Monday, November 28, 2016

Week 19

Hello beautiful people!

Wow what a crazy week. Where do I even begin?  So we finally got our car back! YAY!! Now luckily we don't have to walk everywhere, even though that was nice because calorie burner, but also we are able to talk to more people this way! We love it! This week really was amazing! It was simple and not a ton happened but we are truly starting to see God's hand in this work! Last week all of our investigators were dropping us and the members were all canceling on us coming out. But this week we decided we needed to hard core repent and show Heavenly Father that we are serious about wanting the work to go better by planning more specifically. And holy specifically planning makes a huge difference! Planning to see specific people even though they are not home puts you in a place where God has something prepared for you! Ok, so here is the story:

We had planned to go see a couple of the potential investigators and so that's what we were doing. We went to see Nikki who I have never met but she was not home. So we went to see the next person on our list, John, who I have also never met. He was home, we could hear the kids running around yelling that someone was at the door, but no answer. OH! Let me back up first. We originally were going to go see John first but Sister Gardner had a feeling to go see Nikki first! When we were at Nikki's door a car rolled into the neighborhood and pulled to the next street. Well since this happens all the time, we did not think anything of it! So we continued! After John did not answer we walked down to go to the next person but we decided to talk to the guy who had pulled in! His car was still on and playing some really awesome music so we said hi and I commented about how much I loved his music! He was packing his fishing rods and so Sister Gardner asked if he was going on a fishing trip and he said that everywhere he goes is a fishing trip, lol. We then got talking about family and faith and he said that he believes in a higher power but doesn't believe that someone is just sitting on the clouds watching him. 

He then shared his story about how his mother contracted E.coli and severely ill for about 2 years before she passed away! He said it was incredibly hard for him! Then about 2 weeks after her funeral he was eating Chinese with a friend and for some reason he did not want his fortune cookie that day, but his friend told him that he can't have Chinese food and not eat the fortune cookie! In order to shut his friend up he decided to eat the cookie. At this point in telling the story his eyes welled up with tears and he told us that he read the fortune and it said "3 months from this date is a very joyful day!" 3 months from that day was his mother’s birthday! He didn't know why this comforted him but he said he knew at that point someone was watching out for him! SO AMAZING! So we talked to him for a little bit longer and he told us that he there is always a Bible near at hand for him. He has one on his nightstand, in his car, in several rooms of his house, and as he was telling him this I had the feeling that we should leave him with a Book of Mormon. I didn't because whenever we have pulled out a Book of Mormon the person we are talking to shrieks and runs away (okay, not literally but pretty darn close to truth) so we left him with a Restoration pamphlet, said our goodbyes, and walked away. We got two houses down when I stopped. I had the strongest impression that we needed to give him a Book of Mormon, I turned to my companion and said, "We have to give him a Book of Mormon." She looked at me and nodded and said that she had been having the exact same feeling. We both looked at each other and we were hesitant to go back because it would be a bit awkward. But I felt something inside me firm my resolve and I spun on my heel, not even knowing if my companion was following, and went up to Ricky. I pulled out the Book of Mormon is my hand and I told him that it was a gift for him and testified of its truthfulness and divinity and promised him that if he would read it that he would come to more fully know Christ and be able to feel His love more strongly in his life. I was stammering and it was awkward but I could feel the power of the Holy Ghost as I gave a simple, I ineloquent testimony. And I could see in his eyes that he was feeling something as well. He accepted it with gratitude and set up a time to meet with us. We left, for reals this time and it was all I could do to keep from clicking my heels together as we walked back to our car. I can promise each and every one of you that you will NEVER regret following a prompting from the Holy Ghost, but remember that you will always regret ignoring one. 

The Book of Mormon testifies and teaches about Christ literally on every single page! It is so incredible! I was reading 2 Nephi 19 where he is quoting Isaiah: 
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
I have been reading the Book of Mormon with the Institute manual and it quoted Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, as I was reading his thoughts on this scripture I started tearing up, overwhelmed with love and gratitude for my Savior.
 “The fact that the government would eventually be upon his shoulders affirms what all the world will one day acknowledge--that he is Lord of lords and King of kings and will one day rule over the earth and his Church in person, with all the majesty and sacred vestments belonging to a holy sovereign and a high priest. All can take comfort from the fact that because the government--and the burdens thereof--will be upon his shoulders, they will be lifted in great measure from our own. This is yet another reference in Isaiah to the Atonement, the bearing away of our sins (or at very least in this reference, our temporal burdens) on the shoulders of Christ.

