Monday, April 28, 2014

"Jesus is Livin' Inside Me!"

Mom's friend Sharon came down to visit! She recently moved to the Coral Springs ward from the Ft. Laud ward and so she came to her old ward and we got to hang out :)   She's great. Also, what I didn't realize until after she left is that her maiden name is Sharon Merrill!  Sister Merrill was amused.

Dear everyone,

Random happenings of this week in no particular order...

A random man was riding his bike by us and so I offered him a card with a picture of Jesus on it. He kept riding by and told us: "Jesus is livin' inside me. That's why I'm exercisin'!"

This from President Anderson's email:
We are uniquely blessed with a wonderful opportunity to bless the lives of others through the wonderful work being done by the youth of our mission as part of the cultural celebration.  The Fort Lauderdale Temple dedication marks the first time that the Church is broadcasting a cultural celebration live and on the internet.    This means that anyone with a computer or device with internet access can watch and enjoy the cultural celebration next Saturday. Make sure your families and investigators have an opportunity to watch it.
Next Saturday, May 3, 2014 at 7:00 pm EST (be thoughtful of the time difference), the cultural celebration will be broadcast live on the internet at:

Watch it and you may see me and/or people I love here in Florida!

We had a really funny combined lesson with the Assistants (they cover the YSA branch in our area so we pass referrals back and forth a lot) where their investigator didn't show up but ours, the younger brother, did. He is 14 and wants to be a professional wrestler. So the elders created this whole scenario about the Book of Mormon's inclusion of wrestling. What better way to get him interested enough to start reading than telling him about how the wars in the BoM are about people and nations wrestling against each other, and the ones with God on their side always win! What chapter did we assign him to read? Why, Enos 1, of course.

Carlie (aka Sister Bean) was previously in this area.
She finished her mission almost two weeks ago.
She was my sister training leader for about half
of my mission. She and her mom came back to visit
and took us out for lunch 
then came to church on Sunday!
I got to go on a fire exchange (usually about 1.5 hours long, and we go into their area, exchange so one of us is with each of them, and go to whatever appointments or harvesting that they were going to do, with them. Two companionships in one area, woot!) in Lauderhill South, the area that I just left. I ended up going with Sister Porter while Sister Merrill went with Sister Sanchez (I always go with the one that will be teaching a lesson if we are in a Spanish area; otherwise we just go with whichever sister we feel we should!). Right before we got there the sisters had gotten a call from J, who is in the bishopric and also happens to be the uncle of the M family (L, R, and P in case you forgot:). He had talked with R and P and they wanted to get baptized that Sunday! So Sister Porter (who had never met them before) and I went over to teach them. It was so wonderful! I was happy to see them, they were surprised and happy to see me, Sister Porter boldly shared her testimony in Spanish, and they really did have the desire to be baptized. They were baptized and confirmed yesterday. I think that their older sister will soon follow. SOOO HAPPY!!! (Also, breaking news. I just got Sister Ware's weekly email and found out that a former investigator of ours in Hialeah got baptized yesterday too! Miracles abound.)

Our miracle this week is RA. We were trying to follow up with some other people inside a gated community (difficult to get into so you have to build up contacts every time you're inside so that you can return to follow up!), but nobody was home. We had another appointment to get to and were about to leave when we saw this lady just walking out of the building. I didn't have any normal pass-along cards left, just chapel cards, so I invited her to church. She was so excited, and told us she was looking for a church home. None of us had time to stay and talk, but she told us she really wanted us to come back and talk to her more. So we did! We just told her what church was like and told her a little about the Restoration, and she came to church yesterday. She absolutely loved it. We went over last night to explain a little more about temples (that's most of what they talked about at church since the dedication is this coming Sunday!!) and she also asked for a priesthood blessing because she was going into surgery this morning. The elders came over, we taught about priesthood authority, and she felt the Spirit strongly. She is getting baptized on May 11

Funny story. The same exact spot where we met RA, a couple of days later on Saturday: we were leaving the building again and saw this young man walking along sadly. As soon as we started talking to him he thanked us for coming up to him and told us he had been looking for people our age who did good things, and he knew God had sent us. We invited him to go to YSA the next day, and gave him all the info. We passed his phone number to the YSA elders but the text didn't arrive. Happily, D was motivated and called them so he was able to get a ride and get to church. He told them after Priesthood meeting that he felt spiritually enlightened and intellectually rejuvenated :) He is also getting baptized May 11

One thing that I loved in the Book of Mormon this week was a realization that I made about 3 Nephi 24:13-18. In verse 15 Christ basically says that pride isn't happiness. I was pondering that and realized that so often pride comes from putting our hearts on things of the world, from desiring things that are of no worth eternally. We may get those things by our own efforts, but what does it profit us? Why should we be proud of those achievements that aren't worth anything really? We have to let go of those things and then we will really be humble because we will see that the things that really matter most come only from God, not from our own efforts. 

