Monday, December 11, 2017

T'was the Week Before Transfers. . .





Us with Rachel (the investigator who loves the Temples, met with us to say goodbye).

Hi everybody! I have a lot to communicate to y'all and not much time in which to do that, so here goes nothing!

Blurry picture of Sister Nielson and I at the
end of the parade (Santa in the background!).
Christmas is coming, the air is getting cold! Many of you may have heard that it snowed this week in Georgia! Which, by the way, is pretty rare and when it happens, there is normally only about an inch of white stuff on the ground. However, this particular snow dumped about 6 inches onto many unsuspecting Georgians. Athens didn't actually get any accumulation, although it did snow for several hours on Saturday morning. Also, cold in Georgia is at a different level than the cold I have personally experienced elsewhere in the country. Basically, it goes right through to your bones! Sister Nielson and I have been bundling up all week to stay warm-ish. We got to do lots of Christmas celebrating this week as well! On Thursday night, we went contacting at the Christmas parade in downtown Athens and then Friday night was the ward Christmas party. Both events were very well-put-together and lots of fun for everybody involved. On Saturday evening, we kept up the celebration by going with several other sets of missionaries to give out free hot chocolate at the UGA Arch to #LightTheWorld! Sister Nielson only almost lost her toes because it was so cold. (Just kidding, but she did lose feeling them for a bit...). Merry Christmas!

 Sister Van Katwyk challenged me in one
of the Minute to Win It games at the
Ward Christmas Party, so...
The other big news of the week is that I got a transfer call last night! Yep, I'm leaving Athens tomorrow morning, headed for the Webb Bridge Ward over in the Roswell Stake. It is more of a suburban area, much like Allatoona was, so it should be a fun time! My new companion will be Sister Parsons, who I am SO EXCITED to work with! She was actually trained by the same person who trained me (Sister Thorn!) and we were working in pretty close proximity for two transfers before this most recent one. I am sad to leave Athens and all the wonderful people I love here, but I also know that there are people to love and things to learn in Webb Bridge! My new address will be:

18001 Summerwood Ln
Alpharetta, GA
30005

Well, I've got to get to packing, but I love you all and I hope that your plans are in place for Christmas in a few weeks! Sorry for not including something more spiritual. Hopefully next week I will have a bit more time to do that. Merry Christmas!

Love,
Sister Houghton
18001 Summerwood Ln
Alpharetta, GA
30005

with Sister Fertig

Good Stuff

From 4 December 2017



At the Temple with the Sisters and the Elders in the Zone

It has been a pretty crazy week here in Georgia! Now that December has arrived, things are warming up and the weather is beautiful! I'm loving it. :)

On Monday, we only had a half-preparation day because...

We got to go to the Temple on Tuesday! It was pretty much an all-day event, so we made sure to take plenty of pictures! Our whole zone went, so everybody was really, really excited. Why? Because there is so much peace to be found in the House of the Lord. It was especially wonderful to me because it has been just over a year since I went through the Temple for the first time. So much of my understanding of and perspective on life has changed since then, and it was interesting to me to review all those changes. I could see the hand of my Heavenly Father behind each one and also how each challenge I faced has helped me become a stronger, happier person. If you haven't been to the Temple lately, I highly recommend it, even if you aren't able to go inside.

On Wednesday, I got to go to a conference with Elder Weatherford T. Clayton of the Quorum of the Seventy. He gave a group of us missionaries a whole lot to think about, and it may take me the rest of my mission to apply it all. Nevertheless, I am going to try! Directly after the conference, I found out that I was going to be personally interviewed by him, along with the other 3 missionaries who went from Athens. He gave me an opportunity to ask any questions I had and, of course, my mind went completely blank. I managed to come up with a half-decent one that has been on my mind lately, but nothing extraordinary came of it.

a quick image of the Nativity event
(pictures were allowed and
even encouraged) set up
in the cultural hall of our church
The next interesting day of the week was Friday, when we had a zone conference (our second this transfer) with Elder Clayton. He talked to us about a lot of the same concepts and ideas, but I was able to get a whole lot more out of it this time around. He talked about teaching simply, what our mission funnel is (walking through our key indicators), and what each member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is like in real life. Everything was a little bit less heavy than it was on Thursday, and I was excited to get to work afterwards! However, we got back to Athens just in time for our Stake Nativity Event (a display of 400+ nativity scenes from around the world with a live nativity outside- complete with live donkeys you could pet!). Which was still work, but not the kind I envisioned during the trainings earlier in the day. Sister Nielson and I went around trying to talk with everybody in search of those who had never been inside an LDS church before. Probably my favorite part of the day was the choir performance during the last hour of the event. And by "choir performance," I really mean the solo of "Carol of the Bells" done by the world-class organist in our congregation. You had to be there. It was amazing! We spent Saturday evening the same way and it was even better the second time!

