Tuesday, December 30, 2014

LECHON PAKSIW December 29, 2014

Hey family!

Sounds like Christmas was pretty fun there. We had a really good Christmas too. After we were done skyping, we took the multicab back to Basud. We went to Sister Pinky's house as planned and were fed spaghetti, sticky rice, cake, and roast chicken. It was good, and the next food appointment was awesome too. We went to the San Felipe next to meet up with the Cabase family. We went to Lola (grandma) Cabase's house first. She is so nice. She invited us right in to eat. She had some of the best food at her house. She had tinola, spaghetti, and the best, LECHON PAKSIW! Lechon paksiw is really good. I highly recommend it. It is pork that is first roasted and then paksiw'ed or put into a mix of vinegar and brown sugar and all that good stuff. It was really good. We then went to the Cabase family's house. It was actually their youngest daughter's birthday too, so they had a nice cake, fried chicken, pancit bihon, spaghetti, and ham. It was way great too. After that, we stopped by Sister Alorro's house. Her husband, who is a seaman, is on a boat somewhere right now. We didn't eat there because we were already super full. They had a lot of friends and family over and it seemed like they were enjoying their Christmas. Finally, we headed back up to Daet to eat at bishop's house. There, we ate some really good fried chicken and spaghetti carbonara. Carbonara is really popular here. It's pretty good.  After that we got to go straight home and do weekly planning. Pretty exciting stuff. It was a really fun christmas though. My first Christmas was way harder than my second in the mission. It definitely gets better.  I carried candy in my pocket to give to all of the little kids, and one time when I tried to give a few kids some candy, they refused because "Everyone gives them candy." They wanted money... I figured this out when they got on a multicab at the same time as us and one of them tried to get his hand in my pocket. I gave him a "You know better than that" look And they got off the multicab without paying just a few minutes after that. 

We had some other good things happen this week other than Christmas too. The first of these was exchanges with the Zone Leaders. I got to be companions with Elder Pedersen who is from Portland. I asked him if his life was like Portlandia. He said that there are definitely a lot of people like that up there, and he also really liked my Keens. He said that they are really popular where he's from. Maybe I could fit in in Portland. He was really nice and easy to work with. We were able to do a lot of finding, though we didn't really get a lot of results. We have a few houses that we might try to go back to, but that's about it. We were also able to teach a gal we are working with during the exchanges, and we finally got her less-active grandmother to listen to us. The lesson was really funny because Nanay kept interrupting the lesson to tell us what she thought about the verses we were reading. It was actually pretty fun, and she made a lot of good points. She was even willing to say the opening prayer for us, and when we tried to commit her to pray every morning and evening, she prayed for us right on the spot. It was really funny and all of her grandchildren started laughing. Nanay told us that her grandkids laugh too much because they need to study more. It was really funny. 

The lesson we taught to them had some awesome results though. The girl, about four of her cousins, and her grandmother all came to church in Daet this week. (We didn't have a service in Basud because it was the last Sunday of the year.) We even got our new rm here in Daet to fellowship her, and it was super effective. She just got home from serving in the Honolulu Hawaii mission. I think she was in the visitor's center somewhere for most of her mission.

There is some news about the new meeting place. We should find out by next Saturday if we can use it for our sacrament services. Hopefully things will go through with that. It would be a huge help for the work here. More people will definitely attend once our meeting place moves. 

I love you guys all tons and I know that the church is true and that we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father who looks after all of our individual needs and gave us his only begotten son so that we can live with him again.

Love you!

Elder Benjamin Merrill

Sunday, December 28, 2014

December 22, 2014


It looks like this is the last time I'm going to be able to email you before Christmas, so I'd like to wish everyone a merry Christmas. I hope you guys have an awesome day and that everything goes well. 

