Monday, March 25, 2013

The suspicious American elevator breaker...

Each time that I think that I'm getting used to this area and getting the hang of things, I am immediately humbled. Do you think Heavenly Father is playing tricks on me? Probably:) This week started off a little rough when three of our investigators called and dropped us in the first two days. We weren't too discouraged, but looking back it was probably a little foreshadowing of the week to come.  

On Tuesday we had another appointment with Joe. I was pretty excited about it because we had a pretty awesome lesson planned. Too bad somewhere in the beginning on things he found out I was an American and the rest of the lesson was turned into a "bashing of Sister Hutchings" time. He ripped into me about all the wars that the U.S. had entered; drilling me on military history (little did he know I am actually a history major and I truly could answer his questions, but I held in my temper and sass to do so).   Needless to say I was super discouraged after that lesson.  Arksey and I planned for our Friday lesson with Joe intending to invite him to be baptized (I know, flirting with the line of danger here), and if he were to say no (which of course he would), we would leave him with reading assignments from the Book of Mormon and give him two weeks to decide if he wanted to be baptized and for us to figure out if he was prepared to receive the gospel at this time.  I certainly couldn't take another anti-American party on his doorstep, as much fun as that originally was.  When we went to see him on Friday the first thing he said to us was that he had read the chapter from the Book of Mormon that we assigned him (the one that we had to mail him, remember?). We had assigned him to read 3 Nephi 11 (the chapter that talks about Jesus Christ and his visit to the Nephites), but he started asking us questions about the Gadianton Robbers, the Nephites and the Lamanites, the Jaredites etc. "HOW MUCH OF THAT BOOK DID YOU READ, JOE??" Of course he ignored me. But he had read a lot.  Joe surprised us big time, and we believe this was the sign that we were asking for from Heavenly Father that Joe needs this right now, and that a little more persistance is necessary. We can't give up just yet.  Oh, Joe also thinks we're the CIA so he wouldn't give us his last name and phone number.  So we had one of the couple missionaries in the office find it for us online... I just told him that I'm a representative of Jesus Christ and I can do anything.  He is starting to believe it. That man believe in miracles and so do I.  I am starting to believe our interchanges each and every week are the miracles of my mission that I will never forget. No matter how much he hates America :)

Want to know something funny?? I broke an elevator in our building this week. Our superintendent is a member of our ward and I'm pretty sure if he goes back on the security tapes and finds out it was me, he'd laugh pretty hard.  I was contacting a man and telling him about the gospel and he got out of the elevator so I stood inbetween the doors (Arksey was still in the elevator).  The doors kept trying to close on me, and I was deep in conversation, so I kept hitting it back.  The door eventually just broke. Whoops.  It was out for the whole day.  I felt a little bad, but not too bad because I was doing the Lord's work.  I guess maybe I should work on not being so long-winded, eh?

Sister Arksey and I are becoming famous thoroughout the mission for our cooking adventures. Sister Caldwell (our accomplice in the mission office) heard about some of our impromptu cooking ideas and asked me to write about them for our mission newsletter that will be sent out next transfer.  So that description follows this post below.  I will also attach photos of Arksey's frozen berries that she has been grilling on the stove to heat up (since we don't have a microwave).  We have to get pretty dang creative over here, opening a new area.  Oh, here's a new update along those lines: We got a staple gun on Saturday, a natural essential, so this morning I stapled sheets above our window: voila! We finally have curtains! Feeling a bit more homey in apartment 302.

[Editor's note:  Mallory has an unfortunate but colorful history with staple guns.  It involved girls' camp and a trip to the emergency room after hours of agony.  So her new acquisition of a staple gun is not necessarily a good omen.]

Next week my P-day will not be on Monday because the libraries will be closed for Easter Monday (which I believe to be a fake holiday, but whatever).  We just found a fancy new library today that is close to our apartment, so that is quite nice.  Before today, we have been using a different place to email each week! (Two minutes ago I Arksey and I were asked to move into a different location in the library because our typing was "too loud."  They must not understand how furiously we need to write our family and friends, and how valuable our time is!).

