Monday, June 24, 2013

LAST WEEK OF JUNE AHEAD!

Hello all!

I can't believe that we're already in the last week of June. It's insane. This Sunday it's possible that transfer calls will come, so if any of you are intending on sending mail to me on Sunday or Monday (and I'm sure you all are), please wait until next week (I should have P-day on Tuesday next week because of another dumb holiday on Monday...) so I can let you know if I am staying or if I am going, to let you know where to send post. Gracias :)

So this week was extremely strange, but I'm beginning to feel that way about all our weeks, so maybe strange is in fact normal, and normal would be strange. Thus is the life of a missionary.

So in our area and in the Elders' area we decided FINALLY to start a program to help us in our finding. We are running a "Stop Smoking Workshop" on Saturday mornings. So in preparation for that, Sister Mitchell and I spent time this week making fliers and developing a new program based off the current "Stop Smoking Workshop" manual we currently have. It took a lot of time and I was antsy to get outside and get off the computer. Much different than life before a mission, I might add. We also needed to put up the fliers we had made in as many busy places as we possibly could. As designated driver, I think that I had a LOT more fun with this than Sister Mitchell did, except for the fact that she was able to use the staple gun, and I was not. 
 
[Editor's note: Mallory has a colorful history with staple guns, which is also interwoven with her colorful history in emergency rooms.  So having Sister Mitchell in charge of the weapon is probably a wise decision.]
 
This mostly consisted of me driving around busy streets and pulling to the side every time I would see a wooden pole and Sister Mitchell would run out and staple the dang poster and run back before all of Toronto finished honking at me. My favorite moments were when I'd make her get out at red lights and she'd have to rush to hang them up and jump back in the car before it started moving again (...or sometimes while it was moving). We had a ton of fun with that.

It was also Jane's birthday this week, so we made her a cake (and by "we" I mean Sister Mitchell did the cake-making, while I contributed the fancy animal-print candles)! We went to her birthday bash on Friday as well and ate a ton more Filipino food. Sister Mitchell stayed away from the squid heads this time, and neither of us came home puking that night. Quite a success, I believe.

We taught Immanuel again this week, for the first time in a few weeks.  We both had to gather up strength and patience before we went there to teach him and his roommates, but apparently I didn't gather enough patience from on high.  In the heat of the discussion I lost my temper a bit (something to do with our ability to represent the church, etc.).  We are actually pretty good friends though, and he knew that I have a bit of a temper sometimes.... So when he noticed this was one such occasion he wisely said "Hutchings, I can see you're losing your temper with me, so let's talk about something else. I don't like this."  Thank heavens for that.  As missionaries we have the ability to be guided by the Lord in all of our work, but definitely we also have imperfections that get in the way of His work. I was a perfect example of that on this day. 

Would you like to know what breaks my heart? Good, honest, truth-seeking people who are targeted by the Adversary at every turn in their attempts to come to Christ. It is even more difficult when the missionaries are expected to have all the answers.  Because in many cases we don't. We can't help but carry the burdens of those we teach as we try to help them with their problems, but in reality there is little we can do except lead them to the source, and teach them to rely on Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. 
 
It gets really hard when Satan throws curve balls that none of us expects.  For example, currently we are trying to help an alcoholic begin following the Word of Wisdom and cut back dramatically on his drinking (then we'll conquer smoking etc.).  We're also trying to provide hope and comfort to a marriage under the stresses of dishonesty and infidelity when both in the marital companionship are people we know and love (while still working on baptism).  We're also working with a woman who wants to be baptized and has been attending church for five years, but because of her living situation she cannot.
 
As we were teaching one of our investigators, Madou, we talked a little about all the stuff that we try to help people with and he laughed and said "I didn't know you guys were family and social services workers too!"  It's true - emotional struggles for those we teach are almost always on our minds in addition to teaching and finding more people to teach.  But when I think deeply about it, it is a blessing to be able to love and care about people so much that their burdens become our own, and we strive to do all we can to help them feel peace.   

