Sunday, September 29, 2013

29 September 2013

Hello Family!! 
   I apologize in advance my letter this week will be less than thrilling, but bear with me. So Monday was fun, we just spent our whole P-day at the church helping the ward print t-shirts for the stake activity on Saturday, there should be a pix kind of showing you what that was like.

And then Tuesday we went to Abango and a miracle happened. We went to go check and see if Angel was there but she wasn't. So we decided to stop at a LA's house nearby and see how they were doing. When we left both me and my companion randomly saw this tiny dirt path at the back of this fancy neighborhood and we wondered if there were houses back there. So we both felt like we should go see. Sooo we went along and after like one minute of walking we randomly- seriously out of Nowhere ran into Angel! It was sooo crazy! And there is no way that was an accident! We were so happy! We got to see what was going on because she hasn't been able to purchase load (for her phone) so we can't talk to her. But she still wants to come to church, so we keep praying for her!

   Thursday was CSP (community service project) again. My zone of missionaries went to a school and helped a LA (less active) with her garden. It was fun except all the stinker little boys kept throwing worms at me. Those of you who know me know how much I enjoyed that. But at recess all the kids came out and there were sooo many and they just followed me everywhere I went. The pictures do not do it justice. I tried teaching them red light green light but the whole red light part was a struggle, hahaha. It was a lot of fun! They are sooo beautiful!

   I wrote Benjamin, but we don't say much. He is doing so much better in terms of language than I think I ever will. I appreciate the prayers, of course, I just need to pick up my game, my efforts in the language! Ahh! Mom, Brother Mighty wants to talk to you, hahahha, have fun! Haha, Mhayty is his first name, his last name is Morales. He has a huge crush on me, hahaha, its slightly entertaining, hahaha. Of course, it's ok if you give out my email. WOW! COOL Bishopric!! I want to watch conference so bad! I will talk about Raul in my email. I'm excited to try all your foods mom, they sound wonderful.
Raul our investigator

   After CSP we went to the church and Sister Sousa and I cleaned the bathrooms,.... which never happens in the Philippines, Waray soap, Waray TP, Its bad. But while I was cleaning the toilet I got a chemical in my eye and it burned so, so bad. I rinsed my eye under water for ever but later when we were teaching it was still gushing Pus. Yea... it was nasty!
   Ok now though, hahahaha.
Ok, we are teaching Leslie and she is such a gem! I wish you all could meet her. She is so prepared for the gospel. She was taking notes the last time we taught her. Her eagerness for the gospel invites the spirit so strong and so I love teaching her because I know every time we are blessed with the gift of tongues and I can feel it- it's a beautiful feeling! I love the gospel! I love missionary work!
   Sister Sarah Ralph

Monday, September 23, 2013

22 September 2013

Dinner in the Philippines
   WOW!!! Samuel!!! CONGRATS on getting into Jazz band! That is fantastic! I can't wait to hear how good you are when I get back!
   I'm glad you are all staying busy. I really miss working out in the yard. Every time we get a chance to do CSP (community service project) outside I get super excited!
   OUCH!!! BYU Utah game... that sounds miserable... Oi! SO glad I am here, hahaha.
   So life is still wonderful! haha, I am still super happy! It's really because... or in large part because my companion and I just work sooo well together. I love her to death, she is so patient and humble and optimistic. I wish we were staying together our whole missions, but alas we know we only have a few weeks left together.

   OK, let me tell you what happened this week. First off we attended a fiesta for another Baragay (neighborhood) in our area and so we get fed a lot of food. This happened to be the WML's (ward mission leader) balay or house and after I was done eating I got up and did the dishes... no biggee right? I do the dishes all the time... ohhh myyy goodness.... It was like the end of the world or something that I was doing the dishes. They were taking pictures and videos of me while demanding that I stop even though it was obvious they were just getting a huge kick out of it. It was insane... but I just love doing dishes. It's my comfort zone and it was cool to see how appreciative the family was even days later. I got a text from one of the brothers that said I was the first missionary ever to do that and he kept thanking me. Simple but wow the response was a bit mind blowing.

