Monday, January 26, 2015

Man oh man, what a week!

Holita,
Man oh man, what a week. I am completely exhausted and completely happy! There are always miracles to see on the mission, but this week it was beautiful. The progress of the people we're teaching (investigators, less-active members, and recent converts) is incredible! The crazy thing is, when I see all that progress and I know that it's the Lord's work. 
I think I told you guys last week, but Alicia (the mom of the 4 crazy kids, whom I love) is getting baptized this Sunday! Miracle numero 1: We went to visit her and she told us that her 8 year old daughter, Martina, also wants to get baptized. This wasn't a miracle to me at first...actually it kind of stressed me out! It worries me to baptize a little girl when both of her parents aren't getting baptized, but then I remembered how President Wright is always telling us that we need to have the faith to baptize. We can't have these people waiting forever when they have a desire and a repentant heart! So, Alicia and Martina are getting baptized this Sunday :) They couldn't be more excited! Plenty of pictures of that next week!

We visited a less-active woman, named Hermana Carmen on Saturday. We've actually been visiting her since I got to Macul, but she hasn't ever come back to church...her husband passed away, so it's hard for her to go. Anyway, we visited her and taught her about the enabling power of the Atonement and how we can access that power by partaking of the Sacrament. It was a pretty normal lesson, but in the end she was like "I have two things I need to do: start going to church and be sealed to my husband! He's waiting for me." She went to church the next day for the first time in 2 years :) MIRACLE.

I've told you guys about the Cabrera Family, who are less-active and have 3 kids. We have had some awesome lessons with them where the Spirit is felt super strongly, but they have never made it back to church! We didn't get a chance to visit them this week, but we called them Saturday night to invite them to church. They said they would go, but we just didn't take it too seriously because they have said that before. "Oh ye of little faith" is one of the first things that went through my mind when I saw them sitting there in sacrament meeting. It was like a small slap in the face, but also one of the happiest moments of my mission. It's hard to explain that kind of joy :)

We have been visiting Camila (the mom of Antonella, the super catholic 9 year old) all of my mission. She can never go to church because she's working all the time, but she has this beautiful testimony! She knows the church is true and she loves the gospel, but she can't receive all the blessings if she's not going to church! We really didn't push it too much because the woman's got to work. She called us at 7:30 sunday morning asking what time church starts and she went!!! It turn out she had a really hard week and just finally reached a point where she needed that strength and blessing. So, she went to church. She skipped work and went to church and said "My boss is super angry and she's going to fire me, but I don't care. I'm happy because I know I'm where I need to be." FAITH. 

I know this is all short, but we only have an hour today! I just wanted to share these stories because I feel so blessed to know these people. They are examples of faith to me and I can't express the joy that comes from being able to watch them change and enjoy the blessings of the gospel. Often we will have to change in order to live the gospel. A lot of times we will have to sacrifice things in order to receive the many blessings that Heavenly Father has for us. They beautiful thing is when giving up those things is no longer a sacrifice. The beautiful thing is when we love the Lord so much, that we sacrifice, but we don't even realize it. We aren't counting the cost, just the blessings. If you ask me, that's the easier, happier way to live. Count the blessings, not the cost, because there are always so many more blessings than we could ever "give" the Lord.

This week, the zone leaders called us after our district leader gave them a report of our week (they do that every week). They were SUPER happy and excited and asking what we're doing that we're having so much success. They thanked us 100 times for the work that we're doing and asked us again what we're doing to see what we saw this week. Honestly, you all know that every week is not like that. I'm trying hard to give the Lord everything I have to offer. Even though it's too insignificant to really be worth anything, He makes it so much more. When the zone leaders asked what we're doing, I didn't have anything to say. In that moment I knew that it's not us. This work has very little to do with us. This is the Lord's work and He does it all. He let's the Spirit work within the hearts of these people, so that they can change and be happy. We are the lucky one's that get to watch the change and be happy with the people. I have already been SO BLESSED in these 5 months on the mission. The happiness is something I can't even explain! I could never give the Lord or these people in 18 months what they have given me in this short time. I am blessed :)

I'm sorry that I couldn't write you all individually, but I LOVE YOU!!! We only had a little bit of time.
Mama, your story of how the missionaries passed by when you were younger brought me to tears. Heavenly Father is so good :) 
Pa, your entire email is in spanish, so I'll have to read that when I get home haha I know you said something in there that will change my life! 
Jaz, I'm so proud of you and the progress you're making! Keep writing me letters! I love getting your letters :)
Rick, THANK YOU FOR EMAILING ME! I emailed you back.
Jake, you still remember who I am?! I emailed you back.
Jack and Abe: Where the heck are your emails?!
Ella, Sam, Liv: Why ddin't you guys email me!? I love you!!! Be good and be happy :)

I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!!!!!

Love the best,
Hermana Nomi Aponte

Monday, January 19, 2015

I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!

Dear, sweet Aponte's
Things are crazy at home! I'm happy to hear that everyone is so busy doing the right things. I don't think I could ever say through an email how proud I am to have been blessed with this family! You guys know how much I love you all. I miss you guys, but you will all be happy to hear that the time is going by too fast! I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY! I know I have already said it 100 times, but this is the best decision I have ever made. I still feel like I'm new to the mission, but everyone says that feeling doesn't really go away because the time is so short. Sometimes I feel like 18 months is not long enough haha don't worry, they don't let us extend anymore!

