Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014-12-29 "All that's left is the temple now."

Hey Everyone,
Well this was one of the best weeks of my mission.

The Valencia family marriage, baptism, and reception went off without a problem on Tuesday.

The marriage only took like 20 minutes in an office.  From there we went directly to the church for the baptism.  We got everyone changed, took pictures, and started the baptism quickly.  We had almost 50 members in attendance at the baptism which is a lot, especially for a week day.

me with Rinaldo
I baptized Alan (the oldest son) and Rinaldo.  Elder Delgadillo baptized Selma and Oliver.  Hermano Wilson (who helped us out a lot with the family) baptized Benancia.  (That's who the people are in white in the photo.)  The water was really cold. Benancia took like 5 minutes walking down into the font.

After being baptized, all 5 of them bore their testimonies.  Benancia bore a beautiful testimony about how happy she is to have found the church and that her whole family did too.  I felt the Spirit strongly as she spoke. It is incredible to see the difference the gospel has already made in their family to this point and to also know how much change and happiness is still to come for them.

Immediately following the baptism, we held their wedding reception right there in the church.  We arranged the reception and actually got a lot of help from the ward.  They cooked food for 80, decorated, contracted a hairdresser for Benancia, and got a professional  DJ to do the music.  Our pensionista made a really good wedding cake too.  It was a good way to get the ward to know them.

getting Alan to smile for a picture
As we left the reception and I said goodbye to Rinaldo, he told me, "All that's left is the temple now."  That made me feel good that he understands there's still work to do and that he's excited to be sealed.  His wife is excited to be sealed too.

That same night President called to tell me that Elder Stuesher was going to have his appendix out right away.  The next morning, Christmas Eve, I went to replace his companion and stayed with Stuesher all day in the hospital.  We got to play some chess and watch Mr. Kruger's Christmas.  Hermana Mercedes called to wish me a Merry Christmas Eve and since I was in the hospital, she sent Junior with food.  It was a ton of food and really, really good.  There was chicken cooked in some kind of delicious sauce.

We helped Kevin prepare his first sacrament meeting talk this week. He was supposed to speak on Sunday but then the stake presidency came and released our bishop and called a new one and that took up all of sacrament meeting so I suppose this Sunday Kevin will speak.  The new bishop seems like a cool guy.

On Christmas we ate breakfast with a counselor in the stake presidency.  He made us pancakes.  Then for lunch we went to the Carbalhos'. We ate dinner with our own pensionista. Between the eating and then talking to our families on Skype it didn't leave much time.  We went to visit Jorge's family (see the picture) because he turned 12 on the 24th and wanted us to go to his house for a breakfast but I couldn't because I was in the hospital.  Then our last visit of the night was to the Valencia family.  We taught a lesson about the Holy Ghost since they were going to be confirmed soon.

me and my companion with Diego, Christian, and Jorge
Being with them felt more like Christmas at home than the other stuff we did during the day.  I bought them Christmas presents and took them that night.  After the lesson we opened the presents and they fed us and had lots of coke.  I bought a green laser for Alan and Connect 4 for Oliver and we all played with those a little.  Alan's a pretty smart kid for playing Connect 4 so that was fun.  Benancia told me like 10 times to say hi to my parents.  So "Hi" mom and dad from the Valencia family.

Anyway, I'm very happy about this week.  It was a ton of fun.  I love the Valencia family and I'm excited for them as members of the church now.  I sure am glad that I'm a member of this church.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.  Don't forget to pray.

Elder Howlett

P.S. Helaman 14:30  

2014-12-22 So, we...dressed him up as a guard and left him...

Hey Everyone,
This week was crazy busy.  Mostly getting ready for the Valencia wedding/baptism.

Last Monday we went to the airport to say goodbye to Jeremy.  He's in our ward and was leaving for a mission in Peru.  I couldn't help but think I'd be leaving from that airport in less than 3 months to go back home.  We spent that same evening going around to the people that Elder Delgadillo wanted to say goodbye to.  That got me thinking even more about how little of my mission is still to come.

It's really incredible how fast it's gone by.  I still have time to do a lot, but I have very little time in comparison to the time I had when I first landed here in Bolivia.  It's made it really easy to make the most of my time.  I think it's like coming to the end of the race and it's easier to just sprint to the finish line.  I naturally just want to do as much as possible every day because I can feel that the end of my mission is getting close.

Tuesday was an incredible day.  I went to downtown Cocha to drop off Elder Delgadillo and pick up my new companion.  At 11 o' clock that morning we were supposed to go with Benancia and Rinaldo and the witnesses to get their marriage papers signed and ready for the 23rd (it was the last day we could do it and still have them married on the 23rd).  At 10 o' clock I was waiting for my new companion to show up and Benancia called to say that she'd gone to try and get a copy of her birth certificate (which is needed to do the marriage paperwork) and they couldn't get her one because of some kind of error in her records.  They told her she had to go to the court in Quillacollo to get the error fixed. I offered to go with her.

