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Monday, May 29, 2017

The last week. Eita. Já?


This week was pretty sweet. We had the oportunity on Wednesday to go to the Campinas temple for the last time. What a blessing that we have 2 temples so close to our mission! But we had to leave our house before 6am and got home about 8pm, but it was worth the trip. 

On Friday we had Zone Conference in Taubaté, and had to leave the house about 6:40 am to get there on time... we got home at about 8:30 at night. But it was wonderful to recieve training from Presidente and Sister Silcox about the importance and power of the Book of Mormon. President Monson's invitation to all of us to read the Book of Mormon every day comes directly from God. I know from personal experience that it is true, and that it brings us closer to God, and that it can really answer our deepest questions of the soul. We all need to feel the power that comes from that sacred book. And we all can know with certainty that it is true. 

Walace, a member of our ward, has a friend who loves to speak english and lived for a short while in the US, and asked if he'd be down to talk with Elder Foniciello and me in english. He said sure, so we all went out to eat açaí and just talked in english with him so he could practice. The conversation turned to the Book of Mormon and soon enough we started teaching him about the restoration.... in english. Wow, it was rough. Walace was laughing at us teaching because every once in a while a portuguese word would slip in and we would contort our faces trying to find the words in english. Basically I was just translating my portuguese thoughts into english. But after about 2 minutes I was a lil more warmed up. It was special for me to have the oportunity to testify as a representative of Jesus Christ in my native tounge, however shaky it was. I felt the Spirit as we shared the special message we have to share with the whole world, to every nation, toungue, and people, that the gospel of Jesus Christ is restored. 

I would like to thank you all for the love, support, and prayers that you've offered over this time I've been serving the Lord. How I love the Lord for the wonderful opportunity he's given me to be one of His representatives, despite my weakness and incapabilities. I know that He lives, and that He loves every single one of us. I know that his restored gospel truly blesses lives. I know that He is our Savior. If any of you desire answers to your questions, more peace and more profound happiness, I invite you to study the Book of Mormon and ask God if it is true. He will tell you that it is and you will receive more blessings than you've ever thought. I love the Lord, and I love you all!

Elder Merrill

Guaratinguetá isn't too far from Rio de Janeiro... 

Michael Jackson'n it

My querido distrito!

Distrito Fitness!
Jumping pics are hard to get everyone in the air, but this was the best one... I'm on the far left

Monday, May 22, 2017

Swell, just swell

Hey all!

This week was pretty sweet. We found some cool people to teach, taught some great lessons, and gave plenty of laughs. We did 2 divisions, which helped us get more stuff done in our area. One thing that's been helping is looking at the list of less actives and knocking on their doors. We meet lots of amazing people, and it gives us opportunities to serve. Many people who are less-active are just waiting for somebody to visit them. Go visit someone in your ward (you can even go with the missionaries) that you don't know, just for fun!

I had to do baptismal interviews on Thursday and Friday night in areas of my district, so it was fun to do some traveling and eat yummy food :) I love doing interviews because it gives me more chances to see the difference that the gospel of Jesus Christ makes on people. It's amazing.

We see miracles every day. I love being a missionary and I don't want it to ever end!

I love you all!
Elder Merrill

Found a bird with my hairdo!
We did a ward activity game-show style with questions about the Book of Mormon, and whoever answered wrong got a pie in the face:)
Every day an adventure

Monday, May 15, 2017



This week was quite eventful!

On Tuesday we had a great day, found some new people to teach, ate dinner with a cool member, taught some cool lessons, and got home happy. On Wednesday morning we were all fired up for another great day. At about 9am, President Silcox called to say that due to a missionary going home in another area, that there would be an emergency transfer and that Elder Ruzi was to pack his bags and take the bus that afternoon to the mission office. When I told him the news, he said "dude, you don't even know how to lie!" It took me 5 minutes to convince him that it wasn't a joke haha. That afternoon when the bus pulled out of the rodoviária, I felt like a father sending off my child on a mission. Sad that he wouldn't kill me, but happy he'll continue his adventure *sniff *sniff... Meu filhinho....

So now it's Elder Foniciello and I that will continue to tear up Guaratinguetá! We had interviews on Friday with Presidente and I'm excited to work hard these next few weeks! 

On Friday we went to Cachoeira Paulista for a division/baptismal interview

It was wonderfulyesterday to talk to mom, dad, and Tory (who is entering the MTC this week) and see their smiling faces:)

Yesterday at church we had investigators! It was a tender mercy of the Lord to have several people there! God is a God of miracles, and He really prepares people. When we walked into the chapel, there was a woman we'd never seen, and when we talked to her she told us that she was on the internet and stumbled across and started chatting with the online missionaries, who passed our bishop's number to her. She called and got directions to the church building, and showed up to the meeting on Sunday. It takes about an hour by bus from where she lives to the church, and she came alone. She told us she has been wanting to change her life around, wants to stop drinking and smoking and always wanted to learn more about the Mormons so resolved to check it out. After church she said that next week she wants to bring her whole family! Unfortunatley, she lives in the other Guará ward so we won't be teaching her, but that's okay. It was an example of faith to me, and I know that the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ can help anyone and everyone find purpose and lasting happiness in their lives. 

