Friday, March 6, 2015

03-02 I testify that Jesus Christ lived and died for us...

Hey Everyone,
This week was awesome!  I felt the Spirit a lot and we had a bunch of meaningful lessons.
I can't believe it was my last full week.  This week I'll only be in my area until Thursday.  After that I'll be with Elder Potts from my group and we have interviews and a meeting and a temple trip until you guys get here on Monday.

Yesterday it made me super sad thinking about how little time I have left here.  I really love Bolivia and the people I've met, and being a missionary.  It's been an incredible experience and even though I'm excited to get back home and see family and friends and get back into working and studying and regular life, leaving this country is going to be terribly hard.

In the meantime we're getting done all that we can in the area before I leave.  This week Kevin and Denilson were both called as ward mission leaders.

with Cristian
We had a great lesson with Diego early this week.  He finally has his answer that this is the true church.  He  has decided to be baptized on March 14th.  I was so excited when he told us that.  He shared with us a little bit about how he'd been going through some rough times and that the church showing up in his life has helped a lot.

Cristian is still excited for his own baptism as well.  He actually went with us to a couple of appointments on Saturday.  One was Maria (Samuel's mom) and he shared his own experience about receiving a testimony and also how it's blessed his life.  It was incredible.  Maria and Samuel came to church for the first time in over a month yesterday.

Saturday afternoon we went with Diego, Cristian, and Kevin to eat pique macho and then started a fast all together.  It was there first time for all 3 of them but they all made it without eating until the end.  Definitely my favorite fast of the mission.  I felt the Spirit and recognized that I was feeling it nearly the entire time we fasted.

We held an activity on Wednesday night for members and nonmembers to get to know each other.  It was a 15 minute spiritual message and then games for big groups.  We had almost 100  people come.  We have an increasing presence from the Pablo Cano Jr. class.  At the activity we had 11 of them (all young men), about half and half members and investigators.  All but one of them came to church on Sunday too.

This will probably be my last letter home. 

I know that this is the true church.  I know that the Book of Mormon was written by prophets called of God.  I know God hears our prayers and loves us.  I've seen things seemingly impossible brought about by the power of prayer.  I know that living the gospel is the only way to truly enjoy our time here on Earth.  I testify that Jesus Christ lived and died for us and prepared a way for us to live forever in God's presence.  How grateful I am for all that my God and Savior have done and do for me.
Elder Howlett

Saturday, February 28, 2015

2015-02-23 I know that I belong to His church

Hey Everyone,
Well I just wrote on Wednesday and these last 5 days have flown by.

We had zone conference on Friday.  We watched the new Meet the Mormons movie in Spanish.  I liked the movie quite a bit.

Steven with Denilson to his left and Cristian to his right
Cristian Maldonado (Denilson's friend) is still doing awesome.  He came to church and stayed the whole time again and he went to a baptismal service with us.  He is 100 percent sure that this is the true church and that he wants to be baptized.  

Cristian really wants to go do visits with us like Denilson does so tomorrow he's going with us to another one of his friends who is already our investigator to share how he received an answer that this is the true church.

Diego came to church again but he doesn't have time for us to teach him everything he needs to know to get baptized this week.  We changed his baptismal date to the 14th of March.  He and Crisitan are friends so we thought it would be cool to do their baptisms together.

Yesterday we found a really nice mother and daughter and taught them the Restoration.  The mom is Gladys and the daughter is Angie and they are a way wealthier than a normal family for the area.  They are very open to us though which isn't as common among the wealthy people here.  Gladys went to church from the time she was 12 to 15 but never got baptized.  She remembers a surprising amount.  She told us that her husband had a good friend who is a member of the church.  We see a lot of potential with this family.  Hopefully this week we'll get to teach everyone (there are 2 more kids and the dad who we don't know yet).

Elder Stuehser's birthday--tacos at the pension
I really can't believe how little time I have left. These 2 years passed by so quickly.  I'm grateful for the opportunity that I've had to be here.  God always kept me just where I needed to be to help myself and help other people.  It has been an incredible experience.  I'm also grateful for the experiences I had before my mission that prepared me to effectively carry the gospel to the people of Bolivia.  It's incredible how much God loves us and how much he does for us.  He allows us to have experiences we need to become the people we ought to be.

