Monday, December 29, 2014

Too merry up in here (Bora Bora - week #11)

Ia ora na tatou!

What a nice Christmas week! I'm getting over the chikungunya disease more and more and I've been able to go out and work pretty much every day. Sadly, the disease has taken over our entire household. 4 other elders got the sickness this week, including Elder Duncan! So basically I went on splits with Elder Openshaw mostly this week to work in our two areas while the other elders spent a nice Christmas vacation at home. You cant really call it a vacation though when you're suffering from head to toe!

Casey with Ami Reagan and his wife
We actually had a baptism this week! I haven't talked a whole lot about her but her name is Keali. She's 11 years old and her family, consisting of her mother and step father, is all members, except for her real father who was against her baptism up until now. Since the moment that Keali's real dad gave her the OK to be baptised, we were called over to start doing the lessons to help Keali prepare for baptism. She was ready a long time ago, so the lessons were just review for her. It was a great service, and her father even came and enjoyed the service. Keali's happy to be a member of the church!

C---- and K---- are still doing super well. They read the Book of Mormon every night, and K---- is already in the middle of Alma where they have all the war chapters. When we ask her what her thoughts are about what she read, she goes giving a straight up detailed summary of what she read. She says stuff like "The Nephites prospered in the 27th year of the reign of the judges... or was it the 28th..? Nope, it was the 27th! Then in the 28th year..." And she just continues. She's so into it and pays attention and remembers everything! C---- has been loving it too. He still has a goal to be baptized, it's just the marriage that he isn't sure about. If he continues like he's been doing, he'll have enough faith to do anything.

Other than that, not a whole lot went down this week, except for Christmas! It was good to talk to the family on Skype, and shoutout to the Slavens family who decided to drop by Bora and say hello on Christmas! In addition to conversation with family and friends, I don't think I've ever eaten so much in my life like I have this week. Christmas eve we spent dinner time at our ward mission leader's home with several other member families. We had duck, oysters, steak, potatoes, salmon, poisson cru, caviar, lasagna, and everything you could imagine. We went to town! Then every other meal we had with members were leftovers from their Christmas dinners. Now after this week I am in an incredible habit of eating at least three full plates of food. I couldn't do that before. What a blessing.

That's it for this week! We're praying that this chikununya will get out of our house as soon as possible so that we can kick off the new year nice and strong. I love you all and Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

Elder  Ball

Monday, December 22, 2014

In Christ Alone (Bora Bora - week #10)

Ia ora na!

Well in all honesty I don't have a lot to report on this week because I guess the chikungunya wasnt quite done with me yet... so until Friday I was just chillin' in my bed, unable to move. It was a bummer, and I felt bad for poor Elder Duncan who just wanted to get out there and work. But he was patient and he had the chance to split with the other elders a little bit. I love the guy. I also got to grow a sweet beard, since I just layed in bed for days. Haha it was pretty cool.

Well, in what work we did have, we had the chance to just go out and do contacting in our area since we had no lessons planned. We talked to this guy named Taaroa (Taro) for like an hour, since he totally loves reading the Bible and he told us  bunch of these near death experiences and the scars to show them. Pretty funny, but we gave him a Book of Mormon and he was suuuper stoked to get it. He told us thanks over and over again, because he just loves reading the scriptures! he didn't want to start taking lessons yet since he works late most days, but he told us where he lives and told us to come by and if he's there we'd chat! We're praying that he will have great experiences with the Book of Mormon.

Anyway, to end my brief email and to share my appreciation for Jesus Christ this Christmas season, Id like to share the lyrics to this classic Christian hymn called In Christ Alone that the group Owl City did a rendition to. Elder Hansen has it among his selection of songs, and when I heard it for the first time it struck me to the soul.

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in power of Christ I'll stand.
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

I love the final line, "here in the power of Christ I'll stand." I am so grateful for the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, and for his atoning sacrifice that this song glorifies so well. For all that he has done for me and for all of us, I love Him, and here I will stand with Him till the end. 

I love you all! Merry Christmas.

Elder Ball

Monday, December 15, 2014

Another one bites the dust (Bora Bora - week #9)

Ia ora na!

And I muster that enthusiastic ia ora na with all my faith because the chikengunya has claimed another victim... I've bitten the dust. It started Thursday when I started noticing a weird rash on my arms, and later that night my chest, elbows and knees started to tighten up. No surprise Friday I was in bed all day with a gnarly fever. But I do say that the Lord has been merciful and the fever only lasted about a day an a half, so I was able to work the last part of Saturday and all Sunday! I still have a rash all over my body and minor pains in my joints, but I'm coming along fine.

