Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ya Vine!!!!

Well loyal fans, it is my great displeasure to inform you all that this will be my last blog post, not because I don't love you all but because I'm not a missionary anymore and therefore won't have a whole lot to say about my life as a missionary.  It's been the most amazing adventure of my life so far, filled with laughter, tears, ups and downs, highs and lows and a lot of rice.  But I can definitely say that I am not the same person that I was when I left.  I personally feel that I'm a better person and I hope everyone else who encounters themself with me after the mission feels that way too.  I have learned so much about the gospel, the Plan of Salvation, the importance of obedience to the commandments and to the promptings of the Spirit, and most importantly, about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  And perhaps even more importantly than that, I have learned so much about myself.  If the choice between death and forgetting everything that happened during my mission was given to me, I would pick death, hands down.

I won't bore you all with the details of my flight home.  The important thing is that after riding in 3 airplanes, hanging out in airports all day and a almost-missing-my-connecting-flight scare, I finally arrived safe and sound in the Fort Wayne airport, amidst a thunder and lightning storm.  I saw my family waiting on the other side of the door and ran straight to them, stopping only when I ran into my Dad.  My first words??  "I want to go baaaaaack!!"  The next day I went to talk to President Shumard, who informed me that the Lord was very pleased with my work, and was saying to me "well done, good and faithful servant."  He then said the dreaded words, please take off your nametag.  I won't lie and say that it wasn't difficult, but I managed to do it and then went home, not a missionary but just a regular person.  Adapting hasn't been as difficult as I thought it would be, even though I haven't been able to watch anything more hardcore than a Disney movie yet (and I can't even get through those without tears), and I accidentally said "hola" to someone in the grocery store the day after I got back.  I miss a lot of things about Ecuador-the people, the work, the weather, the culture, even the rice sometimes!!!  But although I miss those things, I know that my time there is over, and that the missionaries who are there now will do an amazing job of continuing to bring people to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

What am I going to do now??  That is a great question, one that I would love to know the answer to as well.  Obviously getting a job is in there somewhere, along with moving out of Indiana, buying a car and starting my own life.  Right now I'm just kind of getting used to being in the United States again, because wow, you have no idea how big the culture shock is and when it will hit you.  But I would like to thank you all for keeping track of me over the past 18 months.  I hope reading my blog was uplifting and edifying and help all of your testimonies grow, but what I really hope is that it help young men and women who are thinking about missions actually make the choice to go.  To you all I say-there is absolutely nothing better that you will do in your whole life, and not just for the people you serve but for yourself and your family.  Go.  It's the most incredible experience you'll ever have.

I leave you all with my testimony-yo se que esta es la iglesia verdadera de Jesuscristo.  Se que El vive y nos ama, y que Su Expiacion es real y la unica esperanza que tenemos para regresar a la presencia de nuestro Padre Celestial.  Se que Jose Smith fue un profeta de Dios.  Se que el Libro de Mormon es verdadero.  Se que el Espiritu Santo nos guia en cada aspecto de nuestras vidas si lo dejamos.  Se que las familias son eternas.

"And they arose from the earth, and he said unto them: Blessed are ye because of your faith.  And now behold, my joy is full."  3 Nephi 17:20 (what Jesus says to the Nephites)

I love you all.  Keep the faith.


Ellen (not Hermana Chamberlain anymore :(

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Welcome Home!

Ellen nearly missed her connection in Dallas and it looked like she would be spending the night there, but we prayed for a miracle and got one.  After leaving Ecuador at 8 am Friday, she finally arrived home Saturday morning at 12:05.  The first words out of her mouth after, "Hello," were, "I want to go back!" 

Yesterday she went grocery shopping with her mom.  In Ecuador it is common practice to say "Hola," to everyone as you pass them.  Forgetting where she was she said "hola" to a man as she passed him in the grocery aisle.  He looked at her rather strangely.  The rest of us laughed.

Stay tuned for one last blog post from Ellen and hopefully more pictures of her mission.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Surprise! I'm Coming Home 4 Days Earlier!

Title-Surprise!!! I'm coming home early!!!!!


