Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A spiritual boost when you need one (Vairao - week #22)

Ia ora na tatou!
I'm pretty stoked about last week, because it was definitely a solid week with some general and personal miracles. This week was a well-appreciated spiritual boost, for a number of reasons.
This week we had a zone conference with President and his assistants on Thursday, so in the preceding days Elder Millett and I were seeking inspiration for the training we were gonna give for our missionaries. The general problem for the zone is that progressing investigators have a hard time accepting a baptismal date, and that baptisms fixed end up being pushed back or cancelled because the investigators end up falling back into their old habits. So in searching how to fortify our investigators' faith, Elder Millett and I received this pretty obvious but overlooked revelation: The Book of Mormon. Duh. The only way that investigators are going to have enough faith to make it to baptism and beyond is to read regularly the Book of Mormon and to receive a testimony from the Holy Ghost that it is true. And there we felt that the whole zone could apply that principle a whole lot better. Elder Millett prepared a training on the importance of the Book of Mormon and how to use it, and I started preparing a training on fortifying our own testimony of it.
In preparing for that training, my testimony of the Book of Mormon only grew. I remembered back to the time in the MTC 16 months ago when I received a witness, clear as day, that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. But even so, that was 16 months ago, and I feel like the spiritual drive that I had to proclaim its truthfulness has since calmed down a little bit. So in looking in Preach My Gospel, in chapter 5, it actually recommends us to apply Moroni's promise regularly so as to have continually a strong testimony of its truthfulness. Welp, it's been a while since I've applied Moroni's promise! So in preparing for the training, I had the privilege of applying that again. I wont take the liberty of explaining how I got my answer, but all in all, I knew again 100 percent that it was true.
On Thursday we had our zone conference. Elder Millett and I delivered our training, and it was a success. You could tell that it was needed, and the Spirit confirmed that it was what our Heavenly Father wanted us to share that day. The sister training leaders, the assistants and President and Sister Bize gave us super edifying and much needed trainings as well. It was the greatest zone conferences Ive ever had on my mission! Organizing it went well, everything was on time and it was just super. I was extremely happy.
Zone conference
After the conference, we went on a two day split with the assistants. Elder Millett stayed in Vairao with Elder Larsen, and I went out to Papeete with Elder Taylor. Elder Taylor is one of the most powerful missionaries Ive ever met. Cool, calm, yet humble, and no fear. Ive learned many things on the split, most of all how faith is one of the most important aspects of our ministry. What is there to fear when you're a disciple of Jesus Christ? The split boosted my confidence and I was pretty pumped to get back to Vairao to apply the things that I learned.
We got to Vairao just in time for our baptism! We've been teaching Ronaldo for about a month now. He's the coolest kid in town! He lives with his dad Morgan. His sister Megane was baptised about a year ago, and now his dad wanted us to teach Ronaldo as well who was past age. I love Ronaldo, such a stud. He came to church the following Sunday for his confirmation in a blazer, lookin like a g. It was a happy moment.
Baptism! Elder Millett, Ronaldo, Frere Tollis, moi, Elder Taylor
I'll end by leaving you all with Moroni's promise in Moroni 10:4-5:

 "And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
"And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."

I know that the Book of Mormon is true, because I received it, read it, and I asked God if it was true. He manifested its truthfulness unto me by the power of the Holy Ghost. Anyone can apply this promise to know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.

I love you all, have a fantastic week!

Elder Ball

Monday, September 22, 2014

Small but significant (Vairao - week #21)

Ia ora na!

It's been another short week. It feels like this week Elder Millett and I were caught up in a lot of zone business, and that involved a lot of driving around in between areas and helping the other missionaries, and naturally the amount of lessons we taught this week was pretty small. But the magical thing is, when we need to go over to another area, the lessons that we had planned during that time are miraculously cancelled by a phone call from our investigators. So in the end, Heavenly Father arranges things for us so that we can get things done that we need to. I'ts awesome.

We had a solid lesson with T-------- this week, the investigator that we found last week trying to contact an old investigator. We taught the Restoration, and I tell ya there is nothing better than teaching that lesson super well with your companion so that the investigator completely understands and feels the Spirit. We had just finished testifying near the end of the lesson, and before we even had the chance to invite, T-------- asked us "What happens if I'm baptized twice? Cuz I'm already baptized Protestant." We explained to him the need of authority in baptism, and that without it baptism cannot be done and be accepted by God. He understood, we invited him to be baptized by someone holding authority, and he accepted! Only the second visit and he accepted, he's truly been waiting for this message. 

