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