Monday, July 9, 2018

Goodbye Georgia

Some members tried to teach me about sparklers and ended up helping me decide which clothes I won't be bringing home. 
Hey y'all!

In a few short days, I will be on a plane headed home to take off my nametag - at least for a little while. That being said, this past week was my last full-proselyting week and Sister Harper and I worked hard to make it count! It was a little tricky because it seemed like everybody was out of town thanks to the 4th of July, but we made it a good week. I wish I had a really cool story to tell, but nothing that crazy-cool happened. That's okay, because my theme for the week was that "Heavenly Father works through small and simple things." Every door we knocked matters, every individual we helped move, they won't forget it. I have been so blessed to be a part of this work!

Tonight will be my last few hours of proselyting, and after that I'll be participating in a whirlwind of "departing missionary" events until I get on a plane on Wednesday to fly home. I look forward to seeing a whole bunch of you this week! I love y'all!

Love,
Sister Houghton
1150 Cole Dr SW
Lilburn, GA 30047

Pics:

Each missionary in my district sat on the number of chairs that they have transfers left (back row: Sister Harper, Elder Wood, Hermana Williams, and Elder Roberts, front row: Hermana Oldham, Hermana Rhoton, and me).


Last Monday, Sister Harper and I spent part of our preparation day at a swim meet in our area which a huge portion of our ward was competing in! We were tempted to "fall in" but left without touching the water.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Sweet Land of Liberty



Hermana Rhoton and I had pupusas with the Olivares family in our ward the other day and they were delicious! 
Wow, time is absolutely flying by! It's already Monday again! And it's July!

This week has been here, there, and everywhere, so I'm going to go in order for once! For the most part, Tuesday and Wednesday were missionary work as usual. We did have interviews with our mission president, which took a long time, but he didn't say anything particularly special, so I won't go deeper into that. On Thursday, an amazing member, named Sister Rose, took Sister Harper and I to the airport (Sister Harper flew home for her father's funeral) and then acted as my companion for an hour or two until the Hermanas (who are a trio) could meet up with us to let me steal one of them until Sunday. So, from Thursday evening until Sunday afternoon, my companion was...(drumroll)...Hermana Rhoton! We've been pals our whole mission long (we came out together) so it was a blast! On Saturday afternoon, we had a really cool experience while tracting that I will tell you about in detail later. Yesterday, after church, Hermana Rhoton's companions stole her back and my companion was another amazing member, Sister Coffee, for several hours until we picked Sister Harper up from the airport. So now I'm back with Sister Harper and we are ready to pound the pavement until transfers next week!

Okay, now that you know the gist of my week, I'll tell you some of the fun little details!

1. As we were getting ready for the day on Thursday morning, it was pretty stormy (in Georgia that means it is raining and there is thunder and lightning) outside. Sister Harper likes lightning, but not thunder, so you can imagine her dismay when one lightning strike was accompanied by a very loud, earth-shaking crack of thunder that sounded like it might have exploded a car outside our apartment. Several minutes later, we heard a whole lot of sirens coming up the street. Well, we assumed something had happened nearby and just kept getting ready for the day. Come Saturday night, Hermana Rhoton and I went to check our mail and discovered that the lightning had in fact struck a storage spot in our complex and caught the building on fire (luckily, it's not a residential building, just a row of garages)! There was a whole right through the roof and everything! Yep, that's the most exciting story of my week.

2. On Friday morning, our Area Book App changed a lot. Not as much as it changed last October, but still a lot. For example, we don't "drop" people anymore, we just "stop teaching" them. Also, all the dots of our investigators are the same color now, so it's a little harder to distinguish them on the map and they aren't sorted the same when we look at our list of people we are teaching. Part of why our Area Book system changed so much was to correlate with the new edition of Preach My Gospel (the guidebook to missionary success) that also came out on the Gospel Library App on Friday morning. For the most part, that is the same, although there were some adjustments made to the key indicators (which we've been anticipating since they told us to only keep track of 4 of them since January 2017) and some of the lessons we teach. For any of you who served missions, you might be interested in looking into it! Several doctrines are clarified in the way we are supposed to teach them and I appreciate that very much.

3. Last but not least, I'm finally going to tell you the tracting story I mentioned earlier. Hermana Rhoton and I were tracting in an apartment complex on Saturday morning, and after an hour or so, we met a family from Pakistan, who invited us in from the heat and talked with us for a moment. I think Heavenly Father set up our meeting them more for us than them. The oldest daughter in the family told us their family's story about coming to America to escape religious persecution, and I couldn't help but sit there and think how grateful I am to have been born and live in a land where I have the freedom to live and worship as I choose. It was a serious moment of reflection for me and will be on my mind for the next several days as we here in the United States prepare to celebrate the 4th of July. It's a testimony to me how much God wants us to be able to make and learn from our own choices. Stop and think about it for a minute, okay?

This may be the longest weekly update I've ever written, but I do still have other things to do today, so that's all for now. I hope y'all have a fabulous week and I'll do my best to work hard for the next week or so until I head back home! I love you all!

