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!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Another companion, another baptism, and another package!

Never ceases to amaze me how unpredictable this mission is... haha I got yet another new companion this last week. What an adventure :P

Well, last thursday we were taken off guard by a call from President saying that the mission got even more latin americans, and now we have 4 missionaries in our area. Elder Cavalheiro is now training a missionary from Uruguay, and I am training Elder Gonzales from Bolivia. They both speak portugues good already, but it's weird swapping companions around so often like this. Guess which number E. Gonzales is? 10th? Nah. 13th? Nope. 15th? You got it. Haha, I don't think i've ever heard of a missionary having so many comps... I don't even have 14 months and already have 15 comps! Adventure isn't it?

  Now I want to talk a little bit about Wellington.

When we first got to this area, we ate lunch at a sister's house, and found out the Wellington wasn't a member. He was there and was really closed and didn't really talk with us very much. He's known about the church for about 8 years, and for the 8 years every month or so he'll go to church simply to gratify his wife. We invited him to go to church that week, and he went. That week happened to be the Primary Presentation sacrament meeting, and his two kids (one's 5 and the other's 6) participated. He said that he really liked it all and felt the spirit a lot. We went back there during the week and he was TOTALLY different. WAY more open and receptive, accepting parts in the Book of Mormon to read at his work, doing his prayers, stopped drinking coffee, it was amazing. We asked him what happened to change him so much and he simply said that seeing his kids and the other primary children singing about the gospel, reciting scriptures, and showing all that they learned really touched him and made him realized that, if his kids were learning so much about the gospel, how much more could he, being the dad of the family, learn being a member of the church. It was amazing how something as simple as a primary presentation could have such a huge effect on him. We tried to mark a baptismal date with him, and even though he was much more receptive, he said he needed more time. We kept going back there and time after time he was just more and more open, until finally, not this monday but the one before, he agreed that "now was his time." So last friday we went to BH, got our new companions, came back to the area, and took them to the baptismal service of Wellington. Man, this was by far the most special baptismal service I've seen on my mission up until now... About 25 or 30 members came to watch and support, the meeting was really well planned and the messages were perfect for him. The primary kids sang the "I love to look for Rainbows" song (in Portugues obviously :P ) and Wellington even cried a little the spirit was so strong. The bishop that was released 2 weeks ago was the one who baptized him, and the Spirit was incredible. The highlight of it all was at the very end where the ward mission leader invited Wellington's wife Gleysielle to bear her testimony. She then explained how 3 years earlier she had made a personal goal with the Lord that in the next 5 years she wanted the whole family to be member of the church, and be sealed in the temple. She then tearfully explained how even with a goal of 5 years the Lord had been merciful enough to make the first step happen in just 3, and the certainty she used when talking about how here in a year they will go to the temple was amazing. It was so touching just seeing her look at her husband, the two of them crying, and just realizing that finally this family was on its way to being eternal!! Man... I can't even explain how amazing the experience was. The best feeling was when Wellington came and talked to us, told us how tons and tons of other missionaries had passed in his house, tried to teach him, etc. but that he had felt something different with us, and just simply said how grateful he was. I know that it wasn't us that did it, it was the Lord and the Spirit that made the difference. All I can say though is I am so grateful to be an instrument in the Lord's hands. It is such a blessing to be able to watch the changes that happen in these peoples lives, and to see a family finally after 8 years, start it's journy toward the temple.
  I learned (and am still learning) so much from this experience. I am SO grateful to have a family that is sealed in the temple... I am so grateful for that truth that we have that we know what we need to do to actually be a family forever. I am so grateful to be a missionary. We've had a lot of trials and difficulties in the path up until now, and I know that we will still have a TON more, but seriously, it is all absolutely worth. I love this gospel with all my heart, I am so grateful for Christ's sacrifice and for the sacrament. My testimony is growing so much every day, and I just simply love this work. Thank you all for all you do, prayers, letters, even just thoughts :) I always say thanks for this but really, it is so appreciated. Hurrah for Israel!!! Hurrah hurrah hurrah!!!

   -Elder Ballard
We ate at a rich members house and man... I miss cupboards filled with stuff like Aunt Jemima buttermilk pancake mix, Betty Crocker frosting, and Kitkats :D haha

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