79 part two: Para siempre Dios este con vos

Well. I didn’t think today was ever coming. It’s kind of like Christmas- you’re always like “It’s almost Christmas!” but then suddenly it IS Christmas and it always takes you off guard.

Today I’ll be spending the evening in the mission home with President and Sister Mullen. Tomorrow I’ll be watching California disappear from a plane window (unless I have an aisle seat, that is.) It’s really surreal.

The time has gone by so fast. My heart breaks a little bit every time I think about going back to “normal life.” My mission has easily been the best thing that’s happened in my life. I’ve come to understand and appreciate the gospel in a way that I never did before. I’ve been blessed to meet some of the most wonderful people and help them in the only way that really matters, in helping them to come closer to their loving Heavenly Father through our Savior Jesus Christ’s atonement.

I’m so thankful that God changed my plans and prompted me to put my “life” on hold while I came out here to serve Him and His children. I’ve grown in so many ways and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

I also know that there’s a time and a season for all things. As sad as I am to be finishing this chapter of my life, I look forward to more great things happening in the future. Something I like to tell myself- kind of a motto or something I guess- is “Good things keep happening.” Just because one good thing draws to a close, doesn’t mean that all good things are over with. More good things keep coming. God has a plan- a plan of happiness! He’s got a ton of great things waiting for each one of us. When we live the way He’s outlined in the gospel and with the commandments, we’ll find the greatest measure of that happiness.

I know that God places specific people in specific places to touch other people’s lives. I’ve had the blessing of being on both sides of that during my mission. Wherever you are, there is always someone nearby that you can help and bless. Thank you to all of you who have kept me in your prayers. I’ve felt that support, especially when times have gotten hard. God hears our prayers and answers, whether they be in behalf of others or just a plea for comfort.

To those of you in Idaho, I’ll see you soon. Please try to make it a little less frigid- I’m concerned that I’ll catch a cold as soon as I step off the plane. Haha.

To those of you still serving here in California, keep it up! Enjoy every minute and don’t blink or it will all be gone.

I love you all dearly. “God be with you till we meet again.”

Hermana Deryk Howell

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79 part one: Getto Christmas

This one’s just pictures of Christmastime in Hemet.

Enjoy.

Family photo in our classy Christmas hats in our apartment. Christmas decor donated by members… except the fireplace. We got that with our hats at the 99 cent store.

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Picture with Santa at the ward Christmas party. He has magic hands?

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Our neighbor’s “Santa trap”

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Feliz Navidad.

78: I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22

So I’m about out of time for emailing this week…

We had a pretty good week. We found a couple new investigators and got back in touch with a few people that we’d lost contact with. We’re seeing lots of miracles and December looks like it should be a good month in our area.

Yesterday I had my birthday. It was nice. We had dinner with the V family and they had a cake for me and everything. It was really nice. Then Hermano V gave me a nice lecture about how I need to prepare for my “next mission” and find an eternal companion. Haha oh boy.

We also got invited to our investigator’s 71st birthday party. That was pretty cool. We talked to a bunch of his family members and had a nice time eating mole. (Mo-lay. It’s a weird chocolate-and-chile sauce with chicken, not a subterranean mammal.)

Sorry again that the email is so short this week. Time got away from me!

Hasta la proxima,
Hermana Howell

77: Pavo and a Christmas video

Buenos dias, hermanos y hermanas!

This week was a good one. Well, every week is a good one, especially when you’ve embarked in the service of your Savior. And even more so after Thanksgiving when EVERYONE is excited about CHRISTMAS!

Thanksgiving was great this year. We had dinner with the G family. Hermana G has been less active for a good while, and we’ve been helping her and her (20 and 22-year-old) daughters come back. They’re super cool. And Hermana G is an EXCELLENT cook. The turkey she made was one of the best ones I’ve ever had. The flan was really good too. And her daughters made a carrot cake from scratch that was SO GOOD. It was awesome.

Afterward we went to the stake center to play soccer with all the missionaries in the stake. It got pretty intense… so I mostly just sat on the sidelines and watched because I’m a coward. Haha. It was still a good time, talking to other missionaries and stuff.