I cannot believe that this is the last email I will write home from the mission. It seems like yesterday I was writing about my MTC experience and now I'm done already??? The weird thing is that of the 4 sisters that were in my MTC district, I'm probably the last one home. Crazy stuff. Anyway, I'm glad you guys found out about the travel plans. Here's how I found out.....

Earlier this week I called Elder Vuinovic (sidenote: I probably have as much trouble as the natives do with that name) to tell him that you guys hadn't gotten the travel plans and that my mother was threatening to call Salt Lake. He replied that he had sent them and didn't know why they hadn't come yet but would send them again. Two days later I remembered that you guys had changed your email address forever ago and I forgot to tell the office about it, which is probably why you never got the travel plans. Me=dumb. So I called Elder Vuinovic back to tell him that I thought I knew the reason why my plans never got to my family and he informed that it was good to know but due to some changes in President's schedule, I was now going home on the 15th of April instead of the 19th.

Needless to say I was more than a little shocked, but I quickly rearranged all the things I had to do before leaving so that I could get them all done before Friday. The only thing I know is that Wednesday night I have to go to Guayaquil. I don't know if HNA Cochran will come with me, when my interview is, if I'll be able to see my converts or even what time I'm getting on the airplane or what time I'll get to Fort Wayne. If you guys know maybe you could shoot me the info????

Anyway, enough about that. On to more important things. This weekend Lady was FINALLY baptized!!!!! It took a lot of work, trials, frustration and persistence, but she finally made the decision, got in the (freezing) water and made a covenant with her Heavenly Father. Like all other baptisms that I've had, something went very wrong-this time with the font. The elders told us that they would fill it up for us, so at around 2 we went over to see if they had done it yet. We found Elder Johnson and Elder Wilson standing next to an empty font. We said, hey you should fill that up right now, to which they replied, oh no, we don't need to yet, we're gonna go to our appointment and do it when we come back. Ignoring our repeated requests to fill it up right then, they left, promising to return and fill up the font. At around 4:30, we returned to find a STILL empty font. Not good when your font takes forever to fill up. With the help of President Ruiz, we started it up and then encountered another problem-the water was freezing cold, and the gas had run out. Not to be deterred, we called the gas company to have them deliver a tank. By this time the elders had arrived and been severely chastised for not listening to us and filling up the font when they should have. After hanging out there watching the font fill for awhile, we found another problem-it was filling up way too slowly and there was no way that there would be enough water for the 7:30 baptism. So, finding 3 empty water jugs in the kitchen, we started rockin it old school and filling up the font from the faucets outside. Did I mention that by this time it was pouring down rain?? By the time we were done we looked like we had just been baptized ourselves. We ran to get Lady, got her changed into her white dress, and she was baptized. And of course, just like all the other baptisms that I've had, it was beautiful. Lady looked so pretty, and despite the fact that the water was really cold (the gas tank came but the heater was broken) she looked thrilled when she came out of the water. She even bore her testimony at the end, something that she hadn't wanted to do at all. And the next day she was confirmed. It was a beautiful weekend.

So that was the highlight of my week. The rest of the week was kind of lame. Our teaching pool has gone down big time and we desperately need to find new people who are prepared to receive the gospel. Plus we don't know what's gonna go down in changes-if HNA Cochran will stay or go. I want HNA Cochran to stay sooooo bad-she knows the people and will do miracles with them. So that can be your prayer project for this week!!!

Other week highlights: Putting pop rocks into sleeping Elder Johnson's wide open mouth. Saving HNA Cochran from gross food. Catching people in lies (they're not here . . . . yes they are, please don't insult our intelligence.) Choking down "dulce de manjar". Being forced to eat another serving. Wanting to throw up afterwards. Watching Elder Saban accidentally pat my companion on the back while shaking her hand. Laughing hysterically while watching his face turn bright red as he realized what he just did. Getting ripped off by a taxi driver and being too shocked by the outrageous price he asked for to say anything about it. Finding out secrets. Saying goodbye to everyone (actually that was kind of a lowlight-sadface.) Laughing at HNA Cochran's bad moods. Realizing that this time next week I will be in my house. Having a dream that we were all back in high school, Eucadorian style (I was wearing a uniform-just so you all know, I look good in plaid.) Loving life. Being a missionary!!!!

