Monday, April 27, 2015

April 27, 2015 - Rajahmundry Pictures

Elder Chettimalla & Elder Ball
Baptism of Neeraja Bodasingu

Appa Rao and Swarna family
Elder Thompson & Elder Ball (first week as comps)


April 27, 2015 - Rajahmundry

Hello family!!! Another great week here in Rajahmundry, especially with my awesome new companion Elder Thompson.  Mom, that is crazy that you met her already! (Elder Thompson's mom) Me and Elder Thompson were both very stunned to see this picture haha.  But yeah he is so awesome and we are having a great time together and have really stepped it up in terms of how hard we are working.  We are working really hard together and Heavenly Father is really blessing us.

So this week we taught A TON of RC/LA lessons and really killed it in that category.  As far as our investigators go, we only taught one lesson to an investigator but had great success with the members.  The investigator we taught was a new guy named Praveen and in our first lesson with him, he accepted a baptism date, but then this Sunday didn't come to church so that was frustrating.  But we will try and meet with him a couple times this week and help him out some more and see where we can go from there with him.  We also found some potentials this week so will meet with them this upcoming week.

Many members and rc/las that in the past haven't been interested or haven't really wanted us to come much have actually been inviting us a lot, and so regularly they are wanting us to come over and teach them.  We are very pleased with that.  We have been really working hard and hopefully we continue to find many blessings and success.

So a couple experiences to share this week: One good and one bad.  First the bad to get it out of the way.  We had a meeting with our branch president and he didn't listen to anything we said, and was basically telling us to break mission president's rule and take translators to teach telugu speakers.  We firmly told him we cannot do that and in short, it was just such a frustrating meeting with him, so we were a bit disappointed about that because we have trying so hard to find english speaking investigators by our own efforts but we aren't finding many, so we need to rely more on the members to give us referrals who speak english and we told the branch president this, but he told not to teach english speakers because there are very few and they won't be interested but to teach telugu speakers with a translator.  It was so frustrating that he was telling us to break the rule so we are trying to cope with that.  

The other is the incredible progress i made with my telugu.  Since my comp doesn't know any, sometimes i have to speak a little bit to someone to get an appointment or to communicate or ask where someone is or something.  But more than that my understanding is increasing incredibly.  I had two different experiences where people came up to us and were speaking pure telugu and i actually understood every single thing they said. It was a miracle from God.  I still can't speak or consistently understand it, but every once in a while he gives me the words and understanding when i need it.

So my last name in Telugu is Bunthi.  haha.  And we didn't feel any of the earthquake but it did come to Rajahmundry i guess, just not our part.  Sounds like you guys had a pretty great week! Have another great one this week! Love you guys much!

Love, Elder Ball
PS, This week's temperatures: today 105, tomorrow 104, wed 105, thurs 106 fri 108, sat 110....Yikes  :O

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

April 21, 2015 - Rajahmundry Pictures

Elder Chettimalla & Elder Ball

Awesome pic of housemates...Elders Braganza, Monk, Chettimala, Ball

Polupalli Ram Babu family 
The 'cool' look...

...and the happy look!


April 21, 2015 - Rajahmundry

Sorry for the day late email again!! Transfers were yesterday so i was waiting for my new companion all day, so we didn't get to email so i am getting it done today!!

So first and most importantly, Elder Chettimalla and I had our baptism this Saturday!!!!!!!!! We were so excited to finish our companionship on a baptism and so we began our first week with a baptism and finished our last week with one also, so we had companionship bookend baptisms!! We were so happy because we had worked so hard and with four people throughout our time together we were one week away and it didn't end up working out.  But finally we saw a nice fruit of our labor.  So Neeraja Bodasingu was baptized.  She was baptized by one of her relatives who is in our branch and in the district presidency.  His name is Venkat Polupalli.  He forgot about the baptism so he didn't show up until 8 in the evening, so we waited for him for an hour but it ended up working out!  So much happiness was there for our companionship and Neeraja was also happy.  She was also confirmed on Sunday, so we got all of that done before Elder Chettimalla left.

So he got transferred to a place in the state of Tamilnadu called Erode.  It is a small place outside of Coimbatore.  He is replacing the Aussie, Elder Basil who is coming to my zone!! I saw him when he came yesterday, and i really missed that guy!! We have become way good friends and we are so pumped to be in the same zone again.  I think i will have to go visit him in Melbourne after my mish sometime and hang with him because he has become one of my best friends.  Anyways so about Elder Chettimalla going to Hyderabad, he can't because he is from there, but also we will make sure those other missionaries take good care of her (Sophia).  
So my new companion arrived at around 6:30 yesterday evening.  His name is Elder Thompson.  He is from Kaysville, Utah and went to the same high school as Jesse Wade!!! He is a way cool guy.  He has been on his mission for 6 months now and spent his first six in Bangalore like i did.  I knew him before i came to Rajahmundry so i was stoked to get him as my companion.  He literally looks almost exactly like me.  Same whiteness, same height, same body build, does his hair the same, is going to Utah State after his mission, etc.  He is awesome and we are excited to work hard together and have tons of fun while we are at it.

