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Monday, March 28, 2016


Hey everyone!

So things have been semi-settling down as we get in the groove. We've found plenty of things to do and keep busy, so don't worry about us sitting and doing nothing....

Because of various birthday parties and the holiday weekend, we have eaten a TON of chocolate recently, I'm kind of overloaded right now..... I need to do more excercise to burn it off, it's killer.

Update on the housing situation: Trying to resolve paperwork and such, don't think we'll make it in to our new house this week. Ugh. And still taking cold showers. But it's all good. We're chill (pun intended;)

There's a woman named Enilda who we're working with, and she is so hilarious and humble, and it's cool to feel her simple and personal way of learning the gospel. She and her daughter, Kely, are progressing nicely, and maybe they'll be the first people Elder Barroso and I get to baptize together! Also, we found Eduardo and Carla,a young couple, thanks to a reference from a sister in the ward (those of you at home, give references to the missionaries, it's almost always through the members that the missionaries find the people most prepared to hear the gospel!). They came to church and loved it last week, but this week they got sick and had to stay home. They aren't married (I know, shocker) HOWEVER they want to get married and we're going tomorrow morning to the cartório (the marriage place here in Brazil) to mark the date for their wedding, probably in the middle of April. They want to be baptized so much, and they love reading and talking about the parts from the Livro de Mormon that we leave with them. They always have lots of awesome questions they ask us, which makes it a lot easier to teach them to their needs, since they talk openly with us. As we visit with them because I have felt the Spirit guiding us to resolve their concerns as they come up. I feel like I'm a useful missionary with them, which is a feeling that every missionary wants to have.

I got to do my first Baptismal Interview this week for a young woman one of the District Leaders and his companion taught.... I was totally nervous, because since I wasn't a District Leader, I haven't ever interviewed anyone for baptism.... It went super well, and it was cool to have the knowledge during the interview from the Spirit that she was 100% prepared, and that this gospel really changes people. Cool stuff.

So I forgot to send a spiel on Easter last week, so I'll combine it with my spiel for General Conference. This next weekend we have the opportunity to hear from our living prophet! Not just some old guy, but literally a man who gets instructions from God for everybody on the Earth. Thomas S. Monson is truly His authorized prophet, and so we all better pay attention to what he and the Apostles have been inspired to tell us. Because Jesus Christ ressurected that first Easter Sunday, he lives today and directs His church. Remember to ponder the blessings we have, and to thank our Lord for all of them. I love being one of His missionaries.

I love you all!
Elder Merrill

It's pretty cool here, there's a lil more nature in Itaquá than Cohab Juscelino, since it's more interior. But there are still lots of people. São Paulo is crazy

One of the freeways we have to cross daily, and a neighborhood that floods a ton when it rains

This is usually what birthday parties look like.... Brigadeiro, Bejinhos, cute and delicious cakes and a good ol' time! 

Imagine Elder Rodrigues, and its our generation! (the one on the right is my grandson, Elder Klaus) One day we'll get everyone!

And got to see Letícia and Larissa last week for P-day! (and Elder Hughes, since he's comps with Elder David (who missed the photo))

Zona Itaquá

P-day futebol!

Monday, March 21, 2016


Hello everyone!

So this week was a lil crazy, but it was sweet and Im alive and well!

Odd to say goodbye to Cohab Juscelino as we were riding out on the bus... I took the train with Sister Doyle to Itaqua (she was in Zona Itaquera and was getting transferred to Itaqua as well) so that was kind of odd..... I felt super strange without a companion, even though it was just 30 minutes haha

Elder Barroso and I are super stoked to get working more this week. We´ve already met lots of members, and they are so cool! So in Jd. Odete there are 2 sets of missionaries that cover the whole ward, and every day we eat lunch together. Its fun because it feels less lonely and we can talk and joke together.... as a missionary, you love talking to other missionaries. Its just a thing.

Our shower is broken, so we get to take cold showers every day.... fun stuff. Also our house is about 30 minutes from the church, and all of the people we teach are on the other side of the church.... so every day we have to walk more than an hour to lunch, and at the end more than an hour to return, crossing a freeway and going through tunnels.... its pretty exciting, but Im so happy we´ll be moving this next week to a house a lot closer to the area we work. My feet will be happier, and we´ll be able to do more.

This next week should be great. I´m excited

Love you all!

Elder Freire, Nascimento, eu, e Barroso, the crew for the Jardim Odete ward

Our amazing view (Yes, its a wall.)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Time for change...

Hello everyone!

