Sunday, September 28, 2014

28 September 2014 -- Less than a month to go

Mom, I got the banner in the mail. It was perfect timing so thank you so much. I needed it. It was right after I found out I was flying alone to go home and I just kind of lost it and it was what I needed to kind of pick me up again.
As for our trip last week, I honestly do not know why I need to be finger printed. Security I guess. All the foreigners who are going home...This is hilarious because we were at the airport in Tacloban and the guy at the scanning machine goes through Sister Sousa's bag and finds a tampon and takes it out and stares at it and asks what it is and keeps playing with it.
Airport Security check
I had to take a picture because we were all dying of laughter trying to explain what it was to him at a security entrance, hahaha, they don't have them here, haha. Good times.
My batch and my babies (anaks).
      It was sooo much fun to be in Tacloban with my anaks- I have a picture of all my posterity and I am so proud of them. They are the hardest working missionaries and just doing WORK! Manila was ... quick and good. It was nice to talk to my batch but it was like we were going home and I did not like that.
But I got to sit next to a man on the plane and taught him the whole first lesson and gave him a book of mormon and he was really interested and asks fantastic questions so I REALLY loved that. Missionary work is the best and its SOOO much better when you know what you are supposed to say hahah. Missions are the best! The man I met on the plane is from Samar and I got his number and am following up with him. It was so fun being able to turn pages in the Book of Mormon for him to read to answer his questions... that is what is one of my favorite feelings in the whole world.
These are my two children in the Tacloban mission, the other is still in Bacolod but she writes me and is doing wonderful. I can't tell you how proud I am of both of these sisters. They have changed my life so much.

     I learned a lot about love this week. My anak is the one who reminded me. I just let Satan get in for a second and let me believe that I was not having success in the area because I was doing something wrong and I did not love my investigators the way I should. I did a lot of pondering and praying and I am back! I do love my investigators; I love them so much... I just need to express that love through patience. I am NOT the most patient person in the world and Heavenly Father is giving me MANY opportunities to improve. Patience is one of the most beautiful ways to express love though and I am excited to improve.
The trip to Manila to be finger printed. All the missionaries going home in the next transfer.
 This is in Manila. This is the president of Mexico.
We had no idea why he had a giant statue in Manila
so we took a picture. 

    This week was crazy because of the Tacloban-Manila trip but still good. We are teaching so many of Niko's relatives now and I LOVE IT! Because it means that Niko will have a stronger foundation and support to stay strong in the church. His house is chaos and then when we show up and teach it's just pure peace and their faces just glow and they eat up everything we tell them,. We taught his aunt about the word of wisdom and she mentioned how she noticed that Niko stopped drinking coffee (I can't tell you how happy that made me.) She was eager and anxious to follow and claim those blessings for herself AND she came to church! Her name is Melyn and she is just a BEAUTIFUL woman and I'm exciting to teach her and help her apply the gospel in her life.
 This is Niko, Me, Melyn, Judith (investigators) and Sister Besiera
    We finally were able to start teaching Elmer and we committed him to baptism on October 18th and his response was "YES, what time?" Hahahahahahaha it was like he did not have to give it a second thought. He has come to church for over a month now with no support or anything. I simply met him on the street one time and he just loves the way he feels and the message of the Restored gospel. He is a gem and I am so excited for him. He wants to serve a mission (=
Mom, I need to go but I LOVE YOU SO MUCH! Thank you for being patient with me. Tell dad I love him. Excited to talk to you next week. Stay safe! I love you so much!
Sister Sarah Ralph
This is my posterity (= woot woot. I'm a great grandma (=

Monday, September 22, 2014

21 September 2014 -- Pix from the Philippines

This is my mission! This is what I love! This is who I AM!

This is a picture of a hill near our recent convert's house.

Me helping weed their corn.

This is Brother Canoy making a table.- investigator

My companion and the Rafael little girls.
     Mom, I am really sorry that I could not warn you that I would not be on on time. I did not know that I was going to Manila until after last P-day. So I had to travel to Tacloban early, early this morning for a special training and then tomorrow super early my batch going home is flying to Manila for finger printing.
    I'm sorry I tried to think of any way I could contact you but I could not think of any way. So I am really sorry.

This is me and Jerome playing. He loves my hands, my watch and especially my feet. He gets excited when I come to their house and it always makes me so happy! Tender mercies of missionary work
     Soooo... yet again I do not have a whole ton to tell you. I apologize, normally I look back at my journal to see what happened to give me an idea what to write about but I forgot my journal at the office sooo I am off of memory here and .... yea...
This is a member who is feeding her ducks with left over rice.
 It's a common Pinoy scene. The ducks are so ugly here. 

