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!

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!

Sister Houghton 

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

A Wild Ride In Winder!

From 12 February 2018
Taco Bell in the Georgia Atlanta Mission

Zone Nerf war
Although I never rode in a taxi this week, we did drive A LOT. Let me explain:
  • Monday: After I emailed y'all, we drove to Athens for a nerf
  • war with the zone (no guns, just PVC pipes + our lungs) and back. Then we biked for the evening.
  • Tuesday: I got to ride to Athens again to begin my exchange with Sister Germann back in my old area of Athens 1st. We only saw 1 person I knew, but it was an interesting experience to be back in such a familiar place, and we drove plenty!
  • Wednesday: This drive was from Athens to Lilburn for a lovely zone conference. In fact, it was probably the best one I've had on my mission! We learned about getting contact information, righteous judgment, pride/humility, being bold, obedience, and the importance of fellowshippers. All in a few short hours. Then we drove back to Winder! 
  • Thursday: Sister Wagner and I left the mission (with permission) for some doctors appointments just below my last area. In our journeyings, we met not one, not two, but three sets of missionaries from the Georgia Atlanta Mission. It was interesting to get a glimpse of the GAM culture. 
  • Friday: really where all the driving ends. We stayed pretty close to home for most of the day since we had to do our weekly planning.
After biking in the mist
  • Saturday: Back to the bikes! In 100% humidity/mist and rain! 🚲 Actually, it was pretty awesome. People tend to be nicer when they see us out in the rain. Although, I think I have developed a new facial expression from trying to see while having water fly at my face off the road.
  • Sunday: Still on bikes, but we did manage to get to and from church in cars. I'm telling you, this ward is awesome!

So now that you know my whole transportation situation, you may be wondering what I actually did this week. Well, as I mentioned, a significant portion of my week was spent driving, on exchange, at zone conference, biking, and at doctor's offices. However, when we weren't doing those things, there was lots of other work getting done. For example, we went out and knocked doors, taught lots of lessons, and as a result of daily contact, one of our investigators who has been nervous about coming to church actually came! Yay! And she loved it! Basically it's been a wild ride in Winder!

Spiritual highlight of the week: At our zone conference on Wednesday, President Marsh informed us that Elder Andersen (of the Quorum of the Twelve) wants all the missionaries in the Southeastern US to focus on knowing the New Testament as well as we know the Book of Mormon. Accordingly, I have started a new study of the New Testament and found so much good stuff in there! Mostly, I have been impressed by how much our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, want us to find peace in this life and the life to come. That is why we have the gospel of Jesus Christ, is to help us find peace. Study up and let your soul be filled with the peace the Savior can help you find!

I love you all and hope you have a great week!


Monday, February 5, 2018

Week 2 in Winder

The Winder Ward missionaries (Elder Parrish, Elder Judd, myself, and Sister Wagner)

Hi everybody!

As I think back on this week, it doesn't seem like all that much has happened, but really, we've been pretty busy! With what, you might ask? Well, we had some meetings, interviews with our mission president, lots of lessons to teach, family history to do, and people to find. It's been peachy!

The highlight of my week has been our visits with 2 of our investigators, B+K. They are such seekers of truth and have a real desire to figure out whether all this stuff we are teaching them about is true. Part of why teaching them is so great is that we haven't done it alone yet. Obviously, as missionaries, we always try to teach with the companionship of the Spirit, but on top of that, one of the families in the ward, has become almost like family for B+K, who are at a rough stage in their lives. The S family not only has them in their home for every teaching appointment, but also allows them to live in their camper trailer in their front yard. Brother S is in the Winder Ward bishopric and thinks in a way very similar to B, so he answers almost all of his questions. Sister S treats B+K like her own children by doing everything she possibly can to help them with whatever they need. Meanwhile, the S children beat us to saying hello to and welcoming B+K when they arrived at church yesterday! "If all [families] had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto [the S family]" the world would be a much happier place for us all to live in! Anyway, I am excited to continue working with B+K and for them to find the answers they are looking for in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I'll let the pictures explain the rest of my week!

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



District Meeting!

Biking in the Rain

From 29 January 2018
Out tracting with Sister Wagner!

Hello from Winder!

Nothing to crazy had happened this week, so I'm just gong to tell you all some fun little details about my life as a missionary in Winder.

My companion, Sister Wagner, is from Boise, Idaho and only my second companion to be as tall as I am. She came out on her mission just 3 months after I did, so we have lots of mission stories to share back and forth. She sings like an angel and is amazingly diligent in getting work done. Plus, she is teaching me how to really study in the mornings. I love that I get to work with her this transfer!

Image result for winder, gaSo the first thing Sister Wagner get told me about Winder is that it is the meth capitol of Georgia. Woohoo! Fun times ahead, right? As far as missionary work goes, this area is actually hoppin'. We have a lovely long list of people to teach and a lot of people are actually home to answer their doors. Also, it turns out we actually cover 2 wards here! Each ward has a set of Elders, and we primarily work in Winder, but we also work with people in the Fort Yargo Ward on a referral basis. Mostly it's fun because we always have people to work with. Adding to the fun is the fact that we are in a 3-way car-share with all the Elders in our area, so most of the time, we are biking. Luckily we live pretty close to the church, library, downtown Winder, and pretty much all of the important places. Plus everything is relatively flat, so that's nice too. Because we don't have the car on Sundays and had to get to the building early for meetings yesterday, we biked in the rain to church. Honestly, I ended up being less wet than expected. However, by the time church was over, it was absolutely pouring and everybody we passed in the hallway asked if we were planning on biking home in the deluge. We told them all that we hadn't decided yet until some of them got together and found a ride for us before we could find it for ourselves. Moral of the story, this ward is the bomb-dot-com. Plus, pretty much everybody in our ward is somehow related to everybody else. #RealFamilyWard

On a more spiritual note, this week I have been learning about actively choosing to have charity for the people around you. As a missionary, I get to work with all sorts of people in all different stages of life and testimony. It is way too easy to let "the natural man" snap, but I have never yet regretted choosing to love someone instead. Test my theory and let me know what your experiences are. :)

Okay, so that's all I can think of to tell you about right now. I love you all and hope you are having a wonderful winter!

