Maceio Brazil Mission Assignment

Maceio Brazil Mission Assignment
Serving in God's Army


23 December 2013 -- Merry Christmas


Hello Best Parents in the Whole World! I hope you are all doing well, staying out of trouble and are all good with health and spirit! Merry Christmas to each and every one of you! Here in Brazil I have been singing Christmas songs 24/7! I love the Christmas season its really one of a kind, a time to remember our savior Jesus Christ and everything that he has done for us. He was a king seated at the right hand of God and chose to come to earth and be born in a meek lonely stable, a son of a carpenter. What an amazing example of humility and character. I hope you all have an amazing Christmas and a happy new year!
   This week had its ups and downs. There were days that just didn't go well and there were days that we couldn't help but smile for the answers that God gave to our prayers in relation to finding and teaching people. There were many people that we met during this past week that were really receptive and accepted our invitation to be baptized. But by the end of the week these people lost all interest in learning more about the gospel, going to church, or even receive us in their homes, which can get really frustrating after a while. At times it seems like a group of Catholics, Adventists, Protestants and monks are followings us around and right when we leave a house after a spiritual lesson, they all come into the life of that one person and cause havoc - outside influences. But even with all the rejections, the hard work, and disappointments there is always a sliver of light or the diamond in the rough. That diamond is Maria.
   Maria has told us about times that she doesn't want to be baptized and will stay in her own religion, but at the end of a lesson she wants to be baptized in our religion, haha, it's kind of funny. She said ever since the first time we came that she felt the Holy Ghost and knew that what we were teaching was true. She even has a sister who is a member in São Paulo (far away) and has always heard good things about the church, she just needs to make the decision and be strong with it. We are really excited to see her progress and we pray every day that she is protected from the influences of the world. This week we also got kicked out of a house. It's been a long time since I've been kicked out of a house so it was pretty special to me. It always helps to have a companion with a positive attitude so that these things don't get ya down. :)
   One of the hardest challenges here in Brazil is helping everyone go to church because the church is rather far away from our area and people don't have cars, they have to walk in the hot sun!

   This past Tuesday was our Christmas conference which was super fun, all the missionaries made videos thanking President and Sister Gonzaga for the work they have done for us. This is/was their last Christmas.... I'm gunna miss them. But they will go home at the same time as me so it'll all be good. Speaking of going home! The mission secretary called me and asked to which airport I will fly into so he could buy my plane ticket... I didn't know what to say when he asked me that... I wanted to say...."I don't wanna go home." "I don't wanna think about that kind of stuff." Or that "my airport was bombed" so I have to stay here in Brazil, but I couldn't lie....weird to think about that. At the Christmas conference I sang in a quartet with three other American Elders, "Far Far away on Judaea's Plains" in A Capella. It was super good and we didn't even practice! I sang base!
   One thing that was kind of difficult for me this week was church. There was hardly any one there. And none of my recent converts came this Sunday. I felt so.... lame. I felt like I wasn't doing anything to help this little branch here in Lagarto and they really need all the help they can get. The sacrament really helped me that day, I really felt that I was becoming more and more like my Savior, feeling how He felt. I was able to understand just a hair more of how He felt. And I know that I have SO much more to improve till I can become like him. Later on Sunday I found out that a large part of our recent converts went to Aracaju, a nearby capital city where the church is really strong and there is a huge chapel there and they went to the sacrament meeting there! This relieved SO much stress. I am so thankful that I am on a mission, that God trusted me, and called me to represent his son Jesus Christ. I love this work and I don't want to be anywhere else. I know that this church is true, I don't have doubts of it. Thank you all for your love and support!


16 December 2013 - My Week

   My week was super full. Sunday Elder Gubler left to go pick up his mother at the airport and I stayed in a threesome with two other elders that I live with. Tuesday I went to Maceio to pick up my new companion,. I was almost 100% sure that my new companion would be a missionary that has been an ZL for about six months and has never passed through this Area. And I knew that I would be ZL-B because I've only been a ZL for two transfers. But when we got to the meeting I found out that I wasn't going to be with that one Elder. I would be with Elder Bispo (bishop) and I would be ZL-A. I can't describe to you the stress that fell on my shoulders when I realized the responsibility that I was given. I am in charge of about 20 missionaries and after the transfers I had to help them get to each of their areas...which is rather difficult because all the missionaries go to different areas and they take different buses. They don't have cell phones and don't have a clue where they are going. Yeah stressful, but everyone made it home safe and no one had to sleep on the street, haha.
   I started off this week being really, really stressed. I felt as if my eyes were closed for the two transfers that I was here in this area and I felt like I knew nothing. I needed new people to teach. I needed them really bad. There was a time that I was brought to my knees and pleaded for help from my Heavenly Father. I needed him so badly. I asked for new people to teach. And it wasn't within 10 minutes that he gave us someone to teach, someone who was prepared, willing, open, and excited. I know that God hears and answers prayers and my testimony was strengthen even more this week because of this experience.
   My companion is a great guy. He is from Brazil, up north. He teaches so well and is so willing to work hard. Love the guy. We work really well together.
   This past week we had a district conference, where three branches came to our chapel to hear talks about the salvation of souls. And when I got there the district president came up to me and said that I would be the first speaker and would talk for 15 minutes. I explained that I wasn't advised about it but I was still going to do it. He told me that my topic was on how to talk to people about the gospel or how to invite people to church, basically opening your mouth which was an easy topic for a missionary. It went really well and I involved the audience. I was super nervous but everything went well and the president said that it was excellent, exactly what he wanted.
   Elder Gubler and his mother passed by here to say goodbye to a few people and to show his mom all his areas, and she doesn't speak.
   I am so thankful to be on my mission. It's the best thing that's ever happened to me.

Elder Ralph


9 December 2013 - Tchâo Elder Gubler!

Elders ready to go
Well I'm comp-less.... My dearest companion Elder Gubler has left the building and is now a normal person. Yesterday I took him to the bus station to go to Maceio to be released as a missionary. He really taught me a great deal of stuff, which is what I wanted to share with ya´ll today.
   He taught me how to feel and follow the spirit. At the beginning of my mission I always wanted to feel that guiding feeling of the spirit. Like the spirit saying... go there, talk to her, say this, read this, DONT do this!... I always tried to feel that. And at the beginning of the mission I couldn't feel it. Probably the only thing I was feeling was the hot sun, and the tired feet. I began to be more sensitive to the spirit, trying harder to hear or feel it. But when I was put with Elder Gubler it seemed as if my spiritual earmuffs were taken off. It was amazing to see how the Lord was working through us, leading us to the people that needed our help or the people who were prepared to hear the gospel. Thinking back now maybe it wasn't that I wasn't hearing it or seeing it but I wasn't recognizing that the spirit was guiding me. I wasn't giving Him credit for the things that were happening on a daily basis.
   Elder Gubler helped me stay focused on my mission. Not that I was thinking about girls, family friends, home, things like that, but he helped me stay focused and always thinking about our investigators. At times when we walk in the street our minds go blank and we think about random things because the journey doesn't seem as long. But Elder Gubler he always had a thought, a question, an idea. And this also helped me with my Portuguese because we talked about topics rather deep at times. Probably never realized it but this helped me a lot, to just always be thinking about something good. :)
   He helped me realize even more the importance of Christ. This came from our studies together but also the way that he talked, the way he acted and how he treated people that were against us. He really was a great example to me. And don't worry I did teach him a few things too, haha. 

