Monday, July 28, 2014

27 July 2014 -- Happy Birthday Samuel!

 I'm good. I've had a small cough and runny nose the whole week but I feel good. The weather is rain and rain and rain which is making work a challenge but what would missionary work be without that? YOU SAW Simone and Shermena??? Oh I miss them! How are they doing?
   I ripped AS IN RIPPED straight through my leather and only shoes due to walking in the mud for a good two miles, haha, and I know I'm not going to get any better because my feet are ALWAYS wet. I still wear them, haha, I have no choice. I'm going to attempt to sew them later but.... it's going to look ... fantastic.
2 transfers left... I am NOT buying new shoes now, haha. They still work, they just have a big hole in the front side. I will try the dental floss if I can get a GIANT needle, haha. I have no idea where but we will see.   I will take a picture and send it next week of my shoe.
   What are the plans for Samuel's birthday?? It's his birthday TODAY in the Philippines so HAPPPPPPPYYYYY Birthday Samuel! Love you to pieces! Jess said this reunion is turning into a really big deal and it wasn't supposed to be at first, haha Oh I love our family. What game are you playing? Hand and foot? I'm so excited to play that. 
This pig just gave birth the night before. This little boy is names Jacob and he is the oldest son of one of our new investigators. He has a behavioral problem but look at how sweet he is. He likes to play with the pigs ears.

 These are some part member kids that we have been teaching. 
   Samuel-- I saw this (the Lakers jersey in the first pix) and thought of you and I could not resist. I am so grateful you are my little brother. I think about you every day and remember when you were little and there was nothing else in the world that made me happier than holding you. You would wear that adorable little green onsie with the dog on in and we all knew there was nothing cuter in the entire world. Now you are growing up and remain to be a light and joy to your family. I hope you know how much we love you and treasure you! Thank you for being a part of my life! I hope you have an amazing Birthday!! I'm singing for you half way around the world.
   WOW! You had your birthday interview with the bishop. That's awesome Samuel- how did it go?
   So mom, another week with not a whole TON to report. The rain has really been making it difficult to get around and people do not come to church when it rains so..... yea BUT regardless we are happy and preparing for this week. We were able to do a few CSP's this week which was a lot of fun- we tore down a few walls and cleaned up. Me and my companion decided this last week we really, really wanted a family to teach. And Heavenly Father was SO kind to us and answered our prayer with a cherry on top. We were just walking along one day, barely got out of an appointment and this guy, without a shirt on, said "Do you know Sister Campbell?"(in Visaya) and we stopped and talked to him and he told us how he had met her in Biliran a while ago and he still had the Book of Mormon that he Loved. He let us in and we talked to him and his whole family and they were receptive! The Quijano family! WOW! I love my life soooo much! We continued on teaching our other appointments and met another family, the Rojas family who- the sister was taught 3 lessons by elders a long time ago- but she remembered and asked us for another Book of Mormon. She wants to take it slow but is SOO very willing and hungrying after the gospel! WOW! blessings! I love my life sooo much! Who says there isn't a God? I just got full proof that there is a God and He loves me and answers my prayers! Believing is Seeing!
This is Sister Campbell, she is my sister training leader and my house mate.
I love her so much! She is going home today!!! AHH!!

   We got a call from the AP and I will be training again. My THIRD ANAK!! WOOT WOOT! so that will be the news for this coming week. Pray for me please!
      She is transferring (my comp) yes but not till Thursday.
   This last Thursday I went to Tacloban to get training from President Maurer- it was for all the trainers. I was the only one who would be training for their third time and it made me feel SUPER OLD! AH! Lagas ko! But we talked about the angel Moroni and his interactions with Joseph Smith, to apply to how we should be training. I got some really good insights and am excited in a nervous kind of way. I was told that Jodee Newton (who was in the MTC with me and went home) is coming in this batch... that would be crazy if I got to train her. It's weird knowing that I will die in my area where I am now. It will be the longest I will ever be in an area for my whole mission.    Exciting news again is actually the same with Brother Panciano. He was the recent convert that went less active and is coming back. Its amazing to watch his attitude, his appearance change. He comes to all the activities and even told his boss this week that he could not work on Sundays. He comes early to church and wore a white polo for the first time. You should have seen his face when one of the Elders gave him a tie... he was glowing! I love missionary work!  The training was short and sweet, but good reminders. Its so weird to see just how different President Andaya and President Maurer are but we love them both.
   I am blessed. When you train normally you train them for 12 weeks in the same area. So yes I know I'm staying here. The only reason I've been in so many areas was because there were soooo many PASAWAY or BAD trainers or missionaries... things had to get moved around. But that's not normal.
   Sorry mom .... that's about all I got for you . I'm so lame, haha.
Michelle finally emailed me. That was sweet of her. It's nice hearing from family every once in a while. (I mean outside my immediate family) Basta, I will let you all get back to your FAMILY GAME...,. prepare yourselves for when I come home.... you are going to need to warm up (;

