Monday, December 28, 2015

Happy New Year

HELLO.   

I can't believe another year has come and gone. It seems like time just goes by quicker and quicker each year. It's crazy. Christmas in Georgia was absolutely one to remember. As my home in Utah was getting a white Christmas we were getting a hot and humid one. The whole week leading up to Christmas had been wet and rainy so when we got up Christmas morning, through on our warm clothes and walked out the door, we were shocked to see that it was sunny and HOT. So we had to go back in and change back into our summer clothes. Definitely not use to that.

As Sister Foster and I were trying to think of service opportunities we had the idea to text all the relief society sisters to see if they needed help wrapping presents. We had quite a few who responded and wanted us to help! It was so fun, of course our purpose for going over was to get referrals. And we had quite a few, all wanting us to give their friends and family a living Christmas card. Christmas Eve we went over to the Palmer family's home (a family in our Ward) and acted out Helaman 13-3 Nephi 1 in the Book of Mormon. I had never done that before, but it was the greatest thing. We were just laughing so hard (:

Christmas morning we headed over to Bishops home for breakfast and we were able to be there as his kids opened their presents. So fun. We actually had a TON of lessons Christmas Day. Less actives, investigators, and of course the members wanted us to come over. And of course I got to Skype my family! (S/O to my fam! Love you!) it was a perfect day, besides the humidity. I have never received so many fuzzy socks in all my life. Haha

Soooo a few little miracles this week:

1: We have been like basically out of miles and Sister Foster doesn't have a bike yet.. SO we've been walking everywhere. As we were walking to a lesson on the other side of town we see a woman jogging toward us. PERF. I love street contacting. (: so as we were about to start talking to her, she yells out to us. "Are y'all from the church of Latter-day Saints?" "Yes" "Oh good! I love you guys!" Caroline then gives us a hug and proceeds to tell us that the sisters she had been working with about a year earlier had all of a sudden stopped coming. And then she says this: " Most people say y'all are a cult, but I don't believe that. And if you are, you're the coolest cult ever!" We will be seeing Caroline later this week. If we would've had more miles we would never met her. See how Heavenly Father works?

2: We were kind of in a sketchy neighborhood, and our lesson there had just fallen through so we  decide to go tracting. As we were walking down the street we decide to just go to the homes that had mini vans (because that usually means families). By doing this we found 4 new investigators who had met with missionaries before but they had never come back to teach them... (That seems to be a theme here in Athens.) THEN. We continued to walk and this group of guys spotted us and called for us to come over. Now, normally we might have gone over, but they were drunk and smoking who knows what and so we didn't. We needed to turn around. BUT it's awkward to just turn around after they had called to us, so we spotted a home right next to us with a Christmas tree in the window. Sister Foster says "LOOK SISTER. Christmas Tree! That means nice people, right?!" Haha so we go. Dennis answers the door, we were able to teach him about the Book of Mormon. When we ask him if he would be interested in learning more he says "I'll go get the girls." He comes back with a couple women who are so excited to see us! They give us a hug right then and then asked if we could come back on Saturday so their kids could be there to learn too. Three new investigators all because we had felt uncomfortable and spotted a Christmas Tree. (:

I was able to finish the Book of Mormon again this week! I absolutely love the things we are able to learn from the Book of Mormon each new time we read it. As I've been starting over I noticed a scripture is never really notice before in 1 Nephi 18. This is when Lehi and his family are on the ship, heading to America and Nephi is bound by his brothers. There was a huge storm and after 3 days Nephi's brothers finally loosed the cords that bound him. In verse 21 it says "And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord; and after I had prayed the winds did cease, and the storm did cease, and there was a great calm."

I think many times we are going through storms of our own. And I love how the first thing Nephi does is pray and the storm is calmed. As we pray to our Heavenly Father and put our complete faith and trust in Him, He will help us calm our storms and we can feel the peace that we desire.

I love y'all! I hope you had a great Christmas and I wish you a Happy New Year!!

Love, Sister Merritt





Merry Christmas!

HELLOHOHOHO. 

We have had an insanely busy week. But then again, whats new? We are always busy. First and foremost, I have a new companion!! Sister Foster, from Washington/Idaho. She is just the cutest thing and is an AMAZING missionary. Like, amazing. I am so lucky to be her companion! And I am just super excited to be with her for the next seven weeks at least...hopefully longer. (: 

We have a new investigator named Vernon. He actually should be going to the branch, but nobody is at the branch right now because school is out, so after school comes back in we will have to hand him over to the UGA sisters. He is just super prepared, we found him when we were walking down a street one day and he had just moved here about a week ago. He is the sweetest thing and came to church on Sunday and absolutely loved it! He hit it off with the elders too. which is great. But if the elders are thinking of taking him away from us... nope. not happening. Anyway, he is on date for baptism the beginning of February.(:

We went over to Sister Schildknecht's home (a less-active member) and we just did the Christmasy-Christmas activities. We made Gingerbread cookies and decorated them, we had hot cocoa, listened to Christmas music (MoTab. Don't worry.) and decorated her home. It was the funnest thing ever. I just love her and Christmas, so it was a good combination. 

