Hey Everyone!
This is my blog about all the activities and details about my mission. My folks are going to be updating it weekly, based on the information that I send them through my letters. My current address:
Elder Brigham James Merrell
MTC Mailbox # 138
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

May 2010

I don't have a time limit while writing this letter, so I can respond adequately. I also have my journal by my side, so it will be accurate too.
Monday: This week started out nice. I got up, and had my daily battle with the shower temperature, but it eventually ran out of cold water, which was a first. We developed lesson plans for the great apostasy and the Restoration. I am getting more and more comfortable with talking to people. I had a suspicious chicken sandwich that tasted like sawdust, but was able to dilute it with BBQ sauce. During gym, I worked up a monstrous sweat, and had a shower. It was my first time in what we call, "The Celestial Shower." It has a constant temperature, and very high pressure. It was nice!
Tuesday: Tonight was my first real spiritual experience in the MTC. These words come from the bottom of my heart and the foundation of my character. Elder Holland spoke to us, and we were asked to record how we felt. "After listening to Elder Holland's talk, I feel...spiritual. I feel hard-pressed to put my feelings into words. Elder Holland's messages are always emotional.. He is especially passionate about missionary work. Over the last few days-week, actually, I have had a difficult time grasping the gravity of the coming events that will impact me in a way I can't imagine. I will miss my family and friends, true, but I have been empowered tonight to realize my Heavenly Father loves. He has drawn me yet closer than He ever has before. I have also felt recently that I will not be up to the task of helping others come unto Christ. When Elder Holland told us not to DARE let those Primary children, nieces and nephews, cousins, and all of the young boys looking up to us, down. They have put their faith in us, and we are to set the perfect example. Knowing that, I was able to see my greater purpose. I can't afford to let Satan weaken my resolve when Heavenly Father is counting on me. The Spirit is touching me, even now, as I hope to direct it to touch those people who need the Gospel in their lives. I will not let them down. I know that if I stay obedient to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, I can truly change into the missionary I need to be for Heavenly Father. I love Him more at this moment, more than I ever have. I will change. I will do everything in my power to bring others unto Christ. And I will say yes, when Jesus asks, "Lovest thou me?"
Wednesday: Today, I discovered how hard it can be to get out of bed, but I eventually won the battle against the bed-magnets. We did service, by cleaning 3 stories of stairs. It was sweet. We got a lesson plan for the remaining points of the first discussion. For class, we prepared for the Teaching Resource Center(TRC), where we got to teach volunter investigators. It was good, mostly. My Spanish is still rough, but I'm getting it. We found out our roommates are leaving in 2 weeks. They are spiritual giants, and I will miss them, but they'll stay in touch!
Thursday: Our whole morning was one big study session. We all did personal study first. I read in the Pearl of Great Price, and when that study was over, I posed a question that I can't really remember. It got the the topic "Was Cain killed in the flood, or is he big foot?" It got pretty violent. Haha. We had companionship inventory, guess what? We're still awesome!
Well, that's it for this week. Hope all is well with everyone. Love, Elder Merrell

May 21, 2010

Saturday 15th: Nothing really exciting happened today. We did get to watch a recorded devotional of Elder Bednar explaning "How do I know if it's the Spirit, or just me?" The most productive thing I did today, was come up with a secret knock that only my roommates know. It takes like 2 minutes, but it's totally worth it. It ends-up with the person inside asking "What is the order of awesome?" The correct response is "Scrumptrulescent." After the super long knock was made, we realized we all had keys to the room, but we still prefer our two minute secret knock.
Sunday: Nothing really significant. I spent three hours thinking about who I am, and who I want to be. It was really revealing.
Monday: Today was...forgetable. In my journal, I pretty much just wrote what I ate, and that I went to a meeting. Just another normal day in the MTC.
Tuesday: Today was another day of self-reflection. I find myself constantly worrying about who I should be, or things that are to come. I have no idea why. We had a devotional from Craig C. Christensen of the Seventy. I fell asleep. Elder Holland's talk was so much more engaging. My solution to my current problem, is to get out of myself, and focus on other's needs, which I've been trying to do recently.
Wednesday: Today, Elder McConnell and I made a silent agreement to sleep in. On service days, the only thing we have before Service at 8, is breakfast. We decided to forego it, and I had some delicious pop-tarts in our room (Thanks, Mom!). Even 10 minutes of sleeping in was a treat! We got to clean the stairs again, and I didn't mind. We went to the TRC, to teach the lesson. The first 15 minutes have to be in Spanish. Elder McConnell and I were able to listen and speak fluently. The blessings of the Lord are increasingly evident in my life, as I'm out here. Nowadays, instead of playing volleyball, I play 4-square with my zone. It's totally awesome! Tonight, Elder Ronfeldt, my Hulk of a roommate, decided to pull a prank on my companion, who was lying on his bed. He ran into the hall, grabbed a fire extinguisher, and sprinted into the room with it held above his head, and screamed a battle cry. Elder McConnell freaked out! It was super funny!
Thursday: Today, I was deemed "the deadliest player in 4-square, because I keep the ball so low. The days are slowing down now. It's very strange. All the guys are looking for the prettiest sisters in the cafeteria, and I don't like it. I mean, it's not very hard to find one, but I just can't stand it right now. I need to focus.
Friday: I know the day isn't over yet, but I've got big news! Apparently, there's a legend of a "pillow room" that's been around the MTC for years. Today some of the workers let us play in it! It's a room as big as our dorm, filled with pillows to the ceiling! You better believe I got pictures.
Thank you for all your love.

