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