We have still been getting a lot of headquarter referrals for free Bibles, So we have been filling our days with delivering those and sharing the Book of Mormon as well. We have been getting a lot of new investigators from this, and we feel so blessed to be here at this time, knowing that there are so many people being prepared. As we were walking down the road one day, after delivering a Bible we ran into a man named Charles. He stopped and talked to us and told us his whole life story. Seriously. His WHOLE life story. He can talk. haha but he had actually met with Elders before when he lived in New York and actually got really close to baptism. But when he moved here, he didn't have any way to find the church. He was the kindest person, with so much faith. We are lucky to have found him. And it just showed us that even when the referral doesn't want to learn more, you are there for a reason.. we just have to go find that reason. 

I can't believe that it is already Christmas, the days seem to go by so fast. But I am extremely grateful to be sharing the message of Jesus Christ's restored gospel at this time. I do know that He loves us. I know that He listens to our prayers and He answers them. I know that He was born for us. It was the greatest act of love. I love this gospel. How lucky am I to be here at this time? Goodness. (: I wouldn't trade this experience for the world. I hope ya'll have a very merry Christmas!!

I love y'all!

Love, Sister Merritt

Friday, December 18, 2015

Happy HOLLANDay's

HELLO.

YES. ELDER HOLLAND CAME. HE SHOOK MY HAND. HE KNOWS MY NAME. AND HE SPOKE TO US TWO DAYS IN A ROW. MY LIFE IS COMPLETE. ❤️    We will get back to this later though...

First, it has been a crazy week. We have had TONS of lessons this week, the work is really progressing here in Athens. There is something cycling around on Facebook in Athens about our church giving out free bibles and so we have had tons of referrals for free bibles lately. But the great thing is that they also want to learn about the Book of Mormon! So yay, lots of new investigators!

Sister Bennion (mission presidents wife) is just super into music and caroling and so she is having us all go caroling every night and doing a "living Christmas card" which is basically just a Christmas hymn, reading the story of Christ's birth from the Bible and leaving a blessing on the home and at the end asking if they would like to send a living Christmas card to anyone else. I have loved this (after we got over the awkward "only us singing" thing.) So has everyone else. And it has resulted in a couple new investigators and really good friendships (: The relief society presidency also took us out caroling to a bunch of less actives which was so much fun... Even though everyone would end up laughing really hard in the middle of the song because we were awful. Just awful. and I was left to sing by myself...

The Assistants called and told me I'm training! Again. My third born in the wilderness. There is only ONE sister coming in and I get her. YAY. (: I'm super excited, even though I'm sad Sister Dowdle is leaving me... ): she has great things ahead of her in California.

CHARLIE WAS BAPTIZED. He was so excited. We had his baptism right before the Ward Christmas party so a lot of people would show up and it worked great. A ton of the Ward was involved and he just loves the Ward so much, and the Ward loves him. <3 He's the cutest old man.

Okay. Elder Holland first came to speak only to the sisters on Friday night. Not just the sister missionaries (that would be a dream) but to the sisters of the church in general. There was not a single dry eye in the audience. Here's a couple of notes from that.

-You're probably not perfect, and I know I'm not. But this is the church of God. This IS God's truth. 

-The church, the gospel, the priesthood, the principles, the ordinances. It's true. I am not following a fairytale! And if there's some potholes and freckles and zits, welcome to life.

- Whatever the question, my beloved sisters, the answer is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

- When you feel like your life, plans, dreams, etc are broken.. I remind you that God loves broken things.

- There are cycles in like and moments in life, there's a sequence in life that does require breaking and healing. This is life. There's a plan to it. And if we can hang on and see it for its progression and be patient and trust, then we can see the reason for these seasons, these moments. Everything has a purpose.

- God may love more than anything in the world, short of human beings, but the thing that he loves most, is a broken heart.

- Jesus Christ comes and changes sacrifice of blood and burnt offerings to a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Move away from the physical offerings of the lamb and move more celestial toward the sacrament. It is going to require some pain, some experience. If we say we are disciples of Jesus Christ what does that mean? It means that we have to be willing to walk where he walked, feel what he felt, cry the tears he shed. And Jesus Christ died of a broken heart.

- Maybe your broken heart is for someone else.

- There's plenty of chance and a world of opportunity to have a broken heart.