Personal note: last week I think that you were kind of joking, Dad, when you said that if I was overwhelmed with so many people to teach, when all else fails "just make a poster." But that really made me laugh because I was so far ahead of you. I have an entire WALL in our apartment covered in info about our investigators and the other people we are teaching. I attached a picture for proof :)

It's getting so hot and humid-- It reminds me of Florida! We finally got A/C in our building so I pretty much feel like royalty. I'm having all these really strange bites/sores show up on my legs (in particular my knees), which has been on-going for about two weeks now. I think I am diseased.
 
[Editor's note: Mallory also has a colorful history of thinking she is diseased.]
 
Luckily all my skirts cover my knees so no one knows they're being taught by a diseased missionary. Maybe that's the best blessing of obedience: not scaring people away.

Did any of you watch the Work of Salvation broadcast last night/afternoon from the First Presidency and the Twelve? Well, apparently we're going to be getting technological devices and be able to access email, facebook and other websites on a daily basis to aid us in our teaching. Hallelujah, it's about time. My dream would be to be the technological genius of the Canada Toronto mission.
 
[Editor's note: Yes, she also has a colorful history with the "technological genius" thing.]
 
I think they could make that a missionary assignment just for me. I could monitor technological uses and repair all the devices that are broken. I need to share my talents, right? Pretty sure Christ taught that exact thing. So basically we just wait until the First Presidency decides that it's time for our mission to implement these devices and greater technological availabilities in our mission via President Scott. I'll let you know when that blessed day comes. It will be so nice in teaching to be able to whip out a nice Mormon Message or a clip of a video to explain a principle much better. Ah, there's great beauty in modern-day revelation.

Sorry about that rant, clearly that made me happy :)

So next week I shall carry great tidings of news whether I shall in reality be in Etobicoke South for another transfer, and if Sister Mitchell is still my companion, or if there is a different place I am to be sent. Like I said earlier, our P-day will probably be moved to Tuesday. So you should probably expect that.... I kind of hope I stay here at least one more transfer - that would be six months in my first area.  But I love it here, so I'd take it!

I love you all very much, I hope that everything is going well for you all! I love hearing from you, so thank you for all the lovin' you mail my way.
 
Sister Hutchings
 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Farkle and Orange

Hello all! I hope that you all had a wonderful week and are enjoying the summertime.  All of the kids here are just getting out of school and are antsy to be out in the sun.  Sister Mitchell and I, however, relish in the times where we get to be in air-conditioned environments... Just a little bit different of a situation :)

I can't believe how quickly this transfer is going - we're on week five of six already - which means that there's a possibility I could receive a transfer call June 30th.  Just as a heads up.  I kind of hope that I will stay here longer, though.  I'd love to be here six months.  But It's not really up to me.... 

Throughout the mission we have a goal of 60 baptisms during the month of June in a big push called "The Harvest." We have been building up to this month for the past several months, fasting and praying, sowing, planting, and teaching.... Now it's time to "harvest."  Get it? Throughout the mission there is such drive and fire to contribute to this mission goal and such an incredible sense of unity, which is fantastic.  The only problem with is that with all the successes we've seen comes equal amounts of adversity.  In our specific area, Sister Mitchell and I are definitely experiencing our fair share of this success and adversity. We are teaching SO many people who have testimonies of the gospel, who know they need to be baptized, but who are struggling with one concern or another that they need to overcome. It requires a LOT of patience. They are so close.
 
We have run into quite a bit of sexual harassment type issues this week. Some of them are a little concerning, but most can be funny, actually. Don't worry, we're definitely doing all we can to be as safe as possible; but on Saturday we were teaching a thirty-something year old man, Madou, from Africa. I love Madou, he is really awesome and we're good friends with him. We were teaching him in a park by a busy street and this strange 17-year-old kid passed by and started hitting on me. He actually was quite aggressive and wouldn't go away no matter how politely I kept telling him otherwise.  Ultimately Madou got involved and the two of them almost got into a fight. It was pretty intense. Sister Mitchell and I didn't quite know what to do. That kid was kind of an idiot, and once Madou stood up and the kid saw that Madous was a huge 6'6" man, I think a bit more sense came to his mind and he ended up leaving. It took Madou a little time to calm down and focus back on the Plan of Salvation, though. We were really glad that he was there for that episode, because that kid really wouldn't leave us alone.  

