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
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Monday: today was a great Pday. The Zone Leaders planned an activity in Lebu. Initially, no one in Curanilahue wanted to go with me. Bu then Eler Arjona spoke with my comp, and reminded him of a commitment he`d made, that I wasnt aware of: to keep his comp. happy. So he changed his mind. But when Elder Smith heard we were going to the beach and some caves, he offered to take Elder Brady`s place. It was really pretty. We went from the main beach, through a long tunnel, into a smaller inlet. It was an awesome white sand bach. We spent the first little while taking pictures. We went quite a ways from the main group. We were climbing on the rocks close to the waves. Elder smith wanted to go to a specific place, but it was too close to the waves for my liking. Elder Smith went ahead to show me how. But as soon as he was pinned in what we thought was a "safe spot", the waves got ENORMOUS and came over his head. He pretyt much almost died. I got pictures. But we got back all right. We were going to receive a spiritual message in the tunnel when Hna. Gomez sprained her ankle. Luckily, an inactive member with a 15-person van drove up right then, and took us to the hospital. Lucky. riiiiiight. Here`s waht I imagine the Spiritual message being: We were in a long, dark tunnel with a light at the end. The way was rocky and dangerous (hence the sprained ankle...it was real, not planned, so don`t go having sadistic thoughts about our teachers). We were told to bring our flashlights. Some didn`t. These could depend on others` lights, but it was not easy. I imagine the flashlights being our testimonies. We can lean on others` from time to time, but it`s a lot more hazardous when we`re directly confronted with challenges. The family`s doing better. Mom said the car`s ready and waiting for me. Dad said the clots are now scar tissue that will dissolve. What a relief.
Tuesday: Today was all right. I got kind of sick in the evening, but it was a good day besides. We made i in time to catch our bus to Distrizona. We spoke with the Zone leaders about goals for this month. As a Zone, we`re actually doing pretty well, and I told them we`d have 2 more for March. It was Elder Smith`s last District Meeting, and he was talking and talking, taking away from the lesson. I wasn`t the one teaching it. It was comforting to know he listens better when I`m the one talking. It shows he respects what I have to say. Elder corliss was awesome and bought a cake for Elder Arjona, because it was his birthday last week. We had lunch with Hno. Alvarado, the Elders` Quorum Pres. He runs a tight ship. He laid out exactly how our lunch behavior would be. Afterwards, he chewed us out for the actions of two of us this past Sunday. Apparently someone had tattled, becasue he wasn`t even in Church on Sunday. He said if he catches us being irreverent (sleeping, reading Scriptures not of the lesson) again, hed take us into the hall. Just so youknow, I wasn`t one of the offenders. When he gave us that little lecture, it was done in a very considerate, loving way. The other 3 Elders were offended. I thought it was cool. As a Leader, I`ve found I`m TOO loving, and sometimes people don`t listen to me. Thanks to this brother`s righteous example, I can be a better leader. I got sick in the evening, throwing up 3 times. I`m feling better now. The other companionship traveled to Concepción tonight, for the Conference tomorrow. We`ll be going tomorrow.
Wednesday: Today was great! I mean I`m really happy right now. I actually heard something cool in our conference: Happiness is a decision. I think that`s true. The trick is doing it even when it`s hard. Anyway, we had our big conference today. We got up at 5:00 so we could take our bus to Concepción. As we got to the Meeting--well, a half-hour before it--I studied Scripture Mastery for 10 min. with Elders Woodward and Rasmussen (Elder Rasmussen and I were the only two to get 100% on the test), the San Pedro Zone Leaders. We spent most of the day learning about improving our teaching skils. We had some really cool object lessons. For example, Elder Tanner had us mention investigator doubts and solutions. We`d then get to try and hit a bulls-eye on a dartboard, representing us trying to findInvestigator`s doubts on our own. Then, he played a track on his iPod (low volume) and told us to listen to the "spirit`s" voice, telling us to throw the dart at the ballon in the garbage can in the corner. I was the first one to recognize it, and got to throw from 4 ft. away. After 5 freakin` failed tries, I gave up. analogy to my mission work (being able to find the doubts but not executing the teaching)? Maybe. It was embarrasing. Elder Brady got it on his first try. I talked with Pres. afterward, asking permission to go baptize Scarlet on the 25th. He said transfers were this week, and I`d be leaving. He gave me permission and thanked me for my patience with elder Brady. He said I`d passed through the trial of faith and now the blessings can come. He thanked me for my obedience and righteousness (in front of everyone, no less) and told me he wanted me to be a Zone Leader (in private) somewhere in Concepción. Wow. I didn`t see that coming. I actually feel really good about it. Better than if he`d told me I`d be training. Whew! YEAH!!! We came back at 9:00 PM and had a [very] late lunch with Hna. Diaz. She`s so awesome.
