Monday, August 10, 2015

These Are Crazy Times We Live In 8/10/2015

I can't believe I will be seeing you guys on Thursday. I don't really have much to say. Life is going to be really diffferent (with three fs) when I get back. The baptism went over really well this last week and the members put together a little farewell gathering for me.. It was pretty nice. It is going to be really hard to leave... But I guess I don't really have much of a choice. It was really exciting to hear about Mark coming home. It makes me excited, even though I am pretty nervous to speak... At least it's in English... Maybe I will just give my talk in Tagalog. I can't really think of anything else too exciting. We spend the night at the mission home tonight and tomorrow night and then we head to Manila. Crazy times!! I love you guys so much!

Alam ko na ang simbahan ni Jesucristo ng mga banal sa mga huling araw ang tunay na simbahan ni Jesucristo at na ipinanumbalik siya sa panahon natin sa pamamagitan ng isang propeta ng Diyos na si Joseph Smith. Alam ko na ang Aklat ni Mormon ay galing mismo sa ating panginoon at na maaari din nating malaman ang katotohanan ng Aklat ni Mormon sa pamamagitan ng tunay na pagsasaliksik at taos pusong panalangin.

Mahal ko kayo at excited na akong makita kayo sa Huwebes.

Magkita na lang tayo sa airport


Elder Merrill

Sunday, August 2, 2015


I have so many feelings this week. I am really starting to feel like I am going home next week. It is kind of exciting and kind of sad. I guess the biggest news is that Rose is going to get baptized this Saturday :) We are really excited for her. She is super ready! We are so glad that we met her. She is definitely an answer to our prayers. I also got to baptize one of the sisters' investigators, J. He has a super strong testimony. It was so neat to be a part of his baptism.

This week was super busy... We got to go to one of the sisters' farther away areas to interview one of their investigators, we had zone conference, and of course, we celebrated my birthday. The zone conference was actually on my birthday, so that was kind of cool. I got to see a lot of other missionaries on my birthday. We had a little celebration on Friday night at Bishop's house. I had some pizza delivered and the sisters surprised me with a cake. It was really fun :) I was really surprised that the sisters brought a cake. Some of it even got on my face as you will see in the pictures. My birthday was super awesome.

Despite all of the crazy business, we were able to find some new people to teach. The first that we found is E, an older man who we just tracted into. He is really kind and willing to listen to us. It is really refreshing. The second is actually married to a member. V's wife is a member who is super active. He just got back from doing construction work in Zambia. He seems really kind and is definitely very quiet. He has investigated the church before, but usually gets interrupted when he has to go back to work in zambia. Hopefully things will go through for him. It would be really good for their family. They are about your age (mom and dad's age) and have two kids. Our last set of new investigators were a member referral (YES! :D). One of the family members is a member's girlfriend. they are both about 17. I see good things to come for my replacement here in Pili.

We actually received some sad news from L this week as well.  He told us that he needs some time to think and that he will probably be able to make a decision about baptism in January. Kind of sad. He is willing to keep letting us visit him though. We are going to just try to read the Book of Mormon with him. I think that will help clear up his mind about things :)

That's about it for this week.
I can't wait to see you guys!
This whole mission thing went by way too fast.
Love you tons and have a good week!

Elder Merrill

July 27, 2015

The t-shirts turned out super awesome. I will send pics next week or just show it to you when I get home. :) We had a church tour/ meet the mormons viewing. It was pretty good. (before I forget, I wasn't able to get contacts. They were super expensive here. I think it might be better to get them at home). Anyway, The activity was pretty good. We ended up having a pretty decent attendance. Bishop's wife even had some meet the mormons t shirts printed. It was super stressful. We had to decorate about half of the rooms for the church tour.

We had a less successful week as far as finding goes. We got a lot of referrals from an older man last last week and finaly got around to contacting them this week. None of them were really interested... We kind of spent a ton of time with it so it was kind of disappointing, but it's ok. R is doing super great. She is completely committed to her baptism on the 8th of august. We just have to teach all of the lessons and get the zone leaders over here for an interview and she will be sitting pretty :) She is definitely an answer to my prayers and maybe yours too. It is such a miracle that Bishop's family hired her just in time for us to be able to teach her before I leave :) She always reads her assignments and does the things she needs to do to progress. She is a wonderful example of obedience. I know that as we obey God's commandments, he will bless us with knowledge about those commandments and about any of our other concerns. (John 7:17 and Ether 12:6) Commitments are a vital part of spiritual learning.

