Sunday, December 27, 2015

¡Feliz Navidad! (#2)

From 22 December 2015

Luke 2:6–7, The virgin Mary with baby Jesus

Dearest Family and Friends,

I hope your holiday adventures are going well, and that you´ve all got good, happy plans to celebrate with family this week.  Here in Bosques we had a bit of a mix-up when the internet wasn´t working on P Day, so youll just get a short update this week.

Christmas time is the best, even though it definitely doesn´t FEEL like Christmas time in Mexico city, because we're still getting into the 70´s every day.  However, today we went through the temple as a mission (which was AWESOME and very special) and then had a fun activity afterwards which included tamales, Mexican ponche, skits, and a few musical numbers.  I´ll write more next week about the details.

The most important message here, is that this week we remember our Savior, Jesus Christ, and He should be the focus of all of our celebrations.  It´s wonderful to be with family, eat lots of food, give gifts, and sing at the top of our lungs, but at the end of Christmas Day, I hope we can all remember that the most important gift of all time is the gift Christ gave to us, which allows us to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father after we leave this life.  
I love you ALL, and I hope you know that I love you!

Lots of love,
Hermana Houghton

¡Feliz Navidad!

From 14 December 2015

Hermanas Bracamante and Houghton

Dearest Family,

FIRE!  Fire because this morning our building was on fire (literally), and because then a little later-on we were on-fire (not literally).  So this morning because it is PDay, we did our normal 2 hours of studies, and then packed up some exercise clothes, a soccer ball, and a couple other items and left the building.  Standing outside were all of our neighbors, wearing PJ´s and holding their cats and dogs (because everyone has pets here...).  We were a bit confused, until someone told us there was a fire.  Fortunately, since everything is made of concrete here, fires aren´t too much of a hazard, and it was put out in short order without anyone getting hurt or anything.  So after that we made our way to the "Zone Activity" which was a scavenger hunt that inlcuded activities like: "Contact someone in the street and invite them to be baptized", "make two baskets from the freethrow line", "knock on a door and sing a Christmas carol and share a short message about Christ", and pass out 3 "A Savior has been born" cards.  It was rather interesting, especially since the whole zone was contacting in the same area, but it was also awesome.  Miracles happen people.  

Speaking of miracles, yesterday we got to see the Dedication of the Tijuana Temple, and the sealing of the corner stone by President Uchtdorf and Elder Oaks.  It was really awesome, and a bit unprecedented (because usually they only broadcast dedications to the district of the temple being dedicated) because all of Mexico got to see it.  Also, the Tijuana temple is gorgeous, and its President is President Hinckley´s son, which is very special since so many of the temples in Mexico were built when he was President of the church.

Now.  You may be wondering what on Earth we are doing with investigators at this point and I have to tell you, it´s been an interesting couple of weeks.  Right now we´re going through a bit of a dry stage in which we are searching (high and low) for new investigators who are really prepared to receive the message and progress.  Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) there´s a bit of a time-lapse in between finding new investigators and their getting baptized because each person who gets baptized has to go to church 5 times before they are eligible to be baptized.  But, I love looking for investigators because you find them in the strangest, most unexpected places, and in very miraculous ways.

BTW Spiritual Thought:  Jacob 5 is awesome.  NO seriuosly.   Read it.  The Lord watches over His children, and it is such a unique blessing to be able to meet someone in the street, share a short message, and testify to them that as representatives of Jesus Christ, He sends us to touch the lives of certain people, and to let them know how much He loves them.  We are children of an EXTREMELY loving Heavenly Father, and He wants to help us in so many ways, we just have to let Him.  

Ok, that´s it for now folks.  

Lots of love,
Hermana Houghton

P.S. Christmas isn´t a huge deal in Mexico... but the 12th of December is!  (for more info on this Mexican custom, please google "the Virgin of Guadalupe")

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Tad Bit Late. . .

From 9 December 2015

It's December.  And yes.  WE have decorations :)

Dearest Family!

