Dec 26, 2016

Week 30 - December 26,2016

Hi family!

Oh how wonderful it was to talk with you all yesterday, there just are not words. I miss you all, but how fun was it to talk and laugh.. And realize that I am still a normal person! Haha. I love you all so much.

I had a really fun, really happy Christmas here. I only slept one hour on Christmas Eve, there were so many fireworks going off. The people here go crazy for the Holidays! Starting at 9 o´clock and ending.. at 4 o'clock in the morning. They celebrate midnight as the minute that Christ was born, and our beds were literally shaking from all of the noise. Our mosquito nets fell from the ceilings and everything. Haha, so crazy. So much fun. Everyone also burned all of their trash? Interesting tradition.. But I just love El Salvador. 

The members took such good care of me. We have eaten like queens the last few days. Cheesecake, chocolate cake, cookies...a ton of food. The sweetest thing ever is that some members found me DR. PEPPER! I have no idea how, but I literally started crying I was so thankful. We all know that I am irrationally emotional, but oh my goodness it was so nice. And I still love Dr. Pepper more than I should.

We received word of transfers this morning. I will be staying here in Centro, and I will be meeting my companion on Wednesday! I am not sure who she is yet, but I am so excited to meet her. I am going to be her first companion here in the mission, so I just hope that I can do a good job of helping her love missionary work as much as I do.

I love you all! Have a happy week!

Hermana Houston


Dec 19, 2016

Week 29 - December 19, 2016

Hi hi!

Oh my dear family and friends.. What a week. I am usually a really positive person, but I think I am getting close to my breaking point. Ahh! But I am becoming more humbled, learning to be more patient.. And we are getting through! Despite the little trials that I am passing through.. There is always something to be happy about, always something new to learn, and something to be thankful for. And as usual, I love being a missionary here in El Salvador:)

Literal miracles happened this week with Jose Rafeal! As we have been helping him to prepare to be baptized, we have been faced with a really rough smoking addiction. It has been hard, but I have never lost faith in him, and he hasn't lost faith in himself. The hard thing about life is that Satan is tricky, and that he knows what he is doing.. But as we have put our trust in the Lord, Jose has strengthened his faith in a loving Heavenly Father. Wednesday morning Jose smoked his last cigarette.. Jose tried to fight the temptation to smoke all morning, but just before lunch came up a little short. However, I had spent the night before praying my heart out that there would be a solution. And smoking that morning gave him the worst headache that he has ever had in his life, and that headache comes right back every time he even thinks about smoking. Oh my goodness! Do we ever realize how wild that is? A lifetime of smoking all taken away because of the love of our Heavenly Father and the Atonement of our Savior. I love being a missionary. I absolutely love it. 

Our cook told me that there is no danger in eating fish eyes, and that if I didn't eat them this week she was going to be offended. Can someone google if I am putting my life at risk, or if I just need to be more humble? Thank you. 

How thankful I am for this Christmas Season and the opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. How thankful I am for His birth, for the life that He lived, and the example that He gave. How thankful I am for His selfless sacrifice and the hope that it gives to me everyday. How thankful I am that He lives, that He loves me, and that I have the chance to become a little bit more like Him everyday. As the angels sang at the time of his birth,  "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peacegood will toward men." Luke 2:14.. I add my humble missionary testimony that He lives, and that thanks to Him, we all have hope for eternal peace and happiness.

Merry Christmas everyone! 

All of my love,

Hermana Houston

Dec 12, 2016

Week 28 - December 12, 2016

Hello Beautiful Family and Friends,

My life is so wonderful. I am not being obnoxious or bragging, but I love being a missionary. The truth would be that things are really hard right now, and sometimes I feel like everything is going wrong.. But there is such a joy and peace that I have in my heart all of the time! Being a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints is without a doubt the best decision that I have ever, ever made. Thank you for letting me be here and for supporting me. And, ahhh! I get to see your cute faces in less than two weeks. Oh, my heart.

Okay, now for an adorable and amazing story. About 2 weeks ago, Hermana Guzman and I were looking for new investigators. And things were going as they usually do.. Doors in the face, sometimes people spitting at us because that's cute. So, I said a really sincere prayer with my companion, because I had just about had it.. But I pleaded with the Lord, and after said to my companion.. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the Lord could just shine some light over a house so that we could know where to go? We laughed, and then literally the house to our left turned on their front porch lights. We looked at each other in shock, and kind of ran, with far too much excitement, to the door. The person waiting for us would become my good friend Jose Rafeal. A 63-year-old man with a heart of gold. We learned this week that not two minutes before we knocked on his door, he shared a humble prayer with his Heavenly Father to tell Him that he was ready to change his life, and he just needed to know where to go. Well, two young women with big smiles and a message about Jesus Christ were the answer to his prayer. We have been teaching Jose for 2 weeks, he accepts everything that we tell him as the truth without a shadow of a doubt. He came to church yesterday, and said that he wishes he would have known about the gospel for all of his life. Jose is going to be baptized on the 7th of January, and there could not be more joy in my heart.

