Monday, November 2, 2015

Preach My Gospel!!

This is us with some of our favorite members.

I decided I wanted to go out on fire. So yesterday and this morning Sister Kranc and I went to visit people in our area that I knew and I told them (essentially) "I just dedicated the last 18 months of my life to this and it means the world to me. Will you allow the sisters come back and teach you? I know it will bless your life." We picked up 3 new investigators in the last 24 hours. Hurrah for Israel! I know this is the Lord's work! I know the Savior lives! I know the Book of Mormon is a true record with real people in it! I love the gospel and I want to live it and declare it forever! :D

Okay, outburst of excitement over. Except, not really. ;) Watch out Utah, here I come!

Seek This Jesus

Did I ever mention how much I love Nephi? He is my favorite Book of Mormon prophet. I love reading his record because I can see how human he was. He didn't start out with instant faith, he had to pray for it and it grew little by little as he journeyed along. He trusted in the Spirit to show him how to get the brass plates and then he grew more confident and trusted in the Spirit to help him build a boat and then grew more and eventually became king over a civilization and led them righteously. It can't have been easy.

The last words he wrote have spoken to my soul this past week. He said: "...I, Nephi, have written what I have written, and I esteem it as of great worth, and especially unto my people. For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry. And I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people. And the words which I have written in weakness will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good; it maketh known unto them of their fathers; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him, and to endure to the end, which is life eternal." (2 Nephi 33:3-4)

I love it because of how he speaks of his love for his people. He cried at night with concern for them. He worked tirelessly to persuade them to believe in Christ and follow Him because Nephi knew that that was the only way to find eternal life and happiness. He knew what he'd done during his ministry wasn't perfect, but he trusted that God would consecrate his efforts and make it good enough.

I guess you could say I feel similarly.

You can't help but get reflective and sentimental the last week of your mission, I guess. I tried. This was brutal. I never expected it to be so hard to end. (Mostly, it was so hard because I sincerely hate goodbyes. It got to the point this week where people would start to say "I'll probably never see you again!" and I would be like "Nope! Gotta go, bye!" And then I would run in the opposite direction. You probably think I'm joking but that actually did happen. Twice. Ha ha.)

No, but my point is that I look back and I can say I wasn't perfect. I wasn't everything everyone thought I should be all the time. But, I did my best to bring people to Christ. I loved everyone as much as I could. Most importantly, I never gave up. I always kept trying. So I know, even though I wasn't perfect.... I know the Lord will consecrate my efforts for the gain of the people I've taught. He has this amazing way of taking out imperfect offerings and transforming them into something incredible. Miracles happen every day in the mission field, and miracles can happen every day in our lives. That is what happens when you trust in the Lord. :)

I know Jesus Christ lives. When all is said and done that is what it comes down to. I have been touched and completely changed by His influence these past 18 months. He has made me into something better than I knew I could be. He loves each of us, and He never gives up on us. We are, too often, the ones who give up on ourselves. He never will. We are never out of His reach.

Approaching the end of your mission feels a lot like approaching death. It feels like my life is about to end, even as I know all the reasons why I've leaving. But as I sat in my last sacrament meeting yesterday, I had peace come over me and an excitement in my heart - as if the Lord was saying "Don't worry. I have a work for you to do in Utah."

So, the good news is that it's not ever. Not ever. I'm sad to leave (I have never felt such an unshakable sadness before) but I am excited to come home too. I can't wait to see what the Lord has for me there. I will always be a missionary, friends. I love the work too much to give it up now.

I truly, sincerely love you. And I will see you very soon.

