Monday, 30 December 2013

And a Happy New Year!

Dear Everyone,
This past week has been challenging with Christmas and everything and now getting back to missionary work. I'm learning a lot about how to rely on the Lord. The first few chapters of the Book of Ether and the Jaredites leaving their homes in rudderless/sail-less barges was really instructive this morning and I'd recommend a study of that to anyone.

I'm sending off the memory card with a bunch of pictures and stuff in a late Christmas package home soon so you'll have to wait on pictures until someone at home can get all of those up. The only picture I've taken with the new memory card is attached here. It was funny because there is no California College (of which I'm aware) but they were selling this shirt at Tesco and we saw it on Boxing Day. At the same time as thinking it's really funny how California has this big reputation and fame about it, I'm really missing the California sunshine amidst the cold/dark/wet which has gotten worse here. I've also heard that despite my wishful hopes that winters in England were earlier than in California and Utah, the worst is in fact quite a bit off in the future. However, I'm comforted knowing that each day from here until June it's getting lighter, not darker. Yay!

The week in missionary work has been a bit slow. But let's play Missionary Alphabet
A dropped us. Ao is a Chinese guy we're going to teach for the first time at the library in town tonight.
B is getting back in contact after the New Year.
C was dropped.
D, S's son, really wants to go to church apparently. Also, Da is a Less Active Member from Ghana who hasn't been to church in years who was miraculously run into and we're going to reteach him.
E is J and T's daughter (see J and T). Also, Ew, the Less Active Member came to church but had to leave after the first hour because his sister got back from Hospital with her new baby.
F is still unable to really contact us but will get back on track hopefully soon.
G was an A.U.F. who we found. We're going to reteach him if he ever answers the phone to set up an appointment
Houghton (me) woot woot!
Indian food is the best! Thanks be to the Sidhus, Masihs, and Randhawas. I love it so much!
J is a new Investigator from yesterday who we found miraculously. He's from Latvia and he's great. We'll see how it goes.
K is a cool guy from Barbados who sees a lot of hypocrisy in other churches and is super solid. We're going to teach him a first lesson after the new year.
L is the Ghanaian lady who we've been teaching who finally came to church. She can't read though so we'll see how it goes. Also, Luke (me again), my first name which I hadn't been called in a long time until Elder Unice (below) found it out because some of our mail got accidentally delivered to them from the mission and he jokinly called me Luke a few times and then skyping with my family (which was really weird... I seriously struggled to connect "Luke" with me...).
M is a uni student who will be back after the Holidays but who was blown away by our belief in a living prophet and really excited. We'll see him hopefully soon.
N is a Chinese student we found in City Centre who another team may teach.
O has been on Holiday in Bristol and has been hard to stay in contact with.
Qu'ran, the holy book that most people on our street believe is the word of God.
R is a newish Investigator from Afghanistan. Also, R is L's daughter.
S is alright but we haven't seen her in ages and she never answers the phone. Ugh. The S's have been under the radar for a bit too.
T and his wife are still on Holiday for two more weeks.
Unice is Elder Unice. He's a new missionary in Coventry and he's a legend.
V, a Potential Investigator from Togo
W is a Potential Investigator we need to call. She's from Ethiopia... I think...
YZ. A Less Active Member we keep trying to visit.
Z is a Chinese guy we met in City Centre. We may be teaching him soon. We'll see.
I could think of a P if I took long enough. We're working on filling in X... We'll see how it goes...
So, that took a long time to type out so it's most of my email. In other good news, my amazing pocket warmer from Aunt Lisa is awesome. I'm really hoping that Lighter Fluid isn't expensive so I can keep it running. Also, still a bit unsure of the fireproof qualities of my trousers. Pants on fire takes on a whole new meaning in England where pants are underpants. I've been striving to be a bit more honest lately for fear that my trousers could actually catch on fire in a cruelly ironic way... Just kidding, the pocked heater is catalytic so there's no flame. I've also been thoroughly impressed with the longevity of the Christmas goodies my amazingly wonderful family sent me. It was funny to explain to someone how the contents of that package they sent me are of such great value. It was not enough to justify that my family sent me a lot of sweets and paid a tonne for shipping.
I'm really looking forward to going to bed at 10:30 for New Year's Eve! It's going to be so great to be alive, awake, alert, and enthusiastic while the rest of the country is asleep, groggy, and/or hungover. I'm also glad that our schedule has been arranged so that we're off the streets for that night and morning. I am a bit worried that the fireworks at 00:01 will be a bit loud so I'm going to wear my earmuffs to bed! Ouch, there goes the pocket warmer singeing my trousers...
I'm rapidly running out of time so have a great week!
Elder Houghton

