Monday, May 18, 2015

Already done...? (Papeete)

Ia ora na!

That's my last ia ora na after 2 years. Dang. Well how can I explain my feelings? I don't know if I can really, I'm sad because this morning I left Bora Bora after a 7 month stay. Honestly the last stretch of my mission has been extremely difficult, but extremely memorable. I've never gotten closer to members of one of my areas than I have in Bora, and I miss them a ton. At the same time, I'm stoked to get back home! I'm ready to continue life... but a part of me wants to continue it here. Well we can't all stay in paradise forever!

This week was quite a week. I wish I could say everything but I actually do not have a ton of time, I'm in Papeete and we got a ton of stuff to do before we head back. But when I do have time (at home...) I'll end my blog with a good wrap up of the mission. I love you all and have a great week, I mean, 2 days... crazy!

Elder Ball
Ward members in Bora Bora say goodbye.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Comin up on the end (Bora Bora - week #30)

Ia ora na tout le monde!

Another good week, and just one more to go. It doesnt really feel like I'm leaving yet, so I guess when the moment comes and I leave it'll hit me. But not yet. I'll just enjoy the sunshine while I still got it! Though it was good to talk to the family yesterday for Mother's day, I love you all and can't wait to see you all again!

Well, what to say about this past week. We had a good lesson with our new investigators, T, T and E. No alcohol included this time! It was maybe the best lesson that Elder Swartz and I have taught together, and you could totally tell that they felt the Spirit, and that they understood the lesson. They accepted the commitments that we gave them, and it looks like that they could really be baptized. Again, it's another unmarried couple situation, so the marriage is something that has to be taken care of first. But I have great hopes for them.

The works been pretty tough, all in all. In the past few weeks we've found many new investigators, but they've been dropping out as quickly as they came... Pretty much sorting through the wheat and the tares, those who are ready and those who aren't quite so serious. A lot of them have been the latter. But it's not stopping us, we'll just keep trying to have the same efforts in working well with our members in order to find new investigators.

I'm hoping for a strong last week, we're gonna be working hard. I love you all, have yourselves a great week!

Elder Ball

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day call (Bora Bora - week #30)

We had a nice call with Elder Ball on Mother's Day.  His brother, Thomas, Skyped in as well from the University of Oregon.  We received the happy news that Thomas has been called to the Maryland Baltimore Mission, Spanish speaking and he shared it with his brother Casey.  One Elder Ball  is coming home and one Elder Ball is leaving.  We are so happy for their service to the Lord and dedication to helping our brothers and sisters in the world.

Casey is doing well.  He is a little frustrated that he will be leaving beloved investigators not yet married and baptized as he had hoped. He loves the people so much and wants them to experience all the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives.

I'm not sure if we'll get another email from him before he is home (in 9 days!).  I'm sure he will provide a last blog entry and testimony when he returns.

For those who are local, he will report on his mission at the following place at 9 am on May 24th:

875 Quince Ave
Santa Clara, CA

Thanks everyone for your love and support to Elder Ball!

From his mother, Beth

Monday, May 4, 2015

The wheat and the tares (Bora Bora - week #29)

Ia ora na tatou!

Another week passed... and another week left. A little over 2 weeks left before I see all your lovely faces again. Things are going by quickly, but I'm just doing my best not to pay any attention and just work, cuz it's not over yet. 

Elder Swartz and I had another solid week of work, work, work. Last week we had found many new investigators, and the same has been for this week. The members have been outstanding and motivated in the work. But unfortunately, we've had many investigators, new and old alike, decide to turn away from our message... So it feels like we're just sorting through the wheat and the tares. We see that there's a lot of field, but is it really white already for the harvest?

Three of these new investigators were a couple named T and T [note from Casey's mom: sorry, that almost everyone's name in Tahiti begins with T], and the mother of T named E. They were a reference given us by the RS president, so we went over to contact them. We were greeted by a cranky E, who just started drinking and was already slightly tipsy. She was upset that we didn't call before coming, and we said sorry we didn't know we just wanted to meet them! We were going to propose to come back another day, but she insisted that we come in (after all that fuss...) and T and T were happy to see us. We learn that they are all inactive Adventists, haven't been to church in a while. As we start teaching, E asks a bunch of questions and making objections to our teachings, and we respond with the Bible, but you know you cant get far when teaching an intoxicated Mamie. But T and T were loving everything we were teaching, and T just tells her mother to hush up and listen a little to our message. All in all it worked out well, didn't get super far in the lesson but we fixed a return date and plan on calling in advance this time!

We had other new investigators as well, such as H, a woman who was walking down the street as we were teaching another new investigator of ours, T, next to the road. She's a good friend of T and she was interested in what was going on, so she came over to listen. We taught about the Restoration, and it was awesome! They were both psyched to receive a Book of Mormon and read it, and then test Moroni's promise, especially H. I truly feel that she has much potential, and maybe we were in the right place at the right time and Heavenly Father led her right to us. It helps me remember that as we do our best, God takes care of the rest.

