Monday, March 25, 2013

Week 39: in which I'm just going through the week as usual, doing my thing, nothing speci--MACAU!

That's right everyone! I'M IN MACAU, BABY!!!!! So last Tuesday morning, the APs called me and told me, "Pack your bags. You're leaving for Macau on Thursday." So now I'm here! And wow is it different from Hong Kong. In case you aren't familiar with Macau (because I'd never heard of it before my mission), it used to be Portuguese colony on an island near Mainland China, and it's filled with people from all over the world! There's English, Portuguese, Chinese written everywhere. I just had a feeling that I'd be coming to Macau--I really did! I told the elders on Sunday night, "I don't know, I just feel like I'm going to Macau..." And a week later, well, here I am!

My junior companion is Sister Fernelius! (That's right, I'm senior! Oh how I miss being junior companion haha, it stinks having to call the shots, especially because my companion has been out longer than me! It's just President Hawks giving me some practice before I start training, so I suppose I appreciate it...) Seriously, she just can't get rid of me, no matter how hard she tries. We both lived in Robison Hall freshman year, we both got called to Hong Kong, we lived together while she was in TKO and I was in Kwun Tong, and now we're companions in Macau! It's so fun to be serving together, although it will only be for two weeks, until all the new sister missionaries come. Then we're all training, crazy!

Katie and Sister Fernelius
So now on to the t-shirts of the week: the first one says, "WHO cat?" and has a giant picture of a bunny rabbit across the back. I don't really get it, but it was actually pretty cute. The next one might be a erroneous quote from Shakespeare or something? I'm not sure. It says, "But earthlier happy is the rose distill'd." I'm still debating whether I'll buy it or not... after all, it is hot pink.

Oh, and here's the store name of the week: "Underwaist Swimsuits." From what I could tell, it seemed like a normal swimsuit store to me. But why did it say underwaist. What does that mean?

And now it's time to discuss the week's adventures! So last Monday in Kwun Tong, Sister Chan and I were crossing the street when we hear a thud and a grunt of pain. And we look around to see the most alarming sight: this old, very hunched-over, grungy old man, bleeding from his mouth because he'd just ran into a handrail on the side of the road. He was panting and looked to be ready to collapse at any second. My heart immediately started to race, and I had no idea what to do, because he needed some serious help, and I couldn't tell what was even wrong with him. There were so many people around just watching him, and no one was doing anything, and he started walking again, but I just knew he was going to fall over right there in the middle of the road. He was grasping the handrail to just stay standing, and then he started crossing the street, and it seemed like the only thing that was keeping him standing was his inertia from walking forward. He ran until he made it to the opposite handrail, and just stood there for a second. And no one was doing anything, so we just booked it over there as he started to walk again, and each one of us grabbed his arm and started running with him. So there I am, trying my best to hold my McDonalds ice cream cone in one hand, this incredibly heavy, nearly fainting man in another, while poor little Sister Chan can hardly him up on the other side. Finally we got to the health clinic that he was headed to, and he flung himself into a chair, scaring the woman next to him half to death. Then he thanked us and shooed us away. And afterwards we just stood there for five minutes or so, resting, eating our ice cream, and trying to wrap our head around what had just happened. What if we hadn't been there? I've learned about the bystander phenomenon (or whatever it's called) in my psychology classes--how people frequently don't do anything to help someone in need if there are too many people around. And I just decided right then to never be a bystander, never debate whether or not to help someone like that. I mean honestly, what was the reason for my hesitation in the first place?

