Monday, December 28, 2009

Feliz Navidad y Feliz Ano Nuevo

Hola familia y amigos!!

First off, an announcement. I asked President Johns if friends are allowed to email me and he said that email is for family only. So friends, even though I love your emails, I also don´t want to be disobedient. I´ll try to snail mail you all, and if you want to send me a message, write on my facebook or blog and my mom can email it to me, or try Or snail mail it, but know that it will take forever and probably be expensive. Just letting you know!! Oh yeah, and family extends to grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. So you´re all still good. :)

Feliz Navidad everyone!! I hope everyone had an amazing Christmas. Family, it was so great to talk to you!! It was hard to hang up that phone though, there were so many more things I wanted to say, but it´s okay. We didn´t really do a whole lot on Christmas, and I actually think we could have worked a lot harder than we did, so I´ve made a goal that next Christmas, wherever I am, I´m going to work harder and really try to accomplish the goals we make for the day. This coming week is Nuevo Año (New Years) which is celebrated pretty much the same as the United States except louder, drunker, and more dangerous, so I think we have to be in early on the 31st. Hopefully we can still be productive though.

Christmas in Ecuador is really interesting. On the 24th they have Nochebuena, which basically is that everyone stays up till midnight and then throws a big fiesta in the street. Families visit each other and everyone eats a lot of food. They eat turkey on Christmas here, and this stuff called relleno, which, as one of our zone leaders put it, is "their attempt at stuffing." I thought it was okay but they gave us a ton of it and it would have been much better in a smaller amount. But they also have torta Navideña which is AMAZING. So good!! And this stuff called Pan de Pascua, which is bread and looks like it should be good but I don´t like it. It´s got that crystallized fruit stuff in it like fruitcake, which makes it pretty gross. But for the most part, the food was awesome although I ate way too much and seriously thought I was going to die on Thursday night. But the next day I was hungry again. Of course. Pretty much everyone has a nacimiento (manger scene) but they don´t put the baby Jesus in until midnight on Christmas day, so that´s kind of cool. So yeah, it´s pretty similar to the United States except everyone celebrates on a different day and time. But what´s important is that we celebrate the birth of Christ, cierto??

So this week was slightly frustrating because we couldn´t get a lot accomplished because everyone was busy celebrating Christmas and didn´t want to talk to us. But we did get two people committed to baptism on Saturday!! Robert Grazzo, the guy with the chicken stand, and Marcos Arrata, who is 26. Both of them have had the missionaries visit them before, and Marcos even knows who he wants to baptize him!! He has a cousin who is a bishop in another ward that he wants to come and baptize him. I feel really good about these two but I also am a little wary, because I know that as soon as something good happens, Satan comes right down and tries to ruin it. But we´re going to try not to let that happen. Plus Rolando finally comes back this week after taking his tests for the police academy. We talked to his dad on Saturday and he told us that Rolando passed all his tests!!! YAAAAAY!!!! I´m pretty sure it´s because he was reading and praying. Haha. Anyway, hopefully we can get in touch with him again and get him baptized. We´re all feeling really good about this next change, and I´m trying to keep those good feelings with me so that I don´t get discouraged.

So I´ve decided that since you all ask me questions, I´m going to start asking questions too, one every week, for my RM friends and family. This week´s question is: What is the absolute worst/lamest/stupidest/funniest reason you´ve been given for someone not coming to church?? I got the best one so far of my mission this Sunday. We went to get the Fam. Balarezo to go to church with us and when we got there, they told us they couldn´t go because . . . . . . there was no water in their house. Ummmm . . . . how does that possibly keep you from going to church?? And guess what building always has running water??? If you guessed the chapel, you get a gold star!!! We walked away and I was seriously so irritated, because I knew that Hno. Balarezo had something to do with this (he´s the one that doesn´t want to get married and thinks that we´re crazy bc we don´t worship Mary and Joseph Smith wrote the BOM.) Anyway, I was upset all through church and it was bad bc this time I didn´t hide it as well, bc Hna. Lopez and Marcelo Bacaluna both were like, "Hna. Chamberlain, por que usted es triste? (why are you sad?) Anyway, I thought again, I just want one person to come to church today. And boom!! When we went to pick up Marcos, there he was, ready and waiting. Robert bailed on us again, but he´s got plenty of time to go to church before he´s baptized, so I´m not too worried about him yet. So yeah, I´m trying to look at all the good things that happen and realize that I need to learn patience. I think maybe that´s why I was put in this area first, is because I didn´t learn enough patience in the MTC. But I´m trying, I really am. I could always try harder, I know, but that´s what this life is for, to find your weaknesses and make them strengths, right?? Also, we were talking to this lady last night who lives with someone else that we were trying to contact, and all of a sudden she was telling us about all the problems she has with her family and we were just like . . . . whoa. You really need the gospel!! So we´re going back sometime this week to talk to her again. It was so random, who talks to complete strangers about their personal problems like that?? But it was good for us, and I was able to tell her about the people in my family that have made some bad decisions and caused us a lot of pain and sorrow, but that having the gospel of Jesus Christ and knowing that He was there always helped us, and that it was part of the reason I was here, because I wanted to share what helped me. In Spanish!! And she even said Gracias at the end, which meant she understood!! YAY!! It´s getting better. Slowly but surely.

