Monday, June 30, 2014

So much power in one little book (Vairo - week 9)

Ia ora na tatou!
Solid week. We were blessed to have baptisms this week for two girls, H---- who is 9 and H----- who is 10. Their story is awesome. I'll do my best to tell it how it was told to us by their mother.

H---- and H----'s mom, H------, is a very inactive member who truly wants the best for her family. One day she was a little worried and discouraged about the welfare of her little family in the midst of many trials. And while overcome with these feelings of sadness, she felt the urge to look for something in a certain sack in the garage to help her. She figured out what she was looking for before she found it: her old Book of Mormon. She was flooded with feelings of comfort and relief as she leafed through the pages of her old scriptures, and she figured out what she needed to do to have the happiness that she desired in her family. So the next weekend she came to church with her children, found me and Elder Larsen and asked for lessons for her children. You don't normally have people come up to you asking you for lessons, so of course Elder Larsen and I fixed a date and the rest is history! The father, who isn't a member, was very touched by the baptismal service, and were praying that he will accept the lessons soon enough so that this family can be one step closer to an eternity together.
The whole family
In other news, Elder Larsen and I were super sick one day during the week. We ate something nasty. Were not really sure what it was, could've been the 2-day old chow mein sandwich that a member gave us or the pounds of sashimi we ate later that night. Either way the next day was spent groveling either on the toilet or in bed. Elder Larsen luckily didn't get it as bad as I did. I felt pretty bad because I'm sure he wanted to go out and visit people. Well, its the price to pay for eating gourmet Tahitian food.
After a nice recovery, we were blessed with other rad experiences. Soeur T------- (who we call Tati which pretty much means "aunt") is one of our rad member missionaries in the ward. Shes the member who helps us out with K---- and A-----. The lessons go super well with them, and A----- is way into the Book of Mormon. However, shes not too quick to accept the invitation to be baptized even though she understands the need for authority, shes still way attached to Catholic tradition. Luckily Tati is there! She visits them every day when Elder Larsen and I cant and does family nights with them every Monday. It pays to have solid member missionaries, and things progress so much better when they're always next to our investigators.
Speaking of Tati, I guess you could say that she received revelation for us that all the investigators who gave us food to eat during the course of their taking lessons have ended up being baptized. We looked back and yep sure enough that's the case, even H------, H---- and H-----. Then Friday we were supposed to have a first lesson with some new potential investigators named T---- and H---. When we get there, they invite us in and we see laid out on the table fish and rice and crepes and a whole meal. Tuare says "before we get start talking all gospel, lets eat first!" Elder Larsen and I look at each other. I saw fish, but I smelled baptism. We ate and had a super good time with each other, then Elder Larsen and I shared a simple message on the atonement of Jesus Christ. The Spirit was way strong in that house, and after inviting them to continue lessons with us they accepted. It was a great night, and we already built a good friendship with them. We'll see if the Tati prophecy holds true!

Elder Ball and the others that live in the same house together.

Finally and sadly, we said goodbye to President Sinjoux and his wife and welcomed President Bize and his wife this weekend at a last missionary concert. I'm going to really miss President Sinjoux, he was someone who truly loved the missionaries and was as a father to us. I am also looking forward to working with President Bize. He has a good vision of moving the work forward and will be solid I'm sure.
Lastly (this emails way longer than i wanted) I wanted to share my testimony about the Book of Mormon that it is no doubt the word of God. It is proof that God exists, that Jesus is the Christ and most importantly, that His true church, the one true way, is restored to the earth. I was impressed by a Jeffery R. Holland talk that i rediscovered this week about the Book of Mormon. To quote a part from his talk, "No wicked man could write such a book as this; and no good man would write it, unless it were true and he were commanded of God to do so.” I know that the Book of Mormon is true. That is something that I will never be able to deny.
That's it for this week! Thanks for reading even though it was years long, I love you all and a faaitoito!
Elder Ball

Elder Ball's favorite place within his area (watching world class surfers).

