Monday, September 30, 2013

Week 7 - Missions 'n stuff

Iakwe aolep armej!
This week was just a lot of work. We got two new with dates! They're hopefully set for baptism on the 26th. They're parents want to be baptized too, but are having a hard time coming up with the money to buy a marriage license. It's crazy how little people have here, but how happy they are at the same time.
We also found this lady who wants to be baptized so bad, but her husband won't marry her. There's a lot to do here, which probably explains why we have 10 missionaries in our ward.
Also teaching Marshallese people is difficult because they have some of the smallest attention spans I've ever seen. We have to teach things really fast and really simple, which is hard sometimes with a companion who is still learning English and doesn't know a word of Marshallese. But I figured out the best way to teach them is with object lessons. I'm kind of an object lesson freak. But it's fun for me, fun for them, and keeps them interested.
We also had the opportunity to teach primary this week. Because it was the 5th sunday, they had 2 sets of missionaries teach primary. They actually, for the most part, paid better attention than our investigators (as long as we kept them busy) I played piano and we sung songs almost the entire class. Then I, of course, showed them an object lesson. We lit a tea bag on fire and when the black part flew up at the end we said that's what happened to your spirit after you die, it goes up to the spirit world. They. Freaked. Out.
The kids here are awesome. Whenever we're tracting, we'll get swarmed by kids asking for "pictures of Jesus" We probably go through 40 cards a week. And after I pass them out the kids all come and hug my legs.
This morning we woke up at 4 and went and hiked Koko Head. It's this big mountain that used to have a military base at the top. The trail is an abandoned cart track with like over 1000 railroad ties. It took forever and everyone was dead, but we got to the top in time to see the sunrise and it was awesome.
Love you all! Kojparok wot!
kon iakwe,
Elder Merrill

Monday, September 23, 2013

Week 6 - AloHAHAHA

Aloha! A lot has happened this week. For starters our two baptisms a few weeks ago hadn't been coming to church because they didn't have a ride. We found them one this week and I got to give my first confirmation! We also had our primary program. The highlight was definitely a little girl and her mom singing love is spoken here. The girl forgot the words, sang off tune and tempo, and kept singing after the song was over, so the mom had to yank her off the stage. It was hilarious.
*Side note* I think I forgot to tell you guys, but a few weeks ago it was fast sunday, and we had the most investigators at church I've had so far. The majority of sacrament meeting was one testimony, and it was exactly the kind you don't want to be borne when investigators are there. A big samoan guy stood up at the front and said "Brothers and sisters, I stand before you to confess a transgression" I immediately thought "please say you haven't borne your testimony as much as you should" but he just went off. He told the congregation how he had "enticed and kissed another man's wife, and that the family requested he do this" (don't know what kind of family that was) And I've heard of this starting to happen in other wards, but the bishop gets up and stops it. Not in McCully ward. The guy just went off for like 30 minutes. So that was...interesting.
Also this morning for our zone activity we went to a blowhole. We were walking on the rocks right next to the ocean (not the sand cause that's against the rules) I decided I wanted to go down next to the blowhole and see it a little closer. Bad idea. A huge wave washed over, splashed off the rock, and soaked me. The AP's joked they'd set up my appointment with president so I could tell him I went swimming.
The best thing that happened this week was the General Authority visit. Elder Soares of the presidency of the Seventy and Elder Holland came and spoke to us! Elder Holland talked about how  important it is to always project the image of a missionary, even after we've returned home. We don't have the right to jeopardize someone else's choice of serving a mission or not by influencing them with our actions and example. He shared a cool insight about Moses 1:39. He put an emphasis the word "My". How this is God's work and His glory.
He also shared that the word "astonish" comes from the root word tondra which means thunder. He told us to go out and astonish people, to speak with a tongue of thunder and make their world shake. He said in the Book of Mormon, when it mentions that the earth shook, it wasn't a literal earthquake, but more of people being astonished. He said Christ could come down to earth himself and minister to the people with legions of angels, but he doesn't do that, instead he's chosen us.
He said that sometimes people ask why is missionary work so hard? He said he's convinced it's hard, because salvation is not a cheap experience. He said why should it be easy for us, when it was never easy for Him. To be a disciple of Christ means you are willing to walk where Christ would walk, say what he would say, and do what he would do. He said the road to salvation always leads through Gethsemane and up Calvary. We are allowed to feel a little of what Christ felt whenever life seems hard. It was a really powerful talk.
Well I think I've talked enough. Hope everything is going well. Love you all. Ij iakwe kom!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Week 5 - Ewor ta?

