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

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Stake Conference, Road Closures, and More June 15, 2015

This week was pretty good. and also pretty normal.

We had two lessons this week though that I would consider to be breakthrough lessons. The first was with our investigator named C. C is from an area that is pretty far away and has been taught by the missionaries for about a year. He feels like getting baptized is the right choice for him, but he doesn't feel ready and has a sister who is pretty opposed to him getting baptized... He is really good friends with a member though, which is really great because he is able to ride to church with them. We had an awesome lesson where we found out that he hasn't really been reading his scriptures lately. We read Alma 32 about the how exercising our faith is like planting a seed. We talked about all of the things that he needs to do to prepare for his baptism like praying, reading, going to church, and following the other commandments. He wasn't able to make it to church this week because of the road closure though...

They closed the main highway here in pili for a triathlon this sunday... really bad timing... It was also the day of our stake conference... I guess the stake president didn't know about it or something... The 10 or so members of our ward who actually went to the conference ended up having to get up between 4 and 5 am to make it to the church on time. (We just spent the night at the zone leaders' house on saturday.) They did end up getting a shout out from the stake president though because they cleaned up the church before everyone got there. Pretty sweet. The stake conference was pretty good though. It was actually a broadcast. We didn't get to hear the first half because we gave up our seats to members, but they finally got a tv hooked up for us in one of the back rooms towards the end of the conference and we got to hear Elder Andersen speak. It was really good. The things he suggested could definitely help the church here, but I just don't know how much the people here understood... They try really hard to understand the english.

Our other breakthrough lesson happened this Friday. We have been teaching R for a little while now. They just moved into our area from the sisters area about a month ago. He has tried a lot of different churches, but is most recently coming from the Iglesia ni Cristo. He has a lot of concerns and questions about our doctrine and really wants to know every little detail. He also hasn't ever read his assignments while we weren't there... What made our lesson so great this week was that we brought a member with us. Moises, our philosopher friend came with us and talked a lot about his conversion story. Moises was an atheist for a really long time before he joined the church. He talked about the power of the Book of Mormon and the importance of the Spirit in his conversion which was key for R to understand. He was kind of looking for evidence from the bible for every doctrine that we teach and not really paying much attention to what we said about the Spirit. It was really great and before we left, he told us that he was really going to read his assignment. YES! We were so happy to hear about that. There is just such a huge difference from looking at the gospel from an intellectual perspective to looking at it from a spiritual perspective. We just won't gain the strong testimony that we need if we only think about the gospel, we need to receive that witness from the Spirit and do the things that will help us to have the Spirit with us always.

Other than that, things seem like they are going pretty slow here... It always seems like we have so many people to visit, but never enough time to do it... and I know we need to be finding others too. It is kind of stressful, but very rewarding as well.

The greenie is doing pretty well. He Is way better off than I was during my training because he already knows the language. He is already great at teaching and fearless in finding. He just has a hard time being bold sometimes maybe because of his culture. I know he just doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. It is a wonderful thing to be considerate of others, but you sometimes have to ask the hard questions as a missionary. It is definitely part of our calling to call others to repentance.

Everything is going pretty ok here. I guess our area is just kinda big. That might be just about the only problem here. It is hard to get to everyone and to keep finding. We'll take care of it though :) I really like dad's advice. Love is what missionary work is all about. I know that if we really love the Savior, we will go and do everything he asks of us and will be able to work miracles.

Love you tons!
Have a great week!

Elder Merrill

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Another Great Week May 29, 2015

This week was good. We had been having some problems with just having to run all over the place all the time to get to different teaching appointments and we just couldn't find time to knock on doors and talk to people on the street. This week we were very blessed to have a lot of time on Friday to just walk around and talk to people all over the place. It was great and we got to meet a few cool new people. We are still working on contacting most of them. There was one though that was really neat.

He is really nice and was really willing to work with us on scheduling an appointment with us. We were able to teach him last night. He is about 30 years old, has three children, works as a security guard and has psoriasis. He has a really strong belief in God and prays a lot for help coping with his psoriasis. I think his psoriasis has been a blessing for him in some ways. I feel like he is really prepared for our message. The lesson started in a pretty funny way though. He brought us out some coffee to drink... We had to just put it down next to us. I could tell my comp was kinda nervous about it. He was pretty nice about us not drinking it though. We just shared a little bit of an overview of The Restoration. He was a little worried when we mentioned baptism and explained to us that he and his children were already baptized. He asked if he would have to be baptized again. He said that would be fine, but he wants to hear what we have to say before we makes any decisions about baptism. I am super excited to see where things go.

We are still teaching the other children in the family that we baptized when I first got here. Things have been kind of slow and they haven't been to church in a while... But nanay has been in manila for a while too, so hopefully they will come back to church when nanay comes home this week. They said that nanay is going to church there in manila though, which is good.

To answer mom's question about restaurants, there are a few in centro which are kinda more expensive like jollibee, graceland, and bigg's diner. We don't usually eat at places like that more than once a week. There are actually tons of little eateries around here though and the prices are a lot better. There are actually a bunch of new ones open around our house because school just started today. Usually you can get a vegetable dish for about 10 - 15 pesos and/or one with meat for about 25 - 35 pesos. Usually that is what we do for lunch and then we just cook our own rice at home. Good stuff. We haven't really cooked anything too exciting recently... Just squash, upo(I don't know the english of this one) and other veggies like string beans.

I can definitely testify to the importance of finding in the mission. I am not happy when I am not finding. It has caused me a lot of stress recently. I am a lot happier now :) Thank goodness for hard work.

I love you tons!
Don't have too much fun this summer without me!

Elder Benj Merrill