     Ok, we are really focusing on finding new investigators this week and so far it has been a success. We have also found a few new less-actives that just popped out of nowhere and so we are excited to help them come back into the fold.

This is Niko dancing with the youth.
I cheered super loud for him like I would for my own brother. (=

Let's start with Canoy... this is the witchcraft brother that I was not sure what to do, or how to handle. We went and taught him with a member and the first 5 minutes of the lesson he kept closing his eyes and doing this weird jolt thing... it's so hard to explain. But he told us that he was telling the spirits to go away. But he also said the spirits like us, it's just that he could not listen well with them around. So he told them to leave so he could focus and then the jolting stopped. Sounds weird but apparently that is very normal. We taught them about the WOW and invited them to church, not exactly sure what to expect. We were shocked and delighted when they showed up to church on Sunday as a family! Woot woot! You NEVER know. We also had a neighbor of brother Niko come to church, Sister Judith, she is really interested and has a sweet spirit about her.
This is Jayson. He was a less active but he is friends
with Niko and has not missed a Sunday
for over a month now.
I was so happy the ward made him a
big part of their dance performance for
family week this last Saturday. (=
Look at what I came home to.
Just waiting for me on my study desk.

   This week was family week and so the whole stake got together to celebrate and there was a dance festival.... I'm the ONLY tall white girl of a couple hundred people, they watched me like a hawk the WHOLE day. It was fun to have a couple of the Brothers from other wards come up and remember me from the CSP-they would look at me and say HEY you are still here! You are that strong one. Hahaha, Oh yeah... that's ME, the strong one, hahaha.
   We had an incident with one of my creepy stalkers this week. He was very Bold and it was very late and it's a good thing I'm BIG and not afraid to hit a guy or tell him what I think... UNLIKE my companion whose heart stops at most everything about men that she does not know or like.
This is Niko, Jayson and the De Los Reyes family that we teach. Brother was recently baptized and so it has been fun getting to know them and helping them strengthen their family and work toward being sealed in the temple.
I had an experience this week that... ahh! It's so hard to explain over emailing. KILL ME! Basta- I already told you diba that Niko means the world to me. Well we went to his house one night this week and let me just say that....I VERY MUCH have taken for granted being raised in a home with parents that love me, a family that cares and kindness and love are expressed. I feel bad that I literally broke down in the middle of his house due to what I felt and saw- knowing that that is the life he lives and knows. How I love the gospel! How the gospel is a part of who I am, the way I was raised and the person I want to be. I love the gospel more than I have power to express.
This is the Tunada family that I love.

I was so blessed this week to have my personal studies be FULL of the spirit. My companion keeps calling me weird because I get up from my prayer after personal study and I just can't stop smiling- I just LOVE the spirit and the Book of Mormon, I'm learning what it means to really feast on the words of Christ and what it means to be FULL and I LOVE IT! I love missions! I LOVE every day, I love the trials. I just love love! People keep reminding me that I am going home soon but honestly I just don't think about it... I'm a missionary! I love EVERYDAY and I am grateful for everyday! Look at how beautiful these people are....

With Love,
Sister Sarah Ralph

Monday, September 15, 2014

14 September 2014 -- Short and Sweaty

Sr Vea, myself and Sr. Dumas
This is me with my STL's last transfer Sister Dumas and Sister Vea. STL's are like zone leaders kind of but only for sisters. They are not going home, Sister Dumas just transferred. I love them both. I look like a freaky AVATAR in this picture but it's the only one I have with them. 

    AH! Mom, thank you so much for telling me about Samuel. Haha I'm crying... haha that makes me so happy. I was actually thinking a lot about Samuel this week and how special he is. We are so blessed to have him in our lives. I worry about him a lot. Does he have friends at school? I have thought a lot about volunteering at Cedar Heights and seeing if I can be there for him a little. Just thoughts though. I want to help you when I show up. I got news for the travels. 

    I have to send a picture of this frog because it's part of my companion's and my relationship, haha. We pass him every single time we go to Luna and it just looks so ridiculous we always just die of laughter. The guy, his name is Elmer, He is amazing. We have only taught him once due to his work but he has come to church by himself for over a month now. I just randomly met him on the street one time and he wanted to come to church. We are working on teaching him. Love him!
    I do not have much at all to write this week in terms of update.
Elmer and our frog.

