Monday, July 28, 2014

Octopus for dinner? Just living the dream...

“It is one thing to know that Jesucristo came to earth to die for us. But we also need to appreciate that the Lord desires, through His Atonement and by the power of the Holy Ghost, to ENLIVEN us- not only to guide but also to strengthen and heal us. ¨-Elder Bednar. 

This month was a month of miracles. With only the street and a lot of prayer I went from knocking doors and trying to talk to anyone with out a single lesson in days to now having 4 people we are helping to prepare towards the goal of baptism, 4-5 lessons a day and so many investigators! I have loved the true challenge of opening this sector because I have learned the power of His Atonement- To enliven my life, to guide, to strengthen and to heal. To guide me where to go, to strengthen my testimony and to heal the hearts of those I have met. 

However, last night I received the call and I am needed in a new sector! Rio Bueno in La Union! This was recently opened this last cambio! (Transfers) I am so excited to help get this sector going. I am so sad to leave Valdivia- we are finally seeing the miracles of the hard work- but I am so satisfied with my work here and am excited to jump into Rio Bueno and see what it has in store for these next weeks. 

Ok, last week the computer shut down, and today I was trying o upload the photos and I believe they downloaded a virus- I lost everything!  I only have one and photos from today- right now they are trying to fix it... however it is so frustrating because it is all the photos of all my investigators and members. So frustrating. 

Especially because this ward is very dear- all were so excited to have sister missionaries and so open and loving and welcoming. They want to have a ward prayer that I will not have to leave. :) And when I gave my final testimony I started then looked back and saw one of the less actives I have been working with so much, sitting there crying and I just felt so much love. The love Heavenly Father has from these people. Right now people are looking at my like I´m crazy as I’m sitting here crying into the keyboard. But its true- it is so wonderful to be a missionary because Heavenly Father truly gives me a little taste of the dear, pure love he has. But with this blessing it is hard, because saying goodbye to these people who I share everything with, my deepest dearest feelings about life, about death, about families and our Brother. About how God speaks. Then to just leave. It’s an actual pain. But the best.

A couple stories about the people I love so dear. 

First, we happened upon a less active that works all day in a little store alone, and lives alone. The other night it was just about time for curfew but I felt we needed to stop just for a minute. We came to the door and it was closed with a metal gate- she unlocked it and let us in explaining how she has to get this locked at night at open it up for every customer because it's unsafe to be here alone. How sometimes she gets scared. We shared Isaiah 41:10 (Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea I will help thee; I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.) 
Then I went over to the gate to explain the scripture. How outside is dark, obscure and dangerous, but how the gate is the protection. How the gate is always there but in order for it to function we need the lock- How in our lives the world is dark and the gate is His strength and His love- because in our lives His love is always there but in order for it to ¨function¨ in our lives we need the ¨lock¨ and the lock for us are all the little things, scripture study, prayer, assist church, etc. How every time she is scared at night she just needs to look at the gate and remember she isn’t alone, how she’s need not fear because His spirit is always with her. How He will strengthen her. 

This week we also found a new family who is gold. We first found our main investigator, then we found his mom in their store, then another day we happened upon his brother and the next day we were knocking doors and met his sister. We have now taught the whole family individually and part collectively. In our first lesson with "A" we taught the plan of salvation and the spirit was so strong and he felt it. We questioned him for baptism and he has a date for this coming month! (I wont be here :( however that’s not important.) 

Then this week we were in a lesson with a less active that has just recently left the church and she was asking such hard, but such good questions. And both me and Hermana R kind of froze for a minute and just looked at each other with that "ok, your turn¨ look.  Then I remember a quote grandma ball sent me. It was about a man who didn't know the answer so he just bore testimony of what he knew. So that’s what I did. I simply explained how I don’t know, But what I do know is... just explaining the undeniable truths of this gospel. The whole time I was testifying her eyes where locked on mine and when I finished she looked down and after a minute looked back up with tears and just explained ok, I understand. 

I am so grateful for this experience because she knows the truth; she is just a little lost right now and searching for the exact correct answer to everything. But the truth is we don’t have the answer to everything- sometimes we just have faith. 

This week was so spiritual. But also so, so fun. 

Last p-day we had a p.j. party and brought all the mattresses into the main room with all the Hna in our zone. We ordered pizza, made brownies and ate ice cream while looking at everyone pictures from home and watching "the other side of heaven" (in English!) It was like college but so much more fun. We all just sat and giggled (and yes mom from last week you are right. It is my kind of thing.)

