Tuesday, December 29, 2015

tired and sad...

How great that the world takes Christmas as a time to remember the Savior. I know it's something that we should do all the time (and as members of His Church, we do), but there is always a special feeling during Christmas. People start acting a little more Christ-like and that brings a general increase of happiness, peace, and hope. How beautiful it is that we can have that constantly--that the Savior's very mission and purpose is to bring to pass our eternal happiness through salvation.

One of my favorite scriptures is Helaman 5:12. I know I've shared it before, but you can't beat a good classic, alright? It says: 

"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, IT SHALL HAVE NO POWER OVER YOU to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall." 

What a promise! There are storms that hit us everyday. There are things that distract us from what is most important; situations which bring pain and suffering. We face rejection, ridicule, loneliness, and doubt. They can all be winds sent by the adversary with the hopes of driving us off-course and ultimately set us adrift in a sea of uncertainty and misery.

I would like you all to take a nice look at the picture I sent of iron-man. I think this just applies to life in general, not just the mission! For me, in the moments when I feel like picture number two, Helaman 5:12 slaps me in the face and I turn into picture number one, again. The key is "remember, remember." When storms come it is easy to forget where our strength to keep going comes from; it's easy to forget that we have found that strength before; it's easy to forget "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." 

This week has been a week of remembering for me. I'd like to share a couple of these memories with you, with the hopes that "...ye should read these things..." and "remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts." Also, that you can see these works and "glorify my Father which is in heaven."

- This time last year was easily the hardest point of my entire mission. I often thought it was the hardest time of my entire life. For weeks I searched the scriptures and prayed to find strength, but nothing came. I knew that I needed the enabling power of the Atonement to keep going, but I couldn't figure out how to access it. I kept working hard, I was obedient, and we had a lot of success in our sector, but I wasn't happy. It hurt me so badly to do this work without being happy. 

      One day, a dear friend stopped me and asked, "Hermana Aponte, what happened? You look different." I asked her, "What do I look like?" She told me, "You look like you need the enabling power of the Atonement." I broke down into tears and she hugged me. She told me that there are times when we feel like we can't keep fighting; there are times when we feel like we can't give any more. But, the Savior will never let us reach the point where we can't give more. Right before we get there, the power comes. 

Spent Christmas day with this kids.
Oh, how I miss Hna. Clawson.
      I cleaved to that hope for a couple of more weeks until I found myself kneeling in prayer. I poured out my heart and asked for forgiveness. I had learned that my lack of happiness came because I was not serving because of the LOVE I had for the Savior. That day, as I knelt in prayer, His will became my will and I started serving out of love. This changed my mission--it changed my life.

- I boarded the bus, tired and sad after receiving some hard news. I was distracted and feeling a little hopeless...I looked to my side and there was a lady next to me who looked like she'd had an even worse day than I did. I started talking to her and she shared the struggles she was having with 3 kids as a single mom. I listened and I loved her. She happily accepted the invitation to meet with missionaries and I walked off that bus smiling, feeling light. I don't know what happened to her, but I'm convinced that Heavenly Father put her there more for me than me for her. I learned that day about the beauty of lifting a brother or sister so that they can keep going, even for just a bit. That sister of mine was put on the bus to help me do that. "You lift me and I'll lift thee and we'll ascend together."

- My first transfer EVER. I stood up and President announced a whitewash with Hermana Clawson. The next few months were FULL of getting lost on buses, getting whistled at in the street, getting yelled at by Catholics and Baptists, and learning to just let Heavenly Father take control. His plan is always so much better. 

My last Christmas box from Home in Chile!
- As a 16-year-old girl, I asked Heavenly Father about serving a mission. It wasn't ever what I had wanted, but I had a sincere desire to know of His plan. He told me "yes! Go do it and everything will work out!" I didn't want to, but I decided that day that I would be obedient. I came on the mission out of obedience, but it has been here that I have been converted. I am still here because I love the Lord. Obedience turned into consecration; consecration turned into conversion; conversion into discipleship. This is easily the best decision I've ever made.

- 27 years ago, two kids decided to let some missionaries enter their house. They didn't have much hope for the future, mostly as a result of their pasts. The odds were stacked up against them, so everyone believed they were destined to fail. They beat the odds, but it had everything to do with the Savior. I say that I am here because the mercy of the Lord towards those two kids. He saw fit that they received the restored gospel and their decision to follow Him changed everything. The gospel changed everything for them and for me. 

Remember that moments that you have felt the love of your Father in Heaven. Remember when He has spoken to you; remember when He has given you peace and hope; remember when He has made you into so much more. All His promises will be fulfilled. I testify of that and of His love. Remembering those moments is always what gets me through a storm. Storms don't last forever, but what the Savior has given us does. 

I love you guys!
Love,
Hermana Aponte

My last Christmas Eve in Chile!

My little old lady!

Reunited with my hija amada!
My plane buddy, Hna Cannon!
We met in Atlanta on the way to Chile
and we've been best buds ever since.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

"Oh, le queda poco!"

New Area
I sent you a picture of my lovely new area. My companion is Hna Alderete from Argentina. She is 27 years old, so that's crazy, but we can bond over our wrinkles. Also, she speaks Spanish like a pro, so hopefully Mama and Papa will actually understand my Spanish when they hear me.

The sector is a bomb just waiting to explode with amazing people who just want to follow Jesus Christ! Hna Alderete's previous companion went home for her health, so they were unable to work the area for 4 of the 6 weeks that Hna Alderete was here. That basically means that this is like a white-wash, round 2 and it's been a lot of fun! I will definitely try to get a more substantial email out next week. I'm so sorry, again.