About the pics, i just looked in Dropbox and i see them there.  Next week i will try sending more also.  I have some good pics of Indian people and the huts we go to and stuff.  I am seriously so happy and excited right now about these two upcoming transfers.  And then after that i go to the Philippines!! How weird is that!!!?!?!  And yes we skype in like three weeks!! I feel like i just saw you guys on skype though haha but it will be awesome to see you again! And also to see my bro's stache!!:)  Speaking of my bro, make sure to tell him that i love him more than anything in the world and that he is my best friend and eternal mate and that i would not be the man i am today without him.  Seriously though i would probably be a "junk fellow" if i didn't have an amazing brother like him.  God definitely gave him to me to help me be better.  And also give him many many Birthday hugs and kisses!! 

Yes i eat spicy food and i love it.  It is so good!!!! So random thoughts are basically how hot it is, so basically hot showers don't exist for me anymore.  I only take cold showers because hot showers are not needed.  Like if we wanted we could take hot showers and it will last for like an hour, but cold showers are all i take now because it feels better!  I am in love with a Mango drink called Maaza.  I am learning how to make some simple Indian food.  I love my companion.  I love my life and my mission.  The End:)  

Scripture: D&C 84:57-58.  Very straight forward scripture that we should remember.  Love using this one with members.  

Dang OKC missed the playoffs? Only cuz Durant was out.  With him they would be doing awesome.  sounds like Westbrook did awesome but had no help...well maybe someone new will win it this year.  I know what the heck, i thought serving a mission would bless me, but as soon as i leave, Durant can't stay healthy and the Thunder miss the playoffs!!! So sad;) haha.  

Anyways hope you all have a great week!  I know i will and we are still confident with our inspiration to focus on the members and we are really putting that into effect this week!!

Love you all,
Elder Ball

Monday, April 13, 2015

April 13, 2015 - Rajamundry

Hey everybody!!
So yeah the first half of this week was actually not that great because i was sick pretty much through Wednesday, but now i am doing much better and we ended up having a pretty good week.  

The main highlight of this week was the progression of our investigator Neeraja.  We helped her to pray and she actually prayed for us.  She also has just a good memory and has remembered everything we have taught and she said she is ready for baptism!  So Thursday is her interview and she is being baptized on Sunday!!! And today is transfer calls so this is probably me and Elder Chettimalla's last week together, so it will be awesome to end our companionship on a baptism.  We will have had bookend baptisms.  One our first week together and one our last week together.  We are really excited about that because we have worked so hard and have been so close with multiple investigators and finally one is being baptized.

So about Sophia...we found out she isn't coming back to Rajahmundry but she will be going to Hyderabad, so when she does we will give her info to those elders and pass her to them.  then when she gets baptized, because she was ready to be baptized yesterday, then in our hearts we can count her as our convert;) haha but no it will be great for her to still be able to be taught, and she will most likely get baptized there in Hyderabad.  She really progressed well before she left.  She quit coffee and was reading the book of mormon and was coming to church every week and doing so well.

So as an apartment and as branch elders we discussed something this week.  We decided to shift our main focus from investigators to what we already have in the branch.  We felt that we were inspired to build up what is currently there and that will bring more success and results in the future for us or for future elders who serve here.  So we will no longer go finding in our area by our own efforts, but will more so be going to members and recent converts and less actives, and if they give us a referral then we will teach of course, but our main focus will be to reactivate, gain more trust from the members, and get the more active members even more converted.  We are very confident with this decision and feel that God inspired us to do this.  While the baptisms will be less for us most of the time, we are okay with that and really looking forward to building the kingdom that has been established so far, which will lead to growth of the numbers in future days months and years.  

Okay mom so my answers for your two questions about Joseph smith:
1) I gained a testimony of Joseph by a couple of ways.  A big way is actually teaching people about him and about his vision.  But i would have to say the biggest way is split between two. My testimony came as i read the book of mormon.  That is the best way to strengthen our testimony of him.  Because if the book of mormon is true then he really was called of god as a prophet, and everything he taught and learned is true also. The book of mormon is the keystone of our religion and also of our testimony of the prophet joseph smith.  A good resource i think you should use is to watch "Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration." Also you could use in your class a video from Jeffrey R. Holland about the Book of Mormon.  He talks about it being his source of peace right before his martyrdom and it is so dang good.  I would watch that for sure.  
2) The people we teach gain their testimony mostly from reading the book of Mormon, but another way is a pamphlet we have that contains the testimony of the prophet joseph smith.  Ask the elders in the ward for some copies of that because i have come across multiple members who have read that and it really strengthen their testimony because much of it contains the words of the prophet himself.  
Hope these are helpful for you.  I don't know if you wanted more than this but if you do let me know and i will do my best. 

Answers to other questions: P-days here in Rajahmundry are pretty boring as there isn't much to do but yes we have gone to that river a few times.  Mostly we just email and go get a nice lunch and go shopping and just chill and hang out in the apartment.  Not really any new foods.  I do really like some of their sweets though including Gulab Jamoon, and Caja.  They are so good.  The best thing that happened this week was the great progression of Neeraja and General conference. 

