Sunday, 29 June 2014

Summer Solstice, World Cup, and A Baptism Coming Up!

Dear Everyone,
I've never really understood why the height of the sun's light in the Northern Hemisphere is the beginning of the official summer and not the middle but thus it is. I can't remember if it's the 22nd or 23rd either but that's ok. English people don't seem to mind the official beginning of summer-they just care that it's hot. It's funny.
So, a few things (sorry for no pictures--Mom will have to provide some!):

1. The rhyme Humpty Dumpty is apparently about a cannon that was part of the siege of Gloucester a long time ago.

2. The World Cup is a Big Deal. I've meant to say that for a few weeks. There are some houses with massive England flags out. Some people put England flags on their cars and then just drive around honking their horns randomly. There are loads of Brazil things all over as well. They've made up the word Braziliant which, along with the Brazilian and English flags, can be seen all over town. There are also jokes about going Brazil Nuts about the world cup as well as new flavours of cup noodles and flavoured drinks for Refreshing Rio and Brazilian BBQ steak. That's just a few. I got some cheap Brazil and England socks to celebrate and keep as mementos. With all this excitement, you'd think that England would be really good at football. But they're not! They lost every single game that they've played and they're already going home. I've even heard slightly serious jokes about an American victory. It's kind of sad really. There's a lot of grumbling about how the English leagues just import loads of foreign players so when the World Cup comes around, there aren't any strong English players. Anyhow, England is headed home and World Cup stuff is now cheap.

3. We had a fantastic Zone Conference at the Rhwibina chapel which is in a sort of suburb of Cardiff. It's cool that we can take an hour train trip to another country sort of and fun as always to go to a big city and see the sites while busing up to the chapel (Cardiff Castle mostly). Cardiff is really cool. The conference was amazing as well. Unfortunately, the Cardiff Zone (who all live near) were told it started an hour later than it was supposed to so we all had to wait and it did end up starting an hour later than it was supposed to but that was ok. There was great training on working with members and using time wisely as well as some testimonies from departing missionaries and etc. The spirit was strong and I loved it. Sometimes, I wish we could have Zone Conference every day because it's just so great.
This week, it's been really hot and slow. Things have actually gone remarkably well for missionary work. the people we're working with are doing well. It's just tough to get everywhere and have time to do everything when you're on bikes and live out of your area and it takes 30 minutes to get there (and about an hour to get to the far end.
Our Investigators are doing well. One question we got this week was why there are so many people who join the church but then eventually leave and oppose the church. It's a tricky question. Why would anyone who has come to the Well of the Waters of Christ ever leave and why would they then seek to keep others away from the truth which they once held dear? Although it doesn't answer this question specifically, I think the root of it all (as with most sins) is pride. Pride is refusing to submit one's will to the will of God and that is what we often do. If we are willing to listen to and heed the counsel of God's living prophets, we will be able to successfully navigate through this earth life. If we refuse to sacrifice our own will and carnal nature for the eternal purposes of our creator, we won't. It's simple but also difficult. I've learned a lot about Pride and I've been greatly humbled on my mission as I'm sure I will continue to be for the rest of my life (and I definitely need it!). I pray that we, like the Saviour, will be able to humble ourselves before our Heavenly Father and accept His will in all things. I know that by doing so, we will qualify for his blessings and help in our lives. In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Houghton

P.S. Gary is going to be Baptised on the 5th of July! It's going to be Amazing!

Good Week!

Dear Everyone,

First of all, an apology to Eliza who I've been sending this email but at the wrong email address since she got back from her mission.

This week has been good. We have some wonderful people in here who love us and we love them. Both myself and Elder Hunter were sick with a weird flu bug (or maybe minor food poisoning or something???) for the latter part of the week which really stunk but we're better now. We were taken down to Kingsway (part of our area and a 40 minute bike ride from the flat) to pick up our bikes (which we'd left there after it started raining and we were offered a rider home and Elder Hunter didn't have a rain jacket (left it at an Investigator's house)) and when we got there, we were totally out of it and hadn't really eaten anything all morning and the member whose house the bikes were at was just wonderfully kind and mothered us a bit-got us to eat some breakfast and sit down for a bit and told us off for not drinking enough water. It was just so nice to be parented! I miss being a juvenile dependent! Well, they insisted that we not bike back (we probably wouldn't have made it) and that we take a sick day as well because we were so out of it and pale.

