Monday, July 29, 2013

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY LITTLE LIZZIE!

I must preface this email with a HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Miss Elizabeth, because I am SO excited that she is turning 8 years old!! I know this is such a fantastic birthday, and I wish more than anything I could be there to celebrate with you all.  I'm super jealous about the mustache party.  So cool.  

Also, I received an excellent package from Sister Yose and her dashing primary class of future-missionaries, so I wanted to thank them for their thoughtfulness and kindness:) Anything and everything brightens my day that I receive from all of you.  

This week was a really good one, which I was glad that it turned out that way (since it didn't start up in the most uplifting way for me). I busied myself with a typical-Mallory thing to do: redecorating and renovating our entire apartment. I am so sad that I forgot to take photos to email today, but we were extremely frenzied last night (don't worry, you'll get that story too), so they slipped my mind. I bet you'll be on pins and needles waiting to see the pictures of our stylin' missionary apartment next week. That's how I roll: keepin' people in suspense.  

This was the last week that we saw Frank. He was a less-active member we've been working with since I've been in the field, and he is one of my favorite people I've come to know on my mission. Sister Mitchell and I definitely were choking back tears. We helped him move out this week and it was awful. He's moving in with his family in Orillia for the next few months until he jumps ship to live in Indonesia and turn into a nomad all over southern Asia. He single-handedly provided furniture and groceries and other things for about four sets of missionaries and their apartments this week.  Sister Mitchell and I were crazy busy delivering them. We're definitely going to get in trouble for using too many kilometers this month.... But it's all in the name of love, right? That's in Moulin Rouge somewhere, and everything in Moulin Rouge is true.
 
Anyways, at one point, Sister Mitchell and I loaded up the Zone Leaders' van with a futon, a set of dresser drawers, and myriad other strange things and took them to the Weston sisters (Jessica Nuttall and her companion). It was up to the four of us to haul them up their 8 flights of stairs in their un-air conditioned building. It was kind of a disaster. The futon was a mess. We desperately struggled hauling it up and around the first corner/banister and I swear we removed every square inch of paint that was once on that wall (don't worry, we don't really live in classy apartment buildings anyway). Luckily Sister Nuttall, who had difficulty contributing to the lifting effort, contributed tremendously with her logical mind and came up with a much better way for us to carry the futon up and around the other flights of stairs (no, there weren't any elevators, in case you were wondering).
 
After that disaster, which probably took us 30 mins, I was in a no-nonsense, get-down-to-business mood (which I understand is quite frightening when I get into such moods). We marched right back down for the heavier of the two objects: that cursed drawer set. Maybe I'm crazy, but I just grabbed one end, and two of the three sisters had the other end and whoever wasn't lifting held the door, and we just went for it. I wouldn't let them stop for breaks. I just had whoever was tired on the other end rotate out with the door-holder and we carried that baby right up in a very short amount of time. Sister Cross called me the Beast Sister after that. That's not a flattering name whatsoever, but I kind of liked it :) I wish we had video-taped that episode, it would have been a crack-up, for sure.

So I'm pretty sure one of our new investigators started Sam's Club with Sam Walton.... Or at least that's the story he's stickin' with. His name is James Hunter and he used to be a multi-millionaire and after a couple rough business deals, he now owes a lot of money, still has a ton of great contacts, and lives here in Toronto in government housing. He's a chipper old man, and is reading the Book of Mormon like wildfire.

