Monday, April 30, 2012

Apr 30, 2012 SOUL WARS - May the 4th Be With You

Random Culture Note - The seasons are reversed here, so we are starting to head into Winter. (Does that count as culture? haha I don´t think so but oh well!)


Soul Wars
May the 4th Be With You

In honor of “May the 4th Be With You”, I thought it would be appropriate to explain how missionaries are basically Jedi Knights, but better.

Mind Trick - There are certain drinks here that I don´t really like.  So last week when someone put a glass filled with a certain drink, I didn´t drink any. I just waited until the very end of the meal when I switched glasses with my companion when no one was looking. He looked at it strangely and asked if he hadn´t drunk all of his drink. I had such a hard time not laughing. He drank it. I told him later that I switched it on him.

Almost Yoda - One of our investigators is about a billion years old. He has heard the discussions before, but is willing to listen to us. He always calls us ´jovenes´ (or young ones) and offers us advice that is confusing to say the least. He is pretty short too, but he isn´t green nor can he do back flips.

Use the Force - One of the amazing things on my mission is how I am so blessed food wise. Food, being very important to me, I think about it now and then. A few weeks after getting here, I started wishing for Salad, because Argentines don´t really eat much salad. BOOM next day I get salad. Last week I started thinking about cake. BOOM I had the Argentine equivalent of cake twice last week. And then last of all I was thinking of Panda Express, my favorite food. Last night we were at one of the house of one of the oldest members here. She just happens to be half Japanese and gave us Nipanyankis (okay probably not that, but I can´t remember what they are actually called, they were like cream puffs, except without the cream, and the dough was lemon flavored. But hey . . . Asian food!)

I am amazed at how the Lord has blessed me and how he makes me able to do hard things. I have done some other really cool things here on the mission, like playing the piano every week in front of 80 people every week, speaking in Spanish, and making omelets with just a fork.  Jedi.

And to help prove the point I have included a picture of me and my light saber. Except instead of a light saber I have a water bottle.  But it filters my water, so it’s almost as cool. Almost. (I know my face is dorky, just enjoy it and smile and laugh, the people passing by when I took this picture did).

Love you all! I hope you have a great week! I know I will!

--
*Elder Taylor Ball*

´´We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day.´´ - Elder Richard G. Scott 

(Thanks Alex for sending me that quote! Love it!)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Apr 23, 2012 Mission POSSIBLE


Random Culture Note: In Spanish (or Castellano as we say in Argentina) the words casar (which means to marry) and cazar (which means to hunt) are strikingly similar.


Mission: POSSIBLE


Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to go to a foreign country, teach all of your beliefs into 4 condensed lessons, use your limited piano playing experience to play in front of a congregation every week for the next two years, oh and learn Spanish in the few weeks you have at the MTC before we ship you out.


Sometimes I feel intimidated by the sheer magnitude of the task in front of me. I am in a foreign land, inviting people to change their lives while speaking in a foreign tongue. I am eating different food and am in far different surroundings than I am used to. With a companion that speaks very little English, parts of the transition were rough.


Last Sunday was particularly rough because I had to stop playing the piano in Sacrament meeting because I made so many mistakes. I was frustrated with a lot of things. I became so absorbed in the rules that I forgot the reason that I am out here. I am on my mission to make people happy.


How can I teach people how to be happy if I am miserable? Now, I didn’t have to break the rules to be happy, I just needed to find the joy in where I was at. This Sunday our Bishop shared something that really helped me from a talk by Elder Utchdorf titled “Forget Me Not.”  He says that, “The happiest people I know are not those who find their golden ticket; they are those who, while in pursuit of worthy goals, discover and treasure the beauty and sweetness of the everyday moments. They are the ones who, thread by daily thread, weave a tapestry of gratitude and wonder throughout their lives. These are they who are truly happy.”1

I also received a letter this week from a friend telling me to take the time to smell the flowers. I took that advice and have realized to a greater extent this week how beautiful Argentina really is. The green mountains, the clouds, and the people are amazing here.  As I focused on the positive and the things that I enjoyed, I found that I was starting to be truly happy again. Then the real miracle happened, this week in sacrament, my piano playing was an asset to the meeting. The difference was that I was following the tempo that was given me, rather than trying to create my own. Some things will only come with time, but as I learn to take and enjoy things as they come, I will enjoy my mission more and more.

