50: Corona is pretty much the opposite of Jurupa

No hay caballos ni gallos! No horses and roosters!

As I mentioned in my last email, I got moved last Monday to my new area, in Corona. It’s SO PRETTY here! When I heard I was going to Southern California, THIS is more what I pictured. It’s very green and not-dead compared to my last two areas!

My new companion is Sister Gates from St George, UT. She’s super sweet. She’s been out for about 7 months… and all of it’s been in this area. Which is crazy. I’ve only ever heard of one other missionary that stayed in her greenie area for 5 transfers (it also happened to be in this area, come to think about it). But anyways, Sister Gates is super great. She’s very sweet and excited to work HARD this transfer. We’re looking forward to seeing some great miracles in the next 4 weeks! (It’s a shortened transfer- the next one will be 7 weeks to make up for it.)

My new ward, the Del Rey ward, is a lot different than the other two that I’ve served in. In the sense that it’s not ginormous. Actually it’s pretty tiny. It was just a branch about a year ago.

Also, I’M NOT IN A BARN ANYMORE! We live in a “homeshare,” where members let us live in their house with them. Sister Gates and I share a nice little bedroom with bunkbeds. It’s SO nice- we don’t have to hoard quarters to do laundry either! Haha. The Gs are super nice people and I just love them already. They have a beautiful backyard with a pool that we put our feet in while we read our scriptures sometimes that overlooks the sunset in the evenings. They’ve also got a cute little Westie mix named Sophie that loves to have her tummy rubbed and play tug-of-war. She makes me think of Chester when he was a little more energetic and a little less old. Haha.

I’m also serving around some of my friends from MoVal! Sister Beck is in my ward, and Sisters Haycock and Hall and Elder Harrison are all in English wards in the stake. It’s been so cool to see some of the people that I’ve served around in the past. I’m also getting to know some new missionaries which is pretty great.

Hope you’re all doing great! Can’t believe this is my 50th email! Crazy right?

Love you!

Hermana Howell

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49: Cambios (Changes)

Buenas tardes, familia y amigos!  Good afternoon, family and friends!
 
So today is the first day of my 8th transfer in the mission field, and my 11-month mark from when I entered the MTC… the time has been going by SO FAST!
With the new transfer, there were a LOT of changes that are going down in the Barn. Only one of us four sisters is staying here- the rest of us are all going our separate directions. Sister Hartling will be holding down the fort here, and her companion, Sister Schmidt, is headed to Menifee. I’m going to Corona (rumored to be the PRETTIEST part of the mission! Yay!) and Sister Baumgart is going to Moreno Valley… in an English ward! My new companion will be Sister Gates, whom I’ve never met. I’ll meet up with her around 4 today. I’ve heard she’s cool though!
 
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Riverside CA Mission – Sis. Howell has served in Moreno Valley,
the Jurupa area (in the Barn!) and now she’s headed to Corona
 
I’m a pretty sad to be leaving this ward. They’re SO GREAT. I almost cried saying goodbye to the Cuiniche family. They said they would pray for me to be sent back to serve there again before I finish my mission. They’re so amazing. I promised I’d bring my family to meet them after my mission’s over (so maybe you guys will want to learn a little spanish… buena suerte! good luck!) I’m also heartbroken to be getting separated from Sister Baumgart. She’s so great and we only got one transfer together! :[ I’m sure we’ll run into each other again though!
 
This week has been a little rough. We got dropped by a REALLY COOL family… but hopefully their time will come later on when they’re more prepared. My companion got kind of sick too, so we ended up doing some exchanges with the English STLs, Sister Anderson and Sister Gowans. It was really fun (I LOVE SISTER GOWANSSSSS) but unfortunately we couldn’t find ANYONE at home and didn’t manage to teach a whole lot of lessons.
 
This Sunday, though, we had a wonderful BAPTISM! It’s a really interesting situation actually. The family G were all baptized in about 2009, but the mom and the younger son’s records got lost. So they had to be rebaptized… which is kind of a bummer. When Sister Bowen and I were first told about the situation, only about half the family was active. So we went and started sharing scriptures with them a couple of times a week. One time we read Alma 32 with the family, where Alma teaches how faith is like a seed that we have to nourish to allow it to grow. It was really powerful and we talked about what we need to do to nourish our seeds. Sister G then asked us, with tears in her eyes, why we had picked that chapter. She told us that it felt like Alma was talking right to her- and she vowed to start coming back to church. Since then, she’s only missed one Sunday. She is SO amazing. I love her like crazy. She took this test of her faith and she grew so much stronger. There have been so many times in my mission when I’ve been awestruck by the faith of the people I teach. She had some unique challenges in order to be baptized again, but she faced it with such courage and faith… it was a beautiful experience. Her older son baptized both her and his little brother. It was SO COOL. I don’t have my camera with me (I packed it already to take it to my new area) so I can’t include a picture of this special family this week, but I will next week!
 
I love you all tons and I’m so excited to see what adventures await me in Corona!
 
Sister Howell
 
P.S. from Mom… Sis. Gates has just finished her training, and while she shows Sis. Howell around Corona, Sis. Howell will get to be her “step-mom”, a term they use for the next companion you have after your trainer. She is very excited to be in a home share, which means they will be living with members, and to have “for real a/c”. 