In spite of that, Elder Duncan and I had a great week with plenty of biking. Something I could also explain is that, like I said in an earlier email, that our area is the entire east side of the island. Now where do we live? On the middle of the west coast of the island. So everyday Elder Duncan and I bike for about 30 minutes to get to our area, then proselyte in our area which takes about an hour to get all the way through. It's the price to pay for having the most naturally beautiful side of the island! Even more, on Tuesday, it was raining buuuckets. We got out there on our bikes and we were so stoked to go biking through a monsoon for hours! And I'm not joking. Whether rain or shine, Bora Bora is still a beauty. For the moment we'll be biking a lot until we find that new house that we're looking for on the other side of the island.

Also, remember those blessings that I talked about last week, that we gave to people with the Chikengunya? We came back to see them this week, and it turns out that they were all completely healed the day after the blessing. One of these people, named I---, is an investigator, and has been being prepared little by little to receive the Gospel. She once assisted a family night in Raiatea a couple months ago, loved it and has nurtured questions about the Church ever since. She lives with an inactive family member named D-----, and it's through her that we came into contact with Isaora. Now after the blessing, I---is even more interested and now we're doing the lessons with her and her partner S----, who is awesome. He's a rugby player, and a super humble guy. Such a cool couple.

Finally last weekend, we met an investigator named K---- and her partner C---- at a new ward activity. K---- took lessons from the other missionaries before the ward boundary changes, and now she is in our ward. She has a strong desire to be baptized! And she's pretty ready, the only thing that's blocking her is her partner C----. At the time that the other elders taught her, C---- was kind of against her being baptized and did a few things to show it (burning her Book of Mormon, threatening to kill the missionaries, just minor things like that) and we had the blessing to meet him at this activity. Super nice guy! We invited them to church the next day, and for the first time for both of them, they came! We did a lesson with them this week as well, in which C---- said that in the following year he was going to quit alcohol and join the church. I don't know what happened between back then and now, but I'm so dang thankful that it did because it prepared C---- to receive the Gospel!

So in spite of the sickness, we were able to accomplish good things this week. The Lord is merciful unto those who are penitent and seek his help. We're excited for this next week when we'll be back into good health to preach the good word. Here's a photo with me and Elder Duncan. Love you all, have a great week!

Elder Ball

Monday, December 8, 2014

When chikungunyah attacks (Bora Bora - week #8)

Ia ora na!

A quick week went by like that, and with the new ward all set up we have had tons of work to do this past week. I don't have too much time to write, but I'll try to put in as much awesomeness as possible. 

First of all, new companion! And he's very new. his name is Elder Duncan from Cache Valley, Utah. He turned 18 about 5 months ago, so he's just about as fresh of an elder as you can get! He's way cool, and he actually plays guitar in a band! Already we have some cool things in common, and already from this week I can see that he has a very solid understanding of the gospel and he teaches very well. The only thing that's blocking him is the language barrier of course. It reminds me my own training, when I couldn't understand the difference between French and Tahitian. But he's a trooper and he's been smiling the whole time. And he ate fafaru his first night. What a stud! I hope that by the end of his training his skills will exceed my own and that he'll be "duncan" people left and right in the waters of baptism. Hahaha props to Elder Larsen for that joke. 

So yeah, the new ward. The members here are insanely motivated to get that chapel filled up again. In all honesty we didn't have many investigators or lessons in our area at the beginning of the week, since we gave all the other investigators to the Vaitape ward. So we really had to seek inspiration for things to do this week. With nothing fixed but at least with plans we made, Elder Duncan and I went out to bike to our sector. Then when we get there, we get a call from an inactive member to give blessings to her and her sick nonmember family, or a member calls us wanting to take us to see other inactive members, calls like that just raining down from heaven! So we were blessed with chances to work with the members and have productive things to do this week. We can already see the unity in the ward and their desire to hasten the Lord's work. 