Or, this week the amount of times we heard the phrase ¨So I was watching History channel and its says you (or in the members case, we) believe...." and oh my, it was outright hilarious. No- the History Channel is not a reliable source. Literally, one of our new converts saw that Heavenly Father appearing to Jose Smith were not people, but aliens. And she was worried it was true. Hah poor thing.

Or, the man in the street experience this week was an 88-year-old man who came charging over to us and explained how there are bad men in these parts. And how we truly just need to kill them. To which we replied "noooo!" ... then as he was walking away muttering ¨I love Mormons¨

Also, I found out this week I am allergic to pulgas.(Fleas) ha-ha!  I think Chile is trying to kill me! But we got some good medicine and my whole body is only covered in fingernail sized itchy bites. Living the dream.

I am worried for this next cambio (transfers) with the food situation because me and Hna R have a deal. She helps me eat the pasta, potatoes and all the bread (ha-ha its so funny when the members don’t look we do the switch) and I eat all the gross boiled meat. I really am not sure if my side of the deal is the best, but its helps with the allergies. However, this week was rough- a mountain of rice and full on octopuses just sitting there. Not quite cooked and the whole body and all this, oh so bad. I ate mine and hers- the taste was bad! But luckily I don’t get stomachaches! Again, living the dream. 

Oh, I had Hna R go and distract one member yesterday and I ran to the bathroom to flush this drink that was terrible- hah it was so close! They returned and I am standing there with our mugs (emptied). We sat for the next 5 minutes trying not to laugh as we pretend to sip and enjoy this delicacy of a drink. 

Lastly and the coolest! I have started dreaming on and off in Spanish the last 3 weeks. It's the best feeling and so cool. It’s still a little frustrating even in my dreams, but sooo cool. 

Well family I love you! Can´t wait for all the crazy new experiences this week! I bus off Wednesday morning! (So send lots of good vibes!)

xoxo enliven, guide, strengthen and heal xoxo

Hna Ball 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Power outages, Rock Stars, and peanut butter

So, I wrote the whole letter and the computer crashed and I lost it all. I don´t have much time to write more and I am so frustrated!  But the ironic thing was my letter started with this quote, ¨Yet in spite of discouragement and adversity, those who seem to have a way of learning from difficult times become stronger, wiser, and happier as a result.¨
Ha-ha, so right now I am really going to try and not curse this computer and laugh it off and try to learn from it. :) 

However here is a real quick rundown off the week. 

Lots of difficulties and discouragements this week. But three specific discouragements where I became stronger, wiser and happier. 

Stronger- this week we lost all the light in our house- we live in a little cabana behind an inactive member and when we entered she was so scared because it was dark, it was just her and the kids and it was late at night. We sang a hymn, and explained how in our life we have times of obscurity and darkness. But how He is our light. 

The rest of the night, the morning and on and off this week we didnt have light (because the wires were so cold) but as we studied, read our scriptures, cooked and showered in darkness it was a constant reminder of this lesson, that He is our light. 

Wiser- the last month we have done a million street contacts and this week I took to the streets with a new thought. I acted and treated every contact like we have been dear and best of friends for years. I laughed and smiled and testified as I would with you. And when I contact with a purpose and with a love, all are happier, and more receptive. I´m a little wiser than last week as I´ve looked at every person, as a person, a friend, a brother and a son or daughter of God. 

Happier- One day of rain, no houses and no people. Rain and rain and lots of wet dogs. We were searching for one apartment for 45 minutes and I was wet, cold, it was dark and I was done. So we went to give up when my darling companion explained the ever common and dear words ¨just one more time.¨ So we offered a little prayer to be led to the person He had prepared for- right there under our umbrellas in the street with the dogs and headed off. And no... We didn't find the apartment. But we did find another man who had the perfect questions about life, eternal families and baptism. Needless to say we were more than a little happy to find one person who would not only listen to us, but also listen to questions. This was joy. But the golden part was this man is the Chilean Will Smith. Yes. He has the same swagger as Will and is hilarious. What a joy. What a gem.

I love the quote from Elder Worthlin- if I remember correctly he explains, "In spite of the rough, in spite of the discouragement, in spite of (the rain, crashed computers, not having people interested, slammed doors, fleas and dogs and broken Spanish.) In spite of this- those who are happy are those who learn.” 

In this month’s and this week’s adventures, I´m stronger, a little wiser and so so happy. 

The church is true. God lives. And he speaks. 

I love you. 
xoxo Hermana Ball

We made some peanut butter cookies from Gma Simpkins and they were golden. These crazy Chileans are crazy for peanut butter. And my companion really didnt know the joys of pb before living with me. I’m proud to explain she’s a pb-oholic and were living the ‘Mercian dream. 

