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

Thursday, October 23, 2014

His Truth is Marching On. Week 2 at the CCM

Time flies at the CCM well relatively, it’s crazy that today is P day again but each day seems to drag on forever. The best is when we forget we haven’t had dinner yet and then we get so excited. I forgot to say in the last letter how good the food is here. I am kind of worried about gaining weight here, there is french bread and fruit always available to us in the caf, and the meals are such huge portions. It’s kind of a joke how much they give us and it’s always mainly meat and dessert, ya we have dessert every meal including breakfast, they always have these like pies for breakfast. Good news is we get an hour of physical activity each day so maybe that will help me. 

So this last Sunday was seriously amazing, every Sunday is so nice because it’s basically like a P day. We have sacrament in the morning, this week’s topic was the fall. Our district leader, Elder Drubay is so amazing, ya he is the AP now, no big deal. But anyway, for our district meeting we all went around and shared why we came on a mission. It was so awesome to hear everyone’s decision making process and how much they love our Savior. I love all the people in my district, there are 5 companionships of Elders and 2 Hermanas. Me and Hermana Rozsa and Hermana Bronson and Richards. We are all so close, mainly because we are seriously together all day long every day. 

So Sunday night we had a way awesome fireside with the Latins and North Americans mixed which is always a trick because pretty much they just speak Spanish most the time. But it was on our heritage in the church. Just at our CCM we had members from 10 countries. They had someone from each country come up and read about the heritage of the church in that country, in their native language, and then on the screen would be the other language, English or Spanish. It was really cool to see how the church has grown in South America in the past just 5 years. Paraguay’s membership is 84,000 and they said that it has doubled to that in the past 5 years. That’s is so crazy to me. 

I forgot to mention last week that every Sunday night we get to watch a church movie. Last Sunday it was 17 Miracles and this Sunday was the Joseph Smith movie. It was so good. I hadn’t seen that movie in a while. When we found out that we get to watch a movie every Sunday we got really excited because we thought that meant we would get to see Meet the Mormons but no one here has even heard of that movie, including president Willis, so I am pretty sure we won’t get to see it. 

Monday the temple was open special for the missionaries because the batch before us left Tuesday. Going to the temple in Spanish was very interesting. The really cool thing was that there were two missionaries that didn’t have temples in their countries so they went through for the first time and the hermana sat right next to me!!! It was so cool, but I felt so bad for them. It’s just really overwhelming to begin with and I felt so bad that their families didn’t get to be there. But I put my arm around her and held her hand through it and helped her when she needed it. The Buenos Aires temple is sooooo beautiful. Everyone should go look up pictures of it. It’s so different than any temple I have ever been to. It was so amazing being there with all missionaries. We filled the whole celestial room. 

So like I said Tuesday everyone in the whole CCM but our batch was leaving, all the Latins that came with us and the old batch of North Americans. So for 2 days my batch, which consists of two districts and about 25 people, had the whole CCM to ourselves. It was so fun. Then yesterday we started getting so excited because today we get a whole fresh batch of people!!! Hermana Rozsa and I get 4 new roommates, 2 Latinas and 2 North Americans, we are so excited. One of the Latinas I guess really isn’t a Latina. She is from Spain (which made me think of Ali’s dad, he served his mission in Spain) and she arrived last night at midnight. I woke up around 5 this morning and I saw her and it was like Christmas. Once I knew she was there I wanted to talk to her so badly. This morning we got to talk to her a little, a mix of Spanish and English. It was really good, I’m really excited to meet all the rest. So that’s why I had to get up at 6:30 to write you guys this morning because later today all the new missionaries will be writing their families about arriving safe and so we got the worst time.  Next week hopefully won’t be so bad. The best part about the new missionaries is that we will be with the North Americans for 4 weeks! The last ones we only got for 10 days and even 10 days we got pretty close to the sisters. It is just exciting to not be the new ones any more too. The Latins will only be here for 2 weeks but still we will get to know them too. 100 missionaries in one building all day long, every day, you are bound to get pretty close. 

