercedes, and as I shook her hand I told her, ''What a pleasure! We just finished talking with your neighbor Cadillac a few minutes ago!'' I mean I know it's lame pun humor, but she gave me a pretty weird look and I knew she had no idea what I was talking about haha. Oh well.

Well so I mentioned in my last letter that Sister Voyles is in my zone. Turns out we're actually serving in the same little branch too! I thought we had never met before, but she tells me that she practically grew up with Corey Tyndall and that we went to the mormon prom in the same group together..hahaha. I didn't know anyone in the group except Cameron and Corey, so I hold myself blameless... Anywho, it gave us a good laugh. I'll send the pics. 

We're teaching a young couple to reactivate Marcos and baptize his girlfriend Alejandra. They have a cute little 2 yr old daughter, and our hopes are to help them get married. They weren't very interested in anything a few weeks ago until Marcos' brother was killed. The missionaries left a blessing of peace for them in their home, and they told us they've felt waaayyyy better. We taught them about the Holy Ghost and how they can have that feeling of peace all the time, and Alejandra accepted a baptismal date for June 21. I'm pretty bummed I won't be here for it, but I'm excited for them. 

As we traveled to Los Angeles Sunday afternoon to be ready for the consejo Monday morning, we arrived about an hour earlier than expected. Luckily, we were to stay the night in my beloved old sector Villa Obispo!!! So we head out to work to take advantage of the hour we had, and we visited some old investigators to see if they were progressing. A while back I mentioned Javiera, a young 15 yr old diagnosed with Leukemia that we began to teach right before I was transfered out of that sector. I felt like Elder Trudeau and I should visit her, and it was certainly inspired. I LOVED getting to see her and her family again; she has such a special spirit. Some great news is that her cancer treatment is going better, and she only has to travel to Concepción once a month instead of everyday now. She was reading in the Book of Mormon and still wants to keep learning more. We had a great lesson about prayer and I immediately told the missionaries to start visiting her again. They had stopped passing by because she was never home (due to her treatment in a different city). But now she'll be home and they'll be able to keep teaching her! Ah, Heavenly Father is so wonderful in His wisdom and how He so mercifully guides us to see miracles.

Speaking of God's manner, yesterday I read in Alma 41:11 in the Book of Mormon. It reads:
And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness.
It describes that those that sin without repenting are living contrary to the nature of God or contrary to the nature of happiness. That in itself is a large discussion we could have, but I want to point out that, according to this verse, the nature of God is happiness. Simple. For my dear family who should have listened to Brad Wilcox's talk ''God's grace is sufficient,'' you will remember when he said that ''we are learning heaven.'' If we really believe and hope to become like God someday, it starts now. His nature is happiness. We don't endure to the end and then suddenly become happy once we get to live with him again; rather, we are meant to learn to be happy now. ''Men are that they might have joy'' (2 Nephi 2:27). In short, if someone isn't happy, they're doing it wrong. I know God will help us be happy--obedience to His commandments is what will bring us true and lasting happiness. I know it to be true because I've experienced the difference in my life. I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ. They live and love us. Let us do their will and always be obedient. Therein lays the joy and happiness that I desire. 

Much love,

Elder Long :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Working in Chile

Hna Orellana & Ramirez- both finished their missions this week. 

When it rains in chile, it rivers...

Last transfer!

Thanks for the fun emails and photos! Looks like everyone is keeping busy. It's definitely been a busy week here as well. We had interviews with our mission president which for most of the missionaries was their last time before President Martinez leaves. I'll be blessed to have one more in another month as I end the mission. Im glad I'll get to have that last interview with the same President I've had for the past two years.

Quick sidenote: Happy birthday Ben!!! Tomorrow you'll be 10 years old. Yeesh. Already in double-digits. Have an awesome birthday with a spiritual Chilean hug from me!

Other fun events: Tomorrow we have transfers. Hna Orellana ends her mission and returns to Peru. Why is that important? What's silly is that I was in her district when she started the mission 18 months ago and I had the pleasure this past transfer to be her zone leader as she ended the mission. Weird haha. Also Trina had mentioned to me about a Sister Voyles coming to my mission from Trina's ward in Las Vegas. This morning I got the phone call that I'm being transfered to a new zone where I'll be zone leader of Sister Voyles! haha small world. It turns out she's the only sister missionary arriving to the mission this transfer. I certainly was 100% sure that I'd be ending my mission here in Catrihuala but the Lord apparantly needs me for four brief weeks in Pitrufquen. I'm disappointed to not get to be here longer but I'll be companions with my dear friend Elder Trudeau. I was his district leader for many months while I was in Yumbel and then I became his zone leader for another 5 months while I was in Villa Obispo so I know him rather well haha. We'll have a great time. Next week I'll send a picture of us so you can submit him to be on the next GQ magazine.

Earlier this week we taught an 18 yr old named Patricio that wasn't really sure if he believed in God. We taught him about how prayer is a way he can know for sure. He accepted the invitation to pray and ask God to help him know if He really exists. In our next visit with Patricio we asked him how it went with his prayer. He smiled and told us that while he prayed silently he felt that he was truly talking with someone. He said that he felt that God was really listening to his prayer. Aaahhh the joy we felt!!! We continued to teach him abot the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to help him also develop faith in the Savior and understand how He helps us nowadays. The Spirit testified so strongly during the entire lesson. It was FANTASTIC to know that there are still people that are willing to humbly look for the truth. Patricio's sincere desire to know and obey was absolutely the key to him receiving an answer to his prayer. 

