Monday, March 31, 2014


It's been another crazy week. :)

I guess I will start on the final news from the Calabanga ward. This one is about Tatay. I am told that his wife said that he can "absolutely not" get baptized. I actually didn't get to be there for this conversation though. I am really sad to hear that. That is a really hard situation. I can't believe that that she won't let him get baptized... I guess our hope is that he will be able to fully accept the gospel in the next life. 

I am in Naga 3rd ward now, in the city. It is really different to be working in the city, but it is nice too. I am excited to see how everything ends up working out for us here in Naga. I have a feeling that we are really going to be able to turn this area around. 

I really loved the package. Especially the Nutrigrain. I forgot that those things existed. I love them. a lot. If it's alright, I'd like to request one of those big Sam's Club/Costco style boxes of them in my next package. I really appreciate the package and the notes from you guys. You can expect responses in 6-8 weeks, depending on how the mail goes.

Maybe I will tell you about some of our new investigators here. We met a lady when we were walking around talking to people and trying to familiarize ourselves with our new area. She was selling green mangoes, fried peanuts and yema. We decided to by some of her wares. The yema was delicious. She has about four sons who are all really nice. We haven't met her husband yet, but we hope he will be there when we are sometime. It is kind of hard to schedule lessons... We also have started teaching another sister who sells food on the street. She sells fried bananas and fried kamote. They are really, really good, and only 6 pesos a pop. She hasn't ever had the chance to get married, and she hasn't been super receptive to our message, but she is really nice to us, so we are hoping she might have a change of heart of sorts soon. 

I think I will tell about one more.  This man and his wife had been found by the previous elders, and are super nice. They are friends or family with a couple of older less active ladies who all come and listen when we teach. It is really amazing to teach them with all of their less active family members there with them. I always feel the spirit really strong when we teach them. It is really neat. 

I know that the church is true, and that Heavenly Father has a plan for us, and that His work and glory really is to bring about our immortality and eternal life. I am so thankful for the wonderful Earth He created for us to live on.

I love you guys tons,

Elder Benjamin Merrill

Ben's new district in Naga Third Ward


Transfer announcements came this week. I'm leaving Calabanga. It really feels like I just got here. I can't believe how fast time is moving sometimes. I will definitely miss it here, especially the beautiful views of Isarog, and the nice ocean breeze. I will definitely miss the members and our investigators too. I feel like I am ready to move on though. I am so nervous and excited to see what happens tomorrow at the transfer meeting. Should be very interesting.

This weekend we got a lot of dinner/ lunch appointments. I am so stuffed right now. It is awesome. I really like the food here. We got a lot of fried chicken.

Unfortunately, due to my companion's sickness, the work kind of slowed down during most of the week. Things are still going really well with Tatay . He is really a nice man. I really hope that his wife will let him get baptized. It would be a real shame if she will not let him.

We have plans to hire a member to take all six of us out to Naga for the transfer meeting tomorrow as well as all six of our suitcases. I am interested to see how well we all fit. Should be pretty great.
The family we are working with is still doing really well. The dad is such a funny man, because he always speaks English to us, and is actually pretty good. He is at the point where he is really losing his accent, but he still says things in an awkward way sometimes, so it is pretty funny. I hope that he will be able to marry his wife. He has attended church for like three weeks in a row now, and we are very happy to see him becoming active again. Hopefully his daughter's baptism will follow soon. It is a wonderful thing to see people coming back to church.

In other news, it has been raining for a few days now, so it has cooled down a lot. I woke up this morning freezing cold. It was a wonderful feeling.

I hope everyone has a good week back home!

I love you tons!

Elder Benjamin Merrill

Ben's district in Calabanga

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


This week was kinda a rough week for the work here in our area. We lost one of our investigator families, as well as another one of our investigators.The nanay of the family told us about how she usually tries to hide from us when she sees us coming, but she can't get away fast enough. She said that she didn't want to change religions, even though she felt good when she prayed about Joseph Smith. She told us that she doesn't really want us to come back. Our other investigator's father told us she is going to be away for a month or so to take care of her sick grandma. It sounds like a crazy story to us, so we think it was them trying to get us to stop coming over.

I thought I would share my Tagalog tracting techniques at the beginning of this email because I am going to be employing them a lot over the week, due to the handful of investigators that we lost this week. So here it goes:
The first thing I do do is say, "Tao po!" which means "people!" or "Person". This is the equivalent of knocking.
Next, I usually say good morning//afternoon/evening  "Maray na Aga/hapon/banggi po." (That one is in bikol.)
Then we ask if we can introduce ourselves, "Puwede po ba kaming makipagkilala po?" or "Puwede po ba kaming magpakilala sa inyo po?"

