Monday, February 24, 2014

Mailing Packages

Dear Parents, Relatives, friends, ward members and anyone else!!

We have a bit of a problem here with the receiving of mail and of
packages. I am asking for your help in this area. We have two methods of receiving letters and packages from home. First let me begin by explaining the problem and then I hope I can offer some solutions pertaining to each method.

We recently had an incident with a new postal worker who demanded a receipt for the contents of a small package. Inside the package the sender had emptied a bag of candy. The Elders were accused of trying to hide the contents with the candy. They were accused of lying and being thieves. May I suggest that if you have anything of value, please include the receipt. Also please leave any candy in the bag. This will prevent any distrust.
Please remember that any small package does have a cost to retrieve it. Sometimes a small fee of $1 to $3. Only two missionaries have the responsibility and authorization to retrieve any small package. They sometimes are tight for money when it comes time to pay for each package. Please put a small note in your package reminding your Elder to pay back the fee for his package. A dollar isn't much until it is multiplied by 40 and every week!!!!!


--When a package is sent that weighs more than 2 pounds it goes to a central Post Office.
--Only a few people are authorized to receive any packages that are
there because they are addressed to the church (as they should be).
--This office is in a downtown area that is congested and difficult to
get to. The wait to receive the packages has been up to 6 hours--without counting the 2-3 hour trip to get to the Post Office.
--Each package is opened and inspected for contents in our presence.
Then a duty or custom fee is imposed. We recently received one package that cost more than $50 to retrieve. The missionary that receives the package must pay the fees back to the mission out of his personal funds. We are also charged a fee for the length of time they sit at the Post Office before retrieval. The retrieval fees can be quite ridiculous. Unfortunately, it is sometimes impossible to find someone who has an 8 hour day to retrieve a package.

--Any package weighing less than 2 lbs must be mailed as a letter NOT AS A PACKAGE. Example: My daughter sent some things that we needed. The US Post Office convinced her to send it in a flat rate box. The box did not weigh more than 2 lbs. However, because it was in a box, it was considered a package and the USPO labeled it as such. It cost her $27 to mail it and was going to cost me $25 to retrieve it!!!!!!!!! Solution -The problem was not the flat rate box. The problem was that the USPO labeled it as a package. If you use a flat rate box, please send it "registered" and there will be no problems. It will come to the regular mail system.
--We have had the best success with the regular padded envelopes.
These come with no problem and you can send several. Please follow the suggestions above for small packages.

--If for some reason you need to send a package weighing more than 2
lbs, please label it as follows.
Igreja de Jesus Cristo dos S.U.D.
Caixa Postal 18404
Luanda, Angola Telefone 926617677

Please do not put the Elder's name in the address box.
Include the telephone #. If we add the telephone # they will call us
as soon as the package arrives and this will save us some extra fees.
You may put the name in the return address and also inside the package if you wish. Every package must be opened in our presence so there is no fear of things being taken out.

We receive DHL and Fed Ex at our home and at the office. I do not know their restrictions or the cost.

May we remind you that we love your sons dearly and we would do
anything we can to help them have a good experience on their mission. We love them and worry about them as we do our own children. We pray for their safety and success daily.
As a mother I know how it feels to want to send your loved ones a
token of love from home. We are not asking that you quit sending
packages and gifts to your sons. We are only asking you to follow
these instructions. Please be sure that your "receiver" is aware that
he must pay for the imposed fees on a timely basis.
We are in a third world country with all the challenges of mail
delivery. We love the Angolan people and their efforts to do better.
It is our hope that we follow the laws of this land and appreciate
their efforts.
Thank you for your help in this matter. Please remind others who may want to send a package of love. Sometimes the Elders are just as happy with emails from friends and ward members.

Thank you again for all your love and support,
President and Sister Merrill

Another Week

Oi! Family and Friends,

This week was fine. We were supposed to have a baptism this week with Irma Juana but she fell through. She was "sick". And this Wednesdayshe leaves for 15 days. Sooooo, yeah. She will hopefully get baptized at the end of March. But we set a baptismal date with Celso that one kid we found on the 15th, it was a really good lesson and I really enjoyed it. 

