Monday, January 15, 2018

Staying in Little Rock

Hey guys!  Hard to believe another transfer has gone by again!  
I'm staying in Little Rock with Elder Anderson.  We are so excited 
to continue serving together.  

This week was good.  Tuesday we went up to Sherwood to visit 
our Spanish Branch mission leader and work out a mission plan 
for the Branch.  We have been helping him a lot because he is 
pretty new in this calling.  I feel the Branch is starting to improve
but there's always room for improvement!  It is our hope and our
prayer that we as missionaries can help the people here even 
more this next transfer.  

Wednesday was fun.  While Elder Anderson went to a leadership 
conference I stayed here and did a blitz with Elder Ralph. He is an 
English missionary in the area next to ours. We had a good day and 
visited with some of his investigators.  It was fun to get to know him 
and meet some new people.  

Friday we did our weekly planning and studies.  Then we watched 
the broadcast of President Monson's funeral.  It was truly amazing.  
What an amazing example of service and love.  After the broadcast 
we went out proselyting and found a marine recruiting office. We met 
some cool guys there and had an awesome gospel conversation with 
them.  While we taught them about the gospel they taught us about the 
Marines!  It actually was a really neat experience.  We also had to take 
our car in to get an oil change and rotate the tires. That ended up taking 
forever and we didn't get to proselyte much more after that.  

Saturday we were on our bikes the whole day.  We went to an apartment 
complex we hadn’t been to before and met some really cool people. So -
some success!  We are going back next week to teach a couple lessons.  

Sunday we watched the church broadcast.  I really enjoyed the messages.  
My eyes were really opened about the atonement.  I loved reading about 
your experience with the Goodwin’s going to the temple.  I am so happy 
for their family and feel blessed to have been a small part of and witness 
Tod's conversion experience.  This true gospel can bring so much peace 
and happiness and I am so grateful and blessed to be out here sharing it!  

This week Elder Smalley is coming to stay at our apartment so that will be 
fun to see him again.  Elder Anderson and I are looking forward to spending 
another transfer together and working hard.  There is still lots of work to do 
here in Little Rock!  I love you guys!  Have a great week! 

Love Elder Merrill 

Our district

The Marines

We love Guillermo!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Read your Patriarchal Blessing

Hey guys!  This past week has definitely been interesting.  We started 
the week off with a solid day on Tuesday by taking our car into the shop 
to get fixed.  This meant we were on full bike the whole week.  But all is 
well because Elder Merrill is losing some weight!  We tried to contact a 
few referrals on our way back from the shop but we were unsuccessful.  
We went to Wendys for dinner and to do some online proselyting.  Shout 
out to Aunt Mardi for the Wendys gift cards - they have definitely gone a 
long way and blessed my life.  :)

Wednesday we had district meeting which is always great. After this we
were able contact a few people and teach some lessons.  After this we 
went down to the church and taught a Book of Mormon class that went 
really well.  There were a few investigators there which was awesome!   

Thursday is when things started to get weird.  We ended up doing a lot 
of things that were necessary to do but it limited our time and we weren't 
able to visit anyone or teach.  Friday we went to get the car back.  I took 
forever because stuff got messed up with the payments.  Since that took
way longer than we expected that experience was pretty much our day.    

Saturday was a crazy day.  Our zone leader, Elder Brinkerhoff, was on 
splits with us.  We were riding bikes that day and at one point were on a
sidewalk on a hill.  We came upon a  tree in the middle of our path - Elder 
Anderson and I swerved around just fine but Elder Brinkerhoff didn't make 
it.  His bike did a front flip and he became Superman.  saw the whole thing 
go down and it was crazy.  I rode up to him and asked him if he was ok and
he said, "no man."  I felt really bad for him.  We took him to the hospital in 
the back of the AP’s mini van.  After x-rays we all learned that be broke his 
collar bone.  The doctor referred him to a specialist.  We are hoping and 
praying everything turns out alright for him.   