I love you all! 

S called us the day after his baptism to ask if he
 could come out with us to do missionary work :)
Here he is, walking down the street with us!
We found out that one of his neighbors is
about the same age and less active, and
we knocked lots of other doors


When we went to visit that same less-active later in the
 week a couple of members from the Young Mens'
came over to visit him too. One of them had just
caught this Cuban Anul from a tree.
Then they put some thread on it like a leash and collar
and walked it around for a bit!
Yet another car accident on the mission... A lady was
trying to pass us on the right side. It was a two-lane
road so she was cutting through the parking lot we
were turning into. (excuse the grammar, no time to
 try and arreglarla...)

Speaking of cars, this is what we call a "donk."

Monday, April 21, 2014

Fort Lauderdale Proper!

Sisters Merrill & Houghton--at the Fort Lauderdale Temple

Dear family,

I am finally in Fort Lauderdale proper! Fort Lauderdale ward, in the area of Ft. Laud West to be exact. My new companion is Sister Merrill, whom you can see in the baptism pic I sent. She is 20, from Farmington Utah, and has been out one transfer less than I have. We are assigned as sister training leaders, which means we have six companionships of sisters whom we are responsible for. We go on full-day exchanges once a week, hour-long exchanges twice a week, and account weekly. 

S at his baptism, with Sisters Merrill & Houghton

S is the other one in that picture. He is 17 and one of the nicest people ever. A gentleman and spiritually very self-motivated. He has member friends who introduced him to the church and he is already very involved with the youth, keeps his commitments, etc. He is so awesome! I had only met him once before his baptism, but I will get to know him better this week. 

I was happy to hear that most of the family spent the day at the temple on Saturday!  We were there too, on the last day of the open house. We got there at 6:45, and the shift ended at 8:30 pm. But we had kind of an important obligation... we had a mission conference with several general authorities starting at 2:30pm. So they drove in 18 sisters from the Tampa mission to take our spots between 12 and 5:30. They arrived at 10:30 and we were planning to gather them in the staff tent to train them. But a well-intentioned coordinator just started assigning them to tents so the sisters in each tent got to train them! It worked out all right in the end, it was just crazy. And the Tampa sisters were weird. They didn't wear cardigans, they had their tags on the wrong side, they thought that Spanish missionaries could only serve in Spanish areas... Oh, and they had IPADS. What?? I cannot imagine being a missionary and having an ipad. 

On an exchange yesterday: We were knocking doors and after 30 minutes still having no success.We needed to change something, so we made some plans (talk to everyone, no matter what), and said a prayer. We looked up and saw a lady mowing her lawn. When we started talking to her we had the most amazing experience. She hadn't been able to go to church for 3 years because her husband didn't want to her. We felt the spirit strongly and testified that the Lord had sent us to her at this time because He had softened the heart of her husband and wanted them to both get baptized into His church. She was crying even before the prayer and committed to work towards the 11th of May. The sisters should be following up to be able to pray with her husband as well. I know that the Lord sent us to her. The rest of our blessings throughout the night were from OYMs (open your mouth). Oh and interesting fact: I have never knocked on a door and had that person get baptized. But I have had many, many OYMs get baptized. The Lord is willing to put His prepared children literally in front of us!

I love you all!!!


P.S. I pestered various people until I finally got a copy of the video we showed in the tents at the temple, so look forward to seeing that in a few months, those of you at home!

P.P.S. The more time I spend with the sisters in our stewardship the more I am humbled. They are amazing. They have so much talent, desire, and spirit. They inspire me to be better.

P.P.P.S. Sister Olsen, the new greenie in our apartment, is diabetic too! We were comparing pump supplies the other day :) And Sister Merrill's mom is a diabetes educator :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

If People Will Just Open Their Hearts and Act, God Steps In!

Dear family, friends, and everyone,

This from President Anderson's email to us this week:

"Dear Missionaries,
Remember I said we need to keep preparing for the Prophets! We will have the blessing of a Missionary Conference on Saturday, April 19th at the Coral Springs Chapel at 2:30 to 4:30. We will be taught by Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Council of the Twelve Apostles. We will also have Bishop Gary E. Stevens of the Presiding Bishopric, Elder Erich W. Kopischke of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Elder Stephen E. Thompson of the Seventy attending as well. Prepare diligently for this blessing and I will give you additional details later this week."

