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, February 23, 2011

 Well this week has been another great week in Minas Gerais! This week I really have been able to adjust to Elder Fife's teaching and we've begun to work off of each other really well, so it's been really good. This past week we continued working with Stefany (the 11 year old sister in the family of Douglas and Iony) and she made an amazing change. At first she had seriously no desire to be baptised. With some teaching about faith and how it can grow like a seed, she has completely changed. Before her baptism interview she was just dying of excitement about being baptized!! I had the opportunity of baptizing her in some freezing cold water (the heater broke at the church haha) and she just absolutely loved it. Huge smile, she was just glowing. It was so cool to see her with her two brothers and mom afterwards, and Iony was just beaming having 3 of her kids be member with her. Last sunday Douglas passed the sacrament, and that was such a sweet experience for me. Since he was really the first person I've been able to be here to see the total transformation, it was such an amazing thing to see him worthily use the Priesthood and pass the sacrament to his family. We had 6 investigators at church which is a lot more than we expected, and it was really cool helping all 6 of them find their way around and learn about everything. It's been a little tough though cuz I  don't think any of them are used to the 3 hour church.. Here the kid's school is only 4 hours a day, so it was definitely a change for them. We're working really hard with them, and if all goes well we'll be able to get Sonya (the 6 people consist of two parents, 3 children, and then the neighbor Sonya) baptized this sunday, because the other family is hard to teach and we haven't been able to catch all 5 of them together much. The Lord has really guided us these last two days though. Monday we found Adriana, a 30ish year-old single mom who's husband died a few years ago, and then yesterday to a man named Joaqim. He is completely elect. We knocked his door, and without us saying anything he told us to come in and sit down. When we gave the baptismal invite, he almost interupted saying "Com certeza!" (With certainty!) And we are really excited to work with these people this week. One thing I wanna share really fast is from Jesus the Christ. In one part it says, "Jesus was all that a boy should be, for His development was unretarded by the dragging weight of sin; He loved and  obeyed the truth and therefore was free." Reading this i really realized how much of a literal hinderance sin is in our lives. We're here to prepare to return to God's presence, and really sin is the only thing holding us down. Another thing i learned is that Jesus set an example for us, because yes He was tempted just like us, but He NEVER sinned. This is obvious, but then I realized that with some sins, us as members are the same way. There is no way I will EVER drink beer, smoke a cig, or do drugs. It's not cuz I can't, it's because I've put up a guard and protection against that sin that can't be penetrated. It's not cuz I can't, but because I won't. This is how we can seriously be with all our sins. Yes, it will take a lot of time and determination, but if we have this protection against drugs and beer, why can't we have it with all the little things? This life really is a journey, but just like Christ showed us, we can fully develop and find our purpose if we shed the chains of sin and truly develop and rise to our full potential. This church is so true, and is such a blessing in our lives. Always strive to share the gospel through word, and especially through example. I love this church, I love Jesus Christ, and I love our Heavenly Father. They are our friends, and WILL NEVER leave our sides. Thank you all for you love and support, may the Lord bless you all like He has blessed me here in Brazil!
Hurrah for Israel!!
 -Elder Ballard


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Zone conference, turning 5, MORE miracles, and green corn ice cream :D

Hello everyone!! What a great week and adventure I've had :)
Elder Fife and a massive pot of rice!

