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, December 30, 2012

December, 31 2012

I had hoped to send some pictures home right now, but it turns out I didn't bring a card reader so I can't.  We took a lot of pictures this week.
This week was fun having Christmas and all.  We bought a lot of little things and gave them children in families we are teaching.  We also gave families December editions of the Liahona in Tagalog and we gave away a few movies(like The Testaments)  It was a good Christmas.  We also attended the Birthday party of one member on Christmas eve.
   We have an investigator right now from Iglesia Ni Cristo.  The members are not allowed to have a bible or say prayers.  We talked about prayer and now they are saying prayers every night and have already related to us several great experiences about prayers.  One time we were praying as a companionship and I felt inspired to pray to help her with a certain problem. Later that day when we were teaching her that very problem came up as a concern.  It is great to be able to say with confidence to someone that you have prayed for them to help them with that specific concern.
     Saturday we baptized Jamaica.  I'll try to send pictures next week...I did the baptism and then Elder Sta.Ana the confirmation in church.  Everyone wanted me to say the baptism prayer in English and I fully intended to do so, but when I went to give the prayer, I forgot the wording in English... So I just did it in Tagalog.  It was a good experience for the family.  We had 2 other investigators at the baptism service, and after the baptism one of them said " Elders I'm next".  That   was pretty exciting to hear.  This is the longest it has taken me to get a baptism in an area and now we have baptisms lined up.  I'll probably only see about 3 more before I leave but my companion will finish the work for the rest.  We also have a lot of returning members.  Yesterday when church started about 1/4 persons there were people we were teaching.  
      Last Saturday, after Jamaica's baptism was the ward Christmas Party.  That was fun. And all of our investigators were there as well as the returning members.  Almost everyone we were teaching was there, except for people we just barely started teaching and a few other exceptions.   They really know how to party in the Philippines and even our investigators participated.  Another cool thing that happened at the party was that a member told us that Jamaica's countenance seemed brighter.  He asked us when she would be baptized and we told him this morning.  He concluded that must be the reason.  
      We had one great lesson yesterday with an investigator.  We explained to them very clearly about the Holy Ghost and his mission.  After we talked about how the Holy Ghost feels and what it means when you feel the Holy Ghost the eleven year old told us that she was feeling the Holy Ghost so it means what we were teaching must be true.  Another thing that happened, that I've never had happen, was that while we were teaching one lesson I just opened my scriptures and there was a perfect scripture.  Of course I use scriptures, and I've often felt inspiration for what scriptures to use, but this time I opened up, saw a scripture on the page that I wasn't familiar with and then shared it.  While I would not recommend simply opening the scriptures and sharing the first one you see, I would say that on occasion God can guide you in that very way.  
    New Years here is insane.  They have a ton of fireworks already, and  it's not new years yet.  It is very loud.  They have one firework that I've only heard about because it has been banned.  It is called the 'Goodbye Philippines'.  They say it cracks the cement.  All in all New Years is pretty fun.  We have an early curfew of 6 pm .

Have a good week, keep your head up, and smile.
                                                                           Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

December, 23rd 2012

I have a book that you might like to read.  I saw it at the house of a member and that was his assignment for his English class.  I read a few pages and thought it was great, then as Elder Sta.Ana was reading the Liahona conference addition he noticed the book was quoted by President Uchdorf.  'The Little Prince' by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.  
      We have had a pretty good week.  We have one great investigator right now named Eddie.  He heard the announcements in church and said he was going to attend all the activities they mentioned.  There was the Christmas party, a baptism and other activities.  One of them was a funeral, and he reaffirmed to us that he was definitely going to be there.  I didn't really know what to say to him.  He is going to the funeral and it will be a good experience I'm sure but I didn't think he'd attend that one.  The party yes, but the funeral I didn't expect.  I am by the way supposed to speak at that funeral. Anyway he is a good investigator.  It's interesting teaching because he is always busy.  What happens is we teach his wife at the place where she works sometime during the week and then they both come to church and then after church we teach them both together.  
       We had an experience this week in which we saw an investigators mind opened unto understanding.  We taught a very short lesson about the restoration to an investigator.  She understood very well and the Spirit was great.  When we showed her the picture of Heavenly Father and Jesus appearing to Joseph Smith she asked 'Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are 2 beings?'  We answered affirmatively and then she said 'I thought they were one' and then she just paused and thought for a while.  Then she said "you know that makes a lot more sense that they are 2'  And then she brought up bible scriptures that show they are two.  After using the bible scriptures she said she didn't know why she didn't realize that before.  It was interesting because as she was talking to us she was the one answering her own questions.  That lesson we also had her less active neighbor present, who answered most of her other questions.  Essentially all the questions were answered by the investigator or the less active in the lesson. 
     We taught another returning member family about Christmas this week.  We read them the Christmas story and talked about what Jesus wants from us.  Then we moved on and talked about what Mom would want from them for Christmas.  We eventually committed 2 little girls to give their mom a special gift this Christmas. We committed them to tell their mom 'I love you' every day.  Before we left too we made sure they told their mom 'I love you'. it was a pretty fun lesson. It felt good too.
    It is a little bit difficult right now because a lot of people are going out of town for Christmas.  Well not a lot, just a few but it includes some of our investigators which is hard.  We can't teach them and help them come to church when they aren't in town.  But overall it is great here in Lingayen. 

Keep your head up and smile,

Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

Monday, December 17, 2012

This week was a good week.  I think our Sacrament meeting attendance hit the highest it has been this year.  I know it's the highest I've seen it since I arrived. 197 It almost seemed like a fluke because last week was the lowest I've seen since I got to LIngayen.  I think that last week was more of a fluke than this week.  
    We are doing our part, and it is so exciting to see people coming to church.  One of my first weeks I was here I remember having one person in our Gospel Principles class.  I can remember thinking 'What am I going to tell the Gospel Principles teacher if next week no one comes."  Well now we are having 15-20 people every Sunday in our Gospel Principles classes.  It is pretty exciting for us.  It's a pretty good mix between returning members and investigators.  
    Last week was the Primary Program here, except they don't understand what a program is... I asked the Primary President before church how her preparation for the program was and she told me they didn't make programs they were just going to sing.  Then she asked me about 5 times she needed to go make a program.  I didn't know how to explain that a program and presentation were the same thing.  It was good though.  They sang and did a great job.  What was funny to me was that we had a 9 and a 10 year old investigator in the presentation.  They quoted scriptures and participated.  It's fun when investigators just become part of the ward.  We have some other teenage investigators that have parts in the nativity that the ward will do for the Christmas Party.  
      We have a lot of great investigators right now.  To be honest it seems like when I get to areas they are not doing to well, but then when I am getting ready to leave they are prospering.  We have several families that are coming back to church.  We are doing well at getting Fathers to come to church as well.  Fathers and men tend to be the hardest to convert, but right now they are coming back.  God has really touched Lingayen.  The evidence is here.  We have so many people keeping commitments right now.  So many members coming back to church.  Yesterday we found a Returned missionary that had drifted less active.  We talked about their mission and helped them remember the Gospel.  This is really a great area
Have a good week, keep your head up, and smile.
                                                                           Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

