Saturday, October 29, 2011

Nathaniel's Letter 10/28/2011

    I realized that you have asked a few questions about letters, I also realize that I haven't mentioned anything about my district that I'm in.  You shouldn't send me emails because I have limited time on the computer.  I read your letters before I wrote mine so I just have less time to write.  Are you updating my blog with the letters I send home?  You should either write through regular letters, or you can write through  I only read emails once a week anyway and wrote all my letters today before getting on the computer. 
     The Missionary Training Center schedule is a great schedule to live by.  We get up at 630, breakfast is at 710 we work through the day and then go to bed at 1030.  There is also a different hour for gym every day to exercise and stay in shape.  The Missionary Training Center schedule is so very busy but it is the most productive schedule there is.  We plan every night so that there is not any wasted time and can fully devote our time to learning the gospel and the language.  The church really uses inspired programs and I am blessed as a missionary. There is no way that anyone could learn as much Tagalog as I have as quickly as I have without the gift of tongues.  Any missionary in my district can speak Tagalog.  My teacher Bro. Day mentioned that we speak better Tagalog  now than any American he has met who tried to learn Tagalog not through a mission.  I have learned that we really need to rely on the Lord in all we do, especially when we are doing his work.  Proverbs 3:5 says to trust in the Lord and lean not to our own understanding.  This is very true as a missionary.  I just need to be humble and trust in God and I can do all the things that I am required to do.  It has been great to see the increase of the Lord's blessings in my daily life.
      I love you all, thank you for your support.
                                                                   Sincerely,   Elder Merrill

Monday, October 24, 2011

Letter 9/21/2011

  This last week has been pretty busy.  My companion and I prepared and taught many lessons this week.  Preparing for lessons is hard because of time constraints.  We are learning Tagalog, which constitutes a large portion of our time each day, but our lesson also has to be prepared in Tagalog.  This means that I can't say whatever I want, I have to carefully plan my statements based on what words I know how to say.  Most of the companion ships translate English sentences into Tagalog and then memorize them for their lessons, but I try not to memorize any specific sentences.  I have been trying to memorize verbs, words and sentence structure, and then trying to translate from English during the lesson.  This can go very well, but can also sometimes be very stressful.  I like this way though.  I find that it really helps me to answer questions that are asked during a lesson.  If I am giving memorized statements it is hard to answer a question, but if instead I know the words that would be useful in this lesson, I can form a new sentence on the spot.  My favorite lessons to teach are when we teach returned missionary volunteers.  This week we taught a returned missionary and the lesson went very well.  During the lesson the spirit was very strong.  We had a lesson plan and started to follow our plan, but I remembered a scripture that I decided to share with our "investigator" instead.  I shared my scripture, which really had very little to do with what we were doing up until that point, and then explained a little of what it meant.  That lesson I was able to speak such good Tagalog, I was able to remember words that I had only ever heard once before, and I remembered how to conjugate verbs, and I was able to do this all without needing to pause and think.  After our lesson, the volunteer gives feedback.  In the feedback he mentioned that the scriptures shared seemed like weird choices to him, but then he realized that was exactly what was needed.  He also mentioned that although we didn't chastise him, he knew we taught with the Spirit because from our testimonies and words we was chastised by the Spirit.  It was a really good lesson.  I don't think I can adequately describe everything that made this lesson work so well, but it was quite an extraordinary experience.  The gift of tongues is real, because I really couldn't remember half the words I used in that lesson.  Most of the words I had only seen once before teaching that lesson, but yet I remembered them all for the lesson. 
     Every Tuesday there is a devotional where someone comes and speaks to the entire missionary body at the Missionary Training Center.  This last Tuesday Richard G. Scott came and spoke.  Elder Scott spoke about following the Spirit.  He talked about how as we follow Spiritual promptings from the Lord, the Lord will be inclined to give us more.  He said the best way to receive more promptings and guidance from the Spirit is to act on the promptings already received.  He also said to write down our spiritual experiences so that we will not lose them later.  He said that when we read back on those experiences we can be reminded of the Lord's blessings in our lives.  He started to ask questions of the missionaries in attendance, he would ask a question and then usually expound and reflect upon the answer given.  They were not deep doctrinal questions, but just basic principles.  I'm not entirely sure why he asked the questions, but nonetheless he did.  Guess what... he asked me a question.  It was exciting, I got to speak to an apostle and answer a question in front of the whole MTC.  Elder Scott gave a really powerful address.  It was very cool to get to hear from him.  The Spirit while he was speaking was very strong.  I love being here and on a mission.
         Love, Elder Nathaniel Merrill

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Nathaniel's letters

    So another week has gone by, and I am writing home again.  A lot of things have happened this week, I don't know if I can share them all, I have only limited time to write e-mails.  I appreciate all the letters and packages I have recieved from everyone, it nice to get mail on occasion.  In your letter you asked what scripture to put on my plaque, I would choose 3 Nephi 18:20, that is a scripture I have always liked a lot.  This week we learned more about how to teach.  We actually eased up a little bit on the Tagalog and focused on teaching this week.  While learning about how to teach investigators, I really came to appreciate the Mission Preparation classes I had taken from Bro. Templeman, Bro. Bott, and Sister Wight.  Although I am still not completely comfortable teaching in Tagalog, I find that because I am comfortable and familiar with the doctrine, and how to teach in English it becomes less stressful for me than some of the other missionaries.  I am so glad that we practiced teaching so much in Mission Preparation.  I am also glad I memorized the First Vision, because now I have to memorize it in Tagalog, and it is easier for me because I am the only one in my district who knows it in English. 
     This week for the first time we taght at the TRC.  I think TRC stands for Teaching Resource Center.  At the TRC we teach real people who speak Tagalog. In the missionary purpose it states we are to invite others to come unto Christ, in the TRC we are supposed to invite others to come unto Christ.  The TRC volunteers are mostly LDS returned missionaries, but when we teach them we can still help them to come unto Christ.  When my companion and I were preparing a lesson to give, I felt prompted to give a lesson regarding prayer.  We prepared some statements about prayer in Tagalog and looked up some scriptures.  We ended up teaching a man who was born in Bagiuo and grew up speaking Tagalog, he went on his mission to Idaho.  He was a really nice guy.  We ran out of time while talking to him about prayer, and didn't say everything we had wanted to say, but the Spirit was present and we said some things that helped him.  Afterwards he said that he was reminded about how important prayer is, and how he can pray at any time for help.  I was so glad that we were able to bring others to Christ.  The teaching I do is all in Tagalog, which means it is very broken and hard to understand.  But even when teaching in broken sloppy Tagalog we can bring the spirit and bring others to Christ.  I've come to see that the language is by no means most important.  Learning the language will certainly help me to bring others to Christ, but the most important skill is following and teaching with the Spirit.  I am glad I have learned to recognize the Holy Ghost in my life, it would be difficult now if I didn't know what the Spirit felt like.  I wouldn't be able to follow those promptings, or bring the Spirit in my teaching.  I know that what I'm doing is what the Lord wants me to do.  I know that because he has told me through the Holy Spirit.  I am out of time now, I think I type to slow because there is much more I would like to include. I love the Gospel, I love all of you at home.
                             Elder Nathaniel Merrill