Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Sister Howle's last email!

Hello all!

Sorry I haven't been writing the past couple of weeks!

So, I got transferred back to the Don Mills district-- I'm back in Toronto! It was always my dream to come back to Toronto at the end of my mission. And! I'm serving my baby Sister Raymant and my MTC companion's baby, Sister Mau. I love them both SO much. Heavenly Father knew perfectly well how much I needed them. They are my best friends and I have so much fun with them every single day. They are such beautiful daughters of God. Heavenly Father sure loves me a lot. 

So many miracles have happened this past week from

meeting Olga who wants to be baptized into Jesus Christ's church 
Sherri who wants to go from Muslim to Mormon
seeing all the YSA again on Sunday 
contacting and working on these sacred streets I lived on a year ago
members being available and willing to come teaching when they usually wouldn't be
having people contact us about coming to church and about their progress
seeing a less-active we reached out to a year ago being fully active in the church and considering a mission
hearing about a recent convert who is going to the Temple, sharing the gospel with his friends, and contacting with the elders
things just falling into place the way it's meant to

Plus sooooo many more. 

Talebi! He is my hero.
I'm supposed to write a letter to President about what my mission means to me. All I can say right now is that I join with Ammon when I say, "I cannot say the smallest part which I feel." (Alma 26:16) Because I can't; I can't say the smallest part which I feel about this beautiful mission the Saviour has allowed me to join Him on. I'm forever grateful. 

I may not always be a full-time missionary, but I'll always be a full-time disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. I love the Lord and I know He lives!

I'm grateful for all the support and prayers in my behalf from back home these past 18 months! I love ya all and am so grateful for the blessings you've provided my life and sent my way. 

Make today great, smile, and be happy!

Packing up! :(

the subways will forever have my heart-- my first subway station I ever went to

i love Toronto

Columbian food!

planning. errdayy

Crazy storm!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Just pictures!

after the wedding!
Packing :(

They had us wear matching sweatshirts :)
I guess she was annoyed with me hahaha

exchanges are fun!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Day by day..

Hey hey!

Monday-- us and some ward members did lawn service for an older couple in the ward. Her husband just got out of the hospital so that was nice for them to come home to a clean home.

Tuesday-- unplanned, we went by a less-active's home and caught her in the middle of her scripture studies! Yes! We also went on splits with some members and visited some less-active families and reminded them of the importance of going to church, praying, and reading the scriptures. Those are the basics and play SUCH a crucial role in us holding to the rod!
the zone leaders always want to hike on preparation day (eye roll)

Wednesday-- we visited a less-active young woman who has a lot of questions and is ready to meet with the missionaries (that's us!) and she even came to church on Sunday and loved it :) That night we went to a dinner that the young men prepared for all the missionaries and we talked about missions and what to expect, why to go, fears, etc. It was great! 

typical Courtney
Thursday-- We had sports night at the church and SO MANY PEOPLE CAME! It was a hit! Lots of investigators and members, it was fun! We also tracted this apartment building since our appointment fell through and we found a young boy interested in knowing if God is there, a lesbian couple who want to know more about if God has a plan, and a cool guy who has been sober for almost a year and has been prepared for the message of the restored gospel! Exciting!!

Friday-- we visited a new crazy family in the ward from Welland! They have 3 little boys, the youngest is so cute and flirty you wouldn't believe hahah. We also were working in an area and ran into a less-active family and had the opportunity to help them out around the house. Hearts are being softened and prepared!

Saturday-- we went back to teach our sober friend and his girlfriend was notttt happy we were there, but our bold member who was with us goes, "What are you afraid of??" And she paused and said nothing. She still wasn't happy, but hopefully we'll be able to see our investigator again! We also visited with this cute less-active YSA girl who is coming back with her family (the ones we saw Tuesday night on splits!)- we had a good conversation over frozen yogurt :) We also met these sweaty, high men outside on there porch telling us they were famous and making a movie so we spoke Jamaican to them and they loved it and we became good friends-- that was pretty cool!
Japanese cookies, yummy!
Sunday-- We had church and went to young women's (love them). And after we took one of the YW thinking about a mission teaching with us and we ended up going tracting and we found this cute single mom who loves her newborn baby girl so much and has been searching for God more recently. Pretty cool, eh? So we're excited to go back and visit her this week!

Things are great! I love it here! 

Have a great week and be happy!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Time just flies by too fast!

This week was great! Time just flies by too fast, though!

This week we saw Rick again... too bad he is moving?! Hopefully the missionaries in his area will be able to find him and teach him. He knows what he needs to do.

