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-aniñados!!!) 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

Monday, March 7, 2011

Training Again!


So this is it-my last transfer in the mission.  Can you guys believe it??  I sure can't.  Today the zone leaders gave me my last planner and I thought it was just another planner and then it hit me-this is my LAST ONE OMG.  It was so unbelievable to me that I just couldn't really wrap my mind around it but at the same time I was like I AM GOING HOME IN SIX WEEK WTH.  (I'm even starting to talk in text message talk again, how sad.)  More about this later, we have more important things to talk about right now.

So, given that changes have been on Wednesday for the last 2 transfers, we were all positive that this transfer wouldn`t be any different.  Yesterday I wasn't even thinking about changes, but as we walked up the stairs to our house a thought crossed my mind-oh yeah, changes are tonight.  As we opened the third door (our house has three doors, we're very safe) the phone started ringing and Elder Saban and I had the following conversation:

Elder Saban- Hey Hermana Chamberlain, how's it going??

Hermana Chamberlain: Good!!  How are you??

Elder Saban: Good!!  Ready for your changes??

Hermana Chamberlain: Oh!!  Uhhh . . . sure, guess so!!

Elder Saban:  Okay.  Hermana Robison's leaving.  She's going to Guayaquil.

Hermana Chamberlain: ........WHAT????

Elder Saban: Yep.  And you're gonna train again.

Hermana Chamberlain: ...........WHAT???

Elder Saban:  Yeah.  So your companion is coming on Tuesday and you need to find a member to hang out with you till then.

Hermana Chamberlain: Oh . . . . I can't hang out with the sisters from Argelia??

Elder Saban: Uhhh . . . no.  They're both going to Guayaquil too.

Hermana Chamberlain: Oh.  Uhhh . . . . alright.  I'll figure something out.

Elder Saban: Cool.  So we'll see you in the terminal at 9 tomorrow.

Hermana Chamberlain:  .......Okay.  (thinking: are you serious right now??)

So Hermana Robison is gone after just 6 weeks with her mom, and I'm apparently having another daughter.  Her name is Hermana Cochran and she's from the States too but that's all I know about her right now.  My district leader Elder Johnson is training too and pretty much everyone in the zone went to Guayaquil.  But looks like I'm gonna end here in the mountains with another newbie!!  I'm excited to meet her and train her-I loved training HNA Robison, it was so fun and she really got to love the people here and the work, so I'm excited to help my new companion with that.  It will be a good way to end the mission-training, with my fun zone and the great people that we're working with.  But I was a little bummed about HNA Robison leaving-it would have been fun to end with her!!!

So this week while I was gone my companion rocked it up in our sector and put a baptismal date with Isabel and with another guy named Giovanni that we found a couple weeks ago.  Isabel still has a lot of doubts and so she'll need some more work, but I was SO PROUD of HNA Robison because she put her first baptismal date with Giovanni and she said he was just smiling from ear to ear when he said yes!!  Unfortunately, everyone leaves town for Carnavale and no one was in church, but that's okay, even most of the members didn't show up.  We went to teach someone with HNA Maria Jesus (who incidentally is my companion for the day) and then, finding that he wasn't there, proceeded to help her figure out what she wanted to do with her life (she's gonna go on a mission!!!  YAAAAY!!!)  Then we went and visited her non member brother and his less active wife.  It was fun!!  They were really nice. 

So that's whats going on with me right now.  Not very exciting but we did have some fun week highlights:  Being companions with HNA Laime again for a couple days.  Bonding with HNA Velasquez and HNA Moran.  Not dying of heatstroke in Machala.  Singing the Spanish version of Come Thou Fount with Elder Johnson in the capacitation.  Being asked to sing the next day too.  Singing a minor acapella verse of A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief and making up a random harmony on the spot that sounded amazing.  Eating at San Viernes, a really delicious hamburger restaurant in Machala.  Being treated to a marathon of Jean Claude Van Damme movies on the bus ride home (I hate when they play movies on the bus, it's so hard not to watch.)  Listening to a lady hawk a bowel-cleansing product on the same bus.  Laughing hysterically when she asked, how many of you know the number of times we should go to the bathroom every day (I'm serious, there were tears coming out of my eyes.)  Listening to my companion tell me all the things that had happened while I was gone.  Contacting two drunk people who told us straight up-I drink too much but I want to change my life.  Watching people buy cigarrettes and telling them that they shouldn't be smoking.  Getting drenched in cold water by a truck full of guys.  Finding a delicious Mexican restaurant in our sector.  Buying a can of Carnavale foam and spraying everyone that sprays me.  Getting hit in the face by a bunch of it right before church.  Finding out that HNA Robison will be taken very good care of by one of my former companions in Guayaquil, HNA Castillo.  Being excited to train again.  Hanging out with Maria and ruining her Carnavale (just kidding Maria, I love you!!)  Eating food.  Loving life.  Being a missionary!!!

Familia les amo muchisimo y quiero que sigan adelante y hagan lo correcto siempre.  Ya nos vemos!!


Hermana Chamberlain

Monday, February 28, 2011

Off to Machala for the Week

Quick note from Mom:  I read today that Carnavale (Mardi Gras) starts on Friday and asked if she's ready for another round.  Her response?  "Carnaval=stupidest holiday ever. They're already throwing water balloons at us in the street!!!!"  That reminded me of last year's Carnavale email where she said, "I´m pretty sure that it´s the dumbest holiday ever and that I hate it." (Feb. 22, 2010)  Well, it will be over in a week.

Hola de . . . . . . MACHALA!!!!!

