Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Stronger and stronger every day...

¨We follow Christ because we love Him.¨ -Elder Gonzalez (of the 70.)

These last 3 months have been the hardest of my mission. But I have figured a lot out. And I have found more and more who Christ is. 

You can say you love someone or know them, when you can say things about them. What they like, what makes them happy, how they are, etc. And I have been trying to figure that out about Christ, so that I can always stay, stronger and stronger every time that I follow Him because I truly love Him. 

These last months I really haven´t been able to rely on anyone. I have had to be the strong one, always. With the members, my companion and the girls for whom I am responsible. And it’s hard to always be strong. This week I had a really spiritual experience with my dear mission president in our interviews. But sometimes its rough to have the deep good things because they are accompanied with the deep hard things. I love being a missionary so much. I love having my name badge with our families name and with His name. Literally knowing I have been set apart by His power to act in His name. 

But sometimes being a missionary is a very lonely thing. I really wouldn´t change it. I am just learning how to learn from it. 

It was one of those weeks. Where I was always with people and running around and it was so good. But it’s been a bit lonely for a while. And this morning I think I figured out the reason why.  I believe He is preparing me for this Holy week. Here in Puerto Cisnes I have no other option but to pray so much, to study about the atonement- His suffering, His death and His resurrection and prepare to receive love from General Conference.

Like I said, this week we had interviews. Friday was crazy. We were on the bus for 8 hours- 4 hours there, a quick and so solid interview and a yummy snack with the missionaries. 

The interviews were awesome because we had one little one with our mission president and our companions. We went over what’s going down in Puerto Cisnes and a made plan. He gave us the advice to give the branch a spiritual experience to get them involved. 

So I went into branch council with a very humble heart. We explained about our interview with president and his advice and simply explained what we are doing, isn´t working. We are no seeing progress, no one is in church and there is nothing. Then we got a little real with them. It was a wonderful meeting. We made a new plan on how the members can be more involved. We also will be fasting together as leaders for success and specifically for us to find families. 

I also bore testimony of the priesthood. I explained how we don´t have Elder missionaries here who can receive revelation for us. I couldn’t help but cry just a little thinking about dad and my companions only priesthood holder, he brother.  And looking at Hermano Coronado and president Ancamil, the two most influential priesthood leaders of any of my wards in my mission and explaining simply... that we had them. That we needed them and their worthiness to receive revelation for us. 

I am so happy. While in interviews, President Obeso, my dear friend, explained that he knows what is going on here. But that there is more work I need to do- and even though we find out cambios next week he explained that I would be staying here in Puerto Cisnes.

I am so, so happy. If you don’t know I love this branch. But it also was one of those "ok, just breathe in and think what we are going to do now" moments. I was hoping for an area where I could work with lots of progressing people. But it looks like I am just going to have to make Puerto Cisnes that area! 

On our bus ride home we were almost in an accident. Our bus went to pass another on a hill and a truck was coming towards us- it was on my side of the window and it was one of those scary experiences where I just closed my eyes, braced myself and leaned out of the way. I don´t know what happened, ha-ah I had my eyes closed. But we were all good. Right after I looked at my companion and we both gave one of those little nervous laughs and breathed out. 

But then I got kind of quite in the bus and I couldn´t help but think about what if.. You know what if something had happened. And honestly I felt so much peace in that minute. One of those deep peaces from Heavenly Father. Just hours before, I had my interview with president where I was able to be very real with him and I also was able to finally receive my temple recommend. (I haven´t had one for months now- we haven't met with him since October.) But I have it! And even though I have hours in airplane to the closest temple I know I am worthy to enter. And I thought about that in the bus- how I am worthy! And how grateful I am for the priesthood and the Book of Mormon and temples and my mission and the branch here and everything wonderful. 

We were able to then finish the bus ride and made it in time for us to run to a ward activity. It was such a fun, spiritual crazy day. Up at 4:30, the 8 hours in bus, the interviews, the activity and lots of bus time to think. But we had one investigator in the activity! For the first time since Hermana O! So good. 

This week we also had a couple service gems. We had F- hah the cute grandma from the photos last week. We visited her and as every time we scream a hymn and full on scream a prayer so she can hear. Ha-ha best. 

