Thursday, 30 May 2013

Pics from the Mission Blog

We have discovered that the wife of the England Birmingham Mission president, Sister Julie Rasmussen, does a fine job of posting photos on the mission website, so despite the fact that Luke hasn't yet acquired a cable with which to download his photos, we have a few of him at a recent training meeting!
Luke's Mom

Luke's "zone."  There are four zones in the mission.
I suspect the couple on the left is the one that lives near him.  Luke is dead center, in the second row.  

A missionary always appreciates food and drink!

In typical form, Luke is wearing his backpack.  Did you notice none of the other Elders have their backpacks on?
Always be prepared!  

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Stroud is a lot like Sonora. And Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling.

Elder Houghton's neighborhood?

No pictures yet. Sorry. Working on it.  (So his mom will add some from Google Images.)
Cheese Rolling in Gloucestershire
A Cheese Rolling victor!
Yesterday was a Bank Holiday and P day so we went with the senior missionaries (who are a huge blessing-- there are only like three couples in the mission and they have a car and our area is one of the biggest so we need it and they feed us sometimes and they're really funny and they're new like me-- it's great) and two YSA members (there are actually a lot of YSA people in the Stroud ward (which itself had only 52 members on Sunday of which about 8 are moving out in the next week and six (us, the senior couple, and a senior couple of Stake missionaries) are missionaries--the Bishop also lives elsewhere in the Stake--it's pretty tiny and would definitely be a branch in the States)). Anyway, the six of us went to world famous Gloucestershire (pronounced Glah-stir-sure) Cheese Rolling which you'll have to watch on youtube as it's quite complicated to explain. It was quite epic except that the actual action only lasted about 5 minutes and we were there for 5 hours waiting for it to start and then waiting for a Spanish man who majorly broke his ankle to be taken off the slope (TH lifeguards could have done it in 20 minutes easily but England Fire/ambulance department were making a point of taking a long time because the event (100+ year old tradition) is officially banned). That basically took up all of P day though which is why there are no pictures as I need either an SD card reader or a cable that attaches my camera to a USB plug.

Stroud is a lot like Sonora in many ways. It's a hippy town with a lot of outlying areas (tons of placenames) that all have their own little downtown areas and such. It's also on a hill and very white. Most other areas are completely flat, including Yate where I had an Exchange on Wednesday and will have another tomorrow (our District Leader (our District is just us, the senior couple (the Darracqs), and his companionship) is there) which is where J.K. Rowling once lived. There are some interesting things in regard to that. A little town in our area is called Durseley and lots of neighbourhoods look just like Privet Drive. It's kind of freaky. The houses are all really tiny and the cars are miniature (as are the windy roads). I was walking by one building that was actually two houses (lots of houses are just parts of a bigger building) and realized that it's longest outer wall was shorter than our short one but that I had been thinking of it as big in comparison to other houses I've seen. Basically all the cars are little hatchbacks.

To answer some questions:

Marta; the MTC was about 65% American. There were three English missionaries, one Irish missionary, two Danish, one Swedish, one German, two Pacific islanders, one Brazilian, two Chinese missionaries, three Russians, and three Canadians. That's all I can think of now. The rest were Americans and probably half of the Americans were Utahns. I haven't been forced to eat an egg yet. Nice try though. In the MTC they really drilled the fact that we are always supposed to call missionaries by Elder___ and Sister___ and not ANYTHING else (just their last name, their first name, or even referring to a group of missionaries as "guys") so just Elder___ or Sister___. I almost called Kirsten Sister Weber in an email I wrote her. I was in the MTC for 13 days. The flight wasn't too awful but it was pretty lame as the navigation screen we could watch was really poor and the rest of the entertainment system was not missionary appropriate. Most people just pronounce Houghton like Americans do when they're introduced to our name so I help them out. A few have told me that they've seen it pronounced Haw-ton though. I actually didn't feel sad at the Sacramento Airport at all. It just wasn't a sad experience for me-just happy really to move on. How were you all?

