Monday, October 27, 2014

Last transfer is Shelley Idaho. The Baton is officially passed to her brother.

Hello Family!

This is it! This is it? How can this be the end of my mission? How can I adequately describe how I feel right now? So many emotions and memories are coming to my mind.  I have been working with my whole heart, praying that the time would slow only sped up. But this experience has been better than I could have imagined, this has changed my heart. No literally my heart might be in the shape of New Jersey (so says my companeria's). But I think it might be, and it is going to break leaving. 

But if I do have to leave this Garden State, this will be a week I will never forget. 
Half the week I didn't sleep at my apartment. Here is a quick recap of my week (more to come in person) 
 We went on our Departing trip (I think I talked about that last week?)
Departing temple trip. The contrast from the hustle and bustle of NYC and the temple is night and day. Loved everything about it except for the traffic....
 TAC day my last one and Heavenly Father has really been helping me hold it all together. 
Saturday Temple AGAIN :) and we had a ward Trunk or Treat and Chili cook off, there was a HUGE turnout and 1/3 of the people there weren't members of the church :) Sy came with his trunk FULL of candy. 
Sunday gave a talk in Sacrament meeting on obedience and had some pretty spiritual experiences. Going to miss this ward! 

Back to Saturday because it was a very special day....

Saturday I became companions with Sister Pastores again! We drove with a senior couple into the City for Al's endowment. It was the most powerful and sweetest temple experience that I have ever had. Al was smiling and had tears in his eyes when we all sat in the Celestial room. This is not the rough and tough man we started to teach a year ago. The gospel has transformed him into the man Heavenly Father wants him to be. I sat there soaking in the spirit thanking my Heavenly Father for that tender mercy. I can testify that there is nothing sweeter than seeing someone change and embrace the gospel IN the Temple. Nothing. The temple is what it was all about. The Joy I felt at that moment was a glimpse of what is to come as I remain faithful. It was a piece of the Joy of eternal life. I have felt pieces of that joy before on my mission, but sitting with Al at the temple by far surpassed anything I have ever felt before. TRUE JOY. Many people have touched my heart here in NJ, but Al has a huge piece of it. It was a beautiful experience and I was so grateful I got to share it With Sister Pastores. 

And so that is why it is going to be hard to leave. Dad you were right, it is harder to leave then to come. It is so much harder to leave. I have been subconsciously touching my name tag, savoring the days before it will not be physically visible for the world to see. 

The past 18 1/2 months I have worn His name over my heart. I have shared His Gospel. I have been His hands..... I have felt His love. and every second has been such a blessing. It is ALL because of Him, our Savior, that this JOY is possible. It changes lives. Mine included. All of the work I have done is for Him. I am eternally grateful and indebted to Him for his love and sacrifice!  

Elder Houghton, I'm passing the baton to you. Hurrah for Israel brother! 

Now it is time for me to get transferred. This transfer is a little different. I will no longer be wearing a black name tag for all to see physically, but I will have one etched into my heart. I will continue to share his gospel...this time as a member missionary. I will still try to be His hands. This is going to be the hardest transfer of all, but with my Saviors help I am ready for the challenge. "For I am NOT ashamed of the Gospel of Christ...for it is the power of GOD unto everyone that believeth" 

And I do Believe! 

Signing off from the Garden State
Sister Heather Sue Houghton

Al made it to the temple!!

Sister Pastores at the Manhattan Temple

October 20, 2014

Hello Familia!

This week has been a many beautiful....wonderful things have happened. and most of all my testimony of my Savior has been strengthened. I love Him. 

Our companionship is rock solid, I'm not trying to brag, but these Sisters are on Fire. We have been doing our best to teach and find and share the message! We shared the Restoration with everyone we taught, I LOVE sharing the First Vision part, I selfishly... pray that I get to be the one to share it with the member/Less-Active orr Investigator. There is power in Joseph's words. It is true! The church has been restored because of that moment! 

