Tuesday, April 12, 2016

7 April 2016

Well, this week's news- Viedma. I'm excited to be here. It's compelety different from everything I've ever seen before in my mission. It's in a different provincia, and it's all a new adventure. I don't really know why im here, but I'm sure I'll find out. I like it. We've got a few investigadors. One is Diego. He's not a person who believes a lot, but he's learning and he always does his reading and gets really excited whenever we come. Then we have Luciana and Ursula. Mother and daughter. We're just starting to teach them. Then there's Valeria. She was an investigator of the elders for a long time, and now she's our investigator. I'll keep you updated on how the investigador search goes this week.

Also, I'm really happy to be with my companion. Hna Antuña is super cool. We're practicing English. She wants to be a "10"[at English]. Her english is really good, she just mixes up little things. Like he and she. Stuff like that. And I'm teaching her to dance in the morning. She can't dance as well as she can speak english. We work hard together, and we also laugh a lot together.

Well I'm running out of time, so I'll leave it there for this week. Hope you have an awesome week. And dont worry about me, my eating is going well. I don't have pain if I don't eat what I'm not supposed to. I've dropped 3 kilos, cause I was super bloated from the bad pancreas, but that went away, so all's good here in Viedma.

Hermana Long

Sunday, April 10, 2016

31 March 2016

Well, the big news.... transfers. I am not dying in Trenque Lauquen. Im dying (as the say) in Viedma. Its the most southern part of the mission. I went to the most south from the most north. It's been weird. But you'll never guess who my companion is... Hna Antuña. We came to argentina together, lived in Balcarce together, always talked about being companions, but thought it wasn't going to happen. So yeah. That was transfers. We're the only hermanas in our zone (again). We share the area with the zone leaders. They're a little distant, and have a lot of elder friends, cause they live 6 in the house, so it's very different from in Trenque. But they seem like good elders.

What else can i tell you about this week? We were super suprised by the transfers, cause they took the hermanas out and put in elders. That was weird. All the members are upset. They might storm the mission office. 

Marta got confirmed on Sunday. That was nice. It was Elder Perkins last and first confirmation (is that spelled right). "Last" because he was dying, first cause he'd never done one in his whole mission. Marta's husband, Delfin, came and says that he's gonna keep coming and listening to the charlas. 

Ummm, we're really excited for general conference. Hna Antuña wants to watch in english with me, but she's not sure she can. She speaks super good english but says that "church language" is hard. She put the goal to pray in english, but she's too scared to do it. She convinced me to pray in english last night, and it was a super humbling experience. I hadn't prayed in english since the MTC, and I realized just how much the way I've prayed has changed. It's not repetitive, it just comes from my heart. I ask differently, I thank differently, I end differently. The name of Jesus Christ has come to be something even more special in this time. I'm not one of those people who closes "nameajesuscrist" anymore. It was just a very interesting way to see my progress.

What else.... when we left, we showed up at the terminal and a whole bunch of people from the ward showed up, and the presidente de rama helped drive us and all our stuff to the terminal, and I just felt super loved. Marta and her husband showed up to wait with us for a while. Oh, and we had to say goodbye to our sweet neighbor and we could just see how much she loved us. It's amazing to see just how much so many different people can love us. I love the mission.

Guess what else? I finally feel like a skilled missionary. Last Saturday, we'd set up an appointment with a menos activa, and when we showed up, she started with "well wasn't it tomorrow, i have to work today" and didn't want to let us in. Did i give up? NO. i asked her what her work was, and she told me that she sells clothes from her house. So I asked to see her clothes. Then I started asking inspired questions (really inspired, cause I'm not a very good question maker on my own) and she started telling me about her conversion and her doubts and concerns, and it was just a really nice moment. And I felt like, wow, I really can do this missionary thing. It was a nice moment. Well, I'm about out of time for this letter, but I hope you have an awesome week and to hear from you soon. 

Hermana Long

24 March 2016

What can i tell you about this week?

1-Marta got baptized, and shes super happy.

