Thursday, July 11, 2013

June 24, 2013 - BOOM

Hey cutie

Ope. That didn't land. I tried, though. That's what counts.

What a week in the MN! Full of earthquakes, near-tornadoes, flash-flooding, and alllll kinds of miracles. Only on a mission! It's nuts.

At the beginning of the week, I was on exchanges over in Shingle Creek. AKA West Africa. Kidding NOT kidding. It's insane. Everyone there is an refugee from Liberia or Kenya. They are SO tight. Ah. I wanted to talk to them all day. Good thing that's what missionaries do...? I just so enjoyed teaching them and hearing about all their different life experiences. With the living conditions and warfare going on over there, these people have really seen the hand of God in their lives. Also, I'm considering putting my hair in corn-rows/and/or dreds after that exchange. Let's have a poll. Call it in, like American Idol or Dancing With the Stars. Keep me posted, team.

While we were out teaching, besides running into a million beautiful children (I will have an African baby, or so help me...), we met a really awesome girl named J. She was 20, and it sounded like she'd had a really rough life. She hinted at a lot of pains, and that she'd only just gotten her GED, been expelled a lot. She invited us in to teach restoration. Let's talk about an African house... gorgeous textiles everywhere, SO much color. I loved it. And the smells in the kitchen. Can't even talk about it. Amazing. As I taught with Sister M, my companion for the day, we both started naturally emphasizing the Atonement and forgiveness, with no idea why. I felt really prompted to ask her certain questions, and she was just really hesitant and shy. We couldn't really see the fruits of the direction, questions, or focus, but the Spirit was definitely there. So we testified and invited her to pray. At first, she wouldn't, but I felt prompted to push it (in a loving way. I DIDN'T SPIRITUALLY SHOVE). So Sister M gave a quick prayer, and then we knelt for J to pray.

She started out pretty hesitantly and then she started apologizing. She apologized to God for not knowing him. And then she started to bawl. I mean full-on wail. It was personal and it was powerful. This went on for, I kid you not, 15 minutes. She pressed her forehead to the floor, and she couldn't speak out loud anymore, but her lips kept moving. You could tell she was repenting. It was crazy. When she finally looked up, she was in AWE. Like struck dumb. Alma the Younger or King Lamoni status. I asked her how she felt, and she just said, "Better." And let out a huge sigh. She was exhausted. She asked if we could come back tomorrow.

When Elder Holland was here, he talked about the verses where angels spoke to people and the earth shook. He said he didn't think there were real earthquakes, maybe there were, but more likely, for that person - learning what they were learning and feeling what they were feeling - there was a personal earthquake. The earth shook where they stood. Or in J's case, the earth shook where she knelt. I smiled the rest of the day. Seeing a personal earthquake was SO cool.

Speaking of natural disasters... Minnesota decided to pull a fast one and we had craaazy storms all week. Being a missionary, we're real out of touch with reality. We ran in to Walgreens and they were like, WHY ARE YOU HERE, IT'S A TORNADO WARNING AND FLASH FLOOD RISK. Whaaaat? That lack of radio or reality. It'll getcha every time. Hahaha. We had to park a block away so our car wouldn't be around trees, cause they were just SLAPPIN' into the road left and right. How we made it home alive and calm, I'll never know. Boom. Miracle. The thunder was so loud and we didn't have power for two days. Which is fine, and gave me flashbacks to Chiners... but also. There are no windows in the basement where we live... And with the spider hunger games are nearby. Nothin' but a sketch-fest. So much hungry fun. (WHY DOES ALL FOOD HAVE TO BE MICROWAVED. STOP.) Anyway. It was fun running around in that to make it to all our different appointments. My shoes went flying and I'm running barefoot in like a foot of water, just splashing along while branches are flying. We were laughing so hard. Maybe Colors of the Wind went through my mind. Living my childhood DREAMS, here, guys. Anyway. I'm safe and sound and all is well. Just some unexpected planning and replanning, and expenses. Things are good, though. :)

My favorite miracle of the week though, is K. Good ole K. Remember when we met him and he was in his death pajamas? And how ever since his priesthood blessing, he's blossomed like a flower? Word. Okay, well, this week, in talking a lot about Word of Wisdom, he said he felt better when he was living it. We talked about prophets and modern-day revelation, and we watched a Mormon Message with him. It was the most spiritual lesson of my mission. Another personal earthquake. The earth SHOOK where he sat, as his old weathered hands took the little DVD player from mine and I watched his face as he saw a living prophet. He just grinned and I cried like a baby. I could NOT stop smiling. We asked him to show his trust in the Lord by getting rid of anything contrary to the Word of Wisdom, so it wouldn't even be a temptation. He hopped right up off the couch (KEEP IN MIND HE COULDN'T WALK AND THIS IS 72 YEARS OF CULTURE-CONDITIONED WORD OF WISDOM PROBLEMS) and led us to the cupboards. He dumped on us all his teas, coffees, and alcohol. We made him promises, as representatives of Christ, that he would have greater strength, understanding, ability to walk and speak without difficult. Really bold stuff. I was a little nervousy to say stuff like that, but it just kept coming out of us. He agreed, thanked us, and sent us on our way into the rain, arms full of the problems he would never have again.

(We dumped it pretty fast, because let's face it... it's kind of counterproductive to wear the tag but carry armfuls of contraband materials. Sooo...Yep.)

Anyway. K came to church on Sunday. It may have been the happiest day of my life. Like honestly. We picked him up, and he looked fresh-to-DEATH in his little suit. Not like before when he was dying. But like. He was looking sharp. He smiled the whole day. Introduced himself to everyone. Asked such good questions during sacrament. Made me laugh so hard in the backseat on our ride to church. Walked completely upright. We had gotten him a walker so he could make it the three hours, and instead, he walked even without his cane. GUYS THIS IS REAL LIFE MIRACLES ARE A THING. I can't even explain the kind of difference. The elders that blessed him that day were in shock. They couldn't even speak. Hahaha. They said he looked like a DJ in his little outfit. The ward adored him. I loved it. Also, his favorite food is Mexican (I know. What? K. Stoooop.) and he's teaching me Vietnamese. I feel like he is our adopted grandpa. We joked about church being long and needing snacks last lesson with him, and he actually packed us snacks and laughed so hard at how much we loved them.

MY GASH, IS IT POSSIBLE TO LOVE ANYONE THIS MUCH?! Our investies are the absolute best people in the world. I thought he'd be exhausted after three hours, but all he said was, "Wuss next?" in his little Asian accent. I love him. When we dropped him off, we told him to get some rest because it was very long. He said, "Not too long. I feel good. It felt good." STOP IT. I am SO happy. His baptism is July 13. :) I love it because people didn't have faith in him. Not even the elders who blessed him. But the blessing wasn't contingent on other peoples' faith in him. It was contingent on K’s faith in God, and he has a LOT. Which is why, no matter how poor his health was, we felt prompted strongly to keep going back. And look at him now!!!! What the heck. Missionary work, you've done it again. Kills me.

I love being a missionary. I love when you feel like you're exactly where you are needed, and like the Lord loves you just as much as you can feel He loves that investigator, because he is trusting you with them, and they are pretty dang important.

I don't know. This is rambly. But.

Update: I am happy.

With all my heart,

Sister Ballif

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