Wednesday, July 19, 2017

July 17, 2017

To be short, this week was incredible!

Zone Conferences are this week and it is so much fun! Being able to spend time with other missionaries and our Mission President and his wife is always the best!

One cool thing is that we lost contact with one of our investigators last week, she asked us not to come back via text. Well that isn't the cool thing... this is the cool thing: We ran into her near her home one day and after asking how she is doing we asked how she felt when we were with her and in her words she said "it was a Godly feeling."

This is my favorite thing that we do. We get to bring a Godly feeling to those we talk to. We pray and we teach and testify of Christ. We invite them to come closer to him and we promise them the blessings that come from living the Lord's commandments! I can't think of a more fulfilling thing.

We got an email from a missionary that went home just a couple months ago. He was emailing us and at the same time scraping off some gum from under an elementary school chair... Man I am so grateful to be serving a mission! I am excited to be here and excited to spend the next few months serving the Lord.

This is the BEST thing in the world. I wish that everyone had the opportunity to spend these 2 years serving. Words can't describe!

Elder Howland

We received the flight itinerary for Elder Howland's return.  That makes his return so real...and so soon.  Just 2 months until he's back.  He flies into Salt Lake on the morning on September birthday.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!!  I can't wait for a hug !!!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

July 10, 2017

Mondays don't feel like Mondays anymore, we don't really do much of a Preparation day...well actually that is all we do. Take care of the bare essentials and then work through a lot of it instead of playing. 

I am loving life I just need some additional sleep is all. But I can do that when I get home. But then I will want to see everyone and so I will be like I will sleep in a few months. And then I'll say I can sleep when I graduate and then I'll say I'll sleep when I retire and then I'll sleep when I am dead. Long story short. I'm never going to get enough sleep haha

This week we are starting Zone Conference and I am so excited for that! We get to be with all the missionaries and teach and train and just have a ton of fun! :)  I have given a lot of trainings to missionaries as a Zone Leader and District Leader but something is different when we are the ones training the Zone Leaders. We had a Mission Leadership Council and so all the Zone Leaders and the Sister Training Leaders all come and we train them so that they can go out and lead their missionaries in their zone. It is weird because we are doing all the same things at every level of missionary work but the only difference is what level we are teaching. Assistants train Zone Leaders who train District Leaders who train missionaries who train investigators. It is really interesting. This is really just an interesting assignment. 

Man being a missionary is so wonderful and simple and it takes so much but is so good! I am just trying to dig my heels in and enjoy every moment because it is going quick!!!!

Love to you all.

Elder Mark Howland
This photo came from a member in Elder Howland's area.  She sent it to me through Facebook Messenger and said, "Your son is one of my missionaries.  Today I cut his hair and he asked me to send this to you.  We thought you might like it.  He's awesome.  He's either very tall or I'm just that short.  I come up to his chest."  After "chatting" back and forth, I found out she's 5'1"...and Elder Howland is 6'3" or 6'4"...I can't remember which.

Monday, July 10, 2017

I finally got a new address for Elder Howland:

Elder Mark Howland
4610 N. Bend Rd.
Cincinnati, OH  45211

If you haven't taken the opportunity to write to him, please do.  He loves to get mail, just like we all do...

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

July 3, 2017

In just one week serving here I have learned so much! The biggest thing here is Elder Cook is talking to everyone. All of us make excuses and we find and create reasons to not talk to someone. Whether it is they are a little farther away or they are talking on the phone, there is always a reason not to talk to someone. Elder Cook's example has brought a lot of evidence of why we talk to everyone. Many of our new investigators this week came from talking to everyone. That and media referrals.

Elder Manning is a great asset to us. I feel like we are 3 different points of an equal triangle and with all 3 of us we are able to do more than any of us by ourselves.

One that was fun was when we saw Carla and her son Reggie. Carla said that her brother was a drug addict and in a really bad place...until he read the Book of Mormon and was baptized. She said the change that he made in his life was so visible! He ended up being so good and she said that she wanted that kind of change also. We taught them the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and they came with us Sunday to church but it was really a surprise when she brought her other daughter and granddaughter to church also! Afterwards she said she was excited to see us tomorrow for our lesson and would be back next week!

I have been out here for a while but one thing that I have kept with me is a constant attitude of being teachable. I want to continue to learn because in the gospel just like in life there is always a better way of doing things and always more to do and learn. I know what Enos meant when he says that when the thoughts of the joy of the saints and eternal life sank into his heart- he hungered. I feel that craving for more. A desire to be my very best. Throughout a lot of my life I have given part of myself, in academics and work I have given enough to get by. Enough to keep pace with everyone else in the race. But we are not meant to simply keep pace with the rest of the world. We are endowed with so much more ability than that. We are the noble and great ones saved for the last days. We are able to make a difference and to let our brighter lights shine in growing darkness. 

If we try and give a little more of ourselves I think that each of us will find that we can do it. We can pray a little more sincerely, we can study a little longer and deeper, we can build on our charity for others a lot more. We are able to do it and Heavenly Father will bless us with glories and joys that we can imagine and more. I hope that if you are reading this that you want to as much as I do. 

You can, you know. You can do it. 

And I love you.

Elder Howland

(FYI, Elder Howland was tranferred last Monday and made an assistant to the mission president.  There are three assistants right now...that's why he's talking about two other elders.)

