"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, March 31, 2015

A difficult but most rewarding week...and many baptisms

Hey there fam and friends. I hope that this letter finds you guys alive and enjoying the March Madness! Great time of year for everyone!  March Madness and I have 6 weeks left! I have a ton of mixed feelings to say the least... I don’t know what to think about the time that I have left and what is going to happen in six weeks... life is going to change. This week was one of the toughest weeks on my mission but at the same time it was one of the most rewarding weeks that I have had on my entire mission. So lets get down to it shall we! 

So this week was the weekend of a big baptism and wedding. So the familia V. has been trying to get married for years and so he worked little by little to get the money for the papers and by the time he would get most of them done they would expire. So he has been at a lost cause trying to make this happen... so just about a month and half ago, he and his familia were having some challenges and his wife said a prayer and asked for help. Well, that same day we as missionaries found him. Can you believe it? It is just another example of how this is the Lords work and we are just His messengers. So that’s the story…the short version! The change we have seen with them is unbelievable.

This past week they got married and baptized, and that’s a whole new story in itself. So everything here government related is very complicated. So we had some miracles happen to say the least. Without going into details let me just tell you that what we accomplished in a day should have taken a good week. There is NO DOUBT the Lord was really on our side. So we got all the papers accomplished to get them married.

Another challenge and a common one was we didn’t have much money and neither did they so we took some money out from home, thanks dad! Well, we wanted them to appreciate the wedding and everything that we were doing so we thought that we would go to work to get all the money back and also to have a little party after the wedding. So this familia sells donuts for a living as I’ve told you before, that’s how they make their living. So they are famous here in C. for selling them. And BTW they are so good.  They also sell pastelitos de pina. In English it’s like a dessert - pineapple thing that are amazing!

So we went to work and sold about 800 between those and the donuts.... we helped them start making them at :830 am and were on the streets selling until about 9:30 for two days this week to make it all happen. It was quite the experience to say the least.... all I can say to wrap it up very easy is this, COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS AND WE ARE SOOOOOOOOOOO BLESSED TO LIVE IN AMERICA. NEVER GO A DAY WITHOUT THANKING THE LORD FOR WHAT WE HAVE. COUNT THE LITTLE LITTLIEST BLESSINGS.  It was an amazing experience.

So on Friday they got married and on the same day they got baptized. They were very emotional for all that had and did happen. It was a tough week to try and get it all pulled off but in the end it was the most rewarding week on my entire mission. After the wedding we went out to a restaurant, a Chinese one, that was amazing too! That was a whole other experience.... it all comes down to one thing…we need to be MORE THANKFUL... my mind was blown but I am so happy that what we did for them we could tell beyond belief that it was well worth it. Elder W. and I pretty much made it all happen haha between him and I we sold about 400 donuts and all, we got it done big time!

I also gave him my suit jacket and he was SO happy about that, it’s about the little things in life to say the least. I am so happy to be here and doing what I am doing and being able to experience things that no where else I could or would have the same experiences. I learned more this week than I ever thought I could about myself, life and others. I could go on for days about the lessons that I learned and all but it all comes down to one thing, GRATITUDE. I have a lot to say but I really don’t know how to say it.. it was just a marvelous experience. 

I don’t have much to say about this week except it was amazing and hard - hard - hard and just the most rewarding week ever. It was great, I wouldn’t change a thing about it. I am staying here for the last six weeks of my mission and don’t have changes this Wednesday. I will also be with the same companion and he better get ready because we have much to accomplish in 6 weeks. I am kicking it and doing great and just dealing with all this heat, it sucks to say the least but all good! 



Elder Long  

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Another wonderful baptism

Hey there familia and amigos! I hope that this letter finds you guys alive and kicking as well as I am. All is good here, just making the most of the heated days and sweating up a storm like no other! The time is going bye faster and faster and I can’t even believe it! But this week was good, we had a good time baking in the sun, getting some things done, and helping those people that needed our help. It is all good here in the desert of Comayagua baby! So lets get down to it shall we… 

So this week we helped prepare O.C for her baptism, another gator dunked and extremely happy for the decision that she made. She is wonderful and has been blessed in so many ways. So the quick low down of O. is that she has listened to the missionaries for years and has never taken the step to move forward for no reason really. It just wasn’t the time and very important. We told her what was up and what she needed to do and now she feels alive and better than ever before. We are very happy for her and I know that she is doing great with this change in her life.

