Sunday, January 25, 2015

Laugh it Up, Chuckles!

Nah it’s a joke. My comp, Elder Monteza, received the call that he was leaving and that I was going to stay for another transfer.

They told me that I was going to be getting a newer Elder that is from Utah whose mom is from Peru.  I just can’t get enough of those Peruanos.  He is named Elder Senzig.  He is a bulkier guy. My height. Sings opera. And it seems like we are gonna get along just perfectly.

We got a new fridge this week:)

We also knew that it was going to be our last week together so we cleaned out all of the trash together and the next morning we were going to finish it off.  That night out of nowhere a huge thunderstorm came and blew all of the trash everywhere.  All those times toilet papering karma finally came around and bit me right in the bum.

I told my comp to go into the store and buy a little dulce de leche.  The cheapest one.  So he went in and pointed to one.  And I signed to him I don’t know... and then the next and I replied the same.  He did that with all of them and I gave him the same sign. I finally got tired and told him to come and change me to guard the backpacks.  I was trying to signal to him to come over but he didn’t understand.  Inbetween us 2 there was the line for the checkout.  And in that line there was a little grandma waiting with all of her stuff.  I started to signal to my companion and then I saw her start signaling back.  Pointing to herself and then looking around and then pointing to herself again.

I didn’t want to yell in the grocery store so I tried signaling to her that I wasn’t talking to her and then my companion thought that I was signaling to him saying no to what he was doing and then he started signaling to me asking what he should do and I tried answering him by waving my arms and the grandma thought that I was talking to her again....
.... Finally after waving my arms in the air and several attempts to fix things I just realized that it is never going to work and I just will have to enter.... much more complicated than buying a little jar of jam should be.

We have an investigator who some of the women in the family are getting sick and having some pain in the back.  My comp, being very superstitious, told me that it was an epidemic and that a huge disease was going to spread from here.  I knew that it wasn’t the truth but he started freaking me out, saying "Don’t drink the water. You will get the virus..." And then she offered us water and I looked in and there were some little floaties.
I skeptically put the glass up to my lips and pretended to drink with pure fear running through my veins thinking that I’m gonna be the first case of the new disease that infects the whole world.  But then I realized who was telling me a story and drank it down.

We also had a fly swarm enter into the house and a bunch of spiders with them.  Before the mission I completely hated spiders with every living fiber of my body.  But when I saw them catching the little flies and then wrapping them up and eating them I thought "man... spiders are actually pretty cool.”

So after receiving changes my comp started packing up.  He had a lot of stuff so he was packing into the wee hours of the morning.  As crazy as it may seem I couldn’t sleep there was so much ruckus.  So I was up at 1 in the morning cleaning the pension in my undies.  And then out of nowhere somebody starting banging on the doors.  It freaked me out and I almost touched the ceiling I jumped so high. 
I thought "There are robbers and they are going to rob us."
Then "No it’s somebody who is in trouble and needs help."
To "Maybe they are trying to escape from some thugs"
So I was about to open up the door like a victim escaping my persecutors and then I realized "Hey wait... I’m in my undies... I can’t go out like that...  But wait... by the time I get changed it could be too late..."
So I threw open the door... and... it was a family of members who live behind us and saw that we were still up and wanted to play a very very funny joke. While they were laughing at me in my skinnies, I thought to myself "Real funny guys. Laugh it up, Chuckles, and wait for the sweet taste of vengeance."

Later at 4 a.m., I went downstairs to take a bathroom break, without my glasses, after my companion was finally asleep.  As I was going downstairs, I suddenly saw a little boy about Asher’s height, dressed all in white, looking at the wall, just standing there, not moving, not making a noise... just standing there. I stopped as ice rushed through my veins.  I felt my stomach drop to my feet.  I didn’t want to move or make a noise for fear of him looking at me. So I stood there too, in silence, not moving or breathing—just standing still.  After about a minute I moved closer to get a clearer view of him and I squinted my eyes.  And realized that it was just a fan.

This week we had church and after a week of working hard and being in the sun the whole week we had a killer attendance of 10 people.  I was so dang disappointed we had worked so hard the whole week and then in the end, everybody that we invited didn’t come.  I felt like I had worked so hard and it all just went down the drain.  So I went to go bless the sacrament and while I was reading the words, a scripture in Mosiah 5:13 came to my mind:
For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?