My new companion showed up and we dropped his bags off at the house and went to meet up with Benancia.  We found the court and the line was so long to be attended to that we weren't even going to get in that day.  It looked like we weren't going to get it done for a marriage on the 23rd.  We decided to go to a different civil registry to try and get the birth certificate again though.  We found one and in 5 minutes had a birth certificate without any problem.  I don't understand how it happened but it was awesome.  

Juan Carlos as a security guard
However, we presented the papers and on Rinaldo's ID one of the numbers was worn off and they said that wasn't going to work.  They told us that during that day, the place to get a new one was working through lunch and they told us to go there. Hermano Rinaldo was working though and he had to go to get the new ID card made. So we called Hermano Juan Carlos from the ward and dressed him up as a guard and left him in Rinaldo's guard post for a few hours while we got the new card and then went to get the marriage papers signed.  We finally did at 4pm--five hours late and only an hour before the place closed but it worked.  It was amazing how many things worked out for us.

Hermano Rinaldo has to work on Christmas so we aren't going to be able to do the baptisms that day.  Instead we are going to do it directly after the marriage tomorrow.  I'm incredibly excited for that.  The family is super excited too.

We had a great lesson about the sacrament with Humberto and Natali (Carlos' parents) this week.  And then for the first time in the 4 months we've been teaching them, Humberto came to church,  We are hoping to build off of that momentum.

On Saturday one of Kevin's best friends, Denilson, got baptized.  Kevin brought another friend, Diego, to the baptism who lives in our area.  Diego came to church once too.  We got to talk a lot waiting for the baptism to start.  He seems like a really good guy and smart too.  After the baptism he asked me, "How's my baptism going to be?"  That's a good sign.

Kevin bore his testimony as part of the baptismal program.  It was awesome and I think really good for Diego to hear.  He talked about how much his life has changed since his own baptism.  He talked about how it's made everything better in his family as well.  I felt the Spirit strongly as he spoke.  

Daniel Fernandez also passed his interview this week.  He should get baptized on Friday.  I'll explain more next week.

Elder Terceros, my new companion, seems really good so far.  We are getting along really well and he seems very laid back.

I hope everyone has an awesome Christmas.  Be like Christ.

Elder Howlett

P.S. Luke 1:38, John 6:38  Mary was a chosen vessel.  When visited by the angel she submitted to her Father's will.  Christ would always do the same.  I do believe that He learned from his Mother's righteous example.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

2014-12-15 This was a super very excellent week.

Hey Everyone,
This was a super very excellent week.  

First off,  Hermano Oliver called me to say he and his family were going to get sealed!  The sealing was Wednesday.  It was as punctual as anything else in Bolivia.  They asked us to be there at 2:30 which we were and then we finally went into the temple at 6:00.

Since we were there for a long time just waiting, I started chatting with a group of young men who had come from Beni to do baptisms for the dead (about 1 full day of traveling from Cochabamba).  I met Alejandro who was baptized this year and found out that Ryan Neuhaus had baptized him.  He seemed like a really good kid.  His family got baptized too but they are already inactive and he saved up on his own to come to the temple.  He wanted me to tell Ryan that he's doing everything he taught him to do.  It's nice to meet people like that.

Eventually everyone who was supposed to come arrived and we went in.  First we went to do an endowment session since they weren't endowed yet.  I really like the chapel waiting room in the Cochabamba temple.  It has a giant picture of Jesus praying in Gethsemane.  From the celestial room they took us directly to the sealing room.  It was the first time I'd ever seen a husband-wife sealing or family sealing.  It was really cool.  I'm very happy for them.

Oli Valencia and his balloon animals
Second awesome thing--we went to visit the Valencia family who was supposed to get baptized on January 3rd.  However, they told us that they've decided that they want to get baptized on Christmas Day!  They told us they'd chosen the 23rd to get married  We've got a lot to do to make sure everything is ready for their marriage and baptism but I'm super excited!  The husband is doing great at not drinking or smoking and the wife finally realized that she needs to get married.  The kids are all excited and reading the Book of Mormon every day.  Tomorrow we are going with them and they are going to do the paperwork for the marriage.

We gave a great zone meeting again for this month.  The picture that I forwarded we took right after the meeting.  Seven out of 10 areas in the zone had changes last night.  They closed one area in the zone.  Due to the large number of missionaries who left, they closed 11 areas in the mission.  I stay in my area but my companion is leaving.  My new companion is going to be Elder Terceros from Santa Cruz.  I know who he is but I don't really know him.  He could be my last companion.  I've only got one more chance at being changed but now that I'm here for my second to last transfer I just want to stay until I'm done.

nativity in front of the temple
Things are going very well with Alan and Samuel (Kevin's younger brothers).  Alan finally went to church and finally told us that he believes he's gotten his answer that this is the true church.  I'm very excited that Alan got his answer.  He's been working at it for a long time.  If they keep doing well I do believe that the dad will give permission for them to be baptized.  Alan, especially, has made a lot of improvement in these last couple weeks.  It seems that he's grasping well how incredibly important the gospel is.  He's giving priority to God now and I think that's why his testimony is growing so quickly.

