Saturday, June 29, 2013

June 29, 2013


I leave on Monday Morning! I've attached some pictures with my zone that's leaving, my teacher with myself and my companion, and several with my BYU buddies (Spencer, Josh, Aaron, Stephen, and Russell) and one with Elder Mamau (the elder I told you about from that small island in the South Pacific). This past week hasn't been too eventful, mostly just getting ready to leave. I’m really excited to be in Tokyo for a little while. With our two practice investigators this week we challenged and got them both to be baptized! It was really exciting and a good way to end the MTC experience.

Thank you for sending the picture of me at the broadcast. I really enjoyed participating in the choir and it was a great experience to be there.  We were also able to see many of the apostles which was exciting! All of the doors to the building require an ID to get in so when I saw Elder Christopherson walking up to the door, I jumped up and opened it from him and got to shake his hand which was cool; I also saw and waved to Elder Ballard and Anderson as they drove by. The announced technology changes are neat and I am curious to see how we’ll use them in my mission. The teachers here have said that everyone in the Philippines has smart phones, and a TV, even if they live in a hut. 

On Tuesday we got to listen to Janet Kapp Perry. She was the speaker for our devotional. Grandma Brock would have really liked it. She sang her family song for us and we got to be the first to see and sing her new rendition of the EFY Medley “As Sisters in Zion” and the “Army of Helaman”. It was a great experience. Her husband was also really funny. She was telling the story of how they met…..she was in the same music class at BYU with him, and she was getting ready for an instrument playing test and  he said to her " your lips look like they were made for something better than playing the clarinet."As she was telling the story he jumped up from his seat off the stand and kissed her. We all got a good laugh. Later on when she was singing the family song he got up and danced.

  Mahal Kita
    Elder Merrill

P.S.  Thank you Aunt Cindy for the rice krispie treats!! 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

June 23, 2013 - Singing in the Choir!

Elder Hayden Merrill singing with the missionary choir at the "Work of Salvation" broadcast on June 23, 2013. 

June 22, 2013

There are a few side notes from Mom written in red :) 

Kamusta mga Tayo, (Hello my family and friends)

     This week has been great! Not too much has happened but it was still really good, or  “sobrang mabuti” in Tagalog! We got our travel plans yesterday. I fly out of Salt Lake at 11:30, to Portland, then to Tokyo, then Manila! I will hopefully be able to call at every layover.  It’s crazy that it is actually happening and I am going to fly across the world! We are all excited to be in Tokyo for a bit, we have a 2 hour layover there.  With the flight time and the International Date Line we will get there 2 days after we leave, that's really weird to me.  Hayden didn't give us a specific day but he should fly to the Philippines sometime during the week of July 1st.
    Tagalog is coming along really well. We have finished the formal lessons and our teachers are teaching the conversational parts of the language so we can talk with personality. I am really happy because most of it makes pretty good sense. Some words are a little crazy though. Our teacher told us that on Star Wars the Ewoks (those little fuzzy brown people on Endor) speak a mix of Tagalog dialects! I thought that was really cool. She said that when they see C-3PO they say something like, "look at the shiny plant, it so beautiful". That will be the first movie I watch when I get back J

     On Tuesday we had a really good devotional about the power that we have as missionaries, and how we need to teach by the Spirit. I really enjoyed it right up until the last little bit. Right as the speaker was finishing up the Elder directly in front of me threw up all over kingdom come….It was filthy!  The scary part was that after he threw up he passed out. We woke him up and his companions walked him out. Luckily we were at the top so not many people saw. The worst part was the smell. We had to sit through a closing prayer, which seemed to last longer than temple dedication prayer, trying not to lose our cookies ourselves. I tried to hold my notebook up to my nose hoping the ink and pages might help. I feel bad for whoever had to clean it up, especially the steamed vegetables.... remember a few letters ago when I said they give us Cannon Center leftovers…well I'm pretty sure that I was right.

  There is a stomach bug going around the MTC, so I have been careful to keep my hands clean. Luckily there are lot of clear stuff ("clear stuff" is what our family calls hand sanitizer) dispensers everywhere, whoever thought of that stuff was super smart:)
   On a better note I am really excited to hear the Prophet speak tomorrow! It should be great, all of the mission presidents have been walking around today but I have yet to see any Apostles. The songs I’ll be singing with the choir are really good. Maybe I’ll be on camera!  We did see Hayden during the closing song of “Called to Serve” which was awesome!!! 

