Monday, April 24, 2017

The Real Greenland. . .

I'm tellin' ya', Georgia is Greenland! Georgia. For real. Everything is green. Supposedly, it stays this way until the end of September. Coming from golden California, it's really weird, but it's also really nice!

This week has been a good one! As a mission, we have a goal for each companionship to find 3 new investigators each week OR to contact at least 70 people. Well, Sister Thorn and I have been working hard toward both of those goals, and this week, we had 76 contacts! We were stoked when we got to tell our District Leader on Sunday night! Although none of those 76 people is a new investigator, we gave each of them the opportunity to learn more and invited them to do so, which is what missionary work is all about- "inviting others to come unto Christ."

On Thursday morning, I had the opportunity to go on exchange with Hermana Solis again! Although my Spanish has not improved much, I enjoyed being able to sit in on lessons (trying to figure out what they were talking about) and feeling the sweet spirit that comes as a missionary testifies of the restored gospel. We had several lessons where I was just sitting there grinning because I could tell how excited and happy both the investigator and Hermana Solis were!

Miracle: There is an active family in the ward that has 5 children under the age of 4 (the mom is some sort of superwoman). I felt prompted the other day to go visit them the next time we were in their neighborhood, and it happened to be that night. We dropped by and offered some quick service. Before we left, she asked us if we knew anyone who needed some diapers or baby clothes. In fact, we did! About 8 weeks ago, the Hermanas had tracted into a lady who was pregnant, named (for the sake of anonymity) S. Since she spoke English, they referred her to us and we had just dropped by and met her new baby boy last Saturday. She had asked us about where to find diapers for cheap (she also has a 1 year-old and a 3 year-old, so her family goes through diapers). As missionaries, we had no clue, but we promised to ask around. Without us even explaining S's situation to the sister we were visiting, she gave us 3 boxes of diapers and a bag of baby clothes to give to whoever we knew who could use them! S was so grateful when we edelivered them to her the next day! Heavenly Father really does answer prayers!

The only other exciting news of the week is that Sister Thorn tried to break my finger. Not really. But she did drop part of a bed frame on it, and there is a lovely bruise on the back of my finger. The good news is that my finger really is fully functional and the bed frame made it out alive. :)

That's it for this week! I hope that y'all have lots of opportunities to share the wonderful gospel of Jesus Christ with all those you meet! We truly are examples for all to see and there are so many people who do not know how much Heavenly Father has in store for them!

 I got to use a nifty screwdriver this week while
we helped somebody put up curtain rods. :) 
With lots of love,
Sister Houghton
701 Downsby Lane
Apt. 333
Woodstock, GA

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Easter Week in Allatoona and HickoryFlat

From 17 April 2017

The Exchanging Crew (Sister Nickels, Sister Riley, me, Sister Thorn)
Hello world!

This one lizard was trying to impress all the other lizards.

This week has been full of packing and unpacking bags. Why, you might ask? Well, since Sister Thorn (my companion) is the only Sister Training Leader in our zone, she has to go on exchange all the time! That meant that this week, I got to go on not one, but two exchanges to the Hickory Flat Area! I spent Thursday with Sister Nickels, Friday with Sister Thorn, and Saturday with Sister Riley! I've started getting a little bit confused about which investigators live where, but it's all good! Going on exchange is an excellent opportunity to learn from other missionaries and see what you can improve upon. I still have a lot to learn! (Also, both times I was in Hickory Flat, I went back to a certain apartment complex where there are little lizards all over the place!) :)

My "Kingdoms of Glory" Egg!
As you all know, Easter was yesterday! Easter has a lot of meaning for us missionaries, since our whole purpose is to "invite others to come unto Christ." Basically everybody in Georgia celebrates Easter, which is awesome! As we were driving between appointments yesterday, Sister Thorn and I noted that almost every man we saw driving was wearing a nice shirt with a collar on it. We applauded Georgia from within our car as we saw just how many people know how important Easter is. It isn't about candy and eggs and bunnies. Easter is a celebration of the fact that our Jesus Christ not only lived and died for us, but that He lives again! That means that we can all have second chances, that we can live with our families for eternity, and that we can live with our Heavenly Father again! I know that my Redeemer lives and that I can become a better person each day because of Him. Easter truly is a special holiday. On a less spiritual note, Sister Thorn and I boiled and decorated some eggs the other day during lunch. We just used Sharpies, but we had a lot of fun trying to make them gospel-related!