Life is hard, but I know that the Lord is using me as His hands here in the center of Santa Ana, and it is the most amazing thing that I have ever experienced. I was studying this week in Ether, and I loved the last verse of chapter 12... "And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever. Amen." How thankful I am for this Christmas season and for all that my loving older brother, Jesus Christ, has done for me. What an honor it is to share the truths of His gospel with the people of El Salvador. I feel so thankful to be here, and I really would not change this experience for anything. During this Christmas season, may we seek our Savior Jesus Christ, our Redeemer that the prophets and apostles have testified of since the beginning of the world. I am so eternally grateful for His eternal sacrifice, and for this time of the year that we can praise His name.

Hermana Houston

Dec 5, 2016

Week 27 - December 5, 2016


Oh, what a week. I would be lying if I said that I didn't miss you guys. That I didn't miss home a little.. The truth is that the holidays are hard! But, I love my life here. My weeks are spent teaching the restored gospel to amazing families, teaching little kids how to read, and learning how to become a better, more humble person. Life isn't super easy for me right now, but there is always something to be happy about, and I love being a missionary.

We spent all of the morning hiking a literal mountain. The Elders made it sound like it was a cute little hike, but then all of the sudden we were making our own path with pocket knives. Haha, an experience that I will never forget. The view was beautiful, and I only have a few minor injuries.. So all is well. My companion hit her head on tree branches more than I ever thought could be possible, but shes acting normal.. So I am pretty sure that everything is okay. 

There are some great progressing investigators here, and we are just trying to help them with their doubts. The most amazing part is that we are also teaching two really positive families! Teaching families is the best. One of the families, is a family of 11 which is a little missionary miracle. They have a lot of doubts and questions, but we are doing our best to help them. And they came to church yesterday! It was so beautiful and they loved it. The mom recently threw out her back so Saturday Morning we went to help her clean her house a little bit. My good intentions turned into washing 11 people's clothes.. But its okay! Because service is good, and I love everyone. And washing their clothes.. With my hands.. For 11 hours.

My 6 month mark started with waking up to a dead frog in my bed, (thanks to the oh so thoughtful Hermana Guzman), and ended with more Pupusa practice, so you can all get ready for how fun that is going to be in a quick year. The Pupusas, not the frog. I slept with the dumb thing the whole night because I had no idea, and just keep praying that I won't end up with a terrible disease. But life is happy happy happy!

Well, I love you all a lot. The Christmas Devotional was so beautiful last night, and I am so thankful to be spreading my Savior's gospel during this time of the year. As we apply His attributes in our lives and becoming more like Him, we can find true joy. I know that this is true! Have the happiest week.

Hermana. Houston

Nov 28, 2016

Week 26 - November 28, 2016

Hello Hello all of my Beautiful Friends and Family,

What a week! It is crazy that this week I will reach 6 months in my mission! What? 6 months of Spanish, 6 months of hand washing my clothes, 6 months of serving my Savior and Redeemer.. And my heart could not be anymore thankful. I love being a missionary, and the time is passing by all too quick.

I usually am an overall positive person, but Thanksgiving was hard without you all. The good news is that I got to eat apple pie with my girl Hermana Jensen, but it wasn't the same. After our activity I felt a little down.. A little like.. Ha, one more year. But, I didn't have a pity party or anything, and we went out to work. We went to visit the Miranda Family who are recent converts. Literally the cutest children I have ever met.. They all came running to give me a hug, and told me they had a surprise. They had bought me this adorable Christmas Bear, and wrote a note (in English because they are adorable) "We think it is hard to not be with your family for Christmas but remember that you are part of our family forever" Oh my goodness. It was the sweetest thing, and now I am back to feeling like a year here can´t possibly be enough time.

Also meet my wonderful friend Anna, also a recent convert. She is the sweetest person, and even though she is so sick.. She is so quick to serve others in any way that she can. We take care of her for a little bit everyday, and she is such a light in my life. If someone were to tell me that I am here in Centro just to have been able to meet Anna, I would be perfectly fine with that. She told me last night that she always tries to serve people and act like Jesus would, but that she has a hard time loving people. I told her that we aren't perfect, but that if we pray really hard and do our best.. Our Heavenly Father will make up for the area that we lack. "Hermana Houston, I think you are right. And you should know that you entered my heart the second that I met you."

You guys, missionary work is hard. Some days are really hard.. But I love being here more than I could ever express. These people are literally changing my life, and I just hope and pray that I can do something to help them in their lives too. I miss you all, but I am having the time of my life. I love serving others and I love representing my Savior.

Have the best week!

Hermana. Houston

Nov 21, 2016

Week 25 - November 21, 2016

Hello Friends and Family!

What a week. Leaving Ataco was maybe one of the hardest things that I have ever done. You all already know that I sobbed like a small child, and everyone cried too. It was so hard! But we all left off by saying I would be back in 5 years as long as I marry rich:))) yes I am still terrible.

I miss the members and people of Ataco dearly, but I have been warmly received here in Centro and all is well. Centro is hot. Really, really hot. I have never experienced this type of heat before in my life. I don't want to say that I am dying, but I am dying. The sun feels like it is 5 feet from my face, and I am sweating a ridiculous amount all of the time. It is disgusting. My first day here I had to change twice, but yesterday I only had to change my clothes once.. So here we are! Adjusting. Woohoo. I cant help but laugh that I thought Ataco was hot. Bless my heart.

Centro is an amazing ward with lots of love. As far as missionary work goes, we are starting from square one. We worked really hard this week.. And I don't feel discouraged. Mostly just optimistic for the potential that this area has, and for the work that there is to be done.

