Monday, April 23, 2018

I KNOW I am where I need to be!

Hey guys!  This week was great!  On Tuesday we had a really awesome 
lesson with an older couple we are teaching.  They always have a lot of 
questions for us which is awesome.  We are really hoping to get them to 
church soon.  Wednesday we had a wonderful district meeting.  After that 
I went up to Mountain View for exchanges.  It’s a little town about an hour 
Northwest of Batesville.   Apparently it's the folk music capitol of the world.  
They have people come and play there every weekend.  It was a cool place 
to see.  We weren’t really able to teach anybody but that was ok.  I returned 
to Batesville just in time for dinner with Brother Trayler.  He invited us over 
again and we were excited because he is such an interesting person.  

Friday we did service for an investigator of ours.  We went and helped him 
haul scrap metal.  It was actually really nice to do some manual labor like 
that for a while.  Saturday morning we went and helped out at the community 
breakfast at the Methodist church.  After that we went back and hauled more 
scrap metal for the rest of the day.  It was a blast but a lot of work.  The guy 
we were helping is the one we are hoping will get baptized soon - as soon as 
he stops chewing tobacco.  

Sunday we drove to Memphis and we are still here!  It has been amazing!  It 
was about a 2 1/2 hour drive to get here from Batesville.  The missionary tribute 
fireside last night was great.  I was able to connect with some old friends here - 
it was so good to see them all again.  For P-day today we have just been hanging 
out with Elder Toomer and others at the church playing basketball.  It has been a 
blast.  I also contacted Randy - the guy I became good friends with while serving 
here - we are going to go to lunch with him this afternoon and then head back to 
Batesville.  Man I really miss this place!  I kind of got sad today because I am not 
serving here - but I KNOW I am where I need to be!  I know I am serving where 
my Heavenly Father needs me to be.  

Love Elder Merrill

Elder Giles, Elder Merrill, Elder Short & Elder Toomer
at the Memphis Missionary Tribute Fireside

 - Companions -
Elder Merrill and Elder Pickering

Monday, April 16, 2018

Exciting things are happening here!

Hey guys!  It was an exciting week in my new area. Elder Pickering is 
super awesome - it's going to be a fun transfer.  Batesville is about the 
size of Monticello but a lot older.  I think it was the first official city in 
Arkansas.  I met a lot of the branch on Sunday.  Most of the members 
are over the age of 65 so there should be some pretty fun times ahead.  

Tuesday was transfer day so not much happened.  Wednesday we went 
and visited a few members so I could start to get to know the area. I met 
one of our top investigators on Saturday who is going to get baptized as 
soon as he quits chewing so that is awesome.  We also have another 
investigator who is ready for baptism and should be in a couple weeks.  
Exciting things are happening here!  

Thursday we went and did service at Habitat for Humanity that was fun. 
Then we went to the southern part of our area and visited a few of our 
investigators.  To be honest it is really nice to have a lot of people to teach. 
Blessings of an English area.  Then that night we had dinner with Brother 
Trayler.  That man is the most interesting man I have ever met. A book 
needs to be written about his life.  It was awesome.  

Friday we had our weekly planning.  It took awhile because Elder Pickering 
taught me all about all of our current investigators and less active members 
we will be working with. 

Saturday we had a couple awesome lessons. We went to visit a less active 
member with another member and got him to come to church Sunday.  Yay!
That evening we had a lesson the the guy who has to give up chewing. We 
were just brutally honest with him and I think it may have worked. He is really 
tight with the missionaries so he totally understood. I really hope he can do it!  
I know he can do it with the help of the Savior.  We all can do anything with 
the help of our Savior.  

Sunday I got up and introduced myself to everyone in sacrament meeting. 
still talk really fast in front of people and speaking Spanish has not helped 
with this at all.  But I tried to speak slowly.  After church we headed to the 
musical tribute in Conway.  The meeting was great because I was able to 
see a few member friends from Monticello again. 

Today was our district P-day.  We just played games at the church all day. 
I will try to send a district photo next week since I don’t have one yet.  My
new district consists of Elder Pickering and I, Elder Patterson and Elder 
Bleazard, Sister Gray, and Sister Gubler. Crazy thing is I totally hung out 
with Sister Gubler one night before my mission. She is really good friends 
with Nathan Duncan and we played night games together. It blew our minds 
when we made all the connections.  Such a small wonderful world!  Thanks
for all of your love, prayers and support.  I love you guys! 