This week was a really good week and we finally had investigators at church! Yes! Our Sunday was pretty crazy again this week. In the morning, we decided to go to the house of someone we met last week, and it turns out that they life really far away. We ended up kinda far in the middle of nowhere in a rice field that has their house in the middle of it. It was really pretty, and we were really close to the Basud river, so that was kind of cool. As it turns out, they were busy planting rice, and we were running late because of how far it was, so we shook hands and went to Daet, where.... we had a baptism!!! It's not as exciting as it sounds though. One of the families from Basud is preparing to go to the temple to get sealed, and they just found out that their 13  year old daughter doesn't have a record in the church. She got rebaptized so they could recreate her record. Isn't that crazy? I will send pics next week. :) 

After the baptism, we raced back to barangay Laniton where the Basud sacrament service is held and guess who came? A girl we have been teaching!  She finally came to church. I was kind of worried to be honest, that she might not like it, because our special sacrament service just isn't quite the same as one put on by a full ward in a normal chapel. We don't even have a piano. It turns out that she really liked it though. She texted us after the meeting to say thanks for inviting her and that they felt really welcome at church. Hopefully she will want to go again next week so that her new baptismal date for January 24th can go through. 

We also had our mission christmas conference this week. It was really fun, but my package wasn't here yet... I think I told you though that the christmas party was going to be on the 23rd, so it is kind of my fault... That was the original plan, but it ended up getting moved to the 18th because of our ward's christmas party... It's ok though. We will just celebrate Christmas in January :P I did end up getting the big christmas thing from the ward where everyone signs it though. That was pretty nice. I think it is really cool how they do that. The christmas conference was seriously awesome though. We got to watch Frozen! After that, we had somewhat of a talent show, which was pretty nice. (We sang 'o magsaya', the Tagalog version of 'Joy to the World') We have plenty of good stuff planned for this week, so don't worry about us. We have the ward Christmas party on Tuesday and then we are going to the Daet 2nd Ward Bishop's house on Christmas day, and to the Cabase family (the awesome family who feeds us every thursday night and whose daughter just got rebaptized.) Should be a really good week. 

Other than that, we are just cruising along here in Basud. We have been using something kind of new in our finding and teaching lately. It is the "He is the Gift" video which can be seen here:

Maybe you have seen it already, but it is really good. I highly recommend it. We can't get the Tagalog version to download, so we usually just share the English one with the people we talk to. It is a great way to teach about Jesus Christ and to help others to be more comfortable with us. Almost everyone here already believes in Him, which is really nice. 

I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and that He is the only way that we can return to live with our Heavenly Father again. I am so thankful for His gift to us and for the understanding that we have of His Atonement through modern-day revelation. 

I love you tons! Have an awesome christmas. :)

Elder Merrill

Monday, December 15, 2014

Rainy Sunday December 14, 2014


This week really wasn't too exciting, but our Sunday was pretty busy, so I think I will describe what we did yesterday. Yesterday was really rainy. We got up in the morining, ate oatmeal mixed with a pack of busog lusog chocolate milk drink. and then studied. Studies are always more fun on Sundays because our next door neighbor is the Jesus is Lord Church. They like to play loud music. It kind of reminds me of 'The North Avenue Irregulars', that movie that we borrowed from the Strongs once. We then went on a 10 minute jeep ride to a place called Tacad, where our investigators with a baptismal date live. They are both around 45 years old and are super nice. Tatay was feeling kind of sick, so they said they weren't going to be able to make it to church. We taught them about the Book of Mormon and they committed to read a passage from it and pray about it. We are really excited for them. Their baptismal date is set for January 17th. The only problem is that our current meeting place is pretty far away from Tacad... You have to take two jeeps to get there because of where it is. 

Next, we took a multicab into Daet for our coordination meeting. (maybe like a 15-20 minute ride) There, we discussed the upcoming ward Christmas party and not much else, but we had some delicious roasted chicken for lunch and corned beef. Corned beef is pretty popular here if you can believe it. It is pretty good. We then went straight to church in Basud. Let's just say that the rain this Sunday didn't help attendance. There were about 13 people at church from Basud. It was pretty tough to see such a big drop in attendance, but I really admire the faith of those that did attend. 

