Monday, December 26, 2016

Hello friends and family I hope you are all doing well! It was really great to be able to Skype with my family yesterday. We were able to do a 3 way Skype with my family at home, my Sister who is serving in Belgium/Netherlands, and I. It was so great to see them and talk with them. I love them so much. Family is seriously so important. Family has always been very important to me but its became even more important since I have been out on the mission. It was very hard to hang up when I had to go and Christmas night and this monday morning was hard on me. Just really missing home and my family. This is how my Christmas went. So the missionaries from Kitale (another city that is like 1 hour and 30 min. away) they came to celebrate Christmas here in Eldoret with us and the senior couple missionaries that are here. Elder Mwanziu, Otieno, and Jameson all went to church with the Pehrsons at 9. It was combined sacrament meeting and I blessed the sacrament which I continue to do on the mission. Both branches that meet at the chapel combined for 1 meeting so their was Sosiani and Eldoret branch there. We had some really good Christmas talks and singing the hymns was very hard, I got to the point where I couldnt even sing the words because I'd cry. Just because I miss my family and remembering all that the Saviour did for me and for all that he has given me and blessed me with as well. I know that the church is true and that God is real and his son Jesus is real. I am forever grateful for them and the gospel. After church Elder Jameson, Wilson and I walked to our flat and the Pehrsons. (we live in the same compound) We just talked and shared stories together as we waited for the other missionaries to show up. We had some really good African food at 3 for brunch and some fruit juice that we blended up. We then just talked, played card games, and shared memories and experiences and some people called home and some Skyped home. It was nice to see all the Elders and spend Christmas with them. Everyone that was there goes like this: Elder Wilson, Angila, Rasmussen, Jack, Call, Wambua, Otieno, Jameson, Le Cheminant, Tucker, Mwanziu, Merz and Sister Ndonga and Matata. I Skyped home at 7 my time here and then afterwards we had a little fire and we got some sweets from Sister Msane. (mission presidents wife) It was really nice and I am again just so grateful to have been able to see and talk to my family. It has been hard since then so just keep me in your prayers this next week. Last week it was really hard to meet with people because a lot of people go up-country to their native tribes, or they just werent available. We did have some lessons though which were really good and we have 2 baptisms planned for the 8th of January! We also helped our Branch President paint his living room in his house which was fun and we got to meet with a few recent converts and less actives which was really nice! I love the missionary work here and really have grown to rely on the Lord to help me get through the hard times. Id love to share with you someone on of the missionaries shared with me here. "Whose hands?" A basketball in my hands is worth about $19. A basketball in Michael Jordan's hands is worth about $33 million. It depends whose hands it's in. A baseball in my hands is worth about $6. A baseball in Mark McGwire's hands is worth $19 million. It depends whose hands it's in. A tennis racket is not very useful in my hands. A tennis racket in Andy Murray's hands is a Wimbledon championship. It depends whose hands it's in. A rod in my hands will keep away a wild animal. A rod in Moses' hands will part the mighty sea. It depends whose hands it's in. A sling shot in my hands is a kid's toy. A sling shot in David's hands is a mighty weapon. It depends whose hands it's in. Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in my hands is a couple of fish sandwiches. Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in God's hands will feed thousands. It depends whose hands it's in. Nails in my hands might produce a birdhouse. Nails in Jesus Christ's hands will produce salvation for the entire world. It depends whose hands it's in. As you see now it depends whose hands it's in. So put your worries, your fears, your dreams, your families and your relationships in God's hands because--It depends whose hands it's in. My life as a missionary needs to be in God's plan. He is the one that called me here to Kenya and has helped me through everything so far. He has helped me be strengthened and feel of his love as will as my families love at home. I am so grateful to know that my life as well as all of our lives are in such good hands. He has an eternal perspective and puts things or takes things from our life for a reason. We need to always remember and strive to have our lives in the hands of God. He loves us more than we can even imagine, I mean he sent his only begotten son to die for us so that we may return to live with him one day. I love the gospel. And I love my Saviour and Heavenly Father so much. They have and continue to help me and bless me as a missionary. I just invite all of you to continue to remember him and put your life in the hands of God. He sees and knows the whole picture even if we don't. Everyone have a very good New Years. And my family, I love you so very much and wish words could truly express that. You mean the most to me and I think about you and pray for you everyday. All my very souls love, Elder Merz

