Maceio Brazil Mission Assignment

Maceio Brazil Mission Assignment
Serving in God's Army

12/17/2012

18 December 2012

Well time is a little bit shorter than normal. So I'll get down to the dirty details, haha.
   Me and my last companion worked with a girl named Steffanie and she's a gem. She was baptized and went to the temple twice! This week was her birthday and everyone from the ward (not very many) came to celebrate her surprise birthday that we organized with her mom. It was great! The best part was that everyone was able to come and get acquainted with her mom. HER MOM ACCEPTED BAPTISM!!!! This past week she gave us so much food! Like A lot! Twice she asked us to pass by her house and gave us bags of food for the hungry missionaries, haha... We were thinking in our house what we can do for her in return, after a while we felt impressed that the best thing we can give to her is baptism. But just one little problem is in the way of her being baptized, the man she lives with, the father of her children is married to another woman and they have to be married to get baptized. She was nervous to let us talk to her husband cause he's not religious at all and doesn't like religious people, haha. But we talked to him anyway and he totally warmed up to us! It was great and we had an awesome conversation. Next visit we'll ask him about the divorce and marriage stuff, we got our foot in the door.
   Another situation, in one house we were able to baptize 3 teenage boys, and they are pretty strong in the church. But this Sunday we were able to get their father to go to church with them! Turned out he had a great time and already knew three people that are members of the church, and he liked my lesson on the creation! Oooooo haha we're super excited cause it's really hard to baptize men here, because most of them drink, but we'll work with him this week and see what happens, he's a great guy.
   Both the father going to church and Stefanie's mom were direct answers to direct prayers! Awesome feeling!
   Today we went to the Central of Maceio which reminded me a lot of pikes place:)  
   My companion is awesome! I love the guy, we make each other laugh!
   Tomorrow is the Christmas party for the mission.
I love my mission, I love this gospel!
Until next Week!

ELDER RALPH

12/10/2012

9 December 2012

HELLLLLO!
    Well let's start with the biggest change. My companion was transferred to another area. The ward did a little farewell party for him. There were a lot of tears and emotion but it was really sweet what they did for him, all the people that he touched. One of the most precious moments was when one of the ladies that he taught, a lady who has absolutely nothing, gave him a package of very expensive soap. It was a testimony to me that we were doing our job, we were helping these people, changing their lives. I was super nervous to get a new companion; I was accustomed Honorato, my "DAD". But it was time for a change, things were starting to get slow between us. But now I feel like I've reset, I have more to talk about, more to do. It feels great to be done with training.
    I'm not a 'greeny' any more, woot, woot, woot! I have power now, hahaha, well sort of, haha. My new companion is Elder Felipe. He´s a Brazilian from São Paulo and I love him! He's great! He teaches great, he helps me with the language a ton, honestly this past week I feel like I've learned so much!. And I'm helping him with his English, he actually knows quite a bit, but his pronunciation is horrible, haha, but we'll work on that. :) I was kinda worried about being in a house with just one other person but so far it's going along great. We talk, we laugh, we sing, we quote movies, which is actually really fun to try in a different language, (finding Nemo), he's 20 years old and has been out on the mission for 10 months. We think the same which is really nice, cause with time being together always it really makes a difference. He's great, love the guy.
     Elder Felipe and I have made a goal to baptize a certain number of adults, Elder Honorato and I were able to work with a number of kids, boys, and hardly any adults. So what we're doing is working with all the parents of the kids that were baptized or are active in the church. That's easier said than done, that's for sure because of work, beer, or other worldly things, the adults don't want much to do with the church. But some of the kids have amazing parents. We've been working with men, hard core men who have done a lot of wrong things in their lives but want to change. I like working with adults because when they decide to do something they do it, and they are firm with their decisions. Gostozo!!! and also mothers! Man! As a missionary you get anxious, ya know... like... I want you to get baptized NOW cause you mean a lot to me! Steffane is a girl who was baptized and is very firm in the church, she's going to the temple AGAIN to do baptisms for the dead, and her mother, Mãe de Esteffane (because we always forget her name) isn't a member, but is SO nice, she feeds us, helps us buys random things for us even when we tell her not to, said to me and Elder Honorato, when Honorato left, "most likely I'll be baptized soon........ WHAT!? What are you waiting for?! haha ( didn't say that.) The thing is she's married to a man that lives in Spain and lives with a man now to whom she isn't married. So there's some legal stuff in the way... but golly geez I want her to get baptized SO BAD! cause I love her to death and she's basically a member already AHHH!...... I'm fine, I'm cool, I'm good.
     One thing I've found is that God knows us and He answers our prayers. He influences our lives through others. He uses others to bless and guide our lives. I'm so thankful for all that he has done to bless me and my family. I know he sent me here for a purpose, that I can grow and develop my testimony, he put me in a great area with a great companion. I'm so excited to work, to learn, I'm so thankful for the spirit that guides me every day. I love the scriptures and the power that they have. And most of all I LOVE my family and everything they've done for me. The church is true, I know it.
     ELDER RALPH
 

 

3 December 2012

Sorry this keyboard is beyond awful! Love ya.
   So remember when I told you that I was gunna write you tomorrow rather than today... Well there was a little mistranslation of Portuguese so I'm writing you today instead. :)
   So today early 7:00 we had a meeting with Elder Costa of the 70. It was a great meeting, he honestly said everything that I needed to hear, and his wife too. It was awesome. I like it when an apostle or general authorities talk to us like in a meeting rather than conference cause they seem more real, more honest, you can ask questions, they joke around a little bit, and they totally wing their talks, like they are unplanned, love it, its inspiring. So we were there for quite a long time. Afterwards Elder Costa asked if he could have an interview with my companion and 5 other elders. So after the meeting we went to the mission office and waited for Elder Costa to finish his lunch. We checked for mail and I received one, woot woot. Then we hunted for boxes, we opened a cupboard and there it was.... I had to blink a few times to believe it, then I said, who wrote my name on this box here?.. haha it was a cool feeling haha and then! an elder handed me another box!!! Two boxes! What is this!? Geeez I felt loved haha. So yup I got your boxes! One from Mom and one from Jessica! Mom's was kinda squished haha poor box haha. Unfortunately today has been kind of a run around day because of the meeting so I wasn't able to open the boxes. I had to drop them off at the house then run. But I'll tell you next week what's in them like you asked :) Thanks so much I'm super excited!!! Christmas came early, haha. 
   Elder Costa was awesome, it was great to hear from him, and I found out that Elder Bednar is coming to speak to us in January!!!! During the interview with Elder Costa, he congratulated my companion on being the baptizer of the mission, also our district leader for being the best district leader and our zone leader for being the best zone leader. (my zone leader is a brother of a friend that I met at Green River Community College during 'running start'. Who'd thought, huh, Maple Valley Stake.
   This week we had an activity in the ward, a Christmas/New Year's party, it was way fun. We did a white elephant thing with chocolates and Elder Honorato and I went crazy, we bought loads of stuff, and decorated them with paper and wrote little jokes and quotes. It was fun and we were super excited for the activity. We ended up receiving just a small box of chocolates in return but it was all worth it. We made two kids extremely happy haha... Afterwards they played music and I took some videos... ooh I gosh, I almost cried it was SOOO funny, old men and ladies dancing to Chris Brown, haha, super funny, it was so hard not to dance and break out in song, in my mind were memories of me and Sarah dancing around in the kitchen... ah, it was a killer, but it was fun still.
   This week we FINALLY got a referral. I say that because we've giving out at least 6 referrals to other Elders, of people who want to be baptized. So we finally got a referral and it was golden, haha, it was a lady who lives right next to a member (who´d thought). She has a 9 year old son, and is married on paper. She was super curious about our church and everything we believe our rules, our standards, who was Joseph Smith, everything. We've taught her twice and both lessons were about 2 hours long. She said a fantastic prayer and called us angels. She's been reading the Book of Mormon, praying, re-reading the pamphlets. And she said that she wanted her son to serve a mission. Only two things that aren't perfect.... she drinks coffee every now and then and she couldn't make it to church on Sunday..... pity.. haha. So we'll work with her and force her to go to church, haha, kidding, but we´ll make it happen :) she's really fun to teach!
   Tomorrow our LD will call to tell us about transfers!!!!!!! So maybe next week I could be in another state! Holly Molly SUSPENSE!
 Many people, myself included, think that I will stay in the same area and just my companion will leave, others think I will leave too because we've had so much success here we have to share the wealth, haha. But we will see. I think I'll stay to show the area to the next missionary that will be in this area, show him where all the members live, ect. But WHO KNOWS dump, dump, dump.
   OH I almost forgot! This went in the journal. This past hour, power went out and that made it so the pump that puts water on top of our house didn't work so we had no water, nothing, couldn't wash clothes, couldn't brush teeth or shower... so what did we do?? We took a bath in the baptismal font at the church... The best part was that all the women in the ward were preparing for the activity which was that night... yeah strange but it was very, very refreshing, and cold haha :)
   I'm excited, things are starting to get exciting again, members and recent converts are bringing friends to church, members are getting more and more comfortable with me, trusting me more, joking with me more.
   I'm so grateful for my mission, the opportunity that I have to learn and grow and help other people receive eternal blessings. I've already seen the changes in the lives of people that I've been able to baptize. I'm so thankful for the scriptures and the power that they have, they really were given to us as a guide, a way that we can be happy. I love prayer, love it. It's real, it's a gift that we have in order to talk to someone who knows exactly how we feel. And we can feel our answers through the Holy Ghost. I love my family and the examples that they have given me. My family is the best. I love them so, so much. Thank you for all your support all your prayers everything you've given me.
   ELDER RALPH



