Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Life fills out agendas

I am a life planner. Have been since I have been a little girl. From birthday parties to school work to even the little hour by hour things, I have planned everything. Since the beginning of high school, my plan was go to college, graduate with an English major, get married, go to law school, have a family and then live a perfect happy life. Then my life plan had a little tweak to it when the mission age changed and I decided to serve a mission. As a missionary, I loved the mission life. Especially because, as missionaries, we have this little white book called THE AGENDA. Every hour of the day I had a plan and if something fell through, there was a backup plan. For someone who is obsessed with plans, I absolutely loved this book. As a missionary, I learned how to adapt to changes such as changing areas suddenly or an appointment falling through. However, I never thought I would have to apply about what I learned in the mission about "going with the flow" to my life plan.

Two weeks ago from today I received the telephone call that I would be going home from my mission due to health problems. This was NOT part of my life plan. At all. I was planning to serve the full eighteen months, come home, go back to school and continue in my wonderful life plan. However, Heavenly Father had other plans for me. I got home and it was super weird. And hard. And different. And did I mention that it was hard? When I got home, there wasn't any plans. The only plan I was told was to get better and then go from there. As the days passed by, many different questions arose in my mind.

Before I went home, I got an email from my dad saying that if I had faith, which he believed I did, I could ask Heavenly Father to heal me so I could stay in the mission field if it was according to the will of the Lord. I fell to my knees that night and prayed with all my heart to be healed. Before I knew it I was on a plane coming home. I began to wonder if I was meant to come home for another reason in addition to receiving the medical attention I needed. Did I complete my mission in Nicaragua? Was I only needed there to serve the Lord for 7 months? Am I suppose to come home to get reassigned and serve the Lord somewhere else? Was I suppose to come home to meet someone? Was I suppose to start school again? Questions like this muddled my mind and I grew very confused. I felt utterly lost in the direction in my life. I did everything I could to receive inspiration from my Father in Heaven about what was the path I should take in my life: read the scriptures, pray, ponder, go to the temple and pray some more. Time passed and I still had not received any direction in regard to what I should do with my life. I started to grow very frustrated and to be honest, upset, that in the times I needed help the most I was not receiving it.

These past couple of days have been very humbling for me as I have been tested on the things I learned from my mission. In a way, I felt as if I was God's investigator. Being a missionary, I knew the answers to most of the questions I was having. Why does God give us trials? To help us grow and become more spiritually refined which assists us, as children of God, to become more like him. Why am I not receiving answers? Because I need to have patience and rely on the Lord's timing, knowing that his timing is better than mine. It was so frustrating because I knew all the answers but I never realized until now how hard it is to live it. Respect gained for all of my investigators on my mission! I read a General Conference talked by Elder Scott called, "Trust in the Lord," which I felt like was meant for me. Elder Scott states that "this life is an experience in profound trust in Jesus Christ." He continues by stating that "to exercise faith is to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing with you and that He can accomplish it for your eternal good even though you cannot understand how He can possibly do it." After putting our trust in the Lord, then we need to "act where we are able; then let the matter rest with the Lord for a period while we give to others in worthy ways."

In the movie, Leap Year, the main character is a woman named Anna who, similar to me, had a life plan but things go wrong and her life plan becomes altered. In part of the movie, Anna is making dinner with a man named Declan whom states, "Why don't you stop trying to control everything in the known universe. It's dinner. Have a little faith that it will all work out." And that is really what life is about: having faith, putting our trust in the Lord, and continuing on with life even when things don't go our ways. I also learned something about what plans are. The word "plan" really just means "goals." We should have plans in life, or in other words, goals in life that help us achieve greater things and look forward to the future with happiness and excitement. We shouldn't become discouraged when our "plans" don't work out how we had planned. So that is all I can do right now, act where I can, continue to make goals in my life and have faith that the Lord will direct my path. And at the same time, have fun and enjoy the ride!

             "In all of living, having much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured."

                                                                   - President Gordon B. Hinckley

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pause button

Well as all of you know, I have been experiencing health challenges this past month. Well, this past Monday, the Mission Department felt it would be best that I return home to receive medical treatment by the physicians here in Salt Lake City. I am back home for now and will keep you all posted as I find out what is going on. Hopefully, the doctors will figure out what is going on and I can move forward. At this moment, my adventure in Nicaragua has come to a halt. I will keep you posted on what happens!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Best Companionship Ever!