Then, we are either told that they are busy, or belong to the Iglesia, or we get to introduce ourselves "Kami po yung mga missionaries ng The Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints, dinadala po namin ang mga mensahe tungkol kay Jesucristo. Gusto po namin na makapagbahagi po sa inyo at sa inyong pamilya" and ask for their name, "Ano po ang pangalan n'yo? 

We then usually either proceed to teach then or find out when we can come over and teach them next, "Kailan po kaya yung pinakamakomportableng oras para makapagbahagi po kami sa inyo?" 

Usually if they set an appointment for later in the week we leave a pamphlet, introduce it, and ask them to read it. "May ibibigay po kami sa inyo. Tungkol po ito sa yung ibabahagi namin sa inyo. Gagawin n'yo po ba siyang basahin?"

That is pretty much it. I wish it were as easy to do as it is to type. It usually gets easier after the first couple houses though. 

 I also remember how Dad used to say his thing in Korean when we knelt down for family prayer. I was thinking it might be fun for you guys to try learning, "Let's pray!" in Tagalog/ Bikol. Tagalog: "manalangin tayo!" Bikol: "Magpangaje kita!" (The j sounds like a j in English). That will be fun, right?

I am pretty excited to see what happens come transfer day (and to get my package). Should be a lot of changes. I hope we can get a lot of new investigators this week during all of our finding. We are still doing really well with Tatay . We found out exactly how old he is too. He is 86 years old. Nanay has been gone for a few weeks by the way too. She is visiting her sibling who lives out in Siruma (really far away) and shouldn't be back for a few weeks. We hope that she will come around soon and let Tatay get baptized.
I'm glad to hear that everyone is doing well now. Just in time for spring break to be over... Don't have too much fun being back at school.
Love you guys tons!
Elder Benjamin Merrill


I really liked Dad's insight about how the Nephites never attacked the Lamanites in their strongholds. I remember noticing that in my last reading of the Book of Mormon, but not really thinking much of it at the time. I also remember really thinking the piano analogy.

In my scripture study this week, the Israelites finally got out of Egypt. I just can't believe how much Pharaoh hardened his heart. His heart must have been really hard. I think it helps me see that as hard as the hearts of some of the people we teach are, Pharaoh's heart was even harder, and Moses was able to, with a lot of help, to listen to what God was telling them.

Things are going pretty well with all of the people that we are teaching though. Tatay  is continuing to be very receptive with all of the messages that we have been sharing with him, and  the less active man, whose daughter we are teaching actually came to church this week. (He hasn't been in a really really long time.) We got another one of our investigators to come to church too. She is the one who seemed like she was always busy before, but now has started finding more time for us. We had one of the nearby members pick her up on her way to church. I think that she believes that the church is true, but does not really have a testimony of why it is important to go to church. Hopefully we will be able to help her with that. I think what we need is to do more finding. It is still pretty scary for me, but it usually yields results. We have a lot of tracting planned for this week, so wish me luck.
I hope everyone has a great week there. I will talk to you next week.

Love you all tons!

Elder Benjamin Merrill

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Sounds like you guys were really busy with the the Dedication and the Titan Triad. I'm glad to hear that both were a real success. I can't believe that it rained for the dedication though. That seems really strange. We usually get rain about once a week here right now, so we are pretty used to getting kind of wet on occasion. 

Things are going really well here in the way of missionary work. One of our investigators, who we almost dropped because it seemed like she was always too busy for us, finally let us come over. When we finished our lesson with her, she told us about how she knows that the church is true, and that she wants to be baptized. We, of course, didn't turn her down. We set a goal date of April 12th for her.  We are really excited for her. 

Things with Tatay  have been pretty much the same though. His wife actually took a little vacation last week to visit her sister, so we have only seen her once or twice this week. I actually have kind of a neat thing to share about Tatay this week though. We saw him on his padyak as we were walking to church this week, and he actually had one of our 70+ year old less active members on his padyak. Tatay didn't even end up being able to come to church because he had to go visit Nanay's family or something like that. Isn't that great? Even though he couldn't come to church, he gave a ride to another less active member. On top of that, they are both over 70 years old. I will try and include the picture we took of them in this email.

I hope you guys have an amazing week!
Love you tons!

Elder Benjamin Merrill

Tatay on his padyak