Tuesday, 29 July 2014

A Sunny Week in Gloucester!

From 28 July 2014

Dear Everyone,
First of all, thanks so much for the random pink water bottles that I got in the post today! I take a hint that someone thinks I need to be drinking more water. Not sure why pink though... It has been very hot and sunny lately which has been tough but it's ok. We just are careful to not bike too far and to take breaks in the shade periodically plus hydration and sunscreen. The weather is quite nice today actually-sunny and clear with a few clouds but not really hot (yet-it's only 12).
This week has been a bit slower for missionary work but it's been a good learning/humbling/growing week for me. The Icing on the cake was a quote from President Monson that is my new motto. Here it is:

So that's my new motto. It's hard for me because I'm a natural problem solver-I see a problem and just want to fix it immediately (although maybe it's just too long in science and engineering related studies...). Sometimes people and their feelings/needs then become secondary to the need to solve the problem at hand and return to optimum efficiency or performance. I realised though that when we focus on individuals and there needs as would the saviour, those things may naturally follow and things will eventually work out the way the Lord wants them to.

So, like I said, it's been a learning and growing week for me. Elder Jones is doing great. I'm learning to love his Finnishness (not Fishiness!-try saying Finnish Fishing 10 times fast!). Things are good even if our area is slow and people aren't super responsive. We got to do some service for Gary and Susanne doing some work on their back garden. It was really great to do some physical work even if it was swelteringly hot and humid and sweat was dripping off my forehead.

Love you all lots. Sorry it's so short but I'm out of time! Hope to hear from you all soon! I'll try to write some letters today if there's time.
Elder Houghton

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

A Sunny Week in England

From 21 July 2013

Dear Everyone,
Sent this to Elders Houghton
and Jones this week--hopefully
they'll stay hydrated!
This past week has been slower but good in some ways. It's been dreadfully hot and humid and I've thus had a few minor sunburns and actually some heat exhaustion  on Tuesday that resulted in a bit of nausea and a need to slow things down and get super hydrated for the rest of the week. I think it's just because we're outside and it's hot and it kind of wears at you when you don't take any breaks or sit in a cool room (there's like no air conditioning anywhere in England) for days on end but I've got it under control. It's weird because it's not a dry heat like I'm used to in California and Utah-nor is it that hot at all really-it's just the humidity that makes it worse-plus the fact that it wasn't so long ago that it was cloudy and rainy 6 of 7 days of the week. Should be alright now though.
English "washing up liquid"

Nothing particularly exciting to report to you this week. We got S connected with some family history her sister has done and G's got lots of Family History work to do yet. Still a bit tricky to figure out membership numbers that we can get to link in with them but we'll eventually make it work. They're doing great and we got to meet some of their family this Sunday which was good. Just trying to convince S that she doesn't have to feed us every time she sees us and also convincing G that he really does have to let us do the washing up (English for dishes-different from washing which is laundry-also, they call dish soap washing up liquid and it's a bit different from our dish soap I think so if you ask for dish soap in a store, people will give you a weird look).
"Mountain Houghtons" at the completion of the Trans Tahoe swim.
We missed Luke!

I'd love to hear from you. I saw some pictures of an epic Tahoe Swim my family did. They are awesome and I wish I could have been there (though I'm a bit rusty on swimming as I haven't been near a pool in over a year).
Levi wore his "British flag" goggles
to include Elder Houghton in
the family Trans Tahoe swim!

Love you lots. Sorry it's short. I had to write a lot in other emails and time is very limited.
Elder Houghton

Monday, 14 July 2014

Time flies!

Elder Houghton has ALWAYS loved playing in water and experimenting with waterways.
Here he is at about six, playing in the ditch in a rainstorm in front of our house,
with his cousin Mack, who is now also serving a mission!
Dear Everyone,

A few things from today:

