Thursday, May 30, 2013

30 May 2013 - Preparing to Leave

Hey Dad!

It was really good to hear from you. I am glad that you enjoyed the little "skunkers" you and more are such incredible troopers. Thank you for the update... it was really hard to read, but I am grateful I can know about things that happen at home. I would feel terrible not being able to contribute my prayers on all of your behalf's. I will do my best to stay focused. I honestly am not surprised something happened because for the past two weeks mother has been on my mind constantly. Just what an incredible example, and spiritual giant she is and everyone here that has a relationship with me knows that I love my parents so incredibly much. I talk about you both all the time, but thank you for your example of faith. You both mean the world to me. Please recover quickly. Thank you Dad for being a worthy priesthood holder. Thank you so much.

OK.. I will try to share a little bit about this week, it will be short though because a few of my other siblings finally emailed me so I would like to talk to them a little bit as well. I leave SLC airport at 11:13. I arrive in San Fransico at 12:17 and get on a plane for Tokyo at 1;05. I arrive at Tokyo at 440 PM the following day.  Then leave Tokyo at 6:25PM. Arrive in Manila Philippines at 10:00PM and I believe we stay there for a night before taking a small plane to Tacloban. I would like to call and speak with my family sooo... if anyone could reply to this email with when would be best to call and what number to call at I would appreciate it.

This week was not too eventful. Less teaching than normal. I am learning how to just do what I can with what I have. My companion and I are very different, but in many ways we compliment each other. I appreciate the constant focus on the Savior that is here in the MTC. I am reminded that no matter anyone's decisions and actions, I can only control myself and I am the only one who allows others to affect me. It is my choice. I am learning to love even when I lack a desire. I have realized a number of the things in my patriarchal blessing are coming to pass now and I am sure they will continue to, but I am so grateful for my patriarchal blessing. I don't know why or how, but I feel like I have this ability to really understand the hearts of the people I serve. It is not always for my investigators, but for the girls in my district. I just feel like I can feel what they are feeling and its such a blessing because I feel the spirit guiding me in how to comfort, but man... its kind of scary. I am also learning and practicing the principle of communication. I have always said that I am a confrontational person and its been in a negative light. But I have learned that Jesus Christ is confrontational, powerful and humble. I really appreciate this because as i have tried to humble myself and apologize even when I dont feel it is deserved, or open my mouth to care for others, even when I am scared and uncomfortable... the spirit increases in my life. I feel like I can move mountains and do whatever is asked of me.

I have had multiple experiences this week where I have started my study with a question and have found the direct answer during my study and I know that I was directed by the spirit (as is my Mother when she gives me advice for what to study).

I was so scared about going to the Philippines last week... all I could think about was worms and more worms and everything having worms. As I have realized that my Sisters in my district look to me in everything I have been able to change my attitude. This is where the Lord wants me and worms or not, psycho monkeys, no toilets, no sanitation, bugs and rats and bugs or NOT... I am excited to go where he wants me to Go and be led by the spirit. I love this gospel and I love missionary work! I am so grateful for eternal families, the power of the priesthood and my Savior Jesus Christ who enables us to become more.

Love Forever,

Sister Sarah Ralph

Thursday, May 23, 2013

23 May 2013 - MTC news (finally)

I hope you get this! Please check your junk mail mommy!

Ok well first I will catch you up a little on last week because email is... less than reliable.
I did initiatories for the first time since my first time and that was a really exciting experience. My TRC experience was wayyyyy better then 2nd time. I dont know if you guys know this but the MTC is nothing like what it use to be. They added a building so mail is in 11M now and they moved the bookstore and everything is just different and structured. Literally every 5 minutes is planned out and so I teach every single day. I currently have 3 investigators and so TRC is where we get to go and teach but we teach RM's as RM's not as fake investigators and it is a really cool experience. Our lessons are normally about 45 minutes long- we are working on shortening them up.

