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, March 30, 2011

Neusa's amazing transformation, Apostasies taught at church, and the most unexpected change possible...

Well, we'll take this week from beginning until now. So our focus this last week was with Jonatan's mom, Neusa (pronounced Neo-za) She had a problem with smoking and drinking coffee, but with the Lord and the Book of Mormon's help, she went from like 10 cigs per day, to 4, to 3, to 1, and then stopped! It's always a miracle to me how people change so much with the gospel. I was thinking about the first day we met Neusa, and she was kinda a grump. Didn't really have much desire, was really a complainer, stuff like that. Comparing that to this last saturday, AMAZING change. She even laughed for the first time!! She's always smiling now, it is so cool what the knowlege and feelings of this gospel can do for someone. Anyways, Sunday came and we picked Neusa up and headed to church. Jonatan was supposed to be confirmed, but wasn't there when we arrived :/ So we were a little frustrated at first. We got to church late, but then luckily about half way through sunday school Jonatan showed up. Elder Kupp baptized Neusa, and it was a really sweet baptism. It's funny cuz Neusa has a really grumpy, almost like she's in pain, type of face. So it's kinda hard to read her sometimes. But, after the baptism she was getting her stuff, and I just simply said, "Parabens Irmã" (Congratulations Sister!) and she got the BIGGEST smile on her face, it was amazing. Her and Jonatan are both super excited to go to conference, and it'll be wonderful for those two to be in this gospel, help each other out, and really grow together to become strong members. I also just had to mention the apostasies talked about in church on sunday. It's just kinda funny when it happens here. In the last few weeks, it's been taught that: God doesn't have a body, that He's simply a spiritual being; and that Lucifer once held the Melchezidek Priesthood. Hahaha... It cracks me up when we step aside with our investigators after the meetings and say, "What she MEANT to say was etc. etc." haha, what an adventure.
  Anyways, yesterday was really the craziest day I've had out here. We started the week with no one that we could baptize, so we set off just looking for new people to take to conference. We weren't having much luck, but then yesterday, an investigator that had stopped lessons about 2 weeks ago randomly called us up, for absolutely no reason. She asked us why we had called, and we hadn't called. Through this odd little mix up, we were able to go back, and we found out that she had just been sick, and that was the only reason she stopped with the lessons. We reinvited to to be baptized, and she will be baptized this sunday! What a blessing!! But, things really got crazy last night at about 9:45. Elder Kupp (who's district leader) was doing a call, when he got interrupted by a call from President. He listened for a sec, and then handed the phone to me.... I was kinda nervous already at this point. To make a long story short, President tells me that 3 Americans were receiving visas and arriving today, and that I was going to be emergency transferred! To make things even more insane, he tells me that I'm going to be SENIOR COMPANION! My jaw literally dropped when I heard this... To make it even more crazy, he told me that me and my new companion (who only has 5 months on the mission) are going to be reopening an area that's been shut for over a year! WHAT?! Man... the Lord really knows how to humble you. I am super excited, super anxious, super nervous, basically all feelings are going through me right now. So, please pray for me :) I know it's the Lord's will, but expecially with the language, I'm feeling a little nervous. So right now, I'm sitting in the mission office writing this because we're waiting to find out if we have a house to live in in our new area! AH! This is truly crazy. I'll have more news about this new area next week though. But, I know the Lord guides his servants, especially President Parrella. This is going to be the biggest challenge of my mission so far, but I know that it's how the Lord will make me grow. Nothing makes us grow more than stretching us beyond what we thing our bounds are :) Thanks for everything everyone! I'm so excited to be watching conference here in Brazil and know that all you'll be hearing the words of the prophets as well! This church is absolutely true, and I love this chruch and the Lord with all my heart. Hurrah for Israel!!!
-Elder Ballard

Bit of Brazil - In Portugues there's two words, coco, and cocó. Almost the same but the accent is just put on a different part of the word. I was buying a chup chup (pronounced "shoop shoop" and translated means 'suck suck', it's basiclly a popcicle just made from a little sack filled with milk, peanuts, coconut, or fruit and then frozen) Anyways... coco means coconut. And cocó, means... well, dung, for lack of a more proper word. And as you can probably guess, I accidentally tried to order a dung chup chup >< How embarrassing right?