We teach women and men for sure, but the majority of the people we're teaching who are progressing are men. And at first we thought that that was strange, but now we're starting to think that that may be great for our safety and protection.

We've been working with a less-active member of the church named Frank. Frank is awesome and he invited us to dinner this past week. Because it was just going to be the three of us at dinner, we'd have to eat outside. It started pouring rain when we headed down to go to our dinner appointment with Frank, and we weren't sure if he was going to cancel with us or not. Sure enough, when we got to Frank's house, he had set up a canopy over his picnic table in the back yard and had all the homemade food waiting for us. We ate in the POURING rain and we and our food got a little wet throughout the evening. We just couldn't help but laugh at all the weird situations that missionaries find themselves in, completely outside of normal life.  

There is a wonderful, newly married couple in our ward, the Kays, who recently moved in. They needed help painting the whole interior of their house this week, so of course the missionaries were more than happy to help. We had a ton of fun, but I know for a fact I will never paint any bathroom I have orange. (Sorry Emma, I know that's your favorite color...). 

One of the people we're teaching, Paul, is planning to be baptized on June 26th. I am SO excited for him. His wife is a member of the church and their long-term goal is to be sealed in the temple. It has been so incredible working with them. We played Farkle with them this week, which was great. Guess who won? :)  

Paul is quitting smoking this week, and Tuesday is day one. We asked him what we could do to help him quit, and he said he needed us to be with him ALL Tuesday. That's a little impractical, but we said we could spend some time with him, for sure. So he decided that instead he'd need us to go running with him for many hours tomorrow.  That's also a little impractical, but we said okay. 
 
I think I must be losing my mind. He just wants to run all day so that he doesn't smoke instead. And I said that we'd do it with him.
 
Perhaps he just wants to kill off the missionaries so he doesn't need to get baptized.... Sister Mitchell and I will probably be dying on the side of the road while he runs circles around us.  It'll be interesting for sure.  If I don't email next week, it's most likely because I died running in the pursuit of Paul's baptism, okay?  Keep that in mind.  

There is much work to be done out here, and we are doing all that we can. We are definitely enjoying ourselves as well, which I think is crucial.  After all, it doesn't do any good to testify of the joy of this gospel if we look like miserable missionaries.  So don't worry, I am working hard, staying as safe as I can, and enjoying being an instrument of the Lord.

Sister Hutchings


 

Monday, June 10, 2013

So. Dang. Busy.

I love P-days so much. I swear I don't think my body can physically make it another day when I fall into bed Sunday night, and magically it is restored for this blessed day.

It is so busy here, I swear that I can't keep up. But I am trying desperately. This week there were so many times Sister Mitchell and I were frantically running from appointment to appointment, and couldn't help but laugh in between as a result of all the crazy things that happen to us!

Jen has been doing so well since her baptism. I don't know if I told you this or not, but she lives with a LOT of animals. A lot of cats, a dog, a hamster, etc. But this week one of her cats had kittens! And I got to hold them! It was quite fun actually. I haven't actually told her that I don't like animals yet, and I don't intend to do so.... A lot of people in Toronto have animals and it's a big personal trial in my life. I'm working on it. 

Sister Mitchell and I helped Jen and her roommate Lisa (whom we are also teaching) move furniture around their apartment. Apparently word got around that we're good movers, because the next day we helped some members in our building move a piano. They actually asked us to call the elders and ask them to do it (which we did), but they had just settled down to eat at a fancy restaurant so it looked like help from the sisters was all they were going to get. Neither of us had ever moved a piano before, but we did the best we could and hauled that pretty little thing up a few apartment floors and into their apartment.

