Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Week 76 - More Mur'cles

Aloooha y'all.
Another great week, with great experiences, great people, and in a great place has come and gone. On tuesday my comp and I trained our zone on miracles. We set high goals for with dates for our zone because we just had a lot of baptisms the past few weeks and our with dates were struggling. We read a scripture in Helaman 8 that kind of poses the question of "If God could work miracles like parting the Red Sea, why can't He work miracles in my life?". We talked about how with God all things are possible, and He only requires the faith necessary to perform miracles. If we truly believe and know that God works miracles today just as He did in times of old, we can see His hand so abundantly in our lives.
We actually had a few small miracles this past week. We got a new unbaptized members' list and were going through it this past sunday. We found a name that wasn't on the old one and felt like we should go to visit her. Right as we parked outside her house, a car drove into the driveway. We decided to talk to whoever was getting out of the car and it turned out to be her! She seemed happy to see us and invited us back for breakfast this week! Then she asked if we were just visiting random people, and we told her that we saw her name and felt like we should visit her. She was quiet for a little, then said "and on today of all days". We didn't really want to press the issue, but I guess we stopped by on some significant day that she really needed a visit from the missionaries!
Another miracle we saw was on the plane ride back from Oahu yesterday. I was sitting across the aisle from this guy who kept staring at me and my badge. After a few awkward times of me catching him staring, then him hurriedly looking away, I struck up a conversation with him. We talked for the rest of the plane ride and I found out that he was a less-active member who hadn't been to church in over 20 years. He is also cousins with some of our ward members. He has a wife and kids that are all non-members and he accepted my invitation to be taught! It was kind of an answer to our prayers in a way because my companion and I had been praying to find a family that we could teach. We're planning on setting up something with his cousins and hopefully they'll start coming to church and eventually be baptized!
Hope you all have a great week and continue to see miracles and the Lord's hand in your life!
Elder Merrill

Monday, January 19, 2015

Week 75 - Aloha

Shaloha friends and family!
Had another great week living it up on Big Island! The highlight of my week was Tema's baptism. She's been ready and waiting for this for a long time. She even said that she was already a member and just waiting to be baptized! Her husband, who wouldn't even step foot on church grounds (parking lot included) showed up to support Tema! I think it's the first time he's ever been inside of a church building. He was initially opposed to her being baptized and hinted at the fact that he wouldn't be there, but I think with prayer the Lord really softened his heart and he actually asked her and talked to her about her baptism. Everything went perfect for the baptism. No problems, not rushed, and stress free!
Transfers were this past week, so we had about half of the zone change. I was sad to see my companion leave because we got along and worked really well together, but my new companions good too. We were friends before, so it wasn't hard for us to get along as companions. 
We had a good week of service projects as well. We helped Tema's son cure a dutch oven and clean out a chicken coop. I think I could have a future in herding chickens because I killed it in getting those chickens back into their coop. We also helped out in a service project up in Honoka'a, one of my old areas. We helped this guy out on his farm chopping down trees and clearing out farm plots. 
We also had a really great lesson with Teki yesterday. We talked about still getting him to progress after his baptism by setting goals. He told us that he wanted to serve a mission! So we helped him set goals to get him there. He's been reading the Book of Mormon and is loving it.
We've also been working with these less-active sisters, the Kahanu's. They hadn't been to church for a long time, but started coming back at the beginning of last year. They kind of fell away, so we've been visiting them every sunday. We had a really good lesson with them about keeping the commandments. We shared a scripture in Mosiah 2 about how blessed the people are that keep the commandments. We then asked them if they loved the Lord, and if they did what they would be willing to do for Him. If we truly love the Lord we'll do anything for Him, including keeping the commandments. I hope you guys all ask yourselves that question, if you really love the Lord with all your heart, mind, and soul like you're supposed to, what are you willing to do for Him?
Love you guys and have a great week!

