Thursday, October 23, 2014

23 October 2014 -- And She's Home

Sarah's route home included going to Tacloban and meeting with the mission president. Returning to Ormoc where she boarded a boat to Cebu. From Cebu she flew to Manila and boarded a 747 to Tokyo. From Tokyo to Seattle was over 9 hours...and she didn't sleep on the plane. Jon surprised her right after she got off the plane (just like he did for Ben), as he flew in from CA that morning. It was great to have family and friends there. She has pumped up when she got home but exhaustion set in after 4 hours and she was put to bed.

Some of the highlights at SeaTac International airport after Sister Sarah came up from Customs.

There to greet her from L to R...Uncle Brian, brothers Jon and Samuel, Aunt Ruth, Mom, Dad and sister Rebekah.

Surprised with flowers from Rebekah.

Jon flew in from CA to surprise Sarah and
the rest of

Samuel was pretty happy.

Samuel loved Sarah's smile. He wants one like that

Daddy/Daughter time!

Mommy/Daughter Time!

Uncle Brian and Aunt Ruth are always supportive.

Rebekah Kozy took the family photo.

Sister Rebekah connected Sarah to the Siblings
who were in Utah, Idaho and Texas.
Thanks for the connection!

The tan line...

Monday, October 20, 2014

19 October 2014 - Last emails from Tacloban Philippines Mission

I took more pictures this week than I have in the whole last transfer so I will only send a few and little words...
This is the ladies in the market where we buy our vegetables.
These are my FAVORITE people, they work in the meat shop at Gaizanos and we are great friends, I literally cried when I had to say 'bye to them. It would be the same as us being attached to Walmart workers in America. They are the BEST PEOPLE EVER!
FHE with Medalle family and investigators. I love them so much!
Danica and me! She is a sweetheart that is really interested in the Gospel and comes to church. Love her!
FHE with Tunada family-recent converts and Nildie and the Rafael family recent converts too. ALL people I love, love sooooo much!
I can't remember this guy's name but he is the definition of what it means to be a Filipino--- at least for me. Nothing stops that smile. (=

My Last time in Luna where the people are so sweet and receptive and happy. I love Luna! Yes Luna is part of my area. 
Brother Rafael and his two sweet daughters that I will miss so much!
This family makes me so happy!
This is Johanna. The little one next to me. We have been teaching her for a long time but she has not been baptized yet because we want and need her dad to be active in the church before so. Prayer,Prayer, prayer!
This is the Salidaga family. I LOVE THEM so much! Sister is the humblest sweetest wife who has been through so much and Ariel, the older looking one reminds me of Captain Moroni even though he is quiet. He is going to be such an amazing missionary. And his little brother- the sweetheart, will fall in his footsteps (= I love this family.
This is Kim Linggo and her family. She was one of two of our baptisms this week!! It was such a beautiful service. This has been a long awaited day for her and we were privileged to be a part of it.
Marianne is the second. AH! They showed up quite late and so that's why the picture is dark, haha. BUT they made it and she bore a heart felt testimony that put us to tears because normally we have to pull teeth to get her to speak at all. AHH! BLESSINGS!
I am the most blessed person on the face of the earth. After our baptism I was thrown a Farewell party by the members and this is me sitting in the front of everyone with a bunch of crazy sweet kids trying to not cry as members stood up and said what they wanted to me. Of course I cried.... I had no idea about some of the sweet things they said and I was so touched. I love ORMOC! AND!!!!!!!! Carigara!
... OK, this is going to take a second to explain. All of the missionaries going home got permission to go travel to a different area they had served in and to visit and teach the members and recent converts there that we had taught before. I was the only one that ended up not being able to. I wanted to go to Carigara but I could not find someone to go with me because my companion would need to stay and work. But at my farewell party I was SURPISED out of my Mind when my members and recent convert Jessica SHOWED UP! I literally was soooooooooo SOOOOO HAPPY! They came to me! I did not even tell them. It was my bishop. AH! YES. My heart is so full! I can't express how happy I am.
This is Mari Lou our progressing investigator. She has lots of concerns and trials in her life but she has a real desire to change and be better.
There are so many pictures here but I can't send them so I am sorry.
This is the last time I saw sister Nildie- Recent convert.
She will be a great leader for the church. 
Last FHE at Bishops house and with SOOOOO many of the people I love and people that have made my experience here in Ormoc terrific! I love these people and will miss them so much!
My amazing companion had everyone sign this shirt for me and Elder Azuela my batch did the design on the front. Our sisters at the house threw a party for me when we came home from my last day of work. I feel so loved!
No better way to celebrate on a Sunday than with Beer haha, haha, JOKE! I promise its Root beer and I regretted drinking it-- I forgot how much carbonation is in those things.
Sister Vea, Me, Sister Besiera, Sister Adasme... I love them!
My Bishop in the parade (the one in the middle). This is why I was late to get on today. I was having A BLAST watching the Tugob Parade. It was sooo much fun! The mayor gave me a hat and I am BURNT!!! Another wish of mine before I went home. Everything I have wanted I have gotten! I am so spoiled!
We had so much fun!
This is one of the street dancers that we saw in the parade... SOO much fun!
Well worth the sunburn.
Hahahahaha you wanted pictures right?  SAMUEL.... I love you!
I honestly have no idea what the parade was for, haha. But it was big and way fun. It's still going on but we have to go.
More dancers.
I know the hat is totally inappropriate but I was dying of heat and the mayor specially gave it to me. It seemed to make lots of people smile, haha, I don't even like hats. I look like a boy with them -sacrifice, haha.
haha cge. Thanks mom. I really do forget. My bishop told me he reads my blog right now.... TALK ABOUT PRESSURE! He is such an amazing man... he told me in his little speech to me at my farewell that he see's how much I love my mom and he hopes that his daughter will be just like me. AH!! Threw me to tears. I love him so much! He is a convert of 10 years, I think.