I am so excited because Johanna and another investigator, Sixto, were both baptized on Friday in Ataco. I am SO happy for them. I wasn't there to see it but I heard that it was absolutely beautiful. Ah, how great is missionary work!

My companion is Hermana Guzman from Guatemala and she is lovely. She comes from a family of 15 which still absolutely amazes me. Her mother must be wonder woman or something. She is a hard worker and we get along great. 

My hair is joke once again because.. Oh I don't know. A member wanted to die my hair as a going away gift which was so nice of her. I don't love how it turned out.. But I am learning good lessons:) Like how while there are a lot of things that matter, there are a lot of things that don't.. For example, the fact that I am real life Strawberry Shortcake. 

Okay, I love you all. I miss you guys, but being a missionary is such a wonderful experience that I wouldn't trade it for anything. Have a very happy Thanksgiving. I couldn't be more thankful for all that I have been given, especially a wonderful support system at home. Read your scriptures!

Hermana. Houston

Nov 14, 2016

Week 24 - November 14, 2016

Hi Family!

I can´t believe that I am already writing you all again. The weeks are passing by so quick, I cannot believe it. The good news is that I am loving every second of my time here. I love being a missionary, and I love serving my Savior. As it is transfer week the news came that I will be leaving Ataco. I love the people so much, and my heart is aching. However, I know that there are a lot of beautiful and exciting things to come in Santa Ana Central. And a lot more sun.. A lot more sun.

The happy news is the Johanna passed her baptism interview and is going to be baptized on Friday! I wont be here to see it which is a little sad, but what is important is that my beautiful friend is going to make very special promises with her Heavenly Father. It is funny.. Because before my mission and in the MTC I always thought about how great it will be when someone that I had been teaching will be baptized! The photos, being able to see it, all of that. And now that I am here, my heart is only filled with joy that Johanna is going to be baptized. I feel that I truly am only the Lord´s hands here. I am not doing the work.. He is just doing the work through me, and it is the most special thing. I told Johanna yesterday that I was probably going to be leaving Ataco this week. We cried, haha. Because I always cry.. But she told me that she would never forget me, and that me bringing the gospel into her life has changed her forever. You guys! I don't know if I will ever fully understand completely the significance of missionary work.. But how thankful  I am to be here! 

My favorite thing from my mission happened this week. We were going to visit Fernando, and when we got there his grandma opened the door with a scowl on her face. Side note- Maria is maybe my favorite 85 year old person in Ataco, and she loves her coffee. More than anything. Anyways, I asked Maria what was wrong to which I got the reply. "Sister Houston I have been cursing your name for the last 48 hours and I do not want to let you in my house." Eventually she let us in, and Maria related a story that I will never forget. For the last 4 months I have told Maria that she needed to stop drinking her coffee so that the Lord could bless her a little bit more. After leaving a few nights earlier, Maria went to make her nightly cup of coffee. As she began to drink it she felt so sick, and was sick for the rest of the night. And it is all my fault. My sweet friend Maria told me that she has yet to pick up another glass of coffee, and never will again. The Lord works in mysterious ways:)

I ate a full fish yesterday. Yes, the eye was staring at me the whole time. I think I can eat just about anything now. 

I found a quote this week that I absolutely loved. "The commandment to seek perfection implies that we start where we are and seek the Lord´s help to lift us to where he wants us to go" Ronald A. Rasban. We aren't perfect, and that is okay! What matters is that we are trying, and becoming a little bit better everyday. Our Heavenly Father loves us perfectly, and as we put our trust in Him and his beloved Son, all will work out for our good.

I love you guys, 

Hermana. Houston

Nov 7, 2016

Week 23 - November 7, 2016

Hi family and friends!

Another happy week in the life of this missionary has already passed us by. As always, this week presented opportunities to grow my faith, and experiences that have strengthened my testimony. If only I could eloquently express just how grateful I am for this gospel, and how much I love being a missionary here in Ataco.

We have a new house! Woohoo. There are no rats, bats, or poisonous bees. I also have yet to find one spider. Maybe the happiest news, we have HOT WATER! You guys, I am like a little missionary princess in this house. It is so wonderful. Okay, enough about the worldly things..

The most beautiful experience that I have ever experienced happened this week with our investigator Johanna. Johanna is a 20 year old young woman who is full of life and all things happy. One of the members here introduced us to her, and we have been meeting with her for about 3 weeks. I have always been impressed by Johanna for her open-minded thinking and genuine desire to do what is right. In a lesson with Johanna on Tuesday, when asking if she had received an answer regarding if what we had been teaching her was true, she got quiet. My heart was racing because I know that this gospel can really help Johanna, and well, it's a matter of salvation for a sweet friend who I love dearly. As she began to speak the biggest smile came across her face.. "I've been praying, like you told me to with a real desire to know. I am not sure how, but I do not have any doubt that this is the truth. That everything that you have told me is true, and that Joseph Smith really did see Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I don't have any doubts. I just..I know it is true with all of my heart." The Spirit filled the room in a way that I have never felt before. The joy between the 3 of us was in-explainable, and something that I will never forget. In church yesterday we talked to Johanna about some of the commandments that her Father in Heaven wanted her to follow so that she could be ready to make this promise with him and be baptized. She willingly accepted each one, and is enthusiastic for her baptism on November 19th. It is the most beautiful and rewarding thing that I have ever seen, and I couldn't be more thankful to be here and having these amazing experiences.

