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, September 28, 2011

Training a Chileno! Miracle chain in Curvelo, amazing, and a new phase in my mission

Boy oh boy.. this past week has been incredible. It's funny how I feel like I'm always talking about miracles, but even though they happen a lot on the mission, I just never get "used" to it :) 

   Well, last thursday I got to go to the airport again and I ended up with a new comp! His name is Elder Cancino (Can-see-no) and he's from a city called Talca in Chili. He speaks suprisingly good portugues which is a miracle cuz teaching someone a language that you yourself learned is kinda interesting. I feel bad though when he's trying to explain a word and we have absolutely NO way of figuring it out haha. He's really excited and has an amazing amount of faith. I love training or working with newer elders because they always have so much faith... I find that just from all the difficult experiences I've passed through tends to weaken a little bit of that certainty that you start out with. Definitely something I'm trying to get better with.

  One little funny that I wanted to share, 2 days ago my comp asked me if the showers here had hot water. The shower heads here are the kind that have wires going into them, and they take a little while to heat up. Anyways, I explained for him how they work, and then he took his shower. About 5 or 10 minutes later he walked out and explained that the whole shower head and pipe (I'll have to show everyone a film where I explain the situation) had broken off of the wall :D So now we don't have anymore hot showers, and I ended up breaking apart on old broken washing machine (hardly a washing machine, it's called a taquina, Aust should know what I'm talking about) and using the drain hose to just shove into the shower "hole" in the wall :) So now it's cold showers from now on. Not a big  deal really with how hot it is here... Flip.

  Anyway, we came back from the airport, and arrived in our area at like 7:45, and just had time to teach one lesson. Amazingly enough, in just that one lesson we marked baptismal dates with a mom and her two sons (ages 16 and 18). I can't think of a better way for a missionary to start his mission in the field :D The Lord sure blesses when you try your hardest and have the faith that He can and will bless you. Sunday that family had some complications and couldn't make it to church, but the Lord blessed us with some other awesome people who went to church as well. Our recent convert Ygor invited a friend to church who loved it. He's only 11 years old so we're working now to get his mom, sister, grandma, and cousin to go to conference so that all of them can be baptized together. Man it'd be an amazing baptismal service :) On top of this, about 20 minutes into sacrament meeting, a member that was baptized like 15 years ago, but it slowly coming back into activity in the church, walked in with about 8 other people. I wish I could have seen my face, cuz when a family of a mom and dad and kids walk in to church, all wearing jeans, tank tops, etc. a missonary REALLY gets excited :D We found out that about 5 of them were a mom and dad and 3 daughters who are neighbors of this less active member, and the other 3 were his wife who's not a member, and his 2 kids who aren't members either. It's astounding the way the Lord works... It's totally mysterious but marvelous at the same time. We passed by their house later that day and they excitedly accepted to be baptized, but just need to be legally married first; a process that takes about 45 days sadly.

   This family as well as Ygor's friend stayed there at the church as well to see the baptism of Rui, and man... probably one of the most spiritual baptisms on my mission. With these last few people who've been baptized, the branch is being SO acceptive of them and it's amazing how much of a difference it makes. Everyone giving Rui a hug and him just beaming with joy... Later this week he's had a few questions about serving a mission (he will turn 17 in december). Absolutely indescribable when a recent convert has those questions. Then these last few days we've just been having miracle after miracle, and this next weekend is going to be amazing. An investigator has to go to church 1 time before the sunday that they'll be baptized, and general conference can count as this for whichever of the 4 sessions, the 9th of october is going to be amazing :) I simply can't believe how much the Lord does in this work, I'm absolutely worthless without the Lord's help, but when we're obedient and truly go to work, these miracles are undescribable. I love this work so much. I'm so grateful for ward and branches and good members that help one another and help these new people become a part of God's family. I hope that I can be that kind of member after the mission, cuz it makes an amazing difference. This Church is true, and nothing, absolutely nothing, will get in the way of this work from going forth witht total force and strength. I love being a missionary :) I can't think of (and truly believe that there doesn't exist) anything so worth it. Love you all! Hurrah for Israel!!!
  -Elder Ballard

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Blessed with another Baptism!! And yet ANOTHER change is in the works...