As ‘Wonderful Counselor,’ he will be our mediator, our intercessor, defending our cause in the courts of heaven. ‘The Lord standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people,’ Isaiah (and Nephi) reminded earlier [2 Nephi 13:13]. Note the wonderful compassion of our counselor and spokesman in this passage of latter-day scripture:

‘Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him--
‘Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;
‘Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life’ [D&C 45:3–5].

Of course, as noted by Isaiah, Christ is not only a mediator but also a judge [see Mosiah 3:10; Moroni 10:34; Moses 6:57]. It is in that role of judge that we may find even greater meaning in Abinadi’s repeated expression that ‘God himself’ will come down to redeem his people [Mosiah 13:28; see also Mosiah 13:34; 15:1; Alma 42:15]. It is as if the judge in that great courtroom in heaven, unwilling to ask anyone but himself to bear the burdens of the guilty people standing in the dock, takes off his judicial robes and comes down to earth to bear their stripes personally. Christ as merciful judge is as beautiful and wonderful a concept as that of Christ as counselor, mediator, and advocate.

‘Mighty God’ conveys something of the power of God, his strength, omnipotence, and unconquerable influence. Isaiah sees him as always able to overcome the effects of sin and transgression in his people and to triumph forever over the would-be oppressors of the children of Israel.

‘Everlasting Father’ underscores the fundamental doctrine that Christ is a Father--Creator of worlds without number, the Father of restored physical life through the Resurrection, the Father of eternal life for his spiritually begotten sons and daughters, and the One acting for the Father (Elohim) through divine investiture of authority. All should seek to be born of him and become his sons and his daughters [see Mosiah 5:7].

Lastly, with the phrase ‘Prince of Peace,’ we rejoice that when the King shall come, there will be no more war in the human heart or among the nations of the world. This is a peaceful king, the king of Salem, the city that would later become Jeru-Salem. Christ will bring peace to those who accept him in mortality in whatever era they live, and he will bring peace to all those in his millennial and postmillennial realms of glory” (Christ and the New Covenant, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, 80–82).

I know that Jesus is the Christ and that He and our Father in Heaven love us more deeply and perfectly than we can comprehend in this life. It is only through Christ that we gain peace in this life and joy in the life to come.

I love you all so very much, God keep you safe,

We went to dinner at a member's house and they made enough
 food to feed an entire third world country! And it was DIVINE too!!!
Sister Longo
We learned how to make origami dresses on
PDAY so we "dressed" an Elder in one 😂

Yes. In Wal-Mart (affectionately referred to as
"Wally World" by my family and I) we found
 a poop emoji bean bag. Yes. My life is now complete.

Week 18

Happy Halloween Dearies! 

How is everybody? I miss you all so much! How was every body's Halloween? What did you dress up as? I didn't dress up as anything… Just kidding I was a missionary! Best costume in the whole wide world! I bet you can't beat that! :P But I did have a way fun Halloween! It was preparation day so we actually went out proselyting for a few hours after studies and then we did our shopping and just had fun. And want to know what was fun for me? My companion dyed my hair!!! It was so fun because she went to cosmetology school before her mission so she knows what she's doing. Soooo... I wanted to go back to Brunette. However, as you all know my hair was black. So Sister Gardner (who went to cosmetology school before her mission) had to pull the color from my hair in order for the brown dye to work. The part between stripping it and dying it brown was super cool looking!!!

That night instead of going out proselyting all of the missionaries, except for the missionaries out of Valley (#SUCKERS!!!), came together in the mission office and we all watched a movie together. You will never guess what movie we watch! We got to watch Shrek!!! I never realize how much that movie applied to missionary work. We talk to people about random things and complement them on their boulders all the time! Well... we do it before they answer the door so we don't look crazy. But still, watch that movie from the prospective of a missionary and its scary cool how well it applies to mission life!!! How fun that we got to do something like that as a mission! 

