Monday, November 28, 2016

November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving was probably my favorite Thanksgiving of all time! We went over to a family's house in the ward and they had some other members there and they had some of our investigators there and we just had this really nice fancy classy dinner! It was soooo good and I ate soooo much! Totally worth it! And we read the address that Abraham Lincoln gave when he first instituted Thanksgiving. I love that tradition! We then played some games together and it just made for an awesome day!

James and Misty were at church this week again and it was amazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzing! We have Stake Conference next week so fast and testimony Sunday was this Sunday. You know how you never know what you are going to get with those meetings? Well this was the most wonderful Testimony meeting I have ever been a part of! The crowning event was James standing up and bearing a strong testimony of Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon. Misty was crying from the time church started til they left. It was a perfect day.

Transfers are tomorrow and I am staying here in Muncie and Elder Swainston is leaving sadly. Elder Tolbert is coming in and we are going to do great things!!!

Elder Howland

Monday, November 21, 2016

November 21, 2016

This week was awesome. I had the opportunity to go on an exchange with one Elder Jones. He has been out on his mission for about 4 months and is the quietest person in the world. He has a very very loud companion and has not as of yet taken much lead in his area, and so Elder Swainston and I discussed it and decided that what would be best is to allow him to lead it all the way. That was probably one of the hardest things to do. Not make any decisions. Not invite him to do anything. Just simply follow.

At first it was weird and slow. It was awkward and frankly without skill. It is easy for me to do it and to step in but it brought miracles by allowing him to do it by himself. I learned that God does not work in skill alone but he works by the Spirit. I learned so much with 24 hours with Elder Jones about God's calling each of us to the exact place that we are and he needs our individuality to bring about his purposes. I couldn't have done it. I talk too much haha Only Elder Jones could humbly allow those investigators that day to ask their questions and think about the things we shared. He taught me so much just by being himself. The power of being yourself and following God's will is unparalleled.

We are powerful beyond what we know.

Elder Howland

Oh what the heck?! How did I not mention James and Misty came to church!!! They were participating when a question was asked and very reverent and respectful at all other times. James is a social butterfly and went around introducing himself to everyone. Soooo cool! They are such genuine and loving people.

Monday, November 14, 2016

November 14, 2016

So this last week we were talking with an investigator and I really don't remember what we were talking about but from the conversation I remembered when I was serving back in Norwood (which was December-April last) and I remember being devastated by the most crippling doubts that I have ever experienced in my life! Although I had had spiritual moments and lessons and had a very defined testimony there were several weeks where I just questioned everything! It was all in my mind, I made sure that I didn't tell anyone else because I thought it was a weakness and I thought that I would hurt other people's testimony if I told them about it so all I did was pray. 

Day in and day out I prayed that I would be able to overcome the doubts and that I could have the confidence in the Gospel that I once enjoyed! It didn't come all at once and I don't think I ever noticed them really go away but all I know is that now I can look back at that experience and just be so grateful because I was able to overcome that which I thought I would never get out of. 

Really, that is the big trick. Satan wants us to believe that when we go through things we have no hope. There will be no end to the hurt or the doubt or the sorrow or whatever our current trial is. But you yourself are the testimony that that is not true!!!! Can you see that? How many hard days have you gone through? And how many of those hard days have you made it through? Yep you have a perfect score and so why would now be any different than alllll those days and years before? You will continue to get through. The only difference is will you allow Christ to carry you through so that you can have peace as you overcome your challenges? Because there are 2 ways to overcome something, one way is to be dragged through completely miserable OR you can decide to overcome triumphantly and confidently.  I hope you can see the hope. I hope you can see the way, because He is the way. Where faith is, fear cannot abide. Just like where light is, there can be no darkness. 

So this week was great! It is definitely cooling down out here and we are using thermals and jackets but the fact that we made it halfway though November is still pretty dang good! This happened last year when I was down in Kentucky also so we are hoping for another very mild winter! Although either way I am in a car area right now so I have that. Last year we were walking 100% of the time!