We love spending time along the lakeshore (see photos).  This is around the area where Joe is, and it happens to be one of my favorite spots of our area.  Apparently I like to climb things while waiting for our busses and street cars to come, because there I am: climbing a tree.  The other photos are walking along the laksehore with the beautiful Toronto skyline in the background.  Apparently this time of year the weather is usually 20 degrees warmer than it is now.  Bummer.  Hopefully it starts getter warmer soon! I'm ready to be done with my winter coat and the blistering winds. Sometimes when we walk along the lakeshore, Arksey and I literally have to stand still until the winds pass by because they are so strong we cannot walk against them. It is absolute craziness.

I am starting to adjust better to the daily life of a missionary.  We get to go to the temple this Saturday and I am so excited.  The day before Easter, what a fantastic idea!  I have adored and relished in all the support that I have received from all of you.  Thank you, I could not ever thank you enough.  It means everything to know that I have love and support from friends and family back home.  It is also fantastic to hear news updates!   

I try to work hard even when things are hard.  I know that there is much to be done, and that Heavenly Father needs me to do many things in this area.  I love it.  I love being able to find joy in this work.  I'm staying safe, and learning much more than I ever imagined.  Have a fantastic Easter holiday!!

Sister Hutchings

Bonus Post: Opening a New Apartment (a drama in several acts)...

Since Sister Arksey and I have received the blessing of stepping foot into our new aparment in Etobicoke South, we received a tour with our apartment tenant to make sure things worked in our apartment. It went a little bit like this:

Tenant (in a Russian accent): "This is how the heat works. See, you turn this knob. It works, right?"

Sister Hutchings: "No, it doesn't"

Tenant: "Oh, well, it doesn't really matter"

... She moved on.

So many members have been giving us extra cooking utensils etc. for our cooking pleasure.  Before we received a frying pan I suppose I thought it was a genius idea to cook a quesadilla on an uneven cookie sheet over the stove top.  It took me far too long to realize that the cookie sheet was too thin.  I didn't figure it out until the whole sheet was burned through, as was the quesadilla, and it was a miracle the smoke didn't set off the alarm.

Speaking of setting off the alarm: In celebration for St. Patrick's Day we thought we'd go all-out the Saturday before and go to McDonald's (I know, big celebration, right?). Sister Arksey bought us apple pies to save and eat that night for dessert after we'd eaten our dinner.  I was sitting at my sturdy desk (see below), studying sweetly as sister missionaries do, when I smelled a smell that should not be coming from our kitchen.  Sister Arksey had thrown the pies into the oven IN THEIR CARDBOARD BOXES because we didn't have anything else to cook them in, and because "she was too tired to think of a better way."  I prayed with extra gratitude that night that we didn't blow ourselves up in our apartment.

For food in our first week in our apartment, Sister Arksey bought frozen berries. Which sounded like a pretty good idea, except that we both forgot we don't have a microwave.  I probably would have just left them in the freezer indefinitely, but Sister Arksey had a far more entertaining idea.  One day I found her heating up the still frozen berries in a pan on the stove top.  Since they were mixed berries, some melted a lot faster than others, they became this nasty, brown, leaking mess.  But, since we're missionaries afterall, she just tossed them into her yogurt and ate them anyway. I don't think she's purchased another bag of frozen berries since.

The day our furniture delivered was one of the more blessed days of my mission thus far. The nice delivery gentlemen assembled our drawers and beds for us, but we were left to ourselves to assemble our desks. We were actually quite excited about it, and lept immediately to the task. Several dinner times and an entire P-day later, Sister Arksey and I had two wobbly desks, swollen hands, and drawers I stubbornly refused to give a third try. Those cute, wobbly desks are the center pieces of our entire apartment. Sister Arksey is a whole lot more patient than I am and somehow built her desk chair correctly, I got impatient and the back of my chair hunches forward. We are quite a sight to be seen! I apologize beforehand for the missionaries who will move in after us, but rest assured: a lot of love has gone into those wobly desks :)

We are finally making our apartment feel like home with maps littering the walls, copies of the Book of Mormon in various languages lining the floor, curtains staple-gunned above the windows and all. There truly is no experience akin to serving the Lord on a full-time mission. What a glorious opportunity we have to laugh in spite of ourselves and to learn in situations of great humility the miracles that Heavenly Father provides for us each and every day.