   A quote I read this week I really liked, it goes "talent is like oil, it’s discovered in unexpected places and in surprising quantities." I would challenge everyone to branch out a little bit, because you never know what you may be really good at.    
  That's great that Marlee passed the driving test, and about Kelson’s mission call. What is Paxon's address? I wanted to write him a letter or two. That’s a really funny story about the dog chasing the calf down the middle of Old State street; I wish I had been there to see it.

  I got both packages this week, the one with the hand grip and the one from Dear Elder. Thank you very much, they are both really great! I am already getting rock hard forearms, and the watermelon carmel corn was really good. I also liked the scripture in D&C…that line in my blessing stuck out to me as well.

  Aunt Becky sent me a huge thing of cookies the other day which I love. It was really nice of her!!

  I hope you all have a good week, and enjoy summer.

Ingat ( a form of goodbye) at Mahal Kita 

       Elder Hayden Merrill

Sunday, June 16, 2013

June 15, 2013

How is everyone? This week has flown by! Next week we host the new missionaries (show them where they need to go, and meet them when they are dropped off).  We are now the oldest district in our zone, it's crazy we have been here for 4 and 1/2 weeks already. Next weekend I should get my travel info.

Last Saturday after p-day was over we went to a weekly meeting we have called TRC. It’s where we teach a lesson to church members who speak Tagalog. It was a really great experience. Our member was a BYU student who just got his masters in social work and is looking for a job, his wife is also pregnant. He said that he was struggling a lot because it is getting to the time where he really needs to find work. We had a lesson on the fundamentals of the gospel to teach him, but the Spirit told me to just focus on faith. It was tough to try and convey my thoughts and feeling to him in Tagalog so I ended up saying a lot in English, just about how I know if he has the faith that God would guide him, he will find the right job for him. I had him read in 1st Nephi about when Nephi went to get the plates and went into Laban's house without any idea of what to do, but the Spirit guided him. I did say a lot in English but I didn't really care, it reinforced to me the idea that the Spirit is much more important than the language, and that the Holy Ghost is all that matters.
On Tuesday we went to a devotional in the Marriott center.  I guess that is the first time that’s ever happened. It was crazy to see all the missionaries walking; it reminded me of the 2000 stripling warriors. 

A quick funny story, during the first two weeks here we taught an "investigator" who was really just a teacher acting. This past week the teacher who had played the investigator walked into the class and said hello. It was funny to see him as a teacher instead of the non-member he played. We asked him if we had said anything funny or embarrassing in Tagalog. He laughed and said that I actually had. When we were teaching the law of chastity (the one lesson where you DON’T want to say the wrong thing) I had tried to ask him if he had a girlfriend. But I didn't know how to say girlfriend. So instead I thought I could just ask if he had a woman. Which sounded normal in my head "do you have a woman?" normal right? Well it turns out that when I asked him that it translated into "do you own a woman?"... something that a person might ask a pimp, nakakaawkward(awkward in Tagalog). We all got a good laugh, and now at least I know not to ask that in the Philippines. 

The more we learn about Tagalog the stranger it becomes. It’s a big mix of lots of languages. For example numbers….counting numbers 1,2,3 but in Tagalog it’s Isa, Dalawa, Tatlo.  Time is in usually in Spanish or English and dates or any number above 100 that isn't a multiple of 100 is in English!  So you would say " Noong Eighteen twenty buhay si Joseph Smith"  Joseph smith lived in 1820.

Mom and Dad - Happy Anniversary (last week)!  Marlee - I am glad you had a fun time at girls' camp!  Riley - Good job working out with weights at the Y!  Ady - Sounds like you are going to be an amazing gymnast!

Also, Congratulations to my cousin Brock for getting engaged and Happy 75th Birthday to Grandma Brock!

I miss you all!
            Mahal Elder Hayden Merrill

Elder Hayden Albert Merrill
MTC Mailbox #15
PHI-SAN 0703
2005 N. 900 E.

Provo, Utah  84604-1793

Sunday, June 9, 2013

June 8, 2013

Kamusta Everybody!
This past week has been great. Tagalog is coming along pretty well. I felt like I finally understood sentences, right up until they told us that we’ve only learned what we need to know to understand the basic structure, and that it really wouldn't actually be said that way.... but at least I can carry a short conversation! We began teaching two "investigators" this week, who are really just our teachers taking the roll of investigator.  It has been going well and I have learned that in most cases simple is always better. I think often times we focus on the unimportant stuff, like how many candles were on the candle stick in Solomon’s temple, and what that represents, when what we really need to focus on is the fundamentals; faith, repentance and enduring to the end.

