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