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)

Monday, November 27, 2017

Grateful - Thankful - Blessed

Hey guys!  Glad to hear your Thanksgiving was nice and relaxing.  
Our Thanksgiving here in Monticello was awesome.  We went and 
played basketball with the family before we ate.  They cooked us 
brisket and it was amazing.  It was definitely different than any other
BBQ I've had out here.  It had a little more spice to it and wasn't as 
sweet but it was really good.  We had a really good week. We made 
it out to Warren on Wednesday and taught a couple cool lessons.  

I have felt the spirit a lot this week.  As missionaries we have asked
people what they are thankful for when we have talked to them this
week.  This has also given me the opportunity to think about what I 
am truly thankful for.  Definitely out here on my mission I have been 
so thankful for all that you guys do for me.  It would be much harder 
to serve without the support of my family and friends.  So thank you 
so much for everything you do for me.  I’m also super thankful for all 
the many amazing church members I have been able to meet here, 
both in this area and others I have served in.  I have met so many
amazing people that I will never forget.  I’m so thankful for this gospel
and for the Book of Mormon.  I testify that it is true and that is will
bless your life if you read it everyday.  

This week is the last week of this transfer.  We are looking to finish 
strong as a companionship here in Monticello.  It has been a good
transfer and I am so grateful for it.  I know I am supposed to be here 
at this time.  On Thursday Lynn G.Robbins is coming to visit so that 
will be awesome.  I always look forward to being taught the gospel by
other leaders.  I have learned so much serving my Savior and am truly 
grateful for all He has blessed me with.  I am so grateful to wear my 
missionary badge that bears my Saviors name.  I know He loves me -
and I know He loves each of you.  And I Love you guys! 

Love Elder Merrill
Happy Holidays Everyone!

The District!

Monday, November 20, 2017

This week in Monticello...

Hey guys!  This week in Monticello was good.  It was a 
week where nothing really too exciting happened but it 
was a good week.  My wrist feels better everyday. I just 
wear my brace now when we are riding bikes.   

Tuesday was just a normal day.  We just biked around 
Monticello and taught a couple lessons.  

Wednesday we went back to the little town Warren. That 
was really fun.  We were able to talk to some cool people 
and also provide some service for a member.  

Thursday was another normal day around Monticello.  

Friday I’m pretty sure was just another normal day. I don’t 
really remember anything much happening.  

Saturday was cool!  We went back to the town Hermitage. 
This is the place that I told you about where people there 
have had the feeling that there will be a Spanish Branch 
there soon.  We helped the member there install a shower. 
Elder Toomer and I got to crawl underneath the house and 
do some plumbing.  That was pretty awesome - ha ha!  We 
are really learning how to do all kinds of stuff out here in the
Arkansas Little Rock Mission!    

Sunday we were able to watch the Face-to-Face broadcast.  
We saw our neighbor Ray there so that was cool!  

Sorry there's nothing really exciting to tell you this week.  We 
went bowling today for P-day.  Tonight we have been invited 
to eat dinner with a family here.  They are going to cook us 
some Texas BBQ!  Yum!  

Love you guys!  The Church is true!

Love Elder Merrill

Monday, November 13, 2017

An amazing blessing & sweet service opportunity

Hey guys!  I had an awesome week here in Monticello!   My wrist 
is doing great. I just wear the brace while we are out and about and 
then usually take it off in the apartment to get some movement and 
strength back into it.  So far it seems to be working. I figure it needs 
about one more week and it should almost be back to normal. It has 
been amazing to be able to shower normal again. 

Last week P-day was awesome.  We went to our investigator Keith’s 
house and hung out for half the day.  We played a few games of horse
shoes and he smoked some chicken for us to eat.  It was amazing!  
Then we fished on his pond for about an hour until it got dark.  Elder 
Padilla was the only one who caught a fish.  After fishing we had an 
amazing lesson with him.  He has many views on a lot of deep doctrine 
that lines up almost exactly as our church.  He is convinced that we are 
here on Earth to develop our soul and not our body.  We told him he was 
exactly right.  That is part of the plan.  He challenged us to find some 
scriptures backing this up so that will be a fun scriptural treasure hunt.  
We are going to see him again tomorrow.  We have prayed together 
that everything will go well and we will have the spirit with us when we
teach him.  

Tuesday was a pretty standard missionary day.  We biked around town 
most of the day looking for new people to teach.  Wednesday was about 
the same.  We had a really good visit with one of our home teaching 
families.  We spent about an hour and a half there with them and they 
shared their whole story with us.  They still have strong testimonies but 
were offended at church so now they don’t really feel welcome.  It is 
always so sad to see this because it usually flies both ways.  It's usually 
hard to know what the real story because each side of the story is different.  
Hopefully we can help their family return to church soon.  

Thursday was awesome.  We had Zone Conference in Little Rock so I got 
to go see Elder Giles.  I really enjoyed the conference.  President Hansen 
focused the whole day on the Book of Mormon and the new Preach My 
Gospel chapter we received not too long ago.  He also really emphasized 
electronic scripture study.  He said he was encouraged by an Apostle to 
teach us this.  After he taught us - he encouraged us to do so.  And let 
me tell you, my scripture study has improved tenfold!  Now every scripture 
that speaks to me I tag it with everything it can relate it to.  I add a note.  I 
try to link it to other similar scriptures as well.  It has truly changed my entire 
scripture study.  It really has been an amazing blessing!  

Friday was super sweet.  We went to the Elders Quorum President's house 
and built a deck for him.  He supplied the wood and instructed us how to do 
it.  We literally built the whole thing by ourselves from scratch.  He watched 
of course to make sure we did it right but it was a really super sweet service 
opportunity.  They also fed us roast ham after so that was amazing.  

This past week we had an amazing lesson with the baseball guy I told you 
about.  He has been an investigator for about six years.  His wife is a super 
strong member, he has just been struggling with some doubts.  We went over 
and were able to clear up a lot of his doubts about the Book of Mormon and 
Joseph Smith.  It got to the point that at the end of the lesson he basically said 
he just needs to decide when he is going to get baptized.  I feel that this day 
for him will be soon.  

Saturday was just another Saturday but we had a wonderful Sunday.  W
had a potluck dinner right after church with everybody.  There was a lot of 
good food and it was a great opportunity to get to know the members.  

This morning we got all of our cleaning and shopping done and then went 
and played tennis for about two hours.  There is a tennis court right by our 
house.  After we are done emailing we are going bowling with the sisters so 
that will be fun.  I’m getting ready to beat everyone left handed again.  
I hope you all have an awesome week.  I love you all so much!   

Love Elder Merrill
Elder Padilla, Elder Merrill & Elder Toomer

SPAM anyone?