Monday, June 29, 2015

Arizona in a Nutshell

My old companion Sister Taylor (who is long since home now) sent this to me the other week and I thought I would share the laughter. Arizona in a nutshell, folks. :)

Transfer News!

SO, transfer #11 has commenced for me. (Sisters only have 13 transfers in their mission, if that gives you an idea of how brief my remaining time is.) Sister Croft got sent home okay and she has been in contact with some of our ward members, so I know she's alive. :)

In the meantime, I got a new companion! :D Her name is Sister Fairchild and she is from Kaysville, UT. She is very cool. She loves to go running, so in the morning for exercise she'll run while I bike alongside her. She came out only a transfer before me, so the suspicion we are making is that I will also be sending her home. By now, I am a pro at that kind of thing. :) But we have had SO MUCH happen in the few days we've been together.

One, a recent convert from my second area (Gus, if you remember me talking about him) called us up and said he'd just talked to a lady at the bank and they talked about the Book of Mormon for over an hour and he promised he could get her one. He then found her address, found out the missionaries that covered that area (us, if you haven't guessed) and then called us to ask us to take her a Book of Mormon. Of course, we agreed. :) We haven't met her yet but we have talked to her over the phone, and we did meet her husband. They are both very interested. They went to a ward a couple of weeks ago with a friend and really liked it.

An update on Duane and his family - they've been coming to church and loving it. The ward has wrapped them up in their arms and adopted them. Duane still has a few doctrinal questions - for the longest time, his hang up was tea. Tea, he would insist, is very good for you. And of course he's ridiculously smart so he pulled up all the evidence WHY and all I could tell him is that all I knew was that God had asked us not to drink it. And that was good enough for me. And it was a very small thing to sacrifice for eternal life.
He battled with us consistently for a few visits, but then the day after his first time at church he said "I've figured out the tea thing! It's about your conviction, your faith, more than anything." Our jaws dropped. We'd been trying to tell him that very thing since the beginning but he had to figure it out for himself. The spirit told him while he was at church, and ever since he's been switching to herbal teas (which, of course, are not forbidden.). Talk about a miracle!

Do you remember Amey, who was baptized in April and then moved to Florida? Well it turns out the family who moved into her old house are part-member - she's baptized and he's not. She has been telling all her neighbors that she wants to try coming back to church and her husband may want to check it out as well. And, she has ten kids. :) Her across the street neighbor took us to meet them (member missionaries, yeah! :D) and they are seriously the nicest people I have ever met in my LIFE. They told us the same thing that they've told everyone else, and invited us to come back soon. So, even though I miss Amey a great deal, I am very grateful that I have the opportunity to get to know these wonderful new people, Angie and Woody.

Aside from all those, we've been knocking on doors and meeting people like crazy. Although not everyone is interested, most everyone is kind. We knocked on one door and the lady was pretty curt when she told us to leave, but we'd only gotten a few houses away before she came running out after us with two cold water bottles. She gave them to us with a smile and told us to have a great day. Summer is a time of miracles in Arizona. :)

I love being a missionary. Even in 115 degrees, it is worth every minute. Our mission had it's two-year anniversary party just this morning. It's been two years since the Arizona Gilbert mission was created! Back then, it was an experimental mission to see how successful we could be with SO MANY MISSIONARIES in such a small geographical area. We've thrived and flourished so much by now that there are other missions being patterned after ours. It's been incredible to be a part of it all. And it's strange to see the days repeating - this is my second June, second mission anniversary party, second 4th of July coming up. I remember it was this time last year that I'd gotten stung by a scorpion. I was so young then and just a timid little missionary. I felt like I was in over my head.
Well... not much has changed, actually. xD I still feel young and shy, and I still feel like I'm in over my head. But I have changed a great deal. I have learned to persevere through difficult times, because I know they don't last. I know I won't drown in my trials. I know the Savior has overcome the world! (see John 16:33) I know better now, how real the Savior's atonement is. I know the most glorious Being in the universe, with all His power and might, loves us imperfect little children more than we can comprehend. I know prayer makes impossible things possible. :) I've seen it.