Love,
Sister Houghton
1150 Cole Dr SW
Lilburn, GA 30047

Atlanta is outside our mission, and so is the airport, so I was shocked to discover that Atlanta is a real city and place as I drove through it a couple of times this week.


Monday, June 25, 2018

Up and Down and All Around

25 June 2018

Hobby Lobby is a great place for store contacting and we find all sorts of random stuff there. 
Hello everybody. This week has had its ups, its downs, and now it has come all around!

We had a couple of really powerful lessons teaching about baptism this week and we are hopeful to see them come to fruition. It's been a busy week, but a good one for missionary work!

On Thursday, I got to be Hermana Houghton for 24 hours with Hermana Oldham and Hermana Rhoton. By the end of the day I could sort of-ish pray in Spanish! We joked that I might get switched to being a Spanish missionary for my last few weeks, but I don't think President Marsh would try to pull that one on me.

Speaking of President Marsh, he called us yesterday after church and told us he would be at our apartment in 3 minutes. We quickly straightened things up and then he came in to deliver the news that Sister Harper's dad had passed away. Sister Harper took it pretty well, but she may or may not be going to his funeral this week (that is yet to be determined), so stay tuned for next week's email. It's made both of us very glad to know the Plan of Salvation that God has laid out for all of us.

So the work is good, but sad things happen, and that is when we have an amazing opportunity to exercise faith and trust in God. I love you all and hope you will take some extra time to appreciate your families this week.

Love,
Sister Houghton
9102 Holland Place
Lawrenceville, GA
30043

The tres hermanas during exercise time!


Try Sharing Your Testimony!

From 18 June 2018
A Sister Houghton original watercolor :)
Hi everybody!

It's been a wild, good day, so I don't have much time to email - sorry! This week has been missionary work as usual and there is still plenty to keep us busy. I'm going to skip story-telling this week and jump right into the good stuff (at least, to me).

Probably the highlight of this past week was Zone Conference on Wednesday. Instead of our usual trainings all day, we mostly just heard a lot of testimonies from our new mission presidency and their wives and all the missionaries departing in July. The Spirit was amazingly strong in the chapel all day and I left wishing it could just go on and on forever! It brought home to me the power of sharing our testimonies, and I've been trying to implement that each and every day since. I hope you all are able to step out of your comfort zone and share your testimonies this week.

Sorry for the brevity. I hope you all have a fantastic week!

Love,
Sister Houghton
9102 Holland Place
Lawrenceville, GA
30043

P.S. Sorry for no pictures either! ๐Ÿ˜…

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Best Problem in the World

There are a lot of these little, bright green lizards in Georgia, and the other day, one rode several miles on our car with us and we also found out it can change colors (it's brown, sitting on the windshield wiper).
Hi everybody!

This week I've been experiencing the best problem in the world! Since the Elders left, our teaching pool of investigators doubled on the first day of the transfer. Our zone goal this transfer is also to find a new investigator every day, so in accordance with that goal, we've been working hard to find and teach new people every single day. Now, we have more people to teach than I can keep track of! And that's my "best problem in the world." I love it. :)

In other news, I got to go on exchange with Hermana Rhoton again this week - it was a blast! Despite the heat, we made it through a day of tracting and miraculously found a solid investigator at one of the last doors we knocked on. This lady has always rubbed shoulders with Mormons, but never had the chance to learn about what we believe. She also has the mind for remembering historical details (especially about the Bible, which she has studied extensively), and when Sister Harper and I taught her on Friday, we were overjoyed when we could answer her questions because of some old, goofy seminary videos we watched last week. It was awesome, and we are excited to follow up with her this week!

That's all for now everybody! It's been a great week, and today we are having a water balloon-based zone activity, which should be fun! Happy mid-June y'all!

Love,
Sister Houghton
9102 Holland Place
Lawrenceville, GA
30043
Tracting in the heat sometimes gets to you, but it's always worth it.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Catching UP!

From 4 June 2018


We get to wear some fancy-schmancy hats where we serve ice cream at an extended care center!


Hello everybody! It has been a crazy-busy week, mostly because we have been trying to meet all the investigators the Elders left behind. Probably the best word to describe it is "hectic." Possibly the best part of the week was that we were able to contact not just one, not just two,...but five investigators on Friday within about 3 hours. It was a miracle!

Besides that, the highlight of my week was stake conference this weekend. Elder Whiting of the General Authority Seventy came and led two (that I went to) very good sessions. He taught us about what it really means to minister and love the people around us as Christ did (well, does). I'm hoping to implement many different ideas he talked about in the coming days and weeks, because missionary work is really about loving the people around me.

Last week, I forgot to tell you about Sister Harper! She is my new companion and is from Ajo, Arizona (nothing to do with garlic, for all you Spanish-speakers). She has been out 9 months and is an amazing teacher who even occasionally laughs at my terrible puns. It's been a fun week getting to know each other as we've been running around trying to figure out our lives. I'm looking forward to the rest of the transfer with her.

