Monday, December 22, 2014

Hey Hey Hey Ho Ho Ho,

See what I did there?

Did you guys know that Christmas is this week!!!!??? Yeah me neither I just found out... Ha. Zone conference was super awesome! We watched FROZEN and played dodge ball! We also got awesome Tennessee Knoxville Mission hoodies! President gave us an awesome training pertaining to what we can know is our responsibility to focus on doing as missionaries and he also talked about how we can know that we are forgiven. He read from Alma 36 and talked about verse 21, which I talked about last week. It really made me think about the burdens of guilt that others carry. We can see when people make mistakes but we rarely know how they feel about it. I think all of us daily carry some degree of guilt since we all sin daily. A lot of people are worn down inside and it causes them to respond and act differently than one at peace would. Since I know the joy of repentance because it is something I am sharing with people every day I strive to be the person that can understand the pain of sin and how it can make people respond. I hope that I can be understanding to those in the pain of sin and help them change their lives to find the joy of repentance.

This week I went on exchanges with Sister Husted, she is from Orem and we know a lot of the same people! We had a lesson with her recent convert (she previously served here in Chattanooga, I actually replaced her here) it was really good that she was there because I felt like I didn't understand him at all. I wanted to help him want to do the right things but I didn't know how to help him be positively motivated by his love for God. He had been atheist for 14 years before he got baptized, so learning to trust God was something that wasn't going to come in a matter of days or weeks. He is still in the process of understanding God's role in his life. He was ready to commit to God and that is why he got baptized, but trusting him in every instance takes experience with the spirit. We had a good lesson and I feel like I was able to begin to understand where he is coming from. It was a great end to the exchange!  Ohh story time part 2: we had the lesson at the church and our branch mission leader came and he drove away in his car with his macbook and ipad on the roof and they flew off and broke the screens! It was so sad BUT all of his information was still on there and they are still functioning after he put screen protectors on them! Miracle!!!

I am so P-U-M-P-E-D for Christmas! It is going to be a fun day celebrating with a couple of families in the branch! I hope y'all have a wonderful Christmas! Discover the gift, embrace the gift, share the gift! The gift of Jesus Christ y'all!

Love all of y'all!

Sister Andrea Kate Merrell

Monday, December 15, 2014

Exquisitely Bitter-Sweet


This week Elder Renlund from the seventy came and visit us at a conference we had in Farragut! It was splendid. He really wanted us to understand the power of our mission calls. That we belong here as missionaries and not anywhere else. Heavenly Father personally picked eastern Tennessee for me and I am so grateful that I know that for myself. I know because he has personally picked people to come into my life that have changed me forever--my companions, members, investigators, recent converts, mission president, mission leaders, etc.

This week has been pretty rough to be honest. Our baptismal date that we set with Anna and Jessica had to be dropped because their mom doesn't want them to be baptized. She doesn't understand, we hope to be able to clear everything up this week and reset the date. We're praying hard for that to happen. We had a wonderful lesson with them and we watched the restoration DVD and talked about the Book of Mormon. Anna has such a strong testimony and is just one of the sweetest people ever. She is such a good example to Jessica and is just making the pathway bright for both of them. Her testimony will help her mom understand, I just know it. Although this week just seemed full of disappointments and failed efforts, it just makes me want to continue to strive to be a better teacher so these people can truly understand the impact that the gospel can make on them. It makes me want to be more bold so they truly understand what we are offering. Alma 36:21 really can perfectly explain my week better than I can:

 "Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy."

This is how I feel about my mission. Some days are so hard and we get on like 9 buses and nobody wants to talk to us and nobody answers the door and we're just wandering around the ghetto feeling like fools. But some days are wonderful and I feel the spirit extra strong and I just know that the eternal scheme is far greater and far grander than any of those bad days. In this scripture Alma is testifying of how his sins made him understand sorrow and his repentance helped him understand joy. My sins and the sins of the people that we are trying to teach help me understand sorrow; but, the spirit, when it testifies of truth helps me understand joy.

I love y'all! Have an amazing week! Merry Christmas!