Sunday, December 9, 2012

   We have quite a few less actives coming back to church right now.  What happened is that we stopped teaching about 4 families back when I was with Elder Sagayno.  They were not progressing at all and had concerns that couldn't seem to be resolved.  We took a break and stopped teaching them for about a month.  We decided to start teaching them again and they missed us teaching them.  We got 4 promises to come to church.  Because none of these people  had said they would go to church back when we first taught them we were excited by their commitments, but knowing that promises don't always happen we were a little apprehensive.  That first week 3 of those families came to church, and last week the 4th came.  They all have seen the ward reaching out to them.  They all are excited about coming to church again.  It's always that first step.  Once they come to church once it is so easy for them to come the next week. (unless they get offended).  Speaking of offended, someone that Elder Sagayno and I helped get back got offended 2 weeks ago.  We haven't been able to teach because he's never been home but we did talk to some people and found out what happened.  It's sad, now we kind of have to start over.  He was so excited to go to the temple (in about a year) to be sealed to his wife (who is active).
      I found out this week that Elder De Jesus is training now.  It's really cool because now my trainee is training. He has come full circle.  We are teaching a guy that everyone is afraid of.  Now one wants to come with us to his house and they are amazed we teach him.  He is super cool though.  He always says he's super busy when we arrive and then invites us in to share.  Last time we arrived at 6:10 and he said he had to be somewhere at 6:00, but then asked us not to come back another day but rather just teach him anyway.  We have a lot of less actives that are progressing right now and some great investigators as well. 
Have a good week, keep your head up, and smile.
                                                                           Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

Monday, December 3, 2012

Well this week we filled our Gospel Principles class again.  It was great.  One of our investigators brought a friend to church because she liked it so much last week. We of course were happy with that.  
     This week we met a few really cool people.  We met one investigator that Elder Sta.Ana mentioned 'It's like she's already a member."  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.
        I have yet to actually encounter Jehovah's Witnesses (they are called Tasi [Tassy] here), but I always meet people that know them, or people that have been taught, but the most common is people whose children are being taught.  They tell me that the 'Tasi' come and teach the kids on the street and give them candy.  One father was super happy when we talked to him and said we were the first religious people to ever talk to him and not just the kids.  We have 3 families we are teaching that have said similar things.  All 3 families love that we have family focus.
      Another thing we have been doing as of late is that when our appointments fall through we go and teach ward missionaries.  These wonderful ward missionaries always seem to home and willing to listen, and then we share to them about how important it is that they do their assignments and visit their families.  They seem to be excited to visit and teach after we have talked with them. We are hoping to get that to become actual visiting  not just being excited to visit.
        We have a lot of people coming back as well.  Last week we helped a less active man come to church for the first time.  We went to his house and picked him up.  He saw his old friends and loved church. This week we didn't manage to teach him because he was never home.  So imagine our great surprise and excitement when we saw him walk into the chapel at church.  He came completely on his own.  People are coming back.  There are so many great experiences.
Have a good week, keep your head up, and smile.
                                                                           Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

Monday, November 26, 2012

I had a great week this week.  We got quite a bit done.
     Last week it was funny, we met an investigator I used to teach with Elder Sagayno.  They went to Manila so they we stopped teaching, but last Monday we saw them selling stuff at the Palenke so we said hi.  She was way excited to see us and quickly asked when we were coming to teach them again.  This is the investigator that I may have mentioned before that tried to go to church but couldn't find the church so just sat in front of the Capitol building for an hour.  Well we were excited for them.
    This week also we filled the Gospel Principles class.  We had investigators and less actives it was great.  Our ward missionaries gave us a cheer, there were just so many people.  A bunch of those people were also coming to church for the very first time so it was even more exciting.  Yesterday was just a good day.  Our schedule yesterday was pretty random and sporadic, during church I asked all the ward missionaries whom they know that is less active that we should visit.  Then in the afternoon we took one ward missionary with us and went and contacted as many as we could.  We ended up finding 3 less active families that seemed super receptive.  Also yesterday we got a new investigator family.  We taught them about the Restoration and then invited them to be baptized, and then it got super intense.  After the baptism invitation they started asking so many questions and it was great.  They were asking weird questions that I have never been asked as a missionary.  Can your religion save you? etc.  I asked them Do you need to be baptized? Reply Yes.  Can just anyone baptize you? No. Why not? You need authority. Whose Authority? Jesus'.  Here is the opportunity to be baptized by the authority of the Priesthood of God, which authority comes from Jesus Christ.  That's something like how it went.  It was really intense and they all had really strong commitments to find out for themselves if this was true.  
        Also about new invetigators, we taught a daughter and father, the father whom we'd met before the daughter who is grown.  The daughter asked us 'How did you even get my dad to listen to you? he hates religious stuff"  Well that is the powerful change that the Gospel brings into lives.  We are finding people right now that are super prepared. It is so great to see that God is always getting people ready to join his church.  God is working and will not stop, and he loves the Philippines. I love you and will write again next week. 

Have a good week, keep your head up, and smile.
                                                                           Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

Sunday, November 18, 2012

This week has been a pretty good week.
     We found a pretty good investigator this week.  After we taught she just kept saying 'It'so true" and things like that.  When we came back she told us she is reading the Book of Mormon and sharing with her neighbors what she's been learning.  She also told us that she had a dream that people were going to come teach her the Gospel soon. We told her that she needed to be baptized, she asked us when.  She came to church too.  It's just one of those awesome situations. There is another investigator that we preached by the way to about a month ago.  She was so nice, but kept missing the return appointments we'd set.  I was pretty much ready to not try again when we saw her on the street and she said "Hey you guys didn't come".  I was shocked, because we did indeed come (actually when we came she wasn't there and we taught someone else nearby who was awesome as well... that person has a baptism date now next month).  Well it turned out she got her days mixed up, she waited for us on Thursday when she thought it was Wednesday.  So we set a return appointment again... and when we finally taught her she is way cool.  She was taught before and knows a ton of members.  The missionaries stopped teaching her because they got pulled out back then.  She remembered Joseph Smith and knew a ton.  She even said that she would probably be our fellow shipper now if the missionaries didn't stop teaching her back then. (May or may not be true but it was cool)  We taught her what the word "restoration" meant and then she kept saying this is "my restoration to the Gospel".
      We also found some less actives that in my opinion should not have been baptized.  Two girls now age 16 and 14 were baptized without their family when they were 11 and 9.  What happened is they went to church with Grandma, and then got baptized, but then the family moved and with no support they went less active.  Well we found them, and we started to teach them.  They are pretty cool.  The next day some ward members approached us and asked if we could teach and baptize their 10 and 9 year old granddaughters who always came to church but whose parents weren't members.  After seeing a potential long term effect the day before I just couldn't do it.
      I haven't yet encountered any Jehovah's witness missionaries, but this week we found their entire teaching pool.  We found a ton of people that are being taught by the witnesses and funny enough all them agreed to meet with us.  Actually we already have several that stopped meeting with the witnesses after we taught.  I told Elder Sta.Ana that's what happens when you teach "With Power and Authority" and not "teaching for doctrine the philosophies of men".  
    I had some cool pictures to send but this computer doesn't want to let you have them... Sorry.  Congrats to Amanda going to Argentina on her mission.

