Sunday, March 29, 2015

Called To Serve

Hello hello!!

This weekend was especially amazing.

I was able to attend stake conference for the Cumberland stake because Catherine was speaking. I just wanted to share a bit about the things she said. She talked about how her parents raised her to know that she had a Savior and as life continued on, at a summer camp that she attended each year, she came to know Christ not only as her Savior but as her friend and her companion. She went on to describe how her friendships with a couple of her close friends, that happened to be Mormon, prompted more to learn more about the restored gospel. She began to search for truth and was reading the Book of Mormon. She felt peace and comfort as she read but she struggled to know if it was true. She met with sister missionaries to solidify her search, and as she brought up her concern the sisters read to her this scripture with her name inserted:

"He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of Catherine; for he loveth Catherine, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw Catherine unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation."

After reading this scripture, she knew the Book of Mormon was true.

Hearing Catherine's talk took me back to when I had a powerful experience in the beginning of my spiritual enlightenment. Throwing it back to the year 2009, I was a junior in high school. I had just been dumped by my long time boyfriend, and I was devastated. As a 15 year old girl my self-worth was majorly dependant upon what this boy thought of me. I was overcome with sadness and I had no idea what I could do to bring joy back into my life (dramatic right? hahaha). There was a seminary teacher at school Brother S'ua, and I felt like I should talk to him-- I didn't even know the guy! But I went to him and he didn't even hesitate to invite me into his office. We sat down and we began to flip through the pages of the Book of Mormon-- we read a few scriptures and one of them particularly stuck out to me because he inserted my name into it. He gave me a list of the scriptures that we had read over. That evening, I studied the scriptures on my own. I reread the following:

"He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of Andrea; for he loveth Andrea, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw Andrea unto him. Wherefore he commandeth non that they shall not partake of his salvation."

I knelt in prayer beside my bed and I prayed out loud personally for the first time in my life. As I prayed I poured out my feelings of pain and sadness to God. I felt the Saviors arms wrapped around me. I felt the Spirit tell me that I am a daughter of God of infinite worth. Through this scripture I came to know that Jesus Christ is not only the Savior of the world, but He is the Savior of MY world-- even my silly dramatic teenager first world-problem world. He is there to comfort me, strengthen me, encourage me and to help me over come sin. This is how I came to know the Book of Mormon is true.

The Book of Mormon is the word of God-- and that means that we can come to know God, His love for us, and how we can return that love to Him from within this book's pages. It's true, I know it. And this knowledge has led me to and through so many miraculous experiences, especially during my time as a missionary.

Catherine received her mission call this week to the Utah Salt Lake City South Mission-- Spanish speaking. 2 Nephi 26:24 is the scripture I chose to put on my mission plaque. I have a hunch that she'll choose it too.

Love y'all,

Sister Merrell


How y'all doin??

Okay so this week was pretty awesome. I got to hold this parrot named mango, his owner wasn't interested in learning more about the restored gospel but he let me hold his bird despite my slight terror. I'm overcoming fears all over the place, I'm tellin ya! But I still won't hold one of our investigator's giant scorpion, that's just too much haha. Anyways the parrot wasn't really what made this week awesome.

Brian got baptized! It was awesome, the ward all contributed and it was a great experience! Brian was late to sacrament meeting for his confirmation. We couldn't get a hold of him either, so we were terrified! But then after the sacrament he and Lakenzie walked in and we got down to business and he received the gift of the holy ghost. He and Lakenzie keep us on our toes, that's for sure. Love them!

This week we met with one of our investigators, Christina. She lives in the projects--yep I thought I had left projects forever when I left Chattanooga, but lucky for me I still get the adventure. Anyways the first time we met we taught her the restoration and her mom was there was pretty argumentative and get this, Christina was standing up for the things we were teaching her! Cool huh? So this week we went over and read the Book of Mormon with her this last time and she really understood the purpose of gaining a testimony of it. At the end of the lesson she prayed to know it was true. It was awesome to see her humility. She is a sweet heart.

I've been thinking a lot about Doctrine and Covenants 123:17 this week:

"Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed."

