Monday, July 31, 2017

July 31, 2017

We had some wonderful experiences that probably won't come across as amazing in email form but just know that through the Spirit my testimony has grown this week. I have strengthened it and I love that I can continue to have spiritually defining moments every day. In my life I don't want to start stories about a significant spiritual experience with "a couple years ago..." I want it to always be something I am experiencing, I want to say "so earlier this week..." That was my goal this week.

So Tuesday I was on exchanges with the wonderful Elder Parker from.... West Valley City! We were working in Eastgate, where I served last transfer. Turns out he only lives maybe half a mile from where I lived the last 15 years! But you know Utah, that was a completely different stake haha. So I loved my day with him. We had so much fun, but the best part was when we decided in the middle of walking to say a prayer. In that prayer we pled with Heavenly Father and told him we have talked to everyone today, we didn't walk past a single person. We have been praying and we want to find people to teach who have been looking for this Gospel! Please lead us to them! And as soon as we said "amen" Elder Parker said I know where we need to go. They had received a referral that they forgot about several weeks ago but as we know the comforter will "bring all things to your remembrance." So we started walking there, we knocked on the door and..... nobody was home. But 3 feet away we knocked on the neighbor's door and there we met Andre. He came out and talked to us, then he invited us in and talked to us.  We shared some of our message and found a time we could come back to share the powerful message of the Restoration with him and his wife.  That was a clear answer to our prayer and Elder Parker told me they went back and taught both of them and they were just as welcoming. I know I won't see them all the way through, but that isn't the point I don't think. I think that for me it was enough to follow the prompting to stop and pray and for Elder Parker to follow the prompting to go there. That is how I know that Heavenly Father knows me and loves me, that is how I know that Christ lives, that is how I know that he answers my prayers. It happens. And it doesn't happen in the past tense. It happens whenever I listen. Now.

This is probably the most joyful thing in the world, I can't think of anything that brings greater happiness and fulfillment than hearing a prompting and then acting on it and finding out you are an answer to somebody else's prayer.

Elder Howland

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

July 24, 2017

Today is such a great day! I am loving life!  Yesterday we went to the Welch's for dinner to celebrate my birthday so it was fun! 

Let me tell you a quick story! 

So I picked up a new blue suit on Tuesday morning on the way to Zone Conference, I had called the night before and they said it was all ready and I was like sweet! I didn't bring a suit since I was going to wear the new one right? So I grab it and it looks great and I bring it to the church and I pull it all the way out to put it on and I look down and I'm like something doesn't look quite right... THEY DIDN'T HEM THE PANT LEGS!!!!!  They were like 8 inches too long!!!!! And this is all 30 minutes before the biggest meeting of my life and I am sitting up in front of everyone! So I call some sisters and have them go and buy some safety pins and then I have another sister come to the library with me and roll up and pin my pants while I am standing on top of the table!!! 

We got back in moments before it started and a huge travesty was averted! 

They are still not done, I will have to drop it back off the next time we drive out to that area. But it is a beautiful suit! :)

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