Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Companion study is starting

This week has been good and went by really fast. We have a lot of people to teach right now and we are literally just sprinting back and forth all day trying to make our appointments on time. We are super busy which is really fun and also really tiring. Somedays we don’t even have time for a normal dinner or full study. (Every morning we wake up and study personally for an hour, together with comp for an hour and then language for an hour) It’s been crazy but really sweet. The area is really exploding now that we have two sets of missionaries.

Someone asked a very interesting question--about my emails changing from "Why am I here..." to "This rocks" and I don’t really know the answer. I think it is a lot of things. I am more used to the work and more familiar with what I need to do. I am more comfortable in my surroundings. But, I think the main thing is that I just grew up a little (now, I’m not saying I’m to the adult level of "mature adult" but I think I upped a few notches from "snot nosed teenager"...) I have so many blessings (churchy john word, but nonetheless true) and I really feel like if I am honest with myself I have absolutely nothing to complain about. The work is hard, but it is so rewarding. I’m away from my family and friends, but they are happy and safe. I have great people around me. Good food. Good apartment. And so I think I am just realizing more and more all the great things that I never realized I had before. A mission is really good at bumping you up notches on the maturity scale.

This week we had a baptism of a man from Tanzania. He is very humble and jolly and great to be around. I have gained such a love for Africans on my mission. They are all so humble and so nice. They will treat you like a brother right when they meet you. And this man was no different. He used to be a rapper and told us that he has completely turned his life around. He told us that he has a new rap song called "I’m clean". Haha he is such an awesome guy. Me and Pearson gave talks at the baptism. His brother baptized him, and he is a bigger guy so they had to redo it a couple times... but in the end all went well.

There was a slight mishap before the baptism though. In the mission world, there is something called a "pocket puke". A missionaries pocket is very important to them. In it they hold pass out cards, vocab word book, and occasionally their planner. A pocket puke is when they lean over to far and all the stuff in their pocket pukes out and falls to the ground. It happens more often than you would think. So, at the baptism, we were filling the font. And my companion and I were trying to pick out the leaves that had somehow gotten into the water. And thats when I puked. Right into the water. Everything I had was just floating around in the baptismal font, with the baptism starting in no less than 20 minutes. What I had to end up doing is running around, taking my pants off and wading through the water to pick up my soggy stuff (luckily though, not my planner) It was absolutely drenched. I was really nervous that someone would walk in to see the missionaries, one with his pants off, wading and fishing around in the water trying to collect all the cards. But luckily, nobody came. Oh, the random funny stuff that could only happen while serving a mission.

I also bought a little flute (2 euros at a hand me down store). It looks like I’m creating my own band. But I don’t know how to play the lil flute, so mostly it just sits in my desk. Although every once in a while I will bust it out and play a little 3 note "Companionship study is starting song", it sounds exactly how you would imagine it.

We also tried to get me a bike this week. Another missionary who is leaving said he would give me his for 20 euros. The only problem though is that its a total junker. The other problem is that it came in pieces so as to fit in the car. We have tried all week to get it back together but its been rough. I dont think I will buy it, but I feel a little bad haha. "Hey, elder, you know that bike that is now in pieces and not able to be put back together? Ya, I dont think I really want it anymore. But thanks for bringing it over!" Im a dirtbag...

Thanks for all the letters and love. I so thankful for all of you. Be safe and have good weeks.

Love you all,

Elder Merk

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mission Life is what it is...

This week was super normal. I feel like I start every email with that line. But this week it’s true again. Back to work with the comp, changes next week and we’ll see what goes down, and I haven’t spoke with Hermana Juana cause she’s going to ask permission from the Pres. to have an hour to talk.