No, I didn't get emergently transferred!!! I'm just here for the capacitations. Last night the zone leaders called at 9:30ish to inform us that we had to be in the terminal at 9:30 the next morning so that we could go to Machala. So here I am, companions with HNA Moran again because my compy stayed in Loja with HNA Salmon. When I informed her that I would be going and she would be staying, she looked confused and said, how's that gonna work?? Neither of us can speak Spanish!!! Por favor. She's gonna rock it and when I come home they're probs be 10 people with fechas. But I am sad that she's not with me.

On to more important things. So this week we had a way cool experience. We had contacted this lady, Maria, outside of Lady's house like forever ago. This week we came around the corner and bumped right into her. We asked her if we could come visit her the next day and she said yes. The next day we didn't have a lot of time to teach her so we just whipped out the Book of Mormon and started talking about it and shared a scripture from it. The whole time the Spirit was way strong and she was staring at the BOM looking like she was gonna cry. We asked her if she would read it and she said yes. Then I thought-we've taught her pretty much nothing about the Restoration . . . . . but I´m gonna see if she wants to be baptized. So I asked her-if you come to know that these things are true, will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God?? She was silent for awhile and finally said-I believe so. It was so incredible-I cannot even describe how strong the Spirit was in this moment. We set the date and left, feeling incredible. Although we haven't been able to get in there to teach her since and she couldn't come to church this Sunday, HNA Robison and HNA Salmon have an appt. to go tomorrow and they're gonna rock it. I just know it.

We also had a breakthrough moment with Isabel this week. We read the intro to the BOM with her and just asked her how she was feeling and if she had any questions. She said, you know what?? I don't have as many questions as I did, and I don't know why. But I am convinced that Joseph Smith was a prophet. This was so unexpected that we just looked at her for a second, and she continued saying, I had an experience that I think could be an answer to my prayers, but I have to think about it some more. I was talking to Diego and all of a sudden something just crossed in my head, it was like a flash, I don't know how to explain it. But I think I need to meditate about it some more. We were just like . . . . . this is AWESOME!!! We explained to her that when we get answers from the Spirit, sometimes we can't explain them very well, but we know that they're answers from God. She smiled and looked really happy. We are so happy for her too-she is progressing really well and although she still doesn't have a baptismal date yet, I think she'll be baptized soon. She came to church this week and even said the closing prayer in Relief Society. We love her!!!!

Last night the sisters from Argelia had a Why I Believe fireside. We brought Isabel and it was amazing. The Spirit was sooooooo strong and I just felt an incredible feeling of happiness and joy to be around so many people who were strong in the gospel. For those who don't know, a Why I Believe fireside is when people share their conversion stories. Isabel really liked it and I think it will really help her in her progress. Afterwards we ate delicious tamales and got caught in the rain looking for a taxi. A delightful way to end the week.

I had a cool experience on Saturday too. We went up to Zamora Huayco to look for someone, and he ended up not being home. HNA Robison looked at me and asked, now what are we gonna do?? I had no idea, so I asked the Lord, where do we go now?? The answer came to me right away-Chela. We walked up to her house, knocked on the door and her 20 year old daughter Gabi came out. Chela wasn`t home. Another thought came to my head-contact her. So we told Gabi that we were missionaries and that we had a message about Jesus Christ and we wanted to share it with her sometime. She said, right now?? This was so unexpected to me that I was like . . . . do you have time right now?? She said yes!! Come in!!! So we went in, sat down and got to know her and her friend Jenny that lives there too. I had no idea what to teach, but then remembered that I had a copy of Finding Faith in Christ in my bag and asked if we could watch it with them. They said yes and we put it in, sang I Am a Child of God, which they loved, said a prayer and started to watch the movie. About halfway through, Maria Fernanda, Gabi's little sister, walked in and asked, whatcha guys watching?? She sat down to watch too and at the end they all said that they loved it and that they wanted to hear more about the Restoration. Although they're going out of town for 3 weeks and we can't go back until then, it was an incredible testimony of the power of the Holy Ghost and it's importance in the work. All three of them are super cool and we will definitely be going back!!!!

So lately a lot of people have been asking us how we knew that the church was true and we've been sharing our experiences with getting answers to our prayers about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. I thought I'd share mine with you all. I think I was about 14 or 15 years old and I don't remember very well exactly what happened but I remember that I knelt down to pray at my bedside one night and asked Heavenly Father if the Book of Mormon was true. I remember feeling peace and tranquility but what I remember most was a feeling of happiness. I remember that I had a big smile on my face afterwards. And that's how I knew that everything that my parents had taught me for all my life was absolutely true. I always tell the investigators that I was born and raised in the church, but even I had to kneel down and ask Heavenly Father if it was true. I know it is-there's no doubt in my mind or heart that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that Joseph Smith was His prophet.

Week highlights: Walking dogs for our Wednesday morning service. Going up to a new part of Zamora Huayco and finding a lot of great people. Making no bake cookies in our apartment. Going to the zoo with our district leader, his companion and the other sisters. Eating pizza. Teaching HNO Carlos, the nonmember husband of HNA Maria Luisa that comes to church every Sunday but has never wanted the missionaries, for the first time. Finding out that he's really cool. Hearing him say-I hope you can come back soon. Seeing Lady in church again when we hadn't visited her all week. Visiting the district president and getting to know his family. Waking people up to tell them to come to church. Getting yelled at by a crazy old (and possibly drunk) man. Finding nine new investigators. Developing Christlike attributes. Realizing that I am in love with Loja and everything about it-the people, the food, my companion, my district, the scenery and even the Virgencita. Finding out that I am a daughter of Mary because my palms have M's in them (long story). 6 hour bus ride to Machala. Talking to Elder Johnson the whole time. Seeing HNA Laime again (she goes home in a week!!! Can you believe it??) Not worrying about leaving my companion in the sector by herself. Knowing that she's gonna rock it. Pea and banana soup. Empanadas de verde. Lentil menestra and rice. Feeling the Spirit. Loving life. Being a missionary!! (HNA Robison's one liners did not make the list this week, not because they weren't funny, just because I can't remember any of them. Stay tuned next week.)