Swell week here in Curvelo! We've been working a lot, and the Lord blessed us with another convert baptism!
Well, I'll start off with some interesting happenings from this week. Hitting the 1 year mark I realized that my shampoo, deodorant, and hair gel stuff, are finally running out after an entire year on the mission :D Suprizing isn't it? I had a ridiculous salad the other day at a member's lunch. Mom'll probably remember how I don't really like the weird salads with mandarin oranges and almonds and stuff, but this salad took the cake. The vegetable part was yellow and red peppers, tomatoes, cooked pumpkins, cucumber, no lettuce, and then the fruit part was kiwis, grapes, strawberries, raisins, and mango. What the? The problem was the veggie taste mixed with the fruityness and it turned into this weird... man i can't even explain it. Yuck is all I can say haha.

  Alrighty, well this past week Yago (Helena's son and Ygor's brother) had been progressing wonderfully. He's already read a lot in the Book of Mormon, as well as all of the Strength of Youth. Him and his family, as well as another neighboor named Rui (Like donald duck's nephew, hooey (how in the heck is that spelled in english?)) all woke up at like 4:30 in the morning and all went to Sete Lagoas for Stake Conference. Everyone enjoyed it and the busrides to and from were awesome with all the members. We got back into curvelo and then that night Yago was baptized!!! It was so cool cuz his mom did the opening prayer for the baptismal meeting, and it was so beautiful seeing a mom pray with so much power that her and her two sons could stay firm in the church. Such a blessing... I absolutely adore helping out families. Now we're just trying to work on the rest of Rui's family... his parents need to get married but we'll see how it all goes.

  Yesterday we had a talk with President and it looks like this friday we'll get like 6 new missionaries from Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, or something like that, and it looks like Elder Gaertner is going to split and go with one of them, and then one of them will come here to Curvelo with me. So, looks like yet another companion already! So crazy haha. we'll see how it goes cuz it'll be me, an english speaker, and him, a spanish speaker, using portugues (which is both of our second languages) to try and communicate :D What an adventure haha.

Yago's baptism
  Well, these last months or so I've been having a really interesting experience, where I've been feeling like I've been experiencing that thing in the bible that talks about "Him who loses his life for My sake shall find it" or something to that effect. I feel like lately we've been focusing in so much, that it's almost like I've been losing my other life. I think about memories from high school or of friends from before the mission, and it literally doesn't feel like it was me, Redge Ballard, back in that life. And then I imagine what after the mission is going to be like, and it just doesn't work :D It's such a weird feeling, but I feel so much trust and confidence that if I continue to do this more and more... the Lord will put everything in place so that after the mission I will "find the life" that I've seemed to lose already. It's such an abstract feeling, but I'm finding that this year mark hitting so fast has kinda made me realize that I don't exactly have all that much time to serve in this form. I've been trying to learn what the Lord really wants me to do with the work, and piece by piece I feel like I'm learning a little bit. Whew... I love this mission :)

  To finish out, I found a really cool quote that has totally changed the way I pray, and I've translated it from Portugues so it's not word for word. This was by Spencer W Kimball (if I'm remembering right...) "If we don't forget to pray, God won't forget about us. He doesn't leave us, if we don't leave Him. Why then, do men fall away? Why do they lose faith? Because they leave the straight and narrow, neglect their duties, and forget to pray and remember the Lord. This cause Him to remove His spirit, and men are left in darkness... This will not happen to the man that prays in the morning, at noon-day, and at night; who humbles himself before the Lord, and prays to the Lord in his prosperity as well as in his adversity. This man will never fall away." Whoosh, what power. I hope that all of us can pray like the Prophet says here. I've noticed a huge difference in my prayers as I've tried to pray like this, and I know that God does hear and listen to our prayers. Thank you all for all you do! Your prayers truly are felt in my behalf. Hurrah for Israel!!!

