I´ve been putting off the real email because you´re probably not going to like it. But here goes......
Well, this is the "secrets revealed" email. I was going to wait until I got home to tell you all that this had happened, or at least until I got changed out of the sector, but now I have to tell everyone because I need some things replaced. But please do NOT freak out, HNA Foster and I are both perfectly fine and we´ve taken precautionary measures. We just need upgraded prayers for our safety and well-being.
We were robbed yesterday. And . . . it´s not the first time that it´s happened either. The first time was the second week of my second change here, the week after Linda and Andrea got baptized. We were walking over to visit them and their family and the cell phone rang, so I took it out and started talking as we were walking. I had a feeling that I shouldn´t but I thought, oh nothing´s ever happened, we`ll be fine. HNA Foster was a few feet in front of me and we were walking, I was still talking and we stopped to cross the street. A man passed HNA Foster and she thought, he´s going to rob HNA Chamberlain-he´s going for the phone!!! (She told me this afterwards-by the time she turned around to do something it was too late.) Sure enough, he walked right past her, came straight at me, grabbed one of my elbows and stuck a knife at the other one and started pushing me behind a pillar, saying, te mato te mato, dame el telefono!!!! I was so freaked out that I just dropped it on the ground and ran over to where HNA Foster was standing. When the guy bent down to grab the pieces of cell phone (it broke when it hit the ground) I saw that the knife he had wasn´t more than an inch long (but long enough to do damage, for sure) and then he stood up and ran away through the traffic. He didn´t touch my bag or HNA Foster´s bag and he didn´t hurt us, but when I figured out that I had just been a victim of armed robbery, I started shaking, hyperventilating and crying, while HNA Foster is completely calm, saying, well guess we need to go call president now!!! Then all these people came and were like, give her some water!!! Then they told us that we had to put our cell phones down our shirts, to which we replied yeah right!!! But it was super awful, the next day I was afraid to leave the house but I sucked it up and went and of course we were fine. And we´ve been fine up until yesterday.
So what happened yesterday is that we had been having a super awful day. First, I accidentally left the cell phone in a taxi, and although we called and called and called, the taxista kept turning it off after 3 rings. So we had to call in for a new one and I felt absolutely horrible about it because really, I must be like an office legend now. Who else has gone through 3 cell phones in two months?? So then we left to go out and work and all of our appointments were falling through and people were being jerks and no one wanted to let us in to talk to them and it was just super frustrating. So finally we go find the Fam. Mendez and Eduardo says I have to talk to you hermanas. Super. But it turns out that he wanted to talk to us because he feels like he´s trying really hard to do the right things but it´s never good enough for his parents, no matter what he does. He even started crying right there in front of us. It was nuts, but we were happy because it means he´s coming around, getting a little bit more humbled. Anyway so I opened my bag to get my scriptures and I saw my camera, which I thought I had taken out because only an idiot would carry around valuable stuff after already having been robbed once, and I was like dang!!! What is that doing in there?? I´m taking it out as soon as we get home. So then we went and talked to HNO Jorge, who told us that he´s not going to church and not reading his scriptures and not praying because there´s just too much opposition and his family is horrible and Eduardo is malcreado (see?? Eduardo´s got a point.) and blah blah blah. Well we spent a lot of time on that, I shared D&C 121:7-9 with him and we left him a tiny bit better, and then we went to go visit Jacklin and her daughter Yuri, who´s getting baptized in 3 weeks. Well, turned out that Jacklin wasn´t there so we started walking to Fam. Suarez´s house to tell them that we weren´t going to bring them over there. We were standing on one side of the street and I looked over and saw a man standing on the other side. He was wearing blue plaid shorts and a white shirt and looked totally normal except as soon as I saw him I thought "He´s a robber-he´s going to try to rob us!!!!" But it was so quick and he looked so ordinary that I forgot about it almost as soon as I thought it. We crossed the street and were walking and all of a sudden I heard running footsteps behind us and then he jumped, I think to scare us. We turned around and that same guy grabs HNA Foster´s arm and tries to take her bag. She resisted and I had let my guard down and was watching the whole thing (when you get robbed, you don´t realize what´s going on until after it´s happened and all your stuff is gone,) so when he couldn´t get HNA Foster´s bag, he grabbed mine before I even knew what was happening and took off down the street. Scriptures, hymnbook, planner, and worst of all, camera and all the pictures I´ve taken since I got to Bolivar-gone forever. I just looked at HNA Foster and was like, can we just go home??? This time I wasn´t even scared-I was really REALLY ticked off. I wanted to find the robber and punch him in the face and make him sorry that he ever messed with me (he didn´t have any weapons that we could see, so I was a little braver about seeing him again this time.) Seriously I still am SO angry. And it was just so awful after having such a bad day to have this happen-AGAIN. I won´t lie to you all-I cried myself to sleep last night because I was just so upset, but now I´m better. Not totally fine, but better. It was like a Jenga tower-you keep taking more and more blocks out until finally the tower falls. Being robbed for the second time made my tower fall down, and I just couldn´t take it anymore. But the Spirit really helped comfort me last night-I felt that even if they robbed me until I had nothing left, I had to keep going. There are people here that need my help and I can´t just stay inside all day-I have to go find them and help them. I just cried because I felt like I needed to-like that Hilary Weeks song. Sometimes you´ll be fine and you know it, but you just need to bawl your head off first. And then you feel better, and you can keep going.
