7-31-13 She has arrived safely in California

I received a sweet wake up call yesterday from our beautiful missionary Hermana Howell! She didn’t have much time to talk before she boarded the plane, but it was wonderful to hear her voice. She is happy.

This morning Sis. Smart, who is the California Riverside mission president’s wife, (she is the “mom” for all the missionaries) called to let me know that Deryk arrived safely in California. Sis. Smart told me “Sister Howell is so friendly! She has already made several friends (she traveled with 2 Sisters and 1 Elder from her zone in the MTC) and is so smiley and happy.” She also spoke of her sweet testimony. Apparently they had a chance to bear testimonies last night before they left for their assignments.

Deryk will start out serving in Moreno Valley, which is just a couple of miles east of Riverside. Her companion and trainer is Hermana D_____ who is from Italy!! I can imagine that Deryk will love that so much! They will be speaking a lot of Spanish together!

Sister Smart posted some pictures on the Riverside California Mission Blog today (some inserted above). She does a wonderful job of keeping things updated… I have been stalking it for a couple of months already and am so excited to see my missionary among those faces!   http://riversidecaliforniamission.blogspot.com

Just a reminder that Deryk’s address is:

Sister Deryk Blair Howell
California Riverside Mission
5900 Grand Ave.
Riverside, CA 92504-1328

If you send anything, letters or packages, through the US Postal service, they will automatically forward it directly to her, wherever she is in the mission. If it is sent UPS, Fed Ex or anything else, it will sit at the Mission Home until someone can get it to her. Just FYI. =]

Thank you for all your love and support!
The Mom

Week 5- Ya salgo del CCM? NO LO CREO. (Now I leave the MTC? DO NOT BELIEVE.)

I can NOT believe that this is the last email I’ll be sending from the MTC. Time has flown by like craycray.

I leave for California next Tuesday morning and then I’ll be in California for 17 months- it’s NUTS! I’ve learned SO MUCH in these short weeks here, and I feel about as prepared as I ever will. I’m a little nervous to be trusted with telling actual people about the Gospel in a language I’ve only been speaking (badly) for a little more than a month. But as Nephi said, “I know that the Lord God giveth no commandment to the children of men save he hath prepared a way that they might accomplish it.” (Or something very close to that. I don’t have my scriptures right here with me at this moment.)

This has been an interesting week. I have been working on exercising my faith and I’ve gotten several opportunities to do so. AND IT’S CRAZY HARD. There’ve been some tough things that I’ve felt impressed to do, and I don’t know what’s going to come of it, but I’m trying my best to put my trust in the Lord. I know that He loves me so He would never ask me to do something that’s going to lead to unhappiness, so I know that everything’s going to work out SOMEHOW… I just don’t know how yet. And I have to get to the point where I’m okay with that. And the only way I’m going to get any help with that is by exercising more faith and praying and reading the scriptures and praying and praying some more. Todo sera bien. (All will be well.)

Other than that, it’s been a pretty uneventful week. I’ve discovered that Utah is super weird and EVERYTHING shuts down for Pioneer Day- including buses and post offices. Which is a major pain because The Day That Utah Shuts Down is on my P-Day so I can’t even get on the bus over to the Main Campus to send a package and get supplies from the bookstore or make copies or ANYTHING. Our branch president said that we could go tomorrow for an hour or so though, so that’s good.

I also just LOVE Espanol. It’s a beautiful language and I’m really starting to get the hang of it! Yesterday we had a 40-minute lesson in the TRC (where we talk with members as themselves instead of as fake investigators) and I was able to express pretty well my ACTUAL FEELINGS and tell a personal experience and even when the discussion didn’t go where I had thought it would, I still had the words to keep up in the conversation! And the ladies we met with were talking crazy fast and I understood most of what they were talking about! It was SO GREAT! We talked about modern-day prophets and how it’s important to seek their teachings, because they’re scripture too! We also talked about how much we love different apostles and prophets and how they all have different ways of speaking to touch the souls of different kinds of people. I bore my testimony of Joseph Smith not just as a prophet, but also as an awesome guy that I can’t wait to meet after this life. (Seriously, I just LOVE Joseph Smith. I feel like we’d be super tight.)
I’m afraid I forgot my camera again this week, so no pictures… lo siento. (Sorry.)
Les quiero!