Everyone I've talked to here asks me how much time I have left on the mission...when I answer, it's always followed by, "Oh, le queda poco!" aka "You only have a little bit left!" I've been feeling that lately. The time that the Lord has given me to serve Him 24/7 is extremely short and so precious to me. Oftentimes, the Spirit whispers to me of the sacredness of what I'm doing here. This week, I have had many of those moments. Those feelings have given way to an even more beautiful realization: throughout my mission and my life, I have chosen to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. That is so much more than wearing a name-tag.
New Companion and New Apartment

I know that my Savior lives. I know that. I know that this is His Church and nothing can ever change that. I know that Jesus Christ is the light of the world. He casts out all darkness, if we left Him. I'm thankful for the opportunity to serve Him here, but you all have the same opportunity. The darkness is casts out, not just by sharing the gospel, but by changing to become like Him. That is where all happiness I have comes from.

View from Last Apartment...so from here to the above.
 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

    Hermana Nahiomi Aponte and Hermana Clawson whish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

start from scratch and change everything...

Well, Chile is finally heating up a bit! 

My tan-line on my feet is back and my neck is officially 10 shades darker than any other part of me! We are starting to invest in popsicles and sunscreen, so it's SUMMER!! I love summer :)

What a great week! 

“Asombro me da el amor que me da Jesus” and the love He gives to everyone around me. 

This week we had a beautiful opportunity to teach a young, unmarried couple named Diana and Herbis. They have a little daughter named Sofia and they are incredible. They are both so hurt by the mistakes they’ve made and all they want is to have a happy, united family. They want to give their daughter all the hope, protection, and happiness that they didn’t receive from their own families. They’ve felt so lost and hopeless, just because they didn’t know how that would ever be possible.

As I heard them share that, shedding tears the whole time, the Spirit whispered to me: “These are your parents!” In that moment, I just broke down crying, too. It wasn't just that they had similar situations to those of mama and papa. The Spirit was telling me that these two young kids felt EXACTLY as mama and papa did when they met the missionaries. 

I couldn’t hold back exclaiming “I have to tell you something!” In tears and with a picture of my family and the temple, I shared mama and papa's story with Diana and Herbis. I was able to share with them that their dreams ARE possible and there IS hope because I am the evidence. I am the product of a young couple who had no hope until they found it in the gospel. I am the proof that the gospel changes our possibilities and that Jesus Christ has changed our destiny.


In a moment of the lesson, they were just in tears as we told them about the hope of repentance. Christ lives and He lives to save THEM from sin and to free them! He lives to let them start from scratch and change everything about the future of their family. In the end, we invited them to be baptized and prepare to be sealed in the temple. As we extended the invitation, they were holding hands and just looking in each other's eyes, smiling and in tears. They have baptism dates from December and are excited to be married and prepare to enter into the temple to be sealed in one year. That is already where their vision and hope is.

Hermana Clawson has a deep love for mama and papa and our family :) She was also in tears as she told them that I am Sofia in 20 years. She told them that because of the decision mama and papa made, I am here and she has been blessed for it. She said that thousands of people have been and will be blessed for it. It will be the same for Diana and Herbis. Their decision will change all possibilities and futures of their family. 


This was a tender mercy for me, really. I’m just continually amazed by how Heavenly Father let me be here to just testify of the hope. I know it’s real because it’s the reason I have my family right now. It’s the reason for every good thing in my life and I know it will be the reason for every good thing in the lives of Diana, Herbis, Sofia and the rest of their children who are waiting. Heavenly Father’s plan is beautiful.

Well, I'm all out of time, but I love you guys dearly. It's still up to us to choose an eternal family and choose the Savior's Atonement to start from scratch every day. I know the Savior lives and I know that He is not just the Savior of Diana and Herbis, but for all of us. If you continually look for Him, you will see that :) WHAT A BLESSING. I LOVE YOU GUYS!!!

Love,
Hermana Aponte

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The mission is easily the hardest thing I've ever done...

¿Qúe les cuento? As always, it was a beautiful week here in Santiago, Chile. I sometimes feel bad because I know you guys aren't even capturing how incredible it is for me to be serving the Lord. There is nothing I would rather be doing and nothing has ever brought me so much joy.

That seems to be such a theme among the people we talk to here. So many people believe that they are happy, but they have no concept of what joy is. They feel like something is missing or that life can't possibly be just what they're seeing in front of them, yet they don't know what it is they're missing. They're missing joy! I think a lot of time that's all that we are missing. But, what's the difference between joy and happiness? Why is one better than the other? Why is joy the purpose of our very existence? 

I'm not 100% sure. I don't know a whole lot of things, but there are a couple of things that I know about joy. Basically, this is it for me: Joy is not temporal and it's something that comes from within. Because it comes from within us, it's not affected by the things happening around us. What greater blessing is there? No wonder Heavenly Father's whole plan centers on us finding JOY! He wants us to be free and to become like Him! The whole point of us being here is that we are not victims of the things happening in this crazy world and our crazy lives. In the end, this joy is only possible through Jesus Christ. 

The mission is easily the hardest thing I've ever done. Think about it. We walk all day, whether is raining or 100 degrees and sunny. I wipe dirt off my legs at night and when I wash my hands, the water is actually dirty! Sometimes, people yell at us. Some people have told me that I'm annoying and bothering everyone around me. Sometimes they tell me that I hate God and don't know who Jesus Christ is. I get gross things yelled at me on a daily basis from drunk guys on the side of the road. Then, there are the even grosser things said by people who aren't even drunk. I'm 5000 miles away from family and friends and school and movies. I've even had to eat cow stomach! Why in the world is this the happiest I've ever been in my whole life? I have joy. 

