Monday, December 11, 2017

Weekly Email---As Required

Hello Everyone,

This week was a bit different than most because we were living in another dupla's house and on Monday we picked up an Elder who was headed home. He stayed with us in a strange version of a tripla for the week. We kind of mixed around between Elder Skraba, that Elder and Elders Lemmon and Godfrey (the other dupla we were living with). For a few hours I would go off with Elder Lemmon to the bank, money changing or making purchases then I would pick everyone up for lunch or would grab another Elder to do other tasks. Elder Godfrey is healing up well but he is supposed to avoid walking or sitting for too long.

A few key things from the week:

1. Flavia and the twins actually got baptized this week.... Finally. We had good member support and everything... Both twins required doing the actual baptism twice because they kind of freaked out as soon as they started going into the cold water.... One literally ran away, the girl I baptized just kind of angrily glared at me in the font looking like she was going to slap me for needing to get dunked again in cold water (though it was her fault for flailing her legs out of the water...) In the end it all worked out, everyone got baptized and confirmed on Sunday.  They are doing well an the twins aren't too upset at this point.

2. Elder Skraba totally organized my desk during one of my "You come with me *grabs closest Elder and runs off to do something" moments... So that was nice. Though my 'organized chaos" is now just organized, I will relearn it.

3. Ummmmmmm *flips through photos* Yup, nothing else super big.... Um, we dropped of that Elder yesterday... Matilde is back today, finally not sick.

Alrighty. Have great weeks you peoples.

Elder Howell

Monday, December 4, 2017

6 Months to Go

The timer has started. There are just 6 months until I am the one boarding the plane, not the one dropping everyone off. That is insane. The last however many weeks and months have felt like eternities, days or even just brief moments at times. I honestly can’t explain it. But I am excited for whatever time I have left. 

Due to some unforeseen things happening I just got home, very much late (but doing what I was asked to) So, this email will be very quick. 

The baptism of Flavia and her twins didn’t work out. There was a train wreck of 23+ people getting sick at a wedding (including the bishop), a canceled primary program practice and no water at the chapel.... That left us with no water to baptize in, no one to conduct (that we wanted to conduct) and no members there to support.... We pushed it back a week. 

Elder Gumbo is still far far way (plane ride then 9 hour train ride) in Marromeu —the dream land for missionaries, but I am white so I can’t go— but we were with two other elders this week because one really really messed up his toes. He got ingrown toe nails, the hospital botched the surgery and he can’t walk for 2-3 weeks.   The toes are infected really bad and gross.  #Africa  But he is healing up well but needs a lot of help. 

We did get an awesome new family this week though! Fe and Ana, and their 8 month old. Ana is a member since 2012 and her husband just started coming to church. They are super smart and after just 2 visits I love them to death and I am super impressed not only by how smart they both are but how awesome of parents they are and how well they follow through on commitments. Awesome investigators #Referrals 


Elder Howell​

This is Elder Skraba and I emptying the baptismal font.

This adorable baby is the kid of my favorite family.   

Monday, November 27, 2017

This Week Was.... Destroyed

So, the biggest (in terms of literal size) thing this week was the 15 months of financial documents I had to destroy.... Boxes and boxes and boxes of papers, receipts and so forth... It was a pain. My awesome 12 papers per go shredder with a tiny wastebasket wasn't handling it well... So we got past the safety thingies (exactly what a mother wants to hear) and put it on a large trash can, got a small AC unit blowing on it and away I went... For 3 days..... Suffice it to say I got a lot of Mormon Messages, Conference talks and Face to Face videos watched. After 3 days, 3 burned out shredders and 20 large black trash bags I finished the task... Thankfully that is over, sorry to Matilde for the massive mess it made.... Oops.

Other than that we had 2 big things this week: Leadership Counsel (where all the Zone Leaders in the mission come together, and the office elders to talk over mission stuff, study and get training).... Not sure why the secretaries go as its mostly aimed to help each Zone, but Sister Senna cooked so it was worth going. We also got to have everyone at our nice little house... That only has 2 AC units and 1 small bathroom with a 4 gallon water heater.... It was, majestic.

We then had another 'leadership counsel' but for all the Branch Presidents in the mission (9 of them). It was, well, a flipping ton of driving. Way too much to and from the airport at all hours. But, once again, Sister Senna cooked and we got to enjoy the spoils of our 'labors'. Thankfully only 1 person missed their flight but we got them on a plane an hour later, everyone got back without any problems.

Some other random things from the week:
1. Flavia and her twin daughters will get baptized this week... For real this time.
2. We are switching houses---Finally! That means we will probably live in the office for a few days--as if we don't pretty much already live here
3. The time flies when you get little sleep and have tons to do!

