Maceio Brazil Mission Assignment

Maceio Brazil Mission Assignment
Serving in God's Army



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.

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 :) 



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,


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 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


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.

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.