So I wasn't called to speak a foreign language when I was called to serve in Toronto, but I am learning fast that I was called to interpret many languages. We need the gift of the interpretation of tongues desperately. One of our investigators whom we taught this week, Csogup (Shoo-joop), is from India and speaks Tibetan as his primary language. He apparently thinks that he speaks English better than he does and talks VERY fast and blurs all his words together and it takes an INCREDIBLE amount of focus in those lessons to piece together what he is saying, and even more to explain to him the message of the gospel. Quite a difficult task. My head hurts just thinking about it, actually.

Do you know what I love? I love music. It is one of the things that I miss most while serving a mission, no longer able to listen to whatever I want to, whenever I want to (once in awhile when we walk into a store and I hear T-Swift playing you have no idea how excited I get), but I have come to understand that that love for music is a good way for me to relate to people. We have someone we're working with who is 16 years old. One of the young women in our ward introduced us to Karen when she was doing a project on Mormonism for her school, and she wanted to interview the missionaries. Since then we have been meeting with Karen and they young woman (Carol) regularly and teaching her about the church. This week when we got to their house Karen played guitar for us, and we had a fun little music time. It was awesome. She played us some Mumford & Sons that she had been practicing and it was heavenly. One of our other investigators, Immanuel (who bore his testimony last week) asked to be baptized this Sunday and was upset that I told him that there were a few procedures that needed to be followed and that it would need to happen the week after. He was pretty offended and argued with us for a long time. I carry a hymn book with me wherever we go, and in that moment I decided to offer to sing a hymn for him (because I knew that he, too, enjoyed music). It was just what we needed to bring the spirit of the Lord back and to calm him down. What a blessing it is to have music part of our lives in all capacities.

So our ward mission leader is Filipino, and so are a ton of the people we are teaching. We are having a hard time helping Jane and Joshua with some of the concerns that they are having, so we thought that it would be fun if we had a fellowshipping-Filipino party at Brother Cruz's house! This Friday that masterful plan came to pass, and it was awesome. Sister Mitchell accidentally ate a squid head and freaked out about it, but other than that it was a joyous occasion :) Filipinos apparently LOVE karaoke, and they told me that I was a "true Filipino" because I was more than happy to join right in. It was a flashback to Em's wedding because a young woman in the ward, Nicole (we're teaching her mother Michelle), and I tag-teamed singing "Crazy in Love" by Beyonce. It was fantastic. Such fun.

This work is crazy and moving forward at a very fast pace, but it is wonderful :)

Peace.

Sister Hutchings

P.S. I sent you photos of the kittens, the karaoke party, and a new mural that they're painting on my street!! I wanted to ask the painter if he could paint my face in it, but I haven't been able to catch the sneaky guy at work yet! I'll let you know how that goes....


Monday, June 3, 2013

Be careful what you wish for

So this last week was a very strange one, but I was extremely excited to come to the library today to write about it, because it was quite unbelievable all the things that went down in such a short time (but don't be fooled, it didn't really feel like a short amont of time during it all).  

We are extremely busy in Etobicoke South. But now I find out that I love the car and I hate the car. Yeah, I don't know how to be grateful for anything apparently and I'm working on that. Before we had the car, it was frustrating because we weren't able to do all the things we wanted to because our mode of transportation limited us: The Simple Life.  Now, we have little restriction on our ability to transport ourselves thus we find oursevles overbooking and gloriously teaching ourselves to exhaustiong: The Not-So-Simple Life. We taught an astounding 26 lessons last week and barely were in contact with half of our investigators. It's troubling - but awesome.

Sister Mitchell and I got food poisioning this week, which really put a damper on things. We can't quite decide if it was from the hamburgers we treated ourselves to for lunch, or the dinner we had at a member's house that evening. Perhaps our week was too boring and we needed this to "spice it up" a little bit. Regardless, I threw up on the side of the road for the second time during my mission (yeah, we keep statistics for things like this :)), and spent the next 24 hours incredibly dizzy, lightheaded and queasy. It was spectactular. In real life I think I would have cancelled all my plans and attempted to recover, but in missionary life we cannot afford that luxury. Sister Mitchell and I (both of the same ill health) proceeded on with our day. We felt like real troopers, let me tell ya.  

