Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Week 21: Christmas

This last week was a bit interesting given that we didn't have all that much time in our area to work this week, but it was all good. The week started weird when last Monday at the store a lady walked up to me and asked where `the bull tongues usually are`... I told her I had no idea, I´d never bought bull tongues in my entire life... She apologized and explained that she thought I was from here so I should know. I found that hilarious because I´m white, very white, I´m clearly not from around here, people remind me of that daily!

Tuesday night we found another mouse in my room, still no idea why we get so many (closest room to the kitchen is my only guess). Anyway, Elders Feliciana and Bennion screamed and ran away as per usual but Elder Burchett and I calmly set things up, hurled it though a door to the executioners shovel. All of which took less than a minute, we are getting too good at it.

On Friday we had a Zone Meeting in Maputo which was nice to go to and see tons of other missionaries I´d never met before. It was also our Christmas party which meant pretty good food-win.

Saturday was the highlight of the week though. It was stupid freaking hot though. We are talking 110-115 degrees depending on the report. As people kept saying ´heat, just heat´. The baptisms still went smoothly in our little redneck white cage ´baptism font´ though. Guteres, Justino and Celso. Justino was the 1000th baptism that has happened since President and Sister Koch got to this mission. Justino is awesome, especially given that his father is a pastor for his own church.

Christmas Eve (which doesn't exist here but it did in our hearts) after the baptisms we ate lunch, then it started to storm. A nice huge sandstorm. Thankfully our taxi showed up quick and we were off to the office. Once it dropped us off and we got inside it started to pour rain, totally flooded the streets with over a foot of water. Thankfully the mission office is a nice place, so we stayed dry. We also go to Skype home. Best 45 minutes of internet of my life, and probably the fastest 45 minutes of my mission by far---naps included. It was awesome to call home an see that everything was as it should be :)

Christmas was quite uneventful for the most part. I had little wrapped presents to open which was awesome though. Church was 1 hour with a killer 95 people. We then ate Christmas dinner which was literally beans and rice (later junk food from packages though). We went out for a few hours but had to return to the house at 18:00 for our safety given its the 3rd biggest drinking day of the year here. The amount of parties and drinking was insane, we could clearly hear all of it all night. But I still took the opportunity to try and minimize my ever increasing sleep debt. 

That's it for the long update of the week. I hope everyone had a great, and cold Christmas! Love all of you. Thanks for the love and support you send my way in any form.

Elder Howell

 Christmas Eve Baptism of Guteres, Justino and Celso.
Elder Bennion and Elder Howell.

Zone Conference at the Mission Home.  Can you find me?  

Christmas Goodies from the USA.  

7 people in 1 small taxi to save money? Of course!

Elder Jesus, what a man to have around  on Christmas.

Heading to Zone Conference....mmm  coconuts. 

Elder Howell figurine. 

Again, Skype was awesome!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Eve Skype!

Elder Howell was able to Skype us on the morning of Christmas Eve. It was the best Christmas present EVER!  There is a national holiday today in Mozambique, so we should receive an email on Tuesday this week.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Week 20: Tis the season to sweat

This update will be a short one as I get to skype my family this week and not all that much happened really.

On the 16th I got a nice little surprise of Elder Chipman (my Zone Leader, from Utah) and his comp came by with an attempt at cake. It was somewhere between cake and brownies? But what counted was the hour plus they took in the heat to bring them to me. Really cool of them. At 11 we tried going to lunch, but a storm rolled in and we couldnt leave for an hour. Finally we got to a pastalaria to eat. So, I went with feijuada again, bad idea. The meat was once again hairy, but at that point I was just hungry so I pushed it aside and ate the rest (you could say missions change people a lot I guess). It was nice overall though. The total for all 5 of us was 1155 Met (75 Met to a dollar). After that it was a normal day, but it ended up with me face planting it into a lot of mud while trying to jump over a stream (which should have been a road). Overall interesting, unique, special, different day.

