Monday, September 30, 2013

Kamusta Everybody!

A lot has happened this past week! 

On Monday we went to the hospital to check up on my companion. He has an infection in his lungs but they gave him medicine and he will be just fine.

On Tuesday I found out that I was being transferred! It was a little bit unexpected because it doesn't feel like I've been in the area for that long. So between appointments I spent a lot of time saying goodbye to members and investigators. There are so many really nice people in the Alaminos ward so it was hard to say goodbye. The families that I had become close with were sad to see me go, but hopefully because the area is right by the mission home I’ll be able to see them again when I come for meetings. 

Thursday was transfer day, my new area is Lopez 4 and it is way out here in the boonies. It is close to the edge of the island and up in a big mountain. It is really pretty here and the people are all very nice. My first area was more of a city but out here it is mostly bamboo huts, rice fields and trees. My new companion is Elder Torculas. He goes home after this cycle. He seems like a good missionary and I think we can get much good done here. People have told me that he is a bit "trunky" or lazy though because he is going home soon. He also has a bit of a history of disobedience. President Peterson told me that he is my "special assignment" so, at our first planning session, I told Elder Torculas that we are going to be exactly obedient. He agreed to it and our goal is to help him have his last interview with President Peterson to be his best. So far things have gone pretty well. We have a baptism lined up for this week. A 14 year old boy named Linmark. He seems very sincere in his desire to be baptized and is a really good investigator, I'm excited for his baptism.

While I was at the mission home on Thursday waiting to get on the bus with the other elders headed to Lopez, one of the lady's in the ward, who I visited a lot because her whole family is inactive, pulled up on tricycle. She is about 60 years old and her husband and all of her kids won’t go to church. She is the headmaster of the school in town and is super busy but she took the time to pull up and handed me a really kind letter and some snacks for the bus. It was very simple but so sincere and very sweet of her to take the time to come and say goodbye. I was really touched and was sad to have to leave. I felt bad because she is honestly so busy that she doesn't even know what year it is.she dated the letter she wrote to me, Sept 26 1993 :)
I finally got your package!  Thanks so much!!!  All of the altoids and jolly ranchers are great!  The music is also really good, I have listened to it a lot.  The letter from Brock was also wonderful..I am sending him a letter as soon as I get a chance.

I miss eating lamb on Sunday’s!! The only meat that they have here has tons of fat on it and it’s not so good.  Pinoys (slang for Filipinos) love fat on their meat.  There is a college in my new area so because of the student population there are lots of little places to eat for really cheap.  The people make dishes and you can buy a plate and eat there.  So I am eating super cheap, healthy and good.  Plus, I don’t have to do any dishes :)  which is important because in my apartment we have water from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. and none at night! 

Well that's about all for this week! I hope everyone is doing well and has a great week! 

Mahal Kita,
  Elder Hayden Merrill

  Philippines San Pablo Mission
  Barangay San Juan, Alaminos
  4001 Laguna

What a lot of my new area looks like

My District

Me and Elder Peck (my "Indian companion"...he is waiting for his visa to India) 
with Brother Silos (the ward mission leader) and his wife, Sister Silos.

Sister Silos (a.k.a. the "bag lady" because she makes really cool bags) and her family.  Sister Silos said that I can be her adopted grandson; she wanted me to let Mom know that I'll be well taken care of in the Philippines and that you don't have to worry about me :) 

Nanny Baliwas and Sister Rachel

What people look like after taking pictures in the sun!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Kamusta Everybody

This week has been a little bit crazy. There has been a typhoon here and my companion has been sick. But its still been a good week!

On Tuesday and Wednesday my companion felt a little bit sick so we stayed in the apartment. Then on Sunday we were at a lunch appointment and he threw up blood. We had to rush him to the hospital. It all happened really fast but he is ok now and but we are going back to the hospital later today to find out what exactly is wrong.

Last week we also had zone conference which was really good. I learned a lot about the Atonement and how it applies to all of our lives. Several of the missionaries that are going home got the chance to bear their testimonies and it was a very spiritual experience.

I was also able to learn how to cook some Philippine foods and they actually tasted pretty good. I brought some of the extra pancit, that I made, to a members house and they couldn’t believe that I had made it!

Well that is about all, I know this letter is super short and I am sorry. I had to spend most of my time sending pictures this week but next week will be longer! I miss everyone and hope that you all have a good week!

