Welcome to the blog of Elder Redge Ballard!

Redge has gone from planning to fly to the Brazil MTC, to driving to the Provo MTC, to the Houston Texas Mission, and now finally he has arrived in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. We hope you'll enjoy following his adventures in sharing the restored Gospel to those he meets!



Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Yay for Christmas!!


The Relief Society in the ward ended up giving us literally 17.1 POUNDS of goodies. Chocolate, cookies, crackers... it's good stuff.

The 4 of us went carolling in the Brazilian sun :)

Last pday this was my attempt to remake the Ballard classic
 Christmas Eve/Tree Decorating dinner

Christmas lunch
Well, firstly my feelings about the call. So, was it just me or did this call go like 5 times faster than the one back in May? I about tripped out when I looked down and saw that 38 minutes had already passed... I feel super bad cuz I feel like I didn't get to talk to Dad and Mom as much as I wanted :( I don't know how that happened this time. Weird how 40 minutes can just come and go so quick. It's kinda funny how calls go like that, cuz I wait like all of December with that being the thing to look forward to, and then it comes and ends so fast that I sit there with that confused feeling of, Well... now what? Haha, I'm glad that we videod it though, it'll be fun to rewatch after the mission and stuff. I'm so happy that those videos all worked out and that you guys were able to watch them :) I forgot to ask you, did you guys watch them Christmas eve? And which ones were the favorites of everyone? Dad said the shower fixing one but I forgot to ask everyone else about the others :) Remember to back those up somewhere, cuz after I sent the flashdrive I didn't have anywhere to save them on my side, so someone pop them onto a harddrive or something please. I am so absolutely thrilled about all the news that you guys told me during the call though :) I can't get over the fact that Karen's pregnant!!! Seriously I was thinking about how epic of news that is, cuz it's gunna make all the siblings, uncles (crazy thinking how Brig's gunna be a super young uncle, 7 years old :D) And it's gunna make Mom and Dad GRANDPARENTS, and Grandma and Grandpa Bratsman, GREATgrandparents!!! Haha it makes me so excited... And obviously it'll be a while in the future, but when I someday get married and have kids, it'll start making that generation of cousins that'll all hang out at future reunions and stuff!! It's such a new concept to me but makes me so excited!! It's funny cuz now I'm beggining to realize why a lot of missionaries like having girlfriends on the mission, cuz I like want to share all this awesome news with people, but you guys are the only ones that I have to share news with :D Haha
  I'm amazed at how the kids are growing up. Tanner about blew me away, and I also couldn't believe how Nat is the age of the majority of my gal friends when I was a senior... And the voice shows that she's all grown up already haha. I can't even image how weird it'll all be to finally see everyone some day. These next 9 months are gunna make it even more weird. Crazy thinking about how Austin'll be in provo too! Cuz with the baby, I'll be the one who'll get to see him/her the most :D But, it'll also give the family more excuse to come down and visit us haha. Speaking of that, I'm gunna forward some of the emails from admissions and what not so that you guys can start helping me with all this BYU junk... sigh... I don't even wanna mess with all this :/ But, lets get it all figured out as fast as we can right?
  Well, as for the area here, the work is looking like it'll take an up turn. The work's been a little slow for the last while. With Christmas and new years it's been kinda hard to find people who are consistently at their houses and consistantly being able to be taught, but we found some really good receptive people that are showing a LOT of potential. The next transfer will be in the first of January, so I'm already a little antsy to know if I'll be getting yet aNOTHER comp or what... oh dear. I feel bad that I'm not having a whole lot to report recently... I dunno, I guess since I've been in this same area for 3 months, a lot of things are becoming kinda routine for me haha. The other day it rained so much that the river overflowed and covered like half of the lower part of the city. Not really covered, only like a foot and a half of water, but that was kinda an adventure :D I sure miss snow though, not gunna lie haha. There I go talking about weather though... pfft, how lame haha. But, all in all I'm really excited ever since that phone call. It's interesting how the Lord helps those calls not increase homesickness, but actually increase the desire to help other families. All 4 of us missionaries were all super pumper ever since the calls :D I'm so happy to hear that everyone's doing well. I hope that things keep going good, and hope that everyone has a happy new years! Crazy how it seems like last new year's just barely happened... 2012 how crazy. Love you all and thanks everyone for the Christmas letters and prayers!! Hurrah for Israel!!
   -Elder Redge Ballard

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas is here again oh Christmas is here again...

Well, I'll be really quick today, but we'll be talking on sunday so not a big deal :) This last week was interesting cuz last pday at 5:30 my comp woke up with a super bad mouth infection where he couldn't even talk, drink or eat :/ So we stayed inside the house for thursday and most of friday. Like Austin's said before, it's TERRIBLE staying inside the house as a missionary... UGH! It was kinda restful at first, but after about 3 hours I started going nuts. Luckily on friday it calmed down a little, he got a penicilin shot (remember when we got those Mom and Nat? Hahahaha) and on friday he was able to start eating soups and soft foods, and by saturday we were back in the field working away. Amazing how fast the recovery process works for missionaries :D
  Besides that, the weeks been really good. We found this family where the parents aren't married but the dad has already been going to the church for 6 months even without being baptized. They were having some major arguments and stuff, but after the whole family went to church, we went back to visit them and things were super super calm, the couple sitting really close and joking and laughing with each other, it was amazing :) Sorry to be so fast and short, but 2 o clock my time on Sunday, we'll finally be able to talk again!! I love Christmas, and the idea of having a Christmas call makes it even more exciting :) I'm gunna make a Christmas style lunch today, so next pday I'll send the pics of how it went. Love you all and hope everyone is having a very merry Christmas! Hope it snows soon as well haha. Hurrah for Israel!! Until Christmas :)
  -Elder Ballard

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Blessed with more baptisms, and Angels We Have Heard... down here?

