Monday, May 25, 2015

May 25, 2015 - Rajahmundry Pictures

Typical hut where people in Rajah live.

Elders Monk, Harris, Ball, Thompson

Marriage of a member friend, Funny Kotangi.

Birthday party for 8yr old Rani...'probably one of the cutest little Indian girls ever'.

Rani and her mom, Sandhya.
Elders Thompson, Ball, Bandi, D'Vaz with Rani.

Elder Ball went to Hyderabad to get his passport updated,
and while there met up with Elder Bunga's brother, Madhu.
Looks like they found a Subway while in Hyderabad. :)

Rented building where they have Church in Rajah (second/third floors).

Baptismal font in Rajah.

New church being built.
The central shopping area in Rajahmundry.

Rajahmundry street vendor selling mangos and other fruits.

With a watchman who is very friendly but speaks no English.

May 25, 2015 - Rajahmundry, Heat Weak

Oh my goodness this week killed was soooooo hot!!!!!!!! In Fahrenheit it was about 115-120 all week long!! The lowest it gets here at this time of year is 85...and this upcoming week is going to be worse.  Highs for this upcoming week: 118, 118, 116, 119, 121.  And it won't get any lower than 91...  So quite honestly i am stressing a bit about the upcoming week and dreading it.  However, about this week...although it was so dang hot, we were pretty hot as a companionship as far as missionary work goes.  We had an awesome week.  We taught a lot of lessons and the fruits of our labors came in sacrament meeting attendance!! We had 17 recent converts and less actives come to church this week and also....Ganesh!!! Our investigator that we have been focusing on for this whole transfer!! It made me so incredibly happy to see him walk through those sacrament hall doors and come up to me and shake my hand.  It was awesome.  Also, another investigator we have named Sujatha came to church also.  She is doing pretty well as an investigator, and hopefully we can progress even some more with her this week.  

The missionary work here is really hard, mostly because of the weather.  That is really what is killing me.  But we are still doing our best to bring others to Christ and are really being blessed.  With the amount of investigators we are having though it would really make me so happy to see one of them baptized.  Elder Thompson and I have really been clicking as a companionship and getting along so well, and we are really working hard. We really are being blessed a lot also.  So this week, we had a couple appointments with Abiram (the 12 year old we are teaching).  So the first meeting this week, we found out he is not reading or praying so we were pretty bold with him, and told him that if he really wants to know that he should read and ask God.  But then he brought up a concern.  That he doesn't know if God is really there to answer his prayers.  So we challenged him to read one verse every day until our next meeting and pray every day about our message, and then tell us what he thinks.  So Saturday, we went back and met with him.  We followed up with our assignment...he read every day and prayed every day and said he felt the holy ghost every time he did so.  So we had invited him to be baptized a few meetings back and he said no because he wasn't ready.  This week we followed up on that invitation also and found out that he is willing and wants to be baptized...only one problem is there.  His parents won't let him be baptized...and he is moving back to his home today.  So we will pass him to the elders in that area, and hopefully they will teach his family and baptize them.  While we were a bit disappointed about this outcome, we realized in the end, that we did our job and did what we were supposed to.  We helped him to feel the convincing power of the holy ghost testify to him that the book of mormon and the church is true.  Now it is the other missionaries' job to finish him off! haha ;) 

We also found out about a new place in our area that we haven't been to yet, so we will try and do some finding there this week and see if we can get some new investigators!!  We are really enjoying together as a companionship and get along awesome.  At least i enjoy Elder Thompson... hopefully he enjoys me also and i am not too much of a "junk fellow":)   

Answers to mom: first of all, yes we did get the package and it is great!! Thanks!! I especially like the shirt;) haha but the water bottles are already coming in handy.  Believe me we jumped right on that:)  The funniest thing we have done is probably just pointing out all the funny things that happen in India.  Elder Thompson got pooped on by a lizard in our apartment this week haha that is pretty funny.  We try and laugh a lot every day so it is pretty hard to pick out one thing.  As far is the weather basically feels like we are swimming through a giant hot tub...and honestly not much of a point in trying to wipe off our sweat, because as soon as we do we are just as wet if not more wet than the second before.  Honestly it sucks.  It is the only thing i will complain about for the next few weeks because it is my biggest struggle right now.  Everything else seems like nothing compared to this weather!! Haha   As far as fun activities, we don't/can't do much here because not much to do and it is too hot to do much sports or anything.  Most spiritual experience was probably seeing the happiness and faith of a member who we gave a blessing to a few weeks ago tell that ever since i gave the blessing she hasn't had that problem at all! It was pretty simple but it is awesome that she had so much faith to be healed of this affliction.  Also probably the happiness i felt about Ganesh coming to church. 