Whoa!! I am excited :)

In other news, I will unbelievably be moving to a new area tomorrow! I was shocked when we heard during transfer calls. Sister Sanchez will be training a new greenie and I will let you know next week where I end up going and who my companion will be. Oh, and btw Sister Ware is staying in Hialeah until the end of her mission! That makes 7 transfers there. Crazy sauce. 

David got confirmed this week. And it was such a spiritual experience for him. He has been getting powerful spiritual witnesses of the truth of the gospel the entire time we have been teaching him, and it is so rewarding as a missionary to see how much the gospel changes lives! David has such a testimony that it is surprising to me. I know that all these things are true, but every time I see someone go from not knowing or believing it to really embracing it and believing with all of their hearts it is a huge miracle to me. If people will just open their hearts and act, God steps in. 

And from the scriptures...

We had a comp study with our district leader this week where we talked about Nephi's successes and failures. The biggest thing that Nephi attempted to do which didn't turn into a success was his effort to convert his brothers. I know about agency and personal choice, but I made a realization. My entire mission I've been thinking that if I'm better, if I'm more Christlike and converted and faithful and spiritual and a better missionary, then more people will listen and be converted. And yes, my personal conversion and my actions definitely affect those I teach and contact. But somehow it touched my heart as we talked and read about Nephi that it doesn't all rest on me. I know that, but I guess it hadn't really sunk in. I realized that even Christ, our perfect example, full of faith and charity and the Spirit, didn't convert everyone he talked to. It was a good, hope-inducing learning experience.

Sorry I'm short on details this week - not too much happened that's super-notable, and the pictures should give some details about photo-worthy moments! I love you! Send me mail please, and thanks to those of you who have!

Sister Sanchez and I at steak'n'shake
awaiting our Jamaican jerk burgers...

Sisters Baumann and Furner too :)

What our reception tent at the temple looks like,
 from the front. In the back are a bunch of people from
West Palm who were helping out in the Spanish tent that day :)

A very sun-streaked picture of the TV we watch the temple
intro video on - 12 minutes long and we could probably quote it!

Sister Baumann is a fabulous hairdresser and cut our hair
the other night! I like it.

She also got new pink nail polish this week from her sister
and painted all of our nails. We stopped
by walgreens the other day to get some water
and got these instead... then we realized
halfway through drinking them that they had
green tea in them. Good thing we weren't teaching
any word of wisdom lessons that day!

Fresh coconuts from a pickup on the side of the road!
The guy selling them definitely chopped them up with a machete - so cool.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

When I am on the Lord's errand, I miraculously have strength and energy!

From Tuesday, 8 April 2014

D's Baptism on Sunday after Conference!

Dear family,

This week was crazy! We were in the temple two days, ran around like crazy chickens with our heads cut off the rest of the time, watched general conference, had a baptism...

Yep, D got baptized! Right after the first session of general conference. It was so happy! The plug in the font somehow got dislodged which made his baptism a bit like a very important game of limbo getting him all the way under the water, but they managed somehow! David is awesome. He was so ready to be baptized. His parents were baptized in February, and they call us (and the last few Sister missionaries who taught them) their 'sobrinas,' or nieces. So David is our 'primito.' little cousin, now :) 

So this week I've had a little bit of a cold. Thursday was a sore throat, Friday was lots of sniffles and sudafed while working in the tent at the temple, and Saturday was dead tired. I slept a little before general conference at noon but was not sure I could handle going out to work between sessions. But go we did! And I amazingly felt better. The same pattern has followed the last few days. When I am on my own time I feel sick. But when I am on the Lord's errand I miraculously have the strength and energy I need to see me through, to show His love to His children and help them progress along the path to Him.

General conference has been a blast. I particularly liked part of Elder Nelson's talk. He mentioned the importance of not compartmentalizing ourselves. I like to think of it this way: rather than just putting myself into missionary mode, I have to become a missionary. And in our lives, rather than just putting on disciple mode for a while, we need to become disciples of Jesus Christ. 

I also liked President Eyring's message that we hold in our hands the happiness of more people than we can imagine. Our smallest choices can make an impact. So we have to choose then what kind of impact they will make! Will we be an example of good? Will we make, keep, and honor and magnify covenants? Will we stand strong against all obstacles, temptations, and challenges? Or will we cave in? It matters. 

