Thursday, September 16, 2010

M. Russell Ballard Fires Up the Brussels Belgium/Netherlands Missionaries

Elder Ballard with  Netherlands Missionaries (courtesy Jillian Fritz
Last week on Tuesday, 9 September 2010 and 10 September 2010 Elder M. Russell Ballard accompanied by his wife Barbara were in Brussels, Belgium for church meetings.  Elder Ballard addressed the Belgium Brussels/Netherlands missionaries on both days.  On the  first day the Lille zone of missionaries from France Paris Mission, who border Belgium and the Brussels Zone from the Belgium Brussels/Netherlands Mission came on Tuesday. The next day the rest of the missionaries from the Belgium Brussels/Netherlands Mission went to be instructed.

The missionaries also got to hear a few other general authorities including:  Elder Gerard Causse who is the second French General Authority, Elder Ronald A. Rasband who is in the Presidency of the First Council of the Seventy, as well as Bishop Richard C. Edgely of the Presiding Bishopric, and Elder Jose Teixeira of the Seventy. Several of the brethren's wives accompanied them.

Sister Abbey Carson was really excited to meet with the general authorities.  She wrote the day before the meeting her feelings about their coming:
Tomorrow should be good as well. Elder Ballard, Elder Rasband, and Elder Caussé are coming to speak to us missionaries. And man oh man am I ready to get some answers. I feel kind of soul-hungry.
Elder Ahrets with fellow missionaries on the way to Brussels to hear Elder Ballard
 On Tuesday, 7 September 2010 Sister Natalie Ahrets and her husband, a senior couple missionary, who are serving as  Outreach Center directors went  to hear the church leaders with their fellow missionaries.  The Lille, France and Brussels zone missionaries traveled by train to Brussels:
Elder Causse made an interesting statement. He said that the membership in the church in Europe has doubled in 25 years as of last year. He also said that the Lord is preparing people to receive the gospel. That is why our mission is having such great success. We will have over 300 baptisms this year.
Elder Ballard was awesome. He is old now, but when he started speaking his voice was firm and yet gentle. He gave a feeling a peace and calmness. His words were powerful and you could really feel the spirit as he was speaking. He began by saying that without Christ we would have no message. We are led by a living Christ who wants us to have all of the blessings. He spoke about how Adam had the gospel but eventually his children lost it because they didn't want to live by the commandments. He said that God will not interfere with people's free agency. He will not stop us from having free agency. He also spoke about how Lucifer is raging in the hearts of many. Elder Ballard concluded by saying that we have a glorious, precious message. We have the gift of eternity to share with people.
After the meeting was over, all of the missionaries got to walk up to the stand one by one and shake hands and talk to each these great men and their spouses. It was such a spiritual high to be in their presence.
Sister Abbey Carson serving one of the two zones related her impressions of the same missionary meeting with the brethren:
well it was a good week. Tuesday Elders Ballard, Rasband, and Caussé came to speak to us missionaries. Elder Ballard urged us to become master teachers, to be so prepared that we feel comfortable teaching any of the missionary lessons on the spot. It was interesting too how he talked about all the research they've done in the missionary department and how they have determined that the missionary is the most important factor in conversion. It has changed the way I feel about my personal preparation every morning. we can become powerful missionaries as we 1) search the scriptures diligently and 2) fast and pray mightily.
Elder Caussé shared a story illustrating his faith that missionaries can baptize anywhere. On a visit with some missionaries in Florence, two bold elders stole him away for 5 minutes of his time. The elders shared a brief spiritual thought with him and then, expressing a need for his help, asked Elder Caussé if he would pray with them for a street where they could find someone to be baptized. Elder Caussé agreed, but added that the Lord is much more mindful of people than streets, so he suggested that instead they pray for someone, and then they would be able to figure out where to find him. After their prayer they felt that there was a student, not Italian. He wouldn't be too busy with exams and so he would let the elders. 'where do we go to find students' the elders asked. 'i suggest you ask the members' Elder Caussé replied. So the members directed them to a street in Florence where all the students lived. together the elders offered a prayer and then picked a door. They knocked and a Brazilian student answered. and let them right in. And Elder Caussé just got word that that young student has a baptismal date.

It really was neat to be with an apostle of the Lord and two 70s. To learn from them, but also to see that they are normal people. They understand what missionary work is really like-that we face rejection and off-the-wall questions from our amis (investigators). They joke around.

Elder Ballard told us that an apostle is nothing more than a master teacher.
On Wednesday, 8 September 2010 Elder Justin Christensen serving in Den Hag,Netherlands said:
This past week we got up really early on Wednesday to catch a bus in Rotterdam to go to Brussels.  We crammed about 40 missionaries in the same bus.  I felt like I was on a water polo trip again. :)  But, we all went down there and had a conference with Elder M. Russell Ballard.  Elder Rasaband and Elder Causse were also there.  It went really well.  It was a good conference.  It took forever though.  The conference ended at 1:00 and we got home at 7:00.  A nice tiring day.

 Zuster Jillian Fritz, who is serving in Antwerp testified:
We had powerful men and women called of God among us this week. Elder M. Russell Ballard and his wife, Elder Rasband, Elder Caussé and his wife, Bishop Edgely and his wife, Elder Teixeira and his wife all came to our mission to address us and what on earth can you say after such experiences? Nothing quite suffices. I shall simply say that I know that the priesthood power and authority of God has been restored to the earth through the ministering of angels to our beloved prophet, Joseph Smith. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the power of God unto salvation and the Book of Mormon will bear the truth of that unto us through the power of the Holy Ghost. That is my message and that is why I am here in Belgium and the Netherlands.
The missionaries are very fortunate to attend meetings in person with the General Authorities. It is getting fewer and fewer that members meet with the authorities of the church in person.  Plus Elder Ballard has been limiting his shaking of so many hands which I see he did.   It is one of the few times in life in which the missionaries will have such opportunities.  I haven't seen an apostle in a few years as they are not limiting their travel to the stakes.  The brethren have a love for the missionaries and are personally involved in the work.  For an old guy Elder Ballard still has a spark for missionary work and is willing to personally interact with them.

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