We are working on five other gators for this weekend. Familia V. are there names and they have changed their lives so much, especially the husband to say the least... wow it has been an AMAZING time working with them and helping them align their lives more with what the Lord expects from them. They are great and are going to be getting married this Friday and baptized the same day.  So we are SUPER happy for them and all that is going on with them and the positive changes happening in their lives. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers this week and in the coming weeks.


What else? Well, President F.came and worked with us one day thisweek, I have never had that opportunity before so that was pretty cool. He took us out to eat at Wendy’s and we just talked and had a good time. He had a great time with Familia V. and they broke down when he came to visit them. It was a great experience for them to feel the spirit really strong for someone that really wants the best for them. They have had a ton of challenges to say the least but the change is amazing. We are all so happy for them.

Thinking thinking thinking.... every day seems like a blend from one day to the next… haha I think honestly that’s all I have for you guys.

Take a look at something that I read and studied this week that I really enjoyed and hope that you guys can get something out of it as well as I did.

The Savior’s Selfless and Sacred Sacrifice by President Boyd K. Packer. President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

The Lord is always there. He has suffered and paid the penalty if you are willing to accept Him as your Redeemer.

We all live on spiritual credit. In one way or another, the account builds and builds. If you pay it off as you go, you have little need to worry. Soon you begin to learn discipline and know that there is a day of reckoning ahead. Learn to keep your spiritual account paid off at regular intervals rather than allowing it to collect interest and penalties.
Because you are being tested, it is expected that you will make some mistakes. I assume that you have done things in your life that you regret, things that you cannot even apologize for, much less correct; therefore, you carry a burden. It is time now to use the word guilt, which can stain like indelible ink and cannot easily be washed away. A stepchild of guilt is disappointment, regret for lost blessings and opportunities.
If you are struggling with guilt, you are not unlike the people of the Book of Mormon of whom the prophet said, “Because of their iniquity the church had begun to dwindle; and they began to disbelieve in the spirit of prophecy and in the spirit of revelation; and the judgments of God did stare them in the face” (Helaman 4:23).
We often try to solve the problem of guilt by telling one another and telling ourselves that it does not matter. But somehow, deep inside, we do not believe this. Nor do we believe ourselves if we say it. We know better. It does matter!
Prophets have always taught repentance. Alma said, “Behold, he cometh to redeem those who will be baptized unto repentance, through faith on his name” (Alma 9:27).
Alma bluntly told his wayward son, “Now, repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment, which also was eternal as the life of the soul should be, affixed opposite to the plan of happiness” (Alma 42:16).
There are two basic purposes for mortal life. The first is to receive a body that can, if we will, be purified and exalted and live forever. The second purpose is to be tested. In testing, we certainly will make mistakes. But if we will, we can learn from our mistakes. “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:10).
You, perhaps, may feel inferior in mind and body and are troubled or burdened with the weight of some spiritual account that is marked “past due.” When you come face to face with yourself in those moments of quiet contemplation (which many of us try to avoid), are there some unsettled things that bother you? Do you have something on your conscience? Are you still, to one degree or another, guilty of anything small or large?
Too frequently we receive letters from those who have made tragic mistakes and are burdened. They beg: “Can I ever be forgiven? Can I ever change?” The answer is yes!
Paul taught the Corinthians, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
The gospel teaches us that relief from torment and guilt can be earned through repentance. Save for those few—those very few—who defect to perdition after having known a fulness, there is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no offense small or large which is exempt from the promise of complete forgiveness. No matter what has happened in your life, the Lord has prepared a way for you to come back if you will heed the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Some are filled with a compelling urge, a temptation that recycles in the mind, perhaps to become a habit, then an addiction. We are prone to some transgression and sin and also a rationalization that we have no guilt because we were born that way. We become trapped, and hence comes the pain and torment that only the Savior can heal. You have the power to stop and to be redeemed.