Love,
Sister Houghton
9102 Holland Place
Lawrenceville, GA
30043

P.S. News of note from Mom:  Sister Houghton's brother Levi received his mission call to Cordoba Argentina.  Fortunately, we will have almost 3 months between Sister Houghton returning home and Elder Houghton departing! 

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Miracle Sunday and Transfers

From 28 May 2018

It rained and stormed a fair bit this week, so we got plenty wet!
Hey y'all!

Before I get into the details of my week, transfer calls were last night, and I will be getting a new companion, Sister Harper, here in Collins Hill. Sister Fullmer is going to train and whitewash an area a couple of zones over. I'm sad she'll be leaving, but she'll be an excellent trainer and I'm excited for her. Also, the Elders are being taken out of Collins Hill (because the mission's compliment of missionaries is being drastically reduced this summer, so almost every English area is getting cut to one set of missionaries), so it's going to be a crazy next couple of weeks trying to work with twice as many investigators as we have been. Outside of my area, there are even a couple of quads in the mission, and as Zone Leaders. (Normally missionaries go in twos, or occasionally in trios, but now there are a couple of sets of four missionaries because so many people will be finishing their missions in July!)

Besides transfer news, I only really have a couple of things to tell y'all about.

First, I had the opportunity to be an office missionary for a couple of hours on Friday while Sister Fullmer was in her meeting for training. I gotta say, it was a blast! Our office missionaries are mostly senior couples, and they do a lot of the important things that keep the mission going. Plus, they are really fun and love to joke around with us, which makes them twice as cool. Basically, my appreciation for senior couples and office missionaries has grown immensely this week. If you're considering going on a senior couple's mission, I highly recommend it!

Yesterday (Sunday) was something of our miracle day for the week, so I'm going to tell you about it. There is a mission goal to have 10 lessons each week (per companionship), and Sister Fullmer and I have not had trouble hitting that goal in the past. This week, however, was graduation week for the county we work in, so a lot of our regular appointments didn't happen. Yesterday, we were at 9 lessons and none of our investigators were available for a lesson, so we asked Heavenly Father to help us find a lesson while we were out knocking doors. Sure enough, we got knocking, and on our 4th door, we met a couple who were willing to talk with us for a while. In the end, they weren't interested, but kindly told us not to give up and to "keep spreading the Word." Heavenly Father answered our prayer in a way that wouldn't have happened had we not been willing to work toward our goal. That's a lesson I've experienced time and time again on my mission. Just like prayer is a 2-way communication between ourselves and God, oftentimes, the answers to our prayers are a group effort to make them happen - Heavenly Father will set everything up for us if we will just "go and do." The other miracle yesterday was simply that one of our investigators, H, is actually reading and learning from the Book of Mormon! She was writing a paper for her schoolwork, and had the idea to use a verse she had read in the Book of Mormon. She wasn't sure, but felt good about it, so she asked her 10 year-old daughter what she thought about the idea. Basically, both of them felt it would be good, and now, H's professor wants a Book of Mormon! H was excited to share it with him, and is earnestly seeking her own answer about whether or not it is true. Plus, she is going to make us authentic African food this week, and I'm excited for that. :)

Missionary life is good, and I'm learning to look for little miracles every day, which has really helped me see how this work is truly directed by God. I hope you all are also able to recognize the little blessings in your daily lives this week! I love y'all!

Love,
Sister Houghton
9102 Holland Place
Lawrenceville, GA
30043
My district this past transfer: Hermana Williams, Hermana Rhoton, myself, Sister Fullmer, Elder Knight, Elder Salle, Elder Roberts, and Elder Nuffer.
Last but not least, Sister Fullmer out-did herself while serving ice cream at an extended care center where we do service. 

We planned to treat ourselves to BurgerFi the other day and ended up getting it for free!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

When it Rains, It Pours

from 21 May 2018

Hello everybody!

First of all, this week has been a bit more wet than the past few. The humidity has been up and we've had a couple of good thunderstorms while the water dumped out of the sky.

On Tuesday, we got to go to the Temple with most of the missionaries in our zone, which was super fun! Plus, our ride took us to Sweet Tomato afterwards, and that was great too.

All of our top investigators had us in some degree of panic mode on Wednesday. L dropped us, so we got to experience some "missionary whiplash" (as Sister Marsh, our mission president's wife says) and then our other top investigator, J, lost his beloved dog, Bailey, that same night. That was a rough day, but it is over and the week only got better from there.

On Thursday evening, Sister Marsh came up to our area to work with us for the night. We had dinner together and then went tracting, using a family history technique that Sister Marsh has been inventing since last July. It was really cool to see people open up about their ancestors and cultural heritage when we knocked on their doors instead of just telling us they aren't interested in talking religion.

Saturday night capped the week as several sets of us missionaries hosted a "What is the Book of Mormon? Fireside." Although none of our investigators came, a lot of our ward showed up and some investigators came from other wards who meet at our building. One of those investigators even brought a friend who was seriously impressed and asked to learn more after the speakers' portion of the event.