Sister Andrea Merrell

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Locked Out

So on Wednesday we drove up to Farragut and I picked up my cute new companion, Sister McDermott! She is from Morgan, UT and she is 19 years old. I am so excited to be her trainer, she reminds me a lot of myself at the beginning of my mission. She is shy but when she gets comfortable she is hilarious and is just really fun to talk to and be around. I love her. Anyways on our first day together we had a lesson with Juan (that was crazy) and then we had a lesson with Anna and Jessica. Anna and Jessica are 12 and 14 and have been coming to church for a while with their friend. We taught them the restoration and committed them to be baptized on January 10th! We are so excited! After that we headed back to the apartment and I realized I had left the keys inside... WE WERE LOCKED OUT! Hahahahaha so we called a locksmith. His name was Corey and he had met Mormons before and had a Book of Mormon in his van! Sister McDermott got his info like a boss, and we were able to refer him to the missionaries in his hood. So what if it cost 55 bucks to give him the gospel... eternal life is priceless and stuff. Hahaha. Whatever.

This week we had so many miraculous lessons it was so wonderful. My favorite was when we went and visited a Spanish speaking recent convert named Emilcar. She has every kind of struggle that you can think of from family to financial; she is raising 3 kids on her own. She greeted us at the door with a warm smile and we came in and begin to talk, she began to share her feelings told us she has too many problems to be happy. We read 2 Nephi 31:14-21 together and talked about enduring to the end with faith to be able to have peace during times of hardship. I felt the spirit so strongly in the most different way that I can't even describe. My heart was full of empathy and love for this woman. This lesson was completely in Spanish with no translator; although I couldn't understand every word spoken, my heart could understand the spirit that was there. We were able to communicate to her what Heavenly Father wanted her to hear. I am grateful for gifts of the spirit in times of need.

I was reading this yesterday, Alma 45:7 "Yea, I will keep the commandments with all of my heart." A lot of times throughout my life I have done things because I just want to do the right thing because I know it's right. But throughout my mission have been learning more and more that I want to do the right thing because of the love I have for my Heavenly father. I want to keep the commandments with all of my heart not all of my gut. When we do things out of love instead of a sense of duty we are able to learn the lessons that only love can teach us.

Oh guess what? We get to watch FROZEN at zone conference in 2 weeks. I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!!!! But seriously. And we're going to play dodge ball and do skits! Bahahahahah I'm so excited. I love you all. Today is a great day to be a missionary. And so is tomorrow and so is forever.


Sister Andrea Kate Merrell

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Holiday Perfection

Hello Hello!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Mine was pretty great, we spent it with the YSA branch president's family (the Wolfleys), 2 other sets of missionaries and a few YSA people! We had smoked turkey, and then normal kind and ham. But I mainly stuffed myself on the fresh pineapple and raspberries and the delicious salad. We played pool too! It was a pretty good day!

This week we had some things play out that I would definitely say were miraculous. We went to go meet a new less active couple that had moved in and they were very warm and we were able to show them the "He is the Gift" video (I'll get to that later). We left and we were in a hurry because we had an appointment across town but we saw a lady outside sweeping her porch so we stopped and talked to her. We found out that she is related to Sister Bridgette, a member of our branch! She had heard many good things about the Book of Mormon so it was a great opportunity for her to get one! She wasn't interested in having the lessons but maybe later on down the road. Anyways after we talked to her we were in even more of a hurry and we kept walking. We got to an intersection and we saw the Moores from the branch! They honked at us and we ran over and asked them if they could take us to our appointment! Perfect timing right? They dropped us off and it turned out our appointment wasn't there but we were able to talk to the neighbors and they said they were interested in learning more! We're going back on Thursday, hopefully that works out. Miracles on miracles on miracles!

Oh yes I forgot the big news, Sister Mackelprang is getting transferred on Wednesday and I am going to train a new missionary! Woohoo! I'm so excited! I hope she doesn't get scarred for life starting her mission up hurr in the ghetto!

So there is this restaurant here called the Yellow Deli and it is ran by some sort of religious group... I don't even know how to explain what they are because they call themselves a community. Anyways, we went there for lunch and when they found out we were Mormon they invited us to dinner on Friday night to celebrate ringing in their Sabbath. So we went and it was so much fun! They did folk dancing and they were all singing and we just watched but it was awesome. Then we had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and everything was organic, home-made and DELICIOUS! We sat by this family and we basically taught them the restoration. I was sitting next to their 14 year old daughter, Shua and we got along really well. She was really cute! After dinner they taught us some of their dances. It was a fun time learning about other people's beliefs and sharing ours at the same time. I asked Shua if she would take a picture with me, she's the cutest.

