Sunday, June 23, 2013

23 June 2013

    Ok... so I feel bad I really don't have a whole ton to say as I am sure you noticed I have been struggling a lot with just being the missionary I want to be. I realized that I have done a lot of missionary things but I am not really a Christ-like missionary. I like to serve people through acts of service and I like to talk to people that want to talk to me but ... man... I just realize how much I do not know my Savior.
   So there was a snake next to my bed the other night and so finally President Andaya stepped in and we switched apt.'s with the elders. So we switched a moldy rat invested, no running water etc for a pretty nice place that just has basketball size spiders and people say is haunted, hahahha, woot woot. Super excited!

This is our main source of transportation on top of tricycle...
on bikes rather than motorcycles... rough job!
   We did not do a lot of teaching this week because P-day then district meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday we drove yet again to Tacloban (7 hours) for all sisters meeting on Thursday morning and then drove back on Thursday night. It was really nice for me to see my batch again and see that everyone is struggling. When I talk to older missionaries literally everyone hated their first area and they said that it gets better and hold on and that is comforting to know that everyone is struggling.
    I really do love my companion...I want to get to know her and talk to her and laugh and smile and be happy. This is what she said... because at first when we were together I was quiet and not joking and not happy and so she "has adjusted to my personality" and this is just how she is now. ..... well I realized also that I am really bad at loving the moment I am in. I am always looking ahead for something that will be better and so constantly I am writing things I am thankful for and pointing out things I love and am grateful for ... I have made progress but still have a long way to go. I love Communication... I want to know what I can improve on and I promise I will work on it... but when I don't know what to change to make our companionship better... I struggle. But I am very grateful she can be a happy person, I am grateful she is here and teaching me so much, I am grateful she loves the Lord and is a pretty good teacher.
   I have much to be grateful for.. By the way... both Mom and Dad wear your seatbelts... stay together, BE SAFE! I swear every missionary out here has had a parent die and I am NOT ok with that at all!
My companion has been out for 9 months. I am her second trainee. Her last one was a lot like her though super bubbly and peppy and joking ALL The time... and that just isn't me.... I am learning about charity and accepting people for who they are... not good at it... just trying and I just don't feel the need to be joking and peppy. I smile and can laugh (when I understand) for sure. I love to laugh! I promise!
    The ward I have is the best. They are sooo kind to me and so helpful and loving. They are patient and just so giving! I love them... they have been a huge, huge blessing to me.
    We have two investigators right now- both agreed to be baptized and even though I don't like teaching right now because I don't understand much... the ward members are supportive and make me feel like I am doing better. I love, love, love, love teaching about Joseph Smith and prophets. It's the most incredible thing! Our investigators had never heard of prophets and when we teach them... I just get soo excited and happy for them and just want to jump and cheer and grab their hands and ahhH! I just love it soo much!! I want soo badly to be more converted to the gospel- to Jesus Christ. But I am also learning patience. Between focusing on patience and charity... I have enough things to overcome to last a life time... but I hope to improve soo much! Thank you everyone for putting up with me these last 22 years.
Basketball on P-day
    No scary stories to talk about. I don't know what else to say haha we played b-ball this morning and I am sooo out of shape but it was fun. I forgot how Philippinos work- they said "be there at 6" and so we did and everyone showed up at 7:30... yea... my companion did not want to play so sitting and waiting was super awkward, hahahha, but I was so grateful to play basketball and just let out my normal aggressive side, hahaha.
  I love you all so much!!!!! sorry this is not exciting hahah but I am so grateful for all of you!!

