Faith and a First Week

August 14, 2017

Hello all! This week has really been an eye opener. It was Elder Merrill’s first full week in the field, and we have been doing a lot lately. This area and ward have a lot of work to do, and so we are having a fun time prioritizing and trying to find as much as we can.

Monday was great! It was Elder Merrill’s first Preparation Day! We went on a hike with the STLs and the Lynn Elders and it reminded me of Arizona a little bit. Lots of rocks to climb on, shrubbery everywhere, pretty good views, greenery everywhere. It was a lot of fun, and at the end, there was a pond that was untouched. The water was still, and even though there was a lot of dirt and silt at the bottom, it was very clear. We even saw a turtle swimming around at the bottom and watched it for a little bit. It was a lot more exciting than it sounds. That evening, we had planned to go to Woburn to do stop bys, but after dinner, we didn’t have a lot of time. We felt, not quite a huge prompting, that we could go by one of our investigators, Bob, who is close by, so we did. He wasn’t there, but his neighbor was. She is Vietnamese and was always nearby or outside when we talked to Bob. As we talked to her through broken English, she pointed at someone coming closer on a bike. He pulled around and then stopped right in front of us. It turns out that he was a friend of hers and that he comes by a lot. His name is Fulvio and he said that he lives in Salem, but travels to Peabody most days by bike. As we talked through his pretty good english, Elder Merrill suggested that we call the Spanish Elders and have him talk to them. He kept saying ‘Cordoba’, and we thought that he meant a church somewhere as well. Elder Curzon answered and they had a brief exchange, but it didn’t go far. We hung up and talked to them for about another minute and then headed out. As we were pulling out to leave, Elder Curzon sent us a text,”Go back and get his contact information, or whatever you can get!” Semi-confused but determined we went back. We had a good conversation with him and ended up getting almost everything you can get about a person minus their info and being their friend on Facebook. Eldre Curzon told us later that it when he talked to him on the phone, he mentioned Cordoba and that he had met missionaries there, but just hadn’t been baptized. Elder Curzon wasn’t sure if it was the Mormon Missionaries, but his friend is currently serving in Cordoba, Argentina, which he found interesting. After we hung up, he had a strong impression that this man was important. He didn’t know what to do for a moment, but sent us that text. He started praying afterwards, and right as he ended his prayer, he got a text from us that we had gotten his information. The cool part of it all is that they had a dinner scheduled that night, but Elder Melendez, his companion, was sick that night, so they ended up staying in. Because they were home, Elder Curzon was able to take the call, and he had his friend serving in Argentina. If they had gone to the dinner, they wouldn’t have really been able to answer or have the experience that we had. The Lord is really watching over us!! After Fulvio, we stopped by one more potential. Their daughter just happened to be outside and we were able to talk to her for a few minutes. Her dad ended up coming out and we were able to set up a return appointment with them. Even though we didn’t have a lot of time and it seemed like our time could have been wasted, the Lord worked with what we had and made miracles happen.

Tuesday was a great day! Sister Bain was baptized about 3 or 4 years ago and had an amazing conversion story. She had a friend in Arizona that she would visit every year. She went to church and they would talk about the church a lot, and one year after she came back, the missionaries showed up on her doorstep. She always had question for them and they didn’t get to teach a ton because she was always wondering about something. She is rock solid and even through a lot of health difficulties, and not even having hips, she still makes it to church multiple times a month. We had a great visit with her centering on Faith. We talked about what faith is, how we grow it, it’s application, and she shared a lot of insights that she has had over her time in AA. She has been part of AA for over 35 years and often leads groups and discussions locally. Many principles from AA really stem from gospel teachings without even realizing it, which is why AA works so well. We showed her one of the Addiction Recovery videos that the church has put together and you could just see how much she connected with the man in the video. Brother Stokes, her home teacher and fellowshipper during her investigating process, also came and shared lots of insights from his 40+ years of church service. It was an uplifting meeting and it really set the tone for the day. In the evening, we had our missionary correlation meeting with Brother Horta, our ward mission leader, and Brother Madsen, who is actually from New Mexico, but currently he is here with his wife for work and they are ward missionaries. It was Elder Merrill’s first Ward Correlation in the field, and we got a lot done. Evan, Justin’s cousin, has started to investigate the church and really wants to be baptized, so we identified ways to help him over the next few weeks as well as making plans to move forward with a lot of our other investigators. It was a great time, and it fulfilled the old saying,”It takes one really good meeting to beat no meeting!”

