Monday, January 26, 2015

Forging New Friendships

Hey, time for some mid-transfer news! :D
I've been here for about three weeks now, and I'm starting to feel like I know more people. We're working with a small teaching pool, and most of our efforts are devoted to finding new investigators. Sister Huefner is just the greatest, and I love being her companion. I'm learning a lot from her. She is super good at working with the members. We, or, well, mostly she, knows a lot of the non-members around here just from being friendly and talking to everyone. We get referrals from our members on a regular basis. Some people let us in, some don't. It's all okay. :) We're always busy and we're seeing lots of little miracles along the way.

I like this kind of work - the kind where we just talk to everyone. I like getting to know people. In the beginning of my mission, talking to people scared me so much. It still does, to an extent, but Sister Huefner has been such an example to me. She's shown me, just by the way she is, that it's so easy to make friends and strike up conversations that lead to the gospel. Even after she goes home at the end of this six weeks, there are some of her skills that I hope I will still carry with me. :)
This area has also brought to me my first opportunity to work with addiction recovery. In helping some of our less actives quit smoking, I'm learning about repentance in a new way. I'm learning that the principles of addiction recovery can apply to every person on this earth because they are the principles of how to use the Atonement in ones life. Repenting is so much more than erasing sins or wrongs, though it certainly does that. It is the way we come unto Christ, the way we bring His light into our life. It is us, changing in small ways to become better and happier. It is how we heal. Repentance has come to mean so much to me.
I've never liked to do something that I felt I wasn't good at. That was the reason behind me quitting piano, or never learning to dance. It didn't come easily and my slow progress always discouraged me. To avoid those feelings, I just stopped trying.

I often feel like I'm not good at this whole missionary thing and that is unbearably frustrating to me. But the thing is I cannot quit this time. I mean, I could, but I really don't want to. So I'm still here, and still trying even though it's not easy, and I may never excel. And this has brought me to start learning things I've never learned before. I'm learning about repentance. I'm learning about the Atonement. My progress is slow and sometimes it feels like my friends are few. But I have the one friend who counts, and that is my Savior Jesus Christ. Two people can do anything, as long as one of those people is the Lord. :) How wonderful that He promises to help each one of us.
Anyway. Other random tidbits: Citrus is in season here. I eat oranges to the filling of my hearts desire. :) Also grapefruit. And I tried a pomelo for the first time yesterday. Spoiler alert: It tastes like a grapefruit. Though apparently they aren't even in the same family. -.-
Sunsets here are incredible. Yesterday there was pink on every side, 360 degrees around. And with the palm trees silhouetted against it, it often feels like I am in paradise.
I gave a talk in church last Sunday. My first talk as a missionary! It probably wasn't a complete disaster, to be reasonable, but it sure felt like it ha ha. About midway through I was like "Oh forget it. I'm done speaking." So I grabbed a nearby hymnbook, sang "Brightly Beams our Fathers Mercy", bore my testimony and sat down. I felt much better doing that then speaking. I might do it every time! Be prepared for my homecoming talk. ;) In some ways, I feel like I've gotten more bold. Ot just cared less what people think. Or I just have a bit more of an attitude. Not sure which, exactly. Probably all of the above ha ha.
Sister Huefner plays the ukelele. Sometimes we just sing primary songs to the playing of her ukelele before bed. It's a delightful end to our long days. :)
So. That's it for today. Tune in next week for more of these messages. I love you all... I truly do. :)
Sincerely, Sister Bethany Ball

Monday, January 19, 2015

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New Begginings

Okay, so transfer calls came late last week so I wasn't able to tell you what the news was. But it was very surprising news: I was getting transferred out of my area. It came as a shock because Sister Hutchinson and I were so sure we were staying together for six more weeks! And I truly didn't feel like it was my time to leave.
So it was with a sad heart that I re-packed all my things and said goodbye to the beloved people I'd worked with for six months. Those wards were my home, those people my friends and that area held my heart.
Cue transfers. In a whirlwind of action and activity, my whole world changed again. I am now in a new stake, but I'm only a few miles from where I was at ha ha. :) I'm serving now with Sister Huefner (pronounced Huff-ner) in the Highland zone. This is the poorest area I've served in thus far. Not a bad thing, but it's taken me a minute to adjust. But as I've been here and met people and learned what's going on, I'm beginning to see the Lord's wisdom in His transferring me.
Sister Huefner is amazing. She is happy and she loves everyone. She and I laugh a lot, and we also laugh with our investigators. She has a fantastic relationship with all of them and I have grown to love them too.
Also, we live with a member now! And to my utmost delight, she is the same member that I stayed with my first night in the mission, before I'd even gotten my first companion! She is a remarkable single lady, and we will often talk with her when we get home and laugh together.
Mostly, this new area is a happy thing for me. Change is a good thing, I've decided. And I'm growing because of it. I don't understand completely why I'm here, but I'm trusting the Lord. He has this uncanny way of knowing better than I do what I need. :)
I'll keep you updated! Love you all! :)
Sister Ball

