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!!!

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.

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 :)
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.