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 :)