Any other ideas before I leave? It's not hitting me at all, mom. Is dad there?

Haha, mom I have really no idea if I can email you again before I leave. I will ask president and let you know if I can but I will be fine. I plan on doing all my crying on the plane by myself to WA, hahaha. Your missionary is good, dad, not ready to give up the name tag but being SUPER blessed that I don't know what to do with myself.

Mom and Dad... It's about that time. I need to go. I CAN'T WAIT to see you and I'm so excited and thankful for your support and love and everything. Thank you for allowing me to serve a mission and experience things that money can't buy. I'm eternally grateful. I'm coming home to help now just wait! I love you both so much!!

Kita kits or See you soon (=

All My Love,
Sister Ralph

Monday, October 13, 2014

12 October 2014 - Still excited

This is me super excited in the wind outside of the Jessa house. 
This is called lichon (spelling? baboy.)
This is the pinoy FAVORITE
of all foods and we as a stake partook and enjoyed.

This is a pinahan or a pineapple farm in my area.
 I always thought pineapples grew from trees. False. haha

    I'm sorry my message this week is not super exciting or long! AH!
     Part of the reason why this week is not a CRAZY exciting story telling week is because I had to take these pills three times a day every day this week and they made my body go numbish and heavy and I always wanted to throw up and I could not sleep and it made my pee literally brown.... so this week was very much a test of enduring because it's from amoebas inside and she said no matter how sick you get KEEP TAKING the PILLS!! So I did and blah! It was not fun! I'm done now. I finished taking them on Saturday. I'm just glad it's over but I feel bad the week was not as awesome as I would have wanted.
     But we made it through. We got to go on exchanges this week which was an absolute blast! I got to meet new people and form new friendships and teach investigators that had burning questions. That's my FAVORITE part of teaching in the field is when investigators have sincere questions and we answer them through the Book of Mormon and you see that light come into their faces and it makes them want to ask more questions and see what else the book of Mormon can do for them. It's the BEST feeling in the world!
     Of course general conference was fantastic.
     I'm not slacking. It's more like I guess I expected to Want to get a bajillion lessons in every day and all of a sudden start screaming the message on buses and all that jazz... but I don't. I just want to keep doing what I am doing and be with the people I love here and help them understand and help my companion be ready and confident to train. It's hard to explain.
     Mom, I told my house mates about that time we went to watch Twilight in the theater and you fell off your seat because you freaked out..... how many years later and I STILL died rolling of laughter on the floor just thinking about it hahaha. Oh I love you.