I loved Elder Rasband's comment that focusing on serving others can guide us to make divine decisions in our daily lives. Elder Corbridge's Restoration talk was masterful. Sister Reeves is a boss. Elder Walker (who we saw last week!) inspired me to learn more about my pioneer ancestors. President Uchtdorf opened my eyes to the connection between gratitude and humility and consecration. Elder Scott answered all the questions I didn't know I had about helping others to learn and grow. And President Monson tied it all together with love and the resolve to be a little better. I loved it so much!

In other news, I LOVED working in the reception tent at the temple yesterday. Sign me up for that every day! So many people who had earnest, honest questions. And the Spirit was so strong that even the one Bible basher who tried to convince me of the error of my ways had to leave defeated after only a few minutes. It was amazing how easily everything came. Everything was natural and personal. We weren't 'proselyting,' but  we were using our testimonies nonetheless. 

Anyway... I learned a lot in the Book of Mormon this week as well. One thing that struck me while reading Mosiah 2 in Spanish was the wording in verse 11. The literal translation is that King Benjamin served his people with all the might, mind, and strength which the Lord conceded unto him. It was a reminder to me that the Lord gives us all that strength which He asks us to use to serve His children. As we truly give all back to Him, we bless others, we show our gratitude to God, and we bring ourselves to salvation. It's like the widow's mite - sometimes it's not much, but if it's our all it's enough.

Well, I love you all a lot. Have a happy week!

Hermana Houghton

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Working at the Temple Open House

Fort Lauderdale  Florida LDS Temple

Click here to learn why temples are so important to us!

Dear Everyone,

This week we have been working at the temple open house! We were trained on Tuesday by Elder William Walker of the temple committee, then our group of sisters was at the temple the very next day to help out with VIP tours! We are stationed in the tents before the actual tour begins and we show a short video and give them the shpiel about turning off cameras and saving questions until the hospitality tent at the end (there are also sisters stationed there; we get our turn next Monday). It's fun! 

We had a shift yesterday as well, so that's why this email is coming out a bit late, sorry (and I will be there for the next two Mondays as well). But while I was there I saw a lot of people working in the open house who are from West Palm, which was great! Hermano Davila, Cesar Canales, a few ladies from the ward whom I only knew by their faces... We were working primarily in an English tent, but we got to show the video a few times in the Spanish tent. J (Recent Convert from Hialeah) came through too but I didn't see him :( Ah well, at least he was there!

It has been so wonderful working at the temple this week! The first day was tiring because we spent most of our time waiting, but yesterday I took the chance to study my scriptures in between groups and during the video and it was great. I learned a lot, was less tired and more awake, and I had the Spirit more strongly.

One thing I realized yesterday is that although we can't proselyte with our words, we can certainly proselyte with the Spirit that we radiate, and people at the open house will feel it. So yesterday after the open house Sister Sanchez and I talked about this and made a plan to, before every group that comes through, say a prayer with all of the ushers/tour guides in our tent that the people who come will be touched by the Spirit. Anyway, hoping that will help us fulfill our purpose!

After a lesson on Sunday Sister Sanchez was talking to some of our members while waiting to back me out in the car. There was a man right next to our car waiting for his son who was riding his bike around the parking lot. We have been making an effort to get everyone in the world to the temple, so I gave him a temple open house invitation. This started the conversation of what a temple is, as opposed to a chapel. He told me he had seen a temple in Honduras, years ago, but hadn't been able to go inside because he wasn't a member. He had gone to church a few times with his friends, and he is excited to meet with us and learn more about how he can become a member! 

I loved the Women's Conference this week and greatly admired the women from our ward who came and watched it.. in English. They are amazing. We also had a RS activity this week that was great :) And we had three investigators come!

One thing that I loved this week in the Book of Mormon is the Lord's command to the prophet Samuel in Helaman 13. He tells Samuel to "prophesy whatsoever things should come into his heart." I really like how specific he is. Heart, not mind. So I've been working this week on following the Spirit by saying the things that come into my heart, not just into my mind.

Ok, I'm out of time. But I love you all!!

<3 HH

Fancy Hair with just a little coloring thanks to
Sister Bauman.
Cool braid that Sister Baumann taught me to do...
when they told us that we needed to look
our best for the open house, hair and makeup,
we all turned and looked at her.
 Beach day last P-day. Deerfield park beach! Just doesn't
have the same ring as Miami beach...
Dreds, dude!

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