And speaking of blessings... a new sickness has been sweeping French Polynesia. It's called chikungunyah. When we first heard about that sickness, Elder Gilson said "What? Chicken ganja?" haha so chicken ganja has attacked the islands. It first hit Tahiti, and it's been about a month that its been sweeping from home to home over there. But just this past week or so, its hit Bora. What it is, it's this sickness from Africa or something. It starts with a headache and a mild fever, but in a matter of hours you're on your bed with thick pains in every joint of your body, with a rash from head to toe and a wicked fever, and it takes you out for about a week. It's a sickness carried by mosquitoes. And this whole week we've been giving blessings to people everywhere who have this sickness. It seems painful, but it doesn't seem too life threatening. We've been protected, and not just by Off, but by angels, because man it seems like everybody is sick. Elder Hansen got the sickness last night, but we gave him a blessing and today he's back on his bike. The Lord cant afford to lose his servants for a week in this critical moment on Bora. We'll see if any of us get it this next week.

That's all I got time for, and we're stoked for the weeks to come. I love you all, have a great week!

Elder Ball

Monday, December 1, 2014

Ch ch ch changes (Bora Bora - week #7)

Ia ora na tatou!

Voila the end of a stacked week! And the end of flying solo in the sector of Anau! There's been some pretty sweet things that have happened this week, and some big news to add. 

So Elder Gilson, Elder Requillart and I were still together this week, sharing a little the work in the two wards trying to get as many lessons done as possible. We had the privilege to teach A----- again this week after a little while, since he was too busy to do the lessons the week before. we taught him the Plan of Salvation, and it was just one of those lessons where all three of us taught like bosses, and the Spirit worked through us and helped us explain and teach things perfectly. A----- understood everything, including the fall of Adam and redemption through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and what we need to do to merit the blessings of the Atonement. At the end of the lesson, he finally accepted to be baptized. We're so stoked for him, and we plan on helping him prepare and fix a date, since he still needs to respect the law of chastity.

We had a great time teaching this week, but the biggest news is that of the new ward that was created on the island. Something I forgot to mention when I came to Bora, I'm district leader for the island. And part of the reason why I was sent here was to get to know the island so that when President Bize comes, I'll be able to show him the newly formed areas so that he can get an idea of what they are all like, as well as become familiar with possible houses for the third companionship of missionaries to live in. Well, President and Sister Bize came this week and they took me around the island to show them everything for a little while. It was pretty cool to work with them and get to know them a little better. Felt kinda like an assistant (haha but really.) 

This picture was found on President Bize's Facebook page.  He took the picture
when visiting Bora Bora this week. Elder Ball with Elders Requillart and Gilson.
And with that, I'll announce the news of the transfer that will be going down to accommodate the new ward! So of course ill be staying here, in the Anau ward, and Elder Gilson will be staying in Vaitape while Elder Requillart will leave for Tahiti. So who's my new companion? You guessed it, I'm gonna be a papa again! Ill be training a new American elder named Elder Duncan. Elder Gilson will receive Elder Openshaw as a companion, and in the new ward Faanui, Elder Hansen will be coming in with a brand new French elder! I'm so stoked for this transfer. The new limits for Anau are the entire east coast of the island. It's also a little sad because a good amount of my investigators like A------- and T------ will be in the new limits of Vaitape, so Elder Gilson will be taking over with them. But he'll be losing a good amount of his investigators as well to Faanui. It'll be a big transition that we'll have to get used to and adapt to this next week. But I'm way excited for the new colleagues!

So to celebrate the creation of the new ward, the members of the Church on the island had a weekend full of activities. Friday night was a talent show where each of the three wards took an animated film as a theme and did a theatrical piece with that theme. Anau did the Prince of Egypt, and it was sooo stinkin' awesome! I'm proud to be a part of that ward. Saturday morning there was a sports day, and since there were a good amount of inactive members and amis there, President let us go play! We played volleyball, soccer, p├ętanque (which is like the french version of boche ball) and a relay. A good amount of the young adults of Anau wanted me to do the swimming portion of the relay for them. But of course President said no. Bummer!

Then of course, Sunday morning was the new ward creation and conference. They called two new bishops for Anau and Faanui, and Vaitape stayed the same. That means we have a new bishopric, and probably new presidencies in each function of the church. We're pretty much starting from scratch. Which is something that this ward has needed for a long time: a fresh start! With new leaders, new members and new boundaries, there are bound to be new investigators and new miracles accomplished. It'll probably take about a week to get used to all the changes, but it's good to start fresh! I'm way excited, and the members are as well.

Well it's a lot to explain and I hope it didn't bore you all but it's the biggest thing that's happened in the church here on Bora for at least 15 years. The goal is to create a 4th ward here on Bora by the year 2016, which means that the new stake of Bora Bora, Maupiti and Huahine will be created. That would be amazing. That's about all that i have time for, I love you all and have a great week! 

Elder Ball