This week we went to a part of our area we'd never been to and that was fun.  There a little river that I didn't know about and it's another place where everyone seems to raise cows.  We met 3 families who we have appointments to visit during this week in the new area.

You should go to the temple, going this week reminded me how awesome it is.  There is a lot to learn there.  

Elder Howlett

Saturday, December 13, 2014

2014-12-08 mashed potatoes and gravy with turkey from a can

Hey Everyone,
This was a pretty good week.  It went by really quick.

We kinda celebrated Thanksgiving on Tuesday.  The sister missionaries in our ward made mashed potatoes and gravy with turkey from a can.  

Today we played futsol in the court at the church.  Last p-day we went and ate pique macho with Kevin and Ariel.  Kevin is doing really, really well church-wise.

This week the entire Valencia family came to church together.  The husband worked out an agreement with his company where he works a double shift on Saturday finishing at 7:00 am on Sunday and then doesn't have to work again until Monday. That agreement is sure for the rest of this year and he thinks he will be able to extend it next year too. We are still waiting on them to choose a marriage date but if they can get it done before year's end they are all excited to be baptized on January 3rd.

The Bustamante twins are still coming to church.

Sunday was the "Day of the Pedestrian" which means there were no cars.  That didn't help church attendance.

Gustavo got baptized.  I can't remember if I told you much about him.  He's 15 and was an investigator of the other elders in our ward.  Due to Elder Stuehser getting sick and some other odd circumstances, I've taught him quite a few times and I'd always see him at church.  He's a really nice kid.  His family came to church for all 3 hours yesterday too.  They have a 5-year-old daughter with leukemia so I think the church would be very good for them.

It is only 3 months until you guys come pick me up.  That's pretty crazy.

Yesterday we held a "Work of Salvation" training for the ward. The missionaries and ward mission leader spoke and we showed a few videos in an attempt to teach the ward the importance of all of us working together. We had 50ish people over 12 years old in attendance which was as good as we had hoped for. We made a big effort to try and get it to start on time and it started 35 minutes late which is better than normal but still crazy.  We confirmed with members beforehand if they were going to come and then starting 5 minutes after it was supposed to begin we called everyone who hadn't come yet which was everyone but about 8 people.  It makes it really hard to have activities here.

I'll try to figure when I'm gonna call for Christmas this week to let you know.  They gave us permission to choose Christmas or Christmas Eve this year.  I'm thinkin' that Christmas will probably be easier.

Don't forget to go the temple this week.  It's Christmastime so do something nice for someone.  Also you should do nice things for people during other times of the year.  Also, I'm missing the snow and cold weather, it has been so hot here I can hardly get to sleep.

Elder Howlett

P.S.  John 14:26

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

2014-12-01 ...it was more important to come to church.

Hey Everyone,
Well, this week was a little crazy because Elder Stuesher got sick and wound up in the hospital for a few days.  Since we share a ward, my companion stayed in the hospital a couple of days with him and I went with his companion and we worked in both of our areas.  We kept up pretty well with all of our investigators in both areas but it didn't leave much time to look for new people. I spent a ton of time going back of forth between the hospital picking people up and dropping them off and talking to the doctor to keep Hermana Hansen informed about what was going on with Steusher.  

As a result of the intercambios, I did end up teaching Denilson, Kevin's friend, twice during the week.  He's come to the church the last 2 weeks and he is excited to be baptized on the 13th of this month.  Kevin always goes with us to teach Denilson.  He's great in the lessons.  We taught them a lesson about missionary work, and they got excited to try to bring a mutual friend to church on Sunday.

However, when we visited Kevin again on Friday he told us that he wasn't even going to be able to go to church because his family was going to a lake on Sunday morning.  That was bummer.  But then on Sunday he and Denilson showed up and they brought their friend too.  He told us he'd thought it over and decided that it was more important to come to church.   Kevin is doing great.

We had 2 great lessons with the Valencia family this week. We taught the Law of Tithing and they readily agreed to obey that commandment. Hermano Reinaldo had gone nearly a week without drinking or smoking the last time we talked to him. We also taught the Law of Chastity and discussed marriage with them. They told us they would decide on a day to get married and tell us on Wednesday. The mom told us about how they hadn't gone to any church in the last 4 years but that she had been praying for a long time that they could all go to church as a family. She told us that us showing up at their house one day and her husband's sudden willingness to associate with a non-Catholic church is an answer to her prayers. I think it is too.  I really love that family and it is great to see how the gospel is helping them. We are planning on a January 3rd baptism for the family.

This Sunday there were a bunch of people missing.  I wound up teaching Gospel Principles 2nd hour and Young men's third hour and my companion taught the Sunday School.  It's kind of weird how that happens here.   I'm definitely much better a teaching classes now than I was before I began my mission.