We had the greatest experiences with Jane and Josh this week. Their baptism is supposed to be this week, but Jane's best friend (who is a member of the church) is in the Philippines right now, and will be back in two weeks. So we're waiting until then. We've been teaching them for a LONG time it feels like, and they've been attending church for even longer. It feels like they are members already. It has been incredible seeing their progression in the gospel, and their testimonies grow. It is evident that no matter how we might want to rush things, it is all in the Lord's time. I know that Jane and Josh will truly be converted in this gospel when they are baptized, and will not be unaware of the magnitude of the promises they will be making with their Father in Heaven. We had a powerful lesson with them where I just laid it out to her honestly and said "Jane, it's time. You know this is true, and you know you shouldn't put it off any longer." She was so cute, because usually she has gotten defensive about baptism the past month or two, but this time she got this huge smile and kind of squealed and said "You really think so??"; to which I responded with my testimony that she has been ready for awhile and that the Lord has been waiting for her to act on her faith. In church yesterday, I believe 16-year-old Josh reached his point of conversion. He bore his testimony in Young Men's, and when we were talking to Jane about being an example to her family of the gospel, she reached out for Josh's hand and asked him, "Josh, do you think you're ready to be baptized?" He thought about it for a moment, nodded his head and replied, "Yes, this is what we need to do, Mom." Ahhh, it was so incredible. I love them so much. She gave me a huge hug and said she is going to pray that I won't be transferred before they get baptized. I told her it didn't matter, that her baptism was about the Lord and her family, not me.... But secretly I think I'm going to be praying for the same thing.

I don't think I ever want to leave Etobicoke. Do people stay in one area their whole missions?

DID I TELL YOU I'M LEARNING SPANISH?? Yes, Dad, I'm serious, don't laugh :) Sister Mitchell is learning French kind of, and I'm learning Spanish, kind of. There's this ridiculous part of our weekly planning in Preach My Gospel that asks us to make a "relationship goal." I usually make fun of that sentence because it sounds like we're dating, but then I begged Sister Mitchell to find a fun "relationship goal" for us, just for the heck of it. Thus, our language study began. We pick an English, French, and Spanish word of the day that we didn't know before and each of us has to use it sometime during that day. Usually we try to integrate it in our contacting or our conversation, or even in a lesson if we're really bold. Trilingualism is super impressive, especially if you're awful at it :) But we're having a good time, carrying our mini-Spanish and mini-French conversation books with us everywhere. Life skills at their best.

Oh, I forgot to tell you why last night was frenzied. We were making copies at the church and Sister Mitchell locked the keys in the car. And when I say Sister Mitchell, I actually mean me.... Whoops :) I locked them in the trunk on accident. With both our wallets. And scriptures. Basically our entire lives. Don't worry, I was as dramatic about the situation as it merited, trust me. The Zone Leaders love us a LOT. One of the mission office senior couple elders drove down this morning with the spare to relieve us of the consequences of our idiocy. What a blessed man. Perfect timing to email for P-day!

I love you all very much. Don't doubt that I am working hard, and therefore witnessing incredible blessings from serving my Heavenly King.

Sister Hutchings


 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Nancy Drew, baby!

Wow, what a fantastic week. It truly was a wonderful one.

So the two weeks prior to this one, Sister Mitchell and I noticed a lull in the progression of the work in our area, so each week during our long weekly planning session we would come up with a new "focus" for the week.  Still, for the last two consecutive weeks nothing seemed to be moving forward. So we tried it again with a new focus this week and we finally hit the nail on the head as to what Heavenly Father would have us do (at least we think so), and thus our handy-dandy "Less-Active Initiative" was born.  It doesn't sound as fancy as it is.  It is really fancy, I promise.

We developed this cool five-step reactivation program to focus on the members in our south area who haven't been to church in who-knows-how-long, and prayed for about 28 or so families/names, on whom we're now focusing our time and efforts.  We hope to be able to teach their families and friends as well (meanwhile maintaining our regular finding/teaching of investigators).  Since a lot of these people have been MIA from church for years and years, they are entirely unknown by most of the ward.... So Sister Mitchell and I have taken on entirely new characters to conquer this new investigative task required of us: Nancy Drew (yes, we're both Nancy Drew.... You learn to share a LOT as a companionship...). We were studying people's footprints on doorsteps, interviewing members of the ward about people on our "Nancy Drew list," wearing 1950s sunglasses, writing observations down in our handy-dandy-notebooks (maybe Nancy liked Blue's Clues, okay?), etc. It's been loads of fun. The cherry on top of our new plan was when we were conversing with our bishop about it yesterday and asking him about some people, he asked if he could be a Hardy Boy. Of course we agreed. Clearly we're having way too much fun. And clearly we lack sources or normal entertainment.

