Nine months ago, we spent Sunday with our dear friends, Sue and JD Field, as we both started our missions. They had checked into their training the Friday before, and we were reporting to the MTC that Sunday afternoon. That time has flown by, full of wonderful, sad, frustrating, joyful and awesome experiences. It is hard to believe that this week will be a half-way point in our missionary service in this exciting mission. We have never had time pass so quickly. But I guess that is good since we are serving at such an exciting time for missionaries. We love each day and love to see the excitement of the missionaries.
(Dad) My latest surgery was much harder to recover from than the last. It has now been nearly 4 weeks since the surgery. I still feel discomfort, so I am trying to take it slowly. I have now been working at the mission office full time, but am very tired when the day ends. We have been able to continue finding new apartments, replacing old ones and have had surprise inspection visits. One such surprise inspection was great fun. We told the missionaries that we would be at their apartment in 30 minutes. Well, apparently the apartment was so dirty, the missionaries worked themselves into a sweat cleaning it before we got there. It looked good, except for the shower door and the carpet. This was also the apartment that former missionaries had started to build an archway of old pizza boxes. When we got there, it was nearly completed with the Book of Mormon placed as the top "Keystone" to hold everything in place. Quite a feat!
We later found out that the elders had stashed 5-6 large garbage bags in an outside garage so we wouldn't see them. Sneaky! Now we have a new way to make sure apartments are clean....just call the missionaries and tell them we will be having an inspection in 30 minutes and then call them 45 minutes later and tell them that we had a change of plans.
While we were going from one apartment in Auburn to another in Corning, we took a little side trip to see a couple of the Finger Lakes.
We had a delightful hour here in this quaint area. I would like to go back to Skaneateles. Lake Skaneateles is one of the smallest of the Finger Lakes. Beautiful. The red door church was on the shore of the lake. Beautiful, and pictures only bring back great memories. They do not really do justice to what we saw.
Letters from family and friends are like receiving a box of candy. We had a box for an Elder waiting for him in the office from his grandmother. When you shook the box, it rattled like candy. We had him open it, so he could share with the staff (kidding). When he looked in the box, it was full of vitamins. We all had a good laugh. On the other hand, we have one Samoan missionary who hasn't received any mail from his family for 5 months. Being in the mission office, we see and hear some heart breaking stories sometimes...one new Elder arrived several weeks ago who looked so downtrodden. He had no self confidence and could hardly look you in the eye. The President assigned him to the best loving companion in the mission. When the trainer asked him what was the best part of his MTC experience, he responded by saying..."sleeping in a bed". This young man hasn't seen his mother in 10 years, previously abused by his father and the only family was his grandparents. He never knew where to call his home. Somehow, he had courage to submit his mission papers from his grandparent ward, but after doing that, the stake president was released and the bishop was changed. The President was so concerned about this Elder, that he called the stake president and bishop, but they didn't even know the young man. Then Sister Cutler got a phone call from his Dad who wanted a message to get to his son that his Granddad had died. Our hearts went out to this young man. So Sister Cutler, Sister Barlow and the mission president's wife started a letter tree so the Elder can know that someone is interested in him. What a challenge the trainer has with this tender soul. But we are happy now to report that he is doing much better. He was at his first "Return and Report" last week and he had a small smile. We could see that his trainer was doing a marvelous job of training him and loving him. The calling of Trainer is one of the most important in the mission, as the first companion can set the tone for a missionary's mission.
Last week, the President told us that a senior couple couldn't finish their mission in Vladivostok, Russia and was being transferred to our mission. So another new apartment was needed quickly. We have the process of finding new apartments down pretty well and one was found in two days in Malone, NY (way upstate). We also delivered some kitchen equipment to a new apartment in the Lake Placid area. We spent two days delivering and sightseeing. The fall colors were beautiful in the Adirondack Park.
This will be the residence of the senior couple coming from Vladivostok. The Zone Leaders found this, and the missionaries will be living here on the first floor. The apartment is very charming, wood inlaid floors, a fireplace and mantle that are beyond words, high ceilings, etc. We are hoping that this couple will like it, as there are several other missionary couples lined up to move to Malone, New York, for the opportunity to live in this house that is listed in the Historic Register of the town.
One of Dad's responsibilities is to find, lease and furnish new apartments. He now has the Zone Leaders help to find apartments, and we had a good laugh thinking about this being a great find.
(Mom) One of the huge problems in this area is bed bugs. It is one huge job to get rid of these nasty critters, and we have one apartment that is going to get $400 worth of professional treatments to get rid of these pests. One of the problems is that the missionaries pick up the bed bugs from homes they visit. These missionaries are now spraying their clothing and car before they go into their apartment. Now these missionaries do not even go into their apartment without taking off their clothes and putting them into the wash, and they do not dress in their bedroom!!! They had to get rid of their dresser because it was infested. To say it is funny is fighting words to these two sisters!!! Lots of time and money into debugging, washing clothing and bedding. It is a huge chore.
We do our laundry downstairs sometimes, but the dungeon is a drawback, to say it
lightly. I have to gear up myself to go downstairs, and yet it is a lot cheaper.
The Laundromat is a real temptation most of the time. It is dark and scary downstairs.
We are enjoying conference this weekend. We are able to watch all sessions in the comfort of our apartment. We are so blessed to be alive in this day when the Lord is hastening his work, and we pray daily that our family will be valiant in keeping the commandments and living as we have been commanded to live. We are in awe of the missionaries and feel very blessed to be part of this mission. I (Mom) had a unique opportunity yesterday at Pier 1 Imports of all places. I was helped by this beautiful young woman. As I was checking out she asked me if I knew the Zvirzdin's. (She noticed my badge) Catherine Z is the new Relief Society President in Herkimer where we serve. This young woman had been in their home all during her high school years, and in fact dated one of her sons. I asked her if she was a member of the church and she said no. I emailed Sister Z and she was so overwhelmed -- young woman lives in our branch, was baptized at one time but has fallen away, much more I could say, but nevertheless I feel so humbled to have found someone the Z family had loved so. I was only in the store 10 minutes! I know that we are doing the Lord's work, and it is a privilege to wear the missionary badge. Conference has been wonderful, to say the least.
|Song written by a good friend of mine from the Mt. View Ward. The second verse was very touching!!|
We love each of you and pray daily for your protection and wellbeing.
Grammy, Papa, Elder and Sister Cutler, Mom and Dad, Friend