Monday, August 4, 2014

The Final Chapter

Well, this is it. It's here. It's really, actually HERE! Apparently I'm coming home this week? APPARENTLY I served a full 18-month mission? Really? Are we sure about this? I feel like I just made my grand arrival in Quebec, and now I'm being ushered out? 

Whatever the case may be, I'm going to go ahead and take the time to give you a recap of this glorious week and then a few final words about how amazing it was to serve the Lord for the past year and a half.

This week was absolutely glorious! I couldn't have asked for a better last full week on the mission. I was incredibly blessed day in and day out. On Monday we went to Old Montreal for my last time. It was POURING rain, but I honestly didn't mind one bit. We went with Sister Alvarez and Sister Dick, and then somehow... eh hem... I had nothing to do with this... uhhh... SOMEHOW the beautiful Spanish elders from Monterrey ended up joining us. Like I said, I had NOTHING to do with this. But it was fun to hang out with elders for my second to last P-Day! What are they going to do, send me home?! Ha! I've been saying that ALL week. It's kind of getting old. But it's a funny joke nonetheless. Anyway, we had a beautiful day. We went and got bubble tea in Chinatown and walked the Parisianesque streets, feeling very European. I would say I felt more Spanish than French though, because the majority of the day I was deciphering missionary conversations in Spanish... sigh. All I could contribute was "METE LA PANSA!" when we were taking a selfie, which in Spanish means, "Suck in your stomach!" Still, I had a riot. 

After our fiesta in Old Montreal we went over to see some of my favorite members, the Gagnon family. Sister Gagnon made me curry because I told her how much I missed my Mom's curry, and she was an angel and made some especially for me. I was in HEAVEN! I can't believe how much I miss curry! The members have been spoiling us rotten this week. We had a dinner appointment every single night, and even lunch appointments on a few days. I think we opened our refrigerator all of four times last week haha. I'm rolling home on one LARGE Canadian tire! I hope you can recognize me at the airport! But seriously, I have been beyond blessed to be in the LaSalle ward. The members are incredibly kind. LaSalle will forever be my home away from home.

So the farewell tour... what on earth did I NOT do this week? It has been an exhausting, fulfilling past few days. On Wednesday I had my exit interview, which made me trunkier than trunky. President reminded me that, "It ain't over till it's over," but I couldn't help but be an anxiety-ridden mess thinking about all of my future possibilities. He told me that I was supposed to go home now and "actively seek" my eternal companion. What is that supposed to mean?! I'm freaking out! I am FREAKING out! The exit interview is supposed to happen right before you go home, but there were too many missionaries leaving with me, so I was fortunate enough to get to be a trunky little mess for the past week. ;) It was an awesome interview though and it brought me a lot of peace about the future, but then I went straight back to work and forgot about the fact that I have to go home soon and deal with real life. 

On Thursday we went to see my dear friend Sister Ross for the last time. She is literally the sweetest elderly lady I have met on my mission, not including Lucy. Afterward we went and saw my fab friend Nadine, who makes fun of all of my missionary clothes. And the funny thing is that it doesn't even offend me because I hate my missionary clothes just as much as she does. Ha ha. Thursday was CRAY... what else did we do? Oh yes. We had a lesson with this AMAZING girl name Jasmine who has been searching for the church her whole life and finally realized that this is what she has been looking for. I have never felt the spirit so strong in a lesson in all of my life. This girl is one of the most incredible people I have ever met. It is just so amazing to see that there are people out there who really are searching, but it's even more amazing when they realize that their search is at an end. I feel extremely blessed to have been able to teach her a few times on my mission. 

After our amazing lesson we went to have dinner with the COOLEST family ever. The wife has a Ph.D in Philosophy and is seriously my role model. They are an awesome family to be around, and their kids are absolutely adorable. I feel like I could see my future family being like this family. I just want to be them. Seriously, I do. But enough of this trunkiness. After our dinner with the Rennicks we went to our investigator Donna's baptismal interview! We sat outside for an HOUR (longest interview ever) and gossiped with Cedric, the king of Montreal. I honestly have no other way to describe this man. He just runs the show in the Montreal region of our mission. So our zone leader comes out at the end of the interview and motions for Sister Orozco and me to come into the room. He had a very solemn look on his face, and he didn't say anything. We were just like, "HOW could Donna not pass?! She's golden!" We walk in and Donna is wiping away tears, looking soooooo sad. Our hearts literally dropped to the floor. Then she looks up at us and says, "I PASSED!" And starts laughing. Aaaaaah! Typical Donna! Haha! We were so thrilled!!! She is such a trickster, that one. We just hugged her and cried and tried to stop shaking from all of the anxiety she had given us just moments before. 

Friday we had our zone training meeting, and Sister Orozco and I put together a skit for my final training. It was a highlight in my mission, to be sure. We were talking about using time effectively and not asking for permission to do good. It was based off of a true story. My story. One day Sister Varela and I had made a goal to contact 50 people in one day. Actually, we made that goal every day. It was during an era of missionary work where we counted every single contact we made and had a weird quota that we had to report on at the end of every week. So we knocked doors ALL evening, and we were having absolutely no success. Then we get to this one door. There was this super cool young woman who told us that she wasn't interested in becoming Mormon, but that they were about to have a Christian rock jam sesh with a bunch of people from her congregation, and we were welcome to join. Um, HELLO?! Why didn't we go in and join and baptize everyone?! Because we thought it would be a waste of time, and we wouldn't meet our quota of 50 contacts if we didn't keep knocking. Ughhhh... biggest regret of my mission! So yes, sad story, we did keep knocking. For zone conference we told the story through a skit, and at the end we all had a Josh Groban jam sesh. It was awesome! The elders brought a harmonica, a mandolin and an ocarina. We named our Christian folk band "Jericho Street" and rocked out to "If You Could High to Kolob" at the end. It was brilliant. You had to be there. After the zone training meeting I said a LOT of goodbyes to missionaries, some of whom I will probably never see again. It's a strange feeling to say goodbye to people that have become your whole universe. I honestly have no idea what I'm going to do with myself when I come home and adjust to a new universe.

