Monday, September 30, 2013

Beach soccer, ramming, and lots of chow mein (Week #11 of training in Papeete)

Ia ora na!
First off, a pretty slow week... all due to the beach soccer world cup which took place here in Papeete. Because of that, there has been a two week vacation for all work and school... ridiculous! So this week just about all of our amis (investigators) have been out of town, which means barely any lessons! Elder Martinson and I have been able to find some inactives to teach, but other than that, the most part has been contacting and door to door in some neighborhoods waaaay up high in the mountains. As usual, we didn't get anything from that either, other than a bible bash or two from hardcore Protestants. So it was soo slow this week, but it was great because we could tell when Tahiti scored a goal just from hearing  the cheering from every single house in the valley. Yeah, its serious stuff here, beach soccer.
I would also like to comment on the amount of Chinese food we had this week. Chao mein every single night, and im not kidding. I never expected how much Chinese food there would be in Tahiti, but truthfully there really is a ton of Chinese influence here. Its crazy... when can I have some fish again?

Anyway, I'm a little late sending this cuz we had a special activity today. To everyone who said I wouldn't be able to go in, or at least on, the water on my mission, you are all sadly mistaken. That's right, we went ramming (rowing) today, approved by mission president and everything. It was way fun, and no I didn't "accidentally fall in", my conscience got the better of me. But looking back, that would have been nice. It was definitely a nice break from the norm, and a good chance to regain some sanity and relax a bit after a tough week. Only in Tahiti!
This week, with the few lessons we had, I really focused on trying to listen to what the person we're teaching have to say. Many times before, I kind of get sidetracked when the ami is talking, trying to think of something good to say in advance. But honestly, that doesn't work nearly as well as just listening with love. I found, as it says in Preach My Gospel, that when I listen, I don't even have to think of what to say. The words just kind of come out, and they're much more helpful than what I would have said if I didn't listen. Listening is everything! Its really helped me grow in my teaching ability for sure, and its something that I wish i had done and should have done much sooner.
So some pics, and I'm out! Sorry I haven't had much to write, but next week is my last week of training... we'll see what exciting news we'll have next week.
1. Just drinking a coconut. Pretty tasty
2. Going ramming, missionary style
3. Hanging out by the ocean, dang look at that hair. No worries, it'll be all gone tomorrow
4. Other group of missionaries coming in. Didn't end up getting one of my group, a bummer but whatevs
Love you all, stay fresh and a faaitoito!

Elder Ball

Monday, September 23, 2013

Feelin chilly (Week #10 in Papeete Pirae 2)

Ia ora na tatou!
Another week gone by just like that, and that makes 10 weeks in Tahiti for me. Some good things happened this week, and the potential is building up big time.
First of all, the weather here is nuts right now. The past 3 days have been pretty rainy, and today has been the worst with crazy thunder and lighting and hurricane status wind. That makes biking around pretty fun, getting completely soaked in not just sweat, but rain and mud and who knows what else. I realised the dangers of not having a mud guard on my bike... the backs of some of my shirts are completely brown! So yeah, I went out and bought one of those today. Today its been unusually cold too, so I brought out my sweatshirt for the first time. Needless to say, its chilly for us all... and its probably not any lower than 65 degrees!
So yeah, we got a new investigator, Patrick! He's pretty chill (just like everyone else I guess) and he was referred to us by the Elders in Pirae 1. He has a pretty solid testimony already of Joseph Smith, and he's read some of the Book of Mormon, so that's a great start for us! Only problem is, his job is pretty demanding so he can only meet once a week and can never make it to Church. So it'll be a little slow, but hes someone that we can focus on.
We engaged Ruta to baptism for November 16, a day that would be comfortable for her but would still push her, because she cant meet with us that often either. She said she would think on it and talk with her family... but she does want to get baptized! Its not really fixed, but shes feeling really motivated to go through with it. Were hoping that Orama will be encouraged by her example as well.
We also got a ton of references from the ward council yesterday... about 20! Bishop got everyone into doing this program that helps them focus on the missionary work, reading certain scriptures about it and also thinking about, praying about, and talking to certain friends that they would like to have receive the missionary lessons. They've been digging it, and now so have we! I can say that coordination with the members is the absolute BEST way to improve the missionary work in any ward. We'll see how things go with all these references next week.
I wanna just say that I love the Book of Mormon, so much. There's a chapter in there that could help with any situation. One that really hit me this week is now one of my all time favorites, Ether 12. It talks all about faith, and how it can truly bring about miracles, and as Moroni states it, "hope for a better world." The best is verse 27, when the Lord speaks to Moroni: "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their aweakness. I bgive unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my cgrace is sufficient for all men that dhumble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make eweak things become strong unto them." I realize that I have so many weaknesses, and so does everyone in this life. But with faith and humility, we can overcome these weaknesses and make them strong.
Yeah, that's a wrap for this week. Things are improving, and were gonna continue to pray that it will! Love you all, keep it cool in the states!
Je vous aime,
Elder Ball