And then it all made sense in my mind.  Sometimes we have to suffer a little bit so that we can understand a part of what Christ felt.  In that moment I asked for help from Him so that I could keep on going forward.  I felt a happiness and peace that renewed my energy and made me want to go out and find everybody that is ready to hear what we are sharing.

I know that God listens to us.  He helps us when we need it.  And sometimes we just have to pass a rocky path to learn to overcome it.

I love you all and I am praying for you every day.  Have a great week and I will talk to you all soon. 


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Years!

It was a strange week this week.

To start off we got home from our time in Ezeiza from the Fiestas.  And I opened up the fridge and I realized that I had left 2 liters of milk opened up and now it was just curdled up and I had to dump it out.  I didn’t know where so I just went outside and dumped it all in the plants.  Nobody will ever know.

I started talking to a guy in the street and he looked at me, and answered my companion.  I asked something else and then he looked at me and then answered my companion again. For the next 25 minutes I tried squeezing in a word and he would only answer my companion.  

I had a DVD in my hand and I was joking around with some other missionaries saying "I’m gonna break it. I’m gonna break it." And then another Elder came out of nowhere and said “Can I break it?” And I thought he was joking so I said “Ya sure” and then he karate chopped it like he would break 5 planks of wood.  I looked in horror as I saw the DVD and then the face of the owner and then the DVD again thinking “Wait, what just happened?”

Since we only have 15 members here in Monte and 7 of them are on vacations, we didn’t have anybody to pass New Years with. So Silvana and Noel invited us to Ezeiza again so that we could pass it there.  So Elder Silva, Wilson, Monteza, and I went to Ezaza and passed the night making fire for the BBQ (asado), playing cards, singing, playing soccer, etc. And then we got home at night and watched the fireworks and I did the exact same thing that I did last year in the same spot—jump and do a 360 and almost fall.  First person of 2015 to jump in a circle and almost fall. I’m so cool.

We woke up the next day, played a little game with milk that I will explain life.

I watched a cute little dog bite a chair, my fingers, my shoes, my laces, a rag, a cat, and everything that he saw while the owner was telling us about how playing cards are from the devil.

In the beginning it was a bit rough but little by little I realized that I had a lot to learn from my companion.  I know that God has put me with Elder Monteza for a reason.  We didn’t always get along perfectly but I did learn a lot from him—a lot that I needed to learn to be happier in the mission and in the future.  Like it says in Doctrine and Covenants 122:6-7 
If thou art accused with all manner of false accusations; if thine enemies fall upon thee; 
And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

God put me here for a reason. And for that I am grateful.

Love, Elder Merkley

Temples and Christmas

Favorite line of the week "sorry about my grandchildren... they are like those savage Indians."

We were tired of sleeping for 3 hours every time that we have to travel on the bus so this week we got up in front of like 30 people and talked loudly so that they could all hear us and we gave out flyers and cards.  We found some sweet people so we started doing it every time that we have gone by train or bus.

Speaking of buses.  We went to Canuelas and we barely missed the first bus so we had to wait for 2 hours and then the 2nd one was running late and they told us that we have a lot of time so we went to grab something for my companion to eat and while we were there the second bus just flew by so we had to wait for another 2 hours.... great...

While we were eating we had 20 pesos (like 2 dollars) to buy us both lunch so getting real creative we went and bought the cheapest juice and 2 pounds of bread.  Nothing says good lunch like bread dipped in tang.

Also while we were waiting we have a bus driver friend named Osmar and he told us if we have to use ties every day he finished using his tie for the year in his work so he just gave me a free tie.  What a great guy.

I saw a rainbow

We went and taught a super sweet lesson with another member to a menos activo and then they both went with us to go teach #ifyoucantbeatemjoinem

It rained on us even though there weren’t clouds 

We were walking super fast and my comp said... " I think I’m gonna puke"
and I said "Sure..." and kept on walking. Then I heard it hit the cement.

We had to Go to Acevedo because on the 20th I was going to the TEMPLE!  So I went with my old companion Elder Varela to do splits.  We ended up going to a member’s house, Nico and Graciela, who were super sad and we gave a sweet lesson about how God can help us.

The other Elders ordered some pizza but I wasn’t that hungry so I didn’t eat it at night.
The next morning I woke up and ate some good ole pizza and then we went to the temple to go see the Family Ormeno and Alberto from my first area sealed together.

