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, February 29, 2012

Amazing downs clear the way for even better ups :)

Note from Wendi--I kept some of the family stuff on this week since I thought others might find it interesting.

Thanks for the great emails today... Wow I loved them everyone.

  Dad - Wanna know something funny Dad? Last friday I wrote down to ask you "What day is the hunt reunion?" Haha, what a coincidence isn't it? I sure am excited to have those belly busters with you guys again some day, I remember that time when you read about Grandma Bratsman giving a spoonful of honey to the girl who went into the ditch... Man oh man that was SO funny. Anyways, I'll be anxiously waiting for the answer to when the reunion will be cuz I hope with all my heart that it's the weekend after I'm home... I will die if it's the weekend before. In respect to the schooling deal, all's well in my opinion. I've seen so so so many times on the mission how the Lord has control over everything that if it was right for me to go to school during fall instead of winter Who knows what the Lord has got in store for me this fall haha. I'm stoked hearing that Trevor and Rhett'll work for ya! Those two guys sure are great, they'll do super well for sure. It'd be sweet if I could work with Rhett and lay down some portugues with him :) I sure liked hearing about the Patriarchal blessings... As a missionary I usually just deal with the first part of the gospel: faith, repentance, baptism, and confirmation, and a lot of times it's great to hear about the other steps in the gospel like Patriarchal blessings and the Temple and stuff. 

  Mom - Haha... Poor Tanner. I can't believe how big he is but it doesn't even matter what the age is, those stupid medicines totally wipe you out. I remember that getting my wisdom teeth out was an adventure in respect to consciousness. This area that I'm in now is the same area, same house, same ward, same everything as last summer. Sadly the five people I baptized are struggling quite a bit... The ward in general was passing through some difficulties for a while but luckily we're working a ton more with the members this time around and I'm hoping so bad that we can pull the less actives back. I'm excited for the time I'll have here. Random question Mom, any other friends or people I know that have gotten mission calls or married? I get random curiosities every once in a while, and at this point in the mission you don't get letters all that much any more :)

  Aust -. So about that list, I've actually been keeping a to do list since the first of my mission. I've realized that lots of times in the road a random urge or idea will go into my head of something to do, a place to visit, song to listen to, movie to watch, animation/drawing to make, etc, and the best way to rip it out of my head and focus back on the work is simply writing it down in the back of my planner, I instantly forget about the idea cuz I know that I won't forget it, and pronto! Haha, yeah basically it's a pretty decent sized list. I'm definitely not gunna be sitting around with nothing to do after the mission. Especially with drawing and animation ideas, that's why my desire to buy a new laptop rapido is really strong. I've developed a massive desire to learn WELL piano as well after the mission. Even though I never have time to play or practice here on the mission, if I ever have 10 minutes of free time during a baptismal interview of one of my investigators, I go into the chapel and mess around a little with hymns, and I'm miraculously improving my skill somehow... It's really weird but awesome I must say. Man Aust, I'm so stoked about your baby!! It's such a new concept for me to imagine that you're actually gunna be a dad and that Mom and Dad are gunna be grandparents... I'm so excited to know though!! I laughed about your 'baby being modest' comment haha.

  Well, today being the 29th of February, today's my 5th half birthday of my life!! Haha, and mind-blowingly enough marks 6 months until my last pday... Wow that scares the crud outta me... I really can't even wrap my head around that!! I have SO much more that I need to do! I love this mission so much and it feels like it's just slipping through my fingers... My President told me about 9 months back in an interview that one of the best pieces of advice he could give me would be "To never EVER stay in my comfort zone, ever. Not on the mission, not in my life." And I think the Lord has ways of doing that always. Time passing fast when you're liking the current situation, there's always a way haha. 

  But boy oy oh boy this week was crazy but great. I was able to readjust really well to the area and so the work is going great. This last week we had a lady, Sandra, that was progressing to be baptized last sunday but then saturday when she was interviewed she told us that even though she passed, she wouldn't be baptized until later. We were kinda confused cuz when a person passes the interview, it's totally normal to be baptized the next sunday. She went to church again, loved it again haha, and left the church really quick without us even being able to really talk to her... Hmm. Sadly sunday morning there was a confusion with our other investigators as well as with Jandira to be confirmed, and we arrived to church late and we missed the sacrament :( Wow, you never realize how extremely important the sacrament is until you go a week without it. Even living dis-attached from the world as missionaries do, you seriously just feel so much heavier and slow. Luckily since it wasn't our fault or anything, the Lord was really merciful with us and we got this amazing spiritual boost after church. We found three new people who accepted to be baptized on the 11th, and went back to Sandra and just found out that she wanted to learn more about a few things, and basically set her own date for the 10th. Since sunday, we have had these amazing miracles happen that have been purely the Lord leading our path. It's really interesting the way things work, cuz we always seem to pass through the cruddy low points so that we can realized how much we need the Lord or the Sacrament or whatever it might be, and once we're humbled, the Lord helps us return with even more strength and faith than ever before. These next weeks are gunna be great though, I'm super excited for the work here. Hope alls going well everyone, happy leap-day to you all! Hurrah for Israel!!

