Monday, May 27, 2013

Absolute Craziness!

This week was without a doubt the most hectic week of my mission - I thought that I was going to explode at any minute. In the last week we had transfers, a late P-day, my first exchange with my new Sister Training Leader (on my birthday), my birthday, a late district meeting, planning a baptism for Jen (with our ward mission leader out of town), and somehow still ended up teaching 14 lessons and hitting standards. It was insane.

I never imagined the pressure that I would feel being the only one in the area who knew entirely what was going on. Sister Mitchell is great, and she is trying the best that she can to get to know the ward members and investigators at rapid speed, but in such a short time, I felt like everything was on my shoulders this week. Especially since she was gone all day Friday for the exchange and I had another new companion. I had three different companions this week. The people we were teaching were making fun of me: "Sister Hutchings, what are you doing to these poor sisters that they keep asking to leave you?"

I loved serving with Sister Tofa (my STL) for the day that she came into Etobicoke South with me.  Though I must admit, when they called me Wednesday and asked if they could exchange the next day for ALL of my birthday, I almost said no. I was very tempted. There was a very long, awkward pause on the phone before I forced out: "Okay." I give really good first impressions, I know.... I wasn't planning on being a disobedient or bad missionary or anything like that, but I wanted to treat myself a little more than usual on my birthday. For example, maybe take a little longer shower, and eat a nice cupcake, something alone those lines. I didn't want someone watching my back all birthday long so I'd have to be on my best-behavior and stressing about that even more. But immediately I learned that Sister Tofa (who is from Australia) was not like that at all. We had a jolly time together. In fact, one instance when we were street contacting, she started talking to a woman about the church who was waiting at the stop light. The woman apparently would have rather died than talk to sister Tofa about the gospel because she ran out in front of a bus to get away from us. Don't worry, she ended up safe. We were kind of laughing about the plight of people to avoid us sometimes... It's insane. We're really not that scary.

So yesterday the second person got baptized whom I have taught. If I thought Orlando's baptism was a gong show, I didn't know what was in store for me. So Jen is pregnant and unable to bend. We had to be pretty creative in finding a way to have her baptized. I asked everyone: My ward mission leader, my bishop, my district leader, my zone leaders, my sister training leader etc., and NO ONE had actually seen a pregnant person be baptized in an alternative way, but they all had a few ideas. We brainstormed baptizing her in a chair, having her kneel and lean forward (we learned soon after she couldn't bend forward, either), having her lay flat like a board and then pushing her in the water, actually laying her flat on top of a board and submerging her, taking her to the swimming pool across the street and just dunking straight down... the list went on for a very long time. So on Saturday at Jen's baptismal interview, we agreed to baptize her in a chair, but we cut off the back two legs so her knees wouldn't pop above the surface of the water when tipped back the chair.  We also asked two men to baptize her for safety. She was scared out of her mind. She thought she was quite funny exclaiming "No,not the chair!!" ... all Sunday long. But alas, she did get baptized in the two-legged chair, and although it did float and proved to be a little difficult in the font, it ended up working. I don't think I've ever held my breath through an entire baptism before, but there's a first time for everything, right?

In case you're curious, the Cruze (our new car) is doing quite well. I love driving it, and it loves having me drive it. We are one. That's how I know.

Sister Mitchell and I currently have 32 investigators we are working with. She's dying because she came from an area where they only had 4, and I'm dying because I have no idea how on earth we can take care of them all! But I look back over the past three months I have been serving in Etobicoke South and I marvel at how much it has changed. I got here in February when we had nothing: No place to live, no mode of transportation, no Books of Mormon, no solid boundaries, no people to teach, and no clue about anything. And now we are fortunate to be serving in one of the most successful and prosperous areas of the mission. What a blessing it is to be part of the Lord's work. Everybody has a part of Heavenly Father's plan, whether they're members of this church currently or not, whether they know of it or not. I just hope that I can be worthy of this great responsibility that Heavenly Father has given to me. I'm trying my best.
 
