Monday, 5 August 2013

First Caffeinated Soda?

View across the Severn River into the Forrest of Dean
(of Harry Potter fame)

 Dear Family and Friends,

Elder Houghton's new English "ensemble"
 including skinny purple tie and English suit

     This week has been... I don't know. Good news is that the weather has been back to the English normal so it's been fresh, clean, wet, etc. I love it. It's great to wake up to it raining just enough that it clears the air and lowers the temperature so you can have a beautiful sunny day! Being out in the rain isn't the best though. I'd better get used to it though. Being here during one of the hottest and driest summers on record hasn't really helped me acclimatize to normal English weather.

Kool-aid winnings from a contest at Zone Conference--
needless to say, they have no Kool-aid in England
     One thing that actually happened last week that you'll find funny is that I drank my first caffeinated Soda. Ever! And also my second (I think). The first was at a dinner appointment with an awesome recent convert and her nonmember husband. They served us what is I guess Tesco brand diet Dr. Pepper. Or something like that. I didn't even think about the fact that it was probably caffeinated until after I'd drunk it and I didn't get a chance to check but I think it was. Later that week, another awesome recent convert wanted to get us something to drink before our meeting in a nearby park. He got a big case of Coke. It being my first Coke, I thought it was actually a bit bland. I probably wouldn't drink Coke even if it didn't have caffeine now that I know what it tastes like.

     This Sunday, our ward was super small for a number of reasons. We only had 34 people there which was a bit sad. However, the testimonies for Fast and Testimony Meeting were great. It was inspiring to see and hear some really amazing and wonderful people testify of what they know to be true. Testimonies are strengthened when testimonies are shared and my testimony was definitely strengthened. The Gospel of Jesus Christ really does change lives. Our loving Heavenly Father really wants us to be happy now and in the eternities. Sometimes it's difficult but we just have to let him work in our lives to make that happen.

    Today I get to find out who my next companion will be and if/where I'm moving areas. I've learned to love Stroud and my sweet trainer Elder Wood but I am looking forward to a fresh start and a change. I've learned so much about what I need to do to become the effective and capable missionary that I want to be. Now, I just want to go out and do it. One thing I've seen is that there's always room to improve and we constantly need to be learning and striving to do our best in order to receive the revelation and direction that our Heavenly Father is sending to us. As we step forward with faith, he illuminates the path for us. Periodically, he lets us see a glimpse of the distant future but most of the time we just have to accept that what we're experiencing will be the best for us.

     Also this week, I finished reading "Jesus the Christ" by James E. Talmage. It's 800 pages of amazing information. I've learned so much about the life and ministry of the Saviour. One thing tha struck me that I hadn't noticed before involves Christ's death. Elder Talmage explains something that I did not know or think of before; that Jesus Christ literally died of broken heart. The extreme physical, spiritual, and emotional stress his body went through as he prepared to sacrifice himself for us and as he hung on the cross caused his heart to rupture. In Psalms somewhere, it prophecies that his heart will break for us. It's interesting that we talk about heartbreak the way we do now as sadness over the loss of a relationship or something like that. Our Redeemer's heart broke as he suffered and mourned for us. He loves us so much and wants us all to come unto him. I hope that as a missionary, I can be a tool in the Lord's hands to help others do that and receive of his love and the peace that comes through living his gospel.

I'm out of time. The Lord keeps doing His work.
Elder Houghton

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