"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

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Week 24...Feliz Navidad!

Hey guys!

I first want to wish you all a Feliz Navidad and a Happy New Year! I hope that this email finds you guys all doing great and enjoying the holiday season! As far as here, besides the few houses that have Christmas trees and Christmas lights and the actividades we have done with people for Christmas it’s still hard to believe navidad is casi aqui.. wanna know why? There is NO snow... and it’s 80 degrees... so yea that will take some getting used too! But it’s all good! So this week was crazy busy with all different holiday and Christmas shenanigans. But it was a blast! 

So this past week we had the Christmas party for the mission with the missionaries, and that was a blast! So so much fun! Got to see all the boys and have a great time! We also got to watch a movie with the President- dispicableme 2! That was a very funny movie, so that was great! We also had a gift exchange and I got this pretty cool stone statue- it’s legit. So that was good too! Presidente shared some really spiritual videos and his thoughts and testimony about Christmas- the spirit was very very strong and it was such a great actividad! We also had the actividad de nuestro estaca loarque. That activity was amazing as well, it was on the temple grounds and the spirit was sososo strong. The spirit at this time of year is like no other. I love it. I am so grateful to have really learned what the holiday season really is about this year- more so then any other year in my life. My view of the Christmas season has really changed- especially with the conditions that some people live in here. I am truly grateful to really understand the true meaning of the holiday season.

So this Saturday we had a baptizmo de un joven se llama Genesis- she is 9 years old with one of the strongest testimonies. She is great! In the past few her testimony has really grown and she was so ready to be baptized. She is great! The spirit tambien was soo strong in the baptism! We have 3 more baptisms planned for this upcoming Saturday so with Christmas and all, this week will be very busy! The majority of the people here celebrate Christmas the 24th, tomorrow and some the 25th so este semana is full of visiting people and sharing my love… HAHAHA on Christmas or whatever day they celebrate!

So this past week I spent a lot of time studying about Jesus Christ... what a great topic to study. I spent the majority of my time studying Christ-like attributes. We all need to try and be more like Christ. There is no other way to explain it. We can all improve the people that we are. The Christ-like attributes that I studied this week are: hope, charity, love, virtue, knowledge, patience, humility, diligence and obedience. All the attributes we possess are things that we can always improve and do better. It’s not easy, but it’s the right thing to do. Christ-like attributes are truly gifts from our Heavenly Father. We will develop Christ-like behaviors and receive blessings when we use our agency righteously day in and day out. It’s not always easy – I know but we must ask our Lord to bless us with the attributes - you cannot develop such great qualities without His help. We all need to continue to develop these fine qualities.

The discipline contained in daily obedience and clean living and wholesome lives builds armor around you of protection and safety from the temptations that come as you proceed through life. 

I love all you guys. I want you all to strive to be more like Christ. I love you guys and think about you all each day! Make it a great week and a happy New Year! With tons of loves, aim high in all you do, and put your best foot forward! 

Con Mucho Amor! 
Elder Long 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ponder & Prayer

Hope that this Letter finds you guys doing great this holiday season and are enjoying the holiday spirit! Another week down, one week closer to seeing all you guys! But I am doing good. Enjoying this crazy experience and cant wait to share it with you guys when I get back to the promise land with all of you!

I want to start off and thank you all for the love and support every week but last week especially on my birthday! You guys are the best! I can honestly say it was probably the most memorable birthday I have ever had in my life. It was so nice to hear from so many people. Thanks so much family and friends -you guys are the bomb!

So this week was slightly different for me. It all started on Monday again when we left (where we write and play sports on our day of Preperation ). I saw an accident that was horrible ... I never want to see anything like this in my life again . It was terrible .... So THAT was pretty hard to deal with that night -Monday. But I know that the Lord has a plan for us and even when terrible things happen, everything is for a reason. So hopefully I don’t need to see anything like this again.

This past week we started a family home evening at the church. So many members and people that we are teaching come to church on Thursday and we played a GAME and gave a spiritual thought. It was a good time. This past Thursday was the first one that we have done. So we blew that one out of the water , it was fun and the people had a good spiritual time. We will continue to do these every Thursday -just another way to keep some people off the streets at night and doing things that they should not be doing ...

