Monday, April 24, 2017

Week 47

April 24, 2017
We have enjoyed the company of 3 missionaries in our neighborhood lately.  On their P-day they came to play some basketball and accidently broke our hoop!  Ha,ha,ha at least there was now an opportunity to have them return.  They are a great set of young men who truly love serving and teaching about Jesus Christ and his gospel.  I asked Makayla how challenging it was to recieve a transfer when maybe teaching someone was not yet complete? 
 That is totally cool that they broke the hoop because it gave them an excuse to come back.  It is interesting how transfers work.  Usually investigators get pretty broken up, yet the ward members are like, "that´s cool, good luck," because they are already used to how many missionaries come and go.  So the good news is that you´ll usually love the next one that comes.  Yet, they can be pretty difficult.  When I left my first area (after 6 months), the only thing that got me out of there, was not to let myself THINK.  We actually had transfers today, yet we are both staying, yay!!! Also, Mother´s Day is coming up, and we´ll get to talk, and you can meet my companion!!! Do you know any Spanish?  Anyway, it sounds like you had an eventful week.  I am honestly so very very very grateful to all that these Elders are doing, and for their attention to dad. I am so very excited for your FHE!  I wish that I could be there.  

Sisters out & about...
Let me start by telling a funny story.   So we were teaching an older woman (83 yrs. old) and her son.  After the lesson, she offered us some Guaraná.  When she went inside to get it, Sister Rivera turned to me and said, "Sister, you´ll have to drink mine too because I am fasting".  I looked at her and thought, there is just no sneaky way to do that because she´ll just offer us more.  Well, she came back and handed us our glasses, and Sister Rivera totally accepted.  Lucky for her, she found an excuse to write a recipe down in her planner, and had me hold her glass for a 'second'.  So first I drank mine ... and then slowly switched hands, and started drinking hers too, ha-ha!  It must have looked like my glass was bottom-less because it took me a while to drink 'one' glass of Guaraná.  Maria (the 83 yr. old) was so involved in telling the story of how she used to sell cake, that I don´t think she noticed.  Her son, was looking in my direction, but I don´t think he noticed because he seems to have a low form of autism.  When I finished, I tried to sneak my companion´s glass back to her, and as soon as I did, the son stood up to take our drinks away.  We both started to laugh.  It was the hardest thing to keep a giant grin off of my face.  Yet, Maria just kept on telling her story, and it must have looked to her as though we suddenly got really interested in, and animated about what she was saying.  

Sorry for the short email this week, I´ll share some more experiences the next week.  

Love you all!  

Monday, April 17, 2017

Week 45

April 10, 2017

Had a good experience while attending the temple recently.  Makayla responds... 
I´m so glad that you had a good temple trip.  Heavenly Father is so merciful, isn´t He.  I really liked what you said about Him letting us know over and over agian that He exists.  Many times I want to know everything about Him and our Savior.   I want to have a perfect relationship with them.  That is totally the goal, yet understanding, knowledge, and character take time to develope.  I don´t know if this is even making sense, yet I know that we have to be patient in all things and with oursleves, and that all will work out in the end.  Just like Joseph Smith had pure desires to know the truth from the beginning, he had to be patient, growing closer to God little by little.  Until ... 

Serving as a "Sister Training Leader", Makayla had her first time teaching at a missionary training!
So this week was so crazy, but it´s always a good one.   On Monday we were studying almost all day in preparation for the training Tuesday morning.  Overall, I think that everything went well.  In our zone we have all of the Elders who work in the mission office and the Assistents.  The Zone Leaders and Assistents gave trainings also.  I learned a lot from everyone, and it was neat to see how all of the trainings fit together, and with what was said during conference, even though we didn´t talk to one another before.  We taught about how we can teach more like Christ taught.  I studied chapters 17 and 18 in 3 Nephi.  I love how Christ prepares the people to learn, and before he goes on He takes the time to pray for them and bless them.  Although Christ was perfect, beging resurected and having all power, he turns to the Father in humble prayer to bless the people.  I think this really shows how much he values each one of us.  He wants nothing less than the best for us.  We know that His prayer was perfectly sincere, because His motive was not to be heard (no one could understand or repeat His words), but His love was felt.  What would it be like to be prayed for by the Savior, and in His presence?  Well, we know that converses with the Father on our behalf every day.  

