Monday, April 23, 2018

Marromeu, First Full Week

This week has been another week of organization. We spent most of the week at the chapel. It started with the idea of having an actually functioning library in the chapel... We thought 'oh that'll be quick, just organize the books and supplies'.... Nope. There were 3 separate rooms crammed with old supplies, books and materials. After about 2 days we had gotten everything moved out, cleaned up and put into 1 room.... Why there were bags of cement and massive jars of glue in the library cabinets we will never know.

The rest of the week we spent working on organizing the paperwork of the branch, what fun. A bit over 600 baptismal records to work through. Pretty much no one had updated anything for at least 3 or 4 years which meant a ton of people had been born, died, given new callings, gotten the priesthood etc.... It is still a work in progress to say the least.

We did however put on a movie night with the Restoration movie on Friday night and had a really good turn out of members and non-members which was fun.

On Sunday we finally got to our area to visit some inactive members. It was nice to escape the compound of the chapel/house for several hours and just visit people.

This week was transfers, it didn't change anything for me specifically but we will be getting one more companionship here to even out the work. We will leave on Saturday to Beira, have Zone Conference (MY LAST ONE!) on Monday then come back with the other dupla on Thursday. Then I have 1 month left here... Craziness.

Thanks for the emails!

Elder Howell

PS: Still no camera.....

Monday, April 16, 2018

Marromeu Week .5

This was a strange week mainly because I spent the most of it in Maputo again. We had several days at the start of the week with Elder Stevens and Elder Thornton to go over last minute questions, tips and then just tell them 'Well.... good luck!'

We also spent a large amount of time shopping and getting supplies collected for the branch such as printer ink, manuals, books and so forth.... Which came out to about 80 kilos..... Great, its not like we have to fly to get close to there.

This also gave us time to pack our bags. The definition of trunky was found... All my stuff packed into my suitcases waiting to go to the airport, exactly what I needed :)

However once we finally got going to Beira things went super smoothly to get to Marromeu. False.

We arrived a bit late due to us having to beg and plead to bring 130 kilos of baggage when we should have only had 46..... Ooops, but it was needed. Then we tried buying train tickets. HAHAHA nope, we were supposed to buy them the day before (thank you for the person who didn't tell us who gave us the 'guide to how to use the train'). We were told to come back, so we went to get lunch at 14:30. Then the Sisters called (Dofelmire, Mabaso, Dart and Kefu).... They had gotten their 4 wheel drive truck stuck, in the city. Parabéns. Second time Sister Dofelmire/Sister Dart.... Second time. It was pouring rain and after 40 minutes we got it out thanks to Elder Da Rosa. We had 2 minutes to buy food then got dropped off again at the train station to try again for tickets, thankfully this time it worked.

We loaded all our baggage up without problems and got into our train car... It was 1st class, how fancy... But it had spots to lay down. It was 19 when the train left and we had a long journey to go. We didn't however really get to sleep. The cabin had 4 beds, we were only 2. We had people going in and out of our cabin all night, the train had loud annoying music playing in the hallway all night.... Thanks train people.

At about 6 am we got to Marromeu, unloaded all the stuff then it rained on us and our stuff. Great start Marromeu. After an hour the branch president showed up and we paid 3 motorcycles to hall all the stuff to the chapel (150 MZN, super cheap)... We wanted to ride too, but its against the rules. Dang it.

Once we got everything in the house, we slept a bit, finally.  Then  we set up for General Conference. On Saturday and Sunday we watched all of General Conference, which is always fun in Portuguese with the translation, but there was a really good turnout of members (over 120). Sunday night we got going on organizing the paperwork of the branch (membership records and so forth).

We have a ton of work to do here, but it will be good for my last area!

Love you all,

Elder Howell

PS: No photos, I am waiting for my camera to get repaired... But I did find a film camera... I'll use that a bit!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Luaha 'The Jungle'

This week and the last 12 days have been a bit of a mad dash that have felt more like 3 or 4 days... Very long days, but still only a few, not 12 days for sure.

We had planned on spending a week in Maputo to get organized, do laundry, get supplies, make sure the office was in good shape and then go to Luaha.... But due to some other needs we decided to switch and go straight to Luaha (Nampula).... Sorry Elder Stevens and Elder Thornton, you guys got this!

This meant my 5 days of packed clothes weren't going to make it, and I didn't have a washing machine, so, I hand washed all my clothes. Why not. That's always a fun experience. I am super glad that washing machines are a thing.

