"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, December 30, 2014

Christmas Skyping was awesome

Well I really don’t have much to say this week, it was great talking to my family and all and now I am back on the grind baby! All is going good, only down thing is that the weather is heating up really fast... so you know what that means, the sweat report is back on track.... but that’s nothing new haha.

All is good, always a good time this time of year and the new year and all! Good time to do reflecting and make some changes for the better! Don’t’ ya agree 210? But other than that we are just working like crazy and helping anyone and everyone that we can. Most likely I will be leaving to a new area here the 6th of enero. So we will see where changes might take me, or maybe I stay here… I just don’t know. But all is going well, no complaints and nothing too crazy this week, other than someone spit on me. I couldn’t tell you why but whatever. I wanted to turn around and beat the you know what out of him but it’s all good, all good:) hahaha

Just enjoying every day that I can! So what else do I have for you all? I think that’s about all! Sorry I don’t have too much to write about. I just talked about everything with my family on Christmas.

So this week it’s short, sweet and to the point! Thanks for all the love and support. Make it a great week, aim high in all that you do and put your best foot forward. Loves! 

Con Mucho Amor,
Elder Long

Feliz Navidad

Hey there family and friends! FELIC NAVIDAD!!!!!!!!!!!! MERRY XMAS!!!!!! I hope that this email finds you all doing great and enjoying every day of this great time of year!! I am thinking a lot about you guys but know that I am killing it here and enjoying life more than ever and I really wouldn’t want to be anywhere else or doing anything else at this time of year! So lets get down to the hot report shall we! 

Well we ran with our heads cut off all week, I really don’t remember really doing what because this week just seemed like such a blur! It FLEW by.. and this week is going to be even crazier with Christmas being celebrated here on the 24th and then 25th celebrating once again because everyone is inviting us the both days, so we are gearing up to have a BOMB week, but that’s nothing new, we make the most out of every day every day! 

So this week we helped a familia go to church, they want to get married and get baptized so we are working on that! Their name is Familia M., they are super humble and down to earth people. Their living situation is something to be said but these people really want to change their lives around. The husband has had some challenges in his life but he has hit the point where he wants to change his life around for the better. So this week we helped him out so that he could make some more money so we went up into the mountains and brought back firewood for him with him. We got a member to lend his truck and we went up like grizzy adams and went and chopped away... it was miserable... it was sooooo hott but in the end he was so happy. He was so happy that we helped him out and brought him back to make a little more money. We spent hours working chopping with machetes and brought back a full car full. He gained 250 limperas (12 dollars)  from ALL that we got... it broke my heart to put two and two together to know how much he makes ever day. But he was SO THANKFUL. I am so thankful for the oportunidad que tengo para prestar servicio y ayudar los demas durante this time of year to help people feel real joy. This is what this time of year is all about! 

So I am getting pretty excited about all the good food that we are going to eat this week! It’s going to be bomb! This week is literally just full of food and dancing everywhere that you go and look, its the bomb! I am getting to learn some good new moves... ;)) watch out ladies, they are starting to call me Ricky Martin on the dance floor...jeje… so this week is going to be a lot of fun! Can’t wait to talk to the American Women and Mr. 210 this week too! It’s going to be the bomb! What else... I really can’t remember haha… our investigators son is super buenos! Algunos son mejores que los otros pero tenemos algunos que estan progresando mucho solo que necisitan tomar la decision a bautizarse... entonces estamos en processo a ayudar todos a sentir comado con la decision a seguir adelante. All good though, helping all that we can every day. Our gator Rigoberto that we baptized is doing great, so proud of that man, he has turned his life around. All good. 

