Tuesday, April 30, 2013

ON FIRE!!!

Okay, so we have literally been on fire in Etobicoke South the past two weeks, and I am very pumped about it.
We are in a very prepared area, and I feel like Arksey and I have begun to see how perfectly the timing has worked out: Now that this area has been opened to us as missionaries and we have gotten our hands "dirty" so-to-speak, the blessings of our hard work are pouring out.

For example, on Sunday there was a lady and her son at church who had come with a member of our ward (who nobody knew about because she usually goes to a different ward because she doesn't know anyone in our ward), and they wanted to meet with us and be baptized. We didn't know this until we met with them last night and taught them about the Restoration of the Church. She and her son said yes to baptism before the words fell out of our mouths. They live on our street. Sister Arksey and I walked out of that appointment dumbfounded by our luck, and literally tried to figure out what on earth we had been doing to be blessed with such prepared investigators from the Lord.

Guess what else is awesome? Orlando is getting baptized on Sunday! Or he should be, if everything works out according to plan :) This will be my first investigator I will have taught from the beginning and been present at his baptismal service, and I'm very excited. Orlando is a 61 year old man from Guyana. He met missionaries four years ago, but was only taught once When we found him, it was clear that he was prepared to receive the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. He has deep biblical knowledge, and can apply it very well. He is a very humble man, and he is also legally blind. It has been quite a challenge to figure out a way to help him gain his own testimony of the Book of Mormon when he can't really read it very well. When we read verses of scripture to him from the Book of Mormon, however, he listens intently and says "Ohhh yes, that is true. That book of Joseph Smith speaks truth!" (Don't worry, we clarified that :)).

WE FINALLY GOT FURNITURE!! Oh my heavens, it was better than Christmas (except for the fact that Christmas is about Christ and stuff...)!! Our new bishop and a few saintly others provided us with a couch, chair, toaster, and a few other essentials from the house of recently deceased members of our ward. Don't worry, I haven't even gotten to the best part yet... While we were in the house picking furniture to be moved to our dainty apartment, I spied with my little eye a beautiful typewriter. I mentioned to the bishop that I wanted the typewriter, but because I couldn't find any true missionary purpose for it, I wasn't going to selfishly take it (taking care to sigh heavily, of course. For little did Bishop Pallin know, I have been searching for a typewriter all my life). That man apaprently receives revelation, because he smiled really big, shrugged his shoulders and said "I'm sure you'll put it to good use, go grab it Sister!" I am embarassed to say I probably squealed as I bounded downstairs and grabbed that beautiful piece of outdated technology. I wrote a poem on it this week. I gave it to our Zone Leaders when they were having a down day... They're so lucky I got a typewriter :)

So we found out that Arksey and I will for sure be separated this next transfer (calls on May 19th), because Sister Arksey has been called to serve as Sister Training Leader. They are just BARELY implementing these leadership positions for sister missionaries in the mission field, and Arksey will be one of the first six sisters in our mission to serve in that capacity. Yeah, she's freaking out, but I'm so excited for her. So we don't know where the STLs will be serving, so we don't know if I'm going to stay in Etobicoke or if Arksey will. I really hope it's me, because I love this area so very much.

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Yesterday a general authority, Paul V. Johnson, came and did a mission tour! We got to flock by the thousands (okay, really there were 150 of us there) and hear him speak. It was a very long day, but I loved it. It was very inspiring. I LOVE the times when a bunch of missionaries get to come together. It really is a morale booster. The biggest highlight of that was that the MTC Tebbs, Balderson, Dagsen and Hutchings crew was FINALLY reunited!! It was incredible. We were laughing so hard and crying, emotions spilling out all over the place. It was cool, because there were so many sisters in the room. Probably about 1/3 sisters. The field is starting to look like the MTC numbers (of sisters:elders ratio).

Sister Hutchings

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Cha Cha master!

This week has been an incredibly crazy week, but looking back I can hardly remember any of it!

