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, March 29, 2011

Last snail mail from the MTC...and pictures!

Marzo 25, 2011

E Ai Todo Mundo!!  (What's up everybody!)

How is everything going?  Everything here is going super!  This is probably the last time I will be writing from the laundry room of the MTC and I'm not going to miss it at all!  The laundry room of course, I'm definitely going to miss the MTC.  Looking back at my experience here I couldn't be more grateful for everything that I have learned and the Spirit I have felt.  From the firesides to the devotionals, I hope I apply the things I have learned into my heart and work it 100% in the field and be 100% obedient.  I can't tell you how excited I am to get out of here!  haha don't get me wrong, I have loved the MTC, but there is only so much time you can spend here before you start to forget that there is an outside world beyond the MTC.  I see why two months is the max more or less because there is only so much time before you are dying to apply and put to the test the things you have learned here and your desire to share this message can't be contained!

I can testify to you that our Heavenly Father does answer our prayers.  Prayer can be such a profoundly faith building experience that we can do everyday.  It is our direct line to our Heavenly Father and the way we can build a very strong relationship to Him.  Prayer means so much to me throughout my life.  It is probably the main reason I'm still active in this church.  I'm so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who is always there for me in times of trouble, not only there in times of trouble, but always and we should always pray to Him in thanks when life is going good.  This church was restored through the power of prayer.  Joseph Smith was at a very troubled time in his life and then he took his trouble to the Lord and look what happened.  Heavenly Father answers our prayers in many different ways, but He always answers them in what's best for us.  Do not take for granted the opportunity to pray, but always pray in the sincerest way, with all thine heart. 

For my last week at the MTC I struggled to understand where the Lord needed me the most.  I was going to be reassigned because my visa had not yet arrived.  I prayed a lot to be understanding and be happy and willing to serve wherever I was assigned to.  Turns out the people of Brasil need me there the most to be helped with the Lord's hands through me.  My visa is on its way!!  I should be in Brasil the next week!  I'm so excited to get out into the field!  Anyways, my prayers were answered truly in a way I didn't expect. 

I love you guys, thank you for the amazing package you made at Youth Conference!  Pray always and remember your testimonies and never be ashamed to stand up for what's right.  I'm going to be doing a lot of that soon...

BTW I hope you like the pics...

Elder Howell

Tanner and Andy together again!!

Andy and Elder Estados

Our District, minus one, Elder Harston
who left a long time ago.

One of the sister's in our District, Sister Myer's mom made us these awesome
cakes on a stick and they had the Brazil flag on them!  It was the most
delicious cake/pop I have ever eaten.

One of our teachers Irmao Cannon and the Elders.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Andy gets word about his visa and gets to call home!!

Some excerpts from his email from Friday the 25th:

I was so taken away in the spirit in the past couple days becuase of all the mixed feelings of my last week in the MTC and being re-assigned and thinking of the mission field. For the past couple days I have prayed a lot to know and accept the Lord's plan for me whole-heartly be it where ever i would be re-assigned to. I fasted the last couple days to for the people of Japan and for you guys and for the missionaries who need their visas but mostly to receive an answer on wherever  i would be needed most. Thursday evening just yesterday the time was closing for the Travel office and for me to know that I would be needed more in Brazil or in S. Dakota...right before my thoughts were concluded on S. Dakota, I was called to the Travel Office for news of my Visa! It was one long walk to the travel office i will tell you that and I still have not yet actually recieved my visa but i should in the next couple days I will let you know as soon as i know when Im leaving and please continue to pray for visas for the other missionaries.
It was so wonderful to hear your voice yesterday as well and what crazy timing that I was able to talk to you right when you were getting home. Im sorry it was a very short conversation but that was all the time i was givin. I will call you guys again when i get to the airport!
Im so excited that i cant really put it into words to describe how excited I am to get out to the field in Brazil but Ill will be sad to be closer to Brian and Jeanne than to you guys when im will be hard not recieving things as soon as i do now, but I know that when Im losing myself in the work, my worries will be swept away becuase i will be worrying too much for the people.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fun email from Friday the 18th