Ammon explains my life: "Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever" (Alma 26:12). Each day I am weak. True story. But the only thing that gets me up at 6:30 each morning (yes, Dad, people really can change:)), is knowing that I can be an instrument through which miracles can come forth.

What a beautiful work.

Sister Hutchings

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I GOT A CAR!!!!

For those of you who are avid followers of my blog and have been in a state of consternation because there has been no post yet this week, I remind you that (1) Monday was a holiday in Canada (so we move P-day ahead one day), and (2) this week was also our transfer week (so we move P-day ahead another day).  This is why the post doesn't come up until today.  But it's worth the wait. 

So... transfers came and went, and I still reside at 52 Mabelle Ave.  

BUT I GOT A CAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Do you think I am excited at all?  I am very excited. It is a beautiful little thing, a 2013 Chevy Cruze. I am the first person to really drive it.  It's the nicest car I've ever driven, as a matter of fact. 

I'm not less excited about this, but I'll spare you the exclamation points.... I also got a new companion:) Her name is Sister Mitchell, and she is from St George, UT. She came out with me actually, but I didn't know her at all because I came out with 28 sisters. Sister Mitchell went to Dixie and studied English literature (which is awesome) and is 23 years old. She is the oldest of five children and is the second to serve a mission (her younger brother just returned home from a mission in Spokane).  She is laid back like me, which is great, so we get along well so far.  We're still getting to know each other, but I think it'll be a really good transfer!!  
The last photo of Sister Arksey and me together. 
We had a luncheon with the Murphys
in their backyard the day before transfers. 
It was a romantic family gathering. 


It's really difficult to even remember what happened this week, since it lasted SO DANG LONG. I thought I was going to die going a week and a half between P-days, but apparently Heavenly Father doesn't want me to die on my mission, because he helped me get to this point today.  


This week on Sunday, Orlando was confirmed a member of the church, and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. This was one of the more powerful and sacred experiences of my mission so far. Orlando had requested our old Bishop to confirm him, and in his blessing he was promised some incredible things.  It was amazing to hear the plans that Heavenly Father has for Orlando, a 61-year-old man who is legally blind, who thought there wasn't much more to his life-- How wrong he was! There is so much more potential that Orlando has left to fulfill, and I am so grateful that I was able to help Orlando come closer to learning the plans that his Father has for him in this life, and for the life after this one.  


One of our investigators, Madou.
He's from a place in Africa called Bakinau
(I butchered that spelling, but I can't google it, sorry).
He's awesome, and we had way too much fun with the camera.
So I turn 21 in two days, and I'm pretty excited about it.  I got so excited about it, that I colored the page in my planner on May 24th with confetti and balloons.  I know, I go all out, right? :)  I did leave the cards and the wrapped presents I have so far received wrapped, to try to make my birthday as exciting as can be. We also have District Meeting on Friday, so I told my district leader that it was my birthday so he could "plan accordingly"... But I doubt anything will come of that. Some people just don't take hints quite as well as I think they should :)

As designated driver of our amazing new car and as the veteran missionary in Etobicoke South, I feel a lot more responsibility now since I am the only one who knows all the people in our teaching pool etc. It is quite a strange feeling: both liberating and frantic, really.  But this is all part of the mission experience, right?  


A photo of Sister Arksey and me with
Jane, Joshua and the family they live with.
They live with a member named Rosalyn
and her mother, Evelyn. They're from the Philippines.
Jen is planning on being baptized this week, which is very exciting! She is pregnant, and we are having to be quite creative about HOW exactly to baptize her since she cannot bend backwards. I think we're going with the chair method. Which involves sitting her in a chair in the font, and tipping in backwards until she is immersed. Don't ask me how exactly that will work, because I don't know. Neither does anyone else. But apparently now that I'm in charge (and I am the designated driver, after all) I'm supposed to have all the answers.  False.  I do not.  So it might be another gong show baptism.  But it should be fine, because the only request Jen had for her baptism was that we have lasagna and caesar salad.  The woman is so set on those two delicacies that she prayed for them twice in her prayer on Tuesday.  So regardless as to whether or not the chair falls and the font floods over and whatever else could go wrong, I'm confident that if I secure some lasagna and caesar salad, she'll have a testimony that God loves her.  So that's my plan.  I think Arksey would be proud :)


I love you all and miss you tremendously! I am so happy that I stayed here in Etobicoke! There is a lot of work for me to do here, and I do it happily so that others can know of the joy that this gospel brings. Please stay safe!