So, it has rained, and it has poured, but life goes on! I've loved recognizing small tender mercies this week, despite several hugely discouraging moments. Satan tries really hard to keep us from being happy, so this week, keep that in mind, and don't let him! I love y'all!

Love,
Sister Houghton
9102 Holland Place
Lawrenceville, GA
30043

Again, sorry for no pictures.  Blogspot is not cooperating!  
Pics: After tracting with Sister Marsh, at the Temple, and missionaries at Sweet tomato! Also, this morning, all the Sisters in the zone went to a Hindu Temple together, and it was a neat experience!

Temperature Rising

from 14 May 2018

Hi y'all! It's been quite a couple of weeks, and there is so much I could tell you about! I'll spare you many of the details and try to just hit the highlights.

Last Monday, I got to play field sports with my zone (about 30 missionaries) and had a blast, despite my slowed pace. We played kickball (I kicked left-footed and somebody else ran for me), frisbee, volleyball, and hot potato! It was sunny, but not too hot, so I survived. My water bottle was quickly drained when we finally went back to the car though. It's been getting toastier and toastier, and the humidity has been kicking in, so we're starting to plan our days to fit in chunks of time with air conditioning or shade. ๐Ÿ˜…

Do you remember L? Well, she is as wonderful as ever. On Wednesday, we were able to teach her with our mission president's wife, and L absolutely soaked up everything we talked about. When we recited the first vision for her, she audibly gasped at the Spirit in the room. I've loved having a front-row seat to her experience learning about the gospel and recognizing the Spirit. We have another appointment with L this week, so I should have more to say next week!

On Thursday, we had the best Zone Conference I've ever been to! President Marsh taught us about something he likes to call "Yellow Pad Prayer" (praying with pen in hand and solutions/answers already written down, looking for confirmation of correct answers - his preferred paper is a yellow, legal pad, which is where it got its name) and a really neat, easier-than-expected, bizarre way to memorize doctrines for various chunks of scripture (Sister Fullmer and I have got the books of 1 Nephi and Jacob down, so we're just waiting for more details from President Marsh to learn everything else in the Book of Mormon and then the New Testament). Sister Marsh led a discussion about motivation, and where it comes from, which inspired me to look at the days differently. I've already seen a huge difference in the few days I've been thinking about it. The other exciting part of Zone Conference was that all of my previous companions who are still in the mission field were there, so it was a big reunion! It was so good to review my mission by talking with them and realizing how much I have changed. Although I never realized it at the time, I have learned so much from each companion I've been with and each ward I've served in. I'm trusting that the pattern will hold true to the end!

Okay, I don't have time to write a novel, but the missionary work is going great and I am excited to keep working here in the Collins Hill Ward. I love y'all!

Love,
Sister Houghton
9102 Holland Place
Lawrenceville, GA
30043

Sorry, the pics won't download this week!  But, here are the descriptors...and the moth was really quite impressive!
Pics: Sister Lu, Sister Hahn, Sister Parsons, Sister Cleveland, myself, and sister Fullmer at Zone Conference (I have not been companions with all of those people, but that's who ended up in the picture), and a moth on somebody's door, which shortly thereafter attached itself to my dress!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Things are Heating Up in Georgia!

It is late in the day and I still have a million things to do, so this is going to be very, very short. We had our Zone activity today, and we just played field games for several hours out in the nice, hot sun! All of us are sporting slightly sunburnt looks, but at least we know it's time to break out the sunscreen when we're out tracting this week.

The highlight of my week was going on exchange with a Spanish Sister who came out with me and being able to observe how we have both changed so much over the course of a year. Being representatives of Jesus christ truly has changed the both of us in many good ways. I am so grateful to be a missionary!

Happy Mothers Day to all the wonderful women I know! I love y'all!

Love,
Sister Houghton
9102 Holland Place
Lawrenceville, GA
30043

Monday, April 30, 2018

Miracles Abounding!

We ate lunch at a beautiful park this week, where we also met a neat lady feeding the geese who were there.
Wow, it has been quite the week in the Collins Hill Ward! The ward here is amazing, for a whole multitude of reasons. It's been super fun getting to know all of them and experiencing their testimonies. Actually, I haven't had a "normal" set of Sunday meetings yet because of some unique opportunities/events happening in the ward. Last Sunday we had a 2-hour "Ministering Conference" and this week we had a professor of marriage therapy (a member of our congregation) lead a discussion with all the adults in the ward for one of our meetings. Next week I should get to see what an average Relief Society meeting is like here, unless something changes. Something I have discovered is that a huge part of our ward are swimmers and water polo players, just like me! I've loved getting to connect with several youth just by talking about some of my favorite things with them!

My companion, Sister Fullmer keeps making me laugh, laughing with me, and laughing at me (only when I deserve it, so far ๐Ÿ˜) - she is great! Plus, she is really good at keeping me humble by pushing me to do a little more each day, which I really appreciate.

