Monday, 30 September 2013

Full-Time Servant of the Lord

Dear Everyone,
 
     This week has been pretty awesome. It's so wonderful to get to be a full time (and not the 40hr./week kind--the 24/7 kind) servant of the Lord. I'm learning so much. Missionary work is hard in so many ways but it's also amazing how many miracles there are every day that go largely unnoticed because it's just normal for them to occur.
 
     There are a lot of them but here's one:  We were headed down to City Centre to do some street contacting becasue our plans had fallen through for a teaching appointment in the evening. I had earlier noticed that we have four less-active members who are shown (the records aren't very accurate sometimes) as living on our (very long) street. I asked Elder Maligon to pick one out to stop by on the way down. We stopped at this guy's house without much hope really that he would be in or anything. The man came to the door and recognized us. He hadn't been to church in forty years and didn't really want us to come over to share a message with him. He felt like he was too far distant or too far gone. We talked to him a bit more about the history of the street (from when all the houses were built in the 60s and full of English people to now when it's basically the most diverse and non-English area in Coventry) and his 45 (cm?) records (I had no idea... but he's intense about them). As we were about to leave, he basically invited us to come over and have a chat. It was awesome. We've decided we're going to reactivate the man and then he can baptise his non-member wife.

   Another one: It hasn't rained on me in Coventry yet! The downside is that it's just going to be that much harder to adjust when it does start raining 24/7.
 
     We've been working on a lot of things recently. One of the major ones is building up our teaching pool. This is much harder said than done. Really, the difference between a good teaching pool and a struggling one can be as little as one or two solid investigators. The other difference though is that a good teaching pool is fluid and there are people constantly moving in and out of it. Unfortunately, we right now have a lot of people who could easily or are moving out (and not the good way out) and not many new ones coming in. It's always interesting how on the one hand, the Lord is in charge and gives us the people he has prepared but also how we have to put forth our own effort and work to show him that we want and are able to teach by the spirit those that he gives us (so he will give us more people to teach and baptize). Elder Maligon and I are learning a lot though and slowly but surely figuring things out. It's frustratingly slow sometimes but I'm learning patience which must be good for me right?
 
     We're also going to start working more with less-active members. My previous experience with them had been that we had a pool of less-active members who we visited and taught once a week. However, there's no point in teaching with no purpose (logic, right?). So, we're going to work on contacting less-active members so we can teach them, make a plan to return them to activity, and then use them as sources for referrals so we can find investigators to teach. It's going to be great!
 
     Some Pictures:
I don't know if you can see but the black pin is where we live. It's called Paradise. There are some area names that people know but no one uses Paradise. It was nice being able to tell some other missionaries in Coventry that we live in the P of Paradise as they set up their map of the city though.
 
Elder Maligon and I showing off our PMGs and BoMs. I did wear a tie that day. We gave up on the daily picture idea after forgetting for three days so now it's going to be weekly and we're doing one every Sunday night.
 
This is the back of my "Preach My Gospel". My amazing sister Tess made this cool card for me and I put it there so I can always see it. Other missionaries have noticed and asked me to put in a request because they want cool Dare to be a Mormon cards. I think five would be good (Tess). They were really impressed that my sister made something so awesome at home too.
 
 
I love and miss you all a tonne. I wish I could be there for all the adventures and fun. England is great. Missionary work is hard. I guess it's supposed to be that way, right?.
 
Elder HoughtonFull

Monday, 23 September 2013

An Immigrant in Coventry!


Coventry. . .though not quite Elder Houghton's neighborhood!

Dear Everyone,
     Sorry for not sending out a general email last week. Our second library in Leamington closed right as we showed up so we only had the first hour and I usually write this email in my second hour.

Elders Maligon & Houghton
We're going to try to do one picture each day
which should be really good and fun
     I am in a new place and a new, different, and still challenging situation. Officially, I'm training a missionary in the Coventry C area. There are five sets of missionaries in the Coventry England ward so we're the C team (A-E)*. My trainee has actually been out already for 6 weeks now and I'm just finishing the second half of his training. Coventry is only a ten minute train from Leamington so it's not that far away geographically but it is a totally different world. I thought there were a lot of immigrants in Leamington. Not so. We're in the immigrant section of town so there are two Mosques and three Hindu Temples on our street. It's interesting to note that Muslims and Hindus are the nicest people ever! It's just kind of hard to invite them to to come unto Christ. Also, street contacting on our street on Friday is a no go because everyone is headed to the Mosque. Our area is a bit rougher though so I'm learning to be more aware of potential danger (we had an interesting encounter a few days ago that awoke me to some obvious things about staying in safe areas, etc.) It's not really that bad, I just need to pay attention. I realized that I've never been in a place that wasn't totally safe (Sonora, Stroud, Leamington were all basically crime free) and also that I don't any longer have a 6' 2" companion/former American Football player with me 24/7. This brings up an interesting point. My new companion is Elder Maligon from the Philippines. He's great! He's definitely not 6' 2" or an American football player though. It's interesting being with a companion who's not a Utahn and has many totally different cultural experiences and expectations than did Elder Wood and Elder Smart. We're working together on getting the work moving in our area as there is a lot of potential here and lots to do, we just need to get out and do it.