   Tomorrow we have a transfer meeting. I wasn't transferred but that means that I have to arrange for everyone in my zone that was transferred to arrive at the bus station on time and without leaving anyone behind, which can be a challenge at times. And I'm doing it by my lonesome and it's my first time.... But it's going well. A lot of people were transferred this time. And for some it's something kind of hard to accept or believe. But one thing I know is that my mission president is called of God and has the keys to receive revelation for us. It's kind of like a "mini-prophet" just for us! and its amazing to see how many people don't follow the revelations of the "mini-prophet". It's something that gets under my skin a bit... but what can I do. Just be a good example and keep working hard.
   I love my mission. I love the spirit that I feel here. I'm so thankful for my savior Jesus Christ and his Infinite mercy! He is my example, my all. I know that He lives and that He loves us. Thank you all for your love and support, I really do feel your prayers.
   Elder Ralph


2 December 2013

Dearest Loved Ones
  This week was full of travels. We started off going to the capital of the state. We went there to have a zone meeting with the Mission President and His wife and three other zones. It was really good and we all learned a lot. I don't have any doubt that my leaders here in the mission are inspired of God. It seems that everything they say and do is made for me, be it an example, or a lecture or something they tell me during an interview. It's something really special.
   Due to the conference and other travels that we had to take we didn't have very much time to work in our own area. It seemed like we were traveling more that actually teaching. We had to do interviews for the district leaders in our zone. Due to the short time that was passed in our actual area we weren't as successful with people coming to Sacrament meeting as we had hoped. A family that we are working with didn't come. We passed by their place yesterday afternoon and found out that they are all sick. SO we have high hopes that they will come this next week.
   The final of this week I have been feeling kind of down. I don't know what it was, discouraged, tired, frustrated, and confused. I really don't know what it was but I was just feeling down and I didn't know what to do. It even seemed like fasting wasn't helping me get more excited so I could act the way that I wanted to act. This morning I was finally able to pull myself together. I just sat on the floor reading my patriarchal blessing, praying for inspiration, help, comfort, or some sort of inspiration. And it really came. I read something in my blessing that really helped me. Showed me what I needed to change in myself to be a more effective missionary. It was something that I never noticed before. But it was meant for that moment, for that trial that I was facing. Ever since that morning I have been feeling SO much better, as if a big weight has been taken off my shoulders and my mind has been cleared. I am so thankful for this gospel and for the Priesthood power that guides this church. I know that it is true, I've felt it. It is real.
   I know that God loves us and guides us in our struggles and gives us comfort when we diligently seek it.


25 November 2013 - Semana Desafiadora‏

   Well, we started off this week with a service project. We cleaned up the back yard of one of our investigator's house. It was full of broken tiles, trash, and rocks, but I accepted the challenge. I took all of the big rocks that we scattered around the back yard and made a little wall with them. The yard had a huge slope at the back half and just looked normal, but now there is a little walkway with a rock wall... yeah I don't know if you can picture it but it turned out well and I was pretty proud of myself, haha. While we were working on the project I noticed that the shower water from the house was flooding the whole back yard and turned it into a mud pit. So I decided to make a French drain where the water left the house, which is basically a big hole filled with rocks that lets the water go down without clogging or putting in pipes. We dug a huge hole and filled it with the tiles and rocks that were scattered throughout the yard and it worked great! Thanks Dad for everything you taught me. :) The service project was a success to say the least, and that's not to mention the extreme sunburns, sore muscles, blisters and blessings that we received because of it. The woman and her two kids that live in the house of the service project were baptized this week! YES!
   This week I can tell you my patience was really tested, I don't know why but I felt like I was on a short fuse the whole week. Be it my companion, investigators, people on the street, members, everyone. It really felt like everyone was against me. But it was just my attitude and how I was reacting to life and what was happening. Sometimes things don't go how you plan or how you want them to be. I really need to work on my patience. I think that's one of the blessings of serving a mission, you realize your weaknesses and what you need to work on. I am so thankful for this wonderful opportunity to work on my weaknesses. I know that with humility and faith all my weaknesses will turn into strengths. And my dearest companion is really helping me with this. At times I say or do something small that isn't the best or isn't correct and he puts me in my place. When he does this I always have that first impression to explain myself, or make excuses for my behavior or something that I'm doing but a scripture always come to mind, the "wicked take the truth to be hard" because it strikes them to the very heart, something like that. Thinking of that scripture, the anger or frustration leaves and the desire to be better takes its place and I demand better of myself. I want to be better, I want to be a spiritual giant, I want to be..... And I feel like I'm getting there, slowly but surely.
   Two of our investigators fell through this week which was really sad and frustrating. They were progressing SO much! Stopped drinking coffee. It's sad when a person feels and knows that something is true but isn't willing to go after it or do what it takes to receive all of the blessings that the gospel has to offer. At times I just want to show people my life, my family, or other families that have been super blessed from the gospel or teach everything that the church has to offer but I can't...they have to use their faith. Just want to give them a secret code to get more faith but I can't. I can only bring the spirit to them and teach them how it works, but they have to get up on their own feet and use their faith. I love this gospel So much.
   This past week we taught a group of Catholic boys who just wanted to argue about religion. But we didn't argue we just taught. We didn't answer their questions that would lead to arguing, just taught about prophets and the Book of Mormon. It was really good, and strengthened my testimony.
   I am so happy to be on my mission, that I have this time to learn and grow.
I love you all so much and thank you so much for your love and support.



18 November 2013

Hello Dearest family and Friends!
   This week was a good one! We worked really well until my companion got food poisoning and could hardly even walk. But he's all good now and other than that the week went really well. We are working with this family that is friends of a family in our ward. The lady in this family asked why the member family seemed so happy and how they managed to be happy even while facing many difficulties. The lady of the member family responded... "We're members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints"... And from that day forward this family has been hooked. The only thing that is holding them back is that the parents are not married and the husband wants nothing to do with the church, marriage, doesn't want to stop drinking and just really doesn't want anything with his life. That's rather frustrating but what can we do. The woman on the other hand is extremely sure on being baptized and having all her kids be baptized as well, along with a couple neighbors, haha. She is so set that she is going to kick him out of the house for good so she can be baptized. Go woman! Woman Power. It's kind of a weird story because she really likes a cousin of the member family and he is crazy for her and no one in the family likes her current husband. It's a strange story but the beautiful part is that she is 100% set on being baptized. She has already stopped drinking coffee and has told her boss that she can't work on Sundays. She loves the teachings at the church especially the part about families being eternal. We're really excited for her! And this week we are planning a service project at her house, we're gunna clean up her back porch.
   We are teaching another young woman who is 19 and lives with her brother. She lives next to some recent converts who are fireballs and love to talk about the church about their baptism and just talk in general. They are bringing her to church and she too stopped drinking coffee. The only hard part about her is that she works all day and then studies at night. But she works right in the middle of the city so many times during the day we pass by her work and she greets us with a big smile and talks about more people that we can visit and teach a message to. This week we will teach her the law of chastity... so that will make or break her baptism. I love it when people are excited to learn more about the gospel, are willing to read and pray and visit the church. Basically I love it when people exercise faith, cause when they do miracles always happen, the seed starts to Grow!
   We had a baptism planned for this week but it fell through because the girl that could be baptized went out of town with her mother for the weekend. But when she told us that she couldn't be baptized this week she promised us that she will be baptized and that she really wants to. She is fourteen years old and has the maturity of a twenty year old. She has gone through so much in her life with her family, its rather sad. But she doesn't want any of it. She wants to move forward and start over and have the Holy Ghost as her guide. She's great.
   I love being here in Lagarto, Brasil. I'm learning so much and I'm feeling the spirit so strongly every day! I'm so happy that the spirit is with me because it makes all the difference! Thank you so much for you love and support. The church is SO TRUE! 


