Monday, May 26, 2014

A weekend for the ages (Vairao - week #4)

Ia ora na tatou!!
Doing splits on bike
I am so stoked to write about my week, because it was genuinely one of the coolest weekends that I have ever experienced on my mission, maybe my life. This weekend was the 170th anniversary of the arrival of the Church in Polynesia, which took place at a stadium in Papeete. We were honored to have Elder Hamula of the Seventy there with us. It was a weekend that included singing, dancing, marching, laughing, crying, proselyting and testifying and eating and tons of other things that you could only find in Tahiti! Thousands of church members in the region came to participate, and it was something that us the missionaries were privileged to watch and take part in. I'm pretty sure most of my email will be about that!

Tubuai dance
The activity started Friday night with awesome cultural dance and song show that was performed by the youth of each stake on Tahiti. It was awesome! There were dances performed that originated from different islands, like Tubuai, the Tuomotus, some Marquesian and Maori hakas, even some Hawaiian dances. It made me appreciate just how awesome and unique the Polynesian culture is. There truly is nothing as beautiful and intense as the culture that you find here. Even though Im a white dude, I gotta say I'm proud to be a part of the culture here! The next morning there was a pioneer activity to honor church pioneers in Tahiti as well as those pioneers in America. It was a total party. Members from every stake dressed up as pioneers, played games and just danced. Tahitian people honestly look for every opportunity they can to dance and party and feast, and this activity was just one of those examples of a good time. Totally fun to watch.
Some more dancing
Then Saturday night, we had a large fireside to honor the missionaries, past and present. There were talks given by President Tefon, the temple president, President Sinjoux, Elder Hamula as well as well as other area authorities. One of the greatest moments (maybe the coolest of the weekend) was the march that all us missionaries did to Called to Serve. Then at the end, former missionaries, us the current missionaries and future missionaries who received their call did an Olympic style march around the track. Normally you don't get too praised for your missionary work nor do you expect to, but not gonna lie, this was one of those moments where we were! As we walked around the track, I could see faces of old friends and members from my old areas waving and shouting out and all applauding as we walked around the stadium. It was surreal, its something that someone would dream about, and we were living it right there. In that moment, I could easily say, nothing beats being a missionary! It was a moral booster, you could say!
It was a great opportunity to meet with some old friends from the old wards as well. Saw some leaders from Tubuai and got to talk to them and joke around with them a bit! Even some old investigators who are now baptized! Maybe no one remembers, but one investigator that we had in Tubuai was Rohiti. When I left Tubuai, she wasn't too sure about being baptized, but she was a really good investigator who read and went to church. Not too long after I left Tubuai, she left to Papeete as well and ended up continuing the lessons there. I met up with her at the activity this weekend. I was surprised to find out that she's getting baptized next week! Word's cant describe my amazement and my joy to find that out. I could see how much she had actually changed since the last time I had seen her, and how much her faith has grown in the gospel. That's the wonder of missionary work. You have no idea how much of a difference that you make in the lives of others, and when you see the results, it truly hits you hard.
Papeete temple
I'm sure that those who first brought the gospel to Polynesia, such as Addison Pratt, had no idea how much of a difference that they were making in taking their voyage to unknown islands to preach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm sure that they never thought that just 170 years after their arrival, more than 10,000 church members in that very country would be honoring their names and rejoicing in the knowledge of the true gospel. One way or another, if a missionary works hard, they will always make a difference, even if they do not see the results on their mission. In the end, you will always see how much of a difference you made. As said in Doctrine and Covenants 15:6, "And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father." We shall all see those whose lives we impacted after this life, and we shall rejoice with them for ever.
I am so blessed and thankful to serve in this beautiful country, to serve my God. Unfortunately, I couldn't take any pictures at the last fireside, my camera died and my memory card was full. Fail! But I'll send what I can. I love you all!
Elder Ball

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A remarkable change (Vairao - week #3)

Ia ora na i te mau taea'e e i te mau tuahine e i te mau hoa o te ekalesia!
We had a pretty solid week this week, our best in Vairao so far. I'll start off with the fact that we had a pretty rad zone conference with a couple other zones on Wednesday. Elder Larsen and I were assigned to give a training based on the training that President's assistant, Elder Vanderholm, gave in last weeks leadership meeting. It was about who exactly we're working for, why were here, and why our manual is called Preach "My" Gospel. We are here for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and no one else, we preach His gospel and we feed his sheep. As his servants we need to emulate everything that Christ is and develop his attributes, as well as understand the impact of his atonement in our lives. It was truly an edifying experience to teach on this subject, and it truly brought me closer to Him.
What I call a beautiful day
Yet again a great view from our house
Fenua aihere, the wilderness part of our area. Too cool