We didn´t have any really cool stories in my area this week. We did finish 3 baptismimal interviews. Justino, Guteres and Celso will all be baptized this week. One nice update is that Sibastiáo decided he wants to be baptized (we think its watching his friend Celso finally taking the step made him really think about it). It will be exciting to see if we can help him get ready for January.

Random Fact of the Week:
1. Elder Feliciana is really scared of: Frogs, toads, cockroaches and mice.... We walk around all of those all the time. There is some serious entertainment to be found in watching him scream and jump off the path when a frog is spotted.

Merry Christmas to everyone, I wish you all the best!

Elder Howell

Monday, December 12, 2016

Week 19: 106 degrees and lots of rain

Shout out to Caitlin and her Birthday on the 10th!

The big thing of my week is Elder Feliciana, my new companion. We thought we knew what was going to happen at transfers, but due to some contention in the house over the broken shower stuff seems to have been changed. Anyway, the shower is still so freaking cold. Elder Feliciana is from Brazil. He is `The coolest Brazilian in the mission´ as everyone told me. He deserves the title. He is 19 and the happiest person I have met on the mission. He is the Energizer Bunny of happiness, well when he isn't taking a nap at lunch. He was in Swaziland for 6.5 months so his English is actually really pretty good. We still need to carry dictionaries around to talk about random stuff but it´s fun. We bonded very quickly when we got smashed into he back row of a chappa with 2 very, well "fluffy" ladies holding tons of cabbage. He fell asleep for the entire ride on my shoulder. Nothing shows more trust than falling asleep on a chappa with someone.

The other big moment this week was getting 3 packages at transfers. Stuff for Christmas from my awesome Mother and from Hannah´s mom. It´s always a thrill to get mail. I am trying to be very patient and not open the wrapped stuff, so far I am still succeeding. I know one of them is gummy sharks, I can smell gummy sharks from a mile away, sorry kilometer away. I've been sugaring up our investigators kids with all the sweets I got. Candy bracelets seem to be a bit too complex of an idea here though... The kids who just want to come and chat with me get candy. Those that yell mulungu or ´me da´ (give me) get nothing. I am also way too entertained by ´Balloonies´ the weird gel balloon things that you can play with after blowing.

Random Facts Time:
1. It was 106 Degrees here on the 9th.... Then within an hour or two it was storming and dumping rain--Thanks Mum for the raincoat, just in time!
2. We got to watch a Christmas Devotional singing thing. So nice to hear good English songs, but man Utah is WHITE.
3.  I forgot to mention that we finally killed a mouse this week. Elder Feliciana is VERY scared of them and we found 2 in our room multiple times (no food even goes in the room -.-) Anyway, we finally all teamed up and went Lord of the Flies on that mouse. With war cries and shovel throwing, literally kicking and finally just smashing we got the mouse. Our neighbors probably think with all that noise that we opened a new church next door.

Family Update:
Mosias and Vitoria are this awesome family that will be officially opening the marriage process this week. It´ll take another 30 days until they can get married, but thats okay! Super cool family. David and Ana are slowly collecting documents but its really hard for them. Haven't gotten my ralador(grater) yet but hopefully this week!

Thanks for the emails, have a great week everyone!

Elder Howell

Helped dig a trench to help fight off mosquitoes, which cause malaria.

The Christmas Devotional

Everyone happily taking photos of the dead mouse.

This peanut snack is good.

This is literally just sugar and coconut. I thought ´mmmm I like toasted coconut´. It was sooooooo bad. Lol
Is it candy, or a bracelet?  Actually....its a candy bracelet!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Week 18: Transfer Day

Since there wasn't a baptism this week I can just enjoy the little random things about this country, like the fact that we went to a less active members house for a lesson (5th or so time since getting here) and we noticed for the first time that the neighbor literally had a monkey. A MONKEY. Suffice it to say I was thrilled out of my mind. No idea how we never noticed it before, but what matters is that we did this time. We tried to feed it, but its a racist monkey that wouldn't take food from white guys... I will befriend him if its the last thing I do in T-3. We wanted to know how much they cost, we got laughed at. `You just go into the jungle and grab one`... Next P-Day maybe (totally joking don't call PETA on me)!

