Thursday, 8 January 2015

A Weekly Email At Last!

From 24 November 2014

Dear Everyone,

Sorry I've been slacking on writing you a blog email lately. The root of the problem is that I actually have more time to email because we do so at the chapel-->me ending up not being in a rush and looking at pictures of President Eyring meeting the Pope and The Ft. Collins Temple and random other stuff (not to mention mormonchannel!) and not not emailing and focusing on that. I will probably have to spend a few days on wikipedia once I get home to catch up on world events I realised. It's good being away from it but super annoying when people mention tidbits but don't know enough about what's happening. I can't tell you how many times people have told me that there was a massive snow storm in America and then only after I ask they say it was New York State (It's funny because that is as far away from Home as Poland is from here...) and other political news which would be best if people didn't mention at all. Grr.

I've learned a lot on my mission and my understanding of the world and of people has changed dramatically. I've learned that the Gospel of Jesus Christ really is for everyone. We often think of the gospel as everything to do with the church-Relief Society, the Word of Wisdom, all the other commandments etc. which is sort of true but really the Gospel of Jesus Christ as restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith is the way by which we access the Atonement of Jesus Christ and become clean from our sins so we can have peace and eternal happiness. God's commandments are not meant to restrict us-they are meant to help guide us to peace and happiness. He wants us to have real happiness. The world is always there and it may appear in the world that there is a different way to go about things but in the end, anyone can see that obedience to God's Commandments brings happiness and blessings and disobedience brings sadness-not always immediately-in fact most often, the consequences for our actions take a long time for us to understand and realise-if they didn't though, we would not need faith to follow God. People may say that God is not real, that Jesus Christ did not live, die, or return to the Earth Resurrected, that Joseph Smith is not a prophet of God, and that the Book of Mormon is not the word of God but that does not change the fact that God is real, Jesus Christ did live, die, and overcome death, Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, and the Book of Mormon is true (among many other truths). We will always always always be better off if we do what is right and God will allow us to see that if we will but seek for the truth. I'm grateful that as a missionary, we get a special opportunity to live in the world but not be of the world. It's an opportunity for two years to see the world a bit more like God sees it and I'm grateful for that.
Anyhow, things have been going good in Walsall. Let me tell you that it is really stressful and hard to get a non-English-Speaking family from eastern Europe to church and to help them have a good experience there. Oh man, Sunday was really stressful but it turned out ok. Our cool Slovak investigators did say they liked church and would come back even though they didn't understand much of what was said (you should have seen me scrambling to use Google translate during Gospel Principles and I only really got to translate the section headings...). We and they survived though so it's all good. The weather hasn't been too bad either which is wonderful. Last Monday, Elder Tukuafu and I made a Sort of proper English Roast Dinner (usually a roasted meat item, two kinds of potatoes, 3-8 types of steamed vegetables, a few Yorkshire Puddings, and a lot of gravy). We ended up with fried pork chops, only mashed potatoes, carrots, a few Yorkshire puddings, gravy, and home-made apple sauce (the American way-the English way is more of a condiment that you eat a tiny bit of and with no cinnamon) (could/should have added another veg item but it was too late). I realised that after years and years of making apple sauce with my family and canning it as part of a massive production requiring seven full-time labourers, a full size kitchen, specialised equipment (canning stuff and the apple peeler-corer-slicer suction-cupped to the counter), and an outdoor range, that it's actually not that hard to make in small quantities on your own and there's no need for exact recipes etc. It turned out great and Elder Tukuafu even said "ehh, it wasn't too bad" (about it being on the pork chops-initially he thought I was joking when I said that the apple sauce went on the pork chops and tasted really good). Also, the Pork chops were on sale so it wasn't even that expensive! It was a nice taste of home and I was only in a food comma for about 45 minutes after the fact so I had time to get ready and go after P day ended. Success!

In other news, it's approaching the Christmas season! Elder Tukuafu keeps telling people he really wants to see snow (which apparently paralyses the country even if it's only an inch or two) which would be a bit fun at least and we had a member invite us over for Christmas dinner already (really nice to have that sorted now rather than later even though I may be transferred the week before Christmas).

So, things are going good. Missionary work is hard but it keeps on going and there are many things to be grateful for. We did a district finding blitz in Sutton Coldfield Town Centre after District Meeting last week and no one wanted to talk to us (it was dreadful-way way worse than normal). The only people I got to stop the whole time were some college kids (college here = ages 16-19 ish I think-not like in the states) who were just messing with us anyway (we found out when the sisters called to make an appointment because it was in their area). But while talking to them, a cool guy named J. walked up behind them and was happy to see us-Elder Tukuafu and I had met him in Walsall a few weeks ago and kind of lost contact because he was sick etc. The facts that we had the blitz in Sutton Coldfield (among three options), that I ended up on the side of town that I did end up on (not knowing that he lived there or that we would be on the street with all the college kids getting out and having assigned areas out to each team of missionaries), and that the only time we stopped to talk to anyone was at the exact right moment when we needed to be stopped there so he would run into us were all very very improbable. I believe that the Lord wanted us to meet him and so he arranged it. It was way cool and I'm so grateful!

Anyhow, it's time to go. Thanks to the Illinois Houghtons who sent me a letter this week!

Lots of Love,
Elder Houghton

P.S. Check out soon!

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