Monday, December 19, 2016

So lemme first start with the funny and crazy moments of the last 2 weeks. So this week Elder Mwanziu and I were walking in town and there was this low hanging like broken sign post thing and boom and walked right into it and smacked my head pretty hard on it and then we just walked to a memebers house and she fixed me up and stopped the bleeding haha! I also got a haircut recently and the guy that gave us the price said it was 100 shilling. Then after the guy cut my hair he thought it was gonna be like 300, so long story short he told me to never go back hahaha. I also met this guy from Leeds, England that was way cool to talk to him! Hes 19 so he was young too haha! One night I guess that when we were going to sleep I like passed out super quick and while Elder Mwanziu was going to sleep i guess I talked in my sleep. He said I was like talking to my friends and said something about spiders and it happened for like a minute! We were both dying when he told me hahaha I was like what the heck! Now for the more serious part. The real email. This one will be more special and close to my heart since this is my last email before Christmas. These are some things that I will miss this Christmas. Not all of them and not in order, but things I will miss this Christmas season. I will miss helping Grandpa Fred put up his Christmas lights. Putting up the Christmas lights at my house and getting help from the best little brother, Spencer. I will miss driving around and seeing Christmas trees in windows and houses all over the place. The Christmas books and Christmas music. I will miss walking or driving around and seeing others lights, especially when there is snow. I will miss the night snow storms and the silence that occurs when it snows at night and waking up and being shocked at all the snow. I will miss going to temple square and seeing all the lights. I will miss driving on State Street in Murray and seeing the christmas decoration that they put on each light pole. I will miss coco. I remember {and will miss} going to the Night Before Christmas street with my amazing Mom and brother. I will miss shoveling snow in shorts and a T shirt and scraping the ice off the car windows. I will miss that feeling of driving frozen and slowly being thawed out while the car warms up, which The Beast took forever to do. I will miss the Santas ringing bells outside the supermarkets. I will miss the love that families and neighbours have for each other. I will miss the 25 days of Christmas movies and watching Christmas movies with a nice warm fire. I will miss the Christmas eve pajamas and setting out the milk and cookies. I will miss the love and joy in my families eyes on Christmas morning as we open presents together and burn the wrapping paper in the fire. I will miss wrapping gifts even though I am the worlds worst gift wrapper. I will miss having my grandparents come over on Christmas to give us there gifts and share Christmas day with them. I will miss going over to Grandma Merz's and helping her decorate her house and tree for Christmas with all of my family and cousins on my Merz side. I will lastly on the list that I have. I will miss going over to Grandma and Grandpa Nelsons on Christmas Eve. Seeing Grandmas perfect tree and having the whole family down there to celebrate and be together. Having a quick dinner and then seeing the different families perform a talent or two and just everyone laughing and loving each other. Hearing the Fisihetaus sing that C is for the Christchild song and just setting in our hearts the love our Saviour has for us. Then Grandma and the little grandkids singing happy birthday twice to Jesus and then one of my favorite things. Is to have one of the Fisihetaus play a soft christmas song on the guitar as Grandpa reads from Luke 2 the birth of Jesus Christ. That is something I will miss alot and one of my favourite things during Christmas and Christmas Eve. Then the white elephant gifts and exchanging of gifts and again everyone dying because of the gifts. Then we all go warm up our cars and each go home. As you might be able to see I have a lot to miss from my favourite season. This Christmas being on the misson and missing all of that and even more will be very hard when I think about everything including all of the many things I did not mention it breaks my heart an my soul is saddened. But even though I wont be able to celebrate Christmas this year with my family or friends and even strangers I will not be alone. My Saviour, the very reason for Christmas will be with me to hold me up and strengthen me. To be able to remember him like I never have before in my life, to truly remember him and all that he has done for me personally. And to have the opportunity to bring others to him and remember him it is something else for sure. To remember the one who has blessed me with so much and given me so much to miss from my amazing life at home. I cannot express how truly grateful I am or him and for everything he has given me and blessed me with. To be able to have his name on my chest. I am so lucky and honored to have half of my name his. CHRISTian. I will forever get the opportunity to have his name be with me and what a name I carry. I am so grateful for this Christmas season and the chance for everyone to remember him. I wish that I could wish each one of you personally a Merry Christmas, so this is it. Merry Christmas!! Remember why Christmas is even a holiday and what the new born baby in Bethlehem did for each of us. I love the Christmas season and all that it brings and for me to be able to truly remember him and give thanks to him. To everyone who sees this and reads this have a very Merry Christmas. Remember our Saviour and remember his example. Bless others Christmas season and be loving and kind to everyone that you see and talk to. Be safe and enjoy Christmas with your loved ones! All my Christmas season love, Elder Merz P.S. - Hope you like my Charlie Brown Christmas tree haha

Monday, December 12, 2016

This week was really well. I got to confirm Philip a member of our church and being able to do that was just so spiritual and amazing. I feel like he is someone I was friends with before we came to earth. He is seriously just so nice and loving! We have 3 new investigators and they are all very good! We currently have 6 or 8 people with baptism dates and some of them are working on their marriage certificates which is awesome!! We have the best investigators and I love to be able to talk with them, build that trust, and then be able to show them and explain to them how the gospel can and will bless their lives! It really is something different and amazing! I love it! I really love the members here and how welcoming they are to the missionaries. We get invited over for dinner like 3-4 times a week and even the Eldoret branch invites us over for dinner so we get like double! The people here are so amazing I cant even begin to describe it. They have so little bit give so much and love everything that they have! They dont take anything for granted in my eyes! Here it doesnt really feel that much like Christmas because not many people have Christmas lights {like no one} and no one has decorations. Its also not cold like I am used to so it just doesnt feel like Christmas. But I will tell you that I am so lucky and honored to be able to be a missionary during Christmas and be able to help others remember our saviour! This email will be a little bit short but I will make a longer one next week! Thank you all for the emails and I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and dont take for granted this season. I will tell you all of my favorite things about Christmas next week. But while you have time make sure to spend this time with family and friends and even strangers. Show someone some extra love and build someone up! I love you all so much and again grateful for all of you and for the friends and family I have. I truly have the best friends and family anyone could ask for! Again please forgive me for the short email this week! Enjoy the snow for my fellow Utahners and everyone be safe! Lots of Christmas love, Elder Merz