Love Elder Merrill

Elder Pickering and Elder Merrill enjoying dinner with the Wahlquist family

- Elder Dawson - Elder Merrill - Elder Anderson - 
-Reunion of the Little Rock Squad at Conway- 
We all lived in the same apartment complex in Little Rock and became 
close friends since we all stayed together for the 3 transfers I was there.  

Spanish Missionary Musical Number

Missionary Musical Tribute in Conway

The (sad) day Elder Gonzales returned home

Monday, April 9, 2018

I'm headed to Batesville!

Hey guys!  Guess what?!  I’m headed to Batesville!  It’s an English Branch 
with Spanish missionaries serving in it right now. My companion will be Elder 
Pickering - It should be good.  I was thinking about it and my trainer ended his 
mission there - I thought that was funny.  Batesville is right next to Jonesboro 
so I should get to do exchanges there.  I'm excited to serve with Elder Pickering 
again.  We were in the same district in Memphis.  Elder Anderson is headed to 
Searcy - right next door -  so I should still see him from time to time.  Transfers 
are always exciting but packing is the worst.  It’s nice we get to do it on P-day 
now instead of Sunday night.  It's crazy to think I'm headed to my last area. I'm 
pretty sure I will stay there for my last 2 transfers.  President Hansen told me he 
wants me to train a Greenie in Batesville for my last transfer.  That will definitely 
keep me focused until the end of my mission.  Today we have been really busy
running errands and getting all of our packing done.   

It was a good last week of the transfer.  Tuesday we did an awesome service 
project.  We went and helped out at a food bank kind of in the ghetto. They give 
out food to the homeless every Tuesday.  I really enjoyed talking to the people 
and handing out a bunch of food.  They were so grateful for the food and I was 
grateful for the service opportunity.  We then taught our English class that night 
which went really well.    

Wednesday Elder Whitesides and I went on splits for the day.  His companion 
and Elder Anderson went to a meeting.  We had a fun day together.  He loves 
baseball like me so we basically relived all our glory days while we were out 
serving.  Him and his companion -  Elder Dawson - have lived right next to us 
for the last three transfers so we have gotten pretty close with them.  He's from 
St. George so hopefully we can get together and hang out after we get home.  

Thursday I got to go on an exchange with Elder Gonzalez.  It was awesome!  
It’s hard to believe that he is headed home this week.  It will be so sad to see 
him go.  I am so glad I was able to serve around him for his last two transfers.  
We held his "funeral" this week.

Saturday was a really busy day.  We went and helped a member of the mission 
presidency with some service at his storage unit.  Then we went to an activity 
the branch put on.  We went and played a bunch of games with all the primary 
kids. It was fun.  We also had our interviews with President Hansen that day. 
My interview went really well.  To be honest it has taken some getting used to 
how President Hansen runs the mission.  He is a great guy with a great big 
testimony and he has really taught me a lot.  

Sunday we went and sang in another musical tribute in Jacksonville.  It was fun 
to see everyone again.  I’m so excited that I get the opportunity to to sing in the 
next five performances.  I was pretty lucky to get chosen to sing in all of them. 
On the 22nd we will be singing in Memphis.  I am so excited that I will get to see 
some of the members there again!

Lately I have been reading in the Doctrine and Covenants.  I started when I had 
138 days left so I could read a section everyday and finish it when I go home. 
There is some awesome stuff in there!  Today I read section 52 which talks about 
"sending the elders forth two by two to preach the gospel."  It is definitely a huge 
blessing in my life to be here in the ALRM sharing the gospel with the companions 
I have had.  I have been able to witness the spirit touch people's lives as we as 
missionaries testify of the message we share.  I sure love this work and this gospel!  
I also love you guys!  Have a great week! 

Love Elder Merrill

Monday, April 2, 2018

Amazing General Conference!

Hola!  Wasn't General Conference amazing?  I really enjoyed it.  We watched 
every session at the church with all the other missionaries and church members.  
It is always nice to listen and learn from our church leaders.  I really think all the 
changes that were made with the priesthood and ministering will be good.  I'm 
not exactly sure how it will work but I know that it will all work out.  Modern day 
revelation is real.  I really loved how one of the main focuses of conference was 
receiving personal revelation.  This is something that I know I have gotten better 
at on my mission and know it is definitely something I will work on my whole life.  
I think my biggest take away from this conference was that the Lord speaks to us 
today.  He definitely guides this church and wants what is best for each one of us.  
I know the changes we received will help us build each other up as well as His 
kingdom.  What an amazing time to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ 
Latter-Day Saints!