Well I want to share a quick something with you guys that I really enjoyed, read it, love it, and soak it up!! These are two talks that were given at our church holiday devotional, I really enjoyed them and I think that we each can take something from them both! DISFRUTALOS!!! :)) 

Christmas Is Christlike Love

Merry Christmas, everyone! This is a magical time of the year when miracles happen, hearts are softened, and the pure love of Christ is felt and experienced like no other time of the year. It is when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh. We see around us representations of the humble circumstances of Jesus’s birth—a stable for animals, a beautiful young virgin, a concerned and compassionate husband, and most of all a tiny little baby, unlike any other baby born on this earth. President Gordon B. Hinckley once quoted E. T. Sullivan, who said: “When God wants a great work done in the world or a great wrong righted, he goes about it in a very unusual way. He doesn’t stir up his earthquakes or send forth his thunderbolts. Instead, he has a helpless baby born. … And then God waits. The greatest forces in the world are not the earthquakes and the thunderbolts. The greatest forces in the world are babies.”1
Notice the great patience which God the Father has in letting His plan for His children unfold. The Savior of the world did not come to earth at that time with a great show of power and majesty—He came as a helpless baby. This Christ child was certainly one of “the greatest forces in the world,” and yet He was born in a simple stable with straw in a manger for His bed. “Through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.”2 And yet, according to tradition, He shared His birthplace with sheep and oxen. He would become the Savior of all mankind, yet there was no room for His expectant mother and her anxious husband in the inn. He is the Redeemer of us all, yet His first visitors were humble shepherds. There is much surrounding the events of that occasion to ponder and consider with awe.
For me, one of the greatest miracles of the Christmas story is the love which it reflects. First is the love which our Father in Heaven has for His children: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”3 There is the love which the Savior has for each of us. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”4 The love of God has been described as “the highest, noblest, strongest kind of love”5 “and the most joyous to the soul.”6 This spirit of love and concern seems to be especially strong during the Christmas season.
A few years ago we had a daughter living in Connecticut. She attended a Relief Society meeting one evening at which everyone was invited to share a story from the life of one of their ancestors. She listened to a sister named Donna tell a story which has had a great deal of meaning to her family through the years and which involved a simple act of kindness shown at Christmastime. Our daughter was amazed to hear that the name of the person who had shown kindness was her own great-great-grandfather. It was a sweet experience as our daughter and Donna shared notes after and realized how their ancestors had touched each other’s lives.
With the permission of Donna, I would like to share a portion of her story. It took place in a small town in Utah in December of 1901. There was a family with a mother, a father, and eight children. The year had been difficult, with one of the children suffering poor health, which drained the resources of the family and the energy of the mother. On Christmas Eve, the mother told her excited children that Santa would not be coming that year. She simply had not been able to manage the money or energy to make anything to give her children for Christmas. The older children were still hopeful, and the oldest son began to hang stockings on the mantle. His mother gently told him that Santa was not coming, but the boy insisted she must be wrong. Finally the mother suggested that instead of hanging stockings, they put a plate on the table for each person in the family. It gave the children reassurance that they would receive something, so they went off to bed.
On Christmas morning, the children all awoke, got dressed, and eagerly went into the dining room to see what gift they had received. On each of the plates they found a large dill pickle. Tears of disappointment filled their eyes, and they turned to go back to their bedrooms so their tears wouldn’t be noticed. Their mother noticed: “Children, I didn’t have anything else, and I just couldn’t bear to leave your plates empty.” Her voice broke but she went on bravely, “We have a lot to be grateful for.” Their father joined in and reminded them that they were indeed blessed with many things, including a loving family, the improved health of those who had been ill during the year, and food for their table. Their spirits brightened, and as they began to celebrate the day, the oldest son bumped the table and was amazed to find a dime lying near his plate. He was convinced that Santa had come and had left a dime for them to buy some candy. He put on his coat and raced out the door.
The stores were all closed; however, Jed Stringham, who ran the local grocery store, happened to live right next door to his store. The boy knocked on the door of Jed’s home and apologized for disturbing him on Christmas Day but explained that Santa had left a dime for them and he was hoping Brother Stringham would open his store and sell him some candy for the little ones at home.
Jed answered, “You bet I will. Come.” When the boy got home he was carrying a large bag of candy and excitedly explained that Brother Stringham had taken a scoop from each tray of candy, from hard tack to the very best. He had given it to him, saying, “Take this dime’s worth home to those little ones, and enjoy some yourself.” It was obvious that Jed Stringham had been very generous and had given him much more than a dime’s worth. There was plenty for each child to enjoy. The children remember their mother saying, “God bless Brother Stringham.” What he did was not a huge sacrifice, and it really took very little effort, but the story of the miraculous dime and Brother Stringham’s candy meant enough to this family that it was written down and has been told and retold in Donna’s family for years.7 Sometimes, small things mean the most.
As our daughter Emily listened to this story, she recognized the name Jed Stringham as being her great-great-grandfather and was touched that he had not only opened his store but his heart with his simple act of kindness on that memorable Christmas morning. Our family had never heard this story before, and we now feel blessed to have received a copy, which will become a part of our family history. It reminds both of our families that those who have made covenants to be witnesses of the Savior of the world should always strive to be generous with their time and means to bless the lives of those around them—and especially at Christmas when the hearts of children and parents are most tender.
The spirit of Christmas makes us all more charitable, thoughtful, and kind. We are taught in the scriptures that “every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.”8 That feeling which compels even the most cantankerous soul to show brotherly kindness at Christmastime comes from God. How much more are those who are already seeking to become like the Savior filled with love and compassion at this season? The spirit of Christmas is Christlike love. The way to increase the Christmas spirit is to reach out generously to those around us and give of ourselves. The best gifts are not material things but gifts of listening, of showing kindness, of remembering, of visiting, of forgiving, of giving time. I have learned from my great-grandfather Stringham sometimes it is the small and simple acts which have the biggest impact.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ this season, let us also celebrate all that His birth symbolizes, especially the love. When we see shepherds, may we remember to be humble. When we see wise men, may we remember to be generous. When we see the star, may we remember the Light of Christ, which gives life and light to all things. When we see a tiny baby, may we remember to love unconditionally, with tenderness and compassion. May we open the doors of our hearts and reach out to those around us who are lonely, forgotten, or poor in spirit. As we contemplate the example and infinite sacrifice of the Savior, may we also consider how we can be more Christlike in our associations with family and friends, not just during this season but throughout the year.
I pray that we may each be filled with the spirit and love of this Christmas season. I testify that we have a caring Heavenly Father whose plan of happiness for us is the ultimate expression of love. May we always remember that once we shouted with joy9 as we understood that plan. I testify that Jesus Christ, whose birth and mission we honor and celebrate, is the light of the world, our Savior and Redeemer, our hope, our anchor, and the author of our salvation. There is such great joy in that knowledge. May we all feel the Savior’s love in abundance this Christmas season, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
The Light and the Life of the World