Have a good week, keep your head up, and smile.
                                                                           Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A lot of things happened this week.    The picture is from last week and is me with Elder Sta.Ana and Elder De Jesus.  We got to go to Urdaneta for New Missionary Training.  That was pretty exciting.  It is always good to get to talk to President Monahan.  He is an amazing missionary.
   This week there was one interesting experience that I would like to highlight.  We went and taught a Sister that has really only recently become less active.  The first thing I noticed was that the whole atmosphere at the house is different than the first time I ever went there.  The Spirit is pretty much gone.  It just had a different feeling.  It has been about 2 months since she came to church.  I asked her the question ' what changes have you noticed in your life since you stopped going to church' she said none.  I then pointed out to her what I noticed.  The negative changes I could see in her, and about the atmosphere change in her home.  She told me 'Elder that is just probably because you had the Spirit with you back then, but there wasn't really more Spirit in my home.'  She then insisted that she was happier now.  I asked her when the last time she smiled was... and I pointed out that until today I've never seen her without a smile on her face.  We taught her a short lesson and brought the Spirit into her home.  After we finished she finally started to understand.  She said "Elder earlier you asked me what changed while now I know.'   And then she started talking about how she has started swearing again, and how it's harder to resist temptation and many other things that has happened since she stopped coming to church.  She reminded me of the statement of Nephi that people are carefully led to hell.  She didn't even notice these negative changes until we pointed them out, and she even at first refused to admit those negative changes that had happened.  It was a very interesting experience.  Sometimes the easiest time to see the blessings of the Gospel is when you see the effect of their departure.  On the up side she said she wants to come back.
I am sorry this is a short letter.  There are many more happier experiences as well, but this one is the most instructive.

Have a good week, keep your head up, and smile.
                                                                          Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

Sunday, November 4, 2012

       So this week I got my new companion.  I am training Elder Sta.Ana.  Which is pronounced Santa Ana. like saint.  Essentially I train people with very religious double names.  De Jesus, Sta.Ana... I believe they are the only two like that in the mission.  Elder Sta.Ana is from Bicol region and is very good.  Also everyone in Bicol knows how to cook and Elder Sta.Ana is no exception. Bicol is also famous for liking to eat spicy food so we shall probably be eating hot foods this transfer.  I am pretty excited to work with him and for this transfer in general.  It will be a good transfer.  I would send some pictures but I forgot my card reader so sorry.          At transfer meeting I saw the missionaries from Pozorrubio and asked them about my investigators over there.  They told me that some of them are being baptized soon so I am excited for them.  There is one family I found in Pozorrubio that was just amazing, but had a ton of trials.  They were progressing when I left and I knew they'd get baptized, well now they finally are, it's pretty exciting for me.  

       This week was also very good.  The last few transfers we had a lot of people coming to church but not as many that consistently come.  Now we have a pretty good pool of investigators and less actives coming to church, and of course others as well that we hope will become regulars.  It's kind of nice though to have people you can really depend on to come.  We have a lot of people that are returning to church as well as a lot of people that should be baptized soon.  
       There is a street in our area called New Street, and this week we got 5 referrals all for people on New Street.  We have been up and down that street teaching a ton of people.  We met some less actives there, taught some new investigators it has been pretty successful.  The other thing that I've noticed is  that a lot of the youth seem to have an increasing desire to serve missions.  While many have always wanted to, most of the mission age had stated that they will finish school first.  Now we have 5 that are planning on leaving in January.  Before there was 1 so we are pretty excited for them.   We are looking forward to a good transfer here in Lingayen.  I am excited and Elder Sta.Ana is a great companion.
Have a good week, keep your head up, and smile.
                                             Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

Monday, October 29, 2012

I am Training again!!!!! I am pretty excited.  I went from training to follow up training to training again, so I have pretty much just been working with new missionaries for most of my mission.  My whole batch of Americans are training to so it will be pretty exciting.  My guess is that I will train an American because there are 14 coming in.  (And 5 Filipinos, and 2 from Pakistan.)  
   We have some great investigators that continue to progress.  We actually played basketball this morning with Reymon (who is going to be baptized next month) and it turns out he is way better than us.  This last week we found and gave a baptismal date to May.  May is 19 and she is the sister of one of our other Investigators.  What happened is that she suddenly moved back home to live with her mom (a returning less active) and she is way receptive.  She came to church yesterday and sat with her sister Jamaica in our investigator class.  Our Gospel principles teacher is pretty amazing by the way.  
     This week we were walking down a street of probably the most stiff necked people in Lingayen.  I swear everyone on this street did not want anything to do with us, and at that point all we were doing was looking for a person that lived there.  Well we were walking away after talking to a super mean woman (I hope that she was just having a bad day and isn't that mean to everyone always, because she was really grouchy) anyway as we were walking we heard someone say Elders.  So we looked at this house that's doors were closed and looked like nobody was home.  We walked to the house and there was some little kids.  They said that missionaries used to come to their house, but then the family went to Manila.  Well now they're back, and so are the missionaries, here to teach them again.  
     Speaking of finding through children, last week we taught a group of kids on the street how to pray.  I may have mentioned that.  A few days ago we went and contacted the families of most of those kids.  We've taught one family, have appointments with a few others, but yesterday something completely unexpected happened.  A large group of our children came to church.  Not with their parents (hopefully next time) but just the kids.  We filled the primary...much to the 'delight' of the primary teacher.  The kids came to church, and were not 'too rowdy'.  I did not expect them to come, we did invite them, but they're kids (oldest is 12) and we didn't expect much.  This gives us a little more initiative to be sure and follow up on their families.  
      Right now we have two less active families in the hospital.  Julieann has dengue fever, and they don't know why Gilbert is in the hospital, or rather what his sickness is.  Both families are progressing, but of course neither came to church as both have children in the hospital.  Actually Ritche, Julieann's brother did come to church.  
     We have another returning less active right now who told us he wants to serve a mission.  He really doesn't know what he needs to do but we will help him get out there.  
Have a good week, keep your head up, and smile.
                                                                           Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