Those are just a few examples of the experiences of this week. We've been taking advantage of the awesomeness of this island every P-day, and we have some pretty great photos. Enjoy. Love you all, have a great week!

Elder Ball

We caught all that fish ourselves. Booyah

Beautiful Bora Bora, Casey's final area.

The district

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Short Letter (Bora Bora - week #28)

Ia ora na mom! 

This letter's gonna be a short one. I don't have much to say about this week, but things are going awesome! We had a lot of new investigators this week and are getting pretty busy, it's just what I need because it keeps me focused. We visited with a few inactive families that have been coming back to church, and it wasn't until they told me how grateful they were of my help for them that I realized the impact I had on their lives. It made me feel good, it motivated me for sure! Thanks for your prayers, I love you and until next week!

Elder Ball

Monday, April 20, 2015

Trust in Him (Bora Bora - week #27)

Ia ora na!

It's been a good week, Elder Swartz and I have been getting along great and he brings a lot of new talent into our team. He's way smart, he's into the Army and he's got a sound understanding, a clear intelligence. Kinda like Moroni. It's good to have him as my last companion!

I've learned (or relearned) quite a few things this week that have helped me come unto Christ. On Wednesday morning Elder Swartz and I went with the Relief Society president to visit a contact that she made with someone last week. During the visit, the woman, named V, expressed the difficulties in her family, not being able to see her husband often because of work and his opposition to anything gospel-related. She had been praying for her husband for at least three years that things would go better, and with total love the Relief Society President assured her that God heard her prayers, and sent us to help her. V started to cry. In watching this exchange, I remembered maybe the most important facet of missionary work: charity and love. Doctrine and Covenants 12:8 reads "and no one can assist in this work except he shall be humble and full of love, having faith, hope, and charity..." V was touched by what was being said simply because she felt love. She felt our love, and through our love she felt the love of her Heavenly Father, made manifest through the Holy Ghost.

Later that day, after having multiple plans fall through, Elder Swartz and I decided to pray for guidance. We felt impressed to visit an old reference that we had already tried to contact, so we went over, and surprisingly enough the house of this reference was wide open, the TV is on and we heard people inside. We call out "Ia ora na!" then the voices in the house go silent. We wait... "Ia ora na! E taata to te fare?" ...Nothing. Already used to this kind of response, we figured it was best to leave this house. We didn't question the revelation we received so we decided to try going next door. As we come to the house next door, we see a woman sweeping her porch, we call out and she comes to greet us. She introduces herself as K, and we talk to each other for a little while. She and her husband moved from Tahiti about a year ago to work here at Bora, and K has had no time to go to her Protestant church since the move because of work. She had been hoping to rededicate herself to learning the gospel and learning about Christ, but she didn't really know how; she didn't even have a Bible! We explained our role as missionaries, shared a quick message about Christ and the family, and presented her a Book of Mormon. She was glad to receive it, and she thanked us sincerely! Here someone was hoping and maybe praying to receive guidance, and the Lord led us to her. He didn't tell us directly to go there, but by a means we were already familiar with, we were led to her whereabouts and with faith we were able to act on our revelation, in spite of the initial disappointment.

Saturday we had a lesson with a man named Y. About two weeks ago we met Y in trying to contact and old investigator. The old investigator wasn't there, but Y was, and he was completely wasted. Normally we choose not to spend a lot of time with the drunk guys, but he called us over, and Elder Duncan and I went to talk to him briefly, but ended up listening to him for about a half an hour about his recent separation from his wife and kids, and his feeling lost, not knowing which religion could be true. We bore our testimony that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was indeed true, and that the fulness of the Gospel contained the solutions to his problems, and he accepted a lesson at his house for last Saturday. So Elder Swartz and I went to visit him Saturday, he was sober, we shared the message of the Restoration and he understood perfectly the message. I'm glad that we decided to listen to Yvon and recognize that he was someone who wanted help, rather than quickly judge him and dismiss him.

Those are my thoughts for the week. Life is going by pretty quickly, and in a month I'll be home... pretty sketchy feeling. With the weeks left, I'll be doing my best to get the most out of em. I love you all, have a great week!

Elder Ball

Monday, April 13, 2015

Making history at Bora (Bora Bora - week #26)

Ia ora na!

Another week went by like that, and the transfer went down. Elder Duncan left us and now I have Elder Swartz, from Federal Way, Washington! (If I'm not mistaken, that's where you grew up, right mom?) [From Mom: I am a 1978 graduate of Federal Way High School. Elder Benjamin Swartz is a 2014 graduate of FWHS. Go EAGLES!] It's good to have him, and he'll be the one to "kill me" meaning he's my last companion. Dang, last companion. Last transfer. It's crazy.