So who wants to know what I did on Christmas?? Well, I got up at 6:30 like every day and then I went to the playground next to the chapel and played volleyball for 3 hours with the rest of our district. It was super fun. We had BonIce for breakfast and I got to talk to the other elders in my district who speak English (which is secretly why I look forward to P-day and district meeting. I know it´s bad but it´s the truth!!) Then we went home and planned and ate lunch and called our families and then went out and tried to visit people. I felt like kind of a bum, to tell the truth, which again is why I have resolved to make next Christmas better. And that was my first Christmas in Ecuador. Cheverissimo!!

So I feel kind of at a loss for other things to say, because nothing super exciting happened this week, other than me eating a lot of food on Christmas Eve and the two baptismal dates that we made. Hopefully this week is more exciting. Elder Hicks, who is in my district in area La Pradera, told me a cool story about blessing a house of this lady that they found. Some of the members told him and his companion that she was having trouble with evil spirits, and he said that when they went into her house he was like, okay this lady´s just crazy, there´s nothing wrong with this house. But when they went into her room, he said that the Spirit pretty much flew out the window. But after they blessed it, it came right back. I was like . . . whoa!! I´m hoping that nothing that exciting happens to me, because that would be super scary. But it just goes to show the power of the priesthood of God, and how grateful we should be that we have it in our church to bless our lives and our families. I hope those of you that have the priesthood that are reading my email never take it for granted. It´s the power to act in God´s name given to you, and I can´t imagine a more amazing gift, or one that requires more responsibility. Remember that!!

Shoutout time!! Eric, I´m not sure how long ago you sent that letter but I finally got it!! Muchas Gracias!! It was awesome, and I promise that you will get Ecuadorian postcards . . . . eventually. I was going to write soon but that probably would have been a lie. But sometime throughout the course of these next 15 months, you will get them. But for now I will just say be good and don´t do anything I wouldn´t do!! Also, I still need addresses from the rest of you or you won´t get any letters ever. Kristen, Jordan Mayorga, anyone who didn´t write in my pink book before I left, I´m talking to you. Oh yeah, and write to me!! DearElder is super easy and supposedly I get it within a week (although I suspect that may be wrong, bc apparently there´s a ton of dearelder letters that have been sent but I haven´t gotten them.) But I love you all, and I miss you all, and I´m loving it here even if it is frustrating sometimes. Salvation isn´t easy or cheap, so of course it´s going to be hard!! But at the same time . . . somehow it´s also awesome.

So I guess that´s all for now. Please keep praying for me and being good and feeding the missionaries, and when they ask for members to come with them to lessons, please go and help them out!! It´s so much better when members come!!

Mucho amor!! La iglesia es verdadera!!

Hermana Chamberlain

Monday, December 21, 2009

AWOL Investigators, Taxis With Spinners, and a Crab Looking Me in the Eye

Hola hola!!