We had no power all night for the first time since being here. Never have I been so hot, and I enjoy steam rooms :) Not to mention that the airflow from the fans usually keeps the bugs down. It was a rough night. The next day we didn't have water, which made everything even better. That continued for 3 days.... Once we got water, I got one hot shower, before someone (who will not be named, but isn't an American) broke the shower head.... You could say it was a week about patience and not freaking out :)

Today is transfers, again (crazy to think I've been out over 4 months). That means that this email will be shorter than usual. I've been told I´m staying in T-3, but moving areas... again... I´m.... Ummmm accepting of it. I will get a new companion too, which means I have to switch rooms. My new companion is a native Brazilian and apparently really amazing--I will make my own opinion though :) Thankfully I get to stay here to see how everything works out. We have 10-12 baptism planned for Christmas Eve now which would be really cool to see!

Random Facts of the Week!
1. Elder Brown is going to Beira, Elder Mayeya is leaving too.
2. The members have been drowning us in lychee and mangoes , yum.
3. Fanta/Coke 300ml drinks are now 17-18 Met #RIP15MetDrinks
4. English Class is going strong and ending well with a `spiritual fart` or as a native English speaker says `spiritual thought` :)
5. Hopefully the ralador is ready this week for purchasing!

Update on a family:
Less of a family update and more of a fun chain of events. The older man Morse I mentioned several weeks ago (who invited lots of people over to hear our message) invited a man named Denis. We have since sat with him a lot (he and his daughter are set for the 24 of December). He then showed us his sister and brother who are both actively coming to church. Very exciting to see what one, very unique, person can lead us to!

Off to find out who I will be around for the next 6+ weeks of my life!

Elder Howell

Selfie with the gang.

Sharing the candy love.

First monkey I've seen.

This is how long letters take to arrive.

Lychee fruit.

One of the Christmas presents was open, so I ate them... so good.

Massive mango.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Week 17: Baptism of Sidonnia

Well the major point of the week has to be the baptism of Sidónnia. She showed up on time... The other girl getting baptized showed up 30 minutes later and we started an hour late (Something very strange to get used to). It all went smoothly after that and I got a bagia sandwich so everyone was happy.

While on the topic of food this week:
Thanksgiving! Yayyyyyyy.... Oh wait, no one celebrates that here... So Elder Brown and I just went to a Pastalaria and got feijoada and chicken... It was like 300 Met for everything, but it was the worst food I have had yet. We both almost lost it when we realized what the `meat`was in the feijoada. So that wasn't fun at all. But Elder Burchett and I did return to a shack near some investigators that sells fresh made fries so that was good.

The high point of the week was probably getting 2 packages on Thursday though. I love getting mail! Some how I had 0 letters (no sure how wink wink everyone) but I did have lots of yummy snacks and little wrapped Christmas gifts that I´m doing my best to not open. Elders Brown and Burchett got packages too so we all just shared and binged a bit on good old American junk food for Thanksgiving.

We had our English Class this Saturday and it went quite well. We didn't have too many people show up due to weather, but we have very high hopes for attendance the next few weeks! Its very fun to have all of them say `Good morning Teacher` at the start. I also brought some Skittles to give to those who could answer random questions. Lots of people here like to `try` and talk to us in English. There is one fast test, simply ask `how many toes do you have on your left foot`. If they can answer that, they probably can speak decent English.

The giving of Skittles in the English class lead to everyone wanting them, so I made a trade. I `put away my childish things and became a man` this week by trading Skittles for a bag of killer mangoes with a kid in the ward... 1 Cor 13:11 Look at me Mom! I´m growing up so fast :D!