I marvel that he trusts me in this work.

And Sister Arksey... with the way she cooks food in cardboard boxes....

Sister Hutchings
Etobicoke South

Monday, March 18, 2013

Another week bites the dust!


This has honestly been the fastest week of my mission thus far, I don't know where it went! But alas, it is P-day again and I have the pleasure of sharing with you the experiences I have had this week.
Whoever told me that Toronto was a safe and clean city before I came here lied to me. It is not either of those things.  In fact, Arksey and I find ourselves in sketchy areas late at night so often (we're not allowed in our house until 9:00 pm) that on Saturday I decided it would be profitable to make her learn to climb over fences on the way home (she had never done so before).  I figured we may be in a situation where we'd need to run for our lives and we'd have to jump over fences, and if that was her first time, we'd be done for.  So it was quite an adventure of its own, and we gained an audience out of it.  We actually tried to talk to them about the gospel, but they weren't having it.  Strangely enough, it probably made me even more nervous about Arksey climbing fences in the future, so we should probably practice that skill some more.  

Drinking my Shamrock Shake in the subway
So I hope that everyone had a happy St Patrick's Day!  It got a little crazy over here, but the only thing that we were able to do was stop by McDonald's on Saturday for lunch (I don't think I have EVER been more excited to eat at McDonald's in my entire life) and get a Shamrock Shake to celebrate! Woo Hoo! I was so happy, nothing could crush my spirits that Saturday.

So I must be honest: I pessimistically entered this week due to the fact that we had to give back the car that we were able to use last week we had to start using the multi-city bus/public transportation systems this week.  I was not super happy about it.  Our area is huge, and basically as we planned for our days, we could only plan to visit three people a day (if they were home and we could actually get in and share with them a message) because it takes us so long to transport our little selves over there. But, I have had quite a fun time!
This week we have taken the multiple bus systems, subways, and street cars (that one was a cool experience because it was all along the lakeshore at sunset - remarkably beautiful). We also get lost quite often, though.  We ended up walking for MILES on Friday, and I swear I don't think my legs have felt like jello quite like that before.  Neither Arksey nor I really get frustrated when we get lost though, because I know that the Lord always puts us where we need to be.  With all the public transportation we take, we come into contact with SO many different people, everywhere we go!  When we find ourselves walking for miles down streets and highways we didn't expect, we always run into people we can serve, and who are interested in the message we share about Christ's church on this earth today.  It is true, being a missionary means witnessing little miracles each minute of the day - what a blessing!

Let me tell you about Joe. I've been so excited to share with you this story: Joe is an investigator Arksey and I met when we were in the neighborhood of a member.  He was just sitting on his doorstep and we ended up talking to him about the gospel.  He is a nice old man who believes strange things (like that God is an alien and such).  Joe has a view about the world where he believes that there is much wickedness and very little good.  Joe came into my life as a missionary right at the time I needed him, and I believe we came into his life right when he needed us. 
I never questioned the divinity of my calling as a representative of Jesus Christ, but I came to believe that there was not much that I, Mallory Hutchings, could offer as a missionary that the Lord couldn't have any other missionary do: thus, why on earth was I here when anybody could be in my place and do the same thing?  I realized that Heavenly Father will use all His missionaries, but we all have different talents and abilities that He will use when He needs them. Whether Joe likes it or not, I believe Heavenly Father led me to meet Joe: Joe is feisty, stubborn, inquisitive, sassy and witty - and he met his match in Sister Hutchings.  Joe always tells us that he doesn't want us to come back, and that he won't read what we ask him to....   But we tell him we'll be back in two days at a certain time, and he just so happens always to be outside waiting for us at that specific time!  Plus, he always reads the materials we ask him to read and he asks us many questions, but he's stubborn about it (of course, he wouldn't make it easy for us!). 
This week we asked Joe to read from the Book of Mormon, but he would not take it.  He had already read all the pamphlets we gave him, but he wouldn't take the Book of Mormon. I told him I'd get it to him if he wouldn't take it, and he didn't believe me... challenge accepted. Arksey and I went straight to the post office right after our lesson with him and over-nighted a copy to his house!  We marked scriptures for him to read and I wrote a note for him in the front with my testimony inside it.  He received it and had read from it before we saw him two days later.  I knew he would.  That day was the first time he prayed with us.  Perhaps the first time he prayed to his Father in Heaven in a very long time - I bet God really wanted to hear from him!

