Monday, December 30, 2013

Party Animals on the Loose (Tubuai - week #12)

Ia ora na!
Its been so great to be able to skype with the fam on Christmas! thank you for that, even if my English is kinda messed up now... Definitely a highlight of the week.

Skyping with Casey
Other than that, thanks to the holidays its actually been the slowest week of my mission. First of all, I've never seen a Christmas like they have here... Everyone drinks, and drinks, and drinks, and I mean almost everyone except for most of the members of the church. First of all, we were unsuccessful in fixing any lessons on Christmas and for the rest of the week because everyone was too busy, so that left to contacting and talking with members. And I'm not lying, every single non-member house we came to was a total party wreck, with some inebriated dude stumbling and coming to greet us. Even just riding our bikes we'll see people passed out on the beach or in front of their houses. Needless to say, nobody has been super receptive this week. We've just been trying our best to spread the message that Christmas is about Jesus, not alcohol. Sadly, the party wont stop until well after the new years.

But hey, that wont get our hopes down. With what little amount of lessons we've had, its been solid with them. For a while we've been teaching M. She has had a tough life, being raised in a pretty messed up family, so she has a tough personality. She lives with her boyfriend H and they have one child together. Right now I could say that she is one of my favorite investigators. She is sharp, quick to learn and best of all willing to learn. Since we've taught her we can see now how she's already started to soften up. This week we taught her about faith and repentance, and during this lesson she realized how much she needs to change in order to be baptized and follow Christ. We challenged and committed her to sincerely repent, leave behind her troubled life and come unto Christ. She knows that she must keep the Law of Chastity, and she knows she has to forgive others for their faults. She knows what she must do, and right now we're just praying and praying that she will have the faith and willpower to take these steps. She really is amazing, and she is someone that i would love to see have a change of heart and be baptized.
Other than the few lessons we've had, not a whole lot new. Elder Firuu and I both passed through the transfers without a scratch, so we'll both be staying here for at least another 6 weeks. Also Elder Randall gets his new companion today, Elder Wheeler I believe. Anyway, Its been bizarre living here lately. Our shower no longer works in our house, so we've taken to the hose behind the house to shower off every day. Luckily there are enough banana trees and ferns to censor our nudeness, Garden of Eden style. That's how we roll here on Tubuai. Also, for the past week there has been a cricket in our bedroom. We have no idea where it is, but every night it starts chirping, and it's loud too. Kind of hard to sleep at night, but hey it's whatever.

This island is definitely an experience that I'll never have again in my life. I look back and realize that never in America, or even at Tahiti, will I have problems like these: no water, no shower, crabs and giant spiders in the house, eating raw fish straight from the ocean, and countless other bizarrities. I just wanna say that its been so awesome here on Tubuai. All the experiences I've had thus far are life changing, and I am sure to have more to come. I'm totally fine with staying here. We've got some work to do.
That's about it for this week! Love you all, and happy new year! A faaitoito!
Elder Ball

Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy holidays from the middle of the ocean (Tubuai - week #11)

Ia ora na!!
Its been another interesting week! The first half was still spent on Tahiti, then Thursday we headed back to our tiny island Tubuai. Tahiti was a great experience, going on splits with other missionaries and getting to see how things work in other areas.

MTC district together again for mssion Christmas Party
For a lot of our time this week (both in Tahiti and Tubuai) we spent a lot of time doing street contacting and door-to-door... its been a while since we've done it, and man is it hard. In Tahiti there's been some real stingy contacts... first example: Elder Mariteragi and I, we came to a house with a huge gate in front of it (a lot of houses in Tahiti are like that). We can't see past it, so we shout over it to get someones attention. Suddenly the electronic gate slowly opens, and there's an old lady sitting there in a chair. All she does is look at us, wag her finger at us and then close the gate without a word said. Man did we laugh hard or what after that, so wicked. A lot of other houses there consisted of young French surfer dudes on vacation, who simply said "yeah brah i'm on vacation! Get lost!" It was a little tough, but you just gotta know as a missionary that, even though the message we have is easily the most important message in the world, there will be a lot of people who will reject us right off the bat. It's too bad, but just gotta faaoromai (persevere).
When we got back to Tubuai, we were disappointed to find that the drought has not yet ceased, and all of our investigators are at Tahiti for vacation. A lot of lessons have been cancelled for this next week to come, so it looks like for now we'll be spending most of out time looking for new investigators until the new year. Also, because Elder Maples, our zone leader here on Tubuai, has finished his mission, his companion Elder Randall has no companion, so we've been going around as a trio on the whole island to accomplish the work in both areas. A whole lot of biking, let me tell ya. Even if this island is tiny, its still big for us! I have no idea how they did it before with just two elders on the island. Not a whole lot of other news for this past week. Yesterday I did give my first 15 minute talk in French during sacrament meeting. Cool experience, I'm pretty sure I did well.
This week I feel like I've been making a real break through with Tahitian as well. We've had some good contacts with people in Tahitian, and I swear the gift of tongues worked its magic with these people. I understood everything, and my tongue was loosened and the words just came. So cool, its after experiences like that when you feel like a champion. Then after, we go and talk with some members in Tahitian, and suddenly I understand nothing again. Haha, weird how that works. We got some good potential from these contacts however, and we'll pass by them again this week to see if they will continue to follow the lessons.
Life is good, good. We're pretty stoked for Christmas to come, its been such a good time of year here... a little different because there are no Christmas trees or snow, but its been great. I want to testify that this is the time of year when we can really celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our Savior, the Son of God, was born in such humble circumstances, and left His heavenly home to dwell here on Earth as a mortal man, to atone for the sins and pains of the world. I know He is our Savior and Redeemer, and in humility He was born among us on the earth.
Remember the Savior during this fantastic time of year! Faaitoito, e ia oaoa i te Noela!