Hermana Howell

PS- As I said, I’m leaving the MTC forever on Tuesday, so letters/packages that would arrive on/after the 29th probably should be sent to my other address in Riverside, CA. (It’s on my facebook and somewhere on the blog. Or you can contact my mom for it.)
Deryk’s mission address:
Hermana Deryk Blair Howell
California Riverside Mission
5900 Grand Ave.
Riverside, CA 92504-1328

Week 4 HOOOOOLLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAA!!!

             (that’s not to be pronounced as ‘holla.’ I’m speaking Spanish, not G. Haha)

This week has gone by SO CRAZY FAST. I feel like I was just here on the computer emailing home yesterday! Now I’m 4 weeks in and I only have a little under 2 WEEKS LEFT here in Provo! It’s super surreal. I’m nervous, because I feel SUPER unprepared to go and do all this for real, but I know that I could be here training for my whole 18 months and I’d never feel quite ready to go and do. But I know that I’ve got the Lord on my side and He’s not going to let me mess up His work. Haha.
Spanish is coming along great, but I’m still a far cry from fluent. (What? You’ve been speaking Spanish for a whole 4 weeks and don’t sound like a native speaker yet? SHAME ON YOU.) I can usually find SOME way of saying what I want to in a conversation or lesson. IN FACT I gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting this week in Spanish! It was pretty cool. Our branch president has us each prepare a 5-minute talk in Spanish for the week’s topic and then at the beginning of the meeting they call on 2 missionaries to give their talks. This week the topic was “Endure to the End” or “Perseverar Hasta el Fin.” I read a (rather lengthy) scripture and talked with poorly conjugated verbs, but I DID IT! And a native-speaking visitor (related to a member of the branch presidency, I forget which) complimented me on it, so that’s something. :]
A funny thing happened this week. On Mondays we have our service activity, and my district was assigned to sweep the walkways and stairwells around the class-apartment buildings. We split up, Hermanas/Elderes, and swept like crazy people. We Hermanas made up a round about sweeping and sang it all around campus (to the tune of that “I love the mountains…” song that we sang at Girls’ Camp that one year.) Meanwhile, the Elders came up with the premise of a musical about a sweeper who has big dreams about driving a street sweeper. They told us about it later and we loved the idea… SO during “personal exercise” time in our apartment, we came up with the rest of the play. We wrote the plot, cast everyone in the district as a character, and I even wrote a SONG for it! We’re going to put it on Broadway once we’re off our missions.
Sweeper Joe- (Played by Elder A_____) A humble sweeper at Sweeper, Inc. who dreams of someday driving his very own street sweeper. Fell in love at first sight with Violet.
Benedict- (Played by Elder B_____) The British best friend who helps him get the girl. Also a sweeper at Sweeper, Inc. Is way creeped out by Daisy.
VP Marcus- (Played by Elder F_____) The power-crazy Vice President of Sweepers, Inc. who has it out for Sweeper Joe because he’s also in love with Violet.
Mr. Osborne, CEO.- (Played by Elder O______) The CEO of Sweeper, Inc, and father of Violet. He’s too distraught by his wife’s recent death to realize that his VP is out of control.
Violet- (played by Hna B_____) Got her job as the receptionist at Sweeper, Inc. because of her dad. A little ditzy, but super sweet. Fell in love with Sweeper Joe when their eyes met as they both picked up a dropped broom.
Daisy- (Played by Hna G_____) Loyal best friend of Violet and avid fangirl of Benedict. Got a job as a sweeper because she wanted to be closer to him.
Little Orphan Annie- (Played by Hna V_____) “Oh, that little red-hea-” “No, the other one.” Was found on the streets by the sweepers , who subsequently took her in and gave her a job as a sweeper.
Mariposa Serrato Coleman Gonzales de los Flores, or “Maria” -(Played by Hna Howell) The immigrant who only rarely speaks very broken English. Always knows what’s going on and tries to clear things up, but just can’t communicate with anyone and gets VERY frustrated.
The song I wrote was for Daisy to sing about Benedict, entitled “I’m not Creepy.” It was SO funny- I sang it for the Elderes in the cafeteria… Elder B_____ was so creeped out that he almost wouldn’t talk to me for the rest of the day. Haha. I keep hearing the other Hermanas from our zone singing parts of it… I feel famous.
ANYWAY, I’ve definitely had some GREAT spiritual experiences as well. I genuinely love my “investigadores” and I get SO excited to see them progressing! Ryleigh is going through some hard stuff right now, but she wants to join the Church… she just wants to be SURE that the timing is right. I think we’ll be able to set a date in our next visit! I’ve seen how much she’s changed and come to trust the Lord and how much happier she is for it. It’s absolutely wonderful! And our other investigator, Carlos, accepted the challenge to live the Word of Wisdom last time we saw him, and he’s been reading the Book of Mormon- he says he really likes it! I think he is very close to knowing for himself that la Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias is truly God’s church on the earth today. He really liked what we said about having a Prophet on the earth today, and I think he believes it to be true. I’m so excited for both of them!
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. I LOVE that this Gospel is so founded in personal revelation. We receive answers FOR OURSELVES to know if this is the true Church and Gospel. I’m not selling anything. I’m not talking people into anything. I’m not really even doing the teaching- it’s ALL through the Holy Ghost! All I do is invite people. I tell them what I know to be true, and then invite them to come to know it for themselves. It’s SO WONDERFUL! I’m not even here to necessarily baptize people. My purpose is to invite others to come closer to Christ. All I do is share God’s love for His children and show them what He and His Son have done for them, and invite them to act on it. OHHHHHHHHH I LOVE MISSIONARY WORK!!!!!!!!!
I love you all so very much!
Hermana Howell

