Monday, August 21, 2017

August 21, 2017

This week was soooo great!

One really cool experience was when we were teaching Shawn! We didn't have much time so we just wanted to talk about his reading of the Book of Mormon.  We had asked him to read just 1 more chapter and he came back having read like 5! So that was cool. Really this lesson shows how it isn't about us as missionaries. We allowed him to lead the whole thing, we just facilitated it and asked questions to allow him to learn from the Holy Ghost.

We asked him what he really remembered and what stuck out to him from his reading and he said Nephi's bands. So we read those couple verses together, 1 Nephi 7:16-18. We asked him how it could apply to him...what were his proverbial 'bands' and how could he act like Nephi to have them loosened? He replied that he feels like financially he is bound, that is something he worries about, and frankly most people do. But the really cool thing was that he said one thing he could change was what he prayed for. 

We were blown away by how genuine and sincere he is. He is sensitive to listening to the Holy Ghost and willing to act on it. He is so funny, he always talked about being a tough cookie to crack but how great is it that Heavenly Father gets to be the one to teach him so we don't have to "crack" anything! Haha  He was taught by the Holy Ghost and we are already seeing differences in him and so is his wife. 

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is such a real thing. It is the only way to eternal life and it is also the only way to a really happy life. I testify of this because I AM HAPPY! 

I wish I could share more but time is short!


Elder Mark Howland

Monday, August 14, 2017

August 14, 2017

Here are some pictures from Elder Howland and from a member in his area, Lacey Miller.

 Elders Howland and Swainston taken by Lacey Miller...a member in their area.  The Millers had just fed the missionaries.

Elders Swainston and Howland (with unnamed sister missionaries in the back seat) on their way to Muncie, Indiana.
August 14, 2017

Life is so good!

Days like today makes me wish I was going to stay in Ohio forever (although my mom would probably have something to say about that!). I received some good advice to not miss the snow in the summer and miss the sunshine in the winter. Life is too short to be wishing it was the next part of life. Enjoy the summer for the heat and the lemonade stands and the Vitamin D and then enjoy the winter's offering of snow and opportunities for hot chocolate and sledding! Right now is the best right now we will ever have. I am so excited that I get to be here doing the Lord's work right now.

The families that I know are the best part of being out here really. We love going over to the Weidner's, the McCauley's, the Dawson's... just to name a few! Each time I go to a new area, that is my favorite part! They are just such quality people. And I often reflect on the people that I have met in other areas also...Tony Miller, the Spaulding's, the Smith's... It is so cool that we are in each others lives for such a short time, but literally I think about them all the time even if it has been years. I think that we will find that the impact that we make on others goes far beyond what we can see. 

As my mom taught me since I was kid, when you throw a stone in water, it creates ripples. I think of Alma when he ran from King Noah's courts. That was kind of a turning point in the Book of Mormon. Alma's decision to run from those courts allowed him to follow God and teach his son. Because he taught his son when he was young, Alma the Younger was able to remember those words and have a change of heart (Alma 36). Because Alma and the Sons of Mosiah went out and taught the Lamanites, there were thousands directly baptized by their efforts and we could go on and on. When we look at the bigger picture our thoughts, words, and actions have the ability to change everything. In D&C 58, the Lord teaches us that the power is in us, and when we use our agency to follow His will, we are able to bring a lot of goodness into the lives of those we love! It is all about the little things.

I am thankful for the little ripples that you have made in my life, it has helped me to be where I am now. And I LOVE where I am now!


Elder Mark Howland

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Elder Howland was visiting one of his old areas and a member there took these pictures and send them over.  This is Elder Howland's new (uh, old) companion...Elder Swainston.  This is their third time being assigned together and both go home next transfer in six weeks...




Monday, August 7, 2017

August 7, 2017

Elder Manning and Elder Cook are going home to Utah and Idaho and Elder Howland is receiving a new companion...not for the first, and not for the second, but for the THIRD time his companion will be Elder Swainston!!! Okay are you ready for this?? So DAY 1, I received Elder Swainston as my MTC companion and I spent 2 weeks with him there.  Then when we were out about 11 months, we served as Zone Leaders in Muncie, IN (my favorite area in the mission hands down...we saw so many miracles it was insane, and I met my good friend Tony Miller there too).  We served together for 2 transfers and celebrated our 1 year mark together. And now we are serving together for our last transfer. We joked about this from the MTC...start together and end together. But wow now it is happening. I believe that there was a premortal decision of our companions but serving 3 times, that means a lot. I love Elder Swainston, he is such a genuine person, strong leader, and righteous young man! It is going to be a blessing to continue learning from him! :)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

July 31, 2017

Elder Howland send another item he wanted posted to the blog:

Today I was thinking about a good friend of mine from Muncie, probably my favorite area in the mission. But this man's name is Tony Miller.  Be was recently baptized and what I love is that that wasn't the end! Even when further trials came, he fought through it and continued to build his faith. I think that is what we all need to do. We all have ups and downs in our faith and progress, but we keep moving forward and keep building ourselves and others. That is what Tony is doing now...he is teaching the gospel principles class in the ward and honestly is one of the best gospel teachers that I've seen! It really shows me what I want to do and be always!

Monday, July 31, 2017

July 31, 2017

We had some wonderful experiences that probably won't come across as amazing in email form but just know that through the Spirit my testimony has grown this week. I have strengthened it and I love that I can continue to have spiritually defining moments every day. In my life I don't want to start stories about a significant spiritual experience with "a couple years ago..." I want it to always be something I am experiencing, I want to say "so earlier this week..." That was my goal this week.

So Tuesday I was on exchanges with the wonderful Elder Parker from.... West Valley City! We were working in Eastgate, where I served last transfer. Turns out he only lives maybe half a mile from where I lived the last 15 years! But you know Utah, that was a completely different stake haha. So I loved my day with him. We had so much fun, but the best part was when we decided in the middle of walking to say a prayer. In that prayer we pled with Heavenly Father and told him we have talked to everyone today, we didn't walk past a single person. We have been praying and we want to find people to teach who have been looking for this Gospel! Please lead us to them! And as soon as we said "amen" Elder Parker said I know where we need to go. They had received a referral that they forgot about several weeks ago but as we know the comforter will "bring all things to your remembrance." So we started walking there, we knocked on the door and..... nobody was home. But 3 feet away we knocked on the neighbor's door and there we met Andre. He came out and talked to us, then he invited us in and talked to us.  We shared some of our message and found a time we could come back to share the powerful message of the Restoration with him and his wife.  That was a clear answer to our prayer and Elder Parker told me they went back and taught both of them and they were just as welcoming. I know I won't see them all the way through, but that isn't the point I don't think. I think that for me it was enough to follow the prompting to stop and pray and for Elder Parker to follow the prompting to go there. That is how I know that Heavenly Father knows me and loves me, that is how I know that Christ lives, that is how I know that he answers my prayers. It happens. And it doesn't happen in the past tense. It happens whenever I listen. Now.


This is probably the most joyful thing in the world, I can't think of anything that brings greater happiness and fulfillment than hearing a prompting and then acting on it and finding out you are an answer to somebody else's prayer.

Elder Howland