Days of Thanks

Hola, world!

I hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving. Casey’s lavish Vegas experience sounds AMAZING!!! I’m glad he had a great time. And creating a giant “Jabari” sign on Y Mountain? That definitely sounds like something Nephi would do. He started the whole #ComeToBYUJabari hashtag on Twitter and BYU came out and issued a statement telling fans not to recruit to him on Twitter. So yeah, Nephi’s a big Jabari fan. I miss that guy. Somebody send him my regards. Also, I’m a Kaepernick fan. Keep him at QB.

Thanksgiving here was wonderful! The visiting apostle was… wait for it… Elder Holland! Apparently he hasn’t come to the MTC for 8 months so this was great. He didn’t give his usual MTC talk; he talked about all the things he’s grateful for. And I realized that I take the restored gospel for granted. In various dispensations the church was never as strong (number-wise) for very long as it is now. I’m so grateful to be among these whom God has chosen to bring about the latter-day glory. What a blessing. His talk also reaffirmed to me how grateful I am to be a missionary. These 18 months are as “real life” as it’s going to get. I’ll never be closer to God and more like Christ because everything He did was to bring the gospel to others. And during my mission I’m engaged in the saving of a human soul 24/7. Elder Holland said that NOTHING I do in my life will ever be more important. How great is my calling!?!

Thanksgiving was a blast! We made 4500 health kits and 4200 education kits for people in the village of Ouelessebougou in Mali. That really resonated with me, as service for Africa always does. We had a great Thanksgiving program with songs and skits that were HILARIOUS. Nothing wrong with having lots of fun in the MTC. We got to watch “17 Miracles” in the evening and I got to point out all the actors I know in it, which is like 90% of them. And the dinner itself was great. There was turkey, stuffing, potatoes, yams, cranberry sauce… I had a vegetarian wrap specially made more me. It was pretty hilarious. Anyways, this was by far my favorite Thanksgiving ever!

Awkward vegetarian photos: Thanksgiving edition

Awkward vegetarian photos: Thanksgiving edition

The MTC is still great. I’m still loving it. I’m feeling and seeing miracles. I think I said last week that I’m really striving to have the “character of Christ” and be more charitable, less self-centered, and focus on the needs of others. I’m starting to see this attribute develop in me, and I’m so grateful for that. I’m having really unique, personalized experiences where I’m already feeling the sorrow and joy that comes from teaching investigators in the field. And let me tell you, there is nothing better than that joy. Last night I couldn’t get to sleep for hours and hours, I was so wound up with happiness. I really can’t describe that feeling of joy but it is AWESOME. I am so happy. Teaching continues to go really well. We had our first “TRC” experience yesterday, which is where we teach members. That was so much fun! The 2 people we taught both told me I speak like a native. Then they look at Hermana Despain and say “and your Spanish is getting there” haha. But her Spanish is really getting better. I love her so much. But the Spanish is going as well as it possibly could be for me. I know when I get into the field it will be like a totally different language. But I’m so grateful that, through the mercy of the Lord, I’m doing okay so far.

I’m seeing tons of people I know here. Sister McKinney (Kimmy) is on my floor. I’m seeing tons of people from BYU and I saw Elder Gallagher from Pinewood. He told me that Elder Daines is also serving in one of the Salt Lake City missions. I counted, and there’s 7 of us from Pinewood serving missions right now (which I doubt is the case with any other high school in California) and 2 of us are in Salt Lake City. Amazing.

Oh, and I had a crazy “ah-ha!” moment in the Book of Mormon this week. You know Coriantumr, who was pretty much the last surviving Jaredite in Ether? Did you know that the people of Zarahemla(?) found him in the Book of Omni? Yeah, apparently everybody in the MTC knew that. But I didn’t know that, and it was so cool to make that connection!

Two sisters from our zone, Hermanas Ivey and Hunsaker, left this morning to serve in the Oakland Visitor’s Center. They think they’ll be in there every day for their mission. So next time you all in the Bay Area go to the temple, go find them and say “hi!” They would love to give you a “conversion experience” (rather than a “tour”… I guess I’ll be learning about that in my 10th week here). They’re super super cool and I’m going to really miss them.

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Our Coordinating Sister leaving to go to the Oakland Visitor’s Center, Hermana Ivey. Love her!

All the best to you all! I love you so much! Go serve somebody today!

XO Hermana Ball
hermanball.com

A Great First Week at the MTC

Hola familia y amigos!

I am so happy to be in the MTC! Seriously. I was so excited to get here I jumped out the car, grabbed my bags and took off. I was so excited I totally forgot my coat that we spent the whole previous day picking out. So thanks to Ruth for driving it all the way back and dropping it off for me!

Happy birthday to Casey! I made a video for you; I think somebody will put it on Facebook for me. And happy Thanksgiving to everybody! I have so much to be thankful for. I love the MTC so much.