Another exciting thing about this week is that I went on my first ever church swap! Last Sunday, we tracted into a lady who told us that if we came to her church on Wednesday night, she would come to ours on Sunday (after Easter). On Wednesday night, we went to a Christian, non-denominational church. Let me tell you. That was an experience. It started with a band doing some good ol' Christian music and then we had quite the sermon. The preacher was red in the face by the time it was over, and while the basis of the sermon wasn't inaccurate, it made me realize how glad I am to have grown up knowing about the restored gospel. Heavenly Father does not yell at His children. He may call them to repentance, but He does it with love. Always.

The last highlight of my week that I'll share with you is that I finished reading the Book of Mormon! On March 8th, I started at the Title Page, and 40 days later (yesterday), I had finished it! As surely as the Book is blue, the gospel it teaches is true. Although I have read the Book of Mormon many times in my life, this time I was reading it with a specific focus on the Doctrine of Christ (Faith, Repentance, Baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end). Christ's gospel is a simple one, and it works for everybody! I know the Book of Mormon is a true, correct book, just as much as the Bible is! It is inspired of God and I get to share it with all the people here in Georgia! Being a missionary is awesome!

That's all for this week, folks. I love you all and hope life is going good!

With lots of love,
Sister Houghton
701 Downsby Lane
Apt. 333
Woodstock, GA

All the Sisters in the Marietta Zone after interviews
(Sister Thorn, me, Hermana Rhoton, Sister Riley,
Sister Nickels, Hermana Solis)
Sister Thorn and I got Easter baskets with JesusFish chocolate inside them from one of our Amazing Members! 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Being Trained (Part 2)

From 10 April 2017

I have officially survived a whole transfer in the mission field. Accordingly, my trainer, Sister Thorn, decided to kick things up a notch. For most of my first transfer, we mostly tried to find people to teach by knocking on doors and store contacting. Phase 2 of being trained involves a lot more teaching! There was one day this week when we were planning on teaching 8 people in one day (none of them were mutiple/lesson)! 4 of those ended up not happening, but still, we had 4 whole teaching appointments in one day! No, but seriously. It seems like all of my first transfer we never taught anybody, and suddenly, we have all these people to teach! It is the best! A sign we found in somebody's yard this week put it best: "Harvest time!" As missionaries, we are sent forth to "thrust in [our] sickles with [our] might," "for behold, the field is white, already to harvest" (D&C 4:4). It is the best work in the world!

However much teaching we did this week, we also did some finding, and while we were finding, I (can you believe it) found something! Yes, I found a lizard! Not a big one, but a lizard, nonetheless. Let it be known that Georgia has lots of little lizards running around in the nice warm humidity. :)

There were two days this week where our stake emergency specialist called us and told us to stay inside due to severe weather. He called it flash flooding and tornado warnings, but it just looked like a normal thunderstorm to me, with nice big water droplets falling from the sky. It was great, except that missionaries don't like being inside during the day. The first day was preparation day (not today, but last week), which wasn't too bad, but the second one was Wednesday, when we had work to do! We ended up getting our weekly planning done really early and being able to go out for prime time (6:00-9:00 pm).