This was not the highlight of the week though. On Friday we got to go to the temple! It was new missionary temple so all the missionaries that came in this last transfer and their companions got to go to the temple! It was so much fun I adore temples! The Las Vegas Nevada temple is beautiful too. I cannot wait to go to the temple every day when I get home! I'm going to see if I can be an ordinance worker in the temple when I get back! 
So, if you're not going to the temple as much as you can go, repentant! Go to the temple! Even if all you can do is walk the temple grounds still go! There is a special spirit there that you will never find anywhere else on this earth :)

One little bump in the road we had this week is that a car is now in the shop. So what does this mean for Sister Gardner and I? WE ARE WALKING EVERYWHERE! But hey it's great because cardio is good for the soul... or so my companion tell me. But so is the book of Mormon! What a great book! It's my favorite book I love it so much! I hope you are studying The Book of Mormon with real intent every day! I can promise you that it will bless and change your lives in so many ways!

One awesome thing we found though from walking is that we found this really yummy crêpe place! This guy was on the Food Network! And holy cow I have never had a better crêpe in my entire life! I encourage all of you to come and try these crapes… After I leave though because we don't want to be apostate! 

Yesterday was my 4th month mark. Holy cow. Not prepared for this. Mission time is so weird. A day feels like an entire week, it goes on for eternity. But a week feels like it was only a day. Don't ask me how it works.

I finally know what everyone is talking about when you have your ups and downs on a mission! But that doesn't matter we will have our ups and our downs whether we are on our missions are in real life! We just have to remember to keep her focused on Christ and push through! There's always a rainbow after a rainstorm! I love this work, yes it is hard sometimes, but in the end it is all worth it and I have a smile on my face! Never stop serving! Always look for opportunities to help others coming to Christ! I can promise you will go to bed smiling every night if you can do one little act to help someone feel Christ's love! 

I love you all and I miss you all so much!
Sister Longo
Lunch before the baptism (sent by the
Relief Society President: Debbie Enniss)

Fun reminder our leaders made for us.

Week 17

Hello darlings!

SO much happened this week, I don't even know where to begin!
Well, first off I have been told by someone that I have a rather extensive vocabulary and that I have the tendency to be rather bombastic (#shoutouttomydad) so I have decided to have a word for the week. And I would like to challenge all of you to try and use it this week as much as you can! :D
Adjective: lackadaisical
Lacking spirit or liveliness "a lackadaisical attempt"
=dreamy, languid, languorous, lethargic, unenergetic
Idle or indolent especially in a dreamy way "a lackadaisical, spiritless young man-about-town" "she was annoyingly lackadaisical and impractical"
Noun: lackadaisicalness
Adverb: lackadaisically

Anywho... some thoughts I had/found this week other than my talk I gave during church yesterday. (Members of the congregation are asked to take turns giving talks on assigned topics each week.) (The text of the talk is below)

“You can never get enough of what you don’t need, because what you don’t need won’t satisfy you.” Elder Oaks
Each area is a mini mission.
"If you can kneel before God, you can stand before anything."

A way to see where your priorities really are: (#calltorepentancetomyformerself)

Sister Gardner's birthday was Wednesday and she got a Dory onesie from her mom and she is literally the most hysterical person in a Dory costume!!! :D

Sister Longo


Worth of Souls:

"And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father" (D&C 15:6).

"Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God" (D&C 18:10).

Why is that? Why are souls worth so much to God? Why is bringing souls unto God the most important thing we could ever do? The answer is in Moses 1:39, "For behold, this is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."

This work that God has called us to do is the work of Christ. It is the work of salvation. We are the cause for which Jesus Christ suffered, bled from every pore, and in perfect love gave His life. His cause is the good news, “the glad tidings, … that he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness; that through him all might be saved.” Our Savior has “marked the path and led the way.”