Other than being sick though, the week has been good. I'm learning loads about how to help people connect with the Saviour. It's so important. It's funny that when i came out on my mission, I thought I had it all figured out but I was so wrong. There is so much to learn. I'm glad that perfection in missionary work comes only after this life because my mission would be really really long if I had to work toward perfection at the rate I'm going at-and that's just in missionary work and teaching. Hopefully that makes sense to you all.

The camera hadn't been charged yet when I took the ones for District P day so there are only a few. Also, Elder Hunter is camera-phobic so there aren't any of him (or at least of his face-I don't think you'd care much to see the back of his head) in this batch.
Elder Bergquist and Elder Carlson (Gloucester C). Might be able to see one of the sisters in the front in an underground Roman ruin that we went to on P day as a District. This part is the broken down gate house tower.
Gloucester was an ancient Roman Colonia (second level of city after Rome itself) called Glevum for army pensioners.

Stones that formed the base of the wall-interesting technology to place those where they are.
 A cool carving thing on a street in City Centre by the library. Don't know exactly what for...

I only have a few minutes left at this point but I'd like to take that time to bear my testimony. I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the very Saviour and Redeemer of the World. I know that it is through him that families can be united in happiness and joy for eternity. I know that Joseph Smith Jr. is God's Revelator in this, the dispensation of the fullness of times. I know that Thomas S. Monson is God's living prophet and the Lord's mouthpiece today. I know that the Book of Mormon is true-that it is the inspired word of God. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is Gods' Church established on the Earth today. In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Lots of Love,
Elder Houghton

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

A Week in June!

From 9 June 2014

Dear Everyone,

Firstly, on the weather. The weather is always changing and can be a bit frustrating. I had one person promise me that I didn't need to carry my jacket in my backpack on Sunday because it was so nice and surely wouldn't rain and then there was a downpour for a bit in the afternoon but went back to being nice 30 minutes later. There was one massively cold and pouring down rain day as well (Thursday I think) plus a forecast for torrential rain and hurricane force winds which cancelled the greatly anticipated ward summer party on Saturday but was not that bad at all and ended at 12 and there could have been a great party in the afternoon except for the sogginess and the fact that the party had already been cancelled. So, the weather has not been making us happy lately. Other than that, it's been sunny and warm-quite pleasant. I keep thinking that it's too hot before realising that it's not really hot at all by any standard I'd had before my mission.


Secondly, I don't know if it's the weather but there has been a dramatic increase in bike damage lately. I've had like three flat tyres, a broken pedal arm, and a broken pedal (on two different bikes) to deal with. We are blessed with a wonderful and amazing investigator who fixes bikes as a hobby though so things are ok. He's amazing and always willing to help.

Thirdly, Church was great on Sunday. We had three American accents for talks on Sunday (an American couple plus a Sister missionary) and there were a few jokes that the ward would need a translator. Even in the few short weeks that we missionaries have been trying to work with members and get to know them more, the ward is changing bit by bit and things are getting better. The members in the Gloucester Ward are fantastic and I'm beginning to realise that the members and the organisation of the church often provide the foundation upon which long term successful missionary work can be built up and maintained. So, we're going to address and support that foundation as much as we can so that our efforts in this part of the Lord's vineyard can be magnified.
Fourthly, I got to skype my family yesterday which was great but also very short. It was great to see them and I was happy to know that they are all well (including Eliza who just got back from her mission and Levi who dropped an octave and gained a few (quite a few) inches). I love my family so much!
Fifthly, I now have a working camera (thanks to the family) but I forgot the micro to normal SD card adapter which would enable me to share the pictures that I took today of District P day (also took a lot of time so I'm getting further behind on my letters--ahh!). The six of us missionaries in Gloucester got a private tour of an underground ruin of a section of the ancient Wall around Gloucester. It was quite remarkable. There's a windown fom Eastgate Street which is a major City Centre street into part of it but it was quite a bit larger and way cooler than I'd expected. The museum lady was happy to let us into the museum and then underground even though the museum was closed and it was great. Then we went to McDonald's (in a secret recognition of the fact that we just barely have an American majority in the Gloucester District now (we haven't for quite a while)). Ok, actually I just thought of that now and it was really because we had McDonald's coupons. We also met the World Record Holding Town crier.
Oh snap. I only have one minute left. I was going to share a lot more cool stuff. I love you all lots and hope you have a great week. Next week's email will be better.
Elder Houghton