Jun 28, 2016

Week 4 - June 28, 2016

Hello everyone!

I woke up this morning completely shocked that I have been in this same building for a whole month now. While it is slightly intimidating to have 17  more- I cant believe how quickly the last month has gone by. I am sure the rest of it will go just as quick and I will be home in no time;)

Not much happened this week- Everyday here is pretty much the same. We wake up at 6:30 every morning and study the gospel and Spanish until we go to bed at 10:30. It can be mundane but overall I love it. There is always something new to learn, so I continue to be thankful for the opportunity to spend 18 months studying the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

A story from last week, that I was too embarrassed and confused to share: When we were handing out Book of Mormons in the city, I had the privilege of meeting a man by the name of Juan. Estimated age is about 64. He passionately explained to me that I was a "dirty liar" and that I didn't understand the truth. I kindly wished him well and made my way to the other side of the plaza. Afterwards, Juan had the largest and quickest change of heart in the history of mankind. He proceeded to follow me around the plaza, telling me that I was the love of his life, and that "his heart was full of the face and thoughts of Hermana Houston." Of course this was all in Spanish, and of course I was mortified. I tried to explain that I appreciated his kind words but that I wasn't available for courtship. He was persistent though and brought me 6 different types of flowers. Each time explaining something new that he loved about me. Eventually we left the plaza, and I was confident that I would never see Juan again. Two days ago I received word that a man by the name of Juan was at the gate earlier that morning with flowers for Hermana Houston. I don't know why strange things happen to good people, but maybe Juan will receive the good news of the gospel because of this. Maybe. 

Yesterday I was teaching my fake investigator Marcos with my companion. After teaching the plan of salvation Marcos expressed that he felt his sins were too big to be forgiven, that he wasn't worthy of the love of God. I began to bear my testimony in my mediocre Spanish, when suddenly the room and my entire body was filled with the spirit. Perfect Spanish flowed from my mouth as I testified of my Savior and Redeemer, and the never ending love that our Heavenly Father has for each of us. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life, and I know that the things that I testified of were true.  I love this gospel, I love this work, and I know that our Heavenly Father does love each of us- far more than we could ever imagine.

Thank you all for your emails, I am so sorry that I don't have time to respond to all of them, but I hope you know how much I love all of you.

Hermana Houston

Jun 21, 2016

Week 3 - June 21, 2016

Well this week has been a little difficult. Hermana Silva left and it was really hard on me. I love her a lot and pray that she is doing okay, and that her health is improving. Later that day I recieved the news that I would be Hermana Howarth´s new companion. So, I´m in a new district with new teachers and new investigators. I had to move out of my room and it felt like any sort of comfort zone I had built in the past three weeks was suddenly gone. It´s been difficult. Hermana Howarth and I are opposites in about every sense of the word. She is wonderful, don´t get me wrong. We are just very different. I miss Hermana Speth and Hermana Ashton. We got along so well and had so much fun. Hermana Speth and I had become best friends, and now I only see them at meals. Its lame, but it isn´t a big deal. Overall I'm adjusting well and realizing that I can make the most of any situation. I am here to learn Spanish and learn more about the gospel- so I´ve been focusing on that and really enjoying the work. 

There has been a beautiful outbreak of head lice among the Latinas. We are all slightly paranoid and were not very excited when they moved Latina Hermanas into our rooms a few nights ago.. Good chance I´ll wake up with lice tomorrow morning but I am strong, and worse things have happened. Shaving my head sounds promising. 

Today we had the opportunity to go out into the city! We first went to a Catholic Cathedral and were able to learn more about their religion, which was great because I don´t know as much as I maybe should, and that is the core belief system here. After we went into a big park and were told to give out Book of Mormons. It was crazy! My companion and I were really nervous, but I decided to just start talking to people and it was wonderful! We handed out all that we were supposed to, and I was blessed with the ability to understand clearly everything that people said. My Spanish was not flawless by any means, but good enough to get the message across, and I was able to give the missionaries 5 new investigators. I love the people here, their ways of life are fascinating to me and I know I will feel the same about those I will serve in El Salvador. 