This week we worked a lot with a newer investigator, C. She’s the sweetest lady and SO prepared for the gospel. She’s super sensitive to the Spirit and loves the Savior. We invited her to be baptized and she accepted immediately. Later she said “I just felt it, so I said yes. I always do what feels right.” She came to church on Sunday and loves everything we teach her. I won’t be here for her baptism on the 21st, but I’m super happy and excited for her! We’re hoping to start teaching her husband too this week.

On Saturday, we received training from President Mullen about the Church’s Christmas initiative, “He is the Gift.” If you haven’t seen the video yet, you can watch it at Christmas.mormon.org (or navidad.mormon.org in Spanish). It’s beautiful and is about how we can focus on the greatest Christmas gift that the world has ever received. We’re encouraging everyone to share it with their family members and friends to help the world remember to keep the Christ in Christmas. There are even “He is the Gift” pass-along cards in the December Ensign, so that everyone can get involved. It’s really cool. :]

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After the training, I had my outgoing interview with the mission president. It was weird. Not the interview itself, just the fact that I was having it. President Mullen gave me advice about going back to normal life, we talked about my goals and plans and stuff, and he encouraged me to continue working hard for the last two weeks of my mission. That’s so strange to me. I feel like I just got here. I remember when I was in my first area, in Moreno Valley, I had a dream that I just woke up one day and my whole mission was over and I was going home. In my dream, my 18 months were over, but it had only felt like 3. I had felt disoriented and confused. Now I feel like that dream is coming true- It’s really hard for me to believe that it’s been a whole year and a half. I look back and try to see where all that time went and I just can’t wrap my head around it. BUT I’m not done yet, and I’m going to see some great miracles before I’m gone!

Until next week,

Hermana Howell

P.S. From the Mom… Deryk will be speaking in church on December 21 at 9 a.m. There will be an open house that same day from 1-3 at our home. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions! We CAN’T WAIT!!!

P.P.S. Pavo=Turkey.

76: Another week in paradise

This week was fairly uneventful, besides the usual missionary stuff.
We did see like six different crazy people just dancing on the side of the road yesterday. Also a guy riding a bike with his fishing pole. (There is nowhere to fish here, as far as either Sister Spencer or I are aware.) Hemet is a pretty interesting place.
We had a nice multi-zone conference with President and Sister Mullen and the Assistants on Tuesday. We talked a lot about finding new people to teach, which is good because our teaching pool has been evaporating of late. We’ve been trying to put the things we learned into practice and  we expect to soon see the fruits of our faith and our labors!
I also got volunteered to do the musical number for the “chapel portion” of multi-zones. I sang “Abide With Me; ‘Tis Eventide” in Spanish. It’s one of my favorite hymns, and I believe the Spanish translation is even more beautiful. Since my voice is WAY out of shape from being on a mission for a good while, I don’t think I did it justice. But it was still nice and the Spirit was there, and that is what actually counts.
Another cool thing that happens at multi-zones is the “incoming and outgoing testimonies.” All the missionaries that came in the last 2 transfers get to stand up and share their testimonies. Then all the missionaries that will be leaving in the next 2 transfers get to stand up and share theirs. It’s always really cool… except this time I had to stand up. It’s so surreal to me- I feel like I JUST BARELY gave my incoming testimony. The time has gone by SO FAST and I can’t believe how little time is left. I got pretty emotional as I shared my feelings about the gospel and this sacred work of sharing it with our Heavenly Father’s children.
Luckily I still have a good few weeks left to work myself to the bone. I’m determined not to “die” prematurely and to endure to the end! My time here is so precious and so limited, and I’m going to make the most of the last three weeks I’ve got to wear my name next to Christ’s on my chest and “invite others to come to Christ.” And there’s no better time of year than now, as Christmas draws nearer and people’s minds start to turn to the first Christmas gift- our loving Heavenly Father’s only begotten Son. (The Church is going to put out a SWEET video, like the Easter “Because of Him” video for Christmas, called “He is the Gift.” We got a sneak peek of it this week- I think it’s going to be on YouTube on Dec 7? Not exactly sure on the date.)
Anyways, that’s about it for this week. Have a great Thanksgiving! Special birthday shoutout to Elder Trevy- put some candles on the turkey or something. :]
Hasta la proxima,
Hermana Howell
fotos: Hemet zone
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Behold the Dragon Wagon
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I’ll just leave this one up to your interpretation.
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75: Heavenly Father loves us!