Also transfers are in 2 weeks and I've decided I want to stay in Muncie forever it is soooooo great here! Okay here are two fun facts. One, Parks and Rec is set here which a lot of people know about but here is another. Two, Bob Ross was filmed here also! We went over and did some service and painted a room in an investigators house and they had Bob Ross on which I love and he said that indeed that was filmed here!

I love you guys! Thank you so much for your unseen prayers for me and thoughts. 

Elder Mark Howland

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

November 7, 2016

Here is kind of a short miracle due to time.

We had a missionary meeting this week and it was all about reconnecting with God and not being repetitive with prayers and it made the biggest impact on me. That changed my life. Before that day I kept looking at others and at all the bad they had, all the pride, and all the annoying things. Once I connected with God again through sincere prayer it was a connection on a deeper level than I think I have in my entire life- all the strife of the last 2 months disappeared in a day.

Despite that poor attitude- Elder Swainston and I were obedient and hard workers and we saw many miracles together but the biggest miracle has happened this week and it was within us. We came together and worked together and became one with Christ and we humbled ourselves and it is literally a miracle. The tension has dissipated and love and respect has taken it's place. It takes continual work but the Lord was truly instrumental in helping us to be what we already wanted to be but couldn't accomplish on our own. By being more sincere in prayer, it has invited more power into our life and helped to change us. That is what the atonement of Christ does, gives us the power to fully repent and change! 

I knew my pride was standing in my way and for at least the last week or two I have been praying at nights similar to Enos just hungering for the humility to love others and he answered that prayer through the revelation in MLC (Missionary Leadership Council). It is almost inconceivable how reconnecting to God solved a problem seemingly unrelated and yet now looking back was the biggest problem itself.

When you are feeling down just think about the good in your life and if you are discouraged you should know that you are doing better than you think. All goodness comes from God and we have a lot of goodness in our lives!!


Elder Howland

James and Misty (they're getting baptized on December 3rd), Elder Howland, 
Brother Hinds (with the beard), Elder Swainston.
Elder Howland and Elder Swainston

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

October 31, 2016

(Sorry I'm late getting this posted to the blog.  I was home sick on Monday and Tuesday this week.)

Leanne got baptized!!!!!!!!!! What an awesome joy filled day that was! The topper was how she kept talking about it, she taught Gospel Principles the day she was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and yes that day she also taught Sunday School haha And she bore a beautiful testimony right at the beginning comparing it to rain and a rainbow coming after :)

But wait the miracles don't stop there! Saturday night we were out walking and the house we were going to was just over the train tracks.  As we approached a train came and so we were forced to wait. While waiting we went to go talk to another family that was walking on the sidewalk.  That didn't amount to anything but in the 30 second walk the train went from 40 mph to stopped dead and we weren't exactly sure how that happened. So we turned around and went to another investigator in the opposite direction and on the way there we passed by a house where the man was coming out of his house and just said "Hey guys" as we went by. Normally we would say hey and keep walking but I was pulled by almost an ethereal beam that I couldn't control we just walked up to him and started talking. 

He said that he has been looking for God. He said that he has been needing a place to focus his energies. As we asked him the needed finding questions he answered them in almost quotes from the Book of Mormon, which he has never read before! If I could describe it in one word it would be "hungry." He is hungry for the gospel and was asking such good questions. We went back Sunday night also and had a member with us.  He asked us about how to feel free from sin and a feeling of guilt. We talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and shared about how it is through Christ he can be clean and he accepted a date of Nov. 26th to be baptized on. We met him 24 hours before and he is just so excited about it all!

Looking back on it we laughed because God literally stopped a train to guide us to him. God obviously knows his sheep. And things like this happen kind of often and we aren't exactly sure what we are doing to be getting these miracles but we are pretty happy with them haha

Miracles abounding in Muncie!

Love you all.
Elder Howland