Monday, March 28, 2016

Happy Easter!

Dearest Everyone,

Service is REALLY important.  This is something I learned this week, and it was reinforced significantly by the General Women´s session of conference this past weekend.  If we really want to be happy, follow Christ, have good relationships with others, and see miracles in our lives, we NEED to serve those around us.  I love doing little acts of service that will just brighten someone else´s day a TINY bit, but will make mine a whole lot more meaningful.  Things like leaving a note of encouragement for someone, making them food, or just chatting about something they love can make all the difference.  I´m learning that even more as a companion on the mission. It´s usually not easy to get to know a person and be with them 24/7, but as I focus on the needs of those around me more than my own, my life is suddenly full of joy and excitement, and I can be a better representative of Christ each and every day.

In other news, Easter was lovely in Mexico!  The church didn´t do anything to celebrate it this past week, which really surprised me, but I realized that we (as members of the church) don´t just celebrate it one day a year.  We celebrate it at least every week when we partake of the sacrament and remember specifically Jesus Christ and his life and death.  It made me realize, even more, how important this weekly ordinance really is for us.  

As for life, we haven´t had water (to flush, wash, shower, etc.) since Thursday, so today we went and got buckets of it from the corner of the street, washed our hair on the patio outside of our house, and then cleaned ourselves up with a "bucket shower".  We´ve heard that water won´t be returning for 2 weeks :/   Welcome to Ecatapec, Mexico.  

Also, today we made donuts at the house of member from the ward next to us (pictures to come) and then we ate them all.  Then, we went to the "Buenavista" mall with our neighbor/land-lady/member-friend and two other Hermanas.  It´s been a crazy day, and will be an even CRAZIER week!  
Be safe and do lots of wonderful things to get ready for conference this week!

Lots of love,

P.s. Elder Oaks is coming next month
P.S.s. we´re getting a new mission president (President Nauman) in July--two cycles away!
P.s.s. sorry, I will send the pictures next week!

Sunday, March 27, 2016


From 21 March 2016
 Hannía and her family

Dear Everyone,

Here´s a fun fact from Mexico: the public transportation (metro, metrobus, etc.) in Mexico city has been free this week, because the pollution is so bad that they don´t want people to drive anywhere!  Hermana Woodard and I are a bit suspicious that this very same pollution is the culprit for our inexplicable tiredness...

Hannía (9-year-old investigator who got baptized
on Sunday
) and Sandy (her 4-year-old sister)

Anyway, we´ve been working hard this week, and it´s been fun to see little miracles popping up left and right.  I think as a companionship right now, Hemana Woodard and I know how to work hard, and we´re ready to do all we can to help the poeple here in Olivos.  This means that we work hard ALL day, and we get home mostly exhausted and sleep like rocks.  It´s an exciting, and rewarding lifestyle, and we´re enjoying it.  We were very excited this past week especially to help Hannía, our 9-year-old investigator fulfill her wish and be baptized.  The baptism was a bit complicated, but she made it through in no less than 9-10 tries! 

Now, I want to take a moment to explain the sounds of Mexico City.  If you are living in this city, you are bound to hear a variety of noises outside at almost all hours of the day, and a few of the night.  Here are some of the most common:

1) Scrap metal collectors: they have a recording asking for used matresss, stoves, refrigerators, microwaves, etc.  We usually hear it at least twice a day

Sometimes in Olivos, no one has water for a few days,
but we weren´t sure if we had enough for a shower,
so Hermana Woodard went on the roof to
check the tank.  (we didn´t have enough :( )
2) Water deliverers: Because the tap-water here is not good for drinking or cooking, you have to buy big water jugs every now and then for daily consumption.  They shout "AGUAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" as they walk down the streets.

 Se bought ice-cream-filled pineapples after playing
volleyball, and tag for two hours on P-Day.  It was lovely :)
3) Tamales: Sometimes the people selling tamales just shout "TAMALES" from their bicycle carts, and sometimes they have a recording that says"TAMALES, OAXAQUEÑOS, TAMALES, CALIENTITOS!  ACERCAESE SUS RICOS TAMALES OAXAQUEÑOS!"  It´s fun :)

4) Gas: Trucks pass through the streets selling tanks of gas, so if you need it, you just come to your door and then they bring it to you.