There were so many dang people that when we went there were 2 spots left and there were 3 of us; Elder Varela, Alberto, and I... So of course I drew the short stick and for 2 and a half hours I had to wait outside.

Then to make things worse the pizza came back for revenge and started killing my stomach forcing me to run to the bathroom several times to take everything that I had in my body out.  BEST TEMPLE TRIP EVER!

Then after that the whole family didn’t show up to get sealed for like 2 more hours so we were a little bit behind but the sealing was super sweet and happy for them.  So all of the sickness was definitely worth the pain.
I was so happy to see them there together—the whole family.  It was just a great day.

I also finished the Bible for the first time on Johnny’s birthday.

We booked it to Monte forgetting half of our stuff where we stayed and then we had a ward Navidad activity.  It wasn’t the best but it was super funny cause the little kids did almost all of it.

I called you guys this week. We got lost getting there. I had a nice chat with the Rubio family that I came to know in Ezeiza, who let use use their computer on Christmas and stuffed me like a pig that they were going to slow roast.  

We had a Christmas party with Noel and Silvana in Ezeiza with 4 other missionaries and their family.  We played cards, ate, looked at fireworks, watched Tomas (the 4 year old brother) open Presents and got home and slept. I ate a huge breakfast of Granola, milk, jam, German pancakes, syrup, smoothie, and ice cream... all mixed in one bowl. 

We got home and went to go teach a family and I started feeling super sick.   They gave me some stuff to take so that I would feel better.  I took them and then we walked outside, I leaned on the fence, and threw up so much... Haha I don’t know what happened.  They were all asking me "What did you eat today?"  Definitely not a bowl of Granola, milk, jam, German pancakes, syrup, smoothie, and ice cream.

We have been teaching a menos activo member since the first day that we got here and he would always say yep... I’m going to church this week or yep... I’m going to start reading today and then he would never do it.  So we taught him again this week and we had the most spiritual talk ever and we talked about his Patriarchal Blessing and he told us how he was going to go look for it in that moment and he was going to read it and go to church tomorrow.  Then the next day he didn’t come to church, but his wife did.  So we started talking to her a little about the Patriarchal Blessing and she told us that when she got home they would read it together....and then we didn’t hear anything from them again.

The next morning I heard the alarm and thought "no... it’s already morning..." and I hit the alarm... and then I heard "Andrew...?" 

When I heard my name in the pitch black I started getting freaked out cause I know that it wasn’t the voice of my companion.

As quick as a bolt, I shot up and looked around the room and nobody was there but I heard my name again. I looked over to my left and the dim glow of the phone.  I can’t see anything without my glasses, but being night time I was blinder than a bat without sonar or whatever the heck bats use to see. But as I held the cellphone an inch away from my nose I could make out the name "Mario Leiva."

I started talking to him and he told me that they read his Patriarchal Blessing together and that starting in this moment everything is going to change. And they started saying thanks for all of the work that we do and things like that. And I think that they invited us to eat at their house the next day  

Dazed and confused, I hung up the phone and my companion mumbled "Who called and what time is it?"  I looked at the phone "Mario Leiva and 1 in the morning."

At 6 in the morning we woke up, wrote, worked out, ate some breakfast, and then when we were just about to leave we started talking about the phone call that we had received and neither one of us were sure that it was real.

So we called the Hermano and asked him.  He told us that he read his Blessing and that he was so happy to have it and that he was going to change from that day on. 

It was one of the most satisfying things to hear on my mission.  But even more satisfying is when yesterday he came to the Church for the second Sunday in a row. God puts us where he needs us in the moment that he needs us.

Like it says Ezekiel 34:11

 11 ¶For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.
 12 As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.

It is so interesting to see how God guides us day by day and the great things that happen if we just try our best to listen to him.  He guides us to those who need us, so be looking.  have a great week and Be safe

Elder Andrew Huber Merkley

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Suck it up, Soldier!


Alright well... this week my comp and I were having a little heated discussion--(jk it wasn’t that heated, just really hot outside... and kind of heated)--and his bike broke.  So he flipped it over to put the chain on and his helmet fell off.  

So he fixed his bike and then we talked for a bit more and when we were leaving he picked up his helmet and I saw that it was dripping.  I looked over to the right and saw a black dog with his eyes full of guilt.  I told my companero to stop and check if it was pee.  The results came in positive.

