Monday, June 26, 2017

Week 54

June 26, 2017
Book Of Mormon
...Moroni 7:45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easilyprovoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

This week a thought came to me: if there is one thing that I really want to learn on the mission, it is to have Charity!  The scriptures plainly state that without it, we are nothing!  Wow.  So I decided to study and work on one characteristic of charity every week.  This week was long-suffering.  I sure learned a lot of interesting things!  Another word often used in the place of long-suffering is forbearing, which means patience and forgiveness.  To be long-suffering also means that we have a vision of the Lord´s work for the salvation of His children, and work for it also.  If those around us do not accept the gospel, we do not get discouraged, we do not give up.  The Savior is our perfect example.  I remembered him on the cross when He said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."  He said this in the act of making possible our salvation.  

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Week 53

June 19, 2017

This week must have been crazy (which is usual) because I am having a hard time remembering what all happened, and I find myself really wanting to start the week off with a nap, ha-ha.  We had two splits this week.  I got to split with Sister Bianelle and Sister Valadares!!! (Makayla served with these two sisters in a "three-partner companionship" this past winter /spring in Itacoatiara) It was a lot of fun.  We had invited so many people to come to church, yet only a few held true.  This was disappointing, yet we did have a puppy visitor during all 3 hours, ha-ha.  That night we had a missionary devotional by our Ward Mission Leader.  Not very many people came, yet he did a fabulous job!!  When everyone was leaving the building, two investigators came walking up.  They have been living in an unfinished apartment building, and the owner came with 12 security guards to kick them out.  He threw all of their things into the street, and Francisco broke his foot in the process.  It was really such a sad thing to see.  Yet, one of the members has a place for them to stay for two weeks.  There were a lot of little miracles that happened that night!  

Today we went to the center to look again for a dress for Sister Rivera.  We came across the coolest street fair of Indian things.  I went just a little crazy and basically bought a weapon.  It´s like a blow dart gun, and I´ll have to take a picture with it! (So, I hope Makayla can get that home through customs!)

I hope that all of you have an amazing week!!! 
Love you!

Happy, Beautiful People of Brazil
If you ask me how Sister Long is doing, just look at her...

Monday, June 12, 2017

Week 52

June 12, 2017
Makayla has been with Sister Rivera for three transfers now, 12-18 weeks.  At the end of this set of 6 weeks Sister Rivera will complete her mission.  She has been very hard working and focused!
Yes, Sister River will go home on the 11th of July :O.  The only thing that has to do with home that she likes to talk about is getting an i-phone, haha.  I even try to speak Spanish once in a while, but she won´t have it. 

Recently we had the missionaries over for dinner, a favorite event!  On this particular day I became distracted with work and my own calling...getting our wards girls camp ready.  I remembered they were coming just 10 minutes before they arrived! 
So I want you to know that what happened with dinner is totally okay, haha.  It´s a funny thing but I have found simple meals to be relaxing once in a while.  Sometimes, a meal has a 'hommier' feel when it is simple.  When something like this happens, the members have the same embarrassment, and promise a fancy meal the next time.  But look, if the food has good flavor and is feeling, there is not one problem.  Yet, you should continue making cool things for them for sure!  

Here the missionaries have really taken to immersing themselves into our neighborhood.  We see them at church often, they have sung in our choir, visited in our home and much service.  We have never been so connected with the missionaries before, we are loving it!
So that is really neat that the missionaries have made themselves known in the neighborhood, because I never knew our missionaries.  I think it is so important that they interact with the members because we have to work together.  But, another thing is that I only recognize like 3 people in that picture!  