Sunday, October 21, 2012

      We have a couple really progressing investigators right now.  Funny thing is, we haven't been able to teach our progressing investigators very much.  That is Tyson who is never home. And the Mendoza family who are also rarely home. They are always not home, or busy(and when I say busy I mean really busy not the we just want you to go away busy.)  Whenever we see them, which seems usually to be as we are walking and we see them somewhere, we invite them to come to church, and guess what, they do.  So they are coming to church, they just only get taught on average once a week.
    Yesterday at church our Gospel Principles teacher didn't show up, which meant I had to teach it.  That was fun, but I miss our Gospel Principles teacher, she is really good plus I feel like the investigators should get to learn from someone other than the missionaries once in a while.  We also had a lot of people come to church yesterday.  We had the children, of a family we used to teach come to church.  That family wasn't progressing so we stopped going to them, well the kids got the idea and decided to come to church to ask us to come teach them again. We taught and the family said that in two weeks they will all come to church.  They told us that straight up when we arrived, we asked what about next week, they say they are busy next week, but in two weeks... Well I think they will really come because they decided that on their own before we got there.  We had another member who is often late show up at church before we did.
We were there at 810 and saw Julie Ann and her mom already there.  To top it off they were sick.  Finally I figured out why they were there, Julie Ann was saying the prayer in Sacrament meeting.  Because they were sick they left right after Sacrament meeting, but it is good to see people keep commitments.  
         I also worked with Elder Adams this week on exchanges.  Elder Adams is only 3 weeks in the field.  He is really good.  He doesn't speak Tagalog too well yet but he is pretty good.  It is always fun to work with new missionaries, it kind of reminds you of your own first days as a missionary.  Anyway with him we found this one lady who didn't seem that interested in the gospel. I pulled out the plan of salvation pamphlet and said it answers the questions of where we come from, our purpose in life and where we go after this life.  Elder Adams asked her "Can you answer those questions for us.'  She said she didn't know the answers so we asked which one she most wanted to know.  Then we taught her a wonderful little lesson about Our purpose in life.  She was very nice and we will go back.  It was a pretty fun lesson though.  We are doing well.

Have a good week, keep your head up, and smile.
                                             Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Well this week we had one interesting and good experience.  We have an investigator that is doing well and progressing and has a baptismal date, but over the course of this week we were not able to contact him, not even once.  Then yesterday as we were waiting for investigators and less actives outside the church before conference, here he came riding on his scooter.  We of course were very excited.  He will definitely be baptized.  
        Conference was amazing.  It was a little different watching it in Tagalog. We didn't watch every session in Tagalog, but we did see some of them.  Tagalog is fun, and the investigators actually understand it.  It does add a new dimension of the need to pay attention, and sometimes they use 'napakalalim salita' or really deep words.  My companion Elder Sagayno even noted that.  It depended on the talk and the speaker though. I thought they had some really good music as well. I already downloaded the music to listen to it later.  
     This week we had good referrals.  We got a referral from the Bishop of another ward.  We were teaching, and he saw us and told us to come to a house after we were done.  We went to this house which turned out to be his mother in law's house.  We talked with them for a while and then asked to share a lesson.  We shared a short but quite powerful lesson and then (I think a little to the Bishop's surprise) we invited them to be baptized and they accepted.  
     I went on exchanges this week with my Zone leaders, this is the first time in a long time that I have worked in another missionaries area. For whatever reason it seems I always work in my own area. So in the Zone leaders area I met one sister that has been a member for a super long time, she was once the relief society president and has had many other callings before the wards were split.  Once back in my own area I realized that almost every less active knows her. Less actives ask about people they know, and if those people are still at church.  Now I know one of the people that they almost always say, I just never recognized it before because I didn't know the woman.  
        It's been good I think thats all for now.
Have a good week, keep your head up, and smile.
                                             Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

Monday, October 8, 2012

I hope you all enjoyed General Conference.  I am excited to see it but will have to wait until Saturday and Sunday of this week.  
         This week we had some good success with finding.  It's easy to find people to teach, but that doesn't always mean those people will progress.  This week we found people that really seem 'elect'.  We had one investigator ask 'Do you guys meet somewhere?'  'Where is it, can I come?'   Well yes, yes you can.  We found another less active that we met Saturday and she showed up on Sunday Morning with her whole family.  We found another investigator who said I'll just go to church with my neighbor (less active).  Then the Investigator took the entire less active family to church.  Our other investigator not only went to church but also took the initiative to go to the ward activities that we told him about.  All these people are just showing up in one week.
        We also taught this one old man named Oscar again.  After the first lesson with Oscar I didn't think we'd ever go back, he told us he would never come to church and would never pray, but one day we ended up with no appointment and near his house so we dropped by to teach him again.  Surprisingly he let us in, and he understood very well. We told him that the book of Mormon has the account of Jesus in the America's he said well of course they would write about it if Jesus came.  At the end of the lesson he even prayed, and further he agreed to pray about the Book of Mormon.  Elder Sagayno said 'well maybe he forgot about never praying'.   We had another less active named Bobby who is really shy and doesn't want to pray.  Last week we put him on our schedule as a back up plan because he is always gone, so even though we told him we'd be coming we didn't make it.  This week we dropped by and taught him, we was concerned that we were mad at him because he didn't pray in our last lesson and then didn't come.  Oh he is such a sweet innocent and childlike person in all the best ways.  We assured him we were very much not mad and expressed our love for him, and then he even prayed at the end.  I think he prayed because he wants us to keep coming back.  He is a very sweet man.  
Have a good week, keep your head up, and smile.
                                                                           Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

Monday, October 1, 2012

          This week was another good week.  We met an active member from another ward in Lingayen this week and as we were talking she said she had a brother in our ward boundaries.  We found her brother Tyson and started teaching him.  After the first lesson we challenged him to be baptized and he accepted, and after the second we invited him to come to church.  Well he came to church and knows some of the people there as well.  It was just a great referral we are so glad that we found him.  We found another investigator that is the referral from a referral from a referral of a less active.  The less active is not very interested in returning, neither was her referral, or even her referral, but now... we have found someone who is interested in our message.  I saw almost the best reaction I've seen from someone I've taught when Elder Sagayno told them God had a telephone and you could call him. Our investigator was super excited and very enthusiastically asked how they could talk to God.  Elder Sagayno then explained that all you had to do was pray. Our investigators were very willing to pray after that.  

