On January 27, 2011 Eric Merkley was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. An aggressive cancer that we hope and the doctors to this point seem confident that is contained to one spot on his leg. Prognosis is good. Treatments and recovery will be long and painful.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas

We would like to wish your families a very Merry Christmas! We hope that you were able to enjoy time with your family. I was going to say a relaxing time with your family, but I know that is close to impossible. 

We had a great time talking to Eric through Skype on Christmas.  He looks so good and sounds so good.  Here are a few of the pictures of our time with him.
As we were opening presents Tuesday morning, Macklynn went over to Eric's picture and climbed up on a chair and just looked at him.  She would point at his picture then just stare.  It was so cute.  I think she recognizes that he is not here.

As you can see we are all excited to see his face!

He came in close so that we could see his whiskers.  ....  Sorry not seeing them.  I thought if I came closer to the I Pad I could see them.... Still not seeing them. :)

This is all of us, well McKell is taking the picture, all hovered around the little screen to see and talk to Eric.

Eric has his companion back, so they are now working in a tri companionship.  They have also been asked to cover the English speaking part of his district, until a new set of English missionaries are brought in.  They had the opportunity to go to the temple with some Lao members to do some temple work and they were able to do the ordinations in Laotian.  He was beaming as he spoke of this experience. 
We asked him how he pronounces his "adult" Lao name and it is pronounce Some-bot. 
All in all he is doing well.  Daryl recorded a message from him and I will try to get a copy of it and download on the blog. 

Thank you for all your love and support for Eric, he has loved the cards and letters from everyone.  and we hope that you enjoy the rest of your Christmas Holiday.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Missionary update

In a previous blog, Eric spoke about his experience of eating a baby chicken, partial developed in a egg.  Here is the video of him eating it....
This is what it looks like up close

When I receive his SD card, I wished that it came with descriptions of who and where etc.  But the pictures are still fun to look at.

This must be where he translates Sacrament meeting into Lao, Live. 
In Eric's email this week he was so happy that he was not transferred.  He said that he has been able to accomplish so much and that he was not ready to hand over the  work to someone else until he accomplishes more.  This Saturday they are taking a family to the temple to do some family work, and he is so excited for this opportunity.
He did say that Christmas as a missionary is the best.  I guess he is still getting pretty spoiled.  :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

So Happy

I am asked all the time how Eric is doing… All I can say is that he is HAPPY!  All his letters and emails are filled with excitment and love for the people: which makes me so happy for him. 

His companion is out recovering from surgery on his shoulder, which means Eric needed to gain another companion until he comes back.  It sounds like within 1 week, he was partnered with one of the missionaries who entered the MTC with Eric and Eric was also put into a leadership position.  I think he is feeling a little overwhelmed.   I had to chuckle at his response…

“I am now responsible for all of south Sac and in leading the area since Elder Haws is new, holding up the Lao program and being the mediator for the Lao people in the church adds a lot of stress into the work. I have to say though that the lord has really blessed me with a lot of help and success this week, this past week was the most successful week that we have had so far in the transfer :) high five to me and the lord!”

Needless to say he was so busy he did not have time to write much more. 

Eric received word that Quinn received his mission call to Peru.  There is a missionary from Peru that Eric has gotten to know, so he had this Elder write Quinn and tell him about his country.  Eric said that Quinn will get to play lots of Soccer and baptize lots of people.  What more could Quinn ask for right?

Eric wrote Todd a letter which made me laugh  and it also touched my heart.  When Todd and I were married, Eric was 12 years at the time… Eric put this poster on his door

 This was a statement!  One of the things he told Todd in his letter was that he has learned a lot from him, being that he (Todd) was “The man of the house”.  Then went on to say “I will never say that again, Enjoy it!”
As he changes, grows up and learn so much from his mission, I find myself asking “Who is this child?”  I remember asking that when Daryl was on his mission, they grow up so much that it makes a mom proud.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Our family wishes your family a very Happy Thanksgiving!! There is so much to be grateful for to even begin to list. Most importantly we have been so grateful for a year of continued strengthening of our not only our physical bodies, but also our family ties and faith.  This was our first Thanksgiving with Eric in the mission field and we surely missed him.  Daryl and Eric usually keeps everyone entertained with their bantering and without Eric, Daryl was like a lost ship.  Good thing we had Macklyn to entertain us. 

