Monday, May 31, 2010

Bulgaria Pictures

President's palace
Sofia Statue
MTC group!
Right before we jumped in the water
Skipping down the yellow brick road
I skipped too close to the camera

English Service

Last week we met a lady for English practice, when we got to her house she said that she "knew what we are all about" that we just want to baptize her and make her a member of our church. She said we were falsely advertising English as a way to get into people's homes and convert them. She was very aggressive and not polite at all. I almost wanted to say, that's right and if you don't want it, then I'm out of here! Luckily, Sister Murphy spoke before I could and she said that of course we would love to share our beliefs with people, but if you just want English, then that is our service to you. The lady then changed the subject and arranged for another meeting the next week. When the next week came around, I really didn't want to go back, but because we are honest, we went to the meeting. When we got there, she had a coworker there that stayed in the background and didn't really participate. After some time the first lady actually picked up a Book of Mormon and started looking through it while asking questions. Then her coworker started telling us that she had met with the missionaries before when she lived in Italy, and she liked us a lot. She said the only problem she has is that she really loves Mary the mother of Christ, and she doesn't understand why we do not worship her. We talked a little more and left feeling very good. We don't know if there is any potential right now for either of these women, but we felt that we were supposed to be there and to have had that meeting. So something that we thought we were dreading, turned into something uplifting! The Lord really does have His hand in this work.

-Sister Howell

Monday, May 24, 2010


This has been one of the fastest weeks of my mission! Probably because I wasn't in my mission for almost three days on my visa renewal trip to Bulgaria.
We made all our trains and planes and buses on time with no big problems. I was delighted to meet so many people from all over the world at the airports. It was interesting to hear the Bulgarian language that sounds like Russian, but is still not understandable. We traveled with two missionaries from a different mission in Ukraine and I felt almost guilty that I would be apart of the Temple opening and they wouldn't. Even in the Bulgarian mission office, they have a big picture of the Kiev Temple and updates underneath. I am so blessed to be in the best mission on Earth! I was afraid that the trip might make me "trunky", but it turned out just the opposite, being away from my area, my mission, my Ukraine, and knowing that I still have some months left, made me super eager to jump right back in and get to work!

Yesterday all the missionaries in Khmelnitsky set up a table of books for about an hour. Sister Murphy and I talked to a very nice babushka who we almost got a referral from. Then a woman from another faith came up to us and started telling us what she believes and didn't want to listen to us. We tried to offer her some brochures, but she wouldn't accept them, then Sister Murphy testified of Jesus Christ and she agreed with everything, then she got so wound up that when a young man came up to us, the lady started preaching repentance to him! It was hilarious! I'm grateful that he still stuck around long enough for us to get his number, he seems really cool. After they both left a man came up and started telling us the history of Ukraine and his views on religion. It didn't seem like he would ever go away, so we got helped out by some rain that allowed us to pack up our stuff and run out of there! I haven't done book stands very often on my mission, and I'm not sure they are the most effective, but you sure do meet some very interesting people.
I love missionary work. I'm so happy that I will never ever have to stop being a missionary.

-Sister Howell

Monday, May 17, 2010

My traditional dress!

I hate needles!

Welcome to rainy season in Ukraine! I have been pretty good at controlling the weather. Whenever I bring my umbrella, it doesn't rain. Whenever I don't bring my umbrella, it does.
As was the case when Sister Murphy and I went in to have our blood tested for "Sneed" (HIV), for out trip to Bulgaria to re-new our Ukrainian visa. It was one of the most frightening experiences. We were already drenched like dogs when we walked into the small facility. There were three very skinny men sitting on a bench inside making loud comments about us, then we were taken into an office and tried to explain what we wanted. Then they figured it out, or so we hoped and took us into the medical room where there was lots of plastic and pointy objects. Sister Murphy went first and after the needle was in, the nurse accidentally knocked it and it went sideways. I'm rocking back and forth just thinking about it. Then it was my turn. If it wasn't for the sake of missionary work I would have ran out of there as fast as I could! But I sat down and stuck out my arm, squeezed my eyes shut and it was over before I knew it. Sister Murphy and I left running and said that if we did not have aids before, we did now. We had to wait three days before returning and were dreading it the whole time. When we went back it was a bright beautiful sunny day because I was carrying an umbrella. We slowly opened the door to the facility and saw a six year old girl skipping happily about and a cleaning lady who was very friendly. We had to wait about five minutes before the nurse was ready to meet with us. We talked to the little girl, and her mother when she came out, and gave them a family proclamation. Then we were invited into the office, and when the nurse was filling out our certificates another nurse and the head doctor came in and they were all smiling and asking us questions about why we are here- super friendly. I think maybe they were so impressed that two young American girls both were HIV free, they wanted to how we do it and more about our message! We gave them all family proclamations that explain why! So after all, it turned out to be a good experience. I even want to go back there to check up on our new friends!

-Sister Howell

Monday, May 10, 2010

Finding Families

Well, I think that I went from the largest ward in Ukraine to the smallest branch.
There were only four members in church on Sunday. This branch needs a lot of help.
We did a service project planting potatoes so that other potatoes would grow.
I was thinking... You know how in the pioneering days, families were called to go settle an area of land so that that place would grow and flourish?
Maybe that would work for Kmilnitsky! Call a strong family from one of those big wards and plant them here so that other families will grow! And we can reap the harvest!
It could work!
We need families so bad. That is what it really is all about. It is the second principle we teach, just right after "God is our loving Heavenly Father." So it must be important. The gospel is supposed to strengthen families. So why is it so difficult for a family to be baptised? Sister Murphy and I really want to focus on families. We are thinking and thinking about a good approach that isn't scary, and also intriguing. I hate giving English lesson, but I know it is a good recourse for finding people. In the Voscresinsky ward, the last five baptisms were all from English. But that is only targeting a small amount of English speakers. I can see how that works, because people normally run from religious people running up and down the streets, knocking on doors and forcing religious brochures into their hands. So English is a way for people to meet us, get to know us, and find out that we are not super scary people and then they want to hear about what we believe. How can we do something that all the choice, elect, righteous, people will be interested in? I think if we found that answer, the world would be baptised by now, at least the good half.

Let me know if you have any ideas!!!

-Sister Howell

Monday, May 3, 2010


I got transferred to Khmilnitsky! And Sister Murphy (my MTC companion) is my companion again! It is a beautiful place in Mid-west Ukraine. Where about 50 percent of the people speak Ukrainian! It is so much cleaner then Kiev. And greener too! There are so many trees and grass and flowers all over! There is no traffic and the buses are not over-crowded. I love small towns!
The down side is that the branch here is soo small. There were only 15 people at church on Sunday and that is more then usual. And 6 of them were missionaries! Crazy!
Working in a branch is so interesting. The branch's building is located right next to a soccer stadium. And right below us is a sport's bar, so in sacrament meeting on Sunday, I heard Elvis in the background. Not very conductive to the Spirit, but an experience I won't soon forget. The members are great though, I love it already.
It is interesting to be serving with Sister Murphy again. It is similar to our MTC experience, except for the cooking together part. We are both semi-picky eaters, but we will just have to figure out what foods work for both of us.
I'll see if I can send some pictures next week.

-Sister Howell