"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou
dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest."
-Joshua 1:9

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Week Three

July 30, 2013

Dear Family & Friends,                                                                                                         
It is hard to believe it has been three weeks since I left for the MTC. It has been quite the ride so far. I have to admit, it is nice here but I am VERY anxious to leave and get out on the streets and help people with tons of problems and experience some of the crazy things I know I will in Honduras. Anyone that knows me well knows that sitting in a classroom studying is not my thing. I just need to get out of spiritual prison here. I feel locked up and am ready to go. This past week has been a more difficult one for me. Saying good byes to my close friends last week continues to be hard, getting bed bugs and bites isn’t exactly what I call fun, and a bad hair cut last week and being out in the sun and getting my head fried and later peeling brought on a “dandruff” and interesting look, isn’t exactly the best of times. But, there are worse things. Yes mom, it is true, there are worse things than bed bugs. No worries, it is part of the whole experience.

So, speaking of bugs should we mention creepy crawly things? Probably not! It’s probably not the best thing to wig my mother out with crazy experiences, but she is a tough cookie and can handle it. I hope! So, if you were served a plate of food in the states, with a creepy crawler critter on it, one might just freak out. But, when you are sitting in Mexico and are hungry, and just wanting some good food a creepy crawler doesn’t seem too bad. Yes, one of the elders started eating his food and was just lucky enough to find a maggot in it. Typically I would have been flipping out, but here it was just another meal and its whatever.  Like I said, a lot of it is about the entire experience. But, for real, this past week has been terrible. But don’t worry about me in all seriousness. I’ll be ok. The bug bites and mosquito bites are terrible but we are getting them under control. It just makes sleeping hard. It hasn’t been easy at all. The bites depend on the nights. Some nights are better than others. I spray off over my entire body each night before I go to bed, that seems to help. The rainy season is coming to an end so that will help with the bugs and all. I also have had a tougher week just missing baseball a ton and not being able to contact my friends and all. It’s been a tough week.

I have heard more about what to expect in Honduras. Most likely we will not sleep in beds. One, because they can’t afford them so they sleep in hammocks and if you do have a bed they put all the bed posts in buckets of water so bugs can’t crawl up and get in the bed. Kinda crazy huh? Secondly, I have also heard that many places won’t even have a chair to sit on let alone electricity. So, you just sit on the dirt floor. Thirdly, most likely I will have mostly natives as my companions.  Again, there will be many changes from here, but I am anxious to get there and dive into the work.

The language continues to be the thing I love. Some days it just seems to flow, and others not so much. I feel I am pretty good at speaking. I would say I am ahead of a lot of other missionaries so I help others out a lot. I can’t always express what I want to say which bothers me but with time I know I will be good. It’s all part of the process. We do a lot of speaking in Spanish, which is awesome. That is how you learn it, by messing it up and just keep on trying. We are in the classroom a lot. Working on language stuff, learning the gospel lessons and just a lot of spiritual preparedness.  I teach a lesson every week. That sometimes gets tough because it’s all in Spanish. It is good though. This week I spoke about pushing onward with faith during times of good and bad. I did pretty well. I just can’t wait to really be able to communicate in the language. It will come. 

Probably the thing I have learned the most this week is about prayer. I have learned that prayers work. Trust me, I have prayed for help with the bugs and for help in many aspects this week. The lord hears us. I was praying last week regarding an issue that was happening with some friends of mine. I knew they were struggling and had a very full plate. I was praying for them. The next day we were singing, Count Your Many Blessings in Spanish and the spirit was so strong. I was told two things very strongly. One, I received a confirmation regarding the challenges my friends were facing that they would be having some changes in their lives and that my parents would be there to help them. And secondly, the spirit confirmed with me that my dad was a convert to the church so that I could share his story with others. I have shared his story with many here already and it has brought the spirit the strongest that I have ever felt before. I KNOW this to be true. I really do. Prayer is real and so powerful. It can fill our voids in our lives and give us purpose and direction. Heavenly Father wants to be there to help us. We just need to “knock” and “ask”.

I continue to play a lot of soccer and really enjoy it. Doing physical activities is a nice break mentally from the classroom stuff. Like I have always been, physical activity is a stress releaser for me. Today we played soccer for about 2 ½ hours. See what happens when you get your district up early to be the first ones in the laundry room again? Yep, you get more soccer playing time. We got our back sides whooped in soccer. We played the first one to twenty because we play on like a concrete court with a fence around it. It is a decent size but not amazingly huge like a real field. We played first to 20 and we lost 20-8. They are so good. I play some good defense. They never get past me and my ball handling skills are a little better already. It’s a lot of fun. We have a weight room that looks like a ghetto weight room but it does the trick. I do that every other day and then play soccer with the guys any chance I get.

I continue to feel of everyone’s love and prayers on my behalf. They carry me often through my challenges. Thank you for all the e-mails, letters and words of wisdom you share with me. I love the sports updates, world news, what is happening in your own lives and mostly just for being “YOU”. I honestly am the luckiest missionary out there. My friends and family are the best. Your continued love and support are my motivation to do good things. Thank you for your examples. 

I love my Heavenly Father. I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know the power of the Holy Spirit. It has guided me every day I have been here. I love the people here. They are humble and good. They have so little and yet are so happy. They are good teachers to me. I am looking forward to leaving and getting to Honduras to begin my journey there. I am praying to “Find the One” who needs me now.

I love each of you. I miss you.
Elder Long

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