I finally got my email for the week yesterday and here are a few stories that Eric shared with me…

Don’t worry I am not starving!  Thanksgiving should be interesting with all of the Lao people, as of right now I have to go to 4 thanksgivings today in a 7 hour period!  :(  They are all Lao so it’s more like 10 thanksgivings!  I don’t know how I am going to do it but it should be interesting.. . . . . pray for me!
A funny story:    Lao people are very up front.  I showed my leg to a Lao lady for the first time (she is 74) and the first thing that she did was grab onto it pulling on it in all different directions!   haha The thing was my leg was still attached to me!!   But that’s how Lao people are, haha, man they are awesome.

Eric and his companion are starting to help the Lao members work on their family histories, but where there are very little records, this task could become challenging.  The interesting thing is, this will be a HUGE learning experience for Eric, because he has not been exposed to any family history work in our home.  I know I am slacking, but he will see firsthand the many different blessing that will come from connecting the families together with these people he has grown to love.  I am pretty excited for him, then maybe he can show me when he gets home.  J

The best part of his email was that he said that as he sat down with a family on Wednesday night for their Thanksgiving dinner (like our family here in Elk Ridge Utah), this is what he said:

Don’t worry as you were having Thanksgiving, I was too.  We were at thanksgiving with a family last night on Wednesday night and it was good and it felt like home, but not quite the same thing for sure, I will never take family gatherings for granted again, but I am not home sick sorry :).

I am so glad he is not home sick, I know he is busy and doing well.  That is all I can ask for.
Happy Thanksgiving

Monday, November 12, 2012

So much to catch up on.

I have received great letters this past week and emails, so I will try to catch you up on the life of Elder Eric.  Here are a couple of stories in his words:


Things have been getting pretty interesting with the whole election thing and we are always asked what we think about it. One night we just left an appointment and we were walking down the street and this guy jumped out of his car and ran up to us.  He asked us if we were missionaries, I looked at my tag and said “duh”! JK I said “yeah”.  He then asked me if I was going to vote for Romney?  After he said that I knew that this was going to get interesting. Especially when I noticed that his breath stunk of alcohol. I told him that as missionaries we have no political opinion and that we do not share what we think. He then said I didn’t ask you that,… who are you voting for? I repeated my first response. He then got so upset at me because I would not giving him the answer that he was looking for.  He then went on to talk and preach to us about everything under the sun, that we live under a rock and that we need to be us and that we are floating through space, literally everything under the sun. During this time I just thought “oh my this is not going to end”.  He preached to us for 45 minutes on the side of the road! We told him that we needed to go and he still would not leave. I happened to glace down and I saw that he had a camera and he was recording the whole time! I asked him what the camera was for and he got really awkward and finally left.  THANK YOU!! So if you see me on YouTube you now know why.  haha

This week in the mission was a little slow, but I did have one cool experience that was a bit different.  We went to go teach a family that is less active with hopes to get them back to the church.  We got to the house and knocked and all of the lights were off, which meant that they of course ditch on the appointment.  We knocked once again and this old Lao guy opened the door that happened to be blind, which explains all of the lights being off.  We started to talk to him and he invited us to come in and talk more with him.  The lights remained off for the whole time that we were teaching him. It was definitely  a different experience, but hey we got a return appointment with him I guess it doesn't matter whether or not the light are on because the light of Christ will always shine on :) it was so cool because as he was talking with me, he asked me if I was Lao. I told him “no I am white” and he was surprised! He thought I was Lao!!!   How sweet is that!!   He said that I sounded Lao!  haha I think that he is just being nice but still it made me feel good.

Another cool thing is that I got my adult Lao name which is “Sombat” which means everything good of treasure of great worth, gees these Lao people just know me so well!   haha :)

We heard the very sad news about the Blodgett’s little angel who was called home.  My heart truly broke for them.  I did tell Eric about their story and he said that he thinks of Steven all the time and feels for their heartache at this time.  Please keep them in your prayers at this time of grief and Steven; I still believe that your family is pretty darn lucky to still have you here!  You are a winner and we have felt honored to have known you!  Keep up being such a great example to everyone around you! And as Sonja says, “Please hold your loved ones a little tighter tonight”

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I just received my email from Elder Eric.  He loves his mission right now.  He loves the people and his companion.  What a great start right?  Here are a few stories from his email.

