Monday, December 29, 2014

Too merry up in here (Bora Bora - week #11)

Ia ora na tatou!

What a nice Christmas week! I'm getting over the chikungunya disease more and more and I've been able to go out and work pretty much every day. Sadly, the disease has taken over our entire household. 4 other elders got the sickness this week, including Elder Duncan! So basically I went on splits with Elder Openshaw mostly this week to work in our two areas while the other elders spent a nice Christmas vacation at home. You cant really call it a vacation though when you're suffering from head to toe!

Casey with Ami Reagan and his wife
We actually had a baptism this week! I haven't talked a whole lot about her but her name is Keali. She's 11 years old and her family, consisting of her mother and step father, is all members, except for her real father who was against her baptism up until now. Since the moment that Keali's real dad gave her the OK to be baptised, we were called over to start doing the lessons to help Keali prepare for baptism. She was ready a long time ago, so the lessons were just review for her. It was a great service, and her father even came and enjoyed the service. Keali's happy to be a member of the church!

C---- and K---- are still doing super well. They read the Book of Mormon every night, and K---- is already in the middle of Alma where they have all the war chapters. When we ask her what her thoughts are about what she read, she goes giving a straight up detailed summary of what she read. She says stuff like "The Nephites prospered in the 27th year of the reign of the judges... or was it the 28th..? Nope, it was the 27th! Then in the 28th year..." And she just continues. She's so into it and pays attention and remembers everything! C---- has been loving it too. He still has a goal to be baptized, it's just the marriage that he isn't sure about. If he continues like he's been doing, he'll have enough faith to do anything.

Other than that, not a whole lot went down this week, except for Christmas! It was good to talk to the family on Skype, and shoutout to the Slavens family who decided to drop by Bora and say hello on Christmas! In addition to conversation with family and friends, I don't think I've ever eaten so much in my life like I have this week. Christmas eve we spent dinner time at our ward mission leader's home with several other member families. We had duck, oysters, steak, potatoes, salmon, poisson cru, caviar, lasagna, and everything you could imagine. We went to town! Then every other meal we had with members were leftovers from their Christmas dinners. Now after this week I am in an incredible habit of eating at least three full plates of food. I couldn't do that before. What a blessing.

That's it for this week! We're praying that this chikununya will get out of our house as soon as possible so that we can kick off the new year nice and strong. I love you all and Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

Elder  Ball

Monday, December 22, 2014

In Christ Alone (Bora Bora - week #10)

Ia ora na!

Well in all honesty I don't have a lot to report on this week because I guess the chikungunya wasnt quite done with me yet... so until Friday I was just chillin' in my bed, unable to move. It was a bummer, and I felt bad for poor Elder Duncan who just wanted to get out there and work. But he was patient and he had the chance to split with the other elders a little bit. I love the guy. I also got to grow a sweet beard, since I just layed in bed for days. Haha it was pretty cool.

Well, in what work we did have, we had the chance to just go out and do contacting in our area since we had no lessons planned. We talked to this guy named Taaroa (Taro) for like an hour, since he totally loves reading the Bible and he told us  bunch of these near death experiences and the scars to show them. Pretty funny, but we gave him a Book of Mormon and he was suuuper stoked to get it. He told us thanks over and over again, because he just loves reading the scriptures! he didn't want to start taking lessons yet since he works late most days, but he told us where he lives and told us to come by and if he's there we'd chat! We're praying that he will have great experiences with the Book of Mormon.

Anyway, to end my brief email and to share my appreciation for Jesus Christ this Christmas season, Id like to share the lyrics to this classic Christian hymn called In Christ Alone that the group Owl City did a rendition to. Elder Hansen has it among his selection of songs, and when I heard it for the first time it struck me to the soul.

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in power of Christ I'll stand.
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

I love the final line, "here in the power of Christ I'll stand." I am so grateful for the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, and for his atoning sacrifice that this song glorifies so well. For all that he has done for me and for all of us, I love Him, and here I will stand with Him till the end. 

I love you all! Merry Christmas.

Elder Ball

Monday, December 15, 2014

Another one bites the dust (Bora Bora - week #9)

Ia ora na!

And I muster that enthusiastic ia ora na with all my faith because the chikengunya has claimed another victim... I've bitten the dust. It started Thursday when I started noticing a weird rash on my arms, and later that night my chest, elbows and knees started to tighten up. No surprise Friday I was in bed all day with a gnarly fever. But I do say that the Lord has been merciful and the fever only lasted about a day an a half, so I was able to work the last part of Saturday and all Sunday! I still have a rash all over my body and minor pains in my joints, but I'm coming along fine.

In spite of that, Elder Duncan and I had a great week with plenty of biking. Something I could also explain is that, like I said in an earlier email, that our area is the entire east side of the island. Now where do we live? On the middle of the west coast of the island. So everyday Elder Duncan and I bike for about 30 minutes to get to our area, then proselyte in our area which takes about an hour to get all the way through. It's the price to pay for having the most naturally beautiful side of the island! Even more, on Tuesday, it was raining buuuckets. We got out there on our bikes and we were so stoked to go biking through a monsoon for hours! And I'm not joking. Whether rain or shine, Bora Bora is still a beauty. For the moment we'll be biking a lot until we find that new house that we're looking for on the other side of the island.

Also, remember those blessings that I talked about last week, that we gave to people with the Chikengunya? We came back to see them this week, and it turns out that they were all completely healed the day after the blessing. One of these people, named I---, is an investigator, and has been being prepared little by little to receive the Gospel. She once assisted a family night in Raiatea a couple months ago, loved it and has nurtured questions about the Church ever since. She lives with an inactive family member named D-----, and it's through her that we came into contact with Isaora. Now after the blessing, I---is even more interested and now we're doing the lessons with her and her partner S----, who is awesome. He's a rugby player, and a super humble guy. Such a cool couple.

Finally last weekend, we met an investigator named K---- and her partner C---- at a new ward activity. K---- took lessons from the other missionaries before the ward boundary changes, and now she is in our ward. She has a strong desire to be baptized! And she's pretty ready, the only thing that's blocking her is her partner C----. At the time that the other elders taught her, C---- was kind of against her being baptized and did a few things to show it (burning her Book of Mormon, threatening to kill the missionaries, just minor things like that) and we had the blessing to meet him at this activity. Super nice guy! We invited them to church the next day, and for the first time for both of them, they came! We did a lesson with them this week as well, in which C---- said that in the following year he was going to quit alcohol and join the church. I don't know what happened between back then and now, but I'm so dang thankful that it did because it prepared C---- to receive the Gospel!

So in spite of the sickness, we were able to accomplish good things this week. The Lord is merciful unto those who are penitent and seek his help. We're excited for this next week when we'll be back into good health to preach the good word. Here's a photo with me and Elder Duncan. Love you all, have a great week!

Elder Ball

Monday, December 8, 2014

When chikungunyah attacks (Bora Bora - week #8)

Ia ora na!

A quick week went by like that, and with the new ward all set up we have had tons of work to do this past week. I don't have too much time to write, but I'll try to put in as much awesomeness as possible. 

