Monday, December 15, 2014

Feliz Navidad

Christmas is up at our house.
I also convinced Hermana Escobar to buy Christmas lights.
They were like $2 so we have them in our room.

This is us with a member.
 All the youth are so sweet and love to come with us on Sundays.
 It kind of slows us down, but I like it.  They help lots with Spanish.

This is our bathroom.
We really have it good!

Can You Believe Christmas is in 10 days !!!!!!!
 
This week Hermana Escobar and I worked on being better at planning. In the past it’s been hard because we make plans to see people and then they are never home. So this week we decided to make really good plans and back up plans and back up for our back up. Then after planning we would say a prayer and we would pray for each of the people individually and the specific miracle we wanted to happen in regards to that person. The next day it was amazing to see the miracles we asked for the night before come together. We didn’t always get the exact thing we prayed for but often we were surprised at the simplicity of the miracle, like someone just being home and listening to the message we had planned for them.
 
I have learned a lot this week about having faith that miracles do happen, and that a miracle isn’t only someone being raised from the dead. One miracle was that Hermana Escobar and I stopped to answer the phone and I looked down the street and there was a man looking at us and waving. He came closer and Hermana Escobar told me he was a new convert that didn’t come to church because of some health problems, he is kind of old. As we talked to him we realized how much he needed our attention and love. We arranged for a member of the ward to take him to church Sunday. It was a miracle to me as I watched him walk in to church with tears in his eyes and a smile on his face.
 
Another miracle this week was finding some amazing new investigators. One is an old woman Justina who is actually not new but someone we met with the first day we were here and decided to stop seeing because her and her daughter-in-law had heard all the lessons but still weren’t progressing and they had started accepting lessons from a Jehovah Witness woman. They are kind of intense and we just didn’t feel good going. Anyway, after one of our amazing planning sessions we thought about her and decided to go the next day. When we got to her house we both thought ummm maybe we shouldn’t go, but we said a prayer and decided to go anyway. We showed her EL ES LA DADIVA (I feel dumb, I spelled that wrong last week-it’s because the way I spelled it is how I always say it and Hermana Escobar has to correct me, but it doesn’t matter because no one here knows what that means. We always have to say dadiva significa regalo.) Anyway we showed the video and she loved it and we had a good lesson and we invited her to be baptized and she started talking about how she knows that her baptism before wasn’t good and she needs to again but she never said a for sure yes but.... we went and picked her up Sunday and she came to church!!!! It was great because we haven’t had an investigator at church since my first Sunday. She was so into Relief Society, she kept answering questions and things..... and also we heard a member talking to her and she asked if she understands Spanish and she said not really, so we think that may have been the problem in the past. She didn’t know what we were saying!!! So we are going to take a member with us the next time we visit her and we are going to get her committed to a date. She was smiling so big the whole ride home and I could tell she felt The Spirit. PS: we got the president of Roma to take us to get her in his CAR. I haven’t been in a car in forever. It was so fun, but I found myself feeling frustrated because if we could have even bikes we could get around so much faster. It takes us like 40 min to walk to her house and in a car it was like 10 min.
 
Ugh and this week we started focusing on different neighborhoods. We go to a different area each day and we keep finding more and more that is a part of our area. It’s crazy how big our area is. We went to Pendty again and we found out there is a place past it called Placido that is ours too! So many people to teach. It’s just hard because we take so much time getting there we don’t get to teach as much. The day we went there we only taught two lessons and the rest of the time we were contacting and walking so that’s why this week I just keep wanting a bike. haha But Hermana Escobar doesn’t want to ask the president because she says she doesn’t know how to ride one. haha I love her so much.
 
Oh, that’s the other thing. Last week I felt so bad because I had a million emails and her family didn’t even write her, only her trainer’s mom. So I was thinking maybe some of you could write her something short this week. Just say hi. Her email is sonia.escobar at myldsmail.net.... I know she would love it.
 
So anyway, this week was just another week in good old hot Paraguay. It’s really hot now that we are into December. It also rained this week a lot which is almost worse because after it rains it gets really hot, but for the 30 min of rain, it’s perfect.
 
I love the structure of the schedule of mission life. I was thinking about it last night, I have never been so motivated in my life. I love knowing exactly what I need to be doing when. I never feel like I am wasting time. It’s great. 
 
The only other major thing this week was that I was asked to speak Sunday on our last week in the Roma 1 chapel. It was really hard for me 10 of solo me speaking Spanish. I mostly read what Hermana Escobar helped me prepare. The amazing thing was my reading is getting so much better and my pronunciation. After the talk lots of people said they loved my message which made me feel good that they could even understand my message. It was about how you don’t need to have a missionary tag to bring others to the gospel. haha One girl told me the first week when you bore your testimony was terrible. I didn’t know what you said at all, but today I could understand it all. I think that was a compliment but it kind of hurt my feelings at the same time. haha They are really blunt here some things people say to me a lot “You have gained a lot of weight since you got here. You are getting kind of fat. Don’t you guys walk a lot?” Well, maybe don’t feed me so much, ahah their portions here are so crazy. The members feed us a lot which is awesome since they don’t really eat dinner here you just have to stuff yourself at lunch and wait for breakfast.  “Why are you so sweaty??” umm because it’s hot!! “What’s that red thing on your face???” A zit. I know I’m really sweaty, so I keep breaking out. haha I love them, though. They ask those things because they are truly worried about your well-being. ha
 
Anyway, can you believe how close Christmas is!!! I am really stoked. We got an email today saying we can call from Sunday to Christmas, any day we want. We get 40 min and it’s skype. I don’t really know how the skype works. I hope Hermana Escobar does... so I need to know what day is best and what time for you .I was thinking I can call mom for 20 and dad for 20. I don’t know which day is best for you. We don’t email next Monday. We just get on to see what you said and then we call. So I need to know what time. That’s really the most important part. I don’t know the time difference, so can you figure that out?? I need mom and dad to talk and figure it all out because it is stressing me out thinking about it. I don’t get computers and I don’t know how it’s all going to go, so we just have to hope it all works out ok!!! 
 
I love you all so much and can’t wait to see your faces. 
 
oxox
Hermana Ball




Monday, December 8, 2014

El es la Davida!!!!!!

Ok, first things first, I need to clarify something about Hermana Escobar. Everyone seems to think she is this mean trainer and I don’t want that at all. At first we didn’t really understand each other’s language and culture plus fear of new things, she has never trained before. Anyway after three weeks together we are best friends, truly. She helps me so much with the language and I help her with confidence, I hope, I don’t know…  Something I have learned is missionaries aren’t magically perfect people and so it’s perfect. We both just help each other with our weakness and it’s great. I love her sooo much. This week was her one year in the mission, it was way fun celebrating that. Today is my two month’s, can you believe it!!