A bunch of her family came and had a super spiritual experience. We're now friends with her granddaughter, who wants to go to church and take the charlas, so that's good. Our lider misional, Ignacio, the 18 year old kid, baptized her, and since then she's been calling him "mi padrino" or godfather. We tried to explain that that's just not it, but she's so happy that we gave up telling her. This Sunday in church she's gonna get confirmed, and she's super excited. And let me tell you about the font- it was super gross. For years, people never cleaned it, and now it's just a mess. It's got a gross layer of algae or moss or i dunno what on the bottom. We spent like 2 hours cleaning it out. And the drain is super bad so we had to use buckets, and dust pans and a mop and squeegies to get all the water out. But in the end it didnt smell too bad, and it was just enough to wash away her sins.

2- I GOT THE PACKAGES!!!! I feel so loved. i said to all the missionaries- my mom really does love me :) I was so happy. i especially liked the note with your testimony. i taped it in my little book where everyone writes notes so i cant loose it. 

3- Elder Perkins is dying. Or rather, he's going home. All week we've been trying to make him feel happy, so he can go home happy. On Tuesday we had the reunion de distrito, and we threw him a going home party. It started out as a funeral- we all wore black, and had flowers and pretended to cry as e paternina told him a story about him dying and going to the final judgment, then it turned into a party. We threw glitter, we "danced" (mostly just pumped our fists in the air awkwardly) to the music from efy and threw confetti at him. And then the spiritual part- he shared his testimony with us. And it's so crazy, cause I've known him since the Olavarria days, like more than 6 months, and I've seen how much he's changed and grown. And then he threw the glitter at us and we just laughed and laughed.

4- The cold weather is coming in. Cold nights, cold mornings, cold days. And then hot again. Everyone is getting sick. And I never know what to wear. Today it was chilly, so I'm wearing my new sweatshirt, a beanie, jeans, and my cool argentine shoes.

5- Against my better judgment, I'm going to tell you about my health. Since i left Olavarria, I've been little by little having stomach problems. Not like digestive problems, like my liver and gall bladder. And as someone who had gall bladder problems you can tell me what to do. These days, whenever I eat, the top of my stomach hurts. And I've been eating super healthy these days. But whenever I eat anything it hurts, especially sugar, or starch. We've been talking about what it could be and we've got some candidates-
  1. celiac- the gluten intolerance. It explains the bad liver symptoms and why a little bit of bread killed me yesterday.
  2. gall stones- that would explain the pains that I get when I eat that go away pretty fast.
  3. thyroid- that's what a menos activa told me to explain the ridiculous hair loss I've been having. But I don't think it's highly likely.
  4. stress- all the members tell me its stress about going home. That's always a possibitlity.
Now, dont worry. Please don't freak out. It's nothing super bad. I can always walk and talk, it's just the consistency that has me worried. I just don't want it to get worse. But if you could tell me what your experience with the gall stones was like, I think it would help.

6- Pehuajo- thats where the reunion de distrito was. It's a little pueblo with a little casa capilla. And its super nice. It's nicer than every chapel I've ever been in in argentina. It's clean and well maintained and the bathroom doesn't smell bad. I really liked it.

I'm gonna share what president shared with us this week about prayer. We've been really focusing on praying with real intent, and this is something I really liked. Sometimes when we pray, we get in the routine of "please bless that this can happen, and "please bless that." He says that that's not the most worthwhile way to pray, it's better to pray like this (an example for me) "father, I'm gonna go out and contact. It's not easy, but I'm gonna go out and do it. Please help me that I can do what I have to do safely and that I can have your guide." Or a good example for [Mom]- "father, please help me to do my exercise and be good." Better- "Father, I'm going to bed now, and I'm setting the alarm so that I can wake up and work out. All that I ask you is that you can help me to be strong, that you can strengthen my good choices." That's real intent. Don't forget- jose smith didn't just go into the woods to find out what church is true, he went into the forest to know which church was true so that he could baptize himself in it. Pray like jose smith, with real intent.
Well, now that's all for this week. 
Love you bunches!
Hermana Long​