With N----, the brother of T--------, he accepted a date as well, for the beginning of November. We're sure that he'll be ready way before that, but he didn't wanna do it any sooner. He's so awesome! We did a follow up with him on the Book of Mormon, and it turns out that he had a pretty powerful response to his prayer that the book is true. N---- is honestly super humble and open to the Spirit, it's no wonder that he got an answer fast enough! He's already gotten over some hard trials, and he is truly becoming happier and happier every time we see him. I love the guy!

This weekend we had our stake conference for the Papeari stake. It was an awesome experience, and I sure learned so many great things from the leaders. We had the privilege of Elder Adolf Johansson of the Seventy came and shared some outstanding messages with us. Perhaps one of the greatest things when he shared a Tongan saying with us (I'm not even gonna try to spell it) that means "small and significant". He talked about how in the world, the islands are small, but so significant because there are Priesthood holders to be found even on these islands. He also talked about how God will not fail. Joseph Smith saw our day, and when he sent missionaries out in the islands he knew that the church would flourish there. He said himself, "The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done."

Sometimes I, personally, feel small and insignificant in my weaknesses while working in the Lord's vineyard, but God will not fail, so neither can I. As Ammon stated, "I will boast of my God, for in His strength I can do all things." There seriously is nothing to fear or doubt in missionary work. Even though we're one person, we're still a part of it, and with His help we can get it done.

That's the week! I love you all and I hope that you all have a great week this week.

Ma te aroha,
Elder Ball

Monday, September 15, 2014

Shoulder to the Plow (Vairao - week #20 )

Ia ora na!

Ill be quick this week. We haven't had too much excitement, but on a mission its impossible to have nothing to talk about so inaha te parau api!

P------- and C------- are doing fine. Still hurting a ton, but doing fine. We had a lesson with them this week, and in the beginning it was hard, because C------- expressed her hate and how she's pretty much lost her faith in God, asking why He would take her daughter when they've believed in Him all their life. We were able to explain the Plan of Salvation again, and that trials and tragedies are just a part of this mortal life that happens to everyone, not just the wicked. In explaining the atonement of Jesus Christ and how He makes up for the wrong in life, the Holy Ghost came and testified and calmed things down a little bit. These kinds of lessons are just difficult. It takes seriously careful listening to the investigator and to the Spirit to say the right things in a sensitive situation. But by the end of the lesson, we were all at peace. I love this family so much, and desire their happiness above all.

We had a cool contact experience as well. We felt prompted to go see an old investigator after P------ and C-------'s lesson. We get there to find her nephew who said that she moved to France... well we talk to the nephew, his name's T-------. We explain a little bit what we do and he agreed to meet with us the following day. And the next day during our lesson, we talk with him and just his style and his character totally reminds us of N----, another investigator of ours. We ask him what his last name is, and he tells us. Hmm, same last name as N----. We ask him if he's related to N----, and he says "yeah... hes my bro!" What are the chances, honestly! We had a good first contact with him and left him a brochure on the Restoration, and he totally loved what we taught.

Things are also going well with T------. Shes down to be baptized as soon as possible, she just needs her father's permission since shes only 16. She's been doing her best to be a good example in the family and changing her adolescent behavior (you know how teens are. I was there!) We also explained the Word of Wisdom this week. She explained to us that she drinks coffee every morning and that shes willing and able to stop completely, but only if she has something else in the house to drink every morning. So the next day at church, Elder Millett and I bring over our tin of Milo and happily give it to her. She has no excuse now!

Sadly, despite our little miracle last week, we lost I--, one of our prime investigators. She told us at the beginning of our lesson that she was more attracted to the Adventist church, and was pretty set on being baptized. There wasn't much else that we could do, so we left our final testimony saying that despite the attractiveness of a church, nothing matters as much as being cleansed of our sins through proper ordinances performed through priesthood authority, and that the Book of Mormon is proof that these proper ordinances and this priesthood authority exist in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But we respected her choice, and said we'd always be there if she wanted to know more. It was sad, but we did our job, and we wont stand guilty before God at the last day for not doing our best!