Elder Cook, Elder Howland, Elder Manning

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June 26, 2017

This week is the last week of the transfer and we just found out that both of us are leaving! :( Eastgate has been soooooooo good...if only for 6 weeks; it was awesome! The ward was most definitely the best part of being there and so am so sad to go! Luckily I get to stay close by Cincinnati on the West side. I just realized that I have spent half of my time here within 30 minutes of Cincinnati which is the mission name, so that is a blessing. I truly consider it a home away from home.

We have an investigator named Candice that we found and started teaching the last 3 weeks or so. She had previously investigated the church but had only seen missionaries like twice, so when we first went back to start teaching her she put us through the ringer! She was drilling us on what the Godhead was like and what the difference was between a spirit and The Spirit and more! But we answered her questions adequately and she allowed us to teach her. So we taught about the Plan of Salvation and she is so funny because she likes to go slowwww but get really deep into it. She has really good questions and when we answer them she feels that they are right and true and she is left always wanting more which is really cool!

The funniest thing though was she said that when she became a mother she had to learn different ways to say things. For instance when you want your kid to stop. You say "stop" but sometimes that doesn't work so you need a "STOP" and that doesn't always work so sometimes you need... (She did sign language for stop). I then interjected, "and you can say "alto" which is Spanish for stop". To which she responded quickly with, "I gotta say "QUITTIT" which is Ghetto for stop!!!"  Hahaha we died laughing because we are in the ghetto! So great! She is a crack up! Maybe you just had to be there.  

Glad to be here doing the best thing ever! I have reflected on Alma the Younger's experience which he describes in Alma 36 as well as Enos's story, and the thing that I love between the two of them is that both of them reflect on the words of their fathers. Alma says, "as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world." Enos described it as, "Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forest; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning Eternal life and the joy of the saints sunk deep into my heart. And my soul hungered." I can relate a lot to these two. Enos doesn't say it but I think there was a time where he wasn't valiant and obedient. Obviously there was a time where Alma was outright against the church. There was a time where I didn't do the things that I knew was right. But like them, I knew what was right because I had learned it from my father (and mother), and there came a time when I remembered it also. And that remembering and then ACTING on it set me on this course and I am forever grateful for it! :) This is still the best experience of my life! :) And I love it!!!!

I love you! Thank you for everything you have done and are doing for me!

Elder Mark Howland

Monday, June 19, 2017

June 19, 2017

June is upon us and oh so glorious! I can never say too much about the summers here! The intense heat with the muggy humidity doesn't bother me in the least... I actually kind of like it! And the summer storms are so cool, Utah rain is nothing compared to a good Ohio deluge! It usually only lasts for half an hour at the most but man it is like there is a lake out there! That has happened a couple times this week.

So we had Elder Timothy Dyches of the Seventy come visit our mission this week, we had 2 days with him and it was so fun! As he taught us, the thing that I kept getting over and over was that I just needed to work on doing the little things that I had let slip. Filling out all of my planner and being more invested in Preach My Gospel, really just using all the resources that I have available to me. Sadly I think that I look at all that I have and get over confident about it. I think I have all these resources so I don't need to worry about them, but since I have them I need to use them more and get them in my brain and even more get them in my heart!

At the end of this transfer 3 former companions of mine are going home including Elder McKellar who I am with right now so that is hard. I am going to miss them a ton and the reality of that is setting in. Lol He has already started packing it is so funny! Saying goodbye is hard but I love what a friend of mine said--going home is not about transitioning, it is about progressing. Just like the gospel, it is about trying to better where we are so that we are closer to and more like Christ. There should not be a transition back to being "normal" we are a peculiar people for a reason! We are supposed to be different when we return and stay that way and continue to progress. For that I am excited for them! Missionaries often refer to when they go home as a death and in a way kind of it is. I want to be excited for those who pass away in a mission field as well as from this earth because there are many more things to do on the "other side." This is a paradigm shift from sorrow to joy. And that is the blessing of an eternal perspective and the Plan of Salvation. There was a sister whose father passed away in our mission this week and so this fits. Please keep Sister Lundquist and her family in your prayers.

Love, Elder Mark Howland

Monday, June 12, 2017

June 12, 2017

Zone Conference!

This zone conference was all about a better way to find. The cool thing is though that it isn't just a missionary effort to find. President Welch and the Stake Presidents in the mission are all working together to help us to help the members to find those who are ready to receive the gospel! This is the ideal that prophets and leaders have been trying to teach for decades! We are finally implementing it. We aren't just meant to go to a home of a family in the ward and demand names of their family and friends so that we can teach and baptize them, we are supposed to go into the homes of families and teach them about the faith in Jesus Christ to find those who he is preparing to receive His message. Keys are the crucial part of this effort. When we are working alone, we have the keys of the Mission President alone, but with the Stake President encouraging the members, his keys unlock a power that we foresee bringing miracles to all those who will trust in the Lord and find the opportunities that He will place in our path.

(This is Elder Howland with all of his old companions that are still on their missions, except one.)

There was some time this week where we didn't have time for studies in the morning and I noticed the difference that made in my week so toward the end of the week even when we didn't have time for studies I made some time in the evening after we came in from working when we normally relax. By doing that I felt the familiar peace reside with me again. I love the gospel. 

We also put siding up and constructed a porch for our Habitat for Humanity home! New skills and a lot of fun, new people are there each week and we always get to talk about the mission since we have our nametags on. "Oh wait, both of your names are Elder?" We get that a lot and so then we get to explain it haha

Elder Howland

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

June 5, 2017

The first week of June! :) How blessed and marvelous and glorious :)

We got to go to the Indianapolis, Indiana temple!!!!!! This was the last one too! First I went to Louisville (pronounced as lul-ville) when I first came out, then Columbus a year ago, and now I have made it to the Indianapolis Temple! All 3 that are around us! This one was so beautiful! Oh how I have missed the temple!!!
Sadly I will confess that it has been almost a year since I have last been to the temple and wow does it make a difference! And guess what? I went in with a question and I received an answer for it! :) funny how that works isn't it? 

