Monday, March 11, 2013

Sister Missionary Feature- Sister Howell


Sister Jessica Howell
Des Mones Iowa Mission
March 13, 2013


Did the age change affect you?

Yes! I am 20 and I turn 21 in June but I would've had to wait to serve until after I graduated because once I'm in my student teaching program I have to stay in school the entire time. The age change was definitely a blessing! feel like the Lord was preparing me for a long time to serve a mission, so the instant the age change was announced I knew I was going. But for a couple months prior to conference I felt like I was at a standstill in my life and I wasn't on the right track. I prayed a lot about this and was trying to figure out what I should do. I pondered and prayed about some questions I had the week before General Conference that I was hoping to have answered and right before conference started I added the question "should I serve a mission?" to my list. Of course, I meant in the future. I had no idea that the Lord would answer my question so soon!



Did you always want to serve a mission? Why/why not?
Yes! Well at least since I started college. I was baptized when I was 16 1/2 and still wasn't very active in the church after my baptism. But when I went to college I decide that I wanted the Gospel in my life and so I started attending church and Institute. I received my Patriarchal Blessing the first semester of college and it was a huge source of guidance. After that I started seriously considering serving a mission. I always had the desire and when others would talk about their missionary experiences I wanted so badly to go serve!


Where did you want to be called? Why?
I wanted to be called to a Spanish speaking mission because I've always wanted to learn Spanish. I also wanted to be called somewhere foreign because I thought it would be awesome to experience a different culture! I really wanted to be called to Spain!



Where were you called? Was this surprising? How do you feel about it?
I was called to the Iowa Des Moines Spanish speaking mission. I was so nervous while I was opening my call and I couldn't wait to see what it said. My imagination was going wild thinking of all the foreign places and possibilities. When I read that I was going to Iowa though, instead of being disappointed or surprised, I was so happy! I knew that Iowa was where the Lord needed me. It felt right. My non-member friends and family kind of struggled with my call and expressed to me multiple times that they wished I was going somewhere cooler or more exciting, but that's not how I feel. I'm not serving a mission to go on a vacation for 18 months. There are people in Iowa who need me and I can't wait to meet them, to help them, and to love them!





Share an interesting missionary experience or story.
I've lived with my grandparents for the past 2.5 years while attending Idaho State University. They are non-active members and clearly told me when I came to school there that they didn't want to be a part of the church and I should never try to have the missionaries over to teach them or anything like that. We hardly ever talked about the church in my first 2 years there. But that all changed when I decided to serve a mission. I came home from General Conference and told them I was going to serve a mission and they were (surprisingly) so supportive! After that, we talked about the church almost every single day and they were always the ones to bring it up! My best friend, Aubrey, and I sang a song in Sacrament meeting one day and it was about missionary work (I Will Not Be Still by Kenneth Cope). After church we went to my house and sang it for my grandparents. The spirit was SO strong and I knew they felt it. Afterwards they got up and gave us both big hugs. It was incredible! I know they still have a long way to go, but they have come so far and I know that the Lord will bless them and help them find their way back!



Why are you serving?
I'm serving because I know that without the missionaries I would not have been baptized and it is important to me to show my Heavenly Father how grateful I am for His gospel in my life. I've seen what life is like without the Gospel and I know that it can be SO much better by being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints! I have such a strong desire to share the Gospel with my brothers and sisters and I can't wait to get out there and teach them! I'm also serving because I know it'll be the greatest investment I've ever made. I know my testimony will be strengthened. I know that I'll be put through the refiners fire and get a little closer to reaching my full potential. I can't wait!



Any advice for future sisters or girls still deciding?

To future sisters who are preparing: do not waste the time you have before your mission. It is so easy to get into a lazy slump and not do anything! I'll admit, I wasted quite a bit of time and I totally regret it. Make sure to read your scriptures every day for 30 minutes or more, study Preach my Gospel, and if you're learning a language try to get a jump start and learn as much as you can!
To girls who are still deciding: don't decide to serve just because it seems like everyone else is. Do what feels right to you. Make sure you pray about it and get an answer because if you decide to go, the adversary will test and tempt you and you want to be sure that this is what you want to do!

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