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