11/27/2012

26 Nov 2012

     Attention Everyone! Please bust out the popcorn and pretzels cause this is gunna be a long letter haha. I felt horrible this past week that I wrote so little that I want to make it up to ya´ll.
     So two weeks ago Sunday I taught Gospel Principles class on prayer which was a pretty easy topic, it went so well that I decided to do it again one week ago. That time the lesson was on Priesthood.... yeah there was only one lady in the class that Sunday so it was pretty interesting haha I was hoping that there would be more men so I could grill them about their Priesthood responsibilities haha, but no, that didn't happen. And just to clarify it wasn't because I was teaching again or that I taught the week before that people didn't show up haha. Then this past week my companion and I were asked to talk in Sacrament meeting. I was going to go second and him third. I talked about missionary work and how every member is a missionary, and he talked on charity and love. So let's just say I didn't sleep well this week haha but it went okay. When the meeting started the bishop leaned over and told us that the first speaker didn't show up so I would be going first my companion second and he would speak third. GREAT! so I went first started off made everyone chuckle a little bit then before I was even a third way into my talk the secretary gave me a piece of paper that said my time was up, ahhhh. I was just getting warmed up, haha. It was probably because they didn't understand what I was saying, haha, but it went well and everyone said I did a great job, haha. I can't tell if they were lying or not haha.
     This past Tuesday we had zone conference where all the newbies had to get up and bare their testimonies in front of all the mission and the mission president. That was crazy scary.
     Another interesting thing that happened these past few weeks, my intestines haven't really been working. Thanks to laxatives I feel much better, haha.
     Sorry but duty calls and I have to cut this letter short too. I love you all and I am so thankful for your prayers and for your support. Love you and miss you so much
ELDER RALPH










11/19/2012

19 November 2012

Dear Everyone,
Happy Birthday to Katelyn! Happy, Happy Birthday! Parábens pra você! Oooh I just wanna sqeeze her! haha Oi did she get my letter?
Still no boxes sorry.. BUT tomorrow we have a zone meeting so maybe there will be boxes there. Cross your fingers!
But this past week I was able to get a letter from Elder Chayce Baldwin, an Email from Elder Sabin and Letter from Carli Treu! Woot Woot :) Hopefully the letters I wrote back will make it this time:)
This week was a little bit slower than normal. There was a fiada, some sort of celebration three out of the five days this week where almost all the stores are closed and everyone, honestly everyone goes to the beach. It was hard to find our investigators, and the ones we did find weren't sober enough to talk to... it was sad, one of our investigators who stopped drinking coffee, stopped smoking and stopped drinking beer, gave in because her friends came over with alcohol. She saw us coming and locked herself in her house, and her friends said she wasn't home. That was a bummer, but if she's still willing we're gunna keep working with her. Its difficult being lied to especially when you saw blatantly the truth. So this week we focused more on our recent converts, answering questions, making questions, and inviting them to activities. It was good. One of our recent converts, a young bright girl 12 years old, who already finished reading the Book of Mormon, was able to go to the temple this past week. Every couple of months the stakes get together and take a caravan down to the Recife temple. She was able to go there and do baptisms for the dead. We're super excited for her. Her mom is 100% supportive of her and the church, in fact today they invited us over for lunch, just to talk and be company. Its weird in my area we work a lot with kids. The parents want their kids to have a better life, to have religion, to have the blessings that religion brings and to keep them away from the things of the world that are very prevalent here in Maceio. But the parents are unwilling to change themselves, to set the example for their kids. In the end the kids fall back into the traditions of their parents. I hope that someday all the parents will realize that they can change and set a better example for their kids.
So Monday was my birthday right, just in case ya´ll missed it, haha, When we got home that afternoon from P-day, we got a call from a member of the church who asked for a blessing. We went to his house and there was a big birthday surprise for me, balloons, members of the Ward. It was really cool and I was super surprised.
Sorry, but this is all the time I have. Don't be mad, I promise next week will be longer.
LOVE FROM ELDER RALPH

11/12/2012

12 Nov 2012 Happy Birthday Elder Ralph

Wow
Well let me just start by saying that I love you guys So much! Thank you all for your Birthday Wishes and your love and support. Your prayers, your e-mails and Letters everything. Love you all and miss you so much.
Yup I'm 20 years old... Woah... I'm OLD! hahaha I'm not a teenager anymore wowho! Yeah it's weird that my birthday is already here. :)
Got a letter from Elder Sabin this week! :) Miss that kid.
Sunday my companion was asked to give a talk in sacrament meeting, so I was delegated the opportunity to teach Sunday school...... UH.. Okay haha I was able to choose my topic so I chose an easy one, prayer, prayer, prayer. It went pretty well but I kinda felt like I was telling them things they already knew, but that's alright. I was able to find some pretty cool examples of the importance of prayer that even I didn't know before-hand. So mother dear, if you have any tips on teaching let me know. Cause I'm going to ask if I can teach every Sunday, maybe, hahaha. Wish me luck, I'll need it. :)
(PACKAGES) if you pay over $50 to ship a package because of weight, I have to pay a large amount of money to receive it, and I'm pretty sure they don't let us receive those large packages. I Think haha, so you can send all you want sister Jung anyone, just don't send a frying pan or heavy things, haha. Mother darling, I got your letter this week, because we had a zone meeting this week so the ZL brought the mail. He also brought a huge stack of boxes from the states but none of them were for me... PITTY haha. But we have to go to the mission home this week to drop off things so maybe it will have arrived by then, and if not, hopefully in December haha. The Dutch Ovens are in the shed haha.
The other day a man was brutally shot right outside the house of our investigator, the man wasn't caught, and the reason was unknown. That was for you, Mom<3 haha
This week was really busy but we didn't get a whole lot done. We had a lot of meetings both for the mission and for the ward which both consume an hour of walking each way, a lot of walking this week. BUT, oh my goodness, I can't believe that was this week. So Thursday we planned an activity for our ward, they could invite their friends, family, we invited random people that we came across, everyone right, right. We made little invitations, bought food, whole nine yards, for missionaries we were pretty darn prepared. The activity was that we would give every person, five paper dollars, and they could use it to buy food drinks, go to a dance room with music and lights, buy more food, go to church and pay tithing but then receive another dollar as a blessing. Then with the money that you had left you could enter into the room of the stars, moon or sun. The room with the stars had juice with salt in it, these roots that you can't eat raw, the room with the moon had saltine crackers and water and the sun room had juice, pop, sweets, everything you could imagine. So it was to help teach everyone about the three degrees of glory. It would have been really cool.
We estimated about 30 people to show up, but we had about 60.... and probably 40 of them were kids from Riojenaldo an area very poor and different right. Well they were a hand full to put it that way haha. I volunteered to help with the dance (before hand), guard the door and encourage people to come and dance! Woot Woot Woot. WoW let's just say it was a good thing I volunteered cause I was probably the only one that could hold back all the kids that were trying to get into the dance. Holy Smokes, that night was probably the largest test of my patience EVER! hahaha. Long story short the kids did something that was beyond disrespectful, and I can't even describe that night it was that awful, haha, unorganized chaos, but I made the decision to make all the kids leave that were yelling disrespecting, vandalizing, hitting. I had to very lovingly force them out of the church, and then guard the door so they couldn't come back in, I stood there denying entry, watching as they verbally degraded me. It had to be done.... the members were appreciative of it though. My companion started to cry when he saw what the kids did to one of the rooms. We had three other sets of missionaries helping us but it wasn't enough... but the best part was that it really brought me and my companion closer together. Afterwards when we made the long walk home we couldn't help but just laugh :) laughing on the edge of crying haha. "never doing that again" haha now we have a lot of stuff to joke about. Man that was a horrible night haha.
Last night we slept at the DL´s house, we slept on the balcony under the stars and the wind! We stayed there cause this morning we went running on the Broadway, right next to the ocean. It Was Georgeous! It's really difficult to run with your head turned to one side the whole time, almost ran into a few people. And I'm outta shape! Running is way different than walking that's for sure. haha
The mission work is coming along great. I'm feeling more and more comfortable teaching people, and just talking in general. It's really cool. I love getting to know people.
Sincerely the Adult Missionary
ELDER RALPH

11/05/2012

5 November 2012

Happy Birthday to little Mister Andrew! Big 2! Man that's crazy that they're all growing up, cause the pictures that I have of them aren't changing! Haha He´ll be a chunk when I get back, can't wait to see him. HAPPY BIRTHDAY:)
That's so cool that you got to go to the 5th Avenue Theater for free! I went there once with PBD to "watch burn the floor" (a dance group). What did you see?
That's awesome that Samuel is playing volleyball in school! I love volleyball! Keep it up Samuel! We´ll play when I get back. :) I heard about New York and New Jersey probably sooner than you think, everyone told me about it cause when I say I'm from Washington they think the capitol, Washington DC. so I heard about that pretty quick and it caused quite a worry the first few days, but honestly I forgot about it until I saw that you mentioned it in your e-mail.

