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, December 28, 2011

Yay for Christmas!!

The Relief Society in the ward ended up giving us literally 17.1 POUNDS of goodies. Chocolate, cookies, crackers... it's good stuff.

The 4 of us went carolling in the Brazilian sun :)

Last pday this was my attempt to remake the Ballard classic
 Christmas Eve/Tree Decorating dinner

Christmas lunch
Well, firstly my feelings about the call. So, was it just me or did this call go like 5 times faster than the one back in May? I about tripped out when I looked down and saw that 38 minutes had already passed... I feel super bad cuz I feel like I didn't get to talk to Dad and Mom as much as I wanted :( I don't know how that happened this time. Weird how 40 minutes can just come and go so quick. It's kinda funny how calls go like that, cuz I wait like all of December with that being the thing to look forward to, and then it comes and ends so fast that I sit there with that confused feeling of, Well... now what? Haha, I'm glad that we videod it though, it'll be fun to rewatch after the mission and stuff. I'm so happy that those videos all worked out and that you guys were able to watch them :) I forgot to ask you, did you guys watch them Christmas eve? And which ones were the favorites of everyone? Dad said the shower fixing one but I forgot to ask everyone else about the others :) Remember to back those up somewhere, cuz after I sent the flashdrive I didn't have anywhere to save them on my side, so someone pop them onto a harddrive or something please. I am so absolutely thrilled about all the news that you guys told me during the call though :) I can't get over the fact that Karen's pregnant!!! Seriously I was thinking about how epic of news that is, cuz it's gunna make all the siblings, uncles (crazy thinking how Brig's gunna be a super young uncle, 7 years old :D) And it's gunna make Mom and Dad GRANDPARENTS, and Grandma and Grandpa Bratsman, GREATgrandparents!!! Haha it makes me so excited... And obviously it'll be a while in the future, but when I someday get married and have kids, it'll start making that generation of cousins that'll all hang out at future reunions and stuff!! It's such a new concept to me but makes me so excited!! It's funny cuz now I'm beggining to realize why a lot of missionaries like having girlfriends on the mission, cuz I like want to share all this awesome news with people, but you guys are the only ones that I have to share news with :D Haha
  I'm amazed at how the kids are growing up. Tanner about blew me away, and I also couldn't believe how Nat is the age of the majority of my gal friends when I was a senior... And the voice shows that she's all grown up already haha. I can't even image how weird it'll all be to finally see everyone some day. These next 9 months are gunna make it even more weird. Crazy thinking about how Austin'll be in provo too! Cuz with the baby, I'll be the one who'll get to see him/her the most :D But, it'll also give the family more excuse to come down and visit us haha. Speaking of that, I'm gunna forward some of the emails from admissions and what not so that you guys can start helping me with all this BYU junk... sigh... I don't even wanna mess with all this :/ But, lets get it all figured out as fast as we can right?
  Well, as for the area here, the work is looking like it'll take an up turn. The work's been a little slow for the last while. With Christmas and new years it's been kinda hard to find people who are consistently at their houses and consistantly being able to be taught, but we found some really good receptive people that are showing a LOT of potential. The next transfer will be in the first of January, so I'm already a little antsy to know if I'll be getting yet aNOTHER comp or what... oh dear. I feel bad that I'm not having a whole lot to report recently... I dunno, I guess since I've been in this same area for 3 months, a lot of things are becoming kinda routine for me haha. The other day it rained so much that the river overflowed and covered like half of the lower part of the city. Not really covered, only like a foot and a half of water, but that was kinda an adventure :D I sure miss snow though, not gunna lie haha. There I go talking about weather though... pfft, how lame haha. But, all in all I'm really excited ever since that phone call. It's interesting how the Lord helps those calls not increase homesickness, but actually increase the desire to help other families. All 4 of us missionaries were all super pumper ever since the calls :D I'm so happy to hear that everyone's doing well. I hope that things keep going good, and hope that everyone has a happy new years! Crazy how it seems like last new year's just barely happened... 2012 how crazy. Love you all and thanks everyone for the Christmas letters and prayers!! Hurrah for Israel!!
   -Elder Redge Ballard

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas is here again oh Christmas is here again...