Neusa's baptism

My comp for only 2 weeks, Elder Kupp

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Showershock, Investigators fighting over the Book of Mormon, and funniest conclusion jump EVER

 


This stuff is called Sobremeza. Quite good!

 This week was a great one! Working with Elder Kupp has been a big change, but has been great. First of all some quick crazy stuff. The other morning I was taking a shower, and I reached up to switch the temperature of the shower head, and without realizing it I touched the copper contacts on the top, and ended shocking the heck outta myself :D Haha, shocking yourself if the weirdest thing ever, I didn't know what was going on. Pretty powerful shock though.
 Anyways, last week we found a kid named Jonatan, and he was in pretty bad shape. 23 and addicted to drugs, drinking, had 2 kids that he'd fathered, it was a sad deal. But, with the help of the Gospel, we helped him totally turn his life around. It was the fastest baptism ever, cuz we found him 2 saturdays ago, he went to church last sunday, came to sacrament this week, a member gave him a ride to the Zone Leader's church to get interviewed, he came back, and got baptized!! It was so cool. I was a little worried at first cuz of how fast it was, but right after I said the prayer and baptized him, the Spirit gave me the sweetest confirmation that everything will be good with him. Last friday, Jonatan's mom Nilza, called us up and said, "I have a problem. Jonatan keeps taking the Book of Mormon to work... And so it's never here at the house for me to read... Can I get a copy for myself?" Music to a missionaries ears :) She should be baptized this week if all goes well, and I just love working with families. On monday we went by the house to teach Nilza, and had an interesting experience. As we walked up, Jonatan was in the road acting all crazy and screaming with his friend, and we looked over, and he was holding none other than a big ol' can of beer in his hand... Elder Kupp and I looked at each other and disbelief. With Jonatan just being baptized the day before, Elder Kupp got ticked and said, "Que é isso em seu mão?" (What is this in your hand?) And Jonatan just innocently answered, "What are you talking about?" And it turned out that he had filled a can with gasoline to wash the car paint off of his hands.... Hahaha, we felt so bad for our lack of faith in him. Such a great kid, he's going to be amazing in this church. It's been so amazing to see the change in his life. That's one of my favorite parts of this work is seeing how someone can have an absolutely horrible trash-fest of a life (because of drugs and drinking and etc) and then how the Gospel and Atonement can come into their life and completely turn them around and give them that true happiness they've been seeking for. And in this case in only a short 8 days :) Man it's a blessing to be a part of this work. We had an absolutely amazing leadership training on monday, and there is really going to be a whole new era of success here in Belo Horizonte. President Parrella is getting so much revelation for this mission, Mission Presidents are truly amazing. He had me bless the food in front of all the Zone Leaders, District Leaders, and Trainers in the mission... and me legs were shaking so hard and heart was beating so fast that I almost passed out :D
 I don't have much time left, but next week we get to prepare people to go to General Conference!!! I can't even wait!! So excited to hear the words of our Prophets. This church is such a blessing! I'm so grateful to be helping others recieve this joy that nothing else can bring. Hurrah for Israel!!!
 -Elder Ballard]



My attempt at crepes

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Transfers already?! Longest lesson EVER, my first hot dog and coconut water!

This transfer absolutely flew past... I guess once per year they do a 5 week transfer so that the rest of the year can have 6 weeks, so that transfer absolutely rocketed past!