I love you all, I really do. This is going to be a long hot summer, but it will be worth every broken moment. It always is, when you're pursuing the work of the Lord. :) Have the best week of your lives!

Love, Sister Bethany Ball

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Beginnings, Endings, and In-Between

So there is this thing. It's called "This is Sister Croft's Last Week." She going home a week from tomorrow.
She is displeased with this circumstance. She's the kind of person who pours her whole heart and soul into whatever she is doing. So sometimes, it's hard to let go. :) But on the plus side, this week is going to be CRAZY busy for us both. We have at least two teaching appointments booked for every night. I'm so excited! What better way could anyone end their mission??
I'm just so grateful for my companion. I'm very happy that we've been able to spend three transfers together. I feel like she's changed my mission in a lot of ways. She loves this work, and I seem to have caught on to some of that fiery love just by being around her. We've seen so many miracles together, and met so many people that we both just love and adore. We've taught families and individuals who have been able to change their lives as we taught them. The memories made over the past four months have been some of the best on my mission.
Well, in case you hadn't guessed, I don't want to say goodbye to my Sister Croft. :) But don't worry. She's from Utah too, so we'll be visiting. xD
Our new investigator family Duane and his girls are doing so well! All of his dress pants were from before he lost his leg, so none of them worked with his new prosthetic leg. He wasn't able to make it to church. But Tiffany and Sabrina came and they had a wonderful time. :) And he is determined to make it next week. I just love that family with all my heart. Duane has the purest heart out of anyone I've met out here. He is just a dear. I'm blessed to know him and be part of his journey.
With Sister Croft leaving, chances are good that I'll stay and take over the area. This is something that has always caused me anxiety. I don't particularly love being in charge, you know. ;) And I haven't taken over an area since Sister Taylor got transferred away all those months ago. It's been a long time.
But strangely, I feel very calm about the impending takeover. I know I am where I'm supposed to be, and I'm happy to be able to work with the people we have here. Furthermore, I know this is the Lord's work. I'll never really be the senior companion, because He always will be. This is very comforting to me. :)
I hope you all have a great week. I know we will. :) Love you! Don't ever forget that you are loved!
Sincerely and happily, Sister Ball

Monday, June 8, 2015

Never Run Out of Love

This week has been incredible! Sister Croft and I have been praying so fervently for people to teach, and I tell you, they have fallen from the sky!

First, we get a call from our zone leaders giving us a referral. It's a family of three, a single dad and his two daughters. They've had a rough couple of years, culminating in him losing a leg and his wife leaving them. His name is Dwayne. He contacted a friend of his who is a member and told her he knows there is something different about our church, and he wants to be a part of it because his family needs it now more than ever.
I like him a lot. He makes us laugh. Sister Croft was sitting on the floor during one of our lessons so that she could show an object lesson. When she got up, she commented her foot was asleep. He said she could borrow his extra one, gesturing to his new mechanical leg that he didn't have attached to him currently. We laughed real hard. He is seriously so nice. He treats us like a father would, making sure we have water and urging us to be safe and make good choices, ha ha. He's going to fit right in in our ward family. :)

