Monday, January 27, 2014

26 January 2014

Alright let me tell you about my week...
   Last Monday was hilarious. We went shopping in the market and ended up playing "hide and go seek" with this old beggar who has a crush on me. It sounds terrible... but you should have seen us dodging behind boxes and everybody in the whole market laughing and telling us where to go. It was soo funny.
   I went on exchanges for the first time and learned a lot. The area that I went to is called Sagay. Its super different from my area. Tiny, but the houses are packed in. I was really impressed with the commitment each of their investigators had to read the Book of Mormon. The area that I went to is actually Ilango area, so they don't speak Cebuano.... haha but they understand. Surprisingly I mostly understood a lot of what they said. (=
   Man this week was amazing! During the week was actually pretty rough for me and my companion, we were not sure why but both of us felt this weight that we could not explain, But by the end of the week we had taught more lessons and received more referrals than any previous week. It was incredible to see! Oh man! Sunday was the most incredible day, well actually mixed emotions... ok I will explain.
   So the lady that had breast cancer that I sang to a few weeks ago passed away Sunday morning. I was told that her family was surrounding her and they were all singing Families Can Be Together Forever and before the end of the song she passed through the veil. So Sunday morning was quite somber and reverent. She is a wonderful woman and left behind so many people that love her and are excited to be with her again. Thankfully, they are sealed so they take comfort in that fact.

   Come time for church though, I was crying for happiness. So many of the Less-Actives we are teaching or were only able to visit for this and that reason came to church. One woman, in particular, came that has not come for years. She is INCREDIBLY wealthy and will not let us teach her or the elders- so its been slightly frustrating. But SHE CAME with her KIDS!!! AHH! I seriously cried when I saw her walk in. We had 3 baptisms on Saturday- Chris, Jerico and Julisa. They are incredible! They have come soo far. Chris is pure Bishop material. He is a leader and a missionary. He invites everyone to listen to the missionaries. Julisa loves the gospel- she always takes notes when we teach and reads the Book of Mormon like crazy. Jerico has come sooooo far! He would not talk at all before. But he talks, he prays AND he bore his testimony. WOW! Blessings are being poured out, we are soo happy. 

   We have new investigators that came to church! and they are ADULTS!! haha not just kids. These people are so humble and eager to learn. Sister Angelina asks great questions and Sister Ann Gin just could not stop ranting about the good feeling she had when she was at the church yesterday. We FINALLY (= got a referral from a member (first one) and they referred a couple!!! YES!! We have been praying to find Melchezidek (potential) full tithe payers and our prayers are being answered! I love Heavenly Father soo much! He is so merciful.
   I hit my 9 month mark..... can you believe that?? I am going downhill from now on... ahhh!! That's insane! Time is flying! I learned a powerful lesson this week through my personal study and prayer. Gratitude and work is always the answer. ... haha that's it. I can't explain much more than that, it's just what I have come to learn for myself this week.
   Yes,, half way. Crazy huh? Life is so weird. I really wish people would stop talking about me getting married... it's so distracting!! Everyone wants me to marry their son... and if not their son... their grandson. It's slightly ridiculous.
From my surprise birthday party.
   I'm late writing because of a brown out. It means that there is not any electricity. It happens on a regular basis here. Next transfer is beginning of March. Thank you for the pictures and Mom seriously the package was perfect! You are the best mom in the world!!!! I mean that! Tell everyone I love them, and take care of yourself.
All My Love,
   Sister Ralph
Thanks for the package. I opened the chocolate lid and it had definitely been opened already so I laughed.

We ate it for breakfast anyways, hahahah.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

19 January 2014 -- Happy Birthday Surprise

So let me tell you about my week.
   I was on my back in bed till Thursday. Consequently I have 3 more chapters left in the Book of Mormon and I am so excited. I love the Book of Mormon so much, it really has incredible power that I cannot explain.
The flower head thing my companion made for me to wear on my birthday. I just wore it at that little gathering and then we gave it to that lady I talked to you about who is super sick, so she had something happy to look at in her room she is stuck in

Some of our investigators -
 I bought them ice cream on my birthday, they were in heaven.

