Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Out with a bang!

Dear family, friends, and faithful mission-followers,

My last weekly email! 

We had three baptisms on Sunday, all of whom I believe I have written about. R is pictured here, with his sister L.
 J and RA were also baptized, and they were all so happy. I am excited for them.

 Last District training
My planners with Sister Olsen's
She has a lot to go!
This week I have been quite conscious of 'lasts.' Last exchange, last Sunday, last District training, etc. But you know what? It's been ok. Because 'last' does not mean 'only.' And I have had a lot of exchanges, Sundays, and District Trainings on my mission. I will miss them, certainly. But they leave a lot of space for new 'firsts.' And there will be many 'firsts.' As President Uchtdorf taught in this most recent general conference, in Heavenly Father's plan "there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings."

In the Book of Mormon this week I was struck by the importance of avoiding complacency, especially during Captain Mormoni's epistle to Pahoran. Onward and upward, forever! This work of serving others and saving souls doesn't end, and must be a priority.

Bishop Brown! So cool.

One wonderful spiritual experience this week was after our three baptisms, when Bishop was giving the official welcome to the ward. He was telling these wonderful converts about the importance of sharing the gospel, and our recent convert R exclaimed, "It's like going on a mission! And I'm ready for the journey." The Lord truly has prepared those whom we find, teach, and baptize.

During the course of my mission I've found people who would go on to be baptized in many ways - area book, member and media referrals, investigator referrals, other missionaries' contacts, etc. But I have never simply knocked on someone's door, not knowing who it would be, and then taught and baptized that person. I've seen that the Lord literally puts those whom he has prepared in our paths. Almost 1/3 of my baptisms have come from OYMs, and the rest have come from other people (missionaries, members, or investigators) who give us a referral. Wow! How important it is then to just open our mouths, as missionaries and as members. I love what President Kimball says in his talk "Jesus: the Perfect Leader":

"We must remember that those mortals we meet in parking lots, offices, elevators, and elsewhere are that portion of mankind God has given us to love and to serve. It will do us little good to speak of the general brotherhood of mankind if we cannot regard those who are all around us as our brothers and sisters. If our sample of humanity seems unglamorous or so very small, we need to remember the parable Jesus gave us in which he reminded us that greatness is not always a matter of size or scale, but of the quality of one’s life. If we do well with our talents and with the opportunities around us, this will not go unnoticed by God. And to those who do well with the opportunities given them, even more will be given!"

I have taught and baptized some people whom I would have looked down upon before my mission. I didn't want to even teach them! And now I love them more than I can express. Those with physical, mental, and other temporal or circumstantial challenges are so easy to disregard. But they too are among those noble and great ones, as Sister Ware describes them even the most valiant of God's children. He loves them just as He loves the rest, and they need Him just as the rest do. I am so grateful for the opportunities Heavenly Father has given me to know and serve and love His children.

I love you all!


We were in the office for a few minutes this week and I took advantage of the label-maker to change the transfer board a bit...

Mom's note:  Despite her label-making escapades, noted above, Hermana Houghton will complete her mission and arrive in San Francisco on May 29!  We will miss the tremendous blessings that have come to our family as a result of her mission, but we are so excited to see her and have her be with us for the summer.  She has written "100 Things I Learned on My Mission" as well as some goals. If you're interested in seeing those, she can probably email those to you.  We are so grateful  for her service and example as she has loved the Lord with all her might, mind, and strength!

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