Well, time to go again. I'll be hanging out here in Machala until Friday or Saturday to be capacitated. Pray that I don't die of heatstroke-it's so hot here that I kind of feel like I can`t breathe. But I`m dealing. Hasta la proxima semana, les amo mucho y hagan lo correcto!!!


Hermana Chamberlain

Monday, February 21, 2011

Smell That? That's SATAN!


This week was pretty cool. The whole church thing didn't come together like last week, but we were excited to see Lady there, once again. Plus we started teaching a member´s girlfriend, Isabel, who is really great. Teaching her is a little interesting because she's actually from Germany, but her mom is from Argentina, so she grew up speaking German and Spanish, but her first language is German. She's really fluent but sometimes she has questions or doubts that she can't explain very well. But she's great, and although she doesn't want to accept a baptismal date yet, we're really excited about her because she's progressing really well. When she prayed at the end of the lesson she said, Heavenly Father, help me not to be so full of doubts!!! I thought that was really funny, and it showed that even though she does have doubts, which is natural, she wants to know the truth. Pray for her!!!

So after church, we decided to go over to Lady's house and give her what we like to call the "franca" in other words, we ask her what her problem is and why she hasn't been baptized yet when she's been to church like 7 times. So we went in, sat down and said, all the members are asking when you're getting baptized (which is completely true.) She thought about that for a second and said . . . . really?? Uhhh . . . YES!!!! So we sat there for about an hour hashing out all her doubts. I loved it because we were so direct it was not even real. She said, well what about the Virgin?? We said, okay Lady, lookit. It is NOT okay to worship the Virgin, saints, idols, images or anyone else that is not God or Jesus Christ. Then she said, well I don't want to be baptized again bc I was already baptized. We explained the power and authority and how Jesus was baptized and she said, but it's a mockery before God to be baptized again. I had a thought come to my mind, got scared for a second and then thought, what do I have to lose?? I looked at her and said, very plainly, Lady, if God asks us to be baptized like His Son Jesus was baptized, and we don't do it, THAT is a mockery before God. She looked kind of surprised, but we just kept on going. We said, if we don't get baptized the way Jesus was, we're telling Heavenly Father that we don't want to go back to His presence. We're telling Him that we don't want to receive blessings, that we don't want to be with our families, and that we don't love Him, because we're not being obedient to His commandments. She was thinking hard about that too. Then we said, Hermana, do you believe that this is the true church of Jesus Christ?? She said yes. Then we asked her, then why won't you be baptized?? We know that you know that you need to be baptized!!! She said, yeah, you know what?? I actually had a dream the other night that I was standing by the baptismal font. I said, you dreamed that you were being baptized and you STILL DON'T WANT TO BE BAPTIZED??? She laughed and said, I'll let you know sisters. She also told us that she wants the support of her mom, which was something we didn't know before. She also told us that she didn't want to be baptized by herself, that she wanted someone else to be baptized with her. I thought that was kind of interesting, but hey, I'm willing to baptize someone else, always. Anyway, we left that lesson and although she STILL didn't accept a baptismal date and maybe won't, I felt really good. HNA Robison afterwards was like, that lesson was SO GOOD!!! I felt like it was pretty much what Heavenly Father has been saying to her all along. We'll see what happens with her . . . . . hopefully she gets baptized before I go home!!!

So we had a fun experience on Saturday. We were standing outside of the Parque Jipiro waiting for the bus, when we heard a horn honking across the street. We looked over to see President Hernandez and his wife waving to us from the car. We waved back and then in a mixture of yelling and sign language, Pres. Hernandez communicated the message: Talk!!! Both of you!!! Tomorrow!!! I thought I hadn't heard him right at first, but unfortunately I did. He drove away and I was like, he can't be serious!!! When Hermana Robison heard that she had to give a talk too she was like, I can't give a talk!!! I can't even speak Spanish!!! But she rocked it of course. I talked about Pres. Monson's talk from the Relief Society session, Charity Never Faileth. He talks about not judging other people and developing the pure love of Christ and seeing them as they really are. It's a fabulous talk and I recommend it to everyone. We never know what's going on underneath someone's physical appearance, actions, inactions, personality or character. I remembered something that Mom always told me-people hide a lot under their Sunday clothes. We should never judge anyone by anything, and especially by physical appearance. Instead of judging, we should try to understand, instead of criticizing, we should try to love. Every single one of us has weaknesses, and the last thing we want or need is someone to point them all out every day. So why would we do it to someone else?? Judge not, that ye be not judged.

So lately I've been a little frustrated because the people we're working with aren't progressing. Although we teach, exhort, sort out doubts, bring the Spirit and pray that they'll do the right things, sometimes they don't. But I've realized that even though it seems like nothing is going right, the Lord is still pleased with what we're doing. He loves us and wants us to be happy, and He has blessed us with new people to teach who do want to progress. Although they have doubts, they have the desire to know the truth, and that will bring them to know it. We just have to keep working and keep being obedient and the success we're looking for will come. I know it will. I was also thinking hard this week and I realized how blessed I was to grow up with the gospel. I was born under the covenant, baptized when I was 8 by my dad, grew up in Young Women's and Young Single Adults. My parents supported me in all my church activities and callings and when I decided to go on a mission they couldn't have been more thrilled. Here in Loja I'm realizing how much of a blessing that was. I have no idea what it's like to grow up thinking that the Catholic church is true and if I'm baptized into another church I'll be damned. I have no idea what it's like to leave traditions that have been passed down for generations of time. I have no idea what it's like to change everything I've believed my whole life in 2 or 3 weeks. I have no idea what it's like to face opposition from my family or friends for listening to the missionaries, going to church or being baptized. I have no idea how difficult it is for some people to accept the gospel because for my whole life I've known it's true and my family and friends have supported me in it. But it's good for me to think like that because I'm becoming more patient with the investigators and I'm loving them more the way Christ does. But please pray for all of them-they face more opposition down here in Loja than any of us have ever imagined.