I had an experience last week where I got to me "Mom/teacher" to one of my teachers. He is younger than me and was having a rough day and so I just was able to talk to him and ... ahh! It was just such an amazing experience... the spirit was there and you could see this light come back into his eyes! I love the gospel!

Janice K Perry came and spoke to RS and the sisters in the MTC... we were the first ones to sing the lyrics she wrote to the song "SIsters In Zion".. it is incredibly powerful, tears were flowing everywhere that Sunday. I have the lyrics but I am sure you will see them soon. I listened to Holland's talk on making your mission your whole life and WOW! He just is incredibly, he changed my thoughts and I just want to be the best missionary ever! He said go out and ASTONISH people! You can not astonish people if you are not different! Use the power and authority that you have for this tiny amount of time! Man... I am sure it does not ring the same with you as it does for me... but just know that it Hit me, changed my life and I am going to go out and astonish some Philippinos with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I was walking up to the field the other day and going through the parking lot and I saw in the corner of my eye my CAR!!! hahahahahahhahaha I ran up to it and hugged it hahaha I love my car. Soo so happy!

Elder Nelson came and spoke to us last week and he said when people ask why you are the way you are ... four words.... "I Follow Jesus Christ". We used that in a fact investigator activity in class and those 4 words have so much power... I love it!

This week... was not too different. We watched the testaments sunday night and I was a wreck... I always am during that movie, but this time was just different. I love the knowledge that our Savior is coming again! We had lots of talks in class this week about all the joys I have to look forward to.... worms, rats and bedbugs, bolut, dolphin, eating fish with the eyes and everything still there... etc. Yea... .... please pray for me.

Beka!! You are going on another Cruise! That is crazy!! You are so lucky! I want to hear all about it! AKA you need to write me!
Susan- I do not have your address and want to talk to you AKA tell mom your address and I will write you. Hope you are doing well and are happy. Joe- I hope you know you won't find a stronger woman if you search the whole face of the earth.
Jessica- Thank you so much for your letters, they mean the world to me, keep them coming! I hope you are happy and feeling well. I am putting your letter in the mail in after I finish writing it.
Jon and Jenna- You two!! Where are you? You are supposed to talk to me. I love you! haha Jenna I hope you are doing well and your baby is doing well! Did you think of any names yet? Tell Katelyn I love her and give Nathan a squeeze for me!
Liz and Austin- Liz I miss talking to you on the phone.I hope you are doing well and Texas is maybe kind of growing on you. Update me on the kids! I want to know what is happening!!
Benjamin- I love you! And am so proud of you!
Samuel- Hey BUD! i MISS YOU!! I hope you are learning a lot at school, helping mom around the house and reading your scriptures and saying your prayers. I hear you are getting braces!! Exciting Good luck! Oh and tell me how you like the lady who is helping teach you at home. And how is karate going? Are you still swimming? I love you and miss you! Mehikookoo.!!

Mom, It is really fun to hear all your garden stories. They make me laugh.. I normally read them aloud to my roommates. I talk about you all the time and so my district really wants to meet you. They cant imagine someone so awesome! They have no idea!!!  I would use WORD, but they do not have it are funny. All they have is this email, TALL and This place is STRICT, in every sense of the word.

I will work on that insurance stuff after I get off this computer. Next P-day is the last time I can write you before I leave. Can you believe that!???? I will be in the Philippines in less than 2 weeks!! Oh my goodness!!!!!!! I am freaking out! We get travel plans tonight! Ahh!

My itchiness has gone away but I know I am going to want more hydroc..whatever that anti- itch stuff is.

Lets see... this week has been good. I have really been working on trying to speak Cebuano all the time but it is soooo stinkin hard. especially when my sisters all do not support me in that. But it is coming along. I realize that when I get to the Philippines I will probably be asked to learn a different language,.. so I am just doing the best I can here. I am sunburnt (= . I love studying in the sun.

Lessons are ... man they are such learning experiences. We are teaching this lady now who is a single mom, has 3 kids, no education, and only works on Sunday selling rice to feed her kids! I have had opportunities to be a fake investigator... I pretended I was Kim Cosway one time and that was really an interesting experience. Could someone try to get a hold of her.. maybe through FB?