I know for myself that God lives. I don't just believe it because my parents told me so nor because it's the happenin' trend. I know because I like Patricio have felt in my mind and heart that Heavenly Father listens to my prayers and answers them in His wisdom and timing. Christ lives. I know it. This is His true church with the only true priesthood power restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. I invite everyone reading this to pray about it and humbly ask God in sincere prayer if it is true. If you are truly willing to obey the answer He gives you He will respond in His infinite love.

Elder Long :)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Letter 5/5/14 Cinco de Mayo en Chile!

Hey fambam! 

Thanks so much for the great letters. I sure love reading them. I'm not gonna lie, your letters this week were a bit trunky, but as long as I'm not trunky I think I'll be ok haha. Earlier this past week I did an exchange with a missionary that is ending his training. An investigator asked him how much time he had in the mission, and he replied, ``Just 9 weeks.`` I chuckled and said that I had as much time left as he had already completed. He thought for a moment and then told me that I only have 6 weeks left. Aahhhhh!!! Not only is the time flying by too quickly, but my math skills are horendous! Probably my spelling too...

That's sooooo weird that Cameron is getting married. I definitely grew up thinking I'd get to be the best-man and actually BE at his wedding, but oh well. Give the goof a hug for me and tell him I miss him.

Yesterday while contacting we met a college student that told us he didn't believe in God. We had an interesting discussion for a few minutes, but he insisted that we leave because he had to study. Before parting, I asked his name, and he told us it was Christian. I laughed and said, ''Well that's pretty ironic!'' His face showed deep internal reflection as he replied, ''Yeah, I guess so.'' Interacting with so many people each week can be pretty funny.

Speaking of interacting, next Sunday we have Skype!!! Wow, I feel like we just skyped for Christmas. Anywho, we'll be at a member`s house to skype around 4pm Chilean time, or 1pm Las Vegas time. Think of some questions to ask!

This past weekend was our stake conference. Usually, our mission president attends stake conference and speaks, but he couldn't this time. So he asked me to take his place. The stake president gave me about 30 mins to do a type of training meeting and it was a blast!!! I talked about Elder Ballard's most recent General Conference talk of ''Follow Up.'' We did some practices, demonstrations, I showed videos, and testified. I think the coolest part of the whole thing was that I felt soooo guided by the Spirit in every aspect. I felt so grateful for the Lord's powerful help so that I could be a mouthpiece through which He could teach His children. The stake president told me afterward that it was ''espectacular!'' So I felt really great. I always love teaching in big group settings like that.

To drive home the point of follow-up of invitations to learn more about the gospel, I shared with them an experience I had at the beginning of my mission. During a Sunday-afternoon lunch with a member, we shared a scripture and the mom told us of a neighbor she wanted us to visit. We made contact with the Sandoval family, and for the next month the member family did an incredible job inviting their neighbors to FHE, accompanying us to lessons, bringing them to church, sitting with them in the classes, etc. This fantastic neighbor family of four was not just baptized, but truly converted to Christ thanks to their neighbors. Currently, Claudio Sandoval is the Elder's quorum president, his 21 yr old son is the young men's president, the mother serves in the primary, and the youngest daughter invited her friends to learn about the Restored Gospel too. In February, the Sandoval family was sealed for time and eternity in the Santiago Temple. Shortly after their baptism, they invited another set of neighbors to learn about the gospel, and the mother was baptized a few months thereafter. 

Follow-up, my dear friends and family, enabled all three families to be edified, uplifted, and more fully converted to Christ. A nearby family of less-active members was also reactivated during the process as they were included in the fellowshipping and FHE of the Sandoval family. The gospel is so true! It changes lives! It strengthens us and protects us! It's the best way to find true happiness, and it's the only way to return to live in the presence of our Loving Heavenly Father. What a wonderful opportunity and responsibility we have to share this gospel with those in need of the Lord's help. I love my Savior, and I'm so grateful that He has given me such a great chance to fortify my testimony and convert myself to Him during these two years. I know He lives, and I know that this is His true church restored in it's fullness. Have a wonderful week remembering this great truth! Love you!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Letter 4/29/14 (He missed 2 weeks!)

Hey fambam!!!

Well it's been a while since I've been able to write haha. Quick explanation: We lived in a house of 9 missionaries and it wasn't the cleanest house you've ever seen. So our P-day was taken away and we had to clean all day haha. And then yesterday we had our leadership council meeting in Concepcion (5 hours in bus both ways), so we didn't get home in time to write.

Quick updates on my whereabouts: Last week we hired a plumber to come fix the leak in the bathroom shower. A faucet ended up bursting in front of the house and he and I spent the entire afternoon getting soaking wet trying to fix it. A week later, the water company still hasn't showed up to fix what we told them to. It was actually pretty fun haha but not nearly as great if I were with Dad. Plus if Dad were here it would have gotten fixed in a few minutes I'm sure...

Two Sundays ago, we held our testimony meeting (due to ward conferences and whatnot). Camilo, a 19 yr old mentally challenged deaf boy that is in our ward, decided that he too wanted to share his testimony. He got up in front of the ward at the pulpit, and several people chuckled. I simply watched with a proud smile as he motioned what must have been his testimony in sign language. His mother then got up to translate, and explained his powerful testimony of the temple and that Jesus Christ is there. I visited with the family that night and learned much more about his incredible temple experiences. I was so happy to see Camilo share his testimony. So many of us fight the feeling to bare testimony in front of others, yet without words Camilo touched my heart. What a great example he gave me of ALWAYS standing as a witness of Christ.