PS - Just finding people who are really, really special, that are progressing in the gospel and going to church and being baptized... so yeah we're having a bunch of miracles, haha.
Just hearing that Sarah is okay is a  miracle to me.. yeah I've been having a lot of spiritual experiences lately. It's been great! I just want more, haha.  Love you MOM!
Your son Elder Ralph


11 November 2013 Happy Birthday Elder Ralph (12 Nov)

This week was great. We started off going to Maceio to have a meeting with the president and the assistants to pass information to the rest of the Zone. I didn't get as car sick as I thought I would have. The Zone meeting that Elder Gubler and I gave to the zone was a success and at the end many people decided to bear their testimony and said that they need what was passed and they knew that their leaders are inspired by God, which is exactly how I have been feeling while talking with the president.
   Something that was really special for me this week was something that my mom sent to me. She explained about a difficult time in her life that she had passed through and how the gospel helped her get back on her feet and be happy. This week we met a woman who has been passing through the same type of experience. I bore my testimony of the gospel and how it had helped my mother, I knew that the gospel could help this woman as well. The lesson was very spiritual and the woman is excited to learn more.
   I am so thankful for my family and everything they have taught me, for the way that my parents raised me. This week we went to a few people's houses, members who are having difficulties. You can just feel that the Spirit isn't in their house, and we are trying to help them. I'm so thankful for the Spirit and the influence that it has in my life. I love my family so much and my companion knows it. :)
   Sunday we had a mini testimony meeting in the Principles of the Gospel class and a few new converts bore their testimony and how they were converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and how they are now part of the gathering of Israel. It was extremely touching to see how the gospel is changing the lives of so many people. I'm so thankful to be a part of this glorious work. I love my mission. I don't want to be anywhere else in the world right now than Brazil serving the lord. I know that this church is true. It is everything to me. Thank you so much for your love and support.

Elder Ralph


4 November 2013 - November!

 This week went by pretty fast. On the way home from the transfer meeting I started to get motion sickness, which is something I've never felt before, all the times that my family has gone to Utah and all the times I've taken a bus on my mission I am now starting to get car sick. That's perfect because today we are going back to Maceió for another meeting with the president, wowho! Let's see if I get sick or not.

   This week I really felt the spirit while doing the work. We were walking in the street an all of a sudden me and my companion felt the impression to talk to someone and the person was very open and wanted to learn more about our church. It happened several times this past week. Another time, that I felt the spirit extremely strong, was at church when a few recent converts went up to bear their testimonies. I love being around people that are new members. They're so open, so loving and so full of light. In my zone there is an area that was recently opened, and for now it's just a group but before we know it, it will be a branch, but the people there are so Christ-like. The church will grow so much there and I'm so happy to be a part of it.
   Here in Lagarto the work is coming along, a lady came to church this past week and brought the entire primary with her, haha, at least 7 kids. She's a Pro-Mom, haha. She loved it and this coming back. This week we are helping her put in her papers to get married. She said she wanted to be baptized and is doing everything possible so she can be baptized, which is something that I love! It's hard when people say they will do something and you feel and believe that they actually will but they don't.... It's hard and disappointing, but it's part of life, it's kind like how Peter told Christ that he wouldn't deny him but did. It's hard.

   This week I really, really felt like the Lord was speaking through me. That I was being used as an instrument to teach others and help other come unto Christ. There would be times that I would open my mouth without knowing what to say and the truth would just come out and the person would understand and feel the spirit too. But that's another thing, it's so hard when you talk to someone, they feel the spirit, you feel the spirit, they know what you're saying is true and they know that they need to follow and obey but don't want to because of pressures of the world, family or fear. It's so Hard. But I trust that God will prepare these types of people and they will come to realize the true importance of obedience and to feel the blessings that come with them.
   I know that what I'm doing here is the work of God and that he is with every one of his missionaries. He loves us and is watching over us. I'm so happy that I am here serving my Master Lord and King.
   Serving the Lord,
Elder Ralph

 PS. I might be bringing a little Brazilian girl home with me because SHES SO CUTE! haha
         (she's two)


28 October 2013 - Uman Semana Cheia‏

  This week we have been family hunting! Two families were given to us by members of the branch. These families are great; lots of kids, willing to go to church hear our lessons and the parents want to give a good example to their children. Golden families haha, There is only one problem, the parents aren't married legally, ahhhhh man! So this coming week we will be going to the courthouse to help these couples get married.
One of the things I love about being a missionary is when people pray for you, or when you're at someone's house and they thank our Heavenly Father for sending you to their house. They call you angels or servants of God. The feelings you get when you hear those words are so gratifying. You really feel like your fulfilling your purpose, helping other to come closer to Christ. And another indicator is when the investigators receive answers. We were talking to one of the fathers of a family and he bore his testimony to us that he had received the answer to his prayers and knew that the church was true. He felt it. Man I just wanted to give him a big hug but he would've been all weirded out because he's a man's man, hahaha.
   We found out last night that neither my companion nor I will be transferred this coming weekend so we will both be here for when the wedding papers finally come through. :) This whole week everyone was saying that my companion would be transferred and I would be left to fend for myself as a zone leader and I really started to believe all the talk. So now I'm back to normal and not worried so much. I will be the last companion to Elder Gubler who will finish his mission in December. To tell the truth it's really annoying watching people finish the mission because they always put it in your face or try to make everyone in the house trunky. This last transfer a missionary that was living with us finished his mission and tried to take us with him... figuritively. He didn't really affect me but he sure did affect his companion, And now the companion of the missionary that went home is trying to go home, not only because of his last companion but for other reasons as well. The real reason that he wants to go home is that on Monday he got a gun put to his head and now he thinks he's going to get killed if he stays in Brazil.

   By the way, mom, if anything extremely dangerous and life threatening happens to me, I'm probably not gunna tell you till I get home, just to let you know. :) So this past week has been nothing but trying to persuade him to stay on the mission and it hasn't been coming along very well. We hope that the transfer and his new companion can help him get focused on the mission again.
   I'm super excited to see what God has in store for this next transfer, I'm so excited to get to work and baptize EVERYONE! This past week I dreamed in Portuguese about baptism... it was great, haha.
   I know this church is true and I'm so thankful for it my life. The Holy Ghost is real and testifies of this work.
   I'm so happy I'm here on my mission, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.



