Monday, July 17, 2017

Missionaries at the Memphis Pyramid

Hey guys!  Sounds like the Merrill Reunion was awesome!  Glad to 
know that people still remember me - ha ha.  That's so fun you got 
to go to the Bees baseball game.  I miss baseball a lot.  It's was 
probably weird not having tons of baseball games to go to this year.  
Thanks for always coming to every game and supporting me.  

This week was a tough one.  We talked to a lot of people everyday 
but weren't really able to teach a lot of lessons.  It really was a slow 
week.  The work here has kind of started to slow down in our area.  
We are working really hard to change things!  

This past week we were on bikes again.  When we got the car from 
the Sisters it had been crashed into in a parking lot so we got the 
opportunity of taking it into a shop for repairs.  So whaven't had 
it since last Tuesday and hope to get it back today or tomorrow.  

Elder Smalley is a great companion.  We get along really well and he 
is the biggest wanna-be cowboy I have ever met.  He's pretty funny.  

Going to the Memphis Pyramid last P-day was amazing!   We were 
able to go with an investigator and the opportunity kinda came out of 
nowhere.  He took us to the restaurant at the very top of the Pyramid 
where I ate some yummy elk chops.  We were then able to go out onto 
the decks at the top.  I took some pictures and it was amazing!  

Today for P-day we went to a place called the Main Event.  We enjoyed 
unlimited bowling, laser tag, pool, shuffle board, and a ropes course.  We
spent most of the day there.  It was nice after this past week.  

It's so crazy that this Wednesday I hit my year mark of being a missionary!  
I love being a missionary more that I ever thought I could.  Time actually 
needs to slow down but I'm going to make the most of every day.  I hope you 
all do the same.  I love you guys!  Have an awesome week!

Love Elder Merrill

Elder Merrill on the top deck of the Pyramid

Elder Smalley and Elder Merrill

Elder Smalley & Elder Merrill 
Hermana Petty & Hermana Keller 
Elder Anaya & Elder Sotomarino

Monday, July 10, 2017

President Hansen has arrived!

Hey guys!  We had a pretty average week here in Memphis.  
Nothing too exciting happened.  We had the car this week so 
that was good.  We were finally able to get back in contact with 
our top investigators.  We haven't been able to see them in 
while so it was really great to see them again.  

We got to meet President Hansen on Thursday.  He is awesome! 
I am really excited to get to know him more.  He pronounced a 
blessing upon all of us missionaries that was incredible!  

We are headed out to the pyramid today so I will send pictures 
next week!  Sorry this email is kinda you guys!

Love Elder Merrill

President & Sister Hansen

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

President Taniela B. Wakolo

President Wakolo left the Arkansas Little Rock Mission 
this past week.  The following are 2 favorite stories of him.  

The story of the two blue books.  

"When President Wakolo was new as the ALRM Mission President, he was at a restaurant.  His blue Book of Mormon was on the table right by him.  A stranger came up, grabbed his Book of Mormon, threw it on the ground, and with anger yelled, 'Blasphemy, Blasphemy, y'all don't believe in Jesus Christ!' President Wakolo was shocked and didn't want this situation to happen to any of his 18 and 19 year old missionaries.  He wanted to better prepare his missionaries.  A lot of thought and prayer went into coming up with a solution that he would feel comfortable with and what the Lord would be comfortable with.  President Wakolo decided then, back in 2014, that his missionaries would carry both the Bible and the Book of Mormon.  He ordered hundreds of Blue Bibles for his missionaries to carry along with their Blue Book of Mormon.  He then teaches the missionaries Ezekiel 37:14-20, 'The Book of Mormon is the stick of Ephraim and the Bible is the stick of Judah and they should be one in our hand, always carry them together as one in your hands, so that you can testify both of the Bible and Book of Mormon together.'  So the missionaries in the ALRM have carried both a Book of Mormon and the Bible together, 
everyday, everyday, everyday "

Elder Merrill with his Blue Book standing beside President Wakolo

"The Church is True - The Book is Blue"

