Tuesday, December 30, 2014

One year down....

¨The Book of Mormon was written for us today. God is the author of the book. It is a record of a fallen people, compiled by inspired men for our blessing today. Those people never had the book. It was meant for us. ¨ -Ezra Taft Benson

I love the book of Mormon so much. I know sí o sí (more or less) that is was meant for the members here, for O, and for me. 

Let me just give you a quick little update on this week. It was awesome! I wrote you last week from Coyhaique (capitol of Patagonia) and oh boy was it fun. We had interviews with president, who I love dearly. Then we had our activity. I told you a bit about it on Christmas (beeeeest) but it was really cool. One of the Elders read parts of the Bible while we also had little parts of singing the hymns and music from the Bible videos. It turned out real nice. 

Then we all wrote our testimonies in a Book of Mormon and took it to the city square wrapped with a bow and wearing Santa hats. We each found a family or someone to give it to as a Christmas gift. The lady we talked to was so darling. We had passed her and as she was walking away we stopped her to ask how she was doing. We started talking there in the square and she explained about her grandmother passing away just days before and how hard it was with Christmas. 
Pres and Hna Obeso
We talked about how families can be forever and about how the Book of Mormon would not only answer questions she has, but would help her feel Gods love and a peace for her family. We bore testimony and I gave her my Book of Mormon. She cried as she explained that her grandmother had taught her about God and how she would love this book. Right there in the square, we said a little prayer and got her address for the Elders to visit. That is the magic of the Book of Mormon- it truly is written for us today and it truly brings peace. 

After our time in the square we had a big huge Christmas dinner with President and Hermana Obeso and the zone. It was a fun night. Then that night we had 6 girls sleeping in one little house- so fun! It was like a sleepover, but we were in bed by 11 and mostly studying the scriptures. Ha-ha but we bought this sweet cream bread and had a fun little breakfast.

Dad we did what you said and went out for a little fun. We had the time for lunch and usually we just buy completos (Chilean hot dogs) when visiting the Hermana’s because they are cheap. But we went to Chinese food. Ooooooh so good. It was truly Christmas Eve. We were crazy spoiled because there is only 1 Chinese restaurant because it’s not common at all. And for that reason it was really, really fun. 

After we stuffed ourselves with wantons we took the crazy pretty 4-hour bus ride out of town (its the best. every single part of it is like a little postcard picture) and we went straight to our branch president house for dinner. We feasted and laughed for hours. I love this family so much because they are so, so down to earth and real. We talked about kayaking the whole night. Then they open presents at night not in the morning so we were with the family to do the Santa opening- their son got a nerf gun and I thought the classic Ball family nerf wars (then we went home and opened presents and found neft guns. beeeest!)

But after presents we watched "He is the Gift" and testified. I loved this Christmas. 

We headed home and rebelled and were up a little later than normal opening presents and dying laughing. Mom and dad, grandma's and aunt steph- Hermana Segura looooved Christmas. I wish you could have been there. 

Especially the stocking was a big hit because they don’t do that here- so we took it one gift at a time, stopping to eat treats, then having a silly string war, turning lights off to see the Christmas lights shine. Everything. When we finished the night Hna S was seriously just smiling and so happy talking again and again how magic this Christmas was. And how true. It was the best Christmas Eve I have ever had in my life. Soo happy and simple and happy and crazy and loving. 

The next morning we studied about Christ’s birth and quotes from the apostles. This is what I love about this Christmas. It was so magical and truly filled with Christ’s spirit of love. 

We had breakfast with Hermana T- one of our members. And then we went home and decorated the nativity cookie set grandma Simpkins sent. 

We had a huge lunch- roasted lamb and everything, with our papitos (branch members) and president's family. And we took the cookies to share. They were all very impressed- ha-ha then they found out they were from a box. But still it was fun to see them so excited. We also played grandmas Uno with the kids. Oh the fun. 

Then finally we got to chat with you. I loooove your faces so much. Seriously. 

This week we also had piano lessons- they are going really well. I love it. It’s crazy how much help I’m getting because I haven’t played forever. 

But also this week was a week of torrential rain. It was crazy. We have had days and nights straight. I sent a picture of the churches bathroom- everywhere we got we have 100 layers. I have never seen anything like this. It’s like a crazy, crazy. The rain cleared a little last night and the clouds cleared and the mountain by our house (seriously right next to it) now has 9 new waterfalls from all the rain. It’s way cool. 