- Our offer is only symbolic. We aren't going to carry a cross to Calvert. We aren't going to be Jesus, we are going to be disciples. The road to salvation always goes towards Gethsemane. The road to salvation is always going to go a few steps towards Calvary.

And then he spoke to the missionaries. Saturday morning. The Georgia Atlanta and the Georgia Atlanta North Missions (: he shook our hands and looked into the very center of my soul. It was a surreal experience. (: all about teaching with power and continuing in the faith when we get home. His main message was to "Go and Astonish people." So that's what we are working on.

Sorry it's so long. Props to you if you read all this. "You get a gold
star and a chocolate cookie!" - Elder Holland.

Love y'all!     Sister Merritt





Monday, December 7, 2015

Working Hard - Miracles Keep Coming

Hey y'all.

Can I just tell you that SO many miracles have happened this week and I can't even begin to tell you what exactly happened because it was completely led by the spirit. We have gone into so many lessons this week planning on dropping people and somehow have come out with them on date to be baptized. And not just anyone, but ETERNIGATORS. (That's people who have been investigating for years for all you newbies).

District meeting I gave a training on Baptism and encouraged everyone to invite everyone to be baptized this week and just see how it goes. SO.. Sister Dowdle and I were the only ones to take my challenge.... but IT WORKED.

Like I said in my last email, we had a lady named Leila call us telling us she was interested in learning more. Monday night we went over to her home and talked with her, answering her questions and gave her a passage in the Book of Mormon to read and pray over. We went back over Friday evening and she had done her homework. She told us she felt something while she was reading it, but it was hard to explain. We testified to her that it was the Holy Ghost and its role is to testify of truth. She knew it was true. We invited her to be baptized December 26th, she started crying and accepted!

The same day we went into Carolyn's home. Carolyn has been investigating for a long time now and she said she just doesn't seem to be getting an answer to her prayers about Joseph smith or what we had taught her. Sister Dowdle and I had prayed long and hard about what to do and we truly felt she could receive an answer by January 2nd. We told her this, and she, too, accepted the invitation to be baptized.

NEXT, and possibly the greatest miracle of all was Cedric. We really planned out his drop talk good. Cedric has been investigating for YEARS. And doesn't seem to be going anywhere. He's in his late 30s, has an 8 year old daughter and he's a professor at UGA. He has been really interested in the concept of faith lately so we decided to start off by talking about that. He then began to ask a lot of questions. We were most definitely led by the spirit in the answers we gave him. After we answered one question in particular he paused for a long time. We didn't say anything and just let the spirit take over. Finally, when he did respond, he said that our church WAS different from any other church. He confessed to us that, before, he had just enjoyed the missionaries coming over to give him a spiritual and uplifting message as well as company and friendship. But now, he knew that our church was based off of love, and it truly made him want to become serious about it. We felt prompted to ask him about a baptismal date of January 9th. Although he was a little hesitant at first, he accepted. Wow, how lucky and grateful am I for the Holy Ghost! We could not have done that without the guidance it gave us. I honestly don't remember exactly what even happened in the lesson. All I know, was that the spirit was present, and it definitely took over.

We had the Stake Festival of the Nativity Saturday night, which Anna and Trevor came to, which was fantastic!! Also, Herman will no longer be baptized this Saturday due to unfortunate circumstances. The elders now have to work with him, which makes us sad, but it's for the best. BUT, Charlie will be baptized this Saturday! We are so excited for him and he is so excited as well. He paid his tithing this Sunday and is just progressing so well!

OH, I forgot to mention. SISTER DOWDLE GOT HER MISSION CALL (my temporary companion I am training). Yes, she's a special missionary. She gets two mission calls. She is going to the Fresno California mission and she's so excited! I'm excited for her even though I'm sad she's leaving me.

Anyways, I learned a lot this week. I especially learned that Jesus Christ is the head of this church and if we strive to follow the promptings of the spirit, let It take over and put your complete trust in the Lord, we will see so many miracles. I love y'all! Stay Good. (:

Love, Sister Merritt

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Thanksgiving

Hello! 

I hope y'all had a fabulous thanksgiving and ate lots of food (: we have had such a good week.

First, Herman stopped smoking! He hasn't had a cigarette for a week now, so he is back on date to be baptized the 12th of December. He is trying so hard and he wants to be baptized so badly. So Charlie and Herman will have a combined baptism (: we are so excited!

Second, HAPPY THANKSGIVING. Thursday morning we helped with a 8k which was just super fun. Basically all we did was stand on a corner and told people to turn right, but it was so much fun (: we saw lots of running turkeys. We then went to the Lee's home for Thanksgiving dinner. It was delicious and was so fun to be with them for thanksgiving. They had lots of family over, so it was a crowded home but plenty of food (: we then went around to a bunch of the members and investigators and put something on their doors letting them know how much we are thankful for them (: it was a good day.