We had another pretty slow week, due to a week of scholarly vacation, so many people have left for the week or were busy doing other things, thus many lessons being canceled and many other backup plans falling through. Sooo we spent more time visiting members, doing contacting, doing a little door to door, with surprisingly minimal results. I guess it's just a bad week? We did our best, and during our weekly planning we made sure to plan our week out super well so that we'll constantly by plowing through and working hard. 

Things are going well for the few investigators we were able to see this week. For H and S, there are a few things that still need to be done legally so that they can get married, and its progressing but it doesn't look like I'll be here for their baptism... It makes me sad, but I guess it's been like that my whole mission so whatevs, I'm just happy to have seen the change that took place in their lives. Same for C and K, they have huge financial problems so marriage for them is difficult, I wont be here for their baptisms either. Seriously, that is the one thing that has driven me nuts, concubinage and marriage! They're all ready for baptism, we just gotta wait on the marriage.

In other news, I found out that I'll be making history at Bora. For one thing, it isnt often that missionaries finish at Bora, so Elder Hansen and I will be two of the few, but then I found out that I'll be the first missionary to finish at Bora... with... a new car! We finally got it, after quite a few months of waiting, and after quite a few more kilometers of biking. It will totally help us out, and it's practical. The members tease us now, saying that we're gonna get fat... probably true. Even with exercise in the morning, I dont know if I'll be able to equal out with all the eating that we do. Just dont be surprised when I step off the plane in a month with an extra chin.

That's the news for this week, we're hoping that next week will be the bomb and that with the new car we'll get some serious stuff done. I love you all, and have a great week!

Elder Ball


Goodbye Elder Duncan

Bienvenue Elder Swartz

La voiture

Monday, April 6, 2015

Poisson d'Avril (April's Fool Day) Bora Bora - week #25

Ia ora na!

Ehhh... I'll be honest, the week was a tougher one, but nonetheless with some cool experiences here and there. Wednesday was probably the worst day, Satan pulled a massive April fools on us by making sure that all six of our lessons for the day were cancelled. In addition to that, we were supposed to get a car that day, which is really needed at this point with the amount of lessons that we could be having without having to bike up to three hours of the day. But of course we get a call that it actually wont be coming until next week! Man it was pretty disappointing, but hey whats one more week out of the 4 months that we've already been enduring on bike?

The lessons we did have were not bad. We got a couple new investigators on Tuesday thanks to another neighborhood family night from last week. One of them was this big woman named Linda, who was once hard-core Protestant, and she had raised a lot of questions and thoughts during the family night last week. During our first lesson with her this week she spent a lot of time talking about her life story, about how her husband had a stroke and that he would soon return to Bora after having spent some time at the hospital at Tahiti. Then she starts asking a lot of questions about family, if it was possible to see them again after death. She displayed a lot of uncertainty on the subject of life after death. Elder Duncan and I eat those kind of questions up, and we talked about eternal families and God's priesthood power to seal families for eternity. It was a sweet lesson, and again it reaffirms my faith in this gospel that it answers all our deepest, most intimate questions, and it's so awesome to help people receive the answers to these questions.

Friday there was a ward activity at the beach, so we had the chance to go and spend time with members and investigators there. It's moments like that when we feel really close with the members of the ward, and they gain trust in us as we show our support in their activities. It helps me appreciate Bora so much, the beauty of the place and the greatness of the people.

We were supposed to watch conference as well this week, but since there is no satellite at the chapel they attempted to display it by Internet, so most of the time it buffered or cut out or crashed. I didn't have the chance to see much apart from the Saturday and Sunday morning sessions, but what I did see I loved. As always I enjoy Elder Holland's talk, which was on the Atonement, a fitting theme for Easter.

That's about the gist for the week, and the last for Elder Duncan here at Bora. I'll be getting Elder Swartz next week, as well as... a new car! I love you all, have a great week!

Elder Ball

Monday, March 30, 2015

Parataito (Paradise) Bora Bora - week #24

Ia ora na!

Another week gone by... and just like that, it's already time for transfer calls. We received em last night, and.... I'll be dying here in Bora Bora! Elder Duncan and I have been companions for about 4 months now, definitely the longest companion that I've had my whole mission. He'll be transferred to Paea over on Tahiti; it's been super great to be with him and to train him, and he's taught me a lot! After another week with Elder Duncan, I'll be getting Elder Shwartz the week after conference. He started the same time as Elder Duncan, and he'll be my last companion. Weird to think I only have one transfer left. Doesn't really feel like I'll be leaving any time soon!

We had a decent week... a good amount of lessons cancelled, but of course great lessons with the usual progressing investigators to help you remember how awesome being a missionary is! We haven't felt a ton of overall progress in the ward this week, and it's frustrating. But we did our best to fix as many lessons as possible for next week and plan them super well, and we had a good personal meeting with bishop to talk a little about the ward, find solutions to problems and to offer our help in any means possible. It was nice to discuss with him, he's a great bishop and worthy of his calling. It's just a matter of all the ward members and the ward council being on the same page now!