I am grateful to President Thomas S. Monson for the invitation to represent the First Presidency to speak in this Christmas devotional. I add my appreciation to the words of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf for the magnificent music of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the orchestra.
Tonight our hearts have been drawn to the Savior, and our commitment to follow Him has been strengthened. The beautiful lights placed in this Conference Center are a symbol of the joy we have felt.
The Savior came into the world with light designed to confirm and celebrate His arrival. You remember the account:
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. …
“And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”1
They were drawn, on that sacred night, to go to the Savior. What they saw with their physical eyes, in the stable, was a tiny baby. What they went to verify was visible only through spiritual feelings. We know that the Light of Christ is an influence that we can recognize by its effects.
The Savior said:
“For, behold, it is I that speak; behold, I am the light which shineth in darkness, and by my power I give these words unto thee.
“And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy.”2
I felt that light, joy, and desire to do good when our first great-grandchild was born. I looked down on her and thought, “She seems to glow with a beauty I didn’t think was possible.” In an instant I realized that the beauty I saw and the glow I felt when I looked at her face came from her purity and, to me, by the Light of Christ.
It is important for you to trust that precious capacity to see more than what physical eyes see. It does not require having received the gift of the Holy Ghost. For instance, we had a neighbor in Utah. She was a widow, an elderly widow. For years the members of our ward included her in quilt-making and other activities. She enjoyed their friendship but showed no interest in the restored gospel.
She told me that on one Sunday, after she moved to Nevada, she came back to her apartment feeling dark, discouraged, and alone. Her doorbell rang.
She described what happened this way. She said, “I opened the door, wondering who it could be. And there on the doorstep, I saw two beautiful women standing side by side. And I felt that I saw halos around their heads.”
They were the missionaries who came because my wife loved that widow enough to ask a mission president to offer the gift of the gospel of Jesus Christ to her friend.
I went to Las Vegas to baptize and confirm that widow. And my wife and I were her companions when she first went to the temple. In all those sacred moments of covenants, there seemed to me to be a brightness about her, just as I felt when I looked down with love on my first great-grandchild.
You have had such moments when you felt the Spirit of Christ, as you may at this moment. That is because these words are true: “Every soul who walks the earth, wherever he lives, in whatever nation he may have been born, no matter whether he be in riches or in poverty, had at birth an endowment of that first light which is called the Light of Christ, the Spirit of Truth, or the Spirit of God—that universal light of intelligence with which every soul is blessed.”3
You might have felt the Light of Christ tonight in this devotional, the purpose of which is to remember and to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. All of us here have experienced an influence to want to be kind or to help someone in need. All of us have felt an increased desire to stay away from evil. And we each have felt a desire to be less prideful, boastful, or critical—to be more like the Savior.
As we have felt the pure love of Christ, we have felt more His love for others. Charity is the pure love of Christ. Whatever we feel now is only a beginning. The Lord promised each of us a glorious future this way: “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.”4
Some watching and listening tonight were drawn to be with us in the hope that they could find peace as they face the sorrows of sickness and death that come with mortality to us and to those we love. I testify that Jesus Christ “is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death.”5
President Thomas S. Monson, the Lord’s living prophet, has assured us: “With all the strength of my soul, I testify that God lives, that his Beloved Son is the firstfruits of the resurrection, that the gospel of Jesus Christ is that penetrating light that makes of every hopeless dawn a joyful morning.”6 I add my humble testimony to his.
I bear my witness that God the Father lives and that He gave us the gift of His Beloved Son out of love for us. I know as surely as I live that the resurrected Savior lives. He atoned for our sins. And I testify that He is the Light of the World and the sure source of comfort, hope, peace, and joy. I pray with all my heart that we all will draw closer to Him, to feel the warmth of His light and love. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, whom we worship and serve,amen.