We taught a lesson to a man named Jude this week who is Pentecostal. What an experience that was. He was speaking in tongues, shaking, demanding that we "SHUN THE MESSIAH" and delighted us with the privilege of looking into his eyes, declaring that we were "looking into the eyes of salvation." Lucky us. Yeah, we're probably not going back there anytime soon.

Heavenly Father truly helped us magnanimously in his work this week, and we are hoping for Jane, Josh and Michelle to all be baptized on August 4th. We had a wonderful service activity at the church where we cleaned up the grounds and three of our investigators came and LOVED it. There are two separate less-actives and their families we have been working with who are finally coming to church this week after 10+ years, and we are being blessed incredibly in our finding, far beyond our own efforts. I have learned a lot the past two weeks about the beauty of service, and the blessings that come to those who serve. This last Saturday and the one before that we spent several hours performing physical service with a crew of people for those in need. At both of those events were less-active members and investigators we've been working with, as well as members of the ward. There is something special - a unique bond - that is formed whilst serving together. I think the Lord pours out His spirit upon us when we are serving Him and His children and we're able to come together like never before. The strength of each testimony for those who were involved has grown, no matter it's original level, just because we all served together for a few hours.  And we've done that two weeks in a row.

So Sister Mitchell and I are creating a "Service Crew" to go out serving for 2-3 hours each Saturday morning - to perform needed acts of physical labors for various individuals: strangers, ward members, investigators, less-actives etc. (the Crew will be composed of myriad people in these same groups). It'll be awesome. Stay tuned.  

As you can plainly see, I get really excited about a lot of things, and get really into them. Such was the case with the fantastic LES MISERABLES CD I FINALLY GOT THIS WEEK. Thank you family, it seems like you really do love me after all :) Sister Mitchell is finally figuring out how lucky she is to be with me:

"That is already quite a dramatic play, but I imagine it's significantly more dramatic when you sing it"

Don't worry, she loves it ;)

Things are kind of clearing up from the flood, but we're still having some storms and some damage control. We were almost struck by lightning this week.... But all is well :)   

Sister Hutchings

P.S. The photos are of the MOLD in our parking garage that is forming after the flood (it smells so nasty), and the garden my crew replanted this Saturday during our church grounds clean up :)


 

Monday, July 15, 2013

TORONTO FLOODED!

So I don't know what the news covered (probably not much because nobody asked me about this in the emails this week), but Toronto had a huge storm last Monday and we lost power for days-- with mass flooding.  
 
[Editor's note: for the record, a few of us did ask Mallory about the flood...]

 
Here's the story:

We finished up our P-day and could hear the storm. It was music to my ears because I love storms. Then right before we went to head out we lost power. Luckily I carry a flashlight on me at all times, and we were able to make it through our dark building okay, heading towards the parking garage to drive to our appointment. Have you ever seen the movie "Titanic"? That was my life. We walked down towards the basement and as soon as we opened the hall door the water flooded in! We looked down the flooded, dark hall and braced ourselves for going in. Nothing would stop us. A crazy lady ran by and told us not to go out in the garage, that it was not safe: but I knew that we had a flashlight, so we could do anything :)
 
We went into the garage and it was very creepy, also extremely flooded. We realized then that the power was out and we wouldn't be able to get our car out due to the garage door, trapping us in. That stopped us right there. We climbed out of the garage a different way and ended up outside on the streets. I swear I just went from movie to movie, because I felt like I was in "I Am Legend." People were going crazy, it felt like the end of the world. There were constant sirens, people screaming and shouting, running all over the place - a complete mad house. The family we were meeting with called us and said they were stuck in four feet of water on the roads and that we should stay in our apartment for the night. We were forced in and remained there until the next day.
 