The biggest miracle we experienced this week was Seleta. She showed up to church two Sundays ago, and came again yesterday. Afterwards, we managed to pull her aside for a lesson and now she is planning on getting baptized next Saturday! Sister Nielson and I are feeling SUPER blessed to be able to work with her, and it is going to be a busy two weeks until then!

I love you all and hope you have a fantabulous week! Don't forget to #LightTheWorld this week (see mormon.org) and enjoy this Christmas season!

Love,
Sister Houghton
Athens, GA 30605

P.S. Transfers are next week, so probably hold off on mail after today until I let y'all know what is happening next Monday. :)


Monday, November 27, 2017

Watch Your Head!

We volunteered at an 8K & 16K race on Thanksgiving morning with 4 other sets of missionaries- it was chilly! 
Hello everybody! I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving and the pie was good!

Sister Nielson and I had some unique opportunities to work with various members of the congregation here in Athens this week, but there's not much I feel needs reporting on.

Pics: Sister Nielson wanted a picture with
her new arch nemesis a few hours after her incident
We spent a chunk of Wednesday helping our bishop's family prepare a whole lot of food for the ward Thanksgiving linner (lunch/dinner) on Thursday. Then, on Thursday, we helped with the setup and cleanup of said event. The food was delicious and we had a nice group of people there (about 27 people), so everything was peachy until one of the 5 year-olds split his head open on a door handle. He's okay now, but I'm 100% certain his parents weren't planning on spending their Thanksgiving day in the emergency room. The funniest part is that Sister Nielson decided to try following the trend the next day! Yep, she had her first bike incident on Friday. After going to sharply around a corner, she found herself no longer on pavement and headed straight for a speed limit sign and monitor. Luckily, her helmet made sure she didn't split her head open, and, in fact, she only got one scratch and a few bruises to show for it, despite a head-first dive into the intersection. We have come up with several jokes to describe the incident, but mostly we are just glad she didn't get any serious injuries!

 I got to be the first in a series of pictures of people holding signs
 to send a "Happy Thanksgiving"-type message.








What comes after Thanksgiving? Christmas-time! On Friday, we started showing people the #LightTheWorld videos and initiative, and people seem to be loving it! I failed to participate in the event last year, but this year I am SO excited to try to better live the Christmas spirit in 25 ways over 25 days. I hope you all give it a look and a try! In case you don't know where to find it, go to mormon.org. :)

Have a fabulous week everybody! I love you all!

Love,
Sister Houghton
Athens, 30605

.

The Email Deleted Itself

From 20 November 2017



It's been an awesome week! I wrote a really detailed, long email about it all, but it disappeared, so I'll let the pictures speak for themselves since we have a zone activity today!

Love y'all and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Love,
Sister Houghton
Athens, GA 30605




Monday, November 13, 2017

Chilly Times



We find all sorts of interesting insect scenarios while we go out to knock on doors...
Well, it has been getting chilly here in Georgia, although it seems to be pretty peachy today. Despite the cold, Sister Nielson and I have seen miracle after miracle this week!

People seem to be coming out of the woodwork for us to teach and work with. In fact, on Sunday morning, we were anticipating as many as 11 nonmembers at church! Even though none of them came, it kept us excited all week to keep seeing that number grow. Heavenly Father really has been blessing us by putting people in our paths. And it is interesting all the different paths we found people on. Some of them were found in the classic missionary way of tracting (knocking on doors) while others just showed up at church and some even met us in the middle of Walmart!

Another blessing we saw this week was that we had some really effective finding time on Saturday which helped us catch up from our contact deficit for the week. We weren't sure how it would go, but we decided to go knock on doors during the UGA v. Auburn football game on Saturday. More people answered than not, and we were actually able to have some really good conversations! (All of Athens is thoroughly devastated that UGA lost for the first time this season, but they are hoping they will pull through this Saturday).

Yep, that's pretty much it for this week, but it has been a wonderful week of missionary work in Athens! Sister Nielson is helping me become a better missionary each day by reminding me of all the things we need to do and by keeping me accountable to my goals. I am so lucky to have her as my companion right now!