Third, we had many miracles happen this week. One day we had just finished a lesson with a less active and we where on our way to other side of town for our plans, but we felt like we needed to turn around and go the opposite way to stop in on another less active. We did. They weren't home. We had a potential who lived in that same neighborhood and we decided to visit him, even though his car wasn't there. A woman opened the door saying "Where have you been!? I haven't seen you girls in forever! You look good!" We were really surprised because we had never met this woman in our lives. We played along though and she told us she really needed to be closer to Heavenly Father at this point in her life. It was amazing to see how Heavenly Father was able to lead us to her right when she needed us most.

Last night we received a phone call from a lady named Leila. She had told us that she had been meeting with missionaries online but they told her to contact us. She had a lot of questions that she wanted answers to. She had met with missionaries before about a year ago, but she was only just curious about what we believe, so they dropped her. She told us though that she continued to read and she knows and feels deep down that is right and true, but she's scared. She was so excited when we told her that we would love to meet with her and help her he best we could. People are being prepared, and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to find those people (or for them to find us!)

Anna is still doing great! We love her so much! We had a lesson planned this week and she calls us up and says "could we go get pedicures while you teach me?" So naturally we said "of course!" So now, my toes are happy and her soul is becoming happier (: win win.

Anyway, I am so thankful for this gospel and the opportunity I have to be on a mission. I'm thankful for my Savior who is with me every step of the way. Every door I knock, every person I talk with, every card I share, I know He is there. I'm thankful for family and friends like y'all who are the best support system that I could ever ask for. I love you!

Love, Sister Merritt





Monday, November 23, 2015

Temples and THE Best News!

Hey y'all

This week has been fun. WE WENT TO THE TEMPLE. It was wonderful . I wish I could go to the temple every day on my mission. Sister Dowdle and I felt like we just received so much direction on what to do with some of our investigators and I was able to feel the peace that I just needed at this time. On our way home we  saw a big yellow billboard that just said "JESUS" on it #onlyinthesouth and on the other side it said "Coming Soon!" Lol I don't even know. Like, why? But it was funny.

Wednesday we helped the UGA sisters with their booth on campus and got tons of great contacts. We usually put a whiteboard up with a question that people can come up and answer. So the question was "What are you grateful for?" And guess what! Someone put my name! And they weren't even a member! Wow, I felt special. Haha but we did get the UGA sisters a ton of new investigators and they're solid too. Campus is the place to be.

We had a bunch of less active work happening this week. Our Ward bishopric gave us a list of over 100 people to contact and we finally got it finished. Not very many people were still interested in us coming and visiting with them or coming back to church, but we were still able to contact them and know that they really do exist. We also had dinner with Trevor and Anna this week, they're my favorite people that we are working with. I just adore them and I know Anna will get baptized someday. Trevor is just sharing so much about the church with her and she's reading the Book of Mormon and doing her assignments and ahh! Love them.

We also put Charlie Elder on date to be baptized! Yay! The 12th of December. Put it on your calendars (; haha

So. Get ready for the BEST news you have ever heard. You may want to sit down. ELDER HOLLAND IS COMING TO SPEAK WITH US! Also on the 12th of December. I am beyond excited!! I'll keep y'all updated. Anyways, I hope y'all have the best Thanksgiving. I'm grateful for all of you! And of course I'm so grateful for this gospel. It's perfect. And I'm so happy to be sharing it with those around me.

Love, Sister Merritt









Parable of the Testimony

NOVEMBER 15th

Hello y'all (:

I hope y'all had a FABULOUS week as I know I have here in good ol' Athens, GA.

First: HERMAN PRAYED! After teaching him for so long, Herman finally said the prayer. It was short, and simple, but beautiful and heartfelt. Also, he is reading the Book of Mormon! Which is also a miracle. Wow, Herman is doing great. He still hasn't found a place to live, but we're still praying for him.

Second:  We found two new investigators this week. Glenda and Victor. We went to one of our investigators on Tuesday who we were going to have to drop because he really wasn't progressing and he was always drunk when we went over. As we approached the house he told us to go ahead inside and start teaching his sons as he continued to sit in his garage with a bunch of other people and smoke his cigarette. However, there wasn't a woman in the house. So we told him we couldn't go inside without another woman. Glenda, heard us say this and asked us what church we were from, and when we told her we were Mormon she asked if she could join us inside. We promptly agreed and she brought her nine year old son inside as well so we could teach them both. We taught the restoration and you could tell she was truly soaking it all in. Afterward, we asked if she would be interested in learning more, resulting in a return appointment and two new investigators. This never would have happened if we hadn't of been obedient to the missionary handbook or "The Book of Blessings" as our mission Presidents wife, Sister Bennion, calls it.

