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, May 30, 2012

Final count down?! o.O That sure scares me...

My comp got a giant hershey kiss in his package, and I was excited as well, luckily he shared haha. I miss american chocolate, it's SO expensive here.

Loved the emails this week everyone. Now that the whole pday idea has become second nature, email's like on of the only parts that's still entertaining haha. I took an hour nap today and it's funny how now I hardly even notice the difference :) The body must do some crazy adjustments during a mission.

  Well, in relation to the title of this email, the other day as I was writing down the happenings of the day and looking at the Christmas calendar from this year, I did a quick day count, and this past monday was my... uh... 100-days-left mark.... Are you kidding me?! I about blew a gasket when I realized that!!! It scared the yeast outta me!!!! (I was gunna say heck, but yeast fits better) There's this certain attitude that I've gotten on the mission where as I grow and learn more, I always have this huge feeling of excitement and anxiousness to put everything into practice and become better and better, but I got really scared realizing this whole 100 day thing because basically I'm not gunna have 'forever' to put this stuff into practice... It's just now that I have!! Man oh man the mission is unexplainable. I'm just feeling so much urgency to help these people! I know that this work isn't mine and that the work will go on whether I'm part of it or now, but I just can't imagine what my life as a not missionary would be like. I love this mission so much... I love being able to find people who are needing the gospel and have the authority and calling to be able to help them. I don't even know exactly what I'm trying to say, but basically just that I need to work my tail off even more haha.
  We had a weird repeat week where the same thing happened, lots of people to take to church, and at the last minute a bunch of lame stuff came up. Like I was saying with this whole time deal, I just can't lose any more time haha, these people need the gospel so bad!!! But, even with this downer, we've been able to find some awesome people this week so far. People that the Lord has truly prepared and who already recognize the fact that the Gospel is what they need. I just love everything about this mission... I don't even know what to say :) We're gunna head to zone conference tomorrow, so I'm excited and anxious to learn even more and more. Sadly tomorrow is gunna be the last Zone Conference with President Parrella, but it'll surely be a good one obviously. Thanks for your support everyone, your prayers are so needed and I'm so grateful for them. Love you all! Hurrah for Israel!!!
  -Elder Ballard

I feel like I'm sending these pics every week, but this was our lunch today. If you look close, the guaraná is 3.3 liters :D It's huge. Austin'll prolly remember the delicious cachorro quentes here. Obviously it's not the same as the street vendor, but with the fried potato crisps, (batata palha) it sure hits the spot.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Difficulties bring about the Motivation!

I sure am learning a lot in this area, it's always interesting to me how the Lord shapes missionary's growth, this week was super interesting.
  Not a whole lot to report this week. This last sunday was kinda a trial that sparked some great motivation though. We had about 13 people to take to church, made up of 3 different families, and when it came down to the very last minute, randomly everyone bailed on us... It was so weird. One family the dad got called in to work early so the mom and kids didn't want to go without him, one other family the dad left really early and didn't get back in time to make it to church, it was really weird. So it was just one of those roller coaster moments where one minute we have a whole bunch of families progressing for baptism next week, and out of nowhere all this random stuff pops up. I dunno, it was just kinda a bummer sitting there at church without investigators. Our recent converts are going strong and all, but you just can't get that full happiness when you don't have the newcomers at your side. It ended up being a huge motivator this week though. We sat down for weekly planning and stuff and we're just trying to step it up a notch in all aspects that we can. It's been a long time since I've been in an area for 8 or 9 weeks like this area, but I'm confident that stuff's gunna work out. About that guy on the motorcycle who helped us find Vinicius, we later found out that it was our District President. He had been visiting another branch in a city where a missionary who was working in this area a few months back was, and the missionary told him, who then told us that one night. Vinicius was confirmed this last week and he's progressing super well. That guy's a powerhouse :)
  Sorry that I don't have a whole ton to talk about this week. I'm hitting that point where I'm so used to the normal missionary schedule that I feel like I've already talked about the stuff that isn't exactly "special" haha. But things are great here, and I'm super glad hearing that everyone's doing good as well. If I remember right school's already out for you guys isn't it? Hope you all have a fun summer vacation! Love you all, hurrah for Israel!
   -Elder Ballard

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Phone call home, amazing baptism, and bad stomach flu. Crazy fun Mother's day from my side! :D