Hello family! Hope you all had a lovely week. Sorry this email is going to be really short because nothing has happened much this week. As you know I am still sick  I have a doctors appointment this Thursday I believe. So hopefully the doctors will be able to see what is going on.  I was sad to get the emergency transfer call but I am happy to be returning to my old zone. Hermana Rogers is in the zone so I am super stoked to see her more! Also I am in a foursome! Wilysnn, Hermana Bernards, Scott and I are all comps! The 4 gringas together, too much fun! I don't think there has ever been a foursome companionship of all white chicks until now.  I have more energy now than the early week but I still have pain in my stomach from eating. 
Lovely masks for the days we don't want to wear makeup!

Today was the first day I left the house to be active and do something. We went to this really huge market today and went shopping which was really fun! Me and Hra. Wheat.  Wilsynn and I found these funky masks which I will send a pic of them later. We went to Subway for lunch and hung out for the day which was really fun. We all bought these Nica nightgowns and they are legit! I will send a pic next week. Anyways, sorry this is so short, nothing has happened. Hna Scott is taking good care of me and I am slowly getting my strength back. Pray that the doctors can find what is going on this week. Love you all and have a good week.
Me, Hra Scott, Wheat and Bernards!

Hermana Howell 

Happy, Happy, Happy

Buenas tardes querido familia! I hope you are all doing very well! Well as you all know I am not doing too hot. I have been sick for most of the week. I started feeling sick on Monday night and each day it got progressively worse. On Wednesday we had a multi-zone conference in Matagalpa and it was really fun! It was all day long but it was a really good meeting. The meeting ended at 6 and there weren't any buses heading back to our area so the whole zone had to squeeze into a tiny van meant to fit only like 15 people....yeah we made 26 people fit! hahaha it was so funny. We were singing hymns the whole way and there was so much missionary spirit! I loved it. Well my health got a little worse on Thursday and Friday so I went to Esteli to do some lab work. I am trying to have a positive outlook on everything that is happening so what happened in the lab at Esteli probably made my week! So I am in this lab, it was a little sketch, and this lady starts to take my blood. Well after she finished taking my blood I start feeling light headed. Then I was thinking, 'Yep I am going to pass out.' The laboratory lady starts yelling 'She is white! She is going to pass out!' Well her solution to this was start hitting my face and pinching my cheeks. OW! Then she shoves rubbing alcohol up my nose to apparently wake me up. Talk about horrible. I was like 'Please leave me be and pass out.' hahaha it was too funny. I didn't pass out though so I guess it worked! 

Saturday night I received a call from Hermana Collado. She said that when I come to Managua tomorrow, I need to bring extra clothes.  For my mission I have had a picture of Christ with the scripture Proverbs 3:5 that says 'Trust in the Lord...lean not unto thine own understanding.' I don't understand why this is happening to me but I do know that my Savior lives. He gives me trials for my own benefit and these trials strengthen my faith. I don't have control over this situation but I do have control over my attitude so I have decided to have a positive attitude. I am putting all of my faith and will in the hands of the Lord. He knows what is best for me. Whatever happens, happens for a reason and will benefit me in some way. 

Thank you for all of your prayers. I have felt the spirit, added strength and I have been able to find joy these last couple of days. So many people are taking care of me here so don't worry! I love you all so much! Hope you have a wonderful week! Talk to you soon! 

Hermana Howell 

Monday, March 10, 2014


Que tal familia? I hope you all had a wonderful week! Can you believe that today I have six months in the mission?!? SO CRAZY. Only 12 more months and I will be chilling in the airport waiting for you all. Okay lets not think about that because I forget that the mission is not real life sometimes and honestly the thought of coming home scares me. Anyways, this week was a week of ups and downs but overall I had a lot of growth this week. 

As a tradition of every new change, my district picked a district name. We decided to be ¨marvel¨like as the Avengers and I am Captain America! We took a district picture which I will send and it was pretty awesome; thanks to the hermanas who thought of it! haha

This week I had divisions with Hermana Taufoou and it was a lot of fun! She is from Idaho so it was fun to talk about that beloved state! We have been having a lot of problems with dogs recently so what did I decide to do. I decided to try out that dog repeller device that Dad sent me in my Christmas package. Let me tell you, that thing is so dang fun! The dogs all freak out and run the other way looking so confused! All the missionaries here love it and everyone wants to try it. It is sad how easily missionaries are entertained. Dad, I am worried I will start playing that spagetti game next. Only you Dad would think of sending the dog repeller! But THANK YOU. Seriously I love it! It has helped us a lot haha.