Hello and welcome to the middle of December!!! Sheesh... I know I'm always talking about it but how is this year so close to being finished?! Everyone's talking about Christmas, and I think the fact that I was in the MTC last september until november made Christmas arrive a little slower or something, cuz being in Brazil and not having even the least bit of cold has tricked me into thinking that it wasn't gunna arrive or something, and man, here we are on the 14th of December already... crazy crazy crazy.
"We love you--Merry Christmas!"
This week was completely chuck full of blessings and truly had miracles happening. These last couple of weeks we've been working with 3 people. One couple is named Jair (Jzha-ear) (<-I dunno if american's can pronounce that all that well, ask Aust for pronuciation haha) who's about 70, is married to Zilvande (Zill-van-jzh) (<-Haha, hard name as well.) who's 58 or so. Anyways, they are actually the parents of my first bishop when I started out here in Brazil. A couple weeks back he gave the referral for us to go there and teach them. We started teaching them and they were hesitant to accept the baptismal date, but said that with them visiting and getting to know the doctrine better, and getting an answer from the Lord, they'd do it. Things were going well, but on like the 3rd visit, we arrived and they were already saying, "Ah, we used to watch our other religion on the TV, and I think we're just gunna stick with that one. Thanks for your help." Instead of just accepting that as an answer, using the Spirit we were able to explain to them the difference and importance of the church, and they at least agreed to continue recieving the messages. The next problem was that they smoked a TON. Seriously, between the two of them they were going through 6 packages of cigarettes per month. Each package has 10 packs, and each pack has 20 cigs. So, that comes out to about 1200 cigarettes PER MONTH!! AHH!!! What death!! So we explained about the world of wisdom, and they reluctantly agreed to "reduce" the amount they'd smoke. Jair was especially bad off, you could tell his lungs were already shot from years and years of smoking. Things started out really slow, they told us, "We have about 8 packs left, so we'll slow down, and when the cigs run out, we won't buy any more." Lame haha. But, amazingly one day, after not seeing them for about 3 days, we got there and Jair said, "Well, as of 2 days ago I haven't smoked anymore. I got sick of the idea of "letting them run out", grabbed the remaining 4 packs, tore up all the cigs, and tossed them out the window. I'm going crazy right now and my body is DYING to smoke more, but I'm done. I'm not gunna smoke more." Our jaws about dropped... The Spirit makes the most amazing changes ever. I always think I'm gunna explain a commandment perfectly and then they're gunna change or something, but it's ONLY the Spirit that can make these changes. 2 days later, Zilvande stopped smoking as well! It was incredible! Then we moved our focus on to baptism. We were reminding them every day and trying to get firm with them to just make the decision. My comp was trying to encourage them to just make the step and get baptized, when out of nowhere Jair exploded on us. "You guys are being WAY too persistant!!! I already changed my life and stopped smoking, and I already told you! I want to learn slow, and maybe in January or February I'll be at the point where I'll baptise." He stormed out of the room, and I about teared up. Seriously no one was expecting it at all. From there we continued a little bit more sensitively, and 2 days later, Jair who'd just been quietly listening to the lesson from the background came up and said, "Look, I need to apologize to you two. I've been really nervous from stopping with cigs, I wasn't having a good day, and I just need to you guys to forgive me for yelling and treating you guys like that the other day." Another jaw dropper... From that apology that he made, things have been smooth sailing, and this last sunday, Bishop Carlos came here to vespasiano and baptized his parents!!! Carlos's wife, daughter and neice (all members as well) were all able to watch, and it was a really special moment. I can't believe the changes that happen in these people over the course of just a few weeks. Definitely a blessing from the Lord, cuz seriously, I feel like we didn't do anything :)
Jair, Zilvande, and their son Bishop Carlos, like I said, he was excited :)













 The other person who got baptized is named Aline (Uh-lee-knee) and she's is just straight up elect. We took her brother to church, he came back and said how much he liked it, so the next week she asked to go to church with us. After going to church last week, we visited her and she said, "Alright, so I've been thinking... I want to be baptized. So, what do I need to do for that to happen?" Jaw dropper number 3 :) She was totally willing to live the commandments, and sunday she was also baptized. Incredible how prepared she was.

Aline



  Last miracle I wanted to talk about was something that happened last friday. We had an activity at the church that's basically the equivilant with mutual in the US, but it's with all age groups. We all got there, and us missionaries ended up taking 11 investigators, but just cuz of some problems with planning, at the first there was only 6 members :D Haha, I"ve never seen an activity outnumbered like that. Anyways, I was praying my heart out that it would be a good experience for them, and was praying like crazy for the Spirit to be there. Elder Cavalheiro had the idea to do a musical number between us 4 missionaries. Him and me have decent singing voices, but our 2 comps aren't exactly experienced in singing :) But, I decided it'd be cool to do. So the 4 of us went up there in the front, and sang "Angels We Have Heard on High" and a miracle happened. We started out a little weak, but I decided to just belt it out. I was doing parts to try and make it sound better, but out of nowhere the hymn started sounding really good. The other three we staying on tune VERY well, but then, I started hearing the other parts being sung... I just kept singing but kept wanting to look over and see who was doing the other parts... Then, I could have sworn that I started hearing way more than just 4 people singing. I asked the other missionaries afterwards, and they heard the same thing. But let me just translate the first line of the hymn from what it says in Portuguese, cuz it helped me understand what happened, "Angels descend and sing, peace on earth and glory to God." Wow... I couldn't belive it but I truly believe that we had some extra help with that hymn. I am amazed every day out here at how much the Lord is involved in the lives of every person out here in this world. I love this gospel and opportunity so much.
 Well, sorry to write such a massive email :D But, just know that things are great here, I love this work. Hope that the snow starts to fall soon and I'm looking forward to the chat here in less than 2 weeks!! Hurrah for Israel!!
  -Elder Ballard

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December? What the flapjack?! Christmas is on its way

There went november already... It's the weirdest thing now that I've been out for over a year cuz now I can read back in my journal at what I was doing, ex. back in Houston :D Weiiiird.
I cut the other 2 missionaries's hair today, as well as my own this week.