Well, Sunday sure was a blast. For various reasons as the title shows haha. What an adventure!!
  So firstly with the call home on Sunday, that was a blast. I think one of my favorite parts is just hearing everyone's conversation and laughs. Obviously I don't get in on any of that through the email, so it's always fun hearing how everyone's changing. Man, just hearing the difference from the voices, I'm gunna die when I see the differences in height and all the other stuff that's changed. It sure makes me grateful for my family though. The majority of my comps until now haven't even come close to having a family our size, and so they usually have a phone call a little more calm and 'divided into groups of 10 minutes for every family member' type thing, but I enjoy the confusion of trying to jam 10 conversations into 40 minutes, keeps things interesting :D I forgot to ask you guys, did you guys film this last call as well? I forgot to do it from my side, but I'm just curious about your side. It's kinda weird how I feel like I totally forgot about everything we talked about, but I just remember that it was fun haha.
   It was kinda a funny end to our sunday cuz about 30 minutes after I got off the phone with you guys, me and my comp started feeling a little bit more nauseous, so we swung by the house to use the restroom and get some water. As we went in the house, I dunno if it was stomach flu or food poisoning, but it got us BAD. It was actually kind of humorous cuz everyone always jokes about being united as a companionship, and we both sat in our study room and threw up into buckets together... I couldn't help but laugh cuz as we vommited we talked about how funny the situation was. Throwing up as an adult sure is different than as a kid. Then sunday night on the way home I threw up again in the road at like 9 at night. Poor onlookers haha. We're all better now, but it was kinda funny how much was crammed into one day like that :)
   As I spoke about a little bit on the call, the baptism of Vinícius was incredible. Let's jump back about 3 weeks so that I can explain his story. A couple weeks back, we weren't finding a whole lot of new investigators, which makes a missionary worried. There are SO many people needed this gospel, and when you aren't finding the people who are prepared, you can trust that it's cuz you're not doing everything that you need to. So we were praying and praying for the Lord to guide us, and we received our response in an unexected way. One night we were running home, it was already 9:25 and we were sprinting up a hill to arrive at our house. Lungs almost bursting, throats charred with thirst, and as I finally made those last steps up to the front of our house, there was a guy stopped on a motorcycle in the front of our house. I stopped and he simply said, "Look up Vinicius who lives in Damásco, he's in your area book." And drove off. I was kinda confused and didn't think much of it, and stumbled into the house to plan and sleep. A few days later we decided to go to this neighborhood called Damásco, and arrived at a certain street and started knocking doors. We taught 1 or 2 lessons with nothing. As we climbed the street, we arrived at the house of a guy from the area book, but he wasn't at home, it was just his son. We tried to mark an appointment with his son, and he wasn't interested. We asked him if he knew anyone who was needing to hear about God, and he told us that a certain Vinícius lived in a house across the street, and that a while ago other missionaries were passing there. We went there, and no one was home. We went back a few days later, taught him the 1st lesson, and he accepted SUPER firm. He told us that 2 other groups of missionaries had passed there and taught him, but he just hadn't been able to get that desire to be baptized and follow the gospel. He explained how he'd been reading the Book of Mormon, and as we looked at his progress, he had already finished 2nd Nephi!!! He already realized the difference that the Book of Mormon was making, and later we found out that the week before we arrived there, he randomly told one of his friends when they were at a bar, "As of next week, I'm never coming back here again." We almost couldn't believe our ears through all this... To make a long story short, Vinícius (Vih-KNEE-see-us) who's 33 years old, was a smoker, drinker, addicted to crack, cocaine, and marajuana, and in a matter of 2 weeks (well, us working with him two weeks. I'm not sure how many months he's had the Book of Mormon helping him out) was able to stop and toss ALL of these addictions, and was baptized on sunday. He invited his mom to watch the ordinance, and he told us on monday that as his mom and him were riding the city bus back to their houses, he told his mom this, "Well Mom, you know that I don't have a job, that I'm poor, I live by myself, and that I can't buy you any jewelry or perfume or anything fancy, but this choice that I made today was what I wanted to give you for mother's day. A new me." ..........We were speechless hearing this. Even though I've seen lots of other people have amazing changes during my mission, the change that happened in Vinícius's life was incredible. I can't believe how much the Lord did in his life so fast. I love this work so much.

  Well Mom and all other moms out there, hope Mother's day was great, and hope everyone else is doing well. I'm loving my life as a missionary and am excited to go forth with even more determination and excitement! Hurrah for Israel! Happy end of the school year too!!
   -Elder Ballard

So, my clothes are finally hitting that degration point :D See ya socks.