7-10-13 Week 3! Halfway done… (with MTC training)

Buenos tardes, familia y amigos!

I can’t believe it’s been 3 WEEKS already since getting here at the MTC! It has gone by SO FAST!

Fourth of July here was pretty cool. We stopped our study/class time early and went to the chapel to watch a short devotional/fireside thing. THEN WE WATCHED AN ACTUAL MOVIE. Not a missionary video, like the Testaments (which I LOVE by the way and we haven’t even watched it yet), but a REAL-LIFE MOVIE called 17 Miracles. I cried a lot because it’s a crying movie but IT WAS A MOVIE.
Afterwards we went outside for ice cream and tried to find a gap in the trees to watch the fireworks that were going off at the BYU stadium. We could kind of hear Kelly Clarkson singing some words, but we couldn’t tell what they were. The fireworks were great, but I didn’t manage to get a decent picture of them.

A terrible thing happened yesterday at our “gym time” (which here at the West campus means “go play outside.”) Poor Hermana V______, mi compañera, was playing volleyball and hit the ball wrong. We were worried that she broke her wrist. So she and I went on an adventure to the BYU urgent care in the “real world” to get it x-rayed. Luckily they didn’t see anything terrribly wrong. We find out for sure this evening. For now she just has it wrapped in a brace and tries not to move it. Pobrecita.

SO our “investigators” are doing great! (Don’t laugh. These fake investigators are wonderful!) We taught Carlos about the Restoration and he just DEVOURED IT. He liked the idea of modern prophets and was interested by our Libro de Mormon. Unfortunately, we forgot to bring a copy to give him… oops. BUT we left him a pamphlet and he said he’d read it and pray about it to know for himself if La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias was truly the restored Church of Jesus Christ. I pray that he follows through!
Ryleigh, our other investigator, is SO WONDERFUL! I just love her so much. She already knows that it’s all true, she just needs to come to peace with some of our “weird little rules,” like no coffee, tattoos, piercings, et cetera. I can see her progressing SO MUCH every time we speak with her. We’ve been trying to help her come to trust the Lord and His servants more, and last time we invited her to pray to know if baptism was the right choice for her.

