Monday, August 14, 2017

Super Fast Weekly Email

Okay, it was transfers here in Mozambique. Elder Sharpe's parents came to pick him up on Saturday morning.... That was interesting. Its strange to see an Elder with his parents. Kinda hard to see for everyone who has to wait a year to see theirs. With the pick up,  now my comp is Elder Skraba (19 from Curitiba Brazil) who was in a tripla with Elder Sharpe and I last transfer... We didn't get anyone else in the office so now we are just trying to run the show here.... It will be interesting. He is from my group so we go home at the same time. He speaks pretty much perfect English thanks to watching movies before his mission. Hopefully a native speaking companion helps with my accent and vocabulary in Portuguese. I will pretty much just stay doing finances and he will do the other side of things.

With the insane preparations for transfers and moving everyone around we didn't get much teaching done during the week. We did however have lots of people at church thanks to us inheriting the Sisters old area (they were transferred to Beira). We have a few people who are progressing and hopefully keep doing so. We have plans to get lots done this transfer in our area and in the office.

I have lots of places to visit to inspect houses in the next few weeks so things will be pretty hectic, but it should be exciting!

Love all of you!

Elder Howell

Monday, August 7, 2017

Well......................... This week was kinda a giant blur just like the last few weeks. The days really blur together and its hard to remember what stuff happened which week. But being busy is a good thing really.

Highlights from this week:

1. We had a really awesome member direct us through and into his neighborhood to his cute little house. He and his wife have 2 little kids that are SO cute. Honestly just an awesome new little family. Anyway, they had two of their nephews (or something like that, the family situation was crazy) there for us to teach. We got to know them and taught them the first lesson. The younger one did really well and understood things that we taught surprisingly well for a 14 year old. Hopefully we will be able to go back and teach them again this week.

2. We did a Brazilian style BBQ this week with the Elders out in T-3 (my first area). They have a patio like thingy on the top of their garage with a super pretty view of the area. The food was pretty dang good given it was a bunch of us messing around trying to cook like 5kg of beef on sticks over coals. It was a blast.

3. We had 3 sacrament meets on Sunday which was interesting. Normally we go to the Sommerschield Ward (the area we work/live in). This week there was a new white family in the ward though! The father is working on the new US Embassy getting built here so the family will be here for like 2 years. They have 5 kids from 5-16. Then we helped with the Polana Wards sacrament meeting. Lastly we had our awesome little English Group meeting but another new white person showed up. He too just got here a few weeks back. He does security and such. He is super cool. He invited us over for a random lunch the same day and it was super fun to hear all of his crazy adventures.

Well, theres the highlights from the week. I hope everyone is healthy and happy back at home!

---Elder Howell

Monday, July 31, 2017

Well, this week was pretty average...... Most of the days we kinda just did our normal work trying to keep the hundred or so people with money, houses and phones.... When those hundred or so people are 19-25 year olds it tends to kinda be hectic. I can't even imagine parenting---

Some interesting things from the week:

We had a kinda surprise audit from the South Africa Area.... Suffice it to say everything they wanted from the time since Elder Sharpe has been here was organized neatly and we got it to them fast... 'Pre-Elder Sharpe' (almost a year ago) stuff doesn't exist apparently so that was SUPER awkward. Thankfully we weren't excommunicated for the lack of stuff and after a little while it all worked out just fine... Thankfully it was a pretty quick audit and it was over with only a few things for us to really need to change (pretty much nothing on our side of things).

Other than that we had a leadership meeting this week which was interesting, but nothing super exciting worth explaining. Mainly work hard, baptize people and please dont break mission houses or rules! We did have Taka Famba for lunch.... mmmmm its the closest thing to an American burger I have had in like a year (well.... besides McDonalds..... anyway!)

We also helped set up for the temple caravan this week. By that I mean we stacked like 25 mattresses in, on and around the truck and drove them back and forth between a chapel and an apartment for the people going to South Africa to use on the way to the temple. We got.... creative.... moving all those mattresses between floors and buildings.

Sadly lessons didnt workout this week but we have some cool stuff marked with members this week to meet with some awesome people. Hopefully some of them really get progressing along so that we have some fun teaching stories to share. I hope everyone has a great week!