SO, this week was a little better than last week. Still frustrating but better. I feel like the Lord is slowly but surely turning things around for us. We finally got poor little Henry Astudillo baptized, after changing the date twice. But it was a baptism fraught with issues. First, we got to the chapel and the zone leaders were there and were talking to us and then Elder Lively, says, almost like and afterthought, "oh, y hermanas, en cinco minutos no hay luz" (in 5 minutes, there´s no light). Remember that the City of Guayaquil turns the lights off at random times in random areas of the city to save money. We were like . . . . are you SERIOUS???? So we ran to a tienda to buy candles. And then we thought the Astudillos weren´t going to show bc they were really late. But they did and Henry and Rene are baptized and confirmed, finally. Our investigators with baptismal dates are still AWOL. Well, AWOL is probably a little strong for Rolando, because we at least know where he is, when he´s coming back and that he´s still reading the BOM and praying. And we´ve had some contact with him over the past week. He is trying to get into the police academy and he went to Quito to take his entrance exams, but he´s not coming back until this Friday bc he has family in Quito, so he´s hanging out with them for the holiday. But at least we know what his deal is. Jonathan, on the other hand, we have NO IDEA. Seriously. We´ve been trying to call him and his brother Luis this whole week and except for one or two times we haven´t been able to find him. Luis seriously disappeared off the face of the earth. He won´t answer our phone calls, he´s not there when we go to his house and we seriously don´t know what happened to him. And without Luis we really can´t get to Jonathan, bc he won´t come to church without his brother. It´s frustrating, and yesterday Hna. Laime left Luis a rather angry message that pretty much said, look man, if you don´t want to talk to us, fine, but maybe you should remember that your brother needs you, ya jerk (okay she didn´t say it that way but that´s how we all feel.) So yeah, that was annoying. But we started teaching a bunch of new people this week, including Filipe and Joselina, from a family that makes muñecos!! Filipe is 19 and was really receptive. He said he would read the BOM and pray about it and he really wanted to come to church with us this Sunday but he couldn´t (and he looked genuinely disappointed about it too!!) But his mom Joselina said she wanted to come and she actually did come with us!! Good story about that. Sunday morning, we had a bunch of people who said that they wanted to come to church with us. We even called one of them the morning of and he was like oh yeah I´m coming!! So then we showed up at his house and he had peaced out. So I got really mad and was grumpy all the way to Joselina´s house, and then she said she couldn´t go either!! I was like . . . . . WHAT THE HECK???? But then we remembered that we had another lady that wanted to go to church with us at 3:00 in the afternoon and so we asked Joselina if she would go with us then, and she said, oh si si!! So I looked at her and said promesa?? Promise?? She laughed and said si si, and then we left for church. Well all through church I was depressed bc just bc someone says they´re going to come to church doesn´t mean they will and I was really frustrated and trying not to cry and I thought, Heavenly Father, I just want ONE person to come to church with us today okay?? Yeah. I had hit a low for sure. And then we figured out that if we went to eat lunch with the Chavez family like we usually do on Sunday, we wouldn´t be able to get to Joselina on time and possibly we wouldn´t be able to get her to church. So we decided to skip lunch. And this is when I realized something. I am willing to pretty much do anything for my investigators. Skipping meals, risking my life in taxis, I would even jump in front of a bus if it meant my investigators would keep their commitments. I had this little epiphany in RS bc I couldn´t really understand what Hna. Gomez was saying, so my mind was wandering a little, and I thought that maybe this is why the Lord gives us bad days, is so that we can evaluate what we´re willing to give to Him. And I realized that maybe I´m not as selfish as I used to be, bc I´m pretty sure if you asked me in the MTC if I was willing to skip meals to go gather investigators for church, I would have been like, ummmm . . . . no. We did end up eating something before we went to get Joselina, but I would have been okay with not eating till we got home at 9 if it meant that she would come with us. But she did and she LOVED IT!! We went to Sacrament meeting and then we were going to leave but I felt like I wanted her to stay for longer, and I guess the other hnas. did too bc they asked her if she wanted to stay for class. So off we went to Gospel Principles and it turned out to be the articles of faith!!! I about jumped out of my seat. I was like, Heavenly Father, you´re awesome!! Anyway, she wants to go next week and she´s going to bring Felipe with her and we´re teaching them again on Tuesday. I´m so excited. They are so going to be baptized. We also started teaching a guy named Robert who sells chicken on the street and has had the missionaries before. He´s very receptive and the chicken is delicious, although I think we might have been breaking the rules when we ate it bc we´re not supposed to eat things from street vendors ever. But it was fried chicken so I´m pretty sure anything that could have hurt us got killed in the frying process. But yeah. He´s cool. Didn´t come to church with us like he said he would, but still cool.

And who´s ready for some more good news??? Remember familia Pino?? Today is the day that they should find out for reals if Hno. Pino got his divorce. Either today or at the first of the new year, I don´t know for sure because I couldn´t really understand what was going on (which is pretty par for the course with everyone) but I am really excited and I KNOW that things are going to work out for them. Because really, 4 years is enough time to wait to get baptized, especially when they´re more faithful and active than some members that I know!!

So now it´s time for me to talk about the experiences that I could only possibly have in Ecuador. Yesterday I rode in a taxi with spinners!!! It was so awesome and I really wanted to take a picture but I didn´t know how to do it without the cab driver looking at me like I was weird, so I didn´t. But trust me when I say that this cab was like an episode of Pimp My Ride but with a taxi. It was the most tricked out cab I´ve ever seen, inside and out. I also got called Barbie for the first time this week, I don´t remember by who but I think it was an old lady. But she said it in a nice loving way, so I wasn´t offended. My favorite is when the creepy guys yell at me in Spanish bc they think I can´t understand, but most of the time I do and it just makes me laugh. And for the first time yesterday, someone honked and flashed their lights at me. I guess I´m just really pretty. Or really white and tall. You decide which one it is. What else. I ate crabs for the first time ever in my life last Tuesday. I swear to you all that when I walked in, one of them was looking at me. It was seriously the creepiest thing EVER. I had a hard time reaching my hand into the pot for one bc I was legitimately afraid that they would start moving. And when I finally picked one up I turned it facing away from me so that I wouldn´t have to look at its face. I was super creeped out!! But I made it through all the legs but I couldn´t eat the head, I just couldn´t do it. I gave it to one of the bishop´s daughters, who then proceeded to shove it in my face and laugh. Not very nice. But I did like the crab meat, although eating crabs is a lot of work for not very much food, so I´m pretty much over it. Anyway. On Wednesday we passed a panaderia (bakery) and we saw this amazing cake in the window annnnd . . . . . we bought it. The remnants are in our fridge right now. It was only $6, which was awesome bc in the states it would have been like $20. But it was delicious, even though we had to throw the strawberries on top away bc we´re not allowed to eat them here. We still eat all the time, and I´ve resigned myself to the fact that I´m probably going to get fat here and am okay with it. And I should probably tell you that when I get back I´m probably going to eat really weird things. Like yogurt on cereal, and jam on crackers, and jam on tortillas, and I will probably also eat a ton of food for lunch, eat everything with a spoon, and be really upset about the fact that we don´t have pineapple jam in the states or manjar (sidenote:I´m not totally sure what manjar is, I only know that it´s DELICIOUS). Yeah. Mom and Dad, you should come get me at the end of my mission and we will have a great time just with the food. It is seriously so good. Anyway. I had my first interview with President Johns this Thursday, who validated all my concerns and said that sometimes we´re going to have bad days or weeks and that´s just how it goes. I felt slightly better after that. He also said that I´m doing a great job and that I´ve acquired the gift of tongues (not true, my Spanish is terrible!!) and that it will all be okay. He is great and I am lucky to have him as my president. Today I think we are going to the faro (lighthouse) but I´m not sure. I hope we do bc I love love LOVE lighthouses. Whenever I hear the song "The Whaler" by Thrice, I always think of lighthouses. Brad and James Porter are probably the only ones who know what I´m talking about (PS: Brad, I can´t believe you didn´t tell me you´re engaged. I thought we were friends?? jk, it´s okay but I better get a wedding announcement for my fridge, and you better not have a kid when I get back. jk, you can if you want to;). Anyway, I love lighthouses bc they´re so pretty and cool and they remind me of the Savior, bc he´s the light of the world, isn´t He?? If you have a minute, you should all find your hymnbooks and read "brightly beams our Father´s mercy" Its awesome. Promise.