I hope y'all are doing well and that everybody's Thanksgiving plans are set because Thanksgiving is only a week and a half away!

Love,
Sister Houghton
Athens, GA 30605

Monday, November 6, 2017

Meetings, Meetings, Meetings!

The Mission Leadership Council from Friday!
Well, this week has not been your average missionary week, mostly due to lots and lots of meetings. (On Tuesday, we had transfers, which wasn't anything special for Sister Nielson and I, as we both stayed where we are.)

Wednesday was the first day we had full of meetings, with District Meeting in the morning and then a Stake Presidency Meeting in the evening. At least we still had the afternoon to go out and get things done, right? Right.

Then there was Friday, which was even more full of meetings. I spent most of the day in Lilburn, meeting with various leaders to discuss some mission things and some stuff for the Athens Zone. In fact, I left my area at 7:30 that morning and arrived back at 8:00 pm. My brain was only a little bit fuzzy after all that driving and all the trainings we received from the mission leaders. That night, I spent a long time thinking of all the things I needed to do to live up to what I had learned! One of the most exciting things about missionary work is that there are always plenty of things for me to improve on, so I am never bored!

Besides going to lots of meetings, we did do some missionary work this week, in case you were getting worried. In fact, we saw some really neat miracles! I wish I had time to tell you what they were, but really the only thing you need to know is that the coolest ones were based on sign language and deaf culture. (Note: Sister Nielson took one year of ASL in high school, and I knew none until Thursday, when I learned the alphabet). Quite a cliffhanger, right? Let it suffice to say that Sister Nielson made a valiant effort to translate the first half of Sacrament Meeting yesterday and we got 2 potential investigators out of it! Heavenly Father certainly works in mysterious ways!

Ok. That's all for this week, but I hope you all have a fun time this week and that November is treating you all well!

Love,
Sister Houghton
Athens, GA 30605
 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Halloween Spooks!



The CTR pumpkin I carved.

Hello World!

It's been quite the week here in Athens! The first excitement of the week was going on exchange with the Sisters in the Braselton Branch. I got to work with Sister Lott (who has been out for 1 transfer now) for the day and we had a blast! We knocked on doors, taught some people, and, for our grand finale, taught seminary at 6:30 in the morning! Actually, somehow, my Book of Mormon study has been right on track with all of the seminary classes I've worked with, so we got to teach about Enos, who I had read about just the day before! Neat, right?

In the minivan headed to the follow-up meeting
(I drove on the way back from the meeting)





After teaching seminary, we met up with all the Sisters in the Zone to head to a follow-up meeting for trainers and the now 1-transfer-old missionaries. There was a lot of driving involved, but I did get to drive the Zone minivan (yes, we have one of those, just one, in the mission), which made it all worth it!


Our monster car and "costumes."
















On Friday evening, Sister Nielson and I attended our ward Trunk'r Treat (at which there were tons of nonmembers for us to meet and talk with). One of our investigators was going to come help us decorate our car, but she wasn't able to make it, so Sister Nielson pulled together our pumpkin-spider-web-eating-monster car (see pic). I think she did a pretty great job! We also "dressed up" a little bit (not much), but I'll let you all decide for yourselves who we were. Our ward's costumes and car decorating skills were from out of this world- it was an A+ job if you ask me.

Image result for turning 20




Thanks for all the birthday wishes! I am no longer a teenager! Actually, I really did feel more like an adult yesterday, which was weird. We had a fun day at church, saw some members, and helped the Elders (#bikeprobs)! Sister Neilson surprised me by decorating our kitchen and the YSA Sisters managed to sneak a cake into our day, so it was basically a party all day! It turns out, the difference between being 19 and 20 is really only one day, but it is fun to look back on my teenage years now. ;D! 


The biggest spiritual highlight of the week was seeing my companion become a completely different person over the course of a few days. We set companionship goals (for finding, teaching, and just being around each other) last Sunday and the quality of missionary life has made an impressive jump in the past 7-8 days. We were working hard and I have been able to see the results of it, which has brought me a lot of peace and joy! I used to think hard work and peace didn't correlate at all, but now I know that they really do go hand in hand. As we allow the Lord to help our weaknesses become strengths (Ether 12:27) we really can bring about amazing changes in our lives!

Alright, well, I hope you all are having a great last few days of October! Happy Halloween tomorrow!