Monday, December 5, 2016

Its crazy that it's already December! I have some news and fun stuff to share for this week! So we have power outages pretty frequently here and we had one the other night and let me just talk about power outages. They are fun. You have to scramble around to find light and all the luxuries you are used to, most of them don't work which is a good thing! You get to connect with the people around you. No TVs, no microwaves or toasters, nothing! I wish phones (smart phones) also didnt work because that would make it much better. So its good to be able to just talk to those around you and get to know them better! I like power outages! Not too long ones but they are fun! Especially at night! Id like to give a quick shoutout to Ephraim and Kerri for going out on the mission! They will be great missionaries and am thankful for there willingness to serve and for the friendship they have given me! This week we got to meet with more members and we and 3 dinner appointments which is always the best because they make the most delicious food! We also got to meet with some less actives, recent converts and had a lot of memeber present lessons! One of the people who helped us out the most his name is Peter. He is a Return Missionary and is married and has a little baby. He helped us a lot and his so nice and caring! Well he went to Mombasa for a year for work. I find that different from home. People will go somewhere for work for a year like that and its completley normal. They also go on holiday for like a month or two months at a time. I was like whaaaaat!? When people at home go on holiday it is for a few days or like 2 weeks at most not 2 months!! We also got a branch mission leader and his name is Anthony. He is 20 and super awesome as well! He is totally okay to work with us all day long! We asked him if he was thinking about going on a mission and the first time he was like "ehhh". But now he is working on his papers or just about to which is awesome! He would be a really really good missionary! Phillip also got baptized on Sunday! Elder Mwanziu baptized him and it was such a wonderful spiritual experience again. He is sooooo ready and has the strongest testimony and just has the greatest love for the saviour and for the church. He is always looking to serve and always has a smile on his face. He could make anyone smile when they are having a bad day I swear! He is so amazing and it is an honor to have been a missionary for him and to help bring him to the gospel and to the true church! On Sunday we had 9 investigators at church!! It was incredible and I am so lucky and blessed! Something we talked about in Priesthood was from the November Liahona magazine. It was a story from General Conference and it was the one of the missionaries in Peru and how one of the Elders almost died and prayed super hard to live and be saved and he was. Well one thing that we talked about and that hit me was how when we are in trouble, sticky situations, or need help immediately is when we truly pray. And what I mean by truly pray is, when we are in those situations we are sincere, we are specific and are truly praying not just saying everyday prayers. We are expressing the thoughts and desires of our heart and are asking for help to a direct problem or situation. So realizing this I invite everyone who prays to honestly try to be more sincere and specific in praying. Be open and honest with our Father in Heaven and give him thanks for the blessings you have received and for all that he has given you. I know that as you do this you will begin to feel better about praying and that you will be able to recognize the hand of the lord more in your life! For anyone who doesn't pray I invite you to pray. Its not hard, there is no judgement from it, and going to our Heavenly Father for help, to feel peace, to be lifted up, for anything. Go to him and be honest and remember to be patient and he will help you! :) I am so grateful for the experiences I have had so far on the mission and for December. December is the perfect month to bring Christ to people. To help them remember the true meaning of Christmas and to remember all that he has done for us! I will never forget what he has done for me and am grateful for this time to bring people unto him! I love him. I love my Saviour and I know that he loves and knows each and every one of us personally!! Weekly funny moments: So lemme just say I am sure I sat next to Whoopi Goldberg in a Tuk-Tuk the other day. So that in itself is crazy as well as funny I was laughing!! And just imagine this. Think how far I am from Utah. Now think how Utah State University isn't a big college. Well here they sell lots of shirts in little shops on the road. SOMEHOW there was a U State Aggie shirt! I was like WHAT THE!!! HOW IS THAT HERE!?!? One day this week as we were walking to the church we passed by 4 buff white guys! I was like HEYYYY!!! haha its just so weird to see white people and it made me laugh and they were super nice! I think they stay at the Boma Inn here in Eldoret which is right by where we stay! Talking about white people I also saw a family of like 6 at a hotel in downtown Eldoret. I again just laughed and we all made eye contact. There was 2 teen girls and when we made eye contact I just laughed at there faces. When they saw me I swear they were like :"What the heck. Why is there a white person here?". Like they are wondering just as I am wondering what a white person is doing in Eldoret! Not Mombasa or Niarobi but tiny little Eldoret in the middle of Kenya! Now 2 quick funny ones. So we were at a members house and they were watching some movie and someone flipped someone else off. I then proceeded to turn to Elder Mwanziu and go "Is flipping off offensive here?" little innocent and unknowing me. He starts busting up laughing and dying and I start laughing too and am like what? I'm being serious! He turns to me and says "Well its not a greeting" and then we both just died laughing and yeah it was so great hahaha! The second one goes like this. So we had a District activity on Saturday before transfers. Sister Alinyo is going home and Elder Ombaka and Waranga got transferred so we did an activity. We went to this pretty campground and explored, played football, ate, played games it was way fun! There is also a river and we played by it for like an hour. Some of the Elders said there is one of the tribes that lives on the other side of the river and they have been warned by the police to stay on that side of the river. Well Elder Call, Waranga and I stayed to play by the river a bit longer. Then we look up and there is 3 of the tribe men looking at us on the other side of this shallow 20 ft. wide river. They were dressed in animal skins and had white painted faces and legs and arms with black paint over the white in tribe ways. Well we kinda got freaked out and scared. So we started walking away fast and then they starting shooting little arrows and rocks and sticks at us! I was like whaaaaaat is going on!? It was scary but also super super funny and cool!! :D Thats it for this week but I am so thankful for the emails I got and I guess I get to see who my true friends are and who misses me or thinks about me on the mission by the emails. I know a lot do and some cant and yeah but I'm just like Okay i see you. Hahaha I dont even know what I am saying. Just that I love to get emails and pictures from friends and family, it really helps me! I love you all and am so grateful for all of you! Be safe and know that I am doing okay! Lots of Christmas season love, Elder Merz