I can't believe it's already December...  my last Christmas in the mission.  It's really hot here.  It's starting to rain a lot and heavily. I love the rain. I hope you are all having a great time getting ready for Christmas.  Don't forget to visit the temple.  I love how great I always feel coming out of the temple.

Elder Howlett

P.S. D&C 76:22

2014-11-24 I know God exists and I know that this is His church.

Hey Everyone,
This was a good week here in Colcapirhua. We had our ward talent show.   The missionaries were supposed to have 2 acts.  For one we did synchronized swimming (not literal synchronized swimming).   Then we had something else planned but decided we weren't gonna be able to the day before so I just sang hallelujah again but this time with piano accompaniment because Hermana Trujillo plays piano very well.  Alan and Carlos participated with the young men as did Kevin's friend who he brought to the church for the first time that night.  It was supposed to start at 6:30 but started just after 8.  Besides that, it did go pretty well though.

Actually, this week we found out that Alan, and Carlos are really good friends (both investigators) and that they are also both friends with Esteban Fernandez (member who just turned 12.  We ran into Alan and Carlos at the same time right when mutual was supposed to start and convinced them to go together.  They met up with Esteban there too and had a great time.  Things are going way better with the two of them since then.  They are both very shy but are much more comfortable going to the church together.  

They both go to the same school and their younger siblings had to dance on Sunday morning for their end-of-the-year presentation.  That meant that all of both of their families weren't going to church because their grade depends on that.  However they didn't have to dance so we offered to go pick them up at  Carlos' house to go to church.  They agreed but on Sunday morning we got there and Carlos was still asleep and Alan wasn't there.  We went to church disappointed.  However, only 15 minutes late they walked into church.  That made me very happy.  Alan hadn't really liked going to church up to this time but he got to Carlos' house and woke him up and they both came.  They stayed the whole time too.

Esteban has been great in helping us out too.  He went with us to visit Alan's family this week and he makes them feel comfortable when they are at church.  I've been trying to get the bishop to call quorum presidencies for the priests, teachers and deacons and they finally had a meeting to discuss it this week.  The young men's president told me that they are planning on calling Esteban to be the deacons quorum president which I think he'd do a great job with.

Knocking doors this week, we found some people who are part of the Zanabria family who I lived with in Alamos.  The mom wants nothing whatsoever to do with the church.  They have an 11-year-old son who is interested and went to church for several years because they lived with the Zanabrias before.  We taught him the Restoration and our plan is to try and get the mom to talk to us this week.

The Valencia family is doing well still.  We taught Word of Wisdom this week.  The dad has to work on that but he's willing to do it and he also told us that he now believes that this is the true church.  The kids are all doing great now, including Alan.  We also met Benancia's sister who lives in the same house this week.  We've started teaching her too and she says she will come to church on Sunday.  I love teaching them because the whole family loves us and are so happy whenever we come.  It's great to see them changing. 

Carlos' family is also suddenly progressing.  His mom,  Natali, said she received an answer to her prayers to know that it's the true church.  That's a huge step because it's nearly 2 years ago that she first spoke with missionaries.  She says she'll go to church on Sunday (she didn't this Sunday because she had to take her 6-year-old son to his school to dance).  Her husband also told us that this week he had his answer and wants to be baptized.  I feel like the biggest issue for him will be how much he works. He told us he is working on getting Sunday free.  We explained that they have to get married and they are currently planning to get married in December and they have a baptismal date now for the 3rd of January.  Carlos still says that he does not know if it is the true church even though he understands and knows much more about the gospel than his parents.  I think he'll get his answer soon though since he's attending church now.

We had a zone conference with president this week--actually 3 zones together.  Eleven missionaries from the 3 zones end their missions this transfer.  They all gave their last testimonies which gave me plenty of time to think about how little time I have left.  Next zone conference will be my last.  I love being a missionary.  I still have over 3 months to make the most of and  I'm super excited for how it's going with the Valencia family and Carlos' family.

Kevin brought his friend not only to the talent show but to church on Sunday.  His friend is golden.  I don't understand why the members don't do what the recent converts almost always do in inviting people to talk with us or go to church.

On Wednesday morning we went to help Hermana Herminia with her corn field in Collpapampa.  She made us boiled potatoes with cheese and hard boiled eggs with runny yokes.  I didn't know that was a way to cook hard boiled eggs and I'm not a big fan of it.  Then we went to the corn field and used a hoe to tear up the dirt and pull it around the corn plants.  We just did a part of the field that was huge and it took a long time.  I can't believe that they do that whole field by hand.  It was pretty fun.  She told us that to thank us, one day she is going to make us guinea pig for lunch.  I'm kinda excited for that.

I love being a missionary.  I love and am grateful for the gospel.  I know God exists and I know that this is His church.  I'm sure that he listens to our prayers.  I'm sure that through prayer we can access the  power of the Atonement and Divine aid to be able to do anything God needs us to.