    Ok I have a huge weakness for singing the songs that play everywhere. It's not allowed for missionaries but half the time I don't even realize I am singing... terrible! I really have to work on that haha. (Why are songs so catchy here?)
   Thank you all sooo much for your prayers especially regarding the language. We were teaching a LA (less active) this week and the first time she saw me was at the church and I was brand new and so when we came to her house a little while ago, we taught her and her mother. This week when we went back she told me how shocked she was at the last lesson to hear me speak. She thought because I was pretty silent the first time we met that I couldn't speak .But she said when you started talking it was so beautiful and she said she could really feel the spirit. So thank you all so much for your prayers- they make a huge difference. Haha. Now if you wouldn't mind praying to help me understand the people, haha, haha. I would appreciate that as well. Speaking is one thing, understanding is another, haha. You all are such a blessing to me, thank you so much! 
   For the first time I got to ride a bus like you see in movies when there is no room and so you stand holding on to the rail with a crying baby in your face and creepy men staring at you while standing right next to you, hahaha. I just laughed. It was amusing. I worked my "wanna be a mother"ing skills and was able to get the baby to stop crying... everyone on the whole bus watched as I worked the magic, haha.

High Tide on the coast
   We have 5 new investigators and BOY am I excited! It's weird because we have zero success at all with referrals. We ask and ask but nothing. All of our referrals are from tracting. So Abby and Mark and Marckira we met a few weeks ago and got their information and said we would return, but their area is kind of far so we have not made it back there. But when we came this time we walked in and their aunt was skyping and she is Mormon and in Canada and THEN we skyped their other aunt who is Mormon and in Japan, hahahah. Crazy huh? After our quick skype with them and them thanking us over and over for finding their family we taught a lesson. Abby said he has been waiting for us to return. They were so receptive and open and excited to learn and we of course (as always on the first visit) committed them to baptism and they seemed super willing. We are so excited to teach them! They are great!

   Leslie is another investigator... oh man! Let me tell you this was soo crazy! Ok, so we came to teach her on Tuesday and I was not sure what to expect. But she is super smart and really, really likes to think about what we tell her. She ponders everything and it's so great! She is a clear speaker too, so I can understand most of what she says. But after the lesson we were walking out and she starts licking her fingers. I was confused, haha. She was holding her baby and pointing to me... turns out she was asking me to bless her baby. I had a freak out moment and was like,... Uhhhhhh, probably not good. So I was super reluctant.
   She kept asking and asking and cge cge and so I just made sure that it was not anything religious- just Philippina tradition lang! And she said it was not religious. So what she had me do is lick my fingers and do this cross thing over her baby's belly button. I felt sooo stupid but she was sooo grateful. Apparantly it means that when her baby grows up he will be beautiful. (I think be blonde too.... but I don't know how that works out). Any way... just a once in a life time experience.
   OH YES!!! I GOT THE PACKAGE!!! From my family and from Sister Lisa Lewis! haha. Thank you sooo much! Sister Lewis I saw the package and just laughed. You are wonderful! I am so excited to use my new fancy umbrella. Its great quality! and thank you for writing me too.
   Family thank you sooo much for the package! The chocolates were a HUGE hit in my ward and I ate straight Nutella for dinner the other night, hahaha. And the shirt and pix!! It was absolutely perfect, just what I needed. I'm so, so sorry it costs so much, both my family and Lisa, but I really appreciate it. I love you so much! Thank you.

   Yellow stuff? haha I LOVED The shirt. I wore it today actually. I really needed t-shirts so thank you... it was perfect!! No we have not had a bagio (storm) here, that's just normal because its high tide close to the ocean.
   Oh and for the main event of the week!! We had a baptism!!!! WOOT WOOT! Sister Luzviminda! It went so well! AND to make it THAT much better 3 of our investigators came- Raul, Reynaldo and Lacion. Oh my goodness, I was sooo happy! We have really been focusing on Raul . I love, love, love, love teaching him. He is 49 years old and just the greatest. He asks such good questions. I'm actually at his computer shop right now and we just connect. We laugh so much and when I bear my testimony to him... I feel it. I feel it with all my soul the truth of what I am saying. The spirit is sooo apparent when we teach him. He is in 1 Nephi 14 and I just love him. I love him sooo, soo much. I want him to accept the gospel with all his heart... hinay hinay we will get there. I just love missionary work so much. I love being led by the spirit. I love being trusted by the Lord also to make decisions without being directly led or told where to go. I am so thankful for the atonement because I know I am FARRRRR from being a perfect... or even an effective teacher but the atonement makes up for my many mistakes as I try to do my best and rely on the Lord. I think that is one of the biggest lessons I have learned so far is just how happy I can be. I have the atonement of Jesus Christ! Its exhausting beating yourself up 24-7 for not being perfect (aka - not understanding how to use or apply the atonement). We are all here to progress and we are progressing... we just need to focus on the improvements as small as they may be while we move through this life.