Week highlights: once again, the one liners of HNA Robison. This is my favorite so far:

(As we're walking by the nightclub near our house, smelling alcohol and cigarrettes) HNA Robison: Smell that?? That's SATAN.

More week highlights: Finally beginning to teach Isabel after wanting to for months. Sunshine every day (although it's raining right now, boo.) Eating bread and ice cream every day. Laughing about the random announcements in district meeting. My favorite: apparently now if we use knives to clean out the ice in our freezer, we will be transferred and bumped down to junior companion. HNA Robison's commentary: What if you're already junior companion?? Cleaning the freezer with knives then became the zone joke of the week. (sidenote:just in case president or the assistants are reading this, neither of us has ever cleaned out the freezer with a knife. Promise.) Teaching HNA Robison how to make patacones. Setting appointments to teach more incomplete families and less actives. Getting to know the members better through visiting them. Translating HNA Robison's talk into Spanish. Hearing her rock it from the pulpit on Sunday. Speaking Spanish. Loving life. Being a missionary!!!!

Well everyone, time to go. Tune in next week for more of the miracles and adventures from the misson life of Hermana Chamberlain!!!


Monday, February 14, 2011

Disappointments and Miracles


This was a week of ups and downs, laughter and tears (okay not tears but lots of sad feelings), disappointments and miracles. Ready to hear all about it?? Yeah?? Bacansisimo.

So this was a very rainy week. Like seriously. After we wrote to you last week we went back to the barbeque to find that the elders had eaten without us (just as I knew deep down they would) and then it started pouring down rain. We had to run out of the park and then spend 20 minutes trying to hail a taxi because no one would stop and pick up 4 completely soaked sister missionaries. Finally someone stopped for us and we all went home, changed and (reluctantly, I admit it) went back out into the monsoon. We ended up finding absolutely nobody that we wanted to teach and coming home just as wet as we had gone out. Boo. The rest of the week it rained on and off and was sooooooo cold that I thought I was still in Cuenca for a little while. But it was fun. We laughed it off and kept going.

We found this lady named Mari Carmen, from Peru. She's way cool, every time we go she's so happy, smiling and laughing. She works at a restaurant, making lunch in the morning and selling chicken wings in the afternoon. The first thing she told us when we came the first time was, Guess what?? I got married!!!! We were way excited too, because do you know how rarely people get married around here?? Finding someone that doesn't have chastity problems is a big deal!!! We put a baptismal date on her, although it took a little convincing, and yesterday we called her to come get her for church, but she was sick in bed. It's cool. Next week.
So we went back to visit Jessenia and Lucia this week and we committed them hardcore to go to church. They were both like, yes this week I am coming, don't worry. We were like yes please, because if you don't you can't get baptized!!! We passed by the Ushcas Sunday morning and they were like, oh yeah we're coming too, see you at 2. We passed by Lady to remind her, ran up to eat lunch and went back down to get everyone. We got to Lucia's, yelled her name and her neighbor came out and what do you think she said?? Oh, she went to the mercado. I just looked at her like . . . . . . seriously?? Even though we visited her last night and she told us that she would go to the mercado in the morning so that she could come to church in the afternoon?? Needless to say, we left empty-handed. We went back to the chapel and sat down to wait for everyone to come who said they would come solo. Guess who came?? Only Lady again. But we were glad to see her.

Sounds like a bummer of a Sunday, right?? WRONG. Remember how I said it was a week of disappointments AND miracles?? Here's where the miracle comes in. So the night before, we were down in the valley trying to get a taxi and NO ONE would stop for us. After about 10 minutes of unsuccessfully trying to hail a taxi, we decided to cross the street and try our luck from there. Not kidding, the first taxi that comes stops, the driver pokes his head out the window and says, hermanas!!! Do you need a taxi??? YES!!! We got in and the driver told us that his name was Giovanni, that he was a member but less active and that he had been baptized in Machala with his mom. He then said that he wanted to reactivate himself and asked when the meetings were the next day. We told him and he said he would be there and then the best part-his wife and kids weren't members. Uhhhh . . . . . OPPORTUNITY. We told him to bring them with him the next day and got out of the taxi. The next day while we were sitting in sacrament meeting, HNA Robison poked me all of a sudden and said, Giovanni's here!! And there he was, with his wife, kids and niece and nephew who also weren't members and just happened to be 10 and 8. Fabulous. Heavenly Father answers prayers-I had been praying to find someone prepared and the Lord gave us three!!! Plus we made plans to teach a sister's husband who always comes to church but up until now hasn't wanted to have the missionary lessons, and we talked to the girlfriend of a member who has been coming to church for awhile but has been a little hesitant about the lessons too. We are cleaning out our program little by little and it's coming together. Is someone going to be baptized this month?? Hopefully, there are a couple people who could, they just have to make the decision. But if they're not, I know they will be eventually, and that's what matters to me.

In my studies lately I've been finding a lot of good scriptures about trusting the Lord. My favorite is 2 Nephi 4-34. I know that when we perfectly trust in the Lord, things don't always go how we want them to but they do go the way He wants them to, and that's what matters.

Highlights of the week-HNA Robison's one liners. We'll just be sitting there quietly and all of a sudden she'll crack one off that makes me laugh hysterically. I love it. Getting hit on by two drunks and then saved by the valiant Mari Carmen (they tried to kiss HNA Robison, which was hilarious until they tried to kiss me too. Gross.) Taking pictures with llamas in the Parque Jipiro. Visiting the ancient and slightly eccentric but very sweet and lovable Carmen Delia, one of the ward members. Being called by Elder Luna at 10 on Saturday night to find out that we had to be in Guayaquil at 8 on Monday morning. Visiting the San Marino mall and having office flashbacks. Talking to HNA Barker. Meeting all the new sisters. Going back to Loja at 1.