We kept ourselves busy with missionary stuff and called the ward list to make sure everyone was okay. Sister Mitchell almost had a panic attack, so all I could do to distract her was do a little singing and dancing concert to Beyonce. I knew there was a good reason Nat and I memorized all those music video dance moves. You learn great things in college, right? It was pretty funny;) And HOT, without A/C. Our power remained out for two days.  It was the strategy of some genius to have rolling blackouts in the whole city and surrounding areas until all areas were able to get their power back. We were the second to last area to get power back, so we'd drive to some places with power, and through others that did not. The traffic was horrendous without any street lights working, there were LOTS of accidents. We moved all of our food to the church building since we just barely bought groceries, and had to cook and shower at the church. Super tacky, I know.

Our basement is still flooded (and incredibly moldy), but the electricity is back on and all is well. Mostly. We got a call on Friday night that we were to be part of a Mormon Helping Hands relief effort in communities that were hit the hardest from the floods.
 
Here are some photos, and look for an article about our efforts on mormonnewsroom.ca soon :)
 
We spent 8+ hours "unflooding" people's basements all Saturday long. It was glorious. A lot of the houses we went to were those of elderly people or those who were unable to take care of their basements. The water that had flooded in this particular neighborhood was mixed with sewage water, so imagine that beautiful smell.... A lot of the people we helped were crying and were so grateful. It was the most marvelous feeling, to be able to help these people who couldn't help themselves in the midst of losing many, many of their belongings. We tore up carpet, linoleum, carried out all furniture, drained basements, etc. It was really fun because we had a ton of missionary companionships from surrounding areas, and a bunch of our ward members showed up. I wish we could do this everyday this week, that's the dream (except for the fact Sister Mitchell and I are STILL crazy sore from it today. We look like a bunch of idiots when we walk).

Other than that, this week was pretty standard (and you know, hectic). We had a dinner appointment on Wednesday with the cutest little family who's power was also out, so we ate nothing but fruit for dinner. But their four-year-old son, Wyatt, really loves bugs (sounds like someone else I know...:)). He has a collection of "specimen" in jars that he and his mom find and then label for his scientific purposes. It was so funny to hear him talk about his "specimen." Pretty sure they're his most prized possessions. So Sister Mitchell took it upon ourselves to trap every bug we saw this week that would be a cool addition to his specimen collection and kept running them over to his house. I've never seen anyone get so excited about bugs as Wyatt and his mother did.  We are now know as the Specimen Delivery Crew.

We also had a huge threat from one of our former investigators to call the police on us and get a restraining order. That was our fun piece of drama to end the week yesterday. Her mom is seeking our help, and she doesn't want us to go, so we got a lot of threatening texts and calls.... Some people just need to chill out.

I love you all very much.  Know that I am safe and well, maybe not clean though:) I am jumping at every opportunity I have to "unflood" basements and rip up flooring, so chances are that that's not the best for personal hygiene. But now we have power, so we can shower at home no problem. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to be serving in this area, right in this moment. What a tremendous blessing to have such power and guidance when doing the Lord's work.

Sister Hutchings

P.S. Know that mail is ALWAYS appreciated. I haven't received any for a little bit :/

 






 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Absolute Craziness.

So this week was a pretty short one, but extremely hectic. Our last P-day was Wednesday, and the days before it had been a struggle to get much work done. We found that we taught little and attempted to find new investigators a lot. Not because we don't have anyone to teach, because we are teaching a  lot of people, but mostly we had difficulty getting in contact with them. People here just leave for the summer. They just peace out and it's difficult to arrange meetings when people do come back. It's madness.  