I drew some pictures for these two little kids. They loved me for it haha

Stupid cockroach got caught in E Fife's shoe tree :)

  


 Well, this week was definitely an improvement from what's been the norm here. We continued our habit of finding new people basically every day, but this week we actually had 2 come to church, and they LOVED IT!! Aw man, it was such a blessing. I was doing the math, and for some reason with this last transfer, we've had more or less 35 different people accept dates to be baptized, about 10 go to church, and out of those 35 (before these 2 this week) we NEVER were able to do a follow-up lesson after church. For some reason they would always just avoid us or make an excuse to stop the lessons, it's been so weird. That golden family of Eva, Ederson, and their two kids even fell :( I know that someday they'll find the light cuz of the things they told us and the desires they have, but I just don't know it it'll be with us or if it'll be with other elders or what. We might try and go back, but this is the 3rd week they "haven't" been able to come to church. Stuff like that's happening all around though... But, that's the lesson I've learned this transfer though is that really the only thing we need to worry about, (as missionaries as well as in our normal lives) is the things that WE can do, and leave the rest to God. Jesus Christ gave perfect examples of this. For example, when He rose Lazerus from the dead, He asked, "Where is the tomb that he layeth?" (even though he obviously knew, he wanted the people to use their own ability to explain and show him where) and then told them, "Remove the stone that blocketh the tomb" (even thought Christ could have commanded the rock to move, he knew that human strength was able to do it without problems) and this really shows us how it is in our own lives. Yes God could command all the elects in this city to walk to our apartment and knock on the door and say they want to be baptized, but God knows that us missionaries have the strength and desire to walk, knock door to door, and actually find these elects. It really goes right along with 1 Nephi 3:7. The Lord will never give a commandment, OR a trial, that we can't handle or complete. It reminds me of how even something as intense as the death of a loved one can be turned into something to make us grow. But, us in the church have the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation, which in turn gives us the strength to continue on and stay strong. The term that nothing is impossible with God sure has grown to be true with me out here. Even though this transfer's been hard and people have been using their agency to not go to church or to end lessons with us, us continuing and enduring through it allows us to keep finding news and really find elects. Elder Fife and I have gone back to Jonatan (23 year old who had problems with drugs, lost the confidence of all his family and friends, but now is an amazingly humble truth-seeker. Such a great guy.) and Vanha (62 year-old lady who hasn't agreed with basically all the other churches she's been to, but reeeally like church, and will be baptized this sunday if all goes well. And she can talk more than ANYONE I've ever met.) and been able to teach them and help them, and things are going great with them. Quick story, when we first taught Vanha the first lesson, it was literally the longest lesson I've ever been in. At least 2 and a half hours, just with the first lesson (usually takes 40-60 minutes.) and it was insane. She talks about the most random stuff EVER! Elder Fife said the first vision, and said: "...and said, pointing to the other: 'This is my Beloved S--" Vanha: "Oh good! But man, there's this place over in Ceu Azul where the people are so unhealthy! Seriously, people have AIDS, don't have food, etc. blah blah blah" It was RIDICULOUS! I've never seen anyone cut off the first vision like that! Luckily the lady understands stuff really well, so we're teaching her fine, but man she can talk... It's nuts. But anyways, with this short transfer, Elder Fife already got transfered! My new comp is Elder Kupp, he's 21, and a genious. He started college as a 15 year old (ya... that's not a typo. Fifteen.) And graduated college in mechanical engieneering before he came on his mission at 20. Besides the intimidating fact that he's a college graduate, he seems awesome! I'm excited to continue here in Justinopolis, and I can feel a change in the wind a comin' :)]
 This gospel is perfect. There's no way I could be surviving and enjoying this mission so much if I didn't have this amazing gospel as my foundation. Jesus Christ truly does know each and every one of us, each and every minute and problem of our day. I love this gospel, I love this mission, I love my life :) Thank you for you prayers and support, and know you all are in my prayers as well. Hurrah for Israel!!!
    -Elder Ballard

translation:
PLEASE
Do not
urinate in this area.

Green Mint
thanks you.

Bit o' Brazil:   Some of the people here have kinda interesting jobs that I don't even quite understand yet... One shop I passed was full of manicans, and a guy was sawing the legs off of one. Not sure what the final product was or anything :D As well, we saw a guy breaking an oven apart with a hatchet. Probably for parts, but just the fact he was using a hatchet made it funny for me :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chicken feet and hearts, carnival, and 6 MONTHS?!!?

Everytime I sit down to write I can't believe it's already been another week...