“This week I had a really cool experience with one of the Lao members in the ward.  I have a little voice recorder that I use to help me in my language study so that I can understand what people are saying better. I went to Maa Pang's house and I asked her to tell me how the church has helped her in her life and to tell me about how she joined the church. First of all, the story about how she came over to America is absolutely crazy and then she went on the tell me about how she joined the church, it is a super long story so I won’t tell you it, but she went on to say that she had cancer and she told us how the church had helped her so much in her life. I heard this and it really sparked my interest of course and I told her my story and experience with cancer. It was so amazing she started crying and I have never felt the spirit that strong as I have been speaking Lao it was so amazing I can’t even put it into words.”

He also had an appointment to meet his new Doctor at UC Davis.  He said that Dr Spraker had actually talked to this new doctor and told her that if she had any patients with Osteosarcoma or Ewings sarcoma to have Eric talk to them.  Apparently she has a patient right now that she wants Eric to meet, but first she needs to get permission from their parents.  So Eric is pretty excited about this opportunity to continue to talk kids through this cancer process he knows so well.  He went on to say “what better way to open people up to the gospel right? I love it because I still get to go talk to kids at the hospital and I love doing that!”

Apparently I will get to learn all the scary stories when he comes home, not to mention the story of getting out of the path of 3 tornadoes.  It is probably a good thing I don’t hear all the stories. 

All I can say is it is a good thing he is in Heavenly hands.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New food experiences

Even though this picture is not "clear", it is very Clear that his joke on the missionaries that picked Eric up at the airport, was a success and they were all smiles.  If you have not read the story, scroll down a few blog post and read about the "Christmas Miracle" that happened.

Here are all the mighty Laotian missionaries in Sacramento.  The new and the "old". 

This week in Eric's email, he told a couple of stories that are really fun.  So in his words here is the initiation of Elder Merkley.

I walked into this one Lao ladies house for a dinner appointment and the first thing that she said was oh boy I need more rice.  haha which is funny,  cause I already eat a ton of food as it is. 
So they feed us very well.  It is amazing to me sometimes how much these little lao people eat.  They are like 5 feet tall.  And holy cow the food is soooooo spicy.   This week, since I am the new Elder and it was my first time in a Lao members house, I got to have the "honor" of having kii luug which is baby chicken that is still in the egg!!! Lucky me right?! Yeah not so much haha it was weird because you put a small hole in the top of the egg and you slurp out the juice, then you make the hole a bit bigger and it is all down the hatch from there. haha It just slides down the throat all nice like!

That story gives me the "willies"!!  I don't think I could do it.

Here is how his Sundays are:
Yesterday was my first Sunday in the ward and it was so busy.  The first thing that I do for sacrament is, I walk in and sit in the back of the overflow on the left side. Why do you sit  in the back, on the left side you ask? well its because all of the Lao people come and sit in the back on the left side and put on these little headsets. I also get to put on a headset but my headset has a cool little microphone on it. . . . .  so yes I get to translate the whole sacrament meeting live for all of the Lao people. Where is your senior companion you ask?  Well he sits in the back on the right side where all  the mienh people sit and translates the meeting into mienh. So my companion speaks mienh, I speak Lao which equals a lot of  work to be done, double the work in fact.  After sacrament I get to teach Lao Sunday school.  After that I teach Lao relief society also.  How great is my calling? :) I can't wait to see the blessings for me when I get home. haha

Hey Maybe he will be teaching Relief Society here in Elk Ridge 3rd Ward....????  :)
He has already had an opportunity to share his experiences with Cancer with an Uncle to a Lao member who is going through treatments right now.  Just reading about his experience, just touched my heart, because this man not only is going through a tough time with treatments, he was able to talk about the struggles with Eric who understood those struggles.  Eric was able to share with him the strength he received from our Heavenly Father as he progressed through that difficult time.  The man was able to receive a Priesthood blessing from the Elders while they were there.

As hard as it is to have Eric so far a way, it is so touching to hear the stories he has had to be an instrument in our Heavenly Fathers Hands and comfort others.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Eric and President and Sister Lewis

I received a letter from President Lewis along with this picture.
This was taken right before the major accident with the AP's.  :)  I spoke with Sister Nielsen yesterday and she will be staying in close contact with Eric as he continues with his scan and check ups.  She was trying to reassure me that he was well and happy.  I appreciated the reassurance, but I knew that he was doing great.  She also said that he is already very busy. 
Eric is now in Florin California, which is just a few minutes south of Sacramento.  There is so much excitement with the rules changing on when young men and women can now go on missions.  Sister Nielsen said that every mission President is begging for missionaries. It sounds like there will be a large number of new missionaires heading into the mission field.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

California Address

I have been asked a lot lately about Eric's New address, so here you go:

Elder Eric Merkley
California Sac Mission
8267 Deseret Ave
Fair Oaks CA 95628

Monday, October 8, 2012

First Week in Sacramento

I received a great email, not to mention that it was a very long email with lots of stories… my favorite!