Well last week I completely forgot that It was my 18 month mark, I didn't even think about it....I forgot that I had to pack for departing trips and when my companeria's reminded me it was mad dash trying to get things together for the trip...I count it as a huge blessing from the Lord! I am completely loving being a missionary. If I decide to stay here in New Jersey, please understand that this place has my heart and ya'll can come visit me out here one day :) needless to say when they say it is harder to go home than come out they are compleltly right. But I am loving every single mili-second of my last week as a full-time representative. Every second

Holy Cow. 
I went on my departing trip! Yesterday we went to Ellis Island, Liberty Island, saw lots of 9/11 monuments , got a private tour of the Basilica in Newark( A very large cathedral that a Pope went to) they even let us sing church hymns. Felt like the cathedral in Hunch back of Notre Dam...wait that might be called Notre Dam? but whatever the case it is beautiful. We took soo many pictures. I loved being with all the Departing Sisters. There is a special bond with someone when you come out on a mission together and then leave together. They (with my comps) will be my Forever friends. 

Holy Cow #2 
I had my Departing Interview With President Taggart. (embarrassing story....I called Him President Jeppson three times.....) He is such an incredible leader. He gave me lots of advice about incorporating the Mission schedule into my life.....and so let it be known I will be getting up and going to sleep at a descent hour :) (ya'll can lift your chins of the ground now, missions  change us 110%) I have been so blessed with good leaders on my mission. They are imprinted upon my heart forever. My interview didn't get over until 9:00 last night, we had to sleep over at anothers Sisters Apartment so we could get be on time to curfew. That will be a total of 3 nights in a row sleeping being away with my bonita comps, guess its just preparing me for the inevitable.... :/

Holy Cow #3
I just had my last District Meeting. My last Role-play (in D-meeting) I literally just had my HOT SEAT. Hot seat: An even when departing missionaries, share stories/experiences with their zone. and I just had mine. It was a surreal moment, sitting in front of everyone in a large comfy chair, sharing embarrassing moments. I got pretty emotional! But I held it together. Literally the only thing helping me right now is the Enabling power of the atonement. He is the one helping me get through all of this departing stuff we have to go through. Christ is the one who is helping me, and has helped me my whole mission. He has taken my hands and pulled me through the bad, and guided me through the good. He is the one that has made the biggest impact on my life. HE has brought me eternal happiness! :) I am in-depted to him forever and ever. HE is the LIGHT. I am grateful for this ultimate sacrifice! 

This week has many more adventures coming up! I am going to the Manhattan temple tomorrow and then on Saturday with AL! II can't remember if I told you but He is receiving his endowments, and I couldn't be happier. I love this Joy! 

Thank you, thank you for your love and continued support on my mission. I am grateful for each and everyone of you! 

Love you all!
Sending love from Joisey
Sister Houghton (pronounced Hawt-ton)

"the tunnel" 9/11 memorial
Book of Mormon to the world
Playing the sax with sy our 80 year old investigator (he's a saxophone professional) 


Sunday, October 19, 2014

October 14, 2014

Hi family!

I am sitting...staring at this computer screen with no words. How can I describe my love for this work? or my Savior? Maybe love isn't even a strong enough word to describe how I feel, but I will say that I love this calling. 

There is never a dull moment and always so much change. Something I used to hate before, and now I sort of love it. The Assistants called us and told us we were getting a new companion....Sister Cobb :) She is one of the most positive and loving sisters in the mission, reminds me a lot of Jazel from Enchanted.... Its  been great! Never a dull moment, and some bonding experiences I won't repeat here....(but if you want to know you can ask me in person in a little while) I got to start my mission in a Trio and now I am ending it this way, how blessed am I? 
famous mission wall
back of mission card is almost double as long as any other missionary, soo many transfers 

To mix up our finding approach we decided to try something new, we stood at a corner of 7/11 waving our Book of Mormons and singing church hymns.  It was one of the funnest hours of my life. try it :)  insta-happiness. 
- 7/11 contacting on walking day
Made cake like a poached egg...our oven doesn't work
We have been in less-active heaven lately. Those who are coming back to activity are progressing and changing, almost like they are a  new person. I love seeing the changes.

