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, January 25, 2012

SO many blessings... Where do I even start?

Oh boy was it an amazing week or what... Seriously, this one's going in the record books :)
Well I'll try to explain everything that happened this week, if I can haha. So last sunday, I got a call from the mission president telling me that he had gone to a stake conference in the BH Lest (Beautiful Horizon East) stake, which Vespasiano makes part of. He said that at the end of the conference he was able to meet Jorge, who was that guy that I found in like November when I was there w/ Elder Gonzales. I think I already talked about him, but he found a Book of Mormon miraculously in on of his cross country truck driving duties. Anyways, Jorge told Pres Parrella about the story, and that he would be getting married and soon after baptized on the 21st, or saturday. President called me up to authorize me to go back to vespasiano for that night to baptize Jorge and Helena!!!!!! I have never gotten such an amazing phone call EVER!!! I seriously couldn't sleep sunday night, and then this last saturday I was able to go back, and see Jorge and Helena all over again. They're the ones who fed us lunch on Christmas day, and we have just had a super super strong bond with them ever since we've met. It was such a massive blessing for me to be able to go back and baptize them, and most important just see them finally make that step in the gospel!!! They've been waiting since like mid november for their marriage to finally happen, and this last saturday things FINALLY worked out!!! I was and am so so happy for them... You could just see in their eyes that they already have a huge desire to stay firm in the church and one day go to the temple :) I LOVE working with families!!!

  To top the week off, sunday morning we went to Euler's house to talk with him and see if the doctors had taken out his IV thing. He said that they still hadn't, but then he said that he'd just decided to trust in the Lord, and accepted an idea we'd given him a few days earlier of just wrapping plastic around his leg so that water wouldn't go in. Earlier he'd been scared to do so cuz if even a little bit of water entered in, it'd get infected and he'd have to be put into the hospital to recover. But on sunday morning, he had a totally different attitude. He just said, "Alright I've been waiting for this baptism long enough. Let's wrap my leg, put it into God's hands, and everything will work out fine." So we went to church, the meetings were awesome, and throughout all this he was perfectly calm and confident. We ended church, went into the bathroom, and wrapped his leg with a ton of saran (I don't know how that's spelled) wrap and packing tape (sophisticated isn't it =D ) and then did his baptismal meeting. Just to help with his leg and everything the two of us entered the font with him, but as he was about to decend the stairs into the water, he paused for a second, bowed his head, and said a silent prayer. Obviously we didn't know what he said in that prayer, but you could just feel him telling the Lord, 'I know that by entering into this water that there is a chance of me getting extremely sick, but I trust you Lord. Please let everything work out ok.' Man it was a touching moment... It just made it all hit home just how much confidence he was putting in the Lord. Elder Cerutti said the ordinance, Euler simply said, "I'm ready" And then he was baptized. There's been few times when the Spirit was so strong at a baptism like that. As he climbed the stairs to change his clothes and check to see if the IV had gotten wet, he said, "It doesn't even matter if it did get wet! The Lord is in control. Even if I do get sick, the Lord is in control." Can you believe how much faith he has? I did kinda a self evaluation and have thought of how many times I am willing to put my complete trust in the Lord like that. Man, I can't even express my gratitude for that day and that amazing man's baptism... This mission is such a blessing.
   Well, that's about all the blessings I can express in the email today haha, but things are just amazing here. I am absolutely loving every minute of my mission... I am learning so much and even though I still have 8 months left, I have such a strong feeling of urgency!! Even though 8 months seems like a decent chunk of time, I have SO much more that I want and need to do!! This gospel is so great... I am so grateful to be out here and so grateful that the Lord is blessing the lives of all you back home. Hurrah for Israel and até February!
    -Elder Ballard

- I made doughnuts for a ward activity. I finally found
powdered sugar so I was able to frost them!

Look at the size of this hill... it's madness :D

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

8 Men at Church, 2/3 mark, and the Sun finally arrives!!!

Never ceases to annoy me how the human race is never EVER satisfied with the weather. I was annoyed with the rain that I was always wet, and now that the sun came back I'm annoyed about sweating and being sunburnt haha. Once a Rexburgian always a Rexburgian.

