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 :)