We also were able to help one of our investigators break some big sticks and branches for her fire- then she made us the humblest and yummiest little dinner! Such a nice evening. 
Then ok, did you see the picture of the two little kids with the bikes? She is so cute. She calls me auntie (its a Chilean thing I love.) and I call her my niece. But we were walking and there was the big hill and she’s ¨auntie can you help us. My brother’s bike is too big. ¨ So I grabbed his bike and we made our way down and up the other side. My companion is the best and snagged a picture. But how cute are they. The thing is here the parents may not listen to me but I am a best friend with all the kids in the street. :) 

I have to run. But I love you! I am so happy for this last week because I learned so much- and I’m happier because I know this week is a missionaries dream! Have a happy Easter and conference weekend! 

xoxo Hna Ball

 When I say it rains here, this is what I mean

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Autumn in Patagonia

¨Vamos a hacer algo extraordinario¨ (Let's do something extraordinary) -Emma Smith (first relief society mtg)

Happy anniversary of the Relief Society and the 1st week of the Chilean ¨Autumn. ¨

We celebrated it with a sweet relief society activity and a crazy 4 days in Coyhaique and Aysen.

In the activity we talked about the first relief society meeting. There is a quote that talks about how they were a ¨small and diverse group of dedicated woman.¨  In the first meeting they had 20 woman- we have literally half that, but nonetheless a group of dedicated women with a whole lot of heart!

Also, intercambios (exchanges) were rocking. I was with Hermana Ventura- from the Dominican Republic and Hermana Laguna- from Peru! It was cool because in the beginning of December I had intercambios with them, then I have been helping each week from the phone and it was sooo cool to be with them one on one yet again! It sweeeeet how much they have grown and how confident they are. Love.

We are really good friends. First, we went to Aysen and rocked it rain style. I forgot my rain boots in the sister’s house in Coyahique but the girls in Aysen had an extra pair from me. Pink cheetah print. Ha-ha, I was the happiest 6 years old.

But, we really worked hard. After the 24 hours I felt really good with what we did. We specifically had one lesson that rocked. It was with a 23 year old kid who had been preparing for a misión then fell off a little. We had the lesson with the institute teacher and taught about how the book of Mormon is guidance for our lives, like the Liahona. Super powerful. Love. Also it was just fun with Hna V. Including lots of street lessons and I had to break into the house through a window in my pink cheetah boots and skirt..... (But ha-ha no stress it was her house! we locked the keys and cellphone inside. :) ) ha-ha oh boy...always an adventure with Hna Ball. Shoot.

Then we bused off. Well first, ran blocks and blocks like crazies in the pouring rain and watched the bus take off with out us. Then bused off :) to Coyhaique. This week was crazy. We literally ran everywhere. And had to eat in the bus or not eat. One of those crazy weeks.

But Hermana L is a rockstar. I know when I have intercambios with her we are going to work! And we worked hard. Had a bunch of crazy great lessons, almost killed a cat, ran to lesson to lesson, and had a bunch of little crazy things. 

Example 1- going to a lesson with contacts from the Street. Teaching them both, then setting the next appointment. Asking then whom they knew who we could visit-- then immediately visiting the person who they told us, finding him, teaching. So cool. It was one of those intercambios where we literally worked our buns off all day and entered the house with less than 2 minutes before it was curfew. So good.

I love working with the sisters. They have so much excitement and such strong spirits to just work. It’s exciting and every time I leave on a spiritual high. It was cool because president challenged us to be ¨real friends¨ to love and all, but to give it straight. Which is what I did, we got real and it rocked.

It’s hard traveling so much, being out of the sector. But so stinking worth it. We did the math; I have now slept on a cold floor for almost the equivalent of a month. And I absolutely loooove it.

Also in Coyhaique, I got mail for the first time since forever. Like 3 months or something. Christmas cards! Woohooo! I got 4 letters from gma ball, and 2 packages from gma ball (where she scored. happy dance scored. love) and 3 postcards, one from dad (love the photo. my companion was all. who is that? looks like I’ve changed a bit... :)), Kyle and Emily Jorgensen. Also 3 letters, a valentine’s card that was so cute from mom, one from the familia kujanpaa and one from Elder Bobby Alger.

Then the craziest 4-hour bus ride back. SMASHED. Ha-ha the knees are purple and blue. Not love. But love.