   Can I just tell you how happy I was to finally be able to be a missionary again? It killed me not being out and working. But when I finally was back in a skirt, with the badge on, bag over the shoulder and companion at my side I was just on fire. I couldn't stop smiling for 2 days straight. There really is an authority given to missionaries to teach the Gospel and it's not a good feeling to have that precious time wasted lying in bed. I was slightly disobedient because I was told to take it easy but... come on... how could anyone finally turn back into a full time working missionary and not give it their all. We worked!! We hiked mountains, slide down cliffs and taught the Gospel to as many as we could. We found a Family and other than Tatay having a drinking problem and being stubborn, they are golden! We love sharing the gospel with them because they apply our teachings. Sister already stopped drinking coffee. You should see the smiles on their faces.
Those are our shoes on a very clean day.
You will notice the strap is broken, ahahha.
Guess what? We had 15 investigators come to church!! And not all of them were even there. Oh man!! We are so blessed. Three are getting baptized this Saturday and the rest are falling in line. Part of our responsibility in the Philippines is to save the rising generation... that is what we are doing. The pictures of my birthday party are all valiant, humble strong followers of Christ who love the Lord and want to endure to the end. How great is my joy! How I love each of them.
      We, me and my companion, are really going to work hard on focusing on following up with our investigators. What we want more than anything is that all of our investigators remain strong without us here. I shared with my companion my feelings that this would only happen if we make sure they are praying and reading the Book of Mormon....they are converts to the Book of Mormon not to us as missionaries. So pray for us please, as we make this a reality in every sense.
   I learned something this week.... hahah that's a statement if I ever heard oneWe were teaching one of our investigators who is rather stubborn. She is sweet don't get me wrong but we teach very simple to her about the priesthood and the foundation of the church and she does not understand. She is 60 plus and we teach her with her grandchildren. All of whom love our message and come to church and understand... but their grandmother cannot understand. This to me is another testament that the Book of Mormon is true. Over and over it talks about hardening our hearts so that we do not understand what the prophets teach. This lack of understanding does not mean that ... for example... a lot of the time I have no idea what Isaiah is trying to teach me. But... this is a different understanding.... rather an attitude. When we "understand" we are willing to listen with our hearts, we are willing to experiment. Our minds should be open to learning all truth not rejecting something that doesn't fit into our carnal likings. The Holy Ghost will always help us, if not understand in the moment,.. at least have an attitude of patience that soon, in the time of the Lord, we will understand. Sorry if that does not make sense, but I just again... Love the Book of Mormon.

Ok, thank you every one for your birthday wishes! You are all so dear to me. I love you all. We did work on my birthday and celebrated with a number of our investigators, had an area Devotional and then the Elders in my area threw a surprise party for me that night. It was a lot of fun. I am spoiled! So spoiled (=
   I am also learning how truly sensitive the spirit is. Every single conversation I take part in, every song I hear, every minute I spend dwelling on whatever.... everything affects the spirit. I pray that the spirit will continue to lead and guide each of us. I love you all so much!
  She was not crying.. she was whining... it's a Filipino thing, hahaha.

I have to go. Love you!!
   Sister Ralph

Monday, January 13, 2014

12 January 2014 -- Birthday Week for Sarah

    THERE has been a lot of news about missionaries going back to Tacloban but I am still not sure.
I want to go where ever I am assigned. I don't want to have to choose.
   We are meeting with a new investigator this week. We had taught her before but then had to stop because her husband said "no"-- that happens a lot. But we started teaching her again and the first time we asked her to come to church she said she didn't have a skirt. So I took off mine and let her try it on. It was a little big but it would work, so I took it home to clean it so she could feel comfortable going to church. Sorry I'm going to stop upper-casing cause this computer is broken. Any way she agreed to be baptized on Feb 8th and we are sooo excited for her. She listens so well and is so humble.
 The one in the left likes the church and the BOOK OF MORMON. She is a cousin. Our focus was on Sister Grace in the middle and the little girl still lives here. She is their neighbor.

   The Cordova family is those girls in the pix. They are from Manila. So they left. Kill me, I know . But they came to church and the sister holding the Book of Mormon cried like the whole time and almost got up and bore her testimony. We taught them again one last time after church and she said she was 100% IN and loves it and wants to be an example to her family so they will join -- sooooo success but... I WILL for sure be following up with the missionaries in her area. She is golden. I love her to death.
   There is a lady in our ward dying of breast cancer (common also) and one night we were working in the area where she lives. Sister T ended up needing to use the restroom so we went to their house (I PERSONALLY believe this was also the spirit guiding us) normally the mother does not see visitors, but her daughter told us that she wanted to see us, so we went in...and Sister T and she just talked and cried. I did not understand a lot of what was said. And for some reason I couldn't cry which is soo unlike me. But then as the conversation was coming to a close I got this strong impression that I needed to sing I Stand All Amazed. So I did. What a miracle... I then knew why despite the way I was feeling inside, there were no tears. Because I can't sing and cry at the same time. WHAT a simple but beautiful blessing and miracle. The spirit flooded the room and there was this peace that just rested, even as we left the room. She is so strong and such an example to me and her family.  
 This is a little boy in an area we have lots of investigators. 
   Believe it or not... I'M COLD. I don't sleep with a fan. It's like 80 degrees out and I HAVE GOOSE BUMPS... twisted. It rains and pours and rains. Welcome to rainy season. It makes hiking to our investigators a real adventure. Sometimes we aren't able to due to how muddy and dangerous it is. 