Saturday we participated in a ward activity with the young single adults. For the activity we basically went around with a list of services and favors to render to random people in the neighborhoods of Bora Bora, like washing a car or sweeping the patio to telling a story to a child. It was way fun, and it picked up a few references for the elders as well. Were planning to do that again in our area next time, cuz it works! 

Last Monday we spent a day at the motu. So relaxing and a good way to appreciate where we serve, in spite of difficulties. Pictures down below.

I love you all, until next week!

Elder Ball
Marona's the guy drivin the boat. He's a stud, and his mustache affirms this fact. 

Look at the water!

Marona lives on this motu

Perfectly candid shot

Monday, March 23, 2015

At last (Bora Bora - week #23)

Ia ora na!

Another week gone by, and with some great news. Three months from the day we first met him in the street, Taro has entered into the waters of baptism. Like most investigators, he had to make quite a few changes in his life to qualify for these sacred covenants, but he made em! Within the last couple of weeks, his desire to be baptized has grown so much, and he's still holding on tight till this day. It was a blessing to see him grow this much, and at last this ward has seen a baptism, the first of the year! Two in fact! It was a joined baptism with a primary child, Tamatea, the son of Stephanie and Eduard, a recently reactivated family that we visited for a while. It was a great service, and Elder Duncan and I had the privilege of baptizing the two. 

Things are going great with our other investigators. C----- and K----- came to the baptismal service, and they were touched, and had the chance to discuss with other ward members, and it looks like they might be advancing their marriage date now. We'll see! S---- and H---- came as well, and they felt the Spirit. We decided to push their baptism back until April because of certain issues, but they're still excited about the gospel and desire baptism more than anything else.

Things are going okay in the ward. Elder Duncan and I are just doing our best to work with all the members so that things can get moving a little faster. That's the good things about being a missionary, you learn how ward organization works, you don't really see church work in the same way that you see it before. It's interesting.

That's the news! I love you all, we're gonna go out on a boat to the motu today, so we're stoked for that. Have a great week!

Elder Ball

Anau love

Tout le monde

Monday, March 16, 2015

Short email (Bora Bora - week #22)

Ia ora na tout le monde!

Here's a trunky letter, I don't have too much time to write today so I'll just leave a little low down on what's been happening. Taro is doing good, should be having his baptism soon and we're praying and working to help him get ready! He's been doing a good job leaving behind the things of the world and starting to understand the doctrine, and he's been coming to church which is sweet. K---- and C---- still have the same marriage problem, but our love for them is still the same and they still make so much learning progress. T--- and T--- are starting to truly understand the importance of praying to know that these things are true as they face the dilemma of leaving the Pentacostal church that they came to love. S---- and H----- came to church this weekend and they are still as solid as when we met them last week. Things are looking good, as hard as it is to help them all progress. What we need the most is more member support, so we're gonna be working to gain more of that!

I love you all, and I wanted to leave you some photos of one of the greatest Tahitian meals I've had in a long time at Sam's house, the high council member in our ward. He's the bomb.

Peace out, until next week!

Elder Ball
The meal. Lobster, pig stir fry over rice, ipo (tahitian cake), poisson cru, taro and fafaru. And that's not even seconds


Monday, March 9, 2015

More surprises (Bora Bora - week #21)

Ia ora na mes amis!

It was a great week for Elder Duncan and I, with some more popped tires and another 100 or so kilometers added to the meter. It was one of those weeks where there's some real good, enriching experiences, as well as some disappointing ones, and it all makes you love being a missionary and love the work!

The week started out good with a family night at the home of the first counselor of the bishopric, frere Florian. He had invited a couple over, H----- and S-----, who had previously been to another family night with them. We watched a video on the Atonement and had the chance to teach a little. Then at the end, S----- shared her thoughts, about how she really felt something while she watched the video and in the other family night and how she wanted to join the church. So we fixed a lesson with them for the next day, taught the Restoration, committed them to be baptized at the end of this month and they accepted! Before we had extended the invitation, H----- asked why it was important to be baptized, and we told him that we receive a remission of our past sins through it and that it's the door to eternal life. And as we explained that, it was just one of those moments when you feel the Spirit blanket tangibly over you, and you look over at H----- and you can tell that he's feeling the same thing, cuz he just starts smiling and crying and saying how he's wanted something like that for a long time now because of the mistakes he's made in the past. It was powerful. We just did our job, and I'm grateful for the Holy Ghost who played the greater role as the true teacher in that situation.