Until next week!
Elder Howell

PS: Included is a photo of "Elder Howell's Gelo"... Its my unofficial cup at President Senna's house (he is probably the only person in Mozambique with an ice maker).... Anyway, this week I kinda, well, borrowed it and got my name engraved on it.... Thus making it officially Elder Howell's cup.

PPS:  The guy in the photo is Celso, he was one of my first investigators baptized in T-3 (3rd transfer). He and his two friends friends got baptized and are super active. They are in the bishopric or doing ward missionary stuff. It is awesome to see. I missed getting a photo with the other two but they are all doing really good.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Another Week, but in Queliname

This week was a bit abnormal---which is always nice when getting into a routine that can get very boring at times. The week started out pretty normal a very relaxing P-Day followed by Tuesday when we dropped off the mission president at the airport (stupid early at like 4 am, why are flights here always at like 4 am???) to go to South Africa for a training. After a nice nap we got going with the day: visiting house owners to figure out issues with paperwork/rent, getting supplies to missionaries and of course lots of spreadsheets and numbers. The day was broken up a bit around 14:00 when it got really dark then started dumping rain. Not raining, that implies rain drops, it was just waves of water raining down. We were doing "House Hunters: Mozambique" as we looked for a new house and had just left it. We got soaked to the bone after 10 seconds running to the car. The streets flooded with more than a foot of water in some areas and little cars were dying from getting flooded. We were fine in our truck and I enjoyed driving around because the whole city was like one giant puddle to drive through!

On Thursday we headed out of Maputo. Do I love plane rides? Yes. We flew out to a city called Quelimane. There is a branch of members there. We just took out the missionaries from there temporarily (hopefully just a transfer or two) and we had to help with some housing issues there and Elder Gumbo (my Mozambican comp) was training the branch presidency on some church system stuff.
We landed early afternoon to be told it was 43 degrees C.... About 110 F... If I could have I would have stayed on the plane and flown back right then. It was nightmarishly hot the first day (and the house didn't have a really working AC unit). We baked. That city does have very cheap coconuts for sale so we stayed hydrated well! We spent an hour riding around on bikes (glad I don't normally have to do that, its annoying) and about 2 hours hunting for "Frango zambaziano"... This type of chicken that the province was known for... NO ONE sold it, sad :(

The next day we had a family night with members though! We thought it would be this little family... Nope! They brought 30+ people who the missionaries were teaching or who had been taught... It was incredible. Best family night I have ever been to. We sang, gave a spiritual thought and played games (Including that 'Black Magic' game that blows everyone's mind). It was great. The beans and rice after were not too bad either. To top it all off they have a pet monkey... Its a racist monkey that doesn't like white people, but it was still fun to try and hold.

All in all it was a great few days there. We got back just in time to sleep for a few hours on Saturday night before taking the mission president, who had gotten back a Saturday morning, back to the airport at 4 am (I swear all his flights are at 4 am....) to go to a city called Chimoio. Then it was off to Stake Conference where they tried showing a broadcast from the Area... It didn't really work, but I got to see a bunch of recent converts and members from T-3 and Mahotas that I really love! Awesome people!

That's it for my week! Thanks Mum for the package and the letters (The true MVP here)

---Elder Howell

PS: Oh, someone got a 107 lb package, they have a friend at FedEx or something.... Anyway, we got the package surprisingly quick, but the rats got to it first... and when we got it to the office we found that one was still enjoying the snacks within... The chaos in the photos shows the fun we had dealing with it.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Transfers, Zone Conferences and the Hospital

This week was just kind of constant chaos until Friday....

It started off with transfers on Monday. For most missionaries that means hoping to stay or leave an area... For us that means the airport every 20 minutes and lots of late late nights and early early mornings. I probably went to the airport 15 or more times this week. It was a lot of driving people around. Say hello to the Mozambique Maputo Mission Uber driver :)

Once the insanity of transfers calmed down we had 3 straight days of Zone Conferences for the Maputo (my zone), Matola and Nampula zones. This means that we were running around getting people, picking up ingredients for the lunches and doing my normal office/area work. Normally this is tiring but this week was worse because about Saturday or Sunday I started feeling sick... Not good right before transfers. By Tuesday I was kind of a zombie, Wednesday or so I gave in and went to the hospital. Oh, not for the cold, but because a worm was growing in my foot. Yeah, gross right? Even more gross when you wake up because you can feel him (Jeff) moving around.
Dont panic, he is already dead. One nice thing about creepy African sicknesses is that they also know how to kill them off pretty dang well. Now I am in pretty good health other than being tired, but thats just mission life.

