Week 9: Un Bautismo Milagroso (With pictures!)

SO I finally remembered BOTH my camera and the attachment cord so I can send some pictures this week!

Picture 1: Me and Hna D____ with E_____ at her baptism (my first week)

Me and Hna Dicarolo with Erika at her baptism (my first week)

Picture 2: What I did with some of the contents of my “Greenie Package” from my mom

What I did with some of the contents of my Greenie Package from my mom

Picture 3: Me and Hna D_____ with Elderes H______ and M____ at B______’s baptism…

Me and Hna Dicarolo with Elderes Higgins and Moss at Bernardo's baptism

…which is what I want to tell you about this week!

We’ve been teaching B_____’s wife, C______, for the past couple of weeks. Her daughter’s family is all members, and C______ and B_____ go to church every week with them. C______ even goes every week to an activity with the Relief Society where they knit scarves to donate and read from the Book of Mormon. BUT they’ve never been baptized!

We started teaching C______, but she just couldn’t understand why she needed to be baptized again (she was baptized Catholic) and we explained about proper authority and the priesthood, and how Christ was baptized by immersion, not by being sprinkled… but she didn’t get it. She also isn’t sure if the Book of Mormon is the word of God, but she WON’T PRAY ABOUT IT! It’s pretty frustrating when people won’t do their part to get an answer. How hard is it to pray, anyway?

We weren’t focusing on B______, since he often wasn’t there (doing dishes or sitting on the other end of the room) and when he was with us, he looked like he was at least halfway asleep.

We had taught pretty much everything, and on Tuesday felt like we needed to talk about baptism once again. After explaining again why it’s important and why they would need to be baptized again, we invited both of them to be baptized in September. BUT they said they were leaving for Mexico the next week (this week)! Oh no! We told them that honestly, they were ready and could be baptized that weekend… but C____ said she wasn’t ready and B______ said he would “think about it.” We left pretty sad and disappointed.

NEXT DAY: We received a phone call from B______. “Quiero bautizarme.” (I want to be baptized.) WHAT. We were so happy and excited- we definitely weren’t expecting that! So we went and talked to him about it at the chapel and he talked about how Jesus wasn’t baptized by sprinkling water on his head- he went under the water. He wanted to be baptized like Jesus was. He knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God, and really saw God the Father and Jesus Christ… he was SO ready for baptism!

He passed his interview with Elder M____ and got both baptized and confirmed yesterday (Sunday) because he’s leaving for Mexico this week with his wife. The baptism was so wonderful and the Spirit was so strong… we saw C____ crying. Hna D_____ talked to her as everyone was filing out of the Relief Society room to get tamales and hot dogs. She told her, “You’re next!” and she replied, “I know.”

They’re such great people. B______ is such a funny, cool guy, and just wants to follow his Savior. Now that he has the Gift of the Holy Ghost, he’s going to be such a great guide and example to his wife- and once they’re back from Mexico (probably the end of September) we think she’ll follow his example. We’re so excited for them.

Other investigators… We got a new referral from a member. She’s going through some hard stuff right now and we hope that she keeps commitments and allows the Gospel to help her out.

We’re doing weekly-ish Book of Mormon classes with a guy named E_____ and his less-active friend, R______ (not actually his name, but it’s what he goes by). Sometimes R_____’s sister and her boyfriend (also both less-active) join us, too. They LOVE the Book of Mormon and read it like crazy between our meetings (we read 6 chapters the first time we met together!) They all just have some tough stuff to get through. They’re super cool and we really love them. They came for Sacrament Meeting, but had to leave afterwards. E____ seemed to like it pretty well, even if it’s a lot different from the Catholic church that he’s used to.

And then there’s R___. She’s the best! We love R_____ SO MUCH! We only managed to see her once this week. She tends to be gone a lot when we come by (even after we set an appointment). She’s super ready, but hasn’t told her mom or Hno R_____ (her mom’s husband) yet, but she said she wants him to baptize her. We were talking with her and she TOTALLY gets the “endure to the end” concept- she knows that baptism isn’t the end goal and she needs to keep making right choices and going to church and reading the scriptures… she’s so awesome! She keeps comparing it to having a healthy, fit body (she’s a huge health nut- she sells HerbaLife) and how it’s a constant process. I think she’s a future Relief Society president.

Unfortunately she got called in to work yesterday and couldn’t come to church… so we have to push back her baptismal date, either to the 1st or to the next weekend. It’s kind of a bummer, but we know that she’s ready and it’ll work out. Her daughters were there though, with their grandma. (They came up to us after Primary to show us the candy they got.)

