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-aniƱados!!!) 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