This week was quite a learning experience. Sometimes Heavenly Father needs to remind us to be humble, and that’s what He did to me this week.
The week started off with our teaching pool basically evaporating. V’s current treatment means that we can’t teach or visit him until around Christmastime, and another of our more solid investigators started avoiding us for some reason unknown to us. That left us with just one family that we’re teaching, and they were too busy this week to meet with us. So we basically had nothing and nobody to teach.
By Friday night, our “numbers” were pretty bad, and we got a firm talking-to from our mission leaders. We were left feeling really discouraged and not knowing what to do.
I realized that there wasn’t anything that I could do that we weren’t already doing. That was discouraging, too. Then I was reminded that I don’t have to do it all.
Saturday was one of the most miraculous days I’ve seen in my mission. God truly is aware of us and our individual needs. We were led to two new people to teach that day. One of them has been taught by missionaries for a while, but really wants to make the Church a bigger part of her family’s life. She seems really cool and I’m very excited to be teaching her!
Little things kept happening all day that just showed us how much God loves us. We accidentally walked right into 2 “member present” lessons, when the family we were having dinner with had their friends over, and when we decided to return a Tupperware that we’ve had for an embarrassingly long time- and the Hermana’s brother (not a member) and his family were visiting. The whole day was filled with little tender mercies- like that we had unlimited tacos de papa (potato tacos) for dinner. SO GOOD. Between Sister Spencer and I we ate 17 tacos- and we would’ve kept going but we decided that it wouldn’t be the healthiest choice to make. (Family, I’ve decided that that’s what I’m going to make for you first after I get home. Get excited.)
The miracles didn’t stop there, though. On Sunday, we had some people unexpectedly show up at church! Really unexpectedly. They had told us last week that they were going to be in San Diego on Sunday, and we hadn’t really talked to them since then. When I saw them coming down the hallway towards the chapel, it took a little while for it to register in my head who they were! I was all, “Who are the new people in our ward?…. oh wait, those are our investigators!” I think they enjoyed church though, and we’ll be seeing their whole family on Tuesday.
We also had the opportunity to teach the lesson in Relief Society this week. We taught about how important it is to love one another. It was a great reminder to me that we are all God’s children, and He just wants us to be nice to each other. Just like any parent. It reminded me of when I was little and would fight with my siblings and my mom would make us sing “I love you, you love me” from Barney. Why is it so hard for us to just love each other sometimes? When we focus on the good in people (which isn’t really that hard) you’re just happier and you love everyone and you’re the kind of person that people like to be around! It’s simple. Putting it into practice, not so much. But when we trust in God and ask for His help, I KNOW it’s possible. It was a great lesson and the Hermanas all loved it and participated a lot, so Sister Spencer and I didn’t have to do too much speaking in Spanish in front of everyone. It was great.
Love you all tons! Have a great week and make good choices!
Hermana Howell

74: We be jammin’

There’s not a whole lot to report this week. Sister Spencer and I are still working hard and jamming to bluegrass hymns and Alex Boye’s “I Know that my Redeemer Lives” because it sounds like the two guys singing are just trying to one-up each other and it’s HILARIOUS.
Our investigators are doing pretty well… except V. Because of his cancer treatments, he’s radioactive right now and can’t have human contact for 40 days. Which is a huge bummer. He’s such a sweet guy and has been progressing so well… We’re going to try and continue contact with him via phone and stuff though. :[
Right now we’re actually teaching a TON of less-active members. We keep finding these people that got baptized like 30 years ago and want to come back now. It’s crazy. But it’s great too. I’m really coming to love these people a lot. My perspective on less-active work has changed a lot. It may not look as good in our numbers, but I know it’s just as important as visiting non-members. These people need the gospel too! It’s great getting to see their progress and their spirituality increasing. :]
Love you all tons! Hasta la proxima, (Until next time,)
Hermana Howell

73: Firesides will SAVE THE WORLD.

Transfers rolled around again this week, and…

Nothing happened.

Sister Spencer and I are staying here in Hemet for my last transfer. I’m really excited about it. We’ve got some really great people that we’re teaching right now who should be getting baptized in the next month or so and I love working with Sister Spencer. We’re both old ladies/gangsters at heart, so we fit right in here in Hemet.

The weather is starting to cool off a little bit- I had to wear a light jacket a couple of times last week. Haha going back to Idaho in the dead of winter is going to be a struggle!