Alright, on to Saturday! Saturday was Donna's baptism! Ohhh my. What a GLORIOUS day! Words cannot describe the beauty of this day. The whole program went so smoothly and so beautifully. Our amazing amie Marina even came to the baptism and totally saved the day! Elder Critchfield and I were going to do a musical number for the baptism, him on the violin and me on vocals, but our accompanist still hadn't shown up, and we needed to practice! Well, Marina is super woman, so she just came in and agreed to play. Then she thought the song was too simple on its own, so I sang a jazzed up version of "I Feel My Savior's Love" for the baptism. Ha ha. It was incredible! The whole evening was just the most beautiful, perfect, glorious thing I have ever experienced. Sister Orozco and I stood inside the baptismal font and watched as Donna entered the waters of baptism. She had so much joy and so much light in her eyes. It was a moment I will never, ever forget. 

On Sunday she received the Holy Ghost, which was another incredible experience. It was truly such a miracle to be able to watch her receive these two great gifts in her life on the last weekend of my mission. I had always hoped to see someone baptized and confirmed on the last weekend of my mission, and it actually happened! I feel so blessed. So, SO blessed.

Church was incredibly hard yesterday. I bore my final testimony and said goodbye to people that have literally become my second family. It still hasn't really hit me that I'm leaving. Every goodbye feels like a "see you later," when in reality I actually do have to leave these people. No matter. I am definitely saving up to come back as soon as I possibly can. I won't be able to leave if I don't tell myself that! In the evening we went to see Mommy and Daddy Morales for dinner. We had tons of fun together, as always. Being with their family reminds me so much of being with my family. It made me excited for when I will actually be with my family, but it still all seems surreal! Later in the evening we went on another nature walk with my sweet pea Anne Marie, another woman I will be sad to leave. Cedric invited himself, and we had a fabulous time chatting away and swatting at mosquitoes by the river. I honestly live for these moments. The sun was setting, the water was calm, the atmosphere peaceful. I just felt so much joy and accomplishment in that moment. Joy to be surrounded by people I love, joy to have served in the Canada Montreal Mission. I'm doing my best to treasure these moments because soon they will become memories, and then this whole experience will feel like a dream. 

I just wanted to close this letter with my final thoughts about my mission. It has been an incredible journey, and I have been blessed daily. My mission has truly been the greatest blessing of my life. I have been indescribably blessed with support and pure love from family and friends back home, as well as some of the most amazing people in the Quebec province. My mission was not always easy, but it was always a joy. When I look back I have nothing but good feelings and fond memories. The times that were hard seem to fade into the knowledge that Heavenly Father was always there preparing the way before me, always blessing me, always giving me help, peace, and comfort through the Spirit. On my mission I learned that the Atonement is real. I watched people change daily. I watched myself change daily. I know now that nothing we do is done by our own strength. It comes from our loving Savior's atoning sacrifice, and to Him I will be forever grateful. Words cannot describe the love I have in my heart for these people, and I know it is not love that comes from me, but a love that comes through the Savior. I can't seem to find any other word to express what I feel but gratitude. I am grateful for the people I have met. I am grateful for the miracles I saw. And I am grateful to be a missionary. I am so grateful to be a missionary. 

Alright, so I'm just going to go ahead and cry now. That was my mission! I have enjoyed every single moment. It's hard to believe it's almost over. I just wanted to express my gratitude to everyone who helped me through the past 18 months. I love you all to the moon and back, and I have felt your prayers and your loving concern, no matter how far away you may be. Thank you, thank you, thank you for making this season of my life AMAZING! 

And last but certainly not least, I just wanted to write my last BIRTHDAY SHOUT OUT! This one goes to the one and only PAPA Q. BEAR! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, my sweeeeeeet Daddy! I just wanted to take the time and let the world know how much I looooooooooooooove you! Thank you for being 100 percent supportive of me during my absence. You are the world's best. A spiritual giant! A poetic soul. A wise wizard. A witty wonder. A sharp sasquatch. A bright beam. Quite simply, I love you to pieces and I hope you have the world's best birthday! I will be seeing you VERY soon, my dear daddy. I hope I qualify as the world's greatest birthday present! Save me some blueberry pie. DON'T eat it in my honor. I'm coming back for it. Don't celebrate too much without me! I'll see you in a few! Smooooooch!

Aaaaaand this is officially the longest letter ever. I hope you have enjoyed my words of wisdom. Take care of yourselves over the next few days! I love you all forever and am eager as a beaver to see you ALL! And it better be all of you. Friends, family, blog stalkers, lovers. You ALL better be at my triumphant homecoming. Love yous forever! Misssssss you! But definitely not for long. 


