"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, September 26, 2013

Week Eleven: Ever been chased by a bull?

Hello All! So this week was pretty good. Things went well! I miss all you guys a lot. I am so thankful for all the emails I receive from family and friends.You guys are great! Keep doing great things! The more details the better! I love reading how everyone is doing and all! Love you guys all so much.

So this week while we were teaching a person in the background was the radio playing. The radio station was playing all American music! Oh man was it killing me to pay attention to lesson HAHA, it was so hard to not burst out singing to say the least! Especially when that song Get Lucky came on by Daft Punk. I couldn’t help to think about the GREAT times this past summer with Alex and Johnny Mac in the car! So that was great! Tell them I say hi!
So I played baseball with some random kids in the street! It was so fun! They were using a baseball with their version of a baseball bat. It was sad to see. They use the hard part of the vacuum as the bat. They can’t afford it so they use that part of the vacuum. They tried striking me out, but I smacked the ball pretty far, they were all amazed! The one kid said, “Wow, that gringo hit the ball very good!” It felt great to swing even though it wasn’t a real bat. Man, did that open my eyes up. We are so blessed to have so much in the states, great equipment and everything we need to succeed. Don’t EVER  take that for granted.
Last Monday the Hermanas from Mexico cooked us some GREAT food! It was so authentic and amazing! Loved it! The Hermana missionaries are great- so loving and nice!
Tell Tory CONGRATS on the intern! That’s very cool!
Hermano L., a member here bought us Wendy´s, it was amazing! So thankful for him! He’s great! He’s an ambassador for Honduras and he is the bomb.Love him.
So this past week I went on splits cause my companion had a meeting with President. While we were out working there was a HUGE storm! The streets were completely flooded and all, it was crazy! Well, we had to go catch the bus so there was Elder M. and I running through knee high water. It was crazy and pretty fun.
We had a bautismo this past Saturday. It was good. It was a mother and her two kids. The mothers name is Christina! It made me think of my mom so much but it was great! Her two kids were so happy! They were all smiling so big- so great!
We are currently helping a guy that has had some challenges...who doesn't have challenges? I am so proud of him he is doing great. I pray every day he will have the strength to overcome his challenges. His family is doing great and they are so happy.
So this was so good. We were walking on the street this past week and there was a bull. A guy that was completely wasted had this bull and was walking with it- the bull was attached with a rope. So we thought we were good. HAHA little did we know. This guy had no control of the bull. HA, so the bull started coming at us! It was nuts! The adrenaline got going really quick!  I don’t think I have ever run so fast in my life HAHA. But the bull was dragging this drunk guy. This other guy ran over and helped this guy and was kicking this HUGE bull in the head. It finally settled down. It was so fun looking back on it! Where else would I get that experience? HAHA good times!
All the people we are teaching are doing good! A lot of success with the people! It’s going good! No complaints- Lots of work!
Spanish is coming along very well. Some days are harder than others, and some people are harder than others to understand, but overall it’s great! Couldn’t be happier, a lot to work on though.
So right now the country is campaigning for a new President so this place is nuts! All these rallies and stuff for different people. The organizations do crazy stuff. So pictures of people, flags, and all this stuff everywhere trying to win people over! Much different from the states to say the least...so that’s exciting to see the difference from one country to another.
I am SO grateful for the opportunities that I have had. We all need to be so thankful for all that we have. We are truly blessed to say the least.  I am so happy for the great opportunities that are available to me: in education, great family and friends. I am so thankful to have socks on my feet and a roof over my head. Not everyone has these things... NEVER take anything for granted! Be thankful for the United States and such a great country with so much to offer and do. MAKE EACH DAY COUNT.
Have a great week. I love you guys all so much. I am so grateful for such great people in my life, especially my family. I love you guys! I love my friends too!