We also made history this week in the Hemet stake. One of the members in the San Jacinto ward somehow managed to get all the missionaries to pull together a fireside. He was so excited about it- Brother D  LOVES firesides, and I think he’s convinced that firesides are what is going to prepare the world for the second coming. So over the course of the last transfer, he’s been delegating to the missionaries different aspects of pulling together a fireside, and it finally happened last night. It actually turned out really nice. We did a “music and the spoken word” presentation of the first missionary lesson, the Restoration. Some missionaries taught the principles and then we had musical numbers to go with each principle. I sang “Redeemer of Israel” in a duet with another sister and accompanied a few other numbers. It was pretty good, but I forgot right up until I got up to sing that I get nervous and then my voice gets tight and then it’s hard to hit high notes- especially when my voice is SUPER out of shape from lack of practice. It turned out okay and my voice only cracked two or three times, and I don’t think the microphone quite picked up my pounding heartbeat. Haha. Really though, the fireside was a big success and the Spirit was really strong. It was a neat experience.

We also saw two castles this week. One was the Camelot- a retirement castle. The other was the famous Scientology castle. Rumor has it that they also have a pirate ship somewhere around here.

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Well, hasta luego. Escribanme si me quieren! Si no me quieren, escribanme anyway. ;]
(Google translate is a little sketchy… this is the translation… or I guess it could be the author…. )

Well, write me if I want to ! If you do not want me, write me anyway.

Hermana Howell

72: Ghetto safari

Things are going great here in Hemet. There’s nothing too exciting to report this week, but our investigators are doing AWESOME and we have 3 people preparing to be baptized on specific dates in November (including V! He’s the COOLEST. We’re doing an FHE with him tonight at a member’s home.)

I can’t believe how fast the time is going by. This is the last week of the transfer already, so who knows what will happen! Heavenly Father knows. I always think I know and then I’m often dead wrong. It’s fine. Most likely I’ll be staying here… and I really want Sister Spencer to stay here too, but I don’t know how likely that is. We’ll see.
In other news, Sister Spencer and I discovered ostriches as we were driving to an appointment. There are also zebras here. Apparently Hemet is like an African safari- but with more taco shops and thrift stores. (Speaking of thrift stores, I got a SWEET sweater last week. I might use it on Halloween this week when Sister Spencer and I dress up as old ladies.)
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Con mucho amor,
Hermana Howell

71: Teaching by the Spirit

Big things happened this week!

We had a nice visit from Elder Evans, of the 70. It was so great. He talked to the whole mission, in 2 groups. I got to see him and all my friends that are serving in MoVal and Menifee. He talked to us about teaching by the Spirit and not “some other way.” It was a real eye-opener and it kind of abolished some common practices in our mission. Like OYM-ing in parking lots. I can’t really say that I’m all that upset about that. It wasn’t my favorite. He also talked about the importance of being obedient to ALL of the rules in the white handbook so that we can have the Spirit with us to find the people that are just waiting for the gospel. It was really powerful and I came away feeling very motivated and excited about missionary work again. It really is SO COOL, what I have the chance to be doing right now. I get to spread the news that God loves us each SO MUCH and that He still talks to us today!

I also got to go on exchanges this week. Sister Spencer went to my old stomping grounds in MoVal, and Sister Dulong came to spend a day in Hemet with me! We taught some great lessons and learned a lot from each other. I love it when I have the chance to learn from other missionaries. Sister Dulong is great and teaches really well, and she really shows her concern for the people she’s teaching.

We picked up a bunch of new people to teach this week- including a guy who used to live in Idaho and Utah and said that if he was born again, he’d definitely be a Mormon. And a part-member family that just moved here recently that had been talking to missionaries before and have been to church a bunch of times. And a 14-year-old girl whose friends invited her to mutual last week. She said she loved it and would like to be baptized.

We had another AWESOME lesson with V and taught about the first principles and ordinances of the gospel which are: first, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, repentance; third, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and fourth, laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. And then enduring to the end. It was so great- it was exactly what he needed right then. It seemed like at the beginning of the lesson, he wasn’t so sure if he was ready to keep going forward learning about the gospel, but the Spirit was SO STRONG and by the end he was solidly determined to keep going. He came to church again this week and one of the talks was just perfect for him. He is SO cool.

Love you all tons! Make good choices and write me letters!
Sister Deryk Howell