Ok, now this week was really hard... there is a holiday, well it’s actually today, the 8th of Diciembre, called “The Virgin of Ca A Cupe”. It’s this huge statue of Mary in a city, ummm, I’m not sure which direction, but I don’t think it’s too far from here. Hermana Escobar served there and loved it. When I first saw a pic of the statue I thought it was Christ, like the one in Brazil, that’s what it looks like, but it’s actually Mary. Anyway everyone leaves their homes and jobs to make a pilgrimage to Ca A Cupe every year. It’s been really hard because most people are fairly religious here but are really open to what we have to say. But this whole week when they realize that we aren’t Catholic they are like “Nope, we don’t want to talk to you. We believe in the Virgin!!!” or when we ask “Can we pass by Monday?”, “Nope, Mary will be here so you can’t come.” Each time I told Hermana Escobar it’s ok. People need to be mean to us every once in a while so we know what it’s like. But each day it seemed they got ruder and ruder the closer today got.

Wednesday we had exchanges with the sister training leaders and it was really hard in lots of ways. First off, I had to navigate us to the investigators’ homes. That in itself was a huge miracle! The other thing was that it was really hard to teach with someone I had never practiced or really ever met before. The whole day I kept thinking and realizing to appreciate Hermana Escobar and everything she does for me. At the end of the day when I finally saw her again we just hugged and I wanted to cry and never let anyone take her from me again!!! The best part was she felt the same way or at least that’s what she told me... jaja Anyway, the one thing about the sister training leader was she was good luck. Everyone that never seems to be home, was, and they received us and it was great. We had a lesson with Pedro and he recommitted to a new date.

A while back we got a referral to a part of our area that’s really, really far away. The farthest we go is Las Mercedes and I wanna die. It’s like 4 kilometers there and then in total after making our whole loop it’s like 10 or 11. But Pindty is 6 just to get there so then 6 back and also walking around so in total it was going to be like 14 kilometers.  I don’t really know what that means, I just know that walking on these roads in the hot sun really takes a toll on you. But I am learning to smile even when I am soooo hot. I read a talk this week about missionary work and Elder Ballard said don’t just walk around like robots saying hi to everyone. That’s how I am. I am sooo tired and hot! So I am learning to smile and be happy, even when I am hot. 

Anyway we decided that we need to go to the far-away place. We keep meaning to go and then something goes wrong, like it rains or I don’t know, we just talk each other out of it. We keep waiting for a member to take us, but he is always busy, so finally we decide to go Friday. But, like always, things start to go wrong. The zone leaders need us to submit numbers. We don’t have the numbers, we had to go home and then go to the cyber, the internet place I am at now, and then enter them. So we got off to a late start - half way there we are so tired and we don’t wanna go any farther and we start thinking maybe we won’t go today. Then Hermana Escobar is like “No we are going to always come up with a reason not to go.” So we got up and sang hymns and laughed and practiced Spanish and before we knew it we were there. It didn’t even feel like that far of a walk. We start contacting, we knew there was someone there that really needed us.

The first person is like “Ya I´m Catholic” and he was just kind of being rude. We were like thanks and left. Then we come to a lady and she says “si... esta bien passar otro dia?” (yes, come back another day)  uhhhh It’s not like this is super far away from where we live. Sure, we can come back another day...  Then I said we need to say a prayer because I really want to find someone here.. So we do and we haven’t even taught a lesson all day and it’s like 4 by now. My comp is like “Ok, we are teaching a lesson at the next house!”

So we walk up and it’s a lady and two kids and they are all sitting drinking mate and she just motions for us to come. We sit down all sweaty and she offers us water and things are going great. I compliment her garden and her house and then … I didn’t really know what happened. Hermana Escobar explained later that she thought we were with this group of kids that come and learn Spanish and do humanitarian work. But Hermana Escobar explains no we are missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ..... then all I see is her jumping up Mormones and spills her pitcher of water, kicks her hat under the table, almost falls over her chair, all the time saying I DON’T WANNA TALK TO YOU!  I don’t want to talk to any Mormons. We believe in the virgin. Get out of my house.... soooo we awkwardly get up and I´m like buen dia.  hahahaha Then we leave hahah and I just start laughing sooo hard, to keep from crying probably. hahah It was so funny. She just turned on us like that. Needless to say, the next two lessons weren’t quite that bad but you could tell they were just thinking about the virgin the whole time. One lady said “Yaaa we are all having a party Sunday for the virgin so I can’t come to church with you. I will be at my church for the virgin! ah It got so annoying. It’s like the one time of the year that everyone is super actively going to the Catholic churches. Anyway, then we planned to find our contact, but when we started that way hahah.

I don’t even know how to explain this but there was a man on a horse and Hermana Escobar is just sitting there writing in her planner and the man has a rope tied around the horns of a cow... I am learning so much about animals. I thought only bulls had horns but like every cow here has horns and they are all female. I don’t get it. Anyway his son is hitting the cow with a stick and yelling. Apparently the man on the horse is yelling “Get out of here, it’s dangerous”. Hermana Escobar is like it’s just a cow. We need to go that way. hahahah I am like ummm I think we need to move.... finally she sees that the cow is jumping everywhere crazy and running right at us. Ok so every house has a fence and the cow was running all over the road and the sides so I was scared to just stand on the side and hope it passed us. So we start running down the road away from this crazy cow and every time we would stop running and look back, it would stop. Then the man and the horse and the cow and the kid with a stick would be running again so we would have to run for our life again because there was nowhere to go but back down the road!! It was sooo embarrassing. One time I really thought we were going to die. They seemed so close and the cow was running so fast and Hermana Escobar was so slow. I was about to leave her. hahha I look over and this whole family is just watching from their porch, two girls in dresses running from this crazy cow. They don’t offer to let us in their yard. They just watch as we try and run away. It was seriously so terrifying. Anyway, needless to say, we left Pindty feeling a little discouraged, but I know that the Lord needed us there for some reason and we are going back Wednesday. I know that we will find someone waiting for the gospel there. 

Ok, I hope you all have been watching and sharing He is the Gift. It is so amazing. We share it in every lesson, so I have watched it a million times. Each time I am filled with a spirt and love of Christmas! They always ask if we get to go home for Christmas and they feel so bad when we say no, we are here... but that video brings the spirit instantly to every lesson!

After a really hard week we had high hopes that Pedro and others would come to church. We had 4 with a date to be baptized so they needed to come to keep their date. The elders have been having the same problem getting people to church so we all shared our investigators’ names with each other and prayed for each one individually. Sunday came and we get to church and no one’s investigators came. Not one. The elders hunted down a boy from one of their families, but that was all. It was really hard. I was feeling really, really bad and church is always hard because they only speak Guadani so I never have a clue at all what’s going on. But in Relief Society we all had to go around and say our testimony. When it came to me I just started bawling, looking around at these 10 women in this little classroom in a church in Paraguay, speaking two languages I don’t know. I just said it was really hard for me to decide to serve a mission and be away from my family. I didn’t realize how hard it is until I was here, but I know that this church is true and that’s why I am here. (it probably didn’t really come out like that, but that’s what I tried to say). I just started crying so hard as I listened to everyone’s testimony in this psycho language because I could feel the truth even though I couldn’t understand. The woman sitting next to me, who I love a lot, was going to be sealed Saturday and when they announced it I was sooo excited! They have two little kids that are so sweet and I kept thinking of the missionaries that baptized them. One of the women I love feeds us every Friday. After Relief Society she grabbed me and hugged me and told me she knows it’s really hard but she loves me so much and I am like her daughter (she reminds me a lot of Dianna Greene).  I just was filled with a love of my members. All Sunday I kept thinking of how amazing they are. They all love us missionaries so much. They feed us and accept us in their homes so much. Anyway, then I go in to sacrament meeting and they announce that our building is being expanded. They are starting in one week and I just cried and cried because I know that the Lord loves his children in Paraguay so much. We seriously have the smallest church ever. Our Relief Society room is just one of those tiny classrooms. We had 95 in attendance at church on Sunday and my whole heart was filled with love for each of them. 