Satan Attacks the Family
President Marion G. Romney (1897–1988) told me once, “Don’t just tell them so that they can understand, tell them so that they cannot misunderstand.”
Nephi said: “For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding” (2 Nephi 31:3).
So listen up! I will speak plainly as one called and under obligation to do so.
You know that there is an adversary. The scriptures define him in these terms: “That old serpent, who is the devil, … the father of all lies” (2 Nephi 2:18). He was cast out in the beginning (see D&C 29:36–38) and denied a mortal body. He has now sworn to disrupt “the great plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8) and become an enemy to all righteousness. He focuses his attacks on the family.
You live in a day when the scourge of pornography is sweeping across the world. It is hard to escape it. Pornography is focused on that part of your nature through which you have the power to beget life.
To indulge in pornography leads to difficulties, divorce, disease, and troubles of a dozen kinds. There is no part of it that is innocent. To collect it, view it, or carry it around in any form is akin to keeping a rattlesnake in your backpack. It exposes you to the inevitable spiritual equivalent of the serpent’s strike with its injection of deadly venom. One can easily understand, with the world being what it is, that you can almost innocently be exposed to it, read it, or view it without realizing the terrible consequences. If that describes you, I warn you to stop it. Stop it now!
The Book of Mormon teaches that all “men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil” (2 Nephi 2:5). That includes you. You know what is right and what is wrong. Be very careful not to cross that line.
Although most mistakes can be confessed privately to the Lord, there are some transgressions that require more than that to bring about forgiveness. If your mistakes have been grievous, see your bishop. Otherwise, ordinary confession, quietly and personally, will do. But remember, that great morning of forgiveness may not come all at once. If at first you stumble, do not give up. Overcoming discouragement is part of the test. Do not give up. And as I have counseled before, once you have confessed and forsaken your sins, do not look back.

The Savior Suffered for Our Sins
The Lord is always there. He has suffered and paid the penalty if you are willing to accept Him as your Redeemer.
As mortals, we may not, indeed cannot, understand fully how the Savior fulfilled His atoning sacrifice. But for now the how is not as important as the why of His suffering. Why did He do it for you, for me, for all of humanity? He did it for the love of God the Father and all mankind. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
In Gethsemane, Christ went apart from His Apostles to pray. Whatever transpired is beyond our power to know! But we do know that He completed the Atonement. He was willing to take upon Himself the mistakes, the sins and guilt, the doubts and fears of all the world. He suffered for us so that we would not have to suffer. Many mortals have suffered torment and died a painful, terrible death. But His agony surpassed them all.
At my age, I have come to know what physical pain is, and it is no fun! Nobody escapes this life without learning a thing or two about suffering. But the personal torment that I cannot bear is when I have come to know that I have caused another to suffer. It is then that I catch a glimpse of the agony the Savior experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane.
His suffering was different than all other suffering before or since because He took upon Himself all of the penalties that had ever been imposed on the human family. Imagine that! He had no debt to pay. He had committed no wrong. Nevertheless, an accumulation of all of the guilt, the grief and sorrow, the pain and humiliation, all of the mental, emotional, and physical torments known to man—He experienced them all. There has been only One in all the annals of human history who was entirely sinless, qualified to answer for the sins and transgressions of all mankind and survive the pain that accompanied paying for them.
He presented His life and in essence said, “It is I that taketh upon me the sins of the world” (Mosiah 26:23). He was crucified; He died. They could not take His life from Him. He consented to die.

Complete Forgiveness Is Possible
If you have stumbled or even been lost for a time, if you feel that the adversary now holds you captive, you can move forward with faith and not wander to and fro in the world any longer. There are those who stand ready to guide you back to peace and security. Even the grace of God, as promised in the scriptures, comes “after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). The possibility of this, to me, is the truth most worth knowing.
I promise that the brilliant morning of forgiveness can come. Then “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) comes into your life once again, something like a sunrise, and you and He “will remember [your] sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). How will you know? You will know! (See Mosiah 4:1–3.)
This is what I have come to teach you who are in trouble. He will step in and solve the problem you cannot solve, but you have to pay the price. It does not come without doing that. He is a very kind ruler in the sense that He has paid the price necessary, but He wants you to do what you should, even if it is painful.
I love the Lord, and I love the Father who sent Him. Our burdens of disappointment, sin, and guilt can be laid before Him, and on His generous terms, each item on the account can be marked “paid in full.”
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” That is, Isaiah continued, “if ye be willing and obedient” (Isaiah 1:18–19).

