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 :)