This week while I was on a division with another Elder, I had the opportunity to teach a Buddhist lady, but she believed in god... And I taught her in English. Well kind of English, she wanted me to speak English but it was seriously hard to speak English. Words are starting to come faster in Portuguese than in English! Haha. But she asked me some really good questions and some that I wasn't prepared for, like... do you believe in aliens.... HUH? Haha. But one question that she asked me was, "how do you know that there is a god?", "How do you know it wasn't an accident?" "Big boom. Ooooo"... She lived in an apartment building next to the ocean and her floor was pretty high up so I decided to take her to the window that was opened behind me on the other side of the room. I had the idea to show her the ocean all the people, trees, plants, the gorgeous scenery, everything! right... but when I got to the window, it was facing away from the ocean and showed absolutely nothing, Bahaha, That would happen.. But I explained everything and she understood. Woot Woot. We also visited a man who was preparing to be baptized. My temp companion said the prayer, looked at me and said, Elder Ralph, can you explain the importance of going to church? Uhh sure, haha thanks for the warning haha, but I did it and he understood. :) Yeeeaaah haha it was kinda cool to be able to explain something without practicing it or knowing before-hand what to say. Awesome.
We have a new District Leader, an American from Cali who´s really cool and he´s been helping me grow a bunch, both spiritually and with the language.
This week... this week was honestly pretty hard... We had a baptism this week and the only time our investigators could be interviewed by the district leader was 8ish at night. So we did a division. I went to stay at the LD´s house with his companion and he stayed with mine. So I stayed there for two days and we hardly did anything, didn't really teach, didn't find anyone, no one wanted to hear our message. It was difficult. but what was even more difficult was when I got back with my companion it was like everything changed, suddenly we had a bunch more people we were teaching, I was confused, asking questions, there was definitely a big gap between us... which was hard, then we had another division with the second counselor and an RM on Saturday and Sunday, which caused even more separation! So it was difficult I was super confused about everything, I felt like I didn't know anything about our investigators and....ugh it was bad. But with companionship inventory and a lot of pray everything is settling back down to normal. Prayer really does have the power to cast out all your bad thoughts, and give the patience that is required to have the Holy Ghost with you again. Even when the answer is obvious, the power to complete or do what is necessary comes from the Holy Ghost.
One thing, that I'm starting to see more and more, is how amazing these people are underneath. They may be smoking, drinking, tattoos, the whole nine yards, but they really do love God, know God, and really on God. And we're here to rely on him in the right way and to help them realize what he has done for us. We visited an in-active man who´s younger brothers were being baptized and we invited him to the baptism and the confirmation, Saturday and Sunday. He couldn't make it to the baptism but he came to the Sacrament meeting to watch them receive the Holy Ghost. It was such an amazing feeling to see him walk through that door, YES!!! And the members really reached out to him and I think he really enjoyed it. We´ll work more with him this week to get him active again.
Thank you all for your prayers on my behalf. I really do need them. I miss you all so so much. Thank you for taking the time to write me and encourage me, you're amazing.

With Love Unfailing,
ELDER RALPH

11/02/2012

29 October 2012

Heeeeeey:)
Well it sounds like everything is winding down to the normal pace at home, minus Samuel playing the trumpet, which sounds.... fun haha can't wait to hear him.
 So we had a zone meeting this week and I saw two boxes on the table Oooo.. could it be? but it wasn't it was for two other Americans... "Pitty" :) but I did find out. If you pay more than $50 to ship a box I have to pay like $100 to receive it. So you can send me stuff... just not too much stuff eh? haha
 Oh could you ask Sister Jung for Michael's e-mail address? and Greg's too? Cause I'm aloud to talk to missionaries and I'd really like to keep in touch with them.
 Mom would get an awesome phone... Hey, Dad, tell me how long it takes her to lose it, haha, jokes, jokes, love you.

This week was a slow one... Or it just seemed really long. Thinking back I think it was because last Saturday we had a meeting with the bishopric and we made plans to go on splits Saturday and Sunday to teach lessons, visit less active members and invite inactive people back to church. So it was just gunna be me and a member teaching lessons..... Uh Oh... This made the week long, I was honestly dreading this division. I was super nervous. But it actually went really well! I went with the second counselor, who is huge! Buff! tall, and served a mission ten years ago. It was really nice to have the controls, to be in charge, like he would look at me for the answers, to start lessons, to give a message, to decide what to do. It was a cool feeling. It was like switching places with the driver on the road to Utah, haha, POWER! Haha, it went really well. AND we visited three girls who were less active, shared a message and invited them to church the next morning. And they all came! That's cause there's a new American missionary in town, Wahaha, SMACKS, no no no, we honestly shared a very powerful message with them and were very direct, You need to go to church. It was so awesome to see them at church and the members were even more excited to see them! And it built their confidence in us. Woot Woot!
 I've been able to become a good friend with many members of the ward, especially the sisters that feed us lunch, haha. It seems like all our conversations are about food, haha. Have you tried this? this? this? nope, nope, nope. But I did have octopus this week that was awesome. :) I'm slowly but surely able to understand the people more and more. Like at first you have to think about every... single.... word... and by the time I figure it out they are already down with that sentence and the one that followed. But now it's coming along and things are clicking faster, ya know, ya know. BUT, haha, we were at lunch at a member's house and it was my turn to give the message right,... so I read a scripture that I thought I marked but it was the wrong scripture, bahahah, but I didn't find that out until after I read and explained what I thought it meant to the members. Haha, but I went with it anyway and it was all in all a great message, but the scripture had nothing to do with what I said, Hahaha. Love it! :)
 This week we had the baptism of Two cousins, two great kids who are very bright. They love to ask questions to understand everything completely. So rather than just saying yes I understand they sincerely ask questions in order to understand. And they said that if they made the decision, they want it to be for the right reason and then stick to it. That's where the spirit comes in.... And they're moving to an area that has a really strong ward so hopefully they will grow strong in the gospel. :) They're fun. They facebook stalked me so if they send you a message in poor english I had nothing to do with it :)
 I'm so thankful for the examples, the love and support of my family, each of you have influenced my life in so many ways. You're all so strong.. and Awesome. :) Love you guys So much and miss you more than ever. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay happy, stay fearless.

Love You All, Yes you :)
 Yours Truly,
 ELDER RALPH

 

10/23/2012

22 October 2012 - ONE TRANSFER COMPLETE

Hello Dearest Family and Awesome Friends, 

   Greg Got his Call! That's awesome! Do you know when he leaves? Is he speaking Spanish? That's awesome I'm happy for him. Still blows my mind that Michelle is getting married... I wanna go! What can you tell me about Mr. Alberto??
   This Week was pretty good; looking back it was really long. Way back at the beginning of the week we had a district meeting with the president. (Was that this week?) It's all kinda blending together. Where do I start...
  Probably the most exciting thing that happened this week was teaching. We stopped by the house of a boy that we are teaching but unfortunately he wasn't there, BUT his cousin answered the door and very excitingly let us in, little did he know of our plan. WaHaHa.. he´s a really bright, nice kid. We taught him about the restoration and during the lesson he had a lot of questions, but real questions, questions about the gospel, temples, priesthood, he read from the scriptures everything! It was awesome. When it came time for me to teach my part of the restoration... Everything just flowed, like something that I've been working on is looking at people while I teach, staring contest...haha like while I teach I have a tendency to look around while I think of a word or how to conjugate a verb or at my companion for confirmation about what I was saying. But this time I just looked at him, I wasn't trying to per say, it just kinda happened. And I was SO tempted to teach the next part but it was for my companion. The language is coming along.
   Sorry I don't have very much time to write today. Duty Calls :) Next Week Will Be Bigger Promise!  But I love you all SO much, I love my family, you're everything to me.
ELDER RALPH

Oi Elder Ralph here for Part Two! :)
   I only had ten minutes to write ya´ll and my companion didn't even get the chance to write his fam so we're taking the time now to write our letters home real quick.
   I mentioned the two cousins that we're teaching together. They're both progressing and both went to stake conference just yesterday. A bus drove through our area and picked up all the members and our investigators. (for some reason people are way more inclined to go to church when they don't have to walk) :) they really liked it, I got to sit by the curious one and tried to answer all his questions, why do we raise our hands and sustain the prophets? what is Zion? Difficult questions to answer but I did my best and I think he understood. I've been helping him with his English too, that's way fun to teach English to people, but it still catches me off guard when they say "Good Bye" rather than "chau"... Crazy. President Gonzaga and Sister Gonzaga spoke at the conference so that was cool to see them again. It's nice to be in the area I'm in now cause we see the president often, rather than the other state, 6 hours away.....
   One of the hardest moments this week was one that tested self-control, obedience, made me a tiny bit homesick haha. So we were visiting a member's house, talking outside and his brother pulled up on his dirt bike. Being me and having been raised in an awesome family I went and talked to him and had a little chit chat. The hardest thing was when he asked me sincerely if I wanted to ride his dirt bike...... SOOO tempting!!!! But with my luck with doing things I shouldn't do (jumping on the trampoline on Sunday... Liz:) ) I would have crashed and died. Yeah I went through a little withdrawal haha but I'm good now. I'm fine, I'm cool, I'm good. :)
   Last night our house was literally shaking, the windows were chattering, and a glass of water had ripples as if a dinosaur was prowling around.... Dooom.... Doooom.... <--(reference for Carli Treu) LoL. Right next to our house is this field with a court in the middle where people usually play soccer. But last night they had a Dance, Super loud and a Bunch of people! Screaming, haha. All night haha... So sleep was pretty much nonexistent.
   My poor companion... he has so much patience for me, I'll ask what a word means and seriously two minutes later I have to ask it again. I'm surprised he hasn't killed me yet haha but I'm learning slowly but surely. But it's not coming as fast as I want it to... Yesterday he asked me to give him a blessing. It's an amazing feeling giving a blessing, I probably didn't say everything correctly but what came was real. Like I thought for a few minutes about what I could say beforehand, and I didn't say any of it, I just said what came to my mind at the time. It's an amazing feeling to know that you have the priesthood, a power to work miracles and help others in the name of Christ. Love it. And I'm thankful for the example of my father on how to be a worthy priesthood holder. And I hope and pray that I will always be worthy and willing to help others.
   I've seen how this gospel changes lives and how it really lights up the eyes of the people who receive it. Love it!
   Love you all more than ever. Till next week :) 