Sunday night we found an amazing woman, Elba. After another hard day we were just trying to get our contacts and we felt we should share the video, which turned in to sharing el Libro de Mormon. It was so cool. She accepted a date, not at first. She said she was baptized already and then we explained to her and she said that makes so much sense!!!!! and accepted a date and el libro de Mormon. In her prayer she thanked the Lord for sending us. We left feeling sooo hopeful and thinking that even though this week was really hard there are moments and lessons that go perfect. And that’s what we are here for. Each time we have someone that is mean we think we just have to work that much harder to find the one waiting for us. I truly believe Elba was waiting for us! After one really hard lesson Hermana Escobar just wanted to sit down and cry. I told her that during the lesson I always think about their conversion story. The lady’s niece was listening. I told Hermana Escobar that one day that little girl would say “I remember the first missionaries came when I was at my aunt’s house. They were really happy and gave me candy. I remember my aunt laughed at them and I felt really bad. Years later two Elders came to my house and I let them in. As they taught me, the truth filled my heart and I remembered those first sisters who bore similar testimony. I will always be grateful for them.” haha  We don’t have real conversion stories yet, so we make them up. But that’s what I always think about. You never know how the gospel will come to someone. 

Lastly I want to FOLLOW UP on my challenge to do the 30 day Scripture Question (see the entry in November titled “If Elle Wood Can Get In”).  Are you doing it? The most important part is writing it down. This one thing has been the main faith builder for me since I have been here. Each day when I am struggling and I think maybe I don’t even have a testimony, I ask my Father in Heaven and I am always answered. It’s crazy because some days I turn to the same page as the day before and I think “ugh, I have been here before”. But I start reading and I find my new answer a few verses below the other. Or, sometimes, I ask a question and my answer has nothing to do with what I asked. It’s like the spirit is saying “That’s not really what you needed today, here is your real answer.” I know that all of your answers are found in the scriptures. I know that God listens to our prayers. I have learned that so much these past two months. I feel your prayers so strong and I hope you feel mine. I love you all and I hope you all

ACCEPT the gift Christ brings. Accept His commandments, His love, His guidance in our life. 

Love, a missionary doing her best to serve the Lord in Paraguay,

 

Hermana Ball

Monday, December 1, 2014

It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas

So I feel way dumb for thinking when I wrote last week that I had missed Thanksgiving. After reading all the emails I realized I hadn’t. haha But good news is my district leader is not so dead to the world and he arranged for us as a district to go out to eat Wed night. I will hopefully have time to send more pictures. It was way good. It was like some kind of burrito(they don’t really eat much food like that here) so it was a good change of pace. On real Thanksgiving my comp, who had never heard of it before, and I had chicken stuffing I made from a box from Charlsie, raw potatoes, haha (I tried to make mashed potatoes in the microwave, but it didn’t work) and bread. It was great. haha I told her she had to say what she was thankful for and she said me and I just started crying so hard because I didn’t even realize how much I missed all of you till she said that and it made me feel good that someone was happy I am here.

I totally forgot to say last week my greatest blessing!!! so when our President got to the mission he was not pleased with the conditions of the pentions and he has been working hard to get new pentions for us to live in. They have changed almost all of them. The week before I got here ours changed and my comp says the old one had twice as many cockroaches. She thinks the ones we have came in the move. ugggg haha Anyway, our pention is nice and...... we have an air conditioner in our bedroom!!!!!!! It is heaven when we come home soooo sweaty we sometimes just sit in that room. haaha One day we were so hot after walking back from zone conference (30 min there and back) we just ate lunch on our beds ha. But ya it’s really nice. Also all the faucets here are just one temp. You don’t have two faucets even when you are showering. I was telling my comp that I’m not use to the cold showers and she just looked at me so weird. “Did I not tell you about the light switch?” “What light switch????” ummmm She proceeds to tell me there is a magic light switch that makes the water hot!!! hahah She said she is just use to cold showers so she forgets to turn it on.. haha Anyway, so if you were feeling bad for me, don’t. I have cool air at night and a hot shower in the morning. When I shower at night I don’t turn it on, though, because it’s soo hot. You have to shower before bed or its so gross. You will see why after seeing the pictures of my feet

I forgot also to mention the rain. It rained twice my first week and three times this week or two (I can’t remember). Anyway I have never seen anything like it. Leading up to rain it is so hot and there are no clouds and then they come and it just starts pouring rain, like buckets and buckets of rain and all of a sudden the whole road is a river. It’s crazy! It rained last night, so now the whole road is full of puddles. I love it. The first time it rained it was in the afternoon and we had to walk home at 8:30. I kept jumping in all the puddles and getting all muddy. haha My comp just thought I was crazy. hahah It’s hard for me not to act crazy sometimes, like one time we were walking and the Macarena music came on. I started to dance and she looked at me and said Hermana we are representatives of Christ. ha So I have to remember that sometimes. Most of the time it’s not hard to remember, just sometimes, like when I want to play with the kids .... 

So to help my pronunciation she makes me read from El Libro de Mormon with a pencil in my mouth repeating after her. This is after I have already read it for 30 min on my own. It’s so hard and my jaw starts to really hurt, so if you want to feel like a big looser put a pencil in your mouth and try to read Spanish its hard and entertaining. 