Elder Howell

PS: I loved getting all the fun photos and emails this week! Love you all

Monday, July 24, 2017

This week was pretty boring..... Nothing really exciting happened this week... but we got lots of stuff done at the office. The new mission president---President Senna--- and the AP's have been traveling a ton these last few weeks to lots of different provinces to visit Independent Branches out there. That leaves us with lots of time to just do our jobs here without lots of phone calls asking for us to run around and do stuff. Right now I am just working on figuring out how to do all of this financial stuff so that here in 3 weeks when Elder Sharpe goes home I don't lose a ton of money and get excommunicated *nervous laughter*

Aside from all the boring spreadsheets, stacks of cash, number crunching and email sifting we got into our area this week. It was super nice to get out and try finding/teaching new people. President Senna is.... well..... very 'focused' on baptisms, so to make sure things stay nice and smoothly going here we are really trying to find people to teach. We found two cool little families in one night and will hopefully get back to them again this coming week to teach them a little more.

I think a week or two ago I mentioned that we went to the hospital to give a blessing. That same woman brought her son and two friends to church this week! That was cool to see, I think they had a good time, we will just wait and see what comes of it now.

That's pretty much it for the week.

Elder Howell

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Office Season 1 Part 2

Well, this week we kinda just did a ton of shopping and paper work... Its like I was a secretary or something-weird. We had lots of things to purchase for other missionaries houses, repairs and moving people around. I also got to see Elder Sharpe go full appraiser mode as we inspected then rented a house... Its kinda terrifying to think in a just a few weeks I will have to act all 'Adult like' and 'professional' to line up contracts and stuff..... Well, we all have to pretend to grow up at some point right??

On the more missionary sounding side of things we had the chance to visit a sick woman this week to give her a blessing. It is super interesting to see how open and accepting/wanting the people here are for anything religious. It is awesome to see people being willing to ask God for help when they are struggling.
On that same kinda of note we had "English Group" this week again. Its pretty much a group of 12 or so Asians who all do sacrament meeting in English because its the only common language they speak and Portuguese is harder for them. Its super cool to see them all show up early every week and set things up. It really shows how much it means to each and every one of them as their small group does everything like a full ward would from sacrament to talks. It also gives us chances to help with those things (though I hope I can slip by without having to give a talk for as long as possible).

On another fun note we drove to South Africa this week....... 'Why?' you might wonder. Answer: McDonalds.... I mean smoke detectors.... Mozambique doesn't sell them, we need them... So I talked our way into being the ones to go there. Best afternoon ever. It was crazy to see South Africa which felt strangely like Logan or Provo... Once we bought a massive amount of smoke detectors we got lunch. We were lovin' it....

Well, until next week!

Elder Howell

Driving to South Africa with Bishop Tualufo, Elder Sharpe, Elder Skraba and myself.

Elder Skraba and Elder Howell

Driving to South Africa, about 5 hours each way.

We were lovin' it.... 

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Office, 'Season 1---Episodes 1-7'

Well, much like the subject says this was my first real full week in the office. It has been pretty much as organized as the office in the TV show The Office. Anyway, its been kinda a blast here and kinda a massive train wreck. But much like a train wreck there has been tons to do!

This week we had 3 zone conferences for the zones of Maputo, Matola and Nampula.... For which I had to give a training for each. Somehow I ended up giving a training in each conference with my new mission president.... We weren't able to plan or coordinate or study together before hand... Hence the description of 'train wreck'. Thankfully by the third we had a kinda rhythm down and things went smoothly. The best part of the conferences was the food at the first, a TON of steaks, sausages and chicken which Elder Sharpe grilled (with me trying to help). Overall it was pretty dang fun and once the conferences were over it was really nice.  After that we went to the hospital with a member to give a blessing to a child of a nonmember friend of his. It went well. The child could not walk and did not talk.  After that we drove to Mozal to have a meeting with a landlord. We had to get some information and talk about some problems. Then we went back to the office to help out with more transportation. We then went back to the mission office to get some more work done. We have been very busy and backed up lately because of transfers and zone conferences. We are averaging about 5 hours of sleep a night. We had a meeting with President Senna. It was about 2.5 hours long and we came out with a huge to-do list.

The main thing from the week which was a bit crazy was our midnight attempt to drive to a city called Xai Xai.   We got a very early call at about 00:05 on Sunday morning from an Elder in Maxixe telling us that they were stranded at the Xai-Xai bridge. Xai-Xai- is a city about 4 hours away from Maputo if you are driving a decent speed. We did not know where the bridge was so we asked them and they told us it was about 1.5 hours away from Maputo. So we packed up and left really quick to go and get them. About 3.5 hours later we still had not gotten to the bridge. We had to turn around to get back to Maputo at about 03:30 so we could take the A.P.'s and the new elders to the airport. We had to be back at 6:30 at the latest. We got back at 6:00. On the way there we were pulled over 5 times at random checkpoints. We had to pay some "small fines" because one of the officers  (I use that term lightly with them) wanted to take Elder Sharpe's license away.  I had to drive back because Elder Sharpe was falling asleep... I have only driven here on a straight road... twice for a few minutes. I had to use Elder Sharpe's license (because I forgot mine, all white people look the same its fine). We did give a Book of Mormon to an officer. It was an adventurous morning. Then after we took those guys to the airport, we went to church. But right before the sacrament we got a call from President Senna telling us he needed something urgently. So we went and did that. Then we went back to church in time for the sacrament. Then we went back the office to grab some more stuff and take it to President Senna's house. Then they gave us lunch.  It was the first thing we had eaten since lunch on Saturday.

