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Monday, June 27, 2016

A vida

Family Dearest,

This week was crazy and cool!

Yesterday was the second Sunday in a row that I was informed after the meeting started from the pulpit that I would be the organist (technically, pianist), and had to run to the piano and butcher hymns I've never played before.... during the talks, I turned the power off and practiced the next hymn.... better than nothing! We need to baptize someone that plays the piano so I can be relieved of my duty heh heh....

Last monday after logging off of email and gathering my things to go, I realized  that my wallet had vanished...... yup. Wasn't paying enough attention, and then it was gone.... The dude walked away with 40 reais, mission health card, CPF (a brazilian SSN, basically), and a temple recommend... oh well, most of those things are replaceable, and I could have lost my debit cards....

I got to teach (or try, at least) some Bolivians in Spanish.... it went okay, but my Spanish is definitely rusty. I also got to teach (or try, at least) a man from Seattle who didn't speak a word of Portuguese but was here visiting a relative of our Ward Mission Leader.... the Restoration came out in Portuglish. I cannot speak 100% English anymore, especially gospel words. At one point I said "God sempre chamou prophets" and didn't notice until the people nearby started laughing super hard.... I'm broken.

We did divisions in our area 2 days in a row! It was tiring, but was awesome for our numbers since all the work counts for our area hahaha  I love being able to learn from the missionaries that we serve, and to help them out with their specific difficulties. 

We found 2 families this last week that seem golden. Only one came to church this week, but our bishop is super happy. And when the bishop is happy, it helps everyone else be happy. 

Have a happy week everyone!

Elder Merrill

Elder Ferreira's umbrella (a backpack rain cover)


Monday, June 20, 2016

A vida

Querida família,

This week was full of walking around on the street trying to find awesome people to teach. We spent a few days just talking to every single person, but we haven't seen much fruit yet... I think the Lord is testing our patience. We'll continue on this week!

On Tuesday night we got to have a meeting with the Stake President to discuss the work in the zone (which is the same as the stake) and to coordinate our efforts better. President and Sister Silcox also came, which was super cool to be in a room with people full of such spiritual power. They're so awesome.

We marked the wedding for a Bolivian couple that we're teaching! The husband is a member who returned to church at the end of last year, but they haven't been able to get married yet for some reason.... but anyways we found out what they needed then went on Tuesday morning, and like that we were able to clear all the paperwork and so they'll be married and she'll be baptized on July 8th, my one year mark!

I don't have much time, so that's all for now folks! Love you all!

Elder Merrill

One investigator sews for a living and I tried to help.... after much concentration and effort, I reached the conclusion that I'm terrible at it. Not the profession for me.

There was a cool and PACKED stake youth activity on Saturday. All the wards presented a dance representing a specific country

...Penha was the best, of course, representing Italy.

The best tool that exists for killing cockroaches:)

São Paulo is ridiculous.... the buildings simply never end.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Minha semana

Dear Fam,

Can't believe I've already been here for nearly 2 weeks! Things are beginning to settle down as we get to know more and more about Penha. We

This week was pretty chill. No really. Like, it dropped below 40. That's not normal, and all the people here are freaking out because the for them world is ending. But it isn't the same as the states because there the houses have insulation and heating.... we have holes in our house:) It makes waking up super hard, and showering is interesting because our showerhead that heats the water is semi-broken, so you freeze because the air is cold and then freeze because the water isn't even hot, then towel off as fast as possible then jump under the blankets in your bed until you regain feeling.  

We did a division with some young men in the ward (Elder Moraes with one and me with two others) and it was fun to get to know them and to do get done twice the work! We'll definitely do more of those.

We started teaching some of our neighbors and it's the best because the walk home afterwards is exactly 17.4 seconds. They're a couple that needs to get married (go figure) but they're super special and we've had some cool lessons with them so far. Last night when we knocked, they'd just finished watching the Restoration video with a friend (we gave them the DVD) and it led to a cool lesson with their friend about the Book of Mormon. 

On Saturday, we had a conference with the whole mission! It was in our chapel, so we didn't have to travel more than the 15 minute walk from our house! I love seeing all my friends in the mission, and there are fewer things in this world more happy than a large group of missionaries:) Our zone presented a musical number and I was forced to sing a solo in front of the entire mission (I didn't want to, but it went well). Elder Pinto (an area Seventy) came to address us. Afterwards he did a Q and A session with all the Zone Leaders and Sister Leaders to answer our questions about leadership stuffs and so on. SUPER GOOD. I loved every minute, and left much more enlightened 

I love you all!

Yay service!

Tall buildings at night are extra cool

I was reading while waiting for lunch one day and this lil' thing fell asleep on my knee

A galera (right of me is Elder Martins, then Hirst, Miranda, and Hughes)

Hot chocolate saves my life every single day

Walking to church in the cool morning fog (Usually there are lots of people on our street, but nobody is because it was less than 10 Celcius (remember, they're brazilians)

How to study when it's freezing in yo house

São Paulo East Mission

Monday, June 6, 2016

Cars, Trains, City, oh my!

Dearest Fam,

Itaquá is pretty tranquil and laid back. Penha is near the center of São Paulo, and is the opposite of Itaquá. Everyone here is in the rush and busy and I feel kinda like I changed missions a little bit. Even though we're in a more populated part, our area is enormous and we frequently have to take the bus to lunch. But it's good. I'm liking it.

My comp is Elder Moraes, from Acre, a small state in the amazon rainforest. He is full of energy, which is really good since we were doubled in and spent a good part of the week trying to not get lost. Also, the Penha zone has 3 districts with 6 missionaries in each, so it's a little stressful when you're all of a sudden responsible for 18 new missionaries and have to know who is where and what their difficulties are so you can help their district leaders help them and at the same time build a teaching group in your own area to be an example for the others..... it's a bit to swallow in one bite, but we're catching up with things!

When I was in the MTC, 2 of our favorite instructors got married to each other. Guess what? They live in our area! And they both remembered me! How neat is that?

On Friday we had leadership council and it was awesome! We got an awesome training about using family history work with recent converts. Apparently, only 3 of the 140+ recent converts that were baptized this year in the whole entire mission have taken family names to the temple. To fix this problem, we made a goal that ALL of them will submit or take at least one name by the end of this month, and there will be a huge temple trip for everyone to participate. I'm excited because it's such a simple and powerful way to help recent converts strengthen their tesitmonies and serve in the Lord's temple.

We've already met lots of cool members, and the bishop of our ward is exceptional. There are so many people excited about missionary work that love to give us references, so I'm sure we'll see successes here. More to report on next week!

Love you all!
Elder Merrill

RIP my sandals... serious, it ripped

Saying goodbye to Eduardo and Carla :(

Last photo of the gang at the train station on transfer day

We de-iced the freezer in our new house.... it was all ice, there wasn't any space to put in anything (and there was a plastic container fossilized over time in the ice.... like, we didn't even know there was anything in there until it melted)

This isn't Itaquaquecetuba anymore....

One of my favorite parts about our house is that we get a qood idea of how the weather is without even stepping outside! Yes, there is a huge hole in our roof.

Me and Elder Moraes (Moraes-zinho do poder) (this was taken after organizing this morning the dreadful mess of a house we arrived to)