Okay so a lot of you know this about me, I'm a planner. I like to plan things in advance-- like for instance at home I'd plan my birthday celebrations in July or August just to guarantee perfect preparation for September 14th haha. But here in the mission you really see the things right in front of you that aren't in your control, and it requires a ton a patience! Something I'm probably not known for.. I can't control people's reactions to the things we are teaching. I can't control if Brian shows up to sacrament meeting on time or if Sister Johnson puts liquid dish washing soap in the dishwasher and suds get all over the floor (haha love her). In these instances I definitely have the option to not be patient, but in order to stand still, to see the arm of God, I must CHEERFULLY do all things that lie in MY power. I have to learn to be patient with the actions of other people-- and to do it cheerfully! That word makes a huge difference!

Love y'all! Have a splendid week!

Sister Merrell

Monday, March 9, 2015

It's a Hard Knox Life... But Not Really

Hola Familia!

Brian is all set for his baptism this weekend! We're so excited! His wife, Lakenzie got baptized a couple of weeks ago and she was sick this weekend so she didn't come to church. But Brian came on his own so that was really cool!

Last week at church, David an elderly retired dentist showed up for church. He ended up bearing his testimony and he talked about how impressed he was with the church. It was his first time attending. Well after sacrament meeting basically everyone pounced on him. We got his info and we were sad because we thought he lived in the elders area... but luckily we thought wrong! We taught him the restoration this week and he accepted it! The spirit was really strong and we could just tell he had sincere desire. He called us this morning and cancelled our appointment with him for tomorrow. He said that he wasn't putting enough effort in right now to continue researching. I WAS DEVASTATED... for about two seconds and then I decided that we'll call him next week and invite him to church. Some people call me persistent. This guy has the potential to be golden, we're not letting him fall through the cracks!

I have some awesome news. Remember my recent convert Catherine? She put in her mission papers this week. I was over joyed. Also she's coming to the stake center today to spend p-day with us! And on top of that she's speaking at Cumberland stake conference in a couple of weeks and president said I could go! There's a lot to look forward to right now!

I have been thinking a lot about a part of Moroni 8:16 this week: "and I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear." I wrote it on the top of my mirror in my bathroom because it's something I want to ponder each day. Do I care what other people think more than I care what God thinks? When I love God and I understand His perfect love for me, I have no need to fear of others opinions. If people don't appreciate the message that we have to share, it's okay because Heavenly Father is proud of what I'm doing right now. What kind of fear do you need God's perfect love to cast out?

Love all of you!

Sister Merrell

(Sorry, no picture this week because I got a black eye when I got in a bar fight... jk that's a lie hahaa)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Holla From Knox Town!

Hey y'all!

I am so excited to be here in Knoxville, Tennessee serving in the Knoxville 1st ward with Sister Johnson for my last transfer! She is from Seattle, Washington. She is 25 years old and she has been on her mission 4.5 months. I'm absolutely loving it here! Our apartment is a mansion, we have a car, and we have so many willing and able members to help the work progress!

So things really are rolling here, on Saturday night we were able to set a baptismal date with our investigator Brian for March 14th. Brian's wife Lakenzie got baptized last weekend. They both had Mormon friends growing up, which led them to look up the church online, which led them to come to church, which led them to both decide to be baptized! This is evidence of the power of a righteous example, that's for sure!

I've been really thinking about Ether 12:27 lately:

 "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give‍ unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace‍ is sufficient for allmen that humble‍ themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak‍ things become strong untothem."

Oh my goodness, I have so many weaknesses and as I have come unto Christ I've had to bring them with me; and He made sure to show them to me! It hurts to have weakness! I don't want to be weak! I don't want anyone to see my flaws, especially the Savior. But He is the first one to see them, and when I go to Him he shows me how to rely on Him. I can't put on a face for Him, because he knows who I really am; so I need to be someone who is humble, I have to let him teach me. He shows me how I can lean on Him in my weakness for strength. That's hard for someone with a lot of pride I'm telling ya first handed! But yes, I make mistakes that only the Savior can console me about and only He can help me change. I'm grateful that Christ still loves me even though I'm weak. I grateful that he loves me enough to help me be strong.

Love y'all,

Sister Andrea Merrell

Oh, P.S. I held a snake last night and I didn't even vomit!