Third:  We taught the Trevor and Anna this week, they were excited as ever to see us. They had also kept their commitment and had read the Book of Mormon! Anna likes it a lot and Trevor is there to explain it to her if she gets confused. They are the cutest couple ❤️    They are taking us to dinner this week. I'm way excited.

Fourth:  I just want every single person in the world to meet Charlie. He is the sweetest thing. He came to church again this Sunday. He just loves it so much and is soaking everything in! We plan on putting him on date this week, wish us luck!

SPIRITUAL THOUGHT

I was reading the parable of the talents and remembered something I have learned on my mission:

Now, Talents weren't referred to the skills we have like we usually talk about when we talk about the parable of the talents (a good cook, a wonderful piano player, etc) Rather, talents were a from of money. And it was very valuable. SO, I like to replace the word TALENTS with TESTIMONY. Because a testimony is extremely valuable and we have multiple testimonies. I could have a testimony on tithing, on prayer and on the atonement. And another person could have a testimony on keeping the sabbath day holy and the word of wisdom and so on... SO...

15 And unto one he gave five testimonies, another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

16 Then he that had received the five testimonies went and traded with the same, and made them other five testimonies.

17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.

18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.

19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.

20 And so he that had received five testimonies came and brought other five testimonies, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five testimonies: behold, I have gained beside them five testimonies more.

21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

22 He also that had received two testimonies came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two testimonies: behold, I have gained two other testimonies beside them.

23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

24 Then he which had received the one testimony came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:

25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy testimony in the earth.

I know that as we share the testimonies we have been given, we will not only help others gain more testimonies, but we will also gain more ourselves. Sometimes it's a little bit scary getting up in front of people to share what you know and believe. But we can share our testimonies in multiple different ways. Whether by being an example, to sharing a quote from General Conference on Facebook, to teaching your children. I hope we all have the opportunity to share our testimony this week. And I know as we do that, our Heavenly Father will look down on us and say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

I hope y'all have a wonderful week. 

Love, Sister Merritt

We found a swing and it was too tempting.



Monday, November 9, 2015

Autumn Miracles

Hello!

I know I say this a lot, but our Heavenly Father has been blessing us so much! God is so good! So first of all, last week we met the sweetest old man named Charlie as we were walking down the street. He was going for a nice stroll and we started talking to him about the Book of Mormon. He was genuinely interested and gave us his contact information and a time we could visit him again. We met with Charlie this week, taught him the restoration, and invited him to read from the Book of Mormon. Now, Charlie is actually illiterate, but he knows the basics of reading and promised us he would read and pray. Well, he did, and he came to church on Sunday and absolutely loved it! He's so excited for us to come back this week to teach him more!

Last week we miraculously met a less active, Trevor, who wasn't on our Ward roster yet. He invited us to come over this week to meet his non-member wife, Anna. They had just moved here about a month ago, they have been married for just a couple years now, no kids and Anna actually LOVES the sister missionaries. She said the sisters would come over all the time just to hang out with them. I then proceeded to ask her what the sisters had taught her about the Book of Mormon. Nothing. THE SISTERS WERE SLACKING. So, we tell her about the Book of Mormon and Trevor is getting excited and wants to share what he knows too. We can tell that Trevor wants to come back so bad, but doesn't want to be pushy with religion to his wife. Now he doesn't have to...we will!! Anna was actually super interested as well and they are now reading the Book of Mormon as a family. We have high hopes for them (:

Herman was able to get a priesthood blessing to help him with the word of wisdom this week. He actually read the Book of Mormon!!! HALLELUJAH! Aaaannnnd had questions about it, which NEVER happens. He's progressing slowly but surely. We keep moving his baptism date back until he truly understands the covenant he is going to be making, but he'll get there.

Jayne is a less active/recent convert that we have been working with. She is the sweetest, cutest lady, it's just hard for her to get to church for medical reasons. Because she hasn't been able to make it to church, not very many people in the Ward know her, so it's hard for her because she needs a lot of help around the house and driving to the store, etc and she doesn't have family around to help her. She's also a retired interior designer (my major!) so we have lots of talks and she gives me good advice. Anyway, as we were leaving her house after helping her this week her neighbor who she had just met came over to visit with Jayne. Carol is a fashion designer, very classy lady. She's not religious at all, but knows a lot about Mormons and really loves our values and stance on family. Long story short, we got talking with her and taught her a little bit and she said she'd like to learn more but couldn't have lessons in her home. So Jayne is being a little missionary, telling carol we could have lessons in her home and she just bears testimony of how she knows the church is true. I love Jayne. And Carol is a hoot!! :)))