I love you all!
Elder Merrill

Tereré at district meeting even in a small plastic cup!
Sending Elder Ruzi off :(
Cachoeira Paulista's meetinghouse

Monday, May 8, 2017

Maio. Já é maio. Como assim?

Hey fam! 

Mais uma semana aqui em Guará. Trio is fun. 

We're visiting every single member on the directory, and when we arrived at one person's house I asked, "are you Sandra?" and she proceeded to talk nonstop for FORTY FIVE MINUTES. I don't even think she breathed. We hadn't even introduced ourselves.... after trying to interrupt many times, we gave up and sat down to listen. It never ceases to amaze me that some people just talk and talk and talk. After finally being able to leave a quick message, we went to visit another less active and almost the same thing happened, but this time the lady talked for 30 minutes. *sigh* I've learned lots of patience on the mission haha.

We were able to get a less active to church this Sunday! Slowly but surely I feel like things here are on the way to really being awesome.

Being a missionary is great, wouldn't trade it for a thing in the world!

I love you all!

Elder Merrill

Every night hundreds of birds sleep in these three trees. Just these three. I don't know if they know that Guará has more than three.

"FUSCA AZUL" (Brazilian missionary version of the slug bug game)

We saw a teeter-totter one night and decided to remember the good ol' days

Monday, May 1, 2017


Wow, the week flew by!

Being in trio is fun! Elder Foniciello was born and raised in Belgium, but his dad is Italian and he lived in the US for 2 years before the mission with his American mom... He speaks French and English (and Portuguese) fluently, so I've been trying to learn some French (no, not swear words... the language). When there's 3 of us there's lots more to talk about. Never a dull moment. It's also easier to do divisions with members because we just need one to make 2 duplas. This transfer should be super productive and awesome!

We walked a bit again this week, but our teaching pool is getting better. I hope that these next 5 weeks go by slowly enough for us to do plenty, because if time keeps flying by like it is we won't et everything done that we need to!

Yesterday I ate so much. After church, we ate a delicious lunch and when we were all stuffed, they brought out the cake and sang happy birthday, so we ate a bunch of cake. Just when we couldn't eat more, more members showed up with pavê, sang happy birthday again, and we ate more. At the end of the day we went to another member's house, ate more food, and they brought out TWO cakes and sang happy birthday again, and we ate even more... When we got home we couldn't even stand up straight. But it was great. I love the members here, and I love being a missionary!

Love you all!
Elder Merrill

Distrito Guará! I have a real district this transfer!
The trio of poder!

Monday, April 24, 2017

The last transfer...... :O

Hey fam!

So tomorrow is the transfer and looks like we'll be staying again! I'm happy because I didn't want to leave Guará nor Elder Ruzi, so we're good. However, we will be in trio, and Elder Foniciello is coming to help us out. I already know him, so it should be a fun and productive transfer:)

Our week was great. Taught some new investigators, walked a fair amount, met more less actives, We had a great Zone Conference on FridayWe had a sweet ward activity on Friday which I forgot to take pics and video of..... :( But it was a hoot, the members loved it. 

Today for P-day we went to Aparecida, a catholic tourist town that has a huge sanctuary (church) (google it) with Elder Ferreira and Shamo and some members... It was awesome! We took a bunch of pics, ate some food, bought some cheap souvenirs.... Tudo de bom:)

But the best part of the week was Thursday. We went to the São Paulo temple, to attend Larissa's sealing. Beforehand I stopped in the Area Brasil office (right by the temple) to see Bispo Guilherme, from Mooca. It was great to see him, and he gave me an update on how things are going. Then in front of the temple, I looked up to see... Elder David! I mean, David. He finished his mission in December but came for the sealing. It was fun to see him again. When we entered the waiting room, I saw others from Cohab Juscelino! The sealing ceremony was simple, but wonderful and very powerful. The Spirit was very strong, and more than anything else I felt a deep gratitude to Heavenly Father that I was able to witness the marvellous occurence of one of His children finding, accepting, and developing in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I felt grateful that He let me have this chance while I still am in Brazil. The gospel truly changes lives. I love my Savior for the chance to represent Him in announcing these glad tidings, and seeing His marvellous blessings.

I love you all!

Elder Merrill

The sign says: "Stop, look, listen" .... to the missionaries!
Selamento de Larissa e Maicon 20/04/2017

Our p-day adventures in Aparecida! (below)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Andando e andando

Hello fam!