Eric has not changed one little bit and has found ways to amuse himself, so here is the story in his words…

We met and had dinner with President Lewis and his wife.  They are really loving and kind people.  The cool thing is when I leave to come home they will leave too, so I get them my whole mission.  So funny story, as we were going home I told the “AP’s” that I had one leg and they asked me if the elders that picked us up at the airport knew about my one leg.   I told them no.  We then spend about 30 minutes coming up with a wonder plan to break it to them!   Wahahaha It went a little like this.  One of the elders had some old pants that didn't fit him anymore so what we did was,  we ripped off the left pant leg and then proceeded to put catsup and pizza sauce all over my leg. :) The AP’s then continued to carry my lifeless body into the house where they lived.  The two elders who had picked me up from the airport starting to scream so loud!!!!   One ran out of the house yelling for help and the other start to go running for ice and to call 911.  Of course before they got to the phone I stopped my award winning performance and came back to life :)   It was a Christmas miracle! After that we went to bed because we had a full day ahead of us.

Oh Man they are in for an eventful 2 years!  He is all settled and have already given blessings and taught lessons.  A daughter from a Lao family has been offered to him in marriage…. OH NO! 

He also found out that all the Lao missionaries get new names.  So he was taken to a very elderly Lao lady and her name she came up for Eric is Somwang, which means “Perfect Hope”.  He said that it is safe to say that he has the coolest Lao name.  I think that it is very fitting.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"I'll be Back!"

So not only did I get to talk to Eric on the phone today, I received a letter.  In this letter was a drawing done by another missionary.  Here you go, I loved it.
The latest image of the "One legged Missionary." 

And he's off!

Eric just called and he has cleared security at the airport.  He is so excited to be on his way to Sacramento!!  I asked him if the security was a pain to get through with his leg, and he said that after he went through the body scanner, they  swabbed his leg for explosives and that was it, he passed.

So needless to say, he is on his way.  We had a great talk.  He was craving information from home... as if he does not get a lot from me in my letters.  :) He said that he feels like he is alive again and no longer a zoombie at the MTC.  It is interesting how different personalities handle the MTC.  Eric is not one to be saddled in a chair all day long, but I am sure proud of him sticking it out and making it to the end.  Now all the work will begin. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Family Pictures

The night before Eric's farewell we were able to have family pictures taken.  Here are a few of my favorites
What good looking kids!

Macklyn will be a thrill seeker, I am afraid, when she continues to grow.  :)  Daryl will be the reason for this, Sorry McKell.

This is the whole family... we have really grown!  I LOVE IT!  Families make this life so worthwhile.
In Eric's email this morning, he said he now has his travel plans for California and is so excited.

Eric also ran into our dear friends Mike and Bonnie (aka Tonya's In laws) and Bonnie could not help herself, she gave Eric a hug for her then had to give him another one for me, except my hug was longer.  :)   The funny thing is, you are not suppose to hug missionaries and Bonnie knows this.  Of course how can you refuse Bonnie?

While walking the halls of the MTC, he mentioned that he has been stopped and asked if he is Eric Merkley because they have read his story ... on this blog.  Some have asked him if he is the Elder with one leg.  How can you not laugh at this... I guess it could be worse, his notoriety could be due to something embarrassing.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

So Much Excitement

I received a letter yesterday from Eric and then an email today.  All I can say is "Wow, he has grown up so much." 
Eric is so excited because they just got word that the complete translated Book of Mormon will be available by the end of this month.  He has been working with parts of the Book of Mormon that has been translated into Laotian, but is so excited to be able to have the complete book in his hands. 
Thursday he will also receive his travel plans for SACRAMENTO!!  It will be another indication that he is getting closer to spreading his wings in California.  I am so happy for him to be able to get out of the MTC.  With the training, lessons and teaching exercises, he is to the point where the best refining teacher will be "real life experience".  I can't wait to hear the many stories that will come from California.
A couple of weeks ago, Eric blew out his 3rd knee.  What is hard to believe is he sits in a classroom for hours on end and his knee sprung a leak again.  So he has been working with Hangers Prosthetic to not only fix his broken knee, but to find an easy solution for Eric while in California.  The good thing is there is a Hanger office in Sacramento.  So an extra knee has been ordered and he will be trained how to swap them out.  I know that this whole prosthetic leg situation has been a learning experience, but I wished that we started with Hangers from the beginning, instead of Fit Well, because Eric would not have been fitted with this particular knee to begin with.  This knee has been known to break down for no reason.  It is frustrating when you have a hydraulic portion of the knee break and start to leak oil all over your clothes... not pretty.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Teaching in Lao

Eric only has 2 1/2 weeks left to go in the MTC. He is so ready to get out of the MTC.

