The girl next to me is watching an Indonesian soap opera on Youtube. It's kind of distracting.
Anyways, yet another crazy week in Macau! But before I get to that part, it's time for t-shirt of the week! And this week has been great. Here's the first one: "Terrorist pug. Make a noise." And it had this really cute (or ugly? I can never tell with pugs...) pug on the front with its tongue hanging out of its mouth. The next one: "Shop after brunch." I completely agree, the only thing better than brunch is when you go shopping afterwards. The last one: "Love a fair." Clever. I do love a good fair.
So here's the scoop on my week in Macau. The craziness all started in the midst of district meeting. I had a rather unfortunate lunch, which led to quite an uncomfortable stomach ache. So I was going back and forth to the bathroom between trainings, hoping to just get sick and have it over with. But it didn't happen, so I just went back into the room, looking rather pale-faced and pathetic. And to my alarm, President Hawks was there. Fantastic. Now don't get me wrong, I love President Hawks, but he doesn't just show up in Macau for no reason. Well, turns out he was there for an interview with one of the other missionaries, but he said, "Well, since I'm here, I might as well announce that Sister Cutler, you're moving out of Macau on Friday (in three days) and Sister L, you're switching back to International." I couldn't really understand what was going on at first (I was pretty out of it), but my tear-ducts realized what had happened before my brain did, so tears started just coming out without my permission. President Hawks said, "There is wisdom in this," and mysteriously walked out of the room. He's so good at making an exit. I hope that I can exit Macau the same way he exited the room at that moment. So classy.
Well, let me tell you folks, I always knew I loved Macau, but I never knew how much until I was told I had to leave. I literally had no time to pack everything, see everyone, write all the records I'd slacked on, and process what was going on in my mind. Seriously, I felt like I was being sent home from my mission early. This time in Macau has been like a mission within a mission, and how strange for it to come to a close so quickly! At first, all I could think was, "But Sister J's baptism is on Sunday! And Sister D and Brother R are coming back Friday afternoon! And Sister T is just starting to make real progress!" But then I realized that this kind of mindset was not healthy, so I cut it out and quickly realized that I'm really excited to go back to Chinese work. I'll be going to Hung Shui Kiu, which is in the New Territories, basically the boonies of Hong Kong. It's beautiful out there and the people apparently are wonderful. I'm excited to get my Chinese improving even faster (although it has improved a lot here in international too!) and I'm excited to get to know a new area.
Saying goodbye to all these people was so hard, but it was so so rewarding. Sometimes you get down on yourself, thinking that you haven't made a difference. But this week I really found that yes, I have made a difference for some of these people. And wow have they made a difference for me. I have learned so much from them, and I sure do love them.
So on Thursday night, right as I finished packing, I received a telephone call... "Sister Cutler, you won't be moving until October 7th." By that point, I was so incredibly exhausted that I just sat down laughing hysterically, not knowing if I was happy or sad or what. Eventually I figured out that I was happy, so so happy! Except for the fact that I'll have to live out of a suitcase for a while haha. So I saw Sister D and Brother R and baby A the next day! And they really are just the most beautiful family. I sure do love them.
And on Sunday, Sister J got baptized! It was a rough journey for her. Her relatives gave her a hard time about becoming Mormon, but she's pushed through it and was so happy at her baptism. Our last lesson with her before her baptism was about Lehi's Dream in 1 Nephi 8. We drew it on the board, and had the most fun discussing ways that we can keep holding onto the iron rod. Sister J is so sweet, and it was so hard telling her that I'd have to leave before her baptism, but I'm glad I managed to stay. Such a blessing.
And then today, all the missionaries went to MGM for one final buffet before I leave and before Elder L finishes his mission. It was so great. There's something about serving in Macau that brings everyone together. No hard feelings, no problems. These are some great missionaries, and I'll sure miss them. We had a great time talking about our favorite childhood memories and turns out we were all pretty awkward kids. I shared about some of my more ridiculous Halloween costumes growing up (what a weird kid I was) and it was just great. Oh, and the food was delicious, of course. I love eating, especially eating with friends.
But wait! The turmoil isn't over! We got a call from President Hawks this morning, and he said that I might be leaving on Wednesday instead of on the 7th! So we'll see what happens. Luckily I haven't unpacked yet. And either way, I'll be in Hung Shui Kiu for my next email. It didn't even faze me (is that how you spell 'faze?'), I'm just used to having my fate up in the air I suppose.
The mission just keeps getting better and better. Sometimes I think, "Gee, what was wrong with me at the beginning of my mission, why didn't I just feel like this the whole time?" But then I realized that it's not a problem with me, it's just the way life works. If the best was here already, life would be super lame. But it'll just keep going, getting better and better. That's how the gospel works. The best is always yet to come. Leaving here is hard, and leaving my mission will be hard.
But I feel like I've learned to be more like Paul. He really is my hero, and in the past few days, this verse has become my motto: "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content." 1 Timothy 6:6-8. I have great food (especially today) and I have plenty of clothes (although I'm kind of sick of all of them, but that's life as a sister missionary I suppose). I'm good with where I am (in an email place, by a nice Indonesian girl, trying to not watch Indonesian soap operas). And in a week, I'll be good with where I am (in Hung Shui Kiu with Sister C, pretending I'm Chinese). And in 6 months, I'll be good with where I am too (somewhere in Provo as an awkward RM, pretending that I know what my plan for life is). It's a good feeling, loving where you are, no matter how much time you have left in that place.
Sometimes I might feel like Frodo: "I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened." But I'm slowly learning to become more like Gandalf: "So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." I think if everyone were more like Gandalf, the world would be a better place. Actually, President Hawks kind of reminds me of Gandalf. Tall and mysterious, stern if necessary, but kind, sometimes even jolly, when speaking to sister missionaries, Hobbits, or small children. And I'm certain he has a hidden stash of fireworks somewhere in the mission office. I'll let you know when I find them.
And on that note, I'll sign off. Goodbye Macau! Hello Hung Shui Kiu!