-Elder Merrill

Monday, January 12, 2015

Week 74 - All is Well, All is Well

Friends and family, Malo lelei!
Another great week topped off with a killer baptism! Teki was baptized and confirmed this past saturday and the service was awesome. We actually had a miracle in getting him to the waters of baptism. He had his baptismal interview the day before everything was planned out (kind of bad procrastination on our part) and had something that he needed to talk to the stake president about. It was threatening his baptism going through the next day which everyone was already planning on. We called our mission president and he said we'd probably have to push the baptism back because he had nobody to interview Teki and didn't know where the Stake President was. We begged him and he told us he'd call the Stake President to see if there was any way he could do an interview. He called us back almost immediately and told us that the Stake President had just pulled into the temple parking lot which was about 100 yards from where we were. It was honestly a miracle and testimony builder for me that the Lord is always aware of our situation. He placed our stake president in the right place at the right time. Teki was interviewed after and cleared for baptism!
His whole family drove down from Hilo on the other side of the island to be there for his baptism. A couple of nights before the baptism, Teki and his uncle (a member of our ward) drove down to ask for his mom's blessing and invite her to the baptism. She kept asking him questions like "why do you want to be baptized? Do you feel pressured because you're living with uncle Oke right now?" But he just told her that no one was making him do this. It was his decision and he wanted to be baptized because he could feel that it was true. He told her that he knew that families could be together forever, and that that's what he wants for their family, especially with the recent passing of his dad. She gave him her blessing and he was baptized a few days later. His mom even came to church with him the next day, and after sacrament rather than going back to Hilo (which is what they had planned) she told him to stay for class. I think she really felt the spirit and we're hoping we can get the missionaries over in Hilo to stop by their house and start teaching them too! I'm so proud of Teki because he's already being a missionary. He doesn't really recognize it, but he shares the gospel with basically everyone he comes in contact with!
We also got some sad news. One of our investigators that we were working with just passed away. His name was Sumio. He was a 93 year old Japanese man and was very excited about the gospel. He couldn't wait to be baptized, but unfortunately his health started failing him. We went over to give him a blessing when we heard that he got moved to a care home. We basically gave him a blessing of comfort out of this life, rather than of healing. He passed away the next day, so I guess it was just his time to go. I'm really grateful for the temple in situations like that.
Love you guys and have a great week!
Aloha, Elder Merrill

Monday, January 5, 2015

Week 73 - Don't Look Back!

Aloha friends and family!
I hope you all had a great new years. I think New Year's Eve could be the biggest holiday in Hawaii. People spent thousands of dollars on fireworks so, it was crazy. We had a big bonfire on the rocks by the ocean with some of the missionaries, but had to be in our appartments by 9:30. We got back to our apartment to get some rest, but were woken up to the sounds of what sounded like a million firecrackers going off. Our neighbors had tied a ton of chinese firecrackers onto their wooden playset (Hawaiian ingenuity at its finest) and the things were super loud. Right after that started it turned 12 so all of our neighbors were popping off illegal fireworks. We just sat at our window and watched all the fireworks going off all around us.
Then the next day, we went to drive up to Mauna Kea to see the first sunrise of the year from the highest point in Hawaii, but apparently there were hurricane force winds up at the top up to 150 mph so it was closed. Instead we went to the chapel and had a water balloon fight, followed by a flour fight (sticky, crusty flour not a good idea) then we played capture the flag. Not too eventful compared to the crazy new years stories we heard from other people, but still had fun as a zone.
Yesterday Teki came to church and is super ready to be baptized this saturday! He got up and bore his testimony! He talked about the happiness and comfort that the gospel has brought him especially after his dad passed away just a few months ago. He also made the whole congregation laugh by saying he was enjoying the missionaries' "speeches" and also by telling everyone jokingly that they better come to his baptism. We're meeting with him every day this week and he's so ready for baptism. His whole non-member family is supposed to be attending his baptism, as well as his girlfriend. She's a non-member and he said he gave her a Book of Mormon and downloaded the Mormon Channel app on her phone. He told us "don't worry guys, it's just a matter of time before she comes around".
The message that we've been sharing with people with this new year comes from a Mormon Message about New Years. It shares the story of Lot and how his wife was turned into a pillar of salt for looking back. Personally, I feel that it wasn't the physical act of looking back that the Lord punished her for, rather that she wasn't fully committed to obeying with exactness the commandments of the Lord. Maybe she missed her house, her friends, or whatever it was that caused her to look back. But that really is perfect advice for this new year. So many people that we teach carry around these unnecessary burdens because they're so caught up on things that happened in the past. I heard a quote that said :the past is to be learned from, not lived in. That's really that attitude that we should have with this coming new year. Rather than focusing on our regrets, look forward to our opportunities. The Lord commanded Lot to "get to the mountain and not look back". Often times in the scriptures, the mountain symbolizes a temple or a holy place, so in addition to not looking back, we should make sure that our path looking forward will be one that brings us closer to God, knowing that where we're going will be better than where we've been as long as we put our full trust in Him.
Love you all!
-Elder Merrill