Monday, March 31, 2014

31 March 2014 - Companion #8

The Calos family- investigators who I LOVE!! 
Sister Bray is in this baptismal picture that needs to be cropped, sorry.

Ok I will finally start my letter now that the computer is working, haha.
   Well TRANSFERS HAPPENED! So I have a new companion yet again... on to number 8, hahaha. My new companion is Sister Bray she is from Draper Utah, 20 years old and a year into her mission

Alright well..... I kind of just want to focus on one experience this week because the rest was slightly slow and puntedness, haha.
The lady in Yellow is the American.. Judy with Sister Stoehr.
   So we taught Judy this last Tuesday and she was excited to see us and the lesson went well. She still has this concern about how the world is TOO big for only there being one prophet and how she is sure our church is true but there are likely OTHER true paths as well. We read from the Book of Mormon and helped invite the spirit. At the end of the lesson I felt prompted to ask her if it would be ok if we knelt and prayed- and if she would ask God if our church was the Only true church on the earth and to not close her prayer until she felt like she got an answer. She obliged and we all knelt. She started the prayer sincere and wanting an answer. After she asked the question we knelt there in prayer, in silence for 10 minutes. Right after she asked the question tears just flowed from my eyes. I felt this overwhelming love for my Father in Heaven. But we continued to wait in prayer... it was so easy for Satan to send thoughts to me... saying..." Its been long enough", " just look up and talk to her and say maybe next time". ... Oh NO! There was no way I was going to let Satan work me like that. So I stayed there, arms folded, tears flowing silently and eyes shut. I decided to ask for help. As I have never failed before I called on my sweet brother and sister on the other side of the veil (angels and servants of the Lord) to testify to her. I called them by name and continued to wait....
   Finally she spoke. She thanked Heavenly Father for sending us, for the spirit for many things and closed her prayer. Her comment right after closing the prayer was "this divine energy is overwhelming" She THEN went on to say how she felt her question was too limiting and so she asked other questions and got the answer that there are other ways other than the this church. I continued crying like I always do and asked her if she would further explain that comment she made about the energy she felt. She said that (its rainy season at night at this time) well it's not hot and yet I'm sweating from all this divine energy, it's obvious she said that God is healing us. She said she could not deny the power she was feeling...... .... I thanked her for telling me because I knew that MY prayer had been answered and her's had too, but there is still work to do in helping her recognize how the spirit testifies to us. It was such a difficult and yet beautiful experience. We cannot take peoples' agency, they must choose to act on our message and accept it. But we must do all we can to bring the message unto their hearts. Especially being my little sister's Birthday tomorrow, I just want to tell her how much I love and appreciate her. Being a missionary, I need help from both sides of the veil- I'm sooo blessed to know and have my missionary sister on the other side always eager to help. I love you!
   Not much more happened. We taught Cristy Joy a new investigator and like almost every time when you try to teach about the first vision there is a HUGE distraction. This one was worse than most because 5 drunk men came in and wanted to "listen" and ... ahh! It was rough. WHY do people drink? I will never understand. But basta... we are moving forward with her and helping her recognize the spirit.
This is a less-active sister that had her baby this week.
He got sick and so we spent a good chunk of time in the hospital this week.
Other than that I honestly got punted like the WHOLE week... which means people were not home, drunk or did not want anything to do with us. I had another Man scream at me saying Joseph Smith is in hell. But.... we just smile and keep going. My testimony of the Book of Mormon has continued to grow. I Love it so much! Heavenly Father answers our specific questions.... I know this for myself. Recording our spiritual experiences is one way we show God we value His word and He is more willing to continue giving freely to us. I just love the Gospel, I love truth! I love My Father in Heaven so much! We are so blessed!

