Monday, July 29, 2013

Missions are tough, but Worth it!! (Week #2 in Papeete)

Ia ora na, to'u mau hoa!

So, Ill be quick but sincere at the same time. Life is tough these days, and the work here in Pirae 2 is actually a little slow. Our only progressing investigator, Vetiare, cancelled on us twice this week, and all our other lessons with inactive members and the few other investigators we have were few or cancelled. So we spent a lot of time talking to everyone! Door to door, street contacting, encouraging members to find people. Usually members don't have such a hard time doing that, but for some reason they are. Its no biggie, we'll change things soon. Of course, its just kind of frustrating at first because teaching is the best part of missionary work. It's also all that I can do in terms of the languages!

Speaking of which, they're coming along... I think! I'm starting to actually tell the difference between French and Tahitian! In fact I think Tahitian would be easier to understand than French, if it weren't for the fact that all the people who speak Tahitian are old and have no teeth. Kind of makes it hard to tell what they're saying. But we've been speaking about half and half, I would say! There's plenty of both, and it gives me a chance to practice both pretty frequently.

I ate fafaru for the first time on Thursday! Basically what it is is raw fish, fermented in super old, gnarly sea water. And it straight up smells like an outhouse. But not gonna lie, it didn't taste so bad! It's just a Tahitian traditional food, and its kind of the thing you gotta do if you're new, kind of like an orientation. And I ate a bunch of it, like 6 big pi├Ęces. So everyone gotta kick out of it. Id eat it again for sure!

So a scripture that's been on my mind this whole week has been D&C 10:5, which goes along the lines of "Pray always, so that you man come off conquerer." This week I've been weighed down by a lot of feelings of uselessness and confusion, mostly concerning the language and partly concerning the slowness of the work right now. This prayer really helped me to haatane, man up and keep pushing on. The thing is, prayer is our wild card to play against the adversary when we feel discouraged or are tempted. The opportunity to talk to our Heavenly Father and ask Him for His aid is such a blessing, and He most definitely reaches out to us and lifts us up when we feel down. His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, suffered these same feelings and more for us. So with prayer, I've been given the mindset to keep moving on, the comfort of the Holy Ghost, and that through the atonement of Christ I can overcome any challenge in thiw world. And so can everyone else! Prayer and the blessing of the atonement is given to everyone.

Well that's about all I got, and some cool pictures to go with it!

I miss you all, and I got some letters this week! Thank you all, ua here au ia outou!
Elder Ball
Last day with the district!

One example of the hills we have to ride up on our bikes...

...and one example of the views we get to see! That's the other island Moorea off in the distance.


Food! That's fafaru in that tub there... grody

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Oh man! Now in Tahiti (week #1 in Papeete Pirae 2)

Ia ora na!!!

Alright first off a disclaimer, I'm typing on a French keyboard, so if some of my words make no sense, I'm sincerely sorry!

With Elder and Sister Hemmings from the Tahiti mission office
Well, I made it to Tahiti! Let me just say... man it's awesome. Weather is beautiful, mountains are beautiful, and the people are absolutely beautiful! Some of the most kind and gracious people I've ever met, even the nonmembers.

I guess I'll start with the travel! All went well, and we made it safely. We met some friends along the way, including a member family from Texas going to Tahiti on vacation and a guy named Mike who served in Tahiti in 2000 who's going back to visit, It was pretty awesome! We got to Tahiti and realized some of our bags were not there... including mine! It was kind of stressful, but they turned up the next day, so it was all good in the end. The flight was one of the nicest I've ever been on! Pretty good food and comfy chairs. Not a bad deal at all.

Mike Buckner the former missionary who Casey referred to as the guy who served in 2000 took this picture and emailed it to us with a very nice email: "I had the opportunity to meet your missionaries in LA, and took the same flight with them to Tahiti. My name is Mike Buckner and I served my mission in Tahiti in 2000-2002. I was on my way back to Tahiti to visit some people when I ran into these fine missionaries. They were each so excited and anxious to go, and would not talk to each other in English. I was so happy for them as I knew what it was like, and the many adventures that lie ahead. They made it safely and I told them I would send you a picture of when they got in. "  This was so nice to receive!