I have been waking up with mysterious bites and rashes
all over my legs now for about a month. It's disgusting.
I searched my bed for bedbugs
and strip my sheets every week, but to no avail.
Speaking of madness, one of our investigators, Michelle, was hit by a tow truck on Thursday on her way to work.  Michelle's husband and daughter are members of the church and they called us to be the emergency response team to take them to the hospital. We dropped everything and rushed to their house to drive them to the hospital. We spent most of that day in the hospital helping out Michelle and her family. The elders in our ward also came and gave her a blessing, and their home teacher brought them food and whatnot. It was awesome to see the ward pull together to help out Michelle and her family in this time of need. After the x-ray everything came out okay and she was released from the hospital later that night. What a trooper, she even made it to church on Sunday. I can't believe that dedication. She's supposed to be baptized the 21st of July, so hopefully we'll be able to teach her all the lessons in time!


On Friday I went on another exchange with Sister Tofa, my Sister Training Leader. Her new compaion is Sister Arksey, so she came into Etobicoke South to work with Sister Mitchell and I went to Brampton (they live directly across the street from the temple). This was my first experience doing missionary work ANYWHERE other than in Etobicoke, so I was pretty excited for the break and for the new adventure. We taught one new investigator lesson to someone there who had seen the Book of Mormon musical a couple of weeks ago, and wanted to learn more. We've had a couple of referrals from that musical actually. It just finished playing here, and over the course of its six weeks here the elders in that area handed out more than 2,300 copies of the Book of Mormon to people waiting in line for the play and whatnot.  How cool is that? Well it was a crazy lesson when we taught her mostly because the member who came teaching with us was a newly-baptized member and said a lot of crazy things... It was pretty sketchy. She did agree to meet with us again, so I hope that things were better the second time.


Lachelle
Jessica (in the middle)
Here's some crazy bit of information: Lachelle Rogers (from my stake in Sammamish) and Jessica Nuttall (from my old ward in Auburn) are now in the mission! They just came out a week ago. Jessica is in my district and is opening a new area just north of us with a missionary training her who came out with me. Lachelle is serving in another town south west of me called Hamilton. She is serving with one of my favorite missionaries out here, Sister Hall. I went on an exchange with her awhile back, she came out a transfer after I did. It is so weird to see people from real life come into my mission life... It really does feel like separate existences here.  

Remember how I told you that we're running the Stop Smoking Workshop now with the elders? Well we had one guy come this week - and he actually quit smoking six months ago. I swear that program is not supposed to ever help people to stop smoking.  The guy lived in the elders' area, so they taught him a lesson on the spot, and it was kind of cool. Sister Mitchell and I were laughing that the only student we had at our Stop Smoking Workshop was actually a non-smoker.  Imagine that.

We taught a lesson yesterday in the park, and it started to POUR rain. We had a long trek back to our car and were absolutely drenched. When we went home to change, we noticed that there was a river flowing in our parking garage. I found that to be a little unusual and decided to investigate and find the source of this large river flooding the garage. We found a geyser. I swear I don't believe where I live sometimes. There was a geyser coming up from a drain in the middle of the parking garage causing it to flood!

We have now been able to hit standards for a straight 12 weeks in this area. That's three months (for those calendar-challenged of you). Which has been awesome. It was HARD work to pull that off this week, but with the Lord's help we made it through.


Sister Tebbs and Elder Anderson,
two of my closest friends from my MTC district,
 are serving in Brampton, so I got to see them on Friday!
I love sweet runions like that.
I love you all so very much, let me know if you ever have any questions about things you want more info on. It's getting really hot. Very humid. So much fun.  

I miss you and I'm staying safe, I know you worry about that, so try to worry a little less. All is well :)


Sister Hutchings


 


Sister Mitchell chopped off her hair this week!
She cut off 11 inches and donated it to Locks of Love, crazy, huh?
I like it a lot better. I think she looks adorable :)





Wednesday, July 3, 2013

SIX MONTHS IN ETOBICOKE!

So if you're waiting to hear the transfer news, here it is:  

I am staying in Etobicoke South with Sister Mitchell. That means that 1/3 of my mission so far will be in this area. I think that's great, since I love it here, and my blood, sweat and tears went into opening this little baby up.... So I'm all good with helping it continue to prosper. There are a lot of people we are working with who are SUPER close to baptism. I really want to help them get there before I leave, I wonder if I'll have just one more transfer here, or if I'll be here longer. The suspense is killer.