We might not celebrate Halloween here in El Salvador, but my goodness is El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) something to see. I have never experienced anything like it.  Absolutely crazy. We participated in a service activity in the graveyard as a zone, which was interesting.. But service is always good. Some people gave Hermana Rayo and I these cool cacti so that was nice.

I saw 4 children running in the street wearing American Fork High School baseball and football T-shirts on Wednesday. Wild that they ended up here in this little town, but thank you all for your humanitarian efforts:´)

Well, I miss you all but couldn't be any happier here. I share my testimony that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and that he lives. How thankful I am for His sacrifice and never-ending love. I know that we have a Heavenly Father who is involved in even the smallest details of our lives. I know He listens to our prayers, and that He wants us to be happy. 2 Nephi 2:25 states"..and men are, that they might have joy."Our very existence, along with the perfect Plan of Salvation that our Father has created have been brought to pass solely for the purpose that we might have joy, and a happiness that can last for the eternities. We might not have a perfect understanding of why things are the way that they are, in fact we might have a lot of questions and doubts. But when we put our confidence in our loving Heavenly Father, we can be sure that he wants nothing but the best for each of us. And in that we can always find peace. 

Have a great week, I love you all dearly.

Hermana Houston

Oct 31, 2016

Week 22- October 31, 2016


Happy Halloween! The saddest thing I realized this week is that we don't celebrate Halloween here in El Salvador. There are no little kids in costumes, no candy, nothing! I got homesick for a quick minute, but then I remembered how much I love my life here, and now all is well. Thank you for the fun decorations and cool socks. Clearly, Hna. Rayo and I love them maybe more than we should, but we sure have had a good time.

This week was maybe one of the best that I have had here in El Salvador. It wasn't easy, but I felt the Spirit working through me more than I ever have before. As my companion and I listened to his soft voice, he literally guided our steps and told us exactly what we should say. I know this is the Lord's work, and it is so amazing to be a part of it.

My favorite experience this week was with the Guirola Family. I think that in my time here in Ataco I have knocked on this family's door 3 or 4 times, and each time we have been kindly rejected. However, this week I had a strong feeling to try again. The mother's face lit up when she opened the door, and she quickly welcomed us in. As we got to know her better she expressed that during the morning she felt something telling her that people were going to come and help her feel better that day. Her mother recently passed away, and she has been struggling to discover a peace that she has been longing to find. We were able to share a message of hope with her and some of her children. It was amazing to see that their spirits were truly lifted and their burdens lightened. I was able to experience a growth in my testimony that the Lord truly is preparing people to receive the restored gospel, and that as long as we listen to the soft whispering of the Spirit, he is willing to help us find them. 

Some exciting news.. Our house was invaded by poisonous bees this week. I somehow have yet to be stung, but my poor companion has been stung 4 times. She is really allergic, and it has been terrible. I did feel blessed that I was able to use some of the training of my First Aid certification classes.  One more blessing this week was that my ward received an English Liahona instead of a Spanish one, so they gave it to me as a gift:) I read it in my free time as entertainment, and it has been so great! Haha, oh no.. I am reading church magazines for fun. I promise that I am still normal! I promise. But really, I found this quote and absolutely loved it. "I've learned that this life needs to be lived with passion and energy. Each minute is a treasure, and once is passes, it's gone forever, reflected only weakly in memory. I've learned that if you're going to serve others or worship the Lord, you're happiest and most effective when you do it with all the joy and energy you have." - R. Val Johnson. So, that's what I'm trying to do here in Ataco. Make the most of every minute that I have to serve my Savior and Redeemer, and to do it with all of the joy and energy that I have. My friendly invitation to you all would be that you can do the same. Let us not just allow the time to pass us by, but let us make the most of every chance we have been given to do good and be good. I love being a missionary, and I love you all very much. Have a happy week!

Hermana Houston

Oct 24, 2016

Week 21- October 24, 2016

Hola!  Another week gone by... How crazy! This week was full of pink sunsets, a million laughs, and the spirit!  I felt the Holy Ghost in abundance, so that made for a pretty good week.  The conference with Dallin H. Oaks yesterday was amazing, and by some miracle I got to see my beautiful friend from the MTC, Hermana Ashton.  It was fun to see how much our Spanish has improved, and just overall how much we've grown in the last few months.  Neither of us can believe that in just 1 week we'll have been serving for 5 months!  I can't get over how fast the time is going by.

Things are going well here in Ataco.  I don't think my relationship with Hermana Rayo could be any better.  We are having  great time together, and we can teach together really well which has been cool.  This week she told me that I'm too sensitive, haha. That I need to learn how to toughen up a little bit and have more confidence in myself.  Which is true.... So, now she insults me 3 times a day and I can't let it affect me.  It's a strange method of improvement- but it's working. So I'm thankful.

Ah, investigators.  Some things came up while helping Rosa Elena prepare for her baptism, so Fernando and his sweet momma won't be getting baptized this week.  However, she has a strong desire to follow Christ and change her life, so I have no doubt that she will have the chance to do so very soon.