This week we were super exited for some of our new investigators that we had found last week. We did the mission plan for investigators and how to have success. We find the person on Tuesday, on Wednesday pass for five minutes with members, Thursday we have a lesson in the house of the members, Friday the members pass and read the scriptures with them, and Saturday we have an appointment with them and with the members again on the importance of the Sabbath day. Well super stoked for everything, felt like they had a great hold on everything and testimonies and everything… we heard there is a seventy percent chance they will attend if we do the plan, well someone else I guess did the same plan and it worked cause the members passed by their home Sunday morning and Claudia and her sons had received company… :(

The work goes on and we’ll see what this week has to bring us. I’m stoked for your calling dad that should be sick to work with the young men and play with the nuggets to help 'em get on a mission. Its super great. You can do whatever you’d like with my experience, just don’t cry. Ha-ha Trek will be fun and a lot of work. And it’s funny you mention Brent Dial and all them cause I was talking with Elder Rodriguez, our house mate and district leader, who has a pretty similar personality, he’s awesome, about camping experiences and the, excuse my language, old folks that are sneakily super funny, with clean jokes… like Marcus Miller and Brent Dial, hope they don’t get offended that I call them old.

Mom you sent a “chor” ton of questions. I will take some time to answer a few. Thanks for sending the package, and pants, my black pants are burnt grey, and my gray pants white, no just kiddin. But really thanks, I’m exited. I was sick with like the flu. My whole body hurt, I had a monster of a headache, and I only threw up once. You know how you’ve taught me, take an ibuprofen and get to work. Well it turns out I worked myself a little too hard, and called our mom and she told me paracetamol (stop) and take a break. So I did and I’m doing completely fine. The time before when I talked to you on the phone I wasn’t that sick, just I couldn’t talk. I’m eating well, haven’t gained much weight, 154 ish, and doing well now. Zone conferences are in the stake center, and they last from 9 in the morning till 3 ish, and we have activities of obedience, the zone leaders talked and it was super boring, and I feel like I’m in Sunday school again. Sometimes I feel like I’m not learning anything, I’m genuinely putting attention, but when zone leaders say phrases like “if we don’t talk to people, were not going to find new investigators, seems a little obvious.” I wish there was a little more excitement in the mission field, I’ve always said it’s the plan of happiness. We have a short break with refreshment and listen to talks by President Walker and Hermana Walker. It was great to hear them speak and he talked about discouragement and how we can know if we’re doing our part. If we’re feeling the spirit. We have the goal of baptize every week, but without a baptism in such a long time, I’ve really gotten not down, but disappointed. It was great to hear the answer to my prayers. Mission life is what it is.

Friday, October 21, 2011

3 Kingdoms Activity!

Hello to all!
Another week has come and gone, does time just fly! We had a unique week, I really learned a lot and feel my testimony grow and grow daily. Last week I received a call out of nowhere, and Christian from Bella Vista called me! He was so excited to hear from me, and he shared with me all about his mission plans, how he weekly attends church, stake choir, mission prep, institute, leaves with the missionaries there, and even is doing his Duty To God with another recent convert planning to serve a mission. He has matured so much, and is so excited for a year to pass so that he can go to the temple and get out on the mission. It made me reflect back on the impact of one moment, one opportunity to enter into a house, one chance to open your mouth and preach the good news of the gospel. Every second matters, and I feel eternally grateful for being guided to his house and helping him start his spiritual journey towards eternal life. I love the mission!
The weather here has been really rainy. Wednesday and Thursday we made some pretty brave runs through rain storms that were so heavy that it was honestly as if I had been standing in the shower for 10 minutes. Its been fun battling the weather, I am holding strong on the standard missionary believe that every rain storm walked through makes my future wife even better looking, and if that's true, she had a great week this week haha.
We had an awesome activity in the branch this week that the missionaries planned out. We acted out a scene where we entered into a plane ride going towards the moon, when the plane crashes and we all die. After that, we passed into another room into the Telestial Kingdom, where there weren't any lights, only a really sour cup of lemon juice. Someone tried it and said it was nasty, and the whole room wasn't too comfortable. We shared a scripture about it, then they passed into another room, the Terrestrial Kingdom, where there was light, and a glass of good juice. We read another scripture, then after that, we all sat in one room where we said, Thanks for coming to the activity today, we would like to end with a prayer. We said the prayer, then after the prayer, we said, Oh wait, we forgot one more kingdom...the Celestial Kingdom, where we slid the curtain into a room all decorated in white, with white balloons, a white table with tons of delicious fruit, with calm music, and we read about the Celestial Kingdom. It was incredible, we had 3 investigators there, including a couple we are teaching, who absolutely loved it. It was cool to show the contrasts of the kingdoms, and helped me remember my eternal goal, which is eternal life.
We are teaching this great couple, Pablo and Midium, who have been to church two weeks in a row and are progressing towards baptism. We have a baptism planned this week for Alex, on Saturday. I am enjoying this area, companion, branch, district so much, I can feel the power of your prayers daily. Keep me and my companion in them. Love you guys!
Until next week,
Elder Babcock

Monday, October 17, 2011

Crazy hot in Mexico!