This is Brother Gygi and Elder Mc Kellar and we had such a great time it was literally an all day event! Driving up in the Tesla and stopping at Longhorn Steakhouse (and at a supercharging center) and making our way back! Such good times! :) The temple is really a house of God and is so peaceful :) Nothing but smiles all day! :)

We went on some exchanges this week and it was just what I needed! The work in our area is going slow with our personal finding efforts, the people we have are super super solid but the personal finding has been a struggle. One thing that we were able to do a lot on both of these exchanges though was FIND! We did a little tracting in my old area Georgetown and found some pretty fantastic people and in Cherry Grove we met the neighbor of an already investigator and she was just so excited to meet us and have the missionaries come back and teach her and her family!!!! 

(Explanation for the following pictures while Elder Howland was on exchanges...)
I planned on going over to this restaurant and buying food for my companion (while on exchanges) but we went to this place and he bought this burger called the Widowmaker it is like 4 lbs of food with the fries and everything and if you eat it in 9 minutes it is free... Well he did it!!!!!!!!!! So I didn't have to pay for him hahaha.  Here is the burger he downed! And then the fries were mounding over the plate also!

This dang mission is such a roller coaster, each transfer and even each day is filled with such emotion-filled ups and downs that weary me but the cool thing is that looking back all I see is the good! :) Not sure how it works but it does! So even when something is going my way I know there is something better coming around the corner! :) Today is a very good day!

Elder Mark Howland

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

May 29, 2017

It is almost June and it is starting to feel like it. I am loving the heat. So... not much happened this week so I will add a plethora of pictures to help!

Here is a young recent convert and and we are starting to make some more food at home because we are getting fat out here! 

Speaking of which we got a meal by someone in Salt Lake! That is weird right? Well it was awesome, we were spoiled by Tina a good friend of the family and she has taken it upon herself to make sure I gain a little bit more weight before I come home. I don't know if I mentioned it but at the beginning of my mission I gained 30 lbs and then later I lost those 30 also, I have been maintaining it well by running a lot in the mornings... but I'm pretty sure I am on my way back up.

Okay this hasn't been spiritual at all.

I know that we are led and guided where Heavenly Father needs us to be! Right now I am doing my best to end strong! Especially while serving with someone who is going home this transfer. But I am learning how to keep my mind engaged while accepting what is coming. I feel like this will be one of the greatest lessons to learn. The last point of the Doctrine of Christ is Endure to the End. The whole purpose of life is to build our Faith, Repent, make covenants like Baptism, receive and live worthy of the Holy Ghost, and Endure to the End. So while the world is full of starters, I am a finisher! When I have Jesus Christ with me I can.

I love you!

Elder Mark Howland

(Elder Howland sent home lots of pictures and asked me to post them here we go...  Enjoy!)
 This is Elder Howland with the other members of his district.
 The next 4 pictures of from their meal provided by a Salt Lake friend
(referenced in the e-mail above).

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

May 22, 2017

Turn to God.

It makes sense. I have known it forever. The scriptures say it all the time, whenever the Nephites get prideful and things start going wrong they turn to God and he delivers them. President Welch has been trying to teach it to us the whole year he has been here so far!

I finally get it.

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me yes but am I EARNESTLY going to Christ and asking him to strengthen me? Am I taking the initiative and asking specifically for what I want and need? Or am I expecting him to just give me strength and allow all things to work together for my good without showing any humility and asking for it first? Everything I do now is pleading others to turn to God and find their own deliverance. Find their own peace and safety through Christ the only one who can offer it! 

I am in Eastgate and serving with Elder Mc Kellar. We were companions a year ago in Norwood and best friends are reunited once again. It is his last transfer but luckily he is staying focused and we are just having a ball! :) Blessings from above!!

Much love from Ohio,

Elder Mark Howland 

Elder Howland and Elder McKellar with other elders

Elder Howland and Elder McKellar

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Elder Howland has a new address:

4610 Buckskin Trail
Cincinnati, OH  45245

I'm sure he'd love to hear from you...

Monday, May 15, 2017

May 15, 2017

I am so grateful for the experience I had this week! This is a real letter and not one that I hurry and throw together due to a time constraint. :)

So on Wednesday, May 3, 2017 (my sister's birthday) I made a commitment to read the book of Mormon by the end of the transfer which was today Monday May 15, 2017. I did it with another missionary because he was struggling especially in terms of his testimony of the Book of Mormon. We were in it together and we have worked it together. He was really struggling with even a desire to study in the mornings and I wanted to simply take Moroni's challenge which Preach My Gospel asks us to do often. So we did the math and we started reading 44 pages every day. All of studies consisted of reading and about 2 hours of personal time each day was focused on this. I knew that I would see some evidence that showed me God's love. I had seen it before and I knew I would again.
Saturday came and for some reason I struggled a lot. Sunday the same thing. I was lethargic and depressed and to be honest I don't think that I had felt that way in the whole time that I have served so far... BUT. Sunday I talked with Elder Payne which helped, and then even more so Lynn texted a scripture for me at literally the most perfect time. 

Alma 58:11 "Yea and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit [Elder Howland] with assurances that he would deliver [him] yea insomuch that he did speak peace to [his] soul, and did grant unto [him] great faith and did cause [him] that [he] should hope for [his] deliverance in him."