Oh, how grateful I am. I love my family soo, soo very much! I love my Savior and am so grateful for prayer- I know our Father hears and answers us. Please be safe and know that I love you all!
Sister Ralph
Sister Sousa and children

Monday, September 16, 2013

15 September 2013

I will try and get to all your questions.
I am doing soo, soo, soo good. I love my life so much. I feel like I am living a fairy tale. I love my area. It's different for sure, but I love it. The people here are so kind and loving and friendly. I love, love, love my companion. Sister Sousa and I work so well together. She is relaxed and optimistic-- something I so very desperately need. We are working hard and striving to improve and open or mouths and it's just wonderful! Nothing too exciting- there are not a lot of storms here. Just lots of religions and lots of American music-- talaga distracting! I am glad I do not have to worry right now about the world - other than trying to pull people out of it, haha.
   YES! We have investigators... oh my goodness. This week was terrific, so one of our investigators is getting baptized this Saturday. She is super tight on money and normally only has enough money to make it to church once a week, which is about 20 pesos there and back which is about 50 cents for us. And she had to come to church for her baptismal interview and so we were all on edge about her finding money to come to church the next day in order to keep her baptism date. But she was full of faith. Sister Sousa and I waited and waited for her but she did not show. We were both giving talks so we went to the chapel and right after the sacrament - Sister Luzviminda (our investigator) walked in! Oh my goodness we were sooo happy! We pretty much had an internal screaming party and just ahhh, so happy! So we are preparing for that now .
   AND THEN this last Tuesday we were tracting and decided to stop again at a house of a sister we had met before. We get to speak English with her and she is really good. She is GOLDEN!! Oh my goodness! I love teaching in English... I feel so connected as if there is no end or limit to what I can say or express! It was a nice break... but wow she is incredible! Before we even asked her she said she wanted to come to church with us and when we invited her to baptism she was so excited and said that was what she wanted. She even went further to tell us that she would be moving in a little over a month but that she would find a church near there and attend. I felt the spirit so strong as we taught. It all flowed and she understood and ahhh!! It was incredible! I love the Gospel! We are so excited for her progress. Oh her name is Angel! (19years old)
   AND THEN!!! hahaha, right after Angel we went back to Raul (49 years old) and no English this time haha. But wow again! He asked such good questions and was just soaking up the Book of Mormon and he is just thirsting for the truth. And he keeps asking me why I can't stop smiling and why I am so happy when he asks certain questions, especially right after he told me that he was looking at a lot of religions and trying to see for himself. After he said that I just wanted to cry I was so happy and I just had this huge smile... because I have NO Fear what so ever. I know without a doubt we have what he is looking for. And it's just going to take time and patience and pleading with the spirit to testify to him. I'm so excited for him! He is going to attend the baptism this Saturday. Ahh, I love him! He is so great and such a good Dad.. I know the gospel is going to change his life!! (= I have really felt the spirit as I have taught and bore my testimony and it's the best feeling ever! Ah! I love it!
   I finished the Book of Mormon this week and am so excited to change up the way I have been studying. Personal study is one of my favorite hours of the day! I have been studying hope this last week and gave my talk on it as well. It's a Christ-like attribute that I'm not really good at but I am excited to work on it. It's all about being optimistic and enthusiastic and patient and knowing that it's through the atonement that we can hope for a better world, a better life. I don't know haha right now my life is pretty solid- I can't imagine what the next one will be like.
   Ok so also this week I taught the Law of Chastity for my first time without the help of a Philippina speaker, hahaha, oh my goodness, hahahahahaha. It was terrible, hahahaha. I am so grateful for the pamphlets, hahah because I really can't even express to you how bad it went...just in the sense of my teaching. I will have to leave it at that haha. I just had a good laugh after, that's for sure. I had exchanges this week. Super fun! Sister Finai a Samoan from Utah was my companion so we had a lot of fun together. I learned a lot from her. She served in this area before and so she knew everyone and so we just had a blast. I got to do CSP (community service project) for real this last week. We went to a High School and painted the roof. I got burnt yet again, haha, but I loved it. I love working outside, we just had a blast. And the students were all there because they were doing a parade and so ALLLLLLL of them stared at us so we played haki sak with them while waiting for the paint. It was a lot of fun! I'm terrible at haki but they kept clapping for me haha. That was pretty much my week. Lots more good happened but I don't have time to give all details. But I want to paint a picture of the Philippines for you. Just imagine a lot of people holding roosters and laughing, hahaha, that is the Philippines. With lightning in the sky and music blaring, hahah, oh how I love it! I love you all! Am so grateful for each of you and pray for you always!!
       Sister Ralph