Well, I'll be really quick today, but we'll be talking on sunday so not a big deal :) This last week was interesting cuz last pday at 5:30 my comp woke up with a super bad mouth infection where he couldn't even talk, drink or eat :/ So we stayed inside the house for thursday and most of friday. Like Austin's said before, it's TERRIBLE staying inside the house as a missionary... UGH! It was kinda restful at first, but after about 3 hours I started going nuts. Luckily on friday it calmed down a little, he got a penicilin shot (remember when we got those Mom and Nat? Hahahaha) and on friday he was able to start eating soups and soft foods, and by saturday we were back in the field working away. Amazing how fast the recovery process works for missionaries :D
  Besides that, the weeks been really good. We found this family where the parents aren't married but the dad has already been going to the church for 6 months even without being baptized. They were having some major arguments and stuff, but after the whole family went to church, we went back to visit them and things were super super calm, the couple sitting really close and joking and laughing with each other, it was amazing :) Sorry to be so fast and short, but 2 o clock my time on Sunday, we'll finally be able to talk again!! I love Christmas, and the idea of having a Christmas call makes it even more exciting :) I'm gunna make a Christmas style lunch today, so next pday I'll send the pics of how it went. Love you all and hope everyone is having a very merry Christmas! Hope it snows soon as well haha. Hurrah for Israel!! Until Christmas :)
  -Elder Ballard

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Blessed with more baptisms, and Angels We Have Heard... down here?

Hello and welcome to the middle of December!!! Sheesh... I know I'm always talking about it but how is this year so close to being finished?! Everyone's talking about Christmas, and I think the fact that I was in the MTC last september until november made Christmas arrive a little slower or something, cuz being in Brazil and not having even the least bit of cold has tricked me into thinking that it wasn't gunna arrive or something, and man, here we are on the 14th of December already... crazy crazy crazy.
"We love you--Merry Christmas!"
This week was completely chuck full of blessings and truly had miracles happening. These last couple of weeks we've been working with 3 people. One couple is named Jair (Jzha-ear) (<-I dunno if american's can pronounce that all that well, ask Aust for pronuciation haha) who's about 70, is married to Zilvande (Zill-van-jzh) (<-Haha, hard name as well.) who's 58 or so. Anyways, they are actually the parents of my first bishop when I started out here in Brazil. A couple weeks back he gave the referral for us to go there and teach them. We started teaching them and they were hesitant to accept the baptismal date, but said that with them visiting and getting to know the doctrine better, and getting an answer from the Lord, they'd do it. Things were going well, but on like the 3rd visit, we arrived and they were already saying, "Ah, we used to watch our other religion on the TV, and I think we're just gunna stick with that one. Thanks for your help." Instead of just accepting that as an answer, using the Spirit we were able to explain to them the difference and importance of the church, and they at least agreed to continue recieving the messages. The next problem was that they smoked a TON. Seriously, between the two of them they were going through 6 packages of cigarettes per month. Each package has 10 packs, and each pack has 20 cigs. So, that comes out to about 1200 cigarettes PER MONTH!! AHH!!! What death!! So we explained about the world of wisdom, and they reluctantly agreed to "reduce" the amount they'd smoke. Jair was especially bad off, you could tell his lungs were already shot from years and years of smoking. Things started out really slow, they told us, "We have about 8 packs left, so we'll slow down, and when the cigs run out, we won't buy any more." Lame haha. But, amazingly one day, after not seeing them for about 3 days, we got there and Jair said, "Well, as of 2 days ago I haven't smoked anymore. I got sick of the idea of "letting them run out", grabbed the remaining 4 packs, tore up all the cigs, and tossed them out the window. I'm going crazy right now and my body is DYING to smoke more, but I'm done. I'm not gunna smoke more." Our jaws about dropped... The Spirit makes the most amazing changes ever. I always think I'm gunna explain a commandment perfectly and then they're gunna change or something, but it's ONLY the Spirit that can make these changes. 2 days later, Zilvande stopped smoking as well! It was incredible! Then we moved our focus on to baptism. We were reminding them every day and trying to get firm with them to just make the decision. My comp was trying to encourage them to just make the step and get baptized, when out of nowhere Jair exploded on us. "You guys are being WAY too persistant!!! I already changed my life and stopped smoking, and I already told you! I want to learn slow, and maybe in January or February I'll be at the point where I'll baptise." He stormed out of the room, and I about teared up. Seriously no one was expecting it at all. From there we continued a little bit more sensitively, and 2 days later, Jair who'd just been quietly listening to the lesson from the background came up and said, "Look, I need to apologize to you two. I've been really nervous from stopping with cigs, I wasn't having a good day, and I just need to you guys to forgive me for yelling and treating you guys like that the other day." Another jaw dropper... From that apology that he made, things have been smooth sailing, and this last sunday, Bishop Carlos came here to vespasiano and baptized his parents!!! Carlos's wife, daughter and neice (all members as well) were all able to watch, and it was a really special moment. I can't believe the changes that happen in these people over the course of just a few weeks. Definitely a blessing from the Lord, cuz seriously, I feel like we didn't do anything :)
Jair, Zilvande, and their son Bishop Carlos, like I said, he was excited :)

 The other person who got baptized is named Aline (Uh-lee-knee) and she's is just straight up elect. We took her brother to church, he came back and said how much he liked it, so the next week she asked to go to church with us. After going to church last week, we visited her and she said, "Alright, so I've been thinking... I want to be baptized. So, what do I need to do for that to happen?" Jaw dropper number 3 :) She was totally willing to live the commandments, and sunday she was also baptized. Incredible how prepared she was.