Well, another week without a baptism sadly... The golden families we had randomly decided to travel or have work on sunday :( The hardest part with this area is definitely church. The people here are SO poor, and since the church is in a different area, they have to pay R$1.75 (roughly 1 dollar) for the bus fare, and seriously a lot of people can't afford that every week :( It's been so sad to see, because SO many people that were baptised here have gone inactive just because of conditions like that... It's been such a heartbreaker cuz us missionaries know what they're missing and some people just can't see the blessings that are sitting there waiting for them. It's been raining like no other this whole week, so that's slowed it down too. Along with this, this week was Carnival. Carnival is basically like a week long marti-gra, and luckily here in Minas Gerias it isn't big at all (If i remember right, didn't you have to stay inside during that week Aust?) but a lot of people traveled for it. So, it looks like this next week should really pick up cuz everyone will actually be here for sunday and stuff. I'm really excited for it.
 So some really fun stuff happened this week: Last sunday I ate my first chicken foot! It was actually much better than I expected, but nonetheless very odd :) The taste was awesome, consistency a little weird, but it was good. The only parts that grossed me out were the fact that my companion just said, "Just pick it up by the knee and suck!", the fact that I could use the foot as a fork to move around my other food (haha... I stopped doing that right after I instinctively did it) and the worse part was when the thumb fell off in my mouth... Bleeeck. Finger... err, toe lickin' good! Stupid pun sorry. I also had about 15 chicken hearts at a restaurant, but those are actually very good, and I had had them at Tucanos before. So this next week will be my 6 MONTH MARK! AH!! I can't wrap my mind around that... so crazy. I also realized that last week a turned 19 and a half... that sure went quick. I will never be able to understand time.
 Even though this week was hard, i sure have learned and am still learning a lot. During a member visit, Elder Fife shared a really cool insight. His dad went to israel a while ago, and learned something really cool about shepards there. When one sheep leaves the flock and gets lost, the shepard will go and look until he finds it. When he finds it, the shepard will actually break one of the sheeps legs, and then carry the sheep on his shoulders. The shepard then carries the sheep around for about 2 months until the leg heals, and then after that the sheep will never leave the shepard because he's learned how dependant he is on the shepard. Is that not an amazingly sybolic story of our relationship with Christ? When we stray the path, sometimes we are hit with some of the hardest trials ever, and this is to humble us. Then we are nursed back to health and safety by Christ the Shepard, and afterwards, we should truly learn out dependance on him. I'm beginning to absolutely love symbolism, it lets you learn SO much. I also read a cool thing this week about how in Christ's time, there was a man who asked to be His servant, but wanted to go back and bury his dad who had just died, and then return to serve Christ. Then Christ said, "He who putteth his hand to the plough, and turneth to look back, the same is not fit for the kingdom of Heaven." With me being on a mission, this really just hit me how i need to be COMPLETELY focused in this work. 100% This had really helped me to forget about the dumb things that don't matter that I  was holding onto and letting drag me. With all of us though, we need to think this way with our bad habits or old natural man ways. We seriously need to just learn to drop those things that are holding us down, and serve the Lord. I know that this is where i'm supposed to be, and I love it. Even though every day is hard and has plenty of trials, I love it. I'm learning so much and the Lord is shaping me so much, and nothing could feel better than having Him change me. I love you all, thank you for all that you do.
Hurrah for Israel!!
 -Elder Ballard
This little mushroom is growing in our bathroom door! Our apartments weird...
This little plant is growing in our dishrag :D shows how often we clean...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Critters



