Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 63 - Mom I touched the Net

Aloooooha everyone!
This past week was full of all kinds of surprises. The first of these was we were surprised with a new investigator! Her name is Sarah. She's the grand daughter of our branch mission leader, and one day when we went to pick up a member that lives in the same house, he mentioned that Sarah wasn't a member. She comes to church almost every week so we hadn't even thought to ask if she was a member or not. She accepted our invitation to start taking the missionary lessons and seems pretty excited about learning more!
One of the more sad surprises we got came from Miko's sister Tiko. She's 17 years old and told us that she has lung cancer. She's not sure exactly how bad it is, but seems to be dealing with it pretty well. If I received that news I'd be crushed, but she's just playing it off like it's no big deal and carrying on with life as usual. I felt bad because when she told us the story neither of us really knew what to say at first. I think we were dealing with the initial shock of someone that young having cancer without ever having smoked or done anything damaging to her lungs. After a period of silence, I told her that, although we don't really know how she feels, because we haven't been in that situation, we're here to help in any way and with anything that she needs.
A few days after that meeting, we were teaching Miko and Tiko again and they invited us back to play volleyball that night with a bunch of Marshallese people. That was really interesting. It was funny because the average height of the people there, excluding my companion and I, was probably 5'3. They'd set on the second hit almost all the way back in the court, then someone else would do this weird spike from way below the net that basically rainbowed over. When they saw my companion and I (both around 6'1) I think they were terrified. Especially once we started spiking. I thought we were playing for fun, but these little brown people were serious. They called us out every time we accidentally nicked the net. Like what is this the NVA? But we had lots of fun and got to meet a lot of new Marshallese people. They're surprisingly good for people half the height of the net.
We also met with Mary and Catherine again. We actually went to see Maria, who lives in the same house, but she was sleeping. So we walked back to our car and as we were driving away we saw Mary. She waved to us as we drove away on our way to another appointment. I had this feeling that we should turn around a teach her, so I asked my companion if he wanted to go back. He said "why not?" so we flipped around and taught them the Restoration. I was really impressed at how much they remembered, considering they're 8 and 9 years old. The only thing they didn't really remember was the apostasy, but they remembered all of Christ's earthly ministry and the whole Joseph Smith story.
I hope you guys all have a great week and, like Tiko, make the best of it no matter what comes your way. Love you all!
-Elder Merrill

Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 62 - Aloha

Aloha everyone!
Well first things first we had another "hurricane" this past week. It really just rained pretty hard for a couple days. The scariest thing that happened during it was one of the elder's umbrella broke. That's about it though, pretty uneventful.
This week we had a really great lesson with Miko. She opened up to us and let us know some of that stuff that's going on with her and her family. I think it's a sign that she really trusts us because she's willing to tell us stuff she hasn't really told anyone else. We were able to help her see that even though things seem hard, and although to her it may seem that God's not there, He always is and He knows our struggles and trials. We also told her that it is to Him and our Savior that she can always turn. He is always there, waiting to help, even when it seems like nobody else is. It gave her a lot of hope.
We also met Matlynn. She is the sister of one of the members of our branch. The member set up an appointment and came with us to see her. She was baptized a long time ago, but has since then married a husband who's a set Catholic, and has been taking her kids to Protestant church. She told her brother that she wanted to change and she felt like something has been missing in her life, thankfully the member was bold enough to tell her what she was missing was the truths of the gospel, and that by meeting with us, the missionaries, she could change her life. In our lesson with her and some of her kids, she told us that she wants to change, but is scared because of the lack of support from her husband. We told her that our Father in Heaven is her ultimate source of support of support and she can always turn to Him.
We also had our ministering night, where the stake presidency came out with us and other members of our branch. I was with the second counselor and my companion went with a different member. President Farris and I went to a sketchy part of town called the Poops. (1. because all the streets start with "Pupu" 2. because is kinda smells down there) We visited a less-active member named Carmen. She told us she works on sundays, but it working on getting them off so she can come to church. We were able to have a really good discussion with her about the importance of church attendance and lovingly invite her back to church.
Hope all is well and have a great week!
Elder Merrill

