Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!!

Holy cow, what a week. It was sad to see Manning go - he was an incredibly well-respected missionary around the mission, and so seeing him go home was like the end of an era out here for a lot of us. I picked up Elder Tunney at transfers and went outside to help him put his luggage in our car. Out there by his bags was a crate - a full crate - of golf balls. We're having so much fun I'm surprised we're still together; my abs are constantly sore from laughing nonstop. The best part is the increase in work this past week. I think last week I mentioned we had four people set for of right now, it's increased to seven. It's been absolutely amazing to see how the work moves forward, and it's even more amazing that the Lord would allow Elder Tunney and I to be a part of it. We're teaching a ton and loving it - our teaching styles work really well together and it's nearly effortless. Among my favorite moments this week is this lesson we were having with this family that recently moved here from southern California. At one point during the plan of salvation lesson, the 10 year old boy raises his hand. We call on him and he looks us full in the face and says, "I feel so good when we talk about these things. I believe everything you tell me". It's so humbling when these children feel the spirit so strongly and nearly burst at the seams with how happy they are. This ten year old boy we met a couple of weeks ago played a shepherd in our wards nativity play this past Saturday and the family is on fire. It's truly been an amazing week.

We've had a lot of great experiences this week, but I'll tell you all about them this Wednesday when we get to Skype! I'm so excited - it feels like it hasn't been that long since we last talked. I'm looking forward to spending another Christmas with my family :)

Love (and Merry Christmas!),


Elder Dowdle's Santa hat

 Elder Dowdle and Elder Houghton performed a guitar duet at a family's home. Click the link to watch.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Elder Manning is leaving...and Elder Tunney is moving in.

Hey, everyone!

My new companion is who I thought it was: Elder Tunney, from San Diego, California! I'm really excited to serve with him; we've served around each other before in Tule Springs and he was one our of District Leaders while I was in Lakes - a great guy that Elder Herlin and I knew we could really trust. He's probably going to the U when he gets home as well, so there's one more person I'll know around that area after the mission.

Elder Manning's bags are packed and ready to go. Last night we went to go see some of his converts in his first area, and that was a neat experience. His time is up and it's weird to be the one to "kill" him off. When you think about it, all of the mission-to-life analogies are pretty spot on. You're "born" (start your mission) to a "father" (your trainer) who teaches you everything you need to know, you gain more experience and learn how to act appropriately, you have a "son" (trainee) of your own, and at the end of your two years, you "die" (go home). What happens after you die? You're reunited with your loved ones! :) It all fits too well. Anyways, Manning dies today and it's been a trippy experience for him and for me. However, we've made this last week count.
As of right now, we have four investigators set for baptism in the coming weeks. Even better, all four of them were at church yesterday and stayed for all three hours! Amazing things are happening in this area right now, and it's moving faster than we can keep up with. We're teaching so much that it's getting hard to find time for all of the appointments - just tonight, I pick up Elder Tunney around 6:00, we go home and drop off his stuff, and we head to our first lesson of three for the night. It's humbling, seeing the change in work in the past six weeks; we're truly being blessed. I'm excited to see what happens for the next six weeks with Elder Tunney and I. 
I'm so excited for Christmas, I can hardly see straight. One of our members gave us some decorations for our tree, which means now we have to go out and get a tree! I'm looking forward to skyping and talking with you guys; Mothers Day honestly feels like it was last week. It's frightening how fast this is all going. Anyways, things are great and getting better every week. 
Love you so much!


Monday, December 9, 2013

'Tis the Season...

Hey guys!