Sister Sarah Ralph

Monday, March 24, 2014

23 March 2014 -- What's a little rejection?

So, I hate to break this news to everyone who was getting so excited but this week was a bit rough. Hahaha YES!! We love missionary life (= There was lots of punting and rejection involved to sum it up. But we continue on being happy and doing our best to fulfill our purpose despite the temptation to throw a HUGE pity party.
   My friend that played soccer with me before on the beach. R.Ohiljo

           The second picture makes me laugh because you know in America where you can't go anywhere near construction or else someone yells at you or what not... well here in the Philippines we touch the machines all the time. This was late one night and the driver was sleeping and so I wanted a picture in the huge Bobcat. A guy with a helmet started saying something to me and at first I thought I was actually getting in trouble... turns out he just wanted a picture, hahahahha, love the Philippines.
 11 month mark today AHHH!!!
 Well..... we are pretty much back to zero here. Our investigators are dropping like flies. I honestly don't know what it is. We go and the spirit is sooo strong and they know it's true, they have this huge desire to be baptized, we set a date and THEN.........nothing. Let's see if I can list a few of the reasons.... They were born catholic and their whole family, their husbands won't allow them, they are drunk all the time, they don't like the members..... it goes on. Sooo... Satan is being quite the stinker, but we will not STOP! Haha. 
This is a ward missionary activity in the rain on the beach
   No more soccer, I moved on to football, hahah. I didn't make promises about that- but I accidentally demolished one of our branch missionaries. He is sooo small! But he obviously is ok with it because he has worked with us TWICE since I smashed him. 

   Noema got baptized!! That was the highlight of this week! She is incredible!!! She felt the spirit so strong and her testimony was so pure and it touched all of us. She is going to contribute to this ward sooo much! We are so blessed to have been a part of her life.
   So my sassy side started coming out way more this week. I don't know why but it just did. We met with a less active family that ..... let's just say they "know" everything is true, the church etc., but because of members they refuse with a capital R to come back to church until they move. It was such an eye opener for me. They had no understanding of forgiveness, they could not see the impact their decision was making on their life and it just broke our hearts. But I am a firm believer that if we truly love people we fulfill our purpose and NO sugar coating is needed. After they listed a ton of things they "understood" I asked them straight forward... Do you understand that this choice means that you will go to hell?..... that got them thinking. Obviously it did not change their decision (yet) but it got them thinking. EVERY single decision we make leads to eternal life or eternal death. If we continue to choose wrong, we are going to Hell. It sounds terrible, but it's also the truth. I think Heavenly Father would be upset if we treated this fact lightly. So we warned them of the consequences of their choices and we continue. There is nothing else that would have touched their conscience... we walked out and just had to laugh to keep from crying because they are .... BY FAR the worst I have ever talked to. Well.... I don't know how to describe the experience without my own thoughts included... the "YOU IDIOTS" part ..... sooooo maybe next time I'll say a little more. I have a feeling it will continue. Our ward is ..... our leaders, I should say, are huge stumbling blocks so this area is not going to progress super fast. Ok la!! We got this ! (= Truth is sometimes missionary work has its ugly sides that we got to experience, too, haha. But we are happy and just want to do the Lord's work.
   BUT!! on the positive side....I love my companion. And we have people working with us sometimes and I am healthy and I felt the spirit so much this week and I have been focusing on improving my prayers and I feel EVEN closer to my Father in Heaven than before. We are just... happy to be missionaries (=
   Don't worry though, prayers are the reason ( I KNOW this through the spirit) that we are still able to be soo happy through all these trials that just seemed to slap us in the face! Happy and happy to be here!