Monday, June 23, 2014

No long email from Casey this week (Vairao - week #8)

[This was an email from Casey. It was the height of the World Cup, with everyone glued to their TVs.  I think the missionaries underestimate the impact that it has on their work. I had asked him if the World Cup was a big deal.]
Hey Mom,
Thanks for the email! We actually don't have a lot of free time today so I'm not gonna write a big email. The whole zone had another tough week this week, we ended up not having a baptism in any of the areas, but it's probably because of the transfers. We had a transfer in almost every single companionship, except for mine and Elder Larsen. We got a new elder in our house named Elder Abbate from France, he used to be Jehovah Witness and he's way awesome. He's being trained by Elder Brown, who just finished his training. Things are great in the house.
It was tough this week because we have spent weeks preparing a ward activity which consisted of multiple activity stations like dance, sport, cooking, stuff like that. Saturday, the day of the activity, about half of the people responsible for the groups cancelled last minute, and basically no one came to the activity despite being announced like everywhere. Needless to say it was a failure! But Elder Larsen and I decided that failures make grown men out of babies or babies out of grown men, depending on how you react. We decided to be grown men and kinda forget that it all happened I guess! Were hoping for a better week. We actually do have two baptisms scheduled for us next week.
And yes the World Cup is big news here, since it's a French territory. Of course the missionaries stay in a state of oblivion but that's normal.
That's about it. I love you mom, hope that you are all fine.
Elder Ball

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sometimes you hit a wall (Vairao- week #7)

Ia ora na tatou paatoa!
Alright, this week has been great overall. But like my title suggests, sometimes missionaries hit a wall. And I admit that this week was one of those weeks! After a succession of pretty action packed weeks here at Vairao, Elder Larsen and I got a little unlucky with tons of lessons cancelled, some baptisms pushed back and sickness. It felt like that we hit a straight up wall because we were building a lot of momentum the past few weeks, and this week felt like one of the slowest, progress-lacking weeks that we've had in a while. But that's alright, because despite the trials there's always some highlights in the week and hope for better weeks ahead! Its good to have a nice P-Day to recharge a little and get our heads together.
This week we actually went on splits with a couple of Priest-age young men one day, Curtis and Hitinui. It was an awesome learning experience for everyone and the young men had the chance to practice teaching and proclaiming the gospel. I went out with Hitinui, and we were able to talk to a lot of people, practice our OLB (ouvrir la bouche=open the mouth) and do a couple of lessons. It was good times, and doing splits like this strengthens the bonds between us and the members, and I hope that it helps the young men out a ton too in preparing for their own missions.
We had a couple lessons with A----- and K--- this week. Our first one was Tuesday, and we had a super lesson with them about the Restoration that answered all of A-----'s questions about where to find the truth. She and Karl dug it. Then during the split, Elder Larsen and Curtis went to see em again (sadly I wasn't there for the lesson but I wanna talk about it anyway cuz its flippin sweet). According to what Elder Larsen told me, A---- had read up to 1 Nephi 15 in the Book of Mormon since the visit just two days before and was talking about it like she was a BYU religion professor. She then asked if we had more scriptures, and when they replied yes she demanded that she have it all. Next time we plan on giving her the triple combination as well as some teachings of the modern prophets. That is what you call hungering and thirsting after righteousness.
There are always amazing things that happen in the work, despite the other difficulties that are so common in missionary life. I can say that there is nothing at all in this world quite like being a full time missionary. I wouldn't trade these experiences for anything else, and I probably wont realize the impact that they have had on my life until I return home.
That's the good stuff for this week, I love you all and keep the faith!

Elder Ball

Monday, June 9, 2014

Seeing the vision (Vairao - week #6)

Ia ora na tatou!
Its been a solid, edifying week for me, going on my 6th week in Vairao. As a zone leader it is truly a blessing to know more how to be a leader, and I learn so many things. It truly is a growing moment in my mission, reaching new horizons and capacities in my understanding and teaching of the Gospel.
First of all, we got a couple new investigators this week named K--- and A-----. A----- is one of those people searching for the truth, who have always seen the missionaries pass by and wanted to talk to them but hasn't had the chance to. She finally had the chance last week when a member coordinated a service project to build a cabin for her and her husband. I guess the Lord has been merciful to us despite our blindness and gave us the opportunity to serve them! We went to the project, fixed a lesson with them in the week and started teaching them. They really are a nice couple, with a little boy named T------. They've been deep into the Bible just trying to do whats right and following Christ. We can see good things happening with them in the future!
We also had the great blessing of the last leadership meeting with President Sinjoux. It was an awesome meeting with some inspired talks from the assistants and President. Something that he said was that we cant always be too content with our work, even when we see a billion baptisms, that we must always strive to do more and follow the Spirit and reach heavenly capacities that our beyond our own. He encouraged us to get rid of anything that will obstruct us from the inspiration and godly power of the Spirit. Its much easier said than done, but it helps us understand that we are capable of so much! I'm gonna miss President, hes a stud.
After the meeting, Elder Larsen and I had the chance to do an exchange with the assistants. Elder Larsen went out to Papeete while I stayed in Vairao with Elder Teriihaunui. It was one of the greatest learning experiences that Ive had my entire mission! Elder Teriihaunui is an exceptional missionary, and his example of following the Spirit, careful studying and truly understanding the scriptures changed my view of learning the gospel. We had some good lessons together, and he truly helped me search for the Spirit and feel more confident in my teaching. Hes way hilarious as well, he isn't afraid to tell people how it is either. We had a party together! The assistants are pretty high quality missionaries who set a standard for everyone. It motivated me to get to that point!
Perhaps the highlight of the week would have to be Sunday night, when Elder Larsen and I put on a fireside for the members of the ward. Our goal was to have the members and us the missionaries united in the same cause, to have the same vision, which is that through combined efforts we can realize five baptisms a month (which is a goal set by the Stake in fact). We talked about how the only way to attain that goal was if new investigators were found through member efforts. So Elder Larsen and I gave a couple talks to help them know what they can do in the finding and conversion process of an investigator. We showed a couple awesome video clips, and gave the time to a member and a recent convert who was found by that member to bear testimony of the power of member efforts. It was an absolute success, and we extended the challenge to everyone who showed up to invite new amis to a ward activity and sacrament meeting in a couple of weeks and help out in the missionary lessons with these new amis. Everyone was stoked, and the Spirit bore witness of the truth. Elder Larsen and I probably gave the greatest talks that we have ever given, better than any talk in English for sure. Such a blessing to have that chance!
It was a solid week, and I'm grateful to Heavenly Father for helping us in this work and lending his power, so that we can fill the shoes of the greatest life that ever lived, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I love you all, and have a great week