Mama and Papa, CONGRATS on your calls to serve, otra vez!!! The third time's a charm ;) I hope I'm lucky enough to serve at least 3 missions in my lifetime!! You guys will do great, so don't be nervous haha The work you guys did in Guatemala and all over Central America was beautiful and it blessed the lives of thousands of people. What a blessing to be asked to bring those blessings to the people of our home region! Next time, put in a request for Chile!

My precious children! Oh, how I miss your little faces and hugs! All of you!! I'm so happy to hear about the progress everyone is making! You guys are so blessed! Ella, I can't believe you're getting baptized this year!!! I'm so proud :) Sam and Liv, you two are adorable and I miss you! Send me letters in the mail, ya hear? Jac and Abe, I can't beleive how fast you two are growing. It kind of breaks my heart a little, but I'm proud of you guys :) Jac, you'll be the oldest girl in the house soon! You'll be great :) Abe, you have to help her out! I'm thinking you guys should bring back the baby team! Or just change it to the big-kid team like Jo, Jaz, and I did when we were little haha We were super creative with that name. Rick, you have to email me and tell me all about school and swimming! Are you still heading off to the Olympics? I call a ticket because I will be back by then. Jacob, I hear that you're a piano prodigy, so you're already cooler than I could ever hope to be! Tell me about that! Jaz, BYUI doesn't even know what's coming! You will do great! Attending that university is one of the best decisions I've ever made. It's a blessing, so don't waste it :) You'll be awesome! I don't even know if Jamie, Jo, and Heidi read these things, but I MISS YOU GUYS!!! Feel free to send me a letter, at least every 3 months :)

Soooooo, THIS WEEK:
I forgot to write interesting things down, so I guess we're going back to my lame emails. 

We had divisions with our new hermana leader, Hermana Escobar. She's from GUATEMALA, so we were automatically best friends! She wasn't there when you guys were serving there, but she's from Quetzaltenago....I KNOW that's not how you spell it, but that's how it sounds! Don't judge me. We were working in the delightful sector of Ñuñoa, where everyone lives in gaurded apartment complexes, so they spend a lot of time in the street. Those hermanas work super hard! I love divisions in Ñuñoa :) Even if we spend 8 hours in the streets when it's 95 degrees out. I'm super tan and officially look like an Aponte. Hermana Cannon (from my district in the MTC) is also serving in Ñuñoa, so I got see her! Also, I met Hermana Young, who is new. She is from Texas and we hit it off pretty well because her wall is covered in Lord of the Rings quotes. I read the words of Sam and I'm telling you, I felt the Spirit.

I got a package from the stake youth, so muchas gracias por eso! Those kids are the best! Also, I missed all the American candy, so thanks for that! They know how to treat missionaries :) The Kelly Family sent me their Christmas card and that just made my whole week!! Someone thank them for me! I love those guys. I got letters from a couple of other people, too, so you guys can jsut sleep peacfully knowing that you aren't the only one's who think of me. It's kind of awesome! 

Alicia is still charging toward her baptismal date on the 1st! That lady is great! She has the support of her family, so that's awesome and she's still super excited. 
Denis and Teresa decided that they will get married so that Teresa can be baptized! It took them a while to make that decision, but they want to keep the commandments! Denis said to us " It's not even because I know I HAVE to do it. I WANT to do it because I want to be good with God." I thought that was beautiful. That's one thing I cherish about the mission. It has taught me to be obedient because of my love for the Lord. It's so much easier to be happy and serve and feel the Spirit when we do things out of our love for the Savior. That loves overcomes every obstacle. 
Catherine went to church on Sunday and I believe she will be getting baptized pretty soon! We'll probably wait until her son, Lukas, gets back from scout camp (in 2 weeks), but they still have super strong desires to take that step. I love those two! They talked a lot about service in Church on Sunday--about how we can show our gratitude to the Lord by serving others. Catherine is always saying how she wants to be baptized to show the gratitude to the Lord. She turned to me and was like "I think I just found another way to give thanks! Who can I serve?!" Why don't we all have that attitude? She is now picking up our other investigators on Sundays! Can we all just think about that for a second? our investigator is picking up other investigators for church. It's awesome!!!

Anyway, this email is a bit short, but I want to email a couple fo you individually! Here's a little spiritual thought:
I have been studying Christ-like attributes this week. As members of His church, we should always be striving to develop the qualities that Christ has. I studied a lot about charity because I have never fully understood it. We think of charity and a lot of the time we think of service. But it's so much more than that! The scriptures say that charity is "the pure love of Christ." After stuyding this week, I understand that it is the love the God has for His children--a love that is unconditional. That is part of charity! We need to strive to love others unconditionally, even when they mess up over and over again. Heavenly Father is SO GOOD and SO LOVING that he keeps loving, blessing, and helping us, even though we are so insanely full of weaknesses. My invitation to you all is that you can work on developing that kind of unconditional love for each other and for everyone! If you can't love someone like that in the beginning, be charitable towards them and show your love because you love the Savior. He will make us all so much more than we can ever be alone. 

I LOVE YOU GUYS SO MUCH!!!!! 

Love you sister,
Sister Nomi Aponte

P.S.
I forgot to mention that we had interviews with President Wright and that was beautiful. Everyone just walks out of those feeling like spiritual giants. It's like, I could walk on water after those things! In other news, I finished the stuff for my visa and our new mission president (who comes in June) is named Marty Morgan, from California :) Pray for President Morgan and his family!

P.S.S.
ALL MAIL NEEDS TO BE SENT HERE, or I will never get it. That's a traumatizing thought! Please send the mail here:

Hermana Nahiomi Aponte
Chile Santiago Este
Cristóbal Colon 6824
Las Condes
Santiago Región Metropolitano
Chile