   Well our investigators are progressing and we are soooo happy! They love the gospel and in all of them we can see future bishops and relief society presidents and dedicated servants of the Lord. We are soo happy.
   Jeriko is the brother of one of our recent converts who was supposed to be baptized but wouldn't talk to us. AND HE SPOKE! MIRACLE! He spoke and answered questions too and will be baptized on the 25th. We are soooo happy (=
   We found two families this week as well (man are we spoiled). I know our Heavenly Father is so aware of each of us and He answers our prayers. I know that only with the spirit can we be successful. I love and appreciate and treasure opportunities to repent and be better. What a precious gift we have. I am grateful that even though we may read the Book of Mormon time and time again... each time we are uplifted, guided, edified and directed. It truly is the word of God. I love being a missionary. There is so much to learn. I love my family and pray for your happiness and safety daily.
    I HAVE TO GO. I LOVE YOU SOOO MUCH! Thank you for your help and for being there. Stay safe and healthy. Love you to pieces. I LOVE YOU ALL

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

5 January 2014 -- Learning Life Lessons

Alright! So this week was..... AHH!!...really, really good and rough at the same time. As is life, haha. Let's start with the rough... which I am just going to summarize because I don't really want to relive it again. First was that as we were proselyting and visiting members this week we ran into quite a few that are smoking and drinking. These are members that are endowed and active in the church sooo that's been a rough problem for us. We have been praying for guidance on how to help them because it's becoming more and more of a problem. We love these people so much so it breaks our hearts. The other situation is ahh!!!! sdjfkdsfsdkljfskld jfdlksjfiskedjriowsej BLAN!!sfrsdjfsdi H! Summary is that we went to teach an inactive member and met him for the first time. His wife had given birth to a baby girl only 7 months along and the mother is sicker than I have ever seen a human being. The baby died two days ago and we visited last night and I am pretty sure the mom will be following her daughter here shortly. I've learned a lot from this experience but I don't really want to talk about it. I tell you so that we all can be reminded to not take for granted PRIESTHOOD and our health -- hospitals, doctors, family that loves us, food and water, Hope! We should never take these things for granted. 
   So New Years we just did our normal work, but we could not sleep, haha, because the music and fireworks and trumpet horn things and everything was SOOOO loud. It was insane! These people know how to make a party- that's for sure. 
   Ok now for the GOOD NEWS!! 
So we had three baptisms this week!!!! WOOT WOOT! Mark, Hurt and Joseph. They are sooo amazing! They love the gospel and they are bishops in the making. I am so glad I had the privilege of being an instrument in their process of coming unto Christ.  The service was beautiful! The spirit was so strong! AND their mom came!! She is not a member but she was in tears as her sons bore their testimonies... it was perfect... everything missionaries dream of. I'm so happy!! We have more baptisms coming too. I don't know why the youth in this area are the white of the field, ready to harvest but they are. 

Baptism of Mark, Hurt and Joseph
   The second amazing good news is the way I feel and what I learned this week. Man! So... we had Training back in Bacolod and our President spoke a lot about the different ways we can feel the spirit- from Elder Bednar's talk. And something he said was that "we should never doubt the spirit is with us" .... WOW! How amazing and simple is that? I know you are thinking that's ridiculous Sister Ralph, how could you not have known that. Well... of course I "knew" that... I say it all the time to my investigators but then I realized in my prayers I was always asking for the spirit to be with us. Why?? BLOWS my MIND! The spirit is with us! Always! It just clicked! And so now I tell myself all the time that I am happy because the spirit is with me. I feel it so much more- or I recognize the subtly of the spirit now. How gentle it really is and yet how peaceful and beautiful it is. I am soo grateful to be baptized and have THE GIFT of the Holy Ghost. I no longer doubt if its with me, I know it is. I just have to trust. Heavenly Father will not let me go astray as long as I heed to that spirit. Oh man! I love the gospel so much! It's perfect!

