Monday, October 24, 2016

October 24, 2016

Good morning!

This week was awesome, I feel like this is a third part to the same lesson.

Everything we are doing right now is all about 4 new investigators every week. That is like our side of the covenant and then God will help us find those that are prepared to hear the gospel (and a million other promises that I don't have time to type). So we are focused on finding 4. And we are getting better and better, on Saturday we had found 3 and so we worked on Sunday until the evening time (once again!) when Elder Swainston decided to call Lee Lee who we have been working with for a while . We asked her if she knew anyone that we could share the gospel with and she said we should come over and teach her friend Sam. So we did and Sam is awesome! And she said that she could see the changes that Lee Lee made which was sooooo cool because we aren't the only ones seeing it! It is changing her life!!!!! And we are going to be seeing Sam with Lee lee now. Lee Lee is going to be baptized this week and we are super excited for her!!!!!!!

Lee Lee has changed her life more than anyone I have ever seen. I have seen the Atonement work in my life that is easy to see, but we have been privileged to see the Atonement work in her life now too. In just a few short weeks we have seen her give up illegal drugs, alcohol, smoking, she is living the laws of chastity, tithing, she is reading the Book of Mormon almost every day. She puts herself into the scriptures and understands them in terms of how it applies to her. She has started looking at things more positively and is looking at life with a whole new perspective. Now she has a fresh new view of herself, God, and life.  We are seeing what usually takes people months and years to find and do in a matter of weeks. And the blessings she is seeing is condensed and amplified and she is receiving the strength to do it all through her literal Savior Jesus Christ. She is the perfect example of how we can and should be taking the Atonement into ourselves. 

Anyways I got off topic right there... so we were working that night and I turned to Elder Swainston and asked him okay it is after 8PM and we have nothing to do... and at this point I felt the Spirit as I asked him the question. What would we do if we didn't have 4 investigators? Or in other words how can we keep working as hard as we can even though we have met our goal? 

That was it! That was what God has been trying to teach me for the last 3 weeks! All of them put together finally got through, His patience in teaching astounds me. I just thought we were seeing miracles but no there was a lesson there! 

So whatever you are going through I would invite you to take a step back and look at your situation and ask that question. What is God trying to teach me?


Elder Mark Howland

Elder Howland and his companion, Elder Swainston

Monday, October 17, 2016

October 17, 2016

Hey so real quick I wondered if I could ask you to email me your favorite scripture at I am in a memorize kick right now and would love to hear some powerful and meaningful favs to use!

Two weeks in a row. 

Almost identical to last week's miracle, we exercised faith in God and his power wrought miracles. The divine mandate to our mission was to find those 4 people who need us and the promises were bounteous! So we are working hard to find everyone and at the same time help those we are currently teaching to progress and find the joy that can be found as we all come to Christ and follow him. If we had more time to do it, we would be fine but we never have enough time to do all that we want to do. 
So we found 2 new friends earlier in the week and now Sunday came and we needed to find 2 more to fulfill God's command. So Sunday night at 7:30 God led us to a wonderful family of 3 that welcomed us in and humbly listened and learned of him. God is teaching us that no matter what, his power is without bounds and he will work through us when we exercise pure faith in him without fear.

Miracles come over and over when there is faith. I love that I am learning this transfer that I need to trust in God completely. This week we are going to be better at trusting him throughout the entire week though and not just at the end haha No we really did work so hard and we are sanctifying ourselves so that we can have the spirit to be more and help others to feel it more!

I love you and thank you for your prayers and support,

Elder Howland

Elder Erikson and Sister Feil with Elder Howland

Elder Swainston and Jaren with Elder Howland

Monday, October 10, 2016

October 10, 2016

This is how things are going in Muncie: 

Mission Leadership Council was POWERFUL. We really caught on to the whole "Spirit of Joseph" thing (Joseph of Aramathea who begged and boldly asked for the body of Jesus. Not giving up until he got it. That is the simple version but really it was more inspiring than that haha) It inspired us to be better and to do better and we were on board to get 4 new investigators for the week and every week for the rest of our missions! He felt inspired that if we worked and found that many of God's children each week that were looking for this message then we would see success in each phase of our work. 

The next day we led a very powerful and revelatory zone meeting. It was great! Everyone was pumped and we really felt like the things that were talked about and trained on were inspired. As the week went on though, we were not seeing success with new investigators. We were working hard, we felt like we were petitioning God for Grace and doing what we could to receive it. 

So, here we are on Saturday night, and we still have no new investigators. We were pretty down about it, but we knew that we could get 4! As we were setting goals we decided that we would have faith and set a goal for 4 new investigators in one day! We made plans that would support that goal. We had church, a bishop report, and then finding for the remainder of the day. We went to bed feeling good.