       We are also teaching the Victorio family, they are active, but the Bishop asked if we could teach them because they are preparing for the Temple.  It is really cool to see their family.  I see them as an example of where the people I am teaching can be in a short time if they hearken unto our message.  It is pretty exciting.  
Right now I am trying to help the less actives remember their spiritual experiences, or have those experiences.  There are a lot of less actives that say they've never prayed and asked if the Book of Mormon was true.  When times become hard people must rely on personal spiritual experiences to stay active, so for less actives either they don't have those experiences or they don't remember them to rely on them.  Anyway thats what I'm up to and it is going well.  I will write again of course next week.  Sorry it's short
Have a good week, keep your head up, and smile.
                                             Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

Monday, September 24, 2012

September 24th, 2012

    Today I am writing from Dagupan, we went there to get some things we couldn't find in Lingayen.  It is a busy city.  Anyway we found tons of new people this week.  We found this one really nice family, but it turns out they can't read, so they are not reading the Book of Mormon.  (well actually one is pretending, he won't admit he can't read and just makes stuff up if we ask him to read a scripture.) 
      We found a lady this week that used to wash clothes for the missionaries way back when. This women was endowed before and just slowly went inactive.  She is so nice to us.  She is pretty excited to see us when we come over.  She also told us she wants to come to church again.  We will keep working with her, she also has a lot of inactive children and thus non member grandchildren.  One less active man we've been teaching Brother Randy has come to church for a few weeks now.  He is just really determined to go to church now.  I guess in the first few lessons we stressed it enough and he has got it down.  Now if we ask a question, just about any question (Why is the atonement important?) he will bring up going to church. (Well it means I can be clean again, but I gotta just keep going to church)  He is a pretty cool guy. 
     This week is family week.  I think it is supposed to be a nationally recognized thing, but it seems to me only our church is actually doing anything for family week.  I think you can see the gradual degrade of the importance of families in the worlds eyes, but that the church continues to uphold the family values. 
      Thats all I really have time for today sorry.  Oh wait.  I got a letter that said my family should update my blog more often.  Maybe dad should do it.  You might have to teach him how first, but he would definitely be consistent. 

Have a good week, keep your head up, and smile.
                                                                           Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

Sunday, September 16, 2012

This week a general authority came to our mission.  I think I already mentioned that he would come, but Elder Ian S. Ardern of the Seventy came.  He is awesome.  
He is such a good speaker and such a funny guy.  He is in the Presidency of the Philippines area. (The President is Micheal John U. Teh, who happens to be the youngest general authority in the church.)  Elder Ardern is from New Zealand and is really cool.  One of the things that he did was to pick 3 random missionaries to give spiritual thoughts.  He announced that he was going to choose a few missionaries to give a scripture and then points to me and says how about this missionary here, with the blue tie.  Well I was sitting in the front and center so I guess that is what I get.  I went up and stood next to Elder Ardern and just talked to him for a few minutes.  Even though we were standing at the pulpit we were just talking, he asked my name and few other things.  Then he told me to share my scripture and expound it for the other missionaries. I chose Mosiah 15:7 and I focused on the idea that we need to let our wills be swallowed up in the will of the Father.  I talked about what that meant and how we could do it and so forth for a few minutes, then Elder Ardern stood back up, further expounded my scripture and my ideas.  Then he asked me a few more questions about how I do missionary work.  He also had me quote 1 Nephi 3:7, which he used as an example of someone whose will was 'swallowed up' by the will of the Father. (I was glad I was able to quote that.)  Then I was done and he called another missionary.  Later in different talks by Sister Ardern and President Monahan they referenced my scripture as well.  
              It was a good Tri-zone conference.  It was in Dagupan City which is super crowded.  I don't really want to be assigned over there.  I hear it's really bad when it rains as well.  The rainy season is still going on, although it hasn't rained in about 3 days.  It lasts until December and the biggest Baguios they say are often in Septmeber, but it's been a pretty quite month so far.  This week most of our progressing investigators did not come to church.  The ones who usually come didn't.  But we had this one part member family come that no one thought would come.  Their house is the second furthest house I have taught at in this area.  It is about as far away as you can get and still be in this ward.  They are in an area called Aplaya, that we only go to once a week.  We went to them once, and they came to church.  I was way excited to see them at church.  Our ward here does a great job at fellowshipping people that show up, it's great.  Everyone just loves the newcomer.  I don't really have any time left so that's all I can really say right now. 
        There is a chance me or my companion may transfer this week, we don't know yet but the transfer day is Friday so I may have a new companion or area next week.  We shall see.   

Have a good week, keep your head up, and smile.
                                             Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

September 10th

We had a good week this week.  Next week will be good too.           Today Elder Ardern and his wife start their mission tour.  They are touring our mission for a week and are going to work with, study with, and teach with missionaries.  Elder Ardern is in the Philippines area presidency and spoke last October conference.  (He is British and talked about  A Time to Prepare.)  We are also going to have a conference where he is going to speak it will be fun.

        We have this one less active that really doesn't want to be taught.  What she does though isn't so bad.  Every time we go over there she grabs the nearest neighbour and says here teach this person instead.  Every time we go there we meet new investigators and many of them have been pretty receptive to us.   Our less active is excited as well to come to those lessons and bear testimony so it's pretty good lessons.  We do need to find our less active's concern though and help her come back to church.  She does seem pretty willing to come back.  We had another less active family that came to church for the first time yesterday.  We were very excited.    This family was really active before and just gradually fell away.  Like many do they said it was just really hard to come back, especially the first day back.  But when they came in I know they felt welcome because this amazing ward just fellowshipped them immediately.  There were so many members there to help them feel comfortable is was so good.  It's hard for a missionary when the people they help get to church aren't received well.  
      We have one family that has a little girl named Darling age 11.  This family is less active and doesn't come to church, but Darling hasn't been baptised yet.  Well we didn't think our teaching was having any effect over there, but it does.  At least a little.  Yesterday Darling showed up to church with one of her friends (neighbour who is not a member.)  So although no one else is coming, we have the youngest member of the family.  Maybe she can be the gateway to help her whole family return to church.  It's really cool sometimes to see the spiritual strength of kids.  It's sad to see them need that strength, but it is cool to see it. I should also mention that the family that came for a baby blessing last week came again.  We were excited.  They said that it is easier to come the second time to church.  We also had another less active sing a special musical number.  (Guess who was asked to accompany her about a minute before she sang.)   But we were pleased to see that she had excepted that small assignment   

