Friday, March 20, 2015

More Music, Kimberly Easter Cantata

From Ethan: Mon, Mar 16, 2015 10:26 am
We had a great and interesting week. Here in Kimberly there are a lot of people who have been baptized into the church but simply do not take part in the blessings of coming to church or much less anything to do with church. We have been talking to a lot of those people in the past week and you know, to be honest  sometimes I get really frustrated with them. I haven't heard so many excuses in my whole time here in Idaho than I have this past week. People saying, "We use Sunday as family time to go hunting" or "The church is too pushy with our kids" or "People at  church judge us." I know this church and this gospel to be an aid of personal growth. You know the common saying "Pain is Gain," well it's not so much pain as it is hard work to become more like our Savior. It seems as if some people see that "pain" as a negative thing, yet in reality it is a good thing! One man in church this week said, "Repentance is the opposite of punishment." I know repentance to be a good change in our lives, not a bad change. Our bishop sent us to ask certain people if they want their names taken off the church records, which would mean a renouncement of their baptismal covenant and losing the gift of the Holy Ghost along with other things. And every one of them has said no! I wonder why they would want to keep their baptismal covenant, yet not be a part of the gospel or coming to church?  I know that everyone has some faith in them. Everyone has a gut feeling to do good in the world, it is just a matter of getting down and doing them. We are trying to help people receive blessings in their life that our Heavenly Father has waiting for them! We hope to spark some extra faith in people and help them exercise that faith in order to grow it. We won't get any stronger unless we exercise a particle of faith.

  One thing that helped me grow my faith this week was an Easter Cantata here in Kimberly. For those who don't know what a Cantata is, it is a gathering of a choir and orchestra to play sacred music. Boy oh boy do the people of Kimberly have some musical talent! The choir had almost 100 people in it and they were accompanied by a small orchestra. People from all sorts of backgrounds were there either attending or performing and the spirit at that Cantata was amazing! I am particularly prone to feeling the spirit through music and I had chills and goose bumps most of the time. I thought, during the performance, if I wasn't a believer coming in, I would definitely be a believer coming out! I don't know how people could deny such a strong spirit! The whole time the choir and orchestra were playing, pictures of Christ were being showed through a projector that went along with the words. Seeing pictures of our Savior, while songs of praise were being sung about Him added a lot to the performance. I love music and everything it offers!

   Well that was the highlight of the week other than find a new family to teach, the Hamoka's! Rudy and Carol are in their 70's and have a daughter, a couple a grand-kids and like six or seven great grand -kids living with them. None of them has ever heard about the gospel or read the Book of Mormon so we are starting fresh! They have awesome questions and awesome personalities. Love you all!

-Elder Ethan Howard

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Southern Hills of Idaho

From Ethan: Mon, Mar 9, 2015 11:38 am

After the first week in a new area it always gets better. Right when I came here we knew nobody… I really mean nobody!! So this last week all that we did was meet people in the ward and people that the previous missionaries had taught. It went very well but it was pretty stressful trying to remember everybody's name. I can remember back to places like Mountain Home and Burley with lots of people to meet. It took me a couple months to really love the people and the area, but Kimberly is different! Maybe it's because I've done this more than a couple times!  I really am starting to love this Kimberly area! We have met some really fantastic people. Probably my favorite is an older woman, Jean Johnson, who was baptized in December. 

Jean and I made an immediate connection because she was born in Milaca, Minnesota which is just one hour from my house! She moved to California when she was a little girl but she still knows what it's like back in the greatest state of all :] She is an amazing lady! Last September she was invited to church by her neighbor. The first Sunday there she felt the spirit! She has only missed one day of church since then! She was baptized in December and has already been to the temple to d o baptisms for 22 of her ancestors! Now that's what I call converted to the gospel. We still have a lesson with her every week, pretty much review. We don't teach Jean, she teaches us :]

We also had a fun trip this weekend up to a youth camp out in the Southern foothills of Idaho! We were able to tell of the First Vision in the woods to all the youth and the Spirit was super strong. Being out in the wilderness, close to God and all of His wonderful creations, telling of a miracle that happened just 200 years ago was quite the experience. We also shared with the m how we can share the gospel with people by letting them feel of the Love of God. We can share the gospel by simply smiling at someone and letting them have a better day. It was an awesome experience and YAY! There was like 4 feet of snow! 

Well Kimberly is awesome and I am learning a lot from the people I am meeting as well as Elder Cardon my companion, I am sad we only have like 3 weeks left. Thank you for all your support and I'd love to hear from you!

- Love, Elder Ethan Howard

Monday, March 9, 2015

Emergency Transfer to Kimberly!

From Ethan: Mon, Mar 2, 2015 11:29 am

Crazzzzy week!! Some stuff happened in the mission so a bunch of changes were made.  Elder Te'o and I were chosen to split up and move to new areas. I am so sad I had to leave Burley but now I am in Kimberly, ID! This town closely borders the south of Twin Falls. There are about 3,000 people in Kimberly with 6 wards!! That’s a super high density of LDS people living here. We cover two wards and have a car half of the time, just like in Mountain Home. My new companion is Elder Cardon from Idaho Falls, ID! Crazy, right? Well, he is a trial missionary and will serve for two transfers to see if he is ready to serve a full-time two year mission. Elder Cardon has been on his mission for 8 weeks so he has 4 more until he goes home to decide whether he wants to serve full time or not. It's a little bit of a struggle because he is very particular about things and has a very short memory. He has only been in Kimberly for a week so we are pretty much white washing the area (starting from scratch.) It's really hard and a bit of a challenge but I am up to anything! 

