February 18, 2013

101E1306[1]

101_1268[1]101_1257[1]Well, I’ve officially made it through my first transfer in the mission field. I can’t believe I survived! I’m staying in Helena and my companion and I are staying together. I’ll probably be training next transfer though with all of the new sister missionaries coming in.

Every Thursday for our weekly service, we go visit some people at a Care Center. Last week, one of the staff members saw me with my guitar and asked me to play for all the residents during their music time. I accepted the invitation and asked if it was okay that I share some religious songs. She said “yes”, so I sang a couple of religious songs I have written. The staff members loved it and said that they’ve never seen their residents as quiet and attentive as they were while I was singing. I think that somewhere inside their frail mortal bodies, they felt the spirit of my music. They invited me to come back every week and sing to them. I’m grateful for that opportunity!

Later that same day, I got to sing a song I have written called “Love You Have For Me” to a lady who over the years has drifted away from God. Some of the lyrics are “so many times I seem to lose my way. Lost in all the lies that push away your grace. I can’t believe I ever got that far from the Hands that wear my scars. So merciful. You lift me up every time I fall. I can’t believe the love You have for me.” When I finished the song, I looked up to find tears streaming down her face. She said that she felt the Spirit through my music.

I’m so grateful for opportunities to share the gospel and for the power that music can have on the hearts of many!

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To All You Future Missionaries

To all my returned missionary friends, you failed to mention just how difficult a mission really is. Emotionally, spiritually, and physically. It is a lot more difficult than I had anticipated. It’s a test for sure. A test to see how much you really love the Lord and what you’re willing to do to help God’s children. To anybody reading this who may be preparing for a mission, know that it will be difficult. Probably one of the most difficult things you will ever do. There will be times when you’ll want to give up. But helping people draw closer to Christ truly makes the sacrifice all worth while. I got to invite two people to be baptized this week. They said yes and we set a date for next month. I can’t even begin to explain the joy I feel in knowing that I am helping them make the first step to return to their Heavenly Father. Seein the light grow in my investigator’s eyes as they begin to follow the Savior is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. D&C 18:16 says “And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!”

In other news, I’ve gotten to sing, play the guitar, and share messages through music every day. I was even asked by the Stake President’s wife to write a song for this years Girls Camp. I never thought I’d get to use music this much on my mission. I wrote a new song the other day about faith. I’m gunna start sharing it with my investigators. It’s been a blessing to use my talents! I feel like music can touch the hearts of people in a way that words can’t. I had been praying to use my musical talents on my mission. Just like Alma in Mosiah 23:10, “The Lord did hear my cries and did answer my prayers, and has made me an instrument in His hands in bringing so many to a knowledge of His truth.”

February 4, 2013

101E1340101E1348This week was a difficult week for me. I struggled with a lot of home sickness. But this work is worth it. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the power of the Atonement. This is real and it changes people’s lives. This is the salvation of souls. The souls of God’s children. Anything that I might be going through is nothing compared to what some people go through. I’m here to help them.

I’m learning so much about myself, about the world, and about the pain that people go through every day. Pain that I’ve never felt before in my life. And I’m learning more about God. How He works, and how mindful He is of every single living soul. He is in the workings of every person’s life whether they recognize it or not. If these people could have just a tiny glimpse of the love that their Heavenly Father has for them, they would understand how much they’re worth, and comet to know of the incredible person they were meant to be.

I got to see the light grow in an investigator’s eyes this week as He began to feel Heavenly Father’s love for him. He told us that he’s been searching for truth his whole life and feels that he’s finally found it. He offered the most humble prayer before we left his home and said, “Thank you for sending these angels to me and helping me get my life on track. Please help me to draw near to you, God.” It’s amazing to be an instrument in the Lord’s hands and to see the change in someone who is drawing nearer to God. He later told me that the testimony I had written in the Book of Mormon I gave him really touched his heart. Sometimes a single phrase of testimony can change the course of someone’s eternity.

January 28, 2013

7.  1.15.13-Howes, Mechams-templeOur zone had a training on Friday and I got to see some of my great friends from my MTC district. Seeing them definitely helped with my home-sickness. I also got to play the guitar this week. It felt like home! I hadn’t played one since being on my mission.

