Monday, December 21, 2015

December 21, 2015

This week I got moved into the best area in the Mission! But honestly every area I'm serving in is going to be the best area in the Mission! (sorry for the bright and excited optimism so early in the morning haha).

We are in the Norwood ward and it is so cool because we have 3 sets of Elders in the ward and we all live within half a mile of each other! We have a Spanish set that lives like a block away and then the Zone Leaders are a little further than them but we see all of them almost every day whether just for a second in passing or for a while. It is sooo fun!!! All 5 of the other Elders are so cool and funny and I'm just so excited to be in this area!

My companion is Elder Leaupepe (Lay-ow-pepe).  He is from Samoa but spent like the last 18 years in California. He has been on his mission for a while, like ya know... 22 1/2 months haha. I'm killing him off (that's what they call it here when they go home the next transfer). So I'm excited because he is an awesome missionary, isn't trunky at all, and I have a lot to learn from him. Another thing I'm excited for is that it is like 90% sure that I won't be leaving this area at the end of this transfer!!! This transfer and the next are both 7 weeks each because of weird things but that means I should have 3 1/2 months here at least and I'm super excited for that because of how much fun we are having and all the work that is here to be done... not in that order haha.

The work is good; we got doubled in, which means that Elder Leaupepe and I both got transferred in and have no idea what's going on haha. It is exciting, but the work is going well.  They baptized a woman a couple days before they transferred out and we just put another girl on date for the end of January. Good things are happening in Norwood :)

Also we have a legit gym here, the YMCA, and so we now wake up at 5:30 to make it over there and work out for an hour which is sooo nice! I don't want to be the guy that comes home 30 pounds heavier than he left... especially because I'm already up 10 lbs! Haha 

I love you all and hope that you have such a great Christmas, looking forward to talking with you Mommy :) And to everyone else enjoy time with your family and try to remember the reason for the season! :)

Elder Howland
Elder Tolbert, Ethan, Matt, Evan, Elder Bunderson, Elder Howland
December 21, 2015

I just received an e-mail from Elder Howland with his new address(es)...they are:

Elder Mark Howland
6042 Fernview
Cincinnati, OH  45212

Elder Mark Howland
5538 Bosworth Pl Apt 3
Cincinnati, OH  45212

I'm sure he'd love to hear from as many of you as possible...

Monday, December 14, 2015

December 14, 2015

Transfers are this week and... I'm leaving! Again! Ugh, I'm not happy!!! :( I'll let you know the new address as soon as I know. 

Ok so funny story... Thursday night Elder Bunderson and I cut our own hair and he finished his first and asked me to touch up a couple areas and so I took the head off and went to do the neck and he also wanted me to do up by the crown of his head... so I went to do that WITHOUT THE GUARD. And I totally buzzed a hole in his hair and it looked so bad! So we just cut the sides down to a 1 and for like 2 days you could tell but you can't tell anymore. Can I just say that he was impressive with his patience and not punching me in the face? It was funny and it looks fine now!

Another funny story, we cooked cookies on Thursday and every single batch we burned!!! Haha But they were edible and we have seriously eaten so many of those dang cookies. We are fat. It is a joke between us but it's pretty true... 

Haha we taught this lady named Missy who is a co-worker of a member in the ward and she is really interested in the church and everything we shared really resonated with her I think because she kept saying that she agreed and her church teaches that too and stuff so that was awesome! It was a really great night, the members made some killer lasagna! Great great night, I can't even explain.

So I've mentioned Kayla before a few times and on Friday.... Kayla got baptized!!! The sisters in that area have been continuing teaching her and doing awesome apparently because Kayla decided to do it! :) That was such a good night!

The next day was even better though! The Stuart boys both got baptized!!! Ethan is 12 and Evan 9 were baptized by their dad Saturday afternoon! It was awesome because we had a ward Christmas party right after and so everyone came early to support them. It was seriously a beautiful sight to see Matt (the dad) pull each of his sons into a big hug right after he pulled them out of the water. That is seriously what I think of when I think "pure joy." Matt knows that this is the true church and to see his sons enter into the path that will lead them to being a eternal family brought the spirit and joy and I'm just so happy for them. Their mom is sooo cool and not a member and right now isn't interested but that isn't the focus right now. Those two kids are studs and they both love coming to church and learning more and ugh I just realized that I'm not staying here so I'm not going to be able to keep in touch with them :(

I'm really sad to leave Elder Bunderson, we have grown really tight in the last 5 weeks. Seriously why couldn't I have had a bad companion for the short transfer and then a super good one for the 7 weeker!? We have mobbed here in Newport and I will continue working hard and doing everything we need to be able to help the work progress. 