Wednesday we did a lot of stop bys in Woburn and we were able to see a lot of less actives. In the morning, it was a little slower. We didn’t feel too good since we were falling behind (cease to be idle!), but as we went out, I said a prayer that the Lord would make a great day out of it. Our first visit was to a less active family in Woburn. They weren’t there, but a very nice older woman was. She was from Poland, but she was friends of the family for a long time and often stays with them. Her religious beliefs are the most interesting I have ever seen. She is half Jewish and half Catholic. She even has a necklace that has the Star of David on one side and a cross on the other. She said that she celebrates Jewish holidays and Catholic holidays, and that is just how she grew up. You learn something new every day! Even though she wasn’t interested, we talked to her for a good half an hour and she was very kind to us. We also helped out with a move in the evening. The family moving in, the Lee family, is from Korea and he actually served his mission here in the Massachusetts Boston Mission around 2006-2007 and actually served in Woburn when it was part of the Arlington Ward. Crazy!!
Thursday was with Gustavo! We served at the Salem Farmer’s Market, which was a lot of fun, and Gustavo actually unloaded 75% of a big truck full of fresh produce by himself. His back didn’t feel too good after that, but he had some laughs about it. We talked later while we were changing at Dunkin’ Donuts about how people are just drawn to us because we are missionaries. We don’t do anything out of the ordinary, but people in general and just their gazes always come to us in some way. You never know the extent of your influence. We got to teach Justin about the Priesthood with Gustavo and he bore testimony about how the priesthood has changed his life. He has had some special experiences and he has really grown and developed and has a sense of determination to learn everything about the gospel, just like Sergio. We then talked to Evan about baptism and confirmation. He can’t wait to get baptized, just like Justin. He keeps looking better and better too on Sundays. Last Sunday, he wore a t-shirt and shorts, and this week he had on a button down shirt that matched his t-shirt that he was wearing and he had a new haircut. He doesn’t understand a lot about the gospel, but just like anyone, it is changing him from the inside out.

Friday was District Meeting! We focused on Repentance, as we are going through the Gospel of Jesus Christ this transfer. This week was focused on building our faith, and this upcoming week, starting today, we will focus on repenting and sharing our testimonies of it with others. It was a great discussion on the power of repentance, but also how hope and repentance dovetail (thanks for the word, Mom!). Preach My Gospel helps to shine some light on the topic. We focused on the fact that in order to repent, you have to have hope in the fact that you can actually be forgiven. You have to have hope in the Savior and in a brighter tomorrow. Repentance truly is the path for us to progress daily. It may be a difficult path, but it is the only one that leads to a brighter tomorrow. In the first Addiction Recovery video, he says that he thought that he could try to just stop doing bad things and skip the confession process, but that just isn’t how it works. The joy that we feel afterwards is so much better though. Is it better to be in the muck but stop playing in it or is it better to scrub all of it off of our skin and then be completely clean afterwards? The answer is clear, and though it hurts, the hope, faith and joy that come as it’s consequence are indescribable. The rest of the day, we spent planning. It was hard, but we did our best to be as efficient as possible. One question that has been on my mind for a long time is,”When you fall behind, do you stay behind and work to catch up or do you sacrifice and try to start new from where you are?” Elder Merrill responded that it often depends on the situation, but at this point, we needed to start from where we were and catch up. Our area book was good, but it needed some work. We needed to talk about the 12 week program and our plan for it, and we also needed to talk about how we were going to work together in different aspects of our proselyting. Overall, it really helped our companionship, and we feel a lot of stress off of our shoulders. Sometimes you just have to sit down and hit the bottom of everything before you can keep going, kind of like when you are really tired. Power naps are very nice, by the way.

Saturday was crazy. We had planned to do a lot of stop bys, but they kind of went all over the place. In the morning, we did some computer work, and while we were there, the Zion Report, or the mission monthly newsletter, came out, and in the first section, President and Sister Miller talked about the faith to find, and I determined that I was going to actually USE my faith that day and act on promptings, no matter how crazy. One of those was to talk to the guy next to us. It was quite short, but we talked with him about how he was sort of Christian and even though it didn’t run his life, it was important to him. He also said that we might be able to have a conversation with him sometime if we run into him again. In the parking lot, we decided to follow another prompting to talk to the guy in front of our car, and he read our tags and said,”Latter day Saints? You guys are into family history, like FamilySearch, right?” Turns out, he is a big family history buff and we were able to give him the address to the church, which he remembered that he had actually been to for family history stuff. At the gas station, the guy across the pump was wearing a rock climbing shirt, and Elder Merrill loves rock climbing. Even though we didn’t mention the church too much, he had climbed in Utah, so he recognized us. They talked for a bit, and it was just a fun conversation. We went and tried to see Bob, our very old, but very Renaissance man, investigator. We didn’t end up seeing him, but the next door neighbor was there, and so was Fulvio! He had just happened to be there that day and we got to talk to him for a bit. Earlier in the week, we had been driving in Salem, and Fulvio was biking the opposite direction into Salem for work, and we rolled down our window to say hi, and he waved back to us!! We are pretty sure he has some serious potential. After seeing Fulvio, we went down the street to Yensy. She was the woman that we had an FHE with a few weeks ago with Brother LaPierre.