Sister Hutchings


 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bonus Post: Interview with Mallory


So I recently received a letter asking me some wonderful questions.  I thought you might enjoy both the questions and the responses.  So here they are:

· What are some of the things that you wish you would have done that you didn’t do, before leaving on your mission? 

I wish that I would have kept a better journal before my mission of the experiences I had had that increased my testimony.  Oftentimes when I am teaching I know that I have a story to relate from my life about how I gained a testimony of a certain principle, and it takes me too long to think of it (if it ever does come to me). 

I also wish that I would have kept up on my piano skills better, and that I was able to sight-read most of the hymns from the hymn book.  Sure I can play, but only poorly, and not well enough to play in church.  I am surprised how much musical skills are needed in congregations throughout the world!  

Also, I wish that I would have recorded the blessing that I received when I was set apart as a missionary, and that I had typed it up and brought it with me. I frequently refer back to the promises from that blessing in my mind, and wish that I had all of it written down!

· What has been the hardest thing that you have experienced while you have been gone?

The hardest things that I have experienced for me have been pretty much what I expected, but not in the magnitude that I expected:) But I know that these are VERY different for each person who decides to serve a mission.

Most missionaries who have never been away from home for a long time struggle with things associated with leaving home (homesickness, living on their own, culture shock, etc), none of which really were a problem for me.

I have had a problem with the rigidness of the missionary schedule, and not being able to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, essentially however I wanted:) Ha ha - I'm still struggling with that!

· What has been the most surprising part of this whole experience for you?

Actually, one of the more surprising things has been how homesick I haven't been (especially once I arrived at the MTC), and the complete difference you feel once you are a missionary. Once at the MTC, you feel a different spirit INSTANTLY. It is incredible. The Spirit really carries you from place to place, and protects you (for the most part) from the feelings of homesickness as you are obedient and doing all that you can to be a good missionary.

I also love how much you can still be yourself as a missionary. This might sound dumb, but I knew that I did NOT want to turn into a missionary robot as soon as I entered the field, as some people do.  So I do all that I can to make sure I am still myself. We still have humor and silliness in our days, and really quite enjoy ourselves.  I think that is vitally important. I feel so bad for the missionaries who look so serious all the time, I think I would die if I had to be like that for 18 months straight.  Heavenly Father knows that is not a feat I am capable of :)

· What do you think is the most important thing that teenagers should be doing as high school students to help them prepare themselves for going on a mission?

I thought of a few things for this one, many which probably won't be different than what many of the youth are probably already doing. By studying and learning the gospel (especially attending seminary!), the youth will be so very prepared for a mission. The majority of the best scriptures we use in teaching are scripture mastery scriptures! I wish I remembered more of them.

Also by being examples of missionaries NOW. I found that I was not afraid to share the gospel once I got to the mission field, mainly because it felt no different to me than it did in high school or when I lived in Florida and people would ask me about the church, except for I just do it now 24/7.

It's also good for teenagers now to know that ANYONE and EVERYONE can serve a mission. I know missionaries who are very effective who are quiet and shy, who are converts and the only members in their family, who are serving at the ages of 23, 25, and 27, who never considered serving a mission before they turned in their papers, etc. The Lord can and will use everyone on a mission.

_____

Feel free to write me with more questions if any of you have them - I'd be happy to answer them :)  I also really like packages.  But maybe I've said that before. 