Sorry this email is coming a bit late this week, we had transfers, and even though I haven´t moved, and I´m still in Bosques with Hermana Bracamonte, on the weeks we have transfers, Pday is on Wednesday.

It has been an exciting, and kind-of crazy week!  We received a large stack of cards for the "A Savior is Born" campaign of the church (please see the website for more information), and so we set a goal to give out ALL of the cards we received during this month (before Christmas).  This means that we have to give out cards and contact about 6-10 people each day, and follow up on those who express interest in the video.  Fortunately, Christmas is awesome, and Bosques is a pretty good area for contacting because there are lots of people out and about during the day.  Other than that, the Elders we shared a ward with went home last week, and we received news on Tuesday that they won´t be replaced, so our area just doubled in size, and they moved our church building, so now we´re meeting about 30 minutes away from where we live (instead of 5 minutes).  Long story short, Hermana Bracamonte and I have a LOT of work to do, and it will be a very busy, cycle--full of walking and possibly running to get to all the parts of our area.  Fortunately, she has learned her Houghton lessons well, and knows what #2 (it´s going to be a very busy week) and #3 (It´s going to be a very busy month) mean.  

In other news, our investigators are all pretty new right now, but this last week we found some new ones that seem very promising.  I love teaching families, especially, because our message is so important for families, and can apply to them and help them in so many aspects.  Of course, it´s a message for every person, but it´s especially powerful when applied to families.  Also, I love living so near the temple.  Here in Bosques, the temple is only a 15 minute bus ride away, and that is such a blessing.  Even though we don´t get to go there too often, we get to invite people to visit the visitor´s center, see the Christmas lights, and learn more about Jesus Christ right around the corner at the temple.

Also, I love the Book of Mormon.  A couple of weeks ago, the President of the mission announced that we were going to read the entire Book of Mormon and Preach My Gospel as a mission over the next 13 weeks.  So I´ve finished 1st and 2nd Nephi, and this week we´re heading into the book of Jacob,  Basically, it´s the best book I´ve ever read, and every time I read it again, I learn something new about Heavenly Father, and His plan for us. 

my planner for this month!
Also, something else that I´m learning more and more as I serve a mission is how truly important the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  I realize that perfection is basically impossible to attain in this life.  If we strive for it, we are doomed to fail.  But with Christ as our mediator, we don´t have to be perfect, we just have to try a little each day to do a little better.  And one day, we will look back and realize that the little bit we changed every single day has changed us into completely different people.  That´s part of the plan.  

Merry Christmas to all.  Remember, please, the reasons why we´re celebrating this season, and do something to share your reasons with the world.

Lots of love,
Hermana Houghton

Hermana Bracamonte and I at the house of a member 
today (doing laundry and making pancakes!)

Enviado desde mi iPad---Just kidding.  I don´t have an ipad.  Ain´t nobody got time for that!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

This is What Happiness Looks Like!

From 30 November 2015

Dearest Everybody,

So.  Nope.  Mexicans don´t celebrate Thanksgiving.  And no, I have no eaten a single one of the 26 pies that were apparently made in my home, but here in Bosques we´re still happy smiling, and REALLY full of food.  I did discover this week that in Spanish, they call Thanksgiving "Acción de Gracias" or "Action of Thanks" which is kind-of an interesting twist to the usual name we use.  I do feel very grateful this particular Thanksgiving, because in a world full of loss, sicknesses, and sadness, I am SUPREMELY happy to have a happy, healthy, hardy family, and wonderful friends, and a truly magnificent message that I get to share with the people of Mexico!

Speaking of the people of Mexico, this last Sunday we were blessed to help out with and see the baptism of Leticia, and her two daughters Xenia and Uxkendal, which was AWESOME.  Really, it´s pretty amazing what miracles we get to see here in the mission, and this little family was an answer to prayer for Hermana Bracamonte and me.  I am SO excited for them and for all the blessings I KNOW they will receive because of their decisions to follow Christ and be baptized. 