This week has been one that required much endurance because it was 10 days long in the life of a missionary. But we made it. So that's good. They added two new companionships of sisters to our Zone this transfer, there are so many sisters coming out, it's insane! I don't think President Scott really knows what to do with them all. We don't have enough places or enough apartments, so it's really spontaneous. This mission is growing so fast, it should probably split soon since we have almost 300 missionaries....  But I'm not quite sure if I'll ever see that happen. I bet it will split right as I leave, because that's when President and Sister Scott leave as well. I wouldn't be surprised if they called two new mission presidents here.

Monday was Canada Day! I felt really lame because I wanted us to do something really fun and Canadian, but we didn't. We couldn't think of anything! We tried to sneak a peek at the fireworks at night, but our balcony faces the opposite direction. Bummer. Some crazy teenage kids were shooting off fireworks in the school yard right under our balcony. Apparently if it's a holiday in Toronto, you can shoot off fireworks wherever and whenever, even in the middle of a city. I thought our apartment was going to get hit and burst into flames.... Oh well, we're going to wear red, white and blue tomorrow, which is super patriotic of us.

Our apartment building, because it's so tall, has a garbage shoot. It is a wonderful creation so that we don't have to run all the way downstairs to take out our trash.  We simply walk down the hall and toss it down the shoot. If you can imagine, the garbage shoot room (about the size of a closet) is rather disgusting. All my germaphobe tendencies come out when we have to go in there. This week Sister Mitchell went in there and the door closed behind her. She was stuck in there for a little bit, and I expected her to start wailing and screaming because that's exactly what I would have done. It was really funny though, I think that she almost died holding her breath.  Maybe that's why I didn't hear any screams....

Things have been slowing down a little this past week in this area, and I can't quite figure out why. But it's alright, we've needed to spend more time finding than the past month. It's kind of refreshing to do different things once in awhile.

So remember when Orlando got baptized? Well we visit him once a week at least to give him new member discussions, and it's one of the highlights of my week. It blows my mind how Orlando sees me. He loves me, and thinks that I'm the most incredible person in the world (he also thinks I'm incredibly stubborn and threatened to deport me a couple of times, but that kind of ruins the story:)). I think he sees me through rose-colored glasses because I helped him embrace the gospel. He always compares my directness to the apostle Paul, and says that I'm perfect and I'll have a straight way to the kingdom of the Lord. Of course he's incorrect about basically all of those assumptions, but it really made me think about the beauty of change on a mission. That regardless of who we are before we come on a mission and what good or bad choices we may have made, with the Spirit we still have the ability to change people's lives, and they will forever be grateful for it. Orlando could probably hear a load of things that make me incredibly imperfect (trust me, I tried to inform him), but to him I think I will always be on a pedestal. I don't deserve it, but it is so cool to think that as young and imperfect as I am, I can bring that happiness and joy to someone's life. It makes me never want to do a thing that would have them lose faith in me as a representative of our Savior. Kind of a heavy load, I know. But it is so great to carry such a load for my Father in Heaven.

Do you want to know something about me? I thought that before my mission I was just about all that I could become at my age. That the only way I could continually improve was through advancing onward and upward from that point. Serving a mission so far, I have seen that I was terribly wrong. There are so many aspects of myself that need to be improved and focused on before moving on to the next thing that is exciting in my life, whatever that may be. Never before have I learned so much about myself as I have learned so much about others, including my savior Jesus Christ.

The photos I sent you this week are of my old district, Sister Mitchell and me at our "Holy Harvest"/transfer party (after District Meeting), and the other one is me at the "Kiss and Ride" sign. These are everywhere. I guess it is Canadian-code for "drop-off zone."  Apparently Canadians are more affectionate than Americans....

I am staying pretty safe, and things are going well. Our Stop Smoking Workshop is a disaster, but we're working on it. Ha ha it's pretty funny, actually.

Take care and know that I love you and pray for you always.

Sister Hutchings