I believe I told you last week about a lady we tracted into who was super-amazingly-neat and somewhat of a miracle. Did I call her L? That's what she will be known as here. Well, this week, we got to go see her again. Apparently, she was busy doing some research about us between our visits, and when we first found out about that, we were very nervous, because we assumed it meant she had probably found some serious anti-Mormon literature or something. As it turned out, however, she had actually gone to a "Mormon community" on her pixel-simulation game she does and asked a lady on there about it. Whoever that lady was, she told L all about missionaries and that she should keep meeting with and learning from us! Hooray for that member, wherever she is! L also watched a documentary and read a decent bit of the Book of Mormon, so when we saw her on Friday, she had a list of questions and was prepared to take notes on our discussion. She was thrilled when we told her about Gospel Library, with all its videos, articles, and other resources. Although our appointment went way longer than expected, the Spirit was definitely there as L pondered on the truths we were teaching her. We have another lesson with her on Wednesday, and I can hardly wait to see her again and hear some of her new questions.

Besides L, Sister Fullmer and I have seen a handful of miracles happen as we have followed up with several potential investigators and referrals from other missionaries. This coming week appears to be full of promise and potential and I am excited to see how it goes!

Love,
Sister Houghton 
9102 Holland Place
Lawrenceville, GA 
30043


When it rains in Georgia during the springtime, pollen puddles
form and then the wind blows them down hallways
 in our apartment complex, where they dry! 

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Adventures in Collins Hill

From 23 April 2018
We tracted into somebody while it was raining yesterday from Yugoslavia (which doesn't exist anymore, right?) who gave us candy from her home country! 


Hello world!

As far as my new assignment in Collins Hill with Sister Fullmer goes, I'm loving it! The Collins Hill Ward (located in the towns of Lawrenceville and Suwanee) is geographically about 1/4 the size of the area I just left, so everything is relatively close by. That being said, there are a whole lot of people for us to work with and the ward here is solid. Sister Fullmer is from Chandler, Arizona, comes to my shoulder in height, and has been out for 3 months! She is doing a great job introducing me to the area and people while also helping me return to the basics of missionary work.

We've had a stellar week full of neat little miracles, one of which I am going to tell you about right now! Shortly after the transfer meeting, we got blasted with a handful of "soft referrals" from other missionaries (people who have been contacted and have interest in learning more, but have never been officially taught by missionaries). We were excited and began reaching out to all of them. We went to knock on the door of one of the referrals and it turned out to be the home of some members of our congregation. Even though we were bummed that the referral clearly didn't live there, we decided to knock doors on that street. Only two doors down, we met a lady who told us she had been asleep after spending the night at the hospital with her mother, who she expected to pass away that day or the next. Normally, people don't want to talk to us when we have woken them up from a nap, but Sister Fullmer gave an elevator speech like I have never heard about eternal families and L invited us in right away! We shared a brief lesson with her and left her with a Book of Mormon to read from. She read some that day and told us later that she loved it! Now we are checking in with her periodically until we can see her again (which will probably be after her mother passes away). Mostly it was really, really cool to see how Heavenly Father put us in exactly the right place at exactly the right time to help one of His daughters. He definitely knows what He has us here to do!

Spring has certainly arrived here and things are starting to heat up (although this week has started off somewhat rainy). I hope you all have a wonderful week! Love y'all!

Love,
Sister Houghton
9102 Holland Place Apts.
Lawrenceville, GA 30043


Monday, April 16, 2018

#1 Craziest GANM Transfer

The sun was shining for the Special Olympics on Friday, where our ward helped with the "Athletes in Training" portion of the events (games for younger kids).
Last night, at 10:25 pm, our Zone Leaders sent out a message to all 30+ missionaries in the Zone telling us, "The APs have spoken: stay up late for calls... we will let you know when it is over ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž." Whaaaaaaaaaaat????? So I'm super tired now. Basically everybody in the mission is getting switched up, so the transfer meeting tomorrow is going to be absolutely wild. Well, here's the news I got: I am leaving Winder to go to the Collins Hill Area with Sister Fullmer! All I know about her is that she has been out for 3 months, so it should be super fun getting to know her this week. I'm sad to be leaving Winder, where I know the ward and investigators, but I am also thrilled to get to serve in Collins Hill, where I have actually gone on exchanges several times back toward the beginning of my mission.

On Wednesday I got to have my ankle checked again, which was pretty exciting! I have been approved to transition into an ankle brace instead of my boot, so now I can drive and kind of-ish walk while wear matching shoes! The PA gave me a few pages of exercises to do in order to get my ankle back to full flexibility and I am trying to work them into my daily routine.

As far as missionary work goes, this week we had several opportunities to implement the latest LDS ideal of "ministering." It made my heart sing when I thought about how much God is aware of each of His children. He knows our exact needs, and He often inspires others to fill them so that the benefits go two ways. So, pay attention to promptings to help other people and be blessed yourselves!

I hope you all are enjoying springtime wherever you are! Here in Georgia, everybody was rejoicing over a pounding rainstorm yesterday purely because it was washing away the piles of pollen all over the place. It makes me really, super appreciate the fact that I don't have allergies! Anyway, I love y'all!