 
One of my favorite less-active members we have been working with is Sister Cruzola. Sister Cruzola is from the Philippines and stopped coming to church when she was in her early 20s (I believe) when she moved to Canada.  She used not to be very receptive to the missionaries, but because we're sisters (that trick works more that you might think it would)... she let us in.  Fun fact: Sister Cruzola was my very first "lesson" or visit on my mission when I got into the mission field, because she lives very near the Murphys (where I lived at the time).  So we go visit Sister Cruzola as frequently as we can, and we are working on getting her to come back to church.  She is a small, sassy, hilarious woman, who is quite charming.  This week our friendship reached a new level when she taught me how to Cha Cha!  It was so much fun - it reminded me of all the times I would dance with Grandma Linda.  I was grateful for those dance lessons so I didn't look like a completely incompetent fool dancing with the masterful Violetta Cruzola, with her Filipino flair and all.  I just love to surprise the people we teach with the fact that we, as missionaries, actually ARE people with personalities... they seem to think we are robots of some sort. You can check for me, but I don't think there are robots who can Cha Cha :)

Guess what?? CONROD GOT BAPTIZED THIS WEEK! He rolled into church like the classy man he is, sporting his shades and cowboy hat.  


This is Nolan and Ryan.  We're teaching them about the gospel.
This is also me with them and we're drawing
the 10 commandments.  Sometimes we have to get
a little bit creative. 
Also, I found out that some of the bus drivers this week have been spying on us.  On Friday after there was a wind storm, Arksey and I were walking along the street and there happened to be a bunch of large tree branches in our way.  So I don't know what happened to me (I will partly blame delirium from working so hard... and I don't really know what else so blame...), but I grabbed some of the branches and, using them as extensions of my arms, I started attacking Arksey with them.  (Yeah, she's so thrilled to be my companion.  Always.)  After that, we went on our way to our teaching appointment with an AWESOME part-member family.  On our way home, I found another great use for some tree branches as one happened to be a fantastic walking stick.  So I started limping and using the stick as a cane.  I continued limping with the stick-cane, and when we got to the bus, the bus driver (who is a good friend of ours) refused to let me get on the bus with my stick-cane! I launched into a dramatic story about how feeble I was when he laughed and said "I saw you attacking her with the branches twice earlier this afternoon, so I will not let you bring that branch on my bus!" Needless to say, I was speechless.  He had stumped me, and I could not find anything sassy to reply in my defense.  Sheepishly, I laid my stick aside, and obediently I hopped on the bus.  Arksey was laughing so hard, I thought she may have shed some tears (which is not too common).  

We got into some trouble this week, because we got out of a teaching appointment a little bit late and had to try to rush home before our curfew kicked-in. The bus that we were hoping to catch never came, and instead of waiting for the next one (because we were out of time) we ended up having to walk most of the way home.  It took us FOREVER to get home (and yes, we were a little late).  The text from our Zone Leaders went like this "Glad you're safe. Set goals and make plans to never let that happen again"... Whoops :)  I swear it truly was an accident, but I'm secretly (or maybe openly is a more appropriate word to use there) hoping that we'll get a car soon (which will only help us get home on time!), so maybe this incident will help.  It was quite creepy though to walk home past curfew for so long!  So I'd rather it not happen again as well.

This is me climbing along the lakeshore.
Arksey is afraid I'll fall in.
Apparently she isn't aware of
how graceful I am. 
Next week I believe that my P-day will be on Tuesday instead of Monday.  We have a general authority coming and running Zone Conference on Monday, so Tuesday shall be the day on which I prepare.  I am pumped for it because along with the words of wisdom I shall receive, I should also be seeing Tebbs, Balderson and Dagsen.  That will truly be a delightful reunion!
 
This past week we were also privileged to be able to go into the heart of downtown Toronto for a morning. It was awesome - I love big cities so much.  I saw the ROM art museum (just from the outside), the University of Toronto (which is awesome), and a few other things.  I really can't wait to be able to tour all those places, I hope that we'll be able to find time!

I am staying safe and working hard. The weather is getting a lot warmer for the most part, and it makes me giddy.  I can't wait for summer to come. 

Sister Hutchings



 

Monday, April 15, 2013

April showers...

So this week was very odd, that's for sure.

Last week we were frequented with sunshine, happiness, and all that comes with warmer weather and the whisperings that spring may be in the air (which I feel like it should in the middle of April...); But alas, this week the rains came down and the floods came up.

Yeah, I just quoted that song.

Several times this week Arksey and I found ourselves trekking through the wind and the rainstorms. One one particular night, we were trying to find a house the elders had given us a wrong address for, and we ended up walking for three hours in the middle of a thunder and lightening storm. About halfway through hour two, Arksey and I started getting delirious (probably more me than her) and it ended up being one of my favorite nights on my mission. It was really fun. Too bad it wasn't too productive, apparently not a lot of people walk around the streets at night in the middle of nowhere in a storm... Weird.