Meet my good friend Jose. Jose is an 82- year old man who has a heart of stone...haha.  I don't know if I have ever met anyone as cold as this man.  All of his family are members, but he doesn't want anything to do with the church. There was something about the way that he told me that he would rather give up pupusas for the rest of his life than talk with the missionaries, that made me want to find a way into his little frozen heart.  Every day from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Jose cuts wood.  He doesn't sell it, he doesn't use it. He stores it, because he likes it.  Every day we pass by his house, always asking if he needs help, to which we always get the reply, " Girls like you can't cut wood." So this week I made a bet with Jose that if I could cut a piece of wood in under a minute he had to read a verse of the Book of Mormon with us.  Well, it worked! We now meet with Jose everyday to teach and help him with his doubts.  He read 1st and 2nd Nephi in 3 days.  Little by little I'm watching my good friend open his heart to the gospel of Jesus Christ - and it is the most amazing thing ever.

My sweet friend Fatima has been called to serve in Cancun, Mexico!  She doesn't leave until March, so I told her I'll come visit her once I'm done here haha.  I know she is going to be such a good missionary, and it is super fun to see the work moving forward.:)

I figured this week that you guys might know what I mean when I say that I've killed 504 spiders. So, I found the courage to take a picture before killing the little devil. 504 of these bad boys.

The wife of Dallin H. Oaks spoke for a few minutes yesterday, and I loved the message that she had to share.  She said that all of our lives are really different. We all have different trials, challenges, and circumstances.  However, Heavenly Father has given each of us equally the ability to choose how we use our time.  So let us use our time for good! Let us use our time to lift each other up, share the good news of the gospel, and become more like our Savior Jesus Christ! :)

I know this church is true, that we are led by a living prophet, and His apostles.  I love this gospel, I love the hope and light it can bring into our lives.

Have a great week!

Hermana Houston

Oct 17, 2016

Week 20, October 17, 2016

Hello, hello!  This week was... Haha, I'm not quite sure how to describe this week.  Parts were great,  parts were interesting...But more than anything - I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to serve my Savior for another week here in Ataco.  Being a missionary is without a doubt the best thing I've ever done, and I love it.  My companion asked me this week how I was always happy, and why I enjoy following the rules so much. Haha, the truth is that I'm not sure.  I guess I just feel that the time in which I can serve the Lord with all of my effort and heart is actually pretty short, and I want to do all that I can to make the most of every moment.  The truth is that, yes, being a missionary is hard. It's hard work and diligence, obedience to a lot of rules, and sometimes it is spiritually draining. But, I can assure you that I've never been happier:)

So my hair...let me start by saying that I love Hermana Rayo.  We have become best friends in the last week, she's super great.  She is also very firm in her opinions...One of which is that I would look so much cuter with short hair...ha. I think that overall I am a relatively weak person, but I was definitely sure that I didn't want to cut my hair.  After days of conversation my cute companion decided to take things into her own hands, and Wednesday morning while I was eating breakfast, Hermana Rayo surprised me by chopping off my hair!  How great, right?  The good news is that there are three things to be happy about:
1- Hair grows back.
2- You all aren't going to see me for a long time.
3- The primary children teasing me for looking like Anne Frank presented the perfect opportunity to teach them the importance of keeping a journal!  Woohoo!
So, yes. Here we are!  All is well in Ataco.

Some super exciting news is that Elder Dallin H. Oaks is coming to speak to the people of El Salvador this Sunday!  I am so excited. Oh, goodness - I am so excited!

The work is going great here in Ataco. My companion was really sick all week which resulted in me leaving to work with members everyday!  At first I was nervous, but it all went really well.  It is crazy to me that 3 months ago I couldn't do a thing - and now I can be a confident, effective missionary!  In another language!  I am still learning a lot, and am so thankful that I'll have the help of Hermana Rayo this coming week.  Rosa Elena and Fernando are preparing for their baptism, and we have 7 other investigators who are learning and progressing in this gospel.  I am so happy!  I feel optimistic, and I can't really put into works how much I love sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

About a month ago my sweet self thought that it was the end of the world that there was a rat in my house.  I can now say that the rat we found in the house this last week wasn't really a big deal... Because we are living with a family of bats. Bats fly, they bite, they make an ugly screeching sound at 3 in the morning.  Haha, yay, Happy Halloween!  My life is a joke.

Well friends and family, things aren't perfect but I'm loving my life here in El Salvador.  I'm loving the experiences I'm having while serving my redeemer. "Truly, yoked to the Savior we can say with confidence, 'it will all work out.'" - Sister Neill F. Marriott.  This quote is true, and I love my older brother Jesus Christ.  Everyday I'm learning how to better put my trust in Him, and it is making all the difference.

I love you all! So much.

Hermana Houston

Oct 10, 2016

Week 19 - October 10, 2016

Hola!  What a quick week.  I've been a roller coaster of emotions as I said goodbye to my trainer, Hermana Reyes, welcomed Hermana Rayo to Ataco, and have been going nights with little to no sleep because of stress... You guys, missionary work is hard!  This experience and the blessings are so much more wonderful than I had ever imagined - but it is hard! This is hard. But I'm here, living - and doing my best to make the most of every moment.

The surprise party for my sweet Hermana Reyes was a success! Complete with Hello Kitty Party Hats and everything, haha. Saying goodbye to her this week was difficult. After spending everyday with someone for 3 months, well, you're pretty used to having them around.  I miss her, but Hermana Rayo and I are having a great time together.  Hermana Rayo is 23 years old and from Nicaragua.  She is an enthusiastic, hilarious, pupusa - loving missionary - and we are having so much fun here in Ataco.

