Monday, March 31, 2014

Blessings, but whats new? (Tavararo week #4)

Ia ora na tatou pauroa i teie mahana nehenehe!
Elder Twede and I have just had perhaps the busiest week in our mission. And it'll probably just get busier. Its been a lot of biking, planning, splits with the members, teaching, and of course, a lot of Spirit.
Sunset view over Moorea from our house
First of all, the baptism with Nadine was excellent! This whole week leading up to the baptism, Satan's been doing a good job of poking and prodding her, and people in her neighborhood have been giving her a hard time about her decision. But Nadine is seriously awesome and since she has a testimony none of that stuff mattered to her and of course, she persevered up until the baptism. It was an awesome experience for her and her inactive husband, who was super touched by the Spirit. This was a woman who was prepared by the Lord to enter into the fold. She was ready since the day we found her. We're happy for her, and she'll be a great help to the ward as well.
Me chillin on a wall
Apart from that, I would like to talk about the two investigators that kinda fell into our laps last week. We had a great lesson with Hélene, the woman who came to church last week. She lives with two other inactive woman named Morehu and Stéphanie. It was an amazing lesson because Morehu and Stéphanie felt the Spirit and remembered the importance of the gospel in their lives and how God really does love them. Morehu then bore powerful testimony of how she still knows that these things are true and are a true help for the family, and Hélene began to tear up and say that that is what she truly wants for her family. It was a powerful moment, and these two inactive sisters will play a huge role in the conversion of Hélene, as well as their own conversion. Were gonna have a family night with them tonight and a lesson tomorrow morning. Things will be great with them.
Nice rainbow view from our house
And then there's Ioan and Heimiti. Words cannot describe how much I love this couple. Ioan is one of the nicest, chillest dudes I've ever met, and Heimiti is already so in tune to the Holy Ghost that its insane. We taught them the Restoration of the gospel this week. This was a lesson in which we taught simply, clearly and with the Spirit like never before. After teaching this message, we asked Ioan if hes getting all this. He says to us, "Honestly, I've been a member my whole life and I never understood what that means to have the restored gospel of Jesus Christ... now I understand. God truly loves his children." Heimiti said that she felt that what we were saying was true, and that the Holy Ghost was truly testifying to her. So we committed her to baptism, and she said yes! This week, our plan is to talk a little more about marriage, and we hope to fix a date for their baptism and marriage. Such humble people who want to follow the Lord.
Passin a little bit of free time with some amis
I'm actually out of time to say much else. I just want to bear my testimony on the importance of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that Joseph Smith is a true prophet, and that God still speaks to his children today. The Church that Jesus Christ himself established is now on the earth.

Love you all, until next week!
Elder Ball
Our District!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Like workin in a gold mine (Tavararo week #3)

Ia ora na tatou!
Another quick, hardworking week for me and Elder Twede here in Tavararo. Time is flying by super fast, it's nuts! Just another month and I'll have been out for a year already. Still feel like a newbie inside.
This week was a pretty solid week. Honestly, this area is just about the equivalent of a gold mine. There are seriously so many people who are down to take the lessons with us. This week we've had two cases where investigators have come up to us asking for lessons. One was just yesterday at church, a woman named H--- who's son was baptized not too long ago. She said she was interested so she came to church yesterday, we met her and introduced her to the Relief Society president, and made an appointment with her for later this week. She says shes not yet sure if she wants to be baptized, but we'll see if she says that again after feeling the Spirit! Shes nice and sincere, we'll see how it goes down.
The other case was while Elder Twede and I were eating lunch Tuesday. We decided to eat lunch at a nice bakery, a little more expensive than we like but we decided to change it up a little bit. Its a good thing we did eat there because not too long after buying our food, this pickup rolls up to us and a guy inside yells out "Hey, you guys the missionaries? I've been looking for you forever!" We then talk to the guy, his name is I--- and hes an inactive member. Hes a pretty young police officer who said that a while ago he called for the missionaries and fixed an appointment, but they never came. Hes been feeling that he needs to come back into the church because he and his nonmember girlfriend want the gospel principles in their home. So later during the week, we visited their home and met his girlfriend H----. She and I--- live together and have recently had a baby. Together they said that they need the gospel in their lives to raise their family, and they realize that they need to get married as well. Its too bad because we were seriously short on time that day so we couldn't stay too long, so we shared a message and fixed another day when we could come. We could see that this family is well prepared by the Lord, and its such a blessing to be a part of this change that they want to make. I'm definitely excited to work with them, really cool and humble people!
In spite of the new investigators we've had, we've also had plenty or lessons cancelled on us this week... That is the worst! We always have a good backup plan to go visit a member or find new areas to do contacting. But still, we'd really like to see our new investigators start to progress. There's just not much you can do when people use their free agency!
Baptism is still good for Nadine! She had her interview and it was good, so it'll be happening on Saturday. Ill be giving one of the talks, and I'm excited for it. All in all we are super happy for Nadine's decision, and were looking forward to this experience!