Love,

Sister Hutchings

Mother's Day and Me

Me and a Marsh.  Fancy.
Oh my heavens, yesterday was probably the most glorious day of my mission to date.  Despite the fact that I am sick, that we got caught in a hail storm for a good hour and a half, I got to converse with my wonderful family (because it was Mother's Day), and Orlando got baptized!

So I generally dislike Sundays on my mission (I don't know if I've said that before or not), because it is NOT a day of rest for missionaries.  Just another day of work, and I don't really like that. But there's not much I can do about it....  But I was very excited when I awoke yesterday!  Mother's Day is a fantastic holiday:)  I got a rose at church, because of my status as a "future mother," and I carried that thing around non-stop the rest of the day because it was the lovliest thing I've had in my possession for a long time.  Right after church we had planned to have Orlando's baptismal service.

There is a phrase that Canadians use (which I think is rather silly) that is beginning to stick with me: "gong show." When things are going crazy and it seems like a hectic circus and such, Canadians say "It was such a gong show today!" or "It looked like a gong show in there." So let me tell you, the process of Orlando's baptism was a gong show. He was getting baptized with a boy named Deepak (one of the elders' investigators), and the whole thing was madness. The mission president came; we started late; our newly-released bishop who was baptizing Deepak didn't show for a very long time; Orlando forgot a towel and other necessities; we were running around like chickens with our heads cut off.  Plus, the elders organized the program and apparently they thought it would be a funny joke to assign me to conduct the music. I dread conducting music. And they know that.  
Arksey and me with Orlando at his baptism!

Amidst all this chaos and stress, I seemed to forget that one can actually feel the spirit at a baptisim (I know, I'm awful, right?).  But when Orlando stepped into the font with Brother Jinkerson and was lifted out of the water, it felt like a wall had hit me - a thick wall that made me choke-up inside; all the chaos was forgotten.  Following this wall came a flood of thoughts, mostly of gratitude and amazement, that I had been able to help Orlando reach this point in his life.  Orlando had been converted to the gospel of Christ long before I had ever met him.  I am the luckiest missionary to have been trusted by the Lord to be His instrument to help guide Orlando to the restored gospel on the earth today - which contains many truths Orlando had been searching for over the years.

Jane and her sweet son Joshua are preparing to be baptized this week, and I learned so many things from Orlando's baptisim that I plan to improve upon in my planning and preparation; but I am learning very quickly that none of this work has much of anything to do with me. It is all whatever the Lord has planned. All that I can do is prepare. To make sure that I am worthy to accept whatever assignment the Lord needs me to do, whenever that time comes. It makes me sad to think that at some points in my life, perhaps the Lord might have needed me to help someone out, or have a part in His great work, but because of my personal unworthiness or lack of preparation, He had to delay or even rely on someone else. I hope desperately to never have that happen again! I want to be ready to do what He needs me to do.

At a member's house demonstrating
the proper way to trampoline
Next week are transfers, and also P-Day is on Wednesday. That will probably kill me because I really like P-Days. But I guess I'll survive.... I know that Sister Arksey and I will for sure be split up, and that one of us will stay here in Etobicoke and one of us will leave - AH!  This could be troublesome, because I have basically the whole ward directory memorized here, as well as the bus maps and all the other technical detail information - so I keep taunting Arksey that she's probably going to get stuck here alone and will come to appreciate finally what a great resource that I truly am :) Yeah, that was funny to me until Arksey started making me write out all my genius before transfers so I don't leave with my knowledge. I should have thought that one out a little better.

Last week we had a stroke of genius in regard to our lame summer-shopping spree: Goodwill. You might think that's a joke, but it's not. That place is hip-hoppin' with missionary attire. What a blessed store.

Sister Hutchings

Monday, May 6, 2013

O Happy May!

Another week has gone by, and I can't believe that next week May will be halfway through!