We have started using pass-along cards featuring the "He is the Gift" video: This Christmas season is already off to a good start on focusing on the importance of having a Christ focused Christmas. I really have been thinking about this personally. We can embrace the gift of Jesus Christ by letting the Atonement impact how we think, what we do, and what we say. I think a great example of this is the people of King Benjamin's reaction after he has taught them, " O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men."--Mosiah 4:2
I hope to for Christmas be a gentle reminder of the gift of Jesus Christ and that through him I can purify my heart and be a better person.

Love y'all!!

Sister Andrea Kate Merrell

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Me Gusta Sus Zapatos

Hey hey hey!

This week has been great great great! Let me tell you my favorite part:

We were on the bus sitting across from this little man wearing moon boots. When I told him that I liked his shoes he looked at me puzzled and said that he didn't speak English. I went on to repeat myself in Spanish and he smiled and nodded. I quickly explained to him in my broken high school Spanish that we were missionaries and as we were getting off the bus we exchanged info so we could contact him again. After we got off the bus we turned around and he had followed us. He wanted to continue talking. He told us that he was studying religion and history and we were able to set an appointment for this week with him and then we had to leave to catch our next bus. 

The next day we were sitting in district meeting and we all heard a knock at the door. Our district leader, Elder Tucker went to go answer it and he called us out into the hall way to see that it was Juan, the guy from the bus! He held out his hand for a handshake and when I grabbed his hand he pulled me in and gave me a kiss on the cheek! Hahahahaha the whole district keeps telling me to lock my heart. So funny. Anyways, we told him (again in broken Spanish) that church is on Sunday at 9 and he thanked us and went on his way. 

The day after that we went to his apartment to drop off a Libro de Mormon and we wrote down a brief explanation of the Book of Mormon from a Spanish Preach My Gospel that we had in the apartment. I said a prayer in Spanish too because I ripped out a page in a missionary Spanish book showing how to pray so I just read it hahha. On Sunday we got to go to the Spanish gospel principles class. It was fun trying to understand what everyone was saying. I loved it!

Heavenly Father is preparing hearts everywhere to receive the gospel, Juan is evidence of that!

We also got to play some football this week at the branch turkey bowl! Sug came and let's just say my defense is so awesome. I pulled his flag erry time! Bahaha! We had a great lesson with Sug earlier in the week with the Basses; we taught him the Plan of Salvation. It went very well, and when we followed up on his reading assignment (Alma 7) he said something along the lines that baptism is something he needs to think about. We didn't even bring it up BAHAHAHA! He is slowly committing himself! Awesome.

I love y'all! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Sister Andrea Kate Merrell

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Hey familia!

Let me tell y'all a funny story:

So we went over to Miss Ruby's house on Saturday morning. She is super old and is too sick to come to church so we go over and play a round of skippy-bo with her once a week. She told Sister Mackelprang to get a book off of a shelf for her. Sister Mackelprang couldn't find it so Ruby got down on her hands and knees to find it herself before we could even stop her! So there she was stuck on the ground and she couldn't get back up (don't worry she was laughing about it the entire time). Anyways we tried for about 20 minutes to help her get up and it was so hilariously unsuccessful that we decided to go and get her neighbor, Steve, that we had just talked to before we went in her apartment. Steve came over and when he tried to pick her up Ruby starts screaming, "RELEASE ME HENRY, RELEASE ME!" I have no idea who Henry is... Anyways, then he put her back down on the ground and then I went over and we both got her up on to the couch. It was so funny/terrifying. We all had a good laugh afterwards, hence the picture to commemorate the occasion.

We set a baptismal date for Jakiva and her daughter Taylor for December 6th! We're pretty pumped about it, but at the same time a lil nervous since she asks a lot of off the wall questions that make it seem like she doesn't understand what the heck is going on. But hey she came to church yesterday and the members were really sweet to her. We are hopeful that the spirit will secure her desire.