1. We went to the Waterway museum at the Gloucester Docks. It hasn't been open on other Mondays when I've checked but it was pretty cool to see how the canals and rivers of England have played a crucial part in the economy of the country through the years. The best part (by far) was an interactive play canal system with locks and a mechanical lift and little boats to play with. It was fantasatic except for the fact that most of the toy boats were waterlogged and the locks had bad leaks. I ended up flooding both locks and then releasing them, causing a flood that the pump that made the thing work couldn't quite handle and there was a bit of overflow onto my shoes and trousers. But no one was looking and it dried off quickly enough. It was pretty cool. We also got to go inside a canal boat that was modeled as if it had been used in the late 1800s. It was pretty epic. There is a picture of Elder Jones sitting inside attached-along with a picture of the mini canal system.
2. We ran into the Sisters in City Centre randomly (it happens on Preparation days because we all go to the same places). We didn't talk long and then they headed off in down one direction and shortly thereafter we heard some shouting/chanting from that direction. I was worried for the sisters and called them but the chanting was approaching us and it was too loud to speak to them. Turns out it was a protest against the Israeli airstrikes in Gaza. The protestors ended up coming to near where we were getting our bikes unlocked and making a bit of a speach there so we left with no issues. I mentioned to Elder Jones as we left that it probably wouldn't have been the best time to start singing "Ye Elders of Israel."
This week has been pretty good. There have been challenges and we are still trying to get our feet under ourselves for the new transfer that is now almost one third over but it's ok. Time flies! There's nothing specific I'd like to share from the investigators that we have at the moment. Many of them are a bit flakey so we don't know what this week will end up looking like but we shall see. On Friday, I got to ride in a car for 2.5 hours. That's pretty remarkable. The longest I've been in a car on my mission other than that was probably about 45 minutes. Funny how that works. There was a District Leader Training Meeting at the mission office so to save money (£30 per person to train to B'ham), they had four District Leaders from our zone take the car from the Forest of Dean together. It was really weird but good to be in the car for so long with the other District Leaders and to just talk about things with them totally openly. It was odd because there was me, another District Leader from my group, and two who are younger (one by quite a bit) so I was like one of the old fogies. We had some really good discussions and then the training we got from President Rasmussen was great and then we had some more good discussions in the car on the way back including being stuck in traffic. It's funny because an hour in a car is a long time for an English person and I've adjusted to that expectation (brought snacks for the ride etc-The English low salt ritz aren't very good).
Out of time. Love you lots!
Elder Houghton

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Worth It All!

Tekstiin lisättävä kuva 3
A Baptism!
Elder Jones, Elder Houghton, G, and Elder Orr
Dear Everyone,

Transfers happened on Wednesday. They weren't that exciting. Elder Hunter and I knew that we would probably be split up and that it was slightly more likely that Elder Hunter would leave than me so it was no surprise when that happened. I'll now be in Gloucester for my 5th transfer total (3 in C and 2 in A now) and my new companion is Elder Jones. He's Finnish but his Dad is Welsh-thus the Welsh Jones. He's very tall and blond-my first not brown hair companion I realised. He's been out on his mission for 3 transfers (thus continuing the theme of me not serving with anyone who's been out more than 4.5 months except my trainer), and he was trained by President Boyd K. Packer's grandson Elder Packer in Cwmbran, Wales (awkward when people ask how long he's been in England and he has to explain that he's been on his mission for a a while but he's only been in England for a few days (because English people tend to think of all of the UK as England but that's offensive to the Non-English UK citizens).

Tekstiin lisättävä kuva 1
G was baptised on Saturday with a bang and a splash! We got there way early to fill the font but it didn't work. Turns out the boiler for the font was messed up again so we ended up filling it cold and late so that even though the baptism service didn't start until 6:30 (it was scheduled for 6), we had to wait a few more minutes for more water to fill it up so that I could safely get G under the shallow water. Fortunately, it's the summer so it wasn't that cold-really quite refreshing and nothing compared to the water that my family is going to be in for the Tahoe Swim I hear. S loved it all even though she wasn't feeling well. G's confirmation went well in Church on Sunday-it was a full house because there was an extended family there for a baby blessing. We taught G and S about Temple and Family History work while doing their dishes last night (not enough time for washing up and a lesson so we did them together). We showed them family Search and they were impressed that I could trace back to Houghtons before the 1500s. So, the only issue is getting their membership numbers so they can start on their family history work and take those names to the temple so that their ancestors can have the same joy and peace that they have now. S was just so happy and she's really seen a change in her life since she's started coming back to church. I got to hear the full story over dinner last night and it has been a long journey for her-she has endured it well.
In other news, the weather hasn't been half bad. My knee has been bugging me a little bit again (I thought it was only a winter thing from thermals but now I think it's a reaction to the fact that we've been only biking for so long that when I had to take a long walk with the Elders I was with for transfers in Gloucester, my knee didn't like it one bit. Quite odd but that's my theory for the moment). We're back on bikes now (Elder Jones didn't have one when he came from Wales because it was his first area and there was one in the flat there for him to use so Gary hooked him and the new Elder in the District up with really good used bikes for great prices (I was way jealous)). So things should now be good.
Hopefully everyone knows about the Birmingham Mission Blog at ebmission.blogspot.com where Sister Rasmussen has posted loads of pictures. You can hunt for some of me or anyone if you want. It's just tricky because they don't add names so you have to zoom in on the nametags. We have an amazing Mission President and Mission President's Wife. They are the best and they truly love and care about us a lot.
Sorry for no pictures again. I'm getting some of the baptism from Elder Jones and will forward them soon.
No more time here but I love you all lots. Things are going great. I have learned a lot recently and have yet much more to learn!
Elder Houghton

