Thursday, February 27, 2014

26 February 2014 -- Great Midweek Message!

The picture with me and my companion is our last drive together as companions on the way to Tacloban.
Ok so here is another update. I know it's not Monday but I got transferred and so we have this temporary p-day because everything is crazy and most of us have no idea what our area is or have any supplies etc., soooo p-day today and next Monday.

So last p-day we went to this zoo. It was not really a zoo it's just some rich guy who has a hobby of collecting exotic animals. So we literally just opened his front door and walked in and played with the monkey and petted the Lion, Liger and Tiger. It was so fun, but slightly scary, I thought the lion was going to eat me.
    We had fun though with the Lion trying to play with us through the bars. They live off of chicken heads. How sad is that.
This picture with the baby and the two sisters is Mary Pierce, she is a recent convert and her family is doing sooo much better and that is her new baby sister that I had never seen before.

Brother Mighty and the Alecha family, my last companion and Mary Pierce.
   Any way so after that I packed up my stuff and I got permission from my  president to go through Carigara to get my shoes. So I got to see the PEOPLE I LOVE SOOO much from Carigara. That place really is my home away from home. It looks pretty different but I could not stop smiling. I was soo happy! They helped me get my luggage and I grabbed a few things and gave the rest of it to them. I love Carigara with all my heart- those people are my angels! Heavenly Father really does answer our prayers- and He does take into consideration what we want... not just what we need.
Elder Quinco... he was in Carigara with me
 So Happy as I could be... we showed up in Tacloban and I got to see missionaries I thought I was never going to see again. I love these missionaries so much!
Elder Banks and me
  The picture of the elderly man is Elder Banks he is a general authority and I talked to him for a good two plus hours. He has lived his whole life at the feet of prophets and apostles and I loved just listening to him tell me his life story. He told me that when I get back to Utah he wants me to call head quarters and ask for him and he and his wife will take me and my parents or whoever out to dinner. He is wonderful.

Longest bridge in the whole Philippines that connects Leyte and Samar
The burger is my first meal in my new area and I just laughed when I saw it.
Can anyone count the number of french fries? hahahahahaha
Anyways soooo.... now I am in Borongan Zone in Borongan on the  Samar Island. I am switching languages again and going to Waray waray.... everyone says the waray here is different sooooo SUPER excited to start this process over again (=. Grateful the Lord is in charge and not me. My new companion is Sister Stoehr but it is pronounced as "steer". She is 19 and from Colorado and is the batch right after me in the field. She is quieter and sweet. I'm excited to work with her! I am living in an apt and tonight I hope we will be able to figure out where our area is. Umm.... yep, that about covers what I know. Hahaha
A small glimpse of what lots of the Samar still looks like. We went through some areas that were just completely desolate and I'm sorry I was still in awe when we were driving through so I didn't take pictures. But that's a small glimpse. I love Tacloban Mission!!
    I LOVE LOVE LOVE being a missionary. I just love everything about it. I love how much I feel empowered with my badge on. As if it gives me the right and authority to do silly things I mean... things that I would not normally do. Approach people I would not normally approach, or just whip out a message of salvation in the first 3 minutes I meet someone because I am wearing my badge. I LOVE THAT! This might be weird but I even sleep with it on because I just don't ever want to forget who I am and my purpose. I love the perspective you gain as a missionary. I was talking to my last companion about this and you know that silly question people always ask when you are an RM... "so how was your mission?" RM's always look at you with this look of what exactly are you wanting me to say to that? How can I possibly sum up all that in one answer and I'm figuring it out. The mission is the best and the hardest thing ever. Why? I get why it's the best, but why is it hard? You are a servant of the Lord, you have power and you know your purpose... why should your life be hard at all? I honestly believe that every second of being a missionary is a battle. There are forces that we are fighting that I never really experienced or realized before coming out here. It's not really possible to explain in words- but it's on a different level. Like PMG (Preach My Gospel) says, we are literally set apart from the world, from the crude and vulgar to a higher plain of thought, (something like that) and its true. We have this inner spiritual battle every minute, submitting our human will to the will of the Father. How great and marvelous is His work! How thrilled and blessed I am to be on the front lines of this spiritual battle. How grateful I am that my parents taught me my whole life HOW to put on my armor. I love my Savior with all my heart. I know He lives and He lives to do the will of the Father, as should we all. I love the Book of Mormon and know that as we strive to study it with real intent we will be given literal power to overcome the adversary- to have an eternal perspective- power to do the will of the Father. I love you all and pray for your happiness and safety. Please be Safe!