Very little of the joy I feel from doing this work comes from the craziness happening around me. It comes from the Savior. It comes from knowing that He is at my side because I have chosen to follow Him. It comes from knowing that because I've chosen Him, He will chose me. It comes from knowing that HE is proud of me. It comes form knowing that I'm making HM happy. It comes from being able to love people HE loves. It comes from trying to be HIS hands and share HIS love and the hope HE offers.

This week we started teaching a guy named Sebastian. He's always heard about God because his parents taught him. Lately, he's been feeling like he's missing something...recently, he realized that he doesn't really have a personal relationship with God. He doesn't know if He's there or if He cares or what He thinks about Sebatian...

Now, if only you could see Sebastian! He is this 22-year-old kid with a purple mohawk, but you look at him and you just see goodness. All I see is that he is another of God's children who is looking for something, but he doesn't know what. He has had a rough life because of some poor decisions he's made...he's made himself subject to a lot of the circumstances around him. For a long time his happiness has come from the things around him, the people around him, and what those people think. We ended up talking to him a lot about the love that Jesus Christ has for him and how Sebastian has a Friend who is just waiting to help him find joy.He said to us that this is literally the hope and peace that he's been waiting for. He found what He didn't know he was looking for. He is changing and he is going to find joy. It will be eternal and it will be what keeps him going throughout the rest of his life, regardless of circumstances and the choices of other people.

I think it should be so much easier for us! We already know where joy comes from. We have already felt the peace and hope and relief that Jesus Christ offers. If we haven't, we at least have the great blessing of knowing exactly where to look for it. That's really all I want for you guys and for all of the people I love. It's really what Heavenly Father wants for you guys. If we don't have JOY, we need to take a step back and realize that we're making it too hard. Like President Uchtdorf said, living the gospel is easy. Therefore, finding joy is easy. I promise it comes in the Savior and in living His gospel. I can testify of that. I think people look at missionaries and see that we have no reason to walk the streets grinning everyday. By their standards, we have 0 happiness. Yet, at the end of the day, we're still the ones grinning, no matter what. It doesn't come from us. The strength to keep going and to keep finding light does not come from us. It comes straight from following the Savior. He leaves a trail of light and joy.

I LOVE YOU GUYS :)
Love,
Hermana Aponte

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

He cut me down...

I would just like to apologize in advance for the lameness of this letter. I've been pretty sick these last couple of days and I can't really get out any coherent thoughts, so just excuse me now.
 
So, Fabian got baptized on Sunday!!!! What a beautiful miracle. Listen to the story he shared at his baptism:
 
One day, he was just leaving the apartment when we held the gate open for him so he could leave the apartment complex. He looked back to thank us and saw our name-tags for just a second, but we kept walking. The image of those name-tags stayed in his mind all day. When He was 10-years-old there were two elders with name-tags just like that who taught his mom! He started to remember parts of what they had taught him and how good he had felt when those elders were at his house. Then, two days later, Fabian was at a bus stop and saw us standing there. His bus pulled up and he said that he knew he had a choice. He could take it or stop to get to talk to us. His bus kept going and he sat down. We're missionaries, so we started to talk to him and the rest is history. I've never taught someone so prepared. It is amazing how Heavenly Father prepared Him throughout His life to be ready to talk to us and accept the gospel in that moment.
 
 
There's more! Fabian has a friend from school named Hernan. Hernan is from a different ward, but is a pretty solid member of the church. In his ward, the missionaries invited him and his wife to pray to find someone who could be baptized by Nov. 1st Well, they started to get anxious because Nov. 1 was coming up quickly and they still hadn't found anyone. One day, they were praying in the temple to be able to find this person who could be baptized. When they came out, Hernan checked his phone and there was a text from Fabian, which read: "Hernan, I'm getting baptized on November 1st. Will you baptize me?" It was a miracle for Hernan and his wife, too. 
 
I guess I'm just amazed by how beautiful Heavenly Father's plan is. When He does something, He works in the lives of many of His children to bring to pass so much good. Many people's lives (min included) were changed and many testimonies were strengthened because of the beautiful workmanship of our Father in Heaven. He really is so good.
 
So, I told you guys that I'm sick. That's been really hard for me because I've never been sick enough to not be able to work on the mission. Yesterday, I was in tears, just praying to Heavenly Father to help me understand why I couldn't go work. I told Him that all I want to do is go be a missionary. I couldn't understand why He would let me be sick. 
 
Today I read in Daniel chapter 4, the story of kind Nebuchadnezzar. He had a dream about a great tree that was giving good fruit and helping a lot of animals to have shelter and food. This tree was fulfilling the measure of it's creation and it was reaching up to the heavens. It thought everything was going pretty well. Then, there comes "the watcher," who commands that the tree be cut down. This tree is the king and he was cut down because it was what the Lord saw fit. In the end, he turns to the Lord and ends up praising the Lord for all He's done for him. In the end, the king receives even more than he had.
 
 
I realized that I am this tree and I am the king. A couple of days ago I prayed that Heavenly Father would help me to stay close to Him. I prayed that He would help me to become more consecrated and just that I could depend more on Him. Then, He answered. He cut me down and it has been hard for me. There have been a lot of tears in the process because being cut down is hard, but Heavenly Father does not do it to hurt me. I am 100% sure of that. He has a much bigger vision of who I can become. Being cut down and humbled is part of helping me to trust Him more and become who HE wants me to be. Maybe I think I'm a great tree and maybe I've given off some good fruit, but He sees something even greater. 
 