On Friday we had a stake-wide open-house of our stake center, which so wonderfully is located right in the middle of the centro where soooo many people walk by. Only us missionaries showed up to give tours, but we had a great evening inviting any and all to come look around the LDS chapel that they always walk by. I was asked to play piano in the sacrament hall the entire time, and it actually brought a magnificent spirit to all those that entered. I certainly don't acredit that to my own talents, but rather the powerful Spirit that accompanies our hymns. It was fantastic. I'm sooo extremely grateful for the talents and abilities with which Heavenly Father has blessed me so that I can be an instrument in His gracious hands to help in His great work. And I have to give another big thanks to you, Mum and Dad, for pushing me to play piano and practice even when I complained haha. Love you!

Dad, you asked about the ''car situation.'' I can't lie, I was ppreeeetttyyy darn excited that we even have an option. We're so blessed! Although I loved having a truck at BYU and especially during the snowy winter, a newer and smaller and more fuel-efficient car would probably be quite a bit better for Lacey and me while at school. Awesome!!!

I felt really special yesterday when one of my dear sister missionaries who had been in my district a year ago told me that ''The best district meeting I ever had was in your district. What you tought me has stayed with me my entire mission.'' She mentioned a quote I had shared with her long ago that I'm pretty sure Dad taught me. It reads: ''In order to become whom you want to be, you need to be whom you want to become.'' In other words, decide to change NOW and put it into action.

Yesterday we had a great council about the difference between doing and being. In simple words: you can do without being, but you can never be without doing. In 3 Ne 27:21,27, we can compare the two words. Christ invites us to DO, since it is the first step to actually following His example of what He has DONE. He also invites us to BE, or we will never truly fulfill the purpose with which we came to earth. Quite frankly, many pass through years of just ''going through the actions'' but never let the true reason nor motivation arrive to their heart. I feel like I did that for a while. But I'm so extremely grateful that Christ gives us daily opportunities to try again and improve.  He loves us and will always do everything in His power to help us improve and ''perfect ourselves in [Him].'' I love the Lord, and I know that He loves you. I know that He is watching over you always so that we can all be together forever in His glorious kingdom. Sometimes it sounds silly to believe, but it's the smartest thing I've ever done. Have a wonderful week. I sure love you!

Elder Long :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Trio of Power

El Campo

New Trio Companionship

Letter 4/14/14

My dear fambam!

I never cease to be amazed how small the world can be sometimes. A while back I told you about a missionary I met in Yumbel that had also dated the same girl as I did while at BYU. Now I have a companion who is also from Vegas--but that's not what's so funny. We of course talked a bit about who we know and it turns out he attended seminary with Corey Tyndall hahaha. He's also friends with my childhood buddy Riley Hodson! Smmmaaalllll world. 

I'm actually in a trio with Elder Dudley (Vegas) and Elder Gonzalez (Colombia). There's actually a Chilean saying that something can be ''less likely than Mormons walking in three'' (equivalent to ''when pigs fly''). So we definitely scare a lot of people...haha. What's great though is that we spend all day everyday just laughing while we work. We've had a great time together. When people ask why we are a trio we just respond by naming other great trios: The Godhead. The 3 Nephites. The 3 Musketeers. Etc. Honestly I think we're more like the 3 stooges sometimes but I love these guys to death. Btw my comma key doesn't work...haha. 

We're living in a house with nine missionaries and only one shower so that's been quite the adventure. Normally it is only 4 but some other missionaries are still looking for a house to move in to. It's crazy but also pretty fun at times. 

Weirdness alert: I certainly do my best to stay focused on the work and not worry/think about how much time I have left in the mission but every week someone reminds me in some way or another. I played piano for the sacrament meeting and the afterward a member came to ask if I would play for their choir program at the end of June. I said I'd love to but had to decline because I won't be in Chile at the end of June...haha. Good thing Elder ''Studley'' taught himself to play piano while in the mission.

This week we met an elderly lady that said something wonderful. She described many of her life's hardships including how her son had died as a child. She then told us that she feels that she's had a great life. Why? In her sweet humble words she said ''I've had a great life because I've cried a lot and I've laughed a lot.'' Her humble and happy attitude towards life's difficulties helped me to remember why we are here and what makes a good life great. Happiness isn't having no problems at all but rather enjoying the bad with the good. Elder Bednar expressed it much better in his Conference talk.

I love the Lord and I'm so grateful that He allows us to pass through difficulties so that we can learn and progress spiritually. He is soooo wise and soooo merciful. I'm so glad and grateful for the opportunity I've had to dedicate two small years to His service. Have a wonderful week. Love you!

Elder Long :)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Keep Calm and Larry On!

Dear fambam! I'm so sorry to hear about such a dramatic car crash, but I'm sooooo grateful that none of you were hurt. Heavenly Father gave me a rather specific promise that He would take care of you while I'm gone. I'm glad and confident that He will continue to do so. The good news is that many of the General Conference talks apply directly to situations as these...haha.

Congrats to Bridgie for getting into the number one arts school in the nation! How cool! Shoot, all I did was play in the dirt on the baseball field during high school...haha.

