Monday, October 28, 2013

Life is tight on Tubuai (Tubuai - week #3)

Ia ora na!
Yeah, not a bad week! Definitely some great accomplishments for me and Elder Firuu, some fun things and good personal strides of success.
First of all, two new baptisms fixed for November! We got it for Tatu, November 16th, and Keali for the week after. The lesson with Tatu... That was such a great lesson! We went in with President Noel, the Branch President of Mahu, with nothing planned because he had already received every lesson. We wanted to just talk with him and see what his worries were. He ended up wanting to learn about baptism again, so we taught him and explained it to him. He then said he was afraid of it, and that he didn’t want to sin and fall again. Perhaps a great moment of spiritual worth for me, was when I really felt prompted to share a scripture that I had read a week earlier, Alma 7:14-15 I believe? I didn’t really remember it; all I knew is that it talked about baptism. It ended up talking about fearing not, and trusting in the atoning sacrifice of Christ to cleanse us of our sins, through repentance and baptism. Man was that perfect! Elder Firuu and I worked together so well to testify in that lesson as well, the Spirit was strong, and all in all it convinced Tatu to go with it, and fear not. I’m so happy that I was just able to be an instrument in the Lords hands, and be guided by the Spirit to say what needed to be said.

Keali is the 9 year old son of an inactive member, M, who we've been working on to come back, and he’s been doing pretty good coming to Church. We're hoping to help him get ready and worthy to baptize his son, and bring the family back into full activity. That would be awesome, and definitely a blessing to see. It’s such a blessing now to have these baptisms fixed, it’s amazing!
We're finding a lot of potential here, thanks to the references we're receiving! We found the F family, F and his wife H, and we started the lessons with them last week. Such humble, nice people, who let two funny-dressed kids into their home to teach them about God. We have hope for them, they aren’t too familiar with the LDS church, but that a good thing that we're there right?
The Tahitian is coming, slowly but surely. I’m starting to understand a little bit more if I listen super carefully. The speaking is getting better as well, still miles ahead of my understanding. Eventually it’ll even out.
Sleeping Man Mountain in Tubuai.
Today we got to go and hike the mountain on the island! We didn’t get to the top, but it was fun nonetheless, and were gonna go a little earlier next week so we can climb the whole thing. This island still continues to amaze me with its beauty. There are tons of cool things. Like random tortoises... yeah, don’t mess with em. I picked one up, and it totally bit my thumb and wouldn’t let go. I got a good penny-sized chunk of dead flesh just chillin on my thumb now, gnarliest blister I’ve ever had. Yeah, lots of fun things!
This week I had the time to read the book Our Search For Happiness by M. Russell Ballard. Reading that book was excellent. From such a point of view, it made me realize how much of a blessing this restored gospel is. The true priesthood of God, which is the heavenly power held by prophets of old and Christ and his apostles to perform sacred ordinances, like baptism for instance; it is on Earth again! It’s thanks to this restoration that we have the knowledge that God has not ceased to communicate with His children. He loves us, and has from the beginning of time. It was man, not God, who decided that no one could communicate with Him after the death of Christ and the apostles; that all changed with the humble prayer of a 14 year old boy, who truly believed that he would receive an answer, and did. This gospel brings comfort, joy, and an eternal perspective on things. It helps us understand why we are here, where we come from and where we are going. It gives us a greater sense of self-worth and of our true potential. It helps us avoid danger and the heartache of bad decisions. I am so happy to be part of this Church, and to share the truth with everyone as a servant of the Lord. I know this Church is the true Church of Jesus Christ, restored to the Earth by a prophet.
Well, that it for this week! I love you all and whether you are a member of the Church or not, I encourage you all to read the Book of Mormon. If you want to understand who God is, what Christ has done for us, or find guidance to make life better, read it. Plain and simple, it’s through reading that book that you can find answers.
A faaitoito!
Elder Ball

