Monday, September 18, 2017

Week 66

September 18, 2017

So this week everything turned out with Charles´ baptism!!  It was wonderful that many of the members were present and helped with the program.  We are having a great time working with these wonderful people!  Our next week is already filled with plans to go teaching with them.  It´s the only way to go!  I have noticed that it doesn´t matter who the member or investigator is.  The member always has the perfect little testimony that makes all of the diference.  Except once, haha, one brother was basically sleeping during the lesson (about the plan of salvation), and after we closed he suddenly woke up and bore his testimony about the Book of Mormon.  The funny part was that we hadn´t said anything about it.  But, it was still a nice testimony :)  

This week we were walking along when we decided to stop and buy Açaí.  We ended up talking to the guy selling it for a good long while about the U.S. and how we came here as missionaries.  Afterward I told him that we had come all this way just to share our message with him, and he said that he was now very interested and pulled up a chair.  We taught him about the Restoration and Book of Mormon.  He told us how he has been to almost all of the churches in the area, but doesn´t go to one regularly.  After we began to talk about Joseph Smith he admitted that his curiosity must really be because he has always wanted to find the one true church.  After the lesson he said that he definitely has to visit our church.  He also said, "That´s so neat that you guys came to buy Açaí and we wound up becoming friends." I think he has a lot of potential.  

I feel that this week Heavenly Father blessed us with the oportunity to meet and talk about the gospel with many new people who are interested in the gospel.  I also feel so blessed to witness how living the principles of the gospel blesses and molds people to become grand in character, health, and joy.  They become great role models in family and in society.  

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Week 65

September 11, 2017

These last two weeks we have been working a lot with Charles!  On our first Sunday together he appeared at church.  I think that I have already explained a little about how he was recently baptized in another church and has a lot of friendships there.  Originally I thought that it would be difficult for him to accept another baptism and leave all that he had recently built in the other church.  Yet, to our wonderful surprise he accepted and acted on everything that we had to say with an open heart, a very open heart.  He has been sober for about 8 or 9 months but is still under treatment and cannot go to work physically.  So, he spends a lot of time at home studying, pondering, and reflecting.  I don´t know if I have ever seen someone progress so quickly in and between each lesson.  It has been such a blessing to work with him, really and truly!!  I have loved each lesson with him, because the spirit has been so strong.  In our last lesson we invited him to be baptized on Saturday, and he said that he was about to ask the very same question!!!  We were able to do his baptismal interview yesterday and everything is set to go!  

Two things that really helped him through the process:  The Book of Mormon, and Joseph Smith´s story.  We watched with him The Restoration, which shows how Joseph got his direction and how he had to make decisions based on love and faithfulness to God and not man.  It was also a great experience to read John 15 with him.  We are just so very excited!!!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Week 64

September 4, 2017

Makayla's new companion...Oh, her name is Sister Peters, and she is the funnest thing!!!  We have something in common that is called everything that exists in the USA, haha.

This was a great week.  We had some other sisters visiting us from another small, neighboring city.  We have been teaching an investigator named Charles, who appeared at church two Sundays ago.  His aunts family are members of the church, and so he had come out of curiosity.  So this week we were able to meet with him twice.  He is in his early twenties, and has already lived a life of drugs.  He even has two kids that are living with their mom in another small city.  Yet, he has basically restarted his life, and was recently baptized into another church.  He says that after our visits he has become confused about which church is the true one.  His mind and heart are very open, and he is thinking well on these things.  One thing that really impressed me is how he has connected with the Book of Mormon.  He says that it is easy to understand and is answering many of his questions.  Yesterday he came to church again and to our great surprise was the last person to get up to bear his testimony!  He said that he has been blessed to have met two missionaries, to have received the Book of Mormon, and that despite the many questions he still has, he knows that the church is true.  We were just so very excited!!! We will meet with him again this week to teach him agian!  
I also got thinking this week about the question: "What have I learned about the Savior on my mission?" ... Ether 12:26 was the perfect match to my experiences :)

Found in the Book of Mormon, book of Ether 12:26, it says:  
And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness;
Doesn't it take courage to share with others something you have gained a knowledge of to be true?  Of course some believe and others do not.  We simply have no control over that.  But I am sure the more Makayla learns about her Savior the more she understands her weaknesses and at the same time learns to love all. 

