Monday, February 25, 2013

The Investidater

Subject: The Investidater
Hello from Montreal!

Is everyone alive? Are my friends married yet? Does Daniel have a girlfriend now? My goodness, I feel like I've been here for a lifetime! Montreal is absolutely incredible! Incredibly cold, that is. Je blague, it really is a wonderful city! I'm learning a lot and having more adventures than I can handle. Where do I even begin? Each day has been quite the experience.

On Monday an eternity ago I left my dear old P-town. We woke up at a ridiculous hour and stole away into the night, leaving my happy days at the MTC behind forever. I waved goodbye to you all and blew one of those rare and valuable missionary kisses to all of my loved ones in the city limits, but you were all probably asleep and dreaming of me. My whole childhood flashed before my eyes as I left. But don't worry Provo, I'll be back soon enough!

When we got to the airport it really started to hit me that I was a missionary. It was incredibly difficult to talk to my family on the phone, but the memory of it has kept me warm on these cold nights in Montreal. I miss you all more than you can even imagine! 

Hours later my mission presidents picked us up after we went through the relentless process of becoming legal aliens of Canada. They are the NICEST people in the world! My mission president's wife is a saint. Perfectly catered to Sister Cutler. I'm sad that I'll only be with them for a few months, but they are just the absolute greatest. They fed me my last healthy meal and I honestly don't remember what happened after that.

In the morning I was put in the hands of my trainer, Sister Cantu. Again, perfectly catered to Sister Cutler. She is completely FABULOUS! I love her so much already. She pushes me to go out of my comfort zone, but she is very understanding and encouraging. My goodness, missions are HARD! Especially if you're a shy one like me. But it's totally worth it! I have loved every single day in spite of challenges.

I'm currently serving on the island, which is basically the heart of the city of Montreal within the St. Lawrence river. It's an amazing city with some of the most interesting people. And I mean INTERESTING. My companion and I are opening a new area as well, so... PRAY FOR ME. Ha ha but really, I'm not kidding. IT's super tough, but I'm learning a lot in a short amount of time.

In my part of the mission we do a little thing called Metro contacting. I'm sorry, but my year and a half in retail did NOT prepare me for this. Basically I accost people on the metro and try to tell them about my beliefs in very bad French, and then they proceed to yell at me in a dialect of the language that I have honestly never heard before. THE BEST! Ha ha not my favorite thing in the world, but I'm learning a lot about human nature. Metro contacting can actually be very fruitful in finding investigators though, and it turns up some fun people. 

My first day with my trainer was just so bizarre. We went to this African guy's house in the evening to help him clean before he moved in, and boy did I get us into trouble. So apparently I can't speak French? Ha ha. He asked if he could listen to music while we cleaned, and since I had been in the MTC with the pleasure of hearing pre-pubescent, crackily voiced elders singing Called to Serve for twelve days straight, I responded with an enthousiastic, "OUI!!!" Whoops. My bad. Omar doesn't speak English, so I don't think he realized just how many F-bombs were on his Eminem album. Ha ha my trainer wanted to beat me. So there I am, bopping around Omar's house to Eminem, when he approaches me with some Sunny D. And I'm like, "Yay! Je l'aime!" Then somewhere lost in translation he asks if I want some beer, and again I'm like, "YAY! Je l'aime!" HA HA my poor trainer about died. So my first day was great! I didn't end up scoring free beer from Omar, but I got to listen to some pretty sick beats. Life is so good.