video


Blisters, tests, rain, and miracles

Well, this week was defintely a different one for me. This last sunday was the first week I haven't had a baptism. It's defintely a blessing that I can say this, not because we didn't have one, but because we've been so blessed to have ones all those other weeks. We had 2 ladies that could have been baptised, but one of them randomly decided to leave and travel for a week or two, and the other one decided she didn't want to pay tithing or live the law of chastity... Hmm, go figure right? Haha. But oh well, luckily in Brazil when you lose and investigator, it just gives you more time to go find new ones. This past week Elder Fife and I found TONS of new people. Sunday was definitely a test for us though, because we woke up that morning with 14 PEOPLE to get for church. This was by far a record for me, 14 people saying they'll come to church is seriously unheard of! We woke up so excited and just so ready to work. We left at about 7 am, and to make a long story short... only 1 person came to church. All 13 other people either didn't answer the door, decided to leave and travel, didn't wake up, or in one lady's case "decided it was easier to go to the church down the road" AAAH! Talk about the biggest let down ever!! Aww man it was so tough. We had done EVERYTHING possible to get these people to church, and then the gift of agency took it's toll and we lost them :( It was really hard recovering from a hit like this, but one thing I've learned is when people fall like this, what's going to get us new people faster: Giving up and not working? Or continuing to knock doors, teach lessons, and find new people that will actually progress. Obviously the latter, so that's what we did. The Lord truly was testing us because between sunday night and monday afternoon, we found some amazing people. One family is a married couple named Hederson and Eva, with two kids ages 5 and 2. The dad had seen missionaries walking in the street plenty of times, but never had had the guts to ask what they were doing. The first lesson went AMAZINGLY with them. They were saying things like "Man this is what I've been looking for for SO long!" and "I didn't even realize that a church needs the authority of God to act!" and Eva even said, "This is perfect because I know for a certainty that the pastore that baptized me didn't have authority." It was almost too good to be true. We gave them the Book of Mormon and just quickly explained that we would teach about it the next time, and that it was a proof of what we were teaching. We went back yesterday, and before we even taught anything, Eva was talking about how she'd read and understood a lot of the BoM, had prayed about it, and already knew it was true. Then she went off talking about how cool it was when Nephi killed Laban and all this other stuff like that. After one visit she had already learned for herself the reality and truthfullness of the BoM, and had already read till like chapter 10. Talk about golden elect, what a blessing. This is seriously one of those families that we have little or no doubt will one day be sealed in the Temple, and Hederson even said that he wants his kids to grow up and be missionaries. I can't even explain how much of a blessing this family is, and we are so so so excited to continue teaching and helping them to get baptized. It is just the most amazing feeling when someone taps into the importance and value of this gospel so much like this, ah I love it. We don't know if we'll have a baptism this sunday, but the week after regardless is going to be absolutely amazing!! I am so blessed to be a part of this work. I'm learning so much about me, about the gospel, and about the Savior every day. I couldn't ask for more blessings than what I'm getting now. The language is coming a lot faster, I'm getting a lot more used to the culture, I'm learning how to teach better, it's amazing. I've been getting blisters about every day in the same spot on my feet lately, but really little blisters are a small price to pay for this work aren't they? :) Always focus on the rewards and blessings we are promised and I know we'll never lose hope. Never. I love this gospel and our Savior Jesus Christ with all my heart. This gospel and the light it brings is so priceless! I love being a missionary!! I love you all my friends and family, thank you for your prayers and support!
Hurrah for Israel!!
  -Elder Ballard

Bit o Brazil -
 I haven't done one of these in a few weeks, so this will be kinda big :) Here in Brazil all the little kids are HUGE on flying kites. They don't just like it, but they're really skilled at it too. Also, to make it even more intense, they make a mixture out of crushed up glass and glue, and coat the kit strings with it. Then, when multiple kites are flying in the air, the kids have "Kite Wars" and maneuver the kites into each other's strings and cut the other people's kites down!! Once a kite is cut it's free game for whoever can get it. So crazy :D Even more crazy, sometimes the kite strings get strewn over powerlines and roads and stuff, so the motorcycles here have a thing that looks like an attenae on the front, and it protects the rider from getting his neck cut from dangling glass string :D Crazy eh? Also, I saw a mistranslated shirt here that was going for "Kiss me baby!" but it said, "Kiss my baby!" Haha, I got a good chuckle out of that :)



video

- BIGGEST lightning bolt I've ever seen in my life. It hit like 500 feet in front of me... It burned out the lightbulbs in the house we were waiting in.. Absolutely insane! I couldn't stop shaking for about 10 minutes!!


Thanks to former Brazilian missionary and big brother Austin for the explanation of groceries!
  Redge said it all cost like $12