Tuesday, November 5, 2013

How Beautiful the Work of the Lord!

From 28 October 2013

Dear Family,

This manatee was not the one actually sighted,
but it is important to note that manatees have been
Eliza's favorite animal for years!

This week I saw a manatee!!!! In a canal! We really only saw its tail, but it fulfilled all of my wildest dreams! And the next day the men sitting by the canal told us there had been an alligator earlier in the day, but we missed it :(

We've been working in a very hard section of our area - there are many people who know they need God, but they're down on their luck and they have a hard time trusting God because they feel abandoned by Him. We've had some cool experiences, but not a lot to write home about yet.

I was talking to a man outside of his home and gave him a Gospel of Jesus Christ pamphlet. He looked at it more closely and jumped in the air. He was gleeful as he told me, "I'm a member of this church! I have this book!" He had been baptized in California but hadn't been to church since coming to Florida (who knows how long). 

We brought a member out with us on Saturday afternoon and had people who had no interest beforehand listen. We'd taught a lady named Sandra a couple of times, mostly because she was always sitting outside as we walked by. She hadn't accepted anything we'd said, and refused to even take a Book of Mormon. When we brought Hermano R out, she told us that she didn't want to listen because she felt like she'd lost all her faith in God, as a result of of all the things she'd gone through and done. Hermano R told her about Elder Holland's talk in the April conference, and that all she needed was a desire to believe. He helped her pray, where beforehand she had refused to even try. At the end of the lesson she asked us for a Book of Mormon. When we were starting another lesson down the street, she walked up and joined in. Her change of countenance was amazing! She became animated where before she'd been hopeless, free instead of trapped. 

The area where we've been working is at the very southern boundary of our area, about 25 minutes away from the church. We had a lot of people commit to coming to church who didn't have transportation. We asked two of our amazing members to come with us to pick them up for church, and we even got on the way early. But we soon found out there was a problem - a huge bike race was going on along the main east-to-west road we needed to cross to get to the bottom of our area. We were stuck in traffic for half an hour before we rerouted and finally got there - at 9:05 (church starts at 9). We ran around the neighborhood trying to round up the people who had said they would come - only one was even home, and said she was sleeping and wasn't coming. It was devastating. But our solid member missionaries were supportive and helpful throughout - they even stopped and invited all the people we saw to come to church! They worked hard and although the recompense isn't visible now, it is wonderful to know that the Lord will reward them for their service and patience.

Our ward had its annual talent show and Hispanic Heritage night on Friday. Most of the talents had to do with dancing, which was weird as a missionary - listening to music, let alone watching people dance, is very foreign. There were tables of food from different countries - Honduras, Cuba, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, and America, just to name a few (at the American table they had hot dogs and lots of store-bought cakes and pies :) Sister Ware and I decided to be smart and try all of the food. We did this by each taking a plate of food from a different table, stashing it in another room, and then going back to get plates from different countries. We got quite a variety of food, and there's still some in our fridge! The Honduran and Cuban foods were my favorites of the night.

L and J are going to wait to get married until his brother can come from New Orleans on the 16th. This probably means that I won't be here for that or her baptism :( but they are doing amazingly. L made food for and danced in the talent show, now has an assignment at church (washing baptismal clothes), and signed up on the food list to feed us.

Transfers are next week so P-day will be on Tuesday, and we'll find out then whether I'm staying or leaving Hialeah East, the best area in the best ward in the best mission in the best church in the whole universe!

Oh! One more thing.
This week I had a quiet but very rewarding experience. Our chapel is undergoing construction, so the RS room is out of commission. All of the classes are moved around because of it. Yesterday at church the Priesthood class had to move from the room where they'd started because it wasn't big enough, and Sister Ware and I were in the hallway as they all passed. I had a small glimpse of just how important our work as missionaries is. As the members of the Priesthood passed by us, probably about 20 or 30 in total, the people who weren't there three months ago really stood out to me: a less active who had accepted the challenge to read a page of the Book of Mormon a day; a recent convert who before we met most likely would have been drunk and miserable and alone

on a Sunday afternoon; another recent convert who had a first lesson, disappeared for two weeks, and then found us again, having read the whole Book of Mormon; a less active who hadn't been to church for 14 years, and will soon be married to his girlfriend, who will then be getting baptized, and they will be raising their five-year-old daughter in the gospel... I feel so privileged to have been an instrument in the Lord's hands as He accomplishes this work. I knew in the moment that they all passed that there is great value in everything that we do as missionaries. These men, and their families, will have the chance to build, or rebuild, their lives upon the Rock of our Redeemer. They will be worthy holders of the priesthood as they press forward with faith. How great is our calling, how beautiful the work of the Lord.

I love you all! 

Hermana Houghton

Pictures that caught Hermana Houghton's attention this week!

Water Polo sticker!

The Fort Lauderdale temple - almost done!
A mini dog

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