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 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

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