Monday, September 16, 2013

Haere maru, haere papu (Week #9 in Papeete Pirae 2)

Bonjour mes amis!
After much toil under the Tahiti sun, things are lookin up!
Elder Martinson and I were able to fill our schedule up this week with some inactive lessons and good service projects. The inactive lesson were pretty awesome, a lot of these people have been inactive for a super long time and had forgotten most of the Gospel, so we got to testify of the restoration and the Book of Mormon quite a bunch, which is absolutely my favorite thing to teach! The Spirit was strong many a time, and it was awesome to see their face light up as they remembered why they were a member to begin with.
We had a couple of service projects this week, and they were both helping the cement walls of a house. Not easy work, especially when the cement mixer breaks and we gotta do i manually with a shovel! It was super funny though, because at one point Elder Martinson and I put all the water, gravel and cement into the mixer, and we thought we locked it into place (because it pivots from side to side)... but I guess it slipped or something. So I was just about ready to head over and eat a bit when I felt cement all over my foot... and I looked and the cement mixer had tipped over and spilled the cement all over the ground. Elder Martinson looked at me and said "what did you do?!" and I said back "no, what did YOU do?!" We had to hurry and shovel it all back into the mixer before it dried right there on the ground. All the other guys were teasing us, saying "you white boys..." yeah, pretty funny story.
All in all, these inactive lessons and service projects got us in contact with some potential investigators. We've talked to them a little about our message, and they were pretty interested. So we've planted the seed, no we just gotta water it and make it grow, we got hopes for next week! Also another great milestone: Ruta came to church yesterday! we were stoked beyond all belief, and she really loved it. We're gonna try to fix a date for baptism this next week. Things are looking good for her despite opposition from her Grandpa.
Aside from the work, its starting to gradually get more and more hot, and more and more humid at that... Its making biking up all the hills a little more difficult! On Saturday, it was super humid, more humid than usual. Those are the perfect conditions for these flying bugs called manumanu to come out and start mating I guess. So that night, these bugs were swarming all over the place; the air was literally thick with them. We were riding our bikes, and I'm pretty sure I opened my mouth for one second and like 5 bugs flew into my mouth. When we got back to the house, there were bugs crawling all up in our shirts and our pockets. It was gnarly, and it'll probably happen again.
The work is slowly starting to pick up, it looks like. The members are getting a little more motivated to do missionary work. The bishop has been really emphasizing it lately, so that's great for us. The DMP has been sick for the last two weeks though, so we haven't had a whole lot of help from him unfortunately.
A Tahitian saying that has helped me chill out a little and not stress is "haere maru, haere papu." It means go slowly, go surely, in other words chill out. Its like it says Mosiah 4:27, "And see that all these things are done in wisdom and aorder; for it is not requisite that a man should run bfaster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order." Its still possible to be smart and take it easy a little as to not burn out, but still be diligent. Something good to think about.
That's about it for the week. I love you all, I will do all that I can to bring good news next week!
Ua here au ia outou,

Elder Ball

Monday, September 9, 2013

In the Lord's hands (Week #8 in Papeete Pirae 2)

