Saturday, January 25, 2014

Jarron Azul

Hola famila! I hope you all had a wonderful week! I loved all of the pictures you sent me! Today makes my day! Looks like you had a lot of fun with the Elders at dinner. Any missionary in the States has it easy haha. Looks like dinner was good! 

So today I am in Managua! WOOHOo. I finally got my cedula, like a drivers license, so technically I am a citizen of Nicaragua. Tomorrow I have a meeting so we are just sleeping here in Managua and I got to spend the day in my old area with Mendez and her new comp. We visited some members and it was so much fun! I truly love these people so much. I really miss it here. I felt so happy and excited today and I hope I will become to feel this way about my new area in Esteli. My comp has two-day changes with some other hermana here in Managua so another hermana is going to Dario with me tomorrow until Friday. Friday two members of the Seventy are coming to Nicaragua to talk to both missions! SO i get to see my whole mission again and hear from two members of the Seventy so I am excited for that! 

This past week I had intercambios with the TL hermana in Esteli so I went with Hermana Ayala for 24 hours and another sister went with my comp. It was pretty fun to go to a different area and work with another sister! Esteli is really pretty but it is so cold (70 degrees in the day, 60 degrees at night). I was dying in the night. But don't worry, all of the weight I have gained is keeping me warm. Just fyi, no swimsuit vacation when I get home. Wait a month for me to get back in shape. Anyways, our zone had interviews with President this week and it went well. He is such a nice man and truly wants to help us. The interview went well with him. It is cool to see the progress I am making in kinda every aspect of my life. The first interview with him I had no idea what he was saying. Now I understand almost everything he says!

So a problem in Ciudad Dario is that nobody knows how to read so nobody reads the pamphlets we give or the Book of Mormon. We decided to start teaching a class about how to read and write. So Saturday we had the first class. Yeah nobody came...BUT we had the biggest Jarron Azul moment. Oh and jarron azul is basically like yolo or in the moment kind of a thing. Well we were about to leave the church when a recent convert walks in the church and says she wants her two sons to be baptized. Now. So we were like OKAY! So we went to buy cookies to celebrate while the elders called our DL for interviews. We got everything ready and then we realized, the water in the church doesn't work. Shoot. Well Jarron azul. WE went to the crocodile infested, brown, smelly river and baptized. Oh and it was at night so we couldn't see a thing! It was so awesome! and we were all fasting that nobody would get eaten by a crocodile. Don't worry everyone was fine! It was so awesome. 

As of this moment, I have two baptisms this Saturday! It is a family. So here is the story of them. So my first Sunday here I was teaching Sunday school and after Elder Molina came up to me and said that the guy I had called on to say the closing prayer isn't a member. Say what?! I totally thought he was a member. He acted like one: he participated in class, read scriptures and said the prayer. And in addition to that, he has come to church for the past month without anyone inviting him or missionaries teaching him. Golden! So we started teaching him and his wife and this Saturday we are planning on them getting married and after getting baptized! Seriously they are golden investigators. We didn't even do anything, the Lord had already prepared them to become members. So I am excited for that! I hope everything goes well and they get baptized this Saturday.

Well I hope you are all doing well and have a wonderful week! Sorry this week was kinda boring. Hopefully something crazy will happen in the next week haha. I love you all so much! 


Hermana Howell 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Safari Princess

FAMILY!! How is my wonderful family doing? I hope you are all doing well and enjoying the cold. Don't worry, I am with you on this one. I am DYING here in Esteli. Literally, I have worn a sweater everyday and sleep in my comfy blanket. I am missing summer! But as you all know, I got transferred to Esteli. Well here is the thing, my area is an hour and a half away from the actual city. I am serving in Ciudad Dario which is about the size of Holladay or a little smaller in the middle of nowhere. You all know me, I like being around people so it has been a challenge being in the middle of the mountains without lots of people. But Esteli is so beautiful! There are green mountains surrounding me, some farm fields that reminds me of Grandmas house. The houses vary from rich to very poor, as in like cardboard walls poor, and there are bulls (cows) everywhere. Out of all of my areas this is the prettiest! There are cute little houses, a white catholic church which is really pretty, a park and cute little cafes. However, this has been my toughest area yet of my mission. First off, NO ONE wants to listen to us and we have zero progressing investigadores. It is so hard.  Well, let me talk about the Rama. So, technically there are 400 members here in Dario. Only 30 attend. Yes, 30. The size of the young women. The church is just a little house and the missionaries literally do everything. For example, I gave a talk in church on Sunday (MY first talk in Spanish woohoo!), I taught gospel doctrine class, and I taught Relief Society. Oh and did I mention that I didn't know in advance either! Great right?! So that was overwhelming knowing that my Spanish is still pretty limited. So in my area there are only 4 missionaries, me, my comp, and two elders. Then everyone else is 2 hours away so we are practically by ourselves. But we all are becoming good friends which is good! 

My Safari net and my companion
I am going to be honest, this week has been extremely difficult for me. First, was our house which was more terrible than my first house where I bathed in a bucket. It was insanely filthy. Cockroaches, rats, and scorpions were our roommates and poo from the rats were everywhere. Last week a scorpion bit my comp but luckily she is all good. I was so scared of waking up with rat poo on me that I slept in my mosquito net so THANK YOU dad for making me bring that. Secretly, it was kinda fun sleeping in that thing. It was like I was a Safari princess! So my first priority was to find a new house. So today we moved houses and are renting a room which is a lot nicer. 