The apron had been lost in my suitcase, but it fulfilled
 its purpose on my "thanksgiving"


Man, people are putting up their one string of Christmas lights, and I even heard some Christmas music blasting the other day! It is so weird that 2011 is already in its last month.... And even crazier that Christmas is almost here. The weather here doesn't change all that much during the year, so I haven't felt like december would ever come. It's hot, humid, and rainy, so definitely not the tradition that I'm used to :) Really weird imagining how this is normal for the people of Brazil. I'm realizing lately that I am so grateful to have seasons. Idaho is awesome for that. Even though we have whacked out winters and all, it keeps things interesting, always.
 Well... this week wasn't very eventful. We found a family that is showing an amazing amount of potential, but for the moment I don't have a whole lot to share about them haha. This next week has a huge potential for people that can (and will haha) be baptized, and I'm just in a mood to work my tail off now. I've had like 8 weeks or so in this area, and I'm at that totally-accustomed mode where we're just working like crazy. I feel bad that this weeks letter's kinda a dud, but I promise that this next week'll be a lot better. Even though no huge miracles are happening, it's amazing how just the couple hours of study time that we have each day have amazingly big impacts on my testimony. I think that this has been one of the biggest blessings of my mission is that my testimony has moved from just "a cool thing to think about" to an absolute reality. It's been such an amazing experience learning for myself the reality of Joseph Smith, the First Vision, the Restoration, and especially the Plan of Salvation. I don't know how many of you have already experienced this, but having the Spirit testify to you of the reality of the Celestial Kingdom? Talk about motivation!!! This life is so great and the plan of the Lord for out salvation is even greater. I love being a missionary! I can't believe that someday this mission'll have an end... until then though, I'm just not gunna think about it and go to work :) Love you all!! Thank you for you love and prayers! I truly felt the power that they bring during this week. Hurrah for Israel!!! Hurraaah!!! - Elder Ballard

I decided I couldn't let thanksgiving pass just cuz I forgot, so I had a week late Thanksgiving feast. Gravy thanks to Aust's recipe, and I even had the luck of finding jelly!!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lows always lead to Highs! And a early Christmas Zone Conference!!!


The tables at the Conference, super exciting seeing high quality decorating like this, it's been a LONG time since I've seen this :)

This last week was super super interesting. I've been having a little bit of difficulty with taking as many people to church as I've been wanting, and the people that would get baptized have been running into a lot of problems as well. I've been super confused cuz I feel like I've been working really hard, we're teaching a lot, my companion is learning really fast and teaching really well, so I've just been confused up until now about why the results haven't been happening. Sunday was a difficult day, we had a 18 year old that was SUPER elect to be baptized, but as he was outside waiting for us to come get him and take him to church, his boss called him up and made him go to work :( He said he'd still be able to make it to sacrament meeting, but me calling every 20 mins or so and him not answering, he wasn't able to get out of work in time... It was a huge bummer cuz obviously he can be baptized this next week, but just from experience I've seen a lot of times that when someone isn't baptized on the original date that you mark, Satan puts EVERYTHING he's got into trying to stop that person from taking the step of being baptized. It's almost like the first time the investigator is always super super excited, but when something like this happens it takes a kick at their attitude and they kinda lose that original fire that they had. We're still working with him and I have total faith that he'll still be able to baptized this next week, but it's gunna be a fight for sure. But, that's what this work is all about.
  Anyways, sunday and the other days were pretty difficult, we've been running home to get there before 930, running in the rain, wind, sun, doing whatever it's needed to teach everyone we needed to and get all of our appointments done, but even with the hard work, nothing was happening. Luckily though, the first of this week was zone conference. Since we only have it every 3 months now, they did the Christmas one even though it's november. It was kinda weird having it all christmas-y this early, but it was such a welcome happiness :D It's amazing the Spirit that Christmas brings, because singing a Christmas hymn and just seeing all the decoration, I got the best pick up ever. After an amazing lunch and everything, we did a deal where each companionship would go in the front, say 2 things they liked about their comp, and then explain about the story of 1 of their baptisms from the month of November, and then stick the picture on a paper Christmas tree as a "gift" to the Lord. It was amazing seeing how even though we hear, "Yay! The mission baptized 160 people this month!" or whatever, that every single one of these people has a story. It was so cool to see how every missionary out here is having amazing experiences and stuff... So cool.


 I'd been praying really hard lately that the Lord could show me what I was missing in my work so that I could help more people be baptized, but hadn't been really getting my answer. As I was listening to the other companionships and the stories of the people that were baptized I started feeling a lot of promptings from the Spirit, and even though the words that I needed weren't being said, they were being felt. It was incredible. So with time I ended up learning exactly what I need to do, and I am SO excited for this next month of December!!  I learned and was reminded that the Lord and his Atonement apply for each and every one of us. I realized that with time I had ended up only teaching and showing this for other people, and just with the passing of time and the routine of being a missionary, it was almost like I had forgotten that this applies for ME as well. Even though I have the opportunity to be an instrument in the Lord's hands doesn't mean that passing on the Atonement for other people deprives me at all from It. I actually get to enjoy even more the blessings that it brings!! I know that the Lord loves each and every one of us, and seeing the stories of over 100 of his children that were found and returned just strengthened how I feel about all this. I love this work so much... Thanks for everything family and friends, hurrah for Israel!!!

 -- Elder Ballard


I finished making this plan of salvation diagram, turned out decent I thought

Elder Santana, my comp

I don't know how luck was so good to us, but by chance the day we had conference all 5 of us MTC groupers were in the same meeting!!! It was SO good seeing them again.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Stuck in an elevator, Rain hasn't let up, and meet yet another one! ...And it's thanksgiving? Oh...

For crying out loud, I am so grateful that Idaho doesn't have so much rain like it does here haha :D

Elder Santana, comp #SIXTEEN!