So the APs told me I was moving Tuesday morning, and on Tuesday evening we had ward council. I wasn't sure whether or not to tell them that I was leaving... I kind of wanted to just disappear haha, but I figured it would be better to let them know. Usually the missionaries leave early so that we can get home on time, so I decided to mention it right before I left, because I thought that would be the least disruptive way to do it. CUE awkward-Sister-Cutler theme song. I stand up and start to say, "Oh, and just to let you know, I'll be leaving on Thursday to go to Macau." At the same time, I try to start packing my things so that I don't have to make eye contact with anyone (I was kind of afraid of crying, actually). So right as I say 'leaving on Thursday,' I'm reaching for my water bottle, I knock it over, scramble to save it, knock it over again, while simultaneously trying to grab my backpack on the ground. And everyone is just looking at me, the elders are laughing because I was being so awkward, and then Brother Wong stands up and says, "Let's take a picture!" So without hesitation, everyone stands up, gathers around me, and smiles for the greatest, most awkward group picture ever. My face was bright red and I was just trying not to let any emotion out because I wasn't sure if it would be laughter or tears or what! But wow do I miss Kwun Tong! That is such a special place, nowhere else like it.

Last Ward Council in Kwun Tong

Tuesday was full of flurried preparations so that I could be free on Wednesday to meet with as many investigators as possible. And wow was it a crazy day! So many unexpected miracles, one of them being H. So a couple of months ago, one of our investigators cancelled on us last minute, and it was pretty late, so we were on our way home. I was feeling pretty bummed out because we hadn't done as much missionary work as I'd wanted to that day. And I'm praying so hard for something, when all the sudden, I see this girl walking toward us. I say hello, and we start talking, and turns out she likes to sit outside our church all the time when she's sad. She seemed really interested in meeting with us, and we were super excited for the rest of the night because finding her really was a miracle. But then we could never schedule her, and I was starting to just give up. But then she called us about an hour before English class and said, "I just saw your elders, and they said you have English class tonight. Can I come? Then afterwards we can talk about your church." I was ecstatic! When she got to the church, she told us that she'd actually just dumped her boyfriend, because he kept telling her not to come to the church. She was a little upset, but she seemed happier to just be in the church with all of us. I know that the timing was not coincidence; there's no way. That was Heavenly Father's way of helping me leave the area feeling like I'd done something good, like I'd made a difference.
English class was hilarious, absolutely awesome. I was inspired by a Mutual activity that we had forever ago. The theme of the class was TRAVEL, so we set up the classroom like an airplane, putting all the seats in rows with two aisles on either side. The captain and co-captain (Elders Parry and Brown) sat at the front, facing the whiteboard, and on the whiteboard we drew the control panel, dashboard, steering wheels, and a view of the sky out the "windows." So we taught them all different words about traveling on the plane, we told them to fasten their seatbelts, and we passed out snacks! Then our plane "crashed," so we went outside to see where we were. In the next classroom, we'd drawn pictures to represent France! So we taught them a few new words there, and proceeded on to the next classrooms: Italy, Australia, and the good ol' US of A. It was so fun! Then we went back to the airplane (which we'd magically fixed), and flew for a few more minutes... and then we crashed again! And this time all of us died. CUE the spiritual thought. We taught about the Plan of Salvation, the purpose of this life, and what happens after we die. It was such a fun lesson, and I think people really understood what we were teaching too! It was definitely the best English class we'd had.

But now I'm in Macau! I'm in the international branch, which means all our meetings are in English! And some Tagalog, because most of the members here are from the Philippines. And wow, the Philippinas are such sweethearts! They immediately welcomed me, gave me hugs, fed me food, and made me feel like a member of their family. And they're incredible missionaries. They make new friends so quickly, and then immediately bring them to church and tell us, "You need to teach them right now!" It's so amazing. They actually remind me of when I was a kid. You know, you go to Chick-fil-a, and after eating, you go to the playground, meet some random kid, and they become your new best friend for the next twenty minutes. These sisters are immediately best friends with anyone we bring in the door. It's awesome. Unfortunately, it's a real challenge to actually see people, because they are worked so hard for such long hours. It has been a rollercoaster! One day we'll meet four new people, teach them lessons, reschedule them. Then on Sunday, we had five lessons scheduled around church, and all of them got cancelled. The only lesson we taught was on the street to three sweet women, all of them named Joy. I think Heavenly Father was trying to make up for all the other people cancelling haha, it worked pretty well!

