"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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Running here and there...

Hey there you loving fans and fam! I hope that this finds you guys cooler than I feel right about now! I have never sweat so much on my mission and it’s winter here! Crazy!!! I cant even imagine where I am at in the summer... talk about a whole new level of heat... whatever though, no time to cry and whine about sweating from places that you didn’t know existed. HAHA! So lets get down to it shall we.
We literally ran with our heads cut off this week, we killed it this week. We literally at times were running from visit to visit. We just have to make so much happen in such a short amount of time. We taught 19 lessons with member this week (that mean that a member came with us 19 times) and a few different members too. We are getting many involved, they have no choice with Papi Long :)) We taught 13 lessons with less actives and people that are not attending church right now for whatever garbage reason they want to give. We put them all on blast HAHA, gotta love it, right? We found 14 new people to teach and told them why they need to change, it’s amazing to see.
One of the most powerful stories of my entire mission is the man that we are teaching right now that I told you about last week. His name is R. We found him working in the mercado like I said. Come to find out, this man has had his challenges and has been on the wrong path. He is changing like no one I have ever seen change before. You have no idea the changes that this man is making. Yesterday we went with him and he broke down... he said that his life has changed. Today he was going to talk to his boss to leave work if he does not give him permission to go to church and keep the Sabbath day holy. This man wants to make changes and I know the Lord will bless him. He truly is golden. I am so glad that I listened to the spirit to turn around and talk to this man. He is helping others because MANY want to know how is he changing... he bought a white shirt and all this week. He couldn’t attend church on Sunday because his boss sent him far to sell so he couldn’t come... he was so unhappy. From being on a destructive path to shaving his huge beard and everyone wanting to know what happened. It’s so cool to be a part of his story. R. means the world to me. O am so proud of him and honored to be his friend. I will attach a photo of us in his 40 (aka house). So we are working very hard with him and in two weeks he should be getting baptized!! Woohoooooo! So all good there!
So, also this week we met a person that was on the border of Mexico and the states for 7 months helping people get in... let me tell you the stories that he has from Mexico... he has stories that left my jaw open for about 45 minutes... we need to count our blessings being in the states. I will leave it at that.
It brings me to one of the main learning points that I have had on my mission. What being THANKFUL means. We need to really take a look in the mirror and be thankful for the little things. We are BLESSED more than we ever will know living in the states. I can’t even tell you how grateful I am for the little things and all the things that my loving Heavenly Father has done for me and my familia.
I know that the Lord lives and that he is our compass and best friend in our lives. We must grow closer and closer to him in the times that we are in. We need him. We need his guide. We need his love, we must grow closer to our Savior daily in order to receive the great blessings in which the Lord has for us. This week I spent a lot of time on my knees giving thanks for the little tings that I have. Teaching R. has given me a whole new level of perspective to things that before I did not have. I promise you my brothers and sisters that this gospel is true and will bless you more than you can believe. I invite each and every one of you to act upon the promptings from the spirit and do GODS WILL. He will bless you. If things are in your way to partake of sacred ordinances like the Sacrament, change your life around like R.to partake of such blessings.
I love each and every one of you and know that these things can help you. Serve others. There is no greater joy than serving others with all your heart, might, mind and strength, I promise you from the bottom of my heart. Make it a daily part of you life.
I love you Gi, you look great, and I am really proud of all that you are accomplishing in your youth. Remember to be different than others.... being different separates the every day person from the cream of the crop. Be the cream of the crop. Be the person that people say, what does he have, or why is he like he is? I promise the Lord will bless you. I have been thinking a lot about you and the importance that you have had in my life and seeing your growth while I have been here on the mission. You have changed as well as I have . I know that you are a stud, and that you are different then los demas. I thank you for your love and support, I am so proud of all that you have accomplished in the classroom and on the field. Use your intelligence in all aspects of your life. Make each day count. You have a potential that you don’t even know of. Ask the Lord who he wants Gi to become. I have been thinking a lot about you my man, I have seen you change these months and it’s for the better. Live life to the maximo in all aspect and I know that they Lord will bless you more than you know. Make it your number one goal to serve a mission. It changes one and others for the better. It brings a joy that NO sports game can bring. I love you stud. Thanks for your example. Be the best that you can be. Have swag and kill it on and off the field. Success in the classroom brings success en el campo. Te quiero mucho mi amigo! Gracias por su ejemplo gi gi.
Mis amigos y familia! Gracias por todo... tengan un buen semana! Aim high in all that you do and put your best foot forward!

