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

Monday, November 14, 2016

Week 15

This week hasn't had any huge or crazy things happening, so this weekly update is more of kinda funny random stuff from my week.

First, the coconut cleanse was a terrible terrible idea. The locals all said not to, they were right. Just eating coconut alone makes you sick. It doesn't sit well. It took not even a full day to realize they were totally right. We did make coconut rice though! It was really really good. A bit of a process to milk a coconut but so worth it. Also this week I was able to get may bagia sandwiches which I love. The bread costs 5.5 Met hot from the bakery, and I buy 2 Met bagias (usually 5 or 6), and then get a 500ml water at 15 Met. Super cheap lunch in terms of dollars. We also made lemon bars this week which was a nice taste of home, except we sprinkled just regular sugar instead of powdered sugar which just isn't quite the same.

I haven't gotten any mail in like 6 weeks which is a bit sad. I know there is stuff on the way (shout out to anyone who has sent stuff). The office checked this week and for all 100+ missionaries there were 2 letters :(  But I have hope and excitement for when stuff does finally make it!

This week I hit my 2 month mark in Mozambique, and as a nice `throwback` I get to do a division with Elder Brown this coming week. It will be like the MTC all over again-- But with lots of black people. I was able to go on a division with Elder Mayeya this week, he is an interesting character. We had some fun though, I think our investigators were a bit confused given his and my lack of good Portuguese.

Random Facts of the week:

1. Kids say I have cat eyes... I´ll take it as a complement because most of the kids like cats.
2. People here *hissssss* like snakes to get peoples attention... Its very interesting, and quite creepy at night. For anyone who plays Minecraft they do sound like Creepers.

Last of all, an update on an investigator. David and Ana are having some issues, so right now I´m playing relationship therapist in Portuguese... Here´s the issue though... marriage/marry and the word for hunting are virtually identical, only off by an accent... So that can make for some really incorrect sentences, hahahaha, ooops. It seems like things are on the mend though! Also, we have lots of excitement for Sidónia and her baptism on the 26th, and we have 8-10 people who should get baptized on the 17th of December.

Some questions that were sent:

What do you eat and how much does it cost?

I eat lots of rice and chicken. We have enough money, and the chicken at the grocery store is safe, but pricey at 200ish Met per pack of 4 breasts. I also eat lots of apples. In the area I eat biscotas, little cookie thingies like crackers (15 Met for 100g), coconuts (10-12 Met for big  ones), water (15 Met for 500ml, 35 Met for 1.5 L), drinks (12 for Frozy up to 50 for Dragon) and fruits (10 Met for 3 bananas). My favorite is bread (5.5 Met for a hot french loaf) and bagias (little fried something, not sure) which are 2 Met each, I get 5-6. Peanut butter is like 400 Met for 750g.

Are you still all taking turns cooking?

We plan to cook in companionship this next week, not as a house.

What do you cook when it is your turn?

I often do meaty spaghetti, or crock potted chicken sandwiches-BBQ or sweet and sour.

How is the coconut cleanse going?

 We stopped, you cant eat just the meat, it makes you sick. So we just are eatting healthy and made coconut rice! We milked a coconut!

What else do you have to spend money on and what does it cost?

Chappas (spelled more like xapa) to get around, we eat out once or twice a week. Hygiene stuff, internet to talk with you guys (80 Met for 2 hours), drinks, and other random stuff.

Is their currency equal to 76 to $1 us dollar? (This is what is looks like when we google it.)

Yah, I round to 80 in my head to make it easier though. We have a ton of money compared to the people though. Its the only way to get safe food. The chicken especially--main source of meat for us.

In my High Priest Group meeting today someone shared his missionary experience of attending a Chinese persons funeral. The family hired professional mourners. Have you seen a funeral there? What is it like?

Haven't seen any yet.  Lots of wedding/documents parties. Pretty much cliche Africa with lots of singing, drums, dancing and they all get totally and completely wasted.

Is there something we could do to help a family there for Christmas? If yes, what would be the best way to help?

Not that I can think of. We´re discouraged from doing that. Maybe little toys or treats I could give to some of my investigators kids, but definitely nothing big. That is often taken offensively. The kids like little ´docés´though.--Candy.

Thanks for all the support and emails!

Elder Howell

Lots of children play with old tires.

We play soccer with the little children.

This is the nice local trash eater.

Banana Tree

The best ripe mango EVER!

Members teaching us how to make coconut rice.

Grating the coconut meat.

 Yes, we milked a coconut.

Delicious Coconut Rice.

Some recent converts we meet enjoy having us take photos.

People here love getting their photo taken.

The AIDS-HIV Pamphlets they hand out at church.

My multi weekly bagia sandwich.

My uber sketchy shower....

Monday, November 7, 2016

Week 14: One Very Very Hot Week

It´s been one very very hot week here in `T-3 A/B. I´m always amazed
when I walk out the front door, through the first massive metal gate,
passed the guard and through the other padlocked/spiked gate to
realize how much I´m already sweating in that 8 foot walk. Thankfully
a few days this week were a bit overcast, well and today its raining-
yay wet feet! But it´s H-Day so, can't be too upset. Once we finish
internet at his little cafe we are taking a stupid amount of chappas
to get to a KFC, then going bowling. It´s a bit of a splurge day
because Elder Burchett and I aren´t buying any food from the store
this week. We are doing a `coconut cleanse`. Yes, we are planning on
surviving off of just coconuts and water for a whole week.... We´ll
see how we do :)

I was able to go on a `Division` this week with the Zone Leaders. This
means I got up early, hopped on a chappa with some extra clothes in my
bag and went to a different city for a day and a night. I got to walk
around Liberdade with Elder Martins for a day. It is a really nice
area compared to ours--in terms of houses/money. It was cool to see a
different house, Elders (including my trainers trainer, and my old
friend Elder Dutra), teaching style.

Family update: David and Ana. They are a couple in the new part of our
area. They are both 19 and have a little (almost 1 year old) baby.
They live in a tiny 13´ x 13´ concrete block house without
electricity. We get there usually around 19:00 when he gets home from
work and read by candle light with them. They are working on getting
all the documents together to get married. It is super expensive for
them (1000+ Met, he maybe makes 2,000 Met a month), but they are doing
their best to slowly collect each of the documents, hopefully I will
be here once they can get married!

Bonus: Sidónia´s baptism will be on the 26th hopefully with one or two
others from our area and 2+ from Elder Brown/Mayeya´s area.

Random facts of the week:

1. I am convinced Elder Burchett and I are protected from falling
mangos. Its mango season which means they just fall out of the tree.
We sit under said trees during lessons whenever possible to enjoy the
shade. SOOOO many mangos have hit around us and our chairs, but never
2. We rarely go into houses (1/3 maybe), most of the time we sit on
sketchy lawn chairs in the yard.
3. Everyone here loves trying to speak English. They pretty much only
know `Good morning teacher, How are you, What is your name, I am fine
how are you` though, so the conversation gets old fast. Elder Burchett
and I got permission this week to do a weekly English class though, so
we will be starting that in 2 weeks.

Send any questions my way:

Until next week!

President and Sister Koch giving us a ride in the  mission van.   

The mission van is WAY more comfortable than a chappa :)

Mission AP's, Elder Burchett and myself.