This week we kind of got a little discouraged because every lesson seems to go the same except for the fact that each lesson I feel more confident to say more in the next. So this is pretty much how each lesson goes: we walk to a house, we may know them or may not, clap, they come or we just smile and wave because most the time they are outside all ready, they open the gate, let us in, pull up two chairs, offer us terere (Cold Mate), we tell them no, and then we talk to them a little, get to know them. They are always so chatty. Most of the time they don’t even give us a chance to say we are missionaries. Then finally we bring it in to the convo (AHHH it just started raining again!! hahah I am so happy. My comp said we should bring our umbrellas with, but I talked her out of it. She just looked at me ahhh we will be wet! haha) anyway, then she asks if we can sing. Yep we sing a hymn every lesson in Spanish, no piano, while they stare at us. At first it was hard for me but lately we sing Christmas hymns and I love it. One time they gave us this fruit to eat and I really didn’t want to eat it because they just picked it off the ground, anyway, I put it in my mouth and I had never seen anything like it before. It’s like an orange ball and I am trying to chew and there is a pit and I just keep swirling it around in my mouth. At this moment my trainer says “Let’s sing.” So I sing a whole hymn with this huge pit in my mouth and then when no one was looking I quickly put it in my hand and sat it on the ground next to me. Next we ask to pray and usually they want my comp to say it, which is great. ha But sometimes I say it and I am pretty sure they don’t understand, that’s ok. Then we share the first lesson or sometimes the second, depending, and when it’s the first I say the first vision and sometimes I say it right and mostly I say it wrong. But its magic because the Spirit is always there and I can feel it so strong and we lead them into the baptism invitation and they say “No, I have already been baptized (did you listen to what we said? It didn’t count. It wasn’t necessary. You were a baby ugh) and then we bear a beautiful testimony and the Spirit is there and I tear up because all I can think is they are going to say yes, I know it and I picture their family in the church. We ask again and they just stare at us and don’t answer. It’s so weird. Actually throughout the whole lesson we ask questions like what does the atonement mean to you and they just look at us and say nothing. It’s so weird. I don’t know why some people answer, but for the most part they don’t. Anyway, then we ask if we can come again and share more and we invite them to church and 50 percent say yes and then we give them a pamphlet to read. We say “Can we provide any service for you today?” and they always say “No, I have lots of kids to help me.” and then we ask them to pray (after explaining prayer) and they say they don’t know how and we explain again and then we ask again and they stare at us like we never asked a question. Finally one of us offers and we leave and I want to die. Lots of the time I think the lesson went great and I am like whaoooo they are coming to church and my comp is so discouraged. Anyway that’s how it goes. Oh, I forgot. When we ask if we can come back, they always say “We can see Christ in you girls. We love what you are doing here. I bet lots of people turn you away. We will always receive you in our home, feed you, listen to you, but we have our own church we go to on Sunday. I read the bible every day. My family is all Catholic, this really is not for us. 

It’s really hard. We never know who is worth going to see a second time because we never know if they are going to progress. Anyway, we had one golden investigator, Pedro, and he was all set to be baptized this coming Saturday. He just needed to go to church one more time. We have taught him everything, he has accepted all the commandments. We get to church Sunday and no one comes. No one. We invited 18 people to church and no one came, not even Pedro. I felt soo bad. When we call him he doesn’t answer. We don’t know what we are going to do. We just have to remember that when we are rejected they are rejecting Christ, not us. It’s just hard because everyone seems to be so religious. One man asked me this week, “If I came to you and said will you be baptized in the Catholic Church would you?”  I thought he was asking what I knew about the Catholic Church and in bad Spanish I said I would need to be able to speak better Spanish to answer that. He started laughing but apparently my comp told him that if God told her to, she would. I thought that was a good answer. That man we were trying to contact said we could come to his house anytime but if we want to share messages from the Bible, like the ones before, he didn’t want to hear it. It was really weird. We were like “Aren’t you Catholic? Don’t you believe in the Bible! The people here are so confusing!!!

I like it though. The more we teach, the more people know us. It’s crazy how much people already know. We say our name and they say “Mormones, ya I know you guys.” and most have listened to missionaries before. When we walk down the street I recognize so many people and we always wave and they are so nice and polite to us. I love it here. I love how laid back the people are and friendly and willing to listen. 

One thing that is hard, we will teach two different families that live pretty far apart and then we go to one’s house and the other family is there. This happened last night. We went to Pedro’s house to see why he didn’t come to church and his sister, who accepted a date but also didn’t come to church, was outside with a woman we had taught this week and also invited to church. They both said sit and we did. Then when we tried to share a lesson they wouldn’t even look at us. This morning I was reading in John when Peter denies Christ. That’s what I felt like. I was like, earlier this week you loved us, what happened!! 

I love it in Paraguay, though. It’s so beautiful and out in the compo there is this sweet smell in the air. It always sounds like the 4th of July fireworks go off day and night all over. haha Sometimes it makes me jump because they sound like they are right next to you. 

Ahh, this is such a long letter and I haven’t got to the best part. The church campaign for Christmas is “He is the gift”. The video is so great, watch it! We are sharing it with everyone. We carry this old crappy dvd player and show it in every lesson. It is so powerful. You should all share it on Facebook with your testimony. 

 I love how it’s so hot but it’s still Christmas. There are nativities and lights on houses and they will have like a tree in the front yard with ornaments and tinsel. haha I love it. 

I love you all. Sorry if this is so scatter brained. 

Hermana Ball



Doing the pronunciation exercise
My desk

Our kitchen

Look How Tan I Am!

Just Kidding.  This is after washing them.

Thanksgiving with the district

Us smelling the sweet smell of Paraguay

The meal I made for us.

My first zone conference.  I had no idea what was happening.
We made the cake that Charlsie sent and inside the oven all the cockroaches burned.  It was gross!!




Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I made it through my first week in good old Paraguay!!!




This is our pet, Tina Fey, she lives across the street. ‏

So drum roll please....my trainer is Hermana Escobar from El Salvador!!!! When I first met her I was so scared. I sat next her saying nothing. Then she finally said “I speak English...” hahah and we were off on our best friendship. I am so relieved she speaks English but at the same time it’s hard to remember to speak Spanish. Also she gets frustrated when I struggle to say something in Spanish. Finally she says, “What are you trying to say?” hah but she is so great and I love her. When I met her I quickly asked what our area was called (like I would know it or something), Coronel Oviedo, or zone 13. President had told us the day before that only 3 zones were really compo or like farm land, 11 through 14. I was so stoked to be in the compo. Our whole mission is 4 hours wide. I don’t know how you would put that, from Asuncion to the farthest part is 4 hours. Our area took 3 hours to get to outside Asuncion on a big bus. Immediately my trainer fell asleep and I was left to look at Paraguay speed by as we bounced along on the bus. It was so cool. I watched the city fade away in the distance and then it would be pure jungle and then a city would randomly pop out of nowhere. After 3 hours we finally got to the terminal. We got off and loaded all my bags into a tiny car that looked like it was 100 years old. They drive psycho here and the whole time I feared for my life. Our area is perfect. We live like two blocks outside our area in a city and then you start walking and the longer you walk the more compo it gets. It’s way cool. I have never been to a place quite like Paraguay, which is one of my favorite things about Paraguay. After being in Argentina for 6 weeks Paraguay is such a breath of fresh air. The cab dropped us off at our pention.

Ok so if you were worried for my safety need no fear. Paraguay is the safest place, really. I asked all the missionaries and no one has ever been robbed or felt in danger. And, unlike Puerto Rico and Argentina the houses don’t have bars and multiple gates. Actually, many don’t even have a front door or glass in the windows. So anyway when I saw our pention I was feeling scared because I felt like Paraguay was not going to be safe. After entering a gate we walked down a hall then we unlocked a metal sliding door with a huge bolt. Then we locked that and you are technically in our house. You walk up the stairs and open another normal metal door and then you are inside for real. So again, I am very safe but here it’s not even necessary, I think they are just overly cautious. 

