Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mixed Bag - MTC Week #8

Ia ora na!

This week was, well, a mixed bag! There were some great moments, and some pretty gnarly ones as well for us as a whole district.

I just want to start off by saying that yesterday, June 23, was absolutely amazing! It was the worldwide leadership broadcast for missionary work, and it was such a privilege to sing in that huge choir. I felt the Spirit so strongly throughout the broadcast, and having the opportunity to hear and see the Quorum of the Twelve speak was such a fantastic experience. It makes me so stoked for missionary work! It was definitely a historic moment for missionaries, with new announcements such as a wider utilization of technology and tours of our chapels, as well as a large emphasis on member missionary duty. Such a great experience!

At the broadcast

The Tahitian is just getting better and better. The more I study it, the more I truly love it! I'm pretty sure I like it better than French at this point, and it will hopefully be the language that I can use the most out in the mission field. I definitely have a lot to still learn, but that's the great part about it. We had our first Tahitian Training Resource Center this week, which is where we basically practice teaching to members who volunteer to come in and be taught. This guy, Brother Parsons, comes all the way down from Ogden to have us teach him. He served in Tahiti like 50 years ago, and back then no one spoke French, so he spoke Tahitian on his mission. He was also one of those guys who was just thrown onto the island, didn't even know how to say hello, and still served and learned the language. He's an inspiring guy, and he's also picked up Samoan and Maori over the course of his life.When we taught him, he practically taught us much at the same time, just through his responses to our questions and his own great insights. I love the TRC, its one of my favorite parts of the week for sure.

Lessons are still going great. Definitely remembered to leave commitments this time! The Tahitian lessons are so awesome, because I truly realized during those lessons that the Spirit can still be so prominent, even if we have a hard time communicating. Our Tahitian investigator "Nohoaru" is pretty sweet, just our teacher Frere Asay role playing of course, but we still feel a love for him even if he's not a real investigator! I'm pretty excited to actually teach real investigators in Tahiti, because I can imagine the love for them being so much greater.

So on to why it was a mixed back. This week, one of those 24 hour stomach flu viruses has been sweeping the MTC once again. And I will say that I was lucky to dodge it, so far! Sister Chytraus, Sister Taylor and my companion Elder Lovelock were all stricken, in addition to tons of others in our zone. It was pretty scary, not gonna lie! Especially when we had the broadcast coming up on Sunday. I was praying so hard that I wouldn't get sick, and most of all get sick on that Sunday. My prayers seemed to have been heard, so I'm super grateful! But honestly, since Wednesday my stomach hasn't been sitting quite right. This food really isn't that appealing to me anymore I suppose. Either that or I am getting sick, just nothing's come up yet (and by up, I mean literally... "up"). We'll see what happens! All that matters is that I went to the broadcast on Sunday, so I'll be happy at this point, whether sick or healthy!

Elder Herring left for France this morning, along with about 15 others. I'm gonna miss that guy, and I was so lucky to have him in the same zone. He's gonna do so great out there, and France couldn't be luckier to have him. A faaitoito, to'u taetae!

Also a shout out to those who sent me packages! I would write you all back if I had your addresses, but since I don't I'll just say thank you! No kidding, those packages are so rad and always awesome for missionaries to get, and I totally love and appreciate you guys. Thanks so much!

So along the lines of the broadcast yesterday, I just want to stress the role of the member in missionary work. Without the members' help, work would be so much harder for the full-time missionaries. We count on you all so much for referrals and for your guidance. For one thing, don't be scared to share the gospel! Feel free to casually bring it up in conversation if you find appropriate, and never feel shy about inviting someone to a ward activity or to Church or to read a Book of Mormon. I look back and I feel so lame because I was totally shy to share the gospel before the mission! This gospel is a great thing, and is only good news, and the chances of sincerely offending somebody because of inviting them to do something is not very big. So, take a chance, it wouldn't hurt! Also, don't be afraid of the missionaries! Don't think that we don't need your help or anything, because we really do. Talk to us, go teach with us, go on splits, give us news, anything! We wanna be your friends, and your help is much needed. This is a golden age for missionary work, bigger than ever before, so like Russell M. Nelson said, catch the wave! Join in the effort to share this magnificent gospel, and bring others closer to Christ and bring them to the knowledge of the true plan of happiness for this life. Blessings are in store for those who do, and such work brings true happiness. I testify of this!