I also was asked to mention the fact that I kinda lost like 400,000 Meticais... That was a rough first day at the office really doing stuff.... Thankfully Elder Sharpe caught the mistake. Nothing like loosing tons of money to really help you remember how to do things right the next time. After that things went smoother, we cashed 650,000 Meticais worth of we took lots of photos like we were rich then carefully put it all away... Within the week it was all gone though... It looks and spends like Monopoly money.

That's the quick highlights from the week. Hope everyone is good at home, Thanks for the email and letters!

Elder Howell

Our 'Gangster pics' that we enjoy taking while counting our "Petty cash" from the bank.

650,000 Met.... Like 10,000 USD worth. Quite nice.

This is a nice stack of said "Petty Cash" on our way (enjoying the journey along the beach) to buy printer ink. It looks, feels and spends like Monopoly money.

This is a nice little photo from us grilling a ton of steaks, sausages and chicken from this crazy expensive apartment balcony (mission President's home) for zone conferences.

 30 steaks, 50 chicken heart kabobs, about 100 pieces of chicken, and about 40 sausages. It was super good. 

This is my comp Elder Sharpe marrying Sister Espadas.... Just kidding, for now he will just carry an empty dress to someones house for them to use. In the future though.....

Elder Nielsen helping us pull a car out of the sand (not ours this time).

Random message left on my blanket by another missionary.

Monday, July 3, 2017

New Transfer, Area and Companion

Today was the official day for transfers but I have been in my new area for the last several days. I will be serving in Maputo, the main city of Mozambique. Technically my area is ´Sommerschield´ area, but most of my work will be done in the finances of the mission office. This is going to be fun. I get to help with transfers, housing and moving stuff around which is always fun. Lots of dealing with missionaries leaving which is a bit tricky and kinda sad but its overall totally good. We do all the money stuff for the mission from monthly allotments to missionaries to dealing with house owners, cars, repairs and just anything with money.

Today is transfers so my new companion Elder Sharpe (From Mesa, Arizona, 20) and I spent the day working on moving people all around to get ready for transfers. We spent lots of time getting everyone to the airport (18 missionaries going home) and then we were off again. This will be a strange transfer. It will also be a very very fast transfer given that we are always running/driving around like maniacs.... WE GET TO DRIVE....Well I haven't started yet because they drive like blind crazy people who lost their brakes but I will get used to it.

On the topic of driving we were driving a chapa (we also have a chapa) full of people from Mahotas to the beach on Costa de Sol to do a beach baptism. It was super beautiful and awesome looking! After dropping everyone off we headed home and got stuck in some deep sand.... After 5 minutes we fought our way out of it with some solid planks and pushing.... But 100 seconds later we were trying to get onto the main road but got run off said road.... Right into a massive rock... Pretty much we high centered the chapa on a massive rock... We were totally fine. 2 hours, 6 guys, 2 4-wheel drive vehicles, 6 broken cables later we got it unstuck! Yay!

Now we are just panicking to get lots of stuff ready for the upcoming flights of missionaries switching around and for the new guys who are coming here. Hopefully all goes well this transfer and it goes by super fast like the last. I am working on a training to give to at least 3 zones of missionaries (Maputo, Matola zones in Mozambique and I will help with the mission transition in Swaziland--yesssssss). 

Thanks for all the love!

Elder Howell

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

This week we had quite a bit of fun because of some cool activities and such. Sadly this is my last week with Elder Francis (on the mission, we have already planned a ´Murica bro-cation´ filled with guns and food and motorcycles for when we are both back). Thankfully this will be an awesome last week with him.

Anyway, yesterday was not a holiday but Sunday was Mozambique Independence Day.  That means everything, but the bars, shuts off Sunday and then Monday EVERYONE was hung over and the shops and such didn't open again so we had to move our P-Day to today.

This week we threw something kinda like a Stake dance. It was super funny. We played musical chairs... I lost, 3rd place, still upset (though I lost to 2 other Elders) but didn't rip a pocket off again. We also did the Limbo, well, I held the stick. It was super fun. Elder Francis made his beloved cake (simple, american recipe with a third or half the required sugar) and everyone had a blast.