Love,
Sister Houghton
(I don't know the Collins Hill address, so here's the mission office!)
1150 Cole Dr. SW
Lilburn, GA 30047


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Wowsers!

from 2 April 2018
This is by far the most impressive picture of my ankle

What a week! 

Shortly after I emailed y'all on Monday, I went to our Zone Preparation Day Activity and promptly sprained my ankle very nicely. I've documented the way it has been changing colors all week, so if you want to see, I can send those to you! The orthopedic urgent care I went to assured me that it is not broken (after x-rays, of course) and put me in a lovely boot, which I can walk in decently. Sister Wagner keeps relearning that I can't walk very fast, although I'm getting there. Because it just so happens to be my right ankle that I sprained, I am not allowed to drive (and walking any significant distance or biking anywhere are out of the question). In combination with the fact that Sister Wagner is not allowed to drive, walk, or bike anywhere either, we aren't able to get out and do much. As  missionaries, that's pretty frustrating because we want to go work, but we're trying to make the most of the situation. Our ward has been very supportive, so we're surviving!

The next exciting bit of the week has been General Conference this weekend! Really, the best way to describe it is that it was truly epic. Life-changing for the world - so world-changing. A new prophet of God was sustained, along with 2 new members of the Quorum of the Twelve, significant changes were made in the way members of the church watch out for one another, and 7 new temples were announced! It really doesn't get much more exciting than that, but what made it really special for me was the way the Spirit testified to me through all of it that this (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) is the Lord's kingdom on the earth. God loves us, and wants to help us learn and grow. That's why we have a prophet on the earth to teach us about receiving personal, divine revelation on a daily basis. That's why Moses, Elias, and Elijah visited the Kirtland Temple to restore the keys of the Priesthood so that all mankind can receive the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That's why success is not in perfection, but in growing from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm. Most importantly, that's why He sent His Son, to live a perfect, meek life. To suffer, bleed, die, and live again, all for us. So we can become better people and better ministers each and every day of our lives, as we do the small and simple things. Each of us has the opportunity to "Behold the man," the Son of God, working with us to help us return to live with God, who loves us so, So, SO much. And when I say "us," I mean every single person on earth. It truly is a glorious gospel to get to share with people each day. I can't imagine a better way to get to spend Easter Sunday than in learning more about God's marvelous plan for me and you and all of us.

That's really all I have to tell you about, but it still feels like a lot. I hope you all will follow the prophet, seek more inspired direction from the Holy Spirit in your lives, and become a Christlike minister as best as you can. I love you all!

Love,
Sister Houghton
276 Springdale Dr.
Apt. 7 
Winder, GA 30680

Pics:  Pretty much all of my pictures this week are of my ever-so-colorful foot, so here's my x-ray (one of three - I never saw the other two).

Monday, March 26, 2018

#ldsconf


Yay for cars!



Springtime means the bugs are
coming out in Georgia!
Hello world! Not very much has happened this week, so instead I'm going to tell you all about how I ended up on a mission!

2.5 years ago, my older sister, Marta, was on her mission in Mexico City. It was the week before General Conference and she challenged me to come up with 3 questions I wanted answers to. Well, I could only come up with one. As a 17 year-old freshman in college, I was trying to figure out my plans for schooling and career and I decided that if an 18-month, full-time mission was going to be in the mix of things, then I should probably know that sooner rather than later. My one question, therefore, was, Should I go on a mission? That Saturday, conference weekend began. I anxiously listened to the announcements and speakers (after all, they are the living Prophet and Apostles), and toward the end of the day, a certain Elder Martino stood up to speak. The address he gave was titled, "Turn to Him and Answers Will Come." I felt the Spirit witness to his words, which directed earnest seekers of truth to turn to Heavenly Father in prayer, with real intent, and answers would indeed come! That night, I decided to act on that counsel, and sure enough, I felt the confirming witness of the Spirit that I should leave my life behind for 18 months to go and serve the Lord and my fellowman. I am deeply grateful to Marta for issuing me the challenge to have questions all those months ago. Since General Conference is this weekend, I invite each of you to write down some questions you have (at least one) and then pay attention to the whispering of the Holy Spirit as you listen to the inspired counsel given to us by God's chosen servants. The things you hear from them will answer your questions or at least teach you how to obtain answers to your questions. That is one of the great blessings of having a living prophet and apostles on the earth today - through them, Heavenly Father can direct not just one person at a time (which He does every day), but the whole world at once. I'm excited to see what direction the Lord gives us for our day, and I hope you are too! And General Conference falls on Easter weekend, which is a whole other added bit of excitement and gratitude to Heavenly Father (which I will address next week).

Have a fantastic week this week! I love y'all!

Love,
Sister Houghton
276 Springdale Dr
Apt. #7
Winder, GA 30680


Monday, March 19, 2018

Happy Hard Work Holidays!

19 March 2018


The Winder/Fort Yargo missionary crew

Hello everybody! Every week I sit down to write this email, and every week I experience a "stupor of thought" as I review what's been happening and what I've been learning as a missionary here in Georgia. There are always good, happy memories, and hard, happy memories. Missionary work (ask anyone who has served a mission) is no easy thing, but it is always a happy thing because everything we missionaries do is centered on spreading the joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as much as we can!

