Monday, February 5, 2018

Week 2 in Winder

The Winder Ward missionaries (Elder Parrish, Elder Judd, myself, and Sister Wagner)
Hi everybody!

As I think back on this week, it doesn't seem like all that much has happened, but really, we've been pretty busy! With what, you might ask? Well, we had some meetings, interviews with our mission president, lots of lessons to teach, family history to do, and people to find. It's been peachy!

The highlight of my week has been our visits with 2 of our investigators, B+K. They are such seekers of truth and have a real desire to figure out whether all this stuff we are teaching them about is true. Part of why teaching them is so great is that we haven't done it alone yet. Obviously, as missionaries, we always try to teach with the companionship of the Spirit, but on top of that, one of the families in the ward, has become almost like family for B+K, who are at a rough stage in their lives. The S family not only has them in their home for every teaching appointment, but also allows them to live in their camper trailer in their front yard. Brother S is in the Winder Ward bishopric and thinks in a way very similar to B, so he answers almost all of his questions. Sister S treats B+K like her own children by doing everything she possibly can to help them with whatever they need. Meanwhile, the S children beat us to saying hello to and welcoming B+K when they arrived at church yesterday! "If all [families] had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto [the S family]" the world would be a much happier place for us all to live in! Anyway, I am excited to continue working with B+K and for them to find the answers they are looking for in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I'll let the pictures explain the rest of my week!

Love,
Sister Houghton

Pics:
Ducks!
District Meeting! 

Biking in the Rain

From 29 January 2018
Out tracting with Sister Wagner!

Hello from Winder!

Nothing to crazy had happened this week, so I'm just gong to tell you all some fun little details about my life as a missionary in Winder.

My companion, Sister Wagner, is from Boise, Idaho and only my second companion to be as tall as I am. She came out on her mission just 3 months after I did, so we have lots of mission stories to share back and forth. She sings like an angel and is amazingly diligent in getting work done. Plus, she is teaching me how to really study in the mornings. I love that I get to work with her this transfer!


Image result for winder, gaSo the first thing Sister Wagner get told me about Winder is that it is the meth capitol of Georgia. Woohoo! Fun times ahead, right? As far as missionary work goes, this area is actually hoppin'. We have a lovely long list of people to teach and a lot of people are actually home to answer their doors. Also, it turns out we actually cover 2 wards here! Each ward has a set of Elders, and we primarily work in Winder, but we also work with people in the Fort Yargo Ward on a referral basis. Mostly it's fun because we always have people to work with. Adding to the fun is the fact that we are in a 3-way car-share with all the Elders in our area, so most of the time, we are biking. Luckily we live pretty close to the church, library, downtown Winder, and pretty much all of the important places. Plus everything is relatively flat, so that's nice too. Because we don't have the car on Sundays and had to get to the building early for meetings yesterday, we biked in the rain to church. Honestly, I ended up being less wet than expected. However, by the time church was over, it was absolutely pouring and everybody we passed in the hallway asked if we were planning on biking home in the deluge. We told them all that we hadn't decided yet until some of them got together and found a ride for us before we could find it for ourselves. Moral of the story, this ward is the bomb-dot-com. Plus, pretty much everybody in our ward is somehow related to everybody else. #RealFamilyWard

On a more spiritual note, this week I have been learning about actively choosing to have charity for the people around you. As a missionary, I get to work with all sorts of people in all different stages of life and testimony. It is way too easy to let "the natural man" snap, but I have never yet regretted choosing to love someone instead. Test my theory and let me know what your experiences are. :)

Okay, so that's all I can think of to tell you about right now. I love you all and hope you are having a wonderful winter!

Love,
Sister Houghton
Winder, GA

Back to Athens!



From 22 January 2018


Rachel got baptized!

Sister Parsons and me in the snow!


Well, I have lots to tell you all and really not any time in which to write you!

First, it SNOWED! In Georgia! All the people who we have asked (which is a lot,  by the way) who have resided in Georgia for any length of time tell us that it's not normal, but we're not sure whether or not to believe them because of the recent evidence otherwise. On Wednesday we woke up to snow, which was exciting, but also not because we had to somehow end our exchange without using our cars. And it was only 17°F (which is "below zero" in Celsius) when we started the 2-hour walk to meet back with our companions. Luckily it wasn't as humid as it has been lately, so we didn't die. Phew! The snow is mostly gone now and yesterday was warm enough for short sleeves, so it's been a wild week with the weather!