I went on two divisions this week, one with Elder Hansen and another with Elder Hannay, so it was pretty cool. Our days this
week were kind of same old same old, like 3 to 4 people that drop
during the day, but that's ok. Were just trying to perservere and keep going forword. This is the last week of the transfer so that's kind of weird. Elder Cafferty should be leaving and I should be staying but we shall see what happens this next Monday. 

This week was kind of slow, we didn't have any lunches with members this week which was a lil annoying, as well as our champ investigator Sebastiao disappeared. He won't pick up his phone. Life. But I'm enjoying life. 

It's been really hot here recently, haha so I'm looking forward to next winter. I'm really tired right now, for a zone activity we played soccer, and I was owning it up, so I was proud of myself haha. Oh yeah this past weekend Elder Cafferty got way sick, we thought he had dengue fever. We had to miss church on Sunday. But we gave him a blessing, and literally 5 to 10 minutes later, he got way better and we were able to leave the house for like an hour and a half and go to the Weggland's for dinner. 

While we were out doing some contacts on the Marginal this wedding was passing us and the people following the wedding
wanted pictures with us, who knows why. So we took like 8 to 10
pictures with these random people so they could put it on their
Facebook haha. But yeah thats been our week. Looking forword to a hopefully better one for this last week of this transfer. 

Then only two more and we head into March. Hope the Roadshow goes well, and don't kill our family Kell (new driver)! haha. Haven't heard from Ridge in awhile but that's alright. Never let life get ya down, I've learned that the hard way. Heavenly Father is always there no matter what. Love you all! Hope you all have a great week!


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Picture Week #88

Elder Brown and some Primary kids

Oh Boy

Oi Family and Friends!

Glad that everyone is doing well, and everyone had a good week. Well I wish I could tell you guys that we had the most spectacular week ever, haha but then I would be lying. Not to be like a pessmist or anything but this week was hard, this whole transfer has been hard, its been the hardest transfer of my entire mission. It seems like all I've been writing about lately is how bad everything is going. But not everything is bad. 

We're having some good lessons. We found this new youth named Celso that seems really cool. He was the first door we knocked in the building and he let us come in. And the spirit was there when we were talking with him and I'm excited to go back to him and teach him the Restoration. We have had tons of people cancelling on us the past couple of weeks. Our area is just very hard with how it's set up, but we have faith that it will continue to get better little by little. 

We also had a miracle of finding Rosa again this week, our cool investigator who was supposed to get baptized on the 1st of Febuary. We were around her house and we decided we would go and knock on her door to see if anyone else knew what happened to her. So we knocked and she was there. So probably next month she will get baptized. 

Probably the coolest thing this week was District Conference. I got to see alot of people from Viana and Benfica which was way cool, and I got tons of pics. Saturday the Area Seventy talked about hastening the work of salvation and we watched that video that I remember Mom telling me about with the kid and his birthday and inviting his friend to his baptism, with their whole family doing missionary work. It was a really cool video. But overall the Conference was really good and cool. Good little spiritual boost. 

But overall life is good. I'm really trying and focusing on developing Christlike attributes as of late. Becoming like Christ is way difficult if we just try and do it by ourselves. But if we have the help of our Heavenly Father, we can slowly dvelop those attributes to become better people and eventually be perfected in Christ. I am very weak, I am far from perfect. But I have the hope and the faith that each day I will be better, through the gospel, through faith, repentence, and covenants, I will become a better person and who I am meant to be. 

100 Days. Doesn't seem that much. Still got a lot to do, but I know it's coming to an end. I love you all. I pray for all of you. Also a shout out to the cassule da familia Kaden haha. HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRO! Your the best, keep doing what is right. Everyone know that we are in the hands of God always. He knows us inside and out and he knows exactly what is going on with us always. He is always there for us. I've trusted in that promise many times on my mission, especially recently. Love you all and have a great week!


Monday, February 10, 2014

Haha Another Rough Week

Oi Family and Friends!

Like the title says, another rough one in the books haha. I don't know what it was, but this week was just hard. We would set up good days ahead for us, and then most of our plans would fall apart. For 4 straight days we only got 2 lessons a day. I'm just glad that it's over, new week. 
We had some good lessons though this week. We had Nefi walk with us alot. Nefi also happens to be the Portuguese name for Nephi. He speaks alot of slang English and drives us around in his car so its a lot of fun, and he is really good in lessons. He is Irma Lasselete's son. 

