Monday, July 28, 2014

Pictures!

These pictures tell the stories of some of my Arizonian adventures. :)

You will see my favorite blue skirt that got destroyed by my bike brakes.
You will see me and my old apartment-mates soaking wet because we danced in the rain. :)

You will see Sister Taylor and I being happy because it is raining! You will see our feet tanlines.

You will see the view of a dust storm from our window. (It doesn't quite do the dust storm justice, but still...) Oh, and that was at night. That's a streetlight you're seeing.







Temple View! :D

Hi! Hey! Have you people been praying for me? Thank you SO MUCH. I feel them. I feel your prayers, uplifting, buoying me up. And this week has been the BEST ever. So thank you. Thank you. :)
Guess what? I am now serving in the Temple View zone. Which is in the part of Gilbert where the temple is. We have our weekly meetings at the church building next to the temple. I can see the temple as we're proselyting. Heck, I LIVE DOWN THE STREET FROM THE TEMPLE. Is this not the best place ever? :D
And as if that wasn't good enough, this area is bursting with work! We have several investigators, most of them young boys, and then there's two recent converts who are on fire with the gospel. One recent convert, Gus, leaned over to my companion in church yesterday and says "Psst... you need new investigators." And she was like "Are you going to help us with that?" To which he replies "Yes I am!"
Cue floodgates of teaching opportunities. ;) He is so cool. And Victoria is as well. She says she cannot wait for her first year to be up so that she can go to the temple. :)
And is if THAT wasn't good enough, I love my companion. I adore her with every bit of my soul. Her name is Sister Taylor. She's from Nebraska. She rides horses. She wants to go to Russia. But mostly, I just love her. :) And I learn so much from her. She's a Sister Training Leader, so she goes on exchanges frequently with other sisters - thus giving me an opportunity to go on exchanges with other sisters and learn from them too! This is going to be an amazing transfer. :)
One of my goals this transfer is to develop a habit of service. In the priesthood session of last conference, President Eyring describes three traits he admires most in his heros: "One is a pattern of prayer, the second is a habit of service, and the third is a rock-hard decision to behonest."
My goal for this transfer is to develop a habit of service. With every person that I meet, I am going to ask myself "How can I help this person's life be better?" I've been doing that for the past couple of days and I tell you, I am one happy missionary. :) Service truly blesses me, if no one else.
I am so happy to be out here, so happy to be with Sister Taylor, so happy to be serving others. Have I mentioned that I am happy? Well... I am. :) Life is beautiful and wonderful. I know that to be true. And I love you people. Thank you. For your prayers. And letters. And everything. :)
With wholehearted love,
Sister Ball

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Faith-ful

I heard this analogy yesterday in church:

Pretend like it's a hot day, and so you decide to go swimming at the lake. So you get there, and you see this sign and it says: "DANGER: WHIRLPOOL. DO NOT SWIM."

Well, now you have a few options. If you DON'T go swimming, then you can play on the shore. Or go hiking. Or climb a tree. Heck, you can go hang-gliding! Fly an airplane! :D Or you can go back home, work on a craft, listen to music, or go hand out with friends. You can go out to lunch. You can play lazer tag. You could even go swimming in an indoor pool! You can do anything your heart desires. You have options.

But what if you decided to go swimming anyway? Well, then you wouldn't have quite so many options. You could try to swim your way out of the whirlpool. You could cry for help. Either way, it's going to be hard.

Well, God's commandments are like that sign. They warn us of danger so we don't go swimming in a whirlpool. Consequently, we are free to do other things. Safe things. Happy things. :) But the choice is entirely ours. God gave us our agency to choose. Do with that what you will. :)




Guess what? I am getting transferred. We got the calls last night. I had a mini freak-out moment, because I was so sure that I was staying. I still feel very attached to my area and the people here. I've bonded. I love them. I thought I would stay to take care of them for longer, but clearly God has somewhere else for me to be.