17 March 2016

Ok my notes from this week... 
number one... we've got a baptism this week. The abuela Marta is getting baptized on Friday. She's super excited. She already had her interview and we made invitations and she's already inviting everyone. She's just super excited and super converted. And her husband is progressing super well. He now sits in on the visits and prays when it's his turn. And we're now teaching her inactive brother and his wife who's not a member.

number two... my birthday... it started with an Elder R juice party- where you wake up at two in the morning to drink juice and go back to bed. So we did. And the theme was "21 birthday" there was really strong orange peach juice, red solo cups and 21 shots of the orange juice in the red solo cups. And party sunglasses and money napkins. Then my comp woke up early to make me breakfast and decorate the house in Happy Birthday stuff. Then we went to lunch at Marta's house with Marta, Delfin and the elders. We made invitaciones and helped a little with the lunch and my comp brought the cake- a strawberry pizza. It was awesome. Then the elders and our lider misional threw a suprise party... my comp was in on it... it was super well done, I had no idea. There was lying and code words and ballons with all our inside jokes and a super tasty cake. It was a win win for everyone.

also, number 3... we've started a game of donkey kong in real life. It's a list of kinds of street contacts we need to do with a point system. The elders are super excited. I really like being here in Trenque Lauquen... the elders have become our best friends, our lider misional helps us a lot, my comp is just the best... I really hope this doesn't change. But I've heard from the leaders that there's a lot of really big changes coming in a week. So I hope everything goes well in transfers in a week and a half.

Well, that's it for this week. I'll send more next week.
Hermana Long

Pretty sunrise from the balcony. Speaking of balcony, we've started eating the cilantro. It's a success.  Also, after 16 months of searching, I found some in a fruiteria. It was a really good day. I've been eating cilantro like a crazy woman.

A giant lollipop that my comp bought me for my birthday. i finished it in four days

My birthday asado

Marta's baptism day... I'm wearing the shirt she got me for my birthday.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

10 March 2016

So, first I want to tell you about today. It's 10 o'clock in the morning and we already had a huge spiritual experience today. That's pretty much how Trenque Lauquen is, we just cram everything in, then the best things happen when I'm least expecting. So anyway, yesterday we were with our investigator, M, my favorite fun argentine grandma, and she's going thru a bit of a hard time. First, her son has cancer, and they told him that it's complicated. Second, she, as all good abuelas do, has a bum knee. And the doctor says that she has to not walk a lot. And has to bike. Three, when she was biking around town, a car hit her bike and she fell and hurt everything worse, and especially her bum knee. Four, her cancer son has a catscan today and the last time he freaked out and couldn't do it, so she's nervous about that. So last night we told her that the missionaries could come give her a blessing if she wants it and has faith, so she said she did. So we called the elderes and we four went today, p-day, in our p-day clothes all the way to M's house to give her a blessing. And it was a super spiritual experience. Her husband was there, and he's not super believing in god and religion and all that, but we asked M who she wanted to give the blessing, and he was like, can we all just pray, and she explained to him that the elders had to do it, and I said "well, we'll just finish the "spiritual part" with everyone saying a prayer." So then the elders gave her the blessing, and it was super special. And then we all took turns, all six of us saying a prayer. The elders started, then Hermana Nomellini, then M and then it was D, her husband's, turn. AND HE PRAYED. For the first time. And he just said what was in his heart. And I've seen such a big change in him. In all the time weve been with M, we haven't been able to teach him very much, cause he's not a big fan of religous talks. But more and more, he's participating. And this week, he started praying with us. And today he prayed. And it was a beautiful, heartfelt, faithful prayer. And then I finished. And then we hugged M, and she shook the elders hands and she was just so greatful. Then they gave D huge hugs and we shook his hand with all we got. And the spirit was strong. Everyone had tears in their eyes. Even the elders. It was just a beautiful moment. And then we left. And now they're ready to take their son to the study. They've just progressed so much and on that note.....