More little things. I taught myself to French braid this morning and now I feel pretty good about myself. Also, last p-day we went bowling and it was AWESOME. I´m sure you can imagine that bowling shoes look really amazing with skirts. Believe dat!!

Time for shoutouts!! Purdue friends, I miss you!! Lindsey, Jamesy, Curty Curt, Brad, James, Brent, Stan, Jordan, all those new people who´s names I can´t remember, I miss you and love you!! What is going on in the ward?? Who´s engaged?? lol jk. How are you all doing?? I wish you could be here with me so we could convert some people and afterwards dance to the Ecuadorian rap that everyone blasts from their villas. Jordan Mayorga, what is your address?? I want to write you a letter. How are the elders in your ward?? Seriously, what´s going down? Also KRISTEN!!!! I miss you tons!! I wish you were here with me too. We would have the most amazing time here together bringing people to Christ and also sticking them with needles. LOL. I love love love your hospital stories, it makes me think of the good times at the VA. All my cousins, how are you doing?? Daniel, usted tiene una novia?? Pensaba que nunca se pasa!!! LOL jk. Por que usted no me escriba?? Katie me escriba. En serio. Estoy muy triste porque nunca oyo de usted. Pero esta bien si usted no me ama. Katie me ama, y los otros miembros de nuestra familia me aman. Entonces, esta bien. lol jk otra vez. Pero, en serio, escribeme. Y Katie, la amo mucho y this week I had the pleasure of using a toilet that had to have water thrown down it first. I thought of you and laughed, until I realized that I couldn´t flush this toilet. I love Ecuador!!

So I am good. Sometimes I get really frustrated and discouraged but mostly I am good. And I´m trying to work on it because faith and discouragement can´t exist together. Remember that everyone!! And be good and read the Book of Mormon and have an amazingly Merry Christmas!! Remember the reason why we celebrate it and be with your families and tell them you love them and eat a lot of food!! We already have two Christmas dinners lined up and we´re probs gonna have more as the week goes on. I can´t wait!!


Hermana Chamberlain

Monday, December 14, 2009

Read the Book of Mormon!

Hola hola!!

First off, no I do not have an oven. We wanted to cook a turkey for Christmas but we can´t because we don´t have an oven. Don´t worry though, the members will take care of us ;)

Grocery stores here are pretty much the same as the ones in the United States, except that all the food comes in different kinds of containers. They have pretty much the same brands of peanut butter and candy and stuff like that, so I eat pretty normal food. And I can get pretty much everything that they have in the States, for now (it will probably be different once I go to Loja or Machala or other places). But I´m glad that you´re depositing money in my account so that I can get peanut butter and nutella, bc I feel bad using the mission money for it. Plus I want to get some of the native bracelets and stuff, bc they´re pretty.

