Goodbye Florida

 Traveling home companions

Traveling home companions

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week 17 Crestview Florida-Last week in the mission field

Dear Family,
Well this will be my final letter of my mission, and I can say that it
has been an incredible two years. The best two years of my life... so
far. I plan on making each year of my life better than the last. but
without the things I have learned and experienced on my mission I
would not have the knowledge, the skills, and the testimony to do
that. I am really going to miss being a missionary. and the time I
have had to serve will always hold a place of reverence in my mind.
these last few weeks have been very surreal knowing that my mission
would be ending and I would be coming home. and I have had a lot of
bittersweet feelings about it all. I am excited to be coming home to
be with the family again, and this time it will really feel like im
coming home. although, I know its cliché, but my mission and the
people I have met have really become my second home and family as
well, and its going to be hard to leave it all behind. but I guess
that's what facebook is for, right?
My mission experience has been amazing! and what I may try to write
will never do the past two years justice. as I look back I am grateful
for what my mission has been and wouldn't trade it for anything. I
know that my mission has been for me and that I was called to the
Florida Tallahassee Mission for a reason. I have been able to see a
little of what that was as I have been blessed to teach some of God's
amazing children and serve with others. but I know that I will never
truly know every reason why I have been here, or served in certain
areas, or will I fully understand the impact or the differences that I
may have made. but what I do understand is the impact and change my
mission has had on me. my mission has changed my life in so many ways.
and I feel that my mission will become a foundation that I can built
my life on. I have learned a lot from my mission, my areas and the
people I have served, the companions ive had, and from the gospel and
the spirit. I have learned to Love. I have learned what love is and
how important it is. I have felt the love that Heavenly Father and
Jesus Christ have for me, and I have felt that love for others. I love
the people of the South and the people I have been blessed to serve,
and I love the companions I have had. and I have come to love and
appreciate our family even more. the experiences I have had have
helped to develop my love of god and my fellow man. but ive also had
to learn a great deal of patience and humility. and I have had to turn
to the Lord in prayer asking for charity many times. I have learned
knowledge. there are many life lessons that I can take away from my
mission to make my life what the lord would want it to be. I have
learned the importance of obedience, and that if I turn my will to the
lord he will bless me more than I could imagine. learning things like
teaching and listening skills, how to work with people, social skills,
how to plan, how to work hard, how to be a leader, how to follow, the
doctrines of the Church, and the list goes on and on, have all helped
me grow.
But if there was one thing that I would say has come from my mission,
and changed my life the most, and has been the greatest success it
would be the testimony of the gospel I have received. before my
mission I would not say that I was converted, I had never read the
book of Mormon, nor had I ever 'really' prayed. all I could say I had
done before my mission was believed. believed enough to want a
testimony, believed enough to go on a mission. but after leaving home,
and the safety of Utah, and having to go out to try to get people to
believe as well (most of which would not listen, or they were against
the church) and facing so much opposition to my 'beliefs', it caused
me to search out what I really believed. I read the book of Mormon and
I read it again and again, always praying for answers or to know if
its true. and id keep going, and teaching, and learning, and in all
that id feel the spirit here and there. never all at once but
gradually until I can now say that I know the Book of Mormon is true.
I would not be honest if I said it weren't because I know deep in my
soul that it is the word of god. it has blessed my life and I feel the
spirit as I read it. and from it I know that the book of Mormon is
true. another thing that I have come to know it that God is real, that
he knows and loves me, and He loves all of us. I know that Christ
lives and is my Savior and I know that the through him and the plan of
salvation we can all live with them again, as a family. I know that
our family can be together forever. these last couple months and the
death of Tiffani have strengthened my testimony of this. the spirit
that I felt after the news of her passing is indescribable, and I knew
at that moment stronger than ever before that God lives and loves us
and that Tiffani will be with us again one day. since I came back out
I have had to turn to the lord more than ever before, and it has not
been easy to keep going, and to serve with the same zeal as before,
but I have felt the lords strength and Tiffani's spirit lifting me up
and bringing peace. and I am grateful for the testimony I have of the
gospel. I know its true!
that's all I have time for, I will see yall on Thursday! I love you all!
Elder Balling