Aloooooha everyone!
I hope all is well back home. Things in Hawaii are going great! Elder Ukenio and I have been working super hard this past week trying to find new investigators. So we've been tracting A LOT! Our mission president asked that every missionary tracts for 2 hours every day. It's hard, but it's actually been a big help. When our mission tracts we do the blessing approach.
1. We knock on the door
2. State we are representatives of Jesus Christ and ask if we can come in and leave a blessing of his peace and love in the home
3. Pray (duh)
4. Ask how they felt during the prayer and help them recognize the spirit
5. Commit to baptism.
Yeah that fast. It's really crazy, but I guess the spirit really works on some people and we have a surprising success rate.
It's been mostly work, work, work this week. I see a rainbow every day so...that's tight. I also got hit by a bird at McDonalds. I was just chilling, eating my McNuggets when out of nowhere a bird flying at at least 150 mph flew straight into the window. I guess it was super dazed and confused, and physics didn't apply, because it somehow bounced off and flew at me even faster! It hit me in the head, so I showed it what's up and karate chopped it straight out of the sky. I guess the Asian in me was just really flowing.
But nothing compared to the spiritual bird that flew into my heart? That was a really bad reference to the Holy Ghost...just forget it. But I read a really good article in the Ensign about Christ's words in D&C. Some really good verses in it that I liked are 88:50, 63, 67. They talk about how Christ is the true light in us and how when our eye is single to His glory, we are filled with His light, and that no darkness can be in us. Then it says that a body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things. I likened that to how we have a promise that if we seek to declare the word of God, our mouths will be filled and the Holy Ghost will speak for us.
Anyway it's probably starting to get cold back in Utah. That sucks cause the weather's perfect here...
Ij iakwe kom!
Love, Elder Merrill

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Week 4 - Aloooooha

We had our first two baptisms this week! We were scrambling right before the baptism because we couldn't find any child baptismal suits anywhere. We ended up just putting white pants and a shirt on the 8 year old that was being baptized and rolling them up so it looked like he was wearing floaties. The other kid who was baptized had to be baptized 6 times because he never went fully under the water. But in the end everything worked out. After the baptism, there was a dove that somehow got into the gym, which the font room is connected to, and was flying around (the Holy Ghost anyone?) As we were taking pictures after, it landed on the basketball hoop right above us. It was pretty tight.
Our zone is really pushing to meet the goal we set of 20 baptisms back to back to back, so three months in a row. It's crazy how hard everyone's working, and we go home completely exhausted every night.
There's a missionary serving in the Marshall Islands here to get dental work done, and he's staying with my companion and I. Hopefully I'll be able to speak to him and learn more about the language!
We got a new ward mission leader this week, and he's younger than my companion, only 22! I give Elder Ukenio crap about it all the time.
I also found out this week that our ward has around 1,200 members, about 150 of which show up on a consistent basis. Because of this, we just got new couple missionaries assigned to work only with the less-actives in our ward. So now our ward has 5 sets of missionaries.
We don't have a ward council, and instead have a meeting with just the missionaries and bishop once a week. Something cool he shared with us this week is about the refiner's fire. There's a scripture, I think in Malachi that talks about it. He told us that in order to refine silver, you have to put it in extreme heat, in order to get all the impurities out. You know the silver's done when the refiner can see his reflection in the product. He then related this to Christ and said that sometimes Christ wills us to go through times of extreme heat and trial. He waits until we change, and He can see His reflection in our lives.
Everything's great in Hawaii! Hope everything's great back home as well!

Love, Elder Merrill

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Week 3 in Paradise

There was a lot that happened this week. My mom (trainer's companion before you) finally left the house. Good news is I finally have a bed! My mom was kind of unorganized so we spent like 7 hours cleaning up his mess. We also got new missionaries, so I'm not the youngest one in my zone anymore!
A couple of days ago we were sitting in the tab (our church building. Look up lds tabernacle beretania st Hawaii if you have time. It's awesome) I was practicing piano for a baptism. Some Korean guy walked in and started shooting off sentences in Korean. Long story short, I calmed him down, found out what he wanted, and also found out he was baptized in Seoul by Jake Westbrook! It was crazy. He started showing me pictures of the missionaries that baptized him and I saw a picture of Jake.
Anyway, we have two baptisms this Saturday! They're cousins, Eddie and Rally. They're both Marshallese and these are my first two baptisms! I found out our mission is one of the highest baptizing missions in the world!
I also found out I like brown people a lot more than white people, at least here. (sorry to all my white friends and relatives that read this) White people are mean, but Micronesians always let us in and offer us food, even though we don't know them.
Also all the kids have in their minds that all missionaries know magic tricks. So if anyone knows any good street magic tricks, just let me know. I found out my badge can double as a whistle. Finally figured out after ten minutes why these kids were spitting into my badge...
I've never had spam before I came here, now I eat it all the time. We have spam, rice, and ketchup as a member dinner at least twice a week. The weirdest thing I've been fed so far is probably turkey tail. Also I've never been to a member dinner with an actual table, so we always sit cross-legged and I'm developing these really weird calluses on my ankles.
My companion is from Kiribati if you don't already know. He's super fob, but he's really cool. We have lots of fun together for sure. He throws lizards at me, then I'll make fun of him in Marshallese.
I'm loving it so far! I'll start looking for miracles to tell you guys about later.

Ij iakwe kom!
Love, Elder Merrill