I love Tuesdays and Thursday, because on Tuesday's I get an email.  On Thursday’s I get a letter with more details.  This week was fun to hear of an experience he had teaching a “Real” Lao person.  They taught the first lesson on Prayer. It went really well, a great teaching experience.  He received a note from Von about their experience.   I could tell by Eric's letter that this note was just the boost he needed to stay focused at the MTC and he cannot wait to head to Sacramento.

Apparently the Temple serves the best Waffles and Sausage.  He said that they were so amazing and when I go to the temple again, I needed to go early and have waffles, because I will be so blessed.  J  Poor guy the MTC food is really getting to him.

He has not gained weight, which he is proud of.  Of course if you do not eat junk food, how do you expect to?  He still will not eat sugar, because it tastes like tin to him.  Weird, I know!

I came across these pictures from our Jackson Hole trip.  Daryl and Eric have to compete in everything.  I thought they were still fun to see.. So here you go.

 Eric won!  HEE HEE

 This is Macklyn at church.  She has been naughty and spending a lot of time in the lobby.  :)  I just sent Eric a copy of these pictures because it knew it would make him laugh... I sure did.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

1 Year!

I cannot believe that it has been 1 year (well almost) since Eric finished his treatments.  One year ago he was so close to finishing the last treatments, when his body was just too exhausted to continue.  As frustrating as it was, it was necessary for his body to heal  in order to endure the final treatments.  Last year seems so far away, but yet it still seems like it was yesterday and is still a tender memory.  The strong feelings as we walked out of the hospital after finishing the last chemo treatment of wondering if it was enough to kill all those cancer cells floating in his body.  Well today as Eric went to PCMC for his last set of scans before heading to Sacramento helped to rest assure me that all was well.  It was a gift from heaven to hear this great news and even better was the news from Dr Spraker, as we spoke on the phone tonight of how impressed she was of Eric and how he had touched so many lives.  She said that she knew that I had to be proud of him.  That statement cannot even begin to touch the surface of how much I love this kid. 

I love hearing all the great stories of how much he has learned and grown while in the MTC.  I know that he is very anxious to get out into the “Real World” and begin to get to know the Lao people.  The 6 Laotian speaking missionaries in the mission field are all in Sacramento.  When Eric and the group of Elders who all have been working hard to learn the lao language will continue to work together in Sacramento.

He said that hard part of the MTC has been that he has greeted several groups of new missionaries and then have sent them off to their missions…. Only to stay behind.  But the next group that will be greeted by Eric and his group will have the opportunity to leave with them also.  They are truly looking forward to October 2. 

I love his letters and the stories he tells me, here are some more pictures that I was able to get my hands on. 

The boys were having fun with these glow sticks and this is the Lao word for Heart.

This means Love

This is the chair he sits in all day long studying.  I feel claustrophobic for him... But he has had such a great attitude.
And of course we have to show the name tag.  :) 

What a great day to know that he is now 1 year clean of any cancer, and ready to begin a new adventure.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Day in the life...

Eric sent home his SD card along with a letter.  This made my day to go through his pictures.  It looks like he is doing well and is happy.  Here are a few of those pics.

Yeah I understand!

He has probably studied harder in the past 5 weeks then he had in his whole entire high school experience.

This is my favorite picture!!  Thank goodness he translated it for me, or it would have gone straight over my head. 

I am assuming these missionaries are the 4 missionaries learning Laotian.

The hard part about getting just the SD card, is you don't have the names and stories behind the pictures.  I am assuming this is Eric's companion.

Eric is still Eric!  I LOVE IT!  The temple looks like a big birthday cake.

In Eric's letter he said that he was the best at reading and writing Lao in his district.  Considering that he is dyslexic and he has always struggled with reading, this is a big deal to him.  He went on to say that the spirit is the best tutor there is so he is in good hands and things are really starting to click. 