          I went on exchanges with the District leader this week.  It was really fun, but there was about a foot of water.  As we were wading through the water for a while a rock fell into my shoe.  I thought I could wait but then I decided to take it out right then.  I stopped and took off my shoe and went to dump out my rock, but to my surprise... I discovered a frog.  There was a frog in my shoe.  Now I don't think that has ever happened to any of you.  If it has, good for you. 
Have a good week, keep your head up, and smile.
                                                                           Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

Monday, September 3, 2012

Septemer 3rd, 2012

This week was a good week.  How many letters do I start that way? Well it's true every time.  This week we got 20 less actives at church.  We also started teaching a few families that are preparing to enter the Temple.  They aren't less active, but we visit them once a week and can definitely help strengthen them to prepare for the Temple.  
Another thing that we did this week is that we went to every less active that has a baby that hasn't been blesses and taught them about children.  Being fast Sunday it means you can bless a baby and it seems that for most less actives they just need a push to get over the edge and go to church and after that they do pretty well.    So we went and taught from 3rd Nephi 17 about bringing the children to Jesus and Jesus blessing them.  We only ended up having one baby blessing yesterday, but it was good to see at least one new less active come to church. We got a lot of new investigators this week as well.  What we have been doing is instead of teaching less actives is using the less actives as fellowshippers and teaching the friends of our less actives.  Less actives feel the spirit that once blessed their lives and they also testify of the truth to their friend, they also get the benefit of the doctrine we teach.  It has worked pretty well, depends on the less active though.  We have to brief the less active beforehand and also be careful that they don't teach false doctrine.  We had one experience though that was just Golden.  We were at the house of a less active to teach and her friend came over.  Our less active invited her friend to come and listen to the missionaries.  We taught a good lesson and then guess what.  We didn't invite her to come to church.  Our less active fellowshipper beat us to it.  She invited he friend to come to church with her.  Just Golden.  Get a less active and an investigator to come to church.  Essentially we do our investigator finding through less actives.  

     We found another investigator couple this week that is just great.  They are cousins of a less active and happened to be there when we went over.  The only problem with them is they don't live in our area.  They were very receptive, but when we asked if we could go to their house they said they'd rather be taught with their cousin at their cousins house. i.e they'd rather be taught in our area, but we can't actually baptize them in our area.  We are thinking of going on exchanges with the Zone leaders for the next appointment so they can meet the missionaries in their area.  They want to learn more but I think don't like the idea of being taught by a new and different missionary.  We live with the Zone leaders so we might make it happen. 
      I also found out that a lot of names in our area book are wrong.  Missionaries just wrote what they heard and wrote a lot wrong.  For less actives I just took a ward directory and corrected them, for investigators I just had to ask them all what their names were again.  There is not a less active named Mom.  That name was misheard.  
Anyway a lot more happened but if I were to write it all I wouldn't have any stories to tell later.

Have a good week, keep your head up, and smile.
                                                                           Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

August 27th, 2012

A lot of good things happened this week.   
     First one fairly random thing; whenever we give out pamphlets we write our names and phone number on the back.  We tell them if they can't make their appointment they can text us, or if they have questions about the pamphlet or anything else.  Until this week no one has ever texted us.  This week we got a text.  It said not to come back, but it was the first I've received after giving out just a pamphlet.  That was kind of exciting. (Of course the text is the exciting part not the rejection.)  For another first this week I confiscated a cigarette from an investigator. We showed up to an investigators house for an appointment and our investigator was holding a cigarette, he hadn't started smoking it, but he was holding it.  I asked him to give it to me, he did, and then we talked about how his following of the Word of Wisdom was going. (pretty good actually, no more coffee and alcohol and a lot less cigarettes.) That is the first cigarette I've ever confiscated from an investigator so I was somewhat happy with that. That investigator is a really great person too.  
     This week we got some Zone training from our Zone leaders and they also gave Zone goals.  I was pleased to see that we already meet the bar that the Zone leaders set for our Zone right now.  One thing they focused was on investigator work.  Because we focus with less actives sometimes missionaries stop teaching investigators all together.  When I got to this area it was kind of like that, but when the less active focus began President Jensen set a standard of about 3:2 less active to investigator lessons.  Of course if those less actives are part members then you have investigators there as well.  So when I got to this area one of the first things I did was up the investigator lessons just a little bit and gave out baptismal invitations.  Well that is exactly what the Zone leaders told the Zone. They said we needed to continue to teach and find and baptize investigators as well as teach less actives.  I was pleased.
      My favorite happening this week was a man named Alex.  We were walking down the street, and we were late to an appointment.  As we were walking we saw a man sitting outside of his gate playing with a puppy. (For mom the puppy was about 9 weeks and was a golden retriever.)  When I saw the guy I immediately  thought that he needed the gospel.  I was so impressed that I needed to talk to him that I as I was talking to Elder Sagayno I crossed the street immediately to go speak with Alex.  We found out that Alex is quite religious and prays all the time.  He told us that he has been praying for God to help him answer his questions for a long time now. He doesn't have a religion but believes in God.  He is also a very nice person.   We talked with him for some time and left him with a Book of Mormon.  Now his house can only be accessed through the gate which he said is never open and that he is inside the house whenever he is home.  The chances that he is outside that gate at any given time are so very very small.  We were very lucky to have found him at that exact time, if you can call it luck.  He prayed us there.  He may not know it, but he prayed us there.  You may wonder what happened to our appointment that we were already late for; that guy was drunk, and had been for some time according to the neighbors.  We couldn't teach there anyway.  Never delay acting on a prompting from the Spirit.  Even when it just doesn't make the most sense.   
So those are the major happenings right now.  

Have a good week, keep your head up, and smile.
                                             Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