The People...
The next day we did some more splits with the Sisters in my old area.  The day went well, and we had a really wonderful lesson with two youth that we are teaching.  They are coming to Seminary, and we are teaching them there.  Rayssa, is already having her own missionary experiences and is so willing to do all that is right.  Although, her parents are not supportive of her.  We are working on arranging a vistit with them, and she got so excited at the idea.  We challenged her to fast with us, and she readily accepted.  I love the way that she learns.  She asks the best questions, as if all of the good things in the world are connecting and making sense.  
On Wednesday the Elders let us know on short notice that two Siters would be flying in to renew their visas, and would be staying with us.  One of them was Sister Rowley (my companion from the MTC)!  The other Sister arrived at midnight. 

A baptism!!  This is a wonderful story that began with a simple prayer...
That day we also had the baptizm interview of Kelly!  All went really well and she was baptized on Friday night!!!  She worked early Sunday morning, but made the effort to come to church to be confirmed, although exhausted!  I think she felt really wonderful after the baptizm.  I just kept thinking back on the day that we met her.  We had been praying individually to meet new people to teach, and I heard someone call "Sister" in the background.  I almost didn´t stop to go back!  They also have a neighbor, an older man who lives by himself, who wants to be baptized!!! He was at the baptizm, and in the church building on Sunday before anyone else.  He is going to travel this week, but we are planning his baptizm for the week after that. 

Gratitude and Faith... 
I am so very greatful for all the good that is happening here.  Sometimes it is so tiring, and therefore tricky to stay excited and energetic.  Yet it is impossible not to see that this is a special time of life, chalk full of rich experiences.   Heavenly Father never closes the windows of Heaven.  You know what the gospel of Jesus Christ does?  If we live and love it, it cures our fear, teaching us to have fun on the roller coaster of our lives, and allows us to stay happy in all times, and in all things, and in all places.  

I hope you all have a wonderful week, full of discoveries in the scriptures, growth experiences, and much joy!

Love Makayla

Missionary Training


Week 46

April 17, 2017
Spiritual Thoughts...
This week I was praying, really looking for some specific understanding, when I got a lot of thoughts from the Spirit about the power of the Atonement.  Christ lives!  What does this mean?  It means that there is a perfect someone, a triumphant king, who knows us better than our own mothers and closest friends.  This someone is very much alive and present in our lives.  This someone has something rather significant to offer us.  What?  Relief.  Relief from any and all.  Yet, in such a very personal way, in those moments when our hearts are crying out to someone who can share our experience.  We must know that He already stepped there, already experienced that thing.  I imagine Him kneeling beside us when we pray to Father in Heaven.  Like with the Nephites, He weeps with us, because His understanding is in unison with ours.  His sacrifice is complete.  Why is our hope shaken?  Why is our happiness not complete?  Why do we sometimes wish for different experiences?  Because Satan wants a perfectly completed sacrifice to be left in vain.  He whispers to us that somehow, the Atonement of Christ cannot help us.  Yet, I know that there is nothing left undone, unexperienced, not understood, not overcome.  For this reason, for this beautiful fact, we should not feel insecure to be hopeful and to feel happy.  He lives, and so does His power!  The key to accessing it is prayer, and doing our best to live His gospel.  What is the gospel?  The scriptures, prophets, missionaries, and members can tell us!  Isn´t that beautiful?  Just beautiful.  Let this beauty fill your life.  

I asked Makayla how her faith has grown while serving on a mission? 
You asked how my faith has grown?  How has it not?  There is no way to grow, but by experiences given to us by Heavenly Father.  For this reason, there are so many ways in which I want to improve the way I act each day.  To act on more faith.  Yet, even with our little efforts, the Lord mercifully teaches line upon line and precept upon precept.  I just want to say that I know without a doubt that ALL things are possible with faith in He who made all possible.  