That is my favorite thing about sharing this Gospel. It’s ALL about the investigators personally receiving the answers for themselves. Personal revelation is SUCH a powerful gift that God has PROMISED us! All we have to do is ask in sincerity, believing we will receive, and God will SPEAK TO US. Whether it’s through our thoughts and feelings, por medio de the Holy Ghost, or through a scripture that JUMPS off the page at you, or in something someone says in a talk at a devotional or sacrament meeting or a lesson, or even through just the people around us! It is so wonderful. I have found SEVERAL scriptures this week that I felt like the Lord was speaking right to me! My favorite instance of this happening this week is in Doctrine and Covenants section 106. I’ve never even noticed this section before- it’s only 8 verses long!
I prayed before beginning my personal scripture study to know what I needed to change in order to be a better missionary and servant of the Lord. Part of a scripture I remembered from my high school seminary class popped into my head, about “seek ye first the kingdom of God” and I decided to try to find it. So I turned to the Topical Guide at the back of the Bible in my triple-combination and looked up “kingdom.” As I was skimming through, I saw a reference to D&C 106:3. I felt impressed to check it out. That verse was just “BANG. Get your act together- focus on your calling as my servant!” (To sum it up.) I felt so chastised and so determined to do better!
Later I reread the whole section and there were so many phrases that jumped out at me, especially if I placed myself in them, a practice I learned from many great seminary teachers.
Of course, verse 3: “And devote [your] WHOLE TIME to this high and holy calling, which I now give unto [you], seeking DILIGENTLY the kingdom of heaven… for the laborer is WORTHY OF HIS HIRE.” (I did some research on that last phrase- it means we’ll be blessed according to our efforts.)
and verse 6, “… there was joy in heaven when my servant [Deryk] bowed to my scepter, and separated [herself] from the crafts of men;”
and verse 7 “…I will lift [her] up inasmuch as [she] will humble [herself] before me.”
and finally verse 8. “… if [she] continue to be a faithful witness and a light to the church I have prepared a crown for [her] in the mansions of my Father.”
THE SCRIPTURES ARE SO POWERFUL! I definitely didn’t take advantage at all of the blessing they can be, before coming out here. I invite EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU, even you random blog-hoppers who stumbled upon this post by accident, to step up your personal scripture study! And NEVER start studying without praying first to receive an answer, or guidance, or whatever it is that you need- THAT is how miracles happen. You have to ask for them first.

WELL I’m out of time now.

I love you all SO MUCH! I look forward to receiving the letters that I am sure you’re spending all your time writing. You just had to take a break to read my email.

Hermana Howell

Photos- For one of the lessons in our class, we talked about how we need to know the doctrine in order to teach it.
So Hno Serrato (the teacher) had me teach the Elders how to tie a tie. This is the result.

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All the Hermanas from our zone! We’re super cute, right?

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My district and the departing district- they left for their actual missions on Monday/Tuesday.

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By the way, Trevin- one of the Elders in my district has a friend who’s going to the same mission as you ON THE SAME DAY! I forgot what he said his last name was, but his first name was D_____ and he’s from Alaska. You’ll probably be in the same district! You might even be companions!

7-1-13 One more month in the MTC! (Snail Mail Letter)

Mi queridas Madre y Padre y Hermanos,

I’m so grateful for the letters and packages you’ve sent – you’re the best! ♥

I’ll tell you a little about my district –

Hna V_____ – mi companera – She’s from Central California & will be serving in the Salt Lake City Mission. She’s pretty quiet & it’s really her first time away from home. We found out that we both like writing stories! (Cool story BTW – when Liz dropped me off at the main MTC, Hna V_____ got dropped off at the same time! We got our name tags together & had lunch together before we were companions!)

Hna B____ – from Pocatello, going to Riverside – super friendly and sweet. She was studying speech pathology at Utah State before this. She keeps a journal of funny things that happen every day – she read through it to us yesterday and we got to laugh a lot.

Hna G_____ – from a small town in Utah that I can’t remember, going to Riverside – she was studying music (harp) at BYU. She’s one of the sweetest, most thoughtful girls I’ve met. She’s the next J___P___. She’s really good at the language & she’s our “Sister Training Leader” (kind of the girl DL).

& the Elders -I don’t know them as well

E O_____ – from CA, going to SLC – seems very focused and loves the work. He LOVES telling stories, especially about going out to work with the missionaries before he came out here. He’s our DL, so it’s his fault when I get your letters late. (Haha! I tease.)

E A_____ – from Alaska, going to SLC – kind of the opposite of his companion, E O_____, in a lot of ways. He’s very chill & relaxed (not necessarily lazy, perse’, just chill). He’s also super funny – he reminds me a LOT of “Jonesy” from high school.

E B______ – from Canada, going to Riverside – the only Elder going w/me & Hnas B___ & G____ to CA. Even though he is from Canada, he was born in England & raised in an English home, so he has a LOVELY accent! It’s really helping stave off my BBC withdrawals. (JK – no withdrawals here!) He’s way funny & I think we’d be good friends in “real life”.

E F____ – from New Mexico, going to SLC – the baby of the group, he just graduated from high school this year. Most of his extended family aren’t members, so he’s hoping his mission helps bring them closer to the church. He’s pretty quiet, but seems cool.

I ♥ MY DISTRICT! There are plenty of cool people in my zone & elsewhere too, but I just don’t know them as well.

Love you tons! Can’t wait to see tonight if I got a letter about TREV’S MISSION CALL!!

Also, yes, Hna V____ will be my companion my whole time in the MTC. (6 weeks = 1 transfer)

♥ ♥ Hna Howell

P.S. I got the Dear Elders about Trevy’s call!! SO excited!