Anyways, we're headed out to do some sightseeing and shopping, but I hope you all know how much I love you! Mom, Dad, Rebecca, Rachel, Rowan, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins (especially Jesse and Drew!), friends, random people, you are all in my prayers! I miss you, but can you believe how fast the time is flying! I'll be home in less than 9 months, yikes! I'd better stop emailing so that I can get out of here and start converting some more people. Time is ticking!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Week 38, in which I don't want to be Cinderella, sitting in a dark cold dusty cellar; and in which we have a couple of those 'I wish everyday was like today' days

If you recognized that song, you're either my sisters, you lived on Paspeheghe Run at some point in your life, or we are/should be best friends forever. Anyways, I have had that Cheetah Girls song stuck in my head ever since I went shopping in a poh-poh store (the place where all the old ladies buy their cheap, frumpy clothes) in Mong Kok last week. 'Why?' you may ask. BECAUSE THEY PLAYED THAT SONG. IN THE POHPOH STORE. IN HONG KONG. I almost died. It brought back so many memories, particularly when we (you know who I'm talking to) made up that dance in the room above the garage. Once a Cheetah Girl, always a Cheetah Girl!

Anyways, I've probably embarrassed myself sufficiently for one email.

And by the way, I ended up buying a couple skirts at that store. Turns out those pohpohs have pretty good taste!

Moving on! T-shirts of the week! (Note: Although it almost killed me, I have retained the original spelling.) Here's a good one: "Gettysburg Address: 267 words. The Ten Commandments: 88 words. FDA regulation on cereal flour (part 137): 10,959 words."

Or this one: "Queen save the God. Younth are the best. Love is everything. Eternity is not a distance but a decision." Younth? Oh dear.

I'm noticing a trend: "Queen savie the Good."

This is my favorite: "I am the overlord. Boast that. Pass the information north." I think "Boast that!" is going to be my new catchphrase. "Boast that!" like saying, "Owned!"

I've never really thought of myself as a terrifying person, but I think I've scared at least 15 people during finding this week. Maybe it's because I'm white and speaking Chinese? I don't know, no matter how nice I try to be, they still act like they want to run away! That's one of my preferred forms of rejection though, people just running away. It's nicer haha. Although I liked this one woman's way of doing it. I walked up to her and said, "Hello! I'm Sister Cutler!" And she says, "I am too! Good bye!" I just stood there for a couple seconds figuring out what had happened, and once my brain had processed it, she was gone.

In other news, we are allowed to email friends now! So exciting! But let me warn you now, I can't guarantee that my responses will be long or interesting! Family emails come first every time, no exceptions!

The past three days or so have been absolutely miraculous, so many IMMEDIATE answers to prayers. Seriously. The other day we were in Wan Chai and we had to get home right away, and as we're running to the bus stop, I'm praying in my head that the bus will come quick (because sometimes we end up waiting for half an hour). And I turn around and the bus is RIGHT THERE. And the next day, that happened again as we were running late for an appointment. We had to RUN to catch the bus, but we got there just in time! And as we were walking home one night, I was feeling kind of low, because no one had really wanted to talk to us that day. And I prayed in my head that God would send someone to us. And no sooner had I said 'Amen' then we ran into a man that I'd met a few weeks ago who's from Miami! Actually the first time I met him he was walking home with his wife, both of them kind of drunk, and I don't know why, but I was just super sassy and just stood there and said, "What are YOU doing here?!" And he said, super loud and with a huge smile, "I live here, what are YOU doing here?!" And I said, "I'm a missionary!" And he said, "A Mormon!" And I said, "Yeah!" And after a minute or two, they went home. But this time he was out with his little girl, and we talked for like 20 minutes, and it was so awesome!

And we've been blessed with so many random people to teach this week. The Tseung Kwan O elders scheduled someone for us, and turns out both her parents are Christian, but they go to different Christian churches, and she has always wanted to know why there are so many different churches and how she can know which one is right. Oh yeah, sounds like Joseph Smith to me! And then one of the girls that our elders found a few weeks ago finally met with us again. We watched the Joseph Smith movie, and afterwards she said she was so touched and that she knew God loved her and wanted her to be baptized! It was such an awesome lesson, the Spirit was so strong and we were all just grinning our faces off the whole time.

