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, April 25, 2012

Miracle an entire year in the making!!

We don't have a real washing machine in this area,
 so these pants are so dirt-caked that you
 can 'draw' on them with your fingernail haha
Isn't life great? Haha, I think that's one thing I love most about the gospel is when you just step back and realize how immensely blessed we all are. Seriously, I don't think any of us should ever complain about anything haha. And no that comment wasn't sparked as a result of anything... Just thinking out loud :D

  Well, this last week was incredible to say the least. A couple weeks back a member gave us a reference to a lady named Eni (eh-knEE) who's daughter had been baptized about 6 months ago, and who'd been receiving visits from the missionaries for about a year up until now. The member (her name's Vera) is one of Eni's neighbors and has been mentioning the Church and inviting her to activites for about the last 10 years, but nothing has happened. Eni was going to church for a few months straight a while back, but she didn't get baptized cuz she was dating and basically living with this other guy for like 18 years. When Vera told us about this lady, she told us that she felt like now was the time that she'd be baptized. I don't know what it was, but when she told this, I as well felt that it was her time.
  We started teaching her and she accepted the visits but was giving the same type of answer. "Nah, I'm fine going to church every week but I still have this problem with the Law of Chastity, so with baptism.... We'll see." We taught her and taught her, and then during one lesson the Spirit put a scripture into my head that I'd read about 2 or 3 months ago in Sete Lagoas (I don't have my scriptures with me, but it's the one in Alma when he's talking to his son and says basically, "Bridleth thy passions, so that you might be filled with love."). This scripture was one that I'd randomly used in a baptismal interview that I'd done back in 7 Lagoas to help this other guy with some doubts he had about chastity. Anyways, I read the scripture and helped her understand it, and there was this moment when it just clicked, and without us saying anything or asking her anything, she just said, "What you both just told me is true... Even though I've been dating this guy for 18 years, I'm not happy." When that moment hit, she started crying and it was just so visible that the Spirit had finally opened up her understanding and she realized why baptism was so important. She accepted the baptismal invite and decided that she'd do what needed to be done with her boyfriend. This was 2 weeks ago, and she originally was going to be baptized on the 15th, but 2 days before she randomly called us up, cancelled her baptismal interview, and said she'd wait longer to make the decision. Honestly we were both crushed cuz we knew that the Spirit had touched and taught her. She didn't even go to church on sunday, so monday we headed back to see what happened. During the week before the baptism she told us that she'd been feeling great and super spiritual during the whole week, but on friday randomly she started having some doubts, and these doubts basically just snuffed out the Spirit. Without those good feelings, she started to be confused, and ended up opting to not get baptized. As we taught her and talked through things, she started crying again realizing yet again why she needed to be baptized. At one point she said, "You know what, last week I was feeling something that I haven't felt since the day of my marriage 35 years ago, or the days when my 2 children were born... And I need  that feeling. Mark my baptism for this week and I will be baptized." Man, it's been a while since I've cried out here, but man... Just feeling just how bad the Lord wants here to feel that hope and love was incredible.

   To make a long story short, she was interviewed the next day, and last friday, she was baptized as the opener for a Relief Society Dinner. Almost all the Relief Society was there, and the support was just amazing. It was just so incredible seeing how the Lord was working with this lady basically over the last 10 years so that that day could finally happen. Man, it's hard to even explain the feeling that comes after one of these experiences. I went into the bathroom to change out of my wet clothes and I just couldn't stop smiling... It was like this uncontrollable desire to just start laughing haha :) So, that was the highlight of my week, and man I love this work. Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement. Just hearing how things are doing makes me happy and excited haha. Love you all, have a great week, and soon we'll already be on mother's day won't we? Hurrah for Israel!!!!
    -Elder Ballard

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Obedience is the best thing ever! :D

Really great hearing from everyone this week! Glad to hear that all's well.

   Dad - So the other day I was randomly walking down the street heading to an appointment and started chuckling out loud, my comp asked what it was, and I was laughing cuz I randomly remembered that ChristmasEve talent show where you conducted that Big Band sound file :D Haha, even though it's a good 8 months away, I'm excited for the good old Ballard Christmas Eve. It's funny cuz I think every companion that I talk to about you, every one of them says they want to meet you. Another really good memory, remember that one sunday when my belt broke? So I ended up grabbing one of those black tie down straps in the garage and used it, and that day at church it just happened to be the day when the Priesthood lesson was about personal appearance and we both just looked at each other and I tried to hide the "belt"? Hahahaha... man that was classic.

  Family - I was thinking the other day, remember how funny Austin's farewell was in the IF airport? The way that we all stood there with our faces against the glass just sobbing completely uncontrollably :D Hahahahaha... so funny. I'm glad that mine wasn't so painful and tearful haha. Goooood times.

  So this last week President Parrella, as he was doing interviews with all the missionaries on the mission, started finding some slackage in some of the rules, little stuff like leaving the house at 10:03 instead of 10:00, staying at a member's house for an hour and 5 minutes for lunch instead of just an hour, and he advised everyone to just buck up and keep ALL the rules with exactness, and it was such a cool wakeup call. Not that we were having any major problems, but it was just so cool seeing the difference that a more conscious effort is making. Just as the scriptures say, little things bring about huge differences. The Spirit is way more present in our work, we're seeing amazing changes and miracles in the lives of our investigators, and this week is going to be wonderful. I don't have a lot of specifics to report this week, but man... I just love obedience. I'm learning so many important lessons out here. Me and my comp were talking about rules where we don't understand the purpose, and I realized that many times the Lord will give us commandments that we won't understand the "why", simply because He doesn't want us to have any way of justifying! In 1 Nephi 3:7, Nephi never used the word why. He isn't worried about the "why", he's just worried about him doing his part and fulfilling the commandment. If the Lord clearly explains the 'why', yes it can be a big motive for us to obey. But, if we aren't needing that motive at the moment, we'll justify and not obey! We all know that temple attendance will help our families be more united and happy, but if we think, "Ah, my family is doing really well right now. Everyone's firm in the chruch, everyone's getting along, so... I think I'll go to the temple next week, cuz we're doing ok ourselves." Ehhhnt (<- imitating a buzzer sound), wrong. It all makes a lot more sense doesn't it? Obedience isn't just to gain blessings, it's to follow the Lord. Thanks for your prayers everyone, things are great here. Sorry to not have a lot more to report, but HURRAH FOR ISRAEL!!!! -Elder Ballard

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

BLESSing of an Easter, and celebrating with a BBQ :)

If you look at last year's easter, I had a big old chocolate easter egg, but this year our lack of funds and lack of time, we ended up these little egg-lets (ovinhos de Páscoa), but they were good too :)

Happy Easter this last week! 'Twas the best here in Sion... I couldn't be more grateful :)

    So like 2 hours after I sent my email last pday we already had an incredible miracle. We got a call a few days before about a guy who asked the other 2 missionaries who work on the other side of the city, for a Book of Mormon. He said he'd studied with some sisters that had been here a while before, but had lent his BoM out and never got it back. So we went there last pday night, and this guy, named Odair (Oh-die-ear) told us about a few addictions that he still had, but remembered basically perfectly the story about Joseph Smith and the BoM. When we gave him the book and told him the invite to read and ponder and pray, he accepted and said that that was what he hadn't done the other time when he'd been studying. We marked his baptism for sunday, and he had worries that he wouldn't be ready so fast, cuz of his addictions, but we testified that the Lord would help him and that the Book of Mormon truly had the power to help him. It was amazing how the Spirit testified cuz when we told him that sunday being Easter when we commemorate the resurrection of Christ, we explained how his baptism would be like a resurrection for his new life. The Spirit was super strong and he accepted the date. We came back the next day and he had read like 4 or 5 chapters even though we'd only left 1 chapter for him to read, and he showed us 2 or 3 verses that had called his attention that were super powerful about baptism and repentance. He told us that he had also stopped smoking and didn't even have any more desire to smoke, which was a direct blessing from his reading. Over the next few days he kept reading, kept progressing, stopped drinking, and on Sunday, Odair was baptized!!! There were a bunch of members who remembered him from the time when he had been going to church a while back, and the support that the members gave him was amazing. Odair is a really sarcastic and kinda impatient type of guy, but it was such an amazing thing to see him come up out of the water and just, wait. He stood there for just a few seconds and it was just like you could see the reality of what had just happened sink in, and he realized that he was finally free from the problems he had had before. Man it was an amazing moment. Elder Leite de Sousa was able to baptize him, and since it was the first person that he has baptized, it just made it all the more special. I think this is one of the parts I love the most about my mission is seeing the change that happens to someone from the first day up until the baptism. With him it was just like 5 days, but the Lord can make anything possible. It made it more real to me the why I was called to this area. Man I love the mission :)
  This week is going really well as well, we've been putting our focus on families and we're praying and working as much as we can to find families who are ready for this gospel. Today we decided to do something a little special, and we did a hamburger roast! The house here has an open area out back that's just overgrowth and trees and stuff, so we made a little firepit out of cinderblocks and ceramic tiles, bought some charcoal, and roasted up some american burgers :) We even found bbq sauce today, so it was a good old American Favorite. Really, the smell of smoke and the taste of barbeque sauce sure put me back in time... Not with homesickness or anything, but just like an extreme fondness for the good old days of camping in moody meadows and whatnot. Good times eh? And good times in the future as well! I sure am just loving every minute out here. It's kinda annoying cuz everyone I talk to and tell how much time I have on the mission, always says, "Oh, so you're time is basically out..." And I always retort that NO! There's SO much more that needs to be done!! It scares me cuz every day that passes I feel the reality of my time closing in... I just want to burn myself out to the last minute and do everything that the Lord has for me to do. Keep me in your prayers everyone, cuz I just desperately want to do all that I can. I love you all, things are wonderful here, have a splendid week and I hope to bring more good tidings next week :) Hurrah for Israel!!!!!

      -Elder Ballard

 Today's bbq. Nothing compares with the smoky smell of open-fire cooked patties.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Oh Sion, dear Sion! Wow conference was great.

Crazy how this was my last general conference on the mission... These moments are kinda rough cuz it makes it all hit home that I'm not gunna be able to stay our here forever :/ But, let us all rejoice either way alright?
So, conference was amazing wasn't it? Sadly on saturday we spent the time during the sessions running after people who had accepted and marked to go with us to conference, but to no avail, they ended up not being able to. Kinda a bummer, but I end up learning more in my studies of the Liahona afterwards when it's in english haha. The sunday sessions were incredible though. Like you said Mom, it was so SO focused on families!! I loved that. On the sunday sessions we only were able to take a few investigators, but as the Prophet was ending his talk, I got this super strong feeling of how much people outside of the church are missing out. This city that we're in has roughly 150,000 people that live here, and our side of the city should have at least 70,000 that out area covers. With the 50 or 60 people that went to these sessions I just couldn't get it out of my head just how many families could evade all the problems that families have nowadays. All the children born without parents... All the marriages that don't last, all the abuse and sadness and heartbreak, the answers are ALL right in front of our faces!!! It's so sad that we invited so many people to come and only a handful took the decision to just use 2 hours of their saturday or sunday to hear those priceless words. It was honestly really sad how that was my last conference on the mission... I remember last year as well as last conference thinking, next year I'm gunna take like 30 people to conference so that they can know that there is such thing as a true prophet!!! And now I can't say that "next time" thing :( Man... talk about a killer feeling.
   Even though the missionary aspect of the conferences didn't go quite as I'd planned it, Monday we had a Leadership Council in BH (we left here 1:45 am, got back here 7:45 pm... haha, kill me) and wow... Talk about an eye opening experience. We've received a lot of new missionaries these last few months so President has opened a lot of new areas and even new zones, and there were so many good ideas discussed there. It was amazing how it all happened, cuz we all just discussed our difficulties in the work and what is holding us all back from finding and helping more families and people in our zones, and the Spirit just turned it into an incredible learning experience. At the end and since monday I've just had this like, renewed fire inside of me. Even though it scares the heck outta me that time is going so fast, I feel like I've been able to take hold of my original excitement and fire that I had when I was brand new, and I just feel like the Lord is so ready to make SO many miracles happen, and now it just relies on my effort and focus!! I'm hitting that point where I'm realizing that there's just no time left to lose, and I just need to give it every single bit that I have. I just regret not catching this vision earlier, but either way I'm just stoked and ready to give it all I can. I'm realizing just how much more I truly can give, how much more focused I can be, how much more I can sacrifice, and I'm just... Excited haha. More than ever before I know that this is God's work. I know that missionaries are truly representatives of Jesus Christ, and that I just need to be the type of instrument that will allow the Lord's hand to be manifested just as much as He is wanting it to. Happy anniversary Mom and Dad, happy birthday Brigham and Austin, and happy Easter to all. Hurrah for Israel!!! Thanks and love you all!!    -Elder Ballard