I felt that scripture hit me like Joseph Smith felt James 1;5 hit him. I knew that I needed to look to the Lord for my deliverance. It kind of surprised me though because this is literally what we do all day long! Teach people about how they can receive relief and comfort through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and here I am not applying it! So I got on my knees and I told the Lord all that was on my mind and right then I felt the relief that I needed. All throughout the Book of Mormon the main message I have gathered this time through is for us to remember the mercy of the Lord in delivering our fathers out of bondage. I remembered right then the times that I personally have been delivered, this time as well as in times past.

I have taken the challenge of Moroni and when I read the Book of Mormon I remembered the many mercies of the Lord unto the children of men from the time of Adam. I pondered it and I asked Him to take my burdens. I know that he did. I know that Heavenly Father answers prayers because he did mine. I asked for a revelation that the Book of Mormon is true, and he showed his intimate awareness, love, and mercy for me.

Things are going really well here, I am sad to leave my area but I am going to a really nice area and with a companion that I used to serve with a year ago. Elder McKellar who is from Trinidad and Tobago and the funniest person in the world. I'm going to be his last companion before he goes back home. Eastgate here I come!!!

Elder Mark Howland

Elder Payne and Elder Howland

Elder Payne and Elder Howland with Lynn (right...his left) and a person he didn't identify.

Monday, May 8, 2017

May 8, 5017

May. May should not be cold. May should be warm! Haha turns out in Ohio it is FREEZING! Looking back on now it is funny but this week I had one of the most miserable days of my life! It rained literally all day, we walked literally all day, and my feet were walking in puddles in my shoes ALL DAY!!!

Well I love days like that because then the next day when the sun is shining and it warms up I am able to appreciate that a million times more!!! That happened this week, it was back to back days!

I don't have a lot of time today but I feel like there is a lesson to be learned right there and Lehi talks about it in 2 Nephi 2. The fact that there is opposition in all things brings us agency which really brings us a lot of power. As we decide to follow the commandments we empower ourselves and bring the blessings of Heaven upon us and our families. 

I choose to serve God. I choose to be active in the gospel and not just active in the church or the mission. I can do all the things a missionary does and not be a missionary in my heart. I choose to be a missionary with all my heart, might, mind and strength because I love God and I love those I serve.

I love you...thank you for sharing this time of my life with me. 

Elder Mark Howland

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

May 1, 2017

Here are a couple things that happened this week. 

We met this super crazy guy. Like straight out of his mind. He described himself as an "existentialist of hecidic persuasion tempered by universalism." I don't know if that is a religious affiliation or what. But it literally made our day. (And I had to ask him like 4 times to say it again and again because he spoke really quickly! Every time he said he was an existentialist of hecidic persuasion tempered by universalism. haha props to him)

"The adversary wants us to be busy doing good things so we don't have time to do great things."

Wow. My bishop said that in this week's testimony meeting. I love it so much! How empowering is that? Heavenly Father really does have such a great work for us and we are the only ones that are going to get in the way. We are capable of so much, and we can see it. We can see the moments of greatness and triumph, but they don't have to be moments of greatness. They can be habits. They can be the norm. We should have moments of weakness but expect excellence from ourselves always. When we humble ourselves and bring our lives into greater alignment with Heavenly Father's commandments (AKA repenting) we have the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ accompanying us in every step to lift us higher than ever.

"Am I using the wrong measuring tape?"

Sister Smith is an incredible lady in our ward and she and Brother Smith are just the best! This was a quote from her in testimony meeting and it meant a lot to me. She described using a measuring tape that wasn't accurate. And it is dangerous using numbers to determine your success as a missionary as is measuring success in life by worldly milestones such as wealth, position, or anything else. Those things will pass away and our answers to our Temple Recommend questions are how we should determine our success. That is how the Lord is determining our worthiness so why shouldn't we?

Things are just so excellent aren't they? Man life is so good! :) 

Happy May! 
Love from Elder Howland!

Monday, April 24, 2017

April 24, 2017

 Lynn said something to us the other day that she is tired of doing "good" things. She wants to start doing "God guided" things now. Don't we all have millions of good decisions in front of you but where is God guiding you? 

Another story from Lynn to answer the last question. So Lynn loves the Book of Mormon. LOVES it. She is in Alma right now and she only started reading it for the first time a month ago. She feels the Spirit really strong and it provides her with comfort and peace. So last week she started reading the Doctrine and Covenants and in a couple days she got clear to section 52 and the whole Joseph Smith History! She is so great! But on Thursday she was feeling spiritually low- she recognized that she hadn't been reading the Book of Mormon and so she read it that morning. She said that she didn't even read a whole page and she felt the restorative feeling of the Spirit come back into her. I think that that really illustrates what we are all are looking for. And simply I would call it 3 steps. 1 Recognition- self assess and notice something is disharmonious, 2 Humility-be willing to recognize that your way is causing the problem and 3 Repentance- making the changes necessary to bring you back into alignment with the Spirit. 

One other thing that reminds me of is this last General Conference. Wasn't one of the main things President Monson asked us to do was read the Book of Mormon specifically everyday.

I want to share a scripture with you that I memorized. These are actually my favorite verses in the Book of Mormon right now. Mosiah 29:19-20. This is a common theme throughout the Book of Mormon. 3 Nephi 4:33, Mosiah 7:33... There are so many times it talks about the Lord delivering us. That is truly his sole purpose. He is the one that can free us from the bondage we put ourselves in.

