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