Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Week 70

October 23, 2017

Makayla is in the very end of her mission.  She will serve one more week in Porto Velho then she will fly back to Manaus for the last week of her mission.  
She says she has mixed feelings.  I can only imagine how challenging it will be to leave this very special place, people, and focus of service.  She is excited to return home but will forever hold a dear place in her heart for Brazil.  

Week 69

October 16, 2017

All of Makayla's Previous Companions ...
L-R...Sister Bianelli, Sister Justino, Sister Lima, Sister Long, Sister Valderas, Sister Justino 

Last and final companionship... Sisters Peters & Long

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Week 68

October 2, 2017

Hello, hope that everything is well!  
This week went really well, and I am now in my last transfer :O.  

What is the secret to life? My wonderful missionary has a beautiful answer...
Something that I have learned from my experiences this week and in General Conference is that maybe the secret to mission life or home life, or the transition between the two is to learn to love being in the service of God.  Not to love being in a place, or in the service of something specific, or even to love a routine.  But to love being in the service of God.  I don´t have a doubt that service oportunities will run out or that sometimes there will only be few to go around.  On the contrary the want to serve our Heavenly Father needs to become our instinct and our joy.  The scriptures say that by so doing we will become His children, even as He is.  I think that is the secret to life ... love. 
This sweet story is what missions are for...having a love for people and sharing with them principles of truth and joy.  Sharing a knowledge that opens up doors for peoples hopes. Providing answers to questions that lead them onto a life more centered on Christ. 
This week we were able to teach Charle´s  family (sister and mom).  We had a really special lesson with him and his sister, Vitória.  She is 16.  We had given her a Book of Mormon to read on her trip last week to the interior.  She came back to report that she had not been able to put it down, and the amazing thing is that she doesn´t like to read.  We taught her about Joseph Smith, and when I recited the first vision she became emotional.  It was a very sweet experience because I felt inclined to talk about God´s disposition to respond to our prayers instead of focusing on the restoration of the church.  Afterward, when we asked her what she was thinking about our message, she began to cry and expressed how she had really been in need of our visit.  She too felt as Josph Smith had, and is now hopeful to know a little more about the character of God.  She accepted baptism, and we are hopeful that Charles will be able to baptize her!!!  It was a really special experience between the 4 of us.  Each person felt sincerely blessed to know the others, and we were all able to clearly see God´s hand in letting us meet, and for the gospel between us.  
Hope you all have a wonderful week, ​

With lots of love, 
Sister Long

Sister Peters, Irma Joyce, and Sister Long at the local Stake Center watching General Conference

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Week 67

September 25, 2017

We have been expecting Makayla to return home November 15th.  So hearing that she will be returning on the 8th was a great and exciting suprise!  I try to not wish the time away but to see this next little while through her eyes.  
So the transfer will actually end a little early ... My release date is November 7th!  I don´t know what day I will get home because of layovers and what not.  

I remember well this time last year.  I remember reading your emails and seeing the seasons change back home.  One year has gone by so very quickly!  It is the strangest feeling.  So many wonderful things are in store, as you always say: the best is yet to come!  Love this quote!  ...it is so true, if we will be willing and put ourselves in the best possible situations we truly will find so much to celebrate. 

I guess as neighbors we have a unique love and friendship with those we associate within our place of living.  Doesn't it make sense that we extend ourselves in helping the missionaries?  Makayla has been having some neat opportunities teaching in this area through shared experiences with the members of this area. 
This week we had the opportunity to work a lot with the members.  One visit was really special for me.  I went with a couple to a family home evening with investigators, and my companion stayed in church with another irmã.  I had never done a split with a couple before, and it was really neat.  We watched the Restoration and I presented the Book of Mormon.  Irmã Kátia (my companion) had the most perfect thing of comfort and direction to say when the investigator said that she doesn´t know how to read.  I love with all of my heart working with the members and hearing the testimony of each one.  They are such examples to me of how to be a member who shares the gospel without fear.  

I was reading this week in 3 Nephi 5.  I found something interesting in verse 20, and then in Mosiah 18:30.  "Mormon", means... "a place to come to know the Savior".  This is the purpose of the The Book of Mormon.  I know this to be true with all of my heart!

Hope you all have a wonderful week!  

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!!!