Anyway, I want to say I love you all, and I appreciate your love, prayers and letters. Don't forget me, especially because once I get to Tahiti post will be tough to receive. Keep on living well, mauruuru ia outou!

Ua here au ia outou,
Orometua Popo

Elder Ball

Please start writing Casey in Tahiti now.  It takes 3 weeks for letters to get to Tahiti.  It would be great if he got letters that first week supporting and encouraging him.  The address is:

Tahiti Papeete Mission
Elder Ball, Casey 
B.P. 93
Papeete, Tahiti 98713
French Polynesia

Write it like a regular letter/envelope but put on 3 stamps.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Ia ora na! (Greetings!) Week #7 in the MTC

Ia ora na, to'u mau hoa!

This week has been a solid week. Tahitian is going great, lessons are going somewhat great, and in 4 weeks we are finally gonna be in Tahiti! As much as I have loved the MTC, I'm way ready to get outta here and into the field.

As I said, the Tahitian has been going great. I'm really starting to nail the pronunciation on most everything, and I learn so much vocab every day. Everybody in the zone says that I'm the best at Tahitian, but I have no idea what they're talking about haha. We haven't even taught a lesson in Tahitian yet (today's the first one) so I don't see where they're coming from. Besides, if I were it would be thanks to the gift of tongues and the help of Heavenly Father. Something that I've seriously noticed is that the more I practice Tahitian, the more I understand French! After I got really tired of studying Tahitian, I decided to read from the Book of Mormon in French, and surprisingly I could understand everything in it! It was the craziest thing, and reading it aloud I was able to pronounce everything super well. The gift of toungues is real, and all we gotta do is work our hardest, be obedient and pray for help and it will come.

We had four other French lessons this week. Perhaps the biggest lesson we learned from one of our lessons was just on Saturday. We gave a super (and I mean super) good lesson on the Plan of Salvation to Frere Coulson. Everything was smooth, and the Spirit was definitely present. Then, at the end, I have no idea why but we didn't even give him a commitment. Maybe we wanted to finish up quick and duck out before we could ruin the lesson in any way? Haha either way, at the end Frere Coulson gave us our feedback and started with positives, saying how great the lesson was. Then he gave us our criticism, and straight up said "What were you THINKING? You just wasted and incredibly good lesson!" I felt pretty stupid, I gotta say. I'm pretty sure from now on Elder Lovelock and I won't  ever forget to commit him on anything. That lesson would have been perfect for committing him to baptism, but we'll get him on that next lesson for sure. Commitments are important, probably the most important goal of the lesson!

Elder Lovelock and I are starting to get much more unified in lessons. His French has improved so much since the beginning, and he doesn't need written lines anymore, as he can say things off the top of his head now. It's great stuff, and being more unified definitely invites the Spirit much more.

So something that I forgot to mention last week was that I was assigned to be district leader. Basically what I do is preside over the district during district counsel on Sundays, get mail and attend Branch Counsel to get the inside scoop on the zone. I had no idea that so much drama went on in our zone, and I have been really oblivious to the butting heads in some of the districts. For one thing, I'm really grateful to have such a chill, patient district with absolutely no problems with one another (so far!). Also, I'm grateful to have the opportunity to be more aware and receptive of any possible problems that may arise, so that I can serve and help those in my district. Since being assigned district leader, my love for my district has definitely increased, and I've been more aware of one another's feelings. It really isn't a hard assignment, but it really is a joy.