SO, this week I learned that just when you think everything´s going awesome, Satan shows up and delivers you a nice swift kick in the pants (or skirt, I haven´t worn pants in awhile). Anyway this week was really hard. On Tuesday we did have two investigators commit to be baptized on the 26th!! Very exciting. Rolando, who is 24 and muy bueno. When we came to teach the second lesson he was reading the Book of Mormon before we came. And we have Jonathan who is 18 and is the brother of Luis who is a less active member that we´re trying to reactivate. He seems pretty excited about it too. Or so we thought until neither of them showed up at church on Sunday like they said they were going to!! We called Jonathan and he said that he wanted to go, but not without Luis, and since Luis went AWOL he didn´t go. But Luis has his own set of problems that I don´t even want to get into because we´d be here all day. Also, Hermano Pino wasn´t able to get his divorce on Wednesday, and to top it off, he got in a car wreck. He´s fine, but his car´s in pretty bad shape. I thought, really Satan?? You didn´t want them to be baptized so badly that you messed up his divorce and then you tried to kill him?? Was that necessary?? It was very sad and frustrating. But the Pinos are so great. They said they just needed to keep having faith and things would work out (I think . . . . I didn´t really understand very much!!) But it is heartbreaking for them. And Familia Belarezo . . . . ugh!! It´s so hard. I feel and know in my heart that they will be baptized, all of them together. But Hno. Belarezo just is the epitome of stiffnecked. We went over there last week with the whole family and guess who hadn´t started to read the Book of Mormon?? And then we went to visit Hna. Belarezo on Thursday and she´s having a really hard time with it. She is so good, she has such a strong testimony, and she really wants to get married but he just won´t relent. We did the best we could with scriptures and encouragement (I personally like Ether 12 where it says that faith can work miracles) but it was hard to see her upset like that. But yesterday, I feel like we maybe had a small breakthough. I didn´t really understand a whole lot of what was going on, but I feel like Hno. Belarezo maybe opened his heart just a crack. Hna. Laime asked him what he wanted most for himself and his family and he said, Tener paz (to have peace), to which I replied with a sentence from the BOM introduction, which talks about how reading the BOM will tell you how to have peace in this life and in the life to come. Then I said, I know that this is true, but we can tell you that over and over and you won´t believe. The only way you can know for yourself is by reading and praying to God, and I know that He will give you an answer. Then I told him that sometimes it was difficult for me to be here, when my family is on a different continent and I don´t speak or understand the language very well, but that I knew that Guayaquil Ecuador was where I was supposed to be, for him, his family and all my investigators. And I said it all in Spanish!! Granted it wasn´t very good Spanish but I´m pretty sure if not positive that he understood. Anyway, I felt very gratified afterward and I have strong faith that he will at least feel the desire to read and know that it´s true. And I extend the same invitation to all of you who read my blog or my emails, whether you´re a member or not. If you are, read the BOM again and pray again and I promise you that you´ll get a reassurance that it´s true. It probably won´t come like your first answer did, but it will come. If you´re not a member, please please read the Book of Mormon, and pray and ask God if it´s true. I promise you that if you pray, really wanting to know, Heavenly Father will answer you. If you don´t have a copy of the Book of Mormon, send me your address and I´ll do my best to get one to you (I have two copies in English) or go to and request a free copy. I know this book changes lives for the better. It answers all the questions of the soul that you could possibly have, and I know that because it´s answered many of mine, even the ones I didn´t know I had until I found the answer. The best Christmas present you could give me this year is to read and pray. It´s not too hard, and you don´t even have to spend money, and really, it´s the best gift you´ll ever give yourself. I promise you that.

Wow!! I wasn´t expecting to write that but I felt like I should. Anyway, this week was tough for sure. Even the baptism we had fell through bc his dad had to travel for work (no worries though, we´re baptizing him on Wednesday). But at the same time, it was humbling and faith building. It taught me that sometimes you don´t always get what you want, even if it´s a good thing, and that you can do all the right things and pray and teach and commit and have the Spirit, but even after all that, people still have their agency and sometimes they use it to do the wrong thing. It happens. And I feel like I probably should have seen it coming, because after we got our baptismal dates on Tuesday, Wednesday morning I was reading in 1 Nephi 8 about the tree of life vision, about the vapors of darkness. It struck me that the mists of darkness only show up AFTER the people grab hold of the iron rod and begin on the path to the tree. And that´s exactly what happened this week. Our investigators grabbed onto the rod by reading and committing to be baptized, and then the mists of darkness came down like crazy. But I feel that this week will be better. It has to be!! Funny story. In Ecuador they make these things called muñecos for New Years. They´re paper mache statues of cartoon characters and famous people and superheroes and stuff like that. They put all the bad things that happened in the old year on them and then kick them around and stomp on them and finally light them on fire and blow them up. So Hna Laime, Hna Lopez and I decided that were going to build one of Satanàs and oh man are we gonna have a good time with taking him out!!

Anyway, for the most part things are pretty good. I eat pretty much all the time, it´s ridiculous. But the food is really good here!! Everything is just better!! And I really don´t think I´m gaining very much weight, because I walk so much. But I am having a tough time with Ecuadorian music, bc it´s really good, and we walk down the streets and I hear it and I´m like, wow, I really like this song!! And then I´m like, ah no!! I´m a missionary!! Must. Not. Listen!! It´s tough. But I´m making it!! I feel like I might complain a lot about how hard it is in my letters. And it is hard. But I hope nobody thinks it´s unbearable for me and that I hate my life. I know it´s going to be fine, and already I´ve had great experiences. But nobody talks about how the first few weeks of the mission are pretty tough!! So I´m letting you know. It´s fabulous and amazing but it´s tough!! But I promise I´m okay. More than okay. I´m superbien. Promise!!

