Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Biking in Memphis

Hello!  I am so excited to attend the temple today!  Because of 
this our P-day was changed to Tuesday this week so we don't 
use proselyting time.  I have really been looking forward to 
going - it is going to be amazing!   

This past week we had a really good start to this transfer. Elder 
Smalley and I got a little relaxed last transfer so this one we have 
decided to just work really hard, everyday, and it is already paying 
off.  Tuesday was when Hurricane Irma got to Memphis.  It rained 
ALL day so we tried not to bike too much.  Wednesday we spent a 
lot of time talking to people around the apartment complex.  We 
were able to teach a few of them so it went pretty good.  Thursday 
we rode out into the ghetto of our area.  This area is called Orange 
Mound.  Remember in the movie "The Blind Side" they go to an 
apartment to visit Michael's mom?  Well that apartment is in Orange 
Mound.  It is really a super ghetto.  It's pretty cool that guy grew up 
here right?!  Since it is really sketchy over there we never stay long 
enough for it to get dark when we ride over there.  One street over 
from this is an area that is basically all Hispanics.  We have found 
some pretty sweet investigators there.  Friday was a slower day 
but that night was a party.  Our Spanish Branch had a talent show 
activity and it was really fun.  We got to witness some really awesome 
Mexican dances.  There is also an Italian member in the branch and 
he sang an Italian opera song that was really amazing.  It has been 
really great to be able to be surrounded by so many different Hispanic 
cultures out here.  One of the best parts about being a Spanish Elder
serving in the States.    

Saturday was the adult session of our Stake Conference.  We brought 
Ricardo along with us so Elder Smalley and I switched off translating.  
One of the members of the Stake Presidency gave a really amazing 
talk about the sacrament.  He asked if we are just going through the 
motions each Sunday when we partake of the sacrament or if we are 
really preparing ourselves to take upon ourselves Christ's name.  I 
really enjoyed his talk.  Stake Conference was Sunday and it was so 
awesome.   President Hansen was one of the speakers in the meeting.  
He spoke about missionary work of course.  He encouraged each member 
to be a missionary by their example.  It was a really great talk and I think 
everyone enjoyed the conference and the spirit felt there.    

The other exciting news of the week is that we will soon be getting smart 
phones and Facebook.  This Thursday we will have a missionary wide 
zone conference about these new changes.  I'm so pumped!  This mission 
has changed so much since I got out here.  There's nothing as constant as 
change right?   Thanks for the emails.  I always really look forward to hearing 
from everyone.  Love you all!  

Love Elder Merrill

Elder Merrill and Elder Smalley biking in the rain
-They are getting used to being a bike only area now-

Memphis Tennessee Temple
Today will be the last time Elder Merrill gets to attend this temple 
as a missionary because it is closing the end of the month for renovation.  

Monday, September 11, 2017

Stayin in Memphis!

Hey guys!  Well - I'm staying in Memphis with Elder Smalley - 
our 3rd transfer together!  The big change for us is that we are 
now a bike only area.  President Hansen is trying new thing 
and creating all bike areas.  We'll see how it goes.  I'm actually 
really excited to stay here.  I love Memphis!   And hopefully I will 
lose some mission gained weight biking all the time now - ha ha!  
Hermana Keller is also still in my district.  This will be 6 straight 
transfers serving together with her!  Crazy!  

This week has been pretty good.  We had some complications 
with exchanges and somehow I ended up in Elder Anaya's area 
with him the whole week.  We both had guitars so he taught me 
a few things.  I'm sending the guitar home soon.  We were able to 
do some fun things in his area.  We were given the opportunity to 
do some awesome service for a member with all four of us.  We 
moved all of the member's stuff he had in storage to a shed at his 
house.  Serving together with these Elders is so much fun.  Some-
how hard work with them is always fun.  It was such a blessing to 
serve and spend time with Elder Anaya this past week before he 
leaves the mission field.  It was super sad to say goodbye today. 

This week really wasn't too eventful so I don't have much else to 
say other than the church is still true!  Today we've been at the 
church all day for transfers just hanging out with missionaries.  
It's been fun, but being at the church all day is super boring....  
Well I love you guys!  Have a great week!