I saw the fruits of 3 months of work this week as Rosa Elena came to church and has decided to follow the example of her Savior and be baptized!  She is preparing to be baptized on the 29th of October with Fernando, and there just truly aren't words to describe the joy that I feel in my heart.  I know that this decision is going to bless the lives of this little family forever, and I am so happy for them.

We hiked the mountain to visit Vilma this week so that she could tell us that she doesn't want us to visit her anymore... Ah, well, if you ever want to break my heart that's one way to do it.  I know that Vilma will have another chance to hear the gospel, and I hope that one day she will be more open to the message.  Also, Vilma has a dog.  A bear- sized, ferocious dog. Usually the bear is always locked up during the day...But as we were walking I saw 'Princesa' running, rapidly, through the forest.  I was walking with my 9 year old best friend Sammy, and realized that this monster was heading for us.  I was so worried about her that I didn't have time to think about how to save myself, and by the time I threw Sammy out of the way the dog was attacking me.  But nothing happened. She was biting my legs, scratching my arms...And I felt nothing. My Father in Heaven protected me to the point that my skin broke the tooth of this deadly dog, and she ran off whimpering.  As I think back on the experience I still feel absolute shock and wonder.... But I know that our Heavenly Father is all powerful, and that he is carefully watching over me here is Ataco.  I couldn't be more thankful.

Well, I know this church is true.  I'm so thankful for the opportunity to share this gospel with the people here in Ataco.  I love you all dearly, and pray that your are doing well.

Until next week.

Hermana Houston

Week 18 - October 3, 1016

Hello, hello!  October? 4 months in my mission? What? It feels like time just isn't a thing anymore here in the beautiful mountains of El Salvador, it is all passing by so quickly. However, this is much better than if the time was passing by slowly, so no complaining from this missionary:) This week had it's ups and downs, as per usual... But conference was so wonderful that I can't be anything but happy now.

The most exciting news that I've ever had to give in my whole life is that Rosa Elena came to conference!  Ahh, have there ever been more beautiful words? We had a lesson with her on Saturday night, and I was able to bear my testimony of Latter-Day Prophets and what conference means to me, which was a really cool experience.  After she said she would come to conference!  And she came! And she loved it! And she said she wanted to come to church next Sunday! Now, my experience as a missionary would tell me to not get my hopes up too high.... But we all already know that I am absolutely enthusiastic. I know that the spirit touched her heart, and that she felt a peace that can only come from the knowledge of the restored gospel. So, now I'll spend all week praying my little heart out that she won't forget how she felt, and that she'll come to church next Sunday.

Two days ago Hermana Reyes told me that her birthday was today!!! She originally told me it was in April because she didn't want to celebrate it, but then she decided she would be sad if we didn't do anything... I was so stressed. It is definitely difficult to plan a fun birthday for someone who you are with 24/7. But no need to fear, miracles have happened and I have somehow pulled off a surprise party for my cute lil' 22 year old!  I am super excited and just hope I can make this a fun day for her.

In other news, my best friends here, the Ramirez family, bought a cat this week and named it Houston. The cat and I don't get along very well but still an honor nonetheless.

I couldn't have loved conference more, and I hope you all enjoyed it too. I still didn't love watching it in Spanish,but the hymns were all in English so that was a fun break.  I love the messages about missionary work, the Book of Mormon, and the joy we can find in the life through our Savior Jesus Christ.  I know that this church and the message we have to share can be a beacon of light in the world that is ever-growing darker.  The fight for righteousness won't get any easier, but everyday we can become a little better, and a little stronger in standing for truth and light.  I don't know about you all, but the last hymn made me feel so determined and motivated! "Let Us All Press On", and we truly have no need to fear, because the Lord will always be on our side as we take part in His work. So, I'll keep pressing on here in Ataco, and I hope you all can keep pressing on back at home.

I know this is the true church and I love my Savior dearly.  Have a fantastic week!

Hermana Houston

Sep 26, 2016

Week 17 - September 26, 2016

Hola!  This week went by super quick - which is good because this week was super hard... However, I am growing my testimony and ability to trust in the Lord's timing.  I am learning patience and what it means to see people the way that the Lord sees them.  Sometimes I get discouraged, but then I pray and my Heavenly Father always blesses me with overwhelming peace.  How amazing is it that, when we are sad we can talk to the most powerful being in the universe, and He will help us feel better?  I won't get preachy, but just reminding you all to say your prayers because they are important.:)

Well, as far as the work goes here in the frozen tundra of Ataco, things aren't too hot.  Haha, get it? No?  Okay.  My companion hasn't been feeling well so we passed almost the whole week in the house.  We got a little done everyday...but not much.  She seems to be doing better today, so I think this week will be better.  On Tuesday, I had intercambios with Hermana Heahnel in Ataco! We had so much fun, and I learned a lot from her.  I was able to lead the area all by myself which boosted my confidence, so that was good.  I can't believe this is the last full week of my training!  Where has the time gone?

I am so sorry that I don't have more to say, but nothing really happened this week.  I read all of Alma in 2 days, and made 65 foam butterfly sucker - holders for the relief society. Glitter glue and everything. So, I guess the good news is that my mission is turning me into the crafty - mormon mom I didn't know I had the potential to become.