Now for some spiritual stuff.  As a district we have been trying to read our 
patriarchal blessings every day this transfer.  It has been a really cool and 
amazing experience.  I have been able to find new things when reading my
blessing each day.  I'm also now realizing parts that I thought I understood 
may not be what they seemed as before.  I get really excited to be a part of 
all that my Heavenly Father has in store for me.  Everyone should definitely 
read their patriarchal blessings often because I have learned every time we 
read them we can see our worth in Heavenly Fathers eyes.  Our Father in 
Heaven loves us so much and has many things in store for all of us. 
I hope you guys have an awesome week!  Love ya! 

Love Elder Merrill 

Elder Anderson and I took shopping carts back to Kroger that 
were outside our apartment for service one night.  It was fun!  

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year!!!

Hey guys!  Happy New Year!  We decided to celebrate the New Year 
with a little extra sleep so it was definitely a relaxed celebration. It was 
great. I don’t think I have ever loved sleep more than on the mission.  

This week was pretty good.  I got sick Christmas night so we stayed 
in the next day.  My body ached and I had chills.  We had interviews 
on Wednesday with President Hansen.  He gave me a blessing and 
I know that really blessed me and helped my get over the sickness.  
It was awesome.  The power of the priesthood is real.  

This week was pretty slow so I really don't have too much to report.  
We spent all day Friday and Saturday biking around trying to find 
people to talk to.  We didn't have too much success but we will try 
try again.  Sunday was awesome.  All three English wards combined 
as well as our Spanish Branch for a special meeting.  All the English 
ward boundaries were rearranged.  None of these changes will affect 
the Spanish Branch but it was really cool to witness.  It is amazing to 
witness the progression of  the church to the point where they need to 
make room for more people.  I had the opportunity to translate this 
meeting for our Branch because I’m the best Spanish speaker in the 
district.  It was fun.  I really enjoy translating.    

Last night we were invited to a New Year's Eve party at a member's 
home in the Benton ward.  It was great and we ate a lot of cookies. 
Love you guys! 

Love Elder Merrill

from the Little Rock Spanish District

Shooting some pool in the Mission apartment clubhouse

Monday, December 25, 2017

My Testimony on this Christmas Day

It was so awesome talking to my family today!  I definitely teared 
up when I bore my testimony, it was a tender moment. 

I would like to bear my testimony of my Savior Jesus Christ on this
Christmas day.  I know that He lives.  I know that He knows us better 
than anyone ever could and loves us still.  We can never fall farther 
than his light shines nor stray farther than his reach extends. I have 
come to know of His divine power to boost us at our lows and humble 
us in our highs.  I can definitely say that I know my Savior loves me 
and is rooting for me to do my best.  I love this gospel and feel so 
privileged to share it.  I will forever be touched each time He lets me 
see someone through His eyes and love them as He does.  Miracles 
are real and occur daily, we just have to open our eyes. There is no 
place I would rather be than testifying of Jesus Christ and the saving 
power of His grace.  I love you guys.  Merry Christmas! 

Love Elder Merrill
Merry Christmas Elder Merrill!!!  
Christmas package from home - Beanie made by an investigator

Loved his Christmas package

Elder Merrill & Elder Anderson
Mountain biking on Christmas Day in their matching $6.00 shirts

Chocolate money!

Christmas mugs

Christmas caroling

Zone Christmas Party

Monday, December 18, 2017

Merry Christmas Elder Merrill

Hey guys!  So this week was awesome...mostly.  Let’s begin with 
the good stuff.  Tuesday night I began an exchange with my old 
MTC companion Elder Barron.  It was awesome!  We had great 
time getting reacquainted and serving together.  We were able to 
really help out his area.  His companion is struggling a little bit so 
the area has also been struggling.  It was really fun to hang out 
with him again and talk about our different mission experiences 
we have had with some of the companions we have shared.  It 
was great.  I served with him until Wednesday night.  

