Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The End

Its finally happened. The day has come. Its my last P-Day. I will be home next week. Its a day that feels like it only happens to others on the mission, especially when you drop off around 50+ people to go home. But now it is my turn to say the goodbyes, give out my email and respond to the 'When are you coming back' types of questions.

'How was your mission' depends on who asks, but I will give a summary here:

Is the mission the 'best two years of my life', I certainly hope not. There were lots of lows, but also some awesome high points. I learned a lot of things, especially patience with the the people. But what mattered in the end was...did I make a difference?  I am glad that I came on my mission, glad that I crawled through my first several transfers (and thankful for a good trainer who helped pull me when I didn't want to crawl). It was hard. I disliked or even hated a lot of things, but in this case 'The end justifies the means'. Hopefully after 2 years I helped a few people along the way to have better lives, escape the standard cycle of life here.

I know that there is a lot of hardship and suffering here in Mozambique,  I have seen it a lot. But I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches people how to get out of that cycle IF they are willing to full heartedly follow it. It is never easy and I don't think ever meant to be easy, but its worth it. People in the church may say or do things wrong, offend others or just be 'unchristlike' BUT the Gospel is still true because the Gospel is not made up of imperfect things.

There is a light at the end for all. Lights along the way. I look forward a lot to this 'upcoming light' of getting home next week. I love you all!

With love and many thanks for your support,

Elder Howell

 Armando's Baptism 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Here is my last photo I will send. Another Elder will upload my other photos later because the internet keeps crashing so I can't update the Google Drive.

Armandos baptism! Best investigator I have had in my mission. He is amazing.

I am running off to the train that leaves soon. 12 hour train ride to start my journey home. 12 hour train, plane from Beira to Maputo (A few days to visit recent converts) then a plane to Johannesburg, plane to Atlanta, then a plane home to my loved ones :)

See you soon!

Elder Howell

Monday, May 21, 2018

1 More of These Left

The second to last weekly email. Nice.

This week was, interesting. We started 2 more activities at the chapel during the week: English Class and a Choir. English Class had a nice starting frequency of about 20 or more people, everyone wants to learn English. The choir had a good turnout too.

In other news something happened to the electrical system of our chapel (we will try to not blame anyone, like the person who started messing with wires then it all broke *hint, it wasn't the missionaries) but thankfully we turned off the fluctuating power before more than the printer and a bunch of cables melted/caught fire.... So, Sunday without energy is fun but we survived.

I was asked to talk given it was my last Sunday in Marromeu..... Crazy. That was a unique, first time in Portuguese experience to give a talk, especially with no power in the chapel. But, we make things work the best we can here.

In news of our area: We have been mainly working on reactivation here. With so many in-actives what the branch needs is people back at church more than new people, which is a two steps forwards, one slide back game a lot of the time but we are trying. We do however have an amazing investigator--Armando. He is awesome, going to church each week, coming to all the activities and even going to seminary everyday. He is excited for his baptism this Saturday and hopefully that baptism will be the little push that his brothers wife needs too.

Well, I am off for the day to try and find something fun to do in Marromeu. The sugar factory was a mess of paperwork to try and get a visit because we are foreigners... Okay then.

Have a wonderful week!

Elder Howell

Monday, May 14, 2018

Another week has passed by.......... Thankfully ​this week was Skype which means I don't have to write an actual email this week! Yay. That is good because I slightly lit myself on fire this week and it hurts to type :)

This week we just mainly were teaching lots of inactives in the branch which is always an interesting time. But we had some success in getting a few inactives back to church on Sunday and some investigators to church too, so that is a win in our book.

We had Mother's Day Skype which was awesome to see the fam all together. Its weird to say "See you in a few weeks" but that time is coming! For now its just work until the end, pray for no war to break out :)

Have a great week!

Elder Howell​

We have to burn all of our garbage.

I got a little close this time....

I scorched my arm hairs and some of my head hair. 

Pet monkey.

My drinking water...it's filtered :)

Monday, May 7, 2018

The Train Week

This last week we mostly spent in Beira, Mozambique. Its the closest big city to Marromeu and there are 2 stakes there. We had zone conference and then spent the rest of the week hunting for all the things we couldn't find in Marromeu:

1. Webcam, Mothers Day Skype is coming soon
2. Shower Curtain, because who needs those in Marromeu
3. Mattresses, because they dont sell them in Marromeu
4. Food that isnt insanely overpriced.

That list took us way longer to find than it should have but in the end we found everything.

The train tickets however caused us a lot of grief... Do to some, shall we say, cultural norms we werent able to buy train tickets on the Wednesday train and almost missed the Friday train but made it on. The train ride was better with 4 of us and for the most part the trip was smooth, that is until the trains tire popped. We had a 4 hour delay due to this. Turns out all that loud smashing grinding noise that woke me up was the train falling off the track then them trying to force it back on for hours.

Anyway, we made it and are in full swing of things here. Its great having an extra dupla of Elders here to help (Elder Bentley Cox and Elder Kolditz). It makes things here fun.

Well, see you all soon and I thank you in advance for all the invites to eat American food with you here in a few weeks, I accept them all :)

Elder Howell

Monday, April 30, 2018

Week of..... Messes

This email will be short for 2 reasons:

1. I am typing this in an 'internet cafe' in the back of a gas station and don't want to stay here long.
2. Skype is in less than 2 weeks and I need to save content for that.

'What did you do this week?' 'How are your investigators?' 'Do you have fruits in America?'

The first two questions are what I mostly get in my emails, the third is a genuine question people here ask Americans....

The week was a bit of a mess, but we survived. We spent a lot of time organizing the branch's membership records (baptisms, priesthood, deaths, tithing etc), but we also had 3 activities this week. We did 2 movie nights and a family night with the 'ama sue proximo' game..... Oh man that game, someone loses every round and they have to dance in the circle. I lost twice, like a boss. Thankfully Hitch taught me how to dance. The members had a blast.

The last 3 days of the week we spent getting materails for making soccer goals and roofing supplies... We tried paying a crew to put in the ceiling in the other room.... They did not know what they were doing (fact) and we had to take it all down. Elder Da Rosa kindly asked them to leave and never come back, look at me 'AQUI BRASIL MANO' I took that as 'LETS DO IT'..... 3 days later we had cut all the wood (without a saw.... kitchen knife and hammer.....), placed the supports, cut/put up the main wood then painted it. THANKS DAD for teaching me how to be a manly man, that would have been super embracing to not know how to nail stuff or paint.

Last thing, before heading to zone conference I cut Elder Da Rosa's hair (its not worth getting AIDS from a road-side shack), then he started cutting my hair. Key word, started. He cut the sides, we went to find scissors to cut the top... No luck, we started talking to some members by the house and then after 10 minutes of small talk "Aren't you going to miss your train?!" NO.... It leaves in over and hour.... "No, here it leaves at 17:00, not 18:30"............. Me with a nice bowl cut then went running to the train station. We stepped onto the train and it left. Nice. We made it..... With half cut hair, but we made it. *I think there is a photo of said 'hair cut', if you find it, burn it.

Love you all,

Elder Howell


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.....