After Church, we headed over to another investigator's house. He is between 30 and 40 years old and calls himself a freelancer when it comes to religions. He is really open to new things, but not super interested in keeping lots of commitments (at least for now). We had plans to pick him and his wife up to go to the Christmas Devotional. He told us that his wife didn't want to go anymore but that he would go, but that he was waiting for someone. He insisted that we go first, so we did. We ended up making it into the chapel in Daet around 6:10. The devotional was supposed to start at 6pm, but when we got there, we found out that it was already halfway over. They started it early... Super weird. Our investigator didn't show up either. 

It was a super busy day and a super weird one. Hopefully it won't rain next Sunday. There is good news this week about the new meeting place. Bishop just gave us a letter this week to take to the barangay officials so that they can officially approve our use of their barangay hall. We were able to deliver it to them, and they plan on making a decision this coming Saturday. In the meantime, Bishop asked us to get in contact with the vice-mayor of Basud, who is apparently a member, and ask him to put in a good word for us with the barangay officials whose hall we want to use. I think we could be able to use the new meeting place by the end of the week. Hopefully everything goes through by then. 

Alam ko na ito yung work ng Panginoon natin at mahal nya tayo. Nagpapasalamat ako sa season ng pasko na cinicelebrate natin ngyun, sa pagkakataon na ito na alalahanin natin si Jesucristo. 

Love you guys tons :)

Elder Benjamin Merrill

Monday, December 8, 2014

Hurricane Ruby December 7, 2014

Family and friends,

This week was quite an eventful week here in the Basud area. Pday was pretty normal, but we had an adventure of sorts this last Tuesday.This Tuesday, we decided to contact a person that we met a few weeks ago, who's parents were both members (His father has passed away now because of old age). The place that he lives in, San Jose, turns out to really be in the middle of nowhere... We took a Jeep from the centro of Basud to a place called Langga and started down one of the craziest, muddiest paths I've ever been on so far in my whole mission, and get this... there is a huge river at the end of it. It turns out that the river won't be a problem though because there is a raft there. Yes, we got to take a raft this week. It was a pretty cool experience and pretty safe, because it is attached to a rope thing that you can use to pull yourself across the river. When we got to the other side, we asked some people who were there if they knew the guy we are looking for, and they asked us if we were seriously going to go all the way there even though it's already afternoon. (It was about 3 or 4pm) We told them we were still going to go and they told us to just keep going left. They said it would take a long time if we take any right turns. We then proceeded into the depths of the jungle. It was the most middle of nowhere place I think I've ever been in in my life. after 15 or so minutes of walking through the crazy jungle, we found a house and asked the woman who lived there if we were still on the right path. She told us that we should probably leave and come back in the morning sometime because it was still really far away. We decided to go back. 

Everything went fine until we got back to the river. About halfway through the river crossing, we realized that we were standing on the wrong side of the raft with relation to the rope thing. The current of the river pushed the raft to the side and the rope into our sides and almost knocked Elder Bolambao into the river. We went under the rope and Elder Bolambao got pretty wet. When we made it back to the highway, we ran into Elder Morales, the couple missionary from Daet. We had a pretty good laugh when he saw how wet my companion was and when we told him what happened. We are probably going to try a different way to that guy's house next time. 

Other than that, the work is going well in Basud. We have a lot of less-active members who are progressing at least a little bit, and a lot of part-members to work with. One of our investigators is doing really well and we are teaching her cousin  still too. They are really open, and it is really refreshing. It is really nice to have people who are really interested. 

I also have some news about Brother S's friend. We went and taught him right before the bagyo came, and he is doing really well and is able to walk quite a bit now. He says that it still hurts to walk though. The lesson was really neat, and he actually read through the pamphlet we left him and asked a bunch of questions about the Book of Mormon, and who Mormon was. It was really nice to see that he is actually reading the stuff that we give to him and thinking about it. I think we will be able to see a lot of progression from him as his legs heal up completely and he is able to come to church.

The past couple days, as you all probably are aware of, the Philippines was hit by bagyo Ruby.  Fortunately, it hasn't been too bad here in Camarines Norte. I think it is a lot worse further down south. We had to stay in all day Saturday and Sunday. The work took a huge hit of course, but we are all safe, which I guess is the important thing. We just spent all day reading our scriptures (I took a look at the book of Ecclesiastes, which was pretty interesting), reading talks, playing cards, and listening to Christmas music. We also made some pancakes. 