Transfers are a strange things. Well, mission life in general is strange, but transfers are strange. :) They require a lot of trust in God. If it was up to me, I would have chosen to stay here because of the bond I've formed with some of the people in this area. I knew when I met them that God had placed me here so that I could meet them. They've influenced me, and I hope I've influenced them for the better. If it was up to me, I would stay here and continue to serve them.

But Heavenly Father knows all His children. And somewhere in this Arizona Gilbert Mission is a new area, with new people for me to meet. God has this all figured out, and I just have to trust Him. It's strange to know that on Wednesday I'll be going somewhere, but I don't know where yet. It's strange to think that that somewhere will become my new home, with new challenges and new blessings.

Strange, but in a good way. I know I'll be going where I'm needed. And I'm excited. I'm going to try my hardest to be a blessing to my new area and new companion. :)




I just want you people to know that I know that Jesus Christ lives and He loves you. I spent a good amount of time reflecting on that this week. Christ endured some very unendurable things. Why? He had the power to stop it. But if He didn't suffer the pain of our sins, then we would all be lost. And He loved us. Losing us would have been too high a cost. That love is what gave Him the strength to endure.
He loves you. Don't forget that. Even when things are unimaginable hard, and it feels like you are being attacked on every side, your Savior loves you.

And I love you too. :)

Sincerely, Sister Ball

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dust Storm

So this is the dust storm that blew through my little area a couple of weeks ago. :) I was not outside in it, thank goodness, but I tell you... it was magnificent to watch. from inside.




Desert RAIN!!!!

SO let me tell you about the rain.

Wait, back up. Let me tell you about the heat first. Actually, I need to tell you about my Sunday church marathon.

Well... truly though, the story starts with Gilda. 

Gilda is a member of this less-active family we're teaching. She is so cool. And her family is so cool. They are all so cool. :) And their favorite thing in the whole world is soccer. :) They are from Argentina, so they are die-hard Argentina soccer fans. When we met them a few weeks ago they all left no doubt in our minds about how much they loved their soccer! They become animated anytime they speak about it. They LOVE soccer, and we LOVE them.

Now I guess yesterday was the world soccer cup or something like that...?? It was a big soccer game, anyway. And Gilda and her sister came to church dressed in vibrant blue and yellow (her teams colors) and we sat with them. At this point in time, Sister Ball and I had been to two wards already AND early morning meetings. (We were at the church from 8-5 yesterday. No joke.) Our brains were a little fried.

Turns out, Gilda had been watching the big game but it went into overtime because no one was scoring! D: And instead of staying to watch the game, her favorite game in the world, the biggest event of the YEAR for her and her family... Gilda and her sister came to church. :O I was so amazed at her dedication.

Now, you're probably wondering what this has to do with rain. ;) Well, Arizona rain is to me what soccer is to Gilda's family. I LOVE IT. I live for it! I crave it with every ounce of my soul. And I hadn't had a chance to see it yet. :( Well, in Relief Society - the last hour of our nine-hour church marathon - we heard thunder. And I got so excited. Sister Ball and I excused ourselves to go peek outside the window. And guess what? The sky was GRAY! There were storm clouds, like I've never seen here in Arizona! It was bound to rain any moment. 

I was so tempted at that moment to skip the last hour of church and wait outside for the rain. But I just couldn't do it. I realized that if Gilda could skip the greatest soccer game of all time, then I could skip this Arizona storm. So I did. It came and went in that single hour of Relief Society.

So I've been thinking about this little lesson. It's kind of silly that we would sacrifice such rare, great events just to go to a meeting that happens every single week, right? Truthfully, I don't think our salvation hinges on that single hour of church that we both sacrificed so much to go to. I don't think anything was said during that hour of Relief Society that really touched me, that I NEEDED to be there for. That single church meeting wasn't that big of a deal, truly.

So why did we miss things that meant so much to us?