Then there's the disappointing experience... and it was with C----and K----. We show up to their house this week, and at the beginning of the lesson they explained how they were planning on going to the city hall to cancel their marriage... NOOOO!!! They wanted more time and money to plan a bigger marriage, to make sure that their house was well renovated to accommodate all the friends and family they decided to invite, and they were too embarrassed to ask for help from anybody else... they plan on a June marriage. For them getting married in the next month was impossible, and they were convinced. It was a moment when Elder Duncan and I just think "Father, please help us know what to say..." They are so ready for baptism, and the only thing keeping them from that is marriage!  We explain that to them, and Elder Duncan shared a touching experience about how God had answered his prayers in a seemingly impossible situation, and that with faith we can accomplish God's commandments and miracles can be wrought. It was another spiritually powerful experience, and they said that they'll think on it some more, but they were pretty decided on going to the city hall today to push the date all the way back. We're praying that they'll stay strong!

Eh, that's the mission for ya. Gotta love it, gotta love it. These last 8 weeks or so have been some of the most impressive on my whole mission, and I look forward to these last 10, cuz I know they'll be the most memorable. I love the work! Love you all, until next time!

Elder Ball

Monday, March 2, 2015

Tarooo (Bora Bora - week #20)

Ia ora na tatou!

We were blessed this week with some good experiences. The first would probably have to be with T---. We've been teaching him ever since we found him, and we've been going really slow with him since he has a really hard time understanding the scriptures, and some times we have to go over some of the same principles as before so that the can remember them. He makes such an effort and he's made so much progress, but he hadn't yet accepted baptism or come to church. This week was a milestone! We read in 3 Nephi 11 about baptism with him, and he understood then just how important baptism is for him. He accepted to be baptized this month! Then yesterday he made it to church with a member! Awesome progress! During the coming weeks we just gotta make sure he's all ready and he'll be down there in the water.We pray that he'll be able to overcome all temptation!

T---- and T---- progress well! T---'s  been coming to church, but T---  hasn't really made the effort yet, it's been years since he's been to any church! But Saturday there was a baptismal service for the Vaitape ward, and we had already invited them to come. The day of the service, Elder Duncan and I planned to ask them for a ride back to the other side to the chapel with us as a way of making sure they wouldn't miss out on this spiritual moment ;) T---- wasn't really planning on going, but luckily when we asked for a ride he accepted to go as well! He and T---- had a good experience at the baptism and they enjoyed it. We're glad they came as well!

The weeks keep passing by, there really isn't much time left for me huh? I'll be sad to leave my island home, but I am looking forward to seeing all your faces again. For now Ill be working hard until the end, no worries. I love you all, until next week!

Elder Ball

Monday, February 23, 2015

Que mon pays est beau (Bora Bora - week #19)

Ia ora na!

It's been another great week... in spite of another round of sickness. This time it was just a flu virus for both Elder Duncan and I. We kicked it's butt. Took us out momentarily but not enough to keep our hopes down. We had some great experiences this week and Elder Duncan and I are more unified than ever before, we've been starting to teach super well together! And to add to that I've started exercising again in the morning to keep me nice and in shape for the biking that we do. It's such a good start to the day and it makes life so much more beautiful!

Because of our sicknesses, and because of their work schedules, we didn't really have the chance to see C-- and K-this week, but C--was able to come to church, and we had a quick lesson with him on the Holy Ghost. He talked about how whenever he reads he feels God's presence, so all he ever wants to do is reads the scriptures... then he testifies to us how he knows that the Book of Mormon is true, and he just starts crying! Such a sweet, powerful moment, and the Holy Ghost did it's job.

Things are still going well with T-- and T--. My love for this family is truly starting to grow, and they've been super good with reading the Book of Mormon. We just pray that the Holy Ghost will touch their hearts and tell them that all these things are true. Apart from the lessons that we do, we have a really good relationship as well. From the start we managed to break the ice with them super well and we were laughing and joking with them. They always offer that we eat with them, and they even took us home after their lesson with them in their truck. Such and AWESOME family, I want the best for them!

This week our DMP found a house for us on the other side of the island! We were stoked, so we went over to check it out... such a beautiful house, right next to the ocean, smack dab in the middle of our area... but it's 3 bedrooms, and 1200 bucks a month. We called President Bize praying that it would be good, and when we explained it to him I could tell that he was shaking his head. He told us to find another one... go figure. That house is probably best with another family anyway. Today another member called offering us a house a little smaller in the same neighborhood, so we might go check that one out today. God's starting to be a little merciful to us!

Things are going well, my outlook on the work this week was bright, and I have a lot of hope and love for the future. Don't stop praying for us! I love you all and have a great week.

Elder Ball

Monday, February 16, 2015

Aue na tamataraa (Bora Bora - week #18)

Ia ora na tatou!

Another super quick week that has passed by. Things keep picking up in our area, and were finding more and more people who are interested in the Gospel. For the past several years our area has been the most untouched on the whole island because its so far away from our house, so it hasn't been until the new ward creation two months ago when Elder Duncan and I came storming in looking for those souls who have been waiting. Now we've found a good amount, but in all honesty we're tired... because of the distance of our house, we bike between 15-20 miles a day and have yet been unsuccessful in finding a new house in our area. It's not very likely that we'll be getting that car that President said could be coming, either. Well, gotta make do with what you got!

