Monday, October 28, 2013

Countdown to Halloween!

Again I find myself in the last week of the transfer! So this coming Sunday will be transfer calls, which means that there is a chance that there will be change in the life of this little missionary. So if you have letters to send out after today, hold them until you get the update next P-day about where I will be and who my new compadre will be, etc.

Sister Noker and I are fairly certain that there will be changes happening around here, so it shall be pretty exciting.

Not too much happened for us this week. I was still recovering from sickness, so guilt set in pretty heavily each time I took a nap and rested in order to recuperate and repair my body. BUT I think that the Lord approved, because the moments we spent doing missionary work were some of the more productive moments we've had yet, and our teaching opportunities were incredible this week. So that was a great blessing.

So guess what? The end of the world happened this week. And don't worry, I'm not being dramatic in the least, I swear. It was just a regular October 23rd like any other, and we were in one of our northern towns visiting some classy folk when disaster struck: the first snowfall of the year. I was petrified. I couldn't even drive the car. I sat in place and just stared for a good fifteen minutes. There goes my hope of anymore warmth. The long-dreaded Canadian winter can no longer be denied.  There has not been anymore snow and nothing is on the ground, but I know it is coming. The weather is definitely playing with my heart.

We had interviews with President Scott this week! We have interviews with our mission president probably every third month or so. It was really great to be able to have a couple minutes to chat with him. Do you know what I learned? I learned that by Christmas we will have reached 300 missionaries in our mission. THAT IS ABSURD! That is so many missionaries! Most missions in the world have half that amount. It's because of the mission age change, missions are changing at such a rapid pace. I bet you that this mission will split again over the next year or so. Whew.

President Scott asked me to reflect upon the first half of my mission. Think about that - the first half! I can't believe that I'm halfway done; yet in some respects it seems like I have been a missionary for all of my life. He asked what I have learned about myself. I had so many things I have learned, I didn't know where to start. Missions are incredible, and anyone who serves a mission will NEVER regret the time they spent in the service of their God - regardless as to how they got there. President told me how proud he was of Sister Noker and me for working through all of our difficulties. This has been such a difficult companionship for us, especially from the beginning, but now things are so much better. It felt so good to know that the Lord gives us challenges, and then also provides us with the strength and support we need to overcome said challenges. I love this gospel.

So this Thursday is Halloween. I am so excited for Halloween. Guess what I'm dressing up as? You guessed it: A missionary! But we have to be inside our apartment at 6pm on Halloween and need to be as "productive as possible." So guess what we're going to do at some point? We're going to have a Monster Mash (aka our own Halloween Party)! Just the two of us. Pretty cute, eh? We have the best activity ever: We're going to read spooky/horror stories in the dark with flashlights on our faces... from the scriptures! Ha ha the Old Testament is full of them. I know you're jealous of us, life as a missionary is the best.  [Editors' note: We're really not sure what "as productive as possible" means, but we're pretty sure whoever came up with that wasn't thinking of "Mallory's Monster Mash"]

Speaking of scary, the member who we live with has stitches in his finger. I found this wonderful detail out when we had dinner at his house yesterday. I offered to take the stitches out and he said "yes." I am SO excited. So I'm taking out his stitches on Wednesday. Highlight of my week. By far. Don't worry, we'll pray first ;)

I love you all so much! Please stay safe. I think of you always. Get lots of candy this year for me. I miss you incredibly.

Pal
Sister Hutchings

Photos:
1. Me in the first snowfall of the year.
2. Me staring at the first snowfall of the year from inside of the car. Maybe shedding some tears. 
3. First time with the leaf blower! I am absolutely dreadful. Sister Noker took over rather quickly after this photo was taken.

