Wednesday, August 2, 2017

I'm NOT a camel?

From 31 July 2017
"You're not a camel."

What a week it has been!

To start things off, we had Zone Conference on Tuesday, and President Marsh told us a little bit more about how we are going to start using Family History more and more in the mission. The highlight of that presentation is that we now get to go to the Temple every quarter instead of just twice a year! However, in order to go, we have to take our own name to do, so we also get to start spending 2 hours a week doing research for our own family trees!

Apparently I'm not a camel. Or so my water bottle said. While we were tracting on Wednesday evening, a kind couple gave Sister Evans and I each a 1 Liter water bottle, and each one had a fun fact (encouraging people to drink water, of course) on it. Mine told me that Im not a camel. I laughed pretty hard and had a fun time drinking that water. :)

The next exciting bit of news is that I got to have surgery on my toe on Friday morning! Fun, right? Yep. I'm not including any pictures in this email, but my mother will have some if you really want to see what it looked like. Basically, I've had an infected ingrown toenail for the past 7 weeks, and this week I finally got it taken care of! They put a whole lot of liquid in my toe to numb it and then took out a nice sliver of toenail, and now my toe feels significantly better and I can walk normally again! I am SO thankful for modern medicine and doctors.

Following my surgery, I went on exchange to Hickory Flat for a day, which was great because it meant I got to miss our heavy biking days. That itself was a tender mercy, because my toe was pretty well mummified and didn't fit in normal shoes, so I was wearing sandals (with permission from the mission nurse). Luckily, the sisters in Hickory Flat have a car to themselves, so I didn't have to worry about it.

Marietta Zone Sisters!
This morning/early afternoon all the sisters in the zone got together for Sisters' Preparation Day. We went bowling at a place called Stars and Strikes and then got pizza at Stevie B.'s (a dangerous place for a pizza lover such as myself!). It was great to unwind a bit and just get to chat with all of my Marietta Zone sisters. As it turns out, none of us are that good at bowling, and I might never go bowling without bumpers again. ;)

End of the exchange: Sister Mugleston, Sister Worlton,
Sister Pierre, Me, and Sister Evans. 
Overall, this week has had a lot going on, and I just want to tack on my witness that Heavenly Father gives us so many opportunities to learn from different people and situations. Time and time again, I think I've got the hang of things, but I am always promptly reminded that I cannot take credit for any single thing that goes right in missionary work, because God really is in charge all the time. It comforts me to know that He won't let me mess up His work. Heavenly Father really never does let any good thing pass us by as long as we are doing our best to be obedient and follow His lead.

Transfers are next week, so in case you are planning on sending me anything, maybe wait a week. Or you can send it to the mission office (that's the address at the bottom today). Do as you will! :)

Sister Houghton
1150 Cole Dr. SW
Lilburn, GA 30047

Can anybody figure out what my score was?
President Marsh at Zone Conference
(he loves powerpoints, by the way).  

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Women in the South Don't Sweat, They Glisten

From 24 July 2017
I found a hill tall enough to see a horizon while we were out tracting one night!

Well hello there!

This week, I did not sweat, I glistened! In fact, I am getting very used to glistening pretty much whenever I am outside. Sadly, I don't have any good pictures to show you, so you'll just have to take my word for it. Especially on the days we have been biking. I don't know how all the oncoming traffic is able to see when we are riding past! That is how bright we glisten in the humid heat! ;)

One morning, we walked out the door to
find a rather large moth sitting on our
 door frame, so Sister Evans decided to remove it.
Probably the most exciting thing that happened this week is that I finally figured out who gave the talk that was a major catalyst in getting me on my mission! It is called "Turn to Him and Answers Will Come" (October 2015 General Conference) and was given by Elder James B. Martino, who just so happens to be the brother of the MTC President, President David C. Martino (who just started as President a few weeks before I got there)! That was pretty cool to figure out, and I am looking forward to recommending that talk to anyone who ever has any questions about any major life decision.