Oh!  All of my fellow faithful ladies, how amazing was women's conference?! I didn't love watching it is Spanish, but I could still understand everything so all is well.  I love the idea that we aren't going to change the will of God through faith - but to have faith is to trust in His will for us!  That isn't always easy do do, but we can find peace in the fact that our Heavenly Father has a perfect knowledge, and also a perfect love for each of us.  So really, following his will, no matter how difficult, will always be the best option.  I hope you can watch general conference this coming weekend.  I know that through conference we can learn of way to become better, receive encouragement to keep enduring, and feel of our Savior's love!  I am so excited.

Well, I love you all. I know that through the atonement of our Savior, all things are possible for us.  Even eternal life with our families and loving Heavenly Father!  I know this church is true, and I love being a missionary.


Hermana Houston

Sep 19, 2016

Week 16 - September 19, 2016

Emily finally received her first package.  It was sent 2 months ago.

Hola! I wish I could say that this week was one of success, but that just wouldn't be the truth.  Missionary work is hard!  Amazing and hard.  Hermana Reyes and I have had about 7 or 8 nights now of asking ourselves, "what more can we do?" But, here we are...working hard and having faith that the miracles will follow soon.  We found comfort and guidance in the words found in D&C 19: 29-30. "And thou shalt declare glad tidings, yea, publish it upon the mountains, and upon every high place, and among every people that thou shalt be permitted to see. And though shalt do it with humility, trusting in me..." So, things aren't perfect... However, I am learning how to put more trust in my Savior, and becoming more humble. So, all is well!

As far as investigators go, we couldn't visit Vilma this week because we can only go when members are able to go with us... But I'm hoping this week someone will be available.  We had a lesson with Rosa Elena on Saturday, she is doing well, and we are doing our best to help her work through her doubts.  We did make some progress with Omar this week.  Omar is a 19-year old young man who is dating a less-active member.  We met him our second week here, and have been teaching him pretty consistently, but he overall has been pretty closed off to the idea of baptism. He told us on Friday that he believes Joseph Smith was a prophet, that the Book of Mormon is true, and also the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. However, he isn't confident in the idea of there only being one church with true priesthood authority. As we were trying to explain with logic why this was the case, I had a feeling that Omar's concern with this might run deeper than we thought. I then had a strong impression to explain to Omar that the people who didn't have an opportunity to know the gospel here on the earth would be given a chance in the next life to accept it.  Omar started to cry and explained that both of his parents passed away when he was young, and it would have been impossible to accept the fact that his parents wouldn't be saved because they hadn't been baptized by correct priesthood authority.  He also said that he didn't know how, but there was some feeling in his chest and he knew that everything I had said was true.  Ah, the Holy Ghost had touched the heart of Omar!  Something that I once thought was impossible. Omar told us he wanted to be baptized..but then he didn't come to church.  Ugh! I have faith he will be there next week.  I think being a missionary is maybe the most amazing thing I've ever done.  The Lord is putting thoughts into my mind and words into my mouth I couldn't have ever thought of on my own.  We aren't having a ton of success, but I know that this is the Lord's work, and that He is with us here in Ataco.

Let us take a minute to remember the relationship I have with my Father in Heaven right now.  Oh yes, when I ask for help with something the situation is made 10x worse so that I'll get over myself - it's great.  After killing 8 tennis-ball sized spiders and 5 cockroaches one morning, I said a prayer asking that the bugs would go away.  Haha, a ridiculous thing to ask...But I was about at my limit.  When we returned home that night, we heard something in the kitchen.  After moving the table, we discovered a rat! And not just any rat, a cat-sized rat, with red-beady eyes.  I have never been so terrified, or screamed louder in my life.  The rat left running, but I live in constant paranoia that it is going to come back.  So I guess as long as I don't have to kill rat, I'll deal with the bugs... Haha, ahh, Ataco is going to kill me.

 Well, that's about it for the week.  My testimony is that Christ lives and that our Heavenly Father loves his children...each of you.  Our knowledge of the gospel gives us light in a world that isn't super bright... Especially when you lose electricity for 4 hours. I love you all dearly. I love being a missionary, and I love my Savior!

Until next week,

Hermana Houston

Sep 12, 2016

Week 15 - September 12, 2016

Hola!  How is everyone doing?  This week wasn't anything spectacular for me but was a good week nonetheless. We felt like we worked our lil' booties of all week and no one was in church yesterday. Ah! But it's okay. There's different things to be learned from the good times and the bad. So, I'm learning and keeping a smile on my face. The good news is that we all have a loving Heavenly Father and there's a new, fresh week ahead of us. Woohoo!

Ataco celebrated the Festival of Lanterns this week.  It was absolutely crazy.  These small streets were filled with people, and the whole town was lit by a million different colored lanterns.  It was gorgeous, and the people were absolutely wild, haha. There have been parties until 3 a.m. every night since Wednesday...So I'm exhausted but I think we will be able to sleep tonight.

