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