I am thankful for my Father in Heaven. I am thankful that He is SO PATIENT and SO LOVING that He will cut us down as many times as we need to reach our full potential. he doesn't give up on us and everything He does really is for our benefit. It's funny, but the way I feel Heavenly Father's love the most has become letting Him cut me down and refine me. It's always hard and it's always uncomfortable, but that's when I see how much hope He has for me. 
 
I LOVE YOU GUYS! Let Heavenly Father cut you down and refine you; ask Him what He needs you to learn from it, then keep going. Keep trusting :)
 
Love,
Hermana Aponte

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Tender mercies of the Lord...

Hermana Aponte speaks about the love of God during Fabian's baptism on 11/1/2015.  This video was take by Jared Pratt, friend of the Aponte who happened to visit the same ward as Hermana Aponte while in Santiago Chile for business.  You can only imagine the surprise for both, but even more for the family when receiving this video.  Missionaries only speak to their family on Mother's day and Christmas.  So it had been almost 6 months since they had seen Nahiomi.
 
 
 
Fabian and his sister next to Nahiomi and her companion Sister Clawson
 
Hermana Aponte and Jared Pratt - Jared is like an uncle to Nahiomi.  She has known him and to be best friend to the Aponte since she was a baby.  Nahiomi grew up playing with his kids and have gone on vacations together.  The Aponte and the Pratt are like family to each other.  So this moment, unplanned was a surprise and very special to both.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Leadership council of the Chile Santiago East Mission



Leadership council of the Chile Santiago East Mission...this is a picture from their last meeting. We hope you can feel the Spirit as strong as we did, while staring at the happy faces of these group of stripling warriors with their Captain President Morgan and wife. Our daughter Hermana Aponte is the second from the left, in red, on the second road. She has been serving as Hermana Leader since last December 2014 if we remember well and has repeatedly shared such has been one the most humbling experiences during her mission.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Maxi...

 
Maxi...His dad was a less-active member for a long time, so his kids are not members of the church! He wants so badly to have an eternal family, so we're working with him, one kid at a time. The baptism was beautiful. 3 young men from the ward spoke and Florencia (Maxi's sister and our investigator next to me) was in tears throughout the whole service. She told us that she wants to be baptized! She knows the Church is true :-) Maxi's dad put on his mission placa to baptize his son haha I don't know if that's even allowed, but we didn't say anything about it. He shared with us that none of his baptism on his mission even compare to the feeling of baptizing his own son...it's true that the most important work we'll do is within the walls of our own home! Mama and Papa, You've always taught me that.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Luis a dear friend...


Luis a dear friend of mine by now. We met him our first day here in Apoquindo! He was baptized on Saturday, Oct. 17th and confirmed a member... of the Church on Sunday. His mom has been a member since he was a kid. There behind him is his brother who traveled 12 hours by bus to come baptize his older brother...Luis has been taught by missionaries since he was 15, but it turns out that this was his time. In his baptism he shared a beautiful testimony, he said:

"I testify that this is the only true Church and that it is the church of Jesus Christ. I know I'm not going to be perfect, but I'm never going to leave this. I know He is here and I know He will help me."
 
What a blessing it is to be part of this sweet family's lives. They truly are one-of-a-kind :-) I LOVE THEM

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

YOU KNOW YOUR'E IN CHILE WHEN

Well, Pa told me pretty much that my emails are lame and you guys want to know about Chile, not my mission, so that's rude. He didn't use those exact words, but I know how you all really feel, so here goes nothing! I would like to apologize in advance in case I don't get time to make this spiritual. It's on you guys.
YOU KNOW YOUR'E IN CHILE WHEN:
- everyone walks around with a "carrito," which is basically a little hand cart that you guy your fruits and veggies in. i've sent you all a picture of a broken one.
- they sell EVERYTHING in a bag. Yogurt, shampoo, soap, cheese, ham, jelly...anything you can imagine, it comes in a bag.
- depending on where you are, there's more poop on the streets than grass
- everyone is catholic "a mi manera" so like in their own way
- You play sardines in all public transportation...literally, you get on a metro in the morning and people's faces are pressed up against the glass, yet people just keep piling in! It's hilarious, except that it usually feels like a law of chasity violation...sorry if that's scarring.
- you watch the sunrise over the Andes and that is as life-changing as it sounds
- you smell bread ALL THE TIME coming from every direction and it's easily the best bread you've ever eaten
- you can put manjar (that brown stuff I sent you for christmas) on everything and no one even judges you! It goes on bread, fruit, crackers, or you just suck it right out of the tube
- dessert is just peaches with a little yogurt on top, so I miss brownies
- "salad" means tomatoes and onions with oil and salt :)
- any vegetable is made unhealthy in 5 seconds by pouring mayo and salt and oil on top!
- everyone think you get sick if you walk around without your crocs on haha
- names for missionaries change everyday. One day we're "elderas!" (because adding "a" to the end of "elders" means we're girls...the next day "mi hijita" and the next day they call us "I've always wanted to marry an american! Marry me!" I don't think they've ever realized that the last one isn't my name!
Well, that's it for now. If you have specific questions, I'm taking requests for next week! It is 100% true that this is probably one of the most beautiful countries ever, even though I still think Guatemala has Chile beat. You guys will love it here!
This week, in the transfers meeting, President (whom I LOVE dearly along with his great family), talked about seeing the miralces...you remember that time last week when I told you all that it's been hard not seeing too many fruits of the work we're doing? Well, I got a good slap in the face in that meeting. He said "We're too busy looking for the giant miralces WE want to see that we miss the many miracles happening everyday." That's Hermana Aponte for ya. That's a lot of us, really.
This week I tried to focus on seeing the miracles. I pray for that conastantly and it has been amazing! 