That's the dealio for this week. We've been working hard, and shall continue to work hard. I love you all, have yourselves a great week!

Elder Ball

Monday, September 8, 2014

Les tendres miséricordes (Vairao - week #19)

Ia ora na!

The rain has been falling nonstop for the past week! Brings about a little change. But, life is moving quickly in Vairao. Too quickly. Today was transfers, and luckily I survived and will be staying with Elder Millett for maybe another 6 weeks. But after thinking a little bit, Elder Millett and his MTC group finish their mission in 2 transfers. Then after 2 more, the next MTC group, and in just 2 more, OUR OWN MTC GROUP WILL FINISH. In 6 transfers, my mission will be over. Seriously though, where did the time go! Needless to say, Im loving every moment while I can.

Our week started off too good. We got a call from a member with an invite to a family night at a non-member family's home in Teahupoo. About 2 weeks ago, the daughter of this family committed suicide. So a member who knows them well asked them if they would like to hear a message about the Plan of Salvation. They accepted, they hit us up, and we came! And honestly, was I nervous... We teach lessons all the time, but i was just nervous this time! We came and met P------- and C------- and their family. Turns out their son A------ is that one guy that I talked about in an earlier email, when we did an OLB and he said he saw us on TV and all that. Pretty sweet. But anyway, it was apparent that this family was in pain. I felt so sad with them... The grave of their daughter was placed in their courtyard, still beautifully ornated with flowers and photos. The family looked to it constantly. Knowing that this lesson could change this family's life forever puts just a little pressure on. But also knowing that this message is truly God's message for this family gave us strength, and we taught a great lesson on the Plan of Salvation and the eternal family. When we needed it most, I truly felt the Spirit teach through us to help this family, and the entire lesson their gaze was fixed upon us.

After the lesson finished, the family came to us and thanked us sincerely for the message! We then ate some hors d'oeuvres and A------ even brought out a couple ukuleles for Elder Millett and I to try out. So we played and joked around with this family. Soon sad faces turned into smiles and even loud laughs and everybody was just happy! Seriously, the mood before the family night and after the family night couldnt have been more different. Thinks just clicked. We were told later by the member that that was the first time P------- laughed or smiled since the death of their daughter. This was honestly a tender mercy for us and this family, even a miracle I could say. The Lord loves his children, and he uses us his servants as he will. 

Speaking of tender mercies, we had one of those tender mercies in disguise you could say. Saturday evening we felt like we wanted to go see I-- after one of our lessons got cancelled. We pull into her yard just to find that she wasnt home! Bummer... so we start to circle around her yard in our car to make our exit. But as we started to pull forward, our truck stopped moving. Instantly I realized what it was. Because of the nonstop torrential downpour we've had this week, everything has turned into mud, and now our car was starting to get stuck in I--'s yard. I try to back up slowly, but its already too late, the two back wheels of the car spun hopelessly in the mud. As much as I love our little Toyota pickup, you gotta hate it when it doesnt have 4 wheel drive! Elder Millett gets out to try and push while I try drive back, but still no help. Then, thinking back to a certain similar experience that a certain apostle once talked about (honestly, like any missionary would do), I felt inspired to say "Elder... we need a load!" So Elder Millett gets in the bed of the truck and starts jumping up and down, trying to put enough weight on the back tires to get traction. But, despite trying to draw upon the wisdom of Elder Bednar and his general conference experience, we were still stuck. Lame.

Well, we humbly (and I mean humbly) called bishop to tow us out with his own 4x4. He did, and we got unstuck. And just as we were about to get the heck out of there, I-- pulled in! It was good timing, and we had a moment to chat. But it wasnt a good chat... She had just come back from a baptismal service at the Adventist church, and apparently she had a great time... She told us that she has decided to be baptized in the Adventist church, and didnt wish to take the lessons anymore. We pulled a calm face and said okay, but inside I pretty much exploded. We then talked a little bit about what she's learned with us, and we asked her if she believed that the Book of Mormon was true. She said well yeah, its awesome! Then we explained again to her that if the Book of Mormon is true, no other church could be the Church of Jesus Christ because they dont have the fullness of the Gospel. All in all, we were able to fix another lesson with her in the end, in such a critical moment. 