   So, Coventry C will be a different type of challenge than I've had before on my mission but I'm looking forward to being in a city for a bit with a really big ward (it's basically the opposite of Stroud and Warwick/Leamington in every way). Some cool people we're working with now:
The stack of materials in the Coventry C flat.
 Most of it is in other languages.
I think we have about 10 different Books of Mormons
 (that's how some missionaries here pluralize it--
just adding an s on each one instead of arguing about where to put one s)


  X is a Chinese student who arrived in Coventry from Beijing to go to Coventry University a few days before I got here. He is looking for greater peace and happiness in life and was happy to have us over to share some things with him. It's a different experience to teach people who have no concept of God or Religion but definitely still a good one. Unfortunately, though he did live in our area, he had to switch rooms to get away from some fleas and so now he's in the Coventry A (Sisters) area. We're probably still going to teach him a bit and be friends but he'll eventually transition over to the Sisters which kind of stinks.




  
  S is originally sort of from Jamaica. He lives about 5 minutes from our flat and is looking for the truth. We taught him on Sunday and helped him understand the restoration. We also committed him to be baptised but couldn't quite convince him to commit to a date since he doesn't feel like he's ready to make such a big life change yet (because he doesn't yet know it's 100% true). However, we are helping him figure out how to know the truth and gaining good experience teaching him. He's really prepared though which is great and we'll have great fellowshippers for him. It's just going to be awesome.


Some miracles from this week:


  Because I only moved to the next ward up from Leamington and we had to train through Coventry anyway, I didn't end up going to transfers in Birmingham. So, on Wednesday when we transferred, we got straight to work. We set a goal of finding 8 potential investigators from Street Contacting for three hours. It was a bit high of a goal since I'm still working on finding skills (we used to set a goal of finding 4 in a full day in Leamington) and Elder Maligon is as well. In the middle of it, we got a media referral text (manna from Heaven) for someone who had requested a missionary visit on mormon.org. Without that referral, we wouldn't have been able to achieve our goal. Basically, it was a blessing for getting straight to work, setting a goal by the spirit instead of by our own expectations, and not wasting time unpacking, etc. We also found X on that day. A few days later, we got another media referral which was super cool since I've only gotten three before on my whole mission.



So, this week has been a new and exciting adventure. Though in many ways, Elder Maligon already knows to some extent what he's doing, we also both have a lot to learn and figure out together. It's going to be great though. I'm definitely seeing the hand of the Lord in a lot of things and learning to rely on him. This is his work and I think sometimes I get in the way of that by assuming that it's my work. I'm grateful to be a tool in his hands at this exciting time for missionary work. I'm learning a lot and loving it!


Lots of Love,
Elder Houghton


*And we may have an article in the Ensign (but maybe just the additional UK/Ireland pages) with a picture of all of us that was taken yesterday by a Stake High Councillor who is also on our Mormon.org.uk pass-along cards and was in Warwick quite a bit while I was there.

P.S. My address in Coventry is:
Elder Luke Houghton
31 Rathbone Court.
477 Stoney Stanton Road
Coventry
CV6 5EA
England
Our Investigator P in Leamington last Monday night. He's great and came to Stake Priesthood on Wednesday which was really awesome because he didn't know I'd be there (it was in Coventry).

Violence in Coventry:  During our first personal study, there was a giant bang/thud on our window and then blood and feathers stuck there. Turns out this brown hawk took out a pigeon that was bigger than it. We're not sure if one or both ran into the window but it was pretty epic. Hopefully you can see them in the picture. Pretty soon after we took the picture, the hawk gave us a glare and then flew off and the pigeon was left there headless. The pigeon wasn't there later when we checked though...  

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Just Pictures

16 September 2013--No letter this week and transfers are coming up.  So here's a pictorial report of Preparation-Day activities.

