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, May 11, 2011

Wondrous Phone Call, Super Firm Baptism, and time is not slowing down...

Well firstly, calling home was a great and terrible experience :D That first call where we thought we were gunna have to wait or something was absolutely horrible!! Before sunday I hadn't really thought at all about what I was going to say or anything, so when Sunday finally came I could barely believe we were actually going to be calling and talking with each other. Especially since we arrived at the member's house a little late, it was ridiculously frustrating. It was kinda humorous Mom, after I talked to you for like 2 minutes and we had to say bye, my brain got really sad. I knew that we'd get it figured out, but it was like my subconscious mind was thinking, "Noooo!!! I'll never get to talk to Mom again!!" and my face got all weirdly bent into a frown, my voice got all cracky, and my lip even started quivering. Haha, I was trying to explain to my companion that he could go ahead and call home and that I'd try later, and trying to talk in Portugues while my subconscious was in a state of distress, let's just say it was a little difficult to explain myself. I'm just super glad that my president is such a great guy and let us go past 5 or I would have died! It was kinda interesting, Elder Fávaro only talked to his mom for about 15 minutes cuz he's only been in the field for like 2 weeks, so they didn't have a whole lot to talk about. That call was so great though, finally getting everything to go through was SUCH a relief. It was weird hearing so many English voices again... Cuz the only english I ever hear here is just other american elders, so just male 19 20 and 21 year olds. Hearing girls, kids, all that in English was crazy. I can't imagine what the last phone call is going to be like :D The call was pretty cool though because that morning and the night before and stuff, I had been praying REALLY hard that the phone call would be a motivation, not a distraction. Even though I lost it at the end there (looking back that was kinda funny as well, I wonder if you guys could even understand what I was trying to say :D ) after the call I pulled everything back together, and we went back to work. Not even a trace of added homesickness or anything like that! It's not that I like forgot everything we talked about or anything either, it was just that the Lord helped me channel all the feelings into gratitude for my family, and the desire to share that happiness and gratitude with our investigators!! The Lord truly is perfect in everything, even missionary phone calls home :) A weird thing that I'm realizing though, is I've been out for 8 months and this was my second call. It's about 8 months until the next phone call at Christmas, but by that time... I will only have 8 months left!!! And then it'll be 4 months to the next call, and then only 4 months till I get home!!! AHHH!!! I can't believe that!! It does not even feel close to that long that I've been out!! I can't believe how fast all this time is going.
   So, this past week has been awesome. We had a leadership training meeting where especially Elder Favaro and I really gained testimonies of the authority that missionaries have, and the truthfulness of the First Vision and the power it has in conversion. Our President did some examples for us and it was AMAZING the amount of authority and faith he used. And just cuz he's the mission president doesn't mean that he has more power to testify about this church. Anyways, that added faith to our testimonies is really helping in our work. Elder Huntsman and I found a lady named Cristiane a couple weeks ago, she's 29, and then Elder Fávaro and me have been teaching her ever since. She loved church last week, and with time became very excited to be baptised. One of the last times we were there before her baptism, she told us a little bit about a sin that had been weighing on her for about 9 years, and it was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen to see here truly experience the cleansing power of the Atonement. She was crying as she felt the guilt for it, but as we showed her the scripture in D and C that talks about the intensity of the Lord's suffering, she truly realized why the Lord had to feel that. It was the coolest feeling being able to say that she would truly be free of this guilt and weight she was feeling that Sunday with her baptism. Her baptism this sunday was wonderful. She wanted the two of us to do the baptism together cuz she was afraid of getting dropped :D I don't know what it is about this area, but as she came up outta the water she laughed!! Just like Marcelino and Perpetua!! It was so cool!! As we've passed back at her house this week, she's already digging in on the Book of Mormon, and she even gave a little testimony at a FHE where she said she knew that this is where God wants her to be, and this is where she's going to stay. Regardless of what other people say or what other people want her to do. It is one of the coolest feelings ever to watch someone grow like she has. The first visit she told us she didn't believe in God, and here she is now testifying of His will in her life. The power of this gospel never ceases to amaze me.
  To finish off I wanted to share a little insight I learned a while back in Jesus the Christ that talks about trials. Talking about what Christ said, it says, "He compared their then present and prospective state to that of a woman in travail, who in the after joy of blessed motherhood forgets her anguish. The happiness that awaited them would be boyond the power of men to take away." I obviously don't know the whole process of labor and motherhood first hand, but we can all get the idea of what Christ was saying. It doesn't matter how bleak, how painful or how hard our circumstances appear right now, the reward of enduring it well WILL come. For us missionaries with difficult investigators, for the trials in school, work, family, or relationships, all of it reflects back to the power God has to give us rewards. I'm realizing a lot that one of the key parts of faith in our lives is the part it plays with agency. One of God's laws is that if we do good things, we'll get good rewards. If we do bad things, we get bad consequences. EVERY good thing we do will bring good consequences. The role that faith plays, is that these rewards, good and bad, don't come instantly. If we paid our tithing and the next day a check for 5000$ showed up in the mail, clearly everyone would pay their tithing. If the second you smoked a cigarrette your lungs started on fire, not very many people would be smoking. God puts this delay of consequences in the process to give us the opportunity for us to exercise our faith and trust in God. I know that God won't neccessarily give me 5000$ for paying my tithing, but I know that He will provide for my family and my neccessities that my family needs. All in all, the biggest good consequence is eventually eternal life. NOTHING can interfere with this reward. No one knows how long it'll take for us to recieve this reward, but it IS the reward we'll get. Now we all just need to show and excercise our faith in Christ and Heavenly Father now by following the commandments now, and recieving our reward in the next life. I love the simplicity of this gospel. I know that Christ did die for us, and that every one of us has the opportunity to accept this sacrifice and one day recieve this eternal happiness. I love the Lord and am so grateful for the opportunity to serve with his name over my heart every day. Hurrah for Israel!!! 
  -Elder Ballard
TENTH companion- Elder Favaro

fish eyes from the eye medicine

Cristiane's baptism!

locked out of the members house where the phone call was planned...

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