Love my companion. Love the people. Love the work. Love the Lord.


Hermana Chamberlain

Monday, February 7, 2011

In Case You Were Wondering, Rats Can't Swim!


Today is P-day and guess what we're doing?? Another zone barbeque!!! And just like last time, we had to sneak out and write our families on the fly because the food was taking FOREEEEVEEEEERRR and we were running out of P-day time. Hopefully when we get back it will be ready because we're really hungry. Okay.

Anyway, we had some good times this week. We found this awesome lady named Lucia, who HNA Bravo and I taught one time and then never found her again, but we went back this week and found her. She totally gets the Restoration, it kind of blows my mind because almost nobody gets it the first time around. She even said, this is really important!!! Yes, yes it is. In fact, it's the most important thing you`ll ever hear in your life. We asked her if she'd go to church and she said yes, so we told her we'd come and get her at 1:30 on Sunday. Obviously we were hugely excited!!

So then the next day we visited Jessenia. We had had an appointment with her the day before but when we went she wasn`t there. This time when we came she told us, I'm so sorry I wasn't here yesterday, I had to go do a school project, but when my niece told me that you were coming back today, I didn't move!!! Cool. We taught her about the Sabbath Day and asked if she'd come to church this week. She said yes but that she'd have to see if they got their house fixing project done on time. We said we'd come get her and left, very happy.

Then we visited Wendy, taught her the same thing and asked if she could come to church. She said she would try, which is better than a flat out no. We left happy.

Now we come to Lady, who was supposed to be baptized this Saturday but at the last minute decided that she wasn't going to be baptized yet. When she told us that I just sat there staring at her like, are you serious right now?? She was really excited and we have no idea what happened to unexcite her. We were thinking and thinking about what could be her problem and we decided that we were going to try a little experiment to see if she really was committed. We decided that we were going to pass by on Sunday morning and tell her that we would see her in the chapel at 2 and then wait there for her to see if she came. If she came by herself, we would keep on going, if not . . . . . well we would see what happened from there.

Sunday comes. We go out in the morning pass by Lady first, tell her to come to church at 2 and keep on going. Then we pass by Lucia, who says, oh yes, yes I'm coming, what time are you guys coming?? We say, 1:30. She says, 1:00?? No, 1:30. Oh yeah yeah, that's fine, I'll be here. Okay. We run up to Zamora Huayco, eat lunch and grab a taxi to go get Jessenia. She comes out and says, oh we just finished the project and now we're going to eat lunch. Okay. Well if you can will you go by yourself?? Oh yeah yeah I'll try. We go up to get some other people who say they're gonna come. They're not home. We run to Lucia, it's exactly 1:30 on the dot. We yell at the door for her and her son comes out. We ask, Lucia?? Is she here?? No, she went to the mercado. Me: .......blank stare, not believing what's happening. I almost said, ARE YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW?? But that would have been rude, and furthermore it doesn't translate to Spanish very well. So we just told him to tell her that we'd come and we left. As we walked to a phone booth we saw Olger walking to church with his little daughter Angye. We asked him where Wendy was and he says that she stayed behind with her little brother who was sick. We tried not to cry about it, went to the phone booth, came back and sat down in church with nobody. I was sitting there trying not to cry. I don't get discouraged very often but this week I was thinking, what more could we possibly have done?? We visited, we taught, we brought the Spirit, we reminded, we called, we reminded again, we went to get them, and nobody came. What more could we have done for our vineyard?? I was sitting there still feeling depressed when all of a sudden I saw somebody come in with two little kids and a baby in her arms. I thought . . . . . it can't be. But it was!!!! Lady had come by herself to church, and brought her two little girls and her little sister too, just like she did every Sunday. Immediately I felt amazing. I felt like even though no one else came, the fact that she did, and came without us going to get her, was huge. I know she'll be baptized-it's just a matter of when.

Time for a funny/gross story. Right outside our house there's a sink to wash clothes in and it has a deep tank right next to it. The drain on this tank isn't great so a lot of times it`s about half full of standing water. So Thursday night I woke up and was about to go back to sleep when all of a sudden I heard a splash outside. I thought . . . . what the heck was that?? Do I get up or do I just keep lying here?? I decided I was too scared to get up, so I stayed in bed listening to whatever it was splash around in the tank. It finally quit and I went back to sleep. The next morning I said to HNA Robison, I heard something splashing around outside last night, I'm gonna go see what it was. I went out, looked into the tank and found a large, dead rat lying at the bottom. EWWWWWWW!!!!!! We were so grossed out that we had no idea what to do about it, so we just left it there for awhile. We asked Elder Johnson and Elder Reuschmann if they wanted to do a service project, but after they heard what it was they said no. Pansies. So we put on our big girl pants and got it out today when we cleaned the house. Way gross. But at least it will quit smelling!!

Well family, friends, and randoms, love you all (yes even the randoms). I love this work, even though it's hard sometimes. I love my companion HNA Robison. I love Loja. I love my zone. I love life, life loves me. Everything in the world makes me happy (except for rats in the tank and people that don't come to church!!)


Hermana Chamberlain

Monday, January 31, 2011

New Pictures!!!

More new pictures on the photos page.  Yeah!!!



So after waiting for 3 days to hear about changes, we finally got them on Tuesday night. The phone conversation went something like this:

Elder Carrillo: Hi Hermana Chamberlain. Ready to go back to Cuenca???

Me: WHAT???

Elder Carrillo: Haha!!! Just kidding. You're not going to Cuenca. (Sidenote: I'm getting so sick of those jokes!!)

