Hello everyone! Happy New Year!!!! I can't believe that tomorrow will be 2013, but boy am I excited! 13 has always been my lucky number, so this year is going to be the best one yet!
First things first: t-shirt of the week! So this week is kind of weird. The first time I read it, I didn't think much of it, but the more I thought about it, the more it gave me the shivers. It was black with creepy white writing, and it says, "It's pointless to play lullabies for someone who can't sleep." Yeah. I don't quite know what it means, but it's just weird.
We have been fed so much recently, it's ridiculous. And then throw in the candy from family, grandparents, members, the Pinegars, etc. and let's just say, I haven't felt hungry for days now. Some missionaries face the trial of starvation. I face the trial of feeling like I'm going to throw up after eating at a member's house, because they've stuffed us so much with delicious food. It's so fun going to cheng-outs (dinner appointments) with the elders, because we all try to encourage each other and cheer each other on. Because you have to eat it all, every time. After a particularly painful cheng out, one of the elders said, "Sister Cutler, I'm really impressed with your eating ability. You really threw down in there!" And I said, "It's a gift. And a curse." Because it's true, I've been blessed with the ability to eat more food than is natural or healthy or comfortable. But I'm just banking on the hope that I'll slim back down when I get back to America haha.
I've had a song stuck in my head all week, and for the life of me I can't remember what song it is! All I can remember is this: Doo bop, doo doo doo bop, doo doo doo doo bop, doo doo doo.... doo oo doo oo. I know, really helpful. I wish I could write out the beat to it, but if anyone figures it out, please let me know!
So yesterday as we were on the bus coming home from yet another cheng out, I saw this truck pass that said, "BABY CAT DOG SHOP." And I laughed so loud. It's so funny what a small change in punctuation or phrasing could do for that business. BABY, CAT, & DOG SHOP. BABY CATS AND DOGS SHOP. BABY CATS & DOGS SHOP. Are they in the kitten and puppy business, or do they actually sell small children? The world may never know.
So I had a miracle this week. Seriously, a really, undeniable answer to my prayer. So I have this awesome Indonesian nightie--it's called a mumu. Mine is bright purple. And apparently the dye isn't quite set in, because on Christmas Eve I washed it with this nice, light blue button-up blouse with French cuffs... and it got purple blotches all over it! I was so upset, mostly because I KNEW I shouldn't have washed them together! I kept getting this feeling that it was a bad idea, but I just ignored it (dumb) and washed it anyways. So I had no idea what to do because I'm just not as educated with these kinds of things as I should be, considering my gender (yes, perhaps that was a sexist comment? Oh well), and it was about 10:30 at night, and I was so sad and tired and my brain was melted from speaking Chinese all day. So I just put it back in the washing machine with more soap, and turned it on again. Then I prayed super, super hard. But see, the thing is, the whole time I was praying, I was thinking, "This will never work. It's not that I don't believe God can make my shirt clean, because I know he can. I just don't believe he will, because I'm so dumb. And because I don't believe he will, I guess I don't have any faith, so now my prayer definitely won't work." So I went to sleep feeling pretty bummed out. But I woke up on Christmas morning, and that's right! You guessed it! It was completely clean! A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE! And here's what I learned. Faith isn't so much about having these big, overwhelming convictions. It's not about complete confidence or assurance, or emotional feeling. It's all about action motivated by hope. I didn't have a big, strong feeling that motivated my prayer. I didn't even really believe that it would work. I just hoped, and I hoped enough to actually pray about it. Sometimes the people we meet with tell us that they don't have enough faith yet, and that they want more faith first before they attend church or get baptized. But that's just the problem. You'll never have enough faith to get baptized until you actually get baptized. You'll never have enough faith to go on a mission until you actually do it. Faith isn't some sort of level, like a health bar in the corner of the screen on a video game. It's a spiritual gift that comes when you act on hope, without a sure knowledge of the truth. My faith wasn't an assurance that God would clean my shirt. It was a knowledge that he could and a hope that maybe he might, and a big enough hope that led me to actually ask him. And now my faith in the power of prayer has grown because I've had a real answer to a prayer. And I know it's a silly example, but it just goes to show that even the smallest, most trivial things are important to God if they're important to us. We're his children and he loves us, and he wants to show us his love so much. We just have to give him the opportunity. We have to act on our hope. We have to ask, and then do our part, and then hope. I love D&C 123:17, and I don't have my scriptures out, but it says something like, "Do all within your power, and then stand still, with the utmost assurance, and watch the hand of the Lord." I love that. Do all you can, and then stand still.
I love this mission! Our investigators have been struggling more than ever before, but I know that God knows them and has a plan for them. All I have to do is my best, and he'll take care of them. I love you all so much and am so grateful for your prayers and support! Have a Happy New Year and remember that every day is a new day! We're divine children of God, and we have bigger potential than we can even imagine, so don't ever feel like you can't change. You have infinite capacity to change and become better and happier. That's what this gospel and Christ's mission is all about: change!