April 15, 2013
So sorry I wasn’t able to call on my way out. Every flight was delayed and we were so late to Chicago and London, they literally met us with a bus outside each plane to port us to the next plane, it was nonstop flight all the way and we never saw the inside of an airport after Salt Lake all the way to Edinburgh. I drove the first night around the block once, which was easy, but the second day they needed someone to drive an elder to and from the Edinburgh bus station. So, my second day in Scotland, I drove a manual shift car through the busiest capital in Scotland, all on the left side. It’s a trip but I had it down no problem. I was called to serve in Stranraer, Scotland. Now I cruise through the country side, as you may imagine I love driving through the countryside in Scotland, it’s as cool as it sounds. But yes, put simply, Stranraer is a beautiful place. It’s a wee town right at the back of a very large bay in the south of Scotland, there’s always fog and Ireland is 17 miles away, so we never see it. Me and Elder Tinsley, a tall red headed but confident fellow from Farmington Utah, are the only missionaries in Stranraer and its surrounding cities. We cover everything all the way up to Ayr. There are several wee villages in the area, including Castle Kennedy, Kirkcowen and Neuton Stuart which is my favorite. They are all the epitome of textbook Scottish villages, with stone fences, small historic cemeteries and lots of big churches, all brought together with lots of sheep, rolling hills and a foggy overcast. It’s the most beautiful place in the world. I love it here. There are a mere 20 members in the wee branch of Stranraer and me and elder Tinsley are sort of responsible for keeping what’s left and dangling on a thread alive. 3 Days here and we’ve already made fantastic progress, bringing back some less actives and finding some new potential investigators. Ill share one experience for the sake of time and space. We were going out to Neuton Stuart, or Newton Stewart, and the person who was in our area book as a less active wasn’t home, but because the drive takes almost 30 minutes and is like 50 kilometers away from home, we decided to spend a wee bit of time there finding. We drove through town, sort of letting the spirit guide my driving, and elder Tinsley pointed to a grouping of homes a bit way away and we decided we would try to chap(knock) the lot of them. As we parked in the neighborhood, we talked and decided to, instead of knocking on every single door, to walk down the street and only approach the doors and people that we felt impressed to. So we walked, and passed about ten houses before we both felt like knocking on a specific door. We walked up knocked and waited, when the scot answered the door, we began to speak and they slammed the door. It happens. So we moved on, doing the same thing. Came to another door, same thing happened. At this point we were halfway around a large block in Neuton Stuart, when by one of the last houses, we both felt prompted to knock on a specific door on a corner. We both walked up to it and chapped, and after a couple knocks a lady opened. We told her who we were and she seemed interested, we told her that our message could improve her life and bring her closer to Christ. She looked at us, and said that not five minutes earlier she had been contemplating her own faith and thinking about the churches in her area, trying to decide where to turn, and then we knocked. We shared a discussion and left our number and a pamphlet. Were hoping to set up another appointment with this woman, Ann, and at the moment we are working on her, and she is calling us here and there. Cool experience, as I’ve been here, and as I study and pray every day, I feel the spirit guiding my every move and everything I say. Like I said that’s only one story. There are many good spiritual ones and already some crazy ones as well. We had a drunk guy tell a kid to go get his gun and shoot us, elder Tinsley started walking away. So I followed, but right before I left this man’s presence, I said, 'there are no guns in Scotland, 'cept mine', he then ranted off swearing and yelling like he had been before. It was a good laugh.
There is a special spirit here in Stranraer, the people are close and each of them has a great faith. I feel a great pressure of responsibility for this town and her surrounding areas, and I’m coming to know that God has great plans for this wee branch, to invest his spirit and missionaries in such a small area is a big deal. I know this church is true and that I’m doing my best and giving everything to the Lord. I know if I work hard, and do what I’m here to do, we can turn this branch into a ward or two. It’s a long ways away, but we are here for three months, and were sort of like the Spartans in this war, here to turn the battle around and make the enemy retreat.
Lots of rain and wind here and there, but it’s sunny right now.
Thanks for your prayers and support, I don’t yet know my address of my flat, as I haven’t moved in yet. But I’ll send the info around as soon as I can.
To my Family,
from Elder Merrill
Dear Mom, Dad, Sydnee and Evan,
I love you all, and miss you as well. The spirit has come to guide and prompt my every decision, and it’s quite a different way of living. Folk here are so surprised that I can understand them, and they are normally pretty impressed with the accent I can pull off. They love to tell stories and they love to hear testimonies, that is after they are sober and let us talk to them( like %10). It’s so beautiful here and I love it. Look through the book of Scotland, find Ayr, it’s a lot like that just a lot smaller. If you can find castle Kennedy, Kirkcowen, Newton Stewart, Stranraer or anywhere around the south of Scotland that’s where I am. Mondays are my P-day. I move into my flat in the middle of town on Wednesday. in one conversation you’ll here the word AYE like fifty times, so now I say words like, flat, aye, norm, wee, lad, lass, dirkie(blanket), scones(bread), lorry(semi truck) and a load of other sort ems. Till we speak again! May the lord bless our home.