On saturday, we had this activty for the 18 of september. We have been teaching this family that has a little 9 year old girl who loves the book of Mormon and wants to get baptized, but her parents are very slow to want to keep comittments. We knew her family didn’t really want to come. Her parents dont really have a desire and they didnt know where the church was, but the entire week I was praying that Thiare would remember and that her parent's hearts would be softened. Right before the activity, we went to her house. Her mom was gone and her dad was asleep, but we told her that she was invited if they could bring her. 2 hours into the activty we get a phone call from a random number, answer it and firgure out that its her dad who wants to bring the kids to the activity and asks how to get to the church!  Heavenly Father is so aware of each one of His children and our prayers.

We had an amazing lesson with the familia briones. We felt super strongly in planning that we needed to talk about the hope of repentance. We did, and the spirit testified so strongly of the love that Christ has and how willing he is to purify us. We could see in their eyes and faces that this message was what they needed, and in the prayer that they offered, thanking this new perspective of repentance and the savior. It really is the Lord who is leading this work. We could do it without Him because it's HIM who knows exactly what people need.
Trust in Heavenly Father and look for the miracles everyday. Life is hard and sad if we're so busy looking for the sun that we miss the rainbow :)
I LOVE YOU ALL!!!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

She was in tears...

Yesterday, I did intercambios (I think you call them splits) with Hna Mejia, from la Republica Dominicana. She is a convert of 3 years! How cool is that? It was freezing and raining all day and we didn't have any appointments scheduled, so I thought it was going to be a pretty rough day. In the end, it was my favorite intercambio I've done this whole transfer. Hna Mejia told me that she got baptized because she hopes to have a different family than the broken family she comes from...that's what drives her everyday; "the hope for a better world" (Ether 12:4). Her whole story reminded me so much of Mama and I felt really impressed to share with her mom and pa's story. What a blessing to be able to see my mom in this hermana and tell her that she will change her family forever, just like my mom has done. She was in tears as she realized that I am the product of a girl like her. I am the fruit that she has the hope of seeing in her own family one day. I am so blessed just to know hermanas like Hna Mejia. We're so blessed to have parents that have always had that vision of "a better world." That's exactly the hope that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings.

This transfer hasn't been an easy one, but I think it's been my favorite one. Hna Clawson and I were talking about it the other day...we both feel like we're working harder than we have our whole missions. We feel like we are the best missionaries we've been our whole missions, yet never have we seen so little fruit of what we're doing! That makes no sense, right? We've kept asking ourselves, "If we're trying so hard, why don't we see the results?"

In 2 Nephi 4:31, Nephi is clearly begging for a change in his own life. He says:
 "31 O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?"
I think, how often is this us? How often are we seeking a change in ourselves and in our lives or the lives of others? I think that a lot of times we don't want to sin or displease God. We're generally good people. I don't think our nature is to do evil, but we are weak. There is a clear need to be changed from our natural, carnal state. There is a clear need to GO BACK to being the strong spirits we were when we chse to come to this life. That requires an at-one-ment (becoming one with God), which is only made possible through the Atonement. How interesting is that? The word "atonement" breaks up to be at-one-ment...

Changing and becoming one with the Lord can only happen through a sanctification that comes through the Spirit. It requires, as Alma teaches "a broken heart and a contrite spirit" (Alma 13:12). This is what I realized this week. Too often I want change and I want at-one-ment (to be one with Christ), but I want it on my conditions! I want to be better and give more to the Lord, but with submitting to HIS conditions. I want to be a disciple of Christ and do HIS work, but I want to see the results now. It can't work that way.

Nephi says it:  "32 May the gates of hell be shut continually before me,because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite!O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousnessbefore me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley,that I may be strict in the plain road!"

A broken heart and a contrite spirit means submitting ourselves of the will of God. It means trusting that the Master knows better than the servant. It's only then that REAL change and REAL progress can happen.

 33 O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thyrighteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mineescape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my pathstraight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling blockin my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way beforeme, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy.

 34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in theeforever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man ormaketh flesh his arm.

Christ offers us freedom and protection from our enemies. My enemies are my temptations, my sins, my weaknesses, my fears, and my failures. To access this freedom, we need to acheive at-one-ment. We need give the Lord our will and stop relying "in the arm of flesh." I am so guilty of this. There are so many times that I think I know the way to change and happiness, but He has already provided. We don't need to keep searching in darkness for a way out. It's in Him! All we have to do if follow Him.
This is what I've seen this change. The flesh is weak, but my Savior lives and that is everything. I have seen Him change people here. He is changing Luis and He is changing me. When I let His will become my own--when I stop thinking that I know better--I find JOY. It's not something that lasts for a moment. It's a joy that comes from becoming better. The Savior's Atonement is not just to make us free, it's to make us more. That's why change and progress have to be on His conditions. He makes us free, but if we want realy progress, we have to follow Him. That is when He makes us more.

I think you all are the #1´s! Thanks for writing me, even though I never write you back. I promise I read you letters and they brighten my weeks! You all have letters coming in the mail :) I LOVE YOU and just know that this is the best chioce I've ever made. I'd stay forever if being a mom wasn't part of the Plan. MUCHOS BESOS.

Love,

Hermana Aponte

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The tears flowed...

