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 

Monday, August 7, 2017

God has a plan for everyone!

Greetings from Memphis!  Missionary life is really going well
here.  It's crazy that you guys will start school in a couple 
weeks.  The kids here start school today.  

This week we finally had some good things start to happen. 
We were able to have a couple good lessons with Ricardo 
which was awesome.  He always asks us some really deep 
questions so that is always a good sign.  He definitely keeps 
us on our spiritual toes. 

We have also started to have routine lessons again with some 
previous investigators.  Their names are Evelia and Fernando.  
They progressed a lot when we were teaching them regularly. 
Then last transfer they moved and things got really crazy and 
we weren't able to teach them as much.  They have started to 
come to church again every week so that is really awesome.  
Yesterday we had a really powerful lesson with them about the 
plan of salvation and repentance.  We had a really wonderful 
discussion about the pre-existence which fascinated them.  We 
had a member there with us and he was such a champ.  We  
talked about the five steps of Christ's gospel which are 
-receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost &
-enduring to the end.  
After we shared these steps, the member bore a really powerful 
testimony of repentance and how we can always start over.  After 
that Evelia and Fernando opened up to us about why it's been so 
hard for us to meet with them and how they know they need to join 
this church and how they want to change.  The spirit in that room 
was so powerful.  Everyone was totally crying.  It felt like what I 
have imagined Relief Society to sometimes be - haha.  

It has been so awesome to finally start to see success in the area.  
It's hard when the work doesn't go just how you imagine it.  I have 
learned out here as a missionary that when I get down or frustrated 
that I can take it to the Lord.  I know I can take anything to the Lord.
God has a plan for everyone!  He has a plan for me - he has a plan 
for you.  He has a plan for everyone and everything.  

Today I went and got a haircut because next week is zone conference 
and I need to look my best.  My hair was getting pretty long because I 
haven't cut it in about 2 months.  We don't have a member in the area 
that cuts our hair so we have to go to a salon. I wish we had a member.  
After that we just kinda chilled at the church (not my favorite).  We also 
went to a Nike clearance store and I bought some golf pants for a killer 
deal so that was sweet!  I got a black for pair for $30 - originally $125 
so literally a steal.  They are the comfiest things that have ever touched 
my legs.  It barely feels like I am wearing pants - so blessed!  

As always - thanks for all your prayers and love and support.  I really 
hope everyone has an awesome week!  I love you all!

Love Elder Merrill


-English class in Memphis-
The Elders and Hermanas teach an English class 
every Tuesday and Thursday.  Elder Merrill loves it.  

There are cars here called Hoopdies.  
I have been trying to find a crazy one to take a picture of and 
send to you guys and I finally did.  They are pretty much olderish 
cars raised up and on massive rims.  This pink one was huge.  I think 
the car was like a little Nissan and it's now as tall as that man standing by it.  

We recently ate at a restaurant called the Commissary.  
Part of the movie The Firm was filmed here.  How cool is that?  
I also ate the best ribs of my life here - definitely fallen in love with Memphis BBQ!