Can anyone find me in this picture? haha.

    Sister Ralph

Monday, July 21, 2014

20 July 2014 -- Raining Blessings

    Welcome to the Philippines. This is a picture at the market at the beginning of the storm (Henry)- it flooded but not wind so it was ok (=

BASTA vball... bball..... the moral is the same hahaha.

    We had a little fun playing Bball. You will notice the incredible difference in my two inch vertical and Elders 3 foot vertical.... but thanks to lots of practice and work ... the ball still goes down on the offensive side. What are we to learn from this picture? By small (or short) and simple things are great things brought to pass. Never Fear- David slayed Goliath (= hahahahaha 
This is the Demeterio family- the super poor one with triplets that I talked about last week or the week before. We went and had FHE with them and look at those faces (= The gospel is sooo very true. Not coming back to church yet but we got them happy for the night. Baby steps, mom, baby steps.
 This is my zone with my new mission president. We all got to meet him for the first time. He is a sweetheart. It was crazy.... he has a very paternal feeling about him. It was like he automatically took the place of my 2nd Dad-- It's hard to explain, but I am excited to get to know him. President Maurer but pronounced MOR-A. They are young and good and happy. I think Sister M (Sister Maurer... my sister mission president) really would rather be with her children - I don't blame her. They are still a young family but all great!
Sister Tierra and I walked about 2 miles up hill... there is a picture with me holding the umbrella in order to get to their small house out in the bukid. ....Miracles are everywhere!
    Last Monday the storm began and we were in a store that I would compare to Wal-Mart when the POWER went OUT literally... everything! Imagine being in Wal-Mart and the power go out... hahaha it was hilarious, scary and just weird all together. 
Due to having to do this all day on Saturday- being soaking wet the entire day, I am now tired and got a runny nose. But we made the most of it and enjoyed the day teaching as many people that we could reach