Dear familia Aponte,

Good lucky to everyone in school this week! Remember: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me :) I think you're all THE #1. YOU, yes you (I'm now talking to each of you individually), are my favorite. Thanks for writing me this week! I know you don't have a ton of time, but it makes my whole day :)

I wrote a couple of you this experience I had yesterday, but I'll just share it for the Aponte's in general. Yesterday, we had zone conference with Pres. Morgan and Hna. Morgan. As usual, it was pretty great, but what the Spirit taught me was even greater than anything they said. That's always the point of teaching, right? that the SPIRIT teaches...in the end, two hermanas sang the song "Saviour Redeemer" and I was taught.
It goes: 

"Make me more worthy of thy love...and fit me for the life above.
Joy in our hearts...His praise we sing,
bearing the name of Christ, Our King."

The tears flowed pretty freely. What an amazing blessing it is to bear the name of my Savior. What an INCREDIBLE blessing to stop fighting His will and the nautral man in me. What a blessing to just give myself to Him and let Him shape me into all that I can become as a daughter of the livng God. What a blessing...I have never had so much JOY as I have had here on the mission. There is a difference between happiness and joy. The point of our existence is to have JOY. That is what I feel serving the Lord. The tears flowed because I never want this to end. 

Christ told Joseph Smith that people honor Him with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him. In 2 Nephi 27:25-26, we learn that the Lord has a plan to bring our HEARTS back to Him. He doesn't want followers who follow Him jsut to do it. He doesn't want followers who go through the motions. He doesn't want us to just get up to go to Church every Sunday. He doesn't want followers who know His word, yet have not let it change them (see Mosiah 12:27)...

"make me more worthy of thy love...and fit me for the life above." This is why He has a plan to turn our hearts to Him. He has a plan to make it so that we honor Him with our lips AND our hearts--in 2 Nephi 27:25-26, we learn that His marvelous work and wonder to bring our hearts to Him is the Restoration fo the Gospel. Even mroe specifically, it's the Book of Mormon. 

Today I saw this as we studied 3 Nephi...Christ teaches that as we SERVE other people, we become strong enough to withstand temptation. Do we all realize that this changes EVEYRTHING?! He commands us to serve eachother and promises that as we do so, we will not fall into temptation. We will not fall into the temptation fo being a matural man or woman...any temptation fo weakness we have, we will not fall into it if we forget about ourselves. 
Think about it. Any mistake you've made, you made it when you were thinking about yourself. That's the key then, isn't it. Christ has always taught us that. If we can forget about ourselves, then we are made free. That changes my life. That doesn't make me scared to not be a missionary. That makes me stop worrying about falling back into who I was...thisis the secret to LIFE. We found it in the Book of Mormon and it has turned my heart to the Lord. It makes it so that I serve others not just to do it. I'm not here just to be here. I will not follow Him just to do it. I will do it because that's where I can find JOY. It really is the right thing to do, but it's also the only smart thing. 
The joy comes from giving the Lord our hearts. It comes from honoring Him in EVERY single way. He wants our lips and our hearts. That's where the joy comes from. If you want to do it, follow His plan--study the Book of Mormon. It turns hearts. 

I LOVE YOU!!!!

Love,
Hermana Aponte

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I'll be leaving Macul after 11 months


Dear sweet Aponte's,
I guess everyone is on edge because you haven't heard from me yet! Sorry. I was packing. Yup, you all read that right. Hermana Aponte is spending P-Day packing. Last night I got the call that I'll be leaving Macul after 11 months. I don't know how I feel...I'm excited and sad and nervous (mostly because I don't find out where I'm going until tomorrow). Even though I didn't know about the changes until yesterday night, I definitely just said good-bye to everyone on Sunday. It broke my heart. It honestly feels like leaving home all over again haha 
last zone pic of Alicahue!!! I have another t-shirt
with a 1 on it because I had 1 months in Macul at that time...
this one says 11! Still in Macul :) haha

We egged Pres Wright (last day)
Have I ever told you all about how much I love Macul and the people here? I feel blessed. In Mosiah 18:30 it says that the Waters of Mormon became beautiful and sacred to the people because that was where they came to a knowledge of their Redeemer. Santiago (especially the streets of Macul) have become sacred to me. I see them and they are beautiful. The houses are beautiful and the people are beautiful; all because it's been here that I've come to know Jesus Christ as my Redeemer. It's been here that I've learned how to rely on Him and it was here where I decided to give Him my heart.

My stomach dropped when I got the call about my changes, but it's a good thing. I love this sector and the people here. In these 11 months Macul has stolen my heart...well, that's what I thought. As I was praying about that and pondering the changes, a clear thought came to my mind: "Your heart belongs to the Lord." Of course I love this sector, but I am excited for the chance to serve other brothers and sisters I have in...I still don't know where :) I'll go where the Lord needs me and do it with Hermana Allred's words ringing in my ears: "Don't cry because it's over; samile because it happened!" I'm smiling :)

I loved living with these kids!
Alma 29:9 talks says "perhaps I may be an instrument in the Lord's hands...this is my joy." This Sunday, as I hugged Betzy Cabrera good-bye, she wouldn't let me go. It took me a second to realize that she was crying...that made me cry haha These moments are what bring the joy. When I see a family come back to Christ or when someone finds Him for the first time, these are the moments of joy. It's like nothing I've ever experienced before. The Savior said that if we loe ourselves for His sake, we will find ourselves. That has been true for me in my time here in Macul. In my interview with Pres. Morgan this week, he asked me if my mission is like I thought it would be. It's so much better. I love being a missionary. I love serving the Lord. Nothing has ever brought me so much joy :)

I love you guys so much! Have fun at the temple and take lots of pictures! I don't want to point any fingers, but Ricky, Jaz, Jake, Jaq, and Abe, where you at? Look forward to hearing about the new sector and new comp next week! I LOVE YOU ALL!!