Anyway, after a day or two in Nampula we headed out with two members from Nampula as our guides, the Nampula Zone Leaders (Elder Chugg and Elder Cordy). We were told the drive would be around 8 hours.... I wasn't feeling great so I switched out of driving and 2 hours later we had arrived. Way way ahead of schedule. The Luaha group welcomed us with singing and hugs. It was great. We had a welcome meeting then got to setting up our tents, the kitchen thingy and checking out the area. After lunch, still feeling awful I went to take a nap around 14:30....... and woke up at 23 :) It happens. Still feeling sick I quickly wrote in my journal (gotta keep that promise) then fell sleep again.... Until about 11:30. Yup, a solid 20 ish hours of sleep. I finally was feeling 70% though!

That day we mainly just explored the area, talked with members and enjoyed nature. There was a group of members who traveled 50 km (31 miles) to meet President Senna and have him officiate a wedding. The stars in Luaha were incredible because there is no energy, lights or anything for miles and miles and miles. Beautiful at night, super bright. The members just live day by day farming and eating and working and sleeping--repeat day after day.

The following day I woke up and got going on the day because 'Hey, lets try and climb that mountain before the baptism' seemed like a great idea..... So we went off to check out the river then try hiking a bit. The river was a bit busy with people bathing and washing clothes so we moved onto the hike. This however took a TON longer than we thought and by the time we got to the first main ledge it was 10 minutes until the baptism (not that like anyone in the village has a watch or a phone to tell time), and Elder Cordy was half dying of his allergies so we headed back though the jungliness to the village.

Once we got back we got all ready for the baptism, took photos and started the walk to the river. The baptisms was the 'dream baptism' look for an African mission. Lots of people all dressed in capulanas, river for baptisms and singing in dialect on the way back. It was great.

That night there was a wedding of two of the people who came 50 km to get there, it was nice, lots and lots of xima and little fried dough thingies.

Sunday was an interesting church meeting as each of us did 2 of the confirmations for the baptism and all the talks were translated into the dialect. I also was asked to bear my testimony, which got translated. That is a weird experience. The English native speaking Utahan speaking portuguese to get translated into dialect. Its a mess for the brain.

We drove back on Sunday and flew out Monday morning at 01:00 (Thanks LAM for pushing back our flight 9 hours. Love you and your customer service!). We got into Maputo at about 3 am and I got to take a real shower. Ah showers. Magical thingies. Now we have a few days to pack, make purchases and get ready to leave on Friday to catch a Saturday early morning train to Marromeu (avoid wrecking another Toyota truck).

Thanks for all those that emailed me. Another long email, crazy week!

Elder Howell

 Happy Birthday Hannah!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

1000 kilometers... 1000 Cokes Week

This week was a week of driving. That is the normal for me, but thankfully the destination this week wasn't the normal airport, post office and bank runs. This week I finally hit my mission long goal of making it to Marromeu.

Long week, long email:

Marromeu: It's a mission branch in the Sofala province, same province of Beira where there are two stakes. Marromeu however is about 7 hours away by car or a full days train ride. I had passed by a ´Marromeu 112km´ sign on the way to Nampula which re-sparked my drive (ha, pun, I still can make those) to go there. Thankfully the branch was in need of a visit. There are hundreds of registered members in Marromeu, like tons, but only about 140 active members. Its been over 2 years without a visit from leadership or missionaries, that is super hard on a branch----so VISIT!

We (President/Sister Senna, Elder Da Rosa and I) headed up to Beira on Wednesday night to get a rental car (great idea), very white and every clean. We spent the day prepping, wrapping up all our stuff in thick plastic and getting snacks (yes, lots of Coke). We left Thursday morning nice and early at 5am

We spent the first 37 km on a nice highway, then came the ´Turn right and continue for 180 km´.... There isn't a road to the right, just a dirt path, let it begin. After 180 km of very bumpy, very muddy and shaking up trip we made it back to that ´Marromeu 112km´ sign.... Then ´Turn Right, 114km´... More mud, more bumping up and down, more Coke.

The last 80 or so kilometers is when things got super cool. We entered into the forest, full tree coverage. Every missionary that comes here wants ´real Africa´, well we found it. We passed well over a 100 monkies along the way just chilling in the road, wolves, deer, pheasant like birds (Okay, I might have run one over), and all other types of wildlife. It was just Africa.

Once we arrived in Marromeu we missed the chapel on our first pass but ended up finding it by showing our name tags to people and people recognizing it from the ´big version of your name tag on that one building´. We got to the chapel, an actual chapel. The chapel is big and nice, tons of space... And the missionaries house is in the parking lot! How nice is that. A senior couple years ago built it, not sure who, but if you´re reading this somehow, well done.

The members in Marromeu are super excited to have missionaires back, and they showed it. The branch has 8 duplas of branch missionaires who have been teaching people... We showed up to 6 people 100% ready, fully taught and just needing baptisimal interviews. We reviewed everything, did the interviews and had a great baptisimal service on Saturday. It was awesome.