ELDER Ralph

10/15/2012

15 Oct 2012

Helloooooo, Dearest Family!
    Hey thanks for the email Pops it's great to hear from you. I can totally tell the difference between your e-mails and mom's, haha. Love them both! but you just tell me different things, haha. Miss you both so much and love you like crazy! Your fire alarm experience sounds awesome, haha, that's my Dad! The man with the keys :) When I get back your gunna have to take me to work at the temple with you. It sounds like a lot of fun. And good luck with the shed, can't wait to see it! (I'm still bitter that you got a riding lawnmower AFTER I left, haha). Elder Jung! Man I wish I could have gone to see his setting apart and Greg's too, miss those guys, let me know as soon as you hear about Greg's call, Please. You should do some facebook stalking for me and see if Cathy is engaged yet... :) Dad thank you so much dad for always being there for me and being the greatest example in every way, I honestly want to be just like you.
    Michelley Bellys getting married?! Que é isso! WHAT! When did this happen? Who's Alberto? haha, Well shoooot good for her! :) Oh the things you sacrifice for a mission... Tell her congratulations for me and that I love her bunches!
    I just got back from our chapel, our district played volleyball, outside, in the middle of the day, And I'm pretty sure I got a sun burn but it was worth it. It felt great to put on the running shoes and just go crazy. And two of secretaries of the mission president came and played with us. One of them, Elder Langlois, is 7 feet tall and played volleyball for BYU his freshmen year. I was able to hold my own thanks to my awesome sisters, yeah. He made the game interesting, every time he hit it we would all duck and cover, haha, but it was way fun, and hot.
    I´ll say, one thing that Brazil has over America is this.... They celebrate children's day... like father's day or mother's day. Haha, children's day! How cool is that and why hasn't America stepped up to this tradition, haha. What's weird to think I'm almost NOT a teenager anymore... Wooooaaah. Eww I'm getting old almost 20! Two Zero! Crazy.
    So anyway children's day is basically a day where all the stores close and everyone goes and drinks. The streets were packed with lawn chairs, bottles and people. And lots of loud music, haha, I saw a truck with a trailer that was hauling a speaker 5x8 feet. Huge! So a lot of our investigators were intoxicated or passed out on their couches most of the weekend. Before my mission I honestly don't think I've seen a drunk person. But I sure have now. They like to come up to you, shake your hand for five minutes and talk three inches away from your face. But at the same time they are really funny, people that we come in contact with everyday who aren't members, don't want to accept the gospel, but are our friends, they were fun to talk to, and watch them dance to Bob Marley.
    It's amazing to see how happy people can be when they have so little. These people have so little just family, a few possessions... that's it, but they're so happy its awesome, its definitely taught me that you don't need things, worldly possessions to be happy, just a family and a belief in Christ love it.
    This past week we taught the Plan of Salvation to one of our recent baptisms. That was probably the hardest thing I've ever done, I'm not even sure if I could do it in English. There's so many parts and concepts, and putting it all in the right order so it makes sense and actually seems like "A Plan"... Not easy, and then in a different language?! Woah, Time Out. But we've practiced it a few times, drew a picture or two and discussed what is most important and it's coming along. But still needs a few more months of practicing.
    One thing that really drove me crazy this week was just not being able to focus! Not because I was thinking about home or things like that... It was because every two minutes a loud motor cycle would drive by or a car playing super loud music, or someone would yell something, or fireworks would go off or a dog would come and pee on your leg. Things like this that I'm personally not accustomed to, driving me crazy, that I can't focus and stayed focus...ya know. But hopefully I'll get more and more accustomed to the loud active lifestyle here. Its sometimes really gets frustrating, cause if you're distracted in anyway and not thinking about what's being said, what the investigator is saying, the spirit won't be there to help you. I've felt that straight forward. When the spirit isn't there you get nervous, you doubt the knowledge you have of the language and of the principles that you're teaching and rather than opening your mouth and speaking you feel more inclined to shut it and let your companion take over. That's probably the worst feeling ever, not feeling the spirit, cause what takes it place is Satan, Diablo, and he makes you think that you don't know anything, that you´ll never be able to teach, that you're a horrible missionary. So this was all written in third person but it's an experience that I had this past week.
    You can't get down when you can't do something that you desire to do more than anything, when you have a dream that didn't come true, you just have to get off the ground and onto your knees, pray for strength, then get up and keep working hard.
    OH! Almost forgot, this past Sunday was our testimony meeting. Every time I bore my testimony at home or school I would always make a little plan in my head, a little rough draft on what I was going to say right, but right when you stood up my thought would go sit down in my original seat, haha .... Same thing happens in Brazil, haha, but it wasn't that bad for not really knowing the language... I think they understood what I said, haha. It was funny, right when I got up the microphone stopped working so I had to like yell my mediocre Portuguese to the ward, haha, but it was good. Oh! and I blessed the sacrament too! busy, busy, busy.
    So this was my week :) Learning more and more every day!
 ps. How's the pooch? Did you teach her any new tricks?

 Yours Truly,
 ELDER RALPH
 BRAZIL

10/08/2012

8 October 2012

Hello darling family!

When did you decide you were going to Utah haha where was I? haha, that's cool that ya got to see everyone :)

Man sounds like ya´ll are having blast! Going to Utah again! Football games, family reunions, conference, sounds like a blast. And to answer dad's question they don't make me homesick. But the one thing that did make me homesick was watching the first session of conference, just at the beginning when it showed the Salt Lake Temple and the Conference Center and all the people! I was just like ugh!!!! I wanna be there! But once the speakers started talking in Portuguese it all went away. And every time the choir would sing it gave my brain some time to reset and cool down. I was actually able to understand quite a lot of the conference. Except for the talk on family history... honestly I didn't understand a word, haha. My favorite talk was Russell M. Nelson cause it was all about missionary work... if you have questions... ask the missionaries, haha, that's me! haha and yeah having changed the age requirement I bet more boys would go on missions because they won't have that gap between college and a mission and more sisters would serve cause they won't have the chance to get swooped up by RM´s haha Hey mom! They're building a temple where you were born TUCSON AZ. That's cool.

So I went to the first session at our chapel which it about a 40 min walk but then after the first session the sound stopped working. After saying a pray we decided to walk to the stake center which was about a hour and ten minutes away, and it wasn't the coolest of days. When we got to the stake center with 5 minutes to spare the sisters who stayed behind called and said that the sound was working again... Ah! BUT it was all worth it because the stake center had AC! WHAT! AND they showed the session in English for the American elders. I walked into a room... 8 other American elders speaking English and the room was 16 degree Celsius... I was in heaven. :-D So I watched the afternoon session there in English, missed the priesthood session because it started at 9 here and watched Sunday sessions at my chapel. I'm about to watch the priesthood session now. Sure wish I could have been there with ya´ll at conference. Haha, every time the congregation would sing I would scan the crowd thinking, I know that I know at least 5 people at this session. Haha, and what do ya know...my own family, haha. 

Prophets are awesome! For my free time (which is nothing) and sometimes during personal study I've been reading the conference talks from April in Portuguese, that way it helps with language and spiritual growth. Man, someday I want to be able to speak like them in Portuguese. It´ll happen, it´ll happen. Even in Portuguese you can tell that they are speaking for our Heavenly Father. We brought our investigator Stefani and her mother to the Sunday conference and they both loved it. Stefani was baptized between the sessions... there were many tears from both her and her mother. There are times in the mission so far that you fear that a person may drift away from the straight and narrow path, like you're not sure if they completely understand the importance of what they are doing, for me that's hard cause I don't want all the work do be for nothing and I don't want them to drift away. It was great to see how intense Stefani is progressing, the ward loves her she has lots of friends in the ward. Her mother supports her whole heartedly to go to church and even seminary!! She stayed and watched the second session of conference with us.