Well, this week's been a rainy one. The weather here is kinda crazy cuz you can wake up to sunny blue skies, leave the house without an umbrella, and by 6 that night the rain is coming down in buckets :) Reminds me a little bit of the crazy days that Rexburg has but with snowing while it's sunny and all that. I can't lie, I really miss the cold. Other than weather this week has been awesome. We had a really good sunday, we brought 4 people to church and they were very very prepared to go, they all loved it and if all continues going well, we should have 2 or 3 people that will baptize this weekend! I'm praying and working so hard cuz they are super special people. Well, monday was yet again the end of another transfer, and as ridiculous as it is, my companion was transfered out haha... So, as of today I am with yet another companion, Elder Santana. He's from the northwestern part of Brazil, and he seems like he's gunna be a really good missionary. I don't even know what to think really, but man, I don't think it's all that normal to swap companions so often haha. Oh well though, like i did with the last one, guess I'll just go with it.
  Yesterday was a funny experience. Me and Elder Cavalheiro went to the airport (it's like 15 mins from our area) to get the newly arrived missionaries. There were 9 new elders and 2 new sisters. We took that back into Belo Horizonte, took them to President's house to eat lunch, (Sister Parrella already has their whole house decked out with Christmas decorations :D weird eh?) and then headed back to the office. The office here is in a skyscraper building, and the office is on the 10th floor. So, we were taking the elevator, and being excited missionaries, we thought it'd be smart to put all 11 of us elders in the same elevator. Luckily the 2 sisters had already gone up by themselves. So, we all got in like sardines, the doors shut, and then... The elevator jolted, did like a 'tried-to-pull-upward' motion, went down a little bit, and then continued to sink lower and lower.... With that the doors locked, and we were trapped. Think of that, 11 19-23 year old men in a 10x12 foot elevator, half of them wearing suits... Yeah... we tried prying the doors open, the door watcher guy tried cutting the power, we tried saying a prayer, but all in all, we were stuck in there for about 25 minutes... Haha, it was insane. I'm already used to crazy happenings so I just say there in the back corner fanning myself, but all the new elders started freaking out, "It's SOOO HOOOTT!!!!' "I'm sick... help! We need water!!!" "Someone call the fire department!" Wow, besides the heat and sweatiness, it was SO funny from my point of view. After about 15 minutes, the perspiration and 11 sets of lungs going made it so humid that the walls started to "sweat" as well, and only 1 elder who was at the front was about to open the doors about 3 inches and breath fresh air. Finally someone called a repairman and he simply pressed a button and opened it up without any problems. When we got out we found out that we'd sank like 2 feet under ground level, it was hilarious. I'll try and get the video from my new comp so that I can show how it was :)
  Well, other than that it's been a pretty normal week. I'm learning a lot through trials as well as blessings, and am really excited for these next coming days. It's weird realizing that it's thanksgivinig (I realized just now when I opened my email haha) cuz time just flies by. I'm kinda tripping out that december is almost here as well, we're already marking dates for people for the 4th, so it's really setting in fast how quick this year has gone and how many crazy and amazing experiences I've had. Thanks for everything family and friends, I'm so grateful for your love and support. I hope all you have a good thanksgiving break, miss you all but I love this work. Hurrah for Israel!!!
  -Elder Ballard


Heading to transfers
My trainer Elder Fernandes finally ended his mission today :( Kinda a sad feeling seeing them finish... He sure did an awesome work though.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rains came a tumblin' down, along with a good old cold :P

Done with another week already... time's slipping through the fingers honestly. The rainy season's hitting hard now, but at least it's cooling the scorching brazilian sun down a little bit.

Like I said, the rains came down. And stayed inside my shoes haha

   This week has been pretty usual for me. Lot of rain, I got a pretty bad cold that I'm finally recovering from, but luckily the Lord never ceases to bless me with happiness and enjoyment in the work, rain or shine :) The other day we headed out with sunshine and everything, but when we arrived at 9 that night, it was raining SUPER bad, and I'd forgotten my umbrella. So, we walked about 15 minutes to our house in mid-shin depth running water, and even being drenched and cold, I couldn't stop laughing. I think this was the first time my comp has passed through something like this on the mission, but he was smart and even with sunshine always leaves with an umbrella :) But it was just so funny to me for some reason, imagining what the other people on the street or in their cars were thinking. Two guys in social pants and shoes, shirt and tie, one of them without an umbrella, and the two of us still smiling and shouting "Good evening!!!" to everyone we passed. Haha, such a great work. Even having a cold as well, the sickness hasn't even bothered me. Yeah I have a dumb runny nose and I'm all congested, but we just keep on working and teaching and we just forget about it. It's amazing the amount of strength and power the Lord grants us missionaries.
   This last saturday we found an amazingly prepared couple. They aren't married legally so it'll take a little while before they'll be baptized, but holy cow, talk about prepared. We found out the Jorge (pronounced George, but the g at the first makes a jshz sound (Haha, Aust can explain that sound to you guys)) who is a truck driver, had randomly found a Book of Mormon about a year ago when he was travelling across the country when he had a tire problem. He stopped in a little run down tire shop, and as they were fixing his semi, he saw a book shoved into a hole where the wall meets with the ceiling, pulled it out and found a Book of Mormon. He read a little and thought it was weird, but had always been curious about what it was or what it meant. So as we explained it to him and explained the invite that Moroni makes, saying that he needed to read, ponder, and pray, he said, "Sure I'll do this, but I already know it's a true book! Look at all these signs I've had in the last year!!!" It was truly humbling to see how much the Lord had already worked with them. Just as amazing, there at church, their very first time, Jorge's wife, Helena, signed up to recieve the Liahona for the next THREE YEARS! The very first time of her even hearing about it and she already signed on!!! They've already said, "I can tell you, this is the church where we'll be married, and it's where we'll be baptized." Now I'm just praying that I can stay in this area long enough to see them be married and baptized. Absolutely amazing how elect some of these people are isn't it? I think this shows me how even with billions of people on earth, God is intimately involved in every one of our lives, and if we pay more attention, I think we'll all begin to realized how we're part of something way bigger than we thought. I love this plan that God had, I love this Gospel. I love my mission, it blows me away that a year ago I was already in the field in Texas... Man, I don't even know what to do with the way time is passing. This church is true everyone, and the Lord did die and suffer for everything that we pass through. Miss and love you all! Hurrah for Israel!!!

  -Elder Ballard

Monday, November 7, 2011

Another companion, another baptism, and another package!

Never ceases to amaze me how unpredictable this mission is... haha I got yet another new companion this last week. What an adventure :P

Well, last thursday we were taken off guard by a call from President saying that the mission got even more latin americans, and now we have 4 missionaries in our area. Elder Cavalheiro is now training a missionary from Uruguay, and I am training Elder Gonzales from Bolivia. They both speak portugues good already, but it's weird swapping companions around so often like this. Guess which number E. Gonzales is? 10th? Nah. 13th? Nope. 15th? You got it. Haha, I don't think i've ever heard of a missionary having so many comps... I don't even have 14 months and already have 15 comps! Adventure isn't it?

  Now I want to talk a little bit about Wellington.




