Wednesday, July 19, 2017

July 17, 2017

To be short, this week was incredible!

Zone Conferences are this week and it is so much fun! Being able to spend time with other missionaries and our Mission President and his wife is always the best!

One cool thing is that we lost contact with one of our investigators last week, she asked us not to come back via text. Well that isn't the cool thing... this is the cool thing: We ran into her near her home one day and after asking how she is doing we asked how she felt when we were with her and in her words she said "it was a Godly feeling."

This is my favorite thing that we do. We get to bring a Godly feeling to those we talk to. We pray and we teach and testify of Christ. We invite them to come closer to him and we promise them the blessings that come from living the Lord's commandments! I can't think of a more fulfilling thing.

We got an email from a missionary that went home just a couple months ago. He was emailing us and at the same time scraping off some gum from under an elementary school chair... Man I am so grateful to be serving a mission! I am excited to be here and excited to spend the next few months serving the Lord.

This is the BEST thing in the world. I wish that everyone had the opportunity to spend these 2 years serving. Words can't describe!

Elder Howland

We received the flight itinerary for Elder Howland's return.  That makes his return so real...and so soon.  Just 2 months until he's back.  He flies into Salt Lake on the morning on September birthday.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!!  I can't wait for a hug !!!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

July 10, 2017

Mondays don't feel like Mondays anymore, we don't really do much of a Preparation day...well actually that is all we do. Take care of the bare essentials and then work through a lot of it instead of playing. 

I am loving life I just need some additional sleep is all. But I can do that when I get home. But then I will want to see everyone and so I will be like I will sleep in a few months. And then I'll say I can sleep when I graduate and then I'll say I'll sleep when I retire and then I'll sleep when I am dead. Long story short. I'm never going to get enough sleep haha

This week we are starting Zone Conference and I am so excited for that! We get to be with all the missionaries and teach and train and just have a ton of fun! :)  I have given a lot of trainings to missionaries as a Zone Leader and District Leader but something is different when we are the ones training the Zone Leaders. We had a Mission Leadership Council and so all the Zone Leaders and the Sister Training Leaders all come and we train them so that they can go out and lead their missionaries in their zone. It is weird because we are doing all the same things at every level of missionary work but the only difference is what level we are teaching. Assistants train Zone Leaders who train District Leaders who train missionaries who train investigators. It is really interesting. This is really just an interesting assignment. 

Man being a missionary is so wonderful and simple and it takes so much but is so good! I am just trying to dig my heels in and enjoy every moment because it is going quick!!!!

Love to you all.

Elder Mark Howland
This photo came from a member in Elder Howland's area.  She sent it to me through Facebook Messenger and said, "Your son is one of my missionaries.  Today I cut his hair and he asked me to send this to you.  We thought you might like it.  He's awesome.  He's either very tall or I'm just that short.  I come up to his chest."  After "chatting" back and forth, I found out she's 5'1"...and Elder Howland is 6'3" or 6'4"...I can't remember which.

Monday, July 10, 2017

I finally got a new address for Elder Howland:

Elder Mark Howland
4610 N. Bend Rd.
Cincinnati, OH  45211

If you haven't taken the opportunity to write to him, please do.  He loves to get mail, just like we all do...

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

July 3, 2017

In just one week serving here I have learned so much! The biggest thing here is Elder Cook is talking to everyone. All of us make excuses and we find and create reasons to not talk to someone. Whether it is they are a little farther away or they are talking on the phone, there is always a reason not to talk to someone. Elder Cook's example has brought a lot of evidence of why we talk to everyone. Many of our new investigators this week came from talking to everyone. That and media referrals.

Elder Manning is a great asset to us. I feel like we are 3 different points of an equal triangle and with all 3 of us we are able to do more than any of us by ourselves.

One that was fun was when we saw Carla and her son Reggie. Carla said that her brother was a drug addict and in a really bad place...until he read the Book of Mormon and was baptized. She said the change that he made in his life was so visible! He ended up being so good and she said that she wanted that kind of change also. We taught them the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and they came with us Sunday to church but it was really a surprise when she brought her other daughter and granddaughter to church also! Afterwards she said she was excited to see us tomorrow for our lesson and would be back next week!

I have been out here for a while but one thing that I have kept with me is a constant attitude of being teachable. I want to continue to learn because in the gospel just like in life there is always a better way of doing things and always more to do and learn. I know what Enos meant when he says that when the thoughts of the joy of the saints and eternal life sank into his heart- he hungered. I feel that craving for more. A desire to be my very best. Throughout a lot of my life I have given part of myself, in academics and work I have given enough to get by. Enough to keep pace with everyone else in the race. But we are not meant to simply keep pace with the rest of the world. We are endowed with so much more ability than that. We are the noble and great ones saved for the last days. We are able to make a difference and to let our brighter lights shine in growing darkness. 

If we try and give a little more of ourselves I think that each of us will find that we can do it. We can pray a little more sincerely, we can study a little longer and deeper, we can build on our charity for others a lot more. We are able to do it and Heavenly Father will bless us with glories and joys that we can imagine and more. I hope that if you are reading this that you want to as much as I do. 

You can, you know. You can do it. 

And I love you.

Elder Howland

(FYI, Elder Howland was tranferred last Monday and made an assistant to the mission president.  There are three assistants right now...that's why he's talking about two other elders.)