Tess; the English keyboard has a shorter left shift key and the backslash key takes up the right half of what would be the left shift key. The " is on the 2 key, £ are on 3, $ are on 4, @ is where " is on the American keyboard, there ~ and # key is next to Enter, and I think that's it. The MTC was awesome. There were only like 60 of us there and it was totally different from Provo and I had the best District ever and an overall awesome experience! The missionaries there were inspiring.
Ok. If I failed to answer questions, please note that it's hard to answer them but easier if you highlight/number them in letters. I know that sounds super lame but it's really helpful. Mail stuff to my real address which is:
Elder Houghton
Flat 29A Lansdown
Stroud GL5 1BG
Caroline's getting MARRIED!!! Crazy! I'm jealous though because all the Kemper family  will be out in California and I won't be there.

Now some spiritual stuff. I've been studying Preach My Gospel (I wish I knew it way better than I do right now) and the Book of Luke in the New Testament in addition to the study that I do each day for the investigators and others that we are teaching. I'm learning a lot from the New Testament about the life of Christ that I've forgotten since seminary in 2008-09. Also, the Book of Mormon amazing and is definitely the most powerful tool we have as missionaries to invite others to come unto Christ. I'm so glad I had Brother Largey's class the last two semesters and Marta, make sure you get him. His class really prepared me for understanding the scriptures the way missionaries need to.
I've got to get on to writing an email to President Rasmussen so have a lovely week and keep me posted.
Elder Houghton

Monday, 20 May 2013

Settling In

High Street in Stroud

Dear family,

Stroud is a beautiful place. It's sort of quaint but really cool too. The weather has been great (I brought it with me). My camera may or may not be able to connect to the computer at the moment, we didn't get to that this P day but I'll work on it soon. The ward here is only like 60 active members (a branch by US standards) and the building is right up the road from the high street and weekly farmers' market. We had a UK/Ireland regional conference broadcast yesterday and so I haven't actually been to church there yet. The broadcast was really awesome though as was the Saturday afternoon adult session. The stake seems really impressive from what I've seen though. Interestingly, it was all pretty applicable to me as a new missionary. 

My companion Elder Wood is from some place near St. George. We get along fine so far. The only investigator I've really met so far is Mike. We had our first lesson with him on Thursday when I arrived and I committed him to baptism if he learns that that's what Heavenly Father wants for him. I've grown to appreciate the importance of asking them at the very first lesson (even just a soft commitment like this one was) if they will be baptized. Doing so allows investigators to bring up any concerns that they have and get a vision of our final end goal for them. Commitments are everything because they are a measure of how far an investigator is and if they are really on the right path or need additional help. Also, it gives them something to do and think about so that they're not only learning when we're there. I've also come to really appreciate Preach my Gospel. It is an amazing resource and study guide for pretty much everything we need. I wish I knew it better before I came out here.
Tess: The first AP test is always the worst one but also the most valuable because you learn so much from taking it. You will have done fine. Don't stress about scores. You have my permission to keep yours a secret. Get a 5 on APUSH and APUSGOV though or you'll have to take American Heritage which is a drag that you don't want to have to deal with.

Marta: I'm sure you don't really care much about your scores. At this point, your year is basically over. Just don't get expelled before graduation. Any news on who the salutatorian is?

Mom: Thanks for the update. I would love to have the text of the family blog copied into an email that I could read if that would be possible (that might be what you already did). Everything sounds sweet though. Sly move with the girls' night in. Sounds like the Sonora 2nd Ward is having a lot of fun too. I'm glad things are going well in that arena.

Dad: I was worried that the jacket would need a particular type of waterproofer as it was already supposed to be waterproof before. Should I even worry about that?

Levi: I sent you your own email and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Hermana Houghton: I sent you your own email too. We have mould here too so enjoy!
Sorry I haven't written much today and that there aren't pictures yet. I'll be better about that.

Elder Houghton

P.S. Send mail directly here or I'll only get it once a month. I'm supposed to be here for 12 weeks and maybe more so:
29A Lansdown

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Word from Stroud

Hello all!
A little geography
This is Elder Houghton reporting a safe journey and arrival in Stroud, Gloucestershire (pronounced Gloster with an open o/ah sound), England. Our area is the Stroud Ward boundaries. It's quite large but the populated area is mostly walking distance and there's a bike here that I can use for now if I need it. Stroud is the only area with hills outside of Wales.  Our flat is rather dingy and needs some work but we're right in the middle of town. We had our first teaching appointment with Mike who we contacted last night to set up a first lesson. He's interesting to say the least. My companion/trainer is Elder Wood from some little town near St. George. He's awesome! I was a bit worried on the coach ride to the train station to get here about how we would work out but he's really dedicated and we've already gotten to work. He wanted me to check in even though P day isn't til Monday, just to report that I'm safely here as he has to be at the computer anyway to sign up for a driving lesson.