There are three main parts to Christ's work of salvation that the prophets have spoken about. Helping those who are not members of the church progress towards the Savior and helping those who are members of the church progress towards their divine destiny and helping those who are members of our families qualify for the blessing of eternal life. Of this President Harold B. Lee said, "Missionary work is but home [or visiting] teaching to those who are not now members of the Church, and home [or visiting] teaching is nothing more or less than missionary work to Church members." And “the most important [missionary] work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own homes.”

I've been at BYU Provo the last two years and one of the things that frustrates me so much is when I hear young adults who are return missionaries, men and women alike complain about member missionary work or about home/visiting teaching and then try to make excuses by saying things along the lines of, "Someone else can take care of it. I served 18 months or I served 2 years. I did my time!"

Before we were born, we accepted our Heavenly Father’s plan “by which [we] could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize [our] divine destiny as heirs of eternal life.” Of this premortal covenant, Elder John A. Widtsoe explained: “We agreed, right then and there, to be not only saviors for ourselves but … saviors for the whole human family. We went into a partnership with the Lord. The working out of the plan became then not merely the Father’s work, and the Savior’s work, but also our work. The least of us, the humblest, is in partnership with the Almighty in achieving the purpose of the eternal plan of salvation.”

We have renewed this covenant when we were baptized and continue to renew it every time we take the Sacrament. The phrase "take His name upon you" we individually promise and say "I take His name upon me" means so much more than we sometimes realize. Taking His name upon us means that we take His work, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man upon our shoulders as well.

There is no "I've done my time." There is no "someone else can do it." Our work, our partnership with the Lord is not finished "until the great Jehovah shall say the work is done."

There is a parable about the path each of us must take to recognize the worth of a soul in order to fully enter into the partnership with God that we covenanted to enter long ago.

I walked along a stormy beach late one afternoon with the wind roaring at his back and the seagulls screaming overhead. Tourists who came to the beach would collect shellfish and sea life tossed up each night, boil them in large kettles, and take the shells home as souvenirs. I walked far down the beach around a point away from the collectors and saw a man gazing at something in the sand.

In a pool of sand a starfish had thrust its arms up stiffly and was holding its body away from the stifling mud. "Is it still alive?” I asked.

“Yes," said the man and with a quick, gentle movement he picked up the star and spun it far out into the sea.

"It will live,” the man said, “if the offshore pull is strong enough."

At first I felt only the futility of the man’s efforts, 

"Why are you spending all of this time," I asked, "throwing one starfish at a time back into the sea when it nightly tosses out hundreds? It won't make a difference!"

The man tenderly picked up another starfish and once again spun it far out into the sea before turning to me and said, "It made a difference to that star."

I scoffed and walked away, shaking his head over the foolishness of the man. But as I walked past the tourists and all of the waste in the name of pleasure something began to stir in his heart.

The next morning I again went to the beach. Again the star thrower was there. Silently I picked up a still-living star, spinning it far out into the waves. "I understand," I said. "Call me a star thrower also."

The man grinned before he stooped and threw once more. I bent down and joined with him. And so we, alone and small in that immensity, hurled back the living stars. Sowing life on an infinitely gigantic scale. We set our shoulders and cast, slowly, deliberately, and well. The task was not to be assumed lightly.  Each moment counted if we were to rescue the starfish that we sought to save.

Like the sons of Mosiah we should get ourselves to the spiritual point where "[we are] desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, [because we can] not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even [to the point where] the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment [will cause us] to quake and tremble" (Mosiah 28:3). Where we understand how incredibly priceless each and every one of our brothers and sisters and ourselves are to our Eternal Father.

Elder David B. Haight said, "We need star throwers--throwers with vision and who have a sense of discipleship with the Savior, who feel the need to save where there is still life and hope and value, and not to let that life die on a friendless beach, but to hurl it back to where it belongs. In a world where materialism, cynicism, and hopelessness exists, we share the message of greatest hope--the gospel of Jesus Christ. Be a star thrower! Then you may better understand our Lord’s commandment: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matt. 19:19.)

If we wish to call ourselves Christians, we need to be ready to work alongside the Savior in His work, "True Christianity is love in action. There is no better way to manifest love for God than to show an unselfish love for your fellow men. This is the spirit of missionary work.”