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