Saturday, January 26, 2013


Our trip across the continent took 4+ days through freezing weather.  Fortunately the roads were clear and the sky was generally clear.  But as soon as we headed NE along I-90 from Cleveland to Erie, PA, the weather changed and snow started to fall.  As we made our way, we noticed that the toll way in the opposite direction was full of jack-knifed trucks and many cars.  The road on that side was full of snow and very slick.  But on our side, it was free of snow and the road was clear.  We felt we were being watched.

After staying the night in Erie, we finally made it to the mission office about 4 pm on the 24th where we were greeted warmly.  Then the mission staff took us all out to dinner.  We were so tired we hardly ate.

Because our apartment has not been vacated yet, we are staying in the mission home with President & Sister Worthlin.  It is a large 4-bedroom home with a large basement.  Pres. Worthlin told us that it is not their home, but the Church’s home.  We have a bedroom to ourselves, but it is not the same as being in our own apartment.

Friday (25th) was supposed to be our first full day for our orientation at the office.  But during the night, Sharon became very sick with stomach cramps and was in no condition to get out of bed.  I went to the office that morning alone and lasted until just after lunch and I started vomiting. So I went back to the house and crawled into bed with her. Throughout the night we were both going to the bathroom and either sitting or bending over the toilet.  Finally, I got out of bed and kindly asked the President if he would give us a Priesthood Blessing.  We were both lying in bed while the blessing was given.  We were so grateful that we weren’t stuck in a hotel somewhere alone.

While lying in bed suffering and wondering why now at the very start of our service we were in so much pain, I thought of an earlier missionary. (as I relate this story, please do not think that we have any right to compare ourselves to this missionary…the story only was on my mind all night). I remembered when Brigham Young was called to go with some of the twelve to either the eastern states or Britain.  He had delayed his journey many weeks trying to get his affairs in order for his wife and kids.  Finally, they could wait no longer.  Brigham was so sick that they had to carry him to the wagon and put him on a mattress.  His wife was pregnant and the kids were also sick.  He must have been heart-sick leaving them in that condition.  And as they were leaving, he said he couldn’t let them see him lying down so sick, so he got up and waved and shouted…Hosanna!!!

What faith he had to put his whole family in the hands of the Lord and trust that they would be taken care of and that his own health would improve to enable him to proceed on his mission.

We, like Brigham, must put our trust in the Lord….as we have told Debbie many times….this too will pass.

Today, Mom got up around 10 am and I finally made it to the shower at about 4 pm.  Still have many aches and pains, but we are not heaving.
We love you all and can feel your prayers.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

We had a very nice, restful weekend with Jeff and Kristi and girls.  We needed it and are enjoying our trip east.  We have been listening to the Gerald Lund book,"Fishers of Men", the first of the three volume of The Kingdom of the Crown series.  It is a fictional story set in the time of Christ.  We have enjoyed it.

I need to write about a couple of experiences we had on Sunday.  Dad sat next to a young boy, eleven years old, who had Downs Syndrome.  Dad held the song book for him to help the young boy sing.  The rest hymn was "I am a Child of God."  Although all the words were not clear, Jordan sang with gusto.  People around us had tears running down their cheeks, and it was very moving for us as well.  After the song, Jordan leaned into Dad and Dad put his arm around him and they sat like that for the rest of the meeting.  Dad was quite moved and felt a very strong spirit from this boy.  Then after the meetings Dad was standing in the lobby.  Jordan saw him and came up to Dad to show him the picture he had drawn in Primary.  Such a tender moment for Dad.

Their ward has a program in place where the youth divide into pairs, go to member's homes for dinner and then give a short message about "Preach My Gospel," give the challenge, and get a commitment for the members to read the manual during the next four months.  They then have a prayer.  Annie Kate went out with a companion on Sunday as well and had a great experience.  One of our "missionaries" was Conner Folkman -- a great young man, the senior companion and a zone leader. The junior companion was the son of an elder Scott served with in Australia (or was in the MTC with him).   I was really impressed -- the church needs missionaries that are well prepared.