Con mucho amor,
Elder Long!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Another new area and companion...I love this work!

Hey there friends and familia! I hope that this letter finds you all alive and kicking and doing your thing. All is good here. So this week you can find Elder Long in a new area with a lot of new and great things! So let’s get down to the sweat report once again!! 

So lets begin with that this area is by far the hottest area on my mission... it’s SO hot you have no idea. It’s horrible. We are in a valley called C. and our area is called L. P. It’s a huge area and super nice. It has like a pueble and city feel to it, it’s amazing! It’s a very cool area. We are about 20 minutes away from an American Air force base. I am so pumped to go there and see if there are any AF grads there. So excited, I think that we are going to be going there next Monday, we shall see!

Our house does not have running water. It’s super hot too haha. We don’t have a shower, we just shower outside haha because the shower is broken. We don’t have a washing machine mom (good joke haha that would be like having a Ferrari). Thats about all I can think of that you would like to know!  

So I have a new companion! He is from the states, Florida! His name is Elder S. His mom is from Peru and his father is from Mexico, quite the one two punch haha. He’s great! He’s a newbie and I’m his first companion and this is his first area in the mission for him. So he’s pretty nervous but he’s doing good. He went to the CCM in Mexico so we had some good talks about that place. He is super into music and has like opposite interests of mine but we get a long great. I am so happy to be able to help him out in the beginning of his mission.  

So our President of our mission took out all the missionaries in our area, there used to be two sets of missionaries here, and now there is just my companion and I. We are covering two areas, and it’s huge. But its all good, we are getting after it. The assistance in the church is super low... and when I say super low I mean super. There is not a lot of emotion and stuff. So this is where Papi Long comes into hand, we need to put the big boy pants on and make some changes! So we didn’t waste time, Sunday I got people to work. When we started there were 7 people in church (no one shows up on time) and we ended up with 52. We easily should have over 130 people each week in church. So we put the big boy pants on and had a good talk, everyone is super pumped to get after it and change the ward around and have it like it was before! So we have A LOT OF WORK, but that’s nothing new, it’s been like that since day one and I am happy to be in an area that needs a lot of help. It’s going to be a blast here. We will make a 360 here. So pumped! 

So we didn’t waste time finding people that really want to move forward and receive the blessing of the gospel in their lives. So since we are covering two areas we have so much work to do and make up for lost time. President Fortuna was going to close this entire area down and take out all the missionaries, but he is giving it another transfer to see what’s good. So here I am sent to another area to make it happen. I love the pressure and we’re going to make it happen. It’s great, we have little time to see results and that’s when the Academy Long kicks in, adrenaline going and loving it! So all is good!

This week we found about 6 people that are great and ready and are preparing to get baptized, One in particular that is amazing! His name is R. So we were walking down a street in the middle of the market and he said Hola Elderes! We said hello and kept walking. I got the strongest impression, and when I say strongest impression from the spirit to turn around, so we did. We went back and talked to him and put a time to meet with him later that night. We invited him to church and he came. He rocks a huge beard, has some habits that are a challenge but I love the guy already. Then after church, later Sunday night we go to his house. He had shaven and was all cleaned up. We asked him why he shaved? He said, “I need to change my life around and I have started. I felt the spirit so strong in the church, I know that this church is true and that I need to start a new life. I need to be better, so I shaved to start a new me”... the spirit was so strong, the joy that I felt was amazing. I am so happy that the spirit led me to R. and that he is so ready to grow closer to our Heavenly Father. I know that the Lord will bless him. I know that this man is going to change and be a better man. I am so happy for him. So thankful and happy to have had this experience this week. It was one of the more spiritual moments on my mission. I am so happy for him!!! 

So we are getting after it, every day is something new and making the people have emotion for what we do and why we do it. This is the Lords work. He is at the helm and we just are his servants in all that we do. I am so happy to be part of the lords work. I know why I am here in this new area. I know why I am with Elder S., everything has a reason. The Lord is our example and if we do what he wants us to do , we will receive blessings. I love this area, little time to work and results to show, because if not.. there is a great possiblily that they will close the area. So time to work.

So happy to be a missionary, I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. There is no better work in the world. This is the Lords work. I know it’s true. I love and miss you guys, don’t worry though, I am doing amazing and growing in ways that I never thought I could. Make it a special week, do something for someone else, and change something for the better. 

Aim high in all that you do and put your best foot forward every day. 