When we first got to this area, we ate lunch at a sister's house, and found out the Wellington wasn't a member. He was there and was really closed and didn't really talk with us very much. He's known about the church for about 8 years, and for the 8 years every month or so he'll go to church simply to gratify his wife. We invited him to go to church that week, and he went. That week happened to be the Primary Presentation sacrament meeting, and his two kids (one's 5 and the other's 6) participated. He said that he really liked it all and felt the spirit a lot. We went back there during the week and he was TOTALLY different. WAY more open and receptive, accepting parts in the Book of Mormon to read at his work, doing his prayers, stopped drinking coffee, it was amazing. We asked him what happened to change him so much and he simply said that seeing his kids and the other primary children singing about the gospel, reciting scriptures, and showing all that they learned really touched him and made him realized that, if his kids were learning so much about the gospel, how much more could he, being the dad of the family, learn being a member of the church. It was amazing how something as simple as a primary presentation could have such a huge effect on him. We tried to mark a baptismal date with him, and even though he was much more receptive, he said he needed more time. We kept going back there and time after time he was just more and more open, until finally, not this monday but the one before, he agreed that "now was his time." So last friday we went to BH, got our new companions, came back to the area, and took them to the baptismal service of Wellington. Man, this was by far the most special baptismal service I've seen on my mission up until now... About 25 or 30 members came to watch and support, the meeting was really well planned and the messages were perfect for him. The primary kids sang the "I love to look for Rainbows" song (in Portugues obviously :P ) and Wellington even cried a little the spirit was so strong. The bishop that was released 2 weeks ago was the one who baptized him, and the Spirit was incredible. The highlight of it all was at the very end where the ward mission leader invited Wellington's wife Gleysielle to bear her testimony. She then explained how 3 years earlier she had made a personal goal with the Lord that in the next 5 years she wanted the whole family to be member of the church, and be sealed in the temple. She then tearfully explained how even with a goal of 5 years the Lord had been merciful enough to make the first step happen in just 3, and the certainty she used when talking about how here in a year they will go to the temple was amazing. It was so touching just seeing her look at her husband, the two of them crying, and just realizing that finally this family was on its way to being eternal!! Man... I can't even explain how amazing the experience was. The best feeling was when Wellington came and talked to us, told us how tons and tons of other missionaries had passed in his house, tried to teach him, etc. but that he had felt something different with us, and just simply said how grateful he was. I know that it wasn't us that did it, it was the Lord and the Spirit that made the difference. All I can say though is I am so grateful to be an instrument in the Lord's hands. It is such a blessing to be able to watch the changes that happen in these peoples lives, and to see a family finally after 8 years, start it's journy toward the temple.
  I learned (and am still learning) so much from this experience. I am SO grateful to have a family that is sealed in the temple... I am so grateful for that truth that we have that we know what we need to do to actually be a family forever. I am so grateful to be a missionary. We've had a lot of trials and difficulties in the path up until now, and I know that we will still have a TON more, but seriously, it is all absolutely worth. I love this gospel with all my heart, I am so grateful for Christ's sacrifice and for the sacrament. My testimony is growing so much every day, and I just simply love this work. Thank you all for all you do, prayers, letters, even just thoughts :) I always say thanks for this but really, it is so appreciated. Hurrah for Israel!!! Hurrah hurrah hurrah!!!

   -Elder Ballard
We ate at a rich members house and man... I miss cupboards filled with stuff like Aunt Jemima buttermilk pancake mix, Betty Crocker frosting, and Kitkats :D haha

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New Bishop! Crazy Training week, Halloween and early Christmas presents haha :)

'Appy 'Alloween this last week! Just as you said Mom, yes it was lame, but that's alright, halloween never was the best holliday in my opinion :) As a kid, blast and a half, but now being an old 20 year old... just one more day on the mish.



  Well, this week has been super super crazy. We've been running around a lot cuz this past week has had 3 trainings... The first one was on last pday (kinda lame, but it was worth it), one on monday, and one yesterday. I sure enjoy hearing from President, he is such an inspired man. We also received a new missionary couple into the mission yesterday, and they are from Boise! Sister and Brother Gooding (if I remember right) and I think he served a mission here way way back, and she's learning portugues for the first time. Aust, you better start teaching Karen portugues now so that she'll be set to serve in brazil here in 40 or 50 years :D We also at this point have recieved missionaries from like all over the world really. Elders from Chili, Bolivia, Uruguay, Agentina, and even a Sister from Portugal. It's awesome having people from all over like that all doing the same work, really brings a cool feeling of unity.
  Last sunday, our old bishop was released and we got a new one, and it was crazy remembering way back to when Dad was called as bishop. This new bishop is SO young, I think he got back from his mission like 3 years ago, and only has a 2 year old, so he's probably 25 at the maximum. He's an awesome guy, and I'm excited to see how he does, cuz seriously, SO young. How old was Dayne when he was called as bishop? Anyways, it was kinda interesting cuz the old bishop was being put into a different ward cuz of some boundary changes, and he's been bishop for the last 2 years or so, and so like half of the ward was bawling when he was released. It was really touching though cuz the family of the old bishop (he has kids that are like 14, 9, and 6 or so) was all crying really hard and members would like get up, even though the meeting was still going on, and sit next to them and hug and cry and stuff. I think the church being smaller here lets the church be a lot more like a family. Obviously in the US it's a family as well, just in a different way. But it was really touching seeing how all these people have SO much love for one another. I'm excited about this new bishop though, it's gunna be great working with him.
  So I did another division this last week, and went to another area in Belo Horizonte. We had lunch there with this SUPER rich lady, and it was a way interesting experience. She says that her husband does something with the government about foreign affairs, so he takes a plane every single day to all over the world, so it's like me taking a bus here, except that it's a plane haha. We ate lunch in "one" of her houses, she says she's got like 7 or 8 all over brazil. In her house it reminded me a lot of Grandma and Grandpa Bratsman's house, cuz it had like a pot from China, and statue from India, a thing from Russia, etc. I remember how Grandma and Grandpa's house always had cool little trinkets from other countries on top of their tv or cupboards. Anyways, as we were leaving, I guess she liked me cuz she was like, "Here, I have a present for you." went in the other room, and came back with none other than a jar of PEANUT BUTTER!!! She said that her husband always brings a ton of it home every time he travels, and that I could have my own jar!!! I was absolutely stunned and thrilled haha, I've missed peanut butter so much. I was so lucky with the day I did that division :P







  Halloween on monday was a training, but i did fest-it-up a little bit with following Austin's example and making little jack-o-lanterns out of passion fruit. I also dressed up as a normal person with glasses (inside the house at the end of the day of course) and then ate pancakes with peanut butter and maple syrup. It wasn't THAT different of a day, but in comparison with the other days on the mish, it was decent :) I also wore an orange tie to top it off.. pfft haha.
  This next week has some awesome potential with a few people that went to church last week, I'm really excited for them and they are progressing wonderfully. I'll have a full report about them next week, but just keep them in your prayers and I know the Lord will help them enter in the gate of baptism as Mom said. Their names are Wellington and Enia (pronounced just like the Enya singer) I love this gospel and I love Brazil... This time is so amazing, and I feel like I'm growing a ton. Some days are hard, but the ends of the days when I just think about all the good things that happened, it's all worth it. Never forget that everything we pass through, IF we keep strong to the iron rod and the gospel, will be worth it in the end. Hurrah for israel!!!
  Elder Ballard


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Divisions, little bit o' difficulties, but learning a LOT

Dang, such good emails this week, thank you all a ton :) Lotta laughs and feel-gooders.