Kenilworth Castle (a ruin and really expensive to actually enter so we just walked around and took silly pictures). It was also raining off and on and really windy. England is an interesting place for weather.
We were acting out me about to catch falling Elder Smart then he jumped at me for real. I think you can sort of tell in this picture that I'm about to take a few quick steps back. Helmets for dramatic effect.

 The Elders in our District at District P day at Kenilworth Castle. Elders Smart, Paton (serving in Nuneaton and from Adelaide, Australia), Prosman (our District Leader--on top, also serving in Nuneaton and from The Hague, The Netherlands), and Houghton.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Pedestrians. . .and, "I'm Loving It."



Dear Family and Friends,

     This week has been pretty good. We have built up this area quite a bit and are now sort of working toward a week and a half from now when we'll split it into two areas again. I was going to include here a picture of our super teaching pool and people that we're working with but it has information that probably shouldn't be online so I'm going to exclude it. (Rats, that would have been fun to see!--Luke's Mom)







     This picture is to commemorate the fact that we're pedestrians! It was a pretty funny sign regardless but also funny for us. Elder Smart's bike being stolen has really stunk as we finally had enough to do that we would need bikes but now have to walk everywhere.















 The other picture is from our idea and attempt to take a picture of a door with the day of the month for every day of September. Maybe it will be September 2014 when I actually do that because we kind of failed on the 2nd, 3rd, and etc. to now but it was a good idea anyway right!?









    Some cool things:
not Luke, but we can imagine it. . .






  1. I got a haircut! Sorry, I don't have any pictures. The guy who gave it to me is Polish I think and pretty cool. I let him do it how he wanted to and it is one of the best haircuts I've gotten from a man in a while. Oddly, he was bald but hey. The cool thing was that I tipped him a bit and after the tip, he "noticed" some hair growing on my ears (not nearly as bad as some former Elder Houghtons have ear hairs but they were there). So he sat me down and got this little fireball on a stick going to singe all of the hair off my ears using some cool techniques. It was pretty dang cool.






   2. I keep forgetting to mention that Leamington is right under the approach to Birmingham International (which only has one runway). So, we get to see tonnes of cool planes fly over all the time. Birmingham International is pretty small though and it's basically just a bunch of 737s, A320s, and Q4s. Still pretty cool though. Emirates flies a 777 in every day that I try to catch.






   3. The new missionary dress code allows us to wear Khakis. I got some Khakis today. Hopefully they help us not stand out as dreadfully as the baggy American trousers I've been wearing.






Previous hand-knit socks from the amazing and wonderful Aunt Greta






   4. I got some socks from my amazing and wonderful Aunt Greta. They are awesome and warm and handmade!















     5. The weather has been really nice the whole time I've been in England but the days are starting to get shorter (i.e. the sun sets before 9:30) and it's been a bit more cloudy than before. This summer has been unreasonably warm for England but I think I'll survive the wet. It's been a bit drizzly today and I actually quite like it.




     We've been really blessed to be able to get some work going in Leamington. The Branch here is awesome! There are just tonnes of really cool young families who are really nice and supportive and want to do missionary work. It's great. They're the best. I'm just really afraid for when we have to split Warwick up again. I have no idea what's going to happen at transfers with everything. I'm 95% sure I'll be staying in the branch here but not sure if Elder Smart and I will be splitting it up and getting new companions, if we'll get two new Elders to go to the Warwick house, if we'll get Sisters, etc. etc. Anything could happen.


    Our Investigators are awesome! I don't know how all my time has evaporated as I haven't really even said anything in this email but things are good. I'm working hard. I'm definitely learning a lot. This is the Lord's work and I'm so grateful to get to do some of it. It's amazing how He has us learn and grow as we do this for Him and for His children. I'm loving it.

Lots of Love,
Elder Houghton

P.S. Sorry my written responses to letters have been less than regular. I have some catch up to do today and finally some time to do it... hopefully.



Monday, 2 September 2013

Leamington is Great!





Elder Houghton  with  the Coverntry Zone of  hard-working missionaries!
Mom's note:  He looks happy, doesn't he?
Dear Everyone,

     This week has been wonderful! The work is moving forward in our area and we're having great success! We have some investigators who are really prepared to receive the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and it's amazing to be a part of their experience. I just hope and pray that I'm up to play the very important but actually quite limited role of teacher.