First of all, new companion! And he's very new. his name is Elder Duncan from Cache Valley, Utah. He turned 18 about 5 months ago, so he's just about as fresh of an elder as you can get! He's way cool, and he actually plays guitar in a band! Already we have some cool things in common, and already from this week I can see that he has a very solid understanding of the gospel and he teaches very well. The only thing that's blocking him is the language barrier of course. It reminds me my own training, when I couldn't understand the difference between French and Tahitian. But he's a trooper and he's been smiling the whole time. And he ate fafaru his first night. What a stud! I hope that by the end of his training his skills will exceed my own and that he'll be "duncan" people left and right in the waters of baptism. Hahaha props to Elder Larsen for that joke. 

So yeah, the new ward. The members here are insanely motivated to get that chapel filled up again. In all honesty we didn't have many investigators or lessons in our area at the beginning of the week, since we gave all the other investigators to the Vaitape ward. So we really had to seek inspiration for things to do this week. With nothing fixed but at least with plans we made, Elder Duncan and I went out to bike to our sector. Then when we get there, we get a call from an inactive member to give blessings to her and her sick nonmember family, or a member calls us wanting to take us to see other inactive members, calls like that just raining down from heaven! So we were blessed with chances to work with the members and have productive things to do this week. We can already see the unity in the ward and their desire to hasten the Lord's work. 

And speaking of blessings... a new sickness has been sweeping French Polynesia. It's called chikungunyah. When we first heard about that sickness, Elder Gilson said "What? Chicken ganja?" haha so chicken ganja has attacked the islands. It first hit Tahiti, and it's been about a month that its been sweeping from home to home over there. But just this past week or so, its hit Bora. What it is, it's this sickness from Africa or something. It starts with a headache and a mild fever, but in a matter of hours you're on your bed with thick pains in every joint of your body, with a rash from head to toe and a wicked fever, and it takes you out for about a week. It's a sickness carried by mosquitoes. And this whole week we've been giving blessings to people everywhere who have this sickness. It seems painful, but it doesn't seem too life threatening. We've been protected, and not just by Off, but by angels, because man it seems like everybody is sick. Elder Hansen got the sickness last night, but we gave him a blessing and today he's back on his bike. The Lord cant afford to lose his servants for a week in this critical moment on Bora. We'll see if any of us get it this next week.

That's all I got time for, and we're stoked for the weeks to come. I love you all, have a great week!

Elder Ball

Monday, December 1, 2014

Ch ch ch changes (Bora Bora - week #7)

Ia ora na tatou!

Voila the end of a stacked week! And the end of flying solo in the sector of Anau! There's been some pretty sweet things that have happened this week, and some big news to add. 

So Elder Gilson, Elder Requillart and I were still together this week, sharing a little the work in the two wards trying to get as many lessons done as possible. We had the privilege to teach A----- again this week after a little while, since he was too busy to do the lessons the week before. we taught him the Plan of Salvation, and it was just one of those lessons where all three of us taught like bosses, and the Spirit worked through us and helped us explain and teach things perfectly. A----- understood everything, including the fall of Adam and redemption through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and what we need to do to merit the blessings of the Atonement. At the end of the lesson, he finally accepted to be baptized. We're so stoked for him, and we plan on helping him prepare and fix a date, since he still needs to respect the law of chastity.

We had a great time teaching this week, but the biggest news is that of the new ward that was created on the island. Something I forgot to mention when I came to Bora, I'm district leader for the island. And part of the reason why I was sent here was to get to know the island so that when President Bize comes, I'll be able to show him the newly formed areas so that he can get an idea of what they are all like, as well as become familiar with possible houses for the third companionship of missionaries to live in. Well, President and Sister Bize came this week and they took me around the island to show them everything for a little while. It was pretty cool to work with them and get to know them a little better. Felt kinda like an assistant (haha but really.) 

This picture was found on President Bize's Facebook page.  He took the picture
when visiting Bora Bora this week. Elder Ball with Elders Requillart and Gilson.
And with that, I'll announce the news of the transfer that will be going down to accommodate the new ward! So of course ill be staying here, in the Anau ward, and Elder Gilson will be staying in Vaitape while Elder Requillart will leave for Tahiti. So who's my new companion? You guessed it, I'm gonna be a papa again! Ill be training a new American elder named Elder Duncan. Elder Gilson will receive Elder Openshaw as a companion, and in the new ward Faanui, Elder Hansen will be coming in with a brand new French elder! I'm so stoked for this transfer. The new limits for Anau are the entire east coast of the island. It's also a little sad because a good amount of my investigators like A------- and T------ will be in the new limits of Vaitape, so Elder Gilson will be taking over with them. But he'll be losing a good amount of his investigators as well to Faanui. It'll be a big transition that we'll have to get used to and adapt to this next week. But I'm way excited for the new colleagues!

So to celebrate the creation of the new ward, the members of the Church on the island had a weekend full of activities. Friday night was a talent show where each of the three wards took an animated film as a theme and did a theatrical piece with that theme. Anau did the Prince of Egypt, and it was sooo stinkin' awesome! I'm proud to be a part of that ward. Saturday morning there was a sports day, and since there were a good amount of inactive members and amis there, President let us go play! We played volleyball, soccer, pétanque (which is like the french version of boche ball) and a relay. A good amount of the young adults of Anau wanted me to do the swimming portion of the relay for them. But of course President said no. Bummer!

Then of course, Sunday morning was the new ward creation and conference. They called two new bishops for Anau and Faanui, and Vaitape stayed the same. That means we have a new bishopric, and probably new presidencies in each function of the church. We're pretty much starting from scratch. Which is something that this ward has needed for a long time: a fresh start! With new leaders, new members and new boundaries, there are bound to be new investigators and new miracles accomplished. It'll probably take about a week to get used to all the changes, but it's good to start fresh! I'm way excited, and the members are as well.

Well it's a lot to explain and I hope it didn't bore you all but it's the biggest thing that's happened in the church here on Bora for at least 15 years. The goal is to create a 4th ward here on Bora by the year 2016, which means that the new stake of Bora Bora, Maupiti and Huahine will be created. That would be amazing. That's about all that i have time for, I love you all and have a great week! 

Elder Ball

Monday, November 24, 2014

Flyin solo (Bora Bora - week #6)

Ia ora na!

Well, another week past, with some changes in the lineup. Yep, there was a transfer, and  Thursday morning Elder Lee Chip Sao got sent all the way to the tiny island of Raroia in the Tuamotus. We were together for just a little less than six weeks. I miss the guy already. He was a blast, and a good missionary at that. 

Now the question, who is my new companion? As title of this email may suggest, here's the curveball: I don't have one. Let me explain a little. Tomorrow there is a large group of missionaries that are going home, the group that Elder Millett was in. But that presents a problem, because next week is when the real transfer is supposed to happen, when a large group of new missionaries arrives to Tahiti. For some reason the release date for the missionaries going home is a week early, and I guess it couldn't be changed to accommodate the transfer. So Elder Lee Chip Sao left to replace an elder going home, and next week is when the real transfer will go down and I'll have my new companion. So for the moment, I'm flyin solo..