21 October 2013

   Well life in Lagarto is coming along. Right now we are working with this couple who, at the start, were having a lot of couple troubles, arguing, lack of trust, their family was really being attacked. It seemed like Satan had control of everything that was going on in that house. And now it seems like a whole different family. They have been coming to church, have been reading the scriptures together, have been saying family prayers, and have decided to be legally and lawfully married! This week we will be going with the couple to the courthouse to make the civil marriage! Woot Woot! I love weddings drinks all around. This week will are going to take another step forward and teach and invite them to live the commandments, word of wisdom, Sabbath day. Both of these lessons will test their faith but I honestly believe that they will be able to keep them.
   During this past week we were walking down a street to an appointment and I heard someone call us from inside their house. We returned back and a young woman came out and asked us what religion we represent. After a brief explanation about our church she said that she has been looking for a religion and hasn’t found the one for her and that she wants to get to know our church...... Alright, haha. So we marked a visit with her for the next day and when we got there, her mother answered the door and said that she wasn’t home. Alright, so we went back that night and the same thing happened, her mother said she wasn’t home. And then NEXT day we saw that young girl on the street and she was thrilled to see us and invited us in to teach her. She said that when we had passed by to teach the other day and her mother said that she wasn’t home, she really was.... Her mother doesn’t like people like us, religious people. Despite that fact, we taught her that day when her mother wasn’t home AND she came to church and LOVED it. Right now we will be teaching her at a member’s house that lives nearby. I’m excited for her. It’s amazing to see how the devil works and the things he does to try and destroy the work, but we, all of us we’re so much stronger than him.
   One thing that I‘ve been struggling to decide is when is the time to say something to someone who is doing something wrong and knows that its wrong. Be it a member a missionary, anyone. Where is the balance between patience and standing for what’s right.
   One thing that I learned this week is the difference between testimony and conversion. Testimony comes from the spirit and our teaching or testifying moments that someone receives so that they know that something is true or not. And a conversion is where you live your testimony; you humble yourself and act or show that you really have a testimony. A testimony of the truth can only help a person till a certain point, until then they will need to be converted to what they believe, or converted to their testimony. They have to throw down their weapons of war and live the gospel of Christ.
      I’m learning so much here on my mission. I’m so thankful for this amazing opportunity that I have to serve.



14 October 2013

This week was a wet one! All my shoes are wet and almost every day we come home drenched from head to toe. But it’s all worth it in the end, haha. All these Brazilians are complaining about the rain and everyone is getting sick with cold and runny noses and IM Loving it! Being from the rainy state. :)
   This Sunday I spent the whole time in the sacrament meeting running after kids and trying to keep them quite so there parents who were visiting the church for the first time could pay attention to the testimonies. There was a space of about ten minute that I had five of the kid-sitting down “criss-cross applesauce” in the backside of the chapel as I passed out little stickers to them that were behind my name tag. And I asked them to touch and identify their nose, face, eyes, ears and other parts of their body to keep them occupied. Needless to say I didn’t hear a single testimony beside my own, when I finally decided to run up and bear my testimony on families. The branch president got a kick out of it as he watched me trying to quiet down the kids. :)
   Something really special happened this week. One of our recent converts has been planning on going to São Paulo to work for his brother where he would earn a lot more money and would be able to pay off some debts and would be able to move into his own house. BUT where he would move to doesn’t have the church AND he would have to leave his family here in Sergipe, FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR! I was shocked that he has been considering it. We have been really worried about him going to São Paulo because he is recently baptized and needs to learn a lot more before he is strong enough to be alone in the world, and he and his wife were married just a few weeks ago and it’s crucial that they learn and grow together, because they really do push one another. It’s kind of funny. So last night we passed by their house to go over a few matters and right when we came in they handed me an Ensign and asked me to read it out loud. I started off reading and came to a scripture that said something like this, Fear God more than man, and before ye seek riches, seek first the kingdom of God. Boooom and the man explained to us that that scripture and that Ensign was written for him and he has decided to not go to São Paulo and will stay and be with his wife and nurture his testimony of the church. He felt within him that God will prepare something better for him than what São Paulo has to offer! YES! That was an answer to many prayers, including my own.
   I am enjoying reading Jesus the Christ during our trips to other areas in our zone. I’m learning a great deal about the life of our Savior Jesus Christ and his magnificent teachings. They really are amazing and have helped me to understand more fully my purpose as a missionary, specifically about planting a seed of testimony in the hearts of those that I am teaching. But the seed is the same but it really depends on the soil. Many times I’ve asked myself why people don’t accept our message. It’s because they are not prepared for it yet, and it’s my job to offer that seed to them and testify about how that seed can grow to be an enormous tree and give fruit. LOVED IT :)
   I’m so happy that I’m on my mission, serving and learning more of my Savior :)

Dad, it's a REAL truck....

Every Sunday we have to kill all the crickets and sweep them up prior to the meetings.


7 October 2013 -- YES!

Got the shirt from the Family Reunion 2013 - Thanks!!!
   This week went by extremely fast. First I, my companion and the other zone leaders in Sergipe traveled to Maceió to have a council meeting with the president, his wife, the assistants and the secretaries.
My companion, Elder Gubler and me
   They passed a lot of information to us on how we can help our zone improve. The material that they passed was very helpful and I believe that it will help our zone. The president talked about changes, and real repentance and when he talks he lets any one make a question to him and the other missionaries, and I was able to ask a few questions and make a couple comments and I felt really uplifted after the meeting. After the meeting we headed back to Sergipe.
Elder Ralph & Elder Novaes
      In total I spent about 20 hours on a bus this weekend and I feel like sitting on a bus is more tiring than working from 10:30 to 9 in the sun. When we got back, my companion and I had to get straight to work on our zone meeting that we would have on the following Thursday. We had to pass the material that we learned at the council in a reduced specific manner to our zone. And guess who decided to come and watch our zone meeting, my first zone meeting, the mission president and his wife. Man, he won't leave me alone, haha. Talk about great pressure, haha, he came to see if we were paying attention during the meeting or not, haha, and how well we help our zone.
Zone Meeting

   But even with the pressure the meeting went well and we were able to pass everything right on the money. The president in the council talked about statues and how they are made from big blocks of marble that has nothing special nothing significant and the artists turns it into a beautiful masterpiece. And he related it to us and how we need to take out or break off all the parts of us that are bad or not like Jesus Christ. So to simulate this I put a big tub of water in the freezer to make an ice block and at the meeting I had one of the elders try and carve something out of it. It was fun!
    Before we knew it Saturday and Sunday came along and we spent a great deal of our time running around inviting our investigators to the conference. We were able to get a couple people to come but not as many as we wanted. I LOVE the conference. My favorite talk was Elder Uchtdorf during the Saturday morning session because he talks about a number of things that missionaries hear on a daily basis. LOVED IT. Conference sure did give me a fire, and energy, I don't know why I was just hyper and excited all day! I couldn't stop smiling or talking!
Happy 50th Birthday President!
   Love it! I'm super happy for everything that is happening to me, all the things that I'm learning. I'm so happy to be a missionary and to be serving the Lord here in Brazil! I couldn't have anything better. Of course I miss my family like crazy and I can't wait to see them again, but I know that the Lord will bless all of them for the service that I am rendering for these two years, thank you all for your support! You guys are the best! :)



30 September 2013 - YO

This week went by way fast. What happened? Where do i start?
   Well this week we ran around a bunch trying to help a couple get married so they could be baptized and helping a girl defeat all the doubts and challenges that satan was throwing at her in relation to her baptism, and WE DID IT! The lady that was baptized is super, super afraid of water and literally ran out of the font once she was baptized and the other girl literally danced her way out of the font, haha, I thought she would slip and fall cause she was dancing and jumping on the tiled floor. But everything ended well and it was a great service.

   Once day we contacted a reference a wonderful family. In the family there is a young girl who has the same problem that Samuel my little brother has but her situation is a little worse. I felt so much love for that girl and her family. It's hard to describe! At the end of the first lesson I went to shake the girl's hand and she held it without letting go for about two minutes. Usually when this happens its kind of weird, and usually happens when the person is drunk, but for her it was totally different. I didn't want her to let go! Visiting that family reminded me of my little brother and how much I love him and how blessed I am to have such a wonderful family, and I pray so hard that this family will accept the gospel because I know that it will help them more than anything!