LASTLY, a member of the bishopric called us asking us if we knew this less active, Sister Bradford. We didn't. She wasn't on our Ward roster or any of our teaching records, and I honestly have no idea how the bishopric found her because they didn't know anything about her either until the night before they called us. Anyway, they asked us to go visit her telling us they already knew Sister Bradford's living situation and the Ward is working on helping her. So the next day we visit her. She lives in a moldy, flea infested trailer (oh, by the way mom, I think I have fleas). She has to keep the doors open at all times so she can get a little bit of decent air, but that means at night too. So she's always nervous somebody is going to come into her trailer while she's sleeping so she doesn't get very much sleep because she's worrying too much. She has to have oxygen tubes to help her get clean air and she doesn't have a car (why she hasn't been coming to church) or any food really. BUT, despite all these challenges she is the happiest person I know. Her smile and laugh is so contagious. She keeps telling us that our Heavenly Father has blessed her with a roof over her head and the church finding her. We got her to church on Sunday and as she was taking the sacrament, she treasured that moment. She said she was so happy because she had the gospel in her life. I look up to her.

It's all in our attitude. We can choose to be happy. Despite all our own individual trials and challenges, are we choosing to be happy because of the knowledge we have of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ?

Anyways. We got three investigators and three less actives to church! We had game day on Saturday and so we set up the booth again (:  it was a pretty good success. Last Monday we had sisters P-day. Everyone came up to campus and walked around downtown Athens. We took Sister Checketts with us all day yesterday. She's hilarious and shares my love for Disneyland and finally, we have felt the Holy Ghost guiding us every second of every day!! I'm so grateful for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost and the part it plays in this work. Without it, the work would cease.

I love and miss y'all. I've been out for 6 months! Can you believe it??? See you in NO time.

Love, Sister Merritt





Monday, November 2, 2015

We Love Dogs!!

Okay so first of all, this week has been so good! We have felt so blessed from meeting new people who are just amazing. I have come to find that tracting just doesn't work all that much. What's better is just street contacting, that way they can't slam the door in your face and if they run away, we can run after them. (.... Not that we've done that. Oops) but we have been able to find 6 new investigators this week from just walking around outside. Of course we have to have the courage to talk to them, but something wonderful always takes place as we have enough faith and courage to talk with everyone that we see. Also EVERYONE in Georgia and their dog--- has a dog, so bringing up how cute their dog is, is always a wonderful conversation starter.

Us: Oh my goodness, what a cute dog!
Them: thank you!
Us: what kind of dog is it?
Them: chihuahua mixed with a Great Dane
Us: wow! I have a dog back home.
Them: where's home?
Us: Utah
Them: wow, you're a ways from home
Us: yeah, we are on our missions for the Church of...

See it works! And it doesn't only work for people on the streets, it also works for less actives we don't know about! This week as we were visiting a referral and we felt like we needed to park at the beginning of the neighborhood and walk to her home. As we were walking we met this lady named Dez who was walking from a neighbors house. we were able to teach the four minute restoration, set a return appointment and make really good friends with her. She's a sweetheart. We said goodbye and headed back toward the referral and then saw the cutest dog. We started the conversation again "oh my goodness, what a cute dog!" The owner, Trevor, started talking to us about his dog and how special she is to him and his wife, and then he's all "so I went on my mission to California." And we're all like, "what?!" Haha HE’S A MEMBER. He is less active right now, but would like us to meet with his wife, who loves sister missionaries but who is not a member.. They had just moved into the area so his records weren't here yet, but it was such a miracle finding him. If it wasn't for the dog, we would've never talked with him. So shout-out to dogs.

An update on our dear friend Herman: he is currently living in a tent, hopefully not for long. But, he knows the church is true, and is planning on being baptized this month (: he is good friends with a less active, Jesse, and Herman is already being a little missionary and trying to reactivate Jesse. Yes! We love when this happens!

Thursday night we had our ward trunk or treat which was super fun! All us missionaries were able to hand out candy to the little kids and it was great for us to invite many less actives and investigators. There was a great turn out.  Halloween night we had to be in by five to do our weekly planning and then anything we really wanted. So, we decided to have a sleepover with the UGA sisters, and of course to carve pumpkins. They turned out awful. We blamed it on the fact that we didn't have Pinterest to give us cute ideas, it was still fun though (:

I hope y'all had a wonderful Halloween. (: thank you for all your love and support.


