Wednesday, September 24, 2014

17 Dogs, Whipped Cream, & An Inspiring Stake Conference

Hey Hey!!!

This week was pretty great! I went on exchange over in Kingsport with Sister Schwab and we had a brilliant birthday celebration breakfast with a member! We also went and tried to see Paul but he wasn't at the funeral home and so we just walked around the mausoleum for a second and it was pretty creepy cool. We went to a lady's house who had 17 dogs (her front yard was like a mine field) and did some how to begin teaching, which resulted in a maturation discussion from the woman so she could educate us in the most uncomfortable way possible. Hahahahaha over all it was just a crazy fun exchange.

We had a really good district meeting this week, our district leader Elder Hansen... Oh wait I forgot to tell you that my whole district plotted against me on Monday and surprised me for my birthday by smashing whipped cream in my face hahahaha... anyways in district meeting we talked about putting all of our efforts into finding. Sister Burr and I have decided that we are going to start working on our part member family list again after we had been focusing on tracking down all of our referrals for a few weeks. We stopped by Paul and Terry's house after district meeting because we were ready to roll. Paul claims to be agnostic but defines all of the principles of the church with clarity when we are talking with Terry. We asked him if he wanted to find out if God is really there. We're going back this week for a lesson and we are so pumped to teach them the restoration so Paul can rekindle the spirit that he has felt in the past and so Terry can come to know all God has to offer her.

This weekend was stake conference. On Saturday night we were able to go to Kingsport for the adult session. President Griffin spoke with power and authority, as he always does. He talked about our mission fast that we had just a couple of weeks ago (inspired by Alma 6:6). His devotion and passion for bringing forth the work here was felt by everyone. At one point he asked all of the missionaries to come up in front of the stand. 32 of us got out of seats and hustled to the front. President bore our testimony for all of us missionaries. He used the word "we" instead of "I" as he professed what we know to be true and what we are teaching the people we are surrounded by each day. There was not a dry eye in the audience, everyone felt the spirit so strongly and they knew that members and missionaries need to unite in bringing Heavenly Father's children home. 

The last thing to cap off a great week was that Rick has been given the okay to baptize Bobby this Saturday! It is so awesome that Rick has such a great opportunity to use his priesthood! We are beyond excited!

I love y'all and I pray for you daily! Thank you for being such great support!

Sister Andrea Kate Merrell

PS This is the cake that Rick got for me! 21 forever!!!! <3 hahahahah

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Best Birthday Present Ever!

Hey Hey!!

Thanks for all of the birthday love! I really had an amazing weekend! On Saturday Don had us and the Elders over for a Mexican fiesta themed party for me! We had enchiladas and brownies! It was so much fun! I love Don, he's my honorary grandpa! He still shows up for fast and testimony meeting every month! It's a pleasant surprise every time he is there and we know it's because he enjoys feeling the spirit. He'll get baptized some day, I just know it.

On Sunday, the Perkins had us over for a Harry Potter/British themed meal. We had BUTTER BEER!!! It was so delicious plus the Perkins make me laugh so hard that I snort so I always enjoy going over there! Brother Perkins is such a boss missionary, he brought his friend from the Kingsport area to church a couple of weeks ago. Tomorrow when I go on exchanges to Kingsport we're going to go over to his house, HE LIVES IN A GRAVEYARD!! I'M SO EXCITED!!! AND he has already read half of The Book of Mormon and he said he wishes he had read 3 Nephi 11 years ago! So that's awesome!

On Sunday evening we went to the Ronquillos and we had a yummy dinner that I had designed for Dan to cook  for me! Bow tie pasta with tomatoes in it with marenera sauce and steamed vegetables! YUMMMM. We had cake and ice cream and it was just a really good time! I LOVE THE RONQUILLOS!

Okay so we also had some great missionary moments this week, don't you worry! On Tuesday we had a great lesson with Brandon and Bishop came with us! Bishop was awesome and took the reigns on the lesson, he really was explaining the priesthood with so much passion. It was great and it really helped Brandon's understanding.

The next day we saw Travis and Katie (Katie made me a yummy chocolate cheese cake for my birthday bahaha). Anyways we were able to talk with them about their concerns which all pend on their understanding of priesthood authority. After these two experiences talking about the priesthood I have been really inspired to come to know more about the priesthood and understand it's power. As I study the scriptures every day I learn more and more about God's power on Earth. I love the book of Acts because it really is the example of how the church was organized once Christ wasn't there in the flesh to direct. I love examples of laying on of hands and ordination and I get so excited to know more about it. I love seeing the blessings I receive in my life from the priesthood as a woman! I was set apart as a missionary with the priesthood authority (I wish I had been more mature back then and that I had written down what President Kelly had said) BUT I am grateful that I have been called of God to be a missionary.

Yesterday was not only special to me because it was my birthday, it was special because Rick for the first time, had the opportunity to help bless the sacrament. I had a smile on my face the entire time and I felt a special spirit of happiness to see Rick have a chance to serve the ward with his Priesthood power. So awesome! By far the best birthday present ever!

Well that's about it folks! I love ya! Y'all are awesome! Have the best week ever!


Sister Andrea Kate Merrell

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Staying in B-town!!!

Hey Y'all!!

Good news! I get to stay in Bristol for another transfer with Sister Burr (aka Connie Dumples). I am excited and very relieved, there are a few people that we are working with that I wasn't ready to say goodbye to just yet. Also in my own words which the elders think are weird, "Bristol is the most fertile area ever." Hahah interpret that how you want. I think it means that there's a lot of potential for the best kind of missionary work!

We had a great lesson with Debbie this week! She is the cutest lady ever and her daughter is very enthused that she is taking the lessons. She really opened up to us and we were very honored that she did. She has a lot of healing ahead of her and it is very possible as she strengthens her relationship with God and Jesus Christ.

