Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Training Wheels

From 25 September 2017

 Our car didn't want to start yesterday (which is part of why we are sitting at a Nissan dealership for email time).
And Sister Nielson! :)
Apparently my group email last week got lost on the interwebs, so I apologize to anybody who was thrown off by that. It was such a good email too! If the title could have carried over, I would use it this week, but it doesn't. Maybe next time!

Alright, so the last any of y'all heard, we were gearing up for Hurricane Irma. It came and not a whole lot happened. All the missionaries in the Georgia Atlanta North Mission stayed inside for the day and we were all fine. The most that happened in Athens was downed tree limbs and power outages. In fact, the other sisters in our district lost power, so we had 4 of us at our apartment for the night. It was pretty fun getting to work together to still use our time productively, even though we couldn't go out at all.

Sister Johnson and me, stoked for a day of baptisms and contacting!
The next exciting thing that happened is that we found out Sister Johnson would be training this transfer, so I got to spend a day with Sister Thorn (my trainer) working in the UGA Young Single Adult Branch while our companions went to the meeting for *all the people who are training this transfer. (*You'll understand why this star is here later on in the email). 

Will got baptized!
That Saturday, Will got baptized! We were pretty worried when he didn't show up until half an hour after the baptism was supposed to happen, but our awesome Ward Mission Leader, Brother Ross (whose cousin is married to my cousin, coincidentally) helped us keep an eternal perspective and everything worked out! After the baptism, we got to go contacting for the rest of the day on UGA campus with a whole bunch of other missionaries for the UGA v. Samford football game. It was much less stressful than the first game we went to, mostly because I had a better idea of what was going on. We talked to lots of people and had a blast! Plus, this time, I didn't get sunburnt! :)

On Sunday, Sister Johnson and I were pretty stressed for two reasons. #1, Will didn't get confirmed, even though he was there for *most* of Sacrament Meeting (he did get confirmed yesterday, so now he's officially a Mormon!). #2, transfer calls were that night. Or so we thought. We waited and waited and waited. At 10:29, we got a text telling us that we would get our call on Monday morning. Normally, transfer calls are over by about 8:30 on Monday morning. So we waited. And waited. And waited some more. At 10:30, we got a call from a Utah number, which turned out to be President Marsh. (*This is where that little star comes in). What could President Marsh have to tell us? Well, let it suffice to say that my new companion's last area was the Missionary Training Center in Provo. Yep. I'm training, again! Except this time, I am doing the whole process, instead of just the last half. After President Marsh told me I would be training, we finally got out transfer call from the Assistants. Sister Johnson is training while opening a new area for Sisters in Gainesville, and I am still in Athens 1st Ward, also training! We were sad that we wouldn't be companions for longer, but we were also excited to see what these new companions would teach us!

Okay. Now you know all the stuff about last week. This week is coming up next!

By Tuesday morning, Sister Johnson had packed in record time for sisters (it only took her about an hour), and we were headed to the mission office. After the long drive to the mission office in Lilburn, we got to sit in on a testimony meeting for the departing missionaries (which included my trainer, Sister Thorn). Then, we finally got to find out who our new companions are! My companion is Sister Nielson, from Fruit Heights, Utah (that's by Lagoon, by the way). She is my first companion who is at least my height (in fact, we are the same height!) and she has a powerful testimony of Jesus Christ and the power he can give each of us as we turn to him. I have learned a lot from her already and we have only been companions for 6 days! She knows her stuff and we have been enjoying learning more about missionary work together.

Missionary life has continued since then! We find, we teach, and then we typically do lots more finding, but it has been a party! On Saturday, we got to go contacting before another football game (UGA v. Mississippi State, which are both bulldogs, by the way). Sister Nielson did better than I did, and we talked to lots and lots of people (again)! Afterwards, we got to watch the Women's Session of General Conference, which was stellar. I highly recommend that you watch it or read it (whichever you choose). If I wasn't sitting in a Nissan dealership waiting for our car to get fixed right now, I would tell you more about the highlights, but as it is, you might just have to look it up. :/

That's all for this week! I hope you are all doing well and that you are all choosing to be glad each and every day!