I love the gospel and am grateful for it.  I'm grateful for my loving Savior.  I know that God hears and answers prayers.  I know that I belong to His church.  How blessed are we to have His church and gospel in our lives.

Have a great week everyone.
Elder Howlett

P.S. D&C 46:30

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

2015-02-18 ... he'd felt a peace like he'd never felt before.

Hey Everyone,
This week was great.  We had a lot of exchanges, 3 this week, and they all went well.

Tuesday was Gerardo´s birthday so we went and ate salteñas on Monday.  He's doing well with church stuff.

Monday and Tuesday was Carnaval here.  Since I'm quite a ways outside of the city it wasn't as crazy as it was in Potosì.  We weren't allowed to go out and work during those 2 days but President gave us permission to go to the ward activities.  In the morning on Tuesday the High Priests had a soccer activity at the church and invited us.  That was fun.  The main activity was that afternoon for the whole ward and they played water games and had food.  Besides that we were just in our house and the pension.  I taught everyone how to play spoons while we were waiting for the food to be ready in the pension and that was fun too.
ward Carnaval activity
Last Monday I made funeral potatoes in the pension.  They turned out alright.  Maria Aquino came over with another friend and we ate them after we had a family home evening.
making funeral potatoes at the pension
Denilson called us on Wednesday and told us that he'd set up an appointment for us to go visit one of his friends, Cristian, on Friday.  He was supposed to go with us but called on Friday and said he wasn't going to be able to go.  I thought that it probably wasn't going to go very well because I'd met Cristian once before when I went to his house looking for his less-active older brother.  His brother wasn't there so I tried talking with him and he just told us "no" because he's Catholic.

Anyway, we knocked and he came out and we started talking.  He told us that Denilson´s been talking to him a lot about the church in their high school and that it sparked his interest.  We taught the Restoration and it was an awesome lesson.  He said he wanted to come to church and we went by to pick him up on Sunday morning.  He was ready and waiting.  On the way to the church I asked him if he'd prayed to know if what we'd taught was true.  He said he read the pamphlet several times and prayed and that he'd felt a peace like he'd never felt before.  I asked him if he thought that was God answering him and he said yes. I asked him how sure he was that this is the true church then and he says he's completely sure.  He'd never felt like he did that day when we'd first taught him and he had prayed and he says that everything we teach and that he reads just makes sense and feels right.  He is excited to be baptized on the 14th of March.
by my house
He came to the ward Carnaval activity yesterday and we got to talk a lot there.  He's 16 and a nice kid.  He wants to get his family to church and he said he'll work on convincing them this week.  I'm very excited for him.

Time is flying by.  I love being a missionary.  I love the gospel and am sure that living the gospel is the best way to live this life.

Have a great week everyone.
Elder Howlett

2015-02-09 It's really peaceful there.

2015-02-09 It's really peaceful there.
Hey Everyone,
This week flew by-we had a bunch of weird stuff to do like baptismal interviews and visa paperwork and council of leaders and zone meeting.  It made the week go by way too fast.

missionaries of Coolcapirhua
I'm running out of time today so my letter is going to be a little short.
rainbow from my balcony
Gustavo's parents got baptized.  That was really awesome.  I got to do the dad's interview and he is very ready to be a member of the church.  I love doing the baptismal interviews and meeting all the awesome people who want to get baptized.

The Valencia family brought another neighbor to church this Sunday--Alexis.

We had a lesson with Samuel and Maria this week.  I like teaching at their house because we teach in their lawn and it's just out in the middle of giant corn fields.  It's really peaceful there.  I think Maria came to understand much better than she had before why it's important to find the true church.  I'm excited for them.
Book of Mormon in Quechua
Hector just got a back from a mission in Peru 3 weeks ago and he went out with us to do visits.  We actually met a less active member and it turned out that she and Hector had been good friends several years ago and she came to church for the first time in over a year with him on Sunday.  That was convenient.