We also had the annual Puerto Cisnes end of year fiesta. And oh boy was it a fiesta. I sent a picture of us cooking sopiapillas with Hna t. We cooked up 90. 

Then went over and took turn turning the lamb over the fire. It was cool because it was during the day and night rain - but we were under a protection so it was the smell and freshness of rain but then the warmth of the fire and we are all sitting chatting and eating sopiapillas with sausage listening to the classic traditional south of Chile music. DREAMY. I love living in the Patagonia. It’s such a chill way of life. 

Then yesterday I gave the talk in church, there are so few of us only two people talk each week. But it was cool because I followed a bit of the outline dad gave for his talk a bit back from Elder Uchtdorf about being grateful in any circumstance. I loved hearing dads words and insights then applying it to mine. It was fun and I sure love you dad. 

But it’s so cool in our ward. Because for example, yesterday we had 22 people assist (attend) church and only 9 are not from one family. It’s an abuelita (grandma) and her 3 daughters who are married families. (Our branch pres., our papita/mision lider (ward mission leader) and the primary pres.) Whose family we had lunch with Christmas day. I looove this branch. 

Then get this- we taught O and have everything ready for the baptism. Everyone is way excited!  We all went to look for the clothes and planned everything. The interview is this week so hopefully everything goes well. The branch is way excited because as I showed it’s like 1 family so to get some new blood in here and it's the first baptism for 2 years so it’s fun and happy. 

Well family I got to run. I need to buy a new umbrella because it rained so much this week mine literally broke. Ha-ha. 

I love you! Happy New Year (which means happy one year in the mission to me.) 

xoxo Hna Ball

Monday, December 22, 2014

The most wonderful time of the year: hiking!

I say this every single week- but this week was the craziest week. Let me tell you!
First of all, I am so stinking pumped for Christmas- yeah, it will be cool to talk to you.  But more so, we are having 100 crazy parties. Seriously, we are doing it Ball family style. 

Christmas Eve- with our branch pres. family- who is the coolest cats ever. Christmas day with our papitos- we´re going to be roasting lambs. Seriously, like "my big fat Greek weeding" but "my stinking awesome Chilean Christmas." 

Then we have a branch party- yes, roasting more lambs. Tomorrow we have a big Christmas dinner with president and the zone.  Oh my gosh, I can't wait to talk to you and tell you everything about my happiest life ever. 

Anyways why this week was the craziest. 

Monday- we had an awesome FHE (family home evening) with S and M. We played "telephone" and then explained how it is like prayer. There are different way to try and communicate with God. But a lot of time the ways are different, etc. (because they have been struggling with the whole form of prayer) then we explained that God has revealed how we can talk with Him so the whole message gets to him. And they got it. That’s what I love about being a missionary. When they get it. 

Then get this.
So super long story short- my companion had a problem with her foot- she got a cut or something and then it got infected with a fungus or something. So now I am all "Lyle Ball" freaking out with Clorox. Ha-ha.   But we ended up in the hospital for 3 days and 2 nights. 
Now it is all good and well. The foot is fixed. But oh, it was so crazy. It was the first time she has been hospitalized so she was really scared- so I pulled a "Lyle Ball" and convinced the hospital to let me sleep over night- something that they never allow. 
Well they let me and I had a hospital chair or cement tile bed. But it was worth it. It really was an awesome growing experience for my comp and me. 

Also, it was funny.  We contacted everyone in the hospital and had a couple cool lessons. We had a roommate- L. Who is 24- she was there alone so we got to know her really well. We talked a lot about who is God and all. It was really interesting. We had a power moment with her- they were trying to put the needle in her arm and couldn’t get it and tried and tried and she was getting really stressed and scared. So the nurses left the room and it was just us- so we taught her about prayer and asked if we could say a pray to help her feel peace and to help the nurse find the vein in her arm. 

We then said a prayer and right as we finished the nurses came in- and immediately found the vein. I was sitting there holding her hand and she when they got it she just looked up at me. I can't really explain it. But it was really, really powerful. 

She also is a number one fan of the churches magazine "the Liahona" and efy music. haha. 

It was definitely an interesting experience- exhausting and terrible and so long. But cool thing, I ended up reading 50 something chapters of the missionary and war chapters of Alma in Spanish. So cool- to be able to read it straight like a book. It was like "Hunger Games" all over again- seriously there was a time where my companion was trying to talk to me and I was all "a-huh, yeah, ok mhhh¨ and she’s like "you aren’t even listening".  But it was to crazy I just couldn’t stop.