Elder Ball

Monday, June 2, 2014

La vie est belle (Vairao - week #5)

Bonjour tout le monde!
A solid week finished! Elder Larsen and I looked at our numbers at the end of the week and were stoked to see how well we did. We're starting to progress more and more every week, as well as the whole zone. Life is absolutely beautiful here in Vairao and Teahupoo, with beautiful weather and beautiful people all learning a beautiful gospel.
First up, we had a baptism Saturday. Surprise! We had the privilege of witnessing the baptism of Heimiri, who started taking the lessons not long before I got here. She was one of those investigators who progressed like crazy. She started reading the Book of Mormon in the beginning of May, and now shes already at Alma. She understands super well, and after receiving a testimony of the Book of Mormon, she just flew by the lessons. Heimiri was actually someone who went through some pretty difficult trials concerning her health and certain family members during the lessons. The awesome thing was that she never gave up during her trials, it just gave her more of a desire to seek Jesus Christ and His atonement. It was amazing to pray and read with her and help her on her way to spiritual and emotional healing. The baptism itself was packed with the Spirit, and I got to perform the confirmation the next day. Such a blessing to see this change happen.

We also found some new investigators, A------- and her two sons, N------- and T----. They were invited to a neighborhood family night that Elder Larsen and I put on a couple weeks ago with some other members. We gave a lesson on the Plan of Salvation and showed some Mormon messages on the topic, and we gave the amis a little card that showed the diagram of the Plan of Salvation. It happened to be the right lesson for the right people, as A-------'s husband passed away not too long ago. They were touched by the family night because they basically found out where the papa is right now. When we taught them their first lesson this week, and it went super well. Its just another example of the Lord preparing people to receive the gospel at the right moment!
Before I forget too, we had a marriage as well Saturday for a couple amis, A---- and G-------! They've been taking the lessons for a while now, and since they live together and they agreed to be married. They haven't agreed on a date to be baptized yet, but they do want to. There isn't much in the way now that's keeping them from getting in the water!
Also Friday we did a split with the Elders of Tautira who are in the zone, and I went over to Tautira with Elder Warren. We had a good time, their house is right on the beach so you go to sleep and wake up with the sound of waves. So awesome. But since I presumably know how to drive, I was the one who drove us around in this Pugeot Partner, which is nothing like the Toyota pickup that we usually drive. We went over to Taravao for a district meeting where there's tons more traffic. So over there we pull up to this intersection where it kinda goes up hill, and I get ready to go, and of course I stall the car. I laugh and start up again, get ready to go, and it stalls again. I look in the rear view mirror and see some cars pull up behind, and all of a sudden I start to get a little nervous. After stalling for the third time, I look over to the side and see some dudes just cracking up. None of this was helping, let me tell ya. I couldn't figure out why I was stalling, neither Elder Warren, all I knew was that the pickup would never act like this! I pretty sure I stalled about 10 times and the whole time Elder Warren was praying and finally with probably 7 cars behind me I succeed and jerk off into the intersection. We celebrated our success with some churros. There's another example of how the mission is a learning experience.
That's about all I can think of this week. Its been nuts. But we never stop having a good time. I love you all and A faaitoito!

Elder Ball