Tuesday, February 28, 2017

'Jeet yet?'

From 27 February 2017

Sisters Houghton & Thorn with the lovely Tanya and her mother Marlene!

Hello all!

I'm in Georgia and it is awesome!

My first area is the Allatoona Ward. It's a lot like Sonora, my home town, but is also very different in so many ways. I've only come across two people who I couldn't understand so far, and have had several people try to teach me Southern. The strangest thing about GA is that even though it has been plenty wet (mostly just rainy, not humid yet), all the grass here is brown. 

My trainer is Sister Thorn. She's the only Sister Training Leader in my zone and has been all I could ask for in a trainer. She joined the Church 4 years ago and has a really wonderful testimony which she is not afraid to share. She has already taught me so much! Her last companion went home, and I am the first greenie Sister Thorn has trained in her 11 months here.

On my first day we went tracting and visited several less-active members. By day two, I had given away my first Book of Mormon, and by the end of day three, I had even been able to teach a couple of times! There's too much to tell, but I absolutely love being a missionary! It's hard, and I'm slowly learning how to talk to strangers, but I love it!

The hardest thing about Georgia is that everybody here already has a church, and when we talk to somebody, they assume we want to talk about our church (which, to a degree we do), when our actual focus is on the gospel. It's great that almost everybody here already has faith in Jesus Christ and recognizes God's hand in their lives, but they don't often give us a chance to tell them about how many more blessings Heavenly Father has in store for them!

Image result for walmartOn a more positive note, Sister Thorn and I had a Walmart miracle! After dark one evening, we decided to go contacting at Walmart for the 30 minutes before it was time to go home. We set a goal to have at least one gospel conversation and talk to two other people besides. After talking to a young mother about families, we were looking for somebody else to talk to in the near-empty store. We walked into an aisle and the lady there promptly asked us if we were missionaries for the Mormon church. We excitedly responded that, yes, we are, and she told us that she lived a few houses down from a member in our ward. Within a few minutes, she had invited us over to teach her about our religion. We almost couldn't believe our ears! It's just amazing how the Lord prepares people to hear our message and how he sends us out to find them in the most unlikely of places!

Sorry for the poor quality picture, but this is my companion, Sister Thorn, and me in our apartment when we realized we didn't have any pictures to send home. I love you all and hope that you can find some way to share the gospel with those around you! :)

<3 Sister Houghton

P.S. The title is Southern slang. Can you figure out what it means?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Welcome to Georgia

From 20 February 2017

New arrivals to the Georgia Atlanta North Mission
Hey there!

I made it to Georgia! Tomorrow I will head to the Allatoona Ward to be trained by Sister Thorn. Here's a picture of all the new missionaries in the mission (yes, there are 12 Sisters and only 1 Elder) with President and Sister Bennion.

What is the status of my bike? Apparently Elder Purdy (the bike coordinator) hasn't seen or heard about it arriving yet...

I love you all and can't wait to hear from you/tell you more about Georgia next week on P-day!

<3 Sister Houghton

(This email arrived on Tuesday)

Your missionary has arrived safely!
We will send your missionary’s address and a picture with President and Sister Bennion as soon as possible.

Sister Spackman
Mission Secretary

I'm Leavin' on a Jet Plane

From 16 February 2017

Sister Houghton and companion, Sister Willey

Hello all!
Sister Houghton showing us where she's headed!
I got my travel plans the other day, and I will be leaving the MTC at 3:30 on Monday morning along with 11 other missionaries. If all goes well, I should arrive in Atlanta in the early afternoon. Possibly the weirdest thing about all of this is that I don't think I've actually been here at the MTC for 3 weeks yet. It feels like it has been a few short days, but it also feels like it has been years since I got here.

Possibly my favorite topic while I've been here at the MTC is Repentance. My whole perception of the concept has changed. Before I arrived here, I was never sure what to repent of. However, I now know that repentance is more about changing for the better than making up for the bad. Nobody is perfect, so we all have things we can change to be more Christlike. It's good to know that there is always something to work on.

The district with teacher, Sister Clark
My district has developed and matured a lot in the past week. Every day I learn new things about the people I get to learn with and from, and every day I walk away from our classroom with something I want to be better at.