This week has tested my strength and abilities in a couple different aspects, and I am thankful for it. I know that as we trust in the Lord anything is possible, and that our Heavenly Father´s power is without end. I am thankful for this gospel, and I am thankful for all of you.

Yo se que vive mi Señor.

Hermana Houston

Jun 14, 2016

Week 2 - June 14, 2016

Another week has passed! In some ways it feels like I have been here for 3 days, and in others it feels like I have been here for 3 months. To say that I am enjoying my time here would be a very large understatement. The CCM is wonderful but it is also completely what you make of it. My companions and I are having such a good time together. We work hard and laugh a lot. I couldn't ask for two better girls to be with literally 24/7. They are a huge blessing in my life, and have made this experience much better, and one that I will never forget.

This week we learned a bit more about what is ahead of us. We had some lessons on health, prevention and safety. It wasn't the most settling news, and it sent some girls into a panic. Somehow my companions and I handled it pretty well, but unfortunately one of girls will be returning home to America this week. I have been so sad about it, and just heart broken for her. However, they believe that this will be better for her anxiety and overall health. She is a wonderful person with a lot ahead of her and I pray that she keeps that mindset once she is home. 

We have been teaching mock investigators lessons in Spanish since our second day here. This week however, our teacher decided it would be a good idea to give us a real investigator without telling us until seconds before we walked into the room. I guess our teacher has been impressed with our mock lessons and wanted to see how we would do. She brought her friend who really has no interest in the church. I was terrified. We somehow gave a lesson that this man who speaks no English could completely understand, and we could completely understand him. He cried, we cried, and what was doing his friend a favor turned into some small miracle. He is coming back next week, and we are so excited.

On a more embarrassing note: we taught a mock investigator yesterday, and it was the most terrible thing haha. When you don't understand what someone is saying, as long as they have a smile on their face, you kind of just nod your head and say "Sí" .. Well, we somehow managed to confirm to this man that we were Jehovah's witnesses and worshiped the Virgin Mary in the first five minutes. Later into the lesson Hermana Ashton realized what had happened and whispered it to me and Hermana Speth.. We were dying. We all tried to fix things, but you can't really backtrack from that. Hermano Gomez says that he will never forget that lesson. At least it was fake.

I woke up this morning to a crazy earthquake. Don't worry, there wasn't any damage and it didn't freak me out too much, but it was pretty surreal. The weather here is crazy but I love the thunderstorms. They are so pretty.

There are the sweetest Latina Hermana's here and I love them so much! We sit together at meals and play basketball everyday. One from Santa Ana who always gives me the biggest hug and tells me I am her best friend. They all help me with my Spanish pronunciation, and I can finally roll my tongue! Big accomplishment from this week, haha.

The truth of it is that yes, this is really difficult. This is the hardest thing I have ever done and I have yet to step one foot in El Salvador. It takes almost everything I have to not get discouraged. We have 16 hour days filled with nothing but the Spanish language, something that was completely foreign to me 2 weeks ago. Everyday results in a headache, and the hours couldn't be longer. But, there is always something to smile about, always something to look forward to. I have seen the Lords hand in my life more this week than ever before in my life. I have had prayers answered instantly, and spiritual experiences that I will never forget. I know that the Savior lives, and that he is watching over each of us. 

I send my love to all of you, thank you for your support and prayers.

Hermana Houston


Jun 7, 2016

Week 1 - June 7, 2016

Hola everyone!

One week! We did it!

This week was hard, it was really hard and ridiculously long- but it was also one of the best weeks I have ever had. The CCM is such an interesting but wonderful place. I have never been so fully immersed into something before in my life, and it can be overwhelming. However, this is the work of the Lord, and I can not imagine anything I would rather be immersed in. I love it here. I love the people, I love the language, and I love the weather. Okay, that was a lie. I haven't stopped sweating since I got here. It is so hot, and so so humid. I am sure I will adjust to it with time. The Lord and the Holy Ghost are so near to this place. I have felt the spirit so strongly this past week as I have learned how to better serve the Lord and his children. I know that God is watching over his children, and he is watching over me.

