Monday, March 28, 2016

Turning In the Badge

Miracles do exist . . . Paola was baptized!
Look how happy Marta is
We made a goal for my last week to eat ice cream every day, haha

So this is it. I am getting close to the finish line.... it's a weird feeling. Honestly I don't really feel like it's true. But let me back up for a minute and share some miracles that I saw this week.

So I don't remember where I left off on the Paola story, but she was living with the family Mercado and we were trying to get them to have custody of her, then out of nowhere her mom comes back from Argentina and takes her to her grandma’s house, which is in our area. Miracle number one.

Then Paola shares with her mom all that she has learned in the church and her mom sees the huge change in her daughter and decides to let her daughter be baptized. Paola was so happy, she said she wanted to get baptized this Saturday before I leave.  But wait, we didn't announce her baptism Sunday, and that's a new rule in the mission. So we talked to the assistants to the president and they told me no that there are no exceptions.... so I was really bugged. Not because I want to be here for her baptism but because she really is so prepared and there was no reason why she shouldn't. Plus President Wilson always makes exceptions since I have met him. We talked to Paola and she was sad and said can we announce it and I get baptized Sunday in the afternoon, so you can be there.... the problem was then she would have to wait a long time to be confirmed and we all know that's not good... but we said we would see. We talked to our branch president and he was like, “Who said NO?”... haha No hermanas, don't worry. I will take care of this. He called President Wilson and explained that Paola has been coming to church and seminary for two months now and that we have just been waiting.... and President Wilson was like “Ya, that’s fine”!!! I personally talked to him to be sure and he told me the same thing. So we got our guns moving and started to plan everything.

It was honestly the most beautiful baptism I have ever seen. There were so many people and the elders had a baptism too. All the missionaries sang a musical number and I felt like there were angels singing with us, but the best part was just seeing Paola's face. She was so happy. She is so responsible. She came to her baptism all by herself and Sunday she was the first person at church. I know that it was her time. I'm so grateful I was able to see her enter the waters of baptism. 

The other big thing this week was I had my last interview with President Wilson. It was on Tuesday so I was worried it would make me so trunky and I wouldn’t be able to function. But it actually made me less trunky because he settled all the fears Satan was putting in my mind. I love President Wilson. We talked for an hour. My hija (companion) was like “What happened in there? You were gone forever!” haha.

I’m still writing down all the advice he gave me. I’m going to miss him and his wife a lot. One thing that I loved was he said your companion is amazing. I said I know. He told me I’m leaving a beautiful legacy. I told him she came that way. Then he looked at me and said, “But you gave her everything she needed to grow”. That kind of hit me hard because I feel like this with my whole mission, that I really did nothing. The people I saw change were ready, I was just there watching. It made me think of a seed, a good seed. If we throw it down it won’t grow, but if we plant it and take care of it, it can become something beautiful. I think that was my job on the mission; to just take care of all these good seeds God gave me so that they would have a fair chance to grow. 

Sunday was a hard day. President Vera came up and said “Are you ready for your last testimony?”  I told him yes, but I didn't know what I was going to say. The intermediate hymn was my hijas (companion’s) favorite. We sing it literally 20 times a week, so we were both a wreck and couldn't stop crying. Then the counselor gets up and says “18 months ago the Ball family gave up their daughter. They trusted her in the Lord's hands and gave her to us. Now it’s time we send her back.” Also it was the farewell of a boy that’s leaving on his mission the same day I end mine, so that was special.

I want to share what I told the people of the Caaguazu branch: 

“When I came on my mission, I came because I felt so happy with what the gospel brings. I wanted the whole world to know what I know. One day when I was walking down the road with my companion (in Villa Elisa) a man stopped us and asked where I was from. I told him America and he asked what we were doing here.... you’re here to preach he said. I told him we are here to talk of Christ. He looked at me and said “You think that the people of Paraguay don’t know anything about Christ, you think that we are ignorant of God?” “No, that’s not why I came here to Paraguay”. There is a quote that I love by Elder Bednar he says that we invite all to come with all the knowledge they have, every good thing they have and see if the restored gospel of Jesus Christ doesn’t edify and enlighten what they already know. I have seen that come true. I have seen so many people come with what they know and the gospel of Jesus Christ lights there life with so much light. I know that God sends out missionaries because he loves all his children. He wants them all to have the truth available to them. I’m so grateful for the opportunity I have had to be a part of this great army of God. I love what timothy says in 2 timothy 4:7 

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course


People always say that their best years were when they were on their mission. This always makes me sad. I don’t want the best years of my life to be behind me. But President Wilson told me that I’m not really finishing my mission, I’m just starting a new one. and h (that’s all of the letter that came)

-Jenny's mission will end on Thursday morning when her dad and step-mother pick her up.  She arrives in Utah on Saturday, April 9th.  Her homecoming will be at 11 am on Sunday, April 17th.

Some pictures that got left out of last week's letter:

Palm Sunday.  They make these and sell them.  No many people were at church.

This may not look so pretty but in real life it's my favorite part of our area.

Look how happy Ismael looks!

This is one of my favorite things ever. They just peel a grapefruit and you suck out all the juice.

 They do it with all fruits.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Hola MI GENTE ... (hello my people)


Look how happy Marta looks

This week went by soooooo fast!!!!!!!!! I feel like I get up every day and then it’s time for bed again. 