Friday, December 2, 2016

What a week it has been! We do this thing called street boarding here. Its where all the missionaries in a District hand out pamphlets to people walking by and we gave out 90 in less than an hour! We also got 3 new investigators from it! We were able to have Thanksgiving with the Pehrsons (the senior couple here) and we got to explain to the African Elders why we celebrate Thanksgiving and it was nice to slow down and think about it. I am so thankful for all of my friends and family and the unforgettable experiences and memories we have had. Those truly mean more to me than you will ever know. I am so lucky to have the friends and family I have. I am also thankful for the gospel and the church. Many people think it is not true or that we are a cult or whatever. But the truth is if it wasn't true I wouldn't be out here. As a missionary I gave up and sacrificed sooo much. A lot more than a lot of you know. So I am grateful for the amazing gospel and the experiences I have had thus far on the mission! The work is going good and the word is true! I invite all the remember our Saviour this Christmas time and to help others! I love the spirit that comes with Christmas and it will be sad to not be able to share it and experience it at home but what an opportunity I have laid in front of me to share it to the people here in Kenya! We have another baptism on Sunday for Brother Philip. He is so nice and loving and ready to join the church! He is one of the nicest people I have met here and am so grateful to be a little part in his life! Elder Mwanziu and I went to this members place in Iten. It is super pretty there and they have an overlook of the Rift Valley which we went to and I will show you! It was a crazy ride out their considering there was 24 adults in the Matatu and I was in the back...and the windows didn't open hahaha. Oh yes and it was an hour away! What an adventure! Then on the ride back we got in a nicer one and we weren't squished at all! We also had exchanges this week and it went really well! I was with Elder Le Cheminant who is from Canada! Me and him get along really well and the exchanges went good! Its good to be able to see how other missionaries do things. But at the same time it is so hard because you are so used to and comfortable with your companion that when you split up things seem wrong. Its weird how that happens. We also had some big rain storms here and funny enough we had to buy a heater! You guys are probably thinking what on earth!? Who in their right mind would buy a HEATER in AFRICA! You open the door and their is your heater! Well yes that is the day time. But at night and in the mornings it is cold and is hard to escape from my comfortable blanket and start the day Some random things are that we saw this BRAND new Black Range Rover! I was just staring at it until I could no longer see it anymore and I was just like daaaang that is beautiful! Then like 5 minutes after the Subaru WRX STI drove by us and stopped at a stop sign and then he floored it and boosted like crazy! It was super fast and I was just like ahhhh man i miss the cars from home! Me and Elder Le Cheminant were also talking about F1 and how sadly Mercedes will probably win it again and how news on the street is that Nico Rosberg will win it this year. Funny moments of the week: So I have quite a few for this week. When we were handing out pamphlets this crazy lady came up to me (because I'm white) and starting singing and dancing in some African language that isn't Swahili and the Kenyans walking by were just laughing because I had NO clue what was going on. Then she stopped and put out her hand, I was like oh here we go. Then one guy said that she is from the tribe Turkana up north and he said that she has now "worked" for me by singing and dancing and I now need to pay her. I said I had no money for her but she insisted and then the nice guy gave her 10 bab. Another funny moment is we met our investigator Naftals family. He is a piki-piki driver and he was giving us a ride back to the church and he was like "Merz do you like the rain" I said yes and then like 5 seconds later it started raining. Like real rain, not Utah rain like dumping buckets of water. By the time we got to the church it looked like we jumped in a swimming pool but I was just laughing and enjoying it all! :) The last thing is when we got our heater I payed and then the guy at the till called the manager over I was a bit scared. Then the manager pulled me aside and was saying something about 500 kish (shillings). I asked him to explain it again and he said that at random people win free money and somehow I won! I was soooo surprised and shocked and excited at the same time! I got like a big check and he said we had to use it tonight. So we went back in and Elder Mwanziu and I decided to get a lot of yogurt. So we got like 6 yogurts that's are about double the size of the ones at home. I went to the same till and the guy said ahh you're back! Then he looked at all of the yogurt and at me and then back at the yogurt and I swear he was like "What is wrong with this guy? He just won 500 kish to spend on ANYTHING and he spends it ALL on yogurt. What an absolutely crazy white guy!!" I just started laughing so hard and just kept on going with it! It was so funny I wish you could have seen it!

Monday, November 21, 2016

So this week was another crazy one! Kenya never lets me down haha. So this week we went in a Matatu like an hour away to see this less active. When we got to the stage (where all the matatus line up and get passengers) a fight occurred over who was going to take me, it was weird!! It was out in the bush which was cool to see! Then we got a call, an emergency. So here their are no street lights, no stop lights or road signs, no speed limit, so pretty much no rules. The sisters were crossing the street and a bota-bota was overtaking a car and didn't see them and (motorbike) hit Sister Matata. Then the bota-bota like bounced off her and hit head on into a car so they were both taken to the hospital but thank goodness she is okay and so is the bike rider. So we rushed to the hospital and the Matatu that we hoped in had 23 people in it including us. Okay so these things are the size of a normal mini-van at home. So imagine 23 adults crammed into one, hahaha it was so fun and awesome!!! One of our investigators Philip wanted us to meet his family. We were doing community service but he came and helped us for the 2 hours that we did it and then took us to his place. Afterwards we were going to a members house and he wanted to come so we all hoped on a Matatu and he payed for all 3 of us and wouldn't let us pay him back. He is not rich by any means, but it really hit me hard the love that he has for us and how in his eyes we might have like a glow or something special about us. That really hit my feel goods deep down. Then on Sunday we had a baptism. My first one ever. Sister Beti is so amazing and has really changed since we first saw her. Everyone says that it is something that you cant describe and the spirit you feel is the same way. Well they were right, it was one of the best most joyous happy feelings I have ever had. Sadly I cannot describe it but just say that the church is true and the spirit is real. I am loving the mission and know I was called here to Kenya for a reason. It is so so good, and worth sacrificing all that I left behind. Thank you all for the letters and have a great thanksgiving! Be thankful Trump is your new leader. Just kidding haha. ;) Weekly laughable moment: Well the 23 people in a Matatu was pretty amusing as well as the fight over me. But another Matatu experience is here. So we were coming home one night and took a Matatu and there was traffic like downtown LA. We werent moving at all. And youd see Matatus just flying by on the shoulder of the road and on sidewalks and curbs and then our driver got the idea. So we went like off-roading and over HUGE curbs and rocks and we were like a billy goat on the side of a mountain. Except we were climbing though bushes and like a forest and through cars and just no care whatso ever. We also ran a bota-bota off of the sidewalk so we could drive on the sidewalk haha I was like wow this is incredible! Everyone was like honking and it was just crazy! Oh yeah and to add the cherry on top, it was raining. Not crazy but enough to make everything muddy and slippery. We almost got stuck going off the road and I'm pretty sure we gave some walkers a shower of mud. And the Matatu only had 1 windshield wiper that was SUUUPER slow and it was like trying to get water off with a stick, it was pointless but so fun! It was so funny to be bounching around in a loud matatu running people off the road and going off road in a van with 1 wiper hahahaha