Week 16-Crestview Florida – one week before departure

Dear Family,
I hope yall have had a great week and that everyone is doing alright!
just so yall know, they had told us that we would have our P-Day last
Saturday because of the half-mission conference we had on Monday, but
they latter changed it to today, so sorry about that. I also want to
thank you Mom and Dad for all the help with my resume and job
application. I could not have done that without you, and yall made me
look really good, haha. I hope I can live up to the expectation
they'll have. I feel that this would be a great job and I think it
could really help set myself up for the future. and thanks for the
help recently with getting everything squared away for this interview,
Ill do all I can to make it good. I hope everyone is enjoying School
and work and that Dad can recover quickly from your knee surgery. I
look forward to seeing yall soon! its a little surreal that its just a
week away and that 2 years has gone by so quick. haha itll be an
adjustment and ill probably be an awkward returned missionary for a
while when I get home. itll be sad to see it end.
I think next week I will sit down and write some of my thoughts, and
feelings about my mission and some of the lessons that I have learned
while serving. there is just so much that has come from my mission
that Ill need to take this week to gather my thoughts. right now all I
can think is how extremely grateful I am for the time I have had to
serve the lord and the experience I have had. I have come to see how
much this mission has done for me and how much I have learned and how
much I have changed. im grateful for the people I have met and the
experiences that I have had. and I am grateful for the hard times and
the struggles that have pushed me to be better and to grow. and im
grateful for the love that I have experienced, both the love that I
have felt from heavenly father and the love that I have felt towards
others. and I am very grateful for the testimony of the church and of
our savior Jesus Christ that I have gained as I have served and
studied and taught this gospel. I am forever grateful for the Savior
and a loving Father in Heaven who has blessed my life. and I am
grateful for our family and the blessing that all yall are in my life.
I love you all.
im running out of time again, because I always seem to put this letter
off too long. but this week has been great! we had a lot of success
with the work and had some great lessons with Aaron, Alex, and Jessica
( Peytons mom). and a lot of potential building up. we also had a
great day yesterday with the half mission conference with Elder
Neilson and Elder Stanfill, who personally interviewed me. that was
cool. and this week should be great and a great final week to my
mission. that's all, sorry. got to go
Love yall,
Elder Balling

Week 15– Crestview Florida

Dear Family,
I hope everyone has had a great week and is doing well back home! it
sounds like things have been pretty busy this last week, and that yall
have had some fun vacations and stuff. and I hope everyone has a great
next week as well. I have had a pretty good week here in Florida,
although it was a little slow as far as the work goes. but it was all
good, and we are excited for this next week and really working hard.
things are going pretty good here in Crestview, and we are hopeful
that the work will pick up this next week. again its been pretty slow,
but that is in part because of all the service we have done this week
and also Elder Lindow and I Have been a little under the weather and
just exhausted this week. as far as the week goes not much happened.
we weren't able to meet with any of our investigators, but we did
teach a new girl named Kierra. we finally finished the service for
donna by pouring the cement to her sidewalk. we had an exchange with
the zone leaders and I got to go down to Destin which was super cool.
we went for a run on the beach in the morning which was beautiful. we
had interviews with President Smith after district meeting on Tuesday
which was really good. and that's just about it this week... sorry I
kinda procrastinated writing this until I only had a few minutes
left... so that's all I have time to write. one quick thing though. we
will be having two 70's come to the mission next week so our P-day has
been moved to this Saturday. I will email more then. Thanks yall! I
love you and look forward to seeing yall soon.
Love,
Elder Balling