   I will say one thing about this week that really helped me to be more humble, patient and loving. The president showed us a video a while back of Elder Bednar talking about an experience that he had with Elder Eyring. Elder Eyring told him that if he hadn't been rebuked by the spirit recently he needs to improve his prayers. I would say that I was rebuked by the spirit this week. I've been studying a lot about charity and trying to apply it to myself. During a lesson we were being attacked by someone against what we were teaching and the situation was really bad. I said something that I shouldn't have. It wasn't anything bad or disrespectful, what I said was true it just didn't need to be said at the time. I can say without a doubt that the spirit left me at that moment. Everything that I had been studying during the week about charity came to my mind. The feeling of the spirit leaving you even for a second or feeling the spirit tell you that you did something wrong is a horrible feeling. What I said was corrected and apologies were made on both sides and everything returned to normal, except for me. I couldn't get rid of that feeling, that sadness, it seemed like a light left me for a while. What I said wasn't that bad and it was right but it wasn't necessary. I learned a lot from that experience, I learned that I have a lot more to learn, and I felt the need of the Holy Ghost constantly in our lives.

   Sunday during the second hour the president of the branch asked me if I could talk in place of someone who didn't show up. And I accepted the challenge, wahaha! I came up with a story about a seed that grew or sprouted in the middle of the road and grew in difficult conditions and what we can to do to grow and stay strong in the gospel even with our challenges of these days. It was pretty good for five minutes of preparation. I don't know. I feel like I'm starting to be more calm with the language and with talking in front of big groups, haha, it's a good feeling. Later on Sunday we had a workshop with the leadership of the ward and I talked about how we need to be shepherds and not fisherman. And I related it to how we treat people who come to church. I taught them how they can be missionaries at church and help our investigators have a better visit at church. It was good and I feel like they really learned something. And this Thursday me and my companion will be having our first zone meeting and most likely the president and his wife will attend! Ah I'm nervous! :) Pray for me, haha.
   I'm so happy to be on a mission, I love it! It rocks!
Elder Ralph


23 September 2013 - Tranfers

   Well like I said I have been transferred! After cleaning up the house to a T my companion and I arrived at the stake center for the transfer meeting. The bus that brings all the missionaries from Sergipe to Maceío was running late So the president started the meeting and asked a few people to come up and bear their testimony! And guess who was the first missionary that he called... ELDER RALPH. I looked at my name tag in disbelief, haha. Man I went up there and I was SO nervous I was shaking but after a few deep breaths and a couple humorous comments I got composed and bore my testimony about something that happened with me and my companion last week. I talked about serving a mission because I love my Savior! When I sat down I felt so good that I wanted to get back up there and say more, haha.
    So the bus finally showed up and the meeting started. I don't know why but I was super excited! Then the time came and the assistant called out the transfers. I have been transferred to Sergipe and was put with Elder Gubler, an American from Louisiana. I was also called to be an Zone leader... Yeah crazy, A ZONE LEADER! So Elder Gubler and I are in charge of an area that is really cool. It's interstate, or all farms, suburbs, away from all the cities beaches and people. Our Area is called Lagarto (lizard) and we are a branch. And around Lagarto there are a bunch of groups, groups of member that are not big enough to be branches. It's really cool because we get to travel a lot to see other towns and country sides, mainly because everything is separated! Wide open spaces! I like it. For example this past Friday I went to an area that the president recently opened and did six baptism interviews! Six! That's the most I've ever done in one day. I'm with Elder Gubler, who is an awesome chap, way smart, way funny and is finishing his mission. He only has three months left! He's helping me a bunch with my Portuguese and is super spiritual, which is something that I've really been wanting! We live with two other elders. Elder Harris and Elder Novaes who are obedient and hard working! Life is good!
   We are working with some great people, people that have really been prepared by the Lord, people that are basically already members, haha. And it seems as though God is leading these people into our path. At times it feels like we don't even have to work to find new people, haha, we just have to be worthy and do what's right and God puts those people in our path. I love being a missionary.
   As a ZL I get to go every month and have counsel with the mission president to see how we can improve our zones which will be awesome. I'm pretty excited for that.
   Man this week has been so full, so full of spiritual experiences and hard work that I haven't even thought once about home, family, friends, work, school, anything! I love it (no offense) :) I've just been buried in work and more work! It's great!
   I am way excited as you can probably tell. I'm excited for higher expectations, more responsibility, more spirituality and just more! I LOVE IT!

Elder Ralph in Lagarto!


16 September 2013 -- Elder Ralph

   This week started off strong with an amazing district meeting if I can say so myself, haha. I set up a big tent in one of the rooms in the church and made everyone sit inside it while KING BENJAMIN gave his sermon. Haha, everyone seemed to enjoy it. And after the lecture we did practices. I set up situations in three other rooms that missionaries face on a daily basis. I set up TV's, music, a crazy huge family, and a crazy, messy house and put my missionaries to the test. They did quite well, haha.

   The rest of the week was kind of hard. A lot of our investigators became X-investigators. They just don't want any responsibility or don't want to go to a church or just don't want to change their way of life. That's one thing I wish I could do. Just literally SHOW people the blessings that this gospel has in store for God's children. It's so perfect. So the whole week we felt like nobody wanted to talk to us, which in reality they didn't, ha.
   Then finally at the end of the week things started to turn around. We were able to find a few new people to teach that appear very interested and they want to learn more about the church. That always gives a missionary so much energy.
   I did learn one very important lesson this week from my companion. We got done teaching a lesson that didn't go to well and we decided to talk about it and see what we can do to be better. My companion asked me a question that I have been asked SO many times on my mission and I haven't really been able to respond. Why did you come on your mission? That question has been thrown at me so much. And I've given a lot of answers, good answers. But he told me that many missionaries go on their missions for the wrong reasons, not a Bad reason just the wrong reason. He told me that every missionary should want to go on a mission because they LOVE their Savior..... You work because you love your Savior; everything you do is because you love your Savior. Some missionaries go on their missions because they want to teach the gospel.... But when no one accepts them and they aren't "teaching" what will they do? They feel down, they feel like they aren't completing their purpose. So now I'm starting to think more about that, that I am here because I love my Savior. To help me do that I have been studying specifically about Jesus Christ this week and its really been helping. I've been feeling more at peace with the work that I'm doing, that I'm here on my mission and... it's just so much better now, it's hard to explain.
   Then before I knew it Sunday came along and while I was getting ready the bishop called me.... Uh oh. And he asked me if I could give a talk at church, that day, on the miracles of Jesus Christ. Sweet. I accepted. Then I looked at the clock and it was already 8 o´clock and church was at 9. I went to work! Saying a lot of prayers I finally got something pulled together and arrived at church on time. And to top it all off! Guess who came to church that Sunday who usually visits other wards. THE MISSION PRESIDENT.... WHY ME!? But I did it, I was calm and I think it went pretty well. I just stared at the president whenever I looked up to talk, haha. Many people complimented me afterwards. It was a good feeling.
   It was funny that I got to give a talk on Sunday because it was kind of a farewell talk. I have been transferred. Me and my companion. We're outta here.... I'm excited to see what God has in store for me next and I hope that I can keep growing and become more and more like my Savior that I love SO much. I'll find out tomorrow where I go and with who. I let you know next week. Today I gotta go get packed and say goodbye to a few special people :)
   I love being a missionary!