Last week, we were out biking when we met a young couple in the park, Garrett and Sabrina. As we talked, we learned that he's a member but stopping attending in his teenage years. She's not a member. They're expecting their first baby any day now. We shared the Easter video, Because He Lives with them and afterward, she confessed that she's been wanting to come to one of our services for a while now. We set up another appointment for this week. When we arrived, he seemed restless and asked some ferevent questions -  why do we believe the Book of Mormon is true? Why do we live the way we do? Why is it that he's never felt like he had a testimony?
He just didn't want to be treated like everybody else, I think. It seemed like he was pleading that we teach him individually and help himunderstand something he's never understood. I just felt so much emotion during that little meeting, as he told us that his life seemed so empty, that he was missing something and he didn't know what it was. I think he wants this to be what fills his empty spaces, but he's not sure how to make it work. It left me with some poignant emotions. I feel a lot of responsibility in my hands - knowing that what I have to share is of great value and importance, and yet not knowing exactly how to help him find it.
How do you convey something so deep and important? Spiritual things can only be learned individually, only through spiritual means. We told them to read from the Book of Mormon and pray - things that seem so simple, so small, and yet it is those very small things that change lives. I fasted for them yesterday, praying deeply that they would feel the Spirit as they embarked on this path.

Okay, funny story: One of our members texted us during church and asked us to come over later that evening to meet a girl they've been fellowshipping for a while now. We went at the appointed time, found the address and parked. As we were walking to the door, a stream of girls in swimsuits started coming out the door laughing and giggling. We said hello and they said hello back -  though they weren't very friendly. We continued to the door and knocked. After we knocked, I realized the house number said 3934 instead of 3534. We had the wrong house. D: He opened the door and didn't seem pleased to see us. We explained we had the wrong address and retraced our steps back up the driveway - past the girls who were laughing at us now. We found our members next door. They'd watched the whole thing from their porch, and they were highly amused. xD The whole situation was pretty funny. On the plus side the girl we went to meet said she had a lot of questions for us, and we now have a returning appointment for the coming week. :)

It's just been a week of miracles, friends.. I feel so amazed at the constant stream of tender mercies the Lord keeps sending to us. It seems at one point it should run out - but it never does. He still sends us people to teach, people who are searching. I've never loved being a missionary more than right now. Even with the heat and the awkward moments, it's worth every minute. They say this is your time to give to the Lord, but really I've given nothing. He's given me everything. It makes me think of the scripture in Mosiah 2:23-24

23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him. 24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; andtherefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?
He blesses us every minute of every day. And when we do what He asks, He blesses even more. We're never out of debt to Him. And it's okay. He doesn't want us to repay Him. He just wants us to take the gifts we're given and become something more. He's a proud parent. He loves us so much for who we are, more than what we do. :)
I love you all. Even on the darkest days, remember you are loved by the greatest Being in the universe. :) Have a great week.
Love, Sister Ball

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

And... Summer Hits

So we had a pretty decent May around these parts. It stayed between 80 and 90 for almost the entire month. Then, yesterday, out of no where, BAM - 110 degrees. Welcome to summer. Thus begins the months where all you ever do to your hair is braid it, and no one is ever outside except for the Mormon missionaries. Guess we'll just have to start OYMing each other. xD

Temperature aside, all is well here in Arizona. I don't have much time, again, so this will be quick. But I'd like you to know that I am having the time of my life. Even though the months ahead are going to be brutal, I know the sacrifices on our parts will bring many blessings. Last year, July and August were when we baptized the most people as a mission. So I believe we can expect even more miracles every day.

I'll just send you a few pictures - Sister Croft and I with a few kids from church. We gave them "Future Missionary" stickers and they loved it. It was funny because one of the little girls just LOVED Sister Croft and when we went to leave she grabbed Sister Croft's hand and said "No! You have to stay here!" Then she turned to me and said flatly, "You can go." I laughed really hard. It was comical.

Amey, Sarah and Michael with us in front of the temple. We're helping them move this week. They're off to Florida. Sister Croft and I are sad. We're going ot miss them very much.

Us with our investigator Michael, whom I love dearly. We actually helped him move this morning. :( He's no longer in our area. But we finally got to meet his family as we helped them move out. I really liked them, and they were so grateful for our help. That is one thing I love about being a missionary - being able to help people so much, so often. It is a blessing.

I hope you all have a great week. I love you so much! Keep praying for me, this summer is going to be a hot one! ;)

Cheerfully, Sister Ball