Because of the snow, we also received the disappointing news that our multi-mission conference, which was scheduled for Friday, was cancelled. Bummer, but maybe one day we will get to meet the GAM (Georgia Atlanta Mission) missionaries.




Rachel at the Washington D.C. Temple
on Friday before she knew I was
coming to her baptism (by the way, I
managed to surprise her- it was the best!). 


The next highlight of the week is that Rachel got baptized! Let me tell you her story. It started in St. George this past summer, where she was in an opera with a whole bunch of Mormons. She and some of the other nonmembers in the cast were invited to the St. George Temple Visitors Center, where she was drawn to the doctrines and teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. When the opera was over, the Athens 1st Sisters (before I got there) received her information as a referral, requesting a triple combination (The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price all in one bound book, and a very unusual request from a nonmember). When I arrived in Athens, the previous companionship had met with her once and so my companion and I tried for weeks to meet with her. However, as an opera singer, student, and teacher, Rachel was very busy and it was hard to get in with her. Sister Johnson left and I was on the verge of dropping Rachel because we had been unable to teach her in over 6 weeks. Nevertheless, Sister Nielson and I tried one more time, and were finally able to meet with her! For the remaining 3 months I was there, we were able to meet with her several more times (despite phones being destroyed and numbers being lost - Facebook saved the day!) and we started receiving pictures of her at various temples all over the country as she went to opera auditions. Well, fast forward to 2 weeks ago, when she messaged me on facebook to tell me she was planning on getting baptized! I was thrilled out of my mind and could hardly think about anything else! I asked my mission president if I could attend (per her request) and on Saturday, I got to be there for her baptism in Athens. It was a wonderful place and possibly the best moment of my mission. At the end of the service, she bore a powerful testimony of 2 Nephi 2:25, "Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy." She was glowing and I could feel the pureness of her joy as she testified of gospel principles to everybody there (including her nonmember husband, who has undergone a real change of heart in terms of his attitude toward the church in general). As I reflected on my part in Rachel's experience learning about the gospel, all that I could think of was that Heavenly Father knows exactly what each of His children needs and He knows exactly how to put us where we can have those needs filled perfectly.

On Saturday evening, I thought that there would be nothing else to email you all about this week. How wrong was I? Very.

So transfers. Sister Parsons and I thought we would be staying here in Webb Bridge, with a small chance that Sister Parsons would leave. Well, Heavenly Father has other plans for us. I will only be in Webb Bridge for a few more hours- tomorrow morning I am going...back to Athens! Well, not the ward, but the zone/stake. My next area is the Winder Ward, and my companion will be Sister Wagner. I've never worked very closely with her, but she came out shortly after I did and has a very positive reputation in the mission. The other crazy bit is that Sister Parsons is also leaving Webb Bridge! Yeah, we're getting whitewashed out. President Marsh called us last night to tell us why. Supposedly he wants us to be ready to train again, 6 weeks from now, in our respective new areas, but we think he probably just doesn't want to put up with us anymore as a companionship, which is why we are going to opposite ends of the mission (Sister Parsons is going to Allatoona, where I spent my first 6 months!). We are both bummed to be leaving the area that we just got comfortable in/with, but now we know why we felt so much urgency about getting everything organized (mapping things out, sorting through junk, getting to know the ward and its needs, etc.). I could have stayed here for several more transfers, but I will go where the Lord wants me to go! And that is Winder. I've never worked there, but it has glowing reviews throughout the mission, so I don't think I will have much, if anything, to complain about.

Guess what! I actually have a spiritual thought to share this week!
Mormon Newsroom
As many of you know, this week, the new prophet for the world was announced. I didn't get to watch the announcement, but when I heard the news, I immediately knew that he is the right person. I have been studying a Church history book, called Our Heritage for the past week or so, and have been impressed by the courage the early saints had, and especially their leaders (the first modern prophets). As I read, I was led to ponder on several occasions about how well I follow and sustain the prophet. I have begun to make a more concentrated effort to know the prophets and what they have conveyed to us from our Heavenly Father. I invite you all to do the same.

