"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

Monday, October 28, 2013

Week Sixteen: Semana de la Bruja! (Halloween Week)

What’s up guys?! 
So another week here and its never a dull moment in Teguc to say the least! Every day is a different adventure and one is never sure what is going to happen! This country is wild with so many different aspects about it that are different from home. But I absolutely love it! Its great and I wouldn’t want to have my mission anywhere else!
Well, the week started when we left Teguc last Monday. We were waiting for the bus next to an ice cream stand and so we decided to buy some ice cream while we waited. Finished it cause it was so hot and it tasted muy bueno. Entonces the lady was such a flirt. She didn’t understand we were only missionaries (haha) but we got some free ice cream out of it so that was good! Just one of the Hondurans wanting an American baby! LOL!
Entonces, this past Saturday we had a great activity in the church. It was a talent show pretty much. It was a blast! Us missionaries had a few really good short skits y todos los personas riendo mucho! Fue muy bueno! Otro personas in the church sang, danced, and did other cultural things- it was a lot of fun!
So.... I think that the food from the activity got to me... I was straight dead. I had food poisoning to say the least.. so I was down for the count for half a day, but don’t worry I bounced right back the next day and was doing work! All good!
Also this past week I had an intercambio with Elder W. – he’s from Chile. That was a lot of fun. We were in our town and we did a lot of work! So that was fun to learn about Chile and the differencias y cosas asi.
So Sunday night we got a call from President F! He asked to speak to me... right away my mind got spinning. HAHA BUT it was a good thing! I am going to be a trainer! Isn’t that great. I am so pumped! I am going to be helping a newbie just like I have been helped! I receive the new elder on November 13th. I do know he is Latino which I am so excited about.  He speaks no English and that is not a problem. I will train him for 12 weeks! So I am so excited to do that! It’s going to be a lot of responsibility but that’s okay, that is what a mission is all about! Helping others! So I can’t wait to find out where he is from and all that!
So we have been running all over the place trying to help this family get ready so they can get married. It has been quite the challenge to get all the paperwork in order but we finally got it taken care of. So we had to go to a bank to pay for the Nota de Solteria…well once again the power went out and the bank system was down. So then we had to go to another bank to finish. The power always goes out and it only causes problems! But it’s all good and that is small stuff! We finished the papers and their getting married este viernes en la manana. Then Sunday they are getting baptized! I am very excited for them.
Our area is going crazy here and we are so busy. This next transfer we will be receiving a set of hermanas to help us out! It’s going to be great! There is just too much work and service being done for us to keep up with it all, so we are getting hermanas to help us out!! So that will be good!
So this week I spent time studying the topic Faith. What a great week! Faith is always pointing towards the future. We need to always be positive and do things the right way. Other peoples strengths make us stronger. Also doubt your doubts, don’t doubt your faith. When we higher our standards and don’t slip after things that are not good we strengthen our faith. Always be ready to give a hard respuesta to alguien cuando tempted to do something that you know is not right. Our lives are an endurance race. There are many things that can distract us and cause us to alter our path. But we need to stay on the straight and narrow path always. Always look up. When we look up, we know where everything comes from and why things happen at the time they do, and how they happen. Remember, the Lords way is the only way. Always choose the right in all that you do, make good choices, serve others, and be the best example that you can be!
How grateful I am for great friends and family! You all are truly my rock in my life. Keep doing great things! I love and think about you all each day. Always say your prayers and thank heavenly father for ALL that we have. We ARE A BLESSED PEOPLE. We are from the best country in the world and have so many opportunities. Make the most of it at all times! I think about you all each day. You’re always in my thoughts and prayers!
Make it a great week! Aim High in all that you do!
Con Mucho Amor,
Elder Long!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Week Fifteen

 I hope this letter finds you all doing great! I am sure that you are all doing amazing! I would not expect anything less. So another week in Honduras still experiencing crazy things every day! What an adventure and spiritual experince this is. I wouldn’t wanna be in any other place at this time in my life.

So this past week… it started off in the early evening last Monday. We were walking down a dirt road where all the visitors and touristas go to buy things. We were walking to a cita. Entonces, we saw in front of us some people that looked white. Cuando we see people like this we always get emociando to see where they are from and to talk to them! So we started talking to them- they were visiting from the states. They spoke Spanish and English. yo no puedo mentir, it was hard to think in english! Even right now my mind is in Spanish.. how crazy is that... So we were talking and come to find out one of the guys was from Chicago. Then he said he was from Joliet. What a small world! So we were talking about sports and all in Chicago! Oh…such good times! So that was fun! He had a daughter that lived off Rt. 59... what a small world.

