Sunday, January 31, 2016

UNTO vs INTO the Hearts


IT SNOWED THIS WEEK. just like a quarter of an inch. But it was still enough to cancel school and work and the grocery stores were out of milk, eggs, and bread. Crazy Georgians.

We went to the new missionary follow-up meeting this week and wowie wow was it so so so good. I've been to this meeting four times and I've never learned as much as I did this time. Mostly we just role played a lot. But it was so helpful! We role played "How to begin Teaching" with President Bennion which is super nerve racking, but also awesome because he's hilarious and he can give us really good feedback. And we were able to use it so much this week. We were also able to have the worldwide missionary conference! My favorite talk was by Elder Bednar talking about the Holy Ghost. It was really helpful. One of my favorite things that he said was that we can take this wonderful message UNTO the hearts of people, but only they can invite the message INTO their hearts. If we could push this message INTO the hearts, everyone who has heard President Monson would be a member!

We were finally able to see Trevor and Anna again, after a couple of weeks of them being sick, they're finally better! We had a good lesson on the Book of Mormon and then we asked to say a kneeling prayer. We knelt down while Trevor and Anna sat on the couch. After we were on our knees, Trevor (the less active) says "I guess I'll kneel too." Then Anna (the nonmember) says, "I don't want to be the only one not kneeling!" So she gets down on her knees as well. I know the power of just being an example is huge and so influential. Afterward, Trevor made a comment saying that they needed to do more kneeling prayers, and I know they will.

This week we had gotten a referral for a Bible for a woman named Jessie. We had tried calling her over and over to set up a time for us to deliver it but she never answered. One night all of our appointments fell through, so we decided we would just stop in on Jessie and see if she was home. She wasn't, but we knew that there had to be another reason we were in the area, so we started knocking doors.Nobody was answering. It was really dark and really cold, but we were determined to find our reason for being there. As we were walking down the street we saw a house that didn't have any lights on, but for some reason we felt like we needed to knock on the door. We knocked answer. Then again... no answer. But we waited for a little bit longer. Finally a lady opened the door named Ciara. We told her who we were and asked if she had heard of our church before. She said yes and invited us right in! We gave a lesson on the restoration and invited her to be baptized and she accepted! We gave her a Book of Mormon and made a return appointment after we had said a kneeling prayer. The next day we received a new referral on our area book.. It was Ciara! She had requested a bible the morning we found her, but we didn't receive the referral until after! It was truly a miracle finding her and it just goes to show that Heavenly Father does guide us in this work, as long as we follow the promptings that come to us we will see miracles.

Funny Story: As we were street contacting one day we started to talk to this lady. We introduced ourselves and our church and asked her if she attended a church. She did and she told us the name of it (don't ask me what it was because I have no idea.) but we asked her what denomination it was. She looked confused and told us "mainly black." ...?? As we were trying not to burst out in laughter we rephrased the question,she let us know it was an episcopal church and then walked away leaving us to laugh to ourselves. (: silly. She probably thinks we're racist now. Hope not..

Anyways, I know that miracles are all around us. Miracles happen only through and by our faith. Pray to see miracles! I love y’all and I hope y’all have a fabulous week!

Love, Sister Merritt

Chocolate covered cherries we made with a member.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Day...

Hey y'all.

We have had a week. You know, one of those weeks where you don't know what  to say about it so you just call it a week? Yeah, one of those. We have had SO much drama happen, all with a 63 year old man, we have found a ton of prepared people and it's just been crazy. But wonderful. How can a mission be anything but wonderful? (:

Let's rewind to the beginning of last month. We had been visiting this 63 year old less active man who we got to come back to church, yay! Also he confessed his deep attraction to me so we have been steering clear of his apartment and his phone calls. Since we have been ignoring his phone calls and voicemails (strict orders from President) he has become angry, threatening that he will "never talk to me again. EVER." (That actually is what we are wanting to happen). But just a ton, a TON of voicemails. SOOO The bishop has become involved and the mission president and through all this I was just scared I would be ETed. Well good news! I'm still in Athens. And he's stopped calling. Drama... Guess it doesn't end in High School.