On Friday, Sister Thorn had to head to Mission Leadership Conference, so I got to spend the day with Sister Pierre (who came out with me) in the Collins Hill Area. We dared to knock a few doors together and taught a couple of lessons before our trainers came back for us. While we were stuck in lovely Atlanta traffic, Sister Thorn and I got a good laugh out of the car in front of us. Just about everybody here loves Jesus, it's great, but it also makes our job as missionaries that much harder because people don't realize how much more Heavenly Father has in store for them! I guess that's why I'm here though, is to tell them! :)
Besides getting to do lots of teaching, Sister Thorn and I have had some pretty neat miracles this week. I'll tell you about my favorite one: During planning on Sunday morning, Sister Thorn felt very impressed to go tracting on a street we had never noticed before which happened to be nearby our appointments for the evening. When the time rolled around to go tracting, all our appointments had been rescheduled and we considered going somewhere closer to us to save miles and drive time. However, Sister Thorn still felt prompted to go to the previously designated street. Upon our arrival, we discovered that the street was largely made up of abandoned houses, but after the pavement turned into gravel, there was a little trailer park hidden in the trees. We both thought the trailer park looked a bit dodgy, but we didn't want to leave because Sister Thorn had felt really strongly about being on this street. Eventually, we came to an interection of sorts and decided to pray about which direction we should go at the intersection. When I opened my eyes, the first thing I saw was a sign, pointing to the left, into the trailer park, so in we went! The second person we talked to had lived in Utah and wasn't interested, but kindly informed us of which trailers were inhabited and which ones weren't. After talking to a few more politely uninterested people, one man suggested that his neighbors really need more God in their lives. Hooray for referrals! We went and knocked on their door and a young lady came out to talk to us. She promptly told us that she thinks we are a cult and that she disagrees with our beliefs. However, she asked us our conversion stories and told us hers, which was largely centered around, as she put it, having "the gift of discernment" (which is super cool!). We were able to testify of the Holy Ghost and how it not only led us to her, but has also helped us know the Book of Mormon is true. Upon our bringing up the Book of Mormon, she asked if we had a copy. We handed her one and she asked for a moment to read a few verses, inviting us in as she did so. By the time we left, she had volunteered her phone number and a church swap without us even asking! I truly believe that the Holy Ghost prompted us during every step toward finding this woman and I am really looking forward to not only my first church swap (we go to her church and then she comes to ours), but also getting to share more with her!

Overall, it has been an awesome week! The Lord has work for His missionaries to do and it is awesome that I get to help with it!

With Lots of Love,
Sister Houghton
701 Downsby Lane
Apt. 333
Woodstock, GA

Monday, April 3, 2017

Spring Has Sprung

 Tracting in the springtime!

Hello world!

What a great week it has been!

First of all, spring is in full swing here in Georgia. That means that every morning, everything is either wet or covered in a bright green/yellow layer of pollen. I am so very glad that I don't have allergies! It is a serious blessing! Georgia is supposedly famous for its peaches, right? Well, I have seen a whole lot more blossoming cherry trees than peach trees, and according to Sister Thorn, who was here last summer, Georgia peaches are not only hard to find, but really not that great. I'm waiting to make my judgment until I've tasted some though.

District Meeting with the Zone Leaders
spiders on the couch

Tuesday was the last district meeting of the transfer! I gave my first ever training and it was about T.T.I.P., which stands for Teach, Testify, Invite, and Promise. It is an awesome thing to use when planning out a lesson or even in door contacting, so it was good that I had to study for it in preparation for leading a district discussion on it. The Zone Leaders joined us for district meeting, and we all took a goofy picture together. Enjoy! After district meeting, I got to go on exchange, again! This time, I was not only in the Spanish area, but I was with another greenie, Hermana Rhoton, so we got to be on bike for the day! Biking in a skirt is not as difficult as I imagined it being. Georgia, although it doesn't have any really exciting elevation, does have lots of rolling hills, so we got to use our gears plenty. The best part was probably riding home from 8:30-9:00 in the dark on the rumblestrip because the whole shoulder was rumblestrip and the road was very, very busy. We didn't have any near-death incidents, so that was good. :)

Something Sister Thorn and I did a lot of this week was helping people move (within our area). When you help people move in Georgia, you get to see lots of bugs, especially spiders. One recently reactivating woman we were helping had some couches that had been in the garage for a few months, and she really doesn't like spiders, so it was my job to use a broom to get them off the couch and then step on them! It doesn't get much better than spider-slaying during service!