Diego (Denilson's friend) came to church on Sunday and later that same day we went and taught him in his house.  It was one of the best lessons I've had in a while.  I felt the Spirit strongly especially as we discussed baptism.  He had already accepted a date for the 28th of this month, but in this lesson he told us that he's decided to do it now.  His mom is very supportive of him coming to church even though she says she doesn't have time to talk to us.  I'm very excited to be working with him.  The plan is have 3 visits per week up until his baptism.  Kevin is also his friend and is going to go with us for our next visit with Diego.
restaurant where I ate
I talked to Rodrigo (from Potosì) this week and he told me that he's doing well and going to church.

I hope you all have an awesome week.  You should go to the temple if you haven't been recently.

Elder Howlett

P.P.S. Monday is Carnaval here and we can't leave our houses.  I'll write you guys on  Wednesday of next week.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

2015-02-02 The Aquino family situation complicated itself a little.

Pozo sisters ready to do baptisms at the temple

Hey Everyone,
This week went by quickly.  My new companion is Elder Palma from Lima, Peru.  He seems pretty good so far.  He's probably the biggest Latin missionary in the whole mission.

Thank you Atwoods and Watsons, your packages arrived.
combined FHE and birthday for Alan Valencia
We had 2 family home evenings this week with the Valencia family and they invited over a whole bunch of their neighbors for both.  We took the primary president to one and our ward mission leader to the other.  Hermana Benancia said she's going to keep inviting everyone over once a week for family home evenings.
doing visits with Denilson
I had to drop my old companion off early on Tuesday morning and then my new companion's flight didn't get in until the afternoon.  Denilson went with me since I can't be alone.  That was fun to get to know him better.  It was the last week of summer vacations from school there and he told me he wanted to go do visits with us for a whole day before he couldn't anymore.  He actually spent all of Tuesday with us and then all day Wednesday too.  He'll be a great missionary.

We had stake conference on Saturday.  Alex, a fifteen-year-old investigator, went with us.  Gustavo, who was baptized in December, was also there.  I asked him to go make Alex his friend.  He immediately found him and started talking to him. I was impressed.
Parra family at Stake Conference
The Aquino family situation complicated itself a little.  The dad, who lives in Argentina, came to visit and was upset that they were listening to us so we didn't get to visit them this week.  We did keep in touch by cell phone and the oldest 2 kids still seem very interested.

Maria, Samuel, and Brenda are still doing ok.  We went and did service helping them dig up and replant plants this week.  They still don't have answers to know if it's the true church.  Hopefully they will soon.  Maria was telling us she's been praying about it this past week.

Sorry I don't have much to say.  On a side note we did visit the Garnica family and they really like us. It's a mom and dad and their adult children.  It was just the second lesson so we'll have to see how it goes.
where we helped smash corn to make some things like tamales
 I know that God loves us and listens to us when we pray.  Everyone should pray more and look for opportunities to serve others and go to the temple more.  Those things made me a much better person.
Valencia family at the temple
Have a great week everybody.

Elder Howlett

P.S. Alma Chapter 36 (one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

2015-01-26 My last cambio has begun.

Hey Everyone,
Well, this is it.  My last cambio has begun.  I will be staying in Colcapirhua.  My companion won't which is the surprise.  I'm getting a new companion named Elder Palma.  I don't know him but this will be his first cambio as a zone leader and I've heard that he only has a little over a year in the mission.

I'm very happy that I'm sticking it out here in Colcapirhua.  It's been raining a lot here.
Valencia kids
This week we went to the temple with a bunch of people from the ward including the Valencia family (minus Rinaldo because he had to work) and Denilson and the Pozo family and Lucia Colque.  The last two are less active members who we work with.  I love the temple!  I really love how it feels to be there.  The Valencias had done a little family history work and Alan got baptized for his grandpa.

Denilson has been going with us a lot to do visits.  He went all day long on Friday.  I gave him a copy of Preach My Gospel and he's been reading it.  He's getting less and less nervous and better at expressing himself.  He's a really great kid and it's a lot of fun to go visiting with him.