Sister Ralph

Monday, February 24, 2014

23 February 2014 -- News of upcoming Transfer

God is listening to my prayers, I don't know why but this week I've been impressed to pray more fervently than usual for my family's safety. So I am soo grateful! Thank you. Now we all know that it's a good idea to listen to Sister Ralph huh?? (= Its ok... 

This picture is me and my companion in Naval the area we are assigned to
Ok so I'm sorry but this will be another short email because we are still living and working Cabbugayan but our area is Naval. Its 2 hours away and so we only go to our area on Sundays... its a lot more frustrating than you might think, but to add to the craziness... I got a call last night and I am transferring again! hahah, so before I even really got to work in my assigned area I am being shipped off somewhere. I will travel on Wednesday morning to my new area and I have no more information than that. hahahah, oh the joys of mission life. 

A bunch of High school kids that wanted to take a pix

So to answer your question, mom... No we have not been doing CSP (community service projects). These people in Cabucgayan are soooo ready for the gospel. There is so much work to do. They need more missionaries. Most everyone thinks sisters are useless at CSP... which drives me insane.. but what can I do? 

Mom ...I think I have shin splints. I really need shoes. I'm hoping to buy some in Tacloban.
   I did have a great experience this week though. My companion has been a sweetheart. She always is so quick to point out the good. I love that about her so much. We were walking to an appt and I just got this desire to talk to the lady at the tindahan or the little store that we were about to pass. There was this sweet looking lady there and I wanted to talk to her. So we approached her and I just talked to her for a second and told her who we were and a quick message and gave her a pamphlet and told her we would come back the next day. 

    It felt really good and when we walked away my companion said wow that was really inspired. And I felt it too... the words just flowed.. It was completely the Holy Ghost and being that instrument is the best feeling in the world. Well we went back the next day and she had read the pamphlet and as we were explaining how the Holy Ghost feels (to help her recognize it). She pretty much interrupted me and said "Yes, I feel it" and I did too! It was the best feeling. My companion afterward just said that my face was literally glowing, haha. During the lesson I just could not stop smiling, I just loved this old woman soooo much and I barely just met her. She was so prepared and eager to be baptized and learn more. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ with all my heart. It is the only power on earth to heal broken hearts, comfort the lonely and liberate the captive. It's freedom in its truest form.

I'm still trying to learn the language... which will probably change again on Wednesday, hahaha.
Oh... how is Michelle doing? and Liz being all prego and all.. AHHH!! CUTE!! What about Sister Lewis... what is she having? A girl...Cute! Everyone here has like 8 boys and no girls.
   Ok mom, I'm getting ready to go now. I tell my companion all about you though and she wants to meet you. I told her today that you still hold me like a baby and how you have this gift with babies, among your bajillion other talents. You really are the best Mom in the world! And Dad... You are the best DAD in the world. I love you both so much! Stay safe! Give Beka and Samuel giant hugs for me. ALL MY LOVE!!

Sister Ralph

Monday, February 17, 2014

16 February 2014 -- Adjusting but not in our area...

My letter  begins: 

So this past week has been good and a growing time for me. Its Cebuano area which is nice but my house mates are American and so we are always, always speaking English and it slightly drives me crazy. My last companion was Cebuano jud (only) and so we never spoke English. But it's ok. Hinay hinay. 
     I had a cockroach down my shirt this week- I didn't know it until I was getting ready for bed-- Yes I screamed.  Its ok, the bed bugs are back as well, hahahha, welcome to Tacloban! I love it! And of course, I ate cow esophagus.. all in the first week, haha.

    I'm learning a lot about my various weaknesses and talents. There are 6 missionaries in my branch, two Elders and 4 Sisters.. I've never been around so many Americans... it's weird. But I'm learning a lot. We meet in a meeting house and, haha, we do not fit. There were at least 12 people sitting outside the building trying to listen in for church. We got to see our area but still are not really working there yet. It's pretty big though so that's great! 

     Our meeting house is pretty small and there are quite a few people who are coming to church. Not nearly as many in the area that we are helping in but that's ok. President said the progress in Naval is slow but we plan on changing that.
Inside the meeting house, with a "Mighty" plate.
That's the name of my former Ward Mission Leader.
    This letter is late. I should be writing more around 10- or a little after. We just could not find a shop with internet- we drove 2 hours to get here... lame.
    So my companion is a small white American and she is gorgeous and so I finally get a break. People don't look at me- they stare at her and the guys approach her ALOT and so I have to play big MAMA ALOT!! It's slightly ridiculous but as is life. 
   We meet in a meeting house- not a church but yea. Its my last ward mission leaders from Carigara's name! Mighty! hahaha Not that funny to you but it was to me. Mom... I don't really have a lot to say this week, haha.
   Umm... we are supposed to do CSP (community service projects) but being girls they think we are slightly useless and won't let us touch anything in terms of buildings or anything outside. (SO ANNOYING) so we are really just finding and teaching, and trying to get things figured out again. 
Motorcycle view of my area.
   We were on riding on the back of motorcycles when I took this picture. We ride for a half hour to get to this other area and it's just breath taking, the ocean, the mountains, everything is Gorgeous! I am sooo spoiled. Its perfect. I've really been working hard on opening my mouth and it's been so wonderful to see how hearts are softened and people listen (= Not everyone obviously, but people are just so happy to see us. 
   I need to head out here despite my RIDICULOUSLY slow computer. Sorry for the lack, its just been kind of an adjusting period but things are good. Thank you for your prayers.        Mom I am sooo soo grateful for you and dad. You two really are the reason I am who I am. I am so incredibly grateful for you. You are the most incredible parents ANYONE could ever ask for. I am so happy to be a RALPH! I love you! Take care!! be SAFE (mom... yes this includes you)

