Monday, September 27, 2010

Surprise Trip to Guayaquil

Hola todos!!!!

So lots of fun stuff happened this week!! As far as the work goes it was a little difficult, we didn´t find very many people and no one came to church, but some weeks are like that. I´ve learned to brush them off and keep going, because if you let them get you down, you won´t get anywhere right?? Plus even though no investigators came, a lot of the converts did and that made me happy. So anyway, a quick overview of the week-surprise trip to Guayaquil, Camila´s baptism, and we accidentally baptized a minor without the permission of his parents. Yeahhh . . . . don´t worry, I´m going to tell you all about everything!!!

So first off, on Tuesday we had planned out our day, we were gonna go visit a ton of people and we were super excited. Then at about 9-45ish we got a phone call from Elder Guerrero, the secretary. Everyone knows that we´re really afraid of phone calls at night now, due to what happened with HNA Wise, but we answered anyway. HNA Castillo was like oh I have changes, but I didn´t believe her because Camila´s baptism was that Saturday and if she was really being transferred she would have been bawling her head off. What really happened is that HNA Castillo had to renew her visa and the both of us had to be in Guayaquil the next day. We were really excited, because we had been wanting to visit our converts there and now we were going to be able to do it!!! I was especially excited, because with the surprise change I hadn´t gotten to say goodbye to anyone. We packed our bags and hopped the bus to Guayaquil the next day. We arrived around 4-30ish and visited some of HNA Castillo´s converts and then headed off to visit the Flia. Criollo. On the way we saw two people in skirts ahead of us, with a younger guy walking next to them-one gringa and one latina. I saw an opportunity too good to pass up and took off running, leaving HNA Castillo trying to catch me up. When I got to HNA Barker I jumped on her back, threw an arm around her neck and said, DAME TODO!!! (Give me everything!!!!) She of course thought I was a mugger and screamed bloody murder, then turned around, realized it was me and threw her arms around me saying HERMANA!!! VOY A MATARLE!!! (I´m gonna kill you!!!) Hermana Montenegro was also very freaked out, but the guy with them turned out to be Eduardo and he was laughing his head off, just like me. It turns out that they were on their way back from Eduardo´s baptismal interview!!!!! Yes you read right!!!! Eduardo was FINALLY getting baptized!!!! We ended up changing plans and going to Flia. Mendez first. Eduardo took us to his house and told us to hide on the side of the building while he went up and told his family that he had a surprise for them. Then HNA Castillo jumped out with me right behind her, and the looks on their faces were priceless!!! They were so happy to see me it was incredible. HNA Anna told me that when the sisters told them that I had left, Annabelle (the daughter) started to cry. I couldn´t believe that in such short a time I had such a big effect on them-and they´re not even my converts!!! We visited with them for awhile and they are doing so good-HNA Anna has like 3 callings and Eduardo´s getting baptized and everything is just awesome with them. So then we left and went to visit the family that I had been dying to see the whole time-the Flia. Criollo. For some reason I was really nervous when we got there, I dunno why. I knocked on the door and as always, Erika popped her head into the window to see who it was. When she saw me waving at her her eyes widened and she said, HERMANA!!! She opened the door and just stared at me in shock for a second. I gave her a big hug and said podemos pasar?? (Can we come in??) Sí sí hermanas pasen!!!! (Yes yes come in!!!!) Then HNA Lourdes saw me and said HERMANA CHAMBERLAIN!!!! So I gave her a big hug too. Wow, you guys cannot even understand what it´s like to see your converts after a long time-and to hear that they´re still going strong in the gospel. HNA Lourdes said that a member of the Seventy had come to visit barrio Bolivar and that the whole family got a picture with him!!! And she has a calling!!! Then HNO Jorge came out and when he saw me, he grabbed my hand with both of his own and shook it hard. He told me that the missionaries only come about once a week now, and I loved his explanation why, he said, "they need to go find new people, and we´re very strong in the church." Ahhh, so incredible to hear that!!! I felt like I could go back to Cuenca in peace, knowing that everyone was doing what they should be doing and that they were receiving blessings. I then told them that I was sorry that I didn´t get to have more time with them, that I hadn´t known I was going to be changed. HNO Jorge looked very serious and said, Hermana, you leaving was a hit that we didn´t expect. Wow-I knew that I missed them but I didn´t know that they missed me too!!! It´s so incredible to see the impact that we have on the lives of other people-even when we don´t realize it!! They promised me that they would write to me and send me a copy of the picture of them with the Seventy (that´s definitely going on my bulletin board fo sho!!!) and we left to visit more of HNA Castillo´s converts. It was so awesome-and the best part is that we have to come back in a few weeks to get HNA Castillo´s censo, so I´ll get to see them again!!!!