19 – And were it not for the interposition of their all-wise Creator, and this because of their sincere repentance, they must unavoidably remain in bondage until now.

20 – But behold, he did deliver them because they did humble themselves before him; and because they cried mightily unto him he did deliver them out of bondage; and thus doth the Lord work with his power in all cases among the children of men, extending the arm of mercy towards them that put their trust in him.

The Lord has and continues to deliver me. I know that this work is true. I know that Christ is our redeemer and I know that the Book of Mormon brings me peace and joy and love EVERY TIME I read in it.

Elder Mark Howland

Monday, April 17, 2017

April 17, 2017

Easter was such a great day! Our Mission President's wife volunteered us to sing This is the Christ in Sacrament a few weeks ago and so Easter Sunday was the day that we did it. Elders Hurst, Bischoff, Payne and myself sang while our ward mission leader played the flute and another good friend in the ward played the piano. It was so good and in combination with the talks- it was just a glorious, Spirit filled Sacrament. It was the first time I have performed musically in front of anyone (mostly because I have always been really just a terrible singer!) but I loved it a lot and can't wait to do it again!

We had a Zone Conference this week and it was the weirdest one I have ever been to haha President Welch didn't actually talk all that much, we had more music in it that we have ever seen. It was really nice though. The cool thing was that I received the answers that I needed even though there was much less shared than usual. (The only complaint that I had was that the lunch was awful haha) I came with questions and I left with answers... and more questions haha

Right now I am surrounded by some pretty stellar missionaries and so I feel pretty lucky! One thing that I was pretty sad about a few weeks ago was that I didn't feel very connected to many of the members here in this ward but over the last few weeks that has really changed and probably my favorite  part of missionary work has really come in again. This area is full of some of the best people and I could go on and on! 

I hope you had as great of an Easter as we were able to enjoy!!! :)

Elder Mark Howland :)

 Elder Howland and his companion, Elder Payne, with some other people.
 Elder Howland and his companion, Elder Payne.
Elder Howland with his mission president's wife, Sis. Welch.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

April 10, 2017

This week has been Glorious! 

Well it started off pretty bad in that the Sisters that I was in the MTC with went home... But on the bright side at least I can talk to them more now!

The rest of the week was glorious though! We had a social media day Saturday this week where we had the opportunity to teach people all about the Prince of Prince. I love sharing this message. The first thing we did was organize a service project across the street from our apartment this whole last week and so in the morning it was the first thing we did. It was awesome using the neighbors to help us to do a good thing. We took pictures. I'll send them next week. 

Sunday we had a cool experience! We were fasting for a miracle to happen among the Young Single Adults here and then we say a miracle! So We have been teaching this girl Chelsey. She said Saturday night that she was coming. Then Sunday morning she called and said that she was ready. We were going to pick her up with some members because this is her first Sunday coming to church. She called back again and said that she was having an anxiety attack and she couldn't do it. I assured her that it wasn't a big deal, she didn't have to go but I asked if we could still come and introduce the members. She allowed that. So on the way over with the members she called back again and said her anxiety is getting worse and that we shouldn't come... but we were right around the corner from her and so she said it was still cool that we come. So she came out and we talked for like half an hour. And after that she felt better and wanted to come! So we went to church and she loved it and she even bore her testimony! It was really cool and I love that we can add our testimonies to that of Peter when he declared that we have not followed cunningly devised fables but were eyewitnesses to His Majesty! We see miracles daily! God's work is going on and never halting!

Elder Howland

I'm not sure who the sister is, but this is Elder McKellar with Elder Howland.  
They were previously companions.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

April 3, 2017

Of course I'm going to talk about conference! It was so great!!

One that particularly meant a lot to me was by S Mark Palmer. Not just because his name is Mark haha and not just because he had a cool accent also! But I love the story of the rich young ruler and I love how he focused on the Lord's love for him! It seemed like every single talk had a list of 3 things to write down! It is really a great way to plan your talk but when every single person does it it's like cmon!! But I love how several people in conference talked about seeing others through God's eyes and S Mark Palmer was one of them.  The best part of conference was receiving answers. Another great part is receiving chastening. I had the wonderful opportunity to have both haha

I had a problem that I didn't know how to deal with and I won't go into specifics here but I needed some help from above. So going into conference I was determined to seek my answer and the way it happened was interesting. All weekend I was searching and on Sunday morning I woke up in the middle of the night with a phrase in my head so I got up and wrote it down so I wouldn't forget by morning, and it was "if something you want doesn't exist- create it." Now I don't know about you but that was kind of cryptic to me. I didn't know how that applied. But I liked it and I thought I could use it in the future for like my job or something. But during the Sunday afternoon session I realized that the answer to my question was love. And I was chastened for not expressing my love more. So I realized that love was what I wanted and didn't exist. So I need to create that love for all those around me. Everyone deserves to feel loved and I was withholding that from some because I didn't agree with some of the things they did. I don't know if any of this makes sense haha

Moral of the story: The Spirit illuminates our understanding and it also is like fire and chastens and corrects. The Church is truly Heavenly Father's Kingdom here on the Earth. Those that we heard from are His servants and they spoke the words He knew we needed. I know that they set us on a straight and strait course.

I love you.

Elder Mark Howland

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

March 27, 2017

This week has been glorious! I mentioned Lynn in my email last week well this week she got baptized! I will be sure to include some pictures. Now that the story is over let me share with you it from the beginning from my perspective!