All my love, Sister Ball

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Goofballs

Also, here is a picture of me and my goofball zone. These elders have been like my brothers this past transfer and I love each one of them. They make me laugh, as I'm sure you can guess. ;)

Forever Blessed

Once upon a time, there was a missionary. A very happy one. She was looking over her life one day and came to this conclusion: She was very, very blessed.
In case you were wondering, this missionary is me. ;)
The week has been a good one. Fasting for Amber and Kyle to quit smoking was an incredible experience. They still haven't quit smoking altogether, but they're both down to just one cigarette a day. For the longest time, Amber was stuck at two a day so we keep reminding her that this is remarkable progress. Especially for Kyle, who before this week hadn't been trying to quit at all! :) I have a testimony of fasting, folks. God always answers prayers and I know that before long, both of them will be free from this addiction. :)
A little miracle happened this week too. Remember Joe, who got baptized back in May while I was still with Sister Croft? Well, he moved out of the ward right after his baptism so we never see him anymore. :( But once in a great while I still find myself planning him in, hoping our paths will cross if we're in the apartments at the same time (his girlfriend lives there, so he stops in once in a while) One night our appointment cancelled and we felt this pull toward the apartments. We meandered that way and wa-bam, there was Joe just barely getting out of his truck. We were able to talk for over an hour and I am so proud of him! He still has this chain-link of scriptures Crofty and I made for him before she left and he keeps it in his office. Once in a while he'll be visiting with someone who is going through a rough time and he'll reach up and pull a link off the chain, read the scripture and it always turns out to be exactly what that person needs. :) How neat is that. He's being a little missionary. Joe is honestly one of the most selfless people I've ever met in my life. I feel so blessed to know him, and especially to see him at least once more before I go.
Talon is officially passed off the the YSA elders by now. He went the the YSA ward yesterday and lo and behold... there were many friends there he knew from school and stuff, so he felt welcomed and comfortable. It's hard to pass someone off when you love them so dearly. Fortunately, I trust those elders who have him now, and I trust the Lord. He was the one who told us it would be best for Talon to go to YSA anyway. :)
It's good to see the work move forward. Things are always moving and changing, much faster than I can keep track of. One of the things I've learned is simply to trust in the Lord. After all, He has guided my past and He will forever guide my future. Watching this period of my life come to a close is very, very hard. I don't like goodbyes and I don't like lasts and I don't like endings. All of those things are on my dislike list. :) I half-wish I could just stop it here so I would never have to deal with all the lasts.
But I'm very, very grateful for one more week.
We're having dinner with Amber and Kyle tonight (chicken salad sandwiches, yum! She said I had to choose a meal that didn't requite her turning on an oven because she has a curious tendency to turn things black when she uses an oven ha ha) and then we're watching the Joseph Smith movie together. We're going to invite Kyle to start taking the lessons now, pray for us! :) I bought her a journal to start writing down her story. I figured one day her kids will want to know how she came to gain a testimony that the church is true. These precious moments must be recorded, you know. ;)
I am so grateful to be a member of the restored church of Jesus Christ, folks. And I am so grateful to be his missionary. It is a blessing to be a witness to peoples' lives changing. It is a blessing to be on the Lord's errand. :) It is a blessing to know that THAT will never change, even post-mission I can still be His servant.
Well, have the best week ever and treasure each precious moment. I'll be doing the same. I love you all so much. Talk to you soon.
Love, Sister Ball

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Quick Note

So, time is short today. Today Sister Kranc and I are doing a thousand things. It's Canadian Thanksgiving! One of our members is hosting a big ol' Thanksgiving Dinner for Sister Kranc and I. She served in Sister Kranc's hometown on her mission, so that's kind of fun. :) And this morning we went shopping with Amber (you know you're best friends with your investigator when you go shopping together) and in about 20 minutes we're going to go play sports with the elders in our zone. We're going to play dodgeball. But the best part is that a member supplied Sister Kranc and I with an entire arsenal of nerf guns to unload on them midway through the game. Hey, we're the only sisters and we have to protect ourselves somehow!
But, the big miracle of the week.... (drumroll please) Kyle, Amber's fiancee sat in on a lesson with us! And he said the closing prayer! And he confessed to listening in on our lessons all along while pretending not to! And he asked for our help to quit smoking! And he might want to get baptized too! Yaaaaaay!
I am seriously so happy about that I could die. :]
Our entire Gospel Principles class joined in on a fast for Amber and Kyle to quit smoking. They threw out all their cigarettes and have decided not to buy any more. It is a huge miracle. And, Amber got a priesthood blessing last night. That was one of the most spiritual experiences of my mission thus far. Amber is amazing. That is all I can say.

