Monday, November 24, 2014

Birthday on the Mission! :D

Today is my birthday. I turn 22. :) The members who fed us dinner last night surprised me with a birthday cake. It was especially pleasant because there was this conspiracy where they went all out and got a hold of my mother and asked what my favorite kind of cake was. She told them anything Batman so.... I got a Batman cake for my birthday. :) And it was a complete surprise! They have a lot of young kids and they all drew me pictures. I loved it. Complete strangers threw me a party for my birthday and I loved it. :)

Missionary life. There's nothing like it ha ha.

I am sad to see my companion go. Sister Melling and I got along from the very start, and she has also grown to become a dear friend. The next couple of days are going to be interesting. :) She is with me today until 4PM, when she goes to the mission office for a farewell dinner with President Nattress and the other missionaries. Then I will hang out with Sister Bleak and Reed, the other sisters in the zone. We'll pick her up, she'll spend her last night as a missionary with us and we take her to the airport at 5AM tomorrow.

Then she'll be gone. 

It is a time for her to reflect and assess over the past 18 months, and that has me reflecting and assessing as well. What have I done here? What have I learned? What have I become? Truthfully, I know I've changed. It's hard to define exactly how I've changed. What surprises me is that I've learned so much about loving and respecting myself. I've learned so much from having a companion with me all the time. I've learned I am worth loving, and that I should never settle for less than what I deserve from an eternal companion. Missions... they're the best marriage prep out there ha ha. :)

I'll be in a trio with Bleak and Reed until Wednesday, when I get my new companion. This time, I'm not so nervous to take over my area again. I've done it before, and Sister Melling has taught me a lot of skills. :) I am mostly just excited.

But in other news... my wards are amazing. Last night we ate dinner with these members (they were the ones who gave me a birthday cake.) and when we asked them to invite someone to the Mesa temple Christmas lights, they took it to heart.... and went right then to knock on their neighbors door and invite them!  :) It was AMAZING. I've never had people do that! Their neighbors said yes. Missionary work: it's not as scary as we tend to think it is ha ha. I can learn a lot from them. :)

Also, our investigator Mike is progressing. We taught the Plan of Salvation this weekend and apparently he was up all night just thinking about it. He said it just made so much sense! :D Lessons with him are what I pictured all lessons would be like. He just lights up when he starts to understand. And when we invited him to be baptized, he said - and I quote - "Oh yes, absolutely!"

Basically, he's just golden. :) And I love him and that family.

In a world where there is so much grief and pain and heartache... I am happy for what I have. I feel peace inside my soul, because I know where I come from, why I am here and where I am going. Life makes sense, even when it doesn't. :) 

I am loving life. I miss home, I miss the snow, I miss my family. But I am happy to be here. And I know I belong here. I look forward to the day when I get to see you all again, but I will make use of every day here. I'm changing, learning, growing. Meeting new friends and loving more people. I love it.

Thank you for everything. Thank you for your prayers. I need them. :)

With love,

Sister Ball

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Race is On!

So, here's the story: We got to do service at the Gilbert Days 5k run this week and we got to be race marshals! Which sounds real important, but really, we were just the people who stood in one place and waved all the runners in the right direction on the path. :) It was so fun! They drove us out into the middle of no where and dropped us off, and we still had some time before the race even started... so we took some pictures. :)

7 Month Mark

I hit 7 months yesterday. It's surreal that I now have less than a year left.

Sister Melling and I have much opportunity and reason to discuss going home, since she leaves the mission in like, 10 days. We took her bike apart on Saturday and packed it up. (We had help from our ward mission leader. We also learned that the left pedal is counter-threaded - which means that no matter how hard you try to loosen it the normal way, it will never come off. :) She's packing up all her belongings. Starting today, every day will be her last day of the week as a missionary. These things lead us to discuss going home ha ha.

We've decided that people are wrong when they say your mission changes you, because it doesn't. The choices that you make while you are on your mission is what changes you. Maybe one of the biggest things I've learned out here is just how much I am in control of my fate. I choose what I become. I create myself. :) Which means that when we go home - because we eventually do - the changing doesn't stop. We still have our ability to choose, and the choices we make at home change us as much as the choices we make out here do. :) (For that matter, the changing didn't begin when we became missionaries either.) 

So with my last 11 months, I'm going to take advantage of my environment and make the best choices I can. I created a vision for myself of what changes I want to see and I'm setting goals and making plans to achieve that vision. Somehow, that is trickier than it actually sounds. There's a lot of learning curves involved. But I'm stumbling along the best I know how. :)

Speaking of stumbling along... After Kevin's baptism, Sister Melling and I were faced with the sad reality that we now have no progressing investigators. As much as I tried not to let that bother me, I found myself getting discouraged as the week went on and we had very little to report for our efforts. I started to question myself - is this my fault? Do we have no work because I'm not a good enough missionary? Because I'm not bold enough, loving enough, motivated enough... suffice it to say I struggle with a lot. :) And those thoughts plagued me all week. 

But, the good news is that we have a member who's dating a non-member, and she arranged for them and us to have dinner together on Saturday. This is what we call a golden opportunity. :) We determined to do everything we could to qualify for the Spirit so that we'd be able to know how to best proceed with him. So we went tracting right before dinner. I do not like tracting, and I didn't want to do it. But I know that nothing brings the power of a missionary's calling out faster than an opportunity to testify - so we went and knocked on doors and testified our little hearts out! 