Sister Long, "Two Visiting Sisters", and Sister Peters

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Week 63

August 28, 2017

This was a fun week.  I was able to take a little bit of time to say goodbye to so many people.  I also got to get to know my new companion who is very excited and a lot of fun!  

I was so very very thankful to be able to stay until the end of the week to see Eduardo´s baptism!!!  What a blessing!  He kept expressing how important that day was to him, and how truly excited he was!  He thanked us for our "beautiful words" that had helped him to the point of baptism.  I told him that it had just been the spirit that he had felt, and that one day he would say the same "beautiful words"! (he wants to serve a mission)  He invited an aunt and a good friend to come and watch.  Lohan and Gabryel also gave wonderful little testimonies at the baptism.  I told Gabryel that the next time it will be his turn to do the baptizing!  He told me that he is actually going to another state to work and earn money for his mission.  He has 10 more months to wait.  I asked him about his girlfriend, and he sighed and said with determination, "I just consider these next 10 months as a part of my mission".  He has been one of the biggest examples of faith in my life! 

Off to a new area with a new companion.  Makayla is now serving in Rondônia, Porto Velho (Old Port)
We had the funnest time in the airport and on the plane, haha.  We tried to by Pizza Hut which ended up being like really expenssive finger food #americanfood #foreignairport.  It was a quick, one hour plane ride and we had some good airplane fruit snacks, haha.  
I don´t have any pictures yet because I need to transfer the pictures on my memory card to my jumpdrive to take more.  Yet, I will just say that I feel a little bit like I am on Mars!  There is like a thin layer of red dust on everything, haha.  Unlike Manaus, it is totally flat, and so all of the streets look the same.  Also there are less trees/jungle.  

Lending words of comfort...
I am super duper excited to give it my all in this last area, in these last two transfers.  My companion is a go-getter and so I just know that we will be able to get some good work done.  
Yesterday and today we had two interesting experiences.  On Sunday we were walking back home when we stopped to contact a girl who was sitting on the curb with a backpack.  My companion said, "Hello, how are you," and she started to cry.  We sat down next to her, and with a little bit of polite prodding we learned her story.  She told us that she had just seperated from her husband (or ran from him).  She said that they had been together for two years, and she is only 15 years old.  Her parents live on the other side of the city, and it looks like she left her contact with them when she got together with this guy.  We offered our phone and a little money, but thankfully a friend of hers passed by on his motorcylce and was able to give her a ride.  We weren´t able to help her in many ways but I was thankful that we were able to appear as comfort in that moment. Today we were leaving our house when we ran into a little boy who was crying because his mom left the house, and he got left behind.  Thankfully his dad soon got home!  It was another instance when we weren´t able to do much other than be of comfort in a moment of need.  I was also so happy to be able to clearly understand the situation :) 

No other time in our lives would we simply set out each day with a single mind set to seek those in need, offer hope, and share a messege of joy.  How a mission must shape ones heart for a significant better!

love you all, have the most wonderful week!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Week 62

August 21, 2017

Changes in a companion & area... 
Sooo, I was transfered to another state ... Rondônia!  It makes me laugh because I think that the prince, from the "Princess and the Frog", is from some made-up country with a similar sounding name.  I will be going to Porto Velho (Old Port), taking care of two wards again, as STL, and I will be with Sister Peters ... an "Americana" :O!  I have met her before, and she even stayed with us once for a week.  She even served for a good long while in my first area.  She is from Salt Lake.  I never thought that I would have an American companion, haha.  
So because we have to take a plane to get to our aea, we will stay, the four of us (Sister Justino, Peters, Gates, and I), in our area here in Manaus for the week.  So I have a whole week to say goodbye to everyone here.  We also have mission counsel and Sister Peters will be renewing her Visa.  So it should be a fun week, and maybe we will even get to go to the temple.  

