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


President and Sister Hansen

Elder Batt, Elder Lindsay, Elder Ballard

Hello from Texas everyone!
Man... first of all let me say it is CRAZY to be in the real field finally. I got so used to the MTC being what a missionary's life is like that it's so weird to me to really be out in what a missionary's life actually is. Well, I guess there's no better way to do it than to just go through and tell you how it all went.
So, the Salt Lake plane ride to Pheonix was really uneventful. Me and Elder Alexander sat on a row all by ourselves so that wasn't exactly the best opportunity to do a whole lot. We ran to our next plane in Pheonix, and that's when we got split up. He sat way up in the front and I was crammed back in the corner on the very back. For most of the time the two seats next to me were empty and I was worried it was going to be a replay of the one before, but finally in the last 5 minutes a guy came and sat down in the aisle seat! He looked about 25 or so, and as I finished my lunch I tried to just "observe" him for a little while. So for about 10 minutes my mind was racing through EVERY little trick and bit of information I had learned in the MTC about talking to people, and holy moly was I nervous. So finally as we were taxiing around to take off, I asked him what he was heading to Houston for. So that broke the ice and I found out that his name was Ryan, and he was going on a business trip for some presentations. We talked for about 45 minutes about his life, about what my mission was (he kinda knew about missions a little bit, I guess he had Mormon friends in college) and he seemed impressed at what I was doing and stuff. I didn't actually TEACH him a whole lot, but we kept the subject around LDS stuff and how he thought that the religion in general was very "efficient" (he is EXTREMELY business minded) and stuff like that. After a while he decided to go back to reading his plans for his presentation. So after a while when I'd noticed that he was basically finished with his reading, I specifically brought up what he knew about Mormons and asked about his religion. We talked for a while from there and then the conversation just kinda tapered off. So, as we landed in Houston (even though I was dying of nervousness :P ) I finally asked him if he'd heard about the Book of Mormon. He said he had, and when I offered him the one I had marked up a bunch he politely refused. Kinda a bummer but I didn't take it too hard or anything. How can you as a missionary? And then after that I asked him if I could get his home address (because I'd written him a thank you note/testimony in the front of the BoM, and he gave it to me! Woot! So later today I'm going to write him that letter and hopefully that'll be able to plant a seed in him for whenever the Lord will soften his heart.
Getting off the plane I had kinda a bitter sweet feeling, but landing in Houston made me SOO excited. Us 3 missionaries got off, and finally met President Hansen!! Along with his wife and the 2 aps. This is going to blow your mind how small this world is. One AP is the best friend of a kid named Ryan Taylor, the brother of Jasmine Taylor (Mom and Nat might know her from the stake) and Ryan's dad is owner of Taylor Chevrolette (haha... how in the world is that spelled) and then even more crazy, the other AP's name is Elder Galbraith. AKA grandson of the Galbraith's that Grandma and Grandpa are friends with!! He even said he ran into them in the Temple and they talked with him! What are the chances?! So crazy. So that was a great welcome with those two, and President Hansen is SUCH a great person. I felt so welcome and comfortable here. He told us about how the mission works, history of the texas mission, all that cool stuff. Orientation after that, and then finally I got assigned to the Conroe 2nd Ward area. My new companions are Elder Lindsay, and Elder Batt (pronounced Bought) and they are awesome. They both really like music and we all get along really really well.
Well, now I'll just give a quick watered down version of what's happened this week. The first day was Zone Conference, and that was great. Got to meet my companions' dads, sons, brothers, etc. Elder Hansen gave a great talk and it really made me realize how important and inspired mission presidents are. After this we went back home and I had the opportunity to go to my first lesson! This was the Karr family. The wife is a member, and Brother Karr has been getting taught for like the last 2 years (what in the world right? How can you be getting taught for that long and not choose?) and we taught about the Gift of the Holy Ghost. He's a big old fire fighter and he told us all about how he had felt the gift of the Holy Ghost many times before and it was a cool lesson. My companions told me I'm a really good teacher for being a greenie and I definitely give that credit to being in the MTC for 9 weeks, and having such a strong spiritual upbringing :) Because I really was a lot more comfortable with that than I had expected I would be. After that Elder Batt went on a home teaching split and me and Elder Lindsay went out to contact people. You can't knock doors after dark here or people freak out, so we just kinda walked around the streets looking for people. We didn't have much luck, but on the way back we ran into two guys that were smoking outside their apartment. We talked for a little and found out that one of them (Logan) had just gotten out of jail for 120 days for marajuana use, and was now living with his girlfriend, but that he had a Book of Mormon. After a little more inveastigation he said that "The Mormon church is too smart for someone like me. You're church is too nerdy, you have to be able to back up everything you say with scriptures and know everything." This cracked me up inside cuz I had never had this idea cross my mind :P But after talking a little bit more we realized that he thinks that everyone in the church is exactly like missionaries who are trained and study the scriptures for 2 hours a day and what not. So after talking some more (and hearing some really interesting takes on the 2nd coming =D ) we got him to the point where he was interested in having us come over because we seemed a lot more "normal" and down to earth than the other missionaries. Crazy first contact but I got so excited afterwards :)
Well, besides that I haven't been able to do much more straight up investigator work, but we've had the opportunity to do SO much member work and it's been great. When we were on an exchange to teach a lady in the other ward, we checked up to see if we could see another investigator, and a black guy came outta the door and asked how we were doing, shook our hands, and then showed us some scars he'd received from 3 gun wounds down in Houston a few weeks earlier. I tell ya, it's pretty crazy to come to what the real world is like after Rexburg and Provo all my life :) That place we were in was super ghetto, really cool experience to be there and look at what the world is like. It's so cool the amount of love God really instills in you as a missionary, even though my first instinct was to be a little uneasy, I just got that burning feeling of how everyone is God's children, and He wants them all to return to him. Other cool families we've taught is the Sinclairs (they have a great dane that is seriously the size of a small horse. I'll take a picture this week. She also will probably be sending you pictures and videos of me when I'm over at their house) the Calderones (from what my companions tell me, I guess he used to be a major mob boss in Mexico. So cool now though, has 2 little kids that are SO cute, and it's just awesome to see what the gospel can do to change people. The family reminds me a ton of Jeremy and Rebecca, they taught us to cook and just the way they both talk remind me a lot of them, that was cool.) and last night we visited the Monorelos (or something) and he's our ward mission leader, and he's from Brazil! We talked in Portuguese a lot, he told me tricks and tips for Brazil, made some amazing rice and beans, it was great! So fun to finally get to talk to someone in Portuguese again! Over all I think it's been SO nice to just be around real members agian. Be around kids, pets, houses, all that. I meet a family and 30 seconds later just feel like I've known them for ages and just have this amazing love for them, the Lord is doing wonders with my heart already.
Well, we don't have a whole lot of investigator prospects right now, but I know we'll be able to get a baptism soon. Like you were saying Mom, the power of the Spirit really lets us do miracles, and I've already seen sooo many in myself, in my heart, and in the people we've been around. Even in only what, 6 days of being here? Ah, I love it. I know the Lord put me here in Houston for a reason, and since I don't know how long I'll be here, my attitude is i need to just hurry and work my tail off so I can get my purpose done before I leave for Brazil.
I love you family, I'm in good hands here :)

- Elder Ballard

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