Soeur Cutler

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sista Sista

Hey, cuties! How are you all doing?! I feel like you're all so close and yet so far. Just a couple more weeks and I'll be seeing you! It's weird to think that I'm definitely on the final stretch. Younger missionaries have this love of reminding me that I'm about to go home. I remember when I used to do that to departing missionaries. Man, now I feel like a jerk! They don't realize how awful it is to ask an old sista what music she's going to listen to get back or the first movie she's going to watch. Enough is enough! I'm just trying to enjoy the moment here! Well, in any case, get that Frozen movie in the DVD player and blast me some Joni Mitchell and the Sounds! I have my trunky moments.

This week was fabulous! We had a lot of fun events and sweet moments. This week we did two exchanges. Sister Berry and I served our last split together, and it was ohhhh so much fun. We had a very Russian themed day. We finally were able to take one of the Ukrainian members of our ward to Marina's house! They just talked and talked and talked in a language that for the life of me I will never be able to understand. It went incredibly well, and it was super helpful to have someone who knew how to explain gospel terms in Russian. The night before when we were confirming our appointment with Marina, she told us she had this strange dream that a little girl was going to come to her house and surprise her. She took that to mean that it must have been her subconscious preparing her for Sister Tulieva to come. Well, that morning we were confirming the appointment with Sister Tulieva, and she asked if she could bring her little six year old daughter. Surprise! We had no knowledge of this! Marina is totally psychic, and all this event did was confirm to her her inner-spiritual-energy-universe-readingness. Ha ha. It was an amazing visit though! She shared with Sister Tulieva that ever since Sister Orozco and I met her she has had the spirit back in her life, that she has something to live for and that her whole world is filled with color and happiness again. Now all she needs to do is come to church and see that she has a whole family of spiritual people waiting for her!

On Wednesday we taught the Law of Chastity to our returning member Karen, which is always a great experience. She has taught me a lot about how to scare away men with baseball bats and vicious verbal threats. Ha ha. She really has the best stories. I'm going to miss this woman TERRIBLY when I have to leave this place. Well, I'll miss everyone terribly, but especially her.

On Thursday I went to the east end of Montreal on the opposite end of the green line for exchanges! I flirt-contacted this beautiful man named Remy on the metros, and it saddened me to realize that I have just one more time to go into the metros and flirt to convert. I've got to make this last one count! I love talking with people in the metros. You meet the most fascinating people and have the funniest encounters. :( No more Muslim men giving me their numbers. Not sure how I'm going to feel about losing that added boost to my self-esteem. Anyway, exchanges were great! Sister Ferguson and I taught the most AMAZING golden investigator I have ever met my whole mission. His name is Peter and he is determined to become a Mormon. He just looks at us and says, "I'm going to do everything in my power to become a Mormon. I want to be with you people." Aaah! He was so cool. He asked us if there were any single Mormon moms that could use a husband... and then it got awkward. Ha ha but he is so golden. I'm super glad I had the chance to meet him. We also taught their recent convert Bryan, who is literally the coolest guy ever. He played "Let it Be" for us on his guitar, and my oh my. This man sings like an angel. He plays the guitar in the metro for a living! How cool is that? I had a super fun, exciting, fulfilling day filled with super cool people.

This Saturday we got to go to Laval for a baptism! One of Sister Orozco's investigators from back in the day got baptized, so we got to go on a little road trip with the Cornwall sisters! It was a beautiful day and a beautiful baptism. She was the niece of one of Sister Orozco's AMAZING converts. It was fun to meet all of the people that Sister Orozco blessed in Laval, but it made me super jealous that I wouldn't get to return to Quebec City before the end of my mission. :( After the baptism I was standing in a circle of four elders just chatting, and all of the sisters made fun of me because they think I'm preparing for when I have to go back home and flirt with all of these guys. They're just like, "Daaaaaang! Sister Cutler! You can't wait two more weeks to flirt with all of these men?!" And I literally wanted to singe all of their eyebrows off with the fierceness of my death glare. I can't help it that all the elders love me! It's not my fault! Ha ha. If only you all heard what my conversations were like with said elders, you would know that all I know how to talk about now is the gospel and spreading the good word. Lol. The Cornwall sisters stayed for a sleepover, we played some ridiculous future-telling card game that in my opinion is like Mormon-marriage tarot card reading, and then we went to bed waaaaaay too late. But it was such a fun week! I'm cherishing every blessed moment out here. I literally cannot believe that I'll be seeing everyone back home in about two weeks. Life is flying by!

Alright. Now. Before I forget, there was another special event that happened last week..... HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the most beautiful, sensational, inspiring, hilarious, hypnotic, mysterious, sultry, fabulous, wonderful best friend in the world! Happy Birthday to my sweet Vanessa Hope! I hope it was a magnificent day, and I hope you did your 21st right!!!!!!! Rain check on all the REAL partying though, because I need to be there!!! Just wanted to let the world know how much I love and adore this girl. We made cupcakes for her birthday and gave them to a beautiful Brazilian man in our ward haha. I thought she would like that. Anyway, Happy, Happy, Happy Birthday, my lover! I miss you terribly! But not for long. :)

Well, that was the week that was! I hope you all had a wonderful week and that you're still enjoying your beautiful summer months. Pray for me! I'm still not home yet and I still need your love! Ha ha. I miss you all more than I can bear. The closer I get to coming home the farther away it seems. No bueno. Can't wait to be back in your arms! But until then, I love you all to the moon and back! Bisou bisou! BYE!