Another thing that I have been thinking about with my studying this week is how our body's are influenced by the Spirit and just how much of a measurable physical effect the Spirit can have on us.  I gave a few powerful blessings this week and I noticed that after I gave them I felt more tired than I did before. Later reading about the Joseph Smith story, he says that after he had the first vision he had to regain his strength; many prophets after having visions were exhausted. Such as Lehi, after he saw all that he did he went and "dwelt in his tent" I think that might be scripture talk for "he took a nap". It made me think about how powerful the Spirit of the Holy Ghost is and the apparent effect that it has on us. It is truly a blessing that God allows us to be able to use this power to bless others, and that others can bless us.
At choir practice on Sunday I found out that the entire Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency will be coming later this month, June 23. (I secretly only joined choir because I hoped this would happen.  I had heard that the new mission presidents are trained by them, and I wanted a good seat in the Marriott center).

On Wednesday there were 940+ new missionaries that came! That is by far the MTC record! I saw quite a few of my friends, Aaron Peery, Stephen Chipman, and Russel Fitzpatrick. However now the cafeteria is a crazy house and you have to wait in line for 10 minutes to get the leftovers. I think prison may have better food, and more yard time J.

I have gotten to know one Elder from Kiralbas, a small island in the pacific. (I have no clue how to spell it, I didn’t even know it existed until he told me). I am amazed by how humble a guy he is. He told me that there are 47 people on his island, and that 5 of them are here. It really makes you appreciate the influence the gospel has on people’s lives. A good portion of his country’s population is gone to serve missions. Talking with him has also made me appreciate all that we have and how lucky we are to live in the United States.

Thanks very much for the package, it was great. I really like the watch and the cookies have been DELICIOUS! I also liked Budgy’s paw prints! I'm glad that everyone is enjoying summer and having a good time!

Thank you to Grandma Brock for the kind note! I hope all is well with you!
Megan! Congratulations!! I'm really happy for you! (Did the cookies work?)
It sounds like my cousin Cole is having great experiences!
I love the MTC, and while it seems like I will never actually leave here, I am enjoying every minute.
I miss you all! Ingat po! (Tagalog for later)

Elder Hayden Merrill

June 1, 2013


 It’s great to hear that everyone is doing so well! I'm glad that everyone had a good end of the school year. And I am really proud of Riley for getting the presidential award!
A lot has happened in the past week. Time here is weird, the day seems to last forever but at the end of the week it seems like time flew by. I got to meet my branch president, he is an interesting individual. He is exactly like the prison warden in Shawshank Redemption ( I asked the zone leader during church if he thought so too, he gasped and totally agreed). His name is President Anderson; he is a nice guy but he is very strict on a lot of seemingly trivial things. Such as tie bars, he doesn't let anyone wear them. I got up the first day of meetings to tell about myself and he walked up and took it off of my tie, then put it in my pocket. And said that we can’t wear them because he feels they are too distracting. I wasn't too embarrassed because he did the same too his new 2nd councilor.  I have also seen him pull missionaries hands out of their pockets, button their jackets and make them retie their ties. I understand that he wants us to look our best, but it’s a bit extreme. However, I have been doing my best to be exactly obedient and I am just going to wait to wear my tie bars till I am in the field.

       Another thing is that we are not allowed to chew gum, so it’s a good thing that I have 14 packs here with me to leave untouched.... please send a box of mints. The other day for breakfast there was the choice only between a pizza bagel or "eggs", that from my experience seem to be laced beans (if you know what I mean)…so in other words I went the whole morning with pizza breath. PLEASE SEND MINTS!

     I have met a lot of funny missionaries since being here. The elders in my district and zone are all nice, and pretty funny. There is one elder from New Zealand name Elder Kafusie. He thinks that all Americans "sound fruity".  When he heard me talk he asked if I was in the mafia. According to him, and a lot of other missionaries, I have an east coast accent? Now he calls me Scarface, whenever we see each other we say "hey how you doin?" and "forget about it".  I told him my slogan could be "bada bing bada boom, baptism" he liked that!  He also apparently hasn't had cinnamon toast crunch since he visited America when he was six, so since being here he has had two bowls every meal..he calls it his "bowl of happiness" (it sounds funnier when he says it in his accent).  My companion also taught me how Tongans call each other, they make a 'shhht' sound. I have since discovered that it is a lot of fun to walk around the MTC and make that sound. All the Tongans look up but they can’t figure out who made the noise; nobody expects it to be the white guy:)

 Tagalog is coming along pretty well. I can make sentences and can teach the first lesson in preach my gospel. I have been trying to read the Book of Mormon, and I think that is helping quite a bit. Some of the words are really strange though, and it seems like it takes a really long time to say anything.

