Monday, November 24, 2014

thank you all 1000 times

Mi Querida Familia,

Can I just thank you all 1000 times for the love this week? Not just my beautiful family, but from my great friends, as well! This last week was a bit of a dousy, but the love from the e-mails makes it 100 times better! GRACIAS :)

First things first: People have told me that my spanish is significantly better than when I got here! That's the best news I've had in my whole life! Also, one investigador (Yolanda) said I have a French accent when I speak spanish. I don't even know what that means! The spanish doesn't worry we so much anymore. It's definitely FAR from perfect...actually, it's probably far from even being good, but it's coming and that's all I can ask for!

We started teaching the husband of one of our investigators this week. His name is Luis, the husband of Maria Eugenia. I think he is more interested than her, so this is great! We had a lesson about la Restauracion and he had actually read the pamphlet we left him, so he had a whole list of questions for us! That was awesome...except they were really great questions we didn't know the answer to haha My companion looked for the answers in the scriputres and a bit of a bible bash (when we just shoot off scripture after scripture) started happening. When they stopped, I just looked at Luis and told him honestly that I couldn't answer his questions, but that we would look for the answers. I bore my testimony to him that I know this church is true and I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. But it really doesn't matter what I know if he doesn't know it for himself. We invited him to pray and read the Book of Mormon and ask God if these things are true. It was great because I was able to explain that we are here as missionaries because this gospel has brought us so much happiness we want to share it with everyone! In the end the room was quiet and he thanked me for my honesty and sincerity and said the he was gong to pray, but that he already thinks the church is true because we aren't here to convince him--just to invite him to find out if it's true or not. We'll see where it goes!

I'm so thankful for the opportunity to bear testimony every single day of the things I know to be true. The gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth and it is found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day  Saints! What a beautiful message :) If you ever doubt your testimony, SHARE IT. One of the most powerful ways to strengthen your testimony is to share it and feel the Spirit bearing testimony of your words. That's a beauitful thing :) Also, I can't take the credit for that statement...it was President Packer. What a guy :)

Catharine and Lukas went to church on Sunday! They are progressing beautifully, as usual! We're going to the temple with them on the 13th for a Christmas program! Victoria also went, but only stays for sacrament, which she calls mas...like a Catholic mas. is that how you spell mas? Irma went with her two grandkids, Martinia y Jorge. I love that family! These crazy kids make me feel right at home :) Denis is a less active member who also went with his partner, Teresa (investigadora). They came to church on their own last week and no one knew who they were! It turns out Denis's son passed away this month and he promised him that he would go to church. So he is coming back and is SUPER ready to live this gospel and be happy again. I love that :) He knew exactly where to find hope and happiness. This Church is true! Teresa already said she will be baptized (after one visit) and they have already started giving all their tea and coffee away! We haven't even taught the Word of Wisdom :) They're great!

My first week leading the sector was crazy! We didn't get lost (that much), but I always have the fear that I will forget about someone! I don't want to be the reason that someone falls through the cracks, ya know? OHHHH MAN! Elsa (who had a fecha bautismal) told us to never come back and that she's moving anyway because she's having a rough time. We asked if we could leave her with a prayer and she yelled at me saying, "What part of get out of here are you not understanding?!" So we left after that...I'm OK. 

We spent P-Day with Hermana Allred and her companion (Hermana Martinez) and some other hermanas from the mission! Can I just say that I miss Hermana Allred. I LOVE that girl!  We made Christmas decorations and ate pumpkin pie!! That was happiness right there :) Oh yeah, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!! Don't party too hard without me. We have a day full of appointments Thursday, so that's great!! If you want to think of me while you're all eating until you die, that's what I'll be doing! In all seriousness, I'm extremely lucky to being sharing the gospel on the day we set apart to give thanks. I am SO thankful for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ!! 

Also, shout out to Titi Emma, Tio Jose, Emma, and Angela!! Are you still at the house? Sorry to miss spending time with you guys! I hope you're all doing beautifully!! 

Also, Jamie, my brother from the same mother!!! How am I missing a holiday season where you'll be home the WHOLE time. You didn't plan that very well! It's ok, I forgive you. But seriously, enjoy it! I'm glad to hear that you're spending that time with the family!!! 

Thank you all for you love! I'm sorry I can't write more!! The computers once again failed for a good 30min...oh how I LOVE the internet of CHILE! 

I LOVE YOU ALL!!!!
Muchos besos,
Hermana Nahiomi Aponte

Monday, November 17, 2014

"Don't cry because it's ending; smile because it happened."

Hey Family,

I hope everything is going wonderfully!! I love hearing from you all :) There is a lot of fun stuff happening up there! I'm glad you guys are busy--stay busy!! I'm so happy to hear how involved you guys have been in missionary work in our ward! Keep up the good work :) I promise that this work brings more happiness than you guys can imagine; not only for those who recieve the gospel, but for those who share it, as well.

