Dear Mom, Dad, Rebecca, Rachel, Rowan, and other loved ones,
Hello from the MTC! It has been about one million years since I've talked to you, so I have a lot to write! Firstly, I have several requests. Could someone find Sydnee Floyd's address for me? It could be on her facebook or on her blog. Just check from my accounts. Secondly, if you've already sent me a towel, bless your soul. If you haven't, don't. And then send me a Dear Elder ASAP telling me that you didn't send me one so that I can buy one at the bookstore. Finally, can you send me the email addresses of the rest of the family? I only have mom's memorized. Thank you!
I'll start off telling you about my companion. Her name is Sister Law, and she is from Vancouver. Her parents are from Hong Kong, so she is fluent in Cantonese already! This is a wonderful blessing for our whole class, because she is so patient and constantly corrects our pronunciation and tones. She is such a sweetheart, and we are already really good friends. She's not one of the super peppy, loud sister missionaries, which is perfect. Yesterday we were walking to class and she was walking on my right side, but then switched over to my left because it was weird. And she was right, it was weird. We already have our own little habits like that haha. We are pretty good at reading each other's minds too. Like yesterday, we were playing church hangman and I guessed hers the first try! It was "hymn." So maybe it wasn't me reading her mind; it was probably more like my vast experience with church hangman...
There are three elders in our class, and they are all very different from each other--it so amusing to watch them interact with each other. Elder Morton is obsessed with learning Cantonese. He constantly asks Sister Law, "What's the word for ice cream? Santa? Antarctica? Sassy?" Elder Arrington is probably too cool for words. He knows incredible amounts of random trivia, especially when it comes to longboarding, martial arts movies, and soccer. (Also, his letters are being posted on a blog as well: elderarringtion.blogspot.com. You should put that link on my blog with Jesse's and Sister Heaton's.) Elder Kimball is the quiet, seemingly docile one of the group. However, he can get sassy when he needs to! He's almost a redhead, so naturally I like him already. Since our district only has 5 people, we've already grown really close and we joke around all the time.
They pack in so much here at the MTC. I've been so busy that (apart from night one) I have crashed as soon as my head hits the pillow. We have about 6 hours of class every day except for Sundays and Preparation Days (which is Monday for my district). I think I have a pretty good ear for Cantonese sounds. I can't remember the pronunciation for very long, but when I repeat after my teacher or Sister Law, I can do a pretty good job! I think it's from French. A lot of the sounds in French are used in Cantonese too, especially the sounds in the back of the throat. On Saturday we taught our first investigator in Cantonese. Well, let's be real. I said about four sentences: "I am Sister Cutler and this is Sister Law." "We are missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." "I know God is our Heavenly Father." "God loves his children." And Sister Law talked for about 30 minutes. It was a very humbling, and slightly frustrating experience. I alternated between trying to understand them, trying to think of any word in Cantonese, and praying that God would keep me from crying (which he did!). But when I relaxed for about two seconds, I felt the Spirit. I couldn't understand what they were saying, but as she told the Joseph Smith story, I could definitely feel the truthfulness of what Sister Law was saying.
In my personal study (an hour each day) I've been focusing on patience. It's only day 5, and I'm already getting frustrated with myself because I can't speak fluently! Yeah, I need to chill.
We aren't allowed to use our ipods here because it can be a distraction. But I have had songs running through my head (and often coming out of my mouth) constantly! I walk across campus singing "Cheetah Girls, Cheetah Sisters," "Do You Hear the People Sing?" "I Have Confidence" (from the Sound of Music). It seems like everyone has a similar problem. I heard "And I Will Always Love You" being sung in the gym the other day by a couple of the elders. And here is a conversation we heard this morning at breakfast:
Elder 1: Do you believe in magic, In a young girl's heart?
Elder 2 (joins in): How the music can free her whenever it starts! (They continue singing a few more lines)
Elder 2 (in a completely serious tone): I love you bro. You are such an example to me. (Then they bro hug)
Yes. I love the MTC. People are so open about their feelings and transition so readily from joking and laughter to serious "feelings" talks. It's like everyone has become just like me. Except without all the crying. (Side note: I've only cried once while here! Better believe it baby, because it's a new record!)
Another thing that happened in the MTC cafeteria: pizza salad. Not even kidding. Its lettuce with pizza toppings on it, as well as small chunks of actual pizza. The night before we had Papa John's, and the next day we had pizza salad. Coincidence? I think not. But the food isnt really that bad. And I can always eat cereal if I need to!
The other day in personal study I was reading in Philippians, and in there Paul calls his fellow missionaries "yokefellows." I love the image of all five of us missionaries carrying one huge, awkwardly bulky yoke together. So we've started calling each other yokefellows.
My favorite phrase in Cantonese is mihng mh mihngbaahk (pronounced ming-m-ming-ba). You say it super fast, and it means "Do you or do you not understand?" I say it all the time.
Unfortunately, I can't figure out how to put picture on here this week, but I'll try again next week! Please send me more on Dear Elder! I look forward to hearing from you! I love you all so much and I am so happy to be here!
AKA Sister Cutler
AKA Gat Jimuih (Cutler Sister)