We enjoyed time with Greg and Trista and girls.  They are a great family and the Cutler girls love their Francis cousins.  Nice to have family near.

One of our stops on Monday was a Pony Express Station.  I wanted to see what the station looked like because I had a great grandfather and a great great grandfather who were pony express riders.  I wanted to see what a station looked like.  I am not sure of the exact routes they rode, but know at one time they did ride through Nevada -- Egan Valley in Nevada near Elko, and an Egan Station, named after them -- just a little family history info.  

For now (Wednesday) we are concentrating on avoiding storms and getting to Utica.  We know that the lake effect snow has resulted in at least a 3 feet accumulation of snow in Syracuse, but we will keep our eyes on the weather.

Love to all.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Done with the MTC

We finished our training at the MTC today.  This has been an experience I will never forget.  We have met other senior missionaries, and it has been fun to make new friends.  Our classes and training have been fantastic.  Last week our training was based on the "Preach My Gospel" manual.  The theme of the manual is the purpose of missionaries:  "Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end".  Every lesson led to this theme -- the manual is incredible.  This week we were receiving our training for working in the mission office.  Lots of different things, and we feel a little overwhelmed by it all.  Today's lesson was about the missionary vehicle guidelines, and how the missions MUST stay anchored to the approved program.  Future missionaries really have no idea as to how their driving record will determine whether they are allowed to be a driver on their missions.  They have to give a complete accounting of tickets, accidents, etc. etc. etc.  All basically comes down to attitude, obedience and accountability.  Driving privileges can be taken away because of one silly moment when the missionary has no idea someone might see the actions.  The cars belong to the church, and there is a huge investment of money in the missionary car program.
Tuesday night Elder Jeffrey R. Holland spoke at the MTC devotional.  His talk was incredible, and the MTC choir was wonderful.  They sang the opening song "Precious Savior, Dear Redeemer"  Beautiful!!!.  I want to remember some of his thoughts, so I will write some random thoughts again:
  • This is the dispensation when the Son of God will come in His glory...It will not fail. 
  • An inactive returned missionary is not acceptable.  We as missionaries MUST be converted.  He said that he would not be able to contain himself if he met an inactive elder in a dark alley.
  • If it is HIS work we have to do it HIS way.  Obedience is imperative.
  • We need to preach the gospel with power and great authority.  Strive to be faithful and teach by the spirit.
  • GO AND ASTONISH PEOPLE!!!  Have gospel so imbedded in your soul that you will astonish people and shake the very earth beneath them.
  • If you have only convert on your mission, make sure it is you, the missionary.
He then dedicated three buildings on the MTC:  Addison Pratt, Dan Jones, Matthew Cowley (all three incredible missionaries).  He gave a powerful blessing on the MTC itself, that there will be no acts of terror of any kind on the MTC campus.  It was a very powerful dedicatory prayer.  The closing song was:  "Lord, I would follow Thee".
When Elder Holland came into the auditorium everyone stood until he blew kisses and waved his hand for us to sit down.  That was very moving.  And then again at the end of the devotional, there was no noise/no talking while Elder Holland, members of the Seventy, the missionary committee and newly called MTC presidency left the room -- then Elder Holland again waved and blew kisses to us all.  Such a very dear man, a missionary at heart and a beloved apostle.
We are very grateful for this opportunity to serve a mission.  We know that there will be hard days and discouragement, but we feel that we are very blessed.  It is great that we can serve together and thank each of you for your love and support.  We remember you in our prayers.
Tomorrow we start of drive to our mission.  We plan on staying with Jeff & Kristi on Saturday and go to Church with them.  Then it's on to Uticia, New York!!!
Love to all.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Loving the MTC

Sunday we had our Sacrament Meeting at 7:30 – early and very cold outside.  After our meetings we went to see Dad’s cousin, Charlie Pyne.  We had a great visit with him.  He was the one who sent the picture of Dad at the top of Squaw Peak with his holding a flag.  It has probably been over 40 years since we have seen him.  I would never have recognized him with his snow white hair and full beard.  His wife was just like Grandma Pyne – setting out lots of things for us to eat.  Great people!!!