What´s the upside of this week?? Yuri´s dad signed the permission slip so that she could be baptized. And we found Catalina last Sunday. Turns out that she´s had to stay after school almost every night this week because it´s exams, but we taught her on Wednesday and the Spirit was super strong. This fear that she has about her Catholic school is literally the only thing keeping her from being baptized. But she did say she´d come to church. Eduardo is coming around, slowly but surely-it´s huge that he trusted us enough to tell us about what was happening with his parents. Maria and Nayely were passing through problems in their ward but now they´re better. We found some really good people to teach this week and we got a lot of references from members. It really was a much better week than last week-until yesterday. I really feel that something absolutely amazing is going to happen this change-and that´s why the adversary is attacking us so hard. Who knows what it is, but something incredible is going to happen. You all wait and see.
So what are we doing to prevent ourselves from getting robbed for a third time??? Well first of all, I´ll never brush off a warning from the Spirit like that again. The only thing we´re carrying around with us is a copy each of the Book of Mormon and a bunch of pamphlets. So what do we do with the few dollars we need, and our house keys, and the cell?? (when the new one comes) Well, we´re officially guayaquileña now because we´re sticking it down our shirts like everyone else. Plus we´re giving anyone who even looks like they might be a robber the evil eye. (We´ve both become ridiculously paranoid-it´s kind of funny actually.) Trust me though, if this happens again, that guy is going to be sorry he ever messed with us, because I´m gonna punch SOMETHING-perferably something that hurts a lot and will help him remember that he should probably leave the hermanas alone in the future. Okay probably not, but I´d sure like to. That´s probably unrighteous of me, but then again, I´m sick of getting robbed!!!!
Sooooo . . . . . I´ve added something else to my birthday list-a new camera, or money so that I can buy one and a memory card here (that´s probably safer.) Everything else I can replace here, but I don´t want to go the rest of my mission without a camera. It won´t get stolen again, that I can promise you all-I really did think I had taken it out of my bag. If you want to make that a birthday gift, could you do it early so I can take pictures again as soon as possible?? Also, PLEASE don´t call President Montalti-he already knows what happened and we´re not sure what he´s going to do, leave us in the sector or take us out and put elders there (although elders are gonna get robbed too so he might as well just leave us there.) Please PLEASE don´t flip out and think that I´m going to die-we really are just fine and generally nothing happens to us, although Mom and Dad, maybe after reading this email you won´t want to come to Ecuador anymore, haha. But I hope you´re brave and come anyway, because that would be super cool and fun.
Well, I´m sure you all want to hear about President and Hermana Montalti but the truth is I don´t know a ton about them, really. We had a meeting with them on Thursday and there will be some changes, like how frequently we´re having zone conference and interviews and all that, and also other things, but I don´t really know what´s going to happen yet. Just know that we are in good hands, both the Montaltis are really nice and loving. When we called to tell them about the robbery they were so good to us, even though it was their 3rd day in Ecuador and already a crisis had happened (although with the number of elders in Guasmo, we probably weren´t the first ones to call and tell them we´d been robbed.) But they are great and I am excited to work with them. It will be fantastic.
Well, sorry this email was such a downer. And I´m sorry that I kept it a secret from you all, I´m sure Mom´s just ready to kill me, but I didn´t want you all to worry and I still don´t. We really are fine, and we´re going to be fine. Things are going to get better in our program, it´s just a big trial of our faith with some crazy opposition, but it´s all going to be fine. Just pray that we´ll be safe and find the people that Heavenly Father has prepared to hear the gospel and everything will be okay. This is the Lord´s work, He directs it and He loves and watches over His authorized servants. That´s me!!!!