Brother Wakolo’s Disciple’s Soul by Spencer Condie
While serving in the South Pacific, I received a letter from the First Presidency with an assignment to travel to Fiji and deliver a letter to Taniela Wakolo, president of the Nausori Fiji Stake. After I handed the letter to him, he read aloud the call from the First Presidency to serve as an Area Seventy, and tears flowed freely from his cheeks and those of his lovely wife, Anita.
After discussing with him the nature and duties of his new calling, I observed the tattoo on Brother Wakolo’s large right hand. Now, tattoos are very common throughout the South Pacific, and long before he joined the Church, Taniela Wakolo had the back of his hand tattooed with a large, garish design.
I said: “Brother Wakolo, in your new calling as an Area Seventy, you are going to be speaking to the youth on many occasions. I would suggest before such meetings that you put a large Band-Aid on the back of your hand to cover your tattoo. It’s hard to discourage our youth from getting tattoos when the speaker has one himself.”
He smiled a broad smile, and with a radiant expression he said, “I’ll take care of it. I want to be a good example.”
A few weeks passed, and the next time we met, his hand was heavily bandaged as if he were preparing for a boxing match. I asked, “What in the world happened to you?”
He smiled with glistening eyes and said, “I followed your counsel and had the tattoo removed.”
“Was it laser surgery?” I asked.
“No,” he replied with a big smile, “they don’t remove tattoos with lasers in Fiji. I had it surgically cut out.”
A month later Elder Wakolo and I were assigned together to reorganize a stake presidency in American Samoa. As we met at the airport, I immediately noticed an unsightly scar on the back of his hand where the surgeon had removed several square inches of skin and then very crudely sutured the gaping wound closed. This had not been performed by a plastic surgeon.
I apologized for having been the cause of the large scar on the back of his hand. He responded with a radiant Christlike countenance: “Not to worry, President Condie; this is my CTR ring. Now the Lord knows where I stand! I’ll do anything the Lord asks of me.”
Elder Wakolo has become a disciple who keeps his covenants and strives to do good continually.
His scarred hand represents his obedience as a disciple of Christ.  

Now he can bless this lives of  many members of the Church of 
Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as a General Authority Seventy.

Elder Merrill with President and Sister Wakolo 
the day he arrived in the Arkansas Little Rock Mission.  
His life has been blessed by them forever!  


Monday, July 3, 2017

Another week "in the wonder that is Memphis!"

Hey guys!  Wow, this week was...yes...long...interesting.  This week was 
bike week so it was full of adventures.  We no longer have a car full-time.  
On Tuesday, Elder Smalley popped his bike tire and we had to walk a 
ways back to our apartment.  When got back to our apartment we called 
member to give us a ride to our appointment.  He ended up taking an
hour to get to our apartment so not a lot got done that day.  Then - on 
Wednesday I popped my bike tire so we had to once again walk back to 
our apartment.  Luckily it was towards the end of the day and we decided
to just stay in for the night.  Then on Thursday and Friday Elder Smalley 
was sick with food poisoning so we couldn't leave the apartment.  I almost 
went insane!   As a missionary you can only do so much.  Needless to say 
those were 2 very l-o-n-g days.  But Saturday was a good day.  We were 
finally able to get out of the apartment that afternoon and visit with a recent 
convert.  That evening we had dinner with the 1st counselor in the Branch.  
Saturday dinner is always fun at his house because all of the English Elders 
in the area come too so there is usually 3 sets of companions there.  

Yesterday was a good fast Sunday.  I was able to translate the meeting.  I 
have really started to enjoy translating now.  Elder Smalley and I wore our 
cowboy boots to church and the first counselor wore his as well - So of 
course we had to take a picture!  It was pretty funny.

I love hearing about everything going on back home.  Sometimes I want to 
be there but then I think - Nope - I get the honor to live another day in the 
wonder that is Memphis.  I don't think I will ever get bored of this city.  There 
is always a new adventure.  