We taught a 15 year old girl who has doubted the church since her baptism last July. I think that lesson was the first time I fully felt the power of being a missionary. Words were put into my mind at the very moment that I should say them and I felt so overcome with the infinite love that Heavenly Father has for this young girl I was teaching. I had the opportunity to share with her one of the songs I have written about finding your light. I’m humbled that I’ve been able to use my musical talents on my mission. It has been such a blessing!

In Doctrine and Covenants section 18 verse 15, it says “And it shall be given thee from the time thou shalt go, until the time thou shalt return, what thou shalt do.” I came across that verse and it really stuck out to me, because I have felt the Lord guiding me in everything I do since being on my mission. I know that He will continue to guide me until I return home. The next verse says “And thou must open thy mouth at all times, declaring my gospel with the sound of rejoicing.” Good is so good and knows us all so perfectly. What an honor it is to wear the name of His son, Jesus Christ and declare His gospel.

The Mission Field

My last few days in the MTC were incredible. My district sang “God Be With You Til We Meet Again” at our final sacrament meeting, and I got to sing a solo. I also gave a talk on how important the Holy Ghost is in conversion. I loved speaking. It was a great Sunday. President Uchtdorf showed up to our departing devotional. We were so close to him and it felt awesome to feel the spirit of an Apostle fill the room. He wished us luck on our missions and expressed his love for missionary work. He told us to never give up. He had so much power and authority in his voice. I loved it.

Saying goodbye to the incredible friends that I made at the MTC was really hard, but I know that we are all moving on to bigger and better things. When I arrived in Billings, it was cold, overcast, and windy. I loved my Mission President and his wife from the moment that I met them. They provided delicious meals and a nice warm bed that night at the mission home. I was transferred the next morning to Helena. It’s the capital and is a beautiful little city. My new companion is awesome. She and I get along very well. We live in a basement of a ward member’s home. It’s a beautiful house in the mountains overlooking the city of Helena. The view is gorgeous. We’re blessed to have a nice place to live. I’ve been able to teach several lessons since arriving in Montana. I’ve loved seeing the light grow in my investigator’s eyes as they begin to understand fospel principles. I’ve gotten sing every single day since being on my mission and it has been a blessing. We went to visit some sick people at a care center and I sang hymns to them. I loved seeing them light up as they felt the Spirit. I’ve struggled a lot with home sickness since being in the mission field, but I know that I’m where I’m supposed to be. The Lord will help me as I put my trust in Him. Keep praying for me and I hope that you are all doing well.

Love Always,

Sister Howes

Final week in the MTC

I’ve been having a good time at the MTC.  I’ve loved seeing how many sisters are serving.  The numbers keep growing.  My companion is one of the first 19 year old sisters to serve.  She’s incredible and has become a great friend to me.  The new sisters in our District are going to Nashville.  I’ve already told them how amazing it is there 🙂  I’m down to my last week in the MTC.  I head to Montana on Tuesday (January 15th).  Time is weird on a mission.  The days feel like weeks and the weeks feel like days.  Although my time here has been really difficult, I have found so much joy and have made incredible, life-long friends.  In our testimony meeting this past Sunday, the Spirit was so strong.  I loved hearing the humble testimonies of the young missionaries in our zone.  I can already see the Lord starting to make of them something amazing.  I can see Him making amazing things of me as well.  I can’t wait to teach the people of Montana!  I know that I have been called there for a very specific purpose.  My Branch President said in our district meeting this week, “Love the Lord, take what you’ve learned, and go give ’em heaven.”  That’s what I plan to do.  Satan creates the illusion that the world offers a sure foundation.  Don’t be deceived.  There is no greater or more sure of a foundation than the gospel of Jesus Christ.  If you build your life upon it, you will be happy.  I love you all!  May you find comfort in the knowledge of a Savior.  He loves you personally and wants to help you walk on water.  Always keep your sight on Him and you will never sink.

Love Always,
Sister Howes

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Years!  My New Years Eve was awesome, but I was confined to my MTC dorm all of New Years Day with the stomach flu.  It was a rough day, but I always feel everyone’s prayers in my behalf.  I hope that at the start of this New Year, we all strive to become more like Christ in our words and deeds.  There is nothing that will bring you more joy than reaching out to others and immersing yourself in the gospel.  As an official representative of Jesus Christ, I can promise you that.  Seek Him, know Him, love Him and you WILL be happy.  Thank you for your prayers.  I feel them.
Love Always,
Sister Howes