Good news, Andrew is back on the radar! Brother Elvish called us the other day and set up a lesson at his house with Andrew for tomorrow morning. We still haven't spoken to Andrew but hopefully tomorrow we can see where he's at and reset his baptismal date.

Bobby is still going strong and coming to church every Sunday. He told Sister Burr after sacrament meeting yesterday that he had some hesitations because some of his friends had been saying some strange things about the church. He said that he didn't believe them but he wants to talk about it so we'll hopefully able to calm his fears and resolve any concerns at our lesson with him this week.

On Saturday night we had a conference call with the entire mission starting our fast so we may be able to gain the trust of the members, and increase the amount of missionary work in every area to reach our mission goal of 50 baptisms per month. President Griffin offered a heartfelt prayer and challenged each of us to bear our testimonies on Sunday to let the ward know what we were fasting for. He also asked us to study about fasting. In my studies I learned a lot about the power of fasting. Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage had a great quote: "Have you some besetting weakness, some sinful indulgence that you have vainly tried to overcome? Like the malignant demon that Christ rebuked in the boy (Matt. 17:14-21) your sin may be of a kind that goeth out only through prayer and fasting." As I went back and read the story in Matthew, I learned so much about improving the quality of our faith. The disciples were unable to cast the demon out because their unbelief. We can strengthen the quality of our faith through genuine prayer and fasting. I feel as if that we all have some degree of faith so that is the start, but after that it's all about improvement of quality. Something to think about for sure.

Anyways, I'm excited to spend my birthday in Bristol and that I get to stay here with Sister Burr! We are having the time of our lives! We made a music video the other day, I wish I could email it but it's too big to send so you can just imagine how cool we are.

Have a great week, y'all! LOVE YA!

Sister Andrea Kate Merrell

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

God Speed Rudy!

Hey Hey Y'all!!!

Yesterday was the best P day that I've had here in Bristol! We convinced most of our district to go biking on the creeper trail in Abingdon, Virginia! We biked about 8 miles and stopped and played football for a while and then we biked back to where we rented out bikes. It was so much fun!

This week we have seen so many miracles! Seriously Bristol is the perfect place to be a missionary right now! I can't remember if I've talked about all of the referrals that we've received; the stake set up a booth at a fair and handed out surveys asking if people were interested in learning more about the gospel. We received about 40 referrals! Crazy huh? So we've been trying to track all of these people down. On Tuesday, Sister Brown came with me on exchange and we went to go contact some of these humans. We met Brandon and we taught him the restoration! He is awesome, he prayed to have the guidance to find truth in the Book of Mormon at the close of the lesson it was so cool!

We went to go teach Bobby this last week as well. We had prepared a lesson on the Word of Wisdom but when we showed up Bobby had invited his brother David to join us for the lesson and had already talked a little bit about the restoration with him and they also had watched the "Prophet of the Restoration" DVD together. We were able to teach the restoration to David and Bobby was a great asset to the lesson! It was so cool! They both came to church on Sunday and seemed to enjoy themselves. Bobby is already a missionary! So cool!

We also have started teaching Debbie! She is the mother of Sister Wood in the ward who has recently moved in with them from Washington. She is one of the sweetest people that I have ever met. She has been coming to church but we didn't want to be too pushy since she is still getting settled. When we had dinner at the Wood's house the other night we taught the restoration to her and her grandkids and the spirit prompted us to invite her to take the lessons. She accepted and we have an appointment with her this week! We're so excited!

Last week I talked about Brother Rudy Craft, who came out with us on a team up to see Bobby. He wasn't at Sacrament meeting on Sunday so his family knew something wasn't right. He passed away on at his home Saturday evening. He was so awesome and I am so happy I was able to get to know him. Isn't that awesome though that when he didn't show up for church that was when everyone knew something was wrong? He was so committed and converted to the gospel that he did everything he could to follow Christ. The last thing he did on Saturday before he died was go out with the Elders to contact referrals. On judgement day, God will definitely give him a fist bump, that's for sure.

I'm still enjoying my study of the book Jesus the Christ. To anyone who hasn't read it, READ IT. And if you get stuck on the first few chapters just skip them and bounce around, that's what I did and it is so great. This week I read James E. Talmage's explanation of Matt 18:23-35These verses talk about a parable of a king forgiving servant #1 of his huge unreasonable debt but then the servant #1 not forgiving his servant (servant #2) of his significantly smaller debt. Servant #1 was brought to the king to beg for mercy and forgiveness. We are often brought to our knees to ask God for help, mercy, and forgiveness; we are brought by our trials. As we have these experiences and feel the healing power of God's mercy, we should be more inclined to let go of things we hold against others. When servant #2 is brought to us with debt, we should love them as God loves us and forgive them of their weaknesses. After all, aren't we all weak? I LOVE JESUS THE CHRIST, Y'ALL SHOULD READ IT!

Transfers are on September 10th, so this Saturday we will find out what's happening! I have no idea what's going to happen, I don't know if President will keep people in areas for shorter amounts of time than President Irion did. We'll see!!! I hope I stay! I love it here!!

I have a new motto, well I guess I have just put my attitude into words and made myself a new lil' inspirational quote thing hahaha here it is: "There's a time and a place to be excited to go home, and that time and place is on the plane on the way there. Today is the time to be excited to be a full-time missionary!!" But for real. Being a missionary is exciting because we get to facilitate miracles through the power of the spirit!

Ummm It's my birthday on September 14 so that's be tight! 21 Forever!!!!!!!!!!! I love you humanz! Stay awesome and have a great week!


Sister Andrea Kate Merrell