Well hopefully you guys have a great week this week! I will try and stay alive or afloat in this 120 degree 95% humidity weather!! Enjoy the beautiful spring weather!!!
Love, Elder Ball

Monday, May 18, 2015

May 18, 2015 - Rajahmundry

Hey family! Another week come and gone! So crazy !!! time is flying by so fast.  So mom i didn't get an email from you this week.  I don't know if that was on purpose or not but i did not get one..  And i didn't get the package yet .  I will probably get it the first week of june when the zone leaders bring it from bangalore.  

So this week was pretty good.  I spent three days in Hyderabad for my new passport and everything went smoothly, so i should be good to go in less than 2 months!!!  Should be a good time.  So we still had a great week this week despite me being gone for half of it.  Hyderabad was pretty fun.  I spent some time with elder Gimmett and Elder Porter and Elder Semadeni there as they were all also getting the passports.  We had a good time together and went out to a really nice lunch.  

We taught Abiram again this week and were really bold with him.  So this week we will see if he progresses a little more and decides to get baptized.  As far as Ganesh goes he is just procrastinating the day of his repentance, so that is a little bit frustrating and we are trying to get him to realize the importance of doing it now.  But his family is inactive and we got them to come to church this week and we had a lot of success with rc/las this week.  It was pretty awesome.  We also got a part member new investigator boy named Sidhu who is nine years old, so we will see how he does with progressing.  Still trying to help Subrahmanyam as he did not come to church this week but we are still trying very hard with him.  Hopefully we can see some more progress with him this week, as he said this week he will come to church.  We are still doing so awesome though with our recent converts and less actives and really enjoying success in that department. 

So as far as seeing President Berrett, he came for interviews but i missed him both places haha so i am pretty much the only Missionary in the whole mission who did not get interviewed this time around...Not sure if that is good or bad;) haha just kidding i was a little upset to miss that because interviews with him are awesome.  

Right now though i am frustrated with our Branch presidency.  They don't listen to a word we say and still won't support us about following the english memorandum and stuff.  We finally got them to have a Council meeting yesterday and it went absolutely nowhere, as they are just not supporting or helping us and are upset that we only have 3 "conversions (baptisms) this year" compared to all of last year there was a total of 40, most of which are inactive.  it is pretty frustrating how past missionaries totally distorted their view of missionary work and now it is falling upon us.  However, we are seeing some fruits of our labor in terms of attendance at church.  We have had so much more people at church lately, many of whom are less actives!!! We are really working hard together as a companionship and as branch Elders to progress our branch.  I guess we may not see the immediate outcomes or effects from our efforts, but work might be better and easier for future elders and things might go a long way from what we attempted to do.  Just a little bit of frustrations there but i guess it is all in God's plan and we just have to do our part.  

But this mission is awesome and is really changing who i am and what i want to be and the man i am.  I am really growing closer to God and Christ and becoming so much better of a person.  I am ever grateful to Heavenly Father for allowing me to serve this mission and especially in the most awesome, and coolest mission in the world in the great (and quite peculiar) country of India.

Have a great week!
Love, Elder Ball

Sunday, May 17, 2015

May 11, 2015 - Rajahmundry Pictures

The 'junk cycle' that is 'so junk that it's kinda cool'.
Elder Ball and Elder Thompson are having a good time together.  Multiple choice on these pictures: (a) missionaries, (b) FBI agents, (c) mannequins at the same missionary-supply store.


Maggi noodles
Wearing the lungi he likes (gift from a member when he left Bangalore).
Lunch with Elder Harris from Blackfoot, ID.

Cow pies on the side of a house; a Hindu ritual to protect from evil spirits.

Monday, May 11, 2015

May 10, 2015 - Mother's Day Skype

Mom note…
We skyped with Elder Ball on Mother’s Day, and he seemed happy, content, and focused on working hard, yet still showed a sense of humor.  His English is definitely less American and more like Indian-English in tone, terminology, syllable emphasis, and he has a head-bob mannerism at times when talking. 