We went to a fireside for those leaving the MTC  this week and then to the MTC fireside.  Always great speakers.   I still want to write down some random thoughts so I won’t forget:
  •  Sometimes loneliness is God’s way of showing that we need time with Him.
  • It is not just the best 18 months of your life, but it is the best 18 months for your life.
  • Trials can affect confidence.  Overcoming trials will make us stronger.
  • Be a valiant servant – be the kind of missionary your mom thinks you to be.
  • Come home with no regrets.

Our office training is going to be great.  Our office duties will be varied and lots of new challenges.  We think that the other couple we will be working with will be a fun team, and it will be interesting to see what “duties” they choose this week before we get to Utica.  Today we left our hotel suite at the Marriott with the temperature at 3 degrees and when we returned it was 10 degrees.  You can hardly breathe the air.  We begin our second week at the MTC with classes teaching about the mission office duties.  The software programs the church has developed are extraordinary with on-line help and videos explaining exactly what to do; either with finances, housing, vehicles, newsletters and mission organization.  But one does feel somewhat overwhelmed with the tasks we might be assigned to do.

Every day we experience the excitement of the missionaries.  They are so excited to be at the MTC.  We hear all sorts of languages and greetings.  It is an amazing place.

Love the MTC and it will be sad to leave all of the wonderful people we have met.  We came back early and have been doing our laundry.  Miss you all and send much love to each of you.  Don’t let the kids forget that we love them!!!!!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A few pictures...

This is our MTC district.  Dad was the District Leader.  We learned to love these couples.

We call this young man Dean's Older Brother!  This MTC teacher reminded us of Dean -- his looks, his smile, his laugh!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Day 7

This is Mom speaking:  I went to bed at 6:30 last night and didn't wake up until 8:30 this morning.  I was SOOOOO tired!!!  We went to the temple this morning, had a horrible lunch at the MTC Cafeteria, and went on some errands.  We are going to dinner somewhere else tonight, as I really cannot eat green salads, and the variety of hamburger meals, taco soups, and such have been enough. 

It snowed last night and off and on today, so it is really cold outside.  At least the SNOG is gone!!!  Tomorrow is back to the cafeteria food, which will be fine.....

Love to all.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Day 6

Our final day of training started with our meeting with inactives.  We spent 15 minutes role playing the inactive couple and then 15 minutes as the missionaries.  In the afternoon we did the same, only we were either teaching or being taught.  It was an interesting experience, as it made us think more about our inactive friends and what would be their needs and how we could help them return to activity.  Lots of food for thought!!!  As we finished with our "Preach My Gospel" training, we realize it was a week of being encouraged to go out of our comfort zones and extend ourselves in teaching, testifying and committing.  There were anxious moments but we found that if we relied on the Spirit, our fears would recede and a path would open up to voice our feelings and testimonies.  Mom was and is a wonderful companion. 
  • We need to forget ourselves and get to work
  • When we step out on a mission the Lord will step in
  • JOY:  We have the Lord as our second companion
  • It is the times when we step out of our comfort zone that we grow the most.
  • Teach people not lessons planned
Today we parted with many new found friends who are going to all parts of the world, all of whom are nervous but anxious about the new experiences they will have.  I (Dad)tried to make a list of the parts of the world these missionaries are being sent to serve:
Iceland, Brazil, Iowa, Detroit (inner-city), LA, Dominican Republic, Hungary, Puerto Rico, Chile, Hawaii, London, Vanuatu, Halifax, Oklahoma, Finland, Peru, Pennsylvania, Manhattan, Scotland, Malaysia, Paraguay, The Bronx,Madagascar, Philippines, Moscow, Zimbabwe and UTICA. Can you just imagine all these senior missionaries being sent to all these areas of the world?  And all want to make a difference in the lives of souls who don't know they "hunger" for the truth.
Tomorrow, Saturday, is a free day....we can sleep in....oh how wonderful.  We plan to go to either the Provo or Timpanogas Temple and then hope to meet up with my long lost cousin.  Sunday our MTC District has Sacrament Meeting at 7:30 AM.
The most important lesson I (Dad) learned this week comes from (I Nephi 25:26)----
"And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ,
we prophesy of Christ, and we write of Christ, ... 
that our children (grandchildren) may know to what source they may
look for a remission of their sins.
We hope by our serving a mission in our aging years, that our children and grandchildren will know that we love our Savior and that we hope our example will bless them all.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Day 5

