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