  Last miracle I wanted to talk about was something that happened last friday. We had an activity at the church that's basically the equivilant with mutual in the US, but it's with all age groups. We all got there, and us missionaries ended up taking 11 investigators, but just cuz of some problems with planning, at the first there was only 6 members :D Haha, I"ve never seen an activity outnumbered like that. Anyways, I was praying my heart out that it would be a good experience for them, and was praying like crazy for the Spirit to be there. Elder Cavalheiro had the idea to do a musical number between us 4 missionaries. Him and me have decent singing voices, but our 2 comps aren't exactly experienced in singing :) But, I decided it'd be cool to do. So the 4 of us went up there in the front, and sang "Angels We Have Heard on High" and a miracle happened. We started out a little weak, but I decided to just belt it out. I was doing parts to try and make it sound better, but out of nowhere the hymn started sounding really good. The other three we staying on tune VERY well, but then, I started hearing the other parts being sung... I just kept singing but kept wanting to look over and see who was doing the other parts... Then, I could have sworn that I started hearing way more than just 4 people singing. I asked the other missionaries afterwards, and they heard the same thing. But let me just translate the first line of the hymn from what it says in Portuguese, cuz it helped me understand what happened, "Angels descend and sing, peace on earth and glory to God." Wow... I couldn't belive it but I truly believe that we had some extra help with that hymn. I am amazed every day out here at how much the Lord is involved in the lives of every person out here in this world. I love this gospel and opportunity so much.
 Well, sorry to write such a massive email :D But, just know that things are great here, I love this work. Hope that the snow starts to fall soon and I'm looking forward to the chat here in less than 2 weeks!! Hurrah for Israel!!
  -Elder Ballard

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December? What the flapjack?! Christmas is on its way

There went november already... It's the weirdest thing now that I've been out for over a year cuz now I can read back in my journal at what I was doing, ex. back in Houston :D Weiiiird.
I cut the other 2 missionaries's hair today, as well as my own this week.

The apron had been lost in my suitcase, but it fulfilled
 its purpose on my "thanksgiving"

Man, people are putting up their one string of Christmas lights, and I even heard some Christmas music blasting the other day! It is so weird that 2011 is already in its last month.... And even crazier that Christmas is almost here. The weather here doesn't change all that much during the year, so I haven't felt like december would ever come. It's hot, humid, and rainy, so definitely not the tradition that I'm used to :) Really weird imagining how this is normal for the people of Brazil. I'm realizing lately that I am so grateful to have seasons. Idaho is awesome for that. Even though we have whacked out winters and all, it keeps things interesting, always.
 Well... this week wasn't very eventful. We found a family that is showing an amazing amount of potential, but for the moment I don't have a whole lot to share about them haha. This next week has a huge potential for people that can (and will haha) be baptized, and I'm just in a mood to work my tail off now. I've had like 8 weeks or so in this area, and I'm at that totally-accustomed mode where we're just working like crazy. I feel bad that this weeks letter's kinda a dud, but I promise that this next week'll be a lot better. Even though no huge miracles are happening, it's amazing how just the couple hours of study time that we have each day have amazingly big impacts on my testimony. I think that this has been one of the biggest blessings of my mission is that my testimony has moved from just "a cool thing to think about" to an absolute reality. It's been such an amazing experience learning for myself the reality of Joseph Smith, the First Vision, the Restoration, and especially the Plan of Salvation. I don't know how many of you have already experienced this, but having the Spirit testify to you of the reality of the Celestial Kingdom? Talk about motivation!!! This life is so great and the plan of the Lord for out salvation is even greater. I love being a missionary! I can't believe that someday this mission'll have an end... until then though, I'm just not gunna think about it and go to work :) Love you all!! Thank you for you love and prayers! I truly felt the power that they bring during this week. Hurrah for Israel!!! Hurraaah!!! - Elder Ballard

I decided I couldn't let thanksgiving pass just cuz I forgot, so I had a week late Thanksgiving feast. Gravy thanks to Aust's recipe, and I even had the luck of finding jelly!!!