Tambien, Hno. Barrios, ¡muchas gracia por su mensaje! Fue muy bueno y me ayuda mucho. No puedo enviarle un email, pero no dice en las reglas de la mision que no puedo escribirle en mis emails a mi familia. Entonces, estoy muy bien y trabajando mucho y muy duro. En Ecuador, las personas son muy buenos pero no puedo entender mucho. ¡Ellos hablan muy rapido y no dicen todas las palabras! Pero sé que me aman much y estan alegre que yo estoy aqui. ¿Cómo está usted? ¿Que tal su estudia? ¿Tiene una novia? Hahaha, jk. Yo lo extraño y el distrito tambien, pero estoy muy feliz para estar en Ecuador y hacer la obra del Señor. Espero que usted este muy muy bien. ¡Chao!

So yeah. I´m good!! Tired and hungry all the time but good!! This is the hardest yet best thing I´ve ever done in my life so far, even if sometimes it doesn´t seem like it. It´s fabulous. Life is good. And I´m glad that life is good for all of you too!! Kristen I love your nursing stories!! Katie and Hillary, muchas gracias for your words of encouragement. So far, the ants have not tried to eat my shoes. And we don´t have spiders or cockroaches in the apartment, which is good bc the cockroaches are sometimes the size of my thumbs. It´s gross. But the spiders are pretty small. Oh, my apartment. It´s pretty big, there are 3 rooms, the kitchen and 2 bathrooms and yes we have running water and flushing toilets. I´m still getting used to cold showers everyday but it´s not terrible. We have mosquito nets on our beds and no oven or microwave, just a stovetop, a blender and a fridge. And we can´t drink the water out of the tap, so we buy pure water every week. It´s pretty awesome, and we have good times!!

Well I need to go buy food, so hasta luego until next monday and love you all and be good!! The church is true!! Jesus is the Christ!!


Hermana Chamberlain

PS: Hno. Barrios, if you write to Hna. Yoshino again, por favor tell her I miss her tons and love her to death and wish I could email her but I can´t and I had a brownie on my first Pday here and it was delicious and I thought of her. Gracias!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Peanut Butter and Ants--No Me Gusta!

Hola familia y amigos!!

I´ve been here for almost 2 weeks now!! Crazy to think about. Tons of good, weird, not so good stuff this week. First, I´m starting to understand people a little bit better but I feel like I talk less. I think that as I hear other people´s Spanish, my confidence in my own Spanish drops, so I just keep my mouth shut. But I´m trying, I know I need to work on it.

So, first off, your questions. I´m not sure how many Hermanas there are total. But I know that there are only 5 or 6 white hermanas here!! I´ll try to find out for you, it´s probably on the mission website. Also, I got your first package with 4 presents in it, but it was kind of sad bc I saw the customs form on the front so I already knew what was in them. But I did laugh pretty hard when I saw the pictures of Mary and Jesus all over them, and when I explained in my broken Spanish to my companions, they thought it was funny too. Funny story. When I opened the box and was pulling out the presents, Hna. Lopez said, ohhh, muchas regalos!! (Many presents!!) But I thought she said, oohhh muchos pecados (Many sins!!) I was like . . . . ummmm, como?? And then after I explained what I thought she said, we laughed really hard. It was hilarious!! We have a great time in our apartment, it´s a blast. Another funny story. We were walking around one day and we sat down to decide where we needed to go next, and there was this dog that was barking really loudly and obnoxiously. I remember thinking, "wow that dog is really obnoxious" or something like that, and all of a sudden Hna. Laime mutters under her breath, "urrrgghh SHUT UUUUUUPPPP!!!!" I looked at her and just started laughing so hard!!! I couldn´t believe she said that!! She said that they used to say it in her home ward all the time and I said, "De todas las palabras en ingles, ustedes aprendieron estes palabras?? (of all the english words, you chose those ones??) It was seriously hilarious. Now whenever I hear something annoying I think . . . . ugghhhh SHUT UP!!! Hilarious.

Back to your questions. I get as much time as I want on the computer here but I have to pay for it. But it´s super cheap, so not a big deal. We had a killer time last week buying groceries. I felt like a little kid in a candy store, I just wanted to touch everything!! And I can get peanut butter here, but it´s super expensive. OOOHHH. Another story. We got peanut butter on monday, and on wednesday when we came home at night I was SO tired and SO frustrated bc of the Spanish and just not having a good day and I just really really wanted a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I was really excited about it. So I got out the bread and the jelly and opened my peanut butter and THERE WERE ANTS IN IT. I WAS SO MAD!!!!! Hna. Laime and Hna. Lopez were laughing so hard but I was really legitimately angry bc I had to throw the whole thing away and I REALLY WANTED A PBJ. So I´m standing there fuming and all of a sudden Hna. Lopez hands me a can of Raid. Then she and Hna. Laime got to enjoy watching me terrorize the ant population in our kitchen with the can of Raid. I think I went a little bit crazy. I literally sprayed it EVERYWHERE. (Sidenote: lying in bed that night and smelling the Raid, I later regretted this decision). At the time I was really having a crisis but now its just funny. And I get another jar of peanut butter today, which I will be keeping in the refrigerator. It´s interesting bc I remember having the feeling that I should put my peanut butter in the fridge that morning, but I just brushed it off, bc we don´t keep it in the fridge at home. Well, now I know that maybe I should listen to those feelings bc Heavenly Father knew that there would be ants in my peanut butter that night and that I would really want a PBJ but obviously I did not listen to the promptings and therefore suffered the consequences. Oh well. Now I know!!