We don't really have any plans for the 4th yet.  We are hoping a member will 
invite us over for some festivities or something.  Today we are having a zone 
P-day.  We are going to paint shirts for our mission zone civil war.  We are
having a battle, or a civil war so to say, between us and another zone for 
independence.  Basically how it will work is that for the rest of the transfer we 
will get challenges from our zone leaders everyday.  We will be awarded points
based on completing the challenges they give us.  For example - a challenge 
could be talk to everyone you see wearing headphones, and stuff like that.  It
should be pretty fun.  After we make shirts we are going to head to the Nike 
clearance store hoping to catch some awesome deals!  
I truly love and miss you all but being a missionary is the best!  
hope you have an awesome week!

Love Elder Merrill

Elder Merrill, Branch 1st Counselor, Elder Smalley
wearing their cowboy boots to church!  

Elder Merrill by a Buddha statue

Monday, June 26, 2017

New investigator, lost power and golfing video

Hey guys!  I'm so glad to hear that you went to Elder Sweeten's 
mission homecoming.  Elder Sweeten is awesome! He definitely 
helped me out a lot.  I will really miss seeing him in the mission 
field.  Sounds like yesterday was a missionary Sunday with the 
homecoming and a mission farewell.  I can't believe all those 
guys are all starting to leave on their missions and that I have 
almost hit my year mark!  It literally blows my mind.    

This week has been good.  Elder Smalley is so awesome and we 
get along great!  He came out one transfer after me and I had met 
him a few times before so already knew each other a little.  It's 
really going to be a great transfer!  

As far as the Lord's work goes - this week was pretty normal.  We 
had a good lesson last night with a new investigator we picked up 
at an English class this last week.  We showed up for the lesson 
and he was there and already had the pamphlets and a Book of 
Mormon with him.  We found out that he had talked with some 
missionaries almost two years ago.  He told us he was ready to 
listen to our message again so we will see where things go with him.  

We did have a little adventure this week.  We lost power on Friday 
for about 7 hours.  It was mostly during our morning hours where we 
are actually in our apartment.  Let's just say it was hard to stay awake 
during personal study in the dark - haha.  We did lose a little bit of food 
in the fridge.  Hopefully I have enough to last me the week because I 
have no more MSF for this month.  I used it all on the food that was in 
the refrigerator.  But all is well.

I can't believe the water is all the way up to the front lawn of the cabin at 
Bear Lake and I'm not there to enjoy it!  Oh well - missions always require 
a sacrifice right?  But really - I would NOT trade this experience I'm having 
serving the Lord for the world.  I am so blessed to represent my Savior 
and serve him everyday!  The church is true!

I love you guys!  Have an awesome week! 

Love Elder Merrill

This is the biggest Baptist Church in Tennessee - 
and pretty sure one of the biggest in the South

Mini-Golfing P-day party today!
My companion Elder Smalley is in the blue shirt

It was awesome to see the Bourdrero's on transfer day last week 

Elder Merrill sent this video to his Dad today for his birthday!
It made us laugh so hard and love him even more!  

Elder Sweeten's Homecoming - June 25, 2016

It was really fun to meet him and hear stories about Elder Merrill 

Monday, June 19, 2017

A week of good-bye

Hey guys!   I am staying in Memphis!  My new companion is Elder
Smalley.  He is pretty cool.  I have gotten to know him at meetings
and stuff so this transfer should be pretty good.  Today was pretty 
much spent moving stuff around for transfers and chillin at the 
church with tons of missionaries.  It's been good, but for me being 
at the church all day is super boring.  I would rather go out on the 
town and do stuff.  We are planning to visit the Bass Pro Shops at 
the Pyramid in downtown Memphis soon so that should be amazing.  

It was pretty fun sending Elder Spencer home.  He has spent a year of 
his mission here in Memphis so everyone wanted to throw a goodbye 
party for him.  We we served a lot of food and Elder Merrill might be 
little fatter now. :) You guys will have to find Elder Spencer when he 
comes to Utah State in the Fall.  I told him to come find you so hopefully 
you can meet sometime.  Oh - he also gave me his bike!  He said he 
didn't want the bike anymore because he has another one.  We said 
good-bye today - it was sad.  I'm going to miss him.

