Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Whitewashed... Surprise!

Please allow me to give you a brief synopsis of events this past week that have led me to be in my 4th area with my 6th companion.
Monday morning: Transfer calls never seem to come. I finally cave in and call my zone leaders to beg for information. They tell me that I am, in fact, staying. This makes logical sense, seeing how Sister Huefner was going home. But still, it didn't seem quite right.
Monday afternoon: We drop off Sister Huefner at the mission office and I go with another companionship, Sister Croft and Sister Caldwell, to go shopping and stuff. About an hour later I get a call from Sister Huefner. She'd just gotten out of her departing interview with President Nattress and she had some life-altering news for me: I was, in fact, getting transferred. Due to the fact that 8 sisters were leaving and only 4 coming in, some sister areas had to get whitewashed and elders were to come in. Mine was to be one of them. O.O
The next few days were chaos. We got up at 4 AM Tuesday morning to take Sister Huefner to the mission office again. She cried when we said out last prayer together. I probably would have too, if I was the crying kind of person. It was hard to say goodbye. She's been one of my favorite companions. And then came the challenging part - running two areas and getting ready to leave. Between Croft's area and mine, we were over five wards and we had a few lessons to teach. Both Sister Caldwell and I were leaving, so we both had to pack and say goodbye to the ward leaders.

We worked it out so that Sister Croft and I were together much of the time while Sister Caldwell went with another companionship - divide and conquer sort of thing. :) Even so, we were up late late late packing. Sleep kinda went out the window there for a while. (It showed too, because I tried to go through a car wash with my bike on the bike rack behind me. That is just a major no no ha ha ha. Learned that lesson. :))
Some amount of late nights and early mornings later, transfer meeting came. The BEST surprise ever happened to me - President Nattress put me with Sister Croft. Cue girlie happy dance moment. We were already sitting together of course and we both jumped up and hugged each other and laughed delightedly.
So here I am. I'm only about a mile and a half away from my last area and I'm still in the same zone. New stake though. I'm now over three wards and we have more investigators than I've seen in a while. Plus we're putting together a giant stake youth activity - yikes! Work here is fast paced, and I feel so good. :) Last week I still felt like I was kind of in a rut, progressing but very slowly. Here in my new area I feel so needed and I just love it. I introduced myself in three new wards and I did my best to learn names and faces and make friends quickly. It energized me.
More than anything, I just feel like I belong here. In my last area, it always felt like a temporary home. I think President always meant to leave me there just one transfer and I knew it. But this new place - I think I'll be staying awhile. And I'm thrilled to death. Plus, I just love Sister Croft. We were roomates my first transfer with Sister Ball, so I've known her my whole mission and we just have so much fun together. This is the first time I've become companions with someone who was my friend first - and I love it! :D
I already feel a connection with out investigators too. One is the maintenance guy in our apartment complex. It's a funny story -  he came in contact with the church because Sister Croft breaks everything so he kept coming to the apartment to fix things. He finally just started asking questions. And then coming to devotionals. And then church. And then started cutting out beer and coffee. And wanting to get baptized and stuff. :) He's a fun guy.
This is a beautiful beginning, and I am so happy. I have so much to be grateful for. Our mission is reading the Book of Mormon together and everything I read just seems to talk about gratitude and praising God. I understand because I often feel so happy I could just sing His praises all day. How great is our God, how loving and merciful and kind. Not a single one of us is forgotten by Him. No matter how dark our days may be, or how far away He feels, He is always there. He will never leave us. And good days, all light and happiness and joy and peace is always waiting on the other side of every heartache. That's the beauty of life and the Plan of Salvation. I'm so happy to be where I am. :)
I love you all. SO much. :) Have a fantastic week.
<3 Sister Bethany Ball

Monday, February 16, 2015

Change Approaches

I'm staying in my area. :) Sister Huefner leaves early tomorrow morning and I'm going to hang out with another companionship until I get my new companion on Wednesday! :D I'm sad to see her go, but I look forward to future adventures with a new friend.

Both our wards threw surprise going-away parties for my companion. She is very well loved here. She's made a big difference in so many lives, and they are sad to see her go. For one ward, we innocently showed to to a FHE with a family... to find half the ward there. And we acted out the story of Lehi's dream. :) The other ward had a potluck and a bunch of people shared stories of how Sister Huefner touched their lives. It was so beautiful, I nearly cried. I love seeing her get such a wonderful send off. I want every missionary to feel that loved when they go home. :)

We also taught our good friend Ray. He is just so wonderful. He asks deep questions. And he randomly tells us that he wants to be baptized. And he also asks to be taught by elders, because he thinks his girlfriend won't like him meeting with sisters. :'( But that is okay, I will happily pass him off if that's what is best for him. 