Elder Mariano Long

Monday, September 16, 2013

Week Ten: Life in My Area

Hola! So excited to get to email today! So first I will answer your preguntas! Yes, I sleep in a bed.  I use the essential oils every day, and I use the pillow that you guys gave me.  I have never heard of the Dragon virus. I usually stop and get food at a chicken place that sells fried chicken, its the safest and quickest and all. Dinner for me, a good meal that actually fills me, costs about 7-9 American dollars. As far as banking we use the ATM and it spits out Limperas (the money they use here). That should be all your questions!
So this week!
Well, it started when we got on the bus right after I was done e-mailing you last week, there was a guy on the bus passed out...literally a goner, some people thought he was dead. He was so drunk and on hard drugs... he was taking up two seats so people were not happy. One person on the bus knew where he lived so they dropped him off, and his grandma came on the bus and was screaming and slapping him, nothing.... so people carried him off. Kinda scary. But that was a little different bus ride.
So this week I saw some newspapers and realized. Wow… they show everything in their newspapers, it’s kinda gruesome, The things you see are way different then back home, that is for sure. I also had kind of a funny experience. Funny but not so funny! So when I got that haircut I told you about last week that was real sharp. . well, there is a little story. So we were outside the place on the street waiting for the bus and we were talking to a bunch of vender people we know and all and they asked when I got my haircut? I said just now. Then I was like, “Is it guapo?” Well, I was talking to two ladies when I said that. Apparently, guapo here means, like do you wanna hook up? HA HA HA. So all the Hispanics were laughing... it was funny… but yea… kind of embarrassing at the same time LOL.
This past week I went on splits with the Zone Leaders. So the people that are in charge of our whole zone, I went on splits with one of them. It was pretty cool! It was good to get a different perspective from a different companion and all. It was a great day lets put it that way! The elder I went with was from Mexico so we talked about CCM and all! His name is Elder O. It was really good for me to see missionary work in a different light, or lets say a different way. Each missionary brings their own personality to the table and that is good. You try to find common ground no matter how big the gap is between the two types of people you are. That is what a companionship is all about. Before I left for my mission I knew there would be some companions that were like me, others that were not. I knew I would be with some that would have many different strengths than mine, and that I looked forward to so that I could learn from them. Like any relationship, you respect your differences and lean on each other for their strengths. At the end of the day, we both have the same goal, to bring others unto Christ.
Well, this week... the worst part was bed bugs.... I had them for about two days. I don’t have them anymore. I sprayed that stuff you gave me and all. I am good now but man for two days I was itching like a mad man. But now I am all good! No need to worry.
This past weekend was pretty crazy! We had two baptisms. It was a mom and a dad. They are brothers and sisters. It was a wonderful day and so exciting to be a part of such an incredible and sacred ordinance. So both were baptized this past Saturday. Their families were so so happy. It was the highlight of the week for sure. Seeing people change for the better is what this work is all about. It is an incredible journey to watch and be a part of. You have no idea until you are a part of it.
This past weekend was also crazy here because Saturday was Dia de los Ninos and Sunday was their Independence Day. You can only imagine how that went! It was CRAZY! There were people celebrating and partying everywhere! It was great! But, at the same time it stunk because everyone was with their families and friends and it made me a little homesick, but it was good.
I know you will be shocked to hear that the highlight of my week (next to the baptisms) was about food. Yes, food. This week a member fed us Burger King. It was the best meal of the week… HA HA…let me tell you, after not eating a burger for 9 weeks it was AMAZING!
If you wonder what a normal day looks like for me, here it is. Yes it can change but most days are like this:
Wake up, work out. Personal study, companion study and language study. We then have lunch and then go serve, teach, and find people who want to learn about Jesus Christ. Study and plan some more for the next day and bed!
That’s just an overview of my schedule so you have a little idea of what I am doing.
I miss you guys all so much. I think about you each daily.. hourly... always thinking. I wonder what my family and friends are doing right now?? I pray for you often, you are always in my thoughts and prayers. Your emails are great and keep up the good work because I read them a lot! From family and friends I read them often to keep me going when times are tougher. I am truly blessed to have great family and friends.  I love the sport updates and all. I love each of you. Thank you for your continued support of me. It makes all the difference in the world to me right now. Gi keep doing work on the football field. Knock some heads around for me :).
Other than that, just settling in. Some days are very hard, and others are great! When I have time to think it’s pretty tough. But that’s okay. I love Spanish and am learning a lot. I do always think about you guys and friends though. When you have great friends they do truly leave a huge impact on your life.
Love each of you tons! Thanks for always being there for me, the love and support is great. Always say your prayers and be thankful. You have no idea how blessed we are to live in the states.... it’s truly a blessing to say the least. WE ARE SOOOO FORTUNATE. Keep up the good work.
Have a great week! Put your best foot forward every day, and do things the right way always. Aim High in all that you do, love you guys tons!!
Elder Mariano Long