bring on the bikes!
Possibly the best part of the week was General Conference! Here in Georgia, Conference starts at 12 and 4, which felt really weird to me. Something about finishing Conference at 6 pm just didn't feel normal. However, General Conference itself was as good as it always has been. There were two things in particular that stood out to me, but I want to go back and read all of them again! The first one that I really loved was by Gary B. Sabin of the 70 during the SaturdayAfternoon Session. He talked about the importance of being ALL IN and how we can do that. Being all in requires diligence, hope, faith, and the ability to be standing up inside, even when our circumstances keep knocking us down. I wish I could more fully convey how awesome that talk was, but all I can say is that you should listen to it or read it, because it is AH-MAZE-ING. The other thing that I really loved about this coference, was that two general authorities INVITED THE WORLD TO BE BAPTIZED! I would like to personally extend that invitation to whoever reads this. The peace and joy the restored gospel of Jesus Christ can give you is better than anything else you will ever experience in this life. There is nothing sweeter. Obviously there was a lot of other good stuff in conference, but those were my highlights. :)

The last thing I want to tell y'all about is the new Easter initiative! Go to Watch the new "Prince of Peace" video. I got to see it back in February while I was in the MTC and have been anxiously awaiting the day when we could use it in our missionary-ing. Once you have watched the main video, try the challenges that go along with each of the other 8. They will bring so much love into your life, trust me!

With lots of love,
Sister Houghton
701 Downsby Lane
Apt. 333

Sunday, April 2, 2017


From 27 March 2017

Sisters' Preparation Day


This week has been full of good adventures!

 Interesting book title and magnet, don't you think? 
This past Friday, I got to go on exchange with the Hickory Flat Sisters. Sister Riley and I did some service, taught a recent convert, and even tried to go tracting. When I say "tried to go tracting," I mean it. On Friday morning, we picked a street to go to and even had a back-up street. Our first pick was not a residential street, and the second one was giving us both the "don't try talking to people here" sketchy type of street. We decided on a street to go to that wasn't too far away and it ended up being a country lane with only 3 houses on it. The first door we knocked on was not only answered, but we each walked away with a free book (written by the gentleman who lived there) and a free magnet of one of his favorite things to say to people (a quote from himself). We had quite an interesting conversation with him about God and what we as missionaries do, but he politely declined our invitation to learn more. By the time we finished talking with him, we had to go exchange back, and that is what it means to "try to go tracting."

Saturday evening was the General Women's Session of General Conference. My favorite talk was the first one, given by the 2nd Counselor in the Primary Presidency. She spoke on my favorite scripture, which is Proverbs 3:5-6! I highly recommend it to all. It was also interesting watching the choir and picking out the faces of people I knew from BYU. I only counted 5, but I'm sure there were some I missed.

Image result for shrimp and grits

Yesterday, I tried shrimp for the first time in my life. While shrimp is not necessarily exotic, the way we had it was unique. A wonderful lady in our ward made us shrimp'n'grits. Just imagine shrimp in a nice thick gravy on top of cheesy grits. It was pretty good, and I, for one, am no longer afraid of shrimp!

Tie-dye fun!

Today, we had a Sisters' Preparation Day! All 6 of the Sisters in my zone got together and tie-dyed shirts (or socks, in one Sister's case) and then we had a clothing exchange with all of the clothes left by missionaries who have recently gone home. We had a lot of fun all together!

It has been a pretty good week!

Spiritual Thought/Experience: On Saturday, we spent all day knocking on doors. I even got my first sunburn in the mission to prove it. We knocked and knocked and talked and talked. By the end of the day, we had contacted 20 people! It was awesome, except that I felt like I had forgotten how to contact people. As a new missionary who has been working hard on this for 5 weeks now, that was rather discouraging! Add on the bonus of me meeting my first (and second and third) ornery Baptists, and by the time we got to watch the women's session of conference, I was downright disappointed with my lack of boldness in missionarying for the day. Before going to bed that night, I felt like I had my first real wrestle with God during my bedtime prayer. I didn't understand how I had been working so hard and improving so much and then, in the snap of some fingers, it seemed like I had forgotten the basics of talking to people about the gospel. Come Sunday morning, I determined that I wasn't going to let the previous day get me down and that I was going to come back stronger than ever before. In each meeting at church and appointment afterwards, I heard something that helped me realize that I could indeed learn and grow from this experience. Each concern I had about the previous day and how I, personally, could improve was directly addressed by something somebody said or a video they shared or a song we sang. I have a firm testimony that when Heavenly Father tears us down, He will build us back up stronger than before! :)

I love y'all and hope everything's going great in your lives!

<3 Sister Houghton