Come unto Him
The scripture “learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God” (Alma 37:35) is an invitation attended by the promise of peace and protection from the adversary. “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).
Do not expect that all will go smoothly throughout your life. Even for those who are living as they should, it sometimes will be just the opposite. Meet each of life’s challenges with optimism and surety, and you will have the peace and faith to sustain you now and in the future.
For those who do not yet have all of the blessings you feel you want and need to have, I firmly believe that no experience or opportunity essential for redemption and salvation will be denied you who live faithfully. Remain worthy; be hopeful, patient, and prayerful. Things have a way of working out. The gift of the Holy Ghost will guide you and direct your actions.
If you are one of those struggling with guilt, disappointment, or depression as a result of mistakes you have made or blessings that have not yet come, read the reassuring teachings found in the hymn “Come unto Jesus”:
Come unto Jesus, ye heavy laden,
Careworn and fainting, by sin oppressed.
He’ll safely guide you unto that haven
Where all who trust him may rest.
Come unto Jesus; He’ll ever heed you,
Though in the darkness you’ve gone astray.
His love will find you and gently lead you
From darkest night into day.
Come unto Jesus; He’ll surely hear you,
If you in meekness plead for his love.
Oh, know you not that angels are near you
From brightest mansions above?1
I claim, with my Brethren the Apostles, to be a special witness of the Lord Jesus Christ. That witness is reaffirmed each time I feel within myself or in others the cleansing effect of His sacred sacrifice. My witness, and that of my Brethren, is true. We know the Lord. He is no stranger to His prophets, seers, and revelators.
I understand that you’re not perfect, but you are moving along that road. Have the courage. Know that any person who has a body has power over one who has not.2 Satan is denied a body; so if ever you are confronted with temptations, know that you outrank all those temptations if you will exercise the agency given to Adam and Eve in the garden and passed on to this very generation.
If you look forward with hope and desire to do that which the Lord would have you do—that is all that is expected.

Con Mucho Amore,
Elder Long!

I love teaching this work

Hey there familia and friends! I hope this letter finds you guys a little bit cooler than we are right about now... I am MISERABLE with this heat. I am really trying to let it not effect me but it’s bad to say the least... but we’re grinding and doing our thing that is for sure! We are making the most of every day and really working hard these last two months. I am going ham before I go home, leaving my stamp where I have been… that’s what it’s all about right?

We have had a very good week. I wasn’t feeling great this week health wise for some reason, I think it was a combo of the one two punch aka the heat and allergies or cold. I am not too sure what it really was but other than that we had a lot of work to do and things to get done so there was no time to be sick.

We are really working hard with a lot of people right now that are going to get baptized soon. They are some really good gators to say the least! So other than the heat and just dripping from every spot on your body, I don’t have much more to say hahah so I am going to give you the lowdown on the gators that we have! Lets geter done shall we. 

So the first familia that we are teaching is the familia V. and they are amazing! They are a familia of 8 people and four are going to be baptized and the rest are young little munchkins that right now won’t be getting baptized. They will get baptized when they are 8 years of age. So this familia is literally one of the best examples of giving all they have to the Lord and doing what the Lord wants them to do. He used to work every day of the week, and now he has given up Sundays and he comes to church with his entire familia. When he is out working on the streets he works with a baby stroller to carry the donuts that they make and he goes around to sell them. He makes about 400 limperas a day and he says at the end of the day when they buy all the food for the fam he is maybe left with 20 or 30 limperas. He is a great example of being humble and doing what the Lord wants for him on Sundays. It is a BIG sacrifice to not work Sunday but the Lord has blessed him everyday to sell more than he has ever sold these past two weeks. He is seeing the blessings of the Lord, that is for sure! They are doing everything that they should be doing. They are praying, reading the scriptures and obeying the Lord. There is nothing better than seeing a familia that has completely changed their attitude on life. I can testify to you that this couple had prayed individually for help before we met them. The wife prayed that someone would talk to her husband and help him... but she prayed and asked the Lord that someone or a messenger from God would come to him. She prayed that God would show her, his real power by sending someone so that he really would change... can you imagine that? A part of that prayer was that someone could find him and help him. And while she was praying he too prayed that someone could find him that would be able to help him… and that same day, we as missionaries found him selling donuts on the street.  From that moment on, we knew that he and his son and his familia would be special to say the least... that’s how the story began. Now they are a familia that gets to church 15 min early, they all come in white shirts and pants and come to church with a tie on (since we hooked them up). They are just great. So that is the one familia that we are teaching that should be getting baptized this weekend or the next. We have to marry them first and are working on the papers with them. The wife’s sister too is going to be getting baptized as well.

