Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Temple Visit

So we got to go to the temple a couple of weeks ago! It made my life better. :)  

A little bit about my zone: There is Sister Taylor and I (of course) and Sister Bleak and Sister Carroll. Those sisters have a car, so they give Sister Taylor and I rides when we go to district meeting or other various things. We LOVE Sister Carroll and Bleak. They have been companions for 7 1/2 months now - Can you imagine being with someone 24/7 for that long? But they are best of friends and SO FUNNY. They do this handshake that is super cool. I love them. :)

Elder McStraw and Elder Carroll are our zone leaders. Our zone is a like a family, and Elder McStraw and Carroll are like the parents. They are fantastic at letting each one of us know that we are cared about and valued. Our zone likes to get up early and get together to play soccer a couple of times a week. (The hour between 6-7 AM is free game for recreational activities. Mission life. Love it. ;) Elder Carroll always picks me for his team, even though I really can't play. But he doesn't even act condescending, he acts like he really believes I am a valuable member of the team. I like that about him. Elder McStraw is a goofball. But he's like the glue that holds this zone together somehow. :) We love Elder McStraw.

Elder McBride and Elder Whitecar (pronounced wit-eh-ker) are our district leaders. They give us a call every night to make sure we made it home safe and ask how our day was. They're a fun pair, and we ask a question of a day to them. Things like "Would you rather be a vampire or a werewolf?" or "Which Hogwarts house would you be in?" or even "What are you going to name your first child?"

Yeah. That happens. :)

Elder Legrande is from France, in the country, next to the border of Spain. He didn't speak English before he came, but he speaks remarkably well after only 6 months. :) He is our best soccer player. He's also someone who will pass me the ball, even if I can't play ha ha. I like him, he's fun. His companion is Elder Ramone, who is the best goalie ever. Elder Ramone is from Micronesia, and he was once telling us about how he used to climb coconut trees and play in the coral reefs. Like, as a normal everyday occurrence. And I was like O.O at that fact.

Elder Merrill usually provides music when we have our weekly planning meeting. His companion, Elder Hansen is waiting for his visa to Africa. They're a quiet pair, usually. Elder Foxx is from Arizona, serving in Arizona. :) He was in my MTC district, actually, so I know him pretty decently well. And Elder Furse is MISSING from the picture, but he's cool. He likes to hunt and stuff. And last week he made peach cobbler for the whole zone. It was good.

There. Cliffnotes version of my zone. I love them to death. :)

P.S. I found Elder Furse. He's right in the front, hiding in plain sight. Ha ha ha ha :)

Sometimes My Companion...

Sometimes my companion makes me laugh. Sometimes I find her to be my favorite person in the world. Sometimes she tries to catch baby geckos... and their tails pop off! :O Woah. Didn't see that coming. Sometimes my companion laughs at me when I dance on my bike. Sometimes my companion go over to the other sister's house for a sleepover, and we sleep on the floor. We sleep surprisingly soundly. :) Sometimes my companion goes away for a leadership meeting for a WHOLE DAY and I miss her so bad! And so I glomptackleattack her when she returns. :) Sometimes my companion inspires me. Sometimes, my companion is just my best friend. Suffice it to say, I love Sister Taylor! :D

Anyway. Allow me to tell you of my adventures.

A while back, we went over to a members house for dinner. (This happens often, by the way.) And they brought over some nonmember friends who they had given a Book of Mormon to. Which we did not expect, but that is okay. Unexpected teaching opportunities? We will take those. :) But as it turns out, his friends, Florencio and Betty spoke hardly any English and of course, I do not speak Spanish. (I tried once. It comes out Russian.) Sister Taylor knows how to say the Book of Mormon is true, and that is it.

So it was a very disjointed conversation at dinner, with our member acting as translator the whole time. But we learned that they'd been reading the BOM and they knew it was true, and that they had been waiting for missionaries to come to their door for 6 months! So they had jumped at the opportunity to come to dinner with us. We bore our testimonies and there was no translation required at this point. He gave us his address down in Pheonix and we sent the missionaries over the next day. Our member called us the other day and told us that they are getting baptized now. :) Happy happy day!