There's also a senior couple in our area who had us over for dinner (the Darracqs from Yuba City I think) last night. The ward here is apparently really small even for England standards but we have a pretty decent teaching pool and a few good appointments today. 

A Stroud Street
Stroud is a charming little English town in the South of the mission, North of Bristol. It's pretty much the dream of a picturesque European town with lots of red brick, narrow winding roads, people walking everywhere, etc. I feel a bit isolated from everything right now and we only had a very short few minutes with President Rasmussen but that's ok as we're getting straight to work. First door approach last night was unsuccessful but we did pray for two miracles and got one in the form of being invited over for our appointment today with Mike which was a much greater Miracle than we had anticipated. I'm Elder Wood's first trainee but he seems really dedicated to getting me to learn everything I need to and he's pretty bold/wise/mature compared to other missionaries I've seen. In mission lingo, he's my daddy and my grand daddy gave us a call last night to check on his grandson. Anyway, everything seems to be going well. I'm recovering from a bit of a cold that I got in the MTC. Elder Wood keeps telling me that I'm being really blessed to get a good impression of the weather here as it's sunny and beautiful with just a few clouds. One thing that I hadn't thought of is that England is so far North that the days are really long here. I hear that it's light from 4:00 am to 10:00 pm in the zenith of the summer. In the winter it gets down to like 8am to 5pm of daylight so it's pretty nice being able to walk around at 9 in broad daylight (no door approaches after 8 though Mom).
All is well. I'm a full blown real missionary. Talk to you for real on P day.
Lots of Love,
Elder Houghton

Oliver Wood?

We're huge "Harry Potter" fans at the Houghton home.  Thus, the news that Luke, in England,  had been assigned a training companion with the name of Elder Wood brings this to mind. 

Hope Luke learns to be a great "Seeker."  

Luke's Mom

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Assigned to Stroud with Elder Wood

Sister Rasmussen, Luke, and President Rasmussen at the Birmingham Mission Home
We received word from the England Birmingham Mission President's wife, Sister Rasmussen, that Luke arrived safely.  

Stroud, England
He has been assigned to Stroud, a town of just over 12,000, on the West coast of England, in the Cotswolds.  He will live and work in the area for at least six weeks.  

Elder Wood and Elder Houghton
Luke's mission companion, who will live and work with him, and  train him in the field, is Elder Wood.

Luke's Mom

New arrivals to the England Birmingham Mission

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

On the bus to Birmingham. . .England, that is!

Dear Family,
     I'm leaving the MTC tomorrow early morning on a bus to Birmingham!!! I'm super excited. Today we've done a bunch of workshop type stuff to get us ready for being in the field. I could have a teaching appointment as early astomorrow night! It's kind of crazy. Anyway, we're just supposed to get an email sent off so I'll get more information to you as soon as I can. I may or may not actually have a camera to USB  cable that I can use. I was planning on using my SD card but there aren't SD card readers on desktops and so there may not be pictures. Still working on that Mom. Thanks for everything. Also, I'm not sure if I was clear that I need Dad to do some research on how best to waterproof my Patagonia rain jacket. It's not going to fly as it is right now. Anyway, I'm off to get that picture at the temple. Have a lovely day. My guess is P day is Monday but who knows???

Lot's of Love,
Elder Houghton
P.S. England is AMAZING and all is well!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Mother's Day at the English MTC

 Beautiful temple grounds

The MTC. All of those flags are represented at the MTC
 plus there are some Danish elders and some Pacific islanders.
Dear Family and others who will eventually read this,
     It's Mother's day! Usually, missionaries get to call home for Mothers day but there aren't phone facilities here for that so President Edwards arranged for us to be able to email today in addition to P (preparation) day as our next P day is who knows when because we're entering the field ON WEDNESDAY. It's kind of crazy. Sundays here are amazing. We don't have normal classes like other days but we still have a full slate of activities. We had a workshop on church history in England, one on music, and one on missionary handbook information. We also have already had the three hour block of church meetings (a District meeting in the place of Sunday School).

