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, March 7, 2012
Monday: Today was the two-year anniversary of the big earthquake that hit Chile. It hit just a week-and-a-half after I got my calling to here. They were running a bunch of cool celebration/memorial programs all day. they actually made a movie that airs next week. Elder Burch and I left LA at 8:15 in the morning. We stopped by the office, for mail, and I found I had my "trunky nametag" waiting for me. It´s like a regular one, but under my name, it says "Misión Chile Concepción Sur." You can order it during your last 6 months, but you can only wear it during your last transfer. We switched back with our comps at villa acero. My comp. said he´d missed me. That was surprising, but awesome. We had lunch delivered to us. That was awesome, too. Last week, the Mall burned down--along with all the gringo food: McDonald´s, Pizza Hut, and I was looking forward to trying Burger King. Not anymore :( We then wrote the family. Mama wrote me a poem, ´cause she knows I like them. I love her so much. Cassie /(sister) sent me a photo of my plaque that´s hanging in the church, and said I look old. That photo´s 4 years old! Daddy´s still healing. In the evening, we were going to go with a Sister to pick up some Sister Missionaries who were going to be travelling. But my comp. and the gringa, who doesn´t have much experience with Spanish, had a miscommunication. when I spoke with her, she said they+´d be travelling on Thursday. The Sister, that was going to help, was Hna. Barrigas. We had completos and she gave me advice on how to know if I´m choosing the right wife: if she thinks the same as me.
Tuesday: Today was a great day. My comp. and I are getting along a lot better, knowing what to expect of each other and dealing with it. Elder Aparicio is laughing and joking more. It feels good, having overcome such a big obstacle. I had a Spiritual experience today, in my Personal study. I was reading my Patriarchal blessing for the first time in about a year. There were two big things that hit me, but I´m only gonna be vague in this writing. The most important thing that hit me was a promise from the Lord, concerning my children, and when I read that promise, and what it was giving me, a huge amount of peace and comfort hit me and I KNEW that Heavenly Father knows me. He does, and it just made my spirit sing as he spoke with me. It was very special to me. It´s the same feeling as always, but I think it´s interesting that those thoughts were placed in my heart--irremovable, undoubtable. We had lunch in the house. We worked in the Afternoon, but weren´t able to find our investigators. In the evening, we had a meeting with the Ward Missionaries. We taught them how to teach the Book of Mormon. I was surprised at the amount of info. we had to give, regarding teaching methods. But they all di well. I called elder Calaway, to wish him a happy "monthday." When I told him that was why I was calling, he said, "I´m so jealous of your big heart." We both laughed. He said he´s learned a lot in these few weeks as a Zone Leader. I´ve been learning, too!
Wednesday(Leap Year!): Today was a good day. My comp. wasn´t feeling so good, though. He´s been grinding his teeth lately, and one of his fillings popped off, and now it´s hurting him. So, I got up and prepared a class to give to the Zone. I decided to teach "How to find the Lord´s Elect" based on the book Sister Tan wrote and gave to me. When we got to our Distrizona Meeting, we felt we should change it, and focus on teaching more lessons with a member present. It went really well, and I got to share my experience of helping my convert from Hualpencillo, María. I really like being a Zone Leader. I´ve just felt like I´ve had a lot of good ideas, and now I can share them with people, and they LISTEN to me. but, saying it like that, I realize I have a lot to learn still, because I should be focused 100% on helping THEM, not me. After lunch, we asked the Sister if we could visit one of her neighbors. She was VERY reluctant, but we got a referral. Some Sister Missionaries travelled here, from Victoria, tonight. they didn´t know how to get to their Sector, so we arranged for Hna. Barrigas to pick them up. when that was all set up, we went to visit Aurora. She´s doing well, but not really progressing. We got a referral from the Office--someone who wants to be baptized. WOOT!!! But when we went by, his Mom answered and said he´s going to Santiago tomorrow, for several months. Dang it! During lunch, my comp. told the Sister that I was his favorite comp. I didn´t believe him until he reaffirmed it in the evening. Thenm, I felt a whole lot better. It´s definitely been an intense companionship, but it just goes to show that when you talk things out, everything gets resolved just fine.
Thursday: Today was a good day. We went out to buy breakfast in the mornign. I offered to buy for my comp. ´cause he doesn´t have any. At the register, he said, "I´d help, but I lost my money last week." I thought he was saying it out of spite for our incident last week. I tried to defend myself, and he got offended again because he HADN´T been sarcastic. He had a hole in his pants and had actually lost his money! So we talked when we got home, and he got mad and walked out. I swept the downstairs, and he said he wasn´t gonna eat the big amount of food I´d bought (Most was what he had asked for), because if I´d ahd the intent to share with him, I´d have prepared it for him. He said I was a prideful gringo with lots of money. That made me cry because I´ve been trying so hard to be humble. I read talks about charity and optimism. I found comfort there. After lunch, we did a contact and Elder Aparicio bashed with him. He was a Pastor. I made the comment, afterward, that he was aggressive. When we got to the house, he said we needed to talk...again. He asked what bothered me most about him. I said that the fact that assumed the worst in me, making him easy to offend. He nodded and surprised me by saying, "I feel the same way about you." And he was right,. so I decided right there to try better and put forth conscious effort to think good of him. I told him 5 good things I found in him. Things got slightly better after that. We planned out our plan to help our Zone in the afternoon. In the evening, some missionaries arrived for oour council tomorrow. Elder Tavernier, Elder Lisonbee´s hijo, is one of them. He´s so great. I´m really tired now.