I hope none of you fell asleep while reading this, but that's the update on my week. Happy January and I will be writing from Winder next week! :)

Love,
Sister Houghton

Pics: 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Brrrrrrrrr!


Game Day matching (aka companionship unity)



Well hello there!

All of Georgia is sad at the results of th UGA v. Alabama game on Monday. My companion and I included.

 the ice we tried to scrape off
our windshield yesterday!
We thought we were past the ridiculously cold weather, but apparently not. It is still freezing here in Georgia. The humid cold, by the way, is a whole different world than the cold I have ever experienced in California, Utah, or Wisconsin. I'm still trying to decide if it is better to wear lots of layers or just a rain jacket, because multiple layers seem to capture the cold. I'll let you know if I draw any conclusions this week!

Not a whole lot has happened in Webb Bridge this week, but I did get some exciting news from Athens on Thursday morning. One of my investigators there is getting baptized this week! That day just so happened to be interviews with President Marsh, so I was able to ask him if I can attend the baptism and he said yes! Road trip to Athens on Saturday! When I have pictures next week, I will tell you her story. :)

The only other really exciting thing is that we had a Regional Broadcast for church yesterday. Elder Bednar (Quorum of the Twelve) wasted no time in teaching us about having faith unto repentance and Sister Marriott (YW General Presidency) thoroughly enjoyed being with her "fellow Southern Saints" and told us about the grits she ate for breakfast yesterday.

That's all for this week! I hope you all maintain the goals you set two weeks ago this week (remember those?) and that everything is peachy!

Love,
Sister Houghton 

lunch after a combined District Meeting on Wednesday
Pics: , , and

Good, Better, Best

From 8 January 2018
Me, Hermana Rhoton, Hermana Willener, and Sister Parsons
(we found this across the street from our complex this morning and had to stop for a quick picture). :)

Hi everyone! Just as an fyi: UGA plays Alabama for the national title today and all of Georgia is super excited! In fact, all of the schools in Fulton County (where I live and work (as a missionary) right now) were closed today due to "weather" (rain and warmer than it has been for the past 2 weeks!) -- basically everybody will be watching the game, so... :) Go Dawgs!

Well, this week has gone by like many others. We knocked and talked and taught and did our best to serve and lift those around us -- nothing too crazy. We are still on the lookout for people to teach (we found one person yesterday, so that's exciting!) and have been trying out a whole bunch of ideas given to us by our mission leadership. Speaking of which...

On Thursday there was a Mission Leadership Council and I want to tell you a little bit about what came of it. Lately, President Marsh has been, rather than answering questions about vague mission rules, telling all of us missionaries to consider the good, the better, and the best of each scenario people have been asking about. This week, he applied it to obedience. There are so many different commandments Heavenly Father has given us that can be taken to various levels or in various ways. Thanks to President Marsh, I have started considering more of those this week and really examining the way I go about being a missionary. Have I been doing the bare minimum, or have I been continually stretching myself and my capacity to serve? It's definitely an interesting line of thought to follow in my brain, and my whole perception of what I do each day has been altered drastically because of it. I invite you all to think about some things you can do to be your "best" for the Lord rather than just your minimum "good."

I love you all and hope you have a fantastic week!

Love,
Sister Houghton
18001 Summerwood Lane
Alpharetta, GA 30005

Don't Leave the GPS Up

From 4 September 2017






At the Botanical Gardens today, lest you think I have lost my goofy nature :)


Hello all! I hope you are having a great week! I have some fun things to tell you about!

So my subject line/title is meant to go right alongside Sister Johnson's for this week, which is "Don't Leave the Hazards On." It will all get explained after I tell you about some other thiings first.

During the pep talk.
Saturday was the first home football game for UGA, so we had 7 sets of missionaries on campus for various parts of the day, trying to talk with the 40,000+ people who were wandering all over campus and downtown Athens. We started the day with a good pep talk from one of the Elders in the zone. Mostly he just quoted Doctine and Covenants Section 4 and we all got pumped up to talk with everyone! Then, we got to work! It was super intimidating but also really fun to see all the people all over the place. 









