Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sammy's letter home, July 27, 2013 - good story of the power of prayer

Mom and Dad,

 I don't really have that much to say that I didn't already say in the email.
Me, Ackley (from Hawaii) Tu'itutou (from Australia), and elder Luke stayed up talking and telling stories last night.  Luke told us a story that happened to one of  his church leaders on his mission.
There was a bishop on one of the outer Samoan islands that let the church tear down his house to build a chapel on his land.  The local chiefs came up to him and set a date where if the church wasn't torn down by then, they would tie him to a cross and burn him alive.  The date came and the man refused to tear down the church.  He said he would rather die bearing witness of and pleasing his Lord, than live and reject Him.  The chiefs came, took the man, and brought him to the top of the hill.  He said only "at least I get to enter the presence of my god on a sunny day."  As he was raised up on the cross, he was surrounded by all the saints and the pair of missionaries, all kneeling and praying for his deliverance.  Luke's leader said he had never prayed harder in his life.  As they set the brush around the bottom of the cross on fire, a giant rainstorm came out of nowhere.  Right as the flames were about to touch him, they were put out by the tremendous downpour of rain.  It testified to me of the power of prayer  He also said after that, they had several hundred baptisms due to this miracle.
I love and miss you guys so much, but at the same time I've never been happier.  Just know that I'm doing great and don't worry about me.
Love, your son,
Elder Sammy Merrill

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Letter #4 - July 25, 2013

Iakwe in raellep! Sorry I didn't write you last week, I was super busy getting everything done.
As for my companion, we're getting along a lot better now. Our teachers have commented on how much our companionship unity has improved. Our lessons have improved drastically, and ever since I've fasted, everything that bugged me before I am now able to push aside.
We have 17 missionaries in our district now. me and my companion going to Hawaii, Elder Ackley(from hawaii) and his comp going to Iowa, 2 to Oklahoma City, 1 to Spokanne Washington, and the rest to the Marshalls. our branch is our Marshallese district, two Samoan districts, and one Kiribati district. Everyone's super chill and easygoing. Our branch president has a glass eye, but he's a nice guy. His two counselors take turns falling asleep during each of our sunday meetings. Our zone leader is Kuresa, the backup QB for BYU.

An elder from New Zealand in my zone just taught us how to play coin rugby. It's basically the paper football game with a quarter. It was a really great way to pass the time during laundry cause it gets crazy boring.

We have this thing called TRC where we'll have either returned missionaries that speak the language, or native speakers come in and we teach lessons to them. They're not pretending to be an investigator so it's really centered around getting to know them and teaching a person not a lesson. My comp and I had an elder that just got back from Hawaii. He told us that he was so excited for us and that it was honestly the best mission in the world. Since we are the first missionaries going to Hawaii called to speak Marshallese he told us we might be teaching only in Marshallese. He told us how he got his call to Hawaii speaking english, then the night he got to the mission home, his mission president told him he was going to be learning Marshallese.

During our tuesday devotional the speaker talked about how, as missionaries, we needed to not contend about the Lord, but to contend for the Lord, and to never give up. He said "the only way to get the best of an argument, is to avoid it".  Then he told a story about how a trainer that decided to follow the mission rules and tract for just 30 extra minutes before returning home changed one young elder's mission. The missionary later wrote his trainer a letter and expressed his gratitude for setting such a great example. He said that principle that he instilled in that young missionary of enduring to the end had a great impact on this young elder. In the letter he said that his trainer could add him to his convert column. In our district meeting after I bore testimony of how important it was for us to become converted to Christ on our missions. That through inviting others to come unto Him, we grow closer to Him ourselves. Above all else I want to come closer to my Savior by the end of my mission. I want to truly come to know him and stand as a witness of him at all times, and in all things, and in all places.