The first day we came home and planned and headed out. I was so scared..... here are some things I didn’t expect about Paraguay. Everyone, after I say I am from America, says “oh, so do you speak Guadani...?”  ummm Well, considering I don’t even really speak Spanish, no, I do not. And Guadani is the craziest language I have ever heard. It sounds like Asian or something mixed with Spanish. They never just speak Guadani, its Guadani and Spanish. And their Spanish, they never finish the whole word. So as you can see, I went from Argentina feeling like I could teach a whole lesson in Spanish alone to here feeling like I can’t even understand when someone asks my name! Most of the time I just fake it and pretend I know what is going on, smile when my comp does and laugh.. but then they ask a question and they are looking right at me... and all I do is stare at them and say como? (what?).... it’s very embarrassing. Sometimes my comp tells me what they say but a lot of time she doesn’t and I just feel so dumb and I want to cry and I wonder why am I on a mission. But then I remind myself oh ya, it’s because I love my Heavenly Father so much. ha The other thing that I didn’t expect is that people are friendly. I thought Argentina was friendly but no... here we walk up to a house and clap at the gate but almost always the whole family is sitting outside. I really don’t know how anyone makes a living, they always seem to be home just sitting around all drinking out of the same mate cup. Anyway so then before we can even introduce ourselves they open the gate and pull up two chairs and start talking so fast and I am lost. Later my comp tells me what they said, sometimes she doesn’t haha. But basically every lesson we teach is 45 min at least. We really need to work on it. Yesterday we talked to this old man for an hour and he was speaking Guadani the whole time and it was really hot and I was so tired and I kept falling asleep, it was really bad. I have had that problem a couple times. I get so tired of listening and I just start to fall asleep. I am working on that as well. The first few days all I would say is, “Hi, how are you? I'm Hermana Ball.” and my comp would say the rest. Then I made a goal to bear my testimony at each lesson even though when I do they just look at me like they have no idea what I am saying, but that’s ok. It’s hard to contribute to the lesson when you don’t know what’s going on at all. But we have never had someone say no to a lesson or letting us come back. This is a curse and a blessing because we are constantly teaching but it’s hard to tell if they are truly interested or not. 

So the first night we went to bed and I was feeling like ya this place is not so different then America, I can do this. I hadn’t seen any bugs or spiders in our pention. I was feeling really good. Then.... the next morning when my comp was showering I picked up a box with different food in it and I screamed. The whole box was full of probably like 100-200 cockroaches (even though I expected them to be as long as my finger and they are about the size of a quarter) it still freaked me out so bad!! I started frantically whacking them with a broom as they scampered away into unseen corners of the pention. My comp came out and was like “What’s wrong?” By this point, of course, there were only like three and she looked at me like, really? and went back to what she was doing. I felt way dumb, but it really creeped me out. I couldn’t eat like the rest of that day. By the third day I was so hungry that I stopped caring. They only eat breakfast and lunch here so if you don’t eat a lot at those meals you starve. I feel hungry all the time but I think it’s just because I am eating normal portions again, unlike the huge feasts of the CCM. I hope I don’t sound negative. I really, really love it here. My first two days were just a little hard but now I am completely adapted. 

So we study til lunch and then we go out prolitismo and man it is so hot in the middle of the day. They just keep saying its primovera (spring, it’s just spring) and I am like sweating so bad. Sooo I am scared for what verano (summer) will bring. I have a whole new meaning to “they live like 30 min away”... a 30 min walk on a dirt road in the middle of the day is very different from a nice ride in an air conditioned car. hahah But we just sing hymns and try and enjoy it. My favorite time of day is dusk. It gets cool and the sunsets are soo pretty and then when the sun goes down the stars come out and they are soooo pretty, but even when we are walking on a dirt road in the jungle there are street lights. It’s very strange, so it’s hard to see the stars and my most favorite thing when it’s night is that the fireflies come out or mua mua in guadani!!! I hadn’t seen fireflies in forever. We were teaching a lesson one night and it flew across my face and I just got soooo happy! 

The weird thing about Paraguay is that even though it is sooo poor almost everyone we talk to has a cell phone. They can’t give you an address to where they live, but they have a phone number. haha We always draw little maps to remember where they live. I would be so lost without my comp. It’s so confusing here, everything looks the same to me. The other thing is everyone has a motorcycle. Even if its way old they have one and it’s common to see 2, 3, 4, 5, people on one bike. The most I have seen is 5. A man with two little kids behind him and two in front. It’s so weird, a little infant will be clinging for dear life in front of his mom. The other thing is no one wears helmets and there is no real age limit. So I saw like a 6 year old, seriously, I am not exaggerating, driving a motorcycle the other day, it’s way creepy. Sometimes we look at them whizzing past and, well, I begin to covet ahha. But it’s good. Because we walk, we talk to lots of people. 

Sunday rolls around and one of our investigators, Pedro, came!!! We were so happy! We are teaching him today and hope he can be baptized in 2 weeks. We will see... anyway we are sitting in sacrament and I am just out of “what’s going on?” and my comp leans to me and says “the bishop just asked all the new missionaries to come and bear their testimony.” I wanted to cry. But I went up and I did it and it probably made no sense, but I did it! I told them I knew this was the true church and that’s why I am here and I said that I love them and that I know Christ loves them and I am excited to be serving here. 

That’s the other thing I didn’t realize, I am so use to never seeing the missionaries in Utah because they have like a whole stake they are over, but here we have 3 sets of missionaries for 1 branch. It’s crazy! Church was really different. The power was off so all the classes were taught in the dark. I was asked to read a passage in gospel doctrine. That was really hard but luckily everyone had a book so they could read it too ha. 

The other hard thing is my comps previous companion, Hermana Arrnell was apparently amazing and everyone always looks at me and says where is Hermana Arrnell and they miss her and I can’t speak Spanish to make them like me so they just always look at me like why are you here?... it’s hard. 

The roads go from asphalt to straight dirt, it’s weird. And cobblestone, they like mash up rock and then put the dirt on top. Basically my feet are always red. I can never tell if I am tan or just still have a layer of dirt. haha 

Saturday one of the members came teaching with us. It was really hard because he talked a lot giving me even less time in the lesson to try and say something. But I did get to do the first vision she always has me do that and I messed it up so bad and I wanted to cry because in my mind I was thinking she is going to say yes to be baptized. I knew it and then I heard her say no and I was like it’s because you didn’t hit it home with the first vision. As we walked away I wanted to just curl up and cry forever. Later that night at planning we were going over numbers and she said people with a date and I said 0 and she said no 1 and I was like como!!!!!!!!!!! and she said ya remember that lesson we taught and it was the one I thought I ruined. Ya, she said she will be baptized if she receives an answer. I was sooo happy! But then she didn’t show up to church so I was crushed, but we visited her and her husband was there and we shared about the el Libro de Mormon and he was sooo interested. I talked a lot in the lesson and he accepted a date too!!!! So that is our golden family right now.