We are also working with a familia friend of a baptism that we had some weeks back, his name was D, but now we are teaching his familia friend and she is going to be baptized this week! She is great, her name is O! She is so cool and is just such a loving and ready woman to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. I  am very happy for her and the familia! 

We are teaching a lot of others right now but these are the most positive people that we are teaching. We are moving along. We are looking to baptize about 6 people in the next week or dos. All is good, making the most of every day.

Thanks so mucho for your love and support, you guys are great and you each mean a lot to me. I hope that your all making good choices and doing what the Lord has in store for you. Everything you do, do it big! I know we each can always give more. If you feel like you are, ask the Lord for more strength and I promise that he will be there to help you. Thanks for the support and I want each and every one of you to know that without YOU I am not here today doing what you have all helped me prepare for. Thank YOU. 

Con mucho amor,
elder long! 

Eating out with a friend of mine here! Great food he took us to! Mr V. and one of his sons! When Porter and I hit up some good food when he had to get an exam in Teg. He’s all good though! Enjoy the pics. 

I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed- MJ I LOVE THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GET AFTER IT THIS WEEK GUYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Monday, March 9, 2015

My journey in FINDING THE ONE continues...

Hope you guys were able to watch those videos I sent last week and learn from them. 

So this week got real my fellow loving followers.... I got my flight info to be coming home... I can’t believe that my time is coming to an end... it’s sad and I have mixed emotions, but it’s all good. I won’t miss the heat that’s for sure! It’s sooo brutal right now it’s not even funny. The humidity is horrible and you just sweat all the time.. even at night with a fan sometimes it just blows hot air so you just sit there and wake up in the morning and there is like your body mark on the sheets from sweat! hahaha So yea it’s kinda bad but there could be a lot of worse things that’s for sure! What else happened this week?

So this week we started working on papers for two different couples to get married and baptize. So that is a lot of fun to say the least! NOT! The places where you have to get all the papers and stuff are so unorganized and all. I really don’t know how places here function at times, it’s really bad to say the least... they just don’t have all the info and then when they do they try and charge us more for obvious reasons. So yea, right now we are getting all the papers done to get these couples married so they can be baptized. They are super excited!

The one couple is familia V. and they are amazing. I believe I told you about them last week. Lhey are chosen from God and are working just so hard to align their lives with the teachings from the Lord. We are so proud of them. There are five in their familia that are going to be baptized, they are just he MOST HUMBLE familia... they are amazing. Like many here their living conditions are something to be said and they are just trying to do everything exactly like we tell them.

So a little story about them that is amazing! So last Sunday we promised this guy if he kept the commandments regarding keeping the Sabbath Day the Lord would bless him like never before. So this guy sells donuts on the streets every day to make a little money for the food and to pay basic bills. He sells about 400 donuts every day and so we promised him if he went to church that he would sell so much more. So we told him to make 600 donuts because he would sell all of them. So Monday guess what? The Lord blessed him and he sold 650 donuts.... he was so happy I can’t even tell you.

Look at what the Lord can do when we are willing to do his will.. we can all learn from this brothers and sisters, I promise you when you do what the Lord wants he will bless us so much. Don’t question it, just DO IT.

So the other familia is familia H. They are amazing too. The wife has 3 years going to church and she has never been able to get baptized because her husband has NEVER wanted to get married.  Just so you know you have to be married before you are baptized; you can’t just be living together. I have been building a relationship with this man the entire time here and he has opened up to me and we have a great relationship. He finally made the choice to get married, 30 years later with being with her and she can get baptized. When he said that he was going to marry her, she left the room and was crying so much. The whole familia was there and the daughter said a prayer after that was one of the most powerful prayers that I have heard on my mission. The daughter was so thankful for all that we have done and said that the Lord has answered her prayers. I promised the daughter and the mother that if they fasted and prayed hard every Sunday that the Lord would bless them and that I promised them that before I left here she would be able to get married and baptized and it’s going to happen at the end of this month, I have NEVER seen someone so happy in my life when she heard that she could be married... it was by far one of the highlights of my mission. 

We also did some service this week and were building a house out of rock and adobe which that was pretty cool to learn how to do that and help the familia V. out. That is where we did the service project as a district. It was a good time! We wrestled the husband and were just having a great old time like big boys do and it was a lot of fun and they were super thankful for all that we did to help them . So it was a good time to say the least! 