Because it IS the little things that matter so much. It wasn't really the meetings that mattered so much as it was our dedication to serve God. It showed humility, trust, a desire to obey. And it strengthened our humility, trust, and desire to obey. :) Like I said in my last letter, sometimes obedience doesn't make sense. Would we have been condemned for missing that hour of church? Probably not. But because we sacrificed what mattered so much to us, something inside of us changed. We changed, for the better. God's commandments are not here to dictate what we do - they are here to help us become better. :) But that's something you have to experience to see. Only when you keep God's commandments do you start to see the changes in yourself. <3 Keeping the commandments makes you happier. That's what they're there to do.

Oh, and on a side note... Sometimes God intentionally pours blessings upon you for your obedience. ;) Later that night, before we went to bed, it started pouring rain again. So we went out and we danced in the rain. <3 

And that is my happy tale. The end.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Guardrails, Not Fences

As a missionary, you continually hear about the blessings that come from obedience. They tell you to be exactly obedient all the time. I never questioned it, but this week I think I've gained a testimony of that to a greater degree.

Every morning, every missionary in the Gilbert Mission recites our purpose as missionaries, D&C 4,  How to Begin Teaching points and a few other things. I got tired of it fast ha ha, once I memorized everything. I didn't see the point. I thought it was a waste of valuable time. But I did it anyway, without really knowing why. >.<

Well I had a really bad night one night. In the morning, I didn't want to get up and I didn't want to get ready and I most certainly did NOT want to recite our daily mantra ha ha. But I did. And the craziest thing happened. As we recited D&C 4, I felt power and energy pour back into my bones. I felt life back back into me. I was able to work that day. 

So I've reflected on that a lot these past few days. And I've decided that the rules we're given as missionary are guardrails, not fences. It's more than Heavenly Father blessing us because we are obedient - the obedience itself acts as a blessing. We're cut off from everything worldly - TV, music, lazy days - so that we can come closer to the Savior. We only write home once a week so our whole soul can be poured into the work we have here. We work all day, every day, so that we can learn to be selfless.

Why do we recite things every morning? Well, I'm still not entirely sure to be honest. But I do it anyway. :) And I trust that it blesses me in ways that I don't fully understand.

Truthfully, I think all of God's commandments are that way. They're given to direct us, to help us be happy. Not to restrict us, but to free us. :) And you can't learn that without actually being obedient. That testimony doesn't come from study, but from action. <3

Anyway. So the 4th of July was great! We didn't get to watch fireworks as missionaries, but that's okay. Arizona gave us our own firework show the next day: Thunderstorms! I've seen some pretty cool thunderstorms, but Arizona storms are something else entirely. LIGHTNING. EVERY FEW SECONDS. The sky was lighting up left and right in a crackling display of dazzling electrical power! I was in awe. 

And... it didn't rain. >.< no monsoons YET. But I hope soon. :) Pray for Arizona rain, folks! :D

Oh, another thing I learned this week: Apparently, if you leave the keys inside the mission car, the car automatically locks. (something about protecting it from being stolen, I assume) Which is all fine and dandy. Except then you have to call the car coordinator and explain that you locked the keys in the car. And then you have to walk to your next appointment. 

But I learned how kind our car coordinator, Elder Greenhalgh, really is! He didn't chastise me for my mistake, he simply came as soon as he could, gave us a ride back to our car, cheerfully asked how our work was going, unlocked our car, and sent us on our way! I was so happy. :) We have some awesome senior missionaries in our mission. I love them.

We started teaching a new investigator this week. He is married to a sister in the ward, someone who I've grown to love a great deal over the past few weeks. So I feel a great responsibility in teaching him, because of the trust she has in us as missionaries, and the love she has for him. 

I guess everyone we teach is a sacred trust, though. Everyone is loved and cherished by our Heavenly Father, and He wants us to try our hardest to teach them by the Spirit so that they can receive exaltation. It was very humbling for me to realize. :)

Anyway. Life is grand and wonderful. As always. :) Have a great week, and remember that God loves you! And every day, He sends you tender mercies. :)

Love, Sister Ball

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Smarties, Parties, and Scorpions. Oh My!