    Tuesday was OK until night time came and for the first time since the storm I saw another dead person. He was walking along the road and it was a hit and run. His body was so mangled and I was sitting in the outside of the tricycle and we drove literally right by his body. Come to find out later it was actually a woman. It took a little time for me to recover from that but prayer does miracles.
    We taught a new family this week. They were good but I was a little scared. The dad told us that he does witchcraft. Obviously he did not say it like that but... he talked to us about the spirit and how he casts out spirits and he was SWEATIng like crazy and he told us it was because of the spirit. A lady came with money while we were teaching and it was obvious the reason she was there though they did not say anything. It was a moment of awkward silence when we were trying to get to know her, hahaha, but turns out she stayed and listened and is really interested in our message. Brother's little boy was kind of being noisy during the lesson and he kept closing his eyes and reaching out his hand over his sons head.... CREEPED me out! But we are going back because he wants to learn more and who knows what could happen. But we are only going back there in the day time, ha ha.

    This week we got punted A LOT, a lot.... meaning we went to people's houses and they were not there or busy or sleeping or...whatever reason we could not teach them. I have a feeling Satan is working really hard to get me discouraged right before I go home but there is NO way I'm letting him in. I wish we were having more success than we are BUT I still LOVE being a missionary and I love the work and the people and my companion and most importantly I love Who I represent. So we continue and pour out our hearts and leave the rest to the Lord.
    Mom, I am sorry I did not write much. I have more pictures to send but the computer is not working. So next week will have to do. Really sorry
    I'm talking to the mission secretary now. She said you are supposed to receive an email and me too so one second. Mom... did you tell Bishop that I want a topic for my talk? I checked the flight plans and they have me with all the other sisters going from Los Angeles CA and then to SLC. So I texted the secretary and she said YEP that's what it says and she thanked me for catching the mistake and she is working on changing it so I will come home TO WASHINGTON! But at least we have an idea for the time. (=
    I love you, mom. Keep your eyes open for a email from our secretary about my flight plans. At least we now know it will be OCT 23 that I will BE home.
    I LOVE YOU!!!!!!! Take care. Be safe!

Sister Sarah Ralph

Monday, September 8, 2014

7 September 2014 -- Time is flying

Mom! I love you! Did you like the "Maleficent" movie? I think ?? will be the new stake president too? I hope so. I'm scared of him but I like him, haha.
   I can't believe there is ANOTHER new film in the temple! I'm SO EXCITED! That is like my number 2 thing on the list of what I want to do when I go home! I can't wait!
   JON GOING BACK TO BYU!!! AHHH!! I WOULD LOVE THAT!! When will he know??
This picture is my favorite Boy in the world.
Niko is in blue and Jayson is in purple.

   Alright well let me tell you about my week...
     1. We had a meeting with our leaders and a new rule was made in that kids or minors are not to be baptized unless they have active parents in the church or they have gone to church for at least 6 months. This changed things up a bit and we got down and dirty with some parents pretty much telling them that we would not baptize their 11 year old daughter until THEY themselves started reading the Book of Mormon and coming to church. It was rough but necessary- lots of tears and disappointed little girls this week but we know its for their good. We want them to be ready to make convents with their Father and have that support system so they can endure. It was most depressing when we heard comments from parents like we will just wait till she is older to be baptized (so the pressure was not on them to be the example for the child) It broke out hearts but really brought to surface the commitment of these parents and what needed to change.
     2. We also learned that one of our less-actives is not coming to church because he was married before and has kids with his wife who is not the women (who is pregnant) and that we teach him with. Divorce is the closest thing to impossible in the Philippines.... so another Hurdle to jump.
     3. Almost all of our recent converts got sick this week. Sister Tunada's baby has sore eyes or called pink eye in America... it was so bad I wanted to cry and super contagious so we could not teach them. Then Sister Nildie was sick to the point where she was crying when we showed up- she was in so much pain. Then my crush-Jeromo Rafael the baby of our baptisms last week has been crying for days and throws up all the time and everything. He threw up even in our lesson till they took him to the hospital for three days. AHH! Thankfully we talked to them about how Satan would want them discouraged and would throw trials at them. So they almost expected this and it was so reassuring to listen to Brother Rafael make comments, while he is holding his little boy in the hospital say.... "test, it's just a test, we are ok, we endure". AH! I love him!
     4. More rats in the house. They are moving up into our rooms and making babies....YUCK!
     5. We found out that Niko's only guardian-grandma left for Manila and he is left here. He lives with his uncle but has no money so he was not able to go to school and we didn't know it till he told us one night that he had not eaten all day. He was so happy and excited to see us that we never would have known if we had not talked about his family. Broke my heart. I'm still not sure what to do to help him- he is only 14 years old.
The group picture is my zone at an activity trying to do a
 "food fight" but an American made the rice and it's just..... not the same.