Soeur Cutler

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Outlaw Sister

Hello, beautiful family and friends! Do you miss me? You better all be going CRAZY with anticipation that I'm coming home so soon! News flash... my mom just informed me that I'm giving my homecoming talk on August 10th, so y'all BETTER be there! I have no idea what time though... ask my mom. But yes, make sure you're at MY homecoming and no one else's. That's all I have to say. 

Well, this week was glorious! Nothing overwhelming or crazy happened, which was a nice break for my psyche. I'll tell you what. This mission has been one big roller coaster! But obviously I have loved every single dang minute of it. SERIOUSLY. I have no idea what I'm going to do with myself when it's over. NO idea. Uh.... lock myself in my room for a few days and cry? Facebook stalk everyone? Let my eyebrows grow back (I did it again....) Hm. We'll see what becomes of me. I can already feel the awkward RMness oozing from me, and I haven't even set foot in the airport yet. Just love the awkwardness away, okay? I'm not ready for this!

Which is why I still have a little more than three weeks left.... thank heavens! So this week was GREAT! What to say? Well, I went on exchanges with Sister Jordan again. We had a blast, talking talking talking till the break of dawn and hearing disturbing stories about Warren Jeffs. Ha ha. Our returning member Karen came across a movie about Warren Jeffs this week and thinks that he looks IDENTICAL to our ward mission leader. We then spent the next hour talking about the "Outlaw Prophet" and his uncanny similarity to the brother in our ward. We went to his house on Tuesday and told him, and guess what... he looks nothing like him. Ha ha. Okay, maybe a little. Anyway, that was the story of exchanges. Good times.

On Friday we had a Relief Society activity, and our less active member that I've been working with my ENTIRE time in LaSalle FINALLY set foot in the chapel since I got here! It was truly a miracle. She also came to a baptism on Saturday and then to church on Sunday! I prayed that I would be able to see her at church just once before I left, and I ended up seeing her there three times in a row! Blessings! The activity was a riot though. We ran around the chapel like a bunch of hooligans playing some sort of scavenger hunt game, all the sisters throwing elbows and relief society arms at each other to get to the prize. Hahaha. It was one great mess. I got a nasty cut on my leg during all of the mayhem. I learned that adults are no worse than children when it comes to that competitive spirit.

On Saturday there were three baptisms in our ward. One was of the sweetest 8 year old girl and then two boys that are the sons of one of the recent converts in LaSalle. It was such a special day! I slaved in the kitchen preparing wings and chicken nuggets and then I sang a special musical number with the former Sister May. It was heavenly! The son-in-law of our investigator bore his testimony while the kids were changing into dry clothes, and we were all bawling our eyes out, especially his mother-in-law. It has been amazing to watch her grow and literally shine as she has been living and learning about the gospel. It just reaffirmed to me that the gospel truly changes lives, that the power of the atonement is real, and that God has a plan for each of us. This woman is remarkable. Teaching her has truly been one of the greatest blessings of my mission. 

Today we went bowling with a bunch of missionaries in the Riv Sud. Yeah... definitely not my area... but we were with the two sisters in our district, so that's technically allowed. Meh. What are they going to do? Send me home? ;) Ha ha. It was super fun! I got four strikes! Not in a row though. But still. Be proud! It just got me excited for all of the bowling I'm going to be doing on all of those dates that I know are just waiting for me when I get back. Ha ha kidding. Dates=0. You're about to see how truly awkward I am. At the baptism on Saturday this woman not of our faith was trying to set me up with Elder C, my district leader. She kept walking over to him and telling him that he needs to keep his eye out for me and no one else. Ugh... hmmm... yeah. As much as I love being a cougar, I would prefer it if these elders didn't get any ideas. 

Well, that's the week that was. I really honestly don't know what to say because I'm saving all of my good stories for when I get home. And trust me, there will be plenty. But until then, have a beautiful, glorious, magnificent summer week! I love you all bundles! And I miss everyone quite terribly. It's strange. The closer I get to seeing you all, the more I miss you! Hang in there! I'm keeping my eye single to the glory for the next few weeks! Smooches and hugs!



Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Botanical Babes

Family Reunion
June 30, 2014

Hola, mamacitas! How are my little angels doing? I miss the heck out
of y'all! What's new? Are you going to light up the 4th of July
without me? Boooo! Wish I could be there. :( Let freedom ring loud
enough for me to hear it all the way up here in maple country! And
we'll ALL celebrate later when I roll off that plane in my
star-spangled glory! Aaaah. It's hard to be a girl without a country.
The 4th in a country that doesn't celebrate America just isn't the
same. Believe it or not, Canada actually isn't the 51st state like
many 'muricans suppose. So while you're eating hot dogs and lighting
fireworks on the 4th I will have already celebrated Canada Day on the
1st. YOCO! (You're Only Canadian Once.) Or I guess YOQO would be more
accurate given my present circumstances. I often forget I'm in Canada.
Anyway, all of this just to say, "HAPPY 4th of JULY" to you all! I'm
so proud of MY heritage. :)

Hmmmm... the week that was. This was another one of those burdensome
weeks, but we had lots of fun. Comme d'habitude. The reason this
letter is entitled Family Reunion is not to say that I'm trunky or
that I ran into any family members up here in the Great White North.
No, I am referring to my state as a mission mother. This Wednesday we
had a big fat transfer, and what do you know? ALL of my babies, all
FIVE of my babies that I trained, were at the transfer! It was
GLORIOUS! And yes, I did get a posterity photo. Not all of my
grandchildren and great-grandchildren were there, but still. I felt so
fulfilled! The best part of all is that my baby Sister Guevara is now
in my district! Halleluja! Mama is going to die happy. The transfer,
although happy, was also the saddest day of my life. I had to watch
some of my favorite elders go HOME! And SISTERS too! Oh my gosh... it
was awful! There was one sister that was leaving that actually got to
the field a week after I did. So that was WEIRD. Guess that means I'm
next or something. Meh... don't want to think about it. You all on the
other hand better start partying it up and get ready for my glorious
return when I roll home on my Canadian tire. Whooo!