So then we came back to Cuenca and finished getting Camila ready for her baptism. We arrived just in time for her interview, but when we got to the church Elder Smith and Elder Fletcher asked us, hey is there another man here??? Uhhhh-NO. So Elder Smith, our district leader, looked around, saw some random guy walking in the other direction and took off running, shouting HEY EXCUSE ME SIR!!!! HNA Castillo, Elder Fletcher, Blanca and Camila and I just stared in amazement for a second, then Elder Fletcher smiled and said, "that´s my companion!!!" and went to join him. The guy ended up coming in to accompany Elder Fletcher while Elder Smith was in the interview, but it was just really funny and random. Then this past Saturday she was baptized and it was incredible. She cried through the whole thing, start to finish, but tears of happiness obviously (and I can´t really judge because I was crying too). Blanca was so happy too, she´d been waiting for a long time for this moment and it had finally come. The next day Camila came to church in a skirt that she had bought especially for her confirmation. So even though no investigators came to church, the confirmation of Camila made it a very happy day.

Buuuut . . . . we messed up with Leonel and we could have been in HUGE trouble if his mom wasn´t so cool. So when HNA Wise and HNA Barker first started teaching Leonel, he told them that he was 18. When we asked him, he also told us that he was 18. And when Elder Freeman, the old district leader, interviewed him, he also thought that he was 18. But he wrote the date 15 March 1993 on the baptism record, without realizing that this date meant that Leonel was SEVENTEEN. Well we didn´t figure it out either until last week when the zone leaders called asking for the baptismal permission slip. I was like, what are you talking about?? He´s 18!!!! (Sidenote-I was hugely grumpy because when they called we were in bed and it was almost 10-30, plus Elder Sanchez kept referring to Leonel as "her" until I finally said IT´S A MAN!!!!! So it´s possible that Elder Sanchez might hate me now, but I´m not hugely concerned about it.) Anyway, the zone leaders said that the office was calling asking for the permission slip and we were like well we don´t have one because he told us he was 18, and furthermore why is the office calling at TEN THIRTY???? (Other sidenote-the zone leaders ended up calling twice that night, once at 10-23ish when I was lying in bed and then at 10-34ish when I had gone back to bed. This means that I had to get out of bed twice and as I was very tired, this only served to make me more grumpy.) We finally told them that we would figure it out the next day because obviously there was nothing we could do about it at that moment and I went back to bed, fuming. The next day we called HNA Wise, who told us that Leonel told HER that he was 18, and then we asked Evelyn, Leonel´s little sister, and she said he was 18 and about to turn 19. So then we were like okay we´re gonna ask his mom. Fortunately we had met his mom the week before and talked to her and she´s totally cool with us. She came out and told us that he actually really was 17-which means that as I mentioned earlier, we had accidentally baptized a minor without the permission of his parents. But she was cool with it, she signed the permission slip although when we asked her to do it she looked confused and said, but he was already baptized . . . . . We were like we know but if you don´t sign it we´re gonna be in a lot of trouble!!! Oooohh, can you imagine how much trouble we would have been in if Leonel´s mom hadn´t been cool with his baptism?? I don´t even want to think about it!!!

But other than that, it was a pretty uneventful week. My one year mark was great, because I was in Guayaquil and then we had Camila´s baptism, although I STILL haven´t tried cuy because every time something else comes up and we have to cancel with Flia. San Martin. Hopefully this week or next week. It´s completely weird to think that I´ve been out for a year, it went so fast that I didn´t even realize it. Fortunately I still have 7ish months left to be here in Ecuador preaching the gospel!!! I don´t even want to think about how weird it´s gonna be to come home, I´m sure I´ll be completely freaked out and cry all the time and not even be able to go to the bathroom by myself without someone coming with me and what the heck am I gonna do with the rest of my life?? I have to figure that out and get a job and maybe go back to school and date and it´s just gonna be so strange and I´ll have to speak English all the time and it´s hard enough to write these emails without throwing in random Spanish words and plus there will only be white people around me and that´s just gonna be so WEIRD.

Yeah. Thank goodness I still have 7ish months!!!!

Well, love you all. Do everything you should be doing!!!

Hermana Chamberlain

Monday, September 20, 2010

This is the Happiest I Have Ever Been in My Life!