Metro contacting turns up some pretty great people. This brings me to the best blind date of my life. A few weeks ago Soeur Cantu received the number of a man named Mathieu while contacting in the metro. We called him on Wednesday and asked if he would like to meet with us and hear more about our beliefs, and surprisingly he agreed. The next day he even called to confirm our appointment, and at this point Sister Cantu was ecstatic. A golden investigator! Well, as the night drew closer to our appointment, I started to get this familiar feeling, but I just couldn't place it. We get to the metro stop where we are going to meet him when he calls us and tells us he's in his truck outside, waiting for us. Then it hit me--this was TOTALLY a blind date. Jokingly I say to Sister Cantu, "I think Mathieu thinks we're going on a date with him," to which she just laughs, to which I respond,"Trust me, I've been on enough blind dates to know one when I see one." We get to his truck. He opens the door. Garbage spills out onto the street. This man is CONFUSED. In the STRONGEST Quebecois accent I have yet to hear, he says, "There's TWO of you?!" Ha ha Sister Cantu is determined to prove to me that this isn't a date, but the odds were highly in my favor at this point. We then have to awkwardly explain to him why we can't get into his truck, and he is just completely bewildered. Seeing that we're in skirts, he's like, "Uhhh.. uh... I'm going to go home and change. I'll meet you at McDonald's." Ha ha sooo glorious. It was shaping up to be one of the fanciest blind dates I've ever been on! We get to McDonald's and the whole time Sister Cantu is like, "This guy knows it's not a date, I swear. He wants to hear about the gospel, I promise." I'm just shaking my head because I am totally prepared for what we're actually there for. So in waltzes the investidater, tats, earrings, and all. He then proceeds to tell Sister Cantu how black and beautiful her eyes are, and it was all I could do not to run around McDo's laughing in triumph. So perfect. We attempt to teach this poor man a lesson, but he just sits there shoving Big Macs down his gullet and making fun of us in a dialect of French that even my trainer couldn't understand. Ugggh! Worst date of my life! And I've been on some pretty sketchy dates (just ask Christine). Sister Cantu knows I am never going to let her live this down. Ever. I seriously love my mission because of moments like this one. Defeated, Sister Cantu and I walk the walk of shame through the snow as the investidater drives off into the night. My trainer is just such a temptress. Not only does she take me on a date my first week out, but then she dragged me to a bar to eat my first poutine. I just love her. Such a terrible, terrible influence. :) Yesterday as we were knocking doors, she jokingly says, "I've taken you on a date and to a bar. Now all I have to do is get you some marijuana." The VERY next door we go to, what do we find? Two Muslim bros passing around a doobie. JE L'AIME! They were higher than kites, but that's one of the many things I love about Montreal.

Let me paint a picture for you. Me, frolicking through the streets of old Montreal in bitter winds and blizzards, inhaling the soft perfume of marijuana billowing from a distant apartment. The Muslim boys on the metro gaze at me with lust in their eyes, but I pretend that they give me their phone numbers because they are interested in my message and not me. Me, bible bashing with a pastor on my first week out without my bible. I wipe the light sheen of sweat from my brow as the metro suffocates me, but it's all worth it. I am loving my mission! It's tough, but I am having so much fun. I love you and miss you all so very, very much! Have a great week! 



