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 ❤.

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