But when we got out of the hospital we were on house arrest. We could only leave for the two ward activities we had. They were awesome. 

First, we had a Book of Mormon thing- so cool. I love my little branch. Then we all watched the Christmas devotional. We were all on the look out for you all (Hna ball's white gringo family hahaha) but no luck. Then we had a second activity were we had a Christmas party with the relief society. 

Then we got to leave to for our first appointment- ooooh boy. We were so happy- it was with O. Who has been so well prepared- but get this. She´s going to be baptized The 10th of January! Wooohoooo. We love her. Oh boy. What I love about O is she had a very strong testimony of the priesthood. She received a blessing for health and immediately felt something- and she knew it was Heavenly Father's love. Also, she loves the santa cena (sacrament)- and that is what I love.

Now I am writing you all from Coyhaiue. This morning we woke up at 4:30 and took the 4-hour bus ride into town to have a sweet day with 2 of our girls. We went to a national park here- mom and dad your going to LOVE Chile. Seriously. 

We are going to be here in Coyhaique for a couple days then head back for Christmas eve night and Christmas at home in good ole Puerto Cisnes. 

I love this season so much. This has been such a fun Christmas and the crazy hasn´t even started.

I love being a representative of Jesucristo all the days. But especially this month it has been really, really cool. I know that He lives. sí o sí. I love this Christmas. 

I love you. nos vemos prontoooooo. (see you soon)

xoxo Hna ball

Last week’s p-day adventuring old wrecked boats.

A couple gems of our sector- I really am living in paradise- yeah it rained the most part of the week- But I love it.

Good ole Simpkins family nature tree. Ha-ha, my companion thinks we Americans are crazy- I’ve tried explaining it’s just my family, but ha-ha. 

Also, the little Santa thing is our city center square. That’s about as crazy as Chile gets. Bishop Ostler's house alone has more than all of Puerto Cisnes. (Oh, that Ostler's sinking Christmas tree.)

Then today’s gems. We just got back- I still got the smell of lake of pines and all things happy to me :) 

Did I mention how much I love teaching people about this message? Because really. 

xoxo teaching my companion Elvis Christmas songs in his tone of voice xoxo Hna ball

Monday, December 15, 2014

Living the simple life

 ¨Trust in God, then go and do. ¨-Henry B. Eyring. 

I LOVE Puerto Cisnes! It sure is a beaut. It,s hard, because it is teeny tiny. But oh boy do I love it. 

This week we had some really cool experiences. 

We have been working with the video ¨He is the gift.¨ We introduce it to every contact we make and this week we found 6 solid new investigators because of it. (Which is crazy!) We knock the door, explain the video and ask them if they have just a couple of minutes. Then we watch it, explain a little about our message, set an appointment and leave with a prayer. It has been magic. 

We stumbled across the video in English and it was shocking. Go watch the difference in English then in Spanish (él es la dádiva.) I had forgotten how crazy life is. I love living in Rio Bueno and now, Puerto Cisnes- because life really is tranquilo. (quiet) It’s such a simpler way of living. It was crazy for me to watch it in English.  First, just to hear English- then to see what was ¨normal¨ life. It almost scares me to think about returning home, to the crazy. 

The rest of the day I couldn´t help but notice how simple, humble and wonderful my life is right now. 

We have 2 investigators we are working with right now.  S and M-mother and daughter. And O- who is the cutest little lady ever. 

We had a family home evening with S (22 years old), her mom and a member who gave us the reference. It was awesome. We watched the restoration and talked about the Book of Mormon. It was then we realized for the first time ever both me and my companion didn´t have an extra Book of Mormon with us. We both looked at each other a little frantically and then told her that our next lesson we would love to give her one. And that’s when the member stepped in and explained that she had one that was given to her from her son that she would like to give them. She went and got it and it had a sweet little note from her son- but she explained how she would like them to have it.

It´s amazing how Heavenly Father works. It meant so much more to Silvia to have this book then it would meant for her to have one from us. 

I know this was a little gift from Heavenly Father and I love it so much. I love finding these little gems throughout every day. 

We also had the cuuutest lesson with O. She has been investigating the church for a year now and is just dear. She asked if we could come by and help her decorate her Christmas tree. Which was so good. I thought about you all family- having all of us down stairs, dad fixing the TV to make the huge fireplaces, mom passing out the ornaments and us fighting over who gets to put up the pickle, the devil from Lona and the Harry Potter kids. I sure missed you, but it was sooo fun to do it with O. 

