I hardly know where to start! Serving a mission has filled my life with amazing experiences!
First off, I have been training a sweet southern belle from Louisiana! Sister Stevens had a rough start due to anxiety and homesickness. The first week she cried several times each day! I spent a lot of time rubbing her back and quoting every uplifting message that came to my mind. I have to admit I was worried that she was going to have trouble keeping up with our busy teaching schedule. Sister Stevens became the main focus of my daily prayers! I wanted her to feel better and find joy in this great work! Having her share her story of deciding to serve helped her remember the feelings that brought her here! Though she felt weepy and nervous it did not stop wonderful things from happening. On our third day as companions, we set a baptismal date with Jordin! What a way for a brand new missionary to start her Mission!
After we left Jordin’s home, I instinctively threw out a couple of minor dance moves. When I looked over I caught Sister Stevens doing the same thing, we laughed!
As missionaries we get to teach people about our loving Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ! We get to tell them that they are so loved and part of a perfect plan designed to bring them back to live with HIM someday!
Teaching Jordin and watching her make important changes in her life has brought me so much joy! She has transformed before our very eyes. She gave up drinking, smoking, drugs and other very harmful lifestyle choices. She added daily prayer, scripture study and church attendance! Each week the light in her eyes grows brighter and brighter! I love her!
Jordin was baptized on September 21st and I will never forget the feelings I had as I watched her on her special day!
Sister Stevens only cries occasionally now. Even though it is hard for me to understand why she is prone to spontaneous tearful breakdowns, I have to say she is incredible in every other way! She is very funny, intelligent and has a deep and meaningful testimony of the truthfulness of The Gospel and she knows how to share it! We are becoming the very best of friends and I love teaching with her!!!
A little over a week ago a General Authority came to tour our mission. His name is Elder Brian K. Taylor. He spoke at the April 2018 General Conference. His talk was entitled “Am I a child of God?” If you have the chance, look it up and read it! You’ll be glad you did!
Anyway, he spoke to all of us missionaries about finding people and being bold and not afraid. It was amazinggg!
Then that night my Mission President called and asked to speak to me alone. He asked me to come to the Temple early the next morning so that I could have a private interview with Elder Taylor! I have no idea as to why I was selected for this honor but I am very thankful. It was a great experience! Elder Taylor and I talked for awhile. He asked me all about how my missionary service was going and then he asked,”Sister Ballas, if you could ask a General Authority any question, what would it be?” My head instantly flooded with questions about Kolob and deep doctrine but instead I asked, “ What is it like to be friends with the Prophet?”
A huge smile broke out across Elder Taylor’s face and he spent the rest of our time together telling me several stories about how fun it is to spend time with President Nelson! He also told me that President Nelson loves me and that he would tell me so if he were here! He loves all of us!
The next morning at Stake Conference, Elder Taylor got up and spoke about Missionary work and then asked me to come up to the podium with my Companion! I had no idea what was going on! He surprised us by asking Sister Stevens to bare her testimony about Joseph Smith and then for me to bare my testimony about The Book of Mormon! I poured my heart out about the importance of that sacred book! I explained what it is and why we need it to grow closer to Jesus Christ! While I was talking, I felt inspired to share a quote from Elder Jeffery R Holland about missionary work and the Atonement of Our Savior, so I did!
After I finished speaking, Elder Taylor stepped up to the microphone and asked me and Sister Stevens to remain standing next to him. He then asked the entire Stake, “Who do you wish was sitting next to you right now that isn’t here today? I want you to text the name and number of that person to these Sister missionaries.” He had me state my phone number.....
We received 334 referrals! That is a lot of friends and loved ones!!! I have Never been busier in my LIFE!!! Whew! We have been working so hard, my brain hurts, but we won’t stop!
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone!
I promise to serve with ALL my heart, might, mind and strength! I am so very thankful for our Savior Jesus Christ and His restored Gospel!
I love all of you! Thank you for your emails, thoughts and prayers! Thank you for helping me feel so supported while I serve! Please take care of yourselves and always, ALWAYS remember who you really are, sons and daughters of a Heavenly King! :)
Sister Arwen Ballas
p.s. don’t forget, if you want to email me, you have to use my direct missionary email address: firstname.lastname@example.org