Speaking of conference, my favorite talks were from Perry, Holland, Renlund and Burton.  Seemed like a huuuuggggeee theme this time was about families and it was awesome.  Holland is so dang powerful i feel like he is chastizing me every time he speaks haha but his talk was great.  Renlund's was great too because none of us are perfect and we all have to keep trying.  Burton's was great because it seems like the women usually speak about women and teaching children in the home, but she changed it up this time and spoke on the importance of men and the priesthood in the home.  Now that i am on a mission, i actually love conference and don't want to miss a single talk and now i can't wait for october haha!  

Boy dad it is sure is great to have a doc as a pa.  I don't trust a lot of the docs here to be honest haha.  And your SC updates are on point every time:) I also love the cards you gave me with your advice and quotes and scriptures and stuff.  You are the best dad, and honestly i think i took you for granted and probably didn't show you enough respect or listen to you enough.  But now i realize you were always right.  Even when you were right, you would still apologize to me after an argument we had, or if it was my fault still you would take the fall for me and be the first to apologize.  That's why you were the man and the dad.  I was just the son.  So i want you to know that now i think the world of you and really appreciate everything you did for me.  While it may be a lot later than it was deserved or should have been, i guess better late than never...Love you Pa!

Oh and about the contacts.  I still have some but i want to start wearing them more here which would make me run out quicker so i guess they don't need to be sent yet but eventually i will need more.  Maybe like 3-6 months worth.  Mostly because it is so darn hot that it is difficult to wear glasses.  Although the last couple of days the climate has been a lot nicer.  We might actually get some rain! 
Anyways love you guys so much! Hope your week is wonderful!
Until next week,
Love, Elder Ball

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

April 7, 2015 - Rajahmundry

Hello family!!!
Sorry about not being able to email you yesterday....i was feeling quite sick throughout the day yesterday, and i went to doctor today to see if anything in particular was wrong.  basically they said that everything was normal except that i have a UTI, which i already knew like four days back so i thought something else was also wrong.  I didn't know having a UTI could make someone have vomitings and loose motions and extreme body/bone pains.....Is that normal Dad? i trust your opinion more than this doctor's honestly, so if you could let me know that would be great.  I am feeling a little bit better this evening and hopefully should be able to resume my mish work tomorrow.

Anyways so it was another very hard working week for me and my awesome companion.  We are really doing our best to find and teach and reactivate and retain and all that stuff.  We are having a pretty difficult time still finding new investigators which is pretty frustrating, but we are still trying and hopefully this week we are able to meet some new people to teach.  

As far as Sophia goes, we were making some good progress this week with her until something very unfortunate happened...the other night, in the middle of the night, the family she was staying with just took her and dropped her off at her village and left her there, so we aren't sure when or if she will come back.  our branch president is trying really hard to bring her back and arrange for a member family to let her stay with them until she leaves for the US.  So on friday for our zone training, this was right when we found out she was gone, part of the training was about our accountability and whose fault it is for people not accepting or for missionaries not meeting their goals, and the zone leaders read us a scripture from john chapter 9 i think about it being nobody's fault.  God has a specific plan for everybody, and sometimes he allows things like this to happen so that we can learn in different ways.  This was a real comfort to me because i was quite discouraged about what happened. 

As far as Neeraja goes, we taught her again and when we taught her on Friday, she wouldn't even this week we must teach her about the importance of prayer again, and probably will have to postpone her baptism until April 19 so we will see how that goes.  As far as our progressing investigators it was a bit discouraging, but we did awesome with our recent converts and less actives and member lessons this week and had 20 rc/la's come to church so we were very pleased with that.  

So about conference, we don't get to watch til the week after.  Same as it was for me in Bangalore.  This upcoming weekend is our conference time so that should be good.  Sounds like another great one.  So in answer to the question from mom...the little miracles i think are a lot of times God keeping me safe on these streets in India with all of the crazy traffic, and also just how he helped me to love this country even though it is so different.  And other things like that.  Also even in times where it is easy to be discouraged because of failure, it is still so hard to not be happy knowing that i am doing the right thing.  
And about Robert William...of course i know him...he is President Berrett's first counselor and also he did Simmy's baptism interview for us haha.  Pretty cool about him becoming a general authority.  Also if you look at the october general conference ensign, look at the second quorum of seventies pictures and find Randy D Funk.  He was the mission president here right before President Berrett.  Haha Go India!!:)

Speaking of Go India, dad your mission country beat mine in the world cup semis and cricket and then eventually won the cup.  That is right, Australia won the world cup.  Kangas get the W.  Duke won?! Man!!! what happened to Kentucky?? anyways sounds exciting.  

Actually i do have one request...that i get some more daily contacts...if that is possible.  It is so dang hot here in rajahmundry so it is really frustrating wearing glasses because they just slide off my sweaty face anyways.  So if that is possible it is the only request i have.  :)

Well yes i am still loving my mission and having a great time and really enjoying teaching the gospel.  I also love you guys so much and hope you have a wonderful week this week!
Elder Ball