I was hesitant to tell this story so don't let it freak you out, but here goes. Last week, one of my good friends in my branch, Elder Luke, suddenly woke up in the middle of the night. In the corner, at the foot of his bed, he saw the shadow of a man, stooped over and holding his legs. He tried to move, but couldn't. So he tried to call out to his companion for help, and couldn't speak. He sat there unable to move as the figure slowly moved towards his face. Suddenly he heard a thud and was able to snap out of it and grab his flashlight, and when he shined the light, the figure disappeared. (Side note) A minute before he woke up, his companion also woke up and had the impression to go look for something on the other side of the room. He realized while he was over there that he had no clue what he was looking for, so he went back to his bed. However, as he was looking, he bumped something, the same bumping noise that snapped Luke out of whatever was happening.

So that day we were talking about similar stories that other missionaries in our district had of being bound(which we probably shouldn't have been doing in the first place, but who doesn't love a good ghost story) So as we went to bed I had a bad feeling and those thoughts lingered with me. I had a dream that I was standing over my head while I was sleeping, and I could see someone standing on the side of the bed lurking over me. I could see myself trying to move and call out for help, but I was bound. I woke up from my dream and still had that same bad feeling. I curled up in a ball, closed my eyes as tight as I could, and started to pray. I had that weird feeling where you know someone was watching you. I knew that if I opened my eyes I would see someone or something standing over me. I've never felt so scared or alone in my life. My companion was literally 5 feet away from me, but I felt completely hopeless and abandoned. I prayed for what seemed like an eternity, but nothing happened. As I sat praying in the feedle position with my eyes closed tight, I received the most distinct impression of my life. I remembered that as a misisonary I had the power and authority to call upon the ministering of angels. I asked God to send down angels to deliver and protect me. I never opened my eyes, but I saw a vivid vision of angels, clothed in white with gold cords and armed with swords, surrounding my bed. After this happened I felt an immediate wave of peace and comfort rush over me. It was like I could feel the Lord's arms holding and comforting me. After this happened I was able to fall asleep instantly.

But now I'm good. The MTC is incredible and the greatest experience. The spirit is so strong, and I've never felt the Lord help me so much in everything I do. I love you all.

Iakwe, Elder Sammy Merrill

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sammy sends some pics from the MTC - July 18

No real letters this week, but Elder Merrill did send some pics...

"my nametag"
this is my companion elder carter

we're bros. me, ackley, and tu'itupou

My district at the temple

District selfie

I'm walking up the wall

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Letter #3 - July 11, 2013

Dear Mom,
                Thanks for everything, including the socks!  Those came just in time, and yes I would love some more.  I'm really sorry I missed yours and dad's birthdays, but I hope they were good without me.  The MTC is so great!  Everyone was telling me, "just make it to Sunday" or "just get through the first week" but I never felt the need.  The Lord really has blessed me, and I hope you feel that He's blessed you guys as well.  I know that as long as I stay faithful & give these 2 years my all He will watch over my family, and that is what gives me a little extra motivation when I'm feeling down.
My comp is Elder Carter.  I really don't think the Lord could've paired me with someone more opposite than myself.  We disagree on teaching methods but we make it work I guess.  Plus there's always my District to turn to.  My district is so great!  We have 4 sisters & 12 brothers.  I had 2 companions, but one of the elder's comps missed his flight, so Elder Wilson my other companion is with him for awhile.  But the guys in my district have become like family.  I'm closest to Elder Leviticus, Askley, & Tu'itopou.  Leviticus is our district leader.  He and Askley are companions, both from Hawaii, & both Marshallese.  They help me out when I can't figure out a word & are hilarious.  Tu'itupou is from Australia.  He's super chill & a good friend to talk to.  And apparently culture is different there because he says "hell" & "damn" all the time & gets some pretty interesting looks from all these missionaries.
                I had a cool experience a couple of nights ago.  One of the elders in our district was sick.  So sick that he couldn't get out of bed laid there for most of the day.  We asked him if he wanted a blessing & he said yes.  I anointed him & his comp blessed him. - side story- I felt an impression to receive the Melchezideck priesthood before I went on Origination.  That's why I was pushing so hard for it.  I know it was frustrating & probably didn't make sense to you, but it did to me.  On my trip I had the chance to anoint the girl that was sick in my family.  And because of this I was able to rise to the occasion when this elder needed a blessing.  Any way the next morning he woke up & felt completely fine & was able to do everything he needed to do.  That really testified to me of the power of the priesthood.  Also Jared, Gavin, Ryan Morrin, Dawson Pedersen, & Gabe Wood are on the floor below me so I go down & talk to them almost every night.  Also I've been mooching food off them so like I said some like Swedish fish, Gummy Bears, Mike & Ices, and whatever else you want to send would be much appreciated :-)  I miss & love you, and just remember to put your faith in the Lord and you'll never need to worry about me.

ps also feel free to share some of this stuff cause I didn't have enough time to put it in the email. 