9 September 2013 -- BAPTISM!!!

This week was a full one.
   We have been working with an investigator who has been trying to stop drinking coffee! We have been passing by their home everyday to see how his day was and if he was able to aguent (withstand) the headaches that the lack of coffee has been giving him. He came to church again with his family this week, his wife and his two sons, one that has already been baptized. That Sunday was fast and testimony meeting and many people talked about the baptism that we had last week. We passed by his house and talked to him about his responsibility as a father, what is a happy family and a couple of other things that revolve around the family. He was really touched and said that he wants to raise his sons in a church, raise his family in a church and he said that our church is by far the best! YES! He firmly agreed that he would stop drinking coffee and we made him a two liter bottle of chocolate milk to drink instead of the coffee. We passed by there every day this week and normally I would ask, "Hey how are you doing with Coffee", and he would correct me and say, "you mean how am I doing WITHOUT coffee!" YES!
   It was funny one day we showed up at his house and his wife showed us his coffee thermos and said, look... Coffee! and we went silent.... And this man piped up and said, I can't do it, I need my coffee, I'm sorry, I'm going to drink it. I was tempted to grab the thermos and run out of there, but something didn't seem right, something seemed fishy! They both started laughing and explained that the thermos was full of hot water to make tea and take to work instead of coffee! YES, man I was so emotionally tormented during those two minutes I almost strangled him, hahaha. But he did it. He stopped drinking coffee! He and his wife were baptized this Saturday! One family completed. :) The ward is getting really excited about the missionary work because we are bringing "Men and families" to be baptized and they are helping us a great deal.

   At Church this past Sunday when the man was confirmed he gave everyone in the group that confirmed him a hug and afterwards at the end of the meeting he sang out loud, "I am a child of God." At that moment I really felt like I was completing my purpose as a missionary, helping people come unto Christ.
   This past week I was able to use some of my fixing skills on one of the member's cars that was pronounced as an "unfixable car" that had been passed from mechanic to mechanic and couldn't be saved. I couldn't help it and asked if I could take a look at it. It wasn't half an hour that I got the thing running and found out what the problem was. The bishop passed by and saw us working on it and offered to take us to a "parts store" to buy what the car needed. It was cool! I felt pretty good about myself and the members were impressed. haha Thanks dad:)
Swinging next to a ravine close to where one of our investigators lives. AKA - death!

   Unfortunately this week wasn't as good as we hoped to be. We weren't able to get a hold of our other investigators. They were either not home, sick, traveling or just didn't have time to listen to us. It's hard at times... Sometimes you can feel so obviously that there is an enemy. Someone who works against us, tempts people, makes it so we can't get to them. And sometimes we have to be extremely annoying to get what we want or to complete our purpose. But I love it. It's great! :)
I'm so glad that I'm a missionary and that I have this opportunity to serve a mission. :)


Wall Dancing

Rooftops in our area.


2 September 2013 -- Uma Semana Maravilhosa‏

Wow where do I start...
   This week was amazing! So let's get started. This Saturday that passed we had planned a baptism of Elmano, a golden investigator that we found last week. But the baptism didn't happen as we has planned..... We baptized him AND his wife. His wife Lidia came to church with him and she really felt something, felt peace there at the church among the members and decided to be baptized with him. YES! Before she didn't want to but after going to church and receiving her personal testimony she really wanted to.
   Wednesday we had a zone conference meeting with the president and his wife and one thing they mentioned was making the baptismal meetings more spiritual and memorable. So that gave us a little bit of pressure because we knew that they would come to the baptism, because they are in our ward. So we decided to get really organized. We called the leaders and made a program, got videos to show, a musical number the whole shebang! It was pretty awesome.
   I was asked to baptize Elmano and Lidia´s nephew baptized her. Unfortunately I had to do the ordinance twice cause he stuck his foot out of the water.... But jokingly afterwards he said the he had so many sins that he had to be dipped twice, haha, it was Great.
   After the ordinance we gave an opportunity to Elmano and Lidia to bear their testimony.... It was so spiritual their testimonies. I haven't felt the spirit that strong in quite a long time.

   Many of the members commented to us afterwards that it was the most spiritual baptism they have ever been too. And Sunday during testimony meeting many of the members bore testimony of what they felt. I too felt impressed to go up and bear my testimony but before I got to the front bench where Lidia and Elmano were sitting Lidia got up to bear her testimony. I gladly let her go first. She bore an amazing testimony. She testified about the church, and how we believe in a living Christ, she said that she felt the presence of a living Christ among us, in the church, in the classes. It was so strong her testimony that I didn't want to follow it.... haha, I was thinking, alright bishop we can end the meeting now, haha, but I went, and talked about the Holy Ghost and how it really can touch us. I talked about a few instances in my youth that I remember when the spirit touched me, and how clear I remember it. I talked about how I felt at the baptism and how I will never forget how I felt. They really touched me. The spirit is real and it testifies to us when we are worthy and listening. I'm so thankful for the Holy Ghost and how it has blessed my life and the lives of so many others.
   I love being a missionary. I love this gospel. I love my Savior.


26 August 2013 - Semana de Milagres‏

   This week we were able to see miracles in the missionary work.
   Tuesday we received a call from the Mission President explaining that sister missionaries received a reference for a man who lived in our area. The sisters taught the man and he had a strong desire to be baptized. Turns out this man went to his friend's wedding and baptism at the church and really loved the church, the structure and the baptism. He talked to his friends who said he would send the missionaries to talk to him. But the man who was baptized put it off. So this man went online and searched about the church. He ended up on the church website and started reading about the church. And he ended up reading the Book of Mormon, in English, online..... WoW. So he called up his friend that was baptized and said that if the missionaries don't show up before Friday he would go to the church grab the bishop by the tie and say. I wanna know more about your church... Hahaha. So the friend finally contacted the mission and we received the reference. This man and his wife are both biologists so we went to his work with the sisters and started teaching him. He agrees with and believes everything that we teach him. He said he felt inside of him that our church is true. And he didn't have a single problem with the commandments. When he went to the baptism, his friend explained about coffee, that it's bad for our bodies so he stopped drinking it. He had a lot of headaches the week that he stopped, which showed to him that the Word of Wisdom was really inspired of God to the prophet Joseph Smith. We taught him with the sisters at his work then two days after we went to his house and we brought the big guns with us.... We called up the Mission President and asked if he could teach with us haha.
   That was the most nerve racking lesson that I've ever taught on my mission. But he helped So much. This man and his wife came to church this past Sunday, and I have never see investigators be so integrated by members in my whole mission. He will be baptized this Saturday. It's funny we were planning on baptizing him at the stake center because the baptismal font has stairs that go down into the font, and the font at our chapel, which is a house reformed into a church, has stairs and then a ladder that go to the font. So we thought it would be hard for him to get into the water. (he's 67). But when he came to church he saw the font and wanted to be baptized there at our actual church! We explained our concern about the ladder and he said jokingly. "Well if I fall, I fall into the water right?! Haha he's a great guy! Right now we're working on his wife. His wife is a little more resistant than him and hasn't received her answer yet. But we´ll help her get it:)
   The work is going great. I'm loving teaching these people. I love my mission.
   This church is true and God really is preparing people to hear His gospel.
Miracles happen!