Looking back, we did not get humiliatingly stuck in the mud for nothing! I feel convinced that if we hadnt been there at that critical moment to speak with I--, we wouldnt have gotten another fresh chance like that again, and it would have been too late and we would have lost her. If we didnt get stuck, we would have already been outta there. Call it what you want, but I call it a tender mercy from a Heavenly Father who loves His children.

Every week there is so much to share, but only the best can be shared in one week. The adventures of Ball and Millett shall continue. I love you all! Maru noa.

Elder Ball

Monday, September 1, 2014

Peace (Vairao - week #18)

Ia ora na tout le monde!
Its been an interesting week, to say the least. Life is good with Elder Millett, he's definitely the life of the party.  Anyway not too sure what to share, but we've had some great lessons with our investigators! Last week we started the lessons with an investigator who came to the our temple trip. Her name is I---, and she's the total bomb! Her faith in Heavenly Father is already super strong, and she's looking for the truth, learning a little from the Adventists. Elder Millett and I had an awesome lesson with her on the Restoration, and when she learned about the Book of Mormon, she was stoked to learn that more scripture exists. She was even more stoked when she learned that God can answer her prayers through the power of the Holy Ghost. She said that if she receives a response to her prayers, she will indeed be baptized. We proposed her baptism by saying "there will be a service for baptism September 27th." like you should, but before we finish her member friend, sister H-----, was all like "oh really? For who?" That's when we kinda nudged our heads like "hello, it's hers!" Haha it was funny, she finally understood. I--- said "wow, you guys received that revelation just now for my baptism? So cool!" She's so open to the Spirit and her faith is incredible. She even wanted to join us and the ward missionaries in a fast this weekend, and she pulled through the whole way. We're excited for the progress that she'll make in learning the gospel.

Also, for a couple weeks now we've been teaching a man named N-----. Not a long time ago, his wife left him and his children, and he came to us as a reference from his member uncle asking us to find his wife in Papara. Well, it's sad but we couldn't guarantee that we could bring his wife back to him, but at least we could guarantee him peace through the gospel of Jesus Christ! Even though we told him this, he accepted the lessons, and we gave the reference to the sisters in Papara anyway to go see his wife. We had a great lesson with him on the Plan of Salvation. Seriously, there is nothing like the Plan of Salvation to give purpose to someone's life. He felt the Spirit super strongly, and he even came to church Sunday and had a great experience with the members who welcomed him and everything.
Haha, about the fast this week, awkward experience. I started fasting Saturday night. But Sunday, there was a little bit of a mix up because our dinner with a member family, the T family, was switched by them to the afternoon, since there was a fireside that night. I explained to them in advance that I wouldn't be able to eat but Elder Millett could (since he was sick and wasn't fasting), but that they could eat anyway, I could spend the time with them and that I could take the food home with me. Well when I show up, the food was all laid out, but they had seemed to forgotten the fact that I was fasting, so I reminded them. I was really torn by the choice between being loyal and continuing my fast with the ward missionaries or pleasing the members and eating. They told me I could do whatever I wanted and that either wouldn't bother them, but it was pretty obvious that they wanted me to break my fast. I couldn't blame them. But I went in the backroom to pray and ask Heavenly Father what should be done. I felt pretty clearly that if I started the fast, I should endure to the end, and that this family would understand, so I came back and told them. Then Frere T was all like, "that is a great choice Elder Ball. So, out of respect we shall wait with you and not eat until later!" That's when Satan invited himself over. The wife and children were like "What?!" and pretty soon the whole family was murmuring and the father was pretty much saying stuff like "don't let Satan get ahold of your hearts!!" The wife got up and went into her bedroom. I explained that I really didn't care if they ate in front of me, I just wanted to converse with them. Elder Millett started to say "dude, I'm uncomfortable..." Before things heated up too much, I quickly went and broke my fast, and we all ate together happily. It was just an unfortunate turn of events. Heavenly Father knows I wanted to make the right choice!
Well, there are many things that happened this week, but I could only fit the greatest in. I love you all and the adventures of Elder Ball and Elder Millett shall continue. Peace.

Elder Ball