We also met with a recent convert, Emily! We talked about the Temple and different things we think of when we think of the Temple. We also talked about Patriarchal blessings and what wonderful guides they are for us!

We also started teaching this Filipino woman who is the aunt of a less-active member. She is actually really prepared! She asked a lot of good questions about the Restoration and compared prophets to "bridges". How cool? They totally bridge the gap of modern revelation between God and His children. Nice!

We also had a big meeting this past week and talked a lot about the importance of the sacrament. Something I loved that was said by one of the Apostles is,

"Now is the time to give the sacrament back to the Saviour."

I love that! The sacrament is sooo important. It really is the only ordinance we perform for ourselves, over and over again. How beautiful is that?
We also celebrated Canada day on Wednesday and also.... I N D E P E N D E N C E day by having burgers with a member! They remembered and celebrated just for us! How kind!

We taught some cool guys who like to go by BUGS and SMURF. Yeah! We taught them about the Restoration. It was actually kinda hard for them to accept and understand. It just made me so grateful for the organization of the kingdom and the beautiful simplicity and clarity the gospel brings.
I'm so grateful for President Packer and all he was and did during his mortal ministry! Prayers for his family.

The coolest thing almost happened yesterday! So there is an older couple in the ward and their family is visiting for the summer. Their daughter sat by me in RS and I saw that, on the roll, she wrote "Leishman"; I asked her if her husband served in Texas around 2005, because an Elder Leishman taught me and I was baptized in 2005. She said her husband didn't, but his brother did! So they were contacting his brother, but turns out his brother said that there was another elder Leishman that served at the same time as he did. Crazy, I was so close!!

Anyway, I love the gospel. It truly brings such peace and happiness and purpose to our lives. I know the Atonement is real. Jesus Christ loves us so much.

Do something nice for a stranger today! Share the love of Jesus Christ with everyone you come in contact with!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Update of last week and this week!

Okay so here is an update of last week and this week!


So my new companion is Sister Maas! She is from Colorado, loves cucumbers, has been out about a year, graduated from BYU with a degree in Psychology (so perfect for me, I know), and loves people like no one's business. She is awesome, she's exactly what I need right now, so that's a huge blessing!

So right now we are teaching a LAs boyfriend! He is in their band, looks like Mozart, grew up in the Brethren, has a strong, passionate testimony of Christ, and loves holding hands during prayers. He is quite the character and we love him. He is so excited to learn about the Restoration!

One night we had dinner with some solid members and at the end, we asked them if they knew anyone that could use an uplifting message and they told us to go deliver cookies and visit their LA visiting teachee. So we went and she was so happy to see sister missionaries! We have been visiting with her ever since and she is working on coming back to church! What if we didn't ask those members if there was anyone they knew that was ready?

We also dropped by our investigator whom we haven't heard from in a while and as we were praying before going to knock on her door, she left! haha crazy... but then the next day we were with a member going to the Relief Society Enrichment activity, but she had to stop at the grocery store to get some food for the activity. Just before we left, we saw our investigator! We stopped the car and said hi to her! She expressed how busy and stressed she has been with her new job and her kids and her boyfriend and the issues they're all facing. As she expressed her struggles, we got out and just gave her a big hug. She started to cry. It was one of those moments that made me grateful to stand in place of the Saviour at that moment. 

We also dropped by this restaurant owned by members downtown and decided to stop by and say hi! As we did, we met another woman who helps out there and long story short, she invited us to come mow her backyard the next day! So we go and she left a note on the door saying she had to run and we could come back another day! So what do we do? We go around her house, hike through her forest of grass, break into (it was open) her shed, see a couple lawn mowers and just start cutting that jungle down! We got some battle wounds but it was worth it when she came home right when we finished and was shocked. Her heart is for sure being softened. 

Saturday we cleaned Lucy and Julia's restaurant and they made us yummy delicious food!

Okay, so this is cool! One night we are driving past our investigators house, whom we haven't been able to get ahold of, so we decided to turn around and knock on his door. He wasn't home, but turns out his prepared roommate Mike was! We came back the next day. As we taught him about the apostasy, he says, "Is that why there are sooo many churches today?" As we taught him about the Book of Mormon, he was able to learn about his ancestors that met Jesus Christ. And as we taught about Jesus Christ, he cried. He is excited to be baptized! How cool?

We also had the most beautiful day at church. It was Father's day. Brian came and was so happy. I felt the spirit during the sacrament and was filled with gratitude for our Saviour. Returned missionary Mac gave a powerful homecoming talk. We had dinner with Bishop and his family. And the church is just so good and true.