Hi Dana!
I never get sick of receiving letters from you, they brighten up my day so much everytime I recieve one. Also give Madison a big hug for me for her sweet letter and I loved hearing about her testimony on music and hearing the lyrics from that song, plus also the lyrics from that new song you love. Its really hard not to be allowed to listen to our own music here in our residence halls (they had a problem with noise disturbence) because I love music so much but no worries becuase I will be able to listen to music real soon when Im out in the field!!! Also give Madison another big hug for the awesome letter I recieved from the ladies of S2 Ward. That was really cute and it meant a lot to me to hear from them. Tell them all a real big thanks from me. My Dad sounds like he has been really stressed out by his big presentation but yeah I know he is really blessed to have a wierdo accountant like you! haha I know he will be blessed by all the preparation he has done. He has done his part so now the rest is in the Lord's hands. I hope the two of you have the most splendid time in Hawaii and a safe flight. Im very happy you got to experience the majesty of the Portland temple a while ago and Im very jealous you will get to go to the Laie Temple. I know the two of you will have a great time even if the presentation doesnt turn out the best nonetheless. Re-assignments next week for me!? I cant believe how fast time has flown by here. Who knows when my visa will come but its all good, but I do pray that Elder Paxman's plan will work out! haha I was so happy to see him wed! I was hosting new missionaries and welcoming them in like you know the Elders that took me off when I first got to the MTC, I was one of them and anyways suddenly when I was smiling and waving at cars Tanner drove by and I just freaked out and didnt recognize him at first. I was speaking Portugles ( a mix between portugues and english i was so excited) becuase i couldnt think straight. haha Three of the people in my district left for Sao Paulo yesterday and it was really bittersweet to see them go, more visas have been coming in, in waves. The suspense is killing me and it will be a real bittersweet moment to get my visa becuase then i will be so far away. So to answer your question, Yes, honestly I have been a little Home sick but I think i will be alright, Im never daylight savings time hasnt effected me at all really, I feel really blessed! 
I miss you guys and wish you a pleasant week!   
love you, Elder Howell

Monday, March 14, 2011

Letter and pics from MTC - March 11, 2011

Hi everyone, how are you?                                                                           Marzo 11, 2011

I'm doing just great if you were wondering.  I'm doing my laundry again as I usually do at this time.  I'm doing all my clothes at once so I can save some time. Hopefully my white shirts don't turn out pink!?  After six weeks of being here you would think I would have known better, why separate your clothes when you can like save 20 minutes.  I mean I'm only risking discoloring white shirts I wear every day, no biggie.  No, I'm not actually washing all my clothes together, that would be a stupid risk.  Anyway, I never thought I would enjoy doing laundry so much when I'm stuck to wearing like the same clothes every day, but I don't mind it.  I love wearing suits and lookin sharp.

Anyway, things here at the MTC are the usual...except my district is losing another 3 people due to visas!  They leave next Thurs along with like 6 other people!  Visas exist!  Your prayers continue to bless us.  I'm so happy for those people.  It's funny, when you get your visa here, you become like one of the most popular missionaries, that is until you leave, then sadly, you are forgotten.  Haha.  Not really.  Keep the prayers coming, we love them and there's plenty of Mexico and Brazil bound missionaries that need them, and I know you can never pray enough.  Like the scripture says, "Pray Always". 

You can take it literally because I do since I've been here.  Also I know that if you do always have a prayer in your heart your mind as well will be more focused on the Gospel.  I've noticed that, since I've been here my mind has been constantly thinking about the "big picture" and what exactly is the "big picture" you might ask...well initially it is the gospel, but more specifically the Plan of Salvation.  And I know that may sound dumb and obvious.  Go figure right, I'm in the MTC studying the gospel almost 24/7, well and Portuguese, and what else could I be thinking of.  I mean I don't really have any outside influences on me yet, but even so, even in the MTC it's so easy to get distracted and not have my mind set on what's really important.  I'm leaving in about three weeks, so crazy, and I think to myself how much more important it is for me to be 100% focused and reading the Book of Mormon as much as I can and prayin as much as I can to be 100% focused and obedient.  Then I think how much more important it is to do those things on the "oustide" world, when you are not on a mission, when there are so many worldly things to distract you from what is really important in life. 

I have a strong testimony now on how important it is to read the Book of Mormon each day, or at least have a spiritual moment so you may have the gospel about you, and that is so important I have found.  Last Wed. during "TRC" (the role playing center) I learned how important again it is to "be" the message of the Gospel.  To show an outward appearance of love and happiness when I will meet people and how important it is to be a constant good example of what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can make you become if you live it righteously.  Because while I'm out in the field, I will never know who is watching and if I'm not being a good example, some person who has never heard about our church, could get their first impression of it by me, and how important are first impressions.  That could make or break my message for them.  People will notice you and wonder in awe about what is so different about you, in a good way.  If I'm not showing how much of an impact this has been on my life as I teach, why should they care...

