Andy's Mission Scripture

Andy's Mission Scripture:

"I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy."

~Alma 29:9

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A New Letter AND Pictures!

February 11, 2011

Ola!  Oi todo mundos!

That means hello! hey everybody!  Geez, what a week.  It seems like I always don't know where to begin because my weeks are so jammed packed full of experiences and great spiritual moments.  I can't believe its been two weeks already.  It's weird because I have to be honest, the days are really long here, some longer than others and some that just fly by, but they are all so rewarding, even the days when I'm stuck in class most of the day.  It's so weird, in high school I could barely stand staying in a class for more than two hours but here I'll be in class for like four hours and then have a meal and then be back to class for like another four hours ready for more!  I have to admit that it does get really exhausting, but I know that the Spirit is fueling my desire and energy to stay focused and learn in class.  Did I mention how weird time is here?  I'm sorry if I'm being repetitive. 

Anyway I have to say that I'm so thankful and appreciative and love you guys so much for all the love and support.  I now know what it feels like to receive a letter as a missionary and it's so great to hear what's going on at home and to just hear from you guys.  I'm sure it's a hundred times better when you're out in the field farther away from home.

I heard the greatest quote a couple days ago about missionary work:  "Missionaries are people who leave their families for two years (or 18 months) so other people can be with their families forever."  That quote really slid into homebase for me because before I didn't fully realize how fortunate I am to have this knowledge about families can be together forever and about temple sealings when there are other people out there that could be just dying to know this and that they are loved for just who they are and are missing the whole perspective on what life is really about.  This quote fueled my drive to spread the blessings of the gospel even more.  I'm ashamed to say how much I've taken for granted.  Growing up in the church, I never realized how much and how important the gospel has impacted and been a part of my life.  Here at the MTC I've watched a lot of videos in class about people's lives (that have just broken my heart and made me realize how fortunate I am) on how the gospel totally changed their lives.  For example, this boy Trent, born into the slums of Detroit, his dad left his family when he was five years old.  Just left with his mama and the clothes on their back and a junky old car.  His mama couldn't find a job anywhere, so they were just driving around homeless for a while, stopping and settling into some towns when his mom could get a job for a while, but then got fired.  Finally one day his mom got a steady job somewhere and they moved into a surburban house.  During all this timeTrent never really went to school.  When he went to high school he dropped out.  One day some missionaries came knocking on their door.  At first Trent didn't care at all for the message they had and didn't believe them.  Then those missionaries said, "Hey Trent, you don't have to take our word for it, but go straight to the source of all knowledge to know if this is true, pray to God."  So one night he got down on his knees and he felt something he'd never felt before in his life.  Long story short he was baptized and finished high school and went on to college.  Got his life back together and going, along with his mama.  I've got so many more examples but only so much time.

Devotionals in the gym continue to be amazing.  Singing "Called to Serve" with 2,000 missionaries makes me feel like I'm part of a righteous holy army ready to take on the world, like a stripling warrior, it's so awesome.  Every talk is so motivational.  Got to hear from the president of the Seventy I believe and his wife.  His wife said in impactful and inspiring quote that I really liked, "Return with honor, but mostly serve with honor." I hope to not just return with honor, but to have honor throughout my entire mission.  After devotional that night I got to meet my district president who had been out of town the last couple weeks.  His name is Pres. Shippen and he is a remarkable man.  He told us two just mind blowing stories.  Hi father or grandpa me Martin Harris Jr. the sone of Martin Harris, yeah, the Martin Harris.  So Martin Harris Jr. told Pres. Shippen's father or grandpa what Martin Harris had said on his deathbed.  He said he was visited by an angel with the golden plates in his hands and he had to testify this to his son.  This brought things close to home.  When  he told this story the Spirit was so strong everyone was just speechless in our class for a couple minutes.  It was incredible how strong the Spirit was. The next story wasn't as close to home, but it's still amazing and it really helped ease my stress about the whole visa situation.  It's about a missionary named Elder Bare.  This missionary was going to serve in Bulgaria and he struggled for weeks trying to learn this language, so much so he went to Pres. Shippen and broke down and cried that he could not serve a mission in Bulgaria because he could not learn the language.  And this guy was described to be the size of a bear, go figure, and he almost made Pres. Shippen cry.  Pres. Shippen told him that he would learn the language if he continued to pray to the Lord.  After 6 long weeks the language just clicked.  he finally started getting the language and he became the most fluent missionary at the MTC in Bulgarian.  Then the day came when visas came.  His whole district, but him got their visas.  He broke down again to the D-Pres and didn't understand why this  happened.  He was re-assigned to serve in Arizona.  Things were going terrible in Arizona for the first couple weeks.  Elder Bare pleaded to understand why he was sent there.  Then one day Elder Bare knocked on a door of one house.  The door opened and a man was standing there.  They said "hello" but this man didn't respond and started to speak some other language, Bulgarian!  Elder Bare then converted this entire Bulgarian family who had just moved to America for business for a short time.  After they were baptized his visa came.  The Lord works in mysterious ways.

Well, my writing time is coming to an end.  I hope everything is going well for you guys.  I know if you continue to have faith and pray to the Lord and read the scriptures your life will be blessed.  I continue to pray every day for you guys and I'm still loving the MTC and the Spirit I feel here.  Still loving my Portuguese class and my teachers very much.  I pray that I will continue to have the drive and enthusiasm I feel right now.  Til next week!

Lots of love,
Elder Howell

We learn how to walk on walls in the MTC...Priesthood Power?

Hey there!  This is where I sleep, one of my favorite places in the MTC.  I was just chillin there on P-day, posing for my companlhero.  Oh and there's my awesome Brasil flag held up by lots and lots of tape!  Best purchase made so far from the MTC bookstore.

My companlhero, Elder Estados (States) and I posing in our classroom ready to learn!

My amazing District in front of the Provo Temple:
Left to Right:  Sisters:  Taylor (Sao Paolo East), Jessee, Bailey (Santa Maria) and Myers.
Elders:  Welch (Joao Pessoa), Gariety (Sao Paulo West), Galvez (Joao Pessoa), States (Joao Pessoa), Clawson (Joao Pessoa), Collette (Sao Paulo West) and Hartson (Sao Paulo West). 
I love them very much, they have amazing testimonies!

A postcard of my favorite temple  above my desk, plus my fingers and name tag!

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