It's been colder and PURE rain this week-
so yes we walk and now run in the rain haha. 
That is my feet after Saturday walking with soaking wet shoes all day,
 hahaha. I LOVE missionary work.
    Well I don't know about miracles but here is my week...  Something I would consider a miracle is Brother Pansiano. He was baptized a year ago and then stopped coming to church. Missionaries went to visit him, but he did not receive them- some of the nicest missionaries I know were so very frustrated with him. But we were blessed and the timing was right. We showed up and right away he received us. He helps us teach his neighbor now, joins us in random FHE's, is coming to church and other activities and preparing for a mission. I am so happy for him and Love watching the spirit work in him, especially as he bears testimony in lessons. He writes notes about his scripture study and talks to us about it when we see him. I LOVE the GOSPEL so much!
So the cute little Filipina with me in the green and brown and her family. She is a recent convert as in RECENT June 21 but she is going to school in Manila. She was online FB and clicked LIKE IT on a Mormon ad and got all these comments-good and bad. That caused her to look for a church in her area. She searched -walking for 7 hours in her area until she finally found the church. The spirit told her not to leave. She went inside and felt so good. She came back ALL by herself to church, met with missionaries and got baptized a month later. She is now preparing to serve a mission and flew all the way here to Ormoc just to bring the missionaries to teach her family. She is going back to Manila today. She is AMAZING! 
   I have a funny story. Sooo mom... you remember (probably you don't but its true) how I would have this thing at home about tasting mold in random foods. I would try something like bread or milk and I would be the only one who could taste it and no one else would. The sisters in our apartment bought bread and I took a piece and put PB on it and put it in my mouth and right away spit it out because it was sooo nasty- I could taste mold. Even though I couldn't see it. I told the sisters and they decided that they would go ahead and eat it. Sister C had two pieces and Sister D had 6........ 2-3 days later Sister C is sick and has a runny nose and nasty... Sister D was SO sick they took her to the hospital. She came back and they told her it was bacterial. I did not put the pieces together, until later Sister C randomly came up into our room and said "WAIT a Minute... Sister Ralph that bread you told us not to eat... bacteria is mold right?" I just DIED of LAUGHTER! literally... I fell asleep laughing. I know that's terrible but... Sister Ralph has the magical taste buds.... Do not doubt, only believe, hahahahaha.
Current picture of me and Sister Tierra.
    Another Awesome investigator we got this week is Nildie! No real details yet but she is amazing! She just is one of those investigators that just GETS it! We committed her to baptism and the Spirit was a spirit of Learning and Power. We have not been able to go back yet because their neighborhood is one big swimming pool but we have HIGH hopes for her. She has been prepared for sure.
    The last thing that I can think of, that happened this week, was just yesterday.... because it rained the attendance at church was like half, including the speakers. So guess who got asked to speak 2 seconds before the opening prayer. Believe it or not I still get SO nervous giving talks and ESPECIALLY Very unprepared talks. So of course I had my first reaction freak out of "That's a JOKE right???" No, Sister Ralph, you are speaking. I took a deep breath, prayed and remembered that my focus for this month is increasing my Trust in my Savior, not in myself. So I prayed more and thought back on my personal study. At first I was confused and unsure what to share, even when I went to the front. But slowly it just came until the Atonement just seemed to speak to me. I got up to the pulpit and in my broken Visaya gave a talk. I literally had EVERYONE's attention (another miracle in the Philippines) and by the end there were smiles and wet eyes in the audience. I do not always understand the Spirit, how it works or even how the Atonement works. I simply know it does. I know there is power and blessings from our personal sincere daily study of the scriptures. I can't tell you how many times I studied exactly what I needed to share with a LA or investigator that same day. I know that the talk was inspired and more than anything- I needed to hear it and feel it for myself. I love the Spirit. I love the covenants we are able to make with our Father in Heaven- that we never need doubt he will support us, comfort us and ENABLE us. I love being a missionary and I plan on being one the rest of my life!
    I also have another story but its for journals not for emails..... But for you I will just say.... SOMETIMES.... Elders ..... are.......... whats the word I am looking for?..........................RIDICULOUS.
You have NO idea mom... I'm not even going to try and explain it. That's HOW bad it is. BASTA! We are still happy and just keep pushing along. 
    I will do my best! Daddy! I showed a bunch of people a picture of you this week and they ALL think you are gwapo! haha, it always made me laugh. Mom, you look amazing in those pictures! Please get some sleep! Enjoy the rest of your dinner.... I only can dream about those foods for now. Until I come home and you all get to try MY creations, hahaha. I love you all and pray for you! Be safe!!! All my Love,
Sister Ralph

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

13 June 2014 - Ormoc

Mom you wanted the Philippines.... here it is from Ormoc. Just imagine how beautiful it would have been before the storm Raged through this place. It's super hot and sunny but the rain comes in seconds and leaves in seconds.
These are the areas that we work in everyday. I love all of them.