Well this last sunday was about the most miraculous that I've had in a while. We had like 3 men that had firmly agreed to go to church, but when sunday arrived out of nowhere we had a bunch of others decide that they wanted to go! 2 of them went to churches in other cities in Minas, one arrived like 15 minutes late, came by motorcycle, and another 5 came with us missionaries. It was amazing how the Lord is beginning to bless this area, cuz this group needs Melchizedek Priesthood holders SO badly. Out of these 8 guys, it's looking like at least 4 of them have extremely good chances of baptizing, and even better, they have other friends whom they're inviting to go to church as well. It's amazing how the Lord blesses each area with exactly what it's needing. Euler is super super anxious for his baptism. He went to the doctor yesterday and every single time he just sits there and hounds them to take his IV deal out. We don't know exactly when, but the way his faith and prayers are growing, I know it'll be soon :)

   So last saturday was my 1 year in Brazil mark, and I read back on some journal entries from when I got to Brazil, and it is SO funny how culture shocked I was!! I'm super excited to show you all some of my journal entries cuz they are quite honestly really humorous. I've changes so dang much this last year... It's amazing what the Lord has helped me change and what He's helped me become. Sunday marked my 16 month mark... And as strange as that is it marks my 2/3 mark of my mission!! AH!!! That scared me when I realized it! I don't understand how it's been an entire 16 months since I've left... It blows my mind imagining how much I've changed, and how much all of you have changed, and everything else. Each day seems to pass so quick that I feel like I can barely keep up with it. The time in between my morning prayer and my night prayer seems super fast... I'm sure every missionary feels this way but it's totally taking me off-guard haha.

   Well, this next week looks like it's gunna be one of the most eventful and exciting weeks of my mission, we have SO much potential to help these people get baptized and help this little group grow!! The people here are amazing, and I am just loving every minute out here. I've been reading 1 conference talk p/day ever since I got Mom's package, and is it not such an enormous blessing to have these living prophets? I can't believe how simple yet how profound their talks are. It's such simple doctrines and principles but putting them into practice is having such massive and profound differences on the way my life goes. I am so grateful for the many many priveleges we have as members of this great church. Let's never take it for granted and be examples of the believers!!! Hurrah for Israel!!!

   -Elder Ballard

- This place is called Canada cuz it basically has pine trees!
 I have no idea how cuz I've never seen even one pine
 tree in any other part of the state. Interesting eh?

Here we have church at 2pm, so instead of making a big
 lunch the members make breakfast, it's delish.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Canada! The name fits area well :) And a whole year in Brazil?!

Kinda weird swapping areas yet again, this one was a big change for me, but I'm loving it already.

Well, Jardim Canadá is awesome. It's a super small area of just 2 bairros (pronounced buy-ho, it basically means neighborhood, but in american terms it'd be more like an elementary school district: Adam, Lincoln, etc. little bigger than just a neighborhood) in comparison with being 4 cities in my last area. This area is called Canadá cuz it's like the coldest place I've ever seen in Minas Gerais. It's been raining almost every day since I got here, my fingers are actually like slow-moving cuz of the cold, and I'm actually sleeping with a blanket!! It's actually almost a sentimental experience seeing my breath again, it's been FOREVER since that's happened. 

    So it's kinda weird cuz this sunday, the 15th, will mark 1 YEAR in Brazil!!! I can't believe that it's true, but man... a whole year. Missions are like dreams cuz thinking back on other areas and companions, it feels like it didn't even happen. I"ve had SO many experiences and miracles... it's amazing how much happens on a mission.