Monday, October 21, 2013

BONUS POST - Interview with Mallory II

In another of our highly-regarded interviews with Mallory, we asked her to let us know what are some of the questions about the church that they get asked frequently and what are the typical answers they give as missionaries.  Here's her feedback:   

First of all, we usually we try to refer back to Jesus Christ, the Restoration of the Gospel or the Book of Mormon in the answers we give to most every question.  But here are some of the most common questions we get asked and our answers:

1. IF GOD REALLY LOVES US (AND/OR EXISTS), WHY DO SO MANY GOOD PEOPLE SUFFER AND BAD THINGS HAPPEN THROUGHOUT THE WORLD? 

We know that the purpose of our life on earth is to gain experience, and that "this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God" (Alma 34:32). In this instance, you can compare God to a parent who wants their children to gain their own experience - it doesn't take away his love for us because he doesn't control our choices! He aches when we make bad choices and when we hurt. God will never take away our agency, or ability to choose. "Adversity in the lives of the obedient and faithful may be the consequence of disease, accidental injury, ignorance, or the influence of the adversary. To preserve free agency, the Lord also at times permits the righteous to suffer the consequences of evil acts by others."* If we trust in God, we can understand our trials and hardships can be seen as blessings and learning opportunities: they can be wasted if not.
*Ronald E. Poelman

2. ARE MORMONS ALLOWED TO HAVE MULTIPLE WIVES?

No, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not support plurality of spouses. At multiple points in the history of Christ's church both in biblical times and in the latter-days the Lord has very specifically revealed through his prophet on the earth an exception necessary for this rule. We do believe that "all who pretend or assume to engage in plural marriage in this day, when the one holding the keys [the prophet of God] has withdrawn the power by which they are performed are guilty of gross wickedness." -Bruce R. McConkie. We believe marriage to be between one man and one woman.

3. ARE MORMONS RACIST? WHY COULDN'T BLACK PEOPLE HAVE THE PRIESTHOOD IN YOUR CHURCH?

No, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not support, encourage or practice racism or any kind of racial superiority. We believe any worthy man can hold the priesthood once he is 12 years of age regardless of his lineage or descent. Because the priesthood is the Lord's power and he has full authority to whom it is given, we obey his guidance by the mouth of his prophets regarding how to officiate in the ordinances of the priesthood. The Lord has been selective since the beginning of biblical times as to which lineages specifically would hold the priesthood, for example when the Levites were the only ones of all the twelve tribes who were assigned to be priests and who were allowed to hold the priesthood.  In 1978, the Lord revealed that all worthy men could receive the priesthood without regard to race, color, lineage or descent. "Our day is the long-promised day when every faithful, worthy man in the church may receive the priesthood." (Preach My Gospel (PMG) 32)

4. I'VE ALREADY BEEN BAPTIZED ____NUMBER OF TIMES BEFORE, ARE YOU ASKING/INVITING ME TO BE BAPTIZED AGAIN? WHY?

Yes, we believe that baptism is a choice that we ourselves need to make and that no one else can make for us. We choose to follow Christ's example and make joint promises with our Father in Heaven when we are baptized. We believe that the priesthood power that was on the earth when Christ and his apostles were on the earth has been restored in its fullness through the modern-day prophet, Joseph Smith. To be baptized again by this proper priesthood authority is not to say that your previous experiences and baptisms weren't important, but this experience and essential ordinance performed by authorized priesthood holders adds to and increases the importance of your past experiences. When we invite you to be baptized again we are inviting you to follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized by the same power, authority, and method that he was. 

5. DO MORMONS BELIEVE THEY WILL BE THE ONLY ONES WHO GET TO HEAVEN?

No, we believe that all people, regardless of their religious beliefs while living on the earth, can enter the highest level of heaven and live with their families, Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ for all eternity; provided they accept and participate in the necessary ordinances by the proper priesthood authority - whether in this life or the next. 

6. DO MORMONS WORSHIP JOSEPH SMITH?

No, we do not worship Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith is a prophet of modern day much like biblical prophets and messengers of God such as Noah and Moses. We talk about and teach of Joseph Smith often because his role as an instrument for the Lord was key for the Lord's church to be restored, or brought back, in these modern times. We only worship God, the Eternal Father, and our Savior Jesus Christ.

7. WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOU AND OTHER CHRISTIAN CHURCHES? AREN'T THEY ALL THE SAME?

We share many common beliefs with other Christian denominations: We believe the bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly, and we believe that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer - and the only means whereby we can achieve salvation and live with God again. However, in addition to the bible, we study from another book of ancient scripture, the Book of Mormon, which also testifies of Christ and helps clarify the fullness of his gospel. We believe that in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Christ's original church he established when on the earth has been restored and it contains the priesthood power of God - or the authority to utilize God's power, that lasts on earth and in heaven: such as baptism and marriage. 

8. WHY DO WE NEED A PROPHET ON THE EARTH IF WE CAN JUST PRAY TO GOD OURSELVES AND RECEIVE ANSWERS?

"God wants all his children to know the truth... therefore he reveals the truths necessary for salvation through prophets and apostles. He reveals personal truth to us personally through the scriptures and personal revelation." (PMG 75)

Feel free to let me know if there are any specific questions that I didn't address that you'd like me to answer! I love doing things like that.

Bowling & Baptizing

WHAT. A. WEEK.

It's only been five days since I last emailed you all, but it's incredible all that we've packed in these last few days!

TRACEY GOT BAPTIZED YESTERDAY. Hallelujah. It was so fantastic. I walked into our ward council meeting (a meeting of the various leaders in the local congregation) yesterday morning right as Elder McKay was telling everyone the story about how we weren't sure whether or not Tracey was going to get baptized a week and a half before, but then "Sister Hutchings just started planning her baptism, and went over to her house and told her all about the baptism plans. When Tracey didn't stop her, she figured it was a green light! So here we are, it's her baptism day!"... The whole ward council got a kick out of that and told us we need to just start planning baptisms for all our investigators like that. Maybe we will - it worked for Tracey!

Her baptismal service was absolutely beautiful. The spirit was so incredibly strong. There was a point right before she was baptized where I knew in my heart that Heavenly Father was communicating to me that one of the reasons he needed me in Bowmanville was for that very moment in time. I wished I could have paused it and never let that feeling leave me. Missionary work can be extremely challenging, but it is exponentially more rewarding. Always. I am so grateful that the Lord lets me feel a sliver of the joy and peace he must feel when one of his children decides to follow him.  

Last week we had an impromptu zone activity at a bowling alley. It was awesome. I scored second overall. Don't worry, I'm not competitive in the least, so it's fine. I bowled as Voldemort, of course. Maybe that's why I did so well :)

The famous "Historic Bowmanville Apple Festival" was this last Saturday. They blocked off all downtown Bowmanville and converted it to a big festival in honor of that particular fruit. It was actually pretty fun! We walked there in the rain, and got absolutely soaked.  And as much as I would have liked, the apple treats didn't really warm us up that much. But hey, it was a life experience we could add to our list, right? And there were lots of families there who were basically begging us to teach them about the gospel. So we just had to oblige.  

This is probably the worst news of the week, but I am sick. I have been on somewhat of a partial bed-rest the past couple days. But let me tell you what it's like being sick as a missionary: it's the worst thing in the world.  There is always something that needs to be done, and unless you literally have NOTHING left inside of you to be able to do it, you feel bad about taking a rest.  So this last week has been exhausting.  I am grateful for prayer.  The Lord has been answering each of my quiet pleas to get me through each hour (especially planning Tracey's baptism) without feeling like death.

It's getting cold. Really cold. But we're going to the zoo today to find Richard Parker. So all is well in the world. I'll report back on that next week. So stay on the edge of your seats for that one! 

I love you and miss you incredibly.  

"Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God" Alma 26:36

Mall
Sister Hutchings









Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving, eh?

Oh my heavens, I have way too much to write about from this week and a half. Perhaps to your disadvantage, I'll just share a few select tidbits. It really has been a great past couple of days!

The Lord has been very, very kind to Sister Noker and me this past week. We have desperately been in need of new investigators and to strengthen our teaching pool as it is, and He has been giving us the opportunity to do so.