The Sisters in our district (I think this is the right one).
 I think I've already told you that my District is amazing! Our district has a lot of anomalies right now. We got an Elder from Oklahoma who had his visa delayed on Tuesday so there is a trio of Elders and then myself and Elder Stubbs. Also, our English district member Sister Reed's Father passed away from cancer he has been dealing with and went home for the weekend but is coming back (she has amazing faith and strength) tonight. So, the remaining sisters are in a trio as well. It's a little bit rough but they are awesome. The missionaries here and especially in the Helaman district (ours) are just really dedicated to doing the Lord's work and learning to be the best missionaries possible. We're learning a ton even though it's really hard and exhausting. 

Also today, in priesthood, we got the rundown on the how to of performing priesthood ordinances. We were asked to tell our Mothers what we learned and what we would do because of that. So mom, I'm need to keep it short but we learned that we are responsible to do Everything to be the most righteous and worthy priesthood holders ever and that's what I'm going to try to do because I want to always be in the right place at the right time. On another note, I'll work on a picture and scripture for you. 

 Elders Stubbs and others on the
bridge over the canal
The Canal and houses on that rainy day
Weather hasn't been the best for a picture (not all that bad either). Yesterday, our district plus a few others went for a jog on the towpath of a nearby canal in the rain and got stopped wondering why we were all so happy (great missionary experience). Tomorrow, I'm going to try to get a picture like the one we have of our family at the temple. It was too rainy today. We located the spot to get it though. It will be funny. Also, Dad, can you figure out what is the best way to waterproof my Patagonia jacket? It is really not waterproof up to an acceptable standard at all and I basically got soaked through yesterday. Eliza, sorry I didn't get a chance to write yet. P day was a bit not as relaxing as I might have liked. Marta and Tess: How was the parade??? Levi, your birthday present may be a bit late as there aren't really facilities for me to send you a package from here.

Love you all and especially Mom! Thanks for the info on Elder Stubbs.
One of the Elders in our district (Elder Bills) with the funky
English soda. Vimto good. Ginger beer bad.
Lemonade on the right is like sugary sprite and is ok.

P day spoils

Wednesday, 8 May 2013


Elder Houghton and Elder Stubbs, Preston England MTC
Dearest Family,
     The MTC is AMAZING! First things first though. That Elder that we met in Sacramento who was going to Birmingham was just the start of a large group of us. At SLC, the two of us joined with two other elders and a sister who were all flying to Atlanta. At Atlanta, we met up with more and more, we walked around and just ran into other missionaries and all got Panda Express to celebrate the fact that we're not going to get Americanized Chinese food for a while. There ended up being eleven of us missionaries on the flight to Manchester all going to the MTC. Right now, most of the missionaries here are going to Birmingham or Scotland/Ireland. There's also a group of ESL missionaries going throughout England. There is a whole district of them and they're all learning English without anyone who speaks their own language. There are three Russians, a Brazilian, some Pacific Islanders, a German sister, and two Chinese Elders. One of the things that Eliza mentioned that I had sort of forgotten about was that we're not allowed to talk about "guys" or "girls" so now we have a rule in our district that if any of the Elders say it accidentally, they owe five pushups. It's great. Anyway, the rest of the missionaries here are already fluent in English. About 70% of the remainder are American. We have a few English missionaries and a few other Europeans and Canadians. There are about sixty missionaries total here.

     My district here is awesome as well. We were assigned our companions and leadership on the first night and without any prior warning, I was called to be the District Leader. Our district is the best! In the picture of us all pointing at the map with me in it, Elder Ferris is missing because he took it, so hopefully you can figure out who he is. Anyway, in that picture, Elder Bills (UT) is the one making the funny face, then there's my companion Elder Stubbs (Both from BYU, Elder Bills was the other missionary from Heritage going to Birmingham), Sister Fairbanks with dark hair from Utah and BYUH, Sister Caswell from Washington (blonde), Sister Heikki from Sweden (Her English is amazing!), and Sister Reed from Cambridge England (she advises us on all the things we need to know about England). Elder Ferris is Elder Bill's companion and is from Idaho, he's the nicest elder (almost typed guy there) you'll ever meet. We also got a new elder from Oklahoma City, Elder Tanner who joined the other elders to form a trio. Elder Stubbs is from Medicine hat Canada and his Grandma, who is a Low and named Elizabeth died in August. We couldn't find the connection with our four generation pedigree charts but could you check, we know we've got to be second or third cousins so it's more than a coincidence that we're both here.

