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 :(