I hope you have a great week.  Happy Thanksgiving.  Not really sure if Thanksgiving was this Thursday that passed or the one that's coming.  Oh well.

Elder Howlett

2014-11-17 Lots of people show their love here by giving us food.

Hey Everyone,
This was another great week.  I don't remember if I mentioned it but our new pensionista's husband was just called as our new ward mission leader which is very convenient.  We've been talking with him about what we can try and do to get the members more involved in our ward.  They aren't very involved at all.  
my area
One of the things I didn't realize before the mission is how well my ward at home functioned as it should.  Here some things just aren't working as they ought to.  For example, the missionary effort is almost purely powered by the 6 missionaries in the ward.  In fact the 6 of us account for a great deal of what happens in the ward--piano playing, teaching classes, giving talks, etc.  The work of salvation deals with baptizing, retention, activation, family history, and temple ordinances.  And according to the prophet, as of last year we should work hand in hand with the members.  That's just not happening here yet.

Hermana Herminia (and mote?)
There are some big issues that I've noticed in our ward.  One is home teaching.  About 1% (not a typo) of the families in the ward get visited.  It is nearly nonexistent.  The vast majority of the men who could have assignments don't and almost none of the young men do either.  After 3 weeks of talking about it with the bishop, Wilfredo, Kevin, and Luis Miguel got their assignments.  Trying to get them assignments, I came across the list of assignments for the whole ward and realized how little home teaching gets done. We have more than 600 members registered in the ward and less than 200 in attendance per week and I believe that home teaching will be essential in their reactivation.  It would be difficult for the 6 missionaries to visit that many people on their own, but since our ward does not have addresses (there are no street names or house numbers) it is completely impossible for us to even find them without the members' help.  I believe that home teaching would not only help the less active members but would also help with the work of salvation in general because the men would be more worthy.  It's not surprising that they don't go out of their way to share the gospel if they can't even complete a basic duty of the Priesthood.

Hermana Herminia (from Collpampa) loves us and loves our visits.  This week when we went she cut us up a watermelon, and then gave us each 2 oranges, and then brought us out mote (giant boiled corn) with cheese.  Then when we left she gave us 3 more cheese balls to take home.  Lots of people show their love here by giving us food.  Even though she does love us, we can't get her to come to church.  She goes to a different Christian church every Sunday.  I think we are getting closer though.  This week we are going to go help harvest (mom thinks he meant hoe) corn with her and her family who we don't know as well.  We hope if we win over the family a little bit too then they'll come visit the church as a family.

I've got an awesome new clothes washing system.  There is a lady who lives right across the street and washes clothes.  Once a week she comes over in the morning and washes out on our giant balcony and then leaves them hanging to dry.  Now I never have to worry about dropping off or picking up my clothes.

Things are still going well with the Valencia family (Benancia and Reinaldo). On Saturday night we had a lesson with them.  Reinaldo already has a new job! He didn't come on Sunday because he was working, but during this week he has to talk to his boss about what day he is going to take off and he is going to try and get Sundays off. If that works out it would be awesome. His new job also came with a pay raise which means that it will be easier for the mom to quit her Sunday job. At the end of our lesson, Benancia told us she wasn't sure how they could go to church the next morning because church starts at 8 and there was a mandatory neighborhood meeting from 7 to 10 with a 100 boliviano no-attendance fine. The family said they'd pray to be able to go though. The next morning in church the mom and her 4 kids walked in. Her sister had shown up from out of town and Benancia had sent her in her place to the meeting. That was a great experience for me and the family. I hope we keep seeing little miracles like that until they can all be baptized.

Junior came and did visits with us for that Saturday too.  We took up with the plan being that he could be of help to Alan (Benancia's 13-year-old son).  He did bear an awesome testimony about why he'd gotten baptized directed specifically at Alan.  Alan is really the only one who's not sure yet what to think about the church.

9 or 10-year-old kid herding the cows and sheep on his own.
I was pretty impressed by that.
The Bustamante twins didn't get baptized.  Bummer.  They still want to but their mom won't let them.  Hopefully sometime in the near future the mom will change her mind.

We talked to Fabian a couple times this week.  He affirms that he did get an answer from God that it is the true church but he didn't go to church again yesterday.  I'm not really sure where the disconnect is there.  We are going to work on getting him to church this week.

I hope you guys have a great week.  I hope you say good and meaningful prayers.

Elder Howlett

Friday, November 14, 2014

2014-11-10 ... it will be one of the most memorable moments of my mission...

Hey Everyone,
This was an awesome and fun week.  My companion and I are getting along really well and we are really comfortable with each other which makes everything easier and better.

