Tuesday, May 27, 2014

25 May 2014

Just a pretty scene I thought I would share. Since my mom is not here to talk to me (= haha Love you mom
Ok so here we go. Let's see... this week... well we talked to lots of Americans. One came up to me in the store from the back and scared me to death... can I just say that.... You don't start talking to people in YOUR language in a foreign land from their BACK! Grabe! I seriously jumped like 3 feet in the air. My companion laughed so hard at me. Another American we met as we were looking for less-actives in our area. This one was in a wheel chair and I'm not sure but I think he has elephantitis on his nose. I'm not saying that to joke or anything. He really did. But he had never seen Sister missionaries in these parts... only Elders. He told us that he was NOT catholic but that he was Christian. I said awesome! We are too!. 
This is what a LOT of the catholic kids wear when they go to church.
Not really sure why still. But they are cute (=
His immediate response with "No you are not" set the tone for the rest of the conversation. I just kept quiet but apparently my sass wore off on my companion as she asked him to READ our name tags with Christ's name tag. He went on to yet again explain our religion to us and how Joseph and Brigham are drunken thieves....  blah blah.. you know that story. My companion was fuming, hahahaha. I was laughing inside because normally that was me but this time... here this old, wheel-chaired man is not only here trying to tell us our religion is wrong but also trying to convince us that he has a great life here in the Philippines rather than in America. Oh please man.... look at your situation. I could not help but feel bad for him and my wrath would be put to better use elsewhere (joke). So I gave my companion the "it's ok" look and I just bore a simple testimony about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith and invited him to do what we have done and ask God for himself. The conversation ended smoothly and I was grateful for the spirit that I knew was with us. Missionary work is full of surprises and quite fun (=

Me and my companion earlier today at this fancy farm place we went to. 
I love my companion and I'm so happy we are still together. 
She is my mom and my baby, haha.
As you all can see my companion is quite gorgeous and so we have a little trouble yet again with the fellows. We were walking down this big hill-neighborhood one day and a tricycle drives up right next to us and offers us a ride. We said "no thanks", "free" he says. We don't need a ride, thank you, Brother. "Please sisters, I will come to church if you ride..."
Uhhh... Yucks! this whole time he is driving along side us and so I get behind his tricycle and start pushing it to move along. Go!!  I pushed him and then we stopped so that he would finally leave us alone. But then he stopped too and waited and pleaded. Gross! This man ... basta..... I gave him a quick little piece of my mind and then he left (= I love being me (=

This is the ocean view from our Branch Mission Leader's house. 
 We shared with the Ruiz family this week- just a sister and her kids. None of her kids are baptized but she and her husband were baptized many years ago. The sister, last time we taught, told us that she had some sort of ulcer and could not go to church. This time she told us boldly that the church was too cold because of the A.C. (you would be surprised how many people complain about the church being too cold from the A.C- funny huh?) So obviously we are not fooled by the backdrop of her concerns. We taught a powerful lesson. It was the first time in a while that I really felt the spirit work through us. I knew each of them could feel the spirit and there was no denying it. Those moments make every rejection, every hard moment worth it- when you know you are giving the same lesson Christ would give if He were here. We taught about the restoration and bore testimony of the blessings that we have experienced through living the gospel. It was obvious that sister was having a battle with the spirit when she finally brought up the fact that members are not very good people at the church. AHHH!! yet again... offended. Can I just tell you... the two biggest reasons why people here stop coming to church... offended and "busy." Satan... he is tricky. Funny he uses the SAME reasons and tools on just about everyone and it still continues to work. I wish I had a real success story for you that they came to church and repented, but pride takes time to conquer. But we are happy to know that the spirit was guiding the lesson and she has been invited yet again to come back and partake of the Love and blessings of the Gospel, line upon line. Real missionary work (=
This is our first baptism here in Sogod. Sister Melagros. She is super sweet and loves to talk. She really knows that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, She has great faith and we love her.

Like you saw in the picture we had a baptism of Sister Melagros Bation! She is a doll and loves the gospel. We are excited for her to partake of the blessings of the spirit over time. 

