Monday, 19 May 2014

Happy Summer!

Dear Everyone,
I know it's not actually summer yet but it's been really nice here in Gloucester lately. We've had no real rain in about a week and it's been sunny and warm-too warm in fact. It seems like only a week ago I was bundling up with my jacket and sweater and scarf and hat and thermals. Whatever, it's nice. English people just hate the weather here. They exaggerate a lot as well about it. I did hear one funny joke though about the "Great British Summer" (envision puddle jumping). It goes like this: "When Noah built the ark, there were forty days of rain and they called it a disaster. If it rains for forty days here, what do we call it? ... ... A Summer!" But it's not really that bad and I like a bit of rain now and again.
I've forgotten to mention it but we meet a lot of interesting people when we go out and street contact. It probably doesn't help that we often pass a road that is made up mostly of care homes for disabled adults. One particular man we met seemed pretty normal. As we tried to give him a pass along card, we asked if he used the internet. He said, simply enough: "Don't believe in it!" and walked away quickly. Though the existence of God is in many ways more provable and important than the existence of the internet, I had thought that as a society, people these days did believe in the internet but then there's this guy who apparently doesn't. I was baffled! It was hillarious to take that interpretation of his rejection anyway. The other day the Sisters also said something funny. Back story after the quote. Sister Urbani: "You can eat the French Flag." Sister Muhlmann: "You can eat the German one too!" Sister Urbani: "But it's made of paper...(of the German flag)." So the story is that they made a cake and brought some to us and the other Elders during their dinner on Sunday night. Sister Urbani has edible Butterfly shaped French flags because she is French and Sister Muhlmann made little German flags on toothpicks because she is German so each piece of cake had two flags. It was hillarious! I don't know though, maybe it's not that funny in the retelling.
Church on Sunday was amazing. None of our few and far between investigators came but the other teams had lots of people there covering a variety of age groups. There were seven Investigators (plus one who is technically a member but her husband is investigating) in Gospel Principles and the ward was doing a fantastic job of fellowshipping them all so there were loads of members in the class as well. They all enjoyed church a lot and loved the welcome. One of the Sisters' investigators was in tears because she felt the spirit strongly and felt that it was where she was meant to be. It was a huge contrast to a few months ago when myself, Sister Muhlmann, and Elder Hunter came in and people didn't really mingle with missionaries or new members and investigators. It was great to see that our united efforts as missionaries to support, love, and get to know the members has been working out and people are getting way more involved. If nothing else, the missionaries who have been in Gloucester lately have been preparing the foundation for a great work. Transfer calls come out tonight and I'm not sure what will happen with all of us. There could be three leaving Gloucester or there could be just one leaving. We shall see! Regardless, I love the missionaries here and they are fantastic!
Elder Bergquist is amazing! He's the first companion that I've had since being trained myself that has been with me for more than six weeks so it has been good. He's a great missionary and friend and I've learned a lot from him. It will be interesting adjusting to a new companion who probably won't do my dishes for me or even want to share groceries. I have been blessed with very clean companions lately-fingers are crossed for the next one. It's been great working with Elder Bergquist and as I keep telling him, hopefully his next companion can correct all the weird things that he's inherited from his trainer...

We had Zone Preparation day today at the Cheltenham chapel and had lots of fun playing chair football (each person protects their chair from being hit-at whish point they are out) (also, a note in case you've forgotten that this is proper football) and then some volleyball in the sun. This Spanish Elder was hillarious when we were playing Volleyball. It's interesting as well that after my mission, I probably won't ever be in contact with so many foreigners. It's great to get to see the culture and see that Heavenly Father truly loves each and every one of us. As I mentioned above, evidence of that love is everywhere. It is in the tender mercies as well as in the trials of life. He is evident in the movements of the planets and the functioning of the world. He is evident in the words of prophets across time. He is evident in the millions of lives changed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If this weren't the last but were the second to last dispensation, I wonder if people would look back on the record written of our time and find it not too different from the ancient stories of the Bible and the Book of Mormon. They might say-"If only they had listened and heeded the words of God, they could have been saved" just as we can looking back. Obviously, this is the last dispensation though and it won't work like that But, it is nice to look back at the history  of missionaries and prophets throughout time and to see that we are not alone-countless prophets and missionaries have gone before us-not to mention the leader of us all-Jesus Christ. I am grateful for that heritage!
Anyhow, I love you all and am anxiously awaiting June when I will get to skype my wonderful-in-every-way family (all six of them!). I love you all and hope that you are blessed with a spirit of peace and love as you continue on in the work of the Lord.
Elder Houghton

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