I know that the Gospel is true and that our Heavenly Father loves us and that is why He sent His only begotten son to pay for our sins. I am thankful for this gift and for the opportunity I have to share it with others.

Love you tons!

Elder Benjamin Merrill

Weekly Report November 30, 2014

Hey, Family!

This week we found out that Elder Bolambao and I will be staying together for another transfer. I am excited to be with him again. We had a pretty crazy week this week with a baptism and a mini-mtc youth activity on Saturday. I am looking forward to being able to work this coming saturday in Basud. 

This Saturday, we had a mini-mtc activity at the Daet stake center where all the youth in the stake got to be missionaries for the day. It was a really crazy day because we spent our whole day in Daet. We went straight to the stake center in the morning and taught a workshop about testimony four times. I'm not sure if I ever want to be a teacher, because, to be honest, I got kind of tired teaching the same thing over and over again. The youth were all really nice though, so that made it more enjoyable. We then had lunch and split up into groups. The groups were all assigned a less active family to visit. The family we were assigned to visit told us. I think the youth got a taste of the dark side of missionary work there and when we tried to talk to another group of guys that actually looked really nice. They told us that our timing was really bad and that they are always really busy. We did end up finding, however a nice less active girl and her friends and we shared a short message from the Book of Mormon to them. It ended up turning out really well, and I think it helped the youth get more excited about serving missions.

That night we had Clark's baptism. It was really neat and everything went along fine. 

We have 2 new baptismal dates this week though. I think it is the most exciting part of the week. It's a whole family and they are really interested in our message and are willing to try it out for themselves. Their date is on January 17, I think. They were a referal from Paracale. They used to live up there before and were taught by the missionaries there a few times, but never went to church. They are super nice, and the best part is that even Tatay is interested and he said he is going to try to go to church. The only problem is that they live kinda far away from the centro of Basud in a place called Tacad. 

I think that is the most exciting news for this week. I think we will be changing meeting places this week or next week though, so that is exciting too. I think attendance will skyrocket. 

I know that this is God's work and that we can't do it without his help, and that through his son, Jesus Christ, we can return to live with him. I just want to help others to learn these same things for themselves.

Love you tons!

Elder Benjamin Merrill

Monday, November 17, 2014

November 17, 2014


Things are going pretty well here in Basud. We had one of our less- active members, get really excited about missionary work. He realized that he could be using his time to work with the missionaries. He has given us three referrals now and wants to work with us all the time. We are really excited to have him helping with the work in Basud, but he still hasn't come to church since I've been here. That part is kind of tricky. We were really sure that he was going to come this week, but he just didn't show up. I think that he will become more active as we get our meeting place changed to somewhere closer to centro.

We are currently in the process of finding a place for the Basud saints to meet that is closer to the centro of Basud. We have found one place that looks pretty good. (also in a Barangay Hall. ) We still need to make a trip over there with Bishop one of these days so he can approve it. I am super excited for the new meeting place though, because the current one is pretty far from a lot of our members and investigators. I think a lot more people will want to come to church when the meeting house is closer to them. 

We got a lot of referrals this week, and one of them was the family that includes two of our new investigators. One of the members in our area introduced us to a member that she knows. She is probably almost 70 years old and listens to just about any missionaries who come to her house. She doesn't really remember much about the church actually, but we are really excited to teach her grandchildren. They both know a lot about the bible, but are really polite and really open to what we have to share. They are really good kids. I am really impressed with them and excited to see what comes of us teaching them. I have high hopes there. 

We are also teaching a 10- year- old  who is from a part member family.  He is set to get baptized on November 29 :) He is doing great and always goes to church with his younger sister who is 5 or 6, and his grandmother. (His father is not a member and his mother is less active and lives in a different house than him). We are really excited for him.

I think that's all for this week, thank you for all your support and all your prayers.

I know that Heavenly Father loves us and sometimes he gives us trials in order to make us stronger.