     6. We got a new rule in the Tacloban mission that we cannot teach men of any age unless we have a companion with us that is 30 years old or older. ..... Yeah.... needless to say it's KILLING our work. We can't even teach Niko now. It's really hard to find people that age to work with you BUT we know blessings come from obedience and we are doing what we can. Trying to be patient (=
     About my blog, tell Brother Lee thank you. I honestly am so surprised people still read it at all.
Niko's baptism
 Niko was baptized. I honestly think of everyone I have ever met in my mission this kid has impacted me so much. He is becoming part of my motivation to be the BEST Return Missionary EVER when I get home. That sounds weird... but I just mean that I want to be SO FAITHFUL and so .... just someone he can turn to even if I am half way around the world. This kid has NO one, just bad influences but look at his smile! He is not the quickest kid in the world but when he does understand he just GLOWS! He wants to be a part of the gospel; he wants to be a member. He went from smoking and drinking at age 12 to this GEM of a boy who reads the Book of Mormon and wants to go on a mission. This boy has become a huge part of my life and honestly I'm scared to death to leave him. I'm trying so hard to build a foundation and a support system for him. Yesterday he was given the Holy Ghost and he just was so serious and THEN he bore his testimony in front of EVERYONE! I just cannot express how much I love this boy. He makes the words of Alma the Younger come alive for me when he is speaking to his sons. How proud I am of him and how I fast and pray that he will be strong, serve a full time mission and be sealed in the temple. I would do anything for that!

     Transfers are this week but because I am training I'm 99% sure I am staying here- which I would love! And I found out my anak or my first child or missionary that I trained, just got done training and is training again and HER anak is training... So I am a GREAT GRANDMA!! AH! YES! So proud!!
     My companion is doing great! We love each other and just are learning so much and enjoying the mission. She is still learning how to enjoy it but it's coming for sure. We are working and focusing on our EXACT obedience.
     I told you about my leg, right? The infection is fine- just a scar now but I'm going to need some sort of therapy for my leg when I get back, haha. No cold, I'm fit as a fiddle. (=
     I'm emailing Benjamin and Jess, too. Tell EVERYONE HI FOR ME!!! Hi RUTH!! Happy Birthday Brian! WOW! GO BRIAN!! Movin up in the world. Brian save the sass for when I get BACK... you will need it.
     How is dad? Asleep? Are you ok with the email I sent?... cause.... that's about all I got.
     Mom, everyone says we look alike in your wedding picture that I always have with me. It makes me happy. I love you so much mom! You are the best mom in the world! I'm running out of time so I will let you go, but tell everyone I love them and some one please, find a time machine because these last 6 weeks are FLYING!!!! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!!
     Tell the bishop, I want a topic and a calling or responsibility before I give a talk, haha. LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH DAD!!!!
Sister Sarah Ralph

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

31 August 2014 - Happy and Conflicted...

Haha, haha, I saw the picture (of Daddy and Ben sleeping at church). I love my family so much! I want to see them falling asleep in church. Mom I think the "end-of-mission"NESS is starting to kick in. I'm feeling.... SAMOK (chaos). No long email. Because I will cry if I type too much, haha, sorry. I will try for something.
     I'm healthy. I even stopped playing football in the rain earlier because I knew it wasn't safe and you would not like that.
     Mom, I'm conflicted. I'm waking up. I'm hurting. I'm happy... and it makes me want to explode. At this moment... I just want you to hug me. AH! WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME? MOM!!!! I'm soo stinkin happy... so why am I BEING LIKE THIS? I'm scared. I'm scared of losing the sensitivity and the drive. Can you all just come here instead of me going home?
Sister Tunada a recent convert who I love.

     I honestly have very little to write this week, It was an up and down week for sure. I went on exchanges with Sister Dumas and that was a lot of fun. I learned a lot from her and it was good to have someone to talk to about my fears and hopes. She is a sweetheart and it's weird because she feels like my little sister. I'm excited to get closer to many of these sisters after the mission. Mission is a nesting bed for lasting friendships. 
    This is Niko (=  I love this kid with all my heart.