Monday, 23 December 2013

Merry Christmas From Coventry

Elder Houghton's Zone at a recent Conference

Dear Everyone,
A few pictures first.

Our new strategy; blend in with the Muslims. The nametag kind of gives it away.  Scarves are wonderful though.

The view out of our window at like 4:20 p.m. That's right, total darkness! To be fair, it wasn't actually that bad, it was dark but not quite pitch black, my camera just couldn't get the light from the inside and the normal picture outside at the same time. Note: please compare this picture to the one I sent in the summer when it was light and 10:30ish.

A mince pie. Mince pies are traditional English Christmas food. It's sort of a raisin/apple/fruity inside. I think they also might have traditionally had rum in them but I've only eaten the ones that members have given me so hopefully they're alright.

Anoop Sidhu, a member in our area, got his mission call and will be the first missionary from England to go to India. It's pretty exciting! They invited all the missionaries to his farewell (where they also fed us amazing homemade Indian food!) and we got a picture. So, it's Elder Unice, Elder Harris, Elder Sidhu (who had been set apart already), Elder Hall, myself, and Elder DeHaan. Somehow our District Leader, Elder Packer, who is Elder Hall's companion, didn't make it in the picture.

Post Sunday goodies that members of the ward gave us. The purple box and contents are leftovers from the ward Christmas party. It was so wonderful how members in the ward were just really nice about giving us gifts!

     So, this week has been actually a bit challenging. I'm learning a lot about how the Lord works and how we need to work hard and trust in him. It's difficult to trust though when that means that we have to let go and things may not go the best. We have seen miracles this week though and it's been good. The Christmas season is actually a bit tougher for proselyting because people are so busy and focused on their families and they're most often in their homes and not outside where we can talk to them. The Muslims in our area are out just as much as before though so street contacting has been a bit tough. Plus, Elder DeHaan and I are just getting adjusted to being together and how we do things. Our Investigators are doing alright though which is good.
    Our golden/amazing Investigator S is awesome as usual. She's progressing well. There were issues so she and her son D didn't make it to church on Sunday but hopefully everything goes well this week. We're going to try to visit them today. S has been really busy so it's been tough.
     Our other amazingly prepared Investigator F who we had lost contact with for about 4 weeks miraculously texted us the other day to say that she hadn't had phone credit and was still struggling to get a new place to live so that she can keep the law of chastity (she's been living with her boyfriend) so she can be baptised. Her text was an answer to many prayers on our part and on the parts of members who we've been asking to pray for her. Hopefully things go well from there.
     Other than that, A (the Polish lady) told us that she's not really interested, she just wanted to know what we believed and doesn't really want to change her life (sad). She did read quite a bit of the Book of Mormon though so maybe it will work it's power on her... We had a new Investigator O and his wife E who are great but are also hard to get in contact with. It took E 10+ minutes to answer the door last night and then O wasn't in so we had to reschedule the lesson for today. Hopefully it goes well. Also, we taught a cool Afghanistan guy named R. We'll see how that goes. He is Christian but it will be tough and I don't know if he grasped the Restoration. Basically, everyone else is on Holiday or we haven't been in contact with them at all because they never answer the phone (thus our having to try to do a lot of finding amidst the Muslims).
     Christmas is an amazing time of the year even if proselyting isn't the best. I can't wait to get to skype my family on Christmas day and also get to spend time with members and their families. It's going to be great if a bit hectic.
     I hope you are all enjoying the Christmas spirit and taking the opportunity to love and serve just as the Saviour did!
Lots and Lots of Christmas Love,
Elder Houghton

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Staying in Coventry for Christmas!

