Monday, November 30, 2015

November 30, 2015

Happy Holidays from Kentucky!

This week was awesome and Thanksgiving was too! The Shuleys had us over for dinner and we met some pretty great people before then! We weren't sure about Thanksgiving because we thought that people would all be with their families but the Mission President said to go out and teach so we went out and taught! Obedience brings forth the blessing of heaven right? Exactly! We talked to several people that were... what is the word... elect! Haha it was so cool and there were two that were so ready for the gospel! They already go to church and were thinking that they wanted to go to another church because theirs didn't feel quite right. Well you better bet that I told them of a church they can go to where it will feel right! We are going to go back and teach them this week :) 

Something else that happened on Thanksgiving after dinner was we went to a families home...the Kash's. So they have 3 kids around the age of 10 and they can be kinda bad sometimes... actually that is a thing. A lot of families around here have kids with no discipline and don't listen when the parents say something. It's really sad and I wish that I could do something about it. Anyways... So they were soooo bad and fighting sooo much and not good. Well we kinda taught a lesson around the terrible children and when we left I just felt so BAD. It was at night in a bad part of Newport which is already super ghetto (like gunshots and gangs and Compton kind of stuff). And for the first time in almost 3 months I didn't have the spirit with me. It was the Worst feeling! I obviously made it out alive luckily haha. I had to stop Elder Bunderson so we could say a prayer but it got better.

Also, Thanksgiving was in the 60's haha I don't know what it is like in Utah but it is teetering on the verge of cold and warm. Some days the high is 35 and some days it is 65 but the 60's are gone now probably for good. It was weird to be able to go to a turkey bowl on Thanksgiving in shorts and a short sleeved shirt though, I will tell you that!

Ok I recently had a conversation (written not talking) with my mom about 1 Nephi chapter 1 and wanted to share it because I love it. So it is the chapter that is probably most read by the church because we get halfway through and then stop and then restart over and over but out here I read it again and there is SOOOOOOOO much in there that I had never seen! So if you have already discovered the amazingness of that first chapter feel free to move to the next paragraph I will take no offence I promise. But I'll keep this part short. So I read it the other day and Lehi sees heavenly visions like 3 times in that first chapter. Fire coming down and in a dream Jesus Christ descends out of Heaven and has His 12 disciples descending with him and stands in front of Lehi and gives him a book! Like can you imagine that Christ comes down with 12 disciples in V Formation (yes, that was a mighty ducks reference) and boom! ...All he does is give you a book. That must be a dang important book! And Mom pointed out a good point- He reads and was filled with the Spirit. Why are we told to read the book of Mormon? So we can feel the spirit and receive revelation from God! Why in the world do we ever forget to read this amazing book! Myself being the biggest culprit, I hope that I can give this book the attention that it deserves because it is the Keystone of our religion as Joseph Smith said.

Alright, I'm about out of time but know that there is love for you in Kentucky! I love you and am grateful for you and know that God feels the same way except way more! :)

Happy Holidays!

Elder Howland

Monday, November 23, 2015

November 23, 2015

This week has been awesome! So last week we kind of struggled with numbers.  We didn't quite do what we wanted so this week we were focused and because we were obedient, faithful, and diligent we qualified for grace! So in a normal week we want to find 3-4 new just as a mission standard. Last week we had 2. Bad. But this week we focused on opening our mouth and allowing the Lord to fill it as he promises to do and what do you know? 10 New!!!! We found 10 people in our area and taught them principles of the gospel and set a return appointment to go teach more! 

Let me tell you, people have problems in their life and are looking for help, and the thing that brings the most peace, love, joy, and relief in this life is the gospel of Jesus Christ!

On a random note, one thing that really helps to bring the spirit when teaching is companionship unity. That is also one thing we worked on. So we were walking down the sidewalk at like 7 and it was already completely dark, when suddenly like 6 inches directly to our right this little dog starts barking/yipping super loud and attacking Elder Bunderson! Well Elder Bunderson got a nice little kick off on the dog but not before the dog sunk some teeth into his suit! Luckily he didn't bite Elder Bunderson but he did rip his suit a little, which brings back the companionship unity because now both of us have a rip in our right pant leg! His by the ankle and mine under my knee haha

We have some very solid people we are teaching in this area with 3 people on date to be baptized before the end of the year. But other than that... our teaching pool is bone dry. So that was what we focused on and it is hard to explain over an email but long story short- our teaching pool and some serious prospects that we have taught either once or twice that we are hoping to help progress this coming week!