As for our lessons, we taught a new investigator this week. His name is R-----, and well, simply put, he's a drug lord. He's pretty influential in that kind of business with the pakalolo (that's marijuana if you wanted to know). Before I came to the area, Elder Larsen and his old companion Elder Clark had passed by his house, and R-----, who's this pretty huge dude, called over to them and talked to them about how his brother was baptized not too long ago and completely changed his life. He wanted to know more about what we got, so this week we taught him an awesome lesson on the Plan of Salvation. The Spirit was so awesomely present, and R----- accepted the invitation to be baptized and change his life, just like his brother. It won't be easy, but i know that he'll be ready by the date that we proposed. He has already had some awesome experiences with prayer since our first lesson, and we can see a remarkable change already in his eye. That will definitely be the key!
Again, a little short on time this week, but I'll post some pictures for you all!

I love you all, and until next week!

Elder Ball

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Spirit of Radio (Vairao - week #2)

Sup! (Sorry thought Id change it up to English this week)
Its been a fantastic new week in the new area at Vairao. I'm loving every moment of it! And id like to say that it was great to chat with the fam over skype on Mother's day. I love you guys!

Alrighty, news for this week? We actually spent a lot of time out of our area, down in Papeete. We had a meeting with President Sinjoux and the assistants, as well as the rest of the zone leaders. It was a good, inspiring meeting and it always leaves us missionaries ready to get working. Had the chance to go to the temple with our ward this week as well! Its always good to go to the temple.

And today, we came back to the city again to practice driving a little bit. I'm getting better at the whole stick shift concept. I haven't stalled in the middle of an intersection yet so that's good! Pretty soon Ill have it down pat.

This week we fixed a new baptism with an investigator named A-----! He's a guy who works at the radio station and every morning he has people from different churches come to read the scriptures and do a teaching segment over the radio. Every Friday that's what we do! So eventually A----- felt the Spirit and started wanting to take the lessons as the missionaries continued to speak over the radio. So this week he agreed to be baptized June 14th! We're stoked for him and he already has a pretty strong testimony. I love that guy.

Elder Ball & Elder Larsen

I'm sorry but that's about all the time I got today. We're a little short on time but next week will be better. I love you all!

Elder Ball

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Lord likes changin' it up a little bit (Vairao - week #1)

Ia ora na tatou!
Welp, a lotta stuff happened this week. I’ll start off by saying that I got a call from Elder Wheeler from Tubuai Monday night that kind of scared me. I pick up and the conversation went kind of like this:

"Heeyyy Elder Ball! Congratulations to the big zone leader! How do you feel?"
" don’t know yet...? Ohh hahaha well, I’m totally joking, you know how much of a jokester I am!"

So that’s how I found out that I was going to get transferred. I have no idea how other missionaries found out about the transfers, but before I even got a call from President I heard that I would be transferred to Vairao to be a zone leader for the zone of Papeari. So, Wednesday I left Tavararo and headed way down south to Vairao, and here I am now!

First of all, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t miss Tavararo. That has definitely been one of the greatest times in my mission, perhaps in my life. It was a blessing to serve with Elder Twede, and it was a time to see just how much the Lord is preparing his children to receive the gospel. All in all, it was a blessed area. So of course, I’m sad to leave all the people who are making so much progress in the Gospel, people I’ve grown to love so much. But, that’s just part of the mission, getting transferred. The Lord likes changing it up a little bit.
I'll also say that I’m humbled for the chance to serve as a zone leader. I know that it will be a chance to serve the other missionaries and work closely with the stake leaders as well. We had a meeting with the stake president last night, President Tupai. He's an awesome President and he really pushes for the missionary work. It'll be awesome to serve here. All the missionaries in the zone are awesome and it's going to be a good time.
Concerning our own area, Vairao, I am serving with Elder Larsen from Idaho. I love this guy! He's one of the most humble, spiritual people, and it's great to serve with him as well. I’m stoked for the time that we'll have together. As zone leaders have several blessings. For one, we have a car, a sweet Ford pickup. Since its stick shift, I have not yet mastered it, but that will come. That makes getting around in the area a lot easier for sure! This area is also in striking contrast to that of my last. Vairao is located at the "presquile" of Tahiti, which means "almost an island". It is much less developed and much more preserved here in this area. Part of our sector consists of where the main road ends and we are obligated to go on foot out in the boonies. To get to one of our lessons there, we're also obligated to cross a river and walk on the beach and stuff. The beauty of the area truly compares to Tubuai. As for the members of the ward, I’d say about a third are recent converts; the elders before did an awesome job. They are all super strong and good member missionaries. It’s a great ward all in all. I also get the chance to play piano for sacrament meeting again.
I have a lot of things in my head and its super hard to figure out everything that I want to say! But, I’m glad that I’m here and it’s a real good area. That’s the news for this week and I’m excited for what will come next week. I love you all!
Elder Ball