Love Elder Merrill

Walkin in Memphis!  

One last picture of this Memphis 6-pack
Hermanas Keller & Petty
Elders Anaya, Merrill, Sotomarino, & Smalley

Elder Anaya's funeral 
He will be missed in the ALRM!

Elder Merrill says good-bye to Elder Anaya

Elder Merrill says good-bye to Elder Jorgensen

Elder Merrill hanging out with missionaries on transfer day 

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Lord sure works in mysterious ways!

Hey guys!  We went to the Civil Rights museum today for Elder 
Anaya's last P-day.  It was a really cool experience.  I think he 
is ready to go home.  I will definitely miss him a lot. 

This week was pretty good.  We had a good district meeting on 
Tuesday that was super fun.  We played Jeopardy.  Our team 
ended up losing and as a result we had to eat the gross bean 
boozled stuff.  It was so nasty!  

On Wednesday we had a really awesome lesson with this guy 
named Jose.  He was a referral that we received from Georgia.  
Because of this referral I found out something crazy!  Do you 
remember Elder Hadfield from my MTC district?  Well he was 
the one that sent the referral!  Crazy right?!  The Lord sure works 
in mysterious ways!   

Thursday we received some of the leftovers from Hurricane Harvey.  
We spent most of the day trying to stay out of the crazy rain from 
the hurricane.  We decided to go to the mall and try to talk to people 
and make contact with some potential investigators.  Saturday we 
spent most of the day finding people again and had a little bit of 
success.  We are hoping Ricardo gets baptized this Saturday but it 
is not looking super solid.    

I had a really cool experience during my personal studies this week.  
I was reading my patriarchal blessing again and I noticed a line in it 
that I had never noticed before.  In my mission section there is a line 
that says some of the people I serve with and around, along with the 
people I bring into the Gospel, will be some of my best eternal friends.  
I always took that to mean that we would be good friends forever from 
this point on.  But now I have come to the realization that I knew these 
people before this life and they knew me.  This Gospel is amazing!  

Another cool thing that happened this week is that an investigator gave 
me a guitar.  His name is Randy.  He is more of an investigator/friend we
have made out here.  We met him at a car dealership one time when we 
took the car in to get fixed.  He saw that we didn't have fidget spinners 
with us so he said to call him in two weeks and he would give us some. 
We called and he invited us out to lunch.  So we went and and he gave 
us the spinners and we talked.  After that we have just kept in touch and 
become pretty good friends.  He now takes us out to dinner about once 
a week.  He is super awesome.  So now I have a guitar.  The only thing
is President Hansen says I have to send it home.

I'm grateful for all the cool experiences I had this week.  I love that the Lord
works in mysterious ways and I love that this Gospel is so amazing!  I'm so 
grateful that I get to share this gospel as a missionary.  That I get to share it
with the people I am serving with and the people I am serving in the ALRM!   
Have a great week!  Love you guys! 

Love Elder Merrill

Ricardo with Elder Merrill & Elder Smalley

Elder Smalley & Elder Merrill

The gifted guitar

Monday, August 28, 2017

Definitely sent from God

Hey guys!  I can't believe another week has gone by.  Time 
never seems to slow down.  This week was pretty good and we 
were blessed with some really cool experiences.  On Wednesday 
we were tracking in an apartment complex.  We went and sat down 
on a bench and started talking to a couple Guatemalans.  After a 
minute another guy named Guillermo (which is Spanish for William)
walked up and just sat down and started talking to us.  It was kind 
of weird at first but we soon realized he knew some stuff about the 
church and missionaries and had come to us for help.  We got to 
talking and the thought came to my mind, "man I really wish I had 
a restoration pamphlet right now."  I had grabbed a new Bible and 
Book of Mormon out of the closet that morning and hadn't put a 
pamphlet in them.  Just then the wind blew open my own personal
Bible and there was a restoration pamphlet inside!  It was so crazy.  
So I pulled the pamphlet out and started teaching the restoration 
very simply.  He said it all made sense and invited us to come teach 
him the next day.  It had been lightly sprinkling rain as we were talking.  
When we got up to leave we turned and saw a huge double rainbow.  
Guillermo then said, "that is definitely sent from God."  It was such 
a super cool moment.   The next day we had our lesson with him and 
it was awesome - the spirit was so strong.  We are going to teach him 
again this week.  His apartment was awkward to be in because of some 
questionable posters on the walls.  We seriously just stared at his face 
the whole time we were teaching him because we couldn't really look 
anywhere else.  The worst part was we brought a member with us to 
the lesson.  Good times! 