A love for the people and the work...
I have to say that this area that I am leaving was a special one.  I had two wonderful companions, wonderful members, and converts!  Oh how I love these people!  Yesterday was my last Sunday in the area (although I won´t be leaving for a week).  Lohan passed the sacrament for the second time, and made sure that we were sitting in "his area", so that he could pass it to us.  Gabryel also received the Melchizedek Priesthood, and received a calling as the leader of the young single adults!  I just had to buy him a handsome yellow tie, and he said he would wear it to be ordained to the Priesthood.  Goodness, seeing people *happily accept the gospel is one of the most rewarding feelings!  And not only accept it, but run with it!  We are also working with Eduardo, who just needs a parent´s signature to be baptized (he is 17).  His mom isn´t very accepting of the church, and so we are praying and doing all that we can.  We had a few lessons with him this week.  I just love teaching him because he is so willing to understand.  When we taught him the Restoration he said, "No wonder my mom doesn´t like the church, she doesn´t understand how it was restored and the importance of prophets and apostles."  Often times I feel as though I am simply explaining facts, and the investigators are doing all of the hard work on their own with the guidance of the spirit.  I feel so blessed to simply be a small part of this important transition in their lives.  They are the super stars of my mission!!! ...That's it!  The good sweet people she is serving are the highlight of her mission.  An amazing growth of the heart!

Sister Justino & Sister Long

Week 61

August 7, 2017

This was a really great week!  The best part was that on Sunday our Raimunda was confirmed, and Gabryel was ordained to the priesthood!  I didn´t know that he would be ordained yesterday, so it was a sweet surprise.  It was like the best missionary moment in the ward.  During the sacrament I got reflecting on all of the countless blessings that I and my companion had received this week.  There were so many that I had to take out my planner and write them all down!  There were so many instances in the week when Heavenly Father gave me physical strength (I had gotten a bug of some sort) and opened so many doors to us, that just helped us to get where we needed to go and efficiently.  He is the best Father!  I know that when we are feeling and acting on the spirit, that Heavenly Father is pleased and satisfied with our work.

Hope you have the most wondeful week!
love, Makayla 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Week 60

August 7, 2017
Finally some more details! 
This week we had the joy of seeing Raimunda get baptized!  She is the sweetest older lady who loves animals (and has like 4 illegal turtles in the bathroom), loves to read (she has already read 1 and 2 Nephi), and is just a kick!  We just love her so very much!  I have to admit that I was a little nervous that she would get really dizzy, being baptized, or something like that.  But all went really well!  It was a great experience.  My companion and I got really excited because she was our first "grandma" that got baptized.  

This week we also had two splits.  One sister got her appendix taken out recently, and so has to stay at home for the large part of the day.  So during the split I went to work with the ward mission leader, and a sister from their ward.  We just went contacting and invited a lot of people to be baptized!  We actually had some good success.  It is always fun to do splits because you get to know the city and the other sisters.  I also got to work with Sister Cook from Arizona this week.  She copied a few things from our lessons together and had some really good success in her area the next day.  We had a great time together.  It is actually kind of funny that once in a while, when I work with another American, I am reminded of cultural differences.  It is like looking back through a window onto your own culture, haha.  I am just loving my time here, and all of the friends that I have made and am yet to make! ...All of Makayla's companions have been from South America.

I loved reading about the resurrection this week!  In Alma 40 -42.  All of the good that we have learned from our experiences here on earth, and all of the good qualities that we develop, will be perfected as they become a part of us forever!  

Have a wonderful week, love you all!

I asked Makayla to finish the following statements...
A mission is:  Preparation for everything and for all!  

Christ is:  The source of our joy.

Brazil is:  Meu segundo lar!  Amo Brasil! 
          (My second home) (Love Brazil)

Who is this cute missionary?...

Baptism for Raimunda

Sister Long and Sister Justino