Last Tuesday we had the first devotional ever held at the Marriott Center. It was fantastic, and Mervyn B. Arnold of the Seventy spoke. His testimony is truly sincere, and I really felt his love for us. It was such a great experience, and I'm looking forward to the next devotional tomorrow.

The district and I made some new Tahitian friends! Elder Noho is going to Chicago, and he's one of the funniest guys ever, who has absolutely no stress and is receptive to the Spirit. I've practiced my Tahitian with him quite a few times, and when I mess up he just lets out the biggest, heartiest laugh. I love it! We also met another Tahitian sister going to Fiji, I cannot remember her name. All the missionaries going to Fiji are basically just accross the hall from us in our class building, and she comes over and talks to us all the time. Sister Trammell is in that room as well, and it's great to see familiar faces from the home stake from time to time.

Last night for film we watched The Testaments, that movie about the Nephites and how Christ came to visit them. The acting definitely isn't on par, but the Spirit really was! It was great because in my personal study I have been reading that same moment in 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon, and I've been having that same strong spiritual feeling I talked about before every time I read from it. It's amazing to think that the Savior loved these people so much that he decided to stay longer, just as he was about to depart, to bless every one of them. Jesus Christ lives, and he loves each and every one of us. He extends his love and mercy to all who are willing to recieve it and believe on Him.

Well, it's about time to wrap up, I'll put a couple pictures up.

1. Provo temple on a beautiful Monday morning. I'm really starting to grow attached to this temple, right next to the beautiful mountains.

2. Getting caught up in Tahitian! Book of Mormon and Preach My Gospel study.

Thank you everyone for you prayers and love! Feel free to send me some letters, I really want to hear from everyone, family and friends alike!

Ua here au ia outou,
Orometua Popo
Elder Ball

He’d love to hear from you:

Elder Casey David Ball
MTC Mailbox # 174
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793

Monday, June 10, 2013

Feelin good - Week #6 in the MTC

Ia ora na i teie poipoi!

Well, the first week of Tahitian is done! And it was definitely fun, difficult and enlightening. We started out just last Monday, saying simple stuff like greeting phrases. In later days we learned how to bear our testimony and say prayers. Now we already have the challenge to practice contacting a random other missionary in Tahitian every day this week. What I think of the language? It is surprisingly one of the most beautiful, flowing, yet powerful and unique languages I've ever heard. Just hearing my teachers speak in it is just amazing. I'll also say that it is much, much more difficult than I expected it to be... The first reason why, is the pronunciation can be so difficult, mostly for the Rs! Words like "faaho'i-faahou-hia mai"--which means restored--I can say no problem! But other words, like "maitiraa"--which means choice--I have trouble with, because the rolled R comes right after the I, and it's sort of a difficult combo. I'll get it soon enough! Second reason why it's difficult, is that there is so much vocabulary to memorize. It isn't like French where a lot of the words are actually similar with ones in English. It will be definitely my main focus to just pull out the flash cards and start memorizing vocab. The grammar is surprisingly pretty easy, the verb just always goes first, and the object last! For instance, "T haere nei ratou i te fare", or in direct translation, "go they to the house." Also, there are no conjugations for verbs, and there are tense markers at the beginning of every sentence-- "E" is future, "Te (verb) nei" is present and "Ua" is past or an indication of feeling. It's some pretty radical stuff, and I absolutely love it, just as much as French!

I've heard some great stories about Tahiti as well. Some awesome things like 5-foot tall stray dogs, sharks and eels swimming in the street gutters, ancient human sacrificial altars and poisonous foot-long centipedes that crawl into your bed during the day and wait... pretty sweet stuff. I've also heard more about how gracious the people are, and how anybody, even nonmembers, are super kind to the missionaries and feed them whenever. It will be a nice change of pace from San Francisco, I can tell you that!