I saw my first humming bird here:)

We have a plum tree that makes it rain plums. Sometimes when I am collecting them, I sing "its raining men" but I replace men with plums.  The other day parakeets were eating all of our plums so I ran out side and threw a plum at them.

I saw a girl biking with high heels this week.  I looked at her and thought  "if Its hard to walk on high heels, she’s gotta be a keeper"

We were teaching a lesson and little caterpillars kept on falling on us from the trees.  The people were all freaking out saying that they are poisonous and they burn your skin if you touch them.  One touched my companions arm and he started saying "oh... it burns... it burns..."  I just thought to myself ‘suck it up soldier.’

3 days after we went back and the caterpillars were waiting for us.  They were kinda like the ice cubes at the bottom of your glass and then when you hit it, they all attack at the same time. (All credit to Dmitri Martin.) I sat down and out of nowhere like 4 were on my shirt.  I flicked them all off and then I put my arm down and felt somebody stab my arm.  I looked down and there was a little black caterpillar that was stuck in my arm.  I started saying "holy crap that burns... oh man that burns..." then the parts that it touched got hot and swollen and white.  Then the words "Now I know how my companion feels" came to my mind.  And then I thought, "Shut up conscience"

After that lesson that we had we asked the woman if she could pray for us.  We taught her how to do it.  Then she said "Padre Celestial...." and then everything was quiet... for one minute... then for 2 then 3 minutes rolled around. 4...5...6... in pure silence.  Then I thought to myself "alright this is getting out of hand. Is anybody praying here?" So I peeked and said... "Amen?" and they all said amen.

We had intercambios with some elders from an area called Speggazzini.  All 4 of us stayed in our area and did some work.  We had to go farther so my companion and one of them went by foot out to the boonies.  At 9 pm we finished our lesson and it started to drizzle and there was a lot of lightning so we booked it home.  We called the other elders and we couldn’t hear them and then out of nowhere it just started pouring rain.  It poured and poured and poured--kinda like a shower turned on all the way. Then my companion walked in—like a lake monster.

We tried teaching some 10 year old kids and I felt like I would have had more success teaching a dog than I did with them.  Lesson learned: If I have the choice of teaching 10 year olds or a dog... go with the dog.

We also had a Christmas conference this week where we just had a bunch of asado (BBQ kind of) and then we had to put on a play about the Scrooge and the missionaries taught him about why we celebrate Christmas. And who had to be the missionary? If you guessed elder Merkley you would be right.

After that we went to Canuelas cause our area is so far and we had a sleepover there.  I don’t know why but they are always so fun.  I guess that after being with somebody for 24 hours a day 7 days a week, its just kinda nice to talk to somebody new and hear new stories.

The next day we went to a house where the floor had been sinking for like 10 years, to the point where there is almost a hole in the floor in the center.  The family had a priestess come and look at it and she said that there was somebody dead under there and in Argentina you never know. I didn’t believe it, but my companion was getting freaked out and adding to their imagination even saying "yep... there is somebody dead..."  I just looked at him with a good ol glare to the soul telling him to cut it out. So we went and blessed the house and then somebody started screaming and climbing up the wall and we had to lock her in the room until...

Na just kidding I just wanted to spice it up a bit. We just blessed it and got the heck outta there.

Also this week nobody bought bread for the Sacrament so what did we do?  Use some crackers that we found.  During the prayer it was my turn to say it for the bread.  When I got to the part where I have to say, "Bless the bread,” I didn’t know what to say…bread or crackers? Bread or crackers?  I had a 50/50 shot.  So after 5 seconds I thought "this isn’t bread... they are crackers..." so I went with "and bless these crackers for all the..."   Did I have to do that blessing again? Yep but its a good thing that I blessed the crackers too.

This week we had quite a bit of people tell us that they didn’t want to listen to us at all or accept us.  This is normal.  Nothing to see folks but I was reading this morning and I found this scripture.

 Rev3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

There are so many people that have no clue what we are sharing and they don’t even know how happy it can make them.  But until they open the door we cant do anything.
It is the same with all of us.  The days that I am not reading the scriptures, I have doubts.  The days that I do I feel a difference.  God gives us the scriptures so that we can know for ourselves the truth and what decisions we should take in our lives, but we will never know until we take the decision to open up the door and experiment with his words.  We will never know if God lives if we never look for him. So that is what I invite you all to do in this Christmas season, open up the door.
I love you all and have a great week

Love, Elder Merkley