Friday, February 15, 2013

The Prison on 9th

Ha ha just stole the title for this email from Daniel. LOVE IT. My goodness, this week has gone by incredibly fast! In just three more days I'll be hopping on an airplane bright and early Monday morning. I don't know what I'm going to do without all of my MTC eye candy, but I can't wait to get out to the field and find out just how cold Montreal really is. Think warm thoughts for me! Happy V-day yesterday! Single Awareness Day at the MTC is REAL. So many tears. From me, mostly. It's all good. I can go 18 months without affection... right, right?!
Shout out to my mom, grammie Nelson, Andrew, and the Sanfords for sending me so many great things for Valentine's Day! Bartering with treats in the MTC is like bartering for things with cigarettes in prison, so I have been so very blessed by my family. Thank you, thank you, thank you a million times! And thank you to those who have sent me letters. It's so wonderful to know about the outside world and to feel your love and be called Sylvia instead of Sis Cut. I had to carve my name into the white cinderblock walls of my residence just to remember that I have a past self.
I can't believe just how many things can happen in one week as a missionary! I'll try to share everything that I can. So apparently Sunday is supposed to be the best day ever at the MTC? False. I spent the whole day in leadership meetings, and have never prayed for a tempest so desperately in all of my life. It was just a rough day, but my companion is a saint. She let me vent and cry the whole night long. i seriously love that girl. We are having the time of our lives in this minimum security prison full of the most beautiful young elders I have ever seen. Leaving is going to be so rough for me, but French Canadians will definitely suffice.
My district is such a riot, and I don't think I would have survived the MTC without them. I am fairly certain that Elder Gunther from Germany and Elder Augusto from Portugal are having serious companionship issues over me. I told Elder Augusto that he only wants to marry me for his green card, but I think Elder Gunther's love is definitely sincere. Elder Augusto is always nervously clucking, "Aaah... womans... WOMANS!" at me, as well as, "Don't play, just love!" ha ha seriously, he is golden. He sent me a Dear Jane this week. It reads: "Dear Jane, IS OVER! GET OUT FROM MY HEAD!!! With love, wait a second, without any love, Andre Augusto." Ha ha what a gem! If only you could know what his adorable Portuguese accent sounds like, it would make it ten times better. My favorite elder is Elder Gunther. The other day he looks at me in all seriousness and says, "Sister Cutler, Ich have quvestion for you." "Yes, Elder Gunther?" "Vell, I have vord..." "Okay, what is it?" "Vhat mean... hoochie mama?' HA HA HA without missing a beat, I look at him and say, "Well, you're looking at one." The whole district was on the floor in tears. Now I've been nicknamed "Number One Hoochie Mama" in my district. Aaah. The things that suddenly become funny when you're a missionary. My other favorite line from Elder Gunther this week: "Qvick! District Leader iz gone! Letz make a party!" ha ha ohhh my sweet, sweet elders. I'm going to miss my district so much. The elders are incredible and have such amazing testimonies. It's nice to be with men that aren't your average Utah County 19 year old. The other elder in my district is a soft-spoken man from Haiti. He grew up on the streets as a kid but found his way to the gospel. He is such an amazing person and has the strongest, most loving heart. He embodies the very definition of brotherly kindness and has the warmest soul.
The sisters in my district are completely wonderful. I love them more than anything and hate that we only get two weeks together. The German sisters are a blast and I just can't help but smile when I'm around them. So much love for my district! The MTC has been a great experience for me. It's like the EFY I never had!
The sisters have done a wonderful job in putting up with my shenanigans. There's this six foot five Chilean elder in our zone that I lovingly refer to as Elder Tall, Dark, and Handsome, or Elder Nephi, as he is large in stature and highly favored of Sister Cutler. Anyway, the other day we were sitting in class and in walks Elder Nephi. He says, "Hey sisters, I have a question for you. Would any of you like a kiss?" Without a moment of hesitation, I cried "YES!" with a little too much enthusiasm. Turns out he just wanted to give us Hershey's kisses. Whoops. He did secretly give me two kisses though because he thinks I'm funny. Since then I have been lording it over my district the rest of the week. My companion is at her wits' end. The other night out of nowhere she cried in full exasperation, " I swear, if ONE MORE ELDER looks at Sister Cutler with lust in his eyes, he should be thrust down to hell!" Ha ha I really love her. My poor sweet sister friend has been putting up with a lot of sassiness as of late. Before anyone gets any ideas, my heart is sooo locked down and I am definitely not encouraging the elders. I promise. But I can't help it that I'm popular.
Today has been great. I just got back from the temple and I saw Sister Maxwell! It was so wonderful to see someone I love from the outside world! Yesterday i got to take a sister to the student health clinic down the street, and it was the happiest day of my life. I'm so glad I got to roam the streets of P-town one last time before I leave for Montreal. The MTC has been wonderful. Next time you hear from me I'll probably be freaking out a bit, so send me those sweet, sweet vibes! Being coordinating sister has been great. I have loved getting to know all of the girls and serve at the MTC in this way. I get out of class a lot. So many great perks! :)
I love you all so much and hope you are doing well! Missing you!
Peace and blessings, peace and blessings.
With all of my love,
Sister Cutler

Friday, February 8, 2013

First email from the MTC

Hello everybody!