Elder Francis and I didn't have any interviews but our District did. I had to do interviews which is always fun. While waiting for the second interview however we (Elders Lima, Wattyne, Bakker and I ) tried explaining Hangman to the people waiting. They were horrified that we do something as inhumane as hanging someone by their neck... So Elder Bakker erased the hanger set up and drew tires and gasoline... We played ´Pneus´ (tires).... Where we drew the person above tires then lit them on fire.... They loved it. I think we started a new trend here.

Well... That's it that I can tell you guys about. Oh, I was sick for half of yesterday, but I am alive still. I am making things short, again I know, because I am getting transferred in 4 days (bit early) and I have to present a training at the next zone conference....with the mission president. I have a lot of prep to do.

Até a proxima!

Elder Howell

 Conference with my new mission president, President Senna. 

 Beer tower... They like that 2M (the governments beer company beer)

 Kids with awesome bottle cap shooters

Pneus game

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Baptism of Rose

This week was the baptism of Rose! She is that crazy good investigator (now member) that I talked about last week. The family calls Elder Francis a dog because of his height.. and me Elder Elley because they can't say my name. Everything at the baptism ran very smoothly which was a nice change. Her brother Junior will probably get baptized in 2 weeks.

**Rose in all white, with her daughter, her mom and brothers

Other than that we had some fun this last week visiting with a member to make Badjias for a family night. We prepped and cooked all of it with their help and it was super good... We ended up making a bit of a mess, smelling smokey but in the end we made over 300 badjias. YUM. That was super awesome and I totally plan on making them when I get home for people to try.

With just 2 weeks left this transfer we are really pushing to get people going but with sometimes a 2+ hour journey to the chapel it can be really hard for people. There is a chance that we can start a ´Mozal group´ out there. That would mean tiny little branch like thing... Not sure if it will happen while I am here but it could help a lot.

Thanks for all the email and photos, I love each and everyone!

Elder Howell

Monday, June 12, 2017

A Little Bit Muddy

This week was pretty boring, so this will be short. I ended up switching around a lot between Mozal, Matola and Liberdade (cities in the the Matola Zone) to do interviews for baptisms or have them done for my investigators. That being said, we didnt have lots of great time in my area this week.

Rose is our best investigator currently. She is 22 (birthday last thursday, we made cake). She is awesome, super smart and actively progressing. Her baptism will probably be the 24th because her brother has been progressing well too, but needs a little more time to finish the required lessons. They were both at church and things will go super well with them soon!

We got a bit muddy this week, but I did end up escaping and power hosed down. Fun time.

Until next week (hopefully more exciting than this week)

Elder Howell

Monday, June 5, 2017

Random Service Project

This week was really pretty boring. We are having some difficulty getting people out to church in this area. Some people live 1.5 or 2 hours away from the chapel, that is if they can get a chapa. Some also don't have the 15 cents they need to pay for a chapa. It makes things very tricky. That and people just not being home has made our week challenging. Walking/chapas for 3 hours to find no one home can be super discouraging.

Thankfully we got to take some frustration out on a poor old tree with a hatchet and a machete. There is something super satisfying about random service projects... and satisfying about seeing a tree fall over! Especially when it narrowly misses your camera!

Thats pretty much it for the week. In two weeks we should have a good baptism with an awesome investigator. Her name is Rose. She loves our visits, reads everything we give her and even takes notes to read over later during lessons. Probably the smartest person I have taught thus far. Very high hopes for her!

Love all of you!

Elder Howell

Monday, May 29, 2017

Transfer 7 Week 1

Well, I am now in my new area... Back in the Matola Zone. I am actually doing internet at the first computer I ever used in Mozambique back in September. Very strange. It is nice to be in a good functioning ward again though.

My companion is Elder Francis, from Provo Utah. He is 21 and super awesome. This transfer should be a party for sure (with lots and lots of work). We live with Elder Johnson and Elder Lima (From Washington and Brazil). It is a very fun house, crapy house but fun people anyway. We locked ourselves out last night and Elder Francis and I climbed to the roof then figured out how to get a rod through a window to pop the door open.... I guess we should figure out how to not let it be that easy for a burglar.

This week I only got 3 real days in my new area because I was on divisions (exchanges?) with Elder Johnson then Elder Lima to do interviews. They had 4 baptisms on Saturday. It was strange to see a real baptisimal font but super nice.

My new area is called Mozal A. We live in Matola about a 15 minute walk from the chapel. That is nice but our area is pretty dang far way. Sometimes it takes well over an hour to get there but we have some fun people that we are teaching.

Thats pretty much it for this week. Some fun photos on the drive. Hopefully next week I have some fun stories of investigators to share!

Elder Howell