L wasn't able to make it to church this week, which was kind of sad. We still haven't been able to contact him, but we think he might have a concern about his family. We actually started teaching his son a few weeks ago (we haven't been able to teach them together because of their schedules). J (Lester's son) told us this week that he can't keep listening to us because his aunt told him that he has to stay catholic because he was born catholic. This might have affected tatay l as well. We're not really sure... kinda sad. I had a cool experience that night though... We helped a member prepare to teach a lesson on Sunday and I got to drive his padyak (pedicab) on our way home. It is harder than it looks. I ended up running into a papery kind of sign before we made it all the way to the highway... The army guy who was standing by the sign had a good laugh. After we made it through the sign we went off of the road. It was pretty funny and the padyak and my companion and the member are all ok. We all thought it was pretty funny.

We got caught in a rainstorm while walking between appointments and took shelter under the nearest roof. The
family who lived in the house came and said hello to us. As it turns out the owner of the house is American. He was vicious. He immediately recognized us as Mormons. I tried to start a light conversation about how he likes the Philippines. He didn't really want to talk about anything other than the fact that he thinks our religion is false. It all started when I asked him if he has ever met any Mormons and what he thinks of our beliefs. The first thing that he told us was that our religion is false. (very unfilipino heheheh). He then proceeded to tell us about all of his degrees and army experience and how we need to study more before we can teach him about anything. He told us about why the Book of Mormon is false and about the falsehood of several of our other beliefs. It turned in to a really long, one-sided conversation. It left me with a really bad taste in my mouth... He was nice enough to pray for us at the end so that we would be saved though. It makes me glad that I came on my mission here. I actually forgot to tell you guys about the two Austrian girls we met on a jeep last week. They also made me glad I am here in the Philippines on my mission. They didn't speak a lot of English, but they knew all of the bad words. Yikes. I really love the Philippines. The people here are so nice. I feel like something I have learned from the people here is to put the feelings of others above our own. It is really important that we are always kind to others even when they have made bad decisions. I just remember the Savior's example with the adulteress. It is a wonderful example of unconditional love and forgiveness. I will have to work on this maybe with the American that we met. I don't think we are going back there anytime soon though.

Hopefully that paragraph wasn't too hard to follow. I can't believe how soon I will be coming back. I am really excited to see you guys. I am really going to miss it here though... It's coming so fast!

I love you guys tons!
Have a good week.
Elder Merrill

Monday, July 20, 2015

Sorry, This Is Going to be Kind of Short July 20, 2015

I think this email might be kind of short. We are designing a t shirt for our district today and making flyers for the church activity we are planning to have on saturday. We are planning on having a short church tour and then watching Meet the Mormons. Hopefully it will go over well. It is really hard to plan things well sometimes.

This week was pretty good and not really too unusual. We just keep moving along. R was able to come to church as well as C (I'm not sure if I have told you about him, but he is a 17 yr old who has been investigating for almost a whole year.) Tatay L wasn't able to make it to church this week because he started having back problems a day or two ago. He should be able to make it next week though :) We are also teaching his son now, which is great. He is doing really well and has friends at church already.

I hope you guys have an awesome week! I love you tons! Don't have too much fun visiting family without me!

Elder Merrill

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Awesome Week July 13, 2015

Almost everyone we expected to come to church came this week. It is super exciting. Even R came. It was the first time he's been to church since we started teaching him. Pretty exciting stuff. L came too. He brought one of his children this time. I think they both had an ok time. L is really great and even participates in lessons at church. It is really cool. We think his baptism will go through a week or two before I go home. We just have to teach him all of the lessons :) We had one other investigator come to church as well. R is a referral from Bishop. She is what they call a katulong. She helps with Bishop's brand new baby. She is like a house help or something like that. She has been to church twice now. We were able to teach her last week and are going back tonight. She is a really nice lady.