Wow, the MTC... What a trip! I can safely say that these past two days have been the longest days of my life. It feels like I've been here for weeks, but last night one of my sweet Montreal sisters reminded me that we'd only been here for like 30 hours. Time flies when you're having fun is a phrase that does NOT apply at the MTC. That's not to say that it hasn't been a hoot since I got here, but I am definitely starting to get a better sense of what eternity feels like.

Okay, so allow me to tell the story of my life here at the empty sea (which it's not, apparently... very disappointed about that). After I was dragged away like a helpless kitten from my family, I was herded through a million different rooms like prize-winning cattle. (I say prize-winning because, well, I was looking pretty fine in my sister missionary attire.) I think some of the elders can attest to that... lock your hearts, dang it! ;) After all of the chaos my host sister left me in my classroom without giving me a single clue as to what came next. So there I find myself with two Germans, one elder and one sister. I was completely baffled because their French did not sound French at all. Surprise! They were speaking German. At this point I was stressed out of my mind because I thought for sure they had taken me to the wrong class. Luckily three more Montreal sisters arrived about half an hour later, so it all worked out.

During that half hour, however, even MORE Germans showed up, as well as a Portuguese elder and a Haitian elder. They are all leaving in two weeks, and half of them were already serving in Europe for the past few months before they got here. I was so confused, because my whole district was leaving me and I just got here. Oh, but was I in for a surprise. No one told me that I'm in an accelerated district, which means I will be leaving for Montreal in TEN DAYS from today! I am soooo not ready to go. Ha ha PRAY FOR ME!

I am with three other Montreal sisters who will be leaving with me in the next ten days, so that's comforting at least. We all get along so well already. Seriously, I've never met sweeter girls in my entire life. They were definitely hand picked just for me, and it has been such a blessing to be with them. My companion is Sister Landeen from American Fork, and she is incredibly warm and outgoing. I've learned a lot from her in the past few days and hope that my scriptures will be as well marked as hers at some point in my life... Ha ha I'm kind of the slacker sister in this group... oh well, c'est la vie!

Last night we met our branch and had interviews with the Branch President. I'm in the accelerated language branch, which means I have a lot of foreigners going to English speaking missions. One of the German Elders in my district is going to California, so just imagine my delight every time he says where he's serving his mission... ha ha, it's seriously like Arnold Schwarzenager. LOVE IT. We also have a HUGE district of Alpine and Germany missionaries, so it's been a German themed MTC experience so far.

After the LONGEST branch meeting of my life, I was so happy to get to take a shower. I was literally in there for two minutes when one of my roomates came in and told me I needed to get out and get dressed because the branch presidency was there to see me. The whole time I kept thinking, "WHO DIED?!" Seriously, the most terrifying moment of my life. I'm standing there soaking wet with no clue as to what is going on and wondering if I was about to get sent home. It turns out that they are calling me to be the coordinating sister! Whoo hoo! Ha ha seriously, PRAY FOR ME. It's basically like being a zone leader, except for sisters. I have over 30 sisters in my branch, so keep me in your prayers and send me good vibes. I'll only be here for another week and a half, but I can't wait to serve at the MTC in this capacity. My job is to love and care for all of these sisters, as well as help the huge group coming in next week get used to the MTC! ...even though I still have no idea what I'm doing here...

Anyway, it truly has been an incredible experience so far. I feel loved and blessed and anxious and terrified all at the same time, but I feel your love and prayers. I love you all so very much and cannot wait to see you all again in 18 days... JK! 18 months! I love it. I only have one P-day left here, so if you were planning on writing me at the MTC you have about another week to do so. Away to Montreal! I'm going to freeze. Anyone who wants to send me wool socks would be loved forever. I love you and miss you all SOOOOO much! Danke! Ich liebe dich! Just kidding, I can't speak German.


Sister Cutler