Entonces martes I had a intercombio con Elder O, the zone leader. That was a lot of fun! I was in charge of the area for the day and all. We got a lot of work done. It was so fun to be in charge and show nuestro area. Estoy emocionado por the opportunity one day to train someone. Elder O went to school where the CCM now is, so he was so excited to see all my pictures of the CCM now that it is a mission training center and all. So the intercombio was a lot of fun.

So we were teaching the neighbors a lesson. We were teaching the husband and the wife. The kids were inside. The kid came walking out bleeding a little bit on the face… well their dog had bit their son en la cara and the lip of the nino was bit through and the nose was all scratched up. It was pretty gross to say the least… but lucky he got all stitched up. I can say I don’t wanna see that again.

We had two actividades con the zona this past week. It’s where all the missioneros in our zona come to an area and help with all the less active members and also to do find more people. So we had one in nuestro area and also one yesterday in another area nearbye. So that was fun to be with all the other missionaries finding people and all! 

Elections are getting closer and closer and the partidos are getting crazier and louder. They are cool with us though! No problems there at all! I have been collecting all the stickers and trying to get shirts and stuff from all the parties! Its good memories! It’s fun to see how an election is run in a different country. I think no matter where you go, elections can get nuts. I am sure if I was closely involved with an election in the states I would have a completely different view of how they really go.

So we are teaching this family right now that is so great! They have two little kids and the family just moved to our area not too long ago.  Like all marriages, they have their challenges. We arrived at a good time so that we could help them sort through some differences. When we got there we helped calm things down. Its amazing… I was able to speak so clearly and say what I wanted to say. The spirit was for sure helping me hablar mas.  We were able to help. But it was amazing to see the gift of tongues even more. The spirit is really a strong thing and when we really need help it is there to guide us. It helped me talk more to help this family. What a cool experience!

So to talk about the language. The language is going really good! I love it so much. It is so fun to be able to carry on conversations more and more! It’s great and very fulfilling when I have put so much hard work into it. Sometimes I still have a hard time being able to understand certain people but its all good! Poca a poca I am learning and being able to speak more! Every day I am able to understand more and the people accents differente. 

We had a baptism this past weekend! He’s a great dude! He lives in my old area. We have not been teaching el since los otros misioneros llegan a my old area. But when he wanted to get baptized he said that he wanted me to do it! So that was such a privilege to do it even though the other missioneros had been ensenando el. So that was such an honor to be asked to perform the baptism.

I met a person here that had an Air Force Bag while in our activity with the other missionaries. So I started talking to him. He is in the Air Force aqui en Honduras. Entonces, we were talking about Air Force stuff, sports, y todo estos cosas. It was a lot of fun. He was teaching me Air Force stuff but in Spanish so that was fun!

Overall, another action packed week here. The week finished off amazing here in Tegucigalpa because the missionaries that are leaving to go home had a going away activity before they leave. So that included my companion. So I was here all day with Elder M. and Elder W. It  was amazing to say the least! We shared crazy stories and experiences that we all are having. It was so fun to be with them for like 4 hours and have a great time together! Their doing good. Elder W. does not have Dange. El dice fue horrible! Pero he is all good now.

I hope that you all are doing amazing! I love you all so much! So glad for a great family that is loving and caring! So grateful for great friends as well! You guys are all amazing examples to me in many different ways. I am so proud to come from such a wonderful familia! It is truly un bendicion en mi vida. All of you, keep doing amazing things! Be at the service of others at all times! Help others when it is not convienant for YOU. Always be the best. Make each day count! Always thank your heavenly father for all that we have. We are all blessed. estoy agrecido por padres muy bueno y por un hermano que es asombroso!

Make it a great week! Aim high in all that you do! LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH! Hugs!

Looking back at what I wrote very quickly because I am short on time today…so sorry for some of the Spanish! It’s really weird to be honest to have to think in English because I always am in Spanish mode! So sorry for some of the Spanish! Deal with it :)

Love You All, Elder Long

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Week Fourteen: HOLA from the Promise Land!