Love,
Sister Houghton
Athens, GA
30605



Spiders in GA are huge and very colorful, but hard to get pictures of, so here is a seriously-edited picture of one I saw in Braselton the other day!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Hi Y'All!



Sister Wilde, me, Sister Parsons, and Sister Hahn between exchanges!
Hi y'all!

My week has been nothing too crazy. We got to teach some awesome people who are going through tough times, drive to far-away places, and even bike on some perfectly-temperatured days! Like I said, nothing crazy. In fact, probably the most stressful part of the week has been trying to figure out transportation. There has been lots of switching between the car and bikes this week in order to help the Elders in our area get their crazy bike situation figured out and to get to where we needed to be without using all of our allotted miles for the month. The good news is, that the weather for the past week has been 100% ideal for biking! Not too hot, and not too cold. Just right! I have been loving it!

I did have an opportunity to learn some fun, "southern" skills this week! One of the ladies we go visit each week, who is a member of the ward here, taught us how to make Wet Biscuits (which are dangerously delicious and not all that healthy) and Fried Pears (or Apples, but either way, it is a very similar situation) the way she grew up doing it in Kentucky. I took careful notes of the whole process so that I won't forget all the important details, don't worry.

Probably the most exciting part of my week has been studying Jacob 5 out of the Book of Mormon. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the Book of Mormon, Jacob 5 is a really long analogy about olive trees. I don't know how many times I have read it before, but it has always been one of those chapters I dread reading because I have never really fully understood it and it is just so long. This week, though, I decided to give it my full attention for as long as it took me to really get as much as I could out of it. Many sticky notes were used in the process of me trying to diagram it out, but in the end, I actually managed to learn a lot! The #1 thing I got out of it all was how much Heavenly Father does for each of us. Over and over again, the Master of the vineyard asked what more he could have done, and there was literally nothing more he could have done! That is just one of many lessons I saw during my 5-day study of the chapter, but I invite each of you to face a chapter of scripture you have always struggled with and try to decipher it for yourself. It will change your life in positive ways, I promise!

Alright, well I hope you all enjoy this last full week of October (the best one, in my personal opinion ;) ) and that you are able to recognize God's love for you as an individual this week! Love y'all!

Love,
Sister Houghton
Athens, GA 30605


By the way. . .Happy Mole Day! :D!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Cool and Flexible


Sister Nielson, me, Amy (awesome YSA member getting ready for her mission), Sister Parsons, and Sister Hahn in front of the display of our experiment just before taking it down yesterday.
My title today is what President Marsh's motto for the week has been. "Cool and flexible." As I mentioned last week, it has been a "loco crazy" week!

It all started on Tuesday evening, when 2 companionships of Sisters instead of 1 ended up staying at our apartment for the night before the big experiment started. The rest of the week, only 1 companionship stayed, and it was a party!

Day 1 of the experiment at the park (who is even a missionary
anymore?)!
On Wednesday morning, we got to the institute building at UGA, ready to get started on the "Book of Mormon Experiment" we had all been anticipating for a couple of weeks. We spent the morning being trained on how to conduct the experiment and then went out to do it! For that first afternoon, we all wore street clothes (non-proselyting attire) and went by our first names (no nametags) which was really weird. I ended up staying in the background during that first day (putting papers on clipboards, collecting papers, etc.), but the next day, Sister Nielson and I were assigned to dress down again! By then, I was anxious to have some of the neat experiences other missionaries had been having while actually talking to people! You're probably wondering by now what exactly we were doing, so let me tell you. The Book of Mormon Experiment was all about getting people to read a single page of the Book of Mormon and come to know for themselves that it really is "Another Testament of Jesus Christ," as the title implies. A lot of our experiment focused on whether or not members, missionaries, or both are more successful at getting people to stop and read a page. Over the course of 4 days, over 900+ people read a single page of the Book of Mormon and became their own witnesses that it really is all about how much God loves His children. It has been a huge blessing for me to be able to participate in the whole thing (well, the half that I was there for) and I am excited to see what our mission does with it from here on out! (The people who were running the experiment left supplies for us to carry on doing it as a mission whenever we want).

The whole mission!
Santa Claus even brought us cases for our phones!




The next big, exciting thing is that we had a mission conference on Friday! For the first time in 3+ years, the whole mission got together, and a lot of things came out of that conference! We got flu shots, Santa Claus brought us all smartphones (one of the Assistants to the President literally dressed up and they played Christmas music and the whole shabang!), we learned about how to use Facebook (one of these days I will officially post something so you all know what to do about that), and now there exists a picture of all the missionaries in the mission! The conference lasted nearly 9 hours, and we got back to our apartment just in time for bed that night.