We have started up a soccer night here every Saturday night.  It has 
been really fun!  We have quite a few investigators come play with us
each week.  It has been a great way for these investigators to meet 
some of the members.  This week I scored on a header so I felt pretty 
cool!  I figured dad would be proud.  

Today is going to be a more relaxed P-day.  We might go to the Pink 
Palace museum and then just hang out with Elder Anaya and Elder 

I am so grateful for the experiences God has blessed me with this past 
week - and every week.  An important lesson I have learned out here in 
the mission field is to always try to look for the good.  I am convinced it 
would be pretty easy to become depressed if you didn't.  Learning how 
to live in those tiny moments of success you have each and every day 
has been amazing.  I've had a couple companions ask me how I am 
always so positive when people tell us "no" all day long.  I tell them it's 
because I've played baseball my whole life.  In baseball failing is winning.  
I really have used a lot of the things out here serving that I learned from 
the game of baseball.  It has been way cool to see how much it all applies
to the mission.  To life.  I found a really cool quote the other day that said, 
"smooth seas do not make skillful sailors."  Always remember that our trials 
are given to us to make us stronger.  I feel I have definitely grown up out 
here.  Missionary work is not easy.  It is work.  It is the most rewarding work 
I have ever done and I love it!  And I love you guys! 

Love Elder Merrill 

Elder Merrill "Ten feet off of Beale"

Elder Merrill on Beale Street

District photos at district meeting
Beginning in the front:
Elder Anaya
Elder Sotomarino
Elder Smalley
Hermana Keller
Hermana Petty
Elder Merrill

Monday, August 21, 2017

Memphis Red Birds & Beale Street Blues

Hey guys!  The mission is still going great and I am so happy!  
Thanks for sharing the Gordon B. Hinckley quote, "Forget 
yourself and go to work."  That quote floats around the mission 
field a lot.  It's kinda crazy how when you are working so hard 
and constantly thinking of what you can do for your investigators 
you can feel so happy. I don't think I have have ever been so tired 
and so happy at the same time.  It's a weird feeling sometimes.  
It's hard to let a little thing like fatigue get you down when you see 
someone change their life because of the message you shared.  
One thing I have definitely learned is that no matter how good you 
are at talking to people or teaching, none of it matters if you don't 
have the spirit with you.  No one remembers what you say most 
of the time, but they always remember how they felt. 

This week was pretty good, it was really busy with meetings so we 
didn't have as much proselyting time as we usually do.  Tuesday 
we had interviews with President Hansen which took a while.  I 
have decided that it is really hard to run on time as a Mission 
President.  In my interview I asked him about going to a baseball 
game on P-day.  To be honest I thought he would say no. I explained 
that the game started at noon and would end before P-day was over.  
He said as long as it was over before P-day ended we were good to go.  
I was so pumped!  Ever since I got to Memphis I have been watching the 
schedule to see if the Red Birds ever played on a Monday afternoon.  
was shocked when I actually found a game that would work out.  What 
team plays on a Monday at noon after school has started?  I considered 
it an amazing tender mercy - haha!  We went to the game today and it 
was amazing!  The stadium is downtown Memphis and it was so cool.  
The Red Birds won 5-1.  We saw 3 home runs.  Apparently with this win 
they set the record for most wins in a season for the team.  I love baseball!
It has been such a big part of my life and it was so amazing to be there.  

Zone Conference was this past Wednesday.  I always look forward to this 
because it is always awesome.  President Hansen instructed us on using 
technology more in our proselyting.  He also dropped some pretty strong 
hints we might be getting Facebook soon.  We also found out that we are 
singing at a fireside in October.  I's so excited to sing in an organized choir 
again.  They gave us the sheet music at zone conference and I'm not gonna 
lie, it felt amazing to hold choir music in my hands again. I have really missed
singing in choir.

Thursday was just a normal day, but Friday was a long day.  We were going
to bike that day so we ran to the store to get a tube for Elder Smalley's tire.  
We ended up with the wrong size so we went to exchange it and they didn't 
have his size.  So we went to another store, and another, another, and then 
another.  We finally found the right tube but when Elder Smalley went to put 
it on his bike he poked a hole in it!  So we took it off, patched it up, and finally
headed on our way.  Saturday was a good normal day and church on Sunday 
is always a good time!  I love Sunday's now. 

I can't believe the summer is almost over.  It will be Christmas before we know 
it and then I will get to see you guys over Skype again!  I can't believe I have 
been out serving for 13 months!   On Saturday called Elder Toomer and his 
companion, who is Elder Giles now.  Elder Toomer brought up our 13 month
mark and honestly I hadn't even realized it until he said it.  Seems like we were
just in the SLC Airport together boarding the plane bound for the Mexico CCM!  
Crazy how fast the time is going.  I love you all!  Have a great week!

Love Elder Merrill


Elder Merrill's new hat

Elder Merrill was in heaven today at the baseball field!  

Elder Merrill in Memphis, TN

Elder Anaya & Elder Merrill at Zone Conference



Memphis Blues playing on Beale Street

Monday, August 14, 2017

The mish is awesome! Patriarchal blessings are awesome!

Hola everyone!  All continues to go well here in Memphis. So 
yesterday Hermana Keller and I performed a musical number in 
sacrament meeting.  We played "Come Unto Jesus." I accompanied 
on the piano and she played her flute.  I think it went well.  I sat my 
iPad on the bench with the cover closed to record it so that's why it 
is dark.  I have a video of a practice I can try to send later.  Enjoy!  


I had the music memorized just like old times - Ha Ha.  It was really 
awesome to actually prepare something and perform again. It makes 
me want to get better on the piano when I return home.  I have been 
learning how to play the guitar a little bit out here.  I know a couple 
songs.  I have decided I really want to take a guitar class in college 
now.  Music is so awesome!  

This week was good.  We were able to find more new investigators!  
It is so great to finally be able to expand our teaching pool.  Ricardo 
is so awesome.  We had a little scare with him this week.  His phone 
wasn't working on Friday so we went to visit him.  When we knocked 
on his door we saw him walk up to the door but he didn't answer.  We 
got a little worried thinking he didn't want to meet with us anymore. We 
decided to stay in the area and knock a few doors.  By doing this we 
ended up finding a really cool guy named Eduardo.  The next day we
were able to visit Ricardo again and he is still solid.  Blessings!

I had a super awesome experience reading my patriarchal blessing this 
week.  Sometimes I get down about baptisms - I just want to baptize 
everyone!  In my blessing there is a section about my mission and being 
a missionary.  I have read it many times before but this past week when I 
read it again it changed my whole outlook regarding my mission. The part 
that caught my eye talks about how I will see success in the people that 
work around me and how that will bring me joy.  Looking back I now realize 
people who are around me have always succeeded.  It has honestly been 
amazing because I love being out here and being a missionary.  I have really 
learned this past year that seeing other people happy makes me happy too!  
      The mish is awesome!  Patriarchal blessings are awesome!  
I have a huge testimony of them.  I read my blessing a couple times a week -
I love it so much!

This week we have Zone Conference so I am super pumped.  They are 
always awesome.  I always look forward to being taught by President.  
I have learned so much out here while serving the Lord.  I also learned 
recently that my release date will by July 3, 2018.  I am going to make the 
most of each and every day I get to wear my missionary tag!  Thanks for
everything!  I love you guys!

Love Elder Merrill

This is Ricardo.
He has a baptismal date set for August 26.
We love him!

The Memphis 6-pack

Service with a Smile 

P-day at the MEMPHIS ZOO