Hey! Hope that you are all doing good! So here is the low-down for the past week. Here it is people! HAHA
So elections for President are getting closer, November 24th. And It’s getting crazy. They are always parading and campaigning and all! They are always screaming and doing their thing! So that’s always interesting. I am trying to collect shirts and stuff from all the parties!
Right now we are helping a family get their papers and stuff ready for the wedding. It’s hard to do that when they lost a lot of the information they need so were dealing with all that fun stuff, but its all good! They are great people and are so very nice.
We received another set of missionaries in Santa Ana because we just couldn’t keep up with all the work in both Ojojona and Santa Ana. All of our focus now is in Ojojona which is good. It’s so good that the area is growing and all! The only bad part is the members in Santa Ana always fed us… HAHA… so that’s two or three less dinners for free… now we have to buy those meals…but it’s all good though! So that is the update on the mission area. It is awesome to see how quickly it is growing.
We have had over 80 people in church for three weeks now! That’s a record here so doing hard work and the Lords help things are moving in a positive direction! So that’s good.

Our investigators are doing very well. We are working closely with many individuals and families. Please continue to pray for those I am working with. The Lord hears them and will assist us in moving the work along
We started teaching English classes which is great. This past Saturday we had about 25-30 people which is fantastic and we are anticipating many more next week. It was a lot of fun! I love teaching the people and helping them. They are so good to us that this is a small way I can give back. My Spanish is coming along! Poca a poca I am learning and getting better!
The power of prayer is real. We all need to pray, and be specific when you pray. We all have so much to be thankful for and the power of prayer is real. Never forget to say your prayers, ever. The Lord helps us, and one way is through prayer, never ever forget to be thankful for what we have back in the states.
We all need to be thankful for EVERYTHING we have. It’s that simple. Count your blessings EVERYDAY…name them one by one!
We always need to make good choices. We are all examples to others. That’s the truth. There is always someone that looks up to us and is watching us. So how do you want that person to remember you? Do you want them to look up to you for good or bad reasons? Always Choose The Right and always be the best example you can be. Follow in the Lords footsteps.
As we walk along the streets, ride the buses here, teach people of our faith and not of our faith, I am continually humbled by the goodness of so many. I am also reminded that many people here have serious alcohol and drug problems. It is very sad to see how many lives are ruined because of alcohol and drugs. Be careful. Be smart. Don’t let it take over the good qualities people have and the capacity they have to do a lot of good. I see it every day RUIN families. I don’t want that for anyone. Just be smart and always try to make the best choices.
I think it’s important to know our strengths and our weaknesses. We all have them. Work hard to improve on our weaknesses, and help others learn and grow through our strengths. We can all learn from one another. That is what is so good about life!
And the best for last... So this week I was hit by a small pick up truck. HAHA! We were walking on the side of the road like everyone does here. So there was a car driving slow and this truck decided to try and go around him, well he did not see the motorcycle coming on the side where we were. So he had to come over more. I jumped out of the way, realized I couldn’t get over more in time so I lowered my shoulder. And my arm/shoulder hit the mirror of his truck. He was probably going 20-25 mph. I broke his mirror and it was hanging down.  That is why you don’t’ hit me! LOL! My arm is currently a little black and blue to say the least, but I am all good! I did more damage to his car then he did to me. HAHA. Only in Honduras would I get these experiences!  
Friends, family and loved ones! You are always in my thoughts and prayers! I can’t wait to see you all in two years! I don’t go a day without thinking about you guys but I am loving what I am doing! I pray daily for you guys and especially for my fam. I am so grateful for a great mom, dad, brother and extended family. ALSO VERY thankful for great friends! Always put your best foot forward and make good choices! Aim High in ALL that you do! Keep sending emails to keep me updated on the life in the states! Love your emails and letters! You guys are the bomb!!!
Con Mucho Amor,
Elder Long!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Week Thirteen

Dear Family & Friends,

This past week has been an awesome week! I feel like the Lord has allowed me to grow in ways that I couldn’t do on my own. I feel a greater love for my testimony in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that testimony undoubtedly has been strengthened by the messages and lessons I have learned from our leaders and our prophet of God, President Monson.

So where do I start? Let me just say, conference was AMAZING!!! And heavy on the EXCLAMATION POINTS! For those of you who aren’t familiar with General Conference, it is a weekend that we gather together and watch either through satellite, television, radio, etc talks given to us from our church leaders. The headquarters of the church are in Salt Lake City and this is where the conference center is. The conference is literally available to members throughout the world. So, twice a year in the fall and spring we have the opportunity to watch General Conference and hear from our church leaders.