I think I have been continually sweating for about 2 months now.This week was good. It was the first week with Elder Prince. We get along pretty well, no serious disagreements or anything like that. He has been in the mission 5 months and speaks spanish really well. We have been teaching the same investigators we had last change and havent seen much improvement lately so we may need to leave them for a while because there could be other people who are prepared. We have also been visiting with a lot of less active and non active members. There are tons and they are really awesome, I just dont understand a lot of the time their reasons for not going to church. But everyone is different and has their own challeneges, now our challenge as missionaries is to help these members get back. I dont know if you all noticed, but in conference the scripture 1 Timothy 4:12 was used 3 or 4 times. My companion realized that and we have been sharing that scripture with all the members that didnt go to conference. It talks about our responsibility as members to be examples to everyone in everything we do. The church really is much different from the world and as time goes on the seperation between the 2 becomes larger and larger. As long as we are living faithfully, people will notice, they will wonder, and many will want what we have.

If you dont already do it, I suggest sharing your testimonies to each other. Its something we do as companions a lot and it really helps.

The temple President from Oaxaca came to our ward this week and talked about the importance of temples. He was saying how blessed the people here are because they only have to take a 6 hour bus ride to the temple. How much more blessed are we in Utah to be able to drive 20 minutes to the temple? He was also saying how going to the temple is the best preparation we can possibly make for the second coming.

Love Elder Millet

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Autumn in Finland

Hey guys.

This week was sweet. First off, I bought a guitar. It was super impulsive, we walked into a hand-me-down store to buy an umbrella and I walk out with a 60 euro guitar. I don’t think its a super nice one, but its in good condition and it came with a free case. It’s a Finnish brand called Landola. Although, its already been bought and if its a crappy brand its a little too late. But I have loved it. I play every night after our planning meeting. I walk out on our little balcony and play while the clouds roll past the moon. Its been really really awesome.

Fall is here in Finland and it is gorgeous. Mom, you would love it. The leaves are so pretty, and occasionally we will be walking through green fields with the orange and red trees all around us, and a dark gray of cloud to give it a perfect autom. autam. auttamn. ataum. autam. autumn. (How the jimmy do you spell that word...) feel. It’s really pretty.

Funny lil story, and hard to explain, but I’ll try... We were trying to get to a members house. We knew they were on the 2nd floor but they were not answering our phone calls and we couldn’t get in the building. So, we start throwing our bus card at the 2nd story window to try and get them to notice. I throw mine bad and almost get it stuck on someone’s porch... "Phew that was lucky... we should probably throw something els--" "Dang it!!" My companion had gotten his bus card stuck on the ledge of the window. And then, the members call us and tell us that we were at the wrong window. I felt sheepish. We had to explain the idiotic situation to the members... And decided we will try to get it after the teach. After the teach, the unknown woman who owned the window was not home. Plan B, go to next level up, with the rug of the apartment and try to sweep it down. I feel double sheepish trying to once again explain the situation to this random guy, all the while holding a huge rug in my hand. We tried swooping the card off the ledge but the rug was too awkward. Eventually, the random guy doo-hickeyed up a stick that knocked the card off the ledge. Yaa!!! We walked away with no dignity left intact, but at least we got the card back.

This week also, a man from my old area asked me to baptize him because he had not seen me for a while. He is from Vietnam and the most humble and nice guy ever. He is the one who downloaded the scriptures onto his ipad by the 2nd teach. The baptism went really well and afterwards he told me: "Wow, thank you so much. I feel so good and clean right now" it was really awesome and I am so happy for him. The gospel is the best.

Man, family and friends, I miss and love you all. I really do. I’m having a really great time out here. Keep being cool.

