Monday, February 24, 2014

Saving Souls (Week #20 in Tubuai)

Ia ora na tatou!

This week we had the splendid opportunity to travel back to Tahiti for a mission conference with Elder Russell M Nelson, Tad R Callister, as well as Elder Pearson and Elder Tarati form the Pacific Area seventy, along with all their wives. It was an awesome week, full of personal revelation, blessings, and improvement.

Since we went to Tahiti, I don't have a lot of news concerning the area here at Tubuai. The only thing I think I can say is that last week H----- and T----- got married! And today, we ran into them to find out that they no longer live on their parents' property, but they found another place to live. They are no longer under the bounds of their parents. This is a huge blessing for them! This week, we will continue to teach them and see how we can help them. They missed us this week, we could tell!

It was a good week at Tahiti for sure. First day we had a good training meeting by the assistants. Those guys are studs, such good missionaries and spiritual powerhouses. They trained us on extending commitments, and they emphasized that we must not be shy but be confident that the Spirit will lead us in how to help them and commit them. These assistants are missionaries so powerful, they commit people to baptism in the first conversation and succeed. I don't really know how they do it, but it definitely makes me wanna be more bold! Always gotta listen to the Spirit though, and be sensitive to people's feelings, we can't go around forcing people to be baptized. Really good and inspiring meeting.

The next day, we had our interviews with President Sinjoux. Its been a while since I had a good interview with him, so it was great to talk with him. He asked me how many weeks I've been out at Tubuai, and i told him about 20 or so. He then said to me, "I think its about time Elder Ball. Expect a transfer call soon." Gulp. Not sure if Im ready to leave yet, but we shall see.

We spent our week at the missionary houses at Pirae. I slept in the same bed in the same house as my first sector, definitely brought backs some memories! We went on splits with the Elders of Pirae 1, they have some great investigators. We also had the chance to see some baptisms, one from Pirae 1 and another from my first sector Pirae 2. A woman named Wina, who I taught a few times before getting transferred, was baptized. It was a great, spiritual moment, and great to witness! It was also great to be able to chat a little bit with some of the members in the ward. It felt good to be able to speak fluently with them, since before it was a little more difficult!

Then of course, we had a great mission conference with the general authorities. I don't have enough time to discuss everything they said, every talk was solid. But one talk that struck me hard was given by Sister Nelson. She told the story of Oskar Schindler, who saved some 1000 Jews from the holocaust of WWII by hiring Jewish people into his business and bribing Nazi officials with expensive items and large sums of money. In spite of saving all these people from death, after the war he recounts that he could have done more. He said he could have sold his car for 10 more Jews. He could have sold his gold pin for 2 more Jews. He had so much more material worth to give to save lives, but he didn't. He said, "I could have gotten one more person... and I didn't!"

She then made the comparison with us, the missionaries. The only difference is that our mission, though it may not appear it, is much more serious. Its not just death we're talking about; its eternal salvation that is the question. As missionaries, our time is our money. How well are we spending it? Are we really doing all we can to open our mouths, talk to everybody and bring God's children home? Or are we too distracted by the luxuries of this island paradise? Are we serving in a manner that will please our Heavenly Father in doing absolutely all that we can? Or are we serving in a manner where we will say, at the end, "I could have gotten one more person... and I didn't"? That scared the bejeebers outta me. It totally put things into perspective for me. Our job is so joyous and really is a blessing, and it brings so much happiness and is a lot of fun. But it's serious stuff as well. This is a matter of saving souls. We are the ones who must do it, it is our mission and if there are people who could have heard us but didn't because of a lack of diligence on our part, the sin is on our heads. Doctrine and Covenants section 4 says it well; "Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day."

It truly has been a great week, and I learned so much on how I can be a better missionary, a better instrument in the Lord's hands. I know the Lord has called me to the work, and I know that it is His work and His church.

That's about it for this week!

Love you all, and a faaitoito!
Elder Ball

Monday, February 10, 2014

The good, the bad, and the embarrasing (Tubuai - week #18)

Ia ora na tatou!

Another week gone by, it’s been officially 18 weeks that I’ve been out here on Tubuai. Feels like it’s only been a month! This week had some shining moments, as well as some dull, as well as some glorious language mishaps.

First of all, things are still going with H---- and T----. They are seriously dedicated! Despite their poverty and their busy schedule, they still want to take time to meet with us. It’s excellent because they have scheduled their wedding for February 14 (yes, valentine’s day), but they haven’t even broken the news yet to H---‘s parents, for fear of them flipping out since she’s marrying a Mormon. This week Elder Teihotu and I taught them the principle of fasting, and how they can fast to overcome their hardships with drugs and H----'s parents. Saturday we started a fast, and the following Sunday night they agreed to talk to H----'s parents about the wedding. They made it through the whole fast, told the parents, and they turned out to be really pleased with the news! According to H---- that wouldn’t have been a normal reaction from them. Goes to show that Heavenly Father truly does answer honest, sincere prayers that are fortified through a fast. Fasting and prayer will be the way for them to trust in God. I’m so happy and impressed by their faith!

There have been some other great moments this week. On Friday we had a branch family night with the branch of Mahu, with the branch conference the Sunday after. We spent a lot of time during the week challenging the members to invite a non member to these events. I’d say about half of them kept true to their promise. There was a great turnout of investigators! The family night theme was centered on the Book of Mormon, and it was awesomely done by the District President. Even R----, one of our normal investigators, finally came to church! So cool to see so many investigators. Sadly, no one wants the lessons yet... But it’s a start! 

But as usual, there haven’t been tons of lessons. We've been spending time searching for some newbies, through the members and the door to door. We've found that we've just kinda been stuck in  routine... and getting stuck in a routine gets kinda boring. So we've been discussing possible activities and resources to find new investigators with our Branch Missionary Leaders. Beach activities, hikes, feasts, maybe piano lessons? Whatever the Lord finds the most resourceful. Gotta think some of these things through!

To finish things off, I’d just like to report the greatest language blunder I’ve made my whole mission. At the family night Friday, I was talking with an investigator, when I saw another dude investigator wearing a sweatshirt nearby. I asked her " who’s that guy over there?" And she says "Which guy?" After that I say "the guy over there wearing the... how do you say it..." and I say the word which I think means "sweatshirt". She just kinda looks at me, "wha...?" Trying to clarify, I say to her "It’s what you’re wearing right now!" because she was wearing a sweatshirt too. She continues to look at me and just kinda smiles. Unfortunately, my companion was just behind me talking to someone else, so he couldn’t help me. But the conversation ended when the dude came over and talked with us. Much to my dismay, the next morning I was just flipping through the French dictionary when I came across the word that I used to say "sweatshirt" the night before. Nope, it’s not "sweatshirt", but it most definitely means "panties". I totally mixed up the words for sweatshirt and panties. I can only imagine what that woman was thinking at the time. Gotta have moments like those on the mission, even after 9 months.

Anyway, that’s it! Glad to share these moments with you all. I love you all, and keep on living life well!

Elder Ball

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

No long letter from Elder Ball this week (Tubuai - week #17)

We enjoyed a quick live email chat with him this week. He is working hard and hoping to find new investigators to teach.