Monday, February 23, 2015

Week 80 - It's Laining

This week we had the opportunity to go up and teach my recent convert from Honoka'a, Haunani. She started crying when she saw me and in my mind I was like "this is supposed to be a happy time". She's doing pretty well. She told us that she comes to church most weeks, whenever she can get a ride, and has read through the bible and Book of Mormon almost twice in the past year. She loves the gospel and told us about how she shares her beliefs to all of her friends! We committed her to prepare to go to the temple. Unfortunately she has some things to work through right now before she can get there, but she promised me that she'd do everything she can to get there!
We also had a flood (or as some of the fob asian missionaries say, floord) of one of the areas in our district. Basically everyone in our district went to this one ward area and just tracted to help find new investigators. I was with one of the missionaries in my zone who's still being trained. We found 3 people that seemed pretty interested in just an hour of knocking doors! So I guess you could say in our floord we made it lain! Awesome considering knocking doors in Hawaii usually has a pretty crappy turn out. I guess the Lord blesses us for our sacrifices. Our mission mom gave us a quote from President Hinckley that talked about what seems to be a sacrifice now, will indeed prove to be the greatest investment.
We also found these two new kids to teach. We were trying to see one of our recent converts, but they weren't home. So we talked to these kids who lived next door to them that were playing outside. One of them is 15 and the other is 10. We taught them about faith and they seemed decently interested. Their step mom is actually a less-active member that we've been trying to visit.
Also the Welle family came to church again this past week, and they brought one of their cousins who's also a non-member. They're looking solid for their baptismal date and hopefully we'll be able to teach their cousin as well.
Hope you all have a happy and blessed week! Sure love you guys!
-Elder Merrill

Monday, February 16, 2015

Week 79 - Birth for dayzzz

Aroha friends and fam!
We had a fan freaking tastic week here in Big Island. Definitely one of the best weeks on my mission as far as work goes. We taught an all-time high of lessons since I've been in Kona and set a whole family to a baptismal date! The family we set was the Chuukese family I talked about last week, the Welle family. We taught them the restoration and then committed the kids and the mom to a baptismal date and they accepted! Then all the kids showed up to church yesterday. The mom wouldn't come though, so we'll keep working with her and hopefully the Lord will soften her heart to baptism. The grandma told us that it was a huge step that she was letting her kids be baptized. We're excited for their date of March 8th and will continue to pray for all of them.
We also had a lesson with these former investigators in our area, their names are John and Jamboree. They're about our age and have two kids, which always trips us out b/c that could be us without the gospel. They're kind of stoners, but we try to catch them in the morning when they first wake up so they're in a state of mind to hear the gospel :) John seems to be pretty into the lessons and I think the spirit works on him when he listens to what we have to share. Jamboree on the other hand likes the lessons, but is kind of opposed to being baptized or coming to church. We enjoy teaching them though, really anyone that will hear our message.
I had probably one of the best birthdays of my life. Just another day of missionary work devoted to serving others. We saw several people, including a recent convert named Kekai. He's a 12 year old kid so we stopped by to teach him a lesson and invite him to church/scouts because he hasn't been in a while. He liked the lesson, but his dad who is a non-member sat in on the lesson and kind of discouraged him from coming to church. He likes the church, but thinks it's more important to study and spend time with his dad, than for him to go to church on sundays. At the end of the day we went to one of the senior couples' house and all the missionaries in the south district had a surprise birthday party for me. Pizza, cake, presents, the whole 9 yards. I'm so blessed to be where I am and with the missionaries I'm serving around. Thank you guys for all the birthday wishes and love!
Take care and aloha!
-Elder Merrill

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Week 78 - Sticks and Stones

What's up good friends and family?!
This week we had a killer week with finding new investigators, especially through member effort! We taught a great lesson with Naahun, the guy from Honduras. We brought a member with us who served his mission in Panama, so he was able to teach in Spanish which really helped Naahun's understanding. He still wants to be baptized and believes that God placed us in his path to help him get there. He works some sundays which is really the only problem we have with him.
The same member that helped us teach also gave us a referral to a family. Our member is the vice principal for the local elementary school and I guess he got a complaint that a girl was hitting kids with a stick on the bus, so he went over to talk to the mom. He said he talked to them and they said he could stop by with us. Talk about standing as a witness of Christ at all times. They're a Chuukese family. The grandma is a member and just moved from Magna, UT to here to stay with her daughter and grand children. Her daughter and her three children aren't members and our member that came with us committed them to take the missionary lessons and they showed up to church yesterday!
We also contacted this referral of a less-active member living with his girlfriend and their newborn son. They were super cool and really receptive. We taught them about eternal families and it really seemed to hit home with their new son sitting right there. They said we could come back and continue to see them on a weekly basis!
We've also been working with this guy named Gordon. His wife is a member and has been for her entire life. He comes to church almost every week with her and loves it. He prepares for the gospel doctrine lessons, had stake conference marked on his calendar for the past couple of months, told us he's trying to do a better job in finding us people to teach, is already looking forward to general conference, and even has a favorite general authority (President Uchtdorf). The only problem is he's suuuper Catholic. He loves our church, but is pretty set in his ways as a Catholic. We asked him if he's ever prayed about our church, and he said that would be hypocritical, because he already knows the Catholic church is the true church. I'm hoping his heart is softening right now because of their daughter's health situation. She has terminal cancer and has recently returned to Hawaii from the hospital. Gordon and his wife told us it's really just a matter of time until she passes and they're just waiting for the call which could come any day now. I really feel for them because you can tell how much it's paining them. They both had priesthood blessings to be able to bear up their burdens and seem to be dealing with it pretty well. 
We've got a lot of people we're working with, but not very many close to baptism, so that's our focus right now. I'm loving this ward and especially how helpful the members are with missionary work. We have some good things going and are looking forward to even better things to come!
Elder Merrill

Monday, February 2, 2015

Week 77 - Fightin' Fires

Had another killer week here in Kona. We taught this guy from Honduras named Nahuun. We met him one day while we were walking down the street. He was out by his truck, so we decided to go out and meet him. We didn't see him for a while, but were driving by this past week and saw his truck outside, so we decided to stop in and teach him. We found out his brother that is living with him is a less-active member. Then we taught him the Restoration. When we got to Christ's Earthly Ministry, he said "I need that, I haven't baptized yet". We told him we could help him with that, then invited him to church. He had to work this past sunday, but told us he'd be there for sure this next week!
On a sadder note, there was a family in our stake that had a fire in their house and lost two of their sons (6 and 11 I think). The whole stake has rallied together to support them. The mom and all of the extended family bore their testimony yesterday. She talked about how the gospel brings her peace in trying times like this. One of her sons that passed away gave a talk last week in church and after his death, the news published it all over Hawaii. His talk was about families and the plan of salvation. It's really cool to see how his young testimony is blessing so many.
We were talking about it in ward council, and the high priests' group leader, who has been a firefighter for 40 years, shared a really neat insight. He told us that 95% of firefighting is prevention. Or in other words, the best way to fight a fire is to never have one. He related that to the gospel and said the same thing about our spiritual safety. It's better to take precautionary measures to protect your spirit beforehand, rather than waiting for disaster to strike. It goes along perfectly with the saying "an ounce of prevention is better than a ton of cure". 
We've also been working with these less-active sisters in our ward. They didn't come to church for like 30 years. Then they started coming back last year, but fell away again. We've been meeting with them every sunday and they've come to church the past two sundays!
Please keep praying for missionary opportunities and the courage to recognize and act on them when they come! Love you guys.
-Elder Merrill