Elder Cook, Elder Howland, Elder Manning

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June 26, 2017

This week is the last week of the transfer and we just found out that both of us are leaving! :( Eastgate has been soooooooo good...if only for 6 weeks; it was awesome! The ward was most definitely the best part of being there and so am so sad to go! Luckily I get to stay close by Cincinnati on the West side. I just realized that I have spent half of my time here within 30 minutes of Cincinnati which is the mission name, so that is a blessing. I truly consider it a home away from home.

We have an investigator named Candice that we found and started teaching the last 3 weeks or so. She had previously investigated the church but had only seen missionaries like twice, so when we first went back to start teaching her she put us through the ringer! She was drilling us on what the Godhead was like and what the difference was between a spirit and The Spirit and more! But we answered her questions adequately and she allowed us to teach her. So we taught about the Plan of Salvation and she is so funny because she likes to go slowwww but get really deep into it. She has really good questions and when we answer them she feels that they are right and true and she is left always wanting more which is really cool!

The funniest thing though was she said that when she became a mother she had to learn different ways to say things. For instance when you want your kid to stop. You say "stop" but sometimes that doesn't work so you need a "STOP" and that doesn't always work so sometimes you need... (She did sign language for stop). I then interjected, "and you can say "alto" which is Spanish for stop". To which she responded quickly with, "I gotta say "QUITTIT" which is Ghetto for stop!!!"  Hahaha we died laughing because we are in the ghetto! So great! She is a crack up! Maybe you just had to be there.  

Glad to be here doing the best thing ever! I have reflected on Alma the Younger's experience which he describes in Alma 36 as well as Enos's story, and the thing that I love between the two of them is that both of them reflect on the words of their fathers. Alma says, "as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world." Enos described it as, "Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forest; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning Eternal life and the joy of the saints sunk deep into my heart. And my soul hungered." I can relate a lot to these two. Enos doesn't say it but I think there was a time where he wasn't valiant and obedient. Obviously there was a time where Alma was outright against the church. There was a time where I didn't do the things that I knew was right. But like them, I knew what was right because I had learned it from my father (and mother), and there came a time when I remembered it also. And that remembering and then ACTING on it set me on this course and I am forever grateful for it! :) This is still the best experience of my life! :) And I love it!!!!

I love you! Thank you for everything you have done and are doing for me!

Elder Mark Howland

Monday, June 19, 2017

June 19, 2017

June is upon us and oh so glorious! I can never say too much about the summers here! The intense heat with the muggy humidity doesn't bother me in the least... I actually kind of like it! And the summer storms are so cool, Utah rain is nothing compared to a good Ohio deluge! It usually only lasts for half an hour at the most but man it is like there is a lake out there! That has happened a couple times this week.

So we had Elder Timothy Dyches of the Seventy come visit our mission this week, we had 2 days with him and it was so fun! As he taught us, the thing that I kept getting over and over was that I just needed to work on doing the little things that I had let slip. Filling out all of my planner and being more invested in Preach My Gospel, really just using all the resources that I have available to me. Sadly I think that I look at all that I have and get over confident about it. I think I have all these resources so I don't need to worry about them, but since I have them I need to use them more and get them in my brain and even more get them in my heart!

At the end of this transfer 3 former companions of mine are going home including Elder McKellar who I am with right now so that is hard. I am going to miss them a ton and the reality of that is setting in. Lol He has already started packing it is so funny! Saying goodbye is hard but I love what a friend of mine said--going home is not about transitioning, it is about progressing. Just like the gospel, it is about trying to better where we are so that we are closer to and more like Christ. There should not be a transition back to being "normal" we are a peculiar people for a reason! We are supposed to be different when we return and stay that way and continue to progress. For that I am excited for them! Missionaries often refer to when they go home as a death and in a way kind of it is. I want to be excited for those who pass away in a mission field as well as from this earth because there are many more things to do on the "other side." This is a paradigm shift from sorrow to joy. And that is the blessing of an eternal perspective and the Plan of Salvation. There was a sister whose father passed away in our mission this week and so this fits. Please keep Sister Lundquist and her family in your prayers.

Love, Elder Mark Howland

Monday, June 12, 2017

June 12, 2017

Zone Conference!

This zone conference was all about a better way to find. The cool thing is though that it isn't just a missionary effort to find. President Welch and the Stake Presidents in the mission are all working together to help us to help the members to find those who are ready to receive the gospel! This is the ideal that prophets and leaders have been trying to teach for decades! We are finally implementing it. We aren't just meant to go to a home of a family in the ward and demand names of their family and friends so that we can teach and baptize them, we are supposed to go into the homes of families and teach them about the faith in Jesus Christ to find those who he is preparing to receive His message. Keys are the crucial part of this effort. When we are working alone, we have the keys of the Mission President alone, but with the Stake President encouraging the members, his keys unlock a power that we foresee bringing miracles to all those who will trust in the Lord and find the opportunities that He will place in our path.

(This is Elder Howland with all of his old companions that are still on their missions, except one.)

There was some time this week where we didn't have time for studies in the morning and I noticed the difference that made in my week so toward the end of the week even when we didn't have time for studies I made some time in the evening after we came in from working when we normally relax. By doing that I felt the familiar peace reside with me again. I love the gospel. 

We also put siding up and constructed a porch for our Habitat for Humanity home! New skills and a lot of fun, new people are there each week and we always get to talk about the mission since we have our nametags on. "Oh wait, both of your names are Elder?" We get that a lot and so then we get to explain it haha

Elder Howland