Monday, May 25, 2015

Week 93 - Undercover Brother

What's up friends and family?!
We've had a good, but crazy week here. We replaced sisters so there's been a lot of complication and confusion that comes with that. For one almost all of the people that the sisters were working with are girls that are usually home by themselves when the sisters went to teach them so setting up appointments has been a challenge. Also neither of us know the area or really anyone in the branch so finding our way around has also been a struggle at times. But overall I really like it here. The members in the Honomu branch are super welcoming. Almost all of them came up and introduced themselves to us, as well as to anyone they didn't know. Perfect atmosphere for investigators. Also the priesthood brethren are pretty excited to be able to come out with us and do missionary work. I guess it's been about 6 years since the last time there were elders here.
Right now our investigators closest to baptism are three teenagers: Micah, Mekelah, and Makani. They were originally supposed to be baptized this past saturday, but their mom doesn't feel like they're ready for baptism yet and that they're kind of rushing into things so we're working on helping her see that baptism is just the starting point and the first step.
We're also working with this guy named Les and his wife Kina. Les is actually the father of one of the members in Honoka'a ward so I've been by before to teach him. He's come a really long way in that year and a half. Before he said our church would be the perfect church if we just didn't have the Book of Mormon, now he reads from the Book of Mormon almost every day and says that he knows that it's true! Also they've been coming to church every sunday. Word of Wisdom problems are really the only thing holding them back right now.
Something interesting and kind of funny was a talk that was given by the high councilor over missionary work in the stake yesterday in our sacrament meeting. He talked about how he saw the title for this movie a while ago called "Undercover Brother". Apparently he'd never seen the movie so he didn't know it wasn't church related at all and actually about a black cop going undercover, but his relation to the gospel was good. He asked how often do we as church members go undercover? He talked about how when he goes to the temple he used to change clothes and go shopping after, but now he just stays dressed up and people ask him why he's dressed the way he is, which then opens up an opportunity to share the gospel and a a little about the temple. So don't be an undercover brother! One of the scriptures I've come to love on my mission is Romans 1:16. It starts "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ" Love it! Don't be ashamed of the gospel, but rather share the happiness and blessings with others!
Love you guys and hope you have a great week.
Elder Merrill

Monday, May 18, 2015

Week 92 - Big Island Boy

So for starters some crazy news: I'm getting transferred back to Big Island! Because of our small our ward and boundary is one set of missionaries are going to cover both our ward and another one of the Wahiawa wards. I'm going to Hilo zone this time, but to the Honomu branch which is right next to Honoka'a! So hopefully I'll be able to drop by and say an official goodbye to some of the awesome members I met there. But I guess I'm just one Big Island boy and they can't keep me away! I've had some good times here in Wahiawa and met some cool families, but I'm excited to experience something new. I'll be the only missionary on all of Big Island that's going home, so that's kinda weird. It's also been awkward telling people that we're leaving. They'll be like "Oh transfers is coming up yeah?" Then we'll say yes and tell them it's this wednesday. Then they find out my companion's leaving and they're like "well at least you'll still be here Elder Merrill" and that's when it gets really awkward... So it's been another bitter sweet round of goodbyes.
We had an...interesting experience while doing service for these two old ladies who apparently don't have filters. We helped them clean up their yard and afterward were leaving a spiritual message with them. We got onto the topic of talking about our missions and one of the ladies told us "This mission is like a virgin for you folks, a new experience". Probably the most interesting way I've heard a mission described... 
We also had a really great talk given in church yesterday. A high councilman talked on the talk that President Monson gave this past general conference. I just want to echo his words about how important temple attendance is and how blessed we are to have so many in the world today! I know that Heavenly Father can give us the answers and comfort we need when we frequently attend the temple. I mean what more credible source can you have than the prophet right?
Well love you guys and take care!
Elder Merrill

Monday, May 11, 2015

Week 91 - Don't Worship Llama's

Aloha and Happy Mothers' Day!
I hope all you mothers had a great mothers' day and know how much you are appreciated. We visited a less-active member that really helped me realize the importance of my own mother. His birth mother and adoptive mother have both passed on already and he told us that he'd give anything to have them back, hug them, and tell them how much they meant to him on this Mothers' Day. It really put things into perspective and made me think about how grateful I am for my own mother and how much she has done for me.
In our ward we helped hand out roses to all the mothers in the chapel and took one with us to give to a less-active member later that day. The only problem is that rose endured 3 grueling hours of church, then baked in the sun for about a good 2 hours after that, so that by the time we got to the member's house the rose was all bent and droopy. It looked like a really sad rose, but hey it's the thought that counts yeah?
We're still focusing most of our efforts on less-actives in our area. We have a few families that are pretty close to coming back, but aren't quite ready to take that step. However, we do have 2 families that have started coming back to church so that's something to be excited about! 
We found this group of kids that we've been teaching every week. They're about 8-11 years old so our lessons are pretty fun with them. We taught them the 10 commandments with hand signs. The second commandment we made like a cow head with our hands to represent no graven images, but I guess to them it looked more like a llama...So if you asked them they'd tell you the second commandment is "don't worship anything other than God, especially llamas!". We have a lot of fun teaching them, now we just have to worry about getting them and their parents to church.
I don't really know what else to talk about since I skyped my family yesterday so this email's going to be kind of short, but take care and don't worship llamas!
Elder Merrill

Monday, May 4, 2015

Week 90 - mahALOHAwaii

That title probably didn't make much sense but I saw it on the back windshield of a car and thought it was pretty cool. Things are pretty good here in Wahiawa. It rains every day, people say the weather's like Seattle. It's weird because Hawaii's usually sunshine and rainbows, but here it's all dark clouds and rain storms. 
Like I've mentioned before we've been working with a lot of less-active members. One of the ladies we're teaching is Sister Sugai. She hasn't been to church since she was 18 and is 50 something now. Her husband is a non-member but she told us that she wanted her grandkids to come to church because they're approaching baptism age. She has word of wisdom issues so she told us that she doesn't feel like she's worthy to go to church because she keeps trying to stop, but can't seem to kick the habit. We helped her realize that church is like a hospital. Lots of people think that church is for perfect people, but really everyone at church needs help in one way or another. We go to receive help and get answers, not because we already know all the answers. We told her that if someone smells like smoke in church, what better place for them to be! Also that God doesn't care how many times we fall, it's the times that we get back up that are important to Him. She said she'd come to church this next week so we're praying that she'll come!
Another family we're working with is the Losoncy family. The dad is a non-member and the kids just got baptized about a year ago. The mom got offended by one of the members of the ward and as a result neither her nor the kids have been attending church. One night we were at dinner with them and were talking about church. Her little 5 year old son told her that they needed to go to church and she told him "mommy has a problem with some of the people at church". So I asked her who she went to church for, and she said God. Then I asked her if she was going to church for God, why was she letting people other than Him keep her from going to church. She agreed and said she'd come to church this next week!
So some good work going on and hoping for even more in the future! Take care and Aloooooha!
-Elder Merrill