There is so much work to do here  that I have been so overwhelmed. So the companion of my comp was never in Dario, she was always in Managua for meetings, so my comp knows very little about the area and there aren't really any investigators so it is basically like opening a new area. I don't understand directions at all and I don't know why but I can't understand what people are saying here. It is like the Spanish changed or something! So that has been a struggle. So basically we have been starting from scratch but it is so hard to find people who have the potential to progress here.
Hra. Zepeda and me

Now for my comp, Hermana Zepeda. She is from Mexico and she has today two months in the mission as of today! She is really cute and fun! We get along really well.  This whole week we have been relying on our strength, energy and faith and I am so exhausted. I am lost at what to do as a trainer, I feel so inadequate.

With all of these challenges this week, I have never felt so close to my Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ. Since finding out I was training and moving to a new area, I have relied on my Father in Heaven to direct me where to go, what to say and especially to know what to do. Seriously, without the help I have received this week, I would not be able to do this. I have received so much strength and comfort from Christ and Heavenly Father that I know he is by my side, directing and helping me. I truly believe that during difficult times, Christ carries me. Though this is so tough, I know that I am suppose to be here. I Know that I am suppose to be Hna Zepedas' companion. I have really started to forget about myself and focus on this work. Being put in the position of responsibility I have stepped it up and have tried to be the best example for my companion. I really do love her so much! 
This week has been very humbly for me and I have only relied on the strength of Christ. I can't do his work without him.

I am so grateful for all of you and feel so blessed for having such an amazing family. I hope you all are doing well! I love each and every one of you so much! have a wonderful week and I will talk to you next week! LOVE YOU!!!

Con MUCHO amor,

Hermana Howell 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

To Be or Not To Be

Feliz ano nuevo familia I can't believe it is already a new year! It sounds like you guys had a fun cruise! Well as you know, I am leaving tomorrow to Esteli to be a trainer. AH. Definitely freaking out. At 3pm I have a training meeting all day so hopefully I will learn more there which will help me calm down a bit. SO much responsibility. But it is 2014. WOOHOOO! So crazy how time goes by so fast. New year's was crazy here. Basically all night people literally BLAST music and throw fireworks in the air. Literally the house was shaking so I didn't get any sleep that night. Really, missionaries don't even get any sleep. But it was fun to see the different traditions here! One of the traditions is that the people make a scarecrow kinda thing and then put fireworks in it and blow it up. Don't really understand why but that is cool. We should start doing that at home hahaha. Sorry that this email is not going to be really long. I only have like fifteen minutes to write. 

I love these girls!
So as it is a new year, I made a list of goals for this new year. Well, my list is pretty long but some of my goals are to be exactly obedient, be patient, be loving and always be happy and positive. In 3 Nephi 27:27, Jesus presents the question, "What manner of men ought ye to be?" Jesus then follows up with the answer,"even as I am." The past week I have been thinking of a word for the year. You know how I have my life word, "Forward", well I wanted to make a word for this year. Well from my list of goals, I realized  that most of my goals began with the word "to be." That is the question of life; who are we going to be? The classic quote by Shakespeare comes to mind, "to be or not to
Carmen and her Family
be, that is the question." However in reality that is the question, we have the agency to choose who we are going to be. Circumstances influence who we could become but we have that choice as to how we react to circumstances and become more like our Savior. In Spanish, ser and estar have the equal definition of to be. However, these two simple words are very different. Ser is unconditional and estar is conditional. As I considered my goals for the New year, I realized I didn't just want "to be" these things for this year, I wanted to become these things; permanently become more patient and more positive. As I focus this year on developing Christ-like attributes and following the perfect example of my Savior, I hope that I can BE more like him. I encourage all of you to take time out of your day and make your list of goals for the new year. 

This week has been an amazing week with my investigators which makes it even harder to leave them. First off, yesterday was another miracle day in my rama. 90 people came to church!!! It was incredible!! Also, we had 6 investigators at church too! So awesome! So one of my investigators is a young man who is 18 years old. He is the boyfriend of our recent converts. We have started to teach him and he is the most amazing young man ever. Such a golden investigator. He has almost read all of the Doctrine and Covenants without us asking him to, has promised to read the entire Book of Mormon this week, comes to Church every Sunday and asks the most profound questions. I love teaching him because it is more like hanging out with a friend and talking about the Gospel. We are aiming to baptize him this or next Saturday. Sadly, I won't be here. Today when I said goodbye to him, he started crying and said the nicest things to me. I gave him the tie from the Christmas package for him to wear at his baptism. It broke my heart to say goodbye to all of my investigators that I truly love. As I started saying bye to Carmen, she just started crying in my arms which just made me cry. I am so grateful for the opportunity the Lord has given me to meet this amazing people. They have forever changed my life.

I am so sorry this is so short but I want you all to know I love you!!! I am so grateful for an amazing family. I will for sure send a long letter next week! Have a good week! WISH ME LUCK!!!!