Thursday: today was a good day. for my personal study, I read some little stories from the January Liahona. they were both about people`s conversion tories. And the cool part was that they were totally miraculous! One told of a girl that got a copy of the Book of mormon form a co-worker, saying that he knew it was a true book of Jesus Christ`s Gospel, and that it would touch her heart. she read it and loved it. Some time later, she moved. One day, she passed abuilding witha stained-glass window of Lehi`s dream. She asked a emmber, and he referred her to the Missionaries. For the Missionaries, it was someone who randomly showed up, wanting to be baptized. It happens. But there is so much that goes on behind the scenes, that we`re not even aware of. Heavenly Father knows each of us, and will do everything to give us the chance to choose happiness. It just depends on us. We had lunch with Hna. Judith, Hno. Neira`s sister. We had CFC--Chilean Fried chicken. It was good. In the afternoon, I had to o with Elder smith to Interview their Investigator, Paula. She`s really smart. And she told me of some of her Spiritual experiences. She`d been told if she wanted to know something, she just had to ask. she asked a question on Fast Sunda. Then, someone testified of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and Joseph SMith. She said she felt, lik, a wind on her face and a feeling that it was true. As I finihed the closin prayer, she looked like she had something to say. At my request, she told me she felt a calm energy on her back as I prayed. It gave her goosebumps, which she never gets. I still have the Spirit!
Friday: Today was great. 2 years ago, from today, Elder Lisonbee went into the MTC. He completed his 24 months of service. So I gave him a call to congradulate him and see how he was feeling. He said he was dead, and that he was sleeping in. Haha! I can`t believe he`s DONE!!! It feels like it coul dnever end. And, indeed, there are many times when I wish it wouldn`t. It`s sad to think I won`t be able to see him for a while. But I know I`ll see him again soon. It`s just another way the Mission relates to real life. I mean, Grandfather and Grandpa have both died, and I was sad. It wasn`t the grief of a permanent loss, but of emporary separation. We`ll see each other again when I finish my mortal mission, just like I`lls ee Elder Lisonbee in a few months. We`ll watch the new Spider-man movie together--AT MIDNIGHT!!! On our way to lunch, a dog HOWLED at us. Like a wolf. It was sweet. Elder Smith also completed 2 years today. He wasn`t too inclined to work. I didn`t push him. He FINISHED his Mission. That`s so cool. We workedin the afternoon, and met a few people. the most receptive was Gloria. We took our clothes to Hna. Nidia`s. As I shared a Scripture, I discovered I had opened to yet another one about humility. Totally accidental, but it struck a chord in her. She talked bout someone who was offended by her actions, but she assured us she never does anything wrong, and she was the victim. She wouldn`t listen. We (Elder Maldonado and I) met with Hno. Neira for correlation, because Elder Smith got sick.
Saturday: Today was a great day. I spent it with Elder Smith, `cause he asked me to. He`s kinda freakin` out because he`s going to see his family in only a few days more. In the morning, we played some cards while just talking. He told me about all the things he`s excited to do/eat/see when he gets back. I just listened. I`m pretty good at that. Our lunch was a little different today. We had a Branch activity where the little kids got to play in inflatable pools an there was a big tarp to make shad for the adults. For lunch, we had Umitas. In Mexico, they`re caled Taales. Basically, they`re rolls of mashed-up corn and onions. The eat them with sugar, and they`re pretty good. We`re probably going to have leftovers tomorrow. :) We spent a while trying to figure out how to get the font going, for the baptism, because it was acting up. But we did that and waited for it to fill. Then we had Paula`s baptism. She belongs to the other Missionaries. Al went well. In the afternoon, I wrote a reply to Miriam. She`s serving in New York. That`s pretty cool. I got a call in the night, telling me the transfers. I`m going to be a zone Leader in the Talcahuano North Zone, in the "Cruz del Sur" sector with Elder Aparicio. I`ve heard he`s good. Elder Mendenhall is replacing me, here, to be with Elder Brady. I called Hna. Pinar in Los Angeles, to tell her how much I loved and missed her. My hijo`s leaving to be in Temuco Cautín. That`s cool. Elder Calaway and Elder Montalbán are going to be Zone Leaders in the other Zones of the North with me. WOOT!!! I love being a Missionary.
Sunday: So, I woke up to a phone call from the Zone Leaders, telling me that the Olivares family, from Tirúa, want me to baptize their 8 year-old daughter, Belén--this Saturday. Dang it! I`m getting transferred. I`ll have to check with Pres. Martinez and my new comp. But it`s great to have both Scarlet and the Olivares family wanting me to be part of their lives. I love them all. In SAcrament Meeting, all of the themes were basic stuff. I used to get bored of all the repetition, but I realized something really obvious: basics are fundamental. I hear lots of Missionaries say things like, "I can`t wait to do such-and-such with my Eternal Companion." But it`s not like we can just skip there, like it`s automatic. We cannoat make Temple Covenants if we can`t do simple things like daily Scripture study. So those primary talks became very important to me. I just love being instructed by the Spirit. Elder Smith and Elder Maldonado went to Concepción for Elder Smith`s Interview (the office people actually screwed things up, and he actually didn`t have it today, and had to come back). We had lunch with Hna. Bernardina. She`s Elder Oversby`s convert. I`m so grateful for all of the Sisters` sacrifices in our lunches. they WWILL receive blessings. The good news is that Elder Smith`s trip to Concepción was not COMPLETELY in vain: I got a letter from Cassie!!! It was awesome. :D