Something hit me this week that one might call "determination." I really, really wanted to hit standards and all the goals we had set for ourselves and that were set by our zone. Sister Arksey probably thought I became possessed. She'd never seen that side of me before. We worked really hard, and ALMOST hit all the goals, but we did triple standards in new investigators, and (by some miracle) we had four member present lessons. It was awesome.

We did take a young man with us who is preparing for his mission to an appointment with one of our investigators we've been teaching for quite some time. When we knocked on Beatrice's door, she opened the door and unexpectedly screamed "If you come to my house one more time, I'll show you what I'm made of!" and threw her Book of Mormon at us. So that was a little discouraging and whatnot, but I didn't want to give up on her. She was pretty scary though, part of me doesn't really want to go back and see what Beatrice is really made of....

So Arksey and I have a little routine down for contacting on the bus that makes me feel like a secret agent, that goes a little like this (for the purpose of this story our names will be changed to Starsky and Hutch because I like that better, and because it is fitting): 

Starksy and Hutch get on the bus for wherever they are headed. They are clad from head to toe in somewhat dreary-looking black winter coats because they are out in the cold for extended periods of time. Compared to other people, this may look like Russian mafia or something- already warranting suspicious looks. Adding to the suspicious looks are the peculiar name tags that they wear on their coats with small white printing that makes everyone squint while trying to read them. Hutch is primarily in charge of route navigation, and Starksy in contacting and obtaining phone numbers and addresses of future potential investigators. Hutch will notice the people studying the Russian mafia curiously from the time they boarded the bus, and will nod or give other clues and whisperings to Starsky to let her know. Starsky will then approach such people and strike up conversation as Hutch moves steathily around the bus to pull the stop notifiers and make sure the agents get where they need to be. Hutch eavesdrops on Starksy and the potential's conversation, to observe how it's going, to know exactly when is the appropriate time to pull for their bus stop, and slyly exit and head toward their destination - hopefully with a new contact in hand.

Last week we made the decision to pass one of our most solid investigators Conrod to the YSA sisters. He is such a great guy, but we were able to see him at church this week (we meet at the same building). So I included a few pictures of Conrod and me at church. He was using the phone to call the YSA sisters to let them know he made it there on the bus by himself :)

We are getting so busy with our schedule, that we actually don't have time enough to meet with all our investigators and less-actives that we'd like to! We're really praying for a car so that we don't ahve to deplete our teaching pool. We set Joe with a baptismal date this week (which he said no to, big surprise... but he's still working towards it), which is June 9th. That was a really incredible time because that was the exact day that I got baptized 13 years ago. I really hope that he makes it to that one!

This week the weather is supposed to get much warmer, that makes me happy, but I really did enjoy the rainstorms. Heavenly Father must know that about me, because whenever I was discouraged this week, we ended up getting caught in the storm, and it turned me into a happy missionary once again.

Sister Hutchings

 

Monday, April 8, 2013

No transfer this week...


Guess what? I have been on my mission for two months, this Wednesday. 

The weather reached twenty degrees yesterday and the sun was shining! We were so happy that we took off our winter coats and basked in the sunlight! 

Sister Arksey and I did not receive a transfer call this week so we will stay where we are for at least another six weeks. 

This week we had several fantastic lessons lined up that we were very excited for, but unfortunately almost all of them fell through.  So by the time we were able to relax a little and focus on General Conference, I couldn't have asked for anything more! I love the opportunity that we have to listen to the words of prophets and apostles of God and receive peace and counsel for our lives today. It is a tremendous blessing. 

We were super fortunate to be able to teach one of our new contacts named Mark.  Mark and his sweet mother made us Syrian food (which was scrumptious) and listened intently to the message we briefly shared about the Book of Mormon. Mark's mother had found a pass-along card years before of Jesus Christ and had it taped to her wall. They are very prepared by the Lord, and I am so excited to continue to teach them. 

I love the wonderful letters that I continue to receive from you and other friends and family who take care to write me. This is no easy work. But I love serving the Lord, and there is no better feeling than to know that I am worthy enough to be used by Him in His work.  

Sister Hutchings 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What. A. Week.


Wow, this was an incredibly crazy week. 

I felt like two weeks ago we had an especially difficult week, and I'm not quite sure why, but because we endured that week, Heavenly Father blessed us with this one. 