Love, Vanhin Merkley

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My answers through the Book of Mormon

Hello to all-
To start the letter, my keyboard cannot type exclamation marks, therefore I will not be able to express my excitement as much as I was hoping...I hope you can understand my feelings through only periods haha.
Last Monday was a really fun one, having lunch with my friend Elder Colligan. The food out here by Brazil is much more flavorful and exciting than what I had been eating before, and I am taking advantage of the rice and beans.
This weeks message, I wanted to focus less on events that happened during the week, and more on something very, very close to my heart. Something that had changed my life when I heard Elder Holland bear a powerful testimony of it, talked about it in my farewell talk, reading it again during the MTC and praying to know if it was true and receiving and answer, daily study of it in Spanish and English, applying its teachings in lessons with members, nonmembers, everyone....I wanted to talk to you about the Book of Mormon.
I felt like talking about it this week for many reasons. The living Prophets, Seers, and Revelators spoke much about the daily study in the Book of Mormon during last weeks General Conference, to improve our testimony of Jesus Christ, the Restoration, the Atonement, the Plan of Salvation, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, etc. "The Book of Mormon helps us in keeping three promises we made at baptism to become charitable, to become witnesses of God, and to endure. The Book of Mormon is the best guide to learn how well we are doing and how to do better." - President Henry B. Erying. Not only is it Another Testament of Jesus Christ, it answers the questions of the soul, it was written for us today, in a world getting worse and worse. Daily study is vital to avoid temptations and threats from Satan.
My mom, as you all know, is the best. She writes me every week and talks about her life and her strong testimony of the Book of Mormon, and how she is applying it in her life. She is a great example for me, and has encouraged me week after week to read it, and I have been obedient and seen the blessings.
We went to teach a lady named Pablina, who in our second lesson brought up many doubts of the Book of Mormon. We read together in 2 Nephi 29 together about the necessity of the Book of Mormon, then 2 Nephi 33, 10-11 to share the testimony of Nephi of the Book of Mormon, and finished in 3 Nephi 11 to share that it really testifies of Christ. She said in the next lesson that she was thankful for the acclaration, because she always thought we didn't believe in Christ, and that we didn't use the Bible, but only another book. Through the Book of Mormon, her testimony has grown of Christ and the Restoration, her desires were sparked to learn more, and has opened doors to teach her and her family.
I study every day in the Book of Mormon, with our investigators in mind, and have seen that EVERY DAY I have been able to apply what I read that morning in numerous lessons throughout the day, perfectly applying to their lives, and strengthening their beliefs. I know that it can help us in our daily challenges. Daily reading has become my favorite hobby.
I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I am eternally grateful for Joseph Smith, and for his efforts in translating and bringing this book back to our hands. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints is the true church of Christ, I know that through the Book of Mormon. I challenge all of you reading this to try its challenge, to read it, to ponder its message, and to ask God in the name of Christ if its true. I know He will respond to you by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Thanks for the support, love, prayers, keep us here in them. Love you guys.
Until next week,
Elder Babcock.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Life / Missionary Story

Wow! I would like to share one of the prettiest experiences of my mission which happened today. I woke up feeling like a champ overcoming my sickness and we went to church. Arrived early for the Ward planning meeting and after saw a baptism of a man that had attended our Ward 3-4 times, but even that joy does not compare with what I’m going to share. Standing in the foyer of the church greeting people as they came in a sister that I had known for this whole two and a half months here greeted me and asked me where I was from… (thinking yeah I’ve told you, when we have talked before… and when she’s given us rides) … I told her Utah “yeah I know but what part!” Sandy. She responded “you know your dad is the missionary that baptized me? He gave me the opportunity to be baptized in the true church. Still not putting the name with what my dad has always said, and doubting a little I asked her where she was baptized? “TorreĆ³n” After came into my head the countless times my father had talked about his favorite convert. Hermana Juana. I remembered that she had been to our house in 2000 but never expected to see her here.

I think it put me in shock cause I didn’t feel anything, I didn’t think anything, and then I sat down getting ready for sacrament to begin. After really thinking about it, I pondered the many lives Hermana Juana has blessed in this area, this Ward, the missionaries, and the people she has taught who have come unto the gospel because of her. I thought of all the people she has influenced for good, and for the Lord. The countless missionaries she has served, made laugh, and what good has come out of her family that are members.