We were supposed to watch the Joseph Smith The Prophet of the Restoration with Sister Ransom at the chapel, well I accidentally forgot the DVD, definitely not a first time this has happened! We weren't sure what to do, but said a prayer and felt strongly to talk about the Word Of Wisdom. It turned out to be a spirit filled power house lesson. and then it hit me, maybe Heavenly Father gives us a "Stupor of thought" so we can rely on him more. Trust in the Lord thy God with all thine heart. He will guide us. 

We had two sessions of stake conference to go to, (all so incredible) and a fireside that Elder Perry broadcasted. It  was about the World Fair in 1964. The Church put on a Mormon exhibit and the effect revolutionize missionary work. Because of that exhibit there was over a thousand convert baptisms every year after the fair. In 1963 (one year before the Fair) the New York Mission-which covered all of New Jersey, Connecticut and New York had 6 convert baptisms. A HUGE difference. The church said that the "Meet the Mormons" is going to have the same effect as the Worlds Fair. Can you imagine? I've been trying to but I can't. This is an amazing tool to use, so go and see it and invite people to see it! BTW Grandpa and Grandma Houghton I love how you worked closely with the Nepali man. It was a fun to see a small part of your mission over there :)

I have been studying, praying and serving with my all heart my whole mission. Now I get to push harder and fight with everything I have, my time is ticking and I want to be able to say to my Savior I gave my all to Him. I know that this is His work. He lives and knows us individually. I love you all! 

Sending Love from Jersey
Sister Houghton

the fam! :) 
Proof the mission changes you...I ordered sushi

p.s next Monday I will probably be at Ellis Island so I will email Tuesday? 

Monday, October 6, 2014

October 6th, 2014

Hello Hello Familia!

Happy October! The leaves are changing and I can feel Fall in the air. It is hot one minute and then freezing the next, I have almost brought back the 90's style of tying a jacket around my waist again. 
Mom thanks for that cute card! (and the moonies) Sister Rogers loved it as well.

We had a surprise here in the beautiful NJMM. We had a special showing of "Meet the Mormons" I laughed, I cried. It will touch your heart. Especially the Candy-bomber (my heart melted at his story) and the Mom. She is incredible. A story any missionary/missionary family will love, any convert...or someone just struggling. WATCH MEET THE MORMONS. It will bless you, Lift your spirits and you will feel the Spirit. :) Unfortunately, we don't have enough people in NJ requesting it, so it doesn't look like the movie will be playing here :( It is going to change the face of missionary work, oh well, we will continue to try. 

Sister Ransom spent all Sunday with us watching Gen Conference, she has officially stopped smoking-(as of Friday :) and chopped off her hair to start a whole new self. She has changed! I met her on an exchange almost 8 months ago, she was completely less-active and now she is back! and feels happy. She is glowing. Miracles of the gospel :) We are still in the Finding mode, but are seeing miracles as we are contacting. I just simply love this work. 
Do you remember the picture of Sister Scotto? She's the Elderly woman that wears her sparkly boot shoes to church. When we went to visit her at the old folks home she had bought each of us a pair! She told us she has really been struggling and our visits help her get from one week to the next. I was touched by her gift and simply love her. 
The sparkly shoes, maybe we will do a dance act at the next ward function. 
How about General Conference!?! Did you catch the themes? What was your conference take away? This is mine- the brethren addressed the issues of the world by inviting us to look to the Prophet. Follow his guidance. Receive Revelation and to be Of the World not IN. How about Jorg Klebingat? Wow, what a bold man. Sister Rogers and I tried to discover all we could about this man, This is what we found out:  he is 47 and called as a General Authority while being a mission president in Ukraine.
 I loved his list of things we need to do so we can be "Spiritually Confident" when we face the Savior. Reminded me of Alma's self-reflecting questions he asks the wicked people in Zarahemla. God's the same yesterday, today and forever. 
And Elder Ballard -( Mom you mentioned him in your letter.) But wow! What a beautiful comparison for us and the gospel. "#1 rule stay in the ship. If you leave the ship you will surely drown" Without this Gospel I would be lost! I would be drowned. If you are lost, come back. The great ship Zion is for all of us. There is no capacity limit. This ship will give you the safety from the storms outside. I know that this is the way to safety, to total and complete happiness. Come Join the Great Ship ZION. This ship is heading to a beautiful destination. 
The close of this General Conference was very tender for me. It struck me that this is the last time I would watch general conference as a full-time Representative. With his name tag over my heart. I touched my name tag and said a prayer of gratitude for all of the many wonderful experiences I have had. 
I love this work! :) I am so grateful to be here! Thank you for all of your love and support! 
Sending love from Jersey
Sister Houghton
At the Meet the Mormons Premier in NJMM, this is Sister Merkley.
Picking my own peaches.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hello my beautiful family!