Aust--Question about Bahia for ya, did you have an época during the year when there was randomly MASSIVE numbers of these big flying ants everywhere? Here they're called tanajuras, but my comp says they even eat them in the Nordeste. Weird though cuz literally every 3 steps I'd step on one... really odd. 


 Alrighty, not a whole lot to report this week. I went on a division and ended up with my recent buddy Elder Cancino again! Ha, he's already speaking portugues better and it was fun seeing how he's growing. We've been having a little bit of difficulty here in our area, but it's helped me learn a few lessons that I wouldn't have otherwise learned, so I'm glad the Lord thinks I'm worth the trouble to send a little bit of trials my way :) I realized this week a lot about how the Lord's way is the only way. Not only as a missionary but with how we live life. My comp and I were having a little bit of a period where we were trying to teach using our own intelligence and knowledge of the scriptures, and without realizing it we ended up simply basing the lessons off of our own strength, AKA never works out here. The Lord didn't interfere obviously, He just kinda let us do our thing and learn for ourselves, and a family we'd been teaching ended up not wanting to go to church to be baptized, another family we had been teaching had a pastor from a different church tell them a load of junk about the Book of Mormon, and it was just a wake up call for us that we can't do this by ourselves. We were doing ok on some things, but had just kind of let ourselves slide into some dumb habits that weren't asking or letting the Lord help us very much. So to make a long story short, we've been humbled and we are now praying, fasting, doing everything we should be, and I am totally certain that it will bring about the results the Lord wants. I've learned as well that we can't ever worry about what will go wrong or what could prevent something from happening because when the Lord asks us to do something or when He makes a promise in the scriptures, our patriarchal blessing, or whatever it might be, we need to just go and do what He asks, without doubt, without fear, without question. Sorry the email was kinda rushed and short today, but I'm doing fine here. I'm excited, I'm healthy (thank heavens haha) and I'm so happy and grateful to do this work. I love the Lord and this Gospel! Hurrah for Israel!!!
 -Elder Ballard

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Water week - falling from the sky, filling the font :) and going through a filter to be drunken

Not cool that it's been two weeks since I've written :( Last pday we got to our area really late and it was also a brazilian holiday so no lan houses were open to send email... Lame wasn't it?




Whew, annoying when I get backed up on emails like this, but I'll try to type my fastest possible haha. So, sunday (the 9th) was a huge miracle. We'd been teaching a family of 4 (grandma, daughter, and two grandchildren) and things were going great until the baptismal interviews. When the grandma, Maria, came out, she said she still had a few problems, and everyone else had been relying on her. If she would baptise, they would too, type deal. So we went back there to their house later that day, fasting and praying non-stop, and tryed to help her resolve her doubts. Nothing seemed to be working and finally the Spirit popped a promise into my head. Instead of just blurting it out, I looked at my comp, and Elder Cancino proceeded to make the exact promise that I had had in my head. We promised her that if she baptized the next day, her health problems would heal, and her entire household would be blessed. She went from being completely worried and anxious and making excuses, to a huge change of heart where the Spirit left her completely calm and peaceful about the decision. The next day proceeded to be the best sunday of my mission. We got to church, and Rui and Fernando were both confirmed. Then, Yago proceeded to receive the Aaronic Priesthood, and his mom Helena recieve a calling as the young women's 1st counselor. I was blown away with gratitude to see all these people staying so firm in the gospel, even with only these few weeks as members. If all this wasn't good enough, after church, Maria, Odete, Vitória, and Fabiano were all baptized. It was such a sweet spirit there seeing 4 people (6 counting us) dressed in white, it actually brought back memories of being inside the temple. It was so amazing... I am so grateful for the change of heart that the Spirit can bring about. What a blessing to be a tool in God's hands.
  The next week I was transferred yet again for a city called Vespaziano (veh-spa-zee-ann-oh) with my new companion Elder Cavalheiro (translated means gentleman haha) and he's awesome. It was honestly very hard leaving Curvelo, I developed a love for that branch and those people so quickly, it was hard to just get up and leave all of the sudden like we did. Anyways, Elder Cavalheiro is from Curitiba (look up that temple on the church's site, it's a spitting image of the Rexburg one) and has 8 or 9 months on the mission .  We've been able to work really well together so far. Our teaching has meshed perfectly and this next sunday should be great. As people we're basically total opposites, but as a companionship we amazing work great together. The ward here is really strong, and I'm loving this city. Our area is one of the biggest on the mission cuz it covers about 3 or 4 cities, Vespasiano, Lagoa Santa (Sacred Lake) Morro Alto (High Hill) and a few others. It's a TON of people to take care of, but we are super excited to work together and things are going great.


  Sorry to be so brief on the email, but everything is going great here. I love the area, my companion and I are doing great, the only problems is that it's hitting the rainy season which I hate, cuz even with rain it's super hot and a sweat like a cloud. And the water here is TERRIBLE, so we always have to filter the water or buy mineral water. Oh well though, I love this adventure regardless of the difficulties :) I love this Gospel, every day I see changes in other people as well as myself. Thanks for you prayers and support! Hurrah for Israel!!!
 =-Elder Ballard -


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Conference miracles, and longest busride of my mission

Another General Conference already came and gone... Man that goes fast. The thing I can't believe is that I only have 1 more conference on my mission!! AHH!! How can that be?!
.
It's been raining again here (i think it's been a good 6 months since I last saw rain) and it's getting humid again... bleck. I don't and never will do good with humidity.