One day during gym I was playing against this guy who is pretty good at hitting in vball. But I blocked him like 25 times that night.... AKA I gained more respect. That was nice. Not all sisters missionaries are incapable of playing sports.....

I have had multiple experiences with my companion that have really helped me just step back and put things into perspective. It is not a perspective I was expecting to gain here, but I love it! I have had multiple one-on-one's with My branch president about that and other things and he just has so much faith in me,... its almost scary.

I feel bad this letter does not have much to it because a lot of the things I am learning are hard to explain or type without sounding... ridiculous. Something that I have learned I struggle with is asking the Lord specific questions and receiving an answer through Him in prayer. I really want to get better at that before I leave. I gave up worrying about the language because there is no point in that. I just want to be able to look back on my MTC experience and not have any regrets.

Mom and Dad.. I want to know more about your MTC experiences. Mom... did you think a lot about your kids while you were serving?  I am taking care of my P-blessing. Mom.. I think I need to have money in my account for luggage just in case. I am not sure how we want to go about handling that or what I am supposed to do. I hope I will be able to call you in the airport, but I am not sure. 

Oh family how I love you so much! Thank you for your examples and love!! I hope we have this email thing finally figured out.

Mom!! You lost 25 pds!! That is awesome!! Congrats! I am sooo soo soo proud of you and your diligence. You are such an incredible example to me! Keep those plants a blooming!


Sister Sarah Ralph

Thursday, May 16, 2013

16 May 2013 I just wrote a huge email and it randomly got deleted... I have looked everywhere for it. Soo... I don't have time to tell you what happened

So I am just going to go cry a little to hopefully help me feel better.

Mom --  I do want pictures.... I want to talk to you!! I just wrote a huge huge email... and its .... ah! I miss you very much! And please use dear elder more because I really hate this email.

I am learning a lot and loving the progress and spirit and I hope you are happy!!

Love you Forever!!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

9 May 2013 MTC News

Ok I have very little time so I am going to try and rip through this.
I am so sorry you did not get my last email. I dont know what happened but it was huge so let me know if you got it this time or not. I am alive though.
My district is very small there are only 6 girls. We are all going to the same place and two girls in another district are as well. We have heard from a member of the seventy- I will talk more about him in a bit.

Good luck getting the house ready for that couple! I am sure the place looks great and even if it doesn't look perfectly organized to you that couple should be so grateful that they get to live in a house where the spirit is constant and powerful. I realized this week that so many missionaries are mentioning how they love being in the MTC because the spirit it here. I am finding however that the spirit they are referring to is the same spirit I felt all the time growing up in my house. Thank you mom and dad, you both are fantastic!! The spirit is powerful here, I am not denying that at all. It is wonderful!
A Kiwi board? You can grow Kiwi in WA? since when? That is awesome! Ok I have no idea what a trellis is... please explain. You bid on Brother Hanis's financial package? What does that mean? What is it exactly? Are the young men actually coming to pick weeds? You said you bid but you never said if you won lol. Mom... you only ate vegetables and stawberries on your birthday??? What the heck! There is nothing natural about that. I admire your diligence, but do not envy you in that at all.
Yea!! Samuel gets braces... that will be a pain, but will be so worth it! You can do it Samuel! Remember to brush! Oh Cedar Heights....I do not miss that school, but Samuel that will be so crazy! I wish I could be there with you at school and show you the ropes. You get to be a wolf!! Woot Woot! I love you Bud! Makeekoookoo!!
Mother I just barely got the package you sent and they fit and I appreciate them very much. They are the same as the sports one's that I have so they will work great! you are wonderful! I apologize for the ridiculous price )= . Umm... I would love my blessing but I dont know if it would be easier for me to just order one on line. They have a place here that I can shrink my blessing... my sisters are waiting for me to get one before we all do that together. What do you think would be the best way to go about that? just for me to order one?