Being translated, "Please don't smoke marajuana here." Bahaha :D

Lots of amazing things have happened this week, this mission never ceases to amaze me. We've been teaching a girl named Joice these last couple of weeks who is Jonatan's little sister and is 11. At first she was kinda scared of getting baptized, but after watching him get baptized she got SUPER excited, it was so cool to see. Also we've been teaching a lady named Neide. She is hilarious. She's a short, round, super talkative, very flamboent (i think that's the right word) woman, and is about 60. She is hilarious. She's one of those ladies that's always calling us, "My child" and always has painted nails, that kind of lady. Anyways, they have both seriously been elect. Joice is amazingly smart and just has loved learning about the lessons. Neide was already baptized several times but talked all about how the other times were just preparing her to eventually arrive at this church. So amazing how much God prepares some people. So after church Elder Fife and I had the opportunity of baptizing them, and it was amazing. Every week it seems to get more special for me as I get a stronger grip on the language, and am able to interact more and understand what's going on. The primary children came in and sand the "I like to look for rainbows" song, but in Portuguese of course, and I really had to fight to hold back tears. So amazing. I baptized Joice, and when she came up she had the biggest smile and therew as such a special spirit there. Before I go on, Elder Fife! Elder Fife is from California/Utah, and he's great. He's taller than me, but we look quite a bit alike. Both have blue eyes and dirty blonde hair, and EVERYONE asks us if we're twins or brothers! It's actually getting a little annoying already :P It's been really nice for me to have an American companion. We try not to speak English much, but it's helped us get a better friendship a lot faster than with Elder Fernandes. It's been kinda weird adjusting to a different way of teaching and all that, but it's been really good for me to learn. The language has started to come quite a bit more lately, and that's helped me out a ton. This last monday I had my first Zone Conference. It was really cool cuz I probably understood about 85% of what was said, which is quite an accomplishment for me :D I learned a lot about how we really need to enjoy the time we have here, and just how important the work we're doing is. It's funny how it's so obvious how important this work is, but sometimes our vision just gets a little blurred or lazy. That really seems to be how it is in our everyday lives with this gospel. Anyways, we focused a lot on the aspect of inspired questions, and it's been really cool the rest of this week to really strive to help these people as people, not as students or numbers we'll write in our planners. It was also kinda funny since it was on valentine's day. The american elders that I wished a happy vtines day didn't even remember that it was. Ha, holidays are such a joke out here. The rest of this week has been really cool, especially yesterday. After lunch we got ice cream, and I finally tried the milho verde (green corn) ice cream! So weird :D It was actually surprizingly good, but reallly weird. Anyways, we had a lot of appointments and marked 3 new people for baptismal dates, but at about 1 o clock I started getting a really bad stomach ache. I tried to ignore it cuz I knew we had a LOT of work to do that day. We were walking all over and finding lots of people to teach, but my stomach was not happy at all. During 4 first lessons yesterday, without fail right before the First Vision, my stomach would feel like it needed to throw up. Since this part of the lesson is so crucial, I really really didn't want to ruin the spirit by running out of the house or something. So every time this happened, I would pray my heart out that Heavenly Father would stop the sickness. And, every single time in all 4 lessons, He stopped it. It was so cool for me. Last night was horrible trying to sleep while my stomach went crazy, but the fact that Heavenly Father didn't let the sickness get in the way of the lessons was so cool to me. And from those lessons we found a family of 6 that are all excited and wanting to be baptized!! The Work of God truly will go on un-hindered by ANYTHING that tries to stand in its way. That was so cool for me to see, talk about miracles. Well, yesterday I hit 5 MONTHS!!! 150 days on the mission!! I still can't even believe that!!! There's a sister finishing her mission on the 28th, and it was crazy to hear her talk about how fast missions pass. I'm trying to make every minute count cuz I can tell this mission is already flying. Thanks for everyone support and love, I really do feel it out here. This church is so true, and God loves each and every one of us so much, much more than we can realize. Thank you all and I love and miss you!
Hurrah for Israel!!
-Elder Ballard

Joice and Neide! Que benção! (What a blessing!)

When garbage men go on strike

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

100 pages, transfers, and more miracles!

   This week has been great!! I once again was taught an amazing lesson this week. One day I was just thinking a lot about gratitude and humility. I realized a really cool and interesting thing about human nature... For some reason, it's human nature to be angry/sad when things negative happen, but when positive things happen, we almost always just accept it as being "neutral". For example, we wake up and say, 'Dangit! I have a cough today how lame is that!'  But the day before we didn't wake up and say, 'Hooray!! My throat is perfectly healthy today! What a blessing!' We always accept good things as just being neutral or what it 'should' be. As I realized this it opened up a whole new world of gratitude for me. We have countless things to be greatful for that we don't even realize until they're gone. For instance, all of us have control of both sides of our body. The recent convert here, Clovis, can only move his right side. I've never heard anyone ever say that they are grateful to be able to move both arms or both legs or whatever. But as I've thought about it more it's really helped better my attitude in all things out here. As I've looked at the "neutral" things I have and realized how positive they really are, it's totally began to crowd out the unpleasant or ungrateful thoughts. I think this is truly a way we can become more grateful and more positive in life, because with me, rather than saying "Man, I'm tired of not being able to understand everything people are saying..." I can say, "Man, it's so great that I had 2 months of spirit-led training in the MTC, a companion here that helps me all the time, scriptures to read in portuguese..." That list could go on and on and on. Such a great lesson I've learned with that!