ADIOS 210 y american women! 


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Birthday & Christmas Celebrations

Well hey there familia and friends! This week didn't go so fast, well I guess it did but just not as fast as usual.. but all good! This week I don't have much to report on besides that it was my birthday and the sisters threw me a little surprise birthday party that was really good so that was fun! Other than that  my companion has been pretty sick this week so we spent a lot of time going to different docs/hospitals and stuff to try and figure out what he has. But he's doing good, we are grinding along!

This week we had an Christmas party for the mission and that was a complete blast, that was on Tuesday. so that was great to see the BOYS and we got to play some ball together for the first time since the CCM so that was a blast. We did Christmas acts and our zone did the Haka. We have a Samoan in our zone so that was sick, we killed it. So that was a good time.

We just spent a lot of time traveling to docs and stuff in other areas... other than that nothing too big this week... we didn't teach a ton because my comp wasn't feeling good. Its all good, good times!

We also had a ward Christmas party and I was santa hahahaha!!!  It was so funny so we had a lot of fun with that one!! We also had to go to the mall this week to get my comp a backpack and we had a blast with that one... you don't get to shop too much as a missionary so that was a treat.

We met the pro volleyball team from Belize and one of the guys there was an Academy grad!!!! It was crazy, good talk, he roomed with a baseball player name chechi, I don't know how to write his name haha but that was his roommate and he knew Sich and a ton of guys. I saw him in the mall in Teguc because they were playing here so that was sooo cool. 

We went to TGI fridays today and I thought I was in heaven... it was amazing but I had the worst gut ache because I think my body was shocked from some real food so that's always good. We are going to get after it this week, we want over 40 lessons so we are going to be running with our heads cut off. We have a fun few week and half ahead with Christmas and everyone gearing up. 

