Maceio Brazil Mission Assignment

Maceio Brazil Mission Assignment
Serving in God's Army


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


7/24/12 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...
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


7/17/12 Week 1

Hey Family!
Sounds like ya'll are havin fun!
I only have a half an hour to be on the computer so if my spelling and grammar is wrong... pishposh cause I speak Portuguese, haha.
Actually today was my first P-day and we were able to attend a session at the Sao Paulo Temple. It was awesome! The session was in English but they prayed in Portuguese. It was a great experience.. we were able to go right at a time when I was starting to feel homesick/down about myself. And now I feel fresh! which is good! I sent a letter home on Tuesday, hopefully you'll get that soon. My companion is Elder Anderson, he's totally awesome and I love him, he sings, runs track ( decathlon=he's a beast), he's a hair taller than me, is from oregon, has a great testimony and works hard. Out of all the boys in our district he is for sure my favorite. He's mature and is here to work while a lot of boys in our district talk a lot and don't stay focused, We're perfect for each other, haha! He's a really good guy and I'm so thankful I have him as my companiero!
The picture is of all the BLUEDOTS who showed up on the same day as me.
Portuguese is awesome! Thank you thank you thank you for letting me do rosetta stone! every ones jealous and it has totally helped...... but only for like the first two days haha everything goes so fast here. I've already taught three lessons only speaking portuguese, can pray, bear testimony.. the whole 9 yards. but... I also called our investigator's wife a whore, accidentally swore a couple times and called the investigator gay... OH and I got kicked out of an investigator's house because... never mind. the language is coming along slowly but surely, I want to learn it SO bad, and I wanna learn it now! Because Brazilians are so funny and I love talking to them. Once I'm done here Elder Anderson and I get to go outside the CTM and walk around Sao Paulo and try not to get lost, haha. I still have to buy a watch! I have been able to become friends with a number of Brazilians.. one of them actually left this morning to the field and came into our room to take a picture with us... its so much fun I love this place!
The Brazilians are So much fun! My companion and I sit by them at lunch and talk to them, they are really patient and funny and try to teach us portuguese while we try and make jokes to them. I can read portuguese well... but understanding them speak is still hard because they speak so fast and don't say the ending of their words.. idk its hard to explain.
There are four Americans and one Brazilian and one African in our room, The two non-Americans are really nice and have a lot of patience with us annoying Americans, haha. They teach us portuguese and we teach them english, It's fun. The one from Africa has never SEEN a temple before and is going through this Thursday for the first time! We're all super pumped for him and he is beyond excited.
The food here is... different but the same, haha. Rice and Beans that's what we get, haha, along with chicken.. a lot of sandwiches and weird juices... haha idk its different. Miss your cooking mom! but unlike everyone else in our district I've lost weight kinda haha even though they feed us four times a day! woot woot!
It's cold and raining here! WHAT THE HECK, if I wanted rain I would have stayed in Washington, haha. Anyway everyone says that Maceio is super hot and we're gunna die, haha. Ten of the elders in our district of about 20 are going to Maceio. Some of them are seriously bugging me and I have to bite my tongue so much, haha, but I pray for patience every night and that's a good thing because if I didn't I might be sent home early because I killed someone, haha. JOKES!
I have been able to focus and learn here and develop good study habits. We study like ten hours a day. Its nice to be here and not have to worry about anything else but the gospel and learning portuguese. My testimony has already grown so much. its crazy! And I'm so thankful that I am here.
I gotta run! I love you guys so much! I know you're praying for me.. keep them coming because I need the help, haha.
Elder Benjamin Ralph


11 July 2012 - Arrived in Sao Paulo Brazil MTC - Note from MTC President

Dear Parents,
We are happy to send the good news that your missionary has arrived safely at the Brazil MTC.  What a great joy and privilege it is to greet each missionary as they come through the front door of the MTC for the first time. We promise to take good care of your missionary.
They now have companions and are settled into their rooms.  They are assigned to a district with capable and caring instructors for language and lesson study.  The branch presidents and their wives, will soon give them a second greeting.  These couples are rewarded in their callings through the love they always develop as they embrace and watch over the missionaries.
The MTC has a full time live-in physician to care for their health needs.  He is assisted by his able wife. We are also happy to report that the Cafeteria food is abundant and very good.
Your missionary will be able to e-mail home on Preparation Day after a morning at the Temple.  This will be either Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on individual assignments.
Your very important young person is about to make an eternal difference in the lives of others.  We hope you will be encouraged and comforted by this quote by President Lorenzo Snow: “ There is no mortal man that is as interested in the success of an elder when he is preaching the Gospel as is the Lord who sent him to preach to the people who are the Lord's children".
Please accept our love,
President Ralph Degn and Sister Mary Ann Degn