Jonatan and Henrique!

This week has been great though, we continued to work with Douglas and Iony's family, with a son/brother named Henrique, and then also a neighbor of theirs named Jonatan. They are both super stoked about the church, and all went amazing and they were baptised last Sunday!! I can't believe how much the Lord is blessing this area, it truly is amazing. We're working with a sister in Douglas's family, as well as with Jonatan's sister, and it's amazing what families and connections with other members can do for people. So on monday we got a call from President saying that Elder Fernandes will be transferred!! AH! Holy intimidating! I've only been here for about 4 weeks and now I'm going to be teaching a new elder all about the people and area here! So this morning, we got on the bus, met up in Belo, and now I'm with my new companion, Elder Fife. That sure went fast didn't it :P So he's the senior companion obviously (he has a year a 5 months or so) but I'm still gunna have to pass the reins of Elder Fernandes onto him, and it's gunna be  a crazy next few days! He's great though and I'm extremely excited. We're going to try and keep this pattern of baptisms up for as long as possible, and I'm sure these miracles will keep happening as we keep our faith strong, and continue to strive to work and be obedient. That's what I love about missions, even though everything is hard and crazy out here, it all comes down to those simple principles of work, faith and obedience. Thank you all for you emails, letters, prayers, and all that you do! I will keep striving to be the best missionary I can be for the Lord. This church is true, and God truly is our loving Heavenly Father. Always remember that and strive to truly believe that, and I know that He will bless you as one of His children.
Hurrah for Israel!!
 -Elder Ballard

Oh btw, my title that said 100 pages was referring to that i hit page number 100 in my journal today! Haha, not important but kinda crazy.

Our jerseys!

My wonderful toe blister. The hills really take their toll somedays :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hello my dear family and friends!! Holy cow this last week has been so hard not having an email sent... I don't know why it drove me so crazy but I just have SO much to talk about in this new country. I'll respond to last week's emails as well today.
 Aust - Firstly, what is farinha? I don't really recognize names of food yet cuz people usually just give me food and I eat it. Don't ask the name all that often :P Also, I ate a coxinha last week!! Holy deliciousness!! I absolutely loved it! I love all the new food here, I'm constantly asking Elder Fernandes what stuff is and what it's called and all that. I'm actually keeping track of all the new stuff I try in the back of my planner. As of now its got a lot of kinds of sorvette and suco, with star ratings and little notes on flavors and stuff. With the language, I've gotten smashed with the accent of the people here! They leave off halves of words, talk fast, slur it together, it really has been one of those "this isnt the language I learned it the MTC" experiences :) I'm experiencing a similar deal with missing home. With you it was in the morning right? With me its the afternoon that gets me, I'm not sure why. It's of course getting better with time though. So I have a really cool thing to ask you, I was in the office the other day and one elder was talking about Bahia. I asked him and he said that's where he's from, and then showed him a picture of you and he said he saw you!!! I'm not sure if he actually knew you or had just seen you, but his name is Elder Carneiro, and he was in the ala Serrinha, estaca Kalilanelia. Ring any bells? It'd be crazy if you somehow remembered him. Nother question, my comp and I have been comparing names of american movies, and one that I can't figure out is a movie called "Nem Que a Vaca Tuça" which translated is Not even that a cow coughs, or something like that. Anyways I'm curious if you have any idea what movie :D  Haha, I can't wait to see this training video, and it sounds like Premeire is working well. Thanks for making the list for me too, I've already started up a list of places to eat, movies to watch, threadless shirts to make, animations to make, it's really fun.
 Mom - Thanks so much for making a blog Mom! That made me really happy to hear that some people had checked it out, especially the guys in the grade below me. I would love to influence anyone possible to go on a mission :) It was SO good to hear that about Hannah!! I sent an email to Elders Batt and Lindsay, and they told me that Janele was baptized the day before too!! Talk about amazing blessings!! That made me happy to hear that Hannah wanted me to baptize her, after showing her that picture of us at the temple and having that amazing experience it really seemed to open her up to the gospel. So good hearing that so many people were there and that the baptism went so good! That is seriously just the best thing I could possibly hear. As for my lack of a letter last week I'm so sorry!! Ah... that killed me when it didn't send. I've found that writing letters/emails is really a big stress relief for me, and it makes me realize all the blessings I've received, and I love how the sharing of missionary experiences helps other people as well. So luckily we're in a higher quality lan house today and its going much better :) 