A Young Women car wash fundraiser for girls camp.  The missionaries were so eager to help.  (They are standing in the center behind the car)...Elder Nelson & Elder Lamb

Such a sweet story of a young man who wanted a change in his life.  These two sister missionaries didn't give up on him even when others around thought they should.  So wonderful♡
So this week was a great one as usual!  
This is a picture of our baptism this week!!! I think that I can actually say that it was the most spiritual baptism that I have participated in.  Gabriel is 20 and was introduced to us by his girlfriend who is a member of our other ward.  I think we started teaching him during the beginning of our time here in the area.  During this time, a handful of people were saying that he was only showing interest in the church because of his girlfriend, and others were saying that he wasn´t a great influence on her.  Yet, knowing that everyone needs to hear the gospel, and that only the elder who would interview him would be able to judge his heart, we continued teaching and inviting.  The funny thing is that we never had our own reasons to dought his intentions or character.  These last few weeks we really witnessed just how wonderful he really is.  
Many times, investigators see baptism as a big commitment that they don´t feel ready to make, or even want to do.  Yet, he told us (and showed us) that he was tired of doing the wrong things, and wanted to turn his life around.  He reminds me a lot of King Lamoni in Alma22.  I don´t think I have ever seen someone so purely excited about baptism, and it was definitely and honor to see it.  
He spent a year and a half in the army, and there he learned how to "survive in the world".  He told us that what he learned there created a part of him that he doesn´t want with him anymore.  He was so eager to be baptized, allowing that good part of him to overcome the bad, as he put it.  When we taught him about the commandments, like tithing, he accepted with such conviction and faith, that I was surprised.  Truly, like King Lamoni, he was willing to do anything to receive the peace and eternal life that comes only through the gospel.  
It was the first baptism of Otavio, who baptized Gabriel, and he did perfectly.  When Gabriel came up he just stood there in the water hugging Otavio, and they both cried.  It was so special!  
The next day, Sunday, he showed up in a newly bought suit, dress shoes, and with his haircut.  Goodness, he is just blowing us away!  He even says that he is thinking about a mission ...!  
I am just so thankful to have been given the opportunity to witness such a paramount moment in his life.  It is so wonderful to see such faith and zeal for what truly matters.  

Hope you all have a wonderful week!!! 
Love Makayla 

The Baptism for Gabriel!...(He is standing in the very center in the white jumpsuit) 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Week 51

June 5, 2017

Good Morning!!! 
So it was a great week as usual.  We had the mission counsel ... in the mission home!  It is usually in the church building in Alvorada, but because another conference was going on, and being that it was the last leadership counsel of President and Sister Castro, we got to go the mission home.  We had a feast of food and trainings.  I´ve attached a few pictures here of us eating lunch, dressed like Indians, and with President and Sister Castro.  I got the assignment to bear my testimony in Spanish at the begining of the day, haha.  So the night before (after I got the assignment), Sister River translated my testimony and I tried to memorize it.  It actually wasn´t hard to memorize because it is similar to Portuguese.  I think it went well.  

So President and Sister Castro will be leaving the 30th of this month.  I actually talked to Sister Castro today on the phone, because she wanted to take us to the center of Manaus to buy fabric, and she said that they already have to send all of their things back home and move to a hotel so that the other President can move his things in.  It is quite the transition.  She is really pretty sad about all of this.  