So the military has been searching buses and have check points all week. They are looking for someone and therefore have had all these searches…I can’t believe how different it is here to compared to the states ... blows my mind every day .. everyday is quite the experience . But it’s an adventure and it’s a blast! My Spanish is better every week.

My Spanish is getting better and I am really trying to learn the most that I can in the two years I am here. The time is absolutely flying by!  I am loving my time here and it is never a dull moment as something new and exciting happens every day and it’s always an adventure!

Saturday we went to the center of where the fields are in town. There are two full size professional soccer fields where the people live all day every day . We went and watched the so called  “mormon squad” play and they were really good. There were a lot of all the young men on the field so that was a lot of fun to go watch them and support them.

This past week I spent a lot of time studying and pondering why things happen to us in the time table that they do. I learned that it all comes down to one thing . Our time here on earth is on the time table of the Lord. Everything that happens, everything that we are given, happens for a reason and at a specific time for a reason . We always need to look at the bright things and press on. Pray every day , read your scriptures and go to church. These things are to keep us on the straight and narrow  path and make correct decisions. I see people here every day do great and terrible things ... just do what you know you need to do and all will be good. I am almost out of time so I need to go! I love you guys so much and I hope that you all have a great week and all do good things.  I love you guys very much.  Thanks for your great example and everything that you all do for me and my family.

Con mucho amor!!!
Elder Long

Monday, December 9, 2013

Happy BIrthday today Elder Long!

Hello Everyone!

Today is Elder Long’s birthday. What a special day. I had a feeling his time would be very limited to write us all…as he would receive many birthday e-mail wishes. In our very few correspondences today through e-mail he expressed his deepest gratitude for all the support. As many of you know…months ago I asked you, his friends and family to send me birthday wishes and pictures. With those I printed all the letters on cute paper, and developed 150 photos…enough to make 5 small albums he can trade off carrying around with him. To say he wasn’t overjoyed when he opened them this morning would be an understatement.

Because he got SO many birthday wishes today…his letter is short and was half in Spanish and he obviously didn’t take any time to edit it. SO, I translated it and tried to make sense out of a very “hurried” letter.

He is happy, healthy and loving his mission. He said he misses his normal life and most imoprtantly misses the relationships he loves, but would not want to be anywhere else than where he is today, teaching and praching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So…here is his letter for this week…

Hello Everyone! I just wanted to say thank you for everything! I recieved a ton of e-mails from family and friends today.  I am very appreciative for each of you ! I love you guys a ton.

This week was good. We were really busy. I really love the mission ! I love the people and the culture soo much.

English classes are still going great and I love teaching the kids and all the people who come to the classes!

So another interesting and crazy story. We were in the middle of a lesson and five dogs came into the house and started going nuts. I mean NUTZZZ !!! They were fighting like crazy. We were hitting the dogs with chairs to try and break them up but nothing worked... nothing! There was blood everywhere ... this was not that funny. It was actually pretty scary to say the least!

We were invited to a grad party this past Friday. That was a blast. The food was.... hmmm soososo good! His name was Manuel, the family was very proud of him and all that he’s accomplished. A person who graduates from high school is a big deal in my area. It was yet another learning experience, and I was so happy to be a part of the party that the family had. It was only the family and my companion and me. It was so cool to see him accomplish this. The traditions are very cool. I don’ have a lot of time to explain it all , but it was so fun!

So I talked a lady into giving me a free sweet sweater for me and my companion. I did some barganing so that was good! It’s because I refer all the missionaries to buy things from her.

Well , this week I have a TON of e-mails to copy and paste to microsoft word and not enough time! Thanks so much for the love and support. You guys are really the rock in my life... I have much love for each of you and want the best for you too! I love you guys! I will give more details next week but I want to print off all the e-mail to read later! Love you guys a ton.

