Monday, October 28, 2013

A putiki in my pants

Kamusta Everybody! 

 This past week has been really good, and pretty eventful! We’ve been working with the members and have given a lot of good lessons.

 We’ve been visiting and spending a lot of time with a really great new member who was baptized a few months ago. He has so many questions because he is always reading from the scriptures and the church materials. For example he wants to know what the Brother of Jared's name is, why mountains are the temples in the Old Testament, what the Urim and Thumim looked like, and where are the three Nephites.. pretty deep stuff for a new member. With the help of the Spirit, we’ve been able to answer all of his questions and he always seems to have a firm understanding after we explain. 

 On Friday we had a Ward Missionary Family Home evening that was Halloween themed. It went really well and they all had a good time. I was in charge of coming up with the games. There aren't any pumpkins here in the Philippines so instead we used little squashes to have a decorating contest. All of the people there really liked the idea, I guess they had never done anything like it before. 

 The funniest/most memorable part of the week however happened yesterday. During sacrament meeting, while the bishop was giving a talk about being prepared for emergencies, my leg started to itch. I scratched it a bit assuming it was just a string in my pants but then a minute later I felt something again. So I scratched harder, thinking maybe there was a bug in my pant leg or something. It stopped for a minute but then started itching again so I hit my leg and rubbed it and then a little dismembered black wiggling tail fell out of the bottom of my pants!  I then realized that a putiki (a little lizard) had crawled up my pants. I must have made a gasping sound and then I started shaking my pant leg and kicked a little bit in my chair, and as I did a little tailless lizard flew out. A few of the members saw and started laughing (people here in the Philippines aren't peculiarly reverent, for example during this same meeting the bishops son was making a tower of hymn books on the steps to the podium, so laughing isn't unusual during a talk). I just hope the bishop didn't think that we where giggling about his talk and how we need to have lots of canned tuna ready in case we have to evacuate and can’t buy food...

 Well that’s about all for this week. I found out today that I will be training this next transfer! I am excited for the new challenge but at the same time nervous...I just hope my Tagalog is good enough. However, I am looking forward to being able to grow while teaching. I hope you all have a great week.

 Mahal Kita
   Elder Hayden Merrill

Monday, October 21, 2013

No Marlboro's Please!

Kamusta Everybody!
 This past week has been really good! We were able to teach a lot of lessons and  things are working really well with the ward. We even found out in district meeting last Wednesday that we actually have had the highest number of lessons in the mission for the past two weeks! We have lots of investigators who are doing really well. They read the Book of Mormon and a few even attended stake conference this past Sunday. The only trouble is that many of them need to be married before we can baptize them. In the Philippines it is really tough for people to be able to get married because they don't have their birth certificate. 

 My companion told me this past week that I have apparently been talking in my sleep pretty much every night since I’ve been out here. Recently though, I’ve been talking in Tagalog. I must be dreaming that I am teaching because my companion said that I have been bearing my testimony and then I have been  asking if anyone has any questions.  

 So I guess, my Tagalog must be getting better if I can speak it while I am asleep, but there is still room to improve. For example, this past week we were eating with our district after a meeting and so we went to the closest restaurant to the chapel and because some of us are American they decided to rack up the price. So it was really expensive and I wasn't in the mood to spend a lot of money for not very good food so I just bought a few hard boiled eggs. The problem is that I don't know what the Tagalog word is for hard boiled so when I went up to pay, the lady asked what I had and I said “three hard boiled eggs”. but in her mind she thought I had said "three Marlboro" (I suppose hard boiled and Marlboro sounds the same).  Long story short, as the rest of the missionaries walked up to the counter the lady was trying to hand me three cigarettes. I quickly clarified that cigarettes were not what I wanted and that I had said three eggs. I was super embarrassed and it took me a bit to explain to everyone how my order had gotten lost in translation. 

 We had zone interviews yesterday and a really great workshop about how to use the Book of Mormon better.  One thing that really stood out to me was that every goal that we have as missionaries during a lesson can be accomplished using the Book of Mormon. It is the most correct book in the world and if we read it’s pages, we will always learn from it. God knew what the world would be like today so he had his prophets 2000 years ago write a book of scripture that would be perfect to help us now. 
 I hope everyone has a great week and is doing really well. I heard a great quote this week that I really liked, "education means developing the mind, not stuffing the memory"

  Mahal Kita
    Elder Hayden Merrill

Monday, October 14, 2013

Picture of me and Linmark on his baptism day!


Kamusta Everybody,

 This past week has been good. We’ve taught a lot of lessons and the work here is progressing. We have been working with the ward missionaries and I have been amazed with how much they want to help. We always have at least one member with us every day, pretty much all day. Some of them, if they don't have school, will work with us from 12 to 9. We are trying to involve them more in the lessons because they are capable of much more than just bearing their testimony at the end of each lesson.
 This past week we got to watch general conference. It was absolutely amazing! It is wonderful that we have leaders on the earth who can directly tell us what God needs us to know.  They can tell us what we need to do to improve and how to deal with the challenges that we have, and the ones that are yet to come.
 Earlier today we got to have a zone p-day. We hiked up to a really pretty waterfall out in the mountains. It took a while to get there but it was well worth the walk! 
 Other than that not too much happened this past week. Time in the mission field is crazy. Weeks seem like days and if you have a good day it seems like a week. I have realized that the work in the mission field really becomes beneficial when you lose yourself. If you forget about the things that you want to do and just do what God wants you to do you will be successful and happy. I have come to understand that while teaching, if you can remove yourself from being the focus, then people really understand the gospel. If you ask the questions that the Holy Ghost tells you to ask, instead of the ones you think you should ask, then the teaching becomes easy. You teach exactly what they need, when they need it.
 I hope you all are doing great and have a wonderful week!

Mahal Kita

Elder Merrill

Monday, October 7, 2013

Out in the Boondocks

Kamusta Everybody
 This past week has been really good. I had my first baptism! Our converts name is Linmark. He is 14 years old and has a very strong testimony. I was expecting my companion to baptize him but when we asked who he wanted to do it he said that he wanted me to, it was a great experience. 
 I have gotten to know the area and the ward here a lot better. Most of the area is all mountains or in Tagalog bundok. I learned this past week that the term "out in the boondocks" comes from the Philippines. During WWII the natives would try and tell the Americans that the Japanese where out in the mountains. So the Americans would say to each other that they where going out to the boondocks. 
 For anyone who is familiar with how good I am at singing, here is a funny story for you (for those of you who don’t know my singing ability, I have none). Yesterday at church the youth were all practicing singing the Army of Helaman song for stake conference. They were having a little bit of trouble finding the right pitch so the choir director thought it would be a good idea to ask the American to show them how it sounds! And had it been any other American that might have been a good idea, unfortunately that American was me...  5 minutes, one red faced Elder Merrill, and several giggling young men later, the youth had a good idea of what a really bad sounding version of the song sounds like. 
 Well that is about all that has happened this week! I hope everyone is doing really well
   Mahal Kita
      Elder Merrill

Here is a picture of what it looks like here!