Love,
everyone's favorite Hermana Aponte

P.S. In my interview with Pres. Morgan, he asked me in what temple I would like to get married. I told him the Orlando, FL temple because that's where I grew up. He was like "Oh, we love that temple! We went there for the sealing of an elder who served in our ward in California!" I asked where the elder was from, hoping it was PJ Brown! He was like, "Well, he's not actually from Orlando. You proably don't know him. He grew up in a small town called...St. Cloud." PSH. That's where things got exciting haha I was like "NO! I grew up in St. Cloud! What's this kids name?" BRAD HOWES!!!!!!!! That blew our minds and we were laughing and freaking out like kids for a couple of min. Then, he sent Brad a message on FB and he sent Pres. some nice words about me :) high-fives haha In the end we realized that OF COURSE the Aponte family was at the temple that day and the reception that night! So, Mama and Papa, you were in the sealing room with Pres. and Hermana Morgan all those years ago at the sealing of Brad and Courtney. Also, we realized that my 11 year-old self was waiting outside the temple and that we all partied at the same reception, even though I had no clue that my mission president was in the same room. I didn't even know I was going on a mission! Anyway, that's a cool story for this week :) BESOS.


Monday, June 15, 2015

I changed it to meekness...

So, I don't know if you guys heard about my study of humility, but I changed it to meekness...I'm not meek and I think I'm the furthest thing from a child. I've been thinking about it a lot and I am so grateful to have 8 younger siblings. What a blessing!! As I read the words of the Savior, urging us to become as children, I found myself extremely thankful for the example of my younger siblings. How would I even know what it means to be like a child without you guys?!
Things the Savior wants from Hermana Aponte:
- Service that generates from pure love. Sam, thanks for giving Brother Simpson (our blind home teacher) a flashlight to help him see. You are an example of pure love. 
- A burning desire to learn and change to become like Him. Thank you Abe, for always asking why or how or what. Sometimes it's crazy, but thanks for always looking to learn from the people around you.
- Showing love freely. Jacqueline, I don't know anyone that gives out love the way you do. You are always handing out compliments and trying to lift those around you. You have taught me that love isn't something I say, it's something I do.
- Quick to seek help and strength from others. Ella, thank you for always letting your parents and siblings help you to learn and grow. It takes real humility to be able to do that.
- More focused on people than problems. Jaz, you've always done this. You see everyone as they are and who they have the potential to become. Thanks for seeing me that way.
- See the good things, even when it's hard. Rick, you have been an example of this for me many times in my life. Keep doing it. A lot of times, when I had a rough day, you've helped me to smile and not take myself so seriously.
- Trust in Him completely. Jake, I don't know how to explain this one. Remember that time you sat me down to share a spiritual experience you had at EFY? You trust the Lord and that conversation gave me the strength to trust Him enough to be here.
- Trust those who want to help me. Liv, you're a little angel. Thanks for always letting us help you learn and grow. Thanks for never questioning why we ask you to do things or not do things. Thanks for trusting in our love for you.

Thank you for being examples to me. These things help me to be better everyday here in the mission. I hope to be like you guys when I grow up.

Love,
Omi

Monday, June 1, 2015

"We're in Chile."

My dear Aponte's

First things first: 
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ELLA!!!!!!!! I can't believe I'm not there for your baptism, but it's OK! This is the most important choice you've made so far. I am so proud of you and I hope you all send me 100 pictures!

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, MAMA AND PAPA!!!!!! How has it already been 27 years? I feel like it was just yesterday...wait, I wasn't even there for all of it. I can't ever express how thankful I am for this day that you guys hade the choice to start our family. It's one of the greatest blessings of my whole life and I know you guys feel the same. I love you both so much more than I can say. PICTURES. 

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, HEIDI AND JOHN!!!!!! Here's to the first year that you aren't watching all the children (I think). H, you did good. John, you did even better. I'd just like to take this opportunity to say that you are my favorite brother from another mother :) I love you guys!!!

Well, I hope with all that, that your week is nice and crazy. Here's the week of your dear ole' Hermana Aponte:

 
Carlos did not get baptized, but this Sunday is the day! He called us on Tuesday saying that jsut didn't feel ready, but that he wanted to do it the 7th of June, so here we go :) He's so good! He also started going to institute this week and he is loving that. In other news, the family is going through a really rough time, so many prayers for the Familia Espinoza-Pacheko, por favor. 

We found a new investigator, Ester. She was actually a reference of her husband (whom we met in the street). We had our first lesson with her this week and it was great. We talked a little about the Savior and His Atonement--how He can help us find peace. The Spirit was super strong and in the end, she said "I know that all the things you've said are true. I can feel it every time I look at you guys." After that, she accepted the invitation to be baptized and wer love her. 

Andrea (a less-active member we teach) went to church for the first time in 30 years this Sunday. That is a miracle if ever I've seen one! Berman (a Haitian guy we teach) also went, but his first statement after Sacrament Meeting was "There are no Haitians here." To which Hermana Jones responded: "We're in Chile." That cracked me up for some reason...also, her part of that conversation happened while Berman wasn't there. 

This week we had our last Zone Conference with President and Hermana Wright. What can I even say about that? Pa, if you could read everyone the part of my email to you about the humility thing (NOT FOR THE BLOG), por favor. I'm so insanely grateful for Presidente and Hermana Wright. It's one of the Lord's greatest tender mercies that I started my mission serving with them.