From 16 December 2013

Hello all!

 First pictures in an order that I don't know:

     The view out of our Window with wonderful sticky Christmas decorations from my amazing family. The leaves got mostly cleared up by a massive windstorm a while back so it does look a bit different from a picture that I think I sent before.
      We had the England Birmingham Mission Christmas Conference at the Harbourne Chapel in Birmingham on Friday. It was the first time I've seen the whole mission together and it was quite an event to get everyone there and fed (with mock Cafe Rio--delicious). For the first time ever, everyone from our MTC district who came to this mission was together so we took a reunion picture. We are so old! We've been out now 7.5 months and it's so weird that we are now close to the average age in the mission (because tehre are more younger missionaries). The picture is a bit blurry but it was cool to see everyone.
Elder Bills is now in Stamford
Elder Tanner is in Warwick A
Elder Stubbs is in Solihull
I'm in Coventry C
Sister Reed is in Cardiff
Sister Heikki is in Rwbina (Ruh-bi-nuh... spelled something like that, it's just north of Cardiff and it's Welsh...)

     My warm feet! My wonderful Aunt Greta made these amazing socks which are the best. I would be frostbitten without them. There are in total four pairs of hand-knit socks that I depend on as the backbone of my foot-warming force.

     Coventry is wonderful. Missionary work is hard but we have picked up a few good leads lately. We're still praying for F and B to get back in contact as they've gone off the radar. We're working with a lot of people and things are going well if still a bit tough. The weather has been comparatively nice lately. Not too much rain and the cold hasn't been too bad. We're still having to deal with darkness at 4:30 though. ugh. I miss Sunny California.
     A random thing that I've meant to tell you for a long time is that the mission has a blog (mostly of pictures) that you can check out at for your perusing pleasure.
     So, in transfer news. Elder Ramos got sent cough banished cough to Wales in an area called Cwmbran (pronounced Koom-brawn... I think) and I stayed in Coventry C. My new companion is Elder DeHaan. He's from SLC, UT and has been in England for 4.5 months. He's quite different from Elder Ramos in many ways and there will be a bit of adjusting but it should be fun and we should get some good work done. I'm excited for this transfer. It will be fun and great things will happen.
     Some funny/cool things
     1. There's been a group of Middle-Eastern ladies chanting/singing the whole time I've been emailing. I think it's reciting the Qu'ran but it might be some Hindu thing. I can't really tell as I can't see them-I can just hear. It's pretty interesting.
     2. I get to skype my family for Christmas! It's basically the best Christmas present ever and I'm super excited! Some wonderful members in the ward here are having us over to do it maybe on a widescreen TV with their Skype enabled X box.
     3. With transfers, we got six new missionaries in Coventry. Every team changed at least one and the Zone Leaders got whitewashed (mission lingo for both being replaced) so we now have a Scottish Zone Leader with an Irish Zone Leader and I've been in Coventry longer than anyone else who's still here (except Sister Moser, we're tied for being in Coventry and we're in the same group and we both came from the same district before... it's weird). I still have no idea how to get around City Centre or who the members are or anything that we had to ask all the people who had been here for the longest when I got here.
     4. The chanting/singing just got a lot louder and there's stomping and "whoop! whoop! whoop!" now... The joys of living in a Middle Eastern(?????) part of the world... I love it.
I'm runnning out of time but I am so grateful for the season of Christmas. It's amazing and I love being out here serving and teaching other people so that they too can have the joy that comes from having Christ at the centre of our lives.
Elder Houghton
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