Con mucho amor, 
Elder Long! 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 66

Hey there familia and amigos! I hope that all is going good and that everyone is kicking it and alive and well! I am always thinking about you guys and know (hope) that your living life to the maximo baby!! So lets get down to the sweat report shall we! :) 

So this week I got the call that I am going to train. I am going to be receiving a newbie this Wednesday to train him and show him all about the missionary life and how to kill it for two years! I am so pumped to be able to train a new missionary once again. It’s going to be a ball! I am not sure if I am going to be going to a new area or if I am going to stay in my area where I am right now! I don’t know either if its going to be a gringo or Latin. I think that it will be a gringo because there are only like two Latin’s coming in this group, the rest are from the promise land. So I am so pumped to be able to have a greenyyy and show him what’s good here in the jungle jeje. So that’s some of the exciting news for you all.

So I was reading a talk this week that was given at a church conference and I really liked it. It gave me a new perspective on some things in my life and things that we are always facing.  The talk is titled Overcoming Discouragement.

If we place a little more patience in the process and a greater amount of faith in the Lord, our challenges will find their way toward successful conclusions.

Some years ago I was invited to participate in a fireside in which I outlined ways for people to overcome discouragement. At the beginning of the presentation, I invited those who were in attendance to write on a card a major challenge they were facing, one they would feel comfortable in having me share anonymously with other members of the group. When the problems came forward, I was overcome by the significant issues faced by members who looked in control of their lives. Here are some they listed:
1.     My farm is not making any money.
2.     My son has a terminal illness.
3.     Friction with a teenage child.
4.     My oldest son is nearly blind.
5.     Learning to accept the death of my son.
6.     My husband sees the flaws but doesn’t see the lovely things as much.
Many of us face significant challenges. Even the great prophet Enoch experienced sadness when he viewed the wickedness of the world: “And as Enoch saw this, he had bitterness of soul, and wept over his brethren, and said unto the heavens: I will refuse to be comforted; but the Lord said unto Enoch: Lift up your heart, and be glad; and look” (Moses 7:44).
There are at least three steps to take when striving to overcome discouragement:
1.     You can work on changing your attitude toward the problem. Even though you can’t change the circumstances in which you work or live, you can always change your attitude.
2.     You can receive help from those who are close to you—your family, friends, and ward members, those who love you the most.
3.     You can develop a more powerful and complete trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Change your attitude. By looking at a problem in a different way, it may be possible to 
reduce discouragement. I have been impressed with the pioneer story told about Zina Young. After experiencing the death of parents, crop failure and sickness, she was encouraged with a spiritual experience that changed her attitude. While attempting to seek divine help, she heard her mother’s voice: “Zina, any sailor can steer on a smooth sea, when rocks appear, sail around them. “ A prayer came quickly: “O Father in Heaven, help me to be a good sailor, that my heart shall not break on the rocks of grief” (“Mother, “The Young Woman’s Journal, Jan. 1911, 45). It is often difficult to change circumstances, but a positive attitude can help lift discouragement.

Accept help from others. The next important point is to be willing to ask for help from those around you. Sometimes help comes from unexpected sources. A few years ago I stood in line in Chicago waiting to put my baggage on a plane. Behind me was an older man. After a few minutes he said to me, “Where are you going?” I said that I was heading for Salt Lake City. He said, “I’m going there too. Are you a Mormon?” I responded by saying I was. He said that he had been a Latter-day Saint all his life and had prepared himself to go to the temple. While waiting for the plane, he opened his suitcase to show me all the missionary pictures that he had collected through the years. After some minutes, we were on our way and a wonderful talk as we flew toward Utah. Upon arrival, we left the plane quickly. I made sure he knew where he was going and said good-bye. Some weeks later, I received this card in the mail: “Dear Brother Christensen. I lost your address and then found it. So, I’m writing you a card. When I met you in Chicago, it was a prayer answered. I never travel anywhere. I wanted to be with someone. I have thought of you many times. I really enjoyed myself in Salt Lake City at the temple. Hope to see you someday. Thanks many times for the help you were to me. ”I wasn’t planning to be useful that day, but I’m grateful for this brother who sought for extra help and I was nearby to assist.”

Develop trust in the Lord. I’ve talked about changing attitudes and receiving help from others. Now let me mention the need to put more trust and faith in the Lord. I once talked to a woman who received help with her discouragement. While waiting for a temple session to begin, she picked up a Book of Mormon to read a verse. Her eyes fixed upon Alma 34:3: “And as you have desired of my beloved brother that he should make known unto you what ye should do, because of your afflictions; and he hath spoken some what unto you to prepare your minds; yea, and he hath exhorted you unto faith and to patience.” The scripture in Alma was answered to her prayer. The message was simple: the problem she faced was going to take a long time to solve. If we place a little more patience in the process and a greater amount of faith in the Lord, our challenges will find their way toward successful conclusions.