Samuel and Brenda came to church on Sunday.  Brenda is 24 I think and Samuel just turned 11.  Their mom, Maria, didn't make it to church this week but did last week.  She was there for our Sunday afternoon lesson though.  We teach them outside under a palm leaf roof shelter.  It's really nice.  They have dogs and cats and ducks and turkeys and chickens wandering around.  Maria really likes us but is super Catholic.  She's excited to meet my parents.
Alan Valencia
Alan brought his best friend Jerson to church yesterday.  Jerson loved the church and told us he wants to get baptized.  I haven't met his family yet so we'll have to see how they are.

Of the 4 siblings who were listening to us, the oldest 2 are doing far better than the younger two.  The older ones are Manuel and Maria.  They are both reading in the Book of Mormon and we watched the Joseph Smith video with them.  Classes are about to start up again in the university here so I'm worried that it's going to be harder to find them starting this week.

I love being a missionary.  I believe that by the gospel is by far the best way to live this life.  It's worth it to go to the work of changing your life to live the gospel.  I'm certain that anyone who does their best to live the gospel will eventually make it to the Celestial Kingdom.  I love my Savior and know He loves us.

Elder Howlett

2015-01-19 ... if she can win herself a testimony

Hey Everyone,
Well, this week was excellent.
Daniel Fernandez baptism
Daniel Fernandez finally got baptized. The other guy in white on the left is Hermano Ancalle, our ward mission leader.  I think it was very good that Hermano Ancalle got to baptize him.  We had a meeting later that night between the missionaries in our ward and him.  Hermano Ancalle bore a heartfelt testimony and told us that baptizing Daniel had reminded him of his own mission.  Since that time he's been more excited about working with us.

We are actually having a lot of success as far as working with the ward goes.  The ward is much more involved with us than it has been in any of my other areas.  The 3 companionships that are working in our ward right now are actually all very good missionaries which helps a lot.  We have had a lot of good activities with the ward with a lot of attendance.  We get lots of people to do visits with us and the ward is really helpful to our investigators when they come to church.

Kevin and Denilson in Denilson's house
Denilson went with us to do visits again.  He's only been a member about a month but the entire time we were walking around between visits he was asking us things about the mission because he's super excited to go.  He's 17 right now.  He took us to one of his friend's house where we had a great first lesson and his friend, Diego, accepted a baptismal date for the end of February. He bore a great testimony about how he'd come to know that this is the true church and how that had changed his life.

Rinaldo was confirmed and received the priesthood this week so that was pretty exciting.  He's officially started his new job where he gets home at 6 Monday to Friday and only works 'til noon on Saturday and not at all on Sunday.  

teachin' Marcelo
This Saturday we are going to the temple with members of the ward and with a bunch of recent converts for the first time including:  the Valencia family, Kevin Laura, and Denilson.  I'm excited for that.

This Sunday that's coming is the last transfer of my mission.  I had an interview with President this week and he asked if I wanted to stay a fifth transfer or go somewhere else.  I told him I want to stay.  He said that as long as the Lord doesn't need me anywhere else he can do that.  So hopefully the Lord doesn't need me anywhere else. 
The Valencias' next door neighbors, Maria (the mom) and Samuel (the 11-year-old son) came to church on Sunday.  That was awesome because Maria is super Catholic.  She is a really good person and really likes us though.  She would be a faithful convert if she can win herself a testimony.  Samuel loves the church.  He was coming before with the Valencia family.
zone in Pairumani
I think I mentioned Maria, Manuel, Adriana, and Daniela last week.  They are between 16 and 21 years old and intelligent.  We taught them a couple times again this week and for the first time Daniela and Maria came to church.  We have a Family Home Evening with them tonight and I'm making root beer floats for the treats because I found root beer cans for 1 boliviano each.  

25 mangos for 4 Bolivianos
Kevin's 2 younger brothers, Alan and Samuel, both came to church too.  They are pretty much ready to be baptized.  We are getting pretty much nowhere with the dad still though.

Alex Trigori was also in the church on Sunday and reads the Book of Mormon and prays every day and is set on getting baptized.  We are progressing a little with his parents though.  

Things are going great here in Colcapirhua.  I like my companion and my area.  It's a pretty area.  It's rained almost nonstop all week long.

I enjoy being a missionary.  It's a lot of fun to just visit people and meet people and talk about the gospel all the time.  I love Bolivia.  I love the gospel.

Elder Howlett