Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dancing in the Rain

Kamusta Everybody!

  This past week has been really good! We’ve been super busy but that is a good thing! We taught a ton of lessons and have baptisms lined up every week for the next month!
  One of the great people we have been teaching is brother Andy. He is the father of Linmark (my convert here). He just got back from Manila and he is amazing. We taught him lesson one an Wednesday, and he said he will become a member, "where my sons are there I want to be too" is what he said. Then on Thursday he had read all the way to 1 Nephi 4, and the Plan of Salvation Pamphlet and prayed and knows the message is true. When we got there he was really studying the scriptures. He had a notebook out, a highlighter and a small New testament. Then on Friday he read to chapter 10 and the lesson 3 pamphlet and asked me is I had a bible he could have so he can use all of the cross references! I was amazed! He has been listening to us for less than a week and is already a gospel scholar. I was also really happy at church because all of our investigators attended and some of their families! We should even have a baptism this Saturday!
 Other than that not much too exciting has happened! Just long days and good memories. 
 The one funny story that I have is that on Saturday we finished teaching one of the investigator at the church and one of the young women had to go home but didn't want to go by herself because it was dark and she lives up the mountain. So we along with our investigator Joey walked her home. It had been raining all that day so it was super muddy! Ankle deep, plus it was really dark and we couldn't see. We got her home ok but then on the way back I slipped and went for a little slip and slide down the mountain... I was covered in mud but we just laughed about it and we went home. The problem was that on the way home I remembered that the water district was doing "work" and we hadn't had running water all day. We had showered that morning at the ZLs. So when I got home there still wasn't water. Heavenly Father answers our prayers and right when we got home it started to pour rain. I just hope that our neighbors didn't see the American missionary dancing around in the rain trying to clean himself off while wearing slacks and a white shirt... Luckily on Sunday the water came back on. 
 Well yun lang (that’s all) for this week! I hope everyone is doing great and you have a good Thanksgiving! 

 Elder Hayden Merrill

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Blood in the Bigas

Kamusta Everybody,

 This past week has been really busy! We’ve had a lot of lessons and found some really good investigators. I also have some pretty good stories!
 To start off the week, on Tuesday we did service at a member’s home. They have a big rice field behind there house (or bigas in Tagalog). We went there to help them harvest the rice.  To harvest you have to use a little bent knife to cut the rice stalks and then later on you sort it. Before we started all of the people told me to be careful because I might cut myself.  I told them not to worry and that I would be totally fine and that I have used sharp things lots of times before and that just because I am an American, I didn’t need any special attention. Well, I was fine right up until literally the 2nd to last stalk of rice and that’s when I cut my little finger open. I was really embarrassed and tried to hide my hand in my shorts pocket until I could go and wash it off, but then they noticed I was bleeding everywhere so we cleaned it up and then I glued it up when I got home (thank you dad for thinking to put derma bond in my first aid kit!!). So the only thing that was really hurt was my pride... 

  We also found a lot of really good new investigators this week. There are two youth ward missionaries and we sometimes teach investigators at their house. Their mom isn't a member and this past week I noticed she was reading the Book of Mormon. We offered to teach her and had a really good lesson. I think that maybe now it’s her time to accept the gospel and I am really excited to teach her. We’ve also gotten several referrals from the some of the less actives in the ward. They have been inviting their friends to family home evenings and have been attending church themselves.

 Training Elder Tagiuam has been going well. I have learned a lot about patience and also a little bit about what it might be like to be a parent. There is so much to take care of and worry about! You want them to succeed and learn things for themselves but then you also have to correct them and fix problems for them and you are only doing it for their own good but then you feel like the bad guy when they get upset because they don't fully understand a rule or why we don't loan members money or can’t teach if there isn't a man in the home... So kids listen to your parents, and parents don't worry….they will understand when they become trainers on their missions.

 I hope everyone has a great week. I miss you all.
 here is a Filipino proverb
"be ye as the rice stalk. The more grain it bears, the lower i bows."
 Mahal Kita

   Elder Merrill 

Monday, November 11, 2013

I am o.k.!