August 20st, 2012

     Did I say last week that I would not be playing the Piano in Lingayen 2 ward?  Well I spoke too soon.  Guess who played the piano yesterday.  I did.  The piano player was late or something, I don't really know, but the Bishop asked at about 8:59 if I knew how to play the piano, so I did.  I could also mention here that at 8:58 the Bishop asked me to give a talk in Sacrament meeting.  So with my added Piano task I had no time at all to prepare my talk.  I thought I gave a pretty good talk,   I didn't have scriptures in Tagalog with me at the pulpit so I would just open up my English scripture read it in English and then explain it in Tagalog.  I am very able to that it really wasn't even hard.  I just think back to my first talk where the entire talk was very scripted and I read it off of a paper.  It's something that I don't think about very often but every once and a while I just kind of step back and think, 'I don't have to try to speak Tagalog anymore, it just comes'.   I don't know if I ever mentioned it but I am reading the Book of Mormon in Tagalog right now.  The original goal was to finish it on my mission, but I am set right now to finish before the new year. 
      Yesterday we taught the Sison family.  They are very nice, they read the Book of Mormon, but they just don't come to church.  We taught a lesson about obedience and after the lesson Sister Sison said in one of the most determined ways I've heard that she was going to church next Sunday.  She said if she goes alone, or even if there is flooding to her waist she will be going to church on Sunday.  That's a very good thing, and it's something that we as missionaries love to hear.  (Also I would point out you will not likely ever be required to wade through waist deep water to go to church.)   This week we found 2 great less active families. One we found using the ward directory and just looking for names of members.  They are so nice.  They came upon problems when they were recently baptized and stopped going to church years ago, but they are really nice and don't have anything against the church or our teaching them.  The other family we found on the street when we were walking.  We started talking to this old lady and she said her son went on a mission.   We talked to her some more and found that she had 2 returned missionary sons and 8 other children, all of whom are members.  Then she invited us to come to her house to look at pictures of their family back when they used to go to church.  We didn't meet all of the family members at that time, but those who were home were very nice and very willing to listen to our message.  They have great potential and I can see high chances of their returning to church.   We don't have very many investigators here, mostly we are teaching less actives, but we have one investigator named Meryll.  That's my name too, well different spelling and it's their first name, but that doesn't really matter.    
         So random other story; I had a guy quote the pharisees to me.  He didn't mean to, he was actually just telling me why I was wrong.  What he didn't realize is that what I said mirrored something Jesus said and his response was the Pharisee response to Jesus.  He wasn't the focus of our lesson, he was just there, but the person who we were really teach caught the reference.  They noticed that his response was the pharisee response.  He was taken aback somewhat.   It is actually interesting how sometimes people will say things contrary to us, after we quote Bible scriptures or teach a principle clearly taught in the Bible.  I've had people tell me things like Moses was not a prophet, or Jesus did not establish a church or other truths found in the Bible.  
   Anyway, I still don't know everyone in this area but it is a good place.  It is way smaller than my other areas.  I think it is one of the smallest areas.  The city has three wards.  Most of the city going to ward 1, 29 barangays I think.  We have 5 barangays.  It's fun.
Have a good week, keep your head up, and smile.
                                             Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

August 14th, 2012

Well guess what!     I transferred this week.  I believe I said I probably would.  I now am in Lingayen 2nd ward.   My companion right now is Elder Sagayno from Manila.
I included some pictures of investigators in Pozorrubio as well as some pictures of Lingayen. ( A really cool family in Pozorrubio that is so so so golden)

So here is the funny thing about this transfer.  My buddy Elder Harrison was in the MTC with me, and we got to the Philippines at the same time.  Then we were both assigned in the city of Agoo.  We both transferred out at the same time and went to our separate areas, then we both found out we were training at the same time.
We both just finished training and were transferring again this transfer, and it just so happens that we both are follow up training each others trainees. We just switched areas.  We have essentially had the same mission for the first year.  We have had the same areas, but in different orders, and we have had at least some of the same companions in those areas.  So thats pretty cool.

     A good way to describe Lingayen would be Flooded.  It is right next to the ocean, and so if it rains a lot it is flooded fast. However did you saw the plus in that sentence? Next to the ocean.  We have a beach in the area.  I walked on the beach the other day.  I saw the ocean.  There are some people we teach that live right on the beach, it's pretty cool.  But, it does get really flooded if it rains.  My first night I found myself walking through water up to my calf.  Up to my calf.  We were walking in the middle of a road.  Why is the water that deep?  That's nothing they say.  We will see.  Hopefully I'll send pictures sometime of me walking through this water.  I have met some of the people in this ward, it is super organized.  I don't play the Piano anymore, this ward has a piano player.  The Bishop is pretty young as well, well not that young but he looks young. The chapel is also really nice. (probably because it's a stake center.)  Lingayen happens to be the capital of Pangasinan, the state capital building is pretty close to the chapel.

    I met one family that has an English speaking child.  She speaks English.  She decided that when she was young she wanted to learn English so she always read English books and watched English movies.  Now she speaks English, she also loves to read.  Probably could be Elizabeth's best friend. We have a lot of peole to teach so I expect good things here.

Have a good week, keep your head up, and smile.
                                                                          Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

August 6th, 2012

This was a good week.
     We met some of the nicest less actives this week.  These very
nice less active members very nicely told us they were not coming back
to church, but that if we wanted we could have dinner at their house.
Win-lose there but I think they can come back, we just need to find
out more about some of their concerns so we can help them resolve
them.  Besides that most of the people we taught this week actually
came to church.  There was actually one less active that we ran into
this week, and then he came to church.  We asked him directions one
day and he walked us to a house.  As we were walking we found out he
was a former member and invited him to church.  After a brief
interaction like that I didn't honestly expect him to come to church,
but then on sunday as we were waiting for people up he came. We ended
up with a very large number at church and quite a few of less actives
and investigators.
    This week one of our investigator families asked us if we could
give them longer reading assignments.  We usually give them a reading
assignment of a chapter or so to read before our next visit.  Then
they asked us if we could give them longer reading assignments so they
have more to read.  Yup, they love the Book of Mormon.  Yeah, they are
very excited to be baptized and I am excited to have the opportunity
of teaching them.  Another great less active family told us they never
want to miss church again.  The work moves forward.

          I would say their is a very good chance I will be
transferred this week.  Transfer day is coming up and I have been here
longer than Elder De Jesus.  This is a great area with great people,
but I shall probably be moving on.

Have a good week, keep your head up, and smile.

Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

July 30th, 2012

Hello again.  I have had a good week here.  I talked to Sister Idos and she gave me the stuff you sent with her.  It was fun, she showed me pictures of you guys in Utah as well.  How tall is Jonathan?  He is definitely taller. 
   You know how sometimes people say you will find people that have been prepared by the Lord, while we found some this week.  We met a new investigator and started teaching him and his wife the first lesson his wife wasn't present, but in the next lesson we quickly learned that she had been taught before.  Actually her entire family are members, they just went less active and so she was never baptized.  She knows most all of the basic things we teach.  We started teaching and they picked up very quickly.  After we challenged them to read and pray about the Book of Mormon they came back and told us about their experience.  They said they felt a feeling that was hard to describe and told us it was the Spirit.  We challenged them to come to church and they did...they were 40 minutes early church because they didn't want to be late.  Wow they are doing so good.  They readily as well have accepted the Word of Wisdom.  They are pretty much my favorite thing that has happened this week.   We have another great family too right now.  A less active family that we've been working with.  This family is just so fun.  They have been coming to church for awhile now and we continue to visit them.  We just have so many people coming back to church right now. 
       It seems to me there are 4 religions we deal with in the Philippines; Catholic, Born Again, Iglesia ni Cristo, and the Jehovah's witnesses.  I haven't dealt much so far with Igelsia or the witnesses, but this week we ran into a lot of Witnesses.  We had an investigator get attacked by the Witnesses and was very confused asking us a lot of questions.  (Funny enough the Witnesses attacked our church for believing that God and Jesus Christ were one being, we reminded our investigator of Joseph Smiths vision and showed a picture that clearly shows 2 beings talking to Joseph.)  Besides that we seemed to meet Witnesses everywhere.  I got very good at my Bible scriptures as learned how to very quickly and effectively answer all their questions.  We got pretty good at talking to them and getting them to the point where they were asking us questions (as opposed to questioning our message).  It was an interesting experience, they seemed to want very much to "Bible Bash".  But we avoided 'bashing'.  
      It rained again this week.  Every day.  That is just the way things are.  It will rain... you will get wet.  Even if you have the biggest umbrella, when it is raining hard with a harsh wind you get wet.  Nothing we can't handle though.  Thanks again for the stuff you sent with Sister Idos.
Have a good week, keep your head up, and smile.
                                                                           Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