This time has been amazing and has ended all too soon. It's been the greatest adventure of my entire life so far......but I know that there's an even bigger one waiting for me......


Monday, April 4, 2011

Inside The Convent


Guess where I am??? In Guayaquil!!! Again!!!! This is the fourth time that I've made this trip and I'm glad that the 5th time will be the last. It's hot, my face is greasy and I'm ready to go back to Loja for the last two weeks of the mission, WHAT??? Two weeks?? That can't be right. I'm sure I have at least another year left . . . . . .

So a lot of people have asked me if I'm trunky and the answer is . . . . . . yes!!! Just a little bit!!! I'm excited to see my family and friends again, eat at IHOP, Cebollas, Jimmy Johns and Sonic again, drive cars, listen to music, and do worldly stuff. But at the same time, I'm dying a little on the inside, because there are sooooo many people here that I love so much that I won't be able to see for a long time. Plus the mission has been incredible-seriously the best thing I've ever done in my whole life. I can't believe that it went so fast and even though I'm excited to be home and I really feel that it's my time to go, I'll probably cry all the way home and just so you all know, those first few weeks/months I'll probably be such a weirdo that you'll all be like, dude, what is wrong with you?? Just be patient with me and eventually I'll remember how to be a normal person again.

Anyway, this week was MUCH better than last week, so everyone can breathe a sigh of relief. We had a ton of way cool experiences and hopefully I have time to share them all. We'll start with Sunday night of last week, when Hermana Cochran and I were walking down the street and randomly saw a group of nuns walking in the opposite direction. Just so everyone knows, the nuns here are full habited, convent, sound of music mother superior type nuns and sometimes they look a little scary but ever since I got to Loja and saw them I have been dying to talk to one. We stood in the street staring and wavering and finally took off running after them yelling SISTERS!!! SISTERS!!!! Two of them stopped right outside the convent door and I asked them if they collected clothes for people who needed them, and they replied that they did. I explained that I had been looking for a place to leave my missionary clothes when I went home and that I wanted to donate them to the convent. They cheerfully replied that they would be happy to take them and asked us to come back the next day to drop them off. We left absolutely thrilled because A:we talked to some nuns and B: we were going to talk to them again the next day!!!

The next day we went back to the convent with a bag of my clothes (including the famous Jody dress......haha) and rang the doorbell (yeah, there was a doorbell). A lady came to the door and we asked to talk to Sister Rosalinda. She left and never came back. We stood there for probably about 10 minutes wondering if we should ring again and finally did. After about 2 more minutes Sister Rosalinda herself came out apologizing profusely for making us wait so long and then said the most beautiful word in the missionary Spanish vocabulary: Pasen!!! (come in!!!) What?? Were we really going to get to see the inside of a convent??? Heck yes we were!!! We sat down and had the coolest conversation ever. She asked us where we were from, what we do, how we like Ecuador and Loja, why we wear skirts all the time, and we asked her how she decided to be a nun, what she did, and all kinds of things. We found out that a lot of the nuns have college degrees and that the Catholic church actually gives them scholarships to study in universities. She then said something very profound that I will never forget as long as I live: "You always have to live in the present. The past is already over, and no one knows what will happen in the future but if you live in the present, the past doesn't matter and everything will work out in the future." I thought that was so deep that I even told her, I'm going to remember that!!! And she's right. Living in the present is the only way to go.

So that was way cool. And that was just Monday!!! This week we also went back to Lady to ask her for the billionth time if she would be baptized. HNA Cochran asked her and she was like, ohhhh I dunno, this and that. HNA Cochran was like, okay fine, but a thought came into my head-keep trying and do not leave this house until she has a baptismal date. So we started Round Infinity of the fight and after much tribulation and reminding her of answers that she's already received to prayers, she agreed to be baptized this Saturday. PRAY FOR HER PLEASE!!!!!