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2015

So. It's the new year. And I can officially say that I go home this year. Strange to say, but it is true. :)

Okay, so I feel like I've lived a lifetime in seven days. This week has been long and unusual. Mostly because we moved. We discovered a situation that made our apartment unsuitable to live in, so we moved very quickly and chaotically. It left me in a daze. We're now living in a new house with two other companionships. This living situation is temporary until they find somewhere permanent for us to go, so we still haven't unpacked. I feel like I'm living in limbo, but hey, it's okay. I'm still having fun. :) For now, if you send me anything, send it to the mission office because I don't know where I'll be living.

Also, transfers are on Wednesday. I still don't know if Sister Hutchinson and I will be staying together, but we sincerely hope so! We are great friends and we want another six weeks together. :)

We went to the Mesa Temple visitors center with our investigator Mike on Saturday. That was fun. We've also been visiting one of our recent converts, Ariana, a lot. She came out with us one night to visit some people and we encountered a less-active who flirted with us.. a lot. Eh... We promptly passed him off to the elders. :)

We've been working with a part-member family whose son is leaving on a mission fairly soon. It's been cool to see him preparing to go and change lives, and to see the effect that has on his dad. I love working with these people particularly. I love the ones who seem to have a sincere desire to learn and grow and become better. It is that humility that prepares them to use the Atonement in their lives.

I've come to realize that the Lord wants me to learn the value of being flexible. Because, well, I'm not. I want a set plan, and then to stick rigidly to that plan ALWAYS. But that isn't how the work has been going, nor how my life has gone ever. And I'm just coming to learn to embrace everything that God sends my way. I think I understand better now what Elder Wirthlin meant when he said "Come what may, and love it." Embrace the sad, the happy, the confusing and the clear. Laugh along the way. Life will go on and everything will be okay. Everything will be okay in the end! If it is not okay... then it is not the end.

So there are the words of wisdom borne of my musings. I hope I learn this flexibility thing real soon so that God will stop sending me so many unexpected things. But then, maybe that's not how it works. Oh well. :)

I love you all. Life is beautiful and fantastic. If it doesn't seem that way, you are listening to the wrong voice. ;) God loves you with a love that doesn't end. Never forget.

Love, Sister Ball

Christmas Day

For Christmas, we watched Narnia together with our zone. It was good fun. I'm all wrapped up in the blanket that Sister Hutchinson gave me for Christmas. :)




These are pictures our members took as we Skyped home. :) Also some Elders from our zone came over and we all got to eat lunch together. It was a super nice Christmas. :)






He Is the Gift

December 22, 2014

So. This is the thing. Christmas is in a few days. Woah. If you have not seen the video "He is the Gift" already (or come to thing of it, even if you have) you need to see it.

I know that not everybody loves Christmas, and I can say that because I am one of the ones who doesn't. :) But please allow me to share with you one tiny thing: The pain you experience around this time of year can be erased because of the very thing we celebrate. Christ was born. Because of love. Love from a Heavenly Father to all His children, love from a Savior to each of us. All I can say is I know the Atonement is real. Christ is the ultimate caregiver of our souls. He empathizes with us wholly and with the utmost love and devotion. You don't have to feel alone. You're not. 

So there. That is the thing I have learned this week. Take it for what you will. :)

In other news, our investigator Mike is progressing forward splendidly. Sister Hutchinson and I sang "Away in a Manger" in sacrament meeting yesterday. He sat in the congregation and pulled faces at us the whole time. We have a fantastic relationship ha ha. xD 

We had our mission Christmas part on Friday. This involved about 180 missionaries crammed into a church gym playing a bunch of "Minute to Win It" games which, of course, required no skill and resulted in lots of laughter. Then we went into the chapel and our mission president's mother actually spoke ot us. She told us some stories about President Nattress as a kid. More laughter. More insights on what it's like to be a parent. (I tell you, I've learned more about parenting from my mission president than anything else.) And then we were all given a colored ring light and a white balloon. The balloons represented each person in our mission who'd been baptized this past year. There were about 470-ish of them. We went outside and released them into the sky while we sang "Silent Night". It was quite beautiful.

So yeah. Life is beautiful and wonderful. Please have a wonderful Christmas. Remember love and peace. Remember God is there for you. :)

With lots of love, Sister Bethany Ball

P.S. I learned this week that the song "White Christmas" was written here in Arizona. Which might explain why I've had it stuck in my head periodically all season. :) Enjoy the weather, wherever you are!