¡BAUTISMO! M's getting baptized on the 19th. She's so excited. We were a little nervous to give her a date, cause we always talk about her baptism, but she's told us a few times that she wants to take her time. But we felt super strongly that shes ready to accept a fecha and that she'll be ready the day it comes. And she said, yes, finally. Then we went and invited some of her grandkids and her son in law to her baptism. She's just so great and a perfect example of conversion and fruits of repentance. For example- she went to church alone last week, she wants to clean the church, she told us that the gospel taught her that she needs to be nice and say hi to people even when they dont say hi (these things are super important here in Argentina), she also said that she needs to stop saying bad words and she's doing it, little things like that. And it's all just one big thing- conversion. I LOVE THE MISSION!!!!! So yeah, that's what's going on in Trenque Lauquen. Umm, what else.

Yesterday was zone conference. My last zone conference. We went to Santa Rosa. You know who's in Santa Rosa??? Hermana Bindley, my ex comp, best friend and future roommate. It was so awesome to see her. I felt like Alma when he runs into his buddies and they've all stayed faithful and he's so proud of their progress. We started talking and we talked about the work and mission life and everything we've learned ALL NIGHT. It was the best. I love how I have the opportunity to see conversion, even us missionaries convert ourselves. And the zone conference was super awesome. We talked about all kinds of things, but more than anything, that as a mission, we're not baptizing a lot. It's true, because before we were baptizing anything with two legs, but now we're all a little scared to return to our old mistakes or focus on other things, like all the menos activos from all of the crazy baptisms. But president wants us to baptize, but baptize converts. And he felt like that's not happening cause we don't have enough investigators. So instead of yelling at us and telling us we need to baptize, like they did before, he taught us how to find investigators. He's just soooo awesome! 

Well, I've got a lot to write and not a lot of time. I told dad some good spiritual stories and so I'll write you a funny one. Like I told him, I saw Hermana Bindley yesterday. It's been like 2 weeks since her birthday so I decided to bring her a birthday gift. Remember when we bought science papers and laminated them and walked around saying "we believe in science" nacho libre style. Well  bought a giant poster of a dude with all of his body parts like a puzzle and laminated it and cut it out and drew him a placa (I like to call him Elder Cuerpo) and gave it to her with all of her favorite candies. It was a huge success- she loved it. And she got me a birthday gift- a bag that she had made in a sociedad de soccoro activity. She said I can put things I like on the inside and she put things that made her think of me on the outside- a bird, cause my birding stories kill her, my initials in a weird print and a bit of red and blue flannel cause she alllwaaayss talks about how nice red and blue flannels look on dudes. And I loved it. She's just the best. She is definitely my mission bfff, and I think she's gonna stay my bff for a long time. We always talk about what our slc apartment is gonna be like :)

Ummm, well, I've written a lot and I still have to write everyone else, so I'll just finish by telling you that my garden is good, Boris is growing and my cilantro is almost ready, I have spanish maps and a chart about photosynthesis and animal cells (in spanish on the wall) and I'm working on a new periodic table of elements for a placemat. I'm just realizing every day that I'm super excited to be a chemistry major when I get back.

Love you so much! Send me more spiritual experiences and church stories next week! Thanks for always writing me!
Hermana Long

Thursday, March 3, 2016

3 March 2016

Guess what??? I bought a converter. So Im just gonna send you pictures and explanations this week....

So, in my process of realizing I'm becoming more and more like you [Dad], there's been a new development. My quinta- or farm (it's really just a small garden) I'm obsessed with keeping it going. The newest addition is aloe vera. We're talking about mint bushes and flowers that attract butterflies. Do you have any suggestions for a balcony garden? But seriously, the other day I was lovingly watering my plants before I went to bed, checking on all of them, and I felt just like you. I check on them first thing every morning, and before I go to bed. And I don't have a lot of enemies (yet) but if I did, I would be so down to stop them from eating my plants. 
So, yeah, everything's good here. Fighting with the mosquitos and the wart blisters, but good.