I hope you all have a great week! Until next Monday!
--
*Elder Taylor Ball*


“Do not pray for tasks equal to your abilities, but pray for abilities equal to your tasks.  Then the performance will be no miracle, but you will be the miracle.” - President Thomas S. Monson (Thanks Mallory for sharing that quote!)




Picture - Here everyone has pictures of Looney Tune characters in front of their stores. haha. This one is a bird meat shop.





Monday, April 16, 2012

Apr 16, 2012 The Good, The Bad, and Oscar


Random Culture Note: They don´t sell produce here in the stores, that´s because there are so many small fruit and vegetable stands every few houses.
The Good, The Bad, and Oscar

Two letters that I received recently made me start thinking. One was from my Grandma Ball asking if my mission ´´feels like the best two years yet?´´ And the other was from Tyler in my ward asking me how I am doing. I love getting letters that ask what am I up to. But it actually is a really good question. The mission is an exciting, diverse experience. The first few months are a roller coaster of Ups and Downs. It is a big adjustment to make to dedicate all my life to serving and sharing the gospel. I love it though! So here is the good and the bad of what I am doing with my ´best two years.´

THE GOOD - I am learning so much. This week I taught my first English class, it went really well. I learned a lot about English in the process. There are things that I take for granted that are complicated to others. I am also playing the piano every week on Sunday. There is good and bad things about that. The good part is I am learning.  The main thing that I am doing that I enjoy is talking to EVERYONE that I see. People are so amazing. I am learning how to listen to the spirit and present my message in ever better ways. Every day I feel like my life is an Ensign article. (Which is good because I never get the actual Ensign.)

THE BAD - Sometimes the mission is REALLY hard. Last week I talked about companions (Which, by the way, we are working together MUCH better now), but the work itself can be frustrating at times. Our 3 best investigators are all having lots of trouble right now. One 17 year old´s parents won´t let him meet with us anymore, another has so much school and life drama that she doesn´t think she has time to meet with us, and the other´s husband doesn´t want her to meet with us or come to our church and her family is having LOTS of problems.

But, most of my experiences are good. We work hard every day in sharing what we believe and feel very strongly that what we are doing is right. I was offered beer for the first time in my life (haha I am so sheltered) and had the opportunity to help an addict begin the process of quitting. He came to us in tears because his addiction to Beer is destroying his life, and his family’s. I think the biggest benefit of my mission has been learning the importance of family.

OSCAR - Wow! I have not laughed so hard for a long time. So there is this guy who we keep running into. He is pretty crazy.  He came up to us and started asking us to show him the way, so of course we got excited and started talking. It soon became apparent that he was very drunk and had no idea what we were saying. He started talking about 7 stars and so I nodded my head and said ´´Yeah, the seventh represents the Day of Rest, and that you need to go to church.´´ He nodded and we excused ourselves because we had an appointment to go to. We took a bus and when we got off, there he was again. Haha I don´t know how he beat us.

--
*Elder Taylor Ball*

PS Happy birthday to cousin Brianne

Thought - Did you know that Christ has over 150 names in the scriptures? To see some of them click on this link
http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bd/christ-names-of?lang=eng&query=christ+names
The fastest way to send me mail is probably pouch mail or dearelder.com. Both will come in about two or three or four weeks. (I am in the Salta, Argentina Mission)

Picture - Proof that I am still a kid

Monday, April 9, 2012

Apr 9, 2012 The Miracle of Forgiving


Random Culture Note - Here the milk comes in bags.
The Miracle of Forgiving

I would be lying if I said my transition here was easy. It wasn´t because I am in a foreign country; I am excited to be here. It wasn´t because of the language; I have been lucky enough to be doing really well in that regard. It was because I didn´t get along with my companion.

I don´t want to make this email into a list of his faults or mine, but we had a hard time getting along. I kept on offending him, and I felt like I wasn´t doing anything wrong. He thought that I was very prideful and all I could see was his. We wouldn´t really talk as we walked from house to house, and all I could think of was going home.