ALL My Love!!
Sister Ralph

Monday, March 17, 2014

16 March 2014 -- Happy St. Patrick's Day

Ok here is my week. Lots of ups and downs.... the 70 names of potentials is coming along ... slowly, of course, haha.
One of our "potentials".
     Ok let me go in order so I get this all out. So last P-day was fun. Every P-day we go to the beach and play soccer and play in the sand (HARD life I know, hahaha.) But I actually kicked one of the Elders and totally destroyed my foot. I was NOT about to be left out and not get to play... that's not cool. But I paid for it, hahah. I walked it off and kept playing but it caught up to me later that night when we were walking around. Ouch! But I repented and told Heavenly Father I would stop playing soccer with the Elders, but I did need to be out of pain so I could be an effective missionary. He accepted my offer and despite the huge, swollenness and inability to walk by the end of the night... when I woke up the next morning, it was good as new. Heavenly Father answers even our simple prayers and I do plan on keeping my promise. 
     Item number 2 is Judy Papik- she is the American that we were able to meet last week. We went back and taught her. She is super big into energy - the energy of our bodies and so we had her talk to us about it for a while before we shared the first lesson with her. Grabe! Can I just tell you HOW DIFFERENT it is teaching Pinoys vs Americans- it's so different, and hard to explain, but we shared the first lesson and, like Preach My Gospel says, we invited her to be baptized. She said "no", haha. She continued on saying "wow, you're job is not easy" and it's very "intense" of you to meet someone one time and ask them to change their religion. We of course went on to bare testimony of the reality of our message and how important baptism is and how of course she would need to act to prepare herself to be baptized. It's not bastabasta [no big deal, or something to not take serious (no direct translation)] ... It's a sacred covenant with God. She did accept a Book of Mormon however and said she would pray and read. .. This experience changed my perspective and made me question if I was a good missionary. I could connect with her (as an American) so much more than I do with Pinoys- but I love the Filipinos- so am I doing something wrong? Ahh!! It bugged me so bad! So I brought it up to my zone leaders who are both Pinoys and they said "NO!" That's totally normal. It's completely different- even for them, you have to kind of baby spoon feed Pinoys, and really the only thing that connects us is the gospel and families. That made me feel better- I LOVE all Pinoys and they are ALL beautiful, they simply are not American (as lame as that sounds).

Two ward missionary sisters 

  Item #3. We went back and taught her about the Book of Mormon and she had read but I don't think she prayed to know if our message is true. Because - according to what she said (at this point) she believes that its most likely our church is true and Joseph Smith "is nice and good" but the world is big she says, there are probably many prophets in other places- I may never know.... This is her understanding at this point. 
We had an AMAZING lesson with her on the Book of Mormon. I honestly don't remember a lot of what we explained but the spirit was burning. We got to testify to her and share our own experiences of learning for ourselves about the Book of Mormon and she just kept asking all the right questions. She asked: "what makes you so sure?" "What happened to you that you just Know?" When we invited her to pray and ask for herself we promised God would answer prayer and her response was "well of course He will because you two obviously have received your answers." Before the lesson started we were talking about passions- because she is passionate about her project with energy and I said I couldn't think of any career type thing I was passionate about, and at the end of the lesson she said... "Well I know now what you are passionate about." It was incredible! I love being a missionary and sharing my testimony with the world! It's so true!
     #4 We also got to teach Brother Ambida- his wife is a member and he is not there yet. All the members are scared to go teach him because he asks all those ridiculous questions about ducks in America and blah, blah, blah... (People like this do not scare me one bit). The only thing I'm scared of is holding my tongue and not saying something not super Christ-like is response to one of those questions. So the first lesson was a bit of a challenge for me but we have a super good relationship and can laugh with each other, so don't worry. I got a good feel for where his understanding was and what he wants and what is important to him. We focused on faith but it didn't sink in. The next lesson we went back and focused ALL on the Holy Ghost. I did not let him divert the conversation with his random questions and we focused on the role of the Holy Ghost and He listened more than talked this time and I think he was touched- getting him to act and change is obviously going to be quite the trick. Stubborn little turkey.
     #5 I also was asked to give a talk this last Sunday. We both were and obviously I am not a huge fan of giving talks. I wrote the outline of my talk and had a plan. But when I got up to the pulpit I remembered something I read this week that talked about faith and courage and it said that it is planning but when the spirit directs otherwise being able and willing to put your plans aside and just let the spirit guide. Then it BECOMES what the Savior himself would teach. I got up there and I think I looked at my paper once. I just felt like there was so much I needed to say about my topic and it just all came to me. It was really nice to have so many people come up and tell me they were touched- even though my language is kulang (lacking). I felt so good after I sat down. I just LOVE the Holy Ghost so much! The line in the white hand book that says... Take advantage of this time to enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost and I honestly feel like that is what I am doing. I feel so happy and peaceful all the time! I love the Holy Ghost!
     Talking to the American this week really opened my eyes. I think sometimes, being raised in the church and being a missionary every day,... I take for granted who I am and this gospel. My life- what missionaries do is a miracle in itself. If I was not a member of this church... at this point in my life... can you imagine what I would be doing or where I would be? Hahahhahaha, oh goodness. Let's stop thinking about that now. But instead we are giving up our homes and families and luxuries and what not, to serve our Lord and God. Hahah I LOVE IT! It makes me so happy! I know who I am! Ah! I just want to cry and scream and laugh all at the same time.
    Something Judy said was... "I have been in the Philippines for 8 years now and in my entire life I have never experienced or seen anything like this", referring to two white, young, American girls in the Philippines, teaching and inviting BOLDLY, everyone to come unto Christ. And we are living what we teach! Wow! I love the Lord's ways, His plan! There is no greater work on this earth!
Happy Birthday Jessica!