So another question, how the heck am I gonna get work done when Im all alone? Luckily, I'm not completely alone, I'm officially paired with the elders of Vaitape, Elder Gilson and Elder Requillart, for the moment. The goal has been to try and share the amount of work in our two areas and work all together, but of course that naturally shifts more towards Vaitape, cuz they already had more lessons fixed this week. So to try and work a little more in Anau, my area, I've left on splits with DMP and with a couple young adults of the ward. The work isn't quite as effective without a real companion, but I'm hangin on, trying to keep the area alive and still staying in contact with all the investigators.

So this week, there wasn't a lot that went down in terms of lessons in my area, we mostly spent time helping Elder Lee Chip Sao prepare for the transfer and saying goodbye to members. But Elder Gilson, Elder Requillart and I had some good moments in terms of their work. On Friday, we had a few lessons in their area that were all in Tahitian, and I forgot a little how much I love speaking Tahitian, since it's actually been a while since I've spoken it. With one of their investigators, Marie-Claude, she loved how we all spake in Tahitian and we celebrated my birthday eating stake together at a roach coach. Good times.

Well that's all for this week, until next week! This is the last week until the creation of the new ward, so President Bize and the stake presidency of Punaauia will be coming down this next week. I should have more to comment on this next time! Photos:

Goodbye Sao
Sunset, photo credit to Elder Requillart

à la roulotte avec Marie-Claude (Casey's 21st birthday dinner)

I love you all!

Elder Ball

Monday, November 17, 2014

Hâtons l'oeuvre du salut (Week #5 - Bora Bora)

Ia ora na!

Good week. Good times. Always accompanied with small difficulties and trials, but who remembers that stuff anyway? It's already been 5 weeks that I've been here on Bora Bora. I believe that's fairly longer than the average American stays on Bora, and for that I am absolutely grateful to serve here on this little rock in the ocean. There are so many awesome people here, and so many memories made every day. Its a privilege to serve them and help them all come unto Christ.

Elder Lee Chip Sao and I are still pushing forward. We've had some sweet moments with some of our investigators this week, and found some new ones as well. We started lessons with a teen named R------. He's 13 years old already pretty deep into the things of the world, which isn't rare here at Bora. He often passes by the Hutia family, a member family. The family proposed that he take lessons with us, and he accepted! We had a good first couple visits with him this week, he's a super nice, smiley kid. We do the lessons at the beach because its waaay beautiful and peaceful and sometimes it attracts other teenagers to come over and listen. We haven't taught him a ton yet apart from a lesson on our Heavenly Father and prayer, but yesterday one of the Hutia kids tells us "Elder ma, I don't know what you guys did to R------- but he's stopped drinking." Haha, pretty cool! I hope it will be a lasting change.

Maybe the best part of the week was Saturday, when the whole island participated in a proselyting activity in preparation for the celebration of the new ward which will be created in a couple of weeks. We all started with a fast Friday night, and Saturday morning the members and missionaries split up into different sectors to distribute invitations to less- active and inactive members, as well as as many nonmembers as possible. It was a sweet activity, and it was the first time I've seen all the members participating in missionary work like this. Everyone loved it and were excited with all the names they collected of all the people they went to visit who accepted the invitation to come to the celebration. We plan on doing the same thing next Saturday to hit up more people.

After the activity, Elder Lee Chip Sao and I had a good amount of lessons planned, but they were on the other side of the island... faaitoito over to the other side of the island on bike while fasting? Aita, fiu! Just before leaving the chapel we grabbed a young adult named T--- and asked us if he wanted to drive with us to do some lessons. He playingly murmured in the beginning but he agreed, and we had a sweet time together! We taught some solid lessons with R----- and M--- and C---, and it was fun having T--- with us because he shared good thoughts and a sweet testimony. It's awesome because T--- hasn't had the opportunity to serve a mission yet, and times almost up for him. But he said that it was the first time that he went to teach with the missionaries, and he had a sweet time as well. We hope that he'll go again with us in the future and that he'll have the opportunity to serve a mission.

It was a good week. We're excited for the new ward. Also in two weeks the mission will receive 25 new missionaries, and the zone leaders told me that it is very likely that I will train. I'm down to have a second son! Here's some photos.

After a lesson with Raihau. They brought a guitar over, haha. And im not as sunburned as I look.

Typical everyday scenery.

I love you all! Until next week

Elder Ball

Monday, November 10, 2014

Hawaiki Nui madness (Bora Bora - week #4)

Ia ora na tatou!

Today I'm not gonna take too much time, but its been another wet week! The first 4 days of the week it did nothing but rain, and hard! There were some pretty gnarly floods in some of the neighborhoods where we went. We keep hearing things from people that its cyclone season and that its been a good while since there has been one, like 5 years. So its about time that one comes around here pretty soon! I wonder what that would be like to be in a cyclone. We'll see!

But anyway, it rained all week, up until Friday, just in time for the Hawaiki. The Hawaiki Nui is this monster canoe race that happens every year in November. The race takes place over a few days. The first part of the race starts on the island of Huahine until the island Raiatea. The next day, there's a sprint between Raiatea and the island just adjacent to it, Tahaa. The final stretch of the race is Tahaa to Bora Bora, which happened Friday. It's crazy! Since Bora Bora is the finish line for the race, you can bet that there's a good amount of celebration. We headed over there to Matira Beach in the afternoon after the first canoes made their way in, and the sight we saw was insane. The lagoon was filled with boats and tons of people were on the beach. Pretty much the whole island was there partying, in addition to tourists and people from the other islands. We were hoping to get some contacts, but I don't think that worked out too well. To much beer and partying, so we didn't spend too much time there.

But the worst was later that evening. Our dinner appointment was with a family who lives at Matira, so we were obligated to ride over there. The partying didn't seem to die down since the afternoon. I couldn't tell you the number of fights and passed out people that we saw as we rode by! It was sad to see all that stuff, all caused by alcohol. I guess you could say that my testimony of the Word of Wisdom was strengthened that night. I saw only sadness and pathetic behavior, all caused by alcohol. Something so subtle as to dumb down the potential of a child of God with just a few sips could only come from Satan himself.

Coincidentally, we had the chance to teach the Word of Wisdom to A------- this week. He has no problems with alcohol or cigarettes, just coffee. He's got real potential and he progresses well. He reads the Book of Mormon and prays with K--, and he participates in family nights with his family in law. He's been prepared to receive the gospel for sure. We just gotta get over the concubinage block and we'll be good!

Life has been hectic this week, hopefully things will calm down this next week and we'll be able to leave our house and still feel the Spirit. A couple pictures below of the race day at the beach, and of the victoires. Pretty cool. I love you all and have a great week!

Elder Ball

Race day at the beach


Monday, November 3, 2014

Diamonds in the rough (Bora Bora - week #3)

Ia ora na!