This week has been one of hard, happy memories. We talked with lots of strangers, found some people to teach, and a whole bunch of them decided not to be taught any more. There's agency (the ability to choose for oneself) for you! One of the hard things about being a missionary is that I know how much the restored gospel of Jesus Christ can bless any individual on the planet (and through them, their family and friends and everyone they know), but all I can do is invite them to learn more and act on the truths they are taught by the Holy Ghost. Ultimately, it is up to them to choose to have the peace of the gospel. It saddens me when the people we teach decide not to have that in their lives, but it doesn't change how much God loves them, so I trust he'll take care of them.

So far, this has been a very serious email. Let me tell you about a good, happy occasion from this week. Every Friday morning, we go help out at an adult day center, just working on crafts and then preparing the tables for lunch. One of the regulars there always asks us if we know who he is, and we always respond with, "Chuck Norris!" (His name is not Chuck Norris) He then proceeds to tell us, "That's right, I'm Chuck Norris! I'm tough, and I'm strong!" Well, on Friday we went through the same conversation and, when the room was unusually quiet for a moment, one of the workers there got him started singing the song "I'll Fly Away," which is a hymn (I'm not sure if it's Baptist, Methodist, or something else). The whole room was smiling as he sang, not one, not two, but three verses at the top of his lungs. As he sang that hymn, giving glory to God, the Spirit filled the room in a very tangible way. I was beaming as I hummed along.

Weatherwise, spring is coming but we get bits and pieces of winter every few days/hours. Georgia has lots and lots of flowers and, lately, we've had lots of snacks while out contacting and tracting because there are pecan trees all over the place! We even found a nutcracker in our apartment the other day, so now we don't have to step on the pecans to crack the meat out of the shells.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you about the holidays of the week! On Wednesday, for Pi Day, I had a pot pie for dinner while on exchange with one of the Sister Training Leaders, and on Saturday, I made sure to wear green. We were actually doing some family history work on Saturday morning, and it just so happened that the family line I randomly chose to start working on was Irish! I was super excited, given that it was St. Patrick's Day.

Well, that's all for now folks! Missionary work is going and there's always lots to do. I love you all and hope you have a fantastic week this week!

Love,
Sister Houghton
276 Springdale Dr.
Apt. 7 
Winder, GA 30680


You'll never guess what I finally got around to...making pbebfernรธddex! There are 3 containers in my cabinet,
1 of which is very well hidden and disguised as Gatorade. 

A Week of Work

From 12 March 2018

We found this sign in downtown Winder and had to take pictures with it.


Well, it's been a pretty usual week of work in Winder. We visited and taught a bunch of people and carried on the normal routine of missionary work.

The absolute highlight of the week was a lesson we had with one of our investigators, named M. She has been meeting with the missionaries for about 3 months now, and we have recently had some serious breakthroughs with her, just in terms of helping her understand what we're teaching. On Wednesday evening, we went over and let her choose a topic for us to learn about from the Book of Mormon. She chose hope, so we read the story of Alma the Younger with her. As we read about Alma's converting experience with the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the Spirit was very strong, and M was able to recognize it. She didn't decide to be baptized right then and there, but it was wonderful to see how God teaches His children small and simply truths in small and simple ways.

I know this is relatively short, but that's really all there is to tell you about this week. I love you all and hope you are able to feel the peace of the Spirit at some point this week.

Love,
Sister Houghton
276 Springdale Dr.
Apt. 7 
Winder, GA 30680

Sometimes animals go tracting with us, and it's awesome. 
One of our ward missionaries turns 80 this week, so we were invited to a big party to meet some of his nonmember friends, but there was also a great chance to drive a cardboard car (a past-time of mine ;) ).

All the Sisters

From 5 March 2018
Athens Sisters + Sister Marsh


It has been quite the week, but before I tell you about it, I'll update you on transfers, because I've already been in Winder for 6 weeks now! Actually, it's pretty straightforward, because I am staying here with Sister Wagner. That's all of the update. Okiedokie.

Athens Zone @ the Temple
Tuesday morning got our week off to a great start when we had 3 new investigators by noon! One of them was actually a lady I briefly taught back in Athens who recently moved to Winder and loves reading about Nephi. She's older and may or may not be all there mentally, but I love seeing how Heavenly Father is aware of her and her needs. It's a good reminder to me that He is aware of all our needs! The other new investigators we found are the parents of a young family with such great faith in God. They each have an awesome perspective on the importance of families being centered in the gospel and so many good questions. As we talked with them, they kept having more and more questions, which they eagerly anticipate answers to. Sister Wagner and I are excited to teach all these precious children of God!

Athens Sisters @ Breakfast



On Wednesday, we hopped in the car with some Sisters in the branch above our ward and headed over to Sandy Springs, Georgia, where we had brunch with all the Sisters in the Zone and then headed to the Temple! I had printed 6 names that needed a certain ordinance done, and because of the timing of things, we (myself and some of the other missionaries) were able to get 5 of them done, which was a wonderful tender mercy to me. Also, the Temple is such a peaceful place. It was good to just sit and not have a care in the world for a short while.