So the first day after arrival, we met President Sinjoux and his wife. They are super nice, and very humble and intelligent people. Clearly called of God! We took care of business like our bank accounts and visa requirements as well, Then, we got our assignments. My assignment is... Pirae 2! It's a neighborhood of North Papeete. It's not next to the beach however... The Lord knows what tempts me! So, we're closer to the mountain. and that means a lot of hills that we get to bike up and down. It's way fun, especially going down! My trainer is Elder Martinson, from Salt Lake City. This will be his last transfer before going home. He speaks French really well, and Tahitian pretty well too. He really helps me with the language and correct pronunciation, grammar and phrases. All in all hes super nice and patient with me.

Speaking of the language... well, lets just say that I'm lost, all the time! When I came here I couldn't understand a lick of what people were saying. I couldn't tell if they were speaking French or Tahitian or either for that matter! They have such a thick accent, so different from conventional French, and they like to mix French and Tahitian together often. Now, I'm at the point where I can distinguish between French and Tahitian, but I still can't understand a whole lot. I can teach lessons though, and that's about all that matters right now!

Teaching is pretty amazing! We have a good amount of investigators, I'm not exactly sure how many, but Ill talk about some of them. One is a woman named Vetiare, who lives pretty high up in the hills. She's so ready to be baptized, but she needs to get married to her boyfriend first, they live together and have two children. However, their marriage is scheduled for December... so we're gonna try and persuade her to move that a little closer. We don't want to rush, but that's just so far away. We also teach a man named Jacques, he's an older guy who's a little depressed, but he has such strong faith and prays often, and I can really see him being baptized within this transfer. also we have Alec and Kahaia, another couple who live together, and they are way fun to teach as well. Teaching is definitely what makes the mission awesome, the Spirit is so strong and it's so much fun to help change lives.

The food here, its pretty bomb! And thereis lots of it! Usually mornings are pretty light, just a bowl of pops, but after noon we stop by peoples houses and they give us all kinds of fruits to eat and pastas and meats to much on, so by the end of the day we're full and happy. Good, good stuff. Fruit is absolutely delicious here, and so is the fish. Nothing too crazy like fafaru yet but we'll see soon!

Life is great, not much time left so I gotta finish up. Here's a picture, i'll send more next week, and I love you all! Life is beautiful!

Elder Ball

Please write me: (Put 3 stamps on your envelope.)

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

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Soo pumped!! Leaving for Tahiti: Week #11

Ia ora na!

This is it! In less than 48 hours we will be just heading off to Tahiti. I'm so stoked and excited, but not gonna lie a little nervous too. Never been out of the country before, so now's my time to sound like an idiot and do the best I can!

This week has been our best our entire stay here at the MTC. Despite knowing that we're leaving soon, we've worked our absolute hardest and best that we could. I've been managing to speak much more Tahitian, and in the free time that I have I listen to conference talks online in Tahitian, and am starting to understand a good portion of it. I know it will be harder in Tahiti (that's what everyone says) but I still feel capable of speaking the important stuff, and that's the lessons! I'm mostly just nervous about the casual talk and trying to get my point across. Chances are I'll get a native Tahitian companion as my trainer who doesn't speak any English!

Casey's District in the MTC

We also had our In-Field Training this week. It was much more enjoyable than I actually expected, because so many other missionaries thought it was super boring. It is a fairly long 8-hour seminar with different segments, but it was great. I learned many super important things like planning well and setting goals, getting help through members and how to find people who are ready to hear the gospel. I felt the Spirit, and it made me even more pumped to get out to the field and get to work.

Well, that's about all I have, I don't have much time because I have to go pack up a lot of things, but I promise that the next email will be chock-full of sick stuff, like pictures and embarassing stories and details about where I'm serving, my companion, etc. This is the real deal, getting out to the field! I have loved the MTC so much, and I can gladly say that I'll look back on this experience and be so happy I had it. My testimony has grown and my ability to teach, speak and listen to the Holy Ghost have improved greatly. I know Jesus Christ lives! He's our Savior and Redeemer, and I'm so glad to represent Him in this glorious work.