What a marvelous Conference that was!!! The Spirit was so strong. Actually, one of the investigators of another sector who has told the missionaries not to ask her to be baptized came to conference, felt the outpour of God's spirit, and decided to get baptized!!! Wahoo!!! I absolutely loved the messages about hope, patience, humility, love, and having a positive attitude of gratitude. Wow, I could never deny that those men are called of God and inspired by Him. I know they are Christ's true modern-day prophets and apostles. What a blessing to have such certainty.

Elder Cruz and I have worked as hard as we could for a solid 6 weeks and FINALLY found some new investigators that would receive us. We started teaching two great new families and I already feel such a deep love for them. One of the families is a family of 4 girls that reminds me of the Rancati family (a single mother with her 3 daughters). The middle-child, Javiera, was diagnosed with Leukemia last year at only 14 years old. She let us in her home with a huge smile and with lots of questions. We had an INCREDIBLE conversation and I loved getting to feel her sweet, sweet, spirit. She of course doesn't have much hair, but I assured her that she has more than I do, and she laughed. 

I already love that family so much, and I couldn't express my sorrow when last night President Martinez told me that tomorrow I'm getting transfered to Temuco, a city in the south of our mission. I've never been to the south in these nearly 21 months, but at last I'll get to know it. I really wished I could have just ended these last 10 weeks of my mission here in Los Angeles in this fantastic ward, but the Lord has other plans. I'll still be zone leader and I'll be serving with Elder Gonzalez from Colombia. We end the mission together in June, so President assigned us to a trio so that we'll be training Elder Dudly how to be a zone leader. And thus will come to pass the last 10 weeks of the mission of Elder Long. So weird. I keep saying that, but it doesn't feel like there's an end to this mission. And I'm fine with that, because this just seems like my life now haha. I love it. It's so difficult at times, but I've learned and grown soooo much while here in Los Angeles. 

God lives and loves us. He really does. Everything He does is for our good, and it's always to give us an opportunity to learn and grow and become more like Him. I'm so grateful for His hand in my life. Have a wonderful week! Enjoy the trials by being grateful in our situation, and the Lord will strengthen and guide you to make your burden light. Love you!
Elder Long :)

April Fool's letter

Hey fambam!

What a week. The rainy season has officially started. On Friday it poured AAALLLLL day and night! To get home we had to cross a river that formed in our street. So much for no swimming as missionaries...haha. That actually comes with a cool story:

Friday morning Elder Douglas and I did an exchange to go help a family move houses. The moving truck was supposed to arrive around noon, but we had been waiting for nearly two hours and it still hadn't showed up. We invited the family to join us in prayer, and I decided to ask very specifically that the truck would arrive in the next five minutes. Take a wild guess how long before the truck showed up... Exactly 4 mins and 30 seconds. Elder Douglas timed it. Ha. So it was certainly worth taking a risk of being so specific, because God answers specific prayers when they are righteous and align with His will. So it was a great opportunity that God showed His power to this inactive family. He also saved us from some rather dangerous attempts to move large wardrobes in the pouring rain... Fun adventure!

To change themes rapidly, Lacey and Mum thank you both so much for all you're doing to help with my BYU schedule and whatnot! That's been a nightmare for so many missionaries lately and I'm sooo grateful that I have wonderful family that does it for me so I can stay focused on the Lord's work! Another missionary reminded me about taking a Spanish 321 class in the which I can take the test and get 16 credits already. Or something like that. Also, sign me up for Irish dancing! Shoot, we watched Ephraim's Rescue (new LDS movie) as a ward activity and it made me want to learn to Irish dance!! hahaha plus we need to rep our heritage ;)

Yesterday we had our mission leadership council meeting and President Martinez surprised us with a special treat. We skyped our future mission President Bluth and his wife! They'll be replacing the Martinez family in June. It was so great to meet them and speak with them. I could feel such an overwhelming love emminate from the both of them. I wish I could stay in the mission longer and work with them, but I'll be leaving just two weeks before they arrive.

Elder Cruz and I have been working like crazy to find new investigators that will progress. When we finally enter into a house, we teach, set a second appointment, and never again see those people. It's been difficult that no one seems to be truly interested or willing to set apart time to learn about Christ, but we keep pressing on. I'm excited to learn about the great success of the missionaries in my home ward, and I'm so proud of you for all you're doing to help. I've realized that it was after I had worked until my legs gave out and I fell to my knees that the Lord lifted me up and gave me strength to carry on. 

I'm sooo excited about General Conference and want to remind you to invite a friend to accompany you to a session! What a great opportunity to help someone else listen to the voice of God's living prophet. The apostles have said that what we get out of the Conference doesn't depend on the preparation of the speakers, but rather our own personal preparation. So think of a question to which you'd like an answer, and I know that God will inspire His chosen prophet and apostles to answer that question. It always works for me. 

I sure love you. Have a fantastic week and enjoy the warm weather!!!

Elder Long :)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The zone was challenged to "Prender en llamas" which means Light the Fire for the zone. Like goof balls they made shirts with llamas!

Prender en llamas!

Chileans Tanner works with

Twin sister from Tanner's 1st sector

One of his beloved Chilean families

Letter 3/24/14

Hey dear fambam!  I dreamed about you last night. I had been home from the mission about a week and was baking cookies with Lacey, and Dad came to ask why he hasn't been getting any of my newsfeeds on Facebook. I told him I still haven't gotten a phone nor used internet...nor did I really know how to do either haha. Apparantly my subconscious feels that I won't know how to use all the technology that's come out since I've been gone.