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Thank you for your prayers and your goodness!

Dear Everyone,
Thank you so much for your prayers and your goodness. I was sitting in Sacrament Meeting yesterday (for what could or could not have been my last Sunday in Gloucester) and it just hit me that there was so much good done by the members of the ward. It's quite different when you first get to a ward and you have no idea who anyone is and it's all just a blur of what's going on and me not understanding compared to after you've been somewhere for a while and you know and love the people. You have an idea of what their challenges and struggles are. You see the Light of Christ in their smiles and their hellos and their lessons and their conversations. It's wonderful. It just overwhelmed me in church how wonderful all these people are and how grateful our Heavenly Father must be for every act of service that they have done for His precious Sons and Daughters. So, I hope that everyone everywhere gets a chance to feel Heavenly Father's love from some of those kinds of remarkable people.
So, some funny things:
Being missionaries, we have a signature at the bottom of our texts (it just says Elder Houghton & Elder Hunter). Elder Hunter pointed out to me though that people often, when responding to our texts then add their names on the bottom just to copy us. A few weeks after we've first started texting them our daily scripture text and they've been responding with their names at the bottom of the texts, they often ask us (now that they're comfortable with us) about it and it's really funny because they've been copying us. It is hilarious but maybe doesn't seem all that funny the way I told it.


Last week, I had my first Fish and Chips. You can get it anywhere and I've had chips before (quite different from fries btw-in fact you can in many places choose chips or fries). The chips at this Chippy weren't that good really and the fish was just kind of ok-didn't taste nearly as fishy as I'd imagined it would and was just kind of bland overall (it is English right, so maybe I should have known!)

The week has been good. G is going to be baptised on Saturday almost certainly (There are always last minute hiccups to worry about hence the almost) and will be more than a little devastated if Elder Hunter leaves on Wednesday (as he invited Elder Hunter to baptise him). It will be fantastic! It will be a great step forward for the ward because S and G represent many miracles that resulted from the prayers and work of missionaries and members working together (President Monson-esque). It's really exciting!
On transfers, as always, though I can guess, I really have no idea what will happen. Elder Hunter and I will likely split up which I am sad about as it's been awesome serving with him... eh. I'm sure though that the Lord has things all figured out and as long as I can trust in His plan, things will be for the best (easier said than done).
We got to give service to the Bishop in Newent (a small town way out there but in the ward boundaries (small but still bigger than Sonora I've been told in population...)) which was fantastic and fun. The only issue is that I've been a bit sunburnt with that big yellow thing in the sky from 4:15 a.m. to 10:40 p.m. lately and so I got a bit pink working on redoing a shed roof. They were fantastic though and treated us to some South African Barbecue (which actually was done in the oven because despite it being a nice day, there were two random downpours). That's the other thing about the weather in England. Not only does it rain a lot but there's no way of knowing when it will randomly start pouring with rain despite being sunny ten minutes prior to the rain. So, we have to carry both face sunscreen (it's bad because the sun right in your face from about 7-9) and a waterproof layer wherever we go! It's not been to bad this last week though.
I have no pictures as the new camera doesn't like to charge on the USB wall adaptor thing I've got and is charging now on the computer (hopefully).
I love you all lots and hope everything is going well. I'll let you know about transfers once they happen (so next Monday).
Lots of Love,
Elder Houghton