I began to cry, thinking of the influence of one man, and that man happened to be my father. What joy, pride, and spirit filled my everything? It brought memories of my dad and the love I have for him. And how in unknown ways, this work that I am doing now, may affect my children, but will definitely affect hundreds of people in the future. Just as my dad’s work has done.

In a time fairly depressing for me, a time without baptisms, hardships with my companion, times without seeing the fruits of your labors, I was able to be filled by something my dad never thought he could´ve done to help me. Thinking of how I could bear my testimony in such a special occasion, and on testimony meeting, I turned to the first words in the Book of Mormon. “I Nephi having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father…” And the importance of having good examples in our lives, especially as parents. As I went up to the stand I felt like everything was going to be alright. Just after that hermana Juana came up and asked if she could go first. And shared her story that I’m sure she’s shared hundreds of times in these short thirty years:

Many missionaries had come to my door, and I always told them I’m close enough to God you can go back to your homes, but after seeing that a poor Elder from the United States couldn’t speak the language, she let them in to teach him a little bit. After a few lessons of Spanish the Elder said “I’ve done what you’ve asked me to do” and began to share what was important to him. Shortly after she was baptized.

Tears filled my eyes as she presented me as the son of that missionary Elder Rhodes. I gave her a hug at the pulpit and she finished her testimony… I knew I wasn’t going to be able to start mine. But with a scratch in my throat I testified of the influence of good parents. I feel favorable blessed of the Lord to have witnessed such a miracle in my life. How the Lord knows the specific times in each one of our lives when we are feeling down, or reasonably unsuccessful, as a missionary, parent… anything…. And responds. I know God lives and know Jesus is the Christ. One story that came to my mind was on honoring a name Phillip said to Jesus in John 14 8-12 “Lord show us thy father and it sufficeth us” and the reply “Believe me that I am in the father, and the father in me or else believe me for the very Works sake. Verily verily I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the Works that I do, shall he do also” I’m blessed to have the name of my father, and that of my eternal brother on my nametag to remind my of the examples I’ve had, and the example I should put. As that of my father.

It was a great experience to reflect on the tender mercies of the Lord, the blessing of the true gospel, and the effect of one man in the life of many. What an effect one man can have, without knowing of having it. I know the church is true and now am going to put on my father’s list of converts, my name. Thank you dad

I love you.

Elder Rhodes

Conference, Yea!

This last week has been absolutely normal. I couldn’t tell you a difference than any other week in the mission, except general conference. I’m so grateful for the living prophet, his apostles and everyone that spoke in conference; it really filled me up and gave me more drive as a missionary. I know the prophet leads and guides us in these latter days. I felt a feeling, that I’ve only felt in a few other occasions in my life, the feeling of saying goodbye for a long period of time… the prophet was closing conference after some great talks, and I felt really sad, like I was saying bye to my parents for two years at the mtc, except that it was saying goodbye to the prophet and general conference for six months ha-ha. I can't explain it, but that’s just the way it is. With nothing more to say, I was reminded in conference of a great opportunity that I was able to have before my mission, that I feel the rug rats of the ward could use.

The only other occasion before my mission that I really felt like a missionary, or in equal situations, was when we had the opportunity to give the sacrament to the sick and afflicted after church. For many it was a duty, and it is, but a grudging duty. And somehow I got to like it, a lot. You enter the house of someone you really don’t know too well, even though you should, and talk with them for a short time about their problems or lives, say a prayer and leave an ordinance they couldn’t have done alone, a blessing, in their house. What a great experience it was to serve the people of the ward, especially the old people, and to be a small blessing in their lives, I’m loving service, especially with old people ha-ha J and the opportunities we’ve been having on the mission. Love you and thank you dad.

E. Rhodes

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Training, Week 1 and Conference Weekend!