Br. Eduardo Rafael
     Niko is our progressing investigator. He is my favorite boy, 14 years old and just has a heart of gold. Two days ago we brought him to the church and sat him down and his countenance changed from his normal bubbly self to sheer gloom. He would not even look at us or talk. It took some time before he confessed that he did not read the Book of Mormon the day before. He was so upset with himself. Wow! I love this boy! If all our investigators took their commitments as seriously as this boy does..... wow. Then we had to do the baptismal interview questions with him before the real interview with the district leader and when we asked him if he has committed a serious crime. He just put his head down and looked like he wanted to cry. He said, "yes". He said he "tubagtubag sa iyang nanay" which means he kind of back-talked to his grandma..... wow... my heart MELTED! This boy makes me so happy. He is the definition of how we need to be, more childlike. His baptism is set for next Saturday. 
     This is Brother Eduardo Rafael Jr. who was baptized with his wife and sister this last Saturday. He is an incredible man. I love teaching him and his family more than anything in the world. In his testimony after his baptism he was emotional and said that before the missionaries came they never prayed... and now they pray all the time. They pray as a family every night. This man is a rock. He loves the Lord and wants so badly to raise his children in the ways of the Lord. He has blessed my life and I know he will enter the temple with his family in one year's time.


     Nildie is the sister of Brother Rafael she is yet another ROCK! Actually she is braver than I think anyone I have met here in the Philippines. A few months ago there was an incident.... The details of the incident are not important but it led to a lot of gossip in the ward even with leaders about her husband. This woman just said 'It doesn't matter what they think, I know this is the right church and I go to church for God" even though she has to face these people who are saying unkind things about her... remember she is an investigator... not a member. She can look past all of the ugliness and see how the church is true despite the way people act or treat her. I love her soo soo soo much! She is a disciple of Jesus Christ. If people only understood the gospel like she does. She has made many sacrifices to come to church and is patient with the Lord and her family and is content with her simple life. Goodness I love these people so much!

This other picture is Sister Sheila, she is a gem
and a ward missionary who works with us every week.
She is a ray of sunshine - as you can see
and we will be friends forever! 

     Yes, there were heartbreaks this week. We had quite a number of investigators who were not able or chose not to make it to church this week. It was rough, but we were thankful to be able to witness our investigators who received the Holy Ghost. Happy day!
     I had beautiful experiences this week. When I say beautiful I mean... I learned so much. And I know I needed the experiences for my spiritual growth but in the moment they hurt so bad. I love my mission and training at the end of the mission is the best thing in the world. I get to look back and see how the Lord has been there every step of the way. How he has answered every single one of my heartfelt prayers. I just had to trust in his time and in his way. My companion had a break down this week and it was a miracle to be able to open up my journal and read the words I wrote and compare them to the feelings of my companion. They were the same. And yet... now... the person or missionary I am now, is the exact opposite. My fears and weaknesses (not all obviously) have become strengths. I love missionary work, life and how the spirit truly is our constant companion. I just am the happiest person in the world!
That is Gino who left on his mission last week.

     My companion is still with me. She is great. She is very much a child, haha, so we learn a lot together. She is a huge blessing to me. She helps me see the blessings the Lord has given me. She is really coming along in missionary work and learning to deal with stress, haha.
     Mom, I love my life. Just yesterday something happened and I lost the spirit. I don't really want to talk about what happened but I just was so easily able to feel the difference in my life. The confidence, the peace of mind, the flow of language, the desire to open my mouth,... everything I have been blessed with on the mission went away in an instant. I had to pour out my heart in prayer before a portion of the spirit came back. I am learning.... I am learning how to recognize the spirit and learning to trust in the atonement. I believe now. I believe my Savior does love me perfectly and is ALWAYS willing to forgive me. I felt his embrace last night. I felt the joy that comes from repentance. I love the gospel. It is truly the only way for peace in this life. TRUE peace
     I will remember mom! You take care of yourself now-- you got 7 weeks to NOT hurt yourself. No accidents nothing ok? Deal? I love you! Thank you for talking to me. I really needed my mom today. I'm such a child. hahaha I love you mom! Sorry for the lame emails recently but just know that I am happy and I love what I am doing and I am learning so much! You are always in my prayers! I love you so much! Sweet dreams.
 The picture is my companion doing push-ups.
I make her do 20 every time she says she is ugly.
She is doing much better now.  
Sister Sarah Ralph