Just thought Id share a nice experience that I had this week too. I'm pretty sure that in an earlier email I mentioned crazy dreadlocked dudes who pretend to have visions. Yeah, this week we were heading out to the store with the zone leaders to get some lunch, and as we passed I saw the dude with the tattooed face and dreadlocks, and I was like "man, id like to get a picture with him!" But we passed and went into the store to buy our food. When we came out, sure enough there's the dreadlocked guy waiting our by our car, and when he sees us he looks up into the sky and starts having visions. At least that's what it looks like. Elder Twede just says "keep walking, keep walking" and when we get to our car, he says to bow down to him because hes king Leroy, then he says other stuff that I actually didn't understand very well. I was impressed. The dude is pretty huge, tattooed from head to toe with a nice beard to add to that. Sadly, I didn't get my picture with him because I could feel the Spirit saying "get in the dang car and go" so we got outta there pretty quickly. Very strange guy, king Leroy. Just one instance of life in Tavararo.
With that, ill end with a little spiritual thought. I've started over the Book of Mormon once again, and I've been trying extra hard to apply everything that I read into my life, and how what I read every morning relates to what's happening to me during the week. I read 1 Nephi 7, when Nephi's brothers start to complain again for their problems and circumstances, when Nephi says in verse 11 and 12, "How is it that ye have forgotten what great things the Lord hath done for us?... Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all athings according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise bfaith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to him." Because of our lessons cancelled, I've found myself complaining and murmuring from time to time. And sadly, when I read this scripture, I definitely felt like Nephi was chastising me a little bit. The Lord is honestly blessing us in so many ways, there are miracles all around us. So why the heck should I be complaining? Sometimes life is tough. In fact, life is always tough! But we cant let the bad things get us down, when we can be grateful for the good things the Lord has given us and that he can give us even more if we are faithful and don't complain. Simply put, don't complain!
That's it for this week. Love you all, and a faaitoito!
Elder Ball

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Bring on the blessings (Tavararo week #2)