    As to the family and friends, well, thank everyone for me for wanting or caring to stay in touch. That is so sweet of them. I know missionaries seem to just disappear when they leave home-- so I appreciate that. I love my family so much! Mom, you are the most beautiful person I know! Thank you for teaching me who I am (you too, dad) I love you both and pray for you always. Take care, be good! Oh and HAPPY St. PATRICKS DAY!! (in the Philippines at least) haha, Love you!!
I can't wait to be with Jessica too!! I love my family!! I gladly accept her as my guardian angel (=
Sister Ralph  

PS Oh mom! Could you please thank Sister Michelle McCain for me! She sent me a package and wrote a nice little card too. She sent starbursts and licorice and it's all gone now, hahahha. I'm gonna get fat!. Please thank her so much for me and give her a hug!

Monday, March 10, 2014

9 March 2014 -- I LOVE MY LIFE!

Ok, here is my week.... I LOVE MY LIFE!! hahahahaha

   Ok so let me tell you about a few of the experiences I had this week. First is Gloria. We contacted her just through OYM or "opening your mouth" on the streets. We shared and she really paid attention and the spirit was there. Then we tried to go back and go back but it just never worked out. So last Saturday we were waiting for her outside of her house and we ended up talking to her neighbors- Ritchel and Luke. They are in their 30's and she is prego with their 2nd. This was the first lesson I ever started off just answering questions. They wanted to know more about us and our families and why we were serving. It was different but it set a really nice tone and environment for the spirit. The lesson was WONDERFUL! It was completely focused on Baptism and they both feel there is something missing in their life and they felt the spirit. They are very willing to learn and be baptized! We left that lesson just bubbly happy because it was picture perfect. That family was prepared for us. THEN we went back to teach Gloria and she asked us why whenever she saw me and my companion she got this happy feeling inside. She wants SOOO bad to go to church and find out what makes us so happy all the time! AHH!! Miracles! I love the Holy Ghost!

 I have more to say. The chicken is.... so here in the Philippines COCK fighting is HUGEEEEEEE... that is a cock that was just killed and we watched them take it from the owner and clean it up... super nasty. 
Tonsils are good... medicine is all gone (=

