Monday, November 24, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Kamusta Tropa Ko!
 Ang init dine sa Batangas eh. This past week has been really good! My old companion Elder Moleworth was transferred and I got a new companion, Elder Poblete.  Elder Poblete is from Cebu but he speaks fluent English and is very Americanized. Cebu daw (he said) has a lot of foreigners. He is the first companion I’ve had who also loves jelly beans so I think we are are going to get along great!
 This week we had stake conference and theme was “Strengthening Families”. I really liked the story that one of the speakers shared, she told a story of an anthropologist in Africa who wanted to observe how little children there played so he set up a game. He bought a bunch of candy and put it in a basket at the base of a tree and told the children that they were to form a circle around the tree and stand 100 meters away.  Then when he said “go, they could run to the tree and the first one there would win all of the candy. However, when he said “go”, instead of running the children held hands and walked to the tree together, so there was no winner or loser, and they could all share the candy. She said how when we are that unified in our family, and there is no competition, we will truly be happy. 
 I hope everyone has a great week and a Happy Thanksgiving!

Elder Merrill

Monday, November 17, 2014

Opportunities to Teach

Kamusta Everybody!
This past few week has gone really well! We’ve been seeing a lot of success and surprise blessings. I am realizing how important it is to recognize every opportunity to teach.  Recently, we’ve been able to share a few messages with members and less actives. One of the best lessons was with a Sister Mae.  She has two sisters, one is a very active member and the other is not yet a member.  However Sister Mae and her dad are members but less active.  We had previously been focusing on the sister who isn’t a member but this past week, that sister wasn’t home so we shared the message with Sister Mae instead. She was really receptive and said how she had been waiting for a push to get active again. It made me realize how there are usually people around us that need a little help but sometimes we don't realize it. 
 On Saturday, our recent convert, Grace, had her 21st birthday.  Her family lives really far away and so she was feeling sad when she told us she didn’t have any plans for her birthday. In the Philippines, a girl’s 21st birthday is usually a big occasion. We set up an appointment on Saturday, to teach her, and so she thought we had forgotten it was her birthday, but we’d actually planned a surprise party with the other SA in the ward. When we got to the house my companion and I went in, like we were going to teach, and then the SA’s knocked on the door. Grace was so surprised she even cried! She said she was really happy she had a family here in the church and it was the best birthday she’s had. 
 I hope everyone has a great week! Here is something one of the members, Sister Anne, said that I really liked: 
“Other churches change for you, but here we have to change for the church and for God"


   Elder Merrill

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Nov. 3, 2014

Kamusta  Everybody,
 This past week has been great! We had several uplifting meetings. The first was on Tuesday when Elder Robbins, on of the presidents of the 70, came and spoke to us. He talked about the companionship doctrines of agency, responsibility and control. He had us help him make a list of excuses that people make, for example blame, self justification, self pity, rationalization etc.. He then explained how when we use any of these excuses to try and avoid 100% responsibility that we give up control over our lives. He used the example of Laman and Lemuel in the Book of Mormon. They repeatedly used these excuses and eventually Satan had complete control of their lives. Essentially when we refuse to make excuses and accept full responsibility for our lives we will be in complete control of ourselves. 
  On Sunday night we were also able to watch a broadcast given by Elder Oaks. He was in Manila and addressed all of the Philippines. His talk was really good. It was interesting because he quoted heavily from a talk he gave 10 years ago when he was the area president of the Philippines. And all of the things he said back then are still very applicable today. For example daily scripture study, paying tithing and giving up cultural practices that aren't in harmony with the gospel. It made me realize that God won’t give us much new revelation until we do things what he has already said. 
I hope everyone has a great week!

   Elder Merrill