Ia ora na tatou!
My first official week in the new area is finished. And I can say that this is already my favorite area so far. Tavararo is the absolute bomb! Elder Twede and I have totally rocked it this week, with 8 new investigators through member coordination and a fixed baptism, despite a case of zika (yep, I finally got it, but that didn’t stop me). The members here are too awesome; seriously I've never seen so many members, not just including the ward mission leader and the bishop, in a ward who love to do missionary work like here in Tavararo! Not to mention there are just opportunities to serve everywhere, with so many people around.
With that, I’ll talk about our baptism that’ll be coming up May 29th. Her name is N----, and there is no question that she is and has been ready for baptism for a while now. All that is missing is a little more knowledge concerning the gospel, but her testimony is already super strong and her desire to follow Christ is simply awesome. We thought that the 29th of May would be the best day for her, so she agreed to that day, and all we got to do know is keep following up with her to encourage her and so forth. We're stoked for that day, and especially her decision to be baptized.
One of the greatest moments and blessings that we have had this week was the chance to have a family night at President Sinjoux's home Tuesday night. Among the guests there was a family of four who are good friends of President, who live in our area. So President invited us to come participate. The Spirit was incredibly strong, naturally since it was President Sinjoux who gave the brief lesson on the Restoration. This family was truly touched, and we had the chance to go teach them again Saturday. This family is H------, his two kids M--- and R---, and his son in law M---. It was awesome when we arrived on Saturday at their home. They just got back from the distribution center and had bought scriptures and True to the Faith and other posters of temples. Needless to say, they’re pretty enthusiastic about what they’ve learned so far. We expect good things with this family!
There really are too many things that happened this week; I’m not really sure what to talk about!
I guess I would like to share just some moments we don’t expect to normally have. Tuesday, we are out riding our bikes to another appointment by the airport, and we see two super blonde chicks with suitcases, totally lost on the sidewalk. Elder Twede and I kind of look at each other, wondering if they need help, when they call out to us saying that they need help. Welp, we went over and talked to them, turns out that they’re from Norway and speak English, and they can’t find their way up to the airport hotel which is just up the hill. So we take their suitcases and walk with them a little bit, getting a chance to introduce ourselves and talk about what we the missionaries do. Then a member in our ward pulls up and offers to take the girls up to the hotel, and just as they leave I say "Hey if you ever get a chance to talk to the missionaries like us talk to em cuz they’re awesome!" but it was just too late and they were gone. Well, it was a good service opportunity and I hope they’ll remember the two weird guys in white shirts and ties who helped em out! Not often you see girls like that in the neighborhood either.
Later that day, we had the chance to go up in a higher neighborhood and knock on some doors. We came upon an older guy named C----- who is Catholic and is a total stud. He can only speak Tahitian and English, French is a no go. He lived for some years in America, so he manages to understand and speak some English still. With that, he was impressed with our ability to speak Tahitian so he let us in. Turns out that he’s got a piano up in his house! He let me and Elder Twede play a little bit, and he was all the more impressed. After that we just talked a little and shared a small message, and he said that what we do is just fantastic and that he would love to have us over again for a lesson. It was an awesome contact experience and a great find, we'll see what will happen with him! Good chance to use our talents to help others come unto Christ.
These are just some of the experiences that we have had this week, that have been spiritually edifying and really good chances to serve and bless the lives of others. I am really, really, really thankful to my Father in Heaven for these blessings that he has given me and Elder Twede. This area is full of potential, and the field certainly is white and ready to harvest. Already we have strengthened the ties and trust with our bishop and the other members of the ward, and things are much better organized than they were before. This certainly is a blessed ward, and I have come to complete gratitude for the hand of the Lord playing a huge part in the work here, preparing people to receive the gospel and blessing us the missionaries with chances to help people everywhere.
That’s the week! I’m sorry, I still have not taken a lot of photos, and I realize that I’m not super good at taking them. I’ll do my best to get some going next week! I love you all, and a faaitoito!

Elder Ball

Monday, March 10, 2014

Life in the ghetto (Tavararo - week #1)

Ia ora na tatou!
Life for me has definitely changed, with the coming of the transfer. This last week, I spent my two last days in Tubuai before leaving Wednesday for Tahiti. It was a little sad, because I grew to love everyone here so much. The investigators, the members, such a beautiful place! We spent my last night there at a young single adult activity, making pizzas and crêpes. It was awesome because Charles and John, a couple of our investigators, were there enjoying the fun. Such a good way to end it at Tubuai, and I felt I grew even closer to these two guys. Its always like that before a transfer; stronger bonding right before leaving.
With that, Wednesday morning brought the transfer to my new area, Tavararo, and I will say right now that I couldn't be in a more different place than Tubuai. Tavararo is a section of the city of Faaa, the most populated city on the island. That means that here in Tavararo, there are tons of people... tons of houses, cars, stores, just tons. In addition, they aren't necessarily nice houses or cars or stores either. The houses really are pretty shabby, normally cement or plywood walls with a tin roof, all crammed next to each other all up the mountainside. Down closer by the ocean, there's the Tahiti airport and the main road with lots of stores and roach coaches. Here you will see tons of different people; kids dancing in the alleyways, old drunk guys playing guitar and ukulele and gambling, even crazy dread locked dudes with a tattooed face pretending to have visions. I would honestly call it the ghetto, except for the fact that there are no guns in Tahiti. With that being said, I love it here! Its a good change, and it means that there are lots and lots of people who need the gospel.
My companion is Elder Twede, from Utah. He plays the piano like a champ, and he enjoys volleyball. I'm super glad to have him as my companion, because we're both pretty similar. We hope to use our piano playing prowess to maybe win some new investigators. Its gonna be awesome. We're gonna be a good team, and that's important because we got a lot of work here to do.  Elder Twede and I are really gonna start organizing things a little better here, getting to know better all the investigators and the members, and planning better with our ward leaders to find new investigators. A lotta clean up to do!