But it was all worth it, it always is. This is why:  

A couple of weeks ago Sister Arksey met a man on the bus named Immanuel (from Cameroon). It wasn't until this Thursday that we were able to finally meet with him and his roommate Carlos (from Mozambique). Our first lesson with them went pretty well, but they definitely asked some tough questions (they googled "Mormons" before we came) and we addressed issues regarding baptisims for the dead, plural marriage, Mountain Meadows Massacre, etc. But by the end of it, they were both very interested and we had a return appointment for Saturday. Immanuel told us as we were leaving "You must come for four hours on Saturday in order to answer all of my questions." Perhaps I was insensitive, because I simply laughed and told him "No way could we handle four hours!" We returned on Saturday with copies of the Book of Mormon for them in their respective languages and taught them the Plan of Salvation. This was by far my least favorite time teaching the Plan of Salvation at that point on my mission. Immanuel had a LOT of questions and we bounced all over the place. He really struggled with the concept of man having agency, and he and the member we brought with us got in quite the confrontation over it. Immanuel needed to be "proved" the Plan of Salvation was true from the Bible and was not too keen about the Book of Mormon.  He kept telling us to "convince him"... blah blah blah.  I got really sick of it.  Once I had had enough I just said "Look Immanuel, we are not going to convince you of anything. That is not our role here. Our sole purpose is to teach you what we know to be true from the scriptures and from the prophets and invite you to pray about it and ask God. He will convince you of its truth, not us. True conversion will never be obtained man to man as words of religion and theology are exchanged and discussed. Your only chance to by "convinced" or to obtain conversion is to let God touch your heart. Not to have our words enter your mind and change what you think. We are here as individuals because God has touched each of our hearts and we have changed because of it. Everyone can experience that if they turn to their Father and ask Him to know the truth."  We left the books with them and arranged for them to come to church the next day.

Sister Mitchell and I are just sitting in the typical testimony meeting Sunday when I look up to see Immanuel approaching the stand. On his first Sunday in church. I hit Sister Mitchell and we both couldn't believe our eyes. She just looked at me "What do we do?"  I had no response but "Uhhh, pray?"  So we poured out our little hearts into prayer until the moment of truth and Immanuel began to speak. I have never been so nervous on my mission as I was at that point. We are of so little faith.
 
Immanuel started talking and bore a fantastic testimony. He told of his search throughout his life to find the church of Christ. That since he was young he has been from church to church, that he had been baptized five different times, because each church told him his previous baptism was invalid. He said that he had had so many questions that no one could answer, and he always ended up frustrated and eventually gave up. He decided that the Lord would guide him to where he needed to be, in His own timing. He then told about how he met Sister Arksey on the bus and was trying to be polite in accepting her card, and didn't have any intention of stepping foot in the church; but since we kept calling to set up an appointment, he finally accepted, and he told of our first lesson. He said he was so intrigued that he wanted us to come back for four hours the next day so we could help him with more of his questions. He also shared how our second lesson went, and how he expected us to "convince him" and what my response to him was about that. After we left, he thought about the things we had taught, and decided since he told us he'd read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, he should at least be an honest man. He read from Moroni 10:3-5 and quoted it over the pulpit. He said he loved the promise contained in it to every man that their answer can come from God. He also read in Moroni 7 how we choose between good and evil, and how only good things come from God. He said that if only good things from God, then perhaps this Book of Mormon really was from God, and we really were on to something here. He then prayed about it, and knew that he had to come to church the next day and see for himself what it was like. He said that he still has a lot to learn, but he feels that perhaps this is the path the God has been leading him to for much of his life.

I was crying. Okay, nearly sobbing. As a missionary, you see little miracles everyday, but you never expect anything like that to happen. Heavenly Father loves us, unconditionally and irrefutably. He is ALWAYS taking care of us.

Sister Hutchings

P.S. The photos are some classy photos of my new best friend and me.
There's also one of Sister Mitchell and me outside the library. Enjoy the fantastic tan line on my feet. That's my favorite part of that photo :)