One pair of shoes is definitely on it's "last leg"

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

4 Weeks of challenges finally pays off!!

'Tis crazy to think that Mother's Day is already isn't it? Does anyone else remember last mother's day when I said something to the effect of, "Man, it's weird that it'll be 8 months til the next call, then 4 months til the next call, then 4 months till I'm home?! It's gunna go fast!" Yeah, good heavens is all I have to say. It's almost unbelievable from my side haha...
I'll be really quick today cuz we're a little behind schedule, but this week was incredible!!! This last sunday we were privileged with the opportunity to baptize a lady named Meire!! We've been teaching her for like 4 weeks or so, and just cuz of complications on sundays and stuff she hadn't been able to make it to the sacrament meetings like she needed to. It was so cool seeing her grow though, she had so many blessings that the Lord gave her up until now, and we can't wait to see what else the Lord has in store for here now that she's passed through the step of baptism!! It was definitely a challenge to have so many road blocks come up, with family problems and emergencies and other crazy stuff, but it was just the best feeling ever to finally see her go down into the water and come up with a totally different look :) It was really touching as well cuz the newly called Relief Society President welcomed her after he baptizm and Meire started tearing up... The Spirit was SO strong and it's just the best feeling in the world to know not only that they are finally baptized, but that the branch is gunna hold them and help them stay firm. These last two days we went to Belo Horizonte for some training, and man... Definitely one of the highlights of my mission until now. I'm seriously so excited and stoked to just work my tail off till the end. President Parrella told us a personal experience about a few days back when he was saying his personal prayers. He said that he was feeling a little sorry for himself and expressing to the Lord how he doesn't want to end his mission (Pres. Parrella will end his mission on the 30th of June) and the Spirit basically told him "This isn't your work. It's mine. Go to work, and do what you know you need to." Him telling us that, the spirit basically relayed the power of that same message to me. This isn't my work. Even though I want it to just keep going on, it's not me that's making any of this happen, it's our Lord. So now I'm just trying my hardest to focus in with all I've got and become the type of tool that the Lord needs me to be. Thanks everyone for your prayers and support with this, and thanks for not being a trunky family that's always focused on the end of my mission haha. Obviously it will be exciting and fun to be home,  and we have a lot of fun plans and stuff that'll happen, but I need to focus on the now, and these next months that I still have covenanted to dedicate to the Lord. I love this work. I love you guys, and I'm so happy and proud to be a missionary. Hurrah for Israel and we'll talk on Sunday, 1:10 pm mountain time!!!    -Elder Ballard

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

One year without English, and the Portuguese has no end in sight!

Start of another month already... Started out with the first actual cold that I've felt in what feels like years! I slept using a sweater, a blanket, and long pj's, and still was a little chilly! My hands are even a little slow moving cuz of the cold haha, how awesome is that?!! Also, the 30th of April marked my one year mark of not having english companions! It's literally been an entire year since I've had a full blown english conversation at my apartment... How insane is that? I'm kinda concerned about how my english conversation skills are going to be later on :D Ah well though, it'll surely be the subject of many a chuckle. We had transfers this week, and I think this was the first time in my whole mission when President left me in the same area with the same comp :D So, if there aren't any emergency transfers, I'll be here for another 6 weeks at least!
     Well, this last week was yet another great one here in Varginha. We've found a couple people who are really prepared for the gospel and it's been awesome the blessings that these people have already recieved. One's named Meire (May-Ree) and she's a single mom with a 3 year old daughter. She works like crazy and has had a super hectic life until now. Last week her daughter got really sick so she had to stay home from work for a few days, and then the boss was a bum and fired her cuz she said it was unacceptable for her to miss work. Instead of losing her head and getting all worried, she prayed for help, and then literally the next day already found a better job that fits her schedule better :) It's amazing how the Lord helps in ALL aspects of these people's lives. We're teaching another lady named Luciana who was really troubled when we first found her cuz her son was put in jail recently cuz of drugs, and she didn't even know when he'd be able to get out. We were teacher her and all was going great, she loves to read so she's learning a TON. We were all praying for her son and her, and then out of nowhere, last thursday she got a call saying her son was being released cuz of his good behavior! I felt almost bad cuz I had quite honestly not had the faith that he would be released so soon, I was just doing the lame, pray-for-his-safety deal :/ Lesson learned with that one. We taught her son yesterday and he understood really well about the restoration, and shows HUGE desire to be free from his addictions. I'm really excited to see how things go with him.
  Not a whole lot of specifics to share this week I must say. These past few days have been pretty miraculous cuz my comp and I have both been having a little bit of knee pain cuz this area is full of hills, and some days when we're behind schedule we have to run to get back home, but we did our studies and stuff, both with our knees bugging us. Then we said a companionship prayer and asked for help, and the pain stopped... It was incredible. I was all concerned about if it was gunna bug-up the work or something, and all it needed was a little prayer :) Man this gospel is miraculous, I love it. Just like Mom said, this gospel just brings so much happiness, there's seriously nothing that we should worry about :)

Well, above all else, this church is true!! This work is guided by the Lord, and I'm so happy to be here. Love you all, and miss you all, but there's not place I'd rather be in or thing I'd rather be doing :) Hurrah for Israel!!!
    -Elder Ballard