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

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

January 9, 2017

Sad day in Muncie, I am leaving this wonderful land and have the blessing to go to Georgetown, Ohio. No idea what it is going to be like there. 5000 people live there and I have never been someplace that small before! That is kinda exciting :)

So I will be going there with a new missionary who I will meet tomorrow. We were in a meeting with our Bishop yesterday and he asked me what my favorite part of Muncie has been and I called it Miracle Muncie. My testimony of the Gospel has grown so much and I feel such an outpouring of love towards the people that live here. I so hope that I have another opportunity to serve here again and at the very least I know that this will be the first stop I make when we come back after the mission!

But on to greener pastures, I love the saying "The grass is greener wherever you water it." I am excited to find and make new friends and be a support to the people there. 

I know that wherever I am God will use me to move forward his work. That is the beautiful thing of serving God. My favorite thing that the Doctrine and Covenants says is that the thing that will be of most worth unto you is to "preach repentance." So no matter where I am doing that I will be blessed. 

Also I have been spoiled here. So I kind of selfishly want to stay haha

Next time I will tell you about my new companion and share the goodness of good ol' Georgetown!

Elder Mark Howland

Monday, January 2, 2017

January 2, 2017

We have a great story for you! Isn't cool how so often we see miracles?

Let me first start off with a quote from a missionary but I think it was from our Mission President, President Welch. "I think that you will find that most miracles come with no number associated with it."

This is a miracle that built my testimony, I know that it will for you also if you allow it.

James had a STRUGGLE of a week! So many doubts and anger and just bad stuff. Everybody has those days, everybody gets that way everybody knows what, what I'm talking about everybody gets that way! Haha sorry. 

Anyways... so we went over to James' to meet him and it was BAD! He started cussing up a storm, he had gone back to smoking, took a total nose dive. Honestly we were more scared than anything. (We had a new missionary with us Elder Palmer and when we got there and things went bad I told Elder Palmer to just sit back and keep quiet--terrible, terrible idea! So prideful.) We felt so bad because he was accusing us of stuff like lying to them and we just listened to everything he was saying. Elder Tolbert and I were trying to help a little bit but LUCKILY Elder Palmer was with us because he saved the day. He asked if we could say a prayer right in the middle of it, and when we did... Everything changed. The Spirit came, I shared Moroni 7:13-16 and his entire countenance changed. But the real miracle came when Elder Tolbert whispered to me and asked if we should give him a blessing. We asked him and he agreed.

We gave him a blessing and he sat there for a few minutes and when he eventually stood up he told us something cool. He said, "You guys don't know this but for the last 15 years I have suffered from a inner ear condition which causes chronic pain in my ear and jaw. When you put your hands on my head I felt a pop and the pain left." Now as I write this to you it has been about a week and the pain has not returned. We saw that day that God knows his children and loves us individually. We, the missionaries, had no idea of the need for that healing but our loving Heavenly Father is on a much higher plane. Our testimony was strengthened and James' was built and God is so, so good!

I feel like I can tell you a lot of stories that are going on here but I guess the biggest thing is the joy that I feel doing this work. I'm old and stubborn (as would be expected from being my mom and dad's son) and still I'm changing so much and learning so much. I'm starting to see how experience is changing me as well as learning from the Spirit. 

I can literally never catch up! The more I try and serve the Lord because I am so grateful for the blessings I already have, the more I am blessed and then I desire to serve him even more!! Haha it is a good problem to have :)

I just realized something cool this week. If each day served on a mission is equal to one Sunday spent back at home then in these two years I am going to receive the experience of about 50 years worth of weeks. No wonder all those missionaries come home so much more dignified, refined, and wise. What an absolute blessing that is to learn and grow!

Elder Mark Howland