And to top this all off... here is a picture of me at the temple. Nevermind the goofballs in the background. (They're some of my favorite elders, actually. I'm totally unloading the nerf guns on them first. ;)
Love you all! Have a great week!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Let's Talk Conference

But in all honesty, wasn't conference just so amazing? :D Sister Kranc and I spent the entire week counting down with childlike excitement - "Only 3 more sleeps until conference!" and after Sunday afternoon session was over we found ourselves sitting in the emptying chapel staring dejectedly into space while the ward members starting taking down the equipment. How can it be over already?
I always assumed that my last conference, because it is so close to my departing date, would be nothing but revelation for what I needed to do when I get home. False. I STILL had notes that had everything to do with my investigators. I called Duane that night and told him everything I'd learned on his behalf. He just laughed at me. -.- It's proving very difficult to get out of missionary mode ha ha, but by the last session I felt like I'd gotten answers for myself as well. Phew.
Speaking of Duane, he came up from Coolidge this week to take Sister Kranc and I out to lunch. It was so good to see him. :) I guess technically I'm not his missionary anymore - he has elders now - but I still feel a strong obligation to do everything I can to ensure his testimony is still growing. We still talk on the phone at least once a week. But, do you know what he did to me this week at lunch?? He bought me SUSHI and he made me try it. (Okay, he didn't MAKE me, I have my agency and stuff. But still! ;)
Actually, sushi isn't bad folks. Who knew. O.o
But, that isn't the most appalling part. I guess there's this green stuff called wasabi that always comes on the side with sushi. I didn't know what it was. Neither did Sister Kranc. So Duane put a little on each of our chopsticks and had us both try it at the same time  and let me tell you... it was not guacamole like I thought it was! That stuff hit me so hard my ears were ringing afterward.
So that was my introduction to wasabi. :)
Okay, that was a total side note. I'm going back to conference now. My favorite talk was by Brother Devin G. Durrant, who invited us to do two things:
1. Save just a little money each week. Small efforts, sustained over time, yields great results. ;)
2. "Ponderize" one scripture each week. This means put it in a place you will see it regularly and ponder what it means to you. Again, small efforts sustained over time yields great results.
I felt like that was direct revelation to me as a soon-to-return-missionary who wonders how she can ensure that her testimony will still grow post-mission.
Okay, but actually Elder's Hollands talk was probably my favorite. It just about shook my world. If you haven't heard it, you need to. It will change your perspective on mothers everywhere.
Basically, all of conference was great. :)
Other news of the week: Talon is actually not getting baptized on the 17th. :'( but, it is for a good reason. He told his parents - who are none too fond of the church - and they decided they would support him. Yaaay! :D But Talon's dad is going to be away on a business trip over the 17th and doesn't get back until Halloween... so if we want him to come, it has be sometime in November. So, the four of us (us, Talon and Emily) decided it was worth it and postponed the baptism to a later date. Does my heart hurt? Yes, but it is far more happy than it is hurt. :)
Amber is still amazing and golden. She came to conference with a question in mind, watched all the session except one (she had to work) but recorded that one and is watching it today. Amazing. That's all I can say about her. Also, she is threatening to lock me in her closet so I can't leave. But that's another story. :]
Being a missionary is just wonderful. At times, I wish I could slow down time so I could enjoy the moment even more. But that doesn't work, they pass by quicker than you can blink. But, eternity is made up of these little moments and I am so, so grateful that my eternity is made up of so many beautiful and happy moments. <3 There are still so many memories to make.
I love you all! Don't forget to pray. Prayer changes lives. :) Have a great week!
Love, Sister Ball

Kranc and Kowen

Me and my companion! Off to another day of proselyting!

Amber adopted a blind dog this week and he is seriously the sweetest creature I have ever met in his life. His name is Kowen. :) I want to take him home with me. But I might not have room in my suitcases.