Monday, December 28, 2015

Happy New Year


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!


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



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



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