A faaitoito, to'u mau hoa! Ua anaanatae au ia haere atu i Tahiti ia poro haere i Ta'na evanelia.

Ua here au ia outou,
Orometua Popo
Elder Ball

Monday, July 8, 2013

One more week! Week #10 in MTC

Ia ora na!

This is it! It's the final stretch of the MTC, and we're just getting ready to go!

We got our travel plans on Friday, and man did it feel good to get them. The fact that we're going to Tahiti has finally hit us hard, and we're so stoked. We leave on July 15th at 3:30 in the morning, get on a flight to Los Angeles at 7:15 then wait at Los Angeles during a 6 hour layover. Then, at 2:30 we get on our flight to Tahiti! This is incredibly exciting for us, we've been waiting so long for these travel plans and now that we know when and what to expect, we sitting on the edge of our seats every day. However, we do have one whole week left, and we gotta make the best of it while we can. We've been speaking as much French as we can every day, with no room for English, and we try our best to speak Tahitian as well. It's the final stretch, and we gotta finish strong.

It's been a great week this week! We had a great opportunity to celebrate the 4th of July. We had a little patriotic service that night, with a few speakers and hymns. Then we watched 17 Miracles, a pretty intense movie about the Willie/Martin Handcart Company and all those pioneers heading West. Pretty sweet movie, and it made me appreciate the pioneers so much more. Then we watched the fireworks that were shooting off from the BYU stadium. It was pretty sweet, and a nice little break from the norm. I've never felt as much patriotic spirit as I did that night. It was probably my favorite 4th of July yet, and it made me realize how much I love this country. But with that being said, did I mention how much I want to leave the country to Tahiti? ;)

Like I said, as we're drawing near to a close here at the MTC the work has been getting more intense. Our teachers have been doing these exercises with us, in which we have to teach one of the lessons in just three minutes, in both French in Tahitian. It is extremely difficult, because you have to know the doctrine well enough in order to simplify it, yet teach it clearly, invite the Spirit, and bring the person we're teaching closer to Christ. It's actually pretty tiring, but such good practice, and we know the lessons super well now. I've been more successful in this exercise with Tahitian than French. I guess it's because with French I tend to talk and describe things a little too much, and with Tahitian I don't know how to say as much so I can't really do that. It's been fun, yet difficult, no lie.

To be honest, P-Days have been pretty boring these days. The temple is closed all month for some renovation, so we don't have that in the morning. We basically just do laundry, write home, eat some food and just sit around all day. We can't do fun things like play in the gym or anything, so we just kind of sit and suck our thumbs. Today is our last P-Day here though, so I can guarantee next P-Day will be just a little more exciting.

One thought that I loved that I wanted to share was something I read over in Mosiah, in the Book of Mormon. I thought it was great because it really applied to me as a missionary, but honestly it goes for everybody. It's in Mosiah 2:22, when King Benjamin is addressing his people:

"And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you."

This is awesome, because all that God requires us is to keep His commandments. It's simple, and it's how we can be happy. Keeping the commandments and following Jesus Christ is what will keep us in the straight and narrow path, which will lead to eternal happiness in Heaven in addition to this life. I heard someone say that the moment when someone sees the commandments as protection than restriction is on the path of righteousness and happiness. It's so true, and I'm sure as I get to Tahiti, I'll see the difference between those who are obedient and those who aren't. We have these commandments from God for a reason, and He gave them to us because He knows us best and wants what is best for us. There is most often heartbreak, sorrow and loss of self-control with those who fail to recognize the importance of being obedient, and yet such exceeding joy, self worth and a sense of accomplishment when we align ourselves with God's will. It will give us the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and make us feel at peace.

Well, that's what I've got for this week! I'll probably write this Saturday before I leave, but after that you can expect a lot of sweet, new info and experiences. I'll guarantee quite a few pictures as well! This is the moment I've been stoked for for such a long time. If you send me a letter after Wednesday, it would probably be best to send it to my actual mission address as opposed to the MTC address. That way, I won't leave the MTC and miss the letter by a day or so. With that being said, I'm excited! I love and miss you all, and I'll get back to you once I'm in paradise! Je vous aime!