Monday, September 9, 2013

Week Nine :) To My loved Ones

I don’t have a lot of time…so excuse my thoughts that are all over the place and random…

This week was good. Some days are harder than others but all is well! The language is coming along very well!! The older people are still hard to understand so I like talking to the younger kids still! I feel more comfortable with the younger generation...they are more my speed! This week someone tried to pick pocket me as I was walking off the bus but I slapped his hand away kept walking and smiled. He just smiled back at me, Ha Ha.  That was good! The bus was nuts again with like 100 people on it. No need to worry at all cause he would have only gotten a few bucks because we are poor missionaries anyway! I still have yet to see a blond haired person!

My companion and I went into the city this past week cause my companion needed to renew his temple card, That was great! I love the city. So many people and all, reminds me of Chicago. One member is buying me a national soccer jersey here. I am so pumped to get it! This week we get to go to the temple. I am so excited for that.

The teaching is going well. We are so blessed and so busy. So, let me tell you a great challenge. When a mom starts to breastfeed in the middle of when you are teaching them, it is hard not to be distracted. Still hard to get used to. Like wow now, HAHA. Little different in America. We are teaching a guy right now that is such a great guy. He has some issues we are trying to help him work through. He is doing great and is coming closer to God.  I am very proud of him. Our other investigator also is working hard on some issues. We are really proud of him. His family and us are so proud of him. He is doing good. I pray that both of them can continue to be strong...to overcome any obstacle they are facing. Please pray for them too family and friends.

We have 2 baptisms this upcoming week, Hermana M. and Brother C. The following week we have 2 more baptisms scheduled, a mother and daughter. The work is moving along. Right now we are teaching about 20 plus people. We are very busy to say the least. We meet a lot of drunk people…they love talking to two white kids. So yea, we meet a lot of drunk people and then later go to their house when hopefully they are sober. I really don’t know where people get their money for drugs…but everyone despite their habits are so loving. I love helping the people become closer to God and love helping them straighten out their problems. It is great seeing people change and find purpose. It’s great!

This past week it rained a ton here! Like a ton! All is good though! I continue to sweat a lot…sweating my…off every day. I am drenched by the end of the day to say the least. It is all okay though. I continue to get a great leg workout every day still so that’s good. So this week we found a curl bar if that’s what you want to call it – it gets the job done ha ha. It’s a pipe that goes into two paint cans that are filled with concrete so I use that to try and get huge. ha ha It gets the job done with doing that and my rubber bands. I workout every morning with my rubber bands so I am glad I brought them. So, with the little resources and time I have here I am trying to maintain what I can here. I got a haircut this week and it didn’t end up like the haircut I got in Mexico. I went to a barber and this guy gave me a sweet looking haircut. I didn’t take a pic – next time I will. They use the straight blade here too. The food situation is getting a bit better because I just go buy food at night while we are out. I have to. I was loosing too much weight.

There are dogs EVERYWHERE here. If I could go just 2 minutes without hearing a dog bark I would be surprised. They are everywhere. To keep the dogs away you just act like your bending down to get a rock and they scatter like no other, so I am constantly bending down.

