Friday, April 25, 2014

Sisters West, Ball, Grow, and Lenker

Hi friends and family!

You hear a lot of things about the MTC. It seems that people either love it or hate it. Well, I love it. But it has been so hard. I don't think there has ever been a time in my life when I have cried so much is such a short amount of time ha ha.
My emotions are so much sharper here! I've never felt frustration like when I don't understand how to be a teacher and a friend at the same time. I've never felt grief like the times when my lessons go horribly wrong. I've never felt so overwhelmed that I find myself speechless before!

But on the flipside, I've never felt so close to my Heavenly Father as when I poured out on my frustration, grief and pain to Him in prayer. I've never felt so tender as when my teacher finally just sat with me and very patiently helped me overcome my mental blocks that prevented me from learning. I've never felt so humbled before. I've never felt so loved. And I have never felt joy like when I knelt with my investigator and listened to her first humble, uncertain prayer.
Missionary work is amazing. I leave in four days for the field and while I don't think I'll ever be completely ready, I feel calm. God's hand has been in my learning all along. He's been listening to my prayers. I'm not in this one alone. <3
By the way, I feel it is important to mention that Sister West is the Best Companion Ever. During gym some odd number of days ago, I hurt my knee and spent the rest of the day limping. She stepped up and took the best care of me! Even though I hate being taken care of. She ignored my stubborn protests and took me up and down the elevator, carried trays for me, got things for me, loved me and made me laugh. By the end of the day my knee miraculously healed itself (no, really though) and our companionship was stronger than ever. She is the best. :)
Speaking of laughing... we were cleaning the showers the other day and I attached this foaming cleaner stuff to an industrial strength hose... and then proceeded to spray myself in the face with it! Turns out I had put it own backwards ha ha. We laughed forever about that! I was soaked! And I smelled like cleaner for the rest of the day!
Yeah, things are great here. But I miss you guys! Four days till I leave for the field! I can't wait!
With love,
Sister Ball

Two Weeks Later...

So my RM friends told me that on the mission "Days feel like weeks and weeks feel like days."
I never realized that was so literally true.
It's only been, what, three days? It feels like far, far longer than that. Like last night at dinner I was trying to remember details of a lesson from days before and my companion was like... "Sister... that was this morning." And I was like, "REALLY???"
I have a couple of theories of why this is.
One: there are no distractions at the MTC. No media, movies, cell phones, ect. We account for  every moment we are here. Time just doesn't get away from us!
Two: The Lord knows that 12 days really isn't enough time to prepare us to be full time missionaries. So He extends the time by making the days longer for us. :)
My companion, Sister West is so awesome! I was worried it would be so hard to have someone with me ALL the time, but Sister West has become like my best friend. We have so much fun together! She's from Alaska and every time we walk outside she's like "It's so green here! And the flowers are so bright! And the sky is so blue!" Every time we're inside, she just gravitates to the window. We're laughing together all the time. We both love singing and music, and - my mission prep friends will love this - we've been called as the music coordinators in our branch! Which basically means we pick the hymns we sing in church. :)
If I were to sum up all my lessons from the MTC it would probably go something like this:
Teachers: The most important part of missionary work is seeing others as God sees them, and loving them like God loves them. So, what is the most important part of missionary work?
Us: Teaching the gospel! Yaaaay!
Teachers: Actually, it's seeing others as God sees them, and loving them like God loves them. So you're going to teach an investigator for th first time. What's the most important thing to remember?
Us: All the scriptures in all the lessons! Yaaaay!
Teachers: Actually, it's seeing him as God sees him, and loving him like God loves him. So when you're out street contacting, what should you do?
Us: Give a Book of Mormon to everyone! Yaaaay!
Teachers: Actually, you should be seeing others as God sees them, and loving them like God loves them.
Basically, the most important part of missionary work is seeing others as God sees them, and loving them like God loves them. I'm really having to humble myself because I came here with this preconceived idea of what I would be like as a missionary. I've been attending mission prep for over two years, and I thought I would be ready. But I've had to tear down my own pride and start opening my mind and heart to what my teachers and my companion are teaching me. Most importantly, I need to listen to what the Spirit is trying to teach me. When I do that, then I will become the missionary - and the person - God wants me to be.
So, I'll end with a funny story. Sister West and I had waaay too much fun in the cafeteria today. I don't know how we did this, but we managed to lap around all the food at least three times and every time, we saw something small that we really wanted to devour.. But it was all wimpy stuff - salad, smoothies, cottage cheese, muffins, drinks. SO we had to go around a fourth time and get some real food so we would make it to dinner without starving and so by the time we sat down we had a ton of food. Like, we took up extra space at the tables. And Denise knows this: I CANNOT leave food on my plate. So I ate all of it. So right now, I'm pretty stuffed ha ha. Shouldn't have eaten the tiny muffin. :) Probably not that funny to you, but Sister West and I were cracking up over it. It was just so ridiculous!
Anyway... I love you all! And I love the MTC! It is great! The gospel is true, and Jesus Christ loves you. I still have several weeks... ahem, days, here at the MTC and I hope to hear from you by next Friday! Especially since I forgot to get anyone's email address.. so if you want emails from me, email me first! Two-liners are acceptable. :)
Be of good cheer, my friends and family. Life is wonderful.
All my love,
Sister Ball

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Day my Talk Got Lost in Cyberspace

The day of my farewell started at 6:00 AM for me, when I was rudely awoken from a deep and blissful slumber by an emotion: Sheer terror.

There's something about everyone on the whole planet coming from all corners of the earth just to hear you give a speech that makes a person a little nervous. I rolled out of bed and began praying in a very panicky way.I prayed for help, for calm, for peace, for the Spirit, for help. And for help. I prayed for lots of help. Then I got up and thought to myself "This is probably what I'm going to be doing every day of my mission: praying for help."

The help came, I tell you. :) Something happened and the document containing the details of my talk did NOT get saved, and I learned this only twenty minutes before I had to get to the church. So it was a shorthand version of the major points of my talk that accompanied me to the stand. I delivered twenty minutes of words from memory and sat down feeling very discouraged. The talk did not go as I had planned.

But here's the amazing thing: afterwards, people came and told me that what I had said had touched them, and had been exactly what they needed to hear.

It leaves me wondering how often the things that go wrong in our lives are actually for our benefit, and for the benefit of those around us. Because I lost my talk, I had to rely more on the Spirit than on myself. And the Spirit took my panicky, shakey self and put words into my mouth that touched others.

Amazing! Our lives are being guided more than we realize. Just watch for it and you will see. :)

Overall, the best part of my farewell was all my family who came from various places across the states to support me. I got to see grandparents from both sides, uncles and aunts and cousins, not to mention my great grandpa and his amazing wife. I'm just so happy to call them family! They are a wonderful bunch and I'm grateful for them and their prayers and love. Family really is a gift from God.

Photo: My children who are still at home. Might not be this way ever again. They are all growing up.

April 16th is coming so soon! Next stop: MTC! :D