GOTTA LOVE CHRISTMAS SEASON... always remember what it's really all about.
Christmas celebrates the BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST. His divine example of love, service, and forgiveness gives Christmas true meaning.
Making Christ the center of Christmas might seem like the most natural thing to do during the season that bears His name, but so often the true meaning of Christmas manages to get lost amid the chaos and the cash registers, the presents and the parties. While these things may indeed create a joyful noise, it is still noise, and they can sometimes drown out the quiet, peaceful, reflective side of the season. Ultimately, Christmas is what we make it—and we’re in a position to ask more of ourselves and of each other than festively wrapped gifts and endless dinner parties. We can ensure that our children focus primarily on what they will give, rather than get, this year. We can give Christ the gift of a gentle heart, and we can focus on the gifts we can receive from Him: forgiveness, love, and eternal life. When looking for the true meaning of Christmas, we have only to look within: we each have the Light of Christ within us, and it is ready to be recognized and ignited and put to good use. But to understand that light, we must first come to better understand Jesus Christ Himself, and in doing so, to better understand our own potential.
Our Savior spent much of His mortal life ministering to the sick and to the sinners, helping them to understand their true worth. By serving those around us, we gain and reflect some of Christ’s empathy and compassion. And what time better than Christmas to begin making this a year-round practice, to regularly engage in the kind of service that can work amazing changes in our hearts.
Just as the Savior forgave others and taught forgiveness during His life, we can exhibit gratitude for this amazing gift by setting aside the burden of harbored resentments against others and by actively forgiving them. This too is a gift. Because as liberating as this act of forgiving often is for those who have injured us, it is so much more so for ourselves; unencumbered by grudges, our hearts are then much more able to reach out to and love others.
When asked what was the greatest commandment, Christ said it was to love thy God with all thy heart and likewise to love one another. He gave us other commandments as well, guidelines that formed the bedrock of His gospel on earth. The word gospel translates as “good news,” and what better time than Christmas to learn of it and to incorporate it into our lives. The saving principles and ordinances of repenting, having faith in Christ, being baptized, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end are available to all for our salvation. That was the good news that had been prophesied for millennia before Christ’s birth. And Christ’s saving power was also what the Wise Men celebrated when they saw the star in the sky that they followed. Like those Wise Men, we can offer Jesus Christ a gift to celebrate the day of His birth—the gift of a faithful, loving heart. We celebrate Christ in the Christmas season by taking the time to learn more about Him and by trying to become more like Him. Doing so brings meaning to much more than just the season; it brings deep meaning and purpose to our lives.

Well I don't have much more for you all, it was a way different week with my companion not feeling well. I am very anxious to get back to the work, We have so much more to do here. I love you all, miss you all and can’t wait to see you all in 5 months BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Have a great week.



Monday, December 8, 2014

The true meaning of Christmas

Hey there familia and friends, I hope that you guys are doing great and enjoying the Christmas season. What ta great time of year it is and the time that we really reflect on what this time of year is all about. So this week was just another super duper fast week where I really don’t know where the time went. Well what do I have for ya’ll? We had a stake conference meeting this week so everyone was working hard so we could pack the house, and we did, so that was a success. It was all centered on giving and what this time of year really means to so many. I am so thankful to be serving at this time of year and where I am... This Christmas seams so much different than my last... my area here has a lot more money and it seems just a lot different than my last. It’s more centered on buying and all and last year it just had a different feel, but we are doing the best to try and help everyone understand the true meaning of Christmas. I love this time of year and really have had such a great time during my mission finding out what really matters in life and the things that will carry us during times of difficulty and times of many blessings and abundance. I love this time of year and learning more about our Savior and our Redeemer and trying to be the best Elder Mariano Long that I can be. Christmas time is the best, familia time together, no better thing than to be with your family.

I am so happy that I am here with my brothers and sisters here in Honduras... I love them so much and am going to miss them. I am making the most of it every day with them because I just love it here and the time that I have every day with the most loving and humble people on this earth. I want you each to give a little more this Christmas season. Serve others. Be there for others, doing something that’s not expected. Give it your all every day. I just want people to serve each other this Christmas season. Serving others brings a joy that nothing else can bring... What gift are you going to give back this year to the Lord, We cannot buy him a gift and send it to him, but what are we going to do for ourselves to grow closer to Him or help another person draw closer to our Savior. What gift are you going to give this year? What are you going to change or do better?  I want to share a few things for you guys to read or watch. Listen, read and ponder and make a change. I promise you that we each can do something better this holiday season, what can we give back to the Lord?? 

I want to share this link for all of you to take a minute and watch this great video. ENJOY!!

Getting Ready for Christmas by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf; Second Counselor in the First Presidency
From “Seeing Christmas through New Eyes,” 2010 First Presidency Christmas Devotional (December 5, 2010).