We had a general authority named Randall K. Bennett come tour the mission and do a training this week and it was POWERFUL! Wow he said he didn't prepare anything and was just being directed by the spirit. For 7 hours! I can't even give a gospel principles lesson for half an hour without notes haha But it was great and there is too much to hope to include here but I figure I'll throw in a couple miracles that came from it.

So the day after the training when we were first able to put to use some of his focuses, one being getting referrals, we saw miracles. So referrals are really low here. Elder Bunderson has been in this exact area for 5 months and in all that time they have recieved 2 referrals. Well we recieved 2 more referrals on this first day!!! Missionary work is so much more effective when we aren't finding random people on the road but instead finding those who have the light of Christ in their life already in the form of a member who is a righteous example in everything they are living! 
One specific referral was from our most recent convert Wade (otherwise known around here as the Joker haha) He was telling us about his Ex-wife Angie. He gave us her address and phone number and was telling us that she needed the gospel right now because her father just passed away, her aunt had just passed away and on Wednesday (2days before) her son attempted to commit suicide. Well as he was telling us this he breaks off and points to a car that was pulling up and says speak of the devil. She showed up right then and there!!! And not only that but she said that she was just wondering what our number was so she could call us because she needed help. God works quickly for the people he loves! She came up and shared some of what was bothering her and we taught her and tried to show that we were the answer to her prayer. (She was the answer to ours also) And we are looking forward to showing her how God offers peace and safety when we follow Him.

Ok this is wayyy too long, I'm just on fire about this work!

I love you all, It is so great to hear from each of you in email and letters so thank you so much for sending them!

My testimony is strengthened each day by sharing it. I do know that by living the principles this gospel teaches is the way that we can be happier and more peaceful in this life. I know that God knows and loves each of us specifically. That we are all far more powerful than we know and that through Christ we can do all things!

Have such a great week!

Elder Howland
(These are pictures of Elder Howland with his companion, Elder Bunderson and with his zone)

Monday, November 16, 2015

November 16, 2015

By the way, this week was transfers for Elder Howland.  His new mailing address is:

250 Little Round Top Rd. Apt. 318
Fort Thomas, KY  41075
November 16, 2015

This picture was taken when Mark met his first back at the end of September or beginning of October.

This week was transfers and I ended up leaving Elder Macfarlane in the Highland Heights ward in Kentucky and being transferred clear over to the other companionship serving in the Highland Heights ward in Kentucky!!! Haha It is kinda crazy that I had to pack up everything I have out here to move 2 miles but now we have one set of Elders and one set of Sisters instead of 2 sets of Elders. So Elder Bunderson stayed here and I became his new companion which is weird because I have been serving with him for 6 weeks already pretty much :) But I love it, he is a super good kid and missionary. He puts a lot more pressure on me to teach and work than Elder Macfarlane did which is good for me. It is so true that you don't realize what your trainer does for you until you leave them! 

One major difference is that instead of being in a car we are taking the shoelace express each day... yep. Walking! So fun! No I'm just kidding it really isn't that bad.  The only thing that I don't like is that I feel so much less effective here than I did when we were driving because we have a lot of time waiting for a bus or walking city to city so I'm trying to figure out some better way to do it! If you have suggestions please please let me know! 

Yesterday was a lot of fun, Wade (who was just baptized) was outright snoring in Elders Quorum! Haha He works 10pm-7am the nights before church and everyone knows that and is just grateful that he is there so it is good. 

The sisters in our old area are doing great things! They are moving forward and the investigators are progressing.  My mom just reminded me that it really isn't about the missionaries. Yes we love them and want to see them through to baptism but it only matters what we can do for them while we are there. But I still get to see the investigators at church so that is nice :)

I love you and am super grateful for you especially at this time of year.  It is so great that we can focus on the blessings that we have and where they come from. (Moroni 7:13) God really does know us individually and care about the things that are important to us because He understands each of us perfectly!

With love,

Elder Howland

Monday, November 9, 2015

November 9, 2015

Oh my goodness everything is crazy right now. We got transfer calls this morning and Elder Macfarlane my comp, is leaving and I'm staying... that is until 15 minutes later, continued revelation calls us back and says that I'm leaving too and so that means we are being doubled out! I am so not ready to leave! I love it here so much and the people are amazing, I want to get so much closer to them and we were just getting fired up, we just set a goal to baptize 4 people this transfer and we had set everything and now we are trusting it all into the next missionaries hands. So time to pack up again...