Funny stories for the week: Chilean work schedules are pretty much all the same, so the days are usually pretty dead until 8pm when people become available. We had several appointments at the same time and wouldn't be able to reach them all, so we decided to call to ''confirm'' our appointments. For those that haven't been in Chile for 20 months, when we call someone to confirm an appointment they always come up with an excuse to cancel. Haha so it ended up all working out...more or less. 
I also always find it super interesting that the days we decide to fast are the hottest days ever, and people suddenly want to offer us all kinds of fod and drinks that on any other day we never get. Temptation is silly sometimes. However, a small miracle was worked because of our decision to not eat the delicious-looking slices of pie a member gave us. We couldn't eat it, so we decided to bring it to our new neighbor as a gift and present ourselves. They didn't seem too friendly to the idea of living next to mormon missionaries, but when we told them we just wanted to give them pie and greet them, they let us in their home. We had a good conversation and got to know them a bit better. When we left the wife asked us to bless their new home. I call it a win.

Mum, another missionary told me that our turn to register is this next week. Or sometime super soon. You had offered to sign up for classes for me and that would be WONDERFUL because I don't want to take away important time to do it. I'm definitely leaning towards studying to become a physical therapist, so that can give you some ideas of what classes I'll need. Also, don't forget folk dance! If possible, I'd love to get into an ASL class too to practice with Lacey. Thanks so much! You da bestest!

As you've been able to sense, we've been struggling lately in our sector. We work as hard as we can but the Lord is trying us. It's been frustrating to say the least, especially with the pressure of having to set the bar for the rest of the zone, but we're trying our best to be patient and humble and let the Lord's will be done. Thus, amongst so many weeks of seemingly no progress in anything, the Lord let us have a small break. We did an exchange with the APs on Tuesday. One of the Ap's (Elder White) stayed with my companion Elder Cruz in our sector while Elder Tengberg (my old MTC comp) and I took the mission vehicle and toured the zone to assure baptisms in other sectors as well as try to help those that are close to baptism take the decision. Buscar milagros, como dijimos. I love Elder Tengberg to death, and it had to have been one of the best days of my entire mission. We saw miracles all day as we traveled and worked in other sectors. Plus he and I had tons of time to just talk and analyze our lives. It was fantastic. It was just the reboost that I needed to continue on this week.

I love the Lord so much. I still have a long way to go to get better at not complaining or doubting so much, but I'm so grateful for the Lord's patience with me. He's so merciful and sooo wise. I know that we can always trust in Him that He will ALWAYS do what's best for us. I know it. Have a wonderful week. Love you!

Elder Long :)

Monday, March 17, 2014

letter home 3/17/14

Hey fam bam! How weird that I come home in exactly 3 months. Yeesh. I still feel like I should have about 8 months left or something...

This past week on Tuesday to help animate the zone a bit after some difficulties, I made BYU mint brownies for a zone meeting. They were pretty delicious if I do say so myself. Take that one Lacey! Send a big special thanks to my dear Brother Hales for the recipe book he made me in Scouts when I was maybe 13 years old...ha. It's a great book! 

Funny story of the week: We started up another attempt at English classes, so I was asked to say the ending prayer in English. I have no idea when was the last time I tried praying in English... I did my best, but afterward several of the other gringos told me that I said a bunch of words in Spanish and hadn't realized it. hahaha fail.

It seems the Lord in His wisdom has decided that He wants to accelerate my learning, because He stuck us in the flame this week. And it burned hot. Through lots of prayer, reading my patriarcal blessing, receiving more blessings from worthy priesthood holders, and chats with my mission president, we got through it. We still haven't quite seen the calm of the storm yet, but I certainly at least renewed my faith and testimony of priesthood blessings. Sincerely I don't remember the last time that I felt that a blessing took affect immediately. I'm so grateful for the tender mercy of the Lord to allow us to minister one to another through the sacred Priesthood. The best summary of my week I can give is a simple poem I wrote:

I'm sorry, Lord, for getting angry
When not all goes as planned.
I'm sorry for the times I murmer
When I feel you've stayed your hand.

I'm sorry for my lack of faith
That causes me to doubt;
And, instead of trusting in miracles,
I choose a different route.

I still have so much more to learn
And many times to fall,
But I thank you for such mercy
That you're with me through it all.

Have a great week, loved ones. Your prayers help more than you know. Love you!
Elder Long :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Amazing experiences

Tanner's new companion from Bogota, Colombia

President Martinez and the 2 Elders that baptized him!

Tanner's middle school backpack finally wore out!

Letter home March 10, 2014

Dear fambam! How crazy is it that tomorrow I complete 20 months in the mission. Yeash. Time flies by waayyy too fast in the mission. I still have too much to do! But my assignment and the need to find new investigators helps me stay focused. Being in charge of 28 missionaries and 14 sectors keeps us pretty busy...ha. 

However, I have to ask the inevitable questions. Mum, do you know anything about if I need a renewed eclestiastical endorsement for BYU? When and how can I register for classes? It's an odd feeling being excited to go back yet not wanting to have to do any of that while I'm in the mission still...