On Friday we had mission leadership council, which always brings a
smile to my face. Mostly because we get to eat pizza at the end. But
still, it was such a fun DAY! When you're a missionary and you're
alone with your companion 24/7, it's always a special treat when you
get to interact with a gang of missionaries. Then on Saturday we had a
meeting with missionary leaders and ward mission leaders from the
stake. The thing that got me to it was the pancake breakfast they held
for us in the morning. It was fun though because I got to see one of
my old investigators from Montreal ward who is now a ward missionary!
I love going back to my old haunt. It's fascinating to see how much
growth has happened in just one year after leaving.

We also ate a ridiculous amount of food this weekend. It was my
mission mama's birthday (Sister Morales), but we also had a dinner
appointment with another family in the ward, and so I hopped from
pancake breakfast, to cupcakes with my favorite New Zealander Sister
Ross, to THANKSGIVING dinner with the Dupont family, to BIRTHDAY
Chinese dinner with the Morales family. We. Wanted. To. DIE! I realize
that I talk a lot about food in my letters... but that's kind of what
my life revolves around as a North American missionary. At least take
comfort in the fact that we definitely do not starve. It does however
mean that six weeks to sexy is out the window, so I hope you will
recognize me when I get back. Meh. We'll see.

Alright, so that's the week that was! Sorry I don't have too many
interesting things to say. It was a calmer week as far as Juan
Martinez is concerned. I love you all SOOOOOOO much though! Smooches
and loves for all. Have a fabulous 4th! Cause baby you're a firework!
Come on, let your colors burst! Make em' go.... well, you know the




Botanical Babes
July 7, 2014

Why, hello! :) How are you, my lovely, lovely bunch? How was the grand 4th of July celebration? I hope you all had a fantastic week! I certainly did. Just to get the trunky fever out of the way now, I'll let you all know that I'm coming home in exactly ONE MONTH! GET EXCITED! GET READY! You're about to see the new and improved, softer (fluffier) around the edges Sylvia! I'm going to give it my ALL this month! I love the mission too much to waste a single minute of it. 

So the week that was... CRAY CRAY! Ha ha. But really. So many awesome things happened that I don't even know where to begin. First of all, we have an AMAZING new investigator! She is the mother of one of the members of our ward, and she is seriously the most incredible person I have ever met. We have had the most spiritual, tearful, loving, happy lessons I have ever taught on my mission. I feel so blessed to work with her and am excited to watch her progress. She is doing amazing. Her daughter was telling us how she would fast every single fast Sunday of her mission that her mom would start listening to the missionaries, and now she is FINALLY taking the discussions! It has been a miracle, and I'm so happy to be a part of it. 

Alright, who's ready for a crazy story? Yes, you guessed right. It happened at the Sri Lankan family's home. Where else? So here's what happened. The father of the Sri Lankan family wanted to have us and the Montreal West sisters (their original missionaries who began teaching them) over for his birthday, my birthday (early celebration) and the 4th of July. So we take the Montreal West sisters and the former Sister May, now Cherise, over to their house after our Zone Training Meeting. We hadn't eaten since like 7, and it was now 2 pm by that point. SOOOO HUNGRY. We go in thinking we're about to have a Sri Lankan feast. Well, we get there and the daughter tells us that her dad is out and that he's drunk. :( So sad. This is the second time we've heard of this. The mom is still so nice though, but doesn't speak any English whatsoever, so she brings us out some birthday cake and what appeared to be orange juice. We finish our birthday cake and Sister Orozco goes for her orange juice. Then Sister May. Both of them just look at each other and want to throw up. They're just sitting there laughing and I'm like, "Give me my dang orange juice!" So they did. I take a sip... tp tp tp... hmmmm... Yeah, it was DEFINITELY not orange juice. Guess who broke the Word of Wisdom for the first time ever? Ha ha. And as a missionary! Whooooo! So yeah, in case you were wondering, I definitely partied HARD this 4th of July. Turns out we were drinking a nice blend of OJ and alcohol. The best part was that I kept falling off of the couch I was sitting on, so it totally looked like I was drunk. Don't worry, I literally took one sip before wanting to die from how awful it tasted.

After our lesson we headed over to meet our potential Ed by the river. We brought Sister May with us because we had a feeling he thought it was a date. I'll admit I felt like I was investidating ALL over again when I started that lesson, but it ended up being one of the most beautiful, spiritual lessons I've ever taught. Ed is very soulful and very thoughtful. He asked a lot of great questions and philosophized with us a ton, but I was so ready for whatever he threw at me. We weren't sure what he thought of the whole experience... two hott girls meeting him on the street one week and then preaching to him the next.... but he accepted a Book of Mormon! And he's meeting with us again. :) So that was cool!