Oh, and one night we were out finding, and it was almost time for dinner, so we were just walking towards where we were going to buy dinner, but then I just stopped for no real reason and said, "Hey, let's cross the street." And as soon as we crossed the street, we saw these two girls in a park, and we went over to talk to them--yeah, SO GOOD. They were so prepared, and one of the girls even said that she has been looking for a church and is reading through the whole Bible to find out what is true. It's so wonderful when you realize that Heavenly Father really is guiding you. Often, I just have to trust that he is, because I don't always see the results of my actions. But this week has just been full of gifts from him, and I am so grateful for them. I love my mission! I love it, every minute, even the ones when I'm crammed in the MTR or being rejected by 14-year-old girls! I love the people and the area and I'm just having the time of my life! I can't believe I have less than 9 months left. Time is flying, and I keep reminding myself to live in the moment and bask in the experience. I'm so grateful for my family, and I love you all so much! Have a great week!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Week 37, in which A teaches me about faith, and in which C.S. Lewis makes an excellent point (but let's be real, that happens like every other day or so)

Hello everyone! Excellent news! I'm in Kwun Tong for my fifth move in a row! And with Sister Chan for our third move! I feel so incredibly blessed. I love my companion, I love my area, and I love the people we're meeting here. Oh, and have I told you lately how much I love Cantonese? Seriously, it's the weirdest, sweetest, sassiest language in the world. It's kind of like a puzzle, where all sorts of pieces fit together, and DING! Out pops something awesome. It's hard to explain, but let me tell you, my linguistics classes have really changed the way I think about languages, and that thought process has really helped with picking up the language. But honestly, it's God who has helped me pick it up so fast. There's no other way to explain it!

Missionary in training

T-shirts of the week! This was a good week for weird t-shirts, because it's warm and most people have taken off their jackets (although some people are still bundled up like it's mid-January at BYU... pathetic!). The first t-shirt says, "When you hear the sound of confusion drifting through the door, get away." The second: "The handsome boy in blue was often with a girl." I don't know, but it sounds kind of like a line from an EB Browning poem or a book by that lady who wrote Enchanted April (I can't remember her name for the life of me). But the best one was actually a black leather jacket with white sleeves... yeah, one of those awkward, trying-to-be-tough ones. On the back was embroidered: "Backbone attacker: special parking." I'd never realized the kind of privileges that come with breaking people's backs... I'll keep it in mind.

Traditional Chinese Opera Costumes

We've had a pretty challenging week, where finding is involved. Usually when we go out finding, we at least meet a few people who are willing to listen, and they make all the rejection worthwhile. But yesterday I was pretty sick with a cold and my head just felt really big and heavy, and I was not in the mood for finding. But we didn't have anything else scheduled, so out the door we went! And it was just a rough time. No one had time to talk or even take a pamphlet, and I was getting discouraged. But we started to sing "There is Sunshine in my Soul Today" and that get me a little more pumped, and then as we're walking down the hill, with about 10 minutes before we need to head home, we stopped a young woman pushing a baby stroller and talked with her for a few minutes. Her name is A, and we could tell that she was just so ready to hear about the Plan of Salvation--where we were before this life, why we need to come to earth, and what happens when we die. We talked with her, got her number, and we'll be seeing her this week! And after that, I realized something about faith. I thought to myself, "If I'd known that A would be at the end of that finding time, I would have been so happy to be rejected by all those other people. I wouldn't have cared at all, because I would have known that it would all be worth it." And this might seem really obvious to you, but I feel like at that moment I relearned what faith is.
Katie in Wonderland