Anyway I'm babbling and I said "important" like who knows how many times but that is just what the Gospel means to me and every part of it is.  I invite you to always be a good example for our church.  Our Savior's Church. 

I love you all and this church so much and look forward to writing to you next week.  Sorry not much to report, other than the MTC is amazing as usual.  I miss you all very much.

Elder Howell

Reassignment?  Two mission calls?  Who knows?

Be like Christ.  Literally!

I love the Provo temple.


My companion always likes to steal my glasses,
but this time he stole Sister Myers glasses and we had a glasses party.

This time I had fun with Sister Myers glasses.  HAHA

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Letter from the MTC...and more pics! March 4, 2011

Querida familia e amigos!

Como Vai!  I'm doing awesome!  But I'm also feeling awesomely tired, just physically, I'm always good spiritually here.  I don't think my body has gotten used to the missionary schedule yet.  I doze off occasionally here and there, but luckily I have my companion Elder States slapping me awake.  I really regret telling him to do that now, but I'm so grateful, because I know if I'm not being fully attentive like I should be, I could miss out on something important, like time, or something I could have used to my life or to better someone else's life, that's essential for me here, and for this time of my life, because I'm really on the Lord's time and need to give it my all!  You could relate that to your life all the time, don't just go through the motions, make the most out of every motion.  It's tough, it's really tough, to be focused 100% of the time, especially when I have MDT (basically Missionary Down time) when you are given free time to be used "efficiently."  We are supposed to do language study, scripture study, plan for lessons, but sometimes we get a little off topic.  I have had a really hard time sitting still for long periods of time through scripture study and classes and such, but I've been getting a lot better when I think about the goal or why I'm doing this, and I start to think about investigators and the person I need to be for them.  I need to be the best I can be for the people I come across and for the Lord, because the message I need to share with them is so imperative, it's so important, I need to be able to show them and make them understand how much the Lord loves them and how blessed their lives are and can be. 

I'm sorry if this is a jumbled mess.  This is just what has been on my mind as my time in the MTC is coming to an end.  I couldn't think of what to say so the words just vomited out from my brain onto the page.  I pray so much for diligence everyday so I can remain focused.  I'm not saying not to have a lil fun now and then, but it's important to know when it's appropriate, that's what P-day is for.  It's so funny how you become appreciative for the little things when you don't have time for it.  Like sleep!  Or just lying down.  When I have the time just to lay down for a couple minutes I sing Hallelujah!  Whenever you lay down, appreciate it, think about Elder Howell singing Hallelujah and how I appreciate having a nice bunk bed to jump up to just relax for a sec.  Also think about how much nicer it is to unwind after a long day that you have devoted yourself to.  I can't imagine how much more I will enjoy unwinding in the field. 

Can't believe I'm almost on week 6, feels like I just wrote to you guys.  This week overall was good.  Lots of work as usual, but great.  This week we taught the first lesson fully in Portuguese!  I know its hard to believe, and I can hardly believe it myself, but we know basic conversation in Portuguese, basic MTC Portuguese that is, but still 5 weeks and to be able to basically speak a language.  I know my confidence will be shattered when I get to Brazil, but I know the Lord and the Holy Ghost will be there for me, so I'm not worried at all!...well I'm a little worried...I pray for you all every day that life is going good and I'm sorry I don't have much to say this week or more specific things to say, but I know if your life is feeling a lil down the scriptures and the Lord are always there for you and if life's going good it can be even better when you thank the Lord for your blessing and show your faith by reading the scriptures and brightening other people's days! 

Lots of love,
Elder Howell

Ready to serve...and do laundry!

This is my desk.  Well partly my desk, I share it with Elder Galvez, our new district leader BTW. 
You can see him with flags in his ears in this pic.

The Glory of the Lord's House, topped off with awesome white symbolism.
My favorite place at the MTC.

Myspace pic! With my companheiro!  Elder Estados!

Just me, you know, chillin reading Jesus the Christ.

More Q & A for Dana's benefit

I had just asked him about where they do haircuts at the MTC...

i just got my haircut today, they have a little barber shop in the basement of a building, you have to sign up for a haircut a week in advance.
So to continue the other list of questions:
On sundays we have sacrament in little chapels which are located in the main building and we have sacrament with our branch which consists of like 5 to 6 districts with similiar languages.
The only time i have to read letters is right before bedtime from 10:15 to 10:30
or basically P-day.
They have a gigantic cafeteria here, and theres three different choices of main dishes to
choose from everyday. They have pretty good apple juice but its nothing compared to the martinellis.
My favorite food so far here has been a smoked salmon soup. So good.
We do role playing all the time, so much to the extreme when we dont have a extra person to talk to we draw a picture of a person and tape it to the wall and talk to it, its hilarious to see the different pictures and to just see missionaries talking to a picture, but its amazing how seriously we take it at the same time.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mail and PICTURES from MTC - February 25, 2011

Ola! Meu querida familia! e todo mundos!