Its good to be writing off another email after another week. Its been a long one! Elder Lee Chip Sao and I had our share of difficulties with plenty of lessons cancelled, getting stood up by references and lots of rain, and lots of sand and lots of mud, everywhere. It becomes exhausting! But there's always some beautiful diamonds in the rough that keep us on our feet and help us remember what this work is really about. Not forgetting the fact that we're on Bora Bora, as well.

The week before last, I got a call from a member from Vairao with a reference! She told us to go visit her cousin named M--- who lives in Anau to give her a blessing. So we fixed a rendez-vous for Tuesday and we drove over there with our DMP. M--- is this super nice woman who suffers from bipolarity. Her companion is named H------ and together they have a 6 year old son named M----- who is handicapped and has no usage of his legs. Recently they've been burdened by these conditions and had questions as to why God gave put them in these conditions. We answered their questions saying that God loves them so much and that they have these burdens to help each member of the family grow stronger and look to Heavenly Father for help. Afterwards we gave them all blessings. It was a sacred moment! I have good feelings about this family, and they accepted another rendez-vous for this coming week.

We also had an awesome lesson with a family, comprised of a couple named T------- and R------, the father of T------ named R----. We taught them an amazing lesson on the Restoration, Elder Lee Chip Sao and I both felt like our mouths were filled with words to say and our minds were clear while we taught. The family completely understood the lesson, and when we told the Joseph Smith story I just about teared up the Spirit was so strong. For me I feel like it was one of the best lessons I've been in in a while. We invited them to baptism and Tehapa'i said "If it's for the best for my family, then yes." R---- had some objections, as most Tahitian papis do, but we'll help him out with that. Sweet experience.

Now that I'm writing, I'm seeing how flippin' sweet this week was haha. We had a lesson with C--- the uncle of T-------, who had an aneurysm about 5 months ago. So he's basically sentenced to a hospital bed at home in a paralyzed condition. He's able to understand what people say, but has a hard time speaking. He accepted to have us visit him personally as well, with T------- as sort of his translator haha. We taught him a short lesson this week about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and during the lesson he testified in all the breath that he could, saying "I know Heavenly Father loves me. He is my source of life." Even as we shared John 3:16, he mouthed the words along. He has so much faith in spite of his condition, he even knew the words of "I Need Thee Every Hour" which we sang at the end of the lesson. I almost lost it! 

It was actually a special week, after a bit of retrospection. Sure there have been a good amount of trials, but through our efforts the Lord has placed people in our path that need help. I love being a missionary.

I love you all!

Elder Ball

P.S. Pics finally!

That mountain

My friend Elder S. Gifford Nielsen
The famous Matira beach
The gang, Elder Ball, Elder Gilson, Elder Requillart, our broski Mica,
and Elder Lee Chip Sao, at Matira beach
Same beach, different day, lunch break. Lookin good Sao

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The other side of the postcard (Bora Bora - week #2)

Kia ora! 

Its been a pretty solid second week on Bora Bora for Elder Lee Chip Sao and I. We've been blessed again to find a large amount of new references, and we haven't even had time to contact all of them! But after being here for two weeks the excitement and the whole idea of being on Bora Bora is starting to calm down a little bit. Of course the island is beautiful and I'm stoked to be here, but when you start getting to work it feels like any other area. You see a little bit past the cliché paradise and you rather see the working life, the everyday struggles of people who live here. The other side of the postcard, you could say.

Front side of the postcard

Our week started out great Tuesday with A------- still progressing. We finished talking about the Restoration with him and he understood everything completely. The Spirit was powerful, and things were looking good, and we extended the baptismal commitment... and he said he'll think about it. At least he didn't say no! He said he'll read the Book of Mormon, and when we came back, you know it, he read the Book of Mormon! He still needs to pray and ask God if it is true, but its sure that once he gains a strong testimony of these things he will make the decision to be baptized. 

Then Wednesday, life got even more awesome! The 4 of us Bora elders had the privilege of going to Raiatea for a multizone conference with Elder S. Gifford Nielsen of the Seventy, along with hes wife. He's one of the coolest guys of ever. He's an old quarterback for the Houston Oilers, and he gave an awesome talk two or three conferences ago about having a missionary work game plan. We had a sweet conference with him, and the thing that stood out to me the most that he taught us is that we are on missions to become better parents. So basically I'm a dad in training. And its totally true, where else are you going to learn how to teach others the gospel, and acquire Christlike attributes like patience, charity, faith and the like? It was awesome, and I also got to play a hymn arrangement on piano for the conference. Its been a while since I've performed!

Multizone Conference with Elder Gifford Nielsen

The coolest experience was after the conference. Elder and Sister Nielsen were headed back to Bora with us, so we had the chance to spend some time at the airport with them. While we were talking, Sister Nielsen told us to listen carefully, and we all heard the song I Am a Child of God being plucked on a ukulele behind us. We looked and there was this big dude with long hair with his ukulele playing a children's hymn. He must be a member! So Elder Lee Chip Sao and I head over there to go talk to him. We find out that he's an inactive member, and he was waiting for a plane to Papeete. Then Elder Nielsen comes over and asks him to play the song again. It was pretty funny! He talks to him as well and finds out he's an inactive member, and then invites him to a stake conference in Faaa Saturday and Sunday. He said that he would come! After parting ways and getting on our plane, Elder Nielsen asked what we all learned from this experience, and probably the biggest thing that we learned was that this was a member who needed help, who wanted to come back and wanted us to find him. If not he wouldn't have played I Am a Child of God. There's people everywhere who must see us and want us to find them and help them come back. Puts things into perspective a little bit!

That's about all I have time for this week. The mission life is extraordinary. You learn a lot. I love you all and until next week!

Elder Ball

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pearl of the Pacific (Bora Bora - week #1)

Ia ora na!

So, voila la suite! Like I mentioned at the end of my last letter, I got transferred. It was a little expected, but nonetheless bittersweet. After being in Vairao for almost 6 months, it was tough to leave the members and the amis that i grew to love so much. I had the chance to bear a final testimony during testimony meeting, and at the end they decided to put God Be With You Till We Meet Again as the closing hymn. Whattup with that, that's not even fair. I almost cried! I said final goodbyes to the members before leaving that chapel for the last time in who knows how long, and before I know it that Sunday night I was at the airport ready to leave for Bora Bora.

And now the nitty gritty on Bora. I have been transferred to the Anau ward with Elder Lee Chip Sao as my companion. He's from the Papeete 1st ward, he's been 8 months on his mission and he's already been here in Bora for about 4 months. I already knew him well enough since he served in my last zone before and we've been on a split together which was totally rad. He's a total goofball, and I'm excited to serve with him.

Upon arriving at the Bora Bora airport (which is on an outer islet surrounding the main island), he and a couple young single adults from the ward were there to pick me up and we took off on a shuttle boat for the main island. This island is insanely gorgeous! The whole main island is surrounded by a huge outer reef mostly formed by smaller islets, so because of that there is a beautiful lagoon in between the main island and the islets. There are all kinds of shades of blue in the lagoon and on all of the islets there are white sand beaches that stretch out. If you want paradise, this is it. They call this island the Pearl of the Pacific, and it is rightly named.