Love you guys tons!
Elder Benjamin Merrill

Ben staying dry under a banana leaf

 Elder Bolambao in front of the building they have church in

 Elder Bolambao under a banana leaf to stay dry


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Basud Week 2, November 2, 2014


This week was another good week in Basud. The sacrament meeting situation here is definitely different from anything else I've ever experienced. This week, we had a church attendance of 21 Including Elder Bolambao and me, but not including Bishop (from Daet 2nd Ward), who comes to preside at the Basud sacrament service. We had one recent convert family, one active family and then like 2 other half active families come to church. It was a nice meeting, but Bishop, the ward mission leader, and me and my comp were the only people who bore testimony. I am interested to see how things go when we have assigned talks. 

The finding is going pretty well. We actually just recently had a fiesta here in Basud and I just attract all of the drunk guys who know a little bit of English. Fortunately we were able to use this fact to find some new investigators. We found one guy (nicknamed power ranger) and his family this way.We had a really hard time finding his house using his real name. We had to go back to the place where we found him and ask for him again. We ended up going around asking people if they knew power ranger. It was super funny. 

We were able to find another interesting investigator through a less-active member here as well. He is recovering from a motorcycle accident or something of that sort and is in a wheel chair. His wife also passed away. He is a super nice guy who is really catholic, but he is also super willing to hear what we have to say and open to listen to new ideas. 

I really believe that the Lord is placing people to teach in our path. 

I love you guys tons!

Here are a few pictures from Goa.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Basud October 27, 2014


As you know, I was transferred this week. I've finally made it up to Camarines Norte! I am in the Basud area with my new companion, Elder Bolambao. We cover just about all of the area from the Cam Sur border to Daet, if you know where any of those places are. The area is really different from any of my other areas because there are only about 20 people or so who go to church every week. We are just a group operating under the Daet 2nd Ward. I've just been meeting tons of new people here, and they all seem really nice. I think this letter might have to be short though because I am a little under the weather.

I think I will tell what happened last night, it is probably the best story. We went to the house of one of our investigator families, taught them a nice lesson about 1 Nephi 18 which was really good. Unfortunately, by the end of the lesson, it started pouring... We walked all over in the rain trying to find the people we were going to teach because they have a few houses. They ended up being in the last house we checked, and we almost decided to go home, because it was almost 8 and we were getting hungry, but we decided to go check if they were home, and were rewarded handsomely for it. Nanay brought out huge plates of pansit for us and hot chocolate and crackers. It was really nice, and we had a good lesson with their family. 

I know that the church is true and that God loves each and every one of us.

Elder Benjamin Merrill 

Ben's new companion is on right end

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October 12, 2014


We had a great week here in Goa. There were definitely a lot of ups and downs. I think I will start with one of the downs. We actually had some of our new investigators seriously hide from us. They are in a pretty bad situation where they have trouble paying the rent on the house that they are living in. The person who owns their house is having the mother of the family work at his little eatery, which is right by their house. One day this week, when we went by their house (before we knew about the mother's new job at the eatery), and some guy out front told us that the family we were looking for was not home... It seemed kind of suspicious, so we decided to investigate further. The 14 year old daughter of the sister we were looking for was there and told us that she was at the eatery. We walk into the eatery and find our investigator sister hiding behind the door. We just got a bunch of excuses from her about being busy and stuff like that. We hope that she will at least find time for us to teach her one more time. 

The good news is that some of our other newer investigators are really doing well. They have started reading the Book of Mormon and just told us in their last visit that "habang binabasa nila yung Aklat ni Mormon, parang gumaan yung pakiramdam nila" Or that they felt a light, peaceful feeling while they read the Book of Mormon. It is really a wonderful thing to see a change in the people we teach. I know that we can gain a testimony if we do not have one or strengthen ours if we have one now by reading the Book of Mormon. 

I really enjoyed general conference this week. The one talk that really sticks out in my mind right now is by Elder Richard G. Scott from the Sunday afternoon session. I really liked the four things he mentioned that we can do to have peace in our lives. I know that as we pray, read our scriptures, have weekly family home evening, and go to the temple regularly, we truly will be able to have a peace in our lives through the Spirit of the Lord. 

