Jul 25, 2016

Week 8 - July 25, 2016

Hola Familia!  I can't believe another week has already passed by.  People always say that time goes by so quickly in the mission and I didn't really believe them...but it is true!  I wake up, study, leave the house and by the time I look at my watch it is 5 o'clock.  It happens everyday - I'm not sure how but time is passing so quickly.  I hope it is the same way for you at home. If not, I'm really sorry!

This week was wonderful, really hard - but wonderful.  Some days felt like the hardest days of my life, but as I look back on the week now, I don't remember those days as much. We have been working hard to find people we can serve and so far it has been paying off.  We have some really amazing investigators and I feel optimistic about the work here in Ataco.  Teaching with Hermana Reyes is a new experience every time, and I'm enjoying every second of it.  My companion preaches repentance with fire in her eyes and using any scripture about being "thrust down to hell" that comes to her mind.  I'm well... I'm the opposite haha. Hermana Reyes strikes fear into their hearts and then I cry with them and tell them that I know it's hard but if we have faith everything is possible and Heavenly Father loves them. It's interesting, but it's working - I guess. We are a good team, and I'm hoping maybe with time Hermana Reyes won't be so intense - but she knows a lot more about missionary work than I do so it's okay.

My ability to speak and understand Spanish is a little better everyday. People talk so fast and with such a thick accent... but I'm getting used to it.  One day earlier this week I could hardly understand anything, I had the worst headache - so I kind of shut down for the last few hours... which I knew was wrong but I just... it was a hard day.  Once we got home my companion shared with me D&C 60:2 which reads..."But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them because of the fear of men. Wo unto such, for mine anger is kindled against them." Haha, well as you can imagine - that snapped me right out of my pity party.  So the last few days I've been trying really hard to improve my Spanish and I feel a lot more comfortable and I talk much more often. Ha

I've felt so many blessings from my Heavenly Father and Savior in the last two weeks.  My Mission President was worried about sending me to this area  because of my knee.  The roads are really uneven/rocky and we literally hike all day.  However, ever since I've stepped foot in Ataco I have not had even the slightest amount of knee pain.  Everywhere else hurts, I'm sore all the time- but my knees have never felt better.  My testimony is growing in a lot of ways, but especially in the fact that the Lord will not ask us to do something without helping us to accomplish it.  I've been pushing myself in ways I didn't think I ever could and I'm truly enjoying it.  I came to El Salvador with the hope that after 18 months, I could be at least a little more like my Savior.  And that is going to take some struggle, some pain, some hard days, and since I'm Emily Houston - probably a whole lot of tears. But I can already tell that it is going to be worth every second of it.  I was walking home last night in a muddy road, with water up to my knees - and I couldn't stop smiling.  I miss home, but I love being here.  I love being a missionary.  I hope you all have the best week!

Hermana Houston

P.S. I've killed 39 spiders, and if anyone knows how to keep beetles out of your fridge without contaminating your food - please shoot me an email.

Jul 18, 2016

Week 7 - July 18, 2016

What a couple of weeks. I am sorry that I couldn't write more last week, I only had a few minutes. My last week in the MTC was the most spiritual of my life. I can't really put it into words- but it was amazing. I am very thankful for it, because it helped me whenever I had doubts this week haha. I am here in El Salvador! Where I woke up this morning to 10 lizards on my floor, where I take an ice cold shower every night, where I taught the Restoration this week as a hen laid eggs in my lap. Where I might just be the happiest I have ever been in my entire life.

This week has been hard, I couldn't have ever estimated how hard it would actually be- but it has also been amazing. I am learning so much about myself, this gospel, and my Savior everyday. I love it. My companion is Hermana Reyes. She has 15 months is the mission and is from the Dominican Republic which means she talks fast. Ridiculously fast. Trying to get out your last words right before death fast. I am getting better at understanding her though, so it is okay. We work well together and are having a lot of fun. I don't think I could ask for a better trainer.

