Elder Merrill's Current Address

Elder Merrill's Current Address

Elder Nathaniel Merrill
Philippines Baguio Mission
PO Box 7 (po box for letters only)
Brgy: San Vicente East
Urdaneta City, Pangasinan 2428

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Transfer to Sta. Maria

   After only 9 weeks in Mapandan, I got transferred.  Kind of surprising but I got moved last Friday.  I am following up training again in Sta. Maria(that's is Santa not sta, but Sta. Maria is the real spelling), my companion is Elder Mortel from the philippines.   I took pictures but I left my camera at the apartment so I can't send them right now.  I am going more than one year now with only Filipino companions and I am going to go one year that every companion of mine is in their 1st area.  
       It is kind of a weird arrangement here, there is a ward and a group.  There are 4 Elders assigned to Sta. Maria ward, and then 2 of us are also assigned to Pataquid group.  So our area is a ward and a group, but there is another companionship to help us in the ward.   I gave a testimony in the Sta. Maria ward, and then in the Pataquid group I gave the opening prayer for sunday school, taught the lesson for priesthood, and gave a talk in Sacrament meeting.  In the group we had Sacrament meeting outside under a tree, the group leader is so cool.  The teaching we heard in the group was amazing.  My companion and I basically function as the councilors for the group leader but it is fun.
         I've already had a good time here in Sta. Maria with my companion.  On the first day we went teaching and found ourselves at the house of an old man.  I was a step behind my companion coming to the door and I didn't hear what the old man said, it turned out he said he was ready to be done being taught by the missionaries.  Well I, not hearing that, stepped up and asked if we could come inside and share a message with him.  We got in the house and started our lesson, I didn't know the situation but I felt inspired to change our lesson and share about charity in Moroni 7.  We shared a few scriptures in Moroni and talked to him about charity for a few minutes.  It was a great lesson and when we finished my companion said that my scripture was the perfect choice, he was surprised because I hadn't heard what the man said when we got to the door.  It's the Spirit.  To top  it off, the man came to church on Sunday.  That is what I like to see.  All in all it has been a good week.  It seems like forever ago I was in Mapandan but it was in reality only a few days ago.  Even though it was a surprising transfer I like my new area.

Monday, March 25, 2013

This week I found out that one person I baptized in Pozorrubio is planning on going on a mission.  I also found out that she was recently called as Young Women's President.  It's exciting to learn of the progress of recent converts.  I also got to work a day with my old companion and trainee Elder De Jesus.  It was really fun because I can see how much he has grown as  a missionary.  
       This week President Mortenson attended our district training.  It was really fun, but when I learned about it I was just a little intimidated.  I realized I would just have to do what I had planned to do and it turned out to be great.  Afterwards he gave us a presentation about how the Mapandan and Mangaldan districts are doing with their goals.  He gave us a lot of help. (President Mortenson is the first councilor in the mission presidency and is amazing.)
       My companion, Elder Marafina, has holes in his shoes right now.  He isn't very happy about having holes in shoes but is dealing with it until P-day (today).   Well if you have holes in your shoes it isn't very fun to walk in water.  Yesterday as we were leaving the apartment the clouds were very dark and it very much looked like it was going to rain.  We prayed that it would not rain and then took our umbrellas with us as we went to work.  Well the clouds remained dark and we had a great day.  We got home at night said a prayer and started our nightly planning and then it started to rain.  So my companion didn't have to deal with  walking through water because it didn't rain while we were walking.  We also had a little 8 year old girl pray at the end of one lesson and she prayed for God to keep the missionaries (us) safe from biting dogs.  I am happy to report no one here has been bitten by dogs recently.  Little kids give great prayers.  
        Right now we have 2 children who are investigators.  We have Jeffrey (10) and Olivia (9) in 2 different part member families.  It is an interesting experience teaching to children.  Sometimes you think they don't understand or won't understand what they need to but they seem to get just as easily as anyone else.  We thought Olivia didn't pay very much attention, but on our return visit she had a notebook and I noticed inside she had written all the scriptures we had shared to her as well as the word of wisdom.  They are both very intelligent children.  Jeffrey loves to make jokes.  No lesson is boring.  He says very funny things but at the same time is neither rude nor vulgar.  It is fairly exciting to be teaching those 2 part member families.  We have another less active family with 7 children.  The Parayno family came to church for the first time yesterday with their children.  We were so excited to see them, it was also fun to see that they took up an entire row in Sacrament meeting.  
           We are doing well in Mapandan right now.  

