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, June 27, 2012

Last week with President Parrella!!! Egad!!!

Loved the emails this week my dear family. So good hearing that all is well and that everyone's enjoying the summer :)
 I'm not taking a whole lot of pics lately, I feel like I've already seen everything haha :D But this is just a random picture I took after we sprinted home for a good 15 minutes or so. Haha, nothing as satisfying as arriving at the house (on time) and trying to pray as you pant and drip with sweat haha.

This week marks the last week of President Parrella here on the mission. SUCH a wierd feeling...
Crazily enough he's been my President for 18 months almost, and wow I've learned a lot. We ate lunch yesterday with a family that lives here but is good friends with Pres, and they said that when they talk to him, that even though he's his usual excited self, you can tell that he's SO sad inside. The love the President has for the mission is SO powerful, and you can just tell that he is so sad to finally finish. I must say that I think that it'll be the same way for me... Just seeing him end his mission makes me super super super scared that mine is on the last few months :( I feel like when september gets closer I will also have that kind of feeling. I'm loving this mission more and more every day, and my mind still hasn't (and I don't know when it will) accepted that it'll actually have an end. I haven't seen president for a couple weeks, but even calling him on the phone to ask him a favor, you can just hear the sadness in his voice. But, like I said a few weeks ago, this isn't my or President Parrella's work, it's the Lords. So, now it's just time to go to work.
  Sorry to not write a ton but I gotta run cuz we're finally gunna get a washing machine today (after 4 months of a cruddy "washing tank") but thanks for everything everyone, hope everyone keeps doing well. Love you all! Have an awesome week! Hurrah for Israel!!!
    -Elder Ballard

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

New area, New Temple, New body, New"s", it's a brand new day!

This is my new comp Elder Pereira, guy's great

Yeah, my new area's a little different than Varginha. This is the first
 time I'm in the true urban area since I've arrived here in Minas.

This is what the scenery is like out in Varginha. Super pretty
 landscape. (compare the difference with my new area haha)

Goodbye to Meire and her other daughter. She wrote a goodbye deal
 in Elder Leite's notebook saying, "Someday I'll make you two
 proud of who I become." Couldn't have heard a better statement as a goodbye :)

Goodbye to Vinicius. This guy's gunna do
 great things in the future,
 he was reading Alma 21 when we left

Eh, kinda a retarded subject line. Guess after 2 weeks of not writing you end up trying too hard if you know what I mean.

 Well, where to start!! Firstly, my new area is in the capitol of Minas, so now I'm in the actual CITY of Belo Horizonte, and wow is it a big change or what. As you can see in the last picture, it's just buildings and buildings and buildings as far as you can see. I actually like it cuz up until this point on the mission I've never been able to see how it is to be in the city like this. There's SO many people that live here, SO many people who need the gospel. My new companion is Elder Pereira, who's from João Pessoa, and crazily enough is from the same ward as Elder Santana that I trained last december. He was there when Elder Santana was baptized, and is also the only member in his family. We're already getting along really well and we're both excited for the work that lies ahead. It's kinda weird moving from 5 hours south (here in Brazil it's switched, so the farther south you go, the colder it gets, and north is hotter) cuz the temperature is totally different. As El Guapo always says, "It's a sweater!!!" Actually with all the running around we're doing, along with sweating more, along with a fast we did, I ended up losing something like 3 or 4 kilos in this last week (that turns into like 6 or 8 pounds maybe, and that loss was at least at the end of my fast before I ate, obviously I got a little bit back) and it actually felt so good to lose a little bit. I think a while back I was talking about weight gain, so being lighter is definitely on my to do list. I'm even starting a jello at night diet :D Haha, I'll tell you all how it goes.
  Also about this area, I'm super SUPER excited because it's in the BH East Zone. This stake is where the other areas of Itabira, as well as Vespasiano are, so if there's any type of stake conference or something, I might be able to see recent converts or something. I also am leader of the sister missionaries there in Itabira, and the other day as I was talking to them, I received some of the best news possible. As I was on the phone, she said, "Elder, do you remember a Sabrina and Alexandre from when you were here?" "Yes, I was there when they got baptized like a year ago." "Well, she told us today that they miss you a lot and hope to see you again someday." "How awesome, did you guys just talk to her in the street or something?" "No elder, we ate lunch there today." HOORAH!!!!!!! I dunno if you all will understand this (Aust will I'm sure) but when someone starts giving lunch to the missionaries, it just shows that they're actually firm. I hadn't heard anything from them since I left Itabira, so to hear that they are firm and giving lunch already?! Man, that right there is a "fullness of joy". Man, such an amazing feeling. I'm so excited to be in the area and stake, it's gunna be amazing!!!
   So, last week since I didn't get to write, not this last sunday but the other (the 10th of June) all of Brazil got to watch the Temple Dedication of the Temple of Manaus!!!! That was definitely one of the biggest spiritual highlights of my mission until now. The Manaus is the seventh temple to be dedicated, and I can't even explain how incredible it was to see the reaction of these people to FINALLY have a temple so close!!! The new temple president explained how when President Faust was in Manaus years back, that the first temple caravan was planned and executed, and it literally took them about 20 DAYS to get to São Paulo to be sealed and do their ordinances!!! They had to take several boats, several buses, and then FINALLY were able to receive that blessing of having their families sealed!!!! It made me just reflect on how much we americans take it for granted at how close we have our temple. There's SO many temples as well, and it was just such a new point of view to see the tears of joy of these people who finally had their dream come true. I think as a missionary serving in a mission that still doesn't have a temple, it really makes your gratitude for a temple grow. Before and after the dedication there were slideshows showing rooms inside various temples, and wow wow wow I miss being there. It showed a clip of a sealing room that looked a lot like, or maybe actually was the sealing room where Brig was sealed to us, and the feelings from that day all seemed to come back... And man I love this work. It was a perfect reminder to me that this work isn't just about the baptisms and confirmations, these people need to be sealed someday and need to have their families forever!!! They need to feel that same thing that our family feels.
   One of the parts that was absolutely incredible was during the dedication prayer that President Uchtdorf did, as well as his talk. He explained that every time that a temple is built and dedicated, that the literal powers of the devil are weakened, and that a greater measure of the power of the Lord is increased here on the earth. I realized just how much I don't realize about the power of these sacred buildings. During the prayer, he used his power and authority as an Apostle to bless the missionary work here in this country so that "the miracle of conversion might go forth with more speed and urgency." It's been a while since I've cried with so much joy.. Definitely one day that I will never forget.
   There's a big ol' email for you guys this week. This area had a great potential and now we're just working so that we can unlock this potential and help this ward become more and more stronger. The chapel here is so pretty, I'll send a picture next week. I'm doing super well though, I'm healthy, excited, loving the work, it's just a huge blessing. Love you all tons, thanks for your emails and prayers and all the other things you guys are doing for me and especially for the Lord. Hurrah for Israel!!!!!
   -Elder Ballard

