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!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Last letter from the MTC

Hello Family!!
Holy moley it's finally here... my last Pday in the MTC. This has been the weirdest feeling for me. The first of this week was crazy because waiting for a reassignment has been like waiting to receive my call all over again! The whole district got called down into the Travel Office and they just read all our assignments to us off of a sheet, so it wasn't quite as exciting as my call, but still gave me a rapid heart rate for about 45 minutes :) Houston Texas!! Man how crazy is that! I know it's not the one that Grandma and Grandpa and Darin and Holley live in but still just the fact that it's the same city is crazy to me!! I am SO excited to go there! I've heard rumors that the part we might be in is prodominently spanish speaking... so that scares the heck outta me, but either way I am so excited. I can't speak any spanish but at least I can understand it cuz of Portugese :) It's been such a wierd feeling this week to realize that my schedule for the last 8 weeks is finally going to be cracked and I'll finally be able to start living in the real world again! It's going to be so crazy to actually be considered "special." I remember whenever we'd see missionaries in Rexburg we'd wave and honk and everything, and when you're in the MTC everyone is a missionary so it kinda makes you feel like you're just a normal person. But now, the minute I get off the shuttle to the airport in Salt Lake, EVERYONE is going to be watching me and wondering who I am. I've been praying like crazy to be ready for whoever I'll meet or sit by on the plane or whatever I end up doing, and it has amazed me how much the Spirit and the Lord has helped me learn in preparation for this experience... I'm a little nervous of course but my excitement is completely outweighing any other feelings of being nervous or anything. AH!!! I can't believe my REAL mission is only like 4 days away!!
Alright, I need to hurry and do some replyings before I continue much more. For Aust - It's been snowing here a little bit, not a ton but funny to watch the Elders from New Mexico and California and Sister Hammaker from Texas enjoy even a little bit so much. I'll prolly miss the snow on Christmas I'm assuming, but I don't think it'll be a big deal or anything. I canNOT beleive you're getting married in 40 days!!! I've been out here for like 58 i think... that is outrageous!! SO excited for you two though!! Your metaphor of the mission being a hill was really cool, I read it to my district and everyone else agreed. 22 fast sundays?! AH! That is so insane! I can't believe time out here... Good heavens. laugh about the dream :) SO weird to see her as Taylor Hymas now! What the crazy! To Grandma and Grandpa - I am so excited to be serving in Houston! I don't know how long I'll be there of course because of my visa uncertainty, but that makes me so glad that I'll be able to attend the temple if I'm there long enough, how exciting. Also, can someone specifically tell aunt Denae thank you? She sent me cupcakes a couple weeks ago and it didn't have an address or anything, but just make sure she knows we all split them in the district and loved them :)
Well, this last week totally topped things off with (can you believe it) apostle number 4!!!! Elder Bednar!!!! What are the chances!!! I found out that this next week will be Elder Perry and we'll just miss him, but I have been SO spiritually fed this month. Elder Bednar has SUCH an amazing talk. He talked about how important and effective doctrine is compared to what he called "applications." He explained it basically like: What's going to make a group of Elders change their hometeaching habits? Something like calling them every 1st of the month to remind them? (This is an application) Or making them truly realize and believe in the doctorine that the purpose of home teaching is to watch over, strengthen, and truly care for the members. (This is a doctrine) It was such a simple talk but SO perfect for me as a missionary. This truly was one of those life changing talks because I've realized I can really use that in every part of my life. I made some copies of my notes from it, so I'll be sending those home probably next week or so. Last week was mission conference which was also amazing. The leaders we have here teach with SO much power and it was all so applicable to us. Elder Bednar this tuesday told us that he still has his notes from when he was in the MTC, and amazingly enough, he even STILL refers back to them! SO cool! I can't wait to share all my notes with you all when I get home, I have learned amazing things. I think you'll get a laugh at this though, during the closing song at mission conference, it was a not very well known hymn, and at one point the computer lagged so the next line didn't show up, and the volume of the entire congregation was hilarious. The hymn was going on completely normal and then all the sudden the beautiful singing turned into a quiet groan of mumbled singing and it was hilarious that no one knew the words :) Man though... this whole MTC experience has just been SO amazing to me.
Well, it was so great talking to Dad and Aust and even Shandee this week! Sorry about my portuguese fail Aust :P The fact that I had a single minute left of phone time stressed my brain out and I wasn't saying what I wanted to :P I'll have to redeem myself for sure this Christmas. Well, I leave this Tuesday at 6:00 here, get to Houston at about 5:40ish that evening. My new address will be:

16623 Hafer Road
Houston, TX 77090

I love you all family!! You are amazing!! I'm so excited to go to Houston!!! THE CHURCH IS TRUE!!! (pictures in the maikl)

-Elder Ballard

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