   Any way so ANOTHER crazy that happened this week was in a place called Sabang south- fishport! So this was the first time we decided to go to this area, and look and see if we could find any LA's or former investigators. We were told by a random stranger that Mormons lived down the street. So for the first time in my mission I was asking strangers if they knew where the Mormons lived... it was weird, haha, and I would not normally do that but ...( it was inspired haha).
We were pointed to various places until we finally either had to swim in the sea, turn back or enter this tiny little path that led to who knows where. We were slightly confused but being missionaries... we saw a few people doing their laundry outside so we starting talking to them. I asked the lady if I could help her and instead of waiting for a response... I grabbed her laba basket full of clothes and while she carried her baby we followed her through this tiny little entrance. BAM!! Houses and more houses.... and she was soo tickled that I would carry her laundry that she commented on it to every single person we saw.
    We stopped and I was going to help her hang her clothes but she would not let me... at this point there were TONS of people surrounding us just staring. And they were all adults... almost no kids. We asked the sister if we could share with her but now so many people were listening to us that we were unsure what to do. They quickly realized that I was speaking Cebuano rather than Waray and they were soooooooo excited! Turns out they all were from Cebu...Cebuano speaking! CRAZY! So I stood up and in front of allllll these people and told them who we were and what we were doing and invited them all to listen to our message. We got 70 potential investigators!! It was insane!! I've never had an experience like that but I know we were guided by the spirit in order to share the gospel with these people.
   We have only been able to teach a few of the families and some want to listen but are not super excited about not being Catholic and others are sooooo receptive and recognize the spirit and the lessons have been incredible- of course there are still challenges we have to help them overcome. Coming to church and being baptized into the Mormon church when your whole family is Catholic and your neighbor and gossip is guaranteed.... not an easy thing to do. But slowly I know miracles are going to continue to come (= HAPPY!
Also I met an American!! Her name is Judy and she has been in the Philippines for 8 years or so teaching about using your body's energy and healing .... Something like that. Wow! I realized how WEIRD I am! I'm sooooo weird! The way you approach pinoys (Filipinos) is so different than in America. I was sooo nervous that I was offending her and I was asking all these questions that sounded soo dumb in English... and speaking to a stranger in English was hard! I can't really explain it but, blahhh!! I'm weird ... that's the moral of the story.
Sister Agreda, my anak and other missionaries.
   I had another stalker moment this week. We were on the hunt searching for an investigator and this short (hahaha, they are all short but you get the idea) guy just put his head down and stared at us and followed us for a good mile. We stopped and talked to people to let him go by and they turned back. Guess who followed? I grabbed my companion to let him keep going again and pass us but he didn't!! haha. He just walked straight up to me and reached out to touch me. He was clearly insane, so I just grabbed my companion and did missionary walk on steroids till we could hide around a corner, hahah. OHHHH the Philippines, haha.
Noema is going to get baptized this March 22. She decided for herself that she will get baptized even if her parents do not agree- she is 20 years old. I love her so much! She has such a clear understanding of the Gospel and devotion to the Lord. I love her and we are so excited for her.
    Ok, well I'm going to get some serious shopping for groceries done. Thank you both for being such incredible parents and people. Yesterday during R.S., the lesson was on strengthening the family. And families here tend to be broken. But the sisters in RS decided to take more time complaining about their spouses than teaching the lesson and it was not a good feeling. I stood up and bore my testimony boldly that I KNOW that the only way to have a truly successful family is when both parents put the Lord first, above all!  Second is their spouse and third their children. I know that is the pattern to be successful because of my parents' example. I cannot thank you both enough. I love and treasure you both so dearly. Please be safe and happy.
ALL my Love,

Sister Ralph
I had to treasure my foot tan before it is all gone because I have different shoes... I'm going to miss it, hahahah.

