Saturday, August 31, 2013

Kamusta Everybody!
  This week has flown by! Time on your mission is weird, the days seem like they last a week and the weeks seem like they last a day.
 I have still been on splits this whole week because the Indian elders haven't received there visa's yet. My temporary companion, Elder Peck, is really nice and we get along well. There has been lots of flooding this week in the Philippines but my area hasn't been bad. It only flooded one day and was only up to our ankles.
 This past week we taught a lot of members of the ward and less actives. We received more referrals than I could have ever imagined so we and will go and contact them all this week.
 One funny thing that happened is that I decided we should go and meet with the Bishop to see what we can do to help the ward. We found out, unlike in America, that here there isn't much discretion about sharing information about people's problems and callings. Going into the meeting I just wanted to know what families we should visit but now I know what families to visit, who is having problems, who does a bad job at their calling, who is getting released soon. and who will be called soon. Much much more information than I needed or wanted to know but I think the bishop enjoyed sharing what was going on with the missionaries so we sat there and listened. 
  I also saw a really funny monkey that posed for the camera when I took his picture!
I hope everyone is doing great and i miss you all!
 Mahal Kita
    Elder Merrill

Monday, August 19, 2013

Flushing Money Down the Drain, "He said he is asleep", Bong and Coconuts!

Kamusta Everybody!

  This week has been all over the place. There has been a typhoon most of the week so it has been awhile since I have seen the sun. And I’ve been able to lead because we have been on splits!
 To start the week we got a huge water bill! It was 1200 pesos! (or a little over $20) that doesn't seem like much but usually it is 170 pesos (or $4). We tried to figure out if there was a leak somewhere but we couldn't find one. We eventually found the issue and it turns out my companion had adjusted the pump on the toilet and didn't realize that he made it so that it was flowing 24/7. I told him that he really brought new meaning to the term "flushing money down the drain" I thought it was funny but he didn't get it...

  I also have started to really understand Tagalog more. One thing that is funny about the language is that people don't realize that what they are saying is a blatant lie. For example when you are repeating something a person said like "he said he is busy" you use the word "dou". So when we go to appointments and a person goes to see if the investigator is home, they will often come back with an answer like "tulog dou" or in English "he said that he is sleeping", or wala dou " he said that he isn't here".... I always want to ask them "if he is asleep or isn't here, how did you talk to him?" But apparently that's rude so we just let them know we will try back later. 

 For most of the week we have been on splits with two elders from India who are waiting on their visas. And they don't speak any Tagalog. So I have been essentially the senior companion for the week. Heavenly Father has definitely helped me. It has been amazing. All of the people that we have talked to understand me and I understand them! I speak simply but it works. We have found several new investigators and taught quite a few lessons. We had a really great spur of the moment lesson with one of the less active members named Bong. He was sitting in a little hut on the road to get out of the rain so we decided to go visit him. His friend named Wilbert is an investigator and is interested but is really shy. We explained to Bong about how he would feel if he could baptize his friend and it got him really excited. He said that next week he will bring Wilbert and his whole family to church.

  It has been tough the past week to talk to people on the street though because there has been a typhoon. It hasn't stopped raining since Tuesday. Some of the smaller back roads are flooded and the gutters are overflowing, which is really nasty. There is trash and all sorts of nasty things all over the roads and grass. But this week I got to try some really good foods! Discovered that young coconut is really good! You go to these people on the street and buy a green coconut from them and they cut a piece off the top. You drink all the milk inside (which is really good) then when you are finished they cut it in half and cut a piece of the outside that you use as a scooper to dig out the meat. It’s really cheap and a neat all in one snack! 

  That’s about all for this week! I hope everyone is doing great! I miss you all!
   Mahal Kita 
      Elder Hayden Merrill 

P.S. Congratulations to my cousin Brock on getting married this week!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Fruits coming out of my eyeballs!