So far my time back on Tahiti has been absolutely excellent. The members of the ward are super nice, like normal. We had a baptism for two girls, Pairu and Heitiare, who I never taught but it was still a great moment to witness! And Sunday night, all the missionaries came together to do a concert for the Paea stake. The concert was absolutely amazing, and the Spirit was so strong! The plan is that the concert will come to every stake on Tahiti. I'm so excited for when that comes to Faaa, because the number of new investigators could shoot up enormously if the concert was anything close to like it was last night. Such a great, great experience.
I'm so glad to be a part of the work here on Tahiti. It really is different than Tubuai, a lot more action and a different mentality. The work is still challenging, for sure! But it is clear that the Lord is hastening His work on this island. Miracles happen here.
That's about it for the week! Next week i'll get a little more in depth about the investigators, and maybe send some pictures. Love you all, keep the faith and a faaitoito!

Elder Ball

Monday, March 3, 2014

Movin' on (Week #21 in Tubuai)

Ia ora na tatou!
I hope everybody had a good week! Out here on Tubuai, it's been a tough week. Elder Teihotu and I had some problems with health that held us up this week, so there has not been a lot of excitement. Just thought I'd say though that my time on Tubuai has come to an end. Tuesday I got a transfer call; This next week will be my last week here as I will be transferred to the Tavararo ward, in the Faaa stake on Tahiti. Its been awesome here out on Tubuai, where its calm and chill. But I can happily say that I'm ready to get back to Tahiti, where life is a little faster and energizing. After I've told everyone that I'd be leaving to Tavararo, people have told me a little about how it's like there. Two descriptions that I've heard are "ganja central" and "tough guys". Awesome. As excited as I am to go somewhere new, I'll miss everyone here on Tubuai. Ive never come to love people in my life as I have here.
Aside from this piece of news, some disappointments have come up with some amis. H----, T---- and their children have, once again, been kicked out of their house. H-----'s mom told the woman who's renting the little cabin out to H---- and T---- to kick the family out. Come on, how far do ya gotta go... so, this family of 6 is living in their car now. The whole situation is tough. Its really hard to help them out, because they don't use their money in the greatest way (drugs, booze, etc.), and its really because of that that they don't have a place to live. But for now, were just trying to help them find a place to live, and encouraging T---- to find some work. It really is sad. The church is helping them out as much as possible, but a lot of it is on their free agency as well to do more to get out of this hole. Unfortunately we haven't been able to teach them, because whenever we show up they aren't there! Its so tough to see them like this, when we know exactly how to change their life, but they aren't as serious as is necessary.
We have had some great success with an inactive member. A------- last year he made a pretty big mistake and fell in that hole we like to call inactivity. For a couple months now, we've been making some visits with him and his family and have done a couple family nights with them. Its good to say that he's had the courage to go talk with the branch president and get things sorted out. We've seen some good progress with him, he's definitely more confident and humble now in searching for healing. Just another example of someone I've come to love enormously!
Not a whole lot else for this week. The normal P day activities consist of B-Ball and cleaning the house. We did just come back from some eel fishing in the river. Basically Elder Weeler took some extra fishing line, attached a hook with some bread and tossed it in the river. I don't think he was really expecting to catch something, but he came up with an eel! So were all like "do it again, bro!" Pretty good times just messing around.
That's about it! The next time i write, ill be in Faaa in a new area. Thanks for your prayers and your love, the work was great on Tubuai. Love you all!

Elder Ball