We have found like a million new people to teach. Okay, maybe not a million. But we have found 11 new people. Same thing, right? And if I told you the miracle of finding them all it would literally take all day so here's like, the BIG one:

Thursday morning we were trying to do some 12 week and we had a bunch of videos to watch from the district. We started to watch them and then all of a sudden the dvd went back to the main menu. We pressed play again, and it did the same thing. This happened multiple times and Finally sister Foster is all "obviously we are meant to be out working!" So we put our shoes on and headed out the door. We tried stopping in on a few less actives we hadn't met yet but had no success. So we said a prayer asking for guidance on where we needed to be and pulled up our area book. We found a former investigator that supposedly didn't live too far and seemed promising. So I typed in the address into the GPS and off we went. Well, silly me, I typed the address in wrong. Sister Foster and I were a lil frustrated but.. "Sister, there's a reason we are here. Let's go find that reason!" There were 20 houses on that street and we decided we would try every one of em. We started down one side and every door was slammed in our face. Tough crowd. As we started down the other side we met Ty first who told us we caught him at the perfect time because usually he's not home. He said that he's always been interested in learning about Mormons. We started with the restoration and when we quoted the first vision he opened his eyes real wide and exclaimed that it gave him chills. We are meeting with him again later this week. As we were walking to the next house a man rode up on his bike to a home that never opened their door. We went over and started talking to Kenny. He told us he didn't go to a church right now but that he and his family which consisted of 13 grandkids would be interested in learning more because he's tried all these churches but never ours. Next house we tried, an older lady named Debbie came out and started talking with us. She's going through a lot and started crying when we told her the gospel of Jesus Christ will help her to find that peace she is looking for. We set up a return appointment for the next day. The next house had a less actives daughter who wasn't a member and who was rooming with a girl who didn't have a relationship with God at all. We bore testimony that God loves us and is aware of each of us and they both want to learn more.

When we went back for our return appointment with Debbie. She invited us in and also had everyone in the house come in and listen to us. You can tell they have been through a lot and they just need the gospel. They all start crying exclaiming that they know it's true and we set up another time for Monday. Well, Monday rolls around we went back to Debbie's and they never answered their door, so we decided we would finish tracting the street. The very last house we found Ron and Melanie who were outside discussing something when we walked up. Melanie told us that it's been a long rough day and anything we say to her will probably be a waste. So we start explaining the Book of Mormon anyway. Their hearts were completely softened and they listened telling us that God must have sent us to them at that time. They accepted a Book of Mormon and a return appointment and Melanie even asked us to talk to her brother sitting on the porch. We gave her brother a card to our website and when we told him what church we were from her tried giving the card back, shaking his head and looking horrified. Melanie told him to listen and give us a chance because she "might be Mormon someday!" Well he did give us a chance and he actually enjoyed talking to us. As we were leaving he told us to come back if ever we needed anything. It's just amazing to see how Heavenly Father knows exactly where we need to be at what time and how he leads us there through a series of events. We found all these people and it would've never happened if our dvd was working or if I typed in the right address.

I feel so blessed to be a part of the Lords army and to teach so many people who are ready for the restored gospel. I have an overwhelming love for every person here and so I can't imagine how much our Heavenly Father must love us. We have prayed, fasted, and worked harder than I ever have this week. It's exhausting. But I'm so grateful for it, and for the help and love of our Savior. I know He loves and is mindful of everyone of us. We definitely couldn't do this work without Him.

I love y'all! I think of you often.

Love, Sister Merritt

Monday, January 11, 2016



This week has been so good! We have found so many prepared people and we have felt so blessed.

FIRST, let me tell you about my favorite town in our Ward. Winterville. It's the cutest small town, big porches, huge yards, picket fences, and the kindest people. I'm moving here one day. One day as we were walking around Winterville tracting, we saw a family outside picking up fire wood and putting them on their front porch. The cutest family. We were just talking about how we needed a family to teach. But we were late for an appointment so we decided we would come back. When we came back we knocked on the door and the dad came out. Turns out he's the MAYOR of Winterville and his family loves to learn about religions. I'm so excited to start teaching them. They were the cutest, kindest family.

We had Zone Conference this week. So good, as always. The overall theme was being warriors of light and being clean, busy and prepared. We also talked and role played LOTS on inviting others to be baptized, cause apparently we have been slacking on that. After Zone Conference we went on exchange. I was with sister Johns and we had a FHE with Anna and Trevor. We talked about eternal families and made a family flag. It was fun. And since we had just practiced inviting people to be baptized we thought it would be appropriate to invite Anna. So we did! She said no. But that's okay, someday she'll be baptized. I know it (:

At Zone Conference we also made the goal as a zone to hit the standard every week this month. The standard for us is 3 lessons with a manner present, 3 new investigators, 1 at church, and 1 on date for baptism. None of our investigators showed up to church, but 2 former investigators magically showed up at the end of sacrament. We also, didn't have anyone on date because we dropped everyone who was (actually, they dropped us.) SO, Sunday night we were determined to put someone on date. We went through our area book and called a bunch of people and made an appointment with a woman named Carolyn for 5pm. When we went to our appointment Carolyn had forgotten and was about to sit down to eat dinner. But we determined to teach her and put her on date, so we bore our testimony on the restoration and invited her to be baptized right then. She accepted! We were able to make the standard and Carolyn is actually so excited to learn more!