     This is Roberto again and he is sooo excited to be baptized. We taught him about the LOC (Law of Chastity) this week and the WOW (Word of Wisdom) and he smoked before and sometimes drinks on occasion and drinks coffee every day but he said he would give it up and he knew it was the right thing to do. Then we went on to teach about the LOC knowing well that he has a girlfriend right now but unsure of "how close they are" so we were just bold and told him the word of the Lord and were not ashamed of it. He immediately came out and confessed that he had a homo-sexual relationship before but he said that he knew it was a heavy sin and stopped. He really WANTS to keep the commandments of God. We were only able to teach him this last Tuesday but he still came to General conference all by himself, happy and smiling and so glad to be there. I love this kid so much! He has such a heart of gold.
     Elmer is the other guy we are teaching and we were not able to get to teach him as much this week too, and so we have to move his baptismal date back. He was sooo upset. We told him he would just join baptisms with Roberto and he was not happy about that at all. Way too far away. It was so amazing to see these two men have such a desire to change and to follow God and to learn and obey. I love these men and its so easy to see their unlimited potential that awaits them
     This little girl is Marianne... the picture you see is exactly how she is in ALL the lessons to everyone! She hardly speaks so we have learned much patience and we were THRILLED when she passed her interview yesterday and will be baptized on Saturday! woot woot! That's the only picture I have of her because she is soooooo shy. Really that's the reality of our lessons with her so I thought I would share a piece of reality, haha.
Marianne is super shy.

     Sister Kim is also getting baptized with her this Saturday and I should be able to make it.
     We finally started teaching Jessa who is the only member in her family who is not a member yet. All of her family are recent converts and have been praying for her to except the Gospel. She is 14 years old and it's been sooo rough trying to teach her because she is super shy. She likes the church but she was INC or Iglesia ni Cristo which is a HUGE church here .... you might have heard of him ... the founder was a MORMON general authority and went apostate obviously. Well they have churches EVERYWHERE here and she liked it and was baptized in their church, which her parents were not happy about at all! But she started going to both our church and INC and then.... their members started making fun of her for going to both churches... so we have been playing hide and seek for a while and she just does not want to get made fun of even though she wants to be baptized now with her family. Crazy life!

     One of my favorite new investigators this week is Pedro. He is a 74 year old widower who lives with his daughter and grandchildren. We just met him on the street and he wanted to speak English because he is a retired seaman and so he knows English. He knows Cebuano but mostly speaks Tagalog. He was the first investigator that I have had on the mission who understood what his belief was as a Catholic. He had an understanding and faith but was open to our message. It was sooo crazy to watch the beauty of the message at the beginning as we taught him. He had questions and wanted to understand. By the time we got to explaining Joseph Smith though... there was this ...its hard to explain but he couldn't open his heart to see the truth. He could accept some. He said he truly believed that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, but accepting what Jesus Christ answered - that no true church was on the face of the earth - was out of his reach. It was soo interesting to watch the spirit work in him. He is good. He is sweet and he plans on coming to church and we are excited for him to eventually understand and find the truth for himself. I love missionary work!
     General Conference was great!
A few more fun parts of the Philippines. 

     I loved conference! Even though Holland's talk was unexpected and not normally something that would cause my heart to burn, my experiences here in the Philippines put so much more meaning and love behind his message and I lost it during his message. I too have NO IDEA what it is like to be poor and I am humbled that I have been called to preach and share this message with those many thousands here who are. I love these people with everything that I am. I wish I was better at expressing that love all the time, but I am trying. These people have changed my life for good.
     Mom, I do not know exactly what is happening next Monday so don't wait up for me huh? I might be on at normal time I might not get on at all. I'm not sure.
     Next week I will be in Tacloban on Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday in Manila and Thursday I will leaving in the morning and get home in the morning on Thursday. First time in my life I get to go back in time! MAGIC!! Well Dad, Mom, I love you both so much! You should be getting a letter here soon let me know if you get it. I love you, thank you for being there for me always! One more week in the WORK OF THE LORD! I'm excited and happy! Take care! All My Love!
Sister Sarah Ralph

Monday, October 6, 2014

5 October 2014 - Making Memories

This is a rice field right before they harvested. 
This woman's name is Pising. She is the tallest sweetest old lady--
look her hands are almost as big as mine! Amazing! I love her!
     Ok a few things that happened this week... we taught brother Canoy again (the witchcraft brother) and I am not sure if we are going to go back very much. He was talking about how the Book of Mormon is God's revealed word and works but that there is others he has which are not revealed. He tried to do a healing hand reading thing on Sister Besiera and its just plain out weird. When we went back this weekend he was drunk so we could not teach. Soo.. we will see what happens.