In other news... we had a FABULOUS lesson with our investigator Marina this week. Marina is a very soulful person, so she wanted to be taught the Plan of Salvation out in nature. On Saturday she took us to the Botanical Gardens of Montreal for our lesson, and it was UNREAL! Oh my. Oh my oh my oh my. Such a BEAUTIFUL DAY! One of the most perfect days of my mission. I seriously get to teach the most amazing people out here. She is very spiritually in tune, and being in the gardens talking about creation was just one of the most beautiful experiences ever. I'm sending pictures. :)

Anyway, that was my week! I hope you all had a fabulous time without me this summer holiday season! I love you all to the heavens and back and will be seeing you SHORTLY! Take good care of yourselves. Eat lots of shaved ice! Think of me often. Miss me terribly. I LOVE YOU ALL!



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Claudia Is Back

Hello, dear ones! How is my fabulous group of loved ones back home
doing? Can I just say that I really just need to SEE you all already?
My goodness. Time is hastening. I'm hastening my butt into gear as
well because six weeks to sexy is going to be over before I even have
time to mentally prepare for it! Today we went on a beautiful morning
run along the St. Lawrence (St-Laurent) river. It was breathtaking!
It's definitely motivation to get me out to run more often, but...
something about yoga and not leaving my house at 6:30 in the morning
is just SO tempting. It's game time though. The Relief Society has
somehow gotten a hold of my arms and I'm a jiggly mess. No more
excuses. Nike... JUST DO IT!

Okay, so this week was just as stressful as all get out. Not to
complain, but yeah. I was really stressed. On Tuesday we did EXCHANGES
with the dear sisters of Montreal South. I LOVE going on exchanges
with Sister Jordan because we have scarily similar tastes, so the
majority of the split is spent jabbering away till the cows come home.
And that is EXACTLY what we did. We stayed up WAAAAAY too late talking
about our fears of dating and men and being married for eternity. She
has this plan that she's going to apostatize and start a Mormon
nunnery, and I am SO in. It's just terrifying to think that one day
very soon I'm going to have to make eye contact with boys my age and
give them friendly hugs instead of handshakes. Hm. So we cried over
that for several hours until finally drifting off to sleep. The next
day we worked in the mission office together and I shredded paper for
literally four hours straight. Put that on my job resume! I'm a pro

Then on Wednesday we had a combined birthday party after district
meeting for Sister Orozco, Elder Lanning, and Elder Hastings. Everyone
had birthdays back to back, which meant that we all had to eat Tim
Horton's muffins, Krispy Kreme donuts, and chocolate chip cookies in
one sitting. "YUMMY!" said my stomach an hour later... NOT. It was fun
to be with the best district in the world one last time. We took a boy
band picture together that I WILL be sending home. We're all too
good-looking for words. It's just something you'll all have to gaze
at. Afterward we went and helped our ward mission leader with his
garden, which is literally my new favorite hobby. I love gardening!
Mom! I'm going to weed the garden for you and plant for you EVERY DAY!
I promise! Maybe I shouldn't announce this publicly in case I change
my mind later...Intheeevening we went and had dinner with the Bishop
and his family, my favorite Londoner family EVER. Their daughter
Sister May is coming home this transfer, and I have no doubt in my
mind that she is going to become our third companion for the rest of
the summer. I certainly hope so! Anyway, the Bishop is basically a
British-Jamaican version of Dad. It's uncanny. Haha. Every time I see
him I just miss my pops.

On Thursday it was back to exchanges, this time in my old area of
Montreal West! Heavennnn! I absolutely ADORE going back there. I knew
my way around perfectly, which made me excited for the day that I get
to take family or friends or whoever wants to come back  with me on a
grand tour of Montreal. And you'll never BELIEVE who I got to see...
eh hem... does anyone remember the adventures of Claudia and Haseem?
Well, in case you don't remember, Claudia is this insane less active
that I absolutely love to death that tells the most... interesting
stories. Last year when I was in Montreal she had this imagined love
affair going on with her helper, a man more than half her age named
Haseem. Watching all of it unfold was literally the creepiest/most
delightful experience of my life. I can't wait till I'm a novelist and
I can write my own version of their story. Anyway, this woman loves
me. And on Thursday I got to go back and see her!!! Oh, how I
REJOICED! Nothing has changed. NOTHING has changed. Except for the
fact that Haseem busted out of there and she is now able to walk
around, whereas before she was supposedly on her death bed. We walked
arm and arm for a mile to the grocery store, and she recounted the
same stories that I had so dearly longed to hear this past year. Ha
ha. The best moment of my life, even if my arms were tired and sweaty
from being chained to her for an hour. It was nice to know that she
missed me and talked about me often while I was gone. I guess I made
an impact in someone's life since I've been out here? That was
encouraging! THEN the day just got even better. After Claudia Sister
Canady and I jetted over to see the DeSerres family (literally my
FAVORITE family ever) and spend some time with them. I honestly feel
like I never even left Montreal! Except for the fact that their
daughter talksnow, whereas before she would just lie on her adorable
belly and look like a cute little angel. Ah! Time flies! I don't like
it! But it was a joy to be with them. I also called my old
investigator Vince just for fun. Ha ha. He was nice, but he says he
wants to go to the Catholic church because they aren't as strict as us
Mormons. Lol. He invited me out for coffee and then he said, "But oh
wait, you don't drink coffee." And laughed his head off! Grrrr... haha
it was funny, I wasn't offended. I don't get offended as easily as I
used to. You're all about to see a new me! Anyway, it was a super fun
day. I'm glad I had the chance to go back and see some of the people I