We sang a duet in church yesterday. And it was SO FUNNY because at one point, Sister Huefner nudged me to tell me not to come in early, but I thought she was telling me it was time to sing. So I sang solo there for a minute before I realized it wasn't time to come in. I so badly wish I'd caught me face on camera, because I'm pretty sure I looked horrified. xD

All in all, it's been a good week. We were there when a priest got his mission call, and we got to listen to a homecoming talk on Sunday. All around me I see these milestones happening, these little defining moments. People coming, going, looking back and looking forward. I'm right in the middle, and I'm learning that this is a good place to be. I have ten months behind me and eight months ahead. I have no exciting milestones here, but it's okay - because you can progress no matter what stage you happen to be at. :) Heavenly Father's hand is in my life, and He sends little things to me to let me know He's still mindful of me. :)

I love you all. Have a good week.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Short Note

I'm short on time today, but I wanted to give you a quick update.
Things are good. Sister Huefner and I found 5 new investigators this week! Not all at once - a family of three, a 10-year-old boy whose parents are less-active but want him to be baptized and a gentleman by the name of Ray. (Ray is pretty cool.)
The neat thing is that we actually set a goal to baptize 5 people this week. Which was basically crazy - we had no progressing investigators and no prospects for baptism. But Sister Huefners time on a mission is fast coming to a close and we wanted to see some crazy miracle or another. So we set a goal for 5 baptisms and then we worked like madwomen. :) We saw no baptisms but we are now teaching five more people than we were.
Miracle? Answer to fervent prayers? I think yes! :)
Also, we saw a thermostat that read 96 degrees here on Wednesday. Yes, in February. Part of me wants to hide inside of a freezer. But then another part of me says "Bring it on, summer!"
What has Arizona done to me? O.o
Ha ha but anyway, have a great week! Thank you for your constant prayers and support. I'm learning more every day that this is the Lord's work, not mine. I'm just blessed to be right in the middle of it all right now in this place. I love these people. :) And I love you!
Cheerfully, Sister Ball

Monday, February 2, 2015

Planting Flowers

The sun is shining today. It's real pretty. The Arizona sky is the most beautiful sight to behold. It stretches on forever, and it is so incredibly blue.
It's been raining the last few days, which I don't mind. The rain is also a beautiful thing, especially a warm rain. We got to plant flowers for a service project, and it ended up sprinkling on us. That was a happy moment - digging around in the dirt and getting rained on and laughing and talking, all in the pursuit of putting a little more beauty in the world. :)
I've never devoted a lot of time to gardening pursuits, though the idea does appeal to me. Seeds are a funny thing if you think about it. They're just these little insignificant specks, but you stick them in some dirt... AND THEY GROW! :O Tiny specks inexplicably become little spurts of green popping out of the ground. It's quite miraculous. How do they do that? What drive them to grow upward, to seek the sunlight and become more than what they are? Why do they do that? Wouldn't it be easier just to stay in the dirt, dark and safe where they can't get trampled or poked or eaten? But no. They're stubborn, those little seeds, and they insist on growing.
When you think about it, we are also miraculous things. We're just these little spirits, and you stick us in these mortal bodies... AND WE GROW! :O
Okay, I know human beings are a lot more complex than seeds. But still. The analogy can be drawn. :) If you think about it, seeds need a few things to grow: Water, sunlight and dirt. Maybe - and just bear with me here - we need the same basic things. We need love, which is like light. We need dirt - which could be our challenges, trials, weaknesses. We need to learn from those things, and to plant our roots in them so we can stand tall. We can gain nutrition from the dirt we grow in! And we need water. Which could be our communication with our Heavenly Father - Prayer, scripture study, meditation. Whatever else. These things help us grow. Tiny little seeds become tiny little sprouts become flowers. :) Or great towering oaks, but for now it seems enough to become a flower ha ha.
Growth. It comes a little at a time, sometimes so slow we don't even know it's happening. But it comes.
My scripture of late seems be 2 Nephi 28:30 - "For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line,precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto mycounsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, fromthem shall be taken away even that which they have."

I've been overcoming challenges that at times seemed insurmountable. This morning as I was studying I stopped and though back to a couple of weeks ago and realized - "Hey... I've come a long way." I've progressed, changed, overcome a lot of things. But I can't even pinpoint one moment when it all changed. There was no defined moment. It came a little at a time - through a quote found here, a scripture there, several mornings and nights spent in prayer. A few conversations with different people, a few times where I forgot my challenges in the pursuit of helping others. It's just come, tiny pieces at a time.
I don't have the answers, or the solutions to life's hardships. All I have is the undefinable faith in my Savior Jesus Christ. He's pulled me through a lot of difficult things, and I know He will in the future too. I know that no matter how difficult things get, no matter how dark things look, no matter how low I go - there will always be and upswing. There will always come a light. There will always be relief. Darkness never wins. Darkness never lasts.
And every flower has to grow through some dirt. :)
So just keep holding on. Go forward on what faith you have, even if it just seems so little. It is enough. You are enough. :) God loves you. He will never give up on you.
Remember that.

 Sister Ball