                                                                           Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

                                                                         Philippines Baguio Mission

Sunday, March 17, 2013

So this week had some interesting things happen.    One is that we met a less active named Pedro and learned that he had been hit by a grenade.  He was in the wrong place at the wrong time and a grenade exploded in front of him.  Strange enough you can't even tell.  He barely even got hurt.
  We met another less active named Nida.  She was really nice and it seemed like she would definitely be coming back to church.  Well it turns out she is under house arrest and cannot leave or she will get a 2000 peso fine.  It's sad because she seemed really excited when we went over.  Not everything that happened was that weird though.  We have one returning member named Liza and she has come to church 5 times now.  She is just a great find because she started coming to church immediately and has kept coming.  Now she is interested to go the temple in May with the ward.  We also extended a baptism date for her daughter this week, who is 9, on April 6th.  Sister Liza knew that April 6 was the day the church was founded and was excited for that day for her daughter.
 We also have a family we are teaching right now with a lot of little kids so we wanted to make it fun for them.  For our lesson we did a scripture chase.  Each child had a Book of Mormon and we would tell them a page number, the first child to find the page number reads the scripture for that page (all the scriptures were about going to church) and the child also gets a point.  Whoever has the most points at the end gets to say the closing prayer.  They were super excited about this, even though none of them are very good at reading.  Well after the game they understood a lot more about going to church, it was pretty successful.  I don't know very many situations where you can make the prizes for a game reading a scripture and saying a prayer but they enjoyed it a lot.
   I think I mentioned that we walk a lot in Mapandan, I think we broke the daily record this week.  We started from our home and walked all the way to one end of our area.  We had an appointment out there and when we were just getting close to the house we saw them leave.  We talked to the people in that area, and we did meet some nice people, but didn't get to teach.  We had planned to take a tryke to our next appointment, but due to our misfortune there were none to be had which meant we walked literally to the other end of our area.  I don't think you can walk very much farther in one day in Mapandan than we did that day.  That day we also saw a giant mango tree.  I took a picture.  In the background is a 2 story building.  We also got a referral the next day and we were told the person lives near the giant mango tree so it was good we found the tree because now we can go teach someone that lives over there.


                                                                          Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill
                                                                        Philippines Baguio Mission

March 10th, 2013

This week went well.  We worked this week with the Senior Couple missionaries Elder and Sister Dinkel.  They took pictures and said they'd post them on their blog.  I think it is Bradvalarie.blogspot.com  You can go look at that if you'd like.  I went on exchanges twice this week and in those 2 days I got 18 lessons taught.  It was 2 super productive days and it was really fun to have those days on exchanges as well. 

umm.... I have no time left....Sorry


                                                                           Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill
                                                                         Philippines Baguio Mission

Monday, March 4, 2013

There is one interesting scripture that I really liked that I read this week.  It is Mormon 4:8.  The reason it is interesting is because it says that the Nephites went forth 'in their own might''. Now compare that to the many times in the Book of Mormon where they went forth 'In the strength of the Lord'.  We sometimes find ourselves living our lives in our own might relying on our own strength.  There isn't any reason to, we can always go forth in the strength of the Lord if we are humble enough to accept it and of course ask seek and knock.
      This week went well.  Yesterday we passed a huge house.  One of those houses that you walk by and just know those people are rich.  We weren't going anywhere so I told my companion lets go there... he thought I was joking.  Well we started to walk toward this house that has a huge driveway, where they can see you coming from what seems like a mile away, and as we walked up there seemed to be no one there.  Right as we got up to their porch area someone came out and I (having nothing better to say I guess) said 'We are missionaries and would like to share a message to about Jesus Christ' (That is my first 'door approach'.  I talk to everyone I meet on the street but I haven't ever  gone 'tracting'  It's different talking to people on the street) Well he looked surprised but said that was fine.  We taught a short lesson to a young couple on that porch about the Atonement and they just loved it.  At the end of the lesson they went inside and asked us to wait a moment for their return. Upon their return they offered us money and thanked us for teaching them about Jesus.  They were even more shocked when we didn't accept their money but told them all we wanted was to sincerely help them.  It was fun.  I am excited as well to go back to that big house to teach again.  
   I found out this week that one of the investigator families in Lingayen was baptized.  This is what I said about finding that family    We have an area in Lingayen that I don't really like to go to.  We have very few people progressing over there and it is far away.  We were down to only one family over there that was really listening at all and we were going to go visit them.  They weren't home, and then we dropped by 3 or 4 other people we knew in that area who also were not home.  We were walking with still an hour and a half before our next appointment and I was thinking that if we didn't find someone to teach right now, I would probably never come back to this part of the area.  There seemed no reason to ever come back as it is the least productive area.  Well we saw a group of people and decided to talk to them.  We started talking to them and they all ran away except 2.  They turned out to be great.  We taught this investigator and she agreed with everything, then she gave her opinions and insights that were exactly right.  We taught about the Book of Mormon and she got it immediately.  She said ' Oh so the Bible has 2 testaments the New and the Old and the Book of Mormon is the 3rd'. Then she started reading the Book of Mormon.  When we went back she said she only read a little bit and then proceeded to give the summary of the entire section we left for her, and then read to us some of her favorite verses, which I would mention were near the end of her reading.  She prayed about it and said she's knows it's true.  That is just a great story.
  What I didn't mention there is that I was actually praying very hard and saying to God if there is anyone here that needs to be taught help us find them now or else I am never coming back to this area.  And of course the prayer would have been worthless if I hadn't opened my mouth to talk to the mother of what became an amazing investigator family.  