Monday, September 9, 2013

8 September 2013

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JONNIE! NATHAN,  LIZ,  and SUSAN. I love you all and am soooo grateful for all of you in my life!!
   OK, here are my answers haha: Batchmate means we came into the field at the same time. Sister Sousa and I were in the MTC, same batch, same district. We were not companions but we are NOW!! AND I LOVE HER!
   Just forget the Chinese thing.. you had to be there to get it haha. I should have known. My coconut monkey you will see when I get back, It's a monkey carved from a coconut. Talaga is an expression here to add emphasis... sorry about that haha. Sister Pike is just a sister in my zone, she is from Utah.
    Ok I love my new area. Its suuuper different. Its more industrious than my last area. More fields, less trees. And the people don't stare at me quite the same. They touch me a lot and ask me what my height is and they stare but it's not QUITE the same as before. Because unlike my last area there have been foreign sisters here before.  I love it though. Our struggle is that our ward leaders are all inactive and we have no help in fellowshipping those we bring to church, but we are working through it. I love my life. Seriously... my companion and I just want to serve and work hard all day every day. We want to improve and progress and grow and struggle and communicate and uplift and it's just the best feeling. We are both in need of language help but it's ok. The spirit is there when we teach. I can feel it and so can those we teach- I know it. I have felt the gift of tongues at times...definitely not consistent, but still. Progress is progress.

   I don't really know what to say I am just sooo happy. I love the challenges, I love the growth, I love the work. I love missionary work!! I actually feel like a missionary. We (two Americans) walking and talking to people in a foreign language and every single person we talk to we have to choose to be courageous and open our mouths. And we are.... And I LOVE IT! Right now our only real investigator is Luzviminda and she is getting baptized on Sept 21st! We really enjoy teaching her and she is excited to be baptized. We have been focusing on teaching leaders and LA's so hopefully this week our investigator pool will increase. I'm sorry I don't have a ton of detail. I just love everything. The food, the weather, my apt., my companion, my ward!

   Oh! Ok.... this I am proud of... so my Bishop has apparently offended most of the ward but when I met him you could just see this weight hanging over him. He is tired and needs support. And so Sister Sousa and I have made it a point to just compliment and encourage and help him. This last week he was shaking my hand and said he is always happy when he sees us and he has been smiling more and just .... ahh! Just makes me so happy! We are hoping the ward will progress quicker with him in a warm cheerful mood. Love him!!
This is my bishop on the back of my pedicab hahha

   Something that I have really learned this week is just that the Lords plan really is a plan. There is order and timing for everything. Right now we are supposed to focus on finding professionals. And at first I was kind of like... uhhh not sure how I feel about that. But now as I have experienced teaching many people who have little to no understanding or background of what we teach it's just.... it just makes sense. We need to find those who can support themselves and be strong in order to help those around them. We need a foundation. It's kind of hard to explain but seeing it in action. Ah! I have sooo much faith that the professionals ARE out there! And we are going to find them!
   I'm reading in Ether right now. And in, I think its Ether 3:2 or somewhere near,... The brother of Jared is speaking to God and saying "please do not be upset with all my faults; you have given a commandment and we are obeying. We know we are nothing." And then soon after God says he has such great faith that he cannot be held inside the veil. .... To me... I don't know where I came off thinking that we pretty much needed to be close to perfect in order to have faith. I assumed all the prophets were these perfect people since they were born (other than the obvious exceptions like Alma the Younger etc.) but they just seemed so perfect. But the more I study the more I am finding that life is really all about trusting in the atonement, rather than being perfect. We HAVE to have a repentant attitude. But... man it's so hard to explain my thoughts. Just know that we just need to believe in our Savior. Believe Him when he says He will forgive us. Believe Him when He says He can save us. I love our Savior Jesus Christ so much. I am so excited to get to know Him more and truly come to rely on Him
   I love you all! Thank you for all your support and love!!