So I came into Cincinnati without much going on... Lots of fun! So after a week we met Lynn! She knew the missionaries through her friend Mitchell and loved the feelings through the Spirit! 
We went to our District meeting that week and the Spirit was so strong. I was listening and was able to receive revelation straight from God. There are times when revelation comes as a generous thought or good feeling or softer inspiration. This time I heard God's voice. He spoke and I won't say the exact words but pretty much he said that there was someone in our area that was ready for the message of the Restored Gospel in their life and that they needed to be baptized while I was here this transfer. It was very specific. I rejected the fear that came from that promise and knew that I had to work my hardest to help bring it to pass. 

Well since we started to teach her she fell in love with the Book of Mormon flying through it spending hours in it each day. She knew it was true through the power of the Holy Ghost. We asked her to be baptized (after calculating the required 3 Sundays attendance) on April 8th.  She had some concerns and asked some questions but was leaning towards doing that without enthusiasm. Now that isn't in this transfer because our transfer ends on April 3rd so I knew that Lynn was awesome but there was still someone out there who was ready for the message of the Restored Gospel and who would be baptized this transfer. Several days later while studying for our next lesson with her I read in Preach My Gospel under How do I Help People Prepare for Baptism and had the thought that we should ask her to be baptized on March 25th. That didn't make sense to me because it didn't fulfill the qualifications for baptism, but I kept thinking about it ALL day. When we got to Lynn's for the lesson I still was thinking about it but I couldn't go through with it... Well about halfway through the lesson she was explaining something and I simply decided to act. I asked her if I could rudely interrupt her haha and said "I don't know if I am even allowed to do this Lynn, but the Spirit has been urging me all day that I should ask if you will be baptized, not on April 8th, but on March 25th?"

To my surprise and everyone else's also there were no questions, no hesitancy. Lynn said that she had been waiting for years for this and yes she would be baptized on March 25th and she was so excited! Well this Saturday Lynn was baptized and it really showed me 2 things. 1. God knows his children. He knew that over the last year Lynn had been praying for a church to start attending and for someone to come to her door to help her come back to him. 2. God's word is sure. When he promises something he WILL make it happen. It reminds me of a scripture "...for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."

In Preach My Gospel it says that "You will succeed in your work as you learn to receive and follow personal revelation." The last few weeks of my life have been testimony of the truthfulness of that statement.


Elder Mark Howland

Monday, March 20, 2017

March 20, 2017

This week has been awesome! We had exchanges and zone conference and everything... It was just so busy. But we worked hard and it was so fun and the time flew by! Fun fact of this week. I started and finished my week with the same companion! :)

We are teaching a woman named Lynn and her friend Mitchell and his 16 year old son named Timmy. They are the most wonderful people that I have ever met! I have so much love for them I can't even describe! We go and share lessons and we all feel the Spirit so strong and we each learn so much. It is truly the way missionary work is supposed to be! They are progressing towards baptism and they have such a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon. It really is the key to everything, through that we can learn the truthfulness of the entire gospel.

So the best thing of this week happened on Sunday. I was having a somewhat stressful time right after church and then we started to visit people and find new families to teach and I noticed that right as we started to find and knock doors I just had so much joy come into me! I just know that the Spirit is in the Lord's work and it is such a good life! The funniest thing is that just like 2 weeks ago I was struggling with feeling love for the area and the work and all that... Well the cure for me was the same advice that President Hinkley's father told him... "Forget yourself and go to work." Very wise words.

Man life is great! I keep getting told that I'm very optimistic and I can kinda see that. Life is so great and it is even better when you look at the good so why not!? :)

Much love from Cincinnati!

Elder Mark Howland

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

March 13, 2017

Alright well hopefully things are calming down here. Things are so good. I have much need to tell you about Lynn and Mitchell and Timmy! I have so much love in my heart for them and I haven't shared it yet! So I can't even describe how great they are. I will just share a quick quote from Lynn- she is reading through the Book of Mormon and she said "I'm just wondering where it has been all my life."

I think that is a beautiful thing. Being able to share this message with people that are literally looking for it but just don't know where to find it. 

Things are so crazy but being a missionary is so great!

Elder Howland

I don't know who are in these pictures other than that it's a variety of people Elder Howland serves with or serves...

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Elder Howland has a new address:

Elder Mark Howland
5355 Tompkin Ave #1

Cincinnati, OH 45227
March 6, 2017

Life is crazy! I can't even do life anymore! So for those unaware my mom back home has had a tough week in the hospital. Then out here in the last week I have been apart of not one but TWO Emergency Transfers. Transfers were 2 weeks ago then I moved this week and now today I am going to move back to my old area and with another new companion. I'm done hahaha It is was all good until like 5 minutes ago I got the call for the second transfer. I was sooo happy with my new companion and my new apartment and having....

Sorry I don't like to complain. I am repenting. Really though it is pretty funny. Like wow life is crazy!

This was a stressful week but there were so many blessings! Instead of talking about the work can I talk a little about trusting in God? This week I really needed to trust in God. And even right now with all these changes I need to be trusting Him. So last Monday my world kind of got rocked when I found out that there were going to be changes with my companion and I also found out my mom was in the ICU. My brother obediently followed my Mom's instructions not to tell me much and so I was left kind of in the dark not really knowing anything. 

One thing that I learned from before my mission working with Living Scriptures was to "Control the controllable." The rest you can't bother yourself with. So I did that this week. I pushed all worries of my mother to the side. But I didn't forget about it. I have an experienced testimony of fasting and so last Monday I began my fast for my mother's health, pleading with the Lord. I knew that whatever the Lord's will was would be done but I took the example of the Importuning Widow in Luke 18 and applied it. I feel so very blessed that my older brother- and for years my hero- worthily holds the Priesthood and used it to give her a blessing in her time of need. I believe that these combined with the many prayers of loved ones on her behalf helped in her recovery.