Week 8

Well another week has gone by already! I can’t believe it! Time flies so fast!
It was a really good week. We taught some BOMB lessons, and the Spirit was super strong.
R____ is doing AWESOME and she’s pretty excited about her baptism on the 31st. We taught the Plan of Salvation earlier this week and the Spirit was so strong! She kept commenting on how much love God must have for His children to create this plan. She definitely felt this love and she started crying a little bit. I testified that this love that God has for her specifically is the reason we were there teaching her, because He wants her to come home to Him. It was a truly beautiful experience.
Her little girls, D____ and G_____, are crazy adorable and looked so sweet in their little dresses at church on Sunday! We’re so excited for all of them!
We also taught her the WoW, which she also loved. She’s WAY into this HerbaLife health food thing, and so she really liked talking about taking care of our bodies. She agreed with everything we said already, and doesn’t have anything to overcome in that sense. Yay!
We can’t teach M____ anymore- he lost his house and moved away. But we hope that we helped him come closer to his Savior in the short time we were able to talk to him!
This ward is really great, in case I haven’t said so before. The people are wonderful and there’s so much work to be done! There are a lot of part-member families to talk to and everyone is SO excited to have sister missionaries in the ward. (The bishop of an English-speaking ward tried to convince us at a baptism yesterday that we were serving in the wrong ward. Sister D______ told him he should talk to President Smart. Haha.)
The ward is starting to get how to pronounce my name a little. Up until now they’ve always said it with a question mark and looked to me to verify- it’s pretty funny. But now they’re getting almost as confident in introducing Hermana How-wells (idk where the ‘s’ came from) as Hermana D_______.
There isn’t really anyone in the ward who plays piano. They have someone to play in sacrament meeting, but other than that they’ve been going acap. (Trust me, that’s NOT a good thing. Haha.) So I play in Sociedad de Soccorro (Relief Society) and at baptisms. They tried to get me to play for choir practices too, but I have work to do during the day (Domingo no es un dia de descanso por los misioneros!)
La familia S_____ have been a big support for us. Hna S_____ drove us to the Temple last week and she’s the one that set up our dinner calendar. Hno S_____ came with us for a lesson with M_____ before he moved… but he wasn’t home. But Hno S_____ has been super helpful with lots of little stuff.
Another good friend we have is Hna R_____. She’s R_____’s mom and the wife of the Ward Mission Leader. Since we’re over there SO much to teach her daughter, she’s offered to feed us several times when we haven’t had dinner appointments. She’s a really nice lady and says she’s seen a marked difference in her daughter.
Hna G______ has come with us on a couple of lessons to teach the young couple we found on the first day. She’s really happy to help and earlier this week took us around to talk to some of her neighbors. (They were English-speaking though, so we gave the referrals to the other sisters.)
Spanish is progressing slowly but surely. I’m understanding about 80-90% of what’s being said. It’s just harder to speak up and say things myself. I need to practice more- I definitely spoke more Spanish in the MTC by a LONG shot.
Que mas… Oh! Sister D_____’s birthday was this week! I made a cake out of the green cookie mix that Mom sent me in my “greenie package” (which was way cute btw). I was nervous that it wouldn’t really work out… I followed the directions on a package of cake mix (which we’d used on Sunday to make a cake for E_____’s baptism), reasoning that I’d made cookies from cake mix- why shouldn’t it work the other way around?
Luckily it turned out. Yay! So we had green birthday cake. It was kind of trippy because our plates are green too… so it looked super weird and messed with my head a little bit. I felt like I was wearing the green glasses from the Emerald City in Wicked. (I can’t remember if they had that in the Wizard of Oz too, or if they added it…) Haha.
Pues…. les quiero! Escribire en la proxima semana!
Hermana Howell
PS- SO I remembered my camera. But I forgot my cord to connect it to the computer. Haha sorry!!!! I’ll send pics next week (including the one from E____’s baptism last week!)

Week 7: Primer bautismo! (First baptism!)

That’s right- I had my first baptism this week! E____ is 9 and was SO excited to be baptized! (I think I talked about her in my last email.) Her mom is inactive, but she goes to church every week with her grandma and her aunties. The baptism was great- the Spirit was super strong and there were several investigators there. I gave a talk on the Holy Ghost in Spanish, and everyone at least kind of understood what I was saying. haha.

We also had the opportunity to go to the Temple in Redlands this week as a zone. (I forgot my camera though… crazy lame.) It was beautiful (as every Temple is) and so peaceful. It was a good little break from the crazy busy missionary daily life.

M_____, who I wrote about last week, has been really hard to get in contact with. For someone without a car, he sure seems to disappear a lot. We’ve set up appointments with him and come back and he’s just not there. We did catch him once, but he was pretty drunk… I can tell he wants to change though and hopefully we can meet up with him more this week.

Another investigator we have is R____. (I talked about her last week too.) She’s definitely feeling the Spirit when we talk with her and we’re excited to see her progress. She’s kind of flakey though- she’s often gone with her boyfriend when we go to see her. But that’s okay. We’ve got a plan to get her to church this week and continue to get her ready for baptism.

We’re also teaching G_____. Her mom was baptized a week before we got here, so she kind of knows what the Church is about. We think her brother has told her a bunch of anti-Mormon stuff though, so we need to talk to her about that. She’s an awesome girl and we love teaching her!

There are plenty of inactive and part-member families we’ve met with, too. The T______ family have their grandparents living with them for the past few years, and they come to church with them and everything- they just have never been baptized. We’re going to invite them tonight! 😀

Everything’s awesome here… the weather’s a little hot (ok maybe a LOT) and the drivers are kind of terrifying. (Welcome to California.) But I absolutely love it here!