I would love photos! That would be fantastic! They are so fun to show to my kauban.

Ok last thursday was P-day and it was nice to finally write a few people and just breathe in the temple. It was still super busy though. I spent almost that whole hour I have to write you that email.. which breaks my heart you didnt get it.

The next day I just had a really wonderful experience where I was able to recognize and identify the spirit and it was a really powerful stepping stone for me.
The next day I got Jessica's cupcakes! I WAS RIGHT!!MUAHAHA!! I knew it was a girl! I am so excited! I wish I could be there, but everything will just be a fantastic experience I am sure. I screamed when I saw it and got soem serious funny looks, but I feel good about it... SHE'S A GIRL! mom... youre gonna have to accept Hadley.
Sunday night devotional we had Chad Lewis come and talk to us. He talks just like a black man. He gave a giant pep talk about not giving up and just being the awesome missionary that you possibly can be. That night I watched the talk by Bednar " Character of Christ"... incredible. Talk about a slap in the face, humbling chastisement. I learned a lot and am trying to apply the principles taught into my life and would recommend it to anyone.
The following night I fell asleep for a bit! Yipee!!!! But then had a dream that samuel was run over by a car .. and then I was in a store picking out dresses with Liz that looks more like Pj's and they didnt allow you to move your shoulders but we slid into the store on this giant tarp slip and slide that had Lord of the Rings characters on it and then it switched back and I had to watch samuel get run over by a van and I ran to him and his arm was amputed and legs and face were mauled... but he was trying so hard to be happy still while lying there on the ground. I decided after that that maybe its ok I dont sleep.
A few days ago it was thundering and lightning and Brother Pasikala took us out side and we learned a new grammar concept in the crazy weather- so fun!
After we all had to write to our Branch President, he showed up that night and wanted to talk to me and my companion. The devotional that night was by the member of the 70 and he hit the law of chastity hard and clear. It was pretty powerful.
But after the devotional, the president called me and my companion in and talked to us and then talked to us one on one. I won't share what he talked about in detail about my companion but after talking to him I felt so good and the spirit was just so strong so I thought it might be ok to share some of these...
He said that he needed me here and he needed me for my specific companion and no one else would be able to help her in the way that I can. He said that he wants me to know that I am doing a great job and really appreciates all I am doing. He said that I have a presence about me ... but I am not really sure what that means and that I have blossomed. He counseled me to remember that I have high expectations for myself and that is good as long as I realize that I can not hold others to that same bar. He said that I need to remember to be patient with my companion and miracles will and already have happened in our time in the MTC.
The next day it ended up being that one of the six sisters in my district went home. That devotional hit home for her and she decided to have the courage to do something about it. So there are 5 of us and things are coming along. I love my Sisters and get closer and closer everyday. I am learning so much! I have a testimony of the mantel that each missionary has and the power that teachers are blessed with in the classroom (especially because I spent the last 3 years of my life seeing how they really are outside of the classroom- not bad, just not like in the classroom lol). but they really do have the spirit and I appreciate them so much!
I am sorry this letter is not as exciting as you would like. We do a lot of the same things. Lots of the same miracles happen every day and continual learning and looking outward is the goal of every minute of every day. I love you all very much and am grateful for the examples of love in my life.
Mom... I did receive Sister Rowley's letter. I was wondering if you would be able to take a look at my grades for curiousity sake. username: smralph. Password: volleyball10. Also could you just to make sure my deferment went through and I am still allowed to come back to BYU when I get back.. just to ease my mind a little more.

I am going to start the letter to the ward today. I am sorry I am so behind on that... life is pretty packed. Also..I didnt realize this but I am terrible at setting goals.
Mom! I love you!
I trust you will edit the content of this email as you see fit. But I would appreciate if someone would contact Melissa and let me have her contact info. And jackie and Benjamin! Please!
Thank you so much!! I love you so so so so much!
Sister Sarah Ralph

Thursday, May 2, 2013

2 May 2013 - First Email

Ahhh!! Family that I love so much!! hello! hello hello!!