By the time Friday rolled around Sister Orozco and I had a million
stressful things happen, so we decided to consult OUR sister training
leader, a little someone named Tim Horton. Ha ha. We binged on muffins
and then took a peaceful walk by the river, because honestly, we were
just exhausted and emotionally drained. Whilst destressing though we
actually met a SUPER cool potential named Ed. He was like a Canadian
version of Dan Sanberg. He was on his way to his writing spot where he
is currently in the process of writing a screenplay. He's seriously
awesome. I'm sure now he's going to include a part about two beautiful
sister missionaries crossing his path. After our chat with Ed we took
some fun pics and just relaxed from a ridiculously stressful week.
That evening we were BLESSED to have the opportunity to meet with our
new friend Marina! We stayed there for... well... awhile... and she
told us her life story about living in Israel. She is honestly the
coolest person I have ever met on my mission, if not my LIFE. She is
super interested in our message and is now reading the Book of Mormon.
We'll let you know how that goes. I just love having these
opportunities to meet fascinating people 24/7.

THEN on Saturday we went out with the infamous Cedric of Montreal to a
birthday lunch for Sister Orozco and another sister in the ward.
Cedric refers to me as Sister Feminist and is always trying to bate
me. I honestly can't explain this man to you all, but if you served in
the Canada Montreal Mission and don't know who Cedric is, well, then
you're a nobody. ;) Ha ha. So.... there was that. Then we had our
transfer calls.... and.... DRUM ROLL.... I'm DYING in LaSalle! With
Sister Orozco! I could not be happier. I've been herefor SIX months. I
still can't believe it. My time in Quebec seemed sooooo much longer,
but both will end up being the same. This ward is like my family now,
so I will be devastated when I have to leave. But the good news is
that I'm being transferred into the PV 4th ward of Provo, which is BY
FAR the best ward in the Provo, UT mission. So I can't complain!
Truly, I can't. I'm excited to see everyone for the two weeks that
I'll be there until they kick me out and send me to YSA. As IF. I
don't have time to be a young single adult.

Alright, so that was basically the week that was. Sorry to flood you
all with tons of meaningless information. I rarely have time to write
in my journal at night so I just document everything here. Deal with
it! I hope you're all doing remarkably well. I know you are all
enjoying your summer and the privilege you have to go swimming when it
gets hot, so take a dive in the pool in my hono(u)r! I love you all to
the moon and the stars and the heavens! See you shortly. :)


Fiesta and Father's Day

Hello, lovelies! Before I do ANYTHING else, let me just say...


To all of my favorite father figures in my life, but most importantly to....

I just want the world to know that my DAD is the VERY best one out there. THE VERY BEST! Pops, I hope you know just how much I love and adore you. Thank you for being my example and my light. Thank you for being the funniest person alive and charming me to death with your intelligent, unique sense of humor. I love you forever and cannot WAIT to get my papa bear hug from you in just a few more weeks. Thank you for your wisdom and for your good soul. I am one blessed daughter. :) Happy Fathers Day!

So the week that was.... Sister Orozco's birthday! We had a good, good time. To be honest, it was just a crazy week. We were entirely depleted of energy by Sunday, but we had some positive experiences and happy times. Just TIRED as all get out! On Tuesday we went and did a blitz with some sisters in their area and went around finding people. It was fun! I went up to this incredibly handsome man sitting in the shade outside the hospital. He was on his break, which in my opinion is the perfect time for people to chat with missionaries. He was SO cool. And dreamy. And super atheist. But, like the majority of atheists that I've preached to out here, he was incredibly kind to us. The best part of all was that the next lady we talked to patted us on the shoulder before we could even speak and said, "Um, no thank you. I'm Catholic." AND TURNED AROUND AND WALKED AWAY! Ahhhh.... love me them true Christians. ;)

On Thursday we had Sister Rios and Sister Gonzalez come in to spend the night before zone conference the next day. SLEEPOVER!!! We stayed up WAAAAAAAAY too late... (shhhhh...). 10:31...ish? ;) Sure, we'll leave it at that. It was so nice to have my chicas over and be able to chat and laugh and have a good time. Missions are a non-stop party, in my opinion.