In short I was miserable. We just clashed, and clashed bad. Then I went to General Conference. All of the talks were amazing, but there was one in particular that stuck out to me, it was President Utchdorf´s talk about not judging others. He said,


"Jesus said it is easy to love those who love us; even the wicked can do that. But Jesus Christ taught a higher law. His words echo through the centuries and are meant for us today. They are meant for all who desire to be His disciples. They are meant for you and me: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

It took a few more days for this to really sink in. But one day when I was out it hit me, as long as I held on to this bitterness I could not be really happy out here in the field. So I took him aside told him I was sorry that I was hard to live with and that I forgive him. He didn´t accept it then, or forgive me then, but I was freed from feeling miserable. I was so happy after I did that. I have tried to not judge him and be ´´filled with charity" in my thoughts towards him. I still have a hard time with some things that he does but I am much happier.

Later in the week he told me what the real problem was. He was frustrated with the area and was used to companions who were always talking to him. My last companion was very quiet and so I was used to the silence. He had lost his only outlet and took my silence as hatred for him. Since then things have improved greatly. I wouldn´t say we are the best of friends yet, but we will get there.

An embarrassing thing I had happen to me my first week here. I had no idea what was going on so when my companion welcomed someone into the chapel, I naturally assumed that he was an investigator. As we went through church, I kept on showing him things like pictures and talked about ´The Family - A Proclamation to the World´ with him. I went through all of church like that, and then later that night I asked my companion who he was. It turned out my ´investigator´ had been a member for a year already. Oh well. I laughed about it when I figured it out.

Have a great week!
--
*Elder Taylor Ball*


I love 2 Nephi 4:17-35. It is where I really feel like we get to know who Nephi really is. We see the struggles that make him human. I especially love that his problems led him to action.





The fastest way to send me mail is probably pouch mail or dearelder.com. Both will come in about two weeks. (I am in the Salta, Argentina Mission)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Apr 2, 2012 Jello, Conference & Lollipops - OH MY!


Culture - Here in Argentina they really love Grapefruit Soda, which really isn’t all that bad, but kind of weird.

Jello, Conference, and Lollipops - OH MY!

I was glancing through my journal, and I had to laugh as I read my 2nd entry on the mission, but since I feel like it applies the first few weeks out in the field too, I am going to share it with you:

“I have heard that the first few days at the MTC is like trying to take a drink out of a fire hose. I think that a better description would be jumping into a pool of Jello and trying to drink it all. The Jello analogy is especially a good fit, because of the time change. The week before the MTC flew by, but now it is inching on slowly.  Like Swimming through Jello.”

I don’t know why all the other kids at school thought I was weird.

ANYWAYS, General Conference was AMAZING. The close up on Jason C - Priceless. This last week I was running out of money for the week. (Don’t worry I have plenty now, it was just a first week thing.) So I carefully planned it out so I would have 5 pesos for Saturday and Sunday so I could buy two loaves of bread, and maybe some pastry thingies. However, as my companion and I were walking down the street, we started talking to an old man. He said something in Spanish through his toothless mouth that I understood about as well as I understand Opera. That is I understood nothing. My companion did however and he told me that the man hadn’t eaten anything in two days because he had no money. My 5 pesos started burning in my pocket. My companion didn’t have any money with him, but I gave it to him.  AMAZING thing, I had SO much food offered to me this weekend. I did not go hungry at all. The Lord takes care of us when we put him first.

This first week in Argentina was kind of hard. Not so much that the adjustment was terrible. It was big, but time went so SLOW. It was like the Jello was three weeks old. I wanted time to go faster because things were getting harder. General Conference helped put things into perspective. Now I think the mission is more like a Giant Delicious Lollipop that someone gave me. BIG as in Basketball big.  There is no way I am going to finish this in a day, and if I did my Mom would kill me. (Joke, nutrition . . . haha?) So I need to take this mission one lick at a time. As I focus on why I chose to come out here and on enjoying the moment, I am so much more happy. It doesn’t matter where I am or how successful others perceive me to be, only that I feel like the Lord sees me as successful.

I hope this letter finds you all healthy and happy,

--
*Elder Taylor Ball*



“The definition of an optimist . . . is someone who isn’t sure whether life is a tragedy or a comedy, but is tickled silly just to be in the play.” - Robert Brault. Found in a book by President Thomas S. Monson 


This picture is one I took in the plane as we flew over North Argentina.