So let's see... Our recent convert, Gus, has found a nice LDS lady and they are now getting married and have plans to live happily ever after. We are invited to the wedding. We are happy for him. But we never talk to him anymore, because he is so head-over-heels in love and spends all his time with her. But really, we are happy for them both. Even if we do miss him, ha ha. :)

Another recent convert has moved into our ward and her name is Arianna. I love her. So much. She is so funny and stuff. :) We're going to be teaching her the new member lessons, so we're going to be spending time with her over the next few weeks. This makes me happy. 

We're still teaching Kevin and Sabrina, the family from China. Kevin plans on being baptized, and his mom really wants him to serve a mission ha ha. They're good people. And they fed us a moon pie. Do you know what a moon pie is? It's lotus bean curd and salted egg yolk. It was honestly the strangest thing I have ever eaten in my life. Not gross, mind you. But very strange. But hey, people are always asking me what the strangest thing I've ever eaten is. I'm always like "Nothing. I'm serving in ARIZONA. It's all normal food here." Ha ha ha. But now I have a good story to tell people. :)

Oh and guess what? It was only 99 degrees here on Saturday. It was so nice and cool. And then I was laughing at myself because there was a day when 99 degrees was unbearable. Times have changed my friends. :) But really... Weather has been nice. Which is good because we've been doing a lot of service lately. We work with the elders at this one ladys house almost every Saturday, and we love it. She has a farm with horses and stuff and every time we're there I just want to own a farm. :) This week, we were digging up old dead plants. And there was this huge cactus that she wanted removed. Do you know how to remove a prickly spiney cactus that is intent on staying where it is? Yeah, me either. We never did figure it out. :)

Anyway... I hope all is well for you lovely people. Thank you for your letters and emails. They mean the world to me. It's so strange to think that Utah State is starting up again. Life is moving forward without me. O.o But it's okay. I love being a missionary. I can't think of anything else I'd rather be doing right now. 

Have a great week! 

Love, Sister Ball

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sometimes We Swim On the Sidewalk!

I witnessed my first actual monsoon last night. :) After about five minutes of this rain, the roads were flooded with water. I kid you not. Sister Taylor and I had to ride out bikes home in that! It was delightful, but actually a little hard because we couldn't see from all the water in our faces ha ha. 

But then, when we got home, we kicked of our shoes and went dancing in the rain. We danced and sang and jumped and kicked water at each other. Then we laid down in the biggest puddle we could find (still dressed in our Sunday best) and just dorked around in the water. It was the most fun I've ever had in a rainstorm. Somehow, being in skirts just made it a lot funnier. xD

But seriously, this week was a good one. We had two baptisms on Saturday, one of a 9-year-old boy and then one in my last area in Mesa. Her name is Natalie, and she and her boyfriend Taylor are seriously my favorite people to hang around with. They are so much fun. He baptized her, and that was a tender moment to my heart. Because now they can be sealed together in the temple. :)

The longer I spend out here, the more I know that families really are the greatest gift that God has given to us. They are the most fundamental unit in society. They are the center of our lives. There is this quote that I see in so many members homes: "A missionary is someone who leaves their family for a while so that others can be with their families forever." I love that. I miss my family like crazy sometimes, but it is okay. I will be back with them soon enough, and in the meantime, I see so many others taking steps to become sealed together for eternity. That makes everything worth it. :)

We're working hard to find more people to teach (everyone is getting baptized, thus depleting our teaching pool ha ha) and we're seeing miracles every day. Just yesterday, one of our potential investigators called us out of the blue and asked if we could pray for her. That made my heart happy. :) 

Life is good and wonderful my friends. I hope you are happy and well. I hope you see the tender mercies of the Lord in your lives. They are everywhere, not just for missionaries or members of the church, but for every one of God's children. He loves us all. :)

Sincerely, Sister Ball

Monday, August 4, 2014

Moving Day Pictures

Last week Sister Taylor and I helped these people move from a moving truck into a storage unit ha ha. It was SO HOT that day. And the storage unit got so hot inside, that it actually felt cool when we stepped out into the 110 degree weather ha ha. I was sweating like you wouldn't believe. Good times. :)

Building A Temple

Hi everyone!

