Monday, April 28, 2014

This missionary's about to get famous (Tavararo week #8)

Ia ora na tatou!
What a week. Probably our best so far.
I’ll start out by saying that yes, I’m gonna be famous. Several other missionaries and I have been chosen to be in a church film about the beginnings of missionary work in Tahiti. On Friday and Saturday we spent time out on the beach doing some sweet film shoots. We get to dress up in ridiculous 1850s outfits and act as some of the first missionaries. We get to do cool manly stuff like build a boat and carry heavy bags and preach the gospel to people. We even got to go in the water a little bit, which was super sweet. A couple other elders got to do some baptism scenes in a river which was cool too. All in all, people are gonna be turning heads every time I walk by, "Hey you were in that movie!" Tahiti's next celebrity.
But not really. The film is gonna be used for missionary work mostly, to teach people about the beginning of the church here and kind of attract people to the church in that way. It really is a cool experience, and pretty low budget but hey what do you expect when it’s us as the actors? Definitely a fun time and I’m kinda excited about how that's gonna turn out.
As for the work we did (yeah sorry it wasn’t all playing around on the beach this week) it’s been the busiest so far! We had so many lessons this week its nuts. We've been going on splits with the members a lot to be able to fit in all these lessons. Among the lessons that we've had, a great one was with Hendrick and his family, one of the families that President invites to his home for family night often. At the end of the lesson, Hendrick said that they've discussed as a family, and they have decided that they all want to get sealed in the temple. Now if that isn’t music to a missionary's ears, nothing is. They all want to get baptised together, and soon we'll figure out a date for them. There's 7 people in that family. They really are a miraculous family. If they are baptized, i have a feeling that most of the neighborhood will follow. The neighborhood would be rid of drugs and alcohol, which would definitely be one of the coolest things ever.
On Sunday we had a sacrament meeting based on the theme of missionary work. So of course, Elder Twede, our DMP Diego, and I gave talks. It was definitely a blessing to have the opportunity to speak to all the members of the ward. We talked about the imortance of Preach My Gospel for every member of the church in doing missionary work, and we committed everyone to start reading it and applying the teachings inside. That is a book that, if everyone read it, would unite members and missionaries in the work forever. So, in addition to the scriptures, read it, all of you! Your life will be blessed if you do just that.
As the days go by here in Tavararo, the amount of criminal activity never ceases to amaze me. Every day we pass by seriously conspicuous drug deals in broad daylight. It's pretty funny, when we pass on our bikes the dealers start to freak out a little because at first they think we're the police, then they see that it's just us and wave to us. On our way to one lesson, we were passing in an alleyway behind a store where there was a huge group of people gambling for marijuana. They started to get scared at first, but then continued playing when they saw that it was us. After the lesson, we pass by the same alleyway and there’s a ton of cops searching the area and some dudes laying on the ground in handcuffs. Busted. The druggy lifestyle here really is pretty sad, because kids start getting into that stuff at like 12 years old. Simply put, they all need the gospel!
Thats about it for this week. To finish I’d just like to bear my testimony about the fact that we are all children of our Heavenly Father. This week I've thought a lot about that and who I really am, what I’m really worth, and our life before this one. I feel so much peace to know that I chose God's plan to come here to Earth, despite the knowledge that this life wouldn't be easy. Thanks to the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, now I know what needs to be done in this life to return to God's presence. Unfortunately, there are so many other children of God who have chosen to come here, but have no idea how to return to him. But thankfully, the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints know. Let each and every member reach out to their neighbor and share this knowledge that could save their life. "The worth of souls is great in the sight of God." (D&C 18:10).
I love you all, and have an awesome week!