But more than the Priesthood of the blesser the most important thing is the Faith to be healed. I was just studying that this week funny enough. What a blessing it is to have a rock for a mom. Firm and steadfast and always an example to me. My best friend. 

Well things are crazy as life usually is but Christ is the center. Christ is the constant.


Elder Mark Howland

(Elder Howland sent some pictures; I have no information about people in them)

Monday, March 6, 2017

February 27, 2017

So this week was GLORIOUS! Being back to Cincinnati was great the first week! I was able to on exchanges back in Norwood and was able to go see some people I knew from a year ago! In another year I want to come back and experience it again. Mission Trip!!!! Yeah! And can I just say that there is so many good things happening! This has been a week of miracles both in our companionship as well as in the work. here is just one for instance. Like there was this one lady who we met and she invited us back and that is great... And then we went back and taught the Restoration and it was amazing. She said that she felt something that she didn't normally feel (She is pretty spiritual aka Southern Baptist) and that she wanted to continue investigating the church and oh by the way like the day before I met you I received the Book of Mormon I ordered online!!! What?! That was so crazy!!

And then our first day we met this guy Robert. He had done some drinking the first day we met him but regardless we came back and actually we taught him every day this week because he loves having us come over! Physically he looked so much better each day! The first day he wore really torn sweats and baggy stuff. The next time it was kind of messy. And yesterday he looked pretty good, collared shirt and everything. In addition his home was cleaner and cleaner each time! We could see him changing each day and he was changing spiritually also.

These were just a few. As a companionship we have grown closer together. Elder Sheffield is a stud! Things are just so great and way better than I can hope to convey in the little bit of time that I have.

I love you, yes you. :) 

Elder Mark Howland

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

February 20, 2017

This week. Every transfer is going so quick! It is crazy! I just found out that I am going to be transferred this week which I am super sad about. I have loved Georgetown and more importantly I am sad to miss the people! The connections and friends that you meet are so priceless!

I am being transferred down to Cincinnati which is awesome because I served right next door there a year ago! So I know the area a little bit and I think I like the hustle and bustle of the city in terms of missionary work. So that will be a fun experience.  Elder Scheffield is my new companion and he has only been out 3 months so far. It will be good to meet him. 

This week has been my favorite to realize that I have grown so much and the best thing- that I love myself. That is kind of weird to say out loud. But it is true! And I feel like it is a gift from God to acknowledge that! I love who I am and who I am becoming! 

I set a goal of finishing the Book of Mormon in 6 weeks and am finishing it today. Setting goals and learning to live to reach them is empowering and will help me to reach my full potential and so I am excited to expand my use of goals and do more than I ever thought I could! Haha cheesy but true!

I love you!

Elder Mark Howland

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

February 13, 2017

Alrighty! So this week was fun! We went on 2 exchanges and we had a Zone Meeting and lots of stuff which makes for a very quick week! We find out about transfers on Saturday already! 

So we met this family a couple weeks ago the McQuitty's. We were walking down the street and they were using a saw and cutting some wood and so what would any decent missionary do as they pass? "Hey do you need some help?" And guess what? For once, someone accepted our help!!! Talk about exciting!

So we went over and we can't do the actual saw work sadly but we helped them a bit. The mounting of the cabinets was difficult because the drill we were using was broken and would spin but didn't have any torque really so it was just a mess haha definitely a fun story. So we borrow a new drill from the members that live next door and we finish it and then this week we came and taught them.  They were very receptive and Jo had even read the book of Mormon before and the others in the family wanted to. 

Little things are just going right and making life just so happy. For instance having Elder Allred next to me all day is definitely a plus! We laugh and laugh all day and that really helps when we are talking to people because we are expressing the joy that the gospel offers us and that is the biggest blessing! :)

So this is not missionary-y at all but I heard for the first time that there was a Lego Batman movie and that it is out??? Yeah when I get home I am excited for that! Sorry that was trunky and stuff but I was just going to say that everything is awesome out here and that reminded me of it! I love it here and I love the Lord who is helping very good things to happen and I love serving a mission! :)

I also very much love you all and am so grateful for your support of me in all the thoughts, prayers, and well wishes.

Elder Mark Howland

Monday, February 6, 2017

February 6, 2017

Every once in a while I hear about someone that reads the blog that I send home each week and I get all self conscious because I'm like dang it, did I actually put my heart into what I was saying that week or did I just write something home...?

So hopefully my heart is in this one because look, you are here reading it now. 

This week was awesome. For the first time in this area we were able to see a fast and testimony meeting! That is either the scariest or the happiest time in my life! I love love love those meetings when people get up and bear their testimony and share the Spirit together. But now and again you will find people that get up each week and share a story that has nothing to do with a testimony and are there for 15 mins. That is scary. But this ward is so great I love them so much everyone that got up shared their testimony and the Spirit was so so so strong! You know those times in your life when you just feel full to bursting with just so much love and goodness and peace and joy and everything?! :) Yeah I felt like that on Sunday because of each one of those wonderful ward members who shared their simple yet powerful testimony!

This week was rough because Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we did ZERO proselyting in our area because silly Elder Howland decided to up and get the flu! Also turns out that the flu doesn't specifically mean the stomach flu like I thought- no there is a respiratory flu that is way worse. So I had that but I'm doing much better now and we are working and loving it!