How is Gi doing? I miss him tons, think about you guys every day and my friends! This week I saw a baseball game on a members television, it was Boston vs Detroit. I got a glimpse of it, it was amazing and brought back some great memories of me and ball. It was so good to just see some ball for a quick 5 minutes. Speaking of sports, this past week Honduras played Mexico in soccer. Honduras beat Mexico 2-1. I kid you not when they won the city went crazy! Fireworks and gun shots every 10 seconds, it was great! So its been nuts this week, everyone is wearing their jerseys and so proud they won, its great! We finally walked over to the soccer fields that are in the middle of the town. EVERY day there is TONS of people there playing. It’s crazy how many people play on a daily basis! We are not allowed to play because of safety reasons – some of the games get really heated.

Thank you so much for the emails, my family and friends are great. I am truly thankful for such a great family and friends. We have so much to be thankful for. The families here have nothing but are so giving. At times we visit people and they give us the last things they have…and it’s very hard to see…like so hard. I am so thankful for what I have. We all have so many blessings on a daily basis it is not even funny. The people here are very loving and receptive to listen to someone when they talk about God. I see how God works in our lives every day. We are truly blessed to live in the greatest country. The people here are always smiling yet they have so little. Very admirable.

Tell all my friends I say hello, miss them and think about them and pray for their success every day. I am so thankful for a great family and friends. You guys are my foundation in my life to say the least. I have learned so mucho from each of you! Tell my friends to make good choices, work hard and put their best foot forward every day!

I have some letters that I am giving to a member who is going to New York in two weeks so he will send the letters from there because it will be quicker. Thanks for your patience in my responses. I am trying my best. Other than that, I am just doing my missionary thing, learning the language, loving the people, experiencing some crazy things that I will tell you guys later down the roadJ Don’t worry though I am alive and safe! All is good.

Always thinking about each of you! Your in my thoughts and prayers always. Say hello to everyone. I miss you all tons. Aim High. Put your best foot forward every day. Love you all so much. Make it a great week everyone!!

Elder Long

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Week Eight: First Baptism..."Finding the One"

Hey! Como esta!

I’ve been thinking about each of my friends and family so much lately…I do love the mission but I do miss my family and friends so much. I love you all each so much. You each mean so much to me! I have loved everyone’s e-mails/letters. Keep up the good work! Thank you to all my friends for your love and support. And to the many moms writing me too I really appreciate your letters. Means a lot! My mission is very rewarding. You learn so much about people, yourself, and life. Every day you learn something new. Especially some Spanish! Learn a lot each day! I absolutely love the language. I love the people. My areas are great. The members are very willing to help us. The members are very giving even when they barely have anything. It’s sad at times and is hard to see. They are so loving – very admirable. Always serve others. Be the example.

The older people are still pretty difficult to understand but I am getting better though! This week was very busy. We accomplished a lot. Finding the One… A lot happened this week. First of all, I asked someone to get baptized and work for this date and he said yes!  His whole family are members except for him, but he’s working for baptism. Great guy. I was very nervous asking him but it was great. That was one of the many good things that happened this week. This past Friday we helped with a wedding. Many people here are “married” but really are not married so before baptism they actually have to officially get married. The wife and children are members already but the husband was not. So we got to see them get married. On Saturday the dad was baptized. First baptism! The baptism went well even though we had to do it twice. The picture I sent is of the font and it is pretty small and he is like 6’3” so it made it a bit harder. He was good about it. It is so wonderful to help someone change and see the joy of a couple getting married, the father baptized and being so involved with it. This was a GREAT part of my week. Weddings here cost about 800 Limpias, which is about $40.00. That is a lot of money to people here. They are so happy.

It is truly amazing to see how the Lord helps us all everyday. We have 4 more baptismal dates set. We are/I am “Finding the One”. I often share Dad’s conversion story with the people I am teaching. There is no doubt that the numerous times I have shared Dads story that the spirit bears testimony to me and those I am teaching that this gospel is true and that the holy ghost does confirm things to us.. I tell your conversion story a lot Dad. There are a lot of Catholics here and they can really connect with your story. There are so many good people here, whether they are of our faith or another, they are good good people. I love and respect them so much. And I learn a lot from them. Humility is probably one of the greatest virtues I am learning from the people in Mexico City and here. The members here help us a tremendous amount with the work we are trying to accomplish. There are not very many of them but they help out a ton. For some families tithing (giving 10%) is very very hard because they have so little, but let me tell you, they pay it. They have such faith. The Lord brings blessings when we do good things and are obedient.