Sooo, today starts a new transfer! I am offically done with training and I am your normal, everyday missionary. That blows my mind and is kind of intimidating! The only thing that is a comfort is knowing that Heavenly Father won't let me mess up His work haha 

With this new transfer came the highly anticipated departure of my beloved mission mom, Hermana Allred. It breaks my heart that we won't be working together anymore. It was such a blessing to have worked with her and learned from her. You should have seen the members and investigadores when they found out she was leaving--everyone was crushed and many tears were shed. That amazing missionary has been in this ward for 11 months and she made every second count! That was the most important thing she taught me--that a love for the Savior and His work and for these people is everything. In the days leading up to the transfer (when we found ourselves crying a ridiculous amount) she said to me "Don't cry because it's ending; smile because it happened." TRUTH. Every second of my mission and my life is a blessing. I am determined to live up every second of it and cherish each tender mercy of the Lord. Look for those tender mercies, guys. They are EVERYWHERE and they are BEAUTIFUL. 

My new companion is Hermana Contreras and she is Chilena, so fluent spanish-speaking, HERE I COME!! She is great and is actually in my ward, so this isn't too drastic for her. I have lived with this kid for the last 3 months, so that's great! Also, lucky for her, she only needs to switch rooms :) Packing suitcases is the worst. Get used to this great missionary's name because (if the past is anything to go by) we will probably be together in this same sector for at least 6 months :) Personally, I would happily serve my entire mission in Macul--it's THE BEST!

I took a BUNCH of pictures this last week, BUT, the computers are once again being really dumb. I'm sorry :( Someday you will get so many pictures from me that you will get sick of it. Until that day, keep looking at the picture of me that I know you all have hidden under your pillows!

I would really love for you gusy to know (especially Mama and Papa) that the people here are wonderful! I love them and they have a beautiful love for the missionaries. They take care of me, so please don't stress yourselves! Also, there was an earthquake yesterday!! But, it was unimpressive, so don't get too excited. Things are just getting random here because I'm running out of time, as usual :)

I want to send stories of our investigadores with the pictures I took with them this week, so look forward to that! I promise we work with people, I just want you to have faces to go with the names!

Also, happy to see it's snowing over there! Our Christmas will be a delightful 100 degrees :) I know you're jealous.

I LOVE YOU GUYS! I MISS YOU!!! Por favor, keep praying for me! I appreciate that :)

Con mucho amor y muchos besos,

Hermana Nahiomi Aponte

Monday, November 10, 2014

with Elder Nelson and what can I say?

My dear sweet family,

I'm going to write this letter first because we got here late and only have an hour to email! I know it sounds like a good amount of time }, but it's not, so if I don't get to email you all individually, I AM SORRY! I will do better next week! Also, letters in the mail--they're coming for you!

Today we had our reunion with Elder Nelson and what can I say? IT WAS BEAUTIFUL. Before we started he took the time to shake each one of the like 480 missionary's hands and pretty much looked into my soul in the process. I loved so much of what he and his wife shared that I don't even know what to pick out!

His wife talked a lot about who we are. I don't think we will ever fully comrehend that. She said that if we could look back and see our premortal life (think about that--a LIFE. not a few seconds, but a lifetime), it would change everything. If we could see the choices we made, Who we stood by, and the promises/covenants we made with our Father in Heaven it would change EVERYTHING. We would know that we stood by Jesus Christ and decided to follow Him then. We would know that we made covenants with God to follow His Son again in this life. We would know that we can do literally anything. Every obstacle, every doubt, every fear, every challenge; they would all melt away. If we cuold "gaze into heaven" for but 5 min, we would learn more about ourselves, our purpose, our potential, than we will learn in this entire life. This was her promise: As we study the scriptures and are worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost, we WILL gaze into heaven. We WILL come to know those things and they WILL change every aspect of our lives. Needless to say, it was a beautiful message.

Elder Nelson said so much, but his whole thing was that we were going to study pure doctrine in this meeting. So, obviously we opened up the scriptures and read from them. He told us to study them. I love that. The gospel of Jesus Christ is so simple and PURE that when one of His apostles is teaching, he's telling us to study the scriptures. That's where the gospel of Jesus Christ is found! It's painfully obvious and painfully taken for granted. STUDY THE SCRIPTURES! Elder Nelson called President Wright and his wife to the stand and told them they had this moment to teach these 480 missionaries ANYTHING they wanted. My sweet President and his wife got up there and bore their simple testimonies. They know that Christ lives and that this is His true church and that they are blessed to serve with us. Elder Nelson said that when we stand before the Savior, He will probably ask us what the most important thing is for us. Just as President and Hermana Wright, our answers should be our testimonies. We NEED to continue developing our testimonies of this gospel and of our Savior. That is the most important thing.