On a different note, in order to have all the baptisms that we had planned for the past week or so, we had to work with the Elders in our ward not once, not twice, but three times to empty out the baptismal font using buckets, because the pump was out of order. Needless to say, it was a wet mess each time, and none of us came out dry, but the job got done, and we survived just fine and the chapel floor is just a little bit cleaner now.  

Last but not least, I wanted to share a bit of a spiritual thought with y´all this week:  In the December Ensign/Liahona there is an article about enjoying the spirit of Christmas, and there was a part I really liked.  In the article a pastor of another faith was quoted from a radio interview talking about the changes he had seen in his faith over his lifetime.  He said that earlier in his life, he had treated prayer as a sort-of grocery list to Heavenly Father of all the things he needed.  However, as his faith and relationship with Heavenly Father grew, he began to realize that prayer is more like an opportunity to sit by the proverbial "fire" of spiritual peace and goodness that comes from being a bit closer to our Heavenly Father, and soak in the heat.  For those of you who don´t know me that well, I LOVE "fire salamandering" or curling up by the fireplace in Winter-time and falling asleep, and I loved this analogy.  So my invitation for you all is to spend some time in prayer this week and soak up a bit of that heat to keep you warm through the hard moments that are sure to pass through the coming days, weeks, and months. 

I love you all BUNCHES, and pray for you all the time!

Lots of love,
Hermana Houghton

The Angry Man from Panama

From 23 November 2015

                           Our area map!  Isn´t it just beautiful!
Dear Family and Friends,

First of all, I´ll explain my title a bit.  This week we visited (for the second time since I got here, don´t ask me why) an angry man in Panama (since all of the streets in Bosques are named after countries, he´s not actually from Panama, he just lives on the street called Panama...).  When we visit angry Panama man, we knock with the intention of talking with his son-in-law who lives there, and who was (at some point) contacted by the missionaries here, and expressed interest in talking with them.  So we knock, and out comes "angry Panama man" who proceeds to lecture and insult us.  Okay.  Now, I don´t share this story to complain, because really it doesn´t bother me too much.  There are plenty of people in the world who are rude to missionaries, but I have found as a missionary, that it is in these moments when we are being rejected, that I most feel the love that Heavenly Father has for each and every one of His children.  He doesn´t actually care what they say about Him, because it doesn´t hurt Him, but I know it makes Him sad to know that these people are so frustrated with life that they won´t even listen to His words when He literally sends people to their doors to share them.  But still, we go and we share and we smile, and we serve where we can.  We follow Jesus Christ, our greatest example, who was rejected and spit upon, and still walked on and proceeded to visit and bless all of the poeple.

Baptism of Camila (we didn´t actually get a picture
with her, but this was our "program")

In other news, we had a baptism this week, which was exciting!  AAannd today there was (apparently) an Earth quake today, but we didn´t feel it at all.  AAAaaannnd we emptied the baptismal font in our church using buckets this morning--that was an adventure!  

Aaaanndd, No. In Mexico, they don´t celebrate Thanksgiving, but we´re going to try to make a "pie" to celebrate the occasion this week.  Unfortunately, all we could find at the grocery store in the way of pudding was vanilla flan (it´s like a gelatin-ish type thing that is delicious), and they don´t have ANY pie crusts, so we´re going to attempt a "banana cream flan" which may turn out a little interesting...  In other news, the work continues here in Bosques, Hermana Bracamonte and I have all sorts of fun running around in Mexico, and trying to make ourselves useful, and we get to see a lot of miracles while we´re doing it.  It is an amazing time to be a missionary.  Oh!  And the weather here is still beautiful!  Sometimes it´s a bit chilly in the mornings (but we´re inside studying all morning, so it´s fine) and then it usually gets up to the 70´s during the afternoon.  Yep.  It´s beautiful!  

I hope you all eat lots of turkey, pie, rolls, and potatoes for me this week!

Lots of love,
Hermana Houghton