Guess what I learned this week? I learned that most scorpions out here are NOT life-threatening. However, their poison is very painful. And it lasts for 24 hours. And then you're just numb for days afterward. :)

It's funny, I never thought I would get stung by a scorpion out here. The thought just never crossed my mind! I knew there were scorpions in Arizona... I knew I would also be in Arizona... I knew we would be in the same general vicinity. I just never realized I might get stung. But on Thursday, we were doing service at a members house and she was cooking us breakfast. After we got done we came and sat on her barstools and chatted with her while she cooked.

(Side note: I was sitting on a BARSTOOL. With my feet OFF THE GROUND. And my shoes were ON MY FEET. How that scorpion got to me, I have no idea.)

All of the sudden, I started experiencing this sharp burning pain in my toes! I pulled off my shoes and socks and examined my foot. Nothing. Looked down at the ground... Scorpion! Trying to run away! I very calmly told Sister Ball there was a scorpion and then proceeded to wonder if scorpion stings were lethal.

(Side note: Our member was a black lady from the south. I hear it was quite entertaining to watch her freak out and kill the scorpion with a frying pan. I missed the show due to my distraction.)

Long story short: We called our mission nurse and she said there was nothing to do but wait for the pain to pass. We put my foot in some ice water and I was kind of a baby for the rest of the day. It felt like I'd been injected with acid. But no worries! I am fine! :) Funnily enough, my toe is still numb and probably will be for a while, according to our members. 

Sometimes, the worst that could happen really isn't that bad. :) It was painful, yes, but I remember sitting on the couch and thinking "This is bearable." Kind of like biking in the 112 degree weather out here. It may not be desirable, but it is bearable. I haven't met anything yet that I cannot handle. The Lord has truly been looking out for me. :)

Also, speaking of miracles, I had one of those crazy miracle only-happens-on-a-mission experience last night. Sister Ball and I had an hour penciled in to go out and OYM. We biked around our neighborhoods but NOBODY was out. We felt like we were wandering aimlessly, wasting time. But then Sister Ball was like "Hey... let's go down this street!" for no particular reason. And so we did. And we ran into this lady. And her name was Rosie. And she's looking for a church to join. And before we could even share our testimonies or invite her to learn more, she was like "Hey, my sister gave me a Book of Mormon and I have a load of questions! Can you come over this Thursday at four?" And we were like... "Uh, yeah!"

Bam. Just like that, people are falling out of the sky for us to teach. :)

Anyway, guess what? Today is the Arizona Gilbert Mission's 1st birthday. Yes, it has only been its own mission for a year. :) Our whole mission got together to celebrate this morning We had breakfast, played sports and little games. We played in sprinklers, and with water balloons. It was quite a sight to see 200+ missionaries running around on church grounds, tossing water balloons into the air with slingshots and trying to catch them with towels. :) 

And at the party there were little candies as prizes for some of the games. And Sister Ball the Elder won me a bunch of smarties. Because she loves me and is the best companion ever, that's why. :)

(Oh, side note: The members in our wards have discovered my love for smarties. Erin's family actually gave me a whole soda bottle filled with smarties at her baptism. I told them that means that we are best friends for life. :) As if teaching them the gospel wasn't enough!)

I love being out here. I love teaching. It was surreal to be at the celebratory party today and realize that so many of these missionaries were here when the Gilbert mission was organized! And they're going home soon! And me... I'm going to be here for the second year anniversary. I still have so much of my mission left to serve. And I'm okay with that. Miracles abound. I love seeing them unfold.

I was just telling President Nattress today... My prayers are always answered. Every time, without fail.  And yet I find myself surprised almost every time. Will I ever reach the point when I cease to be surprised when miracles happen? Well, maybe. But I hope I never cease to be amazed at the power of God. He has been looking out for me, He has been looking out for my family, and He has been looking out for the people out here in Arizona. I love watching it all happen. It's a marvelous time to be a missionary.

For that matter, it's a marvelous time to be alive. I love living. Life is beautiful and wonderful. I love you all. :)

Sincerely, Sister Ball