Hna P- the rock star. This week we found out she has cancer and she is facing it with style, with faith and with a lot of laughs and strength. She is a new convert to the church and I am so grateful to be here with her during this crazy time. What a gem. 

We had a ward activity ¨Fiesta de los gringos¨ where, we 3 gringos in the ward, taught all the finer points of the game “signs” and pancakes with peanut butter (again, they go crazy for this gem), nutella, fruit, whip cream and syrup. So fun! (And we had 2 of our investigators assist the activity! wooohoo.)

Also, I taught everyone the whip cream game where it’s in our hand and you smack your arm and it goes flying and you got to catch it in your mouth. Oh, these grown men. The joy. The joy. 

We left yesterday with one of the girls from the ward- such a gem, with such a strong testimony. Also strong feet- hah! First time leaving with the missionaries and she left in high heels, in the rain and mud for miles and miles and miiiiles. Ha-ha. Love.

Also this week I got a package from mom, love the scarf and pin from Ireland. And 2 letters from grandma ball. And the beeeest surprise package from Evelyn with gems from Peru! Defiantly felt the love!
So much love. xoxoxo 

Monday, July 14, 2014

The island of opportunities and pink cows...

Hola Familia! 

What a week, what a week!

Ok, this week was crazy- the best part was they shipped us off (literally we had to take a boat!) to this island that doesn’t have missionaries and we spent the day introducing the gospel by just knocking every single door and street contacting. It was amazing! This island is crazy, like the Amazon in parts and the beach and so, so beautiful. I´m so frustrated I didn't take more photos- but Google Isla Corral, Chile. 

First, it was so fun to boat over because it was Hna R's first time in a boat! What?  So obviously I had to pull all these jokes and do the tour thing, it was so cute! My favorite of the jokes was pointing and yelling to her ¨Tiburon!¨  Which is shark- oh, poor little thing almost lost it, ha-ha. 

But when we got to the isla, we divided up and I had a member for a companion for the day- she was adorable! Recently returned from a mission in Brazil and it was sooo good. So when we divided up the group I snuck into in the group with the Elder who was over everything and knew a little bit about the isla- because I knew the group he’d be in would be the hardest to get to or the farthest and I was correct! It was the craziest adventure- we were literally weedwacking to get to these little huts of houses waaaaay far up in the island. 

He gave us one name of one contact who (in his words) ¨lived in this part of the isla- good luck¨  So we just talked with everyone to find our Hna Rosa. Everyone was so receptive because they have never has missionaries and most had never heard of our church- We just had a backpack full of Book of Mormons, poster art of the church, folletos (pamphlets), pass along cards, everything and just shared it all! 

We knocked one door and found one lady who was a member! When we knocked on the door she was soooo excited and invited us in for a ¨sandwich¨ haha, which turned into a full feast of all the food they owned. It was so darling and she just kept thanking us and thanking us and was so excited to have a sister missionary in her house, a real representative of JesuCristo and thanking God and prayers of gratitude. It was very humbling and one of my favorite experiences here in the mission. We shared the scriptures and helped plan a reunion for the church to gather in her house for us to invite all of the investigators we met that day. When we went to leave we gave her an artwork of JesuCristo in the expiacion (atonement)- and she was so excited and so grateful. If only everyone had the faith and love this sister had!

We taught so many lessons this day however, my favorite was with the granddaughter of the Hna Rosa who we were searching for.  We were talking with her and there on the doorstep we showed her the Book of Mormon and explained how today we have the word of God, from the ancient prophet and people here in the America's- with all the good stuff. Then we read the 2nd last paragraph of the introduction and I just testified of the Book of Mormon, of my experience and the spirit was so strong. This girl has been prepared for this and we were all crying and we gave her the book- and she went to pay us, but when she found out it was a gift, so sweet.

Everyday I love being a missionary, but some days I feel like I truly am a missionary or have a ¨real missionary¨ expeirence.  And this day, especially this lesson was one of those. 

We were hiking back down for the night boat back when we were walking and I see this cow. And I stop to just stare because it has all these little things on the stomach and doesn’t have any utters and is a weird pinkish color. So, I am literally am just in awe of this cow and I’m like "Hermana! This cow!" And then it turns... and it was a PIG! The biggest pig I have ever seen in my life. Just this wild, huge, fat, crazy island pig. And get this.. I was literally so shocked I forgot to take a picture because we were laughing so hard. Oh, I am so mad. But just imagine it. 

Let me see what else happened this week. 