Sister Sarah Ralph

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

11 February 2014 - Midweek Update

Me and my pillow with Sr. Henshaw, my new companion, and another Sister. Waiting at the airport to fly to Manila.
Alright family here is another update for you. I am now in Naval in Biliran. Biliran is an island and Naval is a city. This will be my first experience in the city. Not a huge fan of cities but that just means I have a lot to learn here. We are in my area now but I am actually staying in a sister's apartment an hour or so away until they get an apartment for us. So I feel slightly lost not having an area or people I can really, really focus on but it's ok-- I just have to remember I'm terrible at change and be patient. 
  The picture with the woman and the little boy- that is sister Angelina...
she is the one that shares the gospel like crazy
and will be baptized this following week (=

The other lady is Sister Jema Cuyos, the referral I snatched,
whose husband just adores her, and she is soooooo prepared for the Gospel.
Both women I love so very much and am so excited for them to be baptized in Escalante. 

The picture of the man and me is the beggar I told you about that chased us around the market, hahahah.  I'm gonna miss him.
Shopping in Manila.
    My new companion is actually another one of my batch-mates- we are both American.,hahahah, and we will see how things go. She is 19 and from Utah, her name is Sister Henshaw- she was in Tacloban as in Tacloban when the storm hit- one of the sisters that was super traumatized so this adjustment has been a little bit up and down for her as well.  We both served in Bacolod too- she is the short blonde in the pix at the airport.
Our new area in Naval.
   Umm... yes flying back into Tacloban was rough... I guess in a way I kind of forgot.... I forgot how bad it was, or maybe I just had my expectations subconsciously too high. It's still a disaster of course. The trees that looked like a blanket on the mountains before are just brow stumps.    Everything is just broken and filthy still. Little by little though right. Its weird how everything is sooo different but it still feels like home. When we saw President Andaya for the first time we all wanted to do cartwheels. We LOVE him soooo much!!!! He is so good to us. I got to see my Bishop in Carigara and Brother Kim- I nearly tackled them because I was sooo happy to see them. I just ksdjfdsjfsdjf ahh! So happy! Slightly heart-broken because I still don't get to see them or go back to Carigara but I know the Lord has a better plan for me (even if it's painful) 

So yeah... that's the news.

Sister Sarah  Ralph

Monday, February 10, 2014

10 February 2014 -- Back to Tacloban

Sorry, I could not email earlier mom. I hope you went to bed at a good time. You have snow???? Jealous! Please be safe huh? I'm being safe- don't worry about me, I told you before, besides having the Lord on my side, I'M HUGE... people really are scared of me. Hahaha, no snow here, I'm starting to sweat like crazy again.
    Oh Benjamin... I love your emails- I cannot believe you know the date you are going home... that is creepy! I don't want to think about that, haha.
    Ok enough chit chat, but Mom I do want to thank you for the detailed email- It made me really happy. And it's so nice to kind of get a vision of what is going on.
    No baptism this last week-- I will not bore you with the details of our disappointment, but we are still hopeful that the time will come when they will be baptized. We still had many investigators at church too so we remain grateful and trust in the Lord's time.
Pres. and Sister Lopez with Sarah leaving the Bacolod Mission.
   I don't have time to email anyone else because I am getting on a plane in 2 hours. I got a call from the AP's last night. And packed up my things last night and got on a bus this morning. Me and two sisters are going back to Tacloban. President Lopez wanted me to tell you that he loves me and will miss me and that the areas we are going back to have been cleared by the area presidency and they are safe. He said the members in Tacloban are really struggling in their faith without missionaries so we are going back to strengthen the members. I am feeling very BLAH! No feelings actually. I just want to go where the Lord wants me- honestly. The worst feeling is knowing that you are putting your will first, before the Lord. I am happy to serve wherever. Grateful for the time I had here, I pray and pray the Lord is happy with the progress we made here in Escalante. I feel like there is sooooo much more I could have or should have learned, but the journey continues. I am excited for whatever comes and grateful for all you do in supporting me. 
    Be Safe! I love you all!
Sister Ralph