Elder Ball

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Exquisite Opposition (Tubuai - week #10)

Ia ora na!
First of all, greetings from Tahiti. Friday we flew in for a Christmas activity for all the missionaries. It was excellent to see everyone again and remember the good old MTC days. Had a great meal and some skits going on, it was definitely a good time. But, I am all ready to get back to work at Tubuai. Its been quite a crazy week here.
Before heading out to Tahiti, we had a great teaching experience. The nephew of F, named M, came in from Tahiti to stay with family. He's a champion canoe racer, super chill dude. We came over to teach his parents, but they ended up not being there, so we taught him instead since he was interested. I don't think Elder Firuu and I ever taught a better lesson than that. It was smooth, simple, clear, and precise, and it brought the Spirit in heaps. We answered all his questions with exactness. We taught the Resoration, and after we had just finished telling the Joseph Smith story, we paused and let it all sink in. After about 30 seconds of silence, he basically said "yeah man... that is way cool. That touched me, man" He really is interested and has a love for God and a desire to know the truth. I'm excited for what comes next with him.
Other than that, not too much awesomeness went on before we left Tahiti. Its been pretty nice here in Tahiti... nice and hot. We got to go to the temple on Saturday, which was another great experience. We've been staying with two other Elders in Punaauia, Elder Gervasi and Elder Mariteragi. Its been good, but since theres only two bikes with them one companionship has to go out on foot and the other on bikes. And like I said, its been hot... Never sweated so much in my life. Its good to see what the work is like in another area and with other missionaries.
Apart from the good times, this week has been rough... Saturday morning we were met with some heartcrushing news. Two sister missionaries were hit by a drunk driver Friday night on their bikes. One came out alright, but the other was left in critical condition. She went to the hospital and was put in a coma. She was a sister missionary in our district in the MTC, and for us all it was difficult news to bear. We love her so much and want her to recover so badly. We've been fasting and praying all the weekend for her and her family. Keep Sister Taylor and her family in your thoughts and prayers. She is an excellent missionary, and her faith and confidence truly inspired me as a missionary also.
What I want to say is that I know God is our Heavenly Father and that he loves us. He is mindful of all his children, and he wants only the best for us. In life there are the most exquisite pains, with the opposition of the most exquisite happiness. Ive just about felt the two this week. But all these things are done in the judgement of God, because he truly loves us and knows how we can grow and progress in life.

Keep the prayers comin, and love life no matter what! Nothin can stop this work, its on a roll.
A faaitoito,
Elder Ball

Monday, December 9, 2013

When the going gets tough, the tough get going (Tubuai week #9)

Its been a while! Sorry that I missed last week--internet was down and out and thus the email was a no go. But to say the least, its been a testing two weeks for me and Elder Firuu, a lot of experience gained.
Our investigators are doin alright for the most part. For most of our investigators, however, there lies two problems: drugs and concubinage, two things that, without faith, are so hard to overcome. So, it's been so important for Elder Firuu and I to focus and bringing the Spirit into the lessons, because in all things, the Spirit is the one who converts them unto Christ. All we can do right now is do our best to invite the Spirit and testify and continue to teach, and then its up to them to make the decision based on the testimony they have thus far received. Its hard... but like I said, I have such a strong feeling that they will make it.
The lack of rain has continued here on Tubuai, and now we are officially at drought status. The water reserve is cut off for most of the day, and some mornings, because of such low water pressure, its either cold shower or no shower for us! It hasn't been easy for all the farms here either... its a real trial for this island. Right now our prime water supply is bottled water, not exactly the cheapest! We've been praying for rain, and now we just gotta wait it out and endure. The drought shouldn't last too much longer, because seriously, this is Polynesia, not Africa. The rainy season should be starting any day now...
Summed up in a short email, that's been our two weeks! A lot of people have already left for Tahiti for the holidays, and so many of our investigators will be gone for the next month. But, no matter the trial or wall in our way, we just gotta stand tall and break it down together. This Gospel is what makes us realize that adversity and weakness is in our life to strengthen us and help us rely more on the Lord for help in our lives. The Lord said to the prophet Moroni in the Book of Mormon, Ether 12:27, "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." Thanks to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we can know how to humble ourselves and rely on the Lord to make us strong in our afflictions and in our personal weakness as well.
Life is good! Love you all and keep the faith!
Elder Ball