Sandra's baptism!
   Alrighty!!! Finally get to tell about my adventures here haha. So Brazil is more different than I could have ever imagined. The missionary work is super different, the walking instead of car/bike makes a huge difference, it's crazy. So not this week but the week before was kinda a hard week. It was really setting in that this was my new mission, and that this is where I'm going to be living for the next 20 months. The weather here has been a huge chance for me. Went from the chilliness of a Texas winter (got below 30 like once i think, so not even bad compared to Rexburg of course) to the Brazilian summer. The temperature is in Celsius here, but from what I can tell, a few days it's been 38 degrees celcius, which goes to about 100 degrees... And the humidity is a killer with that kind of heat. My body sweats pretty bad as it is, and basically ever since I've gotten off the plane I've been wet. That's been kinda annoying for me, but with time it's basically gotten normal :) The walking has been really hard to get used to as well. My feet are burning by the end of the day, and we walk about 15 or 20 miles each day. Add the heat onto that and it gets pretty exhausting. Anyways, last week was tough just cuz of how everything just seemed to all hit me at once. I wasn't sleeping very well, I was exhausted, the language is pretty slow coming still, I can't talk with my companion all that much, it was pretty overwhelming. Last friday though we had an amazing miracle happen. Ronan and Renata have a sister named Sandra, and she's been going through the whole process with the family. She was accepting everything, accepting to follow all the commandments, even got interviewed and passed. But a couple days before he baptism she just randomly didnt have the desire to be baptized. Anyways, on friday we went over to visit the family, and out of nowhere she told us she'd been thinking and decided she wanted to be baptized!!

 So last saturday we baptized Sandra! And then on sunday confirmed the 3 siblings! That was so cool to see a whole family come together like that and become members :) So weirdly enough, even with the baptism and confirmations, my attitude was still pretty bad. Just having the Houston mission become the norm for me and then totally swapping my world upside down to the style of Brazil was killing me. But then one morning, I had one of the best studies I've ever had. I read the scripture about how  "All things will work together for your good" and then a quote from Elder Scott about something to the effect of "We need to thank God for giving us struggles, because this is what helps us grow." These two things together hit me SO hard. I realized that all things only work for our good IF we let them. It all hit me at once that all these struggles and hard aspects of the work here are shaping me into a totally different person, and that if I take them in a positive way, I can truly become the missionary the Lord is trying to shape me into becoming. This has totally reshaped my attitude towards the work here. I absolutely love it now and am finding so much joy in this journey. This past week has been wonderful. Randomly during the week I started getting really bad nosebleeds that I couldn't stop, during lessons, while walking, really random. So I ended up going to a nose doctor in Belo Horizonte and getting my nose cauterized :D Surprise!! Haha it was pretty crazy having all that happen while only being able to understand certain parts of what was going on. Every since then my nose has been fine and everything else has been great. So this last sunday, amazingly enough, we were able to baptise 2 MORE people!! There names are Douglas and his mom Iony. They have a family with 8 kids (just like us, and just like Elder Fernandes :) ) and they truly are elect. They understood everything so well and have been keeping up on reading and praying and everything so well. I baptized Douglas and it was so special. He was SO excited when he came out and both of them were just glowing. The Lord is blessing this area so so much, and I guess in January the total for baptisms here was 8! So cool! It's taken me a while to get used to the different style of work here but now that I've getting more used to it I'm really beginning to love it. The people here are great and I love working with them. I don't know what all I have/haven't talked about, so next email make sure to ask specific questions if I've forgotten to talk about stuff. Anyways, the Lord loves all his children so much. It's been so amazing for me to see the entire process of baptism happen these last 2 weeks with Douglas and Iony. I love this church and this work so much. I'm so blessed to be able to be a missionary!! Thank you all for all you do! Your prayers and support are more appreciated than you know! The Church is true and is so beautiful! I miss you all and love you all, but I know this is where I'm supposed to be and what I'm supposed to be doing. Hurrah for Israel!
-Elder Ballard

Bits of Brazil -
The napkins here are such a joke. They're made out of the same stuff as the popcorn bags at movie theatres :D
Rock n roll here is pronounced: Hock e hole. I cracked up the first time I heard that.
Wax paper here is called Papel Manteiga, which translates out to be butter paper.
A member had a Liahona from the early 90s. Great picture eh? :P
We found this little guy when we were cleaning the font.

Douglas and Iony! And they are a lot happier than they look.