The beautiful Deitra!

Elder Sullivan, Robert, Elder Egan, me, Deitra, Sister Neilson
outside the Temple.

On Saturday morning, Sister Nielson and I got up and ready to go in time for a member to pick us up and drive us to the Atlanta Temple in Sandy Springs (1.5 hours away). We had a special opportunity to go do baptisms for the dead (if you don't know what that is, you should go to lds.org and find out) with Deitra, who got baptized the weekend before I came to Athens. It was wonderful to be able to feel the peace of the Temple and I can't wait to go again. Several people also mentioned to me that it might be the closest I ever come to swimming on my mission, which I thought was pretty funny. ;) No, really though. There is a special feeling of peace that comes when you are participating in the "turn[ing of] the heart of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers."






When we got back from the Temple, we mostly did the open house for the experiment over the rest of the weekend.

Well, that's pretty much it for the week. I love you all and hope you are able to have your own unique, special experience with the Book of Mormon this week!

Love,
Sister Houghton
Athens, GA
30605




 The whole experiment crew. 


Sister Neilson, me, Sister Parsons, Sister Hahn, Sister Branson, and Sister Johnson after mission conference.

P.S.  from Mom:  We received this text yesterday--a parents' "payday!" 

Brother and Sister Houghton!  My name ifs Jeff Sheets, a BYU Professor.  I am in Athens, Georgia working on a special project for the Church, a Social Experiment with the Book of Mormon.  I had the privilege of working with your Daughter and her Zone on the project.  She did an amazing job and is such a wonderful missionary!  Just wanted you to know she is doing really well and blessing so many people.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

From Crazy to Downright Wild!

From 9 October 2017
 Orange cupcakes are always a party.


Pre-exchange dinner at Waffle House. 





Okay, so it has been a pretty crazy, fun week! We went on exchanges, 











One of our ward members teaches dance at UGA,
so he taught us all a few things about tap dancing
 at the Ward Talent Fair!




had a Ward Talent Fair (Athens 1st Ward has some pretty AWESOME talents across the board), and even made bright orange and yellow cupcakes!















Also, a random gravesite from the 1800s
which we found in the middle of a
roundabout in a random neighborhood
while tracting the other day.
 I guess it is worth noting that we did do missionary work as well, so y'all don't have to worry that I forgot why I am here in Georgia. Probably the most exciting bit about this week has been preparing for the coming week! It's gonna' be wild!

First of all, we are doing a pilot program for a new finding initiative in our Zone. We will literally be the first missionaries to do it, so it should be exciting! The whole concept that we are experimenting with is about how we let people learn about the Book of Mormon. Some BYU professors and Missionary Department people will be training us on the whole thing in the next couple of days and then the experiment runs through Sunday! As of right now, all I know is that there are going to be a lot of missionaries in Athens next week, and we will have some of the other sisters living in our apartment for a few days. By next Monday, I should have lots of commentary on it all, so I'll have more to tell next week! 

The next wild thing happening in GANM (the Georgia Atlanta North Mission) is that we are having a mission conference on Friday! It will be the first one in over 3 years! Why are we having a mission conference? Well, probably because Facebook and Messenger just popped up as apps that we are now able to download onto our tablets (for those of you who don't know, our tablets are pretty strictly monitored and locked down to a lot of things). Also because we all have to get flu shots! Yay! Oh, and we might also be getting smartphones soon. That one is the most rumor-y. Although, I had a unique opportunity to speak to some Hermanas (Spanish Sister Missionaries) from the Georgia Atlanta Mission this week and their mission is definitely getting them, so there is a good chance we will be as well!

Last, but definitely not least, is that I have an opportunity to go to the Temple this Saturday! One of our recent converts in the ward is going for the first time (to do baptisms for the dead), so us missionaries get to tag along! I am pretty excited to be able to feel the peace that is always present on Temple grounds. :)


Ok. I think that is everything. Really, it has been a good week, and this week is going to be a true adventure (nobody really knows what is going on anymore in the Athens Zone, but that is okay!). I hope you all are able to find something new to try this week! I have found that new challenges really help me refocus on what things are most important. Try it sometime! :)

I love y'all!

Love,
Sister Houghton
Athens, GA 30605


  
And fall is coming! :)