“Real” playing on the mission

Hello, beautiful people!

Happy December! It doesn’t quite feel like December yet here in Provo, for which I’m grateful. I’ll be seeing plenty of snow during my mission and am in no rush for it to get here 🙂 Although the Christmas spirit is definitely here. I love how Christmas is the time when we can change a complete stranger’s life and not get too much attention for it because everybody knows it’s a gift to our God. For all of you Utah people, I’d recommend you listen to 98.7 (on the radio) when they do their “12 Days of Christmas” specials in the mornings. They pretty much find people with ridiculously sad sob stories and CHANGE. THEIR. LIVES. I would listen to it every day driving up to work and bawl my eyes out. It really made me want to get outside of myself and bless somebody I don’t even know.

The MTC is still the happiest place on earth, the Spanish is still improving (I’m speaking it a lot faster now) and the church is still true. Big surprise there. Another district in our zone left Mondy to the Arizona Tucson Mission (my second-favorite mission!), and it was both a happy and sad day. I love those Elders so much and there’s less laughter without them. But I’m so excited for them to start teaching the gospel. I know they’re going to be awesome. Oh, and we get 3 new Hermanas in our zone today. It’s going to be great! And I loved the First Presidency Christmas Devotional on Sunday. Ruth had a good camera moment 🙂

Only my favorite Elders get sent to the Arizona Tucson Mission (ATM). Elder Reich, Elder Hughes,
Elder Taylor, and Elder Dayley (and me in the middle).

Now that our district has a firm basis of Spanish comprehension, we’re really focusing on the fundamentals of missionary work and Preach my Gospel, like applying the doctrine of Christ to our missionary purpose, the role of the Holy Ghost in conversion, and revelation through prayer, the Book of Mormon, and Church attendance. One really effective tool we use in learning how to teach, testify, and invite is role playing, or as I call it, “real playing”. We think of people in our lives whom we love and whom we want to see join the church and be them as investigators.

If you know me, you know that I LOVE this stuff. Finding that investigator inside me is quite an experience. Even though I, Hermana Ball, know the gospel and know what my companion is teaching, I’ve been blessed to feel the same legitimate confusion and experience the internal struggles and thought processes that this investigator I’m playing would have. It’s a true method acting experience, and it’s so so so fun to do. I’ve used two friends from back home as the investigator I’m playing and sometimes it’s hard to switch back to Hermana Ball. So, if I’m doing nothing else here in the MTC, you can rest assured that I’m strengthening my acting chops.

Joking. Here’s what I’ve learned as a MISSIONARY from these experiences:

  • There’s a lot going on inside the mind and heart of an investigator and they’ll only reveal to the missionaries a fraction of this (so I shouldn’t be disheartened when it APPEARS an investigator isn’t internalizing what we teach)
  • Better insight into the confusion, questions, and concerns an investigator might have and how to thus adapt my teaching
  • Investigators are real people with real lives and real feelings. Everybody tries to do what they think is right. This knowledge has helped me feel more love as I teach.
  • The Holy Ghost is the REAL teacher, 1000%.

Another cool thing worth sharing is how many stories I hear about how these “investigators” we play come closer to the gospel IN REAL LIFE as missionaries teach “them” in the MTC. I hope that makes sense. But it’s kind of like teaching by proxy. But you hear story after story after story about how the “person” somebody taught actually started coming to church or was baptized or quit smoking (if that was what was taught in the lesson). There are enough stories from teachers here that I choose to believe them and hope that the work I’m doing here will bless my family and friends back home.

I want you all to know that I’m being changed here in the MTC. Yesterday as I was reading in Helaman 10 it occurred to me that I do truly want to seek the will of the Lord in EVERYTHING I do and put my own desires aside. And I can feel this happening slowly but surely. I’ve got a long way to go in losing my life in God but the Spirit testifies to me that through Christ’s atonement I can have a complete change of heart. I want you all to know that I KNOW that God is real and His power can heal us. I know that His church has been restored in its FULNESS today and this knowledge brings me so much joy. I’m just so happy all the time as I truly commit 100% of my efforts to the Lord. God is good. So, so good.

Switching gears. I’m so glad that Ziggy Ansah is getting attention from Sports Illustrated. I really like him. Not only is he great at football, but he is so NICE! He always seemed to be so grateful to have the opportunity to play football. And he was always very courteous to the media and made it seem like it was HIS pleasure to talk to me. So he’s on top of my list. I’m not happy to hear about the 49ers. But I’m still a Kaepernick fan. I’m glad the Giants resigned Pagan, although I’m not sure about 4 years. And I really really hope Scutaro is good this year, but in my mind he feels like a Cody Ross. I think we’ll trade him within the next two years. Just my opinion. Also, thanks for letting me know that Melissa and Tony won Dancing with the Stars. Oh wait, that was intended for the email I’m sending to Hermana Hansen’s family 😉

Shout out to Dan and Diana for their letter. It was totally unexpected and a delight to receive. Tell the gang I say “hi” and send Mr. Speilberg my regards.

I truly love you all and know that God loves you even more!

Love and light,
Hermana Ball
hermanball.com

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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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The Mission Call

I have been called to serve in the Utah Salt Lake City South Mission!

No, seriously! This isn’t a lame missionary joke! I really have the honor and privilege of serving the Lord’s flock in the heart of Zion.

People laugh when I tell them where I’m going. Heck, I laughed when I found out. But there is no place on earth I’d rather serve. Not Australia or France or Hawaii, because I know that this is where the Lord wants me to be. I firmly believe that the call was divinely oriented and that the Lord knows that the Utah Salt Lake City South Mission is where I will have the most influence for good for the 18 months that I am there.

And it’s such a fantastic fit for me, as well. I adore Salt Lake City. As I’m researching the mission and finding out about more the unique opportunities I’ll have, I can feel my testimony of the call grow. I know that this is where I’m supposed to be, and I am so unbelievably excited about it.

I’ve got a long way to go in the 4 months before I enter the MTC. I have a lot of weaknesses, but I know that in the Lord those weaknesses came become strengths.