Monday, April 27, 2015

The Only Thing Constant in Life is Change

From Ethan: Mon, Apr 27, 2015 10:22 am    

With Elder Cardon going to the MTC this Tuesday I am due for some change! I still don't know what is going to happen tomorrow but I guess I'll find out what's down when I get to the Mission Office to drop him off. We will meet Elder Cardon's family at the mission office tomorrow, then he will drive down with them to Provo, stay over night and enter the MTC on Wednesday. Two weeks late r he will return to our mission . He might come back to Kimberly, but it's more likely that he will go somewhere else in Idaho. On top of all the transfers a couple of sets of Elders are moving residences as well so we are all changing places and companions and what not! It is most probable that I will get a new companion tomorrow but I might also go into a trio and jointly cover two areas. The last couple months have been just filled with change! Deep thoughts of Elder Howard : in reality, the only constant thing in life is change.

A lot of the Elders that came out with me are suffering from a term called "trunky". Being trunky is a complicated thing but it is mostly missing home, feeling depressed about the work and wanting to be lazy. For some reason right around 20 months is when most missionaries start feeling this way, some before and some after. I'm lucky enough not to have a trunky feeling all the time, but with the movie "Avengers: Age of Ultron " coming out on Friday I have been catching myself being jealous of all those who get to see it right away , ha ha. But there are a couple of Elders in my district that I've been helping to see the joy in our work... well really The Lord's work! I love love love being out here and helping people come closer t o Christ everyday. Rejection is not that fun, but it's the trying that really counts. I will be super sad to be released as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But I still have 5 months so it's all good!

Not much has changed in the work here but Russ and Maggie came to church yesterday! It was great to have them there .  We had a nontraditional lesson before church as well! We taught Russ how to tie a tie. It was cool. Also the trees and flowers have been blooming here like crazy!! It always smells super good outside this time of year. But that's about it, you'll find out next week who my new companion(s) is/are. Thanks for all you do! Love and Miss you guys :)

  -Elder Ethan Howard

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Truth and Power of the Restoration

From Ethan: Mon, Apr 20, 2015 10:44 am

   I would venture to say that my favorite part of being a missionary is teaching about the Restoration and Book of Mormon. The Spirit that comes from teaching people about a true Restoration definitely cuts people to the heart. We were lucky enough to be able to share theRestoration video with Russ Gaynor this past Friday. My favorite part in that movie is after Joseph Smith had the first vision, he tried to tell a preacher about it. The preacher told him not to speak of it anymore and that it didn't happen. What Joseph said afterwards is, "I knew it, and I knew that God knew it." That just gets me good! I feel the same way about the Restoration of the gospel. I know it's true because I have prayed to God and asked if the Book of Mormon is true scripture. I got an answer and I KNOW it is true! Now I can say, "I know it, and I know that God knows it."
  The thing I love about our missionary work is that we never force people to believe. We always invite people to pray and ask God to find out for themselves it is true. In Preach My Gospel it says, "Elder M. Russell Ballard spoke of the power of the Spirit: 'True conversion comes through the power of the Spirit. When the Spirit touches the heart, hearts are changed. When individuals . . . feel the Spirit working with them, or when they see the evidence of the Lord’s love and mercy in their lives, they are edified and strengthened spiritually and their faith in Him increases. These experiences with the Spirit follow naturally when a person is willing to experiment upon the word. This is how we come to feel the gospel is true' (“Now Is the Time,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 75)." Our main focus as missionaries is to lead people to an experience where they can feel the Spirit of God witness the truth to them. If that doesn't happen then people just go off the word of two eighteen to twenty year old young men or women and never really have a testimony planted in their heart. 
  But back to Russ, having a baby has really opened his heart to the gospel. Their little baby Andrew is so cute! But after watching the Restoration video with them Russ mentioned to us that he feels it is true but wants to really find out in his heart, so we invited him to pray, obviously! He said he would and we gave him a Book of Mormon to read and pray about. Good stuff!

The more we get to know this area the better it gets. We are still struggling to really reach out to everyone we can and finding it hard to help people progress but the harder we work the better it'll get! We are still really lucky to have so many wonderful people who have us over for dinner. We get by pretty well. Elder Cardon goes to the MTC next Tuesday! I still don't know what will happen, if I'll get a new companion or be put in a trio but whatever happens I'm sure it'll be good.

Good things are happening!
Love you all :)
-Elder Ethan Howard

Monday, April 13, 2015

Some things you can't count, really count.

From Ethan: Mon, Apr 13, 2015 10:34 am
So far I think Kimberly has been the toughest area I have served in. Then again it is a little bit like Mountain Home where we started out with nothing but things are getting better! Elder Cardon and I hit the pavement hard this week and we got a lot done but it hasn't been showing in our reports of numbers. It is a little discouraging but I love this quote from Albert Einstein," Many of the things you can count, don't count. Many of the things you can't count, really count."

From General Conference this April we learned from President Uchtdorf in his talk On being Genuine that "if Jesus Christ were to sit down with us and ask for an accounting of our stewardship, I am not sure He would focus much on programs and statistics. What the Savior would want to know is the condition of our heart. He would want to know how we love and minister to those in our care... and how we lighten their daily load. And the Savior would want to know how you and I grow closer to Him and to our Heavenly Father.". We know you cannot count how much you love people, or even how much you try to help them. Only the Lord knows our desires and how hard we are really working to progress the work forward. Elder Cardon and I have been struggling with rejection this week. It seems like nobody wants our help to come closer to Jesus Christ or even learn about Him! Two families we have been trying to help come back to church told us they didn't want visits anymore. I feel so bad when that happens and ask myself, what did I do wrong? I don't know why they decided to discontinue our relationship but I know that I am trying my best to help people and I know that God knows as well. 