      This week was eventful and yet not at the same time, haha. I got to go on exchanges with my STL Sister Campbell and learned so much from her. She helped me so much!
    So this week we were teaching one of our investigators. It's actually a beautiful couple (Abad), who has so much potential, and we are excited for them. Our goal is baptism on Aug 9. We left their house and walked about 15 feet and saw their neighbor outside. We went and talked to her and it started to rain and so she let us into her house. We met her daughter and husband. I loved this family from the moment we sat down and started talking. They said they had no problem with letting us share. Even though they are very Catholic they are not like other families that won't listen to others faiths. So that got me excited! We began at the beginning with the Godhead and wanted to be clear that they are 3 separate individuals. Many Catholics listen to us say that, but do not understand that its legitimately 3, not one but really three. We continued with how the gospel will bless their families.... Apostasy, Joseph Smith and cannot describe to you the power that I felt. Everything we taught...we were given the words. The message could not have been made more clear- I have zero doubt of this. It was eating inside me how the spirit burned and I knew they were feeling it. Our message came to the end and Sister replied..... I was born Catholic and we are Catholic. My heart shattered. I knew she felt it. I knew she could see the truth, maybe not perfectly clear but there was no mistake, no confusion. My love for this family and their lack of understanding left me in tears. I had never met this family in my life but my heart literally ... ahh... what a sweet reminder. It's true. This work does not get any easier, but better. I am grateful to be a servant for the Lord and to have the smallest taste of how He feels when we turn from truth. I know beyond my ability to explain that Jesus Christ is the head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the atonement is available to all who will come and partake.
This is a Filipino flower but I forgot what it is called. 
These are just a few tender mercies and things I will miss. 
    The work is coming along. Our teaching pool is increasing every week through getting referrals which is a miracle. We are having LA's come back to church too. I still get super lost in the city but our other areas are wonderful!  OH.,, I did get my first door slammed in my face this week. It was not a good feeling. I seriously had to take a minute to recover, hahahha, sounds pathetic to you but this is the PHILIPPINES! That doesn't happen. But at least I can say I experienced it. 

   The triplets.... ok. I went back once since our first visit and brought a snack and we are going to FHE with them tonight. we will see what happens.
This random picture with the egg shells.... that's SOOOOO Filipino. They put random egg shells on their pots and things outside their houses... just for design, hahah. Oh how I love the Philippines (=
 Hahaha, I actually bought cardigans here- 4.... because I bought 5 for less than 10 dollars. And I love them all. So I am so glad I'm coming back when it gets cold. Mom I don't need clothes! Don't spend any money on that. I will need plenty of other things.. AHH!! So much for not thinking about the future, hahaha. 
Philippines yet again.
Yes that is a bunch of turkeys hanging out in a bush.
They were creepy.
I thought they were going to attack me
when I took their picture, haha. Oh the things you see.
   Haha, ohhh, how I love you and daddy. I'm glad you are so attached and miss each other. I hope that I can find someone like that too, I'm trying not to think about that though.
Mom... how do you feel about that... I mean the importance of a mission vs. the after mission life?
    Thank you mom for sharing. My problem... in my head right now is just that I really want to be a mom so bad. Over and over and over again they keep telling me that this will be the best time of my life and that this is the most important thing in the world,... don't misunderstand, I LOVE this work so much! I love being here and serving. But I would still rather be with my kids teaching them in my own home. AH!
Dad, mom says she loves and misses you and HI! Haha, I'm slightly confused how both of you are talking to me on the same account.
   Mom, that's what scares me. My p blessing says choose carefully. Its so almost unbelievable to imagine there is someone who will look PAST what they SEE and love me for ME AND THEN want the same things I want. Someone who will support and love me, that for dates I will want to read scriptures and serve people rather than go to a restaurant or spend money at the bowling alley. Someone at the same time who measures up to my family and who is better than what I've dated in the past. It just ,.... it's hard not to think about it slightly because I have such little time left, my house mate is going home in 20 days and I'm older than most of these girls. I've been in the race before. BLAH!  
  Go take care of my Pops! I will try to write more next week mom. Sorry that for some reason the writing has gotten so much shorter. I'm trying my best though...I'm learning how to repent a little better each day. Thank you for your love and example. I love you, take care! BE SAFE!
Sister Sarah Ralph