Monday, March 3, 2014

2 March 2014 -- the Testifier

HI MOM!! Sorry my computer is super slow again )= internet hates me
Yes mom I got my shoes and I think this pair is already helping my back. Mom I only have 8 months left...don't send any shoes, this pair will be fine. Thanks though.
    My companion is pretty quiet and a bit of a people pleaser... So I have lots to learn and lots to teach her, hahah. She is a sweetheart. I love her and I am excited for us to get to work
   I have pictures but the computer won't let me send them.... I really have no idea why technology and me are just incompatible. 
   Ok... sooo here is the news, yet again it will be short. I woke up the day after emailing you and texted Sister Andaya because I had a really hard time breathing that night and I just knew that this soreness and exhaustion was not normal exhaustion. So she got advice from the doctor and told me to go to get a checkup. The first thing was just that I had low blood pressure, says the nurse, "80 over 60". Then I go in two and a half hours later to see the doctor and he looks into my mouth...bam! tonsillitis.... I don't know why I did not look before because it would have been obvious.. I could see myself after I finally looked that I had pus flowing out of my tonsils. It was disgusting. He didn't touch my neck but my neck hurt super bad and before I went into the office... my observation as a professional doctor.... was that they were super swollen (lymph nodes).
   So I am currently on tons of pills and feel 100% better.  (=  Mom I feel great now... really I do. I want to show you a picture of what the doctor gave me, hahahahaha. I was in bed all day on Friday and most of Saturday.  The doctor told me to be on bed rest for three days. I had tonsillitis is all he said. But I also had a HUGE headache and my whole body just killed and I was exhausted and I don't know what it was...but he said rest 3 days and the medicine will fix it all up. So I took the meds, and stayed in bed almost 2 days and I'm good.
   We are in a branch... all 8 of us missionaries. We have met some people but I am directionally challenged so learning the area is going to take time, haha. It's humbling for sure because here we are missionaries back in Tacloban and I was in an area that was affected by the storm and so I got to work with people that were humbled and ready. But here there was no real damage and so it's back to the "Hard Heads" hahah, excited ako!
   WOW!! that took forever... computers HATE me! Really. I'm on my 5th computer... see if this works. I did not know dad worked in the mission office as an elder.
   So here we go, opening up a new area or "white washing" for my 4th time in the mission, haha. I am not nearly as stressed this time so that's a huge positive. We do have one incredible investigator. Her name is Noema Delmonte, 20 years old and teacher in the making. She is absolutely prepared and thirsting for the truth. We have only taught her twice and because the language here is so different its a fairly entertaining scene. This is Waray area but its not really anything like the two other Waray languages I learned. Obviously there are similarities but its VERY unique- so I am excited to learn this language. Any way we taught her the first time about the Plan of Salvation and she was eating it up and loved how we could answer her questions so simple. Then the last time we wanted to make sure we had a good feel for where she was at spiritually and her understanding (because ward missionaries had already taught her the Restoration) and so we asked her about the Holy Ghost and tied that into Faith. It was incredible! The lesson was completely led by the spirit. We set her baptismal date for March 22 and she was slightly nervous and worried about getting baptized and the lesson was exactly what she needed to hear. I asked her to read Alma 32:26-30 and you could see this light just come into her eyes. We watched and literally could see her faith increase and rather than being full of fear she became excited and was so thankful, she then understood, that she did not have to have a perfect knowledge but slowly it would come. She is incredible and we are so excited for her to have the spirit to always be with her.
   Something that has hit me personally the hardest this week has been the Holy Ghost! I'm sorry if I already shared this with you but I just LOVE the Holy Ghost and boy have I taken Him for granted. He has been my constant companion my whole life and I didn't even notice it. But now, for some reason he is in my thoughts constantly because I am sooo happy! Its hard to explain but think about this ... the Holy Ghost testifies of truth right? He testifies of Jesus Christ. He comforts and uplifts. I cannot think of a single moment in my life that I have doubted that my Savior lives and that He loves me, that He suffered so that I can be clean and live with my family. That knowledge has always been a part of who I am... which IS the SPIRIT!! That is the spirit! I feel so silly that I never gave credit to the spirit for that knowledge, but its truth! And I LOVE the Holy Ghost... I cannot image a life where I am constantly questioning whether those things are true or not. How I love this Gospel! These last few days I have just been soo happy- to the point where I want to scream to the world! I love the Holy Ghost and I am so happy to be a missionary! We are in the RIGHT PLACE!!
   Sister Ralph