Arksey and me teaching some investigators.
Conrod and Rita - the two in the middle - have baptismal dates!
This week we are starting up our Stop Smoking program and ESL (English as a second language) program.  Among the investigators that we are currently teaching, we teach people who have learning disabilities of all varieties - bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, depression, desperate health and financial issues, and so forth.  I feel like I need SO much more world experience to help and teach these people than the little that I have.  It is very overwhelming sometimes, to be honest.  I am so glad that I have the Spirit to guide me and help me know what to do.  I just try to love and serve everyone the best that I can!  It is certainly more challenging - in different ways - than I ever expected.  But I love it!  Oh how I love it!

Working hard to build my desk all P-day long.
Clearly I'm a genius at it...
The work is moving forward in Etobicoke South!  We are finally getting the hang of working in this new area, that's for sure.  Arksey told me that this past week was what it would feel like as a "normal" first week on a mission, and that the two weeks we had before that usually didn't happen.  But since we were opening up a new area we had those crazy weeks of transition and whatever else went down. I can't even remember all of it. 

I learned that the post in Canada doesn't get delivered on Saturday or Sundays, but it still takes about a week after you send them (if sent directly to my apartment) for me to receive them.
I am working hard and staying as safe as I can.  It is truly an incredible experience being out here. Yesterday we had stake conference, and our stake center is in the same parking lot as the Toronto temple.  It was the first time I had seen it - it was beautiful!  I can't wait until I get to go there (March 30th).  What a tremendous blessing this gospel is, I could not be more grateful.  Keep writing to me, I love it so much!

Sister Hutchings

Monday, March 11, 2013

One Month Down!

Whew - what a week this has been!  I can't quite decide if my weeks go by fast or slow. They are so packed with things that we have to get done....  Opening a new area is extremely challenging, I had no idea. When I was in the MTC we heard stories about new missionaries opening new areas once they got to the field, and I felt strongly in my heart that that would be my experience, but little did I know, the Spirit was preparing me for this wild and crazy adventure.
To explain a little bit more about my situation: In the Etobicoke ward where I serve, we split the ward with another set of missionaries (our Zone Leaders, actually). They have the North area of the ward and we have the South. The ward was SO EXCITED to have sisters assigned to the ward. One of the older gentlemen in the ward, Brother Pallin, tried to kiss me on the mouth yesterday because he was so happy to see me (and I sang in Sacrament meeting, which apparently he liked), but I dodged it right in time!  One of my Zone Leaders was right there and he was dying, he was laughing so hard.
As it turns out, with the way the ward is divided, most of the active members live in the North.  I'd say we have about 8-10 active families that live in the South.  It makes being fed and getting help with teaching appointments rather difficult (I've lost 10 lbs so far on my mission though, so I suppose that's a plus!).

We moved into our apartment this week!  FINALLY!  It was so sad to leave the Murphys' house though.  I think those folks are going to miss us.  We visited them later in the week to borrow a tool box from them, and they said we were like their granddaughters. 
Our apartment is scantily supplied with things that sweet members of the ward have provided for us. Arksey and I are still in the process of assembling our desks.   We have about 30 mins each day to try to assemble some of our furniture that was delivered on Friday, so it's in the works. 
Apparently we live in a sketchy area.... I think the Lord is really protecting us, because we don't feel TOO unsafe.  But there are police outside our building every other day, and people we talk to at night always tell us nice girls like us shouldn't be out here at night....  Don't they know we're messengers from the Lord??  Missionary opportunity right there:)