5) Trash trucks: They usually just ring really loud bells when they´re passing, and if you have any trash, you bring it out and pay them a bit to take it for you.

6) Ice cream truck: it´s usually the same music-idea that you hear in the U.S.

 Christian Donuts
7) Christian donuts--by far the most important.  It´s a bicycle cart that sells donuts  and plays "Alabanzas" as it goes up and down the streets around the city like this: "EL SEÑOR ES MI REY, ME TODOOOOOOO... EL SEÑOR ES MI REY, MI LUUZZZZZ!"  It´s excellent (see attached photo) and their  Empanadas de arroz are really good :)

We went to the CV with Miriam and Samaria, and it was awesome!  (CV stands for "Centro para Visitantes" or "Visitor´s Center".)  We take people there a lot to give them a really powerful experience and to let them see the temple.  Also, it´s awesome, because it´s only about a 40 minute Micro (type of bus) ride from my area

Ok.  That´s all for now folks!  Have a truly fantastic week, and don´t forget that Easter bunnies and eggs are WAAAAYYYY less important than the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for us approximately 2000 years ago!

just a biiiiiittt late.  This is "Zona Anáhuac!"
Lots of love,

Hermana Houghton

 Baptism of Hannía (3/20/16)

Someone randomly gave us an Elsa cookie..

Divisions with Hermana Heywood and Hermana Mortenson!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Still in Bosques

From 11 January 2016

Alvaro's baptism

Dear family, 

Rosca with Hermana Bracamonte

This was a pretty good week!  We ate Rosca (a mini, that sadly didn´t have a baby hidden inside of it) and had a baptism (of Alvaro, a civil engineer who works on the airplanes at the airport and owns 8 German Shepherds), and we had Zone class (sorry, no picture)!  I did eat another Rosco later in the week, and I DID find a baby (but apparently the tamale-making tradition isn´t a must-do).  Also, Alvaro´s baptism was a bit of a miracle and I will tell you just why: a few months ago we were knocking on a door waiting for an investigator to answer, and a man walked by walking two dogs.  I said hi, and asked him if he liked dogs, and he told me he had 9!  A couple of months later, we were in the same street looking for a miracle, and we knocked on the door where we heard/saw/felt 9 German shepherds!  And just a month-or-so later, he´s a bonafide member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints!  So in case you were wondering, missionaries are not actually that powerful or cool, but sometimes if the timing is right, Heavenly Father blesses them with miracles.  

In other news, I was reading this week in the Book of Mormon about a group of dreadfully wicked people called the Zoramites.  The most powerful missionaries in all the land went to preach to them, and were shocked by how "stiff-necked" they were.  These people spent their Sundays in a shortish meeting telling Heavenly Father why they were so special and better than everyone else.  They are not the greatest examples, but I worry that as members of the church it´s easy to fall into patterns of being "Sunday Mormons" or thinking that because we have an incredibly important, true message, we´re more loved than other people.  Well, I´m here to testify that Heavenly Father loves each and every one of His many many many children just the same.  He can only bless us when we obey his commandments, but he WANTS to bless us all, and bring us safely back into His arms.  That´s why He gave us His son (see John 3:16 please).

Anyway, I hope you´re all having a fantasmical January, and 2016!  I love you all and am SUPER-excited when I get to hear how things are going in your lives!

Lots of Love,
Hermana Houghton

These are kind-of random, but it´s pretty fun.

What missionaries look like in Mexico (except usually
 the white guys are taller than their Latin companions...) 
These are the two other Elders in our district right now 
(Jensen and Delgado)

The power randomly went out on Monday for a day,
so we tried to do Daily Planning by the light of a burning crayon...

How missionaries feel at the end of the day
 (BTW, I made the rice-bag that Hermana Bracamonte
 is using on her back, out of a scarf that an old Hermana left behind...)



2-4 (the price of)-1!!!  Yes indeed folks, this week we got a wedding AND  a baptism!  WE were SUPER-excited for our investigator Asuncion to finally meet his goal this week.  He´s such a humble, hard-working person, and even though he hasn´t had too much support from his family, he made the decision to make a LOT of changes in his life and follow Christ.  He is a living example of the miracles that we see here on Earth today.

