Monday, October 14, 2013

As I Give It My All, The Lord Will Provide The Miracles

Happy Columbus Day!

Dear Family,

I love you!! Sorry this is coming later than usual - we didn't realize until a few hours ago that it was Columbus day, and the library was closed! So we have a shortened email time on the end of p-day, at our ward mission leader's house. 

This week has been kind of weird... but hey! It's all good. I am really excited because Elder Oaks is going to come speak at a mission conference this Saturday

This week I have been struggling with something I like to call socialism, which is one side-effect of having a companion who is just too cool. I realized that I talk so much, and am so extroverted all day everyday (including 24/7 with Sister Ware), that my introverted side starts kicking and screaming. Yesterday after a normal Sunday filled with phone-calls, drop-bys, greetings at church, etc. I didn't want to even look at another person, let alone talk to one! Happily I got over it fairly quickly and we met and taught some super-cool people, but it was interesting thinking about how much I am having conversation every day. 

This week we continued to follow up with P and W, and they are amazing! Both of them have now finished the Book of Mormon and are integrating into the ward, reading the priesthood manuals and making friends. 

A really cool experience we had this week was with L and J, the couple that I told you about last week. They have latched onto the idea of marriage, and are looking into all of their options to get married soon. We had a lesson with them this week and were teaching about repentance and the purpose of our life here on earth. J looked over at L and A and told us that these two women were his world, and that L was the love of his life. It was a far cry from his hesitancy to get married only a week ago! They came to church for the second time on Sunday, and L told the whole relief society about how she had gone to other churches but had never felt full and satisfied there. The BOSS relief society teacher asked her how she felt now, and she said simply, "happy." ("feliz")

We're teaching a less-active recent convert and his girlfriend. She has not been open to the church in the past because she feels like her boyfriend went behind her back in being baptized, and his original missionaries focused largely on him, not on her. We've been working to help her open up and feel comfortable (otherwise she can't feel the spirit anyway!) and she's been responding, even inviting a friend to listen to us. It helps that I can relate to being a swimmer (when she was younger, in Nicaragua) and having knee problems :)

I was reading Mosiah 2 this morning and learned several things that really apply to missionary life. In verse 11, when King Benjamin recognizes the source of all his "might, mind, and strength" - the Lord. He goes on to say that his whole frame is trembling. He knows the Lord is supporting him, and he gives it all he has, even though he doesn't feel like he has much strength at that time.

In Luke 5:5, Simon tells the Lord that they have given their all to fishing - they've been toiling all night, and they've even cleaned their nets. Yet he says, "at thy word I will let down the net." And it is when they are at their weakest, at the very end of their strength, that they see the miracles, in both cases. King Benjamin speaks by the Holy Ghost and his whole people are touched by the Spirit. Simon Peter fills the whole boat with fish, and then leaves to follow the Savior. I know that as I give it all I have and a little bit more, the Lord will provide the miracles.



Monday, October 7, 2013

Birthday Missionary!

Dear Family,

You are the best!! What a wonderful birthday I have had so far. It's like you know me or something!.. But really, thank you so much to everybody for the birthday wishes, goodies, and love!

Baptism day with P!
As you can see from the pictures, yesterday we had two baptisms!! And, more excitingly, two baptismal services. The first was P, who I told you about last week. Like we signed in the back of his Book of Mormon, he was baptized on October 6, right after the Sunday morning (although it starts at 12 pm for us...) session of General Conference. Some fun things about Pedro:
-He really does not appreciate people who are not on time.
-He worked in the Portugese embassy in Cuba when he was 16-19 (mandatory military service in Cuba for 3 years), and so he speaks Portugese
-We taught him a lesson on repentance on Thursday afternoon, and had the hardest time. In Spanish, the word 'repent' also means 'regret,' so it took us a while to figure out that he thought we were saying he had to give up being himself when we said that he (and we all) need to repent. Finally it made sense to him when I said, "God doesn't want me to be someone other than Hermana Houghton. He just wants me to be a better Hermana Houghton."
-He has read in the Book of Mormon up to the end of Alma thus far :)
-We saw him outside the library just as we were coming in this afternoon!
He's awesome. 

