Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Transferred. . .five minutes down the road, and things are taking off!

From 26 May 2014
Elder Houghton's new residence. . .a former mental hospital, turned apartments!

Dear Everyone,

     Guess what? I was transferred! Woa crazy. I got moved five minutes down Horton road to my new flat as I'm now in Gloucester A (I was in Gloucester C before). It's really weird and confusing for everyone and I still feel like I'm just on exchange with my new companion-Elder Hunter- who I have exchanged with not one or two or three but four times before. I've also already slept in the bed that I'm in now, eaten their food, and all such things. I already know the members (a huge plus as we're working with members loads now) but I don't know them so well that I can't build a new better relationship with them as the new missionary in their area. Gloucester A is the best! I love it loads and I'm excited for the new opportunities. The rest of the District got shuffled as well a bit. Elder Bergquist has a new companion in Elder Carlson. I'm struggling to stop thinking that it's still my area and I need to check up on things all the time. Sister Urbani got a new companion named Sister Davis who has only two transfers left. She was really sad to see Sister Muhlmann go (as were the rest of us and the ward) but it was alright (her Mom had sent her some Swiss chocolate which the Sisters didn't really want... all I can say is that Swiss chocolate is really different from English or American and it's really really good!). Elder Bergquist is doing well in Gloucester C with Elder Carlson as well. Elder Hunter and I have been in Gloucester the longest (we came in at the same time but he was a brand new missionary at that point) so it's weird that we're together and people know us but then don't know the other missionaries as well but it's ok. Elder Orr was transferred just to the Forest of Dean which used to be in our District. They have a car so they'll be picking us up for all of the meetings as they drive through. Sorry to overload you with the transfer stuff which is probably just a bit boggling as I throw around names that mean very little to you.

Long story short: I'm in the same ward but a different area in that ward. The members and missionary work are getting a lot better and things are taking off. It's the best! Unlike every companion I've had before, I've known Elder Hunter for his whole mission. He's Canadian eh. I'm working on the correct pronunciation of the word bag (it's not beg!) among other things with him and all in all we're getting each other out of our shells. It's great. Last night was hilarious (call-ins before nine-->I actually have time at night to talk/do something). It's going to be a great transfer as I'm learning to be a missionary but not take myself to seriously and also be myself. It's great!

Cool story: A while back in Gloucester A, the Elders got a media referral which was from some members in the states who referred a completely inactive (basically left the church because she didn't believe it when she was originally a member as a child) member and her nonmember husband who live here in Gloucester. The family in the states had taken them on a huge church history tour and they both loved it and felt the spirit and wanted to look into it. The Elders here had been teaching them for a few weeks and the wife recognised the spirit strongly while in church last Sunday. She decided there and then that it was the right thing to do and decided to go back to her church the next Sunday to tell the Pastor and everyone else that she had made that decision and she knew our church was true. Her husband wasn't as quick to come to that conclusion yet but it was miraculous and brave of her to make that decision and then just tell everyone at her old church yesterday. Last Sunday, they met and were fellowshipped by an awesome couple in the ward (all are in their late 50s/early 60s) who quickly built up a great relationship to the point that after the Sister in the ward came to teach with the Elders on the day before transfers, the LA/investigator couple invited them over for a chat on Friday. Great strides were made. These particular members have recently moved to the area after feeling that it was the right thing for them to do despite the commute to where they used to live for work. They felt that the Lord had planted them here but they weren't sure why yet. They were praying for missionary opportunities and then this amazing opportunity to fellowship and bring into the church some people that they had never known came to them. It is a testimony to me that Heavenly Father answers prayers-when they are truly in the name of Jesus Christ and aligned with His will. He wants us all to do missionary work and share the gospel and he will give us those opportunities to do so if we will but ask, seek, and knock. It's amazing. So, we're asking the other members in our area to pray for missionary opportunities and it's great.

Also, on Saturday, we were blessed with the opportunity to move a family in the ward that we had been working with in Gloucester C because they have an inactive son and needed our support as well as the after baptism lessons for the husband who never got them after joining the church about three years ago. They moved from within Gloucester about a 20+ minute drive away (a serious commute for English people). Areas within the city have names but it's kind of hard to describe as it's different from in the states. Some day after I get home, I'll make sense of it to you.  Anyway, it was a pretty stressful move (massive rain storm on the day of after the nicest weather week in months plus a cat that they hadn't known was pregnant giving birth on the day of the move plus the moving van situation being a real hassle plus a Stake football activity so many of the Elders' Quorum were at that instead and couldn't help). Anyway, we managed the move with four Elders, a member of the ward named Brother Fisher who is awesome and always willing to help with everything, the Bishop and his wife (his wife stayed on the Newent end where they live as well and made lunch and stuff for everyone as well as helping with the unloading on that end), and four members of the family moving.  I've learned a lot about moving in the three moves I've done on my mission. The trick I think is in the planning and preparation that you do in advance of the actual move. It was tricky for the the family because they didn't have much time for that but they managed it. It did take essentially all day but it was good.

So anyway, things are going well working with members in Gloucester. We have a goal/plan of visiting every active family unit that we can (there are a few that we would need a car to visit) at least once a week for a stop by at the door (asking them to pray for something or reminding them about the month of invitation (June) or sharing a miracle etc.). The long term goal is to receive a member referral from each active family unit within the summer. I always kind of thought that referrals were up to the people giving them to us but I've come to realise that we actually have to do a lot of work to prepare people and help them know what to do and how to do it to give us referrals. As a start, the Elders in Gloucester C got a member referral yesterday and we've got one hopefully "in the oven." After attending ward council, member missionary work has kicked off and people are engaged and asking what they can do and it's great! I'm so pumped! It's amazing how the Lord uses us and our faith. As we change our desires to align them with his for the salvation of his children, he blesses us to be able to achieve them. It's fantastic!
Anyhow, time is limited as always but I love you all loads and hope you have a wonderful week and hope that you too are praying for and award of opportunities to share the gospel.

Elder Houghton

P.S. I still can't really fully use my camera so no pictures.
P.P.S. There have been two bike crashes in Gloucester A since I got here. Elder Hunter detailed the most recent one to his family like this:

"So Elder Houghton and I get along really well and I think these next few weeks will be really interesting. Just yesterday we were riding our bikes and he came to a quick stop in the middle of the side walk. I wasn't paying attention and... wasn't even holding on to the handle bars as I am too cool to do that and so I had only a split second to reach forward and grab the brakes. Unfortunately I grabbed the wrong brake which incidentally would normally be the right brake, but here in England the brakes are backwards. But I grabbed the front brakes and pulled hard. The back tire came up catapulting me through the air straight towards my gawking companion. There was definitely a guardian angel watching over me because I was going really fast and I should have flattened him. Instead I landed fairly lightly on his back and held fast too his back side. If only someone had been filming it,  fortunately neither of us were injured, besides a pretty crippling charlie horse, but nothing too life threatening. I'm not entirely sure how it all played out because it happened so darn fast, but somehow within a very short time span I was distributed from my bike too his and no one's the wiser." ​

P.P.P.S. New address! If you send it to the old one, I'll have to walk a few minutes to get it! This one should work but it's a bit confusing as there are a few roads around our complex, the crescent, which is a converted mental hospital (haunted and creepy but not really and a nice big flat compared to the tiny Gloucester C one--just to illustrate-we have two bedrooms and two bathrooms, a massive kitchen/living area, and a few closets while C has just a tiny living area and a tiny bedroom and a tiny bathroom with no space to do anything. Also, we have about three times the fridge/freezer capacity now! It's fantastic!)

3 The Crescent
Horton Road

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