I remember my first interview with Presidente. He told me "Hermana Aponte, your reasons for serving are good, but you need to make your reason for serving your love for the Lord." I didn't even understand that at all in that moment. I understand it now and I am thankful.
This week, Hermana Wright talked about el dia de reposo...how do you say that in English?? Options in my head: Holy Day, the Sacrament Day, Day of Rest, the SABBATH DAY!!! It came to me. That was a serious struggle. 
 
Anyway, she talked about how there are many sacred things. There are sacred places, sacred moments, and sacred relationships. Like Captain Moroni, we do all we can to protect these sacred things. The Sabbath Day is a day sacred to the Lord. If He is our God, what do we do on that day to show Him that? This is a day that is sacred to Him and He asks us to keep it sacred, too. Not so much for Him, but for ourselves. We need that day set apart from the world. Read Elder Nelson's talk "The Sabbath is a Delight" and stop watching T.V. on Sunday's! Don't do it. 
 
As I learned all these things, I realized that my mission is sacred. This is a time that the Lord has given me, apart from the rest of my life. These are moments that I give to Him and in the end, the promise of keeping the Sabbath in D&C 59 (that we will be kept spotless from the world) is true for the mission, too. If I give Him this time and serve because of the love I have for Him, these days will serve me for the rest of my life.

My mission is something sacred for me. Santiago, Chile is a sacred place for me. It is where I have come to know my Savior, Jesus Christ. I know more than anything that my Redeemer lives. I don't know that I really understood that before the mission. This is the place where I have come to know Christ as my Redeemer. It's where I have had to be humble and really rely on Him every single day. I am so imperfect, but He is my Redeemer.  I know that my Redeemer lives and this is the greatest message I could ever share with anyone.

I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!!!! Sorry that this is so short!

MUCHOS BESOS AND 1000 hugs for Ella on her baptism/birth day, yeah?

Love,
Nomi

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How sad is that??

My dear sweet family,
 I already feel bad because I just know that this email will not be all you hope and dream it is. Mostly because I can't type as fast because my fingers are practically frozen. Ma and Pa, don't cry about that because I'm buying gloves today! All is well!

Can someone please ask brother Clary where he served? I just need to know. Also, Tiffany Clark, if anyone gets the chance. 

Bueno, Carlos hijo is getting baptized this week and he's just super excited! He also started going to institute this week and that just makes our hearts super happy. This family. I just can't even explain the love.

We met this lady, Fransisca, this week. We contacted her by knocking on her door, which we don't actually do in this mission, so that was crazy. Really, we just needed her to open the gate for us, but we got to chatting and it turns out that she has friends who are members! She let us come in and we got to know her a little better. She's Catholic and has 2 kids. She knows a bit about the church and said that basically the only difference is that we believe our families will be together forever. She told us that they don't believe in life after death and my heart broke in pieces. How sad is that?? She believes in God and that He is our Father, yet He has no plan for us. There is really no purpose to having a family, according to that belief. But, we had a SUPER GREAT lesson with her about eternal families and the plan of salvation and in the end, she was like "I really hope this is true." And she said she would pray and ask if it is and we're going back!


This week we have focused so much on sharing with people that God is our loving Heavenly Father. That really makes all the difference in my life. I intensely studied Moses 1:39 this week and I encourage you all to do the same! Understanding the purpose of our Heavenly Father is what gives me purpose and hope in this life. He is our FATHER!!!! What does that even mean?? It means that He LOVES us and that He has a perfect plan for our happiness.

This week I read a talk called "From the Beginning" by Elder Maxwell. In it, he quotes from something called "A Godless Universe" or something like that. I just read that title and I've never been so traumatized in my whole life! I cried from the agony haha I read that and it was the weirdest feeling...my spirit cried out against that statement. I really don't know how else to describe it, so I'm sorry if that sounds super dramatic. Así fue. Any doubt my little mind could have was shut down my spirit child of God testifying of who I am and who He is. Romans 18:16-17...the Spirit testifies of who we are. Knowing that I am a child of God and understanding what that means has changed me. It has changed how I see the world and everyone around me. 


Ice cream date with President and Hermana Wright
after a training for Hermana Leaders :)
LOVE THESE GUYS with all my heart!
My patriarchal blessing says that I will have a prfound understanding of the plan of happiness that Heavenly Father has for us and I am seeing that more and more on my mission. I don't know how much I understand, but I do know that it's true. I know that I am a daughter of God and so are you all. It makes all the difference. Please take some time to ponder what that means! It means He is fighting for you all the time. It means EVERYTHING He does is for us. He has no other hobbies or things to worry about---it's ALL ABOUT US. He loves us and He is always waiting to help us. We need to seek Him. I'm so grateful for that knowledge that I've had my whole life: I am a child of God. Don't doubt His love and don't doubt His mercy. He did not send us here and say "Good luck!" His very purpose is helping us succeed. I know that is true.

We met this kid, (name removed) this week. His dad is an alcoholic guy who contacted us in the street and asked us to visit his 13-year-old son, so we did. This poor kid suffers a lot because of the decisions of the people around him. He's such a good kid, though. He asked us: "Do I have a destiny or do I choose it?" We told him that he's a child of God, so he does have a beautiful destiny, but he has to choose it. God lets us choose to be happy. What an incredible gesture of love. 


Zona de Alicahue, but this picture is old...our Zone has changed!
I just had to look down to see if my fingers are still there, so I think that's a sign that it's time to peace out! I'm sorry it's short and I'm sorry if it's lame, but that's all Hermana Aponster's got for this week! I LOVE YOU GUYS!!!!! 

I love you guys!

Love,
Nahio