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 61

Hellooooooooha everyone!
Everything continues to go well here in Waipahu. We took a member out with us a few days this past week and he introduced us to a lot of new people. I think we had 4 new investigators and 10+ potentials just from the few hours that he was with us! A couple that he introduced us to was Donny and Maria. Donny is an inactive member and his girlfriend Maria is a non-member. We invited them to take the missionary discussions and they accepted, so the next day we went back to teach the Restoration. As we said amen to the opening prayer, I opened my eyes with my head still bowed, and saw a huge dead centipede on the ground right between my feet. This wasn't one of those tiny, inch long centipedes we have in Utah, this thing was at least 7 inches long and had bright red legs. For those of you who don't know, centipedes bite, and people here have told stories that it's more painful than kidney stones or child birth. Don't know if that's true, but bottom line is it hurts a lot. So I tried to stifle a scream, so I ended up making this weird squealing noise which unfortunately got everyone's attention, but I played it off. Then later in the lesson, as Maria was reading a scripture about the apostasy, I saw a smaller centipede crawl up onto my companion's scriptures and I guess it decided that his handle was a good place to chill. I nudged Elder Neff and pointed to his scriptures, trying to warn him, but he thought I was motioning for him to get his scriptures and help her read. So he reached for them and put his hand right on top of the centipede. I yelled "don't grab your scriptures!" and with reflexes I didn't know I had, smacked his arm and got him to let go. Fortunately I smacked my companion before he got bit. Unfortunately I got even weirder looks than I did from the squeal. Don't worry though, the lesson turned out great and spirit was strong, regardless of the influence of Satan's centipedes.
I also exchanged with one of our zone leaders, Elder Downey (like the laundry detergent). We went to contact one of our former investigators who had moved, Miko, because he visited her before when he was on exchanges with my old companion. But that was only once, so we got really lost looking for where she lived. It was one of those "turn right. Wait maybe left. No I think it's right. But straight looks so familiar too" situations. We decided to pray when we were stopped at a stoplight for Heavenly Father to lead us to her, and upon closing the prayer both felt pretty strongly that we should turn left. So we turned left, and drove a few miles down this road to a dead end. We were pretty crushed as we turned around and drove back. He was telling me that he was sure that was the turn because he remembers turning by this big building with a lot of windows. As vague of a description as that was, I saw in my mind a building like that that we had driven by just one street before, so we decided to try this last turn before we went home, having confidence that Heavenly Father wouldn't lead us astray. We turned, onto a road that was leading us the wrong way. We decided we'd just keep going, because this road took us back to our apartment. As we got to an intersection, Elder Downey recognized it as the one we had been looking for! He said "see! It's just like I said. There's four stop signs and a railroad track!" Elder Downey isn't the best at giving directions... But we turned and followed the road and found the place where Miko lives! It wasn't until we found it that Elder Downey told me the other piece of bad news, the building is locked and the only way in is if a resident lets you inside. That kind of killed my high, but determined to find her we parked the car. As we were walking toward the building, I saw her dad standing right outside the door. I asked him if Miko was there and he told us she was coming right now and to just wait, then we could study with her. Sure enough, no more than 10 seconds later, out walks Miko. She was super excited to see us and told us she'd really been wanting us to come over and teach her because she wants to be baptized really soon! We've since gone back to teach her and she has a baptismal date for October 30th!
It's incredible what kind of miracles the Lord can accomplish in our behalf as long as we're willing to do His will!
Love you and hope all is well.
-Elder Merrill

Monday, October 6, 2014

Week 60 - Aloha

Great week at conference! I hope you all got to watch it because every talk was amazing and seemed to highlight different aspects of the gospel. That's one of the amazing things about conference is that they're not assigned topics, but always seem to talk about what the church members need to hear most. Which just goes to show that these talks truly are revealed, which makes it even more important for us to heed, ponder, and apply their messages.
I really liked the talks from Elder Christofferson and Elder Bednar talking about gospel truths. They highlighted some great aspects about how essential it is for us to not only apply these truths in our lives, but share them with others.
This theme of truth was what we shared with Machat in our lesson with him this week. He watched conference with his family which was great, and he said that Elder Bednar's talk was his favorite. Which I thought was perfect because Elder Bednar was specifically addressing non-members in that talk. So we chose to elaborate more on it. We read the account of Enos, which Elder Bednar briefly read from, and talked about the importance of gospel truths and the joy that comes when we apply these truths in our lives. Many of us may start off searching, wandering, or like Enos with a hungering soul. But when we apply these gospel truths and the gift of the Atonement in our lives, there truly is no greater joy, as is demonstrated in the case of Enos.
This week we also took a member out with us to see this less-active/part member family, the Sylvester family who we had that experience with in branch council just a few weeks ago. They have three girls, which I actually worked with while I was in McCully ward in my first area. We'd tried to get into their house several times, but with no avail. We took this member with us and he got in right away. We set up for a return appointment this next week and are going back to teach their two unbaptized girls again on Thursday! Their family has a lot of struggles. Their only son, and oldest child, is in jail in Arizona, and the mom suffered a huge stroke a few years ago leaving her only able to move half of her body. But they used to be strong members in the church, and we hope to get them back.
We also met this girl named Rako. She came here from the Marshall Islands to deliver her second child, and she's only 17... But she has a great desire to learn about the gospel and change her life. She doesn't speak a word of English, so it's been a great experience for me and my son to work on our Marshallese. She's also living with her cousin who just recently got baptized so we're really excited to teach her. The only set back is she's going back to the Marshall Islands for a month to get everything worked out for her to move back here permanently. But she says she can't wait to come back and be baptized!
So just a few exciting things happening for us here in Hawaii. Hope all is well with you.
Love you guys!
-Elder Merrill