Hello to all!
Well wasn't this last week, as usual, such an incredible one! On Tues. night, we got the call from the zone leaders, that said that Elder Kendell and Elder Harris were both leaving, and that I was going to stay, be senior companion, and also be a trainer. It was some big, overwhelming news, given that I am still young in the mission, don't know my area too well, and am 8 hrs away from Asuncion, but I felt excited and ready for the new challenge. The other elders said goodbye to many members, converts, and friends in the area, and on Wed. night, we all got on an overnight bus that left at 11 from Saltos and we got into Asuncion the next morning at 6-7. It was a pretty miserable ride...there was a little 4 year old kid in front of me that cried for a combined 3 hours, and it wasn't the little innocent cry, it was the kind of crying where you-would-think-that-because-he-was-crying-so-hard-and-loud-that-he-would-get-tired-after-5-minutes cry, but no, he definitely had some inner strength that night. We got to Asuncion, and we went to the office. We had a trainers meeting, where President Madariaga talked all about how vital the trainer is for the new missionaries, to set the tone for their whole mission, even their life and personal salvation. It really hit me hard, I understood how important my job would become in my new companions life. All the trainers went on one side of the room, and the new missionaries on the other, and they called the names out. I still remember when I was waiting there for Elder Olson (my trainer), it doesn't feel like it was that long ago. They called my name, and I received my "kid", Elder Finch. We had some more meetings, took some pictures, and then rushed over to the Asuncion Terminal. We barely made our bus, and headed out towards the Brazil border. After the long ride, we got here to Saltos.
Our first day together, we had a big branch "open house". It was a national holiday, so many members and investigators came to have a big barbecue lunch. Then as missionaries, in the chapel we had 3 stations, where my companion and I taught about the restoration, another missionary on baptism, and the other on the atonement. It was a really cool activity, where many ward friendships were strengthened, and knowledge of the church was improved by those in attendance.
We are preparing a baptismal service for this Saturday, a few people are progressing named Alex, Lucy, and Enrique, and have been to church enough to be baptized, so we are trying to teach a few more lessons and prepare them well to make sacred covenants with the Lord. I will be sure to let you know how they are progressing next week, they are awesome and I love them, and am trying my best to help them.
As most of you know, General Conference came around this last weekend. We had to cram into a taxi and head down towards La Paloma to see conference. Elder Colligan and his new missionary companion were there, so we got to spend a lot of time together. I greatly enjoyed conference this last weekend, what an uplifting, spiritual builder it was. I enjoyed literally every single talk. The power went out in all of the city of La Paloma for the Sat. night session, so for the second year in a row I missed Elder Bednar speak... I guess I will have to wait for the Ensign Magazine again haha, but we were able to see the rest.
I particularly enjoyed Pres. Uchtdorf's talk on Sat. morning on the worth of souls, where he talked all about how amazing the stars, world, nature are, yet us as Gods children, we are His most important creations. I felt the Spirit testify to me very strongly when he said that "YOU matter to Him". I know that there is a God, and He is our father, and that He loves us.
I also enjoyed Elder Holland's Priesthood talk on Missionary Work, where he explained that "we are at war!" spiritually, and that we need to get on the correct team right now, from the beginning. The mission is an incredible spiritual experience, and I invite everyone out there that is of age or close to being able to serve a mission, to PREPARE NOW. If you aren't on the team yet or if you are on the wrong path or unsure if the mission is right for you...whatever your circumstance is, you can repent and get on now! Don't wait until the last second, but ask in prayer to know what to do. And when you do it, when you get on board, you will be eternally grateful for that decision. I know that because I have experienced it, and I know the power of the Atonement is real, and that you are never too far to return. You are never too far to come back. What a great talk, I cannot wait to go back and study it again.
I enjoyed Pres. Eyring and his talk about studying the Book of Mormon. I have felt the strength that it has given me, as I have been studying from it daily. Never will a day go by in my life without reading from the Book of Mormon. I know it is the word of God, and that we can strengthen our testimony of the Savior and of the Restoration by daily reading in it.
Of course, our dear Prophet, Pres. Monson really spoke to me this last conference, and I know he is a Prophet of God. He always seems to have the most incredible, compelling, even hilarious stories and experiences, that always apply to me in my life. I loved how he talked about being rooted, and to "be not moved." I greatly enjoyed conference, and I challenge all of you to reread and study the words that were shared, and to apply it to your life.
Its been a fun last week, I am staying positive and working hard. Its been a lot of big changes for me in my life, and I have felt a little overwhelmed at times. Remember me, my companion, and the people here in your prayers. Thanks for the kind messages of support, I truly am thankful.
Until next week,
-Elder Babcock

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Temples and trenches


We are in Haaga and it has been a strange week. We needed a new couch, table and tons of other random stuff. But now we are pretty settled in and we just need to find people to teach. I really like the apartment. We have a huge window where you can see the sunrise in the morning. Its sick. Its also way fun having the sisters in our area, they are way cool and funny and have been a huge help to us. My new companion is Elder Pearson. He speaks Swedish but is from Utah. He was in the army and wrestled in H.S. He is funny and hard working, and although he does have a temper, I have learned the warning signs and can deal with it before it gets to big. He is a great guy and we are getting a lot of things done.