Today our teaching experience was to be a couple who had both been active until they were 14 and then fell away.  We prepared with that in mind, and when we arrived they were nonmembers who did not know anything about the church.  They were impressed with Mitt Romney, and they wanted to know more about the church.  We had been planning for a "Plan of Salvation" message, so we had to really change our message.  It was fun to go back to the Restoration and all, but we had to rely on the Spirit to guide us.  Even though these "investigators" are really role playing, we as missionaries had to rely on the spirit to know what and how to teach.  Incredible experience.
I am going to just write random thoughts that I want to remember from my notes:
*      Teach people not Lessons
     Elder Bednar:  Quit doubting ourselves and have faith that the Spirit will guide us.  "If ye have not the spirit ye cannot
        teach."  Honor covenants and keep commandments, and we can receive an impression without even knowing it. 
        We need to follow the promptings of the spirit.  Open our mouths and trust.
*      Elder Holland:  Listen to the spirit to know what to teach.  Teaching with the spirit means teaching with understanding. 
        Eyes of investigators will  tell you all you need to know.
*      Times you need to be quiet and let the Spirit work before speaking.
*      I Will Go and Do......  I Went and Did.
Lots of other random thoughts, but these were especially important to me.  The afternoon we spent on preparing our lessons for tomorrow on strengthening new members and the inactive. 
Refer to Exodus 17:8-12, Alma 17:24-29.  Every new member needs a friend, a job, and nourishment of word of God.  Always follow the spirit and GO GIVE THEM HEAVEN!!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Day 4

6:00 came early, but we did better getting out of the hotel room than we did yesterday.  Today we had our "Teaching Appointments".  Our investigators were an elderly couple who had had friends who were members of the church and wanted to know a bit more about the church.  It was quite an experience!  Dad is a pro and does it all so smoothly.  I have to remember that I am supposed to participate too, so kind of interrupted him a few times.  I knew the scriptures we needed, but it was difficult to maneuver the light-weight paper.  I was able to get what we needed and asked these "investigators" to read.  We taught the Message of the Restoration.  At the end we were able to challenge them to read the Book of Mormon and have an appointment with them next week.  We were kind of on a high afterwards -- so glad to have that part of the week over.  We learned a lot.
This afternoon at the large group meeting, we were told to teach people not lessons.  When the instructor asked how we thought our teaching was received by our investigators, Dad said that our investigators were ready for baptism and wanted to know where the baptismal font was located.  The instructor laughed and said he thought our investigators were temple workers.  HAHA!!
Our afternoon sessions were preparing us for another teaching experience
At the evaluation meeting this afternoon, our district was being trained for tomorrow's teaching experience -- a follow-up discussion.  We need to be familiar with the Plan of Salvation......
Early in the hotel room tonight so we can catch up on our journaling. 
Love to all.....