W on baptism day!
The other one is also amazing. W lives at the same Assisted Living Facility (ALF) as R and A, and jumped in on a lesson with them a few weeks ago. We gave him a Book of Mormon, set him with a baptismal date, and then he disappeared for two weeks. Last Sunday R and A walked into sacrament meeting and W was with them! He had read the whole Book of Mormon and was working on going through the Index and reading each scripture associated with each topic. He had his baptismal interview on Thursday and told Elder Hunter (our new District Leader) that he didn't feel like he was ready yet... So Elder Hunter set him with a date for the 20th. We were not satisfied with that, so we talked with W and helped him to see that getting baptized is a commandment, and we need to not procrastinate obeying God's commandments. We talked about the requirements for baptism and helped him build up the faith to be baptized! He wasn't ready for church on Sunday morning, but we went back by at 3:30 after P's baptism to see if we couldn't get him and R to church. Well, we did, and he got baptized! Our ward is THE BEST. There was great attendance at both baptismal services, food after the first one, and all in all half of our ward was there from 12 pm to 7 pm

One funny thing about W: he is from Cuba, and changed his name when he came to the states. We're not sure what his original name was, but he chose an authentic American name. 

Another funny thing: both W and N are type 1 diabetics :)      --note from Mom, so is Hermana Houghton!

So, moving on. Remember J? He came to the Priesthood Session on Saturday night... but was three hours early, so watched most of the Saturday sessions in between. On Sunday he brought his 8-year-old daughter D (so cute!) to conference. She hung out with us in the Relief Society room watching conference in English. For P's baptism we asked him to say the closing prayer, and told him that at the next baptism we were going to ask him to talk about the Holy Ghost... And then he did, at William's baptism. It was amazing. The ward has embraced him, and he has embraced the gospel. He even taught the entire Restoration to his ex-wife (D's mother) and we are going to start teaching her!

We've also continued teaching L and J this week. We had an FHE on Monday, L made us amazing baliadas Wednesday, and we had a law of chastity lesson on Friday. We read through The Family Proclamation the Family Proclamation and asked them what action they needed to take. L immediately responded that they needed to get married. J wanted to wait, to let her get to know the church better, but we cut that excuse right out - you don't need to wait to keep the commandments. So they're working on getting their papers from Honduras so they can get married! One fun moment was when J, who is a member, looked at me and said, "when are you leaving?" I told him probably in about four weeks, and he said, "I knew it! You just want to be here when we get married! That's why you're telling us we need to do it soon!" So funny. I promptly told him that, no, I didn't want them to get married before I leave, I wanted them to get married and L to get baptized before I leave :) We were talking about the lesson afterward and realized that it was one of the least romantic proposals ever. Even less romantic than yours, Dad ;)

We have determined that bug-bombing (fumigating) the house for cockroaches does not work, and may actually increase the number of cockroaches. Ah well. We just wrap all of the food in plastic and we're good. I love you all!

Hermana Houghton

I had a chance to email chat with HH for a few minutes today, and asked her if she'd received her birthday gifts and what wonderful things she had planned for the day--Her response:

I LOVE all of the birthday stuff! I screamed when I got the baklava... and then the other sisters came in to ask what I had gotten that I loved so much... I showed them my oxford picture dictionary and threw the baklava underneath a sweater :)

As for wonderful things, pretty much chilling. Sleeping hopefully, writing letters, ya know. We were going to play smashface but the elders wimped out.

 Another silly picture during the interview

During William's baptismal interview: Sister Ware, Elder Allen,
and R (pretending to take a nap)

Ws baptism, with his baptizer Carlos Gonzalez and his member friend R :)