On Friday we had zone conference! My last one, too! :( Sister Orozco and I gave a training on finding people, and how we need to talk WITH people rather than TO them. FANCY THAT! In our mission we used to go around blurting out the name of the church as fast as we could so that we could have fifty contacts a day, and then usually people would run away and not want to talk to us. Well, I never liked being pushy with my beliefs, so I always felt like a bad missionary when I would chat people up and get to know them BEFORE bringing up what I was doing here. WHAT?! The result was that a lot of missionaries are afraid of talking with people because they think they need to teach them the restoration in five minutes and be weird. Forget that! So President Patrick had us give a training about our purpose as missionaries, and how everyone is a child of God, and how we need to discern how to talk with people instead of just showing up and yapping at them. It was an AMAZING training. Yes, I'm bragging, but I think it helped a lot of missionaries see that it's okay to... well, be yourself? There was this moment in our training where we had everyone take off their badge and look at it. Everyone was bawling! Well, many were bawling. But me especially. I can't tell you how much it means to me to wear that badge. When I have to take it off for good I don't know what I'm going to do with myself. Gaaahhh. TRUNKY! Sister missions should be longer. Anyway, I digress. During our training we also did a role play about how to talk with people rather than to them. I was the person being contacted, and somehow I ended up acting out my true Sylvia, non-missionary self throughout the whole thing. It was interesting to see how Sylvia would react to missionaries. When they approached me I was jamming to Firework by Katy Perry (is that song even cool anymore?), and I started ranting to them about my Ophelia obsession, mostly just confusing everyone, but it was fun. Then those sly sister missionaries asked me for my digits after they had buttered me up, and I told them that my number was 867-5309. President Patrick was crying he was laughing so hard! El oh el. The role play was supposed to be spiritual, but I pretty much turned it into the Sylvia Show. Whoops. Then when I told the sisters that my name was Sylvia, the whole crowd of missionaries gasped. Indeed, I had been impersonating myself the entire time! It felt so good to be me!!!  Ha ha not sure where I was going with that story, but it was one of my greatest mission moments. The greatest/saddest moment of all though was when I got up at the end of the zone conference to bear my final testimony. In our mission its a tradition that the missionaries who are going home bear their testimony at their last zone conference. It was bittersweet to say the least, and I never, EVER thought that moment would come. Ugh. It really put things into perspective for me. It was special because our zone conference was held in Montreal ward's chapel, where I bore my first testimony as a missionary over a year ago on a cold, Canadian winter's day in February. It was heart-warming and heart-wrenching to see how far that frightened little girl had come, the experiences I had been blessed with, and how much I'd grown since that first Sunday in the mission field. Wow, I'm getting emotional just thinking about it. I stood up there and cried and cried. I am amazed at what has become of my testimony because of serving a mission. When I bore testimony that I know Christ lives, I felt for the first time just how true and meaningful those words were to me. Truly, it was a day and an experience I will never forget. 

After seven hours of zone conference we got roped into this super complicated move. The ward kind of dropped the ball about getting people to come help this woman move from her apartment, so us and the elders got stuck in a very complicated, stressful situation. No one from the ward came to help! We were dying! And crying! So I had to put on my big girl pants and call up leaders and ask for help because the elders were too afraid. Surprise! No one else came to help, so I ended up arranging all of the moving details and getting that dang thing underway myself. I'm invincible! And a power. It was fun to hang out with the elders, but I was pretty mad that the situation got dumped on the missionaries. We had to cancel teaching appointments and everything! Grrrr. Whatever, I'm over it. We were super blessed afterward though to have a lesson with one of our investigators, and it went exceptionally well. She is so cool! We went to her beautiful home and listened to the rain outside while discussing the gospel. My kind of Friday night! It all turned out well, but I can tell you that that day was one of the most stressful days of my mission. 

THEN on Saturday it was Sister Orozco's BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!! What a special treat that was. I have been her companion on BOTH of her birthdays. Lucky her! Ha ha. It was a super great day. We didn't go knocking on her birthday like we did last year. ;) The whole ward rolled out the red carpet and tons of people invited us over to celebrate! It was totally fun. We did some Zumba in the morning and all of the Latinas were making fun of me because I can't move my hips. What e're! I can't help it that I'm CLASSICALLY TRAINED! It was super fun though. We didn't have time to shower because of all of the birthday plans, so we walked around like sweaty, sexy beasts the entire day. Our sweet, kind, ADORABLE Sri Lankan family that I talked about last week invited us over for lunch! Gosh, the two little girls in that family are the sweetest. And Sri Lankan food is DIVINE! So there we are enjoying a nice, lovely visit with this cute family, when, just as we're about to open up the Book of Mormon to share a spiritual thought, IN WALK THE TWO SRI LANKAN BIBLE BASHERS! What are two young sista sistas supposed to do?! I could not BELIEVE what was happening! Haha. So I handed Sister Orozco my Bible and she shared her favorite Bible scripture instead. She talked about authority, but I think the message was lost on them. The women were so overjoyed by our Bible message though that one of them wanted to give Sister Orozco a birthday prayer. She says, "I give you birthday prayer now." And Sister Orozco's like, "Okay!" So we all are about to kneel, and she says, "Stay where you are!" And walks over and lays her hand upon her head and gives her a blessing in Sri Lankan! Ha ha ha. I was able to pick out, "Shabatneee humuna humna namasta HALLELUJAH OROZCO! HALLELUJAH CUTLER!" or something like that. Ha ha. SO funny. The sweet little girls also gave her a little statue of the Virgin Mary for her birthday present, which is now proudly displayed in our kitchen window for idol worship. Uh oh. Ha ha. It was a super crazy experience, but we loved every dang minute of it. After boppping around from house to house that day we ended our night in the East end of Montreal because one of the sister missionaries was sick. East end of Montreal = Italians. Italians had just won in the World Cup. Can you say PANDEMONIUM?!?!? We almost DIED! World Cup in Montreal is quite possibly the BEST thing ever because of the melange of cultures. Every single time there's a game sirens are going off and people are going crazy, depending on which neighborhood you're in. I can't get enough of this place! Pray that I stay safe during the World Cup, please. :)

Alright, so that's the week that was. There were a million other things that happened but this letter is getting ridiculously long and I'm sure you're all bored. I'm just having such a great time! What can I say? Gotta make every moment count! Well, the biggest news of all is that I love you all and miss you TERRIBLY. Hold on tight, spider monkeys! You'll be seeing me soon enough. Until then, love yous forever and ever. Have a fabulous summer week! Smooooch!


Sister Syl