The tuba circle! 
Outside the stadium (before the crowds of people got there)

















Nearly everybody was wearing red and black (UGA colors), and we had a blast talking to people about the game and tying it back to missionary work/gospel topics! Some of the Elders had some crazy stories, but the best one I've got is that I contacted a very inebriated man while he was sitting on a bench in the scorching sun with beads of sweat rolling down his bald head. It was quite the experience, overall. My favorite part of the day was getting to hear the tuba circle! As many of you know, I played the tuba (well, sousaphone) in high school and it was a lot of fun! On Saturday afternoon, Sister Johnson and I were walking around talking to people when I suddenly heard some musicians having fun. Since musicians always draw a crowd, we headed that way and we got to see the UGA pre-game tuba circle! Sadly, once the band came out, we had to head back to the institute to avoid the really drunk people, so that was the end of that. We continued talking to people until about 6 o'clock (the institute building is right on one of the main roads people were walking on to get to the game) and then took some pictures and went to head home. 

This is where the GPS comes in. We got to our car and found the hazard lights were on. And then the car didn't start. So we had some of the Elders in our district look under the hood and try some things, which led to the conclusion that the battery was dead. Miraculously, one of the first people we called to come help us out was available and was able to come give us a jump. Upon some investigation, we discovered that the GPS had fallen off the windshield and hit the hazards button, which is why the hazards were on. Eventually, we made it home and finally got to rest from a long day of walking around in the sun! Moral of the story: don't leave the GPS up in the car above the hazard button!

Well, that is the most exciting part of the week. The only other news is that I got to go on exchange with Sister Thorn (my trainer) for a day last week. We had a blast doing missionary work together again, and it was good to spend some time with her before she goes home in two weeks

At the botanical gardens with the Sisters this morning. :)
Oh! Also. We went to the Georgia State Botanical Gardens this morning with all the sisters in the zone, which was nice. We didn't stay for very long because we all spend our days walking around in the heat anyway, but it was nice to just enjoy the flowers and trees and nature! God certainly has provided us with a beautiful world to live in! :)

I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!

Love,
Sister Houghton
Athens, GA 30605



Saturday, January 6, 2018

Missionary Holidays

From 1 January 2018
 
I got to hold a sugar glider (flying squirrel)
the other day at a member's home!


Well hello there! 

Between exchanges we went to get lunch with all the other sisters
(left to right around the circle: me, Sister Parsons, Sister Hansen,
Sister Evans, Hermana Kammerman, and Hermana Aranibar)
Between normal-people holidays and missionary holidays, it has been quite the week! 

As you can guess, the normal-people holidays I am referring to are Christmas, Boxing Day (I've heard it's a thing), and New Year's. As far as missionary work goes, not a whole lot was different because of those things. In fact, the only really unique thing about any one of those days was that I got to see and talk with my family! I loved every second of my 40 minutes, although it was a bit surreal. For those of you who don't know my family, you are missing out on some amazing people! Other than that, it was missionary work as usual on the holidays. 
From a few weeks ago) the Roswell Zone!
You may be wondering about these "missionary holidays" I mentioned, so let me explain myself. The first one we had was a zone conference on Wednesday! President Marsh's whole family was there to give us missionary advice after we had our usual trainings from the mission leadership in the morning and we finished the conference with some Christmas caroling. The other missionary holidays I am referring to are exchanges! I have found that going on exchange into other areas is a sort of holiday unto itself because, even though we are still doing missionary work the whole time, I can leave a significant portion of the stress of my own area (scheduling appointments, making phone calls, taking note of events, etc.) behind as I get to know a new area and a different missionary for the day! Plus, "miracles always happen during exchanges" (I don't remember who told me that early in my mission, but it is so true!). The particular exchanges I went on this week were in the southern-most part of the zone, in overlapping areas. The first was in the Norcross Spanish Branch that covers the bottom half of the stake and the second was in the Peachtree Corners Ward. I had fun biking in new areas and getting to practice my Spanish just a little bit, although I am not very brave about using what little I know.


 "Swim"! Featuring yours truly!
"No soliciting" featuring Sister Parsons
The rest of the week has been a blur of knocking on doors, meeting new people, and trying not to freeze in the bone-chilling cold of Georgia! Sister Parsons and I are continuing to see little miracles each day as we work with ward members and seek out those who are ready to receive the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that every person on earth needs the peace that comes from living Christ's gospel- that's why I am a missionary!

I love you all and hope you have a fantastic first week of 2018!

Love,
Sister Houghton