January 25, 2016

Dear Family & Friends,
I arrived in Oklahoma last week and have been loving every second of it. On my plane ride here I was able to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to an air force soldier. We were able to joke around and laugh along with hit spiritual notes. I made him promise me he would try praying and half way through the plane ride he turned to me and said “Guess what! I just prayed!” I laughed and asked how it felt, he said really good. He went on to say he wouldn’t mind wearing suits all the time so I told him “We better get you on a mission then!” He started asking more questions that turned into more laughing. I’m praying he’ll accept what Heavenly Father wants him to know and do. After saying goodbye to him, some of the Sisters, Elders and I met our mission president at the airport. We all spent the night at their home and the next day got assigned our companions. When getting assigned president called my name saying “Sister Long you are going to Midwest City with Sister Balthentine.” We hugged each other and the first words she said to me were “I’m so sorry, you’re going to the ghetto.” So here I am, in Midwest City, the ghetto. Haha! I love Sister Balthentine already. After meeting her, us and four Elders went to Ihop to celebrate. We all said goodbye then picked up two other Elders to go to a Baptist food pantry to do service. I love that we serve other faiths and get to know them, we will be going there twice a week. There’s a lot of different churches here, some are silly! One church literally has a pool party where everyone baptizes each other every week while they shoot confetti and have concerts. Anyhow, that night Sister B and I went to a members house for dinner. Though Midwest City is mostly poor, these members definitely weren’t. They have traveled all over the world, mostly because the husband has been in the air force his whole life. He also flies important people all the time,like the president and governor. Not only are they important people but they have unbelievable stories too. He was telling us that back when he found out his wife was pregnant with their third child he was so upset. They were in the Temple about to get sealed to there two other sons when their doctor, who was invited, whispered to him that they were going to have another baby. So when he went up to the altar he was giving his wife a cranky face when the Spirit told him “William you better love your family or I’m not going to send you your daughter.” Instead of kissing his wife he jumped up wit joy and yelled “We’re having a girl, it’s a girl!!” and ran around the room like a maniac. Haha and his wife had no idea because back then the doctors had to do the test. The husband had tears rolling down his face telling this story. In a way it made me miss my Dad. I’m so blessed Heavenly Father sent me to my family. But now I’m just gaining more family here in Oklahoma from the Midwest City Family and YSA Ward, along with my fun companion! One night Sister B and I stayed up till like 3am having pillow talk and it all started with “So what’s your favorite snow cone flavor?” I feel like we know each other pretty well now haha. We’ve had a lot of fun memories together, but a lot of freaky ones too. I never realized how much evil really is in the world. One day during dinner I just laid in bed with a broken heart. We went to see a little girl to see if she was ready to get baptized the next day. She lives with her grandma in a bad environment. As we were talking to them a man walked through the living room smiling as he went outside, so I said hello. After saying hi the little girl came up to me and said “That’s my Uncle, you don’t ever say hi to him” We continued to talk to the grandma, well where she talked to us. It’s an Oklahoma thing where everyone talks too much they call them Okie talkers. I fit in here. Anyways, after leaving their home Sister B explained their story to me, how a lot of people in their family are murderers. That uncle I said hi to apparently tried to kill the grandma last week and broke down telling the sister missionaries everything. A lot of people in Midwest City are addicted to drugs and are overall criminals. Murder is common here. It makes sense why everyone has been telling me the police sirens are Midwest Cities theme song. In a way it makes me nervous, but I know we’re protected as missionaries called of God. That night after laying in bed we went to a ward game night where I was able to forget about the bad and enjoy the good. Being in this area has made me realize how lucky I am to have the family and home I was raised in. ❤ Everyday is full of sweet experiences and some are a little scary. We've been teaching a lot of less actives and we've met many that aren't very happy with life. Like one trailer we went to looked like it was plastered right out of a horror film, along with the guy in it. We knocked on the door and he promptly yelled "WHO'S THERE" so Sister B and I went into shock for a second so he yelled even louder and cracked the door looking at us with one eye. we told him we are Sister Missionaries when one of his dogs escaped so he came out on his little porch we were on.. in the mean time he literally had a foot long knife he was holding in the air. He told us "I don't gota church" and we ran hahah I almost fell off the porch. After that the day got better because we handed out three Book of Mormons and they all said they'd read it. A van and mustang kept following us in that neighborhood though, so that was creepy. Basically girls shouldn't be in this area but I know we're protected by angels. I feel like we were even angels for one guy we met, he really hit my heart. We went to visit his less active brother but ended up being there for him, he needed us. He recently moved from Salt Lake to Oklahoma to help his Dad who has M.S. and his Mom who is in the hospital. He was only in his 20s and was telling us how he's made so many mistakes and wants to repent but doesn't know how to. We didn't even bring up repentance, he did! He was baptized as a kid but doesn't really know or remember anything about the church. He wants to get the lessons from us so we're meeting with him on Thursday, I'm so excited! Every night but one we've had dinner at a members house. Another member we went to, the husband is in his late 40s and the wife in her 70s. It was a little strange but sweet that they made it work. Sadly the husband has Schizophrenia and since his wife was older they were never able to have kids together. He's so spiritual and looking forward to the day when his trials are over. I told him he'll have the chance to have a million kids in Heaven if he chooses, he got so happy. More brighter notes, an apostle is coming to our mission to speak to us and we get to go to the Oklahoma Temple twice this week. I also got a pass to go on the military base so hopefully if the weathers good tomorrow we're going to bike the neighborhoods there and visit less actives, maybe do some tracting too. Midwest City really isn't all as scary as it sounds haha there's some rich neighborhoods and the base too. We just haven't left the ghetto yet for some reason. It's humbling though and I'm learning so much!! I know that Heavenly Father wants me here and everyday I serve I feel closer to Him and our Savior, Jesus Christ. Along with growing closer to Them I'm also growing closer to the people here, almost everyone has southern hospitality, I'm starting to say y'all all the time. The food is great, but it's not what I expected, it's a lot like the food back home so far. Mmm the ice cream is heavenly though, it really is the best ice cream in the country like everyone says. 🙂 For pday a group of us are maybe going to go roller skating so that'll be funny. I really am happy, the happiest I've ever been. I know that this is exactly where I'm meant to be. I have so many stories already and could just talk your ears off! I love ya'll forever and am so blessed. Be safe!! ❤

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