We went to the AF base this past Monday and I got to meet some guys from the Academy that were pilots and passing through, it was a great time! They are C17 pilots and we ate with them and it was good to talk about the good ol promise land and all that good stuff. It was a lot of fun and all! The food at the base was soo good but only one thing hahaha i got so sick after. I think my stomach was in SHOCK from American food hahaha oh grrreeeeeeeeatttt hope that doesn’t give me hints of what it will be like when I get back hahaha but it was soo good!!!!!!!!!!!!


Free Forever, to Act for Themselves

It is God’s will that we be free men and women enabled to rise to our full potential both temporally and spiritually.

William Shakespeare’s play The Life of King Henry Vincludes a nighttime scene in the camp of English soldiers at Agincourt just before their battle with the French army. In the dim light and partially disguised, King Henry wanders unrecognized among his soldiers. He talks with them, trying to gauge the morale of his badly outnumbered troops, and because they do not realize who he is, they are candid in their comments. In one exchange they philosophize about who bears responsibility for what happens to men in battle—the king or each individual soldier.
At one point King Henry declares, “Methinks I could not die any where so contented as in the king’s company; his cause being just.”
Michael Williams retorts, “That’s more than we know.”
His companion agrees, “Ay, or more than we should seek after; for we know enough, if we know we are the king’s subjects: if his cause be wrong, our obedience to the king wipes the crime of it out of us.”
Williams adds, “If the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make.”
Not surprisingly, King Henry disagrees. “Every subject’s duty is the king’s; but every subject’s soul is his own.”1
Shakespeare does not attempt to resolve this debate in the play, and in one form or another it is a debate that continues down to our own time—who bears responsibility for what happens in our lives?
When things turn bad, there is a tendency to blame others or even God. Sometimes a sense of entitlement arises, and individuals or groups try to shift responsibility for their welfare to other people or to governments. In spiritual matters some suppose that men and women need not strive for personal righteousness—because God loves and saves us “just as we are.”
But God intends that His children should act according to the moral agency He has given them, “that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.”2 It is His plan and His will that we have the principal decision-making role in our own life’s drama. God will not live our lives for us nor control us as if we were His puppets, as Lucifer once proposed to do. Nor will His prophets accept the role of “puppet master” in God’s place. Brigham Young stated: “I do not wish any Latter Day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the LordJesus Christ,—the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied. I wish them to know for themselves and understand for themselves.”3
So God does not save us “just as we are,” first, because “just as we are” we are unclean, and “no unclean thing can dwell … in his presence; for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man [of Holiness].”4 And second, God will not act to make us something we do not choose by our actions to become. Truly He loves us, and because He loves us, He neither compels nor abandons us. Rather He helps and guides us. Indeed, the real manifestation of God’s love is His commandments.
We should (and we do) rejoice in the God-ordained plan that permits us to make choices to act for ourselves and experience the consequences, or as the scriptures express it, to “taste the bitter, that [we] may know to prize the good.”5 We are forever grateful that the Savior’s Atonement overcame original sin so that we can be born into this world yet not be punished for Adam’s transgression.6 Having been thus redeemed from the Fall, we begin life innocent before God and “become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for [ourselves] and not to be acted upon.”7 We can choose to become the kind of person that we will, and with God’s help, that can be even as He is.8
The gospel of Jesus Christ opens the path to what we may become. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and His grace, our failures to live the celestial law perfectly and consistently in mortality can be erased and we are enabled to develop a Christlike character. Justice demands, however, that none of this happen without our willing agreement and participation. It has ever been so. Our very presence on earth as physical beings is the consequence of a choice each of us made to participate in our Father’s plan.9 Thus, salvation is certainly not the result of divine whim, but neither does it happen by divine will alone.10
Justice is an essential attribute of God. We can have faith in God because He is perfectly trustworthy. The scriptures teach us that “God doth not walk in crooked paths, neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left, neither doth he vary from that which he hath said, therefore his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round”11 and that “God is no respecter of persons.”12 We rely on the divine quality of justice for faith, confidence, and hope.
But as a consequence of being perfectly just, there are some things God cannot do. He cannot be arbitrary in saving some and banishing others. He “cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.”13 He cannot allow mercy to rob justice.14
It is compelling evidence of His justice that God has forged the companion principle of mercy. It is because He is just that He devised the means for mercy to play its indispensable role in our eternal destiny. So now, “justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own.”15