Besides conference this week was good.  Tuesday we had our district meeting.  
After the meeting Elder Padilla and I went on exchanges.  It went really well. He 
is trying to learn his area so I made him do everything.  We ended up having a 
really good day and finding some new people to teach.  

Friday was a cool/weird day.  We went to go pick up Elder Anderson's suit from 
the cleaners and then we went to the mall to visit a past investigator who works 
at a Chinese place there. While we were there we ended up talking to a Hispanic 
janitor and he asked us to meet with him after his shift.  So we hung around the 
area for 3 hours until he got off work.  We had an awesome lesson in the mall and 
he invited us to come back this week and teach him. So hopefully that works out. 

Today has been busy.  Lots of shopping and playing soccer.  It is Elder Gonzales’ 
last P-day so he wanted to hang out before he goes home.  We are really going to 
miss him.  I am going on an exchange with him this week so I am pretty excited.  
Thanks for the Easter package.  It was awesome - especially the gushers!  I have
not had those in forever.  I love you guys. 

Love Elder Merrill

                                 We taught our English class at the library this week

Monday, March 26, 2018

Service is awesome!

Hey guys!  This week was pretty exciting.  We were challenged by our 
zone leaders to do a bunch of service so that is what we did - lots and 
lots of service.  It was great!

Tuesday we had a district meeting about service. Then Elder Gonzales
and I went on an exchange.  We went down to serve in his area.  We 
didn't have a car so things were a little rough.  We were able to visit a 
few people and have really good conversations with them.  I’m going to 
be really sad when he returns home to Chile in 2 weeks. We have really
become good friends.  He might attend BYU for school so that would be 
awesome.  Our exchange lasted until Wednesday

Thursday for service we went to a park and picked up a bunch of trash.
It was pretty fun and we got to talk to a lot of people which was good. 
We even met a few Hispanics but they ended up living an hour out of 
town.  That night we rode the bus up above our apartment and visited 
a less active member.  It was his birthday so we went to the dollar store 
and bought him a birthday card, balloon, and big glass mug.  He was 
super happy because not a lot of people had visited him.  It made us so
happy to see him happy.  Service is awesome!

Friday and Saturday we had some bus adventures.  Friday we rode the 
bus downtown and walked around the park hoping a lot of people would 
be there for Spring Break.  We were wrong.  We ended up getting lunch 
and then headed back home.  We tried a few more people but no one 
seemed to be home.  It was just one of those days.  Saturday we rode 
the bus all the way down to the church.  This requires us to go downtown 
for a transfer at the bus station.  We finally made it down south and had 
lunch at a members house.  After lunch we cleaned his whole house for 
service. He offered to give us a ride back to the church.  When we were 
at the church we realized we were going to miss our bus.  We hurried and 
set out for the bus stop but on our way there we saw the member on the 
side of the road.  His car had broken down.  We pulled over on our bikes 
to help him.  We ended up biking a mile down the road to buy a part that 
he needed.  We actually did this twice because we we got the wrong part 
the first time. By the time we did all that we had missed the bus but then 
we realized the next bus would be coming in about ten minutes.  Blessed 
by our service!  We decided to go back down town to the park again and 
try to find people since we were still there.  There were a lot more people 
there this time to talk to so that was fun.  

Sunday was the best day of the week. We went to Jonesboro to sing in a
missionary musical program!  It was really awesome to go back and see 
all of the members I used to serve while I was a missionary there.  It was 
crazy to see how many members had moved out but it was great to see 
the ones I did.  I saw Freddy!  I took picture with him.  It was wonderful 
to sing with a group of missionaries again.  Singing always strengthens my 
testimony.  It is crazy how much my heart is touched when I listen to sacred 
music.  I know that when we listen to sacred music we will always feel the 
spirit very strong.  I know I do.    

President Hansen always says the 3 things that invite the spirit are: 
1. doctrine  2. testimony 3. sacred music.   

Love Elder Merrill 

Elder Anderson and Elder Merrill

Arkansas State Capitol Building

Missionary Program in Jonesboro, AR

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.