Cool experience from last Saturday too. We were knocking on a door and while we waited for the lady who answered to look for the lady we were looking for, a man walked up to us and asked, are you missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?? We replied that we were and he said, I want to learn more about your church!!! We joyfully asked him when we could come visit him and he said, just one question: do you guys go to church down here in centro or up behind Supermaxi?? We said that we went in centro and asked him where he lived, to which he replied, behind supermaxi. Leaps of joy quickly turned into stares of disbelief-he lived in the ZONE LEADER'S sector. WHYYYYYY??? We took down his information and gave him a Book of Mormon and a pamphlet about the Restoration. As we were explaining that Jesus Christ had established a church and it was lost in an apostacy, he interrupted and said, this is interesting. This is what I want to know about!!!! We were just like . . . . . WHY DO YOU NOT LIVE IN OUR SECTOR, IT'S SO UNFAAAIIIIIIRRRR!!!!! We gave the reference the the zone leaders and this past Sunday we saw him (his name is Fernando) in conference. We went up to say hi to him and asked if he remembered us. His reply?? Of course!!!! Because of you, I'm here!!!! You cannot even imagine how awesome we felt in this moment!!!!

So that was cool. But what happened on Saturday night was probably one of the coolest things I've ever experienced not just in the mission but in my whole life. So lately HNA Cochran's been telling me stories about her teachers in the MTC who saw angels or people she knew on the mission that had angels guide them and I've been feeling sad like, hey that's never happened to me!!! This Saturday it did. Listen good:

So we were walking to an appointment that we were late to, and a group of three kids ran up to us and asked if they could interview us for school. They asked if we were in a hurry and although we were, the first word that came out of my mouth was, No!! We're not!! Then I checked myself and was like, yes we are, we're late to an appointment!!! So we took down their number and kept on going to the appointment. As we were walking, I thought, you know, I bet this lady's not going to be there, we should have stayed and talked to those kids. Later on my companion, who's usually the stickler for time (and I love her for it) told me that she had felt the same thing. But we kept on going.

We got to the lady's street, turned and kept walking. It was nighttime and the street wasn't lit very well. All of a sudden we saw an older man in front of us. As we passed him I said Buenas Noches!!! like we always do. He replied, Buenas Noches, and his next words sent chills down my spine:

"There is a robber behind you. Keep walking and don't look back. I will be behind you just in case."

I immediately sped up and told HNA Cochran to walk faster and not look behind her. We booked it to the lady's house, rang the doorbell and sure enough, she wasn't there. Great. By this time the older man had caught up to us and said that the robber had gone the other direction and we were safe, and to take a taxi home. I asked him how he knew that the guy was a robber and he just said by his face and the way he was acting, but he said, I was behind you the whole time just in case. We thanked him, he said it was no problem and walked away into the night.

I don't know if he actually was an angel. But I really think that he was. But whether he was or not, I know without doubt that Heavenly Father protects His chosen servants, even when we don't listen to the first promptings that we receive.

I saw an angel. I'm sure of it.

So that was pretty deep. How about some week highlights?? To start off: Hearing HNA Cochran ask Elder Saban if he was a ninja (he said no and probably thinks were crazy now but whatever.) Hearing a lot of talks about families and marriage in conference (guess I know what I need to do when I get home!!) Waking up HNA Cochran during the sessions. Finding out yesterday at 5 that we had to be on the bus to Guayaquil at 10. Meeting Beatriz, Adrian and Domenica, really awesome investigators from the Loja branch. Not sleeping on the bus. Meeting all the new elders and sisters. Hearing from the sisters in Huancavilca that everyone remembers me and that the Pino Family was SEALED!!!!!!! Hearing from the Bolivar elders (they took the sisters out last change) that everyone remembers me and that the Criollo family is doing so good and is in temple prep classes to be SEALED TOO!!!!!! (Mom and Dad: please please please please can we come back for that?????) Being interviewed in broken English by 3 high school kids. Taking pictures with them. Finding an old investigator and putting a baptismal date on her. Being in the best zone in the whole mission. Easter candy in packages. White chocolate covered pretzels. Not knowing anything about my flight plans. Baking brownies in a crock pot. Loving life. Being a missionary!!!!!!