I love you guys tons!

Elder Benjamin Merrill

The beach by Goa

Saturday, October 11, 2014



It's been another crazy week. This week, I got bit by a dog. We were walking up to the the house of the referral we were trying to contact. I thought the dog was nice... It didn't bite me until I was by the door for a few seconds. I think he was just trying to protect his owner.I got bitten on the leg and on my finger. I jumped when he bit me in the leg so I could get my leg out of his way, and then he bit my finger... It broke the skin on my leg and on my finger. I said 'Ouch!' really loud like 5 times. Super scary. The good news is that the dog might not have rabies. The plan is to watch it for  10 days. If the dog is still alive at that time, there's no rabies. I guess the dog was just as uninterested in us as his owner. 

Fortunately, we had some success in our finding as well. We were referred yesterday to some 17 year old girls who are going to school here in Goa. The whole 17 year old girl thing made us think that that they might be interested in a little bit more than the restored Gospel, but they actually turned out to be really looking for the truth. They had no trouble accepting a return appointment and a reading assignment. It was really neat. I feel like Heavenly Father is really putting a lot of people in our path. 

In other exciting news, we got some of our investigators to finally go to church. There is kind of a funny story that goes along with this one. We told them that we were going to go pick them up before church so we could all go together, so we thought they would be ready when we got there at about 12 pm. When we got there, they were all still asleep. They hadn't even woken up yet. We ended up waking them up. This story has a happy ending though because they ended up coming to church with us and we were only 2 minutes late for church. They seem like they really enjoyed church, so we are really excited for them. They have a baptismal date for November 1st

That's about all for this week. I love you guys tons, and I am super excited for general conference. Only one week left for us in the Philippines. We are lucky and get to wait an extra week for general conference. I know that the church is true and is led by real, living prophets and apostles. 

Love you guys tons!
Padangat ko kamung maray!

Elder Benjamin Merrill

Monday, September 29, 2014

Baptisms and More 9/28/2014


We had an awesome week in here in Goa. We were able to find a good amount of new people to teach this week as well as baptize three investigators. The baptism was a really spiritual experience. There was a really neat part where we invited the baptismal candidates to share their testimonies right after they were baptized. All three of the people we baptized shared amazing testimonies, even 10-year-old Jay Frank. I really felt like it wasn't just because of us that they have such amazing testimonies, but because they have felt the spirit. I really have a testimony that the Spirit is really the only way that people can come the know the truth.

Other than the baptisms, I think I'd like to share about one of our investigators named Alvin. He is about 20 years old, has really cool hair, drives a padyak for a living and is studying to become a member. His girlfriend is also a member, which is super awesome. Unfortunately, she lives in Lagonoy, (a few towns over) so we don't know her. He is really smart and loves the Percy Jackson novels. This week we were able to share with him while we had a member present who just got back from her mission like a week ago. It was a really neat lesson. He said that he prayed about Joseph Smith and he felt really good about it. By the end of the lesson about the Book of Mormon, our member present set him up for the baptismal invitation. It was really awesome. He accepted. He has school on Sundays right now, but we are hoping that he will be able to fix up his schedule so he can come to church soon. 

That's about all for this week, but I love you tons and I know that the church is true!

Elder Benjamin Merrill

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sept 20, 2014


This week was a really good week for finding in Goa. I feel like we just had people placed in our path almost who were ready to listen almost every day. One was a referral from the sisters. He drives a padyak, which is how the sisters got to know him. He let us right in when we went to visit him and was super interested. When we came back the other day he was really excited for us to share with him. We found out that his girlfriend is a member in a different ward, so that is really exciting. We also found couple. They seemed somewhat interested too, so that was good. We also found someone else while we were trying to contact a referral. She had the same last name, so we thought that the people we were looking for lived in the same house too. They weren't home the first time we went by, but we came back a few days later, and said hello. We were let right into the house without even having to say anything. It turns out that she has been taught by the missionaries before and that the girls that we're looking for are her nieces. (She is about 40 years old.). I think I will share the story of one more person that we found. We were just walking along from one appointment to another and a little kid shouts out, "Elders!" and so we turned around and asked him if he knows us. It turns out that they have been taught by the missionaries before in Iriga, but haven't been taught since they moved here. 