Elder Ball

Monday, April 21, 2014

He lives! (Tavararo week #7)

Ia ora na tatou!
Its been a fantastic week this week for Elder Twede and I, very tiring indeed, but we have had some great teaching experiences, as well as some not-so-great... thats the mission right?
Last Monday we had a family night at Y--- and H-----'s home. Im so stoked for the day when Y--- becomes fully active, cuz he'll be a powerhouse in the missionary work. For the family night he invited a couple nonmember friends to come! It was a good family night and the spirit was strong, but sadly one of the friends wasn't to open to our message. The other accepted, but he lives outside of our area. It was a good family night, and  we were way impressed by Y---'s desire to share the gospel already. I love those people.
Tuesday we had another good lesson with H---. This lesson she was way open and talked so much more than she had before, and she said that she knows that this is the true church. So we committed her for baptism for the 31 May, and she said shell pray about it and tell us next week. We're really praying for her so that she can accept this date, because we know its whats best for her! 
Later that day we started the lessons with a new investigator named M---. His story is interesting. He does canoe racing, and in November he took part in the annual races that go from island to island. When he was on the island of Tahaa during the races, he actually took the lessons from Elder Twede and agreed to be baptised. Sadly, after the races ended, he returned to Tahiti and never got in contact with the other missionaries. But, the good news is, we found him last week! It was certainly an answer to Elder Twede's prayers. M--- still wants to change his life and follow Christ. It wasn't coincidence that we crossed paths!
Wednesday night was another great lesson with M---- and her kids. The lesson went very well, and we committed them for baptism like we planned. M---- said that she wasn't sure yet because her husband hasn't been present for the lessons and she would like him to follow her. But her son, K------, agreed to be baptized June 7th! We're hoping that the rest of the family will be able to follow on this day as well. The Spirit is truly working with this family.

After we had our lesson with Y--- and H-----. Sadly they refused to go with May 24th for their baptism. Their family wont be able to make it down in time for their wedding, so they said they'll agree for a date in July, maybe August. When you look at it, July or August is perfectly logical to plan a wedding but for a missionary, waiting that long is an eternity! We asked them to pray more about it, and we'll do a fast here soon to figure out a good date.

Thursday, I participated in probably my first bible bash. We taught this family who was a reference from a member, so we went with the member to visit them. We weren't quite expecting the teach a Sanito, a member from that Reformed Latter-day Saint church. This investigator was a deacon... and she was tough. The whole time she was arguing why women can have the priesthood, with no biblical reference. She was starting to get a little angry, screaming in Tahitian and spitting all over the place. We weren't getting anywhere so we called it quits and thanked her for accepting us. Wasn't really what we had in mind, but for the future i think ill avoid the bible bashing idea. The Holy Ghost ain't there. (And for those who want to understand why God gave only men the priesthood, I'd like to refer you to Dallin H. Oaks' talk during the Priesthood session of the recent General Conference.)

Those are perhaps the highlights of the week. We've had a lot of blessings and miracles occur, and I know its because of obedience. When Elder Twede and I strive to be exactly obedient to the mission rules and the commandments, that's when we succeed.

Spiritual thought, since its Easter! Just a verse from the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi that explains the importance of Christ's atonement and resurrection. "Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, asave it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who blayeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the cresurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise." I know that Jesus Christ lives. He was crucified for our sins, and on the third day he did rise again. Thanks to his sacrifice and resurrection, we can one day be resurrected and live with our Heavenly Father again.

Voila la semaine derniere! Je vous aime, et je vous souhaite une bonne semaine!

Elder Ball

Monday, April 14, 2014

When teachers become students (Tavararo week #6)