It sometimes is hard to get out of Puerto Cisnes into the "real world" because I forgot how fast and crazy and progressing and "successful" missionary work can be. My companion and me had one of "those" moments where we both felt it. I asked her how she felt, really felt, about finishing her misión and all. We both ended in tears as she explained a little and I explained a little, not frustration, but on how I have been here for months and we have almost nothing. But then I started naming off the miracles we do have in the branch. And that’s where we are. We really have seen a huge change here. It’s humbling to work so hard with investigators and have no progress. But it’s rewarding to see a real change in a branch. Just little gems--

We started with zero and now have a Ward activity every other week. We started them off, but now each week a different organization takes a turn.

We have gained confidence with every family and can see it. We have also entered a members house that before, no. And we are seeing a huge change.

We had our bible class, but now we have one of the members teaching!

We have our Ward misión leader who is taking charge in Ward council and really involved.

We have a less active that had now returned and she now is a teacher in the primary.

Hermana O is progressing so much and loves her calling.

And when I started naming of these little things all we could do was smile, give a quick hug and give a prayer.

I love this branch so much.

We have family V. Converts. They are the first members here in gold ole Puerto Cisnes. They brought the church here, worked with 3 misión presidente to get missionaries and then for 16 years he was the branch president and for a good time the church was in their home. She is whom I am giving English classes to so she can work in the temple. And she is our new bible teacher! (And their daughter M. who I give wood chopping lessons to and is starting to leave on visits with us!)

We have Hna A. Convert. She is so darling and sassy and cooks a killer pizza. She has 2 daughters in the church. Really the church is made up of her family.

Hna O and Hna C. Converts. Our old papitos and our misión leader. Rock stars. Literally give all they can for us.

Hna V and presidente A. Converts. Great family. So chill. We had Christmas with them. They really guide the branch here.

Hna N. Convert. Sassiest. My new best friend. Makes me laugh so hard. I sent home a photo of our fhe (family home evening) yesterday. So good. She has set me up with her 8-year-old son so we can be family for real.

Then we have family S. converts. I went with them to bosque encantado. (Enchanted Forest)  They are great. He takes the church serious and I love it. Studies more than anyone I know here and she are really down to earth.

Then we have my little gems.

Hermana T. Convert. She is yes or yes, darling. We read, cook, sing, study and do it all. She is the president of the relief society and a true convert of the heart.

Hna O. Convert. Who is rocking it. She is my grandma great here. Cooks the best bread and gives the cutest smile before her prayers.

Hermana B- convert.  Our mamita. She is my grandma. So kind hearted. Cooks the yummiest beans. And gives the biggest hugs.

Hermano U. Lives alone. His daughter studies far away but when she is here we are working with her. She is so cute and 16 and a member! He is the Ward secretary and a hard worker.

Then lastly Hermana E. She is who has returned. Works a lot and has a very strong testimony of the Book of Mormon. Also always has the warmest fire in her house.

And now you know Puerto cisnes.

I can´t wait for you to get to know them for real.

Well family. I love you. Bye. xoxo

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Volcanos erupting, earthquakes quaking, and testifying of Christ