The best news is that he is doing well and learning so much.
Saturday will be the half way mark in his MTC experience.  He will be in the MTC for a total of 11 weeks.  I bet Saturday will be a day of celebration for him, knowing he is half way done.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Mom payday

The letter I received from Eric yesterday, made my day. I remember getting letters from Daryl when he was on his mission and thinking this is the greatest gift a mom could receive, because of the things he said. Well yesterday was another great "Mom Payday"

Eric just learned about his friend Morgan Meservy who after serving his mission in Canada and telling Eric at his Farewell that his mission was the best thing he ever did, just passed away from an accident. It had really shaken Eric up, because he really looked up to Morgan. But Eric went on to say that Morgan is now serving a new mission and loving it too.

He shared a very spiritual experience that became a great understanding and motivation for him to stay the course in the MTC. These experiences are moments that bring a mom so much comfort and helps with the ache of missing her son.

Tuesday night, Todd and I previewed the Odd life and Timothy Green. This was a great family film that not only makes you laugh, but makes you evaluate your job as a parent. There was a scene at the end that just brought tears to my eyes, because it has been my biggest fear.  I highly recommend this movie.  With this scene running through my head, it had me very emotional.  Then Wednesday I learned about the struggles that Jake is facing with his battle with osteosarcoma. I was heartbroken, humbled, faithful, a huge gamut of emotions for Jakes family and also for the struggles and triumphs that these kids who have had to face cancer. It reminded me that I do not understand the "Big Picture" nor will I in this life. I have truly appreciated the time that I have had with Eric, Tonya and Daryl. Our kids are a gift from our Heavenly Father to be cherished. As our family has learned and also Morgan's family has learned that life is so fragile.

Please keep Jake and his family in your prayers at this time.  Also Morgan’s family as they are grieving the loss of their son.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Zone Leader

2 weeks ago, I received a wonderful email, but no letter. I thought he must be just really busy. Last week Eric sent me a quick email promising more details to come. I was a little bummed when I left out of town with no letter, but when I arrived home last night, not only did I get that promised letter, I had 4!! 2 from the prior week and 2 from last week.

He sent "The Living Christ" and "Proclamation to the world" in Laotian.
 (I tried to scan the Proclamation, but it did not work.  I wanted you to see the written word he is learning.)  The only way I can read these documents is with an English version right next to it.  J.  Eric told of a story how he was called into the Branch Presidents office. He thought he was in trouble for something, but learned that they were calling him to be the new Zone leader.  He was feeling a little overwhelmed.  He said that it is hard enough learning 2 languages, but now he is responsible for a group of missionaries.  I know he will do a great job. 

Eric has asked for friends and family to write him through “Dear Elder”.  I am not familiar with this web site, but I know a lot of people use it.  McKell said it is really easy.  You create your own account (which is free) and log in, write Eric a letter with all the same address info and they will print off the letter and send them over to him.  It cost you nothing!  J  And Eric gets lots of letters! 
Bottom line is he is doing great excited he has made it through ¼ of his stay at the MTC.  He has even claimed that he has forgotten what the “real world” is like, while still loving Sundays and the amazing talks that are given.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Language is coming along...

Eric emailed me today to let me know that not only was he emailing me, he was emailing me while doing his laundry!  Proud moment!
He is doing great and working really hard learning the language.  It sounds like they are focusing on Thai right now, but it is close to Laotian.  He said that he will be standing in line for lunch and will pull out the flash cards. 

What surprises him the most is that he feels the lessons go right over his head, but when he wakes up in the morning, it has stuck.

He loves Sundays.  He said that it recharges his batteries.  He would love to hear from everyone, as all missionaries do.  So if you get a moment, please write him.

Monday, July 30, 2012

What a Nerd

This weekend as Todd and I were in Preston Idaho, I was going through some of my pictures on my phone and came across this one.  I guess I was living in such a fog that I totally forgot this picture.  As he was preparing for the Stake Presidency to come and set him apart as a missionary, he came up the stairs with his back pack and put on Daryl's Missionary name tag for the complete look.  I laughed and still do as I look at this picture, because he looks like a total NERD!  Gotta Love him.
He is doing well.   I think his P-Day is on Tuesday so I am looking forward to my email tomorrow.  He did say that he has already taught 3 lesson in Lao as of last Monday, with less than a week in the MTC, he has come a long way.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I received my first  email from Eric today!!  WOHOO!!  His companion is from Idaho Falls.  He said that he is completely opposite of him, but is getting along fine with him. 