19 August 2013 - Semana de Amor‏

   Well one thing's for sure this Week went by super fast. It's almost hard to believe. This past Tuesday we had a Zone meeting and me and my comp decided to flip it into high gear and destroy this week. We decided to work more with a list of less actives that we have at home and went street by street talking to them and trying to help them come back to church, while at the same time trying to find new people to teach. There were a number of people that we got to know that live where a member used to live. And we were able to teach them! It's like their house has a spiritual bug, haha One less active that we visited was really special. They were a couple that was trying to return to church and for this visit we brought along the Stake President, haha. We brought the big guns, haha. So we got together and planned a great lesson. And at this couples house was a friend of theirs who wasn't a member and she stayed for the visit. After the message she said that she needed to hear what we said and that she was feeling something really powerful inside her. HOLY GHOST! So the less active member invited her to church and this Sunday she came and really liked it and the less active couple came. Now we arranged another visit with her and this couple together to hit two birds with one stone. It'll be great!
   So one of our biggest excitements is working with a couple that recently were married and are working together to be baptized on the 31st of August. I don't think I've ever been so excited for someone to be baptized. Last night when we were teaching them they asked if we were going to be here in November for the BAPTISM of their baby boy..... Uhhh instead of answering we took the opportunity to teach about baptizing children and read a little bit of Moroni 8 with them. While we were teaching they both felt the spirit and understood the principle and now... I don't think there with be a baptism in November, hehe. :-)
   Little things are changing in the mission. No, we don't have ipads or iphones, unfortunately but our president is changing things so that we can have more time to work and so that things run smoother. And this week was proof to me that it was really inspired from our Heavenly Father. We had so much more time. I'm so thankful that I'm a missionary working in God's kingdom. It is such a great opportunity. I'm so thankful for my family, especially my parents and all that they have done for me and taught me.



12 August 2013 - Semana de Loucuro‏ (Crazy Week)

   This week was insane! I've never been so tired on my mission. Last night I said a 45 minute prayer because I fell asleep! Let's get started here. Monday the secretaries called us and told us that the President wanted us to go to the Stake Center on Tuesday to help with a Humanitarian Aid project that they were just putting on for doctors and nurses. Thought of you, mom.
   So we had to get up at 5:30 AM to go to the Stake Center by 6;30 AM. We got there and went straight to work. They asked my companion and me to go there because we were American and they had some American missionaries that didn't speak Portuguese who needed our help. Basically what we did was, guide all the nurses to where they needed to go, hand out tests, collect tests, grade tests, hand out more tests, correct more tests, answer questions, and a bunch of little stuff. And it was super tiring. We destroyed the work. Everyone was calling us "machines"! We did such a good job that the humanitarian workers called the secretaries and asked for us to come back and help them the next day.
   And sure enough when we called the secretaries they asked us to come back. Wednesday was a crazy day. We had over 135 nurses and doctors at the church AND the bummer of it all was that we were not allowed to proselyte unless someone asked us. And boy did they ask. We brought a whole box of Books of Mormon and they ate them up SO fast. We saw ladies taking three copies home. It was great. One cool part about working there is that we go to work with a man who is the translator for the prophets and apostles! He just casually said! oh I was talking to Henry B. Eyring the other day and he said this"....", it was great. He liked us so much that he took us out to dinner Wednesday night. It was an awesome two days.
   Thursday was our only normal day for work. We then come to Friday and my companion had to go to the mission office to renew his visa. So I stayed in the mission office all day putting in baptismal forms into the church system. Super Fun. I hope I messed up or did something wrong so I won't be called as a secretary, haha.
    Friday night we were able to get a little work done in our actual area. Then came Saturday. Saturday we got up at 4:30 AM to marry a couple that we have been teaching. We got up and a member took us to a college where they were doing marriages for free. It was weird but super cool. It was the first time I've married someone on my mission. Basically my companion's job was photographer and my job was babysitter. The couple had an 8 month old baby that loves me haha, so I played with him. The process took forever but the marriage ceremony finally arrived. The judge called out to the whole group. "Men will you take these women to be your lawfully wedded wife" and they all yelled "YES" and he did the same thing for the women. And then everyone started going at it, kissing like they've never kissed before. Yeah, talk about trunkyness, haha. I just looked at my companion and he looked back and we just started laughing. And to top all the hard work off with a cherry, the couple came to church yesterday. :-) All that hard work paid off, all those lots hours of lack of sleep paid off. :-)
   And while we were at the humanitarian aid project we were on TV. :-)


5 August 2013 - Somos juntos ainda! We're still together!

   Alrighty. This week was good. We were able to find a lot of new people this week. It almost seems like luck how we were guided to knock on certain doors or talk to certain people on the street but we know for certain that it was our heavenly father guiding us with little promptings from the Holy Ghost, pushing us here and there. Unfortunately one person who was an elect that was super interested in our message lives in a different area but we were still able to help find her. The hardest part about this week was finding all the people that we had already found for the second time. It was way frustrating. One day we counted 11 fallen appointments. That was a challenging day.. But were still kicking and we will keep trying to find these people. 

     This coming Saturday the state of Alagoas will have a free marriage day where anyone can go and get married for free and they will even help to do some of the identification for people who don't have it. So we have two couples that are lined up to be married. Everything was dandy and they were for sure going to get married but then the devil came along and messed everything up!. The couple got in an argument and the man left the house and came back that afternoon completely drunk. For those of you who have been reading all my emails I have a talent for handling "drunk" men, haha. But this situation was way calmer than the other. They were just having difficulties and needed to talk to each other in a calm relaxing controlled environment. They needed to listen more to each other, a lot of little things that make a big difference. But everything cooled back down and they love each other again. Awww, keep your fingers crossed for this coming Saturday and pray that nothing else happens.
   My companion and I are trying to step up our teaching especially with the investigators that we already have. Making more physical examples, situations, videos or games we are trying to help our investigators understand more fully the principles of the gospel, and so far it seems to be working. Instead of us asking if we can come back, people are starting to ask us to come back and marking the day in the near future rather than the next week, haha. But we're slowly running out of ideas. If you guys have any tips send them my way!
   The mission president came to our ward for the first time on Sunday and he, his wife, his son and me and my companion bore testimony. It was great! I love testimony meetings especially when they don't have pauses, haha.
   I'm so happy to be serving a mission and I wouldn't trade it for anything!
Thank you all for your love and support. :-)
Oh we passed transfer day and my companion and I are staying together! Woot Woot! 
Temptation?  -  NOT, it was a mess.



29 July 2013 -Semana Muita Cheia (A Very Full Week)

   This week was filled with running around trying to get everything done. This week our ward had not one but two activities. One was a member integration activity or Mutual for all ages, where everyone goes to just have fun. We planned everything out with our Ward Mission Leader invited all our investigators and everything was jolly. But as the day came around our investigators started pulling the plug on us and NONE of them came to the activity. It was a "Major Bummer" because activities are the best way for the investigators to meet the members out of the normal church environment. Halfway through the activity the Young Women's president asked us if our game was ready.... What Game?! Yeah the person who was assigned to do an activity didn't show up so they gave us the job. So I started looking in all the closets in the church and I found two tents! So we made a little game passing the tent under your legs and over your head! It was good and the people liked it. What my companion and I were actually assigned to was a musical number... WHAT!? Yeah that's right a musical number! So we decided to sing "I Need Thee Every Hour" in Portuguese. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, at least it brought the spirit at the end of the activity. The other activity was really a festival with a live band and dancing! IT was So hard not to dance, so what I did was go around trying to get the young men to dance with the young women or at least with their mothers! Man I felt like I was back at a church youth dance, haha. But even after all our running around inviting people to come to the activity, nobody came... So frustrating
   Sunday we had ward conference and again we ran around trying to invite everyone to the conference, less actives, investigators everyone! And no one came.... WHY! Other than the fact that no one came I absolutely LOVED the conference. The Bishop and the Stake President talked and they were so great!
   At the beginning of this week we had two people that were ready to be baptized but with complications of the world and the influence of others they fell through. I've never had so much hope that came crashing down before this week. So we are going to try and work a little different. Work with different people, a different neighborhood, and with more members. This week was tough but we have a lot of hope for the next week. We're Gunna Work Hard!
   I finished the Book of Mormon in Portuguese this past week. That was super gratifying! Now I'm working on the Doctrine and Covenants! And loving it!


