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 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

1 comment:

  1. It was probably difficult for many watching Jesus drive the money changers out from the temple to keep it from being defiled. Your valiant stand to rid the classroom of the bad spirit surely came across as dedication and love for the Lord's plan and His standards. Know that many saints are praying across the world for the missionaries in Tacloban and all you have endured. Stand fast and keep your faith strong - more blessings will come.