   Well, this week of conference was great. We had about 20 people to take to conference, and cuz of complications and, as we say in this mission, moleza (pronounced mow-lay-zah, it means more or less laziness or softness) only about 12 or 13 people went. Classic "walk 40 minutes to someones house to walk with them to church, just to find out they travelled to another city"-type situations :D haha. The sessions were awesome. Like you said Mom, Elder Hales really must be going through hard stuff cuz I didn't even recognize him when it was his turn... man. Amazing how even being sick like that how their spirit stays so strong to still teach with so much power. In this mission, you have to have investigators to watch a session, and when the afternoon session on saturday came, the people who said they'd come ended up having excuses. So, we left in the street, knocking people's doors and talking with people and inviting them to go to the church and hear the words of a prophet. We did that for about an hour and finally decided to just head back to normal missionary work. Right as we finished we got a call from the church saying the a guy had showed up for conference, so we were able to return and finish the session :) It was something really simple but really important for us, it was awesome.

  Sunday we were blessed with the baptism of Fernando, another young man from the same part of town as the other 4 converts. That place is doing awesome. We're just trying now to get the rest of the members in these families excited so they can join the church as well.. We'll see what happens!

  Yesterday I had the longest busride of my mission. You can tell that I ride the bus a lot here cuz I feel like I'm always telling about stories of crazy travels and stuff haha. Anyways, we left the house at 3:30 AM (woke up at 2:45) to go to a meeting in BH, and left BH that night at 6:15. Usually we'd get back at like 9 or so, but there was an accident in the highway, and as I'm sitting there trying to get some sleep, my alarm on my phone goes off. Yup, at 2:45 am the next day we were still on the bus haha. we FINALLY pulled into curvelo at 3:15 am, a total of 9 hours on that stupid bus. Haha... so crazy. I'm never gunna wanna ride a bus again after my mission :D

 Well, the missions going really good. I feel like I'm learning TONS of stuff every day, and it still amazes me how fast time is passing and how much stuff is happening. I am so grateful that we were all able to hear the words of our Prophet and Apostles, what a blessing that is. I know this church is true and that our Saviour loves every one of us, member of the church or not :) Hurrah for Israel!!!

   -Elder Ballard


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Training a Chileno! Miracle chain in Curvelo, amazing, and a new phase in my mission

Boy oh boy.. this past week has been incredible. It's funny how I feel like I'm always talking about miracles, but even though they happen a lot on the mission, I just never get "used" to it :) 

   Well, last thursday I got to go to the airport again and I ended up with a new comp! His name is Elder Cancino (Can-see-no) and he's from a city called Talca in Chili. He speaks suprisingly good portugues which is a miracle cuz teaching someone a language that you yourself learned is kinda interesting. I feel bad though when he's trying to explain a word and we have absolutely NO way of figuring it out haha. He's really excited and has an amazing amount of faith. I love training or working with newer elders because they always have so much faith... I find that just from all the difficult experiences I've passed through tends to weaken a little bit of that certainty that you start out with. Definitely something I'm trying to get better with.

  One little funny that I wanted to share, 2 days ago my comp asked me if the showers here had hot water. The shower heads here are the kind that have wires going into them, and they take a little while to heat up. Anyways, I explained for him how they work, and then he took his shower. About 5 or 10 minutes later he walked out and explained that the whole shower head and pipe (I'll have to show everyone a film where I explain the situation) had broken off of the wall :D So now we don't have anymore hot showers, and I ended up breaking apart on old broken washing machine (hardly a washing machine, it's called a taquina, Aust should know what I'm talking about) and using the drain hose to just shove into the shower "hole" in the wall :) So now it's cold showers from now on. Not a big  deal really with how hot it is here... Flip.

  Anyway, we came back from the airport, and arrived in our area at like 7:45, and just had time to teach one lesson. Amazingly enough, in just that one lesson we marked baptismal dates with a mom and her two sons (ages 16 and 18). I can't think of a better way for a missionary to start his mission in the field :D The Lord sure blesses when you try your hardest and have the faith that He can and will bless you. Sunday that family had some complications and couldn't make it to church, but the Lord blessed us with some other awesome people who went to church as well. Our recent convert Ygor invited a friend to church who loved it. He's only 11 years old so we're working now to get his mom, sister, grandma, and cousin to go to conference so that all of them can be baptized together. Man it'd be an amazing baptismal service :) On top of this, about 20 minutes into sacrament meeting, a member that was baptized like 15 years ago, but it slowly coming back into activity in the church, walked in with about 8 other people. I wish I could have seen my face, cuz when a family of a mom and dad and kids walk in to church, all wearing jeans, tank tops, etc. a missonary REALLY gets excited :D We found out that about 5 of them were a mom and dad and 3 daughters who are neighbors of this less active member, and the other 3 were his wife who's not a member, and his 2 kids who aren't members either. It's astounding the way the Lord works... It's totally mysterious but marvelous at the same time. We passed by their house later that day and they excitedly accepted to be baptized, but just need to be legally married first; a process that takes about 45 days sadly.

   This family as well as Ygor's friend stayed there at the church as well to see the baptism of Rui, and man... probably one of the most spiritual baptisms on my mission. With these last few people who've been baptized, the branch is being SO acceptive of them and it's amazing how much of a difference it makes. Everyone giving Rui a hug and him just beaming with joy... Later this week he's had a few questions about serving a mission (he will turn 17 in december). Absolutely indescribable when a recent convert has those questions. Then these last few days we've just been having miracle after miracle, and this next weekend is going to be amazing. An investigator has to go to church 1 time before the sunday that they'll be baptized, and general conference can count as this for whichever of the 4 sessions, the 9th of october is going to be amazing :) I simply can't believe how much the Lord does in this work, I'm absolutely worthless without the Lord's help, but when we're obedient and truly go to work, these miracles are undescribable. I love this work so much. I'm so grateful for ward and branches and good members that help one another and help these new people become a part of God's family. I hope that I can be that kind of member after the mission, cuz it makes an amazing difference. This Church is true, and nothing, absolutely nothing, will get in the way of this work from going forth witht total force and strength. I love being a missionary :) I can't think of (and truly believe that there doesn't exist) anything so worth it. Love you all! Hurrah for Israel!!!
  -Elder Ballard

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Blessed with another Baptism!! And yet ANOTHER change is in the works...