    This week we delayed another religions prayer meeting.  We met a nice woman on the street who agreed to let us teach her, but said that there would be a gathering at her house soon for a prayer meeting.  We  started teaching her at 3:30, the prayer meeting was supposed to start at 3:30.  As they weren't there yet we decided to go ahead and teach, but to make sure we taught a 'short and powerful' lesson.  As we were teaching the rest of the prayer meeting arrived, but unlike my expectations they didn't come and start talking to us or try to stop us.  Rather when they saw us they stopped about 50 meters away from the house and just stood there.  When we saw them standing there we were nearly finished so we finished up.  They didn't even approach the house until we had reached the point where they were standing.  I thought it was amusing.  Cristina, the person we taught, even invited us back to her home, next time we will probably avoid going at the time of the prayer meeting.  
   We are doing pretty good here in Mapandan.

                                                                           Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill
                                                                         Philippines Baguio Mission

Sunday, February 24, 2013

This week was good.  We found ourselves in Sta. Barbara this week.  Sta. Barbara is the next city over and is not even in our zone.  We were walking through fields looking for houses of less actives whose names we had in our directory.  We met a new person and introduced ourselves as the new missionaries in Mapandan.  He looked at us and said 'Mapandan!? this isn't Mapandan you're in Sta. Barbara'  So now we know exactly where the edge of our area is.  There are 5 areas that we border here;  Manaoag, Mangaldan, Sta. Barbara, San Jacinto and Urdaneta.  I have been to the edge of 3 of those five as of now.  I have walked into Manaoag, Mangaldan and Sta Barbara.  
Did I ever mention we walk a lot?  
     This week we prayed that we would be able to find a family to teach.  We have a lot of people we are teaching but they were either individuals or part member families.  We wanted to find an investigator family to teach. So while we were talking to everyone we met we saw very little results of any kind, people in Mapandan don't seem to care very much about religion, but we kept going.  We ended up teaching a part member family this week and while we were teaching their neighbor came over.  The neighbor's name is Alma and was quite interested in what we had to say.   We made a return appointment at their home and upon our return met the whole family.  It turns out that they are super receptive and looking for ways to help their children.  We taught the first lesson and extended the invitation to be baptized.  The second lesson over there we focused on how they can know and then gave them a baptismal date.  They accepted this invitation.
       This week we also taught a less active with a health problem.  I don't really know what the problem is but it is very problematic.  We explained very clearly about faith and that it means that we don't know what will happen, but as we trust God things will work out.  I told the Branch President that this Brother was going to come to church, no one really believed me.. but guess what he came. And he was the first one there.  He got there before the building was unlocked and waited for us to arrive.  Faith wins again.
    It has been a pretty fun week.  

                                                                           Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill
                                                                         Philippines Baguio Mission

Monday, February 18, 2013

Philippines Baguio Mission - soon to split

=)President Monahan says hello. He also says that he misses Orem, he lived there for a short time.  
Our internet connection is really bad.  Really bad.  Sorry
We had a good week though.   Yesterday we had inspired planning.  We were sitting in the home of a less active member and the Stake Young Woman President walk in.  She had with her the SA rep from our branch and her secretary.  When they came we started our lesson and taught with them.  After that lesson they asked us where we were headed and when we told them they said that was exactly where they were going.  So because of our inspired planning we taught 2 lessons with our Young Womens District President.  It was pretty fun.  
     We also found quite a few people to teach this week.  We found a lot of less actives that we didn't know yet and also a lot of investigators.  We went to one house that we had on a list and talked to the member who lived there.  She told us she got back only one week ago from Oman.  She has been abroad for almost 2 years and we showed up right when she got back.  We also found another member and felt inspired to teach about temples.  We started the lesson and then asked what she knew about temples. It turns out she is endowed she then talked for the next 20 minutes about how she used to go to the temple and about how she wants to go back.  She committed herself that she needed to get back to church and get back to the temple.  We literally didn't do any teaching.  We just started the lesson and she did the rest.  That was a Spirtualy inspired topic for our meeting that day. We contacted another less active who had surgery last month.  No one in the branch and come to visit her until us.  We tried to find one less active in the branch but when we came to his home he wasn't there.  We met a few of his cousins and we taught them.  One of them was really attentive the whole lesson.  When we pulled out a pamphlet she eagerly grabbed it.  She accepted the invitation to be baptized in that very lesson and told us when to come back to meet her husband so we can teach them both.    We have essentially been finding every name on the branch directory and talking to everyone and it is working out pretty good so far.  We also got every member in the Elders Quorum last Sunday to sign up for a day to come with us.  The next 2 weeks we always have fellow shippers.  Even the District President is going to work with us. In short, we are doing alright

                    Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill