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

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Monday: I remember a time, when I was with Elder Calaway, right after
we spoke with our families, when we wanted to know how much time we`d
have, when we spoke with them again. I calculated that I would have 19
1/2 months. Today I completed 19 months! That`s one of the numbers I
always thought was really high when I was new. Haha. Time just won`t
stop and let you sit. I didn`t really get a Pday today. At 7:30 I was
on a bus to Concepción with Elder Corliss and Arnett, on our way to a
Training session for District Leaders only. When we got there, I saw
Elder Lisonbee and we sat by each other, enjoying each others`
company. The first persons to train us surprised me. It turns out that
Pres. Martinez has Sister Assisstants! It was definitely a different
feeling to be taught by Missionaries without ties. Anyway, they helped
me realize a quality that I want in my wife: I want her to support and
encourage me in my callings. They were telling us things like, 2We
trust your decisions. You are men of God, and you are here for a
reason." It was an interesting spirit that accompanied them. We
learned that we have to give our Missionaries "The Vision of
Baptizing," in order for them to know where all this is going. The
Assisstants (Elders) taught us more about our responsibilities in
Exchanges and things. Pres. Martinez explained the importance of
having the HOly Ghost. Elder Richards, when he visited, explained that
the enthusiasm we have is recognizable as the Spirit, or was it the
other way around? If someone`s depressed, it`s because they lost the
Spirit. We had a long ride home, and then wrote the family. All is
well. Mom loves being a Temple Worker and is hearing a lot of cool

Tuesday: Today went pretty well. I got up to shower early, so my comp.
would get up on time and shower and we`d still have plenty of time
before the bus came. It kinda worked. This was the first Distrizona we
did, implementing the new "report sheets"--forms that included our
Weekly Planning and progress of news--and I got to put some of the
things I learned yesterday into practice. Up until now, I`ve ben too
casual with my District. I thought I was being happy and friendly with
them. But I found a balance where I can still be my happy self and
still be able to correct them. In my class, for instance, they tried
to joke and put off the class for as long as possible. Before, I
wouldn`t have known how to take command or, more importantly, WHY. But
that time I have, to teach and inspire them is so vital, so I took
command, had better posture, and kept them focused. It worked. They
started listening to me and behavin better. In the Afternoon, I went
with Elder Maldonado to visit an Investigator while our comps. went to
an INternet Café to do an emergency transfer of moeny. They said
they`d be 10 min. Alvaro, the Investigator I visited with Elder
Maldonado, is great. He`s gonna get baptized on the 24th. We taught
the Restoration and he felt the spirit and it was great. We did
contacts for a while after that.

Wednesday: So we worked pretty hard, today, doing our best to do what
we should...and we had some amazing experiences! We started out the
day a little differently. we traveled to Lebu to start my second
Carnet. I`m actually late, and I might be arrested. We got there, only
to find that the man who had to attend us wasn`t in today. I`ll be
busy for the rest of the week, so I have to wait for Monday. Lame. We
got back in time to pick up the clean clothes. Then, we went to have
lunch with Hna. Diaz. It was funny because we had tough meat with
bones and cartilag eand I had trouble cutting. She (or I?) made the
joke of meeting my future in-laws at a dinner with meat like that, and
the impression Id make. That`s why I`m going to order sammon, or
mashed potatoes, or some other more malleable substance. haha. We
didn`t have any appts. set up for the Afternoon, so we did contacts.
It actually went really well. The Lord must have known how hard this
was getting for me. I remember we`d been contacting for about 3 hours
before our first Spiritual Experience. We were too early for where we
wanted to go, so I chose to "explore" and take the scenic route. Well,
actually I took the route and then came up with the reason because I
wasn`t sure. I decided to knock a few doors on one random alley. We
got in the first hosue. We started talking about her son and eternal
families. Eventually, we found out her father died 3 weeks ago. We
wouldn`t have found her if we`d taken the "quick" route. Later, we
were walking and we passed a man in his doorway. we kept going before
I felt to turn around. He didn`t want to let us in. We spoke and I
pulled out a pass-along and he invited us in. We talked a lot before I
offered to say a prayer. He hadn`t paid attention well. When I
finished the prayer, he wasn`t reactive. He wouldn`t talk or blink or
move. I had a very strong impression to reach out and touch him on his
right shoulder. As I did, he jumped as if shocked. He explained he`d
felt as if something warm had fallen on him. I invited him to be
baptized and he said yes. Guided by the Spirit much? OH YEAH!!!

Thursday: Today was an alright day. During our weekly Planning, our
Zone Leaders came and joined us. the 6 of us went to lunch with the
Neira family. The Dad was ticked, `cause he thought we`d spread romors
that we got sick, last week, due to his cooking. we never did! elder
Arjona went to Cañete with Elder brady to work for the day. i stayed
here with Elder Hall. We were outside ALL DAY knocking doors. Usually,
when we do contacts, we get into a few houses. Not today. aBut I LOVED
eing Elder Hall`s comp. It was so great to not be working alone. He`s
such a dedicated guy. I planned out all of the people that gave us so
much as a "pass by some other day." We were banging on all cylinders!
But, for some reason, we weren`t able to find someone to let us in. We
met several people that said they don`t like the church, but couldn`t
give a reason why. one lady told us to come by another day. When we
asked which day, she told us, "NEVER!" I don`t know how people can
treat their Salvation like that. By the end of the night, I was
freezing and my legs hurt so bad it gave me tingles.

Friday: When I woke up today, after the 5 other times I woke up during
the night, I was completely stiff. Every movement created a creaking
of muscles. My night was so restless because my recently aquired
snburn kept overheating me. I was wearing SPF 80! Elder Hall and I
left aound 8:00, to Cañete, for Interviews. He wanted to change and
shower. Elder Arjone (bless his soul) offered to buy us breakfast. We
had a ham and cheese sandwich followed by a banana split...when I
think about it, that is like a Missionary Mom`s nightmare. Haha. It
was delicious. Our Interviews went really well. First, the Assisstants
gave us some really cool training. Last July, a new program came into
the Mission field. it includes 8 steps on how to help an Investigator
be really converted. First they asked us to put ANY concern we had on
the board. They said they would give an answer to each of them. And
they did...just not how I was expecting them to. they showed us that
any concern we have can be resolved with one of those 8 lessons. Then
the Sister Assisstants (still weird) got up and reviewed the 6 steps
of teaching by the Spirit: Observe, listen, discern, ask inspired
questions, teach pure doctrine, invite to act, repeat. We did a
practice that was different. We were to use those steps to find and
resolve a person`s doubts. But instead of Investigators, we taught the
Assisstant and Zone Leaders and themselve. I had my Interview with
Pres. where he gave me a pep talk and told me to have patience with my
comp. Then i returned an hopped into a practice, teaching Elder Arjona
with a new Misionary. Afterward, Elder Arjona said I really touched
his heart and helped him. I love him. The Assisstants bought everyone
completos. then, we came back. Right as we got hom,e a Policeman from
Lebu, where i`d started my paperwork for my Carnet, called me. He
saiid he`d finished mys tuff and was in Curanilahue. He handed it to
me and saved me $5 in travel. YES! My sunburn, and the sun, gave me a
pounding headache that forced me to retreat home. Elder Smith and
Elder Brady went to our appts.

Saturday: Today kind of sucked. On the bright side, my muscles stopped
hurting. I spent the morning writing my talk I have to give tomorrow.
The other Missionaries were doing their own thing and just tried so
hard to avoid getting distracted and staying focused. I had a really
great time exploring the topic of my talk. Little tip: If there`s
anything youre unsure of, or want to learn more about, just write a
talk about it. The revelation that accompanies the process is so
great! I wrote my talk about Family Home Evenings, as was assined to
me. I discovered something I hadn`t known before: An
advantage/blessing for the parents, thanks to FHE, the Father is
viewed as the authority in the house. How many broken families do we
have in this world, that wouldn`t exist if they just followed the
Prophet? Well, I guess if everyone did that, they`d end up getting
baptized. Haha. Before we went to lunch, I called Elder Lisonbee, to
wish him Happy "monthday". He turned 22 in the Mission! I love him.
Haha. W ehad fried fish and rice for lunch. i loved it! Afterwards, my
comp. told me he wasn`t feeling well. I told him to lie down. I took
his temperature later. 101.4 So I had him take a drink of water
throughout the day, as well as have him take some ibuprofen. We pretty
much just laid in our beds. I had a fever of 99.something. it was
relatively cool, but we were both sweating a lot. Gross, right? My
head still hurts and it`s late. I`m going to bed.

Sunday: We were blessed today. we worked so hard this week, when we
could, but before today we hadn`t found more than a few people. Before
Church started, we had our meeting with our grouchy Ward Leader. One
of the four of us has problems getting going in the mornings and we
didn`t make it out on time. Anyway, we arrived 5 min. late and Hno.
Neira accused us of sleeping in. It`s tough, paying the price for
someone else`s mistakes. We shared our stuff efore going to pick up
Miguel. He didn`t answer. But when we started the firt class, a member
walked in with a non-member friend. He totally lives in our sector!
His name is Manuel. He said he just came with his friend, this time
only. Elders Smith, Maldonado, and I had to give talks today. I went
first and talked about Family Home Evenings. Elder Smith spoke on the
power of prayer. Elder Maldonado spoke on why it is important to read
the scriptures. A Sister said my Spanih was like listening to a
General Authority. Boo yeah! I spoke with the non-member afterwards.
He said he anted to hear us out. His member friends invited him and us
to an FHE tomorrow. In te afternoon, I got the fever Elder Brady had.
My temp. kept rising, until it stopped at 102. As I was resting, I
thought of something. Everyone alays asks, "What would Jesus do?" I
didn`t know, before the mission. Now I know he`d do the will of the
Father. SO... We should ask, "What does Heavenly Father want me to
do?" For me, that makes it easier. When I was back in bed, Elder Smith
brought me medicine and Elder Brady brought me a hot water bottle. I
felt cold, taht`s why. They`re good guys.


Monday: Today was a great day. We got to enjoy the morning in the
house, cleaning and relaxing. Then we went to get lunch. We had
completos. YES! We then wentto use Internet to write the family. Daddy
said they all enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving. but he also said it
was kind of lame because it was just the four of them. They want me
home. I think they`re "trunkier" than I am. Haha. I got an email
from...Joe! He is currently in Orlando, Florida. What the heck?! I
hope he`s doing well. loved hearing form him. We did exchanges at
night. I went with Elder Maldonado. We tried to contact a member who`d
said she had a referral for us. But she wasn`t home. So we pretty much
just did contacts all night. But then I had the idea to share the "17
Miracles" movie with the Diaz family. They were totally down for it.
It really was a beautiful movie. We were all feeling the Spirit so
strongly. Then they gave us some refreshments. Yum.

Tuesday: Today was great. We actually got picked up on time, this
week, to go to our Distrizona in Cañete. The Zone Leaders are sking us
to get reports on all of our Districts investigators and their
activities. In our district Meting, I said something insensitive to
Elder Brady. As soon as I made the remark, he got quiet, closed his
eyes, and started shaking. I was just thinking, "Oh crap. I`m an
idiot." He turned around and went to the bakc of the room and refused
to participate. I went over and stood by him, and rubbed his back. He
was crying. He said he learns things by touch, and that doesn`t wrk
with languages. I`m such a jerk. He accepted my apologywe hugged and
cried and stuff. We did contacts in the afternoon. We got into 3
houses. One in particular, Estéfani, was really great. She`s young,
about 23 or 24, and has a 4 year-old daughter. I noticed how her eyes
shone when she spoke of her daughter. So we decided to teach about
Eternal families. She said we could come back tomorrow. We`ll see how
that goes. My whole run-down with Elder Brady has let me know just how
far I have togo before I can get marrand have kids and relationships
in general. Dang it! But I guess it`s normal to mak mistakes
sometimes. As for making upfor hose mistakes, I think I`m doing

Wednesday: Today was wonderful. It was kind of funny in the morning,
though. I was so excited to study. We ran, I showered, got dressed,
got all my books out, and then the other MIssionaries told us we had
to do service. We did that for a few hours before we got back. I was
just sitting down to study en the Branch res. called and asked us to
come by, to pick up the Permaneced list. We got back and I read
twoverses before my comp. reminded me of an appt. we had in 15 min.
DANG IT!!! We couldn`t even find the guy. We took out money beto
lunch. After lunch, we met with Camilo, the kid who went to church on
Sunday. We waited in the Chapel, and I was pleasantsed when he
arrived. We taught the Restoration. He`s been through a lot of
churches, looking for truth. he wants to do what`s right. When I told
of the First Vision I felt the Spirit so strongly. I was oing to
explain tHAuthority, but I lt impressed to ask how he felt. He said,
j"I feel a calmness I`ve never felt before." This message is so
powerful. "It doesn`t depend on the Message, but the messenger," as
Boyd K. Packer said. He wants to read and pray about the Book of
Mormon. He also said he wants to be baptized. WOOT! But he belongs to
the oher missionaries. We did contacts until night. Then, the Ward
Mission Leader invited us o his son`s b-ay party. It was great.

Thursday: So this is the last entry in my 398-page journal. WHAT?!
what the crazy sauce is that all about? ;) We got up and, after doing
the usual, we did our Weekly Planning session. The only problem: we
don`t have any investigators, after our week or so of being here in
Curanilahue. I now that we should be measuring our success by how e`re
doing with ourselves, rather than base it off of the decisions others
make. But not seeing any success...well, it gets discouraging
sometimes. We DID have a delicious BBQ fo lunch. It was smoked meat,
full of flavor and not cartilage. I ate as muchI could. All of our
appts. with "future Investigators" fell through. Another day full of
contacts. We fond a lady that wanted to listen to us, but just that.
She "has faith in her own church." When I asked her why, she said
"because it`s closest." She was so hard-hearted, and I just wanted to
help. I was very grateful for the respite from the sun, thanks to
cloud cover, as well as for the good night`s sleep ahead of me.

Friday: So we wer up all night, the four of us. Elder Smith, Elder
Maldonado, Elder Brady and I. It turns out that we all have food
poisoning and we spe the night vomiting together. It`s really weird.
All four ofus. Weird. Before the Mission, I`d never met what I like to
call a "vocal vomiter." I have now met a few. It`s someone that yells
at the top of their luns until they become reaquainted with their
previous meal. Let me tell you, it`s enough to turn anyone`s gut. We
cancelled our lunch today, because even though our mouths wanted food,
the rest of us couldn`t take it. I tried to study in the morning, but
I had an enormous headache that prevented me. Eventually, it went away
and since, out of the four of us, Elder Maldonado and I were feeling
the best, we wenti some people and get the laundry. The people weren`t
there, and the laundry wasn`t ready. We came home and slept. Later,
the two of us went to try and teach Camilo about baptism, but he never
arrived at the Chapel. ile we were there, Elder maldonado started
asking me what I thought of him. He said he`d been h aving a lot of
introspective doubts lately. He asked questions about my family and
what I missed most. He`s got one tmore than me. I can tell that he
misses his family a lot. I bet he`s looing forward to his Christmas
phone call. Camilo never showed up, so we headed back to thepartment.
As the evening has progressed, the others` symptoms have improved,
whmine have progressively worsened. My stomach is cramping, my head
aches, and I`m dizzy,creating nausea. Ooph! But it`s nice to be in
this together. It creates kind of a comraderie between us. it`s sweet.

Saturday: So today was part 2 of the "food poisoning doosies." but on
the bright side, even though I didn`t feel well enough to go too far
away from the toilet, I WAS able to study. I was finishing up Alma 42
and read some advice that Alma the Younger gives to his son. There`s a
part where he tells his son not to excuse his sin in the slightest
degree. He says this is so he can be humbled down, to the dust. I was
pondering on how that oculd work, and I realized that if we were
always making excuses for ourselves, we would never feel guilty. And
if we never felt guilty for our actions, we would never feel the need
to repent of those things we`re doing badly. heavenly Father really
can`t excuse us...at all. When I learned this, I realized just how
much I sometimes make bad chioices or mess up because I give myself
excuses, or crutches to go off of. But I`m not going to do that
anymore. I think it`ll help me in my endeavor with Alan, of getting to
be the best people we can be. We didn`t cancel lunch today, `cause we
just HAD to get out of the house. While we were waiting for lunch to
be ready, we shared stories of how we got our various scars. Or
rather, everyone else did. I didn`t have any cool ones. I`ve kind of
made it a point to avoid dangerou/stupid situations and, as a result,
have lived a relatively dulll life. Hah! We were also talking (in
English) about where we`d be calling our families for Christmas. Then,
the Brother walked in and invited us. Sweet! I spent the Afternoon
napping. I woke up several times with chills and sweating. I`m feeling
better, though. We`re gonna work our butts off tomorrow, to try and
make up for some of the stuff we haven`t haveen able to do. I`m tired
right now.

Sunday:Today was fast and Testimony meeting. It was really great. We
got to our Priesthood meeting and Hno. Neira asked why we hadn`t gone
to the Executive Comitee meeting, asking if we had slelpt in. I hate
how the people in this Branch assume the worst about the Missionaries
based on how the last ones behaved. First ofall, that meeting is
invitation-only, so they have to invite us, which they didn`t do. And
second ofall, I was totally up at 6:30, getting ready. Judging and
prejudice suck. We had a really great class about Brotherhood. The
teacher turned the word into a cool acronymthat doesn`t work in
English. Sunday School was about Exaltation. The testimonies were
great, as always. We had lunch with Hna. Nidia, who washes our clothes
for us. She toldus about what it was like, to be a mom of missionary
sons. She said that when both of them came back home they were
different...and she didn`t like the changes. What kind of jmother says
that about her own sons? What kind of changes deserve that reaction?
Almost all of my journal entries have been dedicated to self-analysis
and discovery. I`ve definitely come a long way in self-confidence. But
what will those changes be viewed as, by otheres? 2 years is a long
time. What will I think of THEM? It`ll certainly be interesting. I
couldn`t sleep most of last night. In the time I had to think I
thought of the time I have left to me as a Missionary. There`s so much
more I can do and learn. But it`s not very long until I get to see my
family again. I still remember my first shock as I realized that I was
leaving them. Scary and intimidating as heck. And soon, after all the
waiting and missing, I`ll be back with them again. What will that be