From Wednesday night to Thursday morning, we stayed in the mission home in Lilburn (note to Levi: President Marsh may be challenging your position as primary popcorn maker and consumer). It was a good time chatting with other Sisters and President and Sister Marsh.

Then there was Thursday. We spent most of Thursday at a Mission Sisters Conference, where all of the Sisters in the mission got together for special trainings and whatnot. We did (no joke) yoga, coloring, skin care, and some more spiritual trainings on grit, grace, problem-solving, studying our Patriarchal Blessings, and "linking instead of ranking." Overall, I think it achieved the desired effect, and I personally walked away with lots of ideas to try applying in my everyday missionary work. On the way back to Winder, we stopped at a Dwarf House Chick-fil-a for dinner and by the time we were home, it was time to get ready for bed!

The rest of the week has been a wild blur. Here's the good news though: I have lots of pictures from this week. I'll attach a few of them. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Well, I hope you all are having a great week and that everything is peachy! Spring has sprung here and everybody with allergies is feeling it real good. I love you lots!

Love,
Sister Houghton
276 Springdale Dr
Apt. 7 
Winder, GA 30680

Monday, February 26, 2018

Learning, learning, learning!

Homemade laundry detergent (the actual cleaner is white/clear, but the jars were purple and green, so it looks more fun!


Hello everybody!

Not too much craziness has happened this week, so there's not much to tell. However, I will do my best to share some tidbits I've learned in the past 7 days. First, I learned to not collect too many dishes. We were helping a lady unpack her mother's dishes into her mother's house, and there were about 8 boxes (2'x2'x4') of various dishes. They were great dishes, but I have promised myself I will never be a collector of dishes. Second, I learned that I would not make a very good mission president. During my interview with President Marsh this week, he had me try to answer my own questions the way he would, and I had nothing. That's why I am just a missionary right now. Third, I learned about a really good Mexican restaurant in Winder that is very close to where we live. It's called Speedy Burrito, and Sister Wagner and I have decided it is our new favorite. Fourth, I learned (at Stake Conference) about what a powerful impact the Spirit can have in helping people come to Christ. Several young single adult recent converts were asked to share their testimonies and experiences joining the church. Even though each of them experienced a lot of opposition from loved ones, they felt the Spirit and knew that they wanted it more than anything else, so they took the leap of faith to be baptized. Fifth, I learned how to make my own laundry detergent and other cleaning supplies at a Relief Society activity we attended with an investigator. The sixth thing I learned deserves its own paragraph. (I promise I learned a lot of other stuff this week, these are just the things which most immediately come to mind).

I think I mentioned this last week, but lately, I have been studying lots of addresses by President Russell M. Nelson, who is God's living prophet on the earth today. This week I have noticed a sort of theme, centered on where we should be focusing our efforts. Several months ago, I had the opportunity to talk with a member of the Quorum of the Seventy, and the only question I could think of to ask him was something along the lines of where/how should I be focusing my efforts in changing myself? Well, his answer was to be focused on the now, rather than the later. As I've been studying President Nelson's talks this week, I have been drawn to some key words. He talks a lot about focusing more on what we are to be than on what we are to do. So that's what has been on my mind this week, and I am going to be doing my best to get out of the rut of what I am to do, and center my thoughts and actions more on what I am trying to be and become. We'll see how it goes!

The week ahead is going to be full of exciting stuff, so stay tuned! I love you all!

Love,
Sister Houghton

The Birds are Back!

From 19 February 2018

 On Tuesday, a sweet family in the ward fed us only heart-shaped foods in honor of Valentine's Day
Okay, so fun fact about Georgia. Just about a year ago, when I got here, I was surprised by not only the number and variety of birds, but also how vocal they all are. Well, I didn't notice it, but the birds flew south for the winter and it was blissfully quiet for a few months. Somehow, I think they all arrived back at the same time, because this week they have been singing with plenty of volume each morning!

In other news, it's been a good week in Winder. We met some neat people and had some really great lessons with several of our investigators. The ward here is awesomely supportive of missionary work, so it often feels like there is a whole team of missionaries in the area rather than just the two sets of us. To me, everything we did seemed pretty normal, so sorry for not having any cool stories to share.

The highlight spiritual experience of my week has been from my personal study of Elder/now-President Nelson's conference addresses since he became an apostle. My favorite talk thus far was from April 1988, titled "With God Nothing Shall Be Impossible." It has been a great reminder to me of how, really, anything and everything is possible if my faith is centered in my Heavenly Father and His purpose to help all mankind find "immortality and eternal life" (Moses 1:39). It's a very encouraging thought for me as a missionary, since I strive to do what some people consider "impossible" every day!

I hope you all will find enough faith to do the impossible this week and see miracles happen in various aspects of your lives. I love you all!

Love,
Sister Houghton 
 

Last Monday, after I emailed y'all, we had a Sister's Preparation Day doing tie-dye,