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, April 6, 2011

Itabira, Opening an area, Some of Conference, and Even Another Surprise

My joy was full. As well as my sweet tooth.
Every week seems to have more and more stuff that takes me off guard. President sure keeps us on our toes haha.
Well, this week has been absolutely crazy! The new area we opened is called Itabira (Ee-tah-beer-uh) and it's about 2 hours by bus away from the main city. The drive there is beautiful and I attached a little clip of what it looks like. The city is pretty big actually, from what I can tell it's about 120,000 people. The crazier thing though, is that at one point the mission had 14 MISSIONARIES just in this area!!! So now, it's 2 missionaries covering what used to be 28 missionaries... ridiculous eh? But, this area's been closed for almost 2 years, I think the last teaching record we have is from August of 2009, so it's been shut for quite a while. Right now we're living in a little two room mini-house in the back of the Branch President's house. It's crazy small, but it's nice to live so close to the president. They are extremely welcoming and helpful, they always are giving us food for breakfast and dinner and everything. Such great people. The first few days here were based of checking out the little church building (it's like an altered garage/house thing) and some of the members. The members are absolutely exploding with excitement to help the missionaries. In this last week we've already recieved 20 referals. Just to put that in perspective the average referals per week is maybe 1 and a half :D
 So, the responsibility of being senior companion has been quite the calling. I definitely understand where the stress of a mission comes from now. Now I'm the one responsible for setting goals, making sure we're obedient, using the cell phone, calling the district leader, it's kinda crazy! It makes me realize how I was really just like coasting in comparison as a junior comp... Whew. This last weekend was definitely pretty odd. Sadly saturday we didn't even get to go to conference :( It was a huge bummer because of the situation here. We weren't making excuses or anything, but since we just opened the area, it was kinda tough since we couldn't find any investigators in 2 days and get them to take the bus to the city 40 minutes away to watch conference. Luckily though, some of the members in the ward simply brought non-members to the sunday sessions. So, thank heavens, we were able to go for those sessions. Conference sure was weird I'll have to admit. They didn't have the sessions in English anywhere in the church, and it's a rule anyways that we have to stay with the investigators to help them understand. Anyways, general conference speakers speak quite eloquently, and the talks are translated just as complicated. So, with my limited hearing capacities, it was pretty tough to understand a whole lot. Interestingly enough, I got a TON more out of the music than usual. Since that was still in english, I paid a lot more attention to the words, and learned a lot, and the Spirit really testified strongly. Amazingly enough, Elder Scott translated his own talk!!!! I had no idea that he spoke portugues! But I guess before he must have recorded his talk in Portuguese! That was SUCH a blessing just hearing his voice. The talk overlapped about 10 seconds after he had said amen live, so we have no doubt it was him. How cool huh? If anyone knows anything like where he went on a mission or something, I'd love to hear more. Last night we were called with another suprise. We recieved 7 more americans today, so my comp Elder Call, already got transferred this morning. So, I'm already with my new companion Elder Huntsman :D That was fast huh? This makes 9 companions in less than 7 months... Kinda crazy :) 
 Besides conference the language has actually been going really well. This past week I finally had my first Portugues dream!! People from highschool were in it and were speaking to me in portugues :D It was pretty awesome waking up from that I must admit. I haven't had any other full portuguese dreams, but they have had little spurts of it. I love learning this language. I'm not to the point where I can understand everything, but since I'm having to make phone calls and talk all the time in portugues, it's definitely solidifying in my head. Well, the members here are helping SO much. We already have quite a few people for this sunday, and quite a few dates set for the 17th. I learned an amazing quote right before I left Justinopolis, I'm not sure who it's from, but it's something like, "Success in life isn't earned by us, it's given by God." It applies so much for the mission. Cuz really, some of the best missionaries don't have a ton of success, some of the crappy missionaries have success, but I'm realizing that you can't measure success by lessons taught, bapisms, confirmations, or anything. You can only measure it by how much the missionary's life is changed. That's really the only thing we have total control over is ourselves and our attitudes. So, that's my focus right now, and really for the rest of my life. We all need to focus on those things we actually have effect on, and leave the rest in Gods hands. This call as senior especially is extremely humbling. It's really making me learn responsibilty, not only to my companion and this area, but ultimately to God. It's been an adventure so far, and I'm excited to see what other suprises the Lord has for me in the mission. I'm sure it'll be chuck full of them :D Thank you all for everything! I pray that the Lord will bless you all as much as He is blessing me. Thank you all for your prayers, especially this week I really have felt the power from them. Hurrah for Israel!!!
 -Elder Ballard
Elder Call, second shortest companionship so far.

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