Saturday, February 4, 2017

Week 75 - January 9, 2017

From: Sister Lori Kotter <>
Sent: Sunday, January 8, 2017 7:50 AM
To: Lauri Merrill
Subject: Elder Merrill

Dear Sister Merrill,

I had the opportunity to be in Mallilipot Branch for church this morning.  I just wanted to let you know that your son is doing great.  Although he still does not have power, he is adapting well to missionary life without the conveniences they are used to.  President and I did deliver rechargeable solar lights so that they will have better light than candles provide.  More than half our mission is still without power, and it is hard to say when it will be restored.  We are grateful for the resiliency of the missionaries and the members alike.

We have heard that there may be a couple of internet cafes that will open tomorrow by use of generator.  If so, Elder Merrill will be able to email home.  If that doesn’t happen, I wanted you to know that he looked good and tells me he has even gotten used to sleeping without the fan at night!   Have a great Sabbath Day.


Sister Lori Kotter

From: Jordan Mark Merrill <>
Sent: Sunday, January 8, 2017 10:45 PM
To: Lauri Merrill
Subject: "Rain came down, floods came up"

Day #16 Still no power... Hey guys:) Ya I’m alive, don’t worry anymore. ;) But for these past 3 weeks where I haven’t been able to email it doesn’t feel like that long, but it is ha-ha. We finally found a city nearby with a little power and an open computer shop. :) ​I have A LOT to write about and NOT a lot of time. So where do I start? Maybe I’ll give a little insight on our Branch Christmas party that was planned, postponed, and then we finally had it. Short and simple our Christmas party we had planned was postponed because of the typhoon, but the day it was supposed to be held, the sky was never clearer so we were disappointed but then we ended up having it the 29th and it all went well. :) As for my Christmas, it was one I’ll never forget. The news and warning we had been receiving was basically brace yourself and good luck, but we looked at the sky and were like... pff. We woke up to a clear, clear sky and got ready for our Christmas day sacrament and headed over to the church. Only a few attended, about 30, which seemed ok because a lot of the families were home preparing their houses. It was only sacrament and we started late so it was just a short and simple thing but me and my comp got to show off our new sweaters. :) After that we went over to a very kind member which let us use their laptops. Elder Casingal’s plan was for his Skype that day so I figured I might as well too. So after some long brown outs and waiting we finally got in a call. :) Short and simple but a lot of the missionaries didn’t get to call that night. During the call was about the time the rain came down and the floods came up. I can’t remember the time but the power went out after we finished the call and we figured after this time it’s not coming back on, and we were right, bye bye electricity. Right as we said good bye and thanks, we got hit. We had to basically trudge our way through the streets to get back to our apartment and it felt just like the action movies where they’re running and can barely do it, at one point a piece of plastic bag out of nowhere slapped my face. So we finally get back into our apartment totally soaked and were like yessss, now we can just relax and enjoy the storm in safety… we were wrong. As soon as we opened the door, water was leaking out and we’re like crap. The wind of the storm was facing the exact spot of our 2 windows and 1 broken door. So I’m glad to say that in my mission we had an apartment with an indoor pool. :) That basically explains it. We were up until about 2:00 fighting a losing battle against the craziest storm I’ve seen. BUT we tamed the beast and controlled the flow of the entering water using our pillows, towels, and our pots and pans. After we cleaned up our destroyed house we were on about 12% energy. The way our building is set up is we have like a tunnel shaped walkway leading to the 2nd set of people and that acted like a wind tunnel, we couldn’t even stand up it was so strong. When we look outside our front window all we saw were huge pieces of stuff flying passed. (I could write a book on this story so don’t think what your reading is all that happened ha-ha.) At one point our 2 story cement building was shaking! But after a long night we got a couple hours of wet sleep. MERRY CHRISTMAS :) Then that next morning was our P-day. We woke up a bit early and walked outside and the sky was clear and very pink. It was weird actually? Then that’s when we realized the damage. From the pictures I took, that tells like .1 percent of what we saw. And like I said I could write all day but we'll just wait until I get home. :) For that