A little boy in our branch caught these two little birds 
and let us play with them, haha.  It's so tiny. 

So I was reading this talk that talked about one of the apostles who talked about how sins do not simply go away with time and that eventually they will have to be faced here or in the next life soo. Sorry that was random but this apostle was in his 40's or 50's when he realized that there was something in his childhood he had not been honest with his brother with when they were way young. And he asked forgiveness. I don't think I am an exception....

Ok! so Sister Melagros she is sister-in-law with Sister Bation a member. And Sister M is living with them at this time so we always teach at their house. They have three daughters and the oldest two married Americans who served here (weird huh?) and the third is still in school now but there are lots of immodest (not like BAD, but short skirts etc.) modeling pictures of her in the house. We were all talking after a lesson one time and Sister Bation was very adamant about how her youngest daughter was not allowed to date. I was rather shocked due to the fact that they would allow her to wear such clothing and I gave up my self control for a brief moment and let my mouth open and kind of just told her that if her daughter wants to marry a good husband than she better start dressing modest. Yea... we left and I did not feel super good about what I said, but I justified myself saying that it was true and someone needed to say it. Well that was Saturday morning and I did not give much thought to it after that. Sunday comes around and here we have RS first, Sunday school, then Sacrament. In R.S. Sister Bation is the teacher and the topic is on kindness. The spirit chastised me Hard. I felt terrible. I had this huge pride internal battle with myself in justifying and not needing to apologize. But then in the back of my mind, I knew I had to. I knew that the spirit was the one (just like in PMG it talks about how the spirit occupies the mind and presses on the feelings) I could not get what I did out of my head. I could not move on. I felt heavy-hearted, ugly and disappointed. I knew the spirit was working on me. I thought and thought about how I would bring it up to Sister Bastion and what I would say. I sat in Sunday school just wracked. I experienced what it talks about in the scriptures and in general conference talks about how sin really does CHAIN us down. It burdens us. It was almost this physical weight and I had to get rid of it. I wanted to talk to her right before Sacrament meeting but circumstances did not allow because we were randomly told that the missionaries were singing the rest hymn. So I cried through sacrament, got up and sang "Lead Kindly Light" and sat down still feeling the burden, but at this time I knew that nothing would stop me from asking her forgiveness and I knew that once I did the spirit would return. That freedom and peace would come back. Right after Sacrament meeting I got up and went straight to her and asked her forgiveness and hugged her. The spirit did come right back and I never want to feel like that again. I am so grateful for the spirit that not only guides but chastises and drives us to repent, to change. I was praying for opportunities to use and become more aware of the atonement in my life and my prayer was answered. I know the atonement of Jesus Christ is real, and even missionaries need not only the enabling but the redeeming power every single day. I love being a missionary and enjoying the companionship of the Holy Ghost. ..... mom its up to you whether to put that on the blog but I thought I would at least share with you. Thank you for loving me despite my countless faults and weaknesses. I love you mom. 

Please be safe!
 Love Sister Ralph

This picture is my companion during and after our companionship prayer, haha.
I tried to wake her up, I even shook her...useless. hahaha got to love her.

It took me a while to hold the rooster. It sounds dumb but after you have seen those puppies FIGHT! Cockfighting... I had good reason to be scared of it. So thankfully Elder Lum is patient with me. Elder Lowe got a video of me being all pathetic that I am exciting to see at some far distant point in the future
It took me a while but SUCCESS!! I held the rooster ... 
just quick enough for My companion to snap the pix, as you can tell.... 
I was not exactly enjoying myself hahahaha But I DID IT (=

This is Elder Lum, my zone leader. He has a talent with rabbits other than those shown here, haha. 
Apparently he can lay them down and make them knock out dead asleep. Crazy random talents haha.