Alright... it's starting to get hot here hahaha, I'M MELTING!!!! :-D

This week was a little harder than normal, just a bunch of walking and a whole lot of working, a lot of people weren't home, or there was lack of communication which wasted a lot of our time. So hopefully this week will be better. We have a number of people in mind that could progress but we just have to find them home! Since the homes are kind of small here, people are hardly ever home, out playing soccer or working, but like I said we have high hopes for this week.
 Last week, we arranged an activity for every Thursday and Friday. Youth and anyone who wants to come plays soccer at our church, but this week instead of foteball (soccer), we showed a movie, The Restoration, it was pretty good but putting a bunch of hyper boys who breath, dream and eat soccer.... you can imagine it was interesting, but about halfway through they suddenly turned into little angels haha and it was a success, with help of ice cream cake and guarana, haha.

Anyone have any ideas for activities that we could do in the ward to promote missionary work and get new investigators? Mom, Dad, Jon, Jess? anyone?

Thank you so much for writing me and for your support, your prayers and your love. I miss each and every one of you so much and your examples. 

Elder Ralph
Maceio Brazil



10/01/2012

1 October 2012

Dearly Beloved, haha

What a pleasure it is to be writing you this fine day (even if it's raining).

I received your letter Mommsie, Samuel´s, Sarah's as well, and from Ms. Carli Treu :) I was able to send back replies today to all of them so let me know when you get them! Thank you so much for writing me all of you. It really means a lot :) my hands cramping, haha.

And about packages I really don't know, I would look in that pamphlet that I left. I know that if its over a certain weight I have to pay a bunch of money to get it, or else it will just be sent back to you. I don't know... but! It's worth a shot. ;)

Hey couple questions... how's Greg doing? Have you heard anything about his papers or if he got his call or not?

This week, honestly, went by really fast. We have so many people that we have to visit and work with that it's almost overwhelming. This week we're going to concentrate on slimming down to only work with those investigators who are progressing, reading, praying, going to church, etc. That way our time is more efficiently spent, we spend a lot of time walking around going from investigator to investigator trying to catch them in their house, but most of the time they aren't there. We had another baptism last week of a boy who had lessons from other missionaries went to church had all the lessons and wanted to be baptized but lost contact with the missionaries... it's the second time it's happened. He just came up to us and started talking to us like he knew us and said he still wanted to be baptized. Miracles of the mission. He was able to get baptized and confirmed last weekend. Another excitement is Esteffani. She's an 11 year old girl who looks and acts like she's 16, she's honestly been reading the Book of Mormon praying and going to church. She's already read like 200 pages in the Book of Mormon, WOAH! yeah, she says she reads at school and at home, so every time we go and visit her she always has questions and wants to talk about the Lamanites and Nephites... it's really cool. And her mom is supportive of her, her mom drinks coffee every morning so we're still working on her, she's next, wahaha. Esteffani, went to church with us on Sunday, it was cool cause we got to ride the bus with her instead of walking two miles uphill, and busses here are more like roller coasters, they go so fast! haha, AND we saw her mom at the mall downtown where we go to pick up money for the week to come, and she said she was shopping for more Sunday clothes for Esteffani to go to church in that were a little more modest!!!!!! Woot Woot water here we come! I'm super pumped for General Conference this coming week and yup it´ll all be in Portuguese, so I'm hoping to understand at least 63% of what the translator is saying, cause the prophets speak very metaphorically, big words. I've been trying to read the talks from April in the Liahona but they're so difficult cause the words are hard to grasp. And Esteffani said she wanted to come watch conference too!

That is for sure the highlight of this week Esteffani´s progress, and of course a baptism. :)

A man came up to me and my companion, said that he wants to change and take his family to church. He also said that he´s killed two people... uh... but we're still gunna work with him. but not gunna lie its kinda scary. but! he wants to change so that's good:)
We've made a lot of friends with non-members, people who smoke and drink just off the canal by their houses, and when we pass by they put everything away and talk to us, ask a bunch of questions and invite them to church and activities. One of them, an older gent, has started to come to activities (soccer) and has really enjoyed himself.

Today we went to Walmart to print photos, a huge mall to get cash and walked past Sam´s club on the way. We had lunch at Subway, and walked past a McDonalds. All this was in the area right next to our's, There is seriously a division here between the rich and the poor, the people close to the beach and the people on the hill where I work. Me and my comp walked to the beach today, nothing like feeling the ocean breeze and seeing the clear greenish blue water. Ugh wanted to get in so bad but, I'm a missionary, haha.

Today we have a family home evening and were watching "17 miracles" with a family, and we only have it in English, wahahahaha YES! and subtitles in Portuguese. So that should be interesting trying to explain everything in Portuguese. Pumped!

Family, friends, especially my mom and my dad, I love you all so much and miss you, I'm beyond thankful for the opportunity I have to learn and grow in the gospel. This is really what I want. Thank you for all you love and support. Love you all so much and miss you like crazy.

Sincerely,
Elder Ralph

Maceio Brazil

Questions and Answers to and from Ben:
Your dad said that I needed to ask questions about the weather, your house, do you cook for yourself, what's your schedule, etc.? Oh right, our house is fairly modest, ants and cockroaches running around everywhere but it's still nice. We buy our food together and Elder Honorato cooks, but he´s teaching me. :)
Animals? Horses, Donkeys, Rats, Chickens, Pigs, Roosters, little Geckos, bunch of birds, cooking a lot of noodles and rice :)
 What do you have to cook with? Is there electricity? What voltage do you have? Have you used your converted? I have 220 voltage and cook with gas, uh microwave, stove, haven't needed to use my converter yet but I will soon to charge my camera.
 How big are the cockroaches? What is the strangest thing you've eaten? (from Jenna) Cockroaches are about an inch and a half long, strangest thing I've eaten... horse and pig feet.. yeah strange but tasted good. :)
 But coconut juice is the BOM! mmmm so good! what else?
 Is it fresh coconut juice or canned? Do you cut fresh coconuts yourself? If so, what with? Haha, that's funny, fresh coconut from the nut, and cold.
 Well you just buy the whole coconut and drink the water inside, idk (translation -I don't know) haha, its hard shopping for food that you don't know the name of the food, haha.

9/24/2012

Week 11 Sept 24, 2012

Why hello family that I love so much!
It's great to hear from you all and to know that you're still alive and kickin' haha.
 I haven't received any letters and I don't even know how to receive letters, but if you sent it the CTM they will forward it here but it'll just take longer. But! I can't wait to get it!
Good for Michael and the Johnson twins, that's totally cool, I'm way excited for all of them, and that's so cool that dad got to go with him through the temple. Jealous :)
 Man sure do wish I could be there to help you take care of the munchkins mom, and squeeze their chubby cheeks:) but I'm sure you'll manage. totally and you have no excuse to be jealous of Jon and Jenna, haha, I Have An Excuse, haha, all I gotta say is that I'm going on a cruise right when I get married, haha, if I can afford it. It sounds like you had an awesome stake conference, visiting with people, and hearing Rebekah play the piano.
Let me tell ya, one regret so far, I wish I had stuck with learning how to play the piano cause in my ward they don't have anyone to play... and it makes a huge difference. Sorry mom... you were right, haha, but I'm kinda teaching myself and practicing whenever I have time so who knows maybe I'll be able to play by the time I get back.
This week... uh... this week actually went by really fast. We work hard all day. I really like my area, I have a very poor area, all the houses are made out of brick and cement, dogs, cats, rats, geckos, chickens, pigeons, horses and trash all over the place. Love it though I went on splits the other day because our DL was giving a baptism interview to one of our investigators and I went with his companion to his area which was the very wealthy part of the city, and it was totally different. Hardly anyone wanted to talk to us, and many people were kinda rude. That was probably the hardest day of my mission so far, it was crazy and I learned a lot. Haha, it was funny, the elder that I was with, every time he said, alright this doors yours, whoever answered it would be a hardcore atheist or would just open the door then shut it right away, haha, it was great, haha.
 This morning I finished the Book of Mormon. I started reading it halfway through the CTM and I just finished it, not bad for only having an hour a day to read, which is not enough, haha, now I have a goal to finish it in Portuguese, but that will for sure take a lot longer.
 Almost every lunch, we eat with members, and I'm actually able to follow the conversation, right, and without fail every time during the meal the family or whoever's talking will turn to me and try and talk to me. They think their talking slow but they aren't, haha, and every time they look at me my mind just goes blank... its kinda frustrating, but it's so hard to understand the older people, parents, grandparents. and I want to chip into the conversation during dinner but it's scary cause I'm not 100% sure what they said, ya know, did she have ten kids or did her friend have ten kids, little details about what the person is saying are hard to catch sometimes.
The scariest moment this week was when we were walking to one of our lessons and a police car passed us (which was like a ford focus BAHAHA) but after it passed us it stopped and we were passing it when the passenger window rolled down. OH SHOOT! let me describe these chaps... picture a HUGE Brazilian with a bunch of gear, vests, batons, pistols, and those awesome looking German hats, and a mustache. He pokes his head out the window and gestures us over, at first I was like cool! Three guys in a really small car, but then he started talking to me and pointing at me and I was like... Uh Oh.. I thought he was asking for my citizenship papers, (which I did have) but he was pointing at my hands... uh, Ya wanna cuff me?? but after a while I figured it out. He had had the lessons from missionaries in the past and was wondering if I had a CTR ring on, haha, WHEW! Then he went about asking the usual questions... oh are you from Provo? Yeah that was super scary but awesome.
One of my more frustrating moments this week,... we had a goal to get all our progressing investigators to church this week, so we went on splits with two guys from our ward to go around and gather our sheep, haha. I went to a house that had three possible people to come to church, but the doors and windows were shut and it was dark inside, not good. But I knocked anyway. A lady answered that I'd never seen in the house before and I asked her the names of each our investigators if they were in and everyone of them she said had left, disappointing. We visited the house later that night and one of our leading investigators was actually in the house and was waiting for us, but I swear the lady said she wasn't. But because she didn't make it to church, she can't be baptized this week, but two weeks down the road, because of me!!! Ah frustrating, but I'm fine, I'm cool, I'm good, haha.
 I love being a missionary and having the opportunity to focus on the gospel and helping others, my testimony grows each and every day..
 Love you all so much and I pray for you every day
Love Your Missionary
 Elder Ralph