On Sunday, though, things got off to a slow start and we were feeling a little deflated. We got out to work a little later than we had hoped and felt an extreme sense of urgency to the point that we were getting a little frustrated. We talked to a few people. Some didn't answer, others rejected, some were on the fence, some were busy. Still no new investigators. We went into our dinner appointment with no luck.

After our dinner appointment it was 630 and we stopped the car right before our next destination and decided to say a prayer. I offered a very honest prayer that we had things we could do better but we really tried to find those who were looking for this message to share it with. The spirit filled the car and we felt somewhat confident. We knocked on the door. Jackie, the lady we were looking for came out, and we had a powerful lesson. She was crying the whole time. And wants so badly to overcome her addictions and be closer to God and feel confident in her standing with him.

We knew that was a miracle. It was about 7:45, so we went to our next destination. As we started walking to the apartment, we saw that the house we were going to had a group of people outside. We started talking to them, one of them being the girl we were looking for, and they invited us in for some food (which was the biggest surprise because that neighborhood was not the most welcoming looking). We accepted of course because food is good. :) We came in, asked if we could share a message, and they accepted. As we were saying the opening prayer we both realized how merciful God is when we just trust Him! There were 4 investigators there, all of them very receptive to the Spirit! The message was received well and at least one of them wants so badly to be baptized- before we even brought it up he asked us if he could be. We are going back tonight and they are as excited as we are to be with them again! 

I guess the "moral of the story" is that miracles really do happen today. As I thought about this experience of setting goals to find God's children to teach and continuing faithfully clear to the end at 8 at night, I felt so privileged to be a witness to his power and realized this is the stuff you read about in the scriptures or hear about in general conference, and I got to be there! As we call down the powers of God and work our hardest, in faith, to receive his Grace, God provides. It was a very intense and spiritual manifestation of how God is SO involved in our work. More involved than us missionaries will ever be. This work is definitely not about us, it is not about a quota, it is not even about 4 new! It is about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. We got 5 new investigators, each one we love and they want the Gospel in their life, because 4 was a divine mandate and it was God's will. And through our faith, we secured the blessings that God was willing to give us. We just had to keep working and trust Him.

Love youuuuuuuu!

Elder Mark Howland

This is a fun picture.  Elder Macfarlane is on the right...he trained Elder Howland.  Elder Bee is on the left...Elder Howland trained him.  Very cool picture...

Monday, October 3, 2016

October 3, 2016

I am learning that not much can happen without trust. Trust between companions, members, and most importantly God. AKA faith. haha 

Last week we went on exchanges with the Ball State Elders (Ekpagha and Palmer). I went to Ball State with Elder Ekpagha and we had a blast! It reminded me of Utah State and the members there are so was great to see! Elder Ekpagha is a strong teacher and optimistic person; in general a very enjoyable missionary to spend 24 hours with. Also he is from Nigeria, and when it is 90 degrees and the rest of us are melting... he is wearing a wind breaker! Haha he is crazy but I love him so so much!

So after a year I want to do a little self assessment and mention a few things that have changed about me because you all know "Mark" but Elder Howland from 10/2016 is quite different. For instance and those who know me best will find this most surprising... but I'm actually a pretty neat and organized person! We are living with 4 missionaries and my area is probably the nicest one. If anyone cleans the apartment I'm usually the first one to do it.  Almost all of my mission I have made my bed every day and little things like that... I just really like the feel of a clean space. I guess I should have learned that from my mom 20 years ago haha

So I have found that in the last month or two I have unlocked the scriptures to a whole new level! It is amazing the difference between reading and searching, studying, and finding the mysteries of God. I am learning at an exponential rate now and even after a week or two I can tell a difference in what I receive from the Lord. Line upon line is great when you actually take advantage of each line and use it to help you up to the next line.

I also have found that I am an obedient Spirit. After 7 years of inactivity, one might think "rebel" would fit me more.  But the thing that I love the most is the confidence that I can stand knowing that I have done all that I can!

Another very surprising thing is that I really enjoy eating healthy and exercising. I like the sensitivity to the body and helping me feel the spirit more when my physical laziness and bloated pain is not distracting me from it.

I enjoy talking to others and helping them feel loved by simply offering them my time and ear to understand them when they don't have many who care to listen. Encouraging, uplifting and inspiring are my goals when I am with another child of God.

All of this is a long way to express that a mission is exactly where I should be! Cleanliness, learning, obedience, healthy living, and loving are the fruits of a loving Heavenly Father and elder brother who sacrificed all to help me achieve far more than I could have on my own. And all these things are important to me.

Elder Howland

 Elders Howland and Swainston on their cheat day - pumpkin pie cheesecake shakes from Arby's
Jack and Dana Jones with Elder Howland