The people ... 
This week it seemed that the majority of our investigators were meeting challenges.  One sweet girl, Rayssa, had a fight (or got really offended) with the cute girl who has been bringing her to church.  No one wanted to tell us the details of what had happened, and so we were having a hard time knowing how to help.  Also, we are planning a wedding and baptism on May 12, yet when we went to teach Sara and Jonas, they had also been fighting and questioning their relationship.  I knew that all things had the potential to work out, I just wasn´t sure how.  
On Sunday, everyone was in church!  And guess who came bouncing up to say hello?  Rayssa and Issa!  Together!  I have no idea how they made up, yet it made me think back to the scriptures.  Christ always tells us that we should be more like children, easy to forgive.  Then, I found Sara, and she told me that she would be starting on her wedding dress this week!!!  Again, I don´t know how they made up.  I just know that all is well.  I hugged her and almost cried.  I just want them to be a happy family, rooted in the gospel.  I see that they are looking for this happiness, and it is in their reach, they just need inspired guidance in claiming it.  I know that Satan´s power is real, and at times Heavenly Father allows us to experience its setbacks, yet His hand is always the upper one.  

I also want to testify that the hymns really are a prayer to heaven!  

 Love you all so very much, and I hope that you all had a wonderful Easter!

Sister Rivera

Sister Long

Fresh guacamole and juice?,...mmmmmm

Daily Exercise

Monday, April 3, 2017

Week 44

April 3, 2017
General Conference was held world wide this past weekend.  It is a time when our Prophet, apostles, and other church leaders speak to the members around the world on various topics of spiritual instruction that we can apply to our lives today.  With the announcement of a Temple coming to Saratoga Springs the excitement was even more special knowing that Makayla was watching from Brazil and we could still celebrate together!  I also love Makayla's try attitude and exercise of prayer to better understand conference in another language...way to go girl! 
I hope that everyone had an exciting week, especially with the news of a TEMPLE!!! What, no way!!!  It is funny trying to tell people the name of my home city, because everyone is like, "what, can you say that again," and they don´t even come close to pronouncing it.  Well now the name is a little more famous, haha.  Conference was wonderful as usual.  I´ll admit that in the beginning there were a handful of things that I didn´t understand, or at least I was having a hard time focusing (being that I was watching in Portuguese).  Yet, Sunday morning I prepared myself better by writing in my journal, thinking of questions to ponder, and praying for a little extra comprehension.   The Sunday sessions were clear, and I understood everything!  It is so neat how the little things on our part are important.  
Thoughts from General Conference...
I just loved so many things: 

  • read the scriptures (especially about Christ, and The Living Christ),  
  • look up at eternity instead of around you at mortality, 
  • the nature of the Godhead, 
  • the importance of the Spirit, 
  • how to apply the atonement, 
  • how to be happy, 
  • how to be a light, and many more!    
One quote that I really loved (or a least here is a translation from what I got) is that in hard moments think to yourself, "God knows that I know, that I have been blessed by Him".  It reminded me of  2 Nephi 4.  This was in a talk about "how to overcome the world".  Here, conference started at 12:00 and 4:00.  We had to take the bus to the stake center, so we stayed between sessions.  The Irmãs were so sweet to bring our lunch with them to the church building so that we could eat after the first session.  
A weeks work of teaching ...
This week we did a split with my very favorite Sister Valadares and her trainee Sister Rosa.  I have really missed Sister Bianelle and Sister Valadares, but I can call them because I am their STL!  Sister Valadares hasn´t been feeling well so we met with Sister Castro, and she went to lunch with us afterward.  We have been teaching a young man named Sadraque, who is from my old area (Itacoatiara), but is staying with his aunt and uncle for the rest of the school year.  He accepted baptism, and told us that he didn´t even need to pray to know if what we were telling him was true.  Well, he suddenly moved back to Itacoatiara!  How sad.  Yet, I will be making sure that the Elders there take good care of him.  Yet, we should have a baptism this week!!!  Kelly is the 20 yr old that I already talked about.  We think she is ready, and we hope and pray that all will go well this week.  She too is a great investigator who is reading the Book of Mormon and coming to church.  She is super loving!
New responsibilities of being a Sister Training Leader...

Tomorrow we have zone conference, and so Sister Rivera and I will be giving a training with President, Sister Castro, and the zone leaders.  I´m a little nervous, but everything has to go well, doesn´t it? :)