Tracey is getting baptized this Sunday!! It is absolutely a miracle. We have been teaching her ever since I got here. The previous missionaries had just stopped teaching her when I arrived, and when I met her I convinced Sister Noker to start teaching her again. Her husband was baptized a little over a year ago. From the beginning she made the missionaries and her husband, Brian, meet out on the porch because she didn't want them in her house. Ha ha, she was really mean to them. But eventually it got too cold outside, and Brian begged her to let them come inside. So she let them, but only if they'd meet in the basement. But then she'd blare the music so loud so she couldn't hear what they were saying. Eventually she got too curious for her own good and the stereo got less and less loud and she began listening to the message from upstairs. Tracey eventually started reading the Book of Mormon and met with the missionaries for herself. She has a sure belief that the Book of Mormon is scripture and that Christ's gospel has been restored. She was planning on being baptized in April, but Brian was struggling coming to church so they both stopped coming for a while. When I met them, neither of them were coming to church, and for no good reason at all. They both had such a strong testimony of the gospel, but were not making the effort to do what they knew to be true. After meeting with them for about two months straight and nothing much was changing, I was sick of it. I warned Sister Noker that I was going to "throw down" on them about a week and a half ago when we had a lesson with them. Sister Noker was a little frightened, but she said she trusted me. We had a wonderful lesson where I was pretty bold and eventually they understood that if they believed the gospel was true, God should mean more to them than everything else, and they should desire to obey the things he's asked them to do. Voila! Just like that, they came to church! And just like that, Tracey is prepared to be baptized, two weeks later (which is this coming Sunday). She bore her testimony this last Sunday in church and said how much she needed me to kick her into gear, and how her baptism means everything to her. She's excited to finally be baptized. That meant the world to me. I'm so excited.

I love those moments during my mission where it hits me like a wall of bricks why the Lord needed me in that particular place at that particular time. I know that Tracey is one of those reasons. I'm grateful to be a participant in His marvelous work.

Speaking of marvelous work, did you know that I'm an electrician? [Editor's note: Mallory has always believed that she has an unusual ability and talent to operate power tools and instinctively to perform handy-man tasks, notwithstanding any emergency room trips or other mishaps that may have accompanied her use of this "talent"]  I know that I've sent a lot of renovation photos recently, but I bet you've just been craving more. I've now successfully learned how to wire a basement and how to wire electrical outlets. I'm a genius, so it's fine. So I've included some pictures of my handiwork, and although it may just look like a regular old outlet, don't be deceived! The entire thing has been lovingly caressed with my fine hands.

So... do you want to know some absolutely DREADFUL news?? I looked it up in the phonebook the other day, and there is not one single Starbucks in any of the towns we cover. What. A. Tragedy. It's been more of a trial for me than you know. Especially as the weather gets colder. Oh, the things we sacrifice as missionaries. BUT we had a meeting this week in an area covered by another set of missionaries and I just about died when I saw that blessed mermaid sign. We pulled over immediately so I could partake of the consecrated drink I'd been craving. [Editor's note: of course, she's referring to her favorite drink of Starbucks hot chocolate] Dreams really do come true.

On that happy note, I hope that you all know how much I love you. I love Thanksgiving (even though this one caught me early... wonder why!) and the perspective it gives me. I love the chance truly to ponder the marvels of this world, and to recall all the many blessings I have in my life. I don't know where I'd be without my family and those I love. My God takes such great care of me. It is an honor to (sometimes) suffer and serve these 18 months for Him who suffered for me that I might live with my family forever. That is the truth of this message I live for, and the gospel I am so grateful to know.

Please be safe! Know that I am trying to be safe as well. I miss you mucho.

XOXO
Mall

Sister Hutchings

Photos:
- Thanksgiving Dinner #1 at the Diogo's house. Fit for a king, for sure.
- Me with Tracey and Brian after Thanksgiving Dinner #2 at their house
- STARBUCKS!!
- My electrical works of art. 






Monday, October 7, 2013

I LOVE GENERAL CONFERENCE!!!

So.. Before I forget I'm going to warn you that next week P-day is on Wednesday and not Monday. Again. Guess why? It's another Monday holiday in Canada-land. Want to know which one (I actually know this time:))? It's THANKSGIVING! Canadian Thanksgiving. Apparently it comes in October over here, so I'll be lucky enough to participate in those joyous festivities next weekend, whatever they may be.

