Monday, January 27, 2014

Stand tall, it gets a little better (Tubuai - week #16)

Ia ora na!

This will be a little short, because again it's been a little bit of a less active week. First of all, life is good with Elder Teihotu. He's a good comp and very diligent, a good teacher as well. Thanks to him I've been able to pinpoint some of my weaknesses and become a more effective missionary.

I'll start off with some good things to say before i mention the difficulties. We found a new investigator this week, who is the aunt of our other investigator C-. Her name is H-, and she lives with an inactive member named T-. They have 7 crazy, savage little children who are totally hilarious. H- loves going to church with T-.and some of the kids, and she has seen the spiritual difference between this church and some others. She and T- have such a desire to change, so much that they even scheduled their marriage in February. She wants to be baptized, plain and simple! But the thing with her is, she has family opposition... that same grandmother of C- that i mentioned in the last email? Yeah, that's H-'s mom. Shes already threatened H- that, because H-and T- live on family property, they will be rejected and thrown out in the streets if she's baptized. And because they'll be thrown out in the streets, H-'s mom will call the social services and say that there are children living out in the streets. After that, she'll take their children. H-and T-.know that will happen, cuz its already happened before. That's the situation, and I'll leave it at that. Either way, they want to learn from us, so we'll teach them, help them feel the Holy Ghost, pray for them and her mom, and they'll decide for themselves what shall be done.

As I said, there have been some difficulties. C- decided that, because of his Grandma, he doesn't want to get baptized anymore. All in all, he doesn't want to start a world war, as he would say. Its been sad because he was really enthusiastic about it before. However, we've found with him that he hasn't been keeping his commitments to pray and read the scriptures, excepting our lessons with him. What we gotta do now is really help him know that through these things, he will have really powerful, spiritual experiences that will give him a testimony that these things are true. That will be the motivation for him to overcome the oppression, to stand tall despite the wall in front of him. He's been doing great with the word of wisdom, he's completely given up smoking for three weeks now. I don't know how he has done it without praying, but his willpower really is strong. We're still stoked for him anyway!

Things are all right with our other investigators. Not too many lessons this week, lots of talking with members and committing them to share the gospel with their friends, and to our dismay when we do our follow ups, not a whole lot of action done. It's been tough, but also a good experience to really encourage the members and show them how they can be a help in the Lord's vineyard. I know the members much better than before now, and things are great in terms of trust with them. Just gotta faaitoito!

To wrap up I thought I'd just bear my testimony of the love our Heavenly Father has for us. In our life, we have all sorts of weaknesses and imperfections, and as a missionary, a servant of the Lord, I've found that I have plenty. While teaching the perfect gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and bringing others to His perfect, restored church, one cannot help but feel a little imperfect. But Heavenly Father knows this, he does not expect any of us to be perfect. All he expects of us is to do our absolute best in striving to be like Jesus Christ. Through His help and His guidance and His love, we can overcome these weaknesses. The Lord said to the prophet Moroni: "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." Faith in our Heavenly Father and humility before Him are what it takes to overcome these weaknesses, and do our best. I know that Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us, and he is willing to help us if we are willing to turn to him.

Anyway, that's about it for this week. Its kinda hard to remember everything that happened this week, felt kinda like a scramble. But with faith, hope and charity, the odds can be overcome. Things will get better! I love you all, and a faaitoito!

Elder Ball

Monday, January 20, 2014

Il fait trop beau... (Tubuai - week #15)

Ia ora na!

It’s been an interesting week. Frankly, not too much has happened in terms of lessons this past week. However, there have been some changes and there has been improvement between the full time missionaries and the members here on Tubuai.