Sister Sarah Ralph

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

16 June 2013 - Father's Day

 Oh how I miss those meals, I am so glad you are enjoying yourselves. Thank you for taking time to write me. Please tell Rebekah Happy late Birthday for me. I did not forget, I thought about her alot and hope she had a beautiful day. I love her very much. Gracie is soo beautiful! I wish I could see and hold her, but I will wait haha. What a beautiful family we have. Haha oh Samuel! I want a pix! I am so glad you finally got braces! and I completely understand you wanting ice cream haha me too. YES!! Beka got her house keys! Oh that makes me happy! I am excited to see it and glad Beka has another project. Oh fun!! Camping trips.. hahaha I feel like I am on a camping trip. But without s'mores--- super essential for the real feel.
   Oh my goodness.... I am so sorry to hear about Austin's dad. That is ... I really don't have words. I am so sorry. and so so grateful for my family. Please!! All of you know how much I love you.
   I did not know grandpa was having internal bleeding. I am so grateful he is doing better. Thank you for letting me know so I can pray for my family.
   My email is not quite as full or eventful as yours. I have eaten some crazy foods: this weird grapefruit thing with vinegar, squid, the skin of a full pig... right off the nasty thing with the head and all and I ate fish haha. Not too bad though over all I have been blessed food wise. Fathers day my awesome ward through this activity where the kids sing and dance. The kids and youth are so amazing here- no shame what so ever. They are all tone deaf but stil sing solos and belt it out. I had some good laughs with them. Last P-day were were doing a little shopping in the market and the next day the whole market burnt to the ground- it was so sad. Tons of giant toads everywhere and HUGE moths that for some reason really like my hair.
   Well the rats are really enjoying my stay. They chewed through my monkey lunch box with my meds inside and my bags and everything hahaha so I will remain living out of my suitcase. Killed my first giant cockroaches in my apt. And last night a baby snake was right next to my bed. hahaha-- oh my goodness. Mom, my ward mission leader said he tried to find you on FB. His name is Ryan Pestano- he is a huge light and help to me here so if a weird random Philipino messages you... answer him haha.
   It was Philippines Independence day this week and they did not really do anything except a giant parade of kids in the morning. We were doing personal study and all a sudden I hear these crazy random noises and the parade was going right by our house. I went out side and EVERY SINGLE person in the parade turned and stared at me... I'm talking thousands of kids... it was pretty ridiculous. But they are super cute.
   Ok, now ... I am not really sure where to start with this or even what to say. Missionary work is hard. Hard is not even the right word. I am thousands of miles away from anyone that has loved me in the past and my companion and I are just... I don't know. She speaks Tagalog and I don't. We are alone in our apt and its hard because whenever she talks to other people she is happy and joking and then when it just us... she doesn't talk and I don't know what to says.
Last night I didn't mean to but I offended her ( we all knew I would sooner or later) but I have really been shown so many of my weaknesses. I have so so so many weaknesses and right now I am trying to adjust. Trying to be patient, to love everyone, to love every moment, to love in general and be happy and.... slow work in progress is all I have to say haha. I know that I am here for a reason. I know that Heavenly Father answers my prayers and I know that he is the same God that gives these people who have nothing, the happiness and joy they have everyday. I spent last night speaking with a member and she has had the most.....impossible life I could even imagine.. and she is happy and simple and I ...I want to be like that. I want to be soo much better than I am. Teaching in Waray is humbling. I have to repeat to myself constantly that I am a representative of Jesus Christ and believe what I say. When you feel inferior - its a challenge to believe that. But I can do hard things!!! Another one of the sisters in my district actually went home after being here for a week.... and it breaks my heart. She is so amazing and such a sweetheart. I know that I can do this! I am learning and trying to apply Charity in my life.
   We have been visiting with the Less actives in the ward and they all agree to come to church, but keeping commitments is a problem here. My companion told me (clarified) that Philippinos do not like Mormons- they have a wrong perspective of us because of anti-mormon churches here that are popular. The first time I went tracking was this week and I was so excited to get going and I finally felt kind of like a missionary and then we went out of the streets with the BOM in my hand and I felt this weight. This darkness, THe way people were looking at me was not like before... I felt like everyone hated me and wanted me gone. I talked to My companion and she said it always feels like that- missionary work is not easy Sister Ralph.
   I am sorry that I just kind of threw that on you all. I just needed to get that off my chest, I know I am supposed to be here and I know my Savior lives and loves me and that faith and works brings about miracles. I am so grateful for all that I have, for my family and friends and for hope in this and the next life. Thank you all so much for your examples and love. You mean the world to me.

Love Forever,
Sister Sarah Ralph

Thank you so much everyone for your prayers and love- I need them so much.