On a more positive note, Russ and Maggie Gaynor had their baby this last Friday! His name is Andrew and we get to meet him today over lunch :) We are also going to go on a hike with our Twin Falls North Zone down in the canyon here in Twin so that should be fun. I'm grateful for the wonderful missionaries I serve around and also the wonderful member of the church that have us in their home when we are struggling to find things to do.

Idaho is still the best!! (You know besides Minnesota!) To my surprise, there are an unruly number of Green Bay Packers fans out here. I cannot figure it out other than they are just band wagon fans. VIKINGS >>> Packers.

Love you all and thank you for your support!

- Elder Ethan Howard  

Monday, April 6, 2015

Happy Easter!!

From Ethan: Mon, Apr 6, 2015 10:04 am
Hello friends and family, Happy Easter!! It just keeps getting better and better every Christmas or Easter out here on my mission. I think the reason being that I am growing in my relationship with my Savior Jesus Christ. I never realized how important He really is in my life until now and I'm sure that realization will become bigger and bigger as I live my life. In our discussions with people this week, while our message is always centered in Christ, it was even more focused on our Savior and the Atonement which he performed in our behalf. I came to a bigger knowledge of all of my faults and how far I am away from "perfection". We were lucky this weekend as well to hear from our Prophet and Apostles during General Conference. I have said before in this blog how lucky we are to have a modern day Prophet and Apostles. I am very, very grateful to the men called to leadership positions in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and for all the sacrifices they and their families make. I'm sure it is a blessing for them just as I feel the blessings of being a missionary! 

We had a great time this week being able to share the Restoration with a man by the name of Russ Gaynor. He is married to a member of the church and while doing some yard work with him he told us "you know guys, I really do feel a light from her and her beliefs."  Russ and Maggie are in an important life changing time in their journey as a husband and wife, they are just about to have their first baby! Maggie is seriously like UBER pregnant and the baby should come this week! Well along with the Restoration we shared with Russ, "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" ( The Family: A Proclamation to the World) which is a proclamation given by the Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley in 1995, preparing us to protect our families from the bad influence in the world and define God's views on families and their importance. We felt the Spirit testify strongly in our discussion. At the end Russ agreed for the most part and told us "in the future I can see our family all together sitting at church." Russ has felt the Spirit, I know he has! He said that he doesn't make decisions quickly so we are giving him time to learn more but I know he has good desires.

Time is flying by too quickly! My second Easter has passed, my second birthday, (Dang I'm 20 so I officially have to grow up... nah), also my second March Madness has almost passed! I can't wait to finally be able to follow it closely next year but for real I'm sad my Spartan's lost but #GoWisconsin! Some mission news: There are six zones in our mission. Carey, Jerome, Burley, Rupert, Twin Falls North and Twin Falls South. Our District, Kimberly District, just got moved from the Twin Falls South Zone to the North Zone! So that means that I have served in all the zones besides Rupert. Who knows if I will serve in Rupert but I've really jumped around the mission a lot. I love all the area's I've served in. the people of Idaho are amazing!! Pretty close to the coolness of Minnesotans but not quite :) Well Happy Easter and remember out Savior Jesus Christ in your life. Remember His perfection, miracles and grace. And watch this cool Video!! ---> " BecauseHeLives"

Love you all! - Elder Ethan Howard

P-Day Outing

From Ethan: Mon, Mar 30, 2015  

(This was to me, his mom.  He did not write a group message or to anyone else.  I guess he must have been too excited about their outing!)

Well Elder Cardon will leave to the MTC on April 26th, I'm staying with him until then and that's in four weeks so I don't know what will happen the other two weeks of the transfer... Maybe a trio or I'll get transferred mid-transfer again. Today we are going to Shoshone Falls here in Twin Falls, which apparently is a waterfall even higher than Niagra Falls! But there isn't as much water because they haven't released much from the dam so I don't know what it'll be like.

Spring Has Arrived!

From Ethan: Mon, Mar 23, 2015 11:26 am

It has been super nice weather as of late!! Just about every day it gets into the 60's and the sun is shining. With the nice weather we've been able to meet people outside and do some great service! We met a guy named Danny Rios and we are helping him get his house ready to sell. He is a great guy who would literally do anything for anyone! He is originally from California and has lived here in Kimberly for five or six years with his wife and three kids. We were just talking to him about how awesome service is and how we love to help people just cause and then all the sudden he was like, "Yeah you guys can come over anytime you want and just talk about... stuff". I'm pretty sure he was going to say God or religion or something like that so we went over yesterday and set up a time we could teach him and his kids! We will see what happens. If his heart is open and we invite the Spirit, miracles will happen :)

Recently I've been studying and thinking a lot about kindness and charity. Those are two things that are really essential to our path to true discipleship of Jesus Christ. In Matthew 7:1 it reads "Judge not, that ye be not judged". I've seen judging take the worst out of people and myself. Way too many times I will judge a person by their outward appearance and not have anything to do with them but I always think, that's not what Christ would do. No matter what a person looked like, no matter if they had leprosy or were rich or poor or black or white Christ would always be their friend and help them. If we want to be true disciples of Jesus Christ, we need to act as he would! So let's abolish judgments from our minds and love everyone :) Let kindness and charity flow! I know I am going to focus on become more kind and charitable this next week and hopefully the rest of my life! I know it'll be great :) Love you all! 

-Elder Ethan Howard