The last pix is a monkey. We became friends real quick. I would throw cucumbers up at him and he would catch them and chew them like there was no tomorrow. Love the Philippines.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

18 May 2014

Wow Mom, you are on top of things. You are the best! Thank you for the email and update! I'm excited to be home so I CAN HELP you with all the chores around the house (I'm such a weird child to look forward to something like that).
   I very much appreciate you talking to Sister Carlson about me getting to work there. Anything at this point would be wonderful, but I realize I will need a job when I get home! Ahh! Stress. No, just kidding I'm not stressed, everything will work out.
   Oh Mom, Before I forget, I think we are going on a hike next week, so do not wait for me. I am not sure what time I will get on line. But do not forget that I love you.
This is us celebrating being together still with Smores in the Apartment.
We had to make some minor adjustments but we were happy with it(=
This one is a close up of me enjoying thoroughly my smore (=
This one is me having a BUKO shake- its from coconuts and you CAN NOT get this in america from my understanding (which... you know isnt always absolute haha). But its pretty good, 
I would recommend trying it. 
     So this week has been .... not sure if I quite have a word for it- different but good.
    This last Monday was amazing because I got to talk to my family. That night my companion was not feeling good at all and so I had some personal time. ... I took this time to reflect on my life and where I was at and where I wanted to be and what was most important to me, what I wanted in this life and the next, what I knew to be true. I am not sure why but for some reason I just felt this heaviness on my heart. I don't know if it was because we are opening an area and so the adjustment stage is a little slow and rough... its my fourth time opening an area though so you would think I would be champ at this point.... haha, nope. Basta....Even though I did not know what it was, I DID know that I needed divine help. I was upset with myself and my weaknesses. The things as a missionary I SHOULD be doing, but was lacking os struggling in. I got on my knees and POURED my whole heart and soul out. I can not tell you how much joy came to my heart from the simple words that came to my mind (more a reminder from my patriarchal blessing) "God knows your heart and your weaknesses". Those words filled my soul with a love that is so completely indescribable. In the Book of Mormon when the prophets (Alma) talks about their sorrow being swallowed up in Christ... that is exactly how I felt. I felt safe and loved. I Know with out a doubt that my Heavenly Father hears my prayers, He knows my heart and He is patient with me. How I love Him!
This is a bread shop. They make bread in shapes of different animals.
Pigs, turtles, you name it, haha, neat-O.
These are the only cute and HAIR filled puppies I have seen in the Philippines
-- Here in Sogod (=   
The dad is a lab. 
More puppies hahahahah THEY ARE SOO CUTE!
and I missed the ones at my own house soooo.... God is very kind
   We have a less active family that we have been teaching and her son's name is JesNeph haha Combo of Jesus and Nephi. She said she wants him to remember the be righteous always because of his name. She is a strong woman and she is a good example to me of true faith. Her kids make me laugh too (=
   People in the Philippines are SIMPLE minded people. She is trying. I just thought the name thing was funny.. so I shared. She came to church (=
   He is 4 but he is special so he looks like he is 2 and his eyes are .... it looks like he has giant white cataracts

   Ok, this week I got to become a certified teacher. Our sister leaders come over and they have this big certification process that no one likes to do haha, but it's what our president asked us to do... so we obey! And I passed woot, woot. Sister Hogge is the one to pass me and I love her so much. We learned a lot from each other and I appreciate her so much!