Random Facts of the week:
1. We haven't had water for 3 days now :) Some guys broke the pipe while setting up a tent for a drinking fest, I mean party.
2. Some people here are very poor, but a TV and huge speaker are a must in any tin roofed home. Our neighbors speaker literally shakes our house.
3. During the closing prayer of a lesson someones phone starts ringing. The investigator praying says `Please cast that devil out from among us` and the phone just stops ringing.... They thought that was a really crazy moment, Elder Burchett and I thought it was a really funny moment.
4. One positive name I get called is `Elder Wow` because Howell is super hard to say.
5.The church had no power for church or family night because they didn't buy credit, so after sacrament we just sat outside.

Family updates: Belito/Laura and family were at church as always, they´re still trying to get documents done as they can, but they´re pricey. We can't give them money, but we have been looking for a relador (coconut grater) and he´s a wood worker, so he is making a nice one for us that he will get paid well for. Works out really well for everyone! Hopes for meeting with David/Ana this week.

Thanks for all the love and support,

Elder Howell

The kids.

 Sidonnia's baptism

Elder Mayeya, Elder Brown, a girl, Sidonnia, Elder Burchett and Elder Howell.

More kids. 

Tons of these crazy flying attacking beetles.

These cool kids ask for photos everyday. I did give them candy :)

`Thanksgiving` meal... like 300 Met.... Almost threw up. The feijoada had hairy meat in it... We are 95% sure we got the little butt end of it.

This is just one of our daily meals Elder Mayeya cooked.

This ice cream is good... But the lactase doesn't work here #FoodRegret.

Fun praying mantis in front of an albino... I see like one of them a day... Didn't think of that before I got here, but there are lots of them.

Yes, yes that is a black magic witch hut. I don't think I was in her spells splash radius though.

English Class went well. We think 50 people next week.

Designated tag holder.

Thanks for all the love and support,

Elder Howell

Monday, November 21, 2016

Week 16: They call me "Mulatto"

This week we didn't have anything really special or awesome happen. That means once again whoever reads this just gets more of random facts about my life here and information about my new favorite family!

To begin, my photos make me look really tan... Maybe I am? Sometimes the kids call me `Mulato` which means something kinda like `light skinned black person` which is kind of a complement? But I can assure all of you the tan lines are horrible. My `tan` (burn really) is just under my elbow, neckline.... The rest of me is 200% white. Not light, but just white. Also my watch has given me a very solid tan line that I don't really like... Guess I will go to a tanning bed (can't be more risky than walking around in this sun all day) when I eventually go to the US.

Something that I think is really really cool here are the fireflies. I have never seen them before and they literally and metaphorically brighten my nights while walking between lessons. The locals however call them snails... Not sure why, snails don't fly.... Though there are some snails here larger than my fist, and I have a large fist. I´ll take a picture with the next one I find.

The next random thing is that I enjoy asking all our investigators how old I am. This week the high was 40. Not a joking guess, but a solid guess by a full grown man who is 39.... They literally wont believe me when I say 19. Good thing I have a drivers license! ---The average is late 20´s.

Something fun here is that a lot of the Africa Cliches are actually real! Especially some of the churches. We walk in a certain area with lots of churches, at night its filled with chanting, dancing, singing and people `manifesting` demons that are then cast out. Very fun late at night :D

As far as cooking this week we found out that just `going for it` and using baking powder instead of baking soda really doesn't work (though with enough chocolate it still tastes fine). Thankfully we found baking soda (super rare here) and were able to make cookies. My mom´s are still better, but it was a nice, close to, taste from home!

Went on a quick division with Elder Brown this week, but we will have a full day together for `Thanksgiving` Africa Edition that I´m sure will be fun to tell about next week.

