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, July 25, 2012

The pathway is now set in place!!!

There we have it folks. This monday was to be the last transfer call, and turns out that I wasn't even called, because I'm staying here in this area with my comp Elder Pereira! Kinda a trippy feeling I must admit... Really really trippy actually.   

  Well, looks like I'm officially in my last area now. No I'm not being trunky telling this joke, but I forgot to say 6 weeks ago the name of this area, it's called, "Aeroporto", which means airport. So, the next "transfer call" I'll recieve will be to be transfered for a different airport. Ha? Punny eh? Baahaha? Wow that one was dry. Anyways, it's kinda a crazy feeling to know that I'm not gunna ever meet any new companions, or see any new areas. It's really a new feeling, cuz especially with how much I've been juggled around on the mission until now, it was always a feeling to wonder what the next area or companion would be like. Even though it's weird, it's also very exciting and motivating. Me and my comp have decided that we WILL make these next 6 weeks the best we've ever had. He goes home in November, so we're just gunna punch trunkiness in the face and go to work!!! That's a pretty decent battle cry isn't it? "Punch trunkiness in the face and go to work!!!!!!" I'll see if there are any vinyl shops that can print that and I'll stick it to our wall?
  Haha, sorry for the spaziness :) For the weekly report, the work here was awesome this week. Last tuesday we were heading to our area like normal when we ran into this kid named Caio. We'd already taught him a few times, and he went to church to watch Jailda's baptism, and liked church, but told us it was really quiet for his liking. We tried to invite him to be baptized but with his 17 year old "worldliness", he said he wasn't ready. We left a BoM with him and invited him to read. Anyways, on tuesday he came up to us, called us off to the side and simply said, "Elder, I was thinking. And praying. And I want to be baptized. I want to be a memeber of the church." We literally didn't believe him at first, but then through the week he stopped drinking coffee, started fully living the law of chastity, and on sunday he was baptized!!! It was such a cool baptism, cuz it's really rare to see a youth like him actually want to do the right thing, put the worldly desires aside, and follow our Lord. The ward was super excited as well, and you can see in the picture here (left to right) the young mens counselor, Caio, Elder Pereira, the ward mission leader, me, and Wilmar who's a member that always helps out.
 Caio's awesome, and his mom (who's not legally married or would probably be baptized too) told us that Caio told her that he wants to "follow the example of the two missionaries, and someday serve a mission" I literally teared up when I hear that :) I'm so happy right now, I just love this mission. I'm really peaceful about time right now, and I have a very strong feeling that even though 6 weeks seems like it'll pass quick, there's a TON to be done. So, have an awesome week, hurrah for Israel my dear family and friends!!!!!     -Elder Ballard
Me and Caio
Caio with his friend. We're still working with him to be baptized as well :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Perfect week, life is just incredible!!!

Every week from now on I'm gunna be dying to see more and more pictures of little Arlee... Totally melted my heart that one of her looking at the camera with her beautiful little eyes!!! Can't even believe it!!!

  Alrighty, this computer's keyboard is halfbroken and we have to leave to go to the hospital soon, but let me give the short version of this awesome week! Two weeks ago we were working in a neighborhood where the people just simply weren't accepting the gospel, and we were praying like crazy to find the Lord's elects. One day we were leaving our lunch appointment, and we looked up and saw a neighborhood that we'd never been to. After some more praying we felt that we needed to go there to work. The first day, we knocked at a house, and it just had a 13 year old girl with her 5 year old sister, so we just took down the address and said we'd return the next day. The next day we went to the address, and met Jailda. Jailda is a single mom who has 5 children, 4 of which live with her. The picture I sent last week is her second oldest, William. Love that kid :) Anyways, about 3 months ago, Jailda suffered a neurism, which left her with the left side of her body paralyzed. Since then she's been bed-bound, and when we met her, she told us that the trial had really humbled her and she had realized just how much she needed the Lord, had prayed and told Him that she would stop doing wrong things, and that she'd begin following the Lord. We arrived there, and she readily accepted a baptismal date. She progressed wonderfully, and even with a LOT of lies and discouragement about the church, she woke up early last sunday, and we pushed her for about 30 minutes all the way to church. Then this last week, her, her 13 year old daughter, neighbor friend and daughter, all went to church to watch her baptism!!!! Even with a bunch of complications and the both of us having to do the baptism, Jailda truly endured to the final moment and was baptized on sunday. It was so amazing to see the happiness of her finally fulfilling her promise with the Lord. She's such an amazing example of endurance and patience. It's amazing what the Lord's teaching her.