The other exciting news is that we have 3 baptisms coming up on Saturday. We should finally be baptizing a girl who is 16, as well as the two siblings from that far area. They are super ready, and I think they will make awesome additions to the ward. 

I really love the members here in Goa. They are going to make it really hard to leave when the time comes. They are really good at fellowshipping our investigators and less actives. We actually had a day this week when none of our less actives were home and we got kind of frustrated. We ended up going by the church, and guess what... All of the less actives that we couldn't teach because they were gone were all at the church for a birthday party activity! The youth went out and picked up the less active youth and took them to the church. I was really impressed because of how far some of our less actives live from the church.

Alam ko na totoo yung simbahan at na tayo ang mga anak ng Diyos. Alam ko na mahal nya tayo at ibinibigay nya ang mga pagsubok natin sa atin para subukan at umunlad tayo dito sa mundo. 

Love you guys tons,

Elder Benjamin Merrill 

Monday, September 15, 2014

September 14, 2014


It's been another good week here in the Philippines.  This week, we've been doing a lot of work using the MLS/ ward directory thing. There are a lot of people on our ward's directory that haven't been to church in a really long time that we don't even know, and there are a lot of incomplete addresses and a lot of incomplete information on it. We have not had the most success finding those people, but we have been able to get it organized better and have found an investigator using it. It has been a very effective way of starting conversations with people. We just ask around for people we don't know on the list and then introduce ourselves as missionaries. We found one new person this week using it. He is super nice and willing to listen. He is catholic, has some pretty unique hair and long fingernails. He hasn't really opened up to us too much yet, but I think he will in our next few visits. 

We are still super excited for a few baptisms that are coming up on the 27th. The one investigator that was going to get baptized this week is going to get baptized on the 27th now. 

Things are still going really well, just kind of same old, same old. I think one of the most exciting things was walking to one of our far areas during the tropical storm. We were right along a stream for a good twenty minutes. We were just praying during all of our lessons that it wouldn't overflow, because the only other path out of there is a really far walk and could have been flooded too. Everything went smoothly though, even though we did get really wet. 

Alam ko na totoo yung simbahan natin. and na mahal tayo ng Diyos. Alam ko na possible yung mga himala kung manampalataya tayo sa kanya. 

Love you tons!

Elder Benjamin Merrill

Coffee Ice Cream Sept 7, 2014


The new 7-11 here in Goa just opened up this week. Here's what happened: We went in to the 7-11 to get some ice cream and were devastated to hear that they were out of cones, so we looked around the store and noticed a box full of cones and asked if they were ok, and they decided to serve us ice cream using those cones. They asked us if we wanted French vanilla or chocolate flavored ice cream, and we both decided we wanted vanilla, but when we got our ice cream, it was brown... I was very suspicious, but I gave it a try, and I immediately know why. It was coffee ice cream. Elder Green thought it was a joke and so he tried some too. We told the lady at the counter that it was coffee, and she didn't believe us and tried to show us the flavoring mix... We didn't really want to pay for it and they really wanted us to. We eventually convinced the manager to try it and at that point she knew what she had done and they didn't make us pay for it. She was super mad at us though. It was kinda crazy. I hope they don't hold a grudge. 

The work is going pretty well. We are going to baptize the girl from last week this Saturday. We are super excited for her. She is super integrated into the ward. She is really outgoing and so she has a lot of friends at church. Our two other little investigators are also doing really well, although they didn't go to chuch... They always ask really good questions in lessons. I think they are really smart. I think they should still be able to get baptized in just a few weeks. We actually also found a family this week. I don't think we are actually going to be able to continue teaching the whole family, but there is kind of a funny story with them. We met them last week and scheduled a return appointment. When we came back, the parents were both gone... Luckily I spotted the tatay who looked like he was outside trying to hide. We invited him in and shared with him. He is gone now though... Working somewhere far away. And one of the older girls in the family flat out told us that she doesn't really want to listen to us. that leaves us with a 12 year old boy. We teach a lot of those. He is really sincere and went to church this week. It is a shame the whole family doesn't want to listen, but I am thankful that they will let us teach their son. 