First off, I’m thankful for my companion, Hermana Despain. She’s going to the Provo Mission and she is the BEST. She has been through so much in her life it’s so amazing she doesn’t harbor anger or resentment against Heavenly Father. She has so much faith and is a great example to me of obedience, love, and diligence. I couldn’t ask for a better companion. I admire her so much.

Hermanas Hansen, Jeromin, Despain, and Ball

Also, my district is AMAZING! Everybody is so hardworking, which is so apparently rare. Everybody really wants to be their best for God and is so diligent with the language. Everybody always wants to know more and we teach each other, which seems to amaze our teachers. Here’s the list of everybody in our district besides me and my companion:

  • Elder Poulsen–District Leader. Going to Provo.
  • Elder Watrous–Going to Dallas. He’s from Roxbury NJ and I think he goes to the Morristown Ward. So that’s a shout out to Momma! So cool that I was just there a month ago. He’s also a convert of just over a year but he is so solid. He knows more about the scriptures than any other 19-year-old I have ever met.
  • Hermana Hansen–Going to Fort Worth.
  • Hermana Jeromin–Going to Provo. She’s from Germany but speaks English perfectly. Nobody can pronounce her name correctly.
  • Elder Iverson–Going to San Bernandino.
  • Elder Thompson–Going to San Bernandino.

Also I’m so grateful for my teachers. I LOVE my teachers. Hermano Heap and Hermana Thomas are SO AMAZING. The Spirit is so strong everyday in class and they really care about us. Hermana Thomas is somebody I think I’d be really good friends with if we had met outside of the MTC. I admire her so much.

Okay. So you’re probably wondering what we do here in the MTC. Let me tell you. We study Spanish all day every day. I did the math: we study Spanish 50 hours a week. We eat, we sleep, we study Spanish. It’s a minor miracle that our brains can focus on one subject for that long and that we’re learning as fast as we are. Spanish study includes lecture, Technology-Assisted Language Learning (TALL), self-directed study and preparing lessons. Oh yeah. About lessons. Every day each companionship gives a 40-minute lesson to an “investigator” ONLY in Spanish. And that started our second full day here. Can you say stressful? Oh my goodness. But let me tell you, it has taught me to use my time wisely and REALLY rely on the Lord. And I am seeing miracles every day. Real heaven-sent miracles.

Super nervous for our first lesson with our first investigator, Christian!

Specifically, I know that the gift of tongues is SO REAL. Seriously. It’s the coolest coolest thing I’ve ever experienced. From the first lesson, when the Spirit is present I am fluent. Honest to goodness fluent. I can feel the words coming up and I don’t know how it happens. I remember tenses and conjugations I learned 5 years ago but haven’t thought about since. I remember vocab words I saw maybe twice while reading something but never studied. I can say absolutely anything I want to say when the Spirit is in the lesson. But when the Spirit is not there, I’m left to my own strength and the difference is night and day. It’s so humbling. Also, I know that the gift of tongues requires me to do my part. I have to study and do my best and then the Spirit will bring all things to my remembrance.

The MTC is amazing because I’m relying on the Lord so much and learning a TON about Jesus Christ. Right now I’m going through the Book of Mormon front-to-back studying the character of Christ. And I’m learning so much about the development and the consistency of His moral qualities. Specifically, in His life He ALWAYS focused on and served others. In times when you or I would turn inward and focus on ourselves, He turned outward and focused on others. He never wanted pity or praise. After He underwent the incredible difficulty of the Atonement He healed the soldier’s ear. After He was tempted by Satan, He sent angels to support John the Baptist. So many cool examples from the New Testament and the Book of Mormon. And that is something I really seek to develop into my own character. I’m on my mission. I am called by God to serve His children and bring them closer to Christ. Just because I’m in the MTC and focused on learning doesn’t mean that I can’t serve others. I want the MTC to be a better place because I was here. And as I pray earnestly for a change of heart and for a sincere love for all of God’s children, I can slowly feel myself becoming less self-absorbed and self-centered and instead thinking about all of God’s children who are around me and what they need. What a blessing this is. I know I’ve got a long way to go, but I love letting the Lord change me.

The Spirit is so strong here in the MTC and I love learning every second of every day. I am giving my best 100% of the time because I’m on the Lord’s errand. I want to be my best Hermana Ball for the Lord.

Oh! Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and an apostle of the Lord is coming to speak to us. We don’t know who it is yet but I’m so so so excited! What a blessing and opportunity!

Shout outs to Mindy and Sister Robson (you will always be Sister Robson to me) for writing me letters! I will write everybody back who writes me!

God bless you all, and know that I’m sending love beams to each of you! Lots of love and light!

Hermana Ball
Visit my website for more pictures and contact information: HermanaBall.com

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