I love you all and will see you soon!!!!!


Hermana Chamberlain

Monday, March 28, 2011

Put Your Trust in God and Be Lifted Up At the Last Day


So remember how last week was really cool??? This week was definitely not a repeat. In fact it was one of the most difficult weeks of my mission. A lot of really bad things happened and it was really hard emotionally and spiritually for both of us. However, I am grateful to my companion for reminding me that although a lot of not so awesome things happened, a lot of good things happened too, so instead of depressing you all with an account of all the horrible things we had to go through this week, I'll focus on the good ones.

First off, we found Mari Carmen again after looking for her for a couple weeks. Turns out she had been sick and wasn't coming into work, but one day we walked down there and there she was, grilling her chicken wings like she had never left. We taught her about the gospel of Jesus Christ and asked her to be baptized on the 23rd of April. She looked at me and said, but that's after you leave Hermana!!! I looked at her and said, it's okay Mari Carmen, the only important thing to me is that you be baptized and receive blessings. She accepted the date, and although she couldn't come to church this week because she had to go to the doctor in Cuenca, we are gonna get her there if it's the last thing I do!!!

This is something that I realized-I'm way too selfish. I was dying to have a baptism before I left, just to finish off strong (or mejor dicho, strong in my own way of thinking, and maybe not the Lord's) so I've been freaking out because people don't progress as fast as I want them to. This week I realized that it didn't matter when they got baptized-just that they did. Even if they send me a letter the week after I get home telling me that they got baptized, I will be thrilled. You want to know how I figured this out?? Let me share with you.

So we've been teaching Isabel, Diego's girlfriend from Germany. We had invited her to be baptized and she accepted but afterwards felt like it was too early for her still. When she told us this, I felt completely calm and was totally okay with it. That was a couple of weeks ago. This week (today actually) she went back to Germany to finish her thesis. On Saturday we were trying to find someone to go to the elders' baptism with us and to come with us on an appointment afterwards. We had called everyone we could think of and no one could come. We were sitting there trying to figure out what to do and all of a sudden HNA Cochran said, what about Isabel?? Do you think she could come with us?? I called her and she said she would love to come. So we brought her to the baptism with us and she LOVED it. It was the first time she had ever seen a baptism and she said it filled her with an inner peace. Then she came to an appointment with us and shared her testimony of the Book of Mormon and it was as good as any member could have done and probably better. She said, I haven't been baptized yet but I think someday I will be. Hearing that made me so happy that I can't even describe the feeling. We exchanged information, took pictures together on Sunday and now she's on her way back to Munich. I'm pretty sure that we will be lifelong friends, and I am positive that she will be baptized, if not soon, then someday.

And that's when I realized that even though maybe it seems like I haven't had much success here in Loja, in the Lord's eyes I've done something incredible. Or better said, He's done something incredible through me. Who cares if I won't be able to see her baptism-I was able to help her find the truth and that's what matters the most.

So this keyboard is horrible and is making me want to shoot myself in the head, so I'll skip to some week highlights: Seeing a kid poop in the middle of the sidewalk. (Seriously, it really happened.) Getting my eyebrows waxed (yep, still vain after a year and a half on the mission.) Eating dinner with Alexis and Paula and being some of the first to hear their good news (they're having a baby!!! YAAAAAAY!!!!) Getting rained on. Having a random guy take a picture of me on his cell phone in the street. Answering questions about the Book of Mormon from a very Catholic man named Carlos, who then proceeded to tell us that he was going to continue reading. Finding a less active lady named Jackie and her not baptized yet son, Jose Pablo. Singing I Feel My Savior's Love with Elder Johnson in the zone leader's baptism. Feeling the Spirit hugely strong there (right after something horrible had happened.) Seeing a guy in full out gangster gear (baggy jeans and t-shirt, chains, nikes, only missing diamond earrings and a doo-rag) get up and give an awesome talk about faith and repentance and talk about how much his baptism meant to him. Swapping life stories with my companion. Hearing her ask Elder Saban, our very quiet and shy zone leader, if he was a breakdancer before the mission (he said he wasn't but I think he's lying.) Hearing her plans to ask him this week if he was a ninja. Talking to some NUNS!!!!! Going just inside the door of a Catholic cathedral to see a wedding. Knowing that Heavenly Father loves me despite everything. Having an awesome companion and awesome mission leaders. Loving life. Being a missionary!!!