   Another thing... I'm reading about the stripling warriors and look at what I discovered...
"Alma 56: 47  --  paraphrased...
   "Now Sister Ralph never had taught the Gospel as a missionary or lived in the Philippines, or spoken Cebuano, yet she did not fear death (you can replace this word how you would like); and she did think more upon the salvation of the people in Escalante than she did upon her own life; yea she had been taught by her mother that if she did not doubt, God would deliver her" 
    WOW! How incredible is that? I am striving to make the first part of this scripture a reality every second of my life. Because the longer I am here the more I realize just how real this work is. This is salvation! There is no greater work on earth and I am so grateful to be a part of it! 
    I love you all!! Be safe and know that you are loved! 
Sister Ralph

Thursday, January 2, 2014

29 December 2013 -- Week after Christmas

Christmas Dinner, hahaha....
   Ok so wow I learned and felt a lot this week. Kurt and Mark passed their baptismal interview with flying colors. They are adorable! They were so nervous. They have such an incredible spirit about them. They are so willing to follow their Savior and do whatever he asks. They are great examples to me. Joseph and Jericho are the other brothers that were set for Jan. 4th but only Joseph will be getting baptized. Ahh, Break my heart! Jericho is so sweet but he won’t pray and he doesn’t answer our questions at all. Something is wrong, but he won’t tell us what it is. So he will not be getting baptized yet, despite his desire. We will continue to teach him though and encourage. When we were there at their house teaching Joseph and going over the baptismal questions we were teaching about prayer and Joseph just broke down in tears... he felt the spirit very strong, probably for the first time in his life and it was a beautiful experience for all of us. When we left his house which is wayyyyy out in the Boonies, we ran into Jericho. He was standing over his father. His father was laying half way out of the sugar cane field in the middle of the pathway drunk as I have ever seen a person. He was laid sprawled out on his stomach with his face in the ground...Ahh.. my heart hurt so bad. How grateful I am for the Word of Wisdom. Jericho was standing over his father and spoke to us as if this was a normal occurrence and I just wanted to cry. 
THESE ARE MY BOYS!!!! How I love them

   Ok so we had another crazy experience with this drunk guy. We were teaching these families of a bunch of little girls and two teens in this house made of sticks and so little protection from the outside. He just came into their house and could barely stand. He ran into the wall and fell over and was a wreck. All the kids ran toward the back of the house while one of the older sisters was screaming that she would call for the police... yet another man who this was obviously a regular occurrence for them. I was sitting on the floor by the door and he came in and ripped off his belt and his pants fell to the ground and he was waving his belt like a mad man. No one was laughing. Sister Turtal held the kids in the back and I kind of pushed him out the door and wrapped the chain so he couldn't come in. It was pretty scary but I know we were protected. He ended up leaving finally and just walking down the street. I am so grateful that our Father in Heaven looks out for us.
Me and Santa
 Again, another crazy experience happened this week. It was Saturday and normally we study first and then go out but we had met some kids on Christmas that specifically asked us to come Saturday morning. The whole morning I was feeling blahhh! I didn't know why I just knew something was up. We went to this neighborhood and the kids said that they were busy. So I felt super dumb at this point and Sister T and I decided to visit our other investigators that were nearby. So we did.... they were busy! AHH! What is it? I could not figure out what I needed to do or why we were there or why I had this weird feeling. We were walking back and Sis T decided to take a different route. 15 ft down this different path and we ran into a house with a bunch of people outside. And it was the weirdest experience. We just kind of stopped right in front of their house and they stared at us and we were so caught off guard. Almost like we didn't see the house till our noses were touching the front door. Without us even saying anything they invited us in their house. Two seconds later we see a casket inside. Ahh! Once again! My heart dropped. Turns out their father had died Dec 22, their mother had died the year before and now there are 9 kids living alone there. Wow... The caskets always have glass at the top and so we could see their father was still pretty young. 
    So we ended up sharing the Plan of Salvation with this family and they were really happy to listen and they said they felt happy and wanted us to come back. We really hit baptism hard and they understood that it is so important. The oldest brother is really receptive, and he is gay, so we are going to have that challenge to face. We are excited!! I know that it was 100% the Lord’s will that we were there at that house. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father is in charge and despite our many, many weaknesses and sins He still can use us as tools in His work.
    Anyway, I am learning so much. I am learning that ... more feeling, the reality of the true statement taught to me by Sister Murphy that “there is no growth in a comfort zone and no comfort in a growth zone”. I am learning to love this work more and more as I strive more and more to focus on my purpose and focus on my Savior. How I love the Book of Mormon, because I come to know my Savior through those pages and the Spirit. I love being a missionary!
 Sister Ralph