As an old tradition, our family has always celebrated the Advent of Christmas. Starting on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, we would get together on Sunday afternoons, light wax candles on a pine Advent wreath, enjoy delicious homemade cookies, and read passages of scriptures that center on the Christ.
We read accounts of ancient prophets who yearned for the coming of the Messiah. We read scriptures that proclaim the wondrous story of His birth. Each week by singing beautiful Christmas songs and having a fun time together, our family tried to refocus on the true meaning of the season. I must admit that delicious hot chocolate, hot apple cider, and tasty homemade cookies helped a lot to catch the joyful feeling of the Christmas season!
While celebrating the Advent of Christmas is not part of all cultures around the globe, there is something we can learn from this widespread Christian tradition. Perhaps even this year we might carve from our busy schedules some time to study and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas—personally and as families.
When we prepare for Christmas by pondering its real meaning, we prepare to experience the Christ and His message. May I suggest three things we may want to study, ponder, and apply in this season of preparation.
First, rejoice in the birth of our Savior.
Second, ponder His influence in our lives today.
Third, look steadfastly for His coming.
I pray that each and every one of you will have a wonderful and merry Christmas season.
The word Advent means “the coming of Christ.” In Germany, where President Uchtdorf grew up, many families celebrate Advent for four weeks before Christmas.

Remembering Christ
President Uchtdorf’s family used a pine wreath as part of their holiday tradition. You can make a wreath to help you remember what you learn about Jesus Christ this Christmas season. Cut the center out of a paper plate, turn it upside-down, and paint it green. Cut simple candle shapes out of colored cardstock. Fold about a half inch at the bottom of the candles. Choose some scripture stories about Jesus Christ to read as a family throughout the month. As you read each story, glue a candle to the wreath.

Here are some scripture stories to get started:
Jesus is born. (Luke 2:1–21)
Jesus calms the storm. (Mark 4:35–39)
Jesus feeds five thousand people. (Matthew 14:13–21)
Jesus teaches about the good Samaritan. (Luke 10:25–37)
Jesus heals the ten lepers. (Luke 17:11–19)
Jesus atones for our sins in Gethsemane. (Luke 22:41–45)
Jesus appears to the Nephites in the Americas after His Resurrection. (3 Nephi 11:8–17)
Jesus teaches the Nephites about the sacrament. (3 Nephi 18:1–12)

Rejoice, Ponder, and Look Forward

President Uchtdorf said we should rejoice in Jesus’s birth, ponder His influence in our lives, and look forward to His coming. How would you finish the sentences below?
Rejoice: “Knowing about Jesus Christ makes me happy because …”
Ponder: “When I remember what Jesus has done for me, I know that I can …”
Look forward: “I can look forward for the time when Jesus will come again by …”

This week we did a service project and cleaned a local park up, we went with the zone and it was a pretty good time. Tomorrow we have the mission Christmas party so that’s always a great time! We have a Samoan in our zone and were going to do a traditional dance called the HAKA that’s like super famous with the rugby players so it’s going to be sick to say the least. Next week I’ll check and see if I can send the video. So yea, that’s about it for that. 

Asking about changes, we don’t have like a meeting anymore we just find out where we are going and coordinate with them, we don’t all come together anymore and all. So that’s a new change that you had asked about mom. It’s not a big deal it just doesn’t give one the opportunity to see everyone at changes.

Other than that we are just working like crazy... running with our heads cut off trying to teach a lot and find people and help them know what this time of year is all about. Thanks for all the love and support ustedes son muy amables! Gracias por todo! no sabe how much it means to me! Thanks for everything! Thanks for all the birthday wishes, you guys are da bomb!!! 

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

Elder Long! 

enjoy the pics!!! 

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Savior's parable...

Well, here we are again, another week down and kicking and doing well. Making the days full of fun and entertainment, that’s for sure! So this week a cold front came in...I was freezing. I am going to be done for when I get back haha it wasn’t even that cold but I was freezing.. I HATED it… but then again it’s better than sweating 24 hours a day.. all good though, it was a nice little break! 