We also had another exciting experience. I had the opportunity to baptize one of the sisters' investigators. There were a few problems with communication where we thought the ward mission leader was going to tell the people on the program that they were on the program. It didn't end up happening that way, so with some last minute planning, we made it to the baptism and the rest is history. I baptized brother G whose parents and older brother are members. G has a strong testimony and a desire to serve a mission. I hope he follows through on his plan to serve a mission. The mission is just a really good place to become a better you (Cheesy?). It's definitely true. I've learned so much.

We found a handful of new people this week, but none of the stories are really too exciting. We just keep doing our part to talk to everyone and the blessings come. :)

I can't really think of anything else to say. I am really nervous to go home... and excited. It is exciting to think about it, but also scary. I think Dad might regret signing me up for an economics class. (I was excited to see it on my schedule though :) ) I might end up going into a career similar to Dad's. hehehe... That schedule looks pretty exciting :) I'm going to have to get used to doing homework again... yikes. :P

Anyway, I love you tons and I hope you get to see the pics on onedrive :)
Have a good week!!

Elder Merrill
ps one of my other roommates is currently serving in tahiti. His father replied and gave me his missionary email address. He gets back around the same time as me. cool beans...

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Great Week July 6, 2015

This week was pretty great. I think the best part was our sacrament meeting. It was really nice. Bishop blessed his new baby and a lot of really neat testimonies were borne. One of the sisters' investigators even bore testimony. He talked about how he feels the Spirit when the missionaries teach, when he goes to church and when he reads the Book of Mormon. It was really neat. There were a few other recent converts that bore testimony. It was really neat to see a lot of strong recent converts. It seems like too many fall through the cracks.. One of the other highlights of the sacrament meeting was that L came to church :) He even got there before we did. We were super excited to see him. We were able to introduce him to a lot of members. He really wants to follow the commandments.

We also had some success in finding. As we continue to talk to those who are placed in our path, we are blessed to find those who are ready for our message. We actually found two families this week. It was a great blessing. We aren't exactly sure how interested they are, but they are willing to listen. It will be interesting to see how things go.

I also have some sad news to report about the family we baptized when I first got to Pili. It turns out that their address is actually in the boundaries of a different ward. We are going to go show the elders in their ward where their house is. It will actually be really good for them, because transportation will be cheaper. We will definitely miss them though.

I can't really think of anything else to add. I am planning on getting the contacts today. I am glad to hear that you guys all survived the raid bomb. I really can't wait to see you guys. But boy am I going to miss this place... It's not going to be easy to leave... good thing I have some time left here :)

That's about it for this week.

I love you tons!
Have a great week!
Elder Merrill

Monday, June 29, 2015

6 more weeks June 28. 2015

It is a pretty crazy feeling. I start my last transfer cycle in the mission today. The zone leaders didn't call this morning, which means I'm not getting transferred. I'm going to be staying here in Pili. I am pretty glad to still be here. We are going to keep working super hard and maybe we will see some miracles here in Pili :)

I don't feel like I have too much to write about. The zone leaders came and worked here in Pili on tuesday, which was kind of fun. We were able to do a ton of finding. It was really good and we have a lot more people to teach in one of our areas now. We were also able to teach R. He is doing pretty well.

Other than R, we have two progressing investigators. One is L. He is around 55-60 years old and is super nice. He is a night guard at an elementary school. He is super nice and always accepts commitments and reads assignments. He was even planning on going to church, but texted us on sunday morning that he was sick and wouldn't be able to come. We think he will be able to make it next week.

Our last progressing investigator is L. Her grandfather is a member who is somewhat less active because they don't have a lot of money to pay for transportation. L is about 17 years old and is a college student. (college starts a little earlier here). She is really willing to read and pray and do what it takes to get an answer to her prayers. It is just hard for them to make it to church. We are really excited for her and our other investigators.

That is about it for our week. Things are going pretty well and I am doing my best to stay focused on the work. Hopefully we can help our investigators to understand the importance of church attendance.

Love you tons :)
Have an awesome week!
Elder Merrill