As for the news on the transfer, we've found out that there will be no transfers on the island, so Elder Duncan and I will be staying together. So it looks like Bora Bora will be my burial ground! I'm totally fine with that. This area is awesome, and just maybe Ill see the day when we actually live in our area. 

We love the friends in Tahiti who post pictures of Casey using social media.
This one is a selfie by Leen Nauta during a church service project this week.
C-- and K-- are doing better and better, in spite of the trials and temptations that come their way. With their marriage in a month, they've already started to respect the law of chastity, they fast, they pray, they read the scriptures all the time and they've been coming to church regularly. They are just about ready to enter into the waters of baptism. It's just so amazing to see how far they come, and how God has really blessed their life. Their family relations improve from day to day as they strive to keep the commandments and be ridden from the guilt of their past mistakes through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. They acquire so much new knowledge in their learning of the Gospel. It's been a privilege to be teaching them, and they are coming along great.

We had an awesome lesson with T-- and his family as well. We taught the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and invited them to baptism. Unfortunately they didn't accept yet, but they sincerely want to search further and read the Book of Mormon. T----, his wife, and their two daughters M-- and M-- came to church as well Sunday. T-- didn't come because he was embarrassed that he didn't have the right clothes to come. The poor guy! This family is just super sincere and honest, and they feel so bad when they don't keep a commitment that they accepted. We just assure them that even if they don't keep a commitment, if they have a desire to do better than they'll be able to do it the next time and move on, and that we're not gonna yell at em or anything. Haha I'm just impressed by their integrity and their real intent to do the right thing.

That's what I got for this week. Keep cheering me on until the buzzer, its the end of the fourth quarter now and I gotta keep going in spite of the fatigue! I love you all, and I love this work, and have a great week!

Elder Ball

Monday, February 9, 2015

More exotic disease (Bora Bora - week #17)

Ia ora na!

Well, not much to report on this week, except the fact that I caught yet another rare exotic virus called coxsackevirus. It was basically a fever and a ton of blisters on my hands and feet, which was pretty painful. Luckily it only lasted about three days, unlike chikungunya. Apparently its rare in adults and more common in children, but the doctor said that because of chikungunya my immune system was weakened, so I was able to catch this new virus. How awesome. But I'm over it now, ready to move on!

This picture was emailed to us (Casey's parents) from a sister who was at that neighborhood concert.

We had an awesome time at a neighborhood gospel night that we put on in the Matira neighborhood. Elder Duncan and I taught a lesson on our relationship with our Heavenly Father and how he gave us his son, Jesus Christ. The Spirit was strong, and it went awesome. Matira is known to be a serious party neighborhood, and surprisingly enough we had a ton of teenagers come listen, and a good number of them accepted the lessons in the future. After we had finished the lesson and started eating the refreshments, out of nowhere two guitars come out, and of course Elder Duncan and I start getting ideas. The rest of the night turned into a mini concert by us, and people loved it. When you show your fun side as a missionary, people become so much open to you!

I'm grateful for the talents that God has given us all. It makes me remember the counsel that the Lord gave in Doctrine & Covenants 60:13. "Behold, they have been sent to preach my gospel among the congregations of the wicked; wherefore, I give unto them a commandment, thus: Thou shalt not idle away thy time, neither shalt thou bury thy talent that it may not be known." We might as well use our talents to uplift and edify others and help them to come unto Christ than be ashamed.

That's the short email for this week, more to come next week while I'm no longer sick. Love you all, and have a good week!

Elder Ball

Monday, February 2, 2015

Bleh (Bora Bora - week #16)

Ia ora na tout le monde. Unfortunately I got the flu so I don't really feel too much like writing a huge email, so I'm sorry. But the week was pretty good. We found quite a few new investigators as well and we're hoping to help them into the waters of baptism soon. Things are looking good, there's plenty of work to do.

A touching moment of the week: yesterday I was asked me to do a baby blessing for the baby of a less active member. This would be the first time that I do a baby blessing. But when we took the baby in our arms, she was so calm and just looked up at me the whole time as I was saying the blessing. It made me realize how amazing it will be to be a father someday, as I bless my own children. It was a sweet, loving glimpse into fatherhood.

Well, that's the news. I'm hoping that this flu wont last too long, but luckily it's P-day and we don't have to do anything. Love you all, until next week!

Elder Ball
Photo emailed to us from a kind Tahitian mother, Stephanie Teuira, who takes good care of
 missionaries there in Bora Bora.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The best week (Bora Bora - week #15)

Ia ora na!

Again, another week of really awesome progress. We almost nailed our goal of 20 lessons, but fell just a little short because of cancellations. But the work is progressing, and that is what's important!