In the Doctrine and Covenants we read this: “If thou art sorrowful, call on the Lord thy God with supplication, that your souls may be joyful” (D&C136: 29).

I pray that all of us may appreciate the challenges we have and try to improve our attitudes, even though our problems remain the same.  Ask help from friends and family. I also testify that Jesus Christ lives and that He will help us through our discouragements if we will humbly ask for His love. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Brothers and sisters, we are always going to be faced with challenges. I promise you that when we have the Lord by our side every challenge that we face, we will look back and say that I learned something. We need to be appreciative for the problems that we face, because without problems we do not grow in any form. I know through challenges we see what our true character is and what kind of person we really can be. During challenges we must be ourselves, do not let the adversary change us. We are faced with problems because the Lord knows that we can face them.
I love you guys. I miss you guys, and know that you’re all kicking and doing your thing. Make each day count. Leave it all on the table. Give it your all whether it be in the kitchen, on the field, in the classroom or in the weight room, with your friends, with your familia, donde sea, give it your ALL.
I love you guys. I pray for you guys and wish the best for each and every one of you each day. 
Aim high in all that you do and put your best foot forward! 

Con mucho amor, 
Elder Long! 

Monday, October 6, 2014

An amazing weekend! A baptism to start off conference weekend...

Hola mis queridos hermanos y hermanos! Espero que todo bien con ud! Hey there my loving brothers and sisters! I hope that everything is going good with each and every one of you. You guys are the bomb! So this week absolutely flew bye and was amazing. So lets get down to the sweat report shall we. 

So this week we were preparing for a baptism pretty much the entire week. Her name is M. She is amazing. So a little about her. She has been investigating the church for about 3 years now... so when I came to this area I instantly invited her to follow the Lord and to get baptized. She said that she was not ready… joking… I said, “What are you waiting for?” “You know it’s true and you need to follow the spirit and do it.” HA! So we put a plan together for her and I promised her that she would be ready and that she was going to be baptized this weekend and it will be the best decision that she has made in her whole life.

So Friday night was the day. Threeeee years later she got baptized!!! You have no idea how happy everyone was in the little rama here in the Villeda. It was an amazing night to say the least. I am so happy for M. She was very emotional... It was her time. It was the Lords time. I am so happy to see the love that she has for the Savior and the confidence that she has and had in us to trust us that she was ready to take and make such an important decision.

That brings me to my next point. We must always act on the spirit. The spirit will never lead us astray. The spirit is the best teacher, friend and companion. We must act as the spirit leads and directs us to do certain things. It may not be easy at times, but it’s the best thing we can do, follow the prompting from our loving Heavenly Father and act upon it. When we do so the Lord will bless us. It is a promise from our Heavenly Father. When we make decisions to grow closer to him we are continually blessed.

I want each of you to act upon the promptings of the spirit. How can we have the spirit to be with us in order to be able to receive promptings and help form the spirit? We must do our part. We must go to church. Read the scriptures. Pray individually and pray with our family, have family time, follow the commandments, and do the things in which are good. Serve others and make the most of every day. We must make time for the Lord. It will bless you. It’s not to give the Lord satisfaction, it’s for us to see the blessings that really come from doing what’s best for us. We will personally be transformed into a better person.

I have seen it while here on my mission. I have changed spiritually and it has made me a better person. I feel the difference and know that the Lord can bless us and our families through doing the little things right. I invite each of you once again to reflect and really see if you are doing the little things like you should be doing. Don’t make excuses, you have time. If you don’t make time you are in a little way telling the Lord that you do not love him.. hard to say it so directly but it’s the truth.

We need to make time in these latter days. The worlds standards are lowering, but the Lords standards are not lowering. We must up the bar in these days to reap the blessings from the Lord. I promise you as you keep your standards high, the Lord will be there with arms open to welcome us into his presence again.  You can do. Make the little things a part of your life. They just need to be part of your daily routine. It will change you. I promise you. Do it! Do it!  Do it! and see the blessings that will come. 

Thanks so much for all the love and support, you guys are the best, I love each of you very much. Make it a great week. Aim high in all that you do and put your best foot forward! 

Con mucho amor,
Elder Long!