Second Letter from Sammy - July 11, 2013

On Thu, Jul 11, 2013 at 3:03 PM, Samuel Merrill <> wrote:

The MTC is awesome, thanks for all your great advice and all the support and love from everyone back home. My time at the MTC, although short, has been one of my greatest growing experiences thus far. I can't believe a week's already gone by. It really is true what they say here that the days pass like weeks and the weeks pass like days. I don't know if I've already told you, but we have the largest Marshallese speaking district in the history of the church (16). District E. We're all so close and I couldn't have asked for better/funnier guys to spend my time with here at the MTC. We were like family after only 2 days. It's crazy how friendly and nice you become once you put the Lord first and yourself second. The gift of tongues truly is a gift from God. I learned more Marshallese in two days than I did German in two years.
The devotionals are awesome. Our devotional Sunday night was so good. Brother Durrant spoke on how as a representative of Christ you have nothing to be afraid of. We have a commission from Christ and it is Him that we are directly representing. He also talked about the importance of being bold. He explained how bold is not loud, but sincere. He told us to all say "bold" boldly. Everyone screamed BOLD! But he preceded to say that he had tricked us. Then he told us to listen to him as he looked the audience straight in the eye, and confidently exclaimed "bold". It was eye opening to me to know that I don't have to be the bravest missionary, and that even the shyest of people, when strengthened by the Lord, can become some of the greatest missionaries.
Sorry I can't send any pictures right now, the bookstore is all out of adapters needed to upload pictures, but I'll try next week. Also anyone who feels so inclined can send me food, letters, pictures, food, love, pray for me, send me food... I have more time to write letters than send emails so that'd be preferred, but whatever works! I love and miss everyone.


Friday, July 5, 2013

First Letter from Sammy - July 5, 2013

Sent: Friday, July 5, 2013 12:05 PM
Subject: immunizations!

Hey mom,
They're letting me write this not on my p day because I need you to send me my dates for my MMR or Measles, Mumps, and Rubella shots. So please get those back to me as soon as you can. My p day's thursday but we didn't have one yesterday. They're teaching Marshallese so I'll be here till August 13 or 6 weeks. The language is crazy and we teach our first investigator in Marshallese today. We have 17 people in our district, the largest Marshallese district in the history of the church. My companion, Elder Carter and I are the first 2 missionaries going to Hawaii speaking Marshallese trained in the MTC. I've seen so many people I know. My district is great. Everyone is so nice! I miss you guys, but know that I'm serving a better purpose here. GIve my best to everyone! Also if you could send my oil holder in my nightstand drawer, a giant pack of wint-o-green lifesavers cause we can't chew gum here, and any snacks you want that would be awesome! I'll be sure to write a better letter next p day.
Love, Sammy

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sammy Becomes a Missionary...

So after months of anxiously waiting, the time finally comes for Sammy to become a missionary.  The family, including Grandpa Sam went with Sammy to meet with President Nilson, where he was set apart as a missionary.

Then we went back to our house where lots of friends came by to say their goodbyes.

Next morning (July 3) Sammy finishes packing, says goodbye to Grandma Bonnie and we head out to the MTC.  

Quick stop at Cubby's for a final lunch together and pic with our favorite home teacher, Cubby James...

Had to do a quick drive up to Wymount Terrace, where Sammy first lived as a baby

Then over to the Provo Temple for some pics and family goodbyes

Then down to the MTC to drop Sammy off. 

 And the adventure begins...

Pics from Sammy's last night thru Entering the MTC