We are cruisin' in Etobicoke South, which is so much fun. We are working really hard, and seeing some great miracles. We hit standards for the third week in a row, and it is certainly envigorating. Too bad the Arksey-Hutchings duo (Arksey really wants Starksy & Hutch to stick, but I don't think it will) will be split up in two weeks! But we've been doing our best to make sure we leave a legacy in Etobicoke as the first sister missionaries here.

So a little bit ago I was asked whether we exercise in the morning... of course I do, because I'm an obedient missionary. Usually that consists of a lot of sit ups, push ups, and leg lifts. We couldn't quite decide if it was safe enough to leave our apartment before it got light in the morning, so until recently we've just exercised in our apartment. However this week, I was a SUPER obedient missionary, if we're speaking in terms of exercise. We had to pick up the nasty baptismal clothes to be washed before the baptism this coming week, and drop them off at our Ward Mission Leader's apartment. When we got to his building we knew what the door looked like and the last two numbers of the apartment, but we couldn't remember which floor it was on (which were the first two numbers of his address). We didn't have the actual apartment number on us, so with arms full of baptismal clothes, we hopped into the elevator and pushed every single button (except into the 20s, because we thought the apartment was for sure on a lower floor than the 20th).  I was the appointed runner and Arksey was the elevator door-holder: so on each floor the elevator stopped and I ran sprints to the door "_ _ 09" to try to see if the actual door looked like Brother Cruz's door or not.  Then I ran back to the elevator before the door closed.   It was exhausting, and I was absolutely sore the next day. Yeah, clearly I'm in shape; so you can all be proud of me for that one. But we ended up giving up on our unsuccessful plan at 1909 (the 19th floor), when the Elders in our ward called us back and told us Brother Cruz lived on 2109.  Blast, we were so close! That was seriously the best night's sleep I've had my whole mission so far.

This week I had an interesting experience on account of Sister Arksey's new leadership position (she's one of the new "Sister Training Leaders") and a fancy meeting she had to go to on Wednesday.  Because of the meeting, I went on an exchange all day!  The exchange meant that I got to spend the day working with a different missionary.  Sister Hall (who had been out on her mission for three weeks) became my new companion, and she got to come to serve in Etobicoke South with me. We had a car for the day, and I got to drive (which was extremely refreshing. It was interesting getting used to kilometers as opposed to miles per hour, but I adjusted quickly...). We had much in common, including our taste in music. We talked about Mumford & Sons, Coldplay, Adele, Imagine Dragons etc. all lunch long. It was fantastic. We did some work down on the lakeshore and in the more downtown areas as well, because she doesn't serve in the city. It was so fun! I loved it. Apparently once the Sister Training Leaders start their actual callings next transfer, we'll be going on a lot more exchanges and such. So that should be interesting...

Orlando was not able to get baptized this week, which was unfortunate, but he's on board to be baptized next week! I really hope that he's able to do so. We're trying to get his family to support him and to come, since that's kind of the struggle at this time. He has such an incredible desire to follow Christ and to be baptized, I hope that he will be able to do so without restraint from external pressure and such.

I am realizing very fast out here that I cannot really claim an individual part of the success and conversion that I am witnessing in the lives of those I teach. This is the Lord's work, it is done in His way and in His time. All that we do as missionaries is pray that He will guide us where He wants us, and get to work every day. As we do that, we are seeing miracles take place that I don't even feel worthy to witness. It is a tremendous blessing to be a missionary. It is fantastic to be in the city of Toronto. I promise that I'm staying safe (it seems like the warmer weather makes people nicer and less shifty, by the way), and that I am doing all I can to not waste the Lord's precious time.

Take care!

Sister Hutchings

P.S. The photos are of me sporting my new maxi skirt that I probably wear every day. That t-shirt I also wear every day. It's both embarassing and not embarrasing at the same time, because I'm a missionary.  But some people think I'm a hippy too, which is a fun misconception. The couple with me in the photos are Abram and Tamra Lospe. They are incredible. They just got sealed in the temple last weekend! They come out teaching with us several times a week, and give us a ton of rides. We love them.