Then she asked us to help her make the nativity. (A tradition here for the families.) They don´t sale nativities. But what they do is they start with jesucristo and each year add a piece on. Olga has a whole set that is so cute. I love how it turned out! Its so fun, we just used what she had, we all went out and picked grass and flowers then went in and used stuff from the tree. I love Chile. I love O. I love Christmas. I love gold glitter garland and I loooove being a missionary. 

- So this was so funny. In Rio Bueno there aren´t any stop lights. But then when we were in Coyhaique, it's a crazy city, and I had forgotten stoplights are a thing. So I almost got hit because I’m just walking around like normal. Well my companion is happy because here in Puerto Cisnes we don´t have to worry about it either. Ha-ha no stop lights so no problems. 

Also our house is so ghetto. Literally, we don’t have electricity in the bathroom and I use a big white candle. Or when it is cold we can actually just jog in circles in the bottom part of the house. So huuge. But its cool and our tables are situated right between the fireplace thing- I'll send photos next week. 

Oh, so the picture of a rocking cat. Get this- it's outside of the Relief Society room in the church. Hah, I loooove Puerto Cisnes. I feel like it was just made for me to live here. 

Also, we don´t stress about not really having a church or a lot of members because the ones we have the are the best, and literally they are all one family. The mom and her three daughter’s families. With a couple other little members. And we have a Ping-Pong table. So it’s way cool.

We had the primary program yesterday. Last week we helped them get all prepared and it was so cute. It's way different then our programs- only 5 little munchkins!

This week we had sun! I actually used a little sunblock! 

We had two skype reunions- and everytime we have one I get so excited for Christmas. We found out we have 40 minutes nada mas (nothing more) to chat. But, ooooh boooy. 

I "elfed¨out house. :) I cut out a bunch of white, blue and purple snowflakes and hung them from floss from our roof. My companion, Hna Segura, is from here in Chile- close to Santiago. And she loves it. I am so excited to do Christmas with her! Seriously, I’m just doing these little ball family traditions and it’s so fun. She loves having a big "American Christmas¨ (when really it"s just crazy Hna ball. hahah)

Hna S is finishing her mission this cambio.  (transfers)  It’s wacky. But we´re just working along like its not real. I’m just making sure she finishes strong and happy. Its fun. 

Also I looove being a Hermana lider. (Sister Trainer).  This week we did a lot for the Hermana’s and we had a couple experiences where we saw that they really trust and love us. I love it. This week we have intercambios (splits with other sister missionaries) and I'll be busing it for 10ish hours. But I am excited to get out and work with them. 

Also, no one here knows how to play the piano but the branch has a little keyboard- so I am teaching one of the member’s piano classes to learn to play for sacrament! The branch is pretty excited. 

The testing moment of this week was preparing to teach the Old Testament class- in Spanish. I still really struggle with Spanish. I know it’s my test here in the mission- to not be able to explain myself completely, it is the most frustrating thing. But the Old Testament is hard in English- then in Spanish there are a bunch of words I don’t understand. The lesson was about esdras and nemahíah. Oh boy. 

I was stressing before. During personal study it was one of those frustrating moments when I just was close to tears. I said a little pray and got back to work. It was one of my favorite parts of the week. Because then the next morning I had a plan but was still stressed (I don’t even know why because there are like 2 people in the class). But more it was just the whole Spanish and wanting them to understand this hard doctrine in a simple way. But then in the class it just flowed and they got it! 

Well family I got to run. Ha-ha Hide the pickle for me. 

I am just so grateful for where I´m at in life. I am loving it. 

xoxo Go and Do xoxo Hna ball

P.S. - also I took out some money for a new coat because it rains so much. It’s the blue one I’m wearing.

The green building the photos is the bed and breakfast we eat in. 

Then, the crazy oceans ones are just when we are walking and working and snap a quick pic because it's so crazy that this is real life. 

Also, the cool wooden building is the library. Where I am writing you from right now. 

And the bridge is where we cross from our house to the other part of the sector about 4-6 times a day. Looove. Also, when I got home I realized how funny the picture is because it is so normal.  Then to see I’m holding a little bag of eggs to eat.  It is just so normal for me now.  I love this sector. 

Well family I gotta run. But I love ya.