Thanks so much for the letters everyone wrote me during Thanksgiving! I got those this week during a mission conference for zone leaders. The delay gives me such an appreciation and gratitude that we have email. Tender mercies of the Lord.
What crazy news about Cameron! Dear friends and family, I 100% depend on you to convince him to wait until I get home so that the BEST FRIEND SINCE 2 YEARS OF AGE can approve of his bride to be.
I also have a few shout-outs to do. This Saturday will be Joseph Pearce's birthday. I honestly don't know if he's still in the mission field or not, but send my old friend birthday wishes on my behalf! Old geizer.
I also found out that my blog where mum posts my emails has become somewhat well-known. Apparently, several young men who received their mission calls to this mission had been reading my blog until they parted for the MTC. How cool! Haha. I was able to meet one of them a few weeks ago. To anyone else who may be reading as they prepare to serve in the Chile Concepción South Mission, I want to welcome you to ''la única misión celestial!'' This really is a celestial mission with a celestial mission president. He and I both end our missions in the next six months, but if you arrive before then, I'd love to shake your hand and welcome you in person.
In our leadership conference on Friday, President Martinez pointed out that of the 33 of us present (20 zone leaders, 8 sister missionaries, 4 Asistents, and pres), only five people would remain in the next six months. All of us are ending our missions very soon. So that put a huge responsibility on us to prepare new leaders for the mission and especially to help the transition to the next mission president.
We continued to have a great conference as we decided on future leaders, made adjustments in our verification process, and dicussed huge changes of how we work as a mission. For the past year, we worked with Operation Alma, in the which one companionship worked only with recent converts and less-active members, and the other companionship worked with investigators. That has now ended. We are going back to ALL missionaries working to find, teach, and baptize. Operation Alma worked wonders, but the wards didn't do their part to retain everyone we brought back. So with some reforms in how we work with the ward leaders, we should have some more success.
I can't come even close to fully expressing the HUGE IMPORTANCE of the members in the work of salvation. The missionaries are meant to help the ward in their efforts as we bring people to the gospel. But all of the retention and reactivation depends on the members to truly fellowship the new people and help them feel comfortable and learn more about the gospel after baptism. Mum and Dad, your role as ward missionaries is soooo crucial to the success that the new members stay active.
As missionaries, we are just teenagers pushing adulthood. We're not perfect, and we're not capable of doing all of this work alone. We absolutely need the members to participate if we are going to help others come unto Christ and endure to the end. I know that the Lord lives, and I know that He qualifies whom He calls. He will bless each person and their family who participates in helping others learn of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. It's so worth it. I'm so glad Dad got to attend the baptism of Margo. I actually do remember her, and I'm so excited she got baptized!!! Keep up the great work! I sure love you!
Elder Long :)