This week was awesome and that makes me want to go even less! Saturday was so cool. We went to go meet this investigator and as we got out of our car he walks out and asks us if we want to go to Applebees... on him! What? An investigator? But ok! So the setting wasn't very conducive to having the spirit there... But when you are guided by God to say and do what he himself would say and do if he personally were ministering unto the people to whom he has sent me, then all things are possible and yeah the spirit was there! Afterwards when we were leaving he said something to the effect of wow I asked you guys some hard questions that I've been asking for years and you were able to answer them way better than anything else I have heard. But now we won't be here to personally follow up and I'm super sad!! I love this guy so much and want to keep teaching him!!!

After that we went and did some service for Sister French in the ward. She lives down south of our area and is literally the crazy cat lady of the ward. She can talk forever, the last drive down there she spoke for 45 minutes with only a courtesy "mmm hmm" every 10 minutes or so with Elder Macfarlane and his last comp. She has 21 cats. Yes I'll say that again 21 cats. And her house looks and smells like she has 21 cats too. So very gross but hey when in Kentucky! Right?

One thing that I would like to ephasize this week. Did you know that God speaks to man? No, really...God speaks to man. Today right now God speaks to us, you, me. God the creator of all things in Heaven and Earth will speak to you. Are you listening? Are you asking for him to enlighten your mind with the things that will bring you the most happiness and peace? I would invite all to ask God for the things they need, because if you will- he will speak to you. He speaks to me everyday. When I actually actually actually realized this, it was amazing. I love it and he wants to bless us so let's let him!

We have been teaching so much these last few days and have such solid investigators and with such power that I want to see these people through, to baptism! I love it here and ultimately want to do God's will and so I will be just as excited to see where I go now and see who I am going to serve for the next 6 weeks and serve with for the next 6 weeks! Til next week when you get to find out where in the world I am... haha literally! I love you and am so grateful for your prayers and thoughts. 

Elder Howland

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

November 2, 2015

Ok this week was awesome! Started with ripping my suit but ended with baptism!

So the beginning of the week was hard on me. We walked up to someone on the street and long story short afterwards I felt very frustrated and like a failure and all sorts of bad stuff. BUT when I got home I was sitting there feeling miserable and I opened the Book of Mormon to a random page and I don't even know what it was that I read but after I had read one verse- Everything changed. I had something change within me that changed as quick as a light switch being flipped, I felt peace and my mind was clear. The Book of Mormon brings with it the Holy Ghost. I know that because on this day the spirit came as it has countless other times when I have read from that book. So now to help you, will you read the Book of Mormon when you are feeling frustrated, alone or afraid? I promise you that if you do, you will feel as I felt and the Holy Ghost will show you the love your Heavenly Father has for you and bring you the peace, hope and joy that He wants you to have.

Okay I have to tell you about this baptism! It was crazy. So Wade is this guy... here let me try and paint a picture for you. So he is 38 and lives alone in Newport (super sketchy city). So he has hair that goes down to the middle of his back or so and has a goatee/soul patch thing going on that isn't centered under his lip, it's a little off haha,  He has 2 sets of earrings and always wears chains hanging from his waist. His favorite holiday is Halloween so we set his baptism to take place on Halloween and honestly reminds me of a buddy I used to work with Tim Graham. So Wade comes to his baptism 3 hours late! Yeah so all the ward members had left, leaving like 4 sets of missionaries and like 2 members stuck around. So not only was he ridiculously late but he came in still half dressed up in costume! He came as the Joker from Batman. Most of the makeup was gone but he still had some red residue around his mouth and cheeks and his hair was green! It was super funny, the joke is now that we baptized joker! (We are currently trying to find batman as a new investigator) 

We also had zone conference this week!!! That was so cool! It was my first but I already can't wait til the next one! It was a day of Revelation Nation! It was better than general conference... ooooh, can I even say that? Oh well, too late. Yeah it was awesome, and I learned so much and questions that I previously went into it with were answered! One little bit that I'll share is that we repent (hopefully) each day but on Sundays when we take the sacrament we are fulfilling the repentance process by inviting Christ to come into our lives and help us change. We try and change all week and we do all we can, but ultimately we can't do anything without the atonement of Jesus Christ and so by partaking of the emblems of Him we are literally taking him into our life and his grace is then what gives us the power to change. Because that is what I've learned the most out here so far, repentance isn't just apologizing to God for sinning, to repent =to change.

November is a month for miracles so just expect to be hearing about those :)

Love you guys!

Elder Howland