Back in Burley I have some news. We were super excited this last Tuesday to get a text from Taggert Patterson (the 13 year old Chinese boy) on his dad's phone.  The text read "this is Taggert. I am ready to be baptized." YAH!! Taggert is so awesome. He has been praying and praying for the desire to be baptized and he got it!! He will be baptized this Saturday Mar. 7th but sadly I won't be there for it. The missionaries there are suppose to send me pictures and a program though! Even though I won't be there I am super happy for Taggert because his wish has been granted. He finally has a place in his heart for Jesus Christ :)

Well, we are working and working to find some people to teach here in Kimberly. We don't have anyone yet but the Lord will provide somebody, I'm sure of it :) I have met some great members here who are all really cool so with their help this area will be kickin' in no time! It's been a crazy week and I'm sure it'll get even crazier but you know change is good. I love Burley and I am sad to go but I am hopeful that Kimberly will grow in my heart just as much.

Thanks for all your support and love you all! 

-Elder Howard 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Te'o to the End! & Heisinger's Baptism!

Elder Te'o to the End!
From Ethan: Mon, Feb 16, 2015 11:42 am

      Transfer calls this week and I really had a feeling I was going to leave Burley but alas I will be staying here with Elder Te'o yet another transfer! He will leave home in April so I am with him until his “death” on the mission :) Pretty sweet cause we get along super well and are seeing lots of success in our area. Staying with him till the end might mean I will be here another 3 months on top of the 6 I have already been here. Looks like Burley Unity will be the area I will serve the longest in.
       I have some sweet news! Ron and Shirley Hiesinger are being baptized this Saturday Feb. 21st at 4:00pm. I am super excited for them. They are two golden good people :) They have really come to gain strong testimonies in the Restored Gospel and renewed faith in Jesus Christ. They have embraced the ward as their family and it's really awesome to see how happy they are now compared to 6 months ago. I love that aspect of the gospel, how much happiness it brings into people's lives and how much joy it brings! I know for myself, I am way more upbeat whenever I am choosing the right and following the Lord. Ron and Shirley have that desire to follow the Lord and that is why they are getting baptized! I will have the honor of confirming them as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as well as giving them the Gift of the Holy Ghost on the day after their baptism. What a blessing!!
        I am super excited for the next couple of months. First of all the weather has been amazing here and we will start to do more yard work for people and giving service all the time! Secondly, the work here is awesome and I truly love the people here in the Burley Unity area. We are looking forward to Taggert Patterson, the adopted 13 year old boy from China, being baptized in the upcoming weeks as well as a couple of younger boys who have recently come back to church with their families. All is good in Burley Idaho :)

- Your friend, brother, son, fellow adventurer, first mate and missionary,
      Elder Ethan Howard

Heisinger's Baptism!
From Ethan: Mon, Feb 23, 2015 10:44 am

      This week was awesome because Ron and Shirley Heisinger were baptized! The story of how they received the gospel in their lives is a pure testimony to me of how our Heavenly Father has a hand in all things as it says in 2 Nephi 2:24, "But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things."    
      Ron and Shirley Heisinger, in their seventies, have lived in Burley, ID just three years. Both from Oregon originally, they were married there about ten years ago. When they moved into the Unity 1st ward boundaries, it just happened to be right next to a field where Neil Thomas, our ward mission leader, farms. Over a couple years they started talking over the fence like Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor and Wilson on the show Home Improvement. After those couple of years Brother Thomas kept getting impressions that he should approach Ron and Shirley about the gospel. However he kept putting it off and putting it off until one day about six months ago Ron told him that he was having hip surgery and Shirley needed some help around the house. Finally it clicked in Bother Thomas' mind! He asked if the missionaries could come and help her out by cleaning the yard, mowing the lawn and various other miscellaneous jobs. They accepted! To add a point of interest, Bother Thomas didn't invite them to church off the bat but he took the opportunity to help us fulfill our calling by simply giving service. Well the time came for Ron's surgery. We got to have fun doing house work and getting to know Shirley! (Thank you mom and dad for teaching me how to do some good house work).
        When Ron was in the hospital he got to know his therapist, Andrea Farfan, quite well. Andrea is a member of the church in town and at the time she was pregnant. Being far from family, Ron asked Andrea if they could be "adopted grandparents" to the new baby and the other kids. Having a good relationship, Andrea accepted and they became like family. When they had Christmas together and other fun times, they started noticing something a little different about the Farfan family and their happiness.
         After we helped Ron and Shirley for a couple weeks, we invited them to hear the lessons. During the space of a couple months of teaching lessons and the Heisingers affiliating with the Farfans, I guess the Spirit touched them because they gained a desire to find out if the church was true. They have attended church for four months and have read most of the Book of Mormon. Through diligent prayer and reading they gained testimonies that this church was true! It is really awesome to notice how the Lord placed us, Brother Thomas and the Farfan family in Ron and Shirley lives at different times and in different places to help them learn about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter--day Saints. Funny enough we didn't even know about the Farfan family, much less meet them until just a month before Ron and Shirley got baptized. Coincidence?! I think not.
          On a different note, Elder Te'o and I got to cook for a family instead of them cooking for us! We fried Salmon in a secret receipe :) I really love all the families in our area! Sundays are my favorite day because we get to visit and spend time with some awesome families. I am lucky enough to be serving in the USA so I can visit all these people for the rest of my life with ease! I'm just a lucky guy to be serving in such a great place. Sorry to all my friends in crazy places like Chile, Australia or Madagascar, but Twin Falls Idaho is the best mission in the world!

Love, Elder Howard!