It’s sooo HOT! Geez!!! So HOT and I am serving in a cooler area right now. So yea, all good though. The buses are still crazy! So fun! There was over 94 on this one school bus we rode this week. People standing and sitting on one another. It was crazy! Music blaring! Life was good! This week we had a newbies meeting for all the new missionaries; great to see all the guys from the CCM in Mexico City. So good to see them, my friends. Doing hard work and having fun is always good. Great guys that I now call friends. I will get to see them again in four weeks and I can’t wait! So blessed that I was in the CCM with them.

So a little about here…Every day is a hike and a half! The terrain is still rough, and boy am I breaking my shoes in! So yea, my legs definitly get quite the workout. The people are all cold here. It blows my mind. I’m sweating through my white shirt and their wearing jeans with sweatshirts! Crazy! Now I see why the Mexicans in the states always have layers on! Hopefully my body will adjust. Well…my favorite subject always…food. The food is great here when we are fed. If fed we usually get smaller portions but its very good food. Lots of veggies…holy cow…I do love them now. It only took me 19 years. HAHA. There are lots of mango trees here so I pick off those a lot. They make great juice too. We’re always given hot drinks which is crazy because it is so stinkin hot out. They are so good but man! It makes me sweat even more and I don’t need that. Needless to say, I am drenched by the end of the day. I still have yet to see a blonde haired person here! LOL! All dark hair! I do miss hot showers but that’s the least of my worries. There are some very good soccer teams here. In the middle of the town is a field. Their teams are equivalent to the Sparks that play there. Very good! It’s a whole town thing. Very competitive with lots of cheering and food. The weekends are so noisy. There is a lot of dancing. Man can they all dance. Wish I could go into these places – wish we were allowed so I could actually learn to dance. LOL…stop laughing my friends!

My companion Elder H. is very good with the scriptures and all the gospel studies. He has many great qualities and I am learning many things from him. It is interesting to see how different personalities are put together and find a way to connect and work together.  We are different but that is all ok. He doesn’t eat a lot. In fact he will skip meals. Anyone that knows me knows I am a big eater. What teenage boy skips meals? NONE! I have learned a lot about how to train someone when one day I might be given the opportunity to be a trainer. He has been a good example to me and set the tone of how I should work as a missionary.

Well, I haven’t said much about this in the past but the reality is I miss college ball so much. I miss my friends, I miss the hill (can you believe it Peter???), I miss my cadet friends, I miss hanging out at the clubhouse, I miss my high school friends and I miss family. As crazy as it sounds, I am still a normal 19 year old boy who lays in bed thinking about what the college scores from the day are, ESPN news, family and friends. Some days are much harder than others but that is life and I press on with faith and the Lord blesses me and blesses each of us.

To my little brother…keep working hard in school and ball. Hard work will always pay off. ALWAYS OUT WORK EVERYONE. That is the new Long motto. Mom, it’s time to replace the old family motto, “Girls screw up baseball scholarships”! Always out work everyone. I love ya Gi. I am always thinking about you. Help Mom and Dad. Be the best you can be.

I look forward to you meeting my friends here family when you come and pick me up. I can’t wait for you to meet the people here. They have so many talents. This one guy in town is a wood crafter. AMAZING. Him and dad could make some killer stuff. Both very talented. I love the people here. And you will too.

Say hello to everyone. Miss you all tons. Think about you every day mucho. Some moments are very hard but I am doing my best. What else do you want to know?
Miss you Gi, Mom Dad Family & Friends. Aim High. Put your best foot forward every day. Love you all so much! Make it a great week!

Love you guys so much,
Elder Long