Kamusta Everybody!
 First, I want everyone to know (especially my mom) that I am perfectly ok. The typhoon hit a little ways south of me and we only got some heavy rain here.There wasn't any destruction or problems, just no power for a little while. We were still even able to work! We got 5 lessons in and it was a good day. (I did however get soaked on the way back from our 1st appointment by a semi truck driving though a puddle while I was one the back of a tricycle, the driver and I decided to laugh though instead of getting upset) 
 The past week has been really eventful. The trip down to the mission home with Elder Johnson on Wednesday was pretty fun. We got to visit one of his old areas where lots of people there speak sign language. They taught me how to say my name and they were all really nice. We also got to go the SM (kind of like a huge mall) and found Tostitos there! We were both really happy because we haven't seen any thing like them our whole missions. 
 My trainees name is Elder Taguiam. And he is great! He is very humble and is trying his best everyday. He speaks a little bit of English but we have been getting by.  It is kind of stressful to have to teach him everything about missionary work but so far it has been going really well. I have been striving my best to do all that I can to help him. I have realized that when we try to do our very best God gives us higher mountains to climb. Our first day of work together there was the Typhoon. But we where still able to teach lots of great lessons. God will give us only what we can handle. As our faith grows the trails seem to get more challenging but then it grows even more. 
 I hope you are all doing really well and have a great week! Pray for the people affected by the typhoon. I know that through our prayers they will be able to rebuild and become even stronger, many more may even accept the gospel. 
 Mahal Kita

   Elder Merrill

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Typhoon Update and Humanitarian Needs...

Dear Parents,
The typhoon is passing beyond the western borders of the Philippines.  We are still getting rain and winds in our mission areas but all missionaries remain  safe and accounted for. We have received several offers of  parents wanting to send supplies to the people hardest hit.  President Peterson made a call to President Ardern of the Area Presidency regarding this.  President Ardern advised those wishing to help should make a generous contribution to the humanitarian fund on their tithing slips.  This fund is what the local leaders draw from to assist those in need to get the things they have urgent need of.  We thank you so very much for your prayers, for your generosity and for your willingness to help the Philippine people.  We know the Lord has watched over and protected the missionaries here in San Pablo Mission. Please continue to pray for those in areas south of us who were hardest hit with the effects of the typhoon.
Kindest regards,
Sister Hansen, Mission Secretary          Philippines San Pablo Mission

Typhoon Information from Mission Office

Dear Parent,
We wanted to let you know that as of Friday, November 8, 2013 6:30 PM Philippine time, your missionary is safe and accounted for.  We know you are concerned about the typhoon.  The eye of the storm is south of us but because it is so large, we are feeling the effects of heavy rains and strong winds.  All missionaries have been prepared with adequate food supplies, water, and candles to last through the storm.  They have likewise been instructed to remain in their apartments until the storm has passed.  We would welcome your prayers in behalf of all the missionaries in the Philippines.  We will update you in the morning.
Kindest regards,
Sister Hansen, Mission Secretary          Philippines San Pablo Mission

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Playing Basketball with the President

Kamusta Everybody!
 This past week has been good! It been a little bit crazy but good all the same. I started out the week by going on exchanges with Elder Harding. 
 On Thursday I traveled up to San Pablo to attend the trainers meeting.  I realized, on the 6 hour bus ride, just how far out here in the boonies I really am! It turns out that I am closer to the Naga Mission home that to the San Pablo one. I slept over at one of the Elders apartments for the night and then the next morning we called the President and played basketball with him. He played for BYU his freshman year and is really good so he obviously kicked our butts in a game of around the world. After basketball we got to eat cold cereal in the mission home (it may not sound exciting but it is the first cereal and real milk I’ve seen since I’ve been here) and then to make the morning perfect we got to take a hot shower!.
 The training meeting itself was very good. I am really humbled by the responsibility to be a trainer. I am going to need a lot of help from the spirit and need to study better, especially Preach my Gospel. After the training meeting I got on the bus to head back to the edge of the world. 
 On Saturday morning Elder Torculas (my companion) headed home so now I am working with the ZL, whose companion also headed home. On Sunday we got to teach a really powerful lesson to one of the recent converts in my area, Brother Fernando (he is the one who asks the really good questions). He has been wanting a Triple Combination really bad. He has read the Book of Mormon twice already and said he is yearning for more. When we gave him the triple I bought for him he was so happy. He cried and gave us both hugs. It was a really amazing experience. We explained to him about the Doctrine and Covenants and how to use the bible dictionary. He was so excited and said he couldn't wait to read it. His enthusiasm makes me appreciate the scriptures more. I was also really touched by what he said…. he told us that we should be so grateful for how lucky we were to have been born in the church and that we have had the scriptures our whole lives. 
 Well I hope you all have a great week! Always remember that when things get tough, look up. not down.
  Mahal Kita
    Elder Hayden Merrill

P.S.  I've attached a picture of what it looks like here...beautiful!