So I bet you want to know what´s going on with my investigators. Well first off I have some sad news. Yes. I gave Carl away. I know, I know. But little Jimmy Belareiso needed him more than I did. And he is a very happy little niño now. I know Carl is in a good place, stuck up next to the lightbulb in their ceiling fan so that he´ll glow. I won´t lie though, it was really sad, and when I told Elder McGuire at zone conference he wasn´t very happy. But it´s all for the best. Anyway, we´ve been having the same issues with familia Belareiso this week. Hno. Belareiso doesn´t want to get married, blah blah blah. I had been thinking and wondering if the issue maybe went a little deeper, bc they´ve been together for 20 years and have 5 sons, it´s not like the relationship´s likely to fall apart anytime soon. So I´d been thinking and praying about it, and one day in companionship study we were talking about it. Hna. Laime was reading from our search for happiness about something, and I flipped to the section where she was reading. I read the section before it, where Elder Ballard talks to the minister about how he could hold the gold plates in his hands and he still wouldn´t know any more that the Book of Mormon is true. The only way to know is to read and pray. BOOM!!! It was like it jumped off the page!! I grabbed Hna. Laime´s Spanish OSFH and read the section and then said, "El no tiene un testimonio del Libro de Mormon!!" (he doesn´t have a testimony of the book of mormon!!!) Because if he did, he would know that it´s true, and therefore Joseph Smith is a prophet, and therefore this is the true church, and therefore the law of chastity is a commandment of God, and therefore he needs to get married and get baptized. (I don´t know how to say that in spanish so I explained in much simpler terms) My companions agreed that that could be what it was, but over the next few days I started to doubt that I had actually received revelation bc he was listening to us and being nice to us and all that. BUT, Saturday night we went over there, and I´m not really sure what happened bc all I know is that one minute we were talking about how they celebrate Christmas in the United States and the next minute he was on this tangent about how we´re not the true church bc we don´t worship Mary, the mother of Jesus. I don´t even know, but I could understand most of what he was saying. Basically he said that Joseph Smith wrote the book of mormon and that he was crazy and that he´s catholic and a bunch of other things. So they were getting into it and I was just sitting there thinking, "I KNEW he didn´t have a testimony of the BOM. I KNEW it!!" But I couldn´t say ANYTHING, bc my Spanish is terrible, although Hna. Belareiso was amazing. She was explaining the BOM to Hno. Belareiso and she totally has her own testimony and basically she´s awesome. Anyway, finally after a long time of back and forth Hna. Lopez asked Hno. Belareiso, "Have you read the Book of Mormon?" You know what he said?? "NO." I was like . . . . . . I KNEW IT!!!!! Anyway, long story short, Hna. Laime bore a very powerful testimony (and finally the Spirit came back into the conversation at that point) and we left. The whole way home that was the only thing I could say. I KNEW IT!! I KNEW IT!! We had a long session of complaining and being irritated about the stiffneckedness of Hno. Belareiso and then we went to bed. But the next day, we went to the Christmas devotional and there he was with the rest of his family!! We were very confused, but very happy to see him there. I spent much of the time praying that he would open his heart and listen to the words that were being said (BTW, could someone send those talks to me in English?? I didn´t understand a whole lot!!) So yeah. We´re teaching them again tonight and I don´t really know what will happen, but I´m trying to remain optimistic. However, I remember thinking when Hno. Sears talked about how we can receive revelation for our investigators, "Hmm. That´s cool. I bet it won´t happen to me though." Well guess what?? It DID. And it´s awesome!! Now I pray everytime I study for help finding things that will help my investigators. It´s awesome!! The Spirit is real!!

So are you ready for some good news??? Remember familia Pino?? Hno. Pino told us this week that he thinks he´ll be able to get his divorce really really soon!! Which means he and Hna. Pino can get married and then get baptized like they´ve been wanting to for FOUR YEARS!! I was so happy when I found out, it´s totally an answer to prayer. I probably shouldn´t get used to having my prayers answered this quickly in exactly the way I want them to, but it was so amazing!! I feel like we should take them to visit the Belareisos. I doubt they would have much patience with Hno. B, since he has the opportunity to get married and baptized right now and won´t, and they´ve been waiting and praying for that same opportunity for 4 years. But it´s amazing amazing news and makes me so happy, bc the Pinos are seriously awesome.

