Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Learning the Ropes

Instruction from the mission office is to send all letters and packages to the above address , and that it's better to send USPS, because they can just
 forward it on if they don't have an upcoming meeting. 
Eliza's Mom

Hermanas Houghton and Clayton
February 16, 2013

January 22, 2013

Dear Family, Friends, and blog Followers,

I am in Florida! I got here last Tuesday night, after a long day of being in the airport. We left the MTC at 3 am, but a fire alarm went off in our building at midnight, so all of the sisters in the group got zero sleep! Our first flight got canceled, so it was a wait, but we got to talk to lots of people in the airport and on the plane. Also, I got to call home and I thought I would have time to call Luke but our layover was too short, and we got on the plane just as he was getting out of classes :( Sorry Luke!

After a night in the hotel we had some training on mission rules and guidelines, procedures, and talking to people. We went over to the chapel for a transfer meeting, all had to bear our testimonies, and then got assigned! I am in the West Palm North area of the Palm Beach Zone (which the assistants to the president described as the promised land for Spanish-speaking missionaries!), any my companion is Hermana Clayton. She has been in the mission since August, and has been in our area for one transfer. In mission lingo, she is my mom and she dies in December. Another funny thought: our two APs are Elders Shipley and Gust. I feel nautical whenever I see them.

Sister Clayton is great! We are very different in our viewpoints and in our teaching approaches, but that just means we have more to learn. She is amazingly patient. I said to her the other day that training must be a lot like other missionary work - invite, teach a little, and wait until the Spirit whonks the other person over the head. She is seriously one of the nicest people ever.

In the mission I am learning a lot about finding the people who have been prepared by the Lord to be ready to receive the gospel. I had a hard time with this at the beginning - we go pray with people, follow up with them if they accept an invitation to be baptized, and then drop them if they back off at all. But I've gained a testimony that there really are people who are ready, and the Spirit is the most important companion. It doesn't matter so much what we teach them as what the Spirit teaches them. We just need to help them feel the Spirit, recognize it, and know how to act on the impressions they receive. I really know that this gospel is true. Our approach wouldn't work for anything else - any other idea or product. We're not selling anything, and we don't have to negotiate about what the Spirit tells people is true.

We had a baptism this week - a young man (21-ish) from Guatemala, named Henry. He is awesome. We told him about the Word of Wisdom as well as the other commandments, and he took it like a champ. No complaints, just saying that he knew he needed to follow God. He texted us the day after his baptism saying that he was really happy because he had a new friend - Jesus.

Probably my favorite investigator is Daniel. He is in his mid thirties, has a ton of faith, and thinks a lot like me. When we taught him about the Plan of Salvation I really knew I was supposed to be there. He needed my in-depth, somewhat intellectual approach to gospel learning to help him internalize some things and know that the scriptures can give us answers, and I really felt the Spirit while we were teaching him. He is getting baptized this Sunday, and I am so excited for the joy he is going to receive! (Oh, and he's also an amazing cook.)

Eliza and her companions in Provo
--a bit of a weather switch!
Okay, total switch of topic. Florida is amazing. My body adjusted just about immediately to the temperature change - now I feel cold if our apartment is below 76! The days are usually between about 68 and 82, and we've gotten light rain a few times. The only problem with the humidity is when I run, because I feel like I'm not getting enough oxygen. The foliage is way greener than anywhere else I've lived during the winter, and the grass has really thick blades. Random thought again, we can often figure out which houses have Spanish-speakers in them by the foliage - HIspanics tend to have plant-filled yards whereas English-speakers tend to have just grass.

Sister Clayton and I are two of four missionaries assigned to our ward. We live with Sister Johnson and Sister Ellett, who cover some of the same area but work in the English ward. We frequently have to refer English-speaking people we meet to them. We refer Creole-speakers to the Elders a district up. I've met Cubans, Guatemalans, lots of Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Nicaraguans, Colombians, Hondurans... It's awesome.

Okay, I'm out of time. More in letters and next time. I love you all!

<3  Hermana Houghton

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