   Also this past week we've been teaching Maycon (it's pronounced like Michael, but Brazilian pronunciation is funky :D) who's dad is a member for like 8 years, but now that he's coming back to activity, Maycon was also baptized and this next week will recieve the priesthood!!! He loves the gospel and is going to be an awesome example for his family.

  Well, I'm just loving life. The Lord is just so good to me, and I"m so happy to be out here. Love you all so much, and just know that things are wonderful here!!! Hurrah for Israel!!!!
From left to right, E Pereira, me, Jailda, Naiara,
Silmara (neighbor's daughter), and Darcinéia (neighbor)

    -Elder Ballard

The joyful Jailda before her baptism :)
Maycon before his baptism!

Maycon with his parents. His mom isn't a member
 and she is SO difficult to try and teach haha

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Met the President, a favor to ask, and I'M AN UNCLE!!!!!

Man oh man oh man what exciting news!!! AH! I can't believe it!!! Congrats firstly to Karen and Aust on being PARENTS! Dad and Mom on being GRANDPARENTS and all the bros and sisters on being UNCLES and AUNTS!!! I can't even express how exciting it is to see pictures of little Arlee!! I think the most amazing thing about families is how each child that is born is literally a new person! No one's ever met little Arlee before!!! It's such a special thing to think that God literally sent one more of His little spirit children here to earth!!!! Congratulations, I'm so so so happy to hear the news!!! 

  Well, from my part of the woods, this week we finally were able to meet President Fortunato and his family!! Monday we had a zone conference, and wow it was incredible. Even though he has less than 2 weeks as President, it was incredible to see how the mantle of the calling fell upon him so quickly. He spoke with so much motivating power and the authority of what he said was incredible. It all fell in line perfectly with what Moroni 7 had told me. He constantly was saying the phrase, "How is your faith?" And then taught us how our faith is the only limit that miracles have. If we truly believe that we'll find a family to teach today, we will find a family. If we want someone to be cured and we pray and know that it is in fact the Lord's will that the person be cured, and truly believe, it will happen. Another awesome lesson that he taught me about this was that the only true way to show what we believe, is how we act and live. It doesn't work for a missionary or a member to say to a non-member, "The restored gospel can help you obtain the peace and joy you're looking for!!!" if that person themselve isn't actually having peace and joy in their life. We can tell an investigator, "If you read and pray about the Book of Mormon, He will respond to your prayers!" if we aren't recieving answers to our own personal prayers. It was really an eye opener to realize just how important that verse in James is that explains how faith without works is dead. It really helped me understand how making miracles happen isn't just a thing where you sit there clenching and thinking, 'the miracle will happen, the miracle will happen...' No, it's going out there and doing absolutely everything that you possibly can, knowing that the Lord will help the miracle happen, and doing everything as if you already have a certainty that it will happen and turn out alright. I dunno if I'm explaining all that well, but it made sense in my head and in my study journal haha. I had my interview with President Fortunato as well and wow he is an inspired man. He has served as the director of the EFY productions here in Brazil, so he knows perfectly how to work with youth, so his counsels are already helping me in ways that I didn't even expect. I'm super excited to get to know him better and better and continue to learn with him.

   On another note, I have a favor to ask of everyone, principally Aust (now that you have a new daughter and I know that your time is gunna be way more busy haha) I recieved a letter this week from a lady in the ward of Vespasiano where I served during october until january. She's a relatively new member (like a year and a half or so since she was baptized) and was always one of the most kind and caring members in the ward in respect to making wonderful lunches (she'd always always ask our favorite food and then make it, she's great) and always helping with FHE and stuff like that. Anyways, she told me in her letter that this past month she sent her youngest son out on a mission!!! Super super exciting news, but now she's basically living alone and just from the way she wrote in the letter, you can tell it's really tough for her since she's still relatively new in the gospel. So Mom, with Aust's help to translate, could you write her a letter of support and explain for her how much the Lord has blessed the family as you've sent me and Aust out? I think your words and ideas would be perfect for her to hear, and I know it'd mean a lot just hearing from one of the missionaries' moms. I know that it'd be a huge help to excite her and help her stay strong and see the blessings that the Lord is hold for her. 
   Here's her address ->   Fátima Dias 
                                     Rua José Candido 507