Thursday was awesome. We went to North Little Rock for Zone 
Conference.  It was amazing to see everyone again and I always
learn a ton!   The conference focused on asking inspired questions 
in our missionary lessons in order to really be able to teach to the 
need of the investigator.  We participated in a really cool role play 
with some convert members there.  We asked them questions to 
find out their concerns they had before they got baptized.  It was a 
very cool experience.  This week we will have our Zone Conference 
Christmas party.  It will be a fun missionary get together to celebrate 
the season together.  They will also give us our Christmas packages 
sent to the mission home.  It should be awesome! 

Ok - now for the not so good stuff.  Remember the bike I got from the 
office?  Turns out it actually belonged to another missionary - so we 
gave it to him and he was really glad to have it back.  We called the 
office to see if they had any other bikes.  They didn't so I began riding
my old bike around.  Friday I was riding around when the unthinkable 
happened.  The derailleur - the thing that changes the gears snapped 
in half as we were riding down the sidewalk.  We took it to a bike shop 
up the road to have them look at it.  The guy there said it most likely 
was just old and worn and that it was not worth fixing.  I then started to 
talk to him about buying a bike to see if they had any good deals.  He 
told me they were having a bike drive and if I let him keep my broken 
bike for parts we would take the price down even more on a new bike.  
He told us he has seen a few Mormon missionaries in his shop before 
and that he thinks they are cool dudes.  He was really nice and he was 
happy to help me.  President Hansen likes his missionaries to bike as 
much as possible.  I have really enjoyed biking around on my mission.  
We can only use our car to go to church because it is so far away and 
we have very limited miles.  We ride our bikes everyday so a good bike
is a necessity.  Elder Anderson and his dad are pretty into bikes and he 
says that the bike we found was an awesome deal.   I know it would be 
cheaper at Walmart but I'm going to remember Reed's words - a bike 
should never be bought from Walmart unless you want a cardiovascular 
workout - haha.  So I am now the proud owner of a new awesome bike 
(after emailing his mother back and forth for a bit to figure out logistics).  
This bike is nice and will last me a long time.  Merry Christmas to me!  
When I return home I am planning on biking to school and maybe enjoy
some mountain biking.  I'll take really good care of it.  I have actually 
learned a ton of bike maintenance out here on my mission.  I have kind 
of become the bike guy which is great.  

Thank you so much for all your help today!  Elder Anderson and I are 
pretty pumped our parents are hanging out tonight.  This gospel is great!  
I love sharing it - especially during this season of our Saviors birth.  He 
really is the reason for the season - He is the reason for everything.  
I love you all!  Merry Christmas!

Love Elder Merrill
Merry Christmas Elder Merrill!
Elder Merrill's new bike - Trek Marlin

Zone Conference 

Elder Anderson and Elder Merrill 
having fun making Gingerbread Houses
Merry Christmas!!!

We had a fun evening with Elder Anderson's parents - 
Mark & Jennifer.  They just moved to Cache Valley from Colorado.  
We enjoyed getting to know each other and put together a package to send to our boys. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

#Light the World

Hey guys!  This past week was great. I have settled back into 
Little Rock.  It honestly has been like coming home a little bit 
so I have really enjoyed it.  Elder Anderson is awesome!  We 
have a great time together.  

We have biked a lot this week just because Elder Anderson 
and I both really love biking.  Speaking of bikes, I got a new 
one. The office sent out an email one day saying they had 5 
free bikes.  So since the mission office is so close we drove 
there and I got one.  It is nicer than my other one, and bigger 
too.  My bike has gotten pretty beat up so it was definitely a 
blessing.  A complete tender mercy.  

We weren’t able to teach very many people this week.  We are 
really going to work hard to change that.  It has been really fun 
to be back here in my old area.  I pretty much have the same 
everything as I did before - it’s comforting and sweet.  Most of 
the branch members remembered me on Sunday so that was 
really awesome.  There are not near as many people attending 
the Spanish branch as there used to be - so we really have a lot 
of work to do here.  

For P-day today we went to a trampoline park because a member 
owns it and we got in for super cheap. My wrist felt great the whole 
time.  I also can’t believe Christmas is in two weeks!  I’m so pumped 
to talk to y’all.  I'm serving my Savior everyday and trying my best to 
#Light the World!  I invite all of you to #Light the World in your 
own special way.  Love you guys!