   -Elder Ballard


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Count your countless blessings!

Allo to all! Well, this week was yet another week of countless blessings... This mission just gets better and better and better :)

   Well cuz of college scholarship essays this'll be really fast. We were absolutely blessed with one of the very most elect baptisms I've seen on my mission. Her name is Jandira, she's 25 and about 10 days ago she moved to 7 Lagoas and ran into the missionaries that were here before us. She went to church 2 weeks ago, absolutely loved it, and then was baptized this last sunday!! Seriously she is SO prepared, and it is so apparent that she was led here by the Lord to find the church. She's unmarried and has even told us about her desires to serve a mission here in a year!! It's amazing :) We are seeing so many blessing for these next weeks, we are finding people that are needing the gospel so much... Seriously every single day new people are showing up out of nowhere. I love this mission so much.

   So, my companion Elder Carneiro, after I talked to him some more, I found out that he was baptized 6 years ago when he was 15, and until now is the only member in his family. Last week when he checked his email, his parents went to church for the first time!!! To make things even better, this week he got emails from his dad and mom saying how much they loved the church, how they're reading the Book of Mormon, and seriously, we both about exploded with excitement. It is just a totally different thing when you can look at missionary work from both sides of the situation like this. I'm so excited to head to work this week, I just love everything about being out here :) I love Brazil, I love the people, the language, I'm just SO happy :D Love you all! Thank you for your prayers and I pray that all is well with you! Hurrah for Israel!!

  -Elder Ballard

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Return to 7 Lagoas!!!

Haha, what do ya know, I'm now back in my old area of 7 Lagoas!! It's really trippy getting back here into the same apartment and same streets and lan house and everything. I'm stoked though cuz it simply means that the Lord has more people here that I didn't baptize the first time around, so now it's time to find them and help them receive the gospel!!

So, the last week in Jardim Canada was amazing. 2 saturdays ago we knocked a ladies door and she came out and said, "I've heard of you guys. My friend told me that all you guys do is pass in people's houses and invite them to be baptized in your church." (Usually people like this are SUPER closed and never accept even a visit.) E. Cerutti, "Yep that's us! But it's not in our church, it's in the Chruch of Jesus Christ. Can we come in and explain about the church for you?" She let us in and we taught her, Elizângela, and her 11 year old son. At the end, we invited her to be baptized on the 12th, and she was really iffy and didn't really accept, and just said she'd visit the church, but the Marcos, the son, said "But can I be baptized?" This called all of our attention and we explained to them about the church and marked to take the to church the next day. We took them to church and fasted that all the investigators that went to church would be able to feel the Spirit really strong and feel that the Lord's will for them was to be baptized. They watched Roni's baptism, and when we went back the next day, they BOTH were super open and excited about baptism!!! Over the week, she happily accepted to pour all her whiskey and homemade rum down the drain, and Marcos was hilarious when we explained about coffee. He asked his mom if he could pour the coffee out, she accepted and he went outside to poor it into a potted plant, and as he walked out he said, "It's a good thing that this plant won't be getting baptized!!" Hahahaha, we about died laughing. They progressed amazingly, and last Sunday they were both baptized!!! I baptized Elizângela first, and then Marcos, and the best feeling was baptizing him and looking over at just how proud she was of her son. Marcos has been telling us basically every day how excited he is to go on a mission. It was such a Spirit guided process for them cuz we don't even know what we did. I've never arrived at a person that's said, "Ah, I've already heard of you guys, etc" and has such a fast and stong conversion like they had... So amazing the miracles that Heavenly Father does in such a short amount of time.

Well, yesterday PResident called me up and told me that I'd be returning to 7 Lagoas with my new comp Elder Carneiro! He's from a city in Bahia called Serrinha. I've been talking to him and he's almost positive that he actually saw Austin when he was serving... Aust do you remember Ala Serrinha or Estaca Kalilândia in Feira de Santana? If you passed there then it was definitely you cuz he's almost positive he's seen you, I showed him a pic and everything. Wow would that not be nuts?! Sweet eh? 