9/17/2012

September 17, 2012

Hello familia!
  HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ELIZABETH AND SUSAN! Sure wish I could be there to give ya a big ol' hug :)
 I hope everything's going well and you're all alive and doing dandy, haha.
 Haha, not gunna lie, its kind of weird typing in English, haha.
   Where do I start! well I left Sao Paulo at 3 in the morning, took a plane to Brasilian, and then to Maceio. Our group almost missed our flight twice! haha. We landed and were greeted with a warm welcome from the mission president, his wife, his assistants and secretaries. It was awesome. President Gonzaga and his wife are extremely nice and spunky, haha. We went to their house, had an awesome meal, an interview, and then were assigned our companions. My trainer is awesome, his name is Elder Honorato. He's from Parana, a state in Brazil. He's been out 6 months and speaks "nada" English, haha, oh and we're the only ones in our house. So I am forced to only speak Portuguese which I really enjoy, that's why it's so hard to type in Portuguese (English?), haha. It's funny my whole screen is underlined red cause it's in English. My companion is awesome. He always tells me he loves me and says I'll be a great missionary and I really, really hope that's true. Our area in called Canada.... oh yeah I forgot to tell you, I got transferred to CANADA, "Gooday mate," haha. No, Canada is an area just off the coast of Maceio so if you ever look at a photo of Maceio all the huts and shacks that are in the background... that's my area. It's one of the poorest in Maceio. So much poverty and insanitation, but the people are so happy and receptive to us, it's amazing to see how people can be so happy with so little.
  This past Saturday I was able to baptize one of our investigators.... ALREADY! That was an amazing experience, my first week already having the opportunity to baptize a young man, I didn't understand everything he said to me, hahaha, but he's really cool. Another experience... a girl was baptized last week but couldn't come to church to get confirmed... and guess who has two thumbs and got to confirm her.... this elder, haha, yeah uh, that was probably the scariest things I've ever done, giving a blessing in a language that I hardly knew, to a girl a didn't know and to a ward that I would be with for the next 12 weeks yeah that..... was scary, but I did it, hopefully they understood what I said, nobody laughed, haha, that's a good sign, haha.
   My companion is awesome and so is the ward. He's teaching me so much. We got a call from a boy in the ward that said his friend wants to be baptized, so we went there, taught him everything, all the lessons all the commitments and he's being baptized this Friday!!!!! Crazy huh, he talked to the missionaries before but he turned it down, but now he knows for sure that it's true, I'm not exactly sure how he knows for sure but he does, and he's willing to change his life. Awesome! Everyone is willing to hear our message it's awesome.
 I don't know why but I feel very comfortable being in my area, I don't know why but... this may sound bad but... I love poor people, haha.
   I love being a missionary, I love my mission, my companion, Brazil, the people of Maceio. I love my family SO much and I think of each and every one of you every day.
 I really hope you all are doing well and are safe.
Your missionary, Elder Ralph

9/04/2012

9/4/2012 8th Week

I think this is the address for the mission home...

Missão Brasil Maceió Av. Dom Antônio Brandão, 333
Sala 402 - Farol
57021-190 - Maceió/AL
BRASIL

First off..... Happy birthday Jonathan! my big bro! Hope you had a great birthday and that it was one to remember. One of my earliest memories that I can remember with you, Jon is... we were riding on the 100 motorcycle, I was on the front you were driving and we built a jump in the garden that is on the north side of the house, we were jumping it together and then we jumped it so high one time that the bike almost tipped backwards, you fell off the back and ended up standing on your feet and I can remember holding onto the handle bars for dear life, scared to death haha and I'm pretty sure that was the last time I rode on the motorcycle with you haha good times.
Gosh I'm totally jealous that you guys are going riding without me! And you went together, taking Jersey with you and Michelle. But I've had my fill of riding for the next two years, just don't break 'um, haha.
Okay this week... starting at the beginning of last week I was sick, I had the same cough that I had when I first arrived here at the CTM, don't worry I'm all good now. But the annoying part was that I totally lost my voice! So the whole week my voice was cracking and squeaking during lessons and we also sang "Lead Kindly Light" on Sunday... that was interesting, haha, but no worries we're all good now.
Probably the most interesting thing that happened this week actually happened yesterday, yesterday we went proselyting. We had a total of 28 Book of Mormons for 10 missionaries. Elder A and I had 6. We ended up getting rid of all of them, rather quickly, we ran into a guy who spoke English and I was actually able to tell him everything that I wanted to. AND I made him cry. It was an awesome feeling to just talk and know what you're saying is correct. Like I was just talking, it wasn't rehearsed or practiced, it was seriously the spirit. I honestly never told that to anyone, explained the Book of Mormon, its importance or I can't even remember what I said but it made sense and it was awesome!!!
We also ended up talking to a lady outside her house, then her mother came out and talked to us too, in Portuguese, then once we started explaining who we were and why we were here the mother started crying, then she explained why and that's when we're not exactly sure what she said, something about her son, we think something happened to him or he died. We talked about the Plan of Salvation, and God's love for us and by the time we left both the mother and the daughter were in tears and both of them wanted a Book of Mormon. The spirit was so strong. I only wish that we could have understood everything they said cause we know that the church can comfort them and bring them peace in their life, ya know. But we did the best we could.
Our other Book of Mormons were given to a man outside a store, two catholic boys, and a man at a bus station. All of them took them gladly and were very kind in listening to our message, the two boys were actually very interested and asked a lot of questions. It was so hard to understand everything they were talking about, because we know religious talk... ya know, like once they started talking about anything else besides church, we can only catch a couple words and piece them together and hope we're saying the right things, and usually we don't, haha, but it's fun and it's a learning experience.
I've seriously have grown to believe that faith and fear cannot exist in the same being, you can't be afraid to go up and talk to someone, you can be afraid to start a sentence that you might not know how to say... at the beginning of last week I was asked to teach a lesson on the spot in front of the class and I destroyed it! I did so good!
random things.....
Mom you know that finger snappy thing you do, well all the Brazilians know how to do it and none of the Americans, except for this one, haha, or they aren't very good at it, thanks for teachin' me that, haha.
Elder Oaks grandson is here at the CTM.
I'm craving OREO's haha
Gotta run, might not be able to email next week cause were leaving !!!!!!!!!!!!!

8/28/2012

8/28/12 Week 7

Faaaamily!!!
How ya'lls doing?!

Its sounds like everything's going well!

First off Samuel! I miss you So much! And I want you to know how proud I am of you for being able to receive the priesthood and passing the sacrament for the first time!!!! And for giving your first talk, that's awesome. I sure do wish I could have been there to watch it and to make faces at you as you spoke! Hey that's kind of funny, I gave a talk this past Sunday too! I was probably equally as nervous as Samuel because I had/got to give it in Portuguese! That was an experience. We had 45 minutes in the morning to prepare our talks and they all had to be in portuguese and on lesson 4 of PMG, which is commandments. I chose prayer cause I like prayer and.... I don't know, it just felt right. I got up there and my mind kind of went blank and I started talking in English for like 5 seconds but then the wheels started turning and I started my talk. That's funny because that same thing happens to me when I teach lessons. The first few minutes Elder Anderson has to take the bull by the horns and talk cause my brain is like... not there haha BUT once the investigator asks a question or if something has to be explained, I go off and don't stop haha. I feel bad sometimes during our lessons.. cause I talk a lot haha so in my talk, usually people write down everything they want to say in Portuguese but that's not how I like to roll haha. I just write like bullet points in English of things I want to say and just see how long I can talk about them. I spoke for 6 minutes and afterward the branch president came up to me and said I did very well and corrected me on a couple pronunciation mistakes. It's funny, every time I sit down after a talk or bearing my testimony I always remember something I forgot or really wanted to say or I just want to get back up and start speaking again. The same thing happens in Portuguese ahahahaha.

Hey mom could you sent me a picture of me doing cabaret pleeeeze Elder Anderson wants to see.. he dont be believin me haha

The language is getting interesting. Honestly I feel like I hit a plateau of learning, like I'm not retaining as much, maybe because I switch so often from English to Portuguese that I haven't dropped the English yet, which is one reason why I'm super excited to get out to the field so I'll be totally surrounded with only Portuguese cause when I try and just open my mouth I can do it. Today outside the temple when we were loading up to leave, Elder Anderson and I talked to these two boys who were visiting the temple and were doing baptisms for the dead and were baptized members of the church only two years before. Their families were visiting the temple that week from a country far far away (which I forgot the name of) but they were there to be sealed together as a family. First off it was amazing to actually understand what they were telling us, and second it was amazing to see how excited they were to see and be at the temple. It will probably be their only time being at a temple!!! Ah that's like a story straight out of a magazine! All the stories of conversion and baptism are all amazing stories and I just feel so privileged to be a part of it! The people here are so humble and so friendly (except for when they drive) ha. A lot of the elders here have suits that are way too big for them or only two white shirts... it's crazy how much they had to give up to come on their missions.