This week the greatest thing that happened was that we got some investigators.  We didn't really have any people to teach at the end of last week, and we were all over the place with where we were living, organization, transportation, boundaries etc.  But this week I taught my first lesson indoors, my first lesson outdoors, prayed with an investigtor on the side of the street for the first time... lots of firsts.
One of my favorite stories is of a man named Sye.  We met Sye contacting one night in our sketchy area, he is a really nice guy - quite a talker.  We met with him at a public park on Saturday morning because he was in prison and for some reason we can't visit him at home because his apartment complex doesn't know that he lives there right now (he lives with his wife).  We don't know if he's avoiding parole or anything like that, we haven't asked yet.... But anyway, his wife ended up kicking him out Friday night and he slept on the street in the freezing cold.  He still met us for our appointment.  We chatted for awhile and then taught him about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Part way through the lesson his demeanor changed and he started acting very strange.  Call me Ammon if you want, but we had a King Lamoni moment, in the flesh: after Sye prayed and we finished our lesson he stood up to go home and HE COLLAPSED ON THE GROUND.  It actually got serious.  I just looked at Arksy and said "He needs medical attention."  She said "Uhhh, so I call 911?" I quickly replied "Yes, right now."  So that's what happened.  We talked to Sye (he maintained semi-consciousness at the park) until the ambulance arrived and then we sent him away.  We called him a few times and he hasn't answered since then.  I hope he's alive and well.  We pray for that.  We have another appoint scheduled for tomorrow with him (which we scheduled before he collapsed by the spirit), so I bet he makes it.  Pretty crazy.

I finally got a winter coat last P-day, HALLELUJAH.  This last week wat 3000% warmer than the last (although I tend to exaggerate a little bit).   But also, it is getting a little warmer, and I think spring is coming.  Then once in awhile the weather teases us with some snow. We'll see what this week entails.  Yesterday's daylight savings time really caused a big hassle in the missionary world. Being so naive about EVERYTHING going on around us, nobody really knew about it.  Plus people were running late to church and all. 
But I was able to give a church tour yesterday to the wife of the most famous opthalmologist in Ontario and it was the most powerful spiritual experience I've had on my mission thus far, expecially when I showed her the baptismal font. This truly is a fantastic work, to be able to invite others to come unto Christ. Yesterday we were talking to a man at the park with his daughter and he asked Arksey "So you want me to be a member of your church, huh?  That's what this is about?" And she replied "No, we want to bring people to Christ and we believe we have ways to best help you in strengthening that relationship."  It's incredible to see people's very faces change in 20 seconds on the side of the street with a simple and pure testimony. The Lord knows what he's doing, even when we do not.

One of my favorite parts about this area where I live is that there is this strip called the "Road of Murals."  I took pictures with some of the murals. 

Thanks for sending me so many things!  I think it takes exactly one week to receive post from the U.S., so I hope to receive them soon!! 

Please be safe.
Sister Hutchings

Monday, March 4, 2013

Finally in Toronto!

Holy cow, what a week this has been! I now serve in the single most multi-cultural place I think I have ever been in my entire life (hence my subject line).  Last Monday just got more and more hectic as the day went on.  I found myself lying in bed at the end of the day experiencing a "Life of Pi" situation.  I didn't know exactly which story my life told that day.  On one hand, I knew that we had barely made any of our flights, had gone 26 hours without food, gotten up at 2:00 AM to begin our travels, and that my luggage was lost in transit (hoping for it to be delivered before we were sent to our new areas the next day).  On the other hand, my stomach was full of pasta and salad at that point, I was laying by myself in a cosy Marriott hotel bed, I had met and fallen in love with my Mission President and his wife and I didn't have to say goodbye to my MTC compadres just yet.

As it turns out, the group of 30+ of us that were traveling to the Canada Toronto mission that day (only five being Elders) was so large, that the Mission President couldn't fit us all in the mission home, or in a regular van.  So a huge coach bus picked us up at the airport and took us to a Marriott hotel where we spent the night.  It was awesome!  He interviewed each of us, and then let us go to bed early in preparation for the next day when we would meet our trainers and head out to our new areas.