Happy day!



So this week we started it off by doing some service of pulling weeds for a member's neighbor. She is being prepared for the gospel, how exciting?!

We also did some family history with the family history consultants! I love it. I'm excited to get into it more. Those on the other side need us! And we need them. The cool thing is that we are CREATING our own family history right now!

We also went to mow another neighbor's yard (it's mowing season) and on our way, our investigator called us. He is in a rough spot right now (court, kids, money, etc.) He basically called to apologize saying he didn't think it was a good time in his life to meet right now. But as we know, times of trouble are the times that we need to turn to God the most. We testified of Jesus Christ. We sympathized with him. We encouraged him to stay strong and not give up. And we told him that the message we share is exactly what he needs more than anything right now. Prayers!

So a long time ago, we contacted downtown, met a woman, she turned out to be a less-active, she wanted us to teach her niece, we did for a big, she ended up not really being ready just yet, so we felt like dropping by just this past week, we did, her mom was home, her mom is also friends with a member, and now we are teaching her! pretty cool! We also met some kind neighbors of hers, too!

This week we visited the sweetest member that we have just failed to get to know in the past. But she is wonderful! Her husband is a nonmember, but he sure does feel the spirit that she brings to their home, to his life, and from the Temple. She even gave us a whole loaf of delicious banana bread! MMMM.

OH man, so this week we had dinner with a recent convert/less-active/part member family and they STRUGGLE with testimony and other things. But after dinner, we decided to read from 3 Nephi 17 with them and discovered that the incentive for participation is M&Ms!! Woohoo! We have an in now! They are coming along, slowly but surely!

and this is Brian-- bad angle haha
So Brian. He is doing better. Things were kinda rough this week. Long story short, Brian is preparing for baptism in September. He has truly been experiencing godly sorrow. He is making progress and we are so proud of him. He even came to a dinner party at a member's house and had a great time. We shared a spiritual thought that ended up being led and guided and directed by the members and the spirit as they shared what their baptisms have meant to them. Tears were shed and the Spirit was felt. I love such tender, beautiful moments I'm blessed to experience as a missionary.

Rick and Brian came to church yesterday! They know they love it. :)

Yesterday, we went to teach our investigator and his girlfriend (LA), but they had to go, so we worked in their area a little bit. There was a certain street that we didn't realize was the sketchiest part of town, but their we were, just knocking on the doors, putting ourselves in danger, and so Heavenly Father probably rolled His eyes and sent Gord out to tell us that we really shoudn't be over there. We spoke with him. What a nice man he was, he had such kind eyes that you could just tell had seen a lot of things throughout his life. He has come to develop a love for Jesus Christ over the years and he has found a lot of happiness from it. I know his happiness was real.

yummy juice with chia seeds made by sister Lofters
That evening we decided to tract a street of our investigator. We knocked on some doors, but no one was really interested... until we got to Ali and Stu. They are SWEET. We had a really great contact with them at their door and broke the ice right off the bat. As we asked if we could come back this week, Stu says, "Do you want to just come in?" So we do and we teach them the Restoration. Throughout, they asked questions, they said they felt joy, and Stu even prayed for the first time at the end. It was beautiful. They just had a baby, too! I truly gained a stronger testimony last night of how important families are. As parents, they are able to feel just a glimpse of the love the Heavenly Father has for us! And with them having this opportunity to learn of the gospel now, they are allowing their newborn son to grow up in the gospel. And if they get baptized, Stu can baptize his family. How beautiful is the plan?! 

Afterwards, before we even asked if they knew anyone that could use an uplifting message, they were telling us their moms would love to learn more, too.


So we had Zone Conference this week. We talked about the importance of daily contact with the people we serve, role-played applying the fundamentals of missionary work into teaching the Restoration, and the departing missionaries bore their tesitmonies... so that was me.

My heart was pounding harder than ever before, but as soon as I stood up, I was calmed. Kelly shared a great quote with me that pretty much describes how I felt. That sometimes "we can feel His handprints on our backs"

I love being a missionary. I haven't always been able to say that, but I can now. I have a testimony of the Atonement and how it changes us, because it's changed me. I'm sad that my time being a full-time missionary is coming to a close, but as my trainer once said, we are always full-time disciples and that calling doesn't end for a while. I know the Lord loves us and is grateful for the service we render to Him. God lives and so does Jesus Christ. And I love my Saviour, Jesus Christ. 
I had the blessed opportunity of going on exchanges with a brand new sister. She ended up giving me some great commitments at the end. She invited me to get excited about going home as well as to "accept the situation." When she said that, it just really hit me that life moves forward and it's a beautiful thing! That's the way the Lord designed it to be. I know that accepting the situations we are alloted will allow us to not always ask "Why?" but rather, "How?" --- this takes more faith. Which is what I'm working on right now :)

I know this work is true. He lives!