We taught this lady Tanya 2 weeks ago and she is awesome but we came back to teach her and she said that her neighbor also wants to meet with us.  So yesterday we brought a member over and shared the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with Tanya again and Ruth for the first time! That was a really good experience and we will go back this week and discuss more. Ruth's husband wasn't baptized before he passed away and she believes that he is going to go to heaven although she doesn't know how it can be because he hasn't had that baptism. Oh what a sweet sweet gospel we have to know the eternal truths that have been revealed to us by prophets and leaders to help us find and do saving work for our wonderful ancestors and loved ones.

This Gospel is true, it brings us to greater happiness than we could find ourselves. God our Heavenly Father loves us so much more than we can even know. I love you too!

Elder Mark Howland

Elder Howland was on trade-offs with another set of elders.
Elder Howland's companion is 2nd from the right.

Monday, January 30, 2017

January 30, 2017

This week was awesome. We had a missionary broadcast on Wednesday that was for the whole world and they changed missionary work forever!! Instead of having a firmly regimented schedule for missionaries here in the states as well as those abroad, they have customized them and left them mostly up to the discretion of the companionship themselves. It has been a lot less stressful since the change came and the thing that is the coolest is that with the added flexibility to our day it is going to really help missionaries returning home. The daily regimen of  missionary life is great but now it is more like real life! And when I go home I will be able to keep the priorities in my life like reading scriptures but not feel guilty about needing to move them to night time or something.
So something funny- I updated you on James last week. Again this morning we had an absolutely amazing Spirit filled time with him and he just feels that all that we are teaching him is true, it is really eye opening experience being able to see how God prepares people to hear about his Gospel and accept it! I keep learning over and over again that it isn't about us. We are just helping God to do his own work! :)

This week we started teaching this lady named Stephany and so I'm just waiting until we meet someone named Cheryl haha we will be teaching someone from each of my family members: my brother James, sister Stephany and then Mom Cheryl! :)
So much love and prayers are coming home to you whom I love!

Elder Howland

Monday, January 23, 2017

January 23, 2017

Georgetown is awesome! Elder Allred is awesome! Life is awesome! Being a missionary is awesome! It helps that we just got out of a lesson where we felt the spirit super strong... That helps everything to be awesome. So there ya go if you want things to be awesome-go teach the Gospel!

Okay. So it turns out that last week's email didn't go through so I will try and make up for it today! We really had a great week so that should be easy! 

So week 1 when we got here we went and visited some less actives and recent converts in the area to try and meet some people and as well to try and help them to work towards coming back and while in pursuit of this we knocked on the door of a neighbor of one of the less actives. (So keep in mind that this is at night, dark, and absolutely pounding rain down.) He answers the door and we talk for about 10 minutes and he invites us back. Super nice guy but pretty standard except for the fact that he described himself as "a Buddhist Christian" haha he was so cool though! So this was our lesson this morning. We went back and felt like we should teach him about the Plan of Salvation and wow. James is a spiritual man. He believes all the same things we do and he has been to many churches but isn't able to follow them exactly because, for instance, he doesn't believe that the Bible has all the answers. The Bible, he looks as more of a tool to guide him but eventually he will have to feel the direction come from within and the feelings that God gives him... We were like um, yeah. That is good. Hahaha

We have found several people that have literally asked us to come back. "Please come back and teach me so I can learn more and be happier." "Please come back, I want to have a solid foundational church and get baptized there and my family too." We are excited to be here and to see that we are just the vessels. D&C 88:73 says I will hasten my work in it's time. He will hasten it, not us. If we work a little harder and push a little more we aren't going to hasten it. Our job is simply to be connected to him and allow him to draw us to where those who are prepared are going to be. We are doing His work. And what a blessing to do so. 

I would send pictures but we are at a Library and they don't have an adapter so... that's too bad.

So much love and prayers are going home for you!

Elder Mark Howland

Mud story:
So I have a new companion Elder Allred who was literally on day 1 in the mission field and we are in a new area out in the middle of nowhere in and it is so funny because we have no idea anything about the area so we have to do a lot of u turns. The maps are all wierd and finding places is hard. So we go off the road one night last week and try to turn around when about 5 feet after we left the road our car stops. I was like that isn't good. 

So we tried to keep going and our tires were just spinning because of all the mud. So I tell Elder Allred to get out and start pushing because I have my nice shoes on and you better believe I would be out there barefoot before I was going to have them get muddy! So he goes out and pushes and nothing. 

So there is some gravel behind us that he goes and puts under the front tires and that doesn't work either. Now at this point I'm enjoying life because I'm in the warm car and I have the camera out documenting it all and he is out in the cold haha So I tell him to push the gravel under the tires more to give it more traction which he does and he is like "You better be in there praying and not just taking pictures of me doing all the work!" (At which point I put the camera away and start to say a prayer) And what do you know? We pull out! Slowly but inch by inch we did it, we got out! And Elder Allred goes to get back in the car and he has like 2 inches of mud caked on his brand new mission shoes! But on the bright side? My shoes looked great! ;)

Lucky him, he gets to share an awesome story for the first week of his mission! :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

January 16, 2017

Elder Howland didn't send an e-mail this week to share.  One of the members from his old area discovered some pictures on his phone that Elder Howland took..."selfies"...that she shared with me and I wanted to share with you.  Needless to say, he's still a goofball...

Elder Howland was moved to a new area and is training a new missionary, Elder Allred.  He did send his new address so I hope you'll take an opportunity to write to him.  He loves hearing from you all:

Elder Mark Howland
2 N. Kenwood Ave.
Georgetown, OH  45121