Saturday, 6 July 2013

Testimony of Love, Gratitude, and Prayer. + British Food

From 1 July 2013

Beans on Toast!

Dear Family (and other readers?),
I'll start with my letter to President Rasmussen:
Dear President Rasmussen,

I'd like to bear my testimony of love. Love is what got me through this week and I've come to appreciate how important it is in our Heavenly Father's plan. Love is the motivation for the real good in the world. Heavenly Father's love is the foundation for everything we teach as missionaries. If we do not have a loving Heavenly Father, this life on Earth is pointless. Helping people feel his love through the spirit but also through the loving actions of the Lord's representatives and others is essential. If people do not feel loved, they will not have any desire to press on facing the challenges they face. Satan wants people to feel unloved and hopeless and it's our job to help them feel Heavenly Father's love and give them hope.

This week I've been studying 2 Nephi. I just got started on the Isaiah chapters this morning. Like Nephi, I find great insights and knowledge in those chapters when I liken them to myself and things that I'm experiencing. It's amazing to see the symbolism and other themes that the Lord has woven into those words so that they really can apply to anyone who sincerely looks. The scriptures really are marvelous and I love them! I also studied for a talk I gave on Sunday on The Restoration and the blessings it brings. That was a great experience as well.
Anyhow, I will continue doing my best to be the best missionary I can be and to follow the promptings of the spirit and to love others and be a tool in the hands of the Lord to share his love for all mankind.

Elder Houghton

So, to get to the fun stuff. This week has been a bit slower. The weather has been nice though. English people love talking about (but mostly complaining about) the weather. It's pretty funny.

Just two pictures this week. One of them is a gypsy camp in the middle of a really big roundabout. It's really weird because they are real gypsies with their real horses and weird wagons and rabbit hutches (what???).

The other picture is of some Yogurt (pronounced Yog-ert: Yog like log and ert like hurt )I bought today at Tesco after our two week food shopping fast (not my idea and I was starved). Hopefully you can see that I was adventurous and got the pack with three totally English flavours: rhubarb, gooseberry, and blackcurrant. I ate the one gooseberry so far and it was pretty good.

English food is pretty good so far. The other day we got taken to a fancy Asian buffet by a recent convert/superstar named Kojo Williams (from Ghana) he's awesome. Honestly, I don't think the food here is very bland anymore, it just depends on the person cooking (as it would in the states) I think really that stigma came from the fact that nice classic English meals are kind of boring, always some roast, potatoes, vegetables, and gravy but that's just a "proper English tea." It's weird because they call Dinner Tea sometimes but not all the time and some people have a dinner=lunch thing I think but others don't. I'm kind of confused by it all. Another note on English Food: There are no white eggs sold in English grocery stores. At least I haven't seen any. Also, Beans on Toast is an awesome breakfast. I think the baked beans here are the same as in the states...? I would definitely recommend it because it's fast, easy, cheap, filling, and good energy--I basically lived on beans on toast for the past week until I ran out of bread...
I've had some wonderful experiences with prayer this week. I decided to pray for about thirty minutes one night instead of a usual before bed prayer. It made me realize how much I have to be grateful for--a lot. Gratitude is such an amazing and powerful principle! Meaningful prayer is so powerful. I think we often get stuck in a rut of just giving a normal prayer but it's important to remember that each prayer is direct two-way communication with our omnipotent and loving Heavenly Father. Remembering that helps me make my prayers more meaningful. I've also gained a testimony of families. It's so important to have strong families for the eternities but also important that we have strong families on the Earth. It's really heartbreaking to see how Satan is attacking and destroying families everywhere. I'm grateful for my amazing family and all they've done to get me where I am now.
I'm out of time and sorry that this email isn't particularly long or interesting. I'll get a letter out though.
I hope all is well. It's wonderful to hear about all of your marvelous adventures and fun even if they make me a bit jealous. Thanks for everything!
Elder Houghton

Excerpts from letter to Mom.  Luke heard that one cousin received his mission call to Brazil, and two others are waiting to hear where they've been called.

This is just the response to the email you wrote. You're welcome to share with the family though. Congratulations to James! He'll be there for the World Cup! Also, there's supposed to be a new temple there soon. I'm super excited for him. Can't wait to hear about Macklin and Jacob. You're right about the visas. All the missionaries going to Brazil take forever. Most of the ones I knew went straight to the Brazil MTC but he could be different. Sounds like the chickens are fun. I can hardly wait to see the setback from the bike as well. I'm still quite stressed about that decision but I did pray about it and now I just hope it all works out.  On ministering to ward members:  Contacting people is so crucial. People build up these excuses to make them feel better about not coming to church. Sometimes all they need is an excuse to come. They certainly won't if they're not invited. Sounds like a good and worthwhile effort and goal.  You'll be happy to know that after my one-week delayed talk was delivered on Sunday on the Restoration and Blessings it brings (basically the first and third lessons in a cool mesh which was really fun but also super doctrinal and potentially boring and I also made it 20 minutes long but it was good... breathe.), Our Bishop's wife, Sister Markham, who is from the Netherlands (but has lived in England for 35+ years) complimented me for my strong testimony but also wanted to say that she could see that my parents had strong testimonies and had taught me well just through my own testimony and knowledge. I thought I would pass that on. My experiences with some of the people I'm teaching here help me to appreciate more and more what it means to have intelligent and capable parents. I'm feeling a bit nostalgic about being at home with a wonderful and happy family. Absence makes the heart grow fonder right???
Sounds like Girls' Camp will be fun! Make sure you check on the banner unfurled that we put up. (Responding to the news of a lice outbreak at camp). . Maybe you should just get all the girls to donate their hair to cancer victims before camp and get cool hats!  Don't tell any of them that I suggested that though! haha!

The fourth of July party should be fun. I'm a bit jealous and not sure what I'm going to do to celebrate that occasion. It's a tender subject for the English as it was our rebellion against them. Sorry that the Snail Mail has been patchy. I have little time to write. I thought I got one off last Monday though. Royal Mail is sketchy. I just got a letter from May 23 the other day (it did come through the mission office which was most of the delay but still). I've also had a hard time getting stamps and may send you some letters that I'd like to forward to some friends who are now on missions. We'll see if I can find a place that sells the ones I need.

I love and miss you much.
Elder Houghton

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