Monday, April 27, 2015

Week 89 - I Don't Even Know Him...

Aloha y'all!
We had a pretty good and eventful week full of surprises. For starters we had a funeral. At 7:00am on Wednesday our bishop showed up at our house and asked us if I would give a spiritual thought and my companion would give an opening prayer for this funeral. We agreed and asked when the funeral was, he told us in 2 hours. We asked who it was for and the bishop told us "honestly, I don't even know. Some less-active guy I've never met". Great. We got to the funeral and looked at the program. I saw that I was the only person assigned to speak at all aside from the eulogy and apparently it was supposed to be a talk-length deal. I prepared like a 5 minute dinner message... And to add to it all they played a recording of a song that the guy had sung that talked about checking out girls in bikinis and illegitimate children. Really set the mood to give a spiritual thought right after that. So I got up to the podium in front of all these people I've never met speaking about a guy that I've also never met. I was like "Jimmy sounds like he was a great're all so lucky to have known him..." basically bull crapping my way through it. I thought it was a total disaster. Then to add to it we said like three simultaneous prayers at the burial ceremony. My companion said the opening prayer, then there was the dedication prayer, then I said the closing prayer. Just like that, no talks, no thoughts, nothing. But I guess the family was really touched at how much our ward was willing to do for this family that they'd never met. Hopefully we'll be able to start teaching his daughter who lives in our area and is a non member.
That's about the most exciting thing that happened in our week. Hope you guys all have a great week! Stay classy!
Elder Merrill

Monday, April 20, 2015

Week 88 - More Like a Twig...

Overall a pretty good week here in Wahiawa. We live on California Ave (right? California in Hawaii?) which apparently is the world record street for having the most churches on it. So it's always fun with all the dirty looks we get driving home. Also our ward is more like a branch, or maybe even a twig. I think the average sacrament meeting attendance is about 60, and dropping. We've got some of the main families in our ward moving out within the next couple of months, so our ward has the possibility of being dissolved into the other two wards in Wahiawa. Because of this, our bishop has asked us to focus all our efforts on less-actives. It's weird resolving concerns for less-actives because it's different almost every time. Lots of people were offended by the previous bishop in the ward, others have problems living the "Mormon lifestyle", others just like cruising on sundays and "don't have the time to go to church", and some don't even realize they're less-active. They'll talk about rescuing less-actives and not even realize that they hardly if ever come to church! The joys of missionary work.
A large chunk of our ward is military families, so the ward is constantly changing. We have a third of Scofield military base in our ward boundaries. It's hard because there's lots of less-actives that are in the military, but my companion isn't a US citizen so unless we get a pretty chill guy at the gate we have to have a sponsor for him to come in.
We also do lots of service every Saturday. Last week we chopped all the trees in this lady's yard down with machetes. That was fun. We'd see who could get through a tree in the least amount of swings, then played real life fruit ninja with the fruit that was on the trees. Also we have a weekly recurring service project with this lady named Momi. She has this house that's unlike anything I've ever seen. She was in the hospital for a while, and while she was in there her brother lived at her house. He's a major hoarder. So he bought tons of worthless stuff and put it in plastic bins all over the yard. Also the entire yard got overgrown with trees, bushes, and all kind of junk so we're helping her clear as much as she can out. It's good fun and a lot of work.
Love you guys and have a great week!
-Elder Merrill

Monday, April 13, 2015

Week 87 - Look Up!

Friends and family Alooooha!
So this past week I arrived on Oahu. It's definitely a big change. Our area went from taking an hour and a half to drive across, to 15 minutes. Our ward had about 50 people at church yesterday. Our bishop asked us to focus our work with the less-actives to try and strengthen the ward. We don't have too many investigators right now, so we're working to try and find more people to teach. I definitely miss my old area, but am looking forward to good things in this area as well.
This past week when I was back in Kona we set a baptismal date with Kaneke! Sucks that I won't be there to see him be baptized, but I'm still excited for that day regardless. We taught him about the plan of salvation and the importance of following the example of Jesus Christ then committed him to a date. He told us he was already planning on being baptized and was wondering when we were gonna ask him. He's one of those people that's just prepared by the Lord.
A second experience I wanted to share also comes from back in Kona. We had the opportunity to clean the temple last monday. They shut it down for a couple of weeks and asked for missionary volunteers. My companion and I spent the majority of our time up in the attic of the temple painting. The first counselor in the temple presidency took us up in the inside of the roof to where the angel Moroni was. He told us we were part of a handful of people to ever see that part of the temple, so we felt really privileged! Also while we were cleaning there was this older brother cleaning the vents on the ceiling of the celestial room. He had this little lift that he would use to get up there and at one time was wheeling it across the room to clean the vents on the other side. It had a big metal beam that the basket rode on sticking up about 10 feet. While he was wheeling it he was so preoccupied with the wheels and guiding them in the right place that he completely forgot about the metal beam. He caught the chandelier and pulled the cart about 10 feet before someone noticed and frantically whispered "Brother Mahi, look up!". He recognized what was happening and got the beam out of the way but the chandelier was swinging back and forth like that viking ship ride at Lagoon. He was standing right under it with eyes as big as oranges not knowing what to do. Probably not the best place to be standing. Fortunately everything turned out alright and neither Brother Mahi or the chandelier were injured.
This experience really made me reflect. How often do we forget to look up? I feel like a lot of times in my life I get so caught up with the wheels, or smaller less important things in life that I forget to look up. When we become too busy with the small or unimportant details in life we can forget to look up to our Heavenly Father, to turn to Him and acknowledge the role He plays in our lives.
Love you all and take care!
-Elder Merrill

Monday, April 6, 2015

Week 86 - Getting transferred

Alooooha everyone!
It's been super crazy this week and I don't have a lot of time to email so sorry if this is short! First things first, I found out I'm getting transferred back to Oahu for the rest of my mission. I'll be in Wahiawa, which is pretty close to where I was in Waipahu. I'll miss it here in Kona, but I'm sure there's good times to come in Wahiawa as well.
Also conference was incredible. I really liked the talk from Elder Renlund of the 70 in the saturday afternoon session. He talked about how all that matters is where we're going. We can say "twas I, but tis not I". I think this message was so fitting with the Easter season, that Christ can continue to change our lives #BecauseHeLives! He doesn't care who we were, where we came from, or what we've done, all that matters to Him is where we are now and where we're going. I know that because He lives we can face any of this world's challenges with confidence, knowing that He will be there to help us every step of the way. Love you guys!
-Elder Merrill