I'm excited to help this city out again!!! At first I was a little weirded out to hear that I'd be going back to the same place, but then I've been thinking at just how many people I"ll be able to return and help! I already know the area so I won't waste time being lost, so I'm just gunna hit the ground running and go to work!

  Love you all so much! Happy v-tines yesterday, and how everything is going great with everyone! Until next week and Hurrah for Israel!!!

    -Elder Ballard

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Jardim Canada is blessed with another man!!!

Rone before his baptism!! His 8 year old daughter
 Julia should be getting baptized soon as well :)

   I'll be kinda quick this week, but this last sunday the Lord blessed us with the opportunity to baptized a man named Rone (Ho-knee) About 3 weeks ago we were kknocking doors and we weren't finding anyone. We knocked this one house and it was just people who were super closed... didn't even listen to us or let us in. As I was about to walk off, E. Cerutti looked around and saw a guy looking out of his window at us. He got his attention and we went in and taught him. He went to church with us a couple times, and the only thing that ended up holding him back was that he was living with this lady that's his girlfriend/fiance/wife thing... Basically they didn't know if they were gunna get married or keep living together or what. It was confusing. Anyways, after those two going to church together, starting to read the Book of Mormon, praying together, all those simple things, they stopped fighting and arguing, and decided that they probably wanted to get married. The girl, Patricia, decided that she'd go back to her family who lives in São Paulo to think things over and make the decision about marriage. So she went back there last week, and this allowed Rone to finally be baptized!!! It was amazing the day we did the baptismal invitiation: "So Rone, will you follow the example of Jesus Christ, and be baptized in His Church?" For you people who haven't served missions, if the person isn't elect they usually pull the, "Ahhh... I was already baptized in the Catholic church." or "Ahh... I think it's too soon for me to think about." But Rone, simply replied and said, "It's obvious that I will." Wow... it blew me away. Rone changed so much in the few weeks weve known him. He used to spend his weekends hanging out at bars, and getting into trouble with women, fighting with his girlfriend, etc. But this past saturday the day before his baptism, he spent his saturday picking up his daughter Julia who lives in 7 Lagoas, and taking here to the zoo. He told us that he's never ever done that with her in his life. I can't believe how amazing this gospel is. Even changes like that, to just give him desire to spend some quality time with his daughter... It's amazing what the Lord does. That was the highlight of my week, but I am just so grateful to be out here. I'm just loving my mission more and more with every week that goes by. I love our Saviour, I love this work. Hurrah for Israel!!!

   -Elder Ballard

After some random blessings of luck I managed to find
 Philadelphia Cream Cheese, as well as powdered sugar, so I made a
pumpkin cake/bread thing, and cream cheese frosting!!
 I about passed out it was so good... SO good.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hitting another milestone, and amazing lesson about hope

Well, yesterday we had a mission counsel with some other missionaries and I saw Elder Bitner and Elder Helsten from the MTC, and as I was talking we all realized that yesterday marks our 500th DAY on the mission!!! WHAT?! Holy moly... it seems like it just hit my year mark and now were already up to this? It seems like the more I love this mission and enjoy it the faster it's slipping through my fingers. I'm learning SO much every day and it's just insane that I can't even seem to keep up with it. At the counsel our President taught us a lesson about hope, and wow... Definitely one of those life changing doctrines. Basically he explained to us that true hope is an enduring confidence, that isn't affected by results or circumstances. It means that you'll completely rely and trust on the Lord and his promises regardless of how long they take to be answered, or regardless of how He answers. Basically it taught me that our circumstances are actually determined by our internal and eternal attitude. It has a lot to do with optimism and pessimism, but it's doing wonders. Instead of thinking, aww... this person didn't accept the gospel... I'm trying to think, ah! This person surely knows someone else who the Lord is preparing, and the Lord simply used this person as a link so that we could get the referral fot the other person!!! for example. I'm super super excited for the future and to really put this in practice. Basically I'm learning that our success and results in all aspects of our lives are never determined by our circumstances or situations, but simply by the way we take and use them. I love this lessons that'll help me not just here but throughout my life :) I sure love that about this gospel... and especially about missions. Even though I'm here to pass on what I know and feel for others, I end up learning just as much if not more in the process, and then pass even more for investigators, other missionaries, you guys back home, it's just the most effective and perfect plan!! This gospel truly is inspired by Heavenly Father, and now it's our job to just apply it! Hope that everyone's doing well, thanks for your prayers and letters!!! Hurrah for Israel!!!

   -Elder Ballard

Sorry about the lack of pics... It's raining so much that I don't even like carrying my camera with me.