I know that each one of us has been lifted up by the words we have heard. There were so many edifying talks that were given it is hard to choose one that was my favorite. I am anxious to be able to go back and study them. Remember, this General Conference was ALL in SPANISH for me so I had to really listen carefully to get the whole meaning of the message. And yes mother, I did not sleep thank you very much haha.

Throughout the messages given, the topics that stuck out in my mind that seemed to be repeated and emphasized were: Missionary Work, Love, Women & their important role in the gospel of Jesus Christ and every day life, Home Teaching, the role of the Priesthood and the Atonement.

For me, this conference was yet another testament that the Lord lives. These men are inspired men of God. Each word we heard was inspired.  I can and do find much joy in the Lords work. This is the Lords work. The spirit does the converting. I know that at this time I am on the Lords errand. I have felt the spirit many times in my life but this conference was pretty special.

What do you think the Lord expects of His workers? WE ARE HIS WORKERS – whether we have a nametag or badge, it does not matter. The church has such great diversity. You could see that in the men and women that spoke this weekend. Everyone is different and adds different energy, gifts, talents, experiences etc. What are you doing with the talents the Lord has given you to bring people to the way of eternal happiness?

S. Gifford Nielsen talked about game plans. Probably not the type of game plans I have spent most of my life learning and practicing. What play are we going to “run” to help one another? What is our game plan to return to live with the Lord? Think about your game plan and then ACT. Execute it. There was so much I learned from this talk. No matter where we are at in our life, we need a game plan. What is the most important game plan you can work on? Implement it into your goal setting and MAKE it happen. NO ONE can stop you from reaching the finish line of your game plan but YOU. Ask the Lord for his help. He knows our strengths, our weaknesses, our deepest insecurities. Just ASK…SEEK for His help…and KNOCK…and He will be there waiting for you. The Lord will help you succeed with your personalized game plan. Make sure you include Him. Make sure this game plan is the plan to eternal happiness, the plan that will allow you to be with your families forever.

It doesn’t matter what faith we are. Many and most of you who probably read my blog are not of my faith. But each of us needs the Lord in our lives. We each are children of our Heavenly Father who loves us. He sent us here to earth to gain a physical body and to be tested. He knows that each of us will fall down and make mistakes. But with the Lord included in our lives, we cannot fail. He is there to help us. He loves each of His children.

The atonement of Jesus Christ is real. That is the KEY to success and to experience true happiness. The adversary is real my friends. Don’t let him win you over, don’t let him win his game. One of the standout punch lines in conference for me was, “Don’t give Satan a chance to cheat your soul.” Isn’t that great? Don’t allow him to get the best of you…

I have not quite thought of home teaching as missionary work but after listening to conference I have a much deeper outlook on home teaching. For those of my friends who don’t know what home teaching is, it is an assignment given to you from your bishop to watch over and visit each month a family or two in your ward. You visit them and give them a spiritual message. This message is an inspired message from the President and his counselors of our church. You keep an eye out for this family and help them in time of need. In a nut shell, you are doing what the Lord would do for this family if He was here on earth. I love being a missionary and the new outlook it bring on things.

As conference came to a close I committed to strive to become more Christ like in all that I do. Are any of us perfect? No. We just need to simply put our best foot forward in all that we do.

So, I pose a question for all of you. How will you be more Christ like this coming week? How will you serve others better? How can each of us be a better instrument in the hands of God by helping others we come into contact with?

If nothing else, love ALL those people around you. Go throughout your day with love in your heart for all mankind. Give people the pass in what they do to annoy you or bug you. Even when life seems too challenging, be an example to those around you. Be like our Heavenly Father and radiate His qualities in all that you do.

So…what would my mission be like without all the crazy stories I get to share with you! This week we were walking and we heard a lady screaming and people cheering. We kept getting closer and closer and we saw this group of people and there was a lady on a table on the porch of her house, giving birth. HAHA only in Honduras would you see this! Crazy stuff!

The language is coming along well. I work very hard at it every day. I look forward to the day that it just flows easily. A funny thing, I am starting to dream in Spanish. LOL!

I am thankful for the people here and their example to be happy when they have so little. What an example they are to me. I pray very hard for them that they will find work to be able to eat. That is what I pray the most about for them. Seeing them not have food is very hard, having them offer their last bit of food to me to eat, is even harder. Pray for them. I love these people.