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Alright so first things first we have a baptism next Sunday!!! Her name is Sister Beti and she is 27 and is super excited to join the church! :) We had our first zone conference this week and it went well! It was good to see some more white Elders as well as everyone else and make friends! That very night was well.....the us debate....yeah i found out that day who won and everyone from the US is like ahh crap. Hahaha its on their news stations, in the newspapers its everywhere which was really surprising to me! So good luck and I'll be better off here in Kenya haha. Mwanziu and I also gave talks on Sunday and I talked on how families can be together forever which I am so grateful for and which is a big thing for me. This week was good with the zone conference and we also got a few more investigators so now up to about 9 and 4 of them have baptism dates and are really progressing! We just had lots of good lessons this week and are really seeing how the gospel can change people lives! It really is amazing and so cool to see and experience!! We got to meet some more members this week as well as go to a farewell party for a sister here that leaves this week to go to the MTC then off to the Uganda mission. So somethings that are a little different here as follows. When you go to someones house whether it be an investagator and especially members they ALL feed you! And they make like the biggest amount of food possible. My companion eats more than me which is crazy because he is so much smaller than me and he just laughs at me for it! We went to the Sosiani branch Presidents house with everyone in our district and had dinner which was really good. And that night at their home with the experiences that we had I really felt at home, it was something I hadent felt yet since I was here. Its hard to describe but I just felt like I was home. It was really really good! We also got to meet with another member and she was telling us stories and one story made me laugh so hard. So I guess the temple in Nigeria people steal the angel Moroni from the top hahahaha! She said they like bring in a chopper and hook up to it and just take off with it, I was dying just imagining that happening. Like oh look they're back to take it agian and then seeing a chopper fly off with it and see it disappear into the distance. I would laugh so hard but its also not funny because temples are a house of the Lord and they are stealing from him which is never a smart idea but I was laughing so hard! Another thing the cars here are pretty much like Utah....well kind of. Matatu's, Tuk-Tuks, and bikes rule the roads but 75% of the normal cars are Subarus. They all have catback exhausts with UEL headers for that classic boxer rumble. Most of them are lowered as well on coilovers or just chopped springs. Mostly Forester XTs and WRXs. Sorry if you dont understand that just car talk haha. Its weird! Well im running a bit short on time this week so hopefully i will send a longer one next week! Weekly funny moment: So the stores here are playing Christmas music and "the song" came on. All I Want For Christmas Is You by Alicia Keys came on and i just starting singing it super loud and hitting all the high notes and everyone was looking at me like I was crazy hahaha. It reminded me of when Jackson and Spencer and I would go to Lagoon and blast that song as the worker just looked at us and laughed! It was so funny! Hahaha Thank you all again for the emails and cant wait to hear from you next week! Love you all and all is good here in Kenya! :) Love Elder Merz