- The other day we were walking down the street and found this weird fruit. Green on the outside, with white fruit and black seeds on the inside. It stunk so we didn't eat it, but then later we washed our hands, and what was clear and sticky from the fruit turned into a blackish-blue stain that is finally fading today (5 days later haha) Fruits here are crazy :D

Saturday, September 17, 2011

What the year... It CANT be !!? Blessed with 2 baptisms!!

biggest honkin' cold sore ever

Well, I burned a little time reading all the letters today (not a bad thing haha) so I'll just tell about this week really fast. This past week has been great cuz it was SOLID work. We didn't have to go to BH at all so it's just been straight up teaching. We've been getting like 5 or 6 lessons per day in, so it's been a blessing. The Lord blessed us with the baptisms of Helena and Ygor that I talked about last week, and man was it great. I look back to that night when we found them and it's so cool how the Lord guided us and had them be so elect. Helena's other son Yago (ee-ah-go) that doesn't live with them also came to watch the baptism, and he is absolutely excited for his baptism this next week. We have stake conference in 7 lagoas this sunday so we have to leave on a church bus (it'll just be members and investigators) at 5:45 on sunday morning, so it'll be a test of faith of all the people that said they'd go to church.

  One other thing that I thought I'd talk about is the weather. Last sunday was probably the hottest day I've had on my mission. I don't know absolutely for sure, but pretty sure it got up to about 44 degrees celsius, which is something like 110 F... it was a scorcher. Even though I had my nose cauterized 8 months ago, I've been getting bloody noses again haha. It's crazy cuz Curvelo's only like 2 or 3 hours more north than my other areas I've been in but it's SO hot up here, crazy stuff. We'll see if I stay here for a long time, cuz september isn't even close to being summer here. If I stick around here until december or something, good luck to me haha.

 Well, the work is going really well here, and I've been focusing a lot of strengthening my faith, and my confidence in the Lord is growing every day. I love so much being a missionary. I can't believe that I hit a year today (or maybe it's tomorrow, don't know how it works haha) and I can't even imagine how time is gunna keep flying. Thanks for everything you all do, this church is so wonderful. It is so true!! Oh yeah, I was talking to Elder Helsten the other day, and he told me that while he's been on the mission his parents got divorced. He says that the fault of his dad was simply that he wasn't reading his scriptures every day. His dad is the son-in-law of Elder Nelson...  So I just wanted to give a little word of, I dunno if the word is warning, but just keep on reading and praying EVERY day. No one is exempt to the bad influences that are out there, but I know that doing the simple things every single one of us will stay firm and strong in the gospel. Hurrah for Israel!!!

  -Elder Ballard 

Helena and Ygor!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Man... the running around never stops....

Holy moly... I don't think I've ran around and traveled and stuff so much EVER in my life! What an adventure haha.

Well, I'll be super fast today cuz today is the independance day of Brazil, and we have to hurry and see if the supermarket's open to buy our food. Anyways, this last week has been awesome. We had a day where we walked like 30 minutes out of our way to contact a referral, and I ended up looking at the wrong address, so we ended up in the middle of nowhere. Anyways, Elder Gaertner did a contact with a 13 year old that was in front of his house, and since that day (i think it was friday) we've taught him and his mom. So as of now Igor and Helena will be baptized this weekend!! Ha, it's been kinda a while for me since I've had anyone baptized, so I'm pretty excited. Even though it's been lame not having baptisms, I've learned a TON from all of it. I love how regardless of what's going on, the Lord's teaching something. His thoughts are ALWAYS so much higher than mine, but when it all makes sense afterwards it's a great feeling. 

 These past few days have been nuts cuz on monday and on tuesday we've had training meetings in BH, so monday we woke up at 4 to get to BH by 9, and then yesterday we woke up at 2:30 (that's a new record by the way haha) to get there at 7. The travel is about from... probably Rexburg to like Logan UT, so i've made that trip 4 times in the last 2 days haha... I'm getting kinda tired of buses, but at least I'm getting better at sleeping in uncofortable places :P 

 All in all though the work is showing a ton of potential in this area. The members are really excited and there's TONs of people that are really receptive to the gospel. Since Elder Gaertner's at the end of his mission he's an amazing teacher, and that along with a desire to really "endure to the end" is bringing some amazing results. We had the area 70 of Minas Gerais come and talk to us on Monday and he really helped all of us open our vision to the importance of this work, and I realized how much more I have to improve with my faith and confidence in this work and my calling as a missionary. Even though I've got a TON to do better, I love everything about the work. I know this church is true, and even though I say it all the time, I'm still amazed every time I see it change someone's life so much. I'm so grateful for the trust the Lord puts in His missionaries to take care of his elects that need to come back to the flock. This Church and Gospel are so wonderful, what a privelege we all have to have it in our lives :) Love and miss you all!! Happy Brazilian independance day for you all haha. Hurrah for Israel!!!