Sister Houghton
Athens, GA 30605

Part of the game crew last week

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Hurricane, a Prophetess, and a Baptism

Hello Irma! Don't worry, this was before we were supposed to be indoors for the rest of the day. Now we are in! :)
So, as many of you know, Hurricane Irma is pretty big. That is pretty much all we missionaries have heard about for the past few days. My area is only exeriencing a "tropical storm" (that means lots of rain and some pretty strong wind), but we may or may not have power when we get home today. My mission president is periodically letting us know whether or not we should be outside for a few hours at a time. It's fun stuff here in Athens, but I know it isn't so fun in other places, so Sister Johnson and I are praying hard for everybody experiencing the real storm. 

Now I will tell y'all about the Prophetess we tried to teach this week. And when I say "tried," I mean it. Basically, we went to teach this lady, and she spent over an hour telling us about all the revelations she has received and even acted out a few of them. Yep, it was a unique experience for us missionaries, and it helped remind me how grateful I am to have grown up knowing that I can receive personal revelation directly from God. We probably won't go teach her again, but that is one "lesson" I will never forget!

Really the best news of the week is that our investigator, Will, is getting baptized on Saturday! He is 15 and was the first one to show interest in the church in his family. His mom was baptized last month, right before I got here, and it has been a wonderful opportunity to get to know and teach them both. The gospel has helped them turn their lives around, and it is a privilege to be able to witness the peace the gospel has brought them. Plus, helping Will along his journey has really helped me see what missionary work is all about and given me a renewed sense of energy for what I do all day every day!

That's all of the big stuff for this week, but in other news, we had Stake Conference this weekend, and it was a wonderful thing! The Stake President called on a whole bunch of people to share their testimonies on the spot, and it made me ponder on what I would share if given that kind of opportunity to testify to thousands of people at once. The conclusion I came to is that I would want everybody to know my testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ. As part of Heavenly Father's plan for us, we all have to experience difficult, hard, things, but we do not have to go through those things feeling alone. Jesus Christ made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can learn from trials and return to live with God again. Just thought I would put that out there for all the people who are not in my mission right now. :)

I love you all and hope you have a great week! I hope you will all take opportunities to serve those around you, especially given all the crazy disasters happening around the world right now. (Mosiah 2:17)

Sister Houghton
Athens, GA 30605

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Moonshine and M&M's

From 28 August 2017

Sister Johnson and I cleaned our car so well that we won gift cards for ice cream! Plus, you know how I love pizza (I didn't order it though, somebody got it for us!). :)

This is what Sister Johnson sent home this week in her group email, and I feel like it is a pretty accurate representation of how this week went, so enjoy!

"Sister Houghton and I had some pretty cool experiences this week, but before I tell you about them I have to explain the name of my group email.  So on Thursday evening Sister Houghton and I are just walking through a little neighborhood and knocking on some doors, you know the usual missionary work.  Well we come across this lady who is trimming some flowers down in front of her house, so we go up and start talking to her.  She knew who we were and everything and wasn't interested but she kept talking to us about the flowers that she was trimming.  She was telling us that she had good luck with the moonshine flowers:  Well at this point I am trying not to cry of laughter because in my head I was like, 'I'm pretty sure that moonshine is a type of alcohol??????'  Here we are as missionaries trying to share the gospel but instead we end up talking about alcohol, so classic.  [This was not intentional on my part, by the way.]  So then Saturday rolls around and Sister Houghton and I are store contacting.  So my companion goes up to this girl in the candy section and looks right at her and loudly [boldly] says, 'What's your favorite candy?'  No joke the girl turns around and walks away sooooo fast and blatantly ignores my companion.  Well Sister Houghton was in shock, you buys should have seen her face, her jaw dropped to the floor and she was super red.  I felt bad cause there are other people in the candy aisle so I just pretend that she was talking and me and I was like [after a brief pause in time], 'I would have to say my favorite candy is M&M's.'  At this point I can't keep it together anymore because I thought it was hilarious.  I was literally DYING!!  Like I had tears in my eyes crying because I was laughing so hard, and I couldn't stop.  It is a good thing that it was time to head home because I honestly could not stop laughing. . .especially because I kept replaying the whole situation in my head over and over again, which made it like twenty times funnier.  So Classic!!"

Hence the subject line.  Also, you should all meet Sister Johnson someday.  She is hilarious and we have all sorts of fun together every day!