So this week we spent time finding a lot of new people and because of the cold weather we didn’t have a ton of success like we wanted.. when the weather is ¨cold¨ haha like the world shuts down.. like people are locked in and don’t want to do anything but we are still getting after it and making the most of it. We currently are teaching some really good people and especially familia O. The husband lives here and works and the wife lives three hours away and travels here on the weekends to come to church. She has been one time and this weekend didn’t make it in time because the roads are bad where they live and with tons of mud it made trip slower so she didn’t make it this weekend, Her husband is great as well. They are just a great familia! They are really progressing and we are trying to take papers out for them to get married but in their pueblo there has been no electricity for a week… so that makes things a little more difficult to say the least, but all good once the electricity comes back she will take the papers out for them. So we are grinding with them. All good though, they are reading all the Book of Mormon and The Bible like crazy and making the most of their conversion story. We each have a story and why we do the things that we do... Do you have your own story, do you know it? So all good with them! 

We spent time with the bishop from the other ward here and he hooked us up with some good food. He’s been to the states a ton and all so he knows what Thanksgiving is all about so his wife cooked our district a good meal so that was super nice of them. So that was legit! Good times! 

So this week we also spent a lot of time knocking doors... .so that’s always interesting and fun. Some people are just sooooo rude and are complete jerks but you just kill them with kindness haha and it’s even better, I have so much fun with people that don’t wanna listen or think their all right, I just lay into them sometimes when they have two sense it sinks in and others are just as hard headed as the donkeys here haha… but we make it a good time! So that was a lot of the week as well. 

So I would like to share something that I read this week that I really loved and it really hit home to me. I loved it and I want you each to read this and take some time to think about it... We can learn from the Saviors example and stories that we learn in The Bible. 

I wish to speak of the Savior’s parable in which a householder “went out early in the morning to hire laborers.” After employing the first group at 6:00 in the morning, he returned at 9:00 a.m., at 12:00 noon, and at 3:00 in the afternoon, hiring more workers as the urgency of the harvest increased. The scripture says he came back a final time, “about the eleventh hour” (approximately 5:00 p.m.), and hired a concluding number. Then just an hour later, all the workers gathered to receive their day’s wage. Surprisingly, all received the same wage in spite of the different hours of labor. Immediately, those hired first were angry saying, “These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne  the burden and heat of the day.” When reading this parable, perhaps you, as well as those workers, have felt there was an injustice being done here. Let me speak briefly to that concern.

First of all it is important to note that no one has been treated unfairly here. The first workers agreed to the full wage of the day, and they received it. Furthermore, they were, I can only imagine, very grateful to get the work. In the time of the Savior, an average man and his family could not do much more than live on what they made that day. If you didn’t work or farm or fish or sell, you likely didn’t eat. With more prospective workers than jobs, these first men chosen were the most fortunate in the entire labor pool that morning. Indeed, if there is any sympathy to be generated, it should at least initially be for the men not chosen who also had mouths to feed and backs to clothe. Luck never seemed to be with some of them. With each visit of the steward throughout the day, they always saw someone else chosen.

But just at day’s close, the householder returns a surprising fifth time with a remarkable eleventh – hour offer! These last and most discouraged laborere, hearing only that they will be treated fairly, accept work without even knowing the wage, knowing that anything will be better than nothing, which is what they have had so far. Then as they gather for their payment, they are stunned to receive the same as all the others! How awe struck they must have been and how very, very grateful! Surely never had such compassion been seen in all their working days.

It is with that reading of the story that I feel the grumbling of the first laborers must be seen. As the householder in the parable tells them (and I paraphrase only slightly): “My friends, I am not being unfair to you. You agreed on the wage from the day, a good wage. You were very happy to get the work, and I am very happy with the way you served. You are paid in full. Take your pay and enjoy the blessing. As for the other, surely I am free to do what I like with my own money.” Then this piercing question to anyone then or now who needs to hear it: “Why should you be jealous because I choose to be kind?”

Brothers and sisters, there are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessing or receives some special recognition. May I plead with us not to be hurt – and certainly not to feel envious – when good fortune comes to another person? We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed. The race we are really in is the race against sin, and surely envy is one of the most universal of those.

Furthermore, envy is a mistake that just keeps on giving. Obviously we suffer a little when some misfortune befalls us, but envy requires us to suffer all good fortune that befalls everyone we know! What a bright prospect that is – downing another quart of pickle juice every time anyone around you has a happy moment! To say nothing of the chagrin in the end, when we find that God really is both just and merciful, giving to all who stand with Him “all that he hath,” as the scripture says. So lesson number one from the Lord’s vineyard: coveting, putting, or tearing others down does not elevate your standing, nor does demeaning someone else improve your self-image. So be kind, and be grateful that God is kind. It is a happy way to live.