Sister Long with President & Sister Castro
I have felt their love for the missionaries, the people of Brazil and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Making goals like driving a car...
So I had my last interview with President Castro.  I just marvel at how wonderful and spiritually intune he is.  I asked him, "So what is the secret to reaching your goals?"  Without pausing to think or even take a breath he gave me the very best analogy!  He said it´s like driving a car.  Righteousness makes the road straight (and we can usually choose the roads we drive on), easy to follow, and you can drive fast.  Yet, you have to focus on the road in front of you.  If you focus on what is on the side of the road, you will swerve and might crash.  There are times when you have to take it slow.  These are the times when the road curves and winds, maybe because of our sins or commandments that we are not keeping.  Also, something like a snow storm (that is out of our control) will cause us to slow down.  We have to turn our lights on (the scriptures) and concentrate a little harder.  I know that I have had some experiences in the snow, when I just had to keep praying that the car wouldn´t go slidding off of the road!  This type of experience is tyring and dificult.  So, we have to be specific, focused, keep the commandments, self-evaluate (adjust our speed when needed, and look for the best roads),  and seek guidance in the word of God (keep our lights on).  Sometimes it is so dificult to change something in our lives.  Sometimes we have to do a lot of praying.  Sometimes it is tyring!  Yet, he also said that it is like climbing a mountain road.  In the beginning you can only see the trees around you, but after climbing for a while you can begin to see the view.  With time and effort we gain perspective, get stronger, and eventually reach the top!  
I just love President Castro, and all that he devotes to the Lord´s service.  I can tell that there is nothing in his way.  His only focus is on the Lord and His will.  I sure hope and pray that I can be like that.  
Something else that goes along with all this, is something that I read in Matt 5:48 this week.  It is when Christ commands us to be perfect.  In the past, I would read this scripture and get almost a little confused, anoyed, or discouraged, even knowing that perfection is a goal.  Yet this time, when I read it I got excited.  This scripture is not an unfairly high bar to reach.  It is a show of the Lord´s regar for us, and His perfectly deep understanding of our potential.  We should get excited at the thought that if we do our best now, through Christ who strengthens us, that one day we will be perfect through Christ who attoned for us.  Knowing that He loves us, we have the motivation to repent of our mistakes each day.  Everyday is a new start!  Sister Castro says that Matt 5 is what constitutes the Celestial Kingdom.  

One other thing, is that I never got the chance to write about the wedding!  It was so very wonderful to see Sara make two very very important steps in her life: marriage and then baptism.  Both in white!  It was truly the most wonderful thing to witness.  She is helping their little family in so many ways, being that Jonas was inactive.  Every time that we taught her something, like a commandment, she would whole heartedly agree and share with us a supporting experience that she had already had.  It is so wonderful to see changes in them little by little.  For example, little by little Jonas got his dress pants, nice shirt, and the willingness to come back to church :)  I just love them so much!
I hope you all have the most wonderful week!!! 
With lots and lots of love, Makayla ❤.

Week 51

May 29, 2017

Makayla and I actually got to chat for a minute online this morning.  I was finishing up her email and she found me online.  She only had 10 minutes.  She sounds like she is doing great, sure do love this girl!
Yeah!  So we just had transfers, but we will be sticking together in the same area!!! I am so relieved!  We are actually here close to the mission office, and might try to go the the center to do some shopping for Sister Rivera.  
But all is well and dandy.  Gosh it looks like my time has run out, but I will have to tell you all about the wedding next week.  
Love you all, 

Sister Long & Sister River together for their 3rd transfer!

Week 50

May 15, 2017

So that was so fun wasn´t it, to talk with everyone.  I know that, like you said, if the connection was good, or if you had been there in person we would be able to have some fun converstion.  Sister Rivera can understand and sometimes respond, and the two twins can understand some things.  They were speaking well.  You never know, maybe there will be another chance to talk in this life :).  

Makayla shared this scripture on charity while we Skyped on Mothers Day.  She asked me to read it outloud but replace the word "charity" with the word "mother"... wow, it was beautiful. 
Moroni 7:45   And a "mother" suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."
What I really wanted to say with that scripture, was a sincere thank you for being my hero, sincerely in every way.  HAPPY MOTHER´S DAY!  Whenever I want to better understand the Savior´s love, I think of you ❤.  Don´t let yourself get discouraged, because that is one of Satan´s best tactics.  Also tell dad how much I enjoyed talking with you two yesterday!!!  It was a great experience.  

The work carries on!...
Like I had told you, we had a baptism yesterday!!!  I am waiting to get the pictures to send to you.  It was wonderful to see Bruna´s face light up.  I knew that she was truly happy to be clean.  Even if we don´t have a perfect understanding of our purpose in this life, and the of the gospel, we can be filled with the light of the Holy Ghost, which truly enlightens our minds and hearts.  We can find happiness in the world, but joy comes from eternal truths and progression. 

I hope you all have a most wonderful week!!! 
With much love, Makayla 😃.