First of all, my pensionista moved far away from my area which means we needed to switch pensions.  We found someone who is willing to cook for us as a service twice a day and it only took about 1 hour.  You could never do that at home.  Its hermana Joanna Ancalle.  She is a professional pastry chef and cooks delicious food.  I sent you a picture of a dessert in a glass before.  Now she is our pensionista.  She also lives right on the main road so it is a very convenient location too.  My old pensionista was not my favorite so I'm really happy that we got to switch.  Last night she made us enchiladas which were great.  She also made us a delicious apple pie a few nights ago.  When I thanked her and said it's the first time I've eaten pie in Bolivia, she boxed up half the pie and sent it home with me.  Anyway, I'm loving the pension.  It's also good because she had a somewhat active 19-year-old son who should be getting ready for a mission who we eat lunch with every day.  Hopefully we can have a good influence on him.

Last Sunday, Kevin and Samuel showed up just on time for church but it looked like they'd just rolled out of bed.  When we went to visit them during the week, Kevin explained why.  He'd hurt his foot playing soccer on Saturday night and when he woke up it still hurt so he decided to just keep sleeping and not go to church.  He said as he laid in his bed he couldn't sleep and then heard a voice that said translated to English something like, 'Kevin, get to church, you are going to miss out on good things.´  It was 30 minutes 'til church started and he woke up his brother, they threw on clothes and ran to the church.  He still got there before the majority of the members.  Anyway, he's doing great and I think we are going to go to the temple with him in the next 2 weeks.  Samuel is also doing great.  He reads the Book of Mormon every day.  As soon as his dad gives permission, he'll get baptized.

We had monthly leadership council this week.  My companion and I gave a 30-minute class based on how to use the ward council to help more investigators attend church.  It went well. 

On Saturday there was an event to celebrate 50 years of the Church in Bolivia.  It was mostly the members doing the traditional dances.  Each region of Bolivia has its own dance.  The missionaries could go if they took investigators.  We were supposed to go with Benancia's husband and kids but the husband got home late from work so we went with her kids and their grandma who only speaks Quechua.  That was fun Quechua practice.  It was a blast.  Since all of Cochabamba went, I got to see a lot of people I know.  I ran into Maria Terrazas  (who got baptized in Alamos) who I haven't seen in ages.  She'd moved to another ward but she told me she still goes every Sunday.  That made me happy because lots of people go inactive when they move here.  I also got to talk to Sergio Villca on the way out.  He used to accompany me in divisions in Villa Graciela.  He graduates from high school this year and told me he's gonna leave on his mission next year.  On the way back home, we were in a taxi/van thing.  I was sitting next to Oliver and he told me he wants to be baptized.  Now Benancia, Selma, and Oliver all want to be baptized.  
Junior, Isabelle, and Raul
We had an awesome lesson with the whole family when we got back.  We talked about the Sabbath day which looks like it will be the biggest change for the family since they don't have much money and both work some Sundays. However, when we taught the commandment we felt the Spirit strongly and they did too. Instead of justifying their working they just told us that they'd look for the way to change and that they know that God will help themI love that family and it's awesome to be able to teach a whole family together.

Michel and Katerine, the Bustamante twins, are still excited for their baptism.  The mom is not a member and isn't on board with them getting baptized this week.  The member dad and older sister are very on board. They were supposed to talk to the mom and explain why the twins should be baptized and tonight we are going to talk with the mom and see if they have her convinced so the twins can be baptized.  I really think it will work out.  I just don't know how we can get to the mom.  She is tough.  Every once in a while she listens to us but she just argues with everything we say.  Anyway I'm very excited for the twins and they are both very firm and sure in their decision that they want to be baptized.

Wilfredo got the Priesthood on Sunday and after church went with us to do visits.  He is doing great and loved going out to do visits with us.  He bore his testimony when we taught the Bustamante mom and it was the only time that she let one of us talk without interrupting to argue.
area of my mission we hadn't been in before
This was one of my favorite weeks in the mission.  I felt the Spirit a lot.  One of the best moments was the taxi ride home and chatting with Oliver.  I asked him why he wanted to be baptized when he told me he did.  Then I talked a little about how he needs an answer from God that it's the true church.  He asked me how I gotten an answer and I explained.  And as I did I felt the Spirit strongly and it got me thinking about how coming to know of the truthfulness of the gospel changed my life.  There really is nothing better nor more important than the gospel.  I am a happy and blessed person because of it.  Living the gospel is by far the best way to live this life.  And I told Oliver all that too.  I don't know what impact it had on him but it will be one of the most memorable moments of my mission and a moment I can look back on as a source of spiritual strength.  The Spirit confirmed what I already believe and know.

I love and miss you all.  I hope you have an awesome week.  I can't believe how fast time is flying by here in the mission.  Don't forget to make time to go to the temple.

Elder Howlett

P.S.  D&C 61:37-39

Monday, November 3, 2014

2014-11-03 I don't know what changed, but fasting must work.