9 Jun 2013 - First email from the Philippines

 Phils.Tacloban Mission
511 Maharlika Hwy.Fatima Vlg.
Tacloban city-6500
That is the address. I was told letters take 2 weeks and packages 2months hahah joy!!
Anyyyyy wayy... are you ready for this?
Hahah ok so ooo The fights were very very very very long and that about sums up that part.
   We arrived in Tacloban oh my goodness .. the coolest thing of my life. We were in a smaller plane and it flew over the islands and when it landed it looked like we were going into the water. The airport is just one strip and we stopped and the airplane turned around and I got out from the back of the plane onto the strip and the airport was this garage looking building. Just this tiny room hahaha and we got out luggage and met President Andaya and the missionary couples and AP's. Umm... then we h.. oh in the airport we saw a huge group of Philippino elders and we were soooo soo happy to see them. We just waved and jumped up and down and smiled... super happy! There are 9 of us Americas and 18 or so Philippino Elders. They are very much.... 18 year old boys but still cute and they have a good spirit about them.
   Any way I need to hurry up or I will never have time to get this all written. We had our interviews and they were all the exact same so nothing cool there. THey fed us and we all waited around in this tiny room. THe american girls -all of us were passed out on the couches and the Philip Elders took pictures of us as we slept.
   Meetings. Meetings. We slept on these pad things on the floor in a room where the sisters stay in that area. More meetings. And then the next day our trainers showed up. We went to this sweet park and took pic and we learned who our trainers were there. OK... my companio.. ok wait. So this is the order they called it in.. Sister Sarah Ralph ( I walk up) You will be serving in Catarman, speaking Waray Wray-S and your companion is Sister Servilla (philippino).
Everyone was like "OHHHHH MANN" and my companion kept moaning and making this "Oh shoot oh crap" comments and I was so confused. I had no idea if she was disgusted with me or what. But turns out my area is just ... psycho. So currently I am 7 hours away from the mission home. It is the farther away. The most northern area. Its known for lots of witchcraft and rude angry philippinos. Its dirty and old, among other things. Regardless, my companion was not happy about it. And all the older missionaries just kept saying "goodluck with that". Oh joy!
   SOoo yes.. I am learning a bran new language (even from what I learned in the MTC) and its hard haha. I have no idea what they are saying. I am really impatient with myself when it comes to languages. My companion and a few elders were put into a van and drove here to Catarman... oh my goodnes can I just tell you.. 7 hours of a tour through the Philippines. It is gorgeous. I swear it looks just like Jurassic park but with out the big dinos. THe only big animals were are water buffalo everywhere. THey are super cute. But no joke... its all jurassic park and the houses are right on the street. I am going to stop trying to explain it because there is way too much. But its incredible how these people live.
    Ok... this part is way more extreme than I was prepared for. EVERYONE STARES! Not just almost everyone. EVERYONE. And they dont stop staring... I walk away and turn and they are all still staring. Its soo awkward.. not awk... just... I dont know what to do. OK I say Maupay na aga. WHich means good morning and smile hahaha. Sometimes they respond but that is rare. They just stare.
    My place.... hahah oh my place. All of you who wanted me to have an extra dose of humility.... lets see ... yes we have rats. Cockroaches. Lots and lots and lots of lizards and all bugs and bajillions of spiders... all in my house. No running water. I clogged the so called toilet the first time I used it. .. it stayed that way for three days. I wash my clothes in buckets and we have a pump out back. Its actually really fun. But the water is very dirty. When I bath with the bucket ..oh my gosh I love love love the cold water but its full of bugs hahaha. Ok.... I know you probably dont believe this but this part is not bad. I sleep on the stinkin floor with no covers or anything and I know there are rats around me as I have seen alot of their remainings and no I dont LIKE or appreicate or want them but its not a big deal. THe lizards freaked me out at first. cause their eyes look like they are going to eat you. But I woke up one morning and was like "hey! where are the lizards?" haha I freakishly missed them... what is wrong with me?
    Spiders dont bug me that much. HUGE Spiders... let me correct myself. There are spiders everywhere, but there are lots of fist size spiders haha and they aren't too bad. I just kill them if they get in my house. There are cats and little stinkin dogs EVERYWHERE!!! literally! its the weirdest thing how many mini dogs there are.