Friday: So, for the ipast two weeks we´ve been having daily tremors of about 4pts. on the richter scale. It´s like your house is driving down the freeway, hitting bumps in the road--but the whole city feels it. We got up at 5:30 so we could p lay soccer as Zone Leaders of the Mission. We had lots of fun. Then, we showered and changed before going to the Mission Pres´s. home, for my first Zone Leader Council. It was great! We spent a lot of time taking turns, explaining what were some challenges in February, as wella s our plans for march. Our focus, as a Mission, will be working with the Members, and I´m so excited. right when we got back, we went to re-interview Hector from Las Salinas. he´d smoked right before his baptism, last week. But this eek he seemed a lot better. After that, we went to an FHE with Hno. Maldonado, our WArd Mission Leader. There, he shared a VERY inspired class. It was about saying nice things and not getting angry. He shared 2 Nephi 2:27, which says we´re free to choose to DO good or DO evil. Hno. Maldonado focused his lesson on choosing to SAY good or SAY evil. But the Spirit confirmed to me that we can also choose to SEE good or SEE evil in others. Hno. Maldonado shared 2 Nephi 4:27 which says we shouldn´t get angry. Matt. 12: 34-36 says that as a man speaks, so is he. And, lately, I´ve been wondering if I should be more bold, so I´m not picked on so much. But Hna. Maldonado mentioned that Pres. Hinckley´s wife fell in love with him because he was gentle, softspoken, and noble. I think I can work on the "noble" part, but it brought peace to me, knowing that I don´t have to be a macho. At night, Elder Aparicio shared 2 Nephi 4:26-32 and explained it was his conversion Scripture. He cried from emotion, and I was grateful the Spirit had touched him so.
Saturday: We got up this mornign and went to get some groceries. And we did it without fighting. I had a good personal study. In the last general conference, Elder Cook gave a talk called, "The Songs they couldn´t sing." At the end, he quoted a hymn that said, "And Jesus list´ning can hear the songs I cannot sing."That just struck a chord in me. There was many times when I can´t express myself, or when I do things secretly because I know jit´s the right thing to do, and I just feel alone sometimes. But to know that someone KNOWS me absolutely, even if I don´t, and loves me despite my shortcomings, is a huge comfort. I also realized something about myself, today: I act and think according to how the people surrounding me treat me. It´s not really a good trait, but true nonetheless. Every time iI was around Kayla, after she dumped me, I immediately became sad. I couldn´t avoid it. When I was with Elder Zuñiga, I was the ibest I´d ever been: happy, confident, funny, and outgoing. When I´m with Elder Aparicio, even though we get along better now, I´m stiill kind of reserved and don´t talk much. Sio I´m going to choose to surround myself with people who make me happy when I get back. We had lunch with Hna. Valdevenito. She said I spoke Spanish better than my comp. We visited Tomás, and then dropped off our clothes. We spent a good chunk of the night getting the numbers, instead of right after church tomorrow. the Sisters in our Zone, Hna´s Oliver and Baker, are so great. They tried to set up their Investigator´s interfiew today, but his wife, who´s a member, stopped them. they were a little disappointed, so I gave them a Scripture to read and they said they really appreciated it.
Sunday: Not a lot happened today. We got up and went to Ward Council. There, Hno. Maldonado reviewed the MIssion Plan for the Ward, and the parts that each of the organizations will play. It´s really great because of the new focus the Mission is putting on working with members. Hno. Maldonado has a lot of fire going for him, just pumped up and ready to work with us. I haven´t been in many sectors with a Ward Mission Leader this good. Eduardo maldonado (a different guy) is absolutely hilarious. He makes me laugh every time we talk. Today, he said if I ever come back to Chile, I HAVE to stay in his house. He´s awesome. The class in Sunday School was on Prayer. It´s such a big part of this work and real conversion. During lunch, I traded ties with the 2nd counselor in the Bishopric for a sweet green tie. The afternoon was kind of hectic, because we had to get a lot of info. for the new form the Misison is using to report weekly. It´s online, so I didn´t know what to expect beforehand. It took a while to work through. We spent the Afternoon with Aurora. she´s not a member, and she won´t let us commit her to things...yet. Right now, we´re trying to get her trust and teach her correct principles. It´s working. She comes to Church most weeks. She just needs to read and pray. That´s all. She´ll get there.