One more cool experience. Yesterday I was sitting in church with my Book of Mormon open to Alma chapter 35. All of a sudden a gust of wind came through the door and blew the page over to chapter 36. I looked down and the first scripture I saw was this one: I know that whosoever putteth their trust in God shall be supported in all their trials and afflictions and shall be lifted up at the last day (paraphrased a little, don't remember exactly what it says and I don't have my scriptures with me.) But in that moment I knew that Heavenly Father was very aware of my situation and would help me to get through it. I know that He hears and answers our prayers and that He is always with us.

Les quiero mucho y sigan adelante siempre. Nos vemos pronto . . . .

Hermana Chamberlain

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Book of Ellen


So I thought it would be fun this week to write my email scripture style. Given that I read the scriptures every single day, I'm starting to think in scripture language. So-here we go, Chapter 3 of the book of Last Change of Hermana Chamberlain in the Book of Mission Guayaquil South:

And it came to pass that after Hermana Chamberlain and Hermana Cochran made merry with their zone at the castle, they began to work again in their sector. And behold, they began to search diligently, praying to
the Lord that he would bless them with prepared people who were looking for the truth. And it came to pass that the Lord did hear their prayers, for on the night of Monday in the 19th hour, they found a family whose name was Romero. And behold, it was a large family, with a mother and father who had been married for twenty years, and had seven children. And they did listen to the message of the restored gospel intently and with interest, and made it known unto the sisters that they wished them to come back on Wednesday. And it came to pass that Hermana Chamberlain and Hermana Cochran went out with joy in their hearts.

On this same day the sisters went to visit Giovanni, who had decided to be baptized on the 26th of the month of March. But behold, it came to pass that Giovanni was feeling somewhat wary of his decision, and thought that he needed some more time to prepare. And behold, Hermana Chamberlain and Hermana Cochran did exhort him to have more faith, to search the scriptures and pray, that he may gain a testimony of the truth of the gospel and have desires to be baptized in the true church of Jesus Christ. The Spirit did testify strongly and Giovanni felt peace and tranquility in his heart. And Hermana Chamberlain and Hermana Cochran went out again with joy in their hearts.

And behold, on Tuesday Hermana Chamberlain and Hermana Cochran labored diligently to find the people who were perishing in unbelief. And it came to pass that their efforts were rewarded with many new investigators, lessons and feelings of gladness in their hearts for doing their work with all their hearts, mights, minds and strengths.

And it came to pass that Wednesday was a day that tried their patience, for behold, many people were not in their homes when they came to call, nevertheless, they did find a woman named Sandra, who at one time had heard the message of truth but was not baptized. And it came to pass that she accepted the ancient record, the Book of Mormon, and when the missionaries returned to her home, she had received an answer and knew that it was true.

And the sisters did also visit Giovanni again and he said unto them, behold, I do not believe that I should be baptized on the 26th of March, for behold, I have spoken with God, and he saith unto me that I must wait and prepare myself more. And it came to pass that Hermana Chamberlain and Hermana Cochran were glad that Giovanni desired to have a strong testimony before his baptism, but were saddened to hear that he would not be able to accompany them to church that Sunday, for he would be traveling to the faraway land of Cuenca with his father.

And it came to pass that the sisters also returned to the home of the Romero family on the night of Wednesday. And behold, they found another member of the family that they had not yet shared the gospel
with the father Eduardo. And it came to pass that Eduardo felt the truth of the message through the Spirit, and desired to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it is true. And behold, Hermana Chamberlain did ask Eduardo if he believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and Eduardo did respond, yes, because thou hast said it. And he did ask many other questions unto the sisters, about baptism and the Sunday meetings, and said that when he was converted, he desired to be baptized. And the sisters went out with much rejoicing.

