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...so 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!