The next morning I met my new companion and trainer, Sister Andrea Arksey (24 years old). She is from a small farm in Brandon Manitoba, and has already graduated from University in a piano performance/teaching degree.  She taught middle school band a little before coming on her mission.  After I met her, we had to say goodbye to everyone and head to our area.  It was so sad to say goodbye to Tebbs, Balderson and Dagsen. Especially Tebbs, we had a little crying moment. It's crazy how quickly these people become your family out here when we have all left our families behind. Missionary work unites deeper than anything.
Arksey and I are opening a new area called Etobicoke South.  It has been absolute chaos.  We have the new address for my apartment, but that's not where we live right now.   We have been living with an elderly couple, Floyd and Denise Murphy, ever since we arrived here last Tuesday.  We were set to move into our apartment on March 1st, but there are a lot of complications (that no one will tell us about), so we are having difficulty getting things up and running.  They have also switched out area boundaries on us about 3 or 4 times, so that has been hard. We keep finding people to teach and setting appointments, and then we have to had them to other missionaries because our borders change.   But I think we finally have them set in stone now... so we're keeping our fingers crossed!
I have LOVED living with the Murphys. Sister Murphy is from Quebec and has the silliest french accent.  Brother Murphy has recently taken up the bagpipes so we hear those constantly.  They make us meals all the time and are very chatty.  They have been so good to us.  We want to move out and finally unpack out suitcases, but we love the Murphy's homecooked food, crazy stories, lively humor and adventure for life... so it's a Catch-22 situation here.  

Our area is HUGE. Well, at least with the boundaries we have now.  Between the members, less-actives and investigators we've met with so far, I feel like I walk into a different country when I walk into each apartment.  I've never walked down an apartment building and smelled so many different smells before.  There's a Hungarian lady, Etelka, who keeps a pet pig in her house; Beatrice is from Nigeria;  many are from places such as the Philippines, Poland, Namibia, China, Japan, Canada, Jamaica, Germany, India, Tonga etc. 
We are also in a bus zone, which means we have been trying to figure out the bus system.  We cover three cities: Toronto, Missisauga, and Etobicoke, which span two bus systems: Toronto and Mississauga.  It's complex but we're learning.  And since we're opening the area, no one else knows what's going on, so we've been trying to figure it all out.  Thank heavens I'm such a dang good organizer.  We've purchased many maps and I have everything color-coded to a "T" (you know, trying to be the most effective missionary over here!).

I have never been asked to perform more musical numbers in my entire life as on my mission.  Sister Murphy found out the Arksey is a blessed master-pianist and that I like to sing, and therefore she makes us perform for our meals (she thinks she's quite funny). Then in church yesterday Brother Murphy blabbed to the whole ward about this, and now we're performing in Sacrament meeting on Sunday and our Zone Leaders have asked us to perform for out multi-Zone training on Wednesday.  I don't know if we're any good - but I think we're starting to become famous :)

Sister Arksy and I have become fast friends.  At first I wasn't too sure how we'd get along, but after a few days we opened up completely to each other.  She is much more obedient than I am, and I admire her greatly for her sacrifice to come on a mission.  Her father is not a member and was not happy that she wanted to come.  She works so hard, and she puts up with my wise cracks and my Pop-Rocks (I got a stash before I left the MTC), so I figure she's golden if she can do that!

I am happy out here.  I am working hard.  We haven't been able to teach many people at all.  At this point, it's been quite hectic, and it's mostly been finding people.  A LOT of street contacting.  I feel like a popsicle, sometimes so cold I think my lips are going to fall off, and Sister Arksy has to take all the rest of the contacting for the day because I can no longer talk (no joke, that happened Friday).  I think that I am most confident in teaching people in lessons, and Heavenly Father knows that, so He's challenging me and making me do something I'm less confident about: bothering people on the bus and on the street, telling them in 30 seconds or less why I believe this message of the restored gospel is something worth their time (or their entire salvation)... no pressure, right? 
Morning study time continues to be my sanctuary, I enjoy burying myself in the scriptures, learning how to become a better teacher and representative of Jesus Christ.

I love this work.

Je t'aime,
Sister Hutchings