Yesterday was the most miraculous Sunday ever. There have been a couple of middle school aged girls, Jessica and Anna, that have been coming to church for the last month and we didn't know they weren't members! So finally we were able to set up a time to meet with them and get the ball rolling. Brother Smith taught them in Sunday school and afterwards he told us he gave them Book of Mormons and committed them for baptism! What the awesome! Also, in the YSA branch a married member of the hixson ward came and he brought his friend from his internship. Her name is Renada and she is adorable, she looks just like Emma Watson! We fit right in and we are going to have our first lesson with her this week! There be miracles droppin from da ceiling all over the place! Holla!

I love all of y'all!!!

Love Sister Andrea Merrell

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Hey Hey!

This week was pretty eventful! We had stake conference so that took up the weekend and zone training meeting was on Friday. It was a good week and it went by really really fast. ZOOM!!! I can't believe it's already Monday again!

I don't think I've talked about our investigator Jakiva. A couple of weeks ago we were walking passed a random church and there were 3 ladies outside. We started talking with them in a group but the conversation was going more towards just one of the ladies. When we offered her a Book of Mormon and she declined it, but then Jakiva stepped in and asked if she could have it! We were thrilled! We got her information and then we caught our bus. When we went back later on and taught her the restoration she showed us some of her journal entries about life. we could really see her love for Christ and how much she relies on Him. It was awesome. We  taught her the Plan of Salvation this week and it went pretty well. She said she wanted to be baptized! She and her kids came to stake conference this weekend too!!! On the car ride home, Sister Bass asked her what she liked about stake conference and Jakiva said she liked how they talked about baptism. HOLLA.  I am so grateful that Jakiva was bold enough to accept our Book of Mormon. I'm glad we were bold enough to talk to those people even though they were outside of their church. Change requires boldness! 

Okay here's another miracle for ya, we got back from zone meeting and we were late for our appointment so we had to take a later bus and shorten our lesson. We had a quick lesson and then we bolted out the door so we could get to the last bus of the day. We barely made it, and at the next stop Vanicia got on. Vanicia came to church a couple of weeks ago because a member of our branch, Sister Bennett had invited her. It was such a miracle that we bumped into her and it was all because we were late! We were able to have a lesson with her and her "roommate partner thing" (hahaha her own words) the following day. They had told us that they weren't going to come to stake conference before the lesson started but as they felt the spirit they gained the desire to at least try. It was pretty awesome. They didn't come though hahaha dangit. We're going to see them tonight. I think they will come to church this week!

Sug came to stake conference as well! HOLLA! He's the coolest. He gets his own paragraph even though it's just like a line because he's awesome.

This transfer is flying by! I can't believe we're already half way through. So crazy! We are having a blast up in hurr in the ghetto. The Signal Mountain elders drive us around on P-days and we take selfies because we're cool.

Love ya!!!

Sister Merrell

Thursday, November 6, 2014

I Survived Halloween 2K14


This week was pretty good! We started out by having FHE with our branch president (President Bass) and his family and they had invited their friend Sug to come over. Sug had met the missionaries several times through out the years and had been given a Book of Mormon but he didn't really know what we were about! We took the opportunity to get to know him better and invite him to take the lessons. It was a really was a powerful experience because the President and Sister Bass kept testifying of how the gospel has blessed them and that being the reason why they wanted to share it with him. They were asking Sug some awesome inspired questions. Sug agreed to learn more with real intent and our journey official has begun! We had a lesson with him and President Bass later on in the week and we taught him the restoration. It was awesome; it was like we were in a trio because President Bass helped so much with the teaching. The spirit was really strong! I loved it!

Halloween was quite the adventure since we had to be locked in by 4. Our district decided to go to the church to play games so we all chilled there the whole night and got all hyped up on sugar (elders+mountain dew=no bueno). We ended up turning off all of the lights in the mansion and the Elders did a haunted house for Sister Mackelprang and I. They slammed doors and ran around and screamed and put on primary music upstairs. IT WAS FREAKY! And y'all know how much I love getting scared so yeah... it was a really fun Halloween!