Also, I got Aunt Steph's package this week and some letters! THANK YOU! I loved all the photos you send Aunt Steph! Seriously mail is the best thing in the world. 

So my highlight of my week was this Sunday. As a district this week, we are having a competition. Whoever earns a certain number of points gets a certain thing and the highest reward is to eat at this American restaurant. These last two weeks have been really tough for us in our area. We haven't been having any success and we have been becoming discouraged. Sunday was the last day of this competition and we only had 4 points and we had to get 25 points to eat at this restaurant. So our hope was pretty low; we knew that this would be impossible to accomplish. Our hope was at least to obtain 10 points which got us a donut. To attain the 10 points, we were relying on investigators to come to church and no one came to church. Seriously no one came to church. There was only 20 people in church which has been the lowest it has ever been in the time that I have been here. After church my comp cried because of this frustration and I was pretty discouraged with the situation of the rama. The Elders gave us a little pep talk and Elder Gomez asked us  if we had put all of our energy and work in this work. We both answered no, we could do more. We realized, as a companionship, we needed to work harder and change what we were doing; realy on the Lord and be missionaries of Preach my Gospel. This literally changed our day and how we worked. At the end of the day, we went from having 4 points to 26 points. We contacted 20 people of whom were 7 families, committed a woman to come to church and put 9 BAPTISM DATES! Never in my mission, well in these short six months, have I put 9 baptism dates in one day, nevertheless in one week! It was absolutely a miracle! We even put a baptismal date in a street contact! I felt at the end of Sunday that I finally felt satisfied with myself. I never had felt so guided by the spirit before. Throughout Sunday, I just felt the presence of the spirit so strongly, guiding me and putting the words in my mouth to say to the people. I felt I was finally successfu but what I learned more was what it takes to be a good missionary. First and foremost, a misisonary needs to be humble and rely on the Lord. We have the spirit when we are humble and hearts are touched when we teach by the Spirit. As I trusted in the Lord, I was guided by the spirit about where to go and what to say and who to talk to. As I strived to be the missinoary that Preach my Gospel teaches and obey, I felt the Savior was satisfied in my work and never felt so much joy! All we need to do in this life is trust the Lord and wait to see miracles! I love being a missionary!!

I love you all so much and can't wait to see your wonderful faces in May! Thanks for all of your support and love! I couldn't do this without all of you, my wonderful family. Have a wonderufl week and look for opportunities to serve the Lord. All members are missionareis! There truly is no other joy in this world than sharing the knowledge with our brothers and sisters that they can be with their families for eternity. I love you all so much!!!

Con muchísimo amor,

Hermana Howell 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Life is a Highway!

Hello!!! Okay wow did this week just flyyy by. Seriously it was like yesterday that I wrote you guys. I hope you all had a wonderful week and had a fun time talking in the singles ward yesterday. I was definitely thinking of you all and was happy that I didn't have to speak. I would rather speak in Spanish with a small group of Nicas :)...mainly because a lot of people still don't understand me so I can just get up there and say whatever I want haha. Anyways, this week was pretty crazy! First, P-days are suppose to be your break day right? WRONG. Well, not for me at least. So we started washing our own clothes. Well, today I washed my clothes from the past two weeks...with a pila...which took 3 flipping hours. Can I just say i am dying? Like literally my arms hurt so bad. You know that pain in your arms after rock climbing? Multiply that by ten and that is what I am feeling right now. So ENJOY your washing machines people!
Our ride home from church- in the back of a Pickup Truck

Anyways, with this new change, my comp and I set some goals for the change. Our goals were focused on eating healthier and exercising because we have been struggling in this two areas. We try to get up every morning at 6 to exercise and we have been pretty successful! With the new change, we had a zone meeting in Esteli on Wednesday to meet all of the newbies in the zone. There wasn't a ton of new changes, only like 4 in the zone and one of them is a new elder in Dario because Elder Coffey finished his mission. The new Elder is Elder Gomez and he is from Utah! He actually lives right by A-Fresh and Wendy's? Small world. Well when the zone meeting ended, we (us sisters and 4 elders in my area) were walking to the bus station when a member and his wife drove by in his truck and offered us a ride. Be missionaries, not wanting to spend money, we gladly accepted. Mom and Dad, don't kill me, but we hopped in the back of a pickup truck, went on the freeway at probably 70 mph and went back to our area. hahaha the whole time I was thinking "if Mom and Dad saw me right now they would die." It was so much fun! Other than my face was numb from my hair hitting my face for an hour and a half. Seriously my life is the best!