Ia ora na ia outou!
Alrighty, I'm not really sure where to start off. I guess ill just say that this week wasn't much better than last week. In fact it was worse! But my attitude has changed. Ive felt better, and kind of different this week I guess you could say.
First of all, things aren't good with investigators right now. We lost our only fixed baptism, Vaitiare. She decided to split up with her fiance, and she moved back home with her parents about half an hour south, in Paea. She did it all without telling us too, so we were kinda surprised when we heard about it from her would have been in-laws at Church yesterday. The good thing is, she's not in concubinage anymore! Sad thing is, shes not in our area anymore. We haven't been able to get a hold of her yet, but were hoping that shes still clinging to the gospel and the desire to be baptised.
Ruta, Orama and Lani aren't looking so great either. The fear of being rejected by their Protestant families is starting to take hold of them. Its hard, were gonna keep doing our best with them and help encourage them to press forward. Not a whole lot of opportunities to meet with them this week.
Julie and William ducked out too. Turns out they were in it just to use the church gym for their reception. Apparently bishop made a deal with them that if they wanted to use the gym, they had to take lessons with us. So we taught em twice, and we taught them the truth. We were just kind of thrown in an awkward situation.
Still no sign of Tehaunui, we haven't been able to find him all week.
So after all that, I guess you could say were at square one. On the bright side, we cant get much lower than we can now! But in all honesty, its hard. Its so hard to lose investigators like this. So this next week, its mostly concentrating on Ruta Orama and Lani and the rest is just searching and motivating the members to help find people.
This week, Ive had a lot of time to think and to study. I realized that I'm out here on a mission to do the Lords work. This isn't my work, its his, so I gotta submit myself to him and just do my best. I remembered that before the mission I wanted to be tested and stretched more than I ever have before, more than any crazy school exam or any water polo game or whatever. And Heavenly Father is certainly making that a guarantee right now; this mission is the hardest thing I've ever done so far. So I've been praying super hard, acknowledging that this is definitely some hard stuff and that I'm being tested and getting what I wanted, all the while submitting myself to the difficulty and asking Heavenly Father for His help. Its been a faith-building, patience-growing week for me, and I'm positive that it won't stop there.
So I'm still pretty content, and growing more and more headstrong. Its hard to say it, but I really do love this work. Despite the difficulty, I would rather be here than anywhere else right now, because I feel the influence of the Holy Ghost every day, and that is something that I would never give up.

I love you all! Just some pics: me posing like an idiot in front of our house, Elder Martinson and I, Eugene the crazy homeless guy who does our yard work for free and who sleeps behind the chapel, a poisonous centipede on my arm, and a sweet view from the 'hood of Nahoata.
Peace out! Still livin life, keep the faith!
A faaitoio,

Elder Ball
Elder Ball would love your letters of encouragement!  Please write him (Put 3 stamps on your envelope.):

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

Monday, September 2, 2013

Feelin' the burn (Week #7 in Papeete Pirae 2)

Ia ora na ia outou!

Alrighty, like it says in the subject of the email, things are gettin hot and we're starting to feel the burn, physically and mentally. First physically: i kinda got a sunburn, my first one here. And by kinda a mean pretty gnarly. I can explain Mom, we were playing rugby on P day at our usual time, 3 o'clock. I never put sunscreen on cuz its pretty late, but there was something different that day. It was hot, wayy hot, and the sun was cookin. So that night before I realize it I'm totally cooked, my face was completely roasted. But it turned out nice, kinda faded into a nice tan. So I wont complain! But ill learn from that experience... ├ža faisait mal.

The work is still slow as well. We've worked our absolute hardest this week. We went on splits with members visiting every inactive member and every old investigator. There were two inactives who accepted a lesson and came to Church. Everyone else has no interest of coming back, or they're just incredibly lazy. I can't believe they think they can't come back cuz they "don't have any shoes" or cuz they "don't have a wife"... excuses excuses, But as frustrating as it is, I could never have real malice or dislike for these people. I love em all, their so incredibly chill and nice it's ridiculous. They just need a little kick in the pants to get em moving.

Investigator lessons have been a mixed bag. Tehaunui and Vaitiare have been gone every time we tried to come over, and they wont answer their phones so we dont know what's up. But the three new women we found two weeks ago are doin awesome! Corine hasn't been there this past week, but another friend, named Ruta, joined in the lessons with Orama and Lani. She actually took the lessons before, but ducked out of the baptism last minute because she was scared to offend her family. But we committed them to baptism this week and they're starting to read the Book of Mormon. We can see that Ruta is really starting to feel what she felt before, and that's so sweet. We found a good member friend for them too, and they all hit it off well. Things are lookin awesome for them.

Other than those lessons, not very many investigators who progress. Not many investigators in general I guess! I won't lie, this week was tough for me. I've been studying so hard and working so hard to understand these languages and doing my best to teach and Elder Martinson and I have been rollin everywhere to find people, and by last night I was just wiped out. This P day could have come a little faster! All the other Elders were telling me to just relax and have faith that things would get better, and to be patient. Patience is definitely not my strength, I would be so content if results just came like that. But missionary work is seldom like that. So that's my goal, just chill out and enjoy this work. I realized that my impatience could impede on my happiness, and that's no good.

Anyway, this week will be the change for me! I'm gonna work hard but not stress to bad, and have hope and faith that if we work hard things will speed up eventually! Thank you all for your love and support, and I love you all! I promise pictures will come next week. I just gotta take some.


Elder Ball