Really, the only other exciting thing that happened to me this week is that I got to ride a member's cargo bike!  It was super neat and she uses it to transport herself and her 4 children under the age of 7 around town every day!  At 11 feet long, that thing is just plain awesome!

That's all for this week.  Sorry if the formatting turned out super weird on this one.  I hope you all have a wonderful week!


Sister Houghtons
4315 Lexington Road, Apartment 12-F
Athens, GA  30605

Contacting on campus.

How to Survive Humidity 101

From 21 August 2017

We have to go back into the heat?

When you help a member clean and they get you Sonic milkshakes afterwards- yay! 

It can't be done. Just kidding! It can. Anybody can survive humidity. Although, sometimes, it is necessary to stop and try to figure out how to breathe water. And then you have to make yourself drink some water, even though you might not have the slightest inclination to do so.

Ok. So this week has been really warm and really humid, and somehow, we got to spend all the hot parts of the days outside and the cool parts inside, but that is okay, because I found some sunscreen and got to be really friendly with my water bottle.

UGA campus on the second day of classes! 

Last Tuesday after district meeting, Sister Johnson and I had the chance to go to the University of Georgia campus to contact people at a booth put on by the YSA Branch Sisters! There were 12 missionaries talking to people, and I learned that I have a lot to learn about street contacting. Luckily, I will have plenty of chances to learn because we will probably be doing that at least once a week (for anywhere between 3 and 6 hours at a time) while I am here! Fun times!

The things you find while tracting...
Other than that, we did a lot of the same missionary work that is pretty normal. We knocked on doors, helped with some service projects, and taught a good number of new people! Actually, on Thursday, we had spent the greater part of the day outside knocking doors and pretty much nothing good had happened all day. We were tired and not very excited, but we decided that we were going to be happy anyway, because that is what missionaries do! We made it through the afternoon and went to our dinner appointment, which was refreshingly not stressful (food + young family + good video = happy dinnertime). When we left, we headed to an appointment with a lady who had been referred to us by two sets of Elders. Upon our arrival, we didn't really know what to expect, and when we sat down, it looked like she might want to bash, but it turned out that she was super open and really interested in understanding where we are coming from. She committed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon and we even got a return appointment for this week (those are rare things here)! As we drove to give the car to the Elders for the next day, we were overjoyed and decided that it was a blessing resulting from our hard work earlier in the day. Moral of the story: choose to be happy and patient and life will get better over time!

The next cool thing that happened this week was yesterday when we got to church. As we pulled up, we saw President and Sister Marsh (Mission President and his wife) standing outside our building talking with someone. Well, that someone turned out to be Elder Costa of the Seventy, who decided to visit (of all the wards in the mission) Athens 1st Ward before heading back to Salt Lake! Sister Marsh introduced us and we had a pretty powerful Sacrament Meeting with him there, even though his whole talk/focus was not really related to missionary work. Good stuff!

Well, I hope you are all having a wonderful week and that everybody is ready to start heading back into the school year! Don't die in the heat or humidity and drink lots of water! Also, don't look at the sun too much today. Unless you have cool eclipse glasses. I'll send pictures of mine next week (thank you members!)

Sister Houghton
4315 Lexington Rd
Apt. 12-F
Athens, GA 30605

A Good First Week

From 14 August 2017

Sister Johnson and I are having a blast!

Hello all!

First of all, congratulations to my sister, Marta, and her new husband Jeff! They got to be sealed for eternity this morning and I am sad I missed it but so excited for the both of them. 

What a week in Athens! So, first of all, you need to know that Athens is a college town (University of Georgia), so the ward here is largely made of young married couples with small children. Almost all the rest of the people are well-established older couples who know how to rock the country life. We are teaching a lot of people and I am having a blast getting to know all of them! There are also a lot more bugs here than there were in Woodstock. And the ants bite. And it might be slightly more humid here. But it is all good!

My new companion is Sister Johnson, and she is amazing! She is taking over the area after just 6 weeks in the mission field. Technically I am training her, but she is all set as a missionary, so that is great! Sister Johnson is from Idaho Falls and the first child in her family to serve a mission. Her whole story for coming on a mission is awesome, but too long for me to type it out, so you'll just have to ask her about it if you ever get the chance to meet her! Sister Thorn (my trainer) is in my district, along with one of the Elders from my MTC district, so getting to know my new district has been pretty easy and a lot of fun!