July 23rd, 2012

     Last week I think I mentioned that I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting.  Well it was so good that I was asked to give a talk again... well actually no, I don't know why I was asked to give a talk again but I did give a talk again this week.  It makes me at least feel like the Bishop trusts me, which is a good thing.  
    So this week it rained a lot.  Rain isn't bad, not really, the only problem is that it makes it a little bit harder for investigators and less actives to keep certain commitments.  Yesterday at church not too many people came, there was one person who has just barely returned from Manila and he said to me 'Elder you must be working hard there are a lot of people here'  I responded our numbers were low today and he said' yeah but it's raining, no one comes to church when it rains.'  When it rains on Sunday the numbers apparently drop.  For the most part only people who live really close to church and the really active members came yesterday.  It is a little difficult for less actives who haven't come regularly in years or investigators who've only come once to come when there is heavy rain.  It's all right though although we had only a few the ones who are really progressing came, and it also helps us see some of the people who need to strengthen their faith.  
      This week we worked a lot in an area called Imbalbalatong.  I have seen so many people in this barangay ready to accept the gospel, there is only one problem; one side of the street is ours, the other side is the other wards.  We talk to people on the street, give them pamphlets or Books of Mormon, make a return appointment, and then when we go to their house we realize they belong in the other ward. When we talk to people or ask referrals, 50% are in our area, and 50% in the other.  It's hard, because every lesson we teach there is a good lesson.  Everyone that I've met there has been receptive, the only problem is after half our first lessons we go tell the other Elders we have a referral for them.  The work is really good there.  We ended up going to almost the very end of the street and we found a whole compound of people who were willing to listen to us.  I think we will start going there a little more often and we will see what will happen. 

Have a good week, keep your head up, and smile.
                                             Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

July 16th, 2012

    Well we have had an interesting week this week.  Our week started rather slow, we were not having very many lessons or meeting receptive people.  On Tuesday after not having a single lesson in the day we were heading home and some kid yelled something.  I though he was talking to us, but he wasn't, but when we approached he said 'I'll go tell my sister the missionaries are here.'  We found a former investigator family that has been taught before.  They were very receptive towards us and already knew a lot about the restoration. 

      This week we found a few new less actives here in Pozorrubio.  We found a lady that has been less active for more than 20 years.  She was super nice, but she super didn't want to come back to church.  It's harder when the people are nice but don't accept you.  Sometimes when somebody is mean you find it hard to love them, hard to care for them, you walk away and might think "boy that guy was mean.'  But when people are so nice it's sad.  It is so easy to feel for them, you know that they are making a horrible choice by turning you away, but there isn't much you can do.  The thought is more like "boy, she is nice, I really don't want her to go to hell."  We have some investigators and less actives that are very nice people, but they just don't accept the message, it is so very sad.  
      We had one investigator family that is very nice, they are also receptive, and they also recently moved so we are not teaching them anymore.  Their move came somewhat suddenly, suddenly enough that they thought they weren't going to be able to tell us before they moved.  What happened was they were talking with a member and they were in tears, because they thought they were going to move before seeing the missionaries again.  We were informed that if we had time we should visit the family, so we did, and we found out they were moving and taught a last lesson there.  We later found out from the member how excited our investigators were that we came again and how sad they had been when they thought we weren't coming.  We are going to have to refer them to missionaries in their new location. (Very far away from here.)  
       In church yesterday I gave a talk, the other speaker went long so the Bishop told me I only had 5 minutes.  So I gave a very shortened condensed talk, it was alright.  The real news from sacrament meeting though was from other talks.  One of the other speakers spoke on the Law of Chastity, they gave a very fine talk, our only problem was we received a lot of questions from investigators after that.  Most of them thought the Law of Chastity was just a good suggestion.  We had to teach the Law of Chastity a lot more times than we expected on Sunday.  Overall it was good.  

     Do you know what I miss most?  I want to go to the Temple!!!!!
Have a good week, keep your head up, and smile.
                                             Elder Nathaniel J. Merrill

July 9th, 2012

    This week has been a rather good week.   First off, we met President Monahan this week.  He is really great, he is really smart too ( he is a lawyer).  We went to our district meeting on Tuesday in Urdaneta and afterwards I went to pick something up from the mission office, and there was President Monahan.  We talked with him for a little bit, he is trying to learn Tagalog.  He said that Elder Oaks blessed him before his mission that he would be able to learn Tagalog.  
     The next day, Wednesday, we had a meet the President conference in which our entire Zone as well as 2 other zones came to Urdaneta for a quick zone conference.  President Monahan spoke and taught us about the Gospel.  He talked a lot about obedience and prayer.  It was really good, we are really glad to have him here.  He is really good at the scriptures.  He knows and can quote a lot of scriptures.  He also mentioned that sometimes he will come work with the missionaries for teaching appointments. He didn't say just Zone leaders or District leaders, but all the missionaries, so he may come work with us sometime.  That will be fun.  

This week I have seen a lot of part member families making progress.  There are several families in particular that I was told that the nonmember was very unreceptive.  In each case we went to the house, spoke with the nonmember and asked them to join with us for our short lesson.  Every time the nonmember joined with us and as far as we saw was receptive.  Of course it is only one visit, but in each case I was told these people wouldn't even face the missionaries or join in discussion.   So far, every time we have gotten return appointments and it is looking as if we will have the chance to complete some of these part member families. Sometimes the part member family is only part member because the missionaries didn't focus much on the family and left one member behind, not so much because that person is unreceptive.  

This letter is really short this week, I have a lot of things I am trying to do today.