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Last Zone Conference w/ President Parrella = Incredible experience.

Let me just say that zone conferences are extremely inspired to happen exactly when missionaries (namely me) are needing it :) Man this week was amazing.

- The last picture with President and Sister Parrella. I sure love these guys.

This last week we had our last zone conference with President Parrella, and wow was it incredible. I'll show everyone my notes that I took some day, but I'll just share a few highlights here. Probably the biggest lesson I learned last thursday was about the nature of this mission. Lots of times with the day by day worries and schedule and all, this mission starts to be come "normal" for me. Obviously you still see miracles and love helping people, but after a while you just start getting used to the way it all works. President Parrella was talking again about that prayer he had and felt the Spirit explain, "This isn't your work, it's mine. Go to work, work until the end, and then go home." Even hearing it again it still called my attention and I started realizing what the really means. I started realizing that a lot of times, me, and other missionaries as well as our families, think of this mission as some sort of a trade off. Obviously a very righteous trade off, something like, "If I work my tail off and help a lot of people and families be baptized and stay firm, the Lord will bless me with a great wife, good studies, good work, life will be awesome!!" And yes, all these desires are awesome. But, as I was thinking about it, I'm not on this mission so that I can have a good rest of my life. I'm on my mission cuz God is allowing me to take part in this great work. There's a scripture in the new testament that says that if we don't open our mouths to teach the truth, God will send the rocks and stones to do it for Him. So I realized that just as President felt, this isn't my work, and the Lord is blessing me with this opportunity. I'm not doing Him a favor, He is blessing me with these two years. I also realized that this applies for our lives here on the earth. If we think of this life as a trade off to gain eternal life, I don't think we'll be able to get the most out of it. As I was thinking, I realized that the purpose of this life isn't to gain our own exaltation, the purpose of this life is to help others gain their exaltation. That's why missionary work, temple work, home teaching, service, the Priesthood, all of this is focused on others! It's not that we'll forget about our own personal salvation, but if we focus on helping other people gain theirs, our personal exaltation will be an automatic consequence!! It's something so simple but made such a big difference for me. So in the same way, I'm not on this mission to help myself have a better rest of my life, but focusing on helping others will automatically help me become a person that will be able to obtain the kind of life that I want. Man this gospel is so beautiful in such a simple way isn't it?
  I'm running out of time so I'll have to share some other insights next week or something, but boy was this week good. President Parrella will end his mission on the 30th of june, and during conference they showed us a video of President and Sister Fortunato getting their mission call, and explaining how excited they are to come to this mission, and they look like awesome people. I also finally got your guys's package, so thanks a ton, it's all the stuff that I was needing :) Well, I love this gospel and I love you all! I'm so happy and grateful to be on this mission, it's such a precious time for me to grow. Thanks for all your prayers and support!! Hurrah for Israel!!!
   -Elder Ballard