Ok here we go...
Day 1: Ok saying goodbye was really weird and hard. I felt so sick to my stomach and did not want to let go, but I did and I was off like a lemming (spelling?). I understand now why the missionaries never give much detail about the MTC... the first few hours they just literally point to the next location you go so you do not get lost. You sit, listen and eat. After getting my tag I sat in my classroom where all the girls in my district already were and my teachers Sister Brinton and Brother Johnson were speaking Cebuano and nothing else.... ridiculous! i sat next to my companion Sister Isaacson. This tiny little, brown haired, brown eyed, 20 year old quiet girl who looked scared out of her mind. then we went to a general meeting where they told us to be obediant obediant and obediant. After dinner we were in groups and we went to teach investigators in groups and it was crazy how I knew these people were not real investigators but you still have this burning inside to help them understand. I think that is one thing the MTC really has to offer newbie missionaries you cant get in other places.

Day 2 was super long and we had zero free time. We met as a branch with our branch presidency ( which I didnt know you had for just your time in the MTC) and we introduced ourselves and bared testimony. My favorite part of this whole day was when we first came into the room to meet the presidency their wives were standing there and gave us hugs! Oh my goodness... I hugged them and I hugged them good. It was so wonderful. The last time I gave a hug was when Melissa and Jessica dropped me off and I was in need. So I hugged them a few more times before the end of the night. It just felt soo so good and I really needed that. they are super cute ladies too, so so nice! Any way so at the end of the meeting I got called as Sister Training Leader. There are no men in my district and so I am the equivalent to District Leader. My mission president called me and told me that I was with my particular companion for a reason and I had tools and gifts that would help her and to help her in every way I can ( she was having a really hard time). All the girls in my district are 20 and younger and I did kind of take on the leader role from the beginning and so all the sisters in my district after I was called were like " we called that easy". I didn't, I have no clue what in the world I am doing, Being district leader just means the girls have to get permission from me to do a few things, I get the mail, I make sure all the rules are followed and I attend a bajillion meetings. It has been fun and I am learning a lot. It is very helpful for me though.. so that I remember to be 100% obediant in everything! It is good, and I love the responsibility but it can be a little stressful at times. Especially because my sisters think I am the funniest thing. I have no idea how this happened but seriously every time I open my mouth at lunch or walking in the halls or what-not... the sisters are dying of laughter. We just have so much fun and are happy and ... I dont know.. It is really nice. Glad someone thinks I am funny. But at the same time they have individually thanked me for being strict on the rules and we all love each other so it is good.

Oh yea.. Sister Isaacson and I get along great. She is younger and so there is a little bit of a maturity difference, but I just accept it and we talk about things in companion inventory and we laugh and joke, and learn together and things are going great. She is not very forward or out there and so as we teach our investigator I have taken the lead and we are working on that... working on getting her to teach more of the lesson and speak up. We are making progress.

Day 3 Friday was the first time we taught our investigator Ruel- he is actually a Cebuano teacher here at he MTC- big ole Tongan guy. But it was terrible... can I tell you. terrible. My mind went blank and I had no idea what to say, I had no idea what HE said! And I got out of there and felt discouraged and incapable and just blah! I did not ever want to do that again. Kill me now. But despite my plee's we teach him every day but Pday and Sundays. It is so hard. Ok... so the teachers are only with us for 3 hours a day. One hour of which is in english talking about how to teach and study more effectively. To this day we have been taught maybe three concepts or grammar rules for Cebuano... past that it is all on our own. We study lessons that we are going to teach Ruel and pray... lots and lots of prayer. We are only allowed to pray in Cebuano now and we are making progress. I have to admit this is the hardest part for me. This language is intense.. not intense just super super long. The BOM is 802 pages in Cebuano!! Anything over three syllables takes me like 3 days to memorize. Most of the time I do not understand what Ruel is saying and I put Cebuano words into English structured sentences. It is getting better, sure, but man is it frustrating. We have taught him on prayer, BOM, restoration, eternal families, plan of salvation and it is amazing to me that we can always tell when the spirit is there. This last lesson we taught I tried to make more personal to his family and their needs and there was this part that the spirit was just so strong and ahhh... those moments are the only reason I can get through teaching in Cebuano. I love love love reading the BOM in Cebuano with my English copy. Sure it takes me 10 minutes to get through a verse... but the spirit is there and it is really exciting!