Hey Everyone,
Well this was an excellent week.  Last week I wrote a little about Benancia and her family (the family we found last week and they came to church on Sunday).  This week we met the dad, Reinaldo, who had been out of town.  Normally the father is the hardest person to get to listen to us and the least likely to progress in a family so I was a little worried about meeting him.  Through his wife we'd set up an appointment with him even though she'd warned us that he considers himself Catholic and doesn't really like the hermanos (what they call any non- Catholic Christian).  When we showed up he was waiting for us and smiling and really nice.  We had an awesome lesson and he's an awesome guy.  We taught about the restoration and asked him why it would be important for him to know if what we'd taught was true.  He told us that he's been worried lately about being a better father and husband and that if this is the true church he's sure that is what would make him a better family man.  He is interested and understood well what we taught.  He told us he wasn't going to come to church yesterday because he had a prior commitment to do something with his extended family for the day of the dead.  He promised and assured us that he'll come this Sunday though and that he'll read what we left for him in the Book of Mormon.  His wife and kids did come again to church yesterday.  His wife also told us on Saturday that she'd received her answer that this is the true church.  She loves the church and so do her kids.  Her 13-year-old son, Alan, who was the least interested, enjoyed church so much that he was excited to go with the young men to clean the church on Tuesday and then invited one of his other friends to church too.  I'm very excited about this family because it is hard to find an entire family who are all interested in listening.

Side note about Halloween.  Pretty much doesn't exist here.  However the following 2 days, November 1st and 2nd, are Day of the Saints, and Day of the Dead.  What was explained to me was something like on the first day the heavens open and all of the spirits come back to earth and then the next day they all leave.  They make tables with pictures and names of their dead family members and then cover the table with the dead people's favorite foods.  They do have a similar to Halloween tradition.  The kids (lots but not all) go to houses and do Catholic prayers to win baked goods.  They teach the Catholic prayers in the schools here and then it's a requirement for their grade that they go do this trick-or-treating type deal so lots of the members do it too.

Kevin passed the sacrament for the first time this week.  His younger brother, Samuel, continues to come to church every week and we teach him 3 times per week.  He never misses a day of reading the Book of Mormon.  He wants to be baptized and will be baptized as soon as his dad gives permission.  

I've started teaching English for an hour twice per week to his other brother, Alan.  That's actually working out really well.  He'd only listened to us once before we started with English last week but this past week he sat in on all 3 of our lessons with his brother.  He also told us that he prayed to know if it was the true church for the first time this past week.  I think the English teaching is also helping us win over the dad a little more.  He really wants Alan to learn English and English classes are expensive here so he's happy with the classes.  I don't understand why the dad won't just come to church and pray about it.  He's always polite with us and he'll listen to us every once in a while and he says he'll come to church but he never does.  He just doesn't seem to care much about it.  I really think that he'll get baptized though and I feel like we are progressing with him even if it is ridiculously slow.  I really like his family. They are very nice and one of my favorite families to visit.
last day of soccer-- We are quitting our morning soccer playing as of this morning.  These are the people we played with for the last 3 months for  our half hour of exercise in the morning. 
I think I've told you about the Bustamante twins, Katerine and Michel, before.  Their father and sister were baptized almost a year ago and they've been listening to the missionaries and going to church regularly for over a year.  We don't understand why they don't want to get baptized and we've been visiting them regularly since I got here and we were running out of ideas about what to teach them so we decided to fast for them.  So we did this weekend and while we were fasting we went to an appointment with them.  We hadn't decided what to teach when we got there.  We wound up sharing a short lesson about the 10 virgins.  Then we decided to just go for it and invite them to be baptized like we have so many times before. We asked them to prepare themselves for the 22nd of the month.  They looked at each other and then whispered between themselves and then said, ¨We want to be baptized on the 15th.¨  I don't know what changed, but fasting must work.  I was so excited and their dad and sister were too.

I talked with Rodrigo from Potosì.  He's told me he's not going to church because he's in the cuartel, a military boot camp type thing that is semi-required by law for 17 or 18 year olds, and they do things on Sundays.  He did tell me that he's reading his scriptures and praying so that's good.  Hopefully he'll be out of the cuartel soon but I forgot to ask him how much longer he has.

Hermano Daniel used coca again so he didn't get baptized but it was just once and so that's still a lot better than it was before.  He'll get baptized in the coming weeks.

Fabian is a great new investigator that I'm not sure if I wrote you about last week.  This week we taught him about the Plan of Salvation.  He has a 20-year-old brother who passed away a few months ago, Talking about that, we wound up explaining baptisms for the dead a little too.  Fabian told us that he's received his answer that it is the true church.  He wants to be baptized and wants to get his brother baptized too.

Also last night was changes and I didn't have one.  I stay here with Elder Delgadillo.  I'm fine with that.

Anyway, this really was an awesome week and I'm looking forward to this transfer.  I think we can have a lot of success.  I hope you all are having a great time.  I hope you are all going to the temple.  I got to go do a session this week.  My first since January.   I loved it.  I didn't want to leave the Celestial Room because I know it'll be at least 3 months before I get to go back.  I miss being able to go to the temple more.

I love all the people we are teaching here.  It is so great to be a missionary and get to meet all these wonderful people.

Elder Howlett

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

2014-10-27 ...because she doesn't know which one is the true church

Hey Everyone,
Well we had a great week this week.