Bonjour tout le monde!
Life still continues to roll on in Tavararo. We've had some good experiences with our investigators this week with lots of potential building up. I feel like all of our investigators are progressing at the same rate, so in the end all these investigators will be baptized at once and things will just explode here. Potential.
I’ll start off with Y---and H-----. We taught em an awesome lesson on the Law of Chastity and marriage and things were just going awesome, the Spirit was there and they agreed with what we taught. This was the lesson when we wanted to commit them for a date for marriage and a baptism date for H-----. We originally planned to commit for May 17th, but right before the lesson both Elder Twede and I felt we needed to push it back for the 24th. So we taught, and then proposed the date, and they looked at each other surprised. It was a good thing that we chose to push the date back, because the 24th happens to be Y---'s birthday, and just two days before H----'s birthday. They were impressed that that was the day that they needed to get married and for H----- to be baptized. They agreed, and they said that they will pray to know if that's what really needs to be done. Coincidence? Don't think so. So cool!
We also had another good lesson with M----. She's really been profiting from these family nights at President Sinjoux's home and getting a lot of chances to feel the Spirit. We taught a short and sweet lesson on Christ's mortal ministry, and at the end we asked her if she had any other thoughts or questions, and she thanked us for the lessons and explained that she wanted to learn so much more and that she felt that this was true. She then said "I know Jesus Christ exists." Now if you remember from my last email, I said that this was a woman who didn't believe in God, and now shes testifying that Jesus lives. Needless to say, we committed her for baptism and she said yes. Such a blessing to be able to help her follow the Spirit, and such a blessing to just have the Spirit working in her.
One last experience before I end, we were teaching a new investigator named T---- about the Restoration. He didn't really believe in the story of Joseph Smith or the first vision, so we asked him to pray about it. We taught him the way to pray sincerely to our Heavenly Father, and he was stoked about it. He said "you mean its not just repetitions every time I pray? Awesome, its like talking with God, talking with a real person." Then he says, "We shouldn't pray because we have to, but because we want to." Words of gold from an investigator’s mouth. That taught me a lot, because it gave me a chance to reflect and think "am I praying because I want to, or because I have to?" I found out that sometimes my prayers are pretty half-baked, sometimes lacking in sincerity because of tiredness. Gave me a good kick in the pants to strengthen my prayers a little bit. It was a nice friendly reminder.
It was a good week, and I’m looking forward to another! Love you all, until next time!
Elder Ball

Monday, April 7, 2014

What day is it today? (Tavararo week #5)

Ia ora na tatou!
Yet another week in the ghetto, and it just keeps getting busier. Life is definitely good, but when you work so hard every day you kinda start to lose track of where you are. The only reason why I knew what day of the week it was during the week was the fact that we were counting down to general conference (which was most bodacious, by the way). You just start to go with the flow after a while, let the Spirit push you where he wants.
Tuesday night we had yet another family night at President Sinjoux's home. This time he invited the brother of H---- (the guy who was there last time) named M--- and his family. And again, it was another fantastic family night and M--- liked it a lot, so we fixed a lesson for the next day! So Wednesday we arrive, and we find out that M--- went out to drink after work, so we ended up teaching his wife and daughter-in-law (whose names I cant remember right now, I know I'm awful). Anyway it was a good lesson, because M---'s wife really believes in science and evolution and, frankly, has a hard time believing that there is a God. This was the first time in Tahiti that I've taught someone like this since almost everyone is Christian, so it was a great teaching moment to just testify of God's love for us and that he most certainly exists. We kind of started to talk about how science was created by God, and how its sort of the blueprint of how he created the world. It was super interesting to talk about how religion and science most definitely can go together and there are still lots of unsolved mysteries. She accepted our message and felt the Spirit. I'm looking forward to more lessons with this family!
Wednesday night we also had another lesson with I--- and H--- about the Book of Mormon. I just want to say that I love teaching about the Book of Mormon, because it's something that's changed my life and let me feel the love of God. While teaching this lesson I realize more and more how important this book is for the world and without it there would be no fullness of the gospel still lots of questions unanswered. I know that book is true, because the feeling acquired while reading it is like none other, and I have asked of God if its true and he has answered. I'm so excited for when H---- will have the chance to be reading it for the first time.
I honestly have a hard time remembering everything that has happened this week, so I think I'll keep it short and finish with a thought I had about general conference. We were able to go at a nice and early 6 am to watch all the sessions. One that I loved was Elder Russell M. Nelson from Saturday afternoon. He talked about how 'religion' means 'tie back to God', and how we must have faith, or rather tie our faith to our Heavenly Father. The question then arises, what do we tie our faith to in our life? The correct answer is God, and only God, because he's, well, God. There are times when we are swayed by public opinion or popularity that go against God's laws. No matter what the popular choice is, we must always stick with God's commandments, and have faith in his guidelines and standards rather than the world's. He's our Father, and He knows whats best.
That's it for this week! We're always excited to continue teaching our investigators toward making eternal promises with Heavenly Father.

Love you all!
Elder Ball
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