Thank you for your letters and emails. Rach congrats on all of your running. So proud, you can whip me into shape and Jenn congrats on your play! Be prepared to act out some stuff for me :) 

We had Elder Anderson of the Presidency of the Seventy come to speak to us. He explained that the church is growing fast that it will be doubled in numbers soon. and we will need double the amount of leaders ie bishops, stake pres, relief society pres, primary pres.... and it hit me. One of the reasons of the age change, (now almost two years ago) is to prepare the MANY future leaders of the church. There is a big work to do and this mission is all to help us prepare for this growth. Heavenly Father has his hand in all of this, He knows what He's doing :) I'm so grateful to be on the right team. 

I'm sure you've all heard about "Meet the Mormons" I have watched this trailer so many times I can't count it. I'm just a little excited for this to come out. President/Elder Anderson said that they showed this movie to an audience of non-members. After watching it 70% said they would let the missionaries into their home...70%! This is a great tool the church will have to show we are human, but humans with an incredible belief in our Savior, Jesus Christ. To get it to show in New Jersey we have to request it online and have members request it too...we are working pretty hard to get the members to request this film because of what it will do for the missionary work around here. 

Today I have one month left to wear this name tag. I've been reflecting on my mission. I love it. These past 17 months I have experienced the gospel, felt the joy of serving the lord and learned more than I can write in this short amount of time. I have encountered miracle after miracle and learned line upon line of Gods plan for each of us, and felt of His love! There have been points here I have had to cling to my Savior to make it through....It was those times that I came to understand the need for the Atonement. It is these times that I treasure the most on my mission. He has strengthened me when I had nothing left to give. I am grateful for these trials. Like a refiners fire, I can't become who He wants me to be without going through some pretty hot flames. 

So I will continue to sing this loud and proud 

"Onward, ever onward, as we glory in His name
Forward pressing forward as a triumph song we sing. 
God our strength will be; press forward ever
Called to serve our king!" 

I'm ready and excited to give all I can my last month as a set apart representative. 

I love you all! Thank you for your and encouragement! 

Sending love from the Garden State
Sister Houghton

Had a miracle last week while emailing and met a man named Jeffrey (6'5 black guy) that came over to us and asked if we could meet. He's searching for truth, he was leaving the library when we first met him, when we said hello he turned around and followed us in and said there was something different about us. He calls us the "little sistas" He was supposed to come to church but had a meeting yesterday, he called to apologize and said "I'm so sorry I missed,

I had a meeting, I wish I could have been having a meeting with Jesus like you little sistas were" We think he is awesome and are excited to share our message with him!

fun fact: wawa means baby in district leader told me that
            in South NJ wawa means cool gas station 
           North Jersey Wawa is a bus that takes you into NYC

Monday, September 15, 2014

Hello Family! 

We've had a great week here!  found out this morning that BOTH Sister Rogers and I are going to be together another transfer. I love her a lot and I'm grateful to serve my last one....MY LAST transfer here in Freehold. I've had several moments the past week when it HIT me, that this is my last when I made my last planner and started to cry. I'm being a big ol' worry wort. I can't control it but I'm grateful I still have 6 weeks to work and serve. I love this place more than I can describe. New motto- "Oh Lord, I have trusted thee, and I will trust in thee forever"


Besides all the emotional stuff we are making progress here in the land of Freehold! Last Monday we found a VERY prepared women on a street corner in Matawan while looking for a person interested in our message. She immediately opened up to us about her spiritual journey and some of big difficulties going on in her life. The spirit was strong and we said a prayer of gratitude to have met her. Walking away I realized we met her on the exact same street corner, we had found a VERY prepared Spanish man the week before. I told Sister Rogers we were going to stand on that street corner every Monday at that same time. We have found the promised land :) 

We have been instructed (side note some of my language is now sounding a lot like the scriptures. Sister Rogers pointed it out to me this week) to get 3-6 hours of service a week, the members have been really helping us out and we are now becoming certified organizers, cleaners and old folks home guests greeters. Truly we are in the service of God when we serve others. It's been incredible. 

