Monday, September 30, 2013

September 30: Santa's COMING TO TOWN

Hey, cuties! I hope you are having the best week. :) The leaves are starting to turn, and my cute ghetto area, which we lovingly call Africa, is looking a lot more like the woods of Lorien. Spring of 1820 status. Lord of the Rings jokes! Restoration jokes! Aw, yeah. I love this place! MOM, I'm a woodsman!

Today is transfer calls, and Sister C and I are together one more transfer! Get to finish her training. Giddy on up! But also,after personal study today, I checked the phone and we had four missed calls from the office, and a text from the assistants chastising us for not answering our phone. My GASH. Honest to goodness, I thought one of you DIED. Called back, sat on hold for ten minutes, and President got on the line and blew my socks off by saying that I'm now a Sister Training Leader for the zone. ...... I was like... So wrong number, or...? Is there another Sister Ballif? Anyway. After feeling reaaaaally humbled and majorly inadequate, I felt so excited to be able to go on exchange with all the different sisters, get to know them and learn with them. Honestly, if there's anything I've learned from training, it's just that if I can be obedient and offer pure and honest love, the rest is the Lord's job. And all these sisters are pretty easy to love. I want with all my heart to help them be happy and successful mish-canaries. :) I know all their light will help me to do the same! They'rreeeeeeGREAT! (Tony the Tiger FIST PUMP.)

SO, moving on! Brother B's baptism. I absolutely loved it. We bought him a tie, since they can't afford one right now, and the bishop bought him a white shirt. He walked in, I gave him a thumbs up, and said, "General authority status." Hahaha. (It's so much funnier if you know his laugh. It's like a machine-gun.) He also called when he was late and tried to freak us by saying us he changed his mind. Really, he forgot something at his house and had to run grab it on the way. Pure sass. I LOVE him. 

His baptism was amazing. It was incredible because he knew what it meant, just exactly what that baptismal covenant requires and promises. And he is so ready and willing to live it. It has been an absolute privilege to meet with him for the past 12 weeks, to learn and to grow together. Honestly, 80 percent of the time, he is teaching me. I have no idea how we got so lucky to be a part of his conversion. His relationship with the Lord and with our Savior Jesus Christ has grown exponentially. Three things about the morning really stick out to me. One, is how well-attended it was. As a part-member, non-active family, they have received so many visits in the last 20 years from various members of the ward, and never once did any of those members see that the visits were helping or meaningful. But at his baptism, as he stood and bore his testimony, he talked about each one. About how they had impressed him, or affected him, even years after the fact. We truly don't realize the impact of following those promptings, even when we don't immediately see or understand that there is a positive effect. 

Two, his whole family came. They are all non-members besides his wife. They started the baptism with arms crossed, all dressed in black. None would smile for pictures, and all felt extremely uncomfortable. Throughout the service, each visibly softened, breaking into huge, uninvited smiles, getting misty-eyed, singing along and sharing hymn books. The Spirit was so strong, and I was so grateful they were able to share that experience as a family. This gospel is all about that family love. Mm. :) My heart was so full. FEELIN' it.

Three, Brother B has incredibly kind eyes. He has always had the light of Christ in his person. But when he came out of the water, and especially as we sat in our lesson Sunday night after he'd received the Holy Ghost, I was taken aback at the visible glow he had. There was a constant, subconscious smile at his lips. His eyes were bright and clear, and so full of understanding and love. AH. I can't really describe it, but tangibly seeing the conversion to the gospel in someone's person over time is seriously the most beautiful thing in the world.

Other great things about this week:

-Finally got to the temple!!!! It is such a tangible lift. So much peace. I love that tiny temple. I loved the new video. Also, I love the gift of personal revelation. And old people in the temple. I never wanna SEE a session without a funny little duffer there to make it even better. Sweethearts.

-The Relief Society Broadcast was amazing! We had a big stake-wide dinner at the church and watched it in the chapel. I love our prophet. But also, our table was all African ladies with do-rags and loud jokes and I felt so much love for the different people and cultures in this gospel and this area. As a side note, one tried to force a second helping of soup on me. She all slaps my thigh. "Le' me tell you a secre' fo' afte' y'mission. A real man LIKE a fuller woma'." Hahahaahahaha. THANKSsss.

-We taught someone named I this week. I love him. He's Russian, and in the army. Answered the door shirtless and flexing. I gave him a stank-face and he grabbed some clothes and quit being creepy. Mama don't play those games.

As we talked... I mean, I literally don't know how else to say it, but I knew things about him. It was so weird. And the knowledge didn't come from anything he said or anything I saw, but it came from the free-flowing love I felt for him. Not in like a, take-me-home-to-Russia-and-make-me-a-babushka kind of love, but like I truly saw him as my brother. As the lesson continued, Sister C had incredible insights, and we were connecting with him and his pains in a crazy way. There are some things that the people we meet can't express, or won't language. But when we have the Holy Ghost and allow it to work, we can see miracles and help people so much more. I'm so grateful for that.

It reminds me of the testimony a woman from Zambia bore on Sunday. She talked about how in Africa, people sing while they work. She said the African people do this so that when they work, they're not just working with their body, but with their Spirit. She then related it to the gospel. How when we go about God's work, we shouldn't just go through the motions to fulfill our callings, to do it just because it's the right thing to do. We should "sing" while we work. 

We should engage our Spirits, we should bring an open heart and a loving soul, to connect with others. I know that to be happy and to truly be an instrument for God, that's exactly what we have to do. Wherever we are. Knocking doors, teaching lessons, in every day occupations, God needs us to "sing." To be present with our Spirits and to give our whole souls. That is when the miracles happen. :) I love this gospel and I'm so grateful for my mission, and for another transfer with my cutie-pants companion.

This time means everything to me, and so do all of you! Go crunch some leaves, make some days, and getouuuuuuuuuttttTTTAAAheeeeeeeeeere. 

I love you!

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