In other news, yep, the Pope came and spoke to Ecatapec this week, and the only big difference we saw in my area were a lot of signs, a LOT of policemen out on the day he was going to drive down the main-road nearby, and a lot more partying and general excitement in the world.  No, we didn´t go to see him speak, and actually we had to be a bit careful this weekend because there were some safety issues, but everyone came out of the weekend just fine.  

OH!  ¡FELIZ DÍA DE SAN VALENTÍN!  Hermana Saylor and I celebrated by buying each other chocolates, and we´re going to have a big ward activity for it next week, but that´s about it!  In other news, we saw another miracle this week when I got really quite sick on Thursday, and then by Friday I was up and running and we made it to a bunch of appointments!  I got familiar with some home-remedies of medicine here when our neighbor (a member) came over and rubbed me with a salve, had me drink olive oil with lemon juice (quite a bit of it...) and some home-made tea, and then gave me some specific instructions for what exactly I needed to do to get better.  It was rather interesting, but I´m healthy now, so something must have worked!

Image result for christ feeds the multitudeAnyway, the spiritual thought for the week comes from a quote I read a couple of weeks ago.  This quote refers to a story in the Bible, when Christ feeds thousands of people with just a couple of loaves of bread.  The quote points out that all the people had to do was bring a single basket, and a loaf or two, and then they gave them to Christ so He could perform the miracle and multiply them so very many times.  Sometimes we get the feeling we need to be perfect to really serve Christ, but all He asks of us is that we bring our baskets along, and then hand them over so He can sanctify our efforts and our lives and make them so much more than they were before.  I know this is His church, and I´m doing His work.  

I love you all, and you´re in my prayers every day!  Be safe and make wonderful choices, and keep bringing your baskets!

Lots of love,
Hermana Houghton

P.S. the computers here gave my SD card a nasty virus, so I´m not sure I´ll be sending any pictures in the near-ish future, but I´ll work on it!

¡Echenle ganas!

So this frame is actually from a ward activity that we organized a few weeks ago, but we havne´t been able to get a picture with it until now... but here it is!  I suggested the name for this activity, "Cuando Hay Amor" because it´s the name (in Spanish) of my FAVORITE Family home-evening song :D

Dear World,

There are some things in Spanish that probably don´t translate perfectly, but my title basically means to "give it all you´ve got!"  which is exactly what we´ve been doing this week.  I really appreciated the advice of our bishop this week who reminded my companion and I to enjoy and use wisely the time that we´ve been given to work 24/7 in the Lord´s service.  There are some parts of normal-ish life that I do miss, but when we´re working hard, there simply isn´t time to worry about anything else.  This week we´ve been working a lot to find new investigators and help a few others get all the way to baptism.  I´m so grateful to be here in Olivos, because our biggest challenges are 1) appointments falling through 2) figuring out who´s progressing and dropping those who aren´t and 3) arranging our appointments so we don´t waste hours of the day walking all over kingdom come.  Most missionaries will recognize these are really rather common and minor challenges, and I am so blessed to be somewhere where the field is truly "white and already to harvest".   It´s awesome!  Anyway, we´re still looking a lot for the people heavenly Father has prepared, and we just know that we´re going to find them.

Fun things from this week: 

1) making and eating tuna salad in the house almost every night (tuna, onion, salsa, tomato, and avacado)

We had divisions this week, and it was REALLY cold and
windy (like so windy, that they canceled schools and stuff)
but Hermano De La Peña sent this off to me :)

2) Divisions with Hermana Fuqua and Hermana Chavez, in the freezing wind and rain.  The city actually ended up closing schools and such because the wind was blowing things like bill-boards over. (and of course, since it was freezing outside--ok, so maybe it was 50 degrees plus wind-chill--we had to buy "pan" (pastries) and eat them as we walked all over kingdom-come.)

And this is our cactus/succulent :)  

3) Today we went on an adventure to drop off some baptismal clothes in the area next to ours, and we found some Monday Tianguies (it´s like a flea market combined with a farmer´s market combined with a garage sale) super-close to our area where we bought a succulent cactus that remains nameless, as well as all the fruits and vegetables we need for the week.

4) We were only street-contacted by 4-6 drunk men this week :D

In other news, Mexico continues to be a happening place.  Olivos is an awesome area and ward, and Hermana Woodard and I are enjoying the opportunity to work hard here together.  Life is a bowl of Pico de Gallo (which, BTW, means "rooster bite" in Spanish... roughly).  Have a wonderful week, and enjoy the sunshine, rain, or whatever weather Heavenly Father throws at you!