Monday, October 21, 2013

This place is magic (Tubuai - week #2)

Ia ora na tatou!
It’s been a good week here in Tubuai! We're still getting adjusted to the new area but things are starting to get moving.
We spent a lot of time this week going around with the Mission leaders of both branches to meet all the members and find where inactives and investigators live, etc. It’s been great, the members here are truly awesome Everyone is so engaged in missionary work and totally love sharing the gospel and giving references to the missionaries. We've already received quite a few references, and we've visited them all. Of course there have different results from them all, but we have found some good potentials! Man, it’s so good to have members on our side. So good!
Like I said, we've found some solid potential investigators, some through references and some through some good old door to door. (Door to door is different here, with the fact that every door is probably 100 meters apart!) We are gonna teach the F family tomorrow, a solid find for us. Also another dude named Arii, who has never heard of our religion somehow but is totally interested. Just some good things that bring hope to us!
Our investigators now are awesome as well. Tatu is a guy who has been taking the lessons for a while now. He’s one of the nicest, humblest guys I have ever met. He’s been scared of baptism, and has pushed back the date several times now. So we gotta fix another date with him and help him find the courage and the faith in Heavenly Father! Also Puaihina, a super sweet old lady who we've been teaching. There are so many investigators that I can’t name them all, but they are so great. All of em, so great.
This island is also just awesome. Honestly, it’s like the craziest beach-farm place I've ever seen. We were at a members place, and he has a pretty good-sized farm complete with pigs and horses and goats and chickens and all that stuff. The coolest thing is, like on most of the island, there isn't really soil, just sand. But stuff just grows in the sand, it’s crazy! We were walking around and this dude just pulls a carrot right out of the sand for us to eat. How does that even grow there?? And he’s got pineapple and taro and tomatoes and banana and coconut trees. Its magic.
Our house though... that's another story. This place is totally ancient! It hasn't been used in a while, so there's a billion wasps nests inside. I'm pretty sure its full of mold as well, because i got a major allergy reaction on Wednesday. And I don’t know if it’s the house or the island in general, but it’s a little freaky to be taking a shower and have a crab come crawling out of the drain. But it’s all good, it’s not like we spend all day in there anyway.
Language is still incredibly difficult. I don’t know why, but Tahitian is so much harder to understand than French, yet much easier for me to speak. Yeah, just takes time a guess.

Well, that’s about it. I got the photos to work! Check it out:
1. Newbies at Tubuai, airport

2. Our house. Check out that mountain

3. One of the many awesome beaches here at Tubuai

4. Found this gnarly thing in our house. Name tag to reference size, sorry that's as close as I wanted to get to that thing... It bites

5. People love to fish here. That's a members. Its a good catch I'd say.

6. First LDS church building on Tubuai.  (No attachment.)
7. Sunsets like this everyday  (No attachment.)

Love you all! I know this Church is true, and its awesome to be a servant of the Lord on the island of Tubuai.
A faaitoito,
Elder Ball

Learn more about what I am teaching:

Monday, October 14, 2013

Woah (Tubuai - week #1)

Ia ora na!
It’s been a busy week... so much to say I don’t know exactly where to start! Everything is going well here in our new area, Tubuai. Man, is it beautiful! No cars, no buses, no awful reggae remixes of Bruno Mars playing everywhere we go... It's peaceful here, to say the least. Beautiful coconut trees everywhere, white sandy beaches all around the island, blueeee waterrrr, yeah you guys get the point. It’s a little cooler here than it is in Tahiti, which is awesome cuz it was really starting to heat up there. Weather is perfect here!