Me: Oh. Okay.

Elder Carrillo: But we do have some good news for you. You're going to train a new missionary!!

Me: . . . . . REALLY???

Elder Carrillo: Yes!! Her name is Hermana Robison. We'll call you tomorrow to tell you what time you need to come get her from the terminal.

Me: . . . . . . I'm gonna TRAIN???

So I hung up the phone and couldn't sleep for the rest of the night. Seriously. I was way excited because I've always wanted to train but at the same time I was thinking, how can I possibly train?? What if I'm horrible at it?? What if she hates me?? What if no one gets baptized?? What if all our investigators dump us?? What if what if what if what if . . . . . and finally I thought, well, I can be afraid or I can have faith. I decided to try and have faith, and after that I was a little bit more tranquil, although still nervous!!! I remembered what Travis said about when he was waiting for his newbie to get there, that he was pacing back and forth like a nervous dad, well that's pretty much what I did all day, haha. But now HNA Robison is here and we are just having a blasty blast together down here in Loja. She says that her Spanish is horrible but that's a total lie, she speaks really well for someone that just got here, and the best thing is that she's not afraid to talk like I was. It's just so funny because I'm remembering all the things I felt when I first got here to the mission and I'm seeing her feel all those things too. But she's awesome. She's from Layton, Utah and is loving being down here in Loja with me and we're already having great times together.

So this week we had kind of a miracle happen. Lady, who HNA Bravo and I found last change, has been coming to church for 3 weeks and doing everything that she should be but wouldn't accept a baptismal date. This week we came by every day to find her and she was never there, which is weird because before she was always there!! I was getting really worried until Friday when all of our appointments had fallen through and we were walking to find a phone to call someone and I thought: let's go by Lady just to see if she's there. And she was!!! We talked to her about the Holy Ghost and what it can do in our lives and we asked her, how do we receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost?? She answered, by being baptized. I wasn't going to ask her about baptism because I thought she might have felt pressured, but I felt like I should, so I said, and how have you been feeling about baptism hermana Lady?? She said, well I've been thinking and praying and I'd like to be baptized. I was so shocked at this completely unexpected answer that I just sat there staring at her for a second and then said . . . . . really?? I quickly pulled myself together and said, will you be baptized this Saturday?? She said yes!!! So she's gonna get baptized this Saturday and we are just thrilled to pieces about it. She came to a baptism with us this past Saturday and to church on Sunday and this week we're just gonna make sure she's good on the doctrine and the commandments, she'll have her interview and be baptized!!!! Moral of the story: have faith, be persistent and always listen to the Spirit!!!!

This internet cafe is playing bachata and it's really hard not to listen. Why does Ecuador have better music than us??

More highlights from this week: Lady's little girl Angye and little sister Maria grabbing my water bottle, putting their entire mouths on the opening and sucking down half the contents and then offering it to Hermana Robison, who said, trying very hard not to look grossed out, No gracias. I laughed so hard I about died. Hermana Robison being asked to bear her testimony in sacrament meeting, looking scared to death, but bearing a beautiful testimony in perfect Spanish. Starting to teach Wendy, the 14 year old daughter of a 2 year convert, HNO Olger. Seeing Jessenia, the daughter of an recently activated member, in church for the first time. Teaching a lesson through a locked gate because the lady's husband and left with the only copy of the key to open the padlock. Walking around the neighborhood every morning. Old friends (ie: Hermana Morán and Elder Johnson) coming back to Loja. Introducing Hermana Salmon and Hermana Robison to Papatron, the best salchipapa place in Loja and probably all of Ecuador. Working in Argelia and Jipiro at the same time. Being a missionary!!

Well, that's about it for this week. Please please pray for Lady as hard as you can so that she can be baptized this Saturday, also for Jessenia, who will be baptized on the 19th of February. Pray for Wendy too, so that she can accept the gospel into her life and be baptized by her father. And pray for me and my companion, as always, we need all the help we can get!!!

Yo sé que vive mi Señor
Consuelo es poder saber
que vive aunque muerto fue
y siempre Su amor tendré


Hermana Chamberlain

PS: si mi querida mami HNA Lopez está leyendo esto, felicidades abuelita!!! Tiene una nieta más!!!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Waiting for Changes


Well, HNA Bravo went back to Guayaquil on her way home yesterday and I don't know what's gonna happen to me this change because we're finding out about them tonight instead of last night.  Elder Carrillo played a hilarious joke on me when he called this morning to let me know, saying, oh hi Sister Chamberlain.  We just found out that you're leaving Loja......just kidding!!!!  Hahaha.  Anyway, since my companion left I've been hanging out with the excellent HNA Salmon (yes, like the fish) because her companion went home too.  She's got one change here in Ecuador and we are just having a blast together.  Yesterday we brought four people to church and afterwards taught lessons until we had to go home, it was fabulous.  We kind of wish we could be companions for the rest of the President, if you're reading this, HNA Salmon and I want to be compas!!!! 

Anyway, it was HNA Bravo's last week so we worked ridiculously hard and saw some amazing results.  Hopefully I can keep working hard with my new companion when she gets here.  I know that the Lord will bless us with a lot of success if we are diligent and obedient and have faith.  Those are like the 3 key things to having success as a missionary.

We found out something amazing this week-remember Monica, the lady that needs to get divorced so that she can get married and baptized??  Remember how we fasted with her??  She told us this week that her lawyer called her and her divorce will be final on February 13, in other words, two weeks.  You have NO IDEA how excited we were about this!!!  When divorce papers come through it's like Christmas and birthdays all rolled into one.  Fasting works.  Do it often and do it with faith!!!