We know that it is “the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom [the Father] wast well pleased; … the blood of [His] Son which was shed”16 that satisfies the demands of justice, extends mercy, and redeems us.17 Even so, “according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance.18 It is the requirement of and the opportunity for repentance that permits mercy to perform its labor without trampling justice.
Christ died not to save indiscriminately but to offer repentance. We rely “wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save”19 in the process of repentance, but acting to repent is a self-willed change. So by making repentance a condition for receiving the gift of grace, God enables us to retain responsibility for ourselves. Repentance respects and sustains our moral agency: “And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption.”20
Misunderstanding God’s justice and mercy is one thing; denying God’s existence or supremacy is another, but either will result in our achieving less—sometimes far less—than our full, divine potential. A God who makes no demands is the functional equivalent of a God who does not exist. A world without God, the living God who establishes moral laws to govern and perfect His children, is also a world without ultimate truth or justice. It is a world where moral relativism reigns supreme.
Relativism means each person is his or her own highest authority. Of course, it is not just those who deny God that subscribe to this philosophy. Some who believe in God still believe that they themselves, individually, decide what is right and wrong. One young adult expressed it this way: “I don’t think I could say that Hinduism is wrong or Catholicism is wrong or being Episcopalian is wrong—I think it just depends on what you believe. … I don’t think that there’s a right and wrong.”21 Another, asked about the basis for his religious beliefs, replied, “Myself—it really comes down to that. I mean, how could there be authority to what you believe?”22
To those who believe anything or everything could be true, the declaration of objective, fixed, and universal truth feels like coercion—“I shouldn’t be forced to believe something is true that I don’t like.” But that does not change reality. Resenting the law of gravity won’t keep a person from falling if he steps off a cliff. The same is true for eternal law and justice. Freedom comes not from resisting it but from applying it. That is fundamental to God’s own power. If it were not for the reality of fixed and immutable truths, the gift of agency would be meaningless since we would never be able to foresee and intend the consequences of our actions. As Lehi expressed it: “If ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.”23
In matters both temporal and spiritual, the opportunity to assume personal responsibility is a God-given gift without which we cannot realize our full potential as daughters and sons of God. Personal accountability becomes both a right and a duty that we must constantly defend; it has been under assault since before the Creation. We must defend accountability against persons and programs that would (sometimes with the best of intentions) make us dependent. And we must defend it against our own inclinations to avoid the work that is required to cultivate talents, abilities, and Christlike character.
The story is told of a man who simply would not work. He wanted to be taken care of in every need. To his way of thinking, the Church or the government, or both, owed him a living because he had paid his taxes and histithing. He had nothing to eat but refused to work to care for himself. Out of desperation and disgust, those who had tried to help him decided that since he would not lift a finger to sustain himself, they might as well just take him to the cemetery and let him pass on. On the way to the cemetery, one man said, “We can’t do this. I have some corn I will give him.”
So they explained this to the man, and he asked, “Have the husks been removed?”
They responded, “No.”
“Well, then,” he said, “drive on.”
It is God’s will that we be free men and women enabled to rise to our full potential both temporally and spiritually, that we be free from the humiliating limitations of poverty and the bondage of sin, that we enjoy self-respect and independence, that we be prepared in all things to join Him in His celestial kingdom.
I am under no illusion that this can be achieved by our own efforts alone without His very substantial and constant help. “We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”24 And we do not need to achieve some minimum level of capacity or goodness before God will help—divine aid can be ours every hour of every day, no matter where we are in the path of obedience. But I know that beyond desiring His help, we must exert ourselves, repent, and choose God for Him to be able to act in our lives consistent with justice and moral agency. My plea is simply to take responsibility and go to work so that there is something for God to help us with.
I bear witness that God the Father lives, that His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Redeemer, and that the Holy Spirit is present with us. Their desire to help us is undoubted, and Their capacity to do so is infinite. Let us “awake, and arise from the dust, … that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto [us] may be fulfilled.”25 In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 HAVE A GREAT ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOVES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Con mucho amor, 
Eder Long! 

 Don’t worry that bullet hole was there before we got in the taxi hahahaha all good, just another story!!!!!!!