I guess I’ll explain a little bit how things work here. There are actually now 4 Elders and a couple serving here right now, and Elder Firuu and I are on the side of the island with poor phone service and no store... awesome! And because it’s far from where the Elders before normally live, there aren't as many lessons going on here. It’s been a little hard and a little slow getting all settled in and finding where all the members live and so forth. The other Elders have helped us a good amount, but again they’re on the other side of the island so it’s a little tough to get together right now..
Anyway, our branches are Ziona and Mahu. We’ve met a good amount of members in Ziona, so this week we really hope to get in touch with a lot of members of Mahu and find some more references. The members here really love to do missionary work. The few lessons we've taught have been pretty awesome, however. We have one investigator, Yanick, who pretty much knows all the lessons because he’s read like half the Book of Mormon on his own. We expect great things with him!

Things are pretty good with Elder Firuu. He's already a pretty good missionary; he has a strong testimony and he already knows a good amount of scripture. Only problem is I don’t really understand him sometimes... he refuses to speak French with me, only Tahitian. I'm not gonna complain though! By the end of this transfer, I expect my Tahitian to skyrocket. I can speak the language pretty well, but my comprehension right now just stinks! I bore my testimony in Tahitian in fast and testimony meeting yesterday, and afterwards everyone came up to me and starting speaking to me in Tahitian, and I was so lost. They wouldn’t stop too, I guess they didn’t notice my blank face when they were talking to me! French, that’s all good. It’s actually a relief when people talk to me in French.
That’s about it I guess! I have some pictures but for some reason, it won’t upload on this computer. Next week I guess! Love you guys, and take care.
Elder Ball

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hooolllyyy moly transferrr (Week #12 in Papeete Pirae 2)

Ia ora na!

Dang, what a WEEK! Huge week, with some big news. First off I’ll start with General Conference. I got to watch all the sessions, and it was awesome. It’s so great to hear the prophets speak, such a revitalizing weekend.

Elder Ball is transferring to the island of Tubuai
The work here was fantastic this week. We got 4 new investigators, with solid potential. We fixed a date for baptism November 2nd for one of them! She’s the granddaughter of a member who’s been going to Church, but her nonmember parents have been keeping her from taking the lessons until now, were super excited for her. Some great lessons this week, full of the Spirit.

We had a sweet, awesome experience Saturday. After Elder Ballard gave his talk in conference, we decided to go out and, like Elder Ballard counseled, talk to as many people as possible. So we went to the town hall in Pirae, and lo and behold: a huge religious gathering, with different religions sharing their religion from a concession/booth type thing! There was no LDS stand because of conference. So Elder Martinson and I looked at each other, seeing this huge group of people with open, willing minds... In other words, that field was ripe and all ready to harvest, so we got the heck over there. In no time, we were teaching a group of 20 Adventists, along with other smaller lessons. It was too bad, not a single person lived in our area, but we planted some major seeds. Man, that was a good time.

Alright, so there’s some big news right? But wait... it gets better! Transfers came this week, and my training has officially ended. I’ve had a great time with Elder Martinson, and he’s taught me so much. I love that guy and so grateful for him. So, who’s my new companion? Well, it turns out I’m training! I will be training Elder Firuu, from Teahupoo, just down on the smaller part of Tahiti. He’s a convert, and he’s actually in this very room with me at the Mission Office. He doesn’t know he’s my companion yet! But he’s super cool, I’m looking forward to it so much.
Now, other news: I will be training, but it’s too bad, because all that work we did this week, I won’t be able to see come to fruition. Yep, I will be transferred from Pirae 2. I will be going to Tubuai Wednesday morning! It’s a tiny little island about 400 miles south of Tahiti. It’s the first Pacific island to have received the fullness of the gospel by Addison Pratt (1844). Am I stoked? Yeah I am! But I’m a bit sad too. I wasn’t quite ready to leave Pirae 2, because I really wanted to see things grow there. But I’m sure the Sister Missionaries who will be replacing us will do well too!

Well, that’s the news! Yeah, I’m gonna be the only American guy on an island in the middle of the ocean for who knows who long... kinda intimidating, but I’m pretty thrilled too. Wish me luck, I’ll need it!

Love you all, A faaitoito!
Elder Ball

Check out the video below about life in Tubuai!