June 7, 2010

I love feeling the Spirit so strongly. I get out of church at the same time as you, and my residence is the closest to the parking lot in the SE corner. I saw you in the kitchen the other night. One of the most intimate experiences so far is....actually, I have several. One of the first Sundays, I had a really tough time knowing what the Lord wanted me to be, and what I needed to change to become a better tool in His hand, like my Patriarchal Blessing directs. In order to know what I was to become, I had a strong impression to realize who I was already. I decided the best way to accomplish this, was to write out a list of qualities that constitute my character. As the ink from my pen flowed, I realized that I was actually quite a wonderful person. A powerful sense of peace settled over me, and calmed one of my longest-lasting fears. I've sort of felt like I wasn't good enough for anyone, family or otherwise. This experience gave me a confidence and peace of self that I had never before had. The other experience happened yesterday. We were in Branch council, which is a meeting where all the District and zone leaders meet together with the Branch Presidency and report how our district was doing. Okay, I guess I've had three experiences. The heretofore unmentioned event was on Saturday night, where I gained a more sure knowledge of God's love for me. I'll have to tell you that too, I guess.
On Saturday night, at the end of class, our teacher gave us 30 minutes to do a personal study with a specific question in mind. I wanted to feel the love of God more in my life, or to have a more sure knowledge of His love. I eagerly dove into Mosiah 23, where I had been in my personal study. In verse 7, I found an answer, but not the one I had been looking for. It told me not to "rise one flesh above another." In other words, not to compare myself to others, which I have done. Our teacher ended the study session, and I was very dismayed, not to have received my answer. Our teacher said, "I hope you all have felt the Spirit as I have." I thought to myself, "I guess I got an answer." I noticed his eyes filling with tears as my own vision began to swim. His next words touched my heart as he said, " I know that God loves you, and knows who you are." I mean, come ON! That was so amazing! Heavenly Father heard my silent pleas for an answer. It wasn't necessary or a big deal, because I had already felt His love before. This impact was not diminished in the least, because of that. I know Heavenly Father hears our prayers, and loves to answer our cries for help, no matter how insignificant. I know we can receive these blessings if we are willing to accept them in the lord's time.
Back, to yesterday's spiritual experience in Branch Council. I reported that my District was overflowing with unity and love. As I was going on (ranting, really) about how much I loved my district, Bro. Robinson (1st counselor in the Presidency) raised his hand to stop me. He faced the other leaders and said, "Did you know Elder Merrell has a unique acuity to the loving mood of the Spirit, and is very talented at inviting it into any situation." Over the past few weeks, during our interviews, Bro. Robinson and I have tried to find a talent or gift that God has given me that I could focus on. After he made this startling declaration, he turned back to me with his piercing bule eyes (he looks like a chubby Dumbledor), and smiled triumphantly as he had finally found my talent. I was suddenly reminded of all the times "love" and "helping" others had been mentioned in my Patriarchal Blessing. Continuing on with unbelievable accuracy, not letting my mind stop being boggled, he asked, "How much of your Patriarchal Blessing says that?" I told him, quite a lot, and he looked rather smug. Later in Sacrament meeting, he got up to bear his testimony. He taught an analogy describing the random stitches on one side of a quilt, and the orderly design on the finished side. He told us that although everything may be hectic and like happenstance, Heavenly Father has divine potential for all of us to receive. I know that everything I'm thinking, and being prompted to do will guide me closer to Heavenly Father's design for me. He might even be preparing for my eternal companion. Who knows? Maybe I've already met her? Nah! haha. Yeah, this has been an account of my spiritual experiences so far. I hope that they have been able to let your testimony grow. My new favorite missionary scripture is Proverbs 25:25.

June 1, 2010

I wrote this for myself, but just ended-up copying it into my journal, so you all get the original. Yay! I have to say I love it here. The Spirit is so amazing. I can honestly say that I have never cried so much, as I have since I got here. That's a good thing. I love you all so much and can't wait to see you in 23 months.
I'm recording my feelings of my emotions after we listened to Elder Foster's talk tonight. He didn't teach as powerfully or as eloquently as Elder Holland, bu the Spirit bore witness to me of the things which he spoke. He spoke to us about prayer. I find this interesting, because we have been teaching others how to pray. Prayer is a way to talk with God. I knew that. But tonight I realized the love of Heavenly Father as I have few other nights. What was most significant about the lesson tonight, was the other part of Elder Foster's talk. He told us that Heavenly Father knows each of us. I knew that too. He showed us a video of Joseph Millet. He was told by his daughter that Bro. Hall was out of flour. After preparing some flour, Bro. Hall appeared at Bro. Millet's home. Bro. Millet asked, "Do you need some flour?" Bro. Hall replied, "I looked everywhere, but couldn't find any. I prayed, and the Lord said to ask Joseph Millet." After Bro. Hall left, Joseph started crying. His sweet daughter asked him if he was alright? He replied, "It's good to know God knows Joseph Millet." As soon as he said that, I felt as I had only one other time, when I had finished seeing the movie, "Valentines Day" on a date. I really wanted that date to show some sort of affection, some sort of love. I came home that night, late though is may have been, and walked straight to Daddy's room, and gave him a hug. I heard him tell me that he loved me, and that he would always be there for me. I felt his arms squeeze me tight, and I knew I didn't need anything else. That's what I wanted tonight. I wanted to be with my Daddy again. So, I did what Elder Foster told us to do. I prayed to my Father in Heaven that I know loves me. I needed to feel love, so I went to the one source that I knew could satisfy my needs. Then the craziest thing happened. I felt that same acceptance that Daddy gives me come from my Father in Heaven. He helped me gow just that much closer to Him, as well as to the person I know I can be. I want to help people feel that love and acceptance that I feel, even as I write this. This is my testimony, that I bear in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.