We got in contact with a less-active Sister  who had been avoiding us for a while. We both felt we should just read from the Book of Mormon with her. The beginning of the lesson we felt some negative feelings.... stress? contention? not a good feeling in the air. I said a prayer for help and as we continued to read from the Book of Mormon the Spirit slowly poured into the room. She opened up to us and told us some fears, concerns and how she could feel something different as we read. She said "I miss this" The whole atmosphere of the lesson changed. After the prayer we all took a moment to listen and feel the spirit. She asked us if we could come back the next day. All of this reminded me of the crucial role the Book of Mormon has in our conversion process. The Spirit only testifies of truth. This Book changes lives. It has changed mine. I treasure it more than any other possession I own. It contains the fullness, the whole gospel on the earth. I know it is true. I love sharing this knowledge with others. I simply love being a Missionary!

Good news! Our Jewish friend loves the Book of Mormon, He is getting really close to accepting Christ as the Savior. We are so close.

Thank you for your prayers, letters, love and examples! I love you all! 

Sending love from the Garden State,
Sister Houghton

P.S Sister Pastores is TRAINING!!! :) I am a Grandma again. I feel so blessed to have such a great mission family. 

Awkward story
We were Teaching a Brother who is  less-active in an old folks home about the restoration. This man is a few french fries short of a happy meal...if you know what I mean. Every time we asked a question about prophets or Heavenly Father he would clasp his hands and say "You are so beautiful....soo, sooo sooo beautiful" or "I bet your boyfriend at home can't wait for you to get back...." (no idea where he even got that idea) anyways we would try to tie what he said back to the restoration. It was getting pretty awkward. He said he LIKES women and has kissed at least one other resident in front of us..? Needless to say we are going to be staying FAR away from him.:)

September 8 2014 I Would walk 500 Miles.

Hello my beautiful Family! 

What a week we have had here in the land of the Free,-- it's as if all of our days literally BLEW UP. I'm not kidding. I told Sister Rogers that I've never seen anything like this. However, on the good side we still love being missionaries:)  When the going gets tough....the tough get going. I've said that saying at least a hundred times this week. 

We also ran into a tinsy problem. we had a crucial appointment with a less-active member on walking day and no ride to get us there. We prayed to know what to do and felt that God had given us legs for a reason and we would walk there. (I was actually realllly excited about it) We walked over 15 miles, drank lots of water and after 71/2 hours of walking we made it home. God does provide a way, sometimes we just have to be willing to act. On the way home we saw miracle after miracle.  One man we contacted said he would be baptized. He lives in a different ward but I have a good feeling about it. Its all the same team :) We also contacted a man in Spanish who is actually an investigator for the Spanish elders, I had never met him before. He said I had very good Spanish, I was just thinking that is the Spirit, because my Spanish is NO BUENO if you know what I mean. 

We had a recent convert move into our area. She was baptized a month ago on St Martin (an island in the Caribbean) she's my age and so cute. I would love to be best friends with her. She is married and has a 14 month old son. If her family finds out she was baptized she will be disowned. It is a crazy situation. I realized how blessed I have been growing up in the gospel. I took it for granted. I know her families hearts will be day-- ok maybe not in this life but she has such great faith and I can see Great things for her in the future. God has a plan for each one of us and He knows us! 

I love this work, even the hard weeks. I would walk as far as He wants me to, to spread this message. This is the truth! 

Sending love from Jersey
Sister Houghton
(Pronounced Hoi-ten here)

Fun fact A woman in my ward is dating a man from Todd's stake, he said he is keeping an eye out for him .