Monday, February 3, 2014

2 February 2014

 SAMUEL!! That poster looks sooooo awesome! You are so cool. I hope you thanked mom and dad for all they did to help you. We have the best parents huh? How are you liking school? Who are your teachers? Are you doing your HW and reading your scriptures and saying your prayers every day? Make sure to do all your homework before Sunday too ok? I know that Heavenly Father will bless you in your schooling as you do those things- just like He helped me.
   We have puppies? I want a picture! There are hundreds of puppies here too, its puppy season. One of our members even named one after me, hahaha.
   Alright well I guess I will start my letter, haha.
This week as always we had some ups and downs.
   Yes, I did talk to President Lopez about Tacloban... he just said for sure I am going back but he does not know when. I heard about it, but I don't know specifics... did you get my email about it? a short one with pix? yes we had another storm so there was one night I could not sleep at all because the rain was so loud but that's rainy season for you. Just mud, no problems (=
   Ok so, Angelina is one of our investigators and she is so excited to be baptized. She has come to church twice now even with all her insane little munchkin boys- whom I love. She is SUCH a GEM! She shares the gospel with everyone and is still learning so much. You can feel this change that has taken place in her. Before we were more there to socialize with her, but now we show up and she wants to start reading the scriptures right away. Ahh! I love her so much!
   Jema Cuyos is another investigator who is a GEM as well! This was her first Sunday coming to church and she brought her boys and loves the Book of Mormon and is excited to be baptized too. She shares everything we teach her to her husband and she gave us a referral that we taught yesterday. These women are so incredible, so valiant and I love them so much!
   I had an interview with President Lopez this week--- that Man is Called of God. I have zero doubt in my mind about that. He read my mind twice in that interview and knew exactly what I needed to hear. I love him and am so grateful for him.

   We have other investigators, Romel and Ann, they are a couple that were referred to us and WOW! When we shared the restoration message with them the spirit was burning sooo strong. The words literally just flowed from Sister Turtal and I and we knew the spirit was testifying through us. Sister Ann thanked us over and over for explaining the Gospel so simply and some of the things she said ... It was like she had read my patriarchal blessing without me knowing, hahaha. We are soo grateful that Heavenly Father allows us to be tools in His work and that the spirit truly is the real teacher- we are nothing without it.
   (I asked Sarah to be more specific about her comments here.) Hahha mom... its hard to explain about Ann because ok let me give you my thoughts on what I think Heavenly Father is trying to do with me. You and He knows that normally I am pretty quick tongued.... I tend to speak before I think.
   Well... hahahha I can't do that in Cebuano. If I don't think... I don't speak. So in a way it forces me to make sure everything I say is uplifting and focused on my purpose.
   When we taught Ann it was just about the Restoration AKA the life of Jesus Christ and how He established His church on the earth and then the apostasy and restoration through Joseph Smith. I have really come to understand just how important it is for people to CLEARLY understand the apostasy and what it means and why it's important before moving on. I honestly can't tell you the exact words I used but I know they understood clearly.
   She just thanked us for being so clear. My Patriarchal blessing says that "I will be blessed with the gift of explaining the gospel in clear and understandable terms that people will see the truth and have a desire to accept it....."
   We had district conference this week and so the two baptisms we had scheduled for this week were moved- so they will be baptized next week.
   Surprise! 2 minutes before DISTRICT CONFERENCE (like stake conference) starts.. President Lopez walks up to me and tells me that Elder Adoro (member of the 70 who attended) wants me to give a talk) .... Yes..... I* was SCARED out of MY MIND! for about 25 seconds until I remembered who I am and the promises that have been given me. I took a lot of comfort from them and 4 min later I was up at the pulpit talking in Cebuano to a couple hundred people. I don't remember what I said, hahahah, but I do remember feeling the spirit... so I am grateful.
   President Lopez told me that this is my dessert on my mission so I better enjoy every single day because when I go back to Tacloban... it's going to be a different story. But he wants us here for a while because "We are Moving Mountains" (= AHH!! How is Benjamin?
   (I sent Ben's letter with his picture to Sarah) Thanks for the forward... he is soo good looking, haha.
Mom, I have to go but I love you like crazy! Thank you for the details and the letters and for being the Best Mom in the whole world... the picture of you and dad getting married has added sooooo much to our lessons. I love and appreciate you so much! Tell Dad I love him and Beka and Samuel!
   Stay SAFE!!!! PLEASE!!!
   Sister Ralph