So guess what? Last night, the architect who directed the work on the Arizona Gilbert Temple came and spoke to one of my wards. Sister Taylor and I brought an investigator and I learned some amazing things by listening to him. He really just told the story of his life and stuff, and then how the temple came to look how it does. It sounds boring, and at first it was. But let me tell you... I learned so much. I could never relate to you all the stories he told us that took place during the construction of that beautiful building. But, I will tell you the three most important things I learned:

1: God doesn't care what your past or background is like. He will call you to do incredible things, whether you feel like you are worthy of that calling or not. Brother Lambright had a "thorny childhood" as he called it. And it was, indeed, very thorny. He really has no formal schooling. No joke. Yet he was still asked to build a temple. He expressed that he often felt so inadequate, and feared that he was not doing the temple the justice it deserved. How often do we feel the same way? But God asked him to build it, so He made it possible.

Which leads me to #2: God build the Arizona Gilbert Temple. Not a man. It was all in God's hands. The miracles Brother Lambright related to us were small, simple and very frequent. Some of the intricate designs carved into the temple walls were initially scribbled on scraps of paper during sacrament meeting. Lesson learned? God built that temple, and He cared about every detail. He cared about what it looked like. He cared about where the stones came from. (Brother Lambright and his wife had to fly to Jerusalem and spend ten days learning about rocks.) He cared about the grounds. He cared about the wood. He cared about everything. He built that temple.

3: If God cares so much about every little detail that goes into the temples construction, how much more He must care about every little detail that goes into our "construction"? After all, we are His children. He wants us to be built strong, beautiful and perfect. (See Matthew 5:48) He invests infinite amounts of time to make sure the best quality materials are used. Next time you are going through a hard time, just remember that God is building you. You are His work and His glory, surpassing even that of his beautiful temples. He loves you so much, and His commitment to your character is never-ending. 

I've definitely seen that out here. Sometimes I wonder if I'm even out here for other people... it seems like all I'm doing is a lot of learning and growing myself!

Not that we're not making a lot of contact with other people, mind you. ;) Yesterday we taught this lady and her son. They come from China. And her grasp on the concept of God is very childlike. She asked us the most basic questions, but they were the most astounding. There were moments when I didn't know what to say. I didn't know how to answer. All I could tell her was what I know: God is real. He exists. He is our Father. He loves us.

I cannot imagine not knowing that I am a daughter of God. That knowledge is ingrained in my very soul. What if you didn't know that the most all-powerful being in the whole universe knew you by name, and cared about you?

Mind-blowing. Yet to her, she cannot seem to comprehend it. My whole mind and heart is devoted to her lately. I feel this need to help her understand how loved she is. I feel this need to help her feel that God is there. I love her so much... Is this why missionaries become so attached to their investigators? I feel like my heart will burst! :)

Anyway... I hope I make sense. I just write the words that pop into my head, in whatever order they come. :) I do have a good funny story to tell you guys though! 
The other night, Sister Taylor and I ran out of water, so we stopped at a members house to refill. She answered the door, we asked for water, she let us in. (This is standard procedure) We chatted as we refilled out water bottles. She seemed slightly uneasy to have us there, but I figured she might be a less-active or something. (I still don't know all the people in these new wards) We usually share a scripture with our members, even if we're just stopping for water, but Sister Taylor quite abruptly said we had to go and rushed us out of there. I was perturbed, but I followed. Once outside, she looked at me with wide eyes and said "I think that was the wrong house." We checked out little ward list and sure enough, the members we though we were visiting were the house next door.

Which means we just walked into a complete strangers house. And chatted like we knew them. And called them by the wrong name. Huh. Embrace the awkward moments! xD

That's mission life for you! I love my area and I love my companion. This morning we got up super early to go set up the reception center that's next to the temple. This involved finding a secret passageway in the church building and having many adventures with our awesome zone. Plus, we went to Kneaders for breakfast afterward. It was so much fun. :)

I love you guys. Thank you for all your letters and emails and prayers and support. They mean so much. Have a great week!

Love, Sister Ball