Monday, November 7, 2016

So I want to say some things I didn't have time to say in the MTC. The first is that the flight from SLC to Atlanta and then to Joberg was looong! And in SLC when we were boarding the plane one of the guys said leave your bag by the door. I was like ha funny joke it's my carry on. Then he came and started to grab it and I was like wow what are you doing!? He said to grab anything i needed from it and then he took it and i put it under the plane. So from SLC to Joberg i had my passport, plane ticket, and a Sudoku book. For 21 hours of flying haha. And if you don't know missionaries aren't allowed to watch movies on the planes so that's all i had. I don't know why they put it under the plane because it is a carry on and would fit, but it happened to me and like 5 other Elders but they all had backpacks so i was like well this is nice hahaha. Also the last 3 nights in the MTC we had some rainstorms! And not just any rainstorms but some South Africa rainstorms! The lightning is sooo big and the thunder just commands everything! In the MTC there is a room with a glass roof and a like 15 Elders all went up there to watch the storms! It was so cool!! So now more about Kenya. Its getting hotter here but its not too bad. I apply my sun cream every 2 hours haha or I will cook. My companion just laughs every time I put it on. We went to a Pre-school graduation this last week and all the kids loved me and this other white Elder that serves in a surrounding area. We told them stories and made them laugh and they all wanted high fives it was awesome!! When we sat down this little little kid like a 2 year old came and just stood between my legs and had the cutest little brown eyes and he was so amazed to see a white person. He would run his little hand up my whole forearm and just feel my white skin haha it was so cute and the kids here love to see me! We have right now 7 investigators and they are all slowly progressing with one being baptized next week! Brother Kennedy the security guard at the church he wants to wait until December to be baptized so his wife can come and attend and he hopes she will join as well! On Sunday he even bore his testimony and sometime in the future probably around when he gets baptized I will tell you about how we met and yeah its just a crazy experience! Lots of people here when they see me say Mzungu. Which means white guy. Some of them say Mzungu and then some Swahili stuff after that I don't understand so I ask my companion and he like says a censored version I know it haha. The other day we went in the craziest part of the city. You could like barely walk there was so many people and I was the only Mzungu there. One guy said that and then started saying some mean stuff in English and if it weren't for my companion making me keep walking. Well I'd probably be on my way home for fighting. Haha no fights. He said to just ignore and keep walking and I did that the next day when it happened again and it worked. I told him I don't want to go to that street again though because its scary and crazy at the same time. But its also fun because its like a market street so people are selling random stuff and its all so cool! But not good for a Mzungu haha. Also everyday we walk like 15 miles in total i feel like. Its 3 to the church which we walk to every morning and then we have to walk 1-3 miles to get to members houses or investigators houses so its awesome! I like it honestly not lying! A little more about living here. I sleep in a mosquito net every night. Take a malaria pill every day. And we have to wash our clothes and dishes by hand. We don't get an oven, or dishwasher, or washer and dryer. So our clothes hang dry which is cool!! Its different but its fun! My future wife wherever she is, is lucky! Haha just kidding. Weekly funny moment: Oh my this moment was so funny in person I'm not sure if it will be as i type it but here we go. So if you don't yet know what a Tuk-Tuk looks like google it. There was a big dude and the driver in the front and an older lady and me and my companion in the back. We went and got gas and here they have someone fill it up for you. Well no one was filling us up so the driver got out and started to get into a fight with one of the guys and I was just laughing my butt off. Then the old lady started like yelling and my companion said she was encouraging our driver to beat him up. Eventually we left and we turned around on the side walk and then got stuck in this ditch and I was laughing so hard again because he we were sitting there for like 5 minutes as our driver tried to drive us out then like 10 people had to push us out. That's not all though. We then went on the most bumpy road in the history of roads, and mind you these Tuk-Tuks don't have springs so we were bouncing ALL over the Tuk-Tuk because our driver was just flooring it! Then we got to this big still incredibly bumpy hill and we got stuck again. But this time there was like 20 cars piled up behind us so me and Elder Mwanziu had to get out and push it and then we continued on the road bouncing around the cabin like it was going out of style. I was laughing so hard my body hurt hahahaha. It was the best thing ever!!! Thanks for all the emails and support! I love the emails and pictures! Keep sending them! Be safe and know you're all in my prayers! The pictures are 1st of my badge. Joburg from the MTC. Elder Brown and I. Elder Harrott (I have more and will send them later). I will send some more later! Mega amounts of love, Elder Merz

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Habari Zenu!! So im in Kenya now and its so much different here than home or even the MTC. So we woke up at 4:30 to go to the airport last Tuesday which was crazy because me and my old district stayed up till like 1 just laughing out butts off and spending the last time together that we can for 2 years! Elder Harrott got the South African Flu and i was worried id get it but luckly i didnt! Also one of the African elders at the MTC got the mumps which was really scary but everyone is okay! Before Elder Harrott and I got to the airport we "somehow" found out the score of the Manchester vs Burnley football game haha it was nill to nill though so not that exciting. haha I love football (not american football). We played it everyday in the MTC for our hour of sports time a day and it was super super fun! The kids that played football at home watch out i have some african football moves now! At the airport Elder Harrott and I got some really good breakfast and we met this girl from Australia in the line for the money exchange and she wanted a picture with me because she said that I am "The Real Life Book Of Mormon" haha so we took one it was super funny. Then we were on the same flight and when we got off and departed she wished me good luck and said id be a good "book of mormon teacher" haha. We got to Keyna in about 5 hours and we got off stayed at the mission home (which is flipping big) for 2 nights then said by the all the other elders and went off to our areas. It was hard to say bye to Elder Harrott but i know ill see him again someday! We took an 8 hour bus ride to Eldoret. Lemme tell you. The bus had NO air con and the windows didnt open so dont complain if your cars air con doesnt work haha. We arrived here and our flat wasent ready yet so we stayed with some other elders for 2 nights. My first Kenyan meal was Chapati and Ndengu which is both really good! The food here is different, very different but good and im learning how to cook it so when i get home i can make it for whoever wants some! Then we moved into out flat which was a relief because i can make it like home. Its my home for probably 12 weeks or more! My companion is Elder Mwanziu, hes from Nairobi and has been out for 4 months and served all 4 in Mombasa so i might be here for a while haha. Weve gotten along well and im super glad that hes my companion. So it says english is a national language here but no one speaks it soooo yeah im learning Swahili which is fun! The main form of transportation here is walking (which we do A LOT of). A Matatu which is like a small Ford Sprinter van but like the size of a mini van so a million of them drive up and down the streets honking a whistling for you to hop in there matatu. its so funny and crazy and 2 of them were getting in a fight because they wanted to take the white guy haha. They also have Tuk-Tuks which is like a scooter with a carriage on it that can hold i guess up to 5 people. Me and Elder Mwanziu got in one and i thought it would be just us but another guy hoped in and well its hard having broad shoulders in the Tuk-Tuk haha but i was laughing like the whole time. Wanna know what a shower is like here? Turn your shower to full cold and then hop in, thats how it is here haha Ive never taken faster showers. I also wake up to a rooster every morning so thats kinda cool but weird! Its super hard to adjust here especially when i wash my clothes by hand. But hey its a new experience and I love it! There is also a couple coming that is staying in out little compound. So its a house and then we're staying in the servants quarters but i heard the couple is from Utah and that means they'll treat us suuuper good especially since we'll see each other every day! Im super excited! Its also weird being one of like 3 white people here. Me, and 2 other Elders here but we are all in different areas so i dont see anyone. Everyone looks at me and stares and its kinda creepy and scary. Especially walking in town i feel like im gonna get mugged every time and my area is in the city haha. On Sunday we had 6 random investagators at church and 2 want to be baptized and we have dates already set up for them as we teach them the lessons. It'll be nice to get to know the branch a little bit more so I dont feel as homesick. Ive been feeling homesick since i got here so just rememeber me in your prayers please! I love it here though and am so glad to get to come here. With only 6 Elders in the 3rd or 4th biggest city in Kenya its crazy but makes me feel so special. And yes i stand out A LOT like everyone thought haha the whitest guy possible and the only one yes i do haha. Thanks so much for all the love and support and emails! I have more time to email now so email me! Hope all is well with everyone and that everyone is safe! Love the experience. Love the people. Love Yourself. Love God. PS- Happy Halloween to everyone! Enjoy one of my favorite holidays and be safe everyone! Eat some candy for me and enjoy it! Love, Elder Merz