7-3-13 A Spiritual High

Buenos tardes!

I just love it here! Every day I hit another spiritual high. I’m learning SO MUCH about teaching, Spanish, and the Gospel. It’s just wonderful!

This week I’ve felt a lot of focus on our Savior, Jesus Christ. On Saturday, my district met with one of our teachers (Hermana C_____- She’s awesome) and we talked about Christ and how we can have a more personal relationship with Him. We read through a lesson in PMG (the Restoration) and applied each section to Christ and His Atonement and how it applies to us personally. We wrote our thoughts in the margins and it was pretty cool.

One of the best parts for me was when I was reading through the section entitled “The Savior’s Earthly Ministry and Atonement” (I was using my English copy), there was a line that said quoted John 3:16-17, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son… that the world through him might be saved.” Reading that, I realized that I could replace the phrase “the world” with my own name, and it would still be true. Even if the rest of the world would’ve been fine, and if I was a horrible sinner, God would’ve still sent His Son to save me, and Christ would’ve still willingly suffered and died to bring me back home. They love me THAT MUCH. I was so touched by the love I felt at that moment as the Holy Ghost testified the truth of this to me.

However, I got stuck when I got to the section about the Great Apostasy- I just couldn’t think of what that had to do with ME and my relationship with Christ. SO I did my new favorite thing- I said a quick prayer in Spanglish. After that I felt impressed to reread through some of the notes I’d already taken. Somewhere I’d said something about Christ knowing me better than anyone other than our Father in Heaven. I remembered how ever since I was little I’d always wanted an older sibling. Someone whose example I could follow, who was there to stand up for me, who knew exactly what I was going through. There were plenty of girls I remember from Young Women’s and YCL’s from girls’ camp when I was younger that I looked up to a lot, and would talk to me about my life and stuff, but I always wanted someone who was ALWAYS there, not just on Sundays and Wednesdays or during girls’ camp, but ALL. THE. TIME.

As I sat there pondering this, I realized that all that time I’d had that older sibling in Christ. He is my brother, and I’d never really realized what that meant. He suffered through every sin, sadness, or pain I’ve ever or will ever endure. He knows what I’m going through. He understands me perfectly. He’s my advocate with God- I read a scripture just yesterday that illustrates this beautifully (Doctrine and Covenants 45:3-5)

This week I have come to know and truly love my Savior SO much better. I plan on (and invite all of you!) coming to know Him better and strengthening your relationship with Him through sincere prayer and careful study of His life and Atonement. (I REALLY recommend finding the talk by David A Bednar “The Character of Christ.” I watched it yesterday and it is LIFE-CHANGING. I am not exaggerating when I say that it is one of the most wonderful talks I’ve ever watched.)

We finished teaching “Maria” last week- she didn’t accept our invitation to be baptized, but we definitely planted some seeds and brought her closer to Christ! We have two new “investigators” now, “Ryleigh” and “Carlos.” We had our first lesson with Ryleigh and it went pretty good- I feel like Hna V_____ and I followed the Spirit well. Our first lesson with Carlos is tonight and we’re planning on teaching about the Atonement.

ALSO. YAY TREVY!!!! I am SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO excited for you to serve your mission! Wichita, Kansas isn’t going to know what hit them! You are going to be SO GREAT as a missionary! TE AMO!

Love you tons! Send letters!

Hermana Howell

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The District!
It was Canada Day this Monday, and we celebrated it for Elder B_____
(he was born in England but lives in Canada- he has a SWEET accent. I think it’s helping me stave off my BBC withdrawals.)
Top row: Elder A_____ (from Alaska, going to SLC), E O_____ (CA>SLC), E B_____ (Canada>Riverside), E F____ (NM> SLC)
Bottom row: Yours truly (Meridian > Riverside), Hna Beck (Pocatello>Riverside),
Hna G_____ (Roosevelt, UT>Riverside), Hna V_____ (Rippen, CA>SLC)

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The map!

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Me and Sister L_____  at choir practice last week
(Sister L_____ is a friend from high school)

7-3-13 Surprise!

2013-07-02 Sister Deryk Howell and Brent Heck at the MTC

In the middle of the day today Ryan (Deryk’s Dad) received a photo text from a friend of his.
He was dropping his daughter off at the MTC today, and ran into our Missionary!
What a great surprise for us! We think she looks beautiful and happy!