Friday was District Meeting! We focused on Repentance, as we are going through the Gospel of Jesus Christ this transfer. This week was focused on building our faith, and this upcoming week, starting today, we will focus on repenting and sharing our testimonies of it with others. It was a great discussion on the power of repentance, but also how hope and repentance dovetail (thanks for the word, Mom!). Preach My Gospel helps to shine some light on the topic. We focused on the fact that in order to repent, you have to have hope in the fact that you can actually be forgiven. You have to have hope in the Savior and in a brighter tomorrow. Repentance truly is the path for us to progress daily. It may be a difficult path, but it is the only one that leads to a brighter tomorrow. In the first Addiction Recovery video, he says that he thought that he could try to just stop doing bad things and skip the confession process, but that just isn’t how it works. The joy that we feel afterwards is so much better though. Is it better to be in the muck but stop playing in it or is it better to scrub all of it off of our skin and then be completely clean afterwards? The answer is clear, and though it hurts, the hope, faith and joy that come as it’s consequence are indescribable. The rest of the day, we spent planning. It was hard, but we did our best to be as efficient as possible. One question that has been on my mind for a long time is,”When you fall behind, do you stay behind and work to catch up or do you sacrifice and try to start new from where you are?” Elder Merrill responded that it often depends on the situation, but at this point, we needed to start from where we were and catch up. Our area book was good, but it needed some work. We needed to talk about the 12 week program and our plan for it, and we also needed to talk about how we were going to work together in different aspects of our proselyting. Overall, it really helped our companionship, and we feel a lot of stress off of our shoulders. Sometimes you just have to sit down and hit the bottom of everything before you can keep going, kind of like when you are really tired. Power naps are very nice, by the way.

Saturday was crazy. We had planned to do a lot of stop bys, but they kind of went all over the place. In the morning, we did some computer work, and while we were there, the Zion Report, or the mission monthly newsletter, came out, and in the first section, President and Sister Miller talked about the faith to find, and I determined that I was going to actually USE my faith that day and act on promptings, no matter how crazy. One of those was to talk to the guy next to us. It was quite short, but we talked about how he was sort of Christian and even though it didn’t run his life, it was important to him. He also said that we might be able to have a conversation with him sometime if we run into him again. In the parking lot, we decided to follow another prompting to talk to the guy in front of our car, and he read our tags and said,”Latter day Saints? You guys are into family history, like FamilySearch, right?” Turns out, he is a big family history buff and we were able to give him the address to the church, which he remembered that he had actually been to for family history stuff. At the gas station, the guy across the pump was wearing a rock climbing shirt, and Elder Merrill loves rock climbing. Even though we didn’t mention the church too much, he had climbed in Utah, so he recognized us. They talked for a bit, and it was just a fun conversation. We went to see Bob, our very old, but very Renaissance man, investigator. We didn’t end up seeing him, but the next door neighbor was there, and so was Fulvio! He had just happened to be there that day and we got to talk to him for a bit. Earlier in the week, we had been driving in Salem, and Fulvio was biking the opposite direction into Salem for work, and we rolled down our window to say hi, and he waved back to us!! We are pretty sure he has some serious potential. After seeing Fulvio, we went down the street to Yensy. She was the woman that we had an FHE with a few weeks ago with Brother LaPierre….

The rest of the day was totally guided by the spirit in a crazy but amazing way.  I am out of time and I wish I could tell you all about it, but just know that the Lord is in charge of His work!  I love you all!
(***Mom note:  I totally hope he wrote this part in his journal because I really wanted to know what happened!!!  Leaving me hanging!***)
– Elder Davis
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Elder Davis, Justin, Evan and Elder Merrill at church…..Evan looks like he could be Elder Merrill’s little brother, don’t you think????
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Elder Davis’ reading materials
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Elder Davis’ desk in Peabody, MA
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Relishing some piano practice in the chapel before district meeting…..a rare treat for Elder Davis
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Elder Davis and Elder Merrill volunteering at the Farmers Market.  They unload trucks and get compensated for their help with fruit!  YUM!  This photo reminds me of Matthew and his brother, Spencer together….the resemblance is a little uncanny to me!
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Silly Elder Davis…..Hanging from the barrel of a Patton Tank in front of an elementary school!
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Funny boys — enjoying climbing, perching and hanging on the tank
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Elder Merrill hanging out on the barrel

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Elder Merrill is perched!
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Elder Merrill on the top
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Dairy Witch Ice Cream after touring the Salem Witch Museum and Eder Merrill looking like Spencer again in this photo…..
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Elder Davis at the Salem Witch Museum
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Elder Davis and Elder Merrill at the Salem Witch Museum
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Elder Merrill at the Salem Witch Museum
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Elder Merrill and Elder Davis saluting on the barrel….latter-day warriors!
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Look at this great zone of Elders!

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