Thursday, October 27, 2016

THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS KENYA NAIROBI MISSION Opposite African Wildlife Foundation, Ngong Road P.O. Box 46162 – 00100, Nairobi, Kenya +254 737 400 893 27 October 2016 Dear Family of Christian David Merz, We have welcomed Elder Merz, who has arrived safely in the Kenya Nairobi Mission. He is a choice young man and eager to be an excellent missionary. I was pleased to note the preparation, worthiness and commitment of your son to be obedient and to serve the Lord honourably. This is the first generation of church membership for the people in this mission in the huge and diverse continent of Africa, and I know that as he serves the people, he will learn to love them and they will love him. His testimony is strong, and I am honoured to have him serve in our mission. Elder Merz is laboring in Sosiani in the District of Eldoret, Kenya, with an excellent companion, Elder Mwanziu. Sister Msane and I will see him at least every four to six weeks at Zone and other Conferences, and I will have regular interviews with him. Excellent doctors and medical care are available here if health problems occur. We pledge to take good care of your son. This is a great mission and we know he will be successful. Mail to your missionary should be addressed to: (Your Missionary’s Name) Kenya Nairobi Mission, P. O. Box 46162-00100, Nairobi, Kenya I will encourage him to write home every week on Preparation Day, which is Monday, but mail is slow, so be patient. The Missionary Department has authorized e-mail to the family once a week if it is available to you. We are grateful for this added blessing. Telephone contacts and personal visits to missionaries by friends and relatives are inappropriate and contrary to long-standing Church policy. Full-time missionaries have made commitments to devote their full time and attention to proclaiming the Gospel, and any such contacts detract from their effectiveness. However, we do urge you to write to him weekly, either by e-mail or by postal mail. Thank you for teaching, nurturing and sending forth this fine young man, anxious to serve the Lord and to honor his family and other loved ones. May the Lord bless you with peace and assurance that all is in His hands. Sincerely, President Ephraim Msane Kenya Nairobi Mission
THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS KENYA NAIROBI MISSION Opposite African Wildlife Foundation, Ngong Road P.O. Box 46162 – 00100, Nairobi, Kenya +254 737 400 893 27 October 2016 Dear Family of Christian David Merz, We have welcomed Elder Merz, who has arrived safely in the Kenya Nairobi Mission. He is a choice young man and eager to be an excellent missionary. I was pleased to note the preparation, worthiness and commitment of your son to be obedient and to serve the Lord honourably. This is the first generation of church membership for the people in this mission in the huge and diverse continent of Africa, and I know that as he serves the people, he will learn to love them and they will love him. His testimony is strong, and I am honoured to have him serve in our mission. Elder Merz is laboring in Sosiani in the District of Eldoret, Kenya, with an excellent companion, Elder Mwanziu. Sister Msane and I will see him at least every four to six weeks at Zone and other Conferences, and I will have regular interviews with him. Excellent doctors and medical care are available here if health problems occur. We pledge to take good care of your son. This is a great mission and we know he will be successful. Mail to your missionary should be addressed to: (Your Missionary’s Name) Kenya Nairobi Mission, P. O. Box 46162-00100, Nairobi, Kenya I will encourage him to write home every week on Preparation Day, which is Monday, but mail is slow, so be patient. The Missionary Department has authorized e-mail to the family once a week if it is available to you. We are grateful for this added blessing. Telephone contacts and personal visits to missionaries by friends and relatives are inappropriate and contrary to long-standing Church policy. Full-time missionaries have made commitments to devote their full time and attention to proclaiming the Gospel, and any such contacts detract from their effectiveness. However, we do urge you to write to him weekly, either by e-mail or by postal mail. Thank you for teaching, nurturing and sending forth this fine young man, anxious to serve the Lord and to honor his family and other loved ones. May the Lord bless you with peace and assurance that all is in His hands. Sincerely, President Ephraim Msane Kenya Nairobi Mission
Hello Brother & Sister Merz, We were excited to greet and meet your son! He arrived in Nairobi on October 25 with 10 other new missionaries. President & Sister Msane had a training meeting for the new arrivals yesterday and today they are off to their new areas. Your son looked great and it was fun to get to know him. He will be a wonderful missionary. Attached is a letter from President Msane, a picture with Pres & Sis Msane, and a picture of a him by the lovely Carl Bloch painting of the Savior on the Mount of Beatitudes that hangs in the Mission Home. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to send me an email or phone me at the number below. We promise to take good care of all of our missionaries! Nice to learn of Elder Merz’s German background. (I asked him about his name). My grandmother spoke only German until she was 6 years old. Her parents came from German-speaking Switzerland. My grandfather’s parents were from Germany. So we have a bit in common. Sister Torrie