Week 14 – Crestview Florida

Dear Family,
haha thanks again for keeping a count down of how many days I have
left. but don't worry, Im not trunky... at least I don't feel trunky.
I love missionary work too much to want to come home that badly. I am
excited to be home soon, but im also excited to do the lords work each
day. its scary how fast these last 3 weeks will go by! itll be over
before I know it, and ill be back home probably wishing that I was
still on my mission. it still seems surreal to think that ill be home
that soon and that 2 years has really gone by. but I can say that I
have loved my misson as a whole and it has really been the best 2
years of my life so far. but I cant say that It has all been easy or
even close to what I had expected. it has also been the hardest 2
years of my life. ive had hard times, and struggles, difficult
companions, and trying areas. and trials that have tested my faith and
tried my testimony. I haven't seen as much success throughout my
mission as I had hoped or expected, but the success I have seen has
brought me greater joy then I have experienced ever before and I am so
grateful for the opportunity to serve, the people ive met and taught
and the experiences ive had. although I haven't seen many converts on
my mission, I count the greatest success and convert as myself. I can
now say with all the surety of my soul that I know that Christ is my
Savior, that the Church is true and that the Book of Mormon is true.
so has my mission been a success? Yes. did I do all I could to serve
with all my heart? not always, but I have learned many lessons, and my
mission has changed me, and I now have a strong desire to serve the
lord with all my heart throughout my life. I don't know if I will have
any crazy or miraculous stories to share from my mission, and I don't
know if I could share exactly what my mission has done for me or what
it was like, but I know that my mission has been for me and I wouldn't
have it any other way. although it may have took a severe tragedy and
incredible grief with the loss of Tiffani, and going through the
hardest time of my mission and life, perhaps the greatest thing I have
gained from my mission is a love and appreciation for our Savior and
redeemer, Jesus Christ and the great plan of happiness that our Father
in Heaven has provided for us. I know that they love us, and I know
that through Jesus Christ and his gospel we can return to live with
them for eternity. I know that we will see Tiffani again, and that we
will all be together forever. It has been a hard experience, and I
think it will continue to be hard, but perhaps what Heavenly Father
would have us gain from this is a deep testimony of the Plan of
Salvation so that we can return to him as an eternal family. I have
felt the spirit at and since Tiff's death, and it continues to teach
me about Gods love, and the truth of the Gospel. I am grateful for all
this, and again I love my mission.
Real quick, this week has been pretty good. not too much exciting has
happened, just a lot of working to find people to teach and doing some
service for Donna. we did teach Aaron Waggy again which was good, but
we haven't seen much change in his progression. he is reading the book
of Mormon a lot, he's now into Mosiah so that's cool. we also had a
lesson with Alex Rodriguez which was good, its been like 3 weeks or
more since we've seen him so it had been a while. he's still waiting
on an answer to the book of Mormon so we're not exactly sure what to
do to help him. Elder Lindow and I are working well together and its a
lot of fun. that's about all there is to mention. we are hoping that
this next week will be little bit busier and that we can get a little
more work going in the area. but we continue to work hard.
I hope yall have a great week and have a fun vacation! I look forward
to seeing yall soon! yes mom it would probably be good to go to the
dentist when I get back, I have yet to do that. and Dad that job
sounds like it would work out great, so im in. also about the vacation
the weekend I get home, I would like to go and Im really good with
whatever. I don't have any plans of my own. thanks for the letter
Malcolm! Thants all, I wish yall the best!
Love,
Elder Balling

Week 13 Crestview Florida

Dear Family,

Thank you for the reminders that I only have one months left! I have a
feeling that this last month will go by extremely fast and ill be home
before I know it. I am excited to come home and see yall again, I have
missed yall more than ever this past month and it will be good to be
with the family again. but because of the short time I have left to
serve the lord, it has caused a stronger drive to work harder, and to
make the most of the last leg of my mission, and really make it
something I will remember throughout the rest of my life.
and with transfers a week ago and now serving with Elder Lindow I
really feel that i can reach those goals and finish strong. a little
about Elder Lindow... he's 21, from Highland Utah, been out on his
mission for a year and a half, and super funny. we have been getting
along really well and it should be a great transfer. we sat down and
planned out a bunch of goals and how we are going to reach them, and
we feel confident in what we can do this transfer. this week has been
pretty crazy though and not exactly as we had planned. we didn't quite
reach our goals, and didn't get as much time to proselyte and teach as
we had hoped. and we figured it was mostly because of all the service
we ended up doing. we helped Miss Donna with her yard both Wednesday
and Friday and we helped the Laughlin's move, and Sister Harris, and
we also helped brother Boyd tear down an old shed in his yard. and we
were busy with other things like a lot of travel and Dinners that took
up our time. we did have a few great lessons and cool things happed
through out the week. Tuesday we taught Aaron Waggy, and Andrew
Linares came along. it was a great lesson where we taught the Gospel
of Jesus Christ and answered a few questions he had. he is progressing
well, still not towards baptism but he's keeping commitments we give.
we also taught a new investigator named Don and saw a few other people
throughout the week, and met some cool people with the time we were
able to contact with. but that's about all. i don't have much time
left so ill have to stop here. sorry for the short letters lately! i
wish yall a great week! and ill see you soon.
Love,
Elder Ballingsistersbaptismcrestview