Lastly an update on an investigator. Belito/Laura and their 3 kids. Amazing family. They can read (we teach a few that can't), and well (really hard to find sadly). They follow through with everything they promise they will and are always so happy. They are working on getting the last 2 documents to open the marriage process (takes 30 days, then you can get married). Their kids even take the 45 minute walk to church if the parents can't go. We don't want to really pick favorites, but they´d be it if we did ;)

Some questions that were asked:

Can you tell me more about the investigators you are teaching? We would love to pray for them by name. (if we can pronounce them)

---The most killer family we have are Belito and Laura. They have 3 kids that are awesome. They actually read (and can, which isn't always the case), they are working on marriage documents(which is pricey and a long time in the making) and they are excited for us to come. The kids even make the 45ish minute walk to church if the parents cant go -that is crazy. David/Ana I have talked about. They are in a rocky spot of their relationship, but I really hope they can pull it back together and that it all will work out. Lastly, Alberto/Eulalia. They have 3 kids from 19 to 16ish (Age guessing is soooo hard here, the oldest is 19 though). Anyway, Eulalia comes virtually every week and Alberto sometimes comes when he isn't working. The kids all attend the Universal Church (huge in Brazil). If any church is the great and abominable church that´s the whore of all the earth, its that church. They are really bad, and bad for the people. Everyone we get away from them I count as a success story even if they aren't baptized. I´m learning how to ´Bible bash´ from the best in the mission--Elder Burchett my comp. Universal and JW´s like to fight us, but we've never lost a ´fight`. That's discouraged in most missions, but here its pretty much required to get people to realize how wrong their church is. Virtually everyone will let us in because we´re `men of God` but they just want to hear about God and thats it. `Bible bashing` for a few minutes quickly shows them that we have information and beliefs and teaching that their church should have, but clearly doesn't.---Rant over :)

What are the best things about your companion?

---Elder Burchett and I get a long really well actually. He is good at cooking and is super well versed in Bible bashing as shown above. Plus he doesn't care about what others think of him, he is here to just do his part. We just have fun and chat a lot. Plus he speaks Portuguese better than virtually any Mozambican.

Will you continue to make coconut milk rice?

---I think so, but you have to grate the coconut with a relador, which we don't have. We have to borrow a members, so last time we taught a recent convert while grating. I hope to make it again though! We´ll probably just buy a relador because it´d be like 7 bucks.

I know they don't have Thanksgiving in Mozambique, but are you doing anything to celebrate it?

---We considered killing and cooking a wild turkey, but they live off of trash. Instead, Thanksgiving will be a crazy amount of KFC today.... Like 500 Met worth in celebration. Thursday my comp, and Elder Browns comp have a leadership meeting so we both plan on buying Feijoada and a full chicken... It´ll be like 10 US dollars spent for all of that, we feel justified!

 The kids love playing with us.

 Making homemade cookies.

 Chocolate cookies.

I like the roasted peanuts--5 Met a bag.

NIK NAKS, they´re like knock off brand, stale Cheetos. But they cost 4 Met so sometimes I get them to nibble on.

Feijoada--beans and rice that I love. Costs 100 Met a plate, so worth it!

The member who we walk with a lot (and who supplies the best mangoes) got a new kitten. Still don't like cats, but this one was very nice to us.

Lots of little tiny lizards, and big lizards. The little ones are just more photogenic. 

This stick stabbed all the way through my shoe and thankfully missed my foot :)

I thought it would be interesting to write down everything that I spent this week! So I did, and took a picture. I spent a ton this week, usually its like half this... I kinda just bought anything for the sake of the list. It´s interesting though.

***Side note: Chappa (Xapa actually spelled) rides cost 7 or 9 Met depending on distance, but we all pay together when we go in groups. `Who´s this for?!` Yells the cobrador (money collector on the chappa) `The three white guys! Who else would I pay for?!` I always yell back in response. #TheWholeChappaDiesLaughingEveryTime

I ruined my first shirt yesterday.  A member ripped my pocket off while playing musical chairs. Don't worry, don't worry, I still won and have kept my undefeated status in the Musical Chairs T-3 Ala (ward) sector.

Thanks for all the emails, have a great week!

Elder Howell