Monday, March 19, 2018

Dolla Dolla bills y’all

Hey guys!  This week was another good one but not too much happened. 
I was on exchanges almost the whole week.  Tuesday and Wednesday I 
served in Benton.  We worked so hard but really weren’t able to talk to a 
lot of people.  We then exchanged back on Wednesday and I immediately 
went on another exchange with Elder Padilla.  We served in my area so 
that was nice.  I had the honor of taking him on his first bus ride in America 
which he thought it was crazy.  We also worked hard but everyone we tried 
to visit wasn't home so that was rough but we made the best of it.  It was 
really fun to serve with him again.  Then Elder Anderson and I were back 
together Thursday night.  

Friday we were able to go and provide service all day for one of our top 
investigator family.  We helped them set up for the quinceañera of their 
daughter for five hours.  It was exhausting but so worth it to serve this
family.  The most exciting part of the week was that were were cleared 
by our zone leaders to attend the quinceañera.  It was so awesome!  We 
went while they were having a church service and set up couple more 
decorations. The party was awesome and it really centered around God.  
It was really cool to be able to understand all the Spanish at the party and 
get to know the people at our table.  There was a college student sitting at 
our table who has a couple Mormon friends.  We were able to answer a few 
of her questionsThe party provided a good opportunity for us to get some 
good exposure and introduce the ourselves as missionaries to many people.  

Sunday we had a really long correlation meeting and planned an activity for
tonight.  P-day today has been sweet.  We went to the Capitol building for a 
district activity.  I was able to hold a half a million dollars in my hands!  It was 
amazing.  We also took some really cool pictures but they are on my camera 
so I will send them next week.  

Thanks for all the support you always give me.  Being a missionary has been
one of the hardest and most rewarding things I have ever done in my life.  I 
have definitely learned a lot about trials while out here on my mission.  I have 
come to the conclusion that there is know better way to learn something that 
to learn it while in the service of my God and his children.  I love you all!  

Love Elder Merrill 

Elder Merrill in the Arkansas State Capitol Building
holding a half a million dolla dolla bills y'all!

Elder Padilla and Elder Merrill

Quinceañera fun!
Elder Merrill and Elder Anderson

Monday, March 12, 2018

A mustard seed of faith

Hey guys!  This week was pretty good.  We recently bought bus 
passes so it has been a new fun adventure riding the bus around.  
We just throw our bikes onto the front and ride to places that are 
farther out in our area that would usually take a long time to get to 
on a bike.  It has been nice. 

Last Thursday we had Zone Conference.  It was really awesome.  
President Hansen gave an amazing lesson on having faith.  He 
used himself as the example by telling us the story of how he had 
to get a hearing aid while being a Mission President.  He said that 
he felt the need to seek a blessing from one of the members of the 
seventy while attending a training meeting.   In the blessing he said 
that he was promised that his hearing would be fully restored.  He 
told us that it has not happened yet. He thought for a little while that 
he didn't have sufficient faith.  He then proceeded to teach us how 
we only need to have a mustard seed of faith.  He said that he has 
not lost his faith in God and that we need to realize that blessings do 
not always come immediately.  He testified of enduring our trials by 
clinging to doctrinal hope and to the knowledge that there is always 
light at the end of the tunnel.  His message really had an impact on 
me and gave me a new perspective.  President Hansen is great.  My 
life has definitely been blessed to have had two awesome mission 
presidents.  I have learned a ton from each of them.   

It rained again this week.  That always makes missionary life a little 
more challenging.  Hoping it doesn't rain too much this coming week.  
I'm excited for a few things this week.  We have exchanges with the 
Zone Leaders on Tuesday and then with our district on Wednesday.   
So we will be serving people all over the place. 

I can’t believe my sister is turning 18 this week.  Ahhhh that makes 
me realize how old I am! I can’t imagine how you guys feel - haha.  
I hope everyone has a great week. Love ya! 

Love Elder Merrill 

How is y'all?

I'm still doing great in Little Rock, Arkansas!  

Always an adventure in the South!

Elder Padilla fell asleep in the car so we decided to scare him - haha. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

I could in no way deny Christ

Hey guys!  I think I officially feel like a real adult now - 20 sounds way 
older than 19 - it's a little weird.  Guess what I bought with some of my 
birthday money?!  Some spankin' nice Clark dress shoes for $25 bucks!  
They were normally $135 but the store is closing and I got a sweet deal!  
I figured I could use some good shoes when I come home because mine 
are pretty beat up.  I’m pretty proud of myself.