One of our teachers is always dead tired when we teach her, we teach her at night after she goes to her other job, school and then to the CTM. Every day she is always super excited to be there but it only takes her about 5 minutes to fall asleep in our lessons, everyone's lessons. It's awesome and really funny. At first we thought it was the investigator that was falling asleep cause she was bored or that we were bad teachers ya know, but nope! It was her and she was falling sleep haha. So this is a tiny little black lady and our main goal in a day is to make her laugh, she's kind of like a sister to us, we always try and hook her up with irmos in the CTM right, like to take her on a date or something, and the other day she came into class and told us that she got a boyfriend!!!!!!!!!! haha our hard work paid off and we hooked her up with irmo ramalio!!! Who is one handsome chap if ya ask me haha it was great. Its interesting teaching our instructors cause they totally change character when we teach them. Our male instructor, who is pretty tough at times, talked for 15 minutes straight in one of our lessons, he was telling us a story and we just let him go at it, even though we only have 15 minutes to teach him haha so we decided to let him tell us his crazy night that he had. Turns out afterward he explained to us that when your investigator talks to you like that, that usually means he trusts you and is pretty good friends with you!!!! That's right! Elder Awesome and I are AWESOME!! Some elders do not take these practices seriously and it really irks me! BUT the instructors know that they aren't taking it seriously and they make it really hard on them, which is like sweet revenge.

Police officers just drive around with their AR15 just sticking out the windows, scared the bageezzes out of me last P day

Out of time, love you so so so so so much and I miss you even more! Gosh I love my family, You guys are awesome.

Hey Jess remember that one time you gave me a swirly yes I still remember that haha
I got a letter from Michael Jung this week!!!!

ELDER RALPH
 

8/21/2012

8/21/12 Week 6

Helllllo Family dearest!

Glad to hear that everything is going well and all had a good time and are now home safe and sound!
Uh.. Mom I forgot the name of the speaker from the 70...it was such a long time ago. This week was crazy long! But it was something like Dobby Dobly... I don't know :)

Funny YOU ask that mother darling because I'm reading the Book of Mormon again while I'm here in English and I finally found my favorite scripture! I never really had a favorite before now but this is for sure it! 2 Nephi 22:2 oh shoot it might be 2:22... but I'm pretty sure its 22:2 it talks about Christ being our Savior. LOVE YOU

Man I made a list of the things I was going to tell ya'll but they feel like they were so long ago and I can't remember. There was one day when we were teaching our female instructor who is totally awesome! We taught her second, we planned our lesson were all set and stuff and the elders who went before us came in and were super ecstatic and said they baptized her, that she was in a great mood, and that it would be totally easy, right. So this gave me and Elder A some hope right. We were excited to ask her to be baptized too. We got in there and she gave us back the BOM and said she didn't have time.... everything we said, every confirmation that she gave us in the past and at that time... didn't matter. She could only say I don't have time. We gave her back that Book of Mormon then our time was up and she told us to act as though it was super easy and to not tell the other elders. I was so ticked at her in a fun way. But I guess that's real and that's something we have to get used to.
I got my first hair cut since I've been here. The Brazilian that cut my hair was an older chap who sang church songs to us in Portuguese the whole time! It was awesome! I'M BALD, haha, but it's nice and breezy :) it's amazing to see how much perspectives change when you go on your mission, like before I could not have studied the Book of Mormon for half an hour. I would go crazy! Now an hour isn't nearly enough time to satisfy and I start going crazy when I don't have that precious time to study.
More and more elders keep showing up. I know four of them from Helaman Halls at BYU, and elders every week keep leaving, our roommates left this morning along with a bunch of American elders who took us under their wing and of course a bunch of Brazilians left this morning that Elder A and I have become really good friends with. It was super depressing to see their rooms empty this morning. They taught us so much. They sacrificed so much to go on their missions. It makes us Americans look spoiled. A number of them cried when they came to say good bye to us. But after we got home from the temple today I saw our first roommate again. His visa didn't come in on time so he served in Sao Paulo for 3 weeks and he came back here to go to Cape Verde, it was so great to see him again and he was very impressed on how much our Portuguese had improved :)

Man, I'm getting so excited to go out into the field. Every talk, every week elders leave, stories from our teachers, going to the temple ahhh all these things just get me super pumped to go out into the field! It's crazy :)

It's awesome to see how my teaching is improving! I feel bad for my companion, cause there have been times when I've talked for a majority of a lesson just because I was on a roll and I found a way to connect a person's problem to the gospel and how it can help them. So sometimes I feel bad. We were able to commit our second investigator to baptism the other day. It was such an awesome feeling AND haha when we left the little room we were in and went into the auditorium we did a little victory dance and were just celebrating quietly and we turned to the left and the president, his wife and the counselors were taking picture with a district that was leaving that week hahahaha embarrassing! But it was worth it!

It is SO hard to teach a lesson in 15 minutes. That's how much time they give us. Especially the plan of salvation! I don't even think I could do it in English for 15 minutes and I have to speak Portuguese! So it'll be nice to get into the field and have real time! And get robbed haha love you mom :)
I love you family so much, I'm so happy for all of your examples and the strength that you give me every day. I won't let you down.

My testimony and love for the gospel grows every day. I love this gospel :)
Elder Ralph :)
 

8/14/2012

8/14/2012 - Week 5

8/14/2012 WEEK 5

Hello familia!
Glad to hear that the trip went well! In a way I'm glad I didn't have to sit in the car for 1700 miles but I sure do wish I could have been there with ya'll and seen all the sites! This week was another week, just slowly but surely getting better at speaking Portuguese and teaching lessons. Me and my companion are still getting along dandy, he's still awesome.
So remember how I brought that peanut butter. Well the other day I sold it to a Brazilian for 40Rs which is like 20 bucks haha I'm making money haha, I didn't really want to sell it but apparently they love it here. The Sao Paulo temple is closed for the next two weeks so we have the opportunity to go to the Capeneze temple... I think that's how it's spelled. It's an hour away and a weee bit smaller. So me and a few other elders offered to go through a session in Portuguese! It was way cool and I was able to understand quite a bit of it! SUPER COOL. The view from the temple is way cool cause it's on the top of this hill that overlooks the city. On the way to the temple we kinda left the city and drove on a highway that kind of reminded me of highway 18 going to northbend, with trees on either side and kinda curvey. Then out of nowhere there was this entire hillside of like squater houses, huts, little shacks, it's crazy the difference in social rank here. There are super rich people who have private helicopters, which constantly fly overhead and then there are people that live on the streets.
My goal this week is to be more outgoing, like annoyingly outgoing haha something that I've noticed about myself is that I'm quiet at first but can easily become good friends with almost anyone. So this week I'm going to try and talk to as many people I can, in Portuguese, just ask them whatever question I can, cause that's what I want to be able to do out in the field. Talk to Everyone!
Our last two weeks we get to go out in the middle of Sao Paulo and proselyte, just see how many book of Mormons you can pass out. They literally drop us off at a town square throw a couple books at us and say don't come back unless you give them to someone ha-ha I'm super pumped for that and so is my companiaro.
We were able to baptize our first two investigators from our two instructors and we were able to start teaching another investigator and holy cow what an improvement! Like we started teaching the second day we were here in Portuguese and let's just say we did not cover all the bases haha BUT this time we are actually making sense and are actually teaching stuff... that isn't very descriptive but I'm out of time. It's just really nice to see the improvement in both our teaching and our Portuguese. And we're barely over halfway! (not that I'm counting down or anything), I just can't wait to go to my actual mission and be with the people.
Today our p day is being cut short because a member of the 70 is coming to speak to us, I forgot his name. I'll tell ya next week. Remind me haha.
The other day I took 40lbs and did two laps of lunges around the track.... I seriously don't know why because I'm on the 6th floor and my legs are DEAD.
Oh Sarah, got your letter! Thanks a bunch and yes I replied.
I'm singing this acapella song called "prayer to the children", you should listen to it and picture me singing bass cause we sound just as good as the people that recorded the song haha.
Hey! This Sunday was Father's Day here in Brazil! Happy Fathers Day dad from your son in Brazil! I love you so much, I am so thankful for everything you've taught me, all the patience that you've had with me and the support and love you have shown me, I want to be just like you. Every day I think of you and thank God that I was blessed to be your son. I miss you and Love you So much.
Love you all!
Elder Ralph
 