First of all, things have been going great with K--- and C---. This week we had the first lesson in a while with both of them present, and for a couple weeks we've only been able to see one or the other because the other was working. And in talking to them last week, they've told us that they are willing to finally get married and be baptized... next year. Well, at least they have the desire! But this week Elder Duncan and I really wanted to help them fix a goal worthy of their capacities to follow Christ. We taught a great lesson with both of them on the Plan of Salvation, in talking about how this day is the day to prepare to meet God and accomplish or works. We then invited them to prepare for marriage and baptism in the month of March of this year. And surprisingly enough, C--- and K--- looked at each other and smiled. K---was totally down for it, but C--- wasn't too sure. We testified, and as we finished C--- just said "I want you guys to give me a blessing." 

How sweet was that Spirit as we gave him the blessing to reassure him of Heavenly Father's love for him. After the blessing, he looks at us and says "It looks like March is gonna be good for marriage and baptism." Who would've thought that an angry man who once would burn copies of the Book of Mormon and mock the missionaries as they rode by would 4 months later accept to be baptized and get married. What an awesome couple!

Things are also cool with T---! He's thinking about getting baptized soon as well, but wants to come to church a few times before making a good decision. This week he was supposed to come by bus, but as the bus pulled up to the chapel we were saddened to see that he wasn't there! Dang, maybe next week!

We found a great new family this week. It was actually a door to door contact that we made with a man named T---- at the beginning of the month.  He wanted to receive us that day, but was too occupied so we fixed a return date later that week. And here's where Elder Ball makes a big mistake: the day of the lesson, I decide that we really needed to see a family of old investigators instead of going to T----'s lesson, so we did. I guess I thought it was the Spirit? We had a good experience with that family and they came to church that weekend, but frankly I shouldn't have made that decision to pass up T----.

So this week, with a lesson cancelled, we decide to go pass by T----'s again to see if he was still interested, and he was and we fixed a return date with him for later in the week. Then this time we made sure to really pass by to see him! And when we arrived, we were surprised to be welcomed in by him, but also by his wife and his two daughters. This was a whole family! We had a great first contact with them, and in speaking with them, they revealed their desires to change their lives: to stop drinking, to have better family relations, to pray more often. And they truly, all four of them, had this desire and were so excited for us to come over and help them and tell them that they could truly change thanks to Jesus Christ's atonement. If only I had known that this family was really wanting and waiting for this, I wouldn't have passed it up a month ago! And to make it worse, T---- talked how he joked with his wife saying that he had a dream that two angels would come to the house that first day. So he made food and got everything ready and they waited... and we didn't come. Again... IF ONLY! I truly repented. And I thanked God that it still worked out and that this family still wanted to have us. They thought nothing of it.

Well, that's the week in a nutshell. The biking is hard, but it's worth the effort because every day brings small miracles. I love you all and have a great week!

Elder Ball

Typical Bora Bora

Me between Tahaa and Raiatea

Matira Beach

Monday, January 19, 2015

An angel named Ellis (Bora Bora - week #14)

Ia ora na!

Good week this week! Maybe the best we had since the new ward creation. We were able to have 15 discussions this week, and next week is looking like 20. But apart from the new goals that we've attained, God truly helped us this week.

There was one day in the week when we were biking along to a lesson, and we were going pretty fast in order to be on time. As we were going, a Tahitian guy on a scooter passes us and in English says "Hey Elders!" He then makes a u-turn and stops us. He asks us "Which ward do guys serve in?" We reply Anau and then he says "Oh, right on. By the way my names Ellis. Good luck guys!" Then he rides off. My companion and I were kinda standing there wondering what that was all about, then we go on our way. But as we start to leave that spot, we hear a whistle, and we turn to see a dude waving his shirt around trying to get our attention. We ride on over, and recognize that it's Taro.

I don't know if you guys remember when I talked about a dude named Taaroa in a previous email, when we talked to him for like an hour and gave him a Book of Mormon, but didn't accept the lessons. Well, his names actually Taro, and we've been trying to contact him ever since to try and do a follow up on the Book of Mormon, but haven't been able to find him. And now, we found him, and his house! He saw us while we were talking to Ellis, and had just enough time to run out and get our attention. We talked to him for a moment, and told him that we had a lesson and that we would try to come back again later, but after getting to our lesson to find that our investigator wasn't there, we figured out that Taro was the one that we really needed to be talking to at that time. 

We headed back to Taro's house, and he accepted to discuss with us. After finishing the prayer, he takes out his Book of Mormon that we had given to him. He had read many chapters at random, and the night before he had finished reading Alma 40-42. He asks us a ton of questions about the things he read, and we do our best to answer them all, because he had a ton! Then the craziest thing, he pulls out this binder with tons of paper in it. He shows us the things he's written on the paper, turns out that he copied in writing pretty much the entire Guide to the Scriptures. He turns to one subject, which happens to be the gift of the Holy Ghost, and asks us what all that stuff meant. By this point Elder Duncan and I are a little overwhelmed but marveled by what this guy has been doing. He then goes off showing this list of questions he has, from "Where do I truly come from" to "Why are there so many churches in the world". If only we had time to answer all these questions! We gave him brochures on the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation and told him to do the studies that were in the backs of the brochures, and we shared a super short message of the Restoration and just testified. This time he accepted the lessons, and we fixed a lesson for next week.