22 July 2013 - Transferencia Emergencia (Emergency Transfers)

Holy Wow this week was an eventful one. It makes me laugh how long this week has felt, seriously its crazy! Let's start with last Tuesday. We were in a district meeting with the AP´s and everything was going great. But then the assistants got a phone call and they said that my companion was to be an emergency transfer! I couldn't help but laugh. I came to this area 3 weeks ago and I don't know where anything is, the members, the roads the neighborhood, nothing! Haha. So that same day we had to be in the mission office with all his stuff. So we went off, we forgot the cell phone, said goodbye to a few members, and packed up his stuff and went to the mission office. When we got there, there were a bunch of Elders in the office and I was scoping around to see which of all the elders would have the great privilege of being my companion! We started asking around and none of the elders were transferred... hmmmm.
But then came in Elder ________ an American that was in the MTC with me and has been having a lot of troubles with his companions. In the MTC I thought to myself, wow that guy is not my cup of tea, haha. And now he's my comp! I've heard a lot of stuff about him. That he's run away from his companion left the house all alone and a few other problems.... different things that he´s done. I remembered a story that mom told about her mission. That she was placed with someone that needed she help and patience. I'm feeling the same way, haha. That's basically what the president said to me when I went in for an interview, he said that Elder _________ needed help and the best way that I could help him was by being a good example. Okay :) But for now everything's going good with him. I'm working on my patience and trying to help him become a better missionary, which is something that he wants as well! So the work for the week finally got started and I realized that I'm going to have to do a lot of the talking. People have difficulty understanding my new comp speaking English. But he tries and that's something that I like. This past week someone asked me if I was imported!!!

Cleaning the baptismal font
   We were teaching a woman whose husband went to jail and we were helping her feel ready for her baptism. While we were teaching her husband who was in jail walked in the door. My heart seriously stopped as I remembered what happened on our last encounter. The woman also had no idea that he was set free and was just as afraid as I was. But it was all chill, he was just there to gather his stuff and go to his other house. But it was a tense moment. 
   It's been amazing to see how God has touched the hearts of some of the people that we have been visiting. Some have made serious sacrifices to go to church, and the hearts of some that didn't want anything have been softened. It's been a long hard road of persistence and patience. But we are starting to see the results!
   I love my mission, my companion, the members and the opportunity to become more and more like Christ, that's my purpose. Thank you all for your love and support and your prayers.


15 July 2013 Semana de Progresso (progressing week)

   This week was good! My companion and I are starting to get on the same page on how we should do the work, how we should teach people and what we can do to just work better. It's been great to see the difference that a little talking has done for the work here. We have many differences but we can get together on the same page when it comes to missionary work.
   Last week I had a startling experience with a man that was drunk and his wife. After that experience many neighbors of the couple were moved because of how alcohol changed the husband. Many of the people that lived nearby decided to listen with more intent to our message and many of them came to church this past Sunday, including one man who also drinks a lot. He came to church and really enjoyed his visit. And the members were very enthusiastic and grateful for our work. One blessing that came from last week's experience was that the woman that was abused has decide to be baptized. She really wanted to before the incident, but used her husband and the fact that they weren't married as an excuse to not go to church. But this past week we were very stern/ loving with her and she for sure felt the spirit and said that she would come to church rain or shine. And she stuck to her word and came to church along with five of her neighbors. It was great! We took up the whole sidewalk, haha.
    This week our Zone leader asked everyone in our Zone to get together in an area to work together and help the branch that was trying to become a ward. We all got there and were divided in groups, some would visit less-actives and others would do contacts in the street and invite people to get to know the church from the inside. The ZL and I went out to talk to people in the street. We almost had no success until the very end when a 15 year old boy accepted our offer to walk the halls of the church. He had a bunch of questions which was great and really liked his visit. Then when he was leaving I spotted a lady walking towards the entrance of the gate and went to go talk to her. She had two young girls and I started talking to her and invited her in to get to know the church and drink a bit of water. She accepted! She liked it and asked for the missionaries to pass by and visit her in her house. All in all the work went really well that day and we helped the ward out a bunch!
    I passed my one year mark! WoooWhooo! To celebrate I drew a bunch of random things on one of my white shirts (one that was stained because my pen exploded on it) and we went to a members house to burn it, haha. It's something that missionaries do, and me being a "pyro" who likes to play with fire, I've adopted the tradition. 6 month in the mission you burn a tie, 1 year a shirt and 1 year and 6 months you burn pants... I already know what pair of pants I'm gunna burn, my Costco pants that were once black but are now brown.
Burning of the HumpDay shirt!

   Everything's going great with me. I'm really enjoying my studies, conference talks, the Bible and the Book of Mormon! It's going great.
   I'm so thankful for the opportunity that I have to serve! I love my mission
   Thank you for all your love and support!
            Elder Ralph


8 July 2013 - Experiencia Tramatica (Dramatic Experience)

    OH.... this week was alright. I started the week off with a major headache and a fever and I wasn't sleeping really well. But I woke up one morning and it went away! But then my companion got sick with the same thing but worse! So the week started a little slow but we're all good now. Friday we were able to have a fireside with Elder Moroni Torgan who is an area seventy. He talked so openly with us I loved it! A few things he said have stuck really well with me. He said that we need to always stay with "the angel". Angels go to bed at 10:30 and wake up at 6:30, angels leave the house at 10:30 sharp. When you're not with angels you're with the devils. He taught us that the followers of Satan are after us. They want us to fall. He talked about the mission being like a race and you have to give your all, everything you have on the last stretch or last few months of your mission. So the fireside really helped me and my companion and we kicked it into high gear and we've changed a few ways that we have been doing the work. We have decided to work more with members, helping them find people that we can visit, that they can invite to church and family home evenings. So far it is going extremely well and the members are helping ALOT. We were able to get 18 references which is a ridiculous number for this area. We're stoked! :)
   So the mission is filled with experiences, one that I've never had in my life and a few that I've never wanted to have in my life. Saturday night we were teaching two women and a few kids about prayer. While we were teaching the husband of the woman we were teaching came home extremely drunk, and rowdy. We ended up finishing the lesson just fine with only a few interruptions, yelling and small arguments. We have been teaching him and trying to help him stop drinking so he could be baptized and marry his wife legally. From the moment he got home I was on my toes and placed my bag on the ground and watched the two of them argue, stop, argue again, then stop. Then it happened. He started hitting her, and I SNAPPED! Before I knew I was on top of him. I ran behind him and held down his arms to keep him from hitting her, he tried many times to throw me off him to set himself free, but I wouldn't let him. I held him there until he calmed down, about two minutes passed and I let him go. I jumped away because I was scared that he would go crazy on me, but I'm pretty sure he was too drunk to notice who was behind him. The woman who was hit called the police and the man went to jail that night. He only managed to hit her two times before I got to him but her face was so swollen, he didn't just hit, he punched, clobbered her. I don't think I will ever forget the sight. I was trembling, my heart racing, and in the end of it I just wanted to cry. It was So Sad, the way that alcohol changes a decent man into a monster. I will never hurt my wife, Never. Everyone was praising me and saying that what I did was so brave and all I could think was that anyone would have done what I did. But talking to the people that were there and even my companion, they wouldn't have done anything and just yelled at him to stop. I believe that God's hand is in the work that we do, He guides us, inspires us, helps us. I know that He put us there to help that poor woman. I can't imagine what would have happened to her if we weren't there. I am so thankful for the opportunity that I have to serve a mission for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He lives and loves every one of us.
   I love you all so much!
Elder Ralph