We also met some interesting people the other day... We saw a few people around our age hanging out and so we went up and talked with them. We asked them what they like to do, and this is what they said (in English): Eat, sleep, walk around, smoke cigarettes, smoke marijuana, repeat. Pretty crazy, huh? We shared 2 Nephi 28 with them about eat, drink and be merry. It was a pretty good lesson and they were really nice. Good times. Everyone is super nice here.

Alam ko na totoo ang simbahan natin and na itong missionary work is ang work ng diyos.

Love you tons!

Elder Benjamin Merrill

Another Great Week August 31, 2014


It's been another great week in the Philippines. We ended up getting to talk to our investigator who didn't show up for her baptism last week. As it turns out, she had an unexpected family reunion of sorts. She is now on track to be baptized a week from this coming Sunday, so we are super excited about that. We actually ended up having a pretty decent turn out at church this week. We had a less-active family that hasn't been to church since I've been here finally come to church, which was way cool. I'm going to go on about our sacrament meeting because it was pretty cool and pretty unique. We had no power at the church this week because of a brown out which made for a pretty hot sacrament meeting. It was super hard to pay attention. One of the cool things that happened is that the primary gave a little presentation and our 11-year old investigator was part of it. She recited the fourth article of faith over the pulpit, which was really neat. The other unique thing that happened this week was towards the end of the meeting, a little boy about 3 years or so old was standing on the pew right next to me and slipped and hit his head really hard on the little thing that holds the hymnbooks. He ended up with a really deep cut right by one of his eyebrows and had to be taken to a local clinic for stitches. Ouch. It looked like it really hurt.

In other news, we have been seeing a change of heart in a lot of our less active members.  We have been teaching more boldly and directly to their concerns and they have really been opening up to us. It has been a really neat experience to be there when they feel the spirit helping them to know wheat we are teaching is right. 

Lastly, we've been able to have quite a few more members working with us this week, and it's given me the opportunity to learn a lot of Bikol. Here goes:

Aram ko na totoo an simbahan ta, at si Jesucristo an satuyang kaguragnan. Aram ko na kung magtubod kita saiya, magsolsol kita sa satuyang mga kasalan, magpabunyag kita sa totoong simbahan pwede kitang makalaog sa saiyang kaharian.

That made me sweat a little bit. I think that last word might be tagalog. I'm not sure if it works in bikol too or not. 

I love you guys tons!

Padangat ko kamung maray!

Elder Benjamin Merrill

Monday, August 25, 2014

Baptisms 8/24/2014


This week was really great. We were able to baptize Rey this Saturday, which was really neat. It is always a wonderful experience to be a part of such an important part of someone else's life. We also set up a really cool display board up by the big college here in Goa, called PSU. We were able to meet a lot of people here, many of whom live in our area. We have taught a few of them already, and they seem pretty interested, which is really cool.

We actually had a funny experience last night when we went and contacted one of the people that we met up by PSU. The people we met were 14 year old twin girls who are Catholic. They were happy to let us in and seemed really interested, but one of their neighbors who was at their house kept telling us that they were born Catholic and so they want to die Catholic and that we all believe in the same God, so it doesn't really matter which religion we are because we are all worshiping the same God... Elder Green asked a really good question about if a person was born into a family who doesn't believe in God at all. They just kind of ignored his question though. The twins actually seemed interested, so we will have to just go back when their neighbor isn't there hanging out. 

We had a newer/ former investigator come to church this week too. She is about 35 years old and her mother is a member who just started coming back to church about  3 or 4 weeks ago. She has a lot of kids who are pretty young, and her husband isn't around anymore, so I think it was a really hard choice to decide to come to church. I think she is really glad that she came. We are really excited to see if she will continue to progress. Member referrals and part members are really the best way to find people to teach. 

Love you tons!

Elder Benjamin Merrill