"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, 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! 

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