On Bora, there are two wards, Anau and Vaitape. We live with the two elders for Vaitape, Elder Gilson and Elder Requillart. Their ward is kickin', and they do great work. As for the ward Anau... let's just say that the work has been low... and pretty low.  I'm supposed to see whats going on and boost the ward up a little bit, since there will be a division in the two wards in the coming month. It's a little different from my last ward, but despite the difference we got a ton of work to do!

I can say first off that the Lord has blessed us this week. After getting to know the area a little bit through the area book and the things that Elder Lee Chip Sao showed to me, we managed to fill our time up in seeing inactive members. On the island, there are around 1000 members... and there are maybe 400 that are active. So, this place could use some reactivation anyway! In doing that we were able to find a large amount of references, and that gave us even more things to do! Through one reference we found a new investigator named A------. He's living with a less-active member named K--. We had an awesome first few lessons with him this week, and he even came to church yesterday! First week and he's already progressing. We're stoked to be teaching him, and he loves the lessons!

I had the chance to meet a good amount of the members of the ward as well, including the leaders. I love these people already, and its apparent that our ward has a lot of potential and that most of the members want to work.  Our bishop took us around the area Thursday to see a couple inactives and to teach an investigator lesson with us, and we assisted the ward council and had a coordination meeting with our ward mission leader and everything. I'm confident that things will get moving here soon.

That's about it for the week! P-days are pretty awesome here, last week we went on a hike and today we spent time in a service project removing dirt from a mudslide that landed on the church building a couple months ago... and unfortunately, i cant send photos! There's a virus on my memory card thanks to the computer at Vairao, and I don't want to soil the computers here. Photos will come as soon as a clean it somehow! I love you all, and until next week!

Elder Ball

Alrighty, I managed to find a good photo on the computer, its a shot from the airport. Pretty cool

Monday, October 13, 2014

Welcome to Paradise (Vairao - week #24)

Ia ora na!

Well, it was a great week this week. Of course some difficulties, but life was great this week in Vairao. I truly realized how much I love the members here and how much it was a blessing to serve in this area. 

I'd like to talk a little bit about T-----. She's an investigator that we've been teaching for a very long time, even before we got here. Her husband, C---, is an inactive member. He hides from us or runs away whenever we come by. There was a time last month when T----- was ready for baptism and her baptism date was fixed, and C--- was all good with it, then like a week before the baptism C---changes his mind and doesn't want T----- to be baptized without him coming back to the church, which is dumb because he doesn't make any visible effort to reach that goal... he then fights with T----- , and by the end of the argument they end up drinking and smoking together... dang it!

Well at the beginning of the week Elder Millett and I were able corner the two at their house in a surprise visit, and fortunately they came out and we did a lesson with both of them! The lesson started great after we talked with them a little bit and followed up on their situation, and I felt prompted to ask a question: "C---, do you guys feel like your life is simple?" He thought a little bit, and then he just said "no way man, its way complicated. There's all kinds of problems." We then asked well, why? And if that's the case, do you think that God wants your life to be complicated? It turned into this awesome lesson about how obedience to commandments brings blessings and that while there's work to do, following Christ makes our life much simpler, avoiding so many problems that sin brings. The Spirit was there, and all in all C--- accepted to follow the lessons with T----- and not run away anymore. It's a step forward!

This week we also had a ward activity that was awesome! It was a Friday Saturday Sunday triple combination takedown that we called the Mega Super Weekend. Too rad. Friday night was an exposition of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We did it in an indoor playing field where all the functions of the ward such as relief society, primary, etc. make display tables showing their part in the church, and all the guest rotate stations. It was awesome and super well done. The members were enthusiastic about it, and the guest loved it. Saturday was a sports day, which was fun, and Sunday night was a fireside where Sister Taylor came and talked about her experience with the accident. It was awesome, and many investigators were touched by it. A lot of effort for this weekend, with some good results coming out.

Casey has been transferred to Bora Bora

That's what I'll leave for you guys this week! Oh, in other news... I got transferred. Ia ora na from Bora Bora. I'll leave you more details on that next week. Stay tuned ;) I love you all!

Elder Ball

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

G conf and an angry dude (Vairao - week #23)

Ia ora na tatou!

It's been a relatively rough but crazy week, to say the least. We've lost some investigators (P----- and T----, for example) as a result of choosing to follow other religions. It's truly tough, but that's just when you gotta buckle down and find some new amis. It's easier to find time to look for new investigators when the current investigators in your list start thinning out. We've found a couple this week, and hope to contact more next week! One ami is named R-----, she's a 9 year old girl of a part-member family. Her mother and siblings are all inactive members, while the father is a nonmember. He isn't too quick to accept us yet, but at least he approves of us teaching R----- which is great. It's a little difficult teaching R-----, since she has little to no knowledge of Jesus Christ, and since she's young it's hard for her to grasp all these new concepts. Luckily the Primary President lives just next door, so with her help R----- will be moving along here soon!

We had a solid lesson with T-------- as well. He read the chapter in the Book of Mormon that we gave him two times, and he said both times he felt such a warmth and peace as he read, and he felt the same things as he prayed. We told him that sure enough it was the Holy Ghost that let him now that these things were true. After reading a little of the chapter with him, he started to ask many awesome questions, like how to repent, importance of baptism, why was Jesus baptized, even how he could become a missionary. These are all questions that Elder Millett and I love to answer, without a doubt. In talking about baptism, we asked him what his thoughts were about being baptized and he said that he still wanted to. We invited him to be baptized in November, but he didn't want to choose a date yet! It's frustrating, but I know he'll make it to baptism soon enough. He progresses awesome! Just like his brother N----. Their both just awesome bros.

As for the craziness, Sunday Elder Millett and I went to do baptismal interviews for a couple. I ended up doing the interview for the man of the couple. He was a super nice guy, and he had some truly amazing experiences in his life that helped his testimony grow. Everything was perfect, until near the end when he revealed something that was not yet completely resolved. After talking about the sacred nature of baptism and of repentance, I recommended that we push the baptism back a little bit to give him more time to prepare. All of a sudden his countenance changed. Then he said this: "Elder, if I'm not gonna be baptized next week, I'm cancelling everything--the marriage, the baptism, and I'm kicking my wife and kids out of the house." ...uh, what? I definitely didn't want that to happen. I tried to explain to him that it's for the better if we push it back, but he just did not want to. This is when the devil and the angel appear on your shoulders: "Come on man, just let him get baptized, he's ready! It'll make the zone look good!" Then on the other shoulder "who you gonna fear, God or man?" Well, can't argue with that one, the Spirit was telling me he's not ready. So despite the threats, I told him we'll have to push it back at least a week. Turns out his partner wasn't completely ready either. They ended up accepting the decision, however unhappily. But it was a moment in which I was truly tested. I feel like I made the good choice!