Oh one of the girls in our ward left for a mission this week so we headed over to her house for one last lesson with her friend who isn’t member, we ate completeos (best) and help her for the mission! Its so crazy to think that was me only months ago! (On Saturday I finished 5 months here is Chile!)

Oh, in the other sectors we have a mommasita who we eat lunch with every day but here we eat lunch with the members every day! It is sooo cool. I am getting to know and have such darling relationships with them so fast. And one day a week we eat with the stake president and his wife, the relief society president. I love this lunch! Always full of so much love, inspiration and laughs. This family. Gold. 

We also did a lot of service this week- and got to wear jeans for the first time in months! It was so cool. But we cleaned the house of this lady who should have her baby today! Love service, love new babies, love jeans. Love. 

This week alone we had 16 lessons with member! We have been working like crazy and went from the last 2 weeks without hardly any lesson at all to this. I am so, so, sooo grateful for this sector! 

But one day we are heading over to have lunch and we enter and usually it’s just us, Hna G (grandma) and P (16 yrs. old, and my best friend here. Stories to come. Oh I love this girl) but we enter and the table is full of people! And Hna G explains "oh sorry, we´ve got a full table today! ¨ (1 inactive and 4 non members) and were all.. "Ooooh no problem." It was amazing, such a casual lesson, that was just natural- One of my favorite lessons of the week. We were able to correct a lot of wrong ideas about Mormons and share the scriptures and just chat about the church and our lives as members for about an hour. So receptive and so good. 

I learned a really great lesson this week about being strong in my belief. It had been a bit of a rough day- we hadn’t entered a house, and no one would talk to us or share with us in the street. And it had been hours in the rain- but we talked to one man who seemed interested. He talked about how he lived with his wife and 2 daughters (16 and 21 yrs.!) (Wooohooo a family!) And how we can pass by this week. But right as we were about to leave he abruptly asked- ¨do you believe a same sex couple is a family?¨  And this took us back because here we never talk about same sex because it really isn’t common here. But we both just stood for a minute and I started with the whole (not wanting to offend him because he was so kind and we really, really have been praying for a family.) "We believe that our purpose here on the earth is to have families and learn how to return to live with God."  When he cut me off and asked "but is a same sex marriage a family?" And this is when I just said, (a little hesitantly) "No. That the law of God is for a family, a man and women, to have children and teach them his law." This is when he smiled and explained, "exactly, thank you, our purpose is to procreate and it’s impossible without a family." 

Which I was again taken aback because I expected to lose him once I explained our belief. This was such a wonderful experience for me because I remembered I need to be strong, I need to explain my beliefs and if they become offended it's ok. (be strong and all but be kind and courteous...)  So this is my new goal- to be strong in my belief. 

Also, we had intercambios (splits with other missionaries) with the Hermana’s. Crazy experience- so a couple days ago I contacted a girl on the street- who turns out to be a member preparing for a mission right now! So we gave her a word of advice and a little excitement and headed off- but in the intercambio she lives in the ward of the Hna and she left with us to visit investigators! Crazy coincidence. But even crazier is the day before the intercambio her family moved to a different part of Valdivia... which just happens to be in my sector! I am so excited to work with her and salir (leave) with her and teach and help her prep for her mission! I love how Heavenly Father is aware of all of His children. How He knew we needed help in our sector and how she needed help to prepare for the mission!

Then yesterday we had intercambios with members for the afternoon- I left with the stake pres. wife, Hna V, who is the pres. of the relief society It was so wonderful to spend hours just compartir (share) with her. I love this ward- they are so focused on the work!
Our little house here in Valdivia
Also, I think I found one of the reasons I am here- P. She is 14 year old, so dear and sweet, but a little bit on a hard spot in her life. She reminds me a lot of me at 14 years old. We have had 2 lessons with her and she is so beautiful. I am so excited to see her be happy in the wonderful, wonderful church!

We had a family home evening and we watched a video of the apostles baring testimony of Jesus Christ. I love the apostles and I love listening to them, and the spirit they have been bearing testimony. Then to finish the video and have the opportunity to then bear witness of him, to share my testimony after listening to these inspired men was so dear. I love being a representative of Him, of bearing testimony of Him in all I do. I love this experience and this opportunity to be a ¨Hermana¨

Elder Holland has this gem....

¨He missed the opportunity of a lifetime, because he didn't seize it in the lifetime of opportunity. ¨

This is the plan for today, then for this week, then the next week, then forever. To seize it. To live it right now. Because for me, this truly is the mission for me. And I LOVE it!

The church is true! 
Hermana Pelota (Ball)