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!