First off, thanks for the advice about the popcorn, mom and dad. Now we know that we need to put oil in first. I´m sure you guessed that we didn´t do that . . . . . . yeah. The pan is clean but it still smells like smoke, and all my clothes that I took to Loja also smelled like smoke. But we just laugh about it now.

So Loja was fun, very different from Cuenca because the people there are ridiculously Catholic but they´re still working with some pretty cool people. I got to go to a wedding too . . . . . somehow this couple got baptized 7 years ago without getting married. No one knows how they did it, but this past friday they FINALLY got married and it was super cool. Even though for having gone to the wedding I ended up coming back to Cuenca really late and by myself-but it was worth it. I didn´t even get in trouble!! But I did feel bad because the other sisters ended up having to wait in the terminal for me for like 5 hours. But we did try to call them. But it´s all good now. Loja is a fun place to visit it, but I don´t really want to work there-I missed Cuenca too much!!!

Anyway, something really super awesome happened while I was gone. I dunno if I´ve ever mentioned Camila. She´s 15 and lives with her mom who was baptized two changes ago, when HNA Wise and HNA Barker were still here. Her mom´s name is Blanca and she has epilepsy and has attacks pretty frequently. The missionaries had been teaching them for a really long time, like a year or something, but they never wanted to get baptized. Finally when HNA Wise and HNA Barker came, HNA Blanca decided that her time was running out. She turned to Camila and said, look, did you hear what they said?? We can be together forever (Camila´s dad doesn´t live with them, I have no idea where he is), we´ll never be separated again. I´m not going to be here with you forever, I´m sick and I don´t have a lot of time left, but with the gospel we don´t have to worry about that. I think we should be baptized. What do you think Camila??? You know what Camila said?? NO. HNA Wise said that it was awful, that she and HNA Barker started bawling and HNA Barker said, your mother just said that she wants to be with you FOREVER and you said NO!!! How is that even possible?? Blanca was really hurt, but she turned to the hermanas and said, I didn´t want to have to do this, but I will. I can´t wait for her, I´m going to be baptized. So she was baptized. When HNA Castillo and I came, Camila still wasn´t a member, but we were talking to her about it every time we came until one day Camila got mad and kind of yelled at us. Right after that we decided to back off, which is just when HNA Wise left. So we´d still been visiting them but we left the whole baptism thing alone. Well, this past week HNA Castillo went to visit them with HNA Coy and she said that they were about to say the closing prayer and she felt that they should ask again, but she had HNA Coy do it bc she wasn´t sure what was going to happen. You know what Camila said?? YES!!!! HNA Castillo said that Blanca jumped up and said, my daughter!!! You want to be baptized?? Camila said, yes mami, I´m ready. She said that everyone started bawling their heads off, and when they called me that night to tell me about it I couldn´t even believe it, I was so shocked!!! I was sad that I couldn´t be there to put the baptismal date on her but I know that HNA Castillo followed the Spirit and it was the right time. Camila will be baptized this Saturday-and now we both know why we´re here in Cuenca. And I´m happy to say that we´re still here!!! Changes were last night and I was nervous all day-I was terrified that President would do something weird and I was not okay with leaving Cuenca. In all my other sectors I´ve felt ready to leave-even in Bolivar, I was ready for a change. But here, I don´t feel like my work is done yet. There´s something else I need to do, someone else I need to find, someone else I have to help. I don´t know what it is but I know that it´s not done yet and so I´m still here. HNA Castillo is still my companion and we´re relieved b-c can you imagine how awful it would have been if Camila had finally decided to be baptized and then one of us left before her baptism??? How awful!!!

Oh yeah, Leonel was confirmed yesterday too. He was very happy. What had happened is that one of his friends asked him to go with him to get a pair of shoes or something, and Leonel was like yeah okay, but you have to bring me back at 9 because I´m being confirmed today. Well obviously the friend didn´t bring him back in time and Leonel felt really bad, but we told him not to worry about it, it wasn´t really his fault. But he did get confirmed, and next week he should get the priesthood-which means he´ll be able to baptize his little sister, who has a date for October 16.

Things are fantastic. This is the happiest I have ever been in my life. The people are great, the atmosphere is great, my companion is great and we are working really hard. I love being here and I love being a missionary. This is the church of Jesus Christ, the only one. He directs it through a living prophet. He wants our families to be together forever and through His gospel and His Atonement, we can do that.

Les amamos todos. Sigan adelante y guarden los mandamientos!!!

Hermana Chamberlain

Monday, September 13, 2010

Burnin' Down the House!