Okay this is my paragraph of random facts. So first I love my new house! It seriously is so nice and the woman and her family that lives there are the best. They always make us food which makes us happy:) Mom you would approve! And the view from my window is gorgeous. Another random fact for the week is that I met an 110 year old man! 110! I have never met anyone older than 90 before so I thought it was pretty cool. This man is the dad of a member and he looks and act likes he is in his late 80s. We asked him his secret and he just smiled and laughed...so either the secret is laugh in life or he didn't hear us.

Teaching English
My area!
So a lot of people here in Dario have asked us missionaries about teaching an English class. After talking about it with my comp, we decided to try out teaching an English class and see if anyone would show up. The class started at 3 pm on Saturday and after waiting 40 minute, with no one showing up, we decided to leave. Well I went to the bathroom first and when I opened the door to leave the bathroom, the church was FILLED with people. hahaha my face was pretty priceless, it was pure shock, then terror and fear of the thought that I have to teach all of these people by myself! (my comp doesn't know English). A bunch of kids from the ages of six to eighteen came and there were about 13 to 15 people! I taught the alphabet and everything went very well. I actually loved teaching the class and am excited for this Saturday to teach! It was so cute, none of the kids could say my name so everyone just called me "teacher". I am hoping we will be able to find some families to teach through these kids that are assisting my class. 

Cutest twins ever!
This week was kinda a rough week teaching. None of our investigators are progressing and no one will come to church or accept a baptism date. My leaders have sent texts everyday encouraging us to put baptism dates and it has been so frustrating that I haven't been to fulfill this goal. I definitely have been working on patience this week. Especially with my investigators. I  am pretty sure I have told you guys about them in a past email. So the dad, is reading the BOM, reading general conference talks and has read all the pamphlets we leave but he refuses to come to church. I had a humility check this week in one of the lessons when he told us we need to have patience with him because it is hard for him to leave behind all of his beliefs like the virgin maria. As my family, you know that I am not the most patient of people so this week has been pretty humbling for me. In Predicad Mi Evangelio, everything is centered on patience and humility. I need to be patient with the language and be humble for the help of my Father in Heaven. I need patience with my investigators. I need to be humble so I can have the direction of the Spirit. This week I realized I have been pretty prideful in this work: I was struggling to feel the spirit when I was teaching and felt alone in this work. I was depending more on my strength than relying on my Father in Heaven in this work. This week I was struggling to feel the spirit and felt distant from my Heavenly Father. In Ether 12:27 we read, "And if men come unto me I will show unto them theiraweakness. I bgive unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my cgrace is sufficient for all men that dhumble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make eweak things become strong unto them." As we come to Christ, we see our faults because our Savior is perfect. However, through the grace of him, we can overcome our weaknesses and become more like him. I have learned a lot this week that I can't do this work without the help from my Savior and my Father in Heaven. This truly is the work of the Lord and it is a blessing that he allows me to take apart of it!
Hna Zepeda and I

Well I hope you all know how much I love you all!! I pray for all of you everyday and think about you during my day. hope you have a wonderful week and I can't wait to hear about your week next week! 

Hermana Howell

Monday, February 17, 2014

Re-define "Party"

My first tortilla!
Helloooo family! How is everyone doing this week? From last week, it sounded like everyone is travelling around the world. I hope everyone had a wonderful time and were safe! This week was soooooo much better than last week. It really is truly amazing to me to see how my Father in Heaven is watching out for me and sends me help through my family. Mom, Dad and Aunt Steph, your letters were EXACTLY what I needed. Thank you for being worthy to receive revelation for me and to act on that revelation. I just have the best family ever! Today was changes and I DON'T HAVE CHANGES! Woohoo first time in my mission that I don't have to change! So I get to still be with Hermana Zepeda which I am really excited about! So this week was one of my most craziest weeks on my mission so this email I am going to try splitting it up according to days. Sorry if this email is a little jumpy! 