And behold, on Thursday the sisters when forth valiantly to find the lost sheep who had strayed from the fold. And they were invited into the house of a sister who had not come to church for several years.  And behold, the workmanship of the house was exceedingly fine, and was filled with many treasures from lands far away. And Hermana Chamberlain and Hermana Cochran did marvel exceedingly at the home of the sister (and the name of the sister was Ida) and did wish that their home could be so beautiful. And it came to pass that the
Hermana Ida was exceedingly good, and gave unto them to eat and drink, and a wonderful spirit could be felt in her home. And Hermana Chamberlain and Hermana Cochran hoped that Hermana Ida could be persuaded to one day return to the fold of the Good Sheperd andreceive the blessings that are found there.

And behold, the weekend came, and Hermana Chamberlain and Hermana Cochran did worry exceedingly about who would accompany them to the Sunday meetings, for behold, many people had told them that they could not attend. And it came to pass that on Sunday, Hermana Chamberlain and Hermana Cochran went to church without a single person, and did feel sadness in their hearts. But behold, I will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are incomprehensible, for it came to pass that Giovanni did come into the sacrament meeting and Hermana Chamberlain and Hermana Cochran rejoiced exceedingly in their hearts.

And Giovanni said unto them, behold, I need to be baptized, and little by little I will gain my testimony and be baptized. And it came to pass that the sisters again rejoiced in their hearts and were glad, and at the end of the week they saw that they had found an exceedingly great number of new people to teach the gospel to, and behold, their joy was full.

Okay so it's not as good as Nephi or Alma, but I thought it wasn't too bad. Here's some week highlights for everyone: Hermana Cochran going on a cleaning frenzy in the middle of personal study. Me accusing her of having ADD. Still loving each other despite this. Eating dinner with Alexis and Paula, a young couple in our branch. Drinking very rich hot chocolate at HNA Ida's house. Hermana Cochran pouring the rest of hers into my cup. Me downing it in 2 seconds, right before HNA Ida came back into the kitchen. Seeing one of our investigators  light up a cigarrette right when we came to teach him. Yelling RICHARD!!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?? Him jumping out of his seat, throwing the cigarrette out of his mouth and walking away pretending like he hadn't seen us. Laughing my head off at HNA Cochran's jokes. Teaching Lamby in companionship study. Going up into the mountains.  Eating lots of good food. Realizing that I'm fat. Not caring. Being a fourth missionary. Loving life!!!

Well loyal fans, that's it until next time. It just occurred to me that I haven't done shoutouts in forever. Christi, te quiero mucho y ya nos vemos!!! Linds, I LOVE YOU and will see you sooooonn!!!!  Jamesy, keep it real and when I get home we'll throw a sweet parking garage party. Cousins-can't wait for the family reunion!!! Everyone else-you're awesome!!!


Hermana Chamberlain

Monday, March 14, 2011

Rockin' the Sector


So this week was incredible. I can't even describe how thrilled I am with Heavenly Father right now. He's the best. Let me tell you all about it.

Okay so for three days I didn't even have a companion, so I hung out with Maria Jesus, one of the members in our ward who lived in the States for 5 years and speaks perfect English. It was fun, but at the same time I felt really alone, like sometimes I would feel like crying and I realized that this is how it's going to be when I get home. I won't have anyone by my side 24-7 to do missionary work with me. Even though I wasn't technically alone, I felt like I was, and I think it was because although Maria is awesome and is going to be a great missionary, she hasn't been called and set apart as a missionary of Jesus Christ yet. That makes a huge difference I think. Anyway, so I hung out with her on Monday, and Tuesday she went to district meeting with me. At the end we were all hanging out in there talking and all of a sudden Elder Gonzalez gets a phone call (all the ZLs have cell phones now-aniƱados!!!) He said hello, listened for a second, rolled his eyes and said, she's not alone, she's with a member!!!! The assistants had apparently forgotten that I was in Loja all by myself, and had called to see what I was doing. That of course made me feel even better about myself, but whatevs. I brushed it off. So the next day Maria had to work and I got permission to go with her because there was nothing else I could do. So I had the priviledge of teaching English to 4 classes of high school kids in the morning and going to the Washington English Institute in the afternoon to teach some more English. The assistants had called me in the morning to inform me that my companion would be getting to Loja at 2 in the morning-great. So I have to give a big shoutout to Maria Jesus and her mom, Sonia, who hung out with me for three days and then got up at 2 to go get my companion from the terminal. You guys are awesome!!!!