The interesting thing he learned was, not only is he learning Laotian, he will also be learning Thai.  Apparently there is not a Book of Mormon translation between English and Lao.  So in order to teach the Lao people, they must be able to translate the BOM for them into Lao from Thai.  ... interesting.
He also learned that there are only 6 missionaries that speak Lao in the whole world.  4 in the MTC.  When the 4 go out into the mission field, 4 will be coming home.  This surprised me.  I expected more Lao speaking missionaries out there. 

It is probably a good thing they did not tell him he would be learning 2 languages, I am sure that could be overwhelming.  He said that he is definitely praying for the gift of tongues.  :)

It sounds like all is well and he is adjusting.  He made it through the hardest part of the MTC, the first 4 days.

As for me, it feels weird in this house.  Less laundry, what to cook... if I cook, and the house seems so much more quieter.  I think the hardest part is, I am use to having a quiet home with Eric gone with friends all the time and Todd working a lot, but knowing that Eric will not be home later is what is hard to get use to.  But I am trying to adjust.  So all is well.

Friday, July 20, 2012

First Letter

Look what I got today!!

It is going to be a great day!  Everyone has asked how I am doing, and I have to admit I am doing better... of course the container of chocolate covered cinnamon bears that Daryl and McKell gave me helped... they are all gone.  :)

I laughed cause Eric said that he HAD to write this letter to tell me not to worry and that he was not homesick, because this was his first day... not enough time to get homesick yet.  :)

He has already started the language lessons.  So the adventure begins 

MTC Address:

Elder Eric Merkley

MTC mailbox #230

CA-SAC 1002

2005 N 900 E

Provo UT 84604

If I understood the address correctly, he will leave for CA on 10/02.  I still have not heard from Dr Spraker about his blood results (the doctors office did not send it to her, so I will call again today)  But I think all will be well.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Missionary

 Where to start?? Well I knew that the time would come and come too quickly, but I have cherished the opportunity to help Eric get ready. Monday was a day full of running. We stopped by Mr Mack for more socks, sewing kit, alarm clock, laundry bag etc. Our next stop was to the doctor’s office for the missing immunization shot, the chance for his records to get updated with all the shots he has recently received and for a follow up blood draw.

When we were in PCMC the blood drawn on that day showed the levels of creatinine was elevated. So as a precaution Dr Spraker wanted to retest his blood. When I heard this my panic mode set in and the worry started. I knew that Methotrexate is extremely hard on your kidneys, so my radar has always been a little sensitive. As I was purging all my worry on my friend on our morning walk, she said that I needed to remember that the adversary does not want Eric to serve this mission and if he cannot sway Eric to stay home then he would work on me. Boy has he been working on me.

So when the Stake Presidency came to set Eric apart as a full time missionary, I cannot express the gratitude I had for the blessings that were given, to our home and family but also to Eric.

As Eric sat down in the chair and the men circled around him, there was a gap right in front of Eric, where I had a clear picture of him as they placed their hands on his head and then the gap was closed. I wish I had a picture of that, because it was powerful. It was also very comforting.

President Trevort had blessed that Eric would be able to serve his mission and that the prior health issues would not interfere in any way. He mentioned this 2 different times in 2 different ways. He went on to say the most comforting things a mom could hear. Unless you have had an opportunity to be a part of a young man getting set apart as a full time missionary, you cannot comprehend the power of not only the priesthood, but of the Heavenly feelings that are present.  I felt this when Daryl was set apart and I also felt it Tuesday night.  There is this peace that comes in your home that is amazingly beautiful.

After everyone left we had dinner and it was relaxing. Eric had pretty much packed his room up, but had not put anything in his suitcases. President Trevort told Eric to get some sleep that night, and we all chuckled, I mean who can sleep? Wise Counsel though. So as Eric was winding down and getting ready for bed, we had a few minutes to visit, just the two of us. When a knock came at the door and another friend wanted to say goodbye.

Sunday, when Eric was saying goodbye to Tonya, there were a lot of tears and he said he did not expect it to be that hard, and as he said goodbye to a lot of his friends, there have been a lot of tears. I was worried that if I am such a big baby all week long, how was I going to make it through Wednesday afternoon?

Wednesday morning.... Eric wanted Swedish Pancakes and as I have stated already, I hate making Swedish pancakes! But it was fun to enjoy breakfast with the family. I think everything started to hit Eric, because he did not eat a whole lot.  I have heard how he has eaten a large stack of Swedish Pancakes at the Simonsen’s home on several occasions.  He said that he lost his appetite this morning, or maybe I just can't make Swedish pancakes like mama Simonsen.  :) 

Macklyn was helping Eric pack..
 I mentioned that he would probably need to iron his shirts a little when he makes it to the MTC and Daryl started laughing... I guess that is not high on their priority list.