I am going to send these in segments because the rain is so bad the lights keep going in and out and I think we are going to lose power again. 
¨There shall be thunderings and lightnings for the space of many hours and the earth shall shake and tremble...¨   The prophets have never spoken truer words! 
We have had a crazy couple of days. I sent home some pictures of sun... yeah those were from last p-day. We have had TERRENCIAL rain. I would say I have never seen rain like this, but I have lived in the south of Chile for almost 15 months... its crazy. 
But the crazy thing is its just normal. It was one of those socks, underwear and I think my bones were soaked kind of weeks. One of those where it is so loud on the roofs that during a lesson we had to all move our chairs in, almost knee to knee to hear, or when we called our district leader only one of us could talk because it was so loud we really couldn’t hear with the phone on speaker, or when we were so wet that we decided the only thing to do was buy a brownie to eat, but before we could finish eating it was soaking wet ha-ha. One of those kind of weeks. The truth is I love it. It’s the craziest of adventures living in the Patagonia. 
Also, the unluckily stories about Friday the 13th aren´t just stories... we had a 4.9 earthquake! But here is the funny thing, when it was happening we were so confused because it was so rainy and just then we were walking by a metal fence (I sent a photo home from this morning) but it starting shaking like crazy and the vines  
(hheeey I am chatting with someone from California in the library. What? English is so cool.) 
Ok, but anyways long story short, we thought there were just guys on the other side of the fence messing with us so the water from the vines would fall. Ha-ha, but no!  It was an earthquake! Then we had a second really small one. But it was sweeet. It's because there is a volcano off the shore that has been dancing. It hasn´t erupted, but its just puffin. This week we travel to Coyhaique and I am just hoping it waits to erupt until we come back.
But speaking of crazy rain, we have 7 new waterfalls on the mountain just from the last 24 hours! 
And the problem with the rain is everyone feels bad for us and they feed us soooo much. Ha-ha. So many empanadas. (I am just pretending to complain. it’s the best. warm bread or empanadas and our coats warming up next to the fires. beeeest.) 
-Hna O is doing really, really well. Yesterday we had our branch conference- 36 people in church! Craaazy good! But she bore testimony and her story about finding the truth and peace. Love. Ha-ha and she is number one on the warm bread and fire list. So cute. 
Also we have our 3 investigators. 
-F. It's such a bummer because we have a rock star lesson with her and then we cant find her for work, or because her husband is there or something. Crazy. 
-E- is progressing. Little for little. She is a rock star. 
- M. I told you about finding her with Nicole (from viña del mar) well get this. We have taught her twice and she is receptive. She is really interested in the idea of the preearth life. How her family was together then and lived with God. 
This week we also did a bunch of service. There is one cute little grandma,  and her daughter who has Down Syndrome who we always visit to chop wood and sing hymns. They are so cute and I have gained the trust of her daughter and get the biiiiigest hugs. Love. Also it’s cool because F is the daughter of one of the very first women to colonize Puerto Cisnes. 
Also, we had an awesome ward activity. We are getting the branch to get more involved and its really successful. Our ward mission lider gave the lesson on the plan of salvation and it was sooo good. Tears all around.  He is our old papito and a real gem. Reminds me of dad more than anyone that I have met here in Chile. Love. 

But sometimes I don´t know how I am so lucky to be living a pure adventure. It like you said mom, I am living trek just without the handcart. And instead of a handcart it’s just an axe for chopping wood, rain boots and a Book of Mormon. 

I love Puerto Cisnes. Yes, I have never been so rejected in my life! But I really am happy. The singed hair is back, 2 nights ago we had to out run a drunk (grandma, don’t stress. It wasn’t bad), and I am so wet. But I am sooo happy. 
I especially love being with the members. I love reading and singing and serving with them. 
I love my personal studies. I love reading and understanding the scriptures. I love teaching lessons and I love testifying. 
I love service. 
This week. So we were in lunch and the member. (The same who when I asked what we could do, asked for a little bit of my hair for a doll.) Well we were eating and someone knocked on the door and explained their dog killed the neighbor’s cat. Ha-ha so what do we do, I clean it up and my companion gags and snaps a photo. Ha-ha so funny. 
Even with out a bunch of investigators we are keeping really busy. I love these days when we only have a 10-minute break to change the wet clothes, use the bathroom and eat a hard-boiled egg. 
I sure love you family. I´m love saying my nightly prayers because I´ve got a cute picture of all of you on a little quote wall by my bed and I see it right before I pray and I just think about how much I love you and how crazy blessed we are. 
I love you. xoxox. Hna ball

Monday, March 9, 2015

Catching fire, literally

¨Stand fast in the work wherewith I have called you... (D&C 9:14) ... And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. ¨ (Matt 28:20)

It´s true. I know I am exactly where Heavenly Father has called me to be- I love Puerto Cisnes. I have just over 3 months here and I love it. 

Yes, I´ve knocked every door (and a lot twice!), talked to just about every person, it rains all the days and is cold and there are 1000 dogs and we literally don´t have investigators (this is the hardest part. we are trying so hard and have no one progressing.) Buuut, we have successes.

 And I know these scriptures were written just for me- That I am where I have been called and He´s with me, even here at the end of the world.

I love this branch. We´re few. Like 30. (We have about 5 families and a handful of faithful women who come alone.) But I have really come to know and love these saints.

Yesterday, we were in Ward council and I just again looked around and thought about how lucky I am- every single person in first generation member and they are rock stars.

We have been teaching each family the lessons. This week we had a lot of success in teaching the Restoration- but also not only teaching it, but also teaching how they can teach it to others.