Ma te here,
Orometua Popo

Elder Ball

Monday, July 1, 2013

Ready to go! Week #9

Ia ora na!

This week was another pretty good week. Nothing amazing really happened, to be honest, so I'm sorry if this letter ends up being shorter than usual!

I guess it just means I'm ready to get out of here! It's now been two months here in the MTC, and the Tahitians have officially been here longer than anyone else. I've loved my time in the MTC, but things are definitely becoming just a little bit stale. Our district is still getting along super fine, so there's no drama or anything lame like that. This whole time I guess it's seemed that going to Tahiti would never really happen, and that we'd be in here forever. It still kind of feels that way even though we leave in two weeks. But on Friday, we will hopefully get our travel plans, so that will wake us up!

The language is improving still. Tahitian is seriously the best language ever. We've been learning how on different islands, like in the Tuamotus north of Tahiti, there's different dialects of Tahitian that stray from the traditional language. The languages there are called Tuamotu and even a little bit of Maori. In one of our huge language books it teaches us how to speak a little bit of those languages, so in some free time I've been exploring those languages. They're pretty similar to Tahitian, with just some different letters. Chances are if I'm assigned up there I won't be speaking French or Tahitian, but Tuomotu or Maori! One of my biggest hopes is getting assigned somewhere only Tahitian speaking, but we'll see. Anywhere will be awesome all the same! Lessons in Tahitian have been going great. It's a very simple language, and it's hard to describe things super beautifully, but the Spirit is still prominent while speaking this language in lessons.

MTC Championship softball team
We had sister Janice Kapp Perry come for our devotional on Tuesday. She was the one who wrote several primary songs and "As Sisters in Zion". It was a pretty fun devotional, because she had us sing some primary songs, and it brought me back to the days of being a kid! It was pretty awesome to have that opportunity to look back where I was then, and then look at where I am now, and feel like "yep, I'm where I thought I'd be. I'm not doing too bad in life right now!" Haha just a good comforting thought!

So I have avoided the flu plague that spread through here! But I did totally have some intestinal blockage... probably the worst I've ever had in my life. I still have some problems, but I've been taking every laxative known to man and things are improving! It wasn't really a huge trial, so it didn't hinder my work or anything. Definitely uncomfortable though, let me tell ya! I'm pretty sure it was because of the move of the cafeteria to the gym for a few days, because they were using the normal cafeteria area for all the new mission presidents who were coming through. In the gym, they literally had no fruits or vegetables, and basically just soda and water for drink, like they were trying to constipate me or something. They succeeded... but I'm just about over that. We're back in the normal cafeteria now where I can drink the famous orange juice. Fun stuff!

Well, I'm sorry but that's just about all I got! Our district is great, and my companionship with Elder Lovelock is awesome. It's just gotten better and better every week. Good unity between us, so it's really been helping in the lessons. Anyway, I wanted to share a scripture in Mormon  chapter 9, verse 21: "Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth." This scripture is awesome, and it's in a really emotional part of the Book of Mormon when the Nephites have been destroyed and Moroni is the sole survivor. He teaches really profound, hopeful doctrine, and this is one of them. Every single person has the opportunity to talk to their Heavenly Father, and ask of Him the righteous desires of their heart. All they have to do is pray. And it's a promise, that every person will receive an answer to their righteous prayers, in one way or another. I've tried it and tested it, and it is true. That's how I came to know that the Book of Mormon is true, I asked and I received and answer through the Holy Ghost. I'm almost finished reading the Book of Mormon again, and it has been one of the best reading experiences of my life.

That's it; I'll have more to write about next week hopefully! Keep the letters coming, thank you all for your love! A faaitoito i te mau mahana atoa. Ua here au ia outou! [This one means "I love you."]

Ua oaoa ia outou,
Orometua Popo
Elder Ball

Write Elder Ball. He'll be in Tahiti soon. (use 3 stamps on your envelope):

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