And we started teaching a new family this week, the familia Manso. It´s a mom and two sons, Washington and Mario. Her husband lives in the States for work, so it´s just her and the boys at home. We taught them the first lesson and committed them to read 3 Nephi 11, and then I felt impressed to mark Alma 32 as well. When we came back she had read Alma 32!! Which was what we prepared a lesson on!! So we read with her and even though she wasn´t able to come to church that week I think we´ll be able to get her there again. We invited them to the Christmas devotional and they said they would come, but I felt like we should go and pick them up. But we didn´t, and they didn´t show. Now I know that I need to open my mouth when I have these feelings!! But next Sunday, next Sunday. Hna. Manso loves to talk a lot and even though I don´t know what she´s saying I know that she goes off on tangents a lot. But she always gets really into our lessons and I´m looking forward to continuing to teach her family and committing them to baptism!!

It´s interesting, bc while I was sitting in the room with the Belareisos listening to my companions talk to Hno. B, I was thinking about what I could say to him. My thoughts went something like this: "Look man, I´m in a foreign country right now. My family is on another continent, I can´t understand barely anything anyone says to me, I walk for miles every day, eat pretty much the same food every day, struggle with feelings of inadequacy every day, I´m tired all the time, it´s so hot that I have to keep my toothpaste in the refrigerator so it doesn´t melt, I constantly feel like I have no idea what´s going on, and furthermore, I have to take cold showers everyday. But you know what?? If one person gets baptized while I´m here, it will all be worth it. Do you really, honestly think I would be here, giving up a year and a half of my life to come to this place where I don´t speak or understand the language very well and I have to live in a way that´s completely different from what I´m used to if I didn´t know for a surety that this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ??? Do you think I would be here if I didn´t know that Joseph Smith was a prophet or that the Book of Mormon is true?? Bringing that knowledge to people like yourself is worth every temporal inconvenience that I have to deal with right now. It´s true, I know it is, but the only way you can know is if you find out for yourself."

Okay so I didn´t have all of those thoughts while I was sitting there in the Belareiso living room, only the thought that I wouldn´t be here if I didn´t know that the gospel was true. Most of those thoughts came as I was thinking about it later. But it´s all completely true. There is no way I would be here doing what I´m doing if I wasn´t sure that the gospel was true, and if I didn´t know that Heavenly Father wanted me to be here. I´ll admit, sometimes I wonder, when it´s especially tough, if this really is where I´m supposed to be. But I know it is. I know I was sent to Ecuador for a reason, even though I have no idea what it is right now. But already, as I´ve mentioned above, I´ve been able to receive help to know the needs of the people I´m teaching and been able to see the joy that this gospel brings to people, and to feel the love that the Savior has for them. It´s incredible!! I´m not going to pretend that it´s easy, or that every day is a great day, or even that I´m really happy every day. But I know that in the long run I am going to say, "This was the best thing I´ve ever done in my life." RIght now I´m thinking that it´s the hardest thing I´ve ever done in my life, and no doubt it will always be tough. But I remember a talk given by Jeffrey R. Holland on this subject. He said, it wasn´t easy for our Savior to take upon Himself the sins of the world for us, so how dare we call ourselves His disciples if we´re not willing to have a little bit of that same pain and struggle in our lives? I´m paraphrasing horribly but that´s the gist of it. And it´s true. It definitely wasn´t easy for the Savior to suffer for us, so why should we expect it to be easy for us to live life or bring people to the gospel of Jesus Christ?? A lot of times when I´m feeling down or sorry for myself another quote from that talk pops into my head: "Salvation isn´t cheap." It´s absolutely true. So don´t worry too much about me. It´s tough now and no doubt it will be tough for awhile. The MTC and the mission field are two very different places, and both take time to get used to (although at least I could speak English in the MTC!!!!) But it will be okay. I know it will!!

So how is everyone else doing?? If you all want to email me you can. I can only write letters on monday and I don´t really have time to do it, but I´m going to try my best to get letters out to people. There are some addresses I need so if you want me to write you, put your addresses on my fb group page and my mom will send them to me. It takes snail mail about 3 weeks to get here and dearelder takes 1 week. So far I´ve gotten 1 dearelder letter from you Mom, and I think you wrote it before I left the MTC. I´m still not totally sure how the mail here works, but I think we only get it once a week. But I´ll let you know when and if I´m getting your mail and packages. I thought of a few more things I would like for Christmas (or Navidad). If you can, could you send me some Nutella and peanut butter?? Both are really expensive here and I feel bad spending a lot of money on things that I don´t really need, just want (although I suppose I could argue that I need peanut butter . . . .) If you can´t that´s fine but I would really love some. Also some bobby pins, directions on how to cook a turkey, some earrings (small and nonexpensive looking please) and Lamby. I don´t know why I left him at home, bc everywhere I´ve been on the mission, someone has had some kind of comfort object to sleep with. Friends, don´t judge me ;). I can´t really think of anything else right now, unless you want to send a Christmas tree. Haha, jk. I love you all and miss you all and be good and read your scriptures and pray always and don´t do anything I wouldn´t do. And don´t leave your peanut butter out!!


Hermana Chamberlain

PS: Mom, could you figure out some way to get Christi´s emails to me, and to get mine to her??? I really want to know what´s going down with her in Paraguay!!!