     The MTC here is quite different than in Provo, in large part because you basically know everyone. Also, the food is "eh" and definitely. . .really the only way to describe it is, bland. We're learning a lot and I'll maybe write more about that in a letter. Missionary work is hard and tiring though. We get plenty of sleep but there's just tonnes to learn and do and our whole day is full. Today we got to go to the store and experience British life outside the temple grounds. It was really odd. I'm going to try to get a picture of our district like our family picture when we go to the temple this afternoon. England is amazing, I have no time left, everyone here is awesome, look for mail from England soon and write me! Getting mail is the best thing ever!
Elder Houghton

From Luke's Mom--a response to the query about family relationship to his MTC companion, Elder Stubbs:

Elder Stubbs' great great grandfather was Sylvester Oliver Low, who is Luke's great great great grandfather.  Sylvester. as a young man, emigrated from Scotland after joining the church.  His father was so angry with him for converting to Mormonism that he disowned Sylvester and threw him out of the house.  Sylvester's mother gathered up Sylvester's savings and took it to him--providing funds for his passage to the US.  On the ship to the US, he met Jacobina Wells Osborne who had defied her siblings in joining the church and emigrating.  Sylvester watched over Jacobina and her young daughter Ann Allen Paton, and later married Ann.  Sylvester and Ann were the parents of James Paton Low, and James Paton and Sarah Ida Barber were the parents of William Royden Low, who is my grandfather. 

Sylvester Oliver Low practiced polygamy, marrying four wives altogether.  One of the younger wives was Mary Smith.  Mary Smith and Sylvester had a son named Joseph Smith Low, who was close to William Royden Low's age.  He and his wife Margaret Newton were the parents of Elder Stubb's grandmother, Elizabeth.  

Now, what's extra fun about this is that my mom knows Joseph Smith Low and his wife Margaret well, as "Uncle Joe" and "Aunt Marge."  Technically, they were her father (Royden)'s half-uncle and his wife.  But Royden and Joe were close in age and bosom buddies--known to be a hilarious duo.  It was said that if you got in a car with both of them, you wouldn't stop laughing all the way to SLC  (which was about a 16 hour drive).  My mom says that Elizabeth Low (Elder Stubbs grandmother), known as "Beth" to them, lived with her family in Edmonton during WWII when Beth was in university.  My mom was about 8 years younger, and watched Beth's romance with Oswald Stubbs take place.  She remembers Beth as very smart, majoring in finance, and very funny.  Oswald was a pharmacist.  Beth and Oswald did marry, had several children, then divorced.  I'm not sure which of her children is Elder Stubbs' father.  

So it looks like this:  

Sylvester Oliver Low m. (1858) Ann Allen Paton                      Sylvester Oliver Low m. (1885) Mary Smith
                            |                                                                                         |
                James Paton Low                                                                 Joseph Smith Low
                            |                                                                                         |
              William Royden Low                                                                  Elizabeth Low
                            |                                                                                         |
                 Ida Low Kemper                                                                  Elder Stubbs' father
                            |                                                                                         |
           Denise Kemper Houghton                                                              Elder Stubbs
               Elder Luke Houghton


Thursday, 2 May 2013

He's on the Island!

Mom and Dad, I'm at the MTC and learning to deal with the (slightly) different English keyboards.  The flight was fine.  Everything is good.  P day is on Wednesday and you'll hear from me then.  Preston MTC is quite a bit different from Provo

Elder Houghton

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

He's Off!

Luke left Sacramento at 6 am today, headed for the Preston England Missionary Training Center via Salt Lake City, Atlanta, and Manchester.  He arrives in the UK at 9 am tomorrow--which is 1 am Pacific Daylight Savings Time.  He was excited, paced as he was getting ready this morning, a bit baffled by the whole scan-your-passport electronic boarding pass process, and truly ready for the two year adventure in service and growth awaiting him.  God speed, my son!

Luke's Mom

P.S.  We will post his emails to us as we receive them.  Subscribe to this blog if you'd like to be reminded when he has new posts!