Lots of love !
Elder Long!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Week Twenty-One

Today I have translated a little bit of his letter…as each week it is written more and more in Spanish…
Heyyyy to my family and friends. Espero que todo bien con ustedes! (I hope all is well with you) I think about you guys still all the time but I know that you guys are doing muy bueno! This time of year is great! I love the Christmas season and the spirit that it brings! I am always thinking about you guys y todo las cosas ustedes estan haciendo en los estados! (and all the things you are doing in the states)
So... this week absolutely flew by! Muy muy rapido! (very very fast) So last lunes (Monday) we played dodgeball as a zone.. that was a complete blast to say the least! It was so good to throw balls and peg the crap out of other missionaries, Elder W. and I went to town. So that was fun! This week was pretty dang busy too... we are teaching mucho! ( a lot) Entonces tiempo es muy rapido! (So time is going very fast)
Miercoles- (Wednesday) the weather changed por la mayor! (for the most part) actualmente cooled off a ton! The people think that it is like antarctica pero realamente es perfecto! Solo (Only) a light sweatshirt y todo es perfecto! (and everything is perfect) Pero los personas aqui pensar que ellos van a morir.. (but the people here think they are going to die they are so cold) They have no idea. So it’s been nice to have some cool air going through the pants! LOL
I met a guy at a Pulperia (grocery/convienant store) this week. A pulperia es donde persona pueden comprar cosas. (a grocery store where people can buy things) Es un pequeno tienda para comprar bebidas, dulce, cosas asi. (it is a small store to buy drinks, sweet stuff) Entonces This white guy was in there, speaking Spanish, so we starting talking and he lives in a village cerca de Ojojona- come to find out, el es de Iowa! Small world! So of course we were talking about the Chi and how great it is.. haha fue muy divertido! Todavia es dificial hablar en engles, entonces nostros hablamos en espanol!
So, Thursday and thinking about Thanksgiving... so it doesn’t get much better than celebrating Thanksgiving with rice and beans. LOL!  HAHA but it’s all good though! Good times! Benjamin gave us some good foood! But there is nothing like the promise land- U.S.A!!!! Never take a day for granted! But, I am so grateful to Ben and his family and all the families here who help and support us missionaries. I am very grateful for that this Thanksgiving season.
So we had a baptism this past weekend, it was so great! His name is Brother L and his wife and daughter have been members for years and he wasn’t, but we have spent a lot of time working with him, and he was finally bapitzed!! La esposa era muy emocionado y la hija tambien! His wife and daughter were very excited too) Fue un bueno bueno dia sabado por esta familia! (It was a good good day Saturday for this family). What a great experience to help this man do what was necessary to help him get baptized this past Saturday! It was a wonderful, wonderful day. I was able to give the talk at his baptism and the spirit was so strong. I love this family. I am proud of them and so happy for them.
I really am enjoying my companero! (companion) Si, el es muy differente pero el es muy bueno! (yes, he is very different but very good) He is straight out of the jungles from Peru. Just raised WAY differente de nosotros y haver cosas en differente maneras! (raised different and have different things and different ways) He is always wanting to serve- he’s great! I speak all Spanish with him as he doesn’t know any English. That is a very good thing for me and hopefully I can teach him some English too along the way. We have a lot of fun together and are teaching and working hard together.
So besides the point… I am growing the hair out… we have to keep it clean cut over the ears but the top is getting super long.  I haven’t cut it in a LONG time so for the boys up on the hill, the FC is on point, don’t worry! FC means flow control for all of us that are older and out of touch!!! LOL!
Everyone, enjoy this Christmas season. Serve others and always remember the small things that we have. We are SO SO blessed in the states! We need to thank our Heavenly Father each day for the things that we have! Have a great week and I can’t wait to read your emails next week! All I ask for my birthday is that you all thank our Heavenly Father for all that we have in the states for many people do not have the things we have, our capabilities that make life comfortable. And yes, you can eat a good juicy burger or something for me! I think about you guys all the time and I have much love for each of you. I love you guys a ton! Put your best foot forward, and Aim High in all that you do!
Con Mucho Amor,
Elder Long!