    Love Always,
  Sister Sarah Ralph

Sunday, September 1, 2013

1 September 2013 -- TRANSFERRED

Tacloban District
 HAPPY BIRTHDAY JONNIE!!!! I love you soooo much!!
   Ridiculous! I totally forgot that you are going on a cruise!! I read your email and was like why is Granpa and Grandma there? HAHA WOW!Be safe and have soo much fun and enjoy yourself, you deserve it! (= Family I love you all soo much and I miss you. Please all of you be happy!
   Ok Family... are you ready for this? My life has changed dramatically. But first we will start from the beginning of the week. Last Tuesday during my personal study I was practicing the 15 min lesson of the Restoration and while I was alone upstairs bearing testimony to the wall about our Heavenly Fathers love for all of His children I felt the spirit sooo strong. I know that Our Heavenly Father loves each of us so much... I think sometimes we are just sooo blessed that we take so much for granted, but He is always reaching out to us. I was also reading in the Book of Mormon when Christ appears and there has been all this terrible wickedness even after seeing so many signs. And yet Christ appears and says "Repent and come unto me" and you can be forgiven and recieve eternal life. Is that not just the most incredible gift? Our Savior is so incredibly quick to forgive and love. I am so grateful for Our Savior and His Character.
My ward missionaries and sisters from Bobon and Catarman seeing me off.
 I am going to miss them (=

   SOO This week was transfer week!!!!! AHH!!! Can you say UNEXPECTED! I got transferred... oh my goodness I cried. I was not prepared for that (mentally) at all. I was in the middle of the market when my zone leader called to tell me and I just cried and talked to everyone and said Bye. I love that area, it is so beautiful and the ward is great! They threw a party for me and the ward missionaries sang and Sister Sandra gave me a coconut monkey- I love it! It was so nice to have my companion cry, too. Hahah that sounds terrible, but she really did not want me to leave. She cried in my arms for a while and just would not let me go and when she dropped me off she just kept saying, "I love you Sister Ralph"... and that just made me feel so good. It's nice to know that I'm not officially the worst companion you could have. I'm going to miss my companion too. She is so service oriented and such a hard worker, I learned so much from her.
Zone Activity at the church and we are having another food fight.
I  learned how to eat like a real Philippina here-- its soo fun!

     Can I just say one thing though..?.... WOMEN!!! They are ridiculous! One minute they do not acknowlege your existence and the next they can't live without you... what is their deal?? (=
   So the 7 hr ride to Tacloban was wonderful as always, beautiful and I rode with Sister Pike who is Talaga sick (that's very sick). So we showed up at the office and I still have no idea where I am going or anything. All I know is I am just being transferred. I wait for hours and finally the APs grab me and tell me my transfer letter got destroyed and so they just told me that I am going to Carigara and my new companion is Sister Sousa!!!! BATCHMATE!!!! (that means we were in the MTC together and we came in the same batch....)
   But the trick was I had to travel alone to my new area because everything got messed up.Oh and Carigara is a different language, so I am starting over again with a language, hahaha. I have to admit that ride was kind of scary... no idea where I was going or what people were saying and yea... Exciting!
    When my stop came Sister Sousa came running across the street and jumped on me screaming YOU'RE NOT CHINESE!!! hahahaha apparently her ZLs told her I was Chinese. It was super funny. We are sooooo excited!
This is my new companion Sister Sousa. We were in the MTC together... Babies we still are. I love her to death!

   I seriously am living the dream right now. I am sooo happpy!! The area is beautiful, I LOVE my new companion. The language here is sooo much easier than my last area because they all mostly speak Waray- H and a little cebuano. Instead of 3 languages with a billion dialects. I am soo excited! Our house is cute and clean and the area is a challenge. Apparently its one of the hardest because none of the leaders are active fully. Our focus this month is visiting the leaders, and people are not very receptive here- hard core Catholic. But me and my companion want to learn and change and grow and serve our hearts out. We are sooo happy! I feel like life could not get better (mission wise). We already taught a few lessons and its only going to get better. That's the outline of whats going on. I am sending pictures, let me know if you get them! I love missionary work. I love having my life revolve around inviting others to come unto Christ. I am so excited for all the challenges and experiences ahead. I love you all and pray for you!!
All My Love,
Sister Sarah Ralph