Hope you have an awesome week!
Love ya!
Hermana Long

This is my "quinta". That means farm. It's not really a farm, just a balcony garden. In the back, there's some oregano, then in the box theres cilantro, that i was worried was just grass, but now its growning into cilantro, my cactus, Boris, and the new addition, the aloe vera, we're still looking for a name.

Monday, February 29, 2016

25 February 2016

The following are excerpts from conversations with Kate. Mom is writing in blue.  Kate answers in black.

Hi! Oh hey. How are you? Sitting. That's a typical argentine joke.

Gosh I enjoy writing you. Have the packets or letters arrived yet? No. Let me know, Ok? Will do. You gotta watch from your end and find out when they get here so you I can call and bother the elders until it gets here.

(About photos)
... I would like to remind you that 1) i have to buy an adaptor for my camera to send you pictures. 2) The internet is supppper sketchy here, so i cant send a lot of pictures. Do you realize that you have not sent any pictures since DECEMBER 7?!?!?! Do you realize that i am in a developing country with a budget and schedule of a missionary? Sometimes i don't even take enough time to go to the bathroom. There are a lot of factors that have nothing to do with me at play. 1- the lack of a cable. 2- the lack of adaptor 3- the difficulty of finding and buying one of those two things 4- I'm living in a developing country that's about 25 years behind the US. Everyone is just starting with screen phones. I have not seen one iphone. There is very little technology. I pay 20 pesos an hour to use a máquina that frequently stops workingTHAT'S ALMOST THREE MONTHS!!! I am a visual person! I need to seeeeeeeeee you and your life. Buy what you need- you have $$$$$!!! Money can't buy everything! It can't buy time and it can't make Argentina more technologically advanced. 

(About reading the Book of Mormon)
I'm okay. Still reading the Book of Mormon everyday. Yay, go mom!!!!! I was kind of blown away when you said the scriptures looked weird in English. You had been telling me about your Book of Mormon reading challenge, but I didn't realize it was in Spanish. Well, yeah, I do everything in Spanish- my agenda, my studies, usually my notes in church... sometimes I get trunky for English and write in English, but it's rare. I think I even talk in my sleep in Spanish. Wow. So are you just used to reading scriptures in Spanish? Well, yeah, I've been reading in Spanish since my first area, that was more than a year ago. I can't imagine doing my studies in English. How cool is that? I never did personal scripture reading in the language in my mission. Just a bit of language study. I struggle so much with language study. Secret weaknesses from Hna Long- sometimes I feel prideful about my Spanish and don't want to do language study. I have to make a huge effort to do my language study. Sometimes I read the dictionary. Lately I've been reading the himnos and looking up words I dont know. There's usually 1 in every himno, but they're super weird words that even the latinos don't use, like super formal and all that. But I have to keep learning. Most of my scripture study was in English. I even had my mom send me new scriptures (English) partway through, because mine were getting worn out. My triple broke a couple weeks ago, and I fixed it with tape (Hna. Taborda called me a redneck) and then the other side broke, so I fixed it with "wood glue" that's really just modge-podge. I'm so impressed. No wonder you English so badly. Hey! Anyway, back to the point- I really wanted Jacob and I to finish the Book of Mormon Pres Craig's style before he goes on his mission, but we just started Enos, so we have a way to go. Jacob basically is willing to do three pages a day. Tell him that I read 2 chapters a day. 3 pages is nothing. How's he gonna study for an hour alone and an hour with his comp like that? I really want to do more!!!
Well, that's our news. I hope you're healthy and happy! For the first time in a long time I'm healthy. I even went to Bahia 2 and didn't get sick. I did get sick two days ago, but it was my fault, cause we had a taco fiesta right after a fast, and we ate a boat load of super spicy stuff and it made us all sick. And I hope you're figuring out the senior companion thing. It's been going super well. We work super well together. Hang in there- I'm proud of you, and love you more than I can explain. Send photos! See previous notes about picture expectations