The other thing I wanted to talk about was teaching. I kind of said last week that I had to teach 2 days after I got here, but it wasn’t like one lesson, done. He was like our set investigator. For 2 weeks we taught him all the lessons and then just this last time he told us he doesn’t want to be baptized any more. It’s cool because the people we teach are our teachers but they come up with the investigators from real people from their missions. So we got two new investigators this last week Victoria and Renzo. The first two lessons they both yawned a lot which I guess means we need to work on getting through a 15 min lesson without reading everything from our notes. It’s really tough to paraphrase when we can’t speak the language, but I can pray now without notes and bear a way, way simple testimony. Our teacher had little interviews with us after we ended the last set of lessons. He told me my Spanish is coming a long really well, which I think he has to say, but I was still way happy to hear it. He told me that when me and my companion teach he can always feel the spirit which was a huge compliment because that is all we seem to talk about in class is not focusing on what we are saying but if we have the spirit. My companion is so awesome, I really don’t know what I would do without her. She speaks so much more Spanish then me. This week we went to the temple and just talked to people around it. We talked to some girls that had done baptisms for the dead. They were so cute, when we walked up they were like "missionerias missionerias." I contributed some to the conversation but for the most part it was my companion. This Saturday they will load all of our batch up in a bus and drop us off at different parts of the city to go proselyting.  I thought it was like for an hour, but no, it’s for 6 hours. I am kind of nervous about that, but good news is my companion is boss and so I think we will do good. 

I am learning so much and I still have so much more to learn. One of the missionaries I loved so much that just left told me that the MTC really isn’t about learning the language, it’s about being obedient. So that’s what me and Rozsa try to do. We just try and be obedient all the time. It’s hard sometimes, like making sure we get up before 6:30 and going to bed at 10:30 and sometimes we fail, but we are working at it. 

Hermana Ball 

PS: you should look into how Dear Elder works down here. I thought that you could only do it at Provo MTC but I saw some people get one the other day. The pouch is also way nice.

Oh, I forgot to say also this week my district tried to do an English speaking fast. Oh man it was really, really hard. Basically I just didn’t say much, but we wanted to go 3 days and we kind of made it like half a day, so hopefully next time we try that we get better at it. 

PS: Tell my friends to email me, I want to hear from them.

This first one is me and Hermana Bronson at the airport.
She flew with me from Salt Lake. She is from Tremonton, Utah.

This is a pic of all the girls in my batch - one hermana richards she is from Cali and we didn’t know she
was coming. She is hermana bronson’s companion, they live across the hall from us and are in our
district so we see them all the time.  The other three in the pic are in a trio.  The girl 2 from the left
came from Arizona but spoke pretty fluent Spanish so she was fast tracked to the two week program. 

Better view of the CCM

Us outside the CCM. We hadn’t been outside the gates of the CCM for like a week, but finally this last
Sunday we got to go take pictures outside because the old batch was leaving. 
So this is the CCM, just one building haha.  It’s so small. 

Me and my companion taking a quick pic, we aren’t really supposed to
 take pictures at the CCM but in our rooms. They just don’t want taking 
pictures to become a distraction fromlearning, which is actually a 
way good thing.

These are our Latina roommates. For some reason they never smile in pictures.
 It took like 10 tries to get the one on the right to smile. She is from Bolivia and the one on the left is from Peru. 

Me and the hermanas are getting really close.
 I let Bronson wax my armpits last P day. It was very painful. 

I am teaching my companion, Hermana Rozsa, to be snuggly, she is struggling. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I Made it Through Week One

Hi Family!

Thank you for all the emails! I am going to read them after I get done emailing you guys. This week has been one of the longest weeks of my life. It feels like I have been here for much longer than a week. I am going to do my best to compile my thoughts in an organized way.


The first day here was so crazy. The MTC is built literally within the gates of the temple. It’s really cool. We are like this little spiritual safe haven. The MTC has a separate set of gates within the temple safe haven, so sometimes it feels a little like we are imprisoned here, but I just have to remind myself that no one is making me stay here. The MTC itself is only one building and it’s very small, three floors with one hall of rooms on each. The bottom is our dining room and chapel and other offices. The middle floor is split in half, girls and boys dorms. The top floor is all district rooms. I love my district so much. Our batch was split into two districts. We are the Alma district. We are with our district for 11 hours a day.


