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!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Merry New Years Soon!

Hello everyone!!
 Boy it was great talking to you last week... I can't believe how fast that came and went. I apologize that I didn't get to talk specifically with everyone, and specifically that my goodbye was so sudden and abrupt. Hopefully next time I will be in Brazil and a longer call will be allowed :) With 7 siblings (well 8 now counting Karen =P) I just don't think an hour is even close to being enough time to talk with everyone. Thank you all for being around for that, it was such a joy to be able to hear everyone's voices again. And talking to Austin in Portuguese is something I've been waiting to do for months now, so that was amazing to finally do. I'm so glad to hear things are going good with everyone! All I can say now is I'm glad that I still get to email every week.
 Thank you SO much for the presents. That cookbook is perfect Austin! Has a ton of your "flavor" of art and style in it and it made me smile just skimming through it :) Random fact btw, I was putting my laundry into the washer this morning and a random sound popped into my head, (Druid of the Claw) "My path is su-BLEAAHHH!!" Hahaha! Man that cracked me up. I was just standing there laughing my head off without any way to explain to anyone else what I was laughing at :D Ahh... good times. Thank you all SO much as well for that calendar!! Absolutely amazing. I of course guessed what it was when I got it in the mail in the first place, but it was so much better than I could have even expected. Nothing's better than seeing all those pictures of everyone along with those scriptures and quotes. You all look great by the way!! Looks like everyone's been having a blast.

 A member family (The Calderone's) fed us these steaks... Biggest one I've EVER eaten. Massive.

 Our roommate elders locked the fridge shut when we did our mission fast :D
Well, Christmas was a blast here in Conroe. We woke up, everyone opened their presents, and then the Spanish elders came over for breakfast. We had bacon, french toast, eggs, chocolate milk, that sorta stuff. There was 10 of us elders together and we all just played with the little trinkets everyone had gotten (rubix cubes, silly putty, connect 4, etc) and just enjoyed playing around with each other and talking. Then a few of us hopped in the car and headed down to President's house where he was making crepes for everyone. Crepes have been an unheard of food since I left, so it was great eating those again. There were tons of missionaries there, and it's kinda funny the position I'm in. I only know several missionaries total, and I feel like all the other missionaries are just kinda ignoring me (not in a rude way or anything) just cuz no one knows how long I'll be around. Kinda interesting but I don't blame them, I'm in a very unique situation. After that we went to a member's home, the Lambiths',for Christmas Linner. We had homemade rolls, prime rib roast, baked potatoes, very good meal. Plus, it didn't have turkey so it was actually a unique meal from what we've been having since Thanksgiving. After that we went to a members home in Conroe 1st and had yet another dinner there... Ridiculous amount of food I must say. We had home grown pig, green jello, broccoli salad, and some more rolls and it was delicious as well. Sadly I must admit I am gaining some weight here... I'm not sure what I started out at when I left for the mission but I'm estimating I've gained about 15 pounds o.O Sad isn't it? I mean yes it's because of the holidays and all and the food part will get better, but it's been a pretty nasty feeling gaining weight like this. This morning I was back down about 4 less than what I was Christmas night so there might be some hope left. Anyways, after eating there we hung around, played a game called Scrabble Flash (you should check that game out if you ever get a chance) and then watched some Mormon messages and stuff like that. Just a very fun Christmas, the members here are great and it was just a really great day.
 Yesterday was kinda rough just cuz this whole week we've had a very weird schedule and have kinda been outta the loop for a while. But, Hannah came to church again and we were able to teach her during sunday school and then went amazing. Getting into a lesson and stuff really helped me get the missionary mindset and attitude going again and it felt great to teach her. We taught her about the 10 commandments and amazingly she even expressed that she'd been having some friends from school frown at her taking the lessons, but she's still holding strong. It never ceases to amaze me how prepared some of the people are. We haven't even baptized her yet and she's already becoming a noticable example to her friends. This morning I did my whole study in Portuguese and I can tell I'm receiving the gift of tongues again. A few days ago I read about 3/4ths of a page in PMG in about 45 minutes, and gave up and did english because I was frustrated. But, this morning I ready about 2 and a half pages in PMG (which still doesn't seem like that much, but in Portuguese that's amazing for me) and the comprehension I had of what I was reading was SO much better than before. It felt so good to just be feeling that spirit so strongly again. Even though all that preparation doesn't necessarily have instant effect cuz I'm not in Brazil yet, I can definitely feel how much it's preparing me for when I do leave.
 So one other thing I wanted to share while it's still semi-close to Christmas. As we've taught a lot of members I've realized some really cool stuff about Christmas. In the Ensign (or New Era... not sure) it stated that "Without Easter, there would be no Christmas." How true this is because if Christ hadn't fulfilled His mission, we wouldn't be celebrating His birth in the first place. So as I thought about this, I realized a way that we can make Christmas truly help us become a new person. Because Christmas focuses on birth, we can use Christmas as a time for a "rebirth" of ourselves. Whether it be certain habits we want to make or break, characteristics we want or want to get rid of, whatever it might be, we can use this time to begin that journey into becoming a new person. And just like Christ, this "Christmas" of our lives will be where we start, even if the "Easter" of our lives or when we do become that person we are aiming to be is further down the road. Just use this time of year to make those goals, and rather than asking yourself, "What can I do for Christ this Christmas?" ask yourself, "Who can I BECOME for Christ this Christmas?" Even though Christmas is already past, use this as well as New Years as a time to ask yourself this. In PMG it talks about the Christlike Attributes we should be striving to obtain, and I invite all of you to look in PMG and read those passages. I promise you that as you do and as you study those things, you will realize what you can do to become better and it will truly help you to become more like Christ.
 I know Christ lives. I know He is my savior, and I know that he is the one that brings us hope, happiness, and the way back to a fullness of joy. The other 4 elders in my apartment all have divorced parents, and one thing I realized this Christmas is how blessed I am to have had such an amazing upbringing. Amazing friends, amazing family (direct as well as extended) and through that start of my life and continued support even now, I feel so much help and added faith than what I might have had without it. Keep your testimonies strong. Truly search and study the scriptures every day. When you pray, talk with God. Don't just say the things you're used to saying or have been taught to say, TALK with God, because He is there and He does listen. After you pray, ponder and listen to what He has to say. When you go to Church, go with the mindset of 'what can I learn from this today?' Church isn't just put there so we can have something to do on Sundays, it's an extremely important part of our lives. Never forget to thank God for all we have either, we are SO blessed to live where we live and have the people in our lives that we do. Thank you all once again for everything, I'm so proud to be a brother, son, friend, grandson, or whatever it might be to all of you. Keep changing lives, and always strive to be like the Savior. This Church is the true church on the earth!!! Hurrah for Israel!

-Elder Ballard

 Do you remember Dallin Hill? I went to elementary school with him! He's been here for about 15 months. 

My Christmas eve meal at Olive Garden. It's been forever since eating there.

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