We did about 20 hours of contacting/tracting this week and got some potentials that we are going to teach. I am hopeful that Haaga will really explode. We had a sweet meeting with Pres Rawlings and he told us what he expects from the area having 2 companionships. He also is expecting the area to explode so that we can split the ward into 2. He is a spiritual giant and I love being around him. He is a great leader. We went to the temple this week. It’s so pretty and awesome. I love the Finnish temple.

It is definitely fall here in Finland. The leaves are turning and so pretty. We play a game while contacting called "Lehti Kuningas" or Leaf King. Whoever catches the most leaves wins. Haha. We try to be as secretive as possible so people don’t think we are crazy. This week we also found some old Finnish war trenches. I took some video on the camera. It was so pretty walking around the trenches in the forest with the leaves turning yellow and orange all around us. Dad would have really loved the trenches. We also found an old finnish rifle..... Just kidding, we didn't.

Wasn’t conference soo good. My favorite talk was Sister Dalton who just really hit it out of the park with how we raise our daughters is love her mother. I was hanging on her every word. There were tons of other good ones. I also liked Holland’s in the Priesthood session. It is funny being on a mission because so many things are different. For example, I was actually really excited for Conference and looking forward to it instead of the usual routine of "Oh its conference today, sweet, no church" jk Conference has always been good, but on a mission it is truly magical. Especially because we planned ahead and got a big bag of candy for the sessions. Here in Finland is a thing called Kandy King. It’s a whole row of candy and you can fill up your whole bag with any kind you want from chocolate to black licorice to gummy dinosaurs. Mmmm.... chocolatey licorice dinosaurs. And yes, at the end I felt like I had been punched in the gut. But if you asked me if I would do it again I would say yes before you even finished the sentence.

But. Im loving it. Haaga is really fun and we have a sweet ward. We had three investigators come to conference and one of them has a baptizmal date. The work is really going forward here and its fun to be a part of.

Keep being cool.


Vanhin Merkley

Sunday, October 2, 2011

I'm Happy

The truth this week I have been really happy. Just happy in general. Happy to be here, happy to serve, happy in general. I put a smiley face on my watch and every time I look at the clock now it makes me happy. And even with how I’m feeling… I am a little deep down inside sad and disappointed with the progress we’ve made in the area. It’s hard to keep the attitude up when you don’t see the fruits of your labors. I’m grateful for the people were teaching, and happy because I know that if we work hard, God will cumply with his promises too. “But as for me and my house we will (Be happy).

A few other opportunities that we had this week were 1. I cut the hair of my companions and it turned out super well, but they didn’t pay well, and 2. I had the opportunity to help Elder Roberts, who now has two weeks in Mexico with a little bit of comfort. There’s just some things the natives don’t understand with the difficulty and stress/loneliness of getting to such a different culture. I was able to read with him from my diary and bear my testimony of Jesus Christ our Savior. I’m glad I was able to see my testimony strengthened, and hope it was of small help to the Elder Roberts.

The trees here are palm trees, some that look like pines, other small bushes and trees, I really couldn't tell you what genus and species, but it’s just a tad more tropical than our house. And I don’t think there’s a fall here. There are just a few leaves always that are maturing at different times. Well have to see.

And I have to apologize that you haven’t received any of my letters… it’s that I haven’t sent any. Ha-ha ;) I have written like three letters, but from the first three weeks of being here. And nothing more… sorry. I figure letters to converts are a good excuse. And the cupcake tree was just we were passing by a members house to plan an actividad and helped her put frosting on em. That’s about it. But everything is just great here, good to hear from you and thanks for everything.

Elder Rhodes