 Eric had planned on destroying his phone, so he had fun with this.

Daryl and Eric were inspecting the damage and wondering if it would still work, so to ensure that it would not, he did it again.

We had a family prayer and Daryl and McKell said their goodbyes. We were both pretty antsy, so we decided to leave a few minutes early and run a few errands for the theater. We also had to stop by Walmart to pick up a few bottles of Mio for the MTC.

We laughed when we pulled into the parking lot just below the Provo temple, it was definitely a staging area for Missionaries to say goodbye. So we were no different.

I have LOVED the many times we have laughed. He has asked several times "Mom, who are you going to take your weirdness out on when I am gone?" Then he would look at Todd... poor Todd.

I told him as we were driving away from the house that I was going to try to stay strong and keep it together. There have already been too many tears and this is truly a good thing he is doing. ... I am saying this as tears were coursing down my cheeks. Not off to a good start.

I love this kid! After I watched him walk away, I got into the car and could not stop myself. I cried.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Farewell - Sunday July 15

Where to begin....Eric was so calm all morning.  He has been looking forward to his speaking assignment and after he practiced it Sunday morning, he said that it took him about 30 mins.  I told him to remember that when you speak in front of people, you tend to talk faster.  But he decided to cut some of his talk out.  Dang!
As they were passing the sacrament, I asked Eric (well he read my lips) if the chapel was filling up.  He said that it was full, but he did not seem to get any more nervous.  He gave his talk like a pro.  He told of his story and the thoughts that went through his mind when he learned that he had cancer.  He spoke of being so scared that he was shaking and praying so hard to Heavenly Father for Help and he did receive help in the form of comfort and peace.  He related how it felt like a warm blanket that was wrapped around him, and he was able to calm down, breath normal and was comforted by the most amazing peace.  Experiences like this never leave your mind or heart. 
I can not say enough how proud I am of him.  He has conquered so much and is ready to face this new challenge he now faces in his mission.
Everyone has asked him several times if he was nervous about entering the MTC and his response was "Well the way I look at it is, I have wrestled a rattle snake, almost drowned twice, beat cancer.... why would the MTC scare me?"  Gotta love him!

Here are a few pictures from his open house with just a few of his friends!

I could not have pulled off this open house with a lot of helping hands!!  We have the greatest friends who are so willing to help at the drop of a hat.  THANK YOU!!
There were just a few people... :)

Steve Linford, Dennis Dunn, Tonya and me

More great friends who helped to feed to multitude...(it felt like feeding the multitude anyway)

Todd's parents even made it all the way down from Preston Idaho

Eric saying a few words
Dennis wrote a letter to Eric and was willing to share.  I understand that it was kind of hard to hear, but when he finished, within seconds the heavens opened up and it started to pour rain.  The point was well received by all.
Eric and 2 of his buddies.  Steven and Tim came down to share this day with us.  It meant so much to us that they did.
Of course they had to show off their hardware.  I believe it was Cory, Tim's Dad that said there is probably enough money in hardware between the 3 boys to buy a house... I believe it.  It was still so fun to watch them show off their cool legs, or jungle gyms and Macklyn believes that Eric's leg is.

I was very humbled by all the people who came to show their love and support for Eric.  Danee, from Shelly Idaho who was Eric's first cancer friend.  There are pictures of her in this blog when they were both bald and beautiful.  She has just blossomed and Maddie Cook was also there with her mom and dad.  Like Steven, Maddie's hair came in dark and curly when it was once blond and straight.  My heart was just bursting when I saw all these kids.  They have these amazing spirits about them and they all wear smiles.  Heavenly Father's Precious .... Precious children.  And last but not least Tristan and his family came.  When I turned around and saw Tiffany, Tristan mom, I wanted to start to cry again.  Because it was quite a trip for them to bring Tristan out.  I did not think they would make it and when I saw Eric talking to Tristan, I can not put into words the image of those two boys talking.  There was just love and respect between them and you could feel it.  Eric truly understands what Tristan is going through right now and we both are praying for him.  It had not even been 2 weeks since his surgery. Tristan was sporting his U of U blanket and pillow case and when Daryl was admiring all the U of U logos, Tristan had to show off his cast with more U of U drawings.  Not only is he recovering from a very major surgery, but when you have an immune compromised kid, it is always a worry to be around people.
I heard that there were no seats to be found and people had to stand around to wall to listen to Eric.  Very Humbling.