This week was certainly a trial of a week. There was something going wrong in some part of our zone every day...haha it was an adventure trying to get all to work out. Especially because I often feel so inadequate. The verse in Ether 12:27 is so true that God will show us our weakness. The grand tender mercy is that He also helps us overcome them somehow. I'm not a missionary that can have 17 investigators in church every week like the studs in Vegas, but we sure work hard. In the end it's hard to accept that as long as we worked diligently we fulfilled our missionary purpose, but that doesn't take away the feeling of wanting to see the results. People often marvel that we work nonstop from 11am until 10pm preaching the Gospel, but that's nothing compared to Satan's efforts. We started teaching a FANTASTIC young woman about the gospel, she accepted a baptism date, and then immediately received a new job that makes it nearly impossible for her to meet with us nor attend church. Whether or not it was Satan's handywork, it sure works to his benefit.

But we also had some spiritual highs this week. Tuesday we had a mission conference in the which we had two special guests. No one would tell us who they were, but there they sat quietly listening and smiling. President Martinez eventually took his time to speak and showed us the picture of his baptism when he was a teenage convert. He invited up ''Mike'' and ''Edgar,'' the two missionaries that had baptized him some 20 years ago. We were all crying our eyes out. He thanked them and gave them time to speak to us. The Spirit of God testified soooo strongly to my heart that their stories were true. What an AMAZING blessing that they could come participate in a mission conference of their young teenage convert that later served a mission, married in the temple, served as bishop, and is now serving as a mission president. No one knew whom that young boy would become. I had in my backpack the letter that Jairo (mum's convert) had sent me. I gave it to President Martinez, and he read it to all the missionaries. It was simply another testament to all of us that the results of the mission aren't seen now nor even in five years. The GENERATIONS of people effected by this mission are so much more valuable than anything I could have ever done at BYU or working back in the States. What a privilege and blessing to be a part of this great work. I love my Lord, and I testify that He lives. If we obey all the gospel principles taught in the Bible and Book of Mormon, we will be able to return to Him someday to live forever in His presence. I know it's true.
Elder Long :)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Trunky letter for Tanner

The realization that 2 years goes by way too fast!

District with 2 fun sisters

Painting the town red.. or yellow

Letter Feb. 24th 2014

Hey fambam! What a week. I don't know how many cliché times I've said that the mission is a daily rollercoaster, but it proves to be true rather frequently. However, I'd like to first share a scripture with you that has changed my outlook on life: ''And the man whose hair is fallen off his head, he is bald; yet is he clean'' (Leviticus 13:40). The Bible speaks the truth, my friends. Amen.

Earlier this week my dear old MTC companion, now the mission's AP, arrived with a special letter for me. It was my ''Trunky Letter'' to prepare to head home. What??? I wasn't expecting that for another few months. Ha. Ay ay ay.

This week Satan attacked HARD on our recent converts and our missionaries. One of the poor sister missionaries was hospitalized for back problems, and I've had the privilege to counsel with missionaries struggling with depression. It's a side of the mission no one really sees until they are in the mission. And I don't say these things as spoiler alerts, but rather as a reminder to pray fervently for these wonderful young people that choose to dedicate themselves to the Lord's service for two years despite our own imperfections. I've definitely already recognized that much of what I've experienced before has prepared me for what I need to accomplish now. I'm so grateful that the Lord invites us to humbly lay our problems before His feet so that, with His divine help, He can be our strength when our mortal strength is not enough. What a blessing to be able to rely on Him.

Satan always attacks what He knows will hurt his cause. For example, my companion and I had an idea on Thursday morning to watch ''The Testaments'' with one of our recent converts to strengthen her before she leaves for college. Some people would call our day's events ''Murphy's Law'' but we knew better. It was seemingly impossible to get keys for the chapel and get the movie working, but after much fervent prayer when God's power beat Satan's craftiness, we were able to watch the movie with her and several other members her age. The Spirit was INCREDIBLY STRONG. What a blessing to be able to renew that spiritual confirmation that all of this really is TRUE. The Holy Ghost testified so strongly to our hearts while we watched Christ's ministry in the old world as well as His visit to the Americas. I know that the Lord lives and that He loves us so much. I know that He has done and will do everything to give us every opportunity to repent and come unto Him. I love Him and love the opportunity to serve Him and His children here in Chile. Have a wonderful week!

Elder Long :)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Feb. 10, 2014

My dear fambam! What a great week we had! Both me here and all you over there. Ah, how I would have loved to get to see Ben as ''Jamfar!'' He sure looks all grown up with that nice beard...haha. He'll just have to keep in good practice so he can sing me the songs later.

First I want to say a huge thanks to Leanne and Grampsir for the birthday cards and very generous donations! I sure love you.

Mum, today I was reminded of the many times that we took advantage of you when we went grocery shopping while you were hungry. I remember that you just wanted to get home and eat, so you let us get away with throwing extra goodies in the cart. Today we went grocery shopping while I was STARVING and ended up buying half the store...haha. For the past year I've been able to spend normally only about $6,000 pesos ($12 US), but today I spent $17,000 pesos ($35 US) on food. Oops haha. 

While Elder Bills and I were shopping for a new watch for him, we were surprised to hear people speaking a language we didn't understand. I've been so blessed to be raised speaking English, and even further blessed to understand Spanish--but It's been a long time since I didn't understand someone's language. It turned out to be a group of Ecuadorians speaking Quichua. It sounded pretty cool--like a weird mix of Japanese/spanish/french. Who knows.