Kamusta Everybody!
  This past week has been great! We taught a few really good lessons and I have a few funny stories.
  We found one investigator who is great! His name is Roswell and we met him while he was playing basketball one day. He asked us if we had a Book of Mormon because the one he used to have he lost. We taught him a few lessons and he has been progressing really well. He reads an amazing amount every day, and during the last lesson he said that he was ready to go to church. He said "when I go to church, you will know that I really believe this stuff". I almost laughed because that is almost exactly what it teaches in Preach my Gospel. 
 We also have gone on exchanges a few times the past week because there are Elders whose companions have gone home that need somewhere to go while they wait for transfer day. There was one Elder from New Zealand who really helped me figure out how to study the language better. Next week we will have 2 elders from India stay with us for a few days while they wait for their visas. I am a little bit nervous because I have only been here a month and I will have to lead. The Indian elders also speak no Tagalog, so hopefully I can teach a majority of all the lessons coherently. We'll just have to see how it goes...
  I have also been learning that people here are very direct and don't really seem to think about what they say, but it’s kind of funny. I got a bit sunburned last Monday and my face was red. We got into a Jeepnee and right when I sat down the lady across from me said "why do you look like an apple?" She didn't mean to be rude; she just thought it was funny that I was so red. 
   Also this week we had a huge Gecko (Picture included!) in our apartment, usually the lizards a few inches long but this one was a good foot and a half! My companion hates lizards and when he saw it he screamed like a little girl! He made me chase the lizard out of the apartment while he waited upstairs. I needed Budgy here to chase it down.
   Answers to Questions: 
    I think that’s funny about the fair in Idaho Falls.  I haven't eaten any monkey and they definitely don’t sell them here on a stick for $2 but I have fruits coming out of my eyeballs. There is a lady in our ward who owns a farm. We went and helped her last week and she gave us a whole thing of bananas off of one of the trees.  (Picture included)!   
   Showering with the bucket is not very fun. It is cold and you have to keep your mouth closed while you wash your head. A sister 2 days ago got an amoebae that was very unpleasant. She is fine now but the doctors said she probably got it while showering. 
 Well that's about all for this week, I love and miss you all and hope everyone is doing great!
  Mahal Kita

     Elder Hayden Merrill

Monday, August 5, 2013

Spider Investigator!

Kamusta Everybody!
  This past week has been great! Time is really starting to fly by. There is this great family that we have been teaching named the Lastimosas. They have two kids and seem genuinely interested in our message. During one of our appointments we taught them the Plan of Salvation and I was supposed to teach the majority of the lesson. I was teaching about our life on earth when out of the corner of my eye, I saw something fall from the ceiling behind Brother Lastimosa. Then while my companion was teaching I saw what that something was… The BIGGEST spider I have ever seen in my whole life! And it was just kinda walking around in the back of the room.  I decided I probably couldn’t stop the lesson and get up and go and try to kill it or ask one of them to kill it so I just tried to ignore it.  After my companion finished teaching and it was my turn to teach again I had to look the investigators in the eye so I lost sight of the spider which meant it could be anywhere…like above me on the ceiling, or behind me on the couch! I was very happy when the lesson was over and I could go outside. The funny part was that afterwards my companion mentioned that I don't need to look up if I am trying to pray about what to say.... I was a little confused and he said he saw me looking up at the ceiling often. I laughed and explained I wasn't looking up to pray, I was checking for the spider!

  This week we also got to go on exchanges with the the district leader and I learned a whole lot about about Filipino culture and laws, in particular trespassing. There was a big area with lots of houses where we were tracking and lots of people outside.  There was big open gate on the street where we were walking and it seemed inviting, so I said to the DL, "Let’s go talk to these people!"  I walked in and suddenly everything and everyone stopped and looked at me... I could tell something was wrong but I was already invested and decided to talk to them anyway, I figured maybe they were just looking at me because I am white. I went to shake one of the dad’s hands and introduce myself when my companion ran up and apologized and told me we needed to leave. It turns out that the area is a called a compound or like a gated community in America. A compound is usually composed of extended families and it is very illegal to trespass there, even if the gate is open! The DL thought it was pretty funny and said that I would be safe from getting sued because they understood I didn't know but said it would be smart to not do it again.  

   On Thursday we also found a new investigator! We ran into him while he was working on his car and he said we could teach it him. It turns out that his wife is an inactive member and that he has had the discussions three times before. During the lesson he told us that he was ready for a change in his life and he felt that we were the elders to baptize him!! It was great experience and showed me that God really does prepare people and even if investigators don’t work out now they may later on down the road. 

  I hope you all have a great week!  Happy Birthday to my cousin Cole in Columbia and Congratulations to my cousin Megan who’s getting married this week!

Love you!
Elder Hayden Merrill

Philippines San  Pablo Mission
Brgy San Juan, Alaminos
4001 Laguna