To begin, Hermano Daniel has almost made it 2 weeks without chewing coca.  If he makes it 2 weeks we are going to get him interviewed and he should get baptized this week.  He's also changed his attitude a lot.  He's suddenly much more committed to the church and gospel so I think he'll come through for his baptism.

primary after the primary program
I went on exchanges with Elder Steuhser in my area this week.  He's been in the mission almost a month.  It got me thinking about when I started my mission.  I can't believe how fast time has passed.  Today I've been a missionary for 19 months.

Elder Howlett, Samuel (Kevin's brother), and his friend with
their primary program bow ties
While I was with him we knocked a door where we met someone that said she was busy but that we could come back some other time.  She didn't seem that interested but the next day we went back.  Her older sister answered the door.  The person we'd met wasn't there but we explained who we were to the sister and she let us come in to talk to her family.  We talked to her and her 4 kids.  Her husband was in Santa Cruz. The mom told us that she belonged to another Christian church and so she hasn't had any of her kids baptized Catholic or in any church. She told she hasn't been going to her church for quite some time and that she's been thinking a lot lately that her kids should be baptized and that she should go take them to church every week. She said she'd come on Sunday. And they actually did all show up together on Sunday. And they loved it.  She has a 13-year-old son Alan, a 9-year-old son Oliver, an 8-year-old daughter Selma, and a baby.  I'm very excited for them.  The dad gets back this week and on Saturday we have an appointment to talk to him.  Hopefully he jumps on board with the rest of the family.  At church the mom told us that she'd been stressed and upset for a while but has felt much more at peace since our visit.
Wilfredo's baptism
Also we met Adeila and her 2 grandsons Deybi and Kevin.  The kids are very nice and like to sit and listen to us.  The grandma is really great.  The first time she talked to us she told us she always prays but she doesn't go to any church because she doesn't know which one is the true church.  That was before we had even begun teaching anything about the true church.  We ran into them today and they were friendly and excited for our visit tomorrow.  

This morning I went to have breakfast with Jairo Vasquez (convert from Villa Graciela).  He's doing well.  He goes to church and to seminary and today we talked about a mission.  He says he wants to go as soon as he turns 18.  He's 17 right now.  

Today we played soccer with all of our zone and another zone too. It was pretty fun but it was on a hot astroturf field in the sun.  I'm really tired from that now.

We had interviews with President Hansen.  It made me miss President Dyer.  President Dyer was an awesome interviewer.

Cambios are on Sunday.  I suppose that I'll probably stay and get a new companion.

Have an awesome week everyone and don't forget to pray every night.

Elder Howlett

2014-10-20 ...because he knew not where to find it

Lady Jane and her family on
 the day they completed 1 year
 (except for Yasmira the oldest
 daughter, who completes 1
year in February)

Hey Everyone,
It was another great week here. Wilfredo was baptized on Saturday without any issues.  In his testimony in his baptism he spoke about how he didn't belong to any church even though he'd gone to visit many others.  He talked about how right if felt when he started coming to this church and that he plans on following this path for the rest of his life.  I think he is an excellent example of someone who was kept from the truth simply because he knew not where to find it.  He won't be confirmed until next week because Sunday was a special Stake Conference to reorganize the Stake Presidency. 

zone at Incachaka
Elder Wadell came to the conference to preside and spoke about the temple as did President Jensen (Cocha temple president).  That was perfect for Luis Miguel and Kevin who have their temple recommend interviews tomorrow and who we recently taught about the temple.  I'm excited to go to the temple with them.  I love the temple.

when the fog came in at Inca
Samuel (Kevin's little brother) also came with Kevin to the conference and we went back together afterward.  I asked him how he felt about baptism and he told me he wants to get baptized already.  His date is the 22nd of November.  His brother Alan isn't doing as well though.  He wasn't at our appointment and so we didn't see him this week.  We have a family home evening planned with them for this week to see if we can get the brother and also the dad more interested and (especially for the dad) to get them to like us more.  The dad's always polite with us and supportive of Kevin but it's going nowhere with him still.

We had 3 baptisms in the zone on Saturday which is a considerable improvement on what we've been having.

I don't remember if I told you, but Hermana Viqui (Gerardo's mom) got her endowments.  I saw them when we went to do a baptismal interview in the Alamos chapel.

 Also, we took the zone to Incachaka this morning.  We left at 6am and everyone was there on time which really impressed me.  Incachaka is on the way to but before Chapare.  It was a blast.  It is really dense jungle and smells really good.  There was no fog until about 10 when we watched it come in super fast.  It was really cool looking.  We saw a waterfall and also the devil's throat which is basically a small waterfall inside a stone room type thing but the rock is bright red.  It was cool.  We played capture the flag again in a little field after the hike to see the other cool stuff.  It got so foggy in the field that we couldn't see to the other side which was cool.

I hope you all have an awesome week.  Being a missionary is the best.  I love being here.

Elder Howlett

P.S.  D&C 123:12