Monday, October 28, 2013

My conversion story -- by Ryan Ballif

My full conversion didn't happen until I actually came on my mission. I was raised in a Mormon family and my parents were active as well and are very faithful. I lived off my parents testimony for most of my life. I did what my parents told me to do and always went to church, but I was just going through the motions. 

When I got around the age of serving a mission my testimony started to get smaller and smaller to the point where I questioned whether or not I believed in the existence of a god. I started my mission papers because that's what you do in Utah. I turned in my papers and was called to the Nebraska Omaha Mission about a month later. 

During this time I still did not have a testimony of Jesus Christ or Heavenly Father. I still was just doing what people wanted me to do because of the social pressure. About 2 months before my date to go to the MTC was my lowest point where I proclaimed myself atheist. But I still went along with everything. Things started to improve with the help of my parents because I finally told them of my struggles and concerns. 

My testimony was just big enough to get me out of the car at the MTC. 

During the MTC my testimony continued to grow but I still had questions and concerns. Out in the mission field I still had questions and concerns but obviously I knew I needed to gain a testimony fast. This work can't be done without one. I had never read the Book of Mormon my entire life on my own but I decided now was the time. I started it in the MTC and finished it at about 5 months out. That strengthened my testimony greatly but I never got an overpowering, overwhelming experience. 

It wasn't until one night here where I started to have doubts again. I was thinking to myself "What am I doing?" "Am I just wasting my time?" I decided I needed to go to my Heavenly Father in prayer. I told Him I needed to know. I can't keep going on like this. Tell me right now if what I'm doing is not a waste of my time and if this work is true... I got my answer.

I know this work is true. I know this is Christ's restored Church, here on the earth again. Joseph Smith saw what he said he saw. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God. This Church is true. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Tom Perry, Scipio, and Chan doing well.

Hey Family!

I hope everyone has had a great week. My week here in Bellevue was pretty good. And Mom, I don't know why you're surprised I'm still in Bellevue. I'll probably be here until February haha. 

Well anyways are week was really slow until Saturday and Sunday. We were able to see Chan and we talked to him a bit about baptism and what it means and the commitment he'd be making and I really hope he understood. I have a feeling he's smarter than he seems but I have no clue because of his poor English. 

And no we did not get to go to the Trail Center this week. We are seeing Eric tonight but we're setting up something for the TC for a later time. And Dan had to cancel our appointment for the Trail Center. No clue as to why, but whatever we'll catch him this week. 

We didn't here from the Perry's all week this week and we just decided to stop by on Saturday night and they let us right in. The Perry's are a super cool family. There will be some hurdles but we can get through them. They actually went and saw the Book of Mormon play and they said it was hilarious and I'm sure I'd agree if I could go see it. It didn't scare them away or anything they just had a few questions which we answered. They then invited us to have dinner with them which was great. It was spaghetti and meatballs and it was pretty good. And I don't know how you can make bad spaghetti but I've come across it on my mission haha. 

They then wanted to play Settlers of Catan with us. A pretty fun board game actually. I won because I'm so awesome of course ;) But really I played it a lot in Grand Island so I'm not too bad at it. 

We're going to try to set up some basketball to play with Tom. He can't on Monday's so we've been trying to set up for other days but we've been unsuccessful thus far. 

We also had the chance to see Scipio briefly. He's doing good. He actually works for Google and from what he says they sound like a great company to work for. And we got him the Gospel Library app on his phone. He was really impressed by it and hopefully it makes it easier to start reading. He's a super nice guy and we'll be seeing him again, tomorrow

Oh and our investigator Annie that dropped off the face of the earth, we just made contact with her again and we are seeing her tonight. Hopefully that goes well. Last time we talked to her, she was in Alma and that was over a month ago, so she could be done, if she's been reading since we lost contact. 

I guess we'll see tonight. Well I need to get going. Going to play some basketball! 

And that's awesome about BYU. I miss watching the games, but they'll still be there when I get back. And as far as reading goes I kind of just jump around. I've been looking around in D&C lately though. 

You are all always in my prayers! Have a great and safe week everyone! 

And happy birthday 6 days ago, Mom! I love you and I love you all!

Elder Ballif

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pictures - October 21, 2013



Ryan, Elder Lambert, Elder French, and Elder Cena

Ryan and Elder Quayle

Ryan and Elder Call

Transfers pass, still in Bellevue -- for at least one more transfer ;)

Hey Family!

I hope everyone has had a wonderful week. My week was pretty good. Here was pretty good. But it was really long. It was transfers and transfer week is always the longest week of the transfer. As you probably guessed I'm still in Bellevue with Elder Belnap. One more transfer and he'll be going home. I'm sure I'll be at that point before I know it. 

Well I suppose I'll talk about some of the people we talked to this week. We saw the Perry family on Monday, so a week ago now. We brought Brother Tyrrell with us and I thought the lesson went pretty well. They have a ton of questions and some were difficult to answer. But it helped a lot that Brother Tyrrell was there. Tom is struggling with his faith overall and Sylvia (the wife) struggles with the idea of organized religion and so called "male superiority" in religion. But we are planning on taking them to the trail center this week so that should be a good experience for them. 

Speaking of the trail center, we're going to it with Dan George this week on Friday. That will be great. The trail center is a really good place to feel the Spirit and not to mention it's right across the street from the temple. 

Now Chan I don't know. I mean it's great and all he's set for baptism, but I don't know if you guys really understand Sudanese people. They will say yes to almost everything. They're "too" nice. They just go with everything. And I'm not entirely sure he really understands the commitment he will be making. And I don't want to bring him under greater condemnation if he's not aware of what he's doing. But the baptismal service is still a month away, hopefully we can clarify some things. 