With a particularly violent start, Arksey and I sometimes ask ourselves "Where on earth are we?"  On our way to District meeting on Wednesday we got off the bus and almost witnessed a knife fight.  It was insane.  Luckily the man got away on his bike (even though I assured Arksey that I could handle being the first responder to such a medical emergency until the ambulance arrived).  On the way home from our fantastic District meeting, there was a crazy lady (who really is probably suffering from mental derangement of some sort) who yelled some not-so-nice things at me and kicked me in the back when we were walking down the stairs.  It was super strange, because we weren't talking to anyone and I don't think she could see my nametag from where she was...so it didn't seem like an attack on "LDS Missionaries," just a "wrong place at the wrong time" type of thing.  But I didn't fall down the stairs or anything, and Arksey and I just kept walking.  Nice people around asked if I was okay, but we just hurried and jumped on the train to get away from her.  She glared after us and watched us for awhile. It was very creepy. We're keeping our fingers crossed that we get a car this next transfer! 

Our Zone Leaders in our ward let us use their car on Friday and Saturday this week, and it was incredible the things that we got done in that amount of time! In our mission, we have what are called "Standards of Excellence," which are certain things you can achieve in several key indicator categories. For the first time so far in my mission, Arksey and I were able to hit and/or exceed Standards of Excellence in all the categories! It was super exciting. We're pretty sure it was because we had the car and were able to do more than three things a day. 

On Sunday, we had two things left we needed to achieve: we needed a member present lesson and we needed another baptismal date. We had been praying that we would hit standards this week, because we knew that we would be close, and we put our faith in our Heavenly Father to make up for where we'd fall short. Those two areas were where we were falling short. We had (by some miracle) secured a member couple to come teaching with us Easter Sunday, but we didn't have an appointment.  So you see, that was a problem.  After church we tried desperately to call our investigators or potential investigators to meet with some of them, but nothing was working.  As I was typing the text to the members to tell them that we didn't need them anymore, we got a call from David.  David is one of our investigators who wants to be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost, but he has a jealous girlfriend so it is very difficult for us to meet with him or get in touch with him.   But now he asked us if we could go visit him in 30 minutes and share a lesson with him!  It was perfect, because that was when the members were planning on teaching with us, and we knew that David was eager to plan a date for his baptism.  We taught David the Plan of Salvation and he was so excited, he claimed that it sounded so familiar to him, that he feels like he has heard this all before.  We set his baptismal date for May 5th, which happens to be his birthday. It was so perfect, Arksey and I were just floating on clouds. We had worked so hard this week, and had endured such a peculiar week, we were so glad we could see Heavenly Father supporting us in our efforts. What a marvelous work this is! There is no better feeling in this life than to be worthy of guidance by the spirit. 

On Saturday, we were able to go to the temple. It was fantastic! I really like the Toronto temple!  We were able to do a session with my whole zone as well as our mission president and his wife.  But one of the BEST parts of that was that Sister Tebbs was outside the temple (having finished her session about an hour earlier) when we got out!!!!! I was so incredibly happy to see her! I haven't seen any of those three Sisters that were in my Crew at the MTC since I left that blessed place, and we truly rejoyced. I love her. We have been writing each other each week, but it was fantastic to catch up. We're praying that we'lll be able to be companions at some time in the mission, but I don't know if Heavenly Father will let that much silliness in one companionship. We'll probably have to wait until we're both more disciplined. Bummer. 

Easter on a mission is quite different than Easter at home. I must say, I enjoyed thoroughly this week inviting everyone I saw on the streets to come to church particularly because it was Easter Sunday :)  Sister Arksey and I were asked to perform three musical numbers on Sunday between the three of us. Holy cow. I really do enjoy it though! We had a baptism in our ward on Sunday as well, and I was able to sing at the baptism, which was very fun. We didn't have a dinner appointment or anything on Easter, so I think we had quesadillas and yogurt.  BUT THEN, in the true spirit of Easter, Arksey and I played a little game of hockey with our brooms, rolley chairs, and a volleyball. I'm sure the people living in the apartments around us love us. We're the quietest neighbors ever. 

Next week are transfers, which means that thereis a possibility that Arksey and I could be split up, and either of us could move to a new area. I bet that we'll stay together and that a third sister will be added to us that Arksey will also be training. There are 10 more sister missionaries who will enter the mission field next week, and since almost all the pre-existing sisters are now training or being trained, we expect they'll just throw in tri-panionships everywhere. 

I am so excited for General Conference!!  We get to watch it in a member's home as long as we have an investigator there, so we're planning a party/luncheon with a single return sister missionary and some of our younger potential investigators. It should be a lot of fun. 

Sister Hutchings 

P.S. The photos are of the Toronto temple, Tebbs and me outside the temple, and me outside Conrod's door. He has a photo of himself outside his door that he talks to all the time.  So I took a photo with it :)  Enjoy!