Our area is Ataco. It is a crazy little town up in the mountains, and it is absolutely beautiful. Lots of greenery and a million different colors of houses. When we contact in the street, we just have to ask people for their town name and the color of their house. The members here are super kind and help us with anything we need. Hermana Reyes is just as new to this area as I am, so we have had a lot of fun exploring and trying to figure everything out. There are a lot of inactives here, a lot. But the members who are active are so strong! It is amazing. The first week we have visited a lot of inactives, my Spanish was so simple the first few days that I could only really bear my testimony. But, one of the families that we visited I absolutely loved. We cried while talking about the gospel and as I bore my testimony, even the father started crying, it was wild. They were at church again yesterday- and I feel very fortunate to be where I am and meeting these people.

Fun fact about the Spanish Language.. Pecado is sin and Pescado is fish. Isn't that cute? I guess my first 3 days in lessons I was saying that Jesus Christ died for all of our fish. My companion found it so amusing that she didn't feel the need to tell me. Haha, eventually I realized what I was saying and I will never make that mistake again.

Two of our investigators were at church yesterday which was wonderful since we only met them this week. They need to get married, but they said they would most likely in the next two weeks which is exciting. 

So my report for this week is good, its great! I am being stretched and challenged in ways that I am not always sure I can handle, but I am getting through it. I love this Gospel and I love that I have the opportunity to be here in Ataco. I know that my Savior lives and that He is here with me- every step I take. Thank you for your support and love. No one is running to the font this week, but it is probably just because they are all fishing;)


Hermana Houston

Jul 12, 2016

Week 6 - July 12, 2016

Hi Mom and Dad!

I have made it to the mission home and I am safe! It has been a crazy day but I am as happy as can be. I just got back from spending some time in the city and I already love Santa Ana. It is more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.

I have already met Hermana Polhill and she is wonderful. I have honestly had the best day. The president and his wife are lovely. I could not be more excited for what is to come.

I love you and I will talk to you next week.

Hermana Houston

Jul 5, 2016

Week 5 - July 5, 2016

Hi friends and family!

I hope that you all had a wonderful 4th of July. The 6 of us American sisters put on about as much red, white, and blue that we could yesterday and tried to make the most of spending the holiday away from home. It was hard, but I got through it and we even got a little firework show before we went to bed.

On Thursday night a country-wide warning hit Guatemala regarding the potential sand dropping that would take place Sunday evening. Yes, sand dropping. There was a concern that some of the sand from the Sahara Desert, yes, the one in Africa - had traveled by wind currents and was stuck in the atmosphere above Guatemala. It would only be a matter of time before the city of Guatemala would be rained on by sand. Despite our preparations, no sand fell. It has been a miracle for us all.

I could not be more thankful for the Heiden family this week! Words can not express how wonderful it was to get a big hug from Joanna. The treats have been so nice to have and I am so so thankful. Hermana Howarths mom found a company that got packages to the CCM, so we had fun shirts for 4th of July. It has been nice to feel like home isn't so far away for the week. 

We died my hair last night. My hair is black haha. I like it though, so it is okay. From behind I look like a Latina, but I am still too white to really fool anyone. Lets be real, I never will.

This week we shared embarrassing stories, so of course I shared my most heroic moment of saving Abby from her unavoidable death by a jellyfish sting with my district. (Short version input by mom.  Abby, Emily's youngest sister was stung by a jellyfish when she was about 3.  Abby was crying and everyone on the beach gathered around to see what happened.  Some of the people started yelling that someone needed to urinate on the sting so poison didn't spread.  Emily was the hero of the day and without blinking an eye, quickly did the deed. We were then told by the lifeguard that urinating didn't do anything and all we needed was to pour vinegar on the wound.) The next day we all had to perform small skits in Spanish. A group of Elders replayed the whole event. It was horrific and hilarious.

It is hard to believe that this is my last email from the CCM. As I think back on the last six weeks, I am amazed at how much I have grown, and how much my Spanish has improved. A lot of the Elders and Sisters that I am here with have become family, and it is going to be hard to say goodbye.. But we are all excited for what is to come. I don't think I will ever feel ready for the field, but I am so excited. There is service to do, people to bless, and a whole different culture to embrace in just one week. I am not sure how I am going to do it, but I do trust in the Lord. I have not been alone since I first stepped on that plane, He has been with me through everything, and it will be the same way in El Salvador. 

I love you all and cannot thank you enough for the support,

Hermana Houston