Well, another big surprise!!! Guess where I am??? Cuenca?? No!! Guayaquil?? Tampoco!!! I am in . . . . LOJA!!!!!

Don`t freak out!!!! I didn`t get emergently tranferred, I´ll be back in Cuenca on Saturday. What`s happening is that President is giving a capacitation to all the zone leaders, district leaders and senior companions. Hermana Castillo and I tecnically have the same time in the mission, but she came to Ecuador while I was still in the MTC, so President decided that she was going to stay in Cuenca and be capacitated and I was going to go to Loja. All the senior companions from Loja are going to Cuenca, so we had to come down here to hang out with the people in Loja. So I´m with Hermana Montezuma, who is from Esmeraldas, Ecuador (it`s part of the Quito Mission) and we`re having a killer time. Hermana Montezuma was trained by Hermana Montenegro, so we`re getting along really well, haha.

Well, remember when I said that I was worried about the trial of faith that I knew was coming?? It came this week!!!! Leonel was baptized on Saturday, he was really excited, came early and everything. We told him to be at church on time the next day so that he could be confirmed. Well, we got there right behind the Flia Flores that lives right in front of him, who brought his little sister Evelyn. We were like, oh, Leonel must be here already!!! But when we asked her, she said he didn`t come!!!! WHAAAATTT??? We spent the next 15 minutes calling but he didn`t answer. Finally we got a hold of his mom, who said that he was sick and had just left to go to the doctor or something, but we weren`t completely sure if that`s what she said or not. But he never showed up and by the end of church we were just feeling miserable-this is the first time that something like this has happened to me in the mission. It was a huge bummer and we never did get ahold of him all that day, and then we had to explain to the district leaders and the zone leaders what happened and that we actually had no idea what was going on with him because we hadn´t been able to talk to him all day and it was pretty embarrassing, but they were all really nice about it. But I felt bad because I knew I had to leave the next day and there wouldn`t be anything I could do about it in Loja, plus I felt bad that I was leaving HNA Castillo all by herself to talk to President about it. But we really did do everything in our power, and we`re pretty positive that something relatively awful happened to keep him from coming, because he was really excited about being baptized. He`ll be confirmed next week, I know it!!!!

But we`ve been working hard, finding and teaching. We found this really cool lady in a tienda this week, named Carmen. She understood everything we were teaching her, and I was pretty much filling out her baptismal record in my head while we were teaching her. Everyone else is doing good. We`re working hard and seeing the results.

We had a HILARIOUS experience yesterday-we almost burned the house down!!! The house didn`t burn down, which is why it was hilarious. So last night we decided that we wanted popcorn, but all we had was the kernels and the stove. Okay, neither of us had ever made popcorn over the stove before but we were sure we could do it. HNA Castillo put it in the pan, turned on the stove, and I went to go pack a bag for Loja. When I came back in I said, hey it smells like it`s burning, but we took the lid off and it was fine, so we went back to packing. A few minutes later I came back and noticed that the kitchen was filled with smoke-I took the lid off and the popcorn was completely black!!!! AUGHH!!! We ended up having to open every window in the house because the whole place FILLED with smoke, it was hilarious!!!! But we were sad because we really wanted popcorn, haha.

Now for the questions-Elder Caro called me and he was able to get the package out, but I haven´t gotten it yet and will probs not get it until next week. And all the warm clothes came and I am very happy!!! It`s like I went shopping even though it`s all clothes that I already had!!!

Well I wanted to write more but this keyboard sticks like crazy and is driving me up the wall. Love you all and sigan adelante!!!


Hermana Chamberlain

Monday, September 6, 2010

Have I Said Yet How Much I Love Cuenca?


The Lord blessed us a lot again this week!!!!! The members helped us out incredibly-all the lessons we had this week were with a member present and in a member´s home. The ward here has really reached out to us-even though we´re new, they´ve showed us that they love us and that they´re excited about the work. It´s a great thing to see!!!

So in church yesterday, we had a little bit of a scare. Leonel had to come because if he didn´t he wouldn´t be able to get baptized this Saturday. So yesterday morning we called him. No answer. We called the family that lives in front to go get him. They showed up without him!!!! AHHHHH!!!!! Fortunately, right after the sacrament, he walked in with his little sister. PHEW!!!! Suddenly my awful day was changed into the best day ever. I smiled, thought about what a beautiful world it was and said to myself, Heavenly Father really does answer missionary prayers first. We ended up having 5 investigators in church yesterday, which is incredible for Cuenca. Our area where we work is really good, considering that everyone says that Cuenca is difficult. But the only challenge that we´ve really run into here is finding new people-contacting here is a lot tougher than it is in Guayaquil, so we really rely on member references. But it´s better that way because then they`re more prepared to hear the gospel!!! Anyway, my point was is that Leonel came and will be baptized this Saturday and is super excited. We are too!!!!