  Well, enough about the weather haha. This area isn't even a ward or branch, it's just a group still! It's got like 35 or 40 active members, and we take a bus to use the chapel of a different ward about 30 minutes away. Even though it'd seem like a difficulty on the surface, the small group of members here are super super firm and excited about the church. Like the other branches I've passed through, the church ends up being a lot more like a family instead of just a big group of families. The people we've taken to church this last week have loved it. One guy is named Euler, (Eh-oh-lur) and he has a baptismal date marked for this sunday. His daughter was confirmed on sunday, and the week before I got here she was baptized. Euler is a simple guy that has a huge faith in Christ and Heavenly Father. For these last 7 years, his kidneys haven't been working so 3 times a week he has to go to the hospital and they do that treatment where they pull his blood out, clean it in basically an artificial kidney, and put the blood back into him. 2 weeks ago the doctors put in like an IV thing in his thigh so that they wouldn't have to put a new needle in him every single time, but the problem that we have now is that this IV deal can't get wet. So, he won't be able to get baptized until the doctors take the IV out and do the treatment normally in his arm. We're praying like crazy and we know that everything'll work out. He'll go to the doctor tomorrow afternoon, so everyone and anyone's prayers for him would be greatly appreciated :) I know it'll all work out, this guy has amazing faith.

  My new comp E. Cerutti is awesome. He's an extremely mature elder, especially in the spiritual sense. The two of us have been making goals and having studies where the spirit is super super strong, and it's opening my mind to how important studies are. I'm reading the conference talks from october, and especially the ones from Priesthood session that I wasn't able to hear live, man... Talk about inspiration. I love this work, I'm so happy to be on a mission, and I am constantly trying to be the best and better missionary that I can. I love this church, we are SO blessed to have prophets and apostles, the truth about our Loving Savior, and the countless other blessings like Temples and the Book of Mormon. Thanks to all of you for your prayers!! Hurrah for Israel!!!!

    -Elder Ballard

Elder Cerutti and I

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012 brings some crazy changes with the mission. Let's do this thing!!!

Interesting how the years even end up passing by fast... I was blowing my own mind remembering back to the year 2000 and a vivid memory of me and Breck Wightman hitting pillows on a plastic basketball hoop in excitement :D Haha so ridiculous how memories can last so long...

   Nat - I loved hearing about the Christmas dance!!! I will agree with you that I as well want really bad to have a wife that dances ballroom, or at least a wife that will want to learn. Since you obviously can't dance on the mission, I find myself having dreams sometimes about swing or something and in my head my brain is like, "Hold up... it's been WAY long... do I even remember the steps?" Haha, I'm gunna relearn when I go back to BYU for sure.  

  Aust - I agree with you Aust that portugues is gunna be so fun to have in the family. I sure hope that we can teach other members of the fam, future kids, my future wife, etc. It was so awesome hearing about that restaurant... I've been to Tucanos once, and it was sooo good. It's weird re-eating foods here that I vaguely remember from before. That one that you're talking about sounds even better cuz of the brazilians mesmo. I'm so sad hearing about the lack of Guaraná that'll happen after the mish :( So so lame... It's funny you talking about the mission dying off at the end, cuz in this mission, 80% of the missionaries have less than a year out here, so there's hardly anyone left that I know from the beginning... super weird. 

Alan and Jardell
   Well, I'll be kinda quick since yes, I did spent a little more time than usual reading emails haha. BUT, it was completely worth it, thank you. So, new years was really good and I couldn't even sleep cuz of the sporatic fireworks that people were setting off all night haha... But the work went good and we had a great week. Last sunday we took a guy named Alan to church, and talk about being elect. He loved church, told us how he's already going to tell all his friends, already brought his friend Jardell to a message, wants us to teach his mom, it's amazing cuz he's already full of the missionary spirit. I would baptize him this next sunday, but today I was transferred again :) 

  My new area is called Jardim Canadá (Canada Garden), and who would have thought that I'd get to serve in a place named after Dad's mission :D My new comp is named Elder Cerutti (Ser-ooch) and he's from the south of Brazil. He seems like an awesome missionary, and we're super stoked to work here. I'm just barely getting to know the area, but I'll tell you more how it is next week. Things are great here and I"m loving this start of the new year! Happy and prosperous new year to you all!! Hurrah for Israel!!!

Zilvande and Jair's goodbyes
   -Elder Ballard 
This is Fatima and Jefferson. She's the missionaries "mom" here, I ate with her on New Years, and Jefferson will get his mission call this month. I love the city of Vespasiano :)

Helena and Lucas. Jorge was working so we couldn't
 say bye :( But they'll get married and baptized
 on the 21st of Jan! I'm so excited for them!!!
This is Daminão and his family, they should be
 finally getting married and baptized here in a couple months