Swell week here in Curvelo! We've been working a lot, and the Lord blessed us with another convert baptism!
Well, I'll start off with some interesting happenings from this week. Hitting the 1 year mark I realized that my shampoo, deodorant, and hair gel stuff, are finally running out after an entire year on the mission :D Suprizing isn't it? I had a ridiculous salad the other day at a member's lunch. Mom'll probably remember how I don't really like the weird salads with mandarin oranges and almonds and stuff, but this salad took the cake. The vegetable part was yellow and red peppers, tomatoes, cooked pumpkins, cucumber, no lettuce, and then the fruit part was kiwis, grapes, strawberries, raisins, and mango. What the? The problem was the veggie taste mixed with the fruityness and it turned into this weird... man i can't even explain it. Yuck is all I can say haha.

  Alrighty, well this past week Yago (Helena's son and Ygor's brother) had been progressing wonderfully. He's already read a lot in the Book of Mormon, as well as all of the Strength of Youth. Him and his family, as well as another neighboor named Rui (Like donald duck's nephew, hooey (how in the heck is that spelled in english?)) all woke up at like 4:30 in the morning and all went to Sete Lagoas for Stake Conference. Everyone enjoyed it and the busrides to and from were awesome with all the members. We got back into curvelo and then that night Yago was baptized!!! It was so cool cuz his mom did the opening prayer for the baptismal meeting, and it was so beautiful seeing a mom pray with so much power that her and her two sons could stay firm in the church. Such a blessing... I absolutely adore helping out families. Now we're just trying to work on the rest of Rui's family... his parents need to get married but we'll see how it all goes.

  Yesterday we had a talk with President and it looks like this friday we'll get like 6 new missionaries from Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, or something like that, and it looks like Elder Gaertner is going to split and go with one of them, and then one of them will come here to Curvelo with me. So, looks like yet another companion already! So crazy haha. we'll see how it goes cuz it'll be me, an english speaker, and him, a spanish speaker, using portugues (which is both of our second languages) to try and communicate :D What an adventure haha.

Yago's baptism
  Well, these last months or so I've been having a really interesting experience, where I've been feeling like I've been experiencing that thing in the bible that talks about "Him who loses his life for My sake shall find it" or something to that effect. I feel like lately we've been focusing in so much, that it's almost like I've been losing my other life. I think about memories from high school or of friends from before the mission, and it literally doesn't feel like it was me, Redge Ballard, back in that life. And then I imagine what after the mission is going to be like, and it just doesn't work :D It's such a weird feeling, but I feel so much trust and confidence that if I continue to do this more and more... the Lord will put everything in place so that after the mission I will "find the life" that I've seemed to lose already. It's such an abstract feeling, but I'm finding that this year mark hitting so fast has kinda made me realize that I don't exactly have all that much time to serve in this form. I've been trying to learn what the Lord really wants me to do with the work, and piece by piece I feel like I'm learning a little bit. Whew... I love this mission :)

  To finish out, I found a really cool quote that has totally changed the way I pray, and I've translated it from Portugues so it's not word for word. This was by Spencer W Kimball (if I'm remembering right...) "If we don't forget to pray, God won't forget about us. He doesn't leave us, if we don't leave Him. Why then, do men fall away? Why do they lose faith? Because they leave the straight and narrow, neglect their duties, and forget to pray and remember the Lord. This cause Him to remove His spirit, and men are left in darkness... This will not happen to the man that prays in the morning, at noon-day, and at night; who humbles himself before the Lord, and prays to the Lord in his prosperity as well as in his adversity. This man will never fall away." Whoosh, what power. I hope that all of us can pray like the Prophet says here. I've noticed a huge difference in my prayers as I've tried to pray like this, and I know that God does hear and listen to our prayers. Thank you all for all you do! Your prayers truly are felt in my behalf. Hurrah for Israel!!!

- The other day we were walking down the street and found this weird fruit. Green on the outside, with white fruit and black seeds on the inside. It stunk so we didn't eat it, but then later we washed our hands, and what was clear and sticky from the fruit turned into a blackish-blue stain that is finally fading today (5 days later haha) Fruits here are crazy :D

Saturday, September 17, 2011

What the year... It CANT be !!? Blessed with 2 baptisms!!

biggest honkin' cold sore ever

Well, I burned a little time reading all the letters today (not a bad thing haha) so I'll just tell about this week really fast. This past week has been great cuz it was SOLID work. We didn't have to go to BH at all so it's just been straight up teaching. We've been getting like 5 or 6 lessons per day in, so it's been a blessing. The Lord blessed us with the baptisms of Helena and Ygor that I talked about last week, and man was it great. I look back to that night when we found them and it's so cool how the Lord guided us and had them be so elect. Helena's other son Yago (ee-ah-go) that doesn't live with them also came to watch the baptism, and he is absolutely excited for his baptism this next week. We have stake conference in 7 lagoas this sunday so we have to leave on a church bus (it'll just be members and investigators) at 5:45 on sunday morning, so it'll be a test of faith of all the people that said they'd go to church.

  One other thing that I thought I'd talk about is the weather. Last sunday was probably the hottest day I've had on my mission. I don't know absolutely for sure, but pretty sure it got up to about 44 degrees celsius, which is something like 110 F... it was a scorcher. Even though I had my nose cauterized 8 months ago, I've been getting bloody noses again haha. It's crazy cuz Curvelo's only like 2 or 3 hours more north than my other areas I've been in but it's SO hot up here, crazy stuff. We'll see if I stay here for a long time, cuz september isn't even close to being summer here. If I stick around here until december or something, good luck to me haha.

 Well, the work is going really well here, and I've been focusing a lot of strengthening my faith, and my confidence in the Lord is growing every day. I love so much being a missionary. I can't believe that I hit a year today (or maybe it's tomorrow, don't know how it works haha) and I can't even imagine how time is gunna keep flying. Thanks for everything you all do, this church is so wonderful. It is so true!! Oh yeah, I was talking to Elder Helsten the other day, and he told me that while he's been on the mission his parents got divorced. He says that the fault of his dad was simply that he wasn't reading his scriptures every day. His dad is the son-in-law of Elder Nelson...  So I just wanted to give a little word of, I dunno if the word is warning, but just keep on reading and praying EVERY day. No one is exempt to the bad influences that are out there, but I know that doing the simple things every single one of us will stay firm and strong in the gospel. Hurrah for Israel!!!

  -Elder Ballard 

Helena and Ygor!