Love Elder Merrill

Elder Anderson & Elder Merrill

Elder Merrill - Elder Barron - Elder Anderson

Fun at the Trampoline Park

Elder Merrill promised he was being careful...

Monday, December 4, 2017

Returning to Little Rock

Hey everyone!  Guess what?  I am back in Little Rock!  Yep - I was 
transferred back to the Little Rock Spanish North District.  I was sad 
to leave Monticello but I'm really glad that I came back to a place I 
have already been so I already know the members.  It was crazy -  
they transferred all 3 of us Spanish missionaries out of the area and 
put 3 English Elders there.  They are turning the area back to English.  
We were all a little sad with the transfer news, but I am so grateful for 
my time spent serving there.  I was so blessed to be able to serve with 
my friend, Elder Toomer, for a transfer.  

My last week in Monticello was really good.  We had an amazing lesson 
with some members at an investigator's house.  We began teaching them 
about five weeks ago.  During the lesson the wife said she had really been 
reading the Book of Mormon and was already in 3 Nephi 26.  Our jaws hit 
the floor.  So amazing!  We were super sad to leave them because they are 
golden, but I know the new Elders serving there will take good care of them. 

My new companion here in Little Rock is Elder Anderson.  He is Elder Giles' 
greenie he trained - so in mission terms - I am his Grandpa.  It’s gonna be 
great!  He is from Colorado but his family is moving to Richmond this week - 
isn't that crazy?  Maybe you could be meet his family sometime.  He says 
the area here is doing well but our investigators are low.  So our plan is to 
work hard and change that soon!   

I am living in the same place I was before.  My address is:

Elder Marriner Kaden Merrill
LDS Missionaries
7820 West Capitol Avenue  Apt. 613
Little Rock, AR  72205

I received your first Christmas package last week and it was amazing!  Thank 
you so much!  Everything was awesome and the ring fits perfectly.  I definitely 
was not expecting it until Christmas - big surprise to me!  Our Christmas Zone 
Conference is in a few weeks and I'm pretty pumped to see everyone.  I can’t 
wait to talk to you on Christmas Day!  It will be so great!  We are going to try to 
put together a Christmas card again so hopefully we get that done soon. 
Thanks again for everything!  Love you guys! 

Love Elder Merrill
Elder Toomer and Elder Merrill

Elder Merrill & Elder Toomer received the exact same mission call the same day.  
They were able to meet each other before they left for the ALRM.  
Elder Toomer is a cousin of Elder Merrill's mom's friend Jennie. 

Meeting for the 1st time at Bear Lake 
July 8, 2016

Meeting for the 2nd time at the SLC Airport
Mexico MTC bound - July 19, 2016

Missionaries in Training at the Mexico CCM
August 20, 2016

Ready to serve in the ALRM
August 29, 2016

Keith, Elder Toomer, Elder Merrill & Elder Padilla

This is our friend Keith from Monticello.  
He took the photo below.  
We were super sad to say goodbye to him.
He posted the following on his Facebook page 
which was then shared by a local Monticello mom. 

"Since following my heart to leave the traditional work platform and walk my own daily path, I have encountered many unexpected blessings in life. One of these blessings has been meeting and visiting with this crew. What started as a weekly visit at the BBQ Shack, has turned into an enjoyable friendship.  I won't lie, I've always wondered what "the guys walking around town in ties and name tags" were about; and to be even more honest, as a 30-year member of the United Methodist Church, I was kind of hesitant to approach them.  I thought they may be "different" from me, and that frightened me a little.  However, the more we began to visit with each other, the more I realized that regardless of any denominational differences existing between our belief systems...there were two major things that we had in common: A desire to help those around us, and a genuine love for Jesus Christ.  If it wasn't obvious to me before, it is obvious now...those two characteristics are the tie that should bind all men and women together in love and friendship.  As my blessings continue, I was honored to take this picture today. A picture of The Elders and The Sisters.  A picture of The Missionaries. A picture of my friends."  -Keith (Monticello, AR)