I thank my family, my extended family and my friends, each of you for your continued love and support of me. I have felt a heavy heart for my lack of time in being able to respond in great length to your e-mails and letters. There is just NO possible way to do it in my allotted time. Please know HOW MUCH they mean to me. I owe each of you so much. I pray that you will feel of my gratitude even when I can’t express it to each of you as I would like to.

I love you guys. I think about you all the time. I pray that no matter what you are doing that things are going good for each of you. Thanks for your love and support.

Loves! Elder Long

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Week Twelve: Lots of Service

Hey everyone! WHATS GOOD?!?!? THINKING ABOUT YOU ALL! What else is new? HAHA

So, I am writing now (much later) because we had an activity today for all peope that had baptism. We were with a lot of other missionaries, it was a good day!

So our investigators right now are great. We have a lot of people we are working with. Helping a lot of people! Keep in mind the people that we are teaching!They are all such wonderful people. I am so blessed to rub shoulders with them, teach the, glean from their strengths and learn from them.
So on Monday nights we have Noche De Hogar ¨Family Night¨ in the house of Hermana S. Their amazing! Great members and such nice people. There are always a lot of people there and kids that we get to spend time with. It's great! So when you think of  me and what I am doing on Monday nights that's where I am and what I am doing. HAHA

So this past week we were helping Hermana M. move her things from her house into her husbands house. So she was moving into his home and we were helping them move all her stuff. The truck of another member that was helping us got stuck in the mud. It was nuts! The trucks tires were 3/4 under the ground- all four. So there was the two members helping us and me and my companion digging out this truck. We were covered in mud. I have pictures but these computers won't connect to my camera ---- this is known as Honduras problems. HAHA  So yea, we had to  search for rocks and all that to get the truck out. 50 minutes later we got it out. All good!

I am still having a blast on the buses! Their NUTS!!!! Absolutely nuts! So right after writing last week we got on a bus to head back. Let's just say it was insane. I was hanging off where you get onto the bus. I was holding onto the mirror and a bar where you get on... it was nuts! Where else would I get that experience? Only here... never had more sore forearms in my life. I was holding on for dear life for a good 45 minutes! the life in Honduras.

This past week there was a newbies reunion, the last one. So we were telling stories and having a great time together as usual. It was great. There was only one thing missing, my boy Elder W. was not there because he has that gangre or dangre, whatever it's called. He has been miserable - but he will live. All will be good- he's a tough cookie.

So this week we saw this pregnant wife and her husband moving heavy things, beds and all. She was about due I would guess. And her husband was really struggling. So we saw them trying to carry their things up this mountain pretty much, and it was a single-track trail. So we helped them out. They were very thankful. Now we are teaching them. They are coming to noche de hogar tonight!

So I will be watching conference in Spanish this upcoming weekend...that should be interesting. HAHA! It will all be good though. I am looking forward to listening to the leaders and especially from the perspective of a missionary. Listen carefully and prepare yourselves for it. See what questions in your life you can have answered through our inspired prophet and leaders. I am very excited.

This week was kind of hard... for one reason. I really feel so bad for the people here. They WORK ALL THE TIME and have very little and are so thankful. They kill themselves to eat each day. It's so sad. It like really really really hit me. I pray for them daily. Please do the same for them. For work. We have no clue how GREAT we have it. People here sometimes don't know where they are getting there next meal... think about that. We are blessed to have such great opportunities. We are truly blessed to have roofs over our heads and SHOES ON OUR FEET. NEVER take the little things for granted. Pray daily for the things that we have. Everyone needs to do this. Be specific. Love others. Cherish our families and relationships ALWAYS. Be thankful for loving family members, and friends that support us and have our backs at all times. Not everyone has this guys. We are so blessed. Count your blessing each day and be SPECIFIC ALWAYS.

I am thankful for great family and friends. I am so blessed. Thanks for your love and support fam. You are my rock. Friends you mean a lot to me as well, you are my support system as well. I would not be who I am today and in the spot where I am today without great family and friends.

Love you Mom. Love you Gi, and LOVE you DAD. Thanks for supporting our family and being such a great father. I have learned how to work hard from your example. You have taught me well and I am thankful for you. I am thankful for each person I know and interact with.

Make it a GREAT WEEK. Aim HIGH. Do something great for someone else. Always CTR - Choose The Right in all that you do.

Love you guys all soooo much!
Con Mucho Amor,
Elder Long!