We had a great week here in Little Rock.  Tuesday we were blessed to 
be part of an awesome service project at the Mosaic Church in our area.  
They have a food pantry every Tuesday to help the homeless people.  It 
was so great to go and help them out.  I even got to use my Spanish a 
little bit so that was awesome.  They even sent us home with a bunch of 
left over food so that was really nice. 

On Wednesday our district went and served at the biggest food bank in 
Central Arkansas.  It was a very cool experience.  We boxed up cans of 
corn for about 4 hours.  It was a really fun experience.  Then that evening 
we were invited by an English ward in the area to be part of a missionary  
panel discussion with their youth.  We first played some get-to-know-you 
games and then the youth were able to ask us questions about missions.  
The panel consisted of 2 young women who were about to submit their 
mission papers, 4 missionaries, and 4 returned missionaries.  I think the 
youth were able to hear many perspectives about missions.  They also 
asked some really awesome questions.  It was really fun to be a part of.

Thursday we went with the English Elders to downtown Little Rock.  We 
had lunch and walked around and talked to a bunch of people.  We ended 
up finding some members so that was cool.  However, we did not find many 
Hispanics so we probably we won’t go back there to work again.  Overall it
was a good day and really fun to see everything.  We also took some pretty
cool pictures around town.  Little Rock itself is really pretty small but it's a 
cool city.  It has grown on me.  Memphis is probably double the size of Little 
Rock.  Jonesboro is smaller and a lot like Logan.  I've really enjoyed all the 
areas I have served. 

Friday we had to get the tires on the the care changed and it took forever.  
There was a guitar store across the street so we went there and I played 
around for a little bit while we waited.  We also went to the only Cold Stone 
ice cream shop in our entire mission.  It was delicious and brought back a 
lot of good memories.  

On Saturday we worked.  We went to go and buy a bus pass but the place 
was closed.  We will probably go again this week to get one because the 
mission will reimburse us for the pass.  Then we can take the bus to places 
that are too far to bike and this will help save miles on the car.  

Thanks for all the birthday surprises.  They were awesome!  I finally received 
the watch - it’s so sweet!  It weighs like nothing - the box said that most of it is 
made from bamboo so that’s pretty cool.  It was definitely a great last birthday 
on the mission but I'm looking forward to the next on at home. :)

This week we have Zone Conference that I am looking forward to.  They are 
always awesome.  On a more spiritual note I have almost finished reading the 
Book of Mormon again.  I am going to try and read it one more time out here 
on my mission before I return home in four months. I am always so touched by 
Moroni’s testimony about not denying the Christ.  I have definitely come to the 
same knowledge Moroni had - I could in no way deny Christ and this amazing 
gospel.  I love this gospel so much and have learned so much as a missionary.  
The best thing is the more I learn about the gospel - the more I desire to follow!   
I love you guys!  Have a great week! 

Love Elder Merrill 
Elder Merrill in Little Rock, Arkansas

Serving at the Arkansas Food Bank

Elder Padilla, Elder Anderson, Elder Merrill, Elder Gonzales 
Hermana Orr and Hermana Quigley serving with a smile!

Elder Anderson and Elder Merrill
eating at Chicken and Waffles

Monday, February 26, 2018


Hey guys!  This week was a good end to this transfer.  It's really hard
to believe another 6 weeks has gone by - but the next 6 weeks will be
much more of the same because I am staying in Little Rock with Elder
Anderson!  I feel blessed to serve with him for another 6 weeks.  It will
be good.  It's even harder to believe I only have 3 more transfers left!
I will fly home on Independence Day now  - July 4th!  

Tuesday and Wednesday we went on exchanges. I was so happy to
be able to serve with Elder Sotomarino one more time.  He is returning
home to Peru this week.  We have had a fun last week with him here in
Little Rock.  We had his "funeral" and were able to have some fun dinner
appointments with members of the branch.  We are really going to miss
him.  On Wednesday we ventured down south on our exchange and it
poured rain.  We were on bikes so it was rough!  We were able to visit a
less active member and it went really well.  Right after our studies that day
a member called and asked if he could come out with us - this was really
a miracle because that helped make the visit with this less active member
that much better.    

