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