Missionary work has been slow but pretty good here in the Allatoona Ward. Not a whole lot has happened, but Sister Evans and I are working hard to find people to teach and, in the meantime, to practice teaching with members so that we can help people once we find them! Although we haven't been able to teach any investigators, we had a lot of opportunities to do some community service this week, and that really helped me realize the value of serving our fellow man. If there is any single thing that will help you feel better in whatever situation you may be in, it is serving those around you, in whatever small way you can think of. Sometimes giving service is as simple as talking to somebody or even just smiling, but it really does make a HUGE difference in their life and in your own! My initial reaction when I am feeling down has never been to turn outward, but I have come to realize that looking to help others really puts things in perspective for me. Accordingly, I challenge anybody and everybody who reads this to find some small way to serve others this week. You might live with them or they might be a complete stranger, but, trust me, it will brighten your day and theirs! Let me know how it goes. :)

Sister Houghton
701 Downsby Lane
Apt. 333
Woodstock, GA

Zaxby's (a Southern, chicken-focused restaurant)
has really good water, and the ice left some
cool condensation, so now you get to see a picture of it!

Hibatchi: Tilapia, Shrimp, and Zucchini!

From 16 July 2017
Sister Evans and I had our first trip to Pep Boys for our car to get one of the tires fixed (no good story behind that one) 
Hello everybody! I hope you have all had a stellar week!

Plenty of exciting things have been happening this week, and it seems to have flown by! You may be wondering about my title, so I will explain that first. On Saturday evening, we were having a member drive us around to appointments and be our team-up, and she offered to take us to a Japanese restaurant called Kani House. We didn't have dinner plans, so we went! We got to see our food cooked hibatchi-style, which was pretty neat! There was lots of fire involved and now I have some ideas as to how stir fry is really done. I decided to step out of my food-zone and try fish! (My dad will be smiling as he is reading this). That's right, I had tilapia and shrimp in one meal! (And here is where my mom will smile) Plus, the stir fry had zucchini in it and it was pretty good! I have never been one for adventurous eating, but I survived this encounter and may be trying more new things in the near future!

Because of interviews this week, I got to get to know President and Sister Marsh a bit better, which was AWESOME! I am so excited to start working with them more and more! President Marsh is hilarious and had some good counsel to answer questions I had about my area and my work as a missionary. It is going to be a fun year with these two in charge!

Being a missionary this week has been stressful but good. Because the weather has been so unpredictable for the past few weeks, we haven't been able to use our bikes much, which leaves us dependent upon our feet and members! That adds a little bit of complication to planning and getting places, but it has been really good to get the members more involved in the work, which is awesome! Our district decided to set a stricter definition for "contacts" this week, which has been interesting to experiment with. The bar is now much higher than it was, which means that our contacts have been much more worthwhile, but it is a lot harder to hit our goal of "contacting" 70 people each week. It will certainly be interesting to be able to talk with the rest of thre district tomorrow and see what their experiences were with our new definition.

Our one investigator, Amber, has officially moved out of our area, so we will be referring her to other missionaries this week. In the meantime, we did find one new investigator! Rosa was a referral from her daughter over 2 months ago, who we have been trying to contact, but has been out of the country for the past month! On Friday we were finally able to meet and teach her, which was awesome, and we are looking forward to our appointment with her tomorrow!

Kani house
The spiritual highlight of my week has been hymns! Music can bring the Spirit so strongly into a room, and I have recently realized how applicable so many hymns are to my life as a missionary. One in particular that has been helping me through this transger is "Come, Come Ye Saints." On the first day of the transfer, the first line hit me really strongly and has been suck in my head ever since. It goes, "Come, come ye saints, no toil nor labor fear, but with joy, wend your way." That line has helped me refocus on all the joyful things happening in my life and in the world around me. It reminded me that I am in charge of how my day goes and that every day can be a joyful one, even if it is full of hard, disappointing things. There is always joy to be had, and "men are that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25)! I would invite you all to have a more joyful week this week and to share that joy with those around you!

I love you all!

Sister Houghton
701 Downsby Lane
Apt. 333
Woodstock, GA

Monday, July 17, 2017

Free Lemonade!

