Monday, November 24, 2014

Week 67

Ro jeiu im jatu, iakwe!
This week was a killer one full of interesting experiences. For starters, we went to this building that's pink to teach one of our investigators. Strangely enough, it's called pink building. While we were there this random guy walked up to us while we were talking to this group of kids. He kind of just shimmied his way in between us and the kids and started firing off questions about Joseph Smith. He showed us this video CNN did about Joseph Smith and asked questions like "did you know this?" and "what are you planning to do about this?". We directed him to some articles on and I bore him my personal witness about Joseph Smith being an inspired prophet chosen of God. I find it very fascinating how true Moroni's words to Joseph were that his name would be had for good and evil among all people. Also that many of our church leaders chose to speak on this very subject just a couple of months before this video came out. There were talks about how gospel principles are eternally true and they completely apply to our situation right now. It's like we get to see prophecy coming true in front of our own eyes! After we answered this man's questions, he pronounced some kind of blessing on us to find the truth, how thoughtful and kind of him, and then left as quickly as he came.
We also ran into a guy that I taught when I was in McCully ward. His name is Ronno and apparently he's about to be baptized. He told me that since the time I left, he quit smoking, and is about to be married and baptized because he knows that this gospel is true! He told me how he attends church and plans to help and strengthen his fellow Micronesians. It was really cool to see and hear about how he continued to progress and the changes that he made once he found the truth of the gospel.
We continue to teach Miko the after baptism discussions and she is doing great. She still comes to church every week, reads her scriptures every day, and even shows up on saturdays to help clean the chapel. Plus she brings her sister with her who is now active in the church! It's awesome to see people accept the gospel, and even better when those people implement the gospel in their lives to help others!
Well hope you all have a great week!
Elder Merrill

Monday, November 17, 2014

Week 66 - Aloha

Brothers and Sisters, Aloha.
This last week we had our first lesson with JR. We taught him the restoration and he accepted everything we taught him. I'm pretty sure he's about as golden as they come. The member we took with us, Takio, after the lesson told him and his girlfriend that they're going to get married. Then at church told him he's going to be baptized this next week, which actually works out perfectly because we're planning on committing them to marriage and baptism on Thanksgiving! That way we can have the entire branch show up to support them. So I'm not sure which color is associated with Thanksgiving, but hopefully for us it will be a white one!
We also committed another one of our investigators, Kaiya, with a date! At the end of the lesson we invited her to follow the Savior's example and be baptized, and she flat out told us no. So we explained to her the importance and significance of baptism, and after she said that she wanted to follow the Savior's example, we told her that baptism is the first step in following Him. She agreed, and set her own baptism date for December 31!
Last night we attended an awesome musical fireside. They talked about the power and influence of music. The keynote speaker, Nela Otuafi, gave a great talk. He was running back and forth from the pulpit to the piano and having the entire congregation join in while singing songs. Something he talked about that really hit me was the amount of influence music can have in a person's life. He first asked what happens when you put the wrong beats with the wrong lyrics together? You get a number one hit. He gave an example of if a guy were to walk up to a girl on the street and tell her "I know you love me. I know you care. Just shout whenever, and I'll be there" she'd probably slap him in the face and walk away. But what happens when you put those bad lyrics with the wrong beat? You get the number one most downloaded song in history. He then gave a counter example of what can happen when you put the right lyrics with the right beats. He then led the entire congregation in singing Love Is Spoken Here. The spirit was so strong in that room, and his point was proven perfectly. Music is supposed to bring us closer to our Heavenly Father, and when the right music is listened to it does just that. As a missionary, I can definitely testify that when uplifting music is listened to, it strengthens our relationship with Christ. Hymn lyrics themselves are considered scripture. He then challenged everyone to go through their library on their ipods and take out anything that didn't uplift. He said it didn't have to be all MoTab, but if it doesn't uplift, or have the right lyrics and right tunes, to get rid of it.
I hope you guys all have a great week!
Elder Merrill