Highlights of things Elder Ball shared via Skype...
--Said a few things to us in Telugu.  He is able to understand most Telugu spoken to him, but his speaking is basic conversational.
--Liked Tyler’s blonde mustache and said we should wait for his half-way mark to give Tyler his first shave. Tyler used his IPad to ‘tell’ him a few things.
--Mission/Philippines. The mission is so large that they see President Berrett around every three months.  He will go to the Philippines July 14th and thinks he’ll be there for 1-2 transfers.  All missionaries will be moved out of Rajah on July 10 for 2wks (during the big pilgrimage to the river by millions of Hindus) for safety reasons (extremists will be there, don’t like Christians, etc.).
--Rajahmundry. Their area of Rajah is poor, and most people live in huts or cement blocks.  Those who speak English usually understand just basics, so they really teach with basic terminology.  Most all people in Rajah are friendly to them, holler at them in the street “hi bro, how are you, what is your name” (video clip).  The little kids especially like them because they are white.
--Rajah branch.  Most church meetings are in Telugu, but the need exists to increase use of English, develop future leaders; the Church Handbook/etc. are not in Telugu.  Said it’s hard to remember how a real ward functions.  Branch ‘list’ of members is ~500 people, but only have 70 active members.  Poor records, lack of addresses, etc. because prior missionaries basically baptized everyone.  That’s the reason for the no-translation rule now…need to teach in English to ensure investigators understand the teachings prior to getting baptized.
--May is the hottest month of the year.  It’s been 110 degrees or so every day plus high humidity, so feels like 140 degrees. He sweats and drinks water all day long.
--Their apartment is very nice compared to his apartment in Bangalore.  It has a washing machine for laundry, air conditioning, etc.
--He and Elder Thompson are having a great time together. They have also found nine new English investigators while ‘going finding’ during the last couple of weeks, so are real excited about them.  Also teaching a whole bunch of less-active, new-members.
--His “cycle” is such a ‘junk bike’ that it’s almost cool.  They ride a long ways up hill to their area from their apartment.
--It's mango season (Ryan loves mangos), so he and Elder Thompson bought 32 mangos the other day and have eaten almost all of them.  He loves to wear his lungi, and is going to get another one soon and get Elder Thompson one.
--Some of them play basketball in the mornings for their exercise.  (So he’ll be excited that the in-transit package includes a basketball net.)
--His second comp, Elder Bandi, is serving in Rajah now and lives in the apartment downstairs.  He’s learned to really love Elder Bandi, who is doing much better now in Rajah.
--Be glad we are in America, because government is corrupt in other places like India. 
--Everything is really cheap, and they use rupees. Said he’s very frugal so is still on last month’s allocation. They cook at the apartment more now because it’s cheaper, and they are also learning to cook Indian food.

Monday, May 4, 2015

May 4, 2015 - Rajahmundry

Hey fam!!! Sounds like you guys had a great week and were very busy filled with fun and work and much else!!!!!!!!!  Loving the picture of my most adorable little bro.  Or i guess he is getting so big and old now so that he is handsome i guess.  And now probably the girls are liking him because he is getting that manly swag-stache!!! hahaha.  I wish i could see that in person haha.  

So first things first to ease the mind of my mother is the skyping.  So let's plan on your sunday morning skyping okay?? At around like 7 or 7:30 your time.  I will come back and tell you for sure later this week after getting permission and confirmation from the ZLs.  Excited to see you all!!:)

Elder Thompson and I had a dang good week this week!!! We worked really hard and have been trying to be even more obedient and receive some more blessings especially to get new english speaking investigators and people to teach.  We found many english speakers this week! We were greatly blessed by the Lord and had many people to teach this week.  We also went out with the branch president to build our relationship with him, and he showed us some less active homes so now we also have more less actives to teach and had great success with those less actives coming to church this week!  We met one new investigator named Subrahmanyam and we taught him the Restoration and we committed him to be baptized.  He is a 16 year old young man with great faith and is an awesome kid.  We also made great progress with our investigator named Alamanda Ganesh Kumar.  He understands very little english but we attempt to teach him anyways.  After the second lesson we taught this week he told us that he doesn't know english and understands very little, but that every time we come to teach him he understands perfectly all of the english we are speaking.  It was awesome. 

Speaking of english, mine has gotten so crappy haha. Especially because in our area english is very less so basically i have to dumb down everything and cut out like half of the words and stuff and you would probably laugh a little bit hearing me teach in english haha.  Me and my companion are doing awesome and are really enjoying and working hard and finding many blessings from heavenly father.  

Answers:  We have many Telugu Book of Mormons but i am not attempting to learn how to read it because it isn't useful for me and also is way too time consuming.  But i can almost understand full telugu now.  I am doing much better with my understanding.  I can't really speak it well, but my understanding is getting really good.  Best thing this week was the great progress we made in our area.  Worst thing was probably coming to church and finding out last minute that there was no sacrament meeting and instead it was a multi-stake asia conference.  The bad part was that no one ever told us, so our investigators and less actives that came had no clue what it was haha.  May is the hottest month of the year in Rajahmundry, so pray that i don't pass out in the heat! haha.  

Dad:  There isn't much green around here. haha i mean there is some, but it is so hot that not many plants are here.  So on july 10, pres berrett is removing all rajahmundry missionaries and putting them elsewhere for two weeks for safety purposes.  He will probably just send me to hyderabad or bangalore for four days because i leave for the 'ppines on the 14th.  Dang that's a great SC Update!!! Spurs gone? Good.  My bet is Golden State vs. Houston in west, and Washington vs. Chicago in East.  Then Washington-Golden State in Finals.  Brooks out?? Good he sucks to be frank haha.  Donavan is from Florida.  Good coach.  BSU players going hard in the NFL! Good.  that boxing fight was probably a dang good fight...

Well another great week for me! And hopefully another great one for all of us this week!!! I have now been out over 9 months which is weird, so crazy.  Anyways love you all so much!
Love, Elder Ball

PS: Tell Susan late happy b-day, tell payton happy b-day and tell seth happy b-day and also Kasen this week from me!:)