From 10 July 2017

Sister Evans and I at the ward breakfast on the 4th

Hello world!

the lemonade stand crew

I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July this past week! Missionaries do their very best to take advantage of holidays so that we can talk to as many people as possible! Accordingly, on Tuesday, we passed  out about 40 gallons of lemonade, for FREE! Yep! We set up a lemonade stand with 10 missionaries outside of the big festival happening in downtown Woodstock, and it was awesome! By 3:00 when a storm rolled in, each companionship could legitimately claim about 150 contacts! (That is A LOT!). By 7:00, the storm had pretty well cleared up and we were back at it. Except this time, our lemonade stands moved. In order to accommodate the crowds of people gathered in a Target parking lot waiting for a fireworks show to begin, we wedged coolers full of lemonade between our bike racks and the backs of our cars so that we could slowly drive down the aisles of the parking lot talking to even more people and passing out even more lemonade! By the time we got home that night, Sister Evans and I had 214 contacts! Happy 4th!

The next morning, we drove to Roswell with the Woodstock Sisters to meet our new mission president, President Scott Marsh, and his wife. They are awesome, and I am so excited to see what happens in the GANM! The thing I am most excited about is that our mission is going to be running a pilot program for using family history and in missionary work! The Spirit of Elijah is real, and over the past few weeks, I have felt more and more like I need to be paying closer attention to my ancestors and what I can do for them, so I am beyond excited to see how things go! I don't know a whole lot else about what is going on, but tomorrow I will get to talk to President Marsh one on one in my interview with him, so I will have more details next week!

one of this week's rainbows!
The weather here has been all over the place, but this week we were able to see some beautiful rainbows, so that was pretty great. In fact, one rainbow led into a 75 minute gospel discussion with 6 teenage girls during another lemonade stand in Woodstock on Friday night. "I like to look for rainbows, whenever there is rain...". :)

I hope y'all have a wonderful week wherever you happen to be and that you have a chance to appreciate your ancestors this week!

Sister Houghton
701 Downsby Lane
Apt. 333
Woodstock, GA

Monday, July 3, 2017

Happy 4th of July!

 A patriotic goose/duck we met while tracting one day!)
Hi everybody! I have lots of little things to tell you about this week, but nothing too huge. Sister Evans and I have been having all sorts of adventures!

First of all, I am sure you are all wondering whether or not we have survived not having a car for half the week. Well, it has been easier than I expected. Due to some exciting weather patterns this week, we either stayed within walking distance of our apartment (1-2 miles) or got a ride to wherever we needed to go (from members and nonmembers!) We'll see how things go as it gets hotter and more humid, but so far, we have survived!

Our top investigator, Amber, may be moving in the near future, so we may or may not get to keep working with her, but in the meantime, she is visiting family, so we don't get to work with her too much this week anyway. We'll keep checking up on her and seeing how she is doing, don't worry. :)

On Thursday, we had the opportunity to see downtown Woodstock for the first time. It isn't technically in our area, but we got permission to go street contacting with the new Sisters who are in that area. It was pretty neat and reminded me in many ways of the town I grew up in!

President and Sister Bennion went home on Saturday and aren't allowed to visit Georgia for the next 2 years (just enough time for all the missionaries they know to go home). On Wednesday, we'll get to meet President and Sister Marsh to welcome them to the mission! (They arrived on Saturday, but due to the holiday, we have to wait a few days to meet them).

Today, Sister Evans and I had a super-preparation day. You might ask what made it a "super-preparation" day. Well, we are now super-prepared for summer, because we got haircuts! Bring on the heat! (Although I wouldn't mind if it didn't get any hotter this summer).

By the way, all of the missionaries in the USA are really excited for tomorrow, because the 4th of July presents a lot of opportunities to participate in the community! Tomorrow morning our ward is having a pancake breakfast which we have been encouraging members to invite friends to and we will be putting on a lemonade stand during a parade and festival in downtown Woodstock! Hopefully we will be able to meet a lot of neat people!

I hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July and that you are all able to spend some time reflecting on what a blessing it is to live in a land where we are free to choose! I count it a huge blessing to be able to not only practice what I believe, but to have the freedom to share it with others. 

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

Haircut fun! 
Sister Houghton
701 Downsby Lane
Apt. 333
Woodstock, GA

Monday, June 26, 2017

Staying in Allatoona

Allatoona Lake after dinner with Amber and her family on Tuesday night

Well, hello there!