Tuesday was the last meeting for new missionaries and trainers and this meeting was really different than the others! Everyone went to Matagalpa! Matagalpa is absolutely gorgeous. I was so excited to go and finally see that place! Anyways, the meeting was only for 2 hours and then after for the rest of the day we split up with another sister and worked. Since my area is only 45 minutes away from Matagalpa, my comp and I returned to my area with Hermana Mendez and Hermana Virula to work! I went with Hermana Virula to work and we had a lot of success! We contacted some stellar families and taught some really good lessons. 

My Zone
Valentine's Day Party
Thursday was Valentines day!! Seriously this was probably the best Valentines day of my life. So I saved those hearts from the Michael Buble concert and spread them on my comps bed and throughout the room so that was fun! In addition, some guy at this smoothie store gave me a free smoothie so that was a bonus :) Probably though the highlight of my day was what happened at night. In Dario, there is a ton of youth and so we are teaching a lot of the youth! They are Missy's age and my age. There are two young women we are teaching. Well we told them we were going to have a lesson with them and then have food after as a little Valentine's party and they were so excited! Okay their idea of a lesson with some food (a party) was wayyy different than our idea of a party. So we went to the house, we brought some juice and they were going to bring chips and beans, and wow what she had waiting for us was definitely not what we were expecting! (Side note: the girls wanted the elders to come so we invited them because Elder Molina is Presidente De la Rama). So we walk up to the house and there are a ton of people there! Music is blasting, there is a table full of food, and it is a legit teen party. The young women had invited all of their friends! Talk about literally being separated from the world as we walk in the house with skirts and suits while everyone is in spandex shorts and tanks. hahaha I was dying! We did end up having a lesson, a very simple one about faith. I would like you all to picture this, especially you Missy. You are at a friends house on Valentine's day having a party and four missionaries walk in and have a lesson about faith with you. hahaha Awkward! After the lesson, we stayed for a little and ate some food but then left because we felt awkward; everyone was dancing and were trying to flirt with us. hahaha it was a pretty funny situation! After our "lesson", me and my comp went and got chocolate shakes to celebrate Valentine's day together! Well, you would think after this crazy day that it would go back to being a normal night. But no, I am living in Nicaragua so life isn't normal. So ya know how we changed houses last Monday? Well, we are still waiting to get the key to the house. We came home Thursday night and the lady of the house is not home. So we are locked out of the house. In Nicaragua. At night. We called her like 30 times and she didn't answer. Well, I ended up calling my leaders to ask them what to do and everyone was freaking out. We were about to have to sleep in a Ferreteria of a member, which is a place that sells mattresses, but at 10:15 the lady of the house came home! So everything turned out okay!
My view from our window

I saw two miracles this week. The first was we had 46 people in church today! It was absolutely amazing! It is extremely difficult to find menos activos here and this Sunday we found four inactives and brought them all to church with us. The second miracle was finding this wonderful family. So my comp and I were walking in the street and my comp was thirsty so we stopped at a pulperia to buy something for her to drink. Well, the man of the store was joking around with us and asked "What have you brought me?" I answered saying we brought him the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Well, he ended up letting us in and we had a lesson with him and his family. This family is literally golden. So the dad, was studying to be a pastor or something for the Catholic church but didn't feel like it was right. He said he has been searching for the truth and feels like this is his second chance. The family is so receptive and he is reading the book of Mormon! AHHH I just wanted to cry for joy. He has so many questions which is always good. They don't want to go to church yet but we will get them there this Sunday :) Literally it was such a miracle to see the Lord's hand in this work, guiding us to this family! 

Well those are some of the highlights of my crazy week! I love being a missionary. I love the joy and happiness I feel as I tell people of the plan of God and seeing a change in their lives. There truly is no other joy in this world than to bring others to the gospel. It is coming real to me that a mission has a due-date and in two weeks I will only have a year left in the mission. Everything in my mission I am cherishing because I know I won't be able to have it again. Even those tough days are days that are priceless. I hope you are all doing well and had a wonderful week! I love you all so much and am continually amazed at all the blessings and such a wonderful life my Father in Heaven has given me. Have a lovely week!! LOVE EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU!!!

Con muchicismo amor,

Hermana Howell