They weren't interested, but that is beside the point. The point is that we did it. And then we went to dinner. And Mike, out potential investigator, unloaded about 20 billion questions on us. And we ended up teaching the Restoration to him. And he loved it. And he agreed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. In short, he's pretty much golden and ready to hear the gospel. :)

Teaching missionaries are happy missionaries. It's amazing how much that one experience rejuvenated and encouraged me to keep going. Yes, I still have a lot to work on, but I'm trying not to get down on myself. Sister Melling has a quote on her wall that says "God only asks for your best, and your best is different each day." This is true. I can honestly say that I'm giving this my best effort, and it may not be the same as someone else's best - but God doesn't want someone else's best. He knows me and my circumstances, and He doesn't judge the outward results, only my heart. He knows when I'm weak. He knows when I'm strong.

There is just so much comfort in having a God that loves so perfectly. <3

Well, until net week. I love you all so very very much. :)

Cheerfully, Sister Ball

P.S. I turn 22 next week. Weird!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Bike Problems

So I'm getting really good at changing the tubes in my bike tires. And patching them. Here is picture proof.

We Are All Enlisted

So, Kevin got baptized this week. :) It was a very happy moment. His new ward has embraced him with all their hearts and souls. A lot of his non-member family came to support him and they all really loved it, and they thanked everyone for loving and embracing Kevin.

Really though. Friends make all the difference in a person's life.

CPR is missionary lingo for Church, Praying and Reading (the scriptures). That is what revives us from spiritual death and keeps our spirits alive and whole. I've been pondering on the church aspect of that formula. Prayer I understand well enough. That's how you communicate with God, and reading the scriptures is how He communicates with you. These things connect us with the Father of our Spirits. It makes sense.

But church? Why is that important?

So we take the sacrament there, and that once again connects us to God. That is a renewal of covenants, or promises, it is a fresh start and it turns our thoughts to Him. We receive the good word of God there, in classes. But that's often delivered by other people - if we wanted pure doctrine, we could just turn to the scriptures and General Conference, correct?

 But I'm learning that there is more than just that. We have three hours of meetings for a reason. We have auxiliaries and activities for a purpose. My theory is that it is so we do not have to muddle through this life alone.
Friends are so important. Church is a support system. It's a hospital full of people who are afflicted by sin, and we're all encouraging each other not to give in to the disease. We're giving each other hope by sharing methods of healing that we've found work for us. We're reassuring each other that there is hope, there is a cure. We're not alone in this fight.

That is why church is so important. Because human beings were not meant to be alone. God knew that. Just praying and reading is not enough to make us strong, because we're actually still just weak souls. We need each other to rely on. :) Church is amazing!

I watched Kevin's life change because of his friends. His friends reached out to him at school and invited him to church and to learn more about the gospel that was so important to them. He did, and he loved it. And he embraced it, while they embraced him. They answered his questions and helped him along the way. He matured a lot in the three and a half months since I've met him. The gospel has changed him and blessed him so immensely, even at 12 years old. And because of his friends, he doesn't have to make this transition alone. :)

Oh, how I love that kid. And I love being a missionary. I got sunburnt this week, but it's okay. Still worth it ha ha. :) 

Love you all. Until next week.

Sister Bethany Ball

Monday, November 3, 2014

Zone Picture!

This is my zone! Please note that my zone leader (3rd elder from the right) cannot do a normal nice face. He only knows how to be silly. :) I love these people so much!

This is Halloween... Mission Style :)

Okay, so basically, Halloween was the strangest day on my mission thus far. Why? Because we didn't go out to work! I woke up that morning and got down to pray that we'd be able to see... wait. NO ONE. We had no one in our plans for that day.
Never happened before. Probably will never happen again.

I dressed up as Sister Melling for the day. In other words, I wore her nametag and she wore mine. :) We had our weekly planning session and then we got to play games together with our zone. And we carved pumpkins. I carved my face into my pumpkin. It was the coolest. :) And then at 5:00, we went to the temple, which is where we spent the rest of the night. Four and a half hours we were there, which totally blew my mind because I spent that whole time thinking about eternity and exaltation and stuff. It made my brain hurt a little... but I think my spirit was happy.

In other news, Sister Melling and I accidentally set off a member's burglar alarm last night. The details of how we did this are unimportant. ;) But it resulted in us leaving an awkward message on their answering machine: "Um... not to alarm you, but we think we accidentally set off your alarm when we knocked on your door. Don't worry... it was just us. Nobody is trying to break in." Only after we hung up did we realize how funny it was that i said "Not to alarm you" and we spent about five minutes on the church library floor, just laughing.

We were real tired last night. :)

Other things happened... Kevin is getting ready for his baptism. Next week, I will be able to tell you the news that he is our newest member. :) We got a couple of referrals, which doesn't  happen very often so we were very excited. We got to go with Gus and his family to the Pheonix temple open house, which was astonishingly beautiful. While we were there, we invited his son Drew to take the lessons. He said he wasn't ready to... yet. But he does believe the gospel is true, and he does want to get married in the temple one day. So... things will work out. :)

I hope all is well with you. Life is grand and wonderful... and only a small percentage of our existence. Don't forget. ;) Thank goodness that we have all eternity to spend with the people we love the most.

Love, Sister Bethany Ball