Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Do You Want to Eat Fire?

I am now in.... Calabanga, about a 20 minute ride from Naga City, right on the bay! My new comp's name is Elder Nebeker from American Fork Utah. We are continuing to live the dream out here in "The Best Mission in All the Land" (daw)

The subject line is a direct quote from our bishop. This was my second time meeting him, because we actually had a dinner appointment with him my first day here. We were walking up to his brother's house to confirm on another dinner appointment, and Bishop was working in the yard. He looks at me and says, "Do you want to eat fire?" (in English of course.) Turns out he was taking care of some hot peppers. Our bishop is quite a character. By the fact that I am using the word bishop, you may have guessed that I am in a ward now. We are actually part of the Naga Stake, so that is pretty cool. The ward, however doesn't really seem that much bigger than the branch in Libmanan. The church here is really nice too though. It is two stories tall, and has a nice big chapel. All of the chapels here have windows on both sides, which seems really different to me, but it is also really nice, because it gives us a lot of natural light.

Everything seems to be going really well in Calabanga. I have been a little under the weather this week, but I didn't let it get in the way of the work. Elder Nebeker and I actually just had a really neat experience last night. We were walking along the road to go home after getting "punted" from a good number of lessons and we both noticed two people standing on the side of the road. We both had the feeling to talk to them, even though we really didn't want to. We talked to them and set up a return appointment to teach them, and they actually seem pretty interested. The cool part happened  after we were done talking to that family. One of our investigators came by in his car and offered us a ride. It turns out he had a relative in the car who has never been taught by the missionaries, but who will be staying with them for a while. We decided to have them take us to their house instead of ours, and we shared the message of the restoration with all of them. I really felt the Spirit, and our new investigator even prayed while we were there. It is really wonderful to be a part of little miracles like these out in the mission field.
We are just doing really well here in Calabanga. I'm living the life.
Here is one of my favorite scriptures from what I read this week (Helaman 5:10-12):

"10 And remember also the words which Amulek spake unto Zeezrom, in the city of Ammonihah; for he said unto him that the Lord surely should come to redeem his people, but that he should not come to redeem them in their sins, but to redeem them from their sins.
 11 And he hath power given unto him from the Father to redeem them from their sins because of repentance; therefore he hath sent his angels to declare the tidings of the conditions of repentance, which bringeth unto the power of the Redeemer, unto the salvation of their souls.
 12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."
I actually really like the part in verse 10 where it says that Christ will come to save us from our sins and not in our sins. The story of Zeezrom has always been one of my favorites.
I would also like to say thanks to the ward for the mail at Christmas. Sorry this is a little late, but I really appreciated it. It was so neat to hear from everyone back home. 

I love you guys tons!
Elder Benjamin Merrill


I think I will tell you about a family here.   The dad  had a stroke (I'm not sure how long ago) and lost feeling in and the ability to control the left side of his body. Because of his stroke, his wife now has to support the family by working in the palayan (rice field) every day so they can have food to eat each day.  On top of this, their oldest son (They have 3  sons and two daughters, yata) is on a mission. They have such amazing faith, and the daughters come to church almost every week, but the parents can't come because of working and the stroke. It is really hard to see them in such a sad situation. We had the privilege of bringing a letter to them a few weeks back from their son who is on a mission. It was really neat to see how happy it made them. I can tell that they really love each other a lot in their family. We also visited them last night. For my last message with them, I shared 1 Nephi 3:7 and they shared with us the experience of getting their son on a mission. They said that everything just started to work out just fine as soon as they started trying to figure out how they were going to support their missionary. I know that the Lord provides a way for us to follow all of his commandments, and that he gives us commandments for our protection and happiness. 

I will tell one more story I think, the story of one of our newer investigators. He is actually the roommate of one of  our less active members. He is about 20 years old, I think. He really didn't seem very interested in what we had to share at first, but we had a really neat lesson with him one day that really changed things around. He told us that he came from a broken family and isn't really proud of  all of the things that he has done in his life.  And we shared the story of the conversion of Alma the Younger. When we talked about the Atonement, I felt the spirit so strong.  It is so amazing to see people's hearts softened by the spirit and  testify of the truth to them. The next lesson, he offered to say the opening prayer. (It totally caught us off guard.) He is doing awesome, so I hope that Elder Acidera and his new companion can help him to continue to progress.

I've also been just tearing through the Book of Mormon these past few weeks. I've gotten through the first 50 chapters of Alma this week.  I really love the Book of Mormon, and I can't even put it down sometimes. There are so many different topics and so many different kinds of stories in it. I have gained such a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon as I have studied it over the past few weeks. I know it is true, and I know that it contains the word of God, and that we really can become closer to Christ  by reading it and abiding by the precepts in it.

Before I go, I wanted to mention one more quick connection that I made about the Book of Mormon this week. It is probably pretty obvious to everyone else, but I thought it was pretty neat.  I was thinking about how there are two people named Moroni in the Book of Mormon (Captain Moroni and Moroni, son of Mormon), and I was wondering how they ended up with the same name. I then read the verse where Mormon talks about how if everyone were as righteous as Captain Moroni, Satan would have no power over us. It was at this point that I remembered whose son Moroni is. Of course Mormon is going  to name his kid after Captain Moroni, because he wants his son to be just as righteous as him. Maybe that was really obvious and I am just slow, but I thought it was pretty neat.

I just wanted to say one more thing about the skype session. I have been thinking a lot about the question, "Are you happy?" especially because I got the same question from President Reeder in my last interview. I have realized that I always end up thinking about myself a lot when I am asked that question. And I tend to focus on the hard things, but when I think of all the people that I have met and taught here, I immediately know that I am happy after all. It really isn't about me. It is about all of the wonderful people that I get to help while I am here. I am always happy when I am thinking about others.

I love you guys tons, and I miss you a lot, but I am loving it here in the Phillippines as well.

Elder Benjamin Merrill