A second point I wish to take from this parable is the sorrowful mistake some could make if they were to forgo the receipt of their wages at the end of the day because they were preoccupied with perceived problems earlier in the day. It doesn't say here that anyone threw his coin in the householders face and stormed off penniless, but I suppose one might have.

My beloved brothers and sisters what happened in the story at 9 o'clock or noon or 3 o'clock is swept up in the grandeur of the universally generous payment at the end of the day. The formula of faith is to hold on, work on, see it through, and let the distress of earlier hours – real or imagined – fall away in the abundance of the final reward. Don't dwell on old issues or grievances – not toward yourself nor your neighbor nor even, I might add, towards this true and living Church. The majesty of your life, of your neighbors life, and of the gospel of Jesus Christ will be made manifest at the last day, even if such majesty is not always recognized by everyone in the early going. So don't hyperventilate about something that happened at 9 o'clock in the morning when the grace of God is trying to reward you at 6 o'clock in the evening – whatever your labor arrangements have been through the day.

We consume such precious emotional and spiritual capital clinging tenaciously to the memory of a discordant note we struck in a childhood piano recital, or something a spouse said or did 20 years ago that we are determined to hold it over his or her head for another 20, or an incident in Church history that proved no more or less than that mortals will always struggle to measure up to the immortal hopes placed before them. Even if one of those grievances did not originate with you, it can end
with you. And what every ward there will be for the contribution when the Lord of the Vineyard looks you and I and accounts are settled at the end of our earthly day.

Which leads me to my third and last point. This parable – like all parables – is not really about laborers or wages anymore than the others are about sheep and goats. This is a story about God's goodness, His patience and forgiveness, and the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. It's a story about generosity and compassion. It is a story about grace. It underscores the thought I heard many years ago that Shirley the thing God enjoys most about being God is the thrill of being merciful, especially to those who don't expect it and often feel they don't deserve it.

I do not know who in this vast audience today may need to hear the message of forgiveness inherent in this parable, but however late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made our talents you think you don't have, or however
far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sync lower than the infinite light of Christ's atonement shines.

Whether you were not yet of our faith or more with this once and have not remained, there is nothing in either case that you have done that cannot be undone. There is no problem with which you cannot overcome. There is no dream that in the unfolding of time and return of the King not yet be realized. Even if you feel you are the lost to last labor of the 11th hour, the Lord of the Vineyard still stands beckoning. "Come boldly (to) the throne of grace," and fall at the feet of the Holy One of Israel. Come and feast "without money and without price", at the table of the Lord.

I especially make an appeal for husbands and fathers, priesthood bearers or perspective priesthood bears, too, as Lehigh said, "Awake! and rise from the dust... and to be men." Not always but often it is the man who choose not to answer the call to "come join the ranks." Women and children frequently seem more willing. Brethren, step up. Do it for
your sake. Do it for the sake of those who love you and are praying that you will respond. Do it for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ, who paid an unfathomable price for the future He want you to have.

My beloved brothers and sisters, to those of you who have been blessed by the Gospel for many years because you were fortunate enough to find it early, to those of you who have come to the gospel by stages and phases later, and to those of you - members and not yet members - who may still be hanging back, to each of you, one and all, I testify of the renewing power of God's love and the miracle of His grace.
His concern is for the faith at which you finally arrive, not the hour of the day in which you got there.

So if you have made covenants, keep them. If you haven't made them, make them. If you have made them and broken them, repent and repair them. It is
never too late so long as the Master of the Vineyard says there is time. Please listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit telling you right now, this very moment, that you should except the atoning gift of the Lord Jesus Christ and enjoy the fellowship of His labor. Don't delay. It's getting late. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

I love this and hope that each and every one of you can take something from it. Make it apart of your life. I love you guys, you mean the world to me and I thank you for your love and support. 
We have so much to be thankful for... I hope that you all really thought about what we have in the states and how we are blessed every day... I would like you all to thank our Heavenly Father more and more for EVERYTHING that we have.. the little things mean the most! I love you guys. 

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

Get after it Gi, “How do you want people to remember Giavanno Long?? “

Con mucho amor, 
Elder Long!