Faith is not knowing what's at the end, but it's knowing that the end will be good, will be worth it. It's like the first time you hike a mountain. You don't know for sure that the view will be worth the climb, but you have enough hope that you act, you climb the mountain, and you find out for yourself. What's the worst that could happen? Maybe the view won't be quite worth it, but you got some exercise, right? And exercising faith in God is the same way. Maybe you don't know if he's there or not. But you'd better find out for yourself. How to do that? Pray and read the scriptures and just try it out. Just try doing what he says. What's the worst that could happen? You find out that he's not there, but you did some good things. What's the best that could happen? You do what he says, and he keeps his promises and blesses you. You become a better person. You find out your purpose in life. You learn that life doesn't end with death, that because of Jesus Christ, each one of us will be resurrected. You find greater peace, happiness, and light. You know the truth, and the truth sets you free. That's what we do here, we just invite people to try it for themselves. If you haven't tried it already, try it out! What's the worst that could happen? And what's the best that could happen?

One of the things people say to us a lot is, "Your religion is good for you, and Jesus Christ was probably a good person, but I don't need what he has to offer." But the thing is, when Jesus Christ came to earth, he didn't come to just be a "good person." We can't just go around saying that Jesus was good, but maybe not necessary. Because either he was the son of God, the Messiah, or he was a liar. I love what C.S. Lewis says: “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. … You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. … But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

There's no such thing as middle ground. We each have to decide what side we'll be on. We can't be eternal fence-sitters, plus how uncomfortable is that! A fence is probably the least comfortable place to sit. So get off it! That's what I want to holler from off the highest roof in Hong Kong! (And let me tell you, that's pretty high...) Get off the fence!

At the Hong Kong Science and History Museum

Little known fact: Dinosaurs like to read the Book of Mormon

The aqueduct from Harry Potter movie!


Monday, March 4, 2013

Week 36, in which beat-boxing in elevator 4 is not only permitted, but also encouraged.

Basically, beat-boxing hymns in the elevator is my new favorite hobby. One of the most fun aspects of it is having to stop and act normal whenever the doors open and someone else comes in. We always end up almost dying from holding in laughter, but we haven't cracked yet.

Anyways, another busy week has passed, which means it's time for another t-shirt of the week! This one is a pretty stereotypical Hong Kong t-shirt, nothing out of the ordinary. It's pink with two cutesy animals whose noses are touching. It says, "Love came into my life at the same time I saw you. Please never don't be near, to me dear heart is mine." I think the double negative is my favorite part of it.

I made a goal a couple of weeks ago to read all of the Old Testament! Which was fun (and a little disturbing) until I got to Leviticus... and Numbers... I'll be honest, the Law of Moses is killing me slowly. But here's an interesting little biblical treasure that I picked up in Leviticus 6:21, talking about the different sacrifices they are required to make: "In a pan it shall be made with oil; and when it is baken, thou shalt bring it in: and the baken pieces of the meat offering shalt thou offer for a sweet savour unto the Lord." Now, anyone who has ever spoken English knows that the past participle of bake is baked, not baken, so I argue that this verse is actually referring to one of the most delicious of breakfast foods, BACON. Obviously, the spelling of the word bacon has evolved over time, a natural and common phenomenon. Plus, the verse says that the sacrifice has a 'sweet savour,' and what other sacrifice could smell better than bacon? And we know that the Lord asked the ancient Israelites to sacrifice the best of all that they had, so clearly the Israelites had really great taste if they were sacrificing bacon. (I love personal study.)

A few weeks ago, we were reading scriptures with one of our less-actives, and she is just the cutest thing ever... very special. After we read a few verses, she asked us if we could see it. We said, "See what?" And she said, "The starlight, of course!" We were sitting outside in the early afternoon, so obviously we were having trouble figuring out what she was talking about. It was clear that we were confused, so she pointed at the scriptures and said again, "The starlight between the words! It's not too bright, I don't need sunglasses or anything, but it's just right there, glowing. Can't you see it?" Oh Sister C, how I wish I could.

Well, we're off to the Science and History Museums now, so I've gotta wrap it up! I promise next week's email will be more eventful, but that's all for now! I love you all so much and you are in my thoughts and prayers! Keep the Faith! And if you don't have it yet, find it first and then keep it, because it's the most important thing out there!