It's been another week here at the MTC and I find myself all amazed that the love I have for the gospel keeps growing and how antsy I'm getting to leave the MTC.  Don't get me wrong, at the same time I don't want to leave because I know how much harder it's going to be in the field and how much of a blessing it is that I'm here.  I'm treasuring every moment.  At this time here in the laundry room it's always one of the worst and best times of the week, because the laundry room here is always a battle and race to claim an open washer and then you finally have some downtime to write letters, which is the good part, I guess.  I say I guess because a problem I have is figuring out what to say and remembering all the great things that have happened this week, because so many good things happen here.  I promise that in the field I will not miss any amazing stories.  I'm sorry I don't really have much to say this week again.

Portuguese is awesome, but its kind of frying my brain.  Besides all of the great little personal revelations I have received here, the two, probably most noteworthy things I can mention are from the weekly firesides on Sundays and the devotionals on Tuesdays.  Every fireside and devotional we usually get to hear from a general authority!  Sunday's fireside was so amazing, we had a musical theme.  Besides going to the temple on P-days, Sundays have to be my new favorite day of the week.  Anyway, the fireside musical was amazing!  The special speakers we were going to hear from that day were going to be Brother and Sister Nally, who are the special musical directors here at the MTC so go figure it turned out to be a musical fireside.  But anyway, to our surprise instead of taking turns speaking, they both got up together and shared the mic, I thought to myself, "can they do that?"  It was really cute and the message they told about the power and influence music has on us was truly remarkable.  One story that blew my mind that they told was about a battle in WWII.  So the British and the Germans were battle ready in their bunkers ready to unleash horror one Christmas eve night and all of a sudden, one soldier from one side started to sing "Silent Night" and on after another the soldiers started to sing together and the Germans started to put candles on the end of their guns and waved them around.  Then some soldiers started to get out of their bunkers and wander into no-man's land and they all gathered around each other and sung with arms around their shoulders.  I couldn't believe what I was hearing considering here are people who were ready to kill each other and a couple of minutes later they are like singing Kumbaya at a summer camp.  That's some serious power that music can have, especially with spiritual music and the spirit it can bring and in this case the power of Christ's love and joy in His birth and the unity it can bring to people.  The story went something like that and I want you guys to look it up because it is unbelievable. 

Besides that incredible story that was just the beginning to that meeting.  Next they gave us 2,000 missionaries the opportunity to choose our favorite hymns to sing together and share why that was their favorite hymn.  The put out some mics at the bottom of the bleachers.  We sang in this order 1) I Believe in Christ, 2) Come, Come Ye Saints, 3) Nearer My God to Thee, 4) If You Could Hie to Kolob - one of my new favorite hymns, 5) How Firm a Foundation, 6) God Be With You Til We Meet Again, 7) How Gentle God's Command, 8) O My Father.  The Spirit was so strong when we sang all those songs, and to top is all off, we did a special rendition of "Called to Serve."  Sister Nally had us sounding like a serious choir instead of just one mass, if you know what I mean, which doesn't sound bad, but for this rendition they put up special instructions on the two big projector screens in front of us.  For the first verse we started off real quiet, basically with each verse we got louder and at the end we were singing with such power and we all stood up at the same time on "King" in "Called to serve our King!!!"  She had us imagine as if we were Helaman's army coming over a hillside.  It was so powerful.  I seriously almost cried.  Since then I love musical firesides.  We sang that rendition again for the devotional Tuesday because the speaker heard it was so good.  That devotional was also really amazing, but I'm out of time and I wish I could tell you about it, just like all the amazing experiences I've had here. 

That Tuesday I also completed my electronic visa application! 

I continue to increase my faith in the power of prayer and continue to appreciate all of your love and support.  Please be aware of what music you listen to and how it makes you feel because of the influence it has.  Never doubt the power in prayer and please continue to show your faith and love for our Heavenly Father by appreciating His blessings for you and by helping others. 

I wish you all the very best and know that you are in my prayers.  Til next week!

Elder Howell

p.s. I will have some more pics coming soon.

First night in the MTC - new badges!

Andy's District