A picture weekly!


the Saviour my fave
Preparation Day!

heading to church

Thursday, June 18, 2015

I know these things are true.

This week was W O N D E R F U L.

So, we have transfers tomorrow! I'm staying in Barrie with Sister Maas, and Sister Rasmussen will be going to Brantford with another sister! We're sad to separate. I love her!

First I just need to bear my testimony about the importance of church attendance!

I think one of the most important things we must never STOP doing is going to church. For many reasons:
-Our Sabbath day behaviour is a reflection of our love for our Heavenly Father!
-we should talk as families about what we learned at church
-people will dwindle in their testimonies if church attendance is not a priority
-we are able to share our testimonies and uplift others at church
-we get to renew our covenants by partaking of the sacrament***

We all can devote 1 HOUR out of 168 HOURS of our week to the Lord by partaking of the sacrament. What a blessing! 

"Everything in the church is so mom, dad, and the kids can be sealed together and be happy at home." -Elder David A. Bednar

So Brian and Rick are doing AWESOME. They both came to church yesterday, stayed for all their classes, made new friends, stayed for a priesthood ordination to see what it was like, and just FELT THE SPIRIT. They will be baptized soon. 

Our Bishop gave a beautiful talk yesterday as well. Some things he said that I loved:

"It has nothing to do with time, it has everything to do with priority."

"If we don't teach our children, their peers and their teachers will."

"If you stand with God, the Almighty, why would you not have courage?"

Truth is spoken here! I love Barrie!

Last night, we had such a good, solid, wholesome, beautiful, spiritual, happy experience with a family last night at dinner whose son just got back from his mission. We talked about the blessings they've seen come to their family as he has served a mission. The spirit is real. I love talking about missionary work :)

Another night we had dinner with the Young Women's President and a member of the Bishopbric and their conversion story was amazing! Hearts can turn! Lives are changed! The Lord knows what He is doing, that is for sure.

We also helped paint a house, volunteered at Salvation Army, and pulled wallpaper off a wall. Fun!

We met with a family this week and shared a message about God's love and watched the Mormon Message, "Hope of God's Light" and it was such a cool experience for this semi/less-active family to share testimonies about God's love and how it's influenced each of their lives. The best was the youngest boy when he says, in the cutest little chipmunk voice and while putting his hand to his heart, "God loves everybody." Ahhhhh.
We also met with a less-active (who is like a famous singer here?) who feels like she has wanted to break up with her boyfriend but also doesn't and then decided the best decision would be to have him receive the missionary discussions. Yeah, we totally support that decision.

And we met with ANOTHER less-active woman who actually came to church on Sunday and stayed longer than she planned! She said, "It was because the Spirit took over." YES.

This week we had a BEAUTIFUL district meeting given by our dying District Leader. He decided to soap box on some powerful lessons he has learned while on his mission and then invited us to make our own lists. I'm excited.

I also read some POWERFUL talks this week! One called The Challenging and Testifying Missionary. After my companion and I read it, we went out, ditched our car and talked to EVERYONE and their dogs and just invited people to be baptized! We ended up meeting Easton, a SWEET guy who is super excited to learn about our special message! Miracles!

I also read another address given by Elder Holland when he was President at BYU. He spoke much about perseverance. I love what he said when he spoke about the story of how the Salt Lake Temple was built after much tribulation:

"Later that year the prestigious Scientific American (1892), referred to this majestic new edifice as a “monument to Mormon perseverance.” And so it was. Blood, toil, tears, and sweat. The best things are always worth finishing. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). Most assuredly you are. As long and laborious as the effort may seem, please keep shaping and setting the stones that will make your accomplishment “a grand and imposing spectacle.” Take advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow. Dream dreams and see visions. Work toward their realization. Wait patiently when you have no other choice. Lean on your sword and rest a while, but get up and fight again. Perhaps you will not see the full meaning of your effort in your own lifetime. But your children will, or your children’s children will, until finally you, with all of them, can give the Hosanna shout."

This is why we must press forward, endure to the end, be steadfast in Christ! We have dreamed dreams and seen visions and we cannot forget that we have. Because, 

"As you wage such personal wars, obviously part of the strength to “hang in there” comes from some glimpse, however faint and fleeting, of what the victory can be."

I know these things are true. The Lord lives. And He loves us. 

Sister Howle