     Two of our investigators made it to Sacrament Meeting on Sunday. It was awesome but also really stressful. You want everything to be perfect so that they can feel the spirit and want to learn more but this is still a church of imperfect members. It's great though when the members of the church really pull through and make great things happen (especially when we're almost late because we had some difficulty with the rendezvous with one investigator so we're worried that the other investigator is sitting all on her own at the chapel wondering what in the heck she's gotten herself into for the next three hours)--(a  member was really nice and talked to and sat next to her without even being introduced).

     Today, we had Zone Preparation day in Coventry. The Coventry Stake (which is also the Coventry Zone for missionaries) is one of the smaller ones within the mission. It's funny because there are not really many wards or branches and two of the wards are smaller than our branch in Warwick. So, our zone is one of the smaller ones as well. It's great though. We had a bunch of instant barbecues and everyone brought their own meat and then we played football (English) at a park. It was quite epic. History of Coventry: basically Coventry was leveled during the Blitz because it was an industrial centre and the place where the British made many of their tanks. It's crazy that the whole city is there now. You can tell that it lacks a lot of the historical character of other surrounding towns though.

     Some other cool and/or weird things: 1. An American family moved into the Branch in Warwick about a month ago from Oklahoma. They knew the Hobbs a little bit. Now, the husband is a professor at the University of Warwick (which is actually in Coventry) and he's taken on a fellow-shipping challenge with one of our investigators. 2. My Math(s) professor for Calculus 113 at BYU was English and was named Steve Humphries. There are some Humphries in the branch who live in Stratford-upon-Avon (Shakespeare's birthplace). Brother Humphries in the Branch is Professor Humphries' brother! It's a small world. 3. On Saturday, we were walking to city centre to do some street contacting. When we got there, we saw a gay pride type festival. We didn't know it was on that day, though we'd seen advertisements for the event before, and it was a bit awkward that we were there. Needless to say, we ended up knocking some doors a bit outside of town centre. It was pretty funny.

     Things are great. I'm totally out of time. I love to hear from you!

I love and miss you lots!
Elder Houghton
A British bus!

Finding & Castles & Such!

Elders Smart & Houghton
on Preparation-Day at Warwick Castle.
Luke promises he is not a drunkard, really!
Letter from 27 August 2013

Dear Everyone,

Before the computer times out, I'll explain that yesterday was a bank holiday so we got to email today. We had our District Meeting in Coventry today as well and because we were a bit late to the train, we had to lock our bikes up at the Coventry station instead of the Leamington station. Coventry is a bit rougher of a town and the bike storage areas are outside the actual station. Anyway, when we got back from District meeting to head home, both of our bikes had the cables cut away. Fortunately, the cable on mine was only attaching the front wheel to the D lock and nothing was stolen (except my cable is now in two useless pieces). Elder Smart's however was cut in half and his bike (which was pretty nice) and helmet had vanished. So we now may not have time to make it to the other library for long to finish emailing.
A whole new meaning to the Armour of God.
I almost got my head stuck in there.



Anyway, this week has been wonderful! We have figured out finding a bit and now have lots of work to do which is awesome! Our Zone Leaders and District Leader helped out a lot and now we just have to go and get to work. It's awesome! Unfortunately, we may be slowed down quite a bit now by having only one bike for two people (the maths don't work well for that).







We've had a number of amazing miracles this week. On Sunday, we had decided to tally up our numbers for call-in reporting at the park instead of heading home (so we'd have more time to do some finding (because finding is actually not just drudgery now!) before dark). We were sitting there and all of a sudden, this Indian man walks up and asks what we are doing. We explain that we are missionaries. He tells us that he wants to do missionary work with us on the weekends. We tell him he has to learn what we're teaching first. We met him last night and committed him to be baptised on the 14 of September. I don't know how much of what we taught him he really understands as he has no religious background and it was in a park. We shall see tonight though as we've arranged to teach him at a member's home. It's crazy because this could actually happen. Admittedly, I did think he might have been high the first time we talked to him but we shall see tonight.

Other than that, we have a lot of real investigators and people to teach. It's wonderful. Many of them are just the first lesson so they may not be particularly fruitful but we shall see. It's amazing and wonderful to actually have missionary work to do! I'm loving it.

A picture of the huge Rim Fire at home in CA.
We're ok though!



Fires at home sound really scary. I hope everyone is safe. I hadn't heard much about anything there other than that there were big fires in California but that there always are so there was no need to worry. Tuolumne County people will definitely be in my prayers.








I love and miss you lots, sorry this email is crazy,

Elder Houghton


A tower at Warwick Castle



The trebuchet at Warwick Castle

A Sand Castle of Buckingham Palace at Warwick Castle.
Someday, Twain Harte lake will get one as nice as this.