Remember how I said the elders came into our turf last week? Well because we now have more missionaries close by, we coincidentally have the opportunity to do more things with missionaries.  Last P-day we had an activity in our gym where we played a game called "chair soccer." And I learned that having elders nearby maybe isn't the best thing for Sister Hutchings. I'm WAY too competitive. We forgot our P-day clothes and ended up playing basketball and soccer in our skirts and barefoot. [Editor's note: just the sisters wore skirts, not the elders.]  I DEFINITELY gave all the elders a run for their money and ended up getting these huge bloodblisters on the bottom of each of my big toes that covered the whole surface area of them. But, of course, I couldn't forfeit the game when I discovered them, as it was just getting good! So we played for about ten more minutes and I was just pulling out my really impressive moves when all of a sudden the bigger blister popped and I was standing in a pool of blood. It was disgusting, but kind of cool too. So we had to take a time out and clean up.... Then we continued our game of course. Don't tell the elders, but I was SO sore the next day I could hardly walk. Sister Noker was making fun of me ALLLL day long saying that my competitive nature got the best of me.... She's probably right but.... I am a Hutchings after all...:)

So this week we went on another exchange with our Sister Training Leaders. They love us, that's why we go on exchanges with them so often. [Editor's note: Mallory has always had an admirable ability to see everything that happens as a direct confirmation of how much everyone loves them, which can be a very useful quality on a mission.]  Do you know who my new STL is? SISTER ARKSEY!! So she pulled the divine strings and made it possible to be my companion again for a blessed 24 hours. It was glorious. We had way too much fun. We definitely stayed up way too late just chit-chatting and catching up. Also marveling about doctrinal things we'd learned since our last parting. Yeah, we're big nerds. But it was so great. There truly is a bond forged in the service of the Lord with one another that is not like anything else. I will be forever grateful for all those whom the Lord has let me come to know and love whilst in His service.

Were you able to watch General Conference? If not, (or if you do not know what it is) go watch it: www.lds.org/general-conference/sessions/2013/. It was incredible. I am so grateful that we have prophets on the earth today who guide us and give us counsel from our Lord.

This week I was able to experience one of the more spiritual experiences of my mission. There is a woman named Lorraine who was baptized over twenty years ago and since has left the church because of various reasons of difficulty and addiction that bound her. She hit rock bottom a couple months ago, and then she remembered that the happiest time of her life had been the three years of her activity in the church, where she felt the peace and love of her Heavenly Father despite her challenges. She prayed desperately for a way to be reconnected with Him and with His church again. Last week she was shopping at Walmart when she saw the elders buying a shower curtain for their new apartment and immediately approached them and asked them to help her. She lives very near to us so we went to meet with her. She quickly opened up and told us the story of her life, which was full of challenge and heartache. It was extremely heavy and Sister Arksey and I were filled immediately with compassion. She looked at us with tears in her eyes and pleaded, "I don't even remember how to pray, where to begin in the scriptures, or even if I'm worth saving to God, for all the choices I've made. But I know in order to ever feel peace again in my life, I need Him. Please, teach me what I need to do in order to be all that He needs me to be again." Wow. We looked at each other and honestly didn't even know where to begin. I am so grateful for the spirit of the Lord. Without that, we would have no means to guide anybody towards salvation through Jesus Christ. I am grateful for the mercy of our Savior and Redeemer who will take EVERY person back into His arms, lovingly and without judgement, who willingly seek his forgiveness.

I love this work. I love the Lord.

I also love chair soccer, but not quite in the same way :)

Please stay safe, know that I love you with all my heart. Happy Thanksgiving!

Mal
Sister Hutchings.

P.S. I heard that the U.S. Government "shut down" or something like that... Don't worry, I'll only be out of the country for 9 more months, then I'll be back to fix everything. Just tell everyone to relax until then, okay?

The photos are as follows:
 
1. Happy Fall! The leaves are beautiful in Ye Olde Countryside

2. Starksy and Hutch. Classic.