Sister Houghton
Winder, GA

Back to Athens!

From 22 January 2018

Rachel got baptized!

Sister Parsons and me in the snow!

Well, I have lots to tell you all and really not any time in which to write you!

First, it SNOWED! In Georgia! All the people who we have asked (which is a lot,  by the way) who have resided in Georgia for any length of time tell us that it's not normal, but we're not sure whether or not to believe them because of the recent evidence otherwise. On Wednesday we woke up to snow, which was exciting, but also not because we had to somehow end our exchange without using our cars. And it was only 17°F (which is "below zero" in Celsius) when we started the 2-hour walk to meet back with our companions. Luckily it wasn't as humid as it has been lately, so we didn't die. Phew! The snow is mostly gone now and yesterday was warm enough for short sleeves, so it's been a wild week with the weather!

Because of the snow, we also received the disappointing news that our multi-mission conference, which was scheduled for Friday, was cancelled. Bummer, but maybe one day we will get to meet the GAM (Georgia Atlanta Mission) missionaries.

Rachel at the Washington D.C. Temple
on Friday before she knew I was
coming to her baptism (by the way, I
managed to surprise her- it was the best!). 

The next highlight of the week is that Rachel got baptized! Let me tell you her story. It started in St. George this past summer, where she was in an opera with a whole bunch of Mormons. She and some of the other nonmembers in the cast were invited to the St. George Temple Visitors Center, where she was drawn to the doctrines and teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. When the opera was over, the Athens 1st Sisters (before I got there) received her information as a referral, requesting a triple combination (The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price all in one bound book, and a very unusual request from a nonmember). When I arrived in Athens, the previous companionship had met with her once and so my companion and I tried for weeks to meet with her. However, as an opera singer, student, and teacher, Rachel was very busy and it was hard to get in with her. Sister Johnson left and I was on the verge of dropping Rachel because we had been unable to teach her in over 6 weeks. Nevertheless, Sister Nielson and I tried one more time, and were finally able to meet with her! For the remaining 3 months I was there, we were able to meet with her several more times (despite phones being destroyed and numbers being lost - Facebook saved the day!) and we started receiving pictures of her at various temples all over the country as she went to opera auditions. Well, fast forward to 2 weeks ago, when she messaged me on facebook to tell me she was planning on getting baptized! I was thrilled out of my mind and could hardly think about anything else! I asked my mission president if I could attend (per her request) and on Saturday, I got to be there for her baptism in Athens. It was a wonderful place and possibly the best moment of my mission. At the end of the service, she bore a powerful testimony of 2 Nephi 2:25, "Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy." She was glowing and I could feel the pureness of her joy as she testified of gospel principles to everybody there (including her nonmember husband, who has undergone a real change of heart in terms of his attitude toward the church in general). As I reflected on my part in Rachel's experience learning about the gospel, all that I could think of was that Heavenly Father knows exactly what each of His children needs and He knows exactly how to put us where we can have those needs filled perfectly.

On Saturday evening, I thought that there would be nothing else to email you all about this week. How wrong was I? Very.

So transfers. Sister Parsons and I thought we would be staying here in Webb Bridge, with a small chance that Sister Parsons would leave. Well, Heavenly Father has other plans for us. I will only be in Webb Bridge for a few more hours- tomorrow morning I am going...back to Athens! Well, not the ward, but the zone/stake. My next area is the Winder Ward, and my companion will be Sister Wagner. I've never worked very closely with her, but she came out shortly after I did and has a very positive reputation in the mission. The other crazy bit is that Sister Parsons is also leaving Webb Bridge! Yeah, we're getting whitewashed out. President Marsh called us last night to tell us why. Supposedly he wants us to be ready to train again, 6 weeks from now, in our respective new areas, but we think he probably just doesn't want to put up with us anymore as a companionship, which is why we are going to opposite ends of the mission (Sister Parsons is going to Allatoona, where I spent my first 6 months!). We are both bummed to be leaving the area that we just got comfortable in/with, but now we know why we felt so much urgency about getting everything organized (mapping things out, sorting through junk, getting to know the ward and its needs, etc.). I could have stayed here for several more transfers, but I will go where the Lord wants me to go! And that is Winder. I've never worked there, but it has glowing reviews throughout the mission, so I don't think I will have much, if anything, to complain about.

Guess what! I actually have a spiritual thought to share this week!
Mormon Newsroom
As many of you know, this week, the new prophet for the world was announced. I didn't get to watch the announcement, but when I heard the news, I immediately knew that he is the right person. I have been studying a Church history book, called Our Heritage for the past week or so, and have been impressed by the courage the early saints had, and especially their leaders (the first modern prophets). As I read, I was led to ponder on several occasions about how well I follow and sustain the prophet. I have begun to make a more concentrated effort to know the prophets and what they have conveyed to us from our Heavenly Father. I invite you all to do the same.

I hope none of you fell asleep while reading this, but that's the update on my week. Happy January and I will be writing from Winder next week! :)

Sister Houghton