We also taught primary this Sunday!! We taught the four year olds. So stinking cute! We taught them how to Choose the Right. And they all were so reverent and good. We asked a little girl what her favorite thing to do was. She said "eat carrots." So we asked her, "okay, so you have had a lot of carrots and there is one more left. But your little sister wants a carrot. What would Jesus do?" ...she said, " split it in half!" Haha these kids are so precious. At the end, we had about 10 minutes to spare so we started asking them what their favorite thing were. Their favorite food? "Corn. Corn dogs. Corn on the cob. Bread." Haha!

Anyways, I love y'all. I hope you have a fabulous week (:

Love, Sister Merritt

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Celestial Coffee

Hey yall!! 

I hope you had the greatest New Year. It's crazy to think that just last year I was in school, stressing about projects and grades, and working on my mission papers. Now I'm here in Georgia and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. <3

The weather is Georgia is ridiculous. Christmas Day it was sunny and 75. This week has been nothing but heavy rain showers and dark skies. My favorite! So, with all the rain comes mud and flooding and more mud and the possibility of getting your car stuck. While missionaries in Colorado are getting their cars stuck in deep snow, our pretty and white Chevy Cruz gets stuck in mud. Soooo many times!! Poor Sister Foster had so much mud on her. Welcome to the mission?? 

We are making great progress with our part member family, Trevor and Anna. I love them so much! This week we knew we needed to address the word of wisdom lesson, and being in the south everyone loves their sweet tea. We were also a little nervous about coffee, so we made Celestial Coffee. We took packets of instant hot coco, tied them with a string, and wrote 'celestial coffee' on the front. Ta-da. We are too clever. They loved it. Anna was so concerned with letting her sweet tea go but kept saying she would try. Trevor also told us that his addiction to Coke definitely needed to end. They committed to try getting back on track with word of wisdom standards. We were so happy.

We were not able to find any new investigators this week and none of the investigators that said  they would be at church came. It was really disappointing to us. During companionship study on Sunday morning we were talking about how we could truly turn our whole hearts to the Lord and have complete trust in him. We recognized it's hard, but once we do this, we will become happier missionaries, and happier people in general. When NONE of our investigators or less actives showed up to church, our hearts broke. We were sad. While we were singing the sacrament hymn (I can't remember what one at the moment) it hit us both. It talked about how we needed to follow God's will. We both looked at each other and we knew that our investigators weren't supposed to come to church that day. Our Heavenly Father knows what He is doing. If He wanted them there, they would've come. Of course, it's disappointing, because WE wanted them there. But sometimes the things that WE want and the things that GOD wants, are different. Once we realized that, we were able to have a really happy and productive day. I'm really grateful for that experience. 

Like I have mentioned before, Athens 1st ward is really focused on getting back and helping out less actives. Several times a week we make attempts to meet several of them. We have been working on meeting with an older couple that was on high priority, meaning they had the greatest likelihood of easily coming back into church activity. We were in the area and decided to try them again and they were home. We were so excited. It was was pouring. So the sweet sister let us in from the rain and chatted with us. She seemed so awesome right off the bat! Her and her husband grew up in Idaho, went to BYU, and came to Georgia for work. We let her know of the time change for the new year and asked if we would see her this week, she very casually said 'Probably not this week. The new year and stuff.' And in our minds we totally were like yeah, sweet, next week for sure! As part of our purpose in helping them come back, we usually inquire why they stopped attending. Most people are totally open and honest about it and it is great. As soon as we asked if there was a specific reason to their inactivity, the room felt instantly Spirit-less. She said very coldly 'of course there's a reason. There's a reason o everything we do but it's none of your business.' Obviously we know that. And we are totally fine if they would rather not answer, we are just there to help them. We thought she was going to kick us out right then, after she found out why we really were there (like it was some secret though. Honestly, if you are inactive and missionaries stop by your house, it's pretty unlikely they stopped by just to say hi.) but instead, she kept going on and proceeded to tell us that 'we had no right to probe but that the tip of the iceberg was when she and her husband attended BYU and they got offended by a remark made by a member about them not having any kids yet'. Obviously that wasn't the full reasoning, but like she said it isn't any of our business. It was so sad to me to see that her family had missed out on all the amazing blessings of the gospel because something that was said was out of line. She had kids and grandkids who never experienced the wonderful blessings that come from growing as a family in the church.

This experience really made me think how important it is for us to be so personally converted to the gospel that we are never offended by anyone or anything. We need to forgive and look forward! I hope with the new year that all of you will take this opportunity to look forward and set goals and make a plan to reach them. Be kind, say your prayers, read your scriptures, and smile. Your day will be brighter and so will someone else's.

I love y'all! Stay bright (:

Love, Sister Merritt