Also, there is one of our members who want to serve a mission in the temple with her husband- so tomorrow I am going to start English classes. So cool! She knows a bit so we are going to just focus on phrases and things to help people in the temple. LOOOVE. When she was explaining her idea to me she said, "I want to help people, you know like, you need a pair of socks...¨ ha-ha so cute.

Also, you remember our friend N who was visiting from Viña del Mar? Well get this, we had rock star lessons with her and her dad and dad's girlfriend. So we had 2 lessons. One was on the Book of Mormon and we showed a siiick Mormon message explaining the story then when through and read it with them. But the best part was we had given her the books early and she wrote a sweet message and her testimony in them.

Her dad wasn´t too interested in the message before- then she pulled out the Book of Mormon and testified and the spirit was so strong and he completely changed. Then we had our other lesson fhe (family home evening) and explained the restoration. It was so good. I am excited to see what happens. The only bummer is N had to go back to Viña and her dad had to leave to work in the ocean for the rest of this month. We have a lesson today with E (the girlfriend) so hopefully when R comes back we´ll still be good!

Also we are finding a real big problem here. The people don´t feel the need to repent or be cleaned from sin. It's a small and chill pueblo and they really aren´t doing anything bad or crazy. Just living good simple lives. So we have been trying to fight this. But it’s all good. We have a few people who might be able to progress. Hopefully R and E or a couple others. But we´ll just have to see.

We saw Heavenly Fathers hand with one of our less actives. We have been trying to get to know her and teach but without luck. Well we saw her and got her phone number and had an appointment for the lesson the next week. Well that afternoon we called right before the lessons to see if she was still good and we went over and started to talk when she got emotional explaining she had forgotten we were going to come by today and she is in a really rough situation. And was so lost and didn't know what to do so she prayed and just close to tears asked God what to do when she said amen, we called. I am so grateful to be a daughter of God. Or more so to know that I am and what that signifies. We just testified of Him and His plan and have another appointment planned. Wooohoo. I hope this time she is ready to act. The other times not so much, but I think now is the time!

Then we had a second cool little miracle- we had 10 minutes left of the day that we could enter a house to teach or we had to be in the house for the day. So we were a knocking and a lady let us in- we had rock star super simple but great 15-minute lesson. But here’s the thing- shooot. She works and leaves today, like everyone else. We have great lessons, feel the spirit and then they have to leave for a month of work and then come back for 2 weeks then leave again for half a month then have a week etc. because we are on the ocean. So it’s cool. But rough.

Other cute thing, Hermana O. So we had lunch with her this week and she explained how she was in the mountains and it was quiet and she was alone and thought about José Smith and how wonderful it is and what if God appeared to her. I love little conversations like this because it shows that this gospel really is becoming a part of her!

Also still love being a Hermana Líder. (Sister trainer) its cool and great and the best. I love the meeting and calling and helping and loving and serving the girls.
Gems of the week.
Our mamita (a mamita is the member who feeds us 5 days of the week. its a lot of work and a big sacrifice here. then for her to have the weekend we eat with a member on Saturday and we cook on Sundays) our last mamita was so good to us. Really, really crazy good. And i don´t know if I’ve explained- grandma Simpkins wrote and asked about here so here’s a bit about our Darling mamita Hermana Bernarda. 

She doesn´t just feed us but she does it with so much love. Like the other night she just showed up with two pieces of homemade cake while we were doing planning. So cute. She makes the BEST meat empanadas. And feeds us like royalty. Everyday we have a 3-course meal. A starter (salad, soup or empanadas) then we have the dish (today was salmon that was fresh from this morning and yummy onion.) then we have salads, juice salad everyday we end with a little dessert. Crazy. She is so loving.

Also gem number 2. Sometimes we have random little service things that I love. I’m now a pro 15 minutes woodchopper.

We study right next to the fire because it gets pretty cold with the rain and this week I was studying and I guess I was sitting a bit close and burned a big ole love mark in my skirt. Ha-ha so sketch. But I’ve got a needle and thread so it’s good.

Also people are still telling us about they have seen us on YouTube and Facebook or we were also on the pueblos TV cannel from pescado frito. Hah the Mormons are famous! We were in a lesson and the lady’s all ¨hey i saw you guys on the TV¨

I love you!
Sending Patagonian vibes your way.

xoxo Hna Ball