Speaking of excitement, yesterday the members introduced us to Hermano Juan Pedro, who apparently has been coming to church for TWO YEARS but the missionaries have never taught him. Well, we taught him and now he´s gonna get baptized. The only bad thing is that he lives like an hour away, so we can´t teach him very often, but we´ll figure it out. He´s excited, we´re excited, everyone´s really excited. Alamos is fantastic. I heart Cuenca. A lot.

We are working hard and the Lord is helping us because of it. We were a little worried because we couldn´t find Jose or Javier this week-Javier was moving to a new house and was really busy and Jose-well we had no idea what was going on with him because everytime we came he was gone!!! But on Friday we found him again and he told us that he had been in a class but it got over that Saturday and that the next week he would be available and that he wanted to come to church. We didn´t see him on Sunday but we´ve also only been able to teach him one time so it´s probably more our fault than his. But it was funny because we were in his shop talking to him and all of a sudden we looked out the door and saw Elder Johnson, one of the zone leaders, with Elder Match, the other district leader of the zone standing outside. We were like, uhhh what are they doing here, just as Elder Match said what are you doing here??? This is my sector!!!! Ummmm . . . . . NO IT ISN´T!!! So then we had a small "discussion" that ended with us all agreeing to call the historian and figure it out. Apparently the limits have been messed up for years, but we definitely have converts that live in the sector that apparently belongs to Elder Match. Later Elder Johnson called us and I asked if they had figured it out, and he said no but to keep teaching HNO Jose anyway. Thank you, we will. Javier is still AWOL so we we´re waiting for the word from Jorge to see when we can get over there again. But Julia and Jose Miguel, the ones that have to go back to Peru to get married, are doing awesome, just that they´re worried that they´re not gonna have enough money to go back to actually get married. But we´re gonna help them with that, the ward is going to sell empanadas or something if it turns out that they need help. But they´re so great. Everyone we work with is so great. I just love Cuenca.

OHH. Hermana Foster, if you´re reading this, WE FOUND GISELLE!! Remember the girl that was gonna get baptized but then her mom came and convinced her not to?? I´ve been thinking about her ever since I got here and then we found her in a bus when HNA Wise was still here except we didn´t know it was her, but she asked about HNA Prater and you and everything. Then on Saturday I was looking through the area book for old investigators and I found her record and was like that´s her!!! So we called her and she told us we could come visit her again!!!!! We´ll get her baptized this time, don´t you worry.

Funny story that happened just today. We decided to go to the mall today, which is a little far away from the house, and before we left I asked HNA Castillo if she thought we needed to ask permission to go. After a few minutes we decided we didn´t need permission because come on, we´ve never needed permission to go to the mall before, so off we went. After walking around awhile and deciding that the mall´s not really worth the time we spent there, we went down to eat. We were waiting in line and HNA Castillo all of a sudden said, oh my gosh!!!! All the elders are here!!!! Uhhh . . . . well I guess we´ll find out whether or not we need permission!!! They all came up and shook our hands and were like hey, we just went bowling!!!! Uhhhh . . . thanks for inviting us!!!!! After they left I looked at HNA Castillo and said, guess we don´t need permission to come to the mall!!! So yeah, the elders didn´t invite us to their zone activity, but that`s okay. Next time we´ve already decided that we´re going bowling without them .

Well, can´t really think of anything else to say. I love Cuenca. I love being a missionary. Yesterday in testimony meeting I was thinking about how this is the best decision I´ve ever made and that I´m realizing that what dad said in my blessing before I left is true-that I would look back on my mission as one of the happiest times in my life. I am incredibly happy. My companion is awesome. My ward is awesome. Cuenca is awesome-and I understand now why I need to be here. Things are going so good that I´m almost nervous as to what´s going to happen in the future-I´m sure a trial of faith is coming. But I´ve had a lot of those in my mission and in my life-I know I can overcome it with the Lord´s help.

I love you all. I miss you all but not too much. This is the church of God. He loves us because we are His children. He talks to His prophet today and though His gospel we can come back to live with Him forever. This is the ultimate goal. Never lose sight of it!!!


Hermana Chamberlain