Anyway the change before was Hermana Arnall’s last change and now she is home. Apparently they didn’t work hard so we only had one investigator when I got here, Pedro, but when we gave our numbers last night we had 22 new which means we have taught 22 lessons since I got here. That was crazy to me.  Anyway things are hard. I am just doing my best to learn the language and teach. I love you allllllllll sooo much. My heart hurts when I think of you. 

I am sorry if this was so scatter brained, ha but I love you. 

oh PS: I only have an hour to email so maybe if some of you could hand write me that would be cool. If not, it’s ok. I can still print here. I just have to pay money, anyway that’s ok. 

xoxoxoxoo

Hermana Ball

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I'm Alive - Nov 18, 2014


So we just got to the mission home after our hour and a half flight from good old Argentina. Our mission president picked us up from the airport and made sure we got our visas. I love him already and the amazing thing is I can pretty much understand what he says. He told me if I read El Libro de Mormon every day I will be able to speak Spanish in three months. So I am banking on that promise.

 

When I saw Paraguay from the sky I just started crying. These are my people! I love it here already! It was immediately obvious how much hotter it is here. But I love it. We are staying in a hotel tonight, well just the sisters, the elders are staying in this ghetto room at the mission home. I guess they love us a lot and tomorrow I get to meet my trainer. Odds are she will be Latino. President told me there are 5 trainers for us 5 newbies and 4 are Latino. I have faith that the Lord and President know what they are doing, but that news made my heart stop dead.

 

The last day at the CCM was so emotional. I know most people want out bad but I think Argentina is special. I loved my CCM time so much. President Willis put it good, “It’s like the Garden of Eden, you have learned everything you can. You have to move on to progress”.  So that’s what I am doing.

 

It was lots of tear filled goodbyes and now I am here and just ready to work.

 

I love you all so much. I pray for you!!!

 

xoxoxoxoxo 

Hermana Ball 

 

November 17, 2014


Hey family guess what! I leave the CCM tomorrow morning at 4 am. We head to the airport and our flight leaves at 7:15. There are 18 total of us heading to Paraguay, including Latinos. The flight is about an hour. The flight name is AR2260. I know most people say they are so ready to leave, but seriously, the last two days have been so emotional. We are all having a hard time saying goodbye, we have grown so close. But Elder Christofferson from the 12 was here on Sunday and everything he said was exactly what I needed to be ready. So I am really, really excited to head to Paraguay. I love you all so much! Hopefully I will write you when I get there, if not, I will write you next P day.


xoxoxoox

Hermana Ball

  

PS: I felt bad that I forgot to mention that we finally got the big red Spanish book. I am way happy. I love you all so much!!!!!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

If El Woods Can Get into Harvard, I Can Learn Spanish!




Hey family,

Man the days are long but the weeks fly by. First off Proselitismo. Rozsa and I switched areas. Our old area was like a suburb and now it’s a very busy city. It’s very very intimidating to walk down a very busy city and try and talk to people who have no desire to talk to you. We got like 20 contacts and 3 referrals, but all of our referrals were golden. Two of them were at the same time.  We stopped at this lady selling stuff on the road. She had these way cool fanny packs that she makes. (pictures to come) So we told her and another lady who stopped to look at them that we were missionaries. They both spoke English which was actually not that much easier because I guess I am losing my English or maybe never had it to begin with. One of the ladies said her father has cancer and she needs faith. The other said that she loves Mormons and she took a Book of Mormon. it was way way cool. Other than that, proselitismo was kind of a downer. We came home kind of discouraged, it’s hard not to compare with everyone else’s numbers. But I am so proud of everyone, it was the new North Americans first time and they all did so good.


So on to Sunday. Oh man, it was soooo good like always, the highlight was Hermana Willis. *The cool part about a small MTC is we get to know the MTC President and his wife and their councilors so well. They are like our parents. I love them so much!  Hermana Willis talked about gratitude. She gave us a talk by President Uchtodorf called “Grateful in any Circumstance”. A quote I really liked was “perhaps focusing on what we are grateful for is the wrong approach. It is difficult to develop a spirit of gratitude if our thankfulness is only proportional to the number of blessings we can count. True, it is important to frequently count our blessings... but I don’t believe that the Lord expects us to be less thankful in times of trial than in times of abundance and ease.”  I loved this so so much!!! I hope you can all remember that this week and try to be thankful in the circumstance you are in. You should all reread this talk. 


Monday was our group picture. It’s finally settling in that we are leaving the CCM. So I knew about this last week but part of me didn’t believe, it so I didn’t tell you. But they told us that today we would be going to see Elder Russell M Nelson speak, and because of this we would not attend the temple. Wednesday we got a surprise, we got to go to the temple! It was sooo great to be there one last time. I have grown to love the temple workers and this temple so much even with it being in Spanish. I love it so much. 


So that gets us to today. Why I didn’t write earlier today is because we got up and loaded into buses at 7:30 to head to a stake to listen to Elder Nelson. He shook each of our hands and looked into our eyes. It was incredible! We met with the missionaries from this mission, the Buenos Aries, Argentina South and listened to the words of an apostle of the Lord. He was also with a member of the Seventy who spoke Spanish so he and his wife’s talks were in Spanish. I got about 50 percent-ok 40, but what I got of it was really good. Then Sister Nelson stood. That woman is so amazing! She talked to us about how we are feeling as missionaries and she told some amazing stories about her experiences. One in particular that was cool - she said she was in Russia at a Women’s Conference and she felt impressed to say, “I want to get to know you all by lineage” she called out each lineage and people would stand. She said 11 of the 12 tribes were present. All but Levi. Maybe this was not news to you, but I kind of thought everyone on the earth but a few special people were from the tribe of Ephraim.  I was shocked to hear this. She said that news travels so fast in the church that by that next day when they met at a conference in Romania the first thing the mission president’s wife said when she stepped off the plane was “I got Levi.” She had a missionary who was of that tribe so within the space of two days she met someone from each tribe. It was so cool to hear her stand and say “The gathering of Israel is upon us, Elders and Hermanas, you get to be a part of this amazing work.” She told us that when we teach our children our ancestors and the ancestors of those we teach are there, particularly the ones we teach. They are begging and waiting for their family to receive the gospel. Then she said, “Think of the impact of your missions, not only in this world.” It really made me remember what missionary work is all about. Oh I forgot one other thing she said was her 30 day challenge, which I am challenging all of you to do.  Each day grab the scriptures and thank God for them. Tell Him your hardest and deepest questions of your soul and ask that the Holy Ghost will be with you throughout your study. Then open to a random page and feast. Look up words, the foot notes, everything. You won’t have to read far until your question will be answered. I thought “Wow, this is an amazing promise from an Apostle’s wife. She said “there is no asterisk that says unless your problem is learning the language, no anything you need will be provided.” How wonderful is that! 