At the time, that whole experience was honestly super weird, but looking back and talking about it with Elder Duncan, that was one of the most miraculous moments I have had on my mission. Taro is someone who is obviously hungering and thirsting for the Gospel, and he's wanted answers to his questions for this past month and we weren't able to find him. And now, after some seemingly coincidental meeting with Ellis in front of Taro's house, which lasted just the right amount of time for Taro to see us, we were able to meet with Taro again. The only thing is, Elder Duncan and I have concluded that it wasn't at all coincidence. God knows how to make things work in certain ways for the salvation of His children. Thanks to an angel sent from God named Ellis, we'll be seeing Taro again next week.

In addition to that awesome experience, we had a good district meeting with President Bize, along with Elder Larsen and Elder White. It was great to just have that support from them, and it was also refreshing to find out that Elder Duncan and I will be getting a car soon. Right on.

Well, that's the news for this week. I love you all, and until next week!

Elder Ball

Monday, January 12, 2015

Best sacrament meeting (Bora Bora - week #13)

Ia ora na!

I actually don't have much time this week since we got a call that President Bize and the assistants will be coming down to Bora this weekend! So we've been spending all day deep cleaning our house to make sure that it's beautiful before they arrive. I don't think the house has been cleaned this deep since before the missionaries started living in it... but it's turning out great!

Elder Ball and Elder Duncan at meeting with President Bize and the assistants.
This photo was found on President and Sister Bize's Facebook page.

We actually had a good week, a little like the last week since a lot of lessons ended up getting cancelled and pushed back until next week. But we've had the privilege to eat with a good amount of inactive families these past two weeks, and the ward has been visiting inactive families left and right. This week at church like 6 inactive families that haven't been to church in forever came to church! It was so awesome to see all these families that I've been visiting from time to time since I've come here to Bora finally come back to church. Elder Duncan and I were truly happy.

Sorry but that's about all the time I have, gotta go clean crab juice off the patio wall (don't even ask). Love you all and have a great week!

Elder Ball

Monday, January 5, 2015

New year, new energy (Bora Bora - week #12)

Ia ora na!

Happy new year to everybody! We had a great new year here in Bora Bora for Elder Duncan and I, as well as for the other missionaries. Again, we ended up eating like three plates of food on new years eve, with everything from oysters to pig to turkey and sashimi. And I can honestly say that after looking at gut at the end of this week, and gonna take up exercising in the morning again. 

Anyway, new years was nice, we did eat a good amount of food and took it pretty easy after a good day of work, in relation to everyone else on the island. If you guys can remmeber how it was on Tubuai at new years, it's pretty much the same here: everybody's drunk. It didn't seem as bad for me this year,either because I knew what to expect or because all the drunk dudes tried to kiss us instead of punch our faces. It's just funny how all the drunk guys wanna cause beef with the missionaries. I think Elder Duncan got quite a few bisous on the cheek this week. I said to him "you will never be kissed by as many men in your life as you will on your mission." True story though. Then new years eve, we're obedient and go to bed at 10:30, then we're awakened at midnight to earsplitting pops which in my sleepy head were gunshots, so I awake all freaked out to find that people were lighting straight fireworks in the field right next to our house! Haha it was nuts, but we got a kick out of it.

As for the work, it's still a little slow because a lot of investigators are out of town or choose to do other rather worldly things this time of year, so we didn't have to many lessons going for us this week. Which means that we took the time to contact all of the old investigators in our area book, visit inactive members and do straight up contacting and door to door. It was the best use of our time, and we were rewarded to find a good mount of potential investigators and have some great lessons with inactive members. 

There was one point when we ran out of old investigators to go see, and the door to door was getting old and Elder Duncan and I got a little tired and were not too sure what we could do next to best use our time. Elder Duncan suggested that we say a prayer to ask where we needed to go or what needed to be done. So we did, and after finishing our prayer we start continuing down the street with our bikes, and a little distance away we stop at the first house we see. It felt right. We call out and are greeted by a woman who happens to be an old investigator who wasn't in our area book. We talk to her a little bit, and she asks us if we could help her teenage son who suffers from serious mental stress. We get to know the son and talk to him a little bit, and he agrees to receive a priesthood blessing. Once he's blessed, he tells us that he feels calm and relieved, and would like to have us over again next week. So we'll be going back over there to that family next week to see them. I can say that the Lord straight answered our prayer, and pretty much immediately, because it was a family that needed our help and could be prepared to receive the gospel. I'm grateful for that quick response, because other times they come a little later!

That's about all I'll include for this week, but we're ready for things to start picking up again and for investigators to come back to town. Here's some photos from our P-day hike today. Love you all, and happy new year!

Elder Ball