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

So a week from today i will be flying to Kenya! How crazy is that!? It feels like i left not to long ago! The days drag on and on and on. But at the end of the week they all like mesh together and im like what? Its already Saturday or Sunday? haha ive loved the MTC here its so great! Its actually the smallest in the world too! One thing thats very very important that i learned is how crutial it is to LISTEN. Listening is not the same as hearing. But when you listen you are heeding and understanding what someone is saying. Trying to connect with them and there experiences. Thats something ive learned when teaching investagators (People who we are teaching). This last week i also got to go to the temple and it was super cool! I have pictures but cant send them yet! It was really cool though to get to drive around and go see what Joburg is like! While at the temple some guy who is like in the area presidency of africa said that there are 15 total missions in South and West Africa and only about 1500 missionaries! Just think about the size of all of that land and how few people that is so it made me feel extra special haha! Brazil alone has more missions than like all of Africa! Last Sunday we watched 17 miracles and it was really different watching it here with all the missionaries! It touched my heart and i even cried a little (haha i'm a baby). But to my Trek family i toally forgot the guys name is Levi Savage and that was out trek family name! Couensidence or not it was cool and i thought about all of you! On Saturday we kinda got our first African rainstorm too! It was like an hour long raining hard with a bunch of thunder and lighting i loved it!!! We also changed districts and companions and my new one is Elder Harrott of course! Haha that would happen! Me and him already have to many memories and think of each other as brothers! After the mission he wants to come to Utah and he said for me to come to England and we'll like give each other a tour! My new district has me, Elder Harrott, Elder Mbuli, Elder Cooper (the son that uncl John works with!), Elder Goss, Elder Lupeni, and Elder Stevens! Thanks everyone for the emails! I didnt get long to write this week either and next week i might not even get to email so it might be like 2 weeks until you hear from me again! The reason why is becuase we leave the MTC at 5:30 in the morning to fly out and then we get to Kenya on Tuesday and im not sure if we'll get to email there! Love you all and thanks for the support and love! I love to hear from family and friends so email me! Funny moment of the week: On Sunday we watched a devotional and I was telling Elder Harrott about the pretty girls in Utah and this pretty girl prayed and i looked at him and raised my eyesbrows twice and was like seeee! Then while she was praying me and Elder Harrott fist bumped and the President was sitting right behind us and was "Elders!!" in an old man grumpy voice and me and him were laughing about it so hard after! Love, Elder Merz

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

So ive been here a week and have already learned a lot! I was super hard the first couple of days because the jet lag was real. We have 16 hour days and when youre bodys all messed up its hard. Anyways the story from last tuesday is like this. We got picked up and we got out badges at the airport which was really cool. I felt official haha. Then we got in cars and it was about a 45 minute drive to the MTC. We had such a fun time in the car that i was in it was awesome. First off they drive on the right side. We went out of the airport but we took a wrong turn and went back in and then there was one of those spiked things in the ground with a gate above it to enter but our driver didnt have his card or any cash so we just caused a huge traffic jam! Then we finally got though and went the right way and back onto the freeway. A huge semi truck came by us and slowed down and started honking and then flipped us off and we were all dying laughing! Hahahaha then we were were just cruising and BOOM a brand new Lamborghini Huracan and Bentley Continental GT go FLYING past us at my guess would be well over 120! It made me feel good and i was like freaking out because it was so cool haha. The food here is quite good and its random but the tomatoes here are suuuuuper good! They taste even better then homemade ones! But the tomatoe sauce still tastes the same. That African click language that you guys think of is called Xhosa and has a click in the name its really cool and one of the Elders here has been teaching me! He knows 9 languages! I feel great about knowing 1 hahaha. Anyways here at the MTC there are 34 of us total and we see the MTC President and his Wife everyday! Ive gotten to know everyone here and I absoutley love my district! My companion is Elder Brown from Arizona who is also going to Kenya he is seriously like a brother. We even look alike and people thought we were brothers! There is Elder Lupeni, LeFevere, Fraga, Carlson, Stevens, and Harrott. Elder Harrott is like my best friend. Hes from Manchester England and has the accent i pretend i have all the time! Hes our district leader and hes going to Kenya as well so hopefully me and him get to be companions! Oh and Elder Lupeni is from Tonga (Friendly Island.....with a tongan accent) Hes so funny and makes us all laugh. A few nights ago they let us go to sleep early at like 9:30 and we were all up in best and cracking jokes that went continually until about 11:15. The next day we all got in trouble because his apartment touches his and he was just making fun of us and slamming us in a nice and funny way he wasent really that mad but wanted us to sleep. So ive already got in trouble from the MTC President in the first week hahaha ill check that off the list. Theres so much to say but I only got about 20 minutes to type this and read a few emails so im sorry to those who i havent responded to yet. Friends keep emailing me! I love the spirit here and i love the gospel. I am so lucky to be able to serve here in Africa with my brothers and sisters. (There are 2 sisters here at the MTC too). The spirit is super strong and i love hearing the testamonies of these other Elders. The days are long and rough but we get an hour of outside sports each day and then we all work hard in class. The internet kinda sucks at the MTC so no pictures, you will have to wait until i leave :/ thank you all for the love and support and i hope things are going great for all of you! I love learning and i am willing and able to serve his children in Kenya. We also only get to go to the Temple once while were here but thats okay its a blessing to even be able to go once! To the people in Utah that can go, i invite you to go to the temple since there are so many! I invite all of you when you are having troubles, sorrows, hardships, questions, or are feeling happy in life pray and go to the scriptures and youll find answers! Love you all <3 Elder Merz

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Me and 21 other Elders made it here to the MTC. It is currently 9:10 pm. I guess the flight from Atlanta to South Africa is the longest flight that Delta does! Were here and I have a great story for next tuesday which is when our P Day is. Love you all, i miss home,but im so happy to be here and excited to learn! Love you all and you'll here from me on Tuesday! :)