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Day 3

Well, we are doing well.  Today was spent learning about "Preach My Gospel".  Today thru Thursday we will be giving lessons to "investigators".  This aspect of our training scares Mom the most.  But today she did wonderfully and I love her as a companion.  When she bears her sweet testimony, it brings tears to my eyes. It was a long day....more coming up, but it was sweet and inspirational. 
When I think of all the Priests I taught through the years about serving a mission and what their experiences would be like in the MTC, little did I know how powerful this place is.  It radiates power, dedication and love for the opportunity to serve.  Everyone is always discourgements felt and the spirit of the Lord is sooo strong. I don't know why I am getting so emotional when we sing at the MTC Devotionals, but tonight was no exception. We sang "Each Life That Touches Ours for Good"
"Each life that touches ours for good
 Reflects thine own great mercy, Lord.
Thou sendest blessings from above
Thru words and deeds of those who love. 
What greater gift dost thou bestrow,
What greater goodness can we know
 Than Christ-like friends, whose gentle ways.
Strengthen our faith, enrich our days. 
When such a friend from us departs,
We hold forever in our hearts
A sweet and hollowed memory,
Brings us nearer, Lord, to thee. 
For worthy friends whose lives proclaim
Devotion to the Savior's name,
Who bless our days with peace and love,
We praise thy goodness, Lord above." 
We love you all and feel your prayers...thank you for your loving support.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Day 2

We officially entered the MTC today about 10:30.  Had lunch at 11:30 and our first training session was from 1 - 3:30 with a 10 minute break.  We had an early dinner and then had an errand to do at the mall. While we were there, a woman came up to us and asked us if she could give us a hug.  She lives in Florida and does not see many LDS people.  I guess our badges gave us away, and she said we were glowing and so serene.  She was in tears. She is a member of the church but misses the association with other members of the church that she once had in Utah.
These black badges are badges of honor, and I feel so blessed to be able to be a missionary.  It will be a challenge for me, that is for sure, but it is such a blessing to be able to serve and help in bringing people to the knowledge of the church, the Book of Mormon, and to the mission of the Savior.
We were in our room early as 6:00 in the morning comes early for us formerly retired folks.
Love you all.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Entered MTC - Day 1

I just wanted to express the events of this first day.  We went to church this morning with our dear friends, Elder & Sister Field, who start their Family History Mission tomorrow.  They meet up in the Avenues along City Creek, SLC.  Wonderful meetings.  The highlight of the meetings was an elderly brother who came up to me and said that he knew a Cutler in Chicago back in 1960 by the name of Guy Cutler.  Bro. Cutler served in the High Council when he was a Stake President.  Well, I nearly kissed him and gave him a great big hug and said...."Yes, that was my Dad".  He had very fond memories of my Dad & Mom.  Elder Oaks was a counselor to him at the time.  We had a wonderful visit with him.  A sweet tender moment for me.
We arrived at the MTC about 2:30 and learned that we were assigned to stay at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Provo because there was not room for us in the MTC INN.  We had no problem with that, so we went to check into the Marriott and found out that there was no power, hence no elevator, and freezing cold (17 degrees), so we went back to the MTC to wait.  We felt quite alone with no where to lay our weary heads.  We had dinner along with over 2,000 others and did not know a soul.  So we sat at a table that looked like a place for senior missionaries.  The two other couples sat down on each side of going to Myamar and the other going to Uganda.  Then another couple sat down and another tender mercy happened.  I looked at their name tags and noticed the name of Barlow.  So I asked if they happened to be going to the New YorkUtica Mission...and they smiled and hugged Sister Cutler...and now we have met the other Office couple who will be serving with us.  So now we feel accepted and loved.
Tonight we attended the Sunday Fireside with all the misssionaries...what an experience hearing them sing.

"The truths and values we embrace, are mocked on every hand. Yet as we listen and obey, we know we can withstand the evils that would weaken us, the sin that would destroy. With faith, we hold the iron rod and find in this our joy.  Thru test and trial we'll have our fears, but we will not dispair.  We're here to serve a righteous cause; Truth gives us strength to dare.  We'll love and learn and overcome, we'll sing a joyful song, as Zion's youth in latter days, triumphant, pure and strong."

So, tonight we retire with full hearts for the Lord's tender mercies to us today.
Love, Elder & Sister Cutler