48: Happy Mother’s Day!

It was so great to talk to my family yesterday! Mother’s day was great- I got to play the hymns in Sacrament Meeting, and we sang “O My Father,” my mom’s favorite hymn. It was such a sweet experience and as the speakers talked about the importance of mothers in the scriptures and in our own lives, I realized how thankful I am for MY mom and for her wonderful example for me. Hopefully someday I can grow up to be just like her.
 
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This week was a little crazy. We had exchanges on Wednesday, and Sister Baumgart went to my old stompin’ grounds in Moreno Valley while I stayed here with Sister Ruiz. It was great and I learned a lot from her. Unfortunately, Sister Baumgart ate something weird on exchanges or something and got a little sick for a couple of days after that. Pobrecita.
 
The work’s been a little rough lately. We’re trying really hard to find new people to teach and help to progress, but they’re proving a bit difficult to find and keep in contact with. That’s fine, though- We have faith that God has a plan for this area and we just need to be prepared to make it happen. :]
 
Things are tough but every missionary passes through those difficult patches. That’s why we have the Atonement- because there is SO MUCH in our lives that we simply can’t carry ourselves. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t get through it. It just means that we need more strength than our own. When we humble ourselves and yoke ourselves to the Savior instead of just trying to plow ahead on our own, we receive the help and strength that we need to be able to keep moving forward and overcome whatever life throws your way. There’s NOTHING that you can’t overcome with the Savior lending you His strength. We come off more than conquerers through Him that loved us. Que bendicion!
 
I really don’t have much else to say this week- I love you all and hope everything’s going great!
 
Sister Howell

47: Busy busy busy

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Even here in Spanish-land I have no idea what exactly is being celebrated, but all the white people want to eat chips and salsa.
 
Anyways, it’s been a pretty great (and BUSY!) week. On Tuesday we had our temple trip! Yay! It was so wonderful and peaceful and I felt the spiritual rejuvenation that I’ve been needing for a good long while.
 
On Wednesday we had our interviews with President Smart (or Presidente Inteligente as we spanish-speakers and lovers of rhymes like to call him). He is such a good man and so inspired. He helped me out a lot too. We didn’t realize until later that it was our last interview with him before he goes home at the end of next transfer- que triste! I’m sure going to miss him and sweet Sister Smart so much. They’re such good people.
 
Wednesday was also Sister Schmidt’s birthday, so we had cake and moved the furniture in the Barn to try and make it feel more like a house and less like a barn. It worked a little bit- parts of it feel a lot homier, until you hear the roosters and remember that there’s no a/c.
 
Thursday was pretty normal, with weekly planning and trying to contact some new people.
 
Friday we had our zone meeting and talked about our goals for the new month. We made some great goals for helping us focus better on finding new people to teach by asking EVERYONE for referrals, teaching from the Book of Mormon, and helping the people we teach to set their own goals to help them progress. I’m really excited to keep putting these things in practice and see the miracles start pouring down!
 
Saturday we started out the day with a breakfast at a member’s house and a meeting with our awesome ward mission leader and some of our favorite member-missionaries. This ward is incredible and so involved in helping us in any way that they can.
 
And yesterday, Sunday, we had a BAPTISM!!! C’s situation is a little unusual. His wife and daughter are both members, and have been for a long time. They’re members in one of the english wards here. The sisters in that ward started teaching him at their bishop’s request. Unfortunately, C doesn’t speak ANY english, so they brought a translator. As you can probably imagine, the game of “telephone” didn’t quite work as effectively as teaching him directly, so eventually they asked us to come over and teach him in his own language. C is SO AWESOME. He was just ready and had such a desire to be unified with his family for time and all eternity. When he passed his interview on Friday, his wife started crying a little bit- she’s so excited to be able to go to the temple together in a year! The baptism was so sweet, if a little strange. Since it was a baptism for the english ward, most of it was done in english AND spanish so that C could understand it too. Sister Bowen came back and we taught a five-minute restoration lesson while C changed after getting baptized. It was good to see her and teach with her again, but I was CRAZY NERVOUS because GUESS WHO WALKED IN soon after the service started? President and Sister Smart themselves. It was fine though because we taught it in spanish and figured that if we messed up, they’d be none the wiser and the Spirit would fill in the blanks. Haha.
 
I think the sweetest part of the baptism for me was when M, C’s 7-year-old son, was walking around before the service, telling everyone “My dad’s getting baptized!” He was so excited and I could tell that his dad’s example had a huge impact on him. He’s so excited now to be baptized too when he turns 8. It’s cool to see sometimes how one person’s decision has such an effect on others.
 
Th-th-th-that’s all, folks! Love you all tons!
Hermana Howell
 
PS- fotos:
 
C’s baptism! These weren’t even all the sister missionaries that had been part of the process of helping him get to this point. There had been a LOT of sisters through this house!
 
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This morning my comp and I went to the park to feed the ducks. Sister Baumgart LOVES ducks. It was so funny. I almost got a duck to eat out of my hand, but it was too scared of me, I think.
 
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