8/07/2012

8/7/2012 Week 4

8/7/2012 Week Four

Hello Everybody!
Wow what a week!
I don't really know where to start! The week has been full of good times and hard times, not going to lie I really wish I could be there to see the new baby and go to the family reunion, but I know I need to be here and I'm happy that I'm here. Elder Anderson and I were able to baptize one of our fake instructors! We were the first in our district to finally get Alyson to be baptized Woot woot. It's crazy how happy you get when you baptize someone... and this was fake haha I can't imagine what it would be like to when I finally get to do it to a real investigator! Crazy! At the same time you get super bummed out when they fall away or break a commandment, or don't get what you're trying to tell them.
We have a devotional every Tuesday and Sunday and they are all really good and really spiritual, its weird having a translator during a devotional but in a way it helps you learn Portuguese. Every devotional we learn a song an hour before the meeting and sing it for the president or whoever is speaking. Usually it's one verse in Spanish two in Portuguese and one in English. I really am starting to love singing even more. I wouldn't be surprised if Elder Anderson and I ended up singing a duet or something for the devotional. Speaking of songs, we sing the Brazilian national anthem every Sunday and it is awesome! No offense to our country, love it, but this song is legit. It's super upbeat and fast. The MTC president plays it for us, he's really good, and his first name is Ralph so that makes him even cooler!
Every P-day we are able to go to the temple, I love going to the temple. It's honestly a time when we can all just relax, unwind, and refill our spiritual tanks. The Sao Paulo temple is going to be closed these next two weeks so we get to go to another temple that is like an hour away! We're all super excited for that. Unfortunately there won't be a mission in my area at Maceio, but I heard that once a while we'll go to a temple in Recife or something like that.
Elder Anderson and I are still best of buds and we're still working hard. This week I kind of hit a pit with the language... I feel like I'm forgetting more than I'm retaining, but we had a chit chat and we both decided that we were going to work super hard this week and focus on the language and learning new words, only talking to each other in Portuguese as much as we can, and memorizing scriptures.
The Olympics are kind of big here but not as much as in America. It's weird to think that I'm on the other side of the planet! I saw a map the other day... weird.
All Brazil cares about is soccer and not losing to Argentina hahaha they really despise argentines. They always get teased from the Brazilians, but in a friendly manner of course.
I am so happy to be on my mission, I know this is where I'm supposed to be and that this is what the lord wants me to be doing. I know his hand is in my life, he has blessed me with an amazing family who raised me to be who I am. He gave me an amazing companion, and that's good cause I don't know if I could handle any different one haha jokes! He's great though. I'm growing spiritually with my testimony and knowledge of the gospel and why it is so important in our lives and the lives of the people that we teach. I know that what I'm doing is right, please continue to pray for me! I need it haha.
I'm really happy to hear that the Emeri is doing well and that everyone is safe and sound and having fun!!!! Don't have too much fun without me now hahaha
Love you all so much!
Did Samuel get my letter?


7/31/2012

7/31/12 Week 3

I'm an Uncle! I'M AN UNCLE!
Hey Momma!
   Yay! I'm glad to hear that everything turned out well for Liz! Sure do wish I could be there to see her first baby girl! Congratulations!
And tell Samuel that I said happy birthday and that I'm proud of him becoming a Deacon! Go Samuel! Have fun driving to Utah without me Dad, bahaha, don't die!
   This Week has been interesting.. its been full of ups and downs, there have been numerous times when I think.. dang I'm awesome at Portuguese or shoooot I'm a good teacher, but then there are even more times when I think, crap.. I have so much work to do. And in one week I'll be halfway done with my time here in the MTC or CTM, crazy. But every lesson we teach to our investigators I learn something new, what to do, what not to do, how to ask the right questions... HA just yesterday I accidently said.. thanks for letting us into your bed this afternoon. "Cama" instead of "Casa".... I had to leave for a second because I was laughing so hard.
   Going to the temple every week is such a great experience, it seriously restarts me spiritually...
I've started to become great friends with a bunch of the Brazilians... they bring out my crazy side and they love that.. the only problem with becoming such good friends with them is 1. its really hard when they leave.. Elder Santos, an elder in our room, left this morning to Cape Verde.. he was a super spiritual guy. He said our prayer this morning and was crying the whole time.. love that guy SO much. He sacrificed so much to be out here. 2. the stinking Brazilians teach you bad words or try and get you to say something mean to another elders when you become good friends with them, that's something that I've seriously tried to avoid learning unlike some guys in my district. idk. I don't find learning them necessary. The Brazilians are awesome and I love them.
   This past week we went to the Policia Federal and I am now a citizen of Brazil! woot woot that took a long time... and the place was packed with police officers that looked like civilians but carrying cowboy styled guns, haha. This week I've been seriously struggling to sleep because there's like ten dogs who like to have conversations in the middle of the night right outside my bedroom window...
   Our district played volleyball this morning and me and Elder AWESOME kicked trash! mostly him cause he's like... a tree. but I still love that guy and were working really hard and really well together. were stepping up our game for sure, our whole district is. We've set a lot of hard core goals and so far we've been able to reach a lot of them. Every day a companionship bears their testimonies in Portuguese, no complaining, only Portuguese all day, memorize first vision and D&C 4 in Portuguese, cool things like that....The room that we study in is getting smaller and smaller every day but we've managed to come up with a few games/ crazy things to do to keep us sane, haha. I've been kicking trash at the Movie guessing game thanks to my awesome family, haha. Miss you guys.
   Me and Elder Anderson sing a lot together, in the shower, going down the stairs. were hoping to sing, me and him, on our last Sunday here at the CTM for a fireside thingy! on our last fireside the AC broke and it was HOT! not comfy in a suit...
I feel like I'm growing, being a missionary your faith is seriously tested because you get asked the question "WHY" a lot, and before you answer you have to ask yourself "why"... "why do I believe that", you then find proof in the scriptures or in your own life, or you bear your testimony. Then you have to persuade yourself that what you know is convincing, if that makes sense. AND THEN YOU HAVE TO TRY AND SAY THAT IN PORTUGUESE! crazy.. but I've grown a lot in myself knowing that the gospel is true, that God lives and loves us, that we are his children. I've had the seminary/mission experience where my companion was dominating a lesson and he was asked a question that he couldn't answer.... it was actually a good question because in the Portuguese BIBLE it says that God rested on Saturday instead of Sunday.. weird huh? so I remembered a scripture that I learned in Seminary in Genesis and I totally killed that question! it was awesome.... I've learned a bunch about which scriptures are effective and which ones ain't, haha.
Love ya'll got to go! write me LOL
Elder Ralph
Hey mom can you correct my grammer haha

7/24/2012

7/24/12 Week 2

Hello Family that I Love So Much!
Wow it feels like I haven't written you guys in months! So much has happened!
I spend at least 6 hours a day studying the scriptures, the language, and with my companion. He's still totally awesome and we work hard and continue to progress in the gospel and with the language. We've both memorized the first vision and the purpose in Portuguese! Which is great!. We're always singing church hymns with each other. Today we're singing in a devotional. We're singing "Ye Elders of Israel" in a quartet, Acapella..... (however you spell that) . without the piano, haha. We're pumped. We sang "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" to our Brazilian friends the other day and they recorded it! They thought it was hilarious. I haven't gained any weight. Elder Anderson and I run a mile every gym day and play basketball. He can dunk,... jealous.
Last P-day it poured like Washington pours, and the drainage system here isn't the best so we were soaked from head to toe. Either way there was no way we weren't going to go out. Dogs run loose all over the place, motorcycles everywhere, and every car is a Fiat, or a hatch back with no truck. its weird.
Elder Awesome and I and a couple other Elders were in a convenient store and a homeless lady walked by the store and said "hi" to me. I ended up buying two mini packs of gum cause I had  change on me. We went outside the store and waited for one more Elder to buy his stuff and I felt super prompted to talk to this homeless lady who was sitting on the curb outside the store. I did, first I gave her one of my packs of gum, asked her where she was from, her name, as much as I could in Portuguese. And surprisingly I was able to understand a great deal of what she said! I honestly felt such a deep love for that lady, she was super nice, super funny and I didn't want to leave! Some of the other missionaries felt guilty and gave her some of their food too. Then she started chewing the gum I gave her and I couldn't understand squat! So we said "bye" and that was it. That got me super excited to get to know the people!
The other day we had a devotional where a bunch of the missionaries that were leaving bore their testimonies, and after they played "I Know that My Redeemer Lives" and "I Believe in Christ" and then "A Child's Prayer." The spirit was SO strong! I was sitting by a African Elder from Cape Verde.... I started tearing up on the first song cause that's just what I do, but then on "A Child's Prayer" he started to cry and I just lost it. The people give SO much to serve the lord, most have never seen a temple, are the only members of their family and hardly have anything. It strengthens my testimony to see how much faith they have, and how much they LOVE the gospel. It bugs the baggeezes out of me when American Elders act immature, disrespectful, irreverent , snotty or rude.. it seriously kills me, kills the spirit! AHHHH but I have been biting my tongue.
Elder A and I are doing really well, every lesson we get better and better, the language is coming along, our lessons consist of one English notes which we translate ourselves into English, but there are times that the way you say things is SO important and critical that I have to say it in English to makes sure I make sense. Because my grammar is still in the pits! haha.
uh... lets see what else, I'm glad ya'll got the red car back...
OH FREAK! HAS LIZ HAD HER BABY YET!!!!!! WHEN IS THAT GUNNA HAPPEN!@
I'm out of time!~ send me letters people! haha love you all so much!
I'm working really hard and my testimony is growing more and more every single day! I know I'm meant to be here.
I love you All!
Elder Ralph