   Sister Bray and I had a neat experience this last Friday. (The background to this story is that Sister Ralph has been feeling guilty for not talking to as many people as she should or could have since being here in Sogod.) Sooo...Because we are opening an area and the members are busy this week things have been going slow but we still are driven to do all we can. We have a curfew at 7PM though for sisters because there have been problems in the past etc... etc... etc. and this night we had gone everywhere we had planned and (it gets dark at 6pm every night) we wanted to keep working but we did not know what to do and felt stupid with only 20 minutes left. We looked at each other on the side of the road and Sister Bray (who I love to death) said "Lets pray." She said a prayer that was sincere and simple. We told Heavenly Father that we did NOT want to go home, we wanted to work, but were unsure what to do, we asked for guidance and faith to move forward. After the prayer, Sister Bray in all her cuteness said "where is the north star?" hahaha -She, knowing that I love the stars. I pointed it out and she said great, let's go that way. So we went...
   We walked for less than a minute and these two girls were walking the opposite direction- obviously in the middle of an intense conversation. But I looked at them and I let them pass. ...... ..... I did not SAY ANYTHING!! I was sooo mad at myself! What am I doing? What did we just pray for?? Who are we? Why am I asking for help if I am not willing to do anything about it! I tell people every day that they have to have the faith in order to make their prayers become a reality and what the heck am I doing. Gosh! Sister Ralph! You are such a hypocrite! I was done! That is not true repentance, Sister Ralph! Make it happen! The two sisters were already gone, but I saw another girl out of the corner of my eye and despite how incredibly awkward or weird I was approaching this girl, I was going to open my mouth! She was willing to listen and we set a return appt., We left and walked ten feet and I saw another group of girls... HERE WE GO SIS Bray! Two return appts -BOOM! I have a testimony that WE CHOOSE to make our prayers become a reality. God blesses and guides us and answers our prayers depending on our willingness to change, to act and to follow. How I love prayer. How I l appreciate how Patient my Father in Heaven is with me as things slowly... ever so slowly click (=
This picture is of a fruit. It's called jackfruit and THIS
my Dear Brothers and Sisters is Juicy Fruit GUM!
I tasted it and my mind was BLOWN! I was eating Juicy fruit gum....
 but it was fruit. I had to convince myself that it was actually fruit
that was good for me and not just sugar
ruining my teeth hahah CRAZZY!! Love the Philippines!
 We were invited to a dinner (all 6 of us missionaries) one night this week and I enjoyed talking with the family for a bit. I don't know what it is about their little boy- I think he is almost 4 years old, but he just loves me... in this weird way. He always finds me at church or wherever and just stares at me. And then waits for my attention. hahaha I ate quickly and we played airplanes on the ground while the more MATURE kids had adult talk at the table..... I was where I belong I feel, hahaha.

   I really do love being a missionary. I know it is way hard. I hate that I can't talk to you whenever I want, I can't get a hug or listen to you scream my name on the phone, I don't really know what's going on in the lives of my siblings, my grandparents, my parents and the people I love, I'm missing my family grow up and become closer. But I am so so happy to be here. I'm so Happy and humbled that My Savior trusts me enough to be here and represent Him. I love the Book of Mormon so much. It truly has become my anchor for my testimony. I know this is the work of God on the earth today and even though I have absolutely NO idea HOW it's possible...I just know that it is. And that's enough for me. Let's endure to the End together. Finish Strong together! We are an eternal Family because of Jesus Christ.

I love you all!
Sister Ralph
Add caption

Monday, May 12, 2014

11 May 2014 -- Mother's Day

So I was transferred. I left the awesome zone of Borongan and am now in Sogod. We are my companion are still companions and are sooo happy about that! We went from Waray H to Cebuano J and its been an adventure. Its beautiful here, we are excited for whatever adventures come our way. 
This picture is Elder Burton, Elder Murdock and Elder Stead in the room that we had already taken out most of the junk, but we found..... THE RAT!
The second picture is when the rat came out of the room and hid in this little closest- please take note to the stance of Elder Burton- BAHAHAHAH!!!
This is Sister Maricel and her cute kids. We were only able to teach her a few times but I wish you all could have seen the way she read the Book of Mormon Introduction and testimonies for the first time. She read with her whole soul and when she didn't understand, she went back, she questioned, she asked and she learned. Ah! I love her so much, I learned so much from her and I know her time will come. 
This is the Calos family. It was rough saying goodbye. They are an INCREDIBLE family. Every time we taught them there was just this incredible peace that I have not consistently felt anywhere else. Leny has a baptismal date for May 24th and her Mom is now coming to church with her and Sister Bernadeth! How I  and will miss them! love 

This is the Ducena family. These people make me soooo happy! I feel so loved when I am with them. They gave me an opportunity to really see how the Gospel can change people and how it really should be central to our lives. They were so willing to do anything and everything to follow our Savior. I love and miss them sooo much! sorry for the bad picture but we all were teary messes.    
Sorry I can't attach any more pictures because the computer is being slow.
     But I LOVE MY FAMILY! You ALL are the most incredible beautiful people in the world. I love the way we are. I love that we are together forever! Just like what President Eyring said-- that is where my TRUE happiness comes from.
     I want to wish all the Mothers in My Life a HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!!! Thank you for the examples you are to me! I hope you all know how loved and appreciated you are.