The MTC (CCM) is so different then I thought it would be. It’s basically high school except you are assigned a best friend. The first few days were really rough because for some reason I thought that we would have a teacher for the majority of the day, which is not the case. We start the day with 1 hour of personal study, 1 hour of companionship and 1 hour of language. Then we have more personal study and then sometimes we have a teacher but most the time it is more personal study. Then lunch, then some kind of class with a teacher then on your own, then a devotional. We have one hour of activity time each day. We have a courtyard out back behind the CCM which has some basketball courts and some other things. We actually are so excited to go outside after being in the district room all day that we have some way intense games of kickball, soccer. We played ultimate frisbee with a rugby ball the other day, the elders are usually welcoming and let the hermanas play, but sometimes they don’t. And then we are in class until 9 sometimes 9:30 at night. Anyway, each day is different, but I think you get the point, a LOT of time alone, which I am not a very self-motivated person and a lot of the elders in my district are the same way, so there is a lot of talking. Some days are worse than others.


The thing that is most frustrating is everyone in my district, well everyone but me and another hermana, hermana Bronson, seem to get Spanish, well at least they think they do. So for a few days we stayed in class with all of them trying to teach us which ended in me feeling so overwhelmed and more confused about Spanish than ever. We have now learned how to better spend our time. We learned you are actually suppose to plan out what you are going to study the next day, and then follow your plan so you’re not just sitting flipping through a mountain of books, wondering what you should do. It’s hard for me to know what to study when it comes to Spanish, we have like a whole bunch of pamphlets in Spanish, preach my gospel, the scriptures and a few grammar books with simple church phrases and all the lessons in Spanish, well shortened versions of the lessons. They never seem to have the phrase you need, though. We also have a Spanish to English dictionary and that is it.


When I think of how little I knew when I got here, and how much I know now, it is remarkable. Me and my companion had to teach a 15 min lesson the second day we got here, all in Spanish. The most frustrating thing to me is I just have so much I want to share and I am so incapable of saying anything more than “I know that Heavenly Father loves you” which again is a lot more than what I could say before. Luckily my companion is so amazing, she remembers everything, which is sometimes annoying, ha, but that is ok, she is so useful. I am so lucky to be here at this MTC because we have so many Latinos and they are all so willing to help us learn. My only roommates are two Latin sisters. They are both so sweet but we have very short conversations because they speak no English. I love just sitting and listening to them talk and picking out the 4 words I do know.


My number one favorite thing about being here is singing the hymns in Spanish. We sing so much and I love it. You would think we would be so bad at it but actually they sound really good.


Sundays are really special here, sacrament everyone prepares a talk and they call on people randomly. The district leaders get to pick so everyone chums up to them on Sundays. This last Sunday was so amazing. My companion was chosen to speak and I could feel her testimony so strong. Oh and best part, Sundays are all in English so I actually get what’s going on. Then we have a district Sunday school class and Relief Society. PS: I teach Relief Society this week so wish me luck. Then we have lots of free time. I took a nap because I was so exhausted from the week. At night we have two devotionals, one from our MTC president and his wife and the other his counselor and his wife. In one of the devotionals we were instructed to share this scripture with our families:  Proverbs 25:25. “As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.”  Your words have truly been cold water to my soul. All the little notes people wrote and letters.  I wish I could thank each of you personally for the love and support I have felt this week reading those letters every night.


So I can print emails while I am here. Feel free to email as much as you want. Also the LDS pouch is a huge thing here. I need someone to send me stamps through the pouch because you need American stamps to send stuff. (note from mom, you can send post cards and single page letters through the pouch, but no envelopes.  We will have to send her stamps through the regular mail.)  The missionaries that are already here say the pouch takes a week at the longest to get home. And we can use the pouch when I get to Paraguay too. So if you don’t know how the pouch works ask my mom or dad or Charlsie. They all have my call packet and it explains it all in there. Also mail only takes 2 weeks, sometimes a little more to get here. So that isn’t bad, but again I am fine if you want to stick with email.