                                     Vespasiano - MG



   For the rest of you guys, Fátima told me in her letter that Jorge and Helena (they're that couple that he found the Book of Mormon rolled up in a tire repare shop and were baptized in January)  are going less active cuz Helena's mom passed away a little while back, and it's been really really hard for her to take. I talked to the missionaries that are serving there and Jorge still has his strong testimony of the chruch, but Helena really really took it hard when her mom died, and she has just lost her desire to keep going to church. It kills me to hear this, but at the same time I know that the Lord can help them return. So, for everyone that'd like to, I know that you guys just writing your testimonies (once again, Aust'll have to help with the translation, thanks bro) and maybe even sending a picture of you guys (especially the kids) would be something really special for them to receive. I'll of course write them to see how I can help and try to excite them again, but it just goes to show how the devil always works hardest with the people with the most potential. Any help that you guys can give them I know the Lord will be able to testify through your testimonies, and I just feel and know that it'll help them out. Here's their address ->
                      Jorge & Helena

                      Rua Dr. Jorge Dias Oliva 810


                      Vespasiano - MG



  Well, besides that help that these two families are needing, everything is wonderful here. We have two very special people that will be baptized this weekend, and I'm just super happy. I love this mission with all of my heart, and the Lord just never stops to bless us and all his children here. I'm excited and happy to be here, and my love for this people and this gospel grows more and more every day. Hurrah for Israel!!!! and Hurrah for Arlee as well :D

    -Elder Ballard
This was how I celebrated the 4th. Remember that pack of
 cookie dough mix you sent me last year Mom?
 Yeah I finally used it haha.

And there's my little taste of America that I made.
 I did in fact hear fireworks that night, miracle idn't it?
This is William, he's the autistic son of a lady that will be baptized
 this sunday. He's so much fun and is a really special spirit.
 His prayers are so awesome to hear :)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

New President and a new attitude!!!

Pretty insane seeing how fast a year passes when you have checkpoints like holidays... Seems like just yesterday I was looking out the window at 7 Lagoas wishing that fireworks would randomly start going off :P But oh well, glad to hear that the parade was... the parade :) Happy fireworks tonight!

The chapel here
    This week was finally the swap between President Parrella and our new President Fortunato! Gotta say that it was like one of the weirdest things ever. In this mission you don't necessarily see the president all that much unless you've got zone conference or something, but it was the weirdest thing how on Saturday when the swap happened, you could just feel like a new authority enter into the mission. The last time I talked to Pres. Parrella he seemed super sad poor guy... He was trying to act normal but you could just hear the bummed out sound in his voice. Probably is SO weird to leave the mission after 3 whole years... He was an amazing president though, it was SO inspired the way the Lord put me in this mission, largely because of him. I learned SO much during these past 18 months. With President Fortunato, he's an amazing guy as well. I've only talked to him on the phone until now, but he seems so amazing. The mission leaders passed a counsel from Pres Fortunato onto all of us to study a certain chapter in Moroni, and it was incredible how even though he's only been here a few days, the mantle of authority is already falling on his shoulders, cuz the chapter was exactly what I was needing.
   Mom you asked about how the works been going, and I'll be sincere and say that this last month or so was one of the most difficult ones since I've been out here. I think one of the things that made it so tough was that I feel like since I've had so much experiences and time to learn, that I should just be doing better and better and better, but that's not what happened. In Sion and here in this area, it was just that thing of every single time when someone was about to be baptized, or would go to church for the first time, something ALWAYS came up and ruined everything. We'd been trying to work our best and hardest, but it seemed like we were just spinning out on our "wheels" and weren't going anywhere. It was definitely a huge series of lessons, and I'm a lot lot more humble from all of it. Like I said though, President Fortunato was very inspired in his chapter that he gave us.
   Reading in chapter 7 of Moroni, I learned 2 really important lessons. 1, that miracles only cease to happen if WE don't let them happen. Miracles require faith, and without knowing I was letting my faith slip a little, which in turn was preventing the Lord to make miracles happen. Basically this taught me that it's not just a thing of luck if the work will go forth, it's something that totally depends on me, and I just made the decision that miracles will happen. Monday we found 2 new investigators, and yesterday we found another 5 :) The Lord is wonderful isn't he? My time is about to run out so I'll tell the other lesson next week, but just know that this was my turning point and that there are great and marvelous things ahead in these next few months!!! I love this mission with all my heart... I can't believe how privileged I am to be here and being part of such a marvelous work. I love you all tons, thanks for all you do and HURRAH FOR ISRAEL!!!!
    -Elder Ballard