I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve and focus less on me. When the scriptures say he that loses his life for my sake shall find it, it means it. I love who I am now and I love growing more and more and seeing how I have changed when I'm not doing it for me, I am learning so that I can teach others! That is how it should be! I hope that especially in this Holiday season we all can look outwards like Christ did and improve the lives of those around us. There is Joy in that journey!

Elder Howland

Monday, December 7, 2015

December 7, 2015 - Happy December

Good morning! Okay so I thought that weather here was pretty comparable to that of Utah but I guess I am wrong. I've heard that it has been down in the teens in SLC and single digits in Logan!?! It seems a little early for that! But here we thought it got cold down to 31 and that is the lowest we have seen, but I'm learning that weather means a lot more when you are out in it for hours! But today and yesterday it warmed back up to low fifties and so we are pretty happy about that! 

Okay so this week has been awesome! We taught with so much power and authority from God and met awesome people that are the definition of elite and everything is awesome! Everything is cool when you are on God's team! Haha so we have 2, count em, 2 baptisms this week! Ethan and Evan Stuart are 9 and 12 and their dad is a member and so we are making that happen! This has literally been years in the making and finally (and I must admit, no thanks to me) they are getting baptized and we are so excited for their family. The mom (Erica) is not coming any closer to listening to the gospel but she is an amazing woman and we love her :)

So funny story. We received like A LOT of grace this week. Like an absurdly large amount. So after we committed this kid James to church we had 8 others already committed and this was on Wednesday so it all happened in 2 days but usually we only get like 3 ish... But all these things kept on happening like we would meet people that were super excited to learn more, one kid yelled at us from accross the street and stopped us so we could teach him. Like insane things that I can't even describe! So anyways sorry for the rambling but after James agreed to come to church, Elder Bunderson and I walked away and simply started to laugh... and then we laughed harder and harder until we were both crying and neither of us could control it! One of us would slow down a little and then the other would keep it going and then we both were laughing again! You know those times? Yeah :) At that moment Elder Bunderson and I realized that we were true missionaries because we laughed so hard and were so happy simply because God was working with us and we were having SO much success :) Good times :)

Ok so crazy thing. We are in a walking area right? No car. So we take the bus sometimes and walk most of the time but one day after I recieved a miracle bike from a guy in the ward, we decided to go out on them to cover more ground. Well I don't know if any of you have ever been to Fort Thomas, Kentucky (and let's face it I doubt it because there is nothing here) but the hills here are pretty intense! Also keep in mind that I can't remember the last time I was on a bike..quite possibly several years. Anyway so we have this one particularly steep hill (which is like a canyon road) and it had rained right before and at the bottom of the hill is a 90 degree turn. This is the perfect setup for a bad situation right? Well I go down and QUICKLY gain a lot of speed, and I hit my back brakes which lock up immediately and I try the same with my front.  Well luckily I had the Holy Ghost with me because he told me to slowly squeeze them over and over so that even though they were locking up they were slowing me at least a little bit too. At the bottom of the hill I stopped like a foot away from the curb which seemed like a miracle because I thought I was going to get destroyed! The lord is looking out for me and I thank all of you for your prayers for me because that is what I attribute that to! :)

Also we had the coolest experience that I will describe very briefly. We met this kid, Cruze, and we went over and taught him the restoration and luckily I have a boss companion because after he shared the first vision we experienced an outpouring of the spirit. I can only describe it as perfect stillness in the silence that ensued. It was so strong and so wonderful and after the lesson Cruze said something to the effect of "Thank you for your time and we will definitely be speaking again soon" :) Did I mention that he is 20?  James another kid is 18, I'm so impressed at these kids who live in a really really rough part of town and still God is so important to them. 

I don't know if I have mentioned it but Newport, just one of my areas here, is super super sketch! Like apparently it used to be a big mafia hotspot and now is just full of super low income, largely minority, gangs, and just sketchy. But there are soo many good people and I just want them to get out of here and have a real shot at life and success ya know?

Okay this is waaay too long. Sorry, I love you and God is amazing, look for the Holy Ghost in your life because you have the Lord's promise that you have it to be with you! Follow where it guides you because it will lead you to joy and peace!

Elder Howland

 Elder Howland and Elder Bunderson
 Mark with Brother Tipton
 Elder Howland and Elder Bunderson
 With the Kash family
With Matt Stuart