Of course, just thought id mention how great it was to watch general conference this week. I especially loved Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk from Saturday morning about finding truth. He talked about how long ago, scientists believed that there was nothing outside of our galaxy the Milky Way because that was as far as they were capable of searching. But as advancements in technology and honest efforts to search even farther increased, scientists were able to locate hundreds of galaxies and start systems, that there really is more out there. Believe it or not, it's the same with the Gospel. The mysteries of God will be revealed to us and truth will be found, if we search honestly and diligently enough, careful not to harden our hearts to it. That's what amazes me about the Book of Mormon; how could anyone reject this additional counsel from our Father in heaven, or at least not desire to see for themselves if it really is His word? People will only receive truth and light if they honestly seek it out without a hard heart.

Sunset in Tahitit

That's it for the week. Here's a picture after a lesson with R---------. This is his backyard. That's mystical Tahiti for ya. I love you all, and a faaitoito!

Elder Ball

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A spiritual boost when you need one (Vairao - week #22)

Ia ora na tatou!
I'm pretty stoked about last week, because it was definitely a solid week with some general and personal miracles. This week was a well-appreciated spiritual boost, for a number of reasons.
This week we had a zone conference with President and his assistants on Thursday, so in the preceding days Elder Millett and I were seeking inspiration for the training we were gonna give for our missionaries. The general problem for the zone is that progressing investigators have a hard time accepting a baptismal date, and that baptisms fixed end up being pushed back or cancelled because the investigators end up falling back into their old habits. So in searching how to fortify our investigators' faith, Elder Millett and I received this pretty obvious but overlooked revelation: The Book of Mormon. Duh. The only way that investigators are going to have enough faith to make it to baptism and beyond is to read regularly the Book of Mormon and to receive a testimony from the Holy Ghost that it is true. And there we felt that the whole zone could apply that principle a whole lot better. Elder Millett prepared a training on the importance of the Book of Mormon and how to use it, and I started preparing a training on fortifying our own testimony of it.
In preparing for that training, my testimony of the Book of Mormon only grew. I remembered back to the time in the MTC 16 months ago when I received a witness, clear as day, that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. But even so, that was 16 months ago, and I feel like the spiritual drive that I had to proclaim its truthfulness has since calmed down a little bit. So in looking in Preach My Gospel, in chapter 5, it actually recommends us to apply Moroni's promise regularly so as to have continually a strong testimony of its truthfulness. Welp, it's been a while since I've applied Moroni's promise! So in preparing for the training, I had the privilege of applying that again. I wont take the liberty of explaining how I got my answer, but all in all, I knew again 100 percent that it was true.
On Thursday we had our zone conference. Elder Millett and I delivered our training, and it was a success. You could tell that it was needed, and the Spirit confirmed that it was what our Heavenly Father wanted us to share that day. The sister training leaders, the assistants and President and Sister Bize gave us super edifying and much needed trainings as well. It was the greatest zone conferences Ive ever had on my mission! Organizing it went well, everything was on time and it was just super. I was extremely happy.
Zone conference
After the conference, we went on a two day split with the assistants. Elder Millett stayed in Vairao with Elder Larsen, and I went out to Papeete with Elder Taylor. Elder Taylor is one of the most powerful missionaries Ive ever met. Cool, calm, yet humble, and no fear. Ive learned many things on the split, most of all how faith is one of the most important aspects of our ministry. What is there to fear when you're a disciple of Jesus Christ? The split boosted my confidence and I was pretty pumped to get back to Vairao to apply the things that I learned.
We got to Vairao just in time for our baptism! We've been teaching Ronaldo for about a month now. He's the coolest kid in town! He lives with his dad Morgan. His sister Megane was baptised about a year ago, and now his dad wanted us to teach Ronaldo as well who was past age. I love Ronaldo, such a stud. He came to church the following Sunday for his confirmation in a blazer, lookin like a g. It was a happy moment.
Baptism! Elder Millett, Ronaldo, Frere Tollis, moi, Elder Taylor
I'll end by leaving you all with Moroni's promise in Moroni 10:4-5:

 "And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
"And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."

I know that the Book of Mormon is true, because I received it, read it, and I asked God if it was true. He manifested its truthfulness unto me by the power of the Holy Ghost. Anyone can apply this promise to know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.

I love you all, have a fantastic week!

Elder Ball

Monday, September 22, 2014

Small but significant (Vairao - week #21)

Ia ora na!

It's been another short week. It feels like this week Elder Millett and I were caught up in a lot of zone business, and that involved a lot of driving around in between areas and helping the other missionaries, and naturally the amount of lessons we taught this week was pretty small. But the magical thing is, when we need to go over to another area, the lessons that we had planned during that time are miraculously cancelled by a phone call from our investigators. So in the end, Heavenly Father arranges things for us so that we can get things done that we need to. I'ts awesome.

We had a solid lesson with T-------- this week, the investigator that we found last week trying to contact an old investigator. We taught the Restoration, and I tell ya there is nothing better than teaching that lesson super well with your companion so that the investigator completely understands and feels the Spirit. We had just finished testifying near the end of the lesson, and before we even had the chance to invite, T-------- asked us "What happens if I'm baptized twice? Cuz I'm already baptized Protestant." We explained to him the need of authority in baptism, and that without it baptism cannot be done and be accepted by God. He understood, we invited him to be baptized by someone holding authority, and he accepted! Only the second visit and he accepted, he's truly been waiting for this message. 

With N----, the brother of T--------, he accepted a date as well, for the beginning of November. We're sure that he'll be ready way before that, but he didn't wanna do it any sooner. He's so awesome! We did a follow up with him on the Book of Mormon, and it turns out that he had a pretty powerful response to his prayer that the book is true. N---- is honestly super humble and open to the Spirit, it's no wonder that he got an answer fast enough! He's already gotten over some hard trials, and he is truly becoming happier and happier every time we see him. I love the guy!

This weekend we had our stake conference for the Papeari stake. It was an awesome experience, and I sure learned so many great things from the leaders. We had the privilege of Elder Adolf Johansson of the Seventy came and shared some outstanding messages with us. Perhaps one of the greatest things when he shared a Tongan saying with us (I'm not even gonna try to spell it) that means "small and significant". He talked about how in the world, the islands are small, but so significant because there are Priesthood holders to be found even on these islands. He also talked about how God will not fail. Joseph Smith saw our day, and when he sent missionaries out in the islands he knew that the church would flourish there. He said himself, "The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done."

Sometimes I, personally, feel small and insignificant in my weaknesses while working in the Lord's vineyard, but God will not fail, so neither can I. As Ammon stated, "I will boast of my God, for in His strength I can do all things." There seriously is nothing to fear or doubt in missionary work. Even though we're one person, we're still a part of it, and with His help we can get it done.

That's the week! I love you all and I hope that you all have a great week this week.

Ma te aroha,
Elder Ball

Monday, September 15, 2014

Shoulder to the Plow (Vairao - week #20 )

Ia ora na!

Ill be quick this week. We haven't had too much excitement, but on a mission its impossible to have nothing to talk about so inaha te parau api!