Monday, May 5, 2014

4 May 2014 -- Learning Experiences

The Tacloban Philippines Mission

This is me, and Sisters Estes, Sousa, Brown and Robinson-
they are most of my batch.
THis week has been... fun, good, weird hahah

     It started off with going back to Tacloban for the mission tour and BOY, it was good! Nope- my awesome Zone leader Elder Murdock bought me medicine so the travel was so much better. He is the best. The conference was amazing! I learned so much! President and Sister Nielsen really do love us so much! They only have a few months left before they will be reassigned to work in SLC. But they just make me feel so loved. They told us that when the storm hit they were with another mission in the Philippines and all of them knelt together and prayed in our behalf... grabe... the love that has been out poured to us Tacloban missionaries is a miracle and just indescribable.
My batch.
     He talked about raising expectations and the focus was on Elder Eyring's talk "Mountains to Climb." He opened it up for discussion at the end and questions. I read the talk about 10 times and really studied it. He talked about having the foundation of faith embedded in us in order to have the power to endure. And he talked about how he had prayed for trials so he could show his faith. And for me... I think this is the same for most missionaries... but one of our biggest fears is that our family members will die while we are out. I have no idea why it is this way. But from day one... it's always that back of the mind thought. So I asked him.... I asked him if I lacked faith because I did not pray for trials in the fear that He would take one of my family members from me....
Me and Elder Burton (for his mom).
     President told me that "No"... I do not need to pray for trials and that they will come and I just need to pray for the strength to endure well whatever comes my way. He knows what is best and like President Eyring said, he was unwise to pray for trials so soon in life. I can handle that, hahaha. Well... I mean I will try my best.
     Well, this week we met a Pilipino from Manila, but who grew up in CA and is now here in Borongan, haha, so we were totally thrown off when we met him and talked to him in English. His name is Mo and he is 29 years old. He really wants to learn and read the Book of Mormon so we are excited for his progression.
Sister Estes is one of my favorite people in the world.
She and I, whenever we see each other (which is VERY rare).
We just laugh and laugh and laugh.
I can't wait to spend time with her after the mission at BYU.
     We have been going back to the Ducena family almost every day to help strengthen them. We taught them how to have family prayer, one of my favorite scenes so far here in the field, a complete family with a member and two sister missionaries kneeling together in a circle, holding hands and the man of the house offering a sweet prayer. Wow... I love being a missionary!
     Before we taught them about prayer, we showed up one night and taught them a lesson about fasting. It was near the end when Jojo the man of the house showed up a little bit drunk. We didn't notice until we saw the sister's face of extreme disappointment and hurt. Brother Jojo saw us and pulled his shirt over his head to hide his face from us. He just apologized over and over. After the lesson Sister explained that he had not drunken in a long time but his co-workers pressured him into it that night. Brother could not stay for the lesson because he was so upset, He went to the back of the house and just bawled his eyes out. This man is a beast, the elders call him The Truck Thrower because he is pure rock, his arms barely fit in his shirt... yet here he was just weeping like a child. He knew he made a mistake and we hope this will be a big wake up call for him... well we know it helped. Every night since then when we come to his house he has been reading the Book of Mormon. Repentance is a BEAUTIFUL gift.
This other picture- might look a little familiar, my two favorite Elders from the beginning- Elder Carling and Elder Keate. Awesome missionaries who are amazing zone leaders and examples to me. 

We got to meet our first black man here.
He is from Liberia and he is awesome-
just pretend like there is no beer bottle on the counter.