-Sister Merritt







Tender Mercies

Hello (:

This week has been just full of getting to know everybody. All our investigators, less actives and members. Since I'm still new in the Ward and my new greenie, Sister Dowdle is new, it gives us a good excuse to stop in on everybody. So, my new companion is Sister Dowdle. She is from Alabama and she's absolutely the cutest. We get along great and I'm pretty sure we need to be companions forever. (: The Ward has been awesome and have been helping us so much. These little tender mercies and miracles have been taking place here in Athens and I know that as we continue to work hard we will see more and more.

1: A recent convert, Pam, took us to dinner at Wendy's one night. As soon as we arrived the lady working the counter asked us if we had a Mormon Bible. I took one out of my bag and handed it to her. She handed it straight back, telling us to sign it and put our phone number in it. She is searching for a church and has been hearing a lot about the Mormon church. She told asked us when she would be able to come to church. She was just so prepared and ready. We definitely weren't expecting that response

2: As we said goodbye to Pam and was about to exit, One Directions "Ready to Run" comes on the radio and so obviously we had to stay until the song was over. It was definitely a tender mercy. (:

3: So because I am training again all of a sudden, we were able to go to the follow up meeting for all the new missionaries. My favorite people (missionaries) from Shallowford are also training! ... We were missing one. But it was sooo wonderful to see Sister Barben and Elder Poulsen. Plus, the follow up meeting is always good. It always pumps us up and gets us ready to talk to everyone that we see!

4: So our investigator is really struggling with trying to find a place to live and he doesn't have any money for food, so we decided to talk to some members about getting him some food to eat. All of a sudden a less active calls us, telling us he has a bunch of food that he doesn't want and was wondering if we could use it. Of course we took and and was able to get it to our investigator. He was so appreciative. (:

5: As we were completely out of a lesson one afternoon we saw this lady walking her dog. We were able to talk to her for a little bit and we found out SHES A MEMBER. She hasn't been to church since she was a teenager and she wasn't on our records at all. It was such a blessing to find her and she wants us to come back this week and visit with her. She says she needs to come back to church, she's just a little nervous.

I am so grateful for all these tender mercies that happen each and every day. I know that if we look for the Lords hand more fully in our lives we will be able to see that he is highly aware of us and is giving us blessings and miracles that we wouldn't have seen otherwise. We just need to look for them (:

I love y'all (: have the most wonderful week.


Love, Sister Merritt







Sunday, October 25, 2015

#Change

Hey y'all,

Zone conference was awesome this week, it was focused on the Christlike attributes, which I LOVED because we usually talk about how we can better help others, but I liked the focus on how I can become a better missionary and person in general. It was a great zone conference, everyone was asked to prepare a four minute talk on a Christlike attribute of their choice and present it in front of the zone. Literally ALL the elders picked "love/charity"... We are thinking that they're all struggling with that. Haha. (: But I was able to learn a lot from everyone's short talks and testimonies. It was an eye opener for me to see that I have so much to work on. President Bennion than spoke on pride, using the Ezra Taft Benson talk "Beware of Pride" which, if you haven't read, please read! It's sooo great. Wow. Loved zone conference..even if it was 9 hours long.

This week, again, has been crazy busy. Lots of lessons and lots of new potentials. Let me tell you about our wonderful investigator, Herman. Herman is really quiet. He's had a hard life growing up, he has lived in a tent for 6 years and had long hair and a long beard. He doesn't really look at us when we talk to him but he feels he spirit and gains a lot from our lessons. He is coming to church every week now, trying to change his life around, cleaned himself up and is now on date to be baptized in November (: we are so excited for him. He's our favorite. We love to tell him we love him and see his expression on his face. Haha (:

Saturday we had the Georgia vs Missouri game so we helped the UGA Sisters make rice Krispy treats to pass out and work the booth. I love game days. <3 we were able to get really good contacts and I was able to be with Chelsea. I'm way too spoiled here. Haha!  The other night the UGA sisters came over and spent the night, it was probably a bad idea because we got absolutely no sleep! 

After having such a fun night we got a call from president this morning telling us that Sister Tuitea is getting emergency transferred and I'm getting another newbie. I'm so extremely sad that I won't be with Sister T anymore, but I'm excited to be with this new sister (: I know it's who I need to be with at this time. Missions are great, but if you don't like change, be prepared to have a lot of it and the most unexpected times. Anyways, I love and miss y'all. 

Thanks for all your love and support <3

Love, Sister Merritt





Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sabbath Day and Miracles

Hey y'all!

This week has been extremely busy! We have had lesson on top of lesson on top of lesson. Which is fabulous, but also exhausting. Tuesday we had a zone meeting, centered all on the Sabbath day and how we can become better at teaching it. It's so true that when a person's Sabbath activities become just like any other day all aspects of their lives are negatively affected.  We made a commitment to teach a short Sabbath Day lesson at the end of every lesson we had. Sister Tuitea and I forgot to teach it sometimes..oops. But we got at least 22 lessons on the sabbath in there.