Something that I keep coming across in my studies the past few days is the principle of eternal families. I am SO thankful for the chance we have to live with our families for all of eternity! I know that this Gospel is true, and we have it because God loves us SO MUCH (favorite scripture- Alma 24:14). The only way we can experience true happiness, not just in this life but for eternity, is by living according to the principles of the Gospel and trying to be like Jesus Christ and coming to know Him better.

Love you all so much! Until next week!

Sister Deryk Howell

Dinner at the Bishop’s home

Hermana Howell is serving in a Spanish ward, and the Bishop’s wife sent me this pic of her and her companion! They had a ” greenie dinner for her.  Roast with green mashed potatoes, green beans, green salad, green rolls, green kool-aid and a green pie for dessert.” Super cute.

photo 2

President and Sister Smart with Deryk

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7 August 2013

Dear Brother and Sister Howell,

We are so grateful to have Sister Deryk Blair Howell join us here in the California Riverside Mission! It was exciting to meet her at the airport. I had the opportunity to interview your missionary and we were able to hear her testimony before having dinner together. We have been impressed with her testimony and desire to serve. It has been a privilege to get to know her.

Sister Howell is now hard at work in her new area, the MORENO VALLEY Zone with her companion Sister A_____ D_____.

As we visited with your daughter this is what she said about her family: “I’d say they’re the BEST family ever. They’re crazy funny and we are nearly always laughing at something someone has done/said.”

We look forward to a wonderful experience together with your missionary. Thank you for preparing one worthy to serve. May God continue to bless you.

Sincerely,

Paul F. Smart, President

Week 6: En el campo! (In the field!)

I forgot my camera again… sorry! No pictures this week.
SO I’m in California now! It’s so great! It’s crazy hot, but we’ve got a car and our apartment (though poorly lit) is air-conditioned so we’re golden.
My companion is Sister D_____- she’s just over a year into her mission and she’s from Italy. That means Spanish is her THIRD language, and she speaks it pretty much perfectly. She says mine is pretty good too, I just need to be more confident.
We were doubled in, meaning we were brought in and replaced two Elders. So basically we didn’t know anyone except the other two Elders who work in our ward. BUT since getting here we’ve already got two people on date to be baptized- it’s awesome!
E____ is set to be baptized this coming Sunday- but it feels almost like cheating to count her. She turns 9 on Saturday. Haha. Her grandma made her wait a year to be baptized because she was “too little” and since her 9th birthday would be on a Saturday, she could get baptized ON her birthday! Originally her baptism date was on Saturday, but her mom is taking her out for her birthday so she can’t be baptized on that day. So she waited a whole year for no reason, poor girl. BUT she’s super excited to be baptized and she’s going to invite a bunch of her friends to come.
Then we’ve got R____. She has two little girls and lives with her mom, who’s a member. We came by and gave them a Harvest Blessing. (We ask them for their specific needs from God, and pray for them and their family members each by name “by virtue of our calling as missionaries and representatives of Jesus Christ.” It’s WAY cool and the Spirit can be really strong.) R____ asked to be placed in the path of happiness, so in our return appointment we talked about the Plan of Salvation and how it could tie her to her daughters forever. We also talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ (the steps we need to take to achieve exaltation- faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end). The Spirit was super strong and we asked her if she would pray to know if she should be baptized the last weekend of the month and she accepted!
To use Sister D_____’s words, it was a “bomb lesson.”
Another interesting experience- Our first day when we were walking down the street, talking to people before going to our next appointment, a man stops us before we could OYM him (Open Your Mouth- we are supposed to OYM 20 people a day as a companionship.) He asked if we were “church girls.” When we answered in the affirmative, he asked where and when we meet- he was going through some hard stuff and wanted to change, so he needed to go to church. We swapped info and set up a time to go visit him. He genuinely wants to turn his life around, and he says that he knows that God is the only one who can help him to do that! I’m super excited to see how things go with him.
Sister D_____ keeps telling me how that NEVER happens, that people just DON’T come up and ask to go to church. Haha.
One more- Yesterday, Sunday, Sister D______’s investigator from her last transfer got baptized. She got permission to go to the baptism, but I had to stay here in Moreno Valley (that’s my area by the way) with a “team-up.” So I teamed up with S_____, a 19-year-old girl in our ward who’s just about ready to send her mission papers to SLC. We had language study and read some of our favorite Book of Mormon stories in English and Spanish. It was cool- I found the story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehis and found a ton of ways we could apply it to ourselves (and I read it in Spanish and knew what was going on!)
After that, we went to OYM in a parking lot in front of a Hispanic grocery store. (Sister D_____ and I go there almost every day.) I OYM’ed in SPANISH! It was so great. :]
Then I lost my keys to the apartment. It was scary and embarrassing. But we found them so it was okay.
Sorry this is so long, especially to those of you with limited email time. Les amo!
Hermana Deryk Howell