We had a great last week here. We´ve been focusing on our recent converts and really trying to help them with their testimonies and staying strong in the church. It´s so amazing to love so many people in a such a special way.

On Tuesday, all of the foreign missionaries had to go to the mission office on short notice, and nobody knew why.... when we got there, the rest of the day entailed traveling to various government places and waiting so we could get a type of Brazilian document that we needed to have health coverage, or something like that.... I dunno, but it was weird to see so many americans in one place (like 20 to 30 of us) and fun to catch up with some friends in other zones. 

At church yesterday, we basically said goodbye to everyone, and it was super sad. I played the piano for the last time, gave out ties to some of the young men who are very special to me, and thanked all of the irmãs for all of the amazing food they´d fed me with the last 7 months.... It was on the bus home when I felt the impact we´ve had on these wonderful people, and how strongly I feel how much they love us, the trio of triumph. 

Guess what some genius did again? Thats right, he locked the key in our apartment again. What an idiot, who does that twice? I have skills. We called a member and I went with him all the way to the mission office to get the copy of the key, and then all the way back

We promised that we´d let Letícia hear the transfer call, so Larissa came over and we were all nervous and ready to get the call at about 8:30. The time passed, and we waited.... and waited.... and waited..... Our district leader gave us permission to stay there until we got the call, even though it was getting late. Finally at 11:00, the Assistants said that President felt he needed to make last minute changes and would pass the transfer the next morning. Agonized, we went home and hardly slept. But this morning Elder Patson called to say that Elder David will be going to Mogi das Cruzes (in Elder Rodrigues´ old area) and be companions with Elder Hughes (yes, my MTC comp!) super cool! Elder Ambriz will be training a new missionary in Penha (which isn´t too far away, but it´s not Cohab Juscelino, so they´ll be opening the area). And I will be going to the area Jardim Odete to be a Zone Leader of the Itaquaquecetuba zone (yeah, that´s the name of a real place, not one I made up) to be companions with Elder Barroso, meu avó!!!! (my grandpa in the mission (Elder Rodrigues´ trainer)) How legit is that? I´m stoked.

But I´m also sad. I love this area and I love this ward! It´s been amazing to serve the humble and special saints in Cohab Juscelino, a privilege I never imagined. But the Lord has more people He´s prepared to put into my life, and so I look forward to the future with a smile and await the marvellous surprises and blessings yet to come.

I love you all so much!

Elder Merrill

Thank you Wenatchee Stake for the package! I loved it!

Zona Itaquera with our snazzy zone shirts (Its a Stormtrooper with a nametag and Book of Mormon)

The District

So it´s missionary tradition to burn a tie at six months out, but I didn´t get around to it until last week... when I made 8 months. Oh well, it was fun and the tie was super ugly. Now I´m official.

I´m going to miss all of these wonderful people terribly..... It´s tough to leave

Lekinho (Alecsander) and I

Monday, March 7, 2016

Sweet Experiences

Sweet week. 

Today for P-day, we went to the São Paulo aquarium (which was more of a zoo haha) with Larissa and her sister. It was super cool! Enjoy some lovely pics below.

We got to go to the temple with Alecsander, Bethania and Daniel to do baptisms. It was so nice to be in the temple free from the noise and craziness of the world, and even cooler to see those 3 dressed in white once again there in the Lord's house.

Afterwards, I bought root beer for the first time in 8 months at a lil store close to the temple..... Perfection in a can. I miss root beer so much

This week, Letícia was baptized. She has actually been an investigator since April of last year, and was the first house that Elder Rodrigues took me to when I got here in August. She's always had such a desire to be baptized, but she was in a situation that didn't allow it. We witnessed her go through so many trials and difficulties, always there to help to the best of our ability, but what was amazing was how it was the gospel that gave the comfort and solace she desperately was seeking in those trying times. And so Heavenly Father blessed us with the privilege of witnessing her first step into a different life: baptism. The path wasn't easy to get there, and it certainly won't be easy from here on out, but I have confidence that her faith in Christ will truly let her have more of the life that she deserves. It's amazing to be a missionary here in God's work. I love it.

Love you all!

Elder Merrill

Letícia's Baptism! Elder Barroso (my"grandpa" in the mission was able to come too, since he was the first Elder to teach her)

Daniel, Alecsander and Bethania at the temple. 

There is a store close to the temple that sells root beer and cream soda.... A little expensive, but I almost cried with joy when I took the first sip. Heck yes.

Cool fish

We went surfing with the sharks..... don't tell President

Silly Seal

Majestic Polar Bear diving

Confused Lemur trying to eat