      In the same neighborhood we met with one of our new, new investigators who told Sister Besiera that there was a LOT of "chismis" or gossip going around that we as missionaries are liars and all that junk and Sister Besiera broke down in tears. I'm still helping her get use to the life of a missionary. But I felt kind of bad that it didn't even phase me.... It's never been in my nature to "care" what other people think of me (that sounds terrible.)

Ok let me tell you about a few people we met this week.
Roberto is the one in the black in the back.
We just met this family this past week.

     First is Mari Lou she is a new house help of members in our ward. We met her and she said she would like to be taught. She is 27 years old and has four children, one died not too long ago due to pneumonia. The first time we went to teach her she was home alone and she just broke down to us in tears. She was so upset but was trying so hard not to cry and saying its ok "I can do, I can do it". She opened up to us that her husband when he is drunk beats her and she showed us the bruises on her body. It was so, so sad and set a completely different tone to the lesson. The spirit was so strong as we testified of families and eternal joy. When we got to the end of the lesson and were talking about the Book of Mormon and prayer she picked up her Book of Mormon and held it close to her heart. She said she had something she wanted to tell us. She went on to say that the night before she was crying and crying and could not sleep. Alone in her room she decided to pick up the Book of Mormon and pray. She told us that when she did, she almost saw a light in her mind and felt like someone was holding her. She held the Book of Mormon even tighter and said she knows God answers prayers and she wants to read the Book of Mormon. It was a beautiful sacred experience to teach her and we both love her so much already. She is so easy to love. She goes home on the weekends though and though she expressed real desire to come to church, she did not show up... so we are slightly nervous. Prayer. We pray and pray for her and hopefully we will teach her tomorrow.

MOM!! Ready for the real part of the email????
 I love construction pictures because I could never do this in America.
     I KNOW that God answers prayers. I also know that God has a ridiculous sense of humor. Sometimes our humors are not always the same but I'm learning to catch on.....
      We had weekly planning on Thursday where my companion expressed her desire to have every day be MEMORABLE before I go home. In her closing prayer she then requested to our Father in Heaven that each day is memorable. .. that night we get back from work and as we are getting ready for prayer to do our daily planning... my companion looks at my head and ..... SISTER RALPH! ... you have lice. Haha so for the next 2 hours my companion picks my head like a monkey while I just laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh. I was quite pleased at how I was not upset or annoyed. I just took it as a direct answer to prayer and asked my companion kindly to be more careful with her requests next time, haha. I love missionary life! 

     They don't really have mayo here mom but I bought this shampoo and have used it three times and will use it every other day till I leave. My companion has been looking at my head each day and night and this morning she did not see anything, Not even an egg but I'm not taking chances. It will be fine. We have a good of a comb as we could get but it doesn't work well and my hair is too long, haha haha.
     Oh great!! good to know.... well..... I wash my hair right after I let it sit in my head is that bad? Great... haha NOW I'm nervous. haha, joke. It will be fine. I took my first de-worming pill this morning..... ahh!

     Also mom just FYI I'm literally coming home with like 3 skirts.... that's it. I cannot COUNT the number of women who have asked me for my clothing. It's RIDICULOUS!
Elders at FHE at Bishops house (=

     Oh boy. This is exciting. Well.... 2 weeks to go. I am fine during the week when we get to stay busy with work. The only hard part is at church when EVERYONE talks about me going home and I just get overwhelmed.... so God is kind and let me have general conference this weekend. I'm so blessed (=   

     I did not see anything of General Conference yet. We will watch conference this weekend and Woman's Conference, I will have to watch when I get home.

     Thanks Mom and Dad! I love you both so much! Sleep well and we will chat next week (=

All My Love,
Sister Ralph