We have been working really hard but things keep happening that make it so we have like no time to go out and work. It’s hard training sometimes, especially at the end because she knows everything. hahh The other day I asked her if she was nervous about something or if there is something she wants me to go over again so that she is ready for when I leave. She told me a few things, and then she just started crying.... poor thing. It’s so hard when your mom leaves you and I think it’s double hard because I’m dying.... I feel bad for her. But she is such a great missionary, she is going to be fine. 

The biggest miracle of the week was that everything went smoothly and Ismael was baptized. It was so great to see him in the water. He looked so happy.

This week was kind of crazy because we are starting semana santa (Holy week) and this last Sunday was domingo de ramas (Palm Sunday). So like everyone was in the Catholic Church.... but its ok. We are just looking for new people right now. We keep finding people through miracles. The other day we were at the church and a lady was walking around the church for exercise. She started talking to us and she said we can visit her.... she literally lives in front of the church. 

A man told me this week that it’s impossible to follow the commandments. I thought about that over and over again. Why god would send us something impossible to do. He wouldn’t. I know that they are there to complete and when we fall short Christ is there to meet us half way and pull the rest. I’m so grateful for Him. This week I thought about his resurrection. What that really means. That we are all going to live again... what an amazing gift and if we do all that we can we will get to live again with Him.

I love you all!! I hope you have a great semana santa. 

Hermana Ball 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Two almost baptisms . . .

Marta bought a fish
Bejeu. I'm not sure how to spell that, but it's sooooooo good!

Marta taught us how to make bajue

This week has gone by so fast, we had some pretty stressful things happen. Mainly it was just hard because I felt alone, and didn't know what we needed to do... When you get to this point in the mission people just think you know what you are doing but what we had to go through this week I have never had to deal with in my mission...... This week we were supposed to have two baptisms .... things seemed to be all worked out but then something would happen and we wouldn't know if we were going to be having one or two baptisms and then we got to a point where we realized we would be having none...

It started Monday. We went to the family Mercado’s house for family home evening. Marta wanted to have the whole family together. We started making the bejeu and everything was going great, but then, before we knew it, all her kids without us noticing, slipped away to be with friends... so me and Hermana Gonzalez went looking for them because I have learned you just need to be a little aggressive sometimes. After looking all over we found Paola in her friend's house. She said she wasn't going to be able to come with us. We tried to persuade her and she said give me 10 min. so we went looking for the boys. We didn't find them so we went back to Paola. She said she wasn't coming again but we kept being pushy so she said ok, and started walking with us... but this was right when Marta decided to step in. She comes out of nowhere and yells at Paola in Guarani.... maybe you will think that Marta is being kind of crazy but Paola's friends are drug addicts... Marta keeps yelling in Guarani as we watch close by... Paola takes off. We go back to the house with Marta confused. Paola comes from the other side and starts packing her stuff... now maybe this all seems kind of crazy to you guys but I'm pretty use to family feuds going down in front of us. My hija (companion) on the other hand, is not and began to cry pretty hard, poor thing. We got them to talk to each other and when we left them that night they were a happy family and Paola was wanting to get baptized on Saturday. 

We still had the problem that Paula didn't have permission..... she needs to go and talk to the court. Every day she would say she was going to the courts to figure things out legally but then she would never GO!!!!! She passed her pre-interview and was all ready. We just didn't have permission. 

We prayed and prayed and prayed and finally FRIDAY they decided to go. It went well but it's not an easy process, so we are still waiting to see what the courts say. 

Now for Ismael, we went to talk to him to see what really happened and why he drank. He almost started crying. He said he doesn't know what happened. He told the kid he wasn't going to drink. But this guy was really persuasive and he gave in. We talked about repentance and he said he was really sorry. We decided that he was going to still be fine to get baptized on Saturday... the only problem was when we told our branch president he wasn't fine with that. He very kindly, with a lot of respect, told us that he didn't approve of this baptism. So we prayed about it and decided it was better to be in good terms with the president than force this baptism to happen. But everything was all set for his interview so he had his interview with our district leader and he passed! But the elder told him he felt he should wait one week more.  Ismael said MAN!!! I just want to get baptized, but he understood. It was so cute for the first time this Sunday he went to church with a white shirt and tie. We had consejo, I don't know what that's called but the meeting with all the leaders of the branch, and president thanked us publicly for listening to his counsel. So that was pretty rewarding and now everything is in order for his baptism this Saturday and nothing is going to get in his way!!!!!

Other than dealing with all that, this week just went by really fast. We have been finding lots of people lately but they seem to have a lot of doubts... the good thing is we know their doubts but the hard thing is they don't want to do anything to change their doubts.....but we have had some very spiritual lessons with these doubters and I just leave thinking HOW did they not feel that!!! but I know they did. Sometimes we build walls so tall that we don't want to accept what’s right in front of us. It’s one of the saddest things about being a missionary, seeing these people and knowing what they could become and watching them choose not to change. 

One last miracle. This week at the last min. on Saturday we visited the cousin of a member we taught a long time ago, before dengue. She listened to us and we invited her to church. She was like “I will go hermanas” ...... every Paraguayan says that and never goes.... but for my hija’s sake I left super excited and full of faith telling my hija that she was for sure going... even though I didn't fully believe it. Turns out when we got to church she was the first one there!!! So we will be passing by for her this week. Pray for DORA!!! 

I LOVE YOU ALL I hope you all have a great week!!!

Hermana Ball