Like we watched the Joseph Smith movie and he noticed that the temple doesn't have a cross or anything to his understanding a cross means you're Christian. We already talked to him about that specific thing but it sounded like he completely forgot about it or didn't understand when we did. 

And we got to see Eric last night. He brought up some concerns he had. Like one was how you have to be a member to go in the temple. His idea of it was, there are righteous people that aren't members of the Church. We helped him understand a bit better and hopefully we'll get to clarify even more next time we see him. We had to end a little early because it was getting dark and cold outside but hopefully next time we'll answer some more of his questions. He still needs to read the Book of Mormon and I feel that will help. 

And yesterday we got a new investigator as well. We had some time that we didn't know what to do with it and a couple of months ago I was looking through one of the progress records in the area books and there was this guy named Scipio who didn't have any teaching records. 

Anyways a few months ago we knocked on his door and he said he wasn't interested. And I just randomly thought (well the Spirit made me think, I'm sure) we should go knock on his door. He let us right in and we taught the restoration and he accepted the invitation to be baptized, so yeah that was pretty cool. 

Well anyways I think I'll leave off with that. We're going to play some basketball soon so that should be fun.

 That's great about BYU. I can't wait to be back for Taysom Hills' senior season. Well anyways I love you guys! And that's great Austin got a girlfriend. Have a great and safe week everyone! 

Oh and Josh's talk worked. It was great! LOVE YOU ALL!

Elder Ballif

Monday, October 14, 2013

Set Baptismal Dates for Tom Perry and Chan -- not L. Tom Perry :)

Hey Family!
My week was pretty good. It wasn't the greatest number wise but we did get some baptismal sets. I'll get into those later. 

Well Dad, that's good you're switching over to gmail. Gmail is much nicer in my opinion. It's actually what my email goes through. That is very unfortunate that your work is being affected from the shutdown. As you would imagine I hear a lot about it seeing how I'm in a military ward. Well anyway I'll pray for you and hopefully the situation will improve. 

We saw Chan this week and set him for baptism for the 16th of November. I hope he can make it but who knows. We want to make sure he understands the commitment he's making which I think will be hard to get the idea across because of the language barrier. But he did come to church again. That's 4 weeks in a row. It's been a nice surprise. 

And I don't know if I have mentioned Eric before but he is some guy we met walking down the street and he asked us what we were doing and we told him we were missionaries and gave him a Book of Mormon. Well anyways that was a few weeks ago and we were able to see him this week and taught him the restoration. It went really well. That was on Saturday and he came to church yesterday. And yesterday was fast and testimony and he actually got up and bore his testimony which was pretty cool haha. He said we was "saved" by Jesus a few years ago, so yeah we need to talk to about how it's not that easy haha. 

And the meeting with the Perry's went really well. Well it was mostly just with Tom but we met his family and stuff and they're super nice. We taught him the restoration as well and he said he's been struggling with his faith for a while. He was raised baptist I think but yeah he doesn't have a believe in God or Jesus Christ anymore. But the lesson went well. He is set for baptism on the 23rd of November. He's not very confident in it but he seems to have the desire to believe like talked about in Alma 32. I'm sure he can make it. We are also seeing him tonight with Brother Tyrrell which should be great. 

And we're playing basketball very soon which I am excited for haha. I love playing basketball. That's great about BYU and great for Utah. We're going up in the world. And I told you Adam Hine would be good ;) I heard Jazz preseason basketball started. What's going on with that? 

Well anyways I love you all! The Church is true! 

Have a wonderful week everyone!
Elder Ballif

Monday, October 7, 2013

Great Conference! and Things Going Well

Hey Family!
I hope everyone had a great general conference weekend--I sure did. 10 hours of conference. It was pretty fun. I had a good time and yes I was at the church for each session.  As far as our investigators, we got Robert to come for an hour of the very first session. And Chan came for the Sunday morning session. It went well. 

Our week wasn't bad at all even with the 2 days of just conference for us--we had 13 lessons and got some new investigators. Robert is doing good but is still having a hard time with balancing his stuff as far as work, school and gospel stuff. We'll continue to work with him and then hopefully things will pick up with him. 

So anyways Chan is doing good as well. He has made it to church 3 weeks in a row now which is impressive to me because he's been taught for a year now and these were his first 3 times. 

We also were referred to a family by some members who are friends with them. We got to teach the husband on the doorstep and we gave him a BoM and set up a return appointment for Thursday with his whole family. Hopefully that works out. He had a ton of questions haha. The Perry's is their name. 

And we also got some some new potential investigators because a new person just moved into the ward and she has her grandson in law and grand daughter living there who are not members and they're planning on having us over for dinner sometime this week so that will be good.  We also got some referrals from the Sisters that seem pretty promising as well. 

Well I suppose I'll talk about conference now. I enjoyed it quite a bit. My top 5 talks were Eduard Dube's (you know why ;)), Holland's, Oaks', Uchtodorf's, and Monson's. I enjoyed each session but I think the Sunday morning session was my favorite. 

Just 2 more conferences to go until I'll be watching it with you guys again. That's pretty weird. Anyways I don't have much more time but I hope everyone is doing well. Things are going good here in Bellevue. It's almost transfer week again. That's pretty weird. Every 6 weeks. I'm almost 9 months out. Weird. Time goes by fast and slow at the same time on a mission. It's really weird. In the moment it feels like forever but when you look back, it's not. 

We're going to play basketball again today. Have a great and safe week everyone. 

Happy birthday in 4 days, Kim. 

I love you all! 

And that's great about BYU. Too bad they could not beat those yewtes. ;)
Elder Ballif