 -Elder Ballard

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Craziest week ever, Transfer, Weird Bday :P and The least amount of sleep EVER.

Really sorry about the not writing yesterday, as I'll explain later, this week has been absolutely nuts! Seriously, I don't think I've ever had such a crazy week like this before.

  Well, this was such an insane week. Basically all of it started on monday with my bday. So we started by waking up early and heading to BH. I bought some cinnamon roll type deals to eat on the way, and that was about as close as I got to having a bday cake haha. Then I went into Belo and we had a training with some of the other missionaries of the mission. After that we had lunch which luckily ended up being Subway!!! (see picture) I'm not sure how they do it, but they pull it off to be about the exact same as it is in the US. Good stuff. While we were there, President just told me there that I would be getting transferred for an area called Curvelo. It's about 3 hours outside of BH, and I've already passed there a couple times to do interviews. So after the meeting we went back home and packed up all of our stuff in the apartment. Then we worked for a few hours, and then it was off to another crazy day. We woke up early once again at like 5, headed back to BH, but this time President invited me and another elder to go with him to the airport to get all the new missionaries that were arriving. This ended up being a huge group of 22 missionaries!!! It was crazy going back to the airport cuz it brought back all the memories from my first day in Brazil, and made me realize how fast these last 8 months has flown by. Sheesh. After that we went back to the center of the city and ate lunch at President's house, which (even though basically every missionary does that normally) was my first time doing since I arrived at a weird time when I got here. After that we helped the missionaries trek accross the city to a chapel so that they could be interviewed by President. It was really funny seeing the brand new, white american elders and how afraid they were to run across a busy Brazilian street :) I haven't realized how much I've ajusted to this culture until then haha. Staying there for the interviews took forever, and we finally got them put in their hotel and everything finished up at about 10 o clock at night, so then we caught a bus at 11 o clock at night, and finally got to 7 Lagoas at 1 haha... And by this time I was SO dead. Maybe before the mission going 5 in the morning till 1 the next day was doable, but as a missionary your body goes insane with a schedule this whacked out. When we got into 7 Lagoas, it got even worse haha. Elder Da Rosa realized that he'd left his backpack in the chapel in BH, meaning that we didn't have the key to the door of our apartment building... So, the key we needed was 2 hours away in a locked chapel, and it was already 1:30 in the morning. As we were freaking out not knowing what to do, the Spirit prompted me to look inside my backpack one more time, and I found the key to our individual apartment, but still not the key to the apartment building. We ended up calling a district leader that lives close to us and spending the night (or 2 until 4 o clock haha) sleeping in his house. From there we went back to our house and finally found someone else that lives in the building to open the front door so that we could go up and get inside to grab out suitcases. From there we headed back to BH and got there at like 8, and then transfers happened. We were still helping with the orientation of all the new missionaries and the people that'd train them, so all that craziness got over at like 1 o clock. To make a long story short, or at least shorter, we finally left BH at 4:30, and got to our house here in Curvelo at 9 last night. I slept like a rock and luckily President let us write today haha.
 Whew... I have never been so tired in my entrie life haha. This week was super weird though cuz of turning 20. Even though the day was kinda crazy, I still had some time on the bus to think about how a year ago I gave my farewell talk, had all my friends over that night, and took a bunch of the goodbye pictures and all that. Man.. Time is a weirdo. All in all though it was a good bday. Obviously not at all what I could have ever expected, but now that I've slept last night and am in my new area ready to work, I'm excited and happy. Because of all the stuff that happened this past week I don't have a whole ton to talk about with the work, but now I'm back with Elder Gaertner, and this is the last transfer of his mission, so we are gunna BURN it up here. I'm excited to finally just have a good solid 6 weeks straight of working our tails off. I've never been with an elder whose ending his mission like this, so it'll be an interesting transfer. Thanks everyone for all your bday wishes and letters and especially all the prayers :) I am so happy here and love this work. I am so excited to see what Curvelo has in store for me!! I love and miss all of you, but above all, Hurrah for Israel!!

 -Elder Ballard