Mahal Kita

Elder Merrill

Monday, September 16, 2013

Witch Doctor

Kamusta Everybody,
 This past week has gone really well! We’ve had some of really good lessons with investigators. One lady named sister Wilma is amazing. She been reading the Book of Mormon and understands everything she reads. She wants us to teach her every day.  She also has no word of wisdom issues, she doesn't even drink coffee! 
 There is another family we are teaching the Layrente's  who are really interested in our message. They all came to church and said they had a great experience. The crazy thing is that the father is 60, the wife is 38, and then their kids are 21,19,12,6, and 2... but they want to get baptized so I suppose huge age gaps don't matter!  
  We went to contact a referral we had received, from a member, the other day and so once we found him, we taught a short lesson. At first it seemed like it was going well but about halfway through the lesson the old man we were teaching started to tell us really weird stories about visions he had had, and that while he prays he floats across the world.  My companion got really anxious and said that we had to go but asked the guy if he would pray before we left. The odd thing was that the old man prayed in Latin. After he finished my companion practically ran out of the man’s porch and yard.  When we got outside he explained that in the Philippines witch doctors use Latin and that that guy was a member of a really weird cult. It was definitely a different lesson. Now we just have to tell the member that he sent us to witch doctors house.... 
 Earlier today we had zone P-day and went to this neat restaurant called Isdas, it was amazing. There were huge statues all over the place that we took lots of funny pictures by them. There is a gorilla that is 50ft tall! I’ll have to send pictures in my next email because the computer I am using today is super slow. 
 That about all for this week! 

 Mahal Kita
   Elder Merrill  

Monday, September 9, 2013

If You're Happy and You Know It :)

Kamusta Everybody!
  This past week has been really good. I have some funny stories and we got to teach a few really good lessons. 

  It was tough at the beginning of the week because one of our progressing investigator found a job in Qatar. He got the job on Tuesday and left on Thursday for 5 years. I was super disappointed but then realized that everyone is on their own timing and maybe Heavenly Father put him in my path so that he can hear some of the Gospel now and be ready for baptism some day down the road. 

  We have also spent a lot of time working and visiting some of the members in the ward. We have reactivated 2 families and have visited many more. I have been trying to put the Family Proclamation in every part member home and have been giving the Book of Mormon Story Book to the families who have kids. I have also learned that a lot of the members know a little bit of English but want to learn more so I have been trying to set up with the Bishop an English class that we will have every Saturday.  This past week I also met one of the councilors for Alaminos, Brother Abu. He spoke perfect English and also was pretty funny. He took a picture with us so hopefully we don't end up in some campaign poster in a few years...

 Last Monday after I emailed we hopped on a jeepnee to head to the store where we get our groceries. The driver insisted on filling the cab so there was about 30 people in a jeepnee made for 20. We were packed in so tight that nobody could really move. Then the driver turned on the music and the song playing just happened to be.. “If You’re Happy and You Know It”... it was really random but also pretty funny and ironic because everyone was visibly irritated and nobody was happy, and they knew it. Even if they were happy we were all to squished to clap our hands! It was funnier in the moment, but I thought you all might like to hear about it.

 On Saturday we went and gave service to the Silos Family in our ward. We painted their house and they wanted us to move some piles of dirt into bags. The problem was that when we started shoveling the dirt 3 queen fire ants came out of the pile. Not thinking I squished them and kept going. Then all of the sudden out of the pile, (which turned out to be a huge fire ant hill) came a billion angry ants. They crawled up my shoes, into my sock and up my pants.. I literally had ants in my pants. So the Silos family and all of their neighbors watched as the crazy American danced around smacking his legs and kicking his shoes off trying to kill the fire ants.They all thought it was a riot,and laughed for while then finally someone got some kerosene so I could light the ant hill on fire. 

 Well that's about all for this week, I miss you all. 
   Mahal Kita
     Elder Hayden Merrill

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Kamusta Everybody! 
 This past week hasn't had too much happen because my companion has been sick.  But it did finally stop raining!! 
My temporary companion and I have been doing pretty well as far a work goes. We have gotten a lot of referrals and so we've found several really great investigators.  There is one guy named Jun who is really progressing. He has a strong testimony and teaching lessons to him is great, he asks the perfect questions. His family is Catholic but he says that he just wants to do what God wants; and he feels that God wants him to join our church. 
 I also found out this week that in the Philippines Christmas starts in September.... which is insane. I used to complain in America when they would put up decorations after Halloween.  But on the bright side hopefully the members will invite us to Christmas dinners!
 Well that's about all for this week! Next week I'll write more! 
  Mahal Kita
   Elder Merrill