We have a lot of people that we're working with that come to church, read the Book of Mormon, pray and know that the gospel is true-but won't get baptized, for one reason or another.  What do we do??  Suggestions, counsels and words of advice would be appreciated.  Seriously, there are like 4 people in our program that could totally get baptized tomorrow-they just need to make the decision.  HELP!!

Well this email is relatively short but last week's was really long so I don't feel too bad.  I don't really know what else to say, but I'm also really tired and can't really remember a whole lot of what happened this past week.  I love you all and I love the work and please pray for our investigators so that they can be baptized and receive all the blessings that Heavenly Father has prepared for them!!!


Hermana Chamberlain

Monday, January 17, 2011

My Top and Bottom Ten Lists of Being a Missionary


So this week, for some reason, I've been remembering random favorite things from the world.  Favorite movies, favorite songs, favorite computer stuff, books, you name it I've remembered it.  And then I laugh out loud and HNA Bravo asks me what I'm laughing at and I have no idea what to say.  In an attempt to feel better about letting my mind wander into the world again, I've tried to relate it all to the gospel.  This week you will all be treated to a glimpse of the things that have come to my mind, and my clever relations of them to missionary life and the gospel.

So one day in the morning I was getting ready and I randomly remembered Homestar Runner.  My cousins Hillary and David introduced me to this website way back in the day and it's been a constant source of entertainment to me ever since (Gracias primitos!!!)  Anyway, I randomly remembered one of Strong Bad's emails, where he lists his Bottom Ten, which is the opposite of a Top Ten.  In other words, he lists ten of his least favorite things.  I was laughing about it, remembering, and then I started thinking-what´s my bottom ten??  I compiled the list in my head and am ready to share it with you all.  Hermana Chamberlain's Missionary Bottom Ten is as follows:

10.  My clothes.  This week every time I have opened my closet I've experienced a bout of clinical depression.  To put it simply, I've worn the same skirts, tops, accessories and shoes for over a year and I'm completely bored of all of them.  I stand there staring into the closet thinking about what I can put on and I end up standing there for a really long time before finally putting on the same old thing.  Plus, I only have one pair of usable shoes left, that hopefully will last me the next 3 months.  Bummer.

9.  Unreliable running water.  Many times we come home at night to find that the sinks and faucets have ceased to function.  How on earth am I supposed to wash my face when there's no water??  And if you want to shower at night to save time in the morning, you can just forget about it.  Lame.

8.  Angry electric companies. Okay this was half our fault, but we really thought that the landlords were in charge of paying the light bill.  One night we came home, flipped the light switch and . . . . . nothing happened.  We quickly realized that it is in fact our responsibility to pay the light bill after all.  HNA Bravo then asked me, know where the only place in the house that has light is??  I replied, it's the bathroom, isn't it??  She said, how did you know??  I replied simply, it's ALWAYS the bathroom!!!

7.  Creepers.  And I thought Guayaquil was bad.  And the worst part is, I don't get why they all hit on me-my hair and face are gross, I dress in frumpy missionaries clothes and I've gotten fat.  What do they possibly see??

6.  Running out of gas for the stove, clean water and cell phone minutes.  On Saturday night we came home to find our house smelling like a gas station.  Turns out there was a leak and all the gas had run out (no, the house didn't blow up, fortunately.)  But this meant that we weren't going to be able to cook the next day, which meant that we weren't going to be able to eat.  Then we tried to call our district leader about something and found out that we didn't have any minutes.  Oops!!!

5.  People that don't read the Book of Mormon. pray, or go to church when they say they will.  This is probably pretty self explanatory, but it makes me sad that people don't realize how much it will bless their lives.

4.  Door slams.  Rude!!!!

3.  Changes next week.  I don't want to leave, we're working with a lot of great people and the branch members are great.

2.  People that receive so many testimonies of the Book of Mormon, of Joseph Smith, of the Church, but won't be baptized.  This hurts my feelings.  A lot.  And if it hurts my feelings, imagine how much more it hurts Heavenly Father's feelings.  His invitation is that ALL MEN come unto Him though baptism and when someone doesn't get baptized it's like they're saying, thanks Heavenly Father but I don't want to live with you forever.  Ouch.  Included in this is people that don't live the commandments, suffer the consequences and wonder why they're miserable.  It makes me really sad.

1.  Realizing that despite all the above bottom nine, I only have three more months to be a missionary and preach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  Typing that sentence just brought tears to my eyes.  Why can't the sisters serve for two years too??

So that's my Missionary Bottom Ten, included are lots of things that happened during the week that were difficult, but served for my experience and were for my good.  So then I thought, well I have to put my Top Ten on there too, obviously.  It's really more like a Top Hundred, but for time and space, I've picked my favorite ten.  So . . . . Hermana Chamberlain's Missionary Top Ten is a follows:

10.  Salchipapas (hot dogs with french fries) with pineapple sauce.  They are so delicious I could eat them every day.  In fact, one time we did eat them every day for a week, but then we realized that we were definitely increasing our individual heart attack risk significantly.  Plus my stomach was not pleased with me.

9.  Loving ward members.  Remember when we ran out of gas and couldn't cook??  The Castillo family gave us a big bag of bread that same day, plus they fed us dinner.  Through them I felt the love of my Heavenly Father and knew that he answers prayers-I had prayed that morning that we'd have enough to eat that day!!

8.  Instant answers to prayers.  This past week I was suffering from a bad case of hiccups.  I had tried everything but nothing took them away.  Then a thought came to my head-ask Heavenly Father to take them away.  So I did.  They stopped immediately.

7.  Finding new meaning in the scriptures-every single day.  This week I started reading the Book of Mormon again after finishing it again (me=baller, ha).  I started out-I Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, and . . . . having seen many afflictions . . . . nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord all my days . . . . I stopped to ponder on that for a second.  Even Nephi, one of the most obedient and faithful prophets in history, suffered a ton of adversity-but he was highly favored of the Lord.  I thought, you know, if the Lord didn't love us, He wouldn't give us afflictions, because through them, we grow, learn and progress.  When we pass through problems and difficulties, that means that we are highly favored of the Lord too, because He wants us to be all that He knows we can become.  You can bet I never would have had that revelation before the mission!!