   I think the hardest part temporary wise is just the heat. Its so hot... and I can handle heat.. but being super sticky all the time and never feeling like you can just sit down comfortable and relax with out spiders crawling on you... yea... doesnt happen. You stay sweaty and hot all day and all night. The pictures of my house do not do it justice. Its so bad. The bishop came over for the first time and saw it and hounded the Elders for renting it for the sisters. They were not willing to trade us apartments...its so bad. We took acid to the bathroom multiple times before those pictures. Its just one big hole of bacteria and fungus and all that jazz. But its home right now so we work with it.
    I went to church and I was told that I am in the best ward in the whole Tacloban Mission. Most of the members are RM's and they really support missionary work. We had to get up and bare out testimonies. I did it in Waray!! Hhaha Iw as nervous, but I am glad I didnt chicken out and do it in English. Its hard to learn the language here because everyone wants to speak to me in English. They learn ENglish in the schools and signs and all that are in English so they can sometimes kind of understand. But.. oh the best part... they dont just speak one language. They mix languages. They are normally speaking Togalag and Waray mixed and so learning Waray has been quite the treat. The members and my companion tell me that I am actually really good at the grammar and pronunciation... so hopefully with time I will figure this out.
    I have not eaten anything gross or weird yet. I did have this weird fruit that looked like a orange shaped grapefruit and they dipped it in this weird vinegar. It was not exactly fantastic but the kids enjoyed that I was eating it. OH my goodness! THE KIDS!! The kids are soo so soo so super cute. All of them. It breaks my heart when they come up and ask for food. I dont know how to say no and I just want to squeeze them. It kills me!! But one night we were walking home and a group of like 20 kids ran at me and surrounded me and just loved talking to me. THey would grab my arms and my hair and EVERY one tells me I am tall. But the kids are so fun to talk to. THey just laugh and dance... no shame what so ever. I love the kids to death.
    YEsterday I spent a huge chunk of the day with our WML. LOVE LOVE LOVE HIM! He is a 21 year old RM and he helped me so much with the language. In the Philippines they always say "Its more fun in the Philippines!" and sooo whenever I get confused he told me to just say that.... hahah I said it many many times through out the day and we just laugh and high five all the time. My companion does not know the area so we spent time trying to get to know the ward. THey told me I am the first foreign sister they have ever had.
    I went to a "viewing| last night. They just had a casket with glass to see in this tiny house. He was the father of a boy in the ward who is on his mission now. They embalm a lot differently here and its.... fairly disturbing. But it was good to go meet the people there.
    I got a better feel for what our area is like. We were getting in a pedicab (which is like a tricycle-its the main source of transportation.) we were sitting there waiting for enough people to get in before we left. There were two men outside the pedi who were fighting. Well one was screaming at the other and then left. There were like 6 men around us and three of us women in the pedicab and the guy out side in waray said "RUn RUN RUN!!" to us in the pedi. I did nt know what was going on and I looked at my companion and she said GOOO!!!! SO we jumped out and ran a ways. The guy who was angry had come back with a mashadee (how do you spell that? a big knife.) hahah sorry about that. It was not until AFTER that my companion explained further that this was why she was not excited about the area. People here dont know how to communicate so they just fight hahaha. Sooo... I am stoked!! THis is going to be awesome! I love being out and walking around even though people keep staring at me. Its just soo beautiful.
    For almost two days all I ate was 4 pieces of bread and a half a cup of chocolate milk hahaha SOLID!! Not in Kansas anymore.
   ANy way... my companion is from the Philippines. She is 22 and can be very out going. She does not know waray waray -S either so we will learn together. She hates the sun and so I am coming back white by the way. And I have been a little frustrated cause I dont know what I am doing and we have not done any teaching yet cause we dont know the area and so I just follow her like a puppy rather than having a plan. We have not done any planning. So that part is frustrating. I want so badly to feel like I am fulfilling my purpose and I am not sure. I have had a few moments where I have asked myself why did I choose to come on a mission? Its so much easier at home. None of these people can understand me and I cant understand them... but even in these last few days I have learned so much and I love the knowledge that I have a loving Heavenly Father who is always aware of me and loves me. He loves me!! And I can talk to him at any time. Other people need to know that. They need to know that there is reason to rejoice. They need to know there is happiness available , joy available in this life and in the next because of our Savior. I am so so blessed beyond measure and am so grateful for everything that I do and do not have. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    Thank you all for being a part of my life and for being such amazing examples of faith. I love and pray for you!

Love Forever,
Sister Sarah Ralph