The drive to the CCM from the airport was such a surreal experience. It was 6 AM and the city was so alive! People are crazy drivers here, it is like nothing I have ever seen. Arriving at the CCM was fun, everyone is so good to us here. President Morris and his wife are some of the sweetest, most faithful people ever. I have been shocked at how well the language is coming overall. I have been very blessed regarding how I have adjusted to everything here in the CCM. I know things will continue to improve as I continue to trust in my Heavenly Father and do all that I can. It has been important for me to realize that the Gift of Tongues is like any other gift from the Lord. We have to do all that we can first, and then he fills in the rest. As I have remembered that and also that I can not do any of this without the help of my Savior, I have been very blessed.

My companions are Hermana Ashton and Hermana Speth.  I am in a trio! We are having so much fun. We are the only North American sisters here who won't be staying in Guatemala for our missions. Hermana Ashton is going to El Salvador, San Salvador East along with four other Elders in our district. Hermana Speth is going to Honduras, Comayaguela- she is the only person here going to her mission, and I am the only one going to mine. We think there will be some Latinos here in two weeks who will be going with us. There are four other girls who I live with, so I will give you a brief summary of each.

Hermana Ashton-- Her first name is Joy and she is the epitome of just that. One of the most selfless and sweetest people I have ever met.

Hermana Speth-- She is hilarious and we have become great friends. We get along great, but I have realized that being with anyone 24 hours a day can sometimes be hard. We don't always see eye to eye but we work through things quickly. She gets upset with me when I cry about missing my family, and I get a little frustrated when she curses anytime something goes wrong.  Its all good though. Growing pains.

Hermana -- Super nice girl with such a great heart. She has a watch with a calculator and has us ask her math problems to "keep her sane.." We all deal with things in our own way.

Hermana -- Listens to Beyonces Spanish songs in the morning and justifies it because Beyonce is "part of her religion" The Latina sisters don't appreciate it, we all don't know what to do.

Hermana -- Says really cute, compassionate things like, " I don't mean to make you all feel inferior with how good I am at Spanish, I just think I am being more blessed." Yeah, no. She has taken 6 years of Spanish. She has good intentions, some people are just interesting when they, you know, speak. 

Hermana -- Calls the men in her life names like "HBK- Hot Babe Keith" or " No Hope Nicolas." She wakes me up at 3 AM when she can't sleep. She has convinced herself that the gunshots we hear at night are the people of Guatemala practicing a play about the Revolutionary War for the 4th of July. No one has the heart to tell her that they don't celebrate that here.

There is never a dull moment.

Two pieces of bad news.. I can't send any pictures from the CCM. I am so sorry! I promise that I will send lots of pictures in 5 weeks. My face is worth the wait, I am sure. Haha. I also can not receive or send letters.. The mailing system in Guatemala has been shut down and they do not know when it will open again. I am afraid that the letters that have been sent I will never receive. I am devastated and so sorry. I wish I would have known sooner.

I have had a wonderful week, and I hope that you all have too. I bore my testimony in Spanish during Sacrament meeting. It was simple, mostly testifying that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and that through him all things are possible. I know that to be true. I know that it is true at home in the United States, and I know it is true in this crazy, beautiful, foreign country of Guatemala.

I love you all very much,

Hermana Houston

Jun 1, 2016

Day 1 - June 1, 2016

Mom and Dad,

I have made it to the CCM and only have three minutes to email but please know that I am happy and safe. I am exhausted, but looking forward to what the day will bring. I don`t have time to read your emails but I am looking forward to doing so in a few days. You will hear from me next Tuesday or Wednesday, I will have more time then. I am living with American sisters and already having so much fun. They only speak Spanish here but I am surprised by how much I can understand. I think I will enjoy being here. I love you with all of my heart and I know that we will make it through this as long as we trust in the Lord. I am happy and at peace. I hope you are all doing okay.

Hug the girls for me,