P------- and C------- are doing fine. Still hurting a ton, but doing fine. We had a lesson with them this week, and in the beginning it was hard, because C------- expressed her hate and how she's pretty much lost her faith in God, asking why He would take her daughter when they've believed in Him all their life. We were able to explain the Plan of Salvation again, and that trials and tragedies are just a part of this mortal life that happens to everyone, not just the wicked. In explaining the atonement of Jesus Christ and how He makes up for the wrong in life, the Holy Ghost came and testified and calmed things down a little bit. These kinds of lessons are just difficult. It takes seriously careful listening to the investigator and to the Spirit to say the right things in a sensitive situation. But by the end of the lesson, we were all at peace. I love this family so much, and desire their happiness above all.

We had a cool contact experience as well. We felt prompted to go see an old investigator after P------ and C-------'s lesson. We get there to find her nephew who said that she moved to France... well we talk to the nephew, his name's T-------. We explain a little bit what we do and he agreed to meet with us the following day. And the next day during our lesson, we talk with him and just his style and his character totally reminds us of N----, another investigator of ours. We ask him what his last name is, and he tells us. Hmm, same last name as N----. We ask him if he's related to N----, and he says "yeah... hes my bro!" What are the chances, honestly! We had a good first contact with him and left him a brochure on the Restoration, and he totally loved what we taught.

Things are also going well with T------. Shes down to be baptized as soon as possible, she just needs her father's permission since shes only 16. She's been doing her best to be a good example in the family and changing her adolescent behavior (you know how teens are. I was there!) We also explained the Word of Wisdom this week. She explained to us that she drinks coffee every morning and that shes willing and able to stop completely, but only if she has something else in the house to drink every morning. So the next day at church, Elder Millett and I bring over our tin of Milo and happily give it to her. She has no excuse now!

Sadly, despite our little miracle last week, we lost I--, one of our prime investigators. She told us at the beginning of our lesson that she was more attracted to the Adventist church, and was pretty set on being baptized. There wasn't much else that we could do, so we left our final testimony saying that despite the attractiveness of a church, nothing matters as much as being cleansed of our sins through proper ordinances performed through priesthood authority, and that the Book of Mormon is proof that these proper ordinances and this priesthood authority exist in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But we respected her choice, and said we'd always be there if she wanted to know more. It was sad, but we did our job, and we wont stand guilty before God at the last day for not doing our best!

That's the dealio for this week. We've been working hard, and shall continue to work hard. I love you all, have yourselves a great week!

Elder Ball

Monday, September 8, 2014

Les tendres miséricordes (Vairao - week #19)

Ia ora na!

The rain has been falling nonstop for the past week! Brings about a little change. But, life is moving quickly in Vairao. Too quickly. Today was transfers, and luckily I survived and will be staying with Elder Millett for maybe another 6 weeks. But after thinking a little bit, Elder Millett and his MTC group finish their mission in 2 transfers. Then after 2 more, the next MTC group, and in just 2 more, OUR OWN MTC GROUP WILL FINISH. In 6 transfers, my mission will be over. Seriously though, where did the time go! Needless to say, Im loving every moment while I can.

Our week started off too good. We got a call from a member with an invite to a family night at a non-member family's home in Teahupoo. About 2 weeks ago, the daughter of this family committed suicide. So a member who knows them well asked them if they would like to hear a message about the Plan of Salvation. They accepted, they hit us up, and we came! And honestly, was I nervous... We teach lessons all the time, but i was just nervous this time! We came and met P------- and C------- and their family. Turns out their son A------ is that one guy that I talked about in an earlier email, when we did an OLB and he said he saw us on TV and all that. Pretty sweet. But anyway, it was apparent that this family was in pain. I felt so sad with them... The grave of their daughter was placed in their courtyard, still beautifully ornated with flowers and photos. The family looked to it constantly. Knowing that this lesson could change this family's life forever puts just a little pressure on. But also knowing that this message is truly God's message for this family gave us strength, and we taught a great lesson on the Plan of Salvation and the eternal family. When we needed it most, I truly felt the Spirit teach through us to help this family, and the entire lesson their gaze was fixed upon us.

After the lesson finished, the family came to us and thanked us sincerely for the message! We then ate some hors d'oeuvres and A------ even brought out a couple ukuleles for Elder Millett and I to try out. So we played and joked around with this family. Soon sad faces turned into smiles and even loud laughs and everybody was just happy! Seriously, the mood before the family night and after the family night couldnt have been more different. Thinks just clicked. We were told later by the member that that was the first time P------- laughed or smiled since the death of their daughter. This was honestly a tender mercy for us and this family, even a miracle I could say. The Lord loves his children, and he uses us his servants as he will. 

Speaking of tender mercies, we had one of those tender mercies in disguise you could say. Saturday evening we felt like we wanted to go see I-- after one of our lessons got cancelled. We pull into her yard just to find that she wasnt home! Bummer... so we start to circle around her yard in our car to make our exit. But as we started to pull forward, our truck stopped moving. Instantly I realized what it was. Because of the nonstop torrential downpour we've had this week, everything has turned into mud, and now our car was starting to get stuck in I--'s yard. I try to back up slowly, but its already too late, the two back wheels of the car spun hopelessly in the mud. As much as I love our little Toyota pickup, you gotta hate it when it doesnt have 4 wheel drive! Elder Millett gets out to try and push while I try drive back, but still no help. Then, thinking back to a certain similar experience that a certain apostle once talked about (honestly, like any missionary would do), I felt inspired to say "Elder... we need a load!" So Elder Millett gets in the bed of the truck and starts jumping up and down, trying to put enough weight on the back tires to get traction. But, despite trying to draw upon the wisdom of Elder Bednar and his general conference experience, we were still stuck. Lame.

Well, we humbly (and I mean humbly) called bishop to tow us out with his own 4x4. He did, and we got unstuck. And just as we were about to get the heck out of there, I-- pulled in! It was good timing, and we had a moment to chat. But it wasnt a good chat... She had just come back from a baptismal service at the Adventist church, and apparently she had a great time... She told us that she has decided to be baptized in the Adventist church, and didnt wish to take the lessons anymore. We pulled a calm face and said okay, but inside I pretty much exploded. We then talked a little bit about what she's learned with us, and we asked her if she believed that the Book of Mormon was true. She said well yeah, its awesome! Then we explained again to her that if the Book of Mormon is true, no other church could be the Church of Jesus Christ because they dont have the fullness of the Gospel. All in all, we were able to fix another lesson with her in the end, in such a critical moment. 

Looking back, we did not get humiliatingly stuck in the mud for nothing! I feel convinced that if we hadnt been there at that critical moment to speak with I--, we wouldnt have gotten another fresh chance like that again, and it would have been too late and we would have lost her. If we didnt get stuck, we would have already been outta there. Call it what you want, but I call it a tender mercy from a Heavenly Father who loves His children.

Every week there is so much to share, but only the best can be shared in one week. The adventures of Ball and Millett shall continue. I love you all! Maru noa.