6 June 2014 - Ups and Downs

So this week has actually been amazing. It's had its emotional ups and downs but progressing for sure. We have so many more investigators and the members really love us-so referrals are coming in (= One of the sisters in the ward that I have been privileged to get to know is Sister Mercyln. She is in her 30's and has one little boy. Her husband committed suicide about a month ago. He hung himself right above their bed where she sleeps every night and right where we teach her and her brother-in-law and his wife. She is amazing! She puts on a smile and just is so positive. She literally never stops smiling. The way she is dealing with the pain at this point is reading her scriptures constantly and sharing the gospel. Her brother-in-law and his wife are now our investigators and are progressing. The lessons have been powerful, especially as Sister Mercyln testifies of the power of the Book of Mormon. She is a witness of the truthfulness of the gospel and I am so grateful to observe her and watch as she literally puts all her trust and faith in our Savior. We are such a blessed people.
   The brother-in-law (Brother Abad) the one we are teaching... his brother is the one that hung himself. He had bruises all over his back and legs when she found him hanging in their room. No one saw or heard though. So our investigator is not sure if it was suicide or not. It's really sad.
    About my new area, Ormoc has no beach. It's a ward. We walk in CITY as IN CITY!! and then bukid or mountain or out in the beautiful area of the country. I do NOT like the city. I am such a bukid girl. The skies, the air, the trees, the hills....that is where I feel at home.  There is the ocean right there but no sand. It is a seaport. They said there was another BIG storm on its way to Japan that might come this way but I think it passed. 
This is what we do to get to some of our investigators.... welcome to the Philippines. No, the water is NOT clean.

Medalla Family
This is the Medalla family. We had an FHE with them and how I love them. They remind me of home so much, loud and noisy, always opinions flying back and forth, but still laughter. Oh man! Family is such a beautiful thing. I love this family. 

The second picture is of triplets in my area. They are a very large and poor less-active family. When I showed up at their house this week my heart just broke. These three year old triplets just stay in this little cage type pin while the oldest sisters rocks the little boy and cleans and does everything around the house. She stopped schooling at 4th grade to help her family. Her parents work all day and... ah, I just wanted so badly to do something temporarily for them. But I could not. We shared a message and want to do all we can spiritually to uplift and bless them. We know with assuredness that despite their hardships, if they applied the gospel and lived it they would be so much happier. Many tears fell for this family but we are eager to help them come unto their Savior and find the peace and joy the gospel has to offer all the obedient. 
   They need food, clothing and housing but.... I don't know. The spirit there was just soo..... I almost would use the word ugly... like they dismissed God from their lives and literally are trying to do it all on their own. Those three little girls.... when I walked up did not change expression or anything. It was like a ghost almost walked in. They don't talk... ever. They are so deprived of just love, real love and care. Too often kids here are really just looked at as burdens rather than gems of life, the reasons for our happiness. I just held them one at a time and stroked their hair and cradled them and just some form of stimulation. I seriously was dying inside. I wanted to take them home so bad. I felt like I could see into their futures mom... we went home that night and I just lost it. I want to be a mom so bad, but experiences  like that just make me want to adopt the world.

  I don't know if I mentioned this before but I have a crush in every area. They are always about the age of 6-2. This happens to be the crush of my Ormoc area. He is the son of our investigators. And I LOVE HIM! He always plays with the holes in my socks while we are teaching lessons hahaha. Oh, the tender mercies of missionary life. 

This is how we celebrated 4th of July. We searched and searched for American food and were very unsuccessful... even just a burger. Nothing. So we settled with Dunkin' Doughnuts. I love America still (= 

This is at my Bishops house. We have FHE there on Sunday nights and yes he is very well-off. This picture us of me willfully and choosing to eat squid. A full blown squid ... It tastes just like chicken. The Philippines is changing me (=  

      Mom! Your hair is sooooo long!  Twins kita (It means we are twins! hahah). Is that enough for this week? Sorry it's lacking. I just don't have much more to say but if it was really that bad I will whip out something, haha. 
    So I have a new niece, Oakley May Heath. Nice job, Lizzy.  Haha Dad Your Honey misses you too. You can do it Dad! She will come home soon. Haha, I bet you are grateful that I, rather than mom, am going to Texas in November, huh? Haha, haha. Oh Sister Atwood! I love her! Tell her Hi for me (= How is it having Benjamin back? Dad, haha, I'm glad you got a little bit more spunk put back into your life with Benjamin home. Now your responsibility is to keep him ALIVE until I get home. Ok? 
   Benjamin, I have to go now... about those kisses.... make sure they are from Jersey Ok? hahahaha. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!! I will try to remember to take more pictures for you, mom. I am always safe... I'm the biggest thing in these parts of the world, haha. I love you all!! Take care till next week! (= LIZ!! IM SOOOO HAPPY FOR YOU!! Everyone who can give her a hug and kiss for me! I will come hold Oakley soon (= LOVE YOU!

Sister Ralph