The teaching has been going super awesome as well. Even if the lesson is a complete failure, we still learn a ton! We finally got an investigator with Frere Coulson, named Jean Christoph. We taught him two lessons this week, and our second lesson was one of those complete failures. We taught him about the Plan of Salvation, and when we talked about the fall of Adam somehow we just got way in too deep in doctrine, and he started to ask questions that we had no idea how to answer in French. And with a lack of time, we had to finish the lesson having gotten nowhere. Frere Coulson, as challenging as he is, gave us mercy when he gave us our feedback, and he told us to pretend like that lesson never happened and he gave us advice on how to explain it more efficiently and simply. Definitely a good learning experience.

So my companion and I decided to join the MTC choir. We had a pretty fun rehearsal last night, and we mostly joined because we learned there was a big event coming up that the choir was going to sing in. We learned yesterday that it will be for a Church broadcast about missionary work, at the Marriott Center, with the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve present. You could say I'm stoked! It will be on June 23rd, and it will be such an awesome moment. I can't wait!

This week we realized the reality of how much food we were going to be eating in Tahiti... All of our teachers gained at least 40 pounds on their missions. They would have like three huge dinners every night. Will that happen to me? Most likely... but you know what, I'm totally okay with that! If I have the opportunity to eat as much delicious food as these gracious people will give me, I'll take that opportunity! And when I come home, and walk/bounce/roll off the airplane, you might not recognize me at first, but just know that I will be happy. For as Jacob said in 2 Nephi 9:51, "Let your soul delight in fatness." ...True, that scripture might refer to spiritual well-being, but why not take it in a different, equally jolly point of view?

I'll also be happy because I will have served Heavenly Father and His children, and have brought them unto Christ, of course. Mosiah 2:17 is one of my favorite scriptures, and it says that "when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God." So if we want to express our love to God, one of the most genuine ways in which we can do that is through serving others, His children. We are all children of God, and we all have, in some way, a need to be served. I know that service is the source of happiness, and brings about true charity, and I'm so grateful for this opportunity to serve.

Well, it's been a great week, and another one to come! Thanks for all your love and letters, and I love you all! A fa'aitoito!

Ua here au ia outou,
Orometua Popo
Elder Ball

Write Casey at:
Elder Casey David Ball
MTC Mailbox # 174
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793

Monday, June 3, 2013

One month down! Week #5


Well, it's officially been a month out on the mission! Only 23 more to go! Not that I've been counting or anything... haha but this past week has been somewhat long, and a little tough, but nonetheless full of learning and growth.

I guess I'll start with the trip to San Francisco! We got up nice and early at 3 AM and rode a bus to the airport that was taking a bunch of Brazil missionaries there as well. Our flight left at around 6, and we got to San Francisco at around 6:45 Pacific time of course.I was assigned the travel leader, so I was given all of our directions for the group I was in, which consisted of half of my district and half of the other Tahitian district. I had a cell phone! It was pretty fun, and it was used to call our shuttle guy named Edgar, who wasn't a member but was used to driving the missionaries to the French Consulate. So he drove us around, and he dropped us off at the consulate. We had about a half an hour before our appointment, so we decided to try and proselyte right there downtown. And I'm gonna say right now, that it was not easy... Mad props to missionaries serving in the States! Seriously, every single person we talked to, which might have been around 15, turned us down. Very few were polite, more straight up gave us the cold shoulder, and maybe 5 who didn't even acknowledge us. It was tough, and discouraging!

After that sad state of affairs, we got our visas taken care of, then we went to Pier 39 for some lunch. Of course I had the clam chowder in a bread bowl! We tried to proselyte a little there, and people were much more friendly. We talked to this couple from New Zealand for a little bit, but they ended up not being interested. So, with no success at all and feeling somewhat disappointed, we called our shuttle and waited. But, while waiting, this cab drove up to the corner. The driver opens his window, and shouts, "Hey! You guys are missionaries of Jesus Christ!" and I replied, "Yep, we certainly are!" And my favorite part, he shouted back, "Y'all are lookin' GOOD!" Let me tell you, that was really nice to hear! He offered us a ride, and I said no thanks we got one coming, but that we had a quick message for him. I gave him a pass-along card and testified of Jesus Christ. He thanked me, and went on his way. I guess you could say it was a success! So we went off back home, with one pass-along card given away, and several left in the airplanes we rode in. It was a great learning experience. We rode the frontrunner back to the MTC, and at the first platform I ran into Markus Foote, as you probably saw on Facebook! That was pretty awesome. I love that guy!