     Ok, so now for the main experience of my week, just yesterday actually. Fast Sunday! It was about the 4th speaker to go up. His name is Michael and he was baptized about a year ago. He afterwards got baptized in another church and recently started coming to church with us about 2 weeks ago. He brings his (other) Holy Bible and normally asks or comments really off topic things in Gospel Essentials class. But this time... it's in sacrament and honestly.. I did not understand everything he said because he is from somewhere else but it was not a testimony. He got up and talked about liars and going to other churches and ..... basta... it was NOT good. The 2nd counselor got up right after and asked that Members share their TESTIMONIES! It was ok... don't fear because THEN, one of the Elder's INCREDIBLE investigators got up and bore this powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon and how it has changed his life. We all took a sigh of relief..... AND THEN....
This other picture is a game the little kids always play
with rubber bands on the floor.
They try to blow air by slapping the ground a certain way
and move the rubber bands.
I'm terrible at it but this 6 year old boy was a beast!
 Soooo ... we go into gospel essentials and everything is going normal and the lesson is being taught by our BML (branch mission leader) about the apostasy and the restoration of the gospel. Michael sits in the back and he is listening and every once in a while opens up his bible. He asks questions, but at this point everyone is aware that his questions are normally... different and we just have to be patient with him. It's been about 45 minutes into the lesson and BML is about to close and Michael stands up and asks if he can share something that will clarify the great apostasy. The BML was hesitant at first of course but he finally agreed. Michael took out his laptop and went to the front of the class room. We all looked at each other like... what is he doing??? I got up and moved to the back standing so I could see. He played this clip with this obviously Christian or other religious song in the background as he talks - almost as if he had memorized whatever it was he was saying. The clip was about what happened to the Christians after the life of Christ. Within 20 seconds what I saw was Women being dragged on the ground and molested and beaten by soldiers, they were thrown and tied on a tree and burned. Men and women were being crucified and bodies were hanging everywhere like dried leaves... it was the most disgusting and horrifying thing I have seen. After those first 20 seconds I was SOOO 100% done. I interrupted him and said STOP! TURN IT OFF RIGHT NOW! I was furious! He did not listen...so I got up and went to the front of the class of about 25 people and Said THAT IS ENOUGH! We are not watching ANY more of this! If you want to talk you can talk, but WE are NOT watching this!! Everyone just kind of stared as I continued to persist that enough was enough! Eventually he sat down and the BML closed the class. Everyone left and Michael came up to me and said he did not understand why I would not let him finish the video. I explained that he was not the teacher, the teachers are called and they teach the lesson. I told him that we focus on Jesus Christ and there was an evil spirit in that video. We come to church to feel the spirit, to be edified and uplifted and I will not let my investigators have any other experience. He kindly thanked me and left. I stayed and cried for a few more minutes.
This is a picture someone drew of that picture 
that was taken after the storm and sent it to Sister Webber,
- crazy good huh?
     I don't really know how to explain why I cried so hard. I know I could have handled the situation better but I was so upset and I just knew there was no spirit. The absence of the spirit disgusted me. I felt sick. I struggled though to explain to the investigators in the class WHY...why I responded that way. Why was it not good? Because he wasn't trying to be evil, he just was trying to teach to his understanding... but I was not willing to let that .... AHH! It was all about how I felt. And I responded. I hope they understand that I did that because I love them. AHH I pray they understand that!
     I tried to talk to him calmly, but you know when I get all emotional.. I tend to not think logically. I did not think about him unfortunately when I did that... I was thinking about the spirit in the room and just freaked. GAH! yesterday was rough. Mom... there is NO way I will watch that movie again. I cannot explain to you how bad it was. It was all focused on the gore of what they had to go through and nothing good, nothing about Christ.. I can't handle it. Any ways, sorry this was kind of a downer, but I'm learning a lot about myself through my mistakes and experiences.
     I have no negative feelings toward him at all. Honestly. I know he is confused but I still love him like any one. I deal with confused people all day every day. To me.... after the fact what came into my head was... growing up... if we were watching a movie dad always seemed to come home in that ONE STUPID little part where the girl was dressed immodestly. He never said Oh it's up to you to watch this or not, He said "TURN IT OFF, that's not appropriate!" It's obviously not in the moment but years later when I can say HOW grateful I am that my parents did that for me. They set that standard and helped me avoid all forms of evil.
     Any way... sorry this week is not super inspiring... but I'm learning a lot.

   Sister Ralph