This week, Sister Evans and I have been working really hard to try to talk to lots of people and teach lots of people too! Looking back at our week, most of it was green (we put our schedule and daily plans in what is called the Area Book App, which is super nifty and basically contains everything we, as missionaries, need in order to do our work in an organized fashion), meaning that we spent a lot of time finding. Amber continues to be awesome, but we are sad that she will be out of town for a bit this month to go visit family, so we won't be able to see her as much. Hopefully her adventures won't slow her down in her progression in the gospel, though.

Part of the fun this week was the weather, which was actually pretty mild due to some pretty intense rain and thunderstorms throughout the week. Also, I have learned that when it rains in Georgia, it doesn't just sprinkle, it completely flash-floods. Overall, it is awesome, but also a little bit scary when you are driving and within a few seconds you go from sprinkles to a deluge of water on your windshield. Fun stuff!

The big news of the week is that I am staying in Allatoona for another transfer (6 weeks) with Sister Evans. The even bigger news is that we will now be spending about half of our time on bike because we have been asked to share our car with the Elders in our area. Why now? (That is what I asked myself when we found this out last night/this morning) Because our neighbor ward, Woodstock, is getting Sisters! It should be an interesting summer, but with the Lord's help, we will survive. Feel free to pray for cool weather in Georgia and that the drivers will be aware of their surroundings.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

the sunset last night from our apartment window!

Sister Houghton
701 Downsby Lane
Apt. 333
Woodstock, GA

another cool bug

Monday, June 19, 2017

Bugs and Bears

Hi-five bear!

Hello Everybody!

First of all, Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful fathers out there, especially mine! I am so lucky to have such a wonderful dad here on earth and a Heavenly Father who loves me more than I can possible imagine. So much, in fact, that He sent me here to Georgia to share that glad message with all the people here! :)

 District Meeting on exchange+Zone Leaders, the lunch crew
 (Sister Evans took the picture for us)
It has been a pretty good week here in Allatoona! In terms of missionary work, we dropped 90% of our teaching pool, but we are really, really excited for the remaining 10%! Possible the best part about this week is that we hit what is called "The Standard of Excellence" for our mission! For anybody reading this who doesn't know missionary lingo, that means that we hit the goal set by our mission for each companionship in each area in the mission. In the case of the Georgia Atlanta North Mission, that means three things. #1, we have one person with a scheduled baptismal date. #2, we had one investigator come to church. #3, we found 3 new investigators OR contacted/intorduced ourselves to 70 people. #1 and #2 were fulfilled by the same investigator, Amber, who is just awesome! She is married to a member who recently decided to come back to church after 10+ years of being inactive, and she really wants to know for herself if it is all true. Every day, she tells us about little miracles happening in her life when she reads the Book of Mormon and prays to her Father in Heaven. Basically, Sister Evans and I just adore her and are so glad we get to teach her! Her baptismal date is at the end of July, so I may or may not be there for it, depending on whether or not I get transferred next week. We'll see!

Bug on the car (mostly I'm just really proud
 of this picture of a cool-looking, little bug!
Besides the actual missionary work, I have been having lots of fun as a missionary! On Tuesday I got to go on exchange with Hermana Rhoton and experience District Meeting with a district (group of missionaries) other than my own, which was exciting, and then I got to be a Spanish missionary for the day! Then on Saturday, Sister Evans and I had the chance to have lunch with some people who Sister Thorn and I had helped to move back in April. It was so good to see them, and they are going to keep meeting with the missionaries where they now live! While Sister Evans and I have been tracting, we have been noticing lots of bears (wooden or metal, not live, sadly), which Sister Evans tells me is a California thing, so I took the opportunity to give one a high-five yesterday evening. Missionary work is hard work, but also the most rewarding work in the world, so I am glad to be doing it.

Fun Georgia Fact: There are a lot of bugs here, and so far, I have been blessed with companions who seem more attractive to the bugs than I am! We are learning the importance of bug spray and benadryl cream very, very quickly!

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

Sister Houghton
701 Downsby Lane
Apt. 333
Woodstock, GA  30189