Monday, November 10, 2014

Week 65 - Talk About Prepared

Aloooooha friends and family!
We had a fun week packed with all kinds of fun and miracles.
Yesterday at church there was this kid in our branch, Aaron, who hadn't been to church in a few months. He showed up yesterday and brought his whole family, half of which are non-members. My companion and I were like heck yeah! Let's go talk to them so we can teach them, so we planned to run up to them as soon as sacrament meeting was over. But they must've slipped out during the closing prayer or something because when we got up to go talk to them they were gone. All this time I thought I was the one with the Asian ninja blood. Aaron and his non-member sister Lani stayed though! They went to all three hours of church and Lani said she'd start meeting with us!
Also after sacrament meeting, a member came up and introduced us to one of his friends to start teaching him. Honestly I thought this guy was already a member because he comes to church almost every week and wears a white shirt and tie. We found out from the member that he even pays his tithing. When the member asked him why he wasn't baptized yet, the guy (JR) said he didn't know. So the member invited him to start taking the lessons with the missionaries and he said yes! We're going to see him on Wednesday and are super excited because he already wants to be baptized and we haven't even taught him a lesson yet!
We also went to this big Marshallese first birthday party called a kemem. There were so many Marshallese people there, a lot of which were non-members. We talked to a few people and had an awesome time seeing how crazy some of our branch members get at parties.
We also had a lesson with Kaipo. Not sure if I've mentioned him before, but he's this kid whose story is really similar to Simba's, one of my recent converts. He started coming to church randomly with one of the families in our branch, and since then has come almost every sunday. We taught him about the Plan of Salvation and committed him to a baptismal date on the 30th of this month. He didn't sound like he was super solid about being baptized on that date, but we're hoping for the best!
Our zone leaders told our whole zone that they set high goals for our zone to commit a lot of people to baptismal dates this past week. Even though we worked really hard, we still had trouble finding people to commit to a baptismal date, and even people to teach. It seemed like almost nobody was home when we tried to go see them. Compared to the past few weeks, it seemed like teaching lessons was a lot harder this week. I guess it's a prime example of Satan working his hardest when we are as well. But despite all of the seeming adversity, we were still able to teach a lot of people and set another investigator with a baptismal date!
Hope you guys remember to stick to it even though it's hard. Cause like the saying says: when the goin gets tough, the tough get goin! Love you!
-Elder Merrill

Monday, November 3, 2014

Week 64 - You Pushed Me

Yolohaaaaa everyone!
Had a grand 'ole time serving the Lord this past week! Topping off our week was Miko's baptism on saturday! You can probably read back on my emails from a long time ago and see that we've been working with Miko for a long time, ever since I got here. I think she was the investigator I've been working with the longest, so it made it that much better to see her be baptized! It's really amazing the transformation she's undergone in her conversion process. She started out as this trouble kid always getting into trouble at school and with the cops. She started to change her life by keeping the commitments we gave her, but after a while her adopted mom she was living with wouldn't allow her to be baptized or come to church. We still tried to see her, but eventually she moved away and we lost track of her. We found her almost by a miracle, started teaching her, and the Lord provided a way for her to be baptized by having her move back with her birth parents. As we taught her she attended church regularly and brought her inactive sister along with her every week. Both of her inactive parents, who I think were sealed in the temple, attended her baptism. They used to be very active back in the Marshall Islands, her dad was even a young men's president in one of the branches, but I think when they moved here they fell away. We made sure we scheduled her baptism on a day that her parents could attend, and they showed up! I guess the spirit must've worked on them because they said they felt something and told their daughters they're going to come back to church! They showed up yesterday to see Miko be confirmed and we hope they continue to come and raise their family in the gospel!
Halloween for me wasn't very eventful. Our mission president said the only costume allowed was to switch name tags with your companion, so that took most of the Halloween spirit away. Plus in Hawaii trick-or-treating isn't really a big thing. We saw probably a total of 5 families out on the streets the whole night. Even the elementary kids we saw getting out of school, hardly any of them were dressed up. Apparently the big party's in Waikiki, basically the one place we're not allowed to go, so for our Halloween we got together with a couple other missionaries and played Monopoly. Try not to be too jealous.
But we did have a trunk-or-treat at our branch night on Thursday. That seemed like an even bigger deal than the actual Halloween night was. I don't think it will ever cease to amaze me how fast you can make friends with little kids when you have candy. My companion and I were the coolest kids on the block! That is, until we ran out of candy.
We also had a really good lesson with Machat yesterday. He's been reading from the Book of Mormon and really understands the importance of baptism. We read Mosiah 18 with him this week to try and get him to commit to an earlier baptismal date. After we read he said that he felt like he should be baptized sooner, but would have to pray about it first.
Overall, just a great week. Love you guys!
-Elder Merrill