Quick update on our area:

We are teaching a woman named Flavia and her twin daughters. She is dating a member and they are super cool, going through with all the invites and are actively coming to church. They accepted a baptismal date for the 24th.

Berta, Rita and Nira. They are 3 young women we are teaching who are friends with or live with the family we just baptized. They are also progressing well and have been coming to church for weeks or months. We are just slowly making sure they are totally ready. They had dates for last week but Rita's father passed away. They are re-marked for the 24th also now.

Pedro, our first baptism here in the office is doing great. He got the priesthood a week ago and passed the sacrament this week. He has a lot of friends at church and we are going to visit two of his friends who he brought to church last week!

Thanks for all the love, see you soon!

Elder Howell

 This is my parasite.  You can see where she entered in and then moved to the middle and had babies. .  
 My desk at the office. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

5 To Go

Today marks my 5 transfers left day. Get ready Mozambique, I have lots to do with you before I go!

Today is transfers which means my life is crazy. We have been at the airport late at night and back at 3 or 4 am the last 2 days. I am kind of sick *Thanks Africa* which isn't helping. I totally crashed >not the car thankfully> today on the floor.... 4 hours later I came back to life with no idea where I was. That kind of 'nap'. Hopefully I am better fast. We have people to pick up from the airport 'tonight' (12:25am) and then about 4 other runs to the airport tomorrow to do..... Thankfully we have a secret weapon..... Elder Gumbo!

We got a new person in the office!!!! Whoooooooaahhhh yah. Mind you, I love Elder Skraba. But 3 transfers is a long time (4.5 months) with just one person.... We will be together for probably 5 (7.5 months) So, this new guy is a nice change of pace. He is from Beira, Mozambique, 23 years old and awesome. He was the Stake Secretary in Beira so he knows the church systems already. Sadly he is only here for a few weeks because he will be serving in the Dominican Republic once his visa arrives. For now he will help us here in the office/area but also he will travel to each of the missions branches to map members housing (they do that to help organize boundaries and chapel purchases).

As far as the area this week it was a mess. We only got 1 real lesson. We had multiple lessons marked each day with members/their references but everyone flaked. It was bad. This week we have transfers and 3 zone conference to watch over or be part of so it'll be tricky.
*****Oh, with that we will also have 23 people living in our tiny house for 3-4 days.... With no water.... Pray for us*****

We have 2 really awesome referrals we are working with Flavia and her two daughters who really want to be baptized and a young man named Chul---A friend of Pedro who literally walked up at church and said "Hi, I am Chul. I have been coming a for a few weeks and want to be baptized like my friend Pedro, it's important to me".... and that folks is why this mission has a ton of success....

Thanks for the emails, photos, letters and packages! I love each and everything that comes from the States digital or physical!

Elder Howell

These are MY TREES from Mahotas. They are huge! You can eat the papayas off it now. When I arrived there the plants were about 2 inches tall. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Okay, it is kind of already super late for me (almost 21:00, time to be home) because today has been kind of crazy (4 hours of sleep then a... supply run to Nelspruit, South Africa) but we had a productive week to justify today's little fun! 

This week was the baptism of Antonio's family! That was definitely the highlight of the week for us. Things were going very well, everyone flew through the interviews... Then we realized that we were short, well clothes for every single one of them. After 2 hours of driving around everywhere in the city we finally rounded up enough clothes for everyone. 

The day came on Saturday and the baptism started awesomely........ Because we got a call saying the baptismal font was filled with dirt and nastiness..... After we ran a few errands we came back to find Elder Lemmon and Elder Godfrey had cleaned it all up and were trying to fill it up as fast as possible. This included the tap on, a garden house running through the window into the font and us doing a bucket chain of sorts from the kitchen sink. 

After about an hour and a half of panicking to fill the font, everyone from the two wards, investigators and missionaries all showed up we got things going along. The baptisms all went well given everything (Mozambican's really don't like cold.... getting dunked in cold water isn't too fun for them), thankfully most of them went smoothly. 

Oh, fun side note,  you can see in the photos that all of Antonio's kids are wearing just shirts.... We had to share the baptismal suits, the kids were small, we had extra shirts laying around.... It worked. This is Africa.

I hope everyone had a great week!  

Until next week!

Elder Howell


 Baptisms of Antonio and Esmeralda and some of their children.

 The FedEx mail room, imagine the regular post office ;)

 Snack stop on our supply run to Nelspurit, South Africa with President and Sister Senna.

 A little fun in Nelspruit, South Africa.  

Elder Skraba, Elder Howell, Sister Senna and President Senna.