On Friday Elder Bills and I had a leadership council meeting in President Martinez´s house. Wow, it was awesome. Aside from his wife's AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS food, the Spirit was incredibly strong the whole time. We were in the meeting from 10am until 5pm with just a short break for lunch. So worth it. I wish we could spend a day like that every week. President Martinez is SUCH an inspired man. In every way. I'm so grateful for his great example and influence. I feel so close to the Savior when he teaches and testifies because he's such a great Christ-like leader. The training meeting was about faith, attitude, and despondency vs hope. It was fantastic.

On Saturday we gave a tour of our chapel to a new little family we're teaching: Marlene and her autistic son. When we arrived two weeks ago, they were nice but not very interested. A few days later, they called us asking us to come over. They've had some recent experiences that helped them realize that we were sent from God to help them during this difficult time in their life. As we showed them the sacrament room and the various paintings along the hallways, the Spirit testified strongly to all of us that this is true. There was such a great peace and stillness in the quiet, beautiful house of the Lord. She couldn't wait to attend the church meetings the next day (FYI that NEVER happens) and despite being up until 5am working, she got out of bed and came to church with her son. She loved it. As we presented her to other members, she found out that our recent convert Isabel's husband was her childhood friend, as well as another recent convert Soledad was a long-lost friend she hasn't seen for 20 years. God is pretty great. It was a great Sunday. Isabel invited Marlene to an FHE Monday night where we're going to teach them how to make American pancakes. We're excited for a number of reasons, if you know what I mean.

What a blessing it is that I know for myself that the gospel of Jesus Christ is completely true. I love it. I love serving Him as a full-time missionary, and I love watching His hand in His work. I'm so grateful that He allows me to be a part of this marvelous work among His precious children. Have a great week!

Elder Long :)
In front of the proposed Chilean temple site!

Awesome picture of the Savior how I imagine Him!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Pancakes Chilean style

Painting the Stake President's house

Our fantastic baptism!!

February 17, 2014

First off, congrats to Brad for his mission call!!!! How exciting! I'm especially glad that we'll get to see each other for a few days before he leaves! Man, and another two years before we're all together again haha.
As I said in a private letter to Mum, I officially come home June 18--or at least I leave Chile that day. It's about a 16 hour flight to the states, another flight to Vegas, and I'll get home late that night plus the time change. Yeesh. I definitely didn't think I'd have to worry about any of that for another several months. The time sure snuck up on me. Another missionary told me that soon we have to already register for classes at BYU. That hadn't even crossed my mind. Any  idea of how to advise BYU that I'll be returning this fall? Plus choosing housing will be based off of pure faith and suggestions since I can't go tour the place myself...ha. Bleh, too many decisions. The mission is super difficult, but it's at least focused in one purpose and therefore somewhat more simple.
So this week was pretty interesting. While Elder Bills spent most of the week writing essays and applying to colleges, I painted my stake president's house haha. It was fun but LOTS of work and we still haven't even finished. But it seems to have gone well for Elder Bills and he's not as stressed any more.

On a much, much lower note, this week we had to send home a missionary. Not fun. Disobedience just is NOT worth it. I'm pretty sure I felt worse that he did, and I can't imagine how bad President Martinez feels--or especially Christ Himself. This young man had only weeks left in the mission, but made several bad decisions and now was sent home dishonorably. I just pray that the Lord will help him stay active in the church and regain his testimony. Something that always calls my attention of why Nephi or President Monson are such GREAT men is because they are simply OBEDIENT. The Savior teaches us that it's the first principle of heaven. If we can't obey earthly laws, we can't expect to be ready to obey celestial laws.
However, dear family and friends, I also have good news. Great news. Our beloved investigators Cristian and Yasna were baptized this weekend. It wasn't just two people being baptized; it was a young married couple taking their first step to becoming an eternal family. It was the most spiritual baptismal service of my entire mission. All of us cried as this beautiful young family started anew as followers of Christ. I'm so grateful for the strong love I feel for them. I feel so strongly that Cristian will be such a fantastic Elders Quorum President. He's just one of the greatest men I've ever met. They were sooooo prepared by the Lord to be baptized this month. What a blessing that the Lord has let me be part of His great work. I know He lives and directs this church.  Have an excellent week. Love you!
Elder Long :)

February 3, 2014

My dear family and friends!

First off, a big congratulations to Dad for working so hard and losing so much weight! And I want to wish him a very happy birthday this week!!! Wow, January FLEW by. 

Quick funny stories of the week: As Elder Bills and I walked the street, we saw a man delivering a tank of gas to the house of a family that had invited us to visit them but never let's us in when we arrive. I had to literally bite my tongue to keep myself from saying to the gas deliverer, ''Don't bother, they never answer.'' hehe. Elder Bills and I had a good laugh from that--mostly just because we had been walking the street for 4 hours straight and we were tired...haha. 
I learned a new word this week. Apparantly there's a new technology program thingie called ''Wassup'' and texting has become obsolete. News for me. The funny part was when I heard someone say that they were ''wassupeando.'' Ay ay ay. Spanglish these days...

This week was one of those major rollercoaster weeks. When it's high, it's high, and when it's low, it's low. Frequently. And you're often left with the same feelings of nausia and want to just lay down. However, we ended the week on a good note, so we're happy. Last Pday we watched ''The RM'' about a returned missionary and his struggle to recognize the blessings in his life after having dedicated two years of his life to the Lord's errand. Elder Bills commented to me during our difficult week that, ''People often say that blessings will come for serving a mission, but what they don't realize is that the mission IS the blessing.'' I definitely agreed with him. There is absolutely no other experience anything like serving a full-time Mormon mission. There is SO much that we learn and experience in such a short period of time, and we grow sooooooo much in so many ways. I kept thinking about what Stephen Mendenhall said in a letter home: ''I came on the mission to pay off some of my debt to the Lord, but everyday I find that I just further my debt.'' We are so richly blessed for being here and while being here. Sure blessings will come after too--the Lord is generous. But just as is finding happiness in this life, we need not wait until later.