The important thing is that my companion is finally here!!! Her name is Hermana Cochran, from Alaska, and she is excellent. We are having the best time, she is way hilarious and way excited about missionary work and basically we are rocking the world down here in Jipiro, finding people and teaching them and we're gonna baptize a few of them too!!!

This week I have had amazing experiences with prayer. For 3 days I hadn't been in the sector and I was pretty worried about how we were gonna get the numbers we needed. A new way to pray suddenly popped into my head and I said, Heavenly Father, today we need to find new people. Can you help us with that?? We ended up finding a family of four and a lady up in the mountains, plus we went back to the Flia. Ushca after leaving them for awhile. I was so pumped at the end of the day, but there were still things that I was worried about. The next day I was like, well it worked yesterday, maybe it will work today too. So I prayed-Heavenly Father, today we need to find all the people with baptismal dates. Can you help us with that today?? And guess what?? We found ALL of them!!! Isabel told us she doesn't want to be baptized yet, but you know what?? I was totally okay with it!! And the reason for that is because even though she doesn't want to be baptized, she's reading the Book of Mormon every chance she can get, praying to know it's true, and going to church every Sunday with Diego. If she doesn't get baptized while she's still here (she's going back to Germany on March 28) I know she will eventually. She's doing all the right things!! Plus we found Giovanni who not only still wants to get baptized, he's THRILLED about it!! He told us-HNAs, my birthday is on the 20th, and I'm getting baptized on the 26th!!! So it's perfect!!! Yes, yes it is!! And we found Maria too, and although we weren't able to teach her, we did get to talk to her and we went back and taught her the next day. It was amazing.

So then Sunday came, the most stressful day of the week. I prayed-Heavenly Father, we need people to come to church today. Can you help us with that?? We went up to Zamora Huayco, ate lunch and came back down to get Giovanni, passing by the Ushcas to remind them first. We got to Giovanni's house and knocked on the door, hoping he would hear us. All of a sudden a head popped out of the window above and Giovanni said, wait just one second, I'm coming!!! I about did a backflip. We took him to the chapel and sat down to wait for the meeting to start. We saw Isabel walk in with Diego, right on time. After we took the Sacrament the Ushcas and HNO Carlos and of course Lady all walked in too. I about did another backflip, plus a handspring and roundoff-almost everyone that we wanted in church was there!! It was seriously the most amazing feeling of my life. Moral of this story-if you need a specific blessing, pray for a specific blessing and the Lord will hear you. My testimony that Heavenly Father listens to and answers prayers is now unshakeable.

Time for some week highlights!!!! To start off: playing Mafia with a bunch of high school kids to teach them English. Meeting Maria's coworkers, who all speak perfect English too. Finally meeting my new companion after waiting three days. Introducing HNA Cochran to salchipapas. Contacting in the street. Going back to teach one of them on Sunday and finding out that she had listened to missionaries before and had even been to church a few times. Teaching her about the Book of Mormon under a HUGE picture of the Chorona. Watching Maria fight with Elder Johnson (hilarious!!!) Playing Carnavale after Carnavale. Getting a bucket of water thrown on me by a less active member. Hearing HNO Carlos ask us when we were coming to visit him and his family again. Isabel telling us that she has a lot of confidence with us, and that although she doesn't want to be baptized, all the things we've taught her are turning around in her head and she's figuring it out. Finding gigantic spiders in our apartment. Rearranging the kitchen with HNA Cochran. Walking dogs again. Sunshine every day. Eating a lot of rice. Loving life. Being a missionary!!!

Well, time to go again. I'm gonna try and upload some pictures-we went to the castle today and it was pretty cool!!! Until next week, love you all and be good!!


Hermana Chamberlain