Elder Ball

Monday, September 1, 2014

Peace (Vairao - week #18)

Ia ora na tout le monde!
Its been an interesting week, to say the least. Life is good with Elder Millett, he's definitely the life of the party.  Anyway not too sure what to share, but we've had some great lessons with our investigators! Last week we started the lessons with an investigator who came to the our temple trip. Her name is I---, and she's the total bomb! Her faith in Heavenly Father is already super strong, and she's looking for the truth, learning a little from the Adventists. Elder Millett and I had an awesome lesson with her on the Restoration, and when she learned about the Book of Mormon, she was stoked to learn that more scripture exists. She was even more stoked when she learned that God can answer her prayers through the power of the Holy Ghost. She said that if she receives a response to her prayers, she will indeed be baptized. We proposed her baptism by saying "there will be a service for baptism September 27th." like you should, but before we finish her member friend, sister H-----, was all like "oh really? For who?" That's when we kinda nudged our heads like "hello, it's hers!" Haha it was funny, she finally understood. I--- said "wow, you guys received that revelation just now for my baptism? So cool!" She's so open to the Spirit and her faith is incredible. She even wanted to join us and the ward missionaries in a fast this weekend, and she pulled through the whole way. We're excited for the progress that she'll make in learning the gospel.

Also, for a couple weeks now we've been teaching a man named N-----. Not a long time ago, his wife left him and his children, and he came to us as a reference from his member uncle asking us to find his wife in Papara. Well, it's sad but we couldn't guarantee that we could bring his wife back to him, but at least we could guarantee him peace through the gospel of Jesus Christ! Even though we told him this, he accepted the lessons, and we gave the reference to the sisters in Papara anyway to go see his wife. We had a great lesson with him on the Plan of Salvation. Seriously, there is nothing like the Plan of Salvation to give purpose to someone's life. He felt the Spirit super strongly, and he even came to church Sunday and had a great experience with the members who welcomed him and everything.
Haha, about the fast this week, awkward experience. I started fasting Saturday night. But Sunday, there was a little bit of a mix up because our dinner with a member family, the T family, was switched by them to the afternoon, since there was a fireside that night. I explained to them in advance that I wouldn't be able to eat but Elder Millett could (since he was sick and wasn't fasting), but that they could eat anyway, I could spend the time with them and that I could take the food home with me. Well when I show up, the food was all laid out, but they had seemed to forgotten the fact that I was fasting, so I reminded them. I was really torn by the choice between being loyal and continuing my fast with the ward missionaries or pleasing the members and eating. They told me I could do whatever I wanted and that either wouldn't bother them, but it was pretty obvious that they wanted me to break my fast. I couldn't blame them. But I went in the backroom to pray and ask Heavenly Father what should be done. I felt pretty clearly that if I started the fast, I should endure to the end, and that this family would understand, so I came back and told them. Then Frere T was all like, "that is a great choice Elder Ball. So, out of respect we shall wait with you and not eat until later!" That's when Satan invited himself over. The wife and children were like "What?!" and pretty soon the whole family was murmuring and the father was pretty much saying stuff like "don't let Satan get ahold of your hearts!!" The wife got up and went into her bedroom. I explained that I really didn't care if they ate in front of me, I just wanted to converse with them. Elder Millett started to say "dude, I'm uncomfortable..." Before things heated up too much, I quickly went and broke my fast, and we all ate together happily. It was just an unfortunate turn of events. Heavenly Father knows I wanted to make the right choice!
Well, there are many things that happened this week, but I could only fit the greatest in. I love you all and the adventures of Elder Ball and Elder Millett shall continue. Peace.

Elder Ball

Monday, August 25, 2014

Can I never leave? (Vairao week #17)

Ia ora na tatou!
It's been a fantastic week for Elder Tera and I. Some good small miracles that have happened here and there! First and foremost to talk about was the miracle or Aranui's baptism! At last! Aranui is the radio host that we have been teaching ever since I got here to Vairao. He's such a humble, shy guy, and he had a hard time understanding many of the principles of he Gospel that we taught, so it took slow, careful and patient teaching. But with the Lord's help, his life has been blessed. Not too long ago, his mother passed away, and that was a trial that took its toll on him. One day while reading the Book of Mormon, the Holy Ghost confirmed that what he was reading was true, and he felt a calm come over him. His mother came to his mind during this experience, and he felt the impression that his mother lived on and was watching over him. Since this experience, he has wanted to be baptized, but opposition from the rest of his family held him back, until finally after many prayers his family decided to support him in his decision. On Friday, the baptismal service took place, and when he came up out of the water i couldn't stop smiling! At the end of the service he bore a simple testimony of his experiences in learning the gospel, and he asked humbly that the members help him accomplish the ordinances for his parents. It was a beautiful night!
Elder Clark, Frere Teaue, Aranui, Elder Larsen, moi, Elder Tera, and Tati!
We also started the lessons with an investigator who came to the temple. Her name is T------, and she is the sister in law of one of our ward missionaries. Shes 16 years old, and shes already prepared to be baptized. About a year ago, her member cousin came to stay with them and spent some good time sharing the gospel with the family. He taught them about the Restoration, the Plan of Salvation and everything. Then he left, and no follow up was made! What?? So basically for a year T----- has been reading the Book of Mormon, and she already knows that its all true! She even keeps the commandments, and is just super righteous. Yet, she says that shes not ready for baptism and doesn't want to fix a date... she hasn't admitted it, but we believe that it could be the her parents who don't want her to be baptized. We've had some awesome lessons with her this week, and we definitely realize that its definitely about time that the Lord sent us to help her make the decision now.
Me and our humble Toyota pickup. We get anywhere together.
Another small experience, while one of our lessons were cancelled, we felt the impression to go visit an old investigator. She ended up not being there, but we met and talked with her grandson. It was hilarious, we introduced ourselves, and then he said "ohh, so it was you guys that I saw on TV Monday night, at the Billabong Pro!" Heh, yeah that was us I guess.This guy is the bomb! He talked to us how he doesn't belong to a religion, but he believes firmly in God and prays every day. He doesn't smoke or drink, and he and a group of friends basically pass their time talking about God and encouraging other youth in the neighborhood to stop smoking and drinking. We basically told him that that's exactly what we do, but we do it in all of Polynesia, and that he could become a missionary too if he listened to our message. He was down, we'll be seeing him this week! I feel that the Spirit truly led us towards this young man. I hope he'll accept us!
Me killing Elder Tera
Like I said, it was a fantastic week, but it ended bittersweet. I said goodbye to, or "killed", my companion, Elder Tera, since he finished his mission in time to head over to France to go to school. I loved Elder Tera, we were two guys with pretty similar tastes, and he's one of my best buddies. I'll miss him for sure! But, I'm happy to be with my new companion Elder Millett! He's from Seattle, and I don't think I'll ever have a dull moment with him. Hes very enthusiastic and a real jokester, and a solid worker at that. Life will be good with him.
A pretty sweet photo that a member found for us on Tahiti's news website. Model status.
I love you all! Have a great week.
Elder Ball