Then Elder Nelson spoke and man, I love him! At the beginning he did the very thing his wife talked about. He had each tribe stand. At our meting we had two tribes present, which was still way cool, Joseph and Judah. When he said Joseph we didn’t know that meant Ephraim, so again I felt way dumb, haha, but he reminded us. He was so informal - he kept saying “I have a surprise, the mission president and his wife are going to share their one tip of advice, it was to “work hard and to be obedient.”   Oh, the president of the CCM and his wife, Hermana Willis said “Go and do” and president, who is like a way rough man, he is just really to the point about the gospel, got all teary eyed and said “You are loved by the Lord so immensely.” That struck me so hard. The rest of Elder Nelson’s talk was about how we need to be simple when teaching the gospel. This made me happy because my Spanish vocab is so so so simple. I don’t remember everything he said but it just seemed like direct inspiration that I needed so badly. He left us with an apostolic blessing and it included those we left at home who were sick or needed healing. That made me cry, he told us the Lord will protect our families. 



I love you all so much! I think of you so much! I may get to email when I leave Tuesday and when I arrive in Paraguay. If not, next time you hear from me I will be in Paraguay!!!! It seems so unreal to me! The church is true and I love all of you. 

xoxooxox

Hermana Ball


Friday, November 7, 2014

I'm Not Dead Yet


All the girls going to Paraguay

Our Latin roommates that left

Rich y Brons

The day we got here. Playing mud soccer with the old North Americans.


The Sister I am hugging is from Spain. I love her so much. I am going to miss her!


Man another week gone by, I can’t believe I have almost been gone a whole month!

So there are a few things I keep forgetting to say. First off, when the new North Americans arrived we told them that touching this Nephi statue in the girl’s dorms every time you pass it, gives you good luck. So pretty much we started a CCM tradition. We didn’t tell them we made it up. That’s random, I know, but I think it’s so cool that they believed us. I’m excited for Megan Gilchrist to get here and for her to tell me if it’s still going on. Second, before the new Americans came, we moved our room around so our bed would be by the window. Now every night when I lay in bed I can see the temple shinning thorough my window. I love it so much.

So Halloween!!! I totally forgot to say Happy Halloween last week sorry. I loved seeing all the pictures. I think some of you have the wrong idea about emailing. I can read your emails all week because I print them. So don’t hold back. Send as much as you can. I love pictures too. I can print them off too. So ya, I just usually respond to the week’s before emails this week if that makes sense. So keep them up. I wouldn’t send anything else through the pouch or by mail because I only have like 12 more days or maybe less here and stuff keeps coming for the old missionaries and I feel so bad because who knows when or if they will ever get it. So email is good enough for me for now.
 

Ok now to the good stuff. Halloween was way fun. Everyone dressed up like their comps. I was Rozsa. haha I got to wear her clothes and badge and sit in her desk. It was way funny other than that it was a normal day except our teacher also brought us cookies and we got some candy from president, so that was fun.

Saturday was PROSALETISMO again!!! Oh man, it was soooo cool. We were in the same area and it was really cold, it has been raining a lot this past week. It was so cold I was wearing my rain coat. Which is huge because usually it’s really, really hot. Anyway we were just taking random turns and just looking for someone, anyone to talk to us. Then we realized we hadn’t said a prayer so we just stopped and said one and literally a few min after that we saw the house of our golden family from last week, the Scarlots. Guess what, the mother had just stepped outside to put something in the trash and saw us and just opened the gate and let us in like it was normal. We went in their house and sat down and we talked to them for a good 5 min just about their week and how they were doing. They told us that no other missionaries had come by, which made us sad because we gave their info to them. We asked them if we could share a message. It was soooo cool. We taught them all about the restoration and El Libro de Mormon. They said they went to our church long ago and they loved the spirit there but then they moved and never went again. The mother was really interested because she said she was divorced and that they were married now. She asked how our church feels about that because when she was divorced the Catholic Church she went to basically said not to come back. I told her that my parents were divorced and the gospel is what helped our family get through it. I bore my testimony to her of the truthfulness of the gospel. Of course this is just whatI was getting. She could have been saying something else, this was all in Spanish. But it was lucky because her husband kind of spoke English and if we didn’t know something, he would help us. They agreed to take a Book of Mormon and some pamphlets. It was so so cool. We prayed with them and I felt the spirit so so strong. We told them we would make sure the missionaries came by this week. We left feeling soooo good. The rest of the day no one really talked to us but we felt so successful. The best part is when we got back to the CCM and told our teacher she talked to the head teacher and he let us call the sisters over that area and tell them about the family and gave them personally the info. I stared crying so hard. I couldn’t even talk, Rozsa had to. It all just felt so real. I could see that family in white and benefiting so much from the gospel. I fasted for them on Sunday. We are anxious to hear something about that, but we may never because this Saturday we will be given a new area.

Sunday my district decided to do a musical number, I Stand All Amazed, this was a huge deal because the boys really didn’t want to, but we convinced them. It was so spiritual. I felt such a deep love for all of them, as we sang of our combined love for the Savior. Sundays are always the best, so much inspiration. We talked about enduring to the end. I kept thinking that missions are so so different than I ever thought, or at least mine has been up to this point. The best part is Heavenly Father is with us every step.

It’s hard because I know the CCM is about obedience but for some reason some of the rules are so hard to keep, like no pictures and not eating outside the caf. But I am doing my best to be completely obedient and I have definitely improved this week. It’s just such a slow process and I feel like I am nowhere near ready to leave.

When the new North Americans came we found out that they got a Spanish for Missionaries book that we didn’t get because they ran out and we still haven’t gotten. But the book is so good, it has all these lessons and worksheets to study. We have two other books but that one is like real lessons. We basically just have phrases. For the longest time I was so mad that they were progressing so fast, it’s hard not to be mad because we still haven’t gotten the book. We have one for our whole class, but I guess the Lord is trying to teach me something.

Ok, I love you all so much. I wish I could say so much more. I love you all. I hope you all had successful fasts. I had my first real 24 hour fast, I think I have ever done. It’s easy because they just don’t have food. ha It was way hard but I had some really important things to fast for so it wasn’t hard.

I love you


xoxooxox

Hermana Ball

PS: Each elder here reminds me of one of my brothers. Elder Burgess especially reminds me of Dan soooo much, he is from Canada. Everything he says reminds me of Dan and makes me miss dan so much. We have one elder, Eastmond, who reminds me of Mar. He is so thoughtful and is always leaving me scriptures to read when he sees I am sad. Elder Droubay, our district leader, reminds me of Ster. He is so business-like and dignified. He is also caring, but has to keep us inline. No one really reminds me of Bran yet, probably cuz no one is quite like Bran. Elder Neil is like Ethan. He is my best friend here. He always makes me laugh really hard because of his laugh. But at the same time they all drive meeee nuts! All summer I wanted to hang out with boys and now I am with them all day, every day. I wish we could just have a district of Hermanas, haha. But they need us, really they do. This week they kept throwing paper airplanes everywhere. 5 hit Rozsa in the face. It made her so mad, hahah so ya we have to parent them a lot, but that’s ok. I still love them.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Should Have Bought a Squirrel

Hi FAMILY!!!!!