First change, new companion! Elder Firuu was transferred to serve back on Tahiti, and I received a new companion Elder Teihotu. He arrived Friday, and since then I’ve been showing him the island and introducing him to the members and investigators. he’s from my first area, Pirae! He’s cool, he’s been on the mission for about a year now. He teaches really well, and he knows how to work hard as well. I’m pretty stoked to work with him and explode the work here together.
As I said, we haven’t had many lessons this week, as sadly we have lost a good amount of them. Like M- and M-, they left for Tahiti for an indefinite period of time. Still searching for new investigators, new people on this tiny little island who want to receive the gospel. We've found some pretty good investigators, thanks to the members! We found V-, a woman who had already taken a few lessons from the missionaries before in her life. She lives with a man who has been excommunicated. In our first visit, she confirmed that through prayer she had already received an answer and a testimony that this church is true, and she wants so badly for her and her son to be baptized. All we gotta do is help them and encourage them to pick a date to get married, and all will be well. She understands the lessons and the scriptures very well, and thanks to her member friend who introduced us, she always has someone by her side to explain things when we aren’t there. She’s a great investigator, and I’m excited for her and her faith in Christ.
Aside from that, we've really been trying this week to improve our relationships with the members and leaders of the church. This week, we successfully had our dinners in the members’ homes every day, rather than them dropping the food off at our home. It was great, we even had some investigators present during the meals! The dinners with the members are just great times to help them out with the missionary work and leave them spiritually uplifted. We've been doing our best to do some service as well, such as working a little in the taro fields of some members.
In addition to that, we've had a district training meeting with all the leaders of the district and branches, which includes elders quorum, relief society, young men etc; all for the purpose of working together in the missionary work. It was just a great chance to lay down some expectations between the members and the missionaries, and form a plan of action of what were gonna do this year and how were gonna do it. Everybody’s in it and a little more motivated than before, which is excellent. Were only hoping for improvement these next few weeks.
Our investigator, C-, is doing great as well. He hasn’t smoked pot for two weeks now! Haha were so excited for him, and he’s been feeling great too. The only problem that rests now is his Grandmother who well reject and disown him if he’s baptized... we’re really trying our best to get him ready for the 8 February!
That’s about it for this week, life is good and beautiful. A little too beautiful... the weather has been sooo hot this week, id say even up to the 100s. Nasty. Anyway, love you all, and a faaitoito!
Elder Ball

Captions: photo #1 above of sunset: à la pêche
Photo #2: Those days when you find a pig head in your freezer

Photo #3: Couldn’t pass up a photo moment like this one

Photo #4 Departure of Elder Firuu

Photo #5 Arrival of Elder Teihotu

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Quick note (Tubuai - week 14)

Hey Mom,

I got the two packages Christmas day! We've also had a good amount of rain this past week, but still not enough to keep the water flowing in our house, unfortunately. Also, I would love to send some pictures, but i don't have time today because there was no internet earlier today and I'm just here to say that I'm still alive. 

Hope life treats you all well, love you all and have a good week!


Monday, January 6, 2014

Party Animals Part 2 (Tubuai - week #13)

Ia ora na!
Happy New Year everybody! That makes 13 weeks here at Tubuai for me, and 8 months on the mission. Time is just flying, feels like yesterday that Elder Firuu and I just barely came to Tubuai. A lotta weird stuff to say about this week--probably the strangest on my mission.
First of all, good stuff happened--we fixed a baptism this week for the 8th of February! C is this 18 year old dude who is a total stud. Hes spent some good time partying in his days, but he is one of the most honest, truth-seeking guys I've ever met. His whole family is Catholic, and we've been chased off by them a few times. but C has such a desire to know more about Jesus Christ and has been looking into other religions. We told him that that's what we're there for: to bring him unto Christ through the fulness of His restored gospel. He likes to drink and he enjoys his paka (marijuana) but that can be overcome through faith in Christ. We're stoked for this guy.
We've found that we have some good success with the teens here. We just like to be friends with these guys and joke around with them and play soccer with them. This week we started teaching two other brothers, Te and Ta. Ta, who has 24 years, has already taken all the missionary lessons on the island Moorea and has already read the whole Book of Mormon. We were disappointed to hear that he never received a response through his prayers that the Book of Mormon is true, but he agreed to learn from us again and retry. His bro Te, 16 years, is pretty interested and just wants to know if God exists. They participate super well in the lessons, and they're fun to teach. They agreed to be baptized if they receive a testimony that these things are all true. It takes prayer and faith, and miracles can happen!
Sadly, there hasn't been much else going on here on Tubuai. Nothing but parties. Our other investigators, like H and F for example, have been so busy with family over that they have not had the time to have us over for the past 4 weeks. We've passed by many times and encouraged them to keep praying and reading the scriptures. They still come to Church, so that's great! But really, its been tough with everyone super busy. Also, it's been tough with everyone drunk.
With that being said, the drunkenness has only increased since last week. We had some nice drunk dude encounters this week. Lotta beer cans thrown at us, some juicy profanity as well. A good experience was us just on our way home, and in the middle of the street, these two guys are staggering and yelling amongst themselves. they see us and immediately they get in our way and stop us. These guys are seriously in our faces (these are big Tahitian guys, too) with their alcohol in their hands and their eyes pointing in different directions, yelling at us why the heck were we here. We just told em stuff like "we're here to tell you that God loves you!" to spare ourselves from another whiff of alcohol breath. We got away pretty easily. It was a very pleasant experience.

Well, those are my experiences for this week. This next week, I hope I can bring in some more teaching experiences rather than funny drunk guy experiences. But that's just a taste of what I've seen this week. The chaos will end soon.
I love you all, take care and live and love the Gospel and the Lord! A faaitoito!

Elder Ball