He also talked about how we need to forget about everything else that is not this work and the people we're serving. He was like "Stop worrying about your families because they are being well taken care of!" The Spirit bore testimony to me that his words were true. Being a missionary, it's amazingly easy to me worried about your family because you're not there to help them out. But Elder Nelson's promise to us was that our families would be blessed for our dedicated service. The best thing we can do for our families is to lose ourselves in this work.

He also ended on a beautiful not, leaving his apostolic blessing upon us. He blessed us with health and that we could return home safely and contiue preaching the gospel there. He blessed us that we would find joy in our service. The most touching part for me was when he blessed our families. He blessed that our families would be fortified and strengthened and develop and thrive in this gospel as we served whole-heartedly and worthily. You guys have the blessing of an apostle of our Savior, Jesus Christ. That's a comfort haha

It was a great meeting and an amazing opportunity to here the testimony of an apostle of the Lord. These men really are called by the living God. They truly are prophets and apostles of the living Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that is true.

In other news...there's not much other news! I may be writing you with a new compnaion next week. We'll see! That stresses me out a bit. I'm so bad at change, but transfers and called "cambios" in spanish, which literally means "changes." SO MUCH FUN :) It's ok! 

Catharine and Lucas have baptismal dates (along with 5 other investigators), so I'll keep you updated on their progress! These two jsut have such sincere desires to know the truth and do what the Lord wants. One Sunday they came to church when a woman and her son were being confirmed and Catharine leaned over to Lucas and was like "I want that to be us!" They are precious and are progressings wonderfully!

Other than that, not too much going on! I'm now going to try and write a couple of you! This has nothing to do with favorites, OK! I just pick a couple of lucky random siblings :) I LOVE YOU ALL! Please don't worry about me! I am SO HAPPY to be serving here. Sister Nelson said we told Heavenly Father we were going to do a list of things on this earth. We have forgotten about a lot of those things and that's heart-breaking. She said we all promised Him that we would serve these missions in Santiago at this time. I know that is true. I am supposed to be here and that is why I find so much joy here. If we want to be happy--if you want to find the pure JOY that Heavenly Father has planned for you--figure out what you promised to do before you came to this earth. Keep those covenants and you will be happy! I know this Church is true! I know that it is the only church on the earth that contains the full gospel of the Lord, Jesus Christ. I know that by living it, we will be happy and find joy in this life and the life to come. We should not settle for being "good people." So many people here say that. "I'm a good person, so it doesn't matter." It does matter. You are a child of the living God! Live up to that in EVERYTHING you do. 

I LOVE YOU!!!

Con amor y muchos besos,
Hermana Nahiomi Aponte

Monday, November 3, 2014

IT IS EVERYTHING!

The gospel of Jesus Christ (when we live it) can change everything. I would really like you to please read the talk "His Grace is Sufficient" by Brad Wilcox…I LOVE THIS TALK!!! Here's why:

The longer I have been on the mission, the more people I teach, the more righteous I become, the more I live the gospel and the more I actually live like the Savior did, but the further I get from my goal of becoming like Him. Does that make sense? The more I follow the example of the Savior every day, the more I realize that I am seriously a lost cause; the more I realize that I will NEVER be even CLOSE to being worthy of returning to the presence of our Father in Heaven. That was a hard lesson for me to learn...I'm still learning more, every day.

Here's the beauty: the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I can't tell you how important it is that we study and come to understand the Atonement. IT IS EVERYTHING. It is not just to repent. That would be ridiculous because then how the heck would we get pass all the crappy times?!

Jesus Christ literally suffered for EVERYTHING. I give you my testimony that He had a moment in His suffering when He suffered for YOU. He had a moment where He thought only about YOU and felt only for YOU. Not just for your sins; He felt the pain, whether it be physical, emotional, or spiritual; He felt the sorrow and the temptations; He felt the loneliness and the guilt; He felt it all. Because of He had a moment for YOU (and a moment for each of us), He knows EXACTLY how to help YOU through everything. I testify of that.

Jesus Christ, your older brother and Savior--the Son of the living God--is there for you now and in every moment of your life. He is there in every situation and circumstance, no matter what. He is there to heal YOU, to forgive YOU, lift you up, and to help you keep going.

Look to Him in it all. Put your trust in Him through it all. I don't care what comes your way, it doesn't matter! It doesn't matter what trial or what mistake, He is there and He will help you carry your load. He is not waiting for the finish line to help you, He is there running with you every step of the way!

Look to Him to help you survive and surpass the temptations and affairs of this world. He is there and He is waiting. His arms are ALWAYS open, you just need to come to Him.