On Saturday we went over to Northshore (aka hipster central) we were wandering around looking for a part member family's house for about an hour and a half. We were walking up a huge hill when we stopped and asked this lady named Jerry for directions. She told us to get in her car and she would drive us there. While we were in the car talking with her she told us that her mom had grown up Mormon! She said she now knew what she had waited so long to leave her house to go to the grocery store, it was because she needed to bump into us! Awesome huh? She wouldn't commit to a return appointment though.. ahh dangit. But we know where she lives so that's a start! It was a really awesome miracle... I just wish she had taken the opportunity to really understand that. Oh well she will eventually! It really made me think about how God gives us opportunities to spiritually grow every day. Especially when we take time to ask spiritual questions. In Elder Neil L. Andersen's conference talk he said, "Spiritual questions deserve spiritual answers from God." When we really want spiritual answers from God we have to take the time to ask the questions. Maybe Jerry isn't asking the questions at this point, but some day she will.

I love all of y'all! 

Sister Andrea Kate Merrell

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Downtown Chattanooga Adventure Begins!

What up What up!???

Yep I''ve officially transitioned to the ghetto thug life because I'm here in downtown Chattanooga! My companion is Sister Mackelprang and she is from Farmington, UT. She has been out for 3 months so yep I'm trainer breaking. She's asian!!!! HECK YEAH WE GOT SUM DIVERSITY UP IN HURRR!!! 
So I am here working in two branches, the downtown Chattanooga family branch and the YSA branch! Our branches meet in in an old civil war mansion and we live in the slave quarters just behind it.
I love it! Oh also we are a bus and walk area! Yep, so it really is the definition of crazy. I'm loving every moment so far. It's so easy to talk to people here because everyone just wants to laugh. When I smile at people their whole demeanor towards me changes. The bus is an adventure!

So let me tell you why I am meant to be here in Chattanooga. A couple of weeks ago Sister Burr and I were discussing the possibilities of where I could be transferred to. I told her my biggest fear was to go to downtown Chattanooga-- but it also seemed kind of exciting. I knew it would be the one place in the mission that would push me to grow the most. At that moment I knew I would be coming here. 

On my first evening here, we went and saw the Porters (the cutest and most in love couple I've ever met) and we ate dinner with the Scotts. After dinner we had to go catch the bus on a random street corner in the dark. As we were walking to the bus stop, I was terrified, maybe because 2 people pulled over and offered us rides and warned us of danger. I was so scared that we had missed the bus. The whole time I was thinking, "it's okay you can just cry yourself to sleep when you get home." Hahahahahahahahah isn't that awful? Well the bus came and we got home safe and everything was fine but I was still feeling extra anxious about riding the bus, being in the ghetto, etc. I did not sleep at all that night. The next day was district meeting and I just wanted to cry the whole time but my eyes were constipated. Well, luckily for me, my old friend Elder Parkinson who was my district leader in Oak Ridge is now one of my zone leaders along with Elder Sterling who was in my district a while ago in Bristol. I had some priesthood holders that I trusted to be in tune with the spirit, so I asked them to give me a blessing. It was hard for me to ask because I have a little bit of a pride problem--but I knew that now would be a good time to let go of that and to rely on God a little bit more. Anyways, I was blessed with the peace I was looking for and Heavenly Father told me He was proud of my faith in the priesthood. Also something said in that blessing was directly quoted from my patriarchal blessing. This miracle of the priesthood confirmed my faith-- and my faith is strong because I love reading the scriptures and seeing evidence of God's authority to act in His name, given to man. Whenever I see a footnote that says "priesthood authority" I feel enlightened and my understanding increases. Heavenly Father has restored His priesthood to the earth through the prophet Joseph Smith; I love that I get to teach that and also experience the blessings from it. Because God's power is here we have the blessings of salvation available to us and we can claim the power of the atonement in our lives. In reality I think that Ammon's words can better describe my feelings in this situation"

Alma 26:11-12

"11 But Ammon said unto him: I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.

 12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever."

The miracle to me is the peace that I have knowing Heavenly Father is watching over and protecting me as I am doing His work. I love it here in downtown Chattanooga, it's everything I ever dreamed my mission would be and more. I am grateful that Heavenly Father trusts that I can do hard things.

Love you and pray for you all!

Sister Andrea Kate Merrell