The devotionals have been great that we have had so far, Elder Zwick of the 70 came and spoke on Tuesday and talked about how missionary work is like building a temple. Last Sunday the missionary director for the church got up to speak. He told us originally that he had planned on showing all of the home front Church videos, all of which he had directed.  But because we would be watching sister Monson's funeral, after he spoke he said the Holy Ghost told him not to show them. So he gave a 40 minute talk simply relying on the spirit. He even stopped for a minute, halfway through his talk, to write down a prompting. That was something that was really powerful for me.

     Because of devotionals, I have decided (for the one and only time in my life) that I am going to do choir! That's because the choir members get a reserved seat. The director is also very funny; he has a voice like Will Farrell. He told us the story about the man who wrote "Lead Kindly Light". He was a minister in America who was from England; he was very pride full and didn't attribute any of his things to God. However he became very ill and thought he was on his deathbed. On a ship back to England, where he thought he would die, the wind stopped. And he was stuck at sea for 6 days. During those days he humbled himself and saw the error in his ways, and wrote the song. I really liked that story.

   I miss you all! Kita Kits
                   - Elder Merrill

        Mom-  Thank you for your emails, and the quotes each day. Here is one "Darkness is not a thing, simply and absence of light, even the smallest light will always drive away the darkness"
        Dad-  Thank you for your email, and letter. The Resurrection is a very interested topic, I’ll look up Alma 40.
        Marlee- good job on your finals! Working hard and doing your best now will pay off in college, so good job!
        Riley- Great job with you medal! And my companion weighs a good 250 pounds, and unfortunately does sleep on the top bunk. He wanted to sleep there, and I had already put my stuff on the bottom one before I met him. SO if I get killed by a mattress and bed frame, you know what happened. Also thank you for your letter.  (Because of the movie the “RM”,  Riley had asked Hayden if his new companion weighted a buck 80 and if he was sleeping on the top bunk)
        Ady-  Good job getting citizen of the month! And I like your picture a lot!
        Budgy- Who’s a good dog!!!???


May 25, 2013

The MTC has been great so far, my companion is nice! His name is Elder Tauk'eyaho. He is Tongan, which means that I am now in the club that knows everyone here who is Tongan! However, that also means that we have to stop and talk to everyone who might be a little bit Tongan. The other elders in my district are also nice.

The first day you put your stuff away in the dorms and then walk over to your classroom where the teacher greets you in Tagalog. The teachers here only talk in Tagalog, it’s to help you learn the language. It was a bit overwhelming at fist but doesn’t seem as bad now that I get the gist of what they are saying.  So far I have learned quite a bit, my vocab doubles each day. It is crazy to think that I should soon be talking fluently!

The food here is pretty good, very similar to the cannon center at BYU. I actually think that they probably get all the stuff from the cannon center at BYU.

I have seen quite a few people that I know! A lot of my friends from school are here. I have seen about 10, including Sean Pinder.

Yesterday we taught our first investigator, in Tagolog. It was a new experience to say the least. Pasencha (spelling might be off) means sorry in Tagalog, that was the word we probably used the most. We taught the investigator about the book of Mormon and challenged him to read a few chapters. The whole time we were scrambling through our books trying to find first what he was saying to us, and then how to answer it. I am amazed that he wasn't laughing the entire time! Dear elder is a really good way to send mail; they deliver it the same day. One of the Elders in my districts Mom is well aware of this, he has gotten six letters so far; we all got a pretty good laugh about that. Apparently she started sending him letters three days before he even got here.

I miss and love you all! And I hope that everything is going well!

I may also send regular letters home throughout the week that way I don’t forget about anything.
Kita Kits(see you later),

Elder Hayden Merrill

May 22, 2013 - MTC Bound

Elder Hayden Merrill entered the Provo-MTC on May 22, 2013.  He flew from Boise to Salt Lake City and then his aunt Cindy drove him to the MTC.