Ok first off, I am going to talk about all the new people we got last Thursday. They are so awesome, one of them was feeling really really homesick so I just held her one night and played with her hair and she was just crying. She told me I remind her of her mom that made me feel so good. We all get along so well. Our two latinas are so sweet and are always trying to help me with my Spanish. I am so sad the latinas are leaving Tuesday and next Thursday we get two new ones. But ya, I love them all ready. 

Saturday is really the main event of the week PROSOLETISMO!!!!! So setting:  a whole batch loaded up on a bus.

 *side note Bronson and Richards are Rozsa and mine couple best friends we decided. We do everything together so I will now refer to them as Bron & Rich. 

So we are on the bus and Bron was like I feel like this is a field trip but they are just going to leave us there. They gave us a little sack lunch and then creak, they stop the bus and yell out me and Rozsa’s zone number. We get out and just watch as the bus slowly creaks away. It was so scary. Just two American girls standing in Argentina, not knowing any Spanish, basically, and are just given a mile by a mile area to spread the gospel. We started walking and at first we would just say “Hola” to everyone we saw. Then we got up the guts to say “Hola Somos missionarias la inglesia de jesucristo de los santos de los ultimos dias”. Some people would be really friendly. We would just tell them we have only been speaking Spanish for 2 weeks and asked if they were willing to help us practice. I know we are sneaky, we would always end up getting them to take a passalong card but really we got so lucky. People in our area were sooooo nice. Our goal was 30 contacts, which is basically a conversation and saying you’re missionaries and 5 referrals for the missionaries in that area for real. We got 34 contacts and 7 referrals!!!!

Our golden referral though was a family. We were walking down the street and Hermana Rozsa saw a little boy raking leaves. We walked over and started to talk to him. Our Spanish was so bad he couldn’t understand us so he went to get his dad. When his dad came out I was worried we were about to get yelled at. But he greeted us with a smile and asked if we wanted to come in. We thought we had heard him wrong but he started to unlock the gate (They all have gates before their houses here like in Puerto Rico). We followed him and he told us all about their life. His wife was home and we talked to her too. They said sisters had come before but they never asked for their information. We got their contact info and they said they were really interested in our church mainly because of how sweet both sets of sisters had been when they meet with us. Haha,He offered us wine. We explained we don’t drink that so he gave us water. It was just a way, way cool experience. When we left their house with all their info in our pockets we finally felt like real, live missionaries with a real purpose. The CCM is way hard because you don’t have people moving you forward. You just have your own desire to learn the language. Our CCM is the only one that has this opportunity says president. I am not actually sure if that is true. But I am just so happy to be here and have that opportunity. Sometimes we get jealous of Provo because they get general authorities every week. But they don’t get to teach real live people that speak their language while they are still at the MTC!!!! So awesome. 

Oh haha, in our area there was a pet shop. Haha quote from Hermana Rozsa, “Let’s just say they don’t keep pet shops here clean like Petco!” hahha I love her so much. We always say we would have picked each other if we could have. But truthfully I probably would have picked Bronson because she and I sat on the plane together. But it’s amazing how Heavenly Father knows exactly what you need because if she and I were together we would get nothing done. We are the same person and we both really aren’t very good at Spanish. But both of our comps are way way fun but also keep us in line and know Spanish way better than us. It’s just amazing to me how everything just works out so well here. 

Sunday I gave a talk on the atonement in Sacrament. I knew it was coming before he even approached me at breakfast. It was way cool though, I love my Savior so much, it was a way easy topic. We got to watch The Testaments Sunday night and it was way way good. I forgot how good that movie is. Oh also Sunday I happened to be at the part in the Book of Mormon where Christ dies and the storms come in America. It was way cool to read all that the same day I was thinking so much about the atonement. 

Our IP, which is what we call our lessons with our teachers, is going really well. One of our investigators, Victoria, is getting baptized. We got a new one yesterday to replace her. Renzo is progressing but really we are progressing with him. Each lesson we get a little better at teaching. The last like three lessons we went with a planned lesson and we get there and they are struggling with something else, so we totally just go another direction with the lesson, which is so so hard in Spanish. But we just do it and it works. It’s cool because me and my comp are so in sync we always know how to help the other and pick up where the other struggles. A lot of time I speak Spanglish when we do this because I can’t always think of every word I want to say. But my teachers say that is fine so I keep doing it. I feel so intimidated by the new North Americans. They seem to know as much as I know and I feel like they just got here. One of the North Americans in our room lived in Spain for 10 months so she is basically fluent. 

The CCM is such a range of emotions. Every day you experience the extremes: blissful joy, laughing so hard you pee your pants (that comes later in the letter) and crying because of stress, language, missing home, frustration and mainly the spirit. I cry daily because here I feel the spirit so strong every moment.

So Sunday I was really struggling and I kept feeling like I should ask for a blessing but I was embarrassed to, so I didn’t. Then that night I just was really needing it so the next morning I asked my district leader if he would give me a blessing. Of course he is so amazing, he said yes. I don’t want you guys to be worried so I will just say that I was struggling because the last few nights leading up to that I had had some really bad dreams, which is why I didn’t want to ask for the blessing because I felt like it was a way dumb thing to ask for a blessing for. But they were bothering me so deeply that I just finally had to. It was so sweet. As my district leader, who I know loves me so much, laid his hands on my head he was shaking so bad. I don’t know if he had ever given a blessing before and said my full name and pronounced an amazing blessing of comfort and strength. It was such an amazing blessing. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by the priesthood here. 

It’s weird to say, but I love all the elders in my district so much. I feel so privileged to know them. I always look at them and think some mother somewhere is thinking about you and missing you so much right now. But they still get on my nerves like brothers do!

Oh, so peeing my pants, ok, everyone reading this loves me so don’t make fun. I am entrusting you guys with this very embarrassing knowledge. so ya, I laugh a lot here and I also drink more here than I think I ever have because it’s so hot and we are in class and your aren’t really supposed to go to the bathroom during class. And, on top of that, every time you go you have to take your companion. So I just hold it a lot, but in the past week I have peed my pants 4 times. It’s so bad. I just start laughing and then I think, oh no and it’s just too late. The first 3 it wasn’t a big deal, you couldn’t tell and I just changed my g's and I am good. But the 4th time was at dinner and it was bad. It was really bad. I was going to send a pic but it’s not working this time, so next time maybe. But, ya, it was very noticeable. 

All the latin elders call me Sister Pelota, which I love because its opposite of Hermana Ball.  Hermana Ball is Spanish English and they make it English by saying sister and then Pelota which is ball in Spanish. It’s so funny because they laugh so hard every time they say it. 

Keep sending pictures. I can receive them and not only that, I can print them off and look at them all week!!! I read everyone’s emails like a million times throughout the week so put it all in there. Don’t hold back.

Oh, and try pouch mail. I still haven’t received anything from pouch. 

I love you all so much and pray for you daily. Oh man there is still so much to say, I just don’t have time. This is the fastest hour of my life. I love you, I love you, I love you. 

Hermana Ball