Elder Ball and Markus Foote that day
I didn't take any pictures, for one reason because I forgot my camera, and for another reason I realized how much I didn't want to look like a tourist (like the Sisters sort of did, for example!), especially in my own city. Wouldn't really feel right!

Elder Ball's district -- all are going to Tahiti July 15

So as the week went on, and the first month passing, we really started to feel the burn. We committed Manuarii and Marc to baptism! Although, we have to prepare them and help them overcome drug problems, family problems and whatnot. We are also trying to get another "investigator" by practicing our contacting. Frere Coulson is not going easy on us! Both times we practiced contacting he turned us down. It's frustrating for sure, but each time I gain so much more knowledge and insight on how to be persuasive and more in tune to the Spirit. This work is not easy, but very worth it.

The French is getting better and better, and we are pretty much speaking it all the time. When I want to say something now, my first instinct is to say it in French, or "Franglais". It really is a beautiful language, and I do love to speak it. However, today is the long awaited day when we begin to officially learn Tahitian! I've taken a few looks in the Tahitian language books that we have and sort of have a small head start, but I definitely am looking forward to the help of our teachers. They'll be teaching all the lessons in French, and absolutley no English, so I'll still definitely be working on the French! I'm feeling the burn!

For gym I've still been playing volleyball. On Thursday this week, we had our schedule changed around for a bit because we had a few observers from Church Headquarters in our classroom, so we had a different gym time. I ended up playing volleyball with a bunch of Tongans... that was the best fun I've had in any gym time!! Those guys were so good, and super nice, and playing with them brought me up to a new level. They would set up perfect opportunities to spike, and gave me tons of pointers. And they were really impressed with how high I could jump. Made me feel good! Hopefully I'll get some more opportunities to play in Tahiti on P-days or something.

So this week, I realized how crazy insightful and thought-provoking the hymn If You Could High To Kolob was. I never really cared for it much, until I heard and read the lyrcis! I'll share them with you:

If you could hie to Kolob
In the twinkling of an eye,
And then continue onward
With that same speed to fly,
Do you think that you could ever,
Through all eternity,
Find out the generation
Where Gods began to be?

Or see the grand beginning,
Where space did not extend?
Or view the last creation,
Where Gods and matter end?
Methinks the Spirit whispers,
"No man has found 'pure space,'
Nor seen the outside curtains,
Where nothing has a place."

The works of God continue,
And worlds and lives abound;
Improvement and progression
Have one eternal round.
There is no end to matter;
There is no end to space;
There is no end to spirit;
There is no end to race.

There is no end to virtue;
There is no end to might;
There is no end to wisdom;
There is no end to light.
There is no end to union;
There is no end to youth;
There is no end to priesthood;
There is no end to truth.

There is no end to glory;
There is no end to love;
There is no end to being;
There is no death above.
There is no end to glory;
There is no end to love;
There is no end to being;
There is no death above.

For me, it's awesome how the glory of God is endless, and how important persevering to the end, "improvement and progression," is important for all of us. This life is the time for us to grow, and eventually recieve the glory of God after this life, according to our good works here on Earth. We must recognize the omnipotence and omniscience of God, and this World, solar system, and the perfect order of the universe is proof of the grand design that our Heavenly Father has put together.

Anyway, that's what I've got for this week! Thanks for all your letters and love, and I miss you all. A fa'aitoito!

Ua here au ia oe,
Orometua Popo
Elder Ball

Elder Casey David Ball
MTC Mailbox # 174
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793