Marromeu is pretty spread out and lacking the ´comfort´ of Maputo. There isn't any type of super market or really even a restaurant. Its just rural Mozambique. Pretty much everyone works at ´a compania´ a sugar company... And what a city. This is going to be sweet.

Elder Da Rosa was called as the branch´s second counsler and I was called as the branch financial secretary (and I thought I would escape that title by the end of my mission). What does that mean? We will be reopening the Marromeu branch for missionary work. I am pumped. So so so much work to do. 2 months to do our absolute best. 2 years is a long time without help or a guiding (or correcting) hand. We have a lot to do there.

We are currently in Nampula though. Why? We are going to visit a group in Luaha (about 70 members). They are 400 km from Nampula, no water, no energy just living off the land. So, camping! We will head out there on Thursday, then next Friday head back to our beloved Marromeu, this time by train, never again by car.

Why never again by car? Well, the return trip was hard on the car.... I did my best to be careful, but the road won. The photos and videos on my Google Drive explain it better than I can. Suffice it to stay we got stuck at one point, 100% stuck, buried in mud. No help for who knows how far, no cell service and 11 people we rounded up could not push or pull us out. After we had all said our frantic prayers for help, President Senna prayed. Once he lifted his head, what comes around the corner? A beefy 4x4 truck with a nice thick chain to pull us out. Unlike any Mozambican I have ever met, he showed up, helped, gave me tips on upcoming mud pits and then just left without asking for money.... That NEVER happens here.... We have decided he was one of the 3 Nephites.

Well, this is stupid long already, but its been an awesome week. Lots was done, lots planned and lots of work to come!

Love you all!

Elder Howell

PS: Going to Marromeu will be the true test of if I am addicted to internet, electricity or Coke (the internet doesn't really work well, the electricity is faulty and the Coke often doesn't have carbonation.... aka not worth drinking)

Monday, April 2, 2018

Super busy week

So, it’s 21:30 and I’m at the airport. It’s been a long long day. I haven’t had time really to respond to emails, I will try tomorrow to respond and do a weekly email. This week was crazy, fast and awesome. Super pumped for my last 9 weeks. It will be an adventure.  I will no longer be the mission financial Secretary..... I will be the Marromeu Branch financial Secretary. Elder Da Rosa will be the second counselor here. It’s super poor here. Mud houses poor. AKA awesome. The Branch is struggling, hard. I’ll explain in my weekly email.

Tomorrow we drive back the 320km of ‘path’ (at least there are monkies and wolves) to Beira then we will fly to Nampula to drive to Luaha. We will literally go camping for a week because there is nothing there.

Back to a few days to Maputo to pack up everything then hop a plane back to Beira followed by the train to Marromeu to stay until the end!

Love “y’all”

Elder Howell

PS photos in google drive, Internet here is awful

Monday, March 26, 2018


This week was interesting to say the least.

Long story short, the couple that I was training has returned to Brazil to do a temple mission. I am now training Elder Stevens to be my replacement and helping to train Elder Thornton as the Executive Secretary for the mission.... We have about 4 weeks to do all the training that is normally 2 transfers (12 weeks).... This should go smoothly.

Other than the nice swapping around we have been bouncing around from my house, to a house in Polana to sleeping at the office, back to Polana to now returning back to my house (where the couple had been for a while). Lots of moving around, lots of other things to do.

Everyone asks me 'How are the people you're teaching? How is your area?"
----I don't have an area anymore, we are 100% at the office for this transfer, most likely. Once he gets comfortable he will have a proselytizing area like I did with Elder Skraba and Elder De Paula but during the training period its too busy.

Hopefully I will have a few roadtrips to really far off places during April to help keep me sane, and to take lots of photos!

Love all of you, thanks for your love, letters and support.

-Elder Howell

Monday, March 19, 2018

A Week of Food

Its 18:00 right now and I only got a few hours of sleep last night because I was dropping off groups of Elders at the airport so I will keep this short.

This last week was transfers week so we spent an absurd amount of time driving missionaries to and from their areas. We also had Zone Conference, which we don't really participate in, we even do the 'behind the stage' stuff for conference, mainly the food. So we had a lot of food this week.

We also got new Elders from Brazil and a Sister later in the week from South Africa who will stay for a while here during her visa process for Angola. With the group of new missionaries we played babysitters at the mission home because the mission president was traveling for another zone conference in Beira.

Overall things are good, awesome comp and the papaya trees in Mahotas are growing like crazy still. The time is going by one day at a time.

'Step by step'

Elder Howell