So this is Elder Manning's last week, so we've got to make it a good one. It's always somewhat odd being around a missionary who's going home soon - it's always in the back of both of our minds. He's being a good example on how to use it to your advantage, however, and his fast-approaching plane ride is motivating him as opposed to slowing him down. It's putting an urgency into our missionary work, which I kind of like; I wish I could always work as if I was going home in a week.
But now to continue last weeks story with the woman who watched the DVD - we had a good lesson on Wednesday and she asked a lot of questions, a lot of really good and thoughtful questions. You could tell she really wanted to know the answers. We had our Mission Leadership Council on Wednesday at the Lakes Stake Center, so while we were down there we stopped at the only Deseret Book in town and picked up a couple copies of "Mormons: An Open Book" by Anthony Sweat. It's an awesome book answering all of the questions that most people want to know - questions about our beliefs, practices, history. The price was down from 20 bucks to 5, so I picked up several of them. We went by later that night and dropped off a copy with her, and ever since then, she hasn't stopped reading/learning, and we couldn't make her stop if we tried. We had a lesson on the Book of Mormon on Saturday night and she's been texting us about the stories and characters all weekend. She mentioned to us "If Nephi could forgive his brothers and the sons of Ishmael for trying to kill him, then I can forgive as well"; she then called someone she's been holding a grudge against for years and apologized, saying she forgave him and asked for his forgiveness. It's absolutely incredible to see the change the Spirit has wrought in this person after ONE WEEK of learning! She came with us to the First Presidency's Christmas devotional last night and really felt the spirit. It's been a great week because we've been able to witness, in a very real way, a "change of heart".
This is all so true, I can barely stand it. I've had several moments this week where I stop what I'm doing and just marvel at how perfect the Savior and His teachings are. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the fullness of the everlasting gospel has been restored to the Earth. I also know that this happened because we're loved, loved more than we can imagine.
By the time I email next week, I will have heard about who my new companion is and will have a better idea of my situation for the next couple of months. If it's who I think it is (who the AP's have hinted at), then it's going to be an awesome couple of months,

'tis the season and all that,


Elders Dowdle and Manning

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving was Great!!

It's December!

I'm so very ready for this Christmas season - I've been listening to Christmas music since June. It's crazy to think about what was going on this time last year. I was in Logandale, about a week away from coming down to Vegas for the first time. What's even more weird is thinking about what the holiday season will be like this time NEXT year...there's a lot that's uncertain, but one thing I'm sure of is that I'll be happy and with my family.
This has been a crazy full week! Thanksgiving was great; no, we didn't win the Turkey Bowl ( :( ) but we had a lot of fun regardless. We beat the first team, but the second team we played was Las Vegas zone (who made it to the finals) and we lost 6-5 in overtime. One of their zone leaders is a missionary I came out with who happens to be a BYU receiver, so I don't feel too bad about losing (or about throwing him a fat interception). We had a good time and ate a lot of food afterwards, so it was a successful Thanksgiving by all accounts.
As far as proselytizing goes, this was the first double digit lesson week this area has had for a loooooong time! We've been teaching a ton and it's been amazing. A couple of days this week, we had an appointment at every hour - being that busy is incredibly satisfying and exhausting. It feels great to collapse on your bed after a day of going from teaching appointment to teaching appointment.
 One woman in particular we had been trying to meet with for a couple of weeks. We texted her the day before to ask her if the lesson was still on, and she told us it would be a waste of our time because she doesn't believe in organized religion. We were bummed - she seemed so promising and so excited to learn. We texted and asked for one chance, but she didn't respond. We felt impressed to go by and leave a DVD a member burned for us called "Intro to Mormons", which talks about our origins, temples, service work, etc. Before we left it in the door, I wrote a little note saying that we were glad we had met her and her daughter, and that we know it's easy to be skeptical of organized religion, but that this particular religion was organized by God. We left the DVD and didn't think about it for the rest of the night. We woke up the next morning to a text from her saying "I watched your DVD and it's beautiful. Can we meet tonight?". It was an amazing confirmation of what the spirit had told us to do - we met with her and have another appointment this Wednesday.
This work is full of miracles and our lives can be full of miracles if we just pay attention to what the Spirit is trying to tell us. When we follow promptings, great things happen. I've seen that this week for sure.

Keep going strong and I'll see you in a couple weeks!