I went on exchange in Greensboro which is THE cutest little town. Picket fences around the cute little cottage style houses with huge porches and tons of open fields. It's like, total country. I don't know how you get more country. But when we were tracting a little lady opened the door and it looked like she was packing. We asked her where she was moving to and she said "the country." ...okay. What's more country than this? Haha but I loved it there. The people also spoke a different language I think.. Like I could not understand their southern accents at all. Sister Johns and I definitely had help from our Heavenly Father. The gift of interpretation of tongues is definitely real. Also, Sister Johns is a HUGE one direction fan. Yay to that, because we automatically bonded. (:

There is a lot of work to be done in Athens though. (: And I love it here. There are people ready to hear the gospel and here in the south, the work is definitely hastening. The other day we felt like we needed to visit a referral we had received. We parked a couple houses down for whatever reason and started walking. As we were walking to our referrals home we saw this man named Matthew just sitting on his porch so we go and talk to him. Turns out he has talked with missionaries before. We asked him if he was able to read from the Book of Mormon and he told us he didn't have a copy to read from. So, we did a short restoration lesson and gave him the Book of Mormon AND put him on date to be baptized. He was really excited and super elect.

We were also able to stop by a less active, but it turns out she moved. The lady who was there however, was super interested in the Book of Mormon and asked us to please call her and to stop by anytime. She just really really wanted to learn more. She said she had been praying for truth when we knocked on her door. Little miracles are happening all around us, and I'm so grateful to witness them first-hand (:

Anyway, I love y'all <3

Love, Sister Merritt

Chelsea took us out to eat the other night. Goodness am I glad that I was able to come to UGA with her.





Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Back to School


HEY YALL.

This week has been INSANELY busy. We had transfers! I am now in Athens (University of Georgia) with my wonderfully hilarious Samoan companion Sister Tuitea. Just in time for game season! Yes, the Bulldogs lost this weekend. Yes, everyone is grumpy. We don't talk about it. I will miss Shallowford tremendously, but I know I'm meant to be in Athens at this time. And I'm so excited to be here!

New address:

4315 Lexington Rd apt #6c
Brighton park apartments
Athens , GA 30605

As we were driving from the mission office to Athens Wednesday morning we start hearing these awful noises. So we decide to take the car to the shop Thursday morning to get it fixed. We find out that they'll have to order special parts for it so we have to leave our car there. Great. So now we are 30 minutes away from home and we don't have a car. So we start calling like, every member we can to give us a ride. Unfortunately every member works so it was hard. And since I just got to the area I didn't know who anybody was, I was just calling them. Haha so finally we got a ride home. But it's been kind of difficult finding rides for every appointment. And we can't walk or ride bikes because our area is GIANT, all busy roads with no shoulder and all our investigators live forever away. But it's been going okay so far (: hopefully our car will be fixed soon.

Saturday was conference. We went to the UGA institute building to watch it with our investigator Shirley, who is in her 70s, has one arm and a balding dog. But she's a sweetheart. She definitely didn't belong in the institute building with all the 20-30 year olds, but she still loved conference nonetheless. In between sessions we set up a booth outside in the pouring rain and handed out hot chocolate and contacted as people were walking to the big game. The YSA branch wanted hot chocolate too. They could only have some if they gave away a Mormon.org card. Pretty soon we had a bunch of the branch out trying to hand out cards. Lol. (: we were all able to get the YSA sisters a lot of potentials.

Conference was absolutely amazing. I loved loved loved the counsel we were able to receive from our wonderful leaders. We were watching Conference with a bunch of our sister recent converts. They all love Uchtdorf. When I asked them why, they said it was his accent. Haha. Oh dear. But I absolutely can't wait until I can read and go over them again. Maybe I'll "ponderize" some of em (; I hope y'all loved it as much as me.

Sunday night, we were walking over to a members apartment to use their wifi as we put our numbers into our iPads and we see this man sitting on the curb. We decided to talk to him. We sit down next to him and start talking. His name is Rafael and he tells us he's seen us around everywhere, but didn't know who we were. He isn't currently going to a church, but looking for the truth. We didn't have much time, because we were going over curfew. But we testified of how much our Heavenly Father loves and is aware of him. We showed him the 'Because of Him' video, after which he tells us he'd like us to come back and meet his wife and teach them more. It was a perfect end to the day. Even though we went over curfew, I think it was worth it.

Anyways. Athens is great. It's a college town and full of people willing to share their fried chicken. Pray for my weight, oh dear.

Love y'all <3

Love, Sister Merritt



My greenie Sister Holmgren- me- and my trainer Sister Barben. Love these sisters!