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

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