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 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

No comments:

Post a Comment