Anyway this week has been really really hard but the great part is that I feel the spirit every second of every day. I don’t get hip hop songs stuck in my head, I get hymns. We don’t joke about stupid stuff, we joke about gospel topics and have really deep conversations about spiritual things. It’s really fun to be around people that have been going through the same things as me the past 4 months. I really really love it here. I hope I wasn’t negative. I really really love it here and I have already made so many friendships after just one week. All the hermanas are soooo close, I love it. It’s cool because most of them I never would have picked to be my friend but we somehow have the gospel in common and that is, it’s amazing.


The temple is closed today so we don’t get to go but next week they are opening it early for the missionaries leaving next week. Next week we get to go Monday and Thursday so I am looking forward to that.


Tuesday all the missionaries here, but my batch, leave so we have the whole MTC to ourselves until Thursday when we get new North Americans!!! We are all so excited to not be the new people anymore but we are sad to see the old ones go. Oh I forgot to say that one of the elders here that leaves Tuesday swam with me in high school. He is from Layton, so that is kind of fun.


We watched a devotional that was given at the Provo MTC yesterday. Oh man it was a really great devotional. D Todd Christofferson spoke. Those Provo kids are lucky, I guess so are we because we got to watch it. Anyway, when they panned the audience, I saw 3 kids from Davis that were missionaries. It was way cool. I felt so united. Throughout the world there are missionaries doing their best to learn the language and move the work of the Lord forward. This is just one missionary’s account trying to move the work forward in Paraguay.


Oh also cool thing, there are some Latinos here from Paraguay so they speak Guadini to us sometimes which actually makes me feel soooooo nervous because it’s nothing like Spanish and I don’t even speak Spanish. So ya, any way, something to look forward to.


Love you all so much. I am sorry this letter is so poorly written, I am frantically trying to type so I can get out everything I want to say.


I love you all soooo much,


Hermana Ball


oh PS: Bad news, we aren’t allowed to take pictures here. I have some because we didn’t know the rule, maybe I won’t send all the ones I have taken so you can get a few each week. (note from mom, she couldn’t get it to work this week… and ran out of time.  She said she would try again next week)


PSS: I love my missionary tag. I wear it allll the time. One time I even feel asleep with it on. I love being a missionary.


oh PSS: HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAR. I thought of you all day, and Happy Birthday Emi and Elli. I thought about you too.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Departed SLC Wednesday, Oct 8, 2014. Letter written Thursday, October 9th.

Hello family!

 I made it here alive, we came to the CCM, and got thrown right into Spanish being greeted by a few (more like a hoard) elders speaking Spanish. I think they loved how frazzled we were hearing it. The keyboards down here are way different so I keep making mistakes which takes more time! I only have 5 min to write. They said just state the basics, no packages to MTC, write me lots though! I love everyone.

The flight was not bad at all and I got to sit by a way cute sister missonary and she is like my new best friend. It was so fun to get to talk to someone going to my same mission. We had a HUGE batch from Salt Lake and met many more missionaries in Atlanta. In total I think about 25, with 8 sisters, 5 are going to Paraguay!!! including  my companion who is so sweet.  I like her a lot. Her name is Hermana Rosa. She is from Arizona.

Everyone assumes I know Spanish, of course, but I don't, so I just say "si" a lot! haha but that's ok. I talked to some sisters who helped me and they told me they learned soooo quick here.

The temple is closed until the 30th of October which made me really sad, but that's ok. It's not too far away. 

The church is still true and I really really love all of you so much! I am so excited to hear more and be able to write you more next week. I can see the temple from outside this window and it is so beautiful. It is sooooo beautiful here! ah. Ok I have to go now, but I love you, I love you, I love you! 

I stayed way longer then all the elders I was with, hah.

mucho mucho love,
(officially) Hermana Ball xoxoxoox