This past week was good.  Nothing too crazy has happened lately.  We 
had another super awesome thunder storm.  I learned that thunder can 
actually be loud enough to set off a car alarm - it doesn't just happen in 
the movies.  It was pretty sweet.  It's definitely getting very hot here! No 
matter what I do when I walk outside I'm sweating!  I'm hoping to sweat 
off all the weight I have gained - haha!

Being a Spanish missionary in the states has been amazing!  Not only 
have I learned a language - I have been able to experience just about 
all of the Spanish cultures and foods because everyone living here in 
our country is an immigrant.  I have learned so much about so many 
different countries, and experiencing the food is amazing.  I wasn't sure 
at firstbut I am super happy that I am a state side Spanish speaking 
missionary.  It is the best!  

Sounds like LTC was awesome!  I remember APTC being amazing and 
it made me really excited to be a missionary.  That will be awesome to go 
to Elder Sweeten's homecoming.  I got to see him today and say good-bye.
It was sad. I will definitely miss him a lot.  He was an awesome companion.

That's about all the happenings from this week.  Love you guys!

Love Elder Merrill

I just wanted to send you a little email and say thanks. Thanks 
for everything. I always loved hearing stories from your mission.  
Hearing them always made me want to make some of my own. 
We have an investigator from Brazil right now who speaks Spanish 
and Portuguese.  She promised to teach us Portuguese if we teach 
her English. So I might come home having learned three languages!  
I also wanted to say thanks for all the times I felt like I messed up pretty 
bad and you always helped me know you still loved me. That I always 
had your support.  I have learned a lot out here but mostly I have learned 
that you guys were always right!  As much as I don't want to admit it it's 
true. Thanks for everything Dad.  I Love You!

                                               Good-bye President Wakolo & Family
Elder Merrill will miss these people

I asked Elder Merrill to write something 
about President Wakolo - this is what he said:

"No matter what you do, he will always look at you with more 
love than you can ever imagine.  He has always made me feel like I am 
enough.  And that is pretty amazing.  He has blessed my life forever."

Good-bye Elder Sweeten
Elder Merrill & Elder Sweeten
He will be missed!

Elders Merrill & Anaya, Hermanas Petty & Keller, Elders Spencer & Pickering
The last 6 weeks in Memphis with this Spanish District has been great!

Hanging out at the church in Memphis

Monday, June 12, 2017

Spur of the moment talk in Spanish

Hey guys!  This week was pretty average, nothing too amazing happened. 
Although church was pretty awesome yesterday.  I was the one translating 
in sacrament meeting for the people that were giving talks.  I learned that it 
is a whole lot easier to go from English to Spanish than it is from Spanish to 
English.  We sometimes have to translate for people who don't speak Spanish. 
Anyway, the people finished their talks early and the branch president turned 
to me and says, "Elder Merrill, can you give a talk to fill the time?" There was 
20 minutes left!  So I then gave a 20 minute talk in Spanish just on the fly!  It 
was actually a pretty awesome experience.  Everything to say just came to me!  
The theme for the day was pioneers so I talked about how we can be modern 
day pioneers by sharing the gospel.  I shared the story of Marriner Wood Merrill 
encountering Satan at the Logan Temple when he was the temple president.  I
bore testimony of how Satan will always try to stop us from sharing the gospel 
and helping the Lord's work progress.  After the meeting everyone told me it 
went really well and that it flowed pretty smoothly.  A few people came up to me 
and were like, "that guy's your Great-Grandpa?!  I have totally read that story 
before."  It was really cool and I am grateful for the spirit I felt in that meeting.  

Today we went disc golfing and mini-golfing for Elder Spencer's birthday.  It was 
fun as usual.  I love my district here in Memphis.  I am really going to miss Elder 
Spencer when he goes home next week.   Love you guys! 

Love Elder Merrill 

Elders Pickering & Elder Anaya, 
Hermana Petty & Hermana Keller 
Elder Merrill & Elder Spencer

Elder Spencer's mission funeral - he will complete his mission next week.

Final Zone meeting with President Wakolo
Benton Zone in Little Rock Arkansas
May 3, 2017

Elder Spencer's Birthday party