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