next week, zero work, all cleaning and repairing. One family of 6, a recent convert family, was totally buried by fallen trees but luckily for us some of the trees were Pilinut trees so we got a nice stock of them. :) Last Monday we decided to visit the famous Mayon rest house which is like a volcano exhibit and has a theatre and all this cool stuff but when we got to it, it was closed and destroyed. We were bummed. :( So until this day, people are still cleaning. There’s a term here called "washed-out" it basically means your entire house gets washed out. The main frame is gone and just about everything you own is gone or wet. Ha, I just remembered that morning after the hit, one of our little pass-along cards was stuck to the outside of our apartment on the second floor! Like how did you get there? Anyway, it was a Christmas I’ll never forget. The eye of the typhoon first hit Cats island, signal 4, then went to signal 3 where it hit Tiwi, Tabaco, then us in Malilipot. Other parts of our mission barely got rain and not even one brown out then there’s this part where after 3 weeks we’ve been reading our scriptures under candle light (which actually kind of invites the spirit). It’s a weird feeling not having electricity, you never know how much you depend on it until it’s been gone for 3 weeks but in a way it’s fun:) Our whole day is changed and it’s an excellent way to OYM (open your mouth) it a good conversation starter so the work hasn’t stopped. In a way its progressed through service. Service is a great relationship builder btw. 
Hmmm. Maybe I should talk a little bit more about how our actual missionary work is. Well, Elder Casingal and I were supposed to go another transfer together but we got called and were told that my district is going to have a little comp swap deal so now I’m with Elder Palacios. He’s been here in the mission 5 months and I’m his 3rd comp, he’s my 10th. He’s a good guy. :) He came from an area close to Tiwi and their entire meeting house is wala (gone) so he’s happy he now has an actual church here. We have been teaching a part member - actually his family have been members for a long time but he had not one care for the church or missionaries. One-time last transfer, after many failed attempts, we invited him to let us talk with him, with a sigh he’s like fine come in, we’re like uhhhhh sweet! He had no background of the church and drank beer and coffee. Now… in my eyes, he’s considered our Golden investigator. He reads the BOM every day, he reads and learns the lessons before we even teach them. Yesterday our plan was to teach him the WOW and when we started he interrupted and told us he has already read about it and has quit everything. He’s been clean for about 2 weeks and has no desire to continue. His baptism day was planned for Jan. 14 but because of the typhoon we moved it to the 21st and he was bummed because he already told his return missionary daughter who lives in another city to come to his baptism but he said its ok for the 21st and she will come to it. The change in this man’s life in the past month is crazy. He’s reading, praying, and attending church. One time during a lesson I said something that he caught and was like wait I thought Jacob was his son and I was like.... crap ha your right!! So he’s correcting my teaching!!! Which I’m ok with. :) His youngest daughter sometimes texts us saying she’s seeing her dad praying and reading. It’s the best feeling. :) Well I’m pretty sure I missed about 90% of what has happened so far in the past 3 weeks but those will be stories to tell when I’m home. :) Just so you know, yes I was a little scared during the storm. Only a little!! The next one I’m not worried about nothing! If ya'll got any question/concerns, hit me up and I’m happy to answer. :) Oh btw, earlier today I saw a dead person on the side of the road. Yes, he was dead not just sleeping. 
So! Don’t forget your new year’s goals :) always strive to perfect them. What I’ve learned is once you didn’t accomplish a goal it doesn’t mean stop trying, it means try harder! If you miss a day don’t say well darn I guess, I missed it I’ll just stop now. It’s all good! Keep going. :) Read your scriptures, pray always, and magsisi palagi. Love ya'll!
**Elder Merrill**

PS Ha-ha, that is cool you got a letter from Sister Kotter!!! That’s awesome:) ya, she walked in our chapel with President and we were like .. hey! She’s the best:) and I just told her I got used to it but in reality I haven’t had a night of normal sleep in weeks. 
Here is our barber shop, or whats left of it..
fallen poles with our chapel in the background
We took a little walk around and saw lakes where houses used to be a house on top of a boat.
even our chapel (evacuation center) took a hit

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