Sister Willey and I have been working hard this week to memorize things for our mission president in Georgia and our branch president here at the MTC. We've memorized the First Vision, 3 Nephi 5:13, the Standard of Truth, and baptismal invitations. Possibly the hardest thing about companions is learning how to teach with two people instead of just one. I am glad to say that since we taught our first lesson two weeks ago, we have greatly improved. 

On Tuesday night, Elder Ballard spoke to us (and all the other MTC's via broadcast) about the importance of having a good attitude and doing our very best for the Lord. I wish I could convey with words how powerful it was, but I simply don't know how. As our choir number, we sang "Lead, Kindly Light" and I would strongly encourage each of you to really look at and ponder the meaning of the lyrics. They are powerful and oh so encouraging.

I love you all!

Sister Houghton

The district at the Provo temple

P.S. The pictures are of me, me and Sister Willey, and my district. :)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Don't Pop My Balloon!

Image result for pop balloon

Hey y'all!

The MTC is awesome! We are constantly learning important things like how much Heavenly Father loves us and that He wants us to be happy!

My title this week is a reference to the devotional we had on Tuesday night about the importance of not popping the balloons that are the hopes and dreams of others. While the message was mainly about companions, I think it is also hugely applicable to everybody. Staying hopeful is really important, wherever you may be and whatever you may be doing.

Let me tell you a little bit about the people I am with all day every day. Sister Willey is my companion and is also going to Georgia with me. She is from Utah, super sweet and wonderfully patient with me. Sister Aebischer and Sister Calton are headed to the California Irvine Mission and are going to be ah-maze-ing! Sisters Campbell and Soelberg are headed to the Idaho Nampa Mission and will be equally wonderful! Elders Hannekamp (from Georgia!) and Clemons (from Tennessee, so he has the accent) are also headed to Nampa and make great investigators during role plays. Elder Thompson is going to Irvine and his companion, Elder Egan is going to Georgia Atlanta North with Sister Willey and I. Our district is easily distracted, but everybody has such beautiful testimonies and such powerful spirits that our time together is also super spiritual.

I don't even know what to tell you all about because there is so much to tell!

Each day, we spend about 8 hours in our classroom and an hour doing exercise (I've found that Sister Aebischer will run slowly enough to let me keep up) which is so good for letting out all our pent-up energy. The meals are decent, although the biscuits and gravy at breakfast the other morning didn't come close to comparing with my wonderful mother's. Walking to the Temple on Sunday and then going inside today was excellent because it felt like we were leaving our little bubble of a world that is the MTC. Teaching practice is awesome because we get to learn so much from it, even though it is somewhat terrifying/awe-inspiring.
I've decided this week that I want to be a "real missionary." Matthew J. Richardson (some important BYU person) spoke to us on Sunday night of the importance of remembering how other people see us. When I was younger, I remember thinking that missionaries must be so good at everything they do. Accordingly, I am trying my best to be obedient, thoughtful, guided by the Spirit, and a good companion. I certainly have a long way to go, but I think I am up for the challenge.

Sadly, there is no way for me to get any of the pictures off of my camera onto the computer I am using. I'll try to figure that out for next week.

I love you all!

Sister Houghton

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


Image result for provo mtc

I am alive and in the MTC and my first P-day is next Thursday.  <3 Sister Houghton

She's in one of those buildings. . .with a little more snow around it about now. . .

And She's Off!

Acts 13:2-3 "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.  And when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away."

Today after months of preparation, including fasting and praying and seeking the Holy Ghost, then receiving a call from a Prophet of God, Tess departed for her service in the Georgia Atlanta North mission.  Before separating herself from her family and loved ones for 18 months, she had hands laid upon her head as she was "set apart" by our Stake President, a man who holds the authority to give her the responsibility and privilege and power to preach the word of God.  

"Sister Houghton" (the name she will use during her mission) then flew from Oakland, CA to Salt Lake City, UT, where she was met by members of the Utah Houghton contingent, who gave her a final send-off to the Provo, Utah Mission Training Center.  She will travel on to Georgia on February 20th.  

As I read these verses in Acts tonight, I was struck by how this process of sending out missionaries is the same in the church Christ left on the earth after His resurrection, and the church He restored in 1830!  Knowing that this is Christ's church on the earth today makes it (a bit) easier to send a daughter off to serve Him.  

Tess's Mom

Sister Houghton's address until February 20th:

Sister Tess Houghton
2005 N 900 E Unit 119
Provo, UT 84602