My sweet friend Rosa Elena had some things happen in her life this week that have caused her to doubt everything about our message. Tricky, Satan.  We talked with her on Saturday and she said that she won't close the door yet.  I don't know what is going to happen, and my heart has been aching for the last 3 days.  I just want to help her find happiness, but I've been praying a lot and feel that everything will work out.  Sometimes I just want to grab people by the shoulders, with love, and say, "listen, this is the truth!  This is eternal life, forever families, and Salvation! Please open your heart!"  But I know that no one is going to come unto Christ by persuasion or convincing words... Only through the soft impressions of the spirit, in result of sincere prayers. So, I'll keep trusting in that.

The good news is that my little brother Fernando is as enthusiastic about the gospel as ever.  We've been trying to read the Book of Mormon with Fernando for the last 2 or so weeks to make sure he is understanding everything, but he always said he was too embarrassed of his glasses, and he can't read without them.  I told him that if I wore my glasses he had to also - and he agreed. On Monday night we read part of the Book of Mormon with Fernando, and this young boy cried as he bore his testimony of his Savior, Jesus Christ. And, he said I helped him feel confident enough to wear his glasses to school.  No more blind-learning for Fernando. A much-needed miracle.

We had a missionary work activity on Saturday and I was asked to speak for 5-7 minutes at the end.  I was terrified!  For me at least, there's a big difference between having a conversation with someone in a foreign language, and standing in front of a chapel full of people and talking.  I was nervous, and spent the whole week practicing with Hermana Reyes  As I walked up to the pulpit to give my talk, all of the lights went out, and I couldn't see a thing that I had written down.  I gave my talk, but felt that it was overall awkward and sloppy.  However, Saturday night the Bishop called to tell me how impressed he was by my talk and that I'm a great blessing to the ward.  He then explained that someone who was going to speak in church the next day was sick and he needed me to speak. For 20 minutes. The gift of tongues worked some miracles and I somehow pulled in off.  So, I overcame that hurdle this week!  First talk as a missionary.

Ataco has turned into Alaska, and it is freezing cold at night. Which means more lizards, cockroaches, and spiders in the house.  Haha, a dream. The spider count is 347 as of this morning, and no, it is nothing like the facebook video.  Haha, it is second nature now.

I know that Heavenly Father loves each of us and that Christ lives.  He is the truth and the light, and this is His church.

I love you all,

Hermana Houston

Sep 5, 2016

Week 14 - September 5, 2016

Hola! I cannot believe another week has already passed by... I somehow feel like I wrote to you all two days ago. Ah, how crazy!  Anyways, this week was great.  Full of little adventures, tear-filled testimonies, and rain!  A tremendous amount of rain.  I don't think I have stopped feeling at least just a little bit damp since Tuesday - but here we are.  I continue to fall more in love with El Salvador and the gospel every day.  I'm having the experience of a lifetime, and am the most optimistic lil' missionary you've ever seen.

We had another great week with our investigators. Rosa Elena progressed a lot this week. She read the Book of Mormon during the week, and our lesson with her on Saturday was wonderful.  We brought the Bishop's wife with us to maybe help Rosa realize that we weren't just crazy 19 and 21-year-old girls from foreign countries, but that there are people just like her that have accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it worked! I watched Rosa, because of the Holy Ghost that she felt, completely open up her heart and mind to our message.  She talked about her life, her fears, and her hopes.  We all cried together, and when she said the closing prayer she thanked Heavenly Father for sending His angels to her house. Oh my, my heart could still burst when I think about it.  The spirit was so strong and I feel as if that hour we had with Rosa Elena has confirmed in every sense of the word that I'm where I'm supposed to be and doing what I'm supposed to be doing. Missionary work is so amazing!

About a week ago I realized that it might just take the impossible or at least all of our efforts to find someone who is ready to accept the gospel...and on Friday I proved myself right.  We received a reference from a member about a young mother who was going through a difficult time in her life earlier in the week, and on Friday we both felt strongly that we needed to find this Hermana. We knew that she lived a little far away, but we didn't know that she lived an hour and a half hike straight up a mountain, ending with a 20-minute search through the forest to find a little home. We were given directions such as this, "when you come to the rock that is bigger than the other rocks, go right. When you see a really, really tall tree, go left." I was about ready to die!  All of the trees looked extremely large, and all of the rocks, the exact same size.  However, we walked by faith and found the house...And it couldn't have been more worth it!  We had a great lesson with Vilma, and she made the hour and a half hike to church yesterday.  We are going to go visit her again tomorrow, and I can't wait.

The primary wrote the missionaries notes yesterday and drew us a bunch of pictures.  It was such a cute surprise!  All of them are addressed to Hermana Guston which makes it even cuter.  I absolutely love the people here in Ataco, the members have become like family, and I feel so thankful to be serving them.

As with every week I am learning so many things, and my testimony is growing all of the time.  I think my most impactful lesson this week is that our Heavenly Father truly does always answer our prayers, and always in His way. I had been a little frustrated with myself because I have been here in El Salvador for about 7 weeks, and was still struggling with the cold shower situation.  I just kept feeling like ..." Ugh! It is just a shower, get over it.” But I couldn't so I prayed.  I think I thought Heavenly Father would just help me to change my attitude or something.  I don't know. But, the next morning we woke up with no water. So, after 2 days of bucket showering my heart has been changed, and when it comes to showering, the temperature is the least of my worries.

Thank you for your continued love and support.  Have a great week!

With Love,
Hermana Houston

This is where we hiked this week
Little Devil I escorted out of my house 2 days ago