We share a car with the Elders in our ward, but they very kindly let us have it 5 days a week, and the other 2 days we are on bike. The area is relatively flat and Sister Johnson knows where all the sidewalks are so we have been able to avoid riding on the sides of the highways. :)

It has been a good week getting to know Athens 1st Ward! I hope you all have a fantastic week and that all is well with y'all!

Sister Houghton
4315 Lexington Rd.
Apt. 333
Athens, GA

Also, some ward members have a whole room devoted to missionaries, so I had my picture taken (in said room) to be printed out and put up with all the other missionaries who have gone before me!

Pics: Sister Johnson and I having a blast! 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Trust God Enough to Trust Yourself

From 7 August 2017

Biking with a package can get pretty exciting, and that was before we had to get up 2 flights of stairs!
It was all worth it though! Thank you Mom! :)

I have so much to tell y'all!

It all started on Wednesday night, when Sister Evans and I noticed a missed call from the Assistants! We quickly called them back and they informed us that I will be training this transfer! I'm not gonna lie- I was totally thrown off because I thought for sure Sister Evans was going to be training. Well, that made me pretty nervous, but all I could do was wait until the meeting for trainers on Friday morning.

Trainers' Meeting!
7 of the 11 trainers plus Sister Marsh.
Come Friday morning, I was on my way to the Mission Office (my first time there!) to find out what exactly goes into training a new missionary. There were 11 sisters there and quite a few more elders than that. It was super intimidating, because there was one sister there who, as President Marsh said, "is a legend" because she has trained a bunch of times already and 4 of her trainees are also training this transfer! Nonetheless, the meeting was awesome because we mostly just talked about what goes into a successful companionship of missionaries (service, listening, smiling, etc.). I was hoping to get more information about where and who I would be training, but, alas, somebody forgot to put that in the minutes! Just kidding. I did have to wait until transfer calls, though.

Fast forward through a few days of missionary work (biking in the hot humidity, talking to people, walking, talking to more people, going to church, teaching people, etc.) and it was finally Sunday (yesterday) night! Time for transfer calls! Well, at about 9:42, the Assistants finally called to tell us what is going on! I am going to Athens 1st Ward, to "step-train" Sister Johnson! That means she has already been in the field for 6 weeks, which takes a lot of stress off of my shoulders. Athens 1st Ward has the University of Georgia in it (where Sister Thorn is finishing and Sister Evans came from), but is a family ward, so it should be lots of fun! Also, it is clear across the mission and is the largest area with sisters in it, so that's going to be fun! Sister Evans will be staying in Allatoona and a sister who came out at the same time as I did will be coming in. We are both feeling good about transfers and I am mostly packed already (with 3 hours to spare!)!

Okay, so you may be wondering about the title of this week's email. Well, all the craziness I just told you about had me really stressed because I don't feel like I am half the missionary I need to be in order to help somebody else figure it all out. On Friday afternoon/evening, however, I realized that part of trusting in God (Proverbs 3:5-6 is my favorite!) is trusting in His trust in us. As President Monson said, "Whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies." If anybody knows what we are capable of, it is our Heavenly Father, and He will not set us up to fail, only to learn and grow and, ultimately, succeed. As I have pondered this over the past few days, I have come to realize that, not only does Heavenly Father know what He is doing, but that training my companion really won't be any different than working with any other missionary, because every successful companionship is founded on the same principles. What are those principles? Well, faith, hope, charity, diligence, obedience, and service, to name a few. That's why I am not letting myself be stressed anymore. Heavenly Father will not let any good thing pass by as long as I am doing my best. That much I know. Every little thing is gonna be alright! :)

My new address is below. Missionaries love mail! :)

I hope y'all have a great week and that you are able to see just how much Heavenly Father trusts you.

Sister Houghton
4315 Lexington Rd.
Apt. 6-C
Athens, GA

Sister Evans and I with the volunteers at a local soup
 kitchen we have been working with. :)
The Fagres are the best Ward Missionaries ever!
Brother and Sister Moore are super sweet, so we had to get a picture with them.
Sister Evans and I with Sister Meincke, who has been
helping us learn how to do family history work
(per instruction from the mission president).