Lots of love,
Hermana Houghton

Monday, March 7, 2016

Noticing Miracles

Olivos map time. . .It´s probably 2x1 miles ... ;)   
Dear Family,

I love a certain passage in the Book of Mormon where Moroni points out that miracles haven´t ceased among men, we just lack the faith to perform and see miracles.  Well, I just wanted to testify to you all and tell you that I have seen miracles this week, and I see even more when I fast and pray specifically for them.  Fasting is a really interesting gospel principle and commandment.  It has two purposes: #1 --to provide for the poor and needy (because when we fast, we donate a certain amount of money to those who need it) and #2-- to give us an opportunity to sacrifice something so we can receive specific blessings that we need in our lives, or that others need.   Since this last Sunday was Fast Sunday, my companion and I made a list of really specific blessings that we or our investigators need right now, and we dedicated our 24-hour fast to receive those blessings. 

Even though I was hungry, and a bit stressed during that time, I realized that as much as I need food to eat, I NEED the blessings of my Heavenly Father to help me through this life, and to make my time as a missionary effective.  I began to count the little miracles that Heavenly Father had given me in just a few short hours, and I realized how incredibly blessed I am as a person.  I want to invite you all to put some extra energy and time into fasting and praying this week, because we all need blessings, and they will come when we ask for them (see Matthew 7).

Baptism of Ricardo (March 5)
In other news, life in Olivos is very exciting!  We had a baptism this past Sunday for Ricardo, and we had a lot of ward support, and it was a lovely service.  Also, we were blessed to find some new investigators this week, and we're going to keep looking for more! 

Other than that, life in Mexico continues--it´s mango season, and mangoes are delicious and wonderful, and Hermana Woodard and I are very happy!  Ok.  That´s all for now folks--have an awesome week and be safe and happy, and try to notice the miracles in your life this week!
Lots of love,
Hermana Houghton

We bought soccer jerseys because that´s what everyone wears  in Mexico  :)

Baptism of Asuncion (February 11)

 VAlentine´s day chocolate  

The day I was in a trio with Elder Flores and Elder Anderson!

My new companion--Hermana Woodard! 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


Hermana Woodard and me selfie-ing on the Micro!
Dear Everyone,

This week, I´m going to reveal a Houghton secret.  #5.  Houghtons are pretty weird, and sometimes when we say something really often, we just give it a number so that we don´t lose time having to explain it.  #5 stands for "You just applied a scripture/doctrine-of-the-church to a normal/worldly topic that may or not be super-related to religion".  The truth is, we should always try to liken the scriptures and the principles and doctrines of Christ in our personal lives, in every situation possible.  When we´re feeling down and low, there´s one person and one place we can ALWAYS go to in order to find peace and answers.  Heavenly Father is ALWAYS listening when we send a short prayer his way, and the scriptures (the Book of Mormon especially) will ALWAYS have the answers from Him.  So really, #5´s are great. and we should seek them every day.

So this week, President Anaya surprised us with transfers!  In our mission, they don´t tell us until the night before if/where we will be going, and we weren´t expecting to get moved this cycle because I´ve only been here for 6 weeks.  However, on Monday night our leaders called at 9;30 to tell us that Hermana Saylor was being transfered to Valle, and at 9:00 the next morning, she was off.  Hermana Woodard is my new companion, and she and I are ready to work hard and share the gospel with all the poeple here in Olivos! 

Background on my new companion: Hermana Woodard is (sort-of) from California, but mostly from Connecticut.  She went to BYU for a year and was studying Special Ed. (no, I did not know her before the mission).  She likes laughing really hard, making friends with people we see all the time, and eating really spicy food. 

Ok.  Other funny things that happend this week:
1) I said good afternoon to a dog on accident
2) While I was waiting for Hermana Woodard to arrive, I was in a trio with two elders for an hour and a half (pictures to come soon!)
3) This week, 6/7 of the Hermana´s areas got switched up!

Ok.  That´s all for now folks!  Keep learning and growing, and always trust Heavenly Father, and it will work out just fine!

Lots of Love,
Hermana Houghton