This coming weekend we got District Conference, Saturday and Sunday so that will be fun. I'm excited to see some people from Viana and Benfica. Also Friday is Valentines Day.... so we decided were going to KFC that day haha. I have a lot of cool pics, but this internet place isn't letting me send some, but this morning we played basketball down at the Marginal, it was way sick. 

A contact we made this past Saturday was pretty funny. It's this guy, coming out of his house, and we wait for him and we start talking to him. He was like your the Mormons, and to the effect said he didn't want anything to do with us and that we should look for people who don't know Jesus and he didn't need us, he was a Baptist yada yada yada. Well we asked him if he knew anyone who would like a visit from us, and he said to talk about other things sure but to talk about Mormonism no. Haha he did not like us. And it hit me why so many people who are in the church could easily leave. No one likes being hated, no one likes being persecuted. If you don't have a strong testimony of the work, your going to fall, plain and simple. Alot of people don't like us, but who cares, truth is truth. God gave us this testimoney to share with everyone , and even if people reject us and hate us, the truth is the truth, like Joseph Smith said to the effect, I knew I knew it, and I knew God knew it, and I cannot deny it. 

Also a couple of days ago we were sitting on the Marginal and a kid from the street shined Elder Caffertys shoes for a dollar. His name was Manuel and he was like 13, he just lived with his friends somewhere and he didn't have a Mom or a Dad. That's just how he made his living, shining shoes all day to stay alive. Life is hard. Life stinks sometimes. Brings pain into all of our lives, at one point or another. But the great thing is, is that pain is temporary, it may last for a minute, or an hour, or a day, even a year. But eventually it will subside, and something else with take its place. And that's our growth. All the injustice, all the pain, all the hard times, will end one day. And then we have the rest of eternity to never have those kinds of things again. Eternal Perspective, it's a beautiful thing. 

Yeah this week stunk, but I have a new week to try again. And I only got so much longer to keep doing this. June 3rd (he is released May 28th but will be home on June 3rd). Crazy. I never ever thought that I would be as close as I am right now. And it's going fast. By this weekend Febuary is half over. Im just going to keep going, keep pushing. I have a lot of plans for my life. Alot. And no one is going to stop me from accomplishing them. Well I love you all, I'm so grateful for the gospel, I'm so grateful for the Atonement, I'm so greatful for my mission. It's been super hard, and it's still going to be hard until the very last day. But after that last day, I'm never going to be able to do it again. Well, anyways I love you guys, looks like eveyone is doing good and well. Hope you all have a good week!


Monday, February 3, 2014

Pictures Week #86

Elder Brown and the City


Oi! Family and Friends,

In advance I apologize that this letter is going to be short. It's going to be short because Elder Cafferty was sick and we stayed home for like 3 or 4 days. So I just have a little to write about. But the week was good. Elder Cafferty is healthy again finally so this coming week is going to be awesome, I have faith that it will. Pretty much the only thing that happened with me this week is that I went on a division with Elder Stewart in Terra Nova. So I got to stay over at the Terra Nova house. It was cool walking around in Terra Nova. It was the only branch area in all of Angola that I hadn't walked in, so it was cool. And Elder Stewart is really cool and fun to talk to, we had a good time. 

Then at night me, Elder Stewart, Elder Montgomery, and Elder Garcia just talked so deeply about the gospel. And we were so into it that we stayed up until 12:30... oops haha. But it was a really fun division. I love those three elders, I wish I could live with them but I also love my house of Elder Caffety, Elder Domingos and Elder Yeanoplos. 

But with this time of sitting around allowed me to study alot and just reflect on what my mission has already done for me, and what I want to get done in these last couple of months. I know my Heavenly Father Loves me and is always there for me. I just want to know everything there is to know about the gospel haha. But I'm just going to give it all I got these last couple of months. My mission has saved my life, and I'm so grateful for my mission. I'm so grateful for the testimony I have this great work, what a great foundation and rock that I have in my life to lean upon. Our life here on earth is a privilege and a blessing. Even when life is really hard, we chose to be here, so we can learn and progress, and be come more like our Heavenly Father. 

I love you all and miss you all very much. Can't believe this is all winding down. But everything comes to an end someday. Congrats to Kell on making JV, hope he has a great season. And crazy that the Seahawks just trashed. Pete Carroll man. Anyways, Love you all, and have the best week!!!