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



  1. For those wishing to write, please use the Birmingham Mission address at the top of the blog. Postage from US is $1.10.

    Also, this quote from Luke's Uncle Rick re: the MTC food. . .

    “English cuisine, like English weather, prepare one for the small disappointments of life.”

  2. So does that make them 4th half cousins once removed?

    Glad to see Luke is safe and well!

  3. Good work on that genealogy. I immediately went to family search and got thoroughly confused. I saw a page that sealed Sylvester to Wilford Woodruff listed now as other parent. I was glad to see David Low and Jame Oliver correctly listed as his parents.

    Elder Tanner is a brother to Zach Tanner, who I worked with on the Christmas concert we had with Brother Craig Jessop, former conductor of the tabernacle choir. Zach has started a musical group in which Julia, Maren, Amy and Carlen have participated. Good family those Tanners.