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!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Transfer time! On to Varginha!!

There goes another area and another companion already haha... President sure likes to juggle missionaries :D 
  Mom -I have heard gossip as well about elders using ipads in the future instead of the good old fashioned Area Books, and we'll see what happens. Ha, it's obviously years and years away from happening here in Brazil, but maybe it'd actually work out with american elders who have cars and stuff. I did in fact understand what you retold about Satan shoving obedience on all of us. It was his plan in the pre-existence, and continues until today. Everyone always thinks that obedience will tie us down, and if you aren't doing it with the right mind set or open heart, it really does feel like it holds you down. I've really learned that with the rules in this mission. This mission is super strict with rules and I love it haha.
    Well, this last week was a great one. That family that we were working with is progressing really well. The son, Carlos, went to the EFY dance (the youth had EFY like a month ago, so he went to Belo Horizonte with the ward youth) and really liked it. Lamely enough, the dad had an emergency at his work place so he had to take Carlos and Beatrise to work with him, so the baptism didn't happen on sunday. It was a bummer that it didn't happen, but we remarked them to be baptized on the 1st, in between the two sessions. Everything was going as planned, they are all reading the Book of Mormon, stopped drinking coffee, and then out of nowhere on Monday, President calls with yet another transfer call :P Haha, told me that I'd be getting transfered to a city called Varginha (Var-JEAN-yuh) which is about 5 hours by bus away from Belo Horizonte. E. Carneiro was also transfered so we had to pass this family on to the two new elders that would be coming into our area. Even though I would have loved to stick around and watch them be baptized, I'm just happy that they WILL be baptized. When we said goodbye to them they were super firm about saying that they will be getting baptized and they'll send me the picture.
   So that's why I didn't send email yesterday, we got to BH from Sete Lagoas at like 9 in the morning, went to a training session, went back to the bus station (it's the bus version of an air port haha) and sat around until 2:30, grabbed our bus, and arrived here in Varginha at 8 pm. My new comp is named Elder Leite de Sousa (leite means milk btw haha, cool middle name eh?) and he's from São Paulo and is just barely starting his mission. It's kinda funny as we talked on the bus and up until now, cuz it's so crazy to think that since Brazilians only stays in the MTC for 21 days, a month ago he was still a normal person sitting in his house with his family :D At the point where I'm at, that pre-mission life thing is SO distant feeling. Family, home, the US, Austin probably knows what I'm talking about that it all just feels like a dream. I'm really excited to work with him though. He's got a super strong desire to be obediente and work hard, so we're gunna just work our tails off and start his mission off good. This morning was the first time we saw out area in the daylight, and I'm really excited. Tons of people, tons of houses, the Branch President told us there's about 120,000 habitants, so it's gunna be an adventure!! It's also a branch which I absolutely love. With conference being this weekend, the rule here is that saturday you can only watch the sessions if you have investigators, so keep me in your prayers that we can take a LOT of investigators to church this weekend :) Especially with the scandalls and crud going on with other churches, I'm so excited to help these people have the relief of hearing true Prophets and Apostles. Well, I don't have a whole lot else to report, I don't really know much about the area yet, only that this city is always called "The ET City", it appears that years back there were alien sightings here or some garbage like that haha, they even have a big UFO monument in the middle of the city, I'll try to snap a pic. Well, love you all! Hope that you all enjoy conference and have a good rest of March. Hope Shandee had a happy bday! Can't believe she's already 12... Thanks for your prayers and love everyone! Hurrah for Israel!!!
    -Elder Ballard

(picture of the family): Sadly the mom of this family was working so we didn't even get to say a real goodbye to her :( But man I loved this family. If they could speak english they'd be such a perfect match for our family :D The dad, Alysom (Al-ee-son) is 42 and works with furniture restoration (Dad's match), the mom Eliana (Ell-ee-anna) is 40 and is like a spiritual power house (even before baptism haha), Beatrize (Bee-uh-trees) is 17 (Nat's match), Carlos is 15 (Tan and Keat), Alice (Ah-lee-see) is 12 and reminds me a ton of Shandee, and Danilo (Dah-knee-low) is 6 (Brig)... Crazy how that all turns out huh? -
This is Elder Leite de Sousa. He's like the first
 brazilian I've seen with reddish tinted hair

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Finding families!!! And a massive religious scandal! Opa!

Another week and another step closer to Conference already!! Good heaven those 6 months passed quick.

The work this week was awesome. We were a little frustrated cuz a few people that were progressing to be baptized on sunday had some problems with addictions stuff, but amazingly saturday night we returned for like the 4th time to this contact that we felt we better teach, who was a 15 year old kid playing soccer in front of his house, but when we entered it was him, 3 siblings, and his mom and dad. We taught the whole family together and they were super SUPER prepared for the gospel! They had recently moved here to 7 Lagoas and the mom and 2 kids accepted to go to church with us. The dad accepted as well but sadly had to travel with one of the kids on sunday. We've been praying non-stop to find families, and the Lord blessed us at like the very last minute of saturday so that they could go to chruch :) They went to church and all 3 of them loved it, at the end the mom said, "This is where my kids need to be raised." We we so grateful to find them, there is literally no better thing on a mission than to find a family of mom dad and kids that are open for the gospel. I dunno when transfers are gunna happen but I sure hope I can stay here haha. I'll have more about them next week.

   On other news, it was interesting how our lesson in church this last week was about supporting our Church Leaders, cuz there's this news flying all over brazil right now about the leaders of this church called "A Igreja Mundial do Poder de Deus", which would be translated The Worldwide Chruch of the Power of God. Anyways, this pastor was filmed during one of there meetings talking to the congregation sobbing saying stuff like, "After some financial difficulties were are faced with the terrible fate that more than half of our church buildings here in Brazil will be closed.... (Remember that he was sobbing uncontrollably during all this) Brothers and sisters... we NEED to help these churches stay open! What I ask of you, what the Lord asks of you, is that 7000 people, need to each donate 1000 reais (brazilian money) so that we can maintain these buildings open and functioning..." The poor faithful people donated, and a couple weeks later the news showed that this pastor ended up using like 7 million reais to buy two massive farms, which in turn he did some business deal to get a whole ton of other money, and after some more investigation they found that this pastor secretly had like 15 cars, 2 yachts, 3 houses, and a whole lot of other junk, and with this huge scandall the police had to get involved, and ended up seizing like 500 million reais worth of stuff that this guy had bought with the basically stolen money of the members. Yeah.... HOLY MOLY right? It's a crazy story and it's calling a TON of attention everywhere here. Even though it's one of those, "got what you paid for" stories, it's SO sad that so many people were and still will be robbed like this. Anyways, all this made me so so SO much more grateful for the leaders we have. I think a lot of times we don't realized just how important and blessed we are to be able to actually have 100% confidence in what the Prophets and Apostles tell us. I love this church so much, now I just hope that the Lord can lead us to these poor people that must have had their faith all but destroyed with this scandall. Well, that's this week haha. Love you all and hope you guys have a good spring break!! (It's spring break right?) Hurrah for Israel!!!

   -Elder Ballard

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Incredibly good weekend :) Hurrah!!!

Hope you guys are enjoying the warmth that's hopefull hitting there, on the boring subject of weather, we had some pretty good rain storms here these last few days. I don't know why, but when you just sprint out into a thunder storm with rain falling so hard that you get soaked instantly, the first reaction is randomly burst into uncontrolable laughter. I dunno if it's because you imagine what a passer-by would think - "Why in the world are two young men in church clothes and ties doing running through a torrent like this? And especially without umbrellas?" Hahaha... I love it, I wish so bad that I could get moments like that filmed.
So, this past week sure was a blessing. We've been working with this lady named Sandra since about the 4th or 5th day that we came to 7 Lagoas. We found her knocking doors and she told us how she had talked to missionaries like 19 years ago when her family was receiving the lessons, but no one was baptized and the missionaries stopped coming. So these past few weeks she progressed really fast and it was great, and originally her baptism was supposed to be on the 25th of February (or 26th, don't remember) but she randomly decided she wanted to wait. It was weird cuz she didn't even know exactly why... She had already passed her interview, was feeling great about the church... Just randomly decided she'd wait till the 10th. So finally the 10th arrived and since she had already had a few weeks of getting to know the members, there was a huge turn out at her baptism. There was like 30 people or so, which, for a week day, is really really good. The baptism was wonderful and once again that sight of her smiling and watching her son be baptized was priceless. Everyone afterwards gave her hugs and welcomed her and it's just the best feeling when someone is really truly accepted into the fold like this. These are the type of people that you don't even have to worry about staying firm in the chruch. To make things better, sunday they both were confirmed, as well as Jandira! Jandira had been having problems with trading her work schedule around to get sundays off, so it was just awesome to see all 3 of them confirmed. The Spirit was really strong, and the way he testified of the reality of the ordinances was really special. I sure love watching the progress that happens as these people take their steps in the gospel. I imagine how happy the Lord is when He sees his children and all of us progressing in the gospel. Since the people I baptized 6 or 7 months back aren't really firm, I'm also getting a taste of just how sad the Lord is when we forget about Him and let ourselve slide off the path a little. The part that gives me hope though is firstly the Atonement and repentance, because no matter how long these people are off the trail, they can always ALWAYS come back. The other thing is the fact that all of us staying firm, is totally our decision. It's not an inevitable thing for someone to fall away, it just depends on the little things we do every day. I'm so grateful for the foundation the Lord is helping me build here. I feel like I'm learning so much and muturing a ton and becoming more and more who I want to be. Obviously I have a TON of stuff to get better at, and a TON of weaknesses to overcome, but I know that the Lord wants us to succeed. What other knowledge could be more hopeful than that eh? Thanks for your prayers everyone, the work is great here, I'm loving what I'm doing, and the work of the Lord will go forward. Hurrah for Israel!!!
   -Elder Ballard

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Reality's starting to hit home... Hard.

Tis really weird thinking how conference is already just around the corner... Seems like we just barely had the last one in October.

  This past week we had 2 days of zone conference, and boy oh boy... It was kinda a startler. The meeting was pretty normal, super spiritual and very motivating. The thing that really took me off guard though was how first of all, looking around at the other missionaries, the ones that I know really well are becoming extinct. There are SO many new missionaries here that I'm realizing that I'm becoming an oldie on the mission, and I feel like it's a huge "already?" Sheesh. One of my good missionary friends Elder Costa went home on monday to go to college, and especially with these Brazilians that weren't ever my comps or anything, it's kinda sad realizing that I probably won't see them again :( At least for a very very long time... Who knows. But then at the end of our conference yesterday we all sang Called to Serve, and just hearing the voices of a good 70 or 80 elders belting "Somos hoje conclamados a servir" really touched me. I talked to the Elder Randall that Austin's friend knows, and he'll be finishing in 2 weeks... He was like one of the first american elders I saw here in Brazil so shoot... it was a wake up call that this mission isn't gunna last forever :( Thinking about how I've already been out for 18 months, it just kills me thinking how I won't have the time that I really want to just work my heart out. President Parrella gave a super strong talk about how important it is to live in the now. He explained how the past already happened, and yes we need to learn lessons from what already happened. He talked about how the future hasn't even happened yet, we don't even know what it'll be like. Then he explained how the NOW is what will determine how our past continues, and what our future will become. He made an amazing promise with us saying how if we stop thinking about what we'll study, where we'll work, who we'll become, who we'll marry and etc. and just focus on the now and how we can fulfill our purpose right now, that the Lord will provide studies, work, opportunities, the right wife, everything for us. It hit me really really hard just how important that is... And even though the way time passing scares me, I realized that nothings gunna change the way it passes, but for the rest of my future I'll always be able to look back on the past and remember what I did with my now. Haha, kinda confusing, but either way it just made me get a renewed fire to seek out and find God's children who are prepared and waiting for this gospel, because there are SO many out here. Even though i'm getting a little scared about my mission, I'm so determined to just burn it up out here. My desire to work is growing every day, and my little lazinesses that I used to have (ex. liking the 3 hour bus rides to Itabira cuz it was some time to sleep) have turned into a desire to simply work and save the Lord's sheep (ex. I HATE busrides now cuz it wastes time when I could be working haha) I love my mission so much... I couldn't ask for a better time of my life or a more miracle-full life in general. I love the Lord and His gospel. Things are great here and I hope that all is well for you all as well. Hurrah for Israel!!! Hurrah hurrah hurraaah!!!

   -Elder Ballard

bit o' Brazil -

  So I think i've done like 2 of these bits of Brazil... but I had a funny one this week. The peep holes that you put on your front doors, here are called "olho mágico", which being translated means "Magic Eye" Haha, peepholes are nice, but I don't think they're THAT cool. :P