6.  Finding new, prepared people.  We found a family of 3 this week, the Flia. Jimenez.  They were just dying to know why there are so many churches and which one is the true church of Jesus Christ.  We were happy to explain it to them, and while we were at it, we invited them to be baptized and they all said yes.  Although they couldn't make it to church this week, I know they'll come next week, because well, they're prepared, and that's what prepared people do.  Plus Lady came to church again this week and although we're not totally sure if she'll be baptized this Saturday, she's well on her way and that makes me happy.

5.  Feeling the Spirit speak through you.  I've noticed that this week, as I've tried to have more faith and trust more in the Lord and not compare myself so much to other people, my teaching has improved, and I've felt more like I've said what the Lord wanted me to say.  It's a fabulous feeling, I can tell you.

4.  Developing charity.  This week as I watched a family that we've been working with for a long time tell us that they didn't want to be baptized yet, for this reason or the other, I felt like my heart was breaking.  In that moment I realized just how much I had come to love them and how much I wanted them to be an eternal family.  If I don't see them in the Celestial Kingdom I might just die of sadness.  But at the same time, I realized that I was feeling the pure love of Christ-and that's something that everyone should feel for everyone else.

3.  Speaking Spanish.  It's so much fun and it will help me a lot when I get home!!

2.  Letters from my converts.  This past week the Flia. Criollo sent me a letter and it was seriously one of the best things that has happened to me in my whole mission.  Even though they are passing through a whole lot of difficulties right now, they're still faithful.  They're going to church, they have callings, they're having Family Home Evening and reading the scriptures together and best of all, they have a goal to go to the temple.  You cannot imagine the joy I felt as I read their letter!!

1.  Feeling the love, guidance and direction of Heavenly Father every day through the Spirit.  Being a called and set apart servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Knowing that He directs His work.  Having a stronger testimony of the restored gospel.  Knowing that your family is eternal and that's what everyone who listens to your message can have too!!

So there you have it, my bottom ten and top ten of missionary life.  It's hard but it's awesome and there's no other place I'd rather be!!!

More random things to share.  So this last Tuesday I ended up having to eat a ridiculous amount of food, after forgetting that one of the members feeds us lunch and dinner and agreeing that one of our investigators could feed us dinner too.  As we walked back to the house, my stomach and I had a conversation that went something like this:

Stomach:  Hermana Chamberlain, we need to talk.  I've worked for you for 23 years and it's been great.  We've had our ups and downs but I've generally enjoyed working here in your body.  However, I think the time has come for me to retire.

Me:  NOOOOO!!!!!!  You can't!!!  Why would you want to do that??

Stomach:  The thing is, I just can't take this kind of abuse anymore!!!  You just ate THREE huge meals in the space of six hours, do you really think I can work under that kind of pressure??

Me:  Okay you've got a point but that was just that one time!!!

Stomach:  Just that one time???  What about last year at Christmas??  Or your birthday??  Or the census when you made empanadas with HNA Bravo and then went and ate tamales with your landlords??  Or the time when-

Me: Okay okay!!!  So your working conditions haven't been the greatest over this past year, but it's not my fault!!!  They give us a ton of food and if we don't eat it all they get offended, plus they all feed us with a lot of love.  And you can't deny that it's good food.

Stomach: Well no, you're right about that.  But seriously, I canNOT keep working like this, okay, right now I'm about ready to explode.  Literally. 

Me:  Okay stomach, what do I have to do to get you to stay??  I'll do anything you want!!!

Stomach:  Well you could try fasting more, it would help us both out a lot . . . . .

Me:  Sigh . . . . okay.

So things haven't changed much here.  I'm working hard and eating a lot and very happy.  Life is good.

One more worldy thing that came to mind this week.  I was walking around Loja when I randomly remembered a line from one of my favorite movies of all time-Mean Girls.  It goes something like this:

Janice: You're taking 12th grade calculus??

Cady: Yeah, I like math.

Damian: Ew. Why??

Cady:  Because it's the same in every country.

Damian: (ponders that for a second) That's beautiful.  This girl is DEEP!!

When the thought came to me, I laughed out loud because well, it's funny right??  But then I started thinking about other things that are the same in every country and another thought came to my mind-the gospel!!!  DUH:  No matter where you are, the gospel is the same.  In every country, Latter Day Saints believe in God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost.  They know that Joseph Smith is a prophet and the Book of Mormon is true.  In every sacrament meeting they sing the same hymns and bless the sacrament with the same prayer.  In every country they are taught to read the scriptures, pray, keep the Sabbath day holy, live the Word of Wisdom and the law of chastity, pay tithing, and serve each other.  Every country has Relief Society, Primary, bishoprics, Young Men's and Women's, Elder's Quorom, High Priest Group, stake presidencies and patriarchs.  In every country, baptism, confirmation and temple ordinances are the same.  The only thing that changes is the language.  The doctrines, ordinances and organization are the same in every country that the church has been established-now that's beautiful.

Well, I think I've rambled on long enough.  I love you all.  Try not to remind me in these next few weeks how little time I have left-I'm trying not to think about it.  Thinking about terminating this amazing adventure of the mission is really exciting and at the same time, incredibly sad.  My heart flies into a thousand little pieces every time someone asks me the question ¿Y cuando se va usted hermana? and I have to respond en tres meses.  It's way too stressful to think about-so I don't.

Esta es la obra del Señor.  No hay duda alguna en mi mente ni en mi corazon.


Hermana Chamberlain