Ok.. yea lots and lots of food. I do find it ironic that they tell you to eat healthy and balanced meals and then feed you huge meals with a ton of fat and grease lol But they are good. I was pretty bad at first, but I am getting better. No juice. I always have a salad and a bowl of fruit. I am taking less desserts and started running. I actually made up a work out on Tuesday and I am still sore today. Gym time is terrible. I played volleyball at first but I could not take it.. no diving, no keeping score, no competition and the girls run from the ball any way sooo... I decided to run instead. But then one of the sisters came up to me and asked I would come back and play soo... I did and I tried to teach some of them the concept of bump,. set,, spike.. yea we will see how that goes with time.

I did see Scott twice so that was fun. and I saw Blake Jensen, He is going to Germany. I have seen a number of friends from BYU, so that has been fun too!

Sleep: yea I do not really sleep. I normally lie in bed for a few hours and then fall asleep and get up 5 or 6 times in the night but last night was better so that is nice!!

Sunday was really cool. It was not as relaxed as I was hoping because of the bajillion meetings and 7:30 AM sacrament lol but that is ok. I like that our president has us all prepare talks every week and then after the sacrament he just randomly chooses three people to give their talks. I really like that because we can study for them during part of our personal study and it has really been enjoyable. During R.S the Genearl R.S president came and spoke with us, there were 1258 sisters there. Most of the talks on Sunday were just "You can do it!" Which was very needed for the sisters in my district, they were homesick pretty bad. One even threw up. But they were so uplifting and ... hahah its kind of a joke in the MTC. They say "just make it to Sunday!" Because its less drill and kill every second. Devotional was really exciting President Stephen Allen spoke to us and compared our trials of homesickness and wanting to go home with the words in Mosiah about the sons of Mosiah and it was really powerful.

We got to do service of cleaning the bathrooms on tuesday morning at 6 AM and you know me... when I clean its my time. I sing or I just think. well... not my companion. 6 AM and she just chatted and chatted and chatted away. Lol it was ridiculous! She was not picking up any of my hints... I talked to her about it in companionship study but man... that was an eye opener for me. I have zones! Sister Isaacson and I are doing awesome though! From the first day we were laughing and just having a really good time together. I talked to her about how I wanted her to be open with me and tell me what she was thinking and since then she has had NO problem talking... at all. Sometimes I have to pull her back down to earth during companionship study and help keep our focus.

So my teachers both served in my mission less than a year ago and they said... yes you should carry tissue with you when you walk (lack of TP) and to put everything in bags because of the rain. They said that there are a lot of problems there that you dont find in many other places. One of which they said was kind of a more frequent problem then should be is Bishops stealing tithing. People get offended really easily (not uncommon), but they said the people are so nice- they just dont keep their commitments very often. My teacher said that they love love white skin and so the native sisters put on bleach lotion and so do the foreign sisters I will still be super white when I come back. Also my teacher put on 15 pds! Oh my goodness! quite different than what I was told huh... lol oh life!

Any way my time if up in 2 minutes so I just wanted to tell you all how much I love you. I have been so blessed. I was worried that my emotions would just go crazy, but I can feel the Lord protecting me and uplifting me. My tears for you have been tears of gratitude and love. I know I am supposed to be here and I know I will have you all forever! I miss you and pray for you daily! Keep me posted!! I love love love you all so much!!

Oh DAD HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! I hope you had a fantastic day!! I am sorry I was not allowed to write you yet... but keep your eyes peeled.

Sister Sarah Ralph