This week... we walked a bit more. I'm just trying to teach Elder Ruzi early on in his mission that he should value more his small future areas haha.... 

I don't know why, but it seems like missionaries are magnets for crazy people... they seem to be the only people that stop to talk to us haha The problem isn't finding people to talk to us, but people that understand and want to hear our message... Good thing the members are helping us out. We had a lunch where one irmã invited some friends, and tomorrow we'll go to their house to teach them. Another night another member did a family home evening and invited the neighbors. These are simple things just for people to see that we're normal people too! But they make all the difference.

Saturday night I got a call 10:30pm from one of the bishop's couselors saying "you are the lucky winner! You were selected to give a talk tomorrow in Sacrament meeting!" So I gave a talk haha. I love speaking in church. It was wonderful because this time I had 11 hours to prepare, as opposed to my last talk last month when I walked in to the chapel and had 5 minutes to prepare haha.

During church yesterday the primary president pulled us out of class and had us go to the primary room. The kids sang "I hope they call me on a mission" and gave us drawings of missionaries that they drew.... it was pretty stinking adorable.
I hope you all had a happy Easter! I sure did. I didn't even remember easter was coming up until Tuesday... but I hope you all could spend time with family remembering the why.... That He rose from the dead! I love serving and representing Jesus Christ. He lives, and He loves us more than we know!

I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!
Elder Merrill

We did a family home evening with a member who made pizza for us in the pizza oven... I ate more than a whole pizza by myself hahaha
Several members gave us boxes of chocolates for easter, giving us a total of 4 haha.... they're just so sweet:)

Monday, April 10, 2017


Querida fam bam

We walked a whole lot this week. Like, a lot. I'm learning a lot about humility, patience, and faith in this area. There aren't a whole lot of results, but we are doing our best, and I know the Lord is watching over us every day.

Elder Ruzi's birthday was this week, and I planned 3 different surprise parties for him... he found out about only one beforehand haha. I told him we were going to contact Jefferson, a reference, Thursday night and we showed up at a member's house and he got super confused until they brought out cake and we started singing hahaha.... Afterwards he asked me if the Jefferson actually existed. Unfortunately, he wasn't actually a real person, but hey, free cake.

We had an awesome experience on Tuesday with an investigator who's working to make huge changes in his life. He has lots of obstacles, but the spirit was super strong as we taught him the Restoration. He accepted our invite to do a church tour the next night. As we toured the church building explaining about the restored church of Jesus Christ, he was astounded and intrigued. We entered the chapel and explained about the sacrament and he said he felt a strong peace within him and asked if he could say a prayer. It was one of the sincerest prayers I've heard in my life, and I was deeply marked by his good heart. He still hasn't come to church yet, but I've seen the great progress he's had in his life since we first started meeting with him, and it's amazing.

Saturday was one of the best days of my mission. Larissa We left our house before 6am to catch the bus to São Paulo. We arrived at the temple 10am to participate in the session that a member from Jardim Odete was getting her endowment. In the session I saw a member from Penha. Afterwards in the hall, I saw some members from Mooca. Then after eating lunch, Larissa (from Cohab Juscelino) got there. I saw people from all of my past areas. It was super cool. But the best part was being able to watch Larissa pass through the temple and receive her endowment. In 2 weeks, we're going to watch her be married for time and all eternity to a wonderful returned missionary in the São Paulo temple. What a blessing to be able to see the difference and light in her. It's an amazing privelege to see such a miracle. I love the temple.

Much love to you all too!
Elder Merrill

Feliz birthday boy 
We tried contacting an old investigator... this was where we ended up

*cue Gollum voice* "The staiiiiiirs!" (the pic doesn't show, but the stairs in the background are really steep and long
Me: "Nooooo I'm tired of walking... just leave me here to die"

Monday, April 3, 2017

April, what? Already?

How did this happen? Weren't we just in February?

Saturday, April 1st didn't end without Elder Merrill pullin some pranks... Most of them aren't really funny to non-missionaries, but one included me calling the assistents to have them call our zone leaders to fake that Elder Ruzi was gonna be emergency transferred.... Poor Elder Shamo believed it and got sad... But no one was hurt haha

This week we committed to work even harder and smarter than ever since conference was going to fill up all of our Saturday and Sunday... We were able to see some miracles every day, even though we're still at a loss for a solid teaching group, but I know the Lord is watching out for us.

General Conference was, as usual, stellar. We even had one investigator that went to the Sunday morning session! (still difficult to help people go to church) I enjoyed most the Priesthood session and noticed the enfasis on the difference that sincere service makes in our lives. The focus needs to be on others if we are to receive the promised blessings and change our very nature. I love the opportunity to serve God full-time and to help others learn about what makes me so happy and content. I love being a missionary!

Amo todos vocês! 
Elder Merrill

We made district t-shirts
Zona Guará!
Zona de Macho
I love brazilian birthday parties