It's all about perspective. Sunday night, we even got to do divisions with some other members. We were excited to achieve several lessons with members present in the same night, but everything fell through. From one point of view, it was a failure. But I spent over an hour discussing leadership ideas with an incredible returned missionary who spiritually edified me and helped me receive TONS of revelation of how to help the missionaries in our zone work harder and more efficiently. What a great way to end a frustrating day. 

The Lord sure takes care of us. A young man that returned from his mission last week to his home ward (here where I'm serving) was called to be the new ward mission leader. He has all kinds of fantastic ideas, excitement, and experience of how to successfully lead in the church. AAaahhhh we're so excited! It's what we've desperately needed. I've never had a ward mission leader like him in the 18 months I've been in the mission, so we're exstatic. We have a great matrimony preparing for baptism the 15th of Feb and we're searching for other people to teach and prepare to be baptized in March. 

The Lord lives. It's simple. He lives and loves us. Living the gospel isn't always easy, but it's certainly simple and so worth it. We will be happier, friendlier, and have a more worth-while life as we live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Have a wonderful week. Love you!
Elder Long :)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Zone trip

Pday with new members

Playing in the Finca with new members

Working hard!

Tanner's birthday in Chile

How beautiful are the feet of those that publish good tidings!

Tanner's ward bulletin board

Birthday party for Elder Long and Hna Porter

The hats should help people want to listen to the gospel don't you think?

Zone Leaders: Elder Paris (who Tanner trained), Tanner and Elder Townsend in Los Angeles South Stake

Letter Jan, 27, 2014

Hey fambam. This week was packed full of meetings, meetings, interviews, and more meetings. Actually, in terms of teaching lessons, Elder Bills and I both feel that this was the worst week we've ever had in the mission haha. Nonetheless, it was a spiritually edifying week. I sure love President Martinez and his family. He is one of the most inspired men I've ever met. So with all the meetings we didn't get much done in our own sector despite working ourselves to death, but we still saw some grand miracles. 

Yazna and Cristian, a married couple in their 40's, came back from a long vacation and we finally got to visit them Saturday night. We had about 15 mins, but we chatted for a bit, read a bit from 3 Ne 27 about Christ describing His gospel, and both of them eagerly accepted to be baptized on Feb 15th!!!! Wahoo!!!!! She's been dying to get baptized for months but President wanted us to wait for the husband, and then they went out of town for 3 weeks. They are back and ready. So exciting! 

What's also awesome is to see our recent converts progressing so much. Pablo (a 17yr old that got baptized earlier this month) accompanies us to lessons all the time and has brought friends and inactive family members to church. We also had a super fun ward activity in the campo (woods?). The ward went out to a woodsie place where all day they played soccer, volleyball, chatted, swam, and had a bbq. We missionaries only stayed for a little bit because we had so much work to catch up on, but wow did we have a great time. I can't even describe how much I've missed playing volleyball, but the best part was playing with my recent converts and the members. It's so gratifying to watch them have fun together and feel confident that even after I leave they will stay faithfull and active. Only downside: the top of my poor head got burned to a crisp....haha.

Fun facts: I got birthday packages from Mum and Denice! Wahoo!!!! Thanks so much! Soooooo many delicious treats! Not to mention the beautiful new tie and some great socks haha. Youz da bestest!

Elder Douglas, our roommate that has about 6 months in the mission, is such an awesome kid. He was the biggest stud in his highschool and he's great at EVERYTHING he does. One of the best parts of the mission is living with 3 other guys with whom I can always discuss the gospel. As he and I conversed about Christ's life and example one evening, Elder Douglas said something that I had never quite thought about before. He said, ''Christ didn't just die for us; He lived every moment of His life for us.'' Everything Christ did, He did with wise purpose knowing that we would read and study all about it. He said and did everything in a precise way for a precise reason. Always. And as He was beaten, spat upon, mocked, whipped, and hung on the cross, He had us in mind. His love is so unmeasurable that He immediately asked the Father to forgive those that were crucifying Him, for they knew not what they were doing. Too often, we doubt or sin because we don't fully understand what we're missing out on. I had a tender experience this week of talking to a sweet sister missionary who wanted to end her mission because she missed home too much and wanted to comfort her mom after the loss of her grandfather. My heart was filled with love and compassion for her as she asked me what to do. All I could do was thank her for her trust and express our love and gratitude that she is in the mission doing what the Lord needs of her. President Martinez then testified to her that she can't go home until she knew what she would be missing out on. She's yet to feel the immense joy of watching someone's eyes fill with tears when they realize that what we're teaching them is true. She's yet to fully comprehend the happiness that comes from watching a loved one enter the waters of baptism and change their life. We can't give up until we fully know and understand what we would be missing--yet I know that no one would ever give it up if they truly understood. God loves us and wants to forgive us. Christ lived every moment in a way so that if we follow Him, we'll be happy, free from guilt or sin, and be able to overcome any sorrow or despair that we might otherwise feel. Of that I testify with all my heart.

Elder Long :)