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

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