We have basically had a 4 day rain storm this past week - more that just
rain - I'm talking crazy tornado-like weather!  There were a bunch of flash
flood warnings and sirens.  Luckily nothing was damaged and the weather
was never really a safety threat.  It rained on us all week but Saturday was
the best - we totally got caught in a monsoon!  It was so insane we had to
video it!  We were riding home trying to beat the storm but we didn't make
it.  It literally slammed into us.  It was raining so hard we couldn’t even see.
We hit a puddle on a path that was as tall as our bike tires - it was crazy! 
We had rain jackets in our bags but the rain came so fast we were soaked
to the core before we could even get them out!  Lucky for us, some other
missionaries drove by and stopped.  They didn't have a bike rack so we put
all of our things (bags, books, tablets, wallets, phones) in their car and then
we biked the rest of the way home.  It actually ended up being pretty fun.
We were able to get back to our apartment, change our clothes, and get
back to work.  

Sunday was great as always!  After church we had dinner with wonderful
branch members where we ate the best pupusas ever!   We all ate way
too much - we could barely walk after. 

Today's P-day has been awesome!  We played some board games and
then went over to a birthday party - for me!   Everyone got together just for
me - I felt honored.  It was fun.  We ate hot dogs and birthday cake.  Elder
Anderson bought me a bunch of drinks so I was pretty happy about that.
Thank you somuch for the birthday package.  It was so awesome!  I love
you guys!  Can't believe I will be 20 years old tomorrow!

Love Elder Merrill 

Elder Merrill & Elder Anderson
Excited to serve together for another transfer in Little Rock!

Little Rock Spanish Missionaries
Elder Merrill - Elder Gonzales - Elder Sotomarino - Elder Anderson

On Valentines Day we visited a member of our branch named Julio and his 
nephew Yayer who are living and working in the U.S. while their families 
are in Mexico. We took them a balloon and we had a fun lunch with them!  
We then sang hymns with them for a while which they both really enjoyed. 
Sacred music really invites the spirit and Julio really loved singing with us!

Elder Merrill and Elder Sotomarino

Elder Sotomarino's "funeral" 

Elders eating with the Ramos Family.
"Called to Serve.  We are happy to serve them!"

Guillermo had us over for lunch.  He bought street tacos 
for us and they were so good!  He said we are now officially 
as Mexican as he is. We took that as a compliment!

Elders with the Barrientos Family

The Monsoon!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Missionary Birthday Party!

Hey guys!  This week was a great one!  We had a few crazy adventures.  
Monday night a little puppy followed us home.  We let it come in for a bit 
and fed it a hot dog.  After that it didn’t want to leave.  We aren’t allowed 
to keep pets so this was a problem.  We ended up taking it to a neighbor 
for the night.  The next morning it was at our door again so we took it to 
vet.  It was adorable and we were sad to see it go. 

Tuesday we had our district meeting and then went to work. Wednesday 
was a pretty slow missionary day.  We worked hard and tried our best to 
contact people -- knocking doors, giving out cards, but not really teaching 
anyone.  Thursday was an awesome day.  We biked down to the edge of 
our area.  There is a street down there that has a few Mexican tiendas so 
we can talk to a lot of people there by just hanging out around them. We 
talked to a few promising people which was good.  Since we were down 
there we stopped at a BBQ food truck for dinner that night.  It was pretty 
good but not Memphis BBQ good.  I really miss Memphis BBQ.  

Friday we stayed in our apartment for a bit to do our weekly planning.  
After that we went to visit a less active member that we hadn't seen in
awhile.  We had an awesome lesson about the Book of Mormon!  That 
night I went on exchanges with the zone leaders.  We also had a pretty
fun birthday party for Elder Anderson and I!  His birthday was this week
and mine is next week.  Elder Jorgenson was in town visiting the ALRM 
with his parents so they came to the party too.  It was really great to see 
him again!   

Saturday was a good day.  I was still on exchanges and we spent the day
in a town called Bryant.  It is a really spread out town.  It was also a gloomy 
day so not a lot of people wanted to talk to us.  That night I had an interview 
with President Hansen.  He said I might stay in Little Rock for the rest of my 
mission!  He also said Elder Anderson and I would serve one more transfer 
together and then I would probably train my last two transfers here.  So we 
will see if all of that actually happens.  Sometimes President Hansen says 
things and then the opposite happens so who knows.  I will happily serve 
wherever the Lord wants me to serve.  

Sunday was great as usual.  We had dinner with the Branch president and 
family.  They are really awesome.  She made us falso conejo - I’ll let you look 
it up - haha.  It was pretty bomb!  It's hard to believe I am going to turn 20 
next week!  It's even harder to believe I only have 3 transfers left!  Thanks 
for everything!  I love you guys!  

Love Elder Merrill

Missionary Birthday Party! 
Elder Gonzles, Conner Jorgensen, Elder Anderson & Elder Merrill

A party wouldn't be complete without Dr. Pepper!  

Elder Merrill and Elder Anderson 
with their new 4-legged friend

Super missionary Elder Merrill

Monday, February 12, 2018

It's always cool to serve!

Hey guys!  This week was great.  It was a quiet week but were able to 
make some good things happen from it.  Today for P-day we went to a 
trampoline park.  A good time was had by all!  

Tuesday we helped with a sweet service project with the English Elders.  
We went down to one of the churches in the area and helped with their 
food bank.  Every Tuesday they give out a bunch of food to the homeless 
people in the area.  We went and helped them set everything up and get 
ready in the morning.  We didn’t end up passing out the food but it was 
really cool to see the church - plus it's always cool to serve!  It was so nice 
to talk to people from another church and not have them hate on us.  We 
were all just there to serve and that’s all that really mattered. 

Wednesday and Thursday were exchanges.  It was awesome because I 
got to serve with Elder Gonzalez again!  This is the first time I have been 
around him since we served together here in Little Rock about a year ago.  
It was just like old times being in our old area together.  We weren’t able 
to teach a lot of people but it was great to catch up.  Then on Friday Elder 
Anderson was sick so we stayed in.  That day was a little long for me but 
he got better so it was worth it to stay in and rest.  We worked a little on 
Saturday since he was feeling better.   

Sunday was great!  We had an awesome dinner appointment with a less 
active family.  Then Elder Anderson and I had a good talk about where we 
are on our missions and where we want to get too.  Good stuff!  It rained 
one day and I found out that my slick tires have no traction in water. I can 
basically power slide into a 180 with them.  Good times!   Love you guys! 

Love Elder Merrill

Anyone ever eaten Chicken Wangs? 

Elder Gonzales and Elder Merrill 

Elder Merrill and Elder Anderson enjoying some Southern food

Eating tacos with Edgar - a new member

Elder Anderson and Elder Merrill with the English Elders and their "sticks"

P-day trampoline park party

Monday, February 5, 2018

Read it everyday folks!

Hey guys!  We started off our week strong by teaching an awesome 
family.  This is the family we received as a referral from the English 
Elders. The mom's main question for us was what church the Savior 
will save when He comes. She had a lot of deep doctrinal questions 
for us. It made the lesson challenging but she is genuinely interested 
so we will do our best to answer all her questions.  

Wednesday we had a wonderful Zone Conference. President Hansen 
gave an amazing lecture out of the New Testament about the Savior's 
life. I really loved learning even more about my Savior.  I now have the 
goal to finish reading the New Testament before I return home.  I know 
it will strengthen my testimony to learn all I can about my Savior - His 
life and His love for me.  

Thursday was a normal missionary day - nothing too exciting.  Friday 
we had exchanges with the Zone Leaders.  I got to serve with Elder 
Brinkerhoff again.  We had a great time and were able to set a return 
appointment for next week.  The lady we found seemed interested so 
it should be good.  

Sunday was Stake Conference. We talked a lot about councils that are 
happening in the church now.  It was really long and I had to translate 
the whole thing - my voice was dead by the end of it.  The highlight was 
President Hansen's talk on how the Book of Mormon basically improves 
our lives in every aspect.  So read it everyday folks! 

Today's P-day was pretty chill.  The bike shop I purchased my bike at 
sent me a free tune-up so we took it in. They basically just cleaned and
oiled it.  It was